February 27, 2015

It’s been a long hard year so far. Brutal. Fortunately, no matter how badly the year starts off there’s this little carrot hanging in front of this donkey (frequent commenter Jana has called me a shorter version of same :-) ) called “Goodboys Vegas Weekend”. A few days to kick back, immerse yourself in total unreality, and forget about things. And I can’t recall a year in recent memory that I’ve needed it more than this one.

It’s hard to believe we’ve been going to Vegas in February for nearly a decade. And in that time most of us have learned the valuable lesson of tempo and the passage of time, the kinds of places where once it would be a hoot to hang out, now, er… not so much. I don’t do the crowds and the loud pulsating music any more, preferring instead the quiet of a golf course, a spa, a nice restaurant, and drinks at places like the Parasol Down. Sure, I’ll never forget some of the times we had when we were younger and more footloose and fancy free, but that’s what so great about Vegas over time. It never stays the same, it’s always changing as much (or sometimes even faster) than you are.

I’ll then leave y’all to your weekends and catch you back on Monday. It will be interesting to see just how much mud is in my front yard. Until then:

“The King”

ZZ Top

Shawn Colvin

Take your pick – they’re all great versions and soulful in their own way.

Viva Las Vegas, baby! Ring-a Ding Ding.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:44 | Comments (0)
February 26, 2015

Well, the plumbers were true to their word – they were done by 3 PM and had said adios, leaving a trail of dirty tire tracks all the way up the street and piles of dirt where the trench went. I don’t mind the dirt piles on the rock area – that I can move around myself with a rake and then bring some new rock in to cover it.

But the lawn was a bone of contention, and I told the guy so. It’s all clay, very clumpy, and impossible to just spread over the lawn and cover it with loam and grass seed. We went back and forth on this for a few minutes before he finally agreed that I was right; but he didn’t know what to do about it. He said he would have his boss call me tomorrow with a plan to get rid of the dirt. And I’m now especially keen to get this taken care of, given the fact that they’re calling for an inch of rain or more this weekend, which would gonna turn the place into a quagmire. And with our lawn sloping towards the street it will put mud everywhere. This from the National Weather Service in Phoenix:

A series of strong weather systems will begin moving into Arizona Saturday, and by Saturday night, we could see some rain developing around the Valley.

Sunday is looking very wet, a possible washout, with rain throughout the day. Some weather models are showing an inch of rain or more through Sunday night.

We get over an inch of rain on this yard in that short period of time and, well I don’t even want to think about it.

The street in front of our house and going in both directions is already a mess, causing the neighbors to come driving by to see what’s up.

I can hear them now, sadly shaing their heads: “That’s the Richards, wait until the HOA comes knocking at their door!”

The missing cement resulting from a large cross-cut across the driveway also had to be dealt with. I mean, you can’t have a car driving over the dirt and leaving a trail of mud from the driveway into the garage – especially if it’s going to get muddy. That’s all I’d need. I had some sheets of plywood in the garage, so I laid them on top of the dirt and got two 6′ X 9′ heavy cloth tarps which I then laid over the wood to hold them down and keep them together. My mortar guy John is backed up with work for a couple of weeks so it’s going to have to stay that way for a while. John took a look at the area and has determined it’s too big for what he can mix in his mixer, so he’s going to prep the area and frame it, then call in a cement truck to pour the concrete, after which he’ll finish it off. More $.

And finally, the front yard watering system. I broached the subject of eliminating the grass and replace it with rock and desert foliage to Tracey but she didn’t want to hear of it. The whole watering system needs to be reconstructed from scratch, so I’ll have that professionally done next week while getting a quote for rock where there’s now dirt by the house. And then I’ll need Carmelo to come work his magic with the loam and grass seed. More $.

But at least it’s done and we can move on from here. Thankfully, my Vegas weekend is this weekend and I’ll have a long leisurely drive to try and forget about all this for a few days.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:41 | Comments (2)
February 25, 2015

That is, like that golf course looked as it was being blown up at the end of Caddyshack. The plumbers showed up right on time and proceeded to start ripping our front yard apart to repair – no, replace – our sewer line. It didn’t take long, especially after they brought the heavy equipment in. It was actually amazing to see just how quicky the yard went from tranquil and pristine to loooking like something out of France in “The War To End All Wars”:

Helping things along greatly was the big machine – I don’t know what you call it – brought in purposely to create a lot of destruction, and fast. “This is my favorite part of the job”, says one of the guys. I spend most of my time putting things back together; it’s nice to be able to destroy things from time to time.”

I nodded.

The trench warfare started with a cut moving north, then moved directly east before taking a northeast cut (literally, our cement driveway being cut with one awesome looking (and dangerous!) circular saw.

Slowly but surely, our front yard began to show the strain of the effort:

The plumbers quickly found that the original construction put in an outflow line that was never used and a sprinkler line that was buried under six inches of turf. “Don’t know what those guys were thinking”, says one of the guys doing the work, “but they sure as hell didn’t know what they were doing.” That made me feel real good.

You know your property is not having a good day when the air is filled with the sound of heavy equipment and sawing and banging, but they actually made pretty quick work of things. They discovered a 34′ foot line of pipe that went down, then up, then down again before staying that way right to the town sewer connection. There they found that some serious tree roots had not only cracked the line at the point of the link to the town sewer, but had dislodged it enough so it was no longer flush.

But what tree could have done such damage? The plumber guy’s vote was for the large mesquite tree across the street in one of our neighbor’s front yard. “Those mesquites are tall and push out roots like you wouldn’t believe. They can do a lot of damage. I immediately thought of the big mesquite in our back yard sitting only about ten feet from my back neighbor’s swimming pool and tried not to think bad thoughts.

By early afternoon the trench was graded properly and finalized all around, ready for the new pipe to be laid.

They’re replacing our 3″ pipe with a more heavy-duty 4″ replacement and everything should be back to normal (albeit damned scruffy looking, for sure) before the end of day on Wednesday.

My neighbor (and resident mortar/concrete expert – something ever homeowner ought to have ready access to) John stopped by and spoke to the guys about how he wants the ground graded to replace the two large cement forms that were taken up (a.k.a. destroyed) our driveway needs to blend back in with the rest of the neighborhood:

As you can see, there’s still quite a bit left to do tomorrow:

I’m not just going to have to replace my entire front lawn but the lawn’s watering system as well. I figure between the $7,700 we’re currently in for the sewer line and what the landscaping costs are likely to be when this is all over this is going to be a $9K project before all is said and done. Hell, not even our A/C system replacement cost that much. It’s a real setback for our hopes to eliminate all our debt (mortgage excluded) by the end of this year. But what can you do?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:39 | Comments (2)
February 24, 2015

I’ve got the plumbers coming tomorrow and $8K waiting to drop on my 0% financing-for-the-next-21-months credit card that mercifully came in the mail today. Tracey’s staying with her twin sister in anticipation of us being without water for the next two days. So what’s a bachelor to do? Why, watch Fever Pitch on the MLB Network, of course. I’d never seen the Farrelly Bros. flick starring Jimmy Kimmell and the incurably adorable Drew Barrymore before, but there wasn’t anything else on so I tuned it in.

The movie itself was nice, a formula kind of a love story framed by the incredible 2004 Red Sox championship season, but it was the last fifteen minutes of the movie, recalling that incredible and improbable comeback from oblivion by the Sox against the Yankees in the 2004 A.L. Championship Series that actually brought tears to my eyes.

My, how the memories flooded back! Starting with that Dave Roberts steal (watch him at 1:15 saying, “I got this” – pretty cool). I mean, you look back at it now. Down three games to none. Down by a run going into the ninth inning against Mariano Rivera. I mean, they were done. D-O-N-E done. And then the steal, and those incredible extra innings games in games four and five. Alex Rodriguez being a pussy in Game Six.

I’ll admit, this grown man teared up. Big time. The memories of Jerry Trupiano’s “Way Back! Waaaaaaaaaay Back!” home run calls. Curt Schilling and the bloody sock. Tessie. David Ortiz. the point where the World Series – the World Series! – with the Cardinals was purely anticlimactic. It was as if the very fact they had clawed their way back in a way no other team had ever done before that there was no way the baseball gods weren’t going to reward the Sox for their effort. The whole world was turned upside down.

Two additional World Series championships later you almost forget just how close the Sox came in 2004 to losing it all. That Dave Roberts safe call was close close CLOSE. Coulda gone either way. I remember sitting in some restaurant bar watching the Sox obliterate the Yankees in Game Seven and not really being able to believe it. Everything around seemed fuzzy and strange. And then, following the four-game sweep of the Cards, calling my folks and my brother Dave and my Auntie Marge and Uncle Don, tears in my eyes, champagne flowing, just wanting to make that New England connection that would and could only happen once in a lifetime.

Looking back eleven years later, I still can’t believe it. I have the entire 2004 Red Sox post-season games on DVD and you watch them and you still can’t believe they not only came back, but all the way back.

It’s a saga and an incredible suite of memories I will take with me to my grave.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:49 | Comment (1)
February 23, 2015

Ed. note: Before you go further be sure to turn up your volume so you can PLAY IT LOUD.

Because after listening to this there is really nothing left to say. I’d like to think I wish I had been born about five years earlier in order to be able to see these guys with the Joshua Light Show in all its brilliance, but knowing my luck I would have been shipped off to Vietnam and left dead in some stinking rice paddy courtesy of Lyndon Johnson and Robert McNamara.

To me, “Time Has Come Today” is the epitome of all that was great of ’60s psychedelia. Backwards cowbell with echo. Backwards drums with echo. That awesome fuzz guitar. That crazy funky harmonica. I remember my mom telling me that the screaming part reminded her of giving birth to one of us – pretty funny. In my mind the only thing that comes close is “Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow” from the aborted Beach Boys SMiLE LP.

They just don’t make music like that anymore. Whether you think that’s a good thing or not tells me everything about how old you are.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:51 | Comments (0)
February 22, 2015

Just thinking about my peeps back in Massachusetts having more snow to plow. You want to know what was really, really great about Phil Spector? The fact that he could take a Yoko Ono tune that no one else in his right mind would even consider recording and turn it into something not just worthy of release, but listenable as well.

Listen, the snow is falling over town
Listen, the snow is falling everywhere
Between Empire State building
And between Trafalgar Square

Listen, the snow is falling over town

Listen, the snow is falling over town
Listen, the snow is falling everywhere
Between your bed and mine
Between your head and my mind

Listen, the snow is falling over town

Between Tokyo and Paris
Between London and Dallas
Between your God and mine
Listen, the snow is falling everywhere

Snow, dream
Snowfall
Snow, fly
Listen
Listen

The lyrics are oh-so-Yoko, but I love them in their simplicity. But I’m wondering of all the cities in the world she chose to use Dallas – was it because of JFK’s assassination? I just think it’s strange. And you might want to quibble with his personal attributes, but Phil was a genius: listen to how he introduces the sleigh bells into the song and the way the guitars and keyboards create a pastiche of wintery wonder. It’s pure Phil.

Galaxie 500 did a very awesome cover of this tune. Without Yoko’s shrill they’re able to bring out not just the pretty melody but turn it into a quasi-’60s psychedelic version. I like it. A Lot.

Thea Gilmore did a really nice version of this as well.

Anytime you can get a wide variety of artists to translate a song and do a good job of it, you know the original tune had something going for it. Whether you like Yoko’s stuff or not, her music always provided folks with a lot of room for improvisation.

And speaking of Phil, check this site out. It’s pretty cool.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:07 | Comments (0)
February 21, 2015

Big props to “America’s Mayor” Rudy Giuliani for having the courage to call out Barack Obama by and questioning his love for America. Last I checked there was something called a constitutional right to free speech in this country, and Obama’s actions over the term of his presidency speak much louder than any words he could say.

Which, given his track record, would all be lies anyways.

And Hot Air’s Noah Rothman is right to call out the media for its selective outrage over someone having the indecency to even question President Progressive’s loyalties and motives in any way:

The press did not recoil in horror when former Vice President Al Gore screamed that George W. Bush “betrayed” the country. Nor did they feign outrage when Obama accused the 43rd President of the United States of being “unpatriotic” because he increased the debt at a pace that the 44th President of the United States would rapidly eclipse. And why would they? It’s not their place to defend the president’s reputation – he is, after all, merely a temporary civilian custodian of one branch of our republican government. Americans have a rather grand tradition of besmirching the character of our presidents, and it is a healthy and cherished one. By “civility,” the press really means deference and observance of subjectively assessed standards of decorum. That’s not merely bias, its servility.

…and of course, if you even dare to look at the Obamas in any way other than outright deference and leg-tingling adoration you must be a racist.

I agree with Rudy Giuliani. I don’t believe Barack Obama loves or respects America. When he views this country’s history he’s, as Kevin Williamson writes in National Review Online, he does it through the eyes of a radical socialist who sees America place in history as being achieved at the expense and exploitation of everyone else.

Does Barack Obama like America? The people around him certainly seem to have their reservations. Michelle Obama said — twice, at separate campaign events — that her husband’s ascending to the presidency meant that “for the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country.” She was in her mid 40s at the time, her “adult lifetime” having spanned decades during which she could not be “really proud” of her country. Barack Obama spent years in the Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s church as the churchman fulminated: “God Damn America!” The Reverend Wright’s infamous “God Damn America!” sermon charges the country with a litany of abuses: slavery, mistreatment of the Indians, “treating citizens as less than human,” etc. A less raving version of the same indictment can be found in the president’s own speeches and books. His social circle includes such figures as Bill Ayers and Bernadette Dohrn, who expressed their love of country by participating in a murderous terrorist campaign against it.

Does Barack Obama love his country? Call me a rube for saying so, but it’s a fair question.

And Williamson is right on target when he writes, why devote your entire presidency to “transforming” the country into something else if you love it?

Barack Obama’s actions from the very start of his presidency are not the actions of someone who loves this country and what it stands for. I’m not talking about blind wave-the-flag-and-shoot-off-fireworks patriotism here. I’m talking about a love for this country for the unique freedoms and opportunities it offers as the best hope for the world while recognizing our imperfections and past failures. But not fixating on them and making them the entire focus of your transformative goals to the point where everything (especially the Constitution) has to be ripped up and started all over again from scratch.

The actions of Barack Obama during his time as President are not those of a loyal American or a patriot. He has lied, and continues to lie, to the American people repeatedly and brazenly in order to push his political agenda. He has consistently chosen the rights and interests of illegal aliens over American citizens. He has chosen the interests of other nations over this country’s. He continues to choose the interests of Muslims in the world at the expense of Christians and Jews. And, more than anything else, he chooses the interests of himself over all else.

And all the while, the national media stays silent, except to pummel those who have the courage to “speak truth to power” (to coin a progressive phrase).

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 10:50 | Comments (0)
February 19, 2015

You look at pictures like this (it’s St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church in Hingham, MA) and I can’t even imagine what life in snow-bound and frozen New England is like these days. I know as much as I’d probably want to turn around and grab the next plane bound for Phoenix or Las Vegas or Palm Springs or San Diego as soon as the plane touches down, there’s a part of me that would like to spend a few days with family and friends just to take the whole historical aspect of it in.

Fortunately (or not fortunately) there’s just too much going on around the Great White Shank hacienda to allow it, so I’ll just hang outside on my 70-degree patio and glare at the pool where our $500 pool vacuum sits at the bottom like some happy-colored Titanic on its side doing nothing. I’ve cleaned the debris out of the skimmer baskets and made sure the motor wheel isn’t jammed. So it will be down to the pool place this weekend to have the unit checked out in the hope I can avoid a third service call next week (the plumbers coming Tuesday to rip up our sewer line in the front, the landscaping company coming Wednesday to repair a broken irrigation line in the back).

Sigh. I’ve never been more ready for Vegas.

But enough about us, back to the misery back home. With all that snow and cold my Goodboys peeps need something to make them long for swaying palm trees and gentle breezes by turqoise-blue waters. So here you go – it doesn’t getter a whole lot better than Astrid Gilberto and Stan “The Man” Getz. Can you say taste, class, and appreciation?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 16:06 | Comments (0)
February 18, 2015

…with props to Yoko Ono for the post title. Actually, it’s not that the Great White Shank household is all water, it’s that this week we’re all about water.

Actually, not just water, but water and sewer – you know, like the kind of commissions every town and city has. And believe me, outside of (perhaps) electrical, there’s nothing a homeowner fears more than issues involving water and sewer.

Unfortunately, this week we’re up to our eyeballs in both. In the front yard we’re going to have to have 44 ft. of sewer line ripped up because we’ve got a line that has lost its downhill slope on its way out to the town sewer line and a Y-joint that appears to have become dislodged to some extent from the town sewer. Which in turn means digging up the line, boring a tunnel underneath our sidewalk, and cutting through the concrete in our driveway to fix. The cost? eight – count ‘em, eight – Gs. In the back yard I’ve got old landscaping lines that have become so brittle that when I tried to cap a leak a couple of weeks ago the line kept splitting down the side. I suppose the easiest solution would be to dig the line up myself down to the main connection and cap it there, but I’m not sure I won’t find even more problems. Or even be able to cap it there. The thing is, I know I’ve got leaks in the system – my water bill tells me so – so I’ll be making a call out to my landscaping company to get it fixed short-term and a quote for ripping up the entire system and replacing it with new tubing. And I’m guessing that could be a couple more Gs right there.

The sad thing is that we had been making truly great progress on getting our credit card bills down. Now we’ll just have to stay patient, get what needs to be done done and pick up the good fight from there.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 20:26 | Comment (1)
February 17, 2015

Boston’s Prudential Tower isn’t exactly that buried but it’s close. Thanks to fellow Goodboy “Killer” Kowalski for the pic. That’s awesome! A few other thoughts…

Now I know why Lady Gaga wears all kinds of masks in her videos. I think she’s hideous.

Another Vegas icon goes the way of the kiwi. Sad to see the Riviera go, but it was looking pretty shoddy the last time we stopped in.

State Department spokesperson Marie Harf is hands down the most stupid person on the planet. Whenever she opens her mouth it feel like the entire world’s IQ drops three points at a minimum. Back before feminism and political correctness became oh so au courant there was the term “dumb broad”. That’s her.

You know how desperate Harf is to counter those who consider her comments ridiculous and not worthy of a State Department spokesperson? When she starts using George W. Bush as a reference. A member of the Obama administration invoking the likes of Chimpy McHitler? My God, liberal heads must be exploding all over the universe.

I forgot to congratulate Pedro Martinez on his election to baseball’s Hall of Fame. I’ve seen a lot of pitchers in my time, but there was no one better than Pedro Martinez between 1999 and 2001.

This is as good an observation on the NBC/Brian Williams fiasco as it gets. Pretty good photoshopping if I do say so myself.

Rather than go on about it, it’s just easier to say President Barack Obama is not just a fool, he’s an ignorant one as well. He sure doesn’t know constitutional law – that’s a given – and he sure doesn’t know history.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 22:05 | Comments (0)

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