Sunday, September 30, 2012

Damn


Damn.

That's the basketball home at my mother's house. It's a hoop that we hammered with shots.

I was lethal from about 18' away on the right side, of course.

I had no left hand whatsoever.

Damn.

All those games of two-on-two.

And one-on-one.

The shooting contests, made more interesting when we involved beer.

How many shots could we hit in a row?

My brother was on one mower on Saturday. I was on the other. We whipped around the yard and as I looked up I watched John scream on by.

It could have been a scene from 30 years ago.

Except I looked back at the worn hoop.

Damn.

We'd shot hoops one Saturday afternoon, drinking beer all the way. There were four of us there that day and we were splitting a case of beer. We had to get another case fairly quickly.

That afternoon delayed my friend Chris' wedding by a year.

"I'd do it again," Chris told me recently. "That was a great day."

I'm old enough to know that the memories can't hurt a thing.

My boys now wear out the hoop in our driveway. I know that years from now if I look at that hoop I'm gonna' feel pain too.

Just Damn.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

That Was Me

You know who I'm thinking about a lot lately?

Yeah, the replacement refs.

Can you imagine being publicly ridiculed as you do your job? I'm not talking the brief reprimand that we sometimes get when we screw something up. I'm talking about pants-down-ass-out-embarrassing.

Yeah, I'm thinking of the poor guy who hesitated and then threw his hands up in a touchdown signal. When he sees his buddies now do they point and laugh or just pretend to have missed the game?

"Yeah, that was me," is what the guy is probably saying over and over these days.

The play he blew was dissected more and shown more than some of the 9/11 footage, and the guy seemed like a decent enough guy, didn't he?

He was a grandfatherly looking gent who was drawing a check as a replacement.

Talk about being humiliated.

First off, how would you like to be called a replacement?

Others were probably chanting scab. I'm sure that the poor old dude doesn't have any vacation plans for Wisconsin either.

Poor guy.

I read an article from one of the replacement refs. He talked about being just a regular family man who enjoyed the game. He spoke of not being able to devote enough time to be a real NFL ref because he was doing stuff like raising his family.

"We did a damn good job," the guy said.

I'm sure that life is rough for the guy who blew that call. Can you imagine what his family and friends are saying? Do you think they're trying to explain that "it looked like a touchdown" to me too?

I have always thought about people in a much more grand fashion than just what happens at face value.

I think of Bartman, the guy who messed with the foul ball and cost the Cubs a chance.

I consider Buckner and how he can't possibly live long enough to not hear about the ground ball going through his legs in the '86 series.

We have our own goat here in Buffalo lore: Scott Norwide.

"When you drop your wrench at work it isn't on television," the one replacement ref said.

Poor guy.

I hope he finds peace.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Marilyn, Hoffa, Frank & the Kennedy's

I am all sorts of interested in past history. I am especially enamored by bad behavior by big stars.

About a week ago I picked up a book about Marilyn Monroe. I had heard the stories of her death, of course, and I'd seen all the stunning photos of her. I always figured it was a shame, right?

The book is called Bye, Bye Baby and it's written by a guy named Max Allen Collins. He uses a unique writing style by putting a private eye on the scene as a fiction character in the middle of a non-fiction story.

Love the idea.

I am really enjoying the book too because the character is dealing with all of the characters. Peter Lawford, Frank, DiMaggio, Dean Martin, Hoffa, Robert and JFK.

Well done.

Yet what gets me about it is that Marilyn is also very much alive in the beginning of the story, and Collins really sort of captures her as a beautiful, confused woman.

He captures her so well that I find that I'm rooting for her even though I thought I knew what happened.

She killed herself, right?

Wrong.

Accidental overdose, right?

Uh, wrong.

And what is cool about it is that since I've started reading about it I've gone to people who remember the story. My mother filled me in on some of the details and my father-in-law also chipped in with his opinion.

And man, my opinion of some of the stars that I really admired has sort of shifted. They talk of Frank and Joltin' Joe.

My heart sank a bit when the alleged battery, at the hands of Joe D. was mentioned.

My heart sank even further when it became apparent to me that the Kennedy's may have had more than a little to do with the "suicide" or the "accidental overdose".

It's really a great read, folks.

The mob.

Hoffa.

All of it.

A simpler time is what we believe.

Maybe that was more fiction than non-fiction.

By the way, aren't they digging up Hoffa's body this week?

We didn't start the fire.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Don't Need This Body

Dedicated to a good man, and his son, another good man. In the end, the best thing you can say:

"He was a good man."

Don't Need This Body - John Mellencamp

This getting older ain't for cowards.
This getting older is a lot to go through
Ain't gonna' need this body much longer
Ain't gonna' need this body much more.

I can't see much like I used to
And I can't run like the wind
I don't sleep more than just a few hours
I can't remember where I've been

Ain't gonna' need this body much longer
Ain't gonna' need this body much more.
I put in ten million hours
Washed up and worn out for sure.

All my friends are sick or dying
And I'm here by myself
All I got left is a headful of memories
And a thought of my upcoming death

Ain't gonna' need this body much longer
Ain't gonna' need this body much more.
I put in ten million hours
Washed up and worn out for sure

(This is the important part)

Well I know one thing I'll die easy
And I know my life is not in vain
Because I loved and fought with many
And the people, they loved me
just the same.

This getting older ain't for cowards.
This getting older is a lot to go through
Ain't gonna' need this body much longer
Ain't gonna' need this body much more.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

National F*&%up League

Are you ready for some football?

What a great game on Monday night, huh?

The first game to ever end on a game-winning interception.

And I have to tell you, I thought it was a lot of fun. As soon as the ball nestled into the defensive back's arms and the replacement refs signaled a touchdown for the wide receiver who was in the same end zone, the fun began.

I happened to be awake at the time. I didn't watch the game, mind you, but I had the good sense to switch to the game at the precise moment the play was taking place.

I watched the angry Packers storm off the field. I watched the Seahawks explain that it was a perfectly good play. I listened to the crying announcers.

And then I went to Twitter where the comedians took over.

A lot of fun.

And don't get me started on that league anyway. They take public money and then blackout the games. They know that they can take money hand over fist and they could really give two craps about their fans because they know they have a zillion of them.

"The replacement refs are ruining the integrity of the league," someone wrote.

Integrity?

Really?

Isn't the NFL the same league that allows the talent to drink and drive and rape and pillage all year long?

A bunch of their big stars are real gems when it comes to integrity.

Ray Lewis- convicted of obstruction in a double murder. He is glorified before every Ravens game.

Michael Vick - convicted of murdering dogs. I love the stories of how great a guy he is now. Thank God.

Ben Rapistpervert - was it rape-rape or legitimate rape? He was cleared, right? Both times.

Marshawn Lynch - He's a beast. Especially when he's driving drunk on a road near you.

Michael Turner - He joined the DWI club after his big game - last week.

I'm not even hitting the fringe players! Those are the stars!!

Integrity.

That's funny.

Keep watching, folks. There's a game on the NFL Network on Thursday night.

Get your bets down. Vegas line will be close. Guaranteed to stay within a half a point!

Pray that if you go to the game the refs get it right. Then watch yourself as you're walking away from the publicly-funded stadium....

(And you have to go to the game if you want to see it because it ain't on free television)

...the Porsche coming around the corner driven by the idiot millionaire may run you down.

Integrity.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

One With the Lion

Did you happen to hear about the man who jumped into the lion's cage?

He told the cops he wanted to be one with the lion.

He was. The lion broke his leg, his ribs, mauled him beyond recognition.

"The guy likes cats," someone said in the article.

I'm thinking he likes them a bit less these days.

Then there was the well-known chef who murdered his wife and then cooked her to a smoky perfection.

Wonder what that tasted like.

"It was a little gamey."

Story after story.

It really is crazy out there, you know?

In my little hometown last week there was a story about a town employee dumping liquid manure into the vehicle of another.

(Allegedly).

Do people actually get up in the morning and come up with these ideas?

"Let's see, I have to pick up the dry-cleaning, mix up the liquid manure, swing by the post office, grab a gallon of milk, find the son-of-a-bitch's car, get my prescription filled, get some corn from the local market, dump the shit all over the front seat of the guy's car, and head home."

What I'm getting at is that these things just can't be well thought out.

Cook the wife?

Jump into the lion's cage?

All good ideas, I imagine.

WTF?

Monday, September 24, 2012

What's for Dinner?

Do you do this dance?

We do.

Most of the time it's an aggravating task to be the one in charge of figuring out what we're going to have. You see, my kids are on meat diets, and they all have little preferences.

My beautiful wife works later in the day so we need to plan it and she starts it and I finish it.

But it ain't easy.

Sam doesn't like cheese. Jake doesn't like mashed potatoes. Neither one of them, believe it or not like pasta.

So the choices are limited a bit, and most of the time I feel a bit like a short order cook.

A week or so ago I declared it to be breakfast for dinner. I cooked a pound of bacon and prepared a full package of pork sausage. All the while I was flipping pancakes and making eggs.

I placed the pancakes in front of the boys and went to retrieve the bacon.

It was gone.

"What the hell happened to the bacon?" I asked.

"Wasn't it mine?" Jake asked.

The pork sausage suffered the same fate at Sam's hand.

"Are you kidding me?"

I scrambled around for ham to mix with the eggs. By that time they were looking for more pancakes. The toast popped up.

I thought of my buddy Pops who is forced to cook breakfast at dinnertime.

An hour later Kathy returned from work and grabbed her breakfast for dinner.

"That was easy enough, right?" she asked.

"Oh yeah, great."

And the question reared its ugly head again.

"What're we doing tomorrow?" she asked.

Thank God that two of the days are spoken for. Sunday and Wednesday are pizza and pasta.

I thought of my mother trying to come up with enough dinner for 8 people on a nightly basis, and you know what?

She never mailed it in.

Of course, she didn't cook breakfast for dinner, either.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Happy Birthday, Boss

Late last night my old college buddy sent me a video of the crowd in New Jersey singing Happy Birthday to Bruce.

26 years ago Rosie lived in the filthiest frat house and hung out drinking in the filthiest of rooms that they affectionately called 'Jungleland.'

Bruce is 63. Me and Rosie are 48.

We were 18 when we stood shoulder-to-shoulder singing Bruce for the first time.

We'd both been singing along for about ten years at that time!

And it's funny because all week long a bunch of us have been mentioning that today is Bruce's birthday.

Like we need to get him a present!

And that's pretty cool.

I know it has crossed Pops' mind today. Carrie will surely raise a toast. Hell, her kids might even make a cake! And Jim, John, Dana...all across the board. Jeff certainly made sure that he hoisted a Jameson's every 09/23.

The thing that really struck me about it last week in DC was that I spent a long time looking at the crowd. There were 55,000 people there. Everyone was standing and dancing and cheering and waving.

"Can you imagine having such a following?" I'd asked Carrie.

"He's gonna' go to heaven," Carrie said.

And I think Bruce is really thinking about that sort of stuff these days.

He plays every song, still, as if his very life depends upon it. The other night he stopped singing in mid-song when he passed Clarence's spot on stage. It wasn't a staged moment. He just stopped, overcome by emotion.

And that's what we sort of forget when a larger than life person is entertaining us.

Bruce's mom was on stage last night as she sang Happy Birthday to her boy. She's in her 90's.

(Trust me...Rosie sent me the video - thanks buddy).

Such a human touch sort of moment.

And that's why Bruce is such a star in so many eyes. He let us all in. He sings with us and for us. We pump our fists knowing that he's lived, loved and lost, and that time is short and that we need to bring it...day after day, night after night.

The concert ended at 1:30 last night.

I wish I could post the video...it made me smile.

Happy Birthday, Bruce.

We look forward to 30 more years.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Summer Wind

I love this time of year, actually. Despite the fact that summer is leaving and there may or may not be about 8 months of garbage weather I actually like the crispness in the air.

Until I figure out that I didn't bring a jacket with me.

It happened on my most recent road trip, a 4-day excursion to the beautiful towns in and around Syracuse, New York. I served as a travel guide and the paid heckler that I am.

At one site we were discussing the emergency situation.

"What's the site medic's name?" one of the guys around the conference table asked.

The other eight people sat quietly as I answered.

"Marcus," I said.

The guy wrote it down.

"W-E-L-B-Y," I continued.

He wrote that down too.

You see, we had no way of knowing who the medic would be before the start of the job.

Everyone laughed.

The guy sounded it out.

"ASSHOLE!"

And that was the sort of trip it was with the exception of feeling cold and sort of knowing that what would begin soon enough was the mad rush to my 48th birthday and then Christmas talk.

Snow will fly. Santa's coming.

"Marcus Welby," the guy said as we gathered our materials and headed for the door. He pulled his jacket tight around him. I pretended to do the same.

"Where's your jacket, wise-ass?"

The sun was riding high in the late morning sky. I didn't need a jacket. It was approaching 65 degrees.

Love this time of year.

30 days until the 27-Time World Champion first-place, greatest franchise ever, Yankees win the crown!

Friday, September 21, 2012

All Right! Enough Already!

I know that they're public service announcements.

I appreciate that they're supposed to shock us into better behavior.

I understand that they are persuasive.

But...

Can we do away with the commercials to stop smoking?

Every commercial is worse than the one before.

There's a guy coughing up a lung.

A woman with a hole in her throat.

A child telling us he misses his Mommy.

Isn't life sad enough as it is?

Do you think the people who smoke have never heard that it's bad for them?

"Oh really! Inhaling smoke has a detrimental affect? Damn, I'm done!!"

But if that's not enough, now we have the public service announcements regarding texting.

This was the text message I was looking at when I drove into the back of the tractor-trailer and became brain-damaged.

I get it!

We want to stop people from texting and driving. It will help all of us.

No more smoking!

No more texting!!

Stop with the gallon of soda!!!

But please stop showing me the inside of a diabetic foot.

I'm trying to watch Judge Judy here.

I just want to relax after work.

Please don't make me feel like hanging myself in the garage.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Let Me Try to Spin This

I'm not going to get into the statement. I won't even tell you which side it came from.

Perhaps you can figure it out on your own.

Yet the best part of the presidential debate in this land occurs when one or other of the candidates steps into a huge pile of dung.

"That's not what he meant to say," one of the "experts" said. "This is what he meant."

The woman that I listened to try and make sense of the so-called dumb statement was 100% counter to the words that came out of her candidates mouth.

"I'm just saying that the context was wrong."

"I know what it sounded like, but please listen to this point: it's not even close to what you heard?"

It's a sleight of hand, people.

"The polls show that you're way behind," the CNN guy said.

"Oh the polls aren't even close. These polls are the exact opposite of what it says. You say our candidate has 44% of the vote. We say that the other guy has 44% of the vote. We are winning! Believe me."

I really wish that the old Pinnochio deal would work.

Let's see their noses grow as the lies come out of their mouths.

Wouldn't that be fun?

And what really sickens me. Really, really sickens me about all of it is that we will never know the true story.

The people who built this country and keep it standing with their hard work will never know which lie is less true.

And make no mistake:

There are more hardworking people out there than there are deadbeats and/or fat cats.

"You have to believe me," the "expert" was saying. "We wouldn't be purposely putting out information that would mislead the great people of this country."

Two men say they're Jesus, one of them must be wrong.

That's an old Dire Straits line.

I think of it each and every time that I hear a candidate talk.

In the end, though, I believe that Knopfler got it all wrong.

Two men say they're Jesus. I'm guessing that both of them are wrong.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Family Man

Family Man

1. Children are not pets.

2. The life they actually live and the life you perceive them to be living is not the same life.

3. Don't take what your children do too personally.

4. Don't keep score cards on them - a short memory is useful.

5. Dirt and mess are a breeding ground for well-being.

6. Stay out of their rooms after puberty.

7. Don't worry that they never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.

8. Learn from them; they have much to teach you.

9. Love them long; let them go early.

Finally. You will never really know what kind of parent you were or if you did it right or wrong.

Never.

And you will worry about this and them as long as you live.

But when your children have children and you watch them do what they do, you will have part of an answer.

Robert Fulghum

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Handsome Groom and His Bride...

...Step into the long black limousine for their mystery ride.

We all went to a great wedding on Saturday night. My nephew Ryan married his longtime love Katie.

Two great kids. A tremendous, classy party. There was good food, fine drink and a lot of dancing.

Despite my obvious talents in the field of dancing I sat out the evening festivities. My replacements were out on the dance floor though and they kept my beautiful wife happy.

Damn, Sam can move!

I'm not kidding, either. He has style and grace and he can keep a beat to the music.

The wedding atmosphere is kind of funny too because the music comes on, the women shriek and run out there, and the men try to hide.

"Ah shit, here comes my wife," one of the men standing near the bar said. The rest of us laughed at him.

"It's GREASE!!!!" she cried out when she got closer.

"Save me," the guy muttered as his hand was yanked towards the floor.

For the next five minutes the rest of us watched him.

"Poor bastard," one of them said.

And the entire wedding thing strikes you kind of funny, doesn't it?

The priest had explained the concept of love by telling us about the couples that don't make it through the years as man and wife. He told the story of marriage through the eyes of divorce.

It wasn't that it was a bad talk. It's just that it's different now.

I ran into my father-in-law. He's been married for better than 50 years. He told me the story about trading his car for the engagement ring and twenty-five bucks.

"I didn't really intend on marrying her. I was just sort of giving her the ring so we'd be a little closer. I thought I'd make her happy for six months and then somehow talk my way out of it. When the priest told me we were married I kept thinking, 'This just can't be happening.'"

As he summarized the story my mother-in-law put her purse down in front of him.

"Watch this," she said. "And don't just get up and leave it here!"

My father-in-law turned to me.

"I should've kept my car."

We laughed for a good long time.

We watched my nephew dance with his wonderful bride. My beautiful wife was spinning in a circle with Matt, Jake and Sam all dancing around her. The poor husband was still trying to smile through the singing of Olivia-Newton John and that gay guy who likes male messages.

"It's all kind of weird," I said.

"You got that right," my father-in-law said. "Weird as shit."

Monday, September 17, 2012

So I Went For a Physical

Man, the visits to the doctors are crazy aren't they?

"Do you have your co-pay?"

I walked through the double doors.

"Step on the scale."

I asked her to remember the twelve pound deduction for my clothes.

We settled in.

I got the litany of questions.

I still wasn't allergic to anything. No night sweats, no sudden weight loss.

(She really asked me that after the scale fiasco).

No recent chest pains, no bouts of erectile dysfunction.

(Wouldn't there have to be something going on to alert me of that condition?)

Everything is great.

"Except for this," I said. "I can't take a step or lift my leg without pain!!!!! I've been telling you that since January! It makes for a long freaking day!!!"

And you know what she said?

"We are just doing your physical today. We can't discuss the car accident. The insurance company will void the bill and make you pay for the physical if we talk about the car accident. You need a separate appointment for the discussion."

Reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllyyyyyyyyy?

As Ace Ventura might ask.

I laughed.

"Are you still chewing tobacco?" she asked.

"Yep."

She looked absolutely disgusted.

"When are you going to stop doing that?"

"When you fix my f&*ing hip," I said.

We both laughed. I didn't actually swear, but it makes for a better story.

"So, you're healthy," she said, in summation.

"Oh Thank God," I responded. "Now if you'll just piggy-back me to my car."

The good news is I have three doctors appointments the week after next.

We're gonna' discuss the hip.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Moment


So that's Springsteen concert #31 and whenever I mention that I'm going to see Bruce I get a lot of weird looks.

What's wrong with you?

Plenty, I suppose, but seeing Bruce isn't one of my major problems.

Look at that photo.

What's better than that?

I can recall tremendous details of those 31 nights. I've been to concerts with a lot of people that I love.

The Friday night show at Nationals Park didn't come easy. It was Carrie's second ticket. Friends from down there crapped out on her. I was third in line for the ticket, and I didn't think it was possible.

"Go," my beautiful wife said. "Why wouldn't you?"

I flew in and out. I only spent about 17 hours in the area. Bruce played for nearly 4 hours.

We also had a bit of a problem as we got to our seats. We were chatting with Oriole-Bruce fans (they were halfway decent people) and I was bumped from behind and spilled three drops of beer on the woman in front of us. I apologized, but it wasn't good enough for her husband who clearly didn't want to be there, and certainly wanted a fight.

"Get a napkin!" he screamed at all of us.

I wouldn't fight with him. I moved away after we wiped the woman's seat down.

But the youngsters, who had a bit more beer, did fight with him. The old bastard wouldn't let anything go, taunted the kids, and aggravated and agitated. He was truly intent on ruining someones night.

The arguing went back and forth until one of the twenty-somethings dumped a full beer over the head of the woman.

"Get a napkin now!" the kid screamed.

But the night could not be ruined, for anyone.

Bruce sang of love, of course. He spoke of faith, again. He begged us to smile. My face hurt from smiling. He talked of rising up and redemption.

I can never get sick of that.

And he worked hard all night. He ran, he slid, he jumped, he joked, he sang, and sang, and sang.

"I'd love to hear them do Racing in the Street," Carrie said on the car on the way in.

She called it on the first note.

Gotta' '69 Chevy with a 396

Now there's wrinkles around my baby's eyes and she cries herself to sleep each night

And then the piano solo by the Professor.

It's a long solo on the album.

It was an unbelievable demonstration on Friday night.

Five minutes, ten minutes, close to fifteen.

"This is the moment," I said to Carrie.

"Absolutely."

She had tears in her eyes.

The tears were gone as Bruce played Twist and Shout to close the night at 11:55 p.m. (He had taken the stage at 8:23.

We should all work like that. Every day. Every ounce of energy. Empty the tank.

He'd done American Land the song before; playing tribute to Jeff, of course.

Am I crazy for seeing him that many times?

I'll let you know next month when he visits Rochester.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Long Walk Home

Hey pretty darling don't wait up for me gonna' be a long walk home.

Yep, went to see Bruce in DC last night and turned around and flew right home to go to a wedding.

I wouldn't have gone had Carrie not been the one waiting for me on the other end.

My Friday started with a text from her that said Happy Bruceday

Of course one of the amazing things about it all is that as life has unfolded I have lectured myself on doing things that are fun and worthwhile. I haven't done it as much as I wanted.

Making the trip to DC was definitely worth the effort, of course.

You see, I've grown weary once more.

Your eyes grow blind and your blood runs cold. Sometimes I feel so weak I just wanna' explode.

The talk of the presidential election is wearing on me. People shouting at other people. A house divided. There is a lot of talk about people on food stamps and welfare tearing the nation apart.

I am of the firm belief that the problem is on the other end.

Who do you think is paying for Madoff and the others like him?

Stealing way more cash from the top, folks.

Yet the ground swell of aggravation comes from the bottom feeders.

Get to work! Stop buying beer and cigarettes!

BAH!!!!

And I'm a mess yet.

Went to the docs earlier in the week. The hip is shot. Back is sore. Leg goes numb. Still working on it. Swung a golf club.

Won't do that again.

It's gonna' be a long walk home. Hey pretty darling don't wait up for me, it's gonna' be a long walk home.

It takes a long time to fix shit once hearts are broken.

There won't be any easy answers in this country when January rolls around.

Either way.

Work is there. We all need to step it up.

Control the top and control the bottom and let the working class slobs make the corrections.

I just wanted to be spontaneous and stand and cheer for awhile.

Tramps like us, baby we were born to run.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Chris Kluwe

Not sure if anyone knows who Chris Kluwe is.

He punts a football for a living for the Minnesota Vikings. He is also a real accomplished letter writer.

Kluwe wrote a letter in defense of a teammate who was speaking out about gay marriage.

Here's a bit of the explanation:

Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo has publicly expressed support for gay marriage, a public position that angered state delegate Emmett C. Burns Jr. and caused him to write a letter to team owner Steve Bisciotti. In the letter, Burns asked the Ravens to "inhibit such expressions" from players.

Ayanbadejo defended himself in an eloquent way. Kluwe took a different tack, writing a very descriptive letter that included some swear words I hadn't even heard before. Why did he go that way? What caused him to speak out in defense of Ayanbadejo, a player he doesn't know? Did he feel that the profanity took away from the message?


I read the letter. It was really well done. Kluwe was fired up about the fact that the state delegate was trying to silence a football player.

Chris Kluwe is now a hero of mine.

First of all, he spoke his mind.

Secondly, he defended his position.

Thirdly, he used the language, both intelligent and profane to make his point.

There is another story making rounds about a football player who was kicked off his college team for kissing his boyfriend.

Seriously?

It's just hard for me to understand.

Didn't we once believe that women should be oppressed and kept quiet?

Didn't we follow that up with a real embarrassing attitude towards blacks?

Why are we repeating it with gays?

Kluwe wrote an extremely eloquent argument about how gay marriage being passed would not make the state delegate (Burns Jr.) gay.

I really want to write the words that Kluwe wrote, but I'd rather you read the letter.

Go find it!

Go Vikings!!!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Plenty of Anger

I doubt that many Americans knew who Christopher Stevens was before this morning, and the diplomats death in Benghazi is surely senseless, but what is even more senseless are those who kill in the name of religion.

How long has this been going on, by the way?

Since the start of time, right?

And man it really hits hard. Americans killed by ruthless cowards for what?

A YouTube video that apparently is seen as blasphemy to a god?

I'm telling you, there really isn't a reason to feel shock anymore. We come off the "anniversary" of 9/11 and we are immediately greeted with such somber news.

And it isn't about GOP and Liberals.

It isn't about guns or gun control.

It's all about death and violence in a world that just doesn't need anymore.

"We need to nuke all of them off the face of the Earth."

"They should turn the entire Middle East into a parking lot."

"Those people are crazy. They have no value for human life."

All things I heard this morning as I listened to talk radio.

The anger was evident in the voice of every single caller, and the anger was certainly justified.

I couldn't stop shaking my head in wonder.

When are all of the murders going to lead to a different answer?

I always think about what others think of Americans after a mass shooting. Do they look at one another and say:

"Those people are crazy, they have no value for human life?"

Perhaps when it comes right down to it, nobody truly does. When you're killing in the name of religion it's downright despicable.

There's no one to blame, but plenty of anger, right?

By the way, I can already hear the responses to this:

"We NEED TO MURDER THEM! - you peace-loving bastard."

Yep, that'll work.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Ernie D


Man my kids were fired up on Sunday for the Bills opening game of the season. Sam was mentioning that they were going 13 and 3 and Jake was a bit more pragmatic choosing 10 and 6. Both were ready for the playoffs.

The game was a dud. I was even surprised by it. Yet I was watching the 27-Time World Champion Greatest Franchise Ever-First Place Yankees pummel the hapless Orioles 13 to 3 instead of watching football.

Still, I felt for the boys.

As you will note this article is entitled Ernie D.

For the uninitiated he was a basketball player who arrived on the Buffalo sports scene in 1972. He was 6-feet tall, Italian, and very popular in our house. I loved Ernie. My brothers loved Ernie. My Dad really loved Ernie.

And he was good!

And so were the Braves.

I saw the photo of Ernie in a Buffalo pizza shop on Monday morning and it got me thinking about how down the kids were about the Bills.

I remembered how down I was when the Braves traded Ernie out of town. What the hell was wrong with them?

Ernie's career didn't last long. He won the Rookie of the Year with the Braves but soon enough he was gone as were the Buffalo Braves.

A very sad day when the Braves left town. I couldn't understand it. They left for money when they sold every single seat. How can a kid understand that?

I texted a buddy of mine and sent him the shot of Ernie.

"Remember going to see him play?" my buddy asked. "You guys were waving an Italian flag."

We might have been.

I haven't heard much of Ernie these days. He must be 60 years old by now, but staring at his photo on the wall as I ate lunch I felt ten years old again.

The Bills can go 13 and 2 the rest of the way, boys.

Enjoy these days.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Where Were You?

My boy had a homework assignment to ask us about September 11, 2001.

"How'd you find out?" Sam asked my beautiful wife.

"Dad called me," Kathy said. "When he told me about the first plane I thought it was an accident but we were on the line when the second plane hit."

Sam turned to me.

"How'd you call Mom?" he asked.

"I picked up my phone and dialed the number," I said. "She answered and we talked."

"No!!!" He said. "Why did you call her so fast, were you scared?"

I thought about it for a moment. Looking back 11 years with all that we now know...

"Yeah," I said. "I was scared. I was scared for all the people inside. I was afraid of what happened in our country. I couldn't believe it could happen."

"What were you doing when you found out?"

"I was listening to Howard Stern. It was a beautiful morning."

Sam was trying hard to piece it all together.

"Did you know Bin Laden did it?"

"I'd never heard of Bin Laden," I said. "I really never had any idea it could happen. Life's different since then."

Sam asked Jake what he remembered. Jake had been in pre-school.

"Dad took the television," he said. "I was just trying to watch cartoons."

After Sam wrote down our answers I thought about how shocked and angry I'd been on that day. I remembered every photo, and thought about the pain.

"You think it could happen again?" Sam asked me a little while later.

"My God, I hope not," I said.

09/11.

Pray for peace, would you?

In all areas of life.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Accountable

I watch baseball every night from April thru October. I enjoy the pace of the game. Others yell that it is too slow, but I like letting my mind wander, and just listening to the banter. I can tell you players from the 40's. Recently my son and I went back over the World Series Champs from 1960 to present.

I was able to tell him the winner and who they played...from now back through 4 years before I was born!

Through those years I have been embarrassed by the game. The steroid era was sickening as was 1994 when they cancelled the World Series due to pure greed.

Yet nothing can kill the game.

On Saturday night the ump in the Yankee-Oriole game blatantly blew a call. It was a call that either tied the game or ended the game.

He ended it.

It wasn't a close play.

Fine.

Shit happens.

It happened last year to ruin a perfect game. It happened in 1996 and in 2003 on fan interference with home run balls. They fixed that by coming up with replay.

It happened in a Lions softball game I was playing in around 1995.

Umps miss calls.

Yet unlike the ump from that softball game, who is a bartender at a bowling hall, the ump last night never said this:

"I blew it."

Instead, after the game was over he said:

"It was a very, very, very close play. I haven't seen a definitive replay."

Check the cover of the NY Daily News. It wasn't a "very, very, very close play."

And to get me off your back, say one thing:

"I made a mistake."

But he won't. The Yankee player will be suspended for griping afterwards. That one game may very well decide a playoff spot.

We all screw up.

The bartender at the bowling alley told me ten years later as he remembered the play:

"I can't believe I missed that one."

He bought me a shot.

All was forgiven.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Helpless Love

Once upon a time all feelings and emotions went to a coastal island for a vacation. According to their nature, each was having a good time. Suddenly, a warning of an impending storm was announced and everyone was advised to evacuate the island.

The announcement caused sudden panic. All rushed to their boats. Even damaged boats were quickly repaired and commissioned for duty.

Yet, Love did not wish to flee quickly. There was so much to do. But as the clouds darkened, Love realized it was time to leave. Alas, there were no boats to spare. Love looked around with hope.

Just then Prosperity passed by in a luxurious boat. Love shouted, “Prosperity, could you please take me in your boat?”

“No,” replied Prosperity, “my boat is full of precious possessions, gold and silver. There is no place for you.”

A little later Vanity came by in a beautiful boat. Again Love shouted, “Could you help me, Vanity? I am stranded and need a lift. Please take me with you.”

Vanity responded haughtily, “No, I cannot take you with me. My boat will get soiled with your muddy feet.”

Sorrow passed by after some time. Again, Love asked for help. But it was to no avail. “No, I cannot take you with me. I am so sad. I want to be by myself.”

When Happiness passed by a few minutes later, Love again called for help. But Happiness was so happy that it did not look around, hardly concerned about anyone.

Love was growing restless and dejected. Just then somebody called out, “Come Love, I will take you with me.” Love did not know who was being so magnanimous, but jumped on to the boat, greatly relieved that she would reach a safe place.

On getting off the boat, Love met Knowledge. Puzzled, Love inquired, “Knowledge, do you know who so generously gave me a lift just when no one else wished to help?”

Knowledge smiled, “Oh, that was Time.”

“And why would Time stop to pick me and take me to safety?” Love wondered.

Knowledge smiled with deep wisdom and replied, “Because only Time knows your true greatness and what you are capable of. Only Love can bring peace and great happiness in this world.”

“The important message is that when we are prosperous, we overlook love. When we feel important, we forget love. Even in happiness and sorrow we forget love. Only with time do we realize the importance of love. Why wait that long? Why not make love a part of your life today?”

Author Unknown

Saturday, September 8, 2012

SUSPENDED!

I like Twitter. It's a good source for comedy and to capture the essence of a news story. It's especially fun to laugh along with the comedians as a live event is taking place.

Yet I am not real sure what goes on with the inner workings. I have a hard time figuring out how to get followers and who the heck to follow.

But I wasn't ready for this!

I was suspended today.

I've never been suspended from anything and as far as I know I didn't do anything wrong.

Yet there it was.

"You have been suspended for sending multiple tweets to people who don't want to see them."

I don't do that!

I hardly ever tweet!!

And below that box was another box that said if I could successfully type two jumbled words into a box, I could be un-suspended, but I also had to promise not to do something that I never did.

I felt a little dirty.

I felt a little violated.

Someone has been tweeting under my name?

Did someone report me?

It's all so heartbreaking.

And do you know what the worst part of all of it is?

I was suspended for two hours and I'm not allowed to see those tweets.

What did I miss?

For the love of God, what did I miss?

Friday, September 7, 2012

What We Want

Listening to the speeches and the reaction to the speeches. Last week it was RNC and this week it's DNC.

The messages are muddled.

Let me be more direct.

1). We want a chance to earn a fair living at a fair wage with time off to hang with our families.

2). We want the opportunity to choose our own religion, and be our own man or woman regardless of race, sex or creed. A belief in God is a very personal relationship. If you pray to Tom Cruise, good for you. If you worship rocks, enjoy. The religion fight really galls me in this day and age because isn't that why we all came floating over here? To keep it the hell out of government? (Yes, John, and the schools).

What the hell is creed anyway?

(Just kidding, I know they're a band).

3). We want a chance to send our kids off to school so that they can learn a trade and find a decent job when they get out so they can have a family and work their fingers to the bone and never seem to get ahead too.

4). We want some time off to go to a ballgame or a dance recital or a Bruce concert. Life is about living and we feel alive when we are sharing moments with people we love, not going to work with a group of people who we frankly could give two shits about.

5). What we want is to not hear about the people that are sitting at home living off the work we do. There isn't one person in the country who is for that. If you can work, we want you to. If you can't because of disability, we will help. We are American after all.

6). What we want is to not hear about millionaires splitting the profits of billions when we can't fill the car up all the way to get to work. We want to feel as if we are doing our fair share for fair wage, but we want to know that you aren't taking more than you deserve as well because you think we're too stupid to figure it out.

7). We want a home front where we can walk outside, or go to church, or go to a movie without fear of being gunned down because there are mental patients with free access to automatic weapons walking around. We'd also like to have a gun available in the case that one of those mental patients breaks loose and tries to harm our family, or to shoot cans, or deer, or rabbits. We deserve the right to life. We deserve the right to protect ourselves as well.

8). We are big boys and girls now. What we really would like is to make decisions for ourselves on a wide variety of topics and not have those decisions legislated for us. If we make a mistake regarding said decisions it's on us. We aren't beholden to a government to live our lives. We want to be able to choose. Keep your nose out of our personal lives, please.

9). We'd like, if we get sick, to have the opportunity to get well again. We'd like to do this without having to go to the poor house or having to sell our home, or bankrupt our children. This is the most basic of human rights and we should all have this opportunity. There aren't many of us that can withstand a long disability. But shit happens, right? We'd like the chance to get right again without having to die so our family can survive.

10). We'd like all of television to be reality-show free. Unless, of course, Judge Judy is deemed a reality show. We need JJ in our lives. She needs to stay.

All right, we can negotiate that last one.

But you hear all this crap about that shit or the fecal matter about things that don't really matter. I know a lot of people on both the Republican and Democratic side of the divide.

WE ALL CARE.

WE ARE ALL UNITED.

This is just some of what we want.

On that we sometimes agree.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I'm Okay...Really, I Am

About ten years ago George Steinbrenner was being interviewed and he said:

"I want the Yankees to win every day because we have a lot of fans and they have better days if we win."

I remember hearing that and thinking:

You know what, Uncle Georgie is right. We do feel better when they win.

The Yankees haven't been winning a lot lately. The ten game lead they had is all gone and if they don't get on their horses soon, the playoffs may begin without them.

And you'd think that my entire existence was based on whether or not the 27-Time World Champion Greatest Sports Franchise in the History of the World won or lost on any given day.

I must tell you:

I'm okay.

I will survive a playoff-less season if that is what happens.

I have been cranky during the games lately as I can't understand how an entire team can stop hitting at once, but it's just baseball.

It's an amusing distraction from life.

I've always got that. Even when the 27-Time World Champion Greatest Sports Franchise in the History of the World were winning every day earlier in the season.

"Do you feel a sense of panic?" A reporter asked Jeter yesterday.

"How do you deal with panic?" Jeter shot right back at her. "I mean, really, what would be the answer to panic?"

"I'm not sure," she said. "How would you deal with it?"

"I don't panic," he said.

I had to laugh at that.

Panic?

Derek Jeter?

He has five rings, a couple of mansions, supermodel women (who aren't no Kathy Fazzolari) but I imagine that he's making do.

Winning isn't easy. The 27-Time World Champion Greatest Sports Franchise in the History of the World have always had their way with their opponents but now the rest of baseball has the benefit of splitting the money the Yankees make for the sport.

If they win they will have to earn it.

If they lose, they will have earned that as well.

That's how life works.

No one said it'd be easy.

But why panic?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Camp Clifford is Closed

"I'd like to book my stay for next year," Jake said as I walked him out to the school bus and announced that Camp Clifford is closed for the season.

Yes, the school year has officially started. Bag lunches, fights over doing the homework, scrambling to feed the hoodlums, and wondering if the dogs will handle the time alone all right.

Not that the dogs didn't witness anything more than sleep, though.

"It's time to learn, learn, learn," I chanted to Sam as he rubbed sleep out of his eyes this morning.

"The thing about it is that I'll be home before you, I get all the holidays off, there's teacher conferences and breaks. You're stuck working every day for the next twenty years, and we eat up all the money you make."

I may not chant to the kids anymore.

Yet it was a wonderful season here at Camp Clifford.

Rooms were trashed on a daily basis.

Chicken nuggets, chicken fingers and popcorn chicken were real popular on the menu. They ate enough ice cream to sink a freaking ship.

The chores were minimal. They didn't really have to mow the lawn or pick weeds because nothing grew during the hot summer.

And don't get me started on how they kept the quarters in their summer rooms.

Let's just say that one of their parents is OCD about clutter and the other parent is happy with debris.

They didn't take after the OCD guy.

Whoops.

Did I tip my hand there?

Yet there is a bit of sadness as the Camp closes for the season.

One of the hoodlums is already going to sleep elsewhere in a Camp Clifford sponsored dorm room...the 2nd in line is just a couple of seasons away. The last guy, thankfully, will be Camp chairman for a few more years.

I remember the excitement and the dread of the new school year starting. It had seemed like summer just started and Christmas break seemed like a hundred months away.

"It must suck never to get a real break," Sam said.

Uh, yeah.

Don't be in such a rush to find out how much it sucks.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Empty Building


Sad. I walked the nearly empty aisle of the grocery store right down the road. As the kids were growing I took at least three trips to the store on a daily basis. I'd buy what we need, get home and find out we need something else.

The Jubilee was a family-owned store. A business that a local man built and ran for more than 20 years. He just couldn't get it done anymore.

And why did this small business close? That's an argument for all the political experts and pundits, but Wal-Mart sells groceries. There are a bunch of superstores within 5 miles of the old Jubilee.

Big business eating small business if you ask me.

And I'm gonna' miss the place. I really am. It was the destination of choice as I took the dogs for their after-dinner-bye-byes.

"What's going in here?" the guy in front of me in line asked the cashier.

"Not a damn thing," she said. "Empty building."

She paused for a long moment.

"Just an empty building."

And all of Lake Avenue in Blasdell is filled with empty buildings. One street over the big businesses thrive.

There used to be a Chinese Restaurant around the corner.

Empty Building.

There was a family-owned pharmacy.

CVS moved in.

Family-owned pharmacy closed instantly. Empty building.

"That's sort of sad," the guy in front of me said. He turned to look at the nearly empty shelves.

"It's more sad for me," the cashier said. "I'm looking for work."

As I left the place I thought of the old-timers in the living facility across the street. They'd ride their scooters across the street for a few things.

I hope the battery on their carts is strong enough to get them all the way to Wal-Mart.

It won't be much fun for them to visit the empty building.

Does Your Vote Count?

I live in a blue state.

New York will vote Democrat in the presidential election. All of the electoral votes will go to Obama. It's already set in stone.

It's kind of like the NFL season.

We already know the basics.

So, does it matter if I go vote?

Bush lost the popular vote in 2000. He, of course, was named president...the circumstances are a bit muddled.

I know a lot of people who don't vote.

"That's how they pick you for jury duty," one buddy told me. "I don't want to get involved."

He's never voted. Never served on a jury either.

I have voted religiously since I turned 18. Hell, I voted for Walter freaking Mondale!

Yeah, that was me.

But I don't see the point now. Just as I don't see the point to argue anything. When fact checkers are counting the lies the candidates tell, during the speeches, it kind of turns me off to the whole thing.

When they parade the family out there, and the wife cries and the children and the dogs make an appearance (just don't put them on top of the car), I cringe.

And it don't matter.

You live in Buffalo, New York and you vote for Romney/Ryan...you lose. You vote the other way and you win. You don't vote at all, it doesn't matter. It's all settled.

So why all the ads?

There has been a billion dollars spent so far and we're two months away. We see the pro-Romney ads here.

Wasted money.

We see the pro-Obama ads.

Don't need to see them.

So, some 30 years after casting my first vote for Walter, I'm thinking of not doing it.

No sense.

Someone out there tell me why it matters one iota.

"You don't vote, you don't have a right to complain," Another friend, who does vote, told me.

"Oh, I'll be complaining," I said. "Either way."

"True," he answered. "In an avalanche of lies, a truer statement has never been spoken."

Monday, September 3, 2012

Take a Day Off

Unless you don't work at all...then spend the day working somewhere.

Just to change it up.

My first job was at the age of 14. I picked berries.

It sucked.

I went from there to picking peppers and tomatoes. We worked the fields till we got our back burned. I was trying to get my facts learned.

'Baby I got my facts learned real good right now.'

Went from there to a grocery store. I bagged groceries while staring at the cashiers. It was more a social job than a wage-earning one.

I learned to drink beer during that stint.

And the beer drinking came in handy during my years as a Union Laborer. I was making money hand-over-fist. I worked real, real hard. Shackled and Drawn.

Knew I didn't want to work that hard.

But could never leave the construction field. To this day the most honest guys I know break their backs for a living.

When I graduated college I took a few jobs. I've been lucky. I've gotten out of bed with a destination in mind every day since 1986.

26 years and counting. Up and out.

Give them a better day than what they expected when they hired me.

I can honestly say that with the possible exception of a couple of days I've done that. (The day after the Rod Stewart concert back in the 90's was a lost day). Dad taught me: 'If the guy next to you is working hard, work harder.'

And that's the basic premise, right?

Yet in all those years of being out there, I've seen a shift.

Don't get me wrong: A lot of people still work hard, but there are way more people out there who don't believe in the creed mentioned above.

"What can you do for me?"

It saddens me that there's a lot of that going on these days.

Personal days?

"Get sick on your own time," my first labor boss told me.

Family Leave Act?

Your family is better off if you're working.

Hurt?

"Did you punch out as soon as you did this?" My boss asked me as I held a rag around a bloody hand back at the grocery store.

We both laughed, but you know what?

I felt bad for costing him time.

So, take a day off. Appreciate your job, and tomorrow, when you get back in the saddle, remember a couple of things:

1). It's a privilege to work.

2). Do more than they expect.

It's not about them.

It's about you.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Football Preview 2012-2013- More of the Same

It's that time of year, folks. Yep, I'm gonna' piss off all the football fans.

My kids are amazed. Last year I had the Giants losing to the Pats in the Super Bowl. The year before I had the Packers winning it all. I got the winner the year before that too. I'm a whisker hair off being 6 for 6 in the last 3 years of match-ups.

And I can't name more than a handful of players on each team.

You know why I always seem to get it right?

Because it's easy.

Same teams in the mix every year. Most of the rest of the league right at .500. The NFL sells mediocrity and we buy it with bushels of money.

(I can almost hear Pops seething).

Clip out the blog. Save it. I bet I'm real close to being right.

NFC Playoff Teams?

Packers, Giants, Bears, Saints, 49ers and Lions...took me 3 seconds to think of that and write it.

AFC playoff teams?

Patriots, Broncos, Steelers, Ravens, Bengals and Chiefs

About six of those teams have a legitimate chance for the Super Bowl.

I'm calling it this way:

Packers over Ravens.

Done deal.

The Patriots could be there. The Giants have a chance. Steelers would need luck.

Everyone else is schedule fodder.

Including the Bills who will finish 7 and 9.

They will build a statue of Chan Gailey here in town for that record.

LET'S GO BUFFALO!!!!!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

What's Your Take?

How come everyone needs to have an opinion these days?

Why isn't it just restricted to the genius behind the Thoughts of a Common Man blog?

What does it mean, anyway, to "listen to someone's take?'

You hear it all the time.

"Hi, I'm a first-time caller, long-time listener. I just wonder if you think it's right for people to collect welfare and still spend money on cigarettes. I just want to hear your take. I'll hang up and listen."

That is the actual thought processed on one of the talk shows I was listening to yesterday.

How'd the guy respond?

"My take is that people shouldn't smoke."

My take on that was:

"What the F*&% am I listening to!"

Yet everyone having a take seems to be a real problem these days.

What the hell is a pundit? And where the hell do they come up with the panel of experts?

I'd much rather get my news from the comedians who are sending tweets as the conventions go along.

Bill Maher:

"Chris Christie is a good speaker so I was somewhat surprised when his argument collapsed and the stage didn't."

Rob Delaney is another comedian who has a million of them.

Yet Maher is also a problem on the left side as Big Fat Rush is on the Right.

Both are taken as spokesmen for the party that they are thought to be affiliated with.

Do I have that right?

Is Rush a Republican?

The problem being that at least Maher is funny.

So I have a real problem with everyone having an opinion on everything. Can't we just all keep our mouths shut?

Ah hell, who am I kidding?

It would be nice if some of the experts sprinkled a bit of truth in now and again, but I can't even make that argument with a straight face.

Let's all just keep spewing our bull crap.

It's what makes this country great.

"He Wants to Hang 'Em All"

Every day there's something nasty. So sick of the nasty. Sometimes the nastiness is passed off as a joke. Other times it's locke...