April 30, 2019

Surprise, surprise! The following day after our first thunderstorm (a few flashes of lightning, a couple peals of thunder, and a couple of two-minute downpours was about all she wrote), there I was at my local Fry’s and what do I behold, but the first Sam Adams Summer Ale of the year! The Summers always arrive here in the Valley of the Sun earlier than they do up in the still-Springy Northeast, where they’re still having to tolerate that lousy Cold Snap, which is most definitely not to my liking.

I also enjoy the Sam Octoberfest and the Winter Lager greatly, and the Boston Lager is my go-to beer when all else fails, but there’s something special about the first Summer Ale of the year. For one thing, it arrives just as we’re getting into the 90s pretty much every day with the triple digits not-too-far over the distant horizon. But more than that, it’s the expectation of all the places I’ll be enjoying Summer Ales between now and when the fall arrives: golfing both here in the Valley of the Sun and with my Goodboys pals back in Massachusetts. Refreshing nite-caps at the Casa Blanca just down the street from where my dad is living (where the Summer Ale drafts are always wicked fresh)! During Goodboys Invitational weekend, of course, and, after that, in Newport, Rhode Island where I plan on spending a couple of nights before heading back into the July monsoon. It’s just exciting to think of all the restaurants, bars, and golf courses that I’ll be able to enjoy a cold, refreshing Summer Ale with good friends while recalling so many cold and frosty Summers from the past, in both good times and not-so-good.

…Not to mention the nite-caps on our redesigned patio and soon-to-be redesigned pool deck under happy pineapple and flamingo lights. But more on that to come!

Even with its slightly-altered recipe (I couldn’t tell the difference) my first bottle tasted great with freshly-grilled teriyaki vegetables and chicken from the soon-to-be redesigned “Sun Deck”. But more on that to come!

Prior to heading over for grocery shopping I bought a medium bucket and worked very hard on my driver at the Kokopelli G,C. driving range. After my fairly-pathetic performance off the tee at Superstition Springs a couple of weekends ago, I’ve decided that I absolutely despise taking back my driver only 3/4 and in the fairly upright plane I’ve been using for, like, years. So today I’ve decided to go the almost-full Paula Creamer and take more aggressive swings while flattening out my takeaway just a tad. Y’see, the primary miss of my 3/4, steep takeaway has been a big banana slice, which I absolutely despise. I don’t know why that is (and I don’t really care) – all I know is that I hate that damned trajectory.

…I realize, of course, that lengthening my swing and flattening it out can lead to pulls when I jump at the ball, but I think I can learn to live with that as long as I don’t start my transition too soon and get too active with my upper body. I’m willing to give in to my natural fade and accept the fact that drawing the ball and/or hitting it dead straight will never be my calling card, but I’ll accept the longer and straighter drives, which I absolutely crave right now. After all, isn’t the driver is supposed to be the most fun club in the bag? So I’m committing myself to having some fun with it. And if I’m going to go down, my attitude is that I’m going to go down swinging. Hey, Tiger Woods isn’t – and never has been – known as a great driver of the ball, so why can’t The Great White Shank be a little more like Tiger Woods?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 20:44 | Comments (0)
April 27, 2019

The decline and fall of the White House Correspondents Dinner. Frankly, I always thought this event (and the coverage associated with it) indicative of a much larger problem. The mainstream media and cable news networks have obviously (and increasingly) seen themselves as the elites, thinking they are the East Coast/Beltway equivalents of Hollywood celebrities and due the same level of adoration and adulation. They aren’t. While fully aware they don’t make policy, they actually feel their responsibility is not to report the news, but steer public opinion to their pet agendas and causes. That’s the fundamental problem with so-called journalism today. We’ve come a long way from “His Girl Friday” and “The Front Page”.

Forget about your absurd Pulitzer Prize winners when it comes to the Mueller investigation and everything involving the so-called “Deep State” and the silent coup against Donald Trump’s presidency. Sundance’s work over at The Conservative Treehouse is doing the kind of investigative work that ought to make the likes of Woodward and Bernstein drool with envy.

An absolute must-read on the Democrats’ march to socialism by Victor Davis Hanson.

There’s no other way to put it: Mitt Romney, you are a sleazy, slimy, disgusting, weasely, puss-filled piece of sh*t. I can’t believe I actually voted for you at one time. Now I understand why you picked Paul Ryan to be your running mate – both of you are swamp creatures of the highest merit. And I’ll add the late, not-so-great John McCain to that club. I can’t call you two-faced because that means you’d have a face to begin with – which you don’t, you snake. You are an absolute vile, disgraceful, small-minded, and pathetic excuse for a human being. Slimeball.

…did I get my point across?

..and his pal, former conservative fire-brand, now Trump-hater Ann Coulter is just a tired old screed. She was a Romney booster back in 2012 and only hopped on the Trump train when it benefitted her to sell more books. But I always suspected her of being a Never Trumper who would show her true colors when it became politically expedient to do so. Methinks she’s been downing a few too many chardonnays at cozy Beltway cocktail parties lately.

As I mentioned a couple of times in this space, Joe Biden doesn’t have a clue as to what’s about to hit him. He’s a swamp creature of epic proportions who has never come out with a position that wasn’t wrong, and someone who is as ethically challenged as anyone outside of the Clintons. He’s another Hillary Clinton in that he thinks his time in Washington makes him sufficiently qualified to say it’s “his time”, not realizing that the political ground has shifted under his feet significantly.

…old, haggard Joe is about to find out what happens when all the supposed hoopla doesn’t translate into anything worth seriously considering. His brand of touchy-feely (in his case literally), slap-the-back, glad-handed politics is gone, replaced by a polarized electorate that (most especially in the Democratic Party) doesn’t want to get along or compromise. The knives are already out to get him – here, here, and here are just three examples. The guy has always been a clueless mouthpiece, and he’s about to find out that this time around the joke is going to be on him.

Couldn’t have written this better myself. It’s only the most snow-flakey, Marxist ideology-brainwashed college dope who would think otherwise. The evidence is all around you if you’re just willing to open your eyes and see.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 10:39 | Comments (0)
April 23, 2019

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a long time but somehow was never able to get my arms around it. Thankfully, Tim Ziegler’s column in The American Thinker has taken care of that for me, and I implore anyone and everyone who hates Donald Trump, despises Donald Trump, or wakes up each day immersed in Trump Derangement Syndrome to read his column. Believe me when I tell you: it will do you a world of good. Why? Because all the anger, angst, and depression you have been feeling has been misplaced. No wonder you feel the way you do: you’ve been betrayed and are left with only the likes of Donald Trump to express your anger towards. And don’t expect the mainstream media to help you with this, because they’re fully invested in the hate Trump / Trump Derangement Syndrome industry. And an industry is what it is.

I’ve thought for a long time why the hatred towards Donald Trump? Sure, the guy is egomaniacal, abrasive, impatient, and rich, but anyone who ever watched “The Apprentice” on TV could tell you that. Sure, these qualities can be entertaining when it comes to network TV and may not play as well when you’re the President of the United States with a Twitter feed; in my view, there had to be something more at work here. Which is why Ziegler’s column is so important, because I now get it.

The sense of betrayal and open-woundedness, courtesy of none other than Hillary Rodham Clinton.

When you think about it, it all makes sense. Everyone wonders how we got to this place – a country so divided and so at odds with one another, and a mainstream media so committed to the destruction of Donald Trump as if Trump himself is the reason for their misery. Which begs the question, is what’s going on really Trump’s fault? Doesn’t Hillary Clinton bear at least some of the responsibility for where we are as a nation at this point? Remember Hillary’s concern ahead of the election that Trump wouldn’t accept the will of the people were he to lose the 2016 election? My question is, where has Hillary been since she lost the election? What has she done to help heal the country and bring it together following her loss?

In one word? Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Bupkis.

Ziegler’s column, therefore, should be a must-read for everyone. I encourage y’all to read it in full, but would like to pick a few notable passages that warrants attention:

For the last two years we have all been forced to endure the temper tantrum thrown by Hillary Clinton over her second Presidential campaign loss just as the spectators in a grocery store aisle watch the young mother attempt to discipline her out-of-control toddler as it thrashes itself screaming across the floor.

The American people defeated Hillary in the Democrat Primary season of 2008. The popular version of that loss is that Obama overwhelmed the party with his charm. The reality is that Democratic Party voters chose his inexperience, melanin level, and vacuous campaign of “Hope and Change” over the known petulance and criminality that they had witnessed during the 1990s by the Clinton administration and didn’t want to give the keys of the republic to the Clintons again.

Hillary and Patti Solis-Doyle ran a disastrous campaign in 2008 that was only superseded in its ineptitude by Hillary’s and John Podesta’s campaign of 2016. Barack Obama became the candidate and then president for two terms because of the second worst presidential campaign in American history.

Hillary’s overarching personal ambition was that she was destined to be President of the United States. It wasn’t that she was a popular candidate. It was merely her turn.

…It isn’t just the campaigns that were utter disasters, but also her tenure as secretary of state. Her testimony in front of a House committee where she displayed her contempt for Congress, the American military, her own ambassador to Libya, and the three other Americans whose lives were wasted in her foolish attempt to politicallyo reshape North Africa, the Middle East, and imperil our biggest ally in the region — the State of Israel — was the height of arrogance.

Hillary never understood that she was her own worst enemy. The more people got to know her, the more they disliked her. Her campaign crowds in Iowa were paltry compared to Sander’s enthusiastic and youthful attendees. The same would be true eight years later when Trump was holding rallies for the tens of thousands of supporters who supported him not because of his Republican Party credentials but because he was running against Hillary, while she could only garner hundreds to occasionally thousands in her campaign events.

It was those disenfranchised voters who failed to show up that kept Hillary from winning the election against Trump.

The entire Russian collusion fiasco has been an attempted coup de etat against a legitimately elected President of the United States.

For over two years we have listened to the harping of her flying monkeys of the press, Democratic-voting bureaucrats, and potential crony-consultants seeking employment in Washington undermine and denigrate Donald Trump who really was elected to “drain the swamp” and “fix Washington D.C.” because he wasn’t a politician. The American electorate had tried fixing the corrupt conundrum in the nation’s capital by switching parties every two terms so that the corruption wouldn’t become too deeply embedded. That didn’t work. The corruption and spending continued apace. Donald Trump was elected to fix that, and, to not let Hillary Clinton embed the corruption any deeper than it already was.

Think about what might have happened if, rather than falling into a booze-fueled, physically-violent tantrum on Election Night, she had handled it like an adult (and, I might add, like most other candidates), and come out on stage, offer her congratulations to her opponent after a hard-fought political campaign and her support to the new administration, and – most importantly – encourage those who supported her campaign to work towards bringing the country together. Think of what a strong woman portrayal that might have been.

I can only imagine how a gracious, selfless, and magnanimous act for the good of the country would have changed the way things are. It would have elevated her reputation to a place few would have thought possible. It would have helped temper what can only be described as the madness exhibited by the liberal left and promoted by mainstream media via its non-stop negative coverage of Donald Trump since virtually day one. If Hillary Clinton had played the role of statesman instead of the vile and petty harping of “the woman wronged” we’d all be in a better place. But that’s not what Hillary Clinton ever was nor ever will be.

What this country should do is get done on its collective knees and thank God such a ruthless, unstable, and dangerous person was never, and will never, be elected to the office of President of the United States. Unfortunately, because of her, and because of the Clinton influence that still permeates so many cable news and network news newsrooms, nothing is ever going to change. Why the Clintons – as blatantly corrupt and morally and ethically bankrupt a political family as any this country has ever known – holds that kind of sway is beyond me. But the fact that they have allowed the kind of character and political assassination of Donald Trump to continue as it has tells you everything you need to know about their own personal interests and how they value the interests of this country.

And you can’t blame or hate Donald Trump and his family for that.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:35 | Comments (0)
April 22, 2019

Target Handicap: 20.0
MyScorecard.com Handicap: 27.0 / Change: (0.0)
Location: Superstition Springs Golf Club
Score: 46 + 59 = 105

It has been 4 1/2 months since I last played a round of golf with my Goodboys pals last December in Las Vegas. Between having to wait for my right hand to feel strong enough where I felt I could make it through a whole round (which it did, although it’s a bit sore and stiff as to be expected) and the lack of practice I’ve been able to put in, it felt great just to be out there on a warm and breezy Saturday morning amongst golfers and to feel the excitement of being able to tee it up once again.

It’s funny the things you miss by not playing: I love hearing all the golf chatter, the sounds of club and ball making contact, the feeling of getting your golf self together before heading to the practice range – glove: check; tees and ball markers in left-hand pocket: check; prescription sunglasses exchange places with your sunglasses: check. And the smell of green grass, and, yes, even the occasional whiff of a cigar being smoked. The folks gathered ’round the putting green and chipping area. I had missed it all. And for a moment, when I heard my name mentioned with the twosome I was playing with calling us over the loudspeaker to the first tee, it wasn’t nervousness I felt, just excitement at being alive, free, and able to recreate in this way. And as I strode to the first tee to shake the hands of my playing partners that day I filed the feeling away for future reverie when circumstances might be a little (or perhaps not so little) different.

It’s only been in the last week and over two small buckets at the range that I’ve implemented what I plan to be the very last tweaks I’m ever planning on making in my golf swing – which is, everything at 3/4 – both my takeaway and my follow-through. It’s been something my Goodboys pal “The Funny Guy” has been preaching for, like, years, but it’s taken me this long to realize this is way I want to play it from now on. Would it have been nice to have a few more sessions working on this (for me) major change? Sure, but I was really looking at getting out there and see just how much rust I had to shake off.

I started out h-o-t hot, only three over after five holes. I immediate put my brandy-new 3 hybrid into use after a wayward drive on #1, sticking it to ten feet where I then two-putt for par. Not a bad way to start a new golf year! And truth be told, I had no business double-bogeying the par 5 #6 – my best drive (as it turned out) of the day and a crushed 5-wood left me only 145 yards from the pin, but my first poor iron swing of the day followed by two chunked chips (a common sight on the back nine), and a three-putt (the last from less than a foot) resulted in the first crack in the dam. I followed that up with decent-enough bogeys on the par 3 seventh and par 5 8th (helped by a 24-foot one-putt) before a lousy drive on nine (OB left) and yet another chunked chip resulted in a double-bogey six and a lovely 46. Still, not bad for my first nine of the year!

The back nine started OK enough but a chunked chip and a missed two-footer resulted in a double-bogey six. On the par 5 #11, a decent drive and a decent 5-wood left me only 100 yards from the pin, albeit in a somewhat tricky position due to a palm tree partially obscuring my view of the green. I still don’t know what happened to that pitching wedge shot – I caught it flush (probably too flush) but we never found it. A drop, two chunked chips, and a four-putt (the last from a foot out) resulted in a crowd-pleasing quad bogey nine. And, like the horse that gets spooked by some unexpected sound, it was all downhill from there.

No question my swing started getting too long and my ball position too far forward – you’d think by now I would be able to rein in these tendencies, but the game started moving a little fast on me. The Springs’ back nine requires concise drives off the tee, and after wayward drives right I found myself out of position on every hole the rest of the way. I held it together enough with bogeys on the par 3 #12 and the par 4 #13, but an admittedly poorly-conceived approach shot on #14 (I tried for the green from an awkward downhill lie over water when I should have kicked it out to a safer place) cost me dearly and led to a double-bogey. After that the wheels came off, resulting in a double, quad, double, and another quad bogey to finish things up.

The numbers don’t lie: six fairways hit, two greens in regulation, 32 putts (not that bad!), only eight holes at bogey or better. The sad truth is, given my hot start I should never have ended up with a score in triple digits. To be thirteen strokes worse on the back than on the front is really unconscionable, my playing partners and I enjoyed a good time and the margarita and Mexican food afterwards tasted pretty damned good. Sure, there’s stuff I need to work on (the fact I hadn’t even touched my short game since December is something I can fix easily enough), and I’m confident that the 3/4 swing strategy is a good one since it served me so well on the front nine.

Maybe I’d be feeling a little more distressed were it, say, May or June, but for now, just getting out there and kicking the year off feels good enough. I did some good things but not nearly enough, and I’m looking forward to improving on those aspects of my game before my next time out.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 01:05 | Comments (0)
April 20, 2019

Hard to believe it’s Easter weekend already – isn’t the year flying by? My landscaper Carmelo and I take great pleasure in having the front “prayer grotto” and rear bougainvillea looking mighty fine for Easter, and I don’t think front or back has ever looked as good as it does this year.

In the front Carmelo has created a lower arch than we have had in prior years. I’d like to think we’re trying to accomplish two things: 1) accentuate the “grotto” aspect of the prayer grotto, and 2) simulate in our own small way the shape of the rock-hewn tomb Jesus was laid in and rose from on the third day. It’s kind of cool to duck your head underneath and have a look at the candle burning in front of the cross, dontcha think?

In the back, this year the gold bougainvillea really seems to have taken off. OK, so they’re more Christmas colors than Easter. But they still look great against a clear blue sky, don’t they?

Here’s hoping everyone has a blessed Easter weekend. Me? Today is “opening day” of The Great White Shank’s 2019 golf season, teeing it up at Superstition Springs Golf Club. I haven’t had a whole lot of time to work on my golf game given my right hand (feeling 85%, thanks), work, and doing stuff around the house, but I’d like to think the minor changes I’ve been working on with my golf swing in what little time I have had are significant – things I hope to take to the course tomorrow. My sister-in-law Tam has made everyone Easter baskets, which will make for a colorful Easter Sunday.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:54 | Comments (0)
April 19, 2019

Hat tip: Rising Serpent

So in the end all the libs and their political operatives in the mainstream media are left with is a few measly strands of supposed “scandal” – Robert Mueller’s interpretation that it was difficult to assess Donald Trump’s mindset during the entire two years of Mueller’s investigation and therefore equally difficult to say yea or nay as to whether obstruction of justice occurred. That’s it.

Obstruction of justice? Obstruction of justice? Whoa, wait a minute. I – silly me – was under the impression after all the hype and hysteria from the likes of MSNBC, CNN, The Washington Post, The New York Times and all the major networks that Robert Mueller’s investigation was all about Russia and collusion, and that Trump was some kind of Russian agent and even a traitor because his campaign collaborated with “Bad Vlad” to deny Hillary Clinton the election and the presidency that was so rightly hers.

What happened to that??

No, no. Even if obstruction of justice was true (which it obviously wasn’t, that was just Mueller giving President Trump the middle finger as a parting gift) – you Trump-hating losers (and you are the very definition of losers) don’t get to move the goalposts that easily. You can’t spend virtually every waking hour on your network coverage for more than two years pushing the Russia collusion angle with speculation, character assassination, and unnamed sources and then on the day the final report was issued detour all your attention to obstruction of justice. And even at that, you’re all looking like the morons you are and have been since Donald Trump was elected. As Powerline blog’s John Hinderaker points out:

One of the Democrats’ basic problems is that “attempting” to obstruct the investigation doesn’t make a lot of sense. If Trump had really wanted to obstruct the investigation, he could simply have terminated it. And Mueller acknowledges that the administration fully cooperated with the investigation in every way. So the “attempts to obstruct” come down to Trump expressing outrage at the fact that a baseless, partisan investigation was hampering his administration. Arguably Trump should have brought the Mueller farce to an end, but he didn’t.

The above being said, it’s fairly obvious what was going on with the Mueller investigation. Robert Mueller knew almost from the start that there was no evidence involving Russia collusion. The challenge was to take the investigation in whatever direction was needed to goad Trump to fire Mueller. (Which is why such a focus was initially on the (obvious) set-up meeting at Trump Tower involving Don Jr., who refused to take the bait.) Mueller figured if he could get any dirt on a Trump family member he’d be toast, and the Democrats – were they able to take both the House and the Senate in the 2018 midterms – would have sufficient cause for impeachment hearings, with, not unlikely, the support of more than a few Republicans along the way. Trump’s presidency would then be toast, leading him to either resign or be voted out in 2020.

Of course, the Republicans retained control of the Senate, and the movements by the Mueller investigation team, obviously goading the President to fire Mueller, were unsuccessful. Trump’s feelings about the Mueller investigation – whether on his own or by heeding the advice of his various counsels, never went beyond the feelings expressed on his Twitter feed. Bye-bye obstruction, and Mueller’s team, pissed, was reduced to the admission that there was no evidence of collusion with Russia and a parting shot of the amorphous language regarding obstruction.

So everything the Democrats and the liberal media have promoted for the better part of 2 1/2 years has now been proven to be much ado about nothing. Given their hatred of Trump, they’ll undoubtedly continue to hassle the President and his administration with more investigations and even impeachment threats, but I have a funny feeling both Chuck Schumer and “San Fran Nan” Pelosi know damned well that voters will now expect a little more constructive action from their elected leaders in Washington. Of course, the Democrats won’t be able to help themselves (Pelosi herself having lost control of her caucus), and they’ll try to make the 2020 elections a referendum on Trump’s presidency and his fitness for office. All I can say is, good luck with that – especially with the clown car of candidates the Dems will be running in 2020.

I may be wrong here, but if the Democrats continue to go down this road I do not believe the voters in 2020 will be amused.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:53 | Comments (0)
April 17, 2019

It had been a task I’d been putting off for as long as I can remember: cleaning the kitchen cabinets inside, outside, and upside. After all, while the outside of the cabinets had been cleaned from time to time since our arrival here in Arizona more than fifteen years ago, I had never gotten around to emptying out and cleaning the insides. Ugh. Here’s a pic of our kitchen so you know what I’m talking about:

I’m guessing, like most folks, we have several “go to” cabinets that contain the most-used stuff, like pots and pans and the like. But then (also like most folks, I gather) you have those cabinets that become the dumping ground for all kinds of assorted stuff that you end up either never using again or completely forgetting about – kinda like the household equivalent of a black hole. For us, it has always been the furthest cabinet on the upper right. Below the countertop, that’s where you can find glass vases of various shapes and sizes from the many wedding anniversaries and Tracey birthday observances over the years. Above the counter? Well, I couldn’t even begin to tell you what was even in there. Mostly because I seldom had a need to get anything from there due to its proximity furthest away from the cooking area. It was never used for any kind of cookware, so over the years whatever was put in there (outside of the trash bags) was pretty much ignored.

After the New Year, it was my resolution to clean the kitchen from top to bottom, including the inside of all cabinets. I had a feeling that, like most people undertaking a similar goal, I would find some things I really didn’t want to see in the deepest, darkest regions of my cabinet space. (Which I did, BTW, but there’s no need to go there.) Nevertheless, out came the plastic gloves and cleaning agents, believing that, in the end and once it was over and done with, I’d find the whole experience freeing and rewarding, with a kitchen that was top-to-bottom clean.

There really wasn’t any rhyme nor reason as to where I started – the Saturday I chose to start the day was sunny and the air clean and cool, so I opened the patio doors and chose the top right-hand side (nearest the doors), figuring I’d work the kitchen in a deliberate fashion from right to left. I opened the cabinet and after pulling the trash bag box I noted first a cardboard box marked “FRAGILE!”. I took the box out and gave it a bit of a shake (big mistake, as it turned out) and laid it on the island countertop. Opening the flaps I saw what looked like three shirts wrapped around an object of some kind. Imagine my surprise at pulling the first t-shirt out and two immediate observations:

1. The t-shirt was from the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee – one of the schools I had been hoping to attend for my Masters in Divinity degree during my pursuit of being ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church.
2. The presence of beach sand on the countertop.

“What the hell?”, said I, suddenly realizing there was something of an unusual shape in the box. I carefully removed a second t-shirt (and with it, more sand) – another reminder of the four years we had spent in Kentucky between 1998-2002 and the following 1 1/2 years we lived in Milford, Mass. just prior to our move to Arizona. Removing the final t-shirt which served as a covering, I let out a gasp.

“Oh wow!” I had completely forgotten about a sea sculpture I believe (frequent commenter Jana will help me here) our good friend from Kentucky Jana gave to us as a gift before we left for Massachusetts.

It was beautiful, and something I had completely forgotten we had. I’m sure we had put it up in that cabinet when we first moved here, simply because we were so focused on getting all our important, daily-use stuff where it was going to be, figuring we’d find a place for it when everything else got settled before completely forgetting about its very existence.

Looking at the sea sculpture and the Sewanee shirt, my mind was flooded with memories, some good, some more bittersweet. More than anything, however, a real sense of melancholy came over me at just how much time had passed. I thought about what life was like when the box had been packed, the air from that time and moment sealed inside the box along with the sea sculpture and the t-shirts. Heck, I was in my late ’40s then, a whole lifetime seemingly ahead of me. My mom was alive and full of life, still living with my dad in their Lowell, Mass. condo. While seniors, my parents were still fairly young seniors and doing all the things they enjoyed doing together – going out to eat and going to the Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun casinos every month, playing cards with my Auntie Marge and my Uncle Don every Saturday night.

Now, more than fifteen years later, Mom is gone, and Auntie too. I’m 63, and I don’t give a shit what anyone else thinks – at this point in life there’s really not a whole lot of new and exciting things to look forward to. Oh, there will come retirement (perhaps sooner than I’d like), and working on my golf game and not having to deal with all the bullshit at work is something worth looking forward to, I suppose. But I also know damned well that there’s bound to be some medical issue that arises that isn’t going to be pleasant, something that will make me long for days long passed – not wasted, I don’t think, not unappreciated at the time, neither – just days that were far better than they will be at some future point in time (hopefully later than sooner!).

Which is all life is, when you get right down to it – just time tick-tick-ticking away, and just a little faster every year.

But enough about things and events one can neither control nor foresee. I’ve put the sea sculpture on my bathroom vanity, just a foot or so away from the seashell tray filled with little seashell-shaped soaps that had sat on my parents’ bathroom countertop in the apartment they moved into not long after we moved out here in Arizona. I’d always liked it, and I brought it here to Arizona when my dad didn’t have room for it in the bathroom of the studio apartment he moved into last year. Together these cherished objects provide a daily reminder of times long passed – good times, I think, even if at the time I may not have thought the life and/or the situation I was in felt that way.

I guess that’s what time in its inevitable rite of passage does best – helps you remember the good times, forget the bad. Or, perhaps, what you thought was bad at the time that really wasn’t that bad after all. It’s just the ebb and flow of life, right? And its moments like the one that Saturday afternoon that made me realize just how long a road it has been that I’ve traveled, both physically (and metaphysically).

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:20 | Comments (4)
April 15, 2019

Can you imagine what the vibe was like at GOLF Channel after Tiger Woods’ win at Augusta on Sunday? Why, you just know it had to have been the golf equivalent of what it would have been like at CNN and MSNBC had Robert Mueller’s report found incontrovertible evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and that a subpoena with Donald Trump’s John Hancock on it was forthcoming. I mean, to see all that fawning coverage and over-the-top ass-kissing (yes, I’m especially talking about you, Rich Lerner) for the past, what, ever finally – finally! bear fruit had to have been very self-satisfying beyond their wildest dreams.

Now that Tiger has won his 15th major the floodgates open. The hunt for Jack’s record of 18 majors is back on.

How amazing is Tiger? Isn’t Tiger magnificent? What can Tiger do to top this?

Tiger. Tiger. Tiger. Tiger. Tiger. All Tiger all the time.

Now there’s no longer any excuse for 24/7 Tiger coverage. It’s back to open season on everything Tiger. We’ll hear about every thought, comment, and action Tiger takes for the rest of our natural lives or until his body breaks down again (whichever comes first). He’s now automatically the overwhelming favorite going into every tournament he enters. Everything that was once off the board is back on the board. No one, or nothing else, associated with professional golf – never mind the PGA TOUR – matters anymore. No matter what anyone does going forward, it will all be somehow related back to Tiger and what Tiger did or has done.

Just think of it. Say, Brooks Koepka wins, say, another U.S. Open. You just know the first question out of the media’s mouth will be, “So, Brooks, how does this win feel knowing that you missed that putt on 18 at the Masters to basically hand Tiger the tournament.” Or, say, Justin Thomas wins his second major down the line and Tiger finishes four strokes back. You just know the question will be something like, “So Justin, did having Tiger lurking behind you with a chance at his 16th major ever enter your mind?” Because that’s how it’s going to be going forward – no matter what anyone else does, or how anyone else plays, you just know the media – and especially the shills at GOLF Channel – will try and work Tiger into the conversation. You thought it was bad before today? Lemme tell, y’all, you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet. Unless you’re an incurable Tiger flunkie, the coverage will be virtually unwatchable.

Look, I’m not trying to take anything away from Tiger’s achievement, most especially after everything he has been through since his last major win in 2008. He not only outplayed the field on a murky, threatening Sunday, he out-thought and thus out-persevered the rest of the field. I always figured if Tiger was going to win another major it would be at Augusta. Why? Because Augusta on a Sunday is unlike any other experience in professional golf. It requires, thought, patience, and strategy. It’s not just about the shot in front of you, it’s recognizing the vibe all around you and how to handle it. And, besides Phil Mickelson, there’s no one who knows Augusta, the pressure, the shot-making required, and the Sunday afternoon vibe, better than Tiger Woods.

The saying goes that the Masters doesn’t really start until the back nine on Sunday, and was there never a better example of that today? I mean, there you had Francesco Molinari on cruise control, only to be one of four – four! – players in the last two groups to find the water on the par 3 #12. And when that happened you could almost hear the gears in Tiger’s head start churning up a notch. He knew, just like everyone knew, that Molinari created an opening wide enough to drive a 16-wheeler through it, and that that was going to sting the rest of the way through. And while there were players and pretenders making mini-charges the rest of the way, you could see Tiger simply sticking to his plan, knowing that if he kept on doing what he was doing the others would find a way to fall by the wayside.

Honestly? I didn’t think Brooks Koepka was going to miss that putt on 18. After all, dude has ice water in his veins, right? I mean, of all the friggin’ putts to miss! But that’s the way it goes.

A couple of other thoughts:

1. Enough about Rory McIlroy. He’s the golf equivalent of a pretty boy who just doesn’t want to get his hands dirty. Might be the greatest guy in the world, but he made his fame and fortune too early. Whenever I hear someone say that (for all intents and purposes) it doesn’t really matter if you win or lose the Masters it won’t change who you are as a person, that tells me everything I need to know. No one will dispute his talent, but the fact is, he’s not, and never will be, a killer. And the same holds true for Justin Rose.

2. Jordan Spieth? Ditto. Listen, I absolutely love to watch the guy play golf, but it’s obvious he’s got a stubborn streak in him a mile wide. Brandel Chamblee laid out before THE PLAYERS exactly what Jordan was doing wrong and what he needed to get back to his earlier form, and you have to think “his team” saw or heard Brandel’s comments. The fact he hasn’t taken them to heart tells me everything I need to know. Regardless of his public comments, he’s got to know that his swing sucks and he has no clue where his next shot is going to go. So what’s he trying to prove?

3. Dustin Johnson misses way too many putts from ten feet in to ever win a green jacket. He played great this week, but at Augusta (as I’m sure he knows) it all comes down to putting. I think Brooks Koepka now knows this and will adjust accordingly – after all, he, unlike Rory, is a steely-eyed killer who’s going to win at least one major this year. And perhaps Augusta next year.

4. Alternatively, Xander Schauffele is a virtual lock to win a green jacket someday. He’s got the same kind of steely-eyed killer instinct that Koepka does, he’s just a little behind him yet. Justin Thomas? I’m not so sure. I think there are some tournaments and courses that make a good match for players and I don’t see Augusta being that way for JT.

5. While it was pathetic to see Adam Scott miss all those putts on Saturday, it’s just as well as he did, because if he couldn’t make them on “moving day” you knew there was no way in hell he was going to make them on Sunday when it mattered. I love his swing but as a putter he is painful to watch.

Finally, just another indicator of how Tiger Woods doesn’t just move the needle, he is the needle. After the Masters ended, I was at the PGA TOUR Superstore down the street to pick up a couple of gloves. I mentioned to the sales person Tiger’s win, and the guy tells me they expect business to increase as much as 20% over the coming weeks purely because of Tiger’s win at Augusta. Tells you something, huh?

Is it too late to make Tiger the favorite at Bethpage Black? Or maybe even sweep the majors and catch Jack after winning the Open Championship in July? Why not? After all, you just know he’s now the favorite going into all those events. Heck, he’s already a lock for golfer of the year.

Whoo whoo!!!! I’m riding the Tiger train.

I think not. But he does deserve all the congratulations in the world for finding his way back to the top of the professional golf world. Well done, Tiger.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 01:23 | Comments (0)
April 13, 2019

It’s 2019 and we’ve finally decided to something about the backyard. It looks OK – most especially the repainted patio:

…but the 800 lb. gorilla in the backyard has always been the swimming pool patio/deck. Over the past few years it has really started to show its age – the pool deck coating has become chipped and completely missing in spots, revealing the poured concrete underneath it.

…but, given the size and shape of the backyard, the pool deck is such a critical feature that we’ve been holding off on any kind of decision until we could comfortably answer the question, with what?

As you can imagine, living in the Valley of the Sun and with all the swimming pools out here, the products and options for resurfacing pool decks are endless – everything do-it-yourself material you just pour and smooth over yourself to more exotic solutions such as the various kinds of tile out there.

In addition, I’ve been wanting to maximize the space available for true recreation on the pool deck by moving the barbeque grill back where I had it when we originally moved out here: to the concrete slab on the east-facing side of the house where the previous owners once had their spa.

The main problem with that location is that there’s no light out there, so when barbecuing during the fall and winter it’s damned dark out there. Sure, I could do what I used to do before and bring my flashlight out with me, but that’s not very cool, is it? Besides, that concrete slab is just begging for a new and exotic look that will make the whole area look that much more inviting and fun. So, I’ve been tossing around in my head running some kind of overhead lighting solution that doesn’t look third-rate and then recoating or painting or resurfacing that slab.

Finally, I’ve been thing about a wood-burning fire pit for a while now. Sure, we have a chiminea, but it’s not really cut out for the kind of wood burning you’d like to do come, say, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. And there’s this neutral spot between the pool deck and the grass area in front of the tiki bar just screaming out for something that looks recreational on cool nights: not to mention something you can enjoy by simply turning the chairs around on the pool deck to enjoy.

So there’s a lot of potential work to be done. But nothing was going to get moving until we made a decision on what to do with the pool deck. Every six weeks or so we get these magazines featuring every kind of home improvement company or service vendor you could imagine. Tracey is pretty picky about what she’s looking for as a pool deck surface replacement – it can’t be boring, and it can’t be all brown-shaded: after all, our newly-repainted patio is painted in lovely tropical colors. That being said, you also don’t want to get crazy and choose something that might turn off someone who might now share the same ideas about color and theme we do.

Enter the folks at Allied Outdoor Solutions and their Carvestone product. It’s perfect for what we’re looking for. Between the costs of do-it-yourself coatings and the high cost of solutions like granite and travertine tile, this not only fits our budget, but it comes in a wide range of colors that we’ll be able to select to integrate our patio and pool into a happy and colorful theme. Better yet, they will do our blank concrete slab for the designated barbeque area and even include a color medallion in the middle of the slab to really make it stand out. I think I’m going with an ancient sun:

Once the pool deck is done, everything else will fall into place: the barbecue grill will go to its new area on the east side of the house, and I’ll have the good folks at Hawkeye Landscaping create a lighting solution that will look great. (Hey, if we ever move from here and the new owners want to put a spa there it will make the side yard even more attractive!) Then, we’ll put in a wood-burning firepit with a mortar siding that will match the pink color in our patio with a surface around the top that will match the color of the pool deck. Everything will be integrated, everything will be designed for three-season “fun, fun, fun” that – oh, by the way – will increase the value of our property and make it more attractive to new home-buyers.

I’m kind of pleased and excited about the changes. I think, between the repainted patio, the cut-back mesquite tree, and the commitment to a new pool deck solution we’re finally going to be able to put the (at least for us) age-old question of “what are we going to do about the backyard” behind us. Can’t wait to show you the before and after pics – it ought to be something!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 17:04 | Comments (2)
April 11, 2019

It’s time to tee it up. All the yakking, prognosticating, and Rory McIlroy “Grand Slam” and Tiger Woods is Back! hype is over. It’s time to walk the walk, my friends, through Augusta National’s 18 holes in Great White Shank style. So here are 18 thoughts – some golf, some not, as another Masters beckons:

1. (Tea Olive). This will be the week when, looking back, the whole story behind the so-called “Russia collusion” began the shift from Donald Trump to the Democrats. Personally, I don’t think Democrats are outraged as much as they are scared shitless. Because (and it’s going to take time) the truth will ultimately be revealed that the truth behind “Russia” was nothing more than a silent coup attempted against a duly-elected President of the United States. And it’s going to get ugly. Because, just as the legendary mouthpiece of the Watergate scandal, “Deep Throat” told Bob Woodward about Watergate, “everyone is involved”.

2. (Pink Dogwood). Maybe, maybe not. But I’m leaning to this being a very big story going into the 2020 elections.

3. (Flowering Peach). I wish more professional golf tournaments would follow the example of Augusta National. The whole phone thing has gotten way out of hand.

4. (Flowering Crab Apple). I’ll admit, when she was first elected I thought Alexandra Ocasio-Cortex was very hot. But for gawdsakes, the woman can’t keep her friggin’ mouth shut, and her outrageous conspiracy theories are making her look like an absolute fool. Can’t somebody shut this girl up? I know if I’m feeling this way there are plenty of others as well. I’ll tell you this: she’s ruined whatever good will I was willing to toss her way. Once h-o-t hot, now just another Democratic leftist loon.

5. (Magnolia). …what she is, in fact, is a narcissist whose election inflated her ego to staggering proportions. And the same holds true for her Jew-hating compadre, Ilhan Omar. Something tells me “San Fran Nan” Pelosi is about to drop the hammer on these two clowns. As the new face of the Democratic Party, they may have a large Twitter following, but that doesn’t – and never will – translate to votes. Not to mention the fact that together they’re making their national Party look like morons.

6. (Juniper). I can’t think of Juniper bushes without thinking about this scene from Monty Python’s “Life of Brian”.

7. (Pampas). I guess it goes without saying that if the governor of Virginia were a Republican he wouldn’t get this kind of treatment. Democrats and their political operatives in the mainstream media are such friggin’ hypocrites.

8. (Yellow Jasmine). If you’re looking for what my next “Top 10” music list is going to feature, here’s a little hint, my little flower children.

9. (Carolina Cherry). The fact that The Boston Globe gave valuable opinion space to an pathetically ignorant and outrageously childish moron like this tells you everything you need to know about where today’s Democratic Party is. (Not to mention the Globe’s mindset.) Simply put, these people are batshit-crazy loons. And don’t tell Donald Trump is to blame – all he did was win an election over a Hillary Clinton.

10. (Camellia). …let me play straight with y’all: if you’re using Trump’s election to lower and disgrace yourself in thought like Mr. O’Neil has done in print, you’ve got bigger life issues than just Donald Trump being your president. Grow up.

11. (White Dogwood). This just another reason why I despise the NFL. When someone fears his political beliefs are going to harm him when it comes to getting drafted, it tells you just how many teams there are in the NFL truly committed to winning. If you’re a NFL owner who believes being a good social justice warrior trumps (no pun intended) putting the most talented team on the playing field, you need to find yourself another line of business.

12. (Golden Bell). This is a great story. His tenure in Boston might have been stormy, but no one who watched Manny and David “Big Papi” Ortiz hit back-to-back over their years together could never deny that whatever you were doing at the time, you dropped it to watch them hit. Never mind the fact that Manny helped the Red Sox win World Series championships in both 2004 (the best one ever, with Manny being named World Series MVP) and 2007. He may have driven me (and my parents) crazy from time to time, but I sure remember Manny Ramirez fondly.

13. (Azalea). I think the esteemed (at least in my view) Victor Davis Hanson has hit the nail on the head with this. Democrats know the only way to keep African-Americans on the plantation is to pander to them by playing the race card. As Candace Owens so eloquently put it in her fiery Congressional testimony on Tuesday, Democrats think African-Americans are stupid and only understand identity politics. And so, to make sure their electoral slaves stay chained to their political masters, their 2020 clown car candidates bring the concept of reparations mainstream. It’s a cynical and pathetic joke that is going to backfire on them, big time.

14. (Chinese Fir). Seems to me this is kind of a big thing. This is what makes folks so enraged about the “Deep State”. And I’m no political partisan when it comes to this: I guarantee both Democrats – and Republicans – are equally guilty. The present system of spoils stinks and, in my view, beyond repair. The only fix for the system is term limits, and that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

15. (Firethorn). My back patio painting project is done, and (as you’ll see in a soon-to-be-published post) our decisions on a major re-do in the backyard are committed to, so it’s time to start working on my golf game in earnest. The right hand feels ~ 85%, so there’s no excuse not to. The goal will be to hit balls and work on my short game twice next week, then kick off the 2019 golf season with (hopefully) the traditional Opening Day at Superstition Springs G.C. a week from Saturday.

16. (Redbud). When Barack Obama starts making more sense than all the Democratic challengers who have announced to date, you know the Democrats have a problem. It still wouldn’t surprise me to see Michelle Obama make an entry in the race – after all, looking at the Dems’ clown car candidates to date, you have to think the major donors out there would just love to throw their money behind a force like Moochelle. I think it would be a mistake on her part, but power can be a very enticing force.

17. (Nandina). My dark horse picks for the Masters this year? I’m going with Paul Casey and Jason Day, because I can’t make up my mind who will play better.

18. (Holly). My pick for the Masters this year? I’d love it to be Rory McIlroy, but logic says that Justin Rose has the game and the track record to win the Green Jacket. Lots of folks are picking Tiger Woods, but something tells me he’s not going to play as well as everyone suspects.

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

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