Friday, January 31, 2014

The NFL Does Not Pay Taxes

How's that for a kick in the head?

They are a not-for-profit organization and have not paid taxes, as a business since 1966.

Doesn't that piss you off?

And of course, someone will tell me about the Catholic Church...or this one or that one, but don't bury the lead!

The NFL is a freaking cash cow.

Did you know that the NFL also raises money for breast cancer research?

Do you also know that the keep most of that money?

For their not for profit.

I didn't watch the State of the Union.

I absolutely hate that format, but I did hear a little about the economic inequality and know that it was mentioned.

I heard they may raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour on Federal projects.

That won't make people millionaires, but perhaps a start.

I'm just sort of lost on all of it.

There is absolute outrage over people who are hoping to survive qualifying for food stamps and/or welfare...just go on your Facebook'll read all about the rage.

"Lazy bastards need to get off their asses!"

And the NFL can spend 50 years not paying taxes?

It infuriates me.

It really truly does.

And don't think the NFL is the only one.

The more money you generate the easier it is to get clear of those pesky taxes.

Fortune 500 companies hire the best accountants to pay as little as possible, and their employees are lucky to be working.

Where is the outrage here, people?

A guy owning a cell phone, although he applies for Federal assistance, is considered a gross pig for being lazy and incompetent and they can just steal cash hand over fist and no one says a word?

The NFL does not pay taxes.

The Commissioner of the Not for Profit Makes $30 million a year.

Let that sink in.

I'm sure he earns every penny, right?

Enjoy the big game!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Hidden Wrench Story

The above photo is a re-creation photo of a Fazzolari story from long ago. For obvious reasons my recollection of the evening is not great.

You'll see why.

I'm pretty sure it was a general party with friends and relatives. I know that my Aunt Rosalie and Uncle Herb were there because my cousins Joe and Paul were there.

As our corner men.

You see, this was a different day and age. Parents would buy boxing gloves for the kids. Ali and Frazier were great heavyweights and we all wanted to box for a living.

There weren't helmets.

Just two young boys, swinging wildly...trying to knock each other out.

I think I was about 10 and John was 11. Joe and Paul were early teenagers. I may be wrong about the ages, but that was the neighborhood.

(Like I've's a foggy memory).

In any regard, we were in my parents basement and we wanted it set up like a real boxing ring.

We put up some tables on end and made a square. We had a bell to signal the end of the rounds. We were scheduled to go 15 rounds for the title. We may have even found a belt for the soon to be champ.

And off we went.

I have always had the reach on John and Joe was an excellent trainer. He taught me about the jab and I was able to keep my stronger, smaller brother at bay.

In fact, the crowd (brothers and sisters and cousins) was solidly in my corner by the late rounds and everyone was talking about the fact that John would have to knock me out in the last round in order to win the fight.

I never saw the punch coming.

He hit me on the right temple.

I dropped like a bag of dirt.

I swear to God I can still hear my cousin imploring me to wake up. Joe was over the top of me and he was real concerned.

I know, for a fact, that John had knocked me clean out. I have no idea how long I was unconscious.

What I also didn't the time...was that my cousin Paul had worked it all out in between rounds 14 & 15.

He had placed a wrench in John's glove.

So, the above photo is about right.

Recently I saw my cousin Joe and he remembered it all.

He laughed nervously.

"I was worried he had killed you," he said. "I couldn't imagine going up and telling Uncle John and Aunt Lynda that John had killed you because Paul put a wrench in John's glove. I'm so glad you woke up."

Me too, Joe.

Me too.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Long Cold Winter

I never thought I'd wear long underwear.

A couple of Christmas past my beautiful wife bought me a couple of pair.

I threw them in a drawer, after thinking of my Grandpa Clifford, and forgot about them.

You see, my grandfather worked outside on a railroad. We stopped by one day as he was getting home from work. He was covered in dirt. He used to change in his basement. He had dirty coveralls and his long underwear hanging there.

Last week, I found the long underwear and decided to try it as I was gonna' spend a lot of time out there. The temperatures being single digits.

"I thought of Grandpa," I told my Mom.

"Yeah, poor guy," she said. "He really worked hard."

And I felt warmer out there.

Yet it becomes tiresome, doesn't it?

The driving in the snow.

The freezing.

Blowing in your hands until you get feeling back.

I've been walking very slowly as well. Every year someone falls on the ice. I went down twice last year. I can't afford to fall again. Kathy slipped on the ice and broke a finger this year already.

"How much snow you got?" my out of town buddies will ask.

2-4 inches cripples cities that aren't Buffalo, or Syracuse, or Rochester.

"Just a dusting," I'll say after anything less than half a foot.

And the dogs want no part of even heading out the door.

The big, bad pit bull will weep to come in. Slap-happy Paris runs through the snow and comes in with a face full of it.

And I really hate it, honestly.

I find myself rooting for the calendar to flip.

Bring me March Madness.

Bring me news of Spring Training.

Bring me thoughts of cook-outs and heading out wearing gym shorts.

Anything but long underwear.

But at least it brought memories of another Clifford, right?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Bald Eagles

That's me.

February, 1982.

North Collins versus Eden during my Senior Year of High School. The North Collins Eagles were really struggling and Eden was a good team. We had the huge game before us in the small gym in North Collins.

I was starting the game.

The other starters on that night were Al DeCarlo, Digger Braymiller, Ron Haier, and our superstar Chris Heinold.

The Eden team was stacked. Their best player was an annoying bastard by the name of Chris Miller. He hated all of us. Eden was going to kill us that night...we all knew it.

One of our leaders, Al DeCarlo had an idea.

"You think your Dad would shave our heads?" He asked me at lunch.

"For what?"

"We go to your house...all five starters...shave our heads...and come out of the locker room with ski caps on our heads...we'll get headbands. Eden won't know what hit them. The crowd will go nuts."

Al was a thinker and a dreamer. He always liked to put on a show.

So we headed to my parent's home.

"Get in the chair," my Dad said.

He shaved four heads in about ten minutes. Our big star, Heinold, didn't want anything to do with it.

So there were were at the door of the gym. They announced our names and we headed out.

Al was right. The crowd was sort of stunned. We ran through our warm-ups. One of the guys on Eden called us the "Charlie Browns."

And the game started with a solid run. I hit four long shots. Real bombs. The Eden coach called time-out.

"Who is that?" I heard him scream at his team. "He's shooting from half-court! Guard him! We gonna' let that idiot score fifty!!"

The momentum didn't hold. Even though we had a lead at the half...Eden took control of the game in the 2nd half. I remember a lot about the game though because it was my career high game.

I had scored 12.

I also remember one very painful moment, and perhaps that was when the game fell apart for me. The girl I had a huge crush on, Kellie, was in the stands. We had dated a few times by then. On one trip up the floor I caught her eye.

"You're an idiot," she mouthed.

And she wasn't kidding. She was mad.

I could've gone for 20 that night.

I swear that's true.

But her being mad took away some of the steam.

Here we sit.

32 years later.

Chris Heinold sent me the photo that I used for the blog.

Chris Miller added a couple of snide comments.

"What an idiot," he texted. It brought back what Kellie had said. "You sucked."

Best game of my life.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Pathetic Moron

Playing off Corinne's wonderful descriptive word, "Pathetic" I thought of Justin Bieber.

Enough with this kid, right?

Last week he made news because he was "drag-racing" in Miami. The story says that he was stoned, drunk, and uncooperative with the police.

There are reports that his Dad helped him set up the road block so he could race in his million dollar rental car.


Yet, every single media outlet had the story and evidently a couple of news stations cut off real world news to carry the story.

The pathetic thing, you ask?

It seems to have been a staged event.

Bieber is trying to toughen up his image with the kids who like real-life tough rap guys who talk about their bitches and hoes and their glocks.

You know what he was busted doing in that 35 mph zone?

In that Lamborghini that goes 200 MPH at top speed?

Yeah...50 MPH.

I've had speeding tickets with higher speeds than that.

I thought hard about not contributing to his story by wasting a blog on him, but the smiling photo above sort of pissed me off.

Some of his fans took to the streets cheering for him.

Little girls all over the land were clamoring for him to say something. They just wanted Bieber to be all right!

Pick up your paper this morning.

I bet you'll see a number of DWI arrests. Perhaps a hit and run. A few fatal accidents related to drunk driving. And this pathetic wimp is potentially staging events to show how cool he is...and even if he isn't...he's driving stoned and after drinking...and then smiling about it?

I imagine the cop who busted him really had to control the impulse to taze the bastard...and his idiot father.

Not to mention that whatever he sing sucks.

He sounds like a 12-year-old girl.

So, I wasted a blog on him.

But I feel better now.

He's pathetic.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Bernie & Gloria

I stopped at 7/11 the other morning for a coffee and when I saw the logo for the store on the coffee cup my mind drifted back in time...

...we were living in Largo, Florida.

Six kids in a rented house on a pond where we'd go fishing every day. It was 1974 and we were a handful for sure.

Mom and Dad went out one night and our babysitters were a black couple...Bernie and Gloria.

Bernie worked with Dad on the construction site and Gloria was his girlfriend.

As I looked at the 7/11 logo I thought of that evening.

Bernie had a real infectious laugh. I remember that.

I also remember thinking that black people were really cool.

The reason why I remember Bernie's laugh is because Corinne had yelled at one of us...she had called us 'pathetic.'

Bernie loved the word.

(It is a good word when used as a description).

Bernie kept making Corinne say it over and over.

And then there was the trip down the road to the 7/11 store.

It's all so vivid in my mind...40 years later...Bernie said we could all get something.

I bought baseball cards (of course). Everyone else grabbed candy.

Bernie paid the tab.

And then we all headed back to the house and handled our loot. I remember one particular card I got in the pack that caused Bernie to boom with laughter again.

"Who's this guy?" He asked as he held the card up for my inspection.

"Rico Petrocelli," I said...pronouncing the Red Sox 3rd baseman's name perfectly.

Bernie couldn't get over the fact that I could say the name.

For the next couple of hours we traded off P words in an attempt to get Bernie to laugh.

Corinne would say, 'Pathetic'.

I would follow with 'Petrocelli.'

It's amazing to me.

Bernie and Gloria must be about 70 years old now.

I wonder how their lives played out.

Just remembering a trip to 7/11.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Random Thoughts - Thanks for the Contribution Diane!


As I was lying around, pondering the problems of the world,

I realized that at my age I don't really give a rat's ass anymore.

..If walking is good for your health, the postman would be immortal.

.. A whale swims all day, only eats fish, drinks water, but is still fat.

.. A rabbit runs and hops and only lives 15 years, while
.. A tortoise doesn't run and does mostly nothing, yet it lives for 150 years.

And you tell me to exercise?? I don't think so.

Just grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked,

the good fortune to remember the ones I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference.

Now that I'm older here's what I've discovered:

1. I started out with nothing, and I still have most of it.

2. My wild oats are mostly enjoyed with prunes and all-bran.

3. I finally got my head together, and now my body is falling apart.

4. Funny, I don't remember being absent-minded.

5. Funny, I don't remember being absent-minded.

6. If all is not lost, then where the heck is it?

7. It was a whole lot easier to get older, than to get wiser.

8. Some days, you're the top dog, some days you're the hydrant.

9. I wish the buck really did stop here, I sure could use a few of them.

10. Kids in the back seat cause accidents.

11. Accidents in the back seat cause kids.

12. It's hard to make a comeback when you haven't been anywhere.

13. The world only beats a path to your door when you're in the bathroom.

14. If God wanted me to touch my toes, he'd have put them on my knees.

15. When I'm finally holding all the right cards, everyone wants to play chess.

16. It's not hard to meet expenses . . .they're everywhere.

17. The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth.

18. These days, I spend a lot of time thinking about the hereafter .. . .
I go somewhere to get something, and then wonder what I'm "here after".

19. Funny, I don't remember being absent-minded.


Friday, January 24, 2014

Richard Sherman

So, it's time to weigh in on Seattle Seahawks Cornerback Richard Sherman.

Evidently he's the best.

So he says.

Like a lot of other people I watched him go off on his opponent after he knocked a ball away to save the game on Sunday.

The reporter, Erin Andrews, looked thoroughly disgusted with him as he shouted in her ear that he's the greatest and that his opponent was "sorry."

(She's a good-looking girl, by the way, but definitely no Kathy Fazzolari)

Sherman later cleared it up by saying the receiver is "mediocre" and when you come at the "best" with a "mediocre" player...that's what you get.

Of course I have a problem with him. At first glance I thought he was am uneducated gang member.

Was I prejudging him?

Well, no...that's what he put forth. That's what he was acting like.

Yet what surprised me about it was all the people who had his back in the days that followed. Turns out he's a pretty good story.

He rocketed out of poverty and the streets of Compton. He's an intelligent guy. He finished way up there in his high school class rankings. He went to Stanford and also did well. He makes a lot of money and is supposedly one of the he told us.

But does that mean he gets to denigrate his opponent?

Yet those that defend him say that he was emotional and just vocalized that emotion immediately after making the big play.

He also did it an hour later at the podium. So that kind of ruins that argument.

There are others who say his move is calculated so that everyone talks about him. He's right on that account...

...everyone has an opinion.

And here's mine.

He's everything wrong with professional sports.

A big-mouth, arrogant, disrespectful, sorry excuse of a performer.

He should be suspended for patting the guy on the rear and doing the choke symbol.

He should publicly apologize for acting like a spoiled rotten baby.

Evidently he apologized to his team for taking away some of their thunder of winning.

(If you ask me he should also thank the refs).

Yet, in that very game one of his opponents had his leg shattered.

A number of others left the field with possible head trauma.

Everyone was playing hard.

And Richard Sherman shat all over all of it proclaiming he's the best.

Maybe he is the best pass-slapper-down in all the universe.

But he's also a clown.

And he's the reason I'm hoping Denver wins...and that the winning touchdown is thrown right at him...and he screws it up.

And then I hope someone pats him on the rump.

And shows him the choke sign.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Skip This One Pops - Football Bashing Part 544

Like millions of others I watched the football games over the weekend.

I didn't really care who won, but I had picked the Super Bowl participants in my blog as San Francisco over Denver so I was getting ready to really hammer people if both of the teams I picked made it.

But I don't like to brag about things I get it didn't really matter.

I just wanted to see good games.

And for the most part, I was doing okay.

One pal texted me in the 2nd quarter of the 49ers-Seahawks Game:

Him: Good game, right?

Me: The refs will ruin it.

And I don't say that lightly.

This is a sport with billions and billions of dollars and the refs are incompetent. They have review after review after review...and they still blow three calls a week.

Now I've also been watching the sport for 30 years. I know some of the rules. I used to know others, but they changed them.

When a ball hits the ground it seems like there are 11 rules on whether or not it's a fumble.


The 49ers punter went back to kick the ball away. His plant foot - the one he has to keep on the ground as he lifts the other one - is off-limits to defenders. If that foot is hit...even accidentally...there is a 15-yard penalty assessed to the team who hits said leg.

Easy enough.

Except the penalty assessed was a 5-yard penalty.

Me: That's it. I'm done.

The kids were a bit alarmed.

Sam: The ref made a mistake.

But let's look at it another way.

Every single game appears orchestrated to me. Back about 20 years ago there was a problem with people tuning out the Super Bowl because there were some real ass-whippings.

There aren't any blow-outs anymore.

Every game comes down to a point-spread drive.

Or a over/under drive.

The world is betting billions of dollars on the outcome of each game...and the refs issue an apology every week because they didn't know the rules of the game they are trying to ref?

Later in the game one player had the ball in his arms as he hit the ground. The refs claimed that the other team had recovered the fumble. There were half a dozen refs there looking at it. The play was deemed as not being subject to review.

It's an arrogant league.

The former players are walking around with mush brains.

The current players rape and pillage and murder and drunk drive.

They black-out games in taxpayer paid for stadiums.

They do a breast cancer drive and keep 98% of the money.

Hell, you can't even write the words Super Bowl without it being automatically capitalized.

And the games just appear to be fake.

So, if you read this far, Pops...I'm sorry...

They're pulling the wool over your eyes.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


What do you think of when you consider how America was back in the 1940's and 1950's?

I was born in the 60's and grew up in the 70's.

I heard about those old days.

This is how I picture it:

Americans were hard-working, morally centered, patriotic, and compassionate people.

The government cared for us.

We cared for one another.

The corporations treated their workers fairly...and we had a great grasp on the moral center.

Maybe I'm wrong in my assessment.

Perhaps it was as cut-throat and difficult back then, but I was having a conversation the other night about the state of the country.

A pointless, gripe session about how we are all lost.

But it got me thinking.

What do we miss the most?

Just for fun I often go on the social media comment sections whenever there is a big news story.

You know what is really gone?

"I got mine, who gives a shit about you," one of the guys said when asked to assess the world now.


The compassion is gone.

"People are going to die anyway," someone wrote on a message board after one of the national shootings.

"We need to take them all to an island and wait for their species to die out," another person wrote about the gays.

"Let them get off their asses and become CEO," someone wrote about raising the minimum wage.

"We need to blow that country off the map," was the assessment of a political situation.

It most likely wasn't idyllic in the 50's, but didn't we care about one another a little more?

Perhaps it's because we all have a voice and our own agenda's now...but is our personal agenda more important than the greater good?

I read a note a few weeks back:

In 1970, the CEO of the average company made 30 times more than his average worker. In 2013, the average CEO made 1,040 times more than his average worker.

I don't have an answer for any of it. I am blessed to work for a good company. There are some left. There has to be.

And I know I'm on the wrong side of a lot of issues...according to half the people...but I certainly believe that we care a lot less about our fellow man.

I vote for compassion for the future.

"It's true," my buddy said. "No one gives a flying shit for anyone else anymore."

Unfortunately, he might be absolutely correct.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Unrequited Love

So, Bruce made fun of Governor Christie of New Jersey on a recent Jimmy Fallon Show.

It was kinda' funny, actually, but it didn't go over so well with the gargantuan governor.

I don't live in New Jersey so I don't have a lot to say about Governor Christie in regard to his policies and procedures. I thought he was tremendously human during the hurricane strike and commended his courage for reaching across party lines.

That should be done more.

Yet the allegations against his office are alarming.

Would someone manufacture a traffic jam to get back at a political rival?

Did some of that hurricane relief money get held for ransom?

As with all things political there are two sides to all issues and both sides are developed in deep hatred. I both believe and not believe the allegations.

I pray to God they aren't true...but money and ego often rule the day.

What I want to speak of is the lack of true love on one side of the Springsteen-Christie relationship.

Bruce is the favorite son of New Jersey. He carries a lot of weight throughout. I've seen Bruce play in New Jersey a couple of times. The ticket is hard to come by. The love is true.

Even Chris Christie has felt it. There are reports that he's seen Bruce play live over a hundred times. There's even footage of both of them being on a stage and Christie following Bruce around in an effort to say 'Hello', and Bruce absolutely ignoring him.

And there are reasons.

Bruce is a liberal Democrat. He makes no secrets about that. He came from a dirt-poor background and he sings about rights of all, gay, poor.

Yeah...he's a rich man now...but he certainly still feels as if he's a poor man in rich man's clothes. He has not abandoned what he believes. He's stood up and shouted it as well, and it may have lost him a lot of fans who think he's pretending to be compassionate.

But not Chris Christie.

In interviews Christie spoke of his love of Bruce's standing up for the not so fortunate. When Bruce finally hugged Christie after the hurricane hit, and stood-side-by-side with appeared all was forgiven.

But evidently the bridge problem struck the rock star the wrong way.

At least that's how it seems.

The song was obviously a joke. I'm sure most of it was put together by Jimmy Fallon, but Bruce participated...and that had to hurt his huge fan.

When I thought about the bridge flap I considered being on a job in California.

The toilets for the 47-story hotel had been delivered early to the project. One of the superintendents got pissed off. He ordered all of the toilets moved...across the street...and hidden up on the 3rd floor of an abandoned building.

So, on a Sunday...4 laborers reported to work and started carrying the toilets from the lobby, across the street, up the stairs and out of sight.

I can't even tell you how many toilets were moved that day.

I can tell you they were heavy after awhile.

I can also tell you we were very annoyed with all of it. We were getting paid double-time to do something that was absolutely ridiculous.

We were pawns in a fight between the big shots.

And do you know what happened on Monday?

Yeah...there was a huge fight. They almost shut the job down completely.

But then there was an agreement.

And on Tuesday guess what the labor crew did?

Yep...we carried all the toilets back down the stairs and put them in their original spots.

Perhaps that's what it was all about.

I just wonder how it will play out now.

Will Christie speak out about Bruce?

Will there be a public apology?

Were the travelers really just pawns in all of it?

The only thing I truly got out of it is that Jimmy Fallon is a funny dude, and I need to watch that show more often.

Monday, January 20, 2014

This Is Your Sword

Given yesterday's post about the future of the kids. This is a brilliant song written by Springsteen. Every single parent should read this and apply it to the lives of their kids. I know a lot of people who really feel it. I even read the words to Jake and said, "As a Dad, some day, you'll know."

This Is Your Sword - Bruce Springsteen off High Hopes Record (Buy it!)

Now brothers and sisters listen to me
These are the few things that I leave to thee
The sword of our fathers with lessons hard taught
The shield strong and sturdy from battles well fought

Well this is your sword, this is your shield
This is the power of love revealed
Carry them with you wherever you go
And give all the love that you have in your soul

At times there are dark, dark must cover the earth
This world's filled with the beauty of God's work
Hold tight to your brawn, stay righteous, stay strong
When the days of miracles will come along

Now this is your sword, this is your shield
This is the power of love revealed
Carry it with you wherever you go
And give all the love that you have in your soul

In the days of despair you can grow hard
'Til you close your mind and empty your heart
If you find yourself staring in the abyss
Hold tight to your loved ones and remember this

This shield will protect your secret heart
The sword will defend from what comes in the dark
Should you grow weary on the battle field
Well do not despair, our love is real

This is your sword, this is your shield
This is the power of love revealed
Carry it with you wherever you go
And give all the love that you have in your soul
And give all the love that you have in your soul

Hey! Hey!

Read more: Bruce Springsteen - This Is Your Sword Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Future Is Ours To See

It's an often absurd question for a kid.

"What do you want to be when you grow up?"

And there's an awkward balance, as a parent, as you try and nudge your child down a certain path. In this day and age it is truly mind-boggling as the costs of college are through the roof, and there are no guarantees. I do remember one of my college professors saying:

"The work you put in will be what you eventually take out."

And that was great advice, but it took a long time to decide where to go and who to believe.

I think that's fair for everyone and the illusions often give way to a life of grinding your way.

We have one boy in college. He seems to be on a focused path and it'll likely work for him. He works hard.

As long as he doesn't have to get his hands dirty.

Coming down the line is Jake and he has a pat answer for his future.

"I can cook meth in an RV with my science teacher."

He certainly appears drawn to entertainment and is a king of social media, but he just wants to wait it all out.

"I'm enjoying my childhood."

(That was a leftover line from Matt's first 18 years of leisure).

And that's the way it certainly should be. There's a lot of time to NOT enjoy certain things.


He's still locked in on the NBA career. The Chicago Bulls are recruiting him now, in secret, so as to not tip off the other teams.

Yet there is certainly angst as the parent. In the end, you just want joy for the kids, right? My wife is intent on helping them with every single detail until their 50th birthday.

Yet, as I told Jake the other day, the next ten years sets up the following forty or so.

"A lot of people make early mistakes that are hard to come back from," I said. "You just have to kind of lay low and figure it all out."

He was having none of it.

"Even guys who want to cook blue meth with their science teachers make mistakes at this age?"

He dialed up a You Tube video of a hockey goal from the night before.

We watched Ovechkin rifle a shot from an impossible angle to beat the goalie.

That was the end of the serious talk of the future.

As it should be.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

...The Professor and Mary Ann...Here on Gilligan's Island

If you grew up in the 1970's you couldn't get away from Gilligan's Island.

First off, there weren't that many shows on television. We'd run home to catch cartoons or even Commander Tom here in Buffalo.

(It was the weatherman doing a puppet show).

So when we had the chance to see a real show...we were excited.

Everyone loved Gilligan. To a young kid, he was just plain hysterical...and Ginger was hot...but Mary Ann was hotter.

The Professor?

Well, we all knew he was brilliant.

How he wasn't smart enough to get them off the island was sort of lost in the translation. I actually remember rooting for their plots to fail so they couldn't get away.

And now the Professor is dead.

Who's left?

Ginger and Mary Ann, right?

Well, The Professor's death brings to mind the moment when I shook his hand. He wasn't thrilled with the fact that he was shaking mine.

My college buddy bought us tickets to a cruise around the Baltimore Harbor. The boat floated around and we helped ourselves to an open bar. The fact that we had been out of college for five years hadn't changed much...we weren't any smarter.

Open bar still meant that we got shit-faced.

So we proceeded to do just that. It was a beautiful sunny day and we hung out on the big boat, drinking, talking, laughing, drinking and drinking. They might have been serving food, but we just kept clanking beer bottles saying:

"There's a pork chop in every bottle!"

No way we were going to eat a big meal and waste that open bar.

After a couple of hours there was a crackle from the overhead speaker and a booming voice asked us to look over the side of the boat.

I kid you not...

...arriving in another smaller boat were The Professor, Mary Ann and Gilligan.

They were hoisted on-board and we were all lined up for a chance to meet them. I believe we all paid a small fee for the chance to shake their hand and get an autograph.

Fluffy and I ran to the line...beers in tow...and when we finally got before the trio we put on a real show.

Fluff asked Mary Ann to marry him.

We chided The Professor for not being able to build a raft.

Gilligan was in his hat, but he seemed to have little interest in my continued chanting of his name.

"Who am I signing this too?" He asked.

"Cliff Fazzolari!" I said proudly.

"Can you spell that?"

"C-L-I-F-F," I said.

Gilligan put the pen down.

"I can spell 'Cliff'," he said.

"Hey! Wait!!" I said. "Make it out to my boss!"

"Who's your boss?" Gilligan asked.

"Kevin O'Neill," I said.

"Spell it?"


Gilligan motioned for the security guard.

"Ah, come on," I slurred. "I'm just messing with you, Gilligan."

"Gilligan was my character. I'm Bob Denver."

"Spell that," I said.

The security guard had both Fluff (who wouldn't leave Mary Ann alone) and me. He escorted us out of the line. I tried to apologize to BOB DENVER, but he wouldn't have any of it. Yet the one thing he did do was sign the picture for my boss. The security guard handed it to me as I headed back to the bar...which was now closed for two of the ship mates.

I couldn't wait to get to work the next morning.

The photo of the crew was signed...

"To Kevin O'Neal...from your favorite castaway! Bob Denver."

I handed it to my boss...a 6'4" burly ironworker foreman.

"He spelled it wrong. Gilligan is an idiot."

Kevin ripped the picture in half and threw it on the floor of the job trailer.

And that was my brush with greatness.

Mary Ann still looked good back in 1991...and the professor seemed like a good man.

Bob Denver, on the other hand...

...just didn't much care for me.

Friday, January 17, 2014


So, my feet are swollen.

The doc says that it's part of the trauma from the operation and will take quite some time to abate, but that's not the real story.

My beautiful wife wanted to check things out. She is a highly trained professional, of course.

I'll set the scene.

Melky and I were in bed for the night when the examination was to take place. Kathy came by and said:

"Let's see the foot."

I showed it to her and she reached to check the swelling.

Melky lunged at her.

I'm sure that Melky wouldn't have bit her, but you never know. Kathy jumped back and cursed out the dog.

"You can't touch me," I said. "Melky loves me way more than anyone else ever has."

And it's true, and our love is mutual.

So, it's established that I sing songs to the dog. We often discuss our upcoming day and the fact that we need to keep other animals off our street.

Yet what came under direct fire was my nickname for the dog.

We were heading off to bed the other night.

"Come on, Nate," I said.

Here's my reasoning for calling a dog named Melky 'Nate.'

I often sing Terminator

Follow that?

Nator has been shortened to Nate.

Therefore, I often call Melky, Nate.

Well, the kids heard me say 'Nate.'

They went into a comedy routine about this and it had my wife bent over in near tears.

"How does a dog named after Melky Cabrera become Nate? Do you think the baseball player's family and friends call him Nate?"

"What makes a dog a Melkynator?"

And I once had referred to Melky as a handsome dog.

Melky is female.

"There aren't handsome women," my wife inaccurately argued.

I told her that handsome definitely is used as an adjective for a woman.

"But she's a dog!"

"Handsome, handsome Nate! Do you realize how sick you are?"

So, I tried it...just now...I called Melky 'Nate' with no one else around.

Melky was sleeping on her electric blanket as I did so.

"You ready to eat, Handsome Nate?" I asked.

Melky jumped up.

I know where it all came mother has always had nicknames for her dogs...growing up Frankie had about 30 did Ricky I and Ricky II and Ricky do Jeter, Marley and Chico now.

Am I insane?

Nate doesn't think so.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

No Texting Allowed

The murder of the young father in the Tampa movie theater has set a lot of people off.

Including me.

I'm not supposed to be talking about guns because every time I do I get attacked by the people who think it's just the bad people who shoot people.

Another former responsible gun owner snaps and becomes a non-responsible gun owner.

The victim is another guy who didn't understand that he is living in the Old West.

Of course, the lawyer for this retired cop is saying that his poor client felt as if he were being attacked because the guy who was texting stood up quickly and fired his popcorn at the gun owner.

Watch the son-of-a-bitch get off on the old stand your ground deal.

It's certainly possible, right, Zimmerman?

Maybe that's the deal.

Perhaps we all need guns.

I should head off somewhere and get a half-dozen semi-automatics so that I can go to the mall, or the kids can go to school, or perhaps we can all head to a movie.

Are you freaking kidding me?

Is that the world we are going to choose to live in?

Did you see the photo of the family?

A husband, a wife and a little girl.

The husband is texting in a theater before the start of the movie. He's checking times at the day care.

I read a Facebook loop on it.

A few of the gun owners were saying, get this:



And the penalty for that is death?

I don't give a crap if he was standing up mooning the screen during the final scene of the movie.

Look at his kid.

Look at his wife.

Daddy isn't coming home anymore because some moron with a gun felt like his life was in danger because he was in an argument?

There's no respect for human life anymore.

Don't sell us 2nd amendment rights.

Just tell us that:

We don't care if we take your life.

We're responsible gun owners and we have the right to be...

...until we aren't responsible anymore.

Just hope you ain't in the way.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Sexually Harass Much?

New York State Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak resigned his seat this weekend after pressure in regard to the sexual harassment claims levied by a number of people who worked with him on a daily basis.

Isn't that a kick in the nuts?

And a lot of time when you hear about these types of stories you might be tempted to think:

"Geez, he was just joking around."

Yet there certainly is a fine line to dance across, and when you're consistently stepping back and forth across that line than you probably need not be in a place of position over those you are guiding.


Many of the women making the claims are people who were working directly for the guy. They claim to have been the subject of lewd advances, difficult choices and juvenile comments.

Don't these politicians have something to do during the day other than cause problems?

It's weird, but most people don't have time for such nonsense during the course of their work days. People in the trenches who are actually doing work don't have all day to work up plans to abuse their staff.

I am usually doing all sorts of things on a typical work day with my mind on just finishing things up in time so I can watch Judge Judy without aggravation.

I know that my beautiful wife has trouble just getting her ten-minute break in every day.

Yet this joker can walk around the office sticking his finger in the butts of his unsuspecting staff?

All right, maybe he didn't do that, but it sounds like that, right?

And I'm not quite sure what an assemblyman is supposed to do, but it certainly sounds like fun.

Fancy restaurants, saunas, jacuzzi baths.

Didn't he have a bill to not read?

Weren't there taxes that needed to be raised on the working slobs who get up, battle through...

...and try to just get a ten-minute break.

Good luck, dude.

I'm sure the wife and kids are going to grow weary listening to your repeated denials and the people who were out to get you.

Wal-Mart is hiring.

Perhaps you should've voted for that minimum wage increase.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Whyyyyy!!!!!! Whyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!

It's been twenty years since a group of thugs sanctioned by Tonya Harding (allegedly) bashed my sweetheart, Nancy Kerrigan with a lead pipe, in an effort to try and get her out of the Olympics.

First off:

Where does the time go?

I recall so much about that time in my life.

I was living alone. I was spending a lot of time playing video games, drinking beer, playing softball, golfing, and barely paying my rent.

I had just met my future wife. We were spending time going to lunch and drinking beer.

I was young and strong and I most assuredly wasn't watching figure skating.

I'm not sure why the story caught so much of my attention.

Perhaps it was the cries of the attractive Nancy that tugged at my heart.

Whhhhyyyyy? Whhhhyyyyy?

And then Nancy was dragged in front of the cameras and I sort of liked that she was shy and scared and reluctant to get involved.

I was angry with Tonya that lousy piece of trash!

Nancy would come back!!

Nancy would skate for the gold!!

I even started watching the stupid sport trying to figure out the subtle differences. I was a judge of the beauty of it all.

Except I didn't know what the hell I was looking at. I do remember my brother, Jeff, coming over as I watched one event:

"This would be way better if they did it without underpants."

On the day when the Olympics were held I was working hard. The event was over, but I had secretly taped it and was going back to see if Nancy got the gold. I stayed clear of all radios and in a construction environment it was doubtful that talk of it would come up.

Except my buddy, Dan, who was a truck driver for the organization knew of my love for Nancy.

"Your girlfriend got the silver!" He yelled to me as he pulled the truck out of the yard.

I was devastated.

Later when I watched it I was even more devastated.

When Nancy married her agent the devastation was colossal.

By then, though, I grew closer to my then beautiful and now even more beautiful wife.

My love for Nancy soon faded.

I do have a half-dozen autographs that she signed for me.

And I've never watched figure-skating again.

Of course...

...if they ever go back to whacking one another with pipes, I might watch...

...or if the no undies idea takes hold...

Monday, January 13, 2014

Time Is An Illusion

The one lyric that captured me off the new Bruce record is trapped in the middle of the song: Hunter of Invisible Game.

Strength is vanity
Time is illusion
I feel you breathing
the rest is confusion.

(First off...14 words...just brilliant).

Secondly, I got stuck on the 'Time is An Illusion' sentiment.

A baseball writer posted a YouTube video of a play in the 1974 World Series. It was a throw to the plate by Dodger right-fielder Joe Ferguson. The throw came after Ferguson jumped in front of center-fielder Jimmy Wynn to make the catch. Ferguson then gunned out the runner with a perfect strike that hit the catcher's glove dead center.

I remembered every second of it as if it happened last night.

It had been Reggie at the plate and Bando trying to score from third. I knew it was Wynn that Ferguson cut in front of. I recalled that Ferguson was a catcher-turned-outfielder. The throw spanned a few hundred feet on the fly and landed in the center of Steve Yeager's glove. The Dodgers won the game (much to our dismay) but the A's had won the series.

Dad was sitting beside me when that throw made it's way across the diamond. Like I said, we had been really aggravated, but I remember the words said:

"It's like he shot it out of a gun."

And time is an illusion.

Joe Ferguson is a 70-year old man now.

I'm nearly 50.

Dad's voice still ringing in my ear, across all sorts of dimensions, I suppose.

I brought the play up and showed it to my boys.

They hooted and hollered about the strike thrown by a man who most likely can't lift his arm to scratch his ear, but probably dwells on the memory.

As if it had happened just yesterday...

...instead of 40 years ago.

And this is the place where I should be posting that video of that tremendous play, but look it up yourself.

39 years and 2 months ago.

468 months ago.

2,028 weeks ago.

14,240 days ago.

As if that matters.

Sunday, January 12, 2014


I went back to work and perhaps it didn't go quite as smoothly as I might have liked. By Friday afternoon it was pretty difficult to stand up.

Nothing new there.

Gonna' take time.

Yet on Saturday morning I decided to do the old ice and heat routine.

And I got an early text about my buddy Gag's progress in the marathon in support of research for a cure...a run for our sons program at Epcot Center in Florida. It's a battle against M.D. and while I should have been running...

After I tell him that he's crazy for running such distances at our age, Gag always tells me that he runs for those that can't...

I thought of that as I was packed in ice.

I looked at the happy faces all around as he took a break during the run.

Isn't that awesome?

Life itself is filled with heartache and despair.

There's nothing better than turning it around.

Through hard work.

Through inspiration and faith and belief.

And love.

So proud of all of them.

I really enjoy seeing the smiles on the faces of the kids who are gathered.

Where is the Today Show and Good Morning America?

Chasing Chris Christie?

Try chasing the marathon runners!

Great job to all!!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Not Great Enough

So the Bruce album is out on Tuesday and it has been leaked already. I've heard a bunch of the songs off the record and I'm happy with them.

It's more Bruce music.

What could be bad?

Yet there are critics out there who are saying that it's not great enough.

Bruce's records are always ambitious projects that spawn a number of hits.

This one might not do that.

Will he release another record before the end of 2014.

People, people, people.

The man is 64 years old.

He's the only rock and roll guy doing anything!

I have a buddy who is a Led Zeppelin fan.

They last made a song in about 1978.

Before this guy was born.

Then there are the Beatles fans...

...and while McCartney is still writing songs...

...they broke up in 1970.

The Stones haven't made a record in ten years. They keep re-issuing the same songs in a different package.

So Bruce has written only five records in the last five years. He's only played a couple thousand three and a half hour concerts since then.

Lazy bastard!

The first song off the record is High Hopes.

It's a great song.

It's better than any rock song recorded since...

...the last Bruce record.

We'll take what we can get here in Bruce-land.

Just because he performs like a jukebox when we see him doesn't mean he can write 100 songs every year.

But when you raise the bar that high, people will question the work ethic I suppose.

Can't wait until Tuesday!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Rodman & Pot and Iraq & Freaking Snow!

What a mess I got into with my damn dogs.

Early in the week it was all about not being able to move from the house, trying to clear snow without becoming an instant snowman and hoping that whoever left the house returned safely...even if they were looking for the mail.

The dogs didn't want to make the trip to pee, but damn, they wanted their ride in the car.

"We can't go! There's a travel ban!!" I said.

No comprehension.

"We have to stay! Tomorrow!" I tried.

Those are all key words, but they let me know that they were pissed.

It took 3 pig ears to calm them down, but two hours later they were asking again.

Dopey bastards.

Speaking of dopey bastards I tried to decipher the press conference with Dennis Rodman as he talked about his midget best buddy in North Korea.

What is wrong with that dude?

What does he hope to accomplish?

World peace??

Speaking of world peace...pot is now legal for recreational use in a few states.

"What do you think of that?" My beautiful wife asked.

"They're smoking it anyway."

"You think more people will smoke it now that it's legal?"

"I might," I said. "If it'll get me out of this conversation."

People are gonna' do it.

And isn't it sad that Iraq has been toppled again. All that money, those lost lives.

The world is going to the dogs.

Who want a freaking ride!


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Back To Work

My first day back to work caused me to set the alarm for 5:00 as I had a 6:30 a.m. meeting scheduled.

I was up an hour before the alarm.

Which gave me time to think.

I've always enjoyed going to work.

It's an honor to be gainfully employed and I've never once taken it for granted. However the time off to try and recover was good for one thing:

It calmed me down a little and made me appreciate the fact that I could get back out there.

So what happens?

It's freaking zero degrees out and they're calling for Buffalo to become the North Pole by 11 a.m.!

The first job-site was before me. I dressed in layers and even found my gloves. I parked the car as close as I could get to the project and opened the side door.

It closed in on me in a mad rush of the heavy winds. I laughed.

"Guess I'll have to hold it open."

I held it open and placed my bad leg, which is getting better each day, on the ground...the parking lot was an ice rink.

"Oh snap!"

I stuttered my steps through the short walk to the building and moved around the site carefully. Very carefully.

Like Tim Conway used to walk on the Carol Burnett Show.

The guys working outside in the bitter cold were all glad to see me back out there with them. I exchanged a few pleasantries and despite the fact that I was pulling Arctic air into my lungs and was walking like a newborn baby I was having the time of my life.

On Sunday night my beautiful wife had scolded me:

"What are you going to do if there's a ladder in front of you?"

I shrugged.

"You're not to climb it!" She said.

"Yes dear."

Yet I had hand-picked my sites. I knew which ones didn't send me to the very high places.

Five hours after leaving the house I was back home to write reports. There was more to be done, of course, but I was going to be smart, and besides the snow was coming.

I made it to the computer feeling great about my return to work.

I had been sensible.

Then the phone rang.

"OSHA's here!" The guy said into my ear.

I got back into the car and made the drive and walked the one extra job that I didn't really need.

I was limping a little when I got home again.

Yet I still hadn't climbed a ladder.

And I was still really glad I had a job to go to.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Blizzard of Thoughts

Just the word brings back so much in the way of remembering. The Blizzard of '77 was epic...and despite the horror of it for the adults it was a lot of fun for a 12-year-old kid.

Two weeks off from school.

Monopoly games with the entire family.

Street hockey in the blowing and drifting cold.

When they started talking about the 'polar vortex' over the weekend it brought a feeling with it.

They weren't kidding.

And here in Western New York if all the conditions line up just right...we're at the mercy of old man winter.

As the travel bans started coming in, and after Kathy stumbled through the door after a nearly two hour 15-mile trip home, we were safe.

I started thinking about the kids most of all and what they'd remember of being locked in the house.

On Monday night, just before midnight, I tried looking out my bedroom window and I thought of my Dad and a conversation we had long ago.

Me: It must be terrible to freeze to death.

Dad: Why do you think like that?

Me: Would you rather freeze to death or burn to death?

Dad: Neither, you stupid bastard.

And we had both laughed.

We shared so many of those types of moments through the years. We were both so consistent in our thoughts. We traded arguments and philosophies and it has frequently occurred to me that he was often on the other side of the argument.

I suspect he was doing that on purpose.

As I recalled that single conversation I saw him in all his glory. Tall and proud and sarcastic and loving and jovial.

"You and Sam have the same discussions almost word for word," My beautiful wife said.

Here I was thinking about Dad and me, but she was right.

The same discussion now, started by Sam (or any of my boys) would probably go the same way.

And we would also laugh.

On Tuesday morning Matt finally got out of bed.

I summoned Sam.

"Tell Matt I need the newspaper and a can of chew," I said.

Sam was happy to deliver the news, knowing that I didn't really want Matt to go but that he'd worry about heading out.

Then I forgot about it.

A half an hour later I passed Matt in the hall. He was dressed for the North Pole.

"What're you doing?" I asked.

"Going to the store," he said.

"There's a travel ban," I answered.

"You don't really want the paper and chew?"

"As fun as it would be to see you try, I was joking."

"It took me 20 minutes to get dressed! Sam! I'm gonna' kill you!!"

And then it sort of hit me.

Perhaps 36 or so years from now one of them will be looking out the window at a coming storm.

And they'll think of their old man.

And smile.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Not Gonna' Talk About It

So I resolve not to get into any discussions this year about:

1). Guns - If all those children getting slaughtered in Connecticut can't get the gun laws changed than me arguing with Joe-Six-Shooter isn't gonna' do it either. Besides I love the ignorance of it all especially when someone who can't spell 'constitution' beats me over the head with it...but I'm not being combative.

You can see that there's no point in any of it, right?

2). Obama - - Or any other political leader for that matter. Again, it's a pointless debate and once it devolves into the name-calling based on heritage it really gets depressing.

People always say that you shouldn't bring up politics or religion which takes me to point number 3.

3). Gay Marriage - Why debate this issue either? As I've mentioned countless times if gay marriage is against your religious principles then don't get gay married.

What in the world does it matter if I'm for it or against it.

4). The legalization of marijuana - what the hell? The more the merrier, huh? Someone posted on Facebook the other day (Facebook is where all the brilliant discussions take place) about what a travesty it is that smoking pot is now legal in Colorado. It was likened to the beginning of the end. From my observation of pot smokers I don't think it's much to worry about...they just all curl up and zone the hell out, don't they? My substance abusing days (mostly beer) are behind me anyways. I don't wanna' see my kids smoking crack legally someday, but hopefully I teach them enough to stay clear-headed most of the time. Besides people would spin around on their front lawns to get dizzy if you took everything away anyway.

They were smoking it before anyway!

5). Abortion - I'm always amazed by the people standing in front of the doctor's office with signs. God Bless 'em for standing up for their convictions...but does that solve anything either? The abortion issue has been debated for years and years and the only way the laws will be changed is if there is a law passed abolishing it.

I suppose that the guy with the sign is trying to change one mind, but man, it's hard to get people to do what you want them to do.

6). Robinson Cano - He's a dope.

7). The Iraq War - I see that there is horrible unrest in Iraq and that Al-Qaeda has a stronghold there. Wasn't that worth it? But you can't undo it, right? It's a dark period that doesn't need me to revisit it.

Good luck to those people...let's fix home.

8). The Bills and Sabres Poor Play - just kidding!

I enjoy that too much.

So...there you have it.

I'm sure I'll break my vow when some lunatic runs into a church, a library, a museum, a mall, a movie theater, or a place of business with a machine gun, but for mow I promise to shut-up about it.

'Cause what good does all the belly-aching really do?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Anyone Tell You It's Cold Out There?

I really enjoy short conversations with people I see every day.

The woman who works the counter at the local convenience store is one such friend. When I'm working regularly...which is hopefully starting up again...she can set her watch by my appearance to buy the newspaper.

We trade kind words each day.

"You're walking better."

"How's your arthritis?"

She has grandchildren that she adores. We talk about recipes now and again. You know, just short words. I try and make her laugh every once in awhile.

On Friday I stopped in for the paper.

"Has anyone mentioned that it's cold?" I asked.

I was quite sure that everyone had mentioned it.

She sighed.

"Everyone is bitching to me," she said. "Like I control the thermostat."

And I laughed because I had said it just for that simple fact.

"Is that what you hate most about the job?" I asked.

She pointed to the lottery ticket display beside her.

"That's what I hate the most," she said. "People come in here and plop down at the counter and play. I hear why they have a number system and how close they came to winning the day before. They cry to me that they shouldn't be playing, and if one more person tells me that you have to be 'in it to win it'!"

A middle-aged guy entered the store so I pushed my dollar ahead and stepped aside. We exchanged 'Have a nice weekends' and then the guy stepped up.

"Can you turn the heat up a little?" The guy asked. "It's frigid out there."

He too had the paper.

"Just the paper?" My friend asked.

I was just about out the door when the guy answered.

"I need a few lottery tickets," he said. "A dollar and a dream."

I could almost hear the rage.

I held the door open for another lady stepping through.

"It's freezing!" she said as she got near me.

"Tell her," I said, pointing over my shoulder.

I walked by the window. The clerk was looking back at me. She had heard my tease. She flipped me off. Very casually.

Then we both laughed.

Damn, it's cold outside.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Another List - Some of My Favorite Songs

Whenever the year flips there are lists.

Lists of what is in and what is out.

Lists of the top songs of the year and lists of what is coming in the new year.

Here at Thoughts of a Common Man we are no different.

Here's a list of some of my favorite sings...not the big hits...the ones that make me really turn up the volume though - they are in no particular order:

1). Hearts by Marty Balin - took me a long time to find this song on I-Tunes. I got so excited I downloaded it twice.

2). You Will Be My Music by Frank Sinatra - the best vocal of any song...ever. Play this one for the fans of rap and let them compare the music value.

3). Leah by Bruce Springsteen - Yeah, a Bruce song on the list, but not one you might expect. Lyrics are incredible. I shake my head all the way through it. It's about a guy who is almost living his life right. Almost.

4). Kentucky Rain by Elvis - The imagery just really works. His voice is perfect. You can feel his pain.

5). Beautiful Day by U2 - The only band I really love that hit it big after 1980. Just a perfect song made more important by loss in my own life.

6). I Just Fall In Love Again by Anne Murray - I defy you to not sing along. Perfect.

7). I'm Sorry by John Denver - Damn. Another one where you can really feel the pain. He could sing too. Should've filled his airplane with gas before taking off.

8). Minutes to Memories by Mellencamp - Hard to keep this off my list of favorite songs by any artist ever. It's meant a ton to me in my life and he sang it live when I went to see him. Got me a speeding ticket once too...drove way too fast with it on full blast.

9). Landslide by Natalie Maines - I like the Stevie version, but Natalie killed it.

10). Memory Motel by The Stones - Not sure where Mick came up with this one...really deep for the Stones.

11). The Final Cut - Pink Floyd - Song just ripped me up because it was about suicide and when I was young and thinking about what life could bring, I was transfixed with the idea that it could also bring utter despair.

12). Get Lucky by Mark Knopfler - A guy sitting back and thinking about life after it unfolded. He explains that it's filled with pain but that once in awhile the sun sets on your ass.

13). Eye in the Sky by The Alan Parsons Project - Little story...was writing my book by that name...deep in thought I came to the conclusion that it was too hard to get done...this song came on the radio.

14). Bluer Than Blue - Michael Johnson - I often think of this song...really simple...what did he do after this?

15). Can't Stop Loving You - Aldo Nova - I think of my buddy George whenever I hear Aldo - we listened to him a ton in college - great song...under-valued singer, right, George?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Some Quotes For You for 2014

A little writing secret for you. I try and write a chapter at a time with the end game in mind. A bunch of pages of the old black notebook are filled with quotations. I pull them from books, and off the Twitter feed, and some of them I've written down over and over again.

Sometimes I use them, but most of the time, they just sit there, and I read them to get fired up about what I want to write next.

I thought I'd share a few:

The purpose of our lives is to be happy. - Dalai Lama

All, everything that I understand, I only understand because I love. - Leo Tolstoy

The mystery of human existence lies in not just staying alive, but in finding something to live for. - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences. - Eleanor Roosevelt.

You were put on this Earth to achieve your greatest self, to live out your purpose, and to do it fearlessly. - Steve Maraboli - Life, the Truth & Being Free

The purpose of life is to contribute in some way to making things better. - Robert Kennedy.

With love one can live, even without happiness. - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The best and most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart. - Helen Keller.

As I've said, they are mostly inspirational and you can't just walk through your daily life quoting such things or people will put you in a rubber room, but I've always said that what is inside is free, and it took a long time to realize that the external crap can tear you down. Yet what you hold deep inside, and feel each day, and try and live is what is really important to the person you are on the journey with: yourself.

Yet the tricky part is making it all play out in the real world, and the one quote that I keep on a post-it note and automatically put into the new black notebook on the day it arrives is one that shapes both my writing, and more importantly, my living.

We are shaped and fashioned by those that we love." - Geothe.

Friday, January 3, 2014

PS 4

So I headed into the gaming room to face the boys in the PS4 sports games. They had been on me since Christmas to participate so I broke down.

First rule:

No rap music on in the background.

Second rule:

I choose their team and I get to play at home with a good team.

The first game was the Golden State Warriors against the Sacramento Kings.

I knew a couple of things about it. Golden State has a great 3-point shooter and the Kings suck. My opponent was Sam, and the game opened with him laughing hard because I grabbed a rebound and hit the wrong button, shooting it from the full-length of the court.

And let me tell you, the game has really evolved. They interview players at half-court. The players have sweat dripping down their faces. The whistles are real. The crowd noise is real, and the scores scrolling at the bottom of the screen are the NBA scores from the real NBA games that are going on in the real world.

It's weird.

I shot every single time with Curry.

He had 45 points.

The final score was 84 to 81.

I lost.

Sam never shut up.

So then it was time for the game with Jake.

I was New England. He was the Buffalo Bills.

I made a huge mistake there.

I shouldn't have given him the team he plays with all the time.

It was 13 to nothing when I quit...just a couple of minutes before the first half ended.

"I thought you told us that we can't quit just because we're losing," Sam said.

"You can't," I said. "I can."

But I get why they enjoy the games so much. It certainly has changed from when I was a kid. Back in the 80's and 90's we were stuck with the players that were on the team at the start of the year. Now you can update the rosters with the current roster with a click of the button.

"What happened out there?" Sam asked as I headed away from both of them.

"I wasn't mentally prepared to play," I said. "They franchise-tagged me and I ain't happy with my contract. Besides I had a concussion and the team doctor sent me back out there to play even though I had headaches. The fans don't understand me. I'm playing out my option and I'm getting the hell out of here."

I have a bad feeling about this.

I'm gonna' have to practice when they aren't home.

'Cause they ain't ever gonna' shut up about it.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Dogs On Main Street

So it isn't as widely anticipated as the new Springsteen album that drops on 01-14-14, but we are getting there.

And Springsteen has something to do with this book, of course.

The idea was a long time in the making and it was developed from the idea of sitting at a Bruce concert in 2012. At that point I'd been attending his shows for about 30 years and as I watched him in Buffalo in 2012 I thought of all the beautiful people who'd attended such shows with me through the years.

We had so many dreams back in '83 when we saw Bruce together at the Aud. He opened with Born in the USA. He played for just about 3 and a half hours. I remember being shocked at the display.

Just so much energy and passion.

When I attended the show in 2012 the cast was a little different, but I thought a lot about the crew that has stayed the same.

Great college buddies who still call once in awhile and the topic eventually gets around to 'What Bruce is up to.'

Wives added along the way and the love they soon develop for the legend of Bruce.

And it got me thinking.

What if...the characters who chased Bruce in the eighties got suddenly stuck where they were, but still believed that somehow they could still reach the Promised Land.

What if...they all got back together again and tried to make their world seem right.

What if...they relied on one another to find their way. wasn't much of a stretch to put five people in a big car and have them travel the Northeast in an effort to finally shake Bruce's hand so that he could validate their lives in some way.

I wanted it to be funny.

I'm pretty sure it got there.

I wanted to control the release.

I wanted my own artist to do the cover (a great choice, by the way!!!)

I needed it to have heart because chasing what Bruce puts out is all about heart and passion.

And hope and faith.

I think I got there too.

There's energy and passion in the story...and in the cover art.

Writing fiction is an absolute blast, by the way. Over the last ten years I've written about pain and loss and sickness and hospitals and more pain.

I had written about things that were completely out of my control.

I wanted some control back!

So I made up a whole world with a set of characters who still believed that they understand.

Like the howling dogs on Main Street.

There's a lot of my buddies in some of the characters. I stole a few jokes from Rosie and Fluffy and Pops and all of my brothers. I put a little of my wife in some of the thoughts about what one character would do if she got Bruce alone for a few minutes.

When I mentioned I had borrowed lines from Rosie he said:

"Stealing my material is your only redeeming factor as a writer."

I still don't have the solid release date for you.


I'll be in control of the release. I liked signing every copy of the book. I liked not having people I don't know sell them from out under me.

That's the way of the writing and publishing world in 2014.

This year is about a little more of controlling the trip to The Promised Land.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year to All

The New Year always brings a lot of hope with it, doesn't it?

I always feel as if the slate is wiped clean, sort of, and that a new day is dawning on a life that will be more filled with wisdom, willpower, faith and hope.

That shit is usually out the window by the 5th of January, but still...

...I feel it.

And there's a thought that it really shouldn't be so hard.

Just get up and say a little prayer.

Eat right.

Be kind.

Smile at strangers.

Wave to the neighbors.

Laugh with the kids.

Kiss the spouse.

Work hard.

Don't bitch.

Save some money.

Eat right (again)


Brush and floss the teeth.

Be fair.

Drift off to sleep with a prayer.

Stay organized.

Read more.

Eat less.



Watch less television.

Think kind thoughts.

It ain't all that hard, right? It should be easy enough to pull off. Follow the AA mantra...just a day at a time. Break it down to one good hour and then another good hour.

I really believe we all aspire to live that way.

Well some of us do.

Maybe half of us do.

All right, but no less than 10% of us do.

And I'll try.

I swear to God I will.

Maybe this one year it won't all go wrong.

Maybe I'll get to the end of 2014 and think, "Damn, I pulled it off."

Then again...

...what I really wish for all of you is stay happy, stay hungry and stay alive.

Love your family.

Work hard.

And do some of those things on the list I gave you.

Happy Birthday, To One of the Dopes

The funny thing about your kids getting older is that as a parent, you have all the goods. Today Matt is 25 years old (I’m pretty sure - w...