Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tunnel of Love - Revisited

23 years ago today my buddy Rosie called me to tell me he had two extra Springsteen tickets for a Saturday before Easter show in Long Island. This is how the conversation went:

Rosie: Two extra seats - great seats.
Me: Can't be done.
Rosie: I'll call you back in 15 minutes.

I tried the airlines - way out of my price range. I called a buddy, Tom, and told him of the offer.

"Let's go," he said.

The phone rings.

Rosie: What time you going to be here?
Me: About six.
Rosie: See you then.

Tom and I drove the eight hours - listening to Bruce all the way. We met up with Rosie, listened to Bruce in the parking lot over a couple of beers. The seats were great. Bruce came onstage at 7:45 dressed in a tux.

At 12:45 Rosie turned to me and said - "Don't clap for him anymore, maybe he'll leave."

Bruce left the stage 15 minutes later, and Tom and I got back in the car and drove all the way to Buffalo - straight thru - listening to Bruce.

I arrived at my parents home at ten minutes to 11:00 in the AM.

"Ah, good, you made it in time for church," my mother said.

And I went to church.

Two weeks after the Tunnel of Love show Bruce split with his wife, and hooked up with his bandmate, and the rest is history.

Not sure why that all popped into my head today, but whenever anyone asks me what was the best Bruce show I ever saw, I think of that trip, and how crazy it would be to consider doing something like that as a 45 year old man.

I can't hardly even stay up until 7:45 these days!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My Wife - the Saint

Over the course of the last month my wife has returned to school as she begins her studies to be a nurse.

The course work is rough, getting back into school mode is difficult, there's still too much for all of us to do around here, and the boys....man, the boys are getting to be real comic geniuses.

The first set of tests came back for Kathy over the course of the last two days. She received a 100 and a 98.

"What question did you miss?" I asked.

She just offered a frown. Being a good mom, she decided to turn it into a life lesson.

"You see what happens when you work hard?" she lectured Jake and Sam. "Every night I study whether I want to or not, or whether there's a good show on or not. The studying comes first."

The boys were basically silent for a split-second. But just a split-second.

"Don't you want to be like me?" Kathy asked.

"Yeah," Sam replied. "I want to be just like you - I wanna' be going to school when I'm 45 years old."

I spit my drink.

Kathy laughed too.

I told you she's a saint.

Monday, March 29, 2010

There's Another Woman (or Two)

Despite my constant complaining about Cheetah Woods and that idiot that married Sandra, I must take the time to confess that there's another woman in my life - maybe two - sorry Kathy - I didn't want to have to tell you like this.

I went to bed late last night, thinking of them and the suggestions that they made about what I should do, and I woke up in tears this morning knowing that I'd had a breakthrough, and that everything would be perfect in how I wanted to make it happen.

Now for all of you writers and want-to-be-writers out there you've probably already figured out that I am not cheating on my wife - this is about my book editor and my publisher.

On Friday evening, wondering what I was going to do for the weekend, back hurting still, not feeling like having a drink, I found my manuscript waiting for me inside the door.

As is custom, I ran upstairs, and read through it - counting the number of marks on each page (and there are hardly ever any clean pages) and I read what the editor had to say. We'd worked together so many times before, perhaps she'd be nice!

Uh, not really.

There were some serious concerns, but nothing I couldn't handle, so she said. Blah, blah, blah - how I hated her and her quick moving pencil.

But I did wake up with tears in my eyes this morning...and not because of the back (which absolutely sucks by the way)...but because my wonderful editor had been right again, and like my publisher, had pointed me in the right direction.

I grabbed a loose sheet of paper and jotted down my notes...notes that will be turned into the final chapter in Oh, Brother- The Life and Times of Jeff Fazzolari.

While my wonderful wife has nothing to ever worry about, I must say, sorry Kathy.

These women just get me.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Just Let 'Em Go

In recent days there has been a story making the rounds about a girl who wants to go to her prom - with another girl. The young lady is fighting hard to allow her same-sex partner the rights the other children have in getting ready for the big day.

Believe it or not, I was able to finagle a date for each of my proms back in high school. I was thrilled to go too, enjoying all the perks of being a grown-up. I recall being nervous meeting the girls parents as well as being extremely afraid of how my father might act. I made it through each time.

During the prom, I acted like a gentleman, wore a flower pinned to my chest, stood proud for the photos, and danced like a mentally-challenged chimp to the collection of Air Supply songs being played. The prom was good for my self-respect, offered me confidence, and I was happy to accept a couple of kisses on the cheek for my hundreds of dollars of investment. I did not develop a long-term relationship with either of my dates, but I grew from there.

That's all a prom is - a chance for the kids to go out and act like adults. They don't have to partake in all of the acts of an adult, they can just play pretend.

And now this - gays want to go with their partners. The adults in the crowd don't know what to do with such a dilemma.

Just let 'em go.

There are lawyers involved now. The two girls involved feel like they are working on liberating the world for gays everywhere. Their faces are on CNN and the Net. They are being ridiculed, signalled out, and mocked.

I guess I don't get it. Wasn't it just last century when we did the same thing to women, blacks, and a variety of other minorities? Who is right and who is wrong on all of these issues? Who can say for sure?

Who or what or why you are gay isn't of great concern to me. If you choose to live your life dressed in a burlap bag with red and green hair, it shouldn't affect me personally, right?

I know that from time to time I may seem to pass judgement in the writing of this blog - sometimes it is for comical purposes and other times I'm just not thinking straight, but despite my hundreds and hundreds of opinions, I don't figure that I have everything figured out. I'm just a slob trying to make do like everyone else.

I just know when a situation should be diffused quickly. If the school had allowed the two to attend the prom they most likely would have suffered through the awkward night like the rest of us. They may have gleamed a bit of self-confidence, shared a few laughs, and strengthened their lives for years to come. The slow songs would have been played (they still don't play Air Supply do they?)some kids would've snuck booze in, others would've pledged their eternal love...and the night would have ended harmlessly, hopefully, and everyone would've moved on.

Now there's hate in that school and town. People pass judgement, and take the high moral ground. The girls are most likely devastated, and why? Does this town think that their stand will end homosexuality?

Sometimes the kids are smarter than the adults.

(How's that for passing judgement?)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Bluer Than Blue

Well, I'm bluer than blue, sadder than sad - you're the only life this empty room has ever had - Life without you is going to be - bluer than blue.

Remember that song?

It was popular about twenty years ago written and performed by someone named Michael Johnson

I don't have to miss no tv shows, I can't start my whole life over - change the number on my telephone, but the nights will sure be colder 'cause I'm bluer than blue, sadder than sad - you're the only life...

Great song. I just happened to catch it on Sirius love songs because E Street Radio was playing a scratchy concert version of Bruce doing Twist and Shout - sorry Bruce, that's Lennon's song.

I used to walk thru record stores asking anyone if they had a cassette tape of the guy - then I graduated to CD - asked some more - couldn't find him in the folk section, pop section, or any section - always wanted the song for my collection.

...I can run through the house screaming, and no one will ever hear me. I really should be glad, but I'm...

You can hear the angst in the guy's voice - he's really going to miss her. He's not chasing her, mind you, and somehow you get the feeling he'll adjust, but there's little hope that he'll ever be happy again.

Awesome communication - whether you like that type of music or not...and it is simply done, wonderfully arranged, and we never heard from the guy again. Perhaps he's still running through the house screaming, trying to be glad.

Bluer than blue. Sadder than sad. You're the only life this empty room has ever had. Life without you is going to be - Bluer than blue.

Man, and then I wonder about why I love to write so much. 26 simple words written in that last excerpt - each one in the perfect spot to convey a world filled with hurt, love, confusion, despair, even hopefulness. I defy you not to feel something!

It doesn't help that I feel it too. missing someone is a lonely proposition and we've all been there.

How can I find a copy of that for the Ipod?

Any helpers? I'd pay Michael Johnson for it. He deserves to be paid. Poor guy.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Hands of Stone

So...at least I had my NCAA pools going for me...I was really looking forward to a weekend of watching the games and barking at everyone who'd listen that I was sooooooo smart and that I'd win money again.

All I needed out of last night's four games was a Syracuse win. Everything else was just a distraction. Putting the Syracuse game in the bank by ten o'clock would allow me to sleep easy, and wait for the rest of a great weekend.

Ten minutes into the game they were down 12-1 - they looked like they were all playing with stones tied to their hands - the ball would hit them and bounce off.

Of course, my kids were beside me laughing it up, reminding me that I am indeed a little slow.

An aside here, I swear I have my children believing that as a nine-year old I starred in the NBA as a white kid from West Virginia who made the Lakers.

"How come I can't find your name in the record books when I Google it?" Sam said.

"I went under an alias," I said. "I was only nine so I had to lie about my name and age."

"What was your name then?" Sam asked.

"Jerry West," I replied.

Twenty minutes later, Sam was back upstairs.

"You weren't Jerry West," he said.

"I swear it's true," I answered. "I was in the NBA just after I came back from Viet Nam."

Sam studied me for a long moment. I could see the wheels turning. How could it possibly be true?

"I'll just ask Grandma," he said.

Anyway...Syracuse lost. My pool went from being the number one contender to being just a piece of scrap paper. My entire weekend was lost to the Butler Freaking Bulldogs.

I swear, I was going to try and behave. Just basketball. No Jamesons, grey goose, or beer.

Now what the hell do I do? The hands of stone did me in?

What would Jerry West do in this situation?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Grey Matter Everywhere

My head is about to explode.

Okay, I had time to read three papers this morning- I was teaching a class and needed to do something while they were watching movies.

I just have a few questions:

1). How can you cheat on Sandra? Seriously, with a bunch of women, sometimes even when she was in the same building as you? Or while she was financing your existence, or winning an Academy Award? Or thanking you as the man who had her back? Disgusting. Not anyone's business, but I defy you not to read it.

2). A couple in Buffalo on the verge of celebrating their 68th wedding anniversary...sounds like a great story...cops found her dead and him suffering from a self-inflicted wound of some sort. Gives new meaning to the joke about the old couple having breakfast:
"What do you want to do today?" she asks cheerfully.
"Kill you," he replies.

Horrible.

3). Congrats on passing Obamacare - here's a rock through your window - glass was breaking in all the Democratic offices through the land. There was anger in regard to the abortion bill attached.

So, let me get this straight - we don't want government interference unless it deals with choosing to keep a child or not - then interference is necessary - but if you keep the kid, we can't promise you that you can take care of it if it becomes sick. So, essentially, we must force you to have the kid and then watch him die.

Yeah, I know, personal responsibility, but not everyone is afforded the same opportunities.

4). Sarah Palin has a reality series coming out - she is angling for 1.2 million per episode. Good for her - I'm sure she has top of the line healthcare. God Bless her, she earned it by governing a town the size of my high school.

5). I told you I wasn't in a good mood.

6). And yeah, about that healthcare - wasn't it supposed to be a negotiated law? Why do we have it split right down the middle? Why couldn't it have waited until there was a compromise?

Or does it come right down to the fact that there will never be a law that can ever be discussed intelligently? That probably goes more against the Democrats, but who the hell really knows?

7). And that's why I didn't read anything but the sports for the last ten months. I can't afford the grey matter.

Poor Sandra.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Our Bright Future...

...is in the past (stealing a line from Tracy Chapman)

And that line has been fluttering through my head as I get continually pounded by people who want to know how I feel about Obama giving our counrty away.

I suppose my mostly liberal slant in the past bothers others. Frankly, I could care less.

Point One - Healthcare has been a problem since Roosevelt - every president except for W.Bush took a shot at it - Nixon had a plan that was more liberal than Obama's but didn't get it through because he lied.

Clinton tried - couldn't get it through because he lied.

W. Bush didn't try - he was too busy lying.

So there we have it - Obama hasn't been caught lying yet - he got it through.

He was creative in getting it through the House and Senate - sort of like the war vote - but W did have some backing then because he lied about his info.

Point two - Thirty-Six million Americans need healthcare - nothing worse than watching a loved one die because you can't afford the medicine - those being critical should think of that - we're all riders on this train.

Point Three - What about the future? Our kids will be paying for this forever - yeah, they will - just like they will pay for the grand search for weapons of mass destruction - that cost more, didn't it? Whatever - our bright future is in the past.

Point Four - We could have handled paying for this if we didn't have to bail out the corporations that had members stealing money hand over fist. Lying, cheating and lying some more galls me more than anything.

Point Five - I ain't all for this thing - I don't have enough information - I hear it's a massive bill and I most likely won't ever read it (much like the members of Congress in that regard) - I have to have faith in the leaders, but that hasn't worked in the past, right.

I am skeptical. I am tired of busting my ass every day to help those getting freebies. Obama hasn't completely won me over, but he hasn't lost me yet - I'll get there with the first big lie.

Point Six - I will continue to vote and hope and try to trumpet the country at every turn.

I only have a couple of real wishes that I need fulfilled - 1). No more Bush Presidents and 2). No Sarah Freaking Palin.

Other than that - the NCAA's are still going on and all four of my final four teams are left - rumor has it I'm doing way better than Obama.

He picked Kansas.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Lost

Don't you hate the feeling of losing something that you just had a moment before? Of course, we can put it into context of the big picture and understand that we are losing things from the first day on, but I'm talking something that you adjusted in your pocket, then couldn't find.

I was on a job today, climbed up five floors of scaffold, checked my pocket to make sure I had all the crap I usually carry - phone - check, chew - check, pen - check, digital camera - check - all good as I reached the top.

I even did a deep bend, surprised that I didn't feel any more back pain - things were good. I discussed a couple of things with one of the owners, ducked under a scaffold frame, felt the back twist, thought about whether or not the crap had shifted in my pocket. Yet, the guy was moving fast, unencumbered by degeneration of the neck discs, pockets empty.

I followed. He was talking but I was thinking that I had another chiropractor appointment set - the back would be snapped back again. He tripped over a loose piece of plywood, I tripped too. Did the crap in my pocket shift?

Jumped back in the car and headed for the next site - phone - check, chew - check, pen - check, digital camera - digital camera? - digital camera? Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?

And there's the feeling - lost - I lost the damn camera!

So where do I start looking? In the car, of course. I check the glove compartment that I haven't opened since I bought the car. I check the inside of my hard hat. How in the hell would it get in there?

I think about the last time that I held it so tenderly, my finger on its little button, and I get a little misty thinking that it may have plunged to its death fifty or so feet from the scaffold platform. It was such a nice camera.

I get down on my knees and check the seats under my car. And suddenly I'm thinking about life without my silver camera. I had a few site photos on there - reports will be a lot easier to write tonight. I head back to the job. There's no one there other than a security guard walking around.

"Anyone turn in a camera?" I ask. I'm praying for St. Anthony as I kick around the grounds. Rumor is St. Anthony helps people find things. He shakes his head - no - my eyes are definitely growing misty.

I head to the foot of the scaffold - nothing. I feel like calling its name - but I forgot that I never really gave it a name. I should've named him - I would have called him Flash.

Head to Office Max - feel bad for my lost companion. Buy a new camera - it's black - I immediately call him Blackie and press his little button to make sure he works. He's all right - just not Flash.

Where do things go when they're lost? Just gone, I suppose.

Perhaps someone will find Flash and nurse him back to health. More likely, he will lay there and get rained on, and swept up into the next dumpster.

Yet I will remember him - I swear!

(Ok - after reading this one over - I may have officially lost it.)

Flash?

Blackie?

(God Help Me)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Going Along with the Crowd

Went to the NCAA games yesterday here in lovely Buffalo, and it was a first-rate event. Saw Syracuse rock Gonzaga to keep the dream alive, and sort of marveled at the crowd watching the game.

The college atmosphere is crazy with fans seeming to be more impassioned than a pro crowd, and the people watching is fun.

First off, you have the fan who is ready to scream at anything. He'll shout out at the refs, a bad pass, a missed free throw. This sort of guy believes that no matter what his team will eventually fail, and that it is due to a conspiracy that has been elaborately designed to aggravate him.

"That's a foul!" this middle-aged man dressed in West Virginia garb screamed. There was no chance that the ref could hear him, but he shouted nonetheless.

"Jesus Christmas!" he shouted a little while later.

I actually laughed out loud at that one.

Then you have the guy who comes to the game for one reason only - to eat the over-priced food. I saw a man with nachos, two hot dogs, a slice of pizza, and a hat filled with ice cream. He was about the size of Gonzaga too, and it was all gone in a matter of minutes. (No, it wasn't me).

Finally you have the fan who's entire existence seems to rise and fall with the fortunes of the team. As the game wound down and Missouri missed free throw after free throw, there was a man in a Kansas City Royals hat holding his face in his hands, and rhythmically shaking his head 'no'.

I imagine that was a long-ass ride home.

I didn't do a lot of open rooting. I would like to see the 'Cuse do well, but mostly because I picked them in one of my brackets. I find it funny to analyze the emotional attachment of something that one has no control over. The sun will still come up if the team doesn't make it to the Sweet Sixteen, right?

Why would someone get so worked up over a game?

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to begin my preparations for the upcoming season where the 27-Time World Champion Yankees will defend their crown.

Hey, I didn't say I was above the lunacy.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Find My Face

Human Wheels spin 'round and 'round, while the clock keeps the pace. Human wheels spin 'round and 'round, help the light find my face.

Went out for awhile last night - had a few Jamesons - my wife says it was more than a few, but she's a freaking liar.

Woke up happy today - isn't booze supposed to be a depressant? Ah, well, maybe tomorrow I'll be back in my element.

Thing is, my buddy Terry sent me songs for the I-pod - good songs too, he knows his crap - and a World Series hat for the 27-TIME WORLD CHAMPION NEW YORK YANKEES - and it was right on time, as they say, as I'd been down in the dumps - isn't it cool to be one of the people who help other people? I don't know it all the time, but Terry does - thanks, pal.

And I got in my car this morning to retrieve the morning news, and the I-pod was playing the Mellencamp tune - Human Wheels, spin 'round and 'round.

I entered the house and said the following words to Kathy - "Man, if there's fifty better songs than that..."

Help the light find my face

And the world keeps on spinning, and we try to find a place, and through good friends, and good Irish whiskey, we struggle....

... and some days it seems ridiculous...and some days it feels right...and some days we want to curl up in the fetal position...and some days we try...

And it's all an eternal struggle to get the light to our face.

And some days friends, spouses, children, and siblings hold you down and force you to face the light.

Can't wait for the depressant to kick in.

I feel too good right now.

The best line in the song is with human-hindered eyes.

Human-hindered.

Indeed.

Help the light to my face.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Bet, Bet, Bet, Bet, Bet

Remember the old Flinstones cartoon when Fred becomes addicted to gambling and Barney needs to keep him away from the horse races?

Perhaps I get too much of my understanding of life from Fred and Barney, but Fred is obsessed running around yelling, "Bet, bet, bet, bet, bet."

That's the way it seems around here on the first two days of the NCAA Tourney.

It was Jeff's tradition to choose names from a hat and while we canned the idea, we got back to it this year with Sam and Uncle Chuck joining the party. It's a pure luck situation, but we put a little money on it to make it interesting.

So we got that.

Then we have the brackets that everyone is involved in. Year after year I fill them damn things out with one thing in mind - what if I get them all right?

By the end of the second game I'm usually 0 and 2.

Yet it's great fun. The red and black ink is flying around as the games draw to a close, and having the boys involved has made it interesting.

"I'm circling Duke," Sam said as they were three minutes into their game and had a 12-6 lead.

"You can't circle them yet," I said. "The game just started."

"Like they're going to lose," he said.

Yet that's the thing about the tourney - anything might happen. And while I couldn't tell you ten players in the thing from 65 schools, I can tell you what I need to happen in the 2nd and 3rd rounds so I can take home the money prize.

Bet, bet, bet, bet, bet

Are we doing a disservice to the children by allowing them to wager a little at the age of 9?

Nah, it's my money and they don't get to keep their winnings.

Not that they're going to win anyway...

...this is all about my bracket...

... I'm going to kick their butts.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sandy

Sandy, that waitress I was seeing lost her desire for me.

Isn't it something that the things that make you feel so alive are the very things that will tear you down?

I ask that question with the knowledge that last week I spent time pushing the buttons on a slot machine like a trained monkey while sipping glasses of Grey Goose.

I had full knowledge of the fact that there were better ways to spend my time, but still, I had fun and that was what I was after - consequences be damned.

Just finished reading the story about Sandra Bullock's husband saying he was sorry for cheating on her.

My poor, poor Sandy!

Back when she wanted to date me and spoke of marriage more than winning an Oscar, I explained that sometimes things just weren't meant to be, and now she's hurting.

Seriously, your wife is out making the film that is going to win her the academy award for best actress, and you can't keep it together long enough not to sleep with a porn star that comes into your shop?

The things that make you feel most alive...

Right under the article about my former love Sandy were the text messages from Cheetah Woods to one of his porn stars. In those texts, Cheetah talks about losing everything he has if he gets caught.

Well, he got caught.

... are the very things that will tear you down.

My wife and I laugh at the fact that Sandra Bullock and I have a thing for each other. Well, actually, it's more my thing for her.

A few years back I had a dream about Sandy after watching one of her movies, and I told my wife about it. Now, she brings home a movie, and when I scoff at it, she says, "Your girlfriend is in it."

Well,maybe it won't be so funny any more now that Sandy is free again. Maybe there's another dream there for the taking!

Nah,the hell with it. There's plenty in my life to make me feel alive.

And when there isn't there's goose and the casino.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Taking A Stab At It

With the I-pod finally loaded, (thanks to a big assist from the kids),and the back calmed down a bit (still not all the way there), and the newest river in front of the Fazzolari's to cross, (trying to get to the rivers just beyond it), I finally had the chance to catch up on a little reading.

As I do each morning, I went to the New York newspapers, and caught a glimpse of a familiar name, Emmanuel Young, a fine writer who shares a publisher with me. Young's book, The Psalms of a Warrior's Heart, was published through Sterling House, and like all of the books published there - it's a great read. (See how I subtly told you all of my books are great?)

Anyhow, I saw that Emmanuel was about to take a stab at writing the tell-all book from former wife swapper, Jamie Czerniawski, who was also an alleged husband-stabber after a run-in with her soon-to-be divorced husband.(She beat the rap).

It caught my attention not only because Emmanuel was about to handle a real sensitive subject, but because there seems to be an awful lot of violence between man and woman, doesn't there?

I can't imagine getting that upset with my beautiful wife. I can't imagine that despite all of my best efforts to drive her crazy that I could lead her to stab me. There has to be an awful lot of craziness leading up to the point, right?

My potential jury duty case was about a guy and gal who couldn't get along. I recently read that he was convicted of stabbing her with a barbecue fork. A freaking barbecue fork! How does that go down?

Her: Honey, the potatoes are done, how are you coming with the hamburgers?
Him: Not there yet!
Her: That's because all you do is suck beer and watch sports. I told you to start those earlier. Now the potatoes are going to be mush.
Him: Stop nagging me!
Her: Stop drinking!
Him: Stop sleeping with my best friend!
Her: Shut your @$%&*& mouth!
Him: I've had it! Come here, I'm going to put you on the grill!

Yes, Emmanuel Young has the unenviable task of trying to sort out the bitter feelings of a divorcing couple.

Perhaps Czerniawski should have stayed wife-swapped.

Oh well, writing a tell-all-book about surviving domestic abuse is a lot better than being skewered like a kabob.

(If you have the chance check out The Psalms of a Warrior's Heart, it is so much better than reading the daily news delivered to your doorstep!)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise

My poor wife shares her birthday with St. Patrick's Day, and if that isn't enough the buzz around our house is all about the NCAA Tourney. We have all filled out our brackets and paid our money, and are anxiously awaiting the schedule of the games.

But first, we must celebrate!

Happy Birthday to My Beautiful Wife!

As anyone who reads this blog knows, it ain't easy dealing with me on a day-to-day basis.

The highs, the lows, the obsessive-compulsive behavior, the deadlines both real and imagined, the opinions, Dear God the opinions!

Yet my wife is the best at just shrugging it off, entertaining the notions, and dismissing the garbage.

She is even better at making sure that we are all safe from harm each and every moment.

You haven't lived until you've received eleven straight messages, while you're sitting in a meeting, from a frantic wife who has imagined that you've driven off the road.

Yet today isn't about finding fault!

It's about saying Happy Birthday to a woman with soul.

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise! Come on open your eyes and let your love shine through.

Happy Birthday.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Setting a Goal


This woman has set a personal goal. All of your best motivational speakers tell you to focus on what you want to do, and then no matter what stands in your way, get the job done.

Problem being...this woman wants to become the fattest woman in the world.

I'm not sure how much she weighs now or how much she needs to gain to achieve her goal because the newspaper article showed her weight in kilos and I was too lazy to learn the translation.

I'm guessing she weighs, oh say,.....a lot. A half-ton. She needs to gain about a quarter ton to reach her desired weight.

A few years ago she became the Guinness Record holder in the fattest woman to ever give birth - there were thirty doctors at her delivery - and please don't get me started as to who was there for the conception...

...but without naming names...I'm thinking I might have went to college with him.

The diet she is on calls for 12,000 calories per day. Now I like to eat, but I'm guessing I couldn't do even half that even on a pasta Sunday.

I can't believe that this is how this woman wants to get famous, but here's hoping she makes it and can celebrate with a half a cow or something.

Makes you feel less guilty about sneaking those couple of Oero's, doesn't it?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Suck

Simply the word of the day, and today's overall theme. Hopefully there will be something more to report tomorrow.

Just say it with me today.

Suck.

Monday.

Cloudy.

People calling.

People texting.

I-pod not done.

More rough health news.

Suck

MRI Scheduled.

Back still hurts.

15 hour day.

All together now!

SUCK!

How's that for an inspirational post?

And you thought I had answers for this catastrophe of life?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The I-Pod Obsession

I've always been so protective of my music. I never wanted to change how I bought it, how I kept it organized, and which CD's I used and when.

Then my sister went and blew it all by bringing her I-pod with her on vacation last year. As we watched the waves, we listened to her music, just one song after another, beer after beer, the i-pod on shuffle, laughing at how great the music was and wondering if we'd ever get out of the sun long enough to even help with dinner.

It took me a year to break down. Well, actually, my wonderful wife picked up the I-pod for me.

"How many songs can you put on it?" she asked.

"You better get the biggest one they got," I said. "I have hundreds of CD's."

And the I-pod arrived a couple of days ago, and now, the obsession disorder is on overdrive, and thankfully, I'm not suffering alone. It seems Sam is similarly cursed.

For the past 48 hours we've been in front of the computer, downloading CD's and loading up the I-pod. The garbage bag of remaining cd's is still fairly full, but we continue to work.

For the record - nearly 400 Springsteen songs, followed close behind by efforts from Mark Knopfler.

I can't wait.

I can't sleep.

Download.

Mellencamp's next.

Then Tracy Chapman.

The Stones Collection.

God Help us!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bah! Call the 3 Seconds!

Went to Jake's playoff basketball game this morning, and I try to go to a few games, but get a little antsy. Coaches acting as if they are trying to win the championship, loud parents yelling at the rent-a-refs, and my boys trying hard to battle the things I gave them - glacier-like-foot-speed, and a vertical leap of about an inch and a half.

Yet I was pleasantly surprised with Jake's performance. He battled for every rebound, set screens, stole a couple of passes, and really worked hard. Plus he looked so tall out there. Hard to watch him play and not think of how fortunate he was to have a guardian angel and a staff of wonderful people at Women & Children's Hospital.

But for crying out loud, there was a gorilla of a kid playing on the other team. He jumped over every one's back to retrieve rebound after rebound, and he literally camped out in the lane under the basket.

"Watch the 3 seconds," I said very nicely one time down.

Jake's team was down by twelve when we walked in but had trimmed the deficit to two.

Man-child grabbed another rebound, put it up, missed, grabbed that rebound, missed again, and on and on, all the while standing directly under the basket.

"Three seconds!" I called out a little louder next time down the court.

I felt bad after doing it - I don't want to be one of those parents.

Four minutes left - down by five. One of Jake's teammates drills a long shot.

Now to stop Shaq on the other end. No chance. He pitches a freaking tent in the center of the lane and calls for the ball. The pass goes in high but he's like King Kong surrounded by the planes.

"Three freaking seconds!" Another parent calls out.

I want to hug him. Still, no whistle. The kid plays catch with the backboard for another minute or so before finally banking it in.

There's not enough time to win the game. I feel my blood boiling. I hate complaining about the refs. Hate it, hate it, hate it.

Jake comes off the court. I'm ready to console him, but he's all smiles. He played well and he knew it. He had fun doing it too.

"You worked hard out there," I said. "Too bad you guys aren't moving on."

"Yeah, whatever," he said.

The ref brushed by me in the hall. It was all I could do not to scream "Three Seconds!!!!" in his ear.

"Good game, ref," I said instead.

Perhaps I've finally grown up a little - it took me so long to grow up and such a short time to grow old.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Other Foot

Went to a job today where the contractor I was checking in on was installing an elevator in a building. I jumped into the conversation late as the elevator maintenance man was checking the emergency controls. The discussion seemed a little odd as one man seemed awfully concerned with how the alarm button could be reached.

"It's right there," I said. "Who could NOT reach it?"

"The guy who will be using this elevator doesn't have any arms," the man said. "He was in an accident."

"Oh, geez," I said, feeling like a complete ass.

Twenty minutes later I was on my way to another site but I couldn't stop thinking about that poor guy. Talk about sucking it up and toughing it out.

I was greeted by a group of guys working for a roofing contractor. Each guy asked me about my back and urged me to tell them about the accident on the Skyway. All but one guy. He was sort of sitting off to one side. I tried to give the comical version of the story, shrugging off the scary aspects of it.

"Remember that accident on Grand Island a couple of months back?" the young guy said.

I didn't want the conversation to go on. I remembered the accident and the horrific results.

"I lost my girl and my baby," he said. "It doesn't take more than a blink of an eye."

My heart was in my throat. The young man wanted to talk. The other guy's sort of shuffled away, but I stood listening, knowing that horrible feeling of just wanting to share for a minute.

His eyes were filled with tears as he told me about his girl and their son.

We spent another ten minutes or so just sharing grief. For the first time in a year, the shoe was on the other foot.

"Don't let the bad days run back-to-back-to-back," I said. "And I know that ain't easy, but praying, hanging with those that love you and Grey Goose helps."

"Captain Morgan has been picking me up every so often," he said.

Guys on construction sites don't hug, and we certainly didn't, but in just ten minutes of time, we shared grief, and I felt so much for him.

His life is just starting. His dreams were fresh, and he felt as if he were on a certain path.

And now it's a whole new path, and it's filled with shadows and doubt.

I added a couple of more people to pray for today.

Degenerating

Been battling the sore back and neck for weeks now. I can tell you a few things:

1). I like muscle relaxers.

2). My kids are big fans of telling me to suck it up and tough it out.

3). I'm getting old.

The X-rays came back and I looked them over noticing that my back looked all right to me. Then the doctor called to tell me that I have severe degeneration of discs in my neck. Wonderful.

The thing that gets me is that they used the word 'degeneration'. A cool, very descriptive word. I'm all about the language. Yet a word that truly makes you feel like a beaten-down man, right.

Well, the way I look at it, I've been degenerating since that first slap on the ass from the doctor, and I just recently gave up on my dream to be the starting left fielder for the 27-time WORLD CHAMPION NEW YORK YANKEES.

I will swing my golf club this year, no matter what, and I already have the power of a seventy-year-old man, so I will continue - who cares if I lose another twenty yards off of my ever-powerful 150-yard drives.

I can still beat the Grape Ape's I play with because I KEEP SCORE!

Years ago my father, somehow got a signed autograph from Rocky Marciano, who is like a patron saint for Italians. Good old Rocky signed it - "Keep Punching."

I intend to - degenerating or not.

Tell me that isn't a cool word - very scientific.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pass the Cheese Please

Just finished reading about a couple from New York who own a diner. It seems as if they are getting extra customers these days because of the potential new variety of cheese that people think might be on the menu.

You see, the couple has just had a baby, and as per custom the momma is serving up breast milk. The daddy has turned some of that breast milk into cheese, and there are rumors that it may turn up on the menu at the diner.

Mmmmm, breast milk cheese.

The proud parents and restaurant owners are denying that they are going to offer up the goods, but some of their friends have tried it.

"It tasted like pickles," one lady said adding that it wasn't very good.

Yet there are lines of people waiting to give it a whirl. The woman has been beaten down by all of the people offering to sample her breast milk. These are total strangers turned on by the chance to grab a slice of the cheese. Gross?

There are just so many jokes here and so many ways to go with this, but revulsion seems to be at the top of my list.

Can you imagine wanting to try breast milk cheese served by some woman that you've never met?

Can you even imagine wanting to try breast milk cheese served by your favorite woman?

"Nah, thanks anyway, I'll just eat the bread," might be my return line.

The health department has weighed in on the rumored new-item-on-the-menu saying that it should not be served because it may make people sick.

You think? Makes me want to skip breakfast just hearing about it.

"I've had it and the baby has had it, obviously," the father said. "We won't serve it at the restaurant but perhaps we'll have friends over and share it over a glass of wine."

Glad I'm not their friends.

That would have to be a strong freaking bottle of wine.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Through the Peephole

Ever since that Erin Andrews story I get a little paranoid walking around my hotel room in my delicates - what if someone is looking through the peephole at me as I prepare myself for the work day?

Imagine that poor bastard who looks in on me while searching for Erin Andrews. It would serve him right.

What is really getting to me is the bad behavior of people. I see they found two young girls murdered in California, and there was a horrific murder in my hometown of North Collins. So hard to imagine.

One of the other thoughts running through my head the last couple of days is how much I hate the Oscars and the self-congratulatory bullshit that goes along with that.

I usually never see one of the movies nominated and while this week I've been seeing a lot of Sandra Bullock, whom I used to date, I'm also seeing just as much of Moni'que who I also may have dated in college.

Just kidding, by the way. (Not about Sandra Bullock).

Yet they give their speeches, they all look great, and they are interviewed about their co-workers and they always kiss ass.

"Oh, it was such a pleasure to work with Sandra, she's so pretty, so professional, and such a wonderful person. In fact, one time she passed gas and it smelled like lilacs."

I hate that crap. I think about the waste of money. When I win my academy award I'm not even going to show up.

Unless Sandy goes with me.

Now if you'll excuse me I have to finish getting dressed for work - the guy outside the peephole is making some disturbing noises.

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Couple of Glimpses

I was sort of dreading the moment - the moment in the mass when the reader says - "We remember Jeffrey Fazzolari....

I shook my head in dismissal of the words, said a prayer, and turned to see all of the family members gathered.

Carrie Lynn was holding her son, Tony. He was smiling at her, making a funny face, and moments after the words hit my heart, he kissed Carrie, and hugged her tight. Carrie had a huge smile on her face.

I smiled too.

My wife, of course, was beside me. She wiped away a tear as she kissed me and offered me peace. Peace. Yeah, peace please...

Ten minutes later I was at the front of the church, waiting to take communion. My mother was handing out the host as a Eucharistic Minister in the other line. I was glad that I wasn't in her line because looking at the determination in her face, and knowing how much her heart was breaking...

I didn't want her to see the tears in my eyes.

It was too beautiful to consider. The faith, the hope, the love, the determination to keep going, and to stand in front of the church despite her anger at what happened.

My back felt better.

My heart felt better.

Too much sadness, but a glimpse into moving ahead. Steeling ourselves in the face of despair.

I'd forgotten to do that before.

God help us so we can continue to do that now.

Three strong women, showing me the way...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Bad Boys, Bad Boys

One of the benefits of having a sore back is that I get to lie around a bit. Who doesn't like being lazy from time-to-time?

I read a quote about John Mellencamp about the best thing about being rich and famous - he said he craved it because he gets a nap every day.

That certainly would be a benefit - that and the millions of dollars.

Yet I was laid up last night, Melky sharing the bed with me, the television on, and back-to-back episodes of Cops. Kathy even delivered a cold water to me after I cell-phoned down requesting it.

The second episode started with a cop explaining how he'd do his job for free, and that it was always exciting to be up and ready for what might come his way. Due to the miracle of television, ten seconds later he was on the ground wrestling with a real nasty looking guy over a crack pipe.

Not my idea of an exciting day, but thank God there are people willing to do that.

And I thought about my fascination with Cops and all the people they meet. Sometimes it's difficult to look at what happens night after night, day after day, week after week, and month after month. People just doing stupid, horrible things to one another. It makes you sick to watch, but it's tough to look away.

I find that I'm often rooting for the tazer. In fact, last night, the only words I spoke for a little while were, "Taze the bastard!"

There are also a great number of domestic battles - man beats wife, wife beats child, child beats dog, and on down the line.

And lies - God help me, the lies!

"What were you doing with a crack pipe in your pants?"

"These aren't my pants."

"They aren't your pants? You're wearing them!"

"Some guy snuck up behind me and put something in my pocket. I wasn't paying attention and I never looked at it."

"What did the guy look like?"

"He was tiny, and green, and he made funny noises as he flew away."

"You're under arrest."

"For what? I didn't do 'nuffin."

Pure entertainment, but as each half hour of the show passes, my heart aches a little.

All of it has become expected behavior in every city across this great land.

Whatcha' gonna' do when they come for you?

Friday, March 5, 2010

How's Everything?

Started the day at the doctors to have the back checked out again. The doctor laughed during the examination:

"Wow, I've never seen anyone with such a limited range of motion. You're about to snap like a rubber band."

Ah, that's good news.

"You need to take some time off of work," she said.

"Not happening," I answered.

I'm still an idiot, even after knowing that shit happens.

"Well, you at least need a muscle relaxer. I've never seen anything like it. You need a specialist."

I had a suggestion.

"Give me the muscle relaxer and I'll buy the grey goose," I said.

She acted as if I'd slapped her.

"Just kidding," I lied.

So, here I sit, or should I say lay, waiting for the muscle relaxer to kick in. I need a little more ice for my drink.

Just kidding.

Kathy would skin me if I even thought about mixing it up for fun.

"How's everything?" you ask.

"Wonderful!"

Try again tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Three Hundred Sixty Five Days


365 days since the unimaginable was fully imagined. An entire year awash with sadness and a dogged determination by those around me to help me hang on. A full calendar to appreciate the love of an absolutely wonderful wife and children, a legion of unbelievable friends, brothers and sisters beyond reproach, and people in the writing world who treated me as a family friend and not just a guy who can write a story.

And still...

It’s Not Supposed to Be

You’re supposed to be standing beside me as I roll a 3-foot putt by the hole, saying, ‘Ah, that’s a damn shame.’

You’re supposed to call me on the phone after winning a bet from me, telling me, ‘You’re so stuuuuuuuupid.’

You’re supposed to call me after I step off of live television and say, ‘I know the camera adds ten pounds, but how the hell many cameras did they have on you?’

You’re supposed to be here. We are two trapeze artists, and I stand with my wrist waiting for your wrist.

You’re supposed to be here for 40 more years, making fun of me, rooting the Yankees on, side-by-side as Bruce sings for us.

You’re supposed to be teaching me new recipes, and we’re supposed to compare notes on the wife and kids.

You’re supposed to be calling me every day, and getting me involved in all the scams.

You’re supposed to be inviting me to pick NCAA teams out of a hat.

You’re supposed to tell me, like you told me two days before you got sick, that I should enjoy life instead of trying to understand it.

You’re supposed to be hoisting your kids high, and teaching them all the best swear words.

You’re supposed to be here, so proud of me and our other brothers and sisters.

You’re supposed to call each of us on weekend mornings just to catch up.

You’re supposed to cook me unbelievable meals and laugh at how much I’m eating.

You’re supposed to think right along with me on every possible subject imaginable.

You’re supposed to be my best friend.

You’re supposed to be here, and hopefully in time, I’ll understand why you can’t.

My dear brother you left me with one comfort and that’s in knowing that I’ll always know how you feel about something and that’s because our hearts always beat to the same rhythm.

You’re supposed to be here helping me to move this mountain of grief.

You’re supposed to be.

And somehow, some way, some day, I know you will be.

Because, I could always count on you.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Justice For All

I took my jury duty assignment seriously. Well, as seriously as most. I postponed it twice, and feeling the threat of imprisonment cleared my schedule for my call in for yesterday. My number was called.

Feeling like cattle I herded with hundreds of others in a room where the coffee machine served hot water only. Feeling burned by the loss of 75 cents, I waited for my name to be called...and waited...and waited...and waited.

I talked to a couple of total strangers, saw a couple of old friends in the room, and was even thrilled that one of the Buffalo Bills was waiting on his name being called. At least they had to go through the same sort of crap.

I answered a few work calls, but the main thing on my mind was a father-son basketball game with my boy at the end of the day. Sore back and all, it was all I really wanted to accomplish. I'd promised him I would dominate him and his buddies.

Finally, just after ten I was summoned to a courtroom. There were about sixty of us headed to a room where ultimately 14 would be asked to serve.

The judge began by giving us a civics lesson. I nearly raised my hand to tell him I watched Judge Judy nearly every night and that I was familiar with it all. Yet I sat back and listened, to one lame-ass excuse after another as to why someone wouldn't be able to serve.

"I'm too wishy-washy," one woman said. "I really don't have a mind of my own. I would go along with the crowd."

"I think I know the victim," another lady said. When she was quizzed about her neighborhood it turned out she was about 120 miles away from where the alleged crime took place.

And everyone and her brother knew a cop, or hated a cop, or loved a cop, or thought of being a cop.

By the time lunch had ended (a great assorted sub) we were no closer than when we'd started, but the number of people in the room had dwindled to about thirty. I still hadn't been called.

My back stiffened as I waited and I stretched out on the empty chair in front of me. A freaking cop told me I couldn't have my legs on a chair. One after another the people were questioned and excused, and it occurred to me that most of those gathered were unbelievably uninteresting. Some of them couldn't read the questionnaire, others listed woodworking, or snowboarding as their main interests.

Not for me to judge, but the one guy who was about to be judged also caught my attention. I wondered if he understood the consequences of his actions and how his alleged stupidity had an effect on hundreds of people who just wanted to play basketball with their sons, or get back to woodworking, or snowboarding.

By 4 PM, we were down to ten people in the pen and just 7 jurors seated for the trial. I called home and listened to Sam who wanted to tell me he'd score over me.

"I'm trying to get there," I said.

Finally, at 4:20 I was called to the pit - the chairs were a lot more comfortable. I buzzed through the questionnaire but was drilled about the books. The judge asked the lawyers what they thought of the three of us that were left. One of the lawyers requested they step into another room.

"They didn't like one of us," I said.

They returned as I checked my watch. If I had to come back tomorrow that was fine, but I needed to lace up my sneakers.

"You're all dismissed," the judge said. "We'll try and fill the jury again tomorrow."

So, off I went, feeling as if it had all been a colossal waste of time. I felt a little rejected too - I could have found that guy guilty.

Yet twenty minutes later, I limped toward the basket with my son guarding me. I took a short jumper that swished through the net - "It's going to be like rain on your head," I told him.

Moments later, I grabbed a rebound under our basket and pretending to make an outlet pass, I tossed it straight to Sam who banked it home and immediately got in my face.

"Did you hear the sound of the net?" he asked. "Whap!"

And finally, after a long day, it was justice for all.

Monday, March 1, 2010

And Some People Eat Ragu

The plan started on Saturday morning. Given the fact that I wasn't working on anything new writing-wise, I had to do something to pass the time, so I started on the sauce for Sunday dinner.

Being that I had plenty of time, I relished the fact that I was cutting up garlic and onions and mixing it with the basil and olive oil.

I defrosted the ribs, broiled them, cut up beef chunks, put eggs in boiling water, and waited for the aroma of the oil and garlic to fill the room.

"Cook it slow and don't burn the garlic," I remember the greatest chefs I've ever met whispering in my ear. I thought of Dad doing the same thing every Sunday morning, and considered that Jeff perfected it.

I opened the tomatoes, mixed the meatballs, thinking of my sister Carrie nailing the mixture every time, and did my best.

The aroma of the cooking sauce filled the house for the next 24 hours. My first thought on Sunday morning was to put it back on simmer, and then I did the most important part. I texted a few friends and asked if they'd like to join us for the pasta and the Gold-Medal Hockey game.

We ate in between the first and second periods. My first spoonful alerted me to the fact that the sauce was perfect.

"My God, it's great," someone said.

"You should bottle this," someone else mentioned.

Every forkful went down easy. I had a couple of meatballs, a piece of Italian bread, a bowl of salad, and a few ribs. I ate past what I needed to eat and into that sweet area of comfort where shit is starting to hurt. My buddies were right there with me.

Unfortunately, the third period of the hockey game was somewhat diminished. When Parise scored to tie it up with 24 seconds left no one was able to jump in the air.

"It feels like it's four in the morning," my buddy said. "I'm not going to make it to eight o'clock."

The clean-up was rough, but everyone helped - the worst part of cooking sauce is the film it leaves in the sink.

When Canada scored in overtime, there was a collective groan, but a sense of relief as well - it was now time to rest.

And the best part is that there's still plenty left for Wednesday's dinner.

Dilly Dilly

If the wintry blast of this weekend is any indication, I’m going to be watching a lot of television. I don’t want to drive on snowy roads ...