Saturday, April 30, 2011

Television Weather People

Yesterday, in between gushing over the photos of the Royal Wedding, I considered the people who do the weather on television.

It seems that they bother me.

And by the way, I couldn't give two poops about Kate and William. Didn't we gush over Diana and that dork too?

Anyhow, let's check in with the meterologist....

First off, meterologist. Are you kidding me? You know what I want from my weatherman? Two freaking words: Either, "It sucks," or "It's good."

That's it. I don't need the playful banter between the anchor and the weather person as though the rain is the fault of the guy or gal standing in front of the map. Then he/she banters back about how it's not his fault, and they all laugh.

Every freaking newscast.

Then if it's nice, the weather person takes credit.

"Look at all the sunshine I brought you!"

"Keep it coming!"

And the maps. They tell me about the fact that they have the lastest technology and that I should be reading a Doppler map by following the arrows that turn pink, blue or green.

You're the meterologist, you read it.

This week there were some high winds that led to a tornado sighting about 200 miles from here. The veteran weather guy that I was watching was speaking with the urgency reserved for a tsunami strike. He was pointing this way and that teaching me about the rotational spins that he, and only he, had discovered in a town in freaking Pennsylvania where about six people live.

I personally hate every weather guy on every station in every town, everywhere.

"Uh, oh, Kevin, we have to keep that weather away from here," the anchor said.

"I'm doing my best, Mary Alice," Kevin said. "I'm trying to bring us sunshine for the weekend."

Ha, ha,ha,ha,ha,ha freaking ha!

Yet what is really special is when the regular weather person isn't in. They always start the newscast by telling us:

"Kevin is off tonight!"

Isn't that special? Do you have a job where they announce that you're missing when you have a vacation day?

"Before you ask me anything please know that Cliff isn't here today."

I don't care that Kevin is off, just send me to the incompetent boob that is taking his place.

And this is where the real fun begins. The sub weather person tries to sound like the seasoned meterologist and ends up standing in front of the map in the wrong position, blubbering through the names of the town, trying to tell me about rotational spins while spinning around and nearly falling on their ass.

And then they try the banter with the anchor.

"Perhaps we have to wait until Kevin gets back before the friggin' sun comes out."

"Oh, I don't want to wait," Mary Alice says.

Ha, ha,ha,ha,ha,ha freaking ha!

I don't know, maybe I'm too touchy on the subject. Perhaps it's because when it's all said and done the weather person is usually wrong anyway.

My granparents always hung on every single word of the weather person. Perhaps that is what happens as you get older. I don't think I'll be paying a lot of attention to it. In fact, here's the weather report for today.

"It's good."

"Thanks for the sunshine, Cliff."

Ha, ha,ha,ha,ha,ha freaking ha!

Friday, April 29, 2011

For Aunt Carolyn....

...I'll see you further on up the road.

KATRINA’S SUN DIAL BY HENRY VAN DYKE

Time is too slow for those who wait,

Too swift for those who fear,

Too long for those who grieve,

Too short for those who rejoice,

But for those who love, time is eternity.

Hours fly, flowers die,

New days, new ways pass by,

Love stays.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Flying Thru the Air with the Greatest of Ease

Each night as I drift off to sleep I am suddenly wide awake as the latest bout of falling is vivid in my mind. Over the last couple of weeks, I've fallen off bridges into the water below. I've taken a header into a basement level through broken boards, and I've fallen off the roof while cleaning the gutters.

Little chance of that happening.

Of course, I am on a lot of construction sites, and falls are the leading cause of serious accidents, and one of my clients had a good guy fall recently, so I wondered.

What can it all mean?

I woke last night and went straight to Google. What the hell would we do without Google.

I entered "Dreams" and "Falling" and a mere second later my screen was filled.

Let me tell you, I got problems.

Falling is probably the most common dream of mankind. Every person who has ever lived and every person who will ever live has dreamed of falling. Falling can have a symbolic or even literal significance, often indicating a feeling that life is spiraling out of control on some level or reminding us of a real physical danger.

I haven't felt particularly anxious about anything lately, but life has seemed to be out of control for more than two years now. But why, all of a sudden, am I dropping like a stone?

The following questions were asked:

Are you stressed at work?

No more than usual.

Are you afraid of losing something?

The remote.

Do you feel insecure?

Why? Because no one loves me?

Has someone disappointed you recently?

Jeter isn't off to such a great start.

Have you made a bad decision lately?

Does every other day count as lately?

Are there some repairs in the house that need your attention?

Given my mechanical skills there isn't a single thing in the house I could repair.

So, there you have it. I'm a freaking mess or so the guys at Google think.

I wonder what I'm going to fall off tonight.

As my Uncle Jim recently pointed out:

"Hi, I'm Cliff, drop over some time."

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Buffalo: Greatest City in North America!


I was born 23 miles south of Buffalo in a small town. I still love going back to North Collins to move around in the same neighborhoods where I grew up. I pass homes and think of old friends and fun nights as I grew to maturity - which is a debatable subject, of course.

I went to college in another state. Pennsylvania. I liked it, but I returned to Buffalo. I went to California for a long stretch in '83. I liked it, but returned to Buffalo. I went back to California in '87. I liked it, but returned to Buffalo. I lived in Connecticut in '88. I liked it, but returned to Buffalo. I moved to Maryland the day after the Bills lost the first of four straight Super Bowls. I liked Baltimore, but I moved back to Buffalo.

Are you getting the drift?

I rather enjoy busting on people around here for their love of the Bills and Sabres because those teams are caught like a hamster in a wheel. A lot of motion, but not really getting anywhere.

And what I hate most of all is blind faith in something that just doesn't work.

I bash my hometown city a lot. From the economy to the broken down streets on the west side, east side, north side and south side.

I wonder why Buffalo people accept mediocrity and live with a sort of inferiority complex. Everyone is so damn defensive.

But I would never want to leave here forever.

Perhaps when I'm old and greyer I will move to a warm climate in the winter. Don't know how that will happen unless I hit the powerball, but that's as much as I want to roam away.

Believe it or not, Buffalo has the best weather in the country.

Yeah, I said that!

Tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, stifling heat...that's everyone else's problem. Sure there's snow from September to May, but every once in awhile it's 65 degrees here and our summers are nice.

The people are great. Hardworking, warm, friendly, help each other out sort of people. Believe me, it beats the hell out of the land of fruits and nuts that gathered in Cali.

The sports teams have a certain charm.

Think Chicago Cubs.

Think never gonna' win.

Think fans that don't believe that.

"No Goal! Wide Right! The Refs hate small market teams! Lost helmet, OJ played here. Tim McVeigh grew up here!"

We have it all.

The Blizzard of '77. Chicken Wings. 4 straight Super losses. A shell of a casino downtown. No peace bridge deal yet. A hole where the Aud used to be. A skyway bridge over a road that would be perfectly drive able into the city. An almost empty marina. Boarded up buildings, high taxes, closed libraries, desolate downtown streets by 6 pm, an almost empty transit train that doesn't really head anywhere.

A wonderful Children's Hospital. A great cancer research facility. Terrific people. The Buffalo News. Did I mention chicken wings? The French Connection, 4 straight Super Bowls! Dammit!

As Marv Levy once said...where would you rather be then right here, right now.

Buffalo!

The greatest city in North America.

Come visit.

It's a wonderful place to erect a snowman.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

President Trump

Was Obama born in the United States? Did he get good grades At Columbia and Harvard? Where did his money come from?

Should we allow gay marriage? What about abortion? Are we getting rid of that?

The gas prices are too high. The housing market blows. Fat cats are getting big bonuses. There are too many poor people. Middle class kids can't afford college.

Don't worry!

The Donald is coming!

Can this be for real? Donald Trump wants to be president? Isn't he of a sordid past? You want to question ethics, Trump and his women make Clinton look like a choirboy, don't they?

A perfect ticket might be Trump-Palin. Wouldn't that be interesting? I know that wise-ass bloggers and professional comedians would love that.

I don't hate the Donald. I think he's sort of a blowhard, and I'm not sure how bright he is as far as running the country goes, but he has enough hair, doesn't he?

How many bald president's have we had? Ford was certainly bald, but he wasn't elected.

I won't ever be president.

Regardless, I couldn't be less interested. Aren't we about to wind up the election talk soon? Aren't we going to start hearing about change, and working together, and bi-partisan...whatever the hell that's supposed to mean?

Won't they talk about the future and making life better for our kids? And the economy and the gas prices and the wall street cheating...won't they all start telling us that they have a plan for getting it all under control?

They will solve AIDS, cure cancer, secure the borders, feed the poor, stop crime, eliminate waits at the emergency room, and offer free gas to everyone with a car.

And two years after the election, none of any of that will happen, that group that we boot out will say they told us so, they will all get rich, and we'll be clamoring for more change.

Republicans control and screw it up and we boot 'em out. Democrats take over, screw it up some more, and we need to go back to the Republicans. Everyone pointing fingers, no one doing anything about the problems. Fight, bitch, moan and finally piss on it.

Maybe we should let the Donald take over.

Where is Jessie Ventura when you need him?

Or Arnold.

We know he wasn't born in America.

We knew that Bush's grades were horrible.

Clinton disgraced women.

Palin disgraced herself.

How bad can Trump be?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Wow! Game Seven!

The City of Buffalo and all of the surrounding communities is going to come to a grinding halt on Tuesday night at 7:30. The City of Philadelphia and the followers of the Flyers are going to be in the same anxious state.

I am going to be a casual observer. More likely than not I will be watching a lot of the Yankee game that night.

Now it's not that I don't care. My boys are all fired up. I should be rooting hard for them. Buffalo needs a resounding victory one of these years because life hasn't always gone swimmingly here. Taxes are high. People work really hard here. The guys on the Sabres seem like decent, hardworking men. That sport is unbelievably rough.

My main problem about not getting caught up in it is that hockey seems a tad tedious to me these days. I used to love the beauty of the sport, but there's so much clutching and grabbing that the beauty of it all seems gone. I was never a guy who cheered for the fighting. I get it. I just never liked it. I used to love, love, love the sport when guys were flying down the wing, shooting, stickhandling, and scoring.

Its my personal opinion. I see the draw...it just isn't for me.

What also rubs me the wrong way is the hero worship. Too much community excitement in anything drives me nuts. The Sabres schedule has been front page of the paper each day. Their interviews lead every newscast, every day, all three networks. Yesterday someone posted on Facebook that Thomas Vanek is Jesus on skates.

Now, I realize that folks are just excited. When the Yanks are in the series I think of the games plenty...almost to the point of distraction, but Jesus? Come on.

I've done better this year. I've stopped listening to it so much. I made a bet with my cousin that involves a big dinner. For. The sake of all those root, root, rooting for the Sabres I hope I lose.

Through the years I've ridden the Sabres train. I suffered through 4 Super Bowl losses. The Yanks have won six times with me rooting for them, but they've been eliminated way more times than that. They've lost 4 World Series during that time.

The sun will come up, hopefully, on Wednesday.

The game will be dissected, win or lose. Dinner will either be served by me, or for me. Hopefully fans of the game will be able to digest the end result without too much problem.

Game 7 oughta' be wild.

A few weeks ago a Giants fan was beat, for all intents and purposes, to death at Dodger stadium.

Its sports, people...an amusing distraction. Nothing more or less.

Go Sabres!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Christ Will Come Again

Happy Easter!

Hoppy Easter! as my Dad used to say.

I don't get the Easter Bunny stuff. Never did. Someone once explained the legend to me, but even as a kid, I kind of found the whole concept sort of weird. A big bunny hopping down a trail with eggs and candy in a basket.

I was about five years old when I might have mentioned, "Give me a freaking break here with that garbage."

I've always been a tad skeptical.

Still one of the other things that I've always been familiar with is the true story of Easter. Jesus was nailed to a cross on Good Friday - Why the hell is it called "Good" Friday?

I mean Jesus was strung up and we can't have a steak. What's so good about it?

Then everyone kind of gathered wake-style on Saturday to get over the shock...and then Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday. Was there a rabbit near by?

They always say three days after death He rose to life. Now my math may be wrong but Friday to Sunday is only two days, right? Friday-to-Saturday...Saturday to Sunday...what am I missing there?

Anyway, part of the greatest story ever told is always home to a prayer in the middle of the Catholic Mass where everyone gathered says the following phrase:

"Christ has died. Christ is Risen. Christ will come again."

I have muttered those words, strung together, at least a thousand times in my life. I said them all without meaning until about seven or eight years ago.

It was at one of the church meetings for one of my boys religious indoctrinations. Don't ask me what ceremony or even what kid. The discussion was held at 7 pm and I was in attendance because my beautiful wife needed a break from such things, so I was chosen to go along.

"We all know the story of Christ dying and rising to everlasting life," the priest said. "But my favorite part of it all is 'Christ will come again.'"

The priest said it over and over a few times, in a soft voice. "Christ will come again. Christ will come again. Christ will come again."

The priest paused for all to reflect.

"What that means to me is that there will be countless moments of doubt in your lives. There will be days when you feel as if it is all for nothing. Yet, if you open your heart, Christ will come again."

I have been through dark days spent on the valley floor. I have questioned every single thing I've learned up to this point.

There are moments when the Easter bunny seems the least absurd of all the stories I've been told.

And then there are moments of peace and comfort where I thoroughly believe.

I believe that people's religious beliefs are unique to them. I respect your free will to choose to believe whatever you need to believe to get through the catastrophe of life. I hope that you find peace and comfort in some phrase. I hope that your own personal religion leaves room for others to live their lives as they see fit.

I hope you find your Easter basket within an hour of looking.

(I may have told this story before, but I went three weeks once after Jeff re-hid my basket after finding it first. He hid it in an attic and when I finally found it, the chocolate was melted and covered with ants - I could barely finish it).

Christ will come again. Christ will come again. Christ will come again.

I feel better already and I haven't had even a single piece of chocolate.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Rest In Peace...

...my dear Aunt Carolyn.

Over the last couple of years I've sort of redefined what I think and believe about death. I knew one thing, of course, that it comes for us all, but I've had to rethink a lot of other items. It's one of those, 'the more I know, the less I understand' sort of things.

But to my wonderful extended family:

1). You will never tire of the stories of craziness, hard work, love, food, love, more food, more craziness, and more hard work. Aunt Carolyn was a Fuzzy matriarch after all. Even writing this blog I am reminded of a story about Dad.

We were driving to a job in California when the news informed us of a particularly gruesome murder. A man had been dismembered and stuffed in garbage cans. I sat there with my mouth agape as the details of the crime reached my ears.

"Poor bastard," Dad said. Then he did the sign of the cross. "May he rest in pieces."

Those are the crazy things that will pop into your head a lot more often than you will think...

2). Which reminds of the other other thing I know about death. It becomes part of your life. Thinking about Aunt Carolyn's wonderful life will certainly be an every day event, but its more than that...it's every twelve minutes or so...and it doesn't stop there. Aunt Carolyn will stay alive in your dreams, in the expressions on the faces of your children, and in your own voices and actions. She will stay alive as long as your heart is beating.

3). And there will be a real presence in your life. A tangible, pit in your stomach. A realization that the love you felt for Aunt Carolyn, all through your life, can not be diminished. In fact, in many ways it will grow...leaving...

4) ...no separation. Love kicks death's ass. Of this I am sure. You will not feel separated from Aunt Carolyn unless you allow yourself to do that. Call it God, call it a cosmic presence, call it whatever you want to call it, but if you look in your heart, there won't be a gap there if you simply leave the space in your heart alone. Aunt Carolyn didn't leave. She's right there...in the center of your chest...in the beating of your own heart.

5). But it will hurt like nothing ever hurt before. And the fog will envelope you on some days, and you'll cry hard, and look for all sorts of ways to comfort yourself. Let the grief consume you. Let it all out. Think mounds of food, grey goose, all sorts of meaningless, self-destructive tasks...and then come back around to the thing that brings you to this mess of things in the first place.

6). Come back to the love. May Aunt Carolyn's strength give you strength. May her hope bring you hope. May her love grant you love. (That's borrowed from Springsteen) but man if you say it slow, you will find you will sustain.

7). Because Aunt Carolyn is a wonderful whirlwind of love, strength, hope and faith that will not diminish. She is a force and a spirit to be recognized all through your days.

Can't you just see Dad and Aunt Carolyn and Jeff dressed all in white, standing on a cloud, playing the harp?

Me neither. They'd get tossed for making everyone around them laugh.

But in my weakest moments I can certainly feel them alive.

Alive and at peace.

Satisfied that they emptied the tank at every opportunity and thrilled that the love they developed will live on.

and on.

and on.

and on.
...and on.

RIP

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

Whenever I think of Good Friday a few things come to my mind. First and foremost I recall the steak and eggs breakfast that my brother Jim served up for the family. Think scrambled eggs with onions, tomatoes, cheese, and generous cubes of sirloin all chopped up, and portioned out with toast. Jim, Jeff, John and I were chowing down when Mom settled in her chair and accepted a plate. Three minutes in, she was pissed.

"It's Good Friday! We aren't supposed to be eating meat!"

Mom pushed her plate away. More for us. We finished it. If we were going to hell for it, we would be making the trip with full stomachs.

And Easter was all about the Catholic church. From Palm Sunday with the little one-act play about the betrayal of Jesus, through Holy Week, and the Stations of the Cross on Friday...we logged some serious church time.

Of course I was a dedicated altar boy for a lot of years (insert your favorite priest joke here) and it was a truly spiritual experience.

I can clearly recall moving from station to station, kneeling, standing, listening to the priest, kneeling and standing again, holding that cross high for the packed congregation to see.

No wonder my knee is shot!

But we spend less time in church these days...not just me...but all of us. There was a huge article about falling church attendance all across the land. The Catholic church has certainly had problems.

These are troubled times indeed.

Still, it is impossible for me to get through Good Friday without total recall of some of the old, religious traditions.

I am willing to hold on to some of the traditions. I try my best to communicate the greatest story ever told to my boys. We will certainly try to eat something other than meat today, although I consider that to be the least of all sins.

I must...because thirty years later, I can still taste the steak and eggs.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Bag Packed to Go Either Way

I was entering a supermarket when a guy approached me.

"Want something to read?" He asked. He hand me a pamphlet that said: Heaven or Hell, Which Road Are You Choosing?

I stuffed the pamphlet in my pocket and walked away before he could engage me in conversation.

Later that night I laid in bed, turning over channels on the television, knowing that I was close to sleep, but looking for a reason to stay awake. I came across a Barbara Walters interview show about Prince William and his upcoming wedding with "a commoner".

That aggravated me. A commoner. If there's anything I hate more in life is snooty people I don't know what that might be. I can't imagine what it might be like to live in a country where you have to kiss the royal ass of a group of people.

Commoners! They say the word as if they are speaking of garbage.

So, this commoner got to thinking about royalty, and heaven and hell, and other people making snap decisions on how I should be living my life.

I suppose that I have a bag packed to go either way. As Billy Joel said, the sinners are much more fun.

Through the years, I've certainly been trained to shoot for heaven and eternal bliss. Yet I have been raised as more a commoner than royalty.

I glanced at the pamphlet. It warned of the downfall of gambling, drinking, and all sorts of sexual-deviant behavior. All things that have been visited and revisited in the times of most mens lives.

And it got me thinking. What if the heaven and hell test isn't graded on some sort of curve? What if what you've done on the weakest days of your life is enough to tear you asunder for all eternity?

I'm sort of hoping that God has a sense of humor. The pamphlet warns that heaven is a narrow road and that many will not be able to make it all the way down the path. It also tells me how beautiful of a place that heaven is and I have to wonder how the guy in Jubilee's parking lot, dressed in a filthy jacket, with a Jesus Lives baseball cap knows all that.

I have never been more than a commoner and I certainly enjoy the company. I've hung around rich, snooty people who believed they were better than me. They weren't and I was bored to tears besides.

I've encountered a number of people who've tried to save my soul. They talked to me as if they are better than me. They aren't.

In the end, I suppose, it's important to be ready. I have two bags packed and I'll go where I'm told to go.

If 'Go to Hell' is the final declaration and I'm stuck drinking and gambling and such for all eternity, well then let's just say, I'm prepared.

I'll see the rest of you commoners there.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My Wife's Boyfriend

So I'm having a dream the other night. The images were real clear.

Aren't dreams strange? Sometimes we can only remember little pieces, and other times the dialogue, the feelings, and even the tone are undeniably clear. Then we are left to try and grasp the meaning.

Without further ado, here's the dream:

I'm sitting in the living room with the boys and my beautiful wife enters with a tall, young guy who can walk across the room without going, "oww, oww, oww."

"Who's that guy?" I ask.

"The Yankees are winning," I inform.

"Who's pitching?" Kathy asks, ignoring my initial question.

"Garcia," I say as the guy sits next to me and nods.

Kathy is buzzing around the kitchen. The boys are a tad curious and I know something is awry when my beautiful wife delivers a beer to the guy sitting on my left.

"Thanks babe," the guy says and my wife leans in and gives him a quick kiss.

Then she glances at me.

"Did I tell you I was dating?" She asks.

Garcia strikes out Youkoulis to get out of the inning and strands the baserunner. I clap, but the guy drinking my beer groans.

"I'm a Red Sox fan," he says.

Now I've had enough!

"Who the hell are you?" I ask.

My wife enters and tries to calm me. "Relax, we can all get along!"

"What am I supposed to tell people?" I ask.

"Just tell everyone this is your wife's boyfriend," she says.

This seems to make sense to me. We all sit and watch the game, and the Yankees win. Huh! There boyfriend, suck on that!

That was the dream.

So, naturally, I was pissed at Kathy yesterday. When I told her about it, she laughed. She may have even called me an idiot.

"You were very matter of fact about it," I said.

"What else would I do?" She asks.

Of course, I was reassured that it was simply a silly dream.

I couldn't even articulate how scared I'd been.

I mean, really?

A Red Sux fan?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

An Easter Memory

Legend has it that on Easter 1991 my Aunt Carolyn handed me a platter of scrambled eggs. It looked like a big pile of eggs, but I was going to do my best to be a good guest. I ate them.

There were a dozen eggs on the plate.

They were supposed to be for everyone.

Ah well. That's not why I'm writing about Aunt Carolyn today. I'm writing about her because she has been moved from the hospital to her home so that she can spend the last few days of her life with her wonderful family.

I'm writing because I'm sad again. Sad that our tight-family is about to lose another valued member.

As soon as I finished the eggs that Easter morning, I watched Aunt Carolyn move around the kitchen, getting ready to prepare the feast for every invited guest and a few that just happened by. My Aunt is just like my Grandma and my Dad...everyone who walks thru the door gets fed.

"I have to peal twenty pounds of potatoes for these pigs," Aunt Carolyn said.

I grabbed a pealer and we started in. Together we pealed all of those potatoes. It was just the two of us, telling stories, laughing and sharing.

What family does.

Later that year, I drove Aunt Carolyn back to Baltimore after a trip to Buffalo. She made me laugh all the way.

That's when she let me in on the secret about the eggs.

"I can't believe you ate the whole plate. As you were finishing I was wondering if you were going to ask for more."

We laughed. We shared.

And I can only write about my Aunt from my perspective. I know how much she is loved from thousands of other hearts.

Recently someone made a remark to me about how successful a rap artist is. This rap artist spent years in jail, and has been shot a few times.

"What makes him a success?" I asked the kid who was bragging about the rapper.
"Cash," the kid said. "He makes way more money than you ever will."

I beg to differ about the meaning of success.

My aunt is successful beyond all earthly compare. The love she gave was way more than the love she took.

But she has taken plenty through the years.

Because she is well loved and always will be.

And besides, those eggs were terrific...

...as was every meal served at the Switala home away from home.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Shut the Front Door

For years we listened to the cast of Friends doing the "Oh....My...God!" Expression everytime something weird happened.

Lately there's the absolutely annoying show, "How I Met Your Mother" and the timeless, "Wait for it". I cringe every single time I hear that one. Maybe because I hate the show so much. It's senseless as far as I can tell.

Of course, there is my all-time cringe-bringing expression, "Okie-Dokie" but I don't have a say in stopping that one anymore. My wife and mother-in-law say it constantly to one another. You haven't lived until you hear them go through their little routine.

"Oakie-Dokie?" My mother-in-law will ask.
"Oakie-Dokie!" my wife will respond.

And I sit there, gritting my teeth.

Yet it has gotten even worse around the house lately because my beautiful wife has also picked up another dizzying expression and the kids have joined me in hating this one:

"Anywho-ha," she says.

I'm not kidding. Ten times during the course of the day, whenever there's a lapse in conversation my beautiful wife will say, "Anywho-ha."

Evidently she picked up the habit from one of her nursing friends. I can imagine their conversations:

"So, oakie-dokie?"
"Oakie-dokie! Anywho-ha?"
"Anywho-ha, indeed!"

Here's hoping that intelligent life elsewhere is listening in on their discussion.

But recently, as well, I have been hearing an expression that if done right, sounds like a curse phrase, "Shut the front door."

I first heard Jake say it and he was so quick with the word that I nearly screamed at him. Then I heard it again in a movie and I laughed. Now its in a commercial.

"Shut the front door."

I haven't yet tried it in casual conversation because I swear enough to just use the expression that it sounds like.

But its world's better than oakie-dokie, or wait for it, or oh...my...God!

Anywho-ha...

...on with the day.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

I Got Nothing

So many days in my life I've jumped out of bed as if shot out of a cannon. Today, I got nothing.

Our hot water tank went and as I speak a new one is being installed. I couldn't have told you where the old one is located. That's maintenance's department.

All I know is that I can't shower. I can't really function without a shower.

The Yankees kept hitting into double plays last night. A double play is a real killer in baseball. As a fan of a team you get pumped up when a runner is on to start an inning. You start thinking about the possibilities like a two-run homer or a ball in the gap and when you see that hot shot directly at short, your heart sinks.

Sort of like life.

I'm gonna' do this, and this and that, and then you hit the sharp grounder to short and God doubles you up.

I've developed a small lump of pain about an inch below my knee. Not sure what to think of it, and its pretty quiet right now, but I called the doctor yesterday afternoon and was told by his very helpful secretary that the best time to get him was right at 4:30.

I called back at 4:30. The answering service picked up.

Still waiting on the call back.

6 to 4 to 3. Two outs and nobody on.

So, more down time today. I was telling a buddy today that the worst part of it all is seeing the confusion in the eyes of my ten-year old. He sort of wonders when I'll be back chasing him around the house, telling him to get to work.

"Suck it up and tough it out," he told me yesterday.

Touche.

No big deal. It's only temporary. Sooner or later the ball is going to be rapped three feet left of the shortstop's reach and there will be runners on first and third, still with nobody out.

Until then...

...I got nothing.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Kobe, Ralph, Gas Prices, LT, Bonds, and A Monkey Riding A Dog

I see that Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000 for a gay slur in which he called the ref a "bleeping pack of cigarettes in England."

After the game Kobe didn't express a lot of remorse saying that he didn't really mean it and all things are fair in the heat of battle.

I suppose.

We've all said things that we didn't mean, but we didn't have a camera on us at the time. Still the language is something that needs to be watched. Guys always refer to something as gay, or retarded. There are people out there who may take offense for sure. A hundred grand to him is only a nickel to us anyways.

He's a great player though.

Sports in the country is also way too important to everyone, if you ask me. I watch a ton of sports and get caught up in it as well as the next guy, but when your local newspaper has a column about school budgets being cut right next to the demands of the owner of the NFL team it can be a tad disconcerting.

The Bills owner demanded interest on the money given to him by the county. It truly is a ridiculous amount of money as well as there may not even be a season because they can't figure out how to split up their billions, and because the Bills have flat-out sucked for years and years.

What really galls me is that taxpayers pay, fans overpay, and if there is not a complete sell-out, they don't even put the game on television.

The Bills were great in the early 90's though.

And our kids can't afford a soccer ball for gym class.

Speaking of not being able to afford something how do you feel about the gas prices? Crazy, huh? Again, I should have taken an economics course of some sort. People are raped at the pumps and oil companies don't know what to do with all the money they make.

It's getting to the point where it may be more cost effective to stay home, for some people, than go to work. Fill 'er up? You need a home equity loan to utter those words.

Go BP!

Saw that LT (Lawrence Taylor the former football player) received just probation for his run-in with an underage hooker. He deserved to because after all, as LT with his wife by his side, explained: she's a working girl. I don't ask for ID when I hire them."

He was a great player though.

Speaking of great players, Barry Bonds was acquitted on 3 counts of taking steroids. It seems that there just wasn't enough proof to convince the jury.

How about the fact that you had to knock down half a wall so he could get his large head through the courtroom door. No one saw that?

He was a great player though.

But through it all I've watched a lot of news, sports, and Kelly Ripa through my knee recovery. The most interesting thing I saw was footage of a small monkey on the back of a dog at a minor league baseball game promotion. The monkey was hanging on for dear life and the dog appeared to enjoy being part of the show.

Now there's talent.

Neither the monkey nor the dog said or did anything stupid, either.

We should give them all of our tax and gas money.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Horrific

There is an ongoing criminal trial here in Western New York. It's a story of a gruesome murder that was preceded by torture, sodomy, abuse, and indifference. It all happened in the small town where I grew up...North Collins...a town where two police officers were murdered. A town of a few thousand people. A close-knit community by all accounts where murder and torture are hardly considered...until it happens.

I nearly threw up when I watched the court testimony on the evening news. The mentally-deficient girl who was murdered was sexually abused by her two brothers. She was tied to a chair through the day, and tied to a different, 'slightly more comfortable' chair for her night of sleep.

She was scalded with hot water and her teeth were pulled because she had a habit of grinding them. Her mother, the obviously mentally-deficient mother, was convicted of the murder. I'd seen the woman in town through the years. Thankfully I never spoke to her.

The one brother, who is mentally-deficient and brain damaged is now on trial. What do we, as a society, do with him? Was he responsible? Did he know the difference between right and wrong?

Thankfully that isn't my call.

The other brother is slightly less damaged, but by all accounts is mentally-deficient. He has worked thousands of hours, in the community, doing menial tasks. He witnessed the abuse, but was sworn to keep the secrets because he had sex with his sister when he was ten and she was eight. He spent his life as a victim of blackmail as his mother and aunt held his horrific moment over his head.

Are you freaking kidding me? If I wrote that as fiction no one would believe it, and that's because there is no way it should happen.

Someone knew. There were people in that community who turned a blind eye to the neon lights that flashed a warning. There was an aunt, who knew the difference between right and wrong and decided to choose wrong. She should be on trial next. She should have a fair trial, and when found guilty, locked away forever, hopefully tied to a chair.

There were social workers who did no work.

I feel like throwing up again.

Ghastly.
Horrific.
Horrendous.
Pitiful.
Heinous.
Disgusting.
Putrid.

Help me out here.

I'm running out of words.

God help us all.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Four in the Morning

There was an old Night Ranger song (remember them) that went like this: Four in the morning came without a warning.

Not exactly Edgar Allan Poe, but the clock just changed to 4:00 and my plans for the day are going to have to change. You see, I've been working all along with the recovering knee, but it barked so loudly an hour ago that I woke up, checked the baseball box scores and put on TBS where Ben Stiller is doing dumb things in a senseless movie. So, I'm wide awake...thinking about changing my plans for the day.

The first thing I thought about was the days gone by when four in the morning came without a warning. The good old days when I was hanging with buddies, drinking beer, laughing, and then stumbling home. At the age of 20 we all could do things like that then get up and go to work. By noon we were talking about going out again. Youth is surely wasted on the young.

This morning, with the rain tapping on the eaves I'm thinking of all sorts of things. Mostly I'm considering what I've lost, but life doesn't allow you enough time to linger too much. The pain of life has to show itself in little windows of time...and it must be forgotten long enough to move forward despite the holes. Four in the morning, with no warning.

And for some reason the night of my 30th birthday popped into my mind. My buddy Jeff Renaldo invited me for a drink that night, but also asked me to help him move a dryer at my other buddy John's home. I remember being annoyed. When we got to John's I spotted my brother Jeff and sister Carrie cowering together in the back corner of the garage. I was too stupid to put two and two together.

"What are you two doing?" I asked.
"You caught us making out," Jeff said.

We all laughed. Then Jeff covered the lie by saying John had also asked him for help. So, we all headed to the basement where everyone yelled surprise, and we stayed up until four in the morning, drinking and laughing.

Why do random moments come rushing back?

To keep you sane, you know?

Physical pain is one thing, right? There will certainly be pain-free days around the corner. A couple of more weeks, perhaps. But the emotional pain doesn't really ever go away, does it.

Sometimes it just rears its ugly head at four in the morning.

Without any warning.

To all my readers...more promotion of Oh Brother! Please. I was able to send some of the profits to Johnny, Farrah and Rocco. They sent me back a few of the photos holding toys that they bought.

I found a moment of pure happiness in looking at their smiling faces.

Everyone in the world should know about their beautiful Dad.

Life seems unfair at 4 am...no wonder I spent those other 4 am morning experiences in the bar.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sabres Playoff Prediction


The above photo shows Craig Ramsey's Stanley Cup ring on my wife's finger. Rammer got the ring when he wasn't a member of the Sabres organization.

Game 1 - Philadelphia 2 Buffalo 1

A tight-checking game turns in Philly's favor with exactly 5 minutes left when a fluttering shot from the blue line eludes Ryan Miller and ends up on the top shelf where the freaking cookies are hidden. After the game Miller explains, "Our defensemen can't allow them to have clear shots at me. I'm the greatest goalie in the world, but I can't stop those knuckleballs. They're tricky." Lindy Ruff adds that the Sabres have to play for 60 minutes. Jason Pominville says that they only came to Philly to win one anyway.

Game 2 - Buffalo 4 Philly 3 - Series Tied 1-1

Nathan Gerbe scores all four goals and wonders where his teammates Vanek and Connelly have gone. "I miss them," he says. A laugher of a game by the Sabres was nail-biting at the end because Ryan Miller let in two goals with under five minutes left and nearly cost his team the game when he tripped over the slip he was wearing under his uniform. "I had a fashion show right after the game," Miller sheepishly replied. "We played for 60 minutes," Ruff said. "We won one in Philly," Pominville said. "Now we get to go back to Buffalo and our great fans."

Game 3 - Philly 3 Buffalo 2 - 3 ot's

Buffalo comes storming out and Gerbe scores twice in the first 8 minutes. In the 2nd period, however, Chris Pronger dislocates Gerbe's melon and sends it into the 200 level. Sabres announcers are screaming for a penalty and Gerbe is out for the series in what is determined to be an upper body injury. Pronger ties the game with exactly five minutes left when a floater from just inside the blue line eludes a falling Ryan Miller. "I don't know how many times I have to tell the guys that defensemen can't be left alone to shoot at me from that distance." The game winner comes from Danny Briere who is fed the puck by Miller in a clearing attempt. "It wasn't my fault," Miller said. "I tripped over my goalie stick when I was trying to get back in goal. I'm still the best goalie in the world." Ruff says that the Sabres have to play for 120 minutes. Pominville says the Sabres will be ready for game four if they can find Vanek and Timmy.

Game 4 - Buffalo 7 Philly 0 - Series tied 2-2

Tyler Ennis scores all 7 goals and wishes Gerbe a speedy recovery from his decapitation. Enroth makes 51 saves in place of Miller who surprisingly missed the game with hurt feelings. "Millsie is our number one," Ruff says after the game. "He's the greatest goalie in the world. Enroth is okay." Pominville says it's great the team played for 60 minutes.

Game 5 - Buffalo 2 Philly 1 - overtime - Buffalo leads 3-2

Buffalo nursed a 1-0 lead, goal scored by Kaleta when it bounced in off his ass as he was beating up the goalie, until late in the 3rd period when Ryan Miller gave up a goal to Danny Briere with exactly five minutes left. The shot was a point-blank, 100-footer that beat Miller to the short-side. "It hit the blue line and changed directions," Miller says. "Even the greatest goalie in the world can't stop that." The Sabres get the game-winner on a five-on-three powerplay when Mike Grier chips one in after a feed from Bill Hajt, who dressed in Gerbe's place because of the decapitation. "We hope to get Nathan back for the next series," Ruff says.

Game 6 - Philly 4 Buffalo 0 - Series Tied 3-3

Buffalo can't get any offense going because Stafford, Connelly, Hect, and Vanek can't be found. Ruff can't understand it. "They are really good in practice." Miller lets in 3 goals on the first four shots of the game and the fans start chanting for Enroth. After the fourth goal, from center ice, on a clear-in attempt, Ruff pulls Millsie to fire up the team. "If they aren't going to play well in front of me, I can't help them," a weeping Miller says in the locker room after the game.

Game 7 - A winner is decided

The game is everything a hockey playoff game can be. Kaleta fights the ghost of Fred Shero between periods. Pegula brings all the former Sabres to Philly for the game and Christian Ruutu is seen giving advice on goal scoring to Thomas Vanek. Larry Playfair kicks the shit out of Mike Robitaille when an argument starts over who is dumber. On the ice, Danny Briere scores twice in the first period and then donates half his salary to the Women & Children's Hospital of Buffalo. He is still booed loudly by Sabres fans watching back home. The Sabres come roaring back when Thomas Vanek scores to tie it with three minutes left. Sabres fans back in Buffalo cheer him and call him a real superstar who performs when the game is on the line. It's his first goal of the series.

In overtime, Miller is extremely sharp and the announcers are calling out, "Miiiiiiillllllleeeeerrrrr!"

The 2nd overtime is extremely long and boring as neither team registers a shot.

The 3rd overtime ends with Buffalo on another five-on-three power play and the giddy announcers are talking about who will net the game winner.

With exactly five minutes left in the fourth overtime Tyler Myers trips over his stick, but is able to get a glove on the puck in an attempt to pass it back to Ryan Miller so it can be held for a face-off. The puck flutters over Miller's right shoulder and hits the back of the net.

Danny Briere gets credit for the goal.

Kristin owes me dinner.

Ruff says that they would have won the cup if they hadn't lost.

Pominville talks about playing a full 160 minutes.

Gerbe makes a surprise appearance in the locker room after the game and bitch-slaps Connelly.

Reiger announces that Connelly has been signed to a new five-year deal.

Miller weeps softly at his locker, wipes his face with his blouse, and says, "Please print that I'm the best."

Philly goes on to get swept by Boston in Round 2.

Monday, April 11, 2011

She's Friends with Who?

It's funny how things go. I recall the days of high school that went by so long ago. There was an endless struggle to try and mix with the cool kids, the ones who controlled whether or not you could hang with the pretty girls and the ones who everyone sort of looked up to.

I like charting the progress of the so-called in crowd from my high school days and noting who is doing well and who is battling life, and sort of losing.

Today on Facebook I saw a mention of how one of the cute, in-crowd girls accepted a friendship with a guy who was a couple of rungs below me on the dork chart. (And let me tell you, I was a couple of rungs short of the real cool people because I didn't get high, or skip school, or get thrown out of class for being disrespectful).

Anyway, I was sort of caught short of breath when I noticed that the good-looking girl accepted the branch of friendship extended by the totally dorky guy. She wouldn't have spit on the poor bastard in high school and now, through the magic of the computer, they are friends.

Of course, I haven't seen the hot chick in awhile, perhaps she hit a wall a while back.

Maybe the dork is now her boss as she tries to suck up to him. I can hear it now: "Remember all the fun we had in high school!"

Yet I think the people who were really wounded in high school probably still know the score. They probably keep track of the "cool crowd" and cheer when they hear about bad luck befalling the people who roamed the halls and made fun of them.

I wonder about my kids and if they struggle at all to fit in. I suppose all kids do, and most are pretty successful at finding a place. My boys aren't shy, and I wasn't either, so sooner or later you run into someone to tell a joke to.

Not sure what the conclusion to all of these thoughts are...just sort of noticed that the crowds are mixing it up a little bit. The nerds and the jocks sending messages back and forth on Facebook.

Who'd a thunk it?

What a world.

I'm actually thinking of friend-requesting all of the hot chicks from back in the day.

It's time to get up the nerve to talk to them.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Books, Books Everywhere

I finished the Keith Richards book in little more than a day. It was one of those books that captures you, holds your attention and takes over for the time you're devouring it. The Stones were a mess and Richards was the main offender, but he didn't have his blood changed, and it's not true that he snorted his father's ashes.

Still, this is about the books that were scattered all over my room. They were stuffed into a cabinet that overflowed.

"Why don't you throw them out?" My wife asked.

I recall my mother and father having the same discussion. My mother has books all over the big house on the hill. My father never read a book cover-to-cover as far as I know. He used to tell me that he "scanned" my books, but not sure he ever finished one. That's okay, it wasn't his thing.

And people who read every night before bed understand the passion involved. I believe that I read 100 books a year. One after another. Fiction to non-fiction and there are always five books ready to go. Sometimes I read two at a time, picking them on depending on the mood I'm in.

When I finish the book, I put it in the cabinet. I probably will never read it again, but I can't bare to part with it.

So my wife sort of gave in. I got a 2nd cabinet delivered to the room yesterday. I organized my books and loaded up the cabinet. So cool. I love looking at the books all gathered. John Sandford, Stephen King, John Steinbeck, Cliff Fazzolari. All of the best books, side-by-side, just waiting there for me to pick them up again.

Those books made the cut. They won't just be tossed aside.

I suppose that someday I will have to thin out the collection but, for now, I glance at the full cabinets and think of Mom. So glad that she handed down her love of reading.

"Books are boring," my sons argue.

I sincerely beg to differ. They kick the crap out of movies, television, even sports. Sometimes after reading before sleep I will dream about the plot of the book and try to guess along with the author. Once in awhile we are in sync. Sometimes I am way off.

The thrill of it all is that the plot can go in hundreds of directions and the thrill is in the discovery.

Pick up a good book sometime. Grab a Stephen King, or a Steinbeck, or a Fazzolari.

You won't be sorry. And for god's sake don't let anyone borrow your book! Let them by their own! Starving authors who put thousands of hours into the creation of it are depending on you to just store them on a shelf, like little trophies.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

All She Needs

So, catching up on the elusive quest to return to normal acitivity. I got up and went to 4 different work-related activities this week. Two six-hour days were the highlight, but my leg was a piece of granite afterwards and during those days, I only sat in a chair!

So, not whining, but definitely still not ready for prime time.

This blog is about doing the absolute minimum to meet my duties and laying in bed, next to my dog, Melky, the rest of the time. Melky and I have had a number of long conversations over the last ten days, and while they are rather one-sided, we have reached an understanding.

Melky has all that she needs. There is a big window that overlooks our street, and she gazes out it when she doesn't feel like sleeping. As she looks out at the world, she is aggravated by the following things (in no particular order):

1). Squirrels
2). Birds
3). Mothers pushing strollers
4). other neighborhood dogs
5). Deer - she's seen two in ten days.
6). Cars pulling into the driveway next door.
7). That f*&%ing mailman

She is absolutely enamored with the following:

1). The air coming thru the open window.
2). My saying, "Melky, you're my buddy."
3). Me petting her ears.
4). Someone calling her to eat or go outside.
5). The bus pulling to a stop to let the kids off after school.

And this morning, as we discussed our schedule (I told you the family has left me basically alone) Melky seemed a bit disinterested.

And it dawned on me.

Her life is awesome and she is rather enjoying having someone to share it with.

She believes the food is good (although I disagree), the bed is warm, the window is a few inches away, deep sleep a moment after closing her eyes is easily achieved, and love is just a piece of rawhide away.

Nice, simple and clean. Why worry about anything else?

And you think I didn't learn anything through our long conversations!

Now if I can only apply what she's taught me when the leg starts bending right again.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Your Good Name

Manny Ramirez may have been the greatest right-handed hitting outfielder I ever saw. When he was on the Indians they knocked the Yankees out of the playoffs in '97. I grew to hate him.

Then he went to the Sux. My hatred grew, but I respected the hell out of him as a hitter. With Ortiz, I thought they were the best one-two punch in the sport.

I was also suspicious.

I was told they were clean. They beat the Yanks in '04 and finally won the World Series. I wasn't happy, but I live in a town where titles are hard to come by and the stories about people from New England going to their father's grave sites to tell them about the win sort of struck a chord.

"It's 26 to 5," I would say. "Good for them."

Then they won another one and my hate for Manny and Ortiz grew, but hey, you had to respect them, right? They were at the top of their game.

Turns out they were frauds. Certainly not the only frauds in the game. There were drug cheats on every team. Even the Yankees.

But the Yankees lined up to tell their story. Ortiz claimed not to be able to speak English anymore, and Manny didn't say a dang thing.

He failed a drug test. Couldn't deny it anymore. He moved onto LA and laughed at those who dared ask him about it.

Suddenly he couldn't hit like he used to. It all ended really, really quick.

I wonder why.

This year was to be a rebirth. Manny was working hard. He signed with Tampa and promised that he would be as good as ever. I wasn't happy. Last thing I needed was a refreshed Manny back hitting homers in the same division.

Turns out he felt so good because he was back on the juice. News just came down that he failed another drug test. He promptly retired.

And texting back and forth with a buddy of mine who is a Red Suck fan, I felt sorry for Manny.

That's right. I felt sorry for him! He cheated and I felt bad!

You know why?

Because his name will forever be tarnished. He will be thought of as something like a clown, a cheat, a fraud, Manny being Manny turned out to be something of a joke.

And a lot of those players are in the same boat. Great players. Thought they should cheat to get a little more. That isn't the way to get ahead, is it?

Live your life on the straight and narrow, I say. Do it the fair and honest way. Work hard, pay your debts. Keep your good name.

Because at the end of the day what is the cost?

In my mind, Manny Ramirez is no longer one of the greatest right-handed hitters in the history of the greatest game ever invented.

Instead he's just another cheater.

Forever.

Big-ass, dumb fraud.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Shut 'Er Down!

So they are talking about a government shutdown.

Blah, blah, blah...they can't get along. He said this...she said that...I'm going to take my ball and go home.

I say, shut it the hell down!

Do it for long enough so that we can save a little money on the goofy bastards who work for the government and do about 2 hours work in every 8 hour day.

I say, let them enjoy a nice, long lay-off like the poor people in the country have had to suck on for the last whatever, three years?

Lay 'em all off. Congresmmen, senators, press secretaries, vice-president, president. Let 'em all stand in a line for cheese that they buy with their food stamps.

Better yet, make them get real jobs. I know a bunch of construction companies where they could actually get their hands dirty and understand what it means to do back-breaking work.

If they actually had to work a couple of weeks perhaps they'd go back and do their jobs with some sense of what it takes all of us to do ours.

I read a great article the other day by Mitch Albom a columnist out of Detroit. He wrote all of those best-sellers as well.

Anyway, Albom was talking about the state of the working man in this country and how the middle is getting squeezed there as well. The big shots laid off the lowest rung of their employees and made those poor bastards in the middle suck it up. Fear that they'd be losing their jobs as well, the number of hours on the job doubled and tripled.

It was all because of the economy. Watch Judge Judy sometime...every person standing in front of her is unemployed and has been for about a year. They always say, 'The way the economy is....'

And we've accepted that the economy sucks. Either you don't have a job or you have a job where you work a zillion hours at a flat rate. Then the top cats, who've found that profits are going back up, haven't bothered to hire the low guys back.

"We can run the company by running the middle into the ground, why do we need to add those employees we fired?"

And what to do with the profits?

"Well, those profits are mine. I took the risk to start the company in the first place."

So there is no low-level employee and the middle guy is getting burnt the hell out. The low guys are now appearing on Judge Judy. And if anyone asks:

"We blame it on the economy, even though we are making more money now than we did before."

So shut it all the hell down. Leave Kelly and Regis alone and we can have the entire working poulation of the country at home, collecting benefits, and wondering when the fat cats are going to throw us another crumb.

(Just a little rant here. My freaking leg still hurts. It may not actually make sense, but it passed the time until the next pain pill).

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Glimmer Twins

I'm reading Keith Richards autobiography called Life. I was a little hesitant to read it because the Stones are my second favorite rock and roll act...and on some days they are my favorite.

I didn't want to hear about how weird they were, or are.

Of course, they are nothing at all like me. They are English. I'm American. They were hard-core druggies, and despite the last week filled with hydrocodene, I'm not. They are world famous billionaires...I have trouble getting a bottle of water delivered to my resting spot in my house.

So we are different.

Still I'm so curious. How did Brian Jones die? Do Keith and Mick really hate each other? Did Keith really have his blood changed out due to excessive drugs as we have our teeth cleaned? Did Mick really sleep with half the people he was supposed to have slept with?

So far, about a quarter of the way through the book I am pleasantly surprised. Keith is talking about his one true love...not all the women...not the money...not the fame...but the music!

Early on, he is only talking of his love of music and how much they wanted to put something together just for themselves out of a love of being creative and making a difference as those who sang before them made a difference to them.

That I can respect.

They had no idea that their arrival on the scene would cause such a reaction. Richards speaks of women passing out and peeing their pants when they walked on the stage. He said that the sound systems were so bad in some of the places that they didn't even sing Stones songs. Mick would sing Popeye the Sailor Man and the women would still swoon.

So at least I have that going for me...now to get down to the drug days and try and figure out how such great music emerged from the smoke of that rock and roll room.

Damn! I gotta go listen to Exile on Main Street.

I just can't wait for the day when my kids beg me to listen to my Stones songs.

I pray that when I finish the book that I still have that idol-like-view of Mick and Keith.

Something tells me I'm going to see it all from a different point of view.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Kelly Ripa Save Me!

Every day over the course of the last week I've watched Regis and Kelly from 9 am to 10 am. I don't believe that I ever saw the show more than once leading to this week.

While Kelly Ripa is no Kathy Fazzolari, she's certainly an attractive, funny woman, and lately I've started looking forward to catching up with her daily antics.

Today they debuted a wax figure of her on the show and I found myself wondering how I could get the lifestyle wax figure into our home.

Cut to the early afternoon. I had visited a job meeting and was preparing my ice pack as Kathy began preparing dinner. Fried potatoes and cube steaks. Very nice.

We began a conversation as I filled a couple of bags with ice, and I said, "Come on upstairs for a minute, we can continue the conversation."

I just wanted to lie down.

Moments later, we were talking about the day when Sam called out.

"Something's burning here!"

I thought about the cube steak turning into a piece of leather. Still Kathy headed down the stairs without too much urgency.

A second later she was screaming. "Help! Fire! There's a Fire!"

I jumped from the bed.

"Hurry up! Now! Run!" she yelled.

Uhhhh, run?

"Oh my God! oh my God! oh my God!

"Smother it with a towel," I said.

It was too late. She threw the pan into the sink and turned the water on the grease fire, not fully expecting the flash.

Thankfully, the water doused the fire, but the screaming continued.

"All right, relax, open the windows," I said.

"Why didn't you hurry?" Kathy asked.

I pointed to my knee. "Did the best I could do."

We have a charred ceiling and melted curtains. The smoke has cleared, but for one reason or another all I could think of was the wax figure of Kelly Ripa.

It would have melted in the fire.

Right next to me, the guy who fell down the stairs trying to flee the building.

You know, I don't even remember what we were talking about.

Absolutely Everything Sucks

I have reached the everything sucks stage in my surgery recoup. Let's go through the paces together, huh?

I really had no idea what to expect the day after surgery. Being that I am extremely slow-minded, I thought I'd miss one day and hobble through the rest of last week. As discussed here, just plain dumb.

So, I rested. Four days of ice, elevate, Fresh Prince, baseball, hockey, NCAA, more baseball. I got so sick of sports at one point that I watched a Lifetime movie about a real sinister guy who preys on the love of a young girl...it was good. I was shouting at the screen.

Through it all, Melky has been by my side. Threatening anyone who comes to visit my room with immediate expulsion.

So, I was ready to go yesterday morning. Out of bed early and off to a work gig. I promised the nurse (Kathy) I'd do one visit and come back home. In the back of my mind, I thought I'd sneak in two, perhaps three visits. Halfway through the first meeting, I knew I was done. The leg was like a piece of granite.

Had I done something wrong? In the afternoon I called the doctor. When I told him it still hurt, he laughed. "It's supposed to," he said.

The information-sharing was still not enough for me. I googled post-op information for the type of tear removal that I'd had.

I wasn't supposed to take off the brace. I wasn't supposed to be on it day one. Now I could do a little walking, but not much. I should consider a return to work after two weeks, but full activity could take six. My leg would feel like granite until at least two weeks.

So, now I know.

I have not been a very good patient. Sort of like the Bubble Boy in the Seinfeld episode. I wonder why the kids aren't visiting. Yet I see how it goes for a patient. There is a lot of mis-directed anger. It makes me wonder why anyone in their right mind would want to be a nurse.

So, yesterday everything sucked. (Except the Yankees - they won again).

Today, things will be different. I will be more like Kelly Ripa who is on right now. I will be a ray of sunshine to everyone who crosses my path.

Problem is, no one wants to visit the bubble boy anymore after yesterday's mood.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Healing Game

I just put on a pair of pants. Woo-hoo! I'm going off to work today for a little while. Now, mind you, it's against my nurse's orders, but not necessarily against my docs.

I don't know for sure because I'm afraid to ask him.

Yet I'm playing it smart, folks because I'm healing.

When the body breaks down, even for a little while, there is certainly a rebirth in the fact that it builds back up. Don't you feel great when the cold breaks up and you start eating food again, mere days after the time when the idea of food repulsed you?

The swelling has gone down. There is more mobility in the leg to be sure, but the pain has not yet left the building. That will come, though, and to be honest I've grown used to it a litle. We've become buddies.

Yet healing isn't confined to the physical being of a person. I've been down for a few days now and the mental drain of living also takes some getting used to. The rest has helped me there as well.

For two years the God-Clifford relationship has sort of been on the backburner. It's like those moments when you don't really want to talk to your spouse, but they're there, and you keep it cordial so that you can get to the next day without it blowing up in your face.

(I've been told some people live that way...not here in Camelot).

Lately, however, God and I have been chatting a bit more. I'm not tapping my chest and pointing skyward yet, but together we are sorting through our baggage.

Life is simply a work in progress.

The break down, the build back up. The falling and then the standing up again. The toss from the horse and the crawl to pick up the saddle.

I have pants on.

Little bit at a time.

Steady.

Steady.

Already dreaming about the bag of ice.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Kicking Through TV Shows

Lets see what's on the tube, shall we?

The new Arthur movie doesn't look great to me. I like Russell Brand, but no one will ever beat Dudley Moore in that role. Who didn't love that movie? Even Liza Minelli looked good then. Remember when his mother told him: Arthur grow-up!...Dudley Moore, playing a great drunk: That's easy for you to say, you don't have a closet full of small suits.

Hopefully, its all right. Can't see why they don't make new movies about new characters...watch a romantic comedy...same damn plot line every time.

Just saw Dick Clark on Bloopers as I was passing through. He was about 50 in the show that was on. It was hard to tell though because he always seemed to be the same age. Not anymore. His annual appearance on the New Year's Eve show is disconcerting. His countdown makes you feel like taking your own life rather than celebrating getting a year closer to your own demise.

Can't someone put a stop to Dick making appearances? I wish him health and many more years, but I don't want to see him. Same with Kirk Douglas.

Now Roseanne. Have you seen her lately? She's lost like two people, gone grey and put on glasses. She looks like an intellectual now. But I'm watching the old show...John Goodman was great. Their parenting was a little off, but I laugh every episode. The two Becky's confused me though.

Sports highlights. There's Victor Martinez rounding the bases after hitting a homer as the Tigers get spanked by the 27-time World Champion Yankees. Martinez crosses home plate, taps his chest, points skyward and gives the glory to God. Why does that bug me so much?

I don't mind that Martinez has faith. I don't care that he feels like he should acknowledge that faith after doing his job, but why the demonstration? Is he trying to convince me that if I promise to point skyward that I too can hit a fastball over a wall? And if he is acknowledging a lost loved one? Again, can't do that in silence?

I love commercials and the blatant attempt to show diversity in every single ad. There are always two white guys with a black guy, a Asian girl and a Hispanic comic foil. It just is weird to be able to point it out in commercial after commercial. Not sure how I feel about it...just notice it a lot.

I hate the talking heads. Now I know how the Bush-mongers felt about Dubya being criticized at every turn. The constant arguing is irritating at best. I actually hate even trying to discuss anything political at all. Just hate, hate, hate. I hate it.

Finally, more reports on school budget cuts as states get tough. All out of money...suck it up kids! I don't get it. I've always been of the opinion that money is best spent at home. How much have these endless wars cost us? We certainly could keep soccer on the agenda at the local school if we just sat on the sidelines for one of the battles.

Ah what the hell do I know?

I'm just a worn-out gimp, watching tv, and counting down to the next pain pill.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Taking Stock...Again

Although I fancy myself as a helluva' thinker, I must admit that I really haven't figured out a whole hell of lot in the past few days.

Let's assess the scene: it's the middle of the night, although time is irrelevant. I'm watching Married with Children, coming off a day when I saw three baseball games and at least four episodes of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. I had figured that I could get the notebook out and jot down some thoughts for writing purposes, but "Oh no, I gotta' pee," won't make much in the way of reading.

But I am thinking of what I've been missing: work, for instance. I have worked for so many years, and with a true dedication that I feel as if I am letting down the people who pay me. I need to reconcile that as I will be better in the long run, but it bothers me.

Secondly, I am missing out on the family dynamic. Evidently I'm not thrilling enough to just hang with. Other than Melky, no one seems all that fired up about watching me move the ice pack around. Yet I'm a lucky man because my wife was trained in nursing and she's really taking care of me. She even cooked my steak perfectly despite her love of burning meat. So I got that going for me.

Even though she does not seem enamored by the idea of showing off what she learned about sponge baths, and did you know that nurses don't have dress uniforms anymore. Also, yesterday after not seeing her for about an hour, I asked where she'd been.

"You aren't my only patient," she said.

The training has paid off.

So, I'm missing the family.

I'm also missing a benefit for a guy who truly suffered: my 30-year old nephew who nearly died over the winter due to Thyroid Shock. 72 days in the hospital, and although he is on the mend, is still traveling a bumpy road. Two young kids, a great wife, and a lot of suffering in the rearview mirror. I know the benefit will be a huge success. Enjoy the day Jake.

And so taking stock, I see only the goodness in the world. Beyond the suffering there is giving. Jake was sick and the people who love him are working hard to help.

The relief for the people of Japan is pouring in. The United States is trying to save the people of another torn country. Break it down, build it up. When you are down, stay down for the shortest amount of time possible, and when you're back on your feet, appreciate the solid moments.

Shh, I hear stirring in another part of the house!

Is the nurse looking for a sponge?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Living in Pain

I have a buddy who keeps texting me: Mind over Matter when it comes to my throbbing, unbendable leg. It may be because I was ignorant enough to say that to him once.

There are people who suffer in pain, in silence, every day. This post is for them. To the elderly, the ill, the chronic suffering, its all for you.

Because its awful.

And its especially disconcerting right now, because its my leg. And since I'm a writer, and since my pain tolerance isn't what I believed it to be, and since mind over matter is purely a moronic statement, I will not suffer in silence.

Yet there is certainly a lesson here, a lesson about taking things for granted and not appreciating the gifts that are bestowed upon us.

You see, I always, always fall asleep by turning on my stomach. I almost had to give that up because I developed a fear of heights, but that's another story.

Now, for two whole nights, I can't turn on my little belly to sleep. I have to start on my back, and despite waking up like that, evidently I can't drift to sleep in such a position.

And this isn't whining. I hate whiners. This is tragic, however, because, once more, it's my leg!

But I think of the millions of people who bravely battle their afflictions. If you beat the hell out of cancer, or suffer from chronic back pain. If you battled through an operation that took all of your strength and your brilliant mind to defeat the matter...my heart goes out.

Once more, don't take your health for granted. Thank the good Lord for the pain free days.

I will be the voice of the whiners for what looks like a few more days because my knee really hurts.

Did I already mention that?

Mind over matter my ass!

Happy Birthday, Brother

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