Wednesday, August 31, 2011

It's Not My Fault, By George

A two-blog day as I am leaving early in the a.m. and just have one more thing to say...

I hesitate to get into it, but I'm frustrated.

Obama can't get anything done because no one is playing nice and because Bush left him in such a mess. That's his story and he's sticking to it.

Bush left him in a mess because Clinton left him in a mess.

Clinton left Jr. in a mess because George's daddy was a mess.

You see where I'm going with this?

I have it figured out.

It was all George's fault! And I'm not talking Dubya or Herbert Walker (whatever the hell that's all about) I'm talking Washington.

Yep, follow the train of blame...it all goes back to the guy before you, evidently.

So, why do I need to get to the bottom of this?

Well, I saw Obama playing pass the blame game and then I did something that I want to poke my eyes out for doing...I read the account of Cheney's new book.

I definitely don't want to get into a Republican-Democrat, he-said, she-said pissing contest here, but I think Cheney is a truly polarizing figure.

What I gleamed from his new book is that Obama hasn't done enough to fix the economy that had nothing to do with what George and Cheney left him. They couldn't help it.

According to Cheney, Obama also hasn't done enough to get us out of the turmoil of two wars.

Does anyone else see anything wrong with that logic, or am I dumb?

"He's had 2 and a half years," Cheney said. "There hasn't been enough progress."

Like the eight previous years?

And Cheney doesn't even stop there. Everything the Bush Administration did right was his idea and everything they did wrong was Dubya, Powell and Condy's idea.

It's a joke. Obama got Bin Laden because of what Bush and Cheney did to start the ball rolling.

I didn't say that, Cheney did.

Yet, it is the same with all of them. Carter was handed the Iran problem by Ford. Nixon was lost in his own paranoia. Johnson had Viet Nam because of Kennedy.

No one cops to anything!!!!

You can't just take credit for the good and push the bad on the guy who came before you.

Imagine if you did that in your own life.

Try telling your boss that you couldn't do it because Bob, the guy from account-temps screwed it up eight freaking years ago!

Be accountable.

You strike out, walk back to the dugout with your head held high, believing you'll get it next time. Don't sit down and tell the manager that the umpire sucks.

Sometimes you have to hit a ball in the dirt out of the park.

Really great players do that.

The guys that hit .200 blame everyone else.

Now that I've figured it out, I must say, I never really liked George Washington...

...he looked too much like Barbara Bush.

E.S.C.N.

The Entertainment Sports Cliff Network.

What's happening in a world where playing with a ball will make you a king.

1). Cliff Fazzolari is resting comfortably after five days of golf in 6 days. Despite his frail condition there's an outside chance he will be ready for the weekend when the folks from Baltimore make their weekly trip to Buffalo. This time the Baltimorons will get a drubbing.

2). The 27-time World Champion Yankees soundly whipped the Boston Suck Sox last night despite the fact that the Yankees had been forced by MLB to play their 5th game in 3 days while the Suck Sox had 2 days off to get ready. Watching the game, however, was painful as the Suck Sox pitchers take a full 40 seconds to throw each pitch. MLB is looking into it.

3). Javaris Crittenton is finally under arrest after shooting a mother of four last week - allegedly - the former NBA player can't understand why they are charging him. He didn't mean to shoot her. He was aiming for the guy she was standing next to. Can they still charge you when you miss the target? If he knew that was a crime he wouldn't have done it. This is the same guy who got kicked out of the NBA because he was the first sponser of the 'bring your guns to work' program.

4). Barry Bonds may still be held for obstruction of justice in his steroid case. In fact, he will be sentenced in December. They wanted to sentence him earlier but he has denied ever taking steroids. The case has taken so long to sort out because the courts have had to expand their front doors so that Bonds' head can clear the sidewalls so he can attend the hearing.

5). Michael Vick is a rich man again. "I had no idea, when I was drowning them bastards, that killing dogs was wrong," Vick said. "One of 'em shit on the carpet too, you never hear that get reported by these animal lovers."

Vick's contract is for $100 million dollars and there is a clause in it that says the future lawyers in dog-killers life are free to grab as much money as they can before he kills something else and claims that killing is part of how he was brought up.

Vick had a huge grin at the press conference to announce the deal. As pen met the paper Vick was mouthing the words that got him through his prison sentence and his months long recovery:

"Electrocution is wrong. Death by hanging is wrong. Drowning defenseless creatures is wrong. Throwing the ball and running fast is okay."

"Mike has finally got it," the proud Eagles owner said.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Good Lord

There are quite a few miles between Albany and New York City. In fact, the land there is majestic and the people who live in the small towns are of hearty stock. Hardworking people who enjoy a much simpler life.

I wander into those parts for work every now and again and I thrill the locals by asking them what the hell they do for fun or why they would live so far off the beaten trail.

They love me in those parts as much as people love me in the rest of the world.

The creek really rose in some of those places. It's real strange too because Irene for those of us here in Buffalo was something to watch and follow without fully understanding. It didn't so much as drizzle here so it's hard to feel the devastation and pain.

Last night I was flipping around and I caught a news report on the devastation in a small New York town. A big woman was sorting through what was left of her house, which as far as I could tell was like the house made of sticks that went down during the huffing and the puffing.

"Before it hit, I prayed to the Good Lord to spare us," the woman said.

Obviously, the Good Lord didn't hear her.

She was sorting through the debris and was thrilled with a broken lamp that she pulled out from underneath a splintered door.

"We've lost everything," she said.

She was doing a lousy job of controlling her tears. I thought of all of the 'stuff' we have around our house. The mess that would be our lives. The hurt, the anger, the unforgiving aspects of my lovely personality.

I would be extremely pissed.

"We just have to go on," the woman said, "trusting that the Good Lord has a plan for us and knowing that He will provide."

Okay, let's recap:

The storm is coming in. Unknown lady prays the rosary. She closes her eyes believing with all her heart that she will be spared. She believes that she is in the Good Lord's favor, but she moves to higher ground, just in case.

The storm hits. Her house is blown to pieces.

This is where I'm lost.

Digging through the debris, she's back to the 'Good Lord will provide' part of our program.

Uh, what if He doesn't?

He sort of missed your entire: 'Spare my house routine.'

She picked up an old photo of her mother and tears filled her eyes.

It was good television to be sure. But it was so real, so sad, devastating.

"God won't let us down," she said.

I felt like laughing.

How could she be so faithful?

As they cut away from the lady and showed the overview shot of her shattered home, I did the only thing I could.

I prayed for her.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Assessing the Damage

It seems that if the storm doesn't come through then there isn't a lot of reason to wonder how you withstood the forces that you can't control.

Unfortunately, the storms keep coming, so we are constantly in motion to figure out just where we stand.

I woke up thinking about the chaos all around. The casino fire in Mexico. The Libya shit storm, for lack of a better word, the fact that Hurricane Irene hammered the east coast.

I imagine that there are a lot of people who are spending the day wondering how bad it all was for them as they attempt to move forward through the rubble and debris.

We had Mom over for pasta yesterday afternoon.

You talk about weathering the storm. She is by far and away the toughest person I've ever met.

I just know all the shit that's gone down over the last few years has ripped her apart. She can get tears in her eyes whenever there's a simple old story, that's supposed to make her laugh, but she pushes right through it.

Three sentences later, she's telling her own funny story.

And her days and nights are lonely. We have a big, close family...we try and keep her on her toes...and for the better part of it all she toughs it out.

The original suck it up and tough it out influence. My kids will be better people as they move along because of the lessons she provided to me and my siblings.

My Dad used to say 'Keep punching.' Rocky Marciano signed an autograph that way.

'Keep punching.'

So, for the people out there trying to figure out what they've lost, and for all that are commiserating that its all too tough, look around.

There are a lot of people who will provide the spark.

People, like Mom, who don't give an inch...

even when it really, really sucks.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

You Are Like a Hurricane

There are storms in your eyes.

Can't help but think of Neil Young whenever I hear about a hurricane.

Many observations as beautiful Buffalo sits here pretty with 78 degrees and clear skies.

All those snow jokes don't seem quite so funny now, do they?

But I have a lot of sympathy. Water where it's not wanted just plain sucks. I've thrown many a fit when our basement has flooded and its so dirty, so aggravating, and so much work to get rid of the smell.

What I don't have sympathy for are the idiots who stand out in it. How can you be so senseless?

The news is reporting the death of a man who was out riding the waves. That's a shocker. That's an idiot. Death doesn't allow for mistakes. He won't be at work on Monday telling his friends how cool it was to ride the wave. Invigorating, huh?

There's no more invigorating left.

And the stupid weather dudes. One guy we were watching was reporting to us about the end of a pier being washed away. The wind was whipping, the rain was falling in sheets, and he was real adamant about staying inside as he showed us the damaged pier.

HE WAS STANDING ON THE OTHER END OF IT!

"I almost want to see him get washed out to shore," I told my buddy Jeff.

And I can't imagine what is going on in New York City today. That has to be a madhouse.

"Go to your homes," the mayor is saying.

Plenty of people there who don't have homes. Where should they go?

Another of the news accounts told me that people were being lifted off their feet as they were walking through the streets.

Stay home, people!

I can't even step off a curb anymore without getting hurt. I just can't imagine being flung down a city street.

78 and sunny!

Enjoy!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Tin Man

Now that's a good week. 90 holes of golf. Actually, it felt a lot like how I want my retirement years to go, but what are the chances that I'll be in better health by then?

Let's recap. I played 18 holes on Monday with a buddy...quick round. Lunch, home in time to spend the rest of the day with Kathy and the boys and make dinner.

Tuesday...a carbon copy of Monday. Hit the ball better. Watched a movie. Bed early.

Wednesday...wrote a little...home until late in the afternoon...another 18 holes...hit the ball downright well. Dinner and a movie with the kids. Watched baseball with Sam.

Thursday...Matt to college. Lots of thinking about the past. Another nice night with the family. Didn't hit a golf ball and felt like I was a bit stiff. I'd be okay.

Friday...a seven hour round of golf with 20 great friends in an annual event. By hole 15 I felt like swinging a club again would cause me to fall to the ground in a heap of pain. A lot of laughs though and I can really play the game sometimes...then again, I really can't sometimes too.

Saturday...do you believe another round of golf? I thought of the tin man. Remember how great he felt when they hit him with the oil can?

I may limber up by Tuesday or Wednesday.

But the mind is clear.

Where's my ball?

How far out are we?

Which way does this break?

Is the wind going to be a factor?

Those were the pressing questions of the week.

Celebrate living...every so often.

I can't wait to get back to work.

Carry me to bed.

Friday, August 26, 2011

I Think That Dude is St. Bonaventure


The entire moving in extravaganza can sort of be summed up like this:

Matt didn't want any one's help anymore and he used cockiness to portray that he was completely on his own now...short of the thousands of dollars he needs...and Kathy walked on eggshells holding off on blubbering in front of him, dropping to her knees and begging him to suddenly need his diaper changed again.

Me?

A lot of envy to be honest.

His room is about ten steps from the rec hall. I remember the endless games of hoops. There was always someone willing to play. 18-year-old me would be on the floor for hours...sweating out the beer.

It didn't matter to me that three trips up and down the hardwood now would render me useless or that my hip started bugging me when we made the ten steps from his room to the rec center. In my mind, I was 18 again.

And a whole slew of freshman girls walked by. Matt closely followed their approach and their stroll by. He didn't say anything. He didn't have to. I'd been there.

Just like nearly thirty years ago, they strolled by without even looking up. But still...thirty years ago there was a slight chance!

We had a sandwich in the cafeteria. I distinctly recalled sitting across from Gag as he ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every single day. The school paid for my sandwich yesterday.

It was the worst $20,000 sandwich I ever had.

Back to the room Kathy wanted to help unpack. She wanted to put the television in place, plug in the night light and make sure his toothbrush was in the holder. Matt stopped just short of asking us to leave, but I recognized his angst. I had been in such a hurry too when I was his age.

"Let's get the hell out of here," I said. "See you in ten years."

There were no long drawn-out tearful hugs. By ten o'clock we'd all received text messages from him. He'd put his television where he wanted to put it.

Coincidentally, it was right where his mommy had asked him to put it.

Little bastard is going to have the time of his life.

And here I sit.

Sore leg, weakened liver, bed by ten p.m.

Goes fast, man.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Don't Need it Now

It all started on Christmas when my brother-in-law informed my kids that they were living in a stone age because our television was old.

Up until that point it seemed that we had just bought the set. Turns out it's at least eight years old. I don't pay attention to such details. I can see the 27-time World Series Champion Yankees on it...what else do I need?

And I think of that all the time. Bono of U2 singing in it's a Beautiful Day, what you don't have you don't need it now, don't need it now, don't need it now.

I don't need a new television. But then I went to a buddy's house and the Yankees were on. I could see the stones in the dirt.

"That's a helluva' picture," I said.

And the kids started to chime in. Jake likes to compare his childhood to being raised in a concentration camp. Funny kid. 4 more years until we are packing him off, I believe.

And if it's up to me, we'll have the same television.

So I come through the door last night and I see a television in our front room. Brand new. Medium-size, probably a great picture. It's still in the box.

"That's Matt's to take to college," my beautiful wife said.

I tried real hard to imagine a television in my freshman dorm room. Help me out here, Gag and Rosie...did we have one?

I'm thinking at best it was a real small black and white with no cable, of course. There wasn't a computer. No video games.

"You went to school in the stone ages," my mother-in-law said.

"That's why all you did was drink," my wife chimed in.

"I must have done something more than drink," I tried in my own defense.

"Yeah, right."

So, a brand new television is walking out the door this afternoon. Me and my poor refugee kids are going to have to make due with the monstrosity in the center of our living room.

Oh the suffering.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Earth Shakes

I didn't feel the earthquake. As far as I know it could all be a rumor that started on Facebook somewhere. But I have no reason to doubt it. The universe struggles sometimes to get into a perfect position.

What is interesting about it is that every time the earth shifts a bit someone is out there telling me to prepare for the end of time. The day of reckoning is nearly upon us. They've been saying that since before Christ appeared once.

Are we ready people?

The earth is shifting around here as well. Tomorrow is the day when we load up the truck and shift Matt off to his first year of college. My beautiful wife feels as if the ground she is standing upon has shifted so much that she may eventually lose her balance.

I went off to college. I know that he is not about to enter a world of angst and pain. He's on his way to a ton of fun days.

Yet I am also mindful, despite the jubilation, that he is being afforded an opportunity.

(Oh wifey, this is the part where you make Matt read this blog).

Our pockets are filled with choices. In one pocket we have our personal seeds of destruction. We spill them all over the land. From California-to-Connecticut-to Erie and Maryland I have spilled the seeds but unfortunately the bad shit didn't take hold...very often.

Like myself Matt is being handed a chance to get ahead of others based on decisions made for him by the people who love him. He has a full opportunity to succeed.

Yet the world is filled with people who stood before the opportunity, spit on it, pissed all over it, and then walked away blaming something else.

Responsibility is a funny thing. It must be felt to be understood. There are a million guys and girls who head off to school without truly feeling as if they are responsible for anything.

"I'm having the time of my life and my parents are proud of me," was a toast we used to do in college. Or words similiar to that - there may have been a few adjectives involved.

So, Matt, understand that along with the seeds of destruction that are known to every man, your mother and I also filled your pockets with a light and a map so that when you're confronted with darkness you will be able to find your way to the door.

Don't lose the map.

You're going to need it.

Make the choices.

Have the time of your life.

And just when you think that your feet are firmly planted on the ground, remember:

the earth shakes.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Code

Whew! I don't know about you but I just can't get enough about the Kardashian wedding. What was she wearing? Did it cover her entire fat ass? Did he whisper 'I love you?'

Who in the hell are these people?

Anyway, got back from a relaxing round of golf yesterday. Didn't care about the score. Didn't care about who won or lost. Just hit the ball, chased it and hit it again. Played okay as well. Golfed with just one other guy so we had a lot of time to chat about life.

The Kardashian wedding didn't come up.

Then I returned home just in time for a bag of ice and Gunsmoke.

Perfect.

The particular episode that I was watching was about Marshall Dillon being chased through the woods by a family of lunatics who spoke about the family code, the man code, respect, and doing things the right way, man on man.

Gunsmoke faded to Bonanza (the lawman got 'em all in Gunsmoke and taught them a little more about the code).

On Bonanza Little Joe and Adam were competing for the affection of one of the ladies that visited.

I was rooting for Little Joe, of course, but that doesn't mean I think he's cute.

Anyhow...

Ben and Hoss and Adam and Joe talked a lot about women and how they should be treated. They removed their hats whenever one of the women showed their presence. They held the door, they watched their language. All very respectful and in a way kind of weird.

Respect and the code of living right were reinforced in those types of shows every week. Kids saw that. Kids learned the code.

I imagine that if my kids had been watching with me yesterday they might have said something along the lines of:

Did Joe get the skank?

Did Dillon blast a cap in their ass?

Isn't little Joe cute?

I don't know. I just watched in amazement. Try tipping your cap or kissing the hand of a woman you're just meeting.

You'll most likely be scooped off the street for harassment.

I blame the Kardashians.

Monday, August 22, 2011

What's On the Agenda?

Yesterday I wanted to golf, but it rained hard. So, instead, I hung around the house, lecturing myself that there didn't have to be a list of things to do, and that I could relax.

I checked into Camp Clifford.

Let me tell you, there isn't a lot going on at the camp.

Kathy worked, mind you, so one of the camp leaders was gone. I got out of bed before six, which is a violation of camp rules, but I allowed the other campers to wake up naturally. (That wasn't easy for me to do, by the way).

Sam made an appearance around ten. I had already been to church and grocery shopping. The sauce was on and I'd had breakfast and read the entire paper.

"What're you going to do today?" I asked Sam.

"Little of this, little of that," he said. (The camp motto).

"You guys need to go to church," I said.

"What if they aren't up," Sam asked.

"It's mass at noon, they'll be up," I said. "Trust me."

We watched SportsCenter. At Camp Clifford ESPN is on a loop. They catch Sportscenter ten times.

"You cleaning your room?" I asked Sam.

"I was going to play COD."

A purely Camp Clifford answered.

At a few minutes after 11, I broke another camp rule.

"Get them out of bed," I said.

The day sort of went from there. I took a big Camp Clifford nap. Ate a big dish of pasta....the food is good at camp...and watched mindless television.

By the end of the day, I was bored out of my mind.

"What's on the agenda tomorrow?" I asked my beautiful wife, who was in full camp mode.

She laughed. "Don't really have an agenda," she said.

How do they live like this?

I'm going golfing!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

I'm Still Here

Wow, I had a few weird dreams last night.

You know how it is as you wake, images flash through your mind, one after another, not one of them seems to be connected. I always try and make some sense of it in the context of what I did the night before.

I spent time at the wedding yesterday, seeing old friends that I used to party with. The shoe was literally on the other foot as we were the parents in the room filled with young people.

"You want to get a coffee?" my buddy Al asked after dinner.

I thought he was making fun of the fact that I had sipped water through the meal, but when I turned the corner he was sipping from a coffee cup.

In my dream everyone I'd ever known was gathered in a rest room. High school friends were at the urinal. An old woman who I'd rented a house to was sitting on the crapper. She shouted out my name as I entered. I gave her a most uncomfortable wave. She asked me to sign a copy of a blog that I'd written years ago. I signed it as she made small talk from her spot on the toilet seat. (Make sense of that!).

At the wedding there was a photo of my buddy's brother, Jan. I missed Jan at the wedding. He should have been there. He died way too soon. I stood with Jeff's brother Jim and we took in the photo.

"It's almost a year," Jim said.

"You'll never feel better about it," I answered.

In my dream the room outside of the rest room was a casino floor. An accountant for a company I work with was winning a lot of money on a slot machine. My mother was sitting behind him, watching, sad...not really interested.

"Did you see who's here?" I asked Mom.

"Yeah, but it ain't the same," Mom said.

Behind her was my brother Jeff. He was wearing a shirt with black, block letters on it that read:

"I'm Still Here."

I tried to engage him in conversation but he didn't seem interested at all. He was hardly talking. He didn't care about the Yankees or cooking or my golf game.

"I'm still here," he said.

Of course, I woke up utterly confused. I did the old try-to-get-back-to-sleep-to-get-back-into-the-dream-deal but it didn't work.

I was awake. The rain was threatening. Golf was postponed.

WTF as the kids might say entered my mind.

"I'm still here."

Became the blog.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

FOREVER...

...IS A LONG-ASS TIME.

My best buddy's kid is getting married today. AJ is a mere 24 years old and by all accounts, it's a match-made in heaven and he will have 50 years of togetherness at least.

As stated here before, I always think of the Bruce song, Walk Like a Man, whenever I consider marriage:

Will they ever look so happy again, the handsome groom and his bride as they step into that long black limousine for their mystery ride? Well tonight I'll step away from you and alone at the altar I'll stand; As I watch my bride coming down the aisle, I'll pray for the strength to walk like a man.

"Did you tell him how long forever is?" I asked my buddy yesterday.

We both laughed. We've both been married forever, or so it seems. Jeff has been married a lot longer than me.

"He doesn't appear to be nervous," Jeff said. "But yeah, we had a little talk."

Now I've known the kid since he busted into the world in all his glory, and he's always been a remarkable kid...sort of looks like a Fuzzy too...I swear, I'm clean...but the sacrament of marriage shouldn't be entered lightly.

I want to get him to read this blog before he actually says, I do. A few questions for AJ to contemplate.

1). Do you like dish pan hands?

2). All those things you love to do?

Choose one.

That's what you'll have left...at the end of the day. throw the rest out the window. Any-who-ha.

3). Hold off talking about kids until you're actually holding one....because that will be all you talk about for the rest of your life once they arrive.

4). Doesn't she look nice now?

It's all a mirage.

Think sweatpants and three days without a shower.

Go ahead, laugh it up...it's coming. See the above about kids when you're considering whether or not they will let themselves go.

5). The remote isn't yours anymore.

Forget it. Get another television.

Make some other sort of arrangement or you're going to be sitting there watching an episode of Big Brother or America's Got Talent, wondering, "What the hell did I do?"

6). Don't ever ask: How was your day?

Women, all women, have a profound talent for remembering all eight hours broken down into stilted, unfunny comments and words that seem to run together but really don't have anything to do with one another.

You'll be standing in front of them going:

Does this end?

It doesn't.

7). All of the cute little things they do now that you find mildly irritating but unbelievably wonderful.

Ten years down the road will be mildly wonderful and unbelievably irritating.

Of course...

None of the above has anything remotely to do with my marriage to my beautiful wife. It has been absolute Camelot since the moment when the Justice of the Peace, the honorable Ward Weiser asked me if 'I do'.

You want to know what was running through my head before I answered Ward?

Here's a secret.

My beautiful wife doesn't even know.

I was thinking of the George Burns line:

I got married by a judge...I should've asked for a jury.

True story.

Good luck, AJ.

Pray for the strength to walk like a man.

That's what I was actually thinking.

I lied three sentences ago.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Taking a Break

There really should be a new rule about taking a vacation. They should give you the day off on get-away day because you really don't feel like doing too much because the anticipation is too much to take.

They should also give you the day off on the first day back so that you don't suffer from the return-to-work hangover.

And who the hell is 'they'?

You see, my problem is that I've really had to force myself to take time off. Over the last 20 years I've sort of got to the end of the year and was surprised by the fact that I'd forgotten to take my vacation.

So, this year, I set a week off in the distance and told myself that no matter what, I was going to take it. That's next week. And all of this week I've been feeling guilty.

Remember my blog from a couple of days ago about the couple on welfare and disability?

Don't they feel guilty?

I'm supposed to get 3 weeks off, I think. I feel like I'm stealing if I take one.

So what am I doing you ask?

Golf. See the family. Cart Matt off to school. Take Melky for a ride every day. Golf. Write. Watch According to Jim in the middle of the day. Golf.

I don't know, actually, but I will most likely golf.

Just want to put work away for a week.

And how am I spending get-away-day?

Working from 5:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Welfare and disability just might be easier.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

At the End of the Day

I've been growing increasingly sick of the saying, "At the end of the day."

Yesterday on the Howard Stern show one of his guests said it about ten times. I switched to ESPN and the guy they were interviewing said it a half dozen times. It's not yet anywho-ha, but it's getting there.

Speaking of my beautiful wife I can tell that she is a bit out of sorts lately and its all because the first bird is getting ready to fly the coop.

Matt is not really flying the coop, but he is going to be heading off to college next week, and I know my wife well enough to know that she is out of her head with worry and concern.

At the end of the day there isn't a lot we can do now. Together we have raised a smart, slightly common sense-challenged young man who has no idea what the hell is waiting for him out there. But he thinks he does, and that has to count for something.

I remember the day I left for college. I was a mess, actually. I was going to miss my friends. My buddy Jeff and I were together every day during our junior and senior years of high school. We played a lot of golf, drank a bunch of beer and talked about women.

We are doing the same things now, nearly thirty years later.

Still, I remember that first night in my college bed in Erie. I remember thinking, "I miss Mom."

Not sure why that thought sticks with me, but it was an overpowering feeling on that first night away.

Then I met Fluff, Rosie, and Gag. We got drunk and life unfolded from there.

I'm sure that Matt will be fine. He will certainly see some things that we have shielded him from in his nearly problem-free upbringing. He leaves with a good head on his shoulders and a true chance to succeed.

But at the end of the day, my beautiful wife will be a wreck. Oh, I know that she will put on a brave face as he gets out of the car, but she's going to cry too.

I know it.

The thing about my wife is that she can not be any more dedicated to these little hoodlums. She sacrifices a lot to make sure that their every need is handled in a timely fashion and God knows she has so much more patience than me when it comes to listening to them gripe.

So, at the end of the day, where does it leave us?

One less mouth to feed on a daily basis, but I certainly feel that there are going to be a number of trips to Olean.

"I booked the hotel for parents weekend," Kathy told me the other day.

"He hasn't even left yet!" I said.

At the end of the day, she is going to be counting the minutes until she sees his goofy, all-knowing face again.

I enjoy seeing my wife's dedication, but at the end of the day, I'm probably going to laugh when she has tears in her eyes on the way home from dropping him off to start the best four years of his life.

At the end of the day.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The American Way

The other night I caught an episode of JJ (Judge Judy). (We simply refer to her as JJ around here.)

I hadn't been catching JJ much because a lot of time is spent watching the 27-time World Champion, First-Place New York Yankees...but anyway...

JJ had a couple of able-bodied people in front of her who were arguing about money in front of their 15-year old son. It wasn't a ton of money, mind you, because they were both on disability and welfare. The woman made $4,000 taxable dollars and the man hadn't paid taxes since 2008 when he made a total of 8 grand.

"What's wrong with you?" JJ asked.

"My back," the guy said.

"My back hurts every day," JJ said. "I'm not disabled."

Cut to Warren Buffett saying that the ultra-rich should be taxed at a higher rate. He's right.

Yet the problem-solution lies right there in cleaning up those two items. Greed and laziness.

Then there are the poor slobs in the middle. The majority of working Americans who get up and slough off to work each day.

Sore back?

Suck it up.

Wanna' send your kid to college?

Add twenty years to your retirement age.

New golf club?

The wife will beat you with it.

I took my JJ experience to the streets. A couple of my drywall buddies and I hit the subject hard.

"It's the American Way," one of them said. "Steal as much as you can whether you're at the top or the very bottom. Let the guys in the middle pay for it all."

Guys who hang drywall are a brilliant bunch.

And I'm not kidding.

The backbone of the country.

Thank God they're willing to work.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

How Big?


There was a profoundly poignant moment during the softball game when my entire life flashed before my eyes.

A can or corn was hit into short center field. My cousin Tony was playing deep in center and since I was at 2nd and the shortstop was way in the hole, I knew it was my ball, or it was a hit.

"Go, go, go," I told my legs.

Two seconds later:

"Go, go, go," I told my legs.

It wasn't that far away. In the recent past I might have caught it. 10 years ago, I most likely would have grabbed it. 20 years ago, I would have been there waiting for it to come down.

On Sunday I didn't get within ten yards of it. My cousin actually ended up closer to making the catch than I did.

Last night I asked Sam to grab me a bottle of water.

"I ran for every game," he said. "I ran for you, Uncle Jim, Uncle John, Mr. Renaldo, Uncle Chuck, Mr. Popple...how come I'm getting you a water?"

"Because you have ten year old legs," I said.

"But you only ran about three times," he answered.

"JUST GET ME A FREAKING WATER, PLEASE!"

I didn't really scream, but I wanted to. It's really, really, really over.

Sometimes you read about an athlete that re-establishes the boundary between young and old. Through hard work and determination the athlete defies father time and does something heroic on the ball field. Think Nickalus at the Master's. Think Jamie Moyer pitching at 47 years old.

Just don't think of me.

As the clock struck 12 on New Year's Eve this past year, I made a simple promise...get in shape.

It didn't work out.

The ball landed out in center on Sunday.

"I could have got there," my cousin said, "but I sure as shit didn't want to collide with you."

I'll be 47 when the clock strikes midnight this year...I am changing my goals.

As Norm on Cheers once said:

"My goal is to see how big I can get."

Monday, August 15, 2011

Where's God?


About 25 years ago, in the book Eye in the Sky, the protagonist of the story is greeted by the antagonist who has hassled him all year long. The antagonist says:

"So many bad things have happened to you. I am sorry for what I did. But tell me, where is God in all this."

The protagonist says: "He's right there. In your eyes, as you apologize to me."

I wrote that over 25 years ago.

For the 2nd straight weekend I had an almost religious experience.

You see, I was standing outside in the rain as it tumbled down...hard and cold, with thunder, lightning and the guy on the radio telling us to get indoors. I looked to the sky and in an accusatory tone asked God why He couldn't let the sun shine. In an instant, an understanding came over me.

They're still going to come.

And they showed up. Every wonderful person pulled into the lot. Those who helped stage it. Corinne, Chuck, Jan, Pops, Jeff Renaldo, Shannon, Michelle, Terrie, Kim, Carrie, the Switala's, Boj.

They sent wonderful prizes: Dave Neisser, Jill & Jim Kelly, Terry & Ellen Hancock, Keith & Becky Neilligan, Colantino's, Renaldo's, Mathis', Brad Gier.

They showed up to play: the mad dogs, the Lions, the prairie chickens, Matt Snell's new team, Chris Miller.

And I walked around.

God was there.

In the tears in my mother's eyes as she just kept muttering about the love being overwhelming. In the hugs I shared with the Weisers, my cousins Tony and Wendy, in the stuffed peppers that went - 400 of'em. In people driving hundreds of miles... Al, Tom, Terry, the Switalas, Carrie and Jim!

To send their love.

Rocco won a Jim Kelly hat! Carrie won the Bruce cd's, I got a Yankee jersey! Farrah won the handmade jewelry from Lynn Lombard, Pops, the chef, won the grill donated by the Renaldo's.

The fix was in, but not a fix of mere mortals, mind you.

God's hand was involved. Those prizes went to where they were supposed to go without any sort of guidance!

And the day was set up so that I would get the first at-bat with American Land blaring behind me. As I stepped into the box, I said thank-you to Jan and tapped my bat off home plate. I looked up like Nick Swisher might.

"Let me get a hit," I whispered to Jeff.

I grounded the first pitch straight to the pitcher as my boy Sam raced to first. The pitcher let him arrive there safely.

As I headed back to the jeers from the Lions team...thanks Al and Frank and John...I could almost hear Jeff's voice in my ear.

"They don't let me perform miracles!"

Thank you to all!

I'm a changed man because of your love.

Now if only I could walk without pain.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Bartolo Colon's Twin Wins the Hot Pepper Contest


The 27-time World Champion Yankees have a pitcher on their starting staff named Bartolo Colon. He looks a lot like the new hot pepper champion, Jeff Popple.

Yes, yes, Pops won. His steak filled pepper was just too much for the competition this year, and let me tell you, the competition was awesome.

I ate 10 peppers.

2 off of my career high.

I could have eaten 20!

They were that good.

About ten minutes or five peppers into the deal I knew my goose was cooked. My recipe was too pedestrian even though I spent about 60 bucks on cheese.

But this story is about Pops. A great chef and an even better guy.

He won and he deserved to win.

There's just one minor problem:

He isn't going to shut up about it for 365 days.

A man of Polish-heritage took home the ribbon.

That isn't entirely true, mind you, he studied under the greatest chef in the world: an Italian-German-American.

Still Just a Little Boy



I am definitely in the spot where waiting for Santa to slide down the chimney is becoming almost ridiculous. You remember those nights when you were a kid, right, when the idea of what was going to happen was too overwhelming to allow you to get a decent night of rest?

I still sort of feel that way on Christmas morning, but only because I know how much fun my kids are going to have.

Right now, I'm just a little boy, waiting for something great to happen.

The hot pepper contest is later this afternoon. The funny thing about the first time we did this was that I wanted no part of making peppers. Jeff made mine. He dropped everything off at the house. I stuffed them and brought them and everyone marveled at how good they were.

He never spilled the beans.

The above photo shows John and I close as we only assisted Pops in getting the peppers ready for the softball tourney. We cored over 400 peppers (thank you Larry Bowman) and as we went about the task the jokes were flying. The work was done quickly. I couldn't help but think of all the days when I'd stand next to John as Dad told us what to do.

At 46, there are moments when you still feel like a child.

Then tomorrow we have the softball tourney. So many beautiful gifts being offered by a community of friends and family. A couple of beautiful signed hats by Jim Kelly.

As a teenager Jim was the hero for the town. He led us to 4 Super Bowls. By far he was my favorite of all the Bills players. Yesterday we talked about my brother. His wife Jill was happy to help out. A good friend.

And I thought of the sense of community. A couple of signed hats, a group of friends who've spent hours putting a basket together. From girls I knew in the 2nd grade onto college buddies, 40-year friends, sisters, brothers, cousins, great companies who hired me! (Thanks Thomas Johnson!).

My God is it any wonder that your heart overflows.

Mom and Dad were always understandably tired on Christmas Eve, after midnight mass, after all the preparing and cooking, and cleaning.

"What time can we get up?" we used to ask.

"No presents are opened until 7 o'clock," we'd hear.

It's so cool when you can open presents every single day.

Thank you to all!

This post is dedicated to Jan Mathis, Jeff Popple, Kim Kurek, Larry Bowman, my brothers and sisters, and the hundreds of others who are going to make the softball tourney a day of wonder and awe for a husky, balding, limping little boy.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Train In The Distance

I've always loved the sound of a train in the distance. This morning the long whistle, and the sound of the chugging train stirred me awake.

It seems that no matter where I've lived in my life I've always been close enough to hear the train chugging down the tracks.

It brings to mind the days of the Old West when they cheered the sound of the arriving train as the supplies had arrived. They are carrying the same sort of things today but we don't wait at the station, jubilant because we can now eat. Trains kind of lost that significance.

I think of the religious overtones.

This train carries saints and sinners. This train carries losers and winners. This train carries whores and gamblers. This train. All aboard.

Whether we like it or not, that train is going to eventually pick us up.

People get ready there's a train a-coming. You don't need a ticket. You just get on board.

I hoped it wasn't that train I heard this morning. As the whistle faded I knew I'd escaped that call.

This morning I thought of the freight train of the Fuzzy weekend. That will start with a hot pepper party...I got mine done last night, I could win again...with a graduation party of my God-daughter, and then the softball tourney in Jeff's memory.

This upcoming weekend has been a freight train. Family is arriving from Baltimore. Corinne and Chuck, John and Dana, Carrie and Lynn and Jim will all be busting my chops. Mom will be happy. Johnny, Farrah and Rocco will be running, jumping, punching and laughing with us. Friends are arriving from all over Western New York. People are bringing gifts. Beer, softball, more laughs.

I'm waiting on that train.

To gather and celebrate life.

Maybe the old west analogy isn't that far off.

As I laid there with the list of tasks for the day scrolling through my mind I thought of the train heading down those tracks.

I can almost always picture the guy with the engineer's hat on, guiding the train. (There isn't a lot of steering involved, is there?). He's sitting up high, keeping an eye on things, touching off the siren. He seems to be so in charge to me.

It's an image that hasn't faded from when I was a small child.

Chug, chug, chug and then the long warning whistle at the intersections.

I've always loved the sounds of a train in the distance.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Little Notes From Above

Every other day or so I get a note from a reader of Oh Brother! The Life and Times of Jeff Fazzolari. Some days I get three or four notes. I certainly answer and treasure every single one.

The book was never intended to gain praise from people that I've never had the pleasure to meet. It certainly wasn't written with a National Book Award in mind, but what the hell? The more people who know about Jeff's life, the better, right?

I wrote it for my family only, but I should have considered that Jeff's life was way more powerful than that! Here are three notes that I received today. People who I've never met. People who reached out to me after reading along. If I never write another sentence...

Hi Cliff--

I just wanted to drop you a note to say I just read your book. A wonderful tribute to your brother Jeff.

Being from a large family myself I understand the love and bonds between siblings. Our parent’s greatest gift to us has been each other for sure.

Your thoughts and memories lift right off the pages making you feel like you are there among you. You have a gift writing the way you do.

May God Bless and keep you all in the palm of his hand.

Sincerely,

Margaret

Hi, Cliff!

I just finished reading Oh, Brother!. I think I went through a whole box of Kleenex. But I also laughed my butt off throughout the book. There are so many things I want to say about it, I don't even know where to start.

First, thank you for writing it.

All I could think while I read about your wonderful family and amazing, funny, loving brother was, "What a gift this book is". Such a gift to his children, your whole family and everyone who reads it who then stops, thinks about their relationships and learns to cherish them.

Also, I want to tell you how lucky you are. I know you know this, but despite the unspeakable loss, the grief, you and your family have had a richness and closeness that too many people never know or take for granted. Thanks for writing about all of it.

If aliens someday come here to Earth after we've wiped ourselves out, I hope it's your book they find so they can get an idea of what a truly good, honest, loving family was all about.

Anyhow, I felt compelled to let you know how much I liked the book and it's message. My mom wants to borrow it, but I'm not letting anyone get my copy. I will have to get several more copies to pass the gift on to my family members. Thanks again, and best wishes always to you and yours!

Wendy

Hi, Cliff!

I just finished reading Oh Brother! last night. What an amazing story you told...I would bet it was difficult to write, while at the same time, healing. His children (and all of your family members...whom I feel like I know well because of the book!) will treasure this book forever...such a great way to keep their father's memory alive!

Several years ago I read Nobody's Home...so dark, but I couldn't put it down! A great read...enjoy your blog, too!
Keep up the good work, Cliff!

All the best,

Brenda.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Foundation Walls

Some day I might figure something out. Probably not today. Definitely not yesterday. Doubtful for tomorrow.

But I still try.

A stray thought about death crossed my mind again yesterday. Sam and Jake were in the backyard kicking the ball around with Rocco. They were arguing about whether it was a goal or not.

I proclaimed it to be in and they all reacted. Two with cheers and one with a call that I was cheating.

I was.

And there was that moment when the dread of what happened hit me. I hate it. Hate it. Hate it.

And I thought of the fact that death doesn't ever really take a break. It's like having leaky walls in your basement. If you don't go down there much, you don't think about it. But when it crosses your mind...

...it bugs the shit out of you.

And there isn't a lot to be done.

What are you going to do? Rip the foundation down and start over? Overpay someone to come in and do god knows what to repair what the hell is wrong.

Will it actually be repaired?

Or will it just be a cosmetic change that will fall apart anyway when the entire foundation crumbles.

Rocco is in to quarters, and balls, and cars, and ice cream, and laughing and punching, and dogs and farts, and driving everyone around him crazy with his smile.

Just like my kids were and sometimes are, despite the fact that they should be just about over the 'farts are funny' stage.

Rocco is safe and happy and secure and he is really unaware of the leaking walls.

But he will know sooner than he should have to, and that's too sad for words.

I truly don't want to think about the leaks any more today.

We are on the verge of an epic celebration over the weekend.

I'll think of that.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Nothing Feels Better than Blood on Blood


It is so heartwarming to see my kids hanging around with Jeff's kids.

It makes me want to cry when I see my brothers and sisters look at their nieces and nephews with love written all over their faces. My brother-in-law Chuck and my son Sam are great friends. My sisters and Jake tell jokes back and forth. Corinne and Sam behave as true siblings.

Carrie Lynn and Andrea and Nicole are thick as thieves.

We all crumble when John, Farrah and the Rock are in town and making us laugh.

Yet my favorite part of all of it is seeing how my boys react whenever they are around any of their cousins. James and Jake, Matt and Rocco, Nicole and Sam, Tony and everybody, Paige and Andrea, Farrah and James.

They all have unique relationships that reminds me so much of the friendships that I had with all of my cousins and my aunts and my uncles.

The Italian side of the family always seemed to be closer, but I see it with my nieces and nephews on my beautiful wife's side too.

Nothing feels better than blood on blood.

Sam and Rocco were battling back and forth today.

Throwing punches in the air.

Laughing.

Chasing each other all around the house.

And last night I arm-wrestled my own personal nemesis from childhood.

John pinned my right arm to the table in a little less than a second.

"It was closer than I thought," I told my sister-in-law Dana, and we all laughed.

The laughs come as easily as the tears have through the last few years.

We'd much rather be laughing.

Monday, August 8, 2011

I Still Wanna' Be My Dog


There is no doubt that Melky is cool with the morning schedule. We discuss it each morning and she probably could recite it back to me at this point.

"Are you hungry?" I ask.

She doesn't answer.

"Do you have to go poopies?"

Again, nothing.

Yet by the time I'm ready to roll, she is too. She heads for the door knowing that her job is to eat, pee, and poop. During that time I drink a cup of coffee and eat a bowl of cereal.

I actually believed that Melky's schedule was cramped during the busy part of her day, but this morning as I poured my coffee I happened to glance out the window. As you can see, Melky was comfortable in a lawn chair where she could stare at the door. Knowing her, she was also weeping.

Moments later the day really took an exciting turn. I led her to the car and we went around the corner to get the papers.

Bad news. No squirrels, birds, rabbits, dogs or deer were out. The sky was threatening rain. I explained that all of the animals were probably still in bed.

"Lazy bastards," Melky most likely thought.

After all if she has to get up before she wants to, why don't the rest of them?

My dog has it made. She's currently napping.

She'll nap until dinner.

No doubt she's dreaming of sitting out on the deck.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Ghost of a Moon

I spent the late afternoon mowing the lawn and there was a ghost of a moon riding high in the sky above the house. I was spending a bit of time looking up because I certainly had a weird experience today.

You see today was the anniversary of Dad's death. I loaded the kids in the car with my mind on trying to share something with them about my Dad so I played King of the Road for them. In their rap-driven-beat the ho-shoot the glock-type of experience with music, they thought it was interesting but nothing more. Fine. I put the i-pod on shuffle and off we went.

Mellencamp's Man on the Moon came on. I found it interesting only because the main character is mad at the moon and one lyric says "He's 37 years old with six children."

That always amused me. I would have been mad at the moon as well in that predicament.

But then Sinatra made an appearance. I Get a Kick Out of You.

A cute coincidence.

American Land by Springsteen followed...Jeff's favorite song...and the hair on the back of my neck stood up.

"That's weird," Kathy said.

Bruce gave way to the Soprano's theme song and I laughed. Someone was telling us something.

Man at the Top by Bruce with the lyric, "Aim your gun, son, and shoot your shot, everyone wants to be the man at the top."

Was Dad still listening in? Was I reaching too hard for the message. You can make a message out of anything, right? This wasn't divine intervention. A simple coincidence that Bruce followed Frank. 2,000 songs, mind you...a dozen Sinatra? Maybe?

We got our second one. Summer Wind. Now the Bruce bumps were raising. Tears in the eyes when I heard ol' blue eyes sing: "I lost you to the summer wind."

"We get the message!" Kathy said. She had tears in her eyes as well.

Frank ended. We were three miles from the church.

This is where it gets weird.

The Beatles.

Let it Be.

There will be an answer.

Let it be.

Let it be.

That just can't be a coincidence.

King of the Road

Any man can be a father. It takes someone special to be a dad.

Today marks the one-year passage in time since my Dad was here. It feels wrong saying that its anniversary, doesn't it? Anniversaries are days to be celebrated.

Then again, I suppose that today is a celebration of sorts. We will attend a mass in his honor, perhaps eat breakfast, and the pasta today will have 'Fuzzy' written all over it, but there's not a lot of celebrating. We never could match his sauce.

I had dinner yesterday with Uncle Jim. I can sympathize because I know what it's like to miss a brother too. We took to telling stories. Funny stories. Glorifying stories. Stories that make your heart hurt.

But the thing that got me about yesterday was that I was working on reports listening to my i-pod when Sinatra's Under My Skin played. I gave a nod to the photo of Dad beside my desk and continued to work. Visions of him singing were dancing in my head.

I went straight to the I-tunes store and downloaded Roger Miller's King of the Road. To be fair I hadn't thought about that song in well over 20 years, but yesterday morning, I downloaded it and listened to it.

It's still a great song.

It took me back to Largo, Florida. I was ten years old. Dad was singing it, as loud as it could go, and as loud as he could go. I remember telling him that everything was too loud and that the song was awful.

I was lying. I loved every second of it.

A year later and what we have are snippets and memories. It hardly seems fair. Yet when life is lived the right way those left behind are also left with feelings and warm thoughts of pure love.

I felt so secure at ten years old. I've felt secure in the love of my family through the age of 46.

That's a pretty special feeling. Millions who've gone before me can't claim to have felt secure, happy and loved.

And I'm trying to pass those thoughts on to my children.

So in that regard, Dad is alive and well.

I ain't got no cigarettes.

Sing away.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Me & the Loser & One of My Idols



So, my cousin pays off her bets...with a wonderful assist from her Mom...the pasta was served. The grilled chicken was served. The veggies were served. The salads were served. The brownies were served. The cheesecake was served. The ice cream cake was served.

And like any good bet, I worked up a hell of a sweat eating a lot of one thing and a little of everything else.

So many of you who read Oh Brother! know that I paid a lot of money in dinners over the years. I grew so tired of being the stooge, but with Jeff watching from above, I carried on a little of the tradition today.

My cousin Kristin was happy to pay off her Sabres bet from last year...and don't you know it, we already re-upped for next year. I'd gladly go with the same menu, so keep that in mind...looooooooossssssseeeeeeerrrrrrrr!

Now it may seem a bit harsh to call someone a loser after you've eaten their food for a good couple of hours, but that's how these bets go.

Me and the loser.

And Uncle Jim.

Somehow he always seems to be in on these bets, doesn't he?

A grand day. Now if only I could move a little bit.

Bill Lee, Graig Nettles, Carlton Fisk, Bucky Effing Dent and Reginald Martinez Jackson

I was playing soccer when the Yankees and the Red Sux battled for first place in the epic playoff game at Fenway Park during the 1978 season when the Yankees had been 14 games out of first in mid-July.

I was in the 9th grade and I had settled in with my radio and an ear bud. My coach was also a lifelong Yankee fan and he ordered me into the game because he wanted my radio.

I was running (if you can call that running) down the field when the coach, with the game going on all around me, yelled: "Hey Fuzzy, Bucky Dent just hit a three-run homer."

I remember it as if it were yesterday. I also remember that my Dad had called in sick to work - something he might have done twice in his life - to be home in time to see that game. He was home watching it with John, Jim and Jeff. Carrie and Corinne were also keeping an eye on it, as was Mom.

Last night the Yanks and Red Sux came into the game tied for 1st in the East. I had thought about it a few times during the day, but it wasn't the same.

For one, there is a wild card now. So both teams will make it to October. Secondly, sports has lost some of its illusion. I'm not a kid anymore. They make so much freaking money that it sickens me a little. Steroids, the fact that both teams have won recently...Dad isn't here. Jeff isn't here. John and Jim, and Corinne and Carrie were all watching it elsewhere.

But the Yankees won!

They came from behind and beat the bastards and took first place.

I said that it changed.

I didn't say that it still isn't great to see the Red Sux go down.

More today. CC is on the hill.

I smell a two game lead coming.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Don't You Hate These Bastards


This was during morning drive time in Syracuse. I was still drinking my coffee, talking on the phone, reading my texts and trying to get a quick glance at the box score for the first place, 27-time World Champion Yankees when this idiot cut across me on his bike while giving me a point to the right as if I weren't about to blast him off his 10-speed.

At least he was wearing a helmet.

I blame Lance Armstrong. I do. He supposedly made it cool to ride your bike all over town as if you weren't seven years old.

I also blame George W.

Why not?

But save on gas, save on gas, save on gas...made idiots like this ride their bike all over my highway.

I also blame Richard Simmonds. (Or however he spells his name).

Exercise. Get skinny. Ride your bike. It's good to get the heart racing.

Blah, freaking blah.

Tell me, Richard, how am I supposed to balance my sausage and egg mcmuffin, my coffee cup, and the newspaper while these idiots are cutting in and out of traffic?

I can ride a bike. I haven't done it in awhile, but it's sort of like riding a bike. I would feel like a damn idiot riding it into work unless I was a BIKE messenger in New York City.

Thankfully, no one was hurt in the making of this blog. I'm half-kidding about the texting and the coffee and the eating and the talking on the phone as I drive.

I did sneak a look at the box score though.

Bring on the Red Sux!

And if you're out for a stroll on your bikey, stay on the freaking sidewalk!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Jacks or Better to Open

Far be it of me to defend A-Rod. Despite the fact that he is on the 27-time World Champion Yankees, I feel he is a bit of a Lance Douche Armstrong, or Tiger Cheetah Woods.

When confronted with a moral dilemna...like the other two mentioned above, he takes the low road.

But baseball is now investigating him for playing poker, and they are talking about a suspension.

I hope they suspend him for the next 19 games because he won't be back for 20. He's out with a knee injury.

I've played poker. Have you played poker?

Maybe not $500 bucks a hand, but it's the same game, right?

I was once playing poker with a group of my very closest friends. One of my buddies, who shall remain nameless (John Cataldo) decided to play a game that was jacks or better to open. I kept getting a pair of tens.

In my under the weather state, I grew annoyed with the game. John grew annoyed with me.

Soon enough about five of us were rolling around the floor in an epic match that we still talk about to this day.

Poker is stupid.

A-Rod is stupid.

Baseball is stupid for trying to suspend him.

Come on, what was A-Rod to do? He has all that money. Once in awhile he isn't 'doing' a movie star. The Yanks don't play every day and since he stopped taking 'roids he's hurt now and again.

The poor guy gets bored.

It's lonely in that mansion.

I say: 'Leave him alone'.

He isn't going to the Hall of Fame anyway. He's going down in the records with Sammy Sosa, Ortiz, Manny, McGwire, Bonds, Douche Armstrong, and Cheetah.

A dopey bastard who couldn't get enough.

But he does have a World Series ring and he hit a couple of bombs when the Yanks whipped the hapless Phillies in '09.

So, he gets a bit of a pass.

I'm out.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Very First Blog

Strange...feeling lazy today...actually went back and looked at the first blog I wrote for this site. So much has happened since then...way too much. It was fun to read that first blog again. Here it is...

I imagine that this blog will just be an exercise in writing, but I have always toyed with the idea of what is important in life and I have written extensively about trying to find my place. I have been fairly successful in getting my books published and out there, but there is so much more to do, and so little time...

I am looking at this blog as an opportunity to share some of my thoughts. I'm a typical American male with three kids, a great wife, a mortgage and a couple of dogs - just to keep my balance.

I was thinking of a story to encapsulate such a life and I drift in time back to my 40th birthday. I was a little anxious about turning 40, and approached my birthday not really wanting to share much. I just kept saying, it's just another day.

On that day, I returned home from work, thinking about a beer, the Yankees playoff series against the Red Sox, and a good night's rest. My wife and sons were waiting in the driveway with presents for me, and the first present I received was a small rock, handed to me by my seven-year-old son. I held the rock, turned it over in my hand, and realized that it was a stone from our driveway. I thanked my son, and thought about tossing the rock to the grass when my wife whispered to me that my boy had been polishing it for the better part of an hour.

My son looked at me, and smiled, and asked me if I liked my present. I told him that it was all I ever wanted. Now, some three years later, I carry that small rock with me, wherever I go, realizing that it was the greatest present that I could have ever received and that for a man, turning 40, it was all I could have ever wanted.

Thoughts of a common man... I intend to share just some of life's little pleasures - hopefully, we can all grow together. There's a story there each and every day. Stay Hungry, stay alive.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Are You Fired Up Yet?!!!


The 1st Annual Thunder Road Softball Tourney for Jeff Fazzolari is set for August 14 at New Oregon Field at 11 a.m.

If you are interested in playing come a little early so we can sort out the teams.

Cool, right?

Well, to get you in the spirit of things here is the dialogue of a text exchange that I had with Johnny, who is thrilled with the idea and will be there cheering loud:

Johnny: What's up?

Me: Nothing, buddy, what're you doing?

Johnny: Just wondering...who is running for you on Aegest 14?

Me: You!

Johnny: Who's running for Uncle Dude? Can I run for both of you?

Me: Definitely.

Johnny: I can't wait!

Me: It's gonna' be a lot of fun.

Johnny: I hope you hit it far so I can run all the way home.

Me: Maybe Uncle Dude can do that! I'm old!

Johnny: You're bald too. I saw your book interview on YouTube.

Me: But I'm good-looking right? All Fuzzy's are good-looking.

Johnny: Most of 'em!

This tourney was dreamed up by a good friend of Jeff's. We need to turn it into a celebration of all that is beautiful!

For Johnny, Rock and Fair-Fair!

GET FIRED UP!

Tattoo You

One of the other benefits of attending a golf outing dinner at a bar on the beach (yes, we have beaches here in Buffalo) is that you get to spend a little time people watching.

There was a guy working as a bouncer at the club who stood about 5'5" tall and weighed about 280 pounds. There wasn't a lot of fat on the guy. He was one of the Sopranos-looking dudes with no neck to speak of. His right bicep also was home to a tattoo that was bigger than my head.

When he passed me by I nodded a hello and he sort of growled. I got a good look at the tattoo that said something about love and fear.

I had the fear part down.

Yet looking at his tattoo got me thinking, so I started to glance around at the people dressed for the sun.

Almost every single person has a tattoo. Men, women, even young girls. They all have some sort of marking.

It got me thinking about a cute, young girl I'd seen at the Wilson Farms convenience store. She had tattoos all over her face, down her arm and on her chest area. The one on her chest seemed to continue to the lower regions and there was no chance that I'd see that one in the complete form.

"Does getting a tattoo hurt?" I asked.

What a moron, right?

"Yeah, it's awful," she said.

I wanted to continue with: "Well, they look horrible," but I didn't.

"They look good," I said.

"Thank you. I have seven more planned," she responded.

Wow!

My brother-in-law always talks about getting a tattoo of the devil shoveling coal into his ass crack.

Other than that, I just can't see it.

I'm certainly in the minority these days.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Watching it Deteriorate

Played in a golf outing with 3 other guys. Two of us were drinking and two of us weren't. I was in the non-drinking cart. We called ourselves the Mormons. The other two guys were reaching into the cooler every ten minutes for another cold beer.

Now far be it of me to talk down on anyone that has a few cold ones while chasing a little ball around a huge pasture. I've done it so many times that I've lost count.

But I'm getting older and being ready, willing and able to put in long work hours is now the responsible thing to do.

So, my non-drinking partner and I watched it all slide downhill.

To be fair, it was a gradual decline. I started the day as the 4th best golfer. I ended the day as the 2nd best golfer on our team.

"How the hell did that happen?" One of the Coors Light fans shouted after he rapped a ball three feet to the right off the cart where his partner was tipping back a cold one.

Three feet!

We all laughed. Soon enough those types of shots started coming more often.

"I'm afraid they can't even putt anymore," my partner said.

They couldn't.

The social experiment continued at dinner. While two of us drank water, the other two got into the shots.

Their voices got louder. The insults were flying. All sense of reason was gone.

"Wow, it looks different when you aren't in on the party," I said.

Truth be told, it was a wildly entertaining day. We laughed together, got a lot of sun and put the white ball in the hole 18 times. We had steak, steamed clams, and won a few t-shirts.

As the evening wore down, however, there were only two of us in the car heading home.

The other two guys hung at the bar. They declined all offers for an early night.

"It's kind of fun watching them deteriorate," I said.

My non-drinking partner laughed.

We arranged for the eventual ride home of our heathen buddies.

"Did we act like that all those times?" he asked.

We sure did.

I bet we feel a lot better tomorrow.

Breaking News

O.J. Simpson is the guy who turned the news into entertainment when he butchered two people. Then everyone was in a battle to beat the oth...