January 31, 2016

Can you believe it’s already one down, 11 to go for 2016. It’s frightening how fast time is passing. Must be my (relatively) old age. A few thoughts as we head into February and actually voting (it’s about time!) in the presidential primary season.

Played golf yesterday and felt for the very first time a bit of a sting from the afternoon sun. Saw my first feathery acacia budding. And the mourning dove activity has really ramped up this past week. Lots of cooing and squawking on the rooftops. Spring is truly on the way.

Who’s gonna win the Iowa caucuses? Well, for Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders it’s all about mobilizing first-time caucus-goers to get out there and swamp the Cruz and Clinton folks. I’m telling ya, nothing would surprise me this year. Strap yourselves in; it’s gonna be a wild ride.

Not being a political animal like yours truly is, I trust Tracey’s judgment from her off-hand comments from watching what little of the debates she has to date, and her initial observation about Ted Cruz was that he was insufferably rude by talking long-past the bell over and over again. Seemed very arrogant and not a nice guy. Which is a side to him that has come out over the past week as his campaign desperately sought to hold off Donald Trump’s poll numbers.

That being said, I don’t trust any polls and the news media that wants to focus solely on the horse race and none of the substantive issues that really need to be hashed out in the public arena. The FOX News debate the other night was a joke, with Megyn Kelly, Brett Bair, and Chris Wallace continually trying to bait the candidates into confrontation. Can’t we do better and just have a substantive discussion about issues?

Is too much gym bad for you? Well, I suppose too much of anything isn’t good for you, but in the case of gym I guess it all depends on what you’re doing there and how you structure your workouts:

All this gym nonsense reaches its climax in January, as people resolve to become healthier in the new year. The tendency has been made worse of late by the no-alcohol fad, Dry January. Who thought up that particular incarnation of Orwellian nightmarishness? Agreeable nights are dampened by once-witty pals clutching mineral water and gazing mournfully at a ragged slice of lemon. At least with Lent, there’s a moral purpose to self-denial; but eschewing alcohol in the bleakest month is heaping misery on desolation – then punishing your friends and family with your sanctimony.

We’re just about at the time when all the new folks who showed up right after the New Year as a resolution start drifting away, to be back next year and try all over again. Me? Four times a week seems about the right amount for me – any less, and being the lazy bugger I am I would find myself making excuses not to go. Even if I don’t do a hard or regular workout, I find just being around people working out is good for my mindset. If I don’t feel like weights or machines I can always do time on the stair-master and/or treadmill and some stretching or balance work and still get something out of it. The idea is to just do it! and make it as part of your life.

I don’t think this would happen on any of my Jet Blue flights. But then again, any time you fly these days you have to gird yourself. People are basically nuts.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 11:30 | Comment (1)
January 26, 2016

I’ve been a big fan of Hawaiian music for years and had collected a relative good bit of it following our cruise to Hawaii a number of years ago, but it wasn’t until I caught The Descendents – a really fine George Clooney flick (actually, come to think of it, does George ever do any bad movies?) that I realized how much I missed its joyful, sad, and calming influence. So what to do? Why, create a new music collection, of course!

Introducing Hawaiian Style!

You think of Hawaiian music, you think ukeleles, but there’s more to it than that. And, like any music genre there’s good and there’s bad. But in working through this collection I think I’ve found some great stuff, and if you’re interested in hearing some of the artists that make up my collection you can check them all out on Amazon Music.

The Sounds of Hawaii
The soundtrack to The Descendents
Hawaiian Style Band
Keali’l Reichel
Kuana Torres Kahele
Moana Chang
Robi Kahakalau, who has the most sensual voice this side of Stevie Nicks…
Tikiyaki Orchestra
‘elua Kane

… plus a variety of other stuff like Hawaiian-themed instrumentals and even a few Hawaiian-themed cuts by none other than George Harrison, who not only loved Hawaiian music, but was said to carry a dozen or more ukuleles in the trunk of his car to give to friends.

Listening to Hawaiian music while working or while hitting balls on the driving range instills this tired soul with the invigorating and uplifting spirit of “Aloha”! If you’re interested check some of these artists out and build your own Hawaiian collection.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 21:32 | Comments Off on New Music Collection: Hawaiian Style!
January 23, 2016

A warm and cloudy day in the Valley of the Sun so I’ll take advantage of not having to lather on sunscreen and go hit balls in advance of my “2016 opening day” round coming this week. In the meantime:

Not sure why, but for some reason, George Harrison’s hauntingly-beautiful and complex Marwa Blues sums up the mood this weekend. I just love all the backwards-played sounds that usher in the opening.

If you’re from the Boston area like I am (and even if you’re not) you’ll get a kick out of this. It’s pretty funny.

…Which reminds me, whenever I see William Devane hustling gold for Rosland Capital I can’t help but think of his JFK accent on the TV mini-series, The Missiles of October. Martin Sheen’s accent as Bobby Kennedy made him sound like a chipmunk attending Haaahvid Yaaahd.

I have to admit, I always found Hillary Clinton to be a repulsive, conniving, unethical and lying b**ch, but I never could have imagined her being as reckless and clueless regarding our nation’s security as this whole e-mail server thing is revealing her to be more with each passing day. What could she have been thinking? What was her staff around her thinking? I have to say I’m beginning to come around to thinking she’s not going to make it and that she will be indicted.

If this is true I would certainly hope so! If Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez and Sandoval can reverse their embarrassing performances from last year by getting their collective acts together the Red Sox could be very interesting to watch this year.

Not that I ever have to worry about being snowed in ever again, but back in the day milk, eggs, and bread were never on my shopping list ahead of a big snowstorm. Booze and candles, definitely!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 13:56 | Comment (1)
January 22, 2016

Question: What does that supposed icon of the conservative movement National Review have in common with the likes of Jane Fonda, Harry Belafonte, Michael Moore, Saul Alinsky, and other card-carrying members of the radical Left?

Answer: It too has come out strongly against Donald Trump’s candidacy for President of the United States.

Hard to believe on this end – I mean, over the past eight months or so National Review first tried to ignore Trump, but then as he rose in the polls and then stayed at the top I noticed their columnists becoming more vocal and strident in their various columns and online posts, to the point where the only thing missing was the drooling. And in the past couple of weeks, two of their most highly respected journalists, Charles Cooke and Kevin Williamson, became absolutely unhinged at everything and anything Trump. And to now see NR come out with an edition dedicated to trashing Trump and his campaign, well, I guess I’ve now seen it all.

A few thoughts:

First and foremost, one has to understand that William F. Buckley’s creation is not the same breed of cat it once was, either in terms of quality and/or influence. It remains, I’m guessing, an influential voice in the center-right conservative movement, but it just reeks of RINO (Republican In Name Only) thinking with its support for open borders and amnesty for illegal immigrants. And as a willing accomplice in the New York-Washington mainstream media cabal, its chardonnay-swilling cocktail party elitists have barely been able to contain their disdain for the conservative right and the Tea Party movement. Ol’ Bill used to say to vote for the most conservative candidate you could get who could win. And while it is true a single vote hasn’t been cast yet, given Trump’s standing in the polls, where he’s light years ahead of whomever might be second given the poll, it seems strange (at least to me) for NR to give any Republican, let alone Trump, the deep-six at this point in time. But maybe they think they still have enough influence on conservatives to pull votes away from Trump before the primaries start a week from Monday in Iowa. Personally, I doubt it.

Secondly, I don’t see how this hurts Trump in the least. Just yesterday we were hearing Ted Cruz and others starting to refer to Trump as the Washington establishment’s candidate because of all the negativity surrounding Cruz’s supposed temperament and his inability to get along with members of Congress (who obviously can’t stand the guy). With a political and media establishment icon like National Review now coming out so strongly against him, that will only play to Trump’s position as the true outsider in a year where no one seems inclined to support insiders. In addition, what this does is confirm the suspicions of most true conservatives that NR is not really one of us anymore, that their staff would much rather lose a presidential race showing good form and little passion (like John McCain and Mitt Romney’s campaigns did) then actually win.

Finally, it’s not just Donald Trump that National Review has an issue with, it’s Trump’s supporters as well, whom they obviously see as a bunch of dumb morons who lack the ability to distinguish between “proper” candidates like Marco Rubio and Jeb! Bush, and a bombastic, plain-speaking egomaniac like Trump. As a part of the GOP establishment, NR is horrified at the very idea that someone like Trump could actually win. I’m guessing both Trump and those supporters who even know what National Review is will wear this particular action as a badge of honor.

Personally, I’ve always said that my support for Trump has as much to do with seeing the GOP establishment burned to the ground and left to rot in political hell as much as it does with the candidate himself. Trump is the very antithesis of what National Review is, and what the GOP establishment is. He’s a doer, not a talker. He’s not afraid to speak plainly, and he eschews political correctness, open borders, and illegal immigration. He’s not interested in playing the game to get along, his only concern is to win. It’s no wonder NR fear Trump’s ascendency! And the fact that you’ve now got NR coming at Trump from the right at the same time the Fondas, Belafontes and Moores of the world come at him from the left, well, that reminds me of that old World War II adage that if the flak you’re taking is thick, it must mean you’re over the target.

Rock on, Donald – you must be doing something right!

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 05:06 | Comment (1)
January 19, 2016

I know the calendar says January 19 and in the northern parts there’s still a long way to go before the word “Spring” is even whispered. And here in the Valley of the Sun it has been a colder winter thus far than usual, to the point where I’m actually beginning long myself for some heat. (No worries there, it’ll be here before I know it.) But you cannot deny that, while the mornings are still painfully dark and slow to come around, the afternoons are starting to push back against the sun, the days are starting to get longer.

The first hint of Spring around here comes with the mourning doves. The other day I say the first congregation of doves on a neighbor’s rooftop, and this morning was the first in a long time where I can actually hear the familiar cooing of a dove casting about for a mate. You can be sure the Richard household has the welcome sign out full for the doves, and we’ve got a lemon and a lime tree just begging for a nest. We’ll see what happens.

I haven’t officially opened the 2016 golf season yet but dragged the clubs to the driving range for the first time this year to start shaking the rust off. Now that the PGA Tour has left Hawaii and set sail for California, we’re only two weeks away from the Waste Management Open, and it’s right around then I usually plan my first round of golf.

I checked the feathery acacia out back just the other day – that’s the first bush that blooms around here, in the same yellow that my folks and Goodboys friends see when the forsythia blooms up north – but all seems quiet.

Otherwise, there’s not much to do around here – the pool has enough chlorine in it to choke a horse – not that it stops the sparrows and foo-foo birds from regular visits throughout the day. The lawns on both the front and east sides have taken nicely, the dichondra in the back is about 70% there. With not much going on outside the focus is on inside the house and cleaning and doing one room every weekend from top to bottom while the getting is good.

The gym is packed with all the newbies trying to shed weight for the start of the New Year, but most of them will be gone by the time Valentine’s Day rolls around. I’m two weeks into my four-week liver detox – no caffeine, no alcohol – but could easily see this being extended out for another month, we’ll see.

Exotica tune of the day: Tikiyaki Orchestra – Hawai’i Nocturne.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 08:55 | Comments Off on Just a Hint of Spring
January 18, 2016

Work has been crazy the last couple of weeks with a fast start to the New Year. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things worth blogging about…

If the presidential race were to come down to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, y’all know where I stand. When it comes to the daughters of the two – Chelsea vs. Ivanka – it’s no contest! Here, let’s compare:


I be lovin’ some Exotica music this month. Here’s something by Kava Kon I know you’ll like.

…and speaking of music, R.I.P. Glenn Frey of the Eagles. Gifted singer and guitar player. Loved his drug-dealer role on Miami Vice, which reminds me of this great song and classic video. Always loved the opening lyrics:

The sun goes down, the night rolls in
You can feel it starting all over again
The moon comes up and the music calls
You’re gettin’ tired of starin’ at the same four walls

Personally, my favorite Glenn Frey Eagles tune was Already Gone. On the Border was a very underrated album!

I guess it truly is the “Twilight of the Rock Gods”

I think this explains the Trump phenomenon perfectly.

For Hillary the hole just keeps getting deeper and deeper. I mean, shouldn’t it be obvious by now that the most repulsive woman on the face of the planet insisted on her own personally-hosted e-mail so she could trade State Department favors in return for Clinton Foundation donations?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 21:35 | Comments Off on Back In The Saddle Again
January 15, 2016

Congratulations to FOX Business Channel for a well run and substantive debate. Outside of whenever Jeb Bush spoke with that weird facial and vocal tic of his, it was quite enjoyable to listen to. And a marked contrast from every single Democratic debate held so far. Of course, you can’t have a debate without winners and losers, so here are mine:

Winners: Donald Trump, Chris Christie and Marco Rubio. Trump was absolutely the “big dog” on stage. His answer to Ted Cruz on “New York values” was a haymaker that Cruz never really came back from. His diplomatic response to the question about South Carolina governor Nikki Haley’s criticism of him shows just how far he has come as a candidate, turning Haley’s comment about being angry into a sentiment that resonates with Joe 6-pack and many Americans. Sure he had his awkward moments as he always will but Trump was passionate non-politician amongst politicians. Marco Rubio had his best performance ever, being forceful and absolutely annihilated Cruz and his voting habits in the Senate. And Christie also had some good moments, especially when he inserted himself into the non-answers to entitlement reform being given by Sens Rubio and Cruz.

Losers: Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz. I may be in the minority here, but I don’t Ted Cruz did himself any good tonight. He had a fantastic opening, but after Trump nailed him on “New York values” he seemed set back on his heels. Rubio’s indictment of his flip-flopping was one of the best moments of the night, and it ought to get a lot of play. Cruz attempted to filibuster his way out of a couple of criticisms, but in my view he came off as a bit petulant. Jeb Bush? He was awful. What on earth did the GOP establishment see in this guy? I wonder how all those PACs who poured 90 million dollars into his campaign feel now?

Non-entities: Ben Carson and John Kasich. Not sure what else to say there.

Methinks going forward the dynamics of the campaign remain the same: Trump is going to continue to dominate, with Cruz and Rubio nipping at each other’s heels to try and get mano-a-mano with The Donald. Given his performance tonight I could see Christie elevated to talk as a VP candidate.

And I pray like hell to never have to listen to Jeb! again. Go home, Yeb, and do it as an “act of love” to us all.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:43 | Comments Off on Debate Wrap
January 14, 2016

Believe it or not, it wasn’t that long ago that Jeb Bush, the GOP establishment’s choice for nominee was near or at the top of the polls. And then came Donald Trump and his “low energy” attacks on Bush. Several months later, how the mighty have fallen:

Wednesday night. A Jeb Bush rally.

Wednesday night. A Donald Trump rally:

You just don’t see this kind of outpouring in a Republican primary campaign. Something is happening across the country that very few people are plugged into. I guarantee you the East Coast political and media establishments in New York and Washington don’t. They can’t even fathom how a Donald Trump can attract that many people. Sure, it’s still early, and no one has actually voted yet. But like they say, a picture tells a thousand words, doesn’t it?

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 22:40 | Comments Off on A Tale Of Two Campaigns
January 12, 2016

I was looking forward to James Bradley’s book The Imperial Cruise, a story about a political mission undertaken during Teddy Roosevelt’s presidency by his Secretary of War William Taft and his daughter Alice, among others, to reinforce Roosevelt’s world view and design in Asia, as a result of his previous works, Flags of our Fathers and Flyboys, both of which I enjoyed. Unfortunately, instead of a careful and serious look at a lesser-known aspect of Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency, I got instead an endless diatribe about the evils of American imperialism and how our entire history and worldview is based solely on Anglo-Saxon racist imperialism and that, basically, we deserved everything we got when it came to World War II. Uh huh.

Now, maybe there’s more then a shred of truth in that. But it’s also possible that the people we have conquered and subjugated since our founding were just as ruthless to the people they themselves displaced over prior centuries. Human nature is human nature. Only technology and the culture of any given time changes. I don’t know, I’m just raising that possibility. Which, by the way, Bradley could have tried to do as well, except that he was far more interested in “history as harangue”. Most certainly, our country could have learned lessons from our experiences in the Philippines insurrection and applied them so as to avoid what happened in Vietnam six decades later. And maybe it is true that Roosevelt’s double-dealing with Japan set the countries on a track towards war less than four decades hence. But then again, maybe Japan and its newly-acquired thirst for Asian domination wouldn’t have resulted in anything different. And anyone who knows the history of Hawaii knows all about the tragic circumstances that resulted from its discovery by the white man. Like, I get it, OK?

But there’s no point in crying over spilled milk, and here Bradley just lost me. If the point of his book was to make America the villain in just about everything that ever happened since the colonies came about, well, that’s his view. If the point of his book was to show folks how evil the U.S. is and what a racist bully TR was, well those were different times. I really tried to fight my way through Bradley’s screed, but after a while it just got tiresome. Which turned the book into what I call a “bad book” – one not worth the space it would take in my book case. So do you know where bad books go in the Richard household?

Like, I suppose, TR in a way, Peach has a rather uncompromising view when it comes to new books he finds in his area. Books are for scratching, chewing, and subjugating in his own bunny way. Covers, especially, are a favorite – they are pulled, tugged, ripped off, and then unmercifully shredded. To me it’s a win-win situation: I don’t have an overabundance of bad books, and Peach get a new play toy.

Sorry, James, better luck with your next book.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:40 | Comments Off on Where Bad Books Go To Die
January 11, 2016

Was thinking about this tune the other day. One of my – and my brother Mark’s – all-time favorite Pink Floyd tunes. Goes back to Syd Barrett, Piper At The Gates of Dawn days, but our favorite version was always from the Ummagumma album. Always loved the spacy lyrics:

Lime and limpid green, a second scene
A fight between the blue you once knew.
Floating down, the sound resounds
Around the icy waters underground.
Jupiter and Saturn, Oberon, Miranda and Titania.
Neptune, Titan, Stars can frighten.

Lime and limpid green, a second scene
A fight between the blue you once knew.
Floating down, the sound resounds
Around the icy waters underground.
Jupiter and Saturn, Oberon, Miranda and Titania.
Neptune, Titan, Stars can frighten.

Blinding signs flap,
Flicker, flicker, flicker blam. Pow, pow.
Stairway scare, Dan Dare, who’s there?

Lime and limpid green, the sounds around
The icy waters under
Lime and limpid green, the sounds around
The icy waters underground.

Barack Obama’s final State of the Union speech should be so imaginative!

…but I digress.

So it was a great surprise to me when we saw the Floyd in Washington, D.C. during their 1994 Division Bell tour (the absolute best concert I will ever see) that I almost jumped out of my socks to hear it played as their opening song. Sadly, the Pulse DVD of that tour has them opening with Shine On You Crazy Diamond – not bad in and of itself, but a disappointment for sure, especially since it wasn’t included in any bonus track.

As usual, I’m afraid I’ll have to ask y’all to turn the volume up at this time. 🙂

Still, it is interesting to see how the song evolved between the original 1967 studio track and how it was performed live at that time (which is awesome!), the live version on Ummagumma, and as played on the Division Bell tour. And not to be missed is this version by David Gilmour and Rick Wright with Gilmour’s band recorded at Abbey Road studios sometime after that. All are mesmerizing in their own ways!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:26 | Comments Off on Astronomy Domine


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