September 11, 2014

I like today’s post from Instapundit: Never forget what the bastards did to us.

And, I might add, never hesitate one second to kill them before they kill you.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 22:05 | Comments (0)
September 10, 2014

Watched the speech tonight and couldn’t have been more unimpressed. I have actually come to wonder if President Obama himself even believes half the crap he is forced by his own speechwriters to read off the TelePrompTer. Watch the speech and look at his eyes – they are positively dead and void of passion. This is a President going through the motions because the politics of the situation has forced him into it, nothing less.

You know what I think Barack Obama has become? The Rose Kennedy of the White House. Oh you might remember Rose – back towards the end of her life, when she had become wheelchair-bound and fairly feeble, Teddy and the other Kennedys would roll her out before the media as a symbol of a “Camelot” that never was, a dynasty that never was, and the strong matriarch of a family that she never was. And that’s what Barack Obama is – a recreational golfer who has been reduced to playing President, being trotted out before the cameras only when he’s forced to because world events intrude on his recreational schedule and the White House sees its polling numbers going in the toilet.

When you think of it, it’s amazing to see the whole visage of this supposedly magnificent President, this history-defining icon, the smartest and most eloquent of all presidents, this post-racial, post-everything president being revealed for what he is and always has been: an incompetent, narcissistic political animal in over his head, forced to play the role of President and the leader of the so-called free world when all he really wants to do is simply enjoy the perks of the office.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 22:50 | Comments (0)
September 8, 2014

Hard to believe how much rain came down today in the Phoenix area and the kind of havoc it caused. At 1 AM last night I couldn’t sleep, so I went outside for a late-night swim and the moon was still visible through a sheet of light cloud cover; I could see, however, some darker, ominous-looking clouds gathering to our southwest and heading our way. Before I called it a night I checked the local radar and saw no sign of the heavy rain they had been predicting for the past few days anywhere near us, so I turned off the lights and hit the sack.

I was jarred awake by what sounded like to me hail falling on the roof and banging against the windows and the side of the house. I looked at my clock – 2 AM – and headed out back to see some of the heaviest rain I have ever seen falling in my life, and huge drops of rain at that. It looked like a scene out of Jim Cantore’s best hurricane spots on The Weather Channel. Lightning lit up the sky in all directions and the thunder grumbled almost non-stop. While the thunderstorm wasn’t overhead, to see the rain fall that heavily in the ghostly light created by the lightning was something to behold.

Around 4 AM there were two booms of thunder that sounded like a cannon was fired just outside our bedroom window. It was still raining hard then, and the rain was still steady when we got up at 7:30 AM. By then I could check out the website to see what was going on out in the Valley, and there were some amazing images being shown.

Most of our backyard was under water, but I’ve seen it worse than this:

…of course, that was back in the days before my Tiki bar boardwalk, which as you can see is fairly underwater.

Three hours later, the only water remaining was on the lower spots on a couple of boards. It was “>a historic day in terms of rain in Phoenix, but all in all the Richard hacienda made it through without anyone having to man the lifeboats. Now comes the fun part: seeing over the next few days just how well the boardwalk held up with all that water.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 21:46 | Comments (2)
September 6, 2014

A few thoughts and comments while wishin’ and hopin’ for a big rain coming this way starting tomorrow.

As Gomer Pyle used to say, “well Surprise, Surprise!” Actually, the only ones who wouldn’t have seen this coming are the ever-shrinking number of Obamabots who still think Dear Leader is the culmination of all their hopes and dreams. Cynical doesn’t begin to describe just how this White House puts politics above everything. I’m with NRO’s Jim Geraghty on this one: every Republican candidate for office between now and November should be flooding the airwaves with ads saying if you don’t believe in the coming amnesty, the only way to express your opinion to the White House is by voting for them.

…of course, the White House is anything but dumb – they know what the polls have been saying, so this is also their chance to say to their base, “look, if you believe in amnesty for illegals we need you to get to the ballot boxes in November and show the country that our agenda is what you want to see happen”. I’m not sure how that will play in the states where Democratic candidates already have an uphill battle, but with the last set of elections before the end of the President’s second term you’ve got to try everything in the kitchen sink.

Glad to see the Red Sox turn Thursday’s devastating loss to the Yankees around with a dramatic extra-innings victory on Friday night. Look, I know the games don’t mean anything at this point, but to lose to the Yankees the way they did on Thursday, with those two solo home runs in the bottom of the ninth, was as depressing as it gets. If it were against, say, the Orioles or the Royals I could handle it, but to hear those obnoxious shmucks on the YES Network and their endless prattling about “Jeets” and long-forgotten Yankee teams of yesteryear, and that insipid “SEE YA!” home run call by whomever that idiot Yankee play-by-play guy was just too much to take. Damned good thing there wasn’t a sharp knife available or I would have slit my wrists.

Couldn’t agree more with what Bill O’Reilly said the other night. With American journalists being beheaded, ISIS, Vladimir Putin invading Ukraine and threatening sovereign countries, and all the other turmoil in the world going on it’s comforting to know our State Department can trot out true “heavyweights” like Jen Psaki and Marie Harf to firmly and without equivocation communicate U.S. policy towards the enemies of freedom in the world. Look, for all I know they may be very nice people, but my God – my Tewksbury Memorial High School commencement speaker had more gravitas than these two Ivy League elitists. One can only imagine what ol’ Vlad must be thinking when he sees these two lightweights communicating American foreign policy.

Back to the possibility of that big rain coming our way – Gordie sung it best.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 11:49 | Comments (0)
September 3, 2014

How low can politics go? As low as Democrats feel it necessary to rouse their base, I guess. When you accuse a sitting Republican swing-state governor of domestic abuse against women you know just how desperate they’ve become.

Headline: Bronx Man Decapitates Self In Broad Daylight Before Horrified Onlookers

One of my all-time favorite literary quotes, this from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby:

“In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. ‘Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,’ he told me, ‘just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.’ He didn’t say any more but we’ve always been unusually communicative in a reserved way, and I understood that he meant a great deal more than that. In consequence I’m inclined to reserve all judgments, a habit that has opened up many curious natures to me and also made me the victim of not a few veteran bores.

Just awesome.

Well, I guess this explains it. (I won’t say in what way!)

Headline: B.C. Woman Sues Ex-Boyfriend To Pay For Failed Class After Breakup

Headline: Minnesota police chief apologizes after decapitating a five-year-old boy’s pet chicken and leaving its head outside the home

Another wonderful quote from Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby:

“He smiled understandingly—much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced—or seemed to face—the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.”

Thank God for literature and books and music, in a world filled with absolute fools and madness the only alternative is to get yourself a gun – a nice gun.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 21:14 | Comments (0)
September 2, 2014

When I was younger I hated the month of September, mostly because the impending start of school ruined the last half of August. And September, of course, meant not only back to school but the end of summer. Oh sure, you could even in the northern climes of New England find summer, but the heat never lasted more than a day or two, and you knew they were the last vestiges, for sure. In some ways it was OK – the cloudy muggy days of August that made everything around you feel damp and cause doors and windows to never close the right way giving way to the clear, bright, and less humid days of September.

As I grew older and finally escaped school I began grew to appreciate September and the unique joys it brought. For one, the ocean waters up and around New Hampshire and Maine were at their warmest (and least crowded) after Labor Day. And the nights were cool but not too cool that you couldn’t once again open up all the windows of the house and let the fresh air in. But even given this, you couldn’t take away from the fact it all seemed bittersweet. Because you knew damned well the days were growing ever shorter and what lay beyond the no-longer-so-distant horizon.

There’s this scene in The Great Gatsby where Gatsby is lamenting the end of summer, telling Nick how he wished he could bottle it and save it forever. Me, I long for being in Newport, gazing at the harbor on a September late afternoon, a chilled glass of Pinot Grigio and a finished plate of clams in front of me, the angle of the sun seeming all wrong and slanted as the warmth of the day recedes into the ocean and a sweater or jacket is brought out for the first time since Spring. The stores have already got their Halloween decorations and offerings up, and with it you get the sense of the seasons beginning to change yet again, and just how precious life is. And you do want to bottle that feeling of time and place and keep it safe within you forever.

I guess that why I’ve always liked September Song; both Frank and Willie have their own way of expressing its sentiments.

Of course, here in the Valley of the Sun, all the feelings about September are moot – it’s just another hot hot month where by now everyone around here is sick of the heat and looking forward to the second week of October where the heat god flips the switch and ushers in that delightful time of year known as “Arizona winter”.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:03 | Comments (0)
August 31, 2014

It all seemed so real I had to check with Tracey to make sure I hadn’t been singing The Righteous Brothers’ classic “(You’re My) Soul and Inspiration”, one of their all-time biggest hits, while I was sleeping. You see, in my dream I was standing on a podium in front of the United Nations (I think) giving a lecture about Phil Spector and his “Wall of Sound”, the essence of it being, if mere mortals like Bill Medley (one of the Righteous Brothers who produced “S & I”) and Brian Wilson, whose “Don’t Worry Baby” was modeled after Phil’s “Be My Baby” production for The Ronettes, could equal – if not better – Phil’s greatest productions, was the “Wall of Sound” all that difficult to replicate?

I woke up with Bill Medley’s classic vocal in my head and started to sing it to my sister-in-law Tam while she was making coffee. She looked at me like I had two heads. But I couldn’t get the tune, or the object of my dream, out of my head. So I played the “Soul and Inspiration” YouTube video and consulted the book on Phil Spector’s sound; turns out one of the YouTube commenters had it exactly right:

Bill Medley’s “revenge” on Phil Spector. Phil dropped the boys in 1965 [Ed. note: after his stellar production of "Unchained Melody"] and left, so Medley picked up the reins, took Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil’s supposedly inferior follow-up to “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’” and outdid Spector’s famed “Wall of Sound” on this recording. I frankly like this one better. Medley’s power vocal and Bobby Hatfield’s responses more than get the job done.

Well, to each his own – history has shown YLTLF to be one of, if not the most-played pop songs ever recorded. Still, it’s hard not to listen to “Soul and Inspiration” and figure out that either Phil’s “Wall of Sound” wasn’t that hard to replicate if you had enough musicians crammed into a small enough room and a echo chamber to control the sound on the mix-down, or that Medley was either an astute watcher of Spector’s technique or an incredibly quick learner. In my humble opinion as a true Philophile, I do have to say I think the production isn’t quite as pristine and tight as Phil’s work; it sounds as if the echo supplied at the end overwhelmed everything else – a mistake Phil would never make.

As for “Don’t Worry Baby”, while the drum intro certainly recalls “Be My Baby”, I really don’t consider the song an attempt by Brian Wilson to replicate the Spector “Wall of Sound”. While Wilson’s obsession with “Be My Baby” is legendary, the truth is that Wilson had enough talent on his own that he was able to go out and do his own thing without having to imitate Phil Spector. I have little doubt that Wilson’s work on parts of Pet Sounds and SMiLE were his own attempts to drench the recordings in true Spector fashion – I can hear it here and here – but even the greatest Philophile would have to admit that Wilson’s body of work over the years has more than surpassed his hero Spector in every way, manner, shape, and form.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 19:51 | Comments (0)
August 28, 2014

Words that are destined to haunt the Obama administration for years to come. I have to agree with Charles Krauthammer here, I mean, for gawdsakes, you’re the President, the Commander-in-Chief, the spokesman of the United States of America and the free world, and you admit to the world you don’t have a strategy for dealing with radical Islamic extremists?

“Look I thought that the president could no longer surprise me,” Krauthammer said. “I was wrong. He shocked me today. The President of the United States, in the middle of a real crisis, a few days after the beheading of an American, deliberately sort of spitting in the face of the country and demonstrating his cruelty, the president gets in front of the world and says, “I don’t have a strategy.” If that is true, don’t say anything. Why do you announce that you don’t have a strategy?”

Incompetent doesn’t begin to describe this damned idiot. Can you imagine what our enemies, and the enemies of freedom in the world think about this?

Hey, but maybe he’s got a point. After all, if the IRS comes crawling asking us where our taxes are for 2013 I can always text them this picture:

I’m sure that’ll work, right? After all, if it’s good enough for Barack Obama, that supposedly smartest guy in the room, the guy who was going to hit the reset button and make the world a better place, why shouldn’t it be good enough for The Great White Shank?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 19:53 | Comments (0)
August 27, 2014

Nothing much to write about today as the slow slide into Labor Day weekend starts. The twins are still sore from the car crash last Friday, the days are filled with phone calls to and from insurance adjusters, doctors, and various third parties, and the big monsoon rain event we were supposed to get late Monday into Tuesday turned out to be a dud here in the Valley of the Sun. My sister-in-law’s ceiling started leaking again after a big rain last week, so this coming weekend could be spent helping her move her into a new apartment in the same complex while the temperatures are back over 100. The pool temperature is hanging right around 90, so we’ve still got a few precious weeks left before the nights start cooling the water down more than the lower sun angle can warm it back up during the day.

I was thinking about all this while having an early coffee on the back patio when all of a sudden the thought popped into my head of just how nice it would be to be looking at the ocean from a deserted beach. A soft onshore breeze kissing the skin, just a few gurgles of water sounds permeating the morning air.

And then it was time to get back to work.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 09:36 | Comments (0)
August 24, 2014

So this is what the result is when you’re just about stopped in rush-hour traffic and some clown driving a Dodge Ram utility truck traveling approx. 60 MPH plows into your Saturn, smashing you into the back of a brand-spankin’ new 2014 Mini Cooper, and causing a massive backup that becomes the lead story of every late Friday afternoon traffic report on the radio and TV.

All because, in the words of the driver of the Dodge Ram, he “wasn’t paying attention”. Geez. Ya think?

Fortunately, neither Tracey (who was driving), nor my sister-in-law Tam (who was the only passenger) were seriously hurt, but as you can see from the pics it could have been a whole lot worse.

For one thing, Tam had a bird cage (containing her lovebird) on her lap, and the cage kept her head from hitting the dashboard or the windshield, since, as hard to believe as it sounds, neither of the airbags deployed. And for the bird, that was a good thing – if the airbag had deployed it would have been a goner. For another, it’s a damned good thing it was just a crappy little Mini-Cooper that they smashed into and not some bigger vehicle. The Mini ended up being totalled as well.

As it turned out the twins were taken to Scottsdale Memorial Hospital, where they were CT-scanned and X-rayed, then released a few hours later. Tam had a mild concussion, and Tracey’s right shoulder was back to being the mess it was before she had surgery on it just a few months ago, but fortunately no more worse than that. Two days later, both girls are just feeling banged up and sore, but that’s to be expected.

While of course everyone is grateful that no one was seriously hurt, having the Saturn transformed from a mid-size into a hatchback (and a totalled one at that!) is a damned shame because it had been paid off for a few years now and we’d put so much money into it (~5K) this year to keep it going for a long time. It sure was nice having no monthly car payment, but then again, as I told Tracey, putting that much dinero into the car was just like having a car payment. Now the coming weeks will be filled with the usual back-and-forth dance between claims adjusters and insurance companies on both the health and auto side of things. Swell.

One final note: kudos to everyone who was involved in taking care of the twins and Tam’s bird from the moment the accident happened to when they were discharged from the ED. The Tempe police (especially the officer who made sure Tam’s bird was taken care of), the Southwind Paramedics, and the ED trauma team at Scottsdale Memorial were all incredible caring and professional. With so much going on in the news today regarding law enforcement, Obamacare, and th like, you sure don’t want to be actively engaged with any of these kinds of folks if you can avoid it, but if you it’s nice to know that when you do there are such wonderful and caring people out there looking after you and your best interests.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 11:54 | Comments (3)


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