Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Showing Up

Life is 90% about just showing up.

I tell my kids all the time:

"Show up and shut up."

The Bills have a Pro Bowl Defensive Tackle, Marcel Dareus. He makes about 10 million dollars a year. He needs to really show up 16 times in a 52 week year.

Against the Dolphins Dareus was suspended, by his own coach, for the first quarter. That suspension came down based on the fact that Dareus was habitually late for his meetings during the week, supposedly all season long.

The boss dropped the hammer.

It reminded me of when the kids were young. I'd give them until 9 a.m. on Sunday mornings to empty all the garbage cans into the big can in the kitchen.

As is human nature, they were scrambling to do it at about 8:58 each Sunday. One morning Matt got to it at 9:02. When he finished I broke the news that he wasn't getting his allowance.

He was late.

He broke the deal.

"Being a little rough on a 7-year-old, aren't you?" Kathy asked.

"Absolutely not. He won't do it again," I said.

Coach Doug Marrone of the Bills must have thought the same thing about Dareus.

When Dareus was interviewed after missing that first quarter he said, "It ain't no big deal."

But lo and behold, the morbidly obese star athlete struggled to get up and out of bed for the 10 a.m. meeting the day after the Dolphins game.

He was suspended for half of the Patriots game.

This time he was sorry, or so he said after making the reporters wait three hours for him to get out of the shower after they got hammered by the Patriots and he cost the team a touchdown because he jumped offsides on a 4th and 1 play.

Of course, now he can sleep until his fat heart is content as the bloated Bills missed the playoffs for the 14th straight year.

Perhaps Dareus will show up with hammer in hand to help the lowly construction guys build him and his playmates a new $130 million taxpayer expansion on his playpen.

The one he only has to show up at 7 times a year.

And lose 4 of those.

And then skip out of the post-game interviews because the reporters are 'out to get him.'

"It's no big deal."

I swear to God, if one of my kids comes home wearing a Dareus shirt I'm gonna' make him eat it.

Monday, December 30, 2013

What a World We Live In Now

I was handed a couple of I-Tunes cards for Christmas.

I had one CD in mind...Natalie Maines. She has a wonderful voice and I had heard her sing a couple of songs on Howard Stern...so I ordered it on my phone.

It was available to listen to...6 minutes later.

Isn't that incredible?

And I did listen to it and was immediately impressed with each song.

So I sent Natalie a tweet to thank her for making the CD.

She replied, thanking me for buying it.

Isn't that crazy?

I've always had a soft spot in my heart for her anyway as her band was basically ruined because she voiced her opinion about George W. and was threatened with bodily harm.

Evidently her right to free speech isn't quite as important as that duck dudes is.

And perhaps everyone should just shut-up about what they think and feel, but the basic difference being that she is of a profession where protest sort of is part of the job description.

Yet the instant voice that everyone has is best illustrated in the story of the woman who was a big-shot in her company and was headed to Africa. As she was boarding the plane she said something along the lines of:

"Going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS."

By the time the plane landed she was in an absolute shit storm. There was a lot of talk about firing her from her high-priced job.

I really worry for my boys.

They are active participants in all the sites...Twitter...Face Book...Instagram.

"Be careful," I tell them once a month.

"But you're a wise guy on there!" They say.

"I have a job. I have a wife. I'm done impressing people," I remind them. "But I watch what I say anyway."

And it can't get much more free can it?

We can instantly reach out to celebrities.

We can argue with total strangers.

We have all our news, music, comedy at our fingertips.

A couple of clicks away.

I remember my brother, who worked for Verizon telling me back years ago that someday we'd all be carrying around our phones and communicating that way.

"We'll use them for everything," he told me back then.

"Who the hell would want all that all the time?" I asked.

Turns out we all wanted it.

Get the Natalie Maines CD - she has a wonderful voice.

She's no Kathy Fazzolari in the voice department, but who is?

Who is?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Cleaning Up

I'm starting to move around a little better...which is good, of course, but it has led me to different places in the house where clutter has been allowed to build.

An O.C.D. dude with a new year dawning does not get along with clutter.

It started in my room and the book shelves. They are becoming overfilled and there are a lot of people out there who are of the mindset of tossing them into the trash...I could never do that.

"You won't read them again," my beautiful wife explained.

"But they need to stay," I said. "They are memories."

So I organized them a bit. Then there are my hundreds and hundreds of CD's. All the music is now on my I-pod or phone, but I can't just discard those CD's, right? They are sorted nicely.

I don't know about you, but I'm not good with buying music this way. It's so impersonal. Yet at least I am still buying my music. Way too many people simply steal it.

Tell me how that is possible. An artist creates something and people sell it right out from under them. It happened to me a few times with the books. How is that not theft?

Anywhoha...

Back to the clutter.

Raise your hand if you have a drawer that's just busting with junk. We all have a junk drawer, right?

Well...

...we have a half dozen of them apparently. Plastic containers without covers, mind you, stuffed all over the place. You open the wrong cabinet, on the wrong day, and you might be buried in the avalanche.

I sat down on the kitchen floor and pulled everything out of one such cabinet. I wasn't about to bend and try it, but slowly and surely I organized it a little and matched a few of the lids with the bowls. Both dogs sat beside me, wondering; "What the hell is he doing now?"

I thought about going to the big room of junk that we have in the basement area, but that's just too much and the O.C.D. would most likely result in a seizure.

We have Barney tapes down there.

My wife is "getting to them".

I am under strict order not to throw them out.

I suppose that we will be looking at them as senior citizens.

Can't figure out why else we might need them.

But I ain't in charge, right?

Being off injured has taught me a couple of things anyway...

...mainly to relax a little and stop chasing life down. It goes on with or without me anyway.

Not everything has to be done this very minute.

Not every nook needs to be cleaned up constantly.

Does anyone need a Barney tape?

We got 'em all.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The 2014 Crystal Ball

So, we're getting there, right?

2013 is almost in the books...and as you go through the year end lists and all the review, with an eye on making 2014 the greatest year ever, just remember to temper those expectations a little.

Shall I make some predictions?

(Sam loves when I predict things because he saves the blog and brings it back and beats me over the head with what I have wrong).

1). I said 49ers over Broncos for the Super Bowl. I'm good with that. I'll stick right there.

2). I said the Bills will finish 6 & 10...they are one final loss away from making that come true.

3). The 27-Time World Champion Greatest Franchise in the History of Organized American Sports - the New York Yankees will get title Number 28 this year. Robinson Cano will openly weep before each game as a Seattle Mariner.

4). We lost James Gandolfini this year and that still makes me shake my head. There aren't any actors out there I wish harm to, but there will be a couple of shockers in 2014. I really hope that she figures it all out, but Amanda Bynes? Lyndsey Lohan?

It's too morbid...I ain't predicting one.

5). Justin Bieber will not stay retired. (God I hope I got this one wrong).

6). There will be at least 5 mass shootings...thoughts and prayers will go out to the families...nothing else will be done. (Hope this one is wrong as well).

7). The Duck Dynasty crew will be back. They'll say something else...and get tossed for good.

8). The Springsteen album will be awesome. (This is the basic no-brainer on the list).

9). The Affordable Care Act will be a rousing success for millions who couldn't afford to get sick. It will also be widely criticized by those who don't give a flying shit for that segment of the population.

10). Minimum wage will be raised to $8 an hour. It still ain't nearly enough.

11). The Chicago Black Hawks will win their 2nd straight Stanley Cup. Their best player, Patrick Kane, will bring the cup back to Buffalo again, and this time the town will turn on him and ride him out of town.

12). The United States will win hockey gold - Ryan Miller will lead the way - then he'll leave the Sabres as a free agent and sign with the Detroit Red Wings.

13). The Bills won't draft a QB because they feel they have a good one in EJ Manuel. They'll start the year 3 and 7 and fans will boo EJ off the field...by Thanksgiving the loyal fans will be counting down to draft day.

14). The Republicans and Democrats won't get along.

15). We'll lose either Jimmy Carter or George Walker Bush.

16). The Pope will be criticized when he finally allows priests to get married. The Pope will also speak out against those who judge gays - he will be roundly hated by a section of the population for that stand.

17). My sons will continue to try and eat me out of house and home.

18). I will get a hole in one this year.

19). My new book "The Dogs on Main Street" will be widely accepted and loved by all.

20). The Yankees will win title #28.

Did I mention that one twice?

Believe it!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Time to Read!

I'm not a hard guy to shop for.

I only like a few things and I'm not real quiet about those passions.

If you buy me something with the inter-locking NY in blue on it, you'll probably be all right. The 27-Time World Champion logo will also get you extra points.

This year I got a few Yankee mugs and Yankee ball markers for golf and a Yankee tool to fix ball markings on the green.

(That won't get much use as I hardly ever make a mark on the green...my ball usually goes screaming in, but read it and weep Grape Apes - it goes with my Yankee putter!).

I also like Springsteen and there are usually items related to the god of music that make an appearance.

But the gift of the year this year was simple:

The gift of reading.

My kids each bought me a book.

My wife grabbed me the new Stephen King Novel (She was real worried that I'd see it before Christmas, but I stayed out of the book store).

In all I gathered 8 books to read...and I spent a few minutes trying to figure out the order I would read them in...but it gets better.

I also received three Barnes & Noble gift cards of $50 each.

I have $150 to spend at the bookstore!!!!

I'm rich!!!

And there might be a lot of people out there shaking their heads.

"I've read three books in the last five years," someone said as I crowed about my good fortune.

"I haven't read a book in about five years," someone else said.

"How many books do you read a year?" the guy asked me.

"Two a week," I said. "About 100 a year."

The geek jokes were flying.

"Where do you find the time?"

And I thought about it.

I honestly can't remember the last time I didn't read before going to sleep.

"I read about 50 pages every night," I said. "Sometimes I'll read an entire book in a day."

The looks I got were akin to having admitted to a mass murder.

"That's pathetic," one of the non-readers mentioned.

But I thought of Christmas Eve and going up to my Mom's library at home. We swap good books nearly every time we see each other. We talk about favorite authors and even a few authors that I've met along the way.

"I was reading the Phelps book," Mom said, "And I kept thinking that you two won the same award. It was weird."

"We drank together," I said. "He's a good guy."

And the beauty of the greatest gift I ever received came rushing back to me:

My Mom taught me to love reading.

40 some years later it is still paying off.

I have $150 in book money!!!!

That's awesome.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Little Lunatics

There was a moment, with a house filled with my in-laws when I turned around and spotted a two-foot tall kid clutching a blanket who was sort of tugging at me.

"Where's Melky?" He asked.

"You don't want to meet Melky," I said.

What I really wanted to ask was:

"Who the hell are you?"

And I'm not sure if I'm getting too old or what, but I can't keep track anymore. There were so many kids running around...and they have so much damn energy...and their voices are piercing.

"Have you seen Landon?" Someone asked me.

"Michael Landon?" I asked. "Which one is Landon?"

I got a weird look.

Hell, I don't even remember how old my kids are. They like to play the: "What grade am I in game?"

Sam is in 8th. When they asked me a few weeks ago I honestly guessed:

"Sixth?"

So, you see, I'm at a distinct disadvantage when new kids are introduced on the scene.

Then I took to putting my fingers in my ears to dull the sound.

(A lot of that sound was coming from my full-grown niece who will remain nameless - Jen)

Yet there was an expectant father at the party as well.

"Congrats," I told him, "You're f&*%ed."

He laughed.

"You're laughing?" I asked. "Are there still things you like to do?"

He nodded.

"Has she fed you the line that you'll be able to do all of them?"

"We'll be fine," he said. "We get along great. We'll be able to pull it off."

I turned to another Dad in the room.

We both started laughing.

"Is it that bad?" he asked.

One of the kids was flat-out racing through my living room leaving food, drink and loud screams in his wake. The child's mother came chasing after, turned to the Dad seated beside me and said:

"Are you going to help at all?"

We both looked at the father-to-be.

"I'm screwed," he announced.

As the children finally headed out the door and back to their asylums I looked across at my beautiful wife who had worked so hard to make it all happen again (I did do the cooking so leave me alone) and she just smiled:

"Can you imagine having a young child around here now?" she asked.

"No," I said. "They're so freaking loud!"

Kids bring the energy. They are the reason for a lot of smiles around Christmas-time, but damn, I'm so glad that they all went home.

They're flat-out crazy.

"We weren't like that," Sam said.

This time I shared a laugh with Kathy.

They were, of course, but thankfully kids come around when our energy levels are a little higher.

We escaped unscathed.

None of the two-feet guests met Melky.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Day 2013

My big sis posted a photo of Dad the other day.


Just a beautiful shot, right?

And it occurred to me that in the photo that he was about the same age that I am now. And thankfully, we all shared those days with him.

And it got me thinking about Christmas.

And life.

And love.

And what happens after it appears to be gone.

And like the Grinch my heart started to grow.

Because I've been fortunate.

So damn fortunate.

We are all just chasing love.

When you're standing ten deep in a line at a department store worried about getting somewhere else to buy something else you're doing it for someone you love.

When you're waiting for the damn thing to pop up out of the turkey at the same time that the potatoes are ready for you to mash them...

...yeah...love.

When you're loading the car and sitting there waiting for the wife and kids to get in so that you're not late for the next stop, your patience waning...

...remember the love.

My Dad's smile is really broad in that shot.

Thankfully, I can almost read his mind right there.

He's happy.

Because he found it.

The kingdom of his days were filled with it.

The people he left behind all feel it.

Every single day.

And on Christmas we gather and hopefully cherish the fact that our hearts are overfilled...

...with love.

God gave me everything I want.

And I Thank Him with all my might.

Merry Christmas to all.

When you feel it.

Hold it tightly.

It goes fast.

But it doesn't go away.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas Memories

This has been a strange year.

A lot of sitting on the sidelines, not getting caught up in too much of the Christmas rage. One of my work buddies sent me a message immediately after the surgery.

"You're fortunate to have some time to just sit back and think. Cherish it."

Yeah. Just wanted I needed. More time to think about things.

Yet he was right. It is fortunate. You're kind of watching the world move with your own movements a bit limited, and a lot of Christmas through the years rushed back to me.

There were the Christmas' of our youth. Wild, elaborate celebrations that left me shaking my head about the hard work and generosity of spirit that Mom and Dad designed and carried out. The pizza at Grandma Fuzzy's...too hard to even try and duplicate that. The two dollars in the card from Grandma...Grandma and Grandpa Schryver's arrival and just hanging around, playing board games. Laughing and eating and buying presents and hoping that the presents you bought were good enough for the people you loved.

Those Christmas' seem to meld together into a huge ball of wonderful remembrances. Just great thoughts that I was fortunate to recall this year.

And then the Christmas' when the kids were young. The excitement of Santa Claus. The wonder in their eyes. Yet those years were filled with stress. Did we get everything? What are we bringing to your Mom's? Did we cook enough food? When the hell can I get a drink in here?

There's some wonder there too. My beautiful wife always doing the work in getting the gifts. She spent an equal amount of time wondering how I pulled off the big meal for 40 people. We worked really hard through those years...and did our best to make it a season of wonder for the kids.

I remember saying to Kathy after one such year:

"And Friggin' Santa Claus gets all the credit."

Lately it's all shifted once more. The kids are older. The family has changed. While we celebrated the addition as the kids joined the party we are now lamenting the losses.

The huge losses.

And it's impossible not to feel that now.

And the extra time allows you to think of that.

And think of that.

But when all taken together the reason for the season is still the same.

It's about the love, stupid.

It doesn't take a great thinker to come to that conclusion.

Yet there are moments when it sort of falls by the wayside as we try to eat, pick up all the freaking wrapping paper, get to this house, or that house...

...it's a celebration of love.

Those memories are covered in it. The actions of the day should be wrapped in it.

Just enjoy it.

No matter how much or how little you have...hold it tightly...and think about it.

And cherish it.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Remembering Dad

There are just so many days when I think about Dad and all the things he taught me.

Basically every day.

And now that I'm older I find his voice in my voice more often than not.

I see his face in my face when I look in the mirror and shake my head thinking things are tough.

But he taught all of us to battle through.

More than anything else it was his greatest gift to his children.

Keep punching.

And there are certainly moments, like this morning, when I think:

'Man, there could have been so much more.'

But what was there, and is still there, is so much to be thankful for.

I was talking to my brother the other day and a Dad story was shared and laughed over.

"He certainly left it all on the table," I said.

"Oh yeah," my brother said. "He squeezed a lot out of his years."

As I hung up the phone I once again wished for more, but when you're given a tremendous gift it's really impolite to wish, after enjoying every minute of that gift for so many years, that the gift had been larger.

Besides the gift is still giving.

It will give to my kids and their kids for years and years to come.

That's the really cool part about living right.

Dad's gift never wanes.

Happy Birthday.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

I Won't Be In Today

I had one decent day early in the week in the middle of being extremely frustrated. The reason I felt all right for a few hours?

I received a few work-related calls.

Things I could help people with. I actually had to think a few things through. I relayed the good feeling to a buddy of mine:

"It's amazing we get self-worth from our work," he said. "Part of the Catholic guilt trip."

I laughed.

Then, in a matter of minutes, the Today Show ran a story about the EPA big shot, John Beale, who collected a ton of money while calling off of work for years, telling his superiors that his time was short because he was busy with his top secret job working for the CIA.

I ain't kidding!!!

Years and years!!!

He collected a huge pay check. He was paid tremendous bonuses. He never once showed up. He had never done a lick of work!

For years!

It's an incredible story.

It's one of those real head-scratchers and it was stated that he'd while away his time by doing things around the house, riding an exercise bike and making up elaborate lies to avoid going to work.

No Catholic guilt there.

They interviewed Beale's boss. She had no idea what to say about the multi-million dollar scam.

The guy claimed to be in Pakistan on duty.

He claimed to have contracted maleria while in Taiwan.

He sent out a couple of emails a day, covering his tracks, and they deposited his paycheck directly.

The CIA never heard of him.

The EPA kept paying him.

Incredible.

There's way too much shame on this one. They'll make it go away quickly. He'll get probation. Another big-shot criminal who won't pay for stealing a ton of money.

Another example of absolute incompetence at a lot of high levels.

So much for feeling self-worth through work, huh?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Had Enough Duck Dynasty?

I must start by saying I'd never seen the show. I'm not much for the reality stuff.

Yet old Phil Robertson is getting attention, huh?

Some are clamoring for his right to free speech.

He received that. He said it. He's not in jail for expressing his opinion. So that's sort of out the window.

But he might lose the gig, right?

Well, that's his employer's right to choose. You can say whatever you want, but sometimes there are consequences, right? If any of us went on a similar rant we might face the loss of employment.

It's that simple.

As for what he said?

Who really cares?

He can say it. He can believe it. He can rent billboards and place them at every highway exit if he wants.

That doesn't mean he's right.

Doesn't mean he's wrong either.

Yet the thing that always galls me is when someone tries to impose their will on a large percentage of people who they don't know.

What if someone declared that pasta-eating Yankee fans were committing sins based on something they read?

Does that give him the right to declare me an infidel?

Simply put...your beliefs are your own.

You believe that God condemns homosexuals? You believe it so strongly that you're willing to risk your job for it?

Fine.

Go for it.

Don't be a homosexual and you'll be in the clear.

You're on a personal journey for salvation...so keep it personal.

You don't get points for grading others on their own personal quests.

Folks, we're all different.

We all have ideas on what is right and wrong.

We all should aspire to apply those decisions and choices in our own lives. Perhaps we can even speak about them. We're certainly free to do that, but judging others is a slippery slope.

Where's the line drawn?

Perhaps you don't agree with what someone doesn't like to wear. Your decision?

Robertson is angry because people are judging his right to a freedom, but his condemnation did the very same thing, didn't it?

The Bible says that all women who weren't virgins at the time of their marriage should be stoned to death.

Wouldn't that be interesting?

Good luck to Phil and his family. Before you feel sorry for him, remember one thing:

He made his bed by stepping out against a large group of people he is in no position to judge.

You get what you get.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Remembering Jessica Lange

Been chasing another great television series since the Breaking Bad phase of our lives.

Nothing yet.

We watched the first few episodes of a couple of them, but they were a little weird...didn't want to invest in them.

Jake showed up in the living room the other day:

"You wanna' try American Horror Show?"

"I'm just sitting here," I said. I was actually reading, but never say 'no' when the kids want to share.

The show was a bit too crazy for me. The supernatural, paranormal stuff is a bit much, but halfway through the first episode Jessica Lange showed up.

"Remember her?" I asked.

Jake just looked at me.

"When you were a little boy we had to watch the King Kong movie three times a day."

Teenagers hate being reminded of what they did as children. I figured Jake would shut it down.

"She was the hot chick?" He asked.

I laughed. I would say that every time that we watched the movie.

He remembered.

"Time hammered her," Jake said.

But it hadn't really. She's still a terrific actress. Youth and beauty give way, but she aged just fine.

Then it got me thinking about some of the other stuff we shared with the kids.

Jake used to make us wake up early so he could watch the garbage men dump the tote. I swear to God he'd be shaking he was so excited.

It was so much fun to see him so happy.

Still is.

We had once been watching a Yankee game (go figure) and one of their bench players, Bubba Crosby, was in the game. Sam was about 4 years old at the time. He looked at the screen and turned to me:

"Who the hell is him?" he asked.

We still do the "Who the hell is him?" whenever a new player is on the screen.

And Matt, you ask?

There's a million of them.

"I'm telling you right now, write it down," he told me as he watched the Bills play back a few years ago, "J.P. Losman is going to the Hall of Fame one day. Write it down."

Now when he mentions something I say, "Write it Down."

Matt also played in a high school basketball game when we were all present. He actually played very well, and is quick to remind us of that, but during the game he took one shot that was an absolute brick. It hit the backboard with a massive thud.

"Remember when you almost shattered the backboard?" Jake asked him the other day.

"There were people hiding under their seats," Sam added.

I just laughed.

All that came to mind when we saw Jessica Lange on the screen.

I wasn't a big fan of the episode.

"What did you think?" Jake asked. "I've been watching the whole series."

"It was great," I said. "We can watch another episode whenever you have time."

He headed away, satisfied, as if we had just finished King Kong again.

He's so big.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

In An Instant


So...Brian Griffin has returned to Family Guy as many of his fans hoped that he would. He was raised from the dead by Stewie, who loved him dearly, in a strange twist brought about because of the time machine that Stewie built.

The Twitter world was abuzz with the revival as fans of the show were thankful. The show creator, Seth McFarland sent out two twits (I'm paraphrasing):

1). Of course we weren't going to kill off Brian. Do you think we're high!

and

2). Just a warm and fuzzy lesson for you for the holidays. Don't take the people you love for granted because they can be gone in an instant.

That one hit hard.

And not because I ever took the people I love for granted, but because of the 'in an instant' part.

That's the tough part of the statement to handle.

In an instant.

It don't take much.

And with that the holiday spirit, in a weird sort of way was kicked back to the forefront of my mind.

Still not getting around too well. Still not all caught up in the thought of egg nog and making spirits bright. We still haven't set up our tree, and that's because there is a tree controversy around here.

Jake thinks the fake tree we've had for years is a bit too ratty.

"It's embarrassing," he said.

So there are plans for a new fake tree.

Unfulfilled plans thus far.

"Why do we even need a tree?" Sam asked. "It's kinda' dumb if you think about it."

"I don't need a tree," I said.

"We're getting a tree!" Kathy answered. "My God, what's wrong with you?"

Yet Sam was right there with me.

"Christmas ain't about the tree or the other crap," he said. "We just gotta' all be here."

Couple that with the McFarland tweet and I think the kid got it just about right.

Having everyone together is cause for celebration, tree or not.

The Sunday showing of the Family Guy was a joyous one as they celebrated Brian just being there. Life doesn't work that way, unfortunately. There aren't any time machines to undo the bad shit.

So enjoy the good shit.

After all, it can all go up in an instant.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ordinary Love

Lyrics from the U2 Song dedicated to Nelson Mandela...beautiful sentiments all through it...

The sea wants to kiss the golden shore
The sunlight warms your skin
All the beauty that's been lost before
Wants to find us again

I can't fight you anymore
It's you I'm fighting for
The sea throws rocks together
But time leaves us polished stones

We can't fall any further
If we can't feel ordinary love
We cannot reach any higher
If we can't deal with ordinary love

Birds fly high in the summer sky
And rest on the breeze
The same wind will take care of you and
We'll build our house in the trees

Your heart is on my sleeve
Did you put it there with a magic marker
For years I would believe
That the world couldn't wash it away

'Cause we can't fall any further
If we can't feel ordinary love
We cannot reach any higher
If we can't deal with ordinary love

Are we tough enough
For ordinary love

We can't fall any further
If we can't feel ordinary love
We cannot reach any higher
If we can't deal with ordinary love

We can't fall any further
If we can't feel ordinary love
We cannot reach any higher
If we can't deal with ordinary love




U2 - Ordinary Love Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Happy Birthday, Johnny


Looking at that photo of my nephew John from the softball game in the summer I can only recall what I have thought since the day he entered the world.

He's loved.

And there's no way I could have ever imagined what the circumstances of his young life would be from the vantage point of the day he was born.

My brother had called with excitement in his voice.

The unmatched excitement of witnessing the miracle of life starting.

Just an amazing, amazing gift.

"After seeing that if you doubt the existence of God...Man!"

Jeff's voice had trailed off.

And we were all so happy to be welcoming another John Fuzzy into the world.

And what a fine boy John has grown into. He has a bright engaging smile, a wonderful demeanor, and a thoughtful and intelligent soul. His family providing the guidance he needs to fight the cruelty of life.

Just beautiful.

During the summer we went out into the driveway and tossed the basketball around.

John and Sam were on a team together playing me and Rocco.

I checked the ball and tossed it to Sam.

He immediately passed it to his cousin.

I made a half-hearted attempt to block the shot, but Johnny was unfazed.

He put it right up as Fuzzy's are wont to do.

He swished it.

"I've been getting better," he said.

You sure have, kid.

You are loved.

Happy Birthday, Johnny.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Anniversary?

Saw a show with the parents of some of those poor children who were slaughtered in Connecticut last year. The news program kept talking about the anniversary.

Doesn't seem like much of an anniversary to me, and like many others, there are dates, for me and my family, on the calendar, that are about nothing but remembering pain.

How do you live broken-hearted?

Those poor parents.

And each of them spoke about how disappointed that they were about how the deaths of their children were turned into talking points for the pro-gun lobby and the anti-gun lobby.

About how it wasn't about the kids anymore.

And it shames me to think about it in that way, but what's worse are the shootings that continue.

And not just shootings at schools.

But yet...

...Nothing.

One group saying throw all the guns you can into the ocean.

The other saying we need more guns to solve the guns problem.

Nonsensical rhetoric to a Mom who isn't getting a child ready for school.

A dad who's not throwing a ball to his son.

An uncle who isn't buying Christmas gifts for a nephew.

A no-longer doting grandmother who now cries herself to sleep every night.

That's what was lost.

Nary a single background check law added to the books after such a tragic event.

No mental health laws passed.

No national law on restricting access to weaponry.

Nothing.

One of the Dad's spoke in terms of not being able to fight to make a difference because a lot of his fight to chase a great life died right there in that classroom.

That's what was lost.

The spirits of a whole lot of people were broken.

And the murders rage on.

In a civilized country that doesn't seem to know a way to talk about an answer.

Soon enough we are going to be filled with anniversary days that we can't even count anymore.

And that's nothing to commemorate.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Photo In the Paper

Opened the paper the other day and saw the unmistakable smiling face of a man who I'd met a few times on a construction site.

It was a great smile.

And I thought about the first time I met the guy:

He was on a scaffold plank about 18' above the ground, setting block. Working hard. Real hard. As it was a bright summer day he worked without a hardhat and in a tank top and shorts. There was a much younger man standing on the plank beside him. Also well under-dressed.

All against the rules of safety.

I called him down and he extended a huge, calloused hand to me. The sweat was pouring down his face. He was a big, strong man. As we shook hands I registered the fact that he was tough. He might've been thinking the exact opposite thoughts based on my grip.

I explained to him what he needed to do to avoid potential fines, or worse, a bad accident.

"You fall 18' you might die," I said.

"We're all gonna' die," he answered.


I thought of that as I glanced at his photo. He was right, of course.

His photo in the obits was proof of that.

The write-up didn't tell me his age, but I figured late fifties or early sixties. There was more information that told me about a donation to the cancer society, but he hadn't looked like he had cancer the last time I saw him.

Just a month or so ago.

His job had looked better. He was following a few of the rules.

"What would it take for you to watch my company for me?" He had asked. "Keep in mind we barely make a profit. We go from one job to the next hoping just to make payroll. I only have three employees."

"I'll keep an eye out for you," I said. "I'm here anyway...just listen to me if I tell you something."

"I will," he said. "But if you see my company around just keep telling us, okay?"

We were shaking hands again. His huge sausage fingers squeezing my writer hand.

He gave me a card with the company information on it.

"Thanks for helping," he said. "The rules make it hard to make a living."

"It's worse if something bad happens," I said.


He hadn't answered me.

That last handshake was it until I saw his photo.

He had obviously worked right up until the day he died.

Hardworking, good man.

Just trying to keep his head above water.

Looking at his photo there was sort of tough to take.

But he was smiling.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

For Granted

We were reaching critical mass around here. There have been three really sad faces.

One is mine.

The other two belong to the dogs.

The rides around the neighborhood have been non-existent. No looking for the rabbits, birds, dogs and deer. Just day after day between the couch and the bed.

Dogs can really sleep!

Yet they look at me so hopefully in the morning and after dinner...their usual ride times.

"We gotta' stay," I tell them and I can see the sadness just take over their minds.

Yet I went to therapy the other day and asked, in front of my wife, whether I was cleared to drive.

"Two weeks," he said.

I was on my two week anniversary.

I looked at her.

"Dogs get to go for a ride," she said. "Oh joy."

But I still couldn't pull it off. The therapy brought no joy...more pain...we had to stay.

Yet I was determined.

On Thursday morning I made the announcement:

"Who wants to go for a ride?"

Damn, you'd have thought I was telling those dogs that they had front row tickets to a Springsteen show.

As I walked to my car it turned into an even bigger event as I thought of all the things I've taken for granted. I've been doing a bit of that thinking anyway as I laid around, but what a simple pleasure to just get the dogs in the car and drive a half a mile to get the paper.

I limped heavily into the store.

The woman behind the counter broke into a huge smile as she saw me. Perhaps she'd taken for granted seeing me each morning, but she immediately scowled at me.

"Why are you up to just get the paper?" she asked.

"I had to take the dogs for a ride," I said.

It's safe to say that my convenient store friend is firmly in my wife's camp on this issue.

But I made it safely back home.

We saw a big bird on the neighbor's lawn. The dogs went nuts as I pointed that son-of-a-bitch out to them.

As we settled in after our ten minute trip there were smiles all around.

One simple task, taken for granted on a lot of days, put the sad faces away.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Surviving In the Wilderness

You must've seen the story about the family that was lost in the wilderness and extreme cold out west. Their car overturned about a hundred miles from civilization and they survived by huddling together, burning tires, rocks, whatever, to stay alive.

Of course, it begs the question on why they would travel so far away to play in the cold, but why be negative? Once the accident happened the parents kept the kids safe so there's that.

I tried to imagine our loving family in such a situation.

First off, Dad wouldn't be thinking of the things to keep the family alive...that would be Mom's job...and that might not go so well either because there'd be no candy crush out there...and God help us all if we ran out of tobacco products.

Then there's the children.

Our kids aren't tough.

Is that a nice way of putting it?

Matt, one time, was out mowing the lawn...minutes later he was in the shower.

"What happened?" I asked as I saw the half-cut lawn out the back window.

"I GOT GAS ON ME!!!" He screamed. "WHAT IF I HAD STARTED ON FIRE!!!"

Then there was the day he took two different over-the-counter medications and was worried that he was about to go into convulsions.

He was weeping as he told me his mistake.

"My God!" I said. "We're gonna' have to pump your stomach!!"

He ran to his Mom.

And he's the tough one.

To say that our children would be a pain in the ass in a survival type situation would be a huge understatement.

"We aren't getting a signal!!!"

And we used to go camping. We'd head up to an amusement park and sleep two nights in a trailer.

I liked it.

The rest of them hated it.

We used to have to pack the game systems so they'd have something to do when they weren't spending thousands of dollars at the park.

God help us if they get bored, right?

And to pull off McGyver type shit to survive?

I don't think it's happening.

Sorry, clan...we'd curl up into a ball...

...a tobacco-deprived...Call of Duty lacking...candy crush missing...

...ball of whining Fuzzy's.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Wall Street Wolf

Read a recap of the real life crook that was the factual basis for the new movie with Leonardo DiCaprio.

The woman who was married to one of the crooks spilled the beans and reading the story I was sickened by all of it. The crew supposedly stole millions and millions of dollars and all of the aggravations of the stories such as these came back to me.

The guy was arrested and charged with fraud.

He spent 3 years in prison.

The wife is now divorced.

The guy opened up business again and lives in a huge mansion without her.

What's the problem?

Every single day we have social media things that go round and round about people who are poor...or making $7.25 an hour.

"WE NEED TO DRUG TEST THESE LAZY PIGS!!!!"

Someone will write that on their Facebook account and be proud of how bright they are.

Then there will be a million likes and people will comment that the handouts have to stop!

What about the other end, folks?

Why can the banks be brought to the ground?

How come we let Wall Street crooks run wild?

And then we make movies about 'em!!

Is it because they are smart enough to steal a whole lot of money?

Bob Dylan:

"Steal a little and they throw you in jail; steal a lot and they make you the king."

Yet the real problem?

The ones that are stealing are the ones who send out the garbage about stopping the handouts.

"Look at me! I made myself a true success! You can too as soon as you get rid of the bedsores, you lazy bastards!!"

Yeah, by stealing.

I'm fond of adding my own comment on all those stamp out food stamp sites:

"You can steal a lot more in a suit than you do in sweatpants."

The guy who put up the original post has no idea what I'm saying.

Just a slap on the wrist...write it off as the cost of doing business...and back to the mansion.

I gotta' stop reading things.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Dumbest Thing You've Ever Done

A few days ago I was reading a Facebook post about a guy who, by accident, ate a few cookies only to later find out they were dog treats.

The guy shall remain nameless so as not to embarrass him.

(Jeff Popple)

Anywhoha...it got me to thinking.

Dumbest thing you're ever done?

I have a bunch, as do most people, I'm afraid. I was listening to a story about Hall of Fame Baseball Player George Brett as he poked fun of himself for literally shitting his pants in public.

It takes a special person to make that public.

Mine?

The Bills were in their fourth straight Super Bowl back in January of 1994. I was convinced that they were going to win that one after having lost the previous three. We all had really got the partying down by then as well so we had the day planned out. It forced me up and out of bed by 7 a.m. on game day.

At that time I was living alone in my rat's nest apartment in South Buffalo. Anyone who had the pleasure of my company in that place just cringes whenever I bring it up in casual conversation.

"I was scared to sit down in there," my one buddy often says.

Whatever.

I jumped out of bed, put on my Jim Kelly shirt and headed for the door. I'd already received three calls about beer, and I was ready to roll.

Except we had a deep freeze the night before.

My car was parked real close to the two other cars belonging to other tenants. They were sleeping. I got in my car, started it, waited for the windows to defrost, tossed it into reverse and attempted to back out of my spot.

The car was frozen in place.

I couldn't very well call anyone I knew and mentioned that I couldn't get out of my driveway. I'd already developed a reputation for being a little slow on the uptick when it came to mechanical difficulties.

I thought of my brothers and how they could escape any situation. This was doable!

I kept the car in reverse mode and stood inside my door with my hands on the steering wheel. I was gonna' rock it back and forth to break the grasp of the ice.

Come on now...that's a reasonable idea, right?

I should have put it in neutral, you say?

Well, I didn't.

I started rocking it and I felt some progress. Then I felt a lot of progress at once. The car was backing up. My driver's side door was running straight into the ass end of the car parked beside me. My driver's side door started to close, forcefully.

I was still standing there.

As I was being squeezed hard enough to pull a George Brett my life flashed before my eyes. I could picture my Dad receiving the news and what he'd say as he digested the story:

"Yeah, he was a goofy bastard."

But then the car miraculously passed the other car. My driver's side door swung free.

I hit the ground.

My car kept going.

It smashed into the apartment house, tearing off a good chunk of siding.

I scrambled to my feet and jumped into the open door and slammed on the brakes.

I thought about shutting the car down and grabbing my bearings, but that would result in a lot of questions from my landlord or whoever the hell I woke up when the car hammered the building.

So I put it in drive and headed out.

The Bills got hammered.

My chest hurt all day, so I got hammered too.

The next day I came clean with the landlord.

He laughed.

Now tell me...isn't that a wee bit dumber than eating a couple of cookies that belonged to Fido?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Nelson Mandela

I must admit that I didn't have much of a grasp on the life of Nelson Mandela back about 20 years ago.

Yeah, he'd stood in the face of blatant racism.

Sure, he'd been sent off to prison and had toiled there rather than compromise his beliefs.

Certainly he made a bunch of really brilliant comments about living right.

But I was busy back then.

I spent way more time playing sports and drinking beer.

I had no idea who Nelson Mandela really was.

Thankfully, living in the information age we can go back and catch up really quickly. We don't have to go down to the local library and page through the slides or the encyclopedia.

Hell, it's on our phone now if we need it.

"That Mandela dude died," Jake said to me last week as the breaking news hit the world. "What did he do?"

The drinking and the heavy sports playing had ended in plenty of time for me to be able to tell him.

I explained a bit about South Africa and the way he stood tall once he was out of prison. I spoke of his standing as a world leader and how respected he was.

Jake lost interest about three minutes in.

"Yeah, says he died here," he said. "He was 95. It couldn't have been a great shock."

I suppose not.

Yet I went even deeper into reading things about the man. The news outlets were ready. There were posts set to break down the 10 best things he ever said. There were photos of him as a young man, a middle-aged man and an elderly man. There were pages and pages of kind words being said.

Yet I was waiting for it.

And sure enough social media did it for me.

They turned his death into a GOP-Democratic argument.

First there was a guy saying that Ronald Reagan dissed him.

Then I saw a couple of items about how Obama would pretend he'd said what Mandela had once said.

It pissed me off.

"Can't we honor the guy without turning everything into a petty gripe about who did what to whom?"

(I was branded a liberal peace-freak for that).

A few hours later Jake came out of his bedroom holding his phone and looking down.

(I swear that's what I see of my kids most of the time).

"That Mandela dude was a cool guy," he said.

He didn't elaborate.

That was fine with me.

In a world where their attention is diverted every three minutes I was glad that he'd looked into it a little and didn't try to shoehorn his own agenda into it.

RIP to a great man.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Don't Cha' Know

I can't believe that Robinson Cano won't be on the Yankees next year, and try as I may, it bugs me.

This is where the non-Yankee fan is supposed to jump in and tell me that they aren't the only team in baseball and how selfish and stupid I am for not believing that an extra $65 million can sway a man.

Is it worth $65 million to go to Seattle and never be heard from again?

That team stinks and Cano, as great a player as he is, can't do it alone.

Is it worth $65 million to give up the exposure of playing in NY?

Supposedly Cano signed with Jay-Z to maximize his off the field endorsement possibilities. He wanted to be a big star.

The only big star from Seattle was that dude from Nirvana, right?

(I won't make any cracks here).

Oh yeah, there was Frazier Crane.

Is it worth $65 million to not be a Yankee legend?

Yeah, Cano had that kind of future.

Mantle, DiMaggio, Ruth, Gehrig, Yogi, Reggie, Jeter...hell even Bernie, Tino and O'Neill.

Paul O'Neill sent a tweet after the signing:

"Oh, Robby! New York is the best place to play!"

And love them or hate them they are there...every night, every inning, every year. Cano will be playing his game at 10 p.m. Eastern Time. About a million less people will see him homer every time next year.

And he will homer less.

He's going to a huge park. Yankee Stadium was built for him. It was partially responsible for him making $240 million.

But there will be a press conference early this week and Cano and Jay-Z will stand side-by-side and tell the world that it wasn't a money decision.

That they like the future Seattle has.

That they like rain.

And coffee.

That the Yankees disrespected him with their paltry $175 million dollar offer.

That it will all be just fine.

That it's about winning and helping to build a winner.

I remember feeling sad when Andy Pettitte left about ten years ago.

He came back when his deal ran out.

He was happy that he pitched closer to home for a few years.

(Cano is half a continent from home now).

But Andy said it best when he returned:

"There's nothing like playing for the Yankees."

Don't cha' know, it's gonna' hit Cano in about Mid-June when his team, is absolutely buried and he's sitting in his hotel room catching the highlights on Sports Center as the world pays tribute to Jeter.

That's when it will hit him that $65 million doesn't go quite as far as he thought.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Living Wage

Damn.

Someone had to go and post something to ruin my morning agony time the other day.

It was an across the board condemnation of those looking to earn a higher wage in the fast food industry.

And of course, it's pointless to argue such things on a message board, but it really gets my blood boiling. You inevitably hear the "loser" label slapped on such people who are stuck working such jobs.

The same loser label that's slapped on those needing government assistance.

And to be sure, those losers are out there, and they deserve scorn, I suppose, but I really don't know everything I need to know to slap such a label on them.

But I do know that McDonald's and KFC and Wal-Mart are successful franchises making billions and billions. I do know that those who work in such places are not supposed to try and make a career out of it, but My God, if you can't afford to get to work why would you go to work?

Maybe $15 an hour isn't the answer, but $7.25 sure the hell isn't either.

But what galls me are those who look at it as simply people being losers.

I know a lot of hard-working guys who are just staying in their homes. They get up each and every day and head off to work.

If they do that shouldn't they get some sort of life?

And it pains me to think about it, but I say it all the time.

In 1983, I was a common laborer. I worked really, really hard. I poured miles and miles of concrete, lifting heavy hoses straight up over my head. I dug ditches. I cleaned out elevator pits. I worked 60, 70, 80 hours a week some weeks.

And I was paid well to do it.

30 years later a guy doing the same exact job is making less money than I was back then.

Less money!

Gas was a buck a gallon. College was two grand a semester. I didn't have a phone bill. Food was way less expensive. Clothes then would be considered absolute steals today.

How can that be?

How did I get a medical package with my job?

How were men back then able to save for retirement?

How did women stay home?

How did a guy installing drywall send a bunch of kids to school, feed them, clothe them, and still go on a vacation?

It happened!

Now.

You do that work and you're a loser who can't adequately provide.

You're an embarrassment to the American way.

You should be fed peanuts.

That's all your worth.

This country was built on the sweat, blood and backs of men who prided themselves on doing the right thing.

As you bash those who want a raise in the service industry consider a few things:

Not everyone has the same opportunity.

Not everyone can become CEO of the world.

It just doesn't happen, folks.

And to disregard those who need to toil is a mistake.

It always has been and it always will be.

They are flesh and blood. They want the same sort of lives for their children. They didn't choose to be limited in their capacity to grow, and they are getting out of bed each day and trying.

They are trying.

A millionaire sitting in the boardroom of a billion dollar company somewhere must have considered that for a split second, right?

Maybe not.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Mid-Day Television

The other day I happened to find Judge Judy on for a single half-hour.

You should've seen how excited I was.

The one thing that I've really tried to do is keep the television watching to a minimum, but it's simply impossible. Still, not whining.

I knew it would be this way.

However, I've made some observations:

1). The creepiest thing on television is Ellen's dance up the aisle on her afternoon show. It's really a weird couple of minutes. She sort of creeps up the steps and not one person touches her. She also pretends to be singing along, and then it all ends with her hoisting her ass up and holding it for a few seconds before she plops into the chair.

The crowd is going wild.

It's creepy.

2). Law & Order sucks.

All of them. The show is a strict format and the detectives are real easy to hate because they are noble, all-knowing and really clever with their quips.

Quick - name one character (besides John Munch). You really couldn't give a first and second name to any of the rest. The thing that absolutely drives me crazy is that there will be a scene between two detectives and they will run through a dialogue that tells you that catching the guy is virtually impossible unless they get one really, really, really, really, really unlikely break and in the middle of their conversation...here comes Munch, or Iced-T:

"You might wanna' look at this!"

Then they will meet with the DA - either the Asian guy or the blonde who might be the worst actress of all-time - and they will all talk about the deal they won't cut because "Goshdarn it! We need to do what is right!"

And the next scene is the trial.

And either the idiot cop or the idiot DA breaks down the guy in front of the jury. Then they walk out...head held high that justice was served, or worse, that the system failed them this one time.

"But it's the system we got!" the screwed cop yells.

Garbage.

3). Dr. Phil, Maury, All other Judge shows other than the classic J.J.

The horrific behavior of absolute morons is held up high for strict examination. Dr. Phil had an anorexic on the other day and this 65-pound girl was in tears as her family surrounded her and told her they were sick of trying to save her.

Let me tell you, that poor girl was an absolute horror to look at.

I had to flip the channel.

Yet sometimes it's impossible to look away when husbands and wives start talking about how horribly they've treated one another.

She caught him cheating. He slept with her sister. They both still love each other. She stabbed him. He beat her. She stole his money, and holy cripes, it ain't even his kid, for crying out loud.

It makes you think the whole world is just a mess.

It is.

4). The National Football League

And my war against the NFL also continues. Do you know that there are football shows on all day, every day. That is certainly how it all bubbles to a crescendo by Sunday afternoon, but the big hits, the men being men, the false concern about head injuries, and the fact that every single announcer that talks about the sport must litter his speech with "The National Football League" or the "Football Field", is really irritating.

That's about it.

I may be ranting a bit more as I stew in my own filth day after day.

Yet it's all worthwhile.

When I find just a half an hour of Judge Judy.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Happy Birthday Cort!


Kids have a way of knowing.

My kids absolutely adore their Aunt Corinne.

They laugh with her. They love being with her. They tell Corinne stories long after she leaves, and each is filled with a sense of awe and wonder.

They know what it was like for us as kids.

Now mind you, Corinne didn't always see us as natural extensions of her. When she was a teen and we set her up as our mark for the day she'd respond in kind.

She had a little nickname for her brothers and it will stay between us.

GET OUT OF HERE, YOU _______!!!

As we grew, of course, we all saw Corinne as the woman she is now:

Beautiful.

Kind.

Generous.

Funny as hell.

Stubborn.

Brilliant.

And

Old.

Happy Birthday, Sis.

We love you every day.

And of course, I used to call her Cort.

She always responded with a nickname for me (Fill in the one missing letter):

Cli_.

(It's not an F).

Thursday, December 5, 2013

RIP Brian Griffin

I'm a big fan of Family Guy. In fact there are only two shows that I don't want to miss new episodes of:

Family Guy and Modern Family.

I love watching and laughing with the boys and while Family Guy is crass and crude, they usually tell the truth.

Well, the dog, Brian, died in an episode a couple of weeks ago, and like others, I felt really cheated.

But death does that.

Still, I figured it would be fixed by a plot twist and that Stewie would bring Brian back to life with a trip in the time machine, but alas, the time machine is busted beyond all repair.

"That's it!" Sam announced. "He's not coming back."

And Sam was not a fan of the plot twist either.

Still.

I forgot about it.

Until I saw an article about the petition started to get the show's creator, Seth McFarland, to change his mind.

There are more than 100,000 signatures on it.

And that made me sadder yet.

What makes me sad about it?

That we can generate so much passion for an issue like that, but can do little for other real life, important issues.

Poverty and hunger?

Poll people on that and they'll scream:

GET A JOB!

Childhood cancer?

IT MAKES ME SAD TO THINK ABOUT THAT.

Inner-City Violence?

LET 'EM KILL EACH OTHER!

A Living Wage for the Working Poor?

THEY SHOULD GET A THIRD JOB IF THAT'S WHAT THEY NEED!!

It's all just amazing to me.

For three weeks now we've been hearing about the fan who fell out of the stands at the Bills game. He's honestly had more stories done about him than I had done about the two books I wrote about Women & Children's Hospital.

A cartoon dog has a groundswell of real support.

People are impassioned.

It's a travesty! I tell ya'!!

Something needs to be done, NOW!!!

In the end, I just don't know what to make of it, but I'm serious. If I were to start an online petition about properly establishing rights for women in the workplace, or, hell...pick the topic...I wouldn't get near the Brian Griffin numbers.

"I hope they bring him back," Sam said. "I'll really be upset if he's gone forever."

A lot of people will, kid.

A whole lot of people.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Claire Danes & Kelly Ripa

Tuesday morning was really rough.

I woke early, of course, but I knew that if I got up and out of bed I was going to really pay for it, so I laid there, watching the morning news show, eating the aspirin that they gave me so I don't have a blood clot, and just hoping my beautiful wife was up soon.

She'd be heading down the stairs to get the ice.

I was to, under all circumstances, wait!

Thankfully, she got the ice to me by 7 a.m. and I placed the bags on my hip and back and waited for relief.

I was still waiting as Sam left, Jake left, and Melky and Paris went outside and then returned.

The pain wouldn't subside.

I thought of that rehab dork who made me move. I thought of that bastard surgeon who cut me, and the dork who ran into my car at a stop sign. I thought of God a little, and read the Twitter feed.

Nothing was really helping.

"You want me to help you get downstairs before I leave?" My lovely wife asked.

"Nah. I may just stay here," I said.

I watched the morning show and then Kelly and Michael headed out.

Kelly was dancing and smiling and talking about her hair. She's so bubbly and cute that I thought about something other than ice for a couple of minutes.

My wife was ready to leave.

She delivered the paper and a couple of fresh waters to my bedside.

Kelly announced that her first guest was:

Get this:

Claire Danes.

"There you go," my beautiful wife said. "Kelly Ripa and Claire Danes. Just lie there, close your eyes and fantasize about whatever you need to fantasize about."

"But you'd have to be there," I said.

(I'm one smooth bastard, aren't I?)

"Of course," she said. "Just the three of us and one big stud taking care of our every need."

I was up and out of bed an hour later.

I'm a flat-out stud.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Old Routine

My boss sent me a text on Monday morning asking me about the old routine being upset.

Damn. He knows me well. He understood that I'd be a bit disoriented.

And man, am I ever.

You see, Monday morning is a shot out of bed and a quick gulp of coffee and a run around the block with my dogs before off to work.

The dogs are sad.

I got up at the usual time, of course, and my first instinct was to get out of bed.

Big mistake.

I have learned one thing off the Monday morning experience.

I can't get out of bed until I am good and iced up.

And then it all went real haywire as I watched the family go through the motions of getting out there and taking care of business.

I did this from a flat on the back position - ice doing its work.

I really missed the routine.

"Are you doing okay?" my boss asked.

"It's not going quite as quickly as I'd hoped," I responded.

"There's a surprise," he answered. "Be patient."

And yet there was rehab to handle.

There's a place reserved in hell for rehab people.

They want you to do things you don't wanna' do.

"Pick it up as high as it'll go."

"Move this."

"Move that."

Hell, man, this ain't my routine!

Someone have a prayer for patience, goddangit?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Follow the Money

Watched a ton of football this weekend and let me tell you:

I'm a baseball fan.

In fact, I think football is sort of in trouble, but it will survive because it's such a money-maker, but the game certainly has suffered.

I've already pissed off the Grape Apes and the rest of the football fans, so I might as well continue.

Problem #1

The refs. I really don't know if I should blame them, they seem lost out there. The rules seen to be sort of rolling rules.

Quick: When is it a fumble?

And pass interference?

Saw a receiver held in the end zone a couple of weeks ago and the call wasn't made because the ball...which was in the general vicinity of where the guy might have been had he not been held...and the one ref called it a penalty and then picked up the flag after talking to guys who said they didn't think it could be caught.

Really?

They are responsible for making that type of call?

And I've been watching the game for 40 years...and every week there's a new rule...when a flimsy holding call wipes out a touchdown when holding can be called on every single play...you gotta' wonder.

Problem #2

Quarterbacks can't be hit high, or low, or late, or when they're arm is in motion, or if the play clock reads 15 seconds left, or if the QB is a really good player.

"15 yards. Unnecessary Roughness."

There are a lot of guys, who are paid to get the QB who are confused. It's really getting to the point where they are going to have to change the rules again - see note above - to clarify how and when a QB can be touched.

Problem #3

Maybe I'm getting old, but all the teams seem the same to me. There's just a whole bunch of mediocre football being played. Most of the games are boring...unless you're betting on them...The Bills game this weekend was fun as was the college game, but Jets-Dolphins and Colts-Jags?

Brutal.

There are a lot of brutal games played by poor teams being sold as high drama.

Just seems different from the 80's and 90's.

To me.

Problem #4

There's a lot of information coming out about guys being knocked silly. The players know the risks. 300 pound guys running into one another and being knocked cold...might have something to do with the long-term health of the participants.

The retired guys are saying that they can't remember where they are half the time.

They are killing themselves.

Most of them die broke and mindless.

That's a problem that may be bought off, but there was a hit in the college game that caused the five people watching to scream and cheer.

"He got annihilated!" Someone screamed, and we rewound the play a few times. The poor kids eyes were rolling back in his head, and most of the room was laughing.

Two plays later he was back in the game.

The announcer was congratulating him for his courage.

But when you think about it.

Really think about it.

It's kind of crazy.

But there's a lot of money spent on the game, and like I said...I watched a lot of it...

But at least I wondered a little.

And counted down the time to the start of baseball.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A Few Laughs

I had been playing catcher. My good buddy was pitching. The softball game was tied in the late innings and there were two outs with the bases loaded.

The batter hit a roller back to the pitcher and I moved to the plate and read the indecision in the pitcher's eyes as he fielded the ball.

"Throw it to first, moron!" I yelled.

"Shut the f&8K up!" He yelled back, as he threw the ball to me.

It was the wrong play, of course.

I caught the ball and stepped on the plate for the out, but the huge guy coming from third had one thought on his mind.

Separate me from the ball.

He hit me like a truck.

I was on my back, absolutely flattened, but I held onto the ball.

Yesterday we laughed hard about that play.

One of the old glory days moments.

Of course, I wasn't in much of a mood to rehash such things, but my brother and a half dozen of the guys stopped by to make dinner for me.

We kept laughing, talking about days on the field, the court, or the golf course.

We talked about golfing for a long weekend in the summer. I couldn't even imagine that it might happen.

"Gotta' talk myself into going pee," I said.

But soon enough dinner was served and they piled a plate really high for me.

"I can't eat this much," I said.

They all laughed.

And while I'd like to say I finished it.

I couldn't.

I left half of the strip steak they made me.

But it was a great meal because they served it with laughter.

Thanks, guys.

"He Wants to Hang 'Em All"

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