May 20, 2017

I’ve been saying all along that once the true extent of voter fraud during the 2016 election is finally known people are going to be astounded. Believe CNN, NPR and every other sniveling liberal bastion of lies and propaganda all you want, but there is no way Hillary Clinton won the 2016 popular vote legally. And – as my GOP upper-echelon guy told me after all the votes had been tallied – it will ultimately be shown that Trump should have won the states of Virginia, New Hampshire, and Minnesota if it weren’t for the extensive voter fraud. Perhaps even Nevada, New Mexico, and/or Colorado as well.

If this is the best the Democrats have for a Arizona gubernatorial candidate I would say they have a serious problem with their bench.

The Red Sox are hard to watch. So much of their pitching depth issues go back to that moronic decision last year by idiot John Farrell to have knuckleballer Steven Wright pinch run in a game. He ended up, of course, hurting his shoulder, was never right in Spring Training, and ended up getting injured again. Farrell should have been fired for that decision alone. Fortunately, I do still believe he’s going to be fired: the team sucks, it lacks discipline and an identity, and is horrible when it comes to playing fundamental baseball.

As long as replaces her ball properly after marking it, it would seem there’s nothing LPGA golfer Lexi Thompson can’t do.

When all is said and done Democrats are going to realize the extent of damage done to them in 2016 by Hillary’s “right hand man” Huma Abedin was incalculable. Heck, a bona fide Republican plant couldn’t have done any better. People are right to talk about Hillary’s judgment when it came to her e-mail server, but she can be equally faulted for her judgment relying on Huma’s judgment and her relying on hubby Anthony Weiner’s judgment. Bad judgment all around, I guess…

..but of course none of that matters because it was his Russia connections that gave the election to Donald Trump. Riiiiiiight.

Happened upon this song on the radio the other day and it reminded me just how damned good some of Neil Diamond’s earlier stuff could be. The song reminds me of bare trees, brown grass, and chilly Novembers walking in the woods alone in New England. Folks can laugh all they want, but Neil in his day could be real: his Robbie Robertson (The Band)-produced Beautiful Noise release from 1976 is one damned fine album – easily one that would fall inside my top twenty albums of all time.

There is a certain madness that seems to have taken over the political left in this country. I read stories like this and am damned glad that a month from now I’ll have my concealed carry license and my own weapon. The one thing I know about these so-called “activists” is that it never ends: there’s always something else they’re gonna be pissed off about and want to take away from other people. And I don’t think you should be screwing around with a nation’s history – you can’t wallpaper over who we are and how we got where we are. Simple as that.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:39 | Comments (0)
May 17, 2017

Glad to finally start feeling like I’m finally getting better after getting sick for the second time this year. I never used to get sick, ever, and here it is the second time in five months I’ve been laid waste to spend most of my time in bed. I’ll tell you this: if this is what getting old is gonna be like, count me out! :-)

I’ve been watching the mainstream media’s all-out war against Donald Trump’s presidency without much comment to date. After all, I think the guy knows what he is doing and has in his mind to do, it’s just that everything the media can possibly construe as negative and a roadblock to his agenda in any way is getting hyped so beyond belief that both they and the liberal left they are shilling for on a daily basis look like morons to most folks who live outside the Beltway and the usual liberal hotspots.

Think about it: The Obama administration unleashed Lois Lerner and the IRS to go after law-abiding Americans. The Obama administration put guns into the hands of Mexican thugs and drug lords as a way to increase gun violence along the southern border and serve as a reason for them to push their gun control agenda. The Obama administration went on camera and described every friggin’ aspect of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. The Obama administration leaked the use of a virus that attacked Iran’s nuclear program. The Obama administration put out Susan Rice to blame the Benghazi attacks on a video. There are still 30,000 e-mails Hillary Clinton hasn’t turned over to the FBI, and it is obvious beyond any reasonable doubt that she and Huma Abedin shared classified secrets in any number of unsecured ways.

Remember any special counsel that was assigned to look into those matters? Neither do I.

Because there wasn’t one.

I understand why, of course. Throughout his administration the GOP establishment allowed Barack Obama and his cronies to get away with murder – literally – because they were afraid the mainstream media wouldn’t love them anymore and would call them racists. (Which, of course, they would have.)

Anyone who has read the fine expose on Hillary Cinton’s failed campaign, “Shattered” knows that the entire Russia meddling story was cooked up by Hillary’s campaign the day after she lost because: a) they couldn’t believe for themselves that someone as reprehensible as Donald Trump could have beaten someone like Hillary Clinton in the presidential election, and b) they simply couldn’t bring themselves to admit that the reason for (a) was the fact she and her campaign ran a lousy campaign virtually from beginning to end. And to ensure that Trump’s presidency never gain a foothold in Washington, they enlisted all of their resources embedded in the federal government – most especially in the FBI, DOJ, and NSA – to do whatever it takes to give President Trump’s administration any whiff of legitimacy.

I mean, it’s really that simple. And even more than that, everyone in DC knew this was going to happen and knows this, and has simply accepted the fact that that’s how the game is going to be played going forward – perhaps even, I think, the Prez himself. Look at the people he’s surrounded himself with. Lots of Washington insiders from his Chief of Staff Reince Preibus on down. See, I think President Trump committed himself to try to work within the system to see if the system would be willing to meet with him half way. After all, that’s what a successful businessman does to be successful. If you work both sides, grease some palms, and negotiate tough in the end you’ll get most of what you were looking for in the first place.

I’m hoping President Trump is now finding out the hard way it doesn’t work like that. Which is why I’m glad that a special counsel has been appointed to get to the bottom of this so-called Russian conspiracy thing. Because when it’s over, I think the Prez should look at Reince and the staff they chose to go to war with and say, “Look, I tried to do it your way and see how much time we have wasted. Now I’m putting in my own people who will swear loyalty to me, and I’m canning the incompetents and the leakers.” Get rid of Reince (I’d love to see Newt Gingrich in that role), overhaul the way the White House communicates with the press, cancel the kind of daily circus the daily press briefings have become, move the press out of the West Wing, and revoke White House privileges for any news organization that publishes fake news using anonymous sources. And that means the Washington Post, the New York Times, CNN, and MSNBC to start. You can’t eliminate their rights to write and publish freely, but you can certainly make a statement about how you feel about the way they do business.

It’s sad because it shouldn’t have to be this way. There is no respect in the national media for the office of the President, they’ve reduced themselves to being nothing more than an arm of the political opposition in open resistance – if not rebellion – with President Trump and the voters who elected him to office. I mean, to follow Yahoo! News on a daily basis and see the regular drumbeat of stories like this is are a thing unworthy of a great republic, more akin to a banana republic. Obviously, Yahoo! News seems to not care that millions of people who use it as a home page voted for and continue to support President Trump. And all it does is feed the liberal left’s Trump Derangement Syndrome even more.

And this is not to say that the President himself doesn’t shoulder at least some of the blame. He’s allowed this circus to go on like it has instead of nipping it in the bud from the very first days of his administration. Even though he’s been in office a little less than four months, he’s got a lot to show for as far as accomplishments go, but his administration, most especially his White House Communications Office, seems woefully underequipped for the task. Don’t like what CNN or MSNBC is saying? Put forceful and articulate spokespeople on to push back. Threaten GOP House and Senate leaders with a 2018 midterm strategy where he will run against Congress and encourage GOP candidates to be primaried if they don’t start supporting his agenda more forcefully. After all, it was Trump who got himself elected, not the GOP establishment. He ran against Washington in 2016, I guarantee he’ll do it again if necessary. And this time he’ll be doing it from the bully pulpit.

Personally, I’m not worried about President Trump achieving most, if not all the goals he setout to accomplish when he ran in 2016 whenever his term ends. I have a gut feeling that these earliest of days in his administration will be looked upon as a time of discovery, seeing what worked and what didn’t, enabling him to fix the latter and clear whatever obstacles that existed out of the way. And I guarantee that when this Russia bullsh*t dust settles, he’ll be ready to make whatever changes are necessary.

Image courtesy of Political Cartoons

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 20:51 | Comments (0)
May 13, 2017

It was during my last test drive of irons at the PGA Tour Superstore that Cain, the sales associate and golf instructor wannabe referenced in this post, offered up a couple of suggestions after watching me hit some balls. I’ll repeat the pertinent aspects here for the purposes of this post:

…[Cain] also didn’t like the position of my club at address, it was tilted too far forward. He wanted to see the shaft pointing out of my belly button.

…Cain explained to me that having the club leaning forward in my stance and my grip taken together promote mis-hits because the club face was never square at contact.

He: “I’ll bet you pull a lot of shots to your right.”

Me: “When I’m not shanking them to the left.”

He: “No wonder you fight the shanks. You seem to have to work really hard to keep that club face square when you come through the impact zone. You need to think about the changes I suggested. Otherwise, every swing you take is a shank waiting to happen.”

Ever since that conversation I’ll admit to being haunted by it, because I knew deep down everything he had said was true. Because for the past few years, outside of a couple of nice (albeit short) good streaks I had prior to the last two Goodboys, I’ve really struggled with my irons – most especially my short irons. Hitting a green in regulation has become a distant memory. Lots of pulls and outright yanks combined with increasingly-regular visitations from the shanks. And I surely didn’t tell him that it had gotten worse – much worse – over the past six months, to the point where I’d lost all my confidence in my irons.

The first time I tried out my new irons at the Kokopelli Golf Club driving range, I wasn’t surprised that they didn’t make a damned bit of difference in how I hit them or how well they performed. It doesn’t matter if you’re Tiger Woods or a 24-handicap: put a set of clubs in your hand – any set of clubs, from any manufacturer – and you’ll end up shooting around the same score. It’s not the clubs, stupid, it’s the person hitting them.

It didn’t take my new irons long to realize they weren’t in Kansas anymore. I shanked the first four balls hit with my brand spanking new pitching wedge. After which I yanked a couple way right.

“I can’t live like this”, I said to no one in particular after apologizing to my new clubs – after all, they certainly didn’t deserve this. And it was then I decided that Cain might be right: it was time to throw out my whole set-up at address with my irons and start over. From scratch.

It was a big change I’d be making, almost like learning how to hit a golf ball all over again. Who knows how long I had taken to holding my irons like that at address? Maybe it had been years. Maybe it was just a bad habit I had fallen into recently – after all, I’ve never had the shanks as bad as I’ve had them since last fall. And I certainly don’t remember my swing coach Alex Black mentioning anything about it during any of lessons together. But when you’re hitting your irons as bad as I have been there’s clearly nothing wrong with throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Two trips to the driving range and four buckets later, I can officially say I’m in no man’s land, struggling with the new set-up, but confident that if I could ever get comfortable with the club position at address Cain suggested I’m going to hit the ball a lot straighter and more consistently, which is what it’s all about. I remember reading somewhere that noted golf instructor Dr. Jim Suttie has said it takes a thousand golf swings to implement a swing change, and I’m feeling it right now. Holding my irons at set-up without any kind of forward angle feels foreign and awkward. Instinctively, I want to use my upper body to come through the ball because I’m so afraid to shank the ball. Which is stupid, because I was having so much trouble with the shanks prior to this change. I guess that’s why Dr. Suttie also has that great saying, “Golf is hard.”

Right now I’m so in between that the ball is going everywhere: shanks, pulls, slices, chunks, skulls. But every once in a while – and today I was able to keep it together for a dozen swings for the first time before losing it again – when I’m able to stay quiet, not jump at the ball, staying quiet with my upper body and just focus on making solid contact with the ball it travels high and, most importantly, straight. I’m not worried right now about distance: I figure that will come later as I learn to make more solid contact and gain some confidence. For now I just want to hit my short irons straight.

Which is something else I’m doing different that I’ve never done before: outside of a couple of balls with every club the first time out just to see how they felt, the only clubs I’m currently hitting are the pitching wedge, 9-iron, and 8-iron, nothing else. There’s a method to the madness: these are the scoring clubs. If I want to play bogey golf (that’s still my goal; right now 2027 looks like a good target year!) I have to chop six strokes off my handicap. And the only way I’m going to do that is to get better results whenever I’m inside 120 yards. I’ve looked at my performance over the past few years and have carefully watched the games of my Goodboys I play with most regularly, and know my sloppiness and inconsistency inside that range is what has been holding me back the most. So those three clubs are the only clubs I’m hitting right now, and that’s how it will stay until I’ve learned to hit them consistently. And the same holds true as far as playing actual golf is concerned: there will be no practice rounds, either. If it takes me up to Goodboys Invitational weekend (or even beyond that), so be it – I’m committed to making this change and will do it come hell or high water.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 01:42 | Comments (2)
May 12, 2017

850 songs, that is, on my Zen Surf music collection featuring surf music both classic and contemporary from around the world. I’ll admit that since my last post on this most respected and underappreciated rock music genre, my collection has laid pretty much fallow since my last post nearly two years to the day. But a couple of things happened recently that inspired me to re-engage to see what was out there: 1) listening to it over the past few days while working made me realize it had become a little stale and predictable, and 2) stumbling on a couple of new (at least for me) and exciting surf bands while ordering other stuff on Amazon.com.

Regarding #1: it’s no surprise that I’d be posting about surf music around the same time as my last post. Just like August draws me into listening to classical music for a couple of months before the fall draws me back to music by Pink Floyd and Gordon Lightfoot, among others, and after the New Year my taste turns to my Tropical Breezes collection, as soon as spring starts thinking about turning into summer and the days start getting demonstrably warmer, I start listening to surf music. And as far as my Zen Surf collection goes, well, I’d put that up against anyone else’s surf collection. Still, it’s only natural that after a while you get used to hearing a lot of the same songs over and over again and you start thinking about what might be out there that you are missing.

Regarding #2: last Friday night I was poking around Amazon.com because I wanted to order the new Jimmy Buffett biography coming out in a few days (it will be my reading material when I go back to Massachusetts for Goodboys Invitational week in July) that Amazon pre-selected for me a release by The Bambi Molesters, a surf band from Croatia, which then led me to a band called Insect Surfers, which in turn led me to an all-girl band called The Neptunas, which finally led me to a wild and crazy “surf n’ roll” band Messer Chups from Russia. What can I say? I cranked up my Amazon Music application and started downloading like crazy.

The Bambi Molesters are a damned fine group – in fact, their release “As The Dark Wave Swells” is about as good a surf release as anyone has done. Their music is wonderfully arranged, not too crazy when loud, almost hypnotic in their quieter arrangements. And they have a very attractive bass player, Lada Furlan Zaborac, who plays as good as she looks. Here’s a YouTube video that’ll give you a good idea as to their look and sound. All their stuff is good.

Insect Surfers is a band from Washington, D.C., of all places. A solid surf band that serves up classic sounds with a hint (sometimes more than a hint) of psychedelia that has been around a long time – can’t believe I’d never heard of them. Here’s a YouTube video to give you an idea of what they look and sound like. Note the classic Fender equipment and the tiki in the background!

The Neptunas have what I would consider the most classic surf sound of the four bands. Lots of ’60s surf and garage rock influence here, almost as if the Go-Gos decided to go a little retro and try surf. I wouldn’t say their music is memorable, but it’s definitely surf and a worthwhile addition to the Zen Surf collection. Here’s a YouTube video of their sound.

I’ve saved the most exotic of the three for last. The only way I can describe Messer Chups is that they’re close to the surf band equivalent to what Pink Floyd was in how they use music as just one aspect of their multi-media approach. I’m still trying to figure out exactly what they’re identity is. Certainly, surf is the foundation for everywhere else their music takes them, but as their website explains:

In their music Messer Chups combine surf, beats, film samples, scratchy historical recordings, lounge-y and cartoon sounds from the 50?s and 60?s.The show is combined with video from trash cult movies of the middle of the last century – Betty Page, Bela Lugosi, zombies, Russ Meyer’s and Ed Wood’s heroes all mixed in video collages of the master Gitarkin. Messer Chups is the project of Russian composer Oleg Gitarkin, and while the band’s instrumental rock is hard to neatly categorize, it’s safe to say that it would be enjoyed by fans of rockabilly, horror punk, scratchy surf records, Italian slasher films, My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult, pulp fiction, lounge music, Ed Wood, the theremin, the Cramps, Russ Meyer movies and the theme song from “The Addams Family.” Gitarkin incorporates all of these elements and more, layering samples from Russian B-movies over weird vintage keyboard chirps and groovy horn loops.

What I found immediately striking about Messer Chups was that, like The Bambi Molesters, they have a female bassist named Zombie Girl or Zombierella who is – and I’m going out on a limb here – one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen. What can I say? Don’t believe me? Check out this YouTube video. It gives you a good idea of what the band sounds like. A few of their songs are a bit over the top – they really like to incorporate their love of horror into their music – but their music is unique and a welcome addition to Zen Surf.

So there you have it: in four very different bands a microcosm of why I love surf music so much. No bullshit rap, no phony synthesizers, just music played on real instruments that is clean and distinct. A genre that allows for lots of improvisation. A genre where you can’t hide behind space-age technology – either you can play or you can’t. And that includes female bass players. :-)

Dudes (and dudettes), my Zen Surf collection just keeps getting better and better.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:08 | Comments (0)
May 10, 2017

A few thoughts and comments at the midweek:

We had some pretty strange weather these past few days here in the Valley of the Sun. On Saturday we hit a high of 101, approximately ten degrees higher than normal, then saw the high on Sunday drop to a cool 72. Last night we actually had a quarter inch of rain from a storm moving across the state that actually brought the rain in from the southeast. Very unusual, considering: a) May is usually our second driest month (behind November), and b) rain from the southeast typically doesn’t happen until the monsoon season. And then tonight, bright moon shining down on the swimming pool from a hole in the clouds while rain poured down creating stars on the water. The air so clean and finally dust free, the cornstalk rustle of the palm trees – wish y’all could have seen it, it was a beautiful sight.

Yesterday morning, I was taking a break between calls and was talking to my neighbor John, and he remarked how we were living in paradise: the temperatures in the low 70s and a little humidity in the air – we could have been in a town outside San Diego. Not only that, but the houses in our subdivision are at the highest re-sale values he’s ever seen. You see, we’re benefitting not just from a rebounding economy – thank you President Trump! – but from all the building they are doing to the east and southeast, which is just making our location ten minutes from all the main freeways around here that much more desirable. In real estate, location is everything.

…Of course, in order to sell you have to somewhere to move. And right now we’re pretty content as to where we are.

I already liked VP Mike Pence, but knowing the Pences have a bunny for a pet only reinforces my view he’s a good man with a good family. You can even follow Marlon Bundo, “Bunny of the United States” on Instagram. He’s cute.

Just finished reading Robert Lusetich’s “Unplayable: An Inside Account of Tiger’s Most Tumultuous Season” and found it fascinating. Folks tend to forget that before his cheating-on-Elin scandal erupted Woods was playing at a very high level. It’s incredible to think we’ve now gone nearly nine – count ‘em – nine years without Woods winning another major. He was, and remains, a complex individual – one who, even with the incredible career he has had, I have little doubt would admit that he underachieved during his professional career. He futzed around with his swing too many times and made some questionable choices off the course that resulted in injuries he never should have had. Most importantly, he’s never sounded as if he were truly happy – a sad way to go through life. His father’s passing had an incalculable impact on him, but even before that he never projected himself as anything more than a brand to be cultivated and sold.

Frankly, I’m amazed FBI Director James Comey lasted this long. His handling of the Hillary Clinton e-mail affair was beyond incompetent, and he should have been amongst the first fired by Trump. He knew damned well what Hillary Clinton had done, knew what laws she had broken, but chose politics over the rule of law in order to accommodate the Obama administration, Loretta Lynch’s corrupt Department of Justice, and Clinton’s presidential aspirations.

…If I were Robbie Mook, Hillary’s former campaign manager, Comey’s firing should have him terrified – for his former boss. Hey Hillary, I’ve got two words you might want to write down for future reference: Grand Jury. Wouldn’t surprise me in the least if AG Jeff Sessions reopens the Hillary investigation and lets the courts decide whether what Hillary did as far as her e-mail server and classified information go rise to the level of prosecution.

…But somehow I think she already knows the answer to that question. I will say this: Donald Trump is holding one very large bargaining chip when it comes to the Democrats, and the funny thing is they’re too clueless to even realize it.

I tried to tell y’all based on what I saw of them in Spring Training, the New York Yankees are for real and are going to give the Sox and Orioles all they can handle in the American League East. And outside of a couple of players, they’re not an unlikeable bunch. I’m not sure they have enough pitching, but neither do the Sox. And don’t be fooled by the Sox’ offensive explosion of the past weekend – the Twins are awful. Wouldn’t surprise me to see the Sox and the Yanks go down to the wire as far as who finishes in first.

…along those same lines, it’s too bad the Sox had to bench CF Jackie Bradley, Jr.; he’s one of the players I truly enjoy watching. But after 3+ years it’s pretty clear that while he’s an incredibly-gifted CF, he’s also a frustratingly streaky hitter – something you just can’t have in a lineup with offensive holes at both 3B and catcher.

…along those same lines, isn’t OF Andrew Binentendi fun to watch? He’s going to be a good one.

Hard to believe, even with the mainstream media so damned biased against the Republicans, that this story isn’t getting more play. I think it’s clear that Hillary Clinton’s failed run for the presidency (I’ve got the book and can’t wait to start reading it) was the result of totally corrupt Democratic Party machine headed by the equally-corrupt Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Talk about a swamp needing to be drained!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:32 | Comments (0)
May 8, 2017

Our story begins more than fifteen years ago (was it that long?) back during our time in Kentucky. Our good friend Jana, who decorated her entire house in a kind of Florida beachfront kind of motif, had collected a bunch of shells and seashore kind of stuff to create a lovely sea-sculpture for us. I had a picture of it somewhere but can’t find it for the life of me. But it was lovely, becoming a mainstay decoration in my bathroom in Louisville, then our tiny bathroom for the year plus we lived in that tiny apartment in Massachusetts, and finally, in my bathroom here in Arizona.

Like just about everything here in Arizona, the dry atmosphere and the dust takes its toll. A few years ago, while gently moving it so I could clean the countertop, a couple of shells came off. I tucked them into a larger shell, but the esthetics took a bit of a hit. Then, last year, the foundation started to come loose. And there was no point trying to dust it and return it to its original glory: the whole piece was just too fragile. Finally, the foundation came off and I knew the time had come, like it comes to all of us. It was time to return it to its source.

So, accompanying me back to Massachusetts a couple of weeks ago was a plastic grocery bag filled with the pieces of the sea sculpture, now nothing but a dusty main piece and a collection of small shells.

One of the mainstays of any visit back home is to visit the seashore, and this time was no exception, albeit one with a purpose. The Sunday I headed up to the beach in Rye, New Hampshire the day had started gray and cool; by the time I hit the beach it was windy and cold. Spring comes late to the New England seacoast, and the day felt more like late March or early April than one day before the first of May. The various parking areas along the coast road where you could pull over and sit on the rocks and contemplate life, death, or whatever a vast expanse of ocean prompts one to dream of, typically filled with sightseers, were empty.

I pulled over and took off my t-shirt, pulled on a heavy sweatshirt for warmth. The sea, more often than not calm whenever I’m up there, was restless and choppy, and moody and gray as the low clouds scudding from east to west above. It would have been nice to do the deed on a bright sunny day, the sea sparkling, and the Isle of Shoals so clear in the distance that you felt you could almost touch them, but such was not to be the case. It could have been a depressing moment, I suppose, but it wasn’t: I felt good about returning Jana’s sculpture from whence it originally came. I thought about Jana and would have called her except there is zero – and I do mean zero signal at Rye Beach. I know she would have approved what I was doing. Given her view of the universe it would all make sense in a symmetrical way.

I thought about times past. I thought about our time in Kentucky – me, Tracey, Jana, and Jana’s parents. I thought the cats and all the rabbits we’d had, all of them long gone. I thought about how in just a few weeks’ time would come my first Mothers Day without a mom to send a card to and call. But then I saw how timeless the ocean is, how endless the waves are, and how nothing lasts forever. It didn’t seem to make sense to spend more than a few minutes dwelling on things one can’t change – besides, it was getting damned nippy out there. The only thing left to do was to get on with it and set the sea sculpture free.

I opened the bag just as the wind came up and a bunch of shells went flying unceremoniously onto the beach and the surrounding rocks. Didn’t even see where they all went. All that was left in the bag was the broken main piece of the sculpture itself. I took it out and gave it a simple Tom Brady fling, watched it plop into a pool of water beside one of the distant rocks…

THWAP! It wasn’t in the water more than two seconds when a seagull came swooping in over my head, plucked the sculpture out of the water before it had completely sunk, then flew it to a nearby rock where it began to systematically decapitate it, undoubtedly searching for tasty edibles.

“You son of a bitching bastard!”, I yelled at the gull, laughing at the absurdity of the whole moment. I knew Jana would have gotten a good laugh out of it as well. I stayed for another minute or two watching the gull destroy it, continued to swear at it. The gull didn’t care, and frankly, neither did I. In just a few hours the tide would come in, the rock would be immersed, and the sculpture lost to the sea. The fact that a seagull helped with the proceedings added just the right amount of joy and absurdity to the whole thing. Sorta like a reminder never to take things too seriously.

A few drops of cold rain began to fall, the waves sloshed against the rocks, the wind whipped through beach rose vines. It was time to go – a warm Mexican restaurant and a cold margarita awaited. I would drink a toast to Jana, the sea sculpture, and a memorable way to end an era. I would never look at that spot on my bathroom counter the same way again. And it would make me smile.

I took off the heavy sweatshirt, put back on my summer t-shirt, and drove away.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 20:50 | Comments (2)
May 5, 2017

..and ready for whatever the 2017 golf season might bring. Officially, I will be playing Callaway Steelhead XR irons, Cobra Fly-Z hybrids (3 & 4), Cobra King F6 driver and F6 5-wood, and my old Ping Scottsdale putter. Not to mention a well-used Callaway X Jaws Chrome 58-degree lob wedge. An eclectic assembly of clubs, fer shure, but one I’m feeling very comfortable with, and one I am confident will be up to the task as I resume my pursuit to be a somewhat bogey golfer by the end of 2017.

Yep, that’s my goal, and I’m sticking to it.

Of course, everyone knows – especially this 24-handicapper – that clubs alone aren’t going to make a six-stroke difference in and of themselves, but the player still has to be confident in his arsenal, and this is the first set of clubs I’ve ever actually spent a relatively significant amount of time testing against other manufacturers and models before buying. Meaning, if it all goes downhill from here there’s no one to blame but the person swinging the clubs. As it always has been.

After ordering my Callaway Steelhead XRs, there were a couple of absolute rules I planned to follow before going any further: 1) I wasn’t going to spend a lot of money on hybrids (I use them fairly infrequently and for very specific situations), and 2) I wasn’t going to put a 3-wood in my bag. The latter decision came down to both money and rationale: I wanted to limit my entire club and bag purchase to no more than $1,500 total, and having a 3-wood made little sense. For one thing, the 3-wood has always been my least-used club: if the hole is too narrow for driver, I’m more likely to use a 3-hybrid or a 5-wood. Secondly, I could never hit a 3-wood consistently: I practiced with it the least and (to be brutally honest) never liked the club to begin with. Finally, it came down to logistics: let’s say I hit my 3-hybrid 180, 185-190 if I really catch it. I hit my 5-wood 190-200. Driver is 210-225. For a 24-handicapper, buying a club simply to cover a distance of 25 yards makes absolutely no sense. If I’m hitting the driver well it’s my preferred club even if the holes are narrow; if I’m not, I can pull 5-wood or even 3-hybrid to just get it in the fairway.

The hybrids decision came quite soon: I had thought about ordering the same Callaway Big Bertha hybrids I had played during my Las Vegas “shank and yank” visit back in January – they had actually played nice. But getting them even in good condition from Callaway Pre-Owned would cost me ~ $280 for both the 3 and 4 – not worth it. After ordering my Steelhead XRs at the PGA Tour Superstore I was moseying around the discount clubs aisle and came upon the Cobra Fly-Zs at $60 and $70 for the 3 and 4, respectively. I took them over to one of the bays and found I could hit them pretty well, and comparable to the distances I hit my old Callaways RAZR-Xs.

$130 vs. $280? It was a no-brainer. I went back the next day and grabbed them right then and there.

As far as the 5-wood went, to be honest it really didn’t matter what particular brand and model I was going to get: whatever I ended up choosing for a driver I’d get the same model in a 5-wood. If I couldn’t hit it at first? Well, I’d just have to learn how to do so in the long run. But what, pray tell, to choose for a driver? The only rule of thumb in my book (well there were actually two) was: 1) I wasn’t paying over $400 for a driver, and 2) I had to fall in love-love-love with it: hey, if you’re gonna spend that kind of dough-re-mi on a club you better freakin’ love it, right?

I had checked around the PGA Tour Superstore site and came up with four models that looked nice to the eyes: the Ping G standard driver, the TaylorMade M2 460, the Callaway XR 16, and the Cobra King F7. I had hit the Callaway in Vegas and didn’t feel the love one way or another, but the price was right and maybe I was too sick in Vegas to appreciate its charms. So I decided to keep that in my pocket with the idea that if none of the others panned out it was a club I had played and perhaps could learn to love.

Two of my best Goodboys friends “Killer” Kowalski and “The Funny Guy” Andrusaitis joined me at the Golf & Ski in Hudson, NH during my trip back to Massachusetts last week and I gave the non-Callaways a whirl. The Ping distinguished itself right off the bat with the funky metallic sound it made on contact. If you caught it flush, the ball seemed to took off, but “forgiving” would hardly be the first word I would use to describe it. Still, I loved the black Nazi U-Boat color scheme; perhaps with enough practice it could be an equally trained killer. The TaylorMade M2 was cool – a mix of white and black, reminded me of a cow. And I hit some really good shots with it. Felt good, hit good. Killer especially liked the way I hit it, so after several hits I put it aside for another go-round.

The Cobra King F7 was an entirely different breed of cat: everything I hit seemed to absolutely jump off the club face. Forgiving? Tiger can only dream of Elin being half as forgiving as this club was. Of course, the downside was the ball could jump whether you came off of it with a push or slice or a pull or hook (I’m equally adept at each). Meaning – at least for this 24-handicapper, all that distance wouldn’t matter if the last 60-70 yards of it were into the woods or over a lake. But if I hit it anywhere near square, took a little off of the swing, the ball was absolutely pulverized. I can’t say at that moment I was in love-love-love; let’s just say I was very intrigued.

There really wasn’t anything more to be discovered in a second round with all the clubs – each performed pretty much like they did the first time around. No doubt the Cobra King F7 was numero uno, but I still liked the look, feel, and performance of that TaylorMade cow driver.

I’m back home in the Valley of the Sun to pick up my Steelheads, but I’ve got mighty mo in my favor following that afternoon at the Golf & Ski. I see Mark, yet another of the associates there, and ask him to set me up with the same three models from the Golf & Ski, plus the Callaway XR 16. He sets me up in the TaylorMade bay and I have at it. I take a few swings with the Ping before Mark asks me to make a subtle adjustment before I set up: he wants me to hold the driver straight out in front of me to make sure the club face is square in my hands before I take my address.

Once again, I notice the clanky sound of the Ping – according to the machine I hit it consistently at 185-197 yards, but it’s just not a forgiving club. I decide to discard the Ping; as much as I love the look it’s clearly not the club for me. I grab the TaylorMade M2 and find it once again quietly efficient, definitely more forgiving than the Ping. My drives are anywhere from 190-206 with a high of 211 – better than the Ping and definitely more enjoyable to hit. I hit a few balls with the Callaway and find it to be a near carbon copy of the TaylorMade in terms of feel and performance, but not nearly as enjoyable to hit.

I inform Mark that my choice will be between the TaylorMade and the Cobra King F7.

I grab the Cobra F7 and the difference from the TaylorMade is noticeable. Once again, I find the ball practically jumps off the club. I’m consistently 205-210, even if they’re pushes or near-banana slices or pulls. I smack several drives straight in a row that go anywhere from 215 to 218, and I’ve pretty much made the decision to go with the F7, but there’s still something holding me back: the price. After all, between the driver and the same model 5-wood, that’s gonna be a cool $650 out of my pocket – more than I care to spend. I tell Mark I’m gonna take a walk around the store and look at bags. But I really wanted to clear my head to think about options.

I’m looking at black bags that have a cool orange trim. Between my orange Wilson balls and what looks like the Cobra driver and fairway wood I’m gonna have a lot of orange working for me, so why not the bag? I find a good basic model that runs at $100 bucks, meaning that between the bag ($100), the hybrids ($130), and the irons ($740) I’m already in for $970. I’m well under my $1,500 budget, but the King F7 driver and 5-wood will blow that all to hell. I just couldn’t see doing it.

I was getting ready to leave the store when I suddenly remembered way, way, back at the start of my iron search seeing this left-handed Cobra driver in one of the demo bags. I hadn’t hit it, I had just noticed it at the time before I even started thinking about drivers. I found the club in one of the bags and saw it was a King F6 selling for $325. Much more to my liking, price-wise, fer shure. But what would it feel like? Could it come close to the F7? I go back to the TaylorMade stall and take a few swings, and all I can say is, wowee zowee! Same performance as the F7, but a slightly different but yet familiar feel to it. And the ball if anything seemed to be jumping a hair more, my drives going another 5-10 yards further when hit on the screws. Mark happened to be watching as I absolutely pulverized one a whopping (at least for me) 227 yards and said, “I guess you like that A flex (senior) shaft, huh?”

“I knew it!”, said I. My old RAZR-X driver had the same kind of shaft, no wonder it felt so familiar. I ask Mark if he had a 5-wood in the F6 line and sure enough, he did. Case closed.

I spent another half hour hitting balls with the F6 driver and 5-wood. They felt good, looked good. I was in love-love-love, and there was no stopping me. I grabbed the driver, 5-wood, and the bag and headed to the registers, credit card in tow. Standing in line, this attractive middle-aged lady compliments me on my purchases, saying, “Great colors. Hope they hit as good as they look!”

All I could was smile and think, “You and me both, sister!”

So the search is over, Tallying up the irons, the lob wedge, the driver and 5-wood and the bag, I’d come in slightly under my $1,500 target. I’ve now got a set of clubs that I took my time selecting, and frankly I’m ecstatic over it. Of course, the ecstasy might end with the very first ball I hit at the range, but that’s the chance a 24-handicapper has to take.

Let the ball-banging begin.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 00:27 | Comments (2)
May 2, 2017

A few thoughts before heading back to Arizona where a certain set of irons are waiting, as is a yet-to-be-chosen driver and 5-wood as well. Lots of final assessing to be done there.

Boy, Massachusetts truly has become the domain Tom Brady and Bill Belechick when it comes to sports! Even with the Celtics in the playoffs interest in the Pats is at an all-time high given their Super Bowl win and their off-season moves. Not surprisingly, there’s very little interest here in the Red Sox – something that has to be concerning to the brass up on Yawkey Way. While there’s some talent there without a doubt – any game Chris Sale pitches is a must-see and OF Mookie Betts and shortstop Xander Bogearts are a joy to watch, and OF Andrew Binentendi, while still raw, looks to be yet another in a line of top-notch left-fielders the team lacks an identity following the retirement of David “Big Papi” Ortiz and there are some big holes that I don’t see getting plugged anytime soon (third base, bullpen).

Sticking with the Sox, I’m holding fast to my earlier prediction that we won’t see David Price pitch this year. He’s a Tommy John surgery waiting to happen, and he doesn’t really fit this team anyways. Those two final big moves before the Sox got GM Dave Dombrowski – Price and 3B Pablo “Fat Pig” Sandoval – are gonna haunt them for a long time. They’re woefully in need of a third baseman who can both hit and defend. 3B is an offensive position in the bigs, and with Jackie Bradley Jr. (love his defense) being as streaky as he is, between CF, 3B, and catcher that’s a lot of offense to be giving away on a nightly basis.

Lots of folks on the conservative side of the fence are pretty upset over the GOP getting nuked by the Dems on that continuing resolution (CR) funding the government through Sept. but I’m not one of them. In reality, it’s the last Obama budget, so what did they expect? Now, come September I fully expect the first Donald Trump budget to be the culmination of all the promises he made during the campaign (build the wall, infrastructure, defunding Planned Parenthood, draining the swamp, etc.) and it better happen, or the 2018 midterms are going to be bloody for the GOP. I am confident the Prez will find a way to make it happen.

I was never much of fan of Queen’s music but there was never a doubt how talented their lead singer Freddy Mercury was. Dude could sing almost anything, and he did. In that regard, I love this video and his rendition of the old Platters hit. It’s just so over the top I was laughing out loud as I watched it.

Catch y’all once I’m back in Arizona!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 06:00 | Comments (0)

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