Monday, October 31, 2011

Bobby Screw and Your Own Pew

We were watching Game 7 of the World Series. Sam was rooting for the Rangers and I sort of wanted the Cardinals because I like Lance Berkman. Either way, it didn't really matter to either of us because the 27-Time World Champion Yankees weren't involved.

Oh well, free agency starts this week.

During the 7th inning stretch Joe Buck-up announced that a grammy winner was going to lead the tribute song to America. Buck-up introduced singer David Nail.

Never heard of the guy.

David Nail?

I turned to Sam and said, in an angry tone, "David NAIL? What was Bobby Screw busy?"

Sort of a dumb, throw-away line that my brother John is really good at. Puns that make you laugh because they are really dumb.

Except Sam couldn't stop laughing. He got caught in a giggle that went on until the game was over. He would look at me and just say, "Bobby Screw, Bobby Screw, Bobby Screw."

The sound of his laughter took me way back...I was probably Sam's age. I was seated beside my Dad at church. An elderly, poverty-stricken, sick-with-a-cold woman was in the pew in front of us. She got caught in a coughing fit. As she coughed. She farted. Very audibly.

My Dad laughed so hard that he almost drowned out the sound of my laughter.

"She's sitting in her own pew," he said.

That was enough!

The usher had to come over to see if I was okay. My stomach hurt so badly from laughing. My mother was giving Dad the angry glare. The eight of us were the main spectacle.

I honestly remember that Dad and I had to leave mass. For the next thirty years we laughed about it.

The game ended. The trophy was handed out. Years from now, we may not remember who won in 2011, but this morning Sam came up the stairs. My I-pod was playing a Bob Seger song.

"Is that Bobby Screw?" Sam asked.

And he started laughing again.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

What are You Reading?

I do enjoy my birthday for a couple of real tangible reasons. First off, my great sister, Corinne, never forgets and she always gets a present that matches my personality. Two Italian salamis this year.

They're almost gone.

Secondly, my mother always gets me a gift card. For a book store.

I guess she knows me well too.

Like Mom, I am not great at sharing books. I want to buy them (to help the author who worked his ass off) and I want to keep them in my room when I'm done reading them.

So, what did I get this year with my gift card?

13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher. Loose Girl (I liked the title) by Kerry Cohen. Bad Blood by John Sandford (I read everything he writes). South of Broad by Pat Conroy (with a nod to my buddy Jan for turning me in that direction). Cruel Death by M. William Phelps (I met him in Rhode Island at a Book Awards Show...we had a couple of beers...great writer). Moneyball by Michael Lewis (Baseball...can't get enough) and The Winner Stands Alone by Pablo Coelho (He is a master).

So, there we go. I also received a gift from my friend Molly - Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo...that's the one I started with...AFTER!

AFTER!

After, for the 2nd time in my life, I put a book down and refused to finish reading it. It was a book written by Max Tucker called Assholes Finish First.

I am hesitant to write about it because it was a vile, ridiculous account of the author being, well, being an asshole.

Now I love Howard Stern. I listen to his show every day. He can border on the tasteless, but I laugh along knowing that Howard is really a decent man. Max Tucker, as far as I can tell, is garbage. The stories were so horrific and the treatment of women was so degrading that I was shocked. I love writing comedy. I know there is a line to straddle. Tucker's stories are so offensive that on page after page, I wondered why or how he got it by a publisher.

And it really galls me to know that it is his second accumulation of filth that has achieved Bestsellers status. I was saddened. Really saddened that people are reading it. I am embarrassed for him as a man because when he grows up, he is going to look back and read it, and its going to make him want to vomit. And if it doesn't...that is even more sad.

As you will probably note, I went over the amount of the gift card. I will most likely finish those books by the time my next gift card comes from my Mommy at Christmas.

I guess sometimes assholes do finish first.

And by the way...what was the other book I put down without finishing?

The DaVinci Code.

It was also vile, but only because it was so poorly written.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Shitcoms

Since I did the top ten sitcoms of all-time, even though I left Friends off the list...which was great, actually...here are the worst.

10). Joey -Speaking of Friends. I wanted to like it. I really did. It was awful.

9). Bewitched. Larry Tate was great, but when they switched the Darrin's I got all mixed-up and they didn't even address it. Like we were supposed to believe they were the same guy.

8). Designing Women. Who the hell cared?

7). Gilligan's Island - Sorry. It sucked. Tell me that those guys wouldn't have tried to bang Ginger and Mary Ann, and/or smothered Lovey in her sleep.

6). The Brady Bunch - It sucked too. Sorry. Alice getting laid? Hard to believe. And the Dad was gay. Can't watch the show, listen to him dole out advice, and not think of the fact that he was gay. Or that Florence Henderson banged Greg or that Greg did Marsha. Too freaking crazy for me.

5). Tyler Perry anything - always seems to be on TBS. Always seem to be yelling. Tried it a couple of times. Never laughed once.

4). The Nanny - My God was she annoying. The voice. The laugh. The fact that she was doing the rich guy. Oh, wait...Arnold did his maid.

3). One Day At a Time - McKenzie Phillips stoned. Schneider stupid. The old lady miserable. All we had was Valerie Bertinelli. I watched it for a lot of years because of that.

2). Leave it to Beaver. Sorry again, but it sucked too. June dressed like that. Ward being hard on the Beaver. Lumpy and Eddie Haskell tried to save it, but it was way too lame.

1). How I Met Your Mother - hate it, hate it, hate it. It sucks. It blows. It isn't funny and that whiny bastard has little chance of finding a wife. Horrible.

Add to the list!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Occupy This

Man, the protests are growing. What is going on in this country? A lot of unrest, for sure.

Let me try and figure out what I think.

Tuition is going up. Fuel costs are through the roof. Food prices are high. Entertainment prices are higher than ever. Medical costs are a freaking joke.

Those that have jobs have not been handed cost of living increases. Wages have been stagnant for 30 years.

Debt is through the ceiling.

We are fighting with everyone, still, right?

Do I have it down?

So, why are they protesting?

The battle seems to be that none of them truly know.

Let me tell you a story. I was teaching a class this week. One of the people arrived for class twenty minutes late. I decided to excuse the fact that he was tardy and told him to sign in and grab the handouts. He needed the class to keep his job.

He screwed up what he was supposed to do. With 30 people looking on, I repeated my instructions. He got the proper paperwork, went to his seat, took out his cell phone, dialed, and began talking loudly.

While I was talking.

"Do you believe this guy?" I said, and everyone laughed.

He jumped from his seat and ran to me, shouting every curse word he could think of.

"Get out," I said.

"You're fired," his boss said.

He was escorted from the room. Now he's looking for a job. To hear him tell it, he's being beaten down by the man.

So, while I do sympathise with men and women who bust their ass every day, I really feel as if personal responsibility is lacking in a lot of people's hearts.

Let's interview me in the style I hate:

Is corporate greed a problem?

You'd be crazy to think it isn't.

Are politicians to blame?

They are stooges in the battle to the corporate heads.

Do the people who have no idea that they can't afford a thousand dollar mortgage with a $800 paycheck deserve some of the blame?

Do the math.

I am sick to my stomach when I read the stories of the rising prices and the shrinking benefits. I'm doing okay, but certainly would feel more secure if the world wasn't going crazy just outside my window.

I know guys who work real hard every day and are one bad break from being out in the street with hungry kids.

I know other guys who have good jobs and they act like they are being pinched if they are working harder than they think they should.

We need to occupy a whole 'nother attitude fairly quickly.

This is getting sort of scary.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Sitcom Junkie

I love sitcoms. I would watch them over any other thing on television other than a sporting event. They certainly are better than reality television.

I was catching an episode of Seinfeld in the hotel room tonight when it sort of dawned on me that I need to talk about my favorite all-time sitcoms. What's yours?

It seems that years ago there were a lot more to choose from. I remember Thursday nights on NBC in particular. Wings, Frazier, Cheers. It was can't miss television.

So, how do I rank them?

Let's go backwards from ten:

10). M*A*S*H - I loved that show, but when I heard a comic say that it lasted longer than the Korean war, it kind of bugged me. Loved the final episode though. Watched it in the college dorm freshman year.

9). King of Queens - laughed hard every time she got on him about his weight. She was a tad nasty though.

8). Everybody Loves Raymond - loved the finale of this one too. A lot of yelling, but Robert and Frank made the show.

7). Modern Family - This one is new, but Al Bundy makes it.

6). The Office - Never liked it until it came on reruns. Saw all of the old ones and never miss the new ones even without Michael.

5). The Simpsons - Remember watching the pilot with my brother and laughing my ass off. I know its a cartoon but it counts.

4). The Big Bang and Two and a Half Men - a couple of more new ones. I grouped them together for no other reason than I'm running out of space.

3) Seinfeld - Don't watch it a lot anymore but that's because I've seen them all. Great show - Larry David is a genius and Curb Your Enthusiasm is even better, but its not really on regular television.

2). Cheers - Eddie LeBeck, Woody, Coach, Diane, Sam, Frazier, Diane, Rebecca and Lilith, Cliffy and Norm. I only have to say their names.

1). The Odd Couple - Still my favorite. Watched so many episodes with my Mom and Dad. You haven't lived until you've seen the one where they are tied-up in a robbery and Oscar makes funny faces.

There are so many more. Taxi, Dick Van Dyke, Married with Children, All in the Family.

I can watch them all. Beats the hell out of American Idol.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

In An Instant

The events of Monday led me to the conclusion that I should definitely draw some conclusions.

Every day in this great land people live their last day. That is certainly a scary proposition. I never truly feared death until I was looking down its muzzle.

Now I think of it all the time and it sort of drives me nuts. I wish I could wrap everyone up in bubble wrap and keep them happy and secure.

No accidents. No illness. No sadness or disease.

Not possible, right? In an instant everything you hold dear can be ripped away. And there's the voice in my head, the one that was honed by my family and friends and the nuns that beat me all the way through grammar school.

"Trust in God."

"Stay positive."

That little voice brings instant aggravation.

Yet when I wrote Oh Brother! it was Jeff's spirit that I was trying to get to. The 'have-a-good-time-even-if-you're-walking-into-an-empty-room-all-by-yourself' feeling.

It's ironic to think that his passing took that feeling away, and replaced it with the fear of having to consider everyone in my life and hope they are just fine.

Shit is going to happen. There isn't any getting around that. Broken bones and broken spirits will heal.

Eventually.

As I thought about it all coming to close, in an instant, I sort of smiled about it.

Aggravations, to be sure, but even if the curtain is yanked shut in one wrong turn, its all been done according to my plan.

And there are no regrets.

As I think of those who've recently passed in my life, I can say one thing for certain...they all felt the same way.

Can't ask for more than that, I suppose.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

One of Them Damn Days

Why bother?

Decided to take a mental health break. A day off of work on Monday in order to gear up for a real long rest of the week.

"What do you have planned?" my beautiful wife asked.

"Not a single thing after my doctor's appointment."

And I was fairly excited about no plans until precisely 6:30 a.m. when my brother-in-law Chuck texted me about an accident in the old hometown.

What were the chances it could be someone I know and love?

Pretty damn good, actually. My buddy Pops...banged up for sure.

I did have a doctor's appointment for my knee so before checking in on Pops at the hospital I saw the doc.

"We have to go back in."

Perfect.

Two for two.

It's scheduled for next Thursday.

I decided to spend a little time with the wife.

Sam came home early from school with an upset stomach.

All right. Stop for a slice of pizza.

"Slices are going to be about ten minutes."

I waited.

Days like this. In an instant. No control over anything.

But the dogs were fired up to see me when I returned to the house.

Is it all right to go back to bed at noon?

And stay there?

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Shea Brothers

On Saturday night I went out to see my brother-in-laws and some good friends play at a benefit for the Gloria Shea Memorial Scholarship Dinner at Ilio Di Paolo's Restaurant in Blasdell.

There are a few reasons why I want to write-up the music from the evening, the greatest reason of all being that the band can really play. I'm talking great vocals, excellent music, a bit of comedy, and just great old-time Rock & Roll.

As I watched, I longed for the days of the great bands. Quick, think of an act that started after 1990 and is still playing. We tried to do just that as a table discussion.

"U2," someone said.

"1982," I said.

"Bruce is still playing."

"1973."

Then we got to talking about the Beatles and the Stones because Pat and the crew were blowing the room away with their great songs. Jim Shea was doing a great John Lennon voice on the stage.

"They don't write them like that anymore," someone at my table said.

And what really gets to me, whenever I'm seeing live talent perform, is that I really, really wanted to be a rock star. I've always loved music. I grew up watching bands perform. My I-pod is jammed.

The problem being...and I am reminded of it always...is that I am really severely hampered when it comes to musical talent. I can't keep the beat.

"Clap along with the song," my beautiful wife chided as Pat sang an old Elvis song.

"Turn around and shut-up, please," I said.

I thought of holding my first guitar. I was in music class in 9th grade. We were trying to learn Hey Jude. I told my mother it would be the start of something big.

I got a D in the class.

As the show was winding down, Pat called up one of the guys who was sitting at my table, Marty, to sit in on drums for Twist & Shout. Marty jumped right in and I watched him play.

It blew my mind. The guy sitting drinking beers across from me was able to just get up and play an old classic. How neat would it be able to do that?

And after the show I went to talk to the band.

Same goofy guys who I chat with at every party. Pat's beautiful wife Patti thanked us for coming.

The pleasure was all ours.

I love talented people.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Darwin Awards

DARWIN AWARDS - Award Candidates

In September, a 41-year-old Detroit man got stuck and drowned in two feet of water after squeezing head first through an 18-inch-wide sewer grate to retrieve his car keys.

In October, a 49-year-old San Francisco stockbroker, who "totally zoned out when he ran," according to his wife, accidentally jogged off a 200-foot-high cliff on his daily run.

Buxton, NC: A man died on a beach when an 8-foot-deep hole he had dug into the sand caved in as he sat inside it. Beachgoers said Daniel Jones, 21, dug the hole for fun, or protection from the wind, and had been sitting in a beach chair
at the bottom Thursday afternoon when it collapsed, burying him beneath 5 feet of sand. People on the beach used their hands and shovels, trying to claw their way to Jones, a resident of Woodbridge, VA, but could not reach him. It took rescue workers using heavy equipment almost an hour to free him while about 200 people looked on. Jones was pronounced dead at a hospital.

In February, Santiago Alvarado, 24, was killed in Lompoc, CA, as he fell face-first through the ceiling of a bicycle shop he was burglarizing. Death was caused when the long flashlight he had placed in his mouth (to keep his hands free) rammed into the base of his skull as he hit the floor.

According to police in Dahlonega, GA, ROTC cadet Nick Berrena, 20, was stabbed to death in January by fellow cadet Jeffrey Hoffman, 23, who was trying to prove that a knife could not penetrate the flak vest that Berrena was wearing.

Sylvester Briddell, Jr., 26, was killed in February in Selbyville, Del, as he won a bet with friends who said he would not put a revolver loaded with four bullets into his mouth and pull the trigger.

In February, according to police in Windsor, Ontario, Daniel Kolta, 27, and Randy Taylor, 33, died in a head-on collision, thus earning a tie in the game of chicken they were playing with their snowmobiles.

DARWIN AWARD - HONORABLE MENTIONS

In Guthrie, Okla, in October, Jason Heck tried to kill a millipede with a shot from his 22-caliber rifle, but the bullet ricocheted off a rock near the hole, and hit his pal Antonio Martinez in the head, fracturing his skull.

In Elyria, Ohio, in October, Martyn Eskins, attempting to clean out cobwebs in his basement, declined to use a broom in favor of a propane torch and caused a fire that burned the first and second floors of his house.

Paul Stiller, 47, was hospitalized in Andover Township, NJ, in September, and his wife Bonnie was also injured, by a quarter-stick of dynamite that blew up in their car. While driving around at 2 AM, the bored couple lit the dynamite and tried to toss it out the window to see what would happen, but they apparently failed to notice that the window was closed.

In Betulia, Colombia, an annual festival in November includes five days of amateur bullfighting. This year, no bull was killed, but dozens of matadors were injured, including one gored in the head, and one Bobbittized. Said one participant, "It's just one bull against [a town of] a thousand morons."

Saturday, October 22, 2011

One's Dumber Than the Other

Since 2001 I've been watching the World Series with the sound off.

Isn't that a shame?

The reason, of course, is because the two announcers hired by Fox are awful. That isn't even the right word. Awful is too good for those morons.

As everyone is well aware around my house, I want to meet Joe Buck in the worst way. Not because I admire him, but because I just might kick him in the shins and run away. Baseball is a peaceful game that doesn't need constant chatter.

Buck never shuts up. While we are watching an inning he tells us who's going to bat the next inning. And he roots for teams over other teams. I defy you to watch a single Yankee game before he starts talking payroll. He mentions, by the end of the first inning that the Yankees spend more money than every other team.

"Who makes the most money?" Sam is now screaming back at the screen. And Buck's father was supposedly a great Cardinals announcer. That's why Buck openly roots for them. Fine. I root for the Yankees because of my Dad, but there's one basic difference.

I know something about baseball!

Which leads me to Buck's partner, who might be even less knowledgable. Tim McCarver was fired by the Yankees because Steinbrenner saw him as a buffoon.

I'm being too harsh?

He called Derek Jeter, 'Jerry Cleater.'

He claims to know every pitch saying that was a slider or a cutter, or a splitter. When the replays prove him wrong...on every single freaking pitch...he begs our pardon.

A close play? He always gets it wrong. Last week they showed Nick Swisher glancing skyward. My dog knows that Swisher is paying homage to his grandparents.

"Do you think he's looking at his picture on the scoreboard?" McCarver asked.

Now, come on! That's the sport you're supposed to cover. Swisher's allegiance to his grandmother is mentioned in every interview he's ever done.

I could go on and on. I'm on a personal mission to get them both fired. I would love to take their place.

And do you know how I'd start each broadcast?

"The Yankees make more money for baseball than any other team in the sport. They can afford to pay Jerry Cleater anything he wants."

Everything I Know About Everything

It's been a weird couple of days. A cherished friend of mine told me that she considered what I write to be as important to her as to what Steinbeck's writings mean to me.

That's a lofty responsibility.

Than another friend texted me to let me know that my blogs have been a bit lazy lately...they lack the energy. "Wake the f&%* up," he told me.

The truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Writing something each day is a responsibility that I certainly cherish. If no one read along, I'd still do it. I've done it since I was about seven. That someone enjoys it means something to me, but it doesn't define the task.

What it all breaks down to is my own stop and start attempt to make some sense out of the every day things in life.

I've been writing a lot about a character who thinks he knows everything and is slapped upside the head by the things that he doesn't know.

They say all writing is autobiographical, right?

There's a lot I don't know. The more I know, the less I understand.

The heart of the matter?

My universal truths?

1). People want love in their lives. The downside of life is pursuing love and not finding it in the form that you want it. You can't force love and you cannot make others behave as you want them to behave. Accept all forms of the love that you find because it doesn't come easily.

2). Anger will eat you alive. The pain of something that happened to you when you were young does not dissipate through time. It is internalized and it shows itself at all the really important times in your life. The experts say that your personality is formed by the time that you are three years old. There's a lot of pressure on those that safeguard you during the years when you're just trying not to shit your pants.

3). We are all straddling the line between sanity and insanity. Look at the very people that you love. He's OCD, she's paranoid, he's ADHD, she's ESPN....everyone has an initial following their name these days. Accept the fact that you ain't right and she ain't right and that no amount of telling yourself that you'll be fine, will make you all right. He's fucked-up, she's fucked-up, and so are you.

4). The best thing you can do for yourself is to get a dog or two. Nothing does more for my self-esteem than seeing the excitement in my dog's eyes when I open that front door, and it doesn't matter if I've been gone for three days or three minutes, the excitement is real. The love is real.

5). Children are the light of life. They truly are. When you are feeling old and tired they are coming up right behind you, energizing every single room they walk into. Their minds are on discovery of all the things that we know and take for granted. And it's all about the grace that they bring to every single situation. The grace and innocence and the unbridled laughter. They make you want to live happy way longer than you really want to.

6). The most cruel part about time passing by is that you have to live through the inevitable breakdown of your body. There's no more lonelier feeling than realizing that there's less days in front than what is in back of the cart, but you have to keep going forward. You limp. You stop for air. You take a nap along the way. You look at the above-mentioned lights of the world and you think, 'Son-of-a-bitch, I wish I would've slowed down a little back then so I'd have more energy now.'

7). Have faith in something. If you want to believe that Kermit the Frog is the real creator of heaven and earth than pray to him with all of your heart. You are not big enough to control everything and at the end of the day, if you think you alone are in charge of the world that you live in, you will live a life of selfish, pointless aggravation that poisons everyone who comes within spitting distance of you.

8). If you are fighting with someone in your family, you should stop. See point number one about love. If you find love in your life you should hang on tooth and nail. Love isn't free. Asking someone to love you, with all of your faults is almost ridiculous, and we all fall into the same boat on that one. Your family loves you unconditionally. You should most certainly return the favor.

8). Even Romeo and Juliet had their problems. Husband and wife love isn't perfect, but as long as the lines of communication stay clear, it is as perfect as love can get. I suppose that I should say wife-wife love or husband-husband love as well. No matter how it works, if it works, it works. See the above-mentioned accepting love posts.

9). Most of what you do on a daily basis doesn't mean shit to anyone. Think about the important account of 10/22/10. I bet you can't even remember what it was you were working on. Work is work. We all need to work. That's not to say that you shouldn't be proud of your day's work or your life's work, but it is all an ends to a mean in a certain way. It does not define you, but how you go about getting things done, and how hard you work at something that might mean something to someone else is certainly a difference-maker. Work hard, but don't let work kill you, or hamper your pursuit of love.

10). You will never please everyone. You can spend all of your energy trying to make sure that you are the most popular ticket-taker at the theatre, but at the end of the day, you're still just ripping tickets. On most days, my energy is high, but I will never ever write the perfect sentence. I suppose that Steinbeck died feeling such frustration. Knowing that you will not be perfect shouldn't abolish your enjoyment of the task.

So how to sum up all I've learned?

Life is all about the pursuit of love. If you don't have it...find it...or pray to Kermit the frog until it presents itself. If it still doesn't...get a dog...or throw yourself into work...or get married (even gay marriage works)...or have a child or two...and remember to give up shitting your pants because if you don't, no one will want to love you..because you ain't nothing but fucked-up anyway, and your body is breaking down and it's ridiculous to really expect someone to love you anyway.

I hope my effort was better.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Qadaffi, Qadaffy, Gadhafi, Gadaffi

How many freaking names did that a-hole have?

It's funny, but it's not. The other afternoon I was in the bank where there was a plasma television on to the news of (I'll use the name I know from childhood) Gadhafi's death was announced.

There was a man about ten years older than me in front of me. The teller was maybe twenty-five years old.

"They killed Gadhafi, huh?" I asked.

"Who's he?" the teller asked.

"Who's he?" the older guy asked. "Are you kidding me?"

"No, what team does he play for?" the kid asked.

(That is not a lie for a better blog....the kid asked that question).

"He's the Libyan leader. There's a revolution going on," the older man was beside himself.

The kid gave the best answer. I laughed.

"I live in a nice neighborhood," he said. "I don't concern myself with that negative crap."

So there we were. And I was going to write a nice, liberal condemnation blog about how we shouldn't celebrate the fact that they dragged Gadhafi's body through the streets, and that violent overthrow isn't really the answer...but then...

...then I read an article about the plane crash that Gadhafi claimed responsibility for back in 1988.

We all live in the global community and right now, it's a better neighborhood now that Moammar, or Momar, or Mommoar - or however the hell he spelled it - is not a part of it.

So, they dragged him through the streets and gave him a good beating. Them's the breaks, I guess when you live your life like a tyrant, no matter what your freaking name is.

I read the account that said that when he was confronted, M.G. called those who killed him, 'His Sons.'

The problem with killing one of the bad guys remains...

...there will be another one right behind him.

I live in a good neighborhood too.

And there's only one way to spell my name.

Exotic Animals On the Loose

So some nutbag let 51 exotic animals loose in Ohio and then he shot himself as the fun began. There were lions, tigers, bears and leapords running around and the police had to shoot them before they harmed innocent people.

And there are people out there complaining that the animals had to be put down.

I say that the exotic animals loose in the world are actually the humans. A few of them need to be put down.

I listened to a lot of talk radio as I drove from one worksite to another. There was a story of a man who had a cheating wife. He took her back with the kid that she had out of wedlock. He took the children as his own and raised the child to a teen.

Then his wife went back with her unemployed boyfriend who was actually the biological father of the kid.

And the judge ordered the man who didn't really father the kid to continue to pay child support to the mother and the actual father of the kid!!!!

Not kidding. The poor bastard is paying child support to an ex-wife and the actual father of the kid.

Then I heard about a roller coaster that is being designed to put people out of their misery. A suicide coaster. Go for a ride and your life is over.

Again, not kidding.

It was designed as a sort of suicide chair and people can pay to take that one final ride and die in a euphoric, painless way.

What else?

I unfortunately got sucked into listening to a Dr. Laura conversation with a woman who had a cheating husband.

You know what Dr. Laura's advice was?

She told the lady to greet her man in a thong, throw her arms around his neck and whisper, "I'll do everything I can to show you that I'm the only woman you'll ever need."

I wonder if that would work around here.

I think not.

Exotic animals indeed.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

They Make Their Living With a Baaaaaalllllllll!

My kids have taken to remind me of the fact that I once tried to let them know that one of their idols was, or may not have been, a genius.

"He makes a living with a ball!" I exclaimed as I tried to make a point.

Now, whenever we hear one of them being interviewed and sort of butchering the English language either Jake or Sam will scream out my famous words.

HE MAKES HIS LIVING WITH A BAAAAAALLLLLLLLL!

And it drives me crazy when I realize that how much of an influence sports has over all of our lives.

This past weekend the coach of the 49ers went over to shake hands with the coach of the Lions. Instead of offering his hand like a man, he shook the Lions coach's hand violently and slapped the man on the back in a dismissive shove.

The Lions coach was pissed and a wimpy-fight ensued. The sports stations showed it a million times.

And then they talked about it to death.

Some of the analysts were actually defending the 49ers coach saying that they don't like to shake hands after the game either and that they are involved in an intense, war-like battle that deserves all of their emotion and concentration.

All together now!!!!

HE MAKES HIS LIVING WITH A BAAAAAALLLLLLLLL!

When the final gun sounds, walk over and shake hands with the guy. Don't yell, don't push him. Don't tell me about how mentally exhausted you are after telling one genius to stand in one position while the king genius throws him the ball.

We all have trials and tribulations in our jobs. We all concentrate hard from time-to-time.

Our real job is to offer up some example of how to act like a decent human being in front of the other people who are watching.

It's a football game.

They are using a BALL! IT ISN'T WAR! IT WON'T SOLVE DISEASE! WE SHOULDN'T EVEN GIVE A SHIT!!!

Give me a break.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

We've Discovered Television!

I had no idea. There was really no way to know what we were missing. As stated earlier, I was kind of lost in the movement of time. Had no idea that our television was ten years old.

Do you know that they're made advancements in technology since then?

We finally broke down and replaced the old set. The idea was to get the new set up and running in time for football on Sunday, and I gotta' tell you:

I laughed a lot.

We could see the color of the player's eyes. The grass is actually green. The set didn't go to pink and wobbly after watching ten minutes.

Then the boys played an old rerun of My Name is Earl and I watched along with them.

Jamie Pressly is hot.

I don't know what the episode was about because it didn't actually feel like I was watching television. It looked as though I was actually in that town or that the actors were standing in the center of my living room.

"This is ridiculous," Sam said.

"About time we aren't living under concentration camp conditions," Jake chimed in.

I was laughing.

What the hell is next? Who is coming up with the ideas to make the images so clear?

Someone smarter than me, obviously.

I can't wait to see what Judge Judy looks like!!!!

The only thing holding me back is I can't figure out which remote starts what program.

And the Yankees!!!!

Oh why couldn't they have made the Series so I could have watched one game in such luxury?

By the time next year rolls around my television will be out-dated.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Edith

There really is not a lot to say about being forty-seven years old. Today is my first day of being in that club. Where it is really weird is when you see it in print:

Cliff Fazzolari, 47, of Blasdell, New York, said, "Holy Shit, I never saw that coming."

And it's just a number by your name, of course, but seeing it written makes me really long for something like this.

Cliff Fazzolari, 21, of Blasdell, New York is a candidate for CEO of the World and he said, "I'm going to freaking win."

Therein lies the basic difference, I think.

At 21, there's that, "Man anything is possible, I'm going to have the world eating out of the palm of my hand."

At 47, there's the, "I hope no one is around so I can eat a bowl of ice cream and take a nap."

Birthdays are a lot more annoying now too. Back then it was like: "Let's go, dude!"

Now it's, "Let's go, home."

So, I'm 47 today.

Got me thinking about the birthdays I remember.

Certainly #10 because I was on a bus to a little loop football game. Hated every second of it.

#18, of course, and drinking beer and shots at Speedy's with Jeffy and my bros. I also remember my birthday card from my college friends with a photo of a naked girl named Edith and a birthday cake. "You can't have your cake and Edith too." Signed by Rosie, Gag and Bob.

I still have that card.

#37. Jake was in the hospital. Of all the birthdays, I remember that one the most because I kept thinking of what my Dad told me about how your life can change so much in a ten-year span.

Amen to that.

Let's interview me.

Anything special planned?

Nope.

Anything you want for a present?

Nope.

You don't want to do anything at all?

Nap.

Monday, October 17, 2011

It Ain't No Sin to Be Glad that You're Alive

Life is tough. Grief is tougher. The days spin by, but the emotions stay pretty much the same. The anger and the misplaced fear can take control when you least expect it, really. And the memories. The damn memories that make you happy and sad all at the same time.

Saturday morning I was out driving. It had been a rough week. Still sore. Still sleeping shitty. Still cognizant of the fact that there's baseball being played and the 27-Time World Champion Yankees have been dismissed from the proceedings.

Every day lately feeling as it were an exercise as a human doing rather than a human being. Pissed at myself for feeling that way.

Trying to keep my head above the rising tide. Thinking of turning 47 this week.

Forty-freaking-seven years old!

As luck might have it, E Street Radio was on when I sat down in the car. If you don't have Sirius-XM, you are really missing something great.

Penn from Penn and Teller was on and he told a story about meeting Springsteen after Bruce had attended one of their shows. It was interesting to me that Bruce didn't call for free tickets or special treatment. But Penn was a huge fan. He had security invite Bruce back to the dressing room after the show.

And Bruce went back and sat down. Penn finished his set and nearly passed out when he saw Bruce sitting in his dressing room, munching on some potato chips that were in a bowl in the center of the table.

Penn thought he'd have some fun.

"What are you doing in my dressing room?" he asked angrily.

To hear Penn tell the story, Bruce acted like a young kid in the principal's office.

"Security asked me to come back," Bruce said.

"Oh yeah," Penn said. "Did they tell you that it was all right to eat my f*&$ing potato chips?"

Of course, Penn went on to explain that they had a good laugh about it, but that when he yelled Bruce lowered the chip that was in his hand and placed it back in the bowl.

Then Penn, acting as the guest DJ, played his favorite Bruce song.

"Life is tough," he said. "I remember sitting in the audience in the days immediately following the death of my mother. Bruce played this song, and when he got to one particular line in the song, I remember weeping."

It ain't no sin to be glad that you're alive.

An uplifting moment on a dark, dreary, rainy day.

All just a day in a life of a human being.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I Love My Dogs, But Seriously?

Today I was recanting a story of a few years ago.

It's a true story.

I visited a shop for work. The woman that I was meeting with had adopted her business from her husband who had died, rather unexpectedly, leaving her in charge. Her one hesitation about taking the job was that she didn't want to leave her dog home alone as she worked.

So she brought the dog to work with her. After all, she was the boss.

When I met the woman, the dog was literally on it's last legs. It looked like it was painful for the Lab to even lift it's head. Being a dog-lover, I had to ask.

"How old is your dog?"

"He's 16," the woman said. Tears welled in her eyes. "He has cancer, I'm afraid. I may have to have his back legs amputated."

She must have seen the horror reflected back from my eyes.

"He'll be fine. They have wheelchairs for them. Honestly, he can live at least five more years. He's really healthy otherwise."

Wow, I thought. Healthy? Other than the cancer and missing legs?

A month later, I was back at the office. The dog's bed was still in place under her desk, but Scout was nowhere to be seen.

I was afraid to ask.

"Scout had his operation yesterday," the woman said. "Seven thousand dollars, but worth every penny because he'll be home tomorrow."

I can't remember what I said. Something along the lines of That's wonderful!

Another month passed. I must admit that I considered the dog a bit and the woman who was so set on having him survive.

I was a little concerned when I parked in the lot.

I entered the office slowly, afraid that I might be run down by the two-legged dog with the wheelchair for his ass-end.

But no such luck.

The dog was nowhere to be found.

And the bed was gone.

I didn't get even a single word out of my mouth before the woman began to weep. Her dog had passed.

"I'm so sorry," I said.

"The problem is that I don't know what to do with him now."

I didn't understand.

"He's in a trunk in the back of my car. Do you think I should bury him or cremate him?"

I am not kidding!

The story is true.

It's been 3 years. We lost that account. I'm just wondering.

Is poor Scout still being driven around the streets of Buffalo?

Around and around we go.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Careening Out of Control

Isn't Google a wonderful tool?

The main reason I like it?

I can look up my dreams in the morning.

The other morning I remembered a bunch of them. The evening before I'd read about three more buildings in Buffalo being run into by errant drivers. I read the article just before I went to sleep.

Then I had the now-typical dream of being in a room with everyone I've ever known in life. It's very often a strange party with an odd mixture of conversation and hatred.

Anyway, the party was a drunken mess, and at the end of the night we were all in a car, flying down a busy snow-covered road. I was in the backseat directly behind the driver and I was screaming. It was moments before the crash. My sister Carrie was the driver. She was laughing.

I got out of bed and hit the head.

It was 1:30 a.m.

Thankfully, I got back to sleep.

At 5 I woke for the day. I immediately recalled the last dream.

I was the driver. I backed into a red car, tore the mirror off, and like Marshawn Lynch, I headed away from the scene. And I got away with it.

Google.

Evidently, life is out of control and the dream with Carrie as the driver is significant because she is the one driving me recklessly around the bend.

That's not true. Not even a little. No unresolved issues. Only had one argument, ever, with that sophomoric bitch.

(Carrie will get that joke).

The one with me as the driver was interpreted to mean that I was lost because I dislike myself.

Now anyone who's ever read this blog knows that such an assertion is baseless.

Couldn't it have been about the article I read before going to sleep.

Anyhow, thought it was interesting. If you ever have a minute just Google the meaning of dreams.

I'll tell you one thing...I kept checking my mirrors all day.

(By the way...if you see Jeff Renaldo today, wish him a Happy Birthday! He's the best).

Friday, October 14, 2011

All We Are Saying Is...Give Peace a Chance

Man, I watched a recap of the protesters down at the foot of Wall Street.

It was kind of embarrassing.

Don't get me wrong. I am seriously psyched that we live in a land where we can stand up and say whatever the hell we want. Imagine if we weren't?

I would have been drawn and quartered by now.

Yet to say that the effort at Wall Street is a bit disorganized might be the understatement of the year.

I was watching Fox & Friends, by mistake, mind you, the other morning and I caught a glimpse of some of the protesters. They asked one guy why he was sleeping in the streets and he sort of shrugged. They asked him one question about the workings of the government and he looked like Sarah Palin might look during the first round of a spelling bee.

Then some guy ran straight into the microphone and I swear, if I didn't know better, I'd have thought for sure that we were back in 1972 and John Lennon was the guest of honor.

This man had the glasses, the peace sign necklace, the sideburns, the mop-top haircut...and he was dressed like Lennon.

When the interviewer asked him why he was at the demonstration the man started singing. "All We Are Saying is Give Peace a Chance."

Now Lennon was a brilliant writer, and certainly my favorite Beatle, but I was sort of embarrassed for the man who was being interviewed. I didn't deny him his right to say what he wanted, but man.

Just man.

I always wanted to be a protester. Not sure why, but I like the ground-swelling and the right-a-wrong type of mentality, but as stated many times here, I'm getting old.

And tired of the constant bickering back and forth.

Do you know what the Fox and Friends guys said?

They said that we need to set the tea party guys on one side and the Wall Street protesters on the other and let them fight to the death.

Isn't that brilliant?

We should have a civil war.

Lennon was right.

Give Peace a Chance.

Peace between Americans, I mean.

It's truly our only way out of this mess.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Broken and Profane

This man can write. I promised I'd pass along information on his new book. Here you go.

Book Launch Party

Broken and Profane
a new crime novel
by Jeff Schober

7:30 p.m., Friday, November 4

Jack Devine’s Irish Pub
(at the Seven Corners)
4170 Southwestern Blvd.
Hamburg, NY 14075

Cash bar
Pizza, wings and pasta will be served.

Books will be available for $12.95
Everyone is welcome... bring a friend.


Buffalo, New York, in the fall of 1980: a white supremacist embarks on a killing spree, targeting black people... one every day. His first murder — from City Hall’s balcony twenty-eight stories high — becomes his signature.

The case is assigned to Mark Bennett, a new detective whose father was a police legend. Ken Connell, the department’s star investigator, is angry to learn he is passed over. Bennett owns a pedigree, but lacks experience solving homicides. Bennett grapples with secrets: conversations with his dead father, and a burgeoning affair he must keep quiet, because Alison is separating from a husband who doesn’t want her to leave: Ken Connell.

Bobby Bennett, Mark’s younger brother, is a rookie patrolman learning the job. His partner is George Pope, a veteran street cop who once paired with Bennett’s father. Pope is wise but crusty, determined to mentor a stubborn young man, no matter how much resistance he faces.

For several days, victims keep coming. Against a backdrop of crooked cops, drug dealers, prostitutes and transvestites, tension mounts as the net narrows on the killer while Connell learns the truth of his wife’s affair. These events converge in a darkened basement with two cops, a killer, and three guns trained in different directions.

Rich in characterization, Broken and Profane is crime fiction that resonates with authenticity, a taut thriller portraying the underbelly of life and the men who are entrusted with keeping society’s order.


I promise you, you won't be disappointed. Jeff has written numerous great books and the Bike Path Rapist Non-Fiction account is one of his works that has resonated with me since the moment I opened it.

Great writer. Great guy! Go if you can! Or just order the book!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I Won!!! (I always win)

Nope, Oh Brother! The Life & Times of Jeff Fazzolari was not a finalist in the non-fiction category for the National Book Award, but check this. I received this letter from a reader in New Jersey, from a man that Jeff knew long ago, but who'd I never met.

Cliff,

Jeff would be very proud of how you wrote about his life. The ache I feel in my heart every day is unbelievable, and this is coming from a person who has not spoken to Jeff in over 20 years (one of the greatest regrets of my life, by the way), but I can not imagine what you and your family went through and are still going through. I do want to thank you for giving me some closure on some of my regret. It was great to know that Jeff had not changed one bit and that he was still a fun-loving prankster.

There were so many things that stuck out, but there was one thing that struck me the most. After Jeff's first son was born he said, "How can you not believe?"

I so wish that Jeff and I had remained in touch throughout the years. Even though I'd known him for only nine short months, he made a tremendous positive impact on my life, and I will always cherish each moment. Your book brought it alive again for me.

You are a great brother and I know Jeff is watching over you and your family to make sure everyone is smiling.

I am a teacher, and I teach 6th, 7th and 8th grade special education. I am trying hard to do the Lord's work. You certainly did that. Cliff, you are a great man. God Bless!

Sincerely,

John Bellina


Now, this might sound like true bullshit to you, but if God would have given me the choice of receiving National recognition for the book, or receiving this letter from one of Jeff's friends from 20 years ago, I honestly would have chosen the letter.

That's not to say we are giving up! Onto the New England Book Festival! We are going to party in Beantown and pee at the foot of Fenway.

So, faithful readers, your job from now until a month from now is to pass the Oh Brother! info. on to all you know!

Let's make them have to pick it in New England!

We don't have a huge publishing house behind us, but we have the best: Sterlinghouse out of wonderful Pittsburgh, Pa., and there isn't a writer out there who had a better man for a subject.

Not even close!

Clifford Jones

I see the Seattle vigilante Phoenix Jones who dresses up in a costume and fights crime without help was arrested yesterday for pepper-spraying a bunch of innocent people on the sidewalk.

He thought there was a fight breaking out, and he was working with his sidekick, Robin (I think), and was going to bring peace to the Starbucks City.

Who among us has not dreamed of being a superhero?

I know that I fashioned myself as a great hero in a great many situations. Most of the time it was to capture the good-looking chick and carry her off to safety where she'd pledge her eternal love.

I got a good-looking chick, of course, my beautiful wife, so of course, the daydreams have certainly subsided. Why fight crime when there ain't a prize waiting at the end?

Of course, we have all dreamed of super powers as well. What would your super power be? The ability to fly? Unbelievable strength? Faster than a locomotive? Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound? Spidey sense?

Me?

I'd like to be invisible.

Now I'm sure that there is most likely a psychological element to that. I'm not saying I want to be invisible so I can escape life although that is sometimes a tempting option.

Once more, it's about the chicks, right?

Think of the places you could go.

Imagine heading into the bank and messing with the tellers? Blowing on the back of people's necks? Triping up your foes as they try and get away?

The possibilities are endless.

And above all else, I really have to wonder if Clifford Jones would use his powers for evil or good.

I would think mostly good, but I do have a sense of humor. I'd be messing with people at every turn.

My favorite part of the Phoenix Jones article is that he dresses in a costume that allows him to flex over-sized fake muscles. Can you imagine that nutbag putting that costume on and telling himself he looks good?

Clifford Jones wouldn't need such a costume to fight crime.

His natural muscles are scary enough.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What? No Sarah?

Man, am I disappointed.

Sarah Palin is not going to run for president.

Not that I would have thought about voting for her, mind you, but because I will certainly miss the comedy associated with such a run.

I didn't know enough about Paul Revere until she spoke.

I didn't know you could see Russia from her bedroom window until she told me that was how she shaped policy.

All the golly gees and youbetcha's that I will miss.

She was ready to roll too until all the dirt came out about her. Did you know she slept with a basketball player behind Trip or Trigger or Tupac's back?

I can never remember what her snowmobiling husband's name is.

And Bristol...oh how I will miss Bristol and her boyfriend, Trip or Trigger or Comet and Blitzen.

She was one of us. She dropped out of school eleven times. She once ran her school board. She thought the country that borders us to the south was Texico.

"Drill baby drill."

"Why do you ask me such trip-up questions such as what I like to read? That's just mean."

McCain couldn't stand the sight of her. Biden actually laughed at her during the vice-presidential debates. She actually has the gall to stand up and say how things should be run nationwide when she quit as governor because they were picking on her because of all the clothes she bought as she was running around the world messing up speech after horrendous speech.

I will certainly miss her.

Then again, maybe I would have voted for her.

She's kinda' hot.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Taking a Break

I played the weekend like a monk. After the Yankees lost I shut down my appearances on Facebook. What good would showing up do? I was open to all sorts of ridicule. All the people who I made fun of now had the chance to make fun of me.

Didn't feel like taking the abuse.

I also didn't watch the Sabres...can't see getting excited for a sport where they won't crown a champion for ten months. Regular season doesn't mean a thing. They all make the playoffs.

Didn't watch the suddenly Super Bills either.

There was a movie on Lifetime I wanted to catch, and reruns of Dick Van Dyke. Football fails to thrill me. Seems scripted.

And the entire time that I stewed, I was well aware that I am getting miserable in my middle age. I have a shirt that has Miserable Men on the front and the Future is Coming on the back from a Bob Levy comedy special at the Brant Fire Hall.

I wore it all weekend.

And I wish I can say I felt better after my self-imposed break, but I still slept lousy, and the Yanks still weren't scheduled to play.

Do I really have to wait 6 months until they play again?

Six months of celebrating a first down by pointing in the direction of the goal? Six months of listening to talk about blocked shots and the Sabres look great?

I miss baseball.

And don't tell me that they still have the championship series and the World Series to play.

Just wake me up when CC signs his extension and CJ Wilson joins the rotation and Carlos Beltran is signed as the DH.

Tell me when pitchers and catchers are set to report.

And for God's sake, don't show me even one photo of freaking A-Rod.

Going to take me a long time to get over him standing like a statue at home plate or chewing gum like a cow after he left the go-ahead run in scoring position.

$30 mil a year.

Miserable Men!!!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Do You Mind If I Offer Up My Opinion?

Hank Williams Jr. lost his job for a lousy joke about Obama and Biden. It was a lousy joke because it wasn't funny. It cost him his job because it was mean-spirited and because he isn't a comedian.

Think of Jon Stewart saying the same thing. Not even a ripple. Yet I don't come down on the side of Hank on this one. Same thing as tossing the shoe at Bush or Chavez running his mouth about the same Prez. It's the office of the president that should be respected.

Dumb joke anyway.

As for Conrad Murray and his trial for Michael Jackson's death. I heard the man's taped testimony today. He should have taped one simple question.

How long am I going up the river for?

He's trying to sell the fact that he uses propofol as a sedative and that he only gave Michael a little to calm him down enough to sleep. There was enough in the King of Pop's system to knock out Mr. Ed.

One piece of advice to Murray. In a few weeks, go after the biggest guy you can find in the orange suit and show the others you won't be bullied.

Everyone is all a tizzy here in Buffalo because the hockey season started yesterday. They won't be crowning a champion until the last week in June. Forgive me for not being set aflutter with the dropping of the puck in Helsinki.

Wake me up around Easter and tell me where they are in the standings. Baseball takes months and months to play, but it's double the games.

Speaking of baseball.

Ain't talking about it.

Yes, I am.

What irritates me the most is the talk about the Yankees payroll. Yeah, it's 200 million, but that's before you subtract the 100 million they dole out to the other teams that compete with them, and knock them out of the playoffs despite the fact that they can't draw 20 thousand to a playoff game.

I say the Yankees double their payroll next year. The hell with what everyone else thinks.

I'd use my "I have a better television than the guy next door" analogy because I bring more money in, but my television sucks.

Listened to Cliff Clavin yesterday talk about the fact that there are no more skilled Americans. He is championing a work bill that teaches kids skills that will help them do some of the work that is no longer done in this country.

Ratzenberger is right. Kids don't want to be plumbers or carpenters or laborers anymore. They are going to college at 100 thousand a pop for sports management positions that don't exist and they look down their noses at skilled craftsman.

I'd be mowing my lawn right now instead of writing this blog except for one simple fact.

I'm waiting for a smart guy to come by and see why the mower won't start.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

I'll Meet You on Cliff Street


Sometimes it seems that the world revolves around us, doesn't it? I always think of my son telling me, "It's not your world."

Cliff Street in the City of Buffalo is off Clinton Street right next to Elk Provision, the meat market where my Dad, my brothers and sisters and I have spent thousands and thousands of dollars. it will take you to the thruway if you go the right direction on it.

I remember the first trip I made to the market. I was always a little daffy and was extremely impaired when it came to driving directions. (Thank God for GPS).

"Go down Clinton and turn left on Cliff Street," my father instructed. "Can you remember Cliff Street? If you can't, look at your driver's license. If you get lost, ask someone your name and then turn down that street."

Sometimes I get lost just traveling down Cliff Street. It's a short and fairly non-descript road, but it certainly feels like it's mine.

Weird, ain't it?

What I like about being on Cliff Street is that it is filled with loving memories, and it leads to that excellent meat market where we all went in and emptied out our wallets for the ribs, the pork loins, and the steaks from the back that are cut special for the 'Fuzzy' boys'.

"Make sure you say hello to your mother," a couple of the guys that were cutting up the meat said.

We played the game where they ring up the purchases and I guess what it will all add up to. I missed by $1.54 on a $98 order.

I loaded the meat into the car. We were going to have ribs for dinner. I will marinade them and cook them slow.

I made the left on Cliff Street feeling as if I owned the world all of a sudden.

I could hear my father giving me the directions and laughing.

If that sign ever comes up missing, you'll know right where it is.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Sun Came Up!

My beloved Yankees went down to the Tigers on Thursday night. They deserved to. Bases loaded and less than two outs, twice, and they didn't get in the run.

Oh freaking well.

And the reality of it all is that I have been following baseball since 1969. I became aware at the age of five or so. I wanted the Yanks to win every year.

They've won 7 times. In 1977, 1978, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2009.

They've lost the world series in 1981, 2001, & 2003.

They've missed the playoffs entirely one year.

And the sun still came up and I'm still here. And next year, it will all start anew, and I will try and watch every single inning.

My friends will chide me with the thought that they didn't win in 2011. A lot of the same people will tell me that they won't make the playoffs at all next year.

And they will.

And they might win it all.

The sun will come up when they do. The haters will hate even more.

I will be even more obnoxious.

I am disappointed for one simple reason. I won't see them play again until April. That's it.

And tomorrow, I'll go down into my Yankee room and organize my championship plaques, and then I'll head into the room where I keep the Bills and Sabres Championship stuff.

That room is completely empty.

And you all still love them.

So, that's that.

I'll worry about it when the sun doesn't come up the day after one of the losses.

A Shot at Redemption

All of the best movies are about flawed characters overcoming the odds to do the impossible. Think Rocky, think Blindside. Think Revenge of the Nerds.

The other night AJ Burnett had to pitch for the Yanks in an elimination game. My mother-in-law hates him. I'm talking, 'if I had a gun I'd shoot him' type of misappropriated anger.

Good thing she doesn't have a gun or the whole countryside might be littered with bodies, but that's another story.

My mother-in-law is not alone. AJ has not exactly endeared himself to the Yankee faithful.

"I think he's going to pitch well," I said.

"You're crazy! He's an idiot!" My mother-in-law exclaimed.

AJ was in a perfect position to do what I like to see done. He had a shot at winning us back. Could it unfold like a movie, perhaps?

Thinking about the life of Steve Jobs today. He was given up by his biological parents. He dropped out of college. He got fired from Apple on the 1st go-around.

And then he changed my life and your life and the lives of the kids that follow us. He gave me an I-pod!!!

And he really led by example. And he was a smart guy. Real smart.

AJ started the game the other night by walking the bases load. He was saved in the inning when one of his teammates made a circus catch.

And then he took over.

He looked calm, in control and at peace with his abilities. He cruised through the big game, concentrating and knowing that if he failed, he gave it his all.

Life doesn't always work out. That's why we make movies of the times that it does. And in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't mean much. Even if the 27-Time World Championship Yankees become the 28-Time World Championship Yankees, it doesn't change a damn thing in our lives.

(Other than I become slightly more irritating).

But that baseball and life lessons thing is open to me again.

AJ redeemed himself. Michael Vick is trying to renew his energies. Ben Rapistpervert got married! Steve Jobs was rehired by Apple and lived by example until he was taken away yesterday.

Mistakes are plentiful. Under-achieving is the norm. Complacency always settles in.

Rise above and we make a movie.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Ten Years Ago Today

There are people who can recall every second of every day of their entire life, knowing what they ate, how they felt and what they watched on television.

Ten years ago today I was at the Bills game as they played the New York Jets. I was with my buddy Jeff, my buddy John and my buddy Al.

The Bills lost.

We drank beer, ate wings, and laughed a lot. On that very morning the United States announced that they were going to attack Iraq for the 9/11 attacks that occurred less than a month earlier.

Sound reasoning there.

My wife was home with the boys. While I was at the game they were going to take a long nap to help fight the colds they were getting.

There were snowflakes in the air.

My kids were just 8, 4 and 1.

The Yankees were gearing up for a playoff match up with the Oakland A's.

Our lives were absolutely shattered on 10/06/01 because before the day was out, it was in an elevator that a nurse spilled the beans.

"It's the most massive tumor we've ever seen," she said.

Life's lessons were there for me to take.

Did I take them?

Jake was successfully cured at the hospital.

The Bills still haven't been back to the playoffs.

We are still in Iraq.

It's 70 degrees today.

The Yankees are preparing for a playoff game against the Detroit Tigers.

I'm having pork chops and mashed potatoes for dinner.

And I am a better man.

A little heavier. A lot balder. More patient. Still dedicated. Happy now and again.

When Jake comes through the door tonight I think he'll get a hug.

"Get off me, old man," he'll say.

So glad he's around to say it.

He never gets sick anymore.

What were you doing ten years ago today?

Two Tickets to Pittsburgh

Of course, that is from an old joke. A real old joke and a Chevy Chase movie about a guy who wants to buy tickets from a woman who is blessed in the chest department.

The comic screws up the words and orders "Two pickets to....

You know the joke.

Anyway, back when I was in high school Led Zeppelin was going to visit Buffalo in support of their "In Through the Out Door" album.

It would have been a great tour because it might be the only music that they wrote themselves.

Anyway, I had two pickets.

I was going to go with the girl that I had been chasing for years and years. She didn't want to go anywhere else with me, but I suppose that seeing Robert Plant and Jimmy Page was her real agenda, but beggers can't be choosers.

And then...

Their drunken drummer choked to death on his own vomit and they canceled their visit.

I could have been a contender.

We may have an in for pickets to the Yankee game on Saturday. They are scheduled to play Texas in Game 1 of the ALCS.

My beautiful wife and my darling children will most likely be along for the ride. I'm still not totally convinced of their overall agenda.

CC versus CJ Wilson.

8 wins away from grabbing a hold of championship #28. How can we stay away if it all comes to be?

There's just one catch.

The Yanks have to beat the Tigers in Game 5 to get there.

I like their chances.

They certainly better not choke on their own vomit.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

And That's What's Happening

I get a lot of my news from the Howard Stern Show. Robin does the news on a daily basis and Howard and crew sit back and give real, honest appraisals. This week they are on reruns and are covering the old stories.

Geez, OJ sounded guilty, didn't he?

Anyway...here in my blog land we talk about the news of the current day. There are no days off for breaks in a million dollar mansion.

1). I see that Christie, the New Jersey Governor, isn't going to run for president. He said that it 'just isn't time.'

I know it shouldn't be a factor, but he is a really, really, really big man. He makes CC Sabathia look like Olive Oyle from the old Popeye days. Don't you think that might come up if he runs for president? Someone was mentioning that his inability to control himself had to be a factor on how he runs things.

I'm not sure I agree. I do know that I might have mentioned something about it in some blog, somewhere along the way because I'm a moron like that.

2). Don't you hate people who during an interview ask and answer simple questions?

"Do I feel bad that we lost?"
"Of course I do."
"Do I think we could have won?"
"Certainly."
"Do I coach the same way I always do?"
"I've coached the same for years."

STOP IT!!!! Let the guy interviewing you ask the questions. Hate it!!!!

3). I see Amanda Knox is home.
"Do I think she killed the guy?"
"Somebody did."
"Was I surprised that she was let off?"
"Of course, I am."
"Will she be able to live a normal life?"
"I don't want her for a roommate." (Thanks, Pops).

(Isn't that annoying).

4). Obama says we are better off than 4 years ago. Well, four years ago I was way the mother-%$&*ing better off than I am now. Obama didn't have anything to do with my world crashing down.

Or did he?

5). Don't you hate when the cashier forces the freaking receipt into your hand as you are trying to put your money back into your wallet, purse or pocket. I had one idiot chasing me down to hand me the freaking receipt from my $1.50 bottle of freaking water. I took it from her and it crossed my mind to shove it down her throat as I dropped a quarter and it rolled away.

Perhaps the baseball playoffs are driving me nuts.

6). The economy is still in the shitter, huh? It's amazing how some people are doing well while others, in close proximity are suffering.

My beautiful wife and I for instance. I can tell you, too, that those that are in good financial shape don't give a crap about those that are suffering.

She keeps me in just enough money to keep me from being arrested for loitering.

But hell, I'm doing better than Orenthal.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Mighty Jeter Has Struck Out

Losing some precious things in life has afforded me a perspective on sports. I wish it weren't that way, but it is.

Last night Derek Jeter struck out with two on and two out. The message boards today are riding him hard as a choke artist.

Here comes a little of the perspective.

A baseball player is great if he succeeds 3 out of 10 times. Jeter's batting average in clutch situations is right about there at .300. Last night was a odds-on certainty.

Yet why he is successful is that he has been up at the plate, swinging for the fences, in that very situation way more than almost any other guy. That is what makes him a success.

It's not that he gets a hit every time. It's that he puts himself into position to succeed.

And what does he do when he fails?

He handles it with grace and humility. He congratulates the pitcher for beating him to the spot. He looks ahead...be it the next day...or the next year...for his next chance to succeed.

See why I love baseball?

It breaks life down into these one-on-one battles where you are sure to fail, but where you can position yourself to do something great. No other sport, no other game ever invented breaks it down that way.

You start at home and look to arrive safely home again. You swing and miss more often than you are the hero. You can be great or you can be humbled on a huge stage with the whole world watching.

Jeter is about 30 for 100 in clutch situations.

Most people are 0 for 0.

And that is what I will try and explain to the boys today.

Not to fear failure. Not to believe that your world is crashing down if you swing and miss in front of a million people.

I want them to be standing at the plate with the metaphorical tying run on 3rd with two outs and everyone doubting that it can happen.

Because sometimes you hit a bleeder through the infield and everyone cheers.

Because sometimes you succeed.

Am I disappointed that the Yankees lost?

I suppose.

But I am more heartened by the fact that they have worked to succeed. I've liked the team. A lot of young guys that came through the farm. If they fail this year, they will have most likely learned something about succeeding and how it isn't easy.

Perhaps they will work harder.

Maybe they will blow down those walls in front of them and emerge on the other side.

Who knows? Maybe Jeter will connect.

I know one other thing...a guy like Jeter...will never quit when it gets too tough.

A Good Man

Hanging around on the outskirts of the construction industry as I do on a daily basis often runs me smack dab into people who know the Fazzolari name.

The statements that begin with, "Do you have cousins in Gasport," is usually followed by a roll of the eyes.

The one's that start with, "Is your brother Jim?"

Are also met by the roll of the eyes and a few great stories.

But the one's that are most uncomfortable these days are from the old-timers.

"Is John your Dad?" someone asked me today.

Damn. It's not that I don't think of my Dad every day anyway, but when you aren't ready for it.

"Dad passed away last year," I said.

Saying it sucks. Thinking it sucks. Knowing it happened sucks.

"Ahhhh, no," the guy said. "That's too bad. Your Dad was a good man."

And that was it. A good man.

First off, yes he was. A really good man. A great man.

Secondly, isn't that all we aspire to be?

I thought of the weekend and having to teach Matt a lesson on life. I thought of my Dad and the way he used to let us know when things weren't quite as he thought they should be. In later years he was a little like George Costanza's father with the "Bah!" followed by the explanation.

All that was missing was him yelling "Serenity Now! Serenity Now!"

In the growing up years, he guided us, let us make mistakes and then showed us he was watching, all with an eye on the prize ahead.

To make us good men.

So, today started with me sending Matt a simple text.

"Make good decisions."

We went back and forth for awhile and he was thrilled that I wasn't going to kill him for what was simply a mistake of youth.

I wanted to let him know that there is a huge picture out there ahead of the small lens he is seeing things through now.

I wanted to let him know that sometimes you only have one chance to make the right choice and that every once in awhile you have to rise above the anger, the impatience, and the stupidity.

How does one become a good man?

How do you achieve a lifetime stamp of such an understanding by someone who's life you may touch only in passing, from out on the fringes?

By being a good man.

That's how.

It isn't as easy as it sounds, now, is it?

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Flashing Sign on the Buildings?

For the 8th time in the last 16 days someone in Buffalo has driven into a building.

I'm not kidding.

And it's not funny.

There have been fatalities involved. A couple was killed as they ate their cheeseburgers at a chain restaurant. A man looking to kill himself drove into a fire hall. A potential drunk drove into a different chain restaurant. Last night it was someone on drugs, evidently.

As luck may have it, I have a little experience when it comes to such matters.

I once drove into a house.

Let me set the scene.

We were all living in Mill Valley, California. I didn't have my driver's license, but since I was 18 years old, my brother John, who did have his license figured that I could move the car three feet in the driveway.

He was wrong.

John pulled into the drive and ran into the house to get the keys for the other car parked in front. My job was simple. He was going to pull the other car forward, and I would follow suit so that the car I was in wouldn't be sticking out into the road.

You got it? We all good so far?

I was wearing work boots. And there was one other factor. I had drank three beers immediately after work.

Oh, one more thing:

My brother Jeff was in the back seat of the car I was driving.

John inched the other car forward. I jumped in behind the wheel.

I promptly hit the gas.

I floored it, actually. You see, I thought it was the brake.

We raced forward. Is it possible to make it to 70 mph in 2 seconds?

Felt like it.

As you might guess, the car I was in struck the back end of the car that John had just exited. John went flying to the right. I saw him leave his feet. My foot found the brake. My car crashed into his car which in turn crashed into the house where the rest of the family was enjoying a pre-dinner discussion.

Self-knowledge is useful, but unfortunately it doesn't arrive until the moment after you've absolutely fu*&ed something up.

"Drive much?" Jeff asked from the backseat.

John dusted himself off. Mom ran out of the house followed by everyone else. Thankfully Dad had not yet arrived home from work.

What can you say after doing such a thing?

We spend so much time looking to blame our mistakes on others. I searched my Heineken-filled mind. I thought of my clumpy boots. Certainly it was their fault. I was curious about the damage. I was trying hard to save face.

Nothing worked.

"I ought to kill you," John said calmly as I stepped from the car.

"I wish you would," I answered.

I remember paying for the damage. I'm still paying for it, actually.

There are moments when someone in the family will look at me and laugh.

"Remember when you hit the house?"

It happens.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Can We Win?


On October 12th the National Book Award Finalists are announced. There will be no forewarning. The entire world finds out at the same time.

I wish I could say that I'm happy to be nominated.

I really wish that it was for something else, but here we are, and we certainly want to win. Not for the acclaim. Not for any money. Not for anything other than there's a man's life documented in the pages of that book, and that man belongs in Times Square.

Can it win?

I put this book down once. When I was done reading it. - Matt Snell - Gasport, NY

There was so much to say, so much that still needs to be said. Such a void that will never be filled. Is writing about faith, love and laughter something that should be examined by a wider audience?

The book is amazing, Cliff. Thank you for sharing your stories. I am sure it wasn’t easy. I laughed, I cried…it is truly something special -Leslie Bauer Kresconko

And the date has been out there for me to grab onto. Since the book was sent for consideration, I have also entered it into the New England Book Fair. An award that I already received. It certainly isn't about awards. Like Woody on CHEERS, I can go buy my own trophy if that is what I need for self-esteem. It's about love.

Cliff Fazzolari writes with passion and spirituality about the things that matter most; family, children and the ties that bind us together. In the "House of Miracles" he presents the physicians, nurses, patients and families of the Women and Children's Hospital of Buffalo with a warmth and understanding that comes from being a writer and a son, husband and devoted father. His personal insights and observations magnify the importance and relevance of his subjects and let us in to a world where the human condition is exposed and celebrated.

I have enormous respect for his commitment to the subjects that matter to him.

Dr. Michael G. Caty, M.D., M.M.M.
Professor of Surgery and Pediatrics
State University of New York at Buffalo
John E. Fisher Professor of Pediatric Surgery
Surgeon-in-Chief Women and Children's Hospital of Buffalo


Do we have a chance?

I think we do.

And it's all of us. All that benefited from being part of a wonderful life of love, faith, hope, laughter and most of all:

the walking celebration.

The Fuzzy's go to New York.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A New Religion

Maybe I need a new religion. We've had so many of the old ones around that perhaps coming up with something new might be of benefit.

I thought of this because Demi and Ashton are chasing down their Kaabal master to figure out why he put his dinky where it wasn't supposed to go.

What can religion do for you in such a situation?

Is it all about the confession and the forgiveness?

I must be honest here and admit that I'm sort of up against it when it comes to figuring out whether I should face west and bow to the sun, or spin in a circle and chant the name of L. Ron Hubbard.

I think of the scene in the Will Ferrell movie where he's running on the track in his underwear asking all the gods for help and he says, "Save me Tom Cruise."

And it's weird but it sort of stands to reason that what others believe is sort of foreign and kind of open to scorn.

There was an episode of Family Guy where they prayed to Arthur Fonzarelli as a god.

Life isn't easy to handle and a lot of people push their beliefs out there on others. A lot of people believe in a lot of strange things...at least in my book. What would you think of someone who worshipped the sun, or the moon, or the stars?

Is there a Kaabal version of Santa Claus in the sky somewhere who saw what Ashton Kutcher did, or what you did, or what I did, and he's keeping track of it on a piece of paper for a final judgement of sorts.

"He helped the poor."

"He was nice to dogs."

"He banged the babysitter."

I'm not sure about the scorecard.

I'm not sure about the grace of the Fonz.

I'm not sure that the sun isn't a god.

All I know is that it was raining in the South Bronx yesterday and I ran out to put a rosary in a bush and it didn't stop raining.

So, I went to bed thinking of Ashton and Demi and hoping that the god of Tom Cruise can save their marriage.

Fun While It Lasted

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