Sunday, January 31, 2010

This Is What It's Come To

Working to get things back on the road...

Waiting to get x-rays was wildly entertaining. I so very rarely go to the doctors that I couldn't answer even the most simple of questions.

"Do you have your insurance card?" the woman asked me.
I handed her a card.
"That's for your prescriptions," she said.
I tried again.
"That's your Blockbuster card. They're out of business."
One more chance.
"That's it. Now this was a car accident, right? Who do you get your car insurance from?"
"Uncle Jim," I said.

The lady looked at me as if I were the dumbest man on the planet.
"How the hell do I know?" I asked. "I just want x-rays."
"Can you reach your wife? Perhaps she can make sense out of your life."

This is what it has come to. I don't even open my own mail anymore.

And now the car needs to be fixed. I'm telling you, I don't have a single clue as to what to do next.
"Take it for an estimate," someone told me.
Who does that sort of thing? How will I listen to my satellite radio if my car is in the shop? Can I drive it?

"It's pulling hard to the left," my wife said as she drove the car for the first time since the crash. "Didn't you notice that?"
"Well the wheel was turned the wrong way," I said.
"You shouldn't be driving this," she said.
"I won't be able to maneuver my bike in the snow," I replied.

So the week is about to start. The back still smarts. The car pulls hard to the left. We're talking estimates, perhaps a new car. Can we get the satellite radio out, please? That's all I'm asking.

This is what it has come to - I drive around in oblivion of all that spins out of control around me until it smashes into me and makes me pray that others can figure out the mess, turn me around, and put me back on the road.

Ah well, pasta today!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Been Around the Block- Post #800

When I was a mere lad I used to walk around the block with my grandfather, Clifford Schryver. We used to go around Hariett Street to what are now the projects, and down the side streets.

Grandpa never said a lot but I do remember finding a dime once and I was estatic.

"This is what I want to do," I said. "I'll walk the streets and find money."

"It won't be enough," he said.

"How do you know?" I asked.

"Well, I've been around the block once or twice and I know it," he said.

And here I sit, having been around the block a time or two, knowing now what I didn't know then. And feeling as incompetent as that kid was back then.

And coming off a day when I could have perished and not making too much of it, but that sort of shit happens to people every day and it has a place in the psyche, doesn't it?

It's impossible not to think about it. We are all just so fragile. We should have 'Do Not Bend' written on our backs.

So, what to do?

Perhaps 'Suck it up and tough it out and do the best you can is all that we really have'.

I know for a fact, having been around the block or two, that there aren't any free lunches, and that most people would ram it up your ass when faced with the choice of doing that or helping you. I know that charity is a convenience; and that love is a an option reserved when all other options fail.

I know that the strongest bond in the world is blood-related, but that once in a while someone can join the family and mingle with the blood.

I know that people will chase the almighty dollar at the risk of everything else. I understand that finding that next dime on the side street is worth more than helping out someone else.

I understand that no one owes me anything, but that I have compassion in my heart for someone who has less than me.

I comprehend that the greatest thing I can leave behind is my children. They are the bright future that we search for, and the hope that remains in the heart. You get older and you hope to make a difference one way or another.

I've just one shot at this - and there's no fucking way that I won't leave some sort of mark.

And I sit before the computer keys on any given day and I attempt to make my name, wondering where I will find the next dime.

I've been around the block a time or two.

And I still ain't leaving 'till I'm satisfied.

My grandpa was a good man. I think of him often, and at the end of the day, he didn't tell me a whole helluva' lot.

He sort of just kind of led me by putting one foot in front of the other.

Crash Into Me

It was just a regular day. I was driving along the Skyway leaving the city with no distractions at all. I wasn't texting, I wasn't talking on the phone, I wasn't even watching porn on my laptop. Howard was on, of course, but I can drive and listen, right?

As I exited the skyway the wind whipped up sending snow blowing across off the lake. I didn't think much of it, but I slowed the car down. The wind didn't slow at all.

I could only see a few feet in front of me. I hit my hazard lights as I really slowed, and when the snow cleared, there were two badly smashed up cars, in my lane, just a few feet ahead.

I was able to stop in time, but in a split-second my mind flashed me a warning.

What if the next guy doesn't stop?

I didn't have time to answer my own question - a truck in the left lane smashed into the stopped vehicle just in front of him. The sound of the impact literally made me jump off my seat, and that's when I was hit from behind.

I was hit just perfectly enough to spin my vehicle to the left leaving my driver's side door as a convenient target for the next guy to obliterate in the left hand lane.

I could die here.

I cut the wheel hard to the right and got back into place behind the original crashed vehicle. Then I listened as three more cars joined the smash-up-derby including one who scrapped the driver's side door - better a scrap than a direct hit, thank-you very much defensive driving school.

I'm not going to die here.

I jumped out of my car and escaped to the other side of the guide rail where a man and his girlfriend, or wife, were consoling one another. She was crying hard and holding her head and he was trying to dial 911.

A tire rolled down the center lane as glass and reflective lights and smashed up cars littered the road - there had to be 30 cars involved.

I returned to my car as the EMT vehicles arrived. I was breathing a little hard, but felt okay, and a quick glance at my car told me it was drivable anyway.

The EMT knocked on my window and asked if I was okay. He also told me that they were having trouble finding a lane for the police and fire trucks. I offered to get out of the way, and he said it might be a good idea.

So, ten minutes later I was in my driveway. No police report. No idea who hit me. Aching back, shoulder and ribs.

It was the lead story on the news. I spent the late afternoon and early evening getting x-rays. They told me I'd feel worse the next day and they were right.

"Suck it up and tough it out and do the best you can, Nancy," Jake and Sam told me.

I laughed.

How could I not?

I did what I need to do every day for them.

I made it home.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Across the Border

How do I feel today? One year after tragedy...same as I felt yesterday, and the day before and the day before and the day before...

Across the Border - Bruce Springsteen

Tonight my bag is packed
Tomorrow I'll walk these tracks
That will lead me across the border.

Tomorrow my love and I
will sleep 'neath auburn skies
Somewhere across the border

We'll leave behind, my dear
The pain and sadness we found here
And we'll drink from the Bravo's muddy water

Where the sky grows gray and wide
We'll meet on the other side
There across the border

For you I'll build a house
High upon a grassy hill
Somewhere across the border

Where pain and memory
pain and memory have been stilled
There across the border

And sweet blossoms fill the air
pastures of gold and green
roll down into clear cool waters

And in your arms 'neath open skies
I'll kiss the sorrow from your eyes
there across the border

Tonight we'll sing the songs
I'll dream of you my corazon (love)
and tomorrow my heart will be strong

And may the saints blessing and grace
carry me safely into your arms
there across the border

For what are we without hope in our heart
that someday we'll drink from God's Blessed Waters
And eat the fruit from the vine

I know love and fortune will be mine
somewhere across the border.


May love fill your days.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Why! Oh Why!

Back in 1992 I had a serious crush on someone. It wasn't a school kid crush, mind you, I was 28 years old!

What I was feeling was real, true love. My love was based on compassion, pity, and a little bit of physical lust.

I was seriously in love...with Nancy Kerrigan.

Yes, that Nancy Kerrigan. The skater who's knee was hammered by Tonya Harding. I must have been in love because it made me watch friggin' figure skating!

I was fired up for those Olympics. I had seen Nancy wail in pain - "Why! Oh Why!" - and it tore at my heart. I can still see her father carrying her off, her face a mask of pain and anguish.

"Why! Oh Why!"

A friend of mine knew about the crush - he spoiled the Olympics (which were on a tape delay) by telling me that Nancy won the Bronze and not the Gold. I was broken-hearted.

I made a bet with that same friend (a case of beer) that I could get Nancy's autograph.

I mailed photos to her town - with just her name on the front - Two weeks later - the envelope was returned to me - every photo was signed with a note that said, "Hi, Cliff!"

She loved me too! (And I got the case of beer to boot). (Still have the autographs too).

Last night news broke that Nancy's father died of a heart attack after fighting with Nancy's troubled brother.

My heart ached all over again.

"Why! Oh, Why!"

I feel especially bad for Nancy now, and the rest of her family too. That's a true shame, right?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Whatchutalkingbout Willis?


Yeah, yeah the J-E-T-S lost. We have bigger problems to discuss.

Seems that Phillip Drummond for all his self-righteousness was a real bad single parent of those three kids and Mrs. Garrett was no help at all.

The real life Willis wound up in jail numerous times.

Dana Plato was so strung out on drugs (God help me, what was her name on the show?) and ended up killing herself...and now Arnold.

Doesn't it look like he's about to break into the whatchutalkingbout Willis? in his police photo?

Seems Arnold has a real problem with domestic abuse - he's an angry little man - evidently he's been arrested due to his temper a few times, and his parents robbed him of every dime he ever made.

What a mess.

Can you imagine being attacked by Gary Coleman? What would that be like? Its sort of like when the kids run at you and threaten to take you down, isn't it? How could you do anything but laugh?

Of course, domestic abuse is a serious subject, but man that is one situation that is just begging for a camera.

Oh no, here comes Arnold and he's pissed!

I blame Phillip - his advice always seemed to suck.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Saints Go Marching In

Kind of hard not to root, at least a little, for the New Orleans Saints. I'm listening to a recap of the Katrina devastation as the announcers discuss what a Super Bowl would mean to that city.

Now we would really, really, really appreciate a playoff berth again, let alone a Super Bowl here in Buffalo, but man, that city deserves a little something.

We all remember the Katrina stories, right? The flooded city streets, the slow response, the people shooting from the rooftops, and looting and not leaving and all of it.

Yet the horror of it all was recapped in a book by a doctor who was trying to help during those difficult times. His book - which I will look up if anyone is interested - recapped the tragedy through the eyes of a man on the battle lines - really good read, but scary as hell.

He spoke of swimming down the street and running into a parking meter because the water was so high. He talks of people in the police department just quitting their jobs because there was no chance to really help.

The crap floating in the water running outside his hospital doors was indeed - crap. Now I don't know about you, but dirty water where you live is horrible - ten feet of it is just wrong.

So, I guess rooting for Brett Favre and his I'm retired-I'm not retired-I'm retired story would be interesting, but the real rooting interest here is for New Orleans.

Bush flew over the city a week after Katrina- never touching down - bringing relief a little too late.

We owe those people yet, don't we?

We can at least root for them.

Until they play the J-E-T-S in two weeks - then it's all about New York, baby!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

She Was Picking On Me!

Last February a man who lives about seven miles from me was arrested for literally cutting his wife's head off. The crime shocked and horrified the entire county, and made everyone wonder how the hell someone could do that to another person.

Now we know...

His defense attorney says that she was picking on him. He explained that the poor man was so humiliated by the mental abuse he took from the verbal beatdowns his wife inflicted upon him that he had no choice but to lop off her head.

Reeeeeeeallllly! (As Ace Ventura might say).

Does that mean I can do it because my wife says "okie dokie" too often?

It's not funny but you always hear about men claiming that their wives are verbally beating them down. Cowards use it for an excuse when they want to save a little money in the divorce suit. This wimp is claiming that it drove him so crazy that he had to react violently.

First off, isn't the verbal beatdown expected? Isn't that what we sign up for at the altar? Isn't it in the wedding vows somewhere?

"Do you take this woman in sickness or in health through the berating she's going to give you on a daily basis?"

I kid of course, my wife and I are respectful to one another, and the "okie dokie" is endearing after all this time.

I just can't imagine. Of all the lame excuses. Dude - there's no good reason to separate someone's head from their shoulders.

Go to jail...die there after suffering for 50 or so years...you still made out way better than your abuser.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Half in the Bag

Typical Friday night with family things on my mind, but we stopped for a few beers and chicken wings to celebrate my mother-in-laws' birthday.

My wonderful brother-in-law added a photo of Jeff to his wall at the bar.

And it was on, bitch, pants on the floor, on.

I texted my buddy Pops - "Shots of Jameson now? Or writing tomorrow?"

"Tomorrow never knows," Pop texted back.

A shot for Jeff. A shot for Pops. A shot for myself.

"When are we leaving?" Kathy asked.

"Not there yet," I replied.

There are days when the whole things seems insufferable.

Nothing in the world prepared me for your heart. Nothing in the world I love more than your heart - your golden heart, golden heart, golden heart....

And so much to think about... Can you hear me? ... Jamesons with a beer back...foosbeall and my partner sucks now...another Jameson's...are these stuffed peppers okay?... man this blows...

Bruce on the way home...Knopfler as I write this...something needs to be there for inspiration tomorrow... but you know...tomorrow never knows.., and what are we without hope in our hearts?

I still think I'll write well tomorrow...

I wish I had one more shot of Jameson's though.

Nothing in the world prepared me for your heart. Nothing in the world I love more than your heart - your golden heart, golden heart, golden heart....

Ahh, Diversity

For the first time yesterday I listened to the Pants on the Ground song - only one listen and I can't get it out of my head. I wasn't sure of the origin of the song, but my big sister helped me figure it out, and it made me smile because I've always wondered why people would want to wear their pants low.

When I was young it would have been horrifying to have the girls in my class see either my underwear or the crack of my ass. Different times, I guess.

This morning I stopped in a convenient store in downtown Buffalo. As I filled my coffee the two Arab-looking gentlemen behind the counter were engaged in a spirited discussion that caused their voices to change pitch and tone.

I had no idea what they were talking about because they were speaking their own language, and it wasn't Spanish - which is the only other language I dabbled in (and that didn't go real well either).

I thought of the Simpsons character Apu and realized that it was exactly the stereotype the Simpsons creators were trying to get at - and I set my coffee on the counter, not expecting much in the way of conversation.

"Good morning," the man said. "How's your Friday going?"

His perfect English threw me for a loop. There wasn't even a hint of the gibberish I'd heard as he conversed with his buddy.

"I'm doing all right," I said.

"It's warming up out there," he continued. "I hope the rest of your day is good."

I paid for the coffee and hit the streets. I thought of New York City and the wide diversity of people on their city streets. I considered those two men and felt a little weird in thinking that I wouldn't like them because they were Arab.

Do you feel that way? Afraid of someone just because of what you perceive them to be? Ashamed that you thought of them as a stereotypical cartoon character?

It kind of upsets the old apple cart when you receive e-mails that say America must protect their borders and keep non-Americans out. It's a confusing issue, isn't it? I know a lot of people who hate races of people for no good reason other than they judge all as one in the same. I'm sort of guilty of it too.

Maybe those kids want their pants on the ground. Perhaps those store-owners are just hard-working Americans who deserve a place.

Then again, maybe they are sending the money back to a foreign land to support terrorism, or maybe the mean-looking dude walking your way is looking to rob you, stab you, and leave you for dead.

I don't know - I get so confused sometimes.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ted Kennedy Must Be Spinning

The Liberal Lion's seat is filled by a Republican's ass. Wow! Who'd have thunk it?

As I've admitted countless times during this year I haven't paid much attention to politics at all. I hear the griping coming from those I'd figure would gripe and I've taken a real wait-and-see attitude and have been a little hesitant to make a distinction on how things are going.

So how are things going?

Suddenly the economy in my field seems a little tighter. Here in Buffalo we are usually unaffected by economic downturns because we are barely out of the toilet bowl anyway. Seems like the water is real close these days. Just a personal observation.

And health care seems like something of a fiasco - I hear the plan is lousy, I hear the plan is good, I hear the plan won't pass and we will continue on as is - which isn't a great idea because a lot of what we have now sucks, and it seems like you're an ass for trying, ah, who the hell knows - it doesn't feel like change though - seems to be the same old fight in the house and senate - and that's what is most tiring.

And more troops to Afghanistan - thought the wars were going to be quick outs - can see why they aren't - where's Bin Laden.

One thing really did make me laugh though and that was Dick Cheney's reaction to the up and coming shoe-bomber - he used it to show that America was less safe with Obama than Bush.

Wasn't that Bush in the kindergarten chair when 09/11 went down? We are less safe because Obama himself didn't escort the guy from the plane, but 09/11 was Clinton's fault?

Couldn't those in the Obama camp have said that Bush-Cheney should have known about the shoe bomber because it happened early in Obama's turn? You can't have it both ways oh great skeet-shooter.

What-freaking-ever!

That's why I don't care anymore - just too many back-stabbing cry-babies, but at least I don't have to sit through any more W speeches.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wait For It

There's something new that's annoying me.

I hate the show How I Met Your Mother. Last week Jake turned it on as Barney was singing about his suit. My smart son immediately reached for the clicker asking, "Why would anyone watch this?"

"Leave it on," I said. "I want to see how bad it is."

And it was - wait for it - freaking horrible!

And that's what bugs me now - yesterday someone was telling me a joke and in the middle of the punchline stopped and said - "Wait for it."

He then finished the joke, and I purposely didn't laugh.

"Wasn't that funny?" he asked.

"Yeah, but you told me to 'wait for it.' You're a freaking moron and I wasn't going to laugh at your joke."

Perhaps I'm a tad sensitive because I wasted a few hours of my life on that crap during the first season because - wait for it - Robin is hot.

Perhaps I'm just becoming even more cranky in my old age, or I've just finally run out of patience.

Oh well. There's more to worry about, right?

Now I just gave you all something to annoy me with.

Wait for it' is right up there with "okie-dokie."

That is still the one that really makes my skin crawl, and you know who says it more than anyone else?

Wait for it

My wife.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Talk Yourself Into It

A Tueday morning in January, in Buffalo, with a long day of work staring me in the face.

"How are you this morning?" the convenience store clerk asked me as I handed her the money for the newspapers.

"I'm trying to talk myself into it," I said.

She laughed. "That's a great answer," she said. "Seems like I do that most every day."

I don't know, something about this time of year - the body seems to ache, the idea of how I was going to change in the coming year doesn't seem that exciting, thirty some days until pitches and catchers report, it's always freaking cold - my golf clubs have to be freezing in the garage.

The Mega Millions is tonight, but the prospect of getting one number doesn't thrill me.

The news is the horrible state of Haiti, Jay Freaking Leno, and the Bills hiring another stiff for a coach. Did I mention it's cold?

Still, I talked myself into it and had a pretty productive day. I even laughed a little with Howard.

"What're your plans for tonight?" my wife asked.

"Judge Judy with the blanket on my legs and brickbreaker in my hand," I said.

Yet I feel as if the drive is returning a bit - I'll probably write well over the weekend, and tomorrow, I'll have a different answer for the clerk.

"How are you today?" she'll ask.

"Fantastic, stupendous, wonderful! And how are you?"

All right, maybe not - the Bills did hire Chan Gailey.

Three more years to root for the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Thoughts Collected

The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday is a good thought, but how come half the world has to work? Shouldn't we all be off or all be on?

It's going to be different on Cliff Fazzolari day.

Who gives a crap, who really cares about Conan versus Jay? I swear to God there are people debating the issue from coast-to-coast - I'm already a couple hours into sleep by the time the shows start.

Personally, I don't think either of them are funny.

Man, the footage from Haiti is just awful, and Pat Robertson is just stupid, and Clinton and W.Bush working together is just funny, and the worldwide response does the heart good. It's hard to imagine such devastation.

Just horrible.

Watched the football playoffs with the boys and I must admit I hate people who jump on bandwagons but I have to go J-E-T-S - Jets, Jets, Jets now. First time ever a team from the New York area is such a huge underdog, right?

J-E-T-S!

18 days into the new year and after a weekend party I'm trying to get back into the swing of eating little in an effort to get into golf-playing weight. I'll tell you something though:

Eating a lot is way more fun.

My wife wasn't impressed with the Bob Dylan CD - "He might be the worst singer ever," she said.

Listen to the words!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Slow Train Coming

I received a Barnes & Noble Gift card for Christmas and I spent some time browsing through the books this morning, but as I walked by the music section something caught my eye. Right there, in front was a single copy of Bob Dylan's 1979 release Slow Train Coming.

When I was 15 years old I wore out that album, listening to it every day. A few years after that I got a cassette copy of it, and pretty much listened until that tape was useless. This morning, I finally got the CD.

I hadn't heard it in awhile, but quickly picked out my two favorite songs - Precious Angel and I Believe in You.

For the uninitiated, this was Dylan's Christian album. Yet it was still Dylan, the nasally whine and all. As a kid, I knew what he was singing of, but I didn't grasp it all. The nuns had made sure I understood some of it, but it was going to be different listening to it as an adult, wasn't it?

Precious angel, how was I to know you'd be the one - To show me I was blinded, to show me I was gone. How weak was the foundation, I was standing upon? You either got faith or you got unbelief and there ain't no neutral ground.

My attention was grabbed. Dylan sang on:

Shine your light, shine your light on me, shine your light...I just can't make it by myself, I'm a little too blind to see.

(By the way, I love singing like Dylan - ask me to do it sometime - it's easy).

Yet the real winner on the album, and the one lyric that will stick in my head until I get through the down times.

And I, I don't mind the pain, don't mind the driving rain, I know I will sustain, because I believe in you.

There's a slow train coming. All aboard.

Thirty years later, it's still brilliant.

Friday, January 15, 2010

I've Got My Own Problems Doesn't Apply

Those poor people in Haiti.

You've heard that before, but now not only are the poor, but up to a half of a million of them have lost their lives. It's horrific and what can you blame an earthquake on?

Surely not God, right?

Yet that idiot Pat Robertson did. He says that the people of Haiti suffered that fate because they shook hands with the devil and made a deal that they are now paying for.

Doesn't that sort of reasoning just gall you? If God doled out punishment in such a manner wouldn't all of the men who committed crimes suffer earthquakes in their jail cells?

Charlie Manson would have suffered from boils or leprosy by now.

But it isn't about why the earth shook and brought everything to the ground - it should be more about the response.

As a human being there has to be something in your heart for those people. Read the stories, see the anguish on their faces. It's not their problem, it's everyone's, right?

Aren't we all connected one way or another?

Those poor people.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Men Are More Evolved!

Topping the news today there is a study out that says that men, due to the evolution of the Y chromosome are more evolved than:

Ahem, ahem....women.

Now this may surprise the females in the crowd who believe that women are actually the more evolved creature, but I have to tell you, I'm not even a little bit surprised.

I'm not making it up - don't be mad at me - it's in the news.

There's also some mumbo-jumbo about the report not being the set-in-stone end of the debate, but I skipped over that part.

Men are more evolved! End of story.

Women don't even have the Y chromosome - they are stuck with two X's or something way down on the evolutionary ladder.

As a matter of fact, I think the article said that the closest creature to men on the evolutionary chain was some sort of monkey.

So it goes - man...then monkey...

then Ahem, ahem...women

...Then what? Amobeas?

I only report the news. I don't make it up.

Sorry women - next time you call us apes, you better stop and think about it.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I've Got My Own Problems

First job in yesterday I tried to open a door, it fell off it's hinges and skinned my knuckles. I also ripped off a toenail on my this little piggie went wee-wee-wee, and last night while putting a spice back in the counter I tweaked my shoulder, and it feels like I tore something.

In other words, I have my own problems.

This all comes up because of Facebook, and waiting on line at the grocery store, and listening to people chat about how miserable they are on any given day.

My new mantra - "I got my own problems."

Seems like an awful callous way to live, but I put it into the context of Mark McGwire and his steroid explanation.

"He hurt his foot, his back was bothering him, his shoulder didn't come back the way it should - that's why he did it - not to gain an advantage.

Blah, blah, blah - heard it all before. He was confronted with the truth and he told the world to leave him alone - all together now - he had his problems.

What bothers me is that he knew he was taking them when he broke Maris' record.

Steroids weren't illegal at the time so why didn't he just say - "I was hurting so I took steroids."

Because he knew it was wrong - that's why.

Who cares?

I've got my own problems.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Info-Maniac

My son Sam is an info-maniac. He loves all of it - Facebook, text messaging, talking on the phone, talking when he's not on the phone, and gathering enough information so that he has enough to talk about.

Over the weekend, we spent time watching the football games and although I tried hard to trip him up with information, he was there to handle it all. When the Bengals had a close play go against them during the 2nd half of their game I mentioned that they should challenge it.

"They already used two challanges," Sam said. "Not only can't they challenge, they are going to be hurting for time outs in the 4th quarter."

The kid knows more about football than Dick Jauron.

Then Kathy equipped their phone with text messages. For a long while Sam went back and forth trading insults with my sister and brother-in-law. His little thumbs were on fire as he tried to keep up.

All the while he talked to me about everything that came to mind.

Drifting away a bit and playing brickbreaker, I was just moments away from my all-time high score, but my phone buzzed and I failed to catch the ball.

"Bah!" I yelled. "I got a freaking text message while I was trying to set the record."

I went to retrieve the message as Sam scrambled off the couch and out of the room.

"Where are you going?" I asked.

Then I saw the message.

"Hi Dad," it said. "From Sam."

He'd been sitting three feet away. He'd talked to me for 48 hours straight, and he's sending texts that say "hi" in the middle of my brickbreaker game! It was worth a good chuckle.

Info-Maniac!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Glory Days

Tomorrow night my old high school is having a ceremony to retire the jersey number of my buddy Chris Heinold.

Chris was a dominant player back in the early 80's and he went on to captain Canisius' basketball team. For years and years he won tournaments all across the state, and even had a stint playing professional ball in Germany.

When Chris called me to invite me to the ceremony I asked him why they weren't retiring my jersey right along with his.

"Well, if it were measured in how much you couldn't jump, how unathletic or slow you were, your name would have been in the rafters years ago. You were a superstar in all those categories."

Yet I do feel honored by tomorrow's ceremony because for years and years, it was the Heinold-Fazzolari show. I'm not talking on the court, mind you, but I was no dummy back then. I understood that the best way to have fun was to hang with the best player on the team.

Chris and I sat beside one another on the team bus - we were the only ones allowed to bring food. We threw bologna slices at the cheerleaders, laughed when we were supposed to be quiet, and made fun of everyone else on the team. Of course, we also talked a lot about the game and I counted Chris' points for him during the battles.

Our children have heard each story hundreds of times:

There was the two on nothing break that Chris and I went on with just a few seconds left in the half in a Christmas tourney.

Chris having already scored about twenty of our first half points selflessly tossed the ball to me so that I could get my name in the paper.

I missed the layup.

He got the rebound and dunked it through, but the horn had already blown to end the half. To make it all more story-worthy we ended up losing the game by two.

We had lost 44-42. Chris had scored 30.

"You suck," Chris said when he got on the bus at the end of the game. "Do you realize that if you'd made that lay-up we'd have gone to overtime?"

"Do you realize if you'd scored thirty-three we would have won?" I responded.

Story after story. Laugh after laugh.

I congratulate my friend as they hoist #32 to the rafters. If life were fair #15 would be going up right next to it.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

My Main Man, Marshawn

Well, well, well look who's back in the news. That terrific running back from the Buffalo Bills, Marshwan Lynch.

Let's recap:

First off, he performed a hit and run in downtown Buffalo, hid out from the cops for a couple of weeks, and then paid a hundred dollar fine. He's still getting sued for that one.

Then he went west and got picked up by the cops with firearms and pot in the car - they dropped the drug charges. The NFL was working on their image though so they suspended him for four games to start the season.

Last month, he allegedly took $20 off a table at a restaurant and refused to give it back to the women he was supposedly terrorizing.

Unfortunately, for him, the woman's husband is a Detective on the Buffalo police force. After the criminal report was filed the Hamburg police department, in what can only be considered an effort to keep things quiet mailed the woman the twenty bucks with a letter.

I'm sure it was just a misunderstanding.

He lost his job as a first-stringer. He gets arrested twice a year. He has nothing good to say about anything. God! I love him!

Now you wonder why my kid's Lynch shirt is in the mothballs?

Idiot! Get him out!

Friday, January 8, 2010

What's He Do When He Gets There?

It seems that that hijacker that tried to blow up the plane to Detroit really didn't think it all the way through, you know?

I have faith in God. I question that faith from time to time and struggle to make it seem reasonable in my every day existence, but I'm not sure that I would be willing to go the extra mile so to speak to please God if it means taking myself out of life in the process.

Which brings me to the problem I have with the process the hijacker (and God help me, I ain't going to try and spell his name) had when boarding the plane.

Wasn't the sacrifice of his own life an effort to draw favor with his god and receive all of those virgins in heaven?

How does he feel he's going to accomplish it if he blows his frank and beans off in the process?

You understand where I'm coming from?

Not to mention that he seemed to blow the golden rule that every kid hears from their mother before leaving the house - wear clean underwear!

Now I imagine that there was some dust and debris left behind from the bomb, but it sure looked like there were a few other substances in the pair of underwear that I saw pictured in the USA Today.

I can imagine his mother's shame.

Not to mention what are the other terrorists thinking now? Are they sitting around talking about how stupid their young apprentice is?

"He blew off his nuts!" They scream and then they laugh and laugh and laugh.

It's horrible that we are living in such a world, but even more disconcerting when the potential terrorist is like Gilligan.

Enjoy prison, moron.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Demons, Demons Everywhere

I listen to the Howard Stern Show every day. Like millions of others I get caught up in the lives of the entertainers and the show is pretty much open in all areas.

Over the course of the last few years Artie Lange has been the funny sidekick who's life is dissected at every turn. He is also a very successful entertainer, actor and even a bestselling book writer. His book was scary for the life he lived, but quite good. It made you feel for what he's gone through.

You would think millions of dollars, season tickets to the Yankee games, and pretty substantial fame would chase his demons away, but a few weeks ago, he stabbed himself nine times (or the story goes) in an effort to end his days.

Howard explained that we are all chasing away demons and said that lately Artie's demons have been winning.

First off, a true shame. Anyone in that much pain deserves a little sympathy. A life shouldn't go in that direction.

And the demons are there, right? Yet we are all supposed to have coping mechanisms that keep us from plunging a knife into ourselves.

The sadness train seems to really be rolling these days, and I pray for that poor guy. I suppose money doesn't provide any sort of answer, you know?

One day at a time.

Keep those demons at bay.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

How is the New Year Treating You?

Still stuck in the snow here. Wondering what will thrill me to pass the time.

I have a good friend who talks me through the lulls in the writing, but to be honest with you, I don't have a black notebook on the desk and I'm not planning on buying one.

Feels like the book career will be a wrap with number 10 coming out this year. Which brings me to another strange feeling - normally I send the copies of the manuscript to my publisher with a real skip in my step,knowing that I did my very best, and that people will enjoy the book.

Writing about Jeff was never anything more than a labor of love that had a torture session attached to every single word. I did my best, and you will love the spirit, but so, so hard to get fired up about the release.

And that is where it all comes to pass...why it feels like the end of my writing career.

My wife asked me yesterday about what was next on the agenda. I always had a next...

"I'm going to play brickbreaker and watch Judge Judy," I said. "Just ride it out."

And so far, that is what I'm going for now. I'm going to concentrate on the job, the kids, and brickbreaker.

Of course, there will be editing the book, promoting the book, and watching the Yanks, beating Pops and Renaldo's asses at golf, but so far, quiet.

Maybe it'll all change in six months, but right now there's peace in my mind - no new characters fighting for space.

And Judge Judy really is a pisser.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Top Ten

This time of year is famous for lists. There's a list for the greatest moments, a list for the worst moments and a list for all the moments in between.

My all-time favorite list was from Letterman back about twenty years ago. He had the top ten numbers from one to ten.

Then he goes... number 10 - 6, number 9 - 4, number 8 - 7

Pretty funny by the time he got to number one - which I believe was one.

Anyway, I find that I always look at the lists and put my own spin on things.

Top ten greatest rock bands? Bruce and the Stones better be way up there.

Top 10 songs of all-time - spare me the Highway to Heaven crap - they stole every note of that song. Look at Imagine, or anything by the Beatles.

Top 10 athletes - spare me Cheetah and Lance Armstrong and Michael Phelps - I can swim, par a hole, and ride a bike.

Give me Pujols hitting a 100 mph 400 feet (I can't do that), a football player doing a 40-yard dash in under six minutes (I can't do that), or a hockey player even standing up on skates (I can't do that either).

Top ten movies of all-time? The Godfather better be on that list.

Top ten books? Something by Steinbeck better be mentioned.

Top 10 radio personalities? Rush better not be on the list - no one else but Howard at number 1.

Top 10 reasons to end this blog?

"It blows" better be in the top three.

Incidentally, my top ten numbers from one to ten goes like this:

7,4,2,3,9,0,1,6,5, and 8

I hate 8.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Bills 51 Raiders 3

I remember it like it was yesterday. The tailgate party stretched on for hours, but it was too cold to really enjoy the beer. Besides the anticipation of the event forced us to drink the night before so we were all a little off our games.

Yet the weather was cold - Buffalo in January - how could it not be? - and we were rooting for it to be colder. The Raiders were in town for the AFC Championship Game and we wanted them to be icicles as they tried to stop Kelly, Reed and Thurman.

The Bills ran the hurry-up offense and by 1:15 PM they were ahead 7 to 0. The Raiders went three and out and ten minutes later Howie Long, their big defensive end, was doubled over in pain - one play later it was 14 to zip.

By halftime the game was over - the Bills were winning 41 to 3. The crowd was frenzied. The snow started to fall.

I remember sitting there watching the snow fly, and the fans waving signs that said 'Buffalo is going to the Super Bowl'.

I remember thinking that I'd never be at a greater sporting event. Two weeks later there were tears in my eyes when the Bills took the field to play the Giants - there were tears in a lot of eyes at the end of the game. (Yeah, yeah Rosie - shove it!).

I wanted to get tickets to go to that Super Bowl Game to root for them. I wanted to hug Kelly, Thomas, Reed, Bruce, Tasker...every last one of them for making Buffalo proud.

Alas, that was January 1991. A long time ago.

Yesterday I watched a number of people in the crowd taking off their shirts in single-digit temperatures. They were frenzied as they cheered on a team that hasn't gone to the playoffs in 10 years.

I thought of their owner crying for not being able to squeeze another nickel out of a broke community, or a county who's taxes pay to keep the stadium open. I thought of all the libraries and museums, and county parks that have been closed in an effort to keep the team viable. I thought of the game a year in Toronto even though we sell every single ticket. I thought of the loudmouth wide receiver being presented a key to our city.

Thank God I wasn't there yesterday. A meaningless game in another meaningless season. I couldn't possibly think of a worse sporting event to be a part of.

They fired the coaches today. Every last one of them. This is at least the third time that's happened in the past ten years. Perhaps we will be able to rebuild it.

I hope so. I really do. Buffalo deserved a championship in 1991. They still deserve one today.

But 1991 seems like so, so long ago.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Alas

I love that word, 'Alas'...

Alas, I knew that I couldn't spend '10 just lying 'neath the covers to study my pain.

The beep, beep, beep, beep of a neighbor's car alarm began at 4 AM. By 4:02 it was silenced, only to begin again by 4:03, and on and on it went.

Of course, going back to sleep is never an option for me, so I laid there waiting for it to start, then stop, then start again. It got to the point where I was trying to time it, and missing it when it didn't actually start when I thought it might. It's like the people who live near the airport and miss the sound of the planes rattling their windows.

And I thought of the myriad of the ways I could react. I could lie there and take it, or I could trudge down the stairs and out the front door and try to figure out who the hell was waking up the neighborhood. I thought of my father and a couple of my brothers who'd be willing to chase down the offender.

Beep, beep, beep.

I finally centered in on just opening my eyes - I could read a bit of the Stephen King book Under the Dome if I was up to lifting it off my dresser - 1100 pages - tough to hang onto.

Yet when I tried to open my eyes I realized that there was another problem - my left eye was watering and sort of throbbing. What the hell?

It had been an uneventful evening - a game of Flip Uno that nearly turned into a game of who wants to strangle Sam - and then a unmysterious 48 Hours Mystery who's end will never be seen.

I thought of pink eye, or a cold that starts in the eye. Bah!

After the shower, I'm feeling okay. The car alarm is still blasting every few moments, and it just occurred to me that maybe it's my car. I'll check it out and get back to you.

Alas, '10 probably won't pass problem free.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Hangover

Finally saw the movie the other night - I was afraid that I would expect too much of it, but I decided not to read too much into it, and actually thought it was all right. Not my favorite comedy ever - Knocked Up and Me, Myself and Irene are still tough to beat.

But the hangover was comical because a lot of people have been there - The what did I do last night- aspect of it is entertaining. And Vegas was fun, but I can't tell you about it.

So the new year begins the first of the year items right along with it - the first baby born, the first homicide (guess those resolutions didn't work out) and the first arrests. Buffalo had the first birth in the first hour and the first murder in the first 12 hours - we had 11 relatively peaceful hours I suppose.

Did you read about the two NBA players pulling guns on each other in the locker room? They do play for the team that used to be the Bullets - poetic justice.

And Rush Limbaugh has a healthy heart - Oh Thank God - I was so worried. Maybe the scare will lead him to an early retirement. Perhaps he exceeded the hate capacity and just shut down for awhile.

So, I'm definitely easing into things - the more relaxed state has me thinking about just keeping everything simple. A 2nd day in and I've done little more than rest, hang with the kids and watch it snow.

364 more quiet days and the most peaceful year ever will be in the books. Just don't want it to be complicated.

The hangover is almost gone - one more day, a big dish of pasta and the close of the Bills season. (Wow, how about that inspired choice of GM? We need the Steinbrenners to take control).

It's funny, but the first song I heard this year was Elvis Costello doing - What's so funny about peace, love and understanding?

A theme song, perhaps?

Peace and love, peace and love - it'll cure any hangover.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Send Off it Deserved

Kicked it into high gear last night and gave '09 the send off it deserved. Plenty of drinks with some great friends - a few laughs - and a few more drinks.

Good riddance '09.

Better things to come.

Today is rehydration day.

Happy New Year!

Back at it again tomorrow.

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