Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Big Changes in 2009!

Some of my New Year's Resolutions:

--- Go Yanks - The Yanks signed three free agents - I smell title #27 in '09.

--- Gobama - We have a democratic controlled government - I have my fingers crossed that Obama's platform of change works. If not - vote the bastards out next time. President Palin - No! Please God!

--- Enlightenment - Time to stay in control - once more resolution number one is to relax a little and find some patience somewhere. Yet I'm thinking - when I relax, I lose my edge, and when I lose my edge I'm fairly ineffective. Patience versus a potential heart attack - there has to be middle ground.

--- Stephen King Here I Come - Write even more! Always a grand resolution, but I had three books out this year and a highly therapeutic blog - don't know if I can write any more - honestly.

--- Lose weight! F---k it! I love stuffed peppers and pasta and steak, and ribs, and egg sandwiches, and subs - God I love subs. Perhaps I'll just shoot for say a 8,000 calorie a day diet.

Reminds me of a story about Willie Nelson - He built his own golf course and he was walking with a reporter - he said "The best thing about my own golf course is that I can set par on every hole. For instance this hole here would normally be a par 4, but I made it a par 9 on my course, and yesterday I birdied the bastard."

I set a 8,000 calorie diet - I'll be under that - on most days.

--- Save Money! Yeah, in this economy? With three kids on 8,000 calorie a day diets - good luck!

--- Drink less! See above and throw in a wife.

--- All you need is love, love, love - Stay close with real friends, hang with the family, refrain from being a special guest on 48 Hours Mystery, play with the dogs, beat the kids on the Wii, kiss the wife more, swear off yelling to get a point across - all these are sound principles designed to bring me love and adulation.

--- Laugh More! - I love a good joke and a sharp comedy - worse comes to worse I'll watch Stepbrothers again.

--- Stay hard, stay hungry, stay alive..... my three main wishes for '09 with staying alive being the most important - we already know about the hungry part!

Happy New Year!

Not An Option

The end of the year lends itself into taking stock of all that has happened, and by all accounts, 2008 has been one hell of a confusing ride. From the election on through Sarah Palin (she's a grandma now - congrats) to Obama bowling a 37 (I can beat that by thirty), through the economic mess, and my new-found fascination with 48 Hours Mystery - I'm left wondering where everything has gone wrong.

The first story I read today was about the Santa Claus killer who incinerated 9 of his relatives. My second story was about the Florida woman who went overboard on a cruise as her husband waited 8 hours to report it and supposedly went gambling to expunge his grief. Nancy Grace will have a field day with that one.

And it occurred to me that it appears that the way out of a crap situation is to kill your way out. The crime stats say that violent crimes are down, but man, there seems to be a ton of sensationalistic murders. There are wars raging all the world over, and there's a sense of holding our collective breath as we wait for the next terrorist attack to hit - whether here or in India, or London.

There's so much to get us confused, and if 2008 tells us anything it might be that there's another catastrophe waiting just around the corner from the last one.

Yet I always wondered what it might be like if every person in the world got out of bed and made a promise not to kill anyone today. Has there ever been a day when all of humanity made such a pledge? Is that such a huge promise to keep?

I'm not cynical when I suggest that there will never be such a day, yet when we pray for peace on earth, isn't it really just that simple?

Usually the 48 Hours Mystery begins with a married couple in wedded bliss. The remaining spouse (usually the husband) tells of the love in the marriage and how wonderful life appeared to be. Somewhere along the line the music changes, and we hear about the disconnect. Then we are introduced to the murder and the clues left sloppily at the scene.

"You think he did it?" my wife asks.
"Uh, huh," I answer cynically and all the while I wonder why killing is an option.

The one gift we are granted is life. It's a gift granted to each of us, regardless of who we meet and what we choose to do with our lives. To have it snuffed out at the discretion of another is mind-blowing to me. Yet it's there in the news every day and we are fascinated by the spectacle.

I'm just not sure what to make of any of it. A mother killing her daughter and discarding her by the side of the road? Santa shooting an 8-year-old in the face? Mindless bombings of innocent people? A wife "thrown" overboard?

Long ago I read something that someone once said about murder. "If we want to expunge murder, we first need to rid of ourselves of the fascination of it."

Perhaps one of my goals of '09 is to stop reading about murder and to stop watching it brought to me with commercial interruptions.

I just don't know much about anything - 2008 has taught me that - but I do know that killing another person is simply not an option - I just wish every other man or woman shared my desire for peace.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Back to Work

There are so many people talking about losing their jobs and potentially not having anywhere to turn that it was a real pleasure to get up and go to work today.

Besides, my ears are raw from listening to the kids talk non-stop for quite a few days in a row - not that I'd ever complain about that.

I'm sure it was weird for the kids to see me around and completely attentive for the past week or so. We had a Wii shuffleboard tournament that nearly brought the house down yesterday and I learned, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I can't hang with any of them in XBox hockey. I was soundly smoked by anyone who wanted to play me. It's hell getting old.

We're still staring straight into the face of New Year's Celebrations, but for all intents and purposes it feels like its back to business as usual.

What did I miss while I was away?

The crazed man in the Santa suit that killed his entire family and burned down the house and shot himself to death. Just horrifying - and equally horrifying are the people who never saw it coming. The man shot an 8-year-old girl in the face when she answered the door.

In Philly one man shot another man who was talking too loud during a movie. I suppose that's one way of handling it.

We have more war raging in the Middle East. Seems to me that we didn't really dwell on the Peace on Earth theme this year.

In any regard, I'm back at it, feeling refreshed, but a little concerned about what 2009 will bring.

I guess what I will dwell on most of all is not the crazed Santa or the rude movie-goer, but the fact that I can't beat even my 8-year-old in a game of shuffleboard.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Creek is Rising

All righty then... handled the flood in the basement with a sense of humor and compete determination. Went to bed tired and sore, but it was a good tired, you know? Woke early with a renewed resolve.

I Should have stayed in bed.

For those of you who don't understand my mechanical incompetence, pay attention here. I got the dogs outside easily enough, but coming back up the stairs noticed that the light was flickering in the hallway. Being proactive, I decided to change the light bulb and score points for my diligence. How many writers does it take to change a light bulb? Obviously more than one.

I dropped the light cover, shattering it on the steps below, but I did change the bulb, and the wet-dry vac was handy so I plugged it in and started cleaning the steps before the kids came down in bare feet. Plugging in the vacuum with the humidifier and the heater working blew a fuse. No idea how to fix that, so I got down on my hands and knees to clean up the glass.

Kathy was in another part of the house unaware of my little adventure, so I left the house to get the newspaper. The wind was whipping the garbage container around, so I took it to the road and away from the house. The wind whipped the cover open and a full bag of garbage broke open and debris scattered through the neighborhood.

"I'll just get the paper, get a cup of coffee, and relax a minute," I told my beating heart.

I made the quarter-mile drive to the store, feeling something wet on the steering wheel - I had cut a finger on my right hand and the DNA was on the steering wheel and three of my other fingers. I paid the clerk with my left hand.

By the time I got home, the lights in all areas of the house flickered on and off. Kathy found the broken light cover. The dogs needed to come in the house.

"What the hell are you doing?" Kathy asked.

"Going back to bed," I said. "Good luck cleaning up."

So, I've been banished from helping out. I'll chip in by getting dinner ready, going to church, and doing the dishes.

They're calling for rain the rest of the day...

Saturday, December 27, 2008

If You Wait Long Enough...

...God will provide an answer.

Woke up this morning feeling refreshed after a long day of doing pretty much nothing. As I showered (there's an image for you) I thought of how I'd like to spend my day. I had dreamed of playing basketball with some friends and my mind centered on that as I convinced myself that I'd find some exercise, somehow today. We weren't scheduled to sign up for the YMCA for a couple of weeks, so I was on my own.

As I dressed I thought about jogging around the block - it was raining hard - so that was out. I thought about the treadmill in our basement buried beneath God knows what in our "storage" room. That was also most likely out.

Yet suddenly, I heard my wife call out. "We have a flood," she yelled.

"We have a flood" might be the four worst words in the language.

"How bad?" I asked.

"Pretty bad," she calmly replied.

So, ten minutes into the day, I was shoveling water out the front door. The pump had finally kicked on, but I needed to help it. I shoveled for a solid ten minutes, Kathy started the wet-dry-vac, and we worked to clear the water. The kids were snuggled in their beds, and we worked.

I thought of a similar flood years ago when the kids were just babies and how I had exploded in a blind rage, wondering why the hell we couldn't keep water from entering our basement. As we all know, I'm not real handy, but millions of people were keeping water out of their basements, how hard could it be? Plus, two babies and too much to do on that day sent me into a fury.

Today, I shoveled, I vacuumed, I took garbage out, moved the furniture, and whistled while I did it.

It wasn't the end of the world. The muscles I had wanted to work were screaming at me. And what was this? Sweat? How could that be?

It took us a couple of hours to get the water out and set the carpets to drying.

"Well, you got a little exercise," Kathy said.

I hadn't even told her about my plan for the day.

Ask and God shall provide.

It was very biblical of Him to send a flood.

Friday, December 26, 2008

And So It Ends

One woman in the grocery store was complaining about the length of the Christmas season - "I can't wait 'till it's over," she moaned.

Well it feels a bit like it's over today. My head was real cloudy when I woke up this morning - perhaps from the wild celebration at my out-laws last night, that concluded with me and the boys singing Badlands on the Karaoke machine (I always wanted to be a rock and roller - judging by the crowd reaction and the couple of photos I saw - Bruce might be better at me in his job - then again, he never could have eaten and drank what I put away).

"You want to take the kids bowling?" one of my buddies asked.

"Uh, no freaking way," may have been the not so polite way of answering him - yet I was done. I didn't even want to walk to the mailbox to retrieve the mail today.

The afternoon nap was longer than two hours. Dinner will be a leftover party. Tonight's entertainment will be whatever doesn't offend me on television, and tomorrow may well be much of the same.

"Are you tired?" I asked Kathy - who did a lot of the heavy lifting during this holiday season.

"Uh, yeah," she said.

And so it ends, I have 42 photos of the kids unwrapping presents; I received enough new clothes to not get arrested for loitering in the upcoming year; I have this extra weight that I'm carrying around - who knows if it'll ever go away; I'll be rooting hard for guys named CC, AJ, and Tex.

Yet I also have a mindful of memories and new stories to tell that come with hanging around people that I love - ask me about watching my Dad open a present and our subsequent discussion (it was worth every dime spent this year and not quite appropriate for this rated PG blog)- and that is where it does begin and end.

Christmas '08 is in the books and while it wasn't free of an inter-family squabble here or there - it was pretty much perfect from where I'm sitting.

Now if I can only get rid of the acid-feeling in my stomach from the stuffed peppers and the shot of Crown...ah, living and loving.... it comes with a price.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

It's Just What I Wanted

How fortunate am I to be able to watch my children open up their presents each year and exclaim that whatever gift they got is exactly what they had their heart set on?

For me,there is plenty to be thankful for, and I could handle that without even opening one present. I'm thankful that my wife can do the wrapping. I'm thankful that I still have a job to go to so that we can make the kids smile. I'm real happy that I'm a Yankee fan and that this year we got three presents instead of the usual two.

All of it aside, I couldn't help but think of homes where the celebration isn't so pronounced. We spent Christmas Eve with my parents and brother and sisters, and by the end of the night, my face hurt from laughing. How fortunate am I to have my parents around to share my children with?

Today we're going to the out-laws, as my Uncle Jim calls them, and there will be more of a celebration and a lot more laughs. While it was a year of challenges, it was also a year of togetherness, and I rue the day when I forget how lucky we are to all still be here, relatively healthy, and with a ton of food waiting in the other room.

I ran into a guy on a job the other day and I made a passing comment about how I wish he gets what he wants for Christmas - this guy was about twenty, and he sort of snorted when I said it.

"We stopped getting presents in my family when we turned ten. My father thought it was all nonsense."

"Wow, that's weak," I said.

"It's just another day," he answered. "It's a day off without pay for me. We aren't all as lucky as you are," he finished.

"No, I guess you're not," I thought as I walked away, but I couldn't help but think of him this morning as I opened a gift from the boys.

Hopefully somebody got that kid something he wanted today.

Merry Christmas! Remember - God gave me everything I want, but it's always fun to open a gift.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

We're Almost There

Ah, anticipation. Christmas Eve always brings that feeling along with it - we're almost to the big day, Family, love, the perfect moment, the presents, the food, the beer. I slept lousy last night and I believe that some of it has to do with waiting for the moment to finally arrive.

There was a Christmas long ago when my sister and I decided we could no longer wait -we woke up in the middle of the night to see if Santa showed - it was never fully guaranteed when we were kids, and not because my parents couldn't afford it, but because our behavior was borderline psychotic.

Anyway, Corinne and I burst on the scene and rather than being loud, we simply played with our toys - I even broke one - before my mother discovered us. Once the other kids got up Corinne and I were made to sit and wait for an hour while they played - there was certainly anticipation in that hour!

Now I consider the anticipation in my kids - they're ready, they're wishing it was Thursday morning, but the number one lesson in life is never to wish time away - enjoy each day - try telling that to children's waiting on presents.

Yet anticipation became something all new for me - the word doesn't bring up Christmas Eve anymore. Instead, I think of the anticipation that went into my children being born. I had been awake all night waiting for the moment - you can say it was more about Kathy than me, but she got a solid six hours as I waited.

In the delivery room everyone was calling out that it was almost time, and we waited and waited. It was real important to have the baby delivered on time in Sam's case because the Yankee game was starting.

The game started at 2:05 - Sam arrived at 2:09. Good boy!

Anyway, I think of each birth and the moment of absolute happiness that followed. In that moment, there is perfect love, and happiness and the world seems to make a little bit of sense. In that exact split-second of time, mother, father and new family member understand what it means to be alive.

In the anticipation of Christmas Eve it is easy to forget about the birth of a child - in the case of Jesus - brought to me by the nuns (sometimes accompanied with a swift kick) I am reminded that the anticipation I feel is for the entire universe, and what that birth meant to the entire family of people still living, breathing, and dying.

So, I suppose, as you wait, you consider the true gifts of Christmas. I need to make sauce, stuff some peppers, have a few drinks, laugh with family members, watch the children go crazy, spend some time with my wife, all in anticipation...

Anticipation of what is really important.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Birthday, Soda

Whenever I think of my father's birthday, I consider a few stories where he laughed hard at our relationship.

I had a college buddy who got sick of hearing people from other parts of the country make fun of him for calling the soft drink, Pop, as we do here in Buffalo.

"I call my father, pop," one of his critics said.
"Well, I call my father, Soda," Rosie answered.

I told my father that story about twenty years ago, and he reminded me of it the other day.

Then there was the trip home from Connecticut about twenty winters ago. It was just me and Soda and the wind was whipping the snow all around I-90. The car he was driving, my old black Capri - which he affectionately called the crappy - was dying every few minutes. We were in some real trouble as we were hundreds of miles from home.

Now those of you who know me well understand that I have no mechanical aptitude whatsoever - I'm lucky if I know where the windshield washer fluid goes if I'm fortunate enough to open the hood. Anyway, after the car stalled for the 10th time, my father, on his birthday, turned to me.

"The solenoid is bad," he said as he went to sip his coffee.
"That's what I was thinking," I responded.

He spit coffee all over the front windshield.

A couple of years earlier, on my birthday, I was talking on the phone with my college friend, Lisa, who coincidentally shares her birthday with my father. Soda went to the oven to baste the turkey when pan and all, it slipped out of the oven and hit the floor. The juice from the pan spilled on the floor, and my father, in a desperate attempt to save everything, ended up in the center of the kitchen floor with the turkey sliding on by. Thankfully, my brother Jim was there because the three of us have laughed for twenty years at the sight of my father flat on his back.

The turkey was saved, but as we were eating it, my father said - "you better eat it all, I broke my ass making it."

The third story that always seems to come up was of a time when I was a strapping lad of 17 - all right, I know what you're saying - I was strapping - compared to now.

Anyway, I was working as a construction laborer in California, and my father was dressed in a suit walking by with about seven other big shots. I got to the end of the ramp with my mobile garbage cart, saw my dad, and attempted to wave, calling out his name.

I ended up in the dumpster, on top of my cart and I distinctly heard my father tell the gathering, "I don't know who that stupid son-of-a-bitch is."

Through the years, we've laughed a lot - and I hope we have about fifty more years to share our stories.

Have a good day, Soda!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Steal a Little

I'm trying to get into the Christmas Spirit here, but seven feet of freaking snow has put a damper on things. Bing Crosby and his cute little White Christmas song - I'd like to kick his ass.

Yet what really frosted me this morning was the news on some of the companies involved in the bailout and the bonuses they still distributed to their top executives.

The headline screamed: Banks involved in the bailout awarded their top employees $1.6billion in bonuses.

Now I have always had a soft spot in my heart for people who can't afford to live or buy a house. A lot of people explain that they should just get off their asses and go to work. Agreed - but these people? These people accepting bonus money from the taxpayers when they know they bungled the whole mess?

Bob Dylan once sang - "Steal a little and they throw you in jail; steal a lot and they make you a king."

Let's break it down a bit - perhaps I'm misunderstanding how hard these guys really work:

The Chairman of Capitol One received a $17 million bonus. Capitol One had to be bailed out to the tune of $3.56 billion. He must have received his bonus because he did such a good job in keeping them from hitting $4 billion in the red.

Another top executive received $846,000 in relocation expenses when he was forced to move from Pittsburgh to New York. Isn't that about an 8-hour trip? What did they move him in a gold-covered caravan?

The poor fellow from Bank of NY Mellon received a $7.5 million bonus - guess the kids can get that PSP they had their eye on - to top it off - his car and driver expenses for the year totaled $180,000.

The CEO of Merrill Lynch received an $83 million bonus. Now, I've worked with laborers who've had to dig a ditch a mile long, plumbers who were covered in crap to the elbows, roofers who burn in the summer and freeze in the winter - unless they had this guy in a dungeon somewhere, strung up by his toenails, I'm thinking the $83 mil was overkill.

And isn't that the crux of the problem? Wasn't the bailout supposed to help us - the common men - how do you have the gall to award yourself such a tremendous windfall - and this is after all the shit went down! How many people used their parachutes before the market collapsed. How many people cry that if the rich are allowed to keep their money they will make it easier for the rest of us idiots to get a job? Redistributuion of the wealth? I'm all for it after hearing this crap.

Bob Dylan saw this coming way before the rest of us.

Please! Don't tell me the homeless are lazy people unworthy of our pity - these CEO's are disgusting people who wouldn't know hard work if it bit them in the ass.

That's just my opinion today - this snow has me cranky.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ahead Of My Time

I see that Burger King has come up with a cologne that smells like meat. I've been carrying that scent around for quite some time. Actually, it seems strange to me - what size girl is one trying to catch with a meat-smelling cologne? Gives a whole new meaning to smelling delicious, I suppose.

Actually I had a close friend ask me if I carry garlic around in my pocket to ward off vampires - being of Italian descent that was sort of a compliment - can't get enough garlic.

I can't see outside my window right now - another Buffalo Sunday - too bad the Bills weren't home this week - this is the kind of weather that enhances our National reputation. The Bills had a lovely season, by the way, can't wait for Ralph to start asking for a handout.

The kids are not quite as wound up about Christmas and I believe it is the lost touch with Santa thing that is holding them back. Matt and Jake have long since figured it all out and I'm not sure that Sam ever fully bought the story. He sort of figured out long ago that Rudolph was a farce and his pointed questions showed that he wasn't really into the games. It's sort of a shame though because we have lost a bit of leverage - Santa's watching is greeted with a wink and a nod.

So, what to do with a day when we are stuck in the house all day long. Movies, football, video games - church was even shut-down so we may watch it on the tube.

Oh well, perhaps I'll just slap on a little meat cologne and see what comes chasing.

Not a lot, I'm guessing - the dogs will certainly hang around though.

You've got to be kidding!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

I Miss John Candy

I loved that movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles - some of it was filmed in Gowanda, New York - about ten miles from where I grew up. Much of the movie was based on the fact that weather played a part in Steve Martin and John Candy not being able to make it home for the holidays. The greatest scene in that movie is when Steve Martin lectures Candy about telling stories that have a point - "It keeps people interested," is one of the funniest lines ever - I use it all the time.

Anyway, I played the John Candy part yesterday.

I was in Syracuse as the storm rolled across the East coast - it's just 140 miles away and I usually make the journey in two hours and six minutes - door-to-door. I didn't exactly beat my record yesterday.

I left the 'Cuse at 11:15 AM just as the snow began - and I drove straight into the teeth of the damn thing. I've never been a good snow driver, and it got worse a couple of years ago when I crossed the Thruway and was struck by a little Japanese car - since then - I drive like my grandmother might have - thirty with the hazards on, and people sounding their horns all around.

So, I did that for 50 miles or so - and in complete white-out conditions - I found an exit. Thankful, I jumped from my car and went into McDonald's for lunch - I hate McDonald's, but what can you do? I had lunch, and then decided to enjoy the storm - I walked to a strip mall and did a little shopping. I read the baseball news (keep spending cash Yanks! - it helps the economy) and I just wandered around like a bag lady for a little while. The snow finally let up a bit around three - so I decided to try it again.

Just a couple of problems - remember the hazard light? I never turned it off. So, with my keys nestled in the cup holder (I could see them through the window) I punched in my code on the door unlock - nothing! I went back into Mickey D's - got some warm water and poured it over the keypad - still nothing! I begged for a lighter inside to warm up the pad - uh, zippo.

So, I headed back inside and admitted that my car was locked and the keys were inside - there wasn't anyone willing to help - "If we even give you so much as a coat hangar you can sue us if the door gets damaged," the pimple-faced manager told me. I tried contacting the Sheriff's office - "4-hour wait," I was told. I called a locksmith - he could get to me in 3.5 hours.

Bitch! I stood outside by the car, placing my frozen hand over the keypad to see if I could warm up the damn thing - time went by. I called my wife - she gave me the combination to the keypad as though I might have forgotten it - "Thanks anyway," I said. "Find a hotel," she advised.

Then, out of the snow came a solitary figure - just a real old man, with a worried look on his face - "Locked out?"

"Yeah, shit, piss, son-of-a-bitching bastard," I said.

The old bat actually pulled a slim-jim out of his coat - "I'll give it a shot," he said.

Three minutes later, the door was open, and the old man disappeared before I could even thank him.

Yet the door wasn't frozen as I'd thought. The battery had died because I had left the freaking hazard light on! "Shit, piss, son-of-a-bitching bastard."

I hung out for a few more minutes, with the hood of my car open - finally another old man stopped and jumped the car for me.

It was now 5:15 - six hours in - with 90 miles to go.

I made it home at 7:30 PM and began my Kitty Dukakis impression - drinking everything in the house that had alcohol in it.

I felt a lot like John Candy at the end of the movie.

"Shit, piss, son-of-a-bitching bastard."

At least the dogs were thrilled to see me.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Job to Do

I had to drive a long ways yesterday to get to where I was needed for my job. Of course, driving leads to thinking, thinking leads to pain, pain leads to depression and there were just so many what-if's in my head. What-if I didn't do my job correctly on any given day. Who WGAF? My client, I suppose, and then my boss when my client griped, then my wife when things fell apart. So, I did my job. Yet I also did it because I care about putting forth a solid effort each and every day.

I started thinking about the people who don't go above and beyond each day. I thought about the people at the hospital - there was a huge difference in the nurse's abilities to care for my brother. There was a nurse who worked so hard that she could have pulled off wearing a sign on her back that said best nurse ever. Then there were others who couldn't be bothered to even stop by every hour or so. Those are the one's who were targets of my anger as I drove.

We all have jobs to do in every given day. A lot of the jobs are not what we would like to be doing, but they need to get done, right? We need to be on to keep from upsetting the old apple cart.

I hate cleaning the dog crap out of the backyard, but if I didn't do it, the kids might play in it, so out it must go. I'm not a huge fan of laundry but every other day, doing it as a team with my wife, at least does the trick.

As I've said much of my drive time was centered on what-ifs. I believe that if all those who cared for Jeff would have done their jobs to the best of their abilities then he'd be rehabbing now. If if's and buts were candy and nuts.

Oh well, it's real early, I'm out of bed, and I'm ready for a very long day. I'll get it all done today and tomorrow will bring more challenges, but no matter what, I'll bring it all today - you never know who's counting on you to get it done right.

A Job to Do

I had to drive a long ways yesterday to get to where I was needed for my job. Of course, driving leads to thinking, thinking leads to pain, pain leads to depression and there were just so many what-if's in my head. What-if I didn't do my job correctly on any given day. Who WGAF? My client, I suppose, and then my boss when my client griped, then my wife when things fell apart. So, I did my job. Yet I also did it because I care about putting forth a solid effort each and every day.

I started thinking about the people who don't go above and beyond each day. I thought about the people at the hospital - there was a huge difference in the nurse's abilities to care for my brother. There was a nurse who worked so hard that she could have pulled off wearing a sign on her back that said best nurse ever. Then there were others who couldn't be bothered to even stop by every hour or so. Those are the one's who were targets of my anger as I drove.

We all have jobs to do in every given day. A lot of the jobs are not what we would like to be doing, but they need to get done, right? We need to be on to keep from upsetting the old apple cart.

I hate cleaning the dog crap out of the backyard, but if I didn't do it, the kids might play in it, so out it must go. I'm not a huge fan of laundry but every other day, doing it as a team with my wife, at least does the trick.

As I've said much of my drive time was centered on what-ifs. I believe that if all those who cared for Jeff would have done their jobs to the best of their abilities then he'd be rehabbing now. If if's and buts were candy and nuts.

Oh well, it's real early, I'm out of bed, and I'm ready for a very long day. I'll get it all done today and tomorrow will bring more challenges, but no matter what, I'll bring it all today - you never know who's counting on you to get it done right.

Senior Citizen Discount?

On the road, a little tired, and certainly looking beat-up, I had dinner at Denny's. I was served by a young, perky girl, probably no more than twenty-five. She was extremely cooperative and shied away when I just wanted to read the sports section.

The problem came at the end of the meal when very politely she asked me if I was eligible for the senior citizen's discount.

"Come on," I said.

"I have to ask if it looks close," she said. Her face was turning three different shades of red.

Close? Close? I'm 16 years away! I'm only 23 years away from being old enough to drink.

"I'm sorry," the girl said.

"It's all right," I said. "I can't rewrite history."

Speaking of rewriting history, what is up with George W? Last week I defended him against the guy who tossed his shoes at him, but today, I'm kind of thinking of lobbing my Nike's in his direction.

In one speech he exclaimed what a great idea that Iraq had been - he went into his 'we need to fight them there so we don't fight them here' garbage - and then explained that Al Qaida in Iraq had to be controlled - that is a rewrite - they weren't there until you opened the gates.

Then today I read a report about his accomplishment of stopping terrorist attacks with his pre-emptive strike. Haven't there been about ten such attacks in India, London, etc...

Certainly there haven't been any here, but who was in charge during 9/11?

The whirlwind tour by Bush is a direct attempt to try and save his legacy.

33 days left - stay inside - people don't want to have to be forced to take off their shoes.

Ah well, Bush had a better day than me.

Senior Citizen Discount, my ass!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What Kind of Man Indeed?

Every night I pass by the television as Kathy keeps an eye on the case of the missing Florida girl, Caylee. It's a horribly sad story that actually turns my stomach when I consider the circumstances.

Yesterday they finally placed the blame on the man who murdered and decapitated Adam Walsh in 1981. His father, who started America's Most Wanted, and really spearheaded a lot of efforts to find missing children, was shown in all the newspapers and on television. He said that he just wanted to know what kind of man could murder or decapitate a child.

Those of us who live in the real world couldn't possibly understand how such a mind works. Did that mother really kill Caylee? What were Adam Walsh's last moments like?

I suppose that it is too close to Christmas to consider such a tragic subject, but day after day, it's on Nancy Grace.

Just for curiosity sake, stop at your local rest stop and look at the faces of the missing persons. There are thousands and thousands of kids that disappear, and can you imagine the people who are preying on our children?

Jake has the stomach flu today. When I saw the hurt in his eyes when he couldn't hold down a glass of water, I wanted to take the flu from him, and beat the hell out of it myself.

What kind of a man, indeed, could watch, and even enjoy the suffering of a child?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

No! Not Manny!!!!

There are reports out there that the Yankees might be interested in Manny Ramirez. Please, God, let it be just a rumor. How would I possibly explain rooting for him? After all of these years of bashing him for being the dullest knife in the drawer, how could I possibly love him if he donned the pinstrips?

For all intents and purposes Manny is not a great leader, teammate, or role model. When he was with the Red Sox I rooted for him to be the world's biggest distraction. When he was traded to the Dodgers, I hoped that I would never see him play against the Yankees again.

Now they are talking about having him play for them?

Baseball, in the grand scheme of things is not very important, but I have always enjoyed watching the Yankees. Over the last 5 years or so my excitement for the games has been tempered by the fact that I didn't really love the players. I miss Bernie, I miss O'Neill and Cone, and Tino. When the boys were winning it all they were easy to love. When I didn't know how much money they made it was even more fun.

I spend all day telling my buddies about what a good guy Jeter is - and I still have Mariano and Posada.

Over time, I even grew to like Damon!

But Manny? Manny freaking Ramirez?

He would provide a lot of protection for Madonna's boyfriend though.

Monday, December 15, 2008

New England Book Festival

I've always enjoyed a good working relationship with my publisher - SterlingHouse out of Pittsburgh, Pa.

Recently we've been speaking about not writing so much and perhaps promoting the books a little more.

Well, we entered Nobody's Home in the New England Book Festival in the fiction category, and believe it or not, in a very competitive field - it received an honorable mention as one of the best entries.

I'm not sure how to digest the information, but of course, the ever-encouraging staff at SterlingHouse has congratulated me on the honor.

And it truly never occurred to me that I would have a chance to be honored for something that I wrote. So, maybe, I should feel proud?

Nobody's Home is a story based on a family that was ripped apart by the behavior of the unstable leader. It was a story that I needed to write, to gain an understanding of survival, love, and faith.

I still live about twenty miles where the story unfolded and one of the unbelievable aspects of the story is that the relatives have contacted me, asking me how I gathered all of the information about their lives.

I explained that the story was simply based on what I remembered as a child, but the family had been absolutely isolated from the situation (by the madman) and they are now reading the story as if it is what really happened inside their family.

I've always said that writing is about learning, and that reading something worthwhile is one of life's surest pleasures.

I've received notice for something I wrote.

Okay, I figured out how to feel - I am honored!

Thank you, SterlingHouse.

To order Nobody's Home (an award-winning book) call 1-888-542-2665.

Didn't think you'd get out without a sales pitch, did you?

A Christmas Play, Armageddon, and Ducking Shoes

This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine,

We went to the kids Christmas play at school - a mob scene of parents and kids singing songs - (at least Kathy wasn't singing along)and it thrilled me to no end to see the boys up there. I really enjoy seeing them out of the home element - they are respectful, courteous and friendly. Besides hearing Sam sing This Little Light is especially thrilling because all we want of our children is to give them a chance to shine their light on the world. By the way, Bruce sings This Little Light with the Seeger Sessions Band - about blew Sam's mind when he heard it.

Spent last evening at the Armageddon Wrestling matches: Uncle Chuck entertained the boys with me as the fireworks went off, the diva's wrestled in skimpy costumes, and the boys watched John Cena and Jeff Hardy win championships. What a business that is! 20,000 people jammed the place and most tickets ran between $50 and $150 - tough economic times, indeed.

Now I've always been a Bush basher - but to see someone hurl their shoes at the President of the United States was more than a little disconcerting. There should be common decency and respect for any human being - let alone the man who is still the leader of the free world. I ran into someone today who thought it was funny and wished that the guy had a little better aim.

As I've said - not a Bush fan - but that was pretty sickening.

This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine, everyday, everyday, everyday. Jesus gave me life, I'm going to let it shine. Yeah, Jesus gave me life, I'm going to let it shine.

Picture Sam singing it - never thought I'd say it - but he sings it better than Bruce.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Who's Better Off?

My favorite new philosopher Will Smith explained that we should begin our day by asking ourselves - "Who's better off because I woke up today."

I like the sentiment because it gets me out of the what can I do for myself frame of mind and forces me to think of those around me. For starters, the dogs are better off, for sure. They are waiting patiently now for their morning Cheerios and a trip to the backyard. (My God what that backyard must look like now - I'm thinking at least 3 hours of picking up crap).

The boys - we're going to the wrestling matches tonight with Uncle Chuck - I am anticipating a good 12-hour recap on who's going to be there and who will win the death matches. This discussion, of course, will be followed by 5 hours of wrestling with fireworks, threats, scantily-clad women in the ring (I didn't say it was all bad), and a midnight finish with work coming tomorrow.

Kathy? Of course- her day is always enriched when I get up and out of bed.

Yet what really is disheartening is if you think of Will Smith's deal from the other side. It must be a lonely proposition when you realize that your getting up on any given day doesn't really matter to anyone.

There I go putting the negative spin on it, right?

Well, no, I suppose. I'm actually thinking that if you do feel that way there are plenty of opportunities for you to make a difference, somewhere.

I'm writing this after reading about the man who swindled $50 billion off of Wall Street investors. I'm wondering how he could possibly look at himself in the mirror, knowing that he was doing so much wrong to so many innocent people.

What do people like that do? Remove their mirrors?

It's sounding like a windy day out there. The trip to get the morning paper doesn't exactly excite me right now as it's gotta' be cold.

Yet I feel pretty good rising up out of bed this morning because I'm not the world's number one movie star like Will Smith is, but I'm right there with him on who needs me to move around and be productive.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


From Dire Straits - I used to like to go to work, but they shut it down. I have a right to go to work, but there's no work here to be found.

That line has been buzzing around my head for the last few days - it's a quote in a great song from a great group, and it makes me think about the thousands and thousands of people who are now left out in the cold, wondering how life is going to change for them.

I was let go from just one job in all of my days, but I'll never forget how it made me feel. It happened on December 23rd in 1988, and I can remember the hollow feeling that Christmas brought that year. I had just spent every penny I had on Christmas gifts, and the credit card statement was still on the way.

I felt wronged, left behind, unsure about my ability to get things right, a little worried, and completely without an identity.

Which is how being 'let go' is designed to make you feel. No matter how many times people express that one door closing is an opportunity for another door to open, there is a feeling of discontent. There's certainly an opportunity to get lost inside yourself. Doubt creeps in. A fear of what is next is worrisome to anyone. Especially when you essentially did everything right.

And that time I was let go? I was working again, for another company, at the same site, three days later. I'll never forget the look on the face of the former boss when I showed up, in the same place, wearing someone elses hardhat. Was I bitter? Well, put it this way - my opening line to the former boss was - "Good morning, fat ass."

It is funny how people define themselves. We all have roles to play - currently my roles in this little play of life are defined as: Father, Husband, Son, Brother, Friend, American, Author, Worker.

In that order. It's not to say that I want to do any of my jobs poorly, but in the grand scheme of things being defined as a good worker is far down on the list in comparison to being known as a good father, or a good husband.

Maybe I don't have that quite right. We are all able to choose our own listing of priorities - I certainly know guys who would rather dominate in the business world much more than they would enjoy spending time with their children. Yet it is important not to lose sight of the fact that there are many roles for each of us to play, and that no job can clearly define you as a viable human being.

This economy surely will test us all. Story after story breaks your heart - there are people losing their life savings. There are people who are being forced out of their homes, and onto the street. The lines at the unemployment office are going out the door. It's hard times for an honest man.

Here's hoping and praying that those out there looking for work are doing so with their heads held high, and their true identities in tact. Remember too that being resilient is the true test of character. We are Americans. I refuse to believe that we won't figure this out and become productive again.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Second Life

The Jay Thomas Show provided me with a little more insight into a sickness that is plaguing married couples all across the land. It's a virtual computer game called Second Life in which participants enter a world where they establish a second existence, including being virtually married to a game partner, having virtual sex, planning a virtual family, and raising virtual kids.

Are you freaking kidding me?

This guy called in because his wife was spending hour after hour in this virtual world. She was receiving actual text messages, and phone calls from her virtual husband that wished her luck with her daily grind, and advice on her real life.

How in the world can you keep a virtual marriage going when you're screwing up the one in your real life? How can you keep a virtual spouse happy at the same time that you are trying to keep a real spouse interested?

It's tough enough to raise children in the real world - and now you're going to add in the worry of taking care of additional virtual kids? Can you love your virtual family as much as you love your real family - or vice-versa.

Hell, I can't even follow it all in this blog.

And the virtual sex. What is that like? Is that cheating?

The husband who had lost his wife to the game was in a virtual tizzy, explaining that his wife did nothing more than talk to her virtual husband through a microphone and the computer.

Good old Jay Thomas had some sound advice - "Join the game and virtually murder the guy who's sleeping with your wife."

I'm nearly done with work for the week - the boys will be home in a few minutes, and the tasks of getting set up for Christmas, and dinner, and cleaning and dogs out, and maybe a little relaxation, are all fighting for space inside my head.

I'm wondering how to keep the real wife and kids happy - what a cluster.... it would be if I had to mix in cyber-sex with another wife.

God help us all.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Drunk On Power

Can you believe this Illinois Governor? Bagadonuts or whatever the hell his name is- what kind of arrogant moron is he? And did anyone ever tell him that his hairpiece looks ridiculous? They should jail him just for coming out of the house with that on his head.

Heard today that CC Sabathia's new Yankee contract is worth the median American income for every inning he pitches! Every single inning represents him passing the average income of an American. Ah, misplaced priorities - you've got to love it. At least the Yankees have a lefty ace - miss the playoffs, my ass!

Yet this blog is about the entitlement and the people who seem to make so much money in such a short period of time that they believe they are above the law, above the rest of society, and above the rules of being a decent human being.

Having money and power does not entitle you to act like an ass, does it? Blagojevich wasn't even trying to be discreet. Flying into Congress to beg for money isn't exactly discretionary either.

I've met a few millionaires in my day - I didn't like very many of them. One man I worked for was an absolute zero even though he was worth millions. All of them shared one thing - a love of control, no matter who it was they were stepping on.

Perhaps it takes a certain type of person to become filthy rich beyond comprehension.

Seems to me that the person these people become isn't the person I want to be.

That sounds like a statement that Chrissy might have made in the old Three's Company Show - but you get my point.

C.C. you later.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

We're Moving On Up!

The buzz around the house the last couple of days is that we are moving to Chicago. Of course it is dictated by the steel plant closing down in Buffalo and my wife's opportunity to relocate under the shutdown plan.

I find the overall dynamic to be interesting. The kids are ready to go, fired up about a possible adventure in a land unknown. They see Chicago as a sort of graceland with endless possibilities of excitement and fun. They are already looking at the schedules of the Bears, the Bulls, the Cubs, and the White Sox. Little do they know that we live about a mile from Ralph Wilson Stadium and that I wouldn't go to a Bills game unless someone paid me my hourly wage.

My wife, of course, is fueling the debate, realizing that it is fun to dream, and responsible to keep all options open - she has been seriously scanning the Internet for available housing.

"There's a big house with a nice backyard for the dogs, and a basketball court," Sam told me excitedly.

Uh, we have all of those things.

"People are actually working and living and having fun in Chicago, Buffalo is dead," Jake reminded me.

There is also endless traffic, millions of people fighting for space, and a whole new world that we know little about.

"There's a chance to double your salary, and more options for the kids to get an education. The taxes are lower, and beer flows from the faucets all day long," Kathy tried.

And there is starting over, and moving, and meeting new people, and working for new bosses, and the cost of living is higher, and the freaking people - too many freaking people!

I'm like that Johnny Cash song - "I've been everywhere" - I've been to California, Baltimore, Florida, Chicago, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Ohio, Canada, Nebraska, Iowa, North Dakota, Minnesota, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, DC, Georgia - and every place in between - and through it all - through all of the extended stays - I've always returned to Buffalo, and it is in the top ten biggest shitholes I've ever been!

Why did I always return? Not the Bills - not the Sabres - not the chance to make an endless supply of money - and not for the snow or unbearably long winters.

Actually, I don't know why.

"There's a golf course real close to the house we looked at," Kathy said.

And there's no one there to play with - no Popple, no Cataldo, no brothers, or Renaldo, no Mom, no Dad, no sisters, no friends.

Ah, now I know why I've always come back.

Stay tuned - we'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Shut Out the Lights

One company after another seems to be pulling the plug right now. Hell, the NFL laid off some of their employees at the league offices. Airlines, automotive plants, banks, credit unions, small companies, large companies - everyone is ready to close the door on their employees, on their business, and on any future business. The national unemployment figures are at their highest since the Great Depression.

My grandparents lived through the Great Depression - my grandfather told the story of painting outhouses to put food on the table. I can't paint and as far as I know, there aren't any more outhouses in need of painting.

Are some of the people in power over-reacting? Will the economy get worse before it gets better? Don't these bail-outs with all the money attached help at all?

My wife's place of work is pulling the plug, and after 15 years, she will be let go along with hundreds of others. It was a job she worked hard at, and did real well, and despite the fact that she gave it her all - she's being sent packing. It's a hard lesson to teach the kids - "Get up, go to work, work hard, and get kicked the hell out."

Sure there are no guarantees in life, and those who want to work will find an opportunity, but in Western New York - and in a lot of other places in this great country - wanting a job is no guarantee that the one you find will match your talents.

I'm tired of kicking George Bush - I probably am wrong blaming him and his cronies for everything, but how does everything on your watch shit the bed?

Perhaps it all will get better in the not-to-distant-future. Maybe the American people will dig in their heels and come up with a long-term solution. Perhaps we'll travel down the road and find a big bag of money somewhere.

Day in and day out, people get up every morning, put in their time, and try to find a decent life for themselves and their families.

And now, every few minutes someone walks out of a building that used to be alive with production, and just before leaving they reach to the right of the door and shut out the lights - forever?

God, I hope not.

Never had less faith in the system then I do today.

Close the Shade!

Each and every morning is the same. Some might even say that I have a touch of Sheldon, of The Big Bang Theory in me.

I get out of bed, let the dogs out, get the kid's lunches ready - for tomorrow! - pour a cup of coffee, make fun of Matt regarding the most-recent Bills or Sabres loss, and head off into Sam's room.

He always pretends that he's still asleep, which allows me to pick on him about his bed-time being too late - then he snaps up and tells me he was just faking it. And that's when I do it - I open his window shade to look outside.

Seems as if Sam has a routine of his own - he walks around the house every evening and makes sure that the shades are closed on every window - so the robbers can't look in.

"Oh my God, look at the snow!" I yell. "There can't be any school today."

Yet Sam is beyond being fooled by this - I'd already tricked him before - including declaring a snowstorm in May that made him jump out of bed. Not today.

He closes the shade in one deft pull. I wait a few seconds, engage him in a conversation about school, and open it again.


It's just a matter of two routines clashing. I just hope and pray that it is the only real routine he has to follow - otherwise he'll be a haunted mess like me!

15 shopping days left!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Homer Simpson is Right Again

With great anticipation the boys and I watched the new Simpson's episode - mind you it was coming immediately following the Bills latest stinko effort in Toronto. The two items are linked as you shall see.

In the episode of the Simpson's billionaire Monty Burns buys a basketball team and wipes out a conservatory to do so - his great line is "Pave this place as god intended."

The team bombs and bees take over the joint, but not before Homer says - "We need a billionaire to hold up our town for public funds so a bunch of millionaires can play."

The Bills were playing in Toronto because the millions they made here off the sweat of the people in Buffalo is no longer enough. It doesn't matter that all of the games have been sold out since about 1990. It doesn't matter that it's $35 to park and $8 a beer. The billionaire owner is fed-up with the poor economic state of the city - and this 90-year-old maniac spent $10,000 for a team now worth $800 million!

So - they moved a game to Toronto where it was met by indifference and a closed roof - and the Bills stunk up the joint.

A reporter for the Buffalo News asked the owner, after the game, if he was embarrassed by the team. The owner laughed - he freaking laughed - and said - "I'm used to it."

I'm a very proud Yankee fan and I take heat for that - but if the Yankee owner ever laughed about being embarrassed like that - the New Yorkers would burn the stadium down - and 9 years of absolutely no playoffs would not be tolerated. Say what you want - there is usually a competitive team on the field in NY.

I just can't understand it anymore - people stand on line for tickets, or to catch a glimpse of the so-called superstar millionaires who spend the off-season raping, running down, and bad-mouthing the city of Buffalo.

There's a breaking story that the Sabres may be for sale.

Please god, for the economic sanity of the region please let it be the Bills - take them Toronto - you can pay the $350 a ticket to watch them.

I've been done for quite awhile and hopefully a lot of others will join me.

Leave it to Homer to talk some sense.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Isn't That Baby Cute?

There was a beautiful baby girl in the pew in front of us. She was dressed all in pink, and was smiling wide in the arms of her mother, father and grandmother. I was sitting three kids away from Kathy, but I could almost hear what she needed to say about the baby.

"Isn't that baby cute? Don't you want another one?"

Well, I certainly can appreciate a cute baby, but the answer to question number two is a resounding NO!

Another baby? I'm 44 - I'm tired. I've been tired since the mid-80's.

It's funny, but a mother can look at someone elses baby and get all emotional about the potential of the child, how the top of its head smells, and how cool it would be to take care of it, nurse it, and watch it grow.

A father looks at the baby, and then gazes at the poor bastard husband who more than likely got crap on his hand the last time he attempted to change the diaper.

I see a baby and I think of Jake knocking a hot cup of coffee out of my hand and onto his arm on the first morning when Kathy attempted to sleep in. I screamed, the baby cried, and the coffee didn't even strike as much as a glancing blow. Jake was calmed down before I was.

When I think of the smell of a baby - it isn't the top of his head I'm thinking about - it's the stomach churning smell of milk vomit on the back of my hand.

When I see babies, I no longer think of potential - I initially dreamed of having one of my children as the president of the United States - won't happen, I've met all three of them - now I just have a fund for bail money.

About a third of the way through mass the adorable baby started crying - I watched the panic on her father's face as he handed off the child as though she were a football.

The mother did the cradle rock on her left hip, and smiled at her husband. It might have been a cute family moment, but I understood what that smile meant to dad - it was a smile of failure as the wife nodded the acknowledgement that he had botched his attempt at helping out.

The husband smiled back and nodded - it was a nod of - who gives a shit, I ain't holding the baby anymore.

Isn't that cute?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Wrap it Up

My role in Christmas is getting less and less every year. A few years ago Kathy gave me a list of clothes to get for her, leaving a bit of it up to my imagination - she returned every single gift that year. So, to make it easier, we (meaning she) decided that she'd get the essential clothing items and if I so desired I could get her a couple of additional gifts. Which works just fine for me. Except...

She refuses to wrap her own presents.

So, this morning seeing a few of the gifts and figuring I could make good use of my time, I decided to wrap them a good twenty days before Christmas.

Let me set the scene - I was in the bedroom and there wasn't a good flat surface to lay the paper down and cut it - so I went to the floor - with the two dogs gathered around me wondering what the hell was going on.

I smoothed out the paper and Melky walked over it, ripping a huge hole in it - I yelled at her and she jumped up on the bed where she could look down at me as I worked. I grabbed a piece of tape and it got wrapped around my finger before I could cut it - so I battled it long enough to just get it off my finger.

I decided to cut the paper and forget about the tape for a moment, and I ran the scissors up the edge and put the present dead-center - it was immediately obvious that I didn't cut the piece big enough, so I cut a little piece to place over the top - that accomplished, I reached for the tape again, pulled it and tried to cut it off on the razor edge - it wrapped around my ham hands again. Shadow got off the bed and stepped on the paper, ripping it even more. Melky looked down from her perch above me and I may be imagining things, but I swear she giggled. If she could speak she probably would have said something my father told my mother as they watched me try and lace my basketball sneakers - "Get those away from him before he hangs himself," good old Dad said.

It took me about another twenty minutes to wrap three presents and I swear to God, they look as if they were wrapped by a mentally-challenged three-year-old.

Don't worry - Kathy will let it slide - she'll just laugh at my lame attempt at wrapping - and marvel at the fact that I got her just what she wanted.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Love is a Banquet

Man, there were a lot of days when I was a bachelor - probably too many - when I would sit alone, listen to music, drink a few beers, and pontificate about what was wrong and right about life.

I still do it, but not nearly enough - tonight we were scheduled for a Christmas party and I threw a little Bruce on as I got myself dolled-up.

For those of you who know me, that was a good laugh, right?

For those of you who don't - it took twenty-five seconds.

Anyway, the first Bruce song playing was Because the Night - a song he gave away to Patti Smith - and she made it a hit - Bruce sang it afterwards and made it good. The version I was listening to was sung along with Michael Stipe of REM and the part of the song that got me was - "Love is a Banquet at which we feed."

What kills me about the line is that love is certainly a banquet, but only if we choose to do so - it is so easy to forget about the banquet right in front of us. We can certainly blow off feeding at the trough if we want to dwell on the negative in life.

I've always been of the belief that life can become cumbersome and downright aggravating at times, but that the big picture is what serves the purpose for all of us.

There are so many people who screw things up, and then with self-knowledge in hand understand that they blew it, but it is those of us who see the forest before the trees that understand that what is important is really important.

I had listened to Because the Night about a million times and never really heard the line that Love is the Banquet at which we feed.

Thank God it takes me twenty-five seconds to get ready to go out.

Damn, I Wish I Could Write Like This

2007 - Tracy Chapman - Our Bright Future

I used to think about what's real and true
What can not be proven; what can not be assumed.
Once when I was younger, in the bloom of youth
I received an honest answer when a lie would do.

And now all I do is sit in my darkened room,
and on occasion break my silence,
to howl at the moon.
To curse every nerve and neuron in my brain
That won't stop the pain I'm feeling
And let me stop thinking

I used to think, Galileo would agree
that the world was round
and you'd come round, to me
But I have looked for you
and you're nowhere in sight
the world must be flat
the Babylonians were right

And now all I do is sit in my darkened room,
and on occasion break my silence,
to howl at the moon.
To curse every nerve and neuron in my brain
That won't stop the pain I'm feeling
And let me stop thinking

I used to think, consider gravity,
If I placed you on a pedestal, you'd slip and fall for me
But you floated on the air
far away at light speed
I guess some objects do defy the laws that we conceive

And now all I do is sit in my darkened room,
and on occasion break my silence,
to howl at the moon.
To curse every nerve and neuron in my brain
That won't stop the pain I'm feeling
And let me stop thinking

I used to think - it took all my time
Analyzing you- your mind on my mind
Your name my mantra
repeated on my lips
that once tried to kiss you
a memory unrepressed

And now all I do is sit in my darkened room,
and on occasion break my silence,
to howl at the moon.
To curse every nerve and neuron in my brain
That won't stop the pain I'm feeling
And let me stop thinking

Stop thinking of you
Stop thinking of you
Stop thinking of you
Stop thinking of you

The Buffalo Bills Greatest Player

See 'ya Juice - now who's going to look for the real killers?

Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?

Shocking news out of England!

Boy George was convicted of falsely imprisoning a male hooker and brutally assaulting the confused dude. This conviction comes on the heels of Boy George's past trouble with the law when he called in a burglary attempt while in New York City. The cops who responded to that call arrested him for possession of cocaine.

As Ace Ventura used to say - allrightythen. What a mess.

The old Culture Club song was:Do you Really Want to Hurt Me? and I also knew a lot of people who knew all the words to the other hit song - come-a-come-a-chameleon, too.

Not me - I draw the line - my music tastes are all over the board - but I knew that dude was weird.

Where to start?

Inviting a male hooker into your home?
Tying up the hooker and beating him because he hacked your computer files?
Calling the police to report a break-in because you're looking to remain in the public eye?
Not clearing the drugs out of your apartment before you place that call?
Dressing up like some sort of creature every time that you're seen in public?
Calling yourself Boy George?
Is it a woman or a man?

So many questions and just one clear answer:

Do we really want to hurt you?

Yes we do!

Enjoy prison, freako.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Fresh Prince

Today I heard Will Smith talking about marriage. He explained that he and his wife took divorce off the table as a possible option. Now, I've always liked Will Smith and I've always thought the Fresh Prince of Bel Air was funny enough, but his philosophy on marriage, while seemingly a fresh idea, is actually just the "old" thought coming back to the mainstream.

It seems odd that a superstar making millions and millions of dollars would actually consider something as odd as loyalty in a marriage. You see, I can respect Will Smith as he and I are both sex symbols in a day and age when loyalty is in short supply, but we both are of the thought that a marriage commitment is just that - a solid commitment - as it used to be in the good old days before people started questioning just how happy they are.

Of course you aren't happy! You're married! (Just kidding, dear).

"With divorce off the table, we needed to figure out ways to actually enjoy being around one another," Smith said.

Geez, there's a novel concept - figure it out. Talk it out. Work it out. Find the common ground. Give a little. Take a little.

Yet the problem with the philosophy has to be in that both people really need to make that same sort of promise - divorce is off the table.

Divorce, it seems to me, probably happens when one person is willing to figure it out, talk it out, work it out, and give a little - while their partner would rather -not figure it out, shut-up like a clam, quit working, and decides to take way the hell more than they give.

"Marriage is the hardest thing you'll ever do in life," philosopher Smith said. "Yet if you eliminate the easy path out of it, then you are both forced to work at it."

Seems logical.

Lately I've been watching a lot of crime tv - 48-hour dramas, and high-tension crime dramas.

"Do you think the husband did it?" my wife will ask two minutes into the disappearance of the wife.

"Of course he did," I answer.

I may be cynical, but the worst type of behavior in the world is usually borne of a relationship that began under some misconception of love.

In my eyes, Will Smith has a healthy way of looking at it.

You've got to learn to live with what you can't rise above.

Unfortunately, Bruce said that just before the end of his first marriage.

Here's hoping Will and Jada actually took the option off the table.

I Hate Christmas Songs (And Every Other Song My Wife Sings)

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire - Are you kidding me?

I've always hated Christmas songs - 'I'm dreaming of a White Christmas' might be my all-time most hated. Perhaps it's because the freaking singer has never driven to my parents' home with 3 whiny kids through a blinding snowstorm with a wife - who sounds like Edith Bunker singing the freaking song in his ear.

And Rudolph? "They never let poor Rudolph play in any reindeer games - well, let me tell you, I went to high school with kids like Rudolph - stop whining about your perceived disability and get in there and make your own way - people aren't making fun of you because of your shiny nose - it's because you walk around like a wimp, kicking at the dirt - suck it up old Rudolph.

Frosty the Snowman? Yeah, you're fat, get over it - it's hot in the greenhouse, so stay clear of there - and two eyes made out of coal - give me a break.

Of course Santa Claus is Coming to Town would also be a stupid song, but Springsteen sang the crap out of that song so it gets a free pass.

Yet you have never lived until you've heard my wife sing - last week the kids and I were tortured by her rendition of 'Total Eclipse of the Heart' - somewhere Bonnie Tyler was seen poking sharp pencils through her eardrums - and you know, my wife knew every single word - "We're living in a powder keg, giving off sparks," she sang.

I was driving the car at the time, but do you know what actually went through my mind?

I wondered if she could stop singing long enough to grab the wheel after I opened the driver's side door and bailed out. I might have done it too, but the kids were in the back seat and her eyes were closed as she strained for the next high note.

So, you see my problem - it isn't just Christmas songs that I hate - it's every song she can get her lungs around.

"Oh, I like this one," coming from her, normally gets a quick flick of the dial from me.

Sorry, babe, I love you - but you're freaking tone deaf.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Elfster

My always thoughtful and wonderful sister, Corinne, set the family up on a website where we could work to exchange gift ideas and friendly dialogue so that the gift-buying experience wasn't so difficult.

It was a fine idea for a normal family, but I just got through reading some of the anonymously posted comments and I couldn't help but laugh - hysterically.

We picked on one another unmercifully for all sorts of faults. As you might guess I was asked for my bra size, one of my sister-in-laws was asked - "How about a brain -would you like one of those?"

Line after line of random punch lines was delivered by one and all. I'm certain that no one actually took the bitterness to heart. My wife who was butchered by one brother-in-law simply shrugged it off - "What did you expect?" she asked as I laughed at one post that suggested she buy a recipe book - "You're all a bunch of idiots."

Not sure, but I think my wife threw a full insults in there too - if you can't beat the idiots - join them.

She knew what she was getting into.

So, for anyone out there who believes I was the author of some of the fancy jokes, rest assured that I hardly meant any of them - and I'm looking forward to a great holiday with the ones that I love.

Charles Manson was 5' 2"

You know you're getting old when you start watching the Discovery Channel and you're thinking it's the best thing on tv, by far.

I caught a recap of the Charles Manson Helter Skelter murders in 1969 and I was glued to the set. Some of the reasons why:

1). They interviewed a couple of middle-aged women who were part of the cult, but not part of the murders. Talk about wanting to forget your past! The one lady couldn't help but cry when they showed her as a bald, 19-year-old with a red cross on her forehead, crawling to the courthouse. "Charlie had a hold on all of us," she said.

2). One lady escaped by walking 27 miles thru the desert to escape. She eventually testified against Manson's control - "I thought he had a line to god," she said.

3). The murders are still sensational, even by today's murder every other day standards. It's appalling to see the words on the walls in the victim's blood.

4). Manson is considered the face of pure evil - close your eyes - I bet you can see him - and he is currently 73 years old - he's still just 5'2" tall - and he still has hundreds of followers.

5). Which brings me to the idea that people will conform if they don't have anything else to believe in - Manson manipulated vulnerable kids looking for a way to make a difference. Which was scary, and is scary to parents all over the world because what kid at 16 or 17 isn't searching for some place to hang their hat. If I could have one wish granted for each of my children it would be simply that they are able to think for themselves.

People believe what they want to believe when it makes no sense at all.

There are so many willing just to accept what is fed them. That's what happened to the middle-aged women who were looking back at their time with Manson.

I just can't imagine that a man of such minimal standards - with his LSD and orgy parties could manipulate people into doing what they did - and that's why, I suppose, I spent an hour last night watching it. I had already read a couple of books on it, but I was still shocked to see it all play out again.

Here's hoping that there is never another Charlie.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Are You Kidding Me?

There's a story in the NY Post that explains that the Cruise Family and the Beckham Family have decided to join together in something akin to marriage. The story was accompanied with a photo of Cruise and Beckham looking kind of like a man and a man. The story was just a couple of paragraphs long and it basically said that the two couples have felt such a special bond that they want to have a ceremony to voice their feelings for each other.

Does anyone else find this strange?

I mean I have a couple of good buddies and my wife gets along with their wives, but to have a ceremony to tell the world about it?

As a matter of fact, my wife and I usually do a pretty good George Burns-Gracie Allen routine at parties. We'll get into conversation with other couples and my wife will say:

"If something ever happened to me, would you remarry?"
I always, always answer - "No, you ruined it for everyone."
Then I'll say - "Would you remarry?"
"Of course," she'll answer.
"What will he be like?" I'll ask.
"Just like you but physically attractive," she'll answer.

We always get the desired laugh. Yet the story of the Beckham-Cruise marriage??? is mind-boggling. Could you imagine trying to manage a partnership with three other members?

What about the men who have six or seven wives? One question - why? How could you survive such an arrangement - about a third of the year into my marriage to the 2nd woman they'd find me hanging in a closet somewhere.

So for my money, the Tom Cruise story is almost as weird as A-Rod hooking up with the old rock star when he could pick and choose models for each day of the week.

I suppose love is blind, and in some of these cases deaf and dumb too.

I wish Tom and David all the luck in the world.

The Coming Storm

I was just 12 years old when the blizzard of '77 hit the Western New York area and although it was a horrible storm that created a ton of problems, I remember it as a good time. The entire family was stuck in the house with nowhere to go and not a single thing to do. I remember playing Monopoly with my brothers and sisters and my father who was thrilled, I'm sure, to be trapped in the house with six kids ranging from 14 to 2.

I remember the police driving up to our home on snowmobiles asking if we needed anything and my father requesting cigarettes - they brought them back too.

I thought of all of this and more today as it started to snow. The roads were slippery for a few minutes and the snow was coming down and it crossed my mind that I'd love a nasty storm to hit - just after everyone returned safely to their homes.

I suppose that living in Buffalo has made me appreciate the power of a good storm and what can be done to weather it.

Lately I've been hearing about a lot of storms in a lot of people's lives. Storms of confusion, loves gone wrong, health problems, drinking problems, not-drinking problems, economic problems and just what-the-hell-am-I-doing-with-my-life-types of problems.

Best advice? Ride the storm out. I learned that in '77 and I've sort of appreciated it in the years since. I had a buddy in California who was in the earthquake in the late 80's - it took me a long time to finally reach him, but when I finally heard his voice, I was relieved.

"How bad was it?" I asked.

"Ah, it was awesome," he said. "I volunteered to help with the clean-up and I met this girl on the first night and we hung out for two weeks. Best earthquake of my life."

My father was a driven man - extremely ambitious and unbelievably determined - and during that storm in '77 - thinking back on it - he was as relaxed as he could be. The family was safe and warm, there was plenty of food to eat, hell we even had cops delivering cigarettes. What else did we need?

The snow stopped today - I guess the storm wasn't quite as huge as predicted - but there will be another one coming soon enough - how the storm is weathered goes a long way towards lessening its severity.

That works in life too.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Catching Up

So, Hilliary Clinton made it into Obama's cabinet. Not sure what to make of that, but at least Saturday Night Live will still be in business - people love making fun of Hil and Bill.

I'm tired of the stories of Christmas shoppers already - not only does some poor guy get trampled to death, but when they closed the store to investigate his death a woman was shown screaming that it wasn't fair to her because she had waited in line for hours - little perspective, huh, lady?

Plaxico Burress is a wide receiver who makes about 10 million a year - he shot himself in the leg the other night showing off his gun at a crowded nightclub. Brilliant! He was suspended a couple of times earlier in the year - but he is talented at catching a ball - and that's why we all admire him.

Speaking of wide receivers - a former Bill - Eric Moulds is accused of punching a fan who had the audacity to try and shake his hand. Why are these guys so misunderstood?

I see the 8-year old that shot his father and his father's friend is trying to get a plea bargain - with time off for good behavior he can probably get out by the time he's 12 - and off to the 7th grade with him when prison is done. Sounds unfair, but think of OJ - he killed 2 - allegedly - and got nothing.

Sam was incorrect on the Bills score - for the 2nd straight week he went with the Bills, the over, and to cover - guess I don't have a mini Jimmy the Greek on my hands.

Is my next stimulus check on the way yet? Now that we can afford gas - we can think about luxury items - like a couple of 5 dollar gallons of milk.

What's the countdown 'till W heads back to Texas - 51 days - in case anyone is wondering - just about 2,500 days since he declared the war in Iraq over.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Carrot

This time of year it is easy to motivate the children. Not only is Christmas just around the corner, but the WWE is also coming to town and thanks to my sister, Corinne, and brother-in-law Chuck, we have great seats. "Clean your room if you want to go to wrestling," or "Let the dogs out if you really want whats on your Christmas list."

I have boys hopping around the house to get things done. And thankfully there is usually something that gets you up and out of bed on any given day. Kathy was looking forward to this weekend for shopping purposes - exhausted and full of shopping stories, she sat on the couch last night with eyes that were barely open -"Was it all that you imagined?" I asked.

Bruce's new album is out at the end of January. Pitchers and catchers report in February. The Yanks begin their 27th title search in April. There is always something there to attract our attention.

Yet what of the days when we are just doing what we do? Does it have to be absolute drudgery until we get to that moment we've been waiting for? What if that moment turns out to be something less? What if the wrestling matches are not as wild as what we imagined? What if that one present we were looking for isn't under the tree? What if the Yanks don't sign the pitching they need and they don't make the playoffs again? What if the Bruce album is disappointing?

Okay, so I got carried away with that last one - I apologize for even saying it!

Yet there are plenty of people who spend their days waiting for a moment - something that will carry them through the next set of 30 days or so - and the moment never truly comes.

I've lived long enough now to enjoy the journey. Sure Sam is going to talk non-stop for a couple of days on the weekend. Yeah, Jake is going to go absolutely ballistic about not winning a game on the X-box. Matt will certainly slam his fist in rage when the Bills or the Sabres inevitably lose. Certainly the house will get dirty again and the laundry will pile up. I guess I've mellowed right before my own eyes - because I don't get quite as amped up over the dangling carrot that I'm running behind.

And you know why?

Because the carrot that is actually in front of me is the life that I'm living. The house, the car, the tv, the warm bed, the plate of pasta coming on Sunday, the Bills games, a chance to go to work, book signings, writing something new and yes, doing the dishes, letting the dogs out, cleaning the friggen' storage room, shoveling snow, waking up tired, drinking a few martinis - it's all the carrot.

And when does the moment finally arrive?

I'm thinking it happens when you aren't really looking for it - it happens all at once, when you are finally able to sit back and say - there it is - I've been happy most of the time - and I've lived a life with a hundred good companions, and I've been sensible about things most of the time. It doesn't come when your team wins it all. It doesn't come when you survive being trampled by a Wal-Mart crowd, and although it's close, it doesn't even come when the new book or the new Springsteen album arrives.

I'm betting it comes late in life, if you're so blessed with the chance, to look back and say, 'Damn, I raised some good kids, I ate some great food, drank some fine wine, and laughed hard, and lived right.'

And yet there are lives interrupted before that moment of enlightenment comes, and that's why this post is all about not chasing that carrot every moment of your waking life, but understanding that the joy is in the journey and the successful life, no matter how long or short arrives when we understand that it was really all about the day-to-day excitement of being alive.

I was talking to a friend of mine who was asking me how to get through difficult times and it occurred to me that all of life may be a struggle if you allow it to be, but that there is also beauty in just living. That chasing that carrot that is just out of reach, is also part of the fun.

I hear the kids stirring in another part of the house. The cold winds are blowing mightily outside, but it's warm where I sit. There's breakfast to cook, things to clean up, dogs to go outside, laundry in the baskets, and work just 48 hours away.

It's all right. Today I'm just going to sit back and eat the carrots that I've already snagged.

Friday, November 28, 2008

My Hometown

Kind of strange driving through the old hometown when there's nothing to think about but what you're seeing outside the window. The memories have a tendency to come in waves as you recall days gone by.

I left my cell phone at my parents home yesterday and being that everything must be just so, it was on my mind as I woke up this morning. I needed my phone - for what, I don't know, but I knew I wouldn't rest until I retrieved it.

So I headed off alone - we all know about the shopping, so Kathy was gone, but the boys were also still asleep, so I had a nice, quiet ride into town.

I passed by a house where a girl I had a high school crush on used to live. I thought about meeting her parents as a boy, scared that they'd tear my head off. I had a fleeting thought about how her life might have turned out, but it didn't matter much to me now.

I drove past the streetlight that we spent hours throwing rocks at on Halley Road. I remember that the kid who eventually broke it and sent glass flying had died in an accident just following his 16th birthday - nearly 30 years later, I thought of his excitement and how hard we laughed as we ran back to the campsite.

I drove past the houses of a hundred friends, and on by the Den and Speedy's where we drank hundreds of beers and dreamed about how our lives would turn out. I saw how the businesses had all changed hands again - not many of them where the same as when I was young. Where were The Lemon Tree, and Hoag's Dairy? Now there are dollar stores and pizzeria's in their place.

My hometown always seemed to be alive, but as I traveled today the streets were empty. I drove past the funeral home and the cemetery. I thought of friends gone too soon and how I used to serve as an altar boy at the funerals.

I passed the Town Park and remembered playing softball - Go Lions! - and the moment when we won the league championship for the first time. It all went by so quickly.

And five minutes after I picked up my phone, it rang and one of the boys asked me what we'd be doing for fun today. I thought about their childhood and how it was their time to build a hundred different memories, and it occurred to me that their memories would be shaped by how secure, and how happy I helped them to be, because the hometown, in the end isn't about the buildings that were there, or who lived where, but in the happiness felt in each day gone by.

I would think that it's nearly impossible to pass through your hometown on the day after Thanksgiving and not consider something more than what's on television that night.

Over the last couple of hours, I feel like I watched about ten hours of a home movie, and thankfully it's a movie that is still going strong.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Perhaps what drives us down is our inability to say Thank-You. I've always enjoyed Thanksgiving and not just because I can gorge myself with a clearer conscience then is allowed on the other 364 days of the year - when I am also over-eating. No, Thanksgiving is a day of thanks that always allows me to consider my family and friends.

I awoke to the news of the terrorist attack in India, and the headlines screaming that we need to spend some money to get the economy going again. I sort of sifted through the debris of what has happened and centered on a story about George W. pardoning a turkey. They actually made him pardon two turkeys saying that he will probably screw up the first pardon so they better be sure and make him pardon two. He still bungled the speech, but hey pretty soon he'll be back drinking in Texas, leaving us all to live free.

Yet I digress - what am I thankful for?

I'm thankful to be able to tell Bush jokes and to live in a land where free debate is still possible.

I'm thankful to be able to sit down today and over-eat and over-drink.

I'm thankful that my wife is currently reading ads so that she can make Christmas a wonderful over-indulgence for all. I'm also thankful for the peace and quiet that comes along with her reading and re-reading and re-reading and re-reading those same ads for the rest of the day. Hey I have golf and baseball and she fights crowds to get bargains on the day after Thanksgiving.

I'm thankful for my boys and the excitement they bring day after day. I'm thankful that they are happy, healthy, and mostly obedient.

I'm thankful for my brothers, sisters, and parents. All of whom will take potshots at how much I'm eating today.

Most of all I'm thankful that I cut happy hour short yesterday so that I can put forward the brave effort of eating and drinking myself to pain today.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Working on a Dream

Downloaded the new Springsteen song yesterday and I have to fight myself to not listen to it so much, but I love the idea of working on a dream - climbing the ladder, swinging the hammer, and whistling while he works - all of it. Kind of thought I might find it listenable.

Which brings me around to the pre-winter clean-up. If I were pregnant, and some have speculated that I am, I might be doing what is considered as nesting. In any regard, I cleaned the 'fridge, cleaned the junk food cupboard, and finished up the laundry - just like Kevin in my previous post - as pointed out by my sister and brother - I enjoyed the tasks. I even went grocery shopping to re-stock the shelves that I cleaned.

Then I turned my attention to the room that is brought into the conversation each and every time Kathy and I have what could be considered an argument - the storage room.

As stated daily in this blog - I hate clutter and the storage room has always been cluttered. Over the course of our marriage the room has been cleaned about ten times - the rest of the time it becomes cluttered - and my wife would be the first to admit, she's the culprit.

The room holds boxes of old clothes for the kids, and she saves them like it's her religion. Whenever a new niece or nephew needs a sock, my wife will go into the room and tip over each and every box looking for that sock -and when she finds it - she shuts off the light and leaves the room in utter chaos.

I told her that I was going to install a camera so we can watch her go absolutely apeshit in the room.

Anyway, today it is clutter-free. Not clean, mind you, but picked up enough so that I don't consider hanging myself with one of the old onesies.

The dream is becoming clearer and less cluttered.

Just swinging the hammer.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

God Lives Under the Bed

Received this from a good friend in an e-mail today and really enjoyed the sentiment-especially during Holiday season when such things tend to be overlooked.

God Lives Under the Bed

I envy Kevin. My brother, Kevin, thinks God lives under his bed. At least that's what I heard him say one night.

He was praying out loud in his dark bedroom, and I stopped to listen, 'Are you there, God?' he said. 'Where are you? Oh, I see. Under the bed...'

I giggled softly and tiptoed off to my own room. Kevin's unique perspectives are often a source of amusement. But that night something else lingered long after the humor. I realized for the first time the very different world Kevin lives in.

He was born 30 years ago, mentally disabled as a result of difficulties during labor. Apart from his size (he's 6-foot-2), there are few ways in which he is an adult.

He reasons and communicates with the capabilities of a 7-year-old, and he always will. He will probably always believe that God lives under his bed, that Santa Claus is the one who fills the space under our tree every Christmas and that airplanes stay up in the sky because angels carry them.

I remember wondering if Kevin realizes he is different. Is he ever dissatisfied with his monotonous life?

Up before dawn each day, off to work at a workshop for the disabled, home to walk our cocker spaniel, return to eat his favorite macaroni-and-cheese for dinner, and later to bed.

The only variation in the entire scheme is laundry, when he hovers excitedly over the washing machine like a mother with her newborn child.

He does not seem dissatisfied.
He lopes out to the bus every morning at 7:05, eager for a day of simple work.

He wrings his hands excitedly while the water boils on the stove before dinner, and he stays up late twice a week to gather our dirty laundry for his next day's laundry chores.

And Saturdays - oh, the bliss of Saturdays! That's the day my Dad takes Kevin to the airport to have a soft drink, watch the planes land, and speculate loudly on the destination of each passenger inside. 'That one's goin' to Chi-car-go! ' Kevin shouts as he claps his hands.

His anticipation is so great he can hardly sleep on Friday nights.
And so goes his world of daily rituals and weekend field trips.
He doesn't know what it means to be discontent.
His life is simple.

He will never know the entanglements of wealth of power, and he does not care what brand of clothing he wears or what kind of food he eats. His needs have always been met, and he never worries that one day they may not be.

His hands are diligent. Kevin is never so happy as when he is working.. When he unloads the dishwasher or vacuums the carpet, his heart is completely in it.

He does not shrink from a job when it is begun, and he does not leave a job until it is finished. But when his tasks are done, Kevin knows how to relax.

He is not obsessed with his work or the work of others. His heart is pure.

He still believes everyone tells the truth, promises must be kept, and when you are wrong, you apologize instead of argue.

Free from pride and unconcerned with appearances, Kevin is not afraid to cry when he is hurt, angry or sorry. He is always transparent, always sincere. And he trusts God.

Not confined by intellectual reasoning, when he comes to Christ, he comes as a child.. Kevin seems to know God - to really be friends with Him in a way that is difficult for an 'educated' person to grasp. God seems like his closest companion.

In my moments of doubt and frustrations with my Christianity, I envy the security Kevin has in his simple faith.

It is then that I am most willing to admit that he has some divine knowledge that rises above my mortal questions.

It is then I realize that perhaps he is not the one with the handicap.. I am. My obligations, my fear, my pride, my circumstances - they all become disabilities when I do not trust them to God's care.

Who knows if Kevin comprehends things I can never learn? After all, he has spent his whole life in that kind of innocence, praying after dark and soaking up the goodness and love of God.

And one day, when the mysteries of heaven are opened, and we are all amazed at how close God really is to our hearts, I'll realize that God heard the simple prayers of a boy who believed that God lived under his bed.

Kevin won't be surprised at all!

When you receive this, say a prayer. That's all you have to do. There is nothing attached. This is powerful.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Too Fat to Write a Best-Seller

I must admit that I listen to the Howard Stern Show every day. I feel that all of the characters are true friends and each day I thrill my wife with stories of their antics, but today, I was upset by something about the show, and it has to do with my writing career.

Sure, Howard Stern wrote a couple of best-selling books, but now, his sidekick, Artie Lange, has also hit number one on the New York Times Bestsellers list. He laughed when told the news and commented that there were most likely a lot of writers out there who were aggravated by the news.

I know of one! It occurs to me that the surest way to garner the number one spot at Amazon.com or the New York Times is to already be a celebrity. Whatever happened to the art of writing? What ever became of carefully creating a plot, establishing some viable characters, and entertaining millions with a structured story of mystery and suspense?

I’ve published five novels. I’ve tried my hand at non-fiction and wrote a couple of memoirs that have deeply affected doctors, nurses, and patients. I have stayed awake at night deciding when and where to place my characters, and Artie Lange (who I love as a comedian, by the way) hires a ghost writer, slaps a funny title on the book – Too Fat to Fish, and cops the number one spot on the list.

And it’s not just Artie. Madonna wrote a book about sex that did very well. OJ was featured in a story about how he would have committed murder if he were so inclined –and that debuted at number one even after they yanked it from the shelves.

Dr. Phil sells a hundred thousand books for every book I ever sold, and then there’s Dr. Laura, and Al Franken, and Bill O’Reilly.

I have a new rule – if you’re already a millionaire from doing something else – you can’t call yourself an author.

If you are selling books based solely on your name, you can’t be part of a list. If you haven’t put in the time to do a classic rewrite, and have never sat lonely at a book signing, you can’t even begin to think about cashing a royalty check.

Let the struggling writers have their own career. Artie Lange’s debut at number one on the bestsellers list is certainly an accomplishment, but he spent a little time jokingly referring to himself as Hemmingway.

The worst part about it is that he probably sold more books than Hemmingway!

It’s beginning to dawn on me – perhaps I’m just not well known enough to ever write a bestseller. Maybe the best thing to do would be to run down to the bookstore and grab a copy of Artie Lange’s book. Perhaps he can show me how it’s done.

I’m just too normal to succeed or too fat to write a bestseller.

Happy Birthday, To One of the Dopes

The funny thing about your kids getting older is that as a parent, you have all the goods. Today Matt is 25 years old (I’m pretty sure - w...