March 18, 2015

Another week, another round of dirt and rock displacement – this time in the backyard to replace our ancient watering system with better material and a more logical configuration. And while the cost was about what you would expect for the kind of work that was done – just a hair above $1,700 – the whole effort went amazingly fast.

The first step was to make damned sure the guys understood what I was looking for – something that was real basic and straight-forward: two main lines, one for the queen and date palms, one for all the other flora and fauna. The lines placed in a way that they’d be easily identified (i.e., running along the cement walls as much as possible) to make future troubleshooting (hopefully, the next occupant!) easier, with spaghetti lines running out to each and every tree and bush. No more main lines spread all over the place. No more trees sharing multiple valve stations. And, most importantly, no more water wasted in areas that didn’t need it.

Considering the task at hand I was pretty surprised at how quickly it all went: two guys, one with a pickaxe, one with a shovel, working their way from the main valves out, starting from the left and gradually working their way around to the right and around the back to the side yard. And the foreman/supervisor following up, pulling the old stuff up. In the better part of two hours they had unearthed the entire system, covered the old areas with the original dirt and rock, and had started a new trench running at the base of the wall all around.

They found the leak quickly enough, by the bend in the swimming pool patio deck. Nothing serious, just age and (once again) the settling of ground pulling an underground (and heretofore unknown) spaghetti line away from one of the main lines.

Within another hour they had laid the new main lines down and connected them to the main valves. A quick test to make sure the main lines were intact and not leaking, and the next step was to connect the smaller “spaghetti” lines to each bush and tree to its respective line. Another check of station five (the palms) and station six (everything else) to make sure the emitters were working without leaks, and while one guy covered up the trench the other was washing down everything.

And that was that. Backyard watering system issues a thing of the past, a credit card a little more bloated, and everyone happy.

After settling the bill I talked with the head honcho about next steps. We walked the front yard and peeked under the tarp covering the area of the driveway needing cement. He could already see the difference my watering had done on the dirt racing stripe running across our front lawn and thought another two weeks of watering would be sufficient to get everything ready for the final visit. The goal is to have everything done by April 15. Which reminds me, time to get scooting on our taxes prep!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:12 | Comments (0)
March 17, 2015

This will be a pretty busy St. Pat’s Day here at the Gilbert hacienda. Landscapers moving to and fro, rocks and dirt flying all over the place while my leaky backyard watering system is replaced and hopefully upgraded. I’ll have a corned beef and cabbage dinner on the stove top, and I guarantee a cold and frost Sam Adams Boston Lager (or two) will be waiting for me at the end of the day to enjoy along with it. A couple of tunes to celebrate the day, Beatles solo years style.

Hard to remember that Paul McCartney (oops, excuse me, “Sir” Paul McCartney) could really rock hard when he wanted to. I seem to remember getting the 45 RPM and it was on green vinyl. Ah, those were the days!

And this tune by John Lennon shows the dude could really write some pretty melodies when the occasion arose. Yoko tries to ruin it but it just shows you can’t keep a good tune no matter how hard you try.

…oh, I’m sorry. You wanted a version from a safe, Yoko-free zone? Here you go. Actually, both versions are pretty damned good.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day from all the Goodboys and Goodboys Nation weblog!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:59 | Comments (0)
March 14, 2015

A few thoughts on a Pi Saturday weekend busy with taxes coming in April and the landscapers coming to rip the backyard up on Tuesday:

So Tiger Woods begs out of Bay Hill and Arnie’s tournament. I think it’s time to start wondering if Woods’ heart is really into playing golf at this time in his life. The longer you stay away the harder it is to immerse yourself back in it.

Example #1,293 of the Obamas playing the American taxpayers for fools.

This may be true, but I like the stylings of the ’59 car better.

The noose is closing around Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation’s “pay for play” shenanigans. I wonder why the media has finally gotten on her case – might they know there’s a bigger shoe soon to drop?

I don’t understand this story, isn’t that why the Church has cardinals?

This kind of thing tells you what kind of a society we live in. I’ve donated, please consider donating as well.

Perhaps the UCI college students who hate the American flag so much would be happier somewhere else. Might I suggest Mexico or Syria?

You want to make a deal with Iran on nuclear weapons? Go for it. But when you start coming after our barbecues the jig is up.

I really like this Jimmy Buffett / Alan Jackson tune.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:06 | Comments (0)
March 13, 2015

I can’t remember the date we had our front yard torn up for our sewer line replacement (I suppose I could check this blog) but frankly, at this point it sure feels like forever. The good news is that the piles of dirt are gone; the bad news is that (from what I’m told) there’s still some settling to be done, and the landscaper guy who’s going to replace the front watering system that was torn to smithereens (for a cool $2,400) told me to buy a sprinkler and water all the dirt areas twice a week to encourage settling. And to wait a month.

I’m sure glad none of my neighbors saw me setting that damned sprinkler up. I got soaked just trying to get it just so, and the dirt becomes clay-like as soon as it gets wet which caked my good sneakers in mud. I don’t know about you, but I hate getting blasted in the kisser with a stream of water (twice!), but there’s really no good way to get a sprinkler working the way you want it and covering the area you need. Or maybe there is and I just haven’t heard of it.

As you can see, the area still looks like a construction site, and the dirt in the driveway has led to the garage, which in turn has found its way inside the house. I’m sick of dirt. If I had my way, I’d pave the whole damned thing over with asphalt and see how the HOA would like that! Oh, and the guy who was going to do my driveway cement work for $200 less than the $700 the landscaper quoted won’t return my calls, so I guess that’s gone the way of the kiwi. Which is OK – when you’re in for the better part of ten Gs what’s two hundred dollars between friends as long as the work gets done right and reliably?

I keep telling myself that in three months this will all be like a dream – you won’t even be able to tell anything happened out front; and in six months the 0% interest credit card debt will (hopefully!) be a thing of the past, but right now all I can’t see the end game. It eludes me, much like the truth eludes Hillary Clinton. But don’t get me started on that.

Anyways, it’s not as if me and the landscaping company are going to be strangers – next Tuesday they’re coming to rip the antiquated (and leaking) watering system in the back yard and upgrade it with new piping and emitters. Another $1,800 on that 0% credit card, but when you’ve gotten in as deep as we have at this point it’s just money. And unlike with the front it’s not going to be a huge mess – I’ve seen these guys work before when they laid down our landscaping lights; by the time the work was done you would have never known the place was ripped up.

More pics to follow, I’m sure.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:26 | Comments (0)
March 12, 2015

Unless you’ve been living under a rock – and if you have and can still get this blog you must have some kind of Internet access – y’all know about Hillary Clinton’s latest woes: that while Secretary of State the Clinton Foundation took millions upon millions of dollars from foreign countries, not all of them friendly to the whole concept of women’s rights, and that while Secretary of State she eschewed the use of secure government e-mail and instead did all e-mailing via her own e-mail server and domain. Now everyone and everything is about the minutiae of politics and legalities: did she break any laws, statutes, regulations, etc? Is she still the presumed frontrunner for the Democratic nomination? Does this hurt her politically? If so, how much?

My take on this: Is anyone really surprised at any of this? Does a leopard change its spots?

Hillary Clinton has been who she is from the moment she hitched herself to Bill Clinton’s coattails decades ago. She is, and has been from the very beginning of her national political life, a smarmy, sneering, in-your-face, know it all phony elitist. From the very moment her husband Bill became a Presidential candidate and his personal foibles became public she’s played an equal role in distancing Clinton, Inc. from public scrutiny and accountability (and some might say, reality). The darling of the liberal media, she hates the media with a passion. Immersed in politics, she despises the rough and tumble of the political arena and – many would say – is a lousy politician. Think about it: is there anyone out there who truly thinks if her last name was Smith she’d be sniffing the Democratic nomination for President? Of course not.

More than anything else, in the words of legendary New York Times columnist William Safire, Hillary is a congenital liar who from the very beginning has played fast and loose with the truth. She’s always seen herself as above those silly standards and ethics expected to be practiced by you and me. And she gives “disingenuous” a whole new meaning: her trumpeting of herself as the standard bearer of women’s rights is a joke, a cynical and calculated persona designed to get her into the White House so far removed from her own record as to be breathtaking in its scope. Taking money from foreign countries with abysmal women’s rights records, defending rapists, attacking her husband’s accusers with vigor, and paying and placing women in the Clinton Foundation less than men – it’s all a façade.

Of course, Democrats love her and will go to the hilt for her, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone – after all, they’ve wildly supported a President who has played pretty fast and loose with the rule of law himself – it’s all about power and keeping it in the White House. But I have to wonder exactly what Hillary’s chances are. I mean, she’ll get the liberal vote, but how much more than that? Look at 2008 when she was in the same position as the de facto nominee: she ran a lousy campaign, was viewed as a lousy candidate, shrill to the point of obnoxious, aloof, and unlikeable. Sure, Barack Obama ran a solid campaign against her, but what’s to stop the same thing from happening in 2016? Who knew about Barack Obama at this time in 2007?

The one given about Hillary is that the more you see her the more she’s diminished as a viable candidate. And the latest scandals surrounding her ought to serve as a warning sign to Democrats. Do they really want to hitch their wagon to someone so completely divorced from any measure of ethical standard, so divorced from reality that she thinks people will buy her laughable excuses for having all her e-mail as Secretary of State on her own e-mail server? That there was no risk to our national security? That she can be trusted to decide which e-mails belong to the State Department and which ones can be destroyed without an independent arbiter? Are you kidding me?

The fact that Hillary Clinton is utterly void of personal integrity doesn’t disqualify her for the Presidency; the fact that she willingly and recklessly put her own personal interests above the nation’s security most certainly does. But I don’t expect that to bother Democrats a bit – after all, they put Barack Obama back in the White House. Twice. The difference is, Hillary Clinton is no Barack Obama, and Democrats ought to think carefully about if this is who they truly want carrying their banner into 2016.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:08 | Comments (2)
March 11, 2015

One of my all-time favorite juxtapositioning of film and music together is the end of Kill Bill Vol. 2 where Uma Thurman is driving down the road in glorious noir to the mesmerizing beat of Shivaree’s iconic tune “Goodnight Moon”. It’s one of those songs that, for whatever reason, really grabbed me the first time I heard it as something truly unique.

I’m still trying to figure out exactly what genre it fits in. I wouldn’t call it pop. I suppose you could call it alternative, but it would stick out like a sore thumb placed next to just about any alternative band mix. I personally think it has surf undertones, but it sure wouldn’t fit on a modern surf collection. Between the funky instrumentation (love the bass line!) and the background vocals it’s got this creepy vibe, and I agree with a YouTube commenter who described Ambrosia Parsley’s lead vocal as something skin to “liquid sex”.

And as someone who loves creative and unusual lyrics, it’s hard to find anything that matches these:

There’s a nail in the door and there’s glass on the lawn
Tacks on the floor and the TV is on
And I always sleep with my guns when you’re gone

There’s a blade by the bed and a phone in my hand
A dog on the floor and some cash on the nightstand
When I’m all alone the dreaming stops and I just can’t stand

What should I do just a little baby
What if the lights go out and maybe
And then the wind just starts to moan
Outside the door he followed me home

Well goodnight moon I want the sun
If it’s not here soon I might be done
No it won’t be too soon ’til I say, Goodnight moon

There’s a shark in the pool and a witch in the tree
A crazy old neighbor and he’s been watching me
And there’s footsteps loud and strong coming down the hall

Something’s under the bed now it’s out in the hedge
There’s a big black crow sitting on my window ledge
And I hear something scratching through the wall

Oh what should I do just a little baby
What if the lights go out and maybe
I just hate to be all alone
Outside the door he followed me home

Now goodnight moon I want the sun
If it’s not here soon I might be done
No it won’t be too soon ’til I say, Goodnight moon

Well you’re up so high, how can you save me?
When the dark comes here tonight to take me up
The mouth from woke and into bed
Where it kisses my face eats my hand

Oh what should I do just a little baby
What if the lights go out and maybe
And then the wind just starts to moan
Outside the door he followed me home

Now goodnight moon I want the sun
If it’s not here soon I might be done
No it won’t be too soon ’til I say, Goodnight moon
No it won’t be too soon ’til I say, Goodnight moon

Shark in the pool. Witch in the tree. Pretty cool. If for some reason you haven’t heard it give it a good listen. I think it’s a great tune.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:42 | Comments (0)
March 10, 2015

Like clockwork, the Goodboys equivalent of Groundhog Day occurs right around the beginning of March, give or take a week or two or even three. Some Goodboy, stirring from an alcohol- or cabin fever-induced stupor, drops an e-mail to the Nation and inboxes everywhere suddenly explode with a flurry of activity.

It’s never the same person, but the e-mail inevitably follows a similar theme or vein: “Hey EXEC-COMM! Who’s my partner? Where are we staying? Where are we playing? How much will it cost?” Etc. Etc. You get the picture. This year it was “2 Times” Proctor who started stirring the pot and you can tell from the kind of winter they’ve been having in Massachusetts that it was welcome indeed.

I think of all the responses I’ve seen it was “Cubby” Myerow who waxed most eloquently from his hacienda in the historic city of Salem:

Seeing the snow around the statue of Elizabeth Montgomery
in downtown Salem tells me the snow may be here for a while.

But, being able to walk downtown on a 40 degree Sunday,
“daylight savings time”, watching golf on TV,
seeing Rory McIlroy throw his club into the pond and Harrison
Ford taking out a big divot on a golf course with his plane,
lets me know that Goodboy’s weekend is not too far away.

Well done, Cubby – that’s about as poetic as any Goodboy can get. You rock.

Filed in: Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 01:38 | Comment (1)
March 9, 2015

Interesting column in Thursday’s Washington Post about the golf industry and the headwinds confronting its ability to grow and thrive in the future. Coming off of a trip to Vegas where I played (or, rather, attempted to play is more like it) a Jack Nicklaus course, I had to laugh when I read this quote from the Golden Bear himself:

“I’d like to play a game that can take place in three hours,” Nicklaus told CNN in January. “I’d quite like to play a game that I can get some reasonable gratification out of very quickly — and something that is not going to cost me an arm and a leg.”

Really, Jack? You want to play eighteen holes in three hours on a course where you not only have forced carries on most of the holes you yourself designed, but greens protected with tight approaches and sand traps on most sides as if they were mini-fortresses? And forget about walking the course – most holes feature lengthy cart drives between them. Is that an environment conducive to a three-hour round? Is that a way to attract new golfers? Is that the way to grow the game? Hardly.

Now I’ll readily admit, it was stupid of me to try and play from tees that lengthened the course to 6,600 yards (I could have played from the 6,000 yard tees), but still, I resent being forced to fly the ball to every green if I haven’t placed it absolutely perfectly in a spot that would enable me to run it up if I so wish. (A number of holes we played at Primm Valley also come to mind: on more than a few holes the fairways actually slanted down into hazards and ponds without any kind of protective rough, meaning you could hit a ball to the middle of the fairway and still end up losing a ball. To me that’s just ridiculous.)

Of course, that’s not golf’s only problem. The game can be difficult to learn and it’s something you’ll never master, making it difficult for a culture steeped in immediate gratification to attract new devotees. And it’s a game you have to keep working at – I mean, I love just going out and hitting balls just for the sake of it, but I doubt most people feel the way I do. There’s also the emphasis on new and incredibly expensive equipment. And the cost of playing golf can be prohibitive: here in the Valley of the Sun eighteen holes during the high season can run you anywhere from $80 to $120 (Jack’s course cost $116 to play, BTW), and that’s for average courses, not your resorts or top-of-the line courses than can cost double that. And Jack’s dream of a three-hour round is a joke: anyone who has ever played Superstition Springs or Kokopelli (two decent courses near my house) know if you’re going out there on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday you’re looking at a round of five if not six hours.

I’m not sure what the answer is, and I don’t think too many in the industry know either. But I doubt much of what goes for American golf these days is what the Scots had in mind when they created the game. The best courses I have ever played and enjoyed allowed for multiple ways to get the job done – which is, to get that little round ball in that hole in as few shots as possible. The secret isn’t bigger cups, nor is it a dumbing down of the game. The secret is to design courses that are playable for a wide range of players, and for Jack Nicklaus – of all people – to bemoan golf’s decline when his courses are designed with only low handicappers in mind is a good example of what’s wrong with the sport today.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 02:59 | Comment (1)
March 6, 2015

OK, who wants to watch Paula Creamer sink a 75-foot putt in stiletto heels? I sure as hell would!

You wanna know why most football fans who don’t root for the New England Patriots hate Tom Brady’s guts? They’re jealous.

At least if the LPGA’s Mirim Lee had three-putted she’d have an excuse.

Got this today in an e-mail from my folks, called “Fifty Shades of Golf” It’s pretty funny:

Four guys have been going to the same golfing trip to St Andrews for many years. Two days before the group is to leave, Jack’s wife puts her foot down and tells him he isn’t going. Jack’s mates are very upset that he can’t go, but what can they do?

Two days later, the three get to St Andrews only to find Jack sitting at the bar with four drinks set up!

“Wow, Jack, how long you been here, and how did you talk your misses into letting you go?”

“Well, I’ve been here since last night. You see, yesterday evening, I was sitting in my living room chair and my wife came up behind me and put her hands over my eyes and asked, ‘Guess who?” I pulled her hands off, and there she was, wearing a very sexy little nightie. She took my hand and pulled me into our bedroom. The room had candles and rose petals all over. Well she’s been reading ‘50 Shades of Grey’. On the bed she had handcuffs, and ropes! She told me to tie her up and cuff her to the bed, so I did. And then she said, “Do whatever you want.”

So, here I am!

Have a great weekend, y’all…

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 02:57 | Comments (0)
March 4, 2015

It’s been a couple of days wrestling with car trouble and trips between the house and Firestone and Enterprise Rent a Car (transmission line leaking fluid) that added another $370 in costs to our overall debt, but at least that’s finally fixed. Tomorrow the landscaping guys come to estimate the repairs needed to our watering systems in both front and back, and, well, you get the point – while a Vegas weekend makes for a much-needed escape from reality, reality is always waiting to bite you in the a$$ upon your return.

But our Vegas weekend provided a much-needed break from sans reality. The “Friday Night in Vegas Presented by The Great White Shank” was a rousing success: a champagne reception at The Palazzo’s Laguna Champagne Bar got the proceedings off to a bubbly start, the meal we had Buddy V’s Ristorante was quite good, and Bob Anderson’s “FRANK The Man. The Music.” show at the Palazzo was excellent. Hearing a 32-piece orchestra live was positively thrilling. Anderson had Frank’s persona, mannerisms and vocal stylings down flat, but I thought he sounded more like Tony Bennett than The Chairman of the Board at times – hey, you be the judge. Following that, a walk over to Wynn and an outside-under-the-stars nitecap at the Parasol Down bar provided a perfect end to a “Ring a-Ding Ding” evening: when the night’s not too cool and a soft breeze is blowing it’s the stuff happy memories are made of.

Saturday was a day for golfing at Primm Valley. The day started off cool with more clouds than sun, but it soon turned sunny and breezy – something both of my Goodboys friends from snow-bound Massachusetts certainly appreciated. The golf was great (my swing change showing good progress but not quite there yet – more on that in a future post). Afterwards it was back to The Venetian and The Canyon Ranch Spa for a relaxing post-round whirlpool and sauna. We gathered at Delmonico’s for pre-dinner cocktails (if you love classic cocktails perfectly made there’s no place like it!) before heading off to one of our favorite haunts, The Peppermill, for steak and eggs in the restaurant and cocktails in the Fireside Lounge where we enjoyed renewing acquaintances with Bill the bartender before ending the night at Wynn’s cozy Parasol Up bar to enjoy watching the pretty people and size zero chicks coming and going over cocktails.

Sunday was a strange day. “Killer” Kowalski and I were up and running ahead of our pal “Doggy Duval” so we decided to grab an eye-opener at the bar in the center of The Venetian’s main casino – a huge octagonal marble bar with huge candelabras set at various stations along the way. We’d ordered our Bloody Marys when all of a sudden we heard a loud crash just to our left. My initial thought was that a waitress had tripped and fallen and broke a tray of drinks and glasses. Before either of us could see what happened there was a second loud crash, and glass came flying in front of us. We looked to our left and saw a group of Middle Eastern guys arguing and one of them was just wailing on one of those candelabras. The bartenders in front of us didn’t know what to do – they were as wide-eyed and glassy as the bar in front of Killer and me. I uttered a “what the (bleep) are you doing?” One of them comes over and says it’s OK. I reply, “No it’s not, you’re busting up the whole casino!” Killer grabs me and we skedaddle outta there just as the security gorillas showed up to put the kibosh on that nonsense.

I’ll admit, the two of us were shaken, and it cast a pall over the whole day. We found some peace and quiet back at the Palazzo’s champagne bar and calmed our shaking nerves – literally! – over Bloody Marys doubles and pondered what we had seen and what could have happened. I mean, what if those guys were carrying? What if they were terrorists instead of just assholes? I pegged them as Iranians but they could have easily been Jordanians or Saudis or Yemenis, but it sure got us thinking just the same. Later, after breakfast at The Mirage we stopped back at the crime scene to find everything business as usual; the only indicator of anything being amiss was a maintenance crew removing the shattered candelabra; they said each one of them were Italian-made and cost a cool $5 Gs. Hope that jackass thought his tirade was worth it.

The day turned cloudy and cool for golf at Jack Nicklaus’s Bear’s Best was a challenge for Killer and a struggle for yours truly. Jack might be a great ambassador for the game and a legend, but it’s obvious he doesn’t welcome or appreciate the games of high-handicap hackers like myself. Killer was challenged and I struggled off the tee – obviously more work to do in that regard – but we soldiered on before the day turned wet and socked in, causing us to call the proceedings after nine holes. The night turned rainy but dinner at Maggiano’s was both good and giving our wallets a much-needed break. After-dinner cocktails back at Parasol Up lasted well into the wee-small hours, finishing off at The Venetian’s now-legendary casino bar. It seemed only fitting: the place had stayed in Killer’s and my minds the whole day.

The boys had a heckuva time getting out of Vegas on Monday due to Jet Blue equipment problems, not arriving back in Massachusetts until near daybreak on Tuesday morning, but my drive back was uneventful, giving me time to ponder what my front lawn would look like after the plumbers came to hopefully transform the large piles of dirt into something manageable for Carmelo to put a new lawn over. Fortunately, they did come and did a great job. It’s certainly not a HOA showcase, but give it a few months (and more than a few dead presidents yet to be spent) and it will seem like just another front yard.

The awesome thing about Vegas is that you so look forward to getting there, you’re glad to get outta there after three days of action with the shirt still on your back, and after 2-3 days back home you can’t wait to get back there and do it all over again.

I’ll admit, I’m not there yet. But give me another couple of days and I think I’ll be ready.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 17:25 | Comments (0)

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