Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tradition





The discussion usually started around ten in the morning if we were all home.

"I wonder what Grandma is making for lunch."

There was no thought to the fact that lunch wouldn't be an event. We didn't even consider that we might be interfering on their day.

"Let's go."

By 11:30 we'd be sitting in either the garage on nice summer days or on the couch across from Grandpa as Grandma ran around the kitchen making extra food. The aroma of garlic and olive oil just driving us crazy as Grandpa asked us about our lives, and sometimes told us where we were screwing them up.

Right up until the very end Grandpa would have a shot before lunch. I'm not sure what he did, but Jim or John can probably fill in the details.

The real event was the meal.

There was usually pasta of some sort. We all had our favorites. Pasta and peas, or macaroni and beans. Sometimes marinara. Every once in awhile left over sauce from Sunday. The meat, the bread.

Oh God, the bread!

Grandma baked fresh bread nearly every day.

Can you imagine someone doing that now?

And she was running around that kitchen putting the plates in front of all of us.

Grandpa would be just about done with his first dish before she sat with a sigh.

And it occurs to me that it was different years and years ago. There were certainly expectations between man and wife and duties. Especially in old Italian households.

But Grandpa would always say something like:

"Did you give your grandmother a kiss?"

I'm not sure where or why this post is coming today.

I just thought about the old traditional dinners after making pasta on Sunday before I left for golf. I've still not had sauce on Sunday less than ten times in my life.

I can't imagine not honoring the tradition.

Grandma and Grandpa would be proud.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Just Swinging a Club



I still shouldn't be playing golf.

By the end of the round it was rough to hit my shot and then sit in the cart to go to the next shot.

The good news, it's not swinging the club that bothers me. The pain caused by sitting down is the problem. And by the end of the round it was mentioned:

"I always wondered what it'd be like to golf when we were 70 years old. Now I know."

And it occurs to me that my hip is pretty much shot.

But you know what?

I still want to golf regularly this year.

I hit the ball well. Straight down the middle most of the time. I clobbered some fairway woods.

Of course I putted and chipped like a mentally deficient monkey, but that's almost to be expected.

And speaking of monkeys.

The Apes were in fine form.

King Ape won by 9 strokes. He stayed mostly out of trouble all day. There were only a couple of moments of true despair on anyone's part, and it got to where I just knew I wasn't going to miss-hit anything.

And that's half the battle.

The ride home was rough as all I kept thinking was ice and rest, rest and ice.

So why would I put myself through the pain?

Look at the photo above.

It was 65 degrees with a nice cross-wind. The sun shined on our faces a little. The deepest conversation we had was:

"How far away?"

For the first time in months, I relaxed.

Just me and a few buddies and a little ball.

I've got 7 days to get this freaking hip back into shape to do it again.

Now to think about my chipping.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Paging Peter Pang

The return trip from Nebraska was an absolute nightmare.

I was on the tiny plane from Omaha to Chicago scrunched in between two guys who were a little husky (they are probably writing their blogs talking about the husky guy in the middle), and I didn't say a word to either one of them.

As the plane landed I sent a text to my beautiful wife:

"No big insurance check, so far, landed in Chicago."

I got a notice that I had 72 freaking emails and clicked on just one:

FLIGHT DELAY NOTICE

They were advising me that my flight from Chicago to Buffalo would be delayed because, get this:

THEY DIDN'T HAVE A FREAKING PLANE!!!!

So I would have plenty of time to wander around, sit on a hard chair, look for Bulls gear for Sam, who loves them for some reason, and:

EAT

I started my wait with a salami panini sandwich with pepperjack cheese.

It was a small sandwich. All for just $9.95.

I added a bag of warm nuts (go for it, Pops).

My wife answered my text:

"Rats"

Then an hour later an egg roll.

Two hours later an ice cream cone. (It was good).

I still had two hours to go because the board told me that the plane still hadn't arrived.

I sat on a hard chair.

The man at the gate sent out a page.

"PAGING PETER PANG!"


I laughed, and I wasn't alone. The young lady seated three seats down also giggled.

"PAGING PETER PANG!"


The guy announced again a couple of minutes later.

What the hell?

I had time, and an audience of one. I edged over to the man with the microphone.

"I think the 'G' is silent," I said.

The girl laughed. I laughed. The humorless a-hole with the microphone scowled.

I still had plenty of time.

I posted the moment on Facebook because what is life without a post?

A good friend of mine posted a photo of Peter Pan in green tights and the hat back.

"PAGING PETER PANG!"


The guy said it again.

I got up and went over to him.

"I found him," I said.

The guy was super annoyed.

"I'm gonna' call security," he said, but then he laughed.

I don't think Peter Pang ever showed up.

But our plane did.

7 hours after I arrived at the freaking airport!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Sometimes Men Say the Wrong Thing

Reasons for Sensitivity Training for Men:


* I was devastated to find out my wife was having an affair but, by turning to religion, I was soon able to come to terms with the whole thing. I converted to Islam, and we're stoning her in the morning!

* The wife suggested I get myself one of those penis enlargers, so I did. She's 25, and her name's Cindy.

* Went to our local bar with my wife last night. Locals started shouting "pedophile!" and other names at me, just because my wife is 24 and I'm 50. It completely spoiled our 10th anniversary.

* My son was thrown out of school today for letting a girl in his class give him a hand-job. I said "Son, that's three schools this year! You'd better stop before you're banned from teaching altogether."

* The cost of living has now gotten so bad that my wife is having sex with me because she can't afford batteries.

* A man calls 911 and says "I think my wife is dead". The operator says, "How do you know?" The man says "The sex is about the same, but the ironing is piling up!"

* I was explaining to my wife last night that when you die you get reincarnated, but must come back as a different creature. She said she would like to come back as a cow. I said, "You obviously haven't been listening."

* My wife has been missing a week now. The police said to prepare for the worst. So, I had to go down to Goodwill to get all of her clothes back.

* The Red Cross just knocked on my door and asked if we could contribute towards the floods in Pakistan . I said we'd love to, but our garden hose only reaches the driveway.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Endless Nothing In Between



I spent the first three days of the week traveling to Omaha, Nebraska, working in Omaha, Nebraska and then traveling back from Omaha, Nebraska.

It's not as glamorous as it sounds.

Flying in was weird as the plane broke the clouds and the outline of life below was there for review. It always looks weird from up high, and especially in Nebraska. There seems to be miles and miles and miles and miles of endless nothing.

A house, a barn, a field, the roads like little lines, and miles and miles before the setup is repeated again. I always try to think about the people that live in those houses and the way they spend their days. I was in the middle of imagining their lives when the guy seated next to me peered over my shoulder and said:

"Not much going on, huh?"

"Looks peaceful from here," I said.

And after last week it was nice to think of peaceful a little.

The photo that leads the blog is a typical view of Nebraska.

There are a lot of strip malls. The buildings are smaller.

Than even Buffalo!

The people are friendly. The guys on the construction sites make the same mistakes as the guys in Western New York. They are also funny and honest and sarcastic and mean.

I often think of the in between times.

There's a lot of endless nothing in between the big days of our lives.

There are often a lot of miles in between here and where we think we want to be.

A lot of endless space between what we think should be happening and what is.

And there's angst.

Life would be better if only...

Things would sure be easier if...

We don't always grasp where we are when we are there.

I had a big steak. I talked a bit to the waitress who was fascinated to see someone from Buffalo although I think she thought I should be in heavier clothing.

"All it does is snow there, right?"

Wrong.

There's often a wide gap between what we believe to be true and what is actually true.

A good trip.

I enjoyed the nothingness of it all.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Do You Know Who I Am?

So Reese Witherspoon joins the Thoughts of a Common Man dipshit list.

She's making a movie in Atlanta.

No doubt it's one of those 'poor-homely-Reese-can't get laid' gems that my beautiful wife will make me sit through for two hours as it ends with Reese falling helplessly in love and living happily ever after.

But In Real Life: (one of my very undersold books)

Reese and her hubby went out for a few drinks (allegedly).

He was allegedly a bit tipsy behind the alleged wheel and the cops stopped them. As hubby was being put through the paces Reese got a little impatient. She got out of the car and was told to get back in.

She did, but she got back out of the alleged car again and allegedly got to screaming.

Sounds like a real picnic.

She had one question for the cops. It's a question that certainly lands you on the dipshit list:

"Do you know who I am?"

Evidently the cops didn't care. She was brought in right behind her allegedly drunk hubby.

She issued an apology, saying she had one too many, perhaps.

I don't get these rich bastards driving around drunk.

Millwaukee Brewers pitcher Yavoni Gallardo was allegedly ripped out of his alleged mind over the weekend.

"Do You Believe in Miracles?"

Was what Al Michaels needed to yell when he was stopped for allegedly trying to allegedly circumvent a roadcheck.

Why don't they toss a few nickels to some poor bastard who can drive their drunk asses home?

Then they can sit in the backseat and play 'Do you know who I am?' all the way home.

Ah well, I still like Reese better than Cheetah and Douche Armstrong.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Grandparents

So we caught the movie Parental Guidance with Billy Crystal, Bette Midler and one of the women who's always looked good to me - Marisa Torme.

It was way better than the usual romantic comedy crap I'm normally fed.

Anywhoha...

I've always liked Billy Crystal, and he's a big fan of baseball in general and the 27-Time World Champion Greatest Franchise in the History of Organized Sports, the New York Yankees, in specific. There was some baseball in the movie, but it was more about family.

And old generation versus the new generation.

One of the reasons I liked it is because it got me thinking about the future a little, and spending time with grand kids someday.

Isn't that weird?

Yet my buddy Jeff just became a grandpa so maybe someday, right?

Not sure my hoodlums got it in 'em and I'm hoping it's a ways off in the distance, but the movie started with Billy Crystal sort of being the reluctant grandpa.

"That's gonna' be me," I said. "Go to the party, eat, and get the hell out of there," I said.

I know that my wife will be a doting grandmother. She won't miss one of those kids games, or school plays or dance recitals.

It's gonna' be sheer torture.

But as the movie went along I couldn't stay real frosty to the idea of being around new kids.

I drive my present kids crazy with the talk of the old games.

"And Reggie got back to the dugout and held up two fingers. Then he came up in the 7th and the first pitch he saw from Charlie Hough he hit into the black. 4 World Series pitches. 4 swings. 4 Home Runs. He hit one his last at-bat of Game 5."

"We know!" Sam yells.

"You were here in 1977?" Jake asks.

Can you imagine what the grand kids say when I tell them that my Mom made us sit in front of the television when man walked on the moon for the first time.

I remember that too.

And the movie was filled with trust and love and respect and families and generations and baseball and kick the can.

Good, clean fun after a rather rough sort of week of thinking about too many dog crap things.

It sure beat the hell out of wondering how Jennifer Aniston or Charlize Theron can finally bag a guy who's afraid of commitment.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Different Point of View

Love the line in Dylan's Tangled Up in Blue:

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

Isn't it weird that we try and put a spin on it when a monster gets caught damaging others? We want to know why he did it. We just can't understand the warped thinking.

There's a train of thought out there that says the media is partly to blame for some of the continued unrest among the general public, but how are they gonna' not tell us who did it?

Isn't everyone in the media nowadays anyway?

We want to know.

Who did it?

Why?

Be honest. When the bombs went off you had your personal beliefs on who was responsible, right?

Brown guy with deep religious beliefs, hates America.

My sister sent me a text a little while ago:

"Reading East of Eden again."

It made me go and get my copy. I've read it a half dozen times. I'm reading it again a bit more slowly. I want to write down the great thoughts.

Steinbeck opens a chapter about the very thing that confuses us now.

Are people born mentally defective?

Can we understand the missing link in someone's brain that makes them violent, or deceptive, or just plain off?

I've never understood those who kill in the name of religion, but of course that's because my learned religion has been very different.

I was taught that God means love.

Evidently its a very different God elsewhere.

There are lots of people who kill in Jesus' name.

"Why would someone drop a bomb and kill little kids?" My Mom asked me when I had a chance to talk to her about it.

"Who knows?"

"Something wrong with people like that," she said.

Yep.

Perhaps that's all that it really is.

How do we stop that?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Waking Up Slowly

I guess I'd be considered an early-riser. I haven't slept past 7 a.m. in about ten years. Normally I wake up around 5 and wish I could sleep a little more. I've been in a real bad stretch lately, waking way too early and then feeling tired as the long day hammers away.

On Sunday morning the sun was shining in the Buffalo area.

That's no small feat.

I woke around 6:15. Feeling good. I hadn't battled it all night.

"We slept in," I said to Melky.

"I don't have a problem sleeping," she seemed to say back.

"Let's just wake up slow," I answered.

(We discuss all sorts of shit).

I got the news of the day from my Twitter feed.

The tragedy of life is what dies in a man as he lives. - Albert Schweitzer.

I thought about that for a little while.

There was another line in someone's feed that also hit me.

What I've learned about life I can sum up in 3 words: It Goes On.

Yep.

Now we are all gonna' try and figure out the motives of the bombers.

We are hoping the young guy lives so once he's nursed back to health we can sentence him to death.

He made his bed.

No sympathy.

"And we wait for the next one," Melky seemed to say.

(Melky is a bit of a philosopher)

It will go on.

Did we learn?

The sun shined and I thought of Neil Diamond.

He flew into Boston and asked if he could swing Sweet Caroline during the 7th inning stretch of Saturday's Suck Sox game.

Just a classy thing to do.

I watched his performance on YouTube with my boys looking over my shoulder.

When I went to talk my voice was cloudy with emotion.

It goes on.

And sometimes it's really cool.

When we all try and be human.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Just So Crazy

The week that passed was a real doozy, wasn't it?

Normally letters laced with poison to some of the leaders would dominate, but that hardly got a mention. Even the horrific explosion at the fertilizer plant took a backseat to the atrocities of Boston.

It was emotionally exhausting.

It also really drove me crazy for a whole bunch of reasons.

One of the things that I kept thinking was something I heard a long time ago.

If we want to get rid of violence in this world we truly have to stop being entertained by it.

This was the first really gripping news story that was played out on all the social media outlets. There were shows that were broadcasting the scanner feed for the Boston police. The entire country was tuned to the broadcasts and knew when a squad car was turning down a side street. There were 7 fake twitter accounts set up for the bombers within minutes of their being identified. Those accounts had thousands of followers within a half an hour. My Twitter account has been up for a year and I have less than 100 followers.

Can't we let the cops do their jobs and report back to us?

One reporter was trying to speak to the audience and was being screamed at by police officers because he was too close to a truly potentially explosive situation.

To top it off, every Tom, Dick and Dumb-f&*k was giving social commentary as it all unfolded.

"Don't you wish you had a gun now, you lib idiots?"

"Why doesn't Obama stop this?"

"See why we need immigration laws? Keep all the towel-heads out!"

There was a light-skin, black-skin gaffe. The NY Post was putting out photos of innocent kids and calling them suspects. CNN shit all over themselves every three minutes.

News outlets interviewed everyone from the classmates of the suspects to the guy who changed the freaking oil in their car.

All the while they were throwing bombs out the window and murdering innocent people.

"It's like a movie!" One excited guy exclaimed to me at one of the job sites.

If we want to get rid of violence in this world we truly have to stop being entertained by it.

And then the 'thoughts and prayers' aspect of it all.

Drives me crazy.

The people who say that with a microphone in their hand aren't praying for anyone. It's all just fake sympathy. I'm just convinced of that. I don't mean to be cynical here, but damn if they were so concerned about people perhaps they wouldn't be jumping in front of grief-stricken individuals just to get a photo so they can be the first to say:

"Look at the anguish!"

Someone sent me a text after it was all over and asked me if the entire thing all played out changed what I believed should happen with the gun laws.

I'm sure the asshole from the NRA was dancing in the streets with glee because more guns and bullets are sure to be sold.

If we want to get rid of violence in this world we truly have to stop being entertained by it.

"No," I texted back. "I still think we should try and keep the guns out of the hands of the mentally-deficient."

In the days that follow we will slowly work our way back to our usual routines.

The media will hammer away.

There will be millions of 'thoughts and prayers' speeches.

And we'll all sit and wonder where the next big show is gonna' happen.

If we want to get rid of violence in this world we truly have to stop being entertained by it.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Fatigued

I would be really happy if I never again had to hear this phrase:

We'd like to thank the first responders who risked their lives to save the lives of others.

I can live without those words.

I'd also love to not hear about breaking news and this phrase:

The death toll now stands at_____

I don't wanna' know anything about death tolls. I also don't want to hear any athlete interviewed abut it.

"It puts what we do into perspective. We play a game. Those first-responders are the real heroes."

If that's the case maybe we should pay them like the heroes.

The one baseball pitcher I heard interviewed about the Boston bombing asked this question:

"What was the final tally? ow many dead?"

As if he needed to hear a score.

Tired of that.

I'm really just tired of all the tragedy. I'm sure that there are many out there feeling the same way.

Newtown. Boston. West Texas.

And a lot of it is because I stay on top of things most of the time. I read a lot, listen to a ton of talk radio, watch the nightly news, listen to the lying bastard polticians, Tweet, Facebook and pay attention.

My beautiful wife, on the other hand, pays it little mind.

She hears the initial big story, and then she sort of shuts it all down. She doesn't want to hear from the mother or father who has lost a child. She doesn't want to know of the monster who did the deed. All of the bad incidents meld one into the other. She doesn't get quite as emotionally involved.

And that's most likely the best way to play it.

Because the news isn't getting any easier to take, is it?

And the presentation of the news is even more disconcerting.

Every news organization is trying to report it faster.

Every podcast and tweet and blogger is trying to make it more sad than the next guy.

Invariably we will be left with other phrases that drive me crazy:

We are praying.

Our prayers are with them.

Let's pray together.

It's not that I'm against prayer. I often shift in that direction but if we are praying so much how come there seems to be a total lack of respect? Why is there so much evil?

I guess that I'm just fatigued.

My beautiful wife watches Gossip Girl, Dance Moms, Friday Night Lights...this and that...one show after another. An easy way to escape the tragedy of the news.

She might be on to something there.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Some Inspiration For You

20 Inspirational Quotes

1.“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’” — Mary Anne Radmacher

2.“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

3.“I want to be all used up when I die.” — George Bernard Shaw

4.“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou

5.“If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.” — Napoleon Hill

6.“If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.” — George Bernard Shaw

7.“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” — Winston Churchill

8.“It is never too late to be who you might have been.” — George Eliot

9.“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.” — Lao-Tzu

10.“Let him who would move the world, first move himself.” – Socrates

11.“Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint you can on it.” — Danny Kaye

12.“Life is not measured by the number of breathes we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” — Maya Angelou

13.“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” — George Bernard Shaw

14.“Smile, breathe and go slowly.” — Thich Nhat Hanh

15.“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

16.“The first and best victory is to conquer self. To be conquered by self is, of all things, the most shameful and objectionable.” – Plato

17.“Turn your wounds into wisdom.” — Oprah Winfrey

18.“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” — Mark Twain

19.“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

20.“Whatever you do, you should do it with feeling.” — Yogi Berra

Thursday, April 18, 2013

There's a Squirrel!!

What a downer the weather has been. I don't know what to expect of April, but I think that it was real nice real early last year.

This past week was way too wet.

It brings you down.

Even if you're a dog as a passenger in a car as you go bye-byes twice a day.

Melky and Paris are on high alert as we drive through the neighborhood. We are looking for anything. Another dog out for a walk:

(I swear Melky laughs at a walking dog, like 'Ha ha, bitch, I'm mobile.)

The big discovery one day was a deer. Paris' poor eyes nearly popped out of her head.

Then the groundhog. I could almost hear Melky thinking, Damn, and the vet called me fat.

Yet our biggest excitement is when the squirrels come back around and not just because it helps with the rhyme:

Melky is my buddy, Paris is my girl, Melky is my buddy, we're looking for a squirrel

Yeah, I've officially gone around the bend, but they seem to really enjoy my voice.

The funny thing is that Paris is easy to read.

She doesn't like to get yelled at, and she knows that will happen if she jumps out of the car and chases the squirrel up a tree.

But she does it anyway.

She's willing to take the berating for darting across the street.

All for a moments excitement.

And therein lies the lesson for us stupid humans, I suppose.

Especially in this day of instant gratification.

We know it's wrong. We know we shouldn't be doing it. We understand the consequences.

We are willing to take our chances.

Because it's been a long, cold, dark winter, and we have to get after it, right?

Paris has yet to catch that damn squirrel, and she always cowers when she comes back after yet another unsuccessful trip.

But I can almost read her mind:

Damn it's good to have the freaking squirrels back.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Despite Everything I Believe that People Are Really Good at Heart

The title of my blog is something that Anne Frank wrote in her diaries as she was holed up in a tiny little room waiting to be captured.

The little idiot, Justin Bieber stopped by to visit her museum.

This is what he wrote in the journal:

"Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a Belieber."

Talk about a real dope.

First off, as I've said, I don't get it with this kid.

His songs absolutely blow.

He also killed me on Song Pop because every time I heard his voice I looked for a woman on the list. I've lost points thinking it was Diana Ross or Anne Lennox or Carly Simon.

Not that I care that he sings like a woman.

I just don't like losing Song Pop.

Then his ass was on my Twitter feed.

He took a picture of his own ass and sent it out to his beliebers and some how I got to see it.

If I wanted to see an ass, I'd look at his face.

Then the passing out and all the drama. The driving his car fast and the punching a photographer.

Yet this one takes the cake.

Anne Frank should be a fan of his?

How arrogant.

How stupid.

What an idiot.

Then again, maybe, like Anne I should take the high road.

Maybe, deep down, despite everything, perhaps he's good at heart.

I'd much rather think of Will Ferrell though when I consider Justin Bieber.

Ferrell once sent out this tweet (I'm paraphrasing):

"Justin Bieber is here. I'm doing all I can not to get up and bitch-slap him."

Monday, April 15, 2013

With You

As a child there were sometimes news reports from Vietnam. Every now and again I'd hear about the unrest on the streets of Third World countries. Car bombs. Suicide bombers.

"They live like animals," my mother would say.

I remember being thankful that I lived in America. The greatest country in the world. Where we were free of such unrest.

I didn't understand the anger.

We learn what we are taught. I was taught love. I was brought up to love all. I learned that trust was earned, but I was taught so much. I was taught to cherish my family. I learned to treat women with respect. I believed that all of God's creatures were created with a purpose in mind. Love thy neighbor. Love thyself. Love the dogs. Love the guy who treated you badly. Turn the other cheek. Treat people as you'd like to be treated.

And trust.

I've been to Boston a few times in the last couple of years. It's a great city. There's so much history. It's so beautiful. When I was there I walked around in appreciation of everything that didn't say Red Sox on it. Just a beautiful city. In my trusting, loving, appreciative heart, I was impressed.

When the explosions rocked the end of the Boston Marathon I felt a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I thought of remembering and praying for those in Newtown. Once more I felt the despair of Aurora and the desperation of 9/11.

It's all so confusing to a loving, trusting, appreciative human being.

I don't want to live in such a violent country. I don't want to hear the death tolls rise. I don't want to look for blame, and for the love of God, I don't want to start an argument.

But someone somewhere will take issue with wanting to just feel the pain and pine for the simplicity of the way it used to seem to be.

Can we still live our lives on a higher ground?

I want my kids to grow up feeling as secure as my parents made me feel. I don't know if I can do that for them in the new world that has existed since September 11, 2001, and perhaps it was well before that. Yet that was when a lot of us learned, the hard way, to pay a little more attention.

Trust was replaced by suspicion. Love took a back seat to doubt. We suspect our neighbors and those who don't look like we do. We are scared to send the kids to the movies. Frightened to death to head outside and spend time with others. And we will hear it all in the next few days.

Secure the borders.

Bomb he who bombed us.

Fight. Kill. Count the bodies. If you see something say something. Buy a weapon.

Defend yourself in the brave new world.

It's all so confusing to a loving, trusting man.

But the single thing that gives me hope is that God is indeed there in the details. The men and women who helped. Those who ran straight to the hospital to give blood. Those who will lay their heads on their pillows and pray and hurt for those who are injured.

And I thought of my Mom and Dad who cut through the bullshit and made us feel secure in spite of the big bad world outside the door.

They provided heart in a sometimes heartless world.

It's all I really want to do for my children.

"Who did this?" Sam asked as I watched the coverage.

"I don't know," I said.

I turned it off, trying to shield him, but there is nowhere to hide.

"There were hundreds of millions of people who didn't do this," I said. "All of those people are hurt by this. Those are the people who we need to trust."

Sam didn't quite know what to say to that.

But he will.

Someday he will.

To all those suffering.

There are millions suffering with you.

Let's figure out a way to stop feeling this way.

Please.

Ah, Hell, Give me a 6

So Cheetah Woods got busted for a rules infraction during his round of golf at the Masters.

What's amazing to me is that he got busted by a television viewer.

Can you imagine the scene if all of the shots were recorded during a friendly round of golf with the Grape Apes?

As a purely amateur golfer some of the scenarios are downright comical. I still hear it from a buddy of mine after refusing to add a stroke on a ball that I swung at, and missed completely, because the 11-pound steak and half a bottle of tequila I consumed the night before restricted my movements.

"That's a stroke!" He cried from his spot on the cart as soon as I swung and missed.

I laughed him off.

I proceeded to hit the next three shots perfectly and reported the par at the end of the hole.

"Bogey," he said.

At the next hole he asked four other golfers to interpret for him.

"Definitely. You addressed the ball," one idiot said.

"It's a rule," the second idiot chimed in.

Much to my chagrin, I had to take a stroke. (Hi Kim).

I bitched about it for the next five years.

In fact, I'm still bitching about it.

Because you see, we are not Cheetah Woods.

We are a bunch of pathetic hacks slubbing around a cow pasture in the middle of a shit-hole town because we want to get away from the aggravations of every day work.

We'll never get good.

We might hit a decent shot every now and again, but it's all we got on a week-to-week basis in the world of sports.

And I've seen golf change in recent years. We used to be real worried about our score. Now we laugh it off when one of us goes in the barrel on a hole, or two, or three.

We can all see it coming too.

"Pops is struggggling."

"Chuck is one swing away from quitting."

"I can't even lift it in the mother%^$&ng air!"

At those times we don't even ask one another for the score at the end of the hole.

"I don't give a shit anymore," might be the response we'd get if we asked for the score when someone has spent the last half hour in the woods.

"Give him an 8."

We are all friendly enough.

"What did you get on the last one?"

"Ah, hell, give me a six."

"A six? You putted five times. It's a 530 yard hole."

"I want a six!"

Sometimes it might be easier to just fill out the scorecard in the car and just drink beer in the parking lot.

"Broke 90 today!"

"Me too! Best round ever!!"

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Where Are We Now?

Have you heard the new David Bowie song?

It's so good. Really grew on me. It kind of dovetails into my blog about living after something that happens. It's been stuck in my head for weeks.

Where are we now?

Bowie sings hauntingly.

As long as there's sun. As long as there's you. As long as there's me.

He doesn't answer his own question about where he is now, but you get the feeling, he's moving ahead.

The other evening someone posted this photo on Twitter:



It's obviously Bruce from back in the 80's. I'd never seen the can featured. I posted it to my Facebook page, remembering the release of the Born in the USA CD and thinking about one night in particular back in college. My roommate George and our friend Diane listened to Dancing in the Dark over and over. We drank about 72 beers. Evidently Bruce looked good in the video because Diane said:

"I wish you looked like Bruce."

Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

Immediately after the post I received a quick comment.

"Remember when Dancing in the Dark came out?" Diane posted. She's now happily married and living somewhere out West. We sent a couple of comments back and forth laughing about how old we are. She asked me about another old friend.

"Where is he now?"

And it got me thinking.

Where are some of the people who came rushing into my life and headed back out?

Are they all right?

We had one roommate who joined us one year as an outsider. It was tough to fit in with our tight group. It was tougher for him because he was born with a birth defect that left him limping badly with each step. He also had long hair, smoked a lot of pot, and kept telling us over and over that Jimi Hendrix was a god.

We laughed at him. Bruce was the god of music! Unfortunately we also picked up on his birth defect. On the first day one of us, who will remain nameless, (Fluffy) called him Clubfoot. He went with it. Soon enough that was all we called him.

"Hi Clubfoot."

"Good morning Clubfoot."

"You want in on the pizza, Clubfoot?"

He never protested his nickname.

Until one night. Very late at night, with empty beer bottles scattered all around, he talked over the thirty-fifth consecutive playing of The River album.

"I have to say something," he said. He was obviously intoxicated because the tears flowed easily. "I was born with a birth defect," he said. "I have a half of a foot. I moved in here looking for friends, and you all called me clubfoot. Every time you say it, it makes my heart ache."

We were stunned into silence. The needle on the record hit the end. Not one person reached for their beer.

He pushed back away from the table and started the long painful walk back towards his bedroom. The tears were still in his swollen eyes.

I bowed my head.

George bowed his head.

Diane bowed her head.

The only one who found the strength to speak was Fluffy.

"Good night," he said.

There was a long pause.

"Clubfoot!" He finished.

When Diane sent her message I thought of that poor guy who closed the door to our drunken laughter.

Where is he now?

I hope he's a millionaire, blasting his Hendrix CD's and sharing his life with some real friends.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Aftermath

Read a story the other day about a cop who was having a party. He was showing off his guns, and he tossed one on the bed where his four-year-old picked it up and shot his mother dead.

The story in and of itself is horrible, but I got to thinking about what happens after.

How does the Dad go on?

How does the kid grow up and come out okay?

It's gonna' take a lot of work.

There are a lot of people fighting the pain of having lived. It ain't easy. Some things never go away.

I work in a business where guys get hurt. A lot of times I have to hear about how they are continuing to live.

In the aftermath.

One kid, at the age of 20, was doing work with a shear press. In order to do his work quicker, as he wanted to make a little extra money, he would un-jam the machine without shutting it down. He got away with it for a little while.

Then it bit him.

It took off three fingers on his right hand - his strong hand - to the knuckle.

I got to shake hands with him after that.

We bumped shoulders.

The kid was a nice enough guy. He took me through the particulars of his accident. The company kept him on despite his new disability, but removed him from the area where the sharp things are.

"And I skipped the guard to do my work faster because they were paying us by the piece."

The kid showed me where he stuck his hand to lose his fingers. As he was doing so I was staring down at him, thinking, "What a dumb son-of-a-bitch."

"And that's how it happened," he said. "Now I live without three fingers."

I gazed at the spot. Just the pinky and thumb left.

"How much extra money did you make?" I asked.

"Sixty bucks," he said.

"Twenty a finger, huh?" I said.

"Well, I wouldn't do it again," he answered.

"What's the worst part?" I asked.

"Learning how to wipe my ass with the other hand wasn't fun," he said.

"I don't imagine," I said.

Bad stuff happens fast, doesn't it?

Sometimes we can't fix it.

We have to learn to live with what we can't rise above.

(Thanks for the line, Bruce).

But the aftermath can be horrific.

I think of that cop.

And his dead wife.

And the poor kid.

Sometimes the story is too horrible.

"Well, I wouldn't do it again."

Friday, April 12, 2013

Accidental Racist

Have you heard the song, Accidental Racist, by Brad Paisley and LL Cool J?

It's a real treat.

It combines the good-heart sensibility of country-western music and the downright brilliance of hip-hop.

Who would've thought that such two mediums could mix into such a listening treasure?

Then, to top it off, it teaches us a lesson about how the white man and the black man are really just the same sorts of men and that we should look at one another with empathy and respect, and that when the song is over we can all hug it out.

Forget slavery.

Forget gun violence.

Forget the rebel flag.

Forget the low-hanging pants.

We can all just get along.

What a song!

It makes you think. It makes you feel. It makes you a little sad.

Okay...everything I said above this sentence is absolute garbage.

It might be the worst song I've ever heard.

First off, I can't do the country, 'I have a lesson' songs. I don't mind some of the songs, but the idealistic, in your face, this-is-how-you-should-be-living-your-life stuff drives me nuts.

I love Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and a few others...

Not much of a Brad Paisley fan based on this song.

Then there's the hip-hop.

I don't get that at all.

But I do get that some people like it.

There's just too much in-your-face anger with me.

LL Cool J has the voice for it. He's pissed off from the first line out of his mouth.

"Dear Mr. White Man," he yells to begin it all.

And then the song devolves into one of the worst cliche pieces of drivel that I've ever heard.

With Paisley harmonizing LL Cool J has these two gems:

"If you don't mind the gold chains, we'll forgive you the iron chains."

WHAT???????

If Mr. White Man stops picking on you about your bling, you'll give us a pass on that slavery and hanging you from a tree stuff?

First off, I didn't do that to you.

No one I know did that.

Wear whatever the hell you want as well.

Then there's this one:

"The Mason-Dixon needs some fixin.'"

Are you kidding me?

I write something every day. I've written a million words. The only reason I'd write, "The Mason-Dixon needs some fixin'" is to make fun of it.

I've heard the song three times.

Twitter is all over it.

They'll sell a million downloads.

They'll be on every talk show talking about how they're trying to save race relations.

I'd tell you to listen to it so you can make up your own mind about it, but I like my readers.

Don't do it to yourself.

It's accidental garbage.



Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Counting On a Miracle Selection - A Lesson

There will come a time when I will pick up one of my old books and try reading it from cover-to-cover.

I don't know if it's possible.

Yet the other night I was searching through an old drawer and I found the black notebook I used for notes while writing Counting on a Miracle. All of those notebooks are around here somewhere along with journals back to the early 80's.

Someone please burn 'em when I'm gone.

Yet I found this story that I included in the book.

It speaks for itself.


I had been to the grocery store three times on that Saturday. Yet, just after dinner, Kathy informed me that we were out of formula for Sam. I complained about it for a few moments, but eventually I decided that I would return the beer and pop cans that had accumulated in the basement. If I had to go to the store again, I might as well make it a productive trip.

I pulled into the parking lot of the grocery store. It had been a bright, sunshine-filled day and the evening sky was bright orange. I had opened the latch on the back gate of my truck and had begun putting the cans into a cart when I heard what sounded like an animal grunt coming from the car right next to me. The passenger side window came down, and a huge man grunted again. I turned to him when I realized that he was trying to say hello.

“Hi,” I said.

“Beer cans?” he answered.

Immediately I realized that the man was mentally ill. I wondered about the person that had driven him to the store. How could they just leave him sitting in the parking lot?

“Yeah, I got a few beer cans,” I said. “We had a party.”

“I used to like Beck’s beer,” he said.

It was a strange comment, but I just let it pass. How did he know about Beck’s beer?

“You got pop cans too,” he said.

“The kids like pop.”

“How many kids you got?”

The last thing I needed was a long conversation, but something made me stay and talk.

“Three boys,” I said.

He laughed real hard and smacked his hand on the side door panel.

“I have five boys,” he said. “Always remember to love your kids.”

Now, I was really intrigued. I moved closer to him. “My name is Cliff.”

“I’m Fred,” he said. “Do you work at the Ford plant?”

“No,” I said.

“I used too,” he said. “How old are you?”

“Thirty-six,” I answered.

Fred looked as if he were trying to figure something out. His face went blank as he searched for the words to his next sentence.

“I was thirty-nine when I had my stroke,” he said.

My heart dropped into my stomach. I considered his five children and the tragic turn of events that shaped the remainder of his days.

“I used to make a lot of money,” he said. “Do you make a lot of money?”

I noticed the approach of Fred’s wife from clear across the parking lot. She was already apologizing for her husband, but I waved her off.

“Fred and I are just catching up a little,” I said.

I reached into the car and shook Fred’s hand.

“It was a beautiful day, wasn’t it?” Fred asked.

I wanted to tell him that he had made it a little bit better for me, but his pretty wife was sliding into the driver’s side, still apologizing for him.

“Remember what I said about those boys of yours,” Fred said.

I watched their car move towards the exit. Fred’s eyes never left me, and I stood outside the store watching him, a cart filled with empty cans right in front of me. Why had he asked me if I made a lot of money? How come he kept mentioning loving my children?

Was he a walking, talking lesson?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Work, Work, Work

How many times do you talk to a buddy, wondering where they've been and why you haven't got together, and they say something like:

"Work has just been crazy. I don't have any time to myself. I hate my job!"

I'm 48. I've been gainfully employed since I was 14. The first job was on a farm. From their a grocery store. Pulled some wires for a telephone company. Did hard labor as a union guy. A lot of years of that.

Work was just crazy.

There were jobs I really hated.

I wrote for a magazine for awhile.

I hated that one. No one tells me what to write. I hate neck ties.

Always busy. So busy.

"Work is crazy."

There have been plenty of Sunday nights when I've laid there thinking, "Damn, I wish I had one more day."

But I often think of one thing I read a long time ago.

Generations come and go, but it makes no difference. The sun rises and sets and hurries around to rise again. The wind blows south and north, here and there, twisting back and forth, getting nowhere. The rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full; and the water returns again to the rivers, and flows again to the sea…
Everything is unutterably weary and tiresome. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied; no matter how much we hear, we are not content. So I saw that there is nothing better for men than that they should be happy in their work, for that is what they are here for, and no one can bring them back to life to enjoy what will be in the future. So let them enjoy it now. -Ecclesiastes-


And through the years I've been able to shoot up and out of bed, believing that I am a mere link in a chain, just making my mark in the way that is best suited for my talents.

"Just work hard," I tell my kids.

"All I ask is that you work as hard as you can," I've mentioned to co-workers.

We will all make mistakes.

We'll all have really bad days.

Yet in the end, as I look back, there's just one thing I want people to realize.

"He worked hard."

"For what he believed in."

"He enjoyed it."

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

What's the Ceiling?

The Rolling Stones are hitting the road this year. Just a few cities throughout North America. They are truly old-time rockers, however, so a 50-city tour was probably out of the question.

I've seen the Stones twice.

Back in 1981 the played Rich Stadium with George Thorogood and Journey. The were promoting the Tattoo You record and that may have been at my absolute height of frenzy for them.

They were considered old back then.

Jagger was amazing. Richards was so cool. They played Tumbling Dice. I can clearly see the moment when the first note was struck. Under my Thumb as the first song was also a true highlight.

I don't even think my buddy John was reading his novel during that song.

I still have the ticket stub.

It cost me $15 to get in. I don't think I paid much more than $50 when I saw them back in the late 80's.

The ticket prices for this tour are starting at $500.

The good seats will cost about two grand.

Do I sound old now?

Like when your Dad used to tell you about getting an ice cream for a nickel?

Back in 1991 I spent a lot of time at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore watching the Orioles play to a last place finish.

We paid $4 for a seat.

I just paid $100 for my son to go down to the arena to watch the equally pitiful Sabres play.

How much will the fans pay?

Will there ever be a cap, or will we just keep putting the tickets on our credit cards so guys can pull down $180 million dollar six-year contracts?

Justin Verlander of the Tigers just signed a new deal for that $180 million dollar figure.

"He deserves every penny," one of the announcers said.

Does he?

Really?

He throws a ball.

And before you jump at me telling me that guys on the Yankees make a lot of money too, and that Uncle George may have started the salary escalation, I get that, and I don't begrudge any of them.

Not Verlander.

Not Tom Cruise.

Not Mick and Keith.

The money is out there. People are willing to pay.

Not me.

Maybe once a year.

Not for two grand. Sorry, Mick.

I'd rather read a novel.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Hawk

The Sunday morning ritual is sort of etched in stone. My dogs can recite every step. I sipped coffee while looking through the Buffalo News stage when the obits made me strain for a breath.

The photo of a good man was starting back at me.

Dave Miller.

Dave passed away a couple of months back. He went quickly, too quickly. There weren't a lot of us who had the chance to say goodbye. There's a memorial service coming up next week.

The place will be packed.

The Hawk.

His nickname was included and I was glad.

Like a Hawk, he was a graceful man.

And he passed away knowing one thing for sure:

He was still a better golfer than me.

You see, Hawk was a teacher, a coach and a leader to a lot of kids who grew up in the North Collins area. He loved sports. For one reason or another he was a Milwaukee Brewers fan, and we went back and forth on that subject a bit. Yet I never was in one of his classes. I never was the member of a team that he coached.

But he still taught me a few things.

"What's wrong with my swing?" I asked him one afternoon on the golf course.

"Did you ever hear the one about the monkey and the football?" he asked.

Dave was often soft-spoken. I actually had to ask him to repeat it.

"You look like a monkey trying to screw a football," he answered.

I rode with Dave in the cart that day. Most of the time he split the cart with his son, Chris, and he'd marvel at the way his boy would hit the ball.

He never spent a moment not being proud.

One moment that sticks out about that particular golf outing was a miss-hit that actually belonged to Hawk and not me. He stood at the tee and prepared his shot as Chris and I stood back and off to the side. As the Hawk swung the club a strange thing happened. The ball did not scream down the center of the fairway. Instead it split backwards through Dave's legs and struck Chris in the center of the chest.

Just one of those errant shots that I was used to, but that looked weird coming off the face of the Hawk's club.

"What was that?" Chris yelled, rubbing at his chest. "A trick shot?"

Dave didn't even break a smile. He was a competitive sort to be sure.

We sat back down in the cart.

"What was that about the monkey and the football?" I asked.

A beginning of a smile creased his face.

"Shut the hell up," he muttered.

A little later in the day he came as close to being sentimental as he could.

"You guys are doing good," he said. "You guys are becoming good men."

I remember him saying it because it meant a lot to me.

The Hawk soared high.

He will be missed.

And the next time I hook one off the tee, I'll remember his advice to me.

Just a monkey and his football.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Bullies Suck

So what did you think of the Mike Rice video from Rutgers?

You must have seen it, right?

For the uninitiated he was the basketball coach at Rutgers. Rice's manner of leadership was to beat-down and berate his players, swearing at them, throwing the ball, calling them gay slurs.

We've all had such a leader in our lives at one time or another, haven't we?

I've worked for a couple of bosses who were major-league assholes. Back about thirty years ago it was the chosen way of motivating people.

On my first construction job I worked for a guy named Joe. Joe was a bit short on brain power. He was mean as hell and he routinely got drunk at lunch.

He wasn't a happy drunk.

Let me set the scene:

We were carrying doors up three sets of stairs in the luxury hotel. It was a 40-something story hotel so there were a lot of doors that were heavy as hell.

Even at 18-years old...about 75 pounds ago...I was struggling.

I worked with a black guy, Tony, who was 6'-5" and about 250 pounds. (Think of the guy from the Green Mile).

Tony was strong as hell, and he worked harder than all of us. Tony could've carried those doors two at a time if he had to. He was also one of the most soft-spoken, kindest men I've ever met.

"I'll help," he said when he saw me drop the door. "If we carry them together we can move faster and not kill ourselves."

I was all for it.

We hustled up and down the stairs one guy on each end of the massive doors. We were actually doing it faster than one at a time.

But Joe spotted us.

"What the F&*$! You lazy-ass, ni&&&er!! Why can't you carry it by yourself?"

I stepped up.

"I can't carry it," I said. "He was helping me."

"Don't," Tony whispered, "Worry about it."

"CARRY THEM ONE AT A TIME!" Joe screamed. "I KNOW WHO THE LAZY ONE IS," HE CRIED. "GOD MADE THEM EASY TO SPOT, HE PAINTED 'EM BLACK."

Tony picked up a door. I struggled to get one too. As Tony passed Joe, Joe kicked him hard in the center of his ass.

Tony never turned around.

I think of how Tony's face looked that day.

I think of those poor guys standing at practice getting the ball whipped at their heads.

Being an asshole doesn't make you brilliant.

Guess what?

There was a happy ending to my above story because the big boss on the job shared a surname with me.

I told Dad the story on the way home from work.

The next day we had a new job foreman.

Tony got a quarter an hour jump in pay.

Joe left the job in San Francisco and headed for Reno.

Dad laughed when he told me how their meeting ended.

"I kicked him right in the center of his ass as he was leaving," he said.

Tony let the crew split the door-carrying duties.

We still got 'em all upstairs in a timely fashion.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Two Thumbs Up

So Siskel and Ebert have been reunited.

I don't think I ever watched their television show or read their movie reviews. Yet I knew a lot about them because they were on Howard Stern a lot. Two funny guys. Ebert was even quicker. They dominated that industry.

I'm sure Howard will give a moving tribute.

It was a weird week.

Kim Jong Un threatened the United States with a nuclear strike. Word of the threat came down as the Sabres were on the verge of trading their captain and making one person in our house sad.

"Will they nuke us?" Jake asked as I came through the door one evening.

"No," I said. "They've been threatening us for years."

"What if they finally do it?" Jake asked.

"I hope they do it before the trade deadline," Sam said.

Sounds a little weird, right?

Wrong.

The front page of the Buffalo News was about the hockey trade instead of the nuclear threat.

I mentioned the fact that the paper may have buried the lead story and my friendly neighborhood convenience store clerk laughed with me.

"If they did drop a nuke on us most of the clueless people in this country won't even notice," she said.

Yeah, seems that way.

Mid-week I took a steroid injection in my groin area.

(Keep the jokes to yourself, Pops and Renaldo).

The rest of the week was a bit cloudy as I tried to not let it keep me down.

"You're an animal," Sam said when I returned from work the next day.

"Either that or a moron," I answered.

Shackled and Drawn, shackled and drawn, pick up the rock, son, carry it on.

By the end of the week the idea that the next work week starts in 60 hours was sort of depressing. It was time to get a little rest.

So on the week when Ebert passed on after taking a leave of presence, my beautiful wife put a movie into the player.

Channing Tatum again.

(I think she likes him).

(Because he reminds her of me).

It was a movie about looking back Ten Years at a high school reunion.

It was filled with thoughts of regret, longing, desperation, despair, and happiness.

It was actually pretty well done.

We both liked it.

Two thumbs up.

RIP Ebert.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Let Her Play

Brittney Griner is a basketball player who just finished up her career at Baylor.

Have you seen her?

She's 6'8" tall and she scores at will when she plays against the gals. Her team was shut down though in the NCAA Tourney and her college career is now over.

She's thinking of going pro.

Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban, said that he might draft her to play in the NBA - an all-men's league.

"She'll get killed!" A lot of people are screaming.

"She's got a small frame compared to the men, and there isn't a guy in the world who wants to be dunked on by a woman. They'll put her on her ass."

All of those points are true, I imagine.

I am apt to keep my mouth shut, however.

You see, and it's a pretty famous story, I knew an All-American player from West Virginia. She stood less than 5'6" tall. I was actually still in decent shape. We played a one-on-one when I was just 27 years old.

Rosemary beat me 21-16. If I tried to guard her close she whizzed by me. If I played off, she drilled 25-footers.

It wasn't until weeks later that I found out she was third in the nation in scoring.

During the time in between I certainly felt old.

"You got beat by a girl," my old college roommate told me.

"She'd beat you too," I said.

"No, she won't," he said. "I'm not dumb enough to play her."

And therein lies the problem.

Sometimes all it really boils down to is that men don't want to include women because they are afraid that the beat down will make them look worse.

I'm not sure Brittney Griner can make it against the genetic freaks who play in the NBA, but it would be fun to see her try.

Where the hell would she shower?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Tramps Like Us



Bruce's first house is for sale.

It's a beauty, huh?

Before you scoff, it was just a short walk from the beach and Bruce sat in the front room and wrote Born to Run and Thunder Road there.

Do you have an extra $349,000 sitting around?

It's yours.

Damn, I must say, and it's odd to say such a thing, but it would be a cool thing to own, you know?

I don't know why, but it sorta' would.

Bruce told me that it was the first house that he lived in on his own. Given how he grew up, being shuffled from one relative to another, it had to be cool to finally get some peace and quiet.

I don't have an extra $350,000 kicking around though.

Honestly, the next people who buy it will most likely turn it into a shrine of sorts and charge twenty bucks for people to come by and sit on a couch that looks like the beat-up one Bruce might have sat on.

They'll get the cover charge too.

Years ago my buddy and I went to see Bruce at the CNE in Toronto. The woman at one of the stands posted a sign:

BRUCE ATE HERE!!!!

I went straight to the stand.

"What did he have?" I asked.

"The corned beef sandwich with a pickle and chips," the lady said.

I didn't have six nickels to rub together but I ordered one.

I took the first bite with my roommates eyes on me.

"Are you fu%&ing kidding me?" he asked. "Do you really believe he came out in the middle of the grandstand and ordered a greasy sandwich?"

It sort of dawned on me that it most likely wasn't true, but I ate the sandwich in 3 bites anyway.

You could probably get me to take out a mortgage on that shit box pictured above!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Koufax Bounced It

A very forgettable opening day here in Yankee land. Sort of shows what it is going to be like when the big 3 really do retire.

That's depressing.

What was worse, however was watching the Dodgers opening day pitch.

Freaking Magic Johnson stood at the mound with the ball in his hand and after trying to dribble it, Mattingly (Donnie Baseball - my favorite Yankee ever) came bounding out of the dugout wearing that stupid Dodger uniform.

Donnie raised his left hand calling for a reliever and Sandy Koufax made his first Dodger Stadium appearance in a lot of years.

It was kinda' cool, honestly.

Until Koufax wound up and threw the pitch.

He bounced it.

Something got caught in my throat at the sight of the bouncing ball.

Sandy Koufax can't throw a ball sixty feet.

And I don't know why it hit me like a ton of bricks. Koufax is an old man now. He shouldn't be able to hit the glove, but there's a certain element to all of it.

Koufax's body isn't supposed to break down.

The kids were shooting hoops the other day. I popped out the door, tying my sneakers. I knew it would get Sam fired up.

"Pig!" He yelled out.

(He wasn't dissing me - he wanted to play the game).

I called for the ball. I missed my first two and then hit my third.

"I'm ready and you're done," I said.

Sam was out first. Jake's friend went out second. Jake went out third. It left just me and Matt shooting for the W.

I thought of the fact that they were laughing at my shooting motion.

"But it goes in!" Sam said to Jake's friend.

I hit three in a row and Matt matched me.

Koufax is broken down.

Jeter is breaking down.

I've felt broken for over a year.

I drilled a twenty-two footer for my 4th in a row. The kids who were out of the game laughed. I held my hand out in the follow-through motion.

Matt smiled, shaking his head.

"Good game," I said as I tossed him the ball.

He clanked it off the front rim.

I went in the house as they called for me to play again.

"Unbelievable," I heard Matt mutter.

Judging by Koufax...that isn't gonna' happen too many more times.

Time waits for no one.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Winning is Everything

We've been watching a lot of basketball lately around Camp Clifford.

I don't even wanna' talk about my freaking pools. I stunk up the joint this year. That's what I get for not watching a game until the tourney starts. Sam is going to have the best scores of anyone in our family, and for that we need a lifetime supply of ear plugs.

He gets that constant bragging crap from his mother.

Anywhoha...

We have been blasted by commercials lately.

We have a few we really hate.

Like the one with the dance competition and the woman tripping over a washing machine.

Like the idiot who is riding in a convertible and forgets to take off his OJ mask before going in the convenience store.

We have a few we love.

Who doesn't love the AT&T ones?

The kids are funny. The host is funny. Larry Bird is always great to see.

Yet the one that has me agitated is the one with Cheetah Woods.

Nike has done it, of course.

The same company that didn't drop him when he went through his personal 'tragedy'.

In the commercial we are told that winning takes care of everything.

There's a good message for the kiddies!

Do whatever you want.

Irresponsible?

Immoral?

Criminal?

Just win, baby.

Everything will be all right.

Brutal.

Triple-bogey every hole, Cheetah.

Maybe those AT&T kids can teach you a few lessons on being a decent human being.

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Quest for Twenty-Eight - Baseball Preview

I must admit I whiffed on a few of my predictions last year.

I thought the O's and A's would suck.

They didn't.

I thought the Yanks would win #28.

They didn't.

So where do we start this year? I had a lot of the playoff teams right last year, and the Giants in the World Series, but I had them losing it.

Let's start in the National League. (Get the boring crap over with).

In the East there are two playoff teams:

The Nationals and the Braves.

The hapless Phils and the pathetic Mets won't get close.

In the Central I like the Reds to qualify, but the Pirates will just break their streak of under .500 seasons. I'm going 82 and 80 for them.

In the West we will have two more playoff teams: The Giants and the Dodgers. The rest of the division sucks. The Dodgers payroll adjustments have been crazy. I wanna' hate 'em, but Donnie Baseball is their manager.

Who makes it to the World Series?

I'm going against conventional wisdom here. Everyone is saying Nationals.

I'm saying Braves.

The Upton brothers will work well together.

Okay, the American League where the 27-Time World Champion Greatest Franchise in the History of Organized Sports plays.

There are a lot of people down on the Yankees chances because a few of their guys are injured to start the year. It's a real long season. The first three weeks don't matter much if you can tread water. I think they'll be a lot better than people are saying. They are filled with true pros...from Ichiro to Andy to Mariano to the pro of all pros...the Captain. Until those guys are gone, they will figure out how to win.



So from the East:

The Yankees and the Blue Jays, who are the latest to benefit from the worst owner in sports, Jeffrey Loria. How can he be expelled from the game? The Marlins will lose 125 games and draw less than a million fans.

The Central?

The freaking Tigers. Verlander gets every pitch, and he's great besides. Miggy is the best hitter in the sport if he stays sober. They swept the Yankees out last year. It was disgusting. Just getting over that.

The West?

Hard to ignore the Angels buying Hamilton after buying Fat Albert. I don't think their pitching is very good, but Trout is the best player in the game now, and they went cheap with his contract and it aggravated him...so we'll see you in New York soon...when the luxury tax woes are behind us!

There will be a second team out of there and I'm thinking it will be Texas again. But just barely. The A's hang in with a bunch of garbage all around. Somehow.

Who comes out of the AL?

Ask yourself.

Who's writing this blog?

Dwell hard on what team my heart follows.

Look at the above photo again.

Yankees over Braves.

(Hi Larry).

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