Monday, March 31, 2014

What Else?

So we have opening day and it's actually beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Still alive in your NCAA brackets?

I sort of was as the weekend moved on. Yet the greatest tourney in sports drove me to the brink of utter aggravation and back. Sam was my constant companion and dinner talk has been all about it. Just a tremendous amount of fun and Sam will begin the count down to March Madness as soon as this one is in the books.

Saw the movie Dallas Buyers Club over the weekend too, and what a horrific plight in regard to AIDS back then and most likely still now. I understand when the lifestyle choices bring consequences, especially now that there's so much information available, but I'm never real comfortable when a segment of society is considered disposable. The acting was excellent and we were well into the movie before I was told that Jared Leto was playing the cross-dressing drug addict. God, he's pretty.

Yet the underlying theme of the movie...the big pharmaceutical problem is still scary in a lot of respects. The movie was a bit long, but worth the time.

So has there been a definitive answer on the missing plane? I still haven't figured it out. The exhaustive coverage by the news shows bordered on the absurd.

"Next on CNN, as we search for the missing plane, we're going to speak to mothers who feed their babies by making the airplane noise."

It's a fine example of how people eventually move on from a story. It's difficult to even find a mention.

I see that Gwyneth Paltrow made a lot of news over the weekend by saying that 9-5 moms actually have it easier than millionaire actress moms when it comes to raising kids.

She was actually speaking about routine and being able to do it the same way each day, but it came across as a tad condescending and misguided.

The best bet when you are perceived to 'have it made' is to keep your mouth shut and trudge along. She appears to be a bit of a weird bird anyway with the goofy eating and wacky spiritual search, but hey, I imagine that she's a good mom to her kids...Apple and Oranges...or whatever the hell their names are.

What else?

Oh yeah, had a nerve test at the end of last week. The docs are trying to figure out why my feet are swollen and ache when I abuse them by doing treacherous things like...walking on them.

The nerve test is interesting.

An hour and a half of needle sticks and weird electrical shocks. The overall pain isn't so bad as you get sort of used to the routine of it (Gwyneth is right, by the way)but there were a couple of beauties. The one in the back calf muscle nearly sent me to the ceiling like Sylvester the Cat.

"Sorry about that," the soft-spoken doc said.

"You must enjoy this to some small degree," I answered. "Pissed off at home? I'm going to work to stab some people."

He laughed.

Yet I kept thinking about how complicated and fragile the human body is.

"Something got shook up during the hip surgery," he said. "We'll see if we can figure it out."

Then he handed me a cane that he had in the closet.

"Perhaps you'd think of walking with one of these for awhile."

A cane?

A freaking cane at 49?

I limped out of there.

What else?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Baseball Preview - 2014

Thank God! We made it!

No more pretending to think hockey is even remotely interesting.

No more faking that the NFL isn't scripted.

(Do you know the NFL doesn't pay taxes?).

It's baseball season!

162 glorious games that stretch three hours each night. Michael Kay is back. Derek Jeter is back. The 27-Time World Champion Greatest Team in the History of Organized Sports are recharged and ready to roll.

I feel that a great friend has returned from a long, long trip that resulted in absolute boredom. All is right with the world. The Yankees are back, baby!

Here we go:

I'll start with the stupid National League where the pitchers still bat.

NL East Winner:

Washington Nationals.

NL Central Winner:

St. Louis Cardinals

NL West:

Los Angeles Dodgers

The two NL wild cards:

Atlanta and San Francisco

League MVP - Hanley Ramirez of the Dodgers

National League Champions:

Los Angeles Dodgers

American League East Winners:

The 27-Time World Champion Greatest Team in the History of Organized Sports

American League Central Winners:

Detroit Tigers

American League West Champs:

I don't know how...but the Oakland A's.

AL Wild Cards:

Tampa and Texas

AL MVP: Mike Trout

World Series:

The 27-Time World Champion Greatest Team in the History of Organized Sports over the Highest Payroll in the land, the Dodgers.

Derek Freaking Jeter goes out like he came in!

A champion.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

It's Only Been 20 Years

About twenty years ago I wrote a book called Waldorf & Juli.

In that book Waldorf was at a baseball game with his father and they were talking about how fast life goes and how sometimes it all appears to be just an episode in breaking down. Waldorf's Dad explains that even though he's now an old man, he still feels like a young man, and that he can't believe how much the breakdown devastates.

He tells Waldorf:

At the end of our lives we all have half an ounce of pain and an ounce of gold in our ledger.

He asks Waldorf to close his eyes and imagine Mickey Mantle (who was still alive when I wrote the book).

What do you see in your mind when you think of Mickey Mantle? He's a big, strong man swatting home runes and running like a deer, right?

Well, Mantle is actually a broken down old man now. He can't run. He can't throw. He can't hit a ball a hundred feet. But he did it once, and he did it so well that it's how he will be remembered forever, even after he dies.

We all should try and live that way.

So when the memory of us is brought to mind...people will see us at our best...and remember how great we were. We should strive to be remembered as great...even through the pain.

First off...I can't believe I wrote that as a pretty young man. I know that I was thinking of my Dad back then...and I remember him as great. I close my eyes and still see him as great as Mickey Mantle was on the baseball field.

Secondly...when I saw the above photo of Jim and Thurman I thought about how great they were as football players.

It also blew my mind that it was only 20 years ago that they were young, and strong, and really great players.

Perhaps it's knowing how sick Jim is.

Maybe it's seeing them in a hospital room doing a puzzle, but the photo both saddened me and invigorated me.

We all should try and live that way.

So when the memory of us is brought to mind...people will see us at our best...and remember how great we were. We should strive to be remembered as great...even through the pain.

I really, really hope that twenty years from now I'm looking at another shot of Jim and Thurman hanging out.

I have a feeling that I'll close my eyes and see them as strong, young and tough.

We should all try and live that way.

Friday, March 28, 2014


I love when I wake up with a specific song in mind. On Wednesday morning I was awake a good couple hours before I needed to be up and I had to be up by it was just plain strange to be thinking about Johnny Cash and the song, Hurt, in particular.

The song was originally done by Nine Inch Nails, but I never heard their version. It was Johnny's version that I loved and it was the one playing in my head. The writing is flat-out great. Just wonderful lyrics and Johnny sings it hauntingly. The 'empire of dirt' reference is specifically significant to me. The narrator is in some real pain, folks!

One other Johnny Cash note:

Years ago I was at a Book Expo in New York. Johnny had just died. His kid was signing books right next to me. He had written something about his Dad, of course, and I had a chance to shake his hand and talk a little about the Man in Black. He signed a poster, a book and gave me a tee-shirt. All very cool items and very generous of him. I asked him why he was loading me up with so much loot and he said:

"I live for the moments when Dad's fans share their appreciation of him.

Hurt - Johnny Cash/Nine Inch Nails

I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel

I focus on the pain
The only thing that's real

The needle tears a hole
The old familiar sting
Try to kill it all away
But I remember everything

What have I become
My sweetest friend

Everyone I know goes away
In the end

And you could have it all
My empire of dirt

I will let you down
I will make you hurt

I wear this crown of thorns
Upon my liar's chair

Full of broken thoughts
I cannot repair

Beneath the stains of time
The feelings disappear

You are someone else
I am still right here

What have I become
My sweetest friend

Everyone I know goes away
In the end

And you could have it all
My empire of dirt

I will let you down
I will make you hurt

If I could start again
A million miles away

I would keep myself
I would find a way

Thursday, March 27, 2014


Back in 1997 I received a letter from Ralph Wilson thanking me for helping with the construction work at the stadium. (It was one of hundreds of the same letter sent to a lot of construction management people). It was a letter that certainly impressed Matt a couple of years later as it was in a frame with a shot of the stadium, but it was weird for me because that was just about the time the Bills lost their glory with me.

You see, Jim Kelly had just retired, and I had always been an unabashed Kelly fan. Then and now. I've met Jim a few times through the years and I'm really saddened by his fight with cancer. It's not enough to say he's tough and he'll battle through. He has a beautiful family and he's much too young to be in such a fight to stay alive. I'm just sad for all of the Kelly's as he awaits surgery.

Yet, I wasn't in much of a mood in 1997 as the Bills fixed up the Ralph as everyone was starting to call it. Kelly had just retired. There was a lot of angst about how they'd get back to the Super Bowl and finally win one. There were threats about them leaving town, and then the deal was struck to remodel the old home.

And about 750 guys set off to work on the place.

I was there every single day.

I got to go behind the scenes, down on the field, I even tried kicking a 35-yard field goal.

(I was 28 yards short).

And what soured me was the sense of entitlement. Lockers were filled with products from every company. The players brushed by, shamed to have to co-mingle with the working slobs. The Bills were straight and to the point of what would be tolerated by the "workers."

Whatever. All the sports teams are like that. We are amusing ourselves to death.

Yet one day Ralph came by to tour the place.

Most of the scuttle around the construction was that he looked horrible and at death's door.

"What will we do when he's gone?"

"Who's going to get the team?"

"They're moving for sure!"

And a lot of admiration for Ralph Wilson around Buffalo is because he kept the team in Buffalo when he could have made even more money somewhere else, and maybe that is true.

But Buffalo has always been better than good to Ralph Wilson.

An awful lot of money went from the hands of those same types of worker bees straight to Detroit where Ralph keeps his assets.

But Ralph was a maverick and a pioneer and a friend to a lot of Buffalo hospitals and the entire Buffalo community.

Ralph Wilson's presence will be missed in this town especially if the next owner is looking for a bigger payday, and for all that he did, Ralph should be thanked.

I found my framed letter after it was announced that he died.

He thanked me as 'a member of the Buffalo community who had played a role in making the stadium a friendly place to bring a family in a tight-knit city with a proud tradition'.

I could probably send the letter back to his family now because that is pretty much exactly what he did for us.


...If his influence has grown at all... about a playoff game back at the Ralph sometime soon?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Before we left for the NCAA games on Saturday I was talking with the boys. Jake was busting Sam's chops a little bit because Sam's passion team, the Villanova Wildcats, were playing the last game of the night and we'd be there.

"When they lose you're gonna' be weeping in your seat," Jake said.

"I might," Sam said.

So I told the boys about begging my Mom to take us to a Sabres Playoff Game back in 1978 or so. The Sabres were good enough to beat the mighty Islanders and the game was huge as the Sabres were down 2-1 in the best of seven.

They had to win.

They needed me there to cheer them on.

And bless my poor mother because she drove us out there and sat there, yawning, through three periods and nearly two full overtimes before...

...Nystrom of the Islanders let a harmless shot go from just inside the line.

It went in.

There was a collective groan and then total silence as the Islanders celebrated on the ice.

I was nearly weeping in my seat.

I thought of all of this again late in the Villanova-U-Conn game. I kept looking over at Sam to see how he was handling the disappointment as they were down about ten with time running out.

He was fidgeting.

He started talking about how they would return most of their team next year and how they had played well.

"U-Conn is good," I tried. "Villanova has nothing to be ashamed about."

And there are so many things in life that will eventually disappoint, and while having a sports team get knocked out is way down on the list of miserable things in life, it certainly doesn't feel that way at 13.

"That's all right, I'm used to losing," Sam said as we left the building. "The Bills and Sabres taught me how to handle it."

I knew he was feeling absolutely miserable.

"Now Jake is going to be all over me," he said.

"That's all right," I told him. "Don't let the fear of losing something stop you from loving it."

He thought about that for a minute.

"Ah well," he said. "The 27-Time World Champion Greatest Franchise in the History of Organized Sports opens up their season next week."

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Happy Birthday Jim

The best thing about not talking to my brother Jim for a few days is when he says:

"You gotta' hear this."

Then he starts in on the story and before long I'm laughing until my sides ache and the best part of it all is that he's usually front and center of the story doing something that seems insane as he tells it, but is absolutely correct after I get my mind around it.

He's usually right.

His presentation doesn't always match up with how I'd go about getting my way.

But that's all right.

And through the years he's battled back.

Every single day.

When things go wrong he throws more hard work at it.

When things go wrong for someone he loves, he's always there to help.

Always there.

And while he's there fixing, building, repairing or remodeling, he'll usually cook you something when he's done.

It's amazing, actually.

Every once in awhile my kids will ask me for one of the Uncle Jim stories.

They know them all by heart.

"The one where he stopped at the McDonalds drive-thru."

"The one when you guys went to Fredonia for a party."

"The one where he was pulled over for speeding."

And they all laugh, shaking their heads, knowing that every single word is true.

Yet what is really, really cool about all of it is that they know one other thing to be absolutely certain:

Their uncle loves them and would tear down a wall to help them.


Happy Birthday, brother.

We all love you.

Monday, March 24, 2014

My God...all I hear when I close my eyes are the sounds of sneakers on the court. Just one basketball game after another for us this weekend.

I'm not even sure if my beautiful wife is still around or not...haven't seen her in awhile.

But Sam...I've seen him.

Which leaves me to wonder, what is going on in the world these days?

1). They still haven't quite figured out what happened to the plane. I listened to all the theories, feeling a sense of dread throughout. I just keep thinking about the poor people left behind by those on the plane. Can you imagine that pain?

2). The weather still sucks here in Buffalo. Every single time you think we're gonna' turn the corner it freaking snows. The snow was flying on Sunday morning...not a lot, mind you, but one flake seems like a lot now. It's just been such a long journey to spring. Damn.

3). Read about the suicide of Mick Jagger's girlfriend in New York. L'Wren Scott was viewed as a rich socialite, but evidently she was thirty million in debt. I'm sure Mick could've helped, but she was too proud to beg, evidently. Weird story, but there have been a number of suicides in the financial world lately as people have got stuck in a moment and chose that option. Sad story too.

4). Here in Buffalo there has been a lot of concern for Hall of fame QB, Jim Kelly. I'm having a hard time even reading about the return of his cancer because I know the family a little and it pains me to know they're hurting. Yet Jill and the girls will keep Jim fighting...he's tough we know. Praying for all of them. Cancer sucks.

5). My health?

Aggravating is the best way to put it. I have had a swollen foot since the surgery and while I have worked a lot on it, and while I've done what I was told, the swelling hasn't subsided. It's throwing everything out of whack. Getting old sucks. Hopefully time handles it. I've missed a bunch of stuff this year (including Layla's party - Happy Birthday Layla!) in an effort to ice and heat, heat and ice.

6). Dogs on Main Street

Yeah, the new book has hit the street in a very limited way, but I've sort of held my breath wondering, and the reviews have all been positive...then again...if someone absolutely hated it...they probably wouldn't reach out, right?

Ah well...doesn't concern me much, but I do want people to enjoy the journey.

7). Still looking for the wife...ten minutes after starting this.

What time is the next game starting?

Thank God there's a break until Thursday.

Then the Yankees start next week.

Spring is springing.

(He says, as the snow flies).

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Adios Phelps

So I see we lost a "holy" man over the weekend.

Fred Phelps.

You may not know the name but you probably know of his actions and deeds.

He was the leader of the Westboro Church.

You know the one.

It's the church that preaches love and faith and hope and punctuates all of it with...

...absurd hate.

Under Fred's direction they protested at funerals of military men who died in action.

They brought hate to the highest of levels when speaking of gay men and women.

Fred was intent on stomping on people's right to live their freaking lives as they saw fit to live it.

All in the name of the demented image of God that he had in his silly, little mind.

I don't know of people that I despise more than people like him.

And on the other hand, he's certainly free to worship or spout anything that he wants to.

I'm not hypocritical that way.

But when it spills over into people's every day lives and becomes part of the fabric of a community, and influences others to spread hate... doesn't sit right with me.

So Fred has left and is now going to be judged as he felt so free to judge others.

I hope he brought some beach clothes.

It's hot where he's going.

Rest in Turmoil.

Piece of garbage.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Here We Go Austin! Here We Go!!

Ever since October when Sam stood, on the verge of tears, asking me to give him my credit card info for the tickets to the NCAA games in Buffalo, I knew that this week in March was going to be special.

Way more special than Christmas for him!

And it hasn't disappointed at all.

On Tuesday the Grape Apes assembled to pick teams out of the hat so we could bet a little. Choosing teams on a scrap of paper was my brother Jeff's idea and I swear to God, my heart doubles in size when I hear the first good friend walk through the door at 7 p.m. on the Tuesday before the tourney picks.

Thank you Jeff, Pops, Johnny (and the beautiful girls), Millie, Chuck...and Sam....for keeping that alive. Sam has stood in Jeff's spot and let me tell you, he feels the spirit. He talks the same smack as Jeff. He makes us laugh too. He loves the tourney as much as his Uncle did.

Just as much.

Matt accompanied Sam to the four games on Thursday and it pained me to be at work instead of in the seat beside him, but that had been the plan all along. I would get the Saturday games.

"We got to see two close games, 'Cuse and 'Nova', he texted me. "All in all a great day. Thank you for getting me the tickets!"

I saw that text at 6 a.m. in a hotel room on Friday morning.

So Friday was a quest to get home and watch some games.

Yet the work day continued. I arrived at 7:30 p.m. I was just in time for two more sessions of games. Sam was in prime shape.

"I'll work the remote so we don't miss the end of any games," he said.

Then he stood up, off to the side of the television, and hooted and hollered his way through every play.

By 10:30 p.m. my eyes were getting droopy.

"You gonna' make it all the way to the end?" he asked.

Considering the last game wasn't slated to begin until looked doubtful.

"Come on!" he said. "Throw in a pizza and get ready! HERE WE GO AUSTIN! HERE WE GO!!"

Damn if that wasn't Jeff.

Living the excitement.

Feeling every second of it.

Coaxing me to join him.

Have some fun!

I put the pizza in the oven and asked him to keep the pom-poms at mid-level, but we watched the games through the start of the very last one.

"These are the best two days of the year," Sam said.

Seems I'd heard those words before.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Signing Books

Damn, that's a great cover!

The books arrived this week and I posted on Facebook to announce their arrival, and a strange thing happened.

A whole lot of people messaged me to get a copy.

And it really amazed me.

I've been doing it for quite awhile, and I'm confident in the book (I loved doing it) but there's so much doubt in the moments when it is going to be sent out to the public.

I've always said that the strange part about writing is that it's a very lonely task that when completed, results in the writer having to be the exact opposite person of the same human being who was locked in a room alone writing it.

But it's still really cool...and I enjoy it more now that I am not worried about how many copies it sells or if I am or am not considered a real author. still makes me laugh a little...

I was in the center aisle of the local grocery store trying to sell copies of the first book. The book was horrible. The experience was ridiculous and people walked by me, looking at me as if I were one of those religious nuts trying to peddle eternal salvation.

And people are really weird to writers:

"I'm gonna' write a book," they'll say. "Not something like this, but a best-seller. I have a best-seller in me!"

And I would smile and nod and think, 'Damn. Good luck. This one took me awhile!'

Yet the strangest part is when they would feel comfortable enough to ask this:

"How much money have you made?"

I've yet to meet an author...and twenty-five years in I've met a lot...who know quite how to handle such a question.

And when you break it all down...every single book you sell pays you less than minimum wage because there really is a lot of time spent on trying to make it all work.

Yet when it does work.

Even partially...'s a feeling that is absolutely unmatched.

Because I was a kid, reading a book by Lewis Grizzard, a humorist from Atlanta, and I remember thinking, 'Dang, I want to write something that means something to somebody...someday.

I really hope I did it again.

Because in the end, when all else fails, signing books is still a lot of fun.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Best Two Days In Sports

I must admit that I've grown a bit weary of basketball on the big television in our living room.

I know for sure that my beautiful wife has.

"Come on! Villanova is on!!" Sam has been yelling all year. "This is the only television that gets it!!"

So, we've watched a lot of college hoops.

Not that it will help any of us win the bracket in the NCAA Tournament, and that's because it's the best tourney in all of sports.

Yep...better than the World Series.

Way the frig' better than the Super Bowl.

(Do you know the NFL doesn't pay taxes?)

And that's because they are just kids...and the tourney mixes the little guys against the big dogs...and every once in awhile there are super upsets that end with a long shot as time expires.

My boys are thoroughly into all the gambling that goes into it.

We all get our geek on, using red and black pens to circle the winners and losers.

Yet Sam is ALL IN!!

Reminds me so much of my brother, Jeff, who absolutely loved everything about this tourney. He'd fill out bracket after bracket...we'd talk after each session...he wanted all the pools to see who was ahead after each round.

Sammy boy stepped right in.

Over the weekend he was in his room for a long time...strange for Sam...he always has to have his pulse on everything going on in the house...he's our heart beat...keeps us laughing...and he's always in a great mood.

(Thank God he got my personality).

But he was missing...

...I entered his room...which is an absolute mess most of the time (he got that from my wife)...he was holding pen to paper.

"What're you doing?" I asked.

"Writing the strengths and weaknesses for all the teams in the tourney," he said.

He held up a dozen sheets of paper filled with little notes.

I just laughed...

...and looked up.

His uncle would be really, really proud.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Some heavy hearts around here on Sunday and it was a really weird thing.

During the 2nd ride around the neighborhood for the day I turned to look at Melky as she was in the passenger seat.

It looked like the side of her face was swollen, and her eye was drooping a little bit.

I asked everyone to take a quick look. I've been known to make mistakes before.

"Her face is definitely swelling up," Sam said.

We hung out for a little while just looking at Melky and she was eating up the sudden attention.

Two hours later her face looked like Joe Frazier's after the last Ali fight. Her eyes were just about closed. Her entire face had swelled to gigantic proportions.

"We should give her a Benadryl," Kathy said.

Even though it was close to bed time I wasn't about to just go to bed and watch Melky die in the middle of the night, and judging by how quickly she was deteriorating...

"Call the Vet," I said. "Let me know the address."

Thankfully the place was open.

I hustled Melky in through the door. I had no idea how she was even seeing at this point. Her eyes were slits in her elephant man face.

But the vet was calm.

"I know it looks like she's about to die, but it's just an allergic reaction. We're seeing a lot of it these days as the sun starts to shine a little."

I took a deep breath. Melky stirred in the seat beside me.

"You better be right," I said. "This is my constant companion."

The vet laughed.

"We'll have her fixed up in no time."

I hesitated to think of what the 'fix' might be. Melky wouldn't take too kindly to a long, drawn-out examination.

"Actually, it's basically pretty easy," she said. "We'll inject her with some (get this) Benadryl. You can watch her for a half hour and we should see quick results."

40 minutes later we were on our way home. Melky's breathing was still rough, but the swelling was drastically reduced.

It cost me $154.

You could've added a zero or two and I would've paid it.

Melky is my buddy.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Ask A Question?

Read an article the other day about a man who shot a teenager in his home, to death, in an effort to protect his daughters. (Happened in Texas, I believe).

It's the kind of story that those who talk about protecting their homes from intruders are sort of proud of (which is really strange).

Except one of the girls knew the boy that was in the room...and in her bed...yet when Dad came in with the gun ready...she claimed not to know the kid.

So Dad shot him a few times.

Sad, sad, sad.

Yet reading one of those stories wouldn't be complete without reading the comments listed below.

"F%&K yeah!!!" The first guy wrote. "Exactly what needed to be done in that situation!"

That comment was jumped all over and an argument ensued.

"What would you do, you chicken-shit liberal?" The guy asked. "Let someone in your house to rape your daughters?"

So, the facts were going by the wayside. Now the kid had broken a window to get in, right?

Yet, I imagined the scenario.

First off, teenagers have been doing dumb things for thousands of years, right?

Secondly, kids when confronted by a parent in a scary situation may lie about their involvement in said situation.

Third, since I don't have a gun ready at all times, as a parent, how could I handle an 'intruder' in my home situation?

Well, I can tell you we wouldn't be talking about a dead kid right now.

"Shoot first and ask questions later!!!!" that first guy posted in an effort to win his argument.

(He posted that 12 times in a row).


Asking a question or two may have saved the life of that teenage boy who was unfortunately doing what teenage boys are prone to do.

I didn't respond to any of it on the posted thread.

What's the point?

Yet what always gets me about the shoot first theme is that sometimes that much force just isn't needed. It appears to me that the firing of the gun, in that situation, wasn't done out of bravery, but rather fear.

And it makes me wonder who the true chickenshit is.

But there will most likely be a continued debate in this case.

"The guy was protecting his family!"

"The whore daughter did it!"

"Take the guns away!!"

But two things are lost:

A 17-year-old boy


Common sense...

...that a couple of properly worded questions...

...might have saved.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Celebrate My Beautiful Wife

We were watching the movie Nebraska on Saturday night. We should've been at a party or two to celebrate St. Patrick's Day and my wife's birthday, but her knee is shot and my feet are swollen.


Quite the pair.

And we were gonna' get our drink on.

Yeah, right.


Back to the movie. The elderly wife in the film (which is good) never stops picking at the old guy. He just can't do anything right, and she tells him at every turn.

"I'm glimpsing the future," I said.

Yet there was a beautiful scene where the wife leans in and kisses the old guy, and you can tell she loves him.

"I don't wanna' be on the verge of 50," Kathy said.

I thought of Grandpa Fuzzy on the verge of 80.

"Geez, Gramps," I'd said. "80 is a long time. I don't know if I wanna' be 80."

(I was young and dumber).

"You do when you're 79," he said.

So, thinking of that, 49 is no big deal, and contrary to the image I often pretend to portray, I'm not the easiest guy in the world to live with on a daily basis.

No Fuzzy is.

Yet there's my beautiful wife.

Right there.

Holding tight to the things she loves:

Like the I-pad.

An occasional cigarette.

Dance Moms.

Protecting the kids.

Not judging the bad moods.

Working hard.

Limping through all the pain of living.

You know, it's funny, but getting married is often a short-sighted thing. Too many people get so bogged down on the changes that you have to jump (or try to jump) through together.

In a lot of cases, one person gets set adrift...and it just doesn't work.

And I know this is a true round-a-bout way to wish my beautiful wife a wonderful birthday...

...49 to go...

(Oh hell, imagine that!)

But it would be a true honor to have you nag every single little move I make in those late years.

Seems like we're on the path!

Love you.

Happy Birthday!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Creeper

They're showing a commercial now that has Scooby and the gang chasing the creeper.

I smiled through it on Saturday morning as I remembered that it was Jake's favorite one of all-time, but that it scared him to no end. I used to say:


In a low voice and his eyes would pop clear out of his head.

It's so hard to consider those days and not wish they were that young again, even though I was driven completely up the freaking wall by watching the same cartoon a hundred times.

Jake got up early to head to the Irish parade.

(Yeah...Fazzolari is a nice Irish name).

It was a grand scheme he designed with his friends.

"I need eight bucks," he said.

I handed him a twenty, thinking about his wide-CREEPER-eyes as I did so.

"We're gonna' ride the bus. I need it in singles," he said.

"So get change," I answered. "A twenty is better than eight."

He just glared back.

And I knew that Kathy wasn't enamored with the bus idea. And the not knowing what he'd be doing every minute of the day would drive her crazy, but learning to figure things out in the real world is important too.

He was smart enough to figure out how to make change.

I thought of the fact that I once went to New York City with a buddy for a few days. We were a bit older than Jake is now, but it was fun learning on the run.

"Just don't be stupid, you moron," I said.

(Howard Stern's Dad would say that to him from time-to-time).

"I'm not a moron," Jake said.

We talked about Howard Stern's Dad and he laughed.

I dug the singles I had out of my wallet and handed them over.

He's still just a boy.

Why make him struggle to break the twenty?

I wanted to do the CREEPER voice for him, but he wouldn't have caught the drift.

I guess watching it over and over a hundred times wasn't quite enough.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Where's the Plane?

Seems like all I've been talking about all week are airplanes.

Fantasy baseball draft #1 is in the books.

Sam is getting all fired up for the NCAA College Hoops Tourney and the 27-Time World Champion Greatest Franchise in the History of Organized Sports:

The New York Yankees are gearing up for #28.

The new book hasn't yet arrived, but soon!

And all I can think about are freaking airplanes.

What the hell happened on the other side of the world?

The plane just flat-out disappeared?

And while there have been some wild ideas passed back and forth the chief concern, of course, is for the people who were on-board.

Are they safe?

Did aliens scoop in and grab the plane?

Are we talking terrorists again, or was it a crash landing somewhere?

Of course, the media is all over it as they should be. But I wonder if the wild theories are what's really necessary. The health and welfare of people on the airplanes is most important, right?

It's nothing but a tragedy where there is a sliver of hope. It is also stuff that movies are made of, but who in the hell would even take that script?

It's just preposterous.

It disappeared. It traveled for hours afterwards (they believe). There were people on-board with fake passports.

It's just way too much to try and comprehend and the saddest part of it all is the wild speculation by people who have no idea what might or what might not have happened.

I've tried not to speculate too much. I pray that those people are alive and well somewhere and that terrorism wasn't even a part of it, but I'm skeptical.

And it's sad to live in a world where even the true stories sound made-up.

I hope all questions are answered...soon...I can't imagine waiting on such news if a loved one was on such a trip.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Somewhere Else

The other part of traveling is that unless you're home in comfort you spend a lot of time wishing:

Wishing you were somewhere else.

Seinfeld did a bit a long time ago about people wanting to 'get out' and once they're out wanting to 'get home.'

It's true.

We spend a lot of time wishing we were somewhere else.

"I wanna' go home!"

"I just wish this would end!"

But we were bustling through the air at the high rate of speed and as the plane struggled to get through clouds and heavy rain I looked straight out at the storm and it struck me that I sort of liked the turbulence.

I scanned the worried looks on some of the other passengers. We were getting tossed around a bit. The seat belt sign flashed. The captain talked about being through the 'rough patch' in just a few minutes and promised that it would 'smooth out' soon.

Thought about life and God there for a minute.

Of course it would stop.

I always watch the's sort of like watching the outfielders go back on a long hit towards the can usually tell when the fielder has it...and you can judge the turbulence by the looks on the faces of the attendants.

They were calm.

I was calm too.

A couple of the faces around me showed true worry, like the ball was going over the wall.

But what I really thought about was the storm we were in. It wouldn't last more than a few moments. We'd break through it soon enough.

Why worry about it?

(If we didn't, it'd all be over quickly, right?)

And once I looked at it that way, it looked really interesting to me. The clouds were exploding as we just plowed right through. The rain was falling in sheets. We were rocking our way through.

And then it was calm.

I'm not sure how long any of it lasted.

A couple of minutes.

It felt so cool to smooth it out.

"We'll be there in about twenty minutes, folks," the captain said. "The weather on the ground isn't any better, but we should be smooth the rest of the way in."

Twenty minutes.

It would be great to be home again.

Until it was time to head back out to the clouds above.

To the chaos all around.

I decided to stay exactly where I was for a moment.

I found 'Sparks Will Fly' by the Stones on my I-phone.

I enjoyed Keith Richards' guitar riff ripping through it.

Right where I wanted to be...

... for a few minutes anyway.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

In the Event of An Emergency

The flying experience really does suck.

I had a crying baby behind me and a lady who didn't stop talking for more than three minutes of the two hour flight beside me.

She smiled at me widely when I sat down but I put my headphones on and cranked the music up and closed my eyes. I had to turn the music way up as she turned her ample ass to me and talked the ear off of the poor lady on the other side of her.

I feigned sleep for the entire flight, afraid that she'd tell me her life story.

And it got even weirder on the next leg of the trip.

We were dropped in concourse B in Atlanta and the flight to Buffalo was leaving from Concourse C...twenty minutes after we arrived.

If you've never been to the Atlanta airport you have no idea how big it really is. I was nervous getting off the plane as I certainly didn't want to miss the last flight to Buffalo because there was a blizzard on the way.

I miss the Tuesday night flight and I might not get home until Friday.

So I was up and on the move as soon as they opened the door.

Problem being that my 'on the move' speed has considerably slowed. The swelling remains in my Fred Flintstone feet and every single step is rough, especially after being crammed into an airplane seat for two hours.

But I was moving. Up the huge escalator.

A woman beside me screamed out in aggravation:

"I need to get on the plane to Buffalo! I don't know what gate it's leaving from!!"

"C37," I said.

"Where the mother%$&* is that?" She yelled.

I tabbed her at a bit younger than me. She was fired up.

"Follow me," I said.

We made it up the escalator walking the steps up and made the trip to the train just as the doors opened to take us to Concourse C.

3 minutes later we were in front of the gate.

"Come on," she said. "I'll buy you a beer."

The whole thing caught me completely off guard. Someone was asking to buy me a beer?

"You drink beer?" she asked.

I had been thinking of grabbing a couple of waters for the trip home.

"No," I said. "I guess I don't anymore."

She looked at me as if I had three eyes, and she headed away quickly.

I bought a couple of waters and boarded the plane early enough to get a seat in an Exit aisle.

"Are you ready to help in an emergency?" the pretty attendant asked me.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"You're at the exit door. If there's a problem are you willing to help get others to safety before you exit the plane?"

"Like a crash?" I asked.

She looked around and nodded sheepishly.

"I know what answer you're looking for," I said, "But if this plane goes down and I get that exit door open and there's safety on the other side all you're gonna' see are the soles of my shoes."

She laughed.

The guy beside me said, "I'll be right beside you. %&$* these other people."

Yet we remained in our important seats.

Thank God we weren't called on in the event of an emergency.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Shoot It Until You Make It

My sister once gave me a photo of Babe Ruth swinging and missing:

Every strike brings me closer to my next home run.

I love that photo.

It's not those who fail in life who don't get's about failing...faster.

We all fail.

Those of us who fail faster and figure out the way to succeed quicker...are those who flourish.

Make sense?

I went to my son's playoff basketball game on Saturday. I'd like to say I enjoy such games, but I don't. It's great to see the kids play ball, but there's so much negativity around all of it. Parents yelling at refs; coaches screaming at kids; everyone acting as if they are going to be successful or complete failures depending upon what happens.

It drives me crazy.

I want to stand up and yell out:

Stop! They're supposed to be having fun!!

But I went.

And I smiled at Sam shooting in warm-ups. I clapped when he scored and grabbed a rebound and when he wiped the dust from his shoes as he stood there because he had seen pros and college players do such a thing.

And he missed a couple of long shots, but I was happy that he had taken them.

No guts, no glory.

As the game came down to the wire there were a couple of things happening:

Sam's team was having a real bad game.

"You guys are 1 for 25 from the three-point line!" The assistant coach shouted out. "Stop shooting threes! You can't make them!!"

At that point they were down 5 with just a minute left. There was nothing to do but foul and hope you can make up the difference in missed free throws.

Yet a funny thing happened.

During the coach's time-outs the leaders of the group were not speaking of how to get back in the game. Rather, they were chastising the kids about how they lost.

Jake was seated beside me.

"This game isn't over," I said to him. "Two made baskets and they win. Why aren't they drawing up a play or two?"

Jake laughed. He agreed with me, but neither one of us was much interested in shouting out to the kids on the floor.

One of the kids on Sam's team sort of ignored the wishes of the coach and launched a 3 with about 40 seconds left.

It went in.

They were down by just 2.

A kid on the other team calmly sank 2 free throws with 30 seconds left.

Down 4.

"They can still do this," I whispered.

Yet at the time-out the coach spent his allotted two minutes screaming at the kids about not boxing out on a long-ago play. There was no talk of the last 30 seconds.

But that same kid had a plan.

He shot another 3.

It went in.

They were down one with 8 seconds left.

They were also out of time-outs.

(Which was a good thing).

The kid on the other team missed his free throws and Sam's team grabbed the rebound. The trip up the floor was something out of a movie, but they found that same kid...who had been 1 for 15 from the floor up until one minute was left.

He swished his 3rd straight shot as the buzzer sounded.

The final score was 31-30.

After the game, Sam got the message loud and clear.

"If I'm open I'm gonna' shoot it," he said. "Sometimes they go in."


"You can't think about the ones you missed," I said. "Those are gone. You have to keep telling yourself that you're good enough to do it next time."

There's no such thing as a not-so-confident-Fuzzy so I wasn't real worried about my boys, but I was happy for the other kid who had made the winning shot.

He'll never forget that lesson.

On to next week!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Too Many People

The trip to Kansas City was absolute misery. The airline had one person working between two stations. I missed her by two minutes at the first station.

Her descriptive sign said:

"The agent will return shortly."

I honestly thought she was in the can.

So I lingered too long.

And by the time I made it to the 2nd station, she had just left to go back to the first one. We may have passed one another in the hall.

"Wow, you have bad timing," she said when we finally had the chance to meet...after my plane had left.

And I'll spare you the sordid details...but there were so many freaking people in the Atlanta airport that I just wanted to scream.


I finally made it up to the room.

It took me 18 hours to travel by plane.

It's only a 16 hour drive.

And of course, the two hour time change had me awake by 3:15 central time.

I met even more total strangers during the course of the early morning hours.


I'd rather be riding around the block with Melky and the Pair.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Into the Sea

Whenever you hear a story about a mother driving her kids into the water in an effort to kill them, you're instantly shocked and horrified.

It's the same with the mass shootings and the mass stabbings and the mass bombings.

Just straight out mental deficiencies.

There are no outward signs of such homicidal behaviors?

Of course there must be...


Yet I was listening to a guy on the radio the other day. He sounded like a reasonable enough guy and he explained that he was severely manic depressive and that while he controlled it sometimes...

...there were real dark days.

He spoke of being under the influence of 12 shots of alcohol even though he hadn't had any.

That was what his mind felt like to him on the dark days.

He spoke of not caring if he hurt those he normally loved...let alone total strangers.

And that's what we don't get, right?

We judge the crazy actions of others as crazy and we shout from the mountain tops that they need to be killed to eliminate the problem.

But is that the best way to handle it?

I'm just asking here...because it is so absolutely horrifying to hear those kids scream that their Mom is trying to kill them.

Yet the answers are certainly elusive.

Mental health facilities are not funded.

It's not really looked at as anything more than a weakness.

"Suck it up! We all have problems!"

But the craziness continues.

"They shouldn't report these stories. She was looking to be famous, that's all," Some guy at work said. "Fry the bitch!"

I'm afraid there might be more to it than that.

I suppose I could be wrong.

Yogi & Carmen

65 years Yogi & Carmen were together.

She died this past week.

Poor Yogi.

And yes, I chose him in a Mets outfit because that was when I first learned about Yogi - during the 1973 World Series - we were rooting for them over the A's because Dad told us too.

Because of Yogi.

And he was a great Yankee of course, but this is about more than his 10 World Series rings.


It's about a much greater accomplishment.

Living with a freaking woman for 65 years!!

Just kidding, there as well.

I just have a special place in my heart for people who are together that long. They become a part of one another. They are not quite complete if the other isn't around.

And it's sort of sad, isn't it?

That one continues forward alone for a time.

65 years they were married.

What a beautiful life.

And I know a guy who golfed with Yogi for a day and said he was sort of a sourpuss.

You can't base it all off one day, right?

But old Italian guys are sourpusses most of the time, I imagine.

(I'm headed down that pike for sure).

But just a moment for one of the Yankee greats.

May Carmen rest in peace.

65 years married trumps even the 10 rings.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Dogs On Main Street Is Available

I had in the back of my mind that perhaps I could release the new book on a special day.

March 8 is a special day for's my baby sister's birthday.

So I stepped through the final hoops and here you go:

The book is ready!

My heart feels full as I write this because I have nothing but love for the project.

I wrote it strictly for my readers and I was prompted by a great buddy - Grape Ape, Jeff Popple - who told me:

"Write me something, bitch!"

Here you go, Pops...and Kim!

Kim needed this...

And that's why I am smiling.

Because it's been a great relationship.

The book is fun. There are a lot of swear words...that's the way people talk!

But there is a lot more love.

And faith.

And hope.

And Bruce!!!

I hope the message finds a place in your heart.


We search for redemption and hope when we are in our darkest hours and every once in a while we find what we are looking for.

You helped me find some.

Thank you.

The book can be ordered by contacting me for a signed copy...or by ordering through ISBN-13: 978-0615972671

A Kindle version will also be available within a week or so.


Happy Birthday to my beautiful sister Carrie Lynn.

The best days are the ones when I get to chat with my siblings about nothing.

Like Bruce and where the next tour is going to be.

(There's a present for you).

And Carrie called me out of the blue last week to tell me a story about the kids and how wide Carrie's eyes got when she was telling a story. Tony and Paige thought her wide eyes reminded them of me when I'm telling a story.

(You've seen one Fuzzy you've seen them all).

So we chatted about where I was seeing Bruce next and Carrie had been so busy she didn't know he was coming around.

A half an hour later we all got a text:

"Woo-hoo! Seeing Bruce with the kids in Virginia Beach!!"

And it's crazy, but none of us see enough of one another anymore. We're all working hard. We all have busy kids and active lives.

But the love is certainly alive and well.


Happy Birthday, Carrot!

Friday, March 7, 2014

I Must Break You

Didn't Sylvester Stallone teach anyone the lesson in Rocky IV?

Seems like we have a problem brewing in Russia again, huh?

I don't know a lot about it other than I get a bunch of updates on my phone about who is threatening who. Of course there are also statements about it on Facebook.

Everyone has an opinion.

If you hate Obama he's certainly handling the situation with absolute incompetency. If you don't hate him, perhaps it all seems to be handled correctly thus far.

I had fun the other day when someone posted a photo of George W. saying:

"He'd know what to do!"

I wrote:

"Attack Iraq?"

I didn't bother to get into the discussion that followed.

Hit and run. That's the best way to handle political discussions.

Why get all in a mess over it?

We can't control it, right?

And Putin is a terrorist, right?

Years ago Mandela was painted as a terrorist and Bin Laden and Hussein were glorified as friends of the USA.

It's all a point of perspective, right?

And we honestly don't have it.

We just don't.

So why get in a tizzy about it?

Look on the bright side:

At least now we can go back to making the Russians the bad guys in all the best action films, right?


Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Trouble

That is the trouble, right?

We always think there's enough time in every day to chase the things we want to chase.

It's been a tough week for thoughts of such things.

Ran out of time for people that I loved.

Running out of time during what seem to be eternal work days in the freezing freaking cold

(I swear to God that groundhog needs to be shot for this shit...where were all the lunatics with the guns that day?)

And feeling like you're running on a treadmill.

Never quite getting there.

Battling so many things.

Just wanting to rest a little.

It'll be all right after I rest.

I'm pretty good at sharing my feelings with the one's that I love...usually...but I got sick and missed my brother-in-law Chuck's birthday last week...sorry you.

I haven't talked to the Grape Ape's in 'em all...everyday.

And my brothers and sisters and crazy brothers and sisters in laws...

...You know.

The time is always right to reach out to college friends and family members and loved ones.

I've said it before...

...make sure your love is on your sleeve and you won't leave anyone guessing...

...because the trouble is...

We always seem to run short on time.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

I Don't Get Sick

I spend an awful lot of time crowing about how I never get sick.

Except when I do.

Sam was sick first, I'm told, but my beautiful wife was the first person I saw showing signs.

But I wouldn't get it. I'm ten feet tall and bullet-proof.

Damn, it hit me like a ton of bricks.

So, take some time and rest, right? That's what needs to be done in such a situation.

Except I couldn't.

I was scheduled to be a co-presenter at a course for 60 people or so at a place a couple of hours from home. So I left on Sunday night after pasta and a nap.

Just the drive was grueling, but the thinking being that I could get a good night's rest close to the site and be ready to do the training.

Except I couldn't.

I was awake in the hotel at 2:30.

There's not a lot that can be done from 2:30 until 6 in the morning, but I couldn't sleep either.

Too sick.

I should call them and apologize, I thought. I can't go like this.

Except I did.

"You look like hell," the host said. "And I have some bad news, the other trainer is sick and won't make it. You have the entire 8 hours. Are you up for it?"

I should've answered it any other way than the way I did.


And I must admit that it was the longest 8 hours of my life.

I kept using the nasal spray.

I told some jokes.

I talked and talked and talked and talked.

7 and a half hours in the host came up to me:

"I can play a movie and kill the last half-hour if you wanna' take off."

I made the two hour ride home.


The host sent me a text:

"Thank you for the effort!"

Geez, that made it all worth it!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

5 Years - Unfathomable

I still can't believe it.

It still hurts so much.

It never really leaves my mind.

5 years without my bro.

It's the only time when I'm really truly lost for words.

Miss you, pal.

Every 10 minutes.


Monday, March 3, 2014

Chasing Cars

I really love this song by Snow Patrol. Recently I was driving along and it came on. Halfway through I was captured by the beauty of it. A tremendous love song.

Just tremendous.

Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol

We'll do it all
On our own

We don't need
Or anyone

If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

I don't quite know
How to say
How I feel

Those three words
Are said too much
They're not enough

If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

Forget what we're told
Before we get too old
Show me a garden that's bursting into life

Let's waste time
Chasing cars
Around our heads

I need your grace
To remind me
To find my own

If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

Forget what we’re told
Before we get too old
Show me a garden that's bursting into life

All that I am
All that I ever was
Is here in your perfect eyes, they're all I can see

I don't know where
Confused about how as well
Just know that these things will never change for us at all

If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

Sunday, March 2, 2014


The above photo was from a trip back about ten years ago to the Six Flags Amusement Park at Darien Lake. We used to go up for a long weekend each year and have a blast, camping, cooking out, drinking beer. The Grape Apes went along, my buddy Jeffy and Chris Miller...who is in between Matt and me in the photo.

We all loved the trip and I especially enjoyed not having a lot to do on that weekend.

So my wife decided we didn't need to do that anymore.


On this particular day, Chris kept talking about getting shot into the air on the catapult above the lake. I wasn't real keen on being swung just inches from the water, but the beer was making me relax.

The big problem was that three of us had to go.

That's how Matt got involved.

Chris disappeared for a moment and returned with the tickets. I know the ride was pricey, but it didn't matter, once the tickets were purchased we had to go.

I miss getting dizzy from drinking beer.

I was real dizzy as they strapped us into our seats.

It was while we were getting strapped in that my wife and mother-in-law arrived on the scene. My mother-in-law was real honest in her assessment of the situation:

"We don't give a shit if the two of you get killed, but why are you taking Matt with you? If you don't survive we're gonna' stomp on your fat heads."

Which only caused us to laugh harder.

As they started taking us up we got a bit out of alignment. Chris uttered the 2nd great quote:


We made a slow climb with a man talking in the headset. He was speaking to Matt, who was in charge of pulling the rip cord when we got to the top.

I must admit.

I was scared out of my mind as we made the climb up.

At the top, the man told Matt to rip the cord. Matt hesitated. Very calmly the man said it again. Finally, I screamed it.

Moments later we were on the ground.

It was absolutely awesome.

That photo was captured as we neared the ground.

As we headed back towards the campsite my mother-in-law was still in my ear.

"You're lucky you didn't kill him. You two are idiots!"

Yes we are.

But look at that captured moment.

Just priceless.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

What's OJ Up To?

I was sitting in a meeting on Friday afternoon about 100 miles away from home when my cell phone vibrated and flashed on the table.

(Someone turned a flashing light on my phone settings when I first got it and I'm too lazy to turn it off. If my phone vibrates it looks like there's a plane landing).

The guy running the meeting wondered if I needed to grab the call.

"No, I don't give a %$&* anymore," I said.

I'd hit my quota for the week.

The guy laughed.

And yes, there's a real desire to answer everything every two minutes.

During the evening on Friday the Sabres traded away their goalie, Ryan Miller, so the phone was blowing up.

(I hope he can handle the plane ride to St. Louis and a game within a few days, but he will, that courageous bastard).

Yet...I was beat to shit.

I set everything aside and went to sleep.

And for one reason or another I dreamed about O.J. Simpson as an actor.

I'm not sure he was really in the movie scene that was playing through my mind, but it was Orenthal, for sure.

When I awoke, I thought of that dumb bastard.

In a cell.

Getting fat.

He has to think about the murders, right?

Does he remember all the glory?

The Hall of Fame?

2,003 yards?

And it made me pause for a moment.

We get one shot.

It's important to give a %$&* most of the time.

Have a great day, Juice.


I was ordering lunch on the road and one of the choices was a meatball sub. I wanted to eat something a little healthier than that, but I as...