April 20, 2014

…But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body.

While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel; and as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise.”

And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told this to the apostles; but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.

—Gospel of Luke 24: 1-11

Today is what the Christian faith is all about. While Easter Sunday is also filled with wonderful and cherished memories of our family gathering every year at the now-closed Hilltop Steakhouse and other places for more than three decades, my heart today brims with the simply joy renewed at this time every year.

Christ the Lord is risen indeed. Halleujah!

A happy and blessed Easter from all the Goodboys and Goodboys Nation weblog!

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 00:35 | Comments (2)
April 19, 2014


A reading from an ancient homily for Holy Saturday

“What is happening? Today there is a great silence over the earth, a great silence, and stillness, a great silence because the King sleeps; the earth was in terror and was still, because God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages. God has died in the flesh, and the underworld has trembled.

Truly he goes to seek out our first parent like a lost sheep; he wishes to visit those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. He goes to free the prisoner Adam and his fellow-prisoner Eve from their pains, he who is God, and Adam’s son.

The Lord goes in to them holding his victorious weapon, his cross. When Adam, the first created man, sees him, he strikes his breast in terror and calls out to all: ‘My Lord be with you all.’ And Christ in reply says to Adam: ‘And with your spirit.’ And grasping his hand he raises him up, saying: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.

‘I am your God, who for your sake became your son, who for you and your descendants now speak and command with authority those in prison: Come forth, and those in darkness: Have light, and those who sleep: Rise.

‘I command you: Awake, sleeper, I have not made you to be held a prisoner in the underworld. Arise from the dead; I am the life of the dead. Arise, O man, work of my hands, arise, you who were fashioned in my image. Rise, let us go hence; for you in me and I in you, together we are one undivided person.

‘For you, I your God became your son; for you, I the Master took on your form; that of slave; for you, I who am above the heavens came on earth and under the earth; for you, man, I became as a man without help, free among the dead; for you, who left a garden, I was handed over to Jews from a garden and crucified in a garden.

‘Look at the spittle on my face, which I received because of you, in order to restore you to that first divine inbreathing at creation. See the blows on my cheeks, which I accepted in order to refashion your distorted form to my own image.

‘See the scourging of my back, which I accepted in order to disperse the load of your sins which was laid upon your back. See my hands nailed to the tree for a good purpose, for you, who stretched out your hand to the tree for an evil one.

`I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side, for you, who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side healed the pain of your side; my sleep will release you from your sleep in Hades; my sword has checked the sword which was turned against you.

‘But arise, let us go hence. The enemy brought you out of the land of paradise; I will reinstate you, no longer in paradise, but on the throne of heaven. I denied you the tree of life, which was a figure, but now I myself am united to you, I who am life. I posted the cherubim to guard you as they would slaves; now I make the cherubim worship you as they would God.

“The cherubim throne has been prepared, the bearers are ready and waiting, the bridal chamber is in order, the food is provided, the everlasting houses and rooms are in readiness; the treasures of good things have been opened; the kingdom of heaven has been prepared before the ages.”

Hat tip: Vatican.va

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 01:46 | Comments Off on Holy Saturday
April 18, 2014

A poem for this most solemn day of the Church Year:

Mother, why are people crowding now and staring?
Child, it is a malefactor goes to His doom,
To the high hill of Calvary He’s faring,
And the people pressing and pushing to make room
Lest they miss the sight to come.

Oh, the poor malefactor, heavy is His load!
Now He falls beneath it and they goad Him on.
Sure the road to Calvary’s a steep up-hill road —
Is there none to help Him with His Cross — not one?
Must He bear it all alone?

Here is a country boy with business in the city,
Smelling of the cattle’s breath and the sweet hay;
Now they bid him lift the Cross, so they have some pity:
Child, they fear the malefactor dies on the way
And robs them of their play.

Has He no friends then, no father nor mother,
None to wipe the sweat away nor pity His fate?
There’s a woman weeping and there’s none to soothe her:
Child, it is well the seducer expiate
His crimes that are so great.

Mother, did I dream He once bent above me,
This poor seducer with the thorn-crowned head,
His hands on my hair and His eyes seemed to love me?
Suffer little children to come to Me, He said —
His hair, his brows drip red.

Hurrying through Jerusalem on business or pleasure
People hardly pause to see Him go to His death
Whom they held five days ago more than a King’s treasure,
Shouting Hosannas, flinging many a wreath
For this Jesus of Nazareth.
—- Copyright by Herb o’ Grace

Hat tip: Cutechoice.com

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 02:08 | Comments Off on Good Friday A.D. 33
April 17, 2014

Yep, this country is in the best of hands.

This is what you get when you hire a community organizer with less experience than a ten year-old running a lemonade stand into the most important job in the world.

Pathetic.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 12:33 | Comments Off on A Picture Worth A Thousand Words

It’s been nearly two weeks since a virus crashed our laptop and forced us to have to do a system recovery restore, and things are still not back to normal. And the support we’ve received from Dell has been so piss-poor that we will never, ever again buy a Dell as long as this fella is walking this earth.

If the system recovery disk Dell/Windows had me create upon initial system start-up hadn’t included some corrupted Windows files, everything would have been jake. But when I couldn’t get my system to re-boot properly after the system restore, and the Dell guy I talked to in India (my guess is Dell has no U.S. technical support at all) couldn’t figure out why, I had no choice but to have my computer guy here in Gilbert get everything back, even if it took a different version of Windows 7 to do it. Which served the purpose of getting us back in business, albeit without the full-licensed version of Microsoft Office we had purchased with the laptop. Here is where the Dell incompetence really kicks in – they say all we bought was a 30-day trial version, but the total cost of the machine and the order invoice tells otherwise. And yet they refuse to budge.

Because there was no point in arguing further, I downloaded a trial version of Office 365 simply to get us over the hump so that Tracey could at least start our taxes. It only took a few days and finding additional software that we needed but no longer had before we decided it was all pointless. So we filed for an extension. (I’m sure if the IRS / Obama administration reads this blog regularly the answer will be a resounding “no”.)

I also discarded the McAfee anti-virus software that was bundled with our laptop – lot of good that did! – and purchased Kaspersky Internet Security 2014. I also purchased Carbonite’s backup software in case everything were to go to hell once again somewhere down the line.

Now I’m dealing with the problem of activating my Windows 7 software. Because my tech guy had to use a different Windows 7 OS to get our machine back up and running, Windows has detected that this particular OS needs to be activated, but the product key on our machine and whatever was loaded by my tech guy doesn’t match. And, because you can’t have a product key installed on multiple systems, I can’t use his OS product key on my machine. Meaning, I’ve got to reinstall my original OS back on this machine via system recovery. Meaning, I’ve got to work with the damned Dell folks in India again. Meaning, having to go through the whole process of explaining to the Dell guys once again that the system won’t re-boot properly after system restore.

I tried to tell the Dell folks that my system recovery disk has corrupted files, but of course the guy I’m talking to knows nothing about the first guy I talked with when I had my original system recovery disk problem. Or the second lady who insisted on sending me out a new Windows 7 OS recovery disk that has nothing in common with the system recovery disk I have with the corrupted files – I’ll be taking a bigger step backwards by having my C drive completely scrubbed. Which, in turn, means I’ll be spending Easter weekend tracking down and reloading all the software installs I did two weekends ago.

I suppose we could just start over and buy a new machine, but what’s the point of that? I’ll still end up having to reload software and I don’t feel like forking out significant dough-re-mi for yet another new machine.

I don’t want to sound harsh, but Dell technical support sucks. And it’s not the fact the tech team is all India people – heck, I have India folk on my team at work. It’s just that they are not very good. At least now they tell you their real name as opposed to some dopey American name when you know damned well you’re not speaking to an American. One time a guy answered and told me I was speaking to Rocky; I figured that week he was taking his names from American movies.

All in all, it’s just a crappy situation. Having to go through this is almost as bad as having to do your own auto maintenance.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:48 | Comments Off on Laptop Blues
April 16, 2014

A post perfect for Holy Week. Unlike previous years I didn’t bother to buy flowers for my pots out front. And it’s pointless to try and plant much of anything this time of year – they’ll die in a New York minute as soon as the serious heat rolls in. Last year I bought some silk hydrangeas that looked pretty in the pots out front and amazingly kept their color and beauty throughout the summer. 🙂 After the petunias I planted in the same pots during the fall of 2012 died, I left the big pot dormant and was surprised to see some palm-y looking things take root and last the whole fall and winter.

A month ago, to my amazement, I start seeing petunia sprouts in the pot. I never figured petunias to be perennials, but this year without planning anything I have petunias. They won’t last, of course – the first days we get into the high 90s will do them in – but it’s pretty amazing nevertheless to see pretty petunias emerge from nothing but dirt. They’re beautiful.

Beauty from the dirt and emptiness of death. That’s what Holy Week is all about.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:00 | Comments Off on Resurrection
April 15, 2014

We gaze on that cross this week. Enter into that love, be immersed in it, be overcome by God’s mercy — this is the life Christians are called to. So that we might be beacons of his merciful love, transformed by it. So that this is who we are — configured to Him.

And give thanks, too, for our common spiritual director, Pope Francis, and this walk to Christ — to live lives of real Christianity, in all its radically redemptive ways — he is urging.

…so writes Kathryn Jean Lopez as part of a great post on her blog. For me, Holy Week is such a cavalcade of memories and emotions from my youth to my flirtation with seeking ordination to the priesthood, to coming out the other side bruised and battered, yet still alive. Holy Week reminds me of Palm Sundays singing in the choir with family and friends, serving on the Altar Guild, and spending hours in an otherwise-deserted church during the annual “Night Watch with Jesus” at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, the solemnity and breathless anticipation towards Easter Sunday during Holy Saturday services, attending the Great Vigil of Easter at the Church of the Advent in Boston (no one does it better!), and, most recently avoiding the Easter crowds by spending a quiet hour or two with my Monastic Breviary in my prayer grove.

As I get older I find myself withdrawing from the large crowds at St. Mary Magdalene parish during Christmas and Easter. I don’t want to make it sound like I’ve seen it all, but the large crowds and boistrous celebrations don’t move me much anymore. And besides, with everything I’ve gone through and been a part of between Massachusetts, Kentucky, and Arizona, I feel I have. Seeking God’s presence amidst the bougainvillea while enjoying coffee and the Breviary are enough for me these days, and I feel I get as much – if not more – out of it as I would attending Mass with the throngs.

What Holy Week does for me is to bring my relationship with God and the Church full circle – the memories of childhood and adulthood all rolled into a big emotional ball that makes it hard to focus on little else except the movement of God in time – my time, my family’s time, and all the memories that go along with it. And in doing so I find the Church and my current relationship with it to be less important than what it once was. Just like everything else, it’s a phase, and perhaps next year I’ll be spending Lent doing the Stations of the Cross every Friday during Lent and immersing myself in the Church’s commemoration of Holy Week with the best of them.

I remember a Good Friday several years back playing gold with a couple of my Goodboys buddies at Trull Brook and wondering if it were appropriate on such a solemn day. But there came a point just prior to our round starting where I found myself virtally alone on the bench by the first tee and being struck at how glorious the surroundings were – the quiet beauty of God’s Creation, the whisper of God’s presence in the breeze that rustled the dead oak leaves that had yet to be pushed to the ground by the new foliage just beginning to appear. At that moment, I felt I was surrounded by a holiness no sanctaury could ever match – immersed in Creation, surrounded by death and life emerging from the dead of winter. On that Good Friday, it all felt so right.

Holy Week serves as a poignant reminder of what our lives are at any point in time: death and life are always around us, behind us, and waiting just around the corner. Accept it for what it is and embrace the now and everything life both good and bad has to offer. It’s God’s plan for all of us. Just this week, one of my co-workers’ brothers passed away after a long battle with cancer only days after one of her fellow team members became a grandmother for the first time. Beginnings and endings, endings and beginnings.

At the close of Mark’s Gospel the angel instructs the frightened women to tell Jesus’ disciples to meet the risen Lord in Galilee, where everything began (Mark 16.7). The endless cycle of humanity and God’s creation which we are and have been since our conception a part of. Alpha and Omega. Death and Life. Holy Week illustrates both in ways never before seen or since in human history.

My prayer is that all who make Goodboys Nation weblog a regular stop find some time for yourself this Holy Week away from the assembled multitudues to find some quite time to drink in what this most holy week of the Church Year is all about.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 00:58 | Comments Off on Holy Week
April 14, 2014

Masters Sunday is always special and, whether it’s a dramatic finish for the ages with a dozen players in the mix coming down the stretch or a Bubba Watson runaway victory, it never disappoints. After all, Augusta National is, and will always be, the show. The course is beautiful and made for HD TV viewing on a big screen TV unlike any other professional golf venue. Yesterday, however, was a particular treat for golf fans of all ages, with the Masters broadcast bookended by a wonderfully entertaining and incredibly moving special on Nick Faldo as the lead-in on CBS, and the Master golf followed by the first hour of a three-part Golf Channel presentation on the life of Arnold Palmer.

I found the Faldo special to be especially interesting, as it really peeled away the layers behind a very human and likeable person quite different from the stoic and almost robotic player that Faldo was during the prime of his career. CBS did a great job in introducing the Masters audience to a player who, along with Seve Ballesteros, inspired the growth of European golf as it is known today. From the Palmer special on Golf Channel I learned a number of things I hadn’t previously known about the man behind the carefully-crafted and well-protected Palmer image. Like him or not, there’s little doubt about the fondness folks who know him the best and have been around him the longest have for this iconic figure, and there’s no doubting the impact Palmer’s personality, likeability, and charitable work has had on the game of golf over the past five decades. While neither, I doubt, has been a saint – after all, who is? – and while neither Faldo nor Palmer have been strangers to controvery over the years, the specials shown around both ends of the Masters telecast made for some great golf viewing.

Were it not the Masters and Augusta National, the final round might have been considered a snoozer. While not possessing the same kind of edge-of-your-seat action of previous years, you couldn’t help but notice the future of professional golf unfolding in the wonderful games of Jordan Spieth and Jonas Blixt. Spieth has a great swing and a very mature way of presenting himself for a 20-year old. Blixt has more of a swashbuckling air about him, can really get it around the course from any and all directions, and has a short game to die for. I really enjoyed watching these two up-and-comers play, and it doesn’t require a whole lot of imagination to envision these two battling each other a few years down the road as the Woodses and Mickelsons start to make their way off center stage.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 01:55 | Comments Off on A Golf Viewing Day For The Ages
April 12, 2014

A few odds and ends for the last weekend before pool season opens:

What a cool story. I can’t even begin to imagine the magnitude of something like this.

Call me a dinosaur, but if I were to be in Vegas between now and August I’d check out Olivia Newton-John’s show at the Flamingo.

I mean, is this a fitting departure or what? Why Kathleen Sebelius isn’t in a federal lock-up for gross incompetence and lying to Congress is beyond me.

…and the same holds true for Lois Lerner and Elijah Cummings.

The latest tally on the back yard cat front: Cat 1, Humans 4.

Is there a better golf tournament in the world to watch in the comfort of your big-screen HD TV living room than the Masters? I don’t think so, although the British Open venues come close.

Speaking of which, golf can be a ruthless game.

…but this story is pretty cool.

Any time the Red Sox beat the Yankees and C.C. Sabathia, it’s a good way to enter any weekend.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:21 | Comments Off on Weekending
April 11, 2014

I’m often accused by my friends as being a dinosaur when it comes to music, but I’ve long sinced cared what people think about my musical tastes. Whether it be The Sandals, or surf (classic or retro), or exotica, or Gregorian chant, doo wop, or my “tropical breezes” mix that covers virtually anything from mellow Jimmy Buffet to island steel drum, reggae, and guajira, my tastes are what they are and I’m not planning on changing any time soon.

Ever since watching Andy Garcia’s ode to pre-Castro Cuba, The Lost City, I find myself enthralled with the music of ’50s Cuba – there’s something about it that touches me on a different level. Maybe it’s because it’s music that will never be heard again. Maybe it’s because it’s music from the very same period I was born and grew up in, although in an entirely different culture.

Still, there was always something magical and mystical about Cuba that I have never been able to put my finger on. I remember distinctly being enthralled hearing The Sandpipers’ “Guantanamera” when I was ten or eleven, so maybe that had something to do with it. I remember on one of our earlier cruises seeing Cuba so near (enough to warrant the attention of a Cuban patrol boat) and yet so remote, its mountains shrouded in the distant haze.

Anyways, all I’m trying to say is that for this coming summer I plan on being totally into the sounds of the Buena Vista Social Club and Cachao. It may not be exciting or new wave, but it’s what music is supposed to be, but (at least to these ears) has long since being – something to bring color and joy to one’s ears. Happy, sentimental, and, more than anything else, easy on the ears.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:16 | Comments Off on Old Wave

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