March 18, 2014

Hard to believe it’s been a year since I kicked off my Golf Quest 2013 effort with my first of three lessons with my swing guru, Alex Black. Since that time I’ve hit thousands of balls, spent hundreds of hours hitting balls and practicing, and played 25 rounds of golf shooting from a low of 90 to a high of 112. In that year, I dropped my average score from a pre-Alex 108 to a 103, but, more importantly, I’ve been able to play a more consistent (and enjoyable) brand of golf along the way. I went from hating the driving range to loving it, and from finding every excuse to hide my game and swing from others to having no fear as to who I’m banging balls next to at the range.

But there’s work still left to be done.

I’ll admit, after a year of committed golf under my belt I’ve gotten a little greedy as to what my ultimate goal ought to be. I thought I would be satisfied playing an average round at a 1 1/2 bogey pace (shooting anywhere between, say, 95 and 100), but after getting a taste of a few rounds in the low 90s and knowing that, even with my abysmal course management – where I throw away at least a dozen strokes a round – I can still get away with high 90s and low 100s, I know bogey golf is attainable. The question is, how to go about it?

First of all, as I mentioned above, my course management absolutely, positively has to improve. To shoot bogey golf you can still make a mistake, but you can’t compound it by making mistakes on top of it or repeating the same mistake over and over. So there’s some serious work to do in my mental approach. For whatever reason, I tend to be a little ADD out there on the course; the game gets too fast for me and I lose my focus instead of just taking each shot one at a time and slow the game down to a single hole. They say self-awareness is half the battle – now I need to learn to put a few ideas I have into practice.

The second course of action is refining my swing. Right now, I’m very inconsistent in my transition from backswing to downswing and getting my weight shifted from back to front. Of course, inconsistency is the mark of an amateur, but improving the number of successful transitions means increasing the number of solid golf swings, thereby reducing my interactions with trouble and lowering my scores. You can’t shoot bogey golf if you’re going to be hitting three after a drop on the tee or skulling balls from the middle of the fairway into sand traps or water hazards. And that’s where Alex will come in. It’s been over nine months since my last lesson, so it will be good for us to have a little touch-base where he can take a look at where my swing is and what improvements can be made in the transitions department.

We’re just four months away from the 2014 Goodboys Invitational. Back in New England, the snow is receding and I have a hunch Robin redbreast has already made his first appearance. Pretty soon the chatter will start up (who’s my partner? where are we going to play?) so it’s time to kick off a new year with new goals and a fresh approach. With the temps here already in the low to mid-80s and pool season just weeks away, there’s not a moment to lose, is there?

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 00:49 | Comments Off on Transition Mission
March 17, 2014

Ah, St. Patrick’s Day. How times have changed. Long gone are the crazy, boozy decade of the 80s where friends and mates from our softball team would bar-hop our way around the crowded taverns and dives of downtown Lowell, listening to bad Irish music and wolfing down salty corned beef and cabbage dinners on plastic plates that made you thirsty for more beer. Those were the days when March 17th meant that softball season was just around the corner, a “high holy day” where attendance was required, if only to make sure everyone emerged from the collective post-New Year’s winter hibernation safe and sound and ready to play ball. I have lots of fond memories of those days, remembering just how the weather was different from year to year – one year a bar or two would have an outside tent and folks would be out in shirt sleeves, another year we’d all be bundled up and trudging over snow piles on the sides of the roads and freezing our butts off.

The good old days, for sure. Somebody queue up Boston pol of old Albert L. “Dapper” O’Neill’s “The Irish Belly Dancer” on the jukebox. And, of course, we all need to hear “The Funny Guy” Andrusiatis tell his leprechaun joke for the millionth time.

Fortunately, we all made it through those years safe and sound, though how is anyone’s guess. Just the luck of the Irish (and non-Irish), I guess.

Nowadays, it’s just corned beef and cabbage here at the house and listening to some Irish music live from Dublin over the Internet. Still, just the day itself is enough to conjure up memories of days and friends and times long past. A few of us are still around as Goodboys, a few have passed on, and more than a few friends and acquaintances (not to mention the bars and dives we used to frequent) have been lost to antiquity. Which in some cases may not be a bad thing!

So Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all from the Goodboys and Goodboys Nation weblog.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 09:05 | Comments (2)
March 15, 2014

A few items while heading into a very busy weekend. With company coming next week there’s much cleaning and work to do both inside and out.

I read stories like this and get sick to my stomach imagining the horror of what it must have been like in that airplane cabin. I mean, under the best of circumstances you’re confined in a small place with no place to go and nothing you can do about it. Add in a hijacking and you’re at the mercy of events spiraling out of your control. You’re screwed. I know the chances of anything like that are exceedingly small, but whenever I board a plane I can’t help but think about the possibilities and what an awful way to die it would be. But that’s what 9/11 will do to you.

Might be time for John Daly to consider another vocation. Ouch.

He started with a tee shot into the water. He had about 270 yards to cover the lake after his penalty drop and failed twice. From there, he hit a smother-hook well to the left of the water, only to hit what he described as a shank with his 7-iron well right of the green. He took three chips to reach the green and one-putted for a 12.

”I got two good drops and hit a heel-cut 3-wood into the water,” he said. ”Then I shanked a 7-iron, chili-dipped a chip, it was buried, didn’t get that out. … It was a good 12. I got up-and-down for 12.”

I mean, he’s still popular out on tour but he looks to me to be in terrible shape, and he’s struggling with his golf game to boot. Makes you wonder if he’s just living off of past glories and taking the place of someone who deserves a shot at their own glory.

What is David Ortiz’s problem? Man, he’s got three World Series rings, he’s popular beyond belief and living a life few can even imagine, and he’s grousing about his situation. David, grow up. Embrace everything you have. The shelf life of a ballplayer is so short. Don’t %$#@! it up.

Folks who follow this blog know I’m no fan of President Barack Obama, but I read stuff like this and wonder who on God’s green earth trusts anything this guy has to say anymore. I mean, how many outright lies can a President end up spewing over time before people tune him out altogether?

I’m no NBA fan by any means but this idea to me looks totally stupid. Why can’t they just sell them to fans and leave the ballplayers alone?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 17:17 | Comments Off on Weekending
March 14, 2014

There are some Goodboys out there (and you know who you are!) who think The Great White Shank listens to nothing but washed out, burned out surfers and classic retro Cuban music.

He/they may be right.

But I’m telling you right now that this tune by Charlotte Church – one of my all-time favorite female vocalists – ranks up there with any tune I would like to hear before they plant my ashes under the old sod or stuff them in an urn on the mantlepiece next to pictures of old Uncle Harry and Aunt Mabel. The tune, released back in 2010, was what is called in the music industry a “buzz tune” (one designed to generate interest) left off of Charlotte’s Back To Scratch release, but as far as I’m concerned it was better than anything she put on that CD.

Why do I love this song so? Because it shows an artist willing to smash through the expectations of what their music ought to sound like. Much like The Beach Boys did back in 1977 on their Love You album and songs like God Please Let Us Go On This Way and Rolling Skating Child, Church uses this tune to show off her not-unsubstantial vocal chops behind an arrangement most fans would have been turned off of because it feels not just a little post-punk.

So let’s take a look at that arrangement, shall we? The song starts out with a sparse arrangement featuring guitar, bass, and snare behind a metallic-sounding rhythm being tapped out on a high-hat. Against this, Church’s lead vocal is powerful, yet restrained – I mean, when you can sing like she can I give her all the credit in the world to just let the song be what it is. A second guitar enters in the chorus (listen for the cool sliding chords) and will remain throughout the rest of the song. On the second verse we hear that second guitar taking a little more prominent role on the downbeat (C’mon, you can hear it, just try!). Then there’s the so-called “middle eight” where Church sings wordless vocals behind a grunge band rapping out its metallic backing all drenched in echo – Phil Spector would have been proud. A repeat of the chorus draws the song to a close, but not before Church provides a little hint of her powerhouse chops she’s capable of on the last “for you”.

It’s a great tune. I call it power punk from an artist not afraid to break out of the mold others have laid out for her.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 16:58 | Comments Off on Cold California
March 13, 2014

What a lovely time of year here in the Valley of the Sun. Actually, I can’t remember a year where the air has been so thick and sweet with the fragrance of our citrus trees. From the looks of it we can expect a bumper crop of lemons and limes, so folks, put your order in now!

The lime tree outside my home office window has so many blossoms it looks as if it is covered with snow.

And the bees! Lots and lots of happy little bees doing, well, what bees are supposed to do.

We have a pair of mourning doves who come every morning to check out the lime tree. Same thing each day: they go in there for a few minutes, then spend a good half-hour thinking about things, then they dash off to another dovey place. It’s almost as if they want to make a nest there but there is something in the neighborhood that doesn’t meet their standards. Could be the fragrance of all the flowers.

It is such a lovely time of year. Looking up at the beautiful moon waxing behind shimmering clouds and smelling the thick, citrus sweet fragrance of the night air you could close your eyes and imagine what a slice of heaven must be like.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:23 | Comments (2)
March 12, 2014

A few items and tidbits while wondering how fast this year is going by. We’re already into Lent and Daylight Savings Time, and it seems like I just put the damned Christmas decorations away.

Don’t have much to say about the whole Russia/Ukraine thing except to say the world is a dangerous place filled with all kinds of creeps and the only way to keep them from getting too frisky is to project strength. Like, to start, mean what you say and say you mean. Of course, with this president everything he says is either an outright lie or has an expiration date on it based on political expediency. So it’s no surprise that Mr. “Nobel Peace Prize” has become a doormat for every tin-pot dictator.

…say, I wonder if that means they’re all racists too?

Great to hear that Jim Bacchi and his Tikiyaki Orchestra concept is still out there and going strong. He’s pushing a new Tikiyaki 5-0 version. One of these days I’d love to hear them play live.

…say, maybe I can “Book ’em, Dano” for the Goodboys Invitational weekend when we have our 25th year bash planned for 2015!

This could be good news. Anytime you get a El Nino going that means more monsoon moisture for the Southwest. Could be a great year for thunderstorms with some actual rain events – bring it on. The West is already having a rough year drought-wise, so any help we can get from Ma Nature would be most appreciated.

Here’s a a happy story that I know frequent commenter Jana will like. There should be more stories like this out there but folks prefer the nasty and negative, I guess.

We’re just one month away from the start of the Masters and it’s anyone’s guess as to which Tiger Woods is going to show up – the one with the bad back, or the one with the balky putter, or the one spraying his driver all over the place like a skunk in heat. Look, I know and respect what the guy’s done and what he’s capable of doing; I’m just seeing someone who doesn’t seem capable of putting four solid rounds together. To me, if his name wasn’t Tiger Woods he’d sure look like a very ordinary golfer out there on Tour.

Just remember that no matter what anyone says, Obamacare was passed and implemented by Democrats without a single Republican vote. How’s that working out for you, Democrats?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:51 | Comments (3)
March 11, 2014

You get to March here in the Valley of the Sun and suddenly you’re scrambling to get stuff done before the serious heat comes in. Heck, even yesterday while staining the Tiki bar it was mighty warm reaching all those hard-to-reach places under the Tahitian thatch with stain and brush. Sadly, the heat seasons have taken their toll on the thatch roof, which is now in dire need of some replacement material. I found this cool website that has exactly what I’m going to need, but who would have thought thatch would cost so much? Ah, the cost of whimsy and the love of tropical places!

I also realized yesterday that I’ve also still got some painting to do on the patio. The coral paint on those surfaces most exposed to the heat and sun have really faded, it will definitely not last another summer. So a day of painting next weekend looks to definitely be in order there. So much for working on my golf game!

The swimming pool is definitely not ready-for-prime-time; it’s been cloudy for the better part of three weeks now and I’ve tried everything I can think of chemical-wise to get it clear. I’m guessing the water temp will hit 70 sometime this week, so we’re only weeks away from opening day. As much as I’ve been putting it off, a call to the local pool techs to come out and check the filtering and vacuum systems out is on the to-do list.

And finally, there is the Big Kahuna of Valley of the Sun summer preparation – the A/C system annual check-up. It goes without saying that the one thing you definitely don’t want to have go on the fritz during the summer is your A/C. I still remember that night in August one of the first few years we were here realizing that the A/C unit had stopped working. In just a couple of hours the inside had already hit the 90s and we were rigging up a “cool room” to keep the rabbits from getting heat sick.

At least this is all just minor stuff. We’ve put big dollars into the house the past few years to keep the maintenance costs and effort fairly minimal, and while there are still areas that need upgrading – things like the kitchen countertops, remodeling the second bath, and resurfacing the patio area around the pool, to name a few – we’re into a nice little stretch of low-cost maintenance. Not a bad thing.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:34 | Comments Off on Summer Prep
March 8, 2014

Bright blue skies. A strong breeze from the northeast. Feeling you better put a hat on while you’re skimming the pool.

All signs that winter is over here in the Valley of the Sun. Today was in the 80s, and it wasn’t just the temp but the strength of the sun behind it that provides ample evidence that we’re just a hop, skip, and a jump away from summer. Not summer as the folks around here know it, summer as I as a New Englander know it. I mean, warm days like this constitute summer as a New Englander knows it, but it’s just spring for folks who occupy the great Desert Southwest.

I’m staining the Tiki Bar and our protective health / wealth / happiness protector Tiki this weekend and it feels like I’m getting to it not a moment too soon. I wish I was hitting golf balls, but this is the kind of stuff that absolutely needs to get done – and pronto – before the heat really rolls in. We’ve got another six weeks of warm weather before the summer heat kicks in, but you don’t want to leave yourself in a position of positively having to work outside once the temps get into the 90s.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 21:26 | Comment (1)
March 7, 2014

Looks like it’s going to be the perfect weekend for working outside, so that’s what we have on tap here at the Richard hacienda. Temps in the ’80s, light winds, no more intestinal bug. So with the air full of fragrance of citrus flowers a (not-so) young man’s thoughts turn to…. staining the tiki bar and the big kahuna tiki. Out here in the Valley of the Sun summer is never really that far away, and the sun / heat/ lack of humidity being what they are, if you don’t protect your outside wood it will just disintegrate over time.

“Tiki Bar Weekend” usually takes place in November but this past year it seemed like every weekend something cropped up to prevent it from happening. And now that the days are getting longer – is it March already? Really? – and our temps have crept into the 80s there is not a moment to lose. Heck, the Goodboys just received their first “heads up” e-mail regarding this year’s Goodboys Invitational weekend, so can summer really be that far behind? The answer, of course, is no.

So it will be off to the local Ace for the usual acoutrements that make the whole deal possible. I’m hoping I can recruit my sister-in-law to do the tiki because the tiki bar alone will take the better part of the weekend all by itself.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 08:38 | Comment (1)
March 5, 2014

Ugh.

Whether it was an intestinal bug or food poisoning (in the end, does it really matter?) the timing couldn’t have been worse. From Wednesday afternoon through the better part of yesterday my body didn’t give me a break, and as a result, my annual Goodboys-meet-Vegas weekend turned out to be a fairly lost one indeed. Now seven pounds lighter than I was at this same moment last week, there aren’t really a boatload of great memories I’ll be able to take away from last weekend. Oh sure, it was great to see my pals enjoy a nice respite from their typical (for this winter) Ice Station Zebra existence. And the Wynn was, once again, a fabulous place to spend time in. We spent a lovely Saturday night at the Parasol Down‘s outside bar beside the Lake of Dreams (nice no matter how crummy you feel!), I had a luxurious long nap in the Wynn’s spa, the Wynn Golf Club lived up to all expectations (even though attempting to play any decent golf with shaky hands and rubbery legs was pretty futile), and the food (or lack thereof) and the gorgeous servers at La Cave were a delight. It’s just too bad I couldn’t have enjoyed them all to a fuller extent.

And that’s really about all I was up for (and I mean that literally). No cocktails and lunch at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville. No dinner at Wynn’s SW Steakhouse, no crazy fun and frolicking like teenagers let out of school early. I had a nice room with a comfortable bed and a luxurious nearby bathroom. And for this year that had to be good enough.

Like they say, timing is everything. Better luck next time.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 18:26 | Comments Off on Lost Vegas Weekend

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