Monday, April 30, 2012

I Hate NetFlix

It started with the worst show I've ever seen - One Tree Hill - a bunch of 30 year old people pretending to be seniors in high school for about five seasons.

By the time they graduated they were middle-aged.

All the drama, all the angst, the I love you's - the you-love-him-and he's a jerk. Two men talking about their feelings.

Which never happens in real life.

If one of my buddies asked me if my heart was in the right place I'd vomit on his shoes.

I accidentally watched a couple of the shows because my beautiful wife found the show and had to watch 272 episodes in a row. When she announced that she was done, and that all moments of angst had found a happy end, I was so relieved.

We were going to get back to real life.

But no!!!

They found Friday Night Lights.

All of them. A few days ago I got home from work and found that Minka Kelly (an old girlfriend) was on every single television in my house.

"Do you think Brandon is going to be with Julie?" Jake asked Sam as we all passed in the hall.

(I may have not nailed the names because I DON'T CARE!!!!)

"Dude, turn in your man card," I told Jake. "For what just left your mouth you have lost all man privileges."

And did you know that there are five seasons of that show. What's that, like 100 episodes?

"It's so good," my lovely wife said.

"Is it better than weed-whacking? Is it more interesting than say, vacuuming?"

Thankfully, they have all had ample time to get through the entire freaking series without me shooting each and every one of them.

"All you watch is Judge Judy and baseball," my wife said.

"That's all you need," I answered.

Truthfully, the only way I watch every episode of Friday Night Lights is if Minka has a sudden change of heart and wants to rekindle what, to this point, has been a one-sided love affair.

I can't wait to see what the next can't miss show is.

Time for me to go.

Got the vacuuming done...

...does anyone know how to string the weed whacker?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Extra! Extra! Read All About it!

My buddies Eddie and Barb fed into my reading frenzy a little bit over the weekend by delivering me, get this, a bunch of old newspapers regarding North Collins heroes, the Yankees press clippings, and a few very interesting news stories from the late 80's and 90's.

As I've stated a lot of times in the last few years, I love reading the newspaper. Usually it is the very first thing on my mind, and I think it's a little unfortunate to think that the newspaper is going away as far as go-to-media is concerned. My sons have never taken the newspaper off the counter as I used to do. They have all their information on the I-pod, but thanks to Eddie and Barb for thinking of me. The old news in paper form is better than the new news on the computer, laptop, I-pad and I-phone.

Also had a few stray Saturday thoughts:

On our Saturday morning drive, to get the paper, we saw a squirrel in the neighbor's yard. The dogs were going absolutely nuts and I did them a favor, backing into my neighbor's driveway so they could get a close-up view. Across the street was my home, and it was weird to be in their driveway looking at my home. I was seeing it all from a different point-of-view.

It reminded me of the old Dylan line in Tangled Up and Blue.

We always did feel the same way we just saw it from a different point of view.

A lot of people really get wrapped up in certain things and the inability to see it from a different angle usually causes a lot of problems. It was different looking at my house from my neighbor's yard.

I saw that I needed to mow my lawn, so I did.

And while I was mowing the lawn I listened to the I-pod a bit. Again, a Bruce line caught my ear.

Every fool has a reason for feeling sorry for himself and turning his heart to stone.

I was thinking about the next chapter of the next story and this line got caught in my brain. It dawned on me that it is undeniably true.

Looking to feel sorry for yourself?

I'm sure there are plenty of reasons why you can do that if you feel so compelled.

I love that Bruce wrote the sentence the way he wrote it.

Every fool.

If you get to the point that your heart has become stone then you've probably gone too far.

Hence the labeling as a fool.

One of the old clippings the Eddie and Barb sent me was dated April of 1991. Twenty plus years ago. Life hadn't even really started for my family. There was so much living jammed into my days.

So today, I did myself a favor for the future.

I folded up a piece of the paper and stored it away with the idea of reading it twenty years from now, hopefully.

This fool wants to set it aside and see it on another day, from another point of view.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Somebody Better Help Me!

I heard a clip of a woman from Tampa who is the proud mother of 15 freaking kids. A social worker figured out that the kids were living in squalor and their own filth so the state of Florida intervened and put the entire family up at a hotel until they can find a new place for the poor family.

The woman doesn't work. The kids don't work. The baby freaking Daddy to ten of the kids doesn't want anything to do with his children. The other five kids all have different daddys. None of them stuck around either.

Can you blame them?

Any who-ha, this catch of a woman (evidently) was being interviewed on the news.

"This hotel ain't big enough," she whined. "We ain't heard nothing from nobody since they took us out of their house. We're waiting. Somebody better come up with something for us soon. Somebody better help me."

Doesn't that suck?

My stomach turned when she bitched about someone not taking care of her and her 15 kids. There's no doubt that people who get up and work every day get wildly aggravated when they hear a story like hers.

The guys on the Jay Thomas disected the call.

"They have to put a manhole cover over her crotch to stop her from having kids," one guy said.

"It's the Democrats fault," another side. "They are all about handouts."

"It's the Republicans fault," another said, "Because they don't believe in birth control or abortion."

Blame was being passed all around.

You know who didn't get any of the blame?

Yep, the fertile, demanding woman! She was sort of out of the mix.

But what do you do now?

15 kids.

Living in a hotel at $50 or $60 bucks a night until they can find them free housing.

Recently I inspected the grounds at a low income housing project in the Niagara Falls area.

"Five bucks a month is what we charge them for a two bedroom apartment," the HUD guy told me. "Most months the rent is late. One of our tenants burnt down her unit an hour after she moved in. She was letting the kids make their own lunch and evidently they didn't know a lot about how to work the oven."

What do we do for them?

Not sure, but somebody better do something fast.

We all owe that lady her existance.

Friday, April 27, 2012

World Peace Indeed

Do you know the story of the professional basketball player Ron Artest?

He's a multi-millionaire, of course. He's won a championship with the Lakers. He's a pretty good player, actually.

Seven years ago he was suspended for 73 games for punching fans, the other players, his own players, a coach and one of the guys selling hot dogs.

That was one of 14 total suspensions.

He's been to anger management, therapy, group therapy, family therapy and Tibet to get in touch with his inner soul.

He even changed his name, no kidding, to Metta World Peace.

And still, no one took him off and hauled him away for a nice long stretch in a rubber room.

When the Lakers won the championship he thanked his therapist.

Seriously.

And he looks absolutely ridiculous with World Peace on the back of his uniform.

Especially when he's throwing elbows that tear the heads off the guys running up court beside him.

Have you seen the film of it? If it happened on the street he'd be charged with a felony.

After the game World Peace explained that he didn't really mean it, calling it an incidental elbow. He apologized to the guy he concussed, but what would you expect from World Peace? He even apologized for wanting to fight the guy who wanted to fight him for throwing the elbow in the first place.

Poor Metta World Peace...his inner Ron Artest came out.

He was suspended for 7 games and a whole bunch of talking heads were wondering if it was too strict.

And all of this comes in the backdrop of the NHL playoffs where nightly brutal assaults are carried out on a every-three-minute basis. Do we really need grown men dropping their gloves and fighting? Do we need two-handed whacks across the melon or pile-drives into the board that can potentially paralyze another player? One of the best talents in the sport, Sidney Crosby, hasn't played much in the last two years because of concussions. Danny Briere, a fine man and a great talent from the Flyers has had about a half-dozen concussions. There are probably fifty examples of it.

It won't end until there's a death on the ice, mark my words.

All I am saying, is give peace a chance.

Ron Artest truly believes in it.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

What a Life!

My therapy sessions are getting longer. To be honest, despite traction, stretching, the freaking treadmill, rolling around on a ball, and a great group of dedicated professionals, I'm not getting much better.

More honesty...I'm better when I do all the work that the therapist sets in front of me and I've done it to the best of my ability, but there's always work and truly, I'm better when I rest.

Still, in between visits, I've blown it for some reason. And I've really blown it too, evidently.

As I've said, my therapist is brilliant.

"Let's figure this out," she said a week ago. "Keep a journal for me, of all your activities, when you wake up and how long you work. Tell me where your pain is and what the degree is like."

I worked a lot of hours last week. I traveled a thousand miles. I slept rough. I was tired, but I had to work. I was up at 2:30, 3:30 and quarter to four.

I honestly did do my exercises and stretches though. In the morning, noon and night, stopping along the way to bend at the car.

"Are you kidding me?" My therapist asked. "You can't work this much. You're gonna' be a statistic. You shouldn't do this healthy."

"I don't have a choice," I said. "I have a lot of responsibility."

So we got to work and limbering me up. All of the above stretches and exercises and moans and groans.

"I hope that's a groan of relief."

"Pain," I said.

"Do some more!"

After traction I stood up and all of the compression settled. I caught the eye of an elderly woman who was doing lifts to - I assume - stretch her shoulder.

She groaned.

I don't think it was a groan of relief.

I rubbed my eyes and tried to get back among the living. The traction makes my head ache a little. I smiled at the woman.

"What a life, huh?" she asked.

We both laughed.

"It's a real picnic," I said.

I finished up and headed out.

I still had work left to do.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Winter Storm Warning

The talk started on Friday. By Sunday everyone was in a real tizzy.

"16 inches of drifting and blowing snow," some people said.

As I stated a couple of months back I really wanted a snowstorm this year. Just one. A simple storm that would keep us all in the house for a day or so.

It didn't happen.

It didn't happen this week either.

Yet the strange thing about this storm is that all the dog poop is cleaned up and we've actually mowed the grass three times. The freaking temperature was 77 on Friday when people were speaking about the coming storm.

That's just weird.

And the strange weather just brings all sorts of questions to mind. A couple of nights ago a fireball raced through the Nevada skies and shook windows and shocked the crap out of thousands of citizens. One guy thought it was the end of the world. They felt and heard it in California as well, and the fireball was supposedly no bigger than a washing machine.

We are at the absolute mercy of whatever is coming down the pike, right? People fear global warming and/or glaciers. Hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis.

"Do like they do in Rome when it rains," my father used to say. "Let it rain."

I tried not to let it mess with my head on Monday. Instead I put my heavy coat on and headed out to start my day.

"It's been nuts here," my friendly neighborhood cashier said. "People are stocking up on bread, milk and water. You'd think the world was coming to an end."

In the back of my mind I thought of December 21, 2012.

That's supposed to be it, right?

Should I be stockpiling shit?

We only have about a half gallon of milk at home, and I'm nearly out of Apple Jacks.

"You know what they do in Rome when it snows?" I asked the cashier.

"No, what?" she asked, pulling in the hook, line and sinker.

"They let it snow."

"You're such an asshole," she said.

So, I've been called names a few days in a row now.

I think I'll try and extend that streak tomorrow.

It'll probably happen.

I'm more dependable than the weather.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Chucky Cheese!


Man, it was a terrific meal. As he was obligated to do my brother-in-law Charles took my son Sam out to dinner at the Outback to pay off his football bet from the 2011 season. I was Sam's plus one and my sister was Chuck's plus one.

We sort of ripped poor Charles up when it came to ordering what we'd have.

Price was no object.

What did I have, you ask?

Shrimp on the barbie. Very good.

Pecan salad. Excellent.

The porterhouse steak with a loaded bake potato. The steak was cooked perfectly. A little short on the sour cream for the potato but the bacon bits and chives helped.

Stupendous.

I also had a side lobster tail. Every bite of that was perfect. It could have been bigger.

I didn't want to fill up on bread so I only had a couple of pieces of the pumpernickel bread, but I give it high marks. It was warm enough to melt the butter.

"What is the most expensive dessert you have?" Sam asked the waiter.

Chuck didn't bat an eye.

The waiter recommended a bowl of ice cream with coconut shavings and strawberries.

It was a good recommendation. It settled my stomach from my 3,500 calorie meal.

Now, of course, I don't normally eat quite so much, but it was purely a special night. I would go through the menu choices of all others at the table, but suffice to say that little Sam was filled to the gills as well but he did finish his cheesecake with chocolate sauce.

As you will note in the photo, Chuck isn't overly thrilled. The score is rather lopsided in Sam's favor - two years to zip. There was talk of the upcoming year, and Sam promised his loving uncle more of the same.

"Next year I might go with the chicken wings as an appetizer," he told me on the way home, "they are twenty cents more expensive than the shrimp."

As I finished my meal yesterday, I thought of paying off my bets to my brother, Jeff....year after year after freaking year...and I knew that there was a smile up above.

Jeff would really enjoy the trash talk coming out of Sam's mouth...

...and he definitely would have ordered the porterhouse.

Monday, April 23, 2012

"What A Douche Bag You Are"

That was the title of a comment posted to my blog - it was an anonymous comment, of course, on the Trayvon Martin case. The guy who posted it said:

"You're a liberal and a coward, that's why you jumped all over the case because you just listen to the liberal media."

Funny. I'm the coward and the guy or gals post was anonymous. Just found that interesting.

Secondly, the liberal media?

Where did I get my information to write my Trayvon post?

I listened to the 911 Call. There was about 15 minutes of it. My stance on the deal comes from that call alone. I read everything. From Ted Nugent to Rush to Bill O'Reilly to Obama to Dubya and back and I sort of make up my mind from there.

It seemed painfully simple to me.

Zimmerman called 911. That's a fact.

He reported suspicious behavior. Fact.

The 911 operator told him to stay in the car, help was on the way. He didn't. Fact.

Martin died. Fact.

He had candy and iced tea and was unarmed. Fact.

Was there a fight? Did Zimmerman fear for his life? Did he pull the trigger?

Assumptions may be made about all of those things, but there is one simple fact.

Had Zimmerman stayed in his car and waited for the police Martin would be alive.

Fact.

Liberal, conservative, douche bag or card-carrying, gun-wielding maniac...that fact would not have changed had the man listened.

Could the 911 call have been tampered with? There certainly is evidence of that when Zimmerman is describing the individual he is stalking, but the 911 operator very clearly asks if he is following the man and says, very clearly:

"We don't need you to do that."

So how can it be spun to show that I'm a douche bag?

Did I shoot Martin?

Did I punch Zimmerman?

Is it my stance on less murders that is aggravating? Because I truly can't root for more murders.

Did I say we should not be able to defend ourselves?

Because we should always have the right to bear arms...if the British are coming.

Yet I really wish I didn't have to read, in the liberal media, about 16,000 murders a year - American citizen on American citizen.

Put a positive spin on that one for me.

I will change my opinion if you truly believe that we should have more murders.

And to be perfectly honest, I don't really give two craps about someone criticizing something that is my opinion. I heard the call. I made up my own mind. You obviously heard the call from another point-of-view, one that did not take into consideration the dead kid on the ground.

Zimmerman was arrested. So there are others who saw it my way. I guess we'll see how it plays out, but it's not really a game of right and wrong. Trayvon Martin is dead.

And he wouldn't be if Zimmerman had stayed in the car.

But that's just my opinion.

And we all know I'm a douche bag.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

For Someone Else

Started Saturday morning with a bowl of Apple Jacks and reading the story about the man who beat his ten-year-old stepson to death with a club.

The story was continued on page A-4 and instead of turning to the thrilling conclusion, I moved on.

Garbage in, garbage out. Negative, horrific, mind-numbing sadness.

I didn't want it.

Re-read the story chronicled in my last blog about Bruce giving back. Thought about people who've written to me, thanking them for writing something.

Inspired to do something good today...

...for someone else.

Maybe for my wife who's worked hard all week.

Maybe for my kids...who deserve my grace and not a wooden club across the skull.

I folded the paper and took the dogs for their ride.

Man, they appreciated the gesture. We talked birds and squirrels and bacon-flavored rawhide.

Live is better lived from the vantage point of doing something for someone else, but it isn't always easy to do when we get wrapped up in our own little battles.

You think of the scandals.

The secret service agents, the greedy bankers, the self-serving lobbyists, the maniacal terrorists, the drunk drivers, the drug dealers.

All having one thing in common:

Doing shit for themselves and not giving two shits about anyone else.

And it occurs to me that we don't have to be overly brilliant as we pass through this life.

We don't need to write the perfect sentence or play the perfect note, or visit fans in a wheelchair.

We don't have to do much more than do something for someone else.

Somewhere along the way.

Once a day.

Sounds simple, but it isn't.

Man, if we could!

What a far more rewarding life it would be.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Why He's the Boss

This is a blog post by a man who had been injured in an accident...Scott Fedor. He speaks of his experience at the recent Springsteen show in Cleveland.

So Cool.


“I’ve seen the future of rock ‘n roll, and its name is Bruce Springsteen.” – Jon Landau

Cleveland Rocks! It sure lived up to this billing on Tuesday night when Springsteen was in town! My friends and I (Kevin, Mike and Damian) headed downtown to The Q to catch the show. This would be my fifth time seeing him, however, Damian would be taking in his 28th concert (not too bad for a priest)! Beforehand, Lindsey joined us for some dinner and drinks at Market Garden Brewery. The last time I saw Springsteen perform was with Lindsey in 2003. She was hoping I would’ve been able to see him with her in 2009, but unfortunately I was still laying in a hospital bed fighting for my life. So in a way, I expected Tuesday night to be somewhat bittersweet – finally able to see Bruce again, but this time in a wheelchair and on a different journey I never would have imagined all those years ago.

Anybody who has known me throughout my life, has always known what a huge fan I am of The Boss. I have always found a tapestry of messages in Bruce’s music and the characters through which he tells that story. But since my accident, I have listened to him more than ever to motivate myself to keep working hard. He’s helped me appreciate how music can reach our soul and move us to do things we didn’t think possible. I often speak and write about how this injury is teaching me how to live a different way. However, I refuse to let it strip away my belief that I will one day move my body again. We all have the chance in life to do something great. I plan to walk again. And I am sure when that day comes, I’ll be listening to one of Bruce’s songs!

Monday evening, less than 24 hours before the show, I sent an e-mail to the PR firm that handles Bruce Springsteen’s publicity. I tried to convey what Springsteen’s music has meant to me throughout my life, especially these past few years. I even referred to a line from his song, “Trapped” which goes, “I know some day I’ll walk out of here again.” In my message, with all the innocence of a child, I asked if Bruce could dedicate a song to me. I even made sure to include the section where I would be sitting.

We arrived early to the arena and immediately could feel the electricity in the air. Damian I both said to each other that we were in for an incredible evening of music. Springsteen is known for how passionate and how long his concerts are, which usually eclipse the 3 hour mark, unheard of for most performers today. In fact, Springsteen’s longest concert ever was in Cleveland on New Year’s Eve when he and the E. Street Band rocked out for 5 hours and 15 min. Bruce and the city have always had a special bond and Tuesday night was no exception. The band treated the sold out venue to another awe-inspiring 3 hour performance!

Early into the evening show I already knew I was witnessing the best Springsteen performance I had ever seen. But it was something he said into the microphone before starting one of his final songs that will forever make the night the most memorable show for me. After performing “The Rising” (which is itself a prophetic song for me) the band started into the opening chords of their new song “We Are Alive”. Bruce leaned into the microphone and uttered four words I won’t soon forget – “for my friend, Scott.” For a second I thought I just might jump out of my chair! Mike and Damian immediately turned to me, with huge smiles, and screamed “dude, that was you!” As excited as I was, it was a surreal moment I was somewhat reluctant to accept. I kept thinking to myself if that was really for me. But then again, how many Scotts were in the audience The Boss felt the need to dedicate a song to? After all, this isn’t something he typically does. I would get my answer soon enough.

A few moments after the show ended and the house lights came on, a member of the Event Staff arrived at our seats and asked if I was Scott Fedor. Once he was convinced, he had us follow him out of the arena and into the hallway where he led us into a large service elevator. I looked at Damian and whispered, “Could this really be happening?” to which he softly replied, “I just keep praying to the Holy Spirit.” Seconds later the large metal doors clanged open and the back side of the stage was a few yards in front of us. We were then led over to an area and asked to wait.

As we watched roadies and crew members scrambling around and tearing down the massive stage, a woman introduced herself to me as Bruce Springsteen’s manager. She informed me that my e-mail had been forwarded to her and in a few minutes Bruce would be heading over to meet me! [This is the part of the journal where an expletive would normally be inserted].

Shortly thereafter, Max Weinberg (the drummer) was standing in front of me talking to us about the show, Cleveland and what it’s like to play with Bruce. It was another surreal moment, as we all nonchalantly conversed with each other. He spent about 15 min. talking with us, snapped a few pictures, and then casually left on his way. And then a minute later, Bruce Springsteen came walking over, looking every bit the legendary rock star he is, while at the same time munching on a jumbo soft pretzel.

This was a moment that was 28 years in the making, ever since I heard my first Springsteen song! There would be no handshakes, though. Instead, he walked right up to me and placed his hand around my neck and kissed the side of my head. “God bless,” were the first words one of the greatest rockers of all time said to me. And at that very moment there was not a doubt in my mind of how blessed by God I really was. I was alive, having survived an injury the doctors told my family I most likely would not. And not only was I alive, I was at a Bruce Springsteen concert, which once seemed impossible several months earlier. And not only was I at a Bruce Springsteen concert, I was now talking to the man himself!

Springsteen had an incredible presence about him – one of the greatest and loudest rock icons in the world, and at the same time an extremely gentle and caring man who was genuinely interested in what I had to say. We talked about how great the show was, even Springsteen himself commenting on what a powerful performance it was. That evening he played “Racing in the Street” a song that has a very emotional and spiritual meaning for me. I was thrilled to have been able to hear it live an hour earlier and was now beyond words to be able to talk about it with Springsteen. “That was it tonight,” he said with a proud and glowing look. It was easy to see how pumped he was about the show, and how emotional the song was for him as well.

He posed with us for a few pictures, commenting on the medallion of Mary I was wearing around my neck (the same one he often sports as well). “Ah, a Catholic boy,” he smiled. “We gotta stick together,” I said. I handed him one of my awareness bracelets which he quickly put on his wrist before I could finish explaining what they were for (you can see him wearing it in the photo below). After another picture, it was time for him to board their plane back to New Jersey. He leaned in and gave me another kiss. “God bless you,” he said one more time before leaving. Two kisses, a song dedication and an unbelievable performance… Not a bad evening! I am forever grateful to all the people that helped make Tuesday evening possible!


On a less eventful note, I was able to get back to the gym on Monday as well as today and resume my workouts. As much as my neck has still been giving me problems, I am managing, and plan to work out tomorrow as well. After all, “I plan to one day walk out of here.”

Thank you to all for your continued prayers and support, especially those who were praying I would get the chance to meet Bruce. God certainly answered my prayers, as he always does, even if we may not realize it.

Stand Strong!

Scott

Friday, April 20, 2012

TGIFF

It used to be that I'd really look forward to Friday evening.

I'm not talking the get home, go out to dinner, then going clubbing deals. I'm talking hitting happy hour, a pork chop in every bottle type of drinkfest with friends from work, friends from college, friends from high school, friends who weren't even really friends.

Those days are long gone.

"You watching Grey's Anatomy?" I asked my beautiful wife.

"It's only Wednesday," she said.

I actually groaned.

The hours are the same. They didn't add any friggin hours to the week so how come the weeks seem so much longer right now?

"What're we doing this weekend?" I asked.

"Nothing."

"Perfect."

I actually couldn't imagine stopping for a drink these days.

A rum and coke?

The coke would keep me awake all night.

A few beers?

Bloated and even more tired.

I wandered around the house after my Grey's Anatomy question. There was something to do at every turn. The freaking lawn, the damn laundry, weed whack, garbage out...clean the storage room.

And as I wander around this morning a lot of people, in the same boat, will say the same thing when I say good morning.

"At least it's Friday," they will say.

At least it's Friday!

Why did it take a month to get here this week?

And yes, I know, there's an extra F in the title.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cat Scratch Moron

What's up with Ted Nugent?

Have you ever really listened to him?

What a tough guy.

As Howard Stern noted today he talks about being a warrior but when he had the chance to fight for the country he wimped out.

"Shit his pants," he told Howard.

Anyway, he made news this week...not with a song...he's only written one worth a listen, but with his mouth.

He spoke of crimes against him and railed against changes in gun laws...

...that he is imagining.

The administration has not made one change.

Every Tom, Dick and Manson can still get their hands on a gun and roll down to the store, mall, church, or former place of business and wipe out as many people as they can.

The speech was awful.

YouTube it. Listen to it. No matter what side of the aisle you fall on, you'll admit that he's a dopey bastard.

And to be fair when that nut threw the shoe at Bush I was apalled.

Respect the office of the President. It's still our country.

Yet when he heard that the secret service wanted to talk to him he amped it up a bit.

"The secret service works for me," he said. "I teach them to do raids."

So, let me get it straight:

The guy who skipped a real war and wages war against every animal that he can kill with a big weapon is really the guy who trains the secret service?

Did he get Bin Laden too?

I'd tell him to shut-up and sing but he couldn't sell out my bathroom.

And there's only one seat.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Second Ten Commandments

Poached from our Company Journal.

I liked it...Thanks, Sharkey!

1. Thou shall not worry, for worry is the most unproductive of all human activities.

2. Thou shall not be fearful, for most of the things we fear never come to pass.

3. Thou shall not cross bridges before you come to them, for not one yet has succeed in accomplishing this.

4. Thou shall face each problem as it comes. You can handle one at a time anyway.

5. Thou shall not take problems to bed with you, for they make very poor bedfellows.

6. Thou shall not borrow other people's problems. They can better care for them than you can.

7. Thou shall not try to relive yesterday for good or ill, it is forever gone.

8. Thou shall be a good listener, for only when you listen do you hear ideas different from your own. It is hard to learn something new when you are talking, and some people do know more than you do.

9. Thou shall not become "bogged down" by frustration, for 90% of it is rooted in self-pity and will only interfere with positive action.

10. Thou shall count they blessing, never overlook the small ones, for a lot of small blessings add up to a big one.



Easier said than done in keeping these commandments, huh?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I'll Take Your Sorrow

So for the second time in three years I attended a Springsteen concert alone in Albany. For those of you who read Oh Brother! The Life & Times of Jeff Fazzolari you know how important that first concert was for me.

It actually may have really saved me.

So when the tickets when on sale I bought one. I scheduled work in the area as it is a part of the state that I have to see anyway. In fact, I went to Massachusetts early on Tuesday morning after getting in late on Monday from the show.

Anyway...I had different expectations this time. I'd just been to the show, on Friday in Buffalo, so I knew what to expect. (Of course Bruce played a dozen different songs).

I just wanted it to wash over me. I wanted to see what Bruce could say about the grief, then and now. I felt different this time.

"We're here to talk to you tonight about the things we lose, and to celebrate the things no one can ever take away from us!" Bruce yelled.

I was seated beside a 15-year-old girl who did not clap, smile, or make a sound all night, but she studied Bruce and the band as if she were writing a research paper on rock stars.

On my other side was a middle-aged man who was seated beside -get this -his younger brother. His brother could hear (he was writing down the name of each song) but he couldn't talk. He passed notes to his older brother about the show. In fact, he passed one to me:

"Will he play Seeds?" he asked.

"He didn't play it in Buffalo," I said.

I never got an explanation about the two brothers, but they had a wonderful time.

I spent some time watching the frenzied crowd.


And then it happened.

Bruce went into the crowd and he came out with a sign.

"I'll try it," he said, and then we watched for a moment as he tuned an acoustic guitar.

"I think I got it. Gotta' do it by myself. This is for Molly in memory of her Mom."

Before he even strummed the first note, I knew what the song was. It's a song that is very rarely ever played in concert and was not even released on a record.

"Janey don't you lose heart," I said to those around me.

You got your book baby with all your fears
Let me honey and I'll catch your tears
I'll take your sorrow if you want me to
Come tomorrow that's what I'll do
Listen to me

Janey don't you lose heart
Janey don't you lose heart
Janey don't you lose heart.


I came in looking for something and there it was. A rare song. One that the two brothers at the show loved. One that a family from North Collins also loves.

Moments later Bruce told us:

"If you're here and we're here than they're here!"

"How did you know what song it was going to be?" the speaking brother asked me. "Did he play it in Buffalo?"

"No," I said. "He hasn't played it in years."

I left the guy hanging.

How could I explain it?

I can't.

Wide Awake

People need between six and eight hours of sleep a night to be productive human beings.

Yet there are plenty of people who claim that they don't need to sleep quite that much. People sort of wear it as a badge of honor as if they sleep less we'll think more of them.

Do you ever hear someone say?

"I only need three or four hours of sleep a night."

Couple of things:

1). If you're sleeping so little how come you're still a freaking mess

and

2). You're lying.

I wish I slept better at night, but I don't say that I get less than three or four hours a night. I'm definitely in the six to eight range. It's just that my sleep turns fitful at times. Like once a month or so. A buddy of mine likes to let me know that I'm on a cycle of sorts.

He isn't being nice.

But don't get me wrong: I love sleep. My sole goal of being rich and famous would be to get a nap every day. Keep the money, keep the fame...just let me close the office from 1 to 3 as my grandfather used to do.

Yet I do get up early. On weekdays I'm usually up and around by five or so. I love that time of the day to catch up on my reading and to get a plan of sorts for the day. On the weekends I might sleep in...until 6:30 or so. It's been a long, long time since I slept past seven.

I have no use for an alarm clock and couldn't even tell you what mine sounds like.

I know where that sleep pattern comes from, however, because my father was always up and out of bed as if he were shot from a cannon. When he was about the age I am now, he'd be at the kitchen table at four, playing cards, and thinking, plotting and planning all of our lives. He'd write us letters from the heart, start dinner, and think.

Always thinking.

I've really had to learn not to show impatience in regard to my kid's sleeping patterns. I know that on the weekends they are up late...in fact just a couple of weeks ago Matt was heading off to bed as I was getting up. A few weeks ago, after some time on the road I said that I was going to bed early and headed up the stairs as the hockey game got underway.

"You aren't watching the game?" Sam asked.

"So tired," I responded.

"Well," he said. "Maybe if they go into overtime you'll be up in time to see the end."

I woke up at 2:30 that night.

They say that as you age you don't need quite as much sleep. I still disagree.

Come on, fame and fortune!

I want to close the office.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Prostitutes For Everyone!

So the secret service has a secret. They headed off to a foreign land to make sure all was right for the president, and they hooked themselves up with a few prostitutes where such a thing is not illegal.

Allegedly.

Lets sort it out, huh?

First off, Obama has to feel like an ass. He's heading into a convention and he has to answer questions about such garbage. But I'm sure I would have blamed Bush for such a thing so, the buck stops here, right?

Secondly, prostitution is legal there!

I remember a trip to Florida a long time ago. It was a Monday night and my companion and I were heading into town to start a two-week vacation. We had a couple of beers over a lobster dinner and then we went looking for some action. Driving around Fort Meyers we didn't see much going on at all.

"Beer sign! Beer sign!" Jeff yelled.

I pulled into the parking lot and we opened the door to the bar. On our first step in we were greeted with a naked young girl sliding down a stripper's pole to the floor.

I turned to Jeff with my mouth open in shock.

"This will work, huh?" he asked.

We spent the entire evening there and to my never-ending disgrace Jeff was all over me about the fact that I struck up a conversation with the girl we'd seen as we walked through the door. She joined us at the bar, with her clothes on, after her shift was over, and I asked her about her motivations to become a stripper.

Within an hour I had her questioning everything from her relationship with her father to what her plans were for the next thirty years. I kept talking to her about self-worth and such.

Disgusted with me, Jeff walked away, and over the course of the next week or so, he tried hard to make me feel like an ass for "ruining a perfectly good stripper".

In retrospect I probably was in way over my head, but that sort of thing has always sort of fascinated me. My buddies and I used to stop in now and again, a lifetime ago, and I certainly did have my share of laughs, but there is a dark element there, isn't there?

Of course, there have been a few instances where sex has gotten men and women in trouble throughout the ages and I'm pretty sure it's gone back to Adam and Eve or Adam and Steve, as some of the gay pride people like to say.

But the secret service involved?

Aren't they supposed to be above such a thing?

In the end, I suppose the trouble begins when we start believing that anyone is above temptation. Self-worth takes a beating when you're 'living in your own skin and can't stand the company'.

The media is going to have a field day with this.

No doubt.

I wonder whatever happened to that stripper. She'd be about 45 now.

I'd like to think that she has a white picket fence, a couple of kids, an Irish Setter, a nice job, and a happy heart. She was a beautiful girl.

Something tells me it didn't work out that way.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Weekend Update

The News from this part of the world:

1)-Just finished reading about the actress - Alicia Silverstone who allegedly chews her children's food for them and spits it into their mouths.

What's the problem?

Kathy would still do that for my maniacs if she could. The mother instinct is crazy to me!

2)-My ears are still ringing from Friday night. My back aches - but it really ached going in - and I'm still tired.

How does a 62-year old man do it?

3)-I see that Charles Manson was denied parole. I really thought he was going to be set free this time. There are people who still shout that he never killed anyone, but a crazy man. He should be denied parole just by how he looks.

4)-Sad to hear about one of the Gibbs Brothers dying. I think that everyone has a few Bee Gee songs on their I-pod. I didn't even do it in secret. When I sing along though I have a rough time with the high parts.

Even with my lovely voice.

5)-Glad they finally arrested Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin death. Still can't understand why they wouldn't have charged him right then. If he's innocent he can be proven innocent. There was a death by gunshot that night and he fired the gun. Why the angst?

Hope the murder there leads to questions into murders everywhere. I know I've read about at least four or five other multiple deaths at the hands of others in the past week, but they sort of bounce right off you, right?

6)-So is it just Mitten left in the Republican race? I saw that Santorum dropped out, and Newt doesn't have enough delegates to win a race for dog catcher, but he's staying in, right? There's a chance that Mitten might not get the nod? I don't understand the process other than knowing that the conventions cost a billion dollars or so.

Why don't both parties give up the parties and donate the money to the middle class?

7)-Baseball season in full swing. Boy I missed it. It really doesn't matter who's playing who either. I'm set until November.

8)-I don't care who you are, the Three Stooges movie looks entertaining. I watched the old show a lot as a kid and the endless pushing, punching and every single numb skull would be worth the ten bucks. But men like it more than women, right?

Because that is how we sort of treat one another anyway.

Tired or not, I might shoot for that one with the boys real soon.

That's all from here.

Go back to what you were doing.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

In Fathomable

I was ready. I told my buddy John that he was in for an amazing show.

We laughed a little about how I undersold it.

I'm just gonna' say it. Bruce Springsteen is the greatest entertainer...ever.

I think it was about halfway through Darkness on the Edge of Town when I leaned into my sister and said:

"He's better than the freaking Beatles."

And it's not as close as the score might indicate either.

18,000 people stood for the better part of three hours and they laughed, grieved and sang. Mostly they just shook their heads in amazement.


And Bruce has been a central figure in my life in a world far away, but there are so many moments when he seems to touch the entire family. Last night, Carrie got him back for us!

She laid a single finger on his back as he strolled by. She dove across the seats to do it and the people all around us thought she was out of her freaking mind. She was, is, as we all were. She touched him for me, John, Jim, Corinne, Jeff, Mom, Dad and every single one of our kids. Just the tip of her finger grazed the leather vest.

A Human Touch.

Of course, I know all of the music. I could even almost guess the set list, but it still struck me as powerful. The E Street Band is sure that it is their responsibility to make the collective world feel better.

"He sings every note as if his life depends upon it," John said.

But it might be more than that.

"It's as if OUR lives depend upon it."


It's been that way, for me, for a long time. I do love the Beatles and the Stones and a hundred other bands, but I don't feel as if I know any of them.

Bruce makes us all feel that he's a friend.

62 years old. 3 hours. 26 songs. He ran, jumped, slid, bent over backwards...literally...and sang every word as if his life depended on it.

Incredible.

Unbelievable.

Uplifting.

Beautiful.

The best ever.

At one point he was about 6 feet away, singing, gesturing and laughing.

"Thank you," I yelled out.

I don't think he heard me.

But he just has to know, right?

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Good Night

Tonight, for the 28th time, I will wait for the lights to fade to black, watch Bruce follow the rest of the E Street Band up the stairs, and be blown away for more than three hours.

It's been a long time coming. Since November 22, 2009 to be precise.

And I'm pretty fired up as you may have guessed because this morning I remembered.

I remembered:

Seeing the first Springsteen show of my life at the Aud in Buffalo. I was with my brother John, my buddy Tom and the girl I went to my high school senior prom with. Tom wasn't a big Springsteen fan. At the short intermission he went out into the lobby and bought three concert shirts. Lord knows how many times he's seen the Boss since.

But I remember one other show Tom went to with me. It was in Long Island right around the time Bruce's marriage was breaking up. Bruce played from about 7:45 to 12:40. He was on the stage doing cartwheels. My college buddy, Rosie, told me to stop clapping because maybe he'd leave.

There was the concert on the lawn in Mountain View, California. My brother Jim had talked me into buying tickets from a scalper. I don't remember what we paid, but I remember how much fun we had, and how Bruce played until well after one because he took the stage after Neil Young, Tom Petty, Robin Williams, Glenn Frey and his band mate Nils.

There were the concerts in Washington, D.C. With a group of college buddies I saw Bruce on back-to-back nights. He played and played and played. We drank a lot of beer in those two days.

And then life shifted. My beautiful wife loved Bruce because of the influence of her brother and because I loved him. In fact I wasn't sure if she loved Bruce because I loved him, or because she did.

I don't mistake that now. She doesn't love him because I do. She loves him because she just does.

We saw him together for the first time just after we found out that Jake was on the way. During one of his talks during the show Bruce told me that life doesn't really begin until you feel the love you have for a child. He told me this three days after Kathy broke the news. It wasn't new news, but it felt like he wrote the speech to tell me it'd be just fine.

And from there it was on...we couldn't get seats that were good enough, although we certainly tried. There was the show at Darien Lake where eight of us danced in the spot reserved for two. There was the show in Rochester where we were a mere hundred feet away. The show in Cleveland where Kathy "forgot" half the tickets.

(I had nothing to do with that mistake - as I've told her - everything that goes wrong is her fault).

This morning as I thought about all of the past shows I thought of my brother Jeff and how fired up he'd be tonight. As Bruce is going to say tonight about Clarence and Danny, two of his lost mates:

"If you're here and we're here then they are here."

And they will be.

In fact, there will be so many people there tonight even though they aren't.

My college buddies, Pops, my prom date, my high school friends...my Mom and Dad. My sister Corinne (who is not a fan), my boys...everyone.

Tonight we are even bringing a newbie to the show. JC will be buying three shirts on the way out.

Because through 28 years and 28 concerts I have been the same man at each show.

I'm still the guy who believes the promise.

I still have the faith, hope and belief that someday I'll be

pulling out of here to win.

Arkansas!

I have a new college football team. The Arkansas Razorbacks.

Yep, a middle-aged dude from Buffalo has chosen the Razorbacks for one simple reason:

They did the right thing.

Despite the fact that they will suffer a bot of backlash by their rabid fan base.

Even though it's going to cost them a lot of money.

Given the idea that they will go from somewhere around 11 wins to something like 5.

They did what they should do.

They fired Bobby Petrino.

And they didn't fire him because he stepped out with a 25-year old blonde who wasn't his wife. Petrino isn't the first guy to ever do that, and someone else is probaly doing it right now.

They didn't fire him because he rolled his motorcycle with said woman on the back, sans helmet, and then lied about the fact that she wasn't there.

Nope, they fired him for something really cool.

Because Petrino didn't represent the image that the school wanted to portray.

Are you listening Penn State?

How about you Syracuse?

They took a quick look at it and said:

"You know what? We are in the business of educating kids. We have a responsibility as an institution of higher learning. We don't need Bobby. There's the freaking door."

So now I'm going to root for Arkansas!

What am I supposed to be saying?

Pig sooey, or some shit.

Razorbacks!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

I Can't Believe I'm on Twitter and Time On My Hands

And I like Twitter.

I like following comedians and hot actresses best of all, I suppose, but there's also a news element to it as well.

When the shit hits the fan, there are normally a million people out there offering their opinions.

Believe it or not, I haven't tweeted a whole hell of a lot, despite the ever-present need to voice my opinion, which is always dead-on, by the way.

Yet this morning, as I checked the feed, I couldn't help but wonder what my brothers might think of Twitter. I'm sure as I'm sitting here that Jim and John are not participating. Jeff would have been active, but he most likely would have been immediately dismissed as a member.

Twitter is also good for videos of the Bruce tour. Good and bad, I should say because as I gear up to see the mighty E Street Band on Friday night I must admit that I've peeked at some of the footage.

I don't think I'll be disappointed.

Yet during these past few days off - I'm seeing if rest helps the back - and guess what? It's easier to move around if you don't have to work!

But anyway, during these past few days off I've had plenty of time for a lot of things.

Like watching baseball with Sam. We are currently contemplating buying the MLB package so we have access to every single major league game...we have one stumbling block in that regard, and she's often referred to as my beautiful wife in this blog.

Yet if Sam really wants it, she'll get it for him.

But having time on my hands has been good for most things.

"You know what bothers me about you?" Sam asked as we watched the Yankees.

"What's that?"

"First, that you always think that you're right about everything."

"I am."

"Second, that you make fun of the Bills and Sabres."

"They suck."

"Third, that you sing to the dogs."

"Melkinator, melkinator, melkinator, Melk," I sang loud and proud.

"And fourth, that you tell stories about being great at everything."

"Like when I was in the NBA playing under the name of Jerry West, or when I was a medic in Viet Nam?"

"Both!"

So, here we sit. There was a big Earthquake in Indonesia.

Time to hit Twitter.

I wonder what Jessica Alba thinks of it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Shut Your Mouth!!!

Entertained by Ozzie Guillen, the new manager for the Marlins for saying that he was sort of a fan of a man who oppressed millions of Cubans for generations upon generations and was allegedly responsible for many deaths.

I don't know much, but I do know that every once in awhile your mouth can get you in trouble. I also know that you really shouldn't voice any sort of affection for Castro or Hitler or Bin Laden or Hussein.

The phone rang at our house the other night. Sam was watching the Yankees and didn't feel like talking to one of his friends.

Kid: Is Sam there?

Me: No, I got rid of him.

Kid: You got rid of him?

Me: Yeah (long pause) don't tell anyone.

The kid gasped and hung up.

Perhaps I should have kept my mouth shut. I actually waited for the cops to knock on my door.

An hour later I'm watching Friday Night Lights with Sam. Minka Kelly comes across the screen.

Me: I dated her. I dropped her to marry your mother.

Sam: What are you, nuts?

Kathy: (overhearing the exchange) Do you really believe that Minka Kelly would go out with that?

Perhaps I should have shut my mouth. You know you aren't winning in life when you're referred to as that.

Many, many instances of wishing I hadn't said what I just said.

The worst?

I was at a safety seminar where a woman was teaching about fire safety. She told an impassioned tale of being there when her grandfather had been caught in a fire.

Horrible, horrible story.

Twenty minutes later she was demonstrating fire safety with a screen that simulated a fire. As she held an extinguisher the fire on the screen raged out of control.

"What question would you ask yourself in this situation?" she asked the crowd of 60 people in front of her.

There was a single voice from the back of the room.

"Where's grandpa?" the voice asked.

The crowd groaned. The presenter dropped her microphone.

I felt an awful lot like Ozzie Guillen must feel right now.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Shot At Greatness

Did you see that shot that Bubba Watson hit at the Masters Golf Tourney this weekend?

Watching golf on television can be tedious for the uninitiated. I like to catch it but my beautiful wife will walk in the room and say the same thing every time, with her nose crinkled.

"Are you watching this?"

A few years ago I was watching sudden death and she changed the channel as the putt was en route to the hole. I screamed and when she changed it back they were hugging the winner.

Yet Watson's shot brings a lot of things to mind. I've played a lot of golf and my biggest problem - and a lot of golfers biggest problem - is handling adversity.

Hook one into the woods...let's look for it...and try to hit it out...before long you're flinging your club across the fairway and breaking out the mother of all curse words.

There's an old adage in golf that an errant tee-shot provides an opportunity for greatness.

As I'm apt to do, I apply it to life a bit.

"Every swing and miss brings me closer to my next home run," Babe Ruth once famously said.

Wouldn't it be nice if we all thought that way every time?

Have you ever failed and then compounded it by failing again?

One dumb decision after another.

On the golf course its real easy to make that mistake. See those two trees in front of you? Can you hit the ball straight between them?

"Punch it out," one of the Grape Apes will advise.

"I got this," I'll answer.

"Remember when you hit that tree?" The funny Ape will say moments later.

"I can still do this."

Whack, clank, "$%&*"!

Bubba could have punched it out Sunday. He probably would have lost. I bet he was nervous. He reached for greatness...and got it.

Every so often I'll screw up in life. Perhaps a bad decision in a crucial spot. Every once in awhile I'll play a bit above my head...

...and the putt will be rolling straight to the hole...

...and my wife will change the channel.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Great Pastime - Baseball Preview 2012

I watched opening day for the Yankees on Friday and after a long layoff from entertaining sports I was treated to a couple of long home runs, bases loaded 4 times, a squeeze bunt, a gun from left field to catch a runner at second, a blown save, some stolen bases, and a couple of close calls.

Great game.

Not the one I was watching, just the sport in general.

They couldn't even ruin it with steroids, for those of us who love it.

Anywho-ha...the season preview:

National League East:

The Phillies will still win it despite the fact that they can't hit a lick. 3 good starting pitchers gets it done in the pansy league. One thing for sure: the Mets won't win.

NL Central:

I like the Cardinals again. They could implode and lose it to Ryan Fraud and the Brewers or the Reds, but I think they'll hang on. One thing for sure: the Cubs won't win.

NL West:

Can you say Donnie Baseball? I think the Dodgers shock this division. The Padres are the crap team in this bunch.

NL Wild Cards:

Let's say San Francisco (I have a dog named Melky Cabrera and she'd be pissed if I didn't vote for the Giants), and the Reds.

NL Pennant Winner:

San Francisco Giants (Melky is watching me type this).

AL East:

Come on, now...the 27-time World Champion Yankees. Jeter and Rivera and Andy looking for number 6. One thing for sure: The Orioles suck again. Sorry Baltimorons.

AL Central:

If the Tigers lose this after spending a billion dollars this winter it'll be a miracle. Everyone else in the division blows.

AL West:

Texas Rangers. They are becoming a lot like the Buffalo Bills. Good all year...choke in the end. Worst team all year: The Oakland A's...make another movie about the little train that couldn't.

AL Wild Cards:

Angels and Rays. The Rays can pitch and their goofy manager is actually brilliant. The Angels spent a billion dollars too. That usually helps.

AL Pennant Winner:

The 27-Time World Champion Yankees, but it won't be easy.

World Series:

Sorry Melky...

Yankees in 5.

Clip it out and save it. I always get quite close on these predictions but that's because I'm lucky.

One thing is sure:

I have something to do nearly every night from now until November.

Thank God I don't have to watch toothless Canadians stand in front of the net and block shots with mattresses on for pads.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

God's World Turning

Happy Easter to you all...the baseball preview will have to come tomorrow...feeling a lot Christian today.

There's been a phrase turning over and over in my tired mind - God's world turning...live while you can...live while you can. Almost sounds like a Van Morrison or John Mellencamp song...maybe it is...but it's a nice phrase to think of on Easter weekend.

A friend of mine was telling me yesterday that he was off of work because his brother-in-law: His 'best friend in the world,' dropped dead at his house the other night.

"He fell down my stairs and by the time he hit the last step he was basically dead. Great guy," my buddy said, his voice cracking.

Unfortunately I am well-versed in bringing up pain in such a setting. I now know what to say in such a setting because some great friends said it to me.

God's world turning...live while you can...live while you can...

"He lost his wife to cancer ten years ago," my buddy said. "He lost a lot of enthusiasm for things after that, but I didn't get a chance to say goodbye."

"You loved him all his life," I said. "That's better than getting to say goodbye."

My buddy lowered his head to look at his shoes.

"It's coming for all of us," he said. "I lost my Dad, he lost his Dad, my kids are going to lose me. Maybe we all get to meet again."

God's world turning...live while you can...live while you can...

"We'll all get there someday," I said. "Just don't know what the 'there' is there."

"I hope my brother-in-law is there already," he said. "At least his pain is over."

I shook my buddy's hand and wished him a peaceful holiday. Silently I prayed that he had a chance to really grasp what the holiday is all about.

And it has nothing to do with rabbits and eggs.

God's world turning...live while you can...live while you can...

God's world turning...live while you can...live while you can...

I hope that phrase gets stuck in your head too.

Happy Easter.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Starting Point

Spent some time thinking about a guy claiming to be an atheist. Actually one of the guys from Penn and Teller is an atheist and it sort of brought the subject to mind. Kathy also claims to know a guy who paints himself as atheistic so the wheels started turning.

I always want to ask the atheists about the starting point.

"We were spun out of dust," they might say.

"The universe was created by a big bang."

Yet where did the dust come from?

Who set the big bang in motion?

A person who claims to be agnostic is actually someone who is a bit more in the know in my book. Being agnostic is sort of like admitting that you have no freaking idea. You don't dismiss the notion of God out of hand, but you don't buy all in either.

What gets me about the people who are atheist and practice it as an art form is that where does the hope come from?

If this is it, this is shit.

And not having any thoughts of an afterlife sort of sets you up to doing whatever the hell you want to do now, doesn't it?

Why be nice?

Who do you talk to when the mere humans don't help clear the mind?

And most of all...where did the dust come from?

Of course, none of us really have all that much insight into any of it. Tom Cruise doesn't really know. Tim Tebow isn't really sure. I certainly as hell can't grasp it all at once.

Yet doesn't holding tight to some sort of promise bring meaning into your life?

The nuns told me it would happen, but I always feel better when I say a quick prayer, here or there, in praise, in thanks or in need. I seriously wonder what the atheists do when the shit hits the fan.

Then, as luck might have it, I was up in the middle of the night again and was caught watching another bad Law & Order episode. The all-knowing, all-seeing, brilliant detectives were wrapping up another case.

(A little aside here: Don't you love when three of the detectives are talking and they exclaim what a difficult job it is going to be to identify a red Toyota, one of 40 million in the NYC area, that just happened to have four Firestone tires that another detective...usually Ice-T or Munch strolls by and exclaims: "We found it! It's a block and a half from here!")

Anyway in this Law & Order there was an interview with a convicted killer who was awaiting the death penalty. Of course, just before meeting the needle he was preaching about finding the love of God.

"Now you found God after shooting all those people?" one of the brilliant detectives asked.

"What else do I have?" the guy responded.

And sometimes I feel like answering it that way for the atheists. Like Munch or Ice-T I'll hit them with the brilliant questions:

1). What started it?

and

2). What else do you have?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Number 28

I'm thinking that there's a blog from last year that has the same title. The Yanks didn't win it all last year.

Sunday will be my baseball preview blog....here's a little insight into picking my winner...

This will be the Yankees year.

Let me explain why:

1). I want them to.

2). They still have Jeter, Rivera and now Andy is back.

3). Cano is one of the top five best players in the game.

4). CC eats more cereal than me and he's still considered a professional athlete.

5). If they win it means the Red Sux didn't.

6). I really want them to.

7). The more times they win the more I can aggravate the non-believers around me.

8). Granderson is a good player and a hell of a nice guy.

9). Jeter has been so oppressed in this life that he really needs a break to go his way.

10). Thurman Munson.

11). I really, really want them to.

12). I can torture Bills and Sabres fans who ended another year title-less.

13). Because everyone loves A-Rod and wants to see him do well.

14). Because maybe it'll help Nick Swisher break out of his shell.

15). Because I really, really, really want them to.

16). Because a few of my buddies are Mets fans and I can remind them of their stupidity.

17). Because if they do well my fantasy team will do well because by the end of the year I end up with about 8 Yankees on the team.

18). Because it will be a shot in the arm to New York City...they never get any of the tax brakes downstate.

19). Because it makes Christmas shopping easier for my beautiful wife.

and

finally


20). Because of the wonderful memories it brings of family friends, life, love, happiness and togetherness from my grandfather to my father to my brothers and sisters and...

...my only kid with any sense.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Falling From Grace

Can you imagine how proud Ryan Leaf's family was when he signed that $15 million dollar contract to play quarterback for the San Diego Chargers in 1998?

Think of it...15 mil!...your problems are over.

Yesterday Leaf was arrested for the 2nd time in 4 days for breaking into people's houses to steal painkillers. He actually wormed his way in and dug through the medicine cabinets - allegedly - to steal the pills.

He's dead freaking broke.

His career was a bust.

Antoine Walker of the Celtics earned $112 million during his basketball career. He filed for bankruptcy and had to lace up the sneaks again to pay his creditors. He also sold his NBA Championship ring.

How do you fall so far?

Is there anyone out there reading this that thinks they'd have a better go of it with that much cabbage?

And then today I spent a lot of time listening to a debate about Cheetah Woods. The one talk show host was saying that Cheetah shouldn't be judged for his marital problems, or the problems with his family, or his lackluster response to his fans.

"He has to focus on golf," the sports guy said. "It doesn't matter if he's a nice guy."

But doesn't it matter a little?

Yes, we hold sports stars to a high standard, but doesn't some of the responsibility of acting like a human being come with that huge paycheck? Don't people look up to them?

They say that Cheetah has a bunch of family members...half brothers and half sisters...who don't hear from their famous brother.

"That's his choice! He doesn't have to take care of them!" the sports guy screamed.

Yet what goes around comes around, right? Kharma?

I shook my head in pity reading about Ryan Leaf. He's still a human, after all. There are articles being written about him now that talk about what a mess he'd always been. Every single one of those articles is probably true.

"We like to build them up so we can tear them down," Rick Reily of ESPN said. "And currently I'm enjoying taking Woods apart."

It's real rough when the wrong guy gets the $15 million dollar payday, or the close to the billion dollars that Cheetah made.

Would you be able to handle such riches?

Would you burn through it and end up bankrupt?

Would it solve all of your problems?

Falling from grace is a real sad story...never really getting to grace, somewhere in your life, is even worse. No amount of money pushes you across the grace line.

You either have it or you don't.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Was That Me?

A weird day.

Getting my paper this morning I ran smack dab into two women discussing my book, Nobody's Home. they loved the story, it should be a movie, how much money did you make, you should go on Oprah...all of it.

What got me about it is that as I told them about writing the story I got a strange vibe as if I were talking about someone else being the author of it. I loved the compliments, of course, and appreciate everyone who mentions the books to me, but I felt like an intruder in the conversation.

"Did I really write that?" I asked myself as I got back to my car.

And to top if off, I was heading to Erie and the place where I spent my college days. Good old Gannon University. That sign has been added since I graduated. In fact, the place has changed a lot.

But not enough to chase the weirdness.

The old dorm. The library steps, Rosie...the TKE house.

I walked all around campus. The walk seemed shorter. I passed the parking meters that we used to jump over, for fun. I wouldn't make it halfway up that meter these days.

Past the old house where I lived with Fluff and George and ten others, and the gals old house, past Antler's. It isn't Antler's anymore. Past the church and the dining hall.

I saw a lot of old faces along my walk. I passed a few of the photos on to Miller and Rosie. We traded texts.

Has it really been 26 years?

Was I really the guy who walked those streets in an alcoholic haze?

What about all of the old dreams?

Did I really think it would go that freaking fast?

I thought of Matt, away at school now...time probably moving slow...wishing he was home for the summer...wishing he was done and graduated...in a hurry.

We were all in such a hurry.

But today I walked slowly. I didn't have a choice, and truth be told, my heart hurt a little as I walked around. It wasn't regret that made me hurt, but rather a realization that the young faces passing me had no idea...how fast it all slips away.

I stopped in the cafeteria. I recalled seeing Miller there the first day. He gave me the finger. He'd probably give me the finger today too had he been there.

A young girl...and I'm talking really young...was at the register. She asked me if I wanted to eat, but I told her I was just looking around.

"I graduated in '86," I said. "At least I think that was me."

She looked confused.

"The theatre used to be next door, and Russell Hall...what happened to Russell Hall?"

"I don't know," she said. "I wasn't even born in 1986."

There wasn't a lot to say to that. I thanked her for the look around, and then I got in my car and drove away.

I thought of leaving Gannon at the end of '86. I was so full of piss and vinegar and Jack Daniels.

I'd write ten books! I'd get married to a beautiful wife and I'd have great kids of my own! I'd do all the things for them that my parents did for me! I'd teach them how to jump high enough to clear the parking meters, and how to live life and have fun! I'd teach them to be Yankee fans and to love Bruce!

I wrote the books.

Check on the wife and kids.

I provide for them the best I can.

They can teach me how to jump again.

The sadness drifted away as I drove away.

They don't all love the Yankees or Bruce.

I still have work left to do.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

On A Quest

I took Spanish for three years in high school and then two years in college. The funny thing about it is that I can't speak a freaking word of the language. I do know the numbers though.

Well, actually, I know a few words. Hello-goodbye, things of that sort. I wouldn't say I'm conversational in it though.

Yet part of the reason why I can count so well is because in high school we'd play Spanish Bingo for cookies. Our teacher, Mrs. DeMeo would call out the numbers in Spanish, of course, and I'd write down the first four numbers she called and then yell Bingo! She'd ask me to read them back, and with the FREE space and her undying trust she'd declare me the winner.

I'd eat the cookie and we'd start again.

BINGO!

Another cookie.

I think I had about seven cookies before she caught on.

And the tragic part of the story is that it's the last freaking time I won at BINGO.

Lately we have been going to BINGO with my Mom. We usually have sauce before or after and then spend a couple of hours playing. Chuck won, Corinne won, my Mom won twice.

Me and Sam and my beautiful wife have been goose-egged!

And it's getting on my nerves.

First off because it usually costs me a hundred bucks to get in the door. Sam needs pizza, cookies, pop...we play the damn pull tickets, and then we buy a bunch of boards.

And I looooooooooooosssssssssseeeeeeeeee!

A couple of weeks ago I needed one number. I waited three numbers. The prize was about $600. Some old bat yelled BINGO on the 3rd number called.

I'm telling you, I wanted to flip the table.

Also, BINGO is rough because you can't let your mind wander far when you're playing. Yesterday I thought of something I'd like to include in the new book. A couple of minutes later I was three or four numbers behind and some old bitty was screaming BINGO!

Finally, I'm not sure I like the man I turn into during BINGO. As I lost game after freaking game yesterday I got progressively more frustrated.

By the time the woman at the table directly behind me yelled BINGO! I was in full rage mode.

"BITCH!!!" I called out.

But I'm going to keep going until they ask me not to show up anymore.

Now it's not just a game.

It's personal.

It's a freaking quest to shout out BINGO one time.

Even if I have to cheat again.

Monday, April 2, 2012

A is for Apple...J is for Jacks

So I was texting a buddy of mine and he said something disgusting.

"I almost threw up my Apple Jacks," I said.

That set him off. He wanted to know why a man of 47 years of age was still eating Apple Jacks. In fact, he thought it was the funniest thing ever and just kept harping on it.

Am I not supposed to be eating Apple Jacks anymore? Should I be eating Grape Nuts or Fiber One? Granola?

Now I do realize that it isn't the best of choices for breakfast, but I went so long not eating breakfast that I sort of compromised. When I don't eat anything when first waking up I eat lunch as if there's a gun to my head.

Hence the Apple Jacks.

When we were kids we'd eat an entire box of cereal every morning. Cap'n Crunch, Count Chocula, Franken Berry, Lucky Charms.

I remember distinctly that John's favorite was Honeycomb. I was partial to Franken Berry.

The one thing that's crazy about it is the price. My box of Apple Jacks was $4.29 Does it cost that much to make? Am I paying for all of those commericals?

Truth be told I did try the other kinds of cereals, you know, the one's that are good for me, but they sort of turned me off from eating breakfast.

Let me hear from you...am I too old to be eating Apple Jacks?

I saw a box of Quisp the other day...is that better?

Cocoa Pebbles?

Fruit Loops?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Pick Up the Rock, Son

Sam hates when I bring a song up on my I-pod, turn the television down and make him listen. I do it all the time with the Stones just because I know he needs to hear them.

He sort of likes the sound of Jagger's voice and knows him from that brutal, Moves Like Jagger song.

The other day it was Bruce of course. A little Shackled and Drawn.

Bruce was nice enough to sing the line, Pick up the rock, son, and carry it on.

Indeed.

And just singing that line, along with Bruce, to my son, I got the full meaning. I not only thought of Sam picking up the rock from me, but also of me carrying the rock for my Dad.

Trudging thru the dark in a world gone wrong

That's my other favorite line in the song.

"Turn it off, please!" Sam crowed. "It's awful!"

But it's not awful. Not even a little.

I suppose that there isn't much more that we can do in life then to try and build a legacy of sorts. We spend so much time trying to move the rock from one location to another that its easy to forget that we will eventually leave the rock in a spot where it will either be carried on or left to settle.

When it's all said and done how we handled the rock along the way will define us to a certain extent.

My sister is off to see Bruce tonight in Washington. I've seen the set-lists so far. She's going to have a blast. I am pretty sure that Shackled and Drawn will be one of the first half dozen songs played.

One favor, Carrot...when he utters the line about the rock just think of how far we've pushed it up the hill through the generations.

And think about those behind us...all the wise-ass little Fuzzy's...getting ready to pick it up, and throw it forward.

When Shackled and Drawn was done, Sam sat back and looked at me.

"Ready for a little Stones?" I asked.

"God no!" he yelled.

But he sat there right beside me as I sang him Tumbling Dice.

"That's just awful," he said.

No it's not.

Fun While It Lasted

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