Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Long, Troubled Road

The calendar is a strange thing isn't it? We normally flip it from one month to another without too much thought, but man, when December is turning to January there are so many plans to be made.

It's like we get a clean slate to work with, and there aren't too many among us who believes that it will just be the same old crap.

I'm not going to swear once in 2010.

I'm going to eat right, drink less, and lose weight.

I'm going to be kind to my family, dedicated in my work, and content in the decisions of others.

I'm not going to miss mass even once this year.

I'm going to help more around the house, change the oil every three thousand miles, and clean up that damn storage room.

And then...

Three days into it, we may be doing okay. Crossing everything off the to-do-lists, still eating celery, and swearing that our stomach shrunk.

And then...

"F&*@ it!" we scream knowing that we weren't going to hold it in any longer, and with swearing already off the list we shatter the remainder of the stupid resolutions we made.

"It ain't ever going to change!"

"Life's a bitch!"

"Who cares if the storage room is clean! It's a storage room!"

And we are back to square one on our long-lost journey.

Maybe not.

Maybe this will be the year when the train comes roaring around the bend.

There's still hope, right?

We worked on getting that back yesterday.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I Want Hope Back

Reading about the alleged terrorist attack and realizing that I've been standing on a slippery slope all year, I have one freaking wish for '10 - I want hope back.

That isn't too much to ask for, right?

I don't want to continue feeling that everything is crap.

I don't want to feel like I can't pray for something (a habit the nuns beat into me) because now it won't come true.

I want to be able to think about wanting to write something new that is completely filled with the daydreaming of the past. Writing the non-fiction stuff absolutely blows.

Hope - I hope this comes true or that comes to be. I hope that I can dream free of worry.

Well if dreams came true, ah wouldn't that be nice. This ain't no dream we're living through tonight.

Did you see Bruce on the Kennedy Honors? When they were singing his songs you could almost here him thinking, 'Ah, crap they're screwing it up.'

And Melissa Ethridge has been through a lot, but she looked like Grandma Rocker out there. Ewwww.

Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled program...

It ought to be easy to breathe deep, live right, and find hope. It shouldn't be too much to ask that life doesn't continue to kick the crap out of you in the upcoming year.

I hope it doesn't.

Practice it together - deep breath, count to ten, serenity now, family, love, don't grab that 2nd sandwich, don't eat pasta like a dog, Go Yanks, laugh through the Bills draft, golf, love, golf, drink a beer, deep breath...hope, hope, hope.


Happy New Year!

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Group of People I Hate

They say that being prejudiced is lumping together one group of people and making assumptions about them as if they were all one in the same. If that's the case, I'm prejudiced.

I hate television weathermen and weather women.

I think of this today because it took me an hour and a half to travel 18 miles this afternoon. Now, of course, blaming the snow on the weatherman is a little short-sighted, but those unfunny bastards take credit when the sun shines, don't they?

Perhaps it's their banter I hate most of all - they pretend that they were behind the sun shining bright and if it does happen to snow or rain then they say - "Well don't blame me! Ha-ha, hee-hee."

Yet they also tell me how smart they are when they are tracking a system with all of their sophisticated radar and such - and yet - not one of them saw my drive-time hell coming. Why is that oh wise one?

My hatred for weathermen also comes from my troubled youth when my grandmother absolutely had to watch the weather three or four times a day - I remember having to pick her up one time and drive her to our home in North Collins, but she couldn't leave right away because the weather was coming on - and this was in August!

Yet as I get older I find myself tuning into the weather more and more - and the greatest complaint is that they never seem to get it right. What other job can you fail 80% of the time and still get a chance to go to work the next day? Oh, yeah, you can be a Buffalo Bills team member.

(Nice shot of TO clipping his fingernails during the game - he said he noticed they were long - you didn't see that in the week leading up to the game?)

Yet the very next day, there's the witty weatherman selling us another pack of freaking lies and trying to cover their ass by giving us two or three different forecasts.

"Tomorrow should be mostly clear, unless it snows which would make it unclear, but that shouldn't hold on for too long, depending upon where you are, the sun might be shining through the snow squalls."

WTF does that mean?

Yet to be perfectly honest with you I do have one guilty pleasure and that is in watching the weekend weather people who are new to the game - they are usually so nervous and try real hard to sound as if they know what they're talking about. I love watching them stumble over words.

Yet they should just relax even the most seasoned among them sucks.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Get Comfortable


My kids have snuggies. Isn't that wonderful? Now they can sit around the house assured of their warmth. Not that I'm against them being comfortable, but it is getting a tad ridiculous now, isn't it?

You see each morning I'm out of bed nice and early. Yet I have little trouble waking the kids as they are usually camped out in front of ESPN before I even hit the stairs. The problem, of course, is that they have not done much more than stumble from their beds to the couch. The dogs are begging to go out, and be fed. The coffee cup or drink glasses are scattered all around.

"We need to get them moving," I tell Kathy.

Being that Kathy takes a bit of time to get acclimated to a new day, she sort of shrugs me off.

And now she bought them freaking snuggies - I'm fighting a losing battle here!

But they look comfortable, don't they?

It might be something that would make my nightly visits with Judge Judy more enjoyable,wouldn't it?

Yeah, yeah, Pops, I know - that would have to be an extra-large snuggie.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Wide-Eyed and So Happy

A couple of my nieces on my wife's side got engaged for Christmas. They are certainly reasonable young women with a lot going for them, but it was pretty funny hearing them talk about the future as if they were entering Candyland with sweets falling from the trees.

Of course, I was there to help talk their husbands-to-be through the upcoming days.

"Do you like dish-pan hands?" I asked one groom to be. He just sort of shrugged. "All the things you used to love are soon to be memories."

"Oh no," the clueless bastard explained. "We do our own thing and we respect each other's need to break free every now and then."

I couldn't stop laughing.

"Have you considered how it will be when you're sleep-depraved, chasing kids around, and cleaning the house ten minutes before the Super Bowl is starting?"

"We've talked it all through," he said. "We have a plan to keep everything interesting. We get along great."

I decided he needed a little Jameson's to understand. I poured the shots as he got a dirty look from his fiancee.

"You shouldn't drink that," she said.

"And so it begins," I told him.

Yet I was right there with two minor pieces of advice for him. What's an uncle for?

"First off," I told him. "On the days when you can't stand the sight of her, and hopefully there won't be many, stay clear. Don't say something that will change the relationship, or make it difficult to crawl out of the hole. Just get quiet, let a couple of hours pass, and it'll go away."

He looked horrified.

"Does that happen a lot?" he asked.

"For me, hardly ever, but it's easier to apologize for beaing quiet then it is to say your sorry because you blamed her for something that you created in your own mind and let fester to the point where you misplaced your anger."

"Sounds like you're back-tracking and saying that it is your fault."

"It's always your fault!" I said. "Men are usually the one's who screw it up and start thinking crazy - the women stay level-headed and we resent them for that."

"Okay, walk away when you're absolutely fed up and deal with it when you're in love again. I got it. What's your second piece of advice?" he asked.

"If there's something that you hate doing and she asks you to do it, screw it up royally and she'll do it herself the next time, but you have to be sincere in that first attempt and pretend that you're worthless because you weren't able to pull it off. You get out of doing the job, and you get a little sympathy too because she just figures you're pathetic."

"That works?" he asked.

"I only changed about three diapers," I said. "The first one I got poop on the rug. The second one I pinned upside down, and the third one fell off the kid when he ran down the hall."

I hung my head and lamented that I was a failure and I got a kiss and a free pass for the next several years.

"That's good, I think I'm ready," he said.

Poor clueless bastard.

Friday, December 25, 2009

So Many Blessings

It's so easy to lament what is lost. It's so simple just to chase your tail, and upon catching it realize that there's nothing you wanted to do with it anyway.

A couple of years ago my Christmas post was the words - God Gave Me Everything I want - and it sort of haunted me today as the kids ripped away at their presents, hoping that the next one was the one they really wanted.

Of course, there were smiles all around, and it does my heart good to know that they're safe, secure and relatively happy. It's our solemn vow that they remain in that frame of mind, but the cloud in our hearts this year can certainly block out the sun on certain days.

So...time to count the old blessings, right?

A great family - to my beautiful wife and equally beautiful kids - so much to thank each other for - day in and day out - a prayer that its never forgotten - not even in the darkest minutes.

Brothers, sisters, mother and father - in-laws, out-laws and dogs as my nieces and nephews. We know all about love - at least that much is true - and there's a cost for love - a price to pay - it's still worth the price. Don't ever forget the heartbeat.

Good friends - I have a ton of them - from years gone by - Gag, Rosie, Larry, Fluff, Lisa, Terry, Chris and Chris, Pops, Scott, Jeffie, John, Al, and on and on and on - not meaning to skip anyone but the list is so long and I'm so thrilled to keep in touch - it made my year to see most and talk to all, and the Yanks winning it kept us closer - so hate them if you have to, but they promote friendships.

Bruce! Three times this year - just as good as the first time in '83. Keep coming around!

My publisher and all at Sterlinghouse - you pushed me into the most important book in '10 - thanks for that - perhaps saved me - always thinking one step ahead for me -appreciate it.

Co-workers - I started watching The Office this year and it reminded me that you don't have to love everyone you work with, but luckily I have no complaints.

Health - health - health - stay hungry, stay alive. I'm always hungry - praying for the strength to stay on the beam. Too much left to do, right?

And of course, #27 - I feel #28 coming around quickly - no more waiting for 9 long years, right?

Merry Christmas to everyone who helped me through - help is still needed.

God Gave Me Everything I Want and I intend to hold on for dear life.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Look Up! Cheer Up!

So Christmas '09 is upon us. A year that sucked from the first month and continued to suck all the way, at least personally. Cheetah Woods had a better year than me, my family and most of our friends.

Today is the day we Look Up and Cheer Up!

As I was writing the story of Jeff over the last few months, I was struck by a memory of a night gone by. We were drinking beer (believe it or not) at my parents home. We had made the evening interesting by betting beers on one thing or another, and there were plenty of laughs with good friends and family. I believe that the gathering was a going away party of sorts for Carrie as she left for law school.

Anyhow, the end of the clear summer night found Jeff and I outside doing what needs to be done as beer makes its way through the system. We just happened to arrive at the door at the same time.

"Hang on a minute," Jeff said.

He sort of spun me around and pointed skyward. All of the stars were out and since it was such a clear night they were shining brightly.

"Look up," Jeff said. "Isn't it awesome?"

Eight or nine or ten beers in, I was sort of stunned that he was interested in the night sky.

"People don't look up enough," he said. "Life's pretty cool, isn't it?"

That was a moment from a night about 15 years ago. I look up a lot these days, not feeling that life is so cool, but it can be.

Look up!

Cheer Up!

Be Safe!

Merry Christmas Eve!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What Life Does

Imagine for a minute how excited you might be if someone finally discovered your beauty and decided to put you in a movie, and another movie after that, and paid you millions, and voted you one of the top 100 sexy people on the planet.

You'd be thrilled, right? You'd get to go to all the cool parties, paying the electric bill would be easy, you'd live in a great house with a big pool, eat the greatest food, go to the best bars. Ah,life would be sweet, right?

Cut to the end, where you're lying on your bathroom floor at age 32, throwing up, a table full of meds spelling out your last few hours as TMZ scrambles to retrace your last steps. All that life, all that beauty gone.

We're all just running through the forest with the wolf nipping at our heels, huh?

Thinking about Brittany Murphy and her death it's easy to wonder how such a downward spiral can happen. How do you end up gone at 32 from natural causes?

Now it may have been a fluke thing, right? Lord knows that any day can bring horror, but all reports are showing that things have been hastened a bit by strange behavior.

And how the hell do you get there? What makes you go so far down into the abyss that you can't pull yourself back up?

Life

That's what does it. Life and expectations and the next big thing, and the fear of failure, and the why 'does this work this way when I want it to work that way' bullshit that gnaws at our ankle bones.

While reading about Brittany Murphy's death I find myself in the strangest of all places. It's three days before Christmas, I have the first draft of the book I never wanted to write done, and I can't consider what it might be next that could possibly be fun.

All the things I figured out I'm trying to learn again.

As 2010 stretches out before me I'm really wondering - writing another book after this one is something that makes me want to empty the contents of my stomach. I don't feel like celebrating. I don't want to be sorrowful anymore, I sure as hell don't feel like exercising, but I'm not taking any pain medications either.

I don't know - I'm going to keep kicking at the wolf as he closes in.

The shame of it all is that Brittany Murphy couldn't, and that's what life does to some people.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Are You Going to the Game?

Stopped at Wegman's this morning, just about three hours before Bills-Pats was to start. There was a young girl in line in front of me - she was in a Bills Jersey and had the logo painted on each of her cheeks.

"Going to the game?" I asked.

"Uh, no," she laughed. "I was thinking of renting a movie and sitting around in this garb."

Behind me were two young guys with a case of beer. They too wore jerseys and were all fired up.

"I can't believe I've had three beers already," one of them said.

It dawned on me that they were me about twenty years ago.

"Are you going to the game?" the girl asked me.

I had a cart filled with bread, eggs, milk, lunch meat and dog bones. I was just trying to chip in around the house.

"Nah, I'm too old," I said. "That's a young person's game."

"Yeah, but you'll watch it, right?"

I do still watch the games despite my obvious disdain with the direction of the franchise. It's impossible not to be a part of something that is such a big part of the community, and I did feel a bit of regret, remembering all of the great times I had rooting for the Bills back in the day.

"I'll probably nap," I said.

The girl looked at me as if I had a horn growing out of the center of my head.

"You are old," she said.

Maybe so, maybe so, but I was warm, and the nap was good, and the pasta was great.

Getting Antsy

This is the time of year when kids all over the world suffer through the same things that adults battle every day - waiting for their ship to come in. These five days before Christmas are like those moments when you open the paper to check your Mega Millions ticket. Of course, it usually works out better for the kids because at least they get something at the end of the day.

Is it too much to ask to get one freaking number for my five bucks? How in the hell can I get that many numbers and not match even one? There should be a prize for that.

Anyhow...

The boys were a bit antsy last night. Before long hee-hee and ha-ha were in trouble because they just wouldn't stop. Hee-hee eventually got the message, but ha-ha was still driving us both crazy. As I get older I find myself saying things like - "It's after nine o'clock, we need to settle down."

After nine o'clock on a Saturday night is time to settle down? By ten o'clock, not having heard much for a little while I decided to check in on ha-ha.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

He was seated on his bed with his hands folded in his lap as though he were practicing yoga. The television was silent.

"I'll just sit here until Christmas. God knows I can't laugh."

Of course I laughed. He was pulling reverse torture on me - and it was working - I was feeling lousy.

"What do you want for Christmas?" I asked.

"Absolutely nothing," he replied.

"So we should take back the two-hundred-thousand dollars of stuff we got you?" I asked.

I saw the hint of a smile.

"Give it to the poor," he said.

(Did I tell you my kids are wise-asses?)

All at once hee-hee entered the room and jumped on my back and ha-ha started laughing again and before long the entire show was back on the air.

It's going to be a long five days, but I don't think those presents will make it to the poor.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Wallowing In It

Mellencamp's Jack and Diane has a line in it that everyone has sung to some degree - Oh Yeah, life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone.

Great song, good lyric - my favorite part about Jack and Diane though is the follow-up song Eden is Burning where Diane and Jack get a divorce - brilliant that he changed the names around.

Anyhow, this isn't a Mellencamp discussion. Yet I used to feel sorry for the narrator singing that line - Oh, yeah, life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone.

It clashes with my suck it up and tough it out lyric from another Mellencamp song, but over the last few days, I've been sort of wallowing in it - sore back, out in the cold, dead tired, lousy sleep, too much to do, going through the motions, more phone calls, a publishing deadline, friggen Santa Claus is coming to town, Damon hasn't signed yet, Bruce is on a break, tired, aggravated, life goes on long after the thrill of living is gone...

And in years past, I've enjoyed wallowing in it - I've even flourished during such times, but I'm sick of it this year.

I just read a survey that said New York is the unhappiest state in the union - perhaps I'm not alone. Yet I normally wallow for just a little while.

In fact, I came in off the road where I was free to wallow alone - and the dogs greeted me with wagging tails, jumps to the mid-section, and kisses that would have gone on forever if I didn't stop them, and the kids were happy, and the wife was glad to see me.

So, it's tough to wallow too long around here. Are you happy? Do you ever get stuck in the mud too long?

Suck it up and tough it out and do the best you can.

It's a better lyric.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What A Shame

Chris Henry was a wide receiver who made millions a year. The stats are easily looked up - four arrests, a couple of suspensions, and a sad, violent death. The recaps of his life are coming in now and everyone speaks of how he had straightened up.

Yet he died after getting thrown from a moving pick-up during a domestic dispute. I ain't a judge, but I certainly feel sympathetic that a 26-year-old man went in such a manner. A crying shame.

Another day, another story about Cheetah - now the wife is gone, or so they say. That is a shame for the kids, I suppose, and I imagine Cheetah will be okay somehow, but it's a shame that it's all anyone is talking about.

I had lunch with a dozen guys today and the the most prevalent thought was that he had to do it - he had women at his disposal - who else wouldn't do it? The women in the office were a little less understanding - they used to call him the greatest golfer ever - now they call him scumbag.

I see Oral Roberts finally met his maker. According to him they had an on-going discussion for years and years. Talk about scumbags.

He built an empire on the fears of a lot of other people, and played his charade out until he was a multi-millionaire. Now that he's gone I would like to find one person who clearly benefited from one of his miracles. Touching people and curing what ails them and then cashing the checks of the poor and confused.

Like I said, I'm not supposed to judge, but it's a shame if where he's heading now isn't unbelievably hot.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Just Play Judge Judy All Day

Feeling as if I'm losing touch, I put the news on tonight. Topping the news was the Cheetah Woods story - no kidding - three or so weeks after the idiot drove off the tree, he was story number one. His wife was seen without her wedding ring and his doctor was being investigated for steroids.

Who cares? Put him in jail.

Second story was the exciting news that the worst actor of all-time, Keeanu Reaves is in Buffalo making a movie. They showed him getting out of a car without a coat! What a brave man - it was cold and he wasn't wearing a coat! They showed the footage over and over and then interviewed a pack of idiots on the street.

"I was so excited to catch a glimpse of him!" squealed one particularly giddy moron. "I just love him."

Yeah - rent November whatever the hell it was, with Charlize Theron and then tell me how good he is. Or the one where he played a doctor - that was a bit of a stretch now, wasn't it? He must have studied hard to try and say 'penicillin' without screwing it up.

Yet I was waiting for the news. Is our news just all entertainment these days? Aren't we fighting a war? Health Care? The polar ice caps melting? Bankers stealing the money again? Nothing!

The third story was about TO and the 5 and 8 Bills and how uncomfortable they were in going outside to practice for 45 minutes. I'd just spent the entire day outside, freezing my considerable ass off, and TO was all smiles telling us how hard he worked to catch the freaking ball the three times it was tossed at him.

I guess that's why he makes 6 million a year - poor guy - next time they make him freeze he should call OSHA.

So - I flipped the station to Judge Judy - she made me feel better instantly.

There was finally news as she tried to divy up the property from a relationship gone bad.

"Put your hand down!" she screamed at one of the clueless bastards standing before her.

Now that's entertainment.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My God!


Who is that pretty young thing dressed up as Dorothy from Oz? I know that Mr. Renaldo is going to have a field day with this photo, but that is me dressed up for Halloween in 1982.

It's funny but I can recall the party and why I dressed up in such a manner - it was so the good-looking girls would pay attention to me - I let them apply the make-up, and do my nails. They dressed me like a girl and then didn't bother talking to me for the rest of the night.

Yvonne, of course, was nice enough to take the photo - and then hang onto it for the next twenty-seven years so that she could send it on and dare me to write a blog about it.

Yeah, that's me - I'm pretty too. Look at those wonderful lips - women would go crazy to have those lips and those long eyelashes, right?

Not to mention that small waistline.

Uh, all of those things are long gone, and I haven't worn women's clothes in over three weeks now!

Just kidding, Kathy.

Honestly.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Believe it or Not

Yesterday afternoon my sister posted a blurb about an atheists claim that there is no evidence of God. The atheist contradicted herself by acknowledging that God had let her down too many times to validate that he existed. My sister rightly pointed out that acknowledging the existence of God invalidates the argument that he doesn't exist.

And everyone I know has been all across the board on this subject - everyone has an opinion and probably rightly so. After the comment was posted there were 23 different postings related to the topic. I didn't even get that big of a response to my all-time favorite sitcoms posting.

Yet 23 different people have 23 different views, right? He believes this, She believes that, This one doesn't believe anything and no one has the right to question what you believe...

I suppose that is about it. Do you care what I believe? Should I try and change what you believe? Is what you believe something that was force-fed to you at an early age, or did you see a shot of Mary on the face of a Pringle's Chip?

Every day can start with those types of questions and hopefully some sort of healthy discussion between what's in your heart and mind and how you conduct yourself.

If there is no God as this woman believes then why not just act as poorly as one would like? (Or like Cheetah Woods?)

If God didn't care, what would stop you from going for the dirty martini mix every thirty minutes or so?

I don't know. I choose to believe. What I believe is my business and I'd never try to bring you over to my side.

My belief ultimately is that you should have your own belief - and try not to batter me over the head with it.

But believe it with everything you have, or you're just an empty shell, right?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hooray! I'm for the Other Team!

Not sure what you have planned for 1 PM today but the Bills are playing the Chiefs in Arrowhead where the crowd makes it tough to call plays and where Jim Kelly is pressured into hurrying to make decisions.

Oh, this isn't 1992?

Okay, back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Yeah, this isn't a can't miss game, but perhaps it should be. For the very future of the Bills it is a game where you should pop the corn, get your favorite drink, sit in your lucky spot, and root, root, root - for the Chiefs.

Yeah, the Chiefs. The Bills need to lose this game. What good is 5 and 11 when you can go 4 and 12 and get a higher pick?

Of course outsmarting everyone and drafting a linebacker from Erie Community College probably won't work anyway, but you have to try, right?

So, if I'm the coach, I do everything wrong - 4th and 28 after nine false start penalties? We're going for it? It'll be a little like playing my boys in Madden - their favorite play is the fake punt - and for the record, they make it every single time.

As someone who has been disenfranchised with the direction of the Bills let me tell you that it is easy to switch allegiances - and it's even kind of funny. They will always let you down- even when you think they have it in the bag.

Try my philosophy - go for the Chiefs today.

And now it's time for the predicition.

Bills blow it again. They win 24-20.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Faking It

I went to the one Christmas party that I go to each year and I was a little concerned that I was going to have to fake having fun, but thankfully, my friends picked me up. I even told a rather filthy, Larry David joke to about ten people and it went over pretty well. (Great joke, by the way - not fit for the blog).

And the difficult part of this entire year is that there is a gnawing in the back of the brain - things just don't seem as fun as they used to - I visited the Jersey Shore, Philly, Florida, and New York City this year.

I saw Bruce three times in three different cities. All rousing successes.

The 27-time World Champion Yankees brought the trophy back to where it belongs.

And still...

They say that when one goes through deep grief they either stay stuck in the grief or emerge on the other side with a feeling of peace and a new-found sense of calm.

I've seen the response in others, and I've actually felt it from time-to-time - the mundane doesn't seem so critical - but there are still moments when you feel you are just plain faking it, right?

At the party last night the food was great, the few drinks I had were actually refreshing, and the company was lively, but just a couple of short weeks until we are supposed to feel the best we've felt all year, right?

And I'm wondering about having to go through the motions.

Then again, the Yankees are spending money, Bruce is on the History Channel tomorrow night, and the Bills are going to shock the world (according to my boys) make up 6 games in the four games they have left, sweep through the playoffs and win the Super Bowl!

Yeah and Cheetah Woods is going to win the Master's.

Friday, December 11, 2009

You Love This? Really?


I tried snow-skiing twice - the first time I had to catch a ride down the hill on the back of my buddy Jeff's skies - I was a little bit hammered that time, so I tried it once more.

I took a freaking date - rented ski's for both of us - paid for the freaking lift tickets, bought drinks in the bar, and proceeded to fall more times than a two-legged dog in the Idiatrod race. I hated every second of the night and nearly impaled said date as she tried to teach me how to ski. That one didn't work out. It cost me about $500 and I said I'd never do it again.

So, I took up snowmobiling - I followed my brothers on the trail - they were going ninety. I was going thirty, afraid that I'd end up in the bottom of a pond. They stopped and waited for me and we shared some frozen beer that we were carrying in a mason jar.

"Isn't this great?" my brother John asked.

On the way home I drove the snowmobile - his snowmobile - off a couple of mailboxes, and I was never asked to go again. I would have said no - anyway.

This morning I was up and out by 6 AM - I let the car warm up, but I had to clear the snow off the windshield using the right arm of my coat. My hand got in the way and I was freezing as I struggled behind the wheel.

I drove like a grandmother for about ten miles and hated every second of it. I've been freezing for the last ten hours.

And on Facebook I'm reading notes from all these people saying, "I love the snow. I love the winter!

Idiots, I say. Idiots.

This sucks - where are the 27-Time World Champion Yankees? I want my golf clubs.

Check out the above photo and tell me that stepping outside in that type of weather isn't more appealing.

Don't ask me to ski, either.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Big Snowstorm

Working outside a lot I must say that I'm not a big fan of the winter. Who wants to dress up just to function? The body works harder in the cold and all that, and like my dogs, I would much rather be warm.

Yet I live in the Northeast, in a city that has a reputation for snow (even though there are a lot of places worse off then Buffalo - snow-wise, anyway). So, there is a certain element of 'putting up with it' in play.

Days like today, though, I don't mind at all. I seriously doubt if I'm going anywhere at all.

The storm came blowing through at midnight. Everyone was already snug in their beds. There was little to worry about other than the idea that the morning would bring nothing except for a full house and a lot of noise.

My out-doors work will be shut down for the day. A day of setting up schedules and preparing for work hardly even seems like work. And it got me thinking back in time...

...to the Blizzard of '77 and how we were all stuck in the big house on Shirley Road - six kids, two parents, two dogs - plenty of fighting, laughing, eating, arguing, playing monopoly, laughing some more and not even worrying if the storm never passed.

Off of school for two weeks, the cops swinging by the house asking if we needed anything and then laughing when my father asked for cigarettes and booze. Similiar to the request I would make in this day and age, and laughing even louder when the cop who knew Dad so well, actually delivered the contraband.

There's a certain security to bonding through a storm. A belief that Mom and Dad would make it all right for us was a great lesson to learn.

During that blizzard I remembered being scared that the world would end, but after all was said and done, we faced the storm, actually had a good time, and made it through to sunnier days.

That's what I like most about winter - knowing that it will eventually end - and gaining strength from toughing it out.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

No More Tiger, Please!

I've had enough Tiger news. I don't want to hear anything more about him. I no longer admire him, will cheer for him, or frankly even care about him.

We have breaking news from Tiger Woods mansion - Elin was really pissed.

No kidding?

And Nancy Grace has been running the same footage for a week - Tiger making the call to have his name removed from someones phone. I've heard that ten times and that's just walking by the set.

Kind of reminds you of the OJ crap, without the bloody crime scene, doesn't it?

TMZ is reporting that Tiger Woods' Mother-in-Law is also pissed.

Yet the one person we haven't heard from is Tiger. Which begs the question, how does he respond? Does he cop to every feel he got, or does he deny? Does he play the sex addict card, trying to evoke sympathy?

Jesper Parnavik, the golfer no one knew about until now is more pissed than everyone else because that was his nanny for god's sake.

Yet I don't feel like Tiger can take enough punishment - yeah it's his business, but his business was in my business and if I have to cheer for him when he does good, I have every right to jeer him when he sucks. There are a billion reasons why he has to deal with it.

The writer of this blog is also pissed.

And therefore, no more mention of a certain great golfer - he's been banned. Like my sister said in an e-mail - I will no longer call him tiger - now he's cheetah.

Cheetah Woods - it has a nice ring to it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Do You Have Any Hand Sanitizer?

I've officially lost it - I can no longer shake any one's hand without immediately thinking about getting hand sanitizer.

Today was particularly troublesome as I saw a bunch of people and immediately had to shake hands.

There was one particularly sceevy bastard who wanted to offer his hand and I kept pretending that I didn't see it.

Finally, he thrust it right into my mid-section - so I shook it.

Don't touch your hands to your mouth, don't touch your hands to your mouth, I kept thinking.

Thankfully, there was a bathroom nearby - I cleaned my hands and headed back out to the group- don't you know someone new came up and stuck their freaking hand out -

shake, shake, shake - asshole sneezed too.

The rest of the meeting was all about not touching anyone else - but of course, I shook about three more hands.

What am I running for office? Why do these people want to touch my hand anyway?

So stupid - I'm turning into Howie Mandel.

I found a bottle of sanitizer on my way out - cleaned my hands.

Cleaned them again when I got back in my car.

Don't worry about shaking my hand - I'm clean.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Move Over, Please!

Just read an article about a married couple in Manhattan who paid $150,000 for an apartment in the greatest city in the world.

Remember that price...

The apartment is 14X11 or about 175 square feet. In two years, they will own the space.

14X11?

The dog's crate is about that size.

Yet they own the place and live in it - they say comfortably. They have a couple of twin beds in the space and enough room to turn around. They keep their clothes in the cupboards and keep extra sets at work.

There is no fridge, no appliances - how could there be? But they say they're happy.

A 27-inch tv is on the wall, and they share the space without too much of a hassle - they swear!

They dump their garbage down the hall. Use the bathrooms in the building - and love the fact that they are so close. She said this - he didn't comment.

I can't imagine - they paid almost double for the space then I did for my house, and despite the comfort of my home, I don't even share a bedroom with my wife. I need my room!

14X11 - 175 square feet. You turn around and she's there. You try to head to the tv at the same time and you end up on the floor in a heap.

Who wants to bet that couple ends up divorced?

14X11 - God Help them.

People need their space, don't they?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Our Shangri-La

To Corinne - Happy Birthday - a song about appreciating the day you've been given - by Mark Knopfler

Our Shangri-la

It's the end of the day for surfer boys and girls.

The sun's dropping down in the bay and falling off the world.

There's a diamond in the sky, our evening star.

In our shangri-la.

Get that fire burning strong, right here and right now.

It's here and then it's gone, there's no secret anyhow.

We may never love again to the music of guitars

In our shangri-la.

Tonight the beauty burns into my memory.

The wheel of heaven turns, above us endlessly.

This is all the heaven we got, right here where we are.
In our shangri-la.

This is all the heaven we got, right here where we are.
In our shangri-la.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

CJF Hammer

Just goofing around with the kids this morning and we got to talking about the types of raps we would do if we were indeed inclined to become hip-hop artists.

It started with my poor wife who has to face all of the ridicule and we centered in on the condition of her room as she tries to clean it up from the Christmas-shopping rush.

My name is Kathy and I'm here to say, my room's a mess....

We all paused as the boys searched hard for the next line.

And my three sons are gay. I offered.

I was roundly booed. (Not that there's anything wrong with it).

So now the boys were on my case.

My name is Clifford and I'm here to say, I like listening to Bruce most every day. I eat so much pasta its coming out my nose, and I hardly ever change my clothes.

Of course, my kids are not exactly Dr. Dre when it comes to rapping but we had a nice little laugh over their lyrics.

Yet the real shame of it is that normal rapping is never quite so tender and funny, is it? The other night my wife had Dancing with the Stars on and Snoop Doggy Dog was on.

Every once in awhile I like to force myself to be open minded. Now I know what you're thinking there - never has there been a mind so closed.

But I tried.

Snoop's lyrics went something like this:

My name is, my name is, my name is (the background singers were saying Snoop)

He then talked into the microphone, never really moving a muscle. I couldn't make out a single word.

Then there was a chant about having a good day that was repeated over and over until I finally made it to the remote. I tried. I honestly did.

My name is Clifford and everything's okay, I'm trying real hard to be hip today. My head is spinning and my heart is a mess, and how this will finish is anyone's guess. I don't have a glock, or a bb-gun, but this rapping and rhyming sure is fun.

My name is (Clifford) my name is (Clifford) my name is (Clifford)
There you have it...

Clifford, the husky white rapper.

Think I got street cred?

Fight Nice

I've kind of stepped out of the political ring this year. A lot of people have been sending me notes about how they figure Obama is doing, Sarah-Mania still aggravates me, but I haven't heard hide-nor-hair from W - so I figure I'm way ahead of the game.

Yet being that I don't have a lot of info - too much else on my mind - I was a bit dismayed when I heard there were more troops heading for Afghanistan.

Now, perhaps, I should be happy that we are fighting the good fight, but I just don't know. I figure that less fighting is good. Maybe I'm wrong. I just thought that perhaps we'd be able to step away from it - not so simple, I suppose.

No one has ever accused me of not being simple.

Yet I love to read the newspaper before I get started on whatever I want to write about and today was no exception.

I read about the student convicted of killing her roommate in Italy.

I read about a couple in Niagara Falls who were indicted for not watching their child who died of an overdose of drugs - allegedly - after getting into mom and dad's stash. That one was rounded out by a wrestling match between the accused and his ex-father-in-law.

There was a recap of the Virginia Tech shootings.

A story about a murdered college professor in Binghamton.

Fight after fight after fight.

My Dad used to tell us to fight nice as a way of scolding us.

Being that I'm such a lover of all things peaceful - I pulled over and wept after running down a possum one day - I wonder why.

There's too much fighting.

Perhaps I need to read something other than the newspaper before I start writing.

Friday, December 4, 2009

So I Lied...

... had to do another Tiger post - thanks for the material Karl...

1. Tiger's new movie is out: "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Hydrant".


2. The police asked Tiger's wife how many times she hit him. She said "I don't know exactly… but put me down for a 5."


3. Tiger Woods is so rich that he owns lots of expensive cars. Now he has a hole-in-one.

4. What's the difference between an SUV and a golf ball? Tiger can drive a ball 400 yards.

5. What were Tiger Woods and his wife doing out at 2:30 in the morning? They went clubbing.

6. Tiger Woods crashed into a fire hydrant and a tree. He couldn’t decide between a wood and an iron.

7. Phil Mickelson contacted Tiger's wife to pick up some tips on how to beat Tiger.

8. Tiger was a mailbox and a telephone pole short of his first "grand slam."

9. What does Tiger Woods have in common with a baby seal? They both got clubbed by Norwegians.

10. What’s the big deal ? He’s been driving into the trees for year.

11. Finally, Tiger has found an unplayable lie !

12. Ping just offered Elin Woods an endorsement contract pushing her own set of drivers. They are said to be named "Elin Woods… clubs you can beat Tiger with.”

Thursday, December 3, 2009

How Much?

It blows my mind sometimes when I hear that the infidelities of others truly don't carry a lot of weight in regard to the big picture.

I recall that Clinton's dalliances were greeted with indifference by some women. My mother shocked me by saying, 'Who cares?'

Of course, Tiger is story one everywhere. I was having lunch in a small diner in the middle of a small town somewhere in New York State.

"He's a billionaire. His wife has to expect it," one old guy said. "And what's the difference? He's still the greatest golfer in the world."

But I wonder?

My wife shocked me by saying that she didn't feel sorry for Tiger's wife. "She knew what she was getting into," Kathy said.

"Yeah, but bad behavior is bad behavior, regardless, right? Even if they had an agreement in their marriage, he still is making her look bad, right?

"Boo-hoo, she's loaded."

Yet does money take away the feeling of being betrayed? What is the cut-off point? How much money do you have to be worth before you're allowed to cheat? Aren't you also cheating on the kids?

"Don't worry about it," Kathy said. "You ain't close to the cut off point."

Considering that I'm worth all of three hundred bucks, I don't believe that I'll be in the clear anytime soon, either.

Then again, not sure I'd trade a trusting relationship for a tainted one - no matter how much I'm good for.

No more Tiger tomorrow - it just blows my mind that he'd do some of the things he's been accused of doing.

Having an affair while your wife is about to deliver your child?

Billionaire or not, it seems to be a real weak move.

Maybe I'm wrong.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

And Another Thing...

...sports talk radio is now talking about Tiger and his transgressions.

The announcer was saying that Chris Rock once said that, "A man is only is as faithful as his options."

That's funny...

Yet my wife should be in good shape then.

My options have been severely limited for quite awhile.

About a month ago I was getting ready to go somewhere and I turned to my brother Jim and made the mistake of asking him if "I looked all right."

"You ain't think of attracting anything, are you?" he asked.

Perfect.

Options limited.

Poor Tiger!

Wha! I'm so famous! Wha! I'm so rich. Wha! You newspaper people won't leave me alone!

I love the statements that come out after the fall from grace. Tiger admits to his transgressions, cites his values, his wonderful wife, and the belief that God will take him to where he needs to go from here.

All right - I suppose that is the only way to handle it, but then to cry and whine about the coverage that the tabloids blast his family with?

There are a billion reasons why Tiger is left to face the music. He sold himself to the world as being one way, and turns out he wasn't. Fine, who are we to judge, but to look for sympathy because people won't leave him alone?

Whatever - the OJ murders kind of laid rest to the idol worship in my life. I like millions of others marvel at the way that Tiger swings a golf club, but in the end, he's just putting a ball into a hole.

My son Sam chirpped in the other night when the story broke and we were all talking about the tearing down of Tiger.

"He hits a ball into a hole," I said. "He's not a hero."

"I wish you could hit a ball in the hole like that," Sam said, "But no! It takes you ten swings every time."

Granted. But for the first time I feel like I'm one up on Tiger.

Perhaps it is difficult to be a billionaire in a mansion with the whole world looking at you. Maybe it is difficult to live up to the idea that you're perfect and not prone to the weaknesses of the normal guy.

I'll give Tiger the benefit of the doubt - he isn't the first to have regrettable transgressions and he does deserve privacy in making it right within the framework of his own life.

But I don't feel sorry for him because the vultures won't leave him alone. He deserves it, don't you think?

I bet his wife thinks so.

Otherwise she wouldn't have been chasing him with that club.

Oh well, we will all gather to cheer him some more when he puts the ball in a hole quicker than we possibly can.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ah Come On Buffalo!

Some people accuse me of rooting against the Buffalo teams, but my wisdom on that is you can fool me a bunch of times but after 40 or so years I catch on.

The Bills and Sabres had been stringing me along for so long that I grew weary and now it is more fun to make fun.

But I thought we had a chance at this one.

Buffalo was shooting for the longest stretch of days without snow - we were real close to passing the 2nd longest stretch - we just had to make it to Friday - and it was 65 on Saturday.

"We're going to do it!" I told the kids.

Sunday...no snow. Monday...no snow.

The big weatherman suggested it might end.

"We can do it!" I yelled at my tv.

Yet lo and behold, it was all another tease.

I woke up this morning to see the blanket of snow. My first thought was about all of the people who had worked so hard to see the record be topped and how disappointed they would be this morning.

"We gave it a-hundred-and-ten-percent," Don Paul the channel 4 guy said. "In the end we just ran into a force we couldn't handle."

"We'll get them next year," Mike Randall concluded. "It's been a valuable learning experience and we'll be ready to beat that record. We're young and with a good draft...

Yet here I am again, just so let down. It's almost like that moment when Ronnie Harmon dropped the pass, or when Norwide pushed the field goal, or when Brett Hull stood in the crease, or the Music City Miracle.

'We'll get 'em next year' sucks.

I thought we had 'em this year.

Now where is my Carhartt? I need it until May.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Antidote

I saw the kick coming from more than three feet away and I was quite aware that it was going to make contact with the back of my head, but I just wasn't quite sure how forceful it would be.

The foot made contact and I felt instantly dizzy, wondering how big the knot on the back of my head would be, but I had little time to recover as my assailant was gearing up for another roundhouse kick.

Luckily, I grabbed his leg and twisted him to the couch sofa.

No, I didn't finally take a beating due to my big mouth - I was fighting off no fewer than 3 of my nephews with two of my sons also in on the attack.

You see, it started with Rocco, James jumped in, and Johnny actually threw the roundhouse kicks. Sam and Jake were also on my back.

Despite being knocked woozy, I was laughing harder than I've laughed in the entire year of '09.

Thankfully, my wife saved me from further assault by calling an end to the beating, but you know, I would have suffered for another hour or so before I got tired of it.

"Yeah, get your wife to save you, tough guy," James cried.

And it dawned on me through the dizzy haze of being knocked for a loop that the kids surely have the antidote for pain and it's their graceful, unfiltered ability to turn any moment of any day into a kick-ass party.

And it's a party free of intoxicants, peer pressure, or aggravation.

When I woke up this morning my hand instinctively went to the spot where John's right foot made contact and although it was tender at best, I smiled.

They should bottle the antidote and sell it at every mall.

The kids have cornered the market.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

One Keystroke At a Time

I've always enjoyed the writing process. The idea that you can begin with a blank slate and just create something is simply the most exhilarating thought that I can possibly have. That, of course, was born of a love that I had for reading as a child, and the simple thought that someday I might be able to do that very thing - create something out of nothing - that meant something to someone.

The best thing about all of it, too, is that you really can never become perfect at it. That is wonderful for my eat-the-whole-bag-of-food personality - which deserves a side story by way of explanation.

Years and years ago my father's cousin, Marian Fricano, the former professional baseball player, went away on vacation. He asked his teenage son to make sure the dog was fed while they were gone. Not wanting to handle the task each day, his son simply opened up the bag of food for the dog, who proceeded to nearly eat to death. I remember the story and how angry Marian was as he relayed the particulars to my father. I often think of that dog as I consider my own to excess personality quirks.

Anywho...I'm writing again, but not enjoying the process even one tiny bit. Things are going well, and I promise you that I will capture the spirit of my brother and make you laugh as hard as you've ever laughed when considering a life, but there is one other thing going on.

For the first time ever, I'm telling a story that I don't want anything to do with, and it is completely tearing a hole in other parts of my life. For years and years I've been able to leave the story aside as I've walked away from the computer. Sure it sits in your head and percolates as you do other things, but it doesn't rule the day.

Not this time. The chaos of every day life is gnawing at me. The idea that everything has to be in the perfect place before I can write is eating me alive. A misplaced shoe, a leaf in the back hall, a penny in my silver tray. It's all hammering, hammering, hammering away.

My wife knows. I know she does. I also know she understands that I'm getting there and she's supporting it, standing by it, and living through it.

Now only if I can!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Et Tu Tiger

If you could get the genie wishes from the lamp you might go for being the most respected top man in your profession - ever.

You might instead go for the million square foot mansion with the marble driveway.

More money than you can ever possibly spend might end up in the conversation too.

Or how about the beautiful blond, model wife who seems more than Barbie Doll perfect?

Is it fame you want? How about being more famous than the Pope?

So, yesterday's minor car crash involving Tiger Woods was a bit of a surprise, and the reports coming out about the possible cause are even more hair-raising.

Was Tiger having an affair?

Did his wife scratch his famous face and then chase him down the driveway wielding a golf club?

Can something be askew in the fairy tale life?

I suppose the short answer is that we should have seen it coming, but who really knows for sure?

Perhaps he was just fiddling with the radio trying to get E Street radio on the Sirius receiver. Maybe he was just trying to find a penny that had rolled under the seats.

In any event, I suppose that there is a bit of trouble in the Garden of Eden that masquerades as Tiger's life.

Maybe he should have wished for peace of mind when he was rubbing that lamp.

That'll be my first wish, for sure.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday After a Clear Thanksgiving


Funny how life works but the ringing alarm clock stirred me awake from one of the first sound sleeps that I've had in months. The problem being the freaking clock was set for 4:15 AM and it wasn't my alarm clock!

It was my wife's, but there was also another problem - she wasn't there to silence it having left the house at midnight instead because of all of the deals. How that clock didn't end up sailing down the street is tough to figure.

Yet I was all right with it because even though I was up a little earlier than anticipated, my mood was good, and the photo above kind of tells you why.

The holiday was all about the kids, and family, and togetherness. Of course, about seven pounds of my mother's unbelievable stuffing didn't hurt, but on a year when the holidays were becoming something of a dreaded thought, a light shined through.

My nieces and nephews were all there and while it is a pleasure to see each and every one of them, there was a huge part of me waiting to see Rocco's reaction when he saw me.

My wife was holding him when I walked in the door, but literally 3 seconds after our eyes locked he was in my arms, and all of the dread was absolutely gone.

The hugs were tighter, the laughs were even more pronounced, the food was awesome, and everyone helped clean up. The kids played an extended game of chase each other through the house, and the massive wrestling match seemed to go on all night.

That's what is supposed to happen, right?

So, you see, the ringing alarm clock didn't wind up sailing down the street.

Rocco's big hug saved that clocks life.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

These are the words of Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation.


"We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven;
we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity;
we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown.

Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people.

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States...to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”


In case we forget what it is all about, I suppose.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Hat is in the Ring

I'm officially declaring that I am fully interested in coaching the Buffalo Bills for the next three or so years.

Before you scoff at my candidacy let's examine my football background:

I played one year of Little Loop (I believe I was ten years old).

I wanted to be a running back, but when the coaches noticed that I ran like a wounded animal they switched me to defense where I proceeded to spend the first eight games on the bench.

The only cool thing about the games were the orange slices at halftime. I'd eat about eleven oranges before the starters even made it off the field.

Then I got into a game - and this is no lie - I picked off the first pass they threw in my direction.

As I caught the ball I thought about how I'd make those bastard coaches pay for not playing me at running back - I was moving like Larry Brown through the field when I was hit.

I fumbled.

The other team scooped it up.

And returned it for a touchdown.

I never played again.

Seems like I'm perfect head coaching material for that weak organization.

And I'll do it for $49 million less than Shanahan wants.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Lambert Versus Como

Flipped on the computer today to see a shot of Adam Lambert kissing another man during his recent appearance somewhere. Then read a note that his act was kicked off of Good Morning America because it's too risky.

Lambert is now singing the blues because he feels as if he's being singled out and that the gays are being wrongly persecuted.

Now, I don't know even one song by this guy - people say he can sing. Not my kind of music, but whatever, right? If he has fans that's good for him.

Yet wrongly persecuted for being gay?

I don't care if he's gay, but I don't know why I have to open the computer to see him kissing some guy, and I certainly don't know if it is particularly smart to see his dancer pretending to perform oral sex on him as he sings.

What's the song about? Does the guy on his knees add to the performance?

Years and years ago I went to a concert that I'll never forget - Perry Como.

Yeah, somehow I ended up at a concert where Perry Como who was about 80 at the time sang songs and told stories on a stage that spun. I believe he sat on a stool for a lot of the show, but even standing there, it was all about the singing.

The voice, the presentation of the song, and connecting with the audience.

Of course, I'm coming off the Bruce show, which was all about connecting to the audience, and now I'm reading about this as performance art?

I'm sure that a ton of gay rights and gay protesters are going to be facing off in front of the Good Morning America studios tomorrow, and Lambert probably garnered plenty of attention for himself.

Can't he get the attention the good old-fashioned way? By earning it?

I don't know I'm always contradicting myself - I listen to Howard Stern every morning and am wildly entertained. Perhaps that kiss and the little simulation was entertaining to someone.

I'll stick with Perry Como.

Not that there's anything wrong with it.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Are Anyone's Ears Ringing?

Some thirteen hours after the concert and my ears are still ringing.

I've seen the future of Rock and Roll and it's still Springsteen. The show was absolutely incredible for anyone who was there to witness it, and the pre-show party was also fairly epic - Fuzzy-style. Plenty of food, drink, laughter, sadness, and mayhem.

I'm just glad that Bruce is taking a break because I certainly need one.

Yet what is really mind-boggling is that he performed 33 songs - without so much as a single break - I saw him play nearly 30 years ago and yesterday's show was every bit as energetic as that one.

Still the beauty of Bruce is that he has a way of connecting with each member of the audience.

When Jake was sick nearly ten years ago, I continually played the song "My Love Will Not Let You Down."

The song is not a hit, had rarely been played on this tour and had very little business being in this set, but on a night when he just kept going and going and going, he was able to fit it in for Kathy and I to sing along.

Which if you never heard us sing a duet, is a real treat for everyone around us.

And to those who think it's over...

32 songs in - the lights on the verge of coming up, the crowd in a frenzy and the energy level high, Bruce made an announcement...

"We ain't done yet."

He played one more song, but I think he meant it to quiet those who are thinking they're retiring.

They ain't done yet.

Jeff Miers of the Buffalo News said it best in his review - they were playing as if their very future depended on it.

Awesome. Greatest performer ever.

My ringing ears attest to that much.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sha-Poopie, Hot Shower & the Big Man

Damn that Family Guy - we caught the episode last night where Peter plays for New England, scores a touchdown and sings the Sha-poopie song. Now I can't get it out of my head.

Now as those who know me know, I'm very-challenged when it comes to doing anything around the house in a maintenance-type of a way. There's still a broken lamp in my hall from when I tried to change a light bulb - dropped the damn cover.

Well, for a few weeks, Matthew and I suffered in the early morning as the shower was fairly cold and never truly warmed up. We complained to maintenance, but the second job of maintaining the farm is time-consuming.

After complaining that we were tired of living in third-world country conditions, our maintenance-woman came through. It might have been easy too - simple turn of a switch I'm guessing - I would never go near those confusing tanks - but Sha-Poopie - we had hot water!

I may stick around now.

Anyway, big day today - perhaps the last time that Bruce and Clarence share a stage -the Big Man is nearly 70 - what a wonderful run it has been. Fitting for me that they close-up shop in Buffalo.

One of the best parts of Clarence's book is the mantra that he delivers prior to taking the stage every night - He simply asks God that he is able to play well enough to bring joy to at least one person that night.

Can't wait for him to start playing either - he'll bring me joy tonight if he can get the damn Sha-Poopie lyric out of my head.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Order the Good Wine

A few months ago I got my ticket for the Bruce concert for tomorrow night. Of course, my brothers, my sister, my sister-in-law, and a couple of close friends also grabbed tickets and began to count the days down to the event.

As the concert date got closer we worked on formalizing our plans. Of course pasta is on the menu as it is a Sunday and Sundays were made for sauce.

Yet as the day drew nearer a few more things weighed heavily on my mind. The event will most certainly be a cause to shed some tears as we feel the void in the time and space that was occupied by our remarkable friend and brother.

When Bruce hits the stage, once more it will be about more than what is in front of us. It will be about what we shared and lost. It will be about what we love and hold dear. It will be about living, laughing and loving. Bruce has that way of bringing that full circle.

And it's not that I'm putting too much thought into all of this - it is about as guaranteed as anything in life can be because it is all so circular in our hearts.

Those of us who will share in the day tomorrow understand that it is all connected in an ethereal way that can not be coherently described.

The balance of our lives has certainly been reshaped by what has happened to us over the course of the last year, but we will somehow stand together, and cheer.

We will be cheering even though we know that time waits for none of us. Somewhere out in the distance we will all face the end of our days here, and there will be a profound sadness for what is lost if a life has been lived right.

Yet death is nothing to screw with and once you're gone, there is only one way back and that is in the hearts and minds of those that are still here, pulling the cart.

So tomorrow, I'm celebrating a life - again - and I'm going to do it every day that I have the strength to pull it off.

The only way that someone can still share in an event of this world is to still be connected - to still be the absolute heartbeat of a gathering that no longer has you as an attendant.

There are so many moments in my life when I live as a man of pure caution, always wondering about the impression made, never actually letting loose and just relaxing.

"You need to stop trying to understand life and just enjoy it," Jeff said.

He was right.

Tomorrow I'm ordering the good wine.

Life is too fucking short.

Shroud of Turin and the Big Bang

Couple of items in the news today. A woman is claiming that the Shroud of Turin has markings on it that prove it was not a forgery and really was the burial cloth of Jesus.

Meanwhile in Europe they are staring up the big bang machine and circulating protons around in an effort to be scientific.

I suppose that if I were forced to choose I'm more religious than scientific mostly because I was sent to a Catholic school where religious teachings were delivered as truths and the nuns frankly didn't know much about science. They were good English teachers though.

Yet I'm wondering...should we be messing around with this stuff?

Sure if the show The Big Bang Theory is any sort of barometer the scientists are smarter than me (and where else would I be getting my science knowledge from these days).

And don't even get me started on Penny (she's always been a favorite of mine).

But when we start swinging protons around and smashing atoms, and doing whatever else we're doing, aren't we sort of messing with the natural order of things, whatever that may be?

And to doubt the Shroud of Turin? Sister Ambrosete would hammer you with the ruler if you even thought that.

As usual there is so much out there that can get you confused and I'm sure that little bits of proof will send the conspiracy theorists into a tizzy.

That is of course, until Leonard and Sheldon blow the whole freaking thing skyhigh.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Mirror, Mirror On the Wall

Bah! I travel a little so I usually get the room upgrade with the points. At the particular chain I stay with their best room is the jacuzzi suite and it is certainly not an upgrade.

First off, I'm not of the mind to set my own jacuzzi bath - I've always had a fundamental problem of washing with the water my ass is in.

Secondly, these rooms are not supposed to be for solo acts - because there are freaking mirrors everywhere. Being that I've become nearly fully nocturnal for the first time since I was an infant, I have spent a lot of awake time catching glimpses of myself moving around the big room.

Let me tell you - I've seen some things. Things that no man should ever see and things that billions of women would turn away from - and have!

There's a mirror in the freaking tub. I won't even enter that area until it fogs over. There's a huge mirror above the sink, one on the wall just outside the bathroom door, and God help me, one on the back of the bathroom door so that if you close the freaking door you can see yourself near, or on the toilet.

I came real close to scratching my eyes out this morning.

As I type this there is a mirror directly above the desk and I'm noticing the bags under my eyes, but the real problem is the eyebrows.

What the hell are those?

Did anyone other than my wife, who is not real shying about expressing her opinion, ever look at my eyebrows and wonder WTF?

Mirror, mirror on the wall - leave me the frig alone, please!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Up Before the Dawn

It was an early morning yesterday and I was up before the dawn.

That's a Supertramp lyric I do believe. It kept ringing in my head this morning. I was wide awake by 4 this morning and it isn't because Bruce will be ringing through town on Sunday. I've seen him enough to be able to hold back the excitement.

And it isn't because I was dreaming about the 27-TIME WORLD CHAMPION YANKEES - they've also won enough for me to get used to it.

I wasn't worried about the next Bills coach - I'm quite aware they'll bungle that.

Thanksgiving worries? or Christmas shopping? Nah - what happens happens.

No, it was simply the feeling that I'd slept enough.

Yet there isn't a lot to do this early. I read for a bit, plotted the day ahead, and considered everything from Sarah Palin to the swine flu and figured they were both plagues we can do little about.

The prevailing thought was that it was simply a shame that I used to get in at four and was rested when I got up two hours later, but that was about twenty-five years ago. It's strange what happens to your body and mind in that span of time.

I recall being in college and being a bit loud as I returned home from a party with a group of friends at about ten PM - an "old" guy stood on his porch yelling at us because we were being loud in the middle of the night.

I remember laughing at the guy and wondering why he was so uptight, and why he thought ten o'clock was the middle of the night.

Ah well, I wouldn't change much about how I lived back then, but knowing what I know now I may not have laughed at the "old" guy. Ten o'clock is a prime sleeping hour.

Now I feel like going back to bed.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Around and Around We Go

Yesterday was a tough day for my boy Jake. Not only did his report card show up, but he also had basketball after school, and he didn't get the game he wanted from Block Buster. (The report card was okay, but okay doesn't always work with me - I didn't get on him - just my standard - you can do better).

Of course I knew he was a bit glum when he sat down to watch television with me at about 7:30, his face a mask of despair.

Still, since I'm the happiness-maker, I tried to just fake him through it.

"Hey buddy, what's going on?" I asked.

Jake shook me off and looked at the ice cream cone he was holding.

"You can tell me," I said.

"Well," he said, choosing his words carefully, "I've just been disappointed by some things lately."

It was such an innocent statement - one that can only be truly spoken by children that it kind of tore a hole through me as he said it. I wasn't right there with my "suck it up and tough it out speech" instead, I was speechless.

No one ever wants to hear one of their children ever say they are disappointed, right? Not even if it seems to be a bit trivial.

Yet Jake couldn't even finish his thought because he was too upset. He just left it hanging there.

"I've just been disappointed by some things lately."

There were so many things I could have said to help him talk his way through it.

I debated telling him that life is a shit sandwich and that you're better off just eating the bread.

I could have explained that this too shall pass,and that the sun will come up tomorrow.

I could have jumped off the couch and tried to solve his problems one at a time for him.

Instead, I let it stand.

Yeah, life is disappointing sometimes. There isn't any getting around it. Sometimes there are moments when the disappointments come one after another.

Yet, about an hour later, we were all laughing hard at Sam's response to a couple of questions on his reading comprehension test. (Sam got a 91 on the test, but he completely butchered two answers and it was quite comical).

I'm sure that Jake was still feeling a little disappointed, but the hard laugh brought him around and gave him the reason to believe that things could go better for him perhaps tomorrow.

I certainly hope he has a perfect day today.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thank God for Sarah

Every time I get down in the dumps a little Sarah Palin comes to the forefront spouting her agenda and I laugh, and laugh, and laugh...

Today she is quoted as saying that Obama is at about 4 out of 10 in his job performance. When asked to expand on it she said, "I can see Russia from my house."

Are we really serious about her running for the highest office in the land? She makes W look like a Rhodes Scholar.

She makes me look like Albert Einstein.

I can't help it - I'm not pushing any agenda here, she just makes me laugh with the snowmobile races, the moose hunting, the crazy kids, her son-in-law in Playgirl, the talk of a reality show, the red dress, the traveling around the country, the youbetcha, the Katie Couric interview, a complete lack of knowledge, seven colleges to complete her bachelor's.

I can't wait for Tina Fey to come back and make fun of her.

Yet this time, I needed Sarah to come back to the forefront. I was feeling a little down and she made me laugh again. I'm sure Obama is trying hard to figure out how he can raise his grade to a five or so.

Perhaps I'll read her book to further my good mood. I've always wanted to know what it's like to gut a deer.

Please - go back to Alaska.

Better yet, tell us about your agenda to save America.

That'll be side-splittingly funny.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Lonely Bar Run

I went to college with an ex-marine, Hiram, who could have snapped me in two without much effort. Fortunately we were friends.

Yet for a little while there we were both pursuing the same girl. It was a good thing we were friends because he saw me doing what I call "dancing" with her one night.

Of course, he got the girl.

I was dismayed,but as I've said - we were buddies.

So he grabbed me one night, put me in a semi-headlock and told me that he was sorry I didn't get the girl. He also explained that the best way to handle disappointment is to do a "lonely bar run".

"No friends - no excess drinking - no feeling sorry for yourself. Just sit down, have a couple of beers and concentrate on getting your shit together."

I had forgotten Hiram's advice until late in the day today.

After work, I remembered Hiram, the girl, and the only other time I'd ever done a lonely bar run and I recalled that it had worked.

So I sat down, had a beer and a shot of Jameson's. Actually, I had one for Jeff and one for myself, and in my mind, I told him the Bruce, Clarence and Matsui story.

I didn't go to excess.

I didn't feel sorry for myself.

I did it alone.

Thanks, Hiram. I felt better.

Wonder whatever happened to that girl?

Who cares? Mine is better.

Bruce, Clarence and Matsui

Man, I tell you, this grief is a violently nasty thing to deal with - even eight months later.

Yesterday afternoon I settled in to watch the Bills - quickly lost interest, thought about a nap, and instead grabbed the new autobiography by Clarence Clemons of the E Street Band. For the next ten minutes or so I was thoroughly entertained by a story that happened during the '08 tour.

To know the complete story you might have to read Clarence's book or call me to ask about it, but the short version had Bruce, Clarence and Hideki Matsui sharing a ride from Boston to New York.

It was a funny tale about three of my heroes, so naturally, I wanted to share it...

And I tried to share it - I told it to my brother Jim. I relayed it to my wife. I tried to call my sister...

And it dawned on me that I wasn't going to get the reaction I was looking for. I wouldn't be able to get the one reaction that I clearly needed - that of Jeff.

And it crippled me - it is still crippling me right now.

My first impulse is to drink. Anyone want to help with that?

My second impulse is to suck it up and tough it out. Need help there too.

I went back to the Bills game and watched TO throw a fit because he can't get the ball. I wanted to tell him something about life and acting like a human being. I shut it down. Spoiled bastards.

So here I sit.

Still trying hard to get through this little episode, but just know that if Bruce, Clarence and Matsui end up ordering a pizza from you, you'll get one hell of a tip.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

City of Ruins

The television show Extreme Makeover was in town this week and they certainly, through the use of volunteers, did a wonderful job of re-doing a home in a battered part of town. Kudos.

The grim reality of it being, of course, is that most of the city is in the same sort of shape. It's shocking to drive on the east side of Buffalo and see the boarded up homes, the unmowed lawns, and the broken glass. It's disheartening to travel to the west side too, or to the Black Rock district, or downtown.

Last week I walked Main Street in the middle of a beautiful afternoon. Storefront after empty storefront, I was expecting to see a tumbleweed roll down the center of the track. A ghost town like the old west.

And yet every once in awhile people step up and help out. There were hundreds and hundreds of people there to greet the new family as they looked at their rebuilt home.

I'm sure that most people went down in an effort to get on television, but why they pitched in isn't all that important. They fixed up one home and it's a start.

Unfortunately, like most every city in America the team from Extreme Makeover can save a lot of money on transportation costs by just moving down the street, one house at a time, and every house doesn't have to become a castle.

A few coats of paint, a working lawnmower, someone to take down the boards and fix up the windows, or better yet, perhaps the makeover can be about respecting property, and taking pride in ownership.

That is the makeover we really need.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Confidence

There are no sure ways to raise kids are there?

Some people believe that children should be coddled, hidden from the evil of the world, and sheltered from seeing anything other than what is wonderful, and natural and beautiful.

There are other children who grow to adults having already seen and done it all. In this day and age some of the true horrors of life are just a few mouse clicks away.

As a parent there is plenty to get you confused, and in the back of your mind there is always fear.

Are we doing this right?

I'll tell you one thing I know for sure - there has never been a Fazzolari kid born who lacked confidence.

I relay all of this after having watched Sam and Jake answer questions posed to them on Facebook. Sam was asked if he could date someone who would they be most like - and he answered, 'Me.'

Perfect.

And the kids run around here so cocksure of everything that comes out of their mouths. They know they're funny, and smart, and happy and that life is theirs for the taking.

And in the end the greatest gift we've been able to provide is confidence.

Confidence in the fact that they are loved. Confidence in the fact that they are able to grow at their own pace, and confidence in the fact that we have their back if they need it.

Pretty funny though actually to think of one sentence that will never be spoken:

"Meet ---- Fazzolari. S/He's pretty shy."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday the 13th

My son Jake was born on a Friday the 13th so I don't get real excited about the terror of the day anymore although maybe I should.

The movie 2012 is about to be released and it talks about the end of the world in one fell swoop. There are actually people out there who've sold everything they owned in preparation for such a day. They seem to be idiots to me.

Yet we are just a couple of weeks past Halloween too and this morning I read a story about John Wetteland, the relief pitcher from the 1996 27-TIME WORLD CHAMPION NEW YORK YANKEES, and he had to be rushed to the hospital. A quote in the story said that Wetteland had always battled demons.

And that's the sort of thing that caught my eye.

Who isn't battling demons of sorts?

Aren't we all sort of in that fight on a day-to-day basis? Whether they are demons that result from reliving a prior tragedy, or demons that show themselves through the face of addiction, or just demons that come as the part of the original sin package, there are certainly demons that exist in our own mind that need to be battled back.

Isn't that the eternal struggle? Doesn't it all boil down to good versus evil?

I'm fond of saying that no one gets through unscathed, but to blame it all on demons seems as silly to me as saying that we are not in control of our own destiny. Obviously we don't have ultimate control, but action is required, right?

I've heard of people who speak of giving up complete control in their lives and make decisions on what they believe God tells them to do. I'm thinking of those who do not believe in treating illness because God will provide.

That won't quite work, right?

I'm not trying to get too philisophical this morning, but saying that you were captured by demons feels to be a cop-out of sorts. Just as saying that God will provide when you don't sort of force the action in one way or another.

I knew a woman a few years ago who owed me rent money but was a few hundred dollars shy. She softly told me that she was flat broke with no chance of earning anything more that month. She was sitting on the couch eating a take-out breakfast that she had delivered, and when I pressed her a bit she pointed to the crucifix hanging high on her wall.

"He will provide an answer," she said as she blessed herself with pieces of egg rolling down her chin.

"Yeah, well where is His checkbook?" I asked, "because I need the money you owe me."

She laughed and shook me off as though I were completely in the dark.

"He is in control," she whispered.

I never did get that money.

Now that's not to say that there is no guiding hand in all of this, but believing that every day living will be handled by a higher power without you so much as getting off the couch is crazy talk. So is blaming your problems on demons.

I'm just saying.

Friday the 13th is all just a bunch of crap, right?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Learning to Rise Above

Every month I head into Women & Children's Hospital of Buffalo, either to attend the parent advisory meeting for Family-Centered Care or to greet new nurses on their way in to let them know that parents should have a voice in the care of their children.(Yeah, yeah, it's tough greeting the new nurses, but someone has to do it).

I've been proud to be on the Advisory Board since it started back about five or six years ago and it pains me when I can't attend one of the meetings. I've told the story about Jake's care - before he arrived at the hospital, while he was there, and since - about 300 times - and walking through those doors each and every time brings back a ton of the fear that I felt eight years ago.

Yet before me at every meeting are parents and nurses who seem so much stronger than me. There are mothers who have special needs children (twenty-four hour a day care), there are parents who have lost their children, and there are nurses and doctors who have seen so much pain. Way too much pain.

And attending the meetings always feels the same to me - I dread it heading through the doors, I grow invigorated when I realize that I can help impact change, and I'm in awe as I leave, wondering how some of the people involved find the strength every day.

We all have jobs to do. Most of our jobs don't mean the difference of life and death. They do not test our reserve for compassion day after day, hour after hour.

Yet I'm not naive enough to believe that every one in every hospital all across the country does their very best every moment of every day.

I'm sure that there are people who cut corners. I know that a lot of mistakes are made - there are human beings at work there.

Yet the visits certainly give me a charge and it allows me to see the very best of people who really, really care.

The meetings, of course, are not very well-attended by people who are just punching the clock and putting in their time, but I'm not ready to talk about them today.

I'm just thankful for the people who try to rise above the mess of life.

It does my heart good to hang around with those types of souls.

Buy the Book

Saw a Stephen King Press Conference on the release of his new book...

I like Stephen King even though he's a Red Sux fan. I loved that he would read between innings of the World Series games. I would read too if I had to cheer for those lowlifes.

Yet I also enjoy that he promotes reading. There is still nothing better than reading a good book. It's always better than the movie and a hundred times better than the audio books. There is something special about just being lost in a story and thinking along with the author.

Of course, I might be biased here. I learned to write because of a love for reading. I've actually kind of set a record lately, reading just one book after another, kind of trying to escape into a place where things can be controlled and make a little sense.

There is a lot of talk these days that books will go to the wayside because of the freaking Internet and Facebook and Twitter and stupid, self-serving blogs.

Oops, I do most of those things.

Yet I like King believe that there will always be a place for bound thoughts and I still believe that ten bucks for a book to hold and save and slap a fly with is the greatest of bargains.

Through the years I've signed a lot of books and it pains me to see them on E-Bay,or know that they are in the bottom of some one's book cabinet, collecting dust. Each one is a child of sorts, and you want everyone who ever plucks down the money for them to appreciate what you were thinking.

I'll most likely buy the new Stephen King book. He may be a Red Sux fan while I am a fan of the 27-TIME WORLD CHAMPION NEW YORK YANKEES - but we will be forever linked on the Internet as we both wrote and published a book called Desperation.

It always thrills me to enter Desperation into Google and see our names side-by-side.

Bad news for Stephen King.

Like our baseball teams - my version of Desperation was better.

His sold more.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I Used to Care

I see they put the sniper to death this morning. In years and days past that would have annoyed me to all hell. I was always so vehemently opposed to the death penalty.

Today...I didn't care.

Not that I have changed all of my bleeding heart ways, but what the hell can be done?

I've always argued that curbing violence by committing violence doesn't make a lot of sense.

That's kind of like telling your kids not to play with the oven or you're going to burn their fingers off.

Then I would compare it to baling water out of an overflowing sink - you can't cure the problem until you get rid of the clog, right?

Then I used to moan and this is the big one - that those put to death are the ones that can't afford to defend themselves.

That one still bugs me now that I think of it - Capital Punishment is the only law on the books that is given only to the poor and it isn't right.

So, how did I react this morning when Howard Stern's crew commented on the sniper's death?

I didn't cheer like Artie and Howard, but I didn't feel disgusted either.

I couldn't help but think of the loved ones of all the people that those two idiots murdered. I know the pain and I can't imagine the anger in such a situation as that.

So, he's gone - I didn't release the gas that killed him - or however the hell he met his end - but I can't say as I'll miss him either.

I'm too tired to worry about it anymore.

I used to care...now I don't.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

FACEBOOK

Well, I broke down and started looking at it every once in awhile. My wonderful sister established it for me and even though I didn't really need another site to go to, I decided to check in one day...

...and now I have another avenue to talk with old friends that I haven't seen in awhile and I'm starting to come around to the idea, I suppose.

Yet I still don't get it completely.

Why do people post what they're having for dinner? Or that they just brushed their teeth? And what's up with all of these damn games?

I can't keep up!

Also every morning I get to read someone else's horoscope - why would I care?

The cool thing about it is that I'm friends with my boys and just the other day I received an e-mail that said "Kathy and Cliff Fazzolari are now friends!"

That was refreshing.

Anyway, I don't know where all of this is headed. We are all sharing our thoughts, days, and actions - one big community, I suppose, and it doesn't seem to hurt anyone, right?

Until someone steals all of our identities and signs us up for the War in Iraq.

Ah, well, why worry about it?

Now what the hell is Twitter?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Need Advice?

During lunch, with no more baseball to read about, I was reading Ann Landers or Dear Abby or whatever the hell it was and I scanned a letter from a man who was so torn up with a potential problem.

Seems that his wife was getting on him a bit because in the morning he shares the bathroom with their teenage daughter - he shaves while she's in the shower and they talk the entire time. He wanted to know if it was inappropriate that it went down like this because his wife was giving him grief.

Listen... I don't know everything, and I don't have any teenage daughters, but do you really have to sit down and write a letter to a newspaper to get a handle on whether or not you should be in the bathroom with your naked daughter?

Most of those letters are usually of that variety, but Ann Landers and Dr. Abby seem to be very important in handling the crisis' of the day. I love the ones that try to talk you into their side of the story.

For instance:

"I'm a battered wife who works three jobs to support my deadbeat husband who drinks himself to oblivion every day. Yet after the daily beat-down he is usually so sweet and a couple of weeks ago he brought me flowers that he hand-picked from behind the trailer after he went there to take a piss. Should I leave him or just tough it out?"

And then they sign it with some neat moniker - the above lady used something like -Still Hopelessly in Love in LA.

Even better are the ones that say something like:

"My husband always puts the toothpaste on the wrong side of the medicine cabinet after he's done using it. How can I make him put it where I want him to put it?"

First off - if that's your biggest problem, you're doing all right.

Secondly - if you were my wife you'd be about halfway through that letter before I had you hauled away and sent to the loony bin. You have to ask Ann Landers that?

...just my gripe for the day...it's like that old cartoon strip Blondie...I used to be halfway through it when I'd ask myself...why the hell am I reading this?

Perhaps I need to write Ann Landers a letter. Here goes:

"Every day my eyes are drawn to the senseless questions your dimwitted readers write to you and your lame brain answers. How do I stop reading your useless drivel?" Signed - Mentally Deficient in Buffalo.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Chow Down, Wide Load

In the early evening, after scrapping plans to have a few drinks to celebrate the Yanks, I headed outside to drop off the garbage. From the garage I heard the shouts of Matt, Jake and Sam as they played ping-pong and laughed.

I had a serious flashback to my youth and playing with my brothers - we were a walking two-on-two game ready to happen - in every sport. The teams were always John and Jeff against Jim and me. We usually lost - first off because if we won John would kick the shit out of us, and secondly because Jeff was better than us - being the youngest didn't stop him - his hands were just quicker.

So, I headed to the garage. Jake was sitting out as Sam was playing Matt - obviously a distinct disadvantage for Sam, but you would have never known it from the chirping he was doing - "You suck!" he cried out just as I entered the garage.

"Let's go, two-on-two," I said. "Me and Jake."

The reason I chose Jake as a teammate was because I wanted to be able to control his emotions if we somehow fell behind - Jake is a lot like I was as kid - hating to lose - ever!

We started the game and I hit a slow serve to Sam, believing that just volleying a little would make it an enjoyable time for all of us - well, the little bastard ripped it back like a Chinese table top champion.

"One to nothing - get that crap out of here!" Sam yelled.

"Holy cripe," I said.

Matt laughed - "He has an unbelievable forehand."

For two games we lobbied back and forth with Sam ripping forehand after forehand just an inch over the net. If you don't know Sam, you have to picture it - he's nine years old and small for his age - skinny, short, and unbelievably active. It was shocking to see his hands move so quickly as he flicked the ball over the net.

The biggest thing on him is his mouth.

Thankfully we beat them, but only because Sam and Matt were having such a good time playing that they never really cared about the score.

As I walked from the garage, Sam was chirping at me.

"Yeah, keep walking," he called. "You don't want no more of this."

All that was missing was him calling out:

"Chow down, wide load," as his uncle may have said during a beer pong game.

Heather Heyer

She was a 32-year old woman who wanted to protest the white supremacists in her town. She got killed for her stance. And it's pretty...