April 15, 2015

Remember these days just about six weeks ago? Well, things are coming along fairly nicely, as both the landscaping guys and Carmelo our landscape guy promised. What was once a torn-up and ravaged front yard is starting to look almost like a lawn again:

After the landscape guys did their final clean-up, Carmelo and the boys came by and removed another top layer of dirt to get rid of all the remaining clumps of clay that were left, then did a nice job smoothing it all out. Two week of five minutes of watering a day settled the dirt areas further, allowing Carmelo to lay down strips of sod. The picture here is what it looks like after ten days of watering four minutes, three times a day. I think it’s coming along nicely.

The last thing I did was take the hose to the driveway and street to push all the dirt that had made our address look like a construction site into the gutter and gave it all a big push with the hose. The majority of the dirt is now caked dry between our driveway and that of our next-door neighbor, just waiting for the first monsoon thunderstorm of the year to push it all further down the street to the storm drain that lies at the end.

It also felt good to sweep and wash down the garage – there was a lot of dirt being tracked into the house. And then I gave all the floors a good washing.

As far as the front yard goes, everything is returning back to normal.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:47 | Comments Off on Front Yard Update
April 14, 2015

Now that the Masters tournament is over, can the 2015 Goodboys Invitational be far behind? I’ve got mine, have you got yours?

For our 25th year (!) it looks the EXEC-COMM has us moving from the Portsmouth, NH seacoast to historic Plymouth, Massachusetts, virtually guaranteeing (considering the Goodboys slavery to pop culture) a Thanksgiving-ish theme full of Pilgrim and Native American references and symbolism. Since she claims to be something like 1/32 Native American, I wonder if we can get Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren to hit a ceremonial drive off the first tee to get things started?

It all starts three months from this coming Friday; looks like it’s time to start getting serious and playing some golf.

Twenty-five years. I sure hope EXEC-COMM has some suitably-commemorative surprises in store.

Oh, BTW, I accept. 🙂

Filed in: Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 02:42 | Comments Off on The Great White Shank Accepts
April 13, 2015

“I would love to see Sergio win but if I were forced to make a pick I gotta go with Speith – he’s red-hot right now.” – The Great White Shank, April 9 post.

OK, so maybe in retrospect it wasn’t that bold a pick – after all, Masters champion Jordan Spieth had been the hottest player on the planet over the past month – but it doesn’t take away from my amazement at just how well Spieth not only competed, but comported himself from the very start of the 2015 Masters until its end. You could tell from his post-round interviews each day that this is one young man who grew up right, with a respect not just for the game and its traditions, but all those who love it and are involved with it.

Some are already trying to compare Spieth’s ascendance with that of Tiger Woods, but watching the press conference Spieth gave afterwards, I was struck by the similarities between him and Arnold Palmer. Like Palmer, Spieth has a very humble demeanor that masks a killer instinct beneath the surface. Don’t believe me? I loved the way he answered a question from the British media about how much he is looking forward to competing at St. Andrew’s during The Open Championship in July. Spieth said all the right things: how he’s looking forward not just to playing, but also seeing the town and meeting all the folks there. And then he wondered aloud what it would be like were he to be shooting for the third leg of a Grand Slam. He said it with a twinkle in his eye, but you could tell he’s already moved the goalposts to winning the U.S. Open in June. Arnie was the same way – friendly and gracious on the outside but inside he wanted to beat your brains out on the course.

It was Ben Crenshaw who said that meeting Jordan Spieth for the first time was like meeting Wyatt Earp – he had that assassin’s look in his eye. But he also marveled at how gracious and mature a 21-year old he was. To be a competitor and crave success is not an unusual quality in professional golf; to have that and also be humble, gracious, and courteous to all, well that’s a combination geared towards success on every imaginable front.

I think Jordan Spieth is going to go far. Of course he’s only 21, and lots of things can (and probably will) happen on the long road he’s yet to travel. He obviously has the physical tools; I’m guessing he’ll find the character traits he’s been blessed with helpful against the ups and downs that are surely to come.

One thing is for sure: on Sunday at Augusta we saw a new star born. The world is Jordan Spieth’s oyster now, let’s hope for his sake and professional golf’s sake we have the privilege of seeing much more of this in the years to come.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 02:33 | Comments Off on A Star Is Born
April 10, 2015

Back in the days you had the “Big Three” of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Gary Player.

(I would argue the late Billy Casper should have been included to make it a “Big Four”, but I digress.)

Arnie, Jack, and Gary – three very different golfers and personalities, yet they somehow found a way to capture the media’s fascination in a way that linked each of them together and set them apart from their contemporaries.

Watching the Masters coverage on Thursday I was struck by the thought that we could – could – be witnessing the dawn of a new “Big Three” – three golfers equally different in their games, approaches, and personalities; each young enough to offer the promise of major tournament battles for the next decade or more.

I’m talking about Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, and Jason Day.

Think about it: you’ve got Rory, who, like Arnie, has a bit of the swashbuckler and showman in him, but also, like Arnie, has a drive to not just win but win in style. Oh sure, he likes to try and cover it up with an “aw shucks” kind of demeanor but you can see it in the way he attacks golf courses with his incredible length and deft touch. Then you have Jordan Spieth: like Jack Nicklaus he’s far beyond his years in terms of how he approaches the game. While unlike Jack he’s not going to over-power the field, you can already see evidence of how he’s capable of out-thinking them. And then you have Jason Day, a world traveler like Gary Player with whom he shares the same kind of genuine joy and enthusiasm for the game that should make him a fan favorite for years to come.

What do these three have in common besides their obvious talents and that they’re all still in their early twenties? The fact that each has the “it” factor: that quality that makes you stop whatever it is you are doing whenever you see them on the TV.

Only time will tell whether these potential “Big Three” find a way to connect with each other and through golf fans in a way that will set them apart from their peers, but judging from their body of work to date and how each approaches their craft I don’t see it as an impossibility by any means. Rory’s already got a few majors under his belt – when (not if) Spieth and Day start winning their share of them you can easily see the prospect of a new “Big Three” that will keep golf viewers coming back for more long after the Tigers and Phils have turned their respective lights off.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 01:44 | Comments Off on A New “Big Three”?
April 9, 2015

Again, cue the music.

OK, we’ve been waiting long enough. Winter has come and gone. The azaleas, magnolias, and dogwoods are in bloom all over Augusta National, and there’s really no point in speculating any more about Tiger Woods and everything else that has been speculated over a thousand times. The Masters tournament is here and it’s time to simply sit back and enjoy the spectacle for what it is. A few links to whet the appetite one last time.

What is it like to spend a day at Augusta? This is awesome – you really get a feel for the place and the event.

Is Tiger back? It seems Phil thinks so, but we’ll only know once dude gets in the thick of a tournament. My take: considering he hasn’t played a PGA Tour event for nine weeks I think it would be a lot to expect him to be in the thick of things come Sunday, but it’s also not unreasonable to imagine that come Sunday night everyone will be saying Tiger is back and ready to resume his pursuit of Jack’s 18 majors, and could be a threat at the U.S. Open come June. On the other hand, it’s also not unreasonable to imagine a scenario where regular play and walking a hard, hilly course triggers more than speculation of another health issue that could potentially sink another year. At this point, with Tiger anything is possible.

I’m sticking with my circle of five players with the best chance of winning – Bubba Watson, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Speith, Adam Scott, and Sergio Garcia. I would love to see Sergio win but if I were forced to make a pick I gotta go with Speith – he’s red-hot right now. Outside of this circle, I’d be willing to consider Justin Rose, Patrick Reed, and Jimmy Walker. Then again, why not Brandt Snedeker?

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 02:28 | Comments Off on Let’s Get It On
April 8, 2015

The baseball season is underway, and it’s time for The Great White Shank’s fearless baseball predictions. Hope y’all are ready…

AL East: Blue Jays, Red Sox, Orioles, Rays, Yankees
AL Central: Royals, Tigers, Indians, White Sox, Twins
AL West: Mariners, Angels, Astros, A’s, Rangers

NL East: Nationals, Braves, Mets, Marlins, Phillies
NL Central: Pirates, Cardinals, Cubs, Reds, Brewers
NL West: Dodgers, Giants, Padres, Diamondbacks, Rockies

AL Playoff teams: Blue Jays, Red Sox, Royals, Tigers, Mariners
NL Playoff teams: Nationals, Pirates, Cardinals, Dodgers, Giants

AL Champs: Red Sox
NL Champs: Dodgers

World Series: Red Sox over Dodgers

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 02:29 | Comments Off on Play Ball!
April 7, 2015

The Red Sox showed fine form to open the 2015 Major league Baseball season, providing something for every kind of optimist out there. Dustin Pedroia looked like his old healthy self, hitting two lasers into the seats for home runs, Hanley Ramirez showed the kind of pop the Sox hoped he would to help extend their lineup, Mookie Betts looks like he’s ready to pick up where he left off in 2014 in becoming the most exciting new player seen around these parts since Jacoby Ellsbury, and, most importantly, Clay Buchholz spun a beauty: seven innings of shutout baseball. Buchholz looked healthy and in command, in a good mental frame of mind, and his pitches showed the bite and location that has been missing over the better part of the last two seasons.

Of course, one game does not a season make, and there are 161 reasons to wonder if these Sox have what it takes to compete for a post-season spot. Will their starting rotation hold up? Same thing with the bullpen – especially if closer Koji Uehara isn’t able to return to 2013 form. Will uber-prospect Blake Swihart tear up AAA and bring some excitement to the catcher’s slot now that Christian Vasquez is out for the next year? Will right-fielder Shane Victorino be able to hold off the likes of Cuban prospect Rusney Castillo if the latter shows AAA he’s ready for the bigs without it becoming a clubhouse issue?

The answer to these questions will come in due time, but one thing is for certain: if the Sox can keep it close until the July 31 trading deadline, they’ve got significant chips in the minors to use in order to land a big-name starting pitcher or whatever other need they may have at the time. Until then, they ought to be both intriguing and (thanks Mookie and Dustin!) fun to watch.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 08:26 | Comments Off on A Great Start
April 6, 2015

Cue the music.

It’s my favorite week of the golf year, and I’m guessing it’s the favorite of most golf fans as well. Sure, it hasn’t been the same since Pat Summerall and Ken Venturi have passed, but this year, just like every other year, I want it all: from the first time Jim Nantz signs on with his folksy traditional “Hello, friends”, to the always awkward post-tournament sit-down in Butler cabin.

No golf tournament captures the very essence of what the Masters brings, not just as a golf tournament but as a cultural event. Is it because it’s the first major of the year? Is it because with all its beauty and azaleas bursting forth in a rainbow of colors it signifies winter is over and a new golf year beckons? Is it because of the way Augusta National Golf Club sturdily hangs on to tradition, from the ceremonial tee offs on Thursday to the green jacket presentation on Sunday, when all around everything seems to be going to $hit? Or maybe it’s simply because this is the one major that’s played at the same place, at the same time of year, every year. Regardless, it’s my favorite major, and I’m guessing if you were to poll professional golfers everywhere it’s the one major the vast majority would long to capture above all others.

Lots of folks have their own ideas, my picks for the green jacket could come from any of the below five, not in any particular order:

1. Adam Scott
2. Bubba Watson
3. Jordan Speith
4. Sergio Garcia
5. Rory McIlroy

It ought to be a great week. Masters weekend is always a special weekend in the Richard household. As usual, Tracey and I have our Masters viewing plans set in stone. She’ll be rooting for Phil Mickelson, but, frankly, I don’t see him standing a chance this year – I’m afraid Phil’s moment in the sunshine has come and gone. On Saturday I’ll be making a full breakfast complete with mimosas; on Sunday it will be the same thing, except for the Bloody Marys.

It’s Masters week – bring it on!

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 00:51 | Comments (2)
April 5, 2015

Well, thery’re not exactly lilies but the timing is sure right for what I think is a Yucca plant. Not only is the plant growing like a weed – all you have to do to make it grow is take a cutting and stick it in the ground – but the flowers are more numerous and bigger than last year’s edition. They’re kinda funky-looking for sure, but they are pretty in their own way. And you can’t beat the white color: it matches perfectly what altars all across Christendom will be clothed with come Sunday (or Saturday night for those churches who do the Great Vigil of Easter).

Happy Easter from the Goodboys and Goodboys Nation weblog!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:38 | Comments Off on Easter Flowers
April 4, 2015

I’ve been watching with detached bemusement the whole manufactured brouhaha over the state of Indiana’s so-called “Religious Freedom” legislation that Governor Mike Pence finally signed into law on Thursday – legislation that the Indiana legislature was forced to water down in the face of an entirely media-spawned “Days of Outrage” that featured every sort of liberal blowhard from Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy, the NCAA, and – of course – homosexual and transsexual activist groups and organizations of all stripes descending upon Indiana like a pack of hungry hounds being tossed a ribeye.

It was oh-so sickening yet oh-so predictable.

First, let me say it’s a damned shame Republicans and conservatives feel the need to have to wade into such troubled waters like this, but the fact is that religion in America is under assault by the mainstream liberal media, the liberal courts, and, of course, gay-rights activists and organizations who somehow feel the need to make everyone miserable so they can feel good about themselves and the lifestyles and relationships they have chosen to participate in.

Think that’s hard? I don’t. Anytime you have florists, bakeries, and all kinds of businesses being fined and threatened with closure simply because out of their own religious convictions they denied to provide services to gay couples seeking to marry that should be an alarm bell to religious-freedom lovers everywhere. The horror of it! I mean, you would think that rather than declining to bake a cake or create a floral arrangement they had threatened to blow off the heads of prospective gay customers with a sawed-off shotgun. But that’s what you get in an America increasingly-driven by a liberal media hell-bent on instituting tolerance and acceptance when the very folks making these kinds of accusations as a means to drive the gay-rights agenda are anything but.

Listen, I don’t care who others choose to sleep with or spend their lives with. That’s their business. Are they living in sin? Well, orthodox and traditional Christianity thinks so, but then again so aren’t millions of other folks living in heterosexual arrangements outside of what the Church defines as “traditional marriage”. And when it comes to discrimination, let’s be clear about what discrimination is and what it isn’t. If a business refuses to do business with a group based on color, creed, sexual orientation, or whatever, that’s discrimination. But it is not discrimination to refuse to provide services to individuals based on behavior or requests you don’t agree with. Just as a church might, say, refuse to offer the sacrament of Holy Eucharist, and/or ask a couple (same-sex or otherwise) to leave the premises because they’ve been kissing and/or making a scene of themselves during a service, so may an up-scale restaurant also refuse to seat me were I to show up in a Harley-Davidson tank-top and jeans. Just as an atheist florist may not refuse to do business with Jews, Muslims, or Christians as a group, a bakery should be able to refuse a request for, say, a bachelorette party cake featuring a phallic symbol as its centerpiece.

There is little doubt that religion as a whole – and Christianity in general – is under attack in America. Unfortunately, that attack is coming from a relatively small yet extremely media-savvy and powerful group of activist organizations hell-bent on enforcing their own political agenda on everyone else. I believe most gay people are good and decent and just want to live their lives in peace like everyone else. Problem is, in this day and age where social media is everywhere you have activist groups whose sole purpose is to be offended and push folks around whenever they detect any kind of offense or potential for same. And their utter hypocrisy is beyond breathtaking: look at Apple’s Tim Cook – he’s all pissed off about the Indiana law because of its supposed potential for discriminating against gays, yet he has absolutely no problem with exploiting the poor by choosing to manufacture Apple products in sweatshops around the world and selling Apple products in Middle East countries where gays are not just discriminated against, but killed simply for being homosexual.

Hot Air’s Jazz Shaw summarizes the whole Indiana brouhaha far better and more eloquently than I ever could:

When Mike Pence decided to modify the RFRA to ensure that no business would “discriminate” against LGBT persons, he essentially caved in to the forces of narrative media machine and turned the law into little more than lip service which protects nobody. The more we allow a politically powerful minority which is favored by the media to cow both elected representatives and justices on our courts, the less control we have over our own lives. And worst of all, we will continue to dilute and poison the definition of actual discrimination until it becomes a laughing stock.

Indeed.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:24 | Comments (6)

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