Friday, October 31, 2008

'Till Death Do You Part

The New York Post is running an article this afternoon about a wedding that was busted up in Pakistan. The groom was 7 years old and the bride was 5. Talk about a death sentence.

First of all, it's a horrible article for the simple reason that the parents of the children hooked them up in order to solve a long-running feud between the two families. The wedding would have went off too, but someone alerted the authorities and stopped the nuptials.

Yet think of the horror! Can you imagine having been married at the age of 7? That's about at the peak of the "I hate girls period". We used to walk around with our thumbs up in the air. If your thumbs were down someone could touch you and say, "girls germs." I stopped playing that game about three years ago.

Seriously, my boys are now in the middle of their "girls are weird" stage. I've tried to teach them to respect girls and women and to appreciate the fairer sex. When they argue with me I let them know that they don't quite have all the information yet.

So how does that young couple have all the information? What might they have done on their honeymoon? Would they ride off into the sunset after the ceremony on their big wheels?

Plus think of the true horror - by the time she turned twenty she would've already been married for 15 years. I don't care if you're in Pakistan or Buffalo - that's a long freaking time. Celebrating your 50th wedding anniversary at 55? A grandmother at about 23?

The photo that accompanied the article showed the authorities holding the not-so-happy couple. The boy was staring off into space as if he were absolutely disinterested and the girl was crying uncontrollably.

I was saddened by the photo, but it got me thinking, perhaps in the aborted ceremony they got close enough to marriage to feel the full effects.

Jersey Devil

Happy Halloween! I was never big on the Halloween issue, but today is different. It seems that the Springsteens always decorate their home in New Jersey to entertain friends and fans. Well the crowd around the house got so big last year that they had to not decorate the house this year. So, instead, Bruce released a song and posted it on his website with a video for all to enjoy.

Guess what? I liked it!

Yet it is the story of the Jersey Devil that is most intriguing. I heard the true explanation of the creature last year while I was watching a hockey game between the Sabres and the Devils.

Legend has it that Mother Leeds had 12 children, and after giving birth to her 12th kid said that if she had another it would be the devil. On the night of labor Mother Leeds gave birth to child #13 who quickly changed form from a normal baby to a creature with hooves, a horses head, bat wings and a forked tail.

I actually went to college with a few guys from New Jersey and I swear there was a guy named Luke, who when drinking, most resembled the fabled creature.

Yet what amazes me is that people are still claiming to see the murderous creature. Out there in the swamps of Jersey this creature darts around, killing and terrorizing.

Yeah, it's bullshit.

Yet if it makes Bruce write a song - it's worth at least a Halloween mention in a blog.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Oh Thank God

I've been waiting on pins and needles, praying that Exxon Mobil wasn't affected with the poor economy that has been plaguing the rest of the world. Imagine my joy when I opened up the paper today to see that they made $14.83 billion last quarter.

Are you freaking kidding me?

I guess I just don't understand. I guess that it is the same thing as me begrudging the mortgage broker his $414,000 seats at the Jets game. Or A-Rod making about a hundred grand per at-bat.

I guess it all boils down to the fact that we are paid by who we entertain, or who we hold over the barrel. I guess that the system that forgets those at the bottom or those muddling along in middle class is the only system that truly works. Was this the grand plan?

I don't believe that the wealth should be shared by those who are not willing to pull their own weight. There I said it - so much for my bleeding heart reputation.

I don't believe in free lunches if you're capable of earning a living.

Every time I'm in Syracuse I pass by the panhandlers standing on the corner at Teall Avenue. The old me would have stopped the car and emptied the change out of my pocket. The new me passes by looking at the shoes of the beggar and thinking - "Shit, he's wearing Nike's."

Yet that's not to say that I don't have pity on the woman who is working three jobs to take care of her kids because her husband walked out. She should be afforded a chance at a better life. Her kids should have a chance to go to school.

For Obama or against him - his infomercial conjured up images of an America that seems to be gone. The black and white photos of children being pushed on a swing, or kids playing in their front yards.

That America still exists, doesn't it?

It isn't all about record profits, and racketerring and overpaid entertainers, is it?

No matter the outcome of the election, we need to get back to what made the country great - and what made us great has always been the people who live here.

We can get there - but like Bruce said on his last album - "It's going to be a long walk home."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mary Kate & Ashley

These twin bitches had a book signing at Barnes & Noble in NYC last night. Prior to signing book one they told their potential customers that there were rules to be followed:

1). No photos
2). Don't talk to either of the twins
3). Don't ask questions
4). They will not sign anything other than the book.

As luck might have it - I had a book signing at Barnes & Noble this week too. Here was my rule:

1). Please stop and talk to me.

Now I doubt my line was as long, but I guarantee you one thing - I got more out of my signing. As I showed up there was a woman waiting for me at the table.

"I'll take all three of your books from this year," she said.
"Do I know you?" I joked.
"No, I just love your books," she said.

We talked for a few minutes about each book. We discussed what was happening in her life, and I signed something witty in each copy, and shook her hand. I could have left right then and there.

For the next two hours, I shook hands and swapped stories with a number of people who didn't know me from the guy who stocked the shelves. I sold a bunch of books and even bought a couple of new fiction items for myself.

The wonderful host at the store had to explain who and where I was at least three times. I raised my hand above my head to acknowledge the people in the store each and every time.

I have never cared about selling even one book - but I show up in the odd event that someone would like to speak about writing, or their dog, or the horse they road in on.

Someone needs to slap the shit out of the Olsen twins - okay, maybe that's a bit rough, but having rules for the people who want to meet you?

Give me a break.

I bet the book sucks too.

To Mary Kate and Ashley ---- you and the horse you rode in on.

Oh the Humanity!

Two of the last three nights I've been excused from watching the big television. The boys got the wrestling pay-per-view on Sunday night and last night Matt needed the big tv to watch the UB Bulls. I was relegated to my room - which ain't so bad, all things considered.

Yet there were 57 channels with nothing on and I was just flipping through when I saw a documentary on the Hindenburg explosion. I didn't know all that much about it -so I watched.

It was just 1937 and this massive thing was flying through the sky with a virtual dog and pony show to greet it as it landed. For those of you who know the story - it basically exploded.

In this day and age, my mind was on how many people died. Unfortunately, it is the information by the minute society that we live in - 36 people lost their lives - not a big deal by today's standards.

Yet what got me was the voice of the announcer who was charged with bringing the big ship in - I'm thinking Bob Costas or Al Michaels in this day and age - but the announcer (who's name escapes me) was actually crying on air as the ship burst into flames. "Oh the humanity," he cried.

Perhaps we've grown used to catastrophes. Maybe we should be above announcing something in such a truly human way, but if you ever get to hear his words, they are guaranteed to hit your heart.

I remember watching the coverage for 9/11 and worrying and wondering about all of the poor people who lost their lives - after watching the Hindenburg explosion - I sort of wonder why no one cried out - "Oh the humanity!"

Instead there was anger and the understandable rage. To this day, I wonder about how much was done to remember the victims.

65 or so people who were in the Hindenburg when it crashed were pulled to safety by people on the ground who kept going in and out to save the lives of the people they didn't know.

Like those firemen who went up the stairs and into the fire - "Oh the humanity!" Can be ued to describe them too.

See what I watch when you send me to my room early?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Want my Tickets?

Some people buy season tickets to their favorite team and not being able to go to the game, give them to a relative or friend. I just read an article about David Findel, a Jets fan, who won an auction to buy the best seats in the house at the new Jets Stadium.

Season tickets here in Buffalo will set you back about a grand - Findel will be paying $414,000 for his two tickets next year. He said that he probably won't sit in the seats though - he purchased them for his two kids who are 11 and 7.

His kids will get a VIP Parking Pass, will have a full course meal served to them at a fancy restaurant, can walk the field before the game, and get to watch the Jets suffer through another crap year.

Here's the kicker - what does Findel do for a living? He's a CEO for a mortgage broker firm. Ah, no wonder he has all that extra cash sitting around so his kids can be entertained.

Isn't that what's wrong here? Do I begrudge this guy his wealth? Yeah, damn right I do. Should he share his wealth? Well, I don't know, but something's out of whack, isn't it?

Can someone explain it to me? Does he work any harder than a guy who digs ditches, or short-order cooks, or is an elementary school principal, or most importantly a man who does construction safety reports while writing novels at night?

Perhaps he just knows the secret to wealth. He took the risks, right? He should be able to bid $400,000 at an auction for football tickets that cost a hundred bucks apiece, normally.

I'm so freaking confused! How can I be worried about filling up my car when every mortgage broker in the world has a half-mil kicking around for entertainment purposes?

I just want to have time available when he decides to sit out one of the games and gives up his seats.

Ridiculous. I hope the Jets go 0 and 16.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Grab Bag of Thoughts

--- All right I need to stop picking on the Bills. They've lost 2 of 3 and people are starting to blame me and my mindless predictions - so here's another one - they will win big against the Jets next week to reclaim first place. I'm thinking 28-17. I must say that I enjoyed the local radio talk this morning though - I love the people who are so passionate about it that they want to jump in front of a bus after a loss. Don't worry - they win next week.

--- The World Series is entertaining to some, I imagine - insomniacs mostly - I had trouble year after year watching the Yanks in the playoffs - no chance I can do it now - I do keep the tv on so I know the score if I happen to wake up at 2 AM when the game is concluding. Why can't they start the games earlier? There is a whole generation of fans that have no idea what World Series ball is like after the third inning.

--- They uncovered a plot to assassinate Obama - somehow you knew that was just a matter of time. Today I was considering what Martin Luther King Jr might think of this election and hours later you hear about the attempt. We wonder how far we've progressed - of course those skinheads haven't finished evolving, I guess.

--- This is a Sarah-free post.

--- What an absolute nightmare story for Jennifer Hudson. She came out of nowhere for her superstar turn and now this - the alleged gunman supposedly had a long history of violent acts - how does he stay out of jail until he completes such an act.

--- I dressed up as a woman for a Halloween party - actually I wore a moo-moo and a wig and my wife dabbed some make-up on me. I always thought I'd make a good looking woman - I was wrong. As Kathy applied the make-up I asked if I could take off the wig for a few minutes - "He isn't used to hair," Jake said.

As we arrived at the party one of my buddies daughters asked if I was "dressed up like a lunch lady."

"He's half-man, half-fat lady," Matt said.

Oh what I do for fun.

I can't understand how women wear them bra's either - and if my buddy had felt up my stuffed bra one more time I might have punched him.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Change Your Mind?

I was driving through Pennsylvania last week and in the small towns of Union City, Centerville, and Titusville it seemed that there was a political sign on each and every lawn. I counted three straight for McCain and then two in a row for Obama. One of the McCain signs was just a few feet away from the neighboring Obama sign. I imagined all sorts of battles going on between those two landowners.

What's the point? I wondered. Is someone actually going to change their mind about who they're voting for based on what sign is on what lawn? I'm sure that a lot of people who read this blog have an opinion about who I'm voting for - but can you be sure? Does it matter who I vote for? Or who Barbara Streisand votes for? Or Keith Urban? Or Bruce?

They say that the results are all but in for New York State - it's 59% Obama and 25% for McCain. What I don't get about polls is that they based it on 527 voters. Seems like a mighty small sample. Does the fact that New York will go Democratic make you want to stay home on Election Day?

This is also the time of year when I get a lot of propaganda based e-mails. Many of them are the same types of e-mails I read when people were trying to convince me to vote for George W.

My main response to such e-mails is to laugh and say - you voted for W! Twice!! Were you wrong then?

The divide in the country is sharp - people are branded either bleeding-heart liberals or gun-toting, religious freaks. I swear I listened to a woman being interviewed who said she votes solely on the belief that she looks at all the candidates and tries to decide who most fits her beliefs in God.

The interviewer asked, "What about the economy? Doesn't that play a role?"
The woman answered, "The Good Lord will provide for us."

Will a sign on a lawn change her mind? Will a reasonable argument that states that McCain has been married three times slant her views on his moral compass?

Does any of it truly matter? As I've said - at this point I just want it to be over. Count the votes, or count some of the votes, or keep people away from the voting booths or discount the ones with hanging chads - just get it over and done with so that perhaps we can stabilize the economy, and get on with the task of trying to keep our heads above the water while one side blames the other.

I hear that the candidates are lining up for 2012. They will begin their campaign in early '09.

Get the new signs for your lawn.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Sarah-Mania




I'm trying to think of the last time there was a candidate that commanded so much interest. From the Tina Fey dead-on impressions through the shopping gate and travel gate questions associated with her family ties, it is hard to ignore that Sarah Palin is like a hurricane blowing through.

Why? Because she's good-looking? Because she's folksy? Because we know all of the intimate details of her family?

I don't know - but I must say that I read every article about her, and I am certainly drawn to her speeches and to Tina Fey who deserves an award for her impression - watch that and not laugh - even Sarah laughed at it last week when she joined SNL.

Yet this is just me - I don't get it. I can't see her as the president of the country. Not now, not in 4 years, not in 16. I'm not being bigoted or sexist - I just can't imagine it. Perhaps it is all because of the preconceived notions that we have for our leaders - that they be Ivy-leagued schooled or middle-aged white men. I sort of had the same problem with Hiliary - when she started yelling I felt as if I were back in grade school and the nun was chasing me with a ruler, or when I pissed off my mother and she gritted her teeth and told me to sit under the counter until my father got home. I remember never really being afraid, but when that door opened and mom spilled the beans to my father, I got real nervous.

Sarah Palin has become a rock star - and perhaps that is what the GOP was going for -yet she can also be a polarizing figure for many. After the tenth wink during the VP debate I thought I might throw up. Yet I have a sister who absolutely adores her as the greatest political force in history.

Can she be the leader of the free world? Ever? I don't know. Yet deep down, I do understand that she'd be better than who we had sitting in that chair for the past eight years - and he was a straight-d student from Yale.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Empty Hands

Today I visited a steel fabrication shop that employs about thirty guys. These are your common, hard-working, hard-living types of guys who never let their fear show.

This afternoon, I sensed that they were kind of worried. One of their jobs was shut down by the bank and although there was still plenty to do, they could see further than the trees in front of them, and the mood wasn't good.

One guy who is within two years of retirement was looking at the Dow Jones Report on the computer. "I've watched about thirty grand that I had for retirement drift away," he said.

Another man complained about the cost of groceries and the fact that his raise didn't 'cover shit.' "I have to think of moving on," he said. "I've been here 15 years, and they bankrupted the whole freaking country."

So now we are debating bailing out the rich guys again and hope they trickle enough down to the men and women who are actually doing the work. I don't claim to be an economic guru, but I couldn't help but think of a Mellencamp song that always broke my heart because the lyrics were so biting. I thought of the song all the way home:

In the shadows of the smokestacks through the black snow that lay on the land
I walked home one winter morning with my life savings in my hand
Maryanne she's fixing up some breakfast
got the lights on, on the Christmas tree
sitting there looking up at an angel, with something dying inside of me.

Grew up with great expectations
I heard the promise and I knew the plan
They say people get what they deserve,
but Lord, sometimes its much worse than that.
Maryanne she's taking in some laundry
I got a part-time job at a drive-in stand
Oh Lord, what did I do to deserve these empty hands?

Across the cities, across this land, through the valleys, and across the sand
There's too many people standing in line
There's too many people with nothing planned
There's too many people with empty hands.

Now Maryanne's been crying
Lord knows I love her the best I can
When my pride is bruised and broken
she slips her hand into my empty hands
Without hope, without love, you've got nothing but pain
It just makes a man not give a damn

That's no way for us to live
We've got to fill these empty hands.

- John Mellencamp/George Green, Lonesome Jubilee

The Mystery

For the third time, we were asked to attend a religious meeting at the church so that one of our children could make their First Communion. I'm not sure how I ended up being elected as the go-to-guy for this assignment, but I remember attending a service with Matt, then Jake, and last night was Sam's turn.

"Who do you want to go with you?" I asked Sam as he returned home from school yesterday afternoon.

"Actually, I like Mom better," he said. "So let's go with her."

Sam is nothing if not honest, but I feigned hurt. "I always take the kids to this," I said. "Mom has to help with homework and do stuff here, I'll take you."

The reason why I wanted to do it, is because I actually enjoy the meeting. They speak about the role of God in the life of the child, and show us a quick movie on the importance of tradition in the everyday activity of the family. Besides, it's an hour of quiet, in the middle of a busy week, and it helps keep me centered a bit.

Last night the priest spoke of life being a real mystery to our children, and he explained that we, as parents, help them unravel the mystery a bit by molding them and shaping them in the traditions that we learned as children. I've always understood the responsibility of being a parent and leading by example, but from time-to-time, we all slip a little.

My wife had no way of knowing that I was secretly looking forward to the church meeting.

Of course, there is also one other bonus. At the end of the service they shut down all the lights in the church and illuminate just the crucifix and the stained glass window above the crucifix. Music blares over the loud speakers and your child sits in your lap as the words of "A Parents Prayer" wraps you up.

As I sat there last night I thought of sitting with Matt as they played the song. I thought of holding onto Jake as the words bit into me, and Sam (although he couldn't sit still) actually held me tight as the song played. We've all enjoyed a good relationship, but the playing of that song seems to draw us even closer - at least that's how I imagine it.

"Close your eyes and feel the touch of your child," the priest said. "And children, close your eyes and feel Mom or Dad's arms around you."

I pressed my eyes closed and listened to the words of the song until I heard a giggle. Opening my eyes, I was looking directly into Sam's smiling face. "I can't believe you're listening to him," he whispered.

Yeah, well that's part of the mystery.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Nasty Time

A couple of weeks ago I was extremely heartened by John McCain. Someone stood up at one of his rallies and said - "I'm afraid that if Obama is elected we will be faced with terrorist attacks because he is a terrorist."

McCain shot down the man's argument by saying - "That's not true. Obama is a decent man. He's not a terrorist."

This morning I saw an article that said the GOP is sending out flyer's that denounce terrorism - with photos of 9/11 destruction and a picture of Obama next to the falling towers. That's such crap.

Obama a few weeks ago announced that he would fire anyone who brought up Sarah Palin's family as a target. Peace reigned for a few weeks as Sarah's life was digested by the American public. Today the story breaks that she took her family with her on trips paid for by the people of Alaska. I wonder who broke that story.

That is essentially what makes me sick about politics. It is now time to turn off the news, flip the commercials when they come on, and just ignore it until November 10th or so.

I don't imagine that the rhetoric is going to be any clearer, and if you haven't decided by now, then you aren't all that interested.

It makes me think back to fighting with my brothers when we were young. My mother would ask my father to intervene and in his way, he'd say, "Come on, boys, fight nice."

It's funny, but we knew what he was trying to say. I wish the politicians involved would just fight nice the rest of the way.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cold Medicines Suck

It's about time someone said it - there is absolutely nothing that really dulls the symptoms of the common cold. I have a doozy of a cold right now and it just shouldn't be happening to me. I just had the ankle problem - doesn't God have someone else He could've picked on? He could've given me a week out of the barrel.

And yet, I know people are suffering with a lot worse and a cold is just a cold - roll with it, suck it up and tough it out (although I'm getting weary of hearing that from the wife and kids - wish I'd never brought it up).

Anyway the point of this blog is that the cold medicine that you buy over-the-counter isn't worth the box it comes in. I end up really doing a number on myself because I want to just feel better and I'll mix and match all kinds of crap to try and get a balance. Not a great idea, either.

One other thing, I have noticed is that when I don't feel well, I go out of my way to let everyone and their brother know it. I always feel like calling up my mother because I know she'll feel bad for me, but I refrain from doing so because, well, I'm 44 and the self-proclaimed strongest man in the world, and I probably shouldn't be saying, "Mommy, I don't feel well."

So, what have I taken today? Aspirin on 3 separate occasions, Tylenol Cold, Day-Quil and those little red pills that are supposed to break up the congestion. Is that too much? I didn't take them all at once, mind you, and I'm not having convulsions - in fact - they don't seem to be having any effect at all.

Perhaps that's the problem - maybe my superior strength is making me immune to the mere drugs of modern man.

Anyway, I always liked the Vapo-Rub on the chest and under the nose. I sleep with that, under my new electric blanket with a tee-shirt on. That helps me to sweat out the cold.

Last night, I very carefully asked my wife if she'd put the Vapo-Rub on my chest. (Another thing the world's strongest man probably shouldn't ask for help with).

"Yeah, keep dreaming," she said.

It wasn't much fun rubbing it on myself - and it didn't work either.

Time for more medicine!

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Strongest Man in the World

Not real keen on being 44 - I suffered through my ankle injury - it's feeling much better, thank you, but Sunday found my temple of a body to be an inviting host to a cold virus. Luckily there wasn't a lot to do on Sunday, so I rested well. Yet Monday morning found me to be feeling under the weather as well.

I jumped out of bed and headed down to see the boys as they prepared for school. I didn't feel much like joking, but we always share a laugh before I leave. Jake picked right up on my cold - "I thought you were too big and strong to get a cold," he said. "Ah, poor baby, suck it up."

I explained that I planned on sucking it up and heading off to work. "I can't be held down by a cold," I said. "I'm the strongest man in the world."

Of course, Kathy was passing by. "You're the strongest man in the world?" she asked.

I heard the kids laugh.

"Of course I am," I said. "I'm big, I'm strong, and gosh-darn-it people like me." Of course I was doing the old Al Franken bit from SNL, but it struck Jake funny. "People like him, that's a good one."

Yet there is something to positive thinking. I knew a kid in high school who said he never got sick because it was simple mind over matter. "Only the weak get sick," he said. "It's all in your head."

Not sure I buy all of that, but we do have a tendency to believe what we tell ourselves to believe.

So today, I'm the strongest man in the world - and gosh-darn-it people like me.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I Told You...

So, I told you that the Bills were going to be great this year. As a matter of fact, I'm going to say it now - they will win the Super Bowl. Trent Edwards is a better quarterback than Tom Brady. Marshawn Lynch is not only the best running back since OJ Simpson, he's also the same sort of great guy.

Actually... it's been fun to chide everyone about the Bills, but the truth is, its great for the community to have a common goal. It was what I always liked about sports, and it is fun to actually sit and watch the games without knowing the outcome - its been a lot of years since they were even competitive.

I also told you that the Boston Red Sox wouldn't go quietly and that you can't hold down Big Papi for too long... ah hell, I was going to try and be gracious and funny, but I just can't - I still hate the Red Sucks.

The final I told you so moment of the weekend concerns my boys running the fantasy football team that I'm the Steinbrenner-like owner of. Matt and Sam decided to not start Philip Rivers because he was playing against the Bills. Instead, they decided to pick up a scrap heap quarterback, Matt Schaub, and start him.

"You can't think with your heart," I said. "If Rivers outscores Schaub, I'm going to have to let you two go."

It wasn't even close. Schaub did great while Rivers stunk up the joint.

It's going to be a long week as the boys remind me how wrong I am. Yet that's half the fun.

I'm thinking Miami is going to crush the Bills next weekend. Let's say, 34-13.

Work in Progress

Okay all you haters - Yankee phenom Joba Chamberlin was arrested for DUI and it's funny but my wife said - "Oh you'll hear it on the blog now."

And rightfully so - getting behind the wheel of a car after drinking is a stupid move and one that deserves ridicule. Twenty-one years old, making millions of dollars, and not being able to find someone to drive you around after you've been drinking?

The root of the problem being that you feel as if you're above the law. We'll see what Joba says about it and how he handles it. Hopefully he makes amends and pays the price. I'd hate to see him blame the media for bad press - like Lynch did, but hey, they're both young men who need to get it right and make better choices.

I always joke with my wife that half the reason I got married was so someone was there to drive me home from weddings and get-togethers where I go overboard. The other half of the reason is so I can finish off the meals she orders at restaurants. A flimsy premise on which to spend your life with someone, but it's worked so far.

Last night, over birthday drinks a friend of mine figured out how many days I've been on the earth. 16,060. "It certainly seems a lot longer than that," he said. "We're just a blip on the screen, you know?"

A couple of minutes later we discussed a man who died at the age of 50. "Man, that ain't right," my buddy said. "Around that age you just sort of get around to finally figuring it out."

Of course, there are people who figure it out much sooner and still others who never really get it.

Every day, I remind myself that I'm still a work in progress, and when I think about Joba's arrest, and yes, even Marshawn's hit and run, it suddenly dawns on me that the imperfections of the rich and famous are certainly magnified to teach us piss-ants, that there's a lot more work to be done.

I'm going to need about 20,000 more days to get it right.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Old

You know you're getting old when the family says - we'll do whatever you want to do today - and you can't think of anything that sounds like fun. Let's take stock - sore ankle, losing my hair, three great kids, a wonderful wife, a lot of friends and a great family. I'm 44 - same age as Reggie's uniform number - I might be old - but I'm doing all right.

Old by Paul Simon

The first time I heard "Peggy Sue" I was 12 years old,
Russians up in rocket ships and the war was cold
How many wars have come and gone?
Genocide still goes on
Buddy Holly still goes on
But his catalogue was sold.

First time I smoked, guess what - paranoid
The first time I heard "Satisfaction"
I was young and unemployed
Down the decades every year
Summer leaves and my birthday's here
and all my friends stand up and cheer
and say man, 'You're old."
Getting old
Old
Getting old.

We celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day
And Buddha found Nirvana along the lotus way
about 1,500 years go the messenger Mohammad spoke
and his wisdom like a river flowed
through hills of gold
wisdom is old
The Koran is old
The Bible is old - greatest story ever told

Disagreements? Work'em out.

The human race has walked the earth for 2.7 million
and we estimate the universe at 13-14 billion
when all these numbers tumble into your imagination
consider that the Lord was there before creation
God is old, I'm not old
God is old, He made the mold
Take your clothes off, Adam and Eve.

Down the decades every year
Summer leaves and my birthday's here
and all my friends stand up and cheer
and say man, 'You're old."
Getting old
Old
Getting old.

Friday, October 17, 2008

How's Trent Feeling?

A couple of weeks ago Bills quarterback Trent Edwards was hit on a pass attempt and had to be taken off the field on a stretcher. He suffered a concussion and you'd have thought the world was going to end. Newscasts started with the story, telling the sad tale and there was a sheer panic hanging in the air.

On October 7th, Army Sergeant Michael K. Clark, 24, of Sacramento, California was killed in Iraq from injuries suffered when he encountered small arms fire while on dismounted patrol for the 4th infantry division.

The day after Edwards concussion the Buffalo News ran at least three stories about poor Trent. We found out that he had spoken with teammates and was coherent. The entire city let out a collective sigh of relief.

Army Corporal Reuben Fernandez, 22, of Abilene, Texas, died on October 11th from injuries suffered when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device while working with the 1st Calvary Division.

On Tuesday I found out that Trent Edwards had grapefruit for breakfast and a couple of pieces of dry toast. He was still battling a minor headache, and the city was told to hold its breath because with concussions anything can happen.

Army Spc. Geoffrey Johnson, 28, of Lubbock, Texas of the 4th Infantry Division died of injuries suffered in an incident in Baghdad.

Monday of this week found Buffalo ecstatic as Trent actually practiced! The newscasts led with the story. Buried in the same newscast were stories about how the surge has worked in Iraq. There was no mention of Fernandez, Clark, or Johnson.

During the sports we were reminded of how many touchdown passes Trent Edwards has thrown this season. "He's been a true hero all season long, leading the Bills to 4 come-from-behind victories."

As long as we're throwing stats out there - there have been 4,171 other soldiers not named Fernandez, Clark, or Johnson - who have died in Iraq.

I'm not debating the merits of the war. Should we stay or should we go? Who the hell knows? Who the hell can follow the bouncing ball of lies?

We should know a hero when we see one, however.

Fernandez, Clark, or Johnson deserve more than just a line in the news. If life were fair - we'd lead off every newscast so that people truly understood the costs.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Joe the Plumber

The media is going to eat poor Joe alive. He owes money on his taxes and he's not really a plumber. God help him. He had the gall to ask about having enough money to live a life and he's going to be thrown to the wolves.

Yet why? Why are we talking about $250,000 as the cut-off when most Americans are simply struggling with the idea of having enough money left over to pay their freaking gas bills?

I understand that there is an economic crisis going on, but if I'm like most Americans, I don't feel anything but fear. Is my job going away? Will the kids have a chance to go to college? Can anyone be a plumber and still survive in this day and age?

You know what? While the rest of the world is in a financial crisis, I felt great today because I was able to fill up my car for less than $50. It's a lot like hitting your hand with a hammer - it feels great when you stop. Not paying $4 per gallon is pure ecstasy - and that's how they get you. I actually felt great today paying $3.50 a gallon. Five years ago such a premise would have made me throw up.

So what is Joe the Plumber to do? Well, if he's like me - he's tired of all the talk. He's sick of hearing two candidates snipe at each other, and tired of watching the Dow move up and down like a freaking yo-yo. I turned the debate off last night because I'm sick and tired of it. I've had enough. I don't care if Obama was linked to a terrorist when he was 8 years old. I don't care if McCain knows how many homes that he owns. I just want someone to help us.

Joe the Plumber wants the same thing and now - because he asked a simple question - to an aspiring preseident - he's going to be thrown to the wolves.

Seems to me like the common man will be left holding the short end of the stick.

Again.

Maybe we shouldn't be sharing the wealth, but we sure the hell shouldn't be stealing it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blood Brothers

A couple of months back my father called with some bad news - his best friend through the years had died of cancer - and Dad was certainly upset. "I was friends with him for over 50 years," he said. "Can you imagine having a great friend for that long?"

I keep moving through the dark, with you in my heart, my blood brother.

Of course that's a Bruce line and one I think of each and every time I consider the great buddies who've shared my life with me. I'm not going anywhere and neither are they - so I figure I will get 50 years in with each of them. Hell, Al and John have been friends for almost 40 years already!

Yet I had good friends on my mind all day today because I called my buddy Jeff to wish him a happy birthday, and it blew my mind that he's 45 freaking years old! In three days I'll celebrate my birthday and we always laugh about the fact that I used to give him a present and he'd return it to me three days later. (The same gift!) I quickly learned to buy myself something that I wanted, gave it to him, and received it right back. He's the kind of friend who never once considered keeping it.

It got me to thinking that I've had college friends for 25 years - recently we've tried to get together in NYC and I've been the one holding us back. Not because it wouldn't be the greatest weekend of the year, but because like Bruce said in the song, There's work to do and bills to pay.

To all my blood brothers - keep moving through the dark. Happy birthday, Jeffy.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Marcia! Marcia! Marcia!

So Marcia Brady is writing a book about all sorts of bad things she did. Who didn't have a crush on Marcia Brady? She was hot and perfect in the Winny Cooper sort of way. Winny Cooper will always be my favorite, but how can you not notice when Marcia Brady says that she traded sex for cocaine. What would Greg Brady think of this? Obviously not much because he did her too. Think about that freak show - the father was gay and died of AIDS - Florence Henderson actually did Greg Brady - her freaking step-son for god's sake - and Marcia was turning tricks for dope.

Looks like that broken-ass family didn't do very well on teaching morals. Perhaps that man dressed up as the maid should have helped out a little more.

So - I'm enjoying the baseball playoffs now that the Red Sucks have lost 2 in a row. I shouldn't be like this, but I am - I have a ton of friends who just root against the Yankees not caring who wins and I must admit its kind of cool. Anyway what about Big Pop-up and his crap playoff so far - so much for Mr. Clutch - test for steroids and he hits just 23 homers - and can't hit his way out of a paper bag right now -coincidence? I think not.

All right Bills fans you've had a week to lick your wounds - you're ecstatic because the Sabres are unbeaten and Trent is coming back - Roscoe might be too! Yeah! We're number 12!

However you're looking at back-to-back losses people - LT will run for 212 - Rivers throws for three and the Chargers win big - I'm thinking about 35-14.

Don't despair however - Marcia Brady can be had for a couple of bags of white powder - and you thought she was out of your league!

Monday, October 13, 2008

I Have a Plan - Part 2

Okay so ex-boxers, ex-cops, and ex-beauty pagent contenders are running for public office. How about an ex-college-binge-drinker, who likes to read and write?

I am officially a candidate. Here's my platform:

1). I have a plan to reduce taxes and create jobs. See previous post.

2). I have a plan to run your car on pure water - yes water - salt water nonetheless so we don't run out of drinking water. You want to hear the plan? Vote for me.

3). I have solved the gay marriage problem. We'll just allow them to couple up as men-women have done for years and years - but we will just rename it - we'll call it garriage. As in, "I'm garried to Bill." We just invent a word - give them the same rights. Let one of them be the man and one of them be the woman - they can pick it on the form. Quick question - what do they say during the wedding anyway? I now pronounce you husband and husband?

4). Abortion? Want one? Take it to court - let a judge arrive at the conclusion:

Judge: Hi Sally, why do you want an abortion?
Sally: I was raped on my way to my car in the parking lot.
Judge: Granted (pay for your own rape kit at the door, right Sarah?)

Judge: Hi Sally, why do you want an abortion?
Sally: I got drunk and went home with the last guy at the bar.
Judge: Denied.

5). I have a plan to fix the economy. Print the salaries of everyone. We all know how much A-Rod makes, and how much Madonna makes (oops, did I put them two in the same sentence?). Do it for the elected officials and the top executives. When someone signs up to buy insurance or vote for someone - let them know that the 42 year old CEO has a golden parachute of $50 million. We'll boo the bastards off the face of the earth.

6). You want a gun? Buy a gun. There's no stopping you- it's a constitutional right, right? Just promise me you won't shoot someone with it. It's like the water pistols we bought the kids when they were young. Kathy would give three of them the pistols and say - "Now don't shoot each other, okay?" The kids would nod and smile. Ten minutes later they were all soaked and crying. Maybe we can make the gun buyers cross their hearts when they by the gun. Perhaps that would work.

7). Worship whatever the hell you want and we will not attack you for it. You don't believe in God - good - shut up about it. You believe in Jesus? Good - shut up about it. You believe the next door neighbor's dog has a godlike tint to his fur? Pray at his altar and keep it to yourself. They say that all the wars are started over religion or money - we solved the religion part of it by just shutting up already.

8). How do we solve the money problem?

I have a plan.

I Have a Plan - Part 1

Here in Erie County we have an ex-boxer running for State Senate. We also have an ex-cop, who looks like a guy who got battered by a boxer, running for something or other. Day after day, hour after hour, I've listened to the commercials for the candidates. The one by the boxer is what galled me into writing this blog. Here's the dialogue:

"Joe Mesi has a plan for reducing our dependency on oil."

"What's the plan?" I asked.

I didn't get an answer.

During the debate, McCain explained that he had a plan to fix the economy. He also stated that he had a plan to catch Bin Laden. He finally, had a plan to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Of course, I have followed it closely enough to know some of his plans, but he wasn't able to expand on it at the Town Hall debate. I can imagine two people watching the debate not knowing anything about the candidates.

Woman: I'm voting for McCain. Who you voting for?
Man: Obama
Woman: But McCain has a plan.
Man: What is it?
Woman: I'm not sure, he didn't say, but he definitely has a plan.
Man: What is he Lex Luthor? How do we find out about his plan?
Woman: We have to elect him and then he'll tell us.

I asked my wife about the ex-boxer's plan to reduce our dependency on foreign oil. She shrugged.

"He found an alternative energy source," I said. "His plan is to go to the sun and harness the energy. Everyone was against him telling that he'd burn up, but he said, 'There's the beauty of my plan - I'm going at night!'"

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ladies Home Journal

This injury has allowed me plenty of time to examine the family dynamic. Some real truths - the dogs sleep a ton. The fake little show of being glad your home means very little in the course of their day. Since I've been on the couch mostly, I've noticed that their eyes are closed way more than they're open.

Secondly, my kids all have unbelievable secure personalities. Sam has taken to calling everyone, "Hon". Jake moves through the house like a tortured clown - swinging on the emotions from high-to-low, waiting for an opening to bust someone's chops (lately I'm his target). Matt continues to make me marvel on how he gets things done - when I've never actually seen him work at all. And of course, Kathy is walking around smugly waiting for me to ask her to set up the doctor's appointment. It won't happen.

Which brings me to me - sitting there - bored with television. So, I did what comes naturally and began to read. I read every word of every newspaper printed this week. I read a bit from a novel that is just barely holding my interest. I read some of my own stuff (I'm pretty good, actually), and ESPN the Magazine. The kicker came when Kathy's Ladies Home Journal arrived in the mail. I was like a kid in a candy store.

"Perhaps you can get a few recipies," Matt said, laughing his way away from me.

Yet read it I did - and there was a recipe for pecan cheesecake that I considered. But there were also a number of articles that caught my interest. One was about a high school principal who was arrested for having one million pornographic images of children having sex. He was in his early sixties and married for over thirty years - his wife, of course, didn't have a clue. Why are high school prinicipals so messed up? (Inside joke!)

I also read about why couples get divorced after spending 20, 30 and 40 years together. The male in the article said - 'Enough's enough."

I had to laugh at that one.

So that's the news from here.

God help me! I'm reading the Ladies Home Journal.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Human Wheels - Post #300

I've been writing this blog - religiously - for the past 11 months. I started doing it because it was a free way of writing, and there were certainly no constraints on my style. I will continue to do it for the same reason. It's a lot of fun to write completely in the mood. If I want to be funny, I give that a go. If I want to be serious, I have at it. If I want to voice my opinion, I do it, because it keeps my wife from having to hear it every second of the day.

Yet, there is more to it, I suppose. I've always been a compassionate type of person and as I noticed that I was at blog 300 - a nice round number - I tried to capture what the real reason is behind my having to be heard. Maybe it's because I had a bunch of siblings and we were all encouraged to be vocal. Perhaps its because I've had a lot of friends over the years who've enjoyed what I've written. Maybe I just want a new, wider audience.

Anyway, I certainly will try and remain compassionate as I write. I feel that compassion is my connection to the divine, and if I lose it, I'll have lost the very reason for writing. With that in mind I thought of a Mellencamp song that I love - one that shows a connection between human frailty and the search for the divine intervention of something more.

Human Wheels - John MellencampThis land today, shall draw its last breath and take into its ancient depths
this frail reminder of its giant dreaming self.

While I, with human-hindered eyes, unequal to the sweeping curve of life, stand on this single print of time.

Human wheels spin round and round while the clock keeps the pace.
Human wheels spin round and round, help the light to my face.

That time, today, no triumph gains at this short success of age.
This pale reflection of its brave and blundering deed
For I descend from this vault.
Now dreams beyond my earthly fault
knowledge, sure, from the seed.

Human wheels spin round and round while the clock keeps the pace.
Human wheels spin round and round, help the light to my face.

This land today, my tears shall taste and take into its dark embrace
This love, who in my beating heart endures, assured by every sun that burns.
The dust to which this flesh shall return
it is the ancient, dreaming dust of God.

Human wheels spin round and round while the clock keeps the pace.
Human wheels spin round and round, help the light to my face.

Not So Healthy, Wealthy, or Wise

Given the choice of being healthy, wealthy or wise, it really isn't much of a contest. Problem is, I'm currrently none of the three. The ankle injury suffered at the hands of the children in the driveway basketball game has developed into a real problem. Yet it only hurts when I put my foot on the floor.

Which reminds me of an old joke:

Plane crashes in the wild and everyone on board except for one man is killed. He survives in the wild by eating the flesh of the corpses, and weeks pass before the crash is discovered. When the rescuers come upon him they survey the scene, and note that the man was always badly injured in the crash, suffering fractured ribs, and broken limbs. "Does it hurt?" one of the rescuers asks. "Only when I laugh," the man replies.

Talk about a sunny disposition. And I'm trying to be sunny about the sore Achilles and ankle. I've logged plenty of couch time with Kathy and the boys asking if I need anything. Yet there is plenty of busting going on.

I wish I had a dime for every time one of the boys has said, "Suck it up and tough it out and do the best you can."

I struggled out of the chair last night and made my way around the kitchen,limping badly with Jake moving directly behind me. "C'mon, Jake," Sam yelled, wanting his brother to join him in a game. "I'm trying," Jake replied, "Seems like I'm stuck in traffic behind a wide load."

You gotta' love it. When you dish it out, you need to expect it back.

I suppose there will be a trip to the Mac Center today. In the meantime is anyone available to head down and retrieve my ice pack? It's going to be a long ass day.

Healthy, wealthy or wise? I'd take healthy every time.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Dad, You're on Freaking You-Tube!

Sam came to me the other day and said - "Dad, I put your name in on You-Tube and you're there. How'd you do that?"

Well, first off, not a big deal to get on You-Tube now, is it? Yet how I got there was for the trailer to House of Miracles.

You can visit it by copying and pasting the embed at: URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceZZeW6-euY
embed: <param name="movie" value="

Do me a favor and take a look -the stars of the book, Anthony Stinson and Olivia Stockmeyer deserve all the credit in the world, and they are included in the trailer. There's a place for you to rate the video - do it! do it! do it, please! It'll only take a few minutes!

Additionally, Cindy, Jen, Lisa, Megan and Nicole deserve a nod here - they are not part of my harem, but the unbelievably dedicated staff of Sterlinghouse. The author gets the credit on the cover and every page of the book, but I have to tell you, it would not be possible without a great staff available at a wonderful publishing house!

It's Over, Johnny

It all started on Tuesday afternoon when my wife called to ask if I had any ideas about dinner. It's a daily conversation that is usually easily handled because I normally have an idea. On Tuesday, I was a little tied-up with work and I was annoyed with the question. "We didn't take anything out," I said. "I'm clean out of ideas."

My wife has learned to gauge my moods - I'm usually either happy or extremely agitated - she took it as agitated and said - "We'll think of something," and she got the hell out of the conversation.

Now, I'm not kidding here - about two miles later, I was driving down the street and the traffic in front of me kept swerving out of the way of three boxes sitting dead center in the road. Believing that I'm a good guy, I pulled over and stepped out of the car with the full intention of pulling the boxes to the side of the road. A middle-aged black man met me at the boxes. "What the hell is it?" I asked.

"It looks like boxes of meat," he answered.

I turned one of the boxes over, and sure enough, they were cases of unopened Shalen's hot dogs. "Want to split the take?" the man asked me, as though we'd just rolled a store. I grabbed one of the boxes - "You get two," I said.

Three minutes later I called Kathy - "We'll have hot dogs for dinner," I said as I told her the story.

Fast forward to a few hours later. I ate three dogs with all the trimmings and some homemade fries. I plopped down on the couch and put on Family Guy. I was feeling a bit bloated and sitting in front of the tube wasn't going to help. So, I gathered the dogs and headed outside. "I need to move around," kept popping into my mind. I retrieved the basketball out of the garage and started shooting. Yet going after my own rebounds is about as much fun as walking around the block - so I decided to call the boys.

The boys and I have various sayings that we all know. For instance, if someone falls down, I'll most likely do my Howard Cossell imitation and say - Down goes Frazier! The boys don't know who Joe Frazier was, but they laugh. They also don't know the old Rambo saying, It's over, Johnny, but they've heard me say it.

I played them three-on-one - which was always fun, but was usually a pretty easy run for me. They're getting better. Matt is a great shot; Jake hits the open jumper; and Sam runs around like his hair is on fire.

Late in the game I was up by one, and breathing like Cannon used to in those old detective shows. I had the ball, and all the smack talk working. "I just want to say that you all played well," I said. "But this shot is going to end the game."

Matt was all over me. Sam was yipping at my ankles, and Jake was waiting to grab the rebound of my missed shot. It's over, Johnny, I yelled. "See you in the house."

I let the ball fly from about 18 feet out. As soon as it left my hand, I knew that it was good. I had stepped up. I had taken it to another level. I had given 110%. I was in the house seconds after it settled into the net. Of course, Kathy spotted me straining to breath on the steps. "Oh, lovely," she said.

Fast forward again to last night. I couldn't put my foot on the floor because of the pain in my right Achilles tendon. I was watching Family Guy, feeling bloated, with an ice pack on my heel.

Jake walked in and took in everything about the scene, and dead-panned - It's Over, Johnny!

Perfect!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The More I Know...

... the less I understand.

--- I thought the bailout would work and that we could continue our ways, untouched by the panic that the economic crisis is causing. My people keep saying it will work out and that the confidence will be back and that we'll correct it all without missing a step. Yet the numbers are boggling my mind. I saw an executive with AIG mentioning that his $22 million golden parachute was earned. When a member of Congress asked if he'd give some of the money back - he offered a one word answer. "No." Great guy.

--- The debates are great, aren't they? The moderator asks a question and the politician answers, not with what they'd do - but what their opponent wouldn't do. Then if we do get a straight answer, the next guy stands up and says - "That's not quite right...you voted against what you just said." Confusing.

--- I hate being driven by fear. Someone once said - and I'm not smart enough to figure out who - that the best way to govern is to have the people fear what might happen. Seems to me that such a philosophy is garnering a ton of weight in this election. There are polls out now that say Americans are fearful of what might happen. You think?

--- The Dow Jones is down 500 points. That seems to be the daily mantra. I want to have blind faith in the current leaders who drove us down into this hole, but when the NY Post headline says that Asian markets are crashing... I go back to that fear paragraph written above.

--- Imagine going to your spouse and saying.

"We're in a bit of a crisis here. The money we had is all gone. We are now double that in debt, but we can borrow our way out. All we do is need to have faith in ourselves and things will be just fine."

My guess is that you'll be out the door.

--- With Bush's presidency coming to a close we should remember the good times. Remember when he stood on the deck of the ship all dressed up and in his military uniform and exclaimed, "Mission Accomplished."

How proud we all were. We at least have to thank him for handling that mission well. What was that? That was the Iraq war that he was declaring finished? Oh, my bad. What was his feel good accomplishment then?

I wish I knew less. Then it wouldn't all seem so bad.

Important Zen Teachings

A friend of mine sent me this (thanks Mary Lou...thought it was perfect for a post).

1. Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me for the path is narrow. In fact, just go away and leave me alone.
2. Sex is like air. It's not important unless you aren't getting any.
3. No one is listening until you Fart.
4. Always remember you're unique. Just like everyone else.
5. Never test the depth of the water with both feet.
6. If you think nobody cares whether you're alive or dead, try missing a couple of mortgage payments.
7. Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.
8. If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.
9. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.
10. If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably well worth it.
11. If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.
12. Some days you are the bug; some days you are the wind screen.
13. Don't worry; it only seems kinky the first time.
14. Good judgement comes from bad experience, and most of that comes from bad judgement.
15. A closed mouth gathers no foot.
16. There are two theories to arguing with women. Neither one works.
17. Generally speaking, you aren't learning much when your lips are moving.
18. Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.
19. We are born naked, wet and hungry, and get slapped on our ass ... then things just get worse.
20. Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Justice for All You Son-of-a-Bitches

A couple of months ago I was driving the wrong way down a one-way street when this lady had the audacity to smash into the side of my car. I received two tickets and a sure insurance increase to go along with my missing fender flare.

Well, I finally had my day in court today. Unfortunately there were 100 or so others who shared my appointment time. We were herded like cattle into a room that was way too hot. I got there 15 minutes early so I took my place in line - 32nd from the front. Another bit of misfortune struck as I was standing next to a woman of about 70 years of age who took to bitching about anything and everything, including her speeding ticket - she was tagged at 76 in a 65 - and it smelled to her like a setup. I did a lot of nodding.

"Look at the money these sons-of-bitches are making," she moaned. "Why don't they concentrate on getting drugs and violence out of the neighborhoods? Why are they picking on common people who are just trying to get to work or to the store?"

"I don't know," I said. "I deserve what I get, I suppose."

"We might deserve it," she said, "but these sons-of-bitches could treat us better. It's hot in here. I'm tired of standing, and I have things to do today. Do they think they can just keep me waiting while the sonovuabitchin' judge does who knows what?"

My head was spinning. They finally called my name.I met with the prosecutor for a moment and he was a pleasant enough guy. (I must tell you, I will be paying more for my ticket than Marshawn Lynch did for his running down of that lady). Yet, I got what I had coming to me.

"What a sham," the lady said as she regained her position next to me. "The son-of-a-bitch reduced mine to a parking ticket."

"Well, that's good, right?" I tried.

"Yeah, good for whoever's getting the surcharge. These son-of-a-bitches!" She plucked an evaluation form from a room beside the courthouse. "I'm going to give these people a what-for, you'll see."

"That's a good idea," I said. "You know what would be even better?"

"What's that?" she asked.

"Tell the judge he's a son-of-bitch when he knocks your speeding ticket down to a parking ticket."

"Well, no," she said, confused. "That wouldn't go over too well."

She turned away from me and for the next few minutes in the courtroom, I didn't hear her nasally whine. Instead she turned to the guy to her left and started giving him her sob story.

Three sentences in, the guy, who was also tired of nodding, just simply walked away. He didn't say goodbye, shut up - not a single word - he just walked clean away. The woman tapped me on the shoulder - "Can you believe that guy?" she asked.

"He's a son-of-a-bitch," I said, hiding a smile.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Talk, Talk, Talk

I love talk radio. I listen religiously to Howard Stern, switch to ESPN, and usually end the day with Jay Thomas. I have Sirius Satellite radio and don't know how I lived without it.

Yet days like today its a blast to listen to the local sports station. Once the Bills got smoked (as I predicted) I couldn't wait to hear the people acting as if life itself had ended.

"They need to fire the coaching staff," one irate caller said. (They're 4 and 1 - firing their coaches after one loss would be the funniest thing ever).

"They need to take it to another level," another caller said. (Can someone please explain why the hell anyone would ever utter that statement? What the hell does it mean?)

"They need to give 110 percent every time out there," another brainiac said. (Out of what? 200?).

"It's time for all these guys to step up and show what their made of." (Another inane comment that means absolutely nothing at all - what are they stepping up on?)

So, I had a lot of fun today.

"They should just move to Toronto if they're going to play like that," (Over-react much?)

"I didn't even finish watching the game. I took my kids to the park instead and we played catch," (wow, what fortunate children you have - you probably drilled balls into their mid-section to vent).

And people wonder why I revel in the misguided love for sports teams. (Yes, I know, I love the Yankees - but I've never called a sports station to complain about them).

It certainly doesn't devastate me when the Yanks lose either - but then again - maybe that's because I've actually seen them win. (Ewww, low blow).

The Bills won't win this week either (bye week) - and LT is coming to town - prediction coming soon!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

It Oughta' Be Easy

Basically I never left the house this weekend. There were a couple of trips to the grocery store, of course (I have spent about thirty-thousand dollars in blue drinks through the years) and the kids have taken a liking to barbecued spare ribs- which aren't cheap, but what the hell?

There were loads of laundry to do. The grass needed to be mowed. I put away the patio furniture so it doesn't blow across the lawn during a freak fall storm, and I cleaned the dog crap out of the backyard. I must tell you - Melky and Shadow are fairly regular.

Kathy ran the boys to swim and to get a haircut, did a ton of cleaning, changed the bedsheets, and on and on. The battle over homework should start fairly soon. We had ham and baked potatoes yesterday and pasta with other family members is slated to get underway around 12:30. The office will close soon after. And then, we get ready for another week of work.

And why the detailed recap? Because this is what it is. This is living and all that most middle-class people need or want to do. I must admit as I was mowing the lawn, I considered maybe doing more with my free time. Perhaps I could call a few friends and drink beer and make fun of each other. Maybe I could run to the casino and try and win a few bucks. Why were we wasting time in front of a few bad movies on Friday and Saturday nights?

Yet the moment of the weekend came during Mass - the priest was explaining the role of Paul in the gospel story. "Who's Paul?" Jake whispered. (Glad I'm spending thousands on their Catholic School upbringing). "He's an apostle," I said quickly.
Jake flashed those big brown eyes and smiled - "Paul's a possum!" he whispered to Sam and Matt. I couldn't help but laugh.

Yet it also occurred to me that life can be easy too. It doesn't have to be complicated by shallow desires born of an inability to accept our own limitations. In one of the movies the main characters spent their time in Hawaii. It looked like fun, but I didn't turn to Kathy and mention that it would be nice to lie on a beach for two weeks. It isn't part of the plan right now and I think that is part of the problem with those who are now in over their heads.

There are so many people searching for instant gratification. It all has to happen, right now! I want a house. I want a new car and an in-ground pool. I want to be CEO of a computer company that sells for about 1.4 billion. It ain't going to happen. Matt will someday figure out that he won't make the NBA and his life won't have to stop right there. We don't all have to be on television.

I suppose that it is okay to dream big, but perhaps we are having so much credit difficulty across this land because we have forgotten how to live in the here and now. Joe Six Pack and running the kids to hockey practice sounds great on paper, but a lot of people no longer dream about that being the end of the story. I'm constantly hearing about people leaving their lives, homes and marriages in search for something more.

I finished mowing the lawn and cleaning the garage with a sharp understanding that keeping an eye on the big picture will certainly serve me well. Life can be easy if you let it just come to you.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Nappy-Nap

When I was a kid, and on into my teen years for all that matters, my brothers and I would sneak down to Grandma's house just before lunch. We'd make sure that we were there at least 1/2 hour early so she would boil enough pasta for all of us.

Then we'd sit with grandpa and we'd share lunch with them. Those meals were some of the best ever, and not only because Grandma was a first-rate chef.

Yet we understood that we were leaving right after we ate because as my grandfather liked to say - "The office closes from 1 to 3."

John Mellencamp when asked why he started playing in a rock and roll band said that he just wanted to get a nap every day. He's certainly now in a financial position to make it work.

I'm not - but I do realize what Grandpa and Mellencamp were chasing. Around here the office closes down at 1 PM on weekends. It was a habit that started when the kids were young and it was impossible to sleep past six am. We put the kids down as close to 1 as we could and then caught a couple of hours of rest.

Of course, the kids are older and they no longer nap. Yet Kathy and I have stuck to the schedule. We rarely sleep past seven, but God help us if we don't nap. We even use the same language as when they were babies - "It's time for nappy-nap."

I actually nap better than I sleep at night. It's funny how it works. Lunch and then off to sleep.

My Grandmother and Grandfather must be proud.

The Juice Isn't Loose!

Another couple of reasons why I don't want my kids wearing shirts with Bills running backs names on them:

Of course, OJ will now (hopefully) spend the rest of his life behind bars. Much as I felt when he was elected into the Hall of Fame: "Good for him, he deserves it."

Some may say that perhaps my ill-will toward Marshawn Lynch is borne of a problem that I had idolizing an explosive back with a million-dollar smile. We held the man on a pedestal when he didn't belong on a foot stool. Enjoy the cell, Juice, think of Ron and Nicole - perhaps you can sort that whole mess out.

Secondly, Travis Henry is a back that my son did watch and idolize. "He's a beast," my kid told me a few years back. I didn't think he meant it literally. This week, Travis was arrested for distribution of cocaine. He had been suspended from the league a few times and was ultimately fired by Denver. When he was here in Buffalo he was accused of raping a minor. I don't know how that turned out - seems like it was swept away. In any regard - his impressive resume also includes 9 kids from 9 mothers. Beast indeed.

And yet there are people who compare the steroid problem in baseball and A-Rod's divorce/Madonna problem to this sort of behavior. There is a huge difference. Huge. A-Rod frequenting strip joints is not exemplary behavior, I suppose, but it is a far cry from double murder, rape of a minor, and even running down someone on a street corner and not stopping to fill out a police report.

I spent a couple of days at the Children's Hospital - the next time they're making up t-shirts for kids to bear names on their back - I have a couple of nominees.

Good luck, Juice, I was 10 years old when I saw you go over 2000 yards. I couldn't believe how great you were. Now, I hope they serve only bread and water. I'm stumped by how great you didn't turn out to be.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Sugar Ray Versus Hagler

I watched the VP debate - every second of it. By the end, the double-speak and misconceptions made my head spin and I had trouble getting to sleep, but I thought it was interesting to say the least. No car wrecks - the candidates were well-prepared. Maybe too well-prepared in some instances. Yet I won't discuss winner or loser. I just need to compare it to a prize fight I once saw: Leonard-Hagler.

My brother was a huge Marvelous Marvin Hagler fan. He loved the way Hagler brutalized an opponent. Me? I enjoyed watching Sugar Ray Leonard - who always entertained the crowd and really knew how to move, mug for the camera and get the hell out of dodge when it got too heated.

Leonard won the fight and I rode my brother hard. It was a real entertaining fight to watch as Sugar Ray ran in, threw a hundred little jabs that wouldn't knock out my sister, and smiled real wide as Hagler became frustrated with his inability to land a solid punch.

The judges declared Leonard the winner. My brother tried to argue substance over style, and I just laughed at him. Being that he's as mean as a rattlesnake when confronted, he promptly beat the hell out of me for Hagler's sake.

Anyway, I owe my brother an apology. A couple of years ago, I re-watched the fight and saw that he was right. Hagler was the better fighter that night. I had been swayed by Leonard's style.

I thought a lot about that fight last night as I watched the debate.

You figure out who had the style points. You figure out who ducked the punches. You figure out who won.

Four years from now - ask yourself the same questions.

There wasn't a car wreck last night. Both candidates did well for their running mates. It just reminded me of Leonard-Hagler - that's all.

One final question? When did the Republican party become about hockey mom's and Joe six-pack?

I missed that transition.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Do You Enjoy a Good Debate?

I have a college buddy who loved doing the following skit with me.

Him: You don't know even know how to argue.
Me: Yes, I do
Him: No, you don't.
Me Yes I do. I argue better than you do.
Him: No, you don't. I've never met anyone who argues worse than you.
Me: You're the worst.
Him: No, I'm not.

You get the idea. We'd go back and forth and drive other people crazy. (No wonder we had trouble picking up girls).

Yet we also loved to debate anything at all. I've had a number of friends who've also fallen into that category. I'll argue anything and I'll do it until the veins in my neck pop out - even if I'm wrong. (Right? Johnny C.).

This all comes to mind because of tonight's debate. There are a lot of people predicting that Sarah Palin is going to make a complete ass of herself. I heard one talking head say that it will be a lot like watching a car crash.

It will probably be a lot less. Historically these debates are filled with cliches and little information. The name-calling is held to a minimum and the only real moment I can recall was when Lloyd Benson embarrassed Dan Quayle with the JFK remark.

What would be refreshing? I suggest the name calling that usually goes along with my personal debates. Let's use my college buddy and me as the vice-presidential candidates.

Him: Hey, dumb ass -you don't even understand why we're in Iraq.

Me: Excuse me, bald-bastard, but I do.

Him: No, you don't. And abortion? Forget about it porky, you don't even know the name of the decision that was handed down to make abortion legal.

Me: Uh, dip-shit, it was Roe versus Wade. And your stand on capital punishment is barbaric, you honestly don't know your ass from a hole in the ground.

Him: Yes, I do, rat bastard.

Me: No, you don't. You don't even know how to argue.....

It would be the highest-rated debate ever.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

October Baseball

My internal clock was on high today - October 1st - baseball playoffs! What better time of the year? Games on all day! Fastballs! Home Runs! No 360 pound linemen trying to catch their breath after smashing into the guy across from them. No loudmouth receivers yelling throw me the damn ball. Baseball! America's past time! Peanuts, cracker jack and steroids, oops forget that one.

And what do I get? Millwaukee versus the Phillies! Yipee! Millwaukee is best know for Dahmer - then Laverne and Shirley! They won the same amount of games this year as the Yankees and they're playing the Phillies - who won their division, but haven't won a playoff game since 1980.

Tomorrow I get the Tampa Rays who play in a barn where if you hit a catwalk in a certain area it's a foul ball - and if you hit it in another area - it' a home run. They built their team because they stole the Yankees money in the "it's not fair" rate share plan. They should get a nice crowd for the game - about seven thousand - then they can stand there with their hands out as the Yanks get hit with a luxury tax and can pay Tampa's team for next year.

Then tomorrow we get the Red Sucks and their cheating ways - we all know they never should have won the series in '04 - look it up Dave Roberts was out at second - Manny is on stupid juice - Ortiz was on steroids - they dug up the Babe - ah, hell who knows!

The White Sox? Garbage! Won less games than the Yanks this year - ditto Torre and Manny and the Dodgers!

The Cubs? The goat will get them.

The Angels? What is their freaking name now? The LA Angels? The Anaheim Angels? The California Angels? The California Los Angeles of Anaheim Angels? Screw them too.

We want the Yankeees!

Obama

It certainly is scary to consider what is really going on - Sal from the Howard Stern Show was arguing that blacks are voting for Obama simply because he is black.

Others were of the opinion that it just wasn't the case. So, Sal went out with a recorder and started asking questions.

"Who are you voting for?"

All three interviewed responded: "Obama."

"Does it bother you that he favors staying in Iraq and not withdrawing the troops?"

"Not at all," was the favored response.

"Do you agree with Sarah Palin as his choice as VP."

"Yes, I do." They all said!

"So, you think she'll do a good job as Obama's Vice-President."

"She'll be great," was the response.

God help us all. Perhaps it was just an isolated case, but to not even know who's running with whom?

No wonder we're on the verge of bankruptcy.


"He Wants to Hang 'Em All"

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