Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Anniversary! Work Tomorrow!

The victory of success is half won when one gains the habit of work.

So, the week off is coming to a close. Let's do the tally: five rounds of golf. I'm not ready for the tour - three-putted everything yesterday, but good fun with good friends, a few cold beers, and a tan that makes me look like Buddha, as one buddy put it. Didn't worry about anything other than where the ball was going off the tee. The weather was absolutely perfect as well. I couldn't have ordered more blue skies or sunny days - perhaps someone was watching out for me there.

Plenty of time with the boys, as well as my parents, siblings and the in-laws. We had a great birthday party, nearly every night of watching baseball, some good meals, and arguments about the state of the Sabres and Bills. We shot some hoops - no small feat at 45 years old - and cleaned up the yard. Sam and I planted the garden together, and he wondered why I just didn't buy the tomatoes instead of getting dirty.

And I remember my father telling me that a lot of life was just showing up and doing your job. He explained that if I was there and at least half-willing to work, I'd do all right. I believe he was driving me to a concrete pour when he explained it all.

"Just buying a tomato is easier," Sam said.

Easier, sure, but I tried to explain being proud of getting something done. Sam helped and I'm grateful for that, but the 'I want it right now' life that we lead is disconcerting.

That's why I'm so thrilled to be going back to work tomorrow. Thank God I have a job to go to, and live in a free country where I can choose what it is I want to do. I think of that a lot through Memorial Day. I saw a couple of soldiers at Fort Drum last week, and we got to talking about the weather.

"You think it's hot here," the one pimple-faced kid said. "Try summering in Iraq in full uniform."

We both laughed. "No thanks," I said. "But thanks for doing that for us."

The kid shook my hand and called me sir. I can't imagine that sort of job, but we're the home of the brave because of kids like that.

And then...to top it all off...today is my 13th wedding anniversary. We still have two years on the current contract, and last year, feeling so happy and confident, I asked for and was granted a five-year extension, so I'm signed into this until 20 years.

"Twenty and out," a buddy of mine used to say about his own marriage that dissolved. "It was like a murder sentence."

Well, not mine - Happy Anniversary to my beautiful wife - the 13 years breaks the record of my second longest relationship by 12 years and 364 days.

Have a great day - the sun is shining again!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

My Two Cents

As if my opinion counts for anything...

I thought Crystal was a better singer than Lee. Now mind you, I didn't watch the show after the first two or three performances, but after hearing Crystal sing once I declared the contest over. In my infinite wisdom I told my wife to stop watching because it wouldn't be close.

It reminds me of golfing with my brother once and arguing with him over which club I should use. I was convinced I could get it to the green with a three-iron.

"You're going to end up in the center of the pond," he said.

"You'll see," I answered.

I swung, and of course, ended up dead center in the water. Feeling completely spent and knowing what was coming, I turned to Jeff.

"Don't you ever get sick of being wrong?" he asked.

Yeah. I Do.

The Gary Coleman story is also nothing but a tragedy. That little guy was spiraling out of control. I even wrote about him after a recent arrest, but he had such a battle all through his life. What a shame. He was a funny little guy.

Where is 'Drill, Baby Drill!' now?

Remember Sarah Palin screaming those words and bashing Obama for being slow on the drilling trigger?

How can she now claim, after the accident that Obama is a shill for big oil?

See, that's what galls me about all politicians. They check to see which way the wind is blowing and then release an opinion that way. If you were yelling 'Drill Baby Drill' then, you can't be yelling about our disregard for the environment now. Ridiculous.

Ah well, as Rush so succinctly pointed out the oil isn't a big deal because the ocean is huge and we have seven of 'em. Why worry about a few thousand gallons a day?

What else?

Oh, I read an article about a man and women being busted for having sex on the edge of a red carpet gathering in NYC last night. There were 64 cameras there to capture the result. How does that conversation begin?

A few years ago while construction workers were re-doing the Bills Stadium one of the guys brought his girlfriend to the fifty-yard line where they had sex as about 500 workers looked on. There was another story about a couple doing it in a New York church and being busted by the priest.

In the words of Mellencamp, "He made that story up. There ain't no girl like that."

Well, evidently there are girls like that. Fathers everywhere must be so proud.

I do know one thing for sure; I don't want 500 people, or 64 cameras, or the priest watching me perform in that regard...

... and that's one thing I'm certainly not wrong about.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Rode Hard...Put Away Wet

One of my college buddies always has loved saying that about a particular type of girl. Over and over, I'd hear him utter the phrase and he'd always laugh after he finished saying it.

I thought about it this morning when I struggled to get up out of bed. My bones were aching a little from four rounds of golf in 7 days. Then again, that's a lot of swings.

Yet what really brought it to mind was because I shared dinner with my buddy, his wife and their beautiful family. 2/5ths of the beautiful family is a set of twins who are just four years old.

"I'm almost five," the beautiful girl said. "Soon, I'll be five real soon."

"And then you'll be twenty-five and then you'll be forty-five, just like that," I said.

My buddy laughed. "Wait a minute," he said.

And wait a minute is right. The energy of two young children is certainly contagious. The grace and curiosity that they deliver to every setting is invigorating. I'd forgotten about that type of energy as my own children are on their way to be ridden hard. Or so they think.

Yet the buzz around the dinner table was tangible. It was something you could hold close with both hands and wrap around your heart. There were no thoughts as to 'I shouldn't do this, or I can't act like that.'

The children were experts at behaving, mind you, and they ate their dinners like a couple of truck drivers, but the excitement in their eyes was a well-timed treat.

So, as I put my aching legs on the floor this morning I was buoyed a bit by the excitement that these kids showed in just being alive, feeling secure in their own skin, and the smiles that they brought to the table. Grace. A pure, shining example of grace.

The checklist of items that needed to be done worked its way through my mind. Is it possible to get a bounce back in the step when you feel like you should be sequestered in the barn.

It's been a relaxing week. I've been rode hard, but seeing the life in those dazzling sets of eyes, it feels as if someone took their time in putting me away properly.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sifting Through the Dust...

...of fools gold and looking for a sign.

People pay an awful lot of money to vacation in this type of weather. I haven't spent much more then green fees and so far, so great.

My idea for the break was to get as far away from my normal, messed up thinking. No routines, no Howard, do whatever comes naturally sort of. Just relax!

Today I headed to my parents home and helped out around their massive, beautiful yard. It's a lot for them to keep up with, and despite my basic ineptness, I can do a few things. I helped put away the pool cover, put up the screen for the garage, cleaned the garage, raked the yard, and put some things away. All good work, but the heat was a killer. Got a real bonus going to lunch with my mother and having an expertly cooked burger that was the size of the cook's head. (And that's a big head).

I headed for home thinking of an ice cold beer, but the backyard was annoying me so I mowed it in the scorching sun. Now the beer wasn't an option but a necessity. I put the I-pod on, stretched out in a chair, removed my shirt (calm down ladies) and called in my order. Sam answered on the first ring.

"Where are you?" he asked.
"In the backyard. Bring me a beer, and bring some water for the dogs."

Minutes later, Bruce singing in my ear, the perfect blue sky above. I sipped the beer and watched the dogs playing in the yard. Birds flew overhead, and the trees moved in the breeze. I watched each bird cross the brilliant sky, just thinking of life. And Bruce sang.

I was out in the desert just doing my time, sifting through the dust of fool's gold and looking for a sign. Holy man said, 'Hold on, brother, there's a light up ahead.

"Hold on brother," I whispered.

My beer was empty.

I called the waiter again. Different waiter - Matthew - same result. "Where are you?"

"Backyard. Beer me." So relaxed.

This time I was delivered a pan that I normally boil water in for the pasta. There were three Labatt Blue's buried in ice.

"Saves time," Matt said.
"Perfect."

From Bruce to Mellencamp to Neil Young to Jackson Browne, 10,000 Maniacs to the Stones and back on through.

Birds overhead, dogs checking in, sun beating down.

Kathy opened the window a floor above me. "What're you doing?"

"Relaxing with my shirt off," I said.

"Oh, it's all I can do to not jump out the window to get near you," she said.

My wife is funny.

...didn't figure out anything, but enjoyed the sifting process.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

We Need A Man Around the House

When I was young there were plenty of tasks that needed to be done around the big house on the hill. For the most part, I wasn't allowed to do much more than what is called the grunt work. I certainly know my way around the garden, can lift a decent amount of weight, and I had the work ethic to be a real good union laborer back when my back was strong.

Yet it is becoming painfully apparent that my wanting to read and write left me a little shy in the man department. My father was always taking a son along to work on this and that and impart a bit of wisdom. I wasn't interested, and before long, he left me alone.

Fast-forward to today. I planned to tackle a number of household chores. I was going to start by painting the sidewalk that runs alongside our flower bed and forms our concrete stairs.

Now you must know - it is all that I am allowed to paint. The freaking ground. My wife watched me paint once, and shit-canned me from all other paint duties. Yet the sidewalk was still mine.

I got a nice early start, gathered my materials and headed for the sidewalk with I-pod in tow.

It took me a good twenty minutes to open the paint can. And unfortunately, I didn't learn much because we needed two gallons for the job, and the 2nd can was a bugger too.

Yet I got it done. The place looks a lot neater now.

So, I shuffled off to the weed-wacker. I put in a good half-hour with it, making sure that the string didn't break. I hit all the key parts and was nearly done when I ran out of string.

Another example of where the man would come in handy.

I sat at the table and tried my hardest to open the damn thing. I finally got it after about as long as it takes to open a can of paint, and I wound the string, but I'd no sooner get it wound when it would come unwound. Now I have big old fingers and the hole to poke the string through is small. It was like I was trying to thread a needle.

Still it was time for me to do some of this stuff. Nearly 46 years of total incompetence was enough. I flicked the sweat off my forehead and concentrated. How freaking hard could it be? I've written ten damn books and I can't restring the weed-wacker?

The Bruce song was ending on the I-pod, but the next song, a Pink Floyd number started with a guy laughing, and I panicked as I figured it was my neighbor, peering out his window at me, and laughing because the weed-wacker was kicking my ass.

But, I got the last laugh. For the first time, I was able to re-string the damn thing and I finished my work.

One more task. I unwound the hose and took it to the patch of grass I'm trying to grow. By the time I got to the spot, the water coming out of the hose was but a drip. My garden hose had erectile dysfunction.

I headed back to the faucet, lifted the lid on the hose house (Do they call that thing a hose house? I'm thinking its a good name), and saw that it was tangled, pinched and knotted.

Melky and Paris joined me at the hose and watched as I stared down in disbelief.

"Not a freaking shot," I said out loud. "I'll hang myself if I try to unknot that thing. It took me fourteen years to master tying my shoes."

Melky's eyes threatened laughter.

I'd have turned the hose on her if it'd worked.

Instead, I used a nice little water canister to wet the grass and my veggies. I felt awfully feminine with that cute little canister in my hand.

So what.

Untangling the hose would have to wait until Kathy returned.

Why learn this crap now?

Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Shoot to Maim, and Catholic Guilt

The whole point of being alive is to evolve into the complete person you were intended to be.

Oprah Winfrey, of all people said that. I like it, but being away from work is a strange deal. It gives you more time to consider such statements. And to consider other things as well, such as the elimination of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" gays in the military policy. Now it's dangerous to make a call on either side of this argument, but it sort of seemed a flawed law to me anyway - sort of a small way of handling the issue. Not sure what openly gay soldiers has to do with fighting in a war, but never been there either. We needed to evolve there, I suppose.

What seems even crazier to me is the bill in New York State where they are asking police officers to shoot to maim when involved in a fire fight. Are they going to ask the criminals to do the same thing? I'd probably shoot my own foot off before hitting someone else, but it seems to me that if both people have guns they should be able to use the same sort of force. Cops have a difficult enough job - asking them to train for something else seems illogical.

Speaking of illogical I was considering the Catholic guilt that has plagued me all my life. I was wondering about the string of tragic luck the family has had, and I wondered what the hell we did to deserve it. Of course, its an irrational thought. If God doled out punishment because of bad behavior wouldn't the jails be filled with people suffering from horrible cancer.

Yet that is the real kicker I suppose because as humans we tend to internalize it all and figure that we deserve our fate because of how we drank too much one night, or swore in church or something.

Growing up I think back to some of the nuns who beat the holy hell out of me for being my usual witty self. I wonder if they suffered the wrath of the Lord because they jammed a nine-year-old into a doorknob for laughing at a fart joke.

My feeling is that God doesn't strike you down for the things you've done. There are choices to be made, and when you make a bad one, you don't suffer the consequences, right?

Aren't we to be judged later on how we evolved as a person? Isn't that the purpose for being alive?

See how I swung it back to Big Ole' Oprah?

Have a good day. I have to clean the house and do some yard work.

Don't want to suffer the wrath of the god who keeps watch around here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Freak Show

How Beautiful it is to do nothing and then rest afterward - Spanish Proverb.

The golf plan is working out well - even received a few tips on chipping it onto the green. Now if someone would beat me over the head every time I try and putt in a three footer.

Yet I must admit that I'm a little sore after three rounds in four days. Still so relaxing, but I'm not a young man anymore.

Had a couple of beers in the stifling heat and when I got home I checked the daily news and saw that Lindsay Lohan has been court-ordered to wear an alcohol monitoring bracelet.

Now through the years I've downed plenty of booze. I had so much beer in college that I detoxed for a few years afterwards. I've been asked not to get on a plane, cut off a couple of times in bars, and even left my car places because I knew it wasn't prudent for me to drive.

Yet I've never been court-ordered to stop drinking.

Man, you have to suck a lot of booze in some bad situations before they come looking for you, right?

All that money, all of those resources, men falling at her feet, hell, women falling at her feet and vice-versa, and she can't figure out how to stay clear of standing in front of a judge?

And how do you take to being told that you're too out of control to monitor your own drinking? How can you possibly stand up and face it when they tell you that one more slip-up and they're going to have to cage you?

The rumors fly around this poor girl. She was a superstar early on, and the alleged nightmare that she has for parents weren't able to set her straight, and now she needs a bracelet to stop her from having a glass of wine with a dish of pasta.

Oh well. I guess that money, power and fame are too much to handle, huh?

It just blows my mind that along with the drinking there seems to be a huge supply of stupidity.

Not that my friends and I did everything right as we grew through the years, but we must have had a little sense.

Here's hoping the freak show she's become finds the light someday.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Capture the Moment


A couple of years ago Jeff and I golfed in a tourney with a couple of buddies and we paid to have a photo taken of our foursome. I never saw the photo until my brother-in-law Chuck found it in Jeff's bag last year. As I look at that photo each day, I remember the fun we had, the jokes that were told, and even how I did that day. So, I promised myself that I'd try and get a photo each time out this year.

And there you go. I most likely won't share them all, but this was captured at the turn this morning. Yes, that's a hot dog I'm holding. It was gone about three minutes after the picture was snapped.

Yet its strange that we are all trying to capture the moment with videos and photos. Everyone now has a camera on their phone or always at the ready, and shots can be forwarded, downloaded, photo-shopped, and doctored.

It's obvious I didn't doctor the photo to make any of us look better, but we all looked great anyway. How we scored is another matter all together, but the score doesn't mean all that much to me anymore.

Yeah, you heard me right: I don't even care if I win. I don't move the ball to get a better lie. I count all the strokes, laugh at my ridiculous reads on the putting green, and chip like a mentally-challenged monkey.

Yet that's not what matters.

What matters is how we look in the photo and the friendships that are forged in the hours it takes to run up such high scores.

Hopefully it will be a nice, long, slow week of capturing the positive moments.

Now if someone can give me a hint on how to land the damn ball on the green.

Not that it matters...truly.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Telegraph Road

There's an old Dire Straits song that just kills me...it's about the revitalization of society after a catastrophic event, or maybe just after the start of it all. Or perhaps about trying to pick up the pieces after a life-changing event... Like the loss of a best friend... Saw Knopfler sing it. Having a hard time getting through it. Can understand the start over...begin again sentiment.

And we all will be there...eventually. We all somehow or another will find the need to begin again. Even when beginning again is absolutely ridiculous to our sensibilities. Even when the loss is too much. Even after what we lost is too much to bear.

"Well, a long time ago came on a man on a track walking thirty miles with a sack on his back, and he put down his load where he thought it was the best. He made a home in the wilderness. He built a cabin and a winter store and he plowed up the ground by the cold lake shore and the other travelers came walking down the track and they never went further, no, they never went back. And then came the churches and then came the schools and then came the lawyers and then came the rules. Then came the trains and the trucks with their loads and the dirty old track was the Telegraph Road."

And Knopfler moves just one verse later into the complications of life.

"Then came the mines and then came the oil. Then was the hard times then there was a war, telegraph sang a song about the world outside. Telegraph road was so deep and so wide - like a rolling river.

"And my radio says tonight its going to freeze. People driving home from the factories. Six lanes of traffic. Three lanes moving slow."


My God - taking you fron one point to another as a reader...in 60 words. Incredible. From the start of Telegraph Road to six lanes moving slow...awesome.

Yet when you speak of writing, it has to come from the inside out - from the vast to the intimate. From where it hurts to the real world. The sort of writing that gets me excited about the craft. God, I want to write some more!

Incredible stuff!

And I used to like to go to work, but they shut it down. I got a right to go to work but there's no work here to be found. Yes, and they say we're going to have to pay were told. We're going to have to reap from some seed that's been sown and the birds on the wires on this telegraph poles well they can always fly away from this rain and this cold.

From these rivers of headlights, these rivers of rain, as I've run ever redlight for memory lane and I've seen desperation explode into pain, and I don't want to see you hurt again. The birds on the wire and the telegraph code... They can always fly away from this rain and this road. You can hear them singing out all along this telegraph road.

I seem to forget, but I remember the nights. Life was just a bet on the race between the lights. You had your hand on my shoulder, you had your hand in my hair. Now you act a little cold, like you don't seem to care."

Well just believe in me baby and I'll take you away from out of this darkness and into the day from these rivers of headlights, from these rivers of rain as I run every red light from memory lane and I've seen desperation explode into pain. From all of these signs saying sorry but we're closed, all the way down the Telegraph Road.


And I don't know why...

Trying to relax.

Trying to remember the things I can't forget.

Caught between hurt and longing.

Stuck in the middle of missing and trying to make new memories.

Lost.

Fucking lost.

And I seem to forget, but I remember the nights. Life was just a bet on the race between the lights.

Life...once so simple.

So complicated.

All the way...

...down the telegraph road.

Never Done


There is a constant checklist running through my head. Much of it is work-related as the tasks are defined, prioritized, and hopefully accomplished. The task-list of work needing to be done around the house is also fairly heavy on any given day, but there's plenty of help there, and I've relaxed a little in that regard.

The writing to-do-list has been minimized as I sit in the lull of my career, wondering if that is something I even want to do anymore, but I have a sneaking suspicion that ideas will surface.

However...it can all go to hell for a week.

I want to chase a white ball around.

A few years ago I returned home from golfing with my buddy Scott. My wife was waiting at the door after my six hour round.

"How are his kids?" she asked.

"How the hell do I know?" I responded.

"You just spent six hours with him. What did you talk about?"

"I said, 'where'd my ball go?' Then he said, 'I found yours where the hell is mine?"

A week later, Scott and I settled in for another round.

"My wife wants to know how your kids are," I said.

"Good," Scott said. "How are yours?"

"Good. Now where the hell did my ball go?"

So, you see, that is the most pressing issue that I want to come up this week.

We all will be better for it if I can pull it off.

I may never be done with the tasks at hand, but please God all I'm asking for is some peace and quiet...

...and at least a freaking clue on how the hell to chip it on from thirty yards out.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Ups and Downs

Talk about feeling a little long in the tooth. Matt went to his Junior Prom tonight. That's just crazy! What's even crazier is he didn't even have to pay the girl to go with him, and she wasn't related to him either.

Seriously, I kid him all the time, but he's done well. Of course, in the days leading up to the prom he acted like Mr. Cool. It's an awkward age, for sure, and the last thing you want to do is express your feelings to your parents. He moved around as if the prom was just another day in his thrilling life.

The thing about kids is that they don't fully understand that the old man and old lady were also young once. They don't know that we appreciate and remember the up days of life, because now it seems as if they are all sort of down. At least that is how a teen pictures it.

Yet as I drove towards home tonight, I thought of the two proms that I went to. I could almost picture the girls in their dresses, and I remember meeting their parents - and especially their fathers - and being a little nervous. Those old men were about my age now, right?

And I remember the days leading up to the prom and how it seemed like it would never get there. I wanted so bad to act like a grown-up for a night - even though the dates I had were more of the friendship variety. It didn't matter. The chicks dug me. It was good for self-confidence.

And years later, I think about how truly insignificant those proms seem to be now. I didn't marry the girls. I don't even remember where the dances were held to be honest and while I know there was an Air Supply song chosen for one of them, I don't recall any truly memorable dances. (And let me tell you, I can cut a rug).

But I do know that it was an up day. And at the time, it was a really important day.

And I thought of Matt and how I wouldn't bust on him or his date, and I wouldn't tease him even a little. He deserves his up days. Even if years later he realizes that they weren't as significant as he thought they might be.

There are plenty of days when you feel clobbered by life. Attending a prom shouldn't be one of those days.

And maybe its more significant than I think anyway.

I do remember shaking my junior prom dates father's hand. He squeezed real hard as he smiled at me. He seemed to be passing a message. I'm sure he was thinking that his kid was too young to go to a prom already.

Now I know the feeling. It's a wink of an eye.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bag of Noxious Wind

Just when I think I'm out of the political discussion a big, fat, noxious, moronic radio host pulls me back in.

Okay, I get the arguments - the environmental issues are hot-button topics. Some people believe that Al Gore is mongering fear with his global warming theories. Others feel that we are ruining the planet with our selfish ways and our dependency on fuel.

Whatever - it seems to be cut along party lines anyway - as is everything else - and concrete arguments can be made on both sides. My opinion on it really doesn't matter. I can do what I can do in my personal life and hope that there is a world still standing for my kids and their kids.

Yet there should be no debate about the fact that thousands of gallons spewing into the ocean will have a negative impact, right? No one can be naive enough to believe that this isn't a horrifying turn of events for the freaking fish and the seals, and the shrimp and the lobster, right?

"The sea can handle the oil," Big, fat, dumb Rush said. "Did you ever try and live in the sea? It's tough."

Okay, Rush - when did you live in the sea? Who do you know, people-wise, other then Sponge Bob, who lives in the sea? Fish live in the sea. They must be tough. But they choke on oil. You nitwit.

"Not to minimize it, but the sea is huge," Scientist Rush explained. "The oil dissipates."

Oh, really? So what's happening isn't a threat to the ecology? The fact that fuel has been pouring out for weeks on end is a liberal conspiracy to aggravate the oil companies?

Are you freaking kidding me?

Can you be that stupid?

It isn't a party issue. Saying dumb things doesn't make you good at what you do.

Someone please take his microphone away.

There are people believing his bullshit.

Sing Away, Sing Away

In fiction writing sometimes it's nice to use birds as a symbol of freedom and I know I've written paragraphs about how the singing bird offered a bit of hope for the character listening to the wonderful tune.

This morning there was a freaking bird outside my window that was just hammering away at a nonsensical string of noises that was akin to listening to rap music for me. I had a vision of leaping from the bed, catching that bird on a dead run, and manually strangling the life out of it.

Told you I need a break.

Yet it did bring a smile to my face as I thought of a couple of recent laughs that pertain to singing songs.

A couple of weeks ago my wife went to see Jersey Boys. It's a long story, but I gave up my ticket and took a little guff for doing so, but when my wife returned home I asked her how the show was.

"Unbelievable," she said, and then she began to sing My Eyes Adored You.

Up until that very moment I had always loved that song. By the time my wife got to the second verse, I was ripping at my ears, trying to get them clear of my head.

"I'm sorry for not going! Please stop singing!"

My wife has always taken the good natured kidding about her singing voice in stride, but she's a little like Edith Bunker on crack. She's a lot like that bird I wanted to strangle this morning.

Sometimes when I'm day-dreaming I think of what it would be like to be serenaded by someone like Barbara Streisand. That has to be cool, right?

Yet story number two interrupted my fantasy. My sister called to let me know that our nephew Tony had requested a Meatloaf song (Paradise by the Dashboard Light). When Carrie was a bit unsure of the song he wanted he said, "That song Aunt Kathy sings in."

We had a nice laugh about it.

"How could he possibly confuse you for the woman singing that song?" I asked. "She has a beautiful voice, and you, well, you..."

I was laughing.

"Perhaps he got confused because he thought that woman was Meatloaf's wife," Kathy said. "And we all know who most resembles Meatloaf."

Funny. My wife is funny.

The points of the story?

1). I'm getting dressed and heading out to chase that freaking bird.
2). My wife can't sing.
3). It'd be nice to be serenaded by Barbara Streisand.
4). I'm really starting to look like Meat.
5). There are no changes forthcoming - my wife is way better looking than Streisand.

Just don't ask her how she liked Jersey Boys.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Give Me a Freaking Break!

Last year, in April, I sat on a beach in Florida and lectured myself about taking time out to catch my breath. The company I work for provides me with vacation time, but in past years of employment, I never took it. Last year was the exception and I found that being away was necessary. So, I even took a couple of more days in August.

And here we are nearing the end of May and I haven't done what I said I was going to do. August to May is a long stretch without days off during the week. Physically shot. Mentally drained. Tired of being tired.

A couple of months ago I picked the last week in May as a week off, and I'm three days away from freedom and I'm becoming hesitant.

Can the world spin without my contribution for a week?

Can I really just line up golf partners and play without thought of who needs me to do what?

Is it possible to sleep past 5:30 AM.

"You're doing it!" my wife said this morning. "I don't want to hear your excuses."

She lives here. She knows I need it.

"We'll see what happens," is all I keep saying.

Yet I heard about people going on cruises and heading off to Vegas for a long weekend. I listen to stories about guys who set up their schedule for a month long break, and I know a few school teachers who revitalize for three freaking months.

This can happen, right?

There are friends of mine that can free up a day to watch me hack, drink, and swear my way around a golf course, aren't there?

I'm telling you, I'll be better for it.

Please just give me a freaking break!

Chances are it'll rain all week.

Monday, May 17, 2010

You Think Greece Would Help?

Growing up, I can't ever remember my father being too concerned about world politics. I do recall the day when Nixon resigned and listening to it on the radio with him. I remember that he was a little troubled and that I asked him about how the world would be when I grew up.

"If we're still here," he said, or somtheing to that effect, and I can remember that I was scared out of my mind.

Yet we were at war; the president had just resigned; gas prices were through the roof; we'd just survived the crazy ass drug world of the 60's.

There wasn't much more out of my father in regard to arguing world politics although I knew his political party and who he really disliked.

Yet his one contribution to the world across the ocean was the single joke he liked to tell in political arguments to calm everyone down.

"If Iran attacked Turkey from the rear, do you think Greece will help?"

I thought of that joke this morning when I saw that Iran was getting ready to sell uranium to Turkey.

Now I know it's not a laughing matter and that I should read up on the argument, but lately I've been feeling a little like Dear Old Dad when it comes to world politics.

Getting worked up about it isn't going to change much. Arguing with people who see things from a different point-of-view isn't all that productive.

If someone argues with me that Sarah Palin is great, I'm not going to suddenly change my mind. My argument that she is an intellectual zero isn't going to change someone's mind who thinks she's the right person to lead America.

So, you see, it doesn't really matter. We are all better off laughing about it to a certain extent.

Believe in change, do what we can and tell a few jokes about it.

Personally, I think Greece would help.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Future is Coming - Part II

A couple of years ago I wrote a blog entitled 'The Future is Coming." The blog was written after hearing the line by comedian Bob Levy on the Howard Stern Show. It's a clever line, and I've repeated it every now and again.

It's funny, but I've listened to Howard since about 1985 or so, first hearing about him back in college, and while he is distasteful for some members of the general population, I've always known about the cast of characters involved with the show. From Hank the Angry Drunken Dwarf to Levy through Beetlejuice, I've sort of followed their lives as if I were watching a bad soap opera.

Last night Levy and Beetle did a comedy show at the Brant Fire Hall. The place was packed, and there were plenty of people laughing, but the cringe factor was also in effect as the filthy jokes were flying.

What was most interesting about the event was that I had the chance to sit with Levy and Beetlejuice for a good half hour before the show, and the cringe factor was more about what they do for a living. Traveling from town-to-town, drinking tequila in the back room for hours, just for a short time on stage, seems to be a bit of a lonely existence.

Levy and I chatted about some of the characters on the show, talked about writing, and had an honest exchange about meeting people and presenting ideas. He invited me on his radio show, and shook hands after his set, while he was selling tee-shirts out front.

As a man in his late fifties I spent a lot of his show wondering about his work, the drinking they all seem to do, and the fact that there will be another town next week, and more of the same. How did he even remember his lines in such a state of mind?

"I never even graduated high school," he said at one point, "but I've done all right. I tell my kid that he probably won't get so lucky and that he better be prepared because the future is coming."

Pretty cool - he mentioned the line in casual conversation.

A couple of hours later, Levy had the room rocking with laughter. I stood in the back of the hall, hoping he didn't point his finger and make fun of me. I enjoyed the show, but also found it all sort of weird. It was sort of like I had the chance to look behind the curtain at the Wizard of Oz.

We often think of show business as this glamorous exchange of ideas when in fact its just an awful lot like people downing tequila, making fun of each other and waiting for the show to begin.

And Beetlejuice? The black, mentally-challenged, chain-smoking, beer-guzzling, midget?

Let's just say I got my money's worth.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Things We Lost in the Fire

Last night we were all watching the Yankee game, with our little phones going a mile-a-minute as we kept track of the out-of-town scores, the hockey playoff game, and a few new Apps that we found.

Isn't it funny? Six months ago we didn't know what an App was and now we're racing to see who gets the best ones.

Anyway, Sam found a Family Guy trivia game and he was reading me question after question, laughing his way through it - a very healthy, all-consuming kid giggle. Kathy and I were listening and laughing right along with his giddiness and glee.

As I laughed, I thought of my own childhood and the unbelievable laughter that shook my body on any given day. We were all funny. We were all having a good time. Life was grand.

And it led me into thinking to a movie I saw a few years ago - Things We Lost in the Fire - it starred Halle Berry and that hispanic actor that's really good - Del Torro? - anyway, truth be told, I got the movie on the off chance that Halle Berry might get naked, but I enjoyed it because it was really well-written, well-directed, and well-acted.

It was a story of grief, and battling through. It was not a real pick-me-up, but going to the dark spots sometimes serves as a boost, doesn't it? Strange how that works.

So, there I sat, listening to the sounds of Sam's laughter. Remembering my own laughter. Thinking of a depressing movie, and things lost.

But it occurred to me somewhere in there that things don't stay lost, you know? The laughter is still trapped inside there somewhere. The absolute glee of mis-reading a question, or the sharing with your family members, or the security of knowing that, as a child you're cared for and loved - it's all in there, and there isn't a fire known that can burn it down.

When I woke this morning, the birds were singing, the hole in my heart was humming, and Sam's laughter was echoing in my ears.

Singing birds, wonderful memories, and giddy children.

I may have lost the idea that life is grand, but it doesn't always have to suck, does it?

Now if only Halle Berry had dis-robed.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Hottie with a Smokin' Body

So Obama spent some time in Buffalo yesterday - three hours to be exact, and he had a few wings from Duff's and visited a factory on the East side.

A few observations:

1). I like the Anchor Bar wings better - so he screwed up there.

2). He snarled traffic for me and I couldn't get to one of my appointments.

3). He should have ordered the suicidal wings - wimps eat the mild or hot ones.

4). Way too much goes into his travel plans. How much does it cost just to get him to and from work. Motorcade, police escorts, low-flying planes - what a pain in the ass. How's he get up and run to the corner for a pack of smokes?

5). Some woman called him a hottie with a smokin' body. He acted a little embarrassed by the attention and this is where I can most identify with him. I wish I had a dime for every time I heard that about myself. I'd be able to buy a gumball.

Yet, how do you handle such a statement? Here he is, in town for some intelligent discourse, and this lady has a chance to speak to him and she shouts something out that, I'm frankly tired of hearing in my own life. I'm sure Obama doesn't want to be treated like a piece of meat.

6). Anyway...I was thinking about being in the general neighborhood and wondering if it might be cool to meet a president someday, and you know, I wouldn't have braved the crowds or the threat of rain, if I knew he'd give me seven minutes of his time. Not that I wouldn't enjoy shaking the hand of a president, but I really hate crowds and pomp and circumstance. Not the figure so much as the people who are kissing the ass. It's not like he's Springsteen or Jeter, after all.

7). Obama was also greeted warmly which is good because six months ago he was being roundly criticized. They tell me this economy thing is cyclical anyway, so he probably doesn't deserve the credit as much as he didn't deserve the criticism. Either way, you hope he does all right, the same way you were hoping Bush did well.

8). At least he paid for his own wings.

9). Hopefully he didn't see all the boarded up businesses - perhaps that's why they didn't bring him to the Anchor Bar - too close to the downtown blight.

10). Thanks for the Cliff at Walmart feedback - it wasn't freaking me!

I'm a hottie with a smokin' body.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Too Good Not to Share


The above photo ran with the caption: CLIFF AT WALMART. It was captured by a guy who used to be my friend who posted it to our fantasy baseball league. I glanced at it last night and laughed.

Kathy stepped up behind me, looked at the photo and said, "It does look like you from the back. You sure that isn't you?"

God, my wife is great. Anyway, to clear the record:

Number One - I have a full head of hair. At least I think I do until I see myself in a mirror somewhere. Regardless, I'm going with the story that my hair is hanging in there.No way do I have such a bald spot.

Number 2 - I don't go to WalMart. Not once in awhile, not once a year - never - I am a Mom & Pop type shopper and would much rather pay more from cool, real people rather than cold, corporate a-holes.

Number 3 - My ass isn't that big. I think of the Mel Brooks comedy Spaceballs when the bottom half of his body is spun around, he looks down, and yells at his friends, "Why didn't you tell me my ass was this big?" Can't see it - feels small enough to me.

Number 4 - I don't eat a lot of ice cream - seems the guy was shopping for ice cream - not me. Wouldn't grab my thong and head out for a half-gallon - if this were at the liquor store, in front of the goose supply, maybe...

Number 5 - Those are new tennis shoes on his feet, and expensive ones at that. I still wear ratty shoes, as everyone knows, and they are filthy to boot.

Number 6 - I don't wear a thong. Yes, this may be the shocker of them all, but I can't be sure how anyone can wear a thong. Doesn't that string get caught in your ass crack? How could I possibly do anything at all if I have to keep picking string out of my butt? Besides, my string wouldn't look so great after a couple of days when it has mustard stains on it.

Number 7 - Now I get to plot my revenge - I know the sonovabitch who posted this. I understand that he got the laugh that he was looking for and I'm scouring the 'Net for photos of a man with a huge head, a little extra in the middle, and his own tragic loss of hair. I'm coming for you, Tater.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Don't Bug Him, He's Sleeping!

Ken Griffey Jr. is one of the best baseball players I've ever seen. Of course, I don't really like him because he raced home to knock the Yanks out of the playoffs in '95, and he was the first guy to wear his cap backwards - I still get aggravated when I see my kids wearing their hats with the bill to the back.

What else?

Oh yeah, I saw an interview with him where he explained that he spent 10 grand on a pair of sunglasses. What could possibly be on a pair of sunglasses that would make you want to spend ten grand? And wouldn't that be a bitch when you sat on them in the car?

Anyway...

Griffey made news this week because he was supposedly asleep in the clubhouse and was unavailable to pinch hit. Poor guy. He was beat. He's in his 40's now - I know how difficult it is to stay up past nine.

But really? Sleeping during the game?

Griffey has made about $100 million dollars. He has to stay awake for approximately three hours a day. Even if he flies into a city in the middle of the night, he can sleep until two in the afternoon if need be. A dish of pasta, a couple of cups of coffee, shag some fly balls, and you should be able to keep your eyes open until the last out is recorded, right?

I don't know - maybe it's just a job for those guys - especially when you've been doing it for twenty years like Griffey has been.

Then again, I get up by 5:30 most days, and I can handle watching the Yankee game on televsion until 11:00 without a nap.

And I'm older than Griffey.

And about a hundred million behind him.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Ironworker

You know, I often play a tough guy in my writing, but I'm not really one. I know that comes as something of a shock to those who have followed along in my books or on the blog. Yes, I'm something of a wussy.

It all comes to light because this morning I ran into a steel erector on the first job I visited this morning. He connects iron in the air, is always dirty, is as strong as an ox, and is frankly a little terrifying to approach if his mood is off.

Of course, I grew up in the construction field so I know that deep down he's just a tough guy who wants nothing more than to earn a fair wage for decent work, drink a few beers, and hang with his family. A true American.

One time he was across from me at the volleyball net and we both went up to spike the ball - I got his elbow and the vinyl of the ball imprinted on my face. As I lay on the ground he stood over me. "Don't try and block it if you can't get it done," he said.

Anyway, I did an audit of his work this morning and our conversation was interrupted by one of his workers. The kid was late arriving on the job, and being tardy simply isn't an option in the world of the big, burly ironworker.

"Sorry," the kid stuttered. "I had a bad night last night. My girlfriend left the kid off, and he was sick, and the car wouldn't start this morning."

"Did I ask you for your life story?" the ironworker boss asked. "Now you wasted two more minutes."

The kid was sort of shocked...and terrified.

"I get it, life sucks," the ironworker said. "But I don't give a shit. Get on with it."

I laughed. "You should print that onto a postcard," I said.

"I'd like to tattoo it on my forehead," he answered. "That way people wouldn't piss and moan to me. I get it. Life &*$@ing sucks."

I headed back to my car.

"Hey. Cliff, it was good seeing you," the ironworker called out. "Everything going all right?"

"Everything is fine," I called back.

Not really sure he wanted to know if it wasn't.

And that's okay with me.

I just ain't playing volleyball against him again.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Change

I've been visiting Syracuse for work for the past 20 years or so. I normally stay in the same hotel, visit the same restaurant and try as I might to sleep in the same room. I'm not much interested in varying the routine.

So, I checked into my room, turned on the laptop and got to work, with an eye on catching dinner a little later. All at once, there were two loud blasts.

Sounds like a transformer blew I thought.

The lights flickered and then went out. Television off, computer switched to battery power, but it grew a tad annoying. I was still typing, mind you, but the fire alarms blasting through the hotel halls caused me to pause for a couple of sentences.

I'm not going anywhere, I thought.

I heard voices gathering in the hall and outside my first floor window. I clearly heard someone say that the explosion and fire was down the street and that there wasn't anything wrong with our hotel - other than the power going off.

I saved the report I was writing, and checked the battery power. I could write another report.

The fire alarm was still going off. Someone knocked at the door. Annoyed I got up and opened the door.

"You can ignore the fire alarm," the girl from the front desk reported.

"Really, thanks."

"We probably won't have power until at least nine o'clock tonight. We can switch you to another hotel or you can sit here in the dark."

I wanted to explain how much I hated change. I wanted her to figure out what was wrong and fix it before the Yankee game started. I needed to finish my reports, eat at my usual chair in the same old restaurant, and not talk to anyone.

"Those are the options," she said. "Sorry."

I packed up my things, closed down the computer, and headed out the door. The two desk clerks were wondering about the damage and how it would affect the rest of their evening. Would the hotel close? Was there a fire nearby? The sirens were blaring up and down the street.

I couldn't have cared less about where they were coming from.

I was being forced to change.

I hate change.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Are You Being Good?

One of the first recollections I have of being alive was entering the kitchen of our home at the age of three or four, standing by the fridge with my arms folded.

I'd been having a battle with one of my siblings and I needed to get away. I stood there, silently, as my mother worked.

"Are you being good?" she asked.

I remember being put off by the question. I felt like answering, "I'm fine but those other bastards you spawned are pure evil."

I was a little like Stewie Griffin. Of course, I didn't answer at all, I stood there on the verge of tears, waiting on a little comfort.

"You're a good boy," my mother said.

Four simple words,and 41 or 42 years later I can recall how uplifting they had been, and I think of that moment every single Mother's Day because I've always had that sort of relationship with my Mom. I always wanted to be good in her eyes.

I see a real special bond between my wife and the boys as well. I know that they get on her from time-to-time, but there's a true sense of wanting to do well - for Mom. As the years pass, I know that the boys appreciation for the mother will grow.

Which is why this is an important day. Mothers should be honored for all that they do. I understand that there is a Father's Day as well, but it isn't the same, is it? A mother's standing in the family unit is reserved for the sort of worship garnered only by popes, or kings, or Hollywood stars.

At Mass this morning the priest asked each mother to stand for a round of applause. A nice gesture to be sure. I clapped my hands as my own mother's voice ran through my heart and mind.

"Are you being good?"

I'm certainly trying.

Happy Mother's Day to all out there in blog land.

Your influence is far reaching indeed.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Catfish

So, watching the Yankees bludgeon the Red Sux tonight -

(Where is Frank Zocco when I need him?)

- and my boy starts asking me baseball trivia off of his I-pod or whatever the hell it is.

He starts by throwing me lobs about Donnie Baseball, asking me the number of gold gloves Mattingly won, his career hits, etc....

With each question, Sam is laughing because I can tell him nearly exact numbers and I recall a game back in 1991 when Mel Hall, since convicted of child molestation, hits a walk-off for the Yankees - Sam prints me the box score from that game.

"How do you remember this?" he asks.

We continue with his little quiz show - through Billy Martin,on to Reggie, and beyond Henry Aaron.

"What about Catfish?" he asks.

"Catfish Hunter," I say. "He threw a perfect game for the A's, won the World Series with the Yanks."

"How old was he when he died?" Sam asks.

It's a question I'm not prepared for. Suddenly, I miss Catfish. "He shouldn't have died young", rushes through my brain.

"63," I say.

"53," Sam answers.

"Come on, really?"

"53!" Sam yells finally happy that I got one wrong.

Yet Catfish shouldn't have died at 53. Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Billy Martin and Babe Ruth and Phil Rizzuto shouldn't be dead.

But they are...

And I started the night...hoping the Yanks would hammer the Red Sux...and they did (Suck it up Frank)...and I ended it talking baseball with my 9-year old son...

...missing guys that he never knew played the game.

"How do you know all of this?" Sam asked when I told him that Nick Swisher's dad, Steve, had played catcher for the Cubs back in the 70's.

"I've always loved baseball," I said.

Sam was quiet for a long time.

"It's going to be sad when a guy I know as a pitcher dies young," he said.

My boy.

To Catfish.

Rest in Peace, brother.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Poor LT

I'm wondering how Lawrence Taylor is going to spin this. Will he play the, "How the hell was I supposed to know she was 16" card?

Is he a candidate for sex rehab? Was it all a setup?

Was he under the influence of drugs again? Did his wife not understand him?

Was he bored in that lonely hotel room? Was the television broken? He'd seen all the porn?

The story has been coming out in bits and pieces all day. Taylor allegedly paid $300 for the company of a hooker. She supposedly was driven to the hotel room by her pimp. Taylor supposedly had sex with her. She supposedly called an uncle to get out from under the act, and somewhere along the way she supposedly got a black eye. Taylor's people seem to be saying that the pimp did it.

So...what did you do last night?

Lawrence Taylor has been a nightmare for the past twenty years. He was suspended, arrested, reprimanded, divorced, reborn, rehabbed, and re-divorced, re-suspended, and re-arrested.

Oh yeah, he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame too. He won a couple of Super Bowls -including the one where they cheated to beat the Bills I believe. He was the best player on some great defenses, and was paid money by the bushel twice a month.

I've heard the man interviewed all over the place. People kissing his ass just to get close to him. People naming their freaking kids after him. A big fat hero. He could hardly string two sentences together either. Couldn't spell cat if you spotted him the "C" and the "A".

Yet I will follow the story. I am anxiously awaiting the spin. How the hell do you get out of that one?

The "I didn't know her age" card won't work - sex with a minor can not possibly be consensual. If it happened, it's rape. They say that the prison sentence is four years.

Well, here's my prediction:

A big, "I'm sorry." A bigger, "I'm the victim here. I have pick-up-a-whore-ritis. It's a real disease and I'm getting help."

He'll stand before a judge, wearing his Super Bowl rings and a ten-thousand dollar suit, sober as all get out, autograph pen at the ready...

...and they'll let him go again. Free to rape, pillage and plunder.

Hey, maybe he can join the Steelers and team up with Ben Roethlispervert.

(This blog is dedicated to Rosie Palmer - nice hero you got there - the Giants cheated in '91).

Taser Him!

We all went to Philly for a game last year and couldn't have had a better time. The stadium was nice, the fans were happy, the beer was really cold, and there were smiles all around.

Yet this is a tough town, right? They are famous for booing Santa, cheering when Michael Irving laid motionless on the field, and even driving Mike Schmidt (their own Hall-of-Famer) so crazy that he wore a disguise to the field one night.

Yet the last couple of nights were truly bizarre. If you've been living under a rock, here's the recap: Tuesday night a 17-year-old ran onto the field and eluded security for awhile as the crowd cheered. One of the cops whipped out his taser gun and blasted the kid, who dropped like a wounded deer.

Fine. Dumb kid. Cops being threatened for use of excessive force. Of course there is a public debate as being hit with a taser might just kill you. Is that too much? Should they have just tackled the kid?

Let's move on, right?

Not in Philly...the very next night a fan makes a similiar jaunt. As he is making his way around the field, the compassionate fans of Philly have a chant instruction for the secuirty.

TASER HIM! TASER HIM! TASER HIM!

They cheer. When the man is brought down without use of the taser there is a collective groan.

Doesn't it make you wonder about what is entertaining? At least in Philly?

Tell me they wouldn't be cheering if some poor slob was being chased around by a lion.

The debate about what's a better sport football or baseball would be quickly rendered moot if there were a spectator sport in which the participants were under threat of real death.

You can't convince me that tickets wouldn't go for 10 times the market value if people were literally running for their lives.

Taser Him! Taser Him! Taser Him!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Nothing's Figured Out

For the last seven days I've been riding high. The entire transformation sort of hit me during the Knopfler concert and the draining self-pity of the last fourteen months that passed like one long freaking day, seemed to melt away.

I told a buddy that the remedy for the malaise is to see a genius perform once a week. Pretty sure I'd get tired of that too, though.

Yet that is the true kicker. I haven't figured anything out. I'm still going to work, watching the Yankees, facing difficult, difficult, trying situations - I'm going to the hospital tomorrow as my mother faces surgery - but there's a new understanding of sorts.

I suppose that I've accepted that life just blows, but that you don't have to wallow in the sad, sad, sad. I have faith that my mother will be fine.

Still faith...still so hopeful.

Many of my thoughts through the past seven days has been about maintaining the calm.

Here's a prediction - I won't.

Yet the cocksure, I can whip the world attitude, is gone.

I haven't figured anything out yet, but I'm going to ride the wave.

Any geniuses out there coming to Buffalo?

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Greatest Fear

Reading about Michael Douglas and the fact that he is sad because his son has finally been sentenced to prison, and as a father, I certainly feel the pain.

There is so much to worry about in life, but as I watch my kids grow, I seriously hope that we have been able to guide them enough to keep them from hearing the line, "Will the defendant please rise."

I don't know, but I think back to the days of their births, and I remember considering that the possibilities afforded them in this life were endless. They were born in the greatest country in the world, to loving parents with a shared vision of responsibility.

Still...

You aren't a parent unless you think about the horrid possibilities that also lie ahead. There are temptations at every turn. I want to believe that our children will spend every day just trying their best to make sure that we are proud of them.

But...

I had moments in my adolescence when I'm sure my parents may not have been so prideful of my actions. Nothing horribly regretful as being sentenced to prison for five years like Michael Douglas' kid, but a few things that may have made them cringe.

It all comes to mind because Jake became a member of a Facebook group with the "F" word in the title.

"You don't want to put your name on groups like that," Kathy and I both told him.

"I didn't invent the group," he said. "What's the big deal?"

"Because it's your name," I said. "You don't ever want to assign your name to something you aren't proud of."

Jake shrugged, but he got the emphatic message.

You should work all your life not to tarnish your name - I'm sure Michael Douglas would agree.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Just a Line in the News

Lots of topics out there getting away from me:

Have you seen the rash of attacks on children in China? Knife-wielding madmen cutting up nursery school kids. One man attacks with a hammer. I read the articles in disbelief - 120 million mentally affected adults in the country.

What gets me about it is that whenever I read about a terrorist attack in another country I wonder how they can be so barbaric. I see the other country in black and white and behind the times, but of course, that isn't true. The US has to be in the pennant race in domestic attacks by their own citizens, right?

Speaking of behind the times. The new immigration law in Arizona is sort of human-rights-defying now, isn't it? I just know that my sentence there is going to get me in all sorts of hot water with people who don't want illegal aliens entering the country willy-nilly, but that law blows.

Shouldn't a law be nondiscriminatory? If a cop stopped you and asked for paperwork would you be able to produce a passport or birth certificate? Hell, I'm lucky if I have my driver's license on me, and forget about the damn insurance card.

I don't know - there must be another way. Read about the border some time - it's a scary, confusing place for people on either side of it. I don't want people in the country stealing jobs, but I'm not picking beans either. My job remains unaffected. Confusing times.

Speaking of which - a car bomb in Times Square? I love New York City and particularly walking around near Times Square.

Yeah, yeah, I know - keep the illegals out and we'll have less to worry about.

Say, what color was Tim McVeigh?

All righty then, enough for now. It's just a few lines from the news.

Back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Cats in the Cradle

I was on the cell phone late Wednesday morning, talking about scheduling a meeting for the latter part of the week. The phone beeped to let me know that there was another call waiting. I drifted away from the conversation for a split-second to check the new call and saw the name: Dad.

I went back to my conversation, fully intending to get right back to my father, but a couple of quick beeps told me that he'd left a message.

"Bah!" He said. "All right, you don't have time for your old man."

I deleted the message and called him back.

"I need to get the lawn mowed inside the fence," he said. "What're you doing?"

"Well, considering its the middle of the day, in the middle of the week, I'm working."

"Ah, I guess I'll have to do it," he said. "It kills my back and knees, but that's okay, I'll get it done."

I was both amused and irritated with the conversation. We're talking a 80X80 patch of grass and a self-propelled lawn mower that a 4-year old could handle. This from a man who built skyscrapers across the country. Thirty short years later...beat down by a patch of grass.

"Can it wait until the weekend?" I asked.

"It'll be up to my ass by then," he said. "That's all right."

Fast forward to about four hours later. Feeling guilty, I called back.

"I mowed the lawn," he said. "My knees are killing me. I started at 11:30 and finished it at about twenty to three."

I laughed. Unless he was sucked into a vortex where time was stripped away, even travelling in reverse, or picking the grass by hand, it couldn't have possibly taken two and a half hours.

"Why do you drive me nuts like that?" I asked.

"My father did it to me," he said. "You'll do it to your kids too. Just trying to get you to come over, I suppose."

The conversation drifted to other things. The hammering guilt of not being able to take care of my parents every need tearing a hole in my heart.

But man, what a lousy trick to play, right?

I'm not alone. Many of my friends have the same sort of complaint. My father-in-law exhibits some of the same behavior.

I don't want to do that to my kids, but you know what?

I probably will.

Heather Heyer

She was a 32-year old woman who wanted to protest the white supremacists in her town. She got killed for her stance. And it's pretty...