August 15, 2012

Having trouble getting into the regular blogging regimen, let’s see what happens after I get a few personal things straightened out ovber the next few days…

We’re in the “silly season” here in the Valley of the Sun. Anytime you hear a meteorologist calling for a “huge cool down” to a temperature of 102, you know where you’ve been has not been very pleasant. The last week has been miserable here – as I’ve said previously, it’s the Arizona equivalent of a late January / early February “cold snap” in New England – no one goes out, everyone hops from A/C environ to A/C environ.

I’m so glad I didn’t buy DirecTV’s “MLB Extra Innings” package to watch the Red Sox. They’re awful, and I’m hoping that this off-season management cleans house. There’s no one – and I do mean no one – on that team that shouldn’t be considered expendable. Who would want to spend valuable $ to watch such an unlikeable team? And I’d put 1B Adrian Gonzalez and Ps Josh Beckett and John Lackey at the top of the list.

Maybe it’s just me and my heightened sense of propriety, but I find VP Joe Biden’s “chains” remark beyond reprehensible, and the worst of a campaign that has been horrendous and classless to date. Not because of the words he actually said, but because of his descent into “Negro dialect” cadence to somehow make his audience think he was one of them. It’s the worst kind of race-baiting, something that is deeply beneath the office he holds. But then again, I’ve learned that there is nothing sacred anymore about the way this President and his Vice-President go about their business. It really is despicable and reprehensible, and one can only hope that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan can get elected to restore some kind of dignity to the office – I’ll tell you, it is long overdue.

If this is what this country is coming to I’m glad I only have rabbits, not children. You know, what goes around comes around. I know people – a frequent commenter is among them – sho sacrifice a lot to take care of their elderly parents in their time of need. I don’t mean to use the term sacrifice, as if they’re giving up something else unwillingly, it’s more an extension of love. Look, my parents washed me, fed me, and wiped my a** whe I was too young to do so, why should it be such a big deal to reciprocate when the tables are turned? That’s life. And to see it as anything else is deluding yourself. We’re all born helpless, we grow up, we grow old, we become dependent on others. Such is the nature of God’s creation.

…and if you don’t believe me, check this out. My thoughts and prayers for God’s comfort and peace go out to Eric.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 21:58 | Comments Off on A Few Thoughts
August 12, 2012

Yesterday we formally hit the wall as far as Arizona summer is concerned. It happens every year around this time: after three months of 100+ temps it’s not enough that the temps hit over 110, they do it on a day when the humidity is over 50% and a dust storm rolls in from the south, blanketing everything with a fine film of brown as you take a swim in a 93-degree pool to “cool off”.

Look, you take the good with the bad, and few who live in Arizona do so because of the summers, but it’s just a day like this that you long for days with a little chill in the air, the ground blanketed with colorful leaves and that wonderful musky smell of fallen leaves while brown oak leaves rustle in a November breeze. If you go out to the ocean you see the sea a cold, clear blue-gray and white-capped under crisp fall skies, creating a desire to find a cozy place with a fireplace to enjoy a cocktail or two with friends as the season and year begin to close in around everything while classical music like this plays in the background.

Unfortunately, Boccherini just doesn’t work under dust-filled skies and temperatures over 110.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:37 | Comments Off on Enough, Already!
August 11, 2012

giveusryanHave to admit to being presently surprised at Mitt Romney’s choice of Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan as his VP running mate. Honestly didn’t think dude had it in him. Me? I was resigned to Romney picking some milquetoast candidate like former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty or, even worse, Ohio senator Rob Portman – just what we need on the GOP side: a total snoozefest ticket to confirm what most Tea Party and conservative folks always dreaded about Romney to begin with: that, as much as he played hardball against his GOP opponents during the primaries, he’d do a John McCain and lay down and play loser during the general election.

The choice of Ryan shows that Romney plans on making this election not as much about everyday politics as much as a visionfor America? Are we to go the way of Europe and become an entitlement society where only a few hard-workers pay for the lesiure and benefits of a majority of people, with a bloated federal bureaucracy choosing who, what, and when people are to qualify for those benefits? Or, are we to return to ideals that makes America unique in the world – the idea that there are no equals when it comes to opportunity but equality in terms that anyone, if they’re willing to work hard enough and pursue their passions enough can achieve the American dream for themselves, whatever avenue that might take them.

Me? I think this country needs a “big vision” election, whether it likes it or not. Between the John Boehners, Mitch McConnells, Harry Reids, and Nancy Pelosis there are too many small-minded politicians; folks who are only concerned with winning the next election and not being criticized in the New York Times or Washington Post. This country is hurtling towards an economic disaster of biblical proportions: if not Mitt Romney, then who? If Barack Obama is given a second term, God only knows what this country will look like in 2016. I don’t think I’m over-dramatizing this by any stretch.

Hot Air’s Allahpundit, I think, speaks for the majority of conservatives and more than just a few Independents when he writes:

I would have voted for Ryan for president if he had run so, as you might expect, I like the pick. To me, it’s a “clear conscience” selection: We’re going to own our agenda, let our very best salesman make the pitch on the biggest possible stage, and have the country decide. If they want to send The One back for a second term knowing that the consequences are a near-term fiscal meltdown, hey, that’s democracy. At least, for once, they’ll have made a fully informed choice on this issue; if the electorate prefers the $15 Trillion-Dollar Man’s “vision” on how to solve this existential problem to Paul Ryan’s, I prefer to have a clear statement at the polls to that effect. [Slate.com’s] William Saletan is almost giddy over Ryan’s selection, not because he thinks it’s a sure winner for Democrats but because we’re finally guaranteed a meaningful argument on a matter of deepest consequence by a guy who can make it better than anyone else.

Forget about all the huffing and puffing of liberals and Democrats crowing about Ryan’s selection for VP – this is Back Obama’s worst nightmare come to pass. This isn’t a Sarah Palin who will be jerked around by a hungry media probing for weakness in experience or expertise; putting Paul Ryan on the ticket guarantees a debate over the kind of country America is to be starting in 2013. Now we know this is to be a watershed election: instead of bickering about wife-killer Romney and his tax returns, we can actually debate our larger socio-economic problems and solutions. And that’s great for the country – if people choose the socialist/soft communism model of Barack Obama, it won’t be because the nation wasn’t given a choice. If that’s the kind of nation people want, we’re done for; hopefully, I’ll be dead before things really start taking a nosedive.

Call me an idealist if you will, but I believe that, given the choice between a ticket that makes a positive argument for a return to fiscal sanity, personal freedom, and the ideals by which this nation was founded upon, and a cynical, class- and race-baiting ticket running solely on the politics of personal destruction the nation will prefer the former. Make no mistake about it: as Ulsterman’s White House Insider reports today, Barack Obama just sh*t his pants at the prospect of having to run against not just Mitt Romney, but a VP candidate who won’t be afraid to call the President and his circle of filthy liars for exactly what they are. After all, it’s not as if he hasn’t done it before.

One final and important note: as Paul Rahe notes, by broadening the scope of this election beyond unemployment rates, tax returns, and the pros and cons of venture capitaliam, down-ticket GOP House and Senate candidates now have a platform to run on to contrast themselves with their Democratic counterparts:

This will alter radically the dynamics of the race. The money spent by Obama trying to demonize Governor Romney will prove to be money entirely wasted. The election is not going to be about Mitt Romney. It is not going to be about the sexual revolution. It is not going to be about Bain Capital. It is going to be about the failed policies of Barack Obama, about their dangerous character, and about the sober, sound alternative the Republicans represent.

This will help the Republicans in Senate and House races immeasurably, for it will give Romney and Ryan coattails — now, without a doubt, the candidates in these other races have something concrete on which to run: repeal Obamacare, pare back the entitlements state, reform our system of taxation, and put our fiscal house in order. No one will doubt the capacity of the Republicans to rule.

I know it’s a crap-shoot: you don’t run “big idea” campaigns without some risk that peope, just don’t want to deal with it. I’m OK with that – if that’s the way the country wants to go, so be it. But at least with Paul Ryan as part of the ticket we’ll hash this out once and for all, for better or for worse. Congratulations to Mitt Romney for a very courageous decision – by changing the dynamics of the 2012 election irrevocably by exapanding it to include a vision of what America ought to be you done good.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 22:50 | Comments Off on An Excellent Choice
August 7, 2012

OK, I’ll admit I went through a little bit of a blogging “internal crisis” that lots of bloggers go through from time to time – you know, the big questions:

1. Does anyone care about what I write?
2. Do I care what I write?
3. Is there anyone out there?
4. Am I just wasting my time?

I’m actually not sure about the answers to any of these questions, but I have to admit I miss being forced to “feed the blog” from time to time. So I will as best I can.

Two links for today:

1. Surfin’ goats. Money quote: “I like surfing, so I figured the goats would like surfing.” Sounds logical to me, I mean, who wouldn’t like surfing. I’m guessing our rabbits…

2. One of the highlights of the Beach Boys 50th anniversary tour: the band gathered around Brian Wilson’s grand piano to kick off the second half of the show by singing a great Sunflower chestnut, Add Some Music To Your Day. Enjoy!

And, no, since I’ve been gone the Red Sox haven’t changed. They stink, but more than that, they’re one of the most unlikeable BoSox teams I can remember. Too many prima donas, not enough ballplayers who would kill to win. And even usually dependable NESN broadcasters Don Orsillo and Jemy Remy sound a little stale, as if they know it as well.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 23:48 | Comments (3)
August 4, 2012

Always loved this song, Vic Damone’s version is great, too bad I can’t find Frank Sinatra’s, which was the absolute best.

Taking a bit of a break from blogging, too much going on right now. Be back soon.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 23:28 | Comments Off on On The South Side Of Chicago
August 3, 2012

guess_who Remember The Guess Who? They were always a very underrated band, certainly a very popular and successful late-60’s/early-to-mid ’70s band. Their music brings back a lot of fond memories; here are a songs you’re all bound to remember as well. Enjoy!

15. No Sugar Tonight / New Mother Nature – great memories from 1970, love the Fender Rhodes piano featured in NMW, very distinctive. I hear this song and I think of a very cute high school classmate named Pam Mullen; I was absolutely in love with her but was too much of a geek to tell her so! Can’t help but wonder how her life turned out…

14. Share The Land. This tune reminds me of October 1970 and weekend Tewksbury Teen Theatre Workshop rehearsals playing Alfred Doolittle in “My Fair Lady” with Maryann Plunkett. She ended up doing Broadway and I actually got to see her after one of her performances there. God, she was heads and tails abover everyone else at that time, and boy, you could tell! She also did a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, as I recall. Who could ever think The Great White Shank would ever share the stage with such greatness?

13. Hand Me Down World. Always liked this tune.

12. Bus Rider – a very rockin’ Burton Cummings vocal. I’d dedicate it to my sister-in-law, but she refuses to ride the Phoenix bus system!

11. No Time. This back before Randy Bachman left the band. They had a little more commercial “pop” sound then, but it was still a great tune. I remember my brother Mark and I playing that 45 over and over.

10. Your Nashville Sneakers – from their 1972 album Rockin’ – still one of my all-time favorite albums. I remember Mark and I picking it up at Hampton Beach for 99 cents. We took it home and absolutely fell in love with it – played it for days on end. We worked this tune into our band Top Priority‘s wedding/dance repertoire immediately, and our keyboard player Jerry “Keys” Palma played it great. Great memories!

9. Clap For The Wolfman. “It’s all accordin’ to how your boogaloo situation stands, y’understand?”. Sure, it’s a stupid song, but Burton Cummings’ vocal is really solid here. He was one of the best, as far as I’m concerned one of the top 5 vocalists ever in rock n’ roll.

8. Undun. Great memories of me and my friend Paul Porcella back in 1969. The song came out in the fall, same time as The Beatles’ Abbey Road.

7. Hang On To Your Life. It’s just a very cool song. 1970 psychedelic during the psychedelic era.

6. American Woman. Undoubtedly their best known tune – great riff. I like it too, and wore out the grooves on the 45 when it came out in early 1970. Boy, what memories this song brings back!

5. Rain Dance – this was such a cool song, has a great vibe. “Where’d you get the gun, John?”

4. Star Baby – I remember this tune from 1974, working at Liberty Mutual driving a Ford Torino station wagon between Burlington and Boston twice a day to drop off mail. Good times. Their last top 40 hit, I believe. Features a GREAT Kurt Winter solo.

3. Sour Suite. Don’t remember when it came out – 1971? – but it’s a very “November”-sounding tune to me – very stark, lonely, and haunting. I like it a lot, makes me think of of bare trees and brown oak leaves on a chilly New England winter morning. A magnificent Burton Cummings performance, particularly love the cellos. “Whatever happened to homes as opposed to houses… it’s just like 46201. There’s definitely got to be a few small changes made…”

2. So Long, Bannatyne. Don’t know why I like this song so much, but it’s kinda bluesy, and a good one. Sounds very oh-so-Canadian to me! For the band it was autobiographical; from a comment on the YouTube video:

They are singing about their success. Kurt Winter used to live in the apartment building in the album cover on Bannatyne Ave. Then when they started making money, he bought the house on the other side of the cover on Chevrier Blvd. Its the house he lived in until he died. He was an awesome guitar player in the best band ever.

Can’t disagree with that – Kurt Winter was one of my favorite all-time favorite guitarists.

1. Heartbroken Bopper. I know it’s not one of their better-known songs, but I just love it. What a riff. I remember deciding one day in 1979 to break up with my then-girlfriend while listening to this very song. Not sure if that was the best decision at the time, but…

Honorable mention: Three more tunes from 1972’s “Rockin” LP: Don’t You Want Me – play it loud and listen to the lyrics, they’re hysterical. Also, the band’s respectful treatment of Phil Phillips’ classic, Sea Of Love, and a fun, rousing send-up of Johnny Horton’s old hit Running Bear. Three classic tunes from a truly classic album.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:43 | Comment (1)
August 2, 2012

You’re bound to hear lots of chatter in the coming days and weeks about the Obama campaign pushing Mitt Romney to release more years of tax returns. In my view, this argument is easily turned on it’s head: Romney should refuse to release anything further until President Obama de-classifies his academic, medical, selective service, and law firm records; explains his Connecticut-issued SSN and the assertion of Kenyan birth in his literary agent’s publicity materials, and lets an independent panel view, handle, and analyze the hard copy of his long-form birth certificate.

Just don’t hold your breath waiting for this to happen. (Hat tip to Matt in NYC)

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 07:57 | Comments Off on Political Thought Of The Day
August 1, 2012

After hearing about the big “Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day” action announced by Mike Huckabee and reading in various blogs about the throngs of people across the country who were flocking to their local Chicks to support owner Dan Cathy’s right to speak in support of Christian marriage and stand up to thuggish, intolerant liberal morons like Boston mayor “Mumbles” Menino and others of his ilk in New York, Chicago, and elsewhere, I just had to go out and grab lunch to see what was going on.

Our local Chick is a few miles away, right on a main north-south street, and even before I had reached the main intersection prior to where the restaurant sat you could already tell it was absolute bedlam. I counted the minutes it took me from the moment I got in line for the drive-thru until I drove away from the pick-up window: 79 minutes. Cars and people were everywhere, and what a festive gathering it was: young, old, families, singles, businessmen, cars, trucks, you name it – it seemed like all of Gilbert was there. A long line of people snaked from the restaurant entrance out into the parking lot, many standing under the hot sun on a 100+ degree day. It was amazing. And then something really astounding happened: a lady drove up in a SUV, parked it on the side of the lot, and she and her teenage daughter opened the back up and started handing out bottles of water to anyone in line who wanted one. Very cool.

My experience matched that of National Review Online’s Corner blog correspondent John O’Sullivan‘s:

At 3.15 p.m. there was still a line of cars around the Chick-Fil-A building with a second line of people spreading out from the restaurant into the parking lot, where the temperature had to be well over 90 degrees. The line went quickly, thank goodness, because the staff was both incredibly energetic and cheerful.

The atmosphere was a festive one. No one seemed in the grip of any of the darker emotions. I witnessed nothing hateful. Some people said they believed in “Biblical marriage” — that was the most shocking remark I heard. Most of those I spoke to declared that they had turned up to show their support for the company’s rights to free speech. Overall the sense was that of a cheerful community rebellion against political correctness and the intolerance of the professionally tolerant. Maybe, too, they were slightly surprised at how many people felt as they did. I would take it seriously if I were a politician. That’s how Hope and Change begin.

It was really something to see – a real community of folks coming together to celebrate – and make a statement about – the right to religious belief and freedom of speech and thought in this country. And it was heartwarming to see regular folks – the real silent majority in this country – stand up to the militant gay rights agenda and the politicians and elitists in the lamestream dino-media who would make you think 80% of the world is gay and it’s just us dumb, ignorant heterosexuals who are the intolerant ones. And while this scene was played out in hundreds upon hundreds of other locations across the US, don’t expect to read anything nearly accurate about it in the lamestream dino-media. Because it doesn’t fit their agenda or political and/or elitist worldviews. But that’s OK by me. I’d rather the Democrats, the Obama campaign, and their Beltway bum-kissers all huddle together with their heads in the sand – it will be much more fun come November 7th.

Oh, and the small order of nuggets and the spicy chicken sandwich I ordered were awesome.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 17:54 | Comments (2)

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