Monday, August 31, 2009

I'm Strugggggling

I've been laughing for a day and a half now as yesterday's golf outing was an effort in futility for one member of our foursome.

Golf is a funny game because there seems to be a certain momentum to it and every one (even Tiger) has their turn in the barrel so to speak. When one of the other three guys is suffering it's almost too painful to watch and there isn't a lot to say to the poor bastard.

Everyone takes their turn at the tee and there's so much to the mental part of the game. When another guy in the foursome shanks one you have three options - 1). Give him the 'I'm so sorry' look 2). Try to find a positive in it - such as 'That'll still play,' or 3). Make fun of him.

Last year I golfed a lot with my brother - he always chose option number three. The worst part of it was missing the ball and having him stand there and say - "My God, you're awful."

Anyway - yesterday a regular on our trips couldn't stay out of his own way. Finally, after a little while, I turned to him.

"I'm strugggggling," he said, imitating a drunk Joe Namath who was trying to pick up that announcer a couple of years back.

For the past 30 hours - the "I'm struggggling," comment has been stuck in my head.

There are days when the best course of action is to let the day come to you, and to admit when you're struggling your way through tasks that are very often easy to handle.

Golf is unforgiving.
Life is unforgiving.
Sometimes it pays to just acknowledge the struggle, laugh it off, and live to fight another day.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Daley's Bar & Tavern

Headed off to a wedding on Friday night and we arrived at the reception hall before anyone else. Not wanting to be the first people on site, I turned the car around in the lot and asked Kathy if she'd rather have a drink in a bar first. She didn't know of any bars in the area, but we just sort of drifted through the neighborhood looking for a beer sign.

"There's one," Kathy said as I was passing a place. "Turn around."

I just kept driving. For one reason or another, I needed to find something else. I saw the sign for Daley's Bar in South Buffalo and parked right at the front door. Kathy made it as far as the door, but turned around. "They're closed," she said.

"Come on," an old man yelled from inside the bar.

Despite it being 7:00 on a Friday night, the only living things in the bar were the old man, and a small dog that was curled up beside him - on the bar. Kathy turned and asked if this was indeed the place where we were going to start our Friday night. I shrugged and we entered.

There was a photo of Sinatra behind the bar - an advertisement for a concert from 1947. Kathy ordered a light beer and the old man headed down to the cooler - it took him awhile and I asked him a question that he never heard. When he returned he looked at me - "Heineken Light and a shot of Jameson's," I said.

"No Heineken," he answered.

"Michelob Light," I replied.

He poured the shot of Jameson's and headed back to the cooler. "No Michelob," he yelled back.

"Budweiser," I shouted, but he didn't hear me. He walked all the way back to my seat before he was able to take my order - and then he made the long walk back to the cooler. By now the dog was curled up in front of me, and I scanned the large place looking at the decorations on the wall. Most of what was hanging there had something to do with loving dogs. There was a dog's prayer, an ode to a dog, and a couple of dog photos.

"What do you think of Michael Vick?" I asked.
"They should string him up," he answered.

Turns out our new friend is 87-years old. He owned the bar in South Buffalo for 52 years. He mentioned his wife in one breath, but we connected mostly in our conversation about our dogs and his dogs. For about twenty minutes I felt so comfortable as if walking into his bar had been the right thing to do.

As we finished our drinks and headed for the door, I thought about how neat this guy's life seemed to be. He had a great dignity that hung in the air around his empty bar. He could have closed the door years ago, but he was standing there, serving drinks and punching numbers into an antique cash register. I imagined him struggling to open the bar on some days, but doing it so he could stay busy and put drinks in front of the working slobs.

At the wedding a Sinatra song came over the speakers and I remarked to my young nephew that it was the best song they played all night.

"My God, you're old," he said.

It sort of dawned on me that there isn't any shame in growing old.

In fact, it can be downright cool on some nights.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Everything Changed

Talking with a good friend of mine who nearly died last year as cancer threatened him. He went through a few major operations, blood clots, and his last rites. To be honest, I didn't think he'd survive.

It's been nearly a year and he hasn't missed more than a few hours of work since his remarkable recovery but he certainly has mellowed. He will forever have lingering medical problems, but he's still here.

"I never once heard you complain," I told him yesterday.
"What good will it do me to complain to you," he answered. "You can't do a single thing for me."

I know that he's in pain from time to time. He eats differently, no longer smokes, drinks, or takes anything for granted.

"Why are you working so much?" I asked him.

"I have to keep going," he said. "Everything changed and no one will ever know what goes through my mind on a daily basis, but my family still expects me to produce."

And I thought of it in the context of my own life and the struggle that has become 2009. The struggle of grief, constant reminders, what-if's and how-comes. I thought of the woman who asked me why I haven't written anything new yet, but quickly covered it by saying, "You went through that thing with your brother, but you have to be coming around, right?"

Uh, no. Everything changed. I can loosely say it enters my mind every seven minutes or so. Six months later...every seven minutes. What will it be in say one year, two years, ten years? Every ten minutes?

And things are different - extremely different. Food doesn't taste as good, although you wouldn't know it by looking at me. The Yanks can win every game from here to eternity and it won't feel as good as when we watched them beat the Mets and the long, giddy conversation we had the next day.

And that's all there is to it. Everything changed. Nothing will ever be the same. And I think of it in the context of the millions of people who suffer heartbreak and despair. Right now, somewhere, someone is going through something so devastating that they feel as if they won't recover, and perhaps they never will.

"You dig deep and move forward," my buddy said. "And you hide the suffering and the pain as best you can because at the end of the day you're the one who is handling it. People care and they show their love, but they don't really appreciate what you need to do to adapt. They don't want to see the change in you. They expect you to be what they believed you to be. So, you give it to them, and you live through the change on your own."

"I appreciate what you went through," I said.

"No you don't," he said, "but it's nice of you to say."

I hate change.

And I didn't win the friggen' Mega Millions.

(Hey Pops - you in for golf tomorrow?)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Little League Dreams

Caught the Little League World Series game between California and Georgia last night. There was so much running through my mind as I watched.

First off - it was good baseball. I started watching figuring I should pick a team to root for and I decided that since California was up 5-1 that I'd root for Georgia to come back - but when they did, I felt so bad for one of the kids on the California team because it looked like he was going to cry, so I started rooting for California to come back. By the end of the game I didn't want either team to lose. For the record California did win with a run in the last of the sixth.

There was a kid on the Georgia team who was 6' tall and weighed 210 lbs - he's 13! I watched him pitch and couldn't imagine standing in the box to try and hit him. He was also pretty awkward as if he still didn't know how to handle being so massive.

I watched the parents cheering for their children as if their very existence hung in the balance, but I saw the pride in one mother's eyes when her son hit a homer. The kids, by the way, pretended to be like the big leaguers and acted as if it wasn't that big a deal.

The announcers were positive at all times as were the coaches who spoke to the kids with mound microphones catching their every word.

I thought back to my own little league experience - we made it to the championship game one year and lost to the Tigers - I played for the Mets - I swear I can tell you the starting lineup for our team and I was just 12! I can also tell you that I failed miserably in the big game and that I cried when it was all over. I still hate some of the guys on that Tigers team.

I still have a few friends who played in that league - one of the girls on the Mets married one of my good friends. Another buddy was about 5'10" and 170 lbs at the age of 11 - I'll never forget how bad my legs shook when I faced him for the first time. He still laughs at me, reminding me that he struck me out fairly easily.

As the game ended, it struck me that the kids playing in the game were being treated by the ESPN cameras, the adults, and their peers as if they had already made it to the big-time.

I don't think there's any harm in showing the games - as I've said, it was wildly entertaining, but as the game concluded I had an ache in my heart for all of the childish things in my life that I've been forced to hide away.

Well, I hide them most of the time.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Low Expectations

Bought a Mega-Millions ticket today and as I drove my mind wandered about what I'd do with $325 million. Three seconds into the daydream, I cursed myself for wasting the five-spot.

Saw the photo of Rick Pitino in the paper - the latest big shot to be brought down by a sex scandal - I'd read his books, admired his coaching, and thought he was one of the good one's - it was all crap.

Talked to my buddies and boys about the upcoming Bills year - they're all predicting 10 wins and a playoff run. I'm thinking maybe seven wins. I tried to tell my son to root for 7 and be happy with anything over that.

I'm just thinking it's about time I lower my expectations. Lower expectations leads to less heartache. Life is essentially a struggle - why fight it. Expect nothing and be happy when it comes.

It's certainly been the year of the letdown. A couple of weeks ago I was golfing with a few buddies - we play with a mulligan available per round. We stepped up at a hole that is about 115 yards away.

"Wouldn't it be awesome if one of us got a hole in one," I said.

I teed off and sent it over the green and into the woods beyond. "Lucky I saved my mulligan," I said. I was still thinking I could put it close enough to the hole and get that one lucky bounce I've been waiting for forever.

My second shot screamed into the trees about 110 yards right of the green.

"What're you thinking now?" my buddy Jeff asked.
"Shut-the-hell-up," I sweetly answered.

Not sure if it was Pitino's defiant look, or the Yankees loss this afternoon, or the crap traffic jam I was stuck in after believing I'd arrive at a reasonable time, but I made a realization today.

Everything is shit.

If it's less than shit just think how happy I'll be.

Now if I can only win that $325 million.

Come on, give it to me, please.

I'm sick of waving my fist at the sky.

I'll even write an apology blog if you'll just see it my way for once.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I Hate Jared

Hopefully Ted Kennedy will be remembered for more than a car accident, but I doubt it.

For those who hate him because a). He's a Kennedy b). He's a liberal or c). because of the accident - I say just one thing:

He stood up for other people.

No matter what his sins - he was a champion for those less fortunate then him - and that was a hell of a lot of people.

My main beef today though is that goofy bastard from the Subway commercials - I was minding my own business last night and watching the Yanks (man, you gotta' get the bunt down Swisher) when Jared came on promoting the most recent Subway masterpiece. I flipped the station.

An inning later, he was back. And the inning after that and the inning after that and the inning after that.

And I'm not sure why I hate him. Perhaps because he lost all that weight and is continually in my face about it. Maybe because he's a goofy, dorky sort of guy who is famous for what? Making TV commercials.

Of course, I don't hate him as much as the Geico Caveman, but can't they both just go away? The only thing more annoying is the ad for the bald-headed lawyer sitting on the motorcycle telling us about how dangerous the beautiful, powerful machine is -let's just say that he ain't exactly the Fonz.

I suppose the thing that gets me about the commercials is that they are repeated over and over and over again. Obviously they buy the block of time for the Yankee game and they get as many plays as they need.

So, the theme of the day is - Don't hate on Teddy - send that distaste Jared's way.

I hope he gains 200 pounds.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Shadow, My Shadow, My Lovely Shadow

Growing up we always had dogs in the house. Thinking back on it, I remember periods of my childhood based on which dogs were roaming the backyard on Shirley Road.

I was just ten years old when one of our boxer's, Ricky II, hit the floor in my room in the middle of the night and did not survive the heart attack. Sometimes when I close my eyes I can still feel the pain of that night.

Yet there have been so many happy memories and one that stands out is the way my mother would sing to our dogs, often repeating their names over and over as she made up songs.

Unfortunately, my children have started to publicize that I do the same thing with my two dogs.

Melky Cabrera how's your underwear-ah? is a personal favorite.

Shadow basically has one song - Shadow, my shadow, my lovely Shadow

I sing it to her all the time. She seems to enjoy my wonderful voice.

Perhaps the lesson learned when Ricky hit the floor all those years ago is that time is short and it's best to love those that you love. As Bruce sang - Let's Let Love Give What it Gives, (Listen to the words).

That above adage certainly applies to pets and to humans in our life. I'm not sure how everyone would take it if I made up and sang songs to them using their names though, so that's why I do it strictly with the dogs.

So why so much about the dogs? Well, Shadow was sick for a couple of days - she didn't move a lot, her eyes looked drawn, and she didn't even wag her tail when I sang to her. She's over ten years old, so the doubts began to creep in, and going through my work day, I found that I was calling home to see if she was okay.

Tragedy seems to have been averted as rice and hamburger has cleared up what was ailing her, but she is now at my feet and has emitted a noxious gas that is threatening the completion of this blog.

In fact, I can't even sing to her as I hold my nose and usher her to the backyard.

Melkinator, Melkinator, Melkinator, Melk! is ready to go too.

Nighty-Night

I'm an admittedly lousy sleeper. Conditions must be just about perfect for me to drift off to sleep, including knowing how the Yanks did, knowing that everyone is home and in bed, and knowing that I can't hear noises from other areas of the house.

Each night I have to read a bit, and have a bottle of water at the ready. There can't be any source of light coming into the room and, my dogs have to be comfortable in the same room as me.

Then, if there isn't too much on my plate from the day's activities, I can go to sleep. I'm well aware that any noise will wake me at anytime during the rest period.

My wife, on the other hand, could lay down in the middle of the road with a sandbag as a pillow and drift off to sleep.

Michael Jackson, it appears, had an even more difficult time sleeping than me and now his death is being ruled a homicide. His doctor admits to having administered propofol, an anesthetic used by hospitals, as well as sedatives midazolam and lorazepam along with valium.

Ever hear of warm milk?

The human body needs sleep. The prevailing thought is that eight hours of rest is essential and while there are people who can function on five or six hours a night, sooner or later you need to make amends.

I love to sleep. I'm just not very good at it, but I do catch up most weeks by getting a nappy-nap as we used to call it when the kids were young.

Yet not being able to sleep on a consistent basis should tell you that something else is askew. I'll pop a Tylenol PM every once in awhile when a good night's sleep is crucial, but I'd never even do two of those as the bottle suggests.

Can you imagine going under anesthesia every time you needed rest? That's absolute lunacy, isn't it?

And now it's homicide?

I find it difficult to believe that Jackson wasn't directing the doctor to put him under in such a manner. Yet the doc is left holding the bag and will certainly be vilified in the months to come.

Strange man - strange death. Heath Ledger did the same sort of thing, didn't he?

I suppose the lesson learned is that sleep will come eventually and that perhaps if you're trying too hard for the perfect slumber, you might just find the eternal one.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Our Beautiful Reward

Kathy and the boys are pretty much connected at the hip each and every day. Through most of the past week, I was right there with them. I don't know how she does it nearly every minute of the day. I'm fired up about working today!

You see they all provide a certain energy from time to time, but on days like Sunday, we are all pretty much at the mercy of Sam.

Yesterday he woke as though he were shot from a cannon. Each and every sentence out of his mouth was designed to get a reaction and he had a wonderful audience in Matt and Jake who laughed at everything he said. About halfway through the day, I became his target as he lobbied for the pay-per-view wrestling match.

"I get it, right?" he asked.

"Yankees-Red Sox are on," I teased, "and since we pay the cable bill we get first crack at the big television."

"That's crap," he said. "You have a TV upstairs. Do you know that this is my time to relax a little? I deserve a few hours of peace."

I looked at him and he smiled. He was obviously imitating me.

"That's all I have to say about it," he said. "And that's a period."

"And that's a period?" I asked.

Now he giggled - "And that's it, period!" he corrected.

The difficult part about it was that the above conversation took place about six hours before the event was to start. Although I wasn't real keen on spending 40 bucks for another wrestling event, he had plenty of time to wear me down. The next 360 minutes went something like this:

Sam: Can I get it?
Me: I don't know yet.
Sam: It's my time to relax.
Me: Ask your mother.
Sam: She said it's fine.
Me: I didn't hear you ask her.
Sam: I don't have to, I know she loves me.
Me: And if I don't let you get it, I don't love you?
Sam: That's what I'm saying.

Forty minutes before the event was to start Kathy entered the picture.

"What do you think about him getting it?"

"Let him have it," I answered. "He's got my brain so scrambled I can't even think."

"He's beautiful, isn't he?" Kathy asked.

Our beautiful reward - and we have three of them.

And that's a period.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Day of Rest

As the story goes for six days God created the heavens and the Earth and on the 7th day He rested. No doubt with a barrel of sauce and a Yankee game.

My eyes were on Sunday all week as I considered just getting rest.

I'm not alone in the summer time - there's so much to do, so many parties, weddings, days of fun - not much sun this year - but it didn't slow the carousel much. There have certainly been enough gatherings to keep us moving.

So, I went to bed last night - once more missing the end of 48 Hours Mystery - I'm sure the husband poisoned his wife.

"What's the motive?" my wife asked.

"He was married to her," I replied.

The plan was to sleep as late as I could - woke at 6:30, struggled to stay in bed until 7:00. The day of rest wasn't off to a booming start. A cup of coffee, thoughts of dinner, hung with the dogs, church, pasta, no Yanks until 8 tonight - perhaps a nap?

Not sure what God did on his day off. There had to be a little tweaking of his work, huh?

Perhaps if He hadn't taken the day off He could have fixed some of the things that He'd created. A seven-day work week might have gotten rid of hurricanes, tornadoes, poverty, violence, the Red Sox, OJ Simpson and Michael Vick.

As luck might have it I was greeted with a cool, cloudy day - there's a little yard work to contend with but I may not do anything more than pick the tomatoes that are threatening to overtake us.

A couple of my buddies are golfing again today - I wouldn't go with Tiger and Lefty as part of a foursome.

I just want rest. Pasta, church, Yankees and rest.

Tomorrow I'll get back to trying to rid creation of violence, poverty, and mis-managed health care.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Shorts and a T-Shirt

I've figured out what causes aggravation - it's long pants, of course.

For the past several days I've been in shorts - nothing but shorts and a t-shirt. Blue shorts with the Yankee shirt. Grey shorts with the Bruce shirt. Socks were optional as were shoes - and my mood was great.

In 7 full days I wore long pants for a total of 6 hours and that was only when I had to help with the Women & Children's Hospital Presentation in Philly. If I could have gotten away with the shorts I would have worn them there too.

And today - well, today, I had to go back to pants - and it sucked. People kept calling me, texting me, e-mailing me, talking to me....blah, blah, blah, work bullshit, 'Hurry up and get here'.

So, I am making a movement - no more long pants.

Think of it - when was the last time you felt stressed wearing short pants?

Swimming - uh, no. Hanging out in the sun - no. Golfing - no (there are moments-but I've only thrown one club all year). Having a casual beer with friends - no. Sitting at a ball game - no, no no.

Then think about the aggravation in long pants - going to court, weddings, wakes, work, fancy dinner parties - all bullshit - all aggravating. All because of the freaking pants.

I'm currently in my favorite muscle shirt and short pants - the work day is over - and for those of you looking at the time on my posts the times are never right. I haven't figured out the clock on the stupid thing - must have been set by someone in long pants.

Anyhow - short pants it is until Monday- I'm planning a three-game sweep of the Red Sucks, a few beers, a round of golf, time with family and friends.

No bullshit - no aggravation.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I Walk the Valley of Love and Tears and Mystery

So, I'm trying to catch up on things...received a copy of a Bruce concert from a dear friend - recorded live from Italy. Put it in and got ready to do a little work.

Read my sister's blog - God I wish I could write like that. It yanked at my heart strings and made my head fill with grief. Felt better having read it.

Bruce sang The River in the background - Is a dream a lie if it don't come true, or is it something worse. I thought of my buddies and sons laughing at me for always listening to Bruce - "Listen to the words!" Jake mimicked. "Listen to the words!"

Indeed. That single line from The River encompasses all of the trepidation I've been feeling about my writing. It wasn't just my dream - I write for a lot of people. My brother was my biggest fan and a huge part of the dream seems gone. I was writing for him as much as for myself.

Yet...

My weekend with my friends made me understand that I can still be writing for him - he'll see it.

Back to work, dammit!

I thought about next week's schedule. Paid a few bills. Sorted through paperwork from the hospital conference.

I walk the valley of love and tears and mystery, Bruce sang in Maria's Bed.

Listen to the words.

A stray tear. Sam comes up for a visit. "Thanks for the vacation," he says. "It was so much fun."

His dreams still must come true. My job is to help him make them come true - they aren't a lie if they don't, Dear Bruce, because they are still right there - in his heart and in my heart. Through the love and tears and the mystery.

Dreams can still be reached.

The trick is in finding the drive to chase them.

I'm catching up, I think.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Long Walk(s)



As a family we had a great visit with some old friends. There were also a couple of real long walks along the way. It did my heart good to watch my boys hang out with the children of my old college friends. They had the chance to meet, play, talk, and laugh - all things I did with my friends - they didn't have any beer together - but me and my friends did. Yet the visit didn't come without pain.

There was a 217-step walk to the top of a lighthouse - for the record I only stopped once.

"I beat you up there," Sam said.
"You better, you're brand new," I answered.
My kids are pictured with Mike and Denise's kids at the very top. I didn't have to use the defibrillator.

Next, we visited Citizen's Bank Park - Kathy made sure we got the tickets and found the park - and having enough time to catch dinner, we asked a woman for some pointers - she recommended a rib joint (where I usually get the diet ribs) and the woman was so accommodating that she even offered up a couple of gift certificates. She pointed the way by saying - "Make a left down that street and you'll go by some docks and around the corner and you can't miss it."

So, in 90-degree heat, we began walking. One mile into it, we were walking by the docks. Two miles into it we were still walking by docks. We stopped and asked a street vendor where the restaurant was - he shrugged, and then said - "Oh man, that's way down there."

Kathy looked to me for direction - we had already walked two miles. "Let's keep going," I said. "We'll take a cab back."

Three miles in we no longer had a shoulder of the road and we were in a neighborhood that was decorated with broken beer bottles and old couches. Four miles in we were near tears. We rounded a corner as my wife suggested that we all hitchhike. I felt like Clark Griswold again - as he walked through the desert when his car broke down.

At the 4.3 mark we were in the parking lot of a strip joint. "Let's go in there and call a taxi," Jake said.

"I'll go," I said as if it pained me to open those doors. As luck might have it, the place was closed.

"Why are there pictures of almost-naked girls on the door?" Sam asked.
"I have no idea," I said.

As we stood on the side of the road in a real shady part of town, we contemplated our next move. Kathy called the hotel for advice, but around the corner came a man and a taxi - I all but jumped on the hood.

Two hours later, we were with more friends - Michael met my boys as the Phillies won big.

So, next time you see me, buy me a beer - I climbed a lighthouse and walked 4.3 miles to the parking lot of a strip joint.

Being that my philosophy is 'no pain, no pain'...I think I have some couch time coming.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ninety Billion Reasons

The main reason why my children are in Philadelphia turning it on its ear is so that I can be a participant in the Family-Centered Care Conference that is going on in the city.

I was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time and tomorrow a few of us representing the Women and Children's Hospital of Buffalo will stage a presentation.

Walking around the conference and hearing all of the stories and talking to people about the books I've written on health care at the hospital has only raised my awareness of what a bungled-up mess it's all become. In the background I'm listening to the fight as Obama and crew try to make some sort of sense of it and get hammered at every turn.

I don't know much about anything. I'm not sure why the proposal is being marked as a socialist-type of legislation. I am smart enough to realize, though, that if you stand for something there will be someone sniping at you from the shadows. We certainly didn't have this outcry during the last administration's run because nothing was even attempted or considered.

The crux of the matter is always about money - too much money given to the people who aren't in position to earn their own way. Too much free health care being offered to people who don't earn their own keep - that's what the critics are saying.

I watched a video this morning of a mother who fought to keep her child alive as he suffered with cancer. A black mother, single-parent, without resources. A real, tangible woman who watched her son die without care. What do those critics of health care for all say to her? Tough luck? You can't afford it, so say goodbye?

Things have been terribly askew for a lot of years when it comes to health care, but I hear that the battle is over 90 billion dollars - certainly that is money that is tough to get your hands on in these economic times - yet it is about 800 billion dollars less than we threw at Iraq.

It's a real issue that given the American resolve, can be handled. Yet still we struggle.

I'm sure that any man, woman or child who's ever been driven crazy by the state of the system as it is presently constructed, can provide you with at least 90 billion reasons why their child should not die if he or she can be saved.

At least that's the way I see it - too liberal for you?

May God keep you from ever feeling that way about one of your own then.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Feeling A Little Like Clark Griswold

On the road with the family and I can certainly sympathize with Chevy Chase as he chased Rusty and the rest of the family on their way to Wally World. We can certainly detail a couple of real missteps as we work our way through New Jersey and Philadelphia. I just haven't seen Christie Brinkley in the Corvette yet.

Still these are the days that will remain in the memory banks of the children for years to come and as a parent there are plenty of moments when I try to remain calm and patient as they giggle their way through another day.

Another interesting aspect of the trip is that I am trying hard to see a couple of my college buddies on this trip and knowing that they've lived their lives in the right way, and having the chance to visit with their children certainly does my heart good. These are guys I knew nearly thirty years ago, and we've stayed in contact, and it's been real easy to fall back into some of the same old conversations.

I often wonder about why some people drift in and out of your life while others stay around forever. As I type this blog I hear the boys arguing about what television station they're going to watch. I think about the days ahead when they chase their dreams, make special friends, and get their payback from their own kids.

Yet back to the real substance of the story. Did you ever put three kids in the back of the car and drive for hours and hours? Not sure it's something that I'd recommend. You know why we all laugh at the television kid who asks "Are we there yet?" - I'll tell you why - because they really ask it about every thirty miles.

And then there's the - "I gotta' pee," cry that echoes through the care every twenty minutes or so.

"You don't have to pee again," I said to Sam.
"Are you in charge of my bladder too?" he asked.

We stopped. They went pee and then chugged down a couple of sodas. Repeat above conversation.

My wife worked the brake from the passenger seat letting me know every time I got within three car lengths of the car in front of me.

"I'm hungry. I'm thirsty. I gotta' pee."

The days seem long, but there's a special look on their faces when they see something new. I know the pride Clark Griswold felt when he showed his family the world's biggest ball of yarn.

Well I'm off - they're singing the Free Credit Report.com song.

Our neighbors are going to toss us the hell out.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Which Star is Which?

The beach certainly lends itself to relaxation. We've been hanging around on the Jersey Shore looking for signs of Springsteen and spending time with good friends. The water is warm, the food fantastic, the beer ice cold - there have been some laughs recounting glory days, but mostly we're sharing, living and gazing skyward.
The stars filled the sky last night - stars that are up there each night that we take for granted. I look to the sky now, talking to my bro - wondering what is beyond - and its funny but in the calm of my surroundings, feeling as if I'm a small part of an unbelievable large universe, the sadness, which threatens me during normal days, seems nearly manageable.
Yet I can't tell you which star is which and that's a shame.
I'm going to get me a telescope and figure it all out.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Mountain Out of a Mole Hill

Anyone see Hillary Clinton go off on that student who mistakenly said President Clinton when talking to our Secretary of State?

Did Hillary's outburst seem a tad out of whack for the tone of the question? Might she be the first woman to ever over-react? Was there just too much drama involved?

Now, I'm treading lightly here. First off, Hillary and Bill are certainly polarizing figures. There was a report that Bill missed his wife's outburst because he was in Las Vegas at the time, being photographed with a travelling party that included other women. Of course, Bill should be completely trusted around other woman now, shouldn't he?

"I didn't see it," Bill said when asked about his wife's outburst.

Oh, he's seen it. Those of us that are married have all seen it from time to time.

Now I must preface this by saying that my wife is a lot less prone to emotional breakdowns than I am, but there may have been a time or two when something minor was overblown into a full-out episode. (I said I was treading lightly).

Yet the thing about it is that we all have moments. Perhaps we're over-tired. Maybe other influences conspire together to cause us to meltdown at a time when a meltdown is not really the best idea. And do you think for even one moment that there may not be ego's involved?

Bill is coming off a trip to North Korea that put him in the news in a much better light than when he was answering questions about Monica. Hillary is coming off a loss to Obama when she thought the presidency was her birthright. She's said all the right things about joining the team as Secretary of State, but is it possible that she could be harbouring a little jealousy?

There is endless speculation, of course, over the health of the Clinton marriage, but I'm telling you, this little outburst shouldn't be a telling sign.

We've all been there. In any relationship we have these little competitions. It's all healthy.

The one meltdown I had that immediately comes to mind was on a golf course where I saw a man in another foursome reach down and take my ball. My brother and brother-in-law watched him pick it up, but since we were in competition, they wouldn't let me just play another ball without penalty. "That sucks," my brother said. "Yeah, tough way to earn a stroke," my brother-in-law answered.

I decided to take matters into my own hands. Angry with the situation, I jumped in the golf cart and raced down the fairway with my golf club raised high like Mel Gibson in Braveheart - I should have been yelling Freedom!

Of course, halfway down the fairway, not knowing who I was chasing, and hearing the laughter behind me, I stopped, took a deep breath and headed back. I took the penalty and never lived it down.

I'm certain that Hillary is now in the same boat. She didn't mean it. She wishes she could take it back. Yet like my golf partners, Bill laughed heartily when he saw the footage, alone in his room in Vegas where he most likely didn't party at all.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Oscar Madison Lives On

I was packing clothes for an upcoming trip, folding everything as I put it into the suitcase, trying hard not to wrinkle anything as I did so.

As I worked to make everything just right in my suitcase it struck me that no matter how much care I put into the task I still wasn't going to pull it off. You remember the Odd Couple, right? When Oscar Madison was going to write about a sporting event he put on a suit and tie. Most people look good in a suit and tie. Oscar? No. Me? No.

Why can't I pull it off?

"You can put him in a ten-thousand dollar suit," my sister Corinne once said, "and he'd still look like a bum."

"And sooner or later there'd be a mustard stain on it," my sister Carrie added.

I don't know what it is - I try to look good. I really do. I remember once I was getting ready for a book signing - I all but ran down the stairs thinking I'd really pulled it off this time. My wife was at the bottom of the stairs. She took one look at me and said, very sweetly, "Uh, no. Try again."

It's been a long time since someone laid my clothes out for me, but I'm afraid I'm right back at square one. Packing was a chore. The only shirts that truly look good on me have an interlocking NY in the top left-hand corner.

Can we get to the bottom of it?

Here are the problems as I see it:

1). I've never ironed - not once - not anything. It shows sometimes.

2). I like mustard. I like sandwiches. Sometimes when I bite the sandwich the mustard leaks out.

3). I can't see myself. Therefore I have no idea that I'm offending anyone with my attire. I don't regularly glance in the mirror, therefore, while I feel good, I may look crappy. I sort of consider that your problem.

4). People have given up. My sisters tried to get me to change my look as I tried to find a date in high school - didn't work. My college friends tried to spruce me up too, but Bruce was wearing a bandanna in those days so I was too. And my poor wife? She's tried. God Bless her, she has. She buys me nice shirts - if they're white they might just as well say disposable on them - I get one wear out of white. If they are something a little more stylish, I push them to the back of the closet.

I'm 44 - my closet is full of crap. My favorite shirts either have a number on the back or the dates of the latest Springsteen Tour. I still have the one from Born in the USA - I don't wear it much, though.

It doesn't fit.

And there's a huge mustard stain right under the picture of a leaping Springsteen.

Working For It

Say your grandfather is Kirk Douglas,which of course, makes your father Michael Douglas, which of course makes Catherine Zeta-Jones your step-mommy. Wouldn't that make you proud? Wouldn't it inspire you to do something with your life?

Cameron Douglas is the son of Michael and a life-long drug addict, or so they say. Yesterday there was a story about his girlfriend getting busted trying to sneak him a little heroin in his electric toothbrush while he was under house arrest with guards searching everything brought to him.

Not sure what it would be like to be the child of someone quite as famous as that, but there was certainly enough money around, wasn't there? The kid didn't grow up broke which usually leads to a life of crime. I'm sure that he had every opportunity made available to him, and the life he chose is going to leave him in prison for quite some time.

Now I don't know much about the Douglas family - they seem to be decent people and good actors for sure, but the problem isn't isolated to them. I suppose that there is something to the fact that you can't hand your kids too much, too fast. They sort of need their own identity, don't they?

There are plenty of examples of people struggling under the weight of enormous expectations. I'm sure that when the kid was born and grandpa and daddy were making their money, that there was a little pressure on him to take over the family business, and perhaps it wasn't what he needed to do. Throw in all that money, the servants, the new step-mom who's pretty freaking hot, and you make a mess of a kid, right?

Thankfully, my children aren't going to have to worry about inheriting the mother lode - they are going to have to scratch and claw just like most other people, and maybe that's not such a bad thing. Farrah's kid is in jail. This kid is a mess. Johnny Carson's kid, Elvis' kid, Dean Martin's kid - the list is endless.

I guess, all that wealth doesn't mean much if you weren't the one to work for it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Lost in the Flood

I know a guy from work who schedules meetings or ends visits by saying: "If the creek doesn't rise I'll see you later."

Well, as made abundantly clear to me this year, the creek does rise - both literally and figuratively. This year the waters seem to be over the bridge and sloshing on the deck of the ship that was once thought to be unsinkable.

On Sunday night the storms raged again - big loud thunderclaps that had my dogs shaking and looking for cover. "Woke last night to the sounds of thunder." I didn't have to "how far off, I sat and wonder," because they seemed like they were striking the pieces of the torn down swing set that have not yet been discarded.

"What're we going to do about this?" Melky and Shadow's eyes seemed to ask as they tried to jump into the bed.

"Nothing we can do, guys," I said. "We need to ride the storm out and assess the damage later."

I had a fleeting thought about the basement flooding - it had been something that used to keep me up at night. I really didn't care on Sunday - if it flooded, we'd clean it up and go on.

Another loud boomer struck something big. I thought of a college buddy who'd been afraid of storms and then just headed out into the middle of one to face his fears. He came back soaked and shaking and said, "There, I conquered that fear."

On Monday the devastation from the storms was all over the evening news. Houses and boats were floating away on the creeks that rose to record heights.

"There can't be anything worse than losing everything you own to a flash flood," the news anchor said.

"I beg to differ with you," I mumbled to the screen.

Yet belongings floating away. People in tears. Rescue helicopters in the air. I thought of Katrina and the devastation it brought with it.

I thought of my buddy from work.

If the creek don't rise.

Rise it will.

Rise above it.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Feeling a Little Ann Landers-ish

Got this e-mail today - it's a message that bares repeating - not sure who wrote it -I get it in the e-mail every once in awhile and always read it through to the end. Not sure I always live it that way though.

"Too many people put off something that brings them joy just
because they haven't thought about it, don't have it
on their schedule, didn't know it was coming or are too
rigid to depart from their routine.

I got to thinking one day about all those people on the
Titanic who passed up dessert at dinner that fateful night
in an effort to cut back. From then on, I've tried
to be a little more flexible.

How many women out there will eat at home because their
husband didn't suggest going out to dinner until after
something had been thawed? Does the word
'refrigeration' mean nothing to you?
How often have your kids dropped in to talk and sat in
silence while you watched 'Jeopardy' on television?

I cannot count the times I called
my sister and said , 'How about going to lunch in a
half hour?' She would gas up and stammer, 'I
can't. I have clothes on the line. My hair
is dirty. I wish I had known yesterday, I had a late
breakfast, It looks like rain' And my personal
favorite: 'It's Monday.' She died a few
years ago. We never did have lunch together.

Because Americans cram so much into their lives, we tend to
schedule our headaches.. We live on a sparse diet of
promises we make to ourselves when all the conditions are
perfect!

We'll go back and visit the grandparents when we get
Steve toilet-trained. We'll entertain when we
replace the living-room carpet. We'll go on a
second honeymoon when we get two more kids out of college.

Life has a way of accelerating as we get older. The
days get shorter, and the list of promises to ourselves gets
longer. One morning, we awaken, and all we
have to show for our lives is a litany of 'I'm
going to,' 'I plan on,' and 'Someday, when
things are settled down a bit.'

When anyone calls my 'seize the moment' friend, she
is open to adventure and available for trips. She
keeps an open mind on new ideas. Her enthusiasm for
life is contagious. You talk with her for five
minutes, and you're ready to trade your bad feet for a
pair of Rollerblades and skip an elevator for a bungee cord.

My lips have not touched ice cream in 10 years. I
love ice cream. It's just that I might as well
apply it directly to my stomach with a spatula and eliminate
the digestive process. The other day, I stopped the
car and bought a triple-decker. If my car had hit an
iceberg on the way home, I would have died happy.

Now...go on and have a nice day. Do something you
WANT to...not something on your SHOULD DO list. If you were
going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would
you call and what would you say? ;And why are
you waiting?

Have you ever watched kids playing on a merry go round or
listened to the rain lapping on the ground? Ever
followed a butterfly's erratic flight or gazed at the
sun into the fading night? Do you run through each day
on the fly? When you ask 'How are you?'
Do you hear the reply?

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed with the next
hundred chores running through your head? Ever told
your child, 'We'll do it tomorrow.' And in your
haste, not see his sorrow? Ever lost touch? Let
a good friendship die? Just call to say 'Hi'?


When you worry and hurry through your day, it is like an
unopened gift....Thrown away.... Life is not a race. Take it
slower. Hear the music before the song is
over.

'Life may not be the party we hoped for... but
while we are here we might as well dance!'"

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Random Garbage

Thoughts collected as I wonder why it wants to rain every freaking Sunday...

--- The Yanks need only to go .500 to win 94 games and most likely the AL East and they aren't going to slump to just .500. Still waiting for one announcer to stop crying about the money they spend and talk about the money they generate for the sport to keep the degenerate teams afloat. Wha! It's not fair! Then make your own team an attraction. (Seems conservative to me).

--- Ralph Wilson is in the Hall of Fame and he thanked Buffalo. How heartwarming is that? Much better than hearing him cry about how broke he is - at the age of 91, coming off thirty straight years of sell-outs in a town where disposable income is tough to come by. See above. Try to win once more Ralph - if you love Buffalo - give some back by making an honest effort at winning it all. Hire us a coach, please.

--- Enough sports - got a survey about whether or not Obama is screwing things up with his policy shifts. The results of the survey say he's doing just horribly. Can people be yearning for the prosperity and peace we enjoyed under George W? Ah, those were the good old days - we should have stayed the course, right? If we had we'd all be homeless now.

--- Yet I heard from a buddy reading along that I have a liberal slant to my writings (Shut-up, Paul) so at a recent get-together a friend of mine and I went through the issues - I was about 50/50 when it came to different issues and where I fell on them - yeah - 50% conservative and 50% liberal. Shocking, right?

--- I for one will certainly miss Paula Abdul - not that I ever watched more than 30 seconds of the Karaoke contest, but once in awhile I liked to listen to her tell a contestant how much she loved their heart, and how they'd be a big star someday as tears filled her eyes and her head bobbed to and fro. Struck me as she was swinging a somewhat empty head.

--- I seriously need to stop reading the newspapers - one story after another is about tragedy and sadness - planes falling from the sky, the latest murders, accidents, Jacko, Farrah...please make it stop. "I'm going down, down, down..."

--- Loved watching the girls softball game under the lights at a summer festival this weekend. That's what summer is all about - dunk tanks, beauty contests, baseball games, fried dough, and a corn-eating contest. The highlight of the night was when my niece turned to me and said - "Why don't you enter the corn-eating contest? No one is a bigger pig than you?" It made my heart sing.

--- The yard work is almost done. We should finish before the first snow flies - in about 60 days. Still working on talking myself into writing something big...a couple of speaking engagements coming up might stoke the fire. I hope.

--- My boys Sam and Jake were trying to explain to me why Kanye West is better than Springsteen. We were watching a documentary on the singer Meatloaf and they wondered why Meat's band played so many instruments when they were singing. I tried to explain that music is predicated on singing, talent, performance, the playing of instruments and stirring lyrics.

"All the guys you like are old," Jake said.
"And they don't talk about ho's," Sam added.

I called the blog random garbage...couldn't explain that singing about bitches and ho's and guns just seems like random garbage to me...then again, I'm old...and 50%liberal...and tired...and 50% conservative.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Time in a Bottle

Back in college a few of us once took a test, sponsored by the school, that determined if you were an alcoholic or not. The test seemed real slanted to us back then and we all answered it as honestly as we could.

Question 1 - How many days a week do you drink? They were looking for two or less - we came in at 5 plus or minus one day.

Question 2 - Can you have a good time without drinking? They were looking for yes - we answered an emphatic no.

Question 3 - Have you ever blacked out from drinking? I remember one of my buddies saying is that 'Ever - or just this weekend?'

Question 4 - Can you stop drinking once you've started? Same guy said - 'Yeah when I black out.'

Question 5 - Has drinking ever caused you to miss class or an assignment? One guy we went to school with told his professors that his sister died so that he could have a solid two weeks off - he didn't have a sister. He might have had a slight problem.

I ask all of these questions against the backdrop of the story out of New York with the wrong-way driver who supposedly was about a .19 with a car full of kids, and an accident that resulted in 8 dead. Not a subject to joke about by any means, but her family is saying that she never drank - not even a little - is that possible? Could it have been a one-time thing?

They say that alcoholism is a progressive disease and that it destroys the health of millions - it's even more deadly as drinkers get behind the wheel and I'm certain that good people do it because as Sam Kinnison said - "I'm against drunk-driving but there's a fundamental problem - How the *$%# do I get my car home?"

I attended a corn festival last night (Congrats to the team of Cataldo-Renaldo - the runner was out at 3rd!) and there was a barn filled with people swilling draft beer. No doubt a number of those people (and I'm talking you couldn't even walk in the place because of the crowd) got behind the wheel. Yet usually a heavy drinker can't hide the fact from their friends and family. Can they?

I pray for the families of the victims in such crashes - horrible, horrible way to go - and end with the results of our little drinking quiz back twenty some years ago- One of my buddies proudly said, as Jim Croce sang in the background:

"The sad part is that if I could save Time in a Bottle I'd probably end up drinking it."

He might have had a problem.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Every Day Sucks

Talking with a co-worker yesterday - it was his turn in the barrel - everything he touched turned to crap. After a bunch of texts he remarked, 'This day sucked.'

I texted back - only half-kidding - 'Every day sucks and if you begin with that premise you won't be disappointed.'

He texted back - 'Man, I'm not built to think that way.'

And Thank God for that. Yet quoting my buddies from Pink Floyd - Day after day life seems grey and night after night we pretend it's all right.

There are people who live with deep depression settling as a cloud over their heads each and every day. I honestly feel sorry for them because I'm not quite built that way either - life does suck if you wallow in the pitiful mess of it all, but most days there is something to look forward to, right?

Yet I was flipping through the channels the other night and there was a depression medicine advertisement on - it spoke of the wonderful veil that will be lifted and how each day would seem brighter as the cloud of depression was lifted. Then real quick the announcer said, 'Side affects include, dry mouth, loss of sexual desire, diarrhea, mouth sores, and stomach cramps.'

Wouldn't the side affects sort of bring the depression back?

I can't imagine that conversation between some depressed human being and their best friend.

Depressed Woman: "Man I feel better about life. Now if I could just get rid of these mouth sores, stomach cramps and dry mouth, I'd be on top of the world."

Friend: What's that smell?

Depressed Woman: I just shit my pants - diarrhea from the medicine, but man I feel good.

Yeah - every day sucks - it's a good premise to start with - the rest of the day will seem downright cheerful.

Time Waits For No One

I've always been a big Stones fan - love the Keith Richards guitar licks - love Mick's voice - even loved a lot of the lyrics. I often think of Time is on My Side, yes it is - but thought of the old song - Time Waits for No One as I watched the Yankee-Red Sox game last night.

I had always liked John Smoltz - he was a pitcher for the Braves for twenty years and was on two of the teams that the Yanks spanked to win the World Series in the late 90's. I used to hate when he was against the Yanks, but I admired his talents and the way he carried himself. And then he went and signed with the Red Sox during the off-season and I thought it was a shame because I would have to grow to hate him.

I actually loved him last night because he stunk and the Yanks blasted him, but for the first time in my life I actually felt bad for an opposing pitcher - Smoltz looked like a shell of himself. The windup and delivery were the same. The intense look was the same - but his mind was writing checks that his body couldn't cash. It was sad.

Sam and Jake were watching the game with me and Sam made a remark about Smoltz being old - "When you get old you should quit," he said. (I'm sure Smoltz was thinking the same thing).

"How old is Lowell?" Jake asked. "He moves like he's fifty."

"He's 40," I said. "Smoltz is 42. They both look like they're done."

"You're 44," Sam said. "Are you done?"

I laughed. I suppose the major league dream is really over. "My splitter ain't what it used to be and my fastball lost a few miles," I answered.

Yet watching Smoltz suffer wasn't enjoyable as a baseball fan - it was fun as a Yankee fan, mind you, but it hurt in the context of getting old myself.

This is the first year that there isn't a Yankee older than me on the roster. Looking at the 20-year-old girls who are the Playboy centerfolds even seems a little creepy. (All right that was a lie).

Yet time waits for no one. See ya' Smoltz. Hang 'em up now. Let the kids take your place.

I started with the Stones and now I'm singing the friggen' circle of life.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Camp Clifford

There's an excitement in the air around my house as Camp Clifford races through it's second full month before school begins again. The camp is open from around six AM through 11 PM and breakfast, lunch and a couple of dinners are served.

The game systems are fired up all day long. You can ride your bike if you feel that ambitious and there are swimming trips, movies, arcade trips, basketball camps, baseball games and special events planned, on a whim and without regard.

And that's exactly how it should be. I remember how much fun summer could be. There were endless games played out with my brothers and sisters. There were moments when we couldn't get along and my mother would have to separate and conquer. I see Kathy employing many of the tricks.

There were also tasks handed out by my father and I try my best to break up the carnival by asking my boys to help out a little, but they don't seem to work quite as hard as my brothers, sisters and I did.

Still, the mood is definitely upbeat around Camp Clifford. Yesterday I came home to see Jake fighting away at Halo, Matt pretending the Bills were good on his PlayStation and Sam playing quarterback for the Georgia Bulldogs - the name 'Fazzolari' was right there on the screen.

"How's Fazzolari playing?" I asked.
"That's me, I'm awesome, of course," he said.

In the middle of it all Kathy works hard behind the scenes to keep it running smoothly. Dinner, laundry, yard work, keeping the dishes full of sink in control - it's all a battle.

And I think back through all of the days of work, aggravation, happiness, sadness, despair - and I remember all the baseball games played out in the big backyard on Shirley Road. Camp Fuzzy's hasn't been up and running for awhile, but I distinctly remember that I am the all-time home run king in hitting the tennis ball into the pool.

Yeah, yeah, I know I changed the rules to fit my swing, and I understand that people were afraid to argue with me because I was such a poor sport as a kid - but they're my camp memories - I can remember as I see fit.

Looking back they are memories that are worth more than gold - and that's all we offer here at Camp Clifford - just make those dreams come true.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Evil Comes in All Shapes and Sizes

Just looking at the photo of Kim Jong Il - what a tiny man he is and yet an entire nation is under his baby-like thumb. He rules with an iron-fist and a defiance that should be reserved for a man the size of oh say, Shaq O'Neal. And how about Slick Willie standing next to him, taking all the credit for the release of the journalists when their release had been negotiated for months? Willie never misses an opportunity to score, does he?

Yet it's the look of Kim Jong Il that got me thinking today - first I read about the woman who killed all those people by driving the wrong way on Taconic Parkway - she was absolutely annihilated - a .19 with a vodka bottle in the car and more pot in her bloodstream than Tommy Chong. How do you get to that point? (Allegedly). I was genuinely surprised when that information came to light.

Still I didn't have even enough time from the shock of that to wear off before our latest mass killing - Pittsburgh again - the man walked into a fitness club and opened fire because he never truly had much luck with the ladies, or so the story goes.

That has to be the absolute worst excuse I've ever heard for gunning down people - it's a good thing it never was a credo of mine because there would have been a auditorium full of women from my high school and college days who would've been in a world of trouble.

Manson was about 5' tall. Jong Il couldn't play forward on the all-evil basketball team either. How tall was Hitler?

It seems to me that we're living in a day and age when you just never know what evil lurks around the very next corner.

Mass murder, wrong way drunk drivers, world leaders who thrive on hate-mongering.

Man, it's a good thing I had pasta with seafood tonight or I'd be in a lousy mood.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Now I Really Hate Krazy Glue

As a fiction writer you're always looking for the next angle. Many times you hold back on the drama because in the backdrop of real life it doesn't seem like it could truly happen. Yet truth is stranger than fiction and it presented itself in a story I read on the Internet.

A Wisconsin man was lured into a hotel room after answering an ad on Craig's List. Once inside he was asked to put a blindfold on and was tied to the bed - sounds like fun, so far, right?

Yet being bound and blindfolded by a complete stranger can be less fun than it sounds especially when three other women break into the room to teach you a lesson about being unfaithful - one of the other three women was the poor bastard's wife.

Of course, his behavior was deemed unacceptable by the crew of women and they decided to dole out their own punishment. They beat him a little bit, ripped off his underwear and Krazy Glued "a sensitive part" of his body to his stomach.

The Krazy Glue angle sold me on the story. I'm not even allowed to handle it around our house. I can't tell you how many times I had to go to my wife for help after gluing a couple of my fingers together. I can only thank god that I didn't have to tinkle while I was using it.

The women, of course, have been arrested and will now face charges of false imprisonment, but I bet you that they exchanged high-five's at the courthouse.

A few lessons here:

1). Craig's List doesn't sound like the best option for meeting new girls. Try the supermarket or church.

2). If someone offers to bind and gag you make sure you have some sort of background check first. And for god's sake at least lock the door.

3). If on a date and the Krazy Glue makes an appearance, do all that you can to just get it on your fingers and not your frank and beans.

I'm not making this stuff up. I wonder if he'll ever cheat again. Probably so - as soon as he guts unstuck.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Wanna' Get a Drink or Something?

Ryan O'Neal was recently in the news because of the death of Farrah Fawcett. Through the years he's been something of a train wreck with all kinds of disgraceful items being brought to the attention of his fans.

The article I read this morning said that at Farrah's funeral he made a pass at a good-looking blonde that he'd picked out of the crowd. He was dismayed when the blonde told him that she was Tatum - his daughter. How does he respond to that little piece of information? Uh,my bad, sorry?

O'Neal went on to say that he should have never been a father claiming that all 4 of his kids were either in jail or should be there. He claims he's sorry for all he's done.

Those of us who are parents are sure of just one thing (hopefully) and that's the wish that our children will have an easier go of it then we do. My biggest fear is that my children will adopt some of my own self-destructive traits and I'll do my best to steer them onto the right path. Isn't that straight from the parenting handbook?

I've always considered that as a parent I learned from my parents - the things that they did right (and there were a ton of them) have been adopted into my code and the things they did wrong have been noted and hopefully eliminated. Yet it certainly is a crap-shoot as we walk a fine line between doing the right thing and stifling the child's natural development.

Yet if you have four kids, with three different women, mind you, and they all seem to be suffering, then perhaps it is true, you shouldn't have been allowed to carry a card as a father.

One of O'Neal's children complained that he was just crying over Farrah because he wanted some of her money - it's reported he didn't get any. Tatum wrote a book detailing that he was a monster.

Imagine the new book after he asked her out thinking that she was just another victim of his wandering eye.

I don't care how old you are, being asked out by your father, who hadn't seen you enough to recognize who you are, has to be a tad disconcerting.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Who's Better Than You?

There was a guy I knew from New York City, Lenny, who lived life as if there were no tomorrow. Every single person he met, he'd make sure they remembered who he was. If he noticed a pretty girl on the street, he'd offer a standing ovation and thank her for just walking by. It was always uncomfortable for the girl, but I imagine they loved the attention.

If you were to do something for him, or say something he thought was particularly inspiring he'd ask the question - "Who's Better Than You?" Sometimes he'd follow it up with the exclamation - "NOBODY!"

It became a catch-phrase of those of us who knew him and I sometimes ask the question of the kids - if you get a Who's Better Than You? - it makes you feel good and I think that's what my buddy had been going for. Unfortunately for him, he ran out of days way too early - running out of tomorrows as a fairly young man. I looked to the sky and gave him a 'Who's Better Than You' last week when I was in New York.

And recently I was watching an episode of Family Guy where Lois told Peter that she loved him and he responded, "Thank you, I've grown quite fond of you also."

I waited a few days to use the line in response to my wife and she looked at me as though she wanted to rip my face off - great line nonetheless.

Yet there is precious little time to tell others how you feel. I've always been a guy who believes that people know if you love them, hate them, or feel indifferent. I'm real confident that the people in my life know full well how much they mean to me. I most likely don't verbalize it enough, but who does?

I've grown fond of a lot of people in my day, but there are certainly too many to list here. So, my idea is to present it to you as my boy Lenny used to - ask yourself the question:

Who's Better Than You?

NOBODY!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Dishes Full of Sink

There's an old episode of Seinfeld where Jerry informs George that perhaps he needs a psychiatrist. George asks Jerry if he really thinks it's necessary and Jerry explains that a team of psychiatrists working around the clock probably couldn't cure what ails George. Typical Larry David -funny stuff.

I'm right there with Mr. Costanza.

Through all of my adult life I'd have to say that the one thing that ails me most is clutter. I'm not trying to dig too deep here, but I hate when things are out of place. I'm not a clean-freak, mind you, but I have a deep desire to put everything away.

Pop cans waiting to be recycled? Absolute madness. The shoes tossed into the storage room, not in pairs? Drives me nuts. Waking up to the dishes full of sink? Threatens to make me jump from the highest bridge.

And I did say that correctly - dishes full of sink - and that's because during one of my melt-downs, yelling at Matt or Jake or Sam for eating a three-course meal before bed, and leaving the dishes scattered around like dead soldiers so I could find them heavily crusted in the morning - I yelled - "I DON'T WANT TO WAKE UP TO THE DISHES FULL OF SINK EVERY MORNING."

Sam laughed first. Jake soon joined him, and Matt, knowing that laughter wasn't truly appropriate, battled the giggle before letting it go.

"YOU THINK IT'S FUNNY?"

"It's kind of funny," Kathy said, coming to the aid of the children. "You said, dishes full of sink."

I walked away, stifling my own grin.

Yet I need those psychiatrists to tell me why I feel unable to write when there is even a hint of a job to do. I need Freud to explain to me why I have to rearrange the black notebook on my desk in such a manner before the mind is free to create. I need that psychiatrist from M*A*S*H to explain why a dirty dish can't rest in the sink - which is actually a fairly appropriate place for it to be.

A couple of nights ago, a buddy of mine swung by for a drink. Out of the blue, he started explaining why it's so difficult to raise two young girls who have also done a lot of lounging around during the summer break.

"I wake up and the sink is full of dishes," he said.

Sam and Kathy were both listening in. Sam cleared his throat and corrected my buddy. "Dishes full of sink," he said.

They all had a nice little laugh. My buddy brought it up to me this morning.

Perhaps Bob Newhart - who played a great psychiatrist on the old show - can bail me out.

As I head down the stairs this morning I am sure of one thing, if there's a pan left in the sink, I'm going to wake up the boys by banging on it like a bongo.

That's good mental health, isn't it?

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