Thursday, May 31, 2012

Happy Anniversary to My Beautiful Wife!

The song I listened to on my wedding day...a bunch of times...take a guess who sings it.

We brought love, faith and hope into the real world. '

Five more Years!


The Real World

Mr. Trouble come walkin' this way
Year gone by feels like one long day but I'm alive
And I'm feelin' all right
Well I run that hard road outta heartbreak city
Built a roadside carnival out of hurt and self-pity, it was all wrong
Well now I'm moving on
Ain't no church bells ringing
Ain't no flags unfurled
It's just me and you and the love we're bringing

Into the real world
Into the real world

I built a shrine in my heart, isn't pretty to see
Made out of fool's gold memory and tears cried
Now I'm headin' over the rise
I'm searchin' for one clear moment of love and truth
I still got a little faith but what I need is some proof tonight
I'm lookin' for it in your eyes

Ain't no church bells ringing
Ain't no flags unfurled
Just me and you and the faith we're bringing into the real world
Into the real world

Well tonight I just wanna shout
I feel my soul waist deep and sinking into this black river of doubt
I just wanna rise and walk along the riverside
And when the morning comes baby I don't wanna hide
I'll stand right at your side with my arms open wide

(killer guitar solo here)

Well tonight I just wanna shout
I feel my soul waist deep and sinking into this black river of doubt
I just wanna rise and walk along the riverside
'Til the morning comes
I'll stand right by your side

I wanna find some answers I wanna ask for some help
I'm tired of running scared baby let's get our bags packed
We'll take it here to hell and heaven and back
And if love is hopeless, hopeless at best
Come on put on your party dress, it's ours tonight
And we're goin' with the tumblin' dice

Ain't no church bells ringing
Ain't no flags unfurled
It's just me and you and the hope we're bringing into the real world
Well into the real world
Oh into the real world

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Tribute

Isn’t There Anything for a 21-Year Old to Do?

I sat alone in the soft, warm comfort of my basement office. Just beside the hot water tank, in a comfortable chair, I stared at the green screen of the word processor. The hard concrete walls were echoing the statement that I held in my heart. I was the only twenty-one year old man doing anything even slightly important on a Friday night.

The bars were filled with girl-chasing, beer-drinking men, but I was more important than them because I was poised to become the world’s next great writer. I fashioned myself as a combination of Steinbeck and Twain. I had precious little to show for a comparison of this sort, but my work would flow smoothly if I allowed myself such a fantasy.
This night was different, however because in the middle of my daydreaming I was finding it difficult to ignore the nagging discomfort of my heart. I wanted a beer. I wanted to taste the smoothness and to quiet the voice in my head. Most of all, I wanted to let go of my fears and ask out the sweet, young cashier who worked around the corner, and dominated my thoughts lately.

Writers, I am told, are allowed to bless their character’s face with a past and a future. I had already done this for the girl behind the cash register. I considered her for a long moment; a pretty, happy girl with the face of an angel. Yet I didn’t even know her name. Steinbeck or Twain wouldn’t have been quite so shy.

There was just one thing for me to do tonight. I needed to start acting like a ‘normal’ 21-year old man. I needed to march into the store, get her name, her number and possibly a date for the night. If I was intent on spoiling a night of writing by thinking of her it made sense that she was with me.

I pulled myself away from the computer that held the pages of my latest masterpiece. I didn’t really have a plan; I’d make it up when I was standing in front of her. The short trip to the store was filled with a sort of excited worry of actually speaking with this beauty who had no idea nor seemed to care that I was the world’s next great writer. The muscles in my stomach tightened, and I seriously doubted that I’d have the nerve to see my plan through. The cloud of worry lifted as I walked through the automatic doors. She was standing right before me, and she was smiling as brightly as day. The store was about to close and the last of the beer-toting men were making their way through her checkout line. I was definitely out of place, but the smile had fortified my will.

I scrambled to find something to buy, turning to look back over my shoulder at the still-smiling girl that I’d left in my wake. I wasn’t really sure, but it seemed as if she had actually winked at me. I floated down the soft drink aisle telling myself that this was the moment and that tonight could surely be the night. I would take her to a movie, or just sit and talk with her for hours.

Anything could happen if she were beside me.

I grabbed a Pepsi because it was the least objectionable of all offerings and because it made me look casual. ‘Just got thirsty as I wrote,’ I imagined myself saying as I glided smoothly back to her checkout line. She was studying what she was doing, running through the purchases of the heavyset woman in front of me. I couldn’t take my eyes off her cute little fingers as she turned the packages over and let them slide down the belt. Even Twain or Steinbeck would have been taken with how she moved.

It was hard to get on top of the nervousness building deep inside. She didn’t have the resounding beauty of a character in a book, and not ever single head turned in her direction, but she had that smile. It was a deep, piercing smile that seemed to wink at me every time I looked up.

“May I help you?” she asked with the smile still intact.

I turned the Pepsi over in my sweaty palm. I extended it towards her without saying a single word. I was standing before her, and I was flat-out blowing it! I felt like a 12-year-old afraid to ask his best girl to roller skate.

“Just the Pepsi?” she asked.

“I could be talked into asking you to go to a movie with me,” I said.

I wasn’t sure Steinbeck would’ve approved of such a line, but saying it surprised me.

“I don’t know,” she said. Her smile was no longer there.

I felt as if I were standing on a small stool with the noose tight around my neck.

“I’m kind of tired from working all day,” she said. Her skin had changed colors, and it occurred to me that she was as nervous as I was. Her cute face had turned bright pink.

“I did that wrong,” I said. “I’m Cliff. I usually don’t ask out cashiers at the grocery store, but to be honest, I’ve been bored, and real attracted to you for awhile now.”

I was standing out on the limb, waiting for what seemed like an eternity, but truthfully she answered almost instantly.

“I’ve noticed you too,” she said.

Twain couldn’t have written it any better. Right there, in the nearly empty store, Davine and I struck up our very first meaningful conversation, and all I kept thinking was that we both had been waiting for that very moment. She talked of college and getting out of the supermarket business. I told her of my dream to write something that someone might want to read some day.

“I work about 50 hours a week,” she said. “School is expensive.”

“I’ll pay for the movie,” I said.

“I know you will,” she said, and then almost as if she were afraid to insult me she added, “Not that I’d expect you to.”

“I understand,” I said, fully believing that she needed a way out of the question.

“When would you like to go?” She asked. “It’ll be fun to go out. I have to work early tomorrow, but you could call me tonight if you’d like and we’ll talk about it.”

“I’ll definitely call,” I said.

The smile was back on her face. At least I’d have the memory of that smile tonight as I wrote. I turned and headed for the door. It didn’t even feel as if I were walking.

“Ah, Cliff,” she called out.

“Yes?”

“You never paid for the Pepsi,” she said.
***

A half an hour later I was back in front of the computer, but I hadn’t been inspired to write. Instead, I thought of Davine. I stared at the telephone number she’d scribbled on the back of the cashier tape. Time didn’t pass quickly. In fact it flowed as slowly as the words to my masterpiece manuscript. I considered her smiling face, glancing, every once in awhile at the black telephone. Despite the fact that only sixty lousy minutes had passed, I grabbed the receiver off the hook and plunged into the call like a swimmer into the bright blue pool. I didn’t even try to calm my nerves or consider that perhaps she was just being polite back at the store. The phone was answered on the very first ring.

“Is Davine there?”

“Hang on a minute,” the male voice answered.

What could I say? I considered hanging up. I actually should have known better. Davine’s smile came through in her voice. Each word glittered with a brilliant freshness of life that I had only imagined up to that point in time. Davine was like one of the characters that Steinbeck or Twain developed in their imaginations. She was the character that had eluded me for years. I held tightly to each word, allowing them to resonate in my ear. The very definition of eternal optimism was becoming clear to me… a guy who was turning into a perpetual downer.

I wished that the conversation could have lasted as long as one of her smiles seemed to last, but the pressures of her work day finally took over and Davine asked if we could continue the conversation about our dreams when we went out to catch that movie, next Saturday evening.

The rest of that night I didn’t write much, but I worked on a love story in my mind.
***

Often we miss the very passing of time. Unfortunately that wasn’t what happened during the week of August 12th. As I anticipated the date set for the next weekend, time crawled. Perhaps Twain or Steinbeck could tie up the rest of the story for you in a neat little package, but I doubt they’d do my feelings true justice.

***

The wind offered a calming night breeze to a day that had been painfully hot. Thinking back on it it’s difficult to distinguish my mood from the start of the day to how I felt at 11 p.m. on Friday night. We were less than 24 hours away from our date, but I hadn’t spoken with Davine in a couple of days. My quiet night was shattered by the ringing telephone and while I considered it might be Davine calling to say ‘hello’, I was instead greeted by the voice of my younger sister, Carrie Lynn.

“Hey, Mark Twain, I need a ride home,” she said.

“Steinbeck,” I said. “John Steinbeck.”

“More like Mark Steinbeck,” Carrie said with a laugh. “A writer no one ever heard of.”

On the way up Shirley Road I considered the fact that my brothers had all gone out on the town. Jim had rode me hard about being a dud, saying that sitting home pining for Davine was a little stupid considering that she was probably out on the town herself.

“You’re young,” Jim said. “You’re too young to be acting like an old man on a Friday night.”

I shifted through a police road block at the crossing for Jennings Road. I never even glanced in the direction of the vehicles off the side of the road. My mind was elsewhere. It wasn’t my concern.

“What happened on Jennings Road?” my sister asked as she settled into the car.

“How the hell do I know?” I asked.

I took a different route home. Who needed the hassle of the road block?

I enjoyed having someone home with me. We ordered a pizza and I opened up my first beer of the day. I grabbed the telephone, extracted the crumbled paper from my wallet and dialed Davine’s number.

The telephone went unanswered.

No sooner had I hung up the phone when my brother Jim returned from his night on the town. I was prepared for him to tease me about my boring life.

“Pizza and beer,” I said. “You want one?”

Jim looked a little sick. He sat in a chair at the kitchen table. He took the beer from me without uttering a sound.

“I saw a car in the ditch off Jennings Road,” I said. “I’m surprised it wasn’t you.”

Jim pulled the beer in front of him. He made a grand gesture of turning the cap.

“You know who was in the accident?” he asked.

“I just said I thought it was you,” I answered.

“It was Davine,” Jim said. “She didn’t make it. I don’t know why it happened.”

“That’s NOT FUNNY!” I yelled. “JIM! IT ISN’T FUNNY!”

“I know it’s not,” Jim said, bowing his head.

I fell into the chair across from my brother. He didn’t raise his eyes to me. He never even looked at the beer.

“I saw Johnny up there,” Jim said, speaking of my good friend. “He told me she died instantly.”

I never heard Jim leave the room. Carrie Lynn was talking about how she knew Davine’s sister, but I hardly heard her either. There was no way that my siblings had any idea what was happening inside me. No matter which way I turned I didn’t see anything. I just kept hearing Jim’s words over and over and over and over:

“I don’t know why it happened.”

***

For what it’s worth, as I read the story some 26 years later, I still don’t have an answer for Jim. No matter how many words I’ve written since that night, and Davine’s death was certainly an inspiration for my book, Eye in the Sky, I never truly found an answer to the questions in my mind.

That night I remember dismissing the thought of prayer. What sort of God could rip such a live, vibrant girl from the chance to live out her days? Davine spoke of the future with unbridled enthusiasm. Neither of us realized as we spoke on the phone that she only had six days left. Dismissing God at that moment was natural, but probably not very wise.
I remember chugging down more than one beer that night. Davine’s wonderful, smiling face entered my mind and took up residence for a long while. I recall visiting her gravesite in the early morning hours after a night out a few years later. Wondering why. Wondering how. The beer certainly never helped answer such heady questions.

There was no way of explaining it then.

There’s no way of explaining it now.

I promised myself that I would always hold that wink in her eyes close in my heart. I wanted it always to be there for me on the Friday nights when there’s nothing much to do. How would I ever develop a character that was as alive as Davine? Could either Steinbeck or Twain do it for me?

The good news being that I’ve been able to keep her alive in my heart.

I also remember how cold and dark the bed in my parent’s home felt that night. I didn’t sleep at all.
Instead, I wrote nearly every single word to Eye in the Sky for Davine.

It’s been a long time since Davine left this earth.

These days, every once in awhile I run into someone from Davine’s family, or I see a photo of a child who would’ve been one of her nieces or nephews. I always study the photo closely looking for an answer to Jim’s burning question.

And sometimes I see the answer:

Right there in the shining eyes of a family member who was left behind to think of Davine.

To remember.
To wink.
To smile.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Nine Thousand Words

Read something the other day that wasn't all that startling.

They say that the average adult male speaks about two thousand words per day while the average adult woman speaks roughly nine thousand.

Of course there's a lot you can do with stats and it'd be a tough thing to prove, but take my word for it...that's just about right around here.

"How was your day?" to Jake.

"Great!"

"How was your day?" to Matt.

"Terrific."

"How was your day?" to me.

"Sucked."

Sam, the great male talker in our house is even getting with the program. We know very little about his troubles.

We have one female here.

She's over nine thousand words.

"How was your day?" I'll say.

An hour later.

"What're you gonna' do," I'll answer.

And I'm not sure what it's all about. The wonderful differences between the sexes. It makes the world go around. Perhaps the whole gay marriage thing is all about wanting or not wanting to hear the mate talk or not.

"But you write about five thousand words a day," Kathy reminded me.

Which is true, I suppose, but people don't have to hear me. They can not read it if they'd like.

And I certainly don't mind. Human contact is certainly appreciated. Hearing about someone's day is certainly better than not hearing from anyone at all. Yet it is tough to picture some of the people in some of the stories.

"Remember when I told you about Natale?" Kathy will ask.

I do the shake off and nod at the same time. (Which is a great move by the way when someone is talking your ear off. They aren't sure if you know what they're talking about. It's done with a quick nod and an immediate 'no' shake of the head. The confused look is worth the effort).

"She's the hot one, right?"

"No, she's not hot."

"Don't remember her."

That might get you clear of hearing about Natale, but to a 9,000 word a day person, it probably won't even be a bump in the road.

"Anyway, Natale said... and I said...and Natale said...Do you believe that?"

"Nope!"

Be sincere. Listen closely. Nod and shake all in one motion. Either way, it doesn't matter.

My poor wife.

She gets the same response no matter what slob she's talking to.

"Please tell us a work story," Jake will say as we sit at the table.

Kathy will show mock frustration and then guess what?

She tells us a work story.

"Terrific!" Jake will say. "I'm outta' here!"

But I'm the husband. I have a new tact.

I count the words backwards.

8,745, 8,744, 8,743, 8,742....

"No shit, Natale, huh?"

Monday, May 28, 2012

True Memorials

The Memorial Day celebrations of my youth were epic. I'm sure I'm not alone in the feeling of excitement as the summer months stretch out before me. When we were kids the party was always going strong.

We'd barbecue of course. Dad's epic chicken that was burnt on the outside and pink on the inside, but that only happened every so often. The ribs were more than enough to make up for it. We'd plant the garden, the sun blistering us, but turning all of us dark brown. The brush cuts, the baseball games, endless rounds of golf. It always seemed like the Rocky movies opened on those weekends too.

And the parade through town. It's hard to forget the parade through town. All the familiar faces of my father's friends as they marched in uniform.

"I know you're a Fuzzy, I just don't know which one," always behind the smile that greeted us.

On Saturday night I went to Sam's first game of the baseball season under the lights. He got in the car talking about going 3 for 3 and being carried off the field on his friend's shoulders.

He started his night by striking out, then he ripped one to right and then he walked. A good night for him but he lamented the K.

"We all strike out from time to time," I said.

And a bat flew over the field at one point. Not a baseball bat, a real bat. The excited crowd pointed at it.

One man told his wife to 'hold out your hand, they have rabies.'

We laughed a lot at that one.

And the entire time I sat there on a lawn chair I felt a little sorry for myself. The activity of youth swallowed up in the sore back and the battered hip. Memories of my own games, 36 or 37 years ago flooding my mind.

The night air was still warm despite the fact that they'd started the game at 8:15, 'under the lights'. The fans at the other game cheered loudly at one point. The fans beside us cheered as Sam's team held on in the bottom of the last inning to win by two.

I passed by a few American flags on the way as we laughed our way to the car, Jake chiding Sam for the strike out. Sam talking about dominating in the next game. I thought about the freedom we have. God Blessed America.

God also blessed me with a great memory. I truly recall snippets of conversation from games all that while ago, sitting on the edge of my Dad's bed, telling him I didn't want to get hit by the pitch. He tried to teach me a few tricks.

I bet he felt like saying, 'Toughen up Nancy.'

He didn't. He let me know that striking out was okay, and that I should hold my head high, and keep talking shit. Dad didn't ever stop me from believing that I'd dominate eventually.

At the end of the game a kid hit a ball and raced around the bases, lightning quick.

"I never was a very fast runner," I told Jake.

"Oh really," he said. "That's hard to believe considering the way you motor now."

We laughed.

A snippet of a conversation that I hopefully bring back to him as a memory ten or twenty years from now.

Truth be told, Jacob, you can still certainly dominate, but I have some bad news for you:

You run like the old man.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Time to Re-Up?????

On our wedding day, my beautiful wife agreed with me that we should run this marriage thing on five-year deals. We've actually made it swimmingly through the first three contracts, in some trying times, with little or no room for negotiation.

We both signed on without complication.

The last deal expires some time next week. We are both a little unsure about the day because unless we look at the plaque commemorating our nuptials neither of us knows if we were married on the 30th or 31st.

Whatever.

"This is a walk year," I said the other night as we settled down to watch a movie with that wimpy-looking Wahlberg guy.

(Why do we only see movies with Wahlberg or Gosling or Damon or Affleck?)

"Are you re-signing for five more years?" I asked.

"Yeah, I'm in," she said as she watched Wahlberg lift weights.

(She didn't even glance in my direction).

"Are you sure?" I asked. "There might be someone better suited for you out there."

"I don't have the ambition," she confessed. "What about you?"

"Not sure," I said. "It is my walk year, maybe this will be it."

"Really?" she asked.

I nodded convincingly.

"Really? Where are you walking to?"

"I don't know," I said.

(She was still concentrating on Wahlberg).

"You can't even walk up the stairs," she finally answered. "You better stick around here."

She's probably right.

So, on the 30th or 31st we will start work on a new five-year deal that will take us midway through the 2018 season.

At the rate I've been declining she just might take a flier on the next five year deal.

As Wahlberg stood before us without his shirt I asked the dumbest question of our marriage.

"You like guys with muscles like that?" I asked.

"Uh, yeah," she answered. "What would make you ask me that?"

"You just re-upped with a guy who doesn't have them," I said.

"That's all right," she said. "I'm tired all the time now."

(Isn't that just a beautiful love story?)

Happy Anniversary to my BEAUTIFUL WIFE - whenever it may be.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Big Blue Sky

Matt is 19 years old today.

And the sun is shining bright.

The Sabres are gonna' win the cup next June.

The Bills will win the Super Bowl in February.

All of that will have to wait, of course, until the Oakland A's shock the world with their World Series title in October.

He's been consistent.

And it's funny because coincidentally I leafed through a bunch of stuff yesterday and found a lot of things I wrote back when I was twenty years old.

You aren't going to see much of it.

Because it's short-sighted, and it's filled with pie-in-the-sky dreams, and earth-shattering drama.

And that's okay because the world was stretched out before me, as it is for Matt right now, and it's not really fair to peak ahead.

Life needs to be lived.

And Matt has lived a remarkable one thus far. A good kid with crazy, wild dreams that most likely won't come true.

Because the A's suck.

The Sabres won't ever win.

And neither will the Bills.

But he has the secret of living down.

He's still dreaming.

And years and years from now, with a couple of lazy slobs sleeping in his beds below, and a wife asking him to do this or that he'll realize something very special.

You don't need every single dream to come true.

Just the important ones.

You have to believe in the blue sky above.

Happy Birthday, buddy.

The Yankees are gonna' sweep the A's this weekend.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Celebrate Your Life


The Gow School invited us to participate in the awarding of the Jeff Fazzolari Memorial Scholarship. Even better, they fed us first.

I really need to eat spinach salad more often.

We headed to the gym on a sweltering hot day after meeting some of the people who loved Jeff in a work setting. Brad, Paul, Gayle, Kathleen and many others stopped by to hug us. Corinne was her usual fantastic self, and Mom smiled through eyes that threatened tears.

But there's no tougher Fuzzy than Mom.

Not even close.

I presented the award to a student who met with me at the first book signing I did for Oh Brother! The Life and Times of Jeff Fazzolari.

Ibrahim Kalla is not from our country, but he told me a story about being welcomed to Gow by Jeff. He cried at the book signing. I remember signing a book for him and giving him a hug.

"I loved your brother," he told me back then.

I didn't remember him until I saw him on Friday. I was happy they chose him as the student recipient.

The faculty member who was also honored was Paul Rose, Jeff's good friend for years. Paul deserved the honor and I was proud to present it to him.

In fact, I was proud the entire time. In the sweltering heat, smiling with Corinne, feeling the pangs of pain.

Proud ruled the day.

And with my head held high I headed for the exit.

A woman intercepted me.

She was obviously not a U.S. Citizen and she confirmed that for me as her eyes filled with tears.

"We flew to Buffalo in a snowstorm in January of '09. We arrived late and were told the best they could do for us at such a late hour was hot chocolate in the cafe. I was so scared. I was leaving my son here for his education. The snow was flying. We were so tired and so scared."

I knew what was coming but I didn't say a word.

"Your brother was in the kitchen when we arrived. He made us hot chocolate and then he made enough food for ten people. It was late, he was tired, but he prepared a meal for us, and then he sat with us and told us it would be all right. He was so funny."

Tears flowed down the woman's face.

It was exactly what I thought she'd tell me.

Perhaps I'm wrong when I sign the books:

"Jeff's Message: Celebrate Your Life."

He celebrated everyone's life.

"We were total strangers," the woman said. "He didn't have to do it."

"Yes he did," I said as I hugged her. "That was Jeff."

So proud.

Pastor Satan

Did you happen to hear the pastor from North Carolina who ended his sermon by calling Obama a baby killer and a lover of queers?

I'm telling you.

It was really disturbing. Listen to it on You Tube.

The thing about it is that you might be against the whole gay marriage thing. I sort of let my thoughts be known a few blogs past. This one isn't about gay marriage. It's about sermons.

The pastor basically went off about the Bible being against it. God being against it, and most importantly for those listening...the pastor being against it.

When people stand up and speak and include themselves to be right there alongside the Bible and God there are real serious problems with reality.

And the Bible?

I know that there are people who really study it and quote it when it suits their agenda, but there's a lot of weird stuff in there. The Ole Testament is filled with rules that, if enforced today, would result in severe jail sentences. Beat the wife, stone those you disagree with, eat animals without hoofs.

What the hell?

Yet there are also very conflicting thoughts at play. It doesn't exactly read like a story that is easily defined. Certainly there are remarkable passages in there that if followed, in the context of a spiritual life, are a fine blueprint on how to live.

But it's all based on love.

The above pastor says that all the gays and lesbians..."queers and homosexuals" as he called them...should be put into an electrified pen. Being Christian and all loving he figures we can lower food to them but that eventually we wouldn't have to worry about them because they wouldn't be able to reproduce and would die out.

There were people in the congregation chanting out 'Amen!'

Now even if I agreed with this nitwit such words would make me feel real uncomfortable, you know?

Not sure about you but I go to church to feel love and to embrace faith and hope and to rise above what is aggravating me. Would I be comfortable listening to pure hate coming from a guy who is ill-informed, shortsighted and prejudicial, and most likely a closeted gay man?

Is spewing hate really God's plan?

Growing up I worked as an altar boy. I listened to an awful lot of sermons. Many of them weren't followed very closely. I listened to priest after priest pontificate. Some of the worst were the guys who broke down the gospel we just heard as if doing the recap of a football game.

The best sermons were those that applied to my life in some way. They were the one's who directed me to act a certain way in the context of present day America.

I don't remember even one good one that was about hate.

As I listened I thought of what might have been a sermon back when the slaves were owned all across this great land. I can imagine the great-great-great grandfather of this guy spewing something about throwing all the "darkies" into a pen somewhere and whining about not being able to beat them and control them.

He may even have found some sort of reference in his Bible.

God help us.

Take the microphone away from idiots like that.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Power & Fury

People come from all over the world to glance at the power and fury of Niagara Falls.

A daredevil is going to walk over it on a highwire later this summer.

He's pissed they're making him wear a safety harness.

Over the last couple of days the rushing water has been in the news because people are jumping in to try and kill themselves. One did it and the other was saved.

Goofy bastard can't even kill himself by jumping into Niagara Falls?

That's a loser, right?

And none of it is funny. The Buffalo News today told us all about how frequently it occurs. A whole bunch of times from the U.S. and Canada sides.

I don't think that's how I'm going.

In fact, I've crossed off diving into Niagara Falls and anorexia as two of the things that won't get me.

I worked across from the Falls years ago. My brother John worked with me that summer and we sat in the park across from one of the wonders of the world and he said the same thing every day.

"Shut that thing off!"

Everyone who knows John knows that he will repeat things over and over until they become funny. Every night, as kids, he'd ask my mother what was for dinner, while we were eating dinner.

Anywho-ha.

I can't imagine the angst one must feel before taking that flying leap into such an intimidating force of nature.

Think of the guy who made it.

He's all banged up, of course, but they are thinking he'll survive. I can imagine him in that hospital bed.

"I dove in and freaking lived!"

I know that there will be a lot of people up there as the man crosses the Falls this summer on the high wire. People are strange. I'm sure that many in the audience will be rooting for him to fall. Thankfully he will be tethered.

I haven't really stopped and looked at the Falls in years. Yet watching the rescue the other night I was in absolute awe.

Imagine being in that river.

It's actually impossible to comprehend.

Then again so is losing so much faith that you figure jumping in is option number one.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

It's All Right, Dad

I was standing in line at a fast-food joint one day last week- Wendy's - (Go Figure) - waiting on lunch during a trip out of town.

The guy behind me was wearing a Yankee hat so I commented about the lack of hitting (A-Rod is stealing 30 mil a year as is Tex).

The guy answered me with something about how they'd turn it around eventually. I started to agree when my thought was interrupted by a groan and a shout from the guy's son who I pegged to be about 15 and mentally retarded.

"I told you not to yell things," the father said to the boy.

"I'm sorry," the guy said to me.

"That's okay," I said.

"Do you know my Dad from work?" the kid yelled at me.

Once more the father tried to hush the kid, and once more he apologized to me.

"That's okay," I said again. "I know your Dad because he's a Yankee fan."

"I'm a Yankee fan too," the kid shouted.

The Dad was awfully uncomfortable, and he once again asked the child to be quiet. I didn't know what to do so I turned away.

"Where's Dave Thomas?" the kid asked his father a few minutes later.

Once more the kid's voice really carried. A few people in line ahead of me giggled.

"Keep it down!" the father scolded.

And man, I tell you, I thought of my kids and how blessed I am despite the fact that they drive me crazy from time-to-time. And it must be my Catholic upbringing but I said a quick prayer for the boy behind me in line and for his father, who seemed a bit impatient to me.

But it's gotta' be tough.

I ordered my food and stepped off to the side and the boy stepped in line and in his clear, booming voice, ordered his food.

Perfectly.

I couldn't help but glance over at his Dad, who was beaming at his son. He rubbed the boy's head and smiled.

"I did good, huh?" the kid asked.

"Dave Thomas would be proud," his Dad said.

And this time the laughter was shared.

Some people have it tougher than we do.

They just do.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Do Birds Sleep?

Woke up at 4:17 with that question in mind because my windows were open and one son-of-a-bitch was singing, non-stop, and it wasn't Born to Run.

It was more like that rap crap that drives me crazy.

I'd have shot him off his perch if there were a couple of factors that went my way. Like having a gun. Like knowing that I couldn't shoot straight at all. Like finding the bastard.

So I tried to enjoy it, but honestly the bird was singing like my beautiful wife.

Off-key and confident.

So I turned to the phone.

"Do birds sleep?" I typed into Google.

And what's amazing to me is that:

1). I was up a couple of hours before I needed to be and I had the presence of mind to wonder if birds actually sleep

and

2). The damn Google machine had an answer for me in less than two seconds.

Now I'm not sure what I was planning to do with the information. I guess, in the back of my mind I was looking for something like:

"Birds like to sleep from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m."

So that I could get into my car and blast a real annoying song at them as they rested in the trees...like Led Zeppelin or something...and wake the bastards up.

Google told me that birds, in fact, do sleep but that they are light sleepers who don't sleep eight consecutive hours like we are trying to do. They actually sleep with one eye open as they have to be aware of predators and because its tough to get straight sleep sitting up in a freaking tree.

So, my dream of spoiling their slumber was forgotten.

So I tried to lie back and enjoy the melodic sounds and maybe get in touch with what I needed for the day.

What I needed was more sleep.

And melody?

Forget it...that bird was worse than my singing wife...

son-of-a-bitch was 50-cent.

Wish I had a gun.

Monday, May 21, 2012

A Bit of Housekeeping

Walked out into the bright sunshine on Sunday morning and after saying my hello's to those above thought of one thing:

I should be golfing.

Damn. Truth is, though, I'm not even tempted to take a couple of practice hacks.

I feel that shitty.

Yet there were so many things that crowded into my head for a blog that I decided to do a little clean-up.

1). The trial of the doctor here in Buffalo isn't exactly riveting for me. The good doc is on the stand now telling us his side of the story on how he ran down the girl and didn't feel compelled to stop. He's gunning for a little sympathy, here, folks. After all, his $100,000 Mercedes got ruined. Have a heart, jurors.

Throw away the key.

2). I'll Have Another is all set up for the Triple Crown. I love all the stories of the poor, downtrodden owners of the horse who bought the animal for $11,000 and now are set to make millions. America. What a country! My only up close and personal horse activity happened in Richmond, Virginia. I went to some event where horses were being whipped and beaten to jump over hurdles. I'm sure that activity has some name, but it all seemed weird to me. People all dressed up to watch horses. Everyone was acting so prime and proper.

I didn't belong there.

3). We are all set for the presidential campaign, aren't we? I have an idea. Let's vote in two weeks. No campaigns, no ads, no stories about Obama's birth certificate or Romney's dog. Obama versus Romney. People, for the most part, have already made up their minds. Those that haven't have 14 days to decide.

Think of what we could do with the $ we save.

4). Feel free to call me, text me, tweet me, or Facebook me anytime the Yankees lose. I'm actually all right with it because it's a long season. They will win 90, lose 60 and do something with the other 12. In the end they will compete for the title, and it really is fine if they lose. They are only 7 for 47 when it comes to winning titles in my lifetime so I can handle defeat.

But can you handle it if it goes the other way? I'll be relentless.

5). Speaking of which. Work is going to bring me close to the cathedral of baseball soon and coincidentally the meeting was set for the early afternoon on a night when the Yanks happen to be at home.

Wonder how that happened.

6). Spring is a rough time because there's a lot of cleanup around the house and plenty of yard that needs to be worked. I'll share something with you. If your grand plan was to have children so that they could handle a brunt of the workload you're in for a rude awakening.

They ain't real interested.

7). Speaking of which. Even getting the small garden ready was a real chore this year. Thinking back to my childhood we always planted on Memorial Day weekend. So with that in mind there was incredible angst in my mind as I wondered about getting down on the ground to pick the weeds. That wasn't the real problem. Getting up was the sticking point. So I had the kids clear the small area of grass and weeds so the ground could be dug up. They weren't all that successful.

"Can't we just buy cukes and tomatoes?" Sam asked.

8). As I write the new book I must spoil it by saying that a couple of characters try to build character by coming up with a quote of the day and a word of the day that allows them to grow as individuals.

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter," MLK Jr.

Agley - off the right line; awry; wrong.

There's the word and quote for today.

9). The New York Book Festival winners will be announced soon. Praying that Oh Brother! The Life and Times of Jeff Fazzolari picks up another nod. Set up for the Hollywood and San Diego Festivals as the year continues.

Sea-to-shining-sea.

10). Speaking of which, the Gow School is also honoring Jeff with the granting of the Jeff Fazzolari Memorial Scholarship.

That's why we plant gardens, kids...to build things.

I feel as if I cleaned up some of the loose ends.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Lately

I have my own reason for writing this down today - it's from the Van Morrison song. Another great artist, by the way. The word on the street is that he was writing the lyrics to God. The song always makes me think of my Dad.

Have I told you lately that I love you?

Have I told you there's no one else above you?

Fill my heart with gladness

Take away all my sadness

Ease my troubles, that's what you do


For the morning sun and all its glory

Greets the day with hope and comfort too

You fill my life with laughter

Somehow make it better

Ease my troubles that's what you do


There's a love divine

And it's yours and it's mine

Like the sun


And at the end of the day

We should give thanks and pray

To the one, oh, to the one


Have I told you lately that I love you?

Have I told you there's no one else above you?

You fill my heart with gladness

Take away all my sadness

Ease my troubles, that's what you do


There's a love that's divine

And it's yours and it's mine

Like the sun


And at the end of the day

We should give thanks and pray

To the one, oh, to the one


Have I told you lately that I love you?

Have I told you there's no one else above you?

You fill my heart with gladness

Take away all my sadness

Ease my troubles, that's what you do


Take away all my sadness

Ease my troubles, that's what you do


Oh, take away all my sadness

Ease my troubles, that's what you do


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Not A Bad Year

Given the history of the Kennedy family I gotta' think that when they all get together they look back and figure:

"All things considered, 1963 wasn't a bad year."

Seriously, think of it. JFK, Robert Kennedy, Ted's late night swim, the ski accident, the rape, JFK Jr's. plane, and now RFK's son's wife hanged herself because he was such an ass to her and she drank too much and the demons finally won.

And I suppose that every single family across the land has had some bad stuff happen, but man they know how to get it done there, right?

All spectacular, crazy...you gotta' read this...sort of drama.

JFK was blown away before I walked on the planet and I certainly don't recall the circumstances of Bobby's death or Ted's drunken night of death, but like everyone else I've read a lot about all of them.

And you know what?

They all seemed to be guys I wouldn't have liked very much.

Very self-entitled, very rude, very self-indulgent, way too much freaking money, and really sort of crass and uncaring.

All right, maybe not JFK Jr. He seemed like a decent enough guy, but flying your own plane?

Geez, didn't we learn nothing from John Denver?

The news accounts of Mary Richardson Kennedy's death are pretty shocking and galling and whatever else you can pull from the thesaurus of adjectives.

She was being pushed out. She was a drunk, a louse and didn't adapt to her husband's cheating ways very well. He was fighting her for custody, for the house, and for her dignity. He wasn't going to stop the assault until she collapsed under the weight of the burden of her life.

She did.

And like all of the other Kennedy stories we can't really be sure if that's the truth. I'm sure that there will be ten stories of love for every story of hate. He said, she said is ridiculous when it comes to anything to do with every single Kennedy, hyphen or not.

And we watch.

Think of it, what other family in American history has garnered this much attention?

It's not even close.

Assassination?...two of those.

Drowning?...got it.

Rape?...allegedly.

Plane crash?...tragically.

Ski meet tree?...football on ski's?

Death by hanging?...wow.

Who woulda' thunk that Ted was the sensible one?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Another OJ Trial

I hear that the Juice is looking to break loose of jail. His lawyers have prepared a motion to get him out of that 9 to 33 year charge for robbery and brute force when he tried to get his memorabilia back from some bad guys in Vegas.

I say we get on board.

Remember the trial for the double murders?

Wasn't that great television?

Al Cowlings, Chris Darden, Greta, Marcia Clark, Kato, Faye Resnick, Cochran...man those were the days.

I worked with one specific company back then. I shared an office with a black guy and we put the trial on the radio and laughed and cackled and talked back to whoever was telling the most lies. We were both of the opinion that the Juice was, indeed a murderer, but there was something strange about all of it, wasn't there?

Television every night tries to fictionalize something so powerful and riveting as the OJ case. There was a low speed chase, violence, phantom golf swings, a run to McDonald's, cut hands, bloody gloves, sex, power, fame and money.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could all bond together again as a country and listen to the details of such a sordid affair?

But no, the Juice is not loose as of this writing. He took all that money and fame and all the goodwill that he had from everyone and with a few quick cuts, he ruined everything and killed two people.

Man.

But there are people still on his side. I have read things that people have said about his being put away on that charge in Vegas. He's the only guy still in jail. He didn't even know there were guns involved. He just wanted his autographs back.

And I often think of Orenthal. It still blows my mind, nearly twenty years later that he could rip apart such a charmed life.

He wasn't just an ex-jock. People absolutely loved him here in Buffalo. He was Nordberg for crying out loud!

I also think of those who were involved in that trial too. What the hell happened to all of them?

Has anyone seen Kato lately?

Marcia Clark?

Darden?

I read a lot of the books written about it - I couldn't read anything OJ "wrote" - and I marvel at the fact that he was set free.

Will we ever have another case like that one?

I hope not, actually because what people forgot during all the sensationalism was that two young people died.

But another OJ trial for this memorabilia stuff?

It might actually make for good television.

Why the hell not?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I'm Hip, I'm Hip

It's almost comical now.

One of my buddy's asked me today if I was happy being an old man.

And I gotta' tell you, it sure feels that way somehow.

We need to backtrack to January, of course. I was just getting through the rehab on my knee. I was going to be able to golf, no doubt. The Apes were going to suffer as were the Baltimorons.

And bam. The guy hits me at the stop sign.

Evidently herniated discs take a while to heal. Going to therapy was pointing me in the right direction but I needed to be patient, I was told.

Perhaps golf in May.

We're over halfway through May. There will be no golf in May.

The epidural shot for the back will happen the first week of June.

"You need a driver," the doc told me.

I don't know if I'll be able to talk the driver into dropping me at a job site.

Yet, the doc also told me more.

"That pain in your groin is weird," he said. "Lie down a minute."

He pushed outward on my ankle. I screamed, he screamed and then we laughed.

"That's your hip," he said. "We need to get that worked on when the back is good."

Golf?

Can you say old man?

And most of all what I'm trying real hard to work on is keeping my sunny disposition.

You know, Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky.

Yet I watched the highlights of last weekends golf tourney. One of the players was hitting it out of the woods and onto the green.

This would have been my year!

I was all set up to shoot under 80.

Instead, I feel 80.

If you're keeping score at home:

The knee is better than the back but the back is better than the hip.

The worst part is:

I could still beat the crew from Baltimore.

(Had to write that after the O's win on Tuesday night).

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Suck Sox

Wow, Josh Beckett is a true dork, isn't he?

Let's recap.

Last year he was the bandleader of the chicken and beer in the clubhouse as the team tanked. After the season was over he was more concerned with finding the snitch than apologizing for his obviously selfish antics.

Cut to the new year. I must admit I was a little worried because high-priced athletes usually perform best when they feel the world is out to get them or they are in a contract year.

Beckett isn't in a contract year. He will get $17 million for his 30-to 35 starts. Evidently, he doesn't care if the world is out to get him.

You see, Beckett called in sick on one of the starts, saying that he had tightness in his back.

Damn, good work if you can get it. I now have a bum hip to go along with my herniated discs and I'm still climbing ladders.

Anyhow, he was granted a day off, and then the team had a day off after playing a 17-inning game that they lost because they ran out of pitchers and although Beckett was there, his sore back disqualified him. The left fielder gave up a 3-run bomb and they lost.

It wasn't a big deal to Josh. He had an off day coming up.

Bad back and all...he went golfing.

That, in and of itself, may not be the biggest crime. Opening his mouth was a lot worse.

"We only get 18 days off a year," he said. "I shouldn't be answering quesions about what I do on my day off."

Couple of things, Josh:

First, you get off from the end of September until the first week in April.

Secondly, you pitch about once a week.

I guess the days when you're sitting in the clubhouse eating chicken and sucking beer are actually work days.

And 17 million a year. The suck sox fans pay 100 bucks a seat. You don't owe them a bit of an explanation?

Also, picture this:

Call your boss and tell them you won't be in because you're feeling back tightness. Then tell him it's none of his business when he asks you about playing golf the day after you took the day off.

He might have a problem.

Anywho-ha...the whole deal was fun for me. I was able to send funny texts to the sux sox fans I know.

They didn't answer me.

Even A-Rod isn't that big a douche.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

What God Might Say

So, Obama stepped out on a limb and basically said that gay was okay as far as marriage goes.

It's a lightning rod issue for a lot of people and as I try and get my head around what it means, I struggle, really struggle to figure out how it can generate so much hate.

1). Isn't it strange that the party that wants less interference is interfering on such an issue?

2). If two gay guys get married, or two gay girls get joined in holy matrimony how will it change my life? The man and woman union seems a bit cantankerous as well.

3). Who's business is it anyway what people want, like, or don't like?

4). Who am I to say how you can spend your day? I get one vote in all of this. I won't try and change yours. Leave mine alone.

5) Everyone should enjoy the love and companionship of their "soul mate" or the person that makes them happy.

So, that's basically my stand.

And someone mentioned to me that it was against my religious beliefs.

Religion is the lightning rod here, right?

Is it against my religious beliefs?

The fact that I don't have any thought against something shouldn't have a bearing on how or why I attend mass, should it?

The way I look at it...

...Love thy neighbor.

Those are the 3 words that drive my life.

I love some more than others. I actually don't love some. I sort of love some and sort of hate some, sorry to say. The ones that affect my life are the one's I hate - so I try to keep those to a minimum - and hating a whole section of people because of what they love isn't a reason to hate, right?

Did you follow all that?

It makes sense if you break it down.

And I don't know...I went to a lot of religious classes as a kid. I went to a Catholic grammar school and a Catholic University. We proved the existence of God in one class. We talked a lot about the loving and merciful God and the element of free will.

If God is so against homosexuality as some might believe then fine, those who dabble in that lifestyle may have to pay.

I won't.

What I would pay for is having hate in my heart for people I don't even know, or judging others from a vantage point of limited understanding of what is in their heart.

It's not for me to say.

And that's how I look at it when I glance into the fire pit of all religion. I do know one thing for sure...someone might consider me stupid for my thoughts on it.

Perhaps.

But I don't judge your stance. That isn't up to me.

Should it be legal? Should it not be legal?

I don't know.

Don't ask me.

Not my judgement.

Let God speak on it.

But don't tell me you know His stance, either.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Handcuffed to the Bumper

When I was a senior in college I spent a lot of time drinking beer and playing golf. A bunch of us listened to the Born in the USA record over and over and over and over again. One guy loved the song, Darlington County and in particular the line:

I saw Wayne handcuffed to the bumper of a state trooper's Ford.

And all the crazy things about being a pretty irresponsible-thought-we-were-the-coolest-idiot comes rushing back to me when I hear Matt making plans for the weekend and/or watching him post self-indulgent things on the Google machine.

And let me tell you, we did some crazy things.

I remember painting the viaduct with some buddies in the summer following my senior year in high school. We painted "Rolling Stones" across the 18' high bridge after drinking a few beers. We were sitting in the church parking lot, on the paint cans when a cop pulled in to ask us what we'd been doing all night.

"Just hanging out," we said. The paint dripped off the viaduct onto the road below. You didn't have to be Perry Mason to figure it all out.

We should have been tied to his bumper, but things were a little more lax in those days I suppose.

And since Matt just finished his freshman year I thought of all the fun we had freshman year. He was talking the other night and I flashed back to the big formal dance at Gannon - the 8-ball. We were dressed in suits and ties and we made plans to attend the dance and then meet up with a bunch of girls at a place they owned by the lake.

One flaw in the plan:

We drank grain alcohol that night.

I can still remember waking up in my suit with my shoes still on, and hearing Gag stir across the room.

"What the hell are we doing here?" he asked as he gazed around our dorm room.

We never saw the lake. Never saw the girls again either.

And there were a lot of goofy nights. Just weird, mostly harmless gatherings of some real morons.

And we made it through.

I think one of the most difficult things about being a parent is knowing when to put the hammer down and when to allow the little dorks find out for themselves what the flaws in the plan really are.

Thankfully my kids aren't hurting for confidence. You should hear them chirp at one another as they shoot hoops in the driveway.

It reminds me of all those games all those years ago.

And thus far, they have mostly used a bit of common sense. I don't think they've put themselves in harms way too many times, but then again, how would I really know?

My parents didn't know everything, right?

But I was never handcuffed to a state trooper's Ford, either.

Some may say I got lucky.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Momma!


This is one of the most beautiful stories about mothers love. It was written for Good Housekeeping Magazine in 1933 by Temple Bailey. This is a story we should all read once in a while so we remember to respect our mothers for their love and guidance.



"Is this the long way?" asked the young mother as she set her foot on the path of life. And the Guide said:
"Yes, and the way is hard, and you will be old before you reach the end of it. But the end will be better than the beginning."

The young mother was happy, and she would not believe that anything could be better than these years. So she played with her children, she fed them and bathed them, taught them how to tie their shoes and ride a bike, and reminded them to feed the dog and do their homework and brush their teeth. The sun shone on them and the young mother cried,

"Nothing will ever be lovelier than this."

Then the nights came, and the storms, and the path was sometimes dark, and the children shook with fear and cold, and the mother drew them close and covered them with her arms. The children said,

"Mother, we are not afraid, for you are near, and no harm can come."

And the morning came, and there was a hill ahead, and the children climbed and grew weary, and the mother was weary. But at all times she said to the children,

"A little patience and we are there."

So the children climbed and as they climbed they learned to weather the storms. And with this, she gave them strength to face the world. Year after year she showed them compassion, understanding, hope, but most of all unconditional love. And when they reached the top they said,

"Mother, we could not have done it without you."

The days went on, and the weeks and the months and the years. The mother grew old and she became little and bent. But her children were tall and strong, and walked with courage. And the mother, when she lay down at night, looked up at the stars and said:

"This is a better day than the last, for my children have learned so much and are now passing these traits on to their children."

And when the way became rough for her, they lifted her, and gave her strength, just as she had given them hers. One day they came to a hill, and beyond the hill they could see a shining road and golden gates flung wide. And Mother said,

"I have reached the end of my journey. And now I know the end is better than the beginning, for my children can walk with dignity and pride, with their heads held high, and so can their children after them." And the children said,

"You will always walk with us, Mother, even when you have gone through the gates."

And they stood and watched her as she went on alone, and the gates closed after her. And they said,

"We cannot see her, but she is with us still." A mother is more than a memory. She is a living presence. Your Mother is always with you. She's the whisper of the leaves as you walk down the street, she's the smell of certain foods you remember, flowers you pick and perfume that she wore, she's the cool hand on your brow when you're not feeling well, she's your breath in the air on a cold winters day.

She is the sound of the rain that lulls you to sleep, the colors of a rainbow, she is your birthday morning. Your Mother lives inside your laughter. And she's crystallized in every tear drop.

A mother shows through in every emotion - happiness, sadness, fear, jealousy, love, hate, anger, helplessness, excitement, joy, sorrow - and all the while hoping and praying you will only know the good feelings in life.

She's the place you came from, your first home, and she's the map you follow with every step you take. She's your first love, your first friend, even your first enemy, but nothing on earth can separate you.

Not time, not space - not even death!


Saturday, May 12, 2012

I'm the Old Guy

On Friday I went to a job in a town far away and was introduced to a young guy who's responsible for safety on a big job with a number of contractors under his control.

I had never met the kid before but he was very hard-working and sharp. He explained that he wanted to learn a few tricks from me but that he thought things were in "pretty good shape."

Well, the job was actually kind of a disaster. Too many people in too small of space doing whatever the hell they wanted to do.

So, we got started.

I yelled at a few guys, joked with a few more and tried to get the kid to see what I was trying to do. The inspection took well over two hours and I took him off to the side to give him sort of an overview.

And he was looking at me with wide-eyes as he tried to write down some of the things I was telling him.

And it hit me.

He was me back in 1988. Even the jobs were similar.

In '88 I was in New Haven, Connecticut trying to find my way on a job with a supervisor who didn't pull any punches and was quick to let me know when I was being stupid.

My Dad.

So as that kid wrote things down and nodded it really hit me hard.

"I'm the old guy," I said to that kid. "How old are you?"

"Twenty-five," he said.

He was one when I was in Connecticut.

"Are you listening to me?" I asked.

I told him about my Dad and about that job and how I really learned a lot from guys who actually know construction.

I didn't tell him that I make my living in construction despite the fact that I can't fold one of those cardboard mailing boxes into something that the post office might actually send out.

"I've made my living writing things down, and meeting with people to let them know that they're looking at shit wrong," I said. "Be open to suggestions. Show up and shut up except when you know you're right. Absorb everything they tell you and keep your eye out for bullshit," I said.

"And write shit down!"

The kid was nodding furiously. He was amused by the fact that I was limping around the grounds and even offered to take my camera up the ladder and get some shots so I didn't have to make the trip.

"I ain't that old, wise ass," I told him.

But 1988 was the blink of an eye ago.

I hope the kid listens to me as well as I listened to Pop.

That's how we keep the damn ball rolling.

Pick up the rock son, carry it on.



Friday, May 11, 2012

My Mother Wouldn't Breast Feed Me...

...She said we were just friends.

Did you see the cover of Time Magazine with the four-year-old kid latched on to his mother's breast? They were both standing and the kid was smiling as if to say, "See what my mommy does for me?"

Now I don't know what the article says. I actually read just a little bit about it. I guess the woman is explaining that being a latch parent makes the kid stronger. She advocates letting the kid suckle for much longer than the 6 months or so that a reasonably stable woman might do. She also feels that it is to the kid's advantage to share her bed with her for the same number of years.

Like Ted Bundy's Mom did.

Seriously, does this sound right to you?

I can't imagine a mother picking her son up from kindergarten and giving him his afternoon snack during the car ride home.

Obviously there are health benefits to breast-feeding...that's what they say anyway...but taking a thermos of breast milk to your junior high lunch break seems a bit much to me.

My beautiful wife knew what the hell was going on with the kids. When they were infants the kids and I had one thing in common - we were scared of each other.

Lord knows I wasn't about to try and breast feed them although I may have been able to do a reasonable facsimile.

"What do you think of a 4-year-old breastfeeding?" I asked Kathy.

"Weird," she said.

Of course I don't want to be close-minded about it.

I'll read the article.

I'll give the crazy lady the benefit of the doubt before I dismiss her as nuts.

I'll try not to joke about something that I haven't really researched. Perhaps I am wrong.

As noted, of course, I used the old Rodney Dangerfield joke to start the blog.

What a classic.

It sort of gives a whole new appreciation for Mother's Day, doesn't it?

I can't imagine what that kid is going to think ten years down the line when his buddies are showing him the old Time magazine cover of him getting some from his mother.

All right, so I didn't refrain from joking until I read the article.

Just seems weird at first glance.

I'll keep you abreast of my feelings on the matter.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I Can Just Hear You Getting Fatter

As a male in a back-biting environment with friends and brothers that are always ready with the quick put down I have had to arm myself with a couple of fat jokes.

I use them all the time.

Me: Are you losing weight?

Unsuspecting Foe: Yeah, I've lost a few pounds.

Me: You must be a B-cup now.

Or

Me: You have something on your chin.

Unsuspecting foe tries to wipe the imaginary item away.

Me: No, the third one down.

Of course, we live in a sensitive society. We have to watch what we say to one another particularly in a work setting. Of course I work around construction guys most days so the rules sort of don't apply. The other day I watched an ironworker with a bit of girth to him bite into a cheeseburger off the roach coach.

"I can just hear you getting fatter," I said.

That is a David Spade line from one of the greatest movies ever...Tommy Boy. Damn. I miss Farley. Damn I miss the guy I saw it on back-to-back nights with on the weekend it came out.

But anyway, I write all of this because there are reports out that say that 51% of the country will be obese by the year 2030 and that 10 or 12% of those people will be morbidly obese.

I can see it.

Check out an amusement park over the summer. There are some real sausages out there and a few of them still try and get into sexy outfits. That oughta' be against the law.

I've learned a few tricks.

1). Don't tuck your shirt in.

2). Always give your weight at least 15 pounds less than what you are.

3). Use the Farley line: "Not sure if you've noticed: I have what some might consider a weight problem."

4). Wear earplugs to block out the sound of yourself getting fatter.

And the problem is two-fold.

First:

Have you ever seen one of those weight charts?

I'm six-feet tall and 47 years old. According to the chart I should weight between 165 and 175. Ten percent more than that and I'm obese.

P-leeeeeassssseeeeee.

If I weighed 165 people would check me into a hospital. Besides since I'm only 180 right now, I'm not that far off, right?

(I might get a few comments with that last line).

And secondly:

I was at a convenient store this morning and I was a little hungry. There was a basket of Granny Smith apples right next to the Chocolate Chip Muffins that just came out of the oven.

What to do?

What to do?

Let's leave it open here:

Which one did I chose and why?

First correct answer receives a book.

You have to nail my reason for the choice.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Vinny Barbarino

Any kid that grew up in the 70's loved the Welcome Back Kotter show. I'd be willing to bet that most of the young people liked Vinny Barbarino because he was so freaking stupid.

Turns out the actor that played him might be a little dopey too.

The story goes that John Travolta, a movie star in every sense of the word, who made about a billion dollars acting, needed a full-body massage.

He is being accused of being the masseur as well, allegedly groping the man who was giving him the massage.

First off, I'm not being weird here, but I don't think I'd feel real comfortable having a man massage me. Perhaps I'm not hip enough, but it would be a little weird.

Sorry.

In fact, as luck might have it I have a bit of experience in this regard.

Back awhile ago I went for a therapeutic massage and was greeted by Greg. It was through a physical therapy program so shut the hell up Pops and Renaldo and Larry and Gag.

Anyhow, Greg broke the news to me that he was my therapist.

I must have looked funny because he asked me if I was comfortable with that.

"Not really," I said.

"Are you married?" he asked.

"Why do you ask?" I shot back.

Greg never laid a paw on me.

And of course, I have had a number of massages lately as I try to get back to health. I have never once did what Travolta is accused of doing, which is to reach under the table and fondle his masseur.

Of course, Travolta is denying he was even in that part of the country when it all went down, but despite the fact that he has been married, forever, to Kelly Preston, we've all heard the rumors.

Could Vinny Barbarino really be gay?

Seems kind of strange, doesn't it?

But then again, who the hell really cares?

It's just weird when the misconduct comes to light.

TMZ is having a field day with this one.

I have a massage scheduled for Saturday. No fondling allowed.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Trouble Adjusting

Man if I hear one more sports show talking about the tough time that athletes have adjusting to having nothing to do with their millions and millions of dollars as they struggle to get into the swing of not being cheered and adored, I might puke.

"It's difficult," one talking head was saying. "The thousands of cheering fans, the public adulation, the steady million dollar paycheck...those things stop coming in...and then the poor athlete is left to struggle and try and figure out what he can do from day-to-day. You can only do so much surfing, or play so many rounds of golf."

Boo-freaking hoo.

Give me a break.

I'm sorry. I don't have a ton of sympathy for the poor downtrodden ex-athlete.

How many people have actually stood up and clapped for you when you did your job well?

How many $100,000 paychecks have you cashed?

Now, of course, this is all coming from the story about Junior Seau and while I feel bad that he wasn't able to find his place and that he decided to take his own life, but let's not turn it into an epidemic here, people.

Coincidentally I was clicking through television shows the other night and Jim Abbott, the former big league pitcher with one freaking hand was on television talking about his post-baseball charity.

In essence this is what Abbott said:

I was fortunate to make the money I did. When I was playing I was thrilled to meet the fans and I decided, when it was done, to still work with the fans. I make appearances and sign autographs and just shake hands. I was privileged. I was blessed.

Privileged?

Blessed?

He was born without a freaking hand!

"Do you think you'd be the man you are today if you had a normal right hand?" the host asked him.

"Are you asking me if I like my little hand?" Abbott asked. "Yeah, I guess I do."

If he could adjust...and millions of people with disabilities adjust how come these athletes can't adjust?

I'm willing to bet that everyone reading this would love to live from the age of 35 or 36 with millions in the bank and nothing to do.

Trouble adjusting?

Cry me a river.

Monday, May 7, 2012

At Least We Won't Starve

"What am I having for dinner?" Sam asked me at ten o'clock on Saturday night.

"Are you kidding me?" I asked. I was actually on my way to bed to allow the 27-Time World Champion to piss me off again. No Mariano all year and everyone but Jeter is swinging a wet noodle.

"I didn't eat anything at the party," Sam said. "I wasn't hungry then and there's nothing to eat in the house."

Which was an absolute exaggeration, of course. There was plenty of food. We were plum out of chicken fries though so hence the aggravation.

"I'm not cooking you dinner at 10 o'clock," I said.

Ten minutes later I was making a pizza.

So I rose early on Sunday and headed to the grocery store. I'd fix their asses.

It was at this point when I thought of my Mom and Dad spending every last dime they had feeding 6 (and I'm sorry here siblings) pigs that ate themselves to pain at every meal. 30 pork chops for dinner? 20 sandwiches for our lunches? $350 a week in groceries in the 1970's?

I walked the aisles putting anything that looked remotely appetizing into the cart. They want ice cream sandwiches? I got 'em and boxes of the slush freezies. Pop? I went easy but grabbed iced tea and Gatorade too. And chicken? I grabbed six different kinds.

Of course, there's an aside here to all my fellow shoppers.

1). Don't put your cart on one side of the aisle and then stand directly across from it on the other side. I can't get by and I'm liable to say something snappy like, "It's your aisle, huh, buddy?"

2). Don't ask me questions or chat with me. I could give two shits if you've tried the peppers I have in my cart. I tried, the other day to be nice and listen to a guy tell me about his grand-kids graduation party and then it morphed into the high prices, the nice weather, and his take on Obama.

"Gotta' go, dude," I said. "Have a good weekend."

3). Would I like plastic or paper? Surprise me. I really don't care. What I'd like is for you to scan the groceries without flirting with your bagger and asking me what I think about the Bills draft. And do I want my milk in a bag? Again, surprise me. The little bastards that eat this stuff are going to hide in their rooms until I have it all out of the car and put away anyway.

I remember a long ago shopping trip. My mother and father discussed the chore over dinner one Saturday night. I believe that they were both sort of tired of all of us by then. It came down to my Dad doing it, deciding that he'd take John with him to help out.

About an hour later we watched my father's car race up the hill with a police car close behind. Dad pulled straight into the garage, shut the door and ran into the house with John following. A moment later the doorbell rang. Of course we all hid in various rooms to hear the conversation.

Cop: Come on, John. You were speeding.

Dad: I never left the house.

Cop: John, why are you doing this?

Dad: Ask my wife. I've been here all night.

Cop: Lynda?

Mom: He never left the house.

A moment later Mom, Dad and the cop were all laughing. They were friends from town.

We all unpacked the bags and bags of groceries that night.

"I think I'll go next time," Mom said.

"Dad's nuts," John told me later that night.

"No shit," I might have said.

Cut back to today. I finished putting everything away. Over $300 and not a piece of beef.

"At least we won't starve," I could hear my Dad saying.

Moments later Sam was beside me. He surveyed the scene.

"You didn't get any cookies 'n cream ice cream," he said.

I chased him like that cop chased Dad.


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Bob Seger is 67

I remember when I was young and hanging out with my grandparents. Knowing that they were up in their 60's I was scared, of course, that the clock was running down.

"67! Man, that's a long time," I used to think.

I don't quite think the same way now, of course. It calls to mind one of my favorite Grandpa lines. I know I've used it before. It was the day before his 80th birthday.

"Geez, 80...I don't know if I want to live to 80," I said.

"You do when you're 79," Grandpa answered.

I imagine that Bob Seger today is rooting for 68 because he just turned 67.

And that blows my mind.

I remember back in the real early 80's when Seger blew through town on his Against the Wind tour. I wasn't allowed to go to the concert. A few of my friends did. My wife taunts me with it because she went all those years ago. Seger played two shows on back-to-back nights.

I still have never seen him play live.

One of these days.

And when I saw his name in the celebrity birthdays today I was astounded by the number beside his name. 67. Grandma and Grandpa territory for sure.

He is talking about a new album.

A few of the greatest songs he ever made rolled through my mind and Old Time Rock and Roll wasn't one of them. I hate that song...the only one he ever made that I don't like.

Roll Me Away and Against the Wind and Hollywood Nights and Down on Main Street and Night Moves and on and on and on. He really found the formula there for awhile. Most of his albums appear to be Greatest Hits compilations.

And why am I writing about Seger today?

Because I wanted to really concentrate on something good after reading the Saturday edition of the paper...tanning ladies, drunk drivers, sports teams begging broke taxpayers for money, Mariano getting hurt, the economy, gas prices, Romney, Obama, blah, blah, f*^$ing blah.

Roll Me Away (I highlighted the lines I scream - Happy Birthday Bob)

Took a look down a westbound road
Right away I made my choice
Headed out to my big two-wheeler
I was tired of my own voice
Took a bead on the Northern plains
And just rolled that power on.

12 hours out of Mackinaw city
stopped in a bar to have a brew
met a girl and we had a few drinks
and I told her what I decided to do
She looked out the window a long, long moment
then she looked into my eyes
She didn't have to say a thing
I knew what she was thinking

Roll me away won't you roll me away tonight
I too am lost, I feel double-crossed
and I'm sick of what's wrong and what's right

We never even said a word
We just walked out and got on that bike
And we rolled
We rolled clean out of sight

We rolled across the high plains
deep into the mountains
felt so good to me
finally feeling free

Somewhere along a high road
The air began to turn cold
She said she missed her home
I headed on alone

Stood alone on a mountain top
Starin' out at the great divide
I could go East, I could go West
It was all up to me to decide


Just then I saw a young hawk flying
And my soul began to rise
And pretty soon my heart was singing

Roll, roll me away

I'm gonna' roll me away tonight
Gotta' keep on rollin'
Gotta' keep on ridin'
Keep searching 'til I find what's right

And as the sunset faded
I spoke to the faintest first starlight

And I said 'next time.'
next time
we'll get it right.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Don't Quit. Don't Ever Quit

One of the great lessons of my adult life was learned when I finally figured out that no matter how much you love someone you can't make them behave the way you want them to behave.

You might see it all so clear, and you might know what needs to be done, but you might just as well stay quiet about it because it's nearly impossible to give someone everything they need.

Little story.

About twenty years ago I worked with a guy who by all accounts was a great guy. He was always cheerful, had plenty of times for jokes, and seemingly did well for his wife and kids. He was a big man too - about 6'5" and well over 280.

He had one problem.

A real bad back.

I'm talking a back that brought him pain every day of his adult life. He went through all of it. Pain pills, surgery, therapy, rehab, more surgery. He was always struggling to get on top of it.

He went to work every day.

He never bitched.

He never got on top of it though.

It killed him.

He shot himself in the head leaving behind a wife and those teenage kids.

And man I was mad at him.

He never gave off a vibe that it was what he might do. I would try and give him advice, but I was a lot younger. I hadn't been through it all.

I had no idea.

I miss him as an adult. We would still be talking, I know it. And now I know a bit of what he went through because back pain takes control. It really does. But never and I mean never can I figure that something like that could ever happen.

Keep punching.

It's a real motto.

And the other day when I heard that Junior Seau killed himself I thought about my buddy.

I thought about all of the people who "just give up living and start dying little by little and piece by piece,"

And I thought of Jim Valvano, the old college basketball coach who while dying of cancer begged his audience:

"Don't quit. Don't ever quit."

I know my buddy was loved. I know his family misses him horribly. I know he could have found his way. Life is hope. Hope is always possible. Keep the faith.

Keep punching.

Don't quit.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Stupid, Stupid, Stupid

There are millions upon millions of really stupid people in the world, aren't there?

And it's all relative, by the way, there are people much smarter than me that believe that I'm stupid and in a lot of instances they are correct.

But what do you think when you see this photo?


Evidently this is a shot of a very tan woman from Pennsylvania who is being charged with allowing her five or six year old kid to go tanning in one of those stupid freaking beds. If it's true, she should be charged. Hell, they should just charge her for thinking she looks good.

Or how about this guy?


I don't really care how people look. Hell, I don't even care how I look most of the time, but WTF as the kids say. There has to be a reason, right?

Not sure what look this guy was going for either.


Or this one:


No, that is not me from my younger days, but in one of the above two photos I must tell you that one of the guys shown is smarter than me. Just ask him.


No explanation required. I'm sure they are smart people. I shouldn't just label them off the one shot.

This guy is definitely smarter than me.


These guys are so lacking in brain power that it hurts. They may be even worse than the tanning lady:


Enjoy your day.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Stolen Blog- Show Up and Shut Up

This was sent to me by a principal...it was written by a principal. It was a lot like a speech I gave about a year ago. Every kid heading out the door should read it! The principal's name is Michael Smith and this wasn't used by permission.

1). Life stinks.

It’s hard and complicated. Nothing about life even remotely resembles what you see on commercials or in vacation brochures.

Life isn’t a sitcom. It’s a drama. Or tragedy. Depends on how lucky you get.

Your parents and grandparents have traveled a difficult path to get you here, so now it’s your turn.

Hold on, it’s going to be a bumpy road.

2). Happiness.

Today you are happy. There will be hugs. And gifts. And cake.

Tomorrow you will wake up unemployed and deeply in debt.

Happiness will have left the building.

This situation will improve for some of you. Others will continue to wake up unemployed and deeper in debt for years to come.

I paid off my last student loan at the age of 35. I got lucky. That’s early.

Take my advice and expect the worse. That way, if life doesn’t consistently kick you in the face you will be pleased.

Just for the record, anticipate a lot of face-kicking.

3). Don’t Screw Things Up.

Just do what you are supposed to do. Mow your yard. Pay your bills (if you can find a job). Be polite. Volunteer once in a while. Don’t cheat on your taxes too much.

You will find yourself in the top 10% if you just pick up your trash and hold doors open for old ladies.

Don’t leave here thinking you are going to make the world a better place in the next 20 minutes.

We don’t need more saviors. We need solid citizens who don’t make things worse.

This sounds easy, but as you stumble through life look around and you’ll notice a lot of people who aren’t helping.

If you don’t believe me go to the mall and watch people walk by for 15 minutes and you will understand exactly what I’m saying.

4). Get Married or Shack Up.

I don’t care which one you do and I’m not here to judge. I don’t care about your personal life because I have problems of my own (she’s 11 going on 37).

But when you do hitch your wagon to someone else try and pick someone you like.

Don’t do it for money. Or looks. Or so his or her dad will give you that job that you desperately need.

Marry (or not) a person who will make you smile 70 years from now.

Life is short, but bad relationships are forever.

There is nothing worse than eating breakfast with someone you want to stab in the eye with a fork (or so I’m told).

5). Don’t Reproduce and Mate Smartly.

This is an important one.

If you are unemployed, in debt, immature, hung over, angry at your parents, wear sweat pants more than once a week, or dumb – please don’t think you have to bring children into this world.

They are lot of work. And expensive.

Once you have them, the government won’t let you give them away (learned this one the hard way).

Life is a marathon not a sprint. You don’t have to have children in your 20’s. Or at all.

Just because people ask you "When are you having kids?" doesn’t mean you have to do it. Most of the time they are just asking because they have children and want you to feel the pain and suffering they go through on a daily basis.

If you must reproduce, realize it is very likely you will be just as bad a parent as your mom and dad.

Think about this before you go to the bar and start hitting on another unemployed broke person.

Don’t create another human just so you can mess them up like your parents did you. That’s not fair.

To you. The child. Or the rest of us.

6). Your Parents.

They aren’t crying today because you are all grown up. They are crying tears of joy.

They are tired of paying for you. They want their house back. And their lives. They are tired of you tearing up their stuff.

They no longer find a 2:00 am phone call from you amusing. There is no such thing as a "minor" traffic accident when you are driving their car.

Look at them. They used to be young and vibrate, then you showed up. Now they are old and tired.

Tired of you. Tired of your laundry. Tired of your bills.

Sure, they will say you are welcome to move back home until you get on your feet, but what they really want is you out of their hair and at least 2 hours away.

They only have a few good years left. Don’t ruin it for them by mooching off them for the next decade.

Allowances are for kids. Not 25 year olds.

You will know life is winning if you are sleeping in the same bed you occupied when you were nine.

Also, adults don’t have posters on their bedroom walls.

7). Take Care of Your Health.

We are all day-to-day.

Life is short and soon you will be dead. This is one of those things people won’t tell you.

But I guarantee you, not one person in this room will make it out of life alive.

Enjoy the few days or years you have left.

Old people will constantly tell you life goes fast. They’re right.

They didn’t get to be old by being stupid.

Certain days will drag on and on, but the weeks, months, and years fly by. Faster than you can ever imagine.

The moments are precious. In fact, as I stand here I’m asking myself why I wasted the last several minutes talking to you.

Slow down when you get a chance. Don’t be in a hurry. Take a nap at every opportunity, because this journey called life, while quick, is exhausting.

8). Credit Cards.

Cut them up. Pay cash. Understand the difference between a want and a need.

Don’t try and keep up with the Jones’ down the street because it’s highly likely they are up to their….. in debt.

You don’t need a boat, horse, pool, motorcycle, 12 bathrooms, or a vacation home to be happy.

New cars are for suckers. Never invest in a sure thing. Stay out of Las Vegas.

Understand the stock market always drops.

Always save for a rainy day, because all of us are about 30 seconds away from a monsoon.

True happiness is not tensing up when the phone rings because you think it might be a bill collector.

True happiness is having at least $1 more at the end of the month than you need.

9). Diplomas

They mean nothing.

It’s a piece of paper. A piece of paper you could have printed up for yourself 4 years ago (it’s called Photoshop people).

Life is about who you know and being in the right place at the right time.

Some of you will obtain doctorates and fail miserably.

Others of you will know people who dropped out of high school and have become quite successful.

Life isn’t fair.

The sooner you figure this out, the better off you’ll be.

Don’t be afraid to work. No job is beneath you.

You don’t get a fancy office and a big title just because you cheated your way through school.

You get those things after you work hard, not before.

10). Expectations

Set them low. Really low.

Hope for the best, but expect the absolute worst.

The odds of you being great aren’t good.

That takes luck. And a job. And more luck.

Set your sights on being mediocre.

Mediocre is fine. Mediocre can make you very happy.

The world is full of mediocre people. There is only one Bill Gates. There’s lots of you.

In conclusion, I would like to share the secret to life.

A wise old man once told me to "Show up and shut up." I suggest you do the same.

Good luck. You are going to need it.

Fun While It Lasted

Welp. They’re coming for the Internet. Yesterday’s vote means that your service provider can slow things down, certain sites may now hav...