Monday, December 31, 2012

I Resolve to

1). Eat more red meat - what the hell am I supposed to do? I still have those big porterhouse steaks in the freezer.

2). Root for the Yankees - Everyone is saying that this is the year when they really hit the skids. Don't bet on it. They're the 27-Time World Champion-greatest-franchise-in-the-history-of-sports. Your Yankees, My Yankees, everybody's Yankees!!!

3). Be more patient. I don't even have the time to finish that one.

4). Don't Sweat the Petty Things - There's a lot of time wasted in worrying about things that don't happen. That's a proven fact. I've made strides in being much more calm in my daily life. Gotta' keep going.

5). Don't Pet the Sweaty Things - It's a good thing for me that my beautiful wife isn't sweaty. I don't have a lot to say here, just wanted to get a George Carlin line in somewhere in the list of resolutions.

6). Don't Yell Back at the Kids - when they tell me that the Bills are going to go 14 & 2, or 13 & 3, or 12 & 4...or hell, even 8 & 8. They want them to do well. They are rooting hard for it to happen. I need to be mindful that all those taxes going out the window for 4 home game sell-outs where every dime leaves town is worth it. We love the Bills!

7). Don't Yell at the Kids at All - This is a difficult one because they are annoying, mindless little hoodlums from time to time. The reason I shouldn't raise my voice to make my point is because I know they are annoying, mindless little hoodlums. I once saw a video where a guy claimed to have raised his kids without once ever having raised his voice.

Lying bastard.

8). Watch More Judge Judy - the endless parade of idiots is mind-numbing.

"How's Judy handling them today?" Jake asked me the other night in mid-show.

"She's tearing them apart," I said.

"That's good entertainment," Jake added.

I agree.

9). See Bruce? - Let's see. I saw him in Buffalo, Rochester, Washington and Boston this past year. He is making like he's gonna' do another album quickly and get right back out there. Who knows how much time either of us has left. Damn, I hope I go before he does.

10). Stay Healthy, Stay Hungry, Stay Alive - I got the hungry part down. I may need help with the other two. I'm still alive here, but not quite 100% healthy.

I can't even remember what that feels like.

Happy New Year.

Now let's get the trees and lights down and get on with this thing.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

London Book Festival


I've never been to London.

Chances are I won't ever get there either, but Oh Brother! The Life & Times of Jeff Fazzolari will be there.

And it will be honored there, and it's a funny thing, really because the other day I was talking to my doctor who is a really intelligent guy who is really great at his job, and he made me laugh because he said:

"I've always wanted to be a writer."

We chatted about the awards that have been piling up for me lately and how odd being recognized in such a manner is.

"It doesn't matter to me," I said. "I really just want Jeff's name front and center at all of these shows."

"That is the goal," he said, "but think of this as well, you're being recognized by your peers. Did you ever think that was possible when you were writing your first sentence down 30 years ago?"

"I'm still not sure that matters," I said.

He laughed.

"How many awards now?" he asked.

"Eight. Four different books," I said. "And I feel like a jackass even saying it."

"Have you arrived at the conclusion that you might have a talent in the field?" he asked.

"Not necessarily," I said, and I laughed. "I'm waiting for people to figure out it's smoke and mirrors and good editing."

"Then send me your editor," he said. "Because it doesn't happen for everyone."

London, England.

I'm not going, but I'm sure as hell glad that Jeff is making the trip.

I just wish we were going together and coming back with shaved heads and horrible hangovers.

A Profound Loss - Rest in Peace

RIP to Don Ingram.

My cousin Maryann is a beautiful soul. She has lived a great life where love is the sense most felt. So it is a certain profound loss when someone leaves that inner circle of love.

I can't imagine it, but Maryann lost her husband, Don, who was a good man and a talented musician, and lover of the good music. No Drake or Nelly there.

Beautiful music.

And it pains me to think that Maryann is going to have to work to find that ever-present smile that she always sends out to the world. Her laugh is what makes a lot of music in our family, and so when she hurts, of course we all hurt.

Being an adult sucks because there are so many times when we are confronted with mortality. Don was way too young to go. Jeff was way too young to go. Jan was too young to go. Uncle Jim should have had twenty more years. Dad should have lived longer. Aunt Carolyn went too soon.

Yet it's a crap shoot. We get a certain number of days, a finite number of breaths, and what day and time that last one will come we will never know.

I'm not quite sure we'd want to know, either.

So it stands to reason that we need to put our best foot forward each day. We need to build our house with love at the foundation.

We need to laugh hard, and bring that smile to the world, day after day, after day, after day.

We should love our family with everything we have.

Yet Maryann and the family did all that, and now they're hurting like they've never hurt before.

Is it worth it?

You bet your ass it is.

The music just sounds better every single day when it's played with precision and grace.

Life is better when love lays the groundwork.

So sorry for my beautiful cousin and her wonderful family.

Our wonderful family.

Love will win in the end though.

Keep showing us that wonderful smile.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Giving Up

Woke to the news of another person being pushed into an oncoming subway train in NYC.

Read the report on the funeral of the firefighters who were gunned down near Rochester by some raving lunatic.

Followed that up with some news about a woman who posed as the aunt to one of the victims of the Newtown shooting. She was collecting money that was donated for one of the kids.

Then there was the news of the high taxes as we roll over that damn Cliff.

The Yankees still don't have a right-fielder who can hit from the right side of the plate.

I headed to a job site. There were about ten masons in the trailer drinking coffee. One of them was on his phone when he announced that three cops had been shot at the police station in New Jersey.

Gun control was discussed.

"We need the Wild West," one guy said. "If everyone had a gun there'd be more fear."

"I vote for a hanging, once a week, in the public square," another guy said. "We can sell it like a game show. We pick 3 of the worst criminals that week and ask them questions. The one who loses gets hung, and the other two go to jail without passing go."

"We have to make it tougher for lunatics to get guns," I tried.

"Everyone is a lunatic these days," the guy to my left said.

"We definitely can't calm down the violence without first amping up the violence," the guy to my right said. "Even if the gunmen shoot themselves at one of these scenes we need to gather their body up, hang it and shoot it some more."

I laughed.

"I mean it," the guy said. "It'll make these guys think twice."

I didn't want to state the obvious in that the guy hanging there probably wouldn't care about extra bullets after the first one killed him.

"We need to get the mental hospitals back up and running," the guy across from me said. "We all know who's crazy, but we just let 'em walk the streets. If we pass out a test and they fail it, they have to check themselves into the nuthouse."

"A few of you might fail," I said.

"Then lock us up," the guy to my left said.

"But don't mess with our f%&*ing guns," the guy to my right exclaimed.

I actually do give up.

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Mick

I'm not sure that there was a bigger superstar in sports at the end of the 1950's and thru most of the 1960's.

Mickey Mantle was the face of the Yankees, the face of baseball and a legend - while he played. He ran like a deer, slugged like a steroid freak - before anyone was taking steroids - and he won World Series after World Series.

He also drank too much, ran around with women and treated them like dirt, barely was a father to his children, and was mean to the people on the streets.

He was entitled, childish and downright nasty to even his friends and his family.

But there was so much more to the story.

I am just finishing up reading The Last Boy about his days and his death.

I've laughed hard at some of the antics with Billy Martin and Whitey Ford and the rest.

Mickey: How's that spot on your liver?

Billy: Now, I got a little liver on my spot.

I've marveled at his baseball skills.

He hit a ball clear out of Washington's Stadium. That ball went 585 feet.

He would have gotten one out of Yankee Stadium too as it was rising when it hit the 3rd deck facade.

They figure that he hit that one about 625.

Six-hundred-and-twenty-five feet!!

I can't hit a tee shot that far.

And Mick didn't seem to enjoy even a minute of it.

He made a lot of money. He was absolute garbage to his mother and to his wife. He couldn't shake his father's death. He was molested when he was a boy. He had matinee idol looks, his body was chiseled and he didn't even work at it.

At the same time he was broken down, celebrated, cheered, booed and cheered again.

He died at the age of 63.

He told the people who once idolized him:

"Don't be like me. God gave me everything and I threw it all away."

I tell you, my string of biographies has continued. I've read books on Michael J. Fox, Mantle, Townsend, Keith Richards, Steve Martin and the biography on Bruce.

You know what's weird?

Not one of them was ever really happy.

It had to be fun to hit a ball that far, though, don't you think?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Syd Strong!


I know every emotion that Syd's parents are going through. I am aware of all of the fears associated with entrusting people who were strangers to take care of my child.

You see, Syd is a young girl who is in a battle for her health. She's being treated at the Women & Children's Hospital of Buffalo. Her family is enduring the sort of heartbreak that must be a main staple of what they serve in purgatory.

To Leslie and Barb...and fifty others...stay strong.

Faith, love, hope and strong are the words that the family needs right now, so I'm writing this in an effort to beg them to stay the course.

There are so many ups and downs when battling an illness.

It's the only way through.

I remember feeling as if the outside world just didn't matter and staring in wonderment at folks who were complaining about things that had little importance in the grand scheme of things.

I recall feeling the love of the nurses who stood up and did way more than what was expected, and the doctors who smiled with us and agonized through each separate stage.

So Syd...there are people who know how tough this stage of your life is.

There are those of us who are with you, begging you to be...

Strong.

On the days when you really are fed up with it, hang tough.

In the moments when you feel as strong as you can possibly feel, hold on...

To that feeling.

It isn't easy and I'm so sorry that you are going through even a minute of it, but know that there are a lot of us right there with you.

Hope.

Faith.

Love.

And most of all

Strength.

Syd Strong Strength.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Oscar, Oscar, Oscar!

It just might be that Jack Klugman was my favorite actor of all-time.

Better than DeNiro, better than Pacino, even better than Nicholsan.

With the possible exception of James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano nobody played a better part than Klugman did when he was Oscar Madison, and I'm telling you, he was the number one reason why I wanted to be a writer.

When the Buffalo News interviewed me and did the longest feature story of my writing career - 18 years ago - this is the quote that appeared under my photo:

Growing up I wanted to be Oscar Madison. I wanted to eat like a pig, dress like a slob, and write things people want to read. I've achieved two out of three and my writing career is picking up steam.

And I still love to watch the show. They run it every now and again on TV Land and I wait for the episode when Felix and Oscar are robbed and tied up in chairs in the kitchen. They start to make faces to get each other to laugh and Klugman just had the perfect face.

I laugh hard every time I see it.

He made it to 90.

That's a real good run, but there was a moment when it crossed my mind, again...that it is all temporary. It doesn't really matter how great an actor you are or how many words I can write in my lifetime.

It's just temporary, and even 90 years doesn't seem like quite enough.

Of course, the best thing about the Odd Couple was that it was an experience that I shared with Mom and Dad and all of my siblings.

Oscar Madison was the king as we grew up. We all loved his character.

I think of that sort of thing every time one of my kids comes in and asks me to watch a show with them.

We laugh together.

Life is better lived when you're sharing laughs with the people you love.

Oscar showed me that early on in my life.

But he really showed me how to eat like a pig and dress like a slob too.

He'll live on through me, in my dedicated tribute to how he dressed, for sure.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Have a great one!

These are your kingdom of days.

Enjoy them with those you love.

Celebrate your life!!

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Christmas Miracle

Christmas is certainly different once the children have grown beyond the age of belief in Santa.

"You better be good," I chided Sam the other day. "Santa is watching."

"Santa is sitting on the couch, watching Judge Judy and sipping water," he answered.

"Santa put on a few pounds," Jake chimed in.

Little bastards.

And it's weird, but despite the fact that the entire time when the kids were little goes by in a blur of sleep deprivation and frenzied mind cramps, some of the excitement of the season is gone.

Last year I figured that it was all because I hadn't stepped foot into a store to buy gifts, so I set aside one day to do it this year.

It wasn't that.

Shopping sucks.

They are tracking Santa on the Internet now. I just read a couple of tweets about how the trip started at 2 a.m. and that this year he has a cell phone with him so kids can reach out.

I'm sure that friggin' thing will ring just as he's gliding down a chimney in Afghanistan somewhere.

Yet Christmas shows itself in a lot of different ways these days.

A couple of nights ago we were heading out to North Collins for mass for my Dad. Sam noticed that there was a huge box of milk bones under the tree.

"You think the dogs will get into those?" he asked.

"Just get in the car," I said. "Sleepy and Slappy don't have the ambition."

Four hours later we returned to find the box torn open and half the bones gone. Both Sleepy and Slappy were denying involvement.

"Who was right, and who was wrong?" Sam asked.

About fifty times.

We laughed about it, and it was really funny teasing the dogs until just as I was straining the pasta we heard a yell from the living room.

"Melky's puking!"

I made my way to the living room where Melky was assembling her third huge pile of milk bones and dog food.

I heard a pan overheating on the stuff. I felt the frenzied aggravation of all the Christmas' gone past. Jake was making jokes. Sam was laughing and dancing. The dog was dry-heaving by now.

I grabbed a garbage bag and the roll of paper towels and yelled for Sam to get the dogs outside and that's when the miracle happened.

Matt took the bag and towels from my hand. He handed the bag to Sam and together the two of them cleaned the mess.

A Christmas Miracle.

Jake, of course, never budged from his seat, choosing instead to throw out one funny line after another.

"How come he doesn't help?" Sam asked.

"That's okay," I said. "Santa is watching."

"Santa better get in here and get some food on my plate," Jake answered. "The smell of the puke really made me hungry."

Who says that Christmas can't still be frantic?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Happy Birthday, Dad.

I can't believe that it's been 25 years.

I had completed college but the world didn't come chasing after me. I was working as a writer for a now-defunct magazine in Niagara Falls. Even though I had always wanted to be a writer I hated the job. I hated wearing a tie. I didn't want to be told what to write. Deadlines sucked. Writing sentences without the word sucked in it sucked, and the pay really sucked.

"You should come out here with me," my Dad said as I told him my troubles over the telephone. "Now that you have a degree I can help you get a job in the offices. You'll be around construction, and we'll have fun here."

Did I still need my Dad to find me a job? Hadn't he done enough for me through the years? Wasn't it time to man up a little?

Three days later I was in West Haven, Connecticut. I had driven my black Capri out there and Dad had immediately put me to work in the payroll department.

I got the chance to see him work with the staff, the couple of hundred men that he was scheduling and everyone from the mayor of New Haven on down. For three months we ate at fancy restaurants, he cooked gourmet meals for me, and we played cards in a two bedroom apartment that had furniture that he made out of plywood and two-by-fours.

I'm not kidding.

On his birthday that year - it was his 50th birthday - we headed back to Buffalo for the Christmas break.

There was only one other detail:

He wasn't going back.

He had been offered a job back home and he wanted to be there. I decided (on his advice) to stay in West Haven alone.

He was gonna' make a man out of me one way or another.

"I gave you at least two educations," he told me as we began the seven-hour ride home in a blinding snowstorm. Dad was driving. I was pretending that I didn't like Frank Sinatra as I rode with him.

We were a long ways from home when the car stalled for the first time. It was over-heating in the bitter cold and Dad got out, opened the hood, said a few Italian curse words that my kids can say real well, and got back in.

"I think the float is getting stuck," he said.

"That's what I was thinking too," I said.

I've never seen him laugh harder than that.

The drive took us about 10 hours. We stopped in a cozy little diner and had eggs. We both had steak with our eggs and 25 years later I can still see him sopping up his yoke with the Italian Toast.

"It's a helluva' way to spend your 50th birthday," I said.

"I'm doing all right," he answered. "I just had a shitty steak for breakfast."

The car stalled about thirty times on that trip. Every stop was greeted by his Italian curse words. We killed the heat partway home and eventually we made it to the door of the home he had built with his own two hands.

As we got out of the car he started laughing again. He was thinking of my mechanical deficiencies.

"Thanks for coming out there with me," he said. "It's tough working out of town alone."

"Thanks for my educations," I answered.

All of them.

Happy Birthday, Dad.

Miss you every day.



Saturday, December 22, 2012

Jingle Bell Rock

I was woken from a sound sleep last night by the lyrics of the song, Jingle Bell Rock in my head.

Now I'm not much of a Christmas song guy, and hate most of the tunes, but that one is particularly bothersome, and I'm not sure where I heard it and why it woke me at 3:11 on Friday morning, but there I was, with my phone in my hand, looking up the lyrics.

There is something seriously wrong with the guy who wrote that song:

Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock
jingle bells swing and jingle bells ring
snowing and blowing up bushels of fun
now the jingle hop has begun.


What the F are you smoking????

Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock
jingle bells chime in jingle bells time
dancing and prancing in jingle bell square
in the frosty air.


Dancing and prancing in jingle bell square?

Seriously??


What a bright time, it's the right time
to rock the night away
Jingle bell time, it's a swell time
to go gliding in a one-horse sleigh
Giddy-up jingle horse, pick up your feet
jingle around the clock.


For shits and giggles I'm gonna' tell my boys that 'it's a swell time to go gliding in a one-horse sleigh.'

They'll put me in a home.


And giddy-up jingle horse, pick up your feet!

Is he talking to the horse?

Does he call him jingle horse?

What happened to a name like Mr. Ed?

Jingle horse!!!


Mix and-a-mingle in the jingling feet
That's the jingle bell
That's the jingle bell
That's the jingle bell rock.


Mix and a mingle in the jingling feet???

What???????


I couldn't even go back to sleep.

Holy shit!

(Happy Birthday to Lisa Zocco)

Friday, December 21, 2012

2012 Darwin Awards

2012 Darwin Awards
“ Gotta love this year's winner!!!

Nominee No. 1: [San Jose Mercury News]:
An unidentified man, using a shotgun like a club to break a former girl friend's windshield, accidentally shot himself to death when the gun discharged, blowing a hole in his head.

Nominee No. 2: [Kalamazoo Gazette]:
James Burns, 34, (a mechanic) of Alamo, MI, was killed in March as he was trying to repair what police describe as a "farm-type truck." Burns got a friend to drive the truck on a highway while Burns hung underneath so that he could ascertain the source of a troubling noise. Burns' clothes caught on something, however, and the other man found Burns "wrapped in the drive shaft."

Nominee No. 3: [Hickory Daily Record]:
Ken Charles Barger, 47, accidentally shot himself to death in December in Newton, NC. Awakening to the sound of a ringing telephone beside his bed, he reached for the phone but grabbed instead a Smith & Wesson 38 Special, which discharged when he drew it to his ear.

Nominee No. 4: [UPI, Toronto ]:
Police said a lawyer demonstrating the safety of windows in a downtown Toronto skyscraper crashed through a pane with his shoulder and plunged 24 floors to his death.? A police spokesman said Garry Hoy, 39, fell into the courtyard of the Toronto Dominion Bank Tower early Friday evening as he was explaining the strength of the buildings windows to visiting law students. Hoy previously has conducted demonstrations of window strength according to police reports. Peter Lawson, managing partner of the firm Holden Day Wilson, told the Toronto Sun newspaper that Hoy was "one of the best and brightest" members of the 200-man association. A person has to wonder what the dimmer members of this law firm are like.

Nominee No. 5: [The News of the Weird]:
Michael Anderson Godwin made News of the Weird posthumously. He had spent several years awaiting South Carolina 's electric chair on a murder conviction before having his sentence reduced to life in prison. While sitting on a metal toilet in his cell attempting to fix his small TV set, he bit into a wire and was electrocuted.

Nominee No. 6: [The Indianapolis Star]:
A cigarette lighter may have triggered a fatal explosion in Dunkirk, IN. A Jay County man, using a cigarette lighter to check the barrel of a muzzleloader, was killed Monday night when the weapon discharged in his face, sheriff's investigators said. Gregory David Pryor, 19, died in his parents' rural Dunkirk home at about 11:30 PM. Investigators said Pryor was cleaning a 54-caliber muzzle-loader that had not been firing properly. He was using the lighter to look into the barrel when the gunpowder ignited.

Nominee No. 7: [Reuters, Mississauga, Ontario ]:
A man cleaning a bird feeder on the balcony of his condominium apartment in this Toronto suburb slipped and fell 23 stories to his death. "Stefan Macho, 55, was standing on a wheelchair when the accident occurred," said Inspector Darcy Homer of the Peel Regional Police. "It appears that the chair moved, and he went over the balcony," Homer said.

Finally, THE WINNER!!!: [Arkansas Democrat Gazette]:

Two local black men were injured when their pickup truck left the road and struck a tree near Cotton Plant on State Highway 38 early Monday. Woodruff County deputy Dovey Snyder reported the accident shortly after midnight Monday. Thurston Poole, 33, of Des Arc, and Billy Ray Wallis, 38, of Little Rock , were returning to Des Arc after a frog-catching trip. On an overcast Sunday night, Poole 's pickup truck headlights malfunctioned.

The two men concluded that the headlight fuse on the older-model truck had burned out. As a replacement fuse was not available, Wallis noticed that the .22 caliber bullets from his pistol fit perfectly into the fuse box next to the steering-wheel column. Upon inserting the bullet the headlights again began to operate properly, and the two men proceeded on eastbound toward the White River Bridge ..

After traveling approximately 20 miles, and just before crossing the river, the bullet apparently overheated, discharged and struck Poole in the testicles. The vehicle swerved sharply right, exited the pavement, and struck a tree. Poole suffered only minor cuts and abrasions from the accident but will require extensive surgery to repair the damage to his testicles, which will never operate as intended.

Wallis sustained a broken clavicle and was treated and released. "Thank God we weren't on that bridge when Thurston shot his balls off or we might be dead," stated Wallis

"I've been a trooper for 10 years in this part of the world, but this is a first for me. I can't believe that those two would admit how this accident happened," said Snyder.

Upon being notified of the wreck, Lavonia (Poole 's wife) asked how many frogs the boys had caught and did anyone get them from the truck? Though Poole and Wallis did not die as a result of their misadventure as normally required by Darwin Award Official Rules, it can be argued that Poole did in fact effectively remove himself from the gene pool.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Final Moments

So the Mayan calender ends tomorrow, huh?

To hear the Mayans tell it they never thought that it would mark the end of days, but there are most likely people out there

(given the raving lunatics that are running around)

who believe that we are all doomed.

I might as well hedge my bets.

If this is indeed my last post I have to wonder what the hell I'll be doing when the great fireball scorches the Earth.

I'll most likely be sitting with one of the boys, talking about who the hell is gonna' play right field at the stadium this year.

Either that or I'll be listening to my beautiful wife explain what happened during her work day.

Or I'll be singing one of my songs to one of my dogs.

Melky is my buddy, Melky is my girl. Melky is my buddy, she hates the stupid squirrel.

Or I'll be listening to my boys chatter about the Bills and how if they can just draft Joe Namath in his prime they'll go 16 and 0 and shock the world.

And if any of those things are going on...

...that will be just fine.

Yet given the world chaos in the last few weeks don't you think that if there was a definitive date for the end of times there'd be mass hysteria?

People are already collecting guns as if they need to ward off the rogue government that is coming.

(As my buddy, Mike said, 'The government has nuclear bombs. Your assault weapons won't help you').

Yet in any regard I'm thinking that if the frogs come raining from the skies on Friday morning or afternoon or night all hell will really break lose.

People won't be in the chapel praying for their eternal life.

Men will rape and pillage.

Guns will go off all across the land.

Terror will reign.

And in the gathering darkness you'll hear a laugh from a comfortable home in Blasdell, New York as one of my children laughs at me.

For singing a new song to my dog.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

That Damn Cliff

So we are approaching the fiscal Cliff and the dire predictions say that milk prices will double, oil prices will rise, the mortgage exemption for taxes will be nullified and taxes will go up, across the board for those of us who actually pay them.

Other than that...not a lot will change.

I'm not much into economics. I turned all of the family finances over to my beautiful wife and while it appears there's a real disconnect between the upper class of the family (wifey and college boy), the middle class (15-year-old and 12-year old hoodlums) and those of (me) on the poverty line, we're doing okay.

I think.

(It's hard to get a lot of information about the state of the books from the higher tier).

Yet I don't much bother with it. Socks without holes in the toes are all I really require, and I like the freezer filled in case we are trapped in the house for too long.

Still, it's hard not to worry about something that we don't quite understand, right?

Will there be a last minute deal?

Should there be?

Will those at the higher end of the economic chain pay more?

Should they?

Will those at the bottom be forced to pay a little?

Can you get blood from a stone?

I do have opinions on the matter, of course, but mainly I'm a little concerned that the name Cliff is being dragged through the mud.

That damn Cliff.

Cliff may ruin us all.

I have received a few of the headlines in my text message inbox.

Why couldn't it have been the Fiscal Bill or the Fiscal Donald?

What do I predict will happen?

I'm thinking there will be a last minute deal brokered that makes someone a lot of free money as they find the loopholes. I imagine that the leaders of each party will stand shoulder-to-shoulder and talk about how one man or the other put the stake of the country over their usually selfish means.

And the guy in the middle will be the one who actually gets screwed.

And he won't even know about it.

Until it's too late.

We will avoid the Cliff that will ruin us, but make no mistake.

Eventually a fiscal Cliff will cause our demise.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Heart Heavy

A couple of things happened over the weekend.

First off, I couldn't take sitting around not being a part of the world. I decided to forego a portion of my rest my sore tendon. I got up off the couch and headed to work. I just couldn't take what I was seeing on the news and feeling in my heavy heart.

Just too much.

I headed for the convenience store and my daily chat with a real nice lady who collects my money for the papers. I pointed to the headline about the president's speech on Sunday night.

She started crying.

I thought of my wife crying as Obama read off the names of the children.

I thought of the Bruce song:

This is a prayer for the souls of the departed, those who've gone and left their parents broken-hearted. Their lives over before they got started. This is a prayer for the souls of the departed.


My boy was still waiting in the driveway for his bus to come. I wanted to grab him and hug him, but he's 15. He might have kneed me in a bad spot.

"Have a great day, buddy," I said.

Our kids are off at school. My wife works in a public spot. Stopping for a coffee may be a life-ending proposition.

How is it possible?

In the United States of America?

In your hometown?

In my hometown?

And the pro-gun people are out in force because there is a threat in the air. Yet the threat is felt way more by just the regular Joe.

And I don't even care to argue the point anymore. I just want our world back.

I thought about the fact that there is a better chance to be struck by lightning than to be a victim of gun violence, but that was of little comfort.

There's still a threat.

And I thought of the fact that we need armed guards everywhere we go, and that don't feel like the way to go.

It will dissipate, but I'm not sure that's a great idea. It needs to stay on the front burner.

We need to control it somehow.

Because carrying a heart so heavy that it hurts to move is just too much.

For way too many of us.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Fixer

My brother Jim is in the East Coast region of the country trying to help fix up some of the damage from Hurricane Sandy. He's working unbelievably long hours out in the cold, leading large charges of men as they work to get people back into their homes.

We couldn't have possibly sent a better man, from this region, to help with the job.

You see, for years and years around these parts Jim is the guy we all think of when something goes wrong with something that we own. The circle widened from our family to a bunch of other families and before long Jim's life became secondary to what we all needed.

Because he's so damn good and so willing to give.

A few weeks ago my mother was asking me about something that had gone wrong around her house. The conversation didn't go very far because Mom knew that I couldn't possibly help her, I knew that I couldn't help her, and when I suggested to 'take a look' we both laughed.

"What the hell happened to me?" I asked Mom. "How is it possible that Jim, the guy directly younger than me in the hierarchy of the family, is so bright and I'm so dim?"

"He followed Dad everywhere," Mom said. "You went in the other direction."

And of course, that is the exact answer. I recall Dad telling Mom (I was about 12 at the time):

"All he ever does is read."

Contrast that with Jim.

After one of my books came out I was at the trunk of his car with him. I picked up the copy of the book I'd given to him. It was covered in motor oil, but had otherwise been untouched.

I was horrified.

"Who we kidding?" Jim asked. "I wasn't gonna' read it."

Yet Jim has certainly improved in his reading skills. The last few books that I've released he's been the first guy to get back to me with a review.

Me?

I still struggle to change a light bulb.

You think I'm kidding?

I'm waiting for my beautiful wife to hang the awards I received for the book writing. I'd give it a go, but she'd have to rehang them anyway. When I need to send a manuscript out, she has to build the box for me.

Seriously.

"I wish I would have followed Dad a little bit," I told Mom.

"You just didn't have it in you," Mom said.

Thank God that Jim did, and does.

There are a whole lot of people in Staten Island who are thrilled that he was like gum on the bottom of Dad's shoe.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

I'm Alive

If it's possible to place a cloud over the head of every American citizen it seems that a deranged kid did it.

The weekend was a strange collection of seconds that seemed to pulse with the dread that perhaps we had turned a corner into an abyss so dark and dreary that we may never recover. These were little kids who were gunned down. Children with the faces of angels, untouched by the pain of having lived, but unable to have tried.


And it was too much to comprehend, and too senseless to fight about. After a certain amount of grieving it was time to take a deep breath and understand that no amount of arguing about whether or not guns should be readily available without check was going to help.

In fact, all that could help was once again inside and around me. My own personal love and life was the only way through.

And in that moment of resignation that evil is all around us and won't likely be stopped no matter how much gnashing of the teeth that I do, I considered that there are millions upon millions of truly wonderful people out there who were grieving just as I am.

I suddenly felt alive in the knowledge that through faith there might eventually be a way to believe in humanity once more.

God is here. He's alive with us, struggling with us in the face of evil.

It's hard to keep track of God or love when you're counting the bodies stacked inside the door of the American school, or the American church, or the American movie theater.

But love is there just as God is still there.

I read a lot of people's opinions about this or that over the last few days. Some I agreed with. Some I did not, but at the end of all the reading I came away feeling empty as if there was no apparent way through such a struggle.

But there is.

Because I am alive and what will propel me and my family through is our love, faith, hope and belief in one another.

Friday and Saturday were days when each time my children spoke to me I thought of the heartbreak associated with ever losing them, and I considered those slaughtered children and how really angry and incredibly grieving that I would really be.

And I thought of God again.

And how that would be the only way through then too.

Yet God is not just alive in the preaching of a minister or the passing of the hat at the local church. In fact there are moments when that is where He may be the least alive.

God is alive in watching my boys root for one another as they played basketball, and needling one another on the way home.

God is alive in my wife saying, 'Give me a kiss,' or 'These meatballs are great.'

God is alive in the dancing of my dogs as they see me open the door and walk back into their lives even if I'd only been gone for ten minutes.

God is in my mother's voice when I call her to check in and hear her laugh about something that happened.

I'm alive.

God is alive.

It's all I can do to move forward and honor those who are not.

For no reason that I will ever be able to grasp.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Hate

There's just too much hate out there.

We hate each other's political beliefs. We hate each other's sports teams. We hate the opinions you hold and we hate you for not loving ours.

We hate someone infringing upon rights we believe we've earned.

We hate the guy who spreads the message to not hate.

We breed hate. We nurture it and we spread it like manure until the hate erupts, and then we hate the people who hate to tell us what caused the hate.

People hate me because I hate senseless slaughter of five-year-olds and try to bring up the lack of love in a hateful sphere of unintelligible comments.

And I hate that.

The answer is so obviously the opposite of hate, but we can't even bring ourselves to say it.

We'd rather be angry.

And we hate the guy who did this and we'll hate the next one too, but instead of banding together, we'll spew more hate towards those who don't think like you.

Civility is gone.

Frank discussions of moving forward are replaced.

By hate.

The empty spaces are filled with aggression.

And hate.

Unfortunately we have all had to picture the scene. We've all had that hated imaging of getting such a phone call, as a parent, as a brother, as a son or as a daughter, and we hate the thought of it.

But do we hate it enough to stop it?

To at least try and figure it out?

It was once said that a society that condemns violence should try and stop being entertained by it.

Violence does not entertain me.

In fact...

...I hate it.

HORRIFIC!

There's no way to make sense of what happened in Connecticut, but there's every reason to believe that it can happen again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

61 mass murders in the last 20 years in our beautiful country.

And next time it may be in your little town.

Because there's no real interest in stopping it.

There's too much money to be made.

It's the price we pay for freedom, right?

More guns would stop it?

Are you kidding me?

Yes, we're all sick over the senseless loss of life.

But that's not enough.

We need to fix it.


Do we honestly need these guns available?

We aren't playing Halo out there.

Just horrific.

I'm ashamed to be a member of this species sometimes.

I really am.

Friday, December 14, 2012

It's Only Rock & Roll

Who knows what to expect when all of your Rock & Roll heroes are older than 60 years old? Would Mick and the boys do all right? Would Daltrey hit the high notes? Will McCartney get married again backstage? Can Bon Jovi do a decent job of standing next to Bruce?

The show was unreal.


Bruce started the show, of course. He doesn't follow anyone so I knew it would go that way. He didn't disappoint. My boy Sam came into the room to check on why the television was so loud.

"Sit with me," I said.

He watched Bruce do My City of Ruins. As Bruce sang, With these hands, I pray Lord. Sam glanced at me.

"He has the whole place praying," he said. "He's pretty good."

When Roger Waters hit the stage I was a little unprepared for how much I love his music too. (He was following Bruce, by the way), but Waters was powerful and The Wall still resonates with me even if I didn't smoke pot to listen to it.

Other notes?

Alicia Keyes is beautiful and has a wonderful voice.

Bon Jovi was over matched singing with Springsteen.

The Stones were a late addition and only played two songs but as I noted during the set, Jagger is way old, but he did more cardio in two songs than I've done in 20 years. He's an absolute freak of nature and sounded great. I have a special place in my heart for Keith and Charlie too. Love the Stones.

Billy Joel, Sir Paul and Michael Stipe were tremendous.

But the highlight?

The Who simply blew me away. Who Are You? was a little choppy as it is tough for Roger to get there on the high notes, but after that...

...damn they were awesome.

So what happened next?

Kayne West made me turn my television off.

I really want to try and see what the deal is with rap music.

I really do.

I love music and I want to see why it captures the attention of so many, but I just can't do it.

'Cause it isn't music.

Kanye West was awful. Flat-out sucked. In between The Who and then Billy Joel and McCartney????

The show went from The Who to The Why?

The concert ended around 1:30. Most of us who are old enough to love that music are walking around so damn tired, but so fired up.

Rock & Roll isn't dead even if most of the guys who can still do it are getting there.

I hope they raised a billion dollars to help those poor people hammered by the storm.

I hope they never have to gather again to help, but I'm sure glad they still can.

It's only Rock & Roll but I love it.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Twelve, Twelve, Twelve

Catching up on all the news fit to print.

My son passed me in the kitchen yesterday and said:

"Nine more days until the end of the world."

He was shocked when I responded with:

"Whatever."

1). The Yankees signed another member of the Boston Suck Sox World Series team. Oh how I hated Kevin Youkilis and now he's gonna' be wearing the pinstripes. I will hate him every time he doesn't get a hit which will be about 7 out of every ten times. The other three times he will be barely tolerable.

2). Bruce and the Stones played together for the hurricane relief effort on 12/12/12. It's a good thing I didn't go. My head might have exploded. My two favorite acts.

3). The leg rehab is a funny thing. I can't believe that people can get used to not doing anything. I have been trying my best to stay off it and certainly haven't climbed anything in two weeks, but despite the fact that I've wanted to keep my mind busy there is a great impulse to watch The Fresh Prince of Bel Air at 11 a.m. Thankfully the rehab hasn't had any influence on my lack of sleep schedule.

4). The Portland mall shooting of Tuesday night is one of those all-time nightmare situations. Hearing about women screaming and trying to rush their children out of the line to see Santa is bone-chilling. Yet at least the guys rights to carry a semi-automatic had not been infringed upon.

5). Man, the New England Patriots are fun to watch. It's not a very popular stance here in Buffalo, but they sort of have the market cornered on making their opponents look foolish and Tom Brady is the best QB ever. I always answered that question with Joe Montana, but even he wasn't that in control of every situation.

6). What do you think of the Sabres so far this year? Or the Flyers? Or the Penguins? or the Capitals? What a shame. Malkin with the Pens tried to garner a little of the sympathy of the common man by explaining that the players need to worry about their families. Every single work stoppage has one of those morons mention that. Malkin made 9 million last year. More than any of us will make in five lifetimes. For flipping rubber at a net. Looks like a banner year around the tree at the Malkin home. Perhaps we can pass the hat.

7). What do you make of the nurse who killed herself after being pranked by a radio show when my ex-girlfriend Kate was in for her baby-sickness? It seems to me that perhaps she was a tad unstable before the call, but it does call to mind that Princess Di was driven off the road by idiots too. They are people, people.

8). There's a lot of reading going on here as I keep Will Smith off the television set. I'm currently reading a Mickey Mantle biography. The Mick was one guy who was too blessed, too beloved, and too admired. I'm not thinking that's an easy place to be either...not that I'll ever get there.

"Don't be like me," as he was dying is pretty powerful though.

9). Christmas just isn't the same for a lot of reasons. I see one of my neighbors, who has young kids, putting up Santa, Reindeer and Frosty blow-ups and I wonder if I should at least hang a wreath on my door.

Then I think:

He has to take all that shit down in a couple of weeks.

In the freezing cold.

With the kids already griping.

And the wife on his back.

Poor dopey bastard.

I might hang a wreath.

My beautiful wife might have to help.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Shrink the World

If we could shrink the earth's population

If we could shrink the earth's population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, it would look something like the following. There would be:

57 Asians

21 Europeans

14 from the Western Hemisphere, both north and south

8 would be Africans

52 would be female

48 would be male

70 would be non-white
30 would be white

70 would be non-Christian
30 would be Christian

89 would be heterosexual
11 would be homosexual

6 people would possess 59% of the entire world's wealth and all 6 would be from the United States.

80 would live in substandard housing

70 would be unable to read

50 would suffer from malnutrition

(ONE)1 would be near death;

(ONE)1 would be near birth;

(ONE)1 (yes, only 1) would have a college education;

(ONE)1 (yes, only 1) would own a computer.

When one considers our world from such a compressed perspective, the need for acceptance, understanding and education becomes glaringly apparent.

And, therefore . . .

If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of this world.

If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week.

If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace, you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy.

If you can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death, you are more blessed than three billion people in the world.

If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation, you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.

If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful, you are blessed because the majority can, but most do not.

If you can read this message, you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world who cannot read at all.

As you read this and are reminded how life is in the rest of the world, remember just how blessed you really are!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tragic

I must be confused when it comes to the meaning of the word tragic.

I find it tragic that a child gets sick.

Yet I'm not sure I'd put the tragedy label on when a guy drives drunk and kills his passenger.

I find it tragic that a mother loses a child during pregnancy.

The tragedy of shooting a woman and then yourself is sort of lost on me.

Am I thinking too much into this?

I bring all of this up because I saw a Dallas Cowboy get interviewed after their stirring win yesterday and he mentioned that he had no right to question 'God's Plan'.

So God was responsible for the downing of shots and the getting behind the wheel and crashing and flipping?

God planned that?

Did He put a trip-wire in the road?

On a daily basis, as a safety dude, I walk around and watch men put themselves in compromising positions for the sake of, what, I don't know.

I once investigated the death of a man who went over 60 feet to the concrete below. He had everything he needed to stay alive and disregarded the use of such life-saving equipment.

Tragedy?

Or dopey bastard?

Perhaps we can re-classify the verbiage we use to describe such incidents.

Wouldn't it be refreshing if an announcer said something like this?

The Cowboys beat the Bengals yesterday with heavy hearts after the dopey bastard on their team caused undue grief.

Or like this:

The Chiefs were able to rebound as they stood up to dopey bastardish circumstances to win a stupid game.

Perhaps it's me and I'm over-sensitive.

Yesterday during the game I felt my anger rising as the announcer spoke of the 'brilliance' of the running back who knew enough to get out of bounds to stop the clock as time was winding down.

"I just can't get over what a brilliant play that was," the announcer gushed.

Brilliant?

I have a four-year old nephew that knows they are running out of time and that the clock stops when you go out of bounds.

I don't know.

Tragic.

Brilliant.

I think they're all a bunch of:

Dopey Bastards.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Everything's a Mess

I've always been an orderly sort of person.

Not Felix Unger, mind you, as my public persona is more Madison-like, but everything has to be in its place.

I bring this all up because when you live with people who don't quite feel that everything has a place, you are in for a long day...

...of trying to put everything in its place!

I'm off of work for a little while as I try to get the tendon in my hip to stop being inflamed. I've been struggling with it for 10 months now, and to be honest I've received about 20 shots in the hip, I've tried anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxers and deep tissue massages. I golfed once this past year and that was pretty much a disaster (other than the company and the bologna sandwich). The hip is structurally good, but there's the problem of lifting the leg...even a couple of inches off the ground.

So, home I am.

And I may just have to suffer with the bad hip and return quickly to work because I have a family here that...

...doesn't put their shit away.

It's funny but years ago I worked with a supervisor who was an absolute nightmare when it came to organization. His desk was littered with papers, old magazines, discarded fast food wrappers, and once, yes once I found a half-eaten tuna fish sandwich in one of his desk drawers.

That's right out of the Oscar Madison handbook.

Anywho-ha.

He had to go on vacation for two weeks. I was left with the task of sitting at his desk and answering his phones until he got back.

Yep.

I cleaned it from top to bottom.

He was pissed.

"I'll never find anything!" he said.

Isn't that odd?

What sort of person are you?

I'm telling you, I can tell when someone has used the stapler that's on my desk in my office.

I've never lost my I-pod, a flip disk, or even a pen.

Half the conversations around here between the beautiful wife and the hoodlums begins as such:

"Have you seen my?"

And do you know who they ask?

Yeah, me.

"I know where all my stuff is," I answer.

"You moved it! Where do you think it belongs?"

But I've given up on moving their stuff. I don't pick up the clothes in their rooms. I don't kick their strewn shoes across the floor anymore.

I don't dig through anything.

I'm afraid of finding a half-eaten sandwich.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Really Big Steak

There are days when I get excited about things.

Unfortunately those days are few and far between as I get older, but that's because the things that used to fire me up seem a little too tiresome now.

Not going to the market day, though.

We were out of steak.

That's a problem in our house because my kids really like steak. Perhaps we would have been better off not introducing them to it, but man, there's nothing like a good Porterhouse.

I headed to Elk Provision on Clinton Street in Buffalo. That's our place, and it has been since we were kids. I know all of the butchers. When I get through the door I hear one thing over and over.

"Hey Fuzzy!"

You see, my Dad might have been the best customer of all back thirty or forty years ago.

I was talking with my brother Jim as I hit the door. He seemed excited for me.

I went into the freezer and picked out my own short loin and then watched as one of my buddies cut it into perfect, huge steaks.

Twenty of them.

He brought the huge hunk of meat to the counter to have it weighed just before cutting it up.

When Ed, the owner and a dear friend of Dad's, saw the slab of meat he said:

"It's either for one of the Fuzzy boys or Donald Trump."

Back home I left them out to marinate and my boys happened upon them.

"Holy crap! Who's eating those?" Sam asked.

"You are. Let's see what you got."

I cooked the four steaks in three different ways.

Burnt-shoe leather for my beautiful wife.

Medium rare for Jake and Sam.

Rare and with peppers and onions for me.

We all started eating, and we ate and we ate and we ate.

As I ate it occurred to me that they were more than 20 ounce steaks.

"I couldn't do it," Jake announced as he walked away from the table. There were about four pieces left. Sam left about six. Kathy ate about 1/2 of hers.

Mine was gone.

But it hadn't been easy.

I couldn't leave any though.

I'm a Fuzzy boy.

I had to finish.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Picture Tells a Story Donut


The old Rod Stewart song comes to mind. When I was young I honestly thought he was singing every picture tells a story, donut.

Couldn't figure out what the hell the donut was all about.

Nice photo above, huh?

I didn't actually pose for that. I wish I looked that good when I dressed up.

The damn thing was photo-shopped somehow and I laugh hard every time one of my buddies does that to me. Jeffy Renaldo is a master at it. Chris is even more creative.

Yet I was thinking about it in the context of the Jeter picture that showed him out-of-shape. The NY Post went with a shot of the Captain looking like the captain of our Lions softball team.

Turns out it wasn't true.

"I thought it was pretty funny," Jeter said.

He even liked the headline Derek Eater.

But it makes you wonder, doesn't it?

Someone can take a shot of you and put it in all sorts of compromising positions.

(Really, someday ask me to take a look at the work Jeffy did with my face and the ugliest women in the world, among other things).

Then this morning I was reading through the USA Today and there on the editorial page was a tweet I'd sent out a couple of days before about the gun crap involving Bob Costas.

"Holy crap!"

They grab tweets out of the air?

I am a USA Today subscriber and my words may have been in response to one of their prompts, but the authorfazzolari handle turned into a discussion of arthurfonzarelli and there you go...

...every picture tells a story.

Donut.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Bob Costas Was Wrong!

Costas was wrong about one thing:

The forum he chose to discuss the things he was right about.

And before the heads pop off of every pro-gun guy in the nation let me explain two things:

I'm not talking about taking away your right to own a gun.

Costas wasn't talking about taking away people's rights to own a gun.

Unless the person doesn't have the mental capacity to own a gun.

Do you see the distinction?

Before you tell me that guns don't kill people and that spoons can't make you fat, listen for one minute, would you?

There are too many people dying in the moment when a person who legally bought a gun decides that the gun is his way out of his problem.

It is a fixable problem.

If we can talk about it.

Yet the anger over what Costas said is reason to believe that there will never be a discussion on it.

Never.

Since I think this is a decent forum to discuss the debate, let's go.

1). I would hope that all would agree that people being slaughtered on the streets is not a good thing. If you don't agree with that, please stop reading because you don't have respect for anyone's life. If you do agree, let's see if there is something to discuss.

2). We've already established that responsible gun-owners should be able to have all the guns they want, right? What types of guns should be accessible? How much ammunition should you be able to buy?

You say there should be no limit on anything?

All right. Let's pretend I go along with that. Do you think people who are unlimited in their abilities to purchase anything from a .22 to a rocket launcher should have to show differing degrees of competence?

I do.

3). Let's debunk a couple of things.

Comparing shooting down 12 in a church is different than having a car accident and claiming a life or two lives or three lives. I always get the 'should we ban cars speech'. It isn't the same. It's apples to oranges.

Also, breathe deep...no one said we are banning guns.

(Remember that - Costas didn't say that and neither am I).

Secondly, the old fork doesn't make you fat deal doesn't work either. In fact, it's a disservice to an honest discussion. Forks main purpose in life isn't to make people overweight. In fact, in most cases even if used irresponsibly they don't guarantee obesity. They don't guarantee the fact that you using it irresponsibly will kill seven innocent people sitting at the table next to you.

Guns when used with callous indifference often cause death.

Of innocent people.

Also, more guns won't solve the problem because very often we don't have a responsible gun owner there in the nick of time to save the day.

Would one guy with a gun have stopped the theater shooting? The guy was dressed for the end of days! He would have gunned down the gun savior.

4). So where are we in our discussion?

You want your guns. You have the right to own them. You want as many as you can get.

Fine.

I'll give you all of that.

Give me one thing.

Keep them out of the hands - legally - of those who shouldn't have them.

It is the responsibility of the guy who makes the gun to do so.

I realize that the illegal purchase of guns will always go down, but let's stop a little of the senselessness in the legal purchase realm, huh?

Can we do that little?

What is set right now isn't working.

That is what Costas was trying to say.

People who are not stable enough to have the rights that are treasured are partaking in ownership.

Legal ownership simply by filling out a form on the Internet or at WalMart.

(Spare me, please, the 'only criminals will have guns' argument that you are so fond of).

Case-by-case there was a moment when someone had a passing thought like:

"This freaking nut-job shouldn't have a gun."

And he still bought a gun anyway. In ten minutes. They gave him a free box of bullets!

5). How do we solve it?

From the outside looking in.

You can describe me as such:

I don't own a gun. I appreciate the rights of those who do. I have never been shot.

I have a simple request:

Don't shoot me. Or my loved ones.

Don't shoot some kid going to a movie.

Don't shoot a woman playing the organ at church.

Don't shoot the mother of someone's kid.

As the guy described above I believe that I have the right to raise questions because all of the above continues to happen on a bi-nightly basis.

If you are described as such:

Gun owner. You don't believe in gun laws. You don't want to talk about it with a commie-liberal.

What really is your point-of-view?

I won't bite your head off if you offer a workable solution.

That's all Costas was doing.

He wasn't stepping on your right to own a gun.

He was exercising his right to talk about what he considered to be a senseless act.

He wanted to know how it could be avoided in the future.

He may have stated it wrong because he was emotional about the loss of life.

But he was just wondering if gun-enthusiasts would join the discussion.

For that he wasn't wrong.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Queen!!!!!!!

As many of you know this blog is about my big mouth, the Yankees, Faith, Bruce, and family.

Not in that order.

(Well, big mouth might be first).

But today this is a fun blog to write because it's about one of the best people that you or I will ever meet.

My sister Corinne.

She's gonna' be pissed that Bruce appeared in the blog before she did, but she shares one thing with the man who's voice grates on her.

She gets it.

She understands what love is. She is generous of time and spirit, and she's always been a real pisser.

The one thing that stands out about my sister is embedded in my mind these days. Despite all that has happened to hurt her heart, the image that always comes to mind is a hearty laugh...

...that she shares with her little accomplice, my boy Sam.

Corinne and Sam need to be separated when we go out to dinner because they will explode in laughter that won't stop for a good hour.

(I have a sneaking suspicion that I may be the target of their shared laughter).

When we go to their house for a visit, we can't get Sam to leave.

Jake lives to try and make her laugh and Matt has quoted his Aunt on numerous occasions - (not always a good thing).

Person after person after person after person after person comes away from a brush with Corinne feeling good...

...as if they spent three and a half hours at a concert of their favorite performer.

(And which performer goes for 3 and a half hours, Corinne?).

Yes, it's Corinne's birthday today.

She deserves today as the Queen.

She deserves to be treated the same way the other 364 too.

Happy Birthday, Cort.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

House of Miracles - New England Book Festival


As a two-time winner at the New England Book Festival I was invited to participate this year as a presenter. I mulled it over, knowing that I'd have the chance to tell my story again, but I wasn't sure that I really wanted to change out of sweatpants.

Then something hit my heart. A young girl from my hometown received some tough medical news, and soon enough her Mom started posting heartbreaking updates online.

Syd and Leslie are certainly in a lot of people's prayers these days.

And it got me thinking about some of the great people I met when I was writing House of Miracles from Doctor Caty to Olivia Stockmeyer - the beautiful girl in the photo above - and I thought why not?

Let's enter House of Miracles in the festival.

I plan on telling those gathered about my brother. I plan on making them all laugh a little, but at the same time, I want to talk about the Women & Children's Hospital of Buffalo.

I have living proof of their work running around texting on his I-Phone, and at this time each year I think of how fortunate we were in one real important episode.

We were Counting on a Miracle, just as a lot of other parents do without the rest of us knowing.

My beautiful wife is a nurse now, and she dedicates herself in doing the job as many did it for us for little more than their take-home pay.

Good nurses and great doctors still need to have their stories told.

I need to still pay on my debt.

So back to Boston, I go.

With me, this time, I carry the stories of Olivia, Anthony, Trina, Barb, and Ellen...

...and Syd.

It'll be worth the trip.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Stop Wrapping!

Every single time I think about wrapping a gift for someone...which I rarely do...because it ends with me trying to rip tape off my elbows...I think of my dear mother.

You see, Mom wrapped a million presents, and I might not be kidding. There were so many gifts for all of us under the tree, every year, and now she wraps hundreds for the grand kids.

But you see, what really gets me about it was the present I saw under her tree one year. I may have mentioned it before. The tag read:

"To Jeter, Love Santa."

Jeter is not the shortstop for the Yankees in this case.

He's the dog!

Did he unwrap it?

Did he read it first?

Did he comprehend who the f&*k Santa was in the scheme of things?

Or did he figure it out and understand that Santa was actually Mom who isn't really his Mom but treats him as such?

Oh, I'm so confused.

Yet I thought of it this morning because I had my daily chat with the nice woman at the gas station as I grabbed my newspaper.

"My hands hurt from wrapping," she said.

"I didn't know you were a rapper," I answered (because I'm clever like that).

"I must have wrapped a hundred presents," she said as she waved me off.

"Why?" I asked. "It's so stupid! They rip the wrapping off in two seconds and leave it in a pile and then my OCD kicks in and I don't even see one gift because I have to immediately clean up and dispose of the strewn paper."

She looked at me as if I were crazy.

"Really, what's the most you're going to get out of it? 'I love this wrapping paper'? It's crazy!"

She caught that I was just doing my morning rant and she laughed. That was when I told her about the present that Santa wrapped for the dog.

"Now that's crazy!" she said.

Stop wrapping your gifts, people!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Murder-Suicide Thoughts?

Perhaps things would be better for all concerned if those who are contemplating murder-suicide would start with the suicide.

The coverage of the death of KC football player Jovan Belcher was aggravating at best. The talking heads didn't know how to treat the situation and I swear if I would've heard one more person tell me what a great guy he was I would've thrown something through the television.

He murdered the mother of his infant child because she was late coming home from a concert.

I don't care if he could tackle.

I don't care if he volunteered once to talk to a sick kid.

I don't want to hear from his high school coach who talked about how great a character Jovan had as a young man.

He took a gun and shot her multiple times with the kid, reportedly, nearby.

End of story.

Now we get to see his jersey hanging in the locker room?

Now we get to hear that his teammates wanted to wear his number on their sleeves to honor him?

Suddenly, now, it's all about football being bad for your head?

Perhaps repeated blows to the head does have something to do with this. If that's the case then perhaps the sport needs to be removed from the list of things that entertain us. After all, we stopped feeding combatants to lions when that started getting a bad rap.

Football is violent. One NFL player once told me that it was like running from the end of the driveway into the closed garage door, play after play after play.

But that's not an excuse.

Jovan murdered his girlfriend.

He was a murderer.

I don't care that he drove a Mercedes or that he was a three year starter. I don't care that he made 48 tackles this year.

He pulled off the tricky murder-suicide combo.

It's too bad he mixed up the order.

Didn't Win the Powerball?

Admit it.

There was a moment there after you threw down your money for the ticket where you let your mind wander.

Wasn't there?

My buddy and I tossed around a few ideas for spending that much dough.

I don't want for too much in this life.

I ain't into clothes despite the fact that all consider me a snappy dresser.

I don't wear one piece of jewelry and only own two if you count the wedding ring I've worn about three times.

I love food but I can make the best pasta dish you've ever had for less than $20.

I don't really want to travel anywhere as I'm not keen on leaving the country and I've already seen most of the United States.

Bruce keeps his concert ticket prices low and there'd be too much time and travel involved for getting seats to watch a sports team I like.

"We'd do a lot of golfing," Pops said.

"I still can't swing a club," I answered.

I thought about it for a moment.

"I'd get massaged every day between nap and dinner though," I texted back.

Pops didn't answer.

"The best part being that I'd give you a salary of ten million dollars a year to make my dinner."

He wanted the job. He'd be great at it too.

But alas, I didn't win and neither did Pops.

You know the best part?

All I'm missing out on now is the massage and the nap.

Ah well...

Sometimes it's for the best...

...think of that poor massage therapist.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Answer is WRONG!

I happened to wander by one of the hoodlums doing his homework the other night. I wandered by because Sam was on my computer and he was handling the difficult aspect of the assignment by slamming his hands down and yelling when he got the wrong answer.

"What's up?"

"I'm trying to do my math homework," he said.

Then it hit him.

"You think you're a genius, why don't you try one?"

"First off," I said. "I don't think I'm a genius, I am a genius. Secondly, I already passed third grade."

"I'm in 7th, genius," he said.

I sat down at the computer. The word problem was dealing with percentages and I tried to read it as he danced in a circle next to me talking about the Bills.

"Dude!"

"Shhhh," he said. "The genius is concentrating."

I hate word problems. I always think of the guy on the bus and three people getting off and what's the bus driver's name, but I broke it down simply. I typed an answer in the box, but left a zero off before hitting the button.

"No!!!" Sam yelled.

The screen flashed.

Sorry! The Answer is WRONG, flashed back at me.

"Well that's kind of rude," I said.

Sam laughed.

"You have to show your work, and you missed a zero. Maybe you're not a genius."

"Obviously we both know that is WRONG," I said. But the screen changed again and we were back at the word problem.

Easy enough. I'd add a zero.

But the clever bastards had changed the problem.

I had to start over.

For the next five minutes we showed our work together. Just the genius and the 7th grader (Really? When did that happen?) doing our work.

After a couple of tries we got an EXCELLENT!

"Still a genius," I said.

"Took you longer then it might've taken a genius," he answered.

Truth be told, the whole thing sort of annoyed me. We used to do our work with a number two pencil and a pad.

(And why if everyone uses that brand of pencil is it still #2?).

We weren't timed. We didn't have to submit our answers over a line. We got a ruler to the head when we were wrong and somehow that was better then seeing WRONG on a screen.

"We have more to do," Sam said.

"I don't," I answered. "I already passed third grade and Judge Judy is on."

"Genius!" he laughed. "The genius watches J.J."

"All genuises do," I said.

I hate word problems.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Enough!

How much more proof do we need that drunk-driving is bad?

The photo of the Dad on the cover of the Buffalo News and the story about how he is coping after the loss of his daughter should be ENOUGH to stop every single person who wants to drink and drive from drinking and driving.

But does it?

Uh, nope.

The next day. The very next day someone plows into a crossing guard in front of a school. We've had about 70 buildings hit by cars in the last two years.

WTF?

I realize that it is awfully short-sighted on my part believing that we can eliminate the problem all together, but man we can do better then set bail for the driver of the car in the fatal accident at just twenty grand, can't we?

Last year we had a doctor get away with murder when he high-price lawyered it up and lied his way out.

Now, confession time...

...when we were young the drunk-driving awareness had not yet taken hold. As teenagers we drove around before, after and while drinking beer. The times were different. It was still stupid, mind you, but back then police officers would pull you over, access the situation and send you on your way with a warning to go straight home.

A few of my buddies and I talk about it now...30 years down the line...wondering how we never got really caught.

I have not driven under the influence in a lot of years. It's not something to be overly proud of. It is something that we should all aspire to do, however.

Here are a couple of real life realizations for you:

1). You don't drive better drunk.

2). You don't have the right to kill someone else while you're out having a good time or sorting through a problem or addiction.

3). Your vehicle weighs a lot and when it hits someone skateboarding or humming along in their own lane of traffic, it's gonna do damage.

4). You ain't cool if you drink and drive and make it home safe...because you might not.

5). Next time you feel like doing it think of how angry you'd be if some other dirt-bag wiped out the person you loved most. You'd be all up against drunk-driving then, right?

It happens. Every single night it happens.

And that's ENOUGH.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Tell Me Why

A couple of weeks ago a couple of kids started a dog on fire here in Buffalo. Thankfully the dog survived.

This past weekend a couple of people decided to beat up a 96-year-old man during a robbery. The old guy is also hanging in there.

Can you explain why those things happened?

I get that there is a real disconnect between what should happen and what does happen. I do understand that there's just a meanness in this world, but seriously. Can you even imagine watching either of those things go down?

Can you tell me why a young woman who'd been busted for drunk driving a few years ago would get back behind the wheel, again, drunk as a skunk, cross a center line and plow into a mother and her child? Mom has survived so far. The baby did not.

Why, after all the time and effort put into it do we still have drunk drivers? Will it ever end?

Can you tell me why a couple of men in the Niagara Falls area would drive by a car and open fire?

The only person in the car was a toddler who took gun shots to the face.

What could that baby have done to become a victim of a drive-by shooting?

Can you tell me why every single story on the news seems to be more horrible then the one before?

In my job I get to meet all sorts of people. I was teaching a class a few weeks back when one of the men told me that he needed me to 'cover for him' for an hour as he had to go to court.

"I can't do that," I said.

"Well, I either attend all of the class or I go to jail," he said. "I don't want to go to jail because I have a baby at home. I need the class to be able to work. What can you do for me?"

The guy was sort of defiant. I decided to be the same.

"How is this my problem?" I asked.

"I made mistakes," he said. "I just need to start over. Can you help?"

I don't know what made me do it, but I asked.

"Why did you get arrested?" I asked.

"Selling," he said. "Second time."

"Can you help me?" he asked as I turned away.

"I will if you answer me a question," I said.

"Anything," he responded. He had jewelry stuck in holes he made all over his face.

"Can you tell me why you'd bring a kid in the world if you don't intend on being a man?"

He just stared at me. I'm sure he wanted to punch me, but he needed me, so he didn't.

"I'm trying to do better," he said. "Will you help?"

I stayed an extra hour to teach him the part of the lesson that he missed. I listened to him tell me time and again that he was starting all over, clean and sober.

Tell me why, after reading the news, I don't believe him.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tear Down Those Walls


Every time I drive into Buffalo along Route 5 I think of bringing a bunch of college friends that way on our way into the city.

"This place is a shit-hole," the ever eloquent Fluffy mentioned.

And I think of a few certain sections of Buffalo as that way for sure. The old steel plant buildings are certainly an eyesore and despite the fact that we may not ever set up a waterfront as wonderful as that of some other cities, we can certainly do better.

The old, tired, unused buildings that once gave the city life are now just sitting there...looking ugly and worn.

There is talk of tearing some of the old dogs down and there are groups standing up in opposition.

We need to preserve them as historical sites?

For what?

Exactly?

Yeah, yeah a lot of people built their lives while working inside the walls of the place.

It won't ever happen again.

Not when they can do it cheaper in some other country. Not when no one works there anymore.

My beautiful wife worked right there. Every single time we pass the place she says:

"That's where I used to work."

Please.

I'm begging you.

Tear the joint down.

Just so I don't have to hear that anymore.

The place is enough of a shit-hole as it is.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Filthy Money

The goofy kid from Two and a Half Men is causing quite a stir with his comments about the show, isn't he?

Jake, or Angus T. Jones, as he's known in real life has had an awakening of sorts and he went off the other day about how people should stop watching his show because it's pure filth and will cause problems in eternity.

He collects $350,000 a week for appearing on the filthy freaking show.

Damn, that's a hypocrite, right?

I'm just trying to get my definitions straight.

And it's not that I don't agree with him.

There were times when I thought the show was clever, hell, even funny. Since Charlie Sheen left its become downright stupid, and Angus has a point:

It's filthy.

Yet it's pretty hard to be lectured about morality from a 19 year old kid who actually became a millionaire off of the filth that was being presented.

Has he given any of the money back?

Donated it to his church?

And what will happen to him when the show does leave the air following this season?

Does he think that he is going to suddenly be asked to do only films that have God in the title?

I'm not quite sure what to make of any of it. We have slid all the way down the slope. All of the shows that are on are usually about sex and violence. We can't stop that train. It's done left the station. Check in on any of the shows that are new.

Two Broke Girls is a horribly filthy show.

How I Met Your Mother is filthy and dumb.

Hell, even the cartoons are filthy these days.

But Angus sort of made a decision that was typical of the character that he played on the show:

Dumb.

He just threw the money away.

And part of me is proud of his stand. He took one. He might even be right, but he's certainly fighting a losing battle.

We've already been drawn to the filth.

Little House on the Prairie and Andy Griffith are long gone.

And perhaps we have damaged our collective minds.

I guess eternity will figure it all out.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Natives Are Restless

Every three years here in Buffalo we start chanting for the people who run the Bills organization to start firing people.

Today on the job sites I gathered the following evidence.

We want the head coach gone.

We want the GM gone.

We want the quarterback gone.

Hell, we even want the owner real, real real gone.

And then I heard it.

"Sorry to say but we need the team to just leave," one guy said. "Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed and Bruce Smith were a long time ago. We can't keep up any which way and we can't afford them anymore."

Perhaps it was just sour grapes from a 13th consecutive season down the drain.

Maybe it's the fact that hope seems to be fading for a quick turn-around.

"This is our rebuilding century," another guy said. "Personally I've had enough."

The next shot came from the third guy sitting around the coffee truck:

"I paid my money for season tickets - they ain't cheap," he said. "I re-upped when they took one home game and gave it to Toronto. I re-upped even after the last few years when I couldn't give away the last two games of the year and I didn't want to sit in the cold and watch a losing team. I re-upped because they promised this year would be different. Now I'm gonna' eat the last three sets of tickets for this year - I'm done."

I didn't say a whole lot.

I thought of Sam in his Spiller uniform yesterday when the Bills were on offense. He may even have been switching to a different uniform when they were playing D.

I thought about how excited I'd been back 20 years ago.

But that was a long time ago.

What are the answers?

How do the Cubs fans do it decade after decade?

"Ah well," one guy said. "We might not ever see the playoffs again, but at least we live in a city where there is great leadership, plenty of jobs and perfect weather."

Everyone else laughed.

"We used to at least have the Sabres," another guy finally said. "It's all just so depressing."

I told you:

The natives are restless.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Finer Things

Always liked this song...listened to the lyrics really closely on Thanksgiving Day...Steve Winwood

The Finer Things

While there is time
Let's go out and feel everything
If you hold me
I will let you into my dream
For time is a river rolling into nowhere
We must live while we can
And we'll drink our cup of laughter

The finer things keep shining through
The way my soul gets lost in you
The finer things I feel in me
The golden dance life could be

Oh, I've been sad
And have walked bitter streets alone
And come morning
There's a good wind to blow me home
So time is a river rolling into nowhere
I will live while I can
I will have my ever after

The finer things keep shining through
The way my soul gets lost in you
The finer things I feel in me
The golden dance life could be

We go so fast, why don't we make it last
Life is glowing inside you and me
Please take my hand, here where I stand
Won't you come out and dance with me
Come see, with me, come see

And lovers try
'Til they get the best of the night
And come morning
They are tangled up in the light
So time be a river rolling into nowhere
They love while they can
And they think about the night so sweet

The finer things keep shining through
The way my soul gets lost in you
The finer things I feel in me
The golden dance life could be

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Mommy

Today is my Mommy's birthday.

(It's my buddy J.C's birthday as well, but when it comes down to it...he loses big to Mommy. Happy Birthday anyway, second-fiddle).

And I thought of Mom when I was finishing up the Bruce biography written by Peter Ames Carlin - a great read for Bruce fans - it ain't all money and sheer happiness.

Yet towards the end of the book there was an interview with Bruce's mom and she was talking about the impact that her son's success had on the family dynamic. The money changed it all for all of them for generations and generations and she was putting that change into the context of the sadness they'd suffered through the years.

"I look at him and I can't believe he's my son," she says.

That's how I feel about my Mom.

Her toughness is extraordinary.

She wants to cry every minute but she disguises the sadness with a hearty laugh.

Her work ethic exceeds her toughness.

"What're you doing?" I asked her over the summer.

"Landscaping," she said. "I've been out there all day."

"There was nothing that needed to be done," I answered, dismayed by the thought of her working so hard.

"I want to do it."

And it's funny because as adults we are all left to wonder who worked harder, Mom or Dad, and it's not really as close a call as some think.

Mom was always moving.

And I think of the love she shared, nurtured and demanded in return. She still has a collar from a dog that died back in the 1970's and I'm sure if you took it out and held it in front of her she'd cry...missing that dog from 35 years ago.

So, it's impossible to not incorporate it into your own life.

And I know we are all lucky for having grown in that love.

There are so many others who don't get the chance, or never feel the grace of such a love.

You see why you take such a huge back seat, John?

You see why I think a lot like Bruce's mom?

I can't believe she's my Mom.

You feel that way when you're surrounded by greatness.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

I Want, I Want, I Need, I Need

I am just amazed at the people lined up at every store. I'm even more amazed that now people are actually skipping their Thanksgiving Dinner to do it.

Perhaps it's just that I hate everything about the mall experience from the 'Can I help you?' the minute you walk in the door on to feeling nauseated while you stand in line behind someone who wants to talk to you about their putrid life just because you're standing behind them to the swiping of the credit card to throw something in your cart that you don't really want or need.

Do you know that most kids of a certain age are content to play with the box that the shit comes in?

And if you really held a gun to my head and asked me what I wanted for Christmas I couldn't mention a single thing.

And they do hold guns to each other's heads out there. Someone shot someone else over a parking spot in Florida.

Ah well, it was in Florida, who cares?

But, yes, my beautiful wife was out there. She even dragged a hoodlum with her each day. Jake went on Thursday night while Sam sat beside me as I worked my way through the thirty-one pounds of stuffing we ate. We watched football. He talked. I listened.

Mom did the stuffing...Corinne nailed the potatoes and everyone chipped in, but Jim did most of the heavy lifting. We laughed a bit, sulked some, and hung tight to the things that really mattered.

Right up until shopping time.

And since it really doesn't matter to me if I know anything about a subject before ripping it to shreds, I sort of wonder what the appeal is.

I would much rather spend an extra twenty, thirty or even forty dollars on something if I could do it without having to say excuse me to some rude son-of-a-bitch who wants to fight me for it.

But then again, I never put a lot of stock in the 'things'.

Of course, that's not to say I don't smile a little when I see how happy the kids are on Christmas morning and when I realize that my beautiful wife did a lot to make it happen.

But my job is to bitch, right?

So bitching I will do.

Hell, I might even write a Christmas song about it.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Orenthal Didn't Do It?????

For many years on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving I'd be out at a bar as long as I could...beer, shot, beer. Hell, there was even one college night that stretched into Thanksgiving Day.

My mother was pissed.

On the Wednesday this year there were rumblings about Happy Hour, but I worked until the end of the day and then made dinner for the hoodlums. Another buddy was on conference calls and one more guy took a nap instead.

So, a quiet evening.

I settled in for an hour of television with my beautiful wife and we watched the murder channel. Just one real-life murder mystery after another. We were treated to a serial killer - Glenn Rogers - who stuck better than 70 women.

What else is Thanksgiving Eve for?

Turns out, Glenn was living in California when Nicole Brown Simpson was murdered. He allegedly told his just-as-mental brother Clay that he was gonna' get her because she was rich.

Could it be?

Was Orenthal telling the truth?

What a kick in the ass that would be, huh?

And it still doesn't quite explain how there were a few gallons of Nicole's blood in OJ's Bronco, but could this guy have actually swung the knife?

The story goes that OJ was paying him for something or other and told him that she could die if that's what needed to happen.

That'd still be murder, right?

Ah well, OJ probably is sitting in a cell right now because he isn't the greatest of men.

But man, he could run.

Check it out if you get the chance though. The life the Rogers boys lived tells you the exact recipe for raising a murderer.

Extend the Netting!!

During the Wednesday afternoon Yankees game, Todd Frazier ripped a line drive into the crowd above the third base dugout. The ball, which ...