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)
August 23, 2014

A few weekend thoughts while we have a brief break in the monsoon – more coming early next week.

Gotta love this. OK, so in the face of a terrorist attack on the United States – the White House’s words, not mine – the Commander-in-Chief was dealing with his deep-rooted grief by high-fiving it on the golf course with his buds. As Noah Rothman so ably observes in his Hot Air post:

“When you see somebody killed in such a horrific way, that represents a terrorist attack,” he said. “That represents a terrorist attack against our country and against an American citizen.”

“We see that as an attack on our country when one of our own is killed like that,” Rhodes added.

So, now the president was not just callously golfing in the wake of the horrific murder of an American citizen, he was golfing in the immediate aftermath of a “terrorist attack” on the United States of America. Oops.

Yep, Clint Eastwood was right.

I’m kinda intrigued by the Red Sox signing Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to play center field for them the next several years. And it ought to be interesting to see what this does as far as their planned pursuit of the Florida Marlins OF Giancarlo Stanton during the offseason goes. I will say this, they now have a heckuva lot of top-notch minor-league talent they can throw at teams to reel in a top-notch pitcher or an outfielder like Stanton. 2014 is a lost season, but watching how the Red Sox are looking come Opening Day 2015 should be pretty interesting to watch as the snow is flying.

Headline: Colorado Hiker Sings Opera to Calm Stalking Mountain Lion. I wonder what would happen if I started singing to the cat that frequents our yard? Beach Boys? Gordon Lightfoot? Jimmy Buffett? Who knows. But back to that story, Glen Reynolds of Instapundit is right: something in .454 Casull might have worked, too. That’s the gun I’m planning on once I get my permit to carry.

How do you know you have a top-notch political organization behind you? By turning lemons not just into lemonade, but into pure gold. I ordered my Rick Perry T-shirt today, have you ordered yours?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:46 | Comments (0)
August 21, 2014

Not much to write about on the monsoon-y day. Because it’s been such a cloudy week the pool has dropped down to 88 degrees. They say by this weekend we’ll be back up in the 100s, so hopefully we’ll get another few weeks of pool season. But there is little doubt the days are getting shorter – I can tell by the amount of light available when I have my 7 AM calls with India that the seasons are a’ changing.

It’s amazing how much rain they’ve gotten on the far north side of the Valley this week. We’ve gotten a little rain here in Gilbert, but nothing to write home about. It’s been a nice break from all the heat, though. And the fact that much of the rain we’ve had is from “early season” storms coming off the Pacific bodes well for a wetter than average winter.

My Goodboys pals aren’t going to want to hear this, but Joe Bastardi at the Weather Bell has been calling for the same thing on his free weekly summaries for quite some time.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 19:56 | Comments (0)
August 18, 2014

The large glass of water, tossed with nary a sound, caught the cat flush. With a loud yowl the cat jumped to the ground, then performed a vertical leap to the top of the six-foot wall before disappearing in my neighbor’s yard.

“Where’s your litter box now, (expletive deleted)?”, I taunted in the fleeing cat’s direction.
“Huh? Huh? Where’s your litter box now? (expletive deleted).”

The cat could not be reached for comment.

It was a Thursday morning, and I’m working away in my office when I saw the cat outside my window. The same cat that had used our sand box as its own personal litter box for months. The same cat that forced me to build the now-legendary boardwalk around our Tiki bar. That cat. And at this very moment, that cat was under the lime tree just outside my office window, looking upwards with great interest. Was there a nest up there? Some bird activity I couldn’t hear behind the glass? Don’t know. But it didn’t take more than a few seconds before I had raced out the office and down the hall to the kitchen where I was filling a large glass with water, hoping the cat’s interest in the tree would allow for a surprise attack from the rear.

I opened the back door slowly and quietly. The fact I was in sock feet allowed me to move with the utmost of stealth by the pool. I stopped at the corner and peered down towards the lime tree. The cat had disappeared from where it had been. For a second my heart sunk.

But then I saw the tail.

The cat had leaped onto one of the lower-hanging branches, leaving its tail kinda hanging loosely behind him. I turned the corner without a sound, my gaze fixed upon that tail, then ever so slowly worked my way across the small side patio to the side lawn. The tail didn’t move. A few steps further and I was by the lemon tree next to the lime tree. The tail still showed no motion.

I made my move. In a single surge of motion and a yell of “Bastard!”, the glass of water was hurtling upwards towards the hanging tail, finding its intended target square on with a splatter.

That, my friends, is called payback.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 21:37 | Comments (6)
August 15, 2014

A bunch of years ago I planted an Apple Cactus along with a bunch of other cactus to fill the west side by the A/C unit. All our cactus have done well there, but this year, for whatever reason the apple cactus seems very happy, pushing out flowers at a rate I’ve never seen before.

I’ve also never seen one of the flowers in bloom, as they only flower at night, so when I saw one the other day I had to get out there quick and snap it quick; by the time I finally got out there the flower had already started receding. But it still made for a pretty picture. I think they only bloom for a single day. I’ve seen the fruit on the cactus before, but I had never thought of eating them; it turns out the fruit is perfectly edible, so we’ll see what happens this year!

Given the amount of flowering on the cactus I’m guessing I’ll have plenty of opportunities to try the fruit.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:23 | Comments (0)


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