Friday, August 31, 2012

And Then There's This

Listen, I'm a baseball fan...probably one of the more passionate baseball fans in the world, but man, this made me cringe:

In Calgary, a man died early Sunday because he disagreed with another man about the Blue Jays' pitching staff.

According to the Calgary Herald, Brian Ludwig was arguing with another man about the Blue Jays' pitchers. The two decided to "take it outside" and as their fight was winding down, a third person came in and threw what witnesses called a "sucker punch."

Ludwig was hit on the back of the head and taken to a hospital, where he was later pronounced dead, according to the report. An autopsy revealed the cause of death was blunt force trauma. Scott Robert Hooser, 27, has been charged with manslaughter.

Alcohol, of course, was involved.

You see, I have a healthy give and take with a bunch of Red Sux fans, a couple of clueless Mets fans, and even fans of the hapless Phillies, and oh yeah, don't forget the World Series patsies, the Atlanta Braves and those perennial losers the Cubs.

But I never got overly angry with any of them, even when the 27-Time-World-Champion- Greatest-Franchise-in-the-history-of-sports-New York Yankees lost.

What the hell could they have been arguing about anyway?

The Blow Jays are in last place.

Their pitching staff blows.

Why were the men fighting?

Any who ha...

The Yankees have been playing like the Phillies lately, but I still wouldn't fight anyone over it.

Even if they were as bad the Red Sux

Or as painful to watch as the New York Mess.

How can anyone be a fan of the Braves with that chop going on all game long?

Truthfully, that might make me fight.

And I don't wanna' hear anything from Pittsburgh or Baltimore either.

This is the first time either of those cities has seen baseball in about 25 years.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Every once in awhile a story truly horrifies, doesn't it?

Have you seen the photo of the little girl from Niagara Falls who was presumed murdered by two teenagers?

It makes you not even want to pick up the paper or turn on the news.

"They should have shot those kids on the spot," someone said.

"They need to be killed immediately!!!" Someone else shouted on Facebook.

Is that the way to go with this?

I'm asking.

Because we don't seem to have much of a handle on violence in this country. When it happens in our's even more difficult to handle.


"Violence begets violence," an old college professor once told me. "If we solve violence through violent means we are celebrating the very act committed by those we are trying to stop."

That really made sense to me.

When I was an idealistic kid.

But man, I was rocked yesterday by the photo of that pretty little girl.

I almost agreed with those on Facebook.

An eye for an eye. A life for a life. You kill, we kill.

You started it.

Thirty years after listening to that college professor it pains me to say that I still agree with him.

Violence isn't the answer to violence.

We really need to unclog the drain instead of bailing the water.

The problem, of course, is how do we stop it?

Can we?

The older version of that idealistic guy seems to think that we are going to just bail water forever.

And that doesn't do anything for the senseless victims of the animals running around our streets.

I'm not sure that it's even worse now than it was 30 years ago, but I know one thing for certain:

Even one of these murders really rocks me to the core.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sick of Myself

I've been at this blog since November 12, 2007. At least one post a day...sometimes two.

As my college buddy Rosie described my writing career:

"Blah, blah, blah, blah, freaking blah."

When I wanted to be a writer a friend of mine, Zane, said:

"Shut-up and write."

I listened to him. So many words.

And the thing about it is that I'm trying to condense the words I'd written into a few hundred so that we can make a book about Thoughts of a Common Man.

I thought it would be fun.

It's not.

"Blah, blah, blah, blah, freaking blah."

Yet there are certainly a few realizations. I had never re-read anything. Write it, hit the button, let it out there. Re-reading your own stuff is weird. But truth be told, I've laughed at a few lines.

I recruited a few friends to pick out some of their favorites - Thank you Barb - and then I set in to reading.

--- It's weird to watch the kids grow up during the time set aside for the blog.

--- The pain is all right there. Wide open. As honest as I can be.

--- I'm real obnoxious when it comes to the 27-Time World Champion, First-place, greatest franchise ever, New York Yankees.

--- I don't like Lance Armstrong.

--- Friends, Family and Love have prominent roles.

--- I'm real tired of myself about now.

But I can see the vision of my publisher. The people who work there are the real talented people.

My contribution:

"Blah, blah, blah, blah, freaking blah."

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Let's Save Togo

I've never been to the West African country of Togo but there are times when I feel like I could live there.

The women of Togo are banding together.

They are planning to withhold sex from their men until they get what they want.

Come on, now...women don't do they?

Yet I find it interesting because I am certain that if women could get their act together they would certainly rule the world.

A woman president, you ask?

Yep, there would be one. All she would have to do is to convince the other women of the world to do what they're doing in Togo.

"Vote for me or else."

Come on, men...who would you vote for? You think having gun rights is important? Just wait until the other rights are infringed upon.

I'd be interested to see how it all works out as well. The women of Togo are banding together for civil rights.

Will all of them be able to abstain?

I can almost imagine the scene.

"There's a woman on the west side of town who isn't part of the movement! Let's go see her!"

I'm not sure that women here in America ever use sex as a weapon.

What do you think men?


Soul search for me here.

Has there ever been a moment when you've prostituted your position for a dinner? To get the lawn mowed? To cheer up the grumpy bastard moping around the house?

It's an interesting concept.

We started last week with two women being accepted into Augusta. We start this week with a story about women banding together for civil rights.

Is there a revolution afoot?

At least we still can buy semi-automatic weapons through the mail.

Monday, August 27, 2012

I Wish My Kids Saw Dad In His Prime

My Dad once told me, and I figure that I was about 17 or 18 years old at the time, that 90% of the people "you meet as you walk through life are blatant assholes who are out only for themselves."

There are days when I think that Dad's estimate was too low.

There are days when I imagine that he was being a bit cynical.

Yet on Friday night I read a post from Matt on Facebook as he praised Lance Armstrong.

We all know what I think of dear d-bag Lance, right?

I've been his biggest critic since about 2000. I saw through him from day one. Sorry. He fit directly into the group of people that my Dad was talking about, and while I didn't have any proof, I just felt it in my heart. He seemed to me to have built his foundation on shaky ground. He struck me as a fraud, a cheat, and in that blatant category.

I still might be wrong, mind you, I never met the man, but there's evidence pointing in the direction.

But an argument ensued.

"He's done so much good for people," Matt screamed.

"He did it under false pretenses," I said. "And I'm thinking he did it from the point-of-view of a cheating heart rather than a warm heart. He sold rubber braclets for $75 to cancer patients."

"He raised all that money!"

"So he could amass a fortune!"

And on and on it went.

And I can give two poops about Lance Armstrong, honestly, and I don't want my boys to run off in the world completely distrusting of the motives of every human that crosses their path, but come all laughed at Dad's sense of logic because on some levels, he was right.

He was right a lot.

And he had a very colorful way of presenting information.

Unfortunately as I have moved through the world I've been widely skeptical of men who have tried to sell me their bill of goods by showing their honor.

Believe none of what you read and only half of what you see.

Lance came out the other day and told us that he is still 100% innocent but that he was exhausted from fighting the people who are doing a witch hunt.

"Why are they hunting him?" I asked Matt.

"They're jealous," he said.

"If you were 100% innocent of something would you stop prove it?"

"He's a great guy and they picked on him for nothing," Matt cried out. "I'd rather believe in the good he did."

That's a healthy attitude. See the good in everyone.

But keep one eye open for the blatant a-holes.

That's all I wish for.

That and the eternal wish that my boys had heard life lessons straight from Dad's mouth.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


Don't you wish we could use that button from time-to-time in our real lives?

Got drunk and made an ass of yourself?


How about that bad relationship?


Grave mistake at work?


Nasty word to someone you love?


Cheat while you were winning 7 Tour De France Competitions?


Then lied about cheating?


Drowned dogs that didn't fight well for you?


Murdered your ex-wife and her companion the waiter?


It would be nice, but life just doesn't work like that.

Unfortunately self-knowledge usually appears at the precise moment after you've seriously f-ed something up.

It's too bad we can't immediately place our fingers on the exact right buttons to eliminate the mistake.

Of course, I've always heard that hitting the CTRL-ALT-DELETE buttons too many times does something to the internal workings of the computer.

I would imagine.

Perhaps it's best to just face up to the mistakes and live with the consequences.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Beat to Death With a Coffee Mug

Perhaps there should be an expiration date on wedded bliss.

I was absolutely flabbergasted by the story of the 70-year-old woman who banged her 80-year old husband over the head with a coffee mug and then allegedly used a piece of the broken mug to slit his freaking throat!

Are you kidding me?

Is this my future?

What the hell did the guy do?

Put the creamer bowl down in the wrong spot?

And sometimes that's all it takes in a long-term arrangement. I know a bunch of couples who've been together for a long, long time. If you didn't know better you'd think they were mortal enemies instead of partners for life.

A few weeks back we were at church and part of the ceremony was to honor a couple that was together for 50 years.

Everyone was oohing and ahhing.

Except for me.

I turned to my Wonderful Aunt Rosalie who is into her 80's and certainly misses my Uncle Herb.

"That poor bastard," I whispered.

I know, I was church!

Yet we were at an outside mass so it didn't really count.

My Aunt laughed.

But there has to be a ton of hate built up to kill someone in such a manner, huh?

I just don't get it.

Then again, last week as I waited in Boston for my wife's motor to get running to start the day I silently thanked God above that I was sipping coffee out of a Styrofoam cup.

Just kidding!

Beautiful wife.

Something tells me that the whole thing is going to go down in the exact opposite manner.

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Man's World

On the day when Augusta National finally admitted two women as members Rhianna was on Oprah talking about Chris Brown and how he is the love of her life despite the fact that he gave her a beat down.

One step up and two steps back, ladies.

First off, on the golf deal.

Really? Is it that big of a deal?

Why did it take so long?

My only problem with it is that one the day I finally get to play Augusta it'll be in the cart with the two women in it right in front of me. The round will take me 12 hours as I wait for them to apply their makeup.

(Just kidding, of course).

I haven't had a lot of experience playing golf with women. My wife has no interest. I actually took my mother out once and she never got the ball off the ground. She laughed a lot though, and believe it or not I was worried that we were holding up some guy in a Dale Earnhardt cut-off T.

My mother should be able to do anything she wants anywhere in the world.

And that's the way I break it down.

We all should be able to do what we want. We are free. Blacks shouldn't be excluded. Gays shouldn't be excluded. Women shouldn't be excluded.

So play golf. About time.

But this Rhianna nut job?

Why are you still talking about the guy who bashed your teeth in?

And shouldn't you be talking about what an asshole he is rather than how much you love him cause he's a good guy?

I understand that you're trying to stay relevant, but why would you paint that man in any other light than the one he painted himself in when he hauled off and whacked you?


Doesn't playing the vulnerable victim set women back a long ways on the same day when men allowed you the right to hit a ball with a stick on the same piece of lawn as us?

It's just amazing that we are still talking about some of these things 2012 years into it.

You know who should be banned from places?

Yeah, Chris Brown and guys like him.

It's a man's world, ladies.

Wasn't he a featured performer on the Grammy's?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Reaching Back

There are a ton of Italian Restaurants on Hanover Street in Boston. I'd heard the stories for years by friends who'd spent time in a few. No one really knew which was the best one so last week my beautiful wife and I just walked the streets and checked the menus posted on the doors.

I could have made due at any of the places. Kathy, on the other hand, was searching for a few choices that would satisfy her limited likes.

We settled on one and the waiter headed for the table. He was a very dark man and his English was broken as he raced his way through the specials. My mouth was already watering. The aroma of the place was either garlic and olive oil or olive oil and garlic.

I hit on the first appetizer. Moments later, I was 15 years old again.

You see, we knew that Grandma was making lunch every summer day. A big lunch. We were always invited.

"Let's go to Grandma's," someone would mention around eleven in the morning. And off we'd go.

The waiter placed the dish in front of me.

Bread, cheese, Italian meats, pickled eggplant, roasted red peppers, fresh basil, olive oil.

I inhaled it.

Grandma served it every day. She'd fry the meat in olive oil. The sauce on the pasta and the vegetables mixed in were the only things that changed. It was usually short macaroni.

I ordered seafood mixed with mine in a marinara sauce. I normally stay clear of red sauces because Dad and Grandma...and me...and my siblings...all make it way better.


I thought about picking up the bowl and drinking the sauce that was left after I finished my meal.

"How is it?" Grandma used to ask.

"You know how good it is," I used to say.

The waiter returned to our table. He smiled at the completely empty dishes around me. I was wiping up the sauce with the very last piece of bread.

"How was your meal?" he asked.

"Made me think of days long ago," I said.

"Good," he answered. "I'm glad."

He seemed to know exactly what I was talking about.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

My Dream Car

I've never been much of a car freak. I know guys who can tell you the make and model of a car as it screams down the street at 55 MPH.

"That's a '72," my brother John might say to my brother Jim.

How do they know? Who gives a poop?

One of my dream cars is pictured above.

Yep...the Scooby mobile.

I'd take that van and have it custom-painted like the van used by the gang as they solved crimes.

Or this one:

The Wally Wagon from Vacation. Our family had a couple of those. We drove one of my Dad's into the ground. There was so much room. We spilled a lot of food on the carpet of that car.

And man all it did was run perfectly.

Yet lately I've actually been thinking of one other vehicle.

You see as we grew up Dad would take us to the dumps in a Ford pickup truck. I recall one of them being light yellow. I'm sure there were other colors.

Dad would set us on his lap and allow us to steer as he coasted down Shirley Road. We all took turns.

I don't know the years of those old trucks. I'm sure Jim and John can recite the year and model and when the hell they met with their destruction.

I just know that the old feelings stir inside when I see one on the road somewhere.

"You should get one," John said. "You can work on it and get 'er running."

He laughed.

Doesn't he know that I changed out a taillight?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I'm Not Listening

I will not be a participant in the presidential election this year. I may still vote, mind you, but I swear to God I'm not going to get caught up in any discussions.

We've proved it all by now.

We're a house divided.

People who want guns are willing to shoot those who don't. People who want a free ride are willing to bash the establishment. Those who make million dollar bonuses because they're smart enough to find the loopholes want nothing to do with the downtrodden.

There's no sense in discussing it.

And it occurred to me that I've never listened to a Mitt Romney speech and I haven't heard Obama say anything in about four years.

I'm not interested.

The rhetoric of four years ago infuriated me. All the crap we were told was absolute bullshit. None of it really happened, did it?

And then we found out that the Palin choice was a scam. Those on that side didn't even believe what she was saying.

The end of all of it came for me the other day when I saw a photo of Bush that painted him as a great leader.

The machine rolls on.

Depending upon which side you're listening to we are either witnessing the greatest leadership in the history of the world, or we are about a month away from absolute collapse.

And it won't matter one bit to me.

"What about the kids? They will be paying for this forever. Your grandchildren will be in a real mess."

You know what?

I don't care.

Let them fend for themselves because what the hell am I going to do about it?

"You need to get yourself a semi-automatic," my brother-in-law chided me the other day. "When the world comes calling you're going to want to defend your family."

He was certainly just trying to draw me in.

I wouldn't take the bait.

"Send me a pamphlet," I said.

"We all need guns. We need to shoot the illegal immigrants and the poor," my brother-in-law said. "Enough is enough."

"You're right," I said.

"You're absolutely right."

I ain't listening.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Working on My Car

Check this out.

A couple of weeks ago I went to a job site visit at the University at Buffalo. I parked my car in a huge lot and went out walking. When I returned that is what I saw.

A broken taillight!

I even checked the car to make sure it was mine.

And the reason I was so perplexed was because whoever had hit me had taken the time to clean up the broken glass.

"Are you kidding me?" I yelled.

I texted maintenance and my wife responded with:

"It's no big deal."

Yet it is a big deal to an obsessive-compulsive man.

"I'm not driving around like this for a month," I said.

I was tempted to pay a couple of hundred bucks to fix it...immediately!

Yet I waited.

We ordered the new light. It came in quickly. It sat in the front room for an evening.

"Why don't you replace it?" Kathy asked. "Maybe you can do might make you feel like a man."

Isn't that nice?

So, Sunday morning, after church, I grabbed a screwdriver.

It took me a matter of minutes to take out the broken light and change it out. I lingered out there for a little while.

I wanted my neighbors to look out the window and say to one another, over breakfast:

"Cliff is out working on his car."

I headed back to the house. Everything worked. I wish I had a little oil I could dab on my forehead.

"Where were you?" Kathy asked as she started her morning motor with caffeine and nicotine.

"Just out being manly," I said.

"About time," she answered.

Isn't that nice?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Dream Baby Dream

I've been to a lot of Springsteen shows. 30 to be exact. All of them were highly anticipated. Not a single one of them fell below expectations. Wednesday night, about one song in it occurred to me that perhaps I was seeing a special one.

Bruce came on doing Take Me Out to the Ballgame. He did a pitcher's windup. The first pitch he threw was a beauty.

Thunder Road with just Roy playing the piano behind him.

Instantly I thought of my siblings. I thought of singing it without any music playing at all as Jeff worked with me to figure out the words. We'd been on a porch in Fort Meyers, Florida. 25 years ago.

So you're scared and you're thinking that maybe we ain't that young anymore.

I waited for the next line.

Show a little faith there's magic in the night.

And there was so much magic. And just as he's been all of my adult life Bruce was in the center of the magic. He sang. He mugged. He ate a hot dog. He mugged some more. He guzzled a beer.

And he kept reaching back into the past.

Usually I just sit back and wait and the moment of the concert comes to me. What struck me right between the eyes on Wednesday was one simple line in Backstreets.

Trying in vain to walk like the heroes we thought we had to be.

We didn't have to be heroes. We didn't have to be the best. We just had to live. We just had to laugh. We just had to dream, baby dream.

I just wanna' see you smile.

Bruce sang that line ten times in a voice reserved for someone who wants to hang themselves.

He knows what he's doing.

The pain builds up. He just wanted a smile.

And man I smiled a lot. Right on through to the the end...

Hiding on the Backstreets, hiding on the backstreets, hiding on the backstreets....19 times he says it. 19 times every time.

"We got time for one more," Bruce said in the moment after I turned to my beautiful wife and said:

"That might be the best show we've ever seen."

And he did it for me again.

He played American Land.

My brother's favorite song.

"I want to see him again tomorrow," Kathy said as we tried to file out of Fenway Park.

Yeah, me too.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Boston is Beautiful

My beautiful wife is a bit leisurely in the morning. As we all know, I'm a bit of a nut bag. We both understand that. Things work out most of the time because we don't spend the casual, on her hand, mornings together. I get up and get out and she relaxes with a coffee and a cigarette.

We had a full day planned in Boston the morning after the concert. My only agenda was a great Italian meal somewhere and to see a bit of the city. We hit the ground crawling. The day started like this:


Then Kathy was struck with an idea. We'd take that above shuttle to the airport and leave our bags so we didn't have to carry them around all day, and more importantly so we wouldn't have to swing by the hotel to pick them up on the way back. To be fair, I thought it was a good idea. I went along with it as well because I'm not allowed to make decisions that have anything to do with fixing something or directions.

One problem:

You can't check a bag more than 4 hours before a flight. So, the next three hours went like this.

Cigarette and coffee as we waited for the shuttle to the airport.
At the airport the bad news was broken.
Call the shuttle to take the bags back to the hotel.
Wait for the shuttle to take us back.
Cigarette break!
Shuttle arrives.
Back to hotel.
Dropped bags.
Miss shuttle back to subway!!
Another coffee!
We sit down on the shuttle!!!

I get a text.

"Are you having fun yet?" Kathy asked.

That's when it hits me.

I'm Steve Martin and she's John Candy in Planes Trains and Automobiles.

I'm DeNiro and she's Charles Grodin in Midnight Run.

We finally break above ground as the Subway lets us off in the North End. I start walking and looking around.

"What's the hurry?" my beautiful wife asks. "Let's sit for a minute. I need a cigarette. Isn't this a pretty city?"

Thankfully we made it home on time.

Thankfully she made it home at all.

Friday, August 17, 2012

What a Week It's Been

It really started with the pepper party where Jim took the crown away from Pops in a stunning upset, and truth be told out of the 23 entries 10 of them could have won first without an argument. Believe it or not it was virtually impossible to try all of the entries, but everyone there gave it a go.

And the whole love thing continued on Sunday with the softball tournament. The above photo captures some of the fun, but Corinne didn't get into that particular photo because she didn't stop working from 9 a.m. to close. We have one with all of us and I'll get my hand on it sooner or later. I just know that we'll all live off that day for the rest of the year. Friends, family, life itself.

Good for the soul.

On Monday I went to work despite the fact that I was walking as if there were a big long stick rammed in a bad spot. Every step I took had the following dialogue:

"Oh God, Oh God, Oh God."

The shots to relieve pain in my groin and hip were right on time on Tuesday. It, of course comes with an interesting exchange.

A couple of months ago I went in for the MRI of the area. It was a procedure that also included shots in the groin area so I could get contrast added. The young nurse - about 25, and pretty was a little timid in her approach.

"Your shorts have to come down to your knees. I'll cover you as best as I can."

She had a hand towel.

"You're gonna' need a bigger towel," I said.

Her face went beet red.

Cue to Tuesday.

"Same procedure as last time," the girl said. "I have a bigger towel."

We both laughed.

And the rest of the day I stayed down and I felt weird, but there was relief.

Enough relief to board a plane and head to Boston for the Boss (30th concert) with a real quick turnaround so I could get another day of work in before the week ended.

(Review coming soon).

The first new book is heading to the editor. I'll keep you posted on the release date.

The second book will continue to be worked on. I'm hoping to get that one to the publisher by the end of September.

Life is best being lived.

A wise man once told me:

"Celebrate your life instead of trying to understand it."

I did that this week.

Back to brooding Cliffy next week.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wings & Booze & Gannon & Hapless

30 years ago this September I walked into my dorm room at Gannon University. A couple of days after that I met another 18 year-old Italian-American guy with a last name so long it was shortened into a nickname. Gag turned out to be a lifelong buddy.

Fast-forward to Saturday afternoon.

Gag's kid and my kid split two orders of Buffalo wings. You see, Michael wanted real chicken wings in Buffalo. He eats them like a champ too, the hotter the better.

And the above photo was important to me on a lot of levels. There's something to be said for your kids hanging with your friend's kids.

And the trip was important for another reason as well.

I'm holding a bottle of Jamesons - 12-year-old Jamesons.

It's payment for a bet when the 27-Time World Champion Yankees whipped the hapless Phillies to capture the World Series.

We shared the booze at the pepper party.

"It's going to be gone," Gag said.

"Don't worry the Yankees will win more," I responded.

And I did a lot of thinking about the 30 years and the lives that we both built since that first awkward meeting back at Gannon University.

Who could have ever imagined the paths we'd be on?

I was eternally grateful that Michael enjoyed the wings.

I was even more grateful that my friends made the trip. Our wives got along wonderfully. Our children enjoyed one another's company, and we caught up and laughed a lot.

Life is good sometimes.

It really is.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Newlyweds Butting Heads

Well, believe it or not there was another football player in the news over the weekend.

Heard about it?

I'll try to catch you up.

Chad came into the league with the surname Johnson. He was issued number 85 with the Bengals and he liked the number so much he changed his last name to Chad Ochocinco...which if my Spanish is correct isn't even 85. It's ochenta y cinco.


He was a decent player. Not great, decent, but he was always driving the Bengals crazy. The got rid of him eventually and he sort of bounced around.

He was absolutely pitiful last year with New England because he couldn't grasp the playbook. So, he lost his job.

Chad blamed it on the fact that the Pats were stifling his winning personality. He even made reference to the fact that he was sick of his name.

Chad Johnson signed with Miami. He told his new employer that he was going back to being himself. He even went and got himself married. He would not rest until he was back on track to the Hall of Fame, which no one mentioned he was on track, except for Chad Ochocinco.

The honeymoon didn't last long.

His new bride found 42 condoms in his personal space. Evidently they didn't have much call for condoms so she asked him about it.

An argument ensued.

The new Chad couldn't restrain himself. He wanted to be true to his form. He allegedly ended the argument with a headbutt.

He headbutted his wife!!!!

I asked my beautiful wife if that would be a deal-breaker.

"I'd beat the living shit out of you," she said.

The Dolphins did the right thing.

Did you hear me?

A team did the right thing!

They cut Chad.

Hopefully the rest of the league follows suit.

Hall-of-Fame, Ochocinco???

Buy a ticket.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Life At It's Best

Just another incredible day for the 2nd Thunder Road Memorial Softball Tourney in honor of Jeff.

I am having a hard time thinking about all the people who need to be thanked. From people who traveled hundreds of cousins from Baltimore are tremendous...special thank you to Dave Neisser and Mary Ann for scoring the loot that made the auction a success.

And the auction!

Terrie, Kim, and about a hundred other people who made such wonderful baskets, and then we just happen to have the most organized person in the world to run it.

Corinne is the greatest, but we all knew that.

And my college buddies Gag and Terry who made the trip...amazing. (More on Gag's family visit this week).

And my oh man. And my Mom. And my beautiful wife and kids. The love makes your heart swell to Grinch-like sizes.

Jan Mathis ran the tourney itself and umped the games and even called me out without reason a couple of times, but he just went above and beyond. And the Grape Apes? Jeff Renaldo and Jeff Popple and Chris Miller and Larry Bowman and Chuck Leone and Frank Montaldi and the Cataldos and all the Colantinos?

It doesn't get any better. (Sorry if I left anyone out...and I did).

And I swear there are about a hundred more people to thank.

And I do thank you and love you for showing the Fuzzy's that there is so much love out there for us.

Raw deal?

You bet...but days like Sunday.

Man...gonna' cry.

And I can't afford to cry because everything hurts. I didn't really run, but I was standing a lot and I was on base a lot.

(Because I am still a tremendous hitter).

Ask me about the moment when they made me run the bases and eat an item of food at each base in order to give away a door prize.

Final count?

24 Stuffed peppers (over 2 days - I'm not a pig), enchilada (thanks Shannon), Hot dog, two meatballs (great Kim), another Mexican food, a SPAM sandwich.

I made my eating trip around the bases in three minutes and 15 seconds.

The running slowed me down.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

2012 Pepper Party!

Remember Christmas when you were a kid?

You'd be wide awake, looking at the clock, counting the minutes until you'd get out of bed, right?

There was a little of that going into the weekend.

The Fuzzy-Palooza was upon us.

Of course there was a bit of work mixed in.

I shopped for the ingredients, thinking up the pepper recipe with an eye on trying something a little different this year.

I have little chance of winning the contest because Pops has turned it into his own personal quest.

Reminds me of when Betty Rubble and Wilma Flintstone won the baking contest with their Upside-Down-Flint-Rubble-Double Cake.

It isn't about the winning though. We are all well aware that if he were around the guy who started this event would have won it every year anyway. We all like to think we can cook...Jeff was an artist.

Yet the entire weekend is about a lot of fun and seeing how many peppers we can stuff in our faces.

Sam was beside me as I prepared my entries this year. For the record he did watch me wash my hands before I got started.

"Wow, that'a a lot of work," he said as I cored the second bag of peppers.

"A lot of cheese too," he added.

There will be a bunch of photos added to document the 2012 pepper party.

I may even get a chance to have a drink with the winner.

And then on to the benefit softball tournament for Jeff's kids.

Is it any wonder I can't sleep?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Through the Years

Heard this song today on Sirius XM Radio. Why I decided to blog the lyrics? Because one day, on a return home from college (and I may have written this before) I saw Mom and Dad dancing to the song and Dad singing it. Being married for 124 years to my own beautiful wife I know of what Kenny Rogers was speaking, and exactly how my Dad felt.

Kenny Rogers wrote this...just borrowing it.

I can't remember when you weren't there
When I didn't care for anyone but you
I swear we've been through everything there is
Can't imagine anything we've missed
Can't imagine anything the two of us can't do

Through the years, you've never let me down
You turned my life around, the sweetest days I've found
I've found with you ... Through the years
I've never been afraid, I've loved the life we've made
And I'm so glad I've stayed, right here with you
Through the years

I can't remember what I used to do
Who I trusted, who I listened to before
I swear you taught me everything I know
Can't imagine needing someone so
But through the years it seems to me
I need you more and more

Through the years, through all the good and bad
I KNOW how much we had, I've always been so glad
To be with you ... Through the years
It's better every day, you've kissed my tears away
As long as it's okay, I'll stay with you
Through the years

Through the years, when everything went wrong
Together we were strong, I know that I belong
Right here with you ... Through the years
I never had a doubt, we'd always work things out
I've learned what life's about, by loving you
Through the years

Through the years, you've never let me down
You've turned my life around, the sweetest days I've found
I've found with you ... Through the years
It's better every day, you've kissed my tears away
As long as it's okay, I'll stay with you
Through the years..

Friday, August 10, 2012

Where's the Love that Has Not Forsaken Me

A mad rush here in Fuzzy land this weekend.

On Wednesday my wonderful sister-in-law flew down to North Carolina. On Thursday my two wonderful sisters-in-law brought the kids up. John, Farrah and Rocco got out of the car a few hundred feet from my brother John's home and they ran through the grass to where we were standing. Of course John and I lifted them off the ground and hugged them so tightly.

Yet there was no time for a long drawn-out scene. Johnny had a ticket to the football game and my boys were waiting for them in our driveway where my beautiful wife was ready to whisk them the last mile to the game.

I just had to drive Johnny the 15 miles or so.

"Is Bruce still singing?" he asked me as he sat down.

My heart leaped in my chest.

"Wanna' hear some?"


I played him American Land, of course, and then he wanted to hear the new songs. He just kept tapping his feet.

I had planned my seeing him again. I scooped all of the wheat pennies I'd been saving for him over the last six months.

Jeff loved wheat pennies. He'd sift through the penny jars at the convenience stores until he found them.

"I have a whole bunch of these," Johnny said.

I filled his hands with a lot more.

We chatted back and forth about everything. The distance hasn't been that great because we've all kept in great touch and Johnny and Sam play video games together on the headset.

"I can't wait to run in the tournament on Sunday," he said.

"It's going to be a blast."

"I know, I can't wait."

I rubbed the top o9f his head about seven times as we drove. The big brown Fuzzy eyes stared back at me.

Bruce was singing from We Take Care of Our Own.

Where's the love that has not forsaken me?

I found some of it, Bruce.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Forever and Ever Amen

We've all danced to that song, huh?

Well, I don't usually would be more construed as a seizure.

Speaking of seizures, what the hell is Randy Travis up to?

He was allegedly arrested for drunk driving after crashing his car...a 2nd weird drinking deal with him...but the best part of the story is that he stripped down naked and allegedly told the cops that he was going to shoot and kill them for responding to the allegedly drunken wreck.

What always gets me about that is the next day realizations.

I have been there once or twice.

Back in college I'd get a few reports on things I'd done. That's scary. Thank God it's over for me.

I also think of the guy who was allegedly drinking when he drove the Exxon-Valdez into the iceberg.

Can you imagine how he felt the next morning?

"I spilled what?"

How do you live it all down if you're Randy Travis?

Smashed car, DWI charges, and freaking naked????

I did what?????

Ah well. Not surprising.

Dopey, dipshit behavior comes for us all from time-to-time, doesn't it?

He should apply to sing the opening to the Monday Night NFL contests.

He'd fit in perfectly.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Grab Bag

Man summer is busy, isn't it? I was just thinking about what we have planned in the next couple of weeks and I told my buddy, Gag:

"I'm screwed."

But looking forward to a little fun and a lot of work.

What do you want to talk about?

1). Isn't it crazy that when the news reports something about "the shooter" we don't know which shooter they're talking about?

Would that be the guy in Wisconsin or the guy in Arizona or the guy in Colorado?

Remember - guns don't kill people!!!!

Did you ever hear of someone breaking into a church and punching 7 people to death?

2). Obama and Romney have raised millions and millions of dollars to run for president. You know what might win the election for one of them?

If they donated the money to something useful and said that they'd like for that to stand as their statement of election.

Sure beats spending all that cash to make stump speeches filled with promises that can't ever come true.

3). By the way why is our right to own a gun more important than our right to have affordable healthcare?

People will fight for the gun rights.

Healthcare for the impoverished?

That's bullshit, right?

4). Just read a disturbing story about a man shooting his wife.

It's even more disturbing than that. The wife was in the intensive care at the hospital and the man entered and shot her to supposedly put her out of her misery.

You still can't do that!

If it were legal, my wife would have put me out of my misery about ten different times now.

Seriously though, heartbreaking story there.

5). Still haven't watched one second of the Olympic coverage.


Not basketball, not badminton, not ping pong, not bouncing off the horse or rings or floor mats.

You know what would be funny?

If someone found old footage of me in gymnastics class.

Our teacher used to make us try all of those jumps and climbs and flips.

As you might have guessed, I really, really sucked at it.

Have a terrific rest of the week.

Melky and Paris are waiting for their ride.

We have a bead on a couple of squirrels.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Carry It On

Another weekend spent with our hearts in our throats at Fuzzy camp. Uncle Jim's birthday was this past week (the 1st we celebrated without him) and Dad's passing was once more acknowledged.

So, opening Facebook and seeing the above photo sort of made the air catch in my throat.

But I had one thought:

Carry it on.

And sometimes it seems real simple to me. I recall offering my condolences to someone who was saying goodbye to their own father, and the man said:

"I'm gonna' miss him, for sure, but the world would be so crowded if we all lived forever."

Isn't that the truth?

Yet there was a certain resolve that entered behind the grief of seeing Dad and Uncle Jim, together, looking back at me.

I thought of the fact that they took the rock from their Dad - another great in a line of Fuzzy men - and they carried it forward...


And it occurred to me that it is our job to do so now.

Pick up the rock and carry it on.

As I looked at the photo for quite some time yesterday morning my initial despair gave way to a pretty decent sized grin.

"We're all doing, okay," I whispered to Dad.

"It's so different without you...quieter actually...but we're taking care of the rock."

And finally, I thought of my own boys behind me. We attended mass for Dad on Saturday and I said to Jake:

"I miss my Dad. Wouldn't you miss your Dad?"

That's a tough thing to say to a kid, and I was on shaky ground anyway because Jake is quick to the wit.

"Of course," was all he said.

He's getting ready for the rock.

All of my boys are.

I just want to carry it for a lot longer in honor of my Pop.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

One Week to Go!

Can't hardly wait for the Jeff Fazzolari Thunder Road Memorial Softball Tourney.

And it's not just the chance to hang with friends and share a laugh or two.

It's definitely not the opportunity to impress others with my limitless athletic skills.

Check this out:

An autograph from Curtis Granderson of the 27-Time World Champion Yankees will be up for grabs in the auction during the action.

And that's what really makes my heart swell up.

The people! My friends and family who still love and miss Jeff so much and want to honor him with a wonderful day of celebration.

I'm telling you! Jeff would have absolutely loved this event.

We have people baking cakes, making peppers, donating treasured sports items, hooking up the music, finding the ball field, sending out letters, printing up flyers, thinking of special gifts and donating their own treasured items for the benefit of Johnny, Farrah and Rocco.

How about that? A full-sized signed football helmet by a guy from the Ravens who I'm told is a fantastic player - Ed Dickson.

Not only would Jeff have loved this event he would have been the guy we were all talking about the next day.

And I can hardly wait because of the hugs and laughter.

Ah hell, one more:

That's Ed Reed of the Ravens.

Yes, we have a lot more up for grabs. I have my eyes set on a Goose Gossage signed ball. And that Granderson. And one from David Phelps of the current, first-place Yankees.

Problem being that Sam has more money than me and he's interested in the same things.

Hope to see you there:

August 12 at 11 a.m. at the New Oregon Field. Come a little early to pick teams and check out the merchandise.

Can't wait!

30 Years Burning Down the Road...

...nowhere to run, ain't got nowhere to go.

I went to my high school Alumni gathering on Friday night, and I had a great time. The thing that always strikes me about not seeing someone is that you are essentially picking up the conversation where you left off. What you shared with them back then is what you end up sharing with them again.

The same mannerisms, the same smiles, the same likes and dislikes.

And it's as if time stood still.

But it didn't, of course. The hair is grayer. There are definitely a few pouches, but other than that.

We laughed about the girls we liked back then. We cringed at the girls who didn't really like us back. We wondered where he is these days, or what happened to her.

Late in the evening a classmate...the girl I took to the junior prom, actually - Kris (who still looked great)...broke out the senior yearbook.

I read what I wrote to her all those years ago.

I was a funny guy.

Yet the passage of time is real confusing when you're back in the swing of a conversation with someone.

"So how have you been?"

Is a pretty lame question.

30 years have passed.

Children have been born and raised. Parents, friends and brothers and lovers have passed away. Wives have been cast aside, husbands have been left on the side of the road.

Everyone has a story. Every person is living a distinct, loving, hopeful, happy life...I really hope so.

And midway through the night I looked at an old chum.

Back in school this guy was quick with the wit, sarcastic, an enemy to authority, and mad at some of his own life circumstances. All in all a great guy though.

And now?

He's quick with the wit, sarcastic, happy and a proud Dad. He doesn't have a problem with authority anymore. He found his way.

And it was just so good to see him, and so many others.

The years gone past seemed like one long day.

There are a lot of photos coming soon.

I tried to suck in my gut on every single one.

Do you think I'll still look like that bushy-haired, skinny, sarcastic, wise-ass guy from 1982?

I'm closer to being him than you might think.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Chicken and Badminton

The owner of Chick-fill-a has taken a stand against gay marriage.

What the hell does that have to do with selling chicken?

Don't you think, as a businessman that you'd sell your chicken to everyone and not discriminate? I just don't know what he thought he'd prove by coming out against such an issue.

Can't gay people eat chicken too.

The guy is a dope. Holier than thou. I hope no one buys his grub.

And how do we go from chicken to badminton?

One of my buddies referred to this blog and my writing in it as:

He's wildly consistent in his evaluation of d-bag behavior.

Well, yes I am. It's the reason why I try to behave, so that no one can say that I'm a hypocrite or a d-bag.

Yet bad behavior for sure. Teams from the Far East were found trying to lose their badminton matches so that they'd get a better seed in the next match-up.

First off, why is badminton in the Olympics?

I've played it a couple of times and its kind of dumb, isn't it? I always felt absolutely ridiculous playing it, and it's an Olympic sport?

What's next?

Olympic Jenga?

I have not watched even three minutes of the Olympics. I know I'm in the minority, but even those of you who are really into it, would you watch a badminton match?

Oh, I have one other bone to pick with the Olympics. This whole Michael Phelps thing.

He is not the greatest athlete ever. He swims. We all swim.

And he has 19 medals because he is up for a medal in every single event. How many other athletes get another medal every time they win? I'm thinking Kobe and Bron-Bron are better athletes but they can only win one medal per trip to the Olympics.

Phelps gets a medal for making it to the pool.


Back to the badminton battle.

You really shouldn't be trying to lose in a competition. You probably shouldn't try to chase chicken-eating-patrons away from your chicken-selling business either.

So who wins the bad behavior competition this week?

At least it ain't me.

Friday, August 3, 2012

All that I Am

I'm sort of fortunate that I have a job where I get the hell out of dodge every now and again.

It's actually good for all of us. The kids tell me that when I'm gone all they do is weep, but I think they relax a bit. The same goes for my beautiful wife. It's actually just the dogs who really, really feel like crying.

And I think of my trips out in context of a Bruce line...I'm out in the desert just doing my time.

I'm allowed to think a little.

I also listen to a lot of music, and that enhances my mood.

As I drove on this particular trip my I-pod was good to me. A few songs, in particular, drove my mood.

Mellencamp's This Time was the first one that brought a smile to my face.

You know it: This time, I really think I'm in love, in love.

The smile bringing line was the one that reminded me of Kathy and our early relationship:

"You were too smart to believe all the dark lines and I was too dumb to know what I started."

It still applies.

Then I was treated to one of the Sinatra songs and it, of course, brought thoughts of Dad.

You Will Be My Music.

Just a beautiful song with probably the greatest vocal I've ever heard. It also brought a smile because I thought of Dad singing it to my Mom. And it occurred to me that all that I am is a composite of all that I love, and who I've loved.


There had to be some Bruce, right.

Working On a Dream

I played it twice. Just a brilliant song. The bottom line. Life is tough and I'm trying hard to stay focused and sometimes it seems so far away. Beautiful, brilliant, reminds me of why I battle through. The dream is always within my grasp because of all that I am and all who helped me get there.

And then I heard a song from Benjamin Orr of The Cars. You remember him?

Stay the Night

Orr released a solo album on break from The Cars. I may be the only guy outside of the Orr family who bought it...and it's great.

Yet it wasn't the music that got me today. It was the fact that Orr died tragically young from a nasty cancer.

As he sang I kept thinking that no one is immune.

And it occurred to me that we need to keep working on the dream with the ones we love, singing songs for them, thinking about them, and putting their needs ahead of our own.

It's what we sign up for.

I couldn't wait to get home after my time in the desert.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Dumbest Thing Ever

I had to visit beautiful Ellicotville, New York today to hit a job site. As you can see by the above photo the town is home to Holiday Valley Ski Resort.

That's what made me think of the dumbest thing I ever did, and I did it twice.

Men were not made to ski down a hill with big plastic shoes. God never intended us to do it, and while some people think it's the greatest sport, I am of the opinion that it's really, really, really dumb.

And as we know, my opinion is the only one that matters.

You see, the problem started for me about 30 years ago. A lot of my buddies, and most of the good-looking gals were members of the ski club. I wanted to be with them as they went about their fun.

How hard could it be?

So, at the age of 18, and not yet crippled with leg and hip and back injuries, I rented some ski equipment and hooked up with my buddy Jeffy. For good measure we drank a case of beer first.

It didn't do much for my coordination.

I was nearly killed when I fell off the lift and ducked just in time to miss the next chair.

That was the highlight.

I ended up going down the hill with my arms wrapped tightly around Jeff's waist. I can still hear him laughing as I screamed.

So what did I do?

I decided to go again. It was about five years later and I thought it would be a fun date.

So I paid a fortune to rent the equipment and I also paid a king's ransom for the opportunity to head down the hill.

I figured I'd get more for my money if I rolled down.

I'm telling you, I fell 70 times. The dingy broad was trying to give me pointers and I finally snapped at her, begging her to get the hell away from me.

(Our relationship didn't flourish).

Then I lowered my head and allowed gravity to take me down the 323 MPH.

Visions of Sonny Bono dancing in my head.

You know how I stopped?

I simply lowered my head and hit the ground.

Two hundred feet later, as I came to a halt just under a beautiful tree, a five-year-old laughed at me and iced me with his skis as he glided by.

That kid is around 30 now. If I ever saw him again, I'd beat him with a bat.

So, there you go.

Skiing sucks.

I have spoken.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Good Day

I got my tickets today!

Moments after getting my free tickets in hand...given to me by a good man who wanted me to step foot into Fenway...I read about the final Bruce European concert.

The E Street Band was on stage for four hours and four minutes. They played 33 songs. Song number 31 was "I Don't Want to Go."

There is talk that Bruce and the band are going to try and break some of their records on the Fall leg of the tour.

I'm ready!

I don't even think I'm going to urinate on Fenway this time.

Yet 4 hours may be a bit of a problem for me. The day before the show I have to get a surgical procedure involving needles in my groin and hip area.

The doctor assures me that I should be ready to go.

"I'm seeing Springsteen in Boston," I said. "Will I be good to go?"

"I don't see why you can't sit for two hours to watch a concert," she said.

Poor clueless lady.

People don't sit for two hours and watch Bruce.

People stand for four hours and scream themselves hoarse.

But you know what?

I'll be just fine. If I can climb ladders, I can stand and cheer during The Promised Land.

If a man who is 15 years older than me can jump, run and surf the crowd, I should be able to make the walk back to the car, right?

I'll keep you posted.


I was ordering lunch on the road and one of the choices was a meatball sub. I wanted to eat something a little healthier than that, but I as...