October 9, 2014

I remember seeing Fr. Benedict Groeschel for the first time on the Eternal Word Network for the first time back in the early ’90s when I was in the early stages of my spiritual renewal. A Fransciscan who took the Order’s original vows of poverty and charity so seriously that he began a new congregation, the Franciscans of the Renewal, smack dab in the middle of the Bronx to bring the light of Christ and service to the poor in the midst of the inner-city poor, he was brash, didn’t believe in bullshit of any kind, and didn’t hesitate to speak his mind in that marvelous New Jersey accent of his. He hosted numerous shows on EWTN, wrote a number of books (his Arise From Darkness is one of the few keepers in my once-extensive spiritual library), and helped kindle the interest in Roman Catholicism that brought me to where I am today. So it was sad to hear of his passing a week ago:

Fr Groeschel was a friend of Mother Teresa of Calcutta and helped her set up a convent in New York in the 1970s; he also established the St Francis House for homeless young men and the Good Counsel House for pregnant unsupported young women in the city. Later, with his long beard and distinctive grey habit, he became a familiar figure to viewers of the Eternal Word Television Network, the Alabama-based international Catholic station. As a spiritual writer he published more than 40 books; he gave retreats and spoke at conferences around the world, and contributed to a range of Catholic and secular magazines and newspapers.

He was deeply involved in ecumenical activities, numbering several Protestant ministers and rabbis among his close friends. The Friars of the Renewal – all bearded and sandalled, always apparently cheerful and invariably travelling in a small group with at least one guitar and perhaps a football – have become familiar at all major international Catholic events, notably World Youth Day. Fr Groeschel, stooped in his old age, quietly spoken and unpretentious, seemed in his later years to be an unlikely founder of this vigorous network of energetic young friars, but his forceful teaching and deep spiritual commitment were nevertheless the real heart of the community.

After all the hard work of his life and the joy and wisdom he brought to so many people over the years, and his health struggles over the past decade, I’m certain Fr. Groeschel was ready for some rest and peace in the bosom of Christ. May his soul flourish in the eternal light and joy of Christ’s kingdom in Heaven.

Well done, good and faithful servant of our Lord. You will be missed.

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 18:54 | Comments (0)
October 8, 2014

Can’t see the full moon through the thick cloud cover, but I know it’s there. There’s almost nothing like a full October moon – except a full November moon, which I’ve always loved with the bare trees and all.

Like I said in my last post, all the rain and moisture here in Arizona has created quite the tropical climate. And with the tropical climate come mosquitoes. And I’m not talking Bingo, Bango, Bongo, and Irving.

Here’s a nice video that’s perfect for an afternoon nap.

Every time I think the Obama administration can’t sink any lower in terms of disgrace, a new day dawns. It’s come to the point where it’s not even worth bothering about – this is the President this country deserves.

Of course the previous story was oh so yesterday. Why bother with that when you have today. If it wasn’t so sad it would all be pretty pathetic, but Barack Obama long ago gave up caring what the presidency means in terms of history and what anyone else thinks or does.

Tomorrow kicks off the 2015 PGA Tour season, but I doubt anyone will care. I understand why the Tour does it – they’re trying to maximize the number of tour events and prevent the kind of extended offseason (read: “silly season”) that used to attract only the most avid of watchers. But does anyone but the avid watcher really care about the fall events? I’m guessing not. Folks won’t start paying attention to golf tournaments until January in Hawaii as an escape from the piles of snow in their driveways.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 20:43 | Comments (0)
October 7, 2014

You’re Adrian Gonzalez of the Dodgers. A bonafide RBI machine. And yet, for all the salary and the salaried teams you have played for these past few years, you chalk up another year where you won’t even sniff a World Series game. Nor will you ever. There are good baseball players, and there are winners. You’re just a good baseball player.

You’re Don Mattingly, and you’re already starting to think about other teams you can manage after your butt is fired.

You’re John Farrell of the Red Sox, and you don’t even know you will be the first manager fired in 2015. I hate to say it, but the Sox won in 2013 in spite of you, not because of any great organizational and leadership qualities you possess. Next year there will be no hiding the fact that not every great pitching coach makes a great manager.

You’re Harry Reid, and if it hasn’t already, this commercial and this video ought to scare the bejeezus outta you. As I’ve said many times in this spot, the Democratic Party only cares about black people come Election Day. And if even 10-20% of that voting bloc wakes up to realize they’ve been had you and your party are screwed. And deservedly so.

You’re George W. Bush, and to see the Iraqi and Syrian Kurds being left to slaughter by Barack Obama and the so-called “Western powers” West has to absolutely break your heart. Look, folks can agree or disagree as to whether going into Iraq was the right idea or not, but in 2009 Iraq was relatively stable, the U.S. had a major presence in the Middle East, and no one was going to mess with us. But with your successor, Barack Obama, people mean nothing and politics is everything.

You’re Barack Obama, and you don’t care that big-wig party insiders like Leon Panetta have started writing books challenging your narrative and writing of your incredible incompetence and chronic misjudgment. And you know why you don’t care? Because you’ve surrounded yourself with so many syncophants who think you’re God that you actually believe it.

You’re the State Department’s Jen Psaki and, frankly, you are CLUELESS. Suggest you find a job you’re capable of performing without making an embarrassment of yourself.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 20:17 | Comments (0)
October 6, 2014

And to think, they call this the “desert southwest”. This year, it’s been more like living in Florida or along the Gulf of Mexico, where it’s another week, another rain event caused by yet another disintegrating hurricane. A few weeks ago it was Norbert, then Odile, now it looks like we’ll have the remnants of Hurricane Simon passing right over the Valley or just southeast of it. I saw the furthest cloud band off to the south late yesterday, today the clouds moved in from the southwest pretty quickly.

Had I not been bogged down with work it would have been a perfect day to hit the driving range. Unfortunately, with the house all a-flutter with Tracey leaving the taxes until the very last days of our six-month extension, the daily installment of hospital bills and demands for payments we only refer along to the lawyers until after freaking out, having my sister-in-law and her two rabbits staying here until her new apartment is available (hopefully next week!), and trying to juggle all our obligations and chores around a single car, hitting a golf ball is the furthest thing from my mind.

It would be nice to lounge outside on the patio with a Sam Adams or a Pinot Grigio, but that’s impossible these days – all the rain and moisture we’ve had has exponentially increased the amount of mosquitoes and black flies that converge around me as soon as I step outside. They seem to care not a sniff for the twins. We’re not supposed to have clouds of mosquitoes and gnats here in Arizona, but that’s what this monsoon season has brought with it. Kinda makes me long for the past years of dust storms and dry thunderstorms!

Considering that Joe Bastardi at Weatherbell.com (his free Saturday updates are a must for any weather enthusiast!) predicted this weather event three weeks ago and has predicted a wetter-than-average fall and winter for Arizona, it doesn’t look like life in the tropics is going to end anytime soon.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 21:39 | Comments (0)
October 5, 2014

Look, I love Phil Mickelon as a golfer. If Phil’s playing and in contention I’m watching him because he’s a human highlight film in and of itself. And is there a better interview than Phil after a round? Whatever he’s thinking he says, no Tiger Woods blather about his game being really close after vomiting up a +3 for the day. Unlike so many of the soft and pampered prodigies-from-their-diapers players that increasingly dominate the PGA Tour’s leaderboards week in, week out, Phil is no David Simms-esque souless robot – he’s passionate about everything he does, opinionated, and not afraid of “Phil being Phil”.

So while it might have been better for Phil to hold his powder about Tom Watson’s captaincy until a day or to after the American’s Ryder Cup defeat was in the books, I completely understood where he was coming from and respected him for not being afraid to speak his mind. Unfortunately, what Phil did was lead to an open season on Tom Watson and his captaincy at the the Ryder Cup where now you hear all kinds of whispers from unnamed sources about how Watson screwed this up and that up, and, most recently, how mean and harsh to the team he was at their Saturday night meeting. To the point where Watson now has to go public and apologize for the way he captained?

Puh-leeze. Last time I checked the Ryder Cup’s format no points were given to the captains for anything they did. In fact, the last time I checked, I thought the Ryder Cup was all about players competing against one another and let the best man and best team win. No points for good behavior, bad behavior, good captaincy or bad captaincy. It’s simply about the golf that is played. Then you total up all the points and determine who wins bragging rights for the next two years.

So it was with great satisfaction I read Quin Hillyer’s excellent column at National Review Online defending Watson’s performance, of which he places the blame where it rightly belongs: on the players who were simply outclassed by the Europeans in each and every facet of the game, on and off the course.

And maybe — well definitely — some of [Watson's] decisions were just downright poor, in terms of who to pair with whom and who to play when. Others have catalogued those criticisms, again and again, so I won’t belabor them. But two points should be made in Watson’s favor. First, why is nobody giving him credit for what turned out to be a stroke of genius, completely as unusual as it was, of putting rookies Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed out as partners in the opening Four-balls, especially considering that neither had been playing well in recent weeks? Watson, using the tough-guy approach, even told them that he was throwing them into the water in order to force them to sink or swim. Well, it worked: They swam. Actually, better: They surfed. They were the stars of the show. They were terrific. …Also superb was the new pairing of Ricky Fowler and Jimmy Walker. Meanwhile, the conventional pairings, the ones where players supposedly felt oh-so-comfortable with each other, failed spectacularly. Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson had a record as a great pairing. They bombed. Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley were supposed to be unbeatable, but they won their first match only because their opponents played even worse, and they were terrible in the second match. Matt Kuchar was supposed to be able to pair well with anybody. His teams bombed.

And, like I was saying earlier…

Finally, here’s the real rub of the green: It shouldn’t matter much who one’s partner is. A player’s job is to hit the ball from where it lies. In match play, his job is to get it in the hole better than the opponent does. The Euros consistently hit the shots when they need them. For 15 years, Americans haven’t. All of this Sturm und Drang about pairings and the like is overblown. The role of the captain is overblown. Either a golfer gets the ball into each hole in fewer strokes than his opponent, or he doesn’t. Ray Floyd wouldn’t be whining about pairings. Lanny Wadkins wouldn’t. Nicklaus wouldn’t. Trevino wouldn’t. Johnny Miller wouldn’t. Lord knows that Hogan wouldn’t. And of course Watson himself, in his heyday, never would have dreamed of such a thing. They would just go out and beat you. The current crop of Americans hasn’t done that. Tom Watson was right: They just got outplayed. Instead of pointing fingers, they should knuckle under and learn darn well how to win.

Might having a Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson, or Jason Dufner helped the American cause? Perhaps, but I doubt it it. The fact is, the Europeans enthusiastically embrace the kind of team play the various formats in the Ryder Cup require, whereas the individualist Americans reflect the way golfers have been created in the post-Tiger era where you can make a boatload of cash simply by getting there. Were the golfers back in the Arnie/Jack/Gary/Lee/Tom era better than today’s players? That’s, of course, an open debate, but what cannot be denied is that those players had a comraderie and toughness forged out of an era where courses weren’t all green and lush, golf bags traveled in the trunk of a car as much as by plane, and if you weren’t making cuts or Monday qualifiers you had a world of pressure coming down on you from your wife and family to start bringing home the bacon (literally!).

You want to know what really happened at this year’s Ryder Cup? The Europeans outplayed and out-hustled the Americans. They also had the better mix of players – think about about it: outside of Spieth, Reed, Walker, and Fowler (who can’t be faulted for the way he was surgically dismantled by Rory McIlroy in their Sunday match) can you think of any American players you’d want in your foxhole who can grind it out like Graeme McDowell, Jamie Donaldson, Ian Poulter or Lee Westwood?

There’s nothing magical about it: if the Americans want to end the domination of the Europeans at the Ryder Cup they simply have to play better as individuals. Do that, and the entire team will benefit. So let’s stop blaming Davis Love for what happened at Medinah and Tom Watson for what happened at Gleneagles. The fault here lies purely at the American golfer’s feet, and it’s time for them to man up.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 11:20 | Comments (0)
October 2, 2014

A few thoughts as I watch the calendar turn to the last quarter of the year:

Got to take my final swim in the pool in October. The water temp tonight was 75, tolerable enough for a few final laps around the pool to call it a season. Oh, there will still be plenty of times where I’ll sit and swish my legs in the water, but the nights are too cool now to allow the warm days to replace the heat loss. It was a great year, though – I’ll miss the late night dips under the moon and stars before heading for bed.

While in some ways it is sad to see the Boston baseball season end, the last few months were pretty excruciating all around. I know there will be those who want to keep the young players who performed so well this year, but outside of catcher Christian Vasquez and pitcher Joe Kelly, is there anyone else you could think of saying no to trading if the right offer came along?

Might the Baltimore Orioles be the 214 version of the 2013 Sox?

When you read stuff like the latest scandals with the Secret Service, the IRS, and the VA, and you look at the utter lack of enforcement and concern over who is coming through our southern border, and you combine it with the fact that guy from Liberia with Ebola was allowed into the country and that the Obama administration sees not need to cut off flights from West African nations having widespread Ebola issues, you just have to wonder where the hell simple common sense has gone. If your own government can’t operate with a minimum of common sense what can you do? Course, I’ll probably be called a racist and get audited for writing such heresy.

With October 1st comes the official end of the monsoon season here in Arizona, and what a monsoon it was. I don’t us folks here in Gilbert got as much rain as some other areas around us, but the last few weeks made it a pretty darned wet one for sure.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 21:11 | Comment (1)
September 29, 2014

The American sure got smoked by those pesky Europeans at Gleneagles, didn’t they. I didn’t have a good feeling about the prospects of the American team going in – after all, there were only a handful who were playing consistently-solid golf over the past few months, but I thought they’d put up a better fight than they did. It was still great golf to watch, and here are ten things I think we all learned from this year’s Ryder Cup:

10. Watching Golf Channel’s “Alternate Shot” while waiting for the late-night NBC coverage to begin on Friday night was disappointing. For all the hoopla leading up to it, there was really nothing edgy about the coverage at all, and watching four guys talk and reminisce about their Ryder Cup exploits in the past next to a smaller screen showing the European feed didn’t really add anything to the coverage.

9. On the American side of things, there should be more captain’s picks and less automatic picks. Just because you can rack up a bunch of points by playing well on the Tour doesn’t mean you’re necessarily cut out for the rigors of Ryder Cup play. Right, Hunter Mahan? Right, Jim Furyk? Right, Bubba Watson?

8. Before anyone starts christening Patrick Reed as lock for the next great Ryder Cup player, it would be good to recall the same was being said about Keegan Bradley after his performance in 2012. Two years is a lifetime in golf, and there are plenty of good young players out there just waiting to make their own splash.

7. I love watching Victor Dubuisson play golf. That dude could be a real superstar in the making.

6. Ditto Graeme McDowell and how he kept fighting and finally took down Jordan Spieth. Spieth played as good as anyone could expect, and he’s no dummy. I’ll bet Graeme taught him some valuable lessons in terms of dogged determination, patience, and perseverance that he’ll put to good use down the line.

5. By and large, the Europeans dressed sharper and looked snappier than their American counterparts did. Those blue tops with the big American flag in the center looked totally stupid – like something you’d see in the bargain aisle at Kohl’s leading up to the Fourth of July.

4. Golf Channel’s “Live From The Ryder Cup” was extremely well done and provided awesome viewing from the get-go. Brandel Chamblee and Frank Nobilo in particular never disappoint, and the guest rotation throughout the weekend kept things fresh and entertaining.

3. I agree with the overwhelming consensus that Phil Mickelson should have kept his mouth shut instead of tossing captain Tom Watson under the bus at the post ceremony press conference. When you’ve been soundly beaten discretion is always the better part of valor.

2. No offense to Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar, but when the next Ryder Cup comes around I hope they’ll all be joining me watching the proceedings on TV. They may be very good golfers and equally as good human beings, but watching them play is the golf equivalent to watching paint dry. I would have much rather seen the likes of Russell Henley, Chris Kirk, and Billy Horschel in their place. More youth and exuberance, please!

1. Is there any doubt anymore that Rory McIlroy is by far the best player on the planet right now? Watching him surgically take apart Rickie Fowler in their Sunday match was a thing a beauty.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 02:14 | Comments (0)
September 28, 2014

Sorry for the lack of postings this week. Between work and appointments of all kinds the week just got away from me. But the world didn’t stop spinning, so here are a few odd and ends worth posting about.

Yep, we got that storm that made the news. We didn’t the big winds that toppled poles and raised all kinds of havoc at the airport and to the north and west of it, but we sure got the rain. Here’s a picture of what the sky looked like in Phoenix as the storm approached. I was finishing up errands and the sky opened up with a muddy rain less than ten minutes later:

How would you like to be a homeowner living in Ferguson, MO right now? Can you spell d-e-p-r-e-c-i-a-t-i-o-n? But this is the problem now with the media and social media – whereas just a decade ago the police and local authorities might be able to contain and control the response to the Michael Brown incident at the local level, now you’ve got the media and attention-hound activists – and, one might argue the President of the United States – making the situation worse. And the sad things is, things are probably going to get a whole lot worse in Ferguson before they get better.

I dunno, a Muslim guy shouting stuff in Arabic as he stabs folks and beheads a woman sure sounds like an act of terror to me. But I guarantee you that to the Obama administration and liberals who simply can’t fathom the idea that true Muslims are anything but kind and peaceful folk this will go down as just another act of workplace violence.

I feel bad for the folks in Hong Kong, but I don’t see a lot of hope in their cause. The Brits should never have left.

Thankfully the Red Sox season is finally over, and with it Derek Jeter’s season-long ride into retirement. Look, I’ve always respected the guy, and were I starting up my own baseball team I would have chosen him first during the majority of the time he played. And yes, that winning RBI single on Friday night at his last at-bat in Yankee Stadium was truly one for the ages. But, like most things New York and the Yankees, it just got too over the top for me. So here’s looking forward to an active off-season for the Red Sox and the hope that neither Will Middlebrooks or Clay Buchholz are around come Opening Day 2015.

…and while I’m on the Red Sox, I hope the same holds true for NESN color commentator Jerry Remy. The off-the-field family stuff aside, I just think his act has grown stale and it’s time for some new and younger blood in the broadcast booth.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 16:04 | Comments (0)
September 24, 2014

I’m figuring they must be since yesterday while grocery shopping at the local Fry’s I saw my first Christmas tree and a small display of Christmas decorations. And the Dunkin’ Donuts coffee I picked up had a Christmas tree on it – I’m guessing a leftover from last year. Still, you’d think they’d at least wait until Halloween is over.

My sister-in-law Tam helped me decorate the Tiki bar deck for Halloween. Once I get the witch hat to cover the tiki I’ll upload some pics.

But baby, the seasons they are a changin’. We’ve still got 100 degree temps for this week and the pool is heroically staying swimmable as long as it can even though the nights are bottoming out in the low ’80s. It appears this week is about it, as Friday appears to be the last of our 100-degree days before a cold front knocs us into the high ’80s early next week. And if that happens, it’s sayonara pool season.

I’m counting down the days to resuming my golf game. Looks like Saturday is going to be perfect for kicking off the 2014-15 season. Temps in the ’90s, and a new game plan and attitude to bring to the course with me. I can’t wait.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:14 | Comments (4)
September 20, 2014

Walked outside the back doors tonight and as soon as my bare feet hit the patio I knew something was different – the lack of warm tile meeting my skin. It was still muggy and warm, but the air had a different feeling to it – unless you’ve lived out here in the Valley of the Sun you wouldn’t understand it. See, for the past five months everything has been about the heat: the air, any surface you might touch, just the very feeling of it. And it’s not as if the heat was gone when I stepped out onto the patio, it was different. Not the kind of relentless heat you just get accustomed to, but a different kind of heat, a heat with – if it makes any sense – a coolness to it. It felt strange.

If the future forecasts are to be believed we’ve had our last triple-digit temperatures of the year. With just four weeks remaining until the 2nd week of October when the heat gods flip the switch and we enter “Arizona winter”, seeing days in the 90s and nighttime temps in the 70s means really only one thing: pool season is over. as long as the pool temp stays in the 80s I’ll continue my nightly dips, but you can bet the clock is ticking towards the end of another pool season.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:20 | Comments (0)

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