Saturday, November 30, 2013

I'm Being Tortured

I must have heard the words 'Black Friday' 70,000 times yesterday. Those two words were mentioned in every other commercial.

The other commercials featured Bill Cowher and Michael Bolton.

I am not a fan of either man.

And Cowher may have been a great football coach, but he is an absolutely horrific cue card reader. I've always been of the mind that acting takes a certain talent...see Gandolfini...and is readily apparent when it can't be pulled off...see Keeanu Reaves...and Bill Freaking Cowher.

When he says:

"Oh, and Helen, good coffee," I want to throw something through my television screen.

And Michael Bolton?

Where they hell did they dig him up?

His voice is like fingernails on a chalkboard.

And have you listened to the lyrics they fed him?

"Christmastime is here. I love this time of year."

Who wrote that?

Bill Cowher?

And try as I might I just can't get away from it.

I'm kind of stuck in my seat for awhile.

I've been doing a lot of reading, and checking the computer, and even writing a little just two days in, but there's definitely some television time being logged.

But back to Black Friday.

Has it always been this way?

I don't seem to remember Black Friday from when I was a kid.

Of course it has grown to epic proportions and people are now even skipping Thanksgiving to do it, but I wonder...is it a recent creation?

Last 30 years?

It got me wondering...

...are there Black Friday discounts on college tuition?

Or chicken patties?

(I seem to buy those by the truckloads).

Anywhoha...

That's all from here.

Next time you see Cowher or Bolton think of me and pray I don't rifle the remote through the screen.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Family Day

The post-surgery pain had me up in plenty of time to contemplate things I'm thankful for. Of course, that same pain sort of chases thoughts of glee from your brain, but there had been a moment.

They were putting me down for the surgery and I had been wheeled into the operating room as they gave me the sleeping gas. The nurse in my ear told me it was about to happen, and then I felt an instant, overwhelming tightness in my chest.

"What's going on?" That nurse said.

Not what you're looking to hear as you're feeling a struggle for breath.

"It's fine," a male voice said behind me and sure enough the tightness subsided, and then I was out. Two hours later later they were waking me up.

It seemed like two seconds.

So I thought about that for a moment when I woke in the middle of the night on Thanksgiving Morning, and I vowed to spend some time among the living.

Kathy's Mom made us a turkey. It was perfectly prepared. My mother provided the stuffing and it was tremendous. We shared the meal, talking about some of our personal quirks, pointing them out in a light mood, and it was weird because it was just us.

Normally we are surrounded by a huge family.

Despite the fact that we weren't seeing them this year, I was certainly thankful for all of them, and of course, we all chatted throughout the day.

I considered the Thanksgivings of the past - we had a memorable one in California that we videotaped. Much of the tape was my Dad moaning because he had the gout.

Then I spent the rest of the day with my constant companion, Melky, who is unbelievably limping because of an infected paw.

We have to race, very slowly, up the stairs.

And just as I thought, the kids and of course, my beautiful wife are here, wondering if I need anything.

I settled in for a nap as I watched football and they all headed out to shop for an hour.

They sent me a half dozen texts.

"Are you okay?"

I sent this message back:

"Fell down the stairs. Everything is going black. Should be over soon."

The answer I got?

"Okay, then. We'll be home in a little while."

How can a man not be thankful for a family like that?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Psalm 100

Heavenly Father, we praise you and thank you for the countless blessings and mercies you have shown us.

You have blessed America as a refuge for Pilgrims from all corners of the earth and from every era.

You have strengthened us in time of trial and held us up in the face of adversity.

You have granted us this beautiful and bountiful refuge.

You have granted us the fruits of freedom, of worship, and hard work.

Remind us to be humble in our abundance and to remember the sacrifice of those who came before us and who so trusted in you.

Let their example remind us to renew that trust, to always be thankful, to always be obedient to your hand and to be no less strong in our values.

In this harvest moment, we give thanks to you O Lord, for family and friends, for health and country, and for the gift of life.

As we gather around our family tables on this Thanksgiving,

We will "Ask the Lord's blessing in all that we do".

We ask for this blessing for each other, for our nation, and for you,

Our dear friends in Christ.


Happy Thanksgiving to all.

It ain't just about football.

Or shopping.

Or Mom's stuffing.

Be thankful.

Be good to each other.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Knockout Game

Can it be real?

People walking up to other people in the street and hitting them to see if they can knock them out cold.

The game, evidently, is catching on all over and there is another group out there yelling that perhaps it shouldn't be spoken of because it encourages others to give the game a go.

Really?

Are there really people out there who think, 'Wow, what a cool game, I wanna' play it!'?

I just can't fathom it at all.

One of the victims was a 78-year-old woman. A 28-year old man allegedly walked up to a 78-year-old woman and punched her hard enough to knock her out.

You can't even write a sentence like that and not want to throw up all over the keyboard.

But it's truly not surprising to me.

There's way too much violence on the streets of American no matter where you stand on any of the issues.

Just way too much.

The respect seems to be gone. The compassion seems to be gone.

But right when I think of that, I think of the millions and millions of people who are disgusted by these types of stories.

I think of all the people I've known in my life.

I'm truly not certain that I've ever met a man who could be so callous and uncaring. I certainly hope that I haven't. But, you never really know, right?

And there will be people out there who will blame the video games, or the fall of the family, or the lack of religious influence, or Obama, or Bush, or whoever they hate in their own lives.

It's not all of us.

It's most likely probably no one you know.

It's a handful of sick people.

That's all.

I feel for the victims and I hope that those responsible are punished. I don't root that they get beat up too. I really don't.

That would be furthering the game some how.

These people are playing the wrong game, and sometimes it's embarrassing to the people who are playing the right one.

Just plain embarrassing.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Just About There

So just a mere 24 hours away from the hip surgery and the thing I keep considering is the pain on say, Friday.

Not a big fan of pain.

In fact there were thoughts of living with the gnawing pain each day to avoid the real big pain for a few weeks.

Probably why it's taken me so long to fix it.

Yet I saw my mother over the weekend, and she's getting around rather well after having her hip replaced.

"It's gonna' suck, isn't it?" I asked.

"Oh yeah," she said.

"But you're better now than before you went in, right?" I asked.

"Definitely," she answered quickly. "It just takes awhile."

And through the years you've all gotten to know me a bit through the writing...I don't do 'a while' very well, but I most certainly will try.

Because I want to golf with the Grape Apes.

I'd like to go back to a beer now and again.

I wanna' shoot hoops with the boys next summer, and dazzle them with my cross-over moves and my rim-shaking thunderous two-handed dunks.

(Let me tell you, if that Doc gets me to dunk he's gonna' win a universal award).

But there is still gonna' be the pain of the coming week.

And at least I have the boys...who will run to and fro to help out...and my beautiful wife will most certainly be there to make sure I'm comfortable, and Melky will be out of her mind with worry. She'll even forego the rides around the neighborhood.

So we are off.

And at the very least I know that early tomorrow I will have that three seconds of glory as they put me under.

"Count back from 100," he'll say.

And I will slip off to sleep...

...and hopefully wake up in pain.

"It's not so bad," my mother said eventually. "Once you're able to sleep a little bit it gets better."

Oh joy.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Happy Birthday, Mommy

A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie. -Tenneva Jordan

My Mom just keeps showing all of us how tough she is. She had her hip replaced this year. It was just part of it all. She didn't really bitch about it. She didn't do the woe is me that I'm so famous for.

She's just so tough.

Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs in my field, since the payment is pure love. -Mildred B. Vermont

And we all love her...no doubt about it. Not a single day goes by when we don't hope that she's smiling and happy. Despite it all.

The phrase "working mother" is redundant. -Jane Sellman

No one ever worked harder than my Mom. Our dirty shirts never got a chance to even hit the floor. I couldn't help but laugh when I'd think, "Damn, I just wore that shirt."

I remember my mother's prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life. -Abraham Lincoln

There's no doubt that her love has stuck to us, every day.

Every hour.

Every minute.

The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness. -Honoré de Balzac

Her sons and daughters have always been the apples in those eyes. The love of a mother is astounding.

Not too many things out there are more pure.

In all my efforts to learn to read, my mother shared fully my ambition and sympathized with me and aided me in every way she could. If I have done anything in life worth attention, I feel sure that I inherited the disposition from my mother. -Booker T. Washington


Mom taught me all about reading and writing. The greatest gift ever given to me. It's not even close.

Grown don't mean nothing to a mother. A child is a child. They get bigger, older, but grown? What's that suppose to mean? In my heart it don't mean a thing. -Toni Morrison, Beloved

And the heartbreak of our lives is the heartbreak that she's felt in hers. Love is a circular thing when its unconditional. We are all still the same little babies that entered the world under her care. She never gave up that feeling of needing to take great care.

A mother's happiness is like a beacon, lighting up the future but reflected also on the past in the guise of fond memories. -Honoré de Balzac

So a Happy Birthday wish to a Mom really is a lot more than just a couple of words on a scribbled card and a gift card to Red Lobster.

Youth fades; love droops; the leaves of friendship fall; A mother's secret hope outlives them all. -Oliver Wendell Holmes

So Happy Birthday, Mom.

See what that gift of reading and writing brought me?

Life began with waking up and loving my mother's face. -George Eliot

You only get one Mommy.

A mother's love is patient and forgiving when all others are forsaking, it never fails or falters, even though the heart is breaking. -Helen Rice

Sunday, November 24, 2013

How Wine Was Invented

Got into a general discussion this week about Adam & Eve and that fateful conversation in the garden.

I don't blame Adam. I really don't.

The poor bastard never stood a chance.

He was most certainly lounging a bit, just thinking about relaxing, fermenting a bit of the grape, perhaps fashioning a weapon to chase down one of those animals to perhaps grill a steak...and Eve was walking around there completely nude...so why not give her a bit of attention? But later. After nap.

And then she started yakking about the apple tree.

"Why can't we eat off that tree? Does that sound right to you? I mean who said that He gets to make all the rules? I swear to God, Adam, you have to learn to think for yourself. You're letting Him take advantage of you, and you just sit there. Hey, do you know what happened to me when I went over by the stream? I saw a snake. Anywhoha...we got to talking."

Adam closes his eyes.

He's thinking: "Just a little sleep."

"Did you hear me? The snake said that the apples off that tree are really sweet and that God is just showing you who the boss really is. He doesn't really care if we eat the apples. He's just teasing us, and we don't deserve to be teased. What did we do? Are you listening to me, Adam. Are you?"

Adam rolls a bit of grass into two tiny balls and shoves them in his ears. Yet sleep just won't come.

"I gotta' tell you, you're a real beauty, Adam. Just laying there looking up at the blue sky and listening to the chirping birds. Don't you want more out of your life? They say this is paradise, but yet we can't eat the apple, tell me why. Can you tell me why? Adam, are you listening?"

Adam rolls onto his side.

Maybe if I don't look at her I won't want her, and if I don't want her I won't hear her.

"I'm telling you, there's something special about those apples. I bet they're like sunshine in every single bite. I bet he keeps them for himself and thinks we'll just take it. We aren't gonna' take it, Adam, are we?"

It's too much.

Adam stands up quickly as if he's been shot out of a cannon.

"Where's the f%&&*ng tree?" He asks.

"Is it that one?"

He stands before the tree.

"Do it, do it, do it!" Eve says. She bats her eyes for emphasis. Adam sees the smile. Best of all, she's quiet. He grabs the apple, takes a bite and hears the immediate thunderclap. He falls to the ground as God's voice booms through the clouds.

"I told him not to do it," Eve says. "I don't know why he bit the apple."

She scrambles around and grabs a fig leave and covers up all the good stuff.

"Some-a-na-bitch," Adam growls as they are banished to a life of utter aggravation and create the sin that we are all still paying.

God exits leaving Adam and Eve alone to their never-ending shame. Adam falls to the ground and closes his eyes...just as it begins again.

"Don't you think that it's stupid that we couldn't eat the apple. But I'm telling you one thing, Mister, you shouldn't of done it, and if you think you're gonna' see me without leaves on again, you're out of your mind. Why did you eat the apple, Adam? I swear to God, you're a a real loser sometimes. I'm gonna' go talk to the snake. At least he makes sense of things."

And that's how wine was invented, folks.

Adam got it done later in the day.

And he got absolutely blasted that night.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

YOU'RE WELCOME!!!!!!

So, sitting in a doctor's office the other day for the 4th time as we set up the surgery for next week. Evidently everyone and their brother must make sure you're okay before they'll even do it, so there's an endless supply of people testing you.

Let me set the scene.

There are just three of us in the room. Me, a nurse, and a middle-aged woman. I'm seated as is the middle-aged woman and the nurse is running around working at breakneck speed. She hands each of us a form to fill out and I get to work, as does the other woman.

The nurse says thank you to the middle-aged woman for some reason.

The middle aged woman says: "You're welcome," in plain voice and then just yelps and screams out:

"YOU'RE WELCOME!"

We've all been startled before, right?

I felt an absolute chill up and down my spine. My heart was racing. I had dragged the pen across the top of the page as nearly shitting my pants caused my hand to involuntarily jerk across the page.

"So sorry," the woman said, in normal voice, "I have Tourette's."

"I HAVE TOURETTE'S!" SHE SCREAMED.

I had to be peeled off the ceiling again. It had still caught me by complete surprise.

And I must have looked as crazed as I felt because she apologized again. She explained that she didn't curse when it happened, but that she couldn't control it either. She was really intent in making me feel better, but the more she talked the more I waited for it to happen again, and the more she felt she needed to apologize.

"Do you live in Niagara Falls?" she asked.

"No," I said.

"You look like someone I know," she continued.

"He must be good-looking," I said.

(I say that every time).

She laughed.

"He is good-looking," she said.

"HE IS GOOD-LOOKING!" SHE SCREAMED.

Again, my heart raced. The scream was the loudest scream I'd ever heard. She apologized again, and then mercifully the nurse called me name.

"Good luck," the lady said.

I ducked into the other room. As my blood pressure was being taken I thought of how difficult that poor woman's life must be. She was a perfectly warm and gentle soul and every day had to be a real battle.

"You ready for the surgery," my nurse asked.

"There's a lot worse things than a bum hip," I said.

"She's a wonderful woman," the nurse said, by way of explanation.

When my exam was over the woman was still seated.

"Goodbye, handsome guy," she said as I walked out.

I laughed.

"It was nice to meet you. Good luck."

I closed the door and headed out, her smile still in my mind's eye.

"GOODBYE, HANDSOME GUY!"

The closed door muffled it a bit.

Damn.

I wish her the best.

Friday, November 22, 2013

My Big Brother is 50!


I've always looked up to my big brother, and that's not as easy as it sounds.

He's shorter than me.

He's also balder than me.

But he's now 50 years old.

And let me tell you...he's a great man, a terrific father, a wonderful son, uncle and brother.

And if I didn't say all that he'd kick the crap out of me.

There's a wonderful photo in my mother's photo album. It's a shot of John, kneeling on my arms, throwing punches at me on the living room floor. I'm kicking, screaming and trying to cover up, and the only other thing you need to know about the photo was that my mother snapped the picture!

Yeah.

Let's capture a shot of John kicking Cliff's ass.

But the mind is a funny thing.

I remember being beside John on the swing set seeing who could fly that swing seat higher.

He won.

I recall running away with him and we escaped to the car that was parked in the backyard. We must've been like 6 & 7. We ran back home after we were stung by bees.

Growing up we were best friends. We were separated by a mere 11 months and people thought that we were twins. It's amazing to me now that people thought we looked so much alike back then because I've blossomed into a very handsome man...and well...I'm trying to be nice...it's his birthday.

And my bro means the world to me.

I'm a blessed man. Our family came with free best friends, and I count all my siblings as my best friends. My heart fills up when I think about them. Every single one of them.

So.

Say Happy Birthday to my brother John if you get a chance.

50.

It seems like we were on those swings just about 15 minutes ago.

I still have bruising from the photo-op with my back on the floor.

Happy Birthday to a Great Man.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

JFK

Caught the 48 Hours recap of the JFK shooting of 50 years ago. I have read quite a bit about it, of course, through the years, but I had never seen live footage of the shooting or a documented recap of it all.

All of it was sort of horrifying.

I suppose that the shooting should take center stage, but just how we lived back then was fascinating to me. There was a shot of men entering the police station at one point and there was a hat on each man's head, and I'm not talking a Yankee hat either.

A regular old top hat.

Women were all in dresses and high-heels and everyone sort of looked dignified. I didn't see nary one eye piercing.

And then the way that the news was reported. They showed concerned Americans gathered around a transistor radio and most of the people they interviewed talked about the loud-speaker announcement that they heard.

Everyone alive knew exactly where they were and what they were doing.

"Grandma just had Uncle John," I told Sam. "He was born that morning."

"What time did JFK get shot?" Sam asked.

"They said he died at 2:00 Eastern Time," I said. "See if Grandma remembers what time Uncle John was born."

Of course I was well aware that my brother had been born first. Mom told us often about the nurse crying in the recovery room as Mom opened her eyes.

"He died," the nurse said.

"Who died?" My mother shrieked. She even struggled to a sitting position. "Who died?"

"The president," the nurse said.

"What're you a idiot?" Mom had screamed. "You don't sit at the foot of my bed after I just delivered a kid and say 'He Died!' Get the hell out of here!!"

And my Mom had a lot more details.

She remembered what she'd eaten the night before - a hot dog with onions. She remembered that she woke in the middle of the night with the first pangs of labor pain. She remembered that Dad had panicked and backed out of the driveway without her in the car, prompting my grandfather to quip:

"When do you think he'll figure it out?"

My Mom and Grandpa had laughed heartily and Dad came in screaming.

Then he promptly drove to the hospital in the sleet at more than 100 MPH. Mom had protested the entire way saying that he was going to kill them all.

"I ain't delivering a baby," he said.

And they had made it.

And one John entered the world as another John was leaving.

Dad, of course, had a little fun with that same dip-shit nurse.

"Have you decided on a name?" The story goes.

"Lee Harvey," Dad had said.

But it was John, of course.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

General Observations

1). Boy that Rob Ford is something, isn't he? I read late yesterday that he is going to declare war to try and keep his job. He can't understand why people haven't accepted his apology and just moved on. He gets plastered, smokes crack once in awhile and speaks his mind.

What's so wrong with that?

Doesn't he get that a lot of people aren't fond of the leaders smoking crack?

I know, I know, Pops - he was framed.

2). And what about George Zimmerman?

For the second time since he got away with murder he's been in the middle of a domestic dispute and each time there were references to his having the gun at ready.

I understand that people who moan about the gun deaths in this country are wimps who are coming after the guns, but can't there be a rule that if you're thrice complained against in a violent situation that we can take your guns away?

I am willing to bet that there are people who would still defend Zimmerman's right to own as many or as big a gun as he wants.

I just don't get that.

3). How about the moron who slid down the handrail at the Bills game and fell from the 300 level, landing on a guy sitting in a sit, minding his own business, watching the game?

The guy is going to be charged eventually, the Bills banned him from all future losses (and the once in a while win), and he lost his job as well.

My kids showed me the YouTube video of it and were horrified when I said he should've gone over the wall the other way to the ground below.

I was only half-kidding.

If you're intent on killing yourself because you are a certified idiot, try not to kill anyone else when you do it. He certainly could've killed the other guy.

4). And how about some good news?

On my birthday this year I woke up singing a very obscure Bruce song - "High Hopes" and I wrote the lyrics and posted them on my blog that day. Up to that point I hadn't thought of that song in 15 years.

So what does my buddy Bruce do?

He reworks that song and announces that he's putting it out as a single.

On my mother's birthday.

His last 4 releases have landed on a birthday, or an important day, in the life of one of my family members.

And you think we aren't on the same page.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Eminem

I gotta' hand it to my kids.

They won't give up.

"I have a song you'll like," Jake said to me the other day. "It's an Eminem video that's funny."

He sat beside me on the couch and handed me his phone. The song was all set to go.

It was funny.

The video was well done.

The lyrics were understandable.

Pee Wee Herman's laugh was featured prominently, and that made me laugh.

"I got another one," Jake said.

This one was a bit more serious. It was about a stalker fan who didn't hear from Eminem and became violent and was killed while in pursuit.

Again.

It was thoughtful.

"He's good, isn't he?" Jake asked.

And I'm in a weird position here because I am not a fan of hip-hop. I kind of like the music in music. You know...piano...guitar...drums. The music behind this particular genre is usually produced on a computer. The words are also really fast, and there's a lot of anger behind all of it.

But.

I can see it now.

"I didn't hate it," I said.

"Bruce has a couple of good songs," he answered.

So we have a compromise of sorts.

I can understand why there are people out there who think the guy has talent. Yet I don't want to make a mistake here because perhaps the true draw is that my son is sitting beside me on the couch showing me something that he finds interesting.

Eminem will never end up on my I-pod. Neither will Jay-Z or Drake or Lil' Wayne.

But.

I've softened a little on it.

God help me.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Medical Proxy

So, went through the pre-op for my upcoming hip surgery. There were a couple of surprises.

"Will I be out by Thanksgiving dinner?" I asked the helpful nurse.

"Depends on what he sees. If he wants to go ahead and replace the hip, probably not."

"Replace it? I thought I was just fixing a muscle," I said.

"Maybe. He'll know when he sees the damage. You got a good tear."

I thought about that for a moment.

"Who's making that decision?" I asked.

"You have a proxy form filled out?" She asked.

I shrugged.

"Is that something my wife is in charge of?"

She laughed.

"Most likely."

"I'm not allowed to rent a movie without permission," I said. "So, I'd imagine."

I got another laugh.

So, there it is. My old hip is in the hands of a woman that I hadn't even met 25 years ago.

Weird. Right?

Yet the even bigger conversation was coming.

"So, if something else happens what do you want me to do," Kathy asked. "Yank the freaking plug?"

"Yeah, yank it now," I said. "And don't try none of your shit when I'm out. I don't want to wake up with a new hip and neutered."

"I'm in charge," she said.

As if there were something different going on.

"I should get a power of attorney too," she said.

"Why? You've worked it so you have every nickel now, what else do you want?"

"Oh there might be something," she said.

So.

Here we go.

I keep imagining that nurse and my wife in a fit of laughter as it all goes down.

"Poor bastard ain't got a dime and I had them change his entire bottom half into titanium."

Hahahahahahaha

Sunday, November 17, 2013

An Itch On the Brain


We were watching The Big Bang Theory the other night and Leonard and Sheldon were talking about a task that Leonard had left undone. The failure to complete the task caused Sheldon angst.

"You don't understand. When something is left hanging it causes an itch on my brain and makes me feel uncomfortable."

That right there has been all of the angst in my married life.

It scares me to think, but they make fun of poor Shelly for being weird on the show. I certainly see myself in some of his actions, and of course, we are both geniuses.

Yet it got me thinking.

Why am I that way?

"Just leave it, I'll do it," my beautiful wife will say.

Yet it can't be left.

It'll make my brain itch.

"We'd help him if we didn't have to do everything according to the sick clock in his twisted mind," Sam once famously said.

The above photo shows a shot of Albert Einstein's desk on the morning of his death.

Absolutely cluttered.

I'd have a heart attack being face with such a desk.

Yet he was considered a smart guy.

So, perhaps the cluttered mind also works.

That's terrific news for my wife.

There are days when I have to just close the door to her room because I feel light-headed looking in on the scattered papers.

"How can you live like this?" I'll ask.

"Get out!" She'll answer.

Who woulda' thunk she's like Einstein?

And I'm sure the balance lies somewhere in between, where we sometimes meet, as long as I'm the guy doing the uncluttering.

Yet I don't have a single email, or a leftover text or voice message. I'd be happy if I somehow started at complete zero each day.

"There's something wrong with you," Jake tells me two or three times a week.

You think?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Miles Scott & Rob Ford

Twitter is a great social media network.

It's sort of taken information gathering and current events reading to a whole new level.

On Friday afternoon I read two stories back-to-back.

First, the story of embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford who was in the process of being stripped of his powers.

(Makes him sound like a bad superhero).

Ford is the crack-smoking-stupor-inducing-pu##y-eating-Chris-Farley-looking dude who has captured the nation of Canada.

He's basically embarrassed everyone who says 'Eh' seven hundred times a day.

And I don't know what to make of the guy. I really don't know what makes him tick. How can you become mayor of the 4th largest city of North America and then just literally piss it all the way in a drunken haze of crack smoke?

My worst fears were realized as well as I listened to talk radio about the guy.

There were people calling in to say that he was a great leader because 'he's just a normal guy.'

I'm a normal guy.

I don't smoke crack.

Anywhoha...

The bright side of Twitter also showed it's face as I read about Miles Scott, a 5-year-old leukemia patient from California who had a wish granted by a great organization - Make-A-Wish.

Miles wanted to get a batman outfit and the people there teamed with the City of San Francisco to make sure that his wish was something really special.

There were 7,000 people in on the gig and Miles was able to rescue a damsel in distress and catch the Riddler. There was a full-sized batman riding with him in the bat car and they raced to the scene and saved the day.

Obama even recorded a statement that said, "Way to go Miles! Way to save Gotham!"

And reading the two stories back-to-back sort of did it for me.

A real life superhero and a disgraced man being stripped of his powers.

It's hard not to feel like crying after reading both of the stories.

Perhaps we can loan Miles Scott to Toronto and he can help save the mayor from a horrific enemy:

Himself.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Way Too Many Freaking People

There's that pathetic, sad moment when you're sitting on the airplane with the seat open next to you, just praying that somehow, someway the person who is supposed to sit beside you was in a fiery crash on the way to the airport.

Okay...so maybe not that bad, but you want the empty seat. The place where you're resting your ass is so cramped. Please, just give me a little room!

But you know it won't work that way so you start watching the door and hoping that you get a 'good' person next to you...and by 'good', you're thinking small, or pretty.

I spotted my mark as soon as she set foot on the plane. She was about 23 years old, long dark hair. Jeans, boots, red blouse and small, and lastly, very pretty. Like model pretty.

And lo and behold, she stopped. At row 5. She put her bag away and sat down beside me. Her eyes were fixed straight ahead.

"Hi," I said.

And she didn't answer!

Like I wasn't even there!!

Not a single word passed between us in the 2 hour flight. She had most certainly heard my 'Hi' but she computed it all and decided, 'Nope, ain't gonna' answer.'

Which is fine with me. She was certainly no Kathy Fazzolari anyway.

And there's a lot of waiting at airports.

And when you wait, there's more freaking people, everywhere.

One twenty-something kid was seated quite aways-away. He was on the phone talking at the top of his voice to what I assumed was another young idiot. He was going on and on about going 'clubbing to get messed the F up.'

The entire conversation brought to mind that I'd like to club him to mess him the F up, but I endured. I'm not even sure if that conversation ended...I boarded my plane to sit next to Miss Tight-Ass before it was over.

Yet the real topper came after we finally landed in Buffalo after all the plane transfers and exchanges. I had been seated next to an Asian gentlemen who sat with his legs spread so wide that I thought he was disjointed. I had suffered through that. He had also spoke on the phone in his own language, laughing heartily every couple of seconds.

I hated him too.

Yet a funny thing happened when we landed in Buffalo.

I had been way too patient.

The folks started getting off the plane. One row after another. I was pressed against the window waiting for my new found enemy to move. He was texting little characters to his friend.

The wave passed our row. People in the rows beyond us were now de-planing. He was still texting and laughing.

The poor Asian fellow took the brunt of all those idiotic strangers I'd met before.

"Yo, buddy, you getting the f*%K up or not?"

I heard the people laugh in the rows behind us.

His English was pretty good because he started scrambling. He dropped his phone at my feet. I picked it up and handed it to him.

"Thank you!" he said.

"Let's go!" I said back.

There are way too many freaking people.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Cornfield after Cornfield

So, I returned to the Kansas City, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska area again and I must say...

...I can find pretty good food anywhere.

I have a nose for it.

I was happy to make the drive from Kansas City to Omaha listening to the local radio folks talk about the Cardinals and the Chiefs. It's weird, but you can feel the excitement of the people when the sports teams are doing well.

(Take my word for it, Buffalo).

I honestly couldn't care less. It was all about the pursuit of the perfect steak.

And as I drove I had to keep flipping the stations on the regular radio to find something to listen to. How and why people don't have satellite radios is beyond me.

What a pain in the ass regular radio is and all the hosts are really irritating as they try to be funny.

Anywhoha...

One of the hosts was reading quotes from wise people and he read one from someone that said:

"People always want more out of life. There can't be true happiness until one feels satisfied."

That's a mouthful.

And I chewed on it as I drove...looking at cornfields forever.

Is true satisfaction even possible?

Perhaps not for me.

Like those kids in the phone commercial:

I want more, more, more...

But when your mind is clear and you can truly assess from a long ways away.

I thought of the family. We are in good shape there. We are the close family that we wanted to be. My beautiful wife holds it all together, of course, and the thought of each kid made me smile. They are true beauties.

I thought of my brothers and sisters and my Mom and of course, the pain of losing members stripped me of some of the satisfaction.

How could you not want more there?

So I looked to the clear, bright sky.

"Got anything for me?"

I flipped the radio station and the song "Spirit in the Sky" came on. I smiled at the verse: "You got a friend in Jesus."

"I need more," I said.

About five miles out I passed a sign on the side of a worn-out barn:

"Tired? Jesus Saves."

I laughed.

Then the weird part.

Remember the last trip to Omaha?

I heard Bob Seger's "Turn the Page" and really enjoyed the fact that I was on a long and lonesome highway east of Omaha.

It came on again!

I sang the line at the top of my lungs.

Passing cornfields.

A little satisfied.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Great Human Tragedy


It's just too much to comprehend.

The Haiyan typhoon that struck in the Philippine city of Tacloban has a death toll of at least 10,000.

Ten thousand human beings hanging from trees, buried in rubble, and basically unaccounted for.

It's incomprehensible.

What's left is just a pile of debris for the people who survived. They're running through the streets, searching for loved ones, looking for food, trying to find just something that will allow them to live another day.

I can't even imagine.

The winds hit about 147 MPH. The waters rose high, slamming and destroying whatever was in the path.

And at these times you'll hear about people questioning God.

Even blaming Him.

Pat Robertson or one of those goofy bastards who preach to take money from the desperate will blame it on the gays, or bad living by the people who live here. They will signal it as the end of times.

And there are moments when you have to shake your head in wonder.

Why?

I have a belief that there is a great struggle between good and evil. A video game of sorts between the all-powerful.

And that sometimes evil wins.

And what is righteous suffers and takes a hit.

That's the way I look at it.

God is saddened by it all.

I know.

I know.

That is simplistic and shortsighted, right?

But so is blaming the gays.

And the way I think about it, God is saddened.

You know how I know that to be true?

Because we are saddened.

And we are the little mini-mes that God put together for the purpose of helping one another here on the grounds where evil sometimes wins.

Despite our best efforts.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Kobe! Fuzzy! Kobe! Fuzzy!



A rerun from May of 2010 - photo by Colantino

I wish someone could explain the workings of the human mind to me. Or at the very least I wish a team of psychiatrists could interpret my dreams.

Okay, here goes: My dream from last night:

Me, the wife and the boys are watching the Lakers playoff game. (That's a dream right there - I wouldn't get caught dead watching the NBA).

Midway through the game Kobe Bryant hits the ground, clutching his left knee. He's writhing in pain, and I turn to Kathy.

"You know what this means?" I ask.

"You think they'll call you?" she asks right back. The ringing telephone stifles my answer. Phil Jackson is on the other end of the line. "We need you," is all he says.

The boys are excited. Kathy is torn, knowing that she will miss me around the house but that the Lakers need me too. She understood all this when she married me.

"I don't want to fly across the country," I say. "I'm tired. I work too much."

"You'll get to use your I-pod for the entire plane ride," she says by way of argument. Phil Jackson is patiently awaiting my answer.

"I used my good sneakers to till the garden," I respond.

"We'll give you sneakers!" Phil screams in my ear.

"But I'm 45 years old. I'm only ten percent of the player I once was," I respond.

"Ten percent of you is 95% better than the rest of the league," Kathy answers. (She's even great in dreams, isn't she?).

I hardly even remembered the plane ride, but we landed at LAX and thousands were lined up to greet me. The police escort to the Staples Center followed, and I was introduced over the loudspeaker as the crowd chanted Fuzzy! Fuzzy! Fuzzy!

Unfortunately, I never got to play in the game.

Melky stirred at the foot of my bed, sat up and started to cry. Even though it was the middle of the night she needed to hit the head.

"Bah!" I was just getting ready to start the game," I mumbled.

I swear I saw that dog smile.

As I waited in the cold, dark night for Melky to finish her business, I thought about the game that I would've played.

Be sure of one thing:

I would have dominated.

God help me!

The Perfect Word

Was out traveling around the other night when Reason to Believe by Springsteen popped on the E-Street Radio.

That song is an important one in the Fazzolari family. November 5 just passed and we talked about the fact that 12 years ago Jake underwent the operation that saved his life.

Jake didn't want to talk about it until we told him that the anniversary was a good reason to buy him a present.

We took him to the video store.

Yet the Reason to Believe song was the song that got one of us through the ordeal.

At the end of every hard-earned day people find some reason to believe.

It wasn't me.

Kathy was the one who really leaned on that song. So much so that when I'd get into the vehicle we shared for the back and forth to the hospital it had just been played.

She wasn't that big of a Bruce fan!

How had she found an obscure song off the Nebraska album? An album that almost no one bought!

We were together the other night when it came on the radio.

"My favorite," Kathy said.

I thought about the fact that Bruce was severely depressed when he wrote the record. All of the interviews say that he was living alone and that he isolated himself from everything, and wrote the angry, sad album in a fit of depression.

I know that writing comes out of that.

I also know that it's real difficult to find the right words to verbalize that for the audience. There's a fine line between sounding like a crazy man and finding that spot where people can relate.

The verse that got me:

Congregation gathers down by the river side. Preacher stands with a Bible, groom stands waiting for his bride.
Congregation gone and the sun sets behind a weeping willow tree.
Groom stands alone and watches the river rush on so effortlessly.
Wondering where can his baby be.
Still at the end of every hard-earned day
People find some reason to believe.


Imagine the time that went into the word choices made to convey the message.

Just ridiculous, folks.

It could have been any kind of tree.

The fact that the Bible is in play.

That the world moves on...effortlessly...despite the pain...in the hearts of a single man.

"God. The perfect words," I said.

"It got me through," Kathy said.

And there you have it, folks. The full circle. Bruce in a creaking chair with a guitar and a real sour face. Wondering how he can put it out there and make a difference in the lives of people he will never stand face-to-face with.

Perfection.

You wanna' be a writer?

Find the perfection.

That's all.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Dream Baby Dream

Heard this song while driving around listening to E-Street Radio the other day. I remember hearing that Bruce dedicated it to his Mom after his Dad had died. When I saw him sing it live on the Devils & Dust Tour the words - I just wanna' see you smile...hit me hard. I know it's repetitive when written down, but when you hear the lines, over and over and over and say them to yourself as a bit of a chant. It's powerful. And a son singing that to his Mom. Beautiful. I just wanna' see you smile.


Dream baby dream
Keep on dreaming
Come on baby, dream baby dream
Keep on dreaming
Come on darling, dream baby dream
Dream baby dream
Keep on dreaming
Come on darling, dream baby dream

Keep the light burning
Come on, keep the fire burning
Open up your heart
Come on, open up your heart
Dream baby Dream
Come on baby, keep on dreaming
Keep on dreaming

I just wanna see you smile
I wanna see you smile
I just wanna see you smile
Come on and dream baby dream
Come on darling, keep on dreaming
Yeah dream baby dream
Come on baby, keep on dreaming

Dry your eyes
Come on darling, dry your eyes
Keep the fire burning
Come on, keep the fire burning
Come on
Come on baby, dream baby dream
I wanna see your smile
I just wanna see your smile
I wanna see your smile
I just wanna see your smile

Come on and dream baby dream
Come on darling, keep on dreaming
Open up your eyes
Come on baby, keep on dreaming
Open up your heart
Come on, open up your heart
Let me see you smile
I just wanna see you smile
I wanna see you smile
I just wanna see you smile

Baby, dry your eyes
Come on baby, dry your eyes
And just keep on dreaming
Come on baby, dream baby dream
Girl, dream baby dream
Come on darling, keep on burning
Yeah keep on burning
Come on, open up your heart
Come on and dream baby dream
Come on baby, dream baby dream

Yeah open up your heart
I just wanna see you smile
I wanna see you smile
I just wanna see you smile
Come on and dream baby dream
Come on darling, dream baby dream
Open up your heart
Come on, keep the fire burning
Keep the fire burning
Come on baby, dream baby dream
Yeah keep on dreaming
Come on darling, dry your eyes
Come on and dry your eyes
I just wanna see you smile
I wanna see you smile
I just wanna see you smile
I wanna see you smile

Come on darling, dream baby dream
Come on, keep on dreaming
I just wanna see you smile
I wanna see you smile
I just wanna see you smile
Come on, dream baby dream
I just wanna see you smile
Come on, dream baby dream
I just wanna see you smile
I just wanna see you smile
I just wanna see you smile
Yeah, I'm gonna see you smile
Come on baby, dream baby dream


More lyrics: http://www.lyricsmania.com/dream_baby_dream_lyrics_bruce_springsteen.html
All about Bruce Springsteen: http://www.musictory.com/music/Bruce+Springsteen

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Little Voice

Don't you wish the little voice in your head would shut up sometimes?

Wouldn't it be nice if it was a different voice now and again?

Like Morgan Freeman, or something?

I'm thinking we all have that voice that sorts of follows the action and tells us what to do or what not to do in a certain situation.

I'm also thinking a lot of people sort of ignore their voice, or that the brain behind that voice is a bit mentally deficient.

My voice developed back in grade school, I suppose. The nuns sent me off on a path of virtual self-destruction and loathing by telling me what was wrong in the eyes of the Lord.

And what a list it was!

I swear.

Of course my beautiful wife and I wanted the children to be exposed to the teachings of the church and we did a good job of that, but the little voice inside my head also told me that perhaps it wasn't real healthy for them to believe that everything they were doing was tragic if mistakes were made.

I spent the first fifteen years of my life absolutely guilty.

I still feel guilty.

I see those paddle-wielding maniacs in my nightmares some times saying:

"MY GAWD! THAT'S A MORTAL SIN!!!!"

Yet I think of the voices that creep inside the heads of people who do really horrific things, and then are a bit defiant about it.

Do the voices in their heads just go silent?

We watch the 48 Hours shows and they treat them like mysteries, blocking out the scene behind the guy their talking to as they deny the allegation.

"Did you murder your wife?" The guy asks.

"Absolutely not!" the guy says.

"He's lying," I'll say.

And sometimes it's easy to tell. It's almost like you can hear the guy's internal voice yelling:

"Yeah! And I'd do it again!!"

But still, it's amazing to me. I always want to hear how the tiny voice justifies it.

I think of the guy who ran the Exxon Valdez aground while supposedly drunk. I think of him waking up the next morning, all hungover, and having a ship mate come to him.

"Do you know what you DID last night?"

The nuns did a number on me.

There are still days when I wake up shaking, counting the mortal sins as opposed to just the little ones.

I wish more people did that, honestly.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Dog Killing Son Of A Bitch

You know, sometimes reading the newspaper or watching the local news is a real mistake.

I made one such mistake on Friday morning. I grabbed the paper and went to the local news and immediately read the recap of a man who stands accused of beating his dog and then shooting it to death.

While his own kid watched the scene play out.

The man claimed that he was saving the kid from the dog that supposedly went mad after he chased the dog from sleeping in the wrong room in the house.

The cops weren't buying the story because the dog had been beaten so badly and because the guy was shit-faced.

As I read the account I could feel the bile rising.

There's no man in the world that loves his dogs more than me. It's always been that way too. My wife and kids mock me for the attention that I pay to Melky and Paris, but I've been close to every single dog we've ever had from Ricky 1 to Ricky 2 to Ricky 3 to Frank to Sam to Max to Shadow.

All of 'em.

I love my dogs. We go for rides. We play ball. They are a captive audience for the songs I sing, and they've never given me more than a moment of aggravation. Even when they poop in the house.

I can't stay mad. They are allowed to sleep anywhere the hell they want.

This asshole of a man hit the family dog with a bar stool. Then a two-by-four. Then he gut shot it to death.

Yet what gets me about the story was a single line about the kid trying to get the dog clear of the scene.

After the bar stool beating the kid took the dog away from its attacker.

But the drunken man followed them out to the yard and picked up the beating with the two-by-four.

That was the heartbreaking aspect of it all for me.

I imagine that kid.

In tears.

Begging his father to stop.

But he wouldn't.

And I know that my anger shouldn't be reserved for men killing dogs. I'm sure that in that every section of the paper there were stories about men gunning down other men.

Those stories are buried in every paper in every city of this country. There's an element of society that we think is just disposable for some reason, and that, in itself, is heartbreaking.

But that poor defenseless animal.

The man beat it to death for sleeping in the wrong room in the house.

There most likely won't be a long prison term for the guy.

Hell, Michael Vick is a millionaire again with adoring fans.

But think of the prison that guy put that kid in.

Depending upon how much that kid saw...

...it was a life sentence.

Son of a bitch.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Incognito

What do you make of this story of the Miami Dolphins lineman Richie Incognito?

If all of what is being said is true this guy appears to be a real genius, right?

Texting messages of hate and racism to a fellow player?

It appears that he drove the guy nuts with repeated threats and intimidation.

I read a few of the supposed messages and a lot about the relationship between the two men and all I can say is:

ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?????

Back about thirty years ago things were a lot different out in the world. There were a lot of instances of bullying that sort of went unreported. Teachers used to think that you were whining if you complained about another guy torturing you. If you reported it, you were considered wimpy. The only advice you ever got in regard to bullying is that you had to 'stand up to the guy doing the bullying.'

Well, I can't say that I was over-exposed much to bullying. There was one mean bastard in high school who really picked on me quite a bit when I was back in 8th grade, and I went out of my way to avoid the guy. I can remember being confused. I didn't know the guy very well and I just had no idea why he hated me.

But he did.

I didn't think standing up to him was a very bright idea, however, because I figured he'd kick my ass.

He abruptly stopped picking on me one day though.

I remember it as if it were yesterday.

I scored a couple of goals in hockey in gym class. He happened to be on the other team. My team won.

As I got changed after gym he came over to me in the locker room setting and very loudly announced that he was going to beat the shit out of me as soon as I left the locker room.

My buddy Jeff was standing right there.

"That's probably not a great idea," he said to the little bully.

And that was the end of it.

I never got picked on again.

So, perhaps the standing up to a bully is effective if the bully is afraid.

This Incognito guys appears to be severely limited in social graces. He was tossed from Nebraska. He has been on 3 different teams. There don't seem to be a lot of people in his corner right now.

Will he be run out of the league?

Will he get the help he needs?

If he loses his job will his anger escalate until we see him shooting up the world?

Is he allowed to carry a gun?

(Oh that's right...it's his right).

They say that he played for the Bills for 3 games.

I don't remember him being here. He was cut fairly quickly.

Damn.

The guy seems like a real special person.

I hope the league shuts him out, but then again, that might make him real angry.

Perhaps my buddy Jeff can cure him.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Dr. Phil

Recently I've discovered Dr. Phil.

You see, I have a tendency to get real involved in work and there are times when I finish up and realize that I haven't had a lot of contact with the real world. Being obsessed is no way to go through life. Therefore, I try and distract myself a little.

So while writing reports now, I flip on the television and listen to Dr. Phil as I type. I only get to listen in maybe once or twice a week, but that's usually enough.

There are some seriously messed up people in the world.

Thank God that Dr. Phil knows everything.

But seriously, last week there was a guy on there who had no idea that his constant belittling and sometimes physical abuse of his ten-year-old son could have a negative impact.

"Sometimes I beat him up to toughen him up," the redneck said.

Seriously? Beat a kid to toughen him up?

This week I caught an episode about a young girl who had an eating disorder. She was once a pretty girl but now she weights about 75 pounds. She eats and eats and eats and throws it all up.

Anorexia has always been amazing to me. I can rule it completely out as being my cause of death. I beat the hell out of that disease.

Yet it certainly wasn't funny.

The pretty girl who looked a lot like death was screaming and crying:

"I hate myself! Don't you get that? I want a normal life!"

The other members of her family and Dr. Phil were not real kind to her. I guess it was a tough love sort of thing, but they were simply telling her that she needs to eat a sandwich, more or less.

Dr. Phil, of course, within an hour, makes the world a lot better. He speaks in cliches of wisdom and knowledge and the perfect edits get us to the end.

And I may need to find something else to do because the more you listen in the more you realize that the seeds of self-destruction fill all of our pockets and one way or another we are going to plant those seeds and just watch them grow, no matter who is screaming at us to stop.

My Grandfather used to watch game shows.

He'd spend the hour of the Price is Right rooting against the contestants. I used to think it was a real funny way to watch it. If one of the contestants would get it wrong he'd say:

"Good for you, you dumb bastard."

As crazy as it sounds there are times when I watch Dr. Phil when I root against the people who are fighting each other and themselves.

The guy who was beating his kid?

I'd love to see him get well, but I'd rather see him get punished.

The anorexic?

Of course I'd like to see her get well, but what does watching her kill herself slowly do for me?

When I asked Grandpa all those years ago why he rooted against the contestants he summed it all up:

"I got my own problems. Who cares if they get to go on a trip somewhere."

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Two Hospital Patients

An Inspirational Story - Borrowed from the 'Net

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room's only window.

The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on holiday.

And every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.

The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.

The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm beside flowers of every color of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.

One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn't hear the band - he could see it in his mind's eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.

Days and weeks passed.

One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch and, after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.

Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the world outside.

Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it for himself. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed.

It faced a blank wall.

The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window.

The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall.

"He just wanted to encourage you."

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Favorite Places to Sit

I have my own designated spot at home. It's the seat on the couch directly across from the television and close enough to the heating pad.

I've spent too much time in that spot recently.

Melky has a spot too. She gets the seat right next to me, and she jumps up and moves close so I give her the hug and pat on the head she needs.

Then we watch Judge Judy.

Yet it got me to thinking about some of my other favorite places to sit throughout the years.

My Grandpa used to sit out in the garage at the house on Spruce Street. We'd all go over there and sit with him. He wasn't watching television there. He was watching the neighborhood. He'd wave at some people. He'd flip off others. He'd wait for us.

"Come on in, sit down."

He'd talk to us about everything.

If Grandpa was in a good mood it was a great place to sit.

If he wasn't...it was an uncomfortable squat.

So, not to be out done, Dad would always set up the screen door in our garage, and on warm summer nights, with the Yankees on the television, and cukes and tomatoes cut up on a plate, we'd sit and watch, and laugh and play cards, and wave at people, and flip other people off.

We all sat there comfortably.

For years and years.

So I had a jump off point.

I thought of sitting in a room at the TKE house back in college. It was a room that we called Jungleland.

It was properly named.

The beer flowed. Discarded chew ran down the walls. The place stunk to high heaven. We laughed a lot there. We listened to Bruce on a loop. We waved at people passing by. We flipped a few off too.

There were moments when it seemed like we'd never leave that room because it was so comfortable, but we had to get out of there eventually. All my college buddies remember Jungleland though...and that makes it a comfortable place.

Now.

The kids come to me. One at a time, a few times a day. They stop by with their phone or the I-pad.

"Did you see the goal Ovy scored last night?"

Jake will sit beside me (much to Melky's dismay) and play the video clip for me.

The other day Jake and Sam stood on either side of me and they played a video for Emminem.

They know I'm not a fan of that art form, but they wanted my approval, that it wasn't all bad.

(And it wasn't).

Yet I sat through all 7 minutes of the video despite my misgivings about the 'lack of music'.

Because I was comfortable in my seat.

"He's not a bad writer, right?" Jake asked.

"That was good," I said.

And they headed off, happy that they'd cultured me.

All the while I was just trying to give them a seat on the couch where they could think back and be comforted.

It's important to find a comfortable place to rest.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Dogs On Main Street


About a week ago while busting chops on Facebook one of the Grape Apes posted the following sentence:

"Shut-up and write me something, bitch."

And it kick-started an entire thought process.

You see, I haven't been sitting here idle. I have continued to write.

That's the only way I know to survive.

I have two books 'in the tank' and two more in varying degrees of completion. A part of me was real selfish about the whole thing.

As long as I was writing, who cared if anyone else read it.

When I was in New York at the awards ceremony something clicked and I came to the realization that I didn't care anymore if I was ever honored again, or interviewed again, or received a hearty thank-you, but that one sentence...

It brought me back to why I had wanted to do it in the first place.

Because I love reading.

More than almost anything else in life.

I had started writing because of that love for reading. I recall being about thirteen years old and in the middle of a well-written book that made me come alive.

That's what I want to do. I want to write something that means something to someone. I want to have readers. I want to make them laugh, and cry, and love reading my books.

And what I forgot, in the middle of the business end of things, was that I had done that, over and over again. I brought stories to life for people I've never even met.

I gave them something to read, bitch.

So my buddy kicked me in the ass with a throwaway comment.

There's a long ways to go.

Because of the stupid business.

But I want to do it.

The cover sketch of the book is just a working sketch. It was drawn up by a real talented guy. (More on him as we get closer) and I'm not sure we will ever use it, but again, it got the ball rolling.

What's the book about?

It tells the story of four middle-aged people who have chased a lot of things in life, and have basically failed, but they each have an idea, a hope, and a lot of faith in the fact that they're chasing the right things. They target shaking hands with their idol - Bruce Springsteen - and set off chasing him from city to city.

I wrote it fast.

I used a lot of my own Bruce stories. There's a lot of fun there. I used a lot of the lessons I've learned about fear, love and loss.

I created my favorite character ever in the pages.

A sad-sack of a man who tries hard to do the right thing.

The adventure was in the writing.

And it may have sat right there on my hard drive had I not got the subtle kick.

Something to read, bitch...

Coming soon.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Suck Sux

So Boston won the World Series.

The third time in the last ten years.

The Patriots have been good for quite awhile.

The Celtics won a title recently.

So did the Bruins.

Yippeee!

Years ago my hate for the Red Sox was palpable. I couldn't stand Manny, or Pedro, or Ortiz. I hated Millar and Clemens and Damon. I couldn't stand Boggs or Jim Rice or even Yaz.

I vowed that I would never step foot in that city.

And then I was invited there for a book event that I had to attend.

We all know what happened when I landed - I went straight to Fenway and the long plane ride resulted in a bit of confusion as I had to take a quick leak.

It was good for a laugh.

I went around the city, and the worst sort of thing happened...I kind of enjoyed it.

"It's a nice city," I said to my beautiful wife on the call home.

"With a baseball problem," she said.

I spoke to a friend of mine back here who grew up in Boston. He was giddy with the fact that I enjoyed my time there...so he took it personally...he was going to get me inside Fenway Park.

He sent me Bruce tickets.

So I went. My beautiful wife went with me.

Bruce made that place come alive.

"It's a great park," I told my buddy when I got back.

He laughed:

"You're getting soft," he said.

Well.

I'm here to tell you that I'm not.

I'm not happy.

Boston Strong?

Nope.

Boston Sucks!

Congrats!!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

To My Buddy, Mark

Over 40 years ago I met my friend Mark at a little league playoff baseball game.

You see, Mark was the starting pitcher for the Braves. I was the catcher for the Mets.

Mark was really good.

I was all right.

The playoff game was a real talked about event. My buddies Al, Joe and Tom were on the Braves. I was playing with my brother and a few friends of my own. The Braves were heavily favored because they had the tough pitchers. Mark was the real problem.

I recall the game as if we played it yesterday.

I was the first batter.

I hit Mark's first pitch for a single.

Now that sounds a lot better than it actually was.

Did you think a line shot up the middle?

I actually hit it about four feet, but it was in a perfect spot between the catcher and the third baseman. I had swung with all my might and topped it into a spinning circle. I was safe at first when the dust settled.

Two batters later I was at 3rd with two outs.

I had stolen second and third.

Again, it sounds better than it looked.

The ball had escaped the catcher. I could have moon-walked to the next two bases.

Yet Mark had struck out both guys.

So I was at 3rd when our best hitter, Bob Feltz, came up to the plate. Bob (Rest his soul) hit a long drive to left.

It was way foul.

It was also a home-run because the ump (a 14-year-old kid) called it fair.

We were beating the mighty Braves 2 to zip.

We lost.

The final score?

44 to 2.

I swear to God!

I still have nightmares about that game. It left a lasting scar because my new friend Mark had struck me out the next two times up and then for good measure he hit me in the ribs on my last at bat. I laid on the ground near tears thinking, 'I hate that guy.'

Turns out, I was wrong.

I love that guy!

For the next 40 years we have been friends.

We've laughed a lot.

We've played a ton of ball against each other.

We drank plenty of beers and shared a lot of great moments.

Mark has been having health problems, but he's battling hard.

He's also celebrating his 50th birthday in a couple of weeks.

His wife touched base the other day, asking that we help Mark feel the love we all hold for him.

Done.

Even if he did hit me in the ribs back about 40 years ago.

Happy Birthday, buddy.

I still hit a single off you...

...deal with it!

A Real Hero: Darnell Barton

I'm a cynical guy who certainly dwells on some of the miserable things that go on each day.

We all do.

Check the news.

"So and so was drunk driving."

"John Doe stabbed or shot, or beat Jane Doe."

"Here's a fire!!!"

And the national news?

Forget it!

Well, this week we were treated to a good story.

A man did what we all aspire to do.

But he did it.

Darnell Barton is an NFTA bus driver here in Buffalo. I'm quite sure he's had some miserable days performing his job on a routine basis. He's probably seen people at their worst.

Darnell had a bus filled with passengers. They were near Buffalo State College. Darnell was paying attention. He saw a young lady on the wrong side of the guide-rail, and he thought that it was looking like she might jump.

So Darnell did what a lot of other people who light have seen the young lady didn't.

He stopped and he headed out the door to help.

Darnell asked if he could lend a hand. He sat down on the ground and wrapped his arm around the lady.

She didn't kill herself that day, and she might have had Darnell not been behind that wheel.

Very cool.

It does all of us good to hear a story like that.

Since it happened Darnell has been on the national news and is being hailed as a true hero.

Good for him.

We should elect him to congress.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Happy Halloween!

I've always considered Halloween as a stupid day.

Even as a kid I thought it was more of a pain in the ass to get dressed up and go out and beg for candy. The entire ghosts and goblins thing was lost on me and I thought it was somehow beneath my child sensibilities.

But we did it. Dragging our bags up and down the street. Dressed up like dopey bastards.

In high school things changed a bit and we went out to cause trouble. Or as much trouble as a pack of clean-cut kids could do. I remember we tried to light some rubber balls on fire and roll them down the huge hill in front of our house.

Three rotations and the balls were out.

We threw some eggs and a few rolls of toilet paper, but still pretty lame.

I do remember dressing up like a woman as a senior in high school and I also recall being extremely hot, but it's hard to pick up pretty girls when you're dressed up like one. My buddy Jeff was especially clingy that night though.

(Just kidding, Jeffy).

In college we went out trick-or-treating one night just to get some candy in our stomachs before we went drinking. Most people didn't open the door.

So maybe it would get better when we had kids, right?

My wife and mother-in-law and crazy nieces all enjoy the event. They dress the dorks up against their wishes and head out down the road. I then sit there and wait for the doorbell to ring.

When the kids were young it was great.

Ten minutes of peace.

Yet they always came back.

And they were usually miserable.

Turns out my boys didn't much care for it either.

So why bother?

Every year you hear stories about kids causing trouble or someone getting too drunk to get home safely, or some old bastard putting razor blades in apples.

All a bit weird to me.

And besides, if I dressed up now I don't think I'd be much of a hot chick.

I can imagine knocking on someone's door:

"Who are you, little boy? Roseanne Barr?"

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