May 31, 2019

Target Handicap: 20.0
Location: Kokopelli Golf Club
Score: 42 + 47 = 89
MyScorecard.com Handicap: 26.0 / Change: (-1.0)

OK, I have to admit I didn’t see this one coming. I wasn’t even on planning to play, but a doctor’s appointment left the rest of my day wide open so I headed back to Kokopelli Golf Course, that sporty track where I shot a 109 a couple of weeks ago. The course was pretty empty when I arrived, so rather than warm up with a small bucket (with a high of 98 the day was going to be plenty warm enough as it was), I grabbed a cart and headed for the first tee.

While waiting for the twosome in front of me to clear the dogleg right (#1 is a 489-yard par 5) I committed myself to my plan: stick to what I’ve been working on, and no over-swinging. That was it – the goal was to let whatever happened, happen. A solid driver and equally solid 5-wood left me just thirty yards from the pin, and an all-too-familiar three-putt from sixteen feet led to a bogey. But after that I just felt myself fall into a quasi-groove, and I made par on five of the next six holes:

* On #2 (par 3, 184 yards), an OK 4-hybrid just off the green left and two putts for par.
* On #3 (a short 319-yard par 4), a pushed 5-iron left followed by a thinly-hit 3-hybrid to twenty feet and two putts.
* On #5 (373-yard par 4) caught a fairway, 5-iron over the green, chipped on, one putt.
* On #6 (184-yard par 3) pushed a 4-hybrid left, chipped on, one putt.
* On #7 (340-yard par 4) caught another fairway, 9-iron to twelve feet, two putts.

I bogeyed both #s 8 (a long 552-yard par 5) and #9 (missed a two-foot putt for par) for a 42, matching my all-time best nine-hole score. The biggest difference from the last few times out? My short game showed up and I made some putts for a change – only 13 on the front – an indication that I was chipping well. My ball-striking was OK enough, I just played smart and didn’t make a whole lot of mistakes.

There was no one in front of me when I teed off on #10, so before I hit got my iPhone out and asked Siri to queue up my surf music mix. Anytime you can have a beautiful day and an open golf course in front of you, I mean how good is that?

I started the back nine with a bogey five on #10, then on #11 (a tight 331-yard par 4) my drive was pulled right but I executed a 7-iron off a bony lie to six feet. Missed the birdie putt but made par. On #12 (a 407-yard par 4) I caught another fairway and hit an 8-iron to twelve feet. Missed that birdie putt but made another par. On #13 (a short 324-yard par 4) I made my first real mistakes of the day. I had only 112 yards to the pin and pulled a 9-iron way left. Chipped on and missed a four-footer for bogey. Then, on #14 (175-yard par 3) a 5-iron left me twenty feet for par. Got my first putt to three feet, then proceeded to three-putt from that distance for a double-bogey five. Ouch! My play on #s 15 (a 505-yard par 5 with water all down the left) and #16 (a pedestrian 345-yard par 4) was rather sloppy, but I grinded out a bogey and double-bogey, respectively before a rocking-chair bogey on the par 3 #17 and double-bogeying #18 for a 47.

Two weeks ago I played the same course and shot a 109. So how does one improve their score by a whopping twenty strokes in that time? It’s just golf. Clearly, I did everything today just a little bit better than I (obviously) did two weeks ago. Without a doubt, my short game (with the exception of that four-putt on #14) was a whole lot better, and that helped out immensely. It might sound strange, but even though I hit seven fairways today, I don’t really feel as if I hit my driver all that well – I could never really catch a feel. And the same held true with my irons – while I hit a number of quality shots, I never felt like I was in any kind of a groove. And it’s also true I got some very good bounces today, but that’s what happens, I think, when you’re playing fairly well.

There’s still work to do, most especially hitting my irons and hybrids off a tee – for some reason I just have a propensity to over-swing. That’s something I’d like to see improvement on before Goodboys Invitational weekend. But any time I can break ninety, boy, I’ll take it! It’s just not something I’ll count on seeing me do anytime soon. For The Great White Shank, all the golf stars have to be in alignment in order to do that. Today they were, which is why I call it “sucker golf”.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 21:35 | Comments (0)
May 29, 2019

I’ve been holding off commenting much on the fallout from the Mueller investigation because I’ve been waiting for the dust to settle. Now that both AG Barr and Mueller himself (after yesterday’s statement) appear to have had their own last words, here is what I think happened and where things stand. As I’ve previously mentioned, it has become crystal clear that the whole Russia collusion thing was a half-baked attempt by the Hillary campaign and those at the highest levels of the country’s intelligence community to sabotage Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and, following his election, his administration in order to cover up abuses and illegal spying/surveillance (call it what you will) that had expanded exponentially under the Obama administration.

The FBI did nothing with the obvious illegal actions of Hillary Clinton in using a private e-mail server and sending classified information by e-mail. They knew she was involved in “pay for play” access to the Clinton Foundation and was basically using her office as a shakedown operation for access to both her and Bill during her time as Secretary of State. Everybody knew it – most especially James Comey – but there was no way he was going to do anything about it because once that investigation got underway it would reveal the various illegal spying being done by the FBI, CIA, and other countries’ intelligence organizations at the behest of the Obama administration. Obama’s AG Loretta Lynch and his “senior advisor” Valerie Jarrett were entrusted to make damned sure of that.

They all thought Clinton would be elected president, but Election Night 2016 sent shockwaves through the various actors involved in the above. Hence, the Mueller investigation. Of course, Robert Mueller and his investigators knew all along there was no Russia collusion, so all they could do was try and use the investigation as a tool to call in witnesses in the hopes of entrapping them to sing like canaries and obtain obstruction of justice charges against anyone who could lead them to Donald Trump (and, even better, Trump himself). But that didn’t work, because the President’s legal team smelled a rat. In the end, no one could prove anything because there was nothing there to begin with. And as long as Jeff Sessions was AG, nothing further was going to happen beyond that, because Sessions – a “swamp creature” if there ever was one – knew where all the bodies were buried and, as a go along/get along kind of guy, he wasn’t going to upend the applecart.

What no one anticipated was that Donald Trump is, and never has been, a “let bygones be bygones” kind of guy. As someone who is always on offense, and – whether you agree with him or not – is the smartest guy in the room and always sees the bigger picture, Trump was willing to wait out the Mueller investigation and to pick his spot. And “his spot” was picking William Barr to be his AG and to allow Barr and his investigators (with the aid of Trump’s ability to declassify information), to uncover the real story behind the Russia investigation.

What Mueller said today, in the grand scheme of things, doesn’t really matter: this was Mueller taking a cowardly last cheap shot at Trump. The entire Mueller investigation stunk to high hell – entirely politically motivated and timed to allow those most intimately involved to cover their tracks. You want a quick translation of Mueller’s press conference? “We [Mueller’s deep state investigators] tried our damnedest but could not find evidence of collusion nor obstruction, so all we can do now is sling mud and hope it sticks. But you fellas don’t really need evidence to impeach so go ahead and do your part as per our original plan.”

I predict the Democrats will now vote to impeach President Trump, but it is going to kill them in the end come Election Night 2020. Let the political theatrics begin!

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 21:21 | Comments (0)
May 27, 2019

It’s been a great Memorial Day weekend here in the Valley of the Sun. The weather has been perfect – more like March than May – and it’s been both fun and relaxing. Played an enjoyable round of golf on an extremely tough course on Saturday (next post), and, while Sunday and Monday were pretty much working days, it was nice to have a quiet house and being able to get a lot of work done. In the meantime…

Maybe it’s just me, but isn’t this just stupid? I mean, scaling Mt. Everest being the equivalent of Cape Cod traffic on a summer weekend? Earth to all you climbers: if there are that many people able to make the trek to the top of Everest then maybe it’s not that unique a thing to do.

R.I.P. Bill Buckner. 69 seems awfully young. I’m glad he and the Boston fans made their peace. After all, it wasn’t his fault that manager John McNamara put someone with his bad knees in a position to fail.

I’ve said all along that Joe Biden’s ride to the Democratic nomination was going to be a bumpy one. The guy’s a doofus and a phony, his record on important issues sucks – has this bonehead every been on the right side of anything? – and he looks like death warmed over. If he thought the progressive wing of the Democratic Party was simply going to roll over and play dead just because he thinks it’s “his turn”, he’s in for a shock. The progressives know what happened the last time their choice got run over by someone who also thought it was “their turn”, and they’re not going to let it happen again. Here’s the money quote:

Voters are going into events with him expecting ‘Uncle Joe,’ but they come out having seen ‘Grandpa Joe.’

Personally, I hope Ol’ Slow Joe gets the nomination – Trump will make mincemeat out of him.

…and I personally Democratic dopes like this get their wish. Tlaib and the equally-repulsive Ilhan Omar are poster children for the hate America drift of a Democratic Party that has truly lost its way.

This is such a cool story. I’m wondering if an alien life force triggered the satellite to start transmitting.

The fact that this guy apparently still has a job justifies President Trump’s use of the term “fake news”. These people truly are the enemy of the people.

R.I.P Edmund Morris. His book on Reagan sucked, but the three-volume work on Theodore Roosevelt was both fascinating and a masterwork. You really got a feel for who the real “TR” was behind the legend.

This is so very cool. I love reading stories like this.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 20:28 | Comments (0)

From Michael Notham:

Frank Glick captured this shot of a loan eagle perched on gravestone of veteran Maurice Rich. Rich was a marksman stationed in Aleutian Islands. He served four years in military and earned a bronze star.

On this Memorial Day we remember all those who gave their lives for the cause of freedom whenever and wherever it mattered. We thank them for their service and their sacrifice.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:38 | Comments (0)
May 25, 2019

Target Handicap: 20.0
Location: Ocotillo Golf Club
Score: 61 + 54 = 115
MyScorecard.com Handicap: 27.2 / Change: (0.0)

If yesterday was the way golf should never be played, today’s round at the beautiful Ocotillo Golf Club – regardless of my score – was the way golf should be played. Pristine conditions, great playing partners, beautiful weather, and, if not a brisk pace, then at least a stead pace. Having a mid-to-late morning tee time on a Saturday afternoon, it’s really all one could ask. Ocotillo is a Phil Mickelson golf properties laid out as three nine-hole courses that wind its way through very expensive (if not exclusive) subdivision. I played the White and Gold courses, and there was water (and I’m not talking insignificant water) on fourteen of the eighteen holes – lakes, ponds, and creeks that made for very strategic golf. The cart paths wound through lovely gardens of flowers of every color. If any of the Goodboys ever want to come out and play golf with The Great White Shank, this is the place I would bring them.

After yesterday’s meltdown at Stonecreek Golf Club, I actually felt fairly composed as I warned up on Ocotillo’s driving range. I knew I was going to lose a bunch of balls, so I came well prepared. My primary goal warming up was to try and stick to my plan and the swing I had been crafting over the past few weeks. It’s true that it all fell apart on me on the range on Thursday and at Stonecreek, but I truly felt my fundamentals were sound and that I should try and stick with it, no matter what. I was breaking tees again with my driver as I warmed up, but all of a sudden I found a “feel” that didn’t feel as if I was over-swinging. My irons were not good, but I could feel my tempo and transition all out of kilter again. I would have to find it on the course.

While it didn’t look pretty, the 61 on the White Course front wasn’t as bad as it seemed. I made good swings on just about every hole (the triple and quad bogeys on #8 and 9 being the exception), I just couldn’t put anything together. And, as has been oh-so-predictable to date, my short game sucked – two double bogeys on the front was the best I could manage. Still, I could feel my game slowly coming together, my ball contact getting that much more crisp and my drives starting to find fairways.

The back nine on the Gold Course started similar to the front (double-triple-double-quad), but I was actually starting to drive the ball well. My chipping started to come around but putting was terrible, with three-putts on 10, 11, and 13. But all of a sudden, it was like a switch turned on. I played the final five holes bogey-par-par-bogey-bogey. On #14 I left a 5-iron short but chipped on and two-putted. On #15 – a massive 538 yard par 5 – I crushed a driver dead center followed by an equally-crushed 5-wood that left me only 114 yards to the green (do the math on that!). For once, I perfectly executed a 9-iron, leaving myself only 12 feet for birdie. I missed the putt but was happy for that green in regulation. On #16 I pushed my drive left and found myself in a low-lying area 171 yards from the pin. This time my 4-hybrid was hit on the screws, leaving me 20-feet for birdie – a shot that garnered not just healthy applause from my playing partners, but a low-five from the cart girl who drove all the way over from the other side of the green just to compliment my shot. Once again, I missed the birdie putt, but another par and green in regulation wasn’t too bad. The bogeys on #s 8 and 9 were rocking chair, allowing what had started off roughly to finish off smooth as silk.

You have rounds where the score doesn’t reflect the way you played one way or the other, and while today’s 115 might not look pretty, the significant thing was I was able to stop the bleeding left over from Thursday’s range session and allow me to regain some of the confidence I had lost. More than anything else, even with my score, today’s round was fun – it was enjoyable to play with good golfers and play at a decent pace on an exquisitely-beautiful golf course that I hope to play again. Even with all that water I enjoyed playing a course where you had to think your way around (not normally one of my strong suits); by and large I played strategically and kept the mental errors to a minimum.

It’s now time for a break. June is coming, and it promises to be a busy month around the house. I’ll probably not touch a club for a couple of weeks, which is a good thing – it’s sufficient to know from today’s round that I’m on the right path with my swing changes and just experienced an unfortunate detour into the abyss. That’s what makes golf so hard – you never know what’s going to creep into your game, and you can never say that you found “it” – at least someone of my talents and capabilities can’t. Not that there still aren’t problems – my short game and putting are just not up to snuff and I really don’t know what to about it at this point.

But I figure I’ll worry about that anew once I begin my Goodboys Invitational weekend prep come July.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 20:34 | Comments (0)

It’s going to be a beautiful weekend here in the Valley of Sun. If having our daily May norms running 10-20 degrees below normal is because of climate change (which, of course, it isn’t) all I can say is bring it on! To get to the last week in May and have only one day where my backyard patio thermometer hit 100 degrees is pretty remarkable. It won’t last, of course, but the coming week also looks to be running below normal. I’ll say this, it’s going to make our electric bill for this month pretty easy on the eyes.

It’s stuff like this that adds a needed dose of realism to everyone (most especially the pollsters) who live and breathe politics on a daily basis. You can predict and project about the 2020 election all you want, but eighteen months is a lifetime in politics. All these clowns and talking heads on the cable news networks can spew their daily bullshit all they want, but they can’t even predict what will happen in the next 24-48 hours, let alone eighteen months.

I find it all sickening.

The sad truth is that the so called cable “news” networks really aren’t about news anymore, they’re all about speculation and controversy, nothing more. FOX Business, I think, appears to do a pretty good job, by and large, but the rest of them are just feces for the mind.

…which is why I so despise reading about polls and the mainstream media using the polls as a means to run the 2020 horse race through continuous 24-hour news cycles. These people are shameless – like they did such a great job in 2016, right? And yet they publish their same crapola and have the cable news networks treat it as gospel.

I’m normally not one for conspiracy theories, but let me try this one out for y’all. While everyone knew that sooner or later President Trump was going to order the declassification of documents associated with the Russia collusion hoax and the “silent coup” that certain leaders of our nation’s intelligence community attempted against the president, the breadth of the President’s order the other day still amazes. Look at those departments and agencies instructed to participate in the declassification effort: Treasury, Defense, Energy, Homeland Security, Director of National Intelligence, and CIA, and I’m seeing the Obama administration in the crosshairs. Otherwise, why not just leave it at, say, DNI / FBI, and CIA? So here’s the scenario I’m thinking – bear with me on this:

1. Democrats and Republicans in Washington alike were well aware the Obama administration was up to its eyeballs in illegal spying (I’m sorry, I mean surveillance) on Americans – including many members of the press – for purely political reasons so as to undercut their political agenda. Sure, spying on innocent Americans with FISA warrants wasn’t new, but what the Obama administration was doing took things to a whole new level – especially since it involved surveillance of the opposition party’s political campaigns. (Note the plural – I’ll betcha what the Obama administration was doing will be found to involve not just the Trump campaign, but other GOP campaigns as well.)

2. Taking the above into account, the Democrats clown car show of two dozen extremist candidates was viewed by the political movers and shakers as necessary window dressing to enable ol’ Joe Biden to ride to the rescue as someone who would be seen as more centrist and therefore more acceptable to Democrat voters in the upper Midwest who would otherwise sit the 2020 election out or vote Trump instead of radicals likes of Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, and Buttigieg.

3. Unfortunately, Biden’s campaign kicked off with a big yawn. Not only did Biden look as if he’d aged 100 years, but his reappearance on the national scene served a reminder of just how dopey he could be and how much of a ticking timebomb his campaign was. Heck, even progressives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had unflattering things to say about the prospect of an old white centrist like Biden representing the Party’s interests against Donald Trump.

4. As a result, the Democratic party elite started sending out feelers behind the scenes to Michelle Obama to see if she’d be interested in running.

5. The President hears about this. In my conspiracy theory he was willing to leave the declassification of documents to that associated with the 2016 campaign and the Mueller report’s timeframe, but in order to preempt any ideas of Moochelle getting any crazy ideas, he decided to order the declassification of everything – not just to show how dirty Joe Biden and his son are (hence, the Department of Energy’s inclusion), but also to show just how dirty the Obama administration was.

Anyways, that’s my conspiracy theory, and I’m sticking to it.

More as the weekend moseys along.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 10:26 | Comments (0)
May 24, 2019

Target Handicap: 20.0
Location: Stonecreek Golf Club
Score: 53 + 55 = 108
MyScorecard.com Handicap: 27.2 / Change: (+0.1)

There is golf the way it should be played on a bright and sunny, unseasonably warm (i.e., not hot) Friday in May, and there’s golf the way it shouldn’t be played – in fact, avoided at all cost. One would think Friday would be a perfect day to get a little work in, close up shop early for the day, and go out and play 18 before you get past three o’clock in the afternoon and beat the rush hour drive home.

One would think.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen today, as I was paired with a couple of women who played as fast I like to, yet proceeded to slog through a 5 1/2 hour round behind three foursomes of hackers doing a bachelor party weekend. Not only did they suck, they fu**ed around all day and were friggin’ slow as molasses. How bad was it? When you arrive at a par 5 after a par 3 and find the foursome in front of you hadn’t even teed off yet. Needless to say, this didn’t help my disposition much, and none of us could really find a good rhythm in our games all day. The ranger? He was nowhere to be found after the third hole after he wished us all good morning and good luck out there. He knew what was going on and didn’t want anything to do with it.

I’m not going to make that an excuse for a horrible day golf-wise, because it’s been a while since I’ve felt so lost out there on a golf course. I literally had no idea where the ball was going to go at any given time, which is truly sad because until yesterday I was feeling pretty darned optimistic about the changes I’d been making with my swing.

Today’s problems actually started yesterday afternoon at the Superstition Springs driving range where, after last Friday’s round at Kokopelli, I thought I’d work on my driver to try and square up at address a little more to try and get rid of that loopy push-fade (is there such a thing?) that had me missing fairways at “the Koke”. I bought a small bucket and found my favorite spot at the far left side of the range where there’s a natural twenty-yard wide “fairway” between the 100-yard marker and a big hill separating the range from an electrical building and the first hole. I took a couple of practice swings, then hit my first drive, a towering infield fly rule ball that landed next to the 100-yard marker. I looked down to see my tee, decapitated just under the head, the stick standing there like some lone soldier in no man’s land.

I laughed, casually wiped the stick out of the way with my foot, and teed up another ball. The same thing happened. And again. And again. And again. A dozen times. I was perplexed, to say the least.

I reached into my bag and grabbed some tees, only to find that if I didn’t get this resolved – and pronto – I wouldn’t have any more tees. See, you have to understand that this predicament came clear out of the blue – The Great White Shank doesn’t hit tee balls like that. Oh, I’ll yank drives and push drives and skull drives, and even hit drives straight from time to time, but there are three things The Great White Shank seldom, if ever, does off the tee:

He doesn’t hook the ball.
He doesn’t slice the ball.
And he doesn’t hit 70-to-100 yard infield flies to first and second base.

I’ll admit, I started to get rattled. I took practice swings over and over, trying to feel my way out of this mess, to no avail. A half-hour later, the bucket was empty, I was out of tees, and the area I had been hitting was littered with tees, all decapitated in the same way. I really didn’t know what to do, so I went over to the chipping area and tried to clear my head. That turned out to be a disaster as well, because, no matter what I did every chip was sculled across the green.

I paused for a bit and tried to think things through. Clearly, I was out of sync in every way, and perhaps both the driver and my pitching wedge were responding in the only way they knew how. And knowing I had a tee time at a tough golf course in just eighteen hours filled me with a dread I hadn’t felt for a long time. I wasn’t mad, but I was certainly depressed to have this happen after all the friggin’ work I’d been putting in the last two months.

What to do? As soon as I got home I hit the computer and searched YouTube for “skying driver”. I found a British chap who told me that what I was doing was taking the club back outside the plane, thus causing the club to hit down on the ball when with the driver you should be hitting the ball on the upswing. All well and good, but my question was why. And maybe this was just like getting the shanks that appear from seemingly out of nowhere. All I knew is, all the positive feelings and thoughts of tempo and transition I had been working on were now out the window. I knew I wouldn’t have a whole lot of time on Friday morning to work this out on the driving range (and, frankly, when you’re getting ready to play a round of golf you shouldn’t be trying to “work” anything out – you should be getting ready to play), so it was going to be hope for the best and cope with the rest.

Friday morning came. I only had a chance to hit ten balls before my name was called to the first tee. The range was ugly – clearly, Thursday’s range session had eaten deep into my psyche. I was so all over the place, I couldn’t remember the last time I headed to the first tee so lacking in confidence. I told myself to just try and slow everything down and deal with whatever happened from there. Any thought of shooting any kind of score was out the window, this was going to be survival golf.

Strangely enough, my opening drive was pure, straight down the middle. Followed by a crushed 5-iron that left me twelve feet for birdie. How about that: a green in regulation! A two-putt for par, and I was hopeful that maybe this was something I could build on. But that feeling evaporated quickly on #2 with an infield fly to third base (unfortunately, third base being OB on the other side of the net separating #2 fairway from the driving range) and a yanked mulligan into the pond right. Great, I’m thinking, now I have a two-way miss to deal with.

And that’s the way the front nine went. I could feel my irons starting to get away from me – a shanked 5-iron on #3, a ballooned drive left on #4 with a 3-putt for double bogey. On the par 3 #5 I saved bogey after chunking a 5-iron off the tee with a dandy pitch to three feet (missed the putt, something I would replicate several times from the same distance going forward). The infield fly came back on the #6 tee, landing in a waste area that took two tries to get out of before I dunked a 8-iron from 120 into the pond right (quad bogey). After hitting a good drive on the par 5 #7 I pushed my 5-wood way left but recovered sufficiently to three-putt from ten feet for double bogey.

…you get the picture.

The back nine was the same, except that I was now so uncertain as to where anything was going I could barely function. And if I happened to get on a green in somewhat decent shape, ol’ mister three-wiggle would rear his ugly head. I missed so many three-footers that I just gave up even thinking I was going to make anything. Compounding the misery was having to wait ten minutes on every friggin’ tee box before you could even hit. Even the ladies I was playing with were checking their watches – they obviously had places to go and better things to do.

And then, finally, came the par 4 #18. Not only did I hit a perfect drive off the tee (I marked it at 220 yards), I followed it up with an equally-perfect 5-wood that landed on the green, albeit thirty feet away from a pin tucked way back. Good first putt to three feet, missed the par, made bogey and actually felt like I played the hole well. That made it two well-played holes – #1 and #18. In between? A mess.

The final numbers were ugly: two greens in regulation, four fairways hit, ten lost balls, and 38 putts for a round of survival double-bogey golf. Geesh, I should just mail in my scores. All the work I’ve put in, and I’ve made no progress whatsoever. In fact, I’d call it a step backwards. And tomorrow I’ve got a very tough course waiting for me with lots of water to boot.

This is most certainly not the way I planned things to go. And to think, just last week I was complaining about that fade that was causing me to miss fairways right. I’d kill for that swing right now. And, while it’s most certainly not at the top of my list of concerns, I’ve got to do something about my putting – I don’t know why, but it’s terrible right now.

I think after tomorrow I’m going to take a nice, long vacation from my clubs. They deserve better.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 20:47 | Comments (0)
May 22, 2019

So we’ve got our plan for surfacing the pool deck area in place, now it’s just a matter of when and the contractor has availability. But, anticipating the arrival of summer heat (something that hasn’t really happened yet, unbelievably!) I wanted to get the patio painted and the new pineapple and flamingo lights strung up. The old pineapple lights had lasted for a good long time (at least a good seven years or more), but the combination of heat and dry was starting to make them look faded and ratty. Clearly, it was time for a change.

Enter the good folks at ChristmasLightsEtc.com.

I liked the pineapple lights I had strung up on the patio previously and ChristmasLightsEtc. had them, but it was when I saw the pink flamingo lights that I knew I had hit paydirt. The nice green cactus just beyond the patio with the pink flamingo lights just ooze color and whimsy, don’t they?

After the pool deck is completed, right behind the cactus where a tiki now stands we’re going to have a firepit put in. It won’t be huge (4 1/2 feel ought to be perfect) and it will be wood-burning – perfect for those cool nights during the holiday season.

Once the pool deck and firepit are installed I think that will be it for the back yard, at least as far as the back yard is concerned. We’ve worked hard to make the back area a sort of mini-resort, and I can’t wait to show y’all what it will look like when we’re done.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 20:41 | Comments (0)
May 17, 2019

Target Handicap: 20.0
Location: Kokopelli Golf Club
Score: 53 + 56 = 109
MyScorecard.com Handicap: 27.1 / Change: (-0.1)

Even though it’s just a quick 10-minute hop up the street from me I hadn’t played Kokopelli Golf Club in, like years. Primarily because (regardless of what the website makes it look like) there really isn’t anything scenic about Kokopelli, given that it winds its way through the El Dorado Lakes subdivision and is bounded on two sides by major roads – the east/west Guadalupe Road splitting the course in two. What I had never really realized about Kokopelli is its fairly ample 129 slope rating, putting it amongst the top five toughest (if you consider slope to be a weighing factor of a course’s difficulty) courses I’ve ever played since I began tracking my scores at MyScorecard.com almost seven years ago.

It makes me wonder, because after reacquainting myself with Kokopelli on an unusually cool (80 degrees in May??) day, I consider both Stonecreek Golf Course (128 from the gold tees) and Superstition Springs Golf Course (120 from the green tees) far greater tests – at least as far as The Great White Shank’s golf game is concerned. I’m sure Kokopelli’s tight fairways and typically dry conditions which create a ton of roll off the fairways on drives with any kind of sideways roll, and the number of greens which slope back to front (I can speak from personal experience that you don’t want to be above the holes at Kokopelli) contribute to the slope, but, again, I find both Stonecreek and “the Springs” far sterner tests.

Sure, it would be easy for someone to call Kokopelli’s slope contributory, but in all honesty I feel it wasn’t. Sure, there were a few tough holes out there (the par 4 #4, par 5 #14, and par 5 #18 are all pretty tight off the tee, but the holes themselves weren’t that bad (even though I played the three holes 10-over) – I just made poor decisions after getting off the tee OK and then screwed the pooch. Truth be told, I think this was my best round of the year at least as far as ball-striking is concerned – I counted only two fat hits all day. Unfortunately, as has been the case since I started my 2019 season a month ago, there was some very sloppy golf played out there, and sloppy golf equals double-bogey +1 golf.

My goal today was simply to play aggressively, hit the ball hard, and keep hitting it hard no matter where it ended up going. I had decided to jettison the whole idea of easy 3/4 swings with my irons and my upright takeaway a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve really worked hard at the range on flattening my take-away and making as full a turn as I’m comfortable with while still staying in control. The driver is still a work in progress, but I’ve found my irons going longer and straighter – most especially when I succeed in hitting the ball flush – something I did on numerous occasions today.

The problems today were myriad – on the front nine I had no distance control with my short irons and found myself long and off the green and above the pin on virtually every hole. And zero touch with my short game. Hey, when you make a one-putt for a double-bogey six as I did on the par 4 #4 you know that there were problems getting it to the green. And when I did get myself on the green and in decent shape, I’d three-putt the green as I did on the par 3 #6 and the par 4 #11.

The numbers don’t lie when your card is marked as no pars and only six bogeys all day. Three fairways hit, and a ghastly 35 putts. The numbers don’t lie when you make a triple bogey and two quad bogeys over the last five holes. But I’m not going to blame course difficulty on what happened on those holes because it was all just stupid golf. On the par 3 #14 my 6-iron dropped short of the tee. Thinking it was just on grass, I grabbed my pitching wedge and putter, only to find that my ball had rolled into a deep bunker that I hadn’t seen from the tee. Too lazy to walk all the way back to the cart for my 60-degree wedge, I tried hitting a very-open face pitching wedge, caught it too clean and hit it OB. Chip back on and two-putt for an ugly triple-bogey six after a decent hit off the tee.

I didn’t hit the fairway on the tight par 5 #15, but I was in a good spot just off it. I duffed a 5-wood off the hard pan to get to 200 yards out with a stiff wind in our faces. Were it not for the wind, I probably would have hit 5-iron just short of the green, chip on and at worst two-putt for a bogey six. Instead, I grabbed my 5-wood again and, from a perfect lie in the fairway hit a huge push way left of the green in no-man’s land. Tried to get cute with a pitching wedge from an impossible lie, duffed it into deep casual water, then flew the green with another pitching wedge, duffed my chip and two-putted for my quad.

Similarly ugly was the par 5 #18. I hit a decent drive off the tee that just missed the fairway left, but made the mental mistake of pulling a 5-wood off a bony lie when a 5-iron kicked out long and right would have been the better decision given all the water along the left side. I pushed the 5-wood OB left, then, with my drop, tried to play the hero shot with a 6-iron over the water. Instead I duffed the 6 (only my second truly poorly hit iron of the day) into the water, then, mistaking my 8-iron for my pitching wedge, went long and left into the water behind the green. A lovely chip to a foot, and I saved yet another quintuple bogey.

I guess you could call the day what has become typical Great White Shank golf. It’s a little infuriating to me that my short game is so poor right now, but I like the way I’m hitting the ball. I had a lot of fun out there taking my full swings and working on compressing the ball, which is what I was trying to do. My driver remains a bit of a work in progress (although I’m much further along than I was, say, my last time out at Trilogy Power Ranch). My iron play was much more solid today, but there’s room for improvement there as well. With a little more work and convinced that my short game is bound to come around, I’m looking forward to playing two very tough courses next weekend while the twins are in San Diego – Stonecreek, a true second-shot course, and Ocotillo, with water water everywhere. It will be a stern test for my game, but, today’s score aside, I like where I’m trying to take my game right now and believe it’s all going to come around, and soon.

If you build it, the scores will come. And the numbers won’t lie then, either.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 21:35 | Comments (0)
May 15, 2019

With a big nod to Amazon Music and the freedom of virtually unlimited storage for playlists available on Tracey’s iPad, I finished creating for her a new “Flower Power” playlist that eliminates all the CDs I burned for her several years ago.

The problem with all this new technology is that there is literally no limit anymore to the number of songs you can build around a playlist – it’s literally thousands. As are the number of digital selections available for download on Amazon, so I wanted to be smart when building Tracey’s initial playlist, figuring we can always add more songs as she finds artists she wants to hear more from. So the rules I set up were as follows: (1) no songs earlier than 1965 and none later than 1972, and (2) they had to be songs that Tracey would actually want to listen to – for example, “In A Gadda Da Vida” by Iron Butterfly certainly qualifies as a song from the FP era, but there was no way Tracey would ever submit her ears to what is (to be perfectly frank), a crappy song that exemplifies only the worst self-indulgence of the era.

…if I didn’t like it, well, that’s a whole ‘nutha thing – it wasn’t my playlist, after all.

We ended up with more than 325 songs with a 16-hour listening period – perfect for her and Tammy to blast at eardrum-shattering levels while they’re road tripping to San Diego for their collective birthday celebration (there’s no point in telling you how old the twins are turning; let it just be said that everyone’s getting friggin’ old).

…which, BTW, is kind of interesting about the music on the FP playlist – the twins were way too young to even appreciate the social forces that molded and shaped the music of the era; heck, by the time they would have started listening to Top 40 radio, the “Flower Power” era had turned to dust, and disco, soul, early punk, and milquetoast one-hit wonders of the ’70s were standard fare.

But there’s no doubt that the music of the “Flower Power” era had more than just its moments – it was memorable music and a genre that truly reflected the era from which it came: an era of rejection of the status quo, Vietnam, Watergate, anti-war demonstrations, college unrest, and free love and free speech.

(Ed. note: ironic, then, isn’t it, that the same liberals who were all about free speech in the ’60s and ’70s are now, by and large, the leaders of our colleges and universities and doing whatever they can to stamp out speech and expression they disagree with. But that’s a topic for another day.)

More interestingly – at least to me – is all the psychedelic stuff that was, by and large, all crafted prior to the wide use of the Moog synthesizer, which forced studio engineers and producers to create sounds with all sorts of analog tape effects and studio tricks that you can now do with the flip of a switch on a keyboard. You listen to a couple of songs that didn’t make my Top Ten (for example, Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky” and the Lemon Pipers’ “Green Tambourine”) and realize that these very cool “period pieces” were all done with conventional instruments.

One final word: while there isn’t a whole lot of Beatles presence in this Top Ten, their influence on the spirit, culture, and sounds of the times cannot be overexaggerated. Think about it: four of, arguably, the greatest albums in pop music history – and I’m talking TRUE top ten / top fifteen) were produced in this era: Rubber Soul, Revolver (in my mind the greatest rock album ever produced), Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (not a great album in my view, but it had an incalculable impact on the era and beyond), and Abbey Road. Without The Beatles, there would simply be no “flower power” era as we know it today.

OK, enough of the prelims, let’s get on to the music. You may agree or disagree with my choices, but you won’t be able to deny that these are all pretty friggin’ great tunes.

10. Eve of Destruction – Barry McGuire. Sure, it came out in 1965, but there’s no way any music collection called “Flower Power” could be considered complete without this protest song whose sentiments still ring true today. There’s no Dylan in this top ten list, but the pissed off attitude towards racism, hypocrisy, and social injustice contained in “Eve” would not be misplaced on any of Dylan’s mid-60s output. Even Dylan would probably admit that lyrics (by P.F. Sloan) seldom got better (or more timely) than this:

Think of all the hate there is in Red China
Then take a look around to Selma, Alabama
Ah, you may leave here for four days in space
But when you return it’s the same old place
The poundin’ of the drums, the pride and disgrace
You can bury your dead but don’t leave a trace
Hate your next door neighbor but don’t forget to say grace
And you tell me over and over and over and over again my friend
Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction

The interesting story about this particular song is that McGuire’s vocal (backed by members of LA’s legendary “Wrecking Crew”) was just a throw-away while attempting to get familiar with the tune, but the tape from the session was given to a local DJ who immediately put it on his playlist and the song took off.

9. White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane. San Francisco. The “Summer of Love” Surrealistic Pillow. You think “The Sixties”, this song has gotta be on that playlist. It’s a short but very clean recording, breathtakingly powerful in the way it gradually builds to its inevitable climax. No one makes music like that today.

8. Hey Jude / Revolution. Sure, I could have gone with “Strawberry Fields Forever” / “Penny Lane”, because The Beatles sure knew how to create “Double A side” singles. I’m choosing “Hey Jude” and “Revolution” because it illustrates just how versatile, and just how damned good a band they were. I’ve always considered “Jude” to be the Sistine Chapel of rock and roll – musically, everything seemed black and white until the day I first heard it on the radio, and I still remember where I was and what I was doing when I heard it that very first time. “Revolution” is not just gritty and cynical, it also dares to ask the question to those who would want to tear down the establishment what exactly they would replace it with. So pure Lennon. The opening, with Lennon’s fuzz guitar and McCartney’s scream, is worth the price of admission alone.

7. Aquarius / Let The Sunshine In – The Fifth Dimension. I mean, how “Sixties” can you get, right? I don’t think it’s a particularly great song, but the instrumental backing (again provided by the “Wrecking Crew”) is pretty friggin’ awesome – most especially on “Let The Sunshine In”. Like Donovan’s “Atlantis”, The Youngbloods’ “Get Together”, and The Byrds’ “Eight Miles High” the song sure captures the spirit of the times, doesn’t it? Hence its inclusion.

6. Gimme Shelter – The Rolling Stones. You can’t recall the music of the FP era without forgetting what happened at Altamont just a few months after Woodstock. “Gimme Shelter” (the title song for the movie about the Stones’ tour that year), is a spooky, paranoid example of the dark side of the FP era and its growing excesses in a variety of forms. It’s aural equivalent is The Doors’ “End of the Night”.

5. Woodstock – Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Another overly-idealistic anthem to the era, but it’s a great song, nonetheless. Musically it’s a very tight recording with the bass and drums doing some very intricate rhythm throughout. And the album it came from, “Deja Vu” is a must-have for Sixties music enthusiasts. It’s a classic.

4. Time Has Come Today – The Chambers Brothers. Quite simply (at least in my view), the most exquisite example of psychedelic rock and a Great White Shank “top 10” life song if there ever was one. Legend is that the song in its longest version was recorded in a single tape with no overdubs. Not sure I believe that, but it’s an awesome aural experience with headphones – give it a try but make sure you have the volume up so you can appreciate the sounds shifting back and forth between your ears. The song has everything but the kitchen sink – backward effects, the fuzziest fuzz guitar, a honkin’ harmonica buried deep in the mix, all dripped in echo like you wouldn’t believe. I still remember my mom telling me how much she hated the song – she said it reminded her of giving birth. Funny, that made me love the song that much more.

3. For What It’s Worth – Buffalo Springfield. Like “Gimme Shelter”, this song also has a spooky, paranoid vibe that permeates the grooves. Lots of folks immediately associate the song with Vietnam War protests, but it was actually inspired by the Sunset Strip curfew riots that took place way back in 1966.

2. San Francisco – Scott MacKenzie. The happy “peace and love” absolute idealism of the FP era distilled into its purest form. Of course it was all bullshit – none other than George Harrison would report back to his band mates about the horribly lost and drug-induced teens he found by the hundreds during his visit to San Francisco during the “Summer of Love”. But it’s still a rather nice, nostalgic tune – one that would have been my choice for #1 had things not taken a darker turn.

1. Ohio – Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Consider this the flip side to Scott MacKenzie’s “flower power” opus. By 1970, the innocent peace and love of the San Francisco movement had turned dark and ominous. The Manson murders by a bunch of lost, disillusioned, and spaced-out hippies had shaken the country, and on college campuses it was “Student Demonstration Time” with Vietnam War protests seemingly everywhere. Needless to say, the Kent State shootings were the beginning of the end of the “flower power” movement. Within a couple of years, Jimi Hendrix, Duane Allman, Alan Wilson (Canned Heat), Jim Morrison, and Janis Joplin would all be dead. But few songs have ever communicated anger and rage against “the establishment” as effectively as “Ohio”. Nearly 40 years later, it remains the standard for protest songs, with anger and resentment oozing from the very first grungy guitar lick and Neil Young’s vocal. The fade-out alone with the call-and-answer make it the ultimate protest song from beginning to end.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 22:57 | Comments (3)

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