April 17, 2015

I gotta tell y’all, I’m truly beginning to wonder if the Democrats are really going to allow the likes of Hillary Clinton to hijack their nomination process to the 2016 presidential election. I mean, if this week’s pathetic roll-out of her campaign is any indication of what’s to come you have to think that somewhere in the chardonnay-swilling salons of the Democratic Party folks are aghast at the monster they created by allowing the Clintons their “It’s my nomination, and I’m entitled to it, dammit!” approach.

It would be one thing if her campaign rollout exhibited all the signs of a savvy, charismatic, and attractive candidate ready to carry the Party’s mantle all the way to November 2016, but this week has shown nothing of that. The Clinton campaign has, instead, come off as distant, aloof, and pre-fabricated to the point of caricature. I mean, the big, black luxury van, the staged events with tables and placards designed to show how much Hillary “cares”, the unwillingness to engage reporters for any meaningful discourse – it just reeks of arrogance, privilege, detachment, and disengagement. And even Democrats are noticing.

But perhaps there’s a method to the madness, so to speak. If you’re a Republican candidate, it’s all about “gotcha journalism” – no matter how articulate or qualified you might be you can bet on the mainstream media going out of its way to make you look like raving, drooling, and frothing extremist. And if you’re Hillary Clinton, well, you may be aloof, arrogant and feeling entitled but you’re not stupid – you know that after eight years of the mainstream media playing lapdogs to the Obama administration’s seemingly endless domestic scandals and foreign-policy incompetency they’ll be looking to get its sullied reputations back by coming after you. So why not play it distant and aloof and carry that strategy as far as you can? Think about it: who in the Democratic Party is going to have the chops to push back on Hillary Clinton?

Personally, I don’t see Hillary’s campaign making it all the way to the 2016 convention. She’s a virtual ticking time bomb between her issues as a congenital liar, her gross incompetence as Secretary of State, the Clinton Foundation’s shakedown artistry from foreign nations, the e-mails that have likely been hacked and prepared for release by political operatives – on both sides of the political aisle – at an opportune time, and her general lackluster nature as a political candidate. It’s not unreasonable to envision a scenario where Hillary’s campaign implodes because of some major scandal and Democrats plead with Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren to come to the Party’s rescue on her Progressive white horse.

In fact, were I not so in debt I’d be willing to put money on that.

How do you solve a problem like Hillary? If you’re a Democrat, you bide your time and keep the long knives at bay. Because at some point you know they’re going to come out.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 02:21 | Comments (2)
April 16, 2015

Now that the front yard is on its way to nearly back all the attention turns to the back yard, where there are a bunch of projects that absolutely, positively must get done before the arrival of the real heat. I figure we’ve only got another month, so there is little time to lose. First up is the swimming pool, which, as a result of the very hard water we have around these parts, really needs to be drained and refilled every two years, and, every four years, given the acid wash treatment. And 2015 is the fourth year in the cycle so we’ll have the pool drained and acid washed, then refilled and ready for another pool season.

Which, BTW, is nearly on us – the water temp was 72 when it was drained yesterday. You get an ocean temperature of 72 off of, say, Plum Island, and the water is packed. A fresh water 72 in our swimming pool is still a little chilly for anything but a quick dip. That, however, wasn’t going to happen – the week before the pool gets drained I stop the chlorine and chemicals and just let it all sit, upon which it begins to turn a lovely soft green with the strong sun this time of year.

The one thing you need to know about swimming pools is that nothing about them in terms of maintenance is cheap. By the time we have the pool drained and acid washed, the pool light (which hasn’t worked for God knows how long) fixed, the vacuum replaced with something we hope will finally work, then the pool refilled with 10,200 gallons of pure Colorado River water and re-chemicaled you’re looking at about $1K total. But after everything we’ve been through this year what’s another grand between friends: it’s just money, right?

Once the pool is taken care of, the next tasks on the list are the washing down and repainting of the back patio. Between last year’s dust storms and the unrelenting afternoon sun, the patio is, frankly, disgusting. So a good washing and paint job will go a long ways to make it happy and hospitable again.

And then comes the job I truly dread – the re-thatching of the Tiki bar roof. I’ve got $500 worth of Tahitian thatch sitting in the garage just waiting to be cut, placed, and stapled on top of the thatch that’s already started falling through the frame of the Tiki bar roof. It’s not that it’s going to be hard work (at least I don’t think it will be) but it will be awkward work trying to lay everything perfectly so it looks natural. I’ve never done this kind of thing before, but if you’re going to own a Tiki bar outside in the Valley of the Sun, you better get used to having to replace your thatch once in a while. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the pics when the time comes!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:17 | Comments (0)
April 15, 2015

Remember these days just about six weeks ago? Well, things are coming along fairly nicely, as both the landscaping guys and Carmelo our landscape guy promised. What was once a torn-up and ravaged front yard is starting to look almost like a lawn again:

After the landscape guys did their final clean-up, Carmelo and the boys came by and removed another top layer of dirt to get rid of all the remaining clumps of clay that were left, then did a nice job smoothing it all out. Two week of five minutes of watering a day settled the dirt areas further, allowing Carmelo to lay down strips of sod. The picture here is what it looks like after ten days of watering four minutes, three times a day. I think it’s coming along nicely.

The last thing I did was take the hose to the driveway and street to push all the dirt that had made our address look like a construction site into the gutter and gave it all a big push with the hose. The majority of the dirt is now caked dry between our driveway and that of our next-door neighbor, just waiting for the first monsoon thunderstorm of the year to push it all further down the street to the storm drain that lies at the end.

It also felt good to sweep and wash down the garage – there was a lot of dirt being tracked into the house. And then I gave all the floors a good washing.

As far as the front yard goes, everything is returning back to normal.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:47 | Comments (0)
April 14, 2015

Now that the Masters tournament is over, can the 2015 Goodboys Invitational be far behind? I’ve got mine, have you got yours?

For our 25th year (!) it looks the EXEC-COMM has us moving from the Portsmouth, NH seacoast to historic Plymouth, Massachusetts, virtually guaranteeing (considering the Goodboys slavery to pop culture) a Thanksgiving-ish theme full of Pilgrim and Native American references and symbolism. Since she claims to be something like 1/32 Native American, I wonder if we can get Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren to hit a ceremonial drive off the first tee to get things started?

It all starts three months from this coming Friday; looks like it’s time to start getting serious and playing some golf.

Twenty-five years. I sure hope EXEC-COMM has some suitably-commemorative surprises in store.

Oh, BTW, I accept. :-)

Filed in: Goodboys by The Great White Shank at 02:42 | Comments (0)
April 13, 2015

“I would love to see Sergio win but if I were forced to make a pick I gotta go with Speith – he’s red-hot right now.” – The Great White Shank, April 9 post.

OK, so maybe in retrospect it wasn’t that bold a pick – after all, Masters champion Jordan Spieth had been the hottest player on the planet over the past month – but it doesn’t take away from my amazement at just how well Spieth not only competed, but comported himself from the very start of the 2015 Masters until its end. You could tell from his post-round interviews each day that this is one young man who grew up right, with a respect not just for the game and its traditions, but all those who love it and are involved with it.

Some are already trying to compare Spieth’s ascendance with that of Tiger Woods, but watching the press conference Spieth gave afterwards, I was struck by the similarities between him and Arnold Palmer. Like Palmer, Spieth has a very humble demeanor that masks a killer instinct beneath the surface. Don’t believe me? I loved the way he answered a question from the British media about how much he is looking forward to competing at St. Andrew’s during The Open Championship in July. Spieth said all the right things: how he’s looking forward not just to playing, but also seeing the town and meeting all the folks there. And then he wondered aloud what it would be like were he to be shooting for the third leg of a Grand Slam. He said it with a twinkle in his eye, but you could tell he’s already moved the goalposts to winning the U.S. Open in June. Arnie was the same way – friendly and gracious on the outside but inside he wanted to beat your brains out on the course.

It was Ben Crenshaw who said that meeting Jordan Spieth for the first time was like meeting Wyatt Earp – he had that assassin’s look in his eye. But he also marveled at how gracious and mature a 21-year old he was. To be a competitor and crave success is not an unusual quality in professional golf; to have that and also be humble, gracious, and courteous to all, well that’s a combination geared towards success on every imaginable front.

I think Jordan Spieth is going to go far. Of course he’s only 21, and lots of things can (and probably will) happen on the long road he’s yet to travel. He obviously has the physical tools; I’m guessing he’ll find the character traits he’s been blessed with helpful against the ups and downs that are surely to come.

One thing is for sure: on Sunday at Augusta we saw a new star born. The world is Jordan Spieth’s oyster now, let’s hope for his sake and professional golf’s sake we have the privilege of seeing much more of this in the years to come.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 02:33 | Comments (0)
April 10, 2015

Back in the days you had the “Big Three” of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Gary Player.

(I would argue the late Billy Casper should have been included to make it a “Big Four”, but I digress.)

Arnie, Jack, and Gary – three very different golfers and personalities, yet they somehow found a way to capture the media’s fascination in a way that linked each of them together and set them apart from their contemporaries.

Watching the Masters coverage on Thursday I was struck by the thought that we could – could – be witnessing the dawn of a new “Big Three” – three golfers equally different in their games, approaches, and personalities; each young enough to offer the promise of major tournament battles for the next decade or more.

I’m talking about Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, and Jason Day.

Think about it: you’ve got Rory, who, like Arnie, has a bit of the swashbuckler and showman in him, but also, like Arnie, has a drive to not just win but win in style. Oh sure, he likes to try and cover it up with an “aw shucks” kind of demeanor but you can see it in the way he attacks golf courses with his incredible length and deft touch. Then you have Jordan Spieth: like Jack Nicklaus he’s far beyond his years in terms of how he approaches the game. While unlike Jack he’s not going to over-power the field, you can already see evidence of how he’s capable of out-thinking them. And then you have Jason Day, a world traveler like Gary Player with whom he shares the same kind of genuine joy and enthusiasm for the game that should make him a fan favorite for years to come.

What do these three have in common besides their obvious talents and that they’re all still in their early twenties? The fact that each has the “it” factor: that quality that makes you stop whatever it is you are doing whenever you see them on the TV.

Only time will tell whether these potential “Big Three” find a way to connect with each other and through golf fans in a way that will set them apart from their peers, but judging from their body of work to date and how each approaches their craft I don’t see it as an impossibility by any means. Rory’s already got a few majors under his belt – when (not if) Spieth and Day start winning their share of them you can easily see the prospect of a new “Big Three” that will keep golf viewers coming back for more long after the Tigers and Phils have turned their respective lights off.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 01:44 | Comments (0)
April 9, 2015

Again, cue the music.

OK, we’ve been waiting long enough. Winter has come and gone. The azaleas, magnolias, and dogwoods are in bloom all over Augusta National, and there’s really no point in speculating any more about Tiger Woods and everything else that has been speculated over a thousand times. The Masters tournament is here and it’s time to simply sit back and enjoy the spectacle for what it is. A few links to whet the appetite one last time.

What is it like to spend a day at Augusta? This is awesome – you really get a feel for the place and the event.

Is Tiger back? It seems Phil thinks so, but we’ll only know once dude gets in the thick of a tournament. My take: considering he hasn’t played a PGA Tour event for nine weeks I think it would be a lot to expect him to be in the thick of things come Sunday, but it’s also not unreasonable to imagine that come Sunday night everyone will be saying Tiger is back and ready to resume his pursuit of Jack’s 18 majors, and could be a threat at the U.S. Open come June. On the other hand, it’s also not unreasonable to imagine a scenario where regular play and walking a hard, hilly course triggers more than speculation of another health issue that could potentially sink another year. At this point, with Tiger anything is possible.

I’m sticking with my circle of five players with the best chance of winning – Bubba Watson, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Speith, Adam Scott, and Sergio Garcia. I would love to see Sergio win but if I were forced to make a pick I gotta go with Speith – he’s red-hot right now. Outside of this circle, I’d be willing to consider Justin Rose, Patrick Reed, and Jimmy Walker. Then again, why not Brandt Snedeker?

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 02:28 | Comments (0)
April 8, 2015

The baseball season is underway, and it’s time for The Great White Shank’s fearless baseball predictions. Hope y’all are ready…

AL East: Blue Jays, Red Sox, Orioles, Rays, Yankees
AL Central: Royals, Tigers, Indians, White Sox, Twins
AL West: Mariners, Angels, Astros, A’s, Rangers

NL East: Nationals, Braves, Mets, Marlins, Phillies
NL Central: Pirates, Cardinals, Cubs, Reds, Brewers
NL West: Dodgers, Giants, Padres, Diamondbacks, Rockies

AL Playoff teams: Blue Jays, Red Sox, Royals, Tigers, Mariners
NL Playoff teams: Nationals, Pirates, Cardinals, Dodgers, Giants

AL Champs: Red Sox
NL Champs: Dodgers

World Series: Red Sox over Dodgers

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 02:29 | Comments (0)
April 7, 2015

The Red Sox showed fine form to open the 2015 Major league Baseball season, providing something for every kind of optimist out there. Dustin Pedroia looked like his old healthy self, hitting two lasers into the seats for home runs, Hanley Ramirez showed the kind of pop the Sox hoped he would to help extend their lineup, Mookie Betts looks like he’s ready to pick up where he left off in 2014 in becoming the most exciting new player seen around these parts since Jacoby Ellsbury, and, most importantly, Clay Buchholz spun a beauty: seven innings of shutout baseball. Buchholz looked healthy and in command, in a good mental frame of mind, and his pitches showed the bite and location that has been missing over the better part of the last two seasons.

Of course, one game does not a season make, and there are 161 reasons to wonder if these Sox have what it takes to compete for a post-season spot. Will their starting rotation hold up? Same thing with the bullpen – especially if closer Koji Uehara isn’t able to return to 2013 form. Will uber-prospect Blake Swihart tear up AAA and bring some excitement to the catcher’s slot now that Christian Vasquez is out for the next year? Will right-fielder Shane Victorino be able to hold off the likes of Cuban prospect Rusney Castillo if the latter shows AAA he’s ready for the bigs without it becoming a clubhouse issue?

The answer to these questions will come in due time, but one thing is for certain: if the Sox can keep it close until the July 31 trading deadline, they’ve got significant chips in the minors to use in order to land a big-name starting pitcher or whatever other need they may have at the time. Until then, they ought to be both intriguing and (thanks Mookie and Dustin!) fun to watch.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 08:26 | Comments (0)
April 6, 2015

Cue the music.

It’s my favorite week of the golf year, and I’m guessing it’s the favorite of most golf fans as well. Sure, it hasn’t been the same since Pat Summerall and Ken Venturi have passed, but this year, just like every other year, I want it all: from the first time Jim Nantz signs on with his folksy traditional “Hello, friends”, to the always awkward post-tournament sit-down in Butler cabin.

No golf tournament captures the very essence of what the Masters brings, not just as a golf tournament but as a cultural event. Is it because it’s the first major of the year? Is it because with all its beauty and azaleas bursting forth in a rainbow of colors it signifies winter is over and a new golf year beckons? Is it because of the way Augusta National Golf Club sturdily hangs on to tradition, from the ceremonial tee offs on Thursday to the green jacket presentation on Sunday, when all around everything seems to be going to $hit? Or maybe it’s simply because this is the one major that’s played at the same place, at the same time of year, every year. Regardless, it’s my favorite major, and I’m guessing if you were to poll professional golfers everywhere it’s the one major the vast majority would long to capture above all others.

Lots of folks have their own ideas, my picks for the green jacket could come from any of the below five, not in any particular order:

1. Adam Scott
2. Bubba Watson
3. Jordan Speith
4. Sergio Garcia
5. Rory McIlroy

It ought to be a great week. Masters weekend is always a special weekend in the Richard household. As usual, Tracey and I have our Masters viewing plans set in stone. She’ll be rooting for Phil Mickelson, but, frankly, I don’t see him standing a chance this year – I’m afraid Phil’s moment in the sunshine has come and gone. On Saturday I’ll be making a full breakfast complete with mimosas; on Sunday it will be the same thing, except for the Bloody Marys.

It’s Masters week – bring it on!

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 00:51 | Comments (2)

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