Saturday, January 31, 2009

Evidence of Love

The walls of a hospital break down all of the barriers and bullshit veils that we use to get ourselves through the "normal" days. It is a place where egos are displaced (hopefully) and where people come together to offer their love.

The Woman and Children's Hospital of Buffalo showed me such love about seven years ago, and I am feeling much of the same love now at Mercy Hospital in South Buffalo. And once again, I marvel at the dedication of a staff of people who's job it is to work with all of the patients and their families.

The lesson of love being broken down and handed over is not lost on me. Yesterday I gazed out the window and watched the traffic flowing by, oblivious to my pain and the emergency in our lives.

The longer I looked out the window the more convinced I became that the chase for the usual things was just such an epic waste of time, but that's what happens in situations such as this.

Yet I thought of the people who read this blog and share my life with me, and again, I considered how trivial things can be, and how unimportant some of the stuff we worry about truly is - tell someone you love them today.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Second By Second

Second by second and minute by minute, I feel the love of a thousand close friends and a family so close and so full of love that nothing else matters other than the threat to one of our own.

Hour by hour and day by day we figure out what it means to be alive and go from the valley floor to the mountain top and sometimes back again at roller coaster, break-neck speeds. All of life is present in the span of the tiny period of time that usually makes up a day.

Each laugh is more pronounced. Every tear that sticks in your throat, threatens to close off your mind. And the body responds with a strength that hides until it is truly needed.

That the Lord provides the strength in such moments is the true miracle of it all, and that such a strength lives inside of us is the clear and present presence of something so strong and so unworldly that we wonder why we don't tap into it more and more during the routine spinning of the days.

Second by second, my brother recovers.

Moment by moment the world spins around.

Never before have we been so aware.

Keep the prayers coming.

There's a long way to go.

Find the strength inside of you to battle through and any of the usual muddying up routines that threaten your own daily plight.

The strength is there... I'm finding it every second of the way.

And for God's Sake... love those around you with every ounce of strength you have.

The rest of it doesn't matter.

Truly.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Life Itself

...rears it's ugly side. My brother needs your prayers. Jeff suffered a brain bleed and right now, I'm calling on every reader I have - I'm Counting on a Miracle again. Love, faith, hope. Come on - help us.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Rush Is Still A Big, Fat Idiot

Allrightythen - catch-up time:

--- The Super Bowl is this week and the Bills aren't in it. In fact, they were replaying their loss to the Giants the other night and I thought it might be cool to watch it again, but knowing the heartbreak of that ending, I couldn't stomach it. Thankfully, I don't have the same fever for football anymore, so I will never be left at the altar like that again.

With that being said... here you go Sterlinghouse - Steelers 35 Cardinals 21 - enjoy another championship, but don't you think you're getting a little hoggy with it now?

--- Caroline Kennedy bows out. What will the family do for money now that she's out of a job?

--- Rush says he hopes that Obama's policies fail. Geez, even for all of my distaste for the last disaster of a president, I never hoped he'd fail. I didn't agree, but I was kind of rooting for him. Al Franken titled his book, "Rush Limbaugh is a big, fat idiot." I thought it was a funny title, turns out it was non-fiction.

--- Bruce's new album is out tomorrow! Talk about Christmas Day! What's better - we should all get the day off to listen to it. I've heard a lot of it already - guess what? It's great - as I say to him during the last song of every concert - "Thank you!"

--- Happen to see the football coach who allegedly ran the kid to death without a drink of water? That very thing happened on a construction site here a couple of years back. It doesn't make the kid stronger. It doesn't make you a good coach, leader, or parent - it's just stupid. Pay the price.

--- More spending? Tax cuts all around? More regulation? De-Regulation? Does anyone know how to fix this? I see Citi-Bank is buying a new private jet - they needed that bail-out money desperately, huh?

--- Jessica Simpson is getting fat? I saw that screaming headline the other day. Then I saw a photo of her. I sure wish I was as "fat" as her.

--- Joe Torre wrote a book about the Yankees and slammed them. Talk about being conflicted about what I think - thanks for the memories, Joe, but every one's Mom explained it perfectly - "If you don't have something nice to say then don't say anything at all." What purpose did dishing on your own players serve?

--- I keep hearing the world is done in 2012. The sun is going to be out of alignment or some crap - how come all these soothsayers don't win the lottery every night?

--- Good night and good luck.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Stevie Wonder Can Do It



At the Inauguration I watched Stevie Wonder perform. I was simply in awe of the way he sang, played the piano, went to the harmonica, and moved his head from side-to-side while keeping the crowd in a frenzy. I thought of the fact that I can't pat my head and rub my stomach at the same time. And he's blind!

As I walked into the Awards Ceremony at the New England Book Festival, I felt really out of place - first off, I had decent clothes on and I hardly ever wear those, but not to disappoint, I wore tennis shoes with the dress pants. You expected perfection?

There was a man in the corner of the room playing the guitar, song after song, strumming the notes perfectly. He wasn't singing, just setting the mood. I marveled at how talented he was.

Three minutes later, I was talking with True Crime author M. William Phelps. I had read three or four of his books, and we immediately hit it off, discussing characters, the fact that we both hated the DaVinci Code, and how difficult it is to garner a top spot.

For the next few hours, we traded secrets, spoke of serial killers (he'd interviewed about a dozen of them) and talked about the difference between being a writer in New York as opposed to Buffalo.

One by one, we received our awards and made a speech about the book we were being honored for - it was an intimate setting and there was very little pretending because we had all been through the war, and we were all happy to be honored in front of our peers. Of course, I had no idea that they might ask me to speak, so they received a Heineken Light recap of why I wrote Nobody's Home and the family that was the basis for the story.

As I walked back to my seat, I thought - Man, I pulled it off.

Yet the emcee for the event read a letter explaining that there had been hundreds and hundreds of entries in the categories, and it was then that it dawned on me: I can barely pat my head and rub my stomach at the same time, but for one night, I belonged there - tennis shoes and all.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Writing Life

The humble will be exalted and the exalted will be humbled.

I've always loved that quote and have tried to remember it from day-to-day. Yet the problem with writing books is that you need to self-advertise from time-to-time. It's the absolute worst thing about the writing life.

Think of it, and consider why most writers are a little off. You work on something, completely alone, for months and months. Through it all you tell yourself that it's the greatest thing ever written, but you counter that with bouts of - this is complete garbage. Months - maybe years -later you put it out there and before it even gets by the editor, you have to swing into self-promotion mode. You have to explain why you sat alone in your room,for hours on end, to tell a story that maybe no one would want to, or ever have the chance to read. And in your mind, you try and stay stable, and if people like it, humble.

I'm attending the New England Book Festival because Nobody's Home won a bit of recognition in the fiction category. As I told some of my co-workers in the construction field about it, they were very understanding of course. From one, You write books? What a dork.

From another: You get to fly to another city to drink wine with other geek writers? Oh, I'm so jealous!

Even from my wife at Book-Expo New York a couple of years ago: Boy this is fun, people talking about books.

Yet there is certainly a passion involved. I will drink wine, or whatever alcoholic beverage I'm forced to drink.I will discuss what I've read and what I'll be writing. Despite my above-quote, I may feel a sense of pride when I discuss Nobody's Home and do you know why?

Because I know the reason why I wrote the book. I understand that it was a learning experience for me where I was taught by my wonderful editor the art of transition, and where I handled an emotional conflict that was awakened in me by a madman that lived in my hometown.

It's one hell of a conflicted life, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I'll be writing new things, real soon, because exalted or not, it answers the knock at the door in my own crowded head.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Helluva' Pickle

New York State is huge and I've learned that the hard way through the years; driving most of it on a rather routine basis. I know a lot of good places to eat, though - go figure.

This week I was in between Geneva and Watkins Glen when I remembered a gas station/diner that served actual hot lunches that were certainly better than what Mickey D's has to offer. It's a real bonus to watch your lunch actually being prepared.

The place was empty except for the two middle-aged women behind the counter. They were in the middle of a conversation about the daughter of the full-bodied woman at the grill. "So, I told her, you're sixteen, you're pregnant, and that piece of crap ain't going to help you."

It was about then that the other woman noticed me. "Can I help you?"

I ordered a cheeseburger, and the big woman tossed it onto the hot grill, and returned to her conversation about her daughter. "So these kids are 16 and they're going to raise a child of their own. Can you imagine?"

The skinny woman shook her head and looked up at me. "Her daughter is beautiful," she said to me. "I told you she was going to have guys lined up for her," she said to her friend.

"Yeah, well, she should get rid of it. I told her that," the woman flipped my cheeseburger.

"You have kids?" she asked me.

"Three," I said.

"Any teenagers?"

"One boy is 15," I said.

"Oh boy!" she said. "Can you imagine if he got a girl pregnant? What would you do?"

I wasn't real comfortable having the discussion and couldn't believe how breezy this woman spoke of some real difficult situations.

"I'm lucky if he remembers to put his shoes on before he leaves the house," I said.

The woman laughed. "Exactly! Now imagine if he came home and said he wanted to get married because he has a baby on the way. What would you do?"

I could smell my cheeseburger. I didn't want to answer. I just looked at the floor.

"Yeah, there's not much to say," the woman said. She turned to her friend once more as she slapped my burger on a roll and added lettuce and tomato. "She isn't living with me. I've been busting my ass for years. I don't need another baby around."

The woman laughed. She wrapped the burger and tossed it into the bag. I thought of the fact that her kid and the teenage father had robbed themselves of a lot of life.

I considered my own children, and the fact that if they did get into such a pickle, that I'd be able to help them without such public disdain. Those poor kids were in for a long, hard life.

"Can I get a pickle with that?" I asked. (After I had reminded myself of the pickle).

I'd love to tell you that the troubling conversation and the uncomfortable feelings had cured me of stopping at that particular rest stop... I'd love to tell you that, but that freaking cheeseburger was awesome.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Nobody

One of the cool things about being a parent is you get to share a lot of the old jokes and stories with the boys. I can distinctly recall my brothers, sisters and I sitting around listening to my father's old jokes - they are jokes I still tell to anyone I meet.

It's also crazy to think about what re-enters your mind years later, and that is one of the reasons why I always banter back and forth with the boys. I remember one night when my father put on the old show - Tiny Talent Time - and he sat around making fun of the contestants.

In any regard, my best time to bust the chops of my kids is first thing in the morning - I can't wait to wake them up and mess with them. One of the running jokes we share is the fact that they have to attend Art, Gym, and Religious Ed.

I drive both Jake and Sam crazy with questions about their friends, Art, Jim and Ed. Always adding - "Ed is that religious boy, right?"

I wish I had a nickel for every time that Sam has tried to argue that Art, Jim, and Ed don't exist, but that they are classes they are taking. I act befuddled - and the next morning, ask again. Just a friendly game that drives them crazy.

What's even worse is when I ask them about girls in their class. This was an actual exchange between Sam and I where he nearly popped a blood vessel.

Me: So what girl do you love?
Sam: Nobody
Me: That's a strange name - What does Nobody look like?
Sam: Nobody is just nobody!
Me: What was she wearing?
Sam: Uh! Nothing!
Me: She was naked?
Sam: Mom!

After teasing him in this manner for a little while, I tried my question again.

Me: So what girl do you love?
Sam: (In deep thought) Just Mom.
Me: That's my wife, you rat! Get your own girl!
Sam: Then nobody! I don't love nobody.
Me: I thought you told me earlier that you loved nobody.
Sam: Please, please, stop! Mom!

Kathy: Knock if off, you idiot.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hope and Fear

Obama's message was concise and clear. Since he's emerged on the scene, he hasn't had much of a problem bumbling and stumbling over his words like his predecessor.

And yet, there must be more behind the message then just fancy rhetoric. The idea of choosing hope over fear is a good one, but there will be plenty of people available to caution that having a sense of fear and diligence in this already changed world, is a good idea.

The festivity of the inaugural celebration can not overshadow the problems of the day however. Obama taking the big seat behind the big desk will not be a cure-all for what ails the country, and that is what appears to be a bit scary about the hundreds of thousands of people who made the trip to watch history being made.

If Obama feels like he's being set up to fail, he isn't showing much fear. Only hope. Yet there are plenty of people who see his election as the thing that will save their lives.

Maybe so, but if you didn't want to work before Obama became President, and you don't feel like working tomorrow, he probably won't have much of an impact on your life.

If you are not personally responsible for making your own way in what is still a land of infinite possibilities, you most likely won't get a hand-out that makes all of your dreams come true.

In other words, there is a lot of work to be done, and each American, while feeling either relief or disdain, must understand that the work comes from within. The light you're searching for, you won't likely find in another man's words or action. That light must come from within.

Now I know that isn't a new thought, but one that must be really felt in this time of change.

Obama was elected by a pretty good margin. He will most likely be given the opportunity to make it work, but the change he is speaking of is dependant upon the wills of us all.

I'm sick of the transition - it's way too long - let's get on with the show now- and remember we're Americans, Dammit, we'll make it through.

And that's the hope he's selling.

And it's better than fear.

Monday, January 19, 2009

See What Love Can Do

My first step out of the car was into a job site where the wind was whipping pretty good and although it was about 15 degrees (which was a heat wave after last week), cold air ruled the day. I ran smack into an acquaintance who is all about his right to shoot his gun, the need to blow all Muslims off the map, and terror alerts across the land. "Merry Martin Luther King Day," he said. "Or is it Happy Martin Luther Day."

"Either way," I said. "I'm sure you're thrilled with it."

"You have to be in your glory with all this talk about dreams, love, peace, and happiness," he said. "Pretty soon we'll have an Obama day too."

"Man, you're wound up," I said.

"How can I not be? Peace, love and understanding," he mocked. "The change is in the air. Let's see what love can do."

My friend's sarcasm wasn't entirely lost on me. He had argued that with the change in leadership, America was certainly in for an awakening. He had told me of my imminent death at the hands of all sorts of terrorists. We had playfully bantered back and forth about who's fault the last eight years were.

Yet what he said today kind of stopped me in my tracks. "Let's see what love can do."

Sort of a novel concept I suppose in this time of war, and uncertainty. This guy was speaking of love as if it were a horrible idea. Believe it or not, I knew what he was saying, but is it possible that love can be a bad idea? Will we suffer if we strive for dignity and respect?

For me, it's always been the idea that we can only control what we can control. Blind hatred for Arabs in my life doesn't do much for me. Hatred in your own heart is a little like burning down your house to get rid of a mouse in the cupboards.

The other day I was talking to my boy Matt - we were discussing the bad behavior of a football star - "The way he acts has no impact on my life," Matt said.

Not a bad way of looking at things - in any regard - the change is certainly in the air. Every time we walk by a television set today we will hear MLK give his speech - some might say a rather idealistic look at things, a long time ago.

And tomorrow Obama will take his place in history - and hopefully - he will do his job with peace, love, respect and understanding in his heart. It doesn't mean he has to be soft. It doesn't mean we will have to be victims of another attack.

Change is in the air - perhaps seeing what love can do - will be beneficial.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bitter, Old and Mean

Caught the Clint Eastwood movie, Gran Torino, last night. The man does his job well. I've actually enjoyed his later movies more than I ever liked the Dirty Harry stuff.

Yet, there were moments when, through the laughter, I shifted uncomfortably in my seat and it's because Eastwood's character had lived his life, only to wind up alone, a bitter man, aggravated about everything.

I'm only 44 and I'm almost there. Everyone in the theatre was laughing too and I imagine its because we've all had such thoughts, and we see ourselves in the character.

Yet I've known for some time that being right all the time has its downside. My wife hung a button on the file cabinet on my desk - I can see it from every vantage point - that says - "Those who think they know everything annoy those of us who do."

I'm sure that I've annoyed others - particularly now that we are snowed in the house for what might be the rest of time - and knowing that things need to be done my way -is particularly annoying for those who don't perform according to my schedule.

Which of course, is the crux of the movie, the focal point of the character, and the reason why I'll most likely be barricaded in my own thoughts come twenty five years or so.

Of course, I can't spoil the movie, right? Yet there is a true peace in understanding that you aren't always right and that there is another point-of-view that sometimes deserves to be considered.

I sure as hell don't feel like thinking about that today - maybe tomorrow.

Likely not.

Why can't everyone just see it through my eyes?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

To the Birds

That pilot certainly did a remarkable job putting that plane down gently in the Hudson River. Good old Sully should be congratulated for doing his job perfectly and sparing the lives of all those people. Remarkable, actually, and he has been humble since the landing, not looking for glory, just behaving like a solid professional. Makes you wonder about those guys who spike the football and do a dance after scoring - what would we have thought had Sully escaped the cockpit and did the Icky Shuffle?

Couple questions, though - a flock of geese can take down two engines? Can we put a barrier up to keep the geese from getting to the engines? Why didn't the Wright Brothers account for such a happenstance? Seems to me it should be correctable, but then again, I can't even get the hang of pulling my nail clippers out of my carry-on bag.

Then the human element - when the plane is dropping and the captain is saying 'brace for impact,' what goes through your mind?

Most everyone was praying. Certainly a solid option - if you've ever needed God - that's certainly the time to call on Him (or Her - though I seriously doubt that).

Other passengers were writing love notes to be discovered at the crash scene. That must be a harrowing moment for sure. I remember being on an airplane from California back to New York sandwiched between my brother and a Chinese woman who didn't speak nor understand a word of English. She motioned to us in the middle of the turbulence and my brother, Jim, mimicked a flying motion, a quick sudden drop, and a fiery crash. The woman's eyes were as big as silver dollars as my brother and I laughed our asses off.

On that flight, I asked Jim what he would do if he knew he only have five minutes left to live. He thought about it for a long moment and then said, "I'd probably do at least two of the stewardesses."

Thank God that woman didn't speak English.

In any regard, they are calling it the Miracle on the Hudson. I'm sure Old Sully isn't buying into the miracle talk - he did what he was trained to do - but deep down, even the most atheistic of all of the passengers, must admit that God had a hand in the safe landing.

I'm just waiting for PETA to file charges for the dead geese.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Farewell...And Almost Farewell

"I can't believe you're watching him," my wife said as I settled in to watch W's farewell speech last night.

Yet I was thinking that I would see a real human moment - a moment when, while walking away, the guard would come down and perhaps the guy everyone wanted to drink a beer with, would cop to the problems that we were having, and overcome by sadness, he would try and make amends.

Instead, it was a canned speech that, if you weren't paying attention, you'd think that the two presidential terms just completed were the greatest ever. We've brought Democracy to the world, we've handled the AIDS epidemic, we fought back the terrorists, economically we've made sound decisions, torture is necessary.... blah, blah... blah - I didn't see a human moment, just more arrogance, fear-mongering, and that stupid smirk that appears on his face every time he gets a complete sentence out.

"What did you think?" my wife asked when it was over.

"Well it would be like me saying - we're broke, our neighbors hate us, the dogs want out, the roof leaks and it's raining, but at least our house only got broken into once - and it hasn't happened in eight years - Thank God I've been such a good leader."

As a good friend of mine said, "Bush did one thing - he united the country like no other leader has."

"What? Are you kidding me?" I argued.
"We're united," he said. "We all hate him."

Farewell.

Now the almost farewell - a co-worker and I met in downtown Buffalo and crossed Chippewa to go to a restaurant for lunch - it was so cold out that we never stopped to greet each other, and we were walking fast through the intersection. Two steps slower and we would have both died. Just after stepping onto the curb, a SUV came around the corner and moving quickly, smashed into two parked cars - three feet from where we were standing. I believe I said, "Holy shit, Batman," and my buddy actually squealed.

There was a mother behind the wheel and three kids in the backseat - thankfully no one was hurt.

"Two seconds difference between life and death," my buddy said.

I was so upset I almost didn't finish my 2nd Burrito.

Almost farewell.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Dreading It

I was absolutely dreading a 6 AM meeting with a long-standing client. I tried to get the meeting changed to a more reasonable hour, telling the owner that I needed to watch cartoons while getting dressed for work, but he didn't buy it.

So, I arrived 15 minutes early, still shaking sleep from my mind, and chugging a cup of coffee. I entered the work shop and nearly ran smack into an 85-year-old man who was helping out in the shop. There was a small space-heater at his feet, but it wasn't doing much, if you ask me. The weatherman had been calling for sub-zero temps, and I was actually scared for the old guy.

Over coffee, I watched him sort garbage out of a bucket of nails so that the guys in the crew didn't have to do it.

"It's cold out today, right?" I asked.
"It's all in the way you look at it," the old man said. "If you just dress for it, it ain't so bad."

Slowly but surely we discussed why in the hell he was awake at 5:45 AM sorting nails.

"I don't need to work anymore," he said. "But I ain't much for sitting around. I was watching the late news with my wife telling her I had to be here by five and she asked me when I was going to retire. I told her, 'Give me another ten years.' Then I shut off the news because I learned long ago that the news on at 11PM is the same news that you hear in the morning."

We both laughed.

"I've been working for 70 years now. I don't know how to quit."
"How long have you been married?" I asked.

"59 years," he answered. "And it's been great. We haven't loved each other every single minute, but we always worked at it. We raised four kids and they all did fine. We even had to bury my oldest son who died of cancer."

The man's voice trailed off. I shivered a little and slugged my coffee.

"But it's been all right," he added.

He asked me about my family and quizzed me on my marriage. "Couples today give up too easy," he said. "59 years is something I'm proud of."

I realized that I had to get into the scheduled meeting so I shook hands with Ray and told him to stay warm.

"You didn't feel like getting out of bed this morning, did you?" he asked.
"Not really," I said. "I was sort of dreading it."
"I never dread the moment when my feet hit the floor," he said.

Thanks Ray - good life, solid man - stay warm, buddy.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Guilt-Free in a $7 Million Condo

Last week I returned to my car in a completely empty parking lot on the campus of Cornell University. There was a parking ticket flapping in the breeze under my windshield wiper, and I reacted like every other man or woman who ever received a parking ticket has reacted since the beginning of time. "This is bullshit!" I screamed to the inside of my car.

I even had to bury the ticket under the sports section of the USA Today so I wouldn't catch a glimpse of it and get aggravated all over again. "I'm not paying it," I said every three minutes during the two hour ride home.

Yesterday, I wrote a check and paid the freaking ticket. Thirty bucks gone and not a damn thing in return.

Yet it's about personal responsibility, isn't it? I could have found a meter, dug out some coins, and made a longer walk to the meeting. I didn't. I was lazy, got busted for it, and had to make amends.

So, how does this Madoff guy show his face? Allegedly, he stole about $50 billion and was granted bail. He gets to live in his $7 million condo as people jump to their deaths, crash airplanes to escape their lives, and lament the loss of every nickel they ever worked for. Today Madoff showed up for court, after mailing out over a million dollars of assets, to once again have at his bail situation looked at - the judge ruled he can remain in his home.

Besides asking how that can possibly be, I am left wondering how this guy even gets out of bed in the morning. Now I know he's still innocent until proven guilty, but doesn't he have a twinge of guilt?

He wore a bullet-proof vest to court today - he must have an inkling someone is mad at him. Hell, he even wiped out Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgewick - and who doesn't like them?

I would have never made it as a criminal I suppose and I must thank the nuns who filled me with enough guilt to start my own religion. If a cop pulls up beside me on the Thruway I start thinking about things that I might possibly be doing wrong. I could never drive the get-a-way car, I suppose.

Meanwhile, this joker that made-off with everyones money is smiling to the cameras -they should lock him up just for that.

Steal a little and they throw you in jail - steal a lot and they make you a king.

Hunter's Hope

This year the Hunter's Hope Day for Children will be held on February 14, 2009 from 5 PM to 8 PM. I have been invited back to sign copies of House of Miracles and Counting on a Miracle to benefit Women & Children's Hospital and Hunter's Hope.

I'll be bringing all of my books too - so if you're missing anything come on out. Yet the most important part of the event is what it means to so many people. My kids love to go - and it's cool signing books with them watching - they think I'm a big geek, but they like it too.
As you will note Jill Kelly was unable to make me look good at last year's event, but it wasn't her fault.
The thing about the celebration that means so much to me is that the Kelly's do understand the big picture. They continue to work hard to help other sick children. In fact, they are working to ensure that other children are not faced with the sort of prognosis that Hunter suffered from. It's a heartwarming event with plenty to do.
Finally, it is also a celebration of children - and you should see the kids running around, laughing, playing games, and eating candy.


So I hope to see you there- I'm even thinking of combing my hair this year.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Addicted!

PacMan Jones is a football player who's been suspended for a year, cut from a couple of different teams, and he remains a defiant human being by all accounts.

This morning I saw an interview with PacMan (can you imagine being a grown man with such a name?) where he claimed a helpless addiction to drinking and hanging out in strip clubs. Watching it long enough, I almost felt sorry for him.

David Duchovney is suffering from a sex addiction. The poor guy couldn't get over his problem quick enough to keep it from costing him his marriage.

Yet we all seem to be addicted to something, now don't we? I certainly have an addictive personality and I have had trouble battling back addictions from day one.

I've been to parties where I've told my wife -"I'm not leaving until all the alcohol is gone."

I've been addicted to nicotine for years.

I certainly can be obsessive about eating.

I can play the slot machines without interruption and I've thrown caution to the wind a few times.

Then I listened to Howard Stern - his sidekick Artie Lange has been addicted to heroin. When he was confronted by the comedian Richard Lewis who almost killed himself with his addiction to booze, Lange admitted that he knew he was killing himself.

Yet the addictions that tear us apart are often the very things that keep us excited about being alive.

Why are we drawn to the very things that can ultimately cause absolute destruction?

Thankfully, I became addicted to my family, my dogs, the Yankees, writing, reading, and Springsteen.

Over the years I have been able - mostly - to substitute my healthy addictions for my not-so-healthy ones, but I do have a soft spot in my heart for the people who fail to keep their head above water.

Admit it - you're addicted to something that can tear you apart.

Do yourself a favor, stay on top of it, or you'll end up like Pacman, Duchovney or millions before who had to beg to get back into the good graces of those they love.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Lamest of Ducks

Doesn't it feel as though it's been about three years since Obama was elected president?

There are people already lined up to complain about the job he's doing. I overheard a man on one of the work sites complaining that Obama hasn't been any better then Bush.

Uh, he hasn't started yet.

Which gets me wondering. Do we really need a 70-day transition period? Back up the U-Haul and switch out the gear. If they time it right, Bush and Obama can switch places without even seeing one another.

What's transpired since the election anyway?

Obama picked his cabinet in about three days. Then he went to Hawaii, to celebrate Christmas and New Year's. Lately the most pressing issue has been electing the family dog.

Bush has continued his march through the country telling us why he's been a great president.

Seriously.

So what's left to do? I'm not sure all the switcheroo entails, but it seems quite a long while to leave the lamest of all ducks in charge as we continue to spiral down.

I must admit though, I felt a tug at my heart strings when Bush shed a tear after a reporter asked him if he understood that he was one of the least popular presidents in history. I don't think he even knew how bad it was getting.

Oh well - 8 days until we see Oprah on a float or Oprah as a float, ah, whatever...

Bring on the change.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Preying On People

Snowbound with the television going isn't the best recipe for getting your mind going. Thankfully there has been a lot of football on the past two weekends. Hell, yesterday I didn't put my shoes on even once.

Of course, the downside of it is that I've had the chance to see a lot of the news - from the trouble in the Gaza Strip to the Madoff rip-off of seemingly every person in America there's a lot to get you thinking.

Yet what caught my attention most are the endless advertisements from the lawyers who want to help you sue someone, anyone, for millions of dollars. The ads run every ten minutes and they offer promise. "You have a cold? It might be from pollution at your desk at work. Call us for free, and we'll make you a millionaire."

Here in the Buffalo area we have a lawyer who's name rhymes with car - so he has become an expert in suing other drivers who may have been in that automobile that banged into you on the freeway. "Hurt in a car, call, Jim Barr." (Not the real name).

Good old Sam laughs at the commercial every time. Hell, an eight-year-old sees through it. Yesterday, Sam was changing the words to the commercial on his own - "Drunk at a bar, call, Jim Barr." Sam yelled out when the commercial started.

The next time he screamed, "Can't see too far, call, Jim Barr."

We went back and forth for awhile on it and Sam finally asked, "Why? Why is this guy looking for money?"

There's no easy answer, I suppose, but it is clear that lawyers have changed the world we live in. I remember growing up, we were always playing at someone else's house. We always were getting bit by someone else's dog, or falling down someone else's stairs. My parents didn't think of suing. Their parents didn't think of suing.

Growing up, I can't remember even a single jingle of a lawyer's ad. Now my kids can sing the jingles as though its just a continuation of Barney's "I Love You."

So we all buy more insurance. We fear our neighbors and the stranger driving next to us. We cringe when someone comes to the door holding a subpoena. There's more fraud, less trust, and hundreds of countless jingles.

I usually mute these types of lawyers as soon as I see their bald heads and fake looks of concern. I think of the putrid lawyer who sat before me when Jake was sick, asking me if there was a "good chance that he'd have long-term damage."

There's an old joke about a lawyer and a raccoon on the side of the road with the difference being that there are skid marks in front of the raccoon.

Sam's best line of the day?

"Stuck in a jar, call, Jim Barr."

Friday, January 9, 2009

Personal Legend (Marion Fricano)

My sister Carrie gave me a book for Christmas - I mentioned it before - The Alchemist - and I'm mentioning it again because it sort of has propelled me through week one of the new year. In it, the character finds that the best way to live is to follow your heart and find your own personal legend.

Well as usually happens when you're thinking of such heady things, the mind starts playing a trick and I thought of my father's cousin, my cousin too - Marion Fricano. He was a major league pitcher back in the 1950's and the Town Park in my hometown bears his name.

Yet what triggered his memory was a story about one of his sons, and as I told it to my boys, I mentioned that he had pitched in the major leagues. My boys were impressed, of course, and I explained that as a boy of about ten, Marion had thrown the ball to my brother and me in our backyard. I swear, I remember it as if it were yesterday. He threw the ball so hard! I also remember that he had cancer then - the cancer that eventually killed him - and I recall wondering if I could see the cancer on his body somewhere.

The mind does store a ton of information - the longer I thought of him - the more pronounced my memories became. I recall my father crying when Marion died - I've only seen my father cry on a handful of occasions and I remember how much I hurt to see him cry.

The Internet is a great tool. This evening, I punched Marion's name into the Google search and I read article after article about the man who threw it through our backstop when I was ten and cancer was killing him. (Read the articles! Now!)

His life was awesome - four kids, baseball, a stint in the US Navy, A Bachelor's Degree and a Master's in Education. He was the Town Supervisor, a good man by all accounts, and he even got a few Marion Fricano nights in the old hometown. And of course, the park is now named for him.

And I thought of all of this in the contents of looking up to a hero as a child, chasing a personal legend as an adult, and wishing the very best for my boys as they grow.

Marion had a hard road and died at 52, but he crammed a lifetime of achievements and memories into his shortened life - so many so that people these days would have to live to about 120 to get it all done.

The mind plays tricks and sometimes we remember those items that are pure treasures.

"He's on Wikipedia!" my boy Sam announced.

"Yeah, and that's really cool," I answered.

An Eye for an Eye

Man, I've always been a death penalty opponent. Basically because it is a law that is unfair to those that can't afford representation, and because it is unlawfully handed out - no one who ever made more than $30 grand a year has been executed.

Also, I have my religious beliefs, blah, blah, blah - anyway anyone of you that has ever argued the point with me.....

Yet today I read about a gentleman in Texas who killed his family back in '04 - and plucked out their hearts and threw them in the garbage after carrying them around in his pocket for awhile. He was convicted of murdering his wife and two kids, and stabbing himself in the heart before confessing.

Just prior to sentencing for that crime, he plucked out one of his eyes. Today, he plucked out his other one - and he ate it.

All right, the lazy among us explains that the world is a better place without this guy in it, right?

Yet why didn't he get help before he killed his family? Okay maybe no one knew the depths of his mental illness.

Yet surely we could have helped him after he plucked his first eye out, right?

Now they are sending him for mental health counseling.

You think?

Invariably there are some among us who believe that we should extinguish him now and save the taxpayers money, right?

I don't know - God help us all.

What a horrible story of a life.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Book Information - Come to a Signing! Set up a Signing! Just Let Me Talk About Writing!






A direct web link can be made www.sterlinghousepublisher.com or through www.squidoo.com/tags/fazzolari. All books may also be ordered through Amazon.com
I am also looking to make as many personal appearances as possible – so if you know someone who’d like to have me show up to talk writing please contact me at at cliffordfc@roadrunner.com

Please see attached ordering information for House of Miracles, Nobody’s Home, Blind Spot, Counting on a Miracle, In Real Life and Desperation.

House of Miracles

After his son's miraculous recovery at Women and Children's Hospital of Buffalo, NY, Mr. Fazzolari set about writing a book that would reveal and explain the medical miracles performed at the hospital every day. This book of true stories about staff, patients and their parents is an engrossing look at the way a hospital functions to save young lives. Readers will shed a tear or two and come away moved and enthralled at the courage and determination of the extraordinary people so beautifully chronicled in these pages.

Blind Spot

A year after Scott's son is killed in a freak accident, Scott decides to leave his wife, Cheryl. While she has found solace in her faith, he is angry with God for taking away his child. Scott plans a trip west to visit his brother's family in hopes of coming to grips with his loss during the cross-country drive. He meets interesting people along his way, and ultimately is joined by Cheryl. As they near California, we discover that Scott's brother committed suicide only a few years before the accident, and that Scott's only chance to move on from his son's death is to first come to terms with the loss of his brother. In this poignant, beautiful story, we travel through life's blind spots to discover how Scott reconnects with himself, learns to accept life, and ultimately finds peace.

Nobody's Home

All that young Shari Kelly wants is a normal life. Instead, Shari, her mother and her two brothers are virtual prisoners in a house dominated by a raging alcoholic, Shari's father Richard. While the family is planning their escape, Richard murders Shari's mother in cold blood and hides his crime from the police. Desperate with grief, Shari is finally able to leave home with her brother Russell, who has troubles of his own that eventually lead to tragedy. But Shari combines her own inner strength with the love of her mother and brother to survive against all odds...including the wrath of her father. A gritty, realistic yet beautifully heart-warming story of a girl's personal triumph against evil.

Nobody’s Home received an Honorable Mention at the New England Book Festival as one of the best fiction books of 2008.


Counting on a Miracle

Counting on a Miracle is the true story of Cliff Fazzolari's son, Jake and the medical emergency that threatens to tear Jake's family apart. When an extremely large tumor is discovered in the child's chest, Fazzolari and his family rally around the boy as his doctors race against time to identify the mass and successfully remove it. The author vividly describes his struggles with his own emotions as he tries to comfort Jake, hold his family together during the crisis, and maintain some semblance of a normal lifestyle. Every parent will strongly identify with the laughter, the tears and the incredible suspense as Jake's life balances on a scalpel's edge.

In Real Life

Clifford Fazzolari tells the tale of Leo Brown from his childhood through the next twenty years, revealing that amidst the heartache, grief, disappointment and humiliation, there is the occasional shining moment. A coming-of-age story that is at once tongue-in-cheek and unashamedly heart warming, In Real Life will both tickle your fancy and touch your soul.

Desperation
Jack Gregory has been incarcerated for murder since he was 13 years old. Released at age 18, Jack has no family to turn to and is alone in his hopes to turn his life around. Clifford J. Fazzolari has woven an inspiring coming-of-age story that will have you cheering for the underdog.

To order - call toll free - 1-888-542-2665 or www.sterlinghousepublisher.com or through amazon.com

Give Me My Freaking Kidney Back

They say that breaking up is hard to do, but the news story out today about the doctor in New York who wants his kidney back has to about take the cake.

In case you haven't read about it, the guy gave a kidney to his sick wife back about seven years ago. He woke up after the operation more in love than ever, and slowly but surely, his wife returned to full health - so much so - that she cheated on her husband.

The poor guy was devastated by the betrayal, and in the middle of the proceedings, he decided that he wanted his kidney back, or at least $1.5 million in compensation.

Sounds about right. He sort of has her over a barrel don't you think? She isn't really in the position where she can say - "Fine keep your friggen' kidney," now can she?

I'm not sure what draws me into the story more - was it the fact that he felt so betrayed? Is it the idea that her cheating has allowed him to see that her death, without his working kidney, wouldn't be so horrible after all?

I suppose that the real scary thing about all of it is that relationships do seem to go that way - say what - about sixty or seventy percent of the time now.

I was all excited about a recent article that ran in the news that said divorce rates were dropping rapidly in Western New York. The romantic in me kind of smiled at the news until I read the article.

You know why the rates are dropping?

Because the couples can't afford the lawyers, splitting up the home, and the child support payments. Couples are staying together for the simple reason that it costs too much not to. Try writing a song about that.

Anyway, even though marriage was the worst financial move I ever made, I'm not about to lose a kidney over it and if I did, I'd let Kathy keep it in the split.

It's simply amazing, however, that someone can even dream up the idea to take the kidney back. How's that conversation go?

Her: "I get the coffee table, the Springsteen CD's, and the drapes we hung in the living room."

Him: "Sounds good, but you have to give me what I want."

Her: "What would you like?"

Him: "Just my f%$#*ing kidney back."

Her: "You can keep the coffee table."

Seems like I say this about three times a week - God help us all.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Brangelina

Oh, thank God that Brad Pitt didn't cheat on Jennifer Aniston when he was filming Mr & Mrs Smith - I read something about how proud he was of the way he handled it all.

What a great guy. Now, you do understand that there are shocking similarities between Brad Pitt and myself. We have lived our lives understanding that our power over the opposite sex comes with great responsibility. Like Brad, I too, have been able to harness this excess energy and have treated women fairly.

Seriously, tossing aside Jennifer Aniston for Angelina Jolie? What's his next move? Where does he go from here?

I've seen photos of him surrounded by the eleven or so kids - each from a different country and the poor bastard looks miserable. Then again, who am I to judge? Hopefully his kids will stay happy and healthy and get by on the double income struggle of having two working parents.

I watched an interview with Jolie once and she explained that she liked to give away her money and help others because she was paid obscenely for each picture that she made. Good for her!

In any regard, the real loser here appears to be poor Jennifer Aniston. Who would want her after she was so discarded? Did you see that cover shot of her in just the tie?

As I explained to my wife - "She's no Kathy Fazzolari!"

My wife answered by telling me that Brad Pitt was "No Cliff Fazzolari!"

So, you see, we may be looking at it with blinders on, but I'm almost certain that my wife would choose me over Brad Pitt.

Right, honey?

Right?

Right?

Right?

Honey?

(She must be sleeping).

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Wintry Mix

The days get shorter and the nights go long. Winter seems to be longer and longer every year, and it also seems that the cold blast isn't just Buffalo's any longer - it seems to stretch all across the nation. And yet, there's global warming?

The global warming issue seems to be a real hot button topic for politicians to mix it up. Al Gore won a Nobel Prize and one of my sister-in-laws handed out copies of a book that says it's all bull-crap. I didn't read it.

In fact, I'm not entirely sure where I come down on the whole issue. I've heard dire reports that say the world will surely end due to the wasted energy that we've sent into the air and polluted our society. Others say that this is the natural order of things that cycles through every thousand years or so.

Will the world end because of it? Will there be a great glacier that cuts holes as deep as the Great Lakes?

I'm not sure how energy efficient we are around our home. We have the new low-watt light bulbs, but it appears that every light in the house is on every time I walk through. I refuse to conserve on toilet paper as a way to save the world - Sheryl Crowe can use her three sheets - I'm cleaning a much wider area.

As for my consumption of fuel - hell, I'm like everyone else - I need to get around and biking to Syracuse doesn't sound like much of an option on a wintry day. Yet, they gave Gore the prize and he uses more in his private plane in one month than I'll ever use.

Perhaps we should all be thinking about the future.

Maybe this global warming that they're speaking about will eventually toast us all.

I bring this all up because I froze my ass off all day today and the over-grown weatherman that I watch each night told me it's going to be worse tomorrow.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Leave 'Em Alone

Man, I just don't know about the celebrity aspect of our society. What makes people want to throw anger and blame around when they have no idea what may or may not have transpired?

So, we see John Travolta in movies - I still think his best turn was as Vinny Barbarino, but overall he's an actor. A rich actor who flies planes, married Kelly Preston, had a couple of kids, dabbles in Scientology, and has had his sexual preferences questioned on occasion.

Of course, I've made fun of a few of the entertainers from time-to-time, but shouldn't there be a line in the sand that is respected?

The man just lost his son. The circumstances are cause for great concern and people are questioning everything due to his religious beliefs, and his use of a nanny for supervision.

For God's sake, give the man a break. His kid died at the age of 16. No matter how or what occurred, I'm sure he didn't want or mean for it to happen. And it doesn't matter if the kid was sickly or autistic, or lacking seizure medicine. I'm sure he wasn't dispensable to anyone who knew him.

And certainly questions will come up and they will have to be answered, but now?

Let the family grieve.

Turn on the television or read a newspaper these days - the media is turning it into a mystery. We all are privy to what happened in the ambulance ride. It's unavoidable.

If you're fascinated by the story or angry with Travolta or Kelly Preston, or just want to voice your opinion on Scientology, or how money doesn't solve all your problems, just remember that the boy lost his life.

A son and a brother is gone way too early and the family grieves.

People in the media need to give them some time before they start asking the hateful questions.

A Walking Celebration

My sister presented me with a copy of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho for Christmas. She knew I'd appreciate the story because we've always shared a common interest in well-written works.

The book is easy to read and carries a great many lessons in life - it also reminded me of my time spent with my boys over the holiday break.

My son Sam is a walking celebration of life. From the moment he wakes up until the morning he closes his eyes, he is at his own little party. The grace and innocence that he brings into our lives is actually amazing, and it made me a little uneasy today as I headed back into the working world.

Uneasy because there isn't that eternal optimism in the steps of the people that I meet on a routine basis. The smile, the sound of his laughter, the inquisitive search for what is true. He'll spin in a circle, run to the Internet, watch football, play shuffleboard, and constantly talk.

Talk...talk...talk...talk

Yet as I went about my business today, I thought of holding the thoughts of all my boys in my heart, because one of the real lessons in The Alchemist is to listen to your heart despite the doubts, unease, and anxiety that comes with living day-to-day.

I'm not in the same room as Sam right now, but he will be home in a matter of hours, and whether he is playing a video game, watching wrestling, doing his homework, or just talk, talk, talking... he will be doing it with all the excitement that he can muster.

His heart is pure right now and I'm sure we all felt that way at one time or another. The excitement of youth is lost as the days go by.

At least for today, I went back to the feeling of excitement in my heart that comes with just being alive.

New wish for my kids?

I hope they never lose their zest for all that is out there.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

An Amazing Leader

GW is worried about his legacy - this about sums it up for me - taken from an AP Story and numerous books about the "greatness" of the man:

"Rarely is the question asked, is our children learning?" January 2000, during a campaign event in South Carolina.

"They misunderestimated the compassion of our country. I think they misunderestimated the will and determination of the commander in chief, too." Sept. 26, 2001, in Langley, Va. Bush was referring to the terrorists who carried out the Sept. 11 attacks.

"There's no doubt in my mind, not one doubt in my mind, that we will fail." Oct. 4, 2001, in Washington. Bush was remarking on a back-to-work plan after the terrorist attacks.

"It would be a mistake for the United States Senate to allow any kind of human cloning to come out of that chamber." April 10, 2002, at the White House, as Bush urged Senate passage of a broad ban on cloning.

"I want to thank the dozens of welfare-to-work stories, the actual examples of people who made the firm and solemn commitment to work hard to embetter themselves." April 18, 2002, at the White House.

"There's an old saying in Tennessee I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee that says, fool me once, shame on shame on you. Fool me you can't get fooled again." Sept. 17, 2002, in Nashville, Tenn.

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." Aug. 5, 2004, at the signing ceremony for a defense spending bill.

"Too many good docs are getting out of business. Too many OB/GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country." Sept. 6, 2004, at a rally in Poplar Bluff, Mo.

"Our most abundant energy source is coal. We have enough coal to last for 250 years, yet coal also prevents an environmental challenge." April 20, 2005, in Washington.

"We look forward to hearing your vision, so we can more better do our job." Sept. 20, 2005, in Gulfport, Miss.

"I can't wait to join you in the joy of welcoming neighbors back into neighborhoods, and small businesses up and running, and cutting those ribbons that somebody is creating new jobs." Sept. 5, 2005, when Bush met with residents of Poplarville, Miss., in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

"It was not always a given that the United States and America would have a close relationship. After all, 60 years we were at war 60 years ago we were at war." June 29, 2006, at the White House, where Bush met with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

"Make no mistake about it, I understand how tough it is, sir. I talk to families who die." Dec. 7, 2006, in a joint appearance with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

"These are big achievements for this country, and the people of Bulgaria ought to be proud of the achievements that they have achieved." June 11, 2007, in Sofia, Bulgaria.

"Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for your introduction. Thank you for being such a fine host for the OPEC summit." September 2007, in Sydney, Australia, where Bush was attending an APEC summit.

"Thank you, Your Holiness. Awesome speech." April 16, 2008, at a ceremony welcoming Pope Benedict XVI to the White House.

"The fact that they purchased the machine meant somebody had to make the machine. And when somebody makes a machine, it means there's jobs at the machine-making place." May 27, 2008, in Mesa, Ariz.

And they have no disregard for human life." July 15, 2008, at the White House. Bush was referring to enemy fighters in Afghanistan.

"I remember meeting a mother of a child who was abducted by the North Koreans right here in the Oval Office." June 26, 2008, during a Rose Garden news briefing.

"Throughout our history, the words of the Declaration have inspired immigrants from around the world to set sail to our shores. These immigrants have helped transform 13small colonies into a great and growing nation of more than 300 people." July 4, 2008in Virginia.

"The people in Louisiana must know that all across our country there's a lot of prayer -prayer for those whose lives have been turned upside down. And I'm one of them. It's good to come down here." Sept. 3, 2008, at an emergency operations center in Baton Rouge, La., after Hurricane Gustav hit the Gulf Coast.

"This thaw took a while to thaw, it's going to take a while to unthaw." Oct. 20, 2008in Alexandria, La., as he discussed the economy and frozen credit markets.

'Nuff Said. See ya'

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Eye in the Sky

Caught the news of the day yesterday and it was actually good news - homicides are down something like 53% in Buffalo over the last three years and violent crimes are also down about 10%. The police chief and the mayor stood together and accepted congratulations, but it was also reported that there was a sharp decline because of 67 security cameras on the streets of Buffalo.

Coincidentally, my wife rented Eagle Eye for us to watch, so I spent the night thinking of 1984 by Orwell and wondering about how much Big Brother is watching.

Of course, it is understood that we are being tracked by our cell phones, our computers, our credit cards, and the security cameras that mark our every move at the toll booths, and on the city streets.

Which is fine with me because I don't conspire to commit many crimes, but I'm sure that there are people out there who feel their rights are violated.

The movie made me feel uncomfortable in that every movement can be tracked, but can the reduction in violent crime be such a bad thing? Averting terrorist strikes certainly is helpful, and listening into the chatter of the bad guys can't hurt.

Of course, knowing that Santa Claus can see you if your naughty or nice has worked with kids for years and years, and there is a strong belief that God will know what you did and will punish or reward you when whatever here is done.

The idea that there is an eye in the sky watching my every movement was beaten into me by the nuns in grammar school, so I have lived my life believing that every bad thing I've ever done is recorded somewhere and that soon the whole world will find out - which is not a mind-healthy way to live, but it sort of keeps me in line.

I'm not sophisticated enough to know about illegal wiretaps, or the stripping of my constitutional rights, but I did start the movie hoping that good would prevail over evil and that the guy would get the girl, and that's all you can hope for when you don't fully understand who's watching what.

I'm off to take a shower now - if you're watching me, this might be a good time to fade to black.

Friday, January 2, 2009

400 + Posts

For the first time in years I'm not quite sure how to answer the question about what I'll be working on for my next book. I'm currently three quarters of the way through a book about marriage and the crash and burn element of it - called The Price You Pay, but after that?

I'm not tired of the exercise of writing as witnessed by the fact that I have posted to this blog over 400 times in less days than that, but there's a nagging feeling in the back of my mind that I need to promote what has already been written, rather than go on the exhausting journey to begin another story.

Through the years I've always had another story idea in the hopper, which makes this year more of a challenge. I'm not sure how I'll react when I'm not working on something. Yet it speaks of my resolve for the year. For the first 44 years, I've attacked life, this year, hopefully it will come to me. My mantra - relax and let it meet you.

I'll let you know when I give up on that philosophy - by the tenth of January, probably.

Anyway to mark the 400th post, I thought I'd thrill you with my favorites through the years:

Favorite Book - East of Eden
Favorite Author - Steinbeck
Favorite Entertainer - Does anyone not know? The god of music - Bruce
Favorite Song - Promised Land - guess who
Favorite Movie - Comedy - Me, Myself & Irene (his black brothers kill me)- loved When Harry Met Sally too.
Favorite Movie - Drama - Shawshank comes to mind as does Terms of Endearment, can't beat the first two Godfather's either.
Favorite TV Show ever - Soprano's
Favorite TV Comedy ever - The Odd Couple

Words to live by for the start of '09:

You make up your mind, you choose the chance you take
You ride to where the highway ends, and the desert breaks
out on to an open road, you ride until the day
you learn to sleep at night, with the price you pay.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Clean Slate

Well, not exactly clean - still some remnant of '08 in the system - went to a house party with my good friends - stunk at billiards, worse at fooseball, but left the place happy (beer and shots do that) and intent on starting clean in '08.

Not that there's a tremendous amount to clean up, but the New Year does bring that feeling of cleansing the system, which is always good, I think. I'm not sorry to see '08 go, but I'm ready to begin again.

Caught a show on lifetime today that showed prisoners in their jail cells and how they mark time away, thinking about their crimes, trying to rehab, and just whiling away. One of the gentleman was in for manslaughter and they were quizzing him about his two children and how he explained his actions to them.

The prisoner was extremely reflective explaining that it was still important for him to be a role model for his kids. He explained his crime to the youngsters by saying that he wanted them to pretend they were seeing a movie where the bad guy has a gun and does something to the good guy.

"I'm the bad guy, understand," he told his kids.

The interviewer asked him if his kids understood, and the prisoner laughed, saying he has the only kids in the world who root for the bad guy when they watch a movie.

Yet I think of all those people who are waiting for days to go by, wishing and hoping they could change their bad decisions around, and hoping that tomorrow brings them peace and comfort.

I suppose that is what New Year's is all about. It's just the flip of a calender page - it's just another day in a succession of days where we strive to be better people.

Yet there's that feeling of starting over.

I haven't screwed up too much yet in '09, but the late night and the re hydration battle has me worn down a little too much to get in anything too heady.

Here's to mine and your kids always rooting for the good guy.

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