Friday, December 31, 2010

Stop the Fight!

New Year's Eve sort of feels like the one holiday where you simply take stock in your life and either dismiss the passing year as a 'that sucked' or say something really stupid like, 'I am going to miss 2010. Everything went right for me this year.'

I don't even want to look back. Sick of beating myself to death with thoughts of what could have been better.

And I don't want to look forward, either. Tired of the wanting, wanting, wanting element of it all and then looking back and saying, 'that sucked.'

So I'm not doing any of it this year. I'm simply going to try and enjoy life. The hell with understanding it. Hmmmm where'd I hear that before?

So there won't be any:

I'm going to try and drink less, eat less, and lose 15 pounds.

If I do, I do. If I don't, I don't.

I won't be saying:

I'm going to watch less television and read more books.

First off, I have a good balance there. Secondly I may not have a choice as Time Warner is threatening to strip me of the Judge Judy Hour.

I used to say:

I'm going to finish writing one book and get one book published by the end of the year:

My publisher might have other plans, but that was way too freaking ambitious. Stephen King can write a book a month. Slowing that pace way down. Not saying it's over, by any means, but self-imposed deadlines suck.

So, in the lowered expectations mode, what am I wishing for in 2011.


Please just a year free of catastrophe and calamity in the family dynamic. Did you ever see a boxer continually pound his beaten opponent as he is drifting toward the canvas?

Although you are watching it to see a good beating, doesn't your heart shift a little to the guy who is slumping into unconsciousness? Aren't you glad when the ref steps in and tells the bully to step to his neutral corner?

That's all I really want to reflect on this year...come on, catastrophe...step to the corner and let's see if the slob can get up.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Mommy! Mother! Momma! Ma! Mom!!!!!

As I grew up there were very distinct reasons why I called either my mother or my father's name. If it were love and security I sought, both were eager to answer the bell, but Mom offered the most comforting arms.

If it was strength and discipline I needed - when John was beating the holy hell out of me, for instance - I usually bellowed Dad's name.

This all came to mind yesterday as I read the story of Elton John and his wife, David Furnish, becoming proud parents for the first time. Elton and David are the parents of a baby boy. Or is it David Furnish and his wife, Elton John?

Read those sentences again. Does it sound right to you?

Now, I have been forever accused of being a liberal and while the story doesn't make me angry or shudder in fear that society is being ruined by two guys who apparently love one another to introduce a child to their lives, and while I wish them luck and hope that the kid flourishes in his new environment. I may not be quite as progressive as I think.

I'm just saying.

There are distinct problems, right?

Who is Mommy? Who is Daddy?

Not to mention the chore of breast feeding. Elton has always been on the husky side, but the milk glands don't work in big man-boobs, right?

Do they, Pops?

Sorry, pal...(that's for the donkey-porn stuff)

I always think of Rodney Dangerfield whenever the subject of breast-feeding comes up.

"My mother wouldn't breast-feed me," Rodney said. "She told me we were just friends."

I don't know. The articles are confusing as the proud pappa and the proud pappa talk about what it will be like to raise a child in this crazy world.

You think they're confused?

Wait until that kid is old enough to figure out that David and Elton are going out and Elton is dressed in a low-cut blouse, with pumps, earrings, and a push-up bra.

Life is a real peach, huh?

Bet that kid's first word is 'Daddy'.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Oh Brother! Early Returns

The books are going out. If you haven't received yours yet, and you ordered one, don't worry, you will shortly!

Some of the early returns are in however and it seems that the message was sent and received.

Last night my buddy Brad sent me an email that had a wonderful sentiment attached saying that the 5 hours he spent reading it, at one sitting, may have changed his life. Then he explained that he would like for me to write one book that required that he have a bookmark.

As an author there isn't a bigger compliment, right?

My sisters, my uncle, my sister-in-law and a few others have also chimed in letting me know that Jeff's life was well-documented and that I had captured his spirit well. Every kind word goes straight to my heart and serves as a reminder that there is plenty of work to do so that Jeff's message reaches as many eyes as possible.

There are times, when I am watching Judge Judy when I wonder to myself if someone, somewhere, is reading words that I wrote down. Let me tell you, given the hours that goes into a project, you hope that someone is, right?

Of course, this story is so personal, so full of raw human emotion, so dear to all of our hearts that there certainly was some trepidation involved. Do we lay the entire Fuzzy story down on the line here in order to memorialize Jeff's beautiful life, or do we suffer in silent sadness?

First of all, did you ever me a quiet Fuzzy?

Secondly, the message is wonderful and clear. It was Jeff's message not mine.

Celebrate your life, your love, your family. Celebrate!

How could I mess up such a message?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Have Enough Money?

So, Matt had a plan. He put in his time at MattDonald's so that he could pay his car insurance through the summer. Once he had enough money saved....and I must admit he didn't spend even one thin dime...he quit. He was extremely proud of the fact that he will pay for that insurance without a problem.

"I hated that hellhole," he said by way of explanation when I asked him why he quit.

So, it was all figured out. It prompted me to tell my wife that I had enough money for awhile, I too wanted to quit.

"You don't have any money," she responded. "And I don't have enough."

So, I battled through. Throwing a jab here and there at Matt, but letting it slide. Good kid. Good grades. Helps out around here if he is threatened enough.

Well, lo and behold...he needed a muffler and the whole shot or so I'm told. (I don't know much about that crap).

$500 bill that he was ill-prepared to assist in the payment of.

You know how the bill will get paid?

Yes, the guy without the exit strategy is on the hook for the tab.

Thankfully we both didn't drag up at the same time, you know?

Not sure, but I may mention it to him this evening...

...but hell he is helping with the insurance, right?

Life seldom works out as planned, boy!

A Tail-Wagging Celebration

We have a dog that we saved from the scrap heap a couple of years ago. She goes by the name of Paris, or Pair-Pair, or Pair-Potater, or Paris Bueller. She is a ball of energy, of course, but what blows my mind about her is that she should be settled, at least a little, by now.

Except she isn't. She still sleeps in the crate downstairs and from the moment when I open the lock on her cage, until the moment she closes her eyes at night (which I still can't imagine) she is a whirlwind of excitement.

She's excited to eat. Excited to chase Melky, excited to see me. Excited to go outside. Excited to come in.

Actually, her excitement is a tad aggravating at times.

If I sit on the couch, she sits right at my arm, and tries her best to lick my face. Fun, huh? Reminds you that she is a loving creature, right?

Except she doesn't stop.

No matter how long I sit there.

She looks, smiles, tries to lick. Looks again. If I push her away she gets a hurt look in her eyes.

"Okay, Pair-Pair," I try. "I love you, now please let me watch Judge Judy."

Lick again.

"I'm calling Michael Vick," I tell her. "You can go live with him until he dunks you under water."

The kids laugh. Paris seems to laugh.

"Let her outside," I say.

The mere mention of the word fires her up.

Ah, to be a dog. What a life!

As long as you don't run into Vick.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Week In Between

The build up to Christmas is powerful, and the celebration is always somehow worth the aggravation of all that needs to be done, and that's because I have a family that goes at everything real hard. The last week has been one of those weeks where the tank was really emptied as the book arrived, we all gathered, and food and drink was plentiful.

And now we have the in between week. The days when we trudge off to work, knowing that the coming of the new year will bring another party, and all of the hopes of getting through one damn year without catastrophe rearing its ugly head.

I've always believed that having a book come out is a lot like giving birth. People hear you talking about it, but it isn't really concrete to them until they are holding it in their hands, and now the worrying about reactions begins. Did I do this right? Did I hold the attention? Is it funny? Too sad? Too little? Too much?

The crash that comes along with it is well known to my family and friends, and one of my buddies, moments after handing him the book said, 'Don't crash yet. We need to promote Jeff's story.'

There was plenty of grey goose swilled on Christmas night. Unfortunately, I was doing the majority of the swilling, and I battled through the crash on my own, waking up real early this morning, knowing that it was time to refocus.

Camp Clifford is open this week. Kathy and the boys will most likely not change out of their pajamas all week.

Me? Well, I'm looking forward to the week in between. I'm writing the blog (a day late, Gag) and thinking about holidng off on the early shower so I don't wake everyone until a reasonable hour.

There's so much more to do before the year closes out, but the minutes are moving like hours here in the middle of the night. Hopefully, I have pushed myself right past the usual crash, and can promote the story without a month-long funk.

Life is strange in the middle of the night. The dog is snoring, the children's voices are ringing in my ears as I relive the excitement of them opening their presents.

Minutes to memories, I suppose.

I'm busting through this wall in front of me. I'm going to enjoy the week in between.

Finally, in this disjointed blog, it must be said that my wife did a wonderful job of setting up what Sam so excitedly called: our best Christmas ever. Thank God she pushes us through the crashes.

I hope Camp Clifford is bustling with excitement today.

Friday, December 24, 2010

So Then My Wife Says...

Matthew will be getting a car. Actually, it's my Dad's car and the 'getting it' part of it involved me going to the DMV with my mother to transfer the plates.

Okay, so, a trip to the DMV doesn't exactly get your motor running, right?

But my wife says that I am going, and that I need to get it done. She asked me to agree, so I did.

However, being the strong man that I am I begged her to do the legwork of getting the paperwork filled out, calling the place to find out when it closes...things of that sort.

So, my wife says, yesterday morning: You're all set.

In the car for the 20 minute trip to pick up Mom. No problem whatsoever as I really enjoy spending time with my mother.

20 minutes to the DMV.

"Wow, there's no one in the parking lot," Mom says.

"It's close to Christmas," I say. "That'll be good, we'll get right in and right out."

"There isn't even one car in the lot," my mother said. "Did the person who's going to wait on us walk to work?"

(All of the Fuzzy's are funny)

Sure enough, the sign on the door is a computer generated frown that begs forgiveness as the DMV people wanted an extra day for Christmas.

So, I call my wife. She says: let me check to see if there's another one open.

There is.

Back in the car for a 30 minute drive.

30 minutes at the DMV.

30 minutes to drive Mom back home.

20 minutes back to my house.

I walk in the door.

So then my wife says:

Jake wants to visit with a friend. Can you run him over there? It's only 10 minutes away.

Yes, Dear.

I can't wait until Matt gets his car.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Too Many Days Like This

We should be celebrating my Dad's 73rd birthday. He should be here to tell me, "Bah, I don't want you to come over. I'll see you on Christmas Eve."

And when we all showed up anyway...

"Bah, I don't want any presents. Why don't you keep your money?"

And he should have been yelling, "Bah, the kids are ruining the house!"

And asking:

"Are you hungry? Wanna' beer with your old men? How's work?"

And then finally this as we back out of the drive:

I say, "Happy Birthday, Pops."

And he says:

"I love you, buddy."

There are too many days like this one scattered through the year. Days when we wish each other well in the face of pain.

Days when we give that little head shake and shrug.

And children lose parents, and parents lose children, and brothers lose best friends, and husbands lose wives and wives lose husbands... and there would be way more than 308 million hanging around if people didn't head off to a better life when called...

...But sad days suck.

That's all I'm saying.

"Happy birthday, Pops!"

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

308 Million People

The census has been conducted and the overall population of the United States is set at 308 million, give or take the thousands of missing people who fill up our 48 Hours Mystery Shows.

It seems to me that of that 308 million about half of them are on Milestrip Road trying to get to the Home Depot, Office Max and Applebees. About a quarter million of them are going straight in the right hand lane when I am trying to make a right on red.

I remember being at a Springsteen concert a long time ago at the CNE up in Toronto and my buddy Fluff just kept yelling out, "Why are there so many (freaking) people in my way! Don't you people have homes?" he screamed.

And there are quite a few people who always seem to be in the way and who seem to be less tolerant of everyone else and their plans to live. Just saying, people, people everywhere!

And where does it stop? The article says that we are heading for 400 million by the time that 2040 rolls around. Let's see...quick math...carry the one...that would make me 76 years old.

Can you imagine how much crankier I'll be as an old man...completely bald, horribly more misshapen, swinging a golf club (hopefully), and wondering why the hell I can't get a tee time because there are so many (freaking) people.

Ah, what the hell. The more the merrier. Bring me your poor and downtrodden.

Imagine the unemployment rate by then? If you have a job, you'll be a king.

Merry Christmas to all 308 million of you.

And stay out of the right hand lane, please.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Never before have I been so conflicted. The first set of the books is scheduled to arrive this week...possibly even tomorrow...and I am sick with the idea that such a book ever had to be written, but proud of the fact that Jeff's message will be spread to hundreds or thousands of people.

My buddy, and Jeff's buddy, Pops said that he will not rest until it sells a million more copies than Sarah Palin's book.

In a perfect world it would sell a hundred million more.

A man of substance.

My head is spinning.

Order your copy through your address and I will sign and send out and invoice.

I want to spread that message.

Best money you'll ever spend.

Come on, tomorrow!

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Gathering of Yankee Enthusiasts

Johnny's birthday celebration was held at a bowling alley again this year. It was sort of comical to me because out of the twenty or so people in attendance at least 15 had a Yankee shirt, hat, jacket, or underwear on.

My Mom has a wonderful brand new jacket with a pin for each of the World Championships on it. Johnny wore a shirt that he just received with Mattingly's #23 and the name Fazzolari across the back - it looked great on him - Carol!

At the party afterwards we all received Yankee mailbox covers, Yankee sunglasses, Yankee knit caps...and on and on.

But its not about the baseball team, right, stupid?

Its about our family and how close we are. We wear that NY insignia like it is our birthright. We share so much in talking baseball, chasing that World Series dream each year.

Rocco and Johnny and Farrah in Yankee gear makes me tear up.

The bowling? You ask?

Not good. Tough sport. I stink. How the hell can you knock down 9 pins with the first ball and miss the single pin left standing in nearly every frame?

Beer. Taunting siblings. A lousy hook. A shot of Jamesons. More taunting.

That's how.

Jeff and Dad watched from above. Smiling at the congregation of the Yankee fans and proud that we are still together...working on the dream.

Peace on Earth...Can It Be?

We all remember the old video of David Bowie and Bing Crosby singing Little Drummer Boy, don't we?

I used to love to watch MTV around this time of year because they played it a lot, and while it was an odd pairing, those two sang the hell out of that song. I hear Will Ferell is singing it this year, making a spoof of the video, but I haven't seen it yet. I heard he was respectful of the singing.

Anyway, for some reason, nice and early this morning the song popped into my head with Bowie and Bing's voices and all. They harmonized over the Peace on Earth...can it be? part. Beautiful mesh of voices. Sort of makes your heart wince.

I was about 18 years old when that video came out. For one reason or another, most likely ignorance, Peace on Earth through the singing of a song seemed sort of possible.

With all of the information beating us to death, that line seems sort of silly, huh?

Peace on Earth?

Can it be?

From a 46-year old's point of view it would seem that it is not only NOT possible, it is sort of laughable. How long have the wars stretched out before us? The United States is still in two of them...can't get out, so I'm told...making progress, but no real end in sight.

That may not even be the peace that Bing and Bowie were singing about. Peace in our neighborhoods. Peace between races. Peace between liberals and conservatives, for crying out loud!

Still, its a beautiful song, and it makes you sort of long for such a wonderful sentiment.

Perhaps I will try and find a copy of the original version and listen to it as if I were still just a kid.

When Bowie sings, 'Can it Be?' I will go back to pretending that the world is a nice, calm place.

In the question asked by the legendary Rodney King, I will wonder, 'Can't we all just get along?'

Like a beauty contestant, I will continue to pine for world peace.

I just don't think its possible anymore.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Incredible Efforts

This is a blog about an overwhelming feeling that has sort of taken control of my tired mind today. The story goes way, way, way back and includes so many people that I have trouble keeping count.

When Jeff died, lets be honest here, there was very little looking forward. I was trapped (still am on the bad days) looking back, hurting so much that doing anything other than taking one step after another to stay upright, was difficult.

The book idea was in the back of my mind, of course, after all, I am a writer...but I couldn't see any possible way that I could perform the act of actually doing what had come so naturally to me. How could I come to grips with what was so deep in my obliterated heart?

I will tell you exactly how it happened!

At the end of 2009, my publisher, my friend, and a truly great American, Cindy Sterling asked me to send her what I'd been writing during the year.

"I have nothing," I said.

"You have to have something," she said. "You have to release a book every year."

"Nothing. A few love notes about Jeff that I don't want to forget."

"Send me those," Cindy said.

The notes amounted to about 40 pages of worthless garbage that was dripping with love and tears. I apologized at the conclusion, saying that I might be done writing...completely done.

"You aren't done," Cindy responded.

Two days later, she offered me a contract and put a deadline on it. A 30-day deadline!!!!

I called her, laughing, at her lame attempt to light a fire.

"You have 60 days," Cindy said. She didn't laugh along.

Over the next 60 days, I wrote. The mixed-up messages my shattered heart were sending to my brain left me with a first draft that was quite different than what you will see as the finished product.

Little did I know but Cindy, Megan and Nicole at Sterlinghouse already knew what the finished product would be. They returned that first draft to me, and said - 'Fix this!'

The next 60 days were rough. That is where the next incredible effort comes in.

When I think of my wife and kids, I think of the U2 line where Bono sings: "I see the songs in your eyes!"

I watch the story come together in my wife's eyes. She doesn't say much and certainly doesn't help with the grammar or the story structure, but the love that I need to push me forward is front and center in those baby blues. She pushes me forward even as I push back. She closes the door for me and brings me a coffee, and she weathers the storm that comes with being lost in the structure of it all. She never doubts that I will get there. Her love is pure and simple and nonsensical and there is a daring that comes along with it...she dares me to be great as I write.

And I'm a blessed man. I was born smack dab in the middle of the most amazing family that the world has had the pleasure to meet. A mother and father and brothers and sisters that empty the tank in every circumstance. We were built on love and it is the fuel that makes us say and do the crazy, friggin' things that we do.

That love has been tested. The faith has been stretched to the absolute limit. Our hopes have been dashed, but there has been a rising because we are still working on a dream.

I have never been so tested in an editing process as I was in this book. The vision was to make it funny, but to start the story where it hurt, and to acknowledge the pain that would have to be addressed to allow the message of Jeff's life to be fully realized.

My wife, my children, my close friends (you know who you all are, but Pops, Yvonne, Jeffy, Gag, Johnny, and a few Chris' actually really held me up during the writing process) my publisher, my editor, my brothers, my sisters, my Mom and Dad all had the faith that I would get there.

I certainly didn't.

Yet with an incredible effort by those around me...I was able to get the message out.

And what is Jeff's message?

Straight and simple:

You ready?

Celebrate Your Life!

Celebrate Your Love.

Celebrate Your Family!

Celebrate the Mundane!

Celebrate the Exciting!


Only Love Will Teach You Joy!

Thank you, all for your incredible effort.

Do me a favor, huh?

Help me spread Jeff's message.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Michael Vick Wants A Dog

Just catching up on the news.

Miley Cyrus was caught smoking on a bong while Lindsay Lohan has been 100 days alcohol-free. There has to be a joke there somewhere. My Dad used to lead with the line that he gave up smoking and drinking and they were the worst two days of his life. Those are long, lonely days, indeed. Who cares what these little dorks drink or don't drink.

I see that the CEO of Morgan Stanley says that he will personally escort out any person in the company who details leaks of the company bonus. Could that be because the bonuses are too low and he doesn't want to be embarrassed? Not likely, huh? Its because he doesn't want the poor, pitiful American to understand how much they are stealing for their personal yachts and mansions.

Of course, the tax cuts for the rich have been re-upped for two years. Thank God. Now they can create jobs for the minions...or make bigger bonuses of which we will never know.

I see Mike Vick wants a dog. Not a lot of pooches lining up to fill that job vacancy. Can you imagine the lucky dog telling his dog friend?

"My owner is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Everyone loves him and he's a pretty good guy, except for when he holds my head under water, tazes me with his stun gun, and kicks me in the ribs because he himself is a worthless piece of crap. It's okay though, he told me that he didn't think it was wrong."

What else?

Bob Feller died. Heard an awful lot of him as a pitcher. Wonder what he would have commanded on the free agent market.

Please stop printing the salaries of these guys. It is making it impossible to love sports as we did as children.

"It's a business, it's a business, it's a business."

What about those of us who wanted it to be a game?

Enjoy the Friday.

Lock up your dog.

Don't tell anyone how big your bonus was.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Oh! Make It Stop!!!!

My 3-year old nephew Dylan and his little baby sister, Layla were over last night as my niece went to visit my nephew, who is now 7 weeks into his hospital vacation. Thankfully, he is on the mend, but there is still a ways to go.

I want to fill him in a little on what he missed last night.

All right, to be honest, they arrived just after dinner, and I headed to the YMCA for a little work and a dip in the hot tub. I actually did a few miles on the bike and a mile on the track, listening to Bruce on the I-pod, so I was in a pretty decent frame of mind when I returned.

As soon as I walked in the door, Kathy made a plea.

"Watch them for a few minutes, I need a break."

It was a plea that hearkened back to the days when our kids were young and it sort of made my skin crawl as Dylan was on the floor between three singing Christmas decorations - a Santa that was belting out Jingle Bells, a tree that was doing the old Bing Crosby song, and a couple of snowmen that were butchering another joy-filled tune. When one stopped singing, he started the song over. Songs were beginning and ending in a sort of rap miss-mash of happy Christmas bullshit.

And Dylan was dancing and singing too.

Layla was crying. I can hardly look at her anyway without breaking into the rock and roll version of the Clapton song, so needless to say there was a lot of music rumbling through my brain.

And there was the overwhelming thought: MAKE IT STOP!!!!!

Layla was smiling at first...then she was crying at me...JINGLE BELLS, JINGLE BELLS!

There was a ripe smell coming from somewhere. My children had long since left the scene.

Where the hell did Kathy go?

"This is a good song," Dylan screamed as he re-started one of them.

Layla cries. Somewhere in the distance a dog barks. My pounding head is bowed as I realize that I am completely unprepared for this onslaught of noise and aggravation.

Yet I am not truly aggravated. It will all end soon.

And remember how nice it was to lay eyes on my wife at the Christmas party last week? Well, it was nothing like the swell of emotions I felt as she headed down the stairs to relieve me of my duties.

"Enjoying the music?" she asked. "Aww, Layla's crying."

"For the love of God you have to make it stop," I said.

"Jingle Bells!" Dylan yelled. He started the song over again.

Thank God my kids are now big lumps of laziness who shuffle to their rooms in dead silence after wolfing down my food.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Counting it Down

We have a calendar on our fridge where we write in our appointments on a monthly basis with a black marker, and a wet-erase board. Kathy is in charge of putting the month in order because her handwriting is so much better than the rest of us.

I distinctly recall the nuns beating the holy hell out of me because my penmanship sucked. And now everyone uses the computer. When was the last time you made a perfect cursive 'S'?

The nuns taught it for the simple reason that they could bash us over the head with something when we went outside the lines on the paper.

Anyway, Sam has recently been changing the days on the calendar to coincide with how many days there are left until all that shopping money officially goes out the window.

The only problem being that each night as Sam reduces the day count by one, he does it by wetting a rag, erasing the number, and then putting in the new number. The wet rag causes holy hell with the rest of the board, leaving smudges and words that are half-formed. Those nuns would have a shit-fit as we call it.

And it is also enough to drive a mentally-challenged, obsessive-compulsive, parental figure crazy. (Perhaps we are on to something...maybe the nuns made me crazy).

Why do things have to be so neat and orderly when the rest of the world is chaotic and willy-nilly?

Someone solve this for me.

Anyway...the other day....with Sam at my side, I looked at the smudges and the black streak of marker down the center...and you know what I did?

I laughed!

Perhaps we are on the verge of a breakthrough!

I laughed because he is so fired up about Christmas arriving, and truth be told, I am too.

He's excited. I'm excited.

10 more days.

Now off to practice my 'S's'.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lee to Phillies?????

The idiot left 35 million on the table. The moron didn't want to pitch for the Yankees. The halfwit chose Philly over New York. The loser is now banned from my fantasy baseball teams.

Take that!

Lets analyze.

The 27-time World Champion Yankees have cut payroll so far this year. The rest of baseball is spending money like its play money.

Wha! We want a salary cap.

Good riddance to Lee. He won 12 games last year. One more than AJ Burnett. He played the free agent game as though he were the King of all pitchers. 7 years would have been too costly.

The Yankees build from within!

Laugh all you want.

Yanks from 96 to 2000 won with talent they brought up. Jeter, Posada, Rivera, Pettite, Bernie...they were all homegrown.

The '09 team was farm system too. Jeter, Posada, Rivera, Pettie, Cano, Hughes, Joba...all lifers.

Cashman took the news of wimpy Lee's signing by saying, "Ah well, we better cancel the 2011 season."

Won't happen. The Yanks don't quit.

Yankee fans don't give an inch. Lee isn't on the Yankees this morning because we didn't want him and he's not good enough.

That's the official Yankee fan stance on it.

When the Yanks were eliminated this year a buddy of mine called Sam to rub it in.

"Why am I talking baseball with a Mets fan?" Sam responded.

Exact perfect answer.

Later pansy.

I hope your wife gets pelted with cheesesteaks.

Monday, December 13, 2010

I Froze My Nuts Off

The temperature was under ten degrees today. I walked across a wide open field to meet up with some guys who were erecting steel as the wind whipped across the terrain. My forehead, which is quite expansive, was aching with pain before I made it to the site foreman.

"What's up?" I asked.

He was looking around on the ground. "Don't move," he said. "I froze one of my nuts off."

We laughed, of course, but to be honest with you, as I spoke with him, I was actually searching the ground as if I might find that nut rolling around somewhere.

There was a guy standing beside him who exclaimed that he loved the cold temperatures. "The colder the better!" he yelled.

Could that be true?

Are there really people out there, who if given the choice would take 9 degrees with a wind chill that takes it below zero, to people who would rather have it 80 degrees with a light breeze blowing in to cool you off?

I doubt it. I think the guy who was yelling about how happy he was is full of crap. He was simply trying to show me and my poor buddy with the missing testicle that he was tougher than us.

I gave the guy a dismissive wave as I put my gloved hand to my ice cold forehead and two steps into the return trip to my car I heard a rather disconcerting crunch below my right foot.

Could it be?

I looked down to see a discarded pair of safety glasses that I had crunched with my step.

Thank God it wasn't that poor guys nut.

That would've made for a real long evening...for both of us.

Cry, Cry, Cry!

Did you see the interview with the new speaker of the house on 6o Minutes last night?

I only caught a couple of minutes of it, but man, he was crying like a baby. Every time the interviewer asked him a question, he cried. The interviewer told him that his wife was proud of him, and he blubbered.

He cried so hard, so many times, that I took to laughing at him.

Lord knows that there are certainly legitimate reasons to cry, and some people cry all the time. It snows, they cry. It rains, big's sunny, why not blubber?

But there is nothing more awkward than seeing someone cry when you don't think they should be crying.

'Your wife is very proud of you,' wasn't reason enough for me. He cried. I laughed.

Still, human emotions on display and me acting like a dope doesn't shine much of a light on me, does it?

I joined Kathy in the living room last week as she was watching the end of a television show about someone who was suffering a high-end drama. Kathy was crying.

"What is the matter with you?" I asked.

"It's sad," she said. "She's dying."

"They're actors in a play," I reminded. "She will be on a cell phone ad next week."

"Get out of here."

And the poor boys. I went to the Frank Barone school of manners when it comes to their crying. You remember Frank from Everybody Loves Raymond, right?

"What's the matter, Nancy?" I'll ask.

"Leave 'em alone!" Kathy says.

And I don't know why it is. Certainly I have cried many times over the last couple of years and I'm not ashamed. But man Dad wasn't big on seeing his sons cry and therefore, I am struck by laughing fits when I see crying that isn't warranted.

All right, off to work in the blustery cold. Just had to mention it.

I wish him luck. Can't see him making it through a full session.

Every time the guy cried. I guffawed.

And so close to Christmas.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Rain & Sleet & High Winds & Freezing Snow

I started hearing about the coming storm in the middle of the week. I know there are lunatics out there who actually bask in the warm feeling of a coming storm, but I'm not one of them. I've seen way too many freaking storms in the last two years and you can jam them in your ass.

Last night my beautiful wife and I attended the Thomas Johnson Christmas party. Great food, good friends, a lot of making fun of one another, and a couple of drinks to boot. The party always symbolizes the start of the Christmas season for me because it is usually the only work-related party that I attend and was once invited by Paul Johnson over the phone.

"Are you coming to the party?" Paul asked.
"Definitely," I said.
"Is the reason why you're invited coming too?" Paul asked.

And halfway through the party there was the reason I was invited chatting up Paul's wife as Paul and I stood side-by-side.

"The wives are talking," I said. "I just saw your wife hold her fingers apart by about an inch and a half as she explained something to my wife," I said.

We laughed.

"Who cares?" Paul said.

And when I looked across the room again, I thought to myself, "Damn, my wife is good-looking."

(That line right there is part of her Christmas present. I don't shop much).

Anyway, it wasn't storming as we headed home. It isn't storming yet today.

Tomorrow the storm may come and be followed by more storms.

My wife will most likely slop around the house in sweatpants, the kids will run rough-shod over me as we try to watch football, the dogs will refuse to go outside, and I will wait on the storm, but will most likely concentrate on that brief moment when I glanced at my wife across the room.

That's how you get through the storms, you know?

You concentrate on the bright things that make you want to pick yourself up and out of the bed.

(Aside to Paul) I'm not a freaking bleeding-heart, crying liberal as you called me - as I told you...the Bush and Palin families simply make my skin crawl. I don't even fully understand the rest of it!

But I got you back with the inch and a half joke, huh?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Highway's Jammed With Broken Heroes...

...On a last chance power drive.

Spent a long time thinking about John Lennon this week. It's been thirty years since he was gunned down after signing an autograph for a loser-son-of-a-bitch-that-robbed-the-world-of-fifty-years-of-great-music.

I remember writing a term paper about him when I was in college. The theme of my paper was the strengths of Lennon as a great writer. I got an A. He was terrific.

And I thought of Bruce and how much he's meant to me. And tonight I sort of got caught in a line of traffic and thought of the same thing I always think of...the highway's jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive....

And I passed by the guy to the left and the guy to the right and I saw the lost look on the faces of the tired drivers and the broken heroes line buzzed through my head like a bumblebee.

And John Lennon's Imagine and Lennon's Watching the Wheels, my two favorite Lennon efforts, and I know them all, went ricocheting around my brain.

And what a tragedy that is, right?

Lennon would have been 70 this year. He died at 40. Think of that. One of the Beatles died at freaking 40!

I am the Walrus played on my I-Pod, followed by a Day in the Life (which would be a hit if released tomorrow)and what a freaking shame.

What a freaking shame.

Way too young! At no apparent reason. Way before he was done giving to the world.

And why?

Who the hell knows why.

Who the hell knows why? I know of someone even better then Lennon who's life was cut short...

...So, I was stuck in traffic this evening. I was too tired. I stepped into the house and my wife smiled.

"Why are you late?" she asked.

Could I say that it was because John Lennon died?

That probably wouldn't work.

I got depressed listening to music?

That wouldn't work, either.

"The highway was jammed with broken heroes," I said.

"On a last chance power drive?" Kathy asked.

You gotta' love my wife, huh?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Just Taking Care of the Family

I love this time of year for the Baseball Winter Meetings as it is the time when the 27-time World Champion Yankees usually stock up for another run at the ring. The problem being that they really haven't done a single thing yet!

Because Boston is trying to buy a World Series!

Of course, that is a ridiculous notion...there is so much money being split up that every team has a chance if they are willing to spend, spend, spend.

Do you know that each club receives a $100 million dollar share every year? The team that saves that money and cries about not being able to compete is the real loser in the derby....

Anyhow...this is a post about being able to take care of the family.

Cliff Lee is the free agent that the Yankees are trying to sign. They offered him a 7-year deal worth about $150 million. He hasn't said yes, yet, because Texas is also trying to get him with a similar deal.

This morning I read that he is having a gut-wrenching time of it because he is worried about his family and what might be best for them.

Kathy would allow me to ply my trade on the sun for that sort of money. As I prepared to leave in the spring she would be loading the car, saying, 'Don't forget the sun block!'

I doubt very much that there would be much in the way of discussion of whether or not the school systems were better in New York or on the sun.

She wouldn't care if I had to live in a box, an ice block, or a high-rise apartment.

"Just get the hell out of here. Play your little game. Good luck. Maybe we'll visit."

The false crap about what is better for Cliff Lee's kids - 150 mil in New York or clawing by with 140 mil in Texas...always makes me laugh.

From the time my boys were born it was always in the back of my mind that I should teach them to throw 95 miles per hour with their left hand.

Having met them, I can honestly say, although I love them to death, that there is most likely not a millionaire in the bunch.

I am off to teach a class today...ten hours...50 people...corny jokes...lots of preparation. Then I will get in the car and drive home 3 hours, slop a little pasta while they tell me of their day, and try to rest a little in the snowiest damn city in the country. 72 hours later, I will pull my tired knee out of bed and get back to work, climbing ladders, writing reports, freezing my ass off.

All for a lot less money than will soon be in the ashtray of the Lee family car.

When does that plane leave for the job on the sun?

I can hear Kathy now.

"Get your ass out of here! Take care of your family!"

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The First Dose of Reality

Every kid has felt that undeniable longing for Christmas to just hurry up and get here. The night before Christmas, as a kid was absolutely ridiculous as sleep seemed like the dumbest of all ideas.

Yet eventually, sleep arrived as did the outlay of presents...Santa was brilliant, right?

I was a little slow on the upkeep when it came to Santa. Probably about the same age as Sam is now - ten - when the news was finally broken to me. I remember it like it was yesterday morning.

My brother John had started the ball rolling - on Christmas morning - that would've been about 1974.

John: Mom and Dad buy the presents. Santa is freaking bullshit.

Me: That's a lie! You're going to be in trouble with Santa just for saying that!

John: There isn't a Santa, dipshit. Think about it. How the hell would he hit every house in the world?

Me: Where do Mom and Dad get the money for all the presents?

Dad enters the room

John: Can we tell him there's no Santa.

Dad: Sounds like you did.

Me: Okay, so let me get this straight. Santa doesn't bring presents to every kid in the world. You guys help him out with that, but he still lives at the North Pole, right? He still has elves, right?

Dad and John laughing their asses off: Uh, no, dipshit.

So that was how I learned of it. I walked around in a fog all that morning. It was all a joke. Everything I'd learned up to that point was fabricated. There was a grand conspiracy to lie to me and that rat bastard, John had been in on it.

And I still feel a little that way now. The shine is gone for us this year as Sam has been brought up to speed on the whole deal and now, they all realize that we've been pulling the strings on the little play for the entire time.

And reality continues to hammer home the points of life that are most important and allow us to understand that the strings are being pulled in directions that don't line up with our grasp or understanding of what should be taking place.

No Santa?

What was next? Babe Ruth didn't really call his shot? OJ Simpson was really a murderer? Rock Hudson was gay? Mickey Mantle drank too much? God had a plan for our family that didn't line up with our wants, wishes, desires, and needs?


I haven't seen life clearly since.

But at least the illusions I built around me did a decent job of sustaining me through some of the freaking bullshit.

I'm still a dipshit.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Let's Grow!

Seventeen days until Christmas...the day we celebrate in honor of the Lord and Savior and I get the following e-mail in my junk mail:

"Let's grow your small d#$% with a true penis enlargement!!!!"


First off, how can you possibly know?

Secondly, am I supposed to respond to such an email?

How would I do that?

The email was sent from a woman named Tilly. Did I ever meet a Tilly? Jennifer Tilly comes to mind, but I don't believe I ever met the actress. I am quite certain she has no idea of whether or not I am in need of her product.

Still, I am curious? How does it work?

Is it a stretch and pull kind of thing?

Do you grow it like you grow any other part of your body? Carb up, perhaps? Isn't it a tad personal?

I decided to draft a letter:

Dear Tilly,

Thank you for the concern you recently showed in regard to the length and girth of my sad little body part. I, of course, defer to any number of excuses in this regard.

1). My mother did not take care of herself when I was in the womb.
2). What is average after all? I have a saying, 'it's small, but it's cute.'
3). It's not the size of the pencil.
4). His name is Eugene...I call him huge for short. (Thanks Rosie, that's your joke).

But Miss Tilly, I wonder how you propose on doing this to help me in time for the Christmas rush. Will it take much time? Do you actually have to see it? Why the hell are you concerned?


Not certain I will mail the letter, but the curiosity seems to get the better of me at times. How does the office respond when someone actually responds to such an e-mail? Are there jokes told? Does a team of people get together to solve the little problem?

What a world we live in.

I deleted the email, of course.

It's Christmas time, people!

And that honestly wasn't on my list.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Stand By Your Man

Just got done reading two accounts of two is Elizabeth Edwards as news has broke that she is gravelly ill and that she will no longer receive treatment for cancer.

Let's recap her years in the limelight. She lost a son in a car accident. Her husband had two runs at president, but turned out to be a liar, a cheater, and a louse who had another child with another woman all the way claiming he was dedicated.

She has publicly fought cancer, and argued for health care reform, while losing the battle that will claim her in weeks or at best two months.

The other woman is Jamie McCourt the estranged wife of Dodgers owner Frank McCourt. These two gems have been in court for over a year as the squabble over the millions of dollars that they can't seem to be able to split up. Now it seems as if they are going to co-own the team.

They were married for 30 years. The public squabble over their divorce has allowed all of the marital secrets to come out, and the fight for money will continue for years and years.

I have always proposed that there should be an out-clause in a marriage agreement. You know how AJ Burnett had an option written into his contract with the Blue Jays? They should do that in marriage as well. Five year deals. The end in sight. The you keep your shit, I'll keep mine, always in line.

The two women that I read about today seem to be 180 degrees different from one another.

Edwards, who has every right to be pissed, is acting like a lady filled with class, and free of regret and McCourt wants to bury her husband under her shoe and doesn't care how long it takes.

They've already spent 20 million on legal fees!

I don't know. I see it all happening from a seat that seems soft and secure. After reading about Edwards, and hearing horror stories from a friend of a friend, I asked Kathy if she had any secrets she wanted to divulge.

"Yeah, I'm running a business on the side in the time it takes me to bring the kids to basketball practice. We are mere weeks away from throwing you out on your ass."

There's just so much to trust in a given situation, and it never feels right to comment to someone about their own relationships...

...hell, I thought OJ and Nicole made a cute couple...

But when the crap hits the fan, shouldn't there be a civil way to break it up and move on without crushing the person that you were supposed to be in love with?

Elizabeth Edwards seems to get it. The McCourts don't have a clue. I hope the lawyers get every last cent and the Dodgers fold and move back to Brooklyn.

Monday, December 6, 2010

100 Years From Now

On Saturday evening the Fazzolari family met for a Catholic Mass in honor of Jeff in the small town where we all grew up. 'The Fuzzys' as we are known in that town got together, to celebrate Jeff's name, and although Carrie couldn't be bothered to make the 8-hour trip, she was beside us in the pew.

(Just kidding Carrie - that right there is funny, I don't care who you are).

We have unfortunately gathered in that church a lot recently, but this time, on a Saturday evening, there was a little more bounce in our step. We were kidding each other, smiling a lot more, and were genuinely pleased to be in one another's company. That is how it has always worked. We can make one another laugh.

We can also dominate a room, so in a church filled with people, I am sure that everyone knew the Fuzzys were there.

During the sermon, I scanned the faces of the townspeople who I've come to know so well. Mr and Mrs. Renaldo over there, Paris Bottoni sitting behind us, Foxy George busting my chops as he brought the collection basket to my side. Terrie Prime smiling at us during the sign of peace.

And for one reason or another, it got to me. The faces will change. In a 100 years from now, there isn't one of us that will still be kicking around.

I sure as hell better not be at 146!

And it also occurred to me that we are here for such a short period of time, really. We have a finite amount of time to make a mark, leave a legacy, and enjoy ourselves.

Why the photo of the Unabomber's cabin?

Because in thinking about our mortality, and seeing that the cabin is now for sale, I thought of the million and one ways that we can isolate ourselves, lose our minds and spiral out of control.

The group of Fuzzys gathered on Saturday night - truth be told - is doing their damnedest just to hang on through the storm. We aren't the only ones in such a position. People suffer tragedies every day. Ours are more pronounced because they are ours. Not any more or less important than everyone else's.

Yet there certainly felt like there was an appreciation of sorts going on as we helped Corinne celebrate her birthday weekend. A few of us went out to eat and Corinne and my boys brought the laughter.

And they brought it some more as they turned up the car radio and literally danced in the parking lot. Corinne kicking her legs as though she were Elaine dancing in the Seinfeld show, and my kids laughing all the way home at their crazy, wonderful aunt.

Making the mark.

Not giving into the isolation that can curb the enthusiasm for being alive.

I won't be buying the Unabombers cabin.

There's still too much to do. Because 100 years from now, people might still hear a few stories about the Fuzzys.

And that's how we want it to go.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The New English


The above is the tweet message that Steve Johnson of the Bills sent to God after God made Johnson drop that pass last week. Not to get into the theological aspects of it again, I would like to break down the sentence structure and grammar.

You see, I just came off a week where an editor busted my balls for serial commas and en dashes as opposed to em dashes. Yet getting a text or reading Face Book for ten minutes will give you a real headache as you try and decipher the primitive language.

I need to take a course.

For the early days whenever someone sent me a message that said LOL or LMFAO...I had to go to the kids to ask what it meant.

Then there are these messages. "I wntd 2 ask u 4 a favor."

I texted back: "Is this Prince?"

The above by Johnson wasn't so bad. He used full words, but someone needs to take his exclamation point key away. And why all capital letters? Is he yelling at God? And my favorite sentence of all is:


God has to be sitting on the throne asking St. Peter..."What the hell is this guy trying to say?"

Seriously though, it is the continued dumbing down of America.

There I said it.

Look on the various sites. Who the hell knows the difference between to, too and two? Can anyone actually tell you when to use there, their or they're?

It drives me crazy. Every time I get a text with someone and there's a grammatical error, I let them know about it.

Text to me: I whn 2 c u but you werent their

Text from me: Hey R2D2 I don't know what the hell that means and the 'their' in your sentence should be 'there'.

Fortunately for me my main text buddies, Pops and Gag, are conversant in the English language and we send the most readable texts in the world back and forth to one another.

Do you know anyone else who uses periods and commas?

I do. Perhaps I screw up the serial comma every now and again, but I refuse to buy into the fact that I am too busy to write out the word 'two.'

(Look at that I used all three 2's in that sentence...correctly).

Perhaps I should ask God for some guidance. I am preparing a text for him.

"Deer Big 1!!! I lisn 2 U but U dnt here me!!! Y U do me like tht???? Dnt U lke me up their???? Mybe I wnt give u tks know more!!!!!!

I can hear God now:

"Don't answer that dumb bastard."

PS: Hopefully everything is grammatically correct in this post. There are times when I catch my own mistakes a day or so after posting something and it bothers the hell out of me.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Official Press Release for Oh Brother! The Life & Times of Jeff Fazzolari



Here is one story where it is impossible to separate the author from the subject matter. Clifford J. Fazzolari, as an author of nine books previous, has written this memoir about his very best friend and brother, Jeffrey Frank Fazzolari, and has said time and time again, “He is the greatest character I will ever write about.”

The family has come to refer to Jeffrey as a “walking celebration” despite the fact that he suffered from constant back pain and walked with a noticeable limp.
When Cliff asked me to think about writing the Foreword for this book, I did not hesitate and responded “Absolutely.”

The original title of the story was Life, Laughter and Love after all, and as the youngest sister in the Fazzolari family, I am one of the eight members of this family who has been profoundly blessed with all three of these things.

On January 27, 2009, Bruce Springsteen released his latest cd, Working on a Dream, and because we share a great love of any and all Springsteen, all the brothers and I woke that day like it was Christmas. “This is going to be a good day, Bruce is out!”

I believe that Jeff had talked with Cliff early that morning about some of the songs that he had heard and during a break from work, he was going to sit in his car and listen to the rest of it. Shortly thereafter, he had a hemorrhagic stroke and was hospitalized for nearly six weeks until his untimely death on March 4, 2009.

Was it because of his back problems that he had the stroke? Was it fate? Some cosmic mix-up? At some point in the book Cliff asks the difficult question of Why? Why did Jeff have a stroke? Why did our best friend die? Why, when he was at the peak of his young life?

Take a moment to look at the collage of pictures included in this book. Breathe in all the details and look at the laughter in the eyes of those surrounding Jeffrey. Finally, allow yourself to recognize him as a father, a son, a brother, a friend and a husband.

Fortunately, these pictures are only a small portion of his life. I am sure that his oldest sister, Corinne, has a picture in her mind’s eye of Jeffrey as he sat across from her, flicking bingo chips at her as they gambled endlessly. And anyone who has tasted his gravy or his stuffed hot peppers has a picture of him in their mind’s eye as they remember the taste on their tongue.

I am quite positive that his laughter rings in the ears of those who had been a receiver of one of his innocent pranks – like walking into your house and finding that the drawers in your kitchen have been moved – the forks and spoons in the drawer where the plastic wrap should be; or after a weekend visit with him and his family, finding a dirty diaper in your shower, your closet, and on top of your refrigerator.

Upon reading this book, I am certain that you will conclude that it was no coincidence that he was a chef. After all, his main ingredient in all of his recipes was love. It was love, written by his own hand.

In the throes of sorrow, it is difficult to grasp the concept that the way Jeffrey lived his life will forever resonate with those who knew him, personally or after reading this book. And perhaps, his death is a reminder to everyone that how he lived his life is how we should all live our lives. Perhaps Cliff’s question of why is answered in this way. Perhaps he had to die so that one, even one of the readers of this book, could begin to live, laugh and love.

At the age of 38 years, at the top of his career as an executive chef at a school where he was a hero, mentor and friend, in the tenth year of his marriage, as a best friend to his siblings, a helpful hand to his parents every weekend, a fantastic generator of family functions, with three children under the age of eight years old, and as a constant source of laughter, one would expect that not only would Jeff have been able to hear every song on the Working on a Dream cd, he would have been able to philosophize on one of the greatest choruses of the cd: “Life itself, rushing over me. Life itself, the wind in the black elms. Life itself, in your heart and in your eyes. I can’t make it without you.”

As it goes, the rest of the family was left with the daunting task of hearing these words play in their minds over and over because losing a sibling or a son or a husband or a father or a friend like Jeff is kind of like suffering an amputation, and now it seems, we’re all walking with a noticeable limp. Yet, like Jeff did every day of his life, we’ll walk on; walk on and into life itself, with our hearts and minds open to treasure the laughter and love that this life provides.

Enjoy the journey.

Carrie Lynn Fazzolari




Friday, December 3, 2010

All the Way Down the Hallway

I'm in a real bind here. First off, I absolutely hate going to the doctors. I simply figure that things will correct themselves through time. Since I treat my body like a temple, I expect that eventually it will run adequately.

I've been having pain in my right knee since July. I originally hurt the Achilles and had to wear a boot. The Achilles healed, but the pain on the side of my knee wouldn't go away. I lost weight. I rode the exercise bike. I even ran a little and went to the hot tub. The pain hasn't changed at all.

Went to the doctor...he prescribed a pill and told me to see the surgeon. Today, I went to the surgeon.

My brother John had work done on both of his knees. He predicted what would happen today.

"They'll collect your co-pay, give you an X-ray that won't show anything, put you on anti-inflammatory that won't work...and string you along for a few months until they can get the insurance to go for an MRI. Then they'll operate and fix it about six months from now."

So...just as predicted I'm waiting in a very narrow hallway after the X-ray, my co-pay already in the pocket of the girl at the front desk, and the doc never touched my knee. He just asked me to explain the pain on a scale of 1 to 10....which is the dumbest thing I ever heard.

How the hell do I know what a 6 or 7 feels like?

There I sat in the chair as a man about ten years older than me led his elderly mother, walker and all down the hall. There was a strange cap-gun noise coming from the woman, but I couldn't figure out what it was...until she got right in front of me.

She was farting. And I'm not talking about a fart that slips out and causes a uncomfortable, awkward moment...this was a long, drawn-out, constant blistering of rancid farts that caused me to turn to the back wall.

"That's okay, Mom," the guy said. "You're doing real good."

"I'm so sorry," the woman said to me.

Not as sorry as me. I thought of the moment in the movie Step Brothers where the guy farts during a job interview and the interviewer (Seth Rogan) says, "I can taste it."

I can still taste it...three hours later...with my anti-inflammatory in hand, my wallet twenty bucks lighter and my knee still aching.

I may never visit a doctor again.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Relief

The man convicted of the murders in the home invasion in Connecticut has been sentenced to death. He is quoted as saying his death will be a relief.

I know where he's coming from.

Look at that friggen' snow.

Actually, it wasn't so bad. We all took turns working on shoveling and as you can see, Sam enjoyed it. Matt and Jake and Kathy and yes, even I worked at clearing the cars off and cleaning the end of the driveway.

"Bad news," Sam said after he and Matt finished a turn. "The plow just came by."

Yeah, the bastards! They push it all back in front of the cleaned out space.

So, I used my sore knee as a way to shorten my turn, but I cleared a bit...and lo and behold...when I got in the house (no hot chocolate ready, by the way) it was my left shoulder that ached horribly.

"At least it took your mind off your knee," Kathy mentioned.

A relief, I tell you.

A relief!

PS - isn't the shot of the moon just beautiful in that photo?

Snowed the Hell Out!

Sam was absolutely giddy last night. He kept looking out the window, talking about a five-day weekend. Not sure how he arrived at five days off of school, but he most certainly wouldn't be going on Thursday, and that was enough to make him act a little strange.

"Is he drunk?" Kathy asked at one point.

And they all headed outside to shovel. I'm not kidding! The 3 boys we need to check for their pulses from time-to-time thought it might be fun to shovel.

I looked out the window and Sam tossed a snowball at the glass. He then threw a half dozen snowballs at Jake and Matt as they shoveled. Kathy was thrilled to have to make them cups of hot chocolate for all the hard work they were doing.

Isn't that a kick in the head? They get hot chocolate...I bust my ass in it every day and not a mention...

(just kidding, I'm doing fine).

But I wasn't too excited about it. The winter weather advisory says there will be about 14 inches over the next twelve hours or so. This morning everything is closed -from the roads to the schools to every business.

The boys will sleep, play COD which stands for some sort of war game, and eat me out of house and home. I'm pretty sure that the novelty of shoveling the snow has worn thin and we may all adapt my philosophy on it...just wait until it melts.


Why do people say it snows too much here?

Why are we defensive about how shitty it is from December through May?

Can't even see the house across the street right now...

...God's little time-out I suppose.

Enjoy it boys!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Too Damn Much Information

So this is a pretty strange story, huh? Speaks to the "intelligence" again.

How does classified information become available because some guy with a blank CD knows a couple of passwords and decides that he wants to fill up the disc and make it available to everyone else?

Aren't there things that the American public doesn't need to know? Would you want to know all of the background information on all of the bad guys who are trying to kill us because we are free and happy and able to move throughout the country with reckless abandon?

I don't know, but this stuff scares the hell out of me. The freedom that Americans enjoy shouldn't be jeopardized by a 21-year-old kid. Perhaps we are becoming too dependant upon technology and are too tied into one another.

At work today we were discussing the old days of construction when deals were made on a handshake and a call home to say that we had to work late didn't result in a tweet, a Facebook message, and four straight calls to the cellphone. There isn't any way to get lost at the bar these days.

More importantly, people are passing information through handheld devices and snap-decisions are being made as we walk down the street.

This was a funky week for me as I had to make changes for the book before it went to the printer. I approved the final changes on the Droid after reading through the corrected text.

Are you kidding me? I wrote my first book on a typewriter and sent the initial manuscript to the publisher with white-out all over my arms.

And the industry has changed so much since that first effort. Now there are deals made, services offered, contracts signed...all on the run.

People post gripes and complaints on the Internet and it is impossible to clean-up your reputation because once something is posted it is there forever, and it may not even be a legitimate bitch. I say this because my publisher has run into some trouble in this regard, but when a true professional relationship is formed, the good press isn't reported.

I will report it here. Sterlinghouse did an excellent job of the production of my book...and I thank them for their professionalism.

Which brings me back to the leaks and the information-sharing and dumping.

What the hell is true or not true? Do we need to know that the leader of Iran has a mistress with long, dark hair? Is any of it a threat to our national security?

To be sure, the person responsible must be punished to the full extent of the law, but be honest...does the story really matter much to you?

We already have way too damn much information as it is.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Leave Willie Nelson Alone

Now I know that the laws are written for all of us and that many lives have been ruined by drug abuse, but can't we leave Willie Nelson alone?

The man is 77 years old. He wears a handkerchief and sings songs while strumming a guitar and making no excuses for his love of smoking pot.

He's also a very funny dude who is always great in interviews, took a beating for not paying his taxes, and built a golf course on his own property.

I will never forget the interview in which he stated that he played golf under his own terms.

The 60 Minutes reporter asked him what he meant as they walked the course.

"It's my course so I set the par on each hole," he said. "For instance, I set par on this hole at 8 even though regulation courses might put it at a par 4, and let me tell you, yesterday I birdied that sucker."

Willie isn't hurting anyone. He was busted coming back from a concert with 6 ounces of pot on the tour bus. I doubt he was selling it. It was for his own consumption.

Now I'm not advocating legalizing drugs. I don't know where I fall in on that. Making drugs more available might be the ruination of us all, but I do know (from personal experience) that people like to sometimes step out of the frame of mind their in. My drug of choice is alcohol. It relaxes me sometimes. Willie's is dope.

Making everything illegal would be pointless.People would spin in a circle on their front lawn to get dizzy if that was all that was available to them.

I don't know. He's 77 years old. Are they going to toss him in the can for carrying his own personal lawn spin around with him?

"I birdied that sucker."

He had to be high.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Surely, You Can't Be Serious...

...I am serious, and stop calling me Shirley.

Leslie Nielson is dead at 84. Think of him without smiling. The Airplane movies, the Naked Gun series.Frank Drebin with Nordberg.Whatever happened to the guy who played Nordberg?

Oh yeah, he murdered a couple of people.

Anyway, I always enjoyed Leslie Nielson's comedy. Funny man. Silly movies. The definition of entertainment.

And speaking of entertainment, The Bills have been fun to watch over the last six weeks, haven't they? Three overtime losses, a couple of wins...a far cry from the start of the year. They are actually entertainers.

Yet yesterday one of the receivers dropped a ball that I might have been able to catch. The throw hit Steve Johnson in the hands, went off his chest, and landed in the end zone. They would have won the game. The city would've gone crazy this morning as they would have earned a win over the mighty Steelers.

There was no good reason why the ball shouldn't have been caught. Seriously, throw it up like that, leave me that wide open, get me to the spot, and I could have caught it, oh 3 out of 10 times.

He dropped it. So what? No one to blame,right? Try again next week.

But you know who Johnson blamed in a tweet after the game?


He blamed God! Asking God why He did that to him when he (Johnson) praises God 24/7!

Are you kidding me?

Not sure if God was watching yesterday, or if he is a Bills fan, but you have to stay away from Twitter if you aren't aware enough to not blame a dropped ball on the force you believe created the entire universe.

How does that conversation in heaven go?

St. Peter: Yo, God, the Bills are going to win. Our prize pupil Stevie Johnson is about ready to catch the winning touchdown pass.

God: Actually, you know what would be funny? Watch this!

God and St.Peter check out the monitor. The ball lands in the end zone as the fans groan.

God: I can't wait to get his Tweet tonight!

St. Peter: Surely you are a vengeful God.

God: I'm not vengeful...and stop calling me Shirley.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sitting Still

I usually set up a long list of things that I want to get accomplished on any given day. Yesterday my list consisted of one thing: sit quietly.

I purposely cleared my head and decided to take a full day off. No book work. No Jeter contract. No laundry. No cooking. Nothing. It was a day off that I didn't announce to anyone. I just took it.

And nothing happened.

I watched reruns of Raymond, King of Queens and Two and a Half Men. I watched three or four crime dramas and then capped it off with a violent movie with Edward Norton in it. We ate KFC and the boys played games all day.

"Let the dogs out," was my big command of the day.

Why is it so important?

I believe that the biggest problem I have is that I can't sit still and just relax. So I forced myself to do it. I just sat back and took stock of everything.

What did I learn?

Well, for one...Edward Norton is one of my favorite actors. His movies are always good and I usually admire the characters he plays.

Two...people are basically animals who trick their brains into believing they are not.

The true crime dramas and a story about a missing Syracuse woman has convinced me of that. In the 48 Hours type of specials we always hear from the person convicted of the murder. They usually explain that they didn't mean to do it, or were wrongly accused. They talk of the precious life ended as if they were taking out the garbage.

Then the whole day was punctuated with the murder of the young girl from Clay, New York. Supposedly her boyfriend killed her because she'd broke up with him. He threw her body in a shack at a park.

Really? Don't you wish he would've taken that day off just to take stock in things?

Animals. We are really just animals.

There are usually a hundred murders a year in Buffalo. About 15,000 in the USA. Every year. Can you even really imagine ending someones life. Unfathomable.

But it won't end, and it will allow me the chance to pause and reflect because 48 Hours and the such will still package up the murder and sell it as entertainment.

And I'll watch.

To relax.

Like an animal.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Freaking Snow & Obama Gets Blasted

So Mr. President took 12 stitches when elbowed during a pickup basketball game. The shocking part of the story for me is that it was the fifth of five full-court games. Isn't he older than me? If I tried to participate in such a tourney I'd be leaving the court on a stretcher.

Good for him, I suppose, but the economy blows, North Korea is blasting missiles, Afghanistan is still hot, Iraq is still going, and Sarah Palin is out stumping. How do you wrap your mind around a good, clean box-out when all that crap is going on?

The snow on the ground didn't exactly comfort me this morning either. It's been nine months since it last snowed here in Buffalo, but I certainly dread the cold because I don't know when it will be nice again. There is the potential that the crap weather could stretch until May.

I know a lot of people who get excited by the first snowfall too. Really? There are the winter wonderland songs that make it seem so charming, but in your life have you slid off the road more times than you've made a snowman?

I have.

Have you shivered from the cold, or shook the frostbite out of your hands more times than you've stood out in the yard trying to catch a snowflake on your tongue?

I have.

Have you tried to scrape the ice off your windshield, or cleaned the windshield of your car with your coat sleeve more times than you've drank warm cider while singing songs about the beauty of the snow.

I have.

As I get older it seems to me that snow blows and people who claim to love, love, love it, are just plain lying.

I'd rather get busted in the mouth by a stray elbow.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Little Rest

I certainly go through lack of sleeping jags that drive me crazy. Up at 4:45 on Thanksgiving Day when I could have gone to 9 or 10 but would have settled for six.

Oh well, I was determined to enjoy the day anyway and I had a few wonderful moments, like when I was able to snap the above photo, on my mother's birthday, after sharing a tremendous meal that my brother Jim, the man with the heart the size of the Grinch's prepared with little help at all.

I had stopped out early, way early, to give him a hand, but instead, we toasted Dad and Jeff, and shared a few laughs over 2 drinks. (Just 2, I swear) as we waited for the rest of the guests to arrive.

And the grim reality of it all is that there are less guests showing up now. The heartbreaking realization of that sat over the table and pressed down on our heads, but we ate, watched football, and playfully made fun of one another as my wife and mother spoke of the Christmas shopping, and the days ahead.

Spoke of the days ahead.

So that's where we are. Three days of rest and relaxation is what I have planned. They are calling for a snowstorm tonight. Fine with me. I am a widower to the shopping game as Kathy busts her ass to get the best deals, and then will rehash it tonight as though she is talking about a golf game where she got the best score of her life.

"I chipped in from off the green," will be akin to, "I got in line right when the store opened and got the very last _______ before this big bitch of a lady got hers."

And I'll nod my head and smile, and wonder if the load of laundry is ready to be switched to the dryer, and that will be my big challenge for the day.

Perhaps a movie. A few book notes. Nothing too cerebral. Load the dishwasher. Talk sports with the boys. Wrestle the dogs. Glance at photos where the smiles seem a little stilted.

And speak of the days ahead.

The book is at the typesetters. My nephew is on the mend. The snow is going to fly. The Sabres are in last. The Bills are done for the year. Baseball dollars will soon be flying around like bingo chips.

And I'll be here. A big container of my mother's stuffing is calling to me from the fridge. A nap here. A worried sleep tonight.

Perhaps the shopping news will work as my tranquilizer.

Just living.

And trying my best to enjoy the full catastrophe of it all.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Be Thankful

Last Sunday I sat next to my mother in church. For anyone who knows my mother, you are quite aware that she is an unbelievably strong woman who certainly has been tied to the whipping post lately, and still she is trying to wear a brave face.

Yet Sunday the priest made a comment about how excited he was that we were going to finally have the chance to Thank God for all that he's done for us.

"That's a good one," my mother whispered to me.

I laughed, turned to her, and she shrugged at me with tears in her eyes.

Thankful? Are you freaking kidding me?

But, despite it all, there are things out there that we should be thankful for. My thoughts immediately go to my beautiful wife and my wonderful children, of course. Oh, yeah and my brothers and sisters and friends and family members.

Knowing the dark side, I understand that it is important to enjoy the ride. The people in my life have helped me do that over and over again.

I'm thankful that I am still relatively healthy although I may replace a knee tendon on my own, out back after turkey and Jameson's today.

And I can always find enough to eat and drink...that's a good fact, through the years I often found myself grossly over served.

Ah well, part of that ride.

I'm thankful that I'm not a red suck fan, or a Mets fan, or any of those other pretend teams.

I'm thankful that my dogs are healthy and that they never ran into Michael Vick.

(Saw an interview with him a couple days ago...he said if he didn't get caught he'd probably still be killing dogs...'cause he didn't know it was wrong!)


Ah well, again....I'm thankful I'm not him.

And I'm real thankful for my mother and the fact that I still have the opportunity to sit beside her at church and shake our heads at some of the crap thrown at us.

I tell you, between my wife, my mother, and my sisters....I am surrounded by brilliant can you not Thank God for that?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Lazy Day

One of those days when I'm going to let Mellencamp write the blog. Honestly, last night was a colossal exercise in noise, ringing telephones, things that needed to be done, and I kept thinking....

....sometimes life is too ridiculous to live and knew that it came from JCM.

Between a Laugh and a Tear

When paradise is no longer fit for you to live in
and all your adolescent dreams are gone
Through the days you feel a little used up
And you don't know where your energy's gone wrong
It's just your soul feeling a little downhearted
Sometimes life is just too ridiculous to live
You count your friends all on one finger
I know its crazy, its just the way that we live.

Between a laugh and a tear
smile in the mirror as you walk by
between a laugh and a tear
and that's as good as it can get for us
and there ain't no reason to stop trying.

When this cardboard town can no longer amuse you
you see through everything and nothing seems worthwhile
and hypocrite used to be such a big word to you
and it don't seem to mean anything to you now
just try to live each and every precious moment
don't be discouraged by the future, forget the past.
it's old advice but it'll be good to you
I know there's a balance I see it when I swing past.

Between a laugh and a tear
smile in the mirror as you walk by
between a laugh and a tear
and that's as good as it can get for us
and there ain't no reason to stop trying.

When paradise can no longer amuse you....

Side note:

That is simply awesome.

Monday, November 22, 2010

$3,500 for Dinner

All right so the whore that was in the room with Charlie Sheen is offended that he didn't treat her with respect, talking down at her, making her feel disrespected, and now she is filing a lawsuit because he has forever damaged her ability to make a living.

Don't get me wrong...Charlie Sheen has really acted like a drug-infested ass for a long time. Someone should let him know that he has kids, a following, and a responsibility to act like a human being, no matter how big a star he is or how great his show seems to be.

And where is CBS through all of this? Sheen has been arrested a bunch of times, has been in and out of rehab, and they don't say a word about it. Could it be because he is the star of their highest-rated show?

I wonder.

But back to Charlie's date...

Capri Anderson is the name the young lady goes by, and for all intents and purposes, she is a woman who seems to have taken good care of herself. Yet she is flabbergasted by Sheen's behavior.

It seems that the two struck a contract to have dinner. She was paid $3,500 for attending the dinner. She was shocked that there are some who felt that she would have to earn her dinner by taking care of Charlie.

I'm shocked too!

I am regularly invited to dinner by people and paid $3,500 just for my witty anecdotes and lovely personality. Perhaps Charlie thought that she would teach him something about mathematics or balancing the federal budget. Maybe he was just longing for her company because she seemed to be a girl-next-door-type that might mesh with his intoxicated lifestyle of debauchery.

And her reputation? Does being paid to have sex with a Hollywood moron diminish your ability to perform the reverse cowgirl in an X-rated film?

The whole things smacks of a setup if you ask me. Two morons caught up in a bad situation, and now we are all reading about it, and this tramp is being interviewed by every newspaper in the country and appearing on Good Morning America.

Let's see. What would you get if you paid me $3,500 to have dinner with you?

1). I would eat all the food you put in front of me. You can pay to watch me eat 72-ounces of beef, or a bushel of linguine.

Capri ain't doing that.

2). Charlie is a huge baseball fan and so am I. We can discuss the league champions back to World War II. I know he's an Angels fan, but Matsui was there last year. We could find some solid ground.

3). I can seriously pound booze right along with Charlie. I don't want any of his drugs, but I bet I can match him shot for shot if the Jameson's bottle comes out.

4). I will come in handy if he passes out. I can lift him into the elevator and carry him to his room. Then, if necessary, I would be able to head next door to put Denise Richards and the kids to sleep.

All for $3,500. No strings attached. Capri wasn't expecting to sleep with him, so I wouldn't either.

Besides, if he tried to choke me, I'd wipe the floor with his drunken ass.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Oh Brother! Not Another Edit

The new book is about 30 days out, and even though I knew there was a possibility that I would have to go through the text again, I was sort of hoping I might miss it.

Of course, that was not possible. There will most likely be one more read-through as well.

What is the purpose of it all? Not to change content at this stage of the game, but to do that maddening grammar dance. Let me tell you, I am no grammar expert. Like everyone else, I absolutely hated those exercises in school, but I know how to do it, a little bit...nothing like my editors though.

A book edit is a strange thing because as the author you are naturally defensive. Your initial reaction is to try and discredit the editor straight off. You see the red marks and read the comments, and you feel like the dumbest human being on the planet.

Then the edit begins, and instead of reading and riding the wave of that creative flow, you're looking at your consistent mistakes over and over again.

Why can't I understand the use of the serial comma?

Did you know that you can use it or not use it, but that you must be consistent in the use? Did I just use it in that sentence?

Regardless, it is absolutely maddening.

So, why am I writing this blog instead of finishing things up?

Because I know I'm close and that the manuscript will go out in tomorrow's mail. Kathy and the boys have allowed me to sit in the room, working, miles away from any real thought about what is going on outside these walls. It will be done.

Then next week, I will read it again and never ever read it after that.

Then some smart ass will come up to me at a signing somewhere and let me know that I should never substitute an en dash for an em dash when I am preparing a quotation.

Oh, one other thing, did you know that Dumpster is a copyrighted item and must be capitalized?

I had used the sentence...Jeff took a leak behind the dumpster as I chided him about not taking chances...I had to change that to Jeff took a leak behind the Dumpster as I chided him about not taking chances.


Back to work.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Write Something Worth Reading About

The details are a little sketchy but the story is true. On my tenth birthday the gift I received from my parents was Wilt Chamberlin's autobiography - his first one, not the one where he claimed to have slept with 10,000 women.

"I can't believe you wanted this," my mother said.
"I really, really, really wanted it," I answered. "I can't wait to get started."

Yet I still was too young to read such a book. I loved Wilt. I loved reading, and so my mother presented me the book in 1974. It was the heaviest book I'd ever held in my hands, and I read it very quickly the first time through, and the second, and the third. I still have it in my room filled with books, and I've resisted the most recent urges to pick it up again. But a couple of things came of it.

1). I can remember asking my mother what 'screwed' meant. As in Wilt and a teammate went back to the girls room and 'screwed' them.

"Skip that part," Mom said.

2). That book started a habit that has lasted thirty-six years - a habit of reading at least 20-25 pages of something, every single night, before I can close my eyes. There have been a handful of nights - grey goose, jameson fog nights when I haven't met my goal - but for the most after book after book.

My love for writing was born of that obsession for reading, and I bring all of this up because I was reading a great novel last night - God of Animals by Aryn Kyle - and I was within 30 pages of the end. The book was hauntingly good on each page, and I wanted to get to the end last night, but I fell asleep holding the book open. An hour later, I was still holding the book in the same position, but knew I was beaten. I set it down.

Six hours later, I was awake, and I read the conclusion and was not disappointed although the book's end ripped hurt my wounded heart a lot.

And I thought of Aryn Kyle and even Wilt the Stilt and considered the effect that their words had on me, and I thought of it in the context of some of the things I've tried to do with my own words.

It was always just about touching a reader, you know? Somehow, someway, it was always about that ten-year old, or that 40 year old or that 70 year old holding the book until their eyes drooped closed. The proudest I've been is hearing from a reader, who tells me I've had such an influence.

And 36 years later I've learned the meaning of screwed in all of its contexts, I suppose, but the exciting part about it is that there are so many other things I don't know the meaning of.

I have 12 unread books in my closet, the bounty of the Barnes & Noble gift cards that I get as presents (the gift I still really, really, really want).

I can't wait to get started.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I Thee Wed

The nightly news started with a story about the fact that interest in marriage is dwindling. People are waiting a lot longer to get married these days, marriage isn't lasting as it did in recent years, and some are saying that marriage will one day be obsolete.

I'm not sure, but I can't really consider this to be good news. Marriage, done well, is pretty damn cool, right? Doesn't the Bible tell us things about it? Isn't the commitment that goes with love supposed to be a factor.

Let's examine. 54% of the American adult population is it isn't exactly obsolete, but that is down from 72% in 1960. The average age of a marriage start, now, is over 28. My parents had four kids by the time they were that age! Yet times change, right?

I'm all against the down trend in marriage and that's because I believe that the family is an essential part to the moral togetherness of our country. I was talking the other day to a kid who was trying to tell me a story about his ex-uncle, who was close as hell with his ex-wife, his ex-father-in-law and his ex-sister-in-law. He was trying to continue the story, but I stopped him in mid-sentence.

"I can't follow all the ex, this and that crap," I told him. "Consider this an ex story, I'm out of here."

He laughed. But it is strange. Everyone has a half-brother, half-uncle, baby momma, absentee dad, ex-grandma....confusing, ain't it?

What the hell happened to riding it out? Eating dinner across the table from the same sonuvabitchin' face that you woke up looking at in the morning.

I think of my mother, who once told my Dad, in response to his question of whether or not he should fix her breakfast:

"No, you make me breakfast and then twenty minutes later you make me want to throw it up."

That's marriage, you know? That's part of the cool process of it all. The endurance. The back and forth. The sharing.

Of course, its hard because the values of people have changed as well. There are some people that get married that have no intention of trying to stay married and of course, in those instances, you are better parted. It does the kids no good to see perfect hate at play, but the fact that marriage seems to be going away, saddens me.

After all, misery loves company, right?

Of course, I am kidding there. We all know by now that I have a wonderful wife, who gets better with each passing day...I love looking at that same sonuvabitchin' face every day, even if I make her want to throw up her breakfast now and again.

Hey, at least I make it for her!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Learn to Live

My work takes me out to construction sites from Erie Pennsylvania to New York City and sometimes to other states where I conduct audits, write reports, and give presentations. Every year I do a presentation at a company just around the corner from where I live.

Through the years I've grown to know all of the guys at a tight-knit company and we laugh a lot as I try to get the rules across. The problem being that this company works in the middle of busy roadways, and sometimes, safety is not possible because there are way too many variables.

At the start of this week, one of those men who attended my safety trainings was run down by a truck. At 27 years old, his life ended. An accident that cost the man his life, his dreams, and cost that company in ways they won't even imagine.

I've been around such things before, but I tell you, I wanted to vomit when I heard the news. Three days later, I'm stuck with the thought that you need to learn to live with that you can't rise above.

No other option, right?

I've watched people make wrecks of their personal lives too. I know a bunch of guys suffering through the loss of their marriages, and I struggle to watch them make one bad decision on top of the poor decision that they made to start with, and instead of rising above the mess, they pile more crap on the mountain of dung under their feet.

Learn to live with it. Get on with life, hoping that the accidents, bad decisions, and lousy breaks don't break you.

Rise above it, knowing that it won't happen over night. The process can't be rushed.

My nephew is making tremendous strides and for that I'm thankful.

Maybe that's where it all begins and ends.

Being thankful for what you have, as you learn to live with what you don't.


I was ordering lunch on the road and one of the choices was a meatball sub. I wanted to eat something a little healthier than that, but I as...