March 31, 2018

It’s Holy Saturday.

There was a time when songs like this would fill my soul with a sense of despair and emptiness, anticipating The Great Vigil of Easter at the Church of the Advent and the Feast of the Resurrection. God and Church seemed close and intertwined with each other, and I felt not just a part of it, but – especially during my time at Louisville Presbyterian Seminary – in some ways touched and blessed.

Today I found myself gravitating to this great tune. (It’s a song, BTW, I’d like to have played after my passing – yo, Dave, pay attention to this! :-) ) It’s one of my favorite top two-three songs of all time, full and gorgeous, Spector-esque, yet filled with both melancholy and a sense of longing of times past and gone forever. Laugh all you want, but it makes me cry every time I hear it.

Some might say how the mighty have fallen. As far as I’m concerned, things are no better or worse now than they were then. They’re just different, as I am different. Nothing is as it was, everything has gone to shit, and I’m nothing but a dinosaur roaming an unfamiliar landscape until its inevitable extinction. But perhaps that’s the way it always was. I always thought that Rolling Stones classic was about some posh bird; now I hear it and think Mick and Keith were writing about folks like me. Oh well, better to simply be here now and try to forget about everything and anything else.

Say, a man could do worse than to have all the tunes linked on this post played after my passing. It’s like they’re life songs. My life songs.

I should have been a monk.

BTW, lots of folks are criticizing the current Pope for what he said, but I think he got it right. I’ve never believed Hell as a physical, eternal torment of the soul; what loving and compassionate God would allow such a thing? But I do believe in the concept of Hell as the absence of God and the eternal casting out of the soul from the love and light of God’s eternal love and care. As in death as true death. You’re gone. Poof. The eternal separation of the soul from the eternal light and love of God. Wouldn’t that be considered chilling enough?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:02 | Comment (1)
March 30, 2018

…My smart phone rang while I was frying corned beef hash and egg in an iron skillet over an open fire in the Bitterroots by a lazy stream the color of quartzite. A pot of water with coffee grains dumped in it hissed against hot rocks. The morning air was filled with the smell of damp brush and mule deer musk, the night’s dampness determined not to release its hold until the morning’s sun approached its zenith.

“Who is this?”, I asked, putting the phone on speaker.”

“Want to do a Facetime session?” a voice crackled through the phone.

I could hear rustling in the bushes down by the river. Elk? Moose? Knights of Columbus? It didn’t matter to me. The call was from a Goodboy, a made man, one of the top dogs. And not just any Goodboy, this was one of the Exec-Comm boys, and I knew breakfast would have to wait while I gave him my full and undivided attention.

“I need to know if you’ll commit to a newsletter this year.” The voice, initially relaxed and at ease, now sounded impatient and persistent, as if an increasing desire to urinate had arisen in his loins.

A cottontail scampered under a cottonwood tree behind me, as if sensing a hawk circling above in the convection. A tumbleweed rolled past the rabbit, and a whisp of sudden cool air raised goosebumps on my exposed arms.

“Hey Siri”, I called out over the pop and snap of the hash and eggs. “Tell Mr. Exec-Comm the Goodboys newsletter will be published in mid-June, as always.”

“I’m here”, said the voice through the speaker.

“Winner, winner chicken dinner!” came the voice through the speaker.

A breeze now arose out of the southwest, causing the pines and firs that towered in the grove above me to rustle and whisper. The sky that had started off rosy and cloudless became quickly smeared with overcast and the promise of approaching rain. I heard the distant rumble of thunder, and the air around me filled with the anticipation of a storm as if riding the whirlwind of an ancient Roman chariot.

I looked at the opening of my tent flapping angrily against the side as the wind rose and the clouds above turned dark and foreboding. I finished my breakfast quickly, tossed the coffee on the fire, its hissing and sizzle disappearing in clouds of steam, then hastily scoured my skillet in the stream’s fine sand where a rainbow idled lazily above the gravel bed before returning it my saddlebag. Raindrops began to pucker in the stream, and thunder, much nearer now, echoed against the mossy green walls of the valley.

“Goodbye, Possum”, I said into the speaker, hurrying towards the shelter of my tent. “Looks like a good day to watch Paula Creamer golf videos on YouTube.”

Filed in: Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 22:44 | Comment (1)
March 27, 2018

The calls are now starting at 5:30 AM and run until 2 PM. I grab a little nap and try to get caught up on so-called “regular business” until 6 – 6:30 PM. That’s my lot in life these days as me and my team creep ever closer to the three weeks starting next week after which we’ll know just how stable – or unstable – things are at “The Client Who Shall Remain Nameless”. Everybody’s nervous about the tight timeline we’ve been given and there are already cracks showing up in my project plan, but that was to be expected. After all this time I’m a fatalist about how all this will turn out. The client is pissed and tired of dealing with us, and believe me, the feeling is mutual. I’m beyond exhausted but refuse to give in even though I’m too old for this kind of crap. We’ll just have to see how it goes. In the meantime…

Hit balls the other day and it felt real good mentally and physically. No more wheezing, my swing was rusty, but right from the start on the putting green I was feeling pretty sharp, mid-season form. I have to work on my backswing – it’s far too upright, don’t know where that came from, but watching Paula Creamer swing videos for 18 hours straight will take care of that. Pretty swing, pretty girl.

…speaking of the Pink Panther, even she’s working on swing changes. Appears she’s split from her hubby after only three years, which is sad, but it appears to have stirred in her a recommitment to her game. Ah yes, the ultimate combo – love and golf; it’s hard to do both and be good at them at the same time.

I was eating the last of my corned beef dinner while reading this. More power to the chef – the best way to counter the lefties out there is to punch back twice as hard, and right in their faces.

Next week is Masters Week, and I’m total stoked. I’ve got the Bloody Mary makings all ready for the weekend – a tradition in our household, and I’m picking Bubba Watson to take home another green jacket.

Haven’t followed the Red Sox much in Spring Training, but I think the New York Yankees are the class of the American League East.

Glad to hear all the Goodboys have signed on to the Exec-Comm plan to stay at Foxwoods and play a couple of rounds at the Lake of Isles North Course. Gonna be the hardest course the Goodboys have ever played. Makes me want to work even harder on my game to hit more fairways no matter how I have to do it. Even if it means hitting putter off the tee.

Agree wholeheartedly with Powerline blog’s Paul Mirengoff about those marches for universal gun confiscation that took place last weekend. While I feel bad about what those high schoolers (they’re not kids) went through, they’re nothing but pawns being manipulated by left-wing groups who’ll toss them aside like yesterday’s garbage once their usefulness has expired.

But if Democrats want to run on gun confiscation and illegal immigration for the 2018 midterms, be my guest! The radical Left always overplays its hand, anyways.

Weatherbell.com’s Joe Bastardi is calling for a very cold and potentially very snowy April (at least the first half) in the Northeast. He’s been pretty much on target all winter long, so I’ll just advise my Goodboys friends not to put away those heavy coats and snow shovels just yet.

No, I didn’t see this. Wish I had.

I’m outta here with some music by the Prophet.

…oh wait: the last two great Beach Boys songs. Recorded back in 1995 for an attempted album that never happened. These are two fantastic Brian Wilson tunes that still sound fresh 20+ years later. They should have at least released these as a single. “You’re Still A Mystery” hearkens a little back to Pet Sounds.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 20:29 | Comments (0)
March 24, 2018

Finally, I think work is getting into a better place. It took a while, but all the things I told the dickheads in our upper management are finally coming to fruition. Perhaps another 2-3 weeks of pain, then either the situation will be resolved or it won’t be. But until then…

I love this Dennis Wilson tune. He never got around to finishing the vocals before he passed away, so they were completed by Taylor Hawkins of Foo Fighters, who sounds uncannily like Dennis circa 1976. Truly great.

The Beach Boys were known for their squeaky-clean image, but it was far from the truth. I love this tune, you’ll have to listen carefully to what they’re singing in the background.

Most folks don’t like George Harrison’s 1975 release “Extra Texture”, but I loved it. This is one of the great tunes on that release. Reminds me of some very good times a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

Contrary to what most people think, I do listen to music made after 1990, although most of it is shit. I do like Taylor Swift’s latest release, Delicate. She’s really talented, and the video is pretty darned good as well.

…And Katy Perry’s “Roar” is a great song to work out to. She’s kind of bizarre and her recent stuff sucks , but I like her older stuff. ‘Course, nothing will ever beat “Hot N’ Cold”.

While on the subject of great music videos, I don’t think anything will ever beat David Lee Roth’s take on “California Girls”. If that video doesn’t make you smile, nothing will!

One of the great albums of my youth was The New Christy Minstrels’ “Ramblin’”. I will be forever grateful to my parents for the wide range of music they exposed us to. I don’t believe my folks were “folkies”, but we did have a few albums by the Christy Minstrels.

…not to mention the Chad Mitchell Trio as well. Hey, maybe they were folkies, after all!

…one of the commenters on the above writes, “How did we go from this to Justin Bieber in 50 short years?” Indeed.

Bob Marley’s “Waiting In Vain” is one of my favorite tunes of his. As is this one.

Fanny was a highly underrated band for their time. Two great examples are “Charity Ball” and “Blind Alley”. Have a feeling they were kind of mismanaged, as they should have had better success on the radio at that time.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 23:16 | Comments (2)
March 17, 2018

Days until the 2018 Goodboys Invitational: 125
Handicap: 26.0

Was sitting out on the back patio tonight under the happy pineapple lights thinking about my approach to this year’s golf season.

My handicap sits at 26.0.
My target handicap is 20.0.

(That’s six strokes for those of you who don’t have a STEM degree from college and have your degree in the humanities or something akin to wanting to take guns away from law-abiding citizens.)

Under the lights and watching clouds moving in from the northwest, I thought back to the last few posts I checked out associated with my Golf Quest category and am shocked to see just how much in disarray my golf swing was following last year’s Goodboys Invitational. In my mind I saw that after adopting Paula Creamer’s golf swing I had nailed things down, culminating in that best-ever Superstition Springs round. But now I wasn’t so sure.

I poured myself another Pinot Grigio and realized I couldn’t even remember what I was trying to do out there. I did shoot a 111 at Stallion Mountain in Vegas my last time out, but that was the very day (December 3) that everything started to go south at work. I had been woken up that day at 4 AM with a heads up that trouble was on the way, and during the round with fellow Goodboy “Doggy Duval” I was called again. I didn’t play well that day, but the vibes were turning negative, that’s for sure.

It’s now 3 1/2 months later and I’ve only taken a few swings at the PGA TOUR Superstore down the street and hit a medium bucket of balls at the range down the street. I feel rusty, not just with my swing, but with my life in general. This past week the true scope of everything that has been going south at “The Client Who Shall Remain Nameless” for the past 3 1/2 months finally started to be revealed to everyone involved. I’d been trying to tell my management for the past two months that what we had delivered there was unsustainable, but no one seemed interested in listening. Last week they did, and now I know I’m going to be dealing with this crap sandwich for at least the next few months.

[Ed. note: I'm just realizing that my original intended post about golf has started to veer into work, but that's not surprising. Right now - and there is no getting around it - work is the driving force in my life. And it's not just me, it's impacting my boss and his boss. And now, with the start of Daylight Savings Time, my workday is starting somewhere between 5 and 6 AM, and with a new client coming on board in Singapore my workdays are extending out to 6:30 PM in the evening. That's not a good thing, and it's something I'm going to have to put the kibosh on ASAP. I'm getting too old for this.]

A golf psychologist would have a field day with me right now. He’d say that the last round of I’d played I would equate with the start of the fiasco down in Pensacola that started innocently enough while I was getting ready to play golf back on December 3 and then went on steroids with the text I received from a VP while driving back from Vegas insisting I get my butt down to Pensacola the next day. And that because of everything that happened since that time, I equate my golf game with the nightmare that happened starting that day, so therefore in my subconscious I’m leery of picking up a golf club again because I’m afraid the same thing might happen all over again.

That could be, who knows? The sad truth is that right now the very idea of picking up a golf club and working my way through a bucket brings with it a sense of insouciance and paranoia – kind of like the tracks from the Beatles’ Revolver album all rolled into one. I’d like to think I could just pick up a club as if nothing happened since that last putt I drained at Stallion Mountain (for a miraculous par, if I do say so myself!), but denial is not just a river in Africa, y’know what I’m saying?

Perhaps it would be best if the whole business involving the “Client Who Shall Remain Nameless” was over and done with, but the fact is this is going to go on for the next few months at a minimum. Folks are pissed, threats of lawsuits are lying just below the surface, and just about every moment of my working day is filled with discussions at all levels as to how we extricate ourselves from this. And the short answer is, we can’t.

There have been a couple of times now where I went to reach for one of my clubs to just take a few swings in my front yard and I just can’t bring myself to do it. It’s not fear, it’s just… well, I don’t know what it is. The whole idea of working on my game right now just sounds like so much of that – work. Last year I had no problem immersing myself in rebuilding my swing from scratch, and I really enjoyed it. This year? I just feel burned out at every level. This week I’m planning on getting back to the gym in the hope that that will help in a number of ways. Perhaps it will make me want to pick up a club again. Perhaps it will help remove the state of fracture and disconnect I feel with everything right now.

I just want to feel whole again. I just want to feel The Great White Shank again. But whoever I was seems to have gone somewhere else, to the point where I can’t find myself anymore. I folded under the pressure like a cheap bridge table – something that never happened before. Now everything seems different and I see myself as though through a camera obscura. Somehow I’m going to have to get through this and get back to working on those six strokes I want to take off my handicap.

…so reading this post I guess I’m not quite as ready to “kick it all off” as I thought I was. As George Harrison once sang, you can only run so far:

You fly out as your smile wears thin
I sigh knowing the mess you’re in
And you know that you can’t get away
And you know that you can’t hide it from yourself

Lonely days, blue guitar
There’s no escape, can only run so far

I know something I ought to say
Stuck here, trying to find a way
And you know that you can’t get away
And you know that you can’t hide it from yourself

I’ve got four months until Goodboys 2018 weekend to get my golf $hit together. I hope I can.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 23:58 | Comments (2)
March 11, 2018

…so it was like going to an auto dealership and having to do all that negotiating and the bullshit, “…let me check with my manager” crap, but both me and my equally-dumb phoned sister-in-law are now proud and willing occupants of the Apple universe.

…obviously, Al Gore was not available for comment.

Joe Bastardi at Weatherbell.com has been predicting this for more than two weeks now. Anyone who loves the weather and doesn’t check in for Joe’s daily updates and Saturday Summary posts are truly missing out.

I have to admit, Tiger Woods looked great at the Valspar, but there’s something inside me that thinks this is a candle in the wind and that he’s going to hurt himself again. Of course, no one listens to The Great White Shank; I’m just putting it on the record.

A great live performance from one of my all-time faves and a very underrated band.

This was a bad weekend as far as work is concerned. Everyone is working 14-hour days and things keep going from bad to worse. Were I the client, I’d have told my company weeks ago to yank the whole thing out and bill them for it, but we’ve got a of bunch of ignoramuses in charge, and that’s not going to happen. But let me tell you, things are near the breaking point, and when it happens I’m going to Vegas for a few day to leech the whole thing out of my system. I’m tired, I’m worn out, and I’m at the point where if I ended up getting canned it would almost be a blessing.

Looking forward to our own little spell of wet weather next weekend. They’re calling for 1/2″ of rain here, which would be pretty good.

Last night I had another dream about Santa Fe. It wasn’t as vivid as the dream I had on the plane a few weeks ago, but it still left a lasting impression. I wonder why that is?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 23:43 | Comments (0)
March 6, 2018

Big and hearty congrats to Phil Mickelson for a well-deserved win at the WGC-Mexico Championship in Mexico and Michelle Wie for her win at the HSBC Women’s World Championship. The wins break long draughts as far as wins as concerned for two very popular figures in golf – wins that I’m sure both cherish even more after all the hard work they’ve put in to get back to the winner’s circle. Between Bubba Watson’s win at Riviera and Mickelson’s win, and considering the advantages Augusta National gives left-handed golfers, you have to think Watson and Mickelson will be on everyone’s short list once the Masters begins in a month’s time. Is it too early to queue the music?

…and as for Michelle? All I can say is, she’s a doll.

…and there’s little doubt Justin Thomas also has to be considered a favorite at Augusta. He’s the real deal – even more so than Jordon Speith.

Is there a more boring baseball announcer than NESN’s Dave O’Brien? And to think NESN dropped the likes of Don Orsillo for this hunk of vanilla? I wouldn’t waste my money on a NESN subscription simply for the fact I’d then have to force myself to listen to O’Brien drone on game after game.

What a bunch of friggin’ morons. Know what I wish? That a dozen B52s rain bombs upon these “remote villagers” and turn their village into fiery goo.

I listened to all of five minutes of The Oscars while getting supper ready in the kitchen. Talk about your lack of self-awareness! Is there a greater stage for a bunch of pretentious, nattering, celebrities-in-their-own-minds who think what they do actually matters in the grand scheme of things? And is there a more obnoxious, self-absorbed clown than Jimmy Kimmel?

So I actually hit a bucket of balls the other day and did so without wheezing and hacking my brains out. I was beyond rusty and could barely remember how to hold a club, and the ground I was hitting off of was barren of turf, but I didn’t care. The sun was nice, and the sounds of the driving range were soothing to my soul. Much-needed medicine – especially after the last three months I’ve had.

Here’s my song of the day.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:46 | Comment (1)
March 4, 2018

I was saying to a couple of my Goodboys pals a couple of weeks ago how much I wanted to be off the grid. No e-mails, no blog, no phone, no tablet, no desktop, no laptop – nothing to connect me to a digital world that has seemingly become a part of every friggin’ part of our lives from waking to sleeping. I’m guessing I’m in the minority when I say I’m tired of technology. Sure, I make my living off of it, but it brings me no joy to have to use it. To me, it’s just a necessary means to an end – the world now evolves around Twitter, e-mail, YouTube, and Dropbox, and you have to play the game or get trampled down by it.

Of course, it’s not technology in and of itself that’s the problem – it’s the fact that you increasingly can’t get away from it for one blasted minute that’s the problem. Oh, and that on the other end of it you know there is a human being or corporation of human beings who don’t necessarily have your, mine, or anyone’s best interests at heart. Technology may be a convenience or means to an end, but what we do with it is nothing more than an excuse for other human beings to exploit it for their own ends and purposes. Sure, there are always advancements in technologies that make our lives better (especially when it comes to modern medicine), but technology in and of itself will never fix everything that afflicts a world with human beings running it. Sure, technology has made our world smaller – but tell that to the children living in the slums of Asia and other the hellholes in the so-called “Third World”. The poor and destitute will always be with us, as will those suffering from mental illness, and poverty, and technology ain’t gonna be able to do a thing about it.

…but you will be able to see or read more about it because of the internet, right?

I would argue that in some – if not most – ways technology has become a necessary evil, a tool for every faceless, nameless, and nobody whack job who thinks that by having an Instagram or Youtube account they’re somebody. The truth is, they’re not. They’re just people with an opinion. And, in most cases, moronic opinions at that.

My biggest concern is that you have technology replacing true human interaction. At our core we’re not machines, we’re human beings. We need a connection with each other. Deep down, our souls, hearts and minds thirst for a human connection. You can have a million followers on your Twitter account and still be the loneliest person in the world. We need to be able to share our own different lives, upbringings, thoughts, cultures, and selves with other people. That’s how you grow up exposed, with an open mind and understanding of how human beings tick. The kids growing up these days, sheltered behind technology and its way of segregating those who are like-minded, are going to grow up functionally illiterate and in practice ignorant. And they’re learning well from their moronic parents who walk around supermarket aisles like Stepford wives and drive around with their heads down, texting who knows who, thinking their very lives evolve around some stupid form of electronic communication. It’s really a sickness, and one I want no part of.

Nevertheless, there I was yesterday with the twins at the local AT&T store trying to figure out the most strategic and fiscally astute way to upgrade Tracey’s iPhone and drag Tammy and I and our dumb phones into to the future. After the better part of ninety minutes of debate and haggling, Tracey got her much-needed upgrade (to an iPhone 8), and Tam and I are to enter the 21st century and get iPhone 6s – gasp!. While I really didn’t want to, in the end it just made sense: the world wasn’t going to change or slow done technologically on my behalf, and at some point you just have to embrace the grid.

I really don’t know anything about my soon-to-arrive iPhone 6; I suppose like everyone else five or ten years back I’ll just kind of go with whatever cool functionality that comes along with it and then get sucked into the vortex of every friggin’ app you can download so you can brag about what you have like everyone else does. I hope I don’t go that far. I’m really being dragged kicking and screaming, because it just goes against everything I want to do or be in my life. Deep down, all I really want to do is go off the grid.

Hey, maybe on my new iPhone 6 I’ll find an app for that.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 20:40 | Comments (2)

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