October 31, 2014

It’s Halloween, and we’ll be celebrating by joining our neighbors across the street who cook up a large pot of chili and sets up chairs in their driveway for us neighborhood flok to come over and socialize for a few hours. It’s very nice.

A few Halloween-related links for your enjoyment:

My aunt was asking the other day where all the ghosts and spooks associated with Halloween came from. Well, consider this your Halloween primer, but I think I was right when I mentioned that the pagan festival of Samhain celebrates the darkest days of the year where the spirit world and this world are in closest proximity – hence the fascination with death and ghosts and skeletons and such.

This History Channel website has all kinds of cool facts about the various traditions associated with Halloween.

I always thought this song in its spooky, haunting oddness was perfect for Halloween. Say, I wonder whatever happened to Kate Bush?

Here’s a cool poem, perfect for the holiday:

She comes by night, in fearsome flight,
In garments black as pitch,
the queen of doom upon her broom,
the wild and wicked witch,

a crackling crone with brittle bones
and dessicated limbs,
two evil eyes with warts and sties
and bags about the rims,

a dangling nose, ten twisted toes
and fold of shriveled skin,
cracked and chipped and crackled lips
that frame a toothless grin.

She hurtles by, she sweeps the sky
and hurls a piercing screech.
As she swoops past, a spell is cast
on all her curses reach.

Take care to hide when the wild witch rides
to shriek her evil spell.
What she may do with a word or two
is much too grim to tell.

– Jack Prelutsky, The Witch

Hat tip: The Holiday Spot.

Geez, I dunno, sounds more like a poem about Hillary Clinton to me more than anything. After all, when you spout crap like this you deserve to be called a witch – or worse.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:33 | Comments (0)
October 27, 2014

Thoughts from the Eastern Time Zone…

Is there anything better than October in New England? Crystal clear days where you’re warm in the sun but chilled in the shade. The trees in various stages of color and losing their leaves. Today my brother, mom, dad, and me went up to Essex for fried clams and scallops. It was fantastic. And like the name of the business says, in New England it’s called “seafood”; everywhere else it’s just “fish”.

Hillary Clinton is an idiot. And once again come 2016 Democrats will discover how much of a reprehensible and obnoxious phony wretch she is and be begging someone – anyone – to challenge her so she’s not the their nominee for president.

We’re just days away from the last original Pink Floyd album to be released. Fitting that it be released this time of year, as I’ve always associated Pink Floyd’s music with the increasingly morbid and dreary days of late October and early November when you can really feel the seasons closing in – soon the clocks will be turned back and the folks doing the evening commute here will be plunged into darkness. Not much to look forward to after that except the Christmas holidays. Being where I am I can completely understand the desire of folks to pick up stakes and head to Florida for the winter; living in Arizona I have little desire to experience another New England winter. Ever.

But now that I know that the next Goodboys weekend in Vegas is scheduled for the weekend after Super Bowl I’m totally Jonesing and already starting to count the days down.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 20:59 | Comment (1)
October 25, 2014

So Ted Bishop, president of the PGA of America, is removed for “gender insensitivity” after referring to Ian Poulter as a whiny little girl. I’m no fan of Bishop to begin with, but in a world of political correctness one would think someone in his position would know not to get in a pissing contest with a professional golfer. He ought to have known better.

Here is how you make a three-foot putt.

This looks to be awesome.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 01:58 | Comments (0)
October 24, 2014

Tomorrow I’m heading back home for a few days in Massachusetts to play a little fall golf, walk in some gaily-colored woods and enjoy the company of friends and family. Who knows? I might even get to take a walk along an empty beach on a bright, crisp October afternoon – one of my absolute favorite things to do.

October is OK here in Arizona – the real heat has broken but that doesn’t mean you won’t work up quite a sweat during an afternoon walk. But there’s no color to speak of. And where frequent commenter Jana lives in Kentucky, you get the color and there’s still some heat there. But true October for me is back in New England where bright skies and cool days bring back thoughts of the summer being over and winter just over the horizon. Every warm day seems precious, and there’s a tinge of sadness walking in the woods amidst all the fallen leaves.

A perfect time, I think, for a Robert Frost poem:

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if the were all,
Whose elaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost–
For the grapes’ sake along the all.

See y’all in the Eastern Time Zone. I’m making US Airways connections in Philadelphia, so keep me in your prayers. :-)

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 04:26 | Comment (1)
October 23, 2014

The Apple cactus in our west side yard has really been active this year, growing all sorts of flowers and generating fruit for the first time that I can remember. If you want to see them in all their God-given glory you gotta get to them as soon at first light because they bloom at night and for one night only before they die off quickly during the day.

Isn’t this beautiful? I had a work call at 7 AM but when I looked out the window after grabbing my morning coffee I just had to grab my phone and scurry outside in the cool October morn to snap some photos.

The bees sure like them! And the colors of the yellow and red bougainvillea aren’t bad, either.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 19:23 | Comments (4)
October 22, 2014

…one of the best movie lines ever.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 00:22 | Comments (0)
October 21, 2014

A few items, short and sweet…

I’ve never watched “Girls”, and don’t plan to, but I don’t get the fuss over Lena Dunham. She’s, ugh.

I’m five months out from Goodboys Vegas weekend and I’m Jonesing really bad. Feels like I haven’t been there for years.

If I’m a U.S. Embassy employee in Baghdad, I’m already planning my escape route to the helicopters.

And to think I used to think Renee Zellweger was adorable.

This is how we Arizona folks deal with bank robberies.

R.I.P. Ben Bradlee. I didn’t like his politics much but sure respected the way he ran a newsroom. Besides, how many people can say they had Jason Robards play you better better than you could play yourself?

…speaking of which, it’s hard to beat Robards in his performances in not just “All The Presidents Men”, but in Sergio Leone’s “Once Upon A Time In The West”.

I thought Monica Lewinsky’s fifteen minutes were up.

While I’m pulling for the Kansas City Royals to win the World Series, my head says Giants 3-1.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 20:13 | Comments (0)
October 20, 2014

Just remember as you read these items, America – these are the public schools that are raising your children.

Fired high school teacher in Austin may be carrying student’s child, charges say. (Hat tip: Instapundit)

Nebraska school district urges teachers to be more inclusive, stop referring to “boys and girls”

Destrehan teacher arrested for reported sexual relationship with student. Whoops, my bad, I guess a threesome was involved:

Shelley Dufresne is accused of having sex with the underage student in the parish.

She is also accused in a similar incident with another teacher with the same teen in Jefferson Parish. Dufresne, 32, and the other teacher, 24-year-old Rachel Respess, were arrested on allegations the three had a sexual encounter with the teen at Respass’ home in Kenner. The Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office is handling that case.

(Hat tip: Free Republic) Jeez, where were these teachers when I was just a young buck at Tewksbury High School?

Former teacher pleads guilty to stalking Minneapolis South student

Heh. No wonder you have states wanting to curtail home-schooling – you’re taking away potential booty from their public school teachers!

This country is truly in the best of hands. You read this kind of stuff and I’m ashamed to say that my generation is the worst thing that has ever happened to this country. Not just because of what we’ve done to it by way of the Sixties and Seventies, but in the values (or lack thereof) we’ve instilled – and are still instilling – in our kids. Maybe that’s a gross generalization, but it sure seems like we’re the ones that screwed it all up.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 22:21 | Comments (0)
October 19, 2014

“But I remember more dearly autumn afternoons in bottoms that lay intensely silent under old great trees”

- C. S. Lewis

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:55 | Comments (0)
October 18, 2014

For baseball players it’s called “Spring Training”.

For football players it’s called July “training camp”.

I don’t care what they call it in basketball or hockey, I don’t watch either and never will.

For The Great White Shank, it’s called Opening Day, when the 2014-2015 golf season begins. Sometimes Opening Day starts in January when I start getting ready to play my first round of golf in the New Year with my Goodboys pals in Vegas; this year it began in October with a sun angle in the afternoon creating large shadows on the putting green at the Sperstition Springs driving range. It will end end nine months hence, in July and the 2015 Goodboys Invitational weekend, when the final weeks of preparation will take place on an empty range under shimmering blue skies, temps hovering around 110, and precious little shade anywhere to be found. Between now and then my golf game will dance the mambo of expectation vs. reality, of technique vs. score, and – more than anything else – the never-ending goal of improvement that may or may not manifest itself when all is said and done.

At this time last year, hopes ran high that I’d be able to make some major strides towards my goal of playing bogey-and-a-half golf. I was coming off a Goodboys Invitational weekend where I had played consistently well; in my mind, the sky was the limit. As it turned out, the 2013-2014 year featured some very high highs and some extremely low lows – particularly during the last two days of Goodboys Invitational weekend, where, following a 94 on Friday I put up some huge numbers and the golf equivalent of a meltdown on Saturday and Sunday.

The whole experience was a extra-large portion of humble pie, so I was extremely hesitant about picking up the clubs again – so much so that I hadn’t even given my clubs a glance since July. But yesterday was sunny and only in the high ’80s, and the night before I had had my first golf dream in months, so I begged off work early Friday afternoon, slathered myself with SPF 50 sunscreen, tossed my bag in the trunk of my Saturn, and headed over to the Superstition Springs driving range.

There was no expectation about what I was trying to do – I figured just shaking off the rust ahead of a visit back to Massachusetts for a round or two of golf with friends and family was about as good an excuse as I could muster up. Turning into “the Springs”, however, it all felt like a homecoming day, and seeing and exchanging pleasantries with my swing coach Alex Black only made me feel more like I had come home.

“How’s your game?”, asked Alex. “How did your Massachusetts weekend go?”

“One good day, two bad”, I responded.

“So what do we have to do to make it three good days?”

See, that’s what I like about Alex – he’s incurably optimistic and knows exactly how to make his flock feel good about themselves. But this year, I know what I have to do, and it has nothing to do with Alex or technique – rather, it’s all about attitude and a return to basics: namely, finding my old mojo and making solid contact with the ball and dealing with the results no matter what.

You see, I’ve given my whole approach to the game last year a good deal of thought. Sometimes while watching the desert landscape slide by on my way up to Scottsdale to pick up bunny supplies. Sometimes late at night after the twins had long retired for the night, just me and a glass of Pinot Grigio as mosquitoes swarmed around my head. Sometimes while soaking in a hot bubble bath in the tub. And what I came up with is this: I spent too much time and energy wrrying about technique, score, and on-course strategy, and too little time simply enjoying the game for what it was. I had wrapped myself so tightly around improving my game and my handicap that I lost the simple appreciation for playing the game as a game and letting whatever happens happens.

I could feel the old demons trying to fill my head as I drove to Superstition Springs, checking off all the things I wanted to do: reduce pressure in my grip, bring my hands more into my swing, tee the ball up lower, play the ball a little further back in my swing; I could feel it all starting to make me crazy. And it was only after I had paid my money, exchanged greetings with Alex, and found a quiet stall to whack my large bucket of balls that I truly realized what my goal for 2014-2015 had to be:

Get back to basics.

So the only thoughts I put into my mind was how great it was to be back out on the driving range, away from the stresses of work, away from the twins and all of their health issues, away from every expectation I might have brought upon myself in previous years, and focus only on making solid contact with the ball. I made a conscious effort to play the ball in the middle of my stance, even just a little back in my stance, not caring where the ball went – the goal of this range session was purely to re-introduce myself to making solid contact with the ball.

My first five shanks with a pitching wedge showed I was pretty rusty, so rather than getting all flustered I took a break and said hello to a few of the familiar faces I had come to know at the Springs over the years. It was funny to see how little the faces and swings had changed. Returning to the task at hand I proceeded to have one of the most satisfying range sessions I had ever had – not because the ball always went where I wanted it to (though oftentimes it did), but because I achieved the kind of solid contact with the ball I had set out to do. And by the time I was 3/4 of the way through my bucket I was hitting all of my irons with confidence.

One of my goals this year is to improve my overall play from 120 yards in – my 7, 8, and 9 irons and pitching wedge – so rather than spreading the balls out equally across all my clubs as I have done over the years, I spent half the bucket hitting balls with only those clubs. And while Alex thinks I would be wasting time working on a “stinger” off the tee, I allocated a dozen balls to work on a stinger with my 3-hybrid and 5-wood with pretty good results. Again, playing the ball a little further back in my stance than I have been seemed to help out a lot.

I then spent the next 90 minutes working on my short game around the Springs’ putting green. It was only then I realized just how much I had missed the whole concept of practice – not for what I might score when playing a “real” round of golf, but simply to allow my brain to disengage and focus on something other than home and work. I could feel the old joy coming back. Afterwards, over a cold beer at the grille, I realized just how refreshed in mind and spirit I felt.

So here’s to the 2014-2015 season – I enter it with a 26.1 handicap, tied with fellow Goodboy “Possum” Shepter. I don’t know where I and it will end up come the end of Goodboys weekend next July (God willing!), but whatever the result, I know I’m going to have a much better time achieving it this time around. I’m going back to basics and keeping everything in perspective.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 03:35 | Comments (0)

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