February 19, 2012

The topic came up at some bar in Las Vegas about me not knowing who the singer Adele was. I guess she’s pretty hot stuff, given that her “21” CD is burning the top of the Billboard charts. To me sounds like a cross between Bonnie Raitt and Stephanie Corby, so she’s no ground-breaker – at least as far as I’m concerned. Besides, if I’m to listen to young English talent, Charlotte Church is more pleasing to these ears. Not to mention more talented.

Both The Funny Guy and Doggy Duval were giving me crap about what I listen to – I mean, Dave Navarro – are you kidding me? Yeah, I’m gonna run out and get every Jane’s Addiction CD I can find. Not! Perhaps it’s a combination of my age, lifestyle (I spend very little time in my car since I don’t commute), and the sun culture here in AZ, but when I listen to music I’m looking to relax, not looking for something hip and edgy, and that’s nothing to be ashamed about. It all comes down to taste.

Those who frequent this blog might get the idea that the only music I listen to are the Beach Boys and the Sandals, which is not true. While it’s true they’re never very far from my play list when I do listen to music, I think my tastes are fairly eclectic. If I were to list my all-time top ten favorite artists, you’d see the Beatles, the Beach Boys, The Sandals, Pink Floyd, the Ramones, the Doors, Fleetwood Mac, Elvis, Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, and The Ronettes in there, but mostly I’m not as much tied to particular artists as to genres of music whenever a certain fancy strikes me: surf music old and modern for sure, Phil Spector’s “Wall of Sound” productions, “doo wop” music of the ’50s and early ’60s, ragtime for sure, classical (whenever October and November come around), New Orleans zydeco and Delta blues (especially live), exotica music (a modern example by Waitiki here and here), and, most recently, a wide range of what I would call “tropical breeze” music – a genre that comprises anything from soft surf to the “gulf and western” sounds of Jimmy Buffett and Kenny Chesney to Cuban, Jamaican, Hawaiian, Caribbean, and Brazilian sounds.

To give you an example of just a few things I’ve been listening to as of late:

Any version of “Flamingo” is OK by me, but lately I’ve discovered Earl Bostic’s version and dig the bass and vibraphone backing.

On the patio with the palm trees rustling on a warm late afternoon, The Sandals’ “Tradewinds” always sounds great.

Of course, Alan Jackson, Kenny Chesney and Jimmy Buffett are must-haves for the patio song mix.

But that’s not to say sultry afternoons and late nights aren’t a good time for some Joplin rags like this and this.

Mellow surf music, both old and new.

Lately, I’m really into instrumentals by guitarists Tim Heintz and Ramon Stagnaro – both frequent commenter Jana’s kind of music.

Music featuring Stan “The Man” Getz and Antonio Carlos Jobim – augmented with the great Astrud Gilberto are a great combo.

The Lazy Gators doin’ zydeco good, just like Beausoleil.

Anything by Hawaiian Style Band, like this and this are favorites.

Jimmy Cliff’s Sitting In Limbo and The Sandpipers’ Guantanamera make my soul long for a place where turquoise waters lap against the sand and palm trees sway.

Bob Marley’s Redemption Song and anything by Perez Prado.

I’ve recently checked out some really great Nat King Cole latin-flavored recordings like this and this. Definitely getting added into my “Tropical Breezes” compilation.

Anything by Texas Tornados, like this and this. Does it get any better?

These are just a few. So for those who want to complain about The Great White Shank being some kind of dinosaur, all I can do is offer up this quote from Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason, responding to criticism by the punk rockers of the late ’70s who thought them passe: “you certainly don’t want the world to be overrun with dinosaurs, but it’s good to have a few of them still roaming about”.

And yes, I remember what good rock music used to sound like – you know, like this, this, and this. I can still classic rock, but excuse me if 90% of what people call “rock” and heavy metal nowadays is nothing but music spelled n-o-i-s-e. I’ve grown up and learned to find music that fits my life and the way I want to live.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:54 | Comments (5)
February 18, 2012

Funny how this topic appeared just after my return from Vegas. Long story short: last weekend, while a few of the Goodboys were in Las Vegas, the 2012 CPAC Conference (a gathering of conservatives) was held in Washington, D.C. Evidently, in the aftermath of the conference there was a whole lot of commotion about the manner of dress of some of the younger people and bloggers who had attended. At the center of the controversy was Tina Korbe, a blogger from Hot Air, one of my daily go-to blogs. Tina’s not only a good writer with a gift for writing clearly and concisely, but she’s also very easy on the eyes (if you know what I mean).

At any rate, this video of Tina and her fellow Hot Air blogger Ed Morrissey evidently caught the wrath of more than a few conservative bloggers. Erick Erickson of Red State in effect, told her and those of her ilk “to grow up”. Robert Stacy McCain openly asked “Who wants to see Tina Korbe’s thighs?” (a rhetorical question, I’m sure), and Melissa Clouthier bemoaned “the Jersey Shore-ification of our young people”.

Me? I think this is all a bunch of hooey, if you don’t mind me saying. I’m going to side with Datetechguy (Hat tip: Instapundit) on this one and simply say, if you’ve got it, what’s the harm in flaunting it:

It is an invariable truth of CPAC that there is, every year, an inordinate number of incredible looking women dressed in a rather noticeable way.

As a man who is married, but not dead…this is not a fact that goes unnoticed.

There are three simple ways to look at this and I’m going to say them:

As a man: If women beautiful women choose to dress in a way that shows off their various assets I will notice them.

As a person trying to carry himself as a gentleman: I will do my best to not allow noticing a beautiful woman to override my dealings with her as a person or a blogger or a subject of an interview.

My advice to men is this: If a woman is so attractive as to be a distraction compliment the women on it right way and get it out-of-the-way, that way it won’t be on the back of your mind when doing other things.

My advice to women is this: It’s not for me to tell you how to dress, but if you choose to dress in a way that makes men notice then 1. Don’t be surprised if men notice you. 2. Don’t be offended if they compliment you.

I write this while fondly recalling sitting at Wynn‘s Parasol Up bar a week ago Friday night and watching all the pretty people go by. Girls dressed to the nines, the guys accompanying them – amazingly – not quite so much (what a bunch of dopes). Now, Wynn is absolutely the best place for this form of recreation. The Hemingway Daiquiris were cold and the right combination of tart/sweet, the company of my fellow Goodboys both fun and enjoyable, and it was hard not to notice that the girls walking by seemed to have cornered the market on very short mini-skirts and stiletto heels. Most could (and did) pull it off to varying degrees, a couple failed dismally. But who was I to say?

As Datetechguy mentions above, I’m married but I’m not dead. I love my wife, but I appreciate a pretty girl who knows how to dress (I’m always amazed at the number of girls who don’t) as much as anyone. Personally, I think I’d make a great fashion consultant at a local mall store, because I have a good sense of taste, style, and coordination (something handed down to me, I’m sure, from my Mom, who always knew how to dress me right as a kid). And my feeling is this: if you’re young and attractive, by all means go for it. If God gave you a great figure, then who am I to judge how you dress and present yourself? Others of both sexes may not like it, may not respect you, and may even resent you for it, but as a red-blooded American heterosexual (and proud of it), I’m not one of them.

Youth and beauty don’t last forever, but from someone on this side of middle age, it’s always appreciated when it’s done with taste, class, and appreciation. Like Datetechguy, I have to admit I didn’t even notice Tina’s outfit until I heard about the controversy. I just thought she was an attractive, intelligent young woman asking a GOP candidate for President good questions who would also look completely at home at Wynn on a Friday night in Vegas. And what’s so wrong with that?

So to Erick, Robert, Melissa and all the other prudes out there, I can only say: lighten up.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 00:15 | Comments (0)
February 17, 2012

beach_boys_50 The summer of 2012 promises to be an exciting time for Beach Boys fans everywhere, as five surviving members – Brian Wilson, Mike Love, and Alan Jardine, Bruce Johnston, and David Marks – reunite for both a worldwide tour and a new album to mark the legendary band’s 50th anniversary.

For those not so in the know, Brian, Mike, and Alan were original members (with the late Carl Wilson and Dennis Wilson) when the band first started recording back in 1962. When Jardine went off to Ohio to attend college shortly thereafter, Marks joined the band for the next year and played rhythm guitar on the band’s first four albums before Jardine took his place for good. When Brian gave up touring in 1964, Johnston joined the band and, with the exception of a seven-year hiatus in the ’70s, has been a member of the band since. What’s truly intriguing about this reunion is that these five members have never toured together before.

While there’s no way this incarnation of the band can ever replace the soul and spirit of Carl and Dennis, the prospect of a reunion tour and album is pretty exciting and something to look forward to. Given the oftentimes stormy relationship between Love, Wilson, and Jardine, it’ll be interesting to see how the reunion goes and how well it holds together over the duration. One thing is for sure: the music itself promises to be solid, as the band will be backed up by long-time members of Brian’s current band supplemented with Scott Totten (guitar) and John Cowsill (drums) from the Beach Boys band that has backed Love and Johnston for the past few years.

If the first released cut from their new album, a remake of Do It Again, is any indication of what we can expect from this reunion, it oughta be something to see. Lots of “good vibrations” there….

Welcome back, boys – Carl and Dennis would be proud, I think. Now I just have to figure out where and how I’m going to get to see them.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:36 | Comments (10)
February 16, 2012

Been a crazy day at work. Seems as if it’s the second day after you return from vacation – even if you’re gone for just a couple of days – that’s always the worst. Still, there are a few items worth mentioning.

We passed by this joint the night we went downtown to Fremont Street. The sign outside says if you weigh more than 350 lbs you eat for free. Seriously.

And speaking of food, given the fact that the government isn’t to be trusted to do anything right, this doesn’t surprise me. Given the results of my diet, I think I’ll stick to what I’m doing. High protein, low carbs, no high-fructose corn syrup, very moderate alcohol and caffeine are the way to go. And while talking about moderation, don’t forget those aggressive walks.

Jimmy Carter’s right – the Occupy Wall Street movement has been somewhat successful – successful, that is, if you’re a rapist who likes living in squalor and attracting rats.

That was a great Sunday finale to watch at Pebble Beach. Phil’s game looked as good as it ever has, while Tiger Woods showed he still hasn’t put four really good rounds together at a full-field event. What the story really is, however, is the undeniable fact that Tiger is just another good golfer in a sport filled with good golfers. The fear factor just isn’t there anymore, and without that, he’s lost one of the major weapons he always used to his advantage.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:09 | Comments (0)
February 15, 2012

A wonderful weekend was had by all in it-never-fails-to-amaze “Sin City”. Every day featured fun and enjoyable moments, but there were a few disappointments. Chalk it all up to the “Vegas Vibe”. When it comes to Vegas hospitality is rule #1. Why? Because, whether you’re shopping, golfing, gambling or recreating (in every way and form imaginable), the competition is too fierce not to always put your best forward. There are just too many restaurants, casinos, bars, shops, pretty girls, and golf courses more than happy to take your money if someone else doesn’t want to work for it hard enough. Hence, the hits and misses this year were all geared to hospitality or the lack thereof.

Hits: The usual Goodboys stops never failed to please and impress. Parasol Up and Down bars at Wynn were fantastic. The Hemingway Daiquiris were no longer on their specialty cocktail menu, but the staff was more than happy to make them. Whether it was Friday night inside, checking out all the action (and boy, was there action!), or Sunday afternoon relaxing lakeside just across from the waterfall, the folks at Wynn know how to do it right – all the time. The Peppermill was as it always is: great steak and eggs in the restaurant, yakkin’ with the same bartenders we’ve come to know for the past eight years (Bill and Gary) in the legendary Fireside Lounge. It’s just a fun place and a must-visit. Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Las Vegas, where the bartender went out of his way to make sure the Tiger / Phil matchup at Pebble Beach was front and center at the “5 O’Clock Somewhere” Bar while making me a couple of Bubba’s Big Bamboos (again, a cocktail no longer on the menu but willingly and happily made), is just a great stop. The Cabo Wabo Cantina is a great place for margaritas, and Michelle the bartender was not only easy on the eyes, but fun to talk to as well. The I-Bar at the Rio was the kind of wild and crazy party scene you’d expect very very late on a Saturday night. The Hog and Heifers Saloon, the only bright spot in an otherwise-dismal visit downtown. Let’s just say words alone wouldn’t adequately describe its uniqueness. While the Palm Course at Angel Park was fairly ordinary, the day was warm and beautiful, and the staff there was their usual outgoing and accommodating selves. You really feel like you’re on vacation whenever you head to Angel Park. They too know how to do it right.

Misses: We stayed at Treasure Island for the second year in a row, but won’t again. First off, the folks at the Breeze Bar couldn’t have been less interested in serving the clientele (and it wasn’t just us, we heard the same complaint from others). There’s simply no excuse to wait ten minutes on a Friday afternoon in Vegas to even be acknowledged, let alone served. It was the same everywhere else at TI: service that was sometimes competent enough, other times outright poor, all the time lacking in enthusiasm and a sense of welcoming. The trip downtown to Fremont Street was by and large, a disappointment. With the exception of the H & H Saloon, it just seemed old, tacky, and lacking in any serious vibe. While everything there is definitely cheaper than what you’d get on the Strip (by and large), when I go to Vegas, time is precious and you don’t want to be experimenting hoping something pans out. Live and learn.

All and all, it was another fun weekend. Typical for Vegas, it’s a weekend you start looking forward to as soon as the holidays arrive. By Monday of that week you can’t wait to get there; by the following Monday you’re ready to leave. Yet within just a few days you’re already missing it and can’t wait to get back. I guess that’s why a weekend in Las Vegas is unlike any other.

Filed in: Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 00:09 | Comments (0)
February 14, 2012

No roses on this Valentine’s Day, but boy do we have petunias! The petunias in our backyard pots always look so beautiful and full this time of year. Come May they’ll be all leggy looking and ready to be fried as soon as the temperatures hit the high 90s. It’s sad to think about, but it makes you realize the importance of appreciating the beauty of every day you have life in and around you.

petunias1

petunias2

Fact is, nothing lasts forever. There is the beauty of God’s creation all around you, even if sometimes you just have to look a little harder…

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:35 | Comment (1)
February 13, 2012

From the southwest corner of our backyard:

flamingos_and_buddah

A song comes to mind

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:25 | Comments (0)
February 12, 2012

We’ve been doing Omaha Steaks for our beef, burgers, and hot dogs for several years now. To me, they’re the Jimmy Buffett of the mail-order beef industry – what I mean is, they somehow identified a niche product and proceeded to drive a 16-wheeler through it. Jimmy does his Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico country/folk, Omaha Steaks does mail-order beef.

Like with any other product, with Omaha Steaks you have to be careful about what you buy: identify what they do best and avoid the rest. For us, we like being able to order smaller cuts of high-quality beef (for example, the 6 oz. ribeyes and tenderloins) that are out of this world. But just about everything they have is good, and the prices are comparable to what you’d get in the local supermarket. As a consumer, I respect the way they market themselves – once they get you through their “door” you’ll never lack for communication from them. Snail mail and e-mail, you’ll never feel lonely.

As they’ve expanded beyond beef, their quality has remained pretty much the same. Their beef lasagna dish for two is good, their pot roast is to die for, and their chateaubriand for two is a Christmas Eve staple in The Great White Shank’s household – even with three people you have enough for leftovers. The seafood they sell is excellent as well. What we’ve found you need to stay away from is the side dishes and desserts, which (I personally think) is where they make their money. They’re good, but they’re also expensive considering that a lot of times you can make the same dishes at home for much less.

Interestingly, they don’t make a macaroni and cheese dish – I bet it would be good. But then again, since I’ve been on my diet, I dream constantly about macaroni and cheese, even though it’s hardly one of my favorite dishes. Perhaps my body is trying to tell me something.

Am I rambling? Actually, come to think about it, I have no clue as to why I started this post to begin with…

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:08 | Comments (3)
February 11, 2012

Ever since I got my Republican primary ballot the other day, I’ve been heming and hawing over who I was going to vote for. I knew it wasn’t going to be for Newt Gingrich: for me, his whining and petulant tone ever since his South Carolina primary win has really soured me on him – which is too bad. I do think he has the best ideas of all the candidates still left in the race, but if I want whiny and petulant in the Oval Office, I can simply vote for Back Obama’s re-election.

But what about the other three? Ron Paul, with his stances on the size and role of the federal government and our reckless monetary and fiscal policy has actually started to grow on me, but there’s something about him that makes me very uneasy. Mitt Romney, simply, put has not closed the deal with me. I don’t know if I like him or not, but I sure don’t trust him. Which leaves me with former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum. Because his reasons for choosing Santorum mirror my own, I’ll let Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey do the talking for me:

Before I explain that decision, let’s be clear. I could cast a vote happily for Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich in a general election. Both are massive improvements over the current incumbent, and both have admirable qualities that would reflect well on the GOP once in office — even if those admirable qualities aren’t always on display now. I will enthusiastically support any of those three men should they win the nomination. My focus will be on beating Barack Obama and promoting the conservative agenda, in that order, throughout 2012, and I also believe that any of those three could beat Obama in a general election campaign.

Why Santorum? In my estimation, Santorum is the last consistent conservative standing, and the only one both promoting the conservative agenda and campaigning as a conservative in the race. That doesn’t make Santorum perfect; he lacks the executive experience I’d like to see, and some of his positions in the past and present give me pause. However, compared to the heterodoxies of his competitors in the GOP race, Santorum has a superior record on promoting conservative policies and values.

Even more than that, though, Santorum has demonstrated a level of personal integrity in this race that outshines the rest of the field. Santorum has campaigned with blue-collar Reagan Democrats in mind, pushing for an economic plan that would revitalize manufacturing and small business. He could easily have tipped over into class-warfare populism while Gingrich and Romney bashed each other over their work at Bain and Freddie Mac in order to ingratiate himself with that sector by playing on latent envy. Instead, he defended capitalism and both of his competitors on the campaign trail more effectively than either could defend themselves. In contrast, Romney keeps demonstrating a lack of fluency in conservative politics and philosophy, while Gingrich has conducted a personal, angry campaign that threatens to reinforce every negative stereotype about conservatives, both at times putting themselves and their ambitions above the party they seek to lead.

My vote in the Arizona GOP Primary goes to Rick Santorum.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 00:58 | Comment (1)
February 10, 2012

vegasthumb Sure, I’ve got a mountain of debt that needs to be attacked this year, but the one thing I simply will not give up is my weekend in Las Vegas with some of the Goodboys. We’ve been going the weekend after Super Bowl for (we think) seven or eight years, and every year it gets better – not because the place has changed any (after all, Vegas to me is as much a state of mind as whatever or however changes incur on and around the Strip), but because we’ve all gotten older and wiser, and, I’m guessing, more appreciative of the whole tradition of getting together as friends for a brief interlude from the stresses and cares of our daily lives.

Me, what I love about Las Vegas most of all is its other-worldliness, the things you can or would do there that are just so far beyond anything you would do in the town you live in. Sure, there are the casinos, the bars, the strip clubs, the gambling, the restaurants, the people and the people-watching (as far as I’m concerned, the latter is the best thing about Vegas), but it’s just the fact that money means nothing, as long as you have it. The saying goes, “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”, but my creed is something my grandfather told me a long time ago – “don’t go looking for trouble unless you expect to find it”. I get as much joy out of a fun round of golf or an afternoon at the hotel spa or just getting away as I do anything else anymore. But the memories last forever.

Here’s a Vegas story that kind of summarizes what the whole town is all about: it’s an early Sunday morning several years back, and the boys have been living large all day long. Around two in the morning, me and fellow Goodboy Steve “Killer” Kowalski head back to the hotel with every intention of calling it a night, but we’re both so wired that, as I’m putting the key card in our room door, we look at each other and say, “Nah”, and head back out. So we’re at some bar, and now I’ve got the heartburn real bad. I take out a $50, toss it on the bar, and say to the bartender, “Kahlua sombreros, heavy on the milk, and keep ’em comng.” Which he faithfully does. And every time I finish one, the next time I look down there’s another waiting for me. I mean, you’d never even think of do something like that in your home town, but in Vegas, it’s something you wouldn’t even think twice about.

Anyways, all I’m trying to say is that in Vegas you can bend the rules to your heart’s content. You can’t take the city, the gambling, the money, or the girls too seriously – those who do often find themselves in a world of hurt. You can have a good time, but you gotta be smart and always have your wits about you. It requires kind of a self-induced controlled nuclear chain reaction. Have a good time, but don’t do anything stupid or something you’d regret down the line. Because the temptations are always there, and Vegas thrives on temptation and the weak. Which is why I love it. It’s a town where you can’t wait to get there, and three days days later you’re glad to get out alive with the shirt on your back. Then two days later you find yourself anticipating the opportunity to get back and do it all over again.

Viva Las Vegas! Boss, take me out, dude…

Filed in: Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 00:47 | Comments (0)

goodboys.jpg


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