Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Easter Story

Every Easter I think of the seasons of my youth spent in Church. I recall having to do the Stations of the Cross as an altar boy with all the other altar boys, standing and kneeling and kneeling and standing...all of us thoroughly aggravated with all of the ceremony. There was one such year when I had a horrible cold and it seemed to go on forever and ever. I remember complaining a bit to the priest and he mentioned that Jesus carried the cross and I was 'whining' because I had a cold. It forever scarred me! I went in search of the story this morning.

Come on up for the rising! Happy Easter!


"So what if the Easter bunny wins the hearts of children everywhere? So why not strike "Easter vacation" from the vocabulary of our schools and substitute "Spring break"?

What difference does Easter make anyway?

It makes a lot of difference to those who are in touch enough with reality to take life and death seriously. It made a lot of difference to a very real woman named Mary. Let me tell you her story.

Mary had the heart-wrenching honor of washing the dried blood from Jesus' lifeless body as two other followers prepared the tomb cut into Jerusalem's cold limestone. Mary wept as she washed--wept and remembered....

She had been born to luxury, heiress to a textile fortune, a native of Magdala, a town along the coast of Galilee. "Little good it did me," she mused. Money had brought the opposite of happiness. She look back at her teen years as a blur of painful, compulsive acting out. Her parents had thrown up their hands in despair, she recalled. She recollected the gnawing fear, the self-loathing that ate at her very core. And she could remember the caring boldness in Jesus' penetrating eyes as he had confronted the demons that tormented her and commanded them to be gone forever. That had been the last of the frantic, distraught Mary. A gentle, peace-filled Mary had taken her place. Until today.

Today she had seen her Lord die an excruciating death, his body weight hanging limp from the nails driven through his hands and feet, suspended from a cross like a common criminal.

Her heart caught in her throat as she remembered and wept and washed away the caked blood with her tears. She wept, too, as she watched the men lift Jesus' corpse onto the tomb's carved ledge, and roll a massive stone across the doorway.

Was all her hope for nothing? What of all the thousands of diseased bodies he had healed? The broken lives he had restored? The promises of the Kingdom of God?

But early Sunday morning she was back at the tomb to finish anointing his body. When she arrived the tomb stood open, stone pushed to the side, ashes of the Roman guards' watchfire still smoldering. "How can they be so cruel?" she cried as she ran to tell the apostles. So cruel.

But it wasn't cruelty that rolled away the stone that Easter morning. It was the powerful hand of God as Jesus Christ stepped forth brimming with Life.

Mary saw him, mistaking him for the gardener. But there was no mistaking his familiar voice--"Mary." She fell at his feet, tears of grief melting into tears of joy. "Rabboni," she said as she looked into his face. "Teacher."

Yes, Easter bunnies still capture the hearts of children and schools talk about Spring break, but you and I know what really happened on Easter.

In an instant history changed forever, because where once the human mortality rate had held stead at 100%, now it skipped a beat as Jesus, Savior of all mankind, stepped out of dead statistics into life. Death is the last word no longer for Jesus' followers, life is.

"Believe in Bhudda," some still insist amid the marketplace of the world religions. "Confucius," say the Chinese. "Mohammed," cry the Muslims. "Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh," shout his followers, and on it goes.

"Jesus," Mary would tell us, "He changed my life." And millions around the globe would echo, "Mine, too. He touched my life, too."

For while religious leaders have come and gone, the fact remains: only One stepped forth from the tomb. Only One has risen from the dead. Only One has conquered death. Only One offers the promise of eternal life to those who follow him.

"I am the resurrection and the life," Jesus said. "He who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die."

So why do Jesus' followers gather in churches on Easter morning? To show off their Easter finery? God forbid. Rather

•To celebrate the victory of Life over death,
•To help their children and grandchildren share their faith that Jesus is alive, and
•To declare that Jesus Christ is Lord indeed!"

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Heart of the Matter

I wrote this one about ten years ago. Found it the other day. Smiled at the thought of the woman. It's a true story.


On a bitterly cold Saturday morning in November, I stopped at a store for diapers, formula and dog food. I had a miserable hacking cough and an aching head. I was dead-tired and aggravated that there was one cashier with six people in line.

I rolled my eyes and swore only to be embarrassed when I realized the elderly woman behind me had heard me curse.

“I’m sorry. I’m just miserable.”

The lady smiled. I figured she was about seventy. A quick glance at her cart told me she probably lived alone.

“I don’t have enough time left to be miserable,” she said. “I’m ninety-three. I can go at anytime. I need to enjoy every second of what’s left.”

I was floored by her proclamation. “You can’t be ninety-three. You look so young.”

“That’s because I’m never miserable. Good to meet ya'. I’m Donna.”

We shook hands as a question raced across my mind.

“What’s the secret to a good life?”

She smiled as she touched my left arm.

“I’ve always wanted someone to ask me that.”

Donna talked as the cashier scanned our groceries. She kept talking as we exited the store and walked through the snow to a Chevy in the center of the lot. As I loaded her car, she continued speaking, softly explaining the five most important lessons in her life. When she was through speaking, I stood frozen in place. Its eight months later (about ten years and 8 months later now!), and I can’t stop thinking about what Donna said.

Be considerate of other people.

Understand that the guy that cut you off might be on his way to an emergency.

Clean up after yourself – don’t leave your shopping cart in the middle of the parking lot where it might roll into someone else’s car.

Don’t just tolerate the differences in people; celebrate them because variety is the spice of life and you should be open to new ideas.

Work hard and play fair

Do your job. Every day. No one owes you anything. You’re not granted privileges without working for them.

Challenge yourself to be better every day. By making and meeting challenges, you’ll grow as a person one day at a time.

Surround yourself with love

Surround yourself with people you love and love unconditionally realizing everyone has something to offer. When you feel you have run out of love – look for more.

When you feel like you’re alone - search for beauty around you - concentrate on the best things life has to offer:

Like when a mother holds her child for the very first time.

Or when the sun sets bright orange in the sky.

Or when your child laughs.

Or when someone tells you they missed you.

Look up at the sky

Understand the universe is huge and you are not at the center.

Find a star in the sky and be thankful you made it through another day.

Understand nothing in life is guaranteed. Know that those stars numbered, day by day, will provide you with a clear mind.

Fill your heart with faith and hope

Believe in a higher love; understand everyone has problems and know we will all see our share of misery. In the battle between misery and faith make certain faith wins every time.

Surrender your life to a higher power, realizing life might not seem fair, but your reaction to pain and suffering is what matters.

On that cold morning, Diane said:

Everything you need for a happy life already exists inside you. You’ll never know when life may end, but no one can afford to be miserable.

Think of the innocence of a child. Walk with your head held high and your eyes wide open. Remind yourself you’re young, vital, and important and maybe someday when you’re old and gray someone will come along and tell you that you look twenty-three years younger than you really are.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Hero Intact

I may have mentioned it before but one of the most amazing sporting events I was ever at was a 1972 basketball game between the Lakers and the Braves. It was in the midst of the Lakers 33-game winning streak.

Dad bought those tickets...just behind the Lakers bench because his 8-year-old son was obsessed with everything Wilt Chamberlin.

Those tickets would run about $1500 now.

Each!

Dad, John and I sat there for all of seven bucks each, actually. But Dad was probably making less than a $100 a week then.

Regardless, I spent the entire night watching my hero play. I recall sitting there thinking that the guy just couldn't be real. He was gigantic. Bigger than life.

I've cherished that memory since.

Recently, the Miami Heat have been chasing the Lakers record for the streak.

At first I thought it was cool. It was something my kids could remember. Hell, Jerry West was all right with it. In an interview he claimed that he had the streak forever.

Then I thought some more.

In my mind's eye images from that night 42 years ago flashed to me.

Wilt with his gold headband.

West drilling a jumper.

John smiling next to me.

Dad. So young. So happy. So perfect.

My hero, really.

He was bigger than Wilt.

LeBron was being interviewed.

He said that back then things were so much different. He said that men were bigger, faster, stronger now. He said that the level of competition wasn't what it is today.

Poop!

On Wednesday night I laid down for sleep. I'd sort of made peace with it all, but the one image of Wilt laughing as the 4th quarter wound down stuck in my head. My Dad guiding us up the escalator was also front and center. I remember that because we had heard a horror story about a woman who'd fallen backwards down the escalator at a previous Braves game.

I remember Dad's hand on my shoulder as we went up.

I recall being terrified.

I hit the Twitter feed on Wednesday night.

The Heat were down 7 to the Bulls with 4 minutes left.

The boys were watching it on the big television. Matt and Jake were rooting for the streak to continue. LeBron is their false hero these days.

Sam and I were on the side of it ending.

As it wound down I told the story of that long ago game. The Bulls were gonna' stop the streak. My hero worship was intact.

Yet, funny thing.

I wasn't thinking much about Wilt as I climbed the stairs to go to bed.

Instead.

I was remembering the sacrifice Dad made to get me to that game.

He knew his son had a special interest.

A silly thing, really.

But he guided me up the escalator.

My hero.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Mental Health Day

Don't you hate when the car starts to get filthy?

I spend a lot of time in my car so when the dirt piles up on the floor and there's dirt all around I start to get antsy. I planned on cleaning it a number of times over the last few weeks. After finishing up a heavy work schedule I decided that I needed a mental health day of sorts.

I headed to the car wash.

Why the hell, after putting people on the moon, and finding everything you need on your phone at the click of a few buttons, can't we find a change machine that doesn't spit the dollar bill back at you 11 freaking times before it gives you four quarters?

"Come on!" I screamed.

It took seven attempts.

I took the plastic mats out of the car and hung them on the hook. I headed to the control panel.

OUT OF ORDER!

Mats back in the car.

Cleaned things up.

Went to the vacuum. Put in a dollar for 4 minutes. I needed 6 minutes. I wasn't going back to the change machine.

GOOD ENOUGH.

I headed home and grabbed my checkbook and 3 letters that I had to mail. I also grabbed the laundry. Might as well finish that and then pay for the taxes.

Grabbed the dogs, loaded them into the car and then headed back into the house looking for the letters and the checkbook.

Not upstairs. Not downstairs.

WHAT'S UP?

NO!!!!!!

I stopped the wash cycle.

Little bits of paper drifted to the ground. My 3 letters.

The checkbook was soaked.

Headed up to check out the spot where I kept the extra checks.

NONE LEFT!

Called to order new checks.

I got automated response service.

God! I feel great!

It pays to take a day off to clear the mind, doesn't it?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What It Gives

February and March are tough months because I really get tired of the sound of my own voice. I do a lot of speaking during that time and while it gives me a chance to work out kinks in the stand-up routine, it becomes tiresome. I deliver the same punch lines over and over and talk through the same topics that I've been speaking about for twenty plus years.

I'm relieved when the sessions are off the calendar.

This year the last speaking session was on Friday...for a little while anyway. As I headed back from Syracuse early in the evening with a bunch of college basketball games and my boys waiting for me I knew I was in for an exciting weekend.

I would try and relax and just just let love give what it gives. My voice would be replaced by the voices of my boys.

When I hit the door Friday night Sam greeted me with his pools already circled in black and red. He was talking a mile-a-minute.

We sat together and watched the 7:30 game. We transitioned right into the 10 p.m. game. Jake was in and out of the room as well, following the action, busting on his brother, and listening to me say:

"Just take it down a notch."

"I'm gonna' be screaming all weekend," Sam warned.

My beautiful wife, you ask?

She watched a rented movie in her room alone.

On Saturday the games started at noon and ended at midnight. We didn't miss any of it.

For fun we also did a baseball fantasy draft that lasted four hours.

"What do you think?" Sam asked.

"That call is garbage!" he screamed.

"Your bracket is shot," he chided. (Hi Kim).

"Jake is winning again!"

"Duke sucks!"

"Syracuse sucks!"

"Villanova should've won!!"

I'm telling you. When he wasn't within three inches of my ear, he was coming around the corner screaming. When I went to sleep, I dreamed of his voice.

On Sunday night with a whole 'nother game starting and a 2nd baseball fantasy draft underway he stood at my right arm.

"Are you thinking of taking Jeter?" he asked.

He was still as fired up as he had been when I walked through the door on Friday night. I thought about asking him to go downstairs for just a few minutes so that I could at least pretend to think straight.

I looked straight into his eyes. They were dancing with the possibilities of who to take with my next draft pick.

Let love give what it gives.

Sam left the room for just a moment. I popped in to check on Kathy.

"You wanted boys," she said.

They'd left her to rest all weekend.

Twenty years from now I'd miss every word that came out of any of their mouths.

I'd do anything to hear their young voices again.

"Sam!" I yelled. "I took Jeter!"

"Yes!" He called back.

He voiced his approval.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I Need My Mail!!!!

It's interesting to me but there was a photo of people gathered together in the cold to protest the fact that there won't be mail delivered on Saturday a.m.

Really?

That's what gets you out in front of the local town hall to protest?

Not getting your discount book from the grocery store?

They had signs with rhymes on them to show the world their anger.

Now I get the fact that there are some people who depend on that Saturday income. I understand that people may need certain items mailed to them. I also know that it might aggravate me if I have to wait until Monday to receive something that I'm waiting on.

But I'm not heading down to the village square with a poster board around my neck to protest it.

In fact, while the protests of years gone by seemed interesting, I'm not sure that there's anything that would make me want to gather with other people to scream about.

The pro-gun protests resulted in people getting shot.
The anti-war protests always end in violence.
The pro-life protests sometimes result in the loss of lives.

We don't protest right. We still haven't quite got it down.

I saw Argo last month and those Iranians had the old protest march down pat. They stormed the embassy with anger. They were a scary freaking mob of lunatics.

Peaceful demonstration?

The hell with that!

I don't know. I might just be getting tired. We have teenagers shooting toddlers in the face. We have economic problems, civil unrest, world-wide terror, a shortage of food, too many people, no White House Easter egg tours, an aging Yankee team, Bruce all the way over in Australia, a sore hip, unbelievable college costs, increasing taxes, a lousy football team, a pathetic hockey team, and a dog with an ear infection and we are worried about...

...getting mail on Saturday?

They're broke.
They need to cut costs.
It's been mismanaged for years.
Their employees are sour pusses.

They ask everyone if there's anything perishable, liquid or fragile the very moment after you tell them you're mailing out a book.

Here's my most recent trip in:

Me: I'd like to send it media mail. It's a book.

Him: Is there anything liquid, perishable, or fragile in here?

Me: It's not an edible book.

Him: (sour puss)

Me: No, sir.

Him: We can send it priority mail for $82.50 or First Class for $76.40 or media mail for $2.52.

Me: Really?

Him: (Sour puss)

Me: (pretending to mull over my options) Um, I guess I'll go with media mail.

You know how to solve the crisis?

Write a sign that tells us of our options. Don't ask us if we need any additional stamps, mailers, or $ orders.

Smile a little.

Honestly, I'm thinking that if the sour pusses get some rest on Saturday's we might all be better off.

One less thing to protest.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Happy Birthday, Brother

So today we celebrate the birthday of one of the funniest, hard-working guys in the world.

My brother, Jim.

I often tell a story about heading to a party in a college town with Jim. It was at least 25 years ago. About a mile from home we were stopped by the cops for speeding.

I wasn't driving.

Yet we were late for the party and Jim grew impatient with the young cop who was issuing him the citation. Much to my dismay Jim lowered his driver's side window and very politely sceamed out:

"Let's go! Are you writing your first ticket ever? We're late!!"

The cop wasn't real pleased, but...

Soon enough, we were on our way.

The party was held at a bar that was a short walk from the private home where we were hanging out.

"Just be careful to finish your beer before you hit the street," our host said. "The cops like to hand out tickets for open containers."

Two steps out the door a huge spotlight shown on the four of us. One guy was holding a beer.

As we was being lowered into the car for the quick ride to the station the cop said, "It's gonna' cost you $50."

"My brother has it," Jim said.

I was nervous at the station. Jim was telling jokes. I paid quickly and got him out of there.

Soon enough, we were on our way.

As we drove back to the party we got confused in the unfamiliar area. We were pulled over for driving the wrong way down a one-way street.

I wasn't driving.

The cop was sympathetic, but he wrote the ticket quickly.

Soon enough, we were on our way.

With our 3rd citation in hand we finally set off to the party. We stayed a little while but left early enough, and sober.

"I want something to eat," Jim said.

He pulled up to the McDonald's Drive-thru and promptly ordered 15 cheeseburgers.

"Why did you order 15?" I asked.

"I told you I was hungry."

Jim was still behind the wheel. He was into his fifth cheeseburger when we came to a 4-way stop at a red light. As he started into his right-hand turn I saw the sign that prohibited turning right on red.

Three minutes later there was a cop at the window. Jim had a half-eaten cheeseburger in one hand and the three tickets in his other.

"Don't bust my balls," he said to the cops, "I already got 3 tickets tonight."

The cop laughed.

He let us off and soon enough, we were finally home.

The next day Jim passed me in the hallway of my parents home.

"What're you doing tonight?" he asked.

"Dude, I've been waiting for the police to knock on the door all day. I wouldn't go get the mail with you!"

That's my brother Jim.

He has a heart as big as the Grinch at the end of the movie.

He's funny, brilliant and we love him.

Happy Birthday.

Be safe.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Time for a Deep Breath

Wow, March is sort of crazy around here. Not only do we have the NCAA Tourney but it's also time for our baseball draft and I'm always getting my side of beef this time of year.

For a guy who likes control the days fly by in a frenzy of sorts that screams of being out of control.

Remembering my Yoga instructions I was trying to listen to my breaths all day on Saturday.

And then I saw the story of the two teenagers who shot the toddler in the face somewhere near Atlanta, I think, and it pulled me right back to that feeling that the whole world is a really messed up place, and being able to chat hoops and trade baseball picks, and load the freezer is a real luxury.

Not to be ignored as anything other than a blessing.

One of the most difficult parts of being a writer is being able to imagine the scene.

I was, unfortunately, able to really grasp the terror of that mother as she was confronted. I thought about how she felt telling the two idiots before her that she didn't have any money.

I imagined her fear as they told her that they'd shoot her baby.

Deep in her heart she must have thought that there was no way they'd really do such a thing.

But one of them did.

We've had a couple of child murders up here over the last couple of months. Boyfriends who are overwhelmed with crying kids. They beat the kids to stop the crying.

But the Atlanta thing is something totally different, isn't it? The stories are equally tragic, but lines are being crossed.

It's hard to dismiss pure evil.

So I took another deep breath and went over my brackets with two of the boys sitting beside me. We teased one another and laughed at a couple of the remarks that Sir Charles was saying on the pregame show.

"Wow," Did you see what happened to that baby?" Jake asked as he negotiated his way through his Twitter feed.

"Wow is about it," I said.

There was nothing brilliant to say. I took another deep breath.

There's just a real meanness in this world.

"Who you got winning it all in your first bracket?" Sam asked me.

Back to things we could understand.

"Indiana," I said.

Take a breath. Say a prayer. Push the meanness down.

Out of my mind.

No way to control things.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Cheetah is Back!

So, flipping through the stations the other morning, Cheetah Woods was front and center giving me a lesson. Not a golf lesson, mind you; his lesson was:

About morality!!!

Cheetah was talking about the privacy he and his new girlfriend Lindsey Vonn (who must be the dumbest woman this side of Rhianna) deserves.

Cheetah was shooting down the stalk-arazzi, as he calls him, and he was just so dang clever by putting out photos of the two of them as he devalued the cheap shots they were taking of him trying to get amorous.

Good job!

Maybe you can also take a few camera shots of the next hostess you pick up at Denny's and throw them out there before Lindsey has to see them when the darn camera freaks beat you to it.

Cheetah, cheetah, cheetah.

Give us a break.

Cheetah also went on to tell us how "proud" he is of his own ability to bounce back from "personal tragedy" to be one of the best in the sport again.

"I've worked hard."

No, no, no, cheetah.

I work hard. The guy cooking for twelve hours a shift works hard. The guy hefting drywall works hard. The guy digging a ditch works hard. The nurse standing on her feet shift, after shift, after shift works hard.

You swing a stick at a ball trying to hit it into a hole!

Toddlers do that.

It's like that other hard-working douche cheater who rides a freaking bike.

"Don't you believe in second chances?" A very respected, hard-working friend asked me.

"He can return to the congregation," I said, "but he can't be the preacher."

Morality lessons from Cheetah?

Give me a break.

I root against him at every turn.

As his ball approaches the green I cheer for it to roll down the backside of the hill and into the water.

When he pumps his fist in glee, I die a little inside.

He's proud!

Personal tragedy!!

He created it!

Don't we see that?

Why would we cheer for him?

Good luck, Cheetah.

May you triple-bogey everything, and may the poor cart-girl avoid you at the turn.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Say Uncle



The football season had a different feel to it this year. You see, Sam had wounded his Uncle Chuck with a couple of wins in the previous two years. As Sam (and I) ate our free Outback Dinner with an add-on lobster tail both times, Chuck picked up the tab, and took all the heat that Sam brought...

Day

After

Day

After

Day

It wasn't really close this year.

Chuck took the lead with a big week one, and he kept the hammer down.

"I'm 45 points behind," Sam said at mid-season with tears at the corner of his eyes and his beloved Chargers taking another whipping.

"What are you upset about?" I asked.

"That's right! You're paying."

I paid up this past weekend.

You know who cost me the most cash?

Yeah, Sam.

He ordered the full-rack of ribs. He ate 2 pieces of bread. He ordered the side lobster tail and the side grilled shrimp. He had two sides of mashed potatoes with his ribs.

I must admit that my steak and side tail was great, but I was filled to the brim when the waitress came around with the check.

"I'll take the cheesecake," Sam said.

The tab was high.

The laughs were too. Thankfully for Sam I had entertained him by missing the curb in front of Dick's Sporting Goods and stumbling to the pavement. It wasn't near the flop I took a few weeks back, but the results were similar.

"I looked back and he was on the ground," Sam laughed with his cohort, my sister, Corinne. "I was laughing too hard to even think about helping him up."

And the laughs continued all night long as Corinne and Sam worked on mountain-size piece of cheesecake.

"Next year it'll be different," Sam told his uncle.

Damn.

I hope so.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Let the Madness Begin

I have my blue pen and my red pen.

I have the teams that I picked out of the hat (And I did very well this year - the Grape Apes are gonna' be paying me).

I have my brackets filled out and I faxed them in.

The only problem that I truly have is that it is going to be difficult to watch the games on the first two days.

Stupid work is in the way.

And I say all of this because my resident gambler, somehow, was able to get a day off of school tomorrow for the first set of games.

Sam has been talking about the tournament non-stop since last year's tourney ended. He has studied the teams and knows who is good at home, who plays well on the road, who the best player in the nation is and who's gonna' be in trouble when the 3-shot is defended.

He's an awful lot like his Uncle Jeff in that regard. Jeff thoroughly enjoyed the tournament, the betting, the lifting names out of the hat, and chirping loudly when the bracket got busted.

As I picked the names Tuesday night I thought of all that, and the little chirping bird in the room, in the form of my son, kept the memories real alive.

"Who do you think is going to take it all?" Sam asked as I tried to lie down last night.

"I don't know."

"Everyone keeps saying Indiana or Louisville, but anything can happen. It's March Madness."

I didn't want to break it to him that if they held a gun to my head I couldn't name more than 5 players on any team.

But you know what?

I'll be in full-geek form by Friday night at ten o'clock as we count how many wins we have out of the first 32.

I'd like to do well.

I have a ton of dollars invested.

I'd rather Sam do well this year, though (please don't tell him that)

Because he has his whole heart invested.

And he reminded me of what I've lost.

Just by being a love gained.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Shot Thru the Back

And you're to blame.

Damn.

Another shot in the back to alleviate the pain in my hip and you wanna' hear the best part?

My hip feels the same and now my back hurts.

I'm supposed to feel relief, if there is any, in 3 to 5 days.

I headed to a job the morning after the shot and walked with an old buddy of mine up the stairs to the 4th floor. He was telling me about his stress test and how they shut him down 7 minutes in because his heart was skipping a few beats.

"Well you had a nice run," I told him.

"You bastard," he said. "You're supposed to be making me feel better."

We were on the 4th floor after our successful trip and we were looking out at the City of Buffalo behind the heavy glass.

"Make you feel better?" I asked. "If this window opened, I'd have to think about taking the quick way down."

"I'd land on top of you," he said.

"The worst part about it is I still think I'm 18," he added.

"That is the worst part, isn't it?" I said. "So hard to believe we'd wind up like this."

Yet my buddy was certainly frightened with his failed test. He spoke of how he isn't ready to pack it all in yet.

"I'm just over 60," he said. "I was planning on working 5 more years at least. What if they shut me down? I don't have the money to retire now."

"Homeless shelters," I said.

He laughed.

"You are a bastard."

By the time we hit the bottom steps we were talking about being smart.

"Get off the hip before you do more damage," he said.

"And you follow doctor's orders," I told him.

"Yeah, like you do."

We both laughed.

"It really has been a good run," he said.

I actually felt better as we parted.

Hell, I got 12 good years left before I start failing stress tests.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Winners!



So - two championship games this past weekend.

Two chances to see the kids bring home the first-place hardware.

As you can probably guess from the expression on Sam's face, his team lost.

So did Jake's.

But he smiled. Cause he hit a bomb.

The basketball season was exciting for them all year long. They both played well. They both talked great game. They both enjoyed the time on the court and the attention they got. They were well-coached in a good league that taught sportsmanship and emphasized fun.

There were a couple of games that were a little iffy because the parents were screaming from the stands, but overall, no one was taken away in handcuffs, and they were able to laugh off the end of the season loss because they gave it their best effort.

It's weird watching the kids play for a couple of reasons.

First, there's the pride thing. I want them to do well so badly. You hate to see them dribble one off their foot or miss a free throw. When they do it right there's a better feeling than if you actually made the shot yourself.

OK...maybe not.

I really liked hitting long shots.

Yet the worst thing about it is what happens in your own mind. At 48 a couple of trips up and down the court is a tiring thing. Not sure I can even do it without dry-heaving, but when a kid is left wide open in the corner...

...and he misses...

My mind tells me that I would have knocked it down.

Not sure I still would.

But when it was all said and done, I can rest easy that it was a winning year for a couple of boys who's teams finished second.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Purple Drank

Turns out I don't know a whole lot about Lil' Wayne.

A few years ago my kids mentioned that he was the true music superstar and that thirty years from now people would mention him in higher acclaim than Springsteen.

Than he went to jail and was sort of out of the loop as Bruce toured the world.

I must admit that I dismissed the guy as an idiot.

Perhaps I was being closed-minded, and out of touch with the young folk.

As the reports started fluttering in that the Weezer was in bad shape, and perhaps even dying, I looked up the reasons why a 30-year old guy might find him in such rough shape.

I'd never heard of Sizzrup.



Yet who am I to judge just based on a photo? Or the fact that I'd never tried the syrup mix that mixes codeine-laced cough syrup with Sprite and Jolly Ranchers.

Who ever heard of such a thing?

Twitter was blowing up. People were telling me about his art.

"Lil' Wayne is dying," I told Jake when he entered the room.

His face changed expression. I saw genuine hurt.

What was I missing?

I looked up a few lyrics.

Here's my favorite. I blocked out a few of the letters where the bad words are, but you will most likely still grasp the poetry.

Uh, I got Young Money up, and now I got my feet up
Tune in this b*tch tell my niggas throw them B’s up
Doing what the f*ck I want, hate me all the f*ck you want
Real niggas f*ck with me and I don’t give a f*ck who don’t
Lock the CEO up, and I’m the CEO f*ck
Prison in February and I ain’t in no rush
Drink till I throw up, nigga roll more blunts
Ball so hard man I got to go pro once
Hit them with the shot gun, call that s*it the stop button
Call me Doctor Carter, AKA young wild nigga
AKA no trial nigga, AK click clack bawl nigga
Fu*king with the kid and you’ll be missing like Bilal nigga
Yeah haha, swagger stupid
Pack a Uzi, hundred clips nigga
That’s a movie, aim at your toupee
You sweet as Kool-Aid, crème Brule
I’m sharp as blue-ray, I f*ck her today
Then she got to skate, Young Lupe
I hit the beat hard, Bobby Boucher
I keep them tools on me, get the screw face


Bruce's legacy might be safe.

Yet as is sometimes done on Twitter the truth had been stretched a bit.

Twenty minutes later I read a feed from the legend himself.

He was doing okay.

Just had to rid his body of some of his syrup.

"It's not true," another old fogey texted me. "Lil' Wayne is okay."

"Oh Thank the Lord," I responded.

How would the world survive without such a poet and musical genius?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

My Beautiful Wife

We've been together a long time. Birthdays come and go, but each day still seems special to me.

You see, before my beautiful wife came along my longest relationship was a lunch date. I hadn't been interested in such things and truth be told, when I was out on a date they usually lost interest after watching me eat.

But my beautiful wife stuck around. She realized that the rest of the world was simply misunderstanding my charms. I knew I was in trouble when she didn't run away. In fact, I remember telling her one time:

"Oh shit, we're gonna' get married, aren't we?"

All the years later. It was still a solid move.

Saved me from being the Jack Nicholson character in that old movie with Helen Hunt. (Although I'm still morphing that way at times).

She stops it from happening.

And it makes me think of a song that Billy Joel wrote a long time ago. It's a song that my Dad fell in love with when Sinatra covered it.

"A beautiful love song," Dad said. "You make it a long time in a marriage and you'll know what he's saying."

I got it, Dad.

Thanks to my beautiful wife.

Just the Way You Are - Billy Joel

Don't go changing, to try and please me
You never let me down before

Don't imagine you're too familiar
And I don't see you anymore

I wouldn't leave you in times of trouble
We never could have come this far

I took the good times, I'll take the bad times
I'll take you just the way you are

Don't go trying some new fashion
Don't change the color of your hair

You always have my unspoken passion
Although I might not seem to care

I don't want clever conversation
I never want to work that hard

I just want someone that I can talk to
I want you just the way you are.

I need to know that you will always be
The same old someone that I knew

What will it take till you believe in me
The way that I believe in you.

I said I love you and that's forever
And this I promise from the heart

I could not love you any better
I love you just the way you are.


Anywhoha...

Happy 73rd birthday to my beautiful penguin wife.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Spirit of Life



Photos such as the one above are what makes life worth it, you know?

That's an old buddy from my hometown in the middle.

Anthony George spearheads a "Bald for Bucks" charity drive in order to fight back against cancer.

A little while ago, Anthony lost his sister Cathy to the horrible disease. I'm sure that it doesn't seem like a little while ago to Anthony.

Those moments have a way of always being part of the immediate present.

And Anthony is still fighting back.

In honor.

Out of love.

Through his grief.

To help others.

That's the real cool thing about life.

Not giving in when it would be easy to do so.

Not caving to the temptation to fill the empty spaces with things that cause destruction.

Closing the void with an attempt to make changes.

My sister does it with her Queen Team.

My buddy Gag runs marathons.

Anthony goes bald to help.

The spirit of life is most alive in the moments when we are helping someone else.

Great job, buddy.

A Former Responsible Gun Owner

The difficulty with the gun laws that are on the books, or soon to be on the books, is that pro-gun people would like to be not checked to own a weapon.

"Criminals won't follow the rules," they say.

True.

Yet the problem with it is that you don't become a true criminal until you actually misuse the gun that you bought legally.

And that gives the responsible gun owners a bad name.

Take for instance the guy in Bradford, Pa. who allegedly had a fight with his wife for having an alleged affair. He worked in the Department of Corrections so I'm assuming that he was a responsible gun owner. He allegedly drank all day as he argued with his wife about that alleged affair and then the only thing that isn't really alleged is that he fired a shot.

At himself.

In an effort to get his wedding ring off his finger.

He shot his hand nearly clearly off.

The ironic part?

The ring still didn't come off his finger.

Some things are meant to be.

Yet therein lies the problem with guns.

We all have bad days. We all react in anger to a given situation. A lot of people like to drink and perhaps do other things that make them a little loopy and out of sorts, mentally.

And if there's a gun around.

Yet taking them away from everyone isn't the answer, right?

Evidently not as the backlash will tell you, but its a chicken and egg scenario when you speak to a gun owner and describe the riddle above.

Responsible gun owner shoots something because he's mentally unstable or or drunk or unfit to own one after a certain amount of time.

A buddy of mine follows the shootings along with me.

"Four dead in Herkimer," he texted recently.

"Former responsible gun owner," I replied.

How do you think the dude with the missing digits felt after he sobered up? He'll be going to jail for his misuse of his firearm to be sure. His marriage may also be in some difficulty. He probably forfeited his gun rights now, along with the trigger finger on his off-hand, but why is it always after something happens?

I really get a headache thinking about it.

I also really hold my breath hoping that the next major one is about a century away.

It most likely isn't, though.

There has to be an answer to this riddle.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Fifty Grand a Day

The Bills just released their former starting quarterback.

By all accounts Ryan Fitzpatrick seemed like a good human being. He was a pretty poor NFL QB though, and no matter how nice a guy you are, that catches up.

Don't feel bad for the dude. It turns out he was getting paid $50,000

A Day!!!!

For 501 straight days.

Now don't get me wrong here. I like sports. I always have. I also don't begrudge a guy getting paid if someone is willing to pay him, but folks...

Folks, folks, folks...

What in the hell are we doing?

The sequester bullshit has cost people their jobs.

I just read an article about special education programs being cut to the bone.

We can't get sick people to the doctors.

We have people doing jumping jacks because the minimum wage is being raised to $9 per hour.

You know how much drywall a guy has to hump at 9 bucks an hour to get to one days pay for a NFL quarterback who won 8 games over those 501 days?

It's not Ryan Fitzpatrick's fault.

God Bless Him.

We were willing to pay $100 a seat to watch him and his band of idiots take a beating at least 5 out of 7 times a year. If the existence of the team came up for a vote it would be about 98% in favor of keeping them.

But 50 grand a day!

Think of all that you have to do for one day of his pay.

Up and out of bed...what?

330 days?

Lunch with some idiot co-worker chewing off your ear.

The boss riding your ass.

The car rides back and forth (at 4 bucks a gallon, no less).

The endless glances at the clock wishing you were somewhere else.

For 1 day of his pay!

"I love the guys who are cheerful in sports," my buddy said. "The ones who know that they have it made. They sign for the fans, they laugh and enjoy the ride."

"For 50 grand a day they could beat me with a stick for an hour after each game," I said.

"Oh, I'd take a helluva' whooping for that cash," my buddy added.

Poor Fitz.

I wonder.

Can a guy like that apply for unemployment benefits?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Lion King

Did you happen to see that awful story about the woman who was killed while cleaning the Lion's cage?

It's a funny thing about those big animals and those big fish.

When left alone with us, they will crush us, or maul us, or bite us.

As cute as they might seem.

Evidently there was a procedural error of some sort and the lion either picked a lock or was left behind a door that was supposed to be closed but wasn't. There are reports that the poor girl was on the phone and that perhaps the lion just wanted to play with her because he cuffed her, breaking her neck and then didn't really maul her much after that.

We all hate when someone is on the phone and ignoring us, right?

The lion was shot to death so that the rescue people could get to the woman.

And do you know what people are screaming about the lost?

Yep - the dead lion.

"Why did they shoot the poor lion?"

"The lion was just doing what was natural."

"The lion shouldn't be in a cage."

I do see the outrage, but we are sort of burying the lead here, folks.

The poor woman lost her life.

Yet I work in the safety field and it is amazing to me that people will skip simple procedures and then will talk about what a 'tragic accident' it was when the natural course of action takes shape.

For instance:

There once was a man who was operating a lift unit at a strip mall. He had the unit up 40-feet in the air, and he bypassed one of the guards allowing him to move the unit while fully extended.

I stopped by and told him that he probably should follow the safeguards and at the very least fill in the holes on the sidewalk or that he'd put a tire in the hole and flip the freaking thing over.

He assured me that he'd take care of it.

The next day he flipped the freaking thing over and broke everything but his lips.

The rest of the crew spoke of the horrible accident.

He sued the company and the lift manufacturer. He never worked again. In fact, there were a lot of things he never did.

"Isn't it horrible what happened to Jerry?" someone asked me in the weeks following the incident.

"Stupid is as stupid does," I answered.

But can you imagine if after that incident they had shot the lift?

People do need to be trained. People do need to be policed. People do need to understand the dangers and be safeguarded from their own stupidity.

It's not about stealing rights, it's about protecting people from their own worst enemy:

Not the lion.

Not the lift.

Not the pail full of soda

Or the gun

Or the cigarette

But themselves.

'Cause they'll leave the gate open more often than not, and then wonder why they were mauled to death.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The New Pope

So they are having a conclave to elect the new Pope. Is that sort of like a football fantasy draft?

I'm trying hard to picture the scene.

Do they all have to wear their colored robes?

Are there adult beverages consumed?

Pizza and wings?

I'm not sure how it all goes. I know that they send up black smoke if they don't have a Pope yet, and then send up a different colored plume when the choice is made.

I have a few suggestions.

1). Think very hard before electing a Pope that has friends who have molested other friends and/or little children.

It seems impossible that I would have to suggest such a thing for the man who will sit closest to God, but we do have some bad PR to consider, right?

2). If you're going to go with the black guy, you may have to do a little more selling to some people.

There are Catholics out there who actually put up a photo of the Pope. Some of these same folks don't really care for people who don't look exactly like they do. Again, I'm not being controversial here. It's just the truth of the matter.

3). Don't elect the guy named Sicola.

It seems that every single time there is a job occupancy in the office I hear about the leading candidate Sicola. We certainly, coming off the last situation need someone named Pope Sicola holding down the hot seat.

4). Think about going a little younger.

I'm not saying that we need Justin Bieber as the next Pope but there certainly may be an identity crisis of sorts. Do we need to tailor the religion to reach a younger demographic? I'm not sure about all of that, but I sort of cringe whenever I hear someone start talking about Catholics when they are doing stand-up or polishing their monologue because the inevitable Altar Boy joke is just around the corner. I was an Altar Boy. I took pride in a job well done.

5). Bring back the love and compassion.

The church was founded on the principles of Jesus Christ. All jokes aside. All bias aside. Get back to the compassion. Find your way through to the love.

Faith, hope, love, compassion.

None of those things is easy to achieve when there are so many other temptations out there.

The world has changed.

The principles of the church do not have to be compromised.

Yet there does have to be compassion for what the members are going through.

These are certainly confusing times. I'm not sure that the Catholic church will ever find its way back into the good graces of some of the people who are judging them for the actions of a perverted and sinful cast. It is certainly time to come clean, though. No more hiding the sins. No more turning a blind eye.

This is God we're talking about.

The peons way down here need to have faith in the church leaders.

Or the smoke will continue to be black.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Drones, Ice Cream Cones & Sleeping Alone

So we aren't going to use drones to strike down American citizens on human soil.

That's cool.

Now if we can all stop shooting each other.

Not sure we needed that dope talking about it for 13 hours, but what the hell, we got tax $ to spend, right?

Lost a freaking hour of sleep this week.

Why can't they spring us ahead on, say a Tuesday at 3 p.m.?

That way we'd lose an hour of work. I bet we'd all look forward to it rather than dreading the fact that we lose an hour of sleep and then feeling as if we can never catch up.

The spring forward actually seems to cost about 12 hours of sleep for some reason.

You gotta' love spring though. That first day of 55 + temperatures makes you feel as if you're reborn. You start thinking about shooting baskets, golf and ice cream cones.

Still hampered.

I didn't golf, but I shot two baskets as my kids were playing. I called for the ball and hit a 20-footer, asked for it back, hit another one and walked into the house.

"Ugliest shot I've ever seen," Jake laughed.

"Always ends with the WHAP! though," I said.

The wife and I spent some quality time together this weekend. We hadn't actually really seen each other much in a couple of weeks. We decided to get a hotel room so we could use the hot tub.

We listened to a few tunes, watched 48 Hours and then left the place to go home.

You see, neither one of us is very comfortable sleeping next to the other. People laugh when we mention that we have our own rooms, but it's a great thing.

I don't have to watch Nancy Grace or the Good Wife as I'm drifting off to sleep.

She doesn't need to see reruns of The Odd Couple on ME Television, and besides there isn't room for me, Melky, and my beautiful wife.

What is your opinion?

Do married couples need to buy a house on a piece of land and then split a freaking bed?

As we walked out of the hotel at 11 p.m. the hotel clerk was wondering what the hell was wrong with us.

"I'd much rather sleep in my own bed," my wife said.

"For sure," I answered. "Nothing personal, but you're a nightmare to sleep next to."

So, you really wanna' know the secret to a good marriage?

Get some sleep.

Get the hell away from one another as much as possible.

I'm telling you.

It works.

Spring forward, friends.

Monday, March 11, 2013

He Passed It!

I spent part of my Saturday at a couple of local gyms to watch my sons play in their basketball games.

"We win this week we go to the championship game," Sam told me as we headed off that way.

I knew that. They'd been talking about it for weeks. Win or go home. Both teams were still alive with just two weeks left to go.

I was a little late for Jake's game, but coming off last weeks one-point win I was a bit concerned about arriving. A few of the parents had grown incensed with the poor old ref who'd had the gall to call 3-seconds.

I had stopped going to games for that reason.

The parents who believe their kid is destined for the NBA and who trample everything in their path at a game for 15-year-old children absolutely sickens me. I've uttered about five sentences at such games.

"Good D, Jake."

"Break the press in the middle!"

and

"Good hustle!"

That's all the kids need to hear. They don't need to know that everyone sucks, or they'd been cheated, or the other team is playing dirty.

They'll find all that out as they live.

As I entered the parking lot I got a text from Sam:

"Jake is playing amazing. He has five points in the first quarter."

My sons root for each other even though they pretend they don't. Jake was in-bounding the ball a week ago and the gym was quiet.

"The in-bounder sucks!" Sam yelled out, and he and Matt laughed and laughed. Jake found them in the crowd and nodded a smile back.

Jake's team won comfortably and he waited for me to congratulate him. I did and even bought him a slice as we headed towards Sam's game.

Sam was on the floor for the entire game. He whiffed on a couple of free throws, but made a couple of real nice passes.

Yeah, passes!

The entire episode wasn't lost on my varsity coach who just happened to be in the crowd. When Sam's 2nd pass resulted in an easy lay-up my coach said:

"He passed it! He can't be a Fuzzy!"

Dad always had once piece of advice for me before every game:

"They don't put your name in the paper for assists."

After the game Sam asked me about the pass that helped his team win to move on.

"It was a beauty," I said. "But I might have shot that one."

"You shot every one!" he cried.

Two championship games next week.

Two chances to hear screaming parents yelling at everyone else and getting angry and berating refs. I won't be one of them.

I'll sit quietly and root for the boys.

To shoot!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Them's the Breaks

The 27-Time World Champion Greatest Team in the History of Organized Sports the New York Freaking Yankees are off to a rough start this spring.

A-Dork is out until June. Tex and Grandy both pulled up lame. The GM jumped out of a plane and broke his leg. The little Steinbrenners are talking fiscal responsibility.

But I refuse to budge.

Certainly the hard times are in clear focus, but I have faith.

For a few reasons.

1). Derek Jeter.

He's a superstar. He is the epitome of a guy who doesn't know what 'can't' means. He broke his ankle in October. He said that day. 'See you on Opening Day.'

Doubt him all you want.

He'll be batting lead-off against the Suck Sox.

I expect a single to right.

2). Mariano & Andy & Ichiro

All true pros. This team will not suffer, truly suffer, until guys like the three mentioned above are gone. They aren't there yet.

Old guys can still hit and pitch too.

And there's a lesson to be learned in all of it. My boy, Sam, the only truly sensible one - because he's a fan of the 27-Time World Champion Greatest Team in the History of Organized Sports - appears to be a little nervous.

"We'll weather the storm," Jeter said.

He was letting us know that everyone struggles. That life doesn't always go swimmingly. That it wasn't time to fold up the tent. They'd get in there and take their swings.

On my 30th birthday my sister Corinne sent me a photo of a man swinging a bat. The ball was just at the edge of the bat, preparing to make perfect contact.

Every strike brings me closer to my next home run, the caption said.

Who said it, you ask?

The Babe.

He struck out a lot, but he hit 714 home runs back when the illegal substances were the hot dogs he ate in the 4th inning of each game.

That's still my favorite baseball story.

He had two hot dogs delivered to him in the dugout each game.

The Babe.

He played on The 27-Time World Champion Greatest Team in the History of Organized Sports.

They are taking strikes.

But don't get too excited yet.

I wanna' be writing 28 next year.

For all the dopey bastards who doubt them.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Worm

So, fresh off Dennis Rodman's trip to North Korea we have an announcement from that country that they're gonna' ship over some nukes some day soon.

First off, how did Rodman get chosen as the spokesman?

"He's an awesome guy," Rodman said.

Or at least, I think he said that.

When he was talking with Kim Jon Un there were two guys in the room who needed their words translated into English.

But I don't hate Rodman here.

It's easy to take pot shots at the guy. He has a lip ring, a bunch of crazy nights in his past, a few NBA rings, and a real path of self-destruction. He was also fun to watch because no one could ever tell if he was going to flip his lid or lead the league in rebounding.

I just question his diplomatic skills.

"We talked about basketball, and then world stuff. He's an awesome dude. He don't want no war."

Un answered that proclamation, ahead of the UN search for weapons (here we go again) with his announcement about 'thinking his missile can reach California.'

I just don't know anymore. I certainly don't want to live in a world where a nuke strike is possible, and I get that we are trying to keep weapons out of the hands of the irresponsible in this case, but there are a whole lot of people fighting here that say that we are infringing upon the rights of people if we question what weapon they own, no matter how freaking crazy they are.

Oh, that's not the same thing?

On a smaller scale, it's EXACTLY the same thing.

I don't want Un to have a nuke, but what might be more important in the grand scheme of my life is that I also don't want the guy with the Army boots, the drug problem, the hatred of society, the seven arrests for domestic violence and a quick trigger finger owning an AK-47.

There's not much we can do with the fear, evidently.

Cause he has rights, you know?

I, for one, figure that the North Korea situation is under control.

The Worm told me so, and we have to believe him after all.

He got Madonna when she was still Madonna.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Carrot!!!!!!!

Today is my beautiful sister Carrie's birthday.

Please feel free to get in touch with her today and say hey.

Like all of my siblings Carrie is as tough, as funny, and as wonderful as they come. As a family we have really suffered a lot, but every day I am able to rise from bed knowing that I have people in this world who would fight to the death for me.

As weird as it sounds, not everyone in the world feels that way.

I ran into a guy on a job site one day who looked an awful lot like another guy I know. I asked if the two of them were related and the guy said:

"Yeah, that's my brother. We aren't close."

I just couldn't fathom it.

In fact, I asked him about it, and while I don't usually interfere in other people's lives away from the job, I told him to give his brother a call.

He looked at me like I had three eyes.

It's just weird to me.

The Fuzzy's did everything together, and while we certainly have battled through, and while we all are busy, we still make time for one another.

We are close.

All of us.

And Carrie is the baby.

She's the one who took all the crap from all the rest of us.

We chased her dates away.

We made her do the dishes.

And let the dogs out.

And clean the bathrooms.

And she ran toward Dad when he bellowed for her.

And we use to make her cry just for the fun of it.

"Cry, Carrie, cry, Carrie, cry."

Happy Birthday, kid.

We love you.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Horse Burger

So, we all may have eaten horse, huh?

I hear that they're gonna' make up for it by allowing a cow to join the field for the next Kentucky Derby.

As much as I eat I'm not a very adventurous eater. I remember having tried rabbit and bear as a kid because Dad put it in the sauce and truth be told, I'd have eaten a turd covered in his sauce.

"This is a small chicken," I recall my mother saying as we ate the rabbit. When Dad broke the news she was a little peeved.

But I know guys who've tried everything.

Frogs, calf brains, snake, squirrel, turtle, shark, Ox, Buffalo, raccoon, cat, even dog.

Not me.

I can't even stomach sushi although I'll try nearly any Chinese dish, and who the hell knows what's in there.

If horse is suddenly considered a delicacy you won't see me standing at the front of the line.

Cows, pigs, chicken.

I've eaten plenty of those.

I have a friend who came to the country from Asia.

"Did you ever eat a dog?" I asked him once as a joke.

When he hesitated I cringed.

"I didn't know it was dog until I was done eating it," he said.

I was afraid to ask.

"Was it good?"

He sort of scrunched up his nose. I didn't want to even picture what it might be like to harvest the dog?

"Actually it was good," he said, "but after I found out it was dog I threw up."

Still the problem here is that we may have eaten Mr. Ed without knowing it. Wasn't one of the fast food burger joints in the news for such a claim?

I know how my stomach feels after eating one of those McDonald's burgers so let's just say it wouldn't surprise me.

Stick to pasta!

Stick to pasta!

Stick to pasta!

That's my new plan.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Stretch Much

Normally I get to be the main presenter at the company functions. I have been bestowed this honor with a lot of companies because I work humor into my routine, and I actually laugh at the comedians who speak of doing twenty minutes of comedy and explaining how difficult it is.

My usual training sessions are anywhere from 4-8 hours long, and believe me, we laugh a lot.

"Warm up the crowd for me," the president of the company the other day said.

"What do you want?" I asked.

"Tell some jokes," he answered.

"I don't work clean," I said.

"I don't care," he answered.

I told three straight jokes that my Dad used to tell to such a gathering. One laugh was louder than the next. I turned back to the president of the company.

"You're a freaking beauty," he said.

Yet the session yesterday was interesting for one other reason. There was a break in between my routines and a Yoga instructor took the floor. Actually, there were a couple of them. A man about my age, and a female, in shape instructor who garnered all of the attention from the construction guys.

I stood off to the side until the male instructor sauntered over and told me that perhaps I'd benefit from doing the exercises.

"Is that a fat remark?" I asked.

"No! No! Yoga is beneficial to help get rid of stress. It's a healthy thing to stretch your muscles out."

Truth be told, I was not feeling so great. I'd driven 2 hours to get to the class by 7:30 a.m. My back felt like a slab of iron, and of course, there was the hip and leg and ah hell...you've heard this before.

But I started stretching along.

As luck might have it I was positioned next to a young girl who was working with the female trainer. It wasn't a bad spot as the rest of the room was filled with guys who look like me.

We closed our eyes at one point and worked on our breathing. The male trainer told us to let our breath go, to relax, to forget our troubles, to feel our bodies.

It was working. I was so relaxed that I thought that I might fall asleep right there in the room. I had blocked out all sights and sounds, and I was really truly getting to a peaceful place.

"Take time out of your day to train yourself to do this," he said. "You will feel better mentally, and physically. Get in touch with your zen."

Yet just as I was about to drift off, they asked us to lie down on mats on the floor.

That's when I bowed out.

I sat in a chair just off the area and as they continued to stretch, I closed my eyes and worked on my breathing. I was just about back to that peaceful place when one of the big, burly construction guys grabbed my shoulder. When my eyes jutted open I was in direct line to see the young female trainer on her knees working to stretch the right leg of the female participant.

"Me likey Yoda," the construction guy whispered in my ear, and we both laughed, spoiling the quiet all around us.

As we headed back to finish up the rest of the training session the construction guy caught up with me on the stairs.

"It's Yoga, not Yoda," I said as we walked away.

"I don't care what the hell they call it," he said. "I'm joining a class."

Serenity now.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Joy to the World

Everything I Know About Joy

As you give joy, you will receive joy.

It seems like a wonderfully simple concept, doesn’t it?

Yet joy does in fact grow as you give it away; just as surely as it diminishes if you try to keep it to yourself.

Unless you give it, you will lose it.

It’s not easy to hang onto joy in your heart.

Sometimes it certainly pays to list some of the joyful moments of your life as fact. Living with joy in your world can be accomplished through practice.

Don’t believe me?

Try a little experiment.

Begin your day with a joyful thought. Tell yourself that you’re glad to be alive.

Stand tall.

Think tall.

Believe tall.

Joy will follow if you learn how to be happy.

Quit hating people.

Stop holding grudges.

Don’t just think about yourself.

Give your joy away.

Do you know people who always seem to be ‘up?’

They have learned the secret of true joy. They understand that negative and dark thoughts freeze personality.

They understand that there are no true earthly riches, and that folks aren’t truly rich unless they find their riches inside, and then, and this is the important part:

They share their abundance of riches.

That’s Everything I Know about joy.

Monday, March 4, 2013

March 4

4 Years. Every second feels like the one before.

Grief sucks.


American Land


What is this land of America, so many travel there
I'm going now while I'm still young, my darling meet me there
Wish me luck my lovely, I'll send for you when I can
And we'll make our home in the American land

Over there all the woman wear silk and satin to their knees
And children dear, the sweets, I hear, are growing on the trees
Gold comes rushing out the river straight into your hands
If you make your home in the American land

There's diamonds in the sidewalks, there's gutters lined in song
Dear, I hear that beer flows through the faucets all night long
There's treasure for the taking, for any hard working man
Who will make his home in the American land

I docked at Ellis Island in a city of light and spire
I wandered to the valley of red-hot steel and fire
We made the steel that built the cities with the sweat of our two hands
And I made my home in the American land

There's diamonds in the sidewalk, there's gutters lined in song
Dear I hear that beer flows through the faucets all night long
There's treasure for the taking, for any hard working man
Who will make his home in the American land

The McNicholas, the Posalski's, the Smiths, Zerillis too
The Blacks, the Irish, Italians, the Germans and the Jews
The Puerto Ricans, illegals, the Asians, Arabs miles from home
Come across the water with a fire down below

They died building the railroads, worked to bones and skin
They died in the fields and factories, names scattered in the wind
They died to get here a hundred years ago, they're dyin' now
The hands that built the country were always trying to keep down

There's diamonds in the sidewalk, there's gutters lined in song
Dear I hear that beer flows through the faucets all night long
There's treasure for the taking, for any hard working man
Who will make his home in the American land
Who will make his home in the American land
Who will make his home in the American land


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Running Scared

Fear's a powerful thing. It can turn your heart black, you can trust. It'll take your God-filled soul and fill it with devils and dust.

A sinkhole opens up and swallows a home in Florida, sending some guy who was in bed down into the Earth.

"How are you going to protect your family when someone breaks into your home?"

I got that question posed to me yesterday. People seem to be running scared, and perhaps it's legitimate.

My beautiful wife has it all figured out though.

"No candles, no plug-ins, no babies," she announces to my mother-in-law at 10:03 every night.

It's the code they developed to tell one another that there is no imminent threat looming. My boys and I decided to get down to the meaning of it all the other night.

I just can't understand.

"So, how does it work?" I asked.

"It's just a reminder," she said. "There are no candles burning, hence the 'no candles'."

"I got that one."

"There aren't any plug-ins in the outlets, hence the no 'plug-ins'," she said.

"Because there have been a scourge of homes burning down due to plug-ins, right? But go on."

"And 'no babies' means that there aren't any intruders in the house. If one of us were to say two babies, for instance, that would mean that there are two men in the house. Get it?"

The laughter of the children from the backseat of the car answered it for me, but I decided to attack the sensibility of it.

"Why the hell don't you just say that there are no INTRUDERS IN THE HOUSE?" I asked. "Do you think the robbers are gonna' break the code of your private conversation? Are they listening in on the phone line? They aren't there when you're talking!"

"And do you think the robbers are just gonna' allow you to make a phone call?" Jake asked.

Matt jumped in.

"Hang on, Mister robber, I gotta' call my Mom. "'There's no candles, no plug-ins, but there are eleven babies rummaging through our kitchen drawers!'"

Sam's laughter was uncontrollable.

"The robber will be like, 'Eleven babies? What in the hell are you talking about? Hang up that phone.'"

"It'll be too late," Matt said. "Grandma will get in her car and race over and beat the hell out of the robbers."

My wife couldn't answer.

"That's not the best part," I said. "For years she set the baby gate up on the stairs to stop the robbers once they entered the house."

"So, the robber picks the lock, enters the house and stops dead in his tracks when he sees the baby gate?" Jack asked.

"'Let's get out of here!'" One robber tells the other. "'They have a baby gate!'" Matt howls.

Kathy couldn't say a single thing in her own defense. She just laughed right along with us.

Fear is a powerful thing.

It makes us act irrationally.

We imagine scenarios.

We dread even getting into bed for fear that the Earth is going to open up and swallow us.

We worry about sending our kids off to school for fear that someone will break in and shoot them.

We take the plug-ins out of the outlets.

Later that night I was getting ready for bed. The telephone rang. Mother and daughter caught up on their day, and I listened closely as the conversation wound down.

"See you tomorrow. I love you. No candles. No plug-ins. No babies."

I started laughing.

"Shut-up," Kathy said.

I laughed all the way up the stairs.

"Don't forget the baby gate!" I called out.

I didn't get an answer.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Only Kindness Matters

Jewel writes one for me because a dear friend reminded me of this.

Hands by Jewel


If I could tell the world just one thing
It would be that we're all OK
And not to worry 'cause worry is wasteful
And useless in times like these
I won't be made useless
I won't be idle with despair
I will gather myself around my faith
For light does the darkness most fear

My hands are small, I know
But they're not yours, they are my own
But they're not yours, they are my own
And I am never broken

Poverty stole your golden shoes
It didn't steal your laughter
And heartache came to visit me
But I knew it wasn't ever after

We'll fight, not out of spite
For someone must stand up for what's right
'Cause where there's a man who has no voice
There ours shall go singing

My hands are small I know
But they're not yours, they are my own
But they're not yours, they are my own
I am never broken

In the end only kindness matters

In the end only kindness matters

I will get down on my knees, and I will pray
I will get down on my knees, and I will pray
I will get down on my knees, and I will pray

My hands are small I know
But they're not yours, they are my own
But they're not yours, they are my own
And I am never broken

My hands are small I know
But they're not yours, they are my own
But they're not yours, they are my own
And I am never broken

We are never broken
We are God's eyes
God's hands
God's mind

We are God's eyes
God's hands
God's heart

We are God's eyes
God's hands
God's eyes

We are God's hands

We are God's hands


Friday, March 1, 2013

Pizza Bomber

I'm reading a book now called The Pizza Bomber. Perhaps you remember the story. A pizza delivery guy went into a bank with a bomb strapped around his neck.

In Erie, PA. of all places.

I dominated Erie during my college years back in the early to mid 80's.

(Sorry for the hyperbole. My college-aged kid is constantly telling me about the things he dominates).

Yet the surprising thing is that it did happen in Erie. It's such a quiet place, normally, but craziness has no known locale.

Anywhoha, back to the story.

The cops didn't believe the guy and sort of stood there waiting for him to confess to the crime and admit that he wasn't just some stooge who had a bomb strapped around his neck by 3 black guys. While they were waiting for the confession a funny thing happened.

(Not funny, ha-ha, mind you).

The bomb went off and the pizza guy blew up.

As I was reading about it, and an accompanying story of a woman involved who shot her boyfriend and bought a new freezer with which to stuff him in, I was just flabbergasted.

How can people live in such a manner?

I feel awful when I have a cross word with my beautiful wife and loving, wonderful children.

How do you take a sawz-all to someone?

Couple that with the fact that I read a letter from a responsible gun owner to a lawmaker from Colorado. The guy kept referring to the lawmaker and Obama as N-word, half-of-racoon-word, and telling them that he is a law-abiding citizen who's rights shouldn't be f-ed with.

Or he was gonna' 'Gifford their asses.'

He was arrested.

It seems that it just keeps on rolling, doesn't it?

Now know for sure that I don't always read such stuff, but for one reason or another it is amazing to me, and to my wife. We watch 48 Hours and Dateline quite a bit and it usually is something about a wife killing a husband or vice-versa. Our conversation usually goes something like this:

Me: We need to get a little more life insurance on you.

Her: Would you rather I poisoned you or bludgeoned you?

Me: It probably won't work if it's poison because if you EVER cooked anything I'd be suspicious.

Her: Bludgeon it is.

Me: He did it.

Her: How do you know?

Me: She was aggravating him.

Then when we find out who's fault it was we ridicule one another a little more.

If the wife was having an affair I'll go:

"Ah ha!"

If the man had 3 women on the side she'll go:

"Ah ha!!!!!"

It's always amazing though.

Simply amazing.

Her: If you get sick of me, just go. You don't have to kill me.

Me: And vice-versa, please.

I Found His Blankie

Before Jake was even out the door I decided that the room he was leaving behind needed to be cleaned up. It was pretty much an exercise in...