Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Jills Over Bills


Do you know that the NFL doesn't pay taxes?

Well, they don't pay their cheerleaders either.

The Buffalo Jills made headlines over the weekend and they are not the first group of NFL cheerleaders to cry foul, but since they are literally in my backyard, I listened.

First off...as stated here before...this is a multi-billion-dollar industry.

Very multi!

The Jills allegedly were paid $150 per game. They were hardly ever paid for their personal experiences. They were subjected to jiggle tests and dehumanized...

...this is according to a disgruntled member, of course, but where there's smoke.

Let's start at point one.

Women are awesome.

I have always felt that way. They don't deserve any of the scorn that is sometimes thrown their way. Do you realize that there are still people out there who believe that women don't deserve equality when it comes to social stature, pay and other things?

There are a ton of men that feel that way, honestly.

Yet this story takes the abuse even further.

First off, why do the Jills exist?

To cheer the Bills.

(I have to do a cut-away here for a moment...a la Family Guy).

When I was in high school our cheerleaders shared the bus with the basketball team. They were always so encouraging as they cheered a team that sometimes really sucked. We were in a game once where we were getting absolutely embarrassed. The girls ran to center court and began their cheer:

WE'RE NUMBER ONE!!! They chanted.

Our coach jumped up off the bench and said the following:

"We aren't number one! We aren't even number 85! Stop with the stupid f&*$ng cheer!"

I imagine the Jills must think of the same thing when they are cheering on the hapless Bills.

Anywhoha...

They can't pay these women?

Do we still need to treat women as simple objects that are there for amusement?

I know that cheerleading in high schools and colleges are now treating it as a separate sport. Shouldn't these girls and women feel good about what they are doing?

I'm sure the Jills are better at their jobs than the Bills are.

Yet all kidding aside. This isn't a simple story.

I'll say it again:

It's a multi-billion dollar industry!

Treat these women like human beings.

As a matter of fact, why don't we just treat all women as humans?

Damn, I hate the NFL.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Catching Up

So...deep breath...what's been happening out there?

1). The weather is still horrific here in the East. 36 degrees the other freaking morning. Frost on the windows. The dogs thought I was yelling at them after I had used my Tops card to scrape the ice...it freaking broke.

"It isn't supposed to be frosting in freaking May!" I yelled.

(Melky and Paris agreed).

2). What about Michael Pineda of the First-Place, 27-Time World Champion Greatest Franchise in the History of Organized Sports?

To backtrack...the Suck Sux...who have two pitchers who lather themselves in Vaseline and pine tar every single time they pitch...spotted pine tar on Pineda's palm a few starts ago.

Less than a week later, Pineda had it all over his neck.

The Suck Sux told on him, and Pineda was suspended.

And I may sound like a real homer here, but the Suck Sux telling was the real shame of the story. The use of pine tar, for grip, is pretty well accepted throughout the league.

Lester had it all over his palm in a World Series game.

Kenny Rogers had it in his hand when the Yankees lost to him a few years ago.

No one complained. I specifically remember Girardi saying after the Rogers game that it was for grip and grip alone and that he didn't have a problem with it.

Of course, Pineda slathering it on his neck might be a tad dumb, but the move there was for the Sux to send a message to the Yankees asking him to remove it. That's the thing to do. But they're in last place. The Yankees have been beating the piss out of them. They cried. That rule needs to be changed.

3). I haven't had to miss time with golf. (See weather reference), but I'm still not ready to play either. My damn feet are killing me...every single step hurts...and it's so frustrating to be older and seemingly unable to get my legs healthy. Just plain frustrating. I can't believe that even before turning 50 I'm wondering, "Did I take my nerve pill?"

4). So where are we most in trouble of breaking into war? Russia? North Korea? China? I really can't follow it anymore, and the political garbage truly bores the hell out of me. There are people on social media who speak with such hatred...and it isn't based on anything other than the (R) or the (D). Facts don't matter. It's all about the hate for the other side...and that's boring.

Hell, I don't even hate the Suck Sux that much!

5). The last month or so has been absolutely wonderful in the sports world because I'm sharing so much with the boys. I'd never follow the NBA or NHL other than a passing glance if it weren't for them...and each day we have something to share. There's nothing better than:

"Hey Dad, did you see this?"

Than they will show me a clip of a buzzer-beater or a great save or a vicious hit. Sam and me were catching a game between the Bulls and the Wizards the other day when it occurred to me:

There's an expiration date on being able to share things with the kids. Sooner or later they will be up and out and I will be watching alone.

(Damn! That's a depressing sentence!)

I'll be stuck watching Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper movies on a loop when it's just me and my beautiful wife!

Go Bulls!

Monday, April 28, 2014

No Need to Apologize!

We've all been watching Joan Rivers for a lot of years.

Quick, what do you think of when her name pops into your head?

The bad face-lifts?

Her banter with her daughter?

The fact that she sat in for Johnny all those years ago?

For me, it's always been about the fact that she'd say anything at any time, she is usually funny, and she has an acid tongue.

That's her job!

She tells jokes.

The jokes sometimes cross the line into bad taste. Yet, she's not a bad lady. She is a joke teller.

Last week she was on the Today Show and she told a joke about her living quarters being smaller than those of the Cleveland hostage and rape victims.

It probably wasn't the right place to deliver that line. The joke is certainly in bad taste, and it's not a joke worth pissing everyone off because it isn't that funny, but it's a joke nonetheless, right?

Wrong. Evidently.

The outcry has been harsh. The Today Show issued an apology. Rivers refuses to do so.

And you know what?

She shouldn't.

She was telling a joke!

She was who they thought she was!

What was the show expecting out of Joan Rivers? Why do you have Joan Rivers on your show?

She was on there to tell jokes.

One of them bombed, I guess, but to say she's sorry?

A few weeks ago Ralph Wilson died. Evidently he was the Pope of Buffalo because he accepted millions upon millions of dollars and didn't follow through on his threats to move them because he got every penny he needed, and more.

On the day of his death I posted the following item on Facebook:

"If you're sick of being broken up about Ralph, you can watch the Sabres get absolutely pummeled in about an hour."

I was accused of being an insensitive as&*$le.

But like Joan, I refused to bend.

Who was the punchline of Joan's joke?

She was. Much as the Sabres were the punchline of mine.

She didn't say, "I'm glad those kids were taken hostage and raped."

I didn't say, "I'm glad Ralph is dead."

People are certainly becoming overly sensitive these days and if you try and shut down the comedians in this world it's gonna' be an awfully boring place.

Don't apologize, Joan!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sterling?

Donald Sterling, the owner of the Clippers basketball team has long been known as something of a idiot. He was sued by his former general manager, Elgin Baylor, who claimed that there was discrimination of the age and race variety.

A whole bunch of women that he employed also claimed that he was particularly abusive, bullying them in sexual ways.

His players always claimed that he was exceptionally cheap. The fans raged against him, and for years and years he has been long considered the worst owner in sports.

But nothing has ever stuck to him.

Because he's a billionaire.

He's bought his way out of things. The rest of the owners have put up with him. The NBA has kow-towed to him. The players just don't have that sort of power.

He behaved badly. Oh well. Deal with it. He's the Donald of the West.

Money controls a whole lot of situations.

But I think the 76-year-old alleged racist, alleged sexist, alleged bullying pig has finally stepped into a big enough pile of crap.

TMZ has produced a tape of Sterling lambasting his half-black, half-Hispanic girlfriend for having posted a photo of her with Magic Johnson.

It's an appalling tape of audio.

Sterling in clear voice is explaining that he doesn't want blacks in a photo with her. He doesn't even want them at 'his games.'

That's the nice part of the tape.

But it calls to mind a couple of questions.

1). Does the moron know that she's black?

2). Does the idiot understand that most of the players on his team - which is actually a half decent team, for once - are mostly black?

3). Can the goofy bastard understand that Magic is something of a legend in the basketball community?

Yet, as I listened to the tape, I felt mostly sad. There wasn't a whole lot of anger there, it was pretty much mostly sadness.

Because I know people who speak in such a manner...

...and truly feel that way.

In 2014...there's still a pretty heavy percentage of the population that hates a segment of society based on their heritage.

It's sort of treated like a dirty little secret nowadays. The media talks about the strides that have been made.

"We have a black man as president, for crying out loud!"

But there's still a lot of hatred for particular races...in a lot of areas...

And you'll hear a lot about the fact that Sterling's generation was of that mindset, but it's not about a generation. It's about the individual.

Each individual deserves to be judged on their own merits that has nothing to do with their race, or sex, or sexual orientation.

And perhaps I'll go out on a limb here and judge Sterling for his alleged actions.

He's an alleged idiotic rat bastard.

And I hope he can't buy his way out of the mess he made on his own.

There's no room for that man in sports...

...or anywhere else in a compassionate society.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Get Lucky

Absolutely love this song by Mark Knopfler and I always think of the same guy when it comes across the I-pod.

When I was just getting out of college I worked with a guy in California. He spoke to me about not judging what another man does. He would jump from job to job and town to town....just like the guy in the song...and he was a pretty happy dude.

Makes you wonder, when your eyes go blind and your blood runs cold, about how much easier it would be to live a real simple life.

So, wherever you are, Zane Conway...hope you're getting lucky...now and then.

Zane also told me something I'd never forget and I remember it word for word. He said: "All these guys in suits and ties are making judgments, but let me tell you, some of the most intelligent people in this world sweep floors for a living."


Get Lucky

I'm better with my muscles
Than I am with my mouth
I worked the fairgrounds in the summer
And go pick fruit down south

And when I'm feel them chilly winds
Where the weather goes I follow
Pack up my traveling things go with the swallows

And I might get lucky now and then
You win some, you might get lucky now and then
You win some

I wake up every morning
Keep on eye on what I spent
Gotta think about eating
Gotta think about paying the rent

I always think it's funny
It gets me everytime
I wonder about the happiness and money
Tell it to the breadline

But you might get lucky now and then
You win some, you might get lucky now and then
You win some

Now I'm rambling through this meadow as happy as a man can be
Think I just lay me down under this old tree
On and on we go through this old world of shuffling
If you got a truffle dog, you can go truffling

But you might get lucky now and then
You win some, you might get lucky now and then
You win some

Friday, April 25, 2014

Bruuuuuuuuccccceeeeee! 33rd Edition


The driving around the City of Pittsburgh is brutal! We were following the voice of the GPS lady and she was taking us down side streets, up hills, down into valleys and through construction work where the guide rails were inches away from both sides of the truck.

"I feel like I'm in a video game," I said at one point.

But we made it.

We swiped my credit card and headed for the escalator, figuring we'd have to go up a level.

"You're in the premium section," the usher told us.

"How the hell did you do that?" I asked my beautiful wife.

"I don't know. I just ordered them off the computer."

And we headed to our seats. Our vantage point is shown above. We settled in and the woman behind me tapped me on the shoulder.

"How many have you been to?" She asked.

"This is number 33," I said.

I was a little embarrassed as it makes me sound like a nutcase, but it's been over 30 years!

"I lost count at 75," she said.

The guy to her left said he was well over 100.

Then a couple sat beside us and the woman promptly showed me a photo of her hugging Bruce from behind as he sang a song a month ago in Columbus.

"I got to play the guitar when he held it into the pit during Born to Run," she said.

We could've all traded stories all night long, I imagine, but Bruce came blasting out at 8:06 p.m.

He didn't take a single break.

The band played 29 songs...about 15 or so that I'd never seen them perform. Bruce left the stage at 11:15 p.m.

"He got a haircut," Kathy said at one point.

And that's when it hit me. We know him so well from seeing him perform once a year that even a subtle change such as a haircut is big news.

He slid across the stage. He jumped up onto the piano. He was on his back on the pit being pushed to the stage. He didn't stop for a minute, and he ended the show seated at the piano singing Dream Baby Dream begging the audience to "keep the fire burning".

A long time ago I heard Bruce in an interview. He was trying to explain his popularity to his then-young kids.

"I'm like Barney for adults," he told them.

Indeed.

I hope he comes around again soon.

You can never have too much Barney.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

America's Past Time


The first step through the tunnel to catch a glimpse of the field is awesome. PNC Park in Pittsburgh is a true gem. It's just a beautiful park that was perfectly designed.

We were fortunate to be in great seats.

I'm talking tremendous seats. We were in the second row just 15 feet from first base. My beautiful wife did a great job of planning the trip and grabbed the seats along with help from Sam.

It's a great place to see a game. Joey Votto is one of the best players in the game and he was doing his thing less than 20 feet away.

The game looks simpler from that vantage point. We could gauge the speed of the pitches, we saw how quickly the players move around the bases. There was a throw from the deep outfield to the plate that made us all just shake our heads.

Yet the game was secondary to the memory that we made on Monday night.

The boys brought one glove in order to grab a foul ball (none came close) but Sam also brought a clean hardball just in case there was a chance that one of the players came by to sign autographs.

The Reds Todd Frazier stopped by. Sam was able to get the ball to him and he signed it quickly.

"That was awesome," Sam said. "I'm going to root for him to get a hit."

Frazier got three hits, going 3-4.

Then it was Jake's turn. The Reds all-star 2nd basemen made it to the rail just five minutes before the game was to start. The last autograph he signed was Jake's. Watching from a little ways away I saw Jake say something and then Phillips laughed out loud and touched Jake on the shoulder before heading away.

"What did you say?" I asked.

"I told him three homers or I'd be highly disappointed."

Phillips also went 3 for 4. In his first at-bat he went high off the right field wall for a double and the boys laughed.

The game came down to the last inning. It was tied at 5 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. The entire night had been fun, but did we really need extra innings?

We didn't get it.

The game ended with a single to right and a play at the plate.

The home team (the Pirates) won and the fireworks went off.

Phillips and Frazier walked off disappointed, but I'll root for them from now on because they made my boys smile.

"It was a great game," I said as we hustled off. I asked Sam and Jake to stop for a photo near the bright green grass with the backdrop of the beautiful stadium behind them, but true to their nature they both looked straight down at the ground and wouldn't smile for the photo.

They thought it was funny.

Two dorks at a baseball game.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Best

My brother Jim has taken charge as the host of the celebrations. He cooks enough for 50 people every time we get together even if there are only a dozen of us. Easter was no exception.

The food was tremendous and there was enough for our gathering as well as the neighbors and their families had they stopped by.

We ate, talked and watched the Yankees win...all great things.

After dinner my brother John disappeared with two of my kids and his daughters. I heard a lot of cheering coming up from the basement level. A half an hour later John was standing in front of me.

"Let's go, we're playing fooseball downstairs, and let me tell you, your kids are horrendous, but Sam never shuts up about what he's going to do."

I laughed.

Sounded about right. Even though Sam had never played the game before he was going to talk a great game.

So I headed down and took Sam on my team as we played John and Jake.

Everything was familiar about it. We were playing on the same table that had been in my parents home. I was back playing goal. Sam was chirping. John and Jake were laughing at him. We got killed, like 10-4.

So we ran it back.

The game started to come back to me a little and as we played I thought of the countless games we'd play in the basement of my parent's home. John and Jeff against me and Jim.

Hour after hour.

The game was much closer, but Sam was a bit of a liability. We lost again. 10-8.

Then Jim came down the stairs and suddenly it was even more weird.

Three-fourths of the game was intact.

Which sucked.

I didn't abandon Sam and together we faced John and Jim.

Five scores into the game Sam was caught up in the action.

"You guys take this seriously," he said.

I scored on a long shot.

"You're all a little intense," Sam added.

John's shots against me were familiar. I remembered Jim's go-to-moves from when he played on my team all those years.

We battled hard.

I know that all three of us were thinking the same sort of things. Jeff had been the best player of all of us. He had been lightning quick with his shots.

9-9.

We were playing for all the marbles. Sam was telling John about how he'd score the winner on a blast from the center.

But it wasn't to be.

Jim scored on me for the win.

As we headed home Sam was full of questions about how we had played so intensely.

"We played every night as kids," I said.

"Was Uncle Jeff good too?" Sam asked.

"The best," I said.

The best.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

With the Help of Thy Grace

Headed to early Easter Mass which meant I was going alone. The dog's ride around the neighborhood put me a little behind and I walked into the Mass a little before eight.

The place was jam packed.

A sold-out show doesn't normally happen at the early Mass, but it was standing room only. And I'm still not great standing for a full hour, but I went for it.

During the service I had a chance to look around at the gathering. A screaming baby over there. An elderly couple right in front of me.

I could almost pick out the once a year attendees because they were more dressed up than us seasoned veterans. The priest was talking to them too, trying to get them back in the fold a bit.

And I kept looking, and thinking.

In that gathering there were people suffering with all sorts of problems.

Sickness.

Grieving death.

Money problems.

Fighting with their spouses.

Everyone praying for one thing or another.

Just before the start of communion I kicked into an Act of Contrition prayer.

It's one of the automatic prayers that I've been saying for 44 years or so. Yet this time I got caught on a line:

With the help of thy grace.

And I thought:

That's a great line.

And it was what all of the members of that packed house were gunning for.

A little help of Thy Grace.

I shook hands with the group in front of me at the sign of peace and what I thought of was what I truly enjoy about the church-going experience.

I like the community feel of it all.

Here's hoping that all those who arrived at church for their twice a year service find a bit of that grace and feel that sense of community.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Hockey Time

Here in the Northeast we have a lot of people who really enjoy the sport of hockey.

Especially during playoff times.

Of course the Sabres were edged out of a playoff spot, just missing, by 41 points. It's gonna' be a long time until they see a playoff game down at the arena.

But that hasn't stopped people from Buffalo from watching. There are ex-Sabres scattered all over the league so there's some rooting for them to do well.

But not me.

I won't see even a second of the NHL playoffs which stretch out over the next few months.

And at the risk of pissing off Gag and Jeffy...here's why.

1). Hockey used to be a great sport of true artistry. Back in the late 80's and early 90's Gretzky and Lemieux were allowed to skate and create. The guy who led the league in scoring this year had 108 points. Gretzky had 92 goals one year and 219 points back then! The game was fluid and exciting. Now it is slow and prodding.

2). Why is it so slow now? Big pads on the goalies, huge pads on all other players too. Now when there's an offensive threat everyone gets in a circle down low in front of the goalies. No one is afraid to block shots because they're all padded up. You can't even score on a shot from the wing or the face off circle. Now it's like pinball. Shoot it off the back of someone's ass and hope it goes in. There are a few creative players left - Crosby, Datsuyk, Ovechkin - the best of whom scored 51 goals this past year. One guy scored more than 50! Mogilny scored 76 here in sad old Buffalo back twenty years ago...and I'm not sure he led the league that year!

3). At least the playoffs don't live with the ridiculous overtime rules of the regular season. Two points for a win. 1 point for losing in overtime or...don't get me started...the shoot-out.

First off, no one tries at all in the last ten minutes of a tie game. They both want their point. So they skate in circles, get it and go to OT where they suddenly change the rules of the game and try to decide it in a 4 on 4.

Brutal.

Yet if the tie still isn't broken they start the skills competition. That's like ending a football game tied and deciding it by throwing balls through a tire from ten yards out.

Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

4). And I still defer to the players. NHL players are the nicest guys of the bunch. I've met a lot of professional athletes through the years and the only good guys were hockey players. And they're tough as hell. A guy last year played a period and an overtime with a punctured lung. He scored the winning goal and nearly coded in the ambulance after the game. I enjoy the hitting, but...

5). The fighting is ridiculous. Every year someone assaults another guy with deadly force. How is that just played off as part of the game? I can think of a few instances where a guy smashed another guy over the head with his stick. If he did that on the street he'd be looking at 7 to 10.

So there you have it.

Enjoy the playoffs.

The other night I was being sent text messages about a 3-3 game that was heading into overtime.

I'd already witnessed two home runs, two triples, a bang-bang play at the plate and a triple play.

The baseball game started at 7:10 and ended at 9:50.

The hockey game started at 7:30 and ended at 12:36.

The winning goal went in off someone's ass.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

An Easter Story

Jeremy's Egg




Jeremy was born with a twisted body, a slow mind and a chronic, terminal illness that had been slowly killing him all his young life. Still, his parents had tried to give him as normal a life as possible and had sent him to St. Theresa's Elementary School.

At the age of 12, Jeremy was only in second grade, seemingly unable to learn. His teacher, Doris Miller, often became exasperated with him. He would squirm in his seat, drool and make grunting noises. At other times, he spoke clearly and distinctly, as if a spot of light had penetrated the darkness of his brain. Most of the time, however, Jeremy irritated his teacher. One day, she called his parents and asked them to come to St. Teresa's for a consultation.

As the Forresters sat quietly in the empty classroom, Doris said to them, "Jeremy really belongs in a special school. It isn't fair to him to be with younger children who don't have learning problems. Why, there is a five-year gap between his age and that of the other students!"

Mrs. Forrester cried softly into a tissue while her husband spoke. "Miss Miller," he said, "there is no school of that kind nearby. It would be a terrible shock for Jeremy if we had to take him out of this school. We know he really likes it here."

Doris sat for a long time after they left, staring at the snow outside the window. Its coldness seemed to seep into her soul. She wanted to sympathize with the Forresters. After all, their only child had a terminal illness. But it wasn't fair to keep him in her class. She had 18 other youngsters to teach and Jeremy was a distraction. Furthermore, he would never learn to read or write. Why waste any more time trying?

As she pondered the situation, guilt washed over her. "Oh God," she said aloud, "here I am complaining when my problems are nothing compared with that poor family! Please help me to be more patient with Jeremy."

From that day on, she tried hard to ignore Jeremy's noises and his blank stares. Then one day he limped to her desk, dragging his bad leg behind him. "I love you, Miss Miller," he exclaimed, loudly enough for the whole class to hear. The other children snickered, and Doris' face turned red. She stammered, "Wh-Why, that's very nice, Jeremy. Now please take your seat."

Spring came, and the children talked excitedly about the coming of Easter. Doris told them the story of Jesus, and then to emphasize the idea of new life springing forth, she gave each of the children a large plastic egg. "Now," she said to them, "I want you to take this home and bring it back tomorrow with something inside that shows new life. Do you understand?"

Yes, Miss Miller!" the children responded enthusiastically - all except for Jeremy. He just listened intently, his eyes never left her face. He did not even make his usual noises. Had he understood what she had said about Jesus' death and resurrection? Did he understand the assignment? Perhaps she should call his parents and explain the project to them. That evening, Doris' kitchen sink stopped up. She called the landlord and waited an hour for him to come by and unclog it. After that, she still had to shop for groceries, iron a blouse and prepare a vocabulary test for the next day. She completely forgot about phoning Jeremy's parents.

The next morning, 19 children came to school, laughing and talking as they placed their eggs in the large wicker basket on Miss Miller's desk. After they completed their Math lesson, it was time to open the eggs. In the first egg, Doris found a flower. "Oh yes, a flower is certainly a sign of new life," she said. "When plants peek through the ground we know that spring is here." A small girl in the first row waved her arms. "That's my egg, Miss Miller," she called out.

The next egg contained a plastic butterfly, which looked very real. Doris held it up. "We all know that a caterpillar changes and grows into a beautiful butterfly. Yes that is new life, too" Little Judy smiled proudly and said, "Miss Miller, that one is mine."

Next Doris found a rock with moss on it. She explained that the moss, too, showed life. Billy spoke up from the back of the classroom. "My Daddy helped me!" he beamed.

Then Doris opened the fourth egg. She gasped. The egg was empty! Surely it must be Jeremy's, she thought, and, of course, he did not understand her instructions. If only she had not forgotten to phone his parents. Because she did not want to embarrass him, she quietly set the egg aside and reached for another.

Suddenly Jeremy spoke up. "Miss Miller, aren't you going to talk about my egg?" Flustered, Doris replied, "but Jeremy - your egg is empty!" He looked into her eyes and said softly, "Yes, but Jesus' tomb was empty too!"

Time stopped. When she could speak again. Doris asked him, " Do you know why the tomb was empty?"

"Oh yes!" Jeremy exclaimed. "Jesus was killed and put in there. Then his Father raised him up!"

The recess bell rang. While the children excitedly ran out to the school yard, Doris cried. The cold inside her melted completely away.

Three months later Jeremy died. Those who paid their respects at the mortuary were surprised to see 19 eggs on top of his casket, all of them empty.

-Author Unknown


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Except Your Father

In a long-time family situation there are a lot of 'what-ifs' considered.

My beautiful wife was playing around one day (at least I think she was) as she asked the kids:

"Who would you rather live with, me or your father?"

Much to her surprise, (I believe she was putting the question to them just so she could prove that she was more popular with them than I am), the kids chose me.

All of 'em.

"He's easier," Sam said.

I guess I give into the little dorks more than Kathy does.

"He's a much better cook," Jake added.

"He's got more money," Matt said.

I must answer each of those character traits assigned to me:

1). I am easy...I do give in. I might yell a little, but I don't want them sad. I give them everything and Kathy is stuck being the bad guy.

2). I am a waaaaaaaaaaay better cook. Mostly because I consider it more. Dinner sneaks up on everyone else in the house. They think about it 5 minutes before they want to eat. That doesn't work.

3). She has waaaaaaaaaaay more money than I do because of #1 - I'm easy. My beautiful wife plays me way worse than any of the kids do.

But that was a surprise.

They'd rather live with me.

Then the direction of the conversation shifted away from such a subject. However, Sam made some sort of remark that made Kathy say:

"Of course I would die for you. I would die for anyone in this family."

I had just walked in on the conversation and when my beautiful wife caught a glimpse of me this is what she said:

"Except for your father. I wouldn't give up my life to save his."

Isn't that lovely, people?

"He's lived a long time," Kathy said by way of explanation.

Sam was laughing, of course.

"Isn't that heart-warming?" I asked.

"Come on! You'd give up your life for me?" she asked.

"Not now!" I answered. "Not now that I know the score."

So, there you have it...just some normal, every day banter.

I get no respect, I tell ya'.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Hamburg Sun - Dogs On Main Street Article


Seek the Promised Land in new novel by a Blasdell resident
Thursday April 17, 2014 | By:Alicia Greco, The Sun staff reporter | News


DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN — Cliff Fazzolari has recently published his 11th novel, which was inspired by Bruce Springsteen and redemption. Photo submitted by Fazzolari.


BLASDELL — Cliff Fazzolari’s 10th book, written about and dedicated to the life of his brother, was going to be his last work. Until Fazzolari began writing again, and released his fiction novel Dogs on Main Street in mid-March.

The Blasdell resident, formerly of North Collins, graduated from Gannon University in Erie, Pa. He wrote Oh Brother! The Life & Times of Jeff Fazzolari about his sibling who passed away at a young age. He said that the few nonfiction books in his repertoire were “tough to write.”

That, his 10th novel, took him to the New York Book Festival award ceremony in Manhattan, in addition to London, Paris, Hollywood, Los Angeles and New England book festivals. He said that it was “a room full of people, and I was writing about my brother. So you’re just overwhelmed. With the whole event in New York City talking about him, it is really quite an honor.”

After he put down his pen, Fazzolari said that his friend and Hamburg resident Jeff Popple asked him, “When are you gonna write me something, b----?”

“We were watching a lot of Breaking Bad at that time,” Fazzolari said, with a laugh. He said that his friend’s statement helped him realize that he had a responsibility to go back to the bits and pieces of the story he had begun, and finish writing it.

Dogs on Main Street is a story inspired by Bruce Springsteen. Fazzolari has been a fan of “The Boss” since he was 12 years old. After this month, he will have seen Springsteen in concert 33 times.

“I was like, ‘Hey, what if...’ and those are always the best stories,” he said. His new article follows a fictional group that used to follow Springsteen in the ‘80s. The friends reunite, in an effort to meet the star and in the hope of finding some answers to the questions in their lives.

“I started writing it, and I was having fun,” Fazzolari said. “The best part about fiction is you control everything. After writing nonfiction, and the sadness that got through to my life, I was like, this is so much fun again.”

The author said that the characters of the story reflect the persons about whom Springsteen sings. They are “trying to survive and keep their head above water, and have some type of faith.

“This book itself is just a fun ride,” he added. “But there’s an overtone that, when you’re looking for redemption, sometimes you find the thing you’re looking for, along the way. By accident, [the characters] are able to find a little bit of happiness.”

Fazzolari said that his characters “are all kind of messed up in their own way, like everybody is.” With a plan to attend five concerts in five cities, the group drums up schemes to meet Springsteen.

Dogs on Main Street is not a novel for only Springsteen fans; there is a universal appeal to it, the author said, but he added that true Boss fanatics will be entertained by certain references.

Self-published by the author, this book was printed under Fazzolari Books. Eden resident Chris Colantino, a self-proclaimed avid reader of the author and a friend of Fazzolari’s, did the design work for the book cover.

Fazzolari said that he will enter this novel into the New York Book Festival, and hopes to set up readings around the Hamburg area.

Dogs on Main Street is available for purchase on amazon.com and Kindle®; email Fazzolari directly, at cliffordfc@roadrunner.com.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Holy Week

My 49-year-old knees ache with the thought of Holy Week.

You see, my mind always plays a trick on me during the Holy Week leading up to Easter as I think back to my altar boy days.

(Yeah, I was a dedicated altar boy...you didn't think I got this nice without training, did you?)

Holy Week is pure torture on a dedicated altar boy.

First off, there's church every day!

Even though we didn't have to go to school, we had to show up at the front of the church. We also had to do the stand-up, kneel down, with the big cross deal during the stations of the cross.

I swear, 40 years later I think about the one day when we were just passing every single station...saying the rosary with the gathering of old ladies who were running their beads through their hands.

"How many more we got?" My buddy Al DeCarlo had whispered to me at one point.

"A thousand," I whispered back.

We both giggled and the priest scowled at us.

I think of it all because there are so many rituals that seem forgotten now. We head to church, but the kids weren't altar boys (those perverted priests throughout the land sort of soiled that deal), but as a kid, we felt important doing that, and growing up in the 1970's, that was sort of expected.

And I kinda' miss it too.

The standing for what seemed like 5 days during the Palm Sunday reading where the priest always played Jesus and the gathering played the murderous crowd while a guy from the crowd played Pontius Pilate.

And what a story it is.

No matter how many times you read it through, you feel all of the pain. The Greatest Story Ever Told some would say.

But back to those old days...

...the nuns were cranky.

The priest was acting as if we were actually responsible for making Jesus carry that cross.

The smiles were rare.

We were all walking up that hill...and the pain in our legs was ever-present.

As a kid it was always weird, you know?

We'd hear that story and then suddenly we'd celebrate it with the story of a bunny delivering chocolate.

Yet I certainly still feel different during this week leading up to Easter, I suppose. After all, rising from this world to the next is the basis for all of the living that we do.

When you really consider it...

...it makes you want to pick up the beads.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Me Lady

Is anyone following the Oscar Piss-torius trial?

You remember him, right?

He ran without legs in the Olympics, became a folk hero, grew into a Grade-1 self-entitled a-hole, and then blasted away his beautiful girlfriend as she cowered in the bathroom and he pretended that he was scared of an intruder.

Not to mention the fact that his neighbors heard him screaming bloody murder at her in the hours before he "accidentally" shot her.

Well, he's putting on a real show now.

The trial has muddled along because he has been breaking down in the courtroom every three sentences or so. He's in so much grief over the fact that he made a tragic mistake that he just can't pull himself together.

Yet he is also aware that his fate is in the hands of just the judge.

(There's no jury system down there).

So, he keeps buttering up the judge by calling her "Me Lady" as he concludes each fabricated sentence.

And I'm not in the courtroom and I certainly haven't heard all the evidence, but I can judge from here, can't I?

Let's just review.

It's the middle of the night and you hear a noise.

What's your first instinct?

To grab your gun and start blasting at the origin of the sound?

Wouldn't you turn around and see if the "love of your life" was in bed beside you first?

You'd see she were missing by accident, wouldn't you?

Where did he think she was?

Under the bed?

It's weird...and all deserve their day in court...but how much more evidence do you need than that?

How many more questions do you need other than:

'What did you think when you saw she wasn't in the bed beside you?'

Of course, Piss-torius couldn't possibly answer that because he's too busy blubbering to save his own skin.

Here's hoping, Me Lady, blasts him with the maximum penalty.

I really would be bothered if his fame and act gets him out from under this.

Show the world, Me Lady, that the fame doesn't get you a out of jail free card.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

S(c)am Artist


So on Thursday evening Sam and I were seated beside one another going over the baseball scores as they came in. We are in the same baseball fantasy league and believe me, every time on of his guys does something I hear it.

"Longoria just doubled," he said. "He's on my team, in case you didn't know."

And of course, I only have myself to blame. He doesn't let a chance at a dig go by. He will debate you on each and every topic under the sun. He doesn't even care if he's right. He'll battle you.

Just like the old man.

"Say, Aunt Corinne was honored for her breast cancer work," he said.

"Did you congratulate her?" I asked.

"I'm doing better than that," he answered. "I'm going to lunch with her tomorrow."

"Are you buying?" I asked.

"Don't be silly," he said.

And the above photo is a shot of Sam trying a stuffed clam. I can tell him a certain food is good and he'll never take my word for it, but his Aunt could get him to try a stuffed maggot.

"It was good," he said when he returned home.

24 hours later we were back at it.

Corinne, Chuck, Mom, Jake and me were all at the table eating steaks and lobster tails courtesy of the season-long football bet.

Sam took his uncle to the woodshed in 2013.

And we ate, and laughed and Sam went straight at Chuck, telling him that it really wasn't much fun because he'd won by so much.

But he knows.

It's all about the companionship. Sam can't wait to pick teams again next season. The phone calls back and forth between the two during the year are highly entertaining.

"So, you had a pretty nice couple of days," I said to Sam as he picked at the chicken on his Sunday dinner plate.

"What's that 8th place?" he asked.

We were back to talking about fantasy baseball.

"We're in 4th and you're in 8th. It must suck to suck."

I left the room without answering.

Now I know why people do that to me sometimes.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Working On Being A Memory

The professional golfer, John Daley is an interesting guy.

You know him. He's the big hitter. He was the big eater, the big gambler, the big drinker, the guy who couldn't stay out of his own way.

Daley is also a great golfer and there's some question on whether or not he wasted some of that talent. In any regard, he's always interesting to all of us who like to hit a golf ball on the weekends.

We root for him because he can take a ten on a hole and just shrug it off.

'He's like us,' we think, but he's really not. He's a talented golfer, but he sort of looks like us.

And he doesn't always do it the politically correct way.

I remember an interview he did a while back when he won a golf tournament, got the million dollar payoff, went to Vegas, and lost most of it while playing slots. He was betting $500 a pull.

Whoever was interviewing him was beside himself.

"Were you nervous betting that much money?

"No, but I got real excited when I hit a couple of cherries."

And that's how Daley lived his life back then. Piss on caution. Go for it! The hell with the consequences! Go big or go home!

I happened upon a Daley interview this week on the Dan Patrick Show.

Time has zapped some of that all or nothing mentality.

Daley has had lap band surgery. He doesn't drink alcohol, but he smokes a massive amount of cigarettes each day.

Patrick asked him about his love of Diet Cokes.

"I only drink about a quarter of what I used to," he said. "So only like ten or twelve a day."

He's not golfing very well now. He said that he has the yips.

Patrick asked him if he had regrets. Dan wondered if he ever thought about how many tournaments he could have won had he applied himself in the prime of his life.

A lesson we all wonder about in our own lives.

"Someday I'm just gonna' be a memory to people," he said. "We all are. Life is just about being a memory."

Patrick laughed.

But I thought it was a wonderful line coming from where Daley sits now.

His long, booming drives are a memory now, but he once went for it, big-time, and he got a taste.

"Can you still win?"

"I will," Daley said. "Someday I'll win again."

Dream big.

Make the memory.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Barney Rubble: What An Actor

There was a time in my life when I lived about 5 minutes from where I worked. For those of you reading Dogs On Main Street it was in my luxury rats-nest apartment that was 27 steps away from the gas station-convenience store.

Living so close to where I worked was important because if I timed it right I could be at my kitchen table eating a few salami sandwiches as The Flintstones theme music started.

Yep...as a 25-year-old man my number one quest was to catch the Stones on a daily basis.

I'd like to say it also saved me time as I could clean the place up on my lunch break, but I didn't clean a whole helluva' lot...until I became a husband.

Anywhoha...

My favorite episode of The Flintstones was the one where Barney made counterfeit money in his basement and Fred did everything he could to try and keep his bosom buddy from passing the fake bills.

Why don't they put that show on Net Flix?

I thought of all this when I read the story about a woman here in Buffalo who was trying to pass a counterfeit twenty at a local McDonald's. She tried to slip it through as she waited in the drive-thru lane and when the nosy, bitch clerk figured it out, the lady took off without her change or the garbage food they serve.

And she forgot all about the camera.

The cops busted her and the lady got her picture and name in the paper.

Where the hell was Fred when she needed him?

Yet I often wonder what one of those bad bills looks like. Is it something they do on a home computer or on a photo copier?

Barney used a hand crank machine of some sort, but he also wore a bookie hat and a eye patch, I think.

(We all know that Barney was a terrific actor - he played the shit out of that part).

Yet doesn't your heart catch a little when you hand a cashier a big bill and she holds it up to the light or scratches it with a marker?

What if you had gotten duped and received a bad hundy, and then were accused of passing it?

That would suck, right?

I always tell the clerk that I made them at home. I told one young clerk:

"I made it this morning, like Barney Rubble."

"Who?" she asked.

The younger generation doesn't know Barney Rubble...

...that is the real crime, right there.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

It's Not the Same

It's really hard for me to imagine the kind of violence that went on at the school near Pittsburgh this past week.

It speaks to the changing times for sure. I don't want to sound too old, but back in my day...

...there was a fight every once in awhile across the street from the school. Kids would gather and watch the flying fists and if a teacher heard about it first, the fight wouldn't even get started.

I never fought anyone.

Not that there weren't people out there who wouldn't have minded taking a poke at me, but I had a tough older brother and my best buddy was man-size at the age of 13.

In fact, the only violence I ever really witnessed was administered by the teachers. I was seated right in front of a kid who mouthed off to an angry old guy who liked to hand out some brutal discipline. I didn't dare turn around as the wise-guy got pummeled in his seat.

It was scary, to be sure, but I was never attacked by a teacher either. (Other than the nuns who beat me to a pulp in grammar school).

Another teacher attacked about a half dozen students one day after he learned that they didn't behave when the substitute was in his seat the day before.

But deadly-type violence?

No. Thank God. There was no fear of it.

I'm not sure we would've even fathomed that a student would bring a weapon to school. There were some strange birds to be sure. There were kids who were heavily into drugs. Other kids hated everything about school including the teachers, the homework, and the boredom. We had loners. We had heavy metal guys. There were ugly kids, fat kids, bullies and fodder for bullies.

But no one attacked like Columbine or last week.

Did they?

Every once in awhile someone who wants to defend the weapon in the scenario will say there have always been such violent attacks, but that the media glorifies them now.

I even heard from all the pro-gun guys last week as they seemed almost ecstatic that it was a knife.

Thank God that kid didn't have a gun, but that isn't the point.

It's different.

I'm not sure my parents feared that perhaps a kid could gun us down in the hallways. It probably never even crossed their minds.

We've crossed a dangerous line, I'm afraid...and we've sort of accepted it as normal.

Gun, knife, poison or strategically placed bombs, we've turned a corner.

And not even the kids are safe.

And it won't ever be the same as it was.

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Story About Smiles

There are way too many sports stories that are filled with liars, cheaters, criminals and thugs. The Bills recently signed a guy who's been in trouble with the law on a regular basis for a lot of years. Most of the comments that came along with the signing were:

"Who cares, as long as he can play?"

Yet character is a real important factor when evaluating these guys...at least for me...

And finally!

A heartwarming, but sad story.

Adreian Payne is a 7' basketball player. He just finished up his season and career at Michigan State. I got to know him because he was pissing us off!

He kept drilling long shots and neither Sam nor I had picked Michigan State to advance.

"He's a good player," I said to Sam. "I wish someone would guard him! He's Cliff-ing shots from everywhere!"

And then Sam told me the story.

You see, Payne had befriended a young girl who was suffering from cancer. Lacey Holsworth took a shine to the player and vice-versa.

"They're really good friends," Sam told me as we watched the tourney. "They text each other, they color together, and he brought her to the games."

The story grew.

The media took a shine to a guy showing good character!

Imagine that.

And Payne didn't seem all that interested in making it a story, he genuinely just cared for young Lacey.

He talked about how she was drawn to his smile, but how her smile just tore him up inside.

Lacey died on Wednesday.

Payne talked about how her death just devastated him.

And I can see that.

His life was changed by that love.

It just had to be.

That smile and Lacey's struggle and death will stay with him for the rest of his life.

My boys talked about Payne all night on Wednesday. I could tell that they felt pain for a player that they had watched play (and even rooted against).

"I hope he's a star someday," Sam said.

He already is, kid. He already is.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Plugging Along


When I saw this photo I instantly thought of another Yankee great, Billy Martin, in the middle of a fight with another Yankee great, Reggie Jackson in the 1977 season. (There are a lot of Yankee greats).

You see, the two men hated one another and after Billy thought Reggie was dogging it on a fly ball he yanked Reginald from the game, in the middle of the inning, by sending Paul Blair out there to replace him.

"Don't be mad at me, Reggie," Blair supposedly said, "Billy sent me."

Well, Billy was plenty mad and by the time Reggie got to the dugout Billy was frothing at the mouth and wanted to fight Reggie.

"Are you crazy?" Reggie supposedly asked, "Look at the size of me, I'll kill you if we fight!"

"You're gonna' have to kill me to win the fight," Billy allegedly responded.

And there's little in Billy's background to doubt that was true.

I know some people like that.

Just determined people who aren't going to take 'NO' for an answer, and I'm thinking that Babe said it in the most positive of lights.

Just keep going, even when the odds are stacked against you.

And belief in your own abilities is a determining factor in a lot of situations where the outcome is a bit hairy. I've always liked that sort of dogged aggressiveness.

"Which one of you losers is gonna' finish second," Larry Bird said as he walked into the locker room at the 3-point shooting competition back when the big stars played in such games.

He wasn't bragging. That was exactly how it worked out. He won by a lot. No one remembers who finished second.

"I'll see you in the winner's circle," Wayne Gretzky once said as he answered a reporters questions before a big Game 7 back when he was with Edmonton.

Later that night Gretzky scored the winning goal after coming down the wing. The goalie who got burned on the play said that he had read the angle and figured that the only way Gretzky could possibly score was if he put it under his arm pit with the puck on it's side.

He thought about all that as Gretzky bore down.

Then he felt his shirt flutter and the crowd roared as the light went on.

At the post game interview someone asked Gretzky where he had put the puck.

"On end, under his arm pit."

See you in the Winner's circle.

Just keep plugging along.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Bitter Fruit

Man, some people are just bitter and mean on social media.

It's scary, actually.

And I suppose that people can just go on there and troll news stories and just jump all over other people without fear of being called on it.

I'm not talking the hit and run and joking around stuff that my friends and I are famous for. I'm talking the real mean crap.

Here in Buffalo Jim Kelly is fighting cancer. His family has decided to take that fight and make it public, and while some may wonder about the motives of why they'd wage their battle in such a public forum, I sort of take it at face value.

They are looking for prayer.

They also know that Jim is a public figure and rather than let his condition be reported by others, they have taken the lead, and I also believe that they are illuminating the cancer story for all those other people who suffer.

I truly believe that those are their motives. Their love is front and center and they are letting others know that they will face the battle in such a manner. They turned their son's illness and death into a positive and they are once more leading the way.

But on social media, every single time there's a photo published, the comment section is all about some real negative crap.

In fact, it's so bitter and mean that it really makes you wonder about the world.

But those aren't the only places either.

You can post something like:

"This cold weather is driving me nuts!"

And someone will jump down your throat:

"That's what you get for believing Al Gore and the rest of the crazy bastards who tried to shove global warming down our throats, you commie bastard!"

It really has become that volatile out there, folks.

And I sort of don't get it.

I enjoy a whole lot about social media. I'm talking with and joking with a lot of people who I haven't seen in years. Every once in awhile I'll get in a sports discussion with a writer from the local newspaper or even playful banter with Suck Sux or O's fans.

All in good fun.

Even a healthy debate is okay from time to time.

Until it gets bitter and mean.

"Why do we have to hear about HIS cancer? What about everyone else out there? He gets what he had coming to him!!!!"

Seriously?

Do people really feel like that?

Man, that's some bitter fruit.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

What People Do


It's amazing what people do to amuse themselves. I always laugh at the Comic book loving people who do all sorts of maddening things to chase their hobby.

Ah, well, some people think my attending Springsteen shows is weird, so to each his own, right?

But explain this:


It's funny, to be sure, but the entire family in such a ritual?

And look at Mom's costume...really?

What are those kids gonna' think about ten years from now?

Yet they're in a lot better shape than the kids in this family...

...I apologize in advance...

This is crazy and disturbing...


Yeah....

...that's a family celebrating a new member.

They're sitting in the birthing pool.

It takes all kinds, people.

Suddenly Captain America looks like a genius.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Steal A Lot If You're Gonna' Do It


Nothing like good old Bob Dylan singing a line. I remember when I first heard him sing this back in about 1980. I thought it was perfect.

And it's weird, you know?

Kathy bought me the book The Wolf of Wall Street for Christmas and instructed me to read it quickly because she wanted to see the movie.

I read most books quickly, but I got about fifty pages into that one and grew weary of the narrator telling me stories of basically stealing and living like a frat boy. I wasn't sure if it was supposed to be cute to me, but there was a real 'look at the funny thing I did' feel to it.

I set the book aside.

Then I read a NY Post article written by the wife of one of these Wall Street rip-off artists...the same wife of the guy who wrote the book...and it straight up pissed me off.

Those guys who stole all that money received slap on the wrist penalties and are living off some of the stolen money in mansions. They are running brand new scams on people. Living like kings.

Steal a lot, right Bob.

So, of course, the movie came into the house.

It's Leo, people...I see all his movies, all Bradley Cooper movies and Ryan Gosling, oh my God...Ben Affleck has been banned because of his anti-27-Time World Champion Greatest Franchise in the History of Organized Sports stance.

And the movie sickened me as well.

(Although Leo is great...and guys of my physical stature love Jonah Hill).

And that sort of stealing is going on every day.

Every single day.

And people do think it's cute.

But welfare fraud is ruining this country, dammit!

I wish I'd been with Bob when he wrote that line. I could've added my favorite phrase when talking about this subject:

You can steal more in a suit than you can in sweatpants.

Bob would've sang the shit out of that.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Frank the Tank

Back when we were in the 7th grade the chant that was all the rage in our circle of friends was:

Frank the Tank, President of the Chub Club.

It was for our close buddy, Frank, and while he wasn't thrilled with it, he laughed along and tried to come up with something brilliant to bust our chops about.

Well Frank turned 50 this past week and on Saturday we all gathered to surprise him.

He wasn't surprised at all.

Yet at least some of the guys who were there back in the 7th grade made it to the party. We had all shared so much through the years. Beer. Softball. Camping out. Fights over girls. Learning to drive. Birthdays when we were first allowed to drink legally.

And the funny thing about seeing long-time friends (I won't say old), is that the conversation from back then still seems to be running at the same pace.

There's no hiding crap from guys that know you that well. You can't pretend. They call you on the bullshit.

And that's a real comfortable feeling, you know?

But this was certainly a different party.

The pace, for one thing, is a helluva' lot different.

No one is trying to set a record for drinking beer, or eating chicken wings, or boasting about anything really. It's all just comfortable.

Yet we did talk a little about our health problems, I suppose.

My hip.

All of our vision.

Bum knees, blood pressure, doctor visits, MRI's...

...but we're still here, and it was done in a joking manner (of course) with very little whining. We didn't stand and talk, mind you, but we had a bunch of laughs.

Then we started talking about bedtimes.

I believe the night owl had a bed time of about 10 o'clock during the week. We joked that the 6 o'clock showing of the news, twenty years down the line, might be the one we watch as we get ready to go to sleep.

And a couple of people started to yawn at about 9 or so. One member of the group looked as if he might fall asleep right then and there. I honestly would've left a half an hour earlier than I did had I felt like getting up.

"I don't have the ambition to leave," I believe I said.

And it's not always that way. There are bursts of energy every now and again, but the instant passing of time wasn't lost on me.

"I still think there's room for me to be a better athlete," I said to someone.

(That got a good laugh).

But here we are at 50.

"Frank the Tank," I said as I shook my friend's hand.

He didn't even seem to hear the long ago tease.

Now I'm thinking there's a better than average shot that he couldn't hear it.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Just Have a C-Section

From the absolutely ridiculous column:

Daniel Murphy is the starting second basemen for the Hapless, Hopeless, New York Mets. He's also a brand new daddy, but those things mixed last week as Murphy's wife went into labor to have the child on Opening Day of the 2014 season.

That heartless bitch!

Well, to hear some people talk about her, that's the general feeling.

Murphy skipped the opening day ceremony and the team's game the next night so that he could watch his first child take its first breath of air and so he could help his wife through the procedure.

As you know, men are an integral part of the birthing process. If I hadn't been there for Kathy during the birth of our children she would certainly not have produced such wonderful off-spring.

I had to be there!

Yet, ridiculously, there has been a great debate.

Some of the sports talking heads have said that perhaps he could have missed one game...one day was enough...he had a responsibility to the team. He is paid a lot of money...

Blah...blah...blah...f&*%#ng blah!

But the goofiest thing said on the subject came from Boomer Esiason, a former NFL quarterback

Do you know the NFL doesn't pay taxes?

Good old Boomer said that proper plans should have been made. In one of the absolute dumbest things I've ever heard he said that Murphy's wife should have undergone a C-Section before opening day so that Daniel could go 0-4 during the first Mets loss.

They're 0-3 as of this writing, by the way.

Anywhoha...doesn't that take the cake?

What a moronic statement to make.

A C-section for the hell of it?

Murphy did the right thing. He put the love in his life first. He has 160 more games to play.

What would happen if something went wrong?

Don't you believe he might actually want to see his child during that first minute?

There was a Yankee game on when Sam was born.

I missed it.

(Well, most of it. They were only playing the Indians anyway and they won big...that was the year when they beat the hapless Mets for another World Series Championship - #26).

Yet I digress.

I wouldn't have wanted to miss the birth of my children for anything...certainly not work!

Birth is a miracle of epic proportions. Certainly more of a treasured memory than watching my teammates flail their way to the first of what will most likely be 90 losses.

Just have a C-Section.

What a freaking dope.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Fried Baloney and Onions Please

Lunch is no longer an event in my life.

I know that I spend a lot of time pretending that I'm a big fat guy, but I'm really not. I'm not that far out of shape.

(Shut-up, Pops).

I usually eat fairly well each day and as time has passed I've sort of started to...gasp...eat less.

I love eating. When the food is good, I'll eat and eat and eat. Growing up, with Mom and Dad cooking, the food was always good. When I have the time to cook right, I can still put some pasta or sausage or pork chops away.

But over the past year or so I've stopped eating like there's a gun to my head at lunch. In fact, it's usually just a single sandwich and sometimes I...gasp...try and eat something healthy.

But on Thursday at about 11:30 I happened across one of the big lunch wagons that has become all the rage around downtown Buffalo.

And I saw the sign.

"A pound of fried bologna on a hard roll with fried onions and mustard."

My hands were shaking as I forked over the five bucks.

You see, big fried bologna sandwiches are served on one of the golf courses around here. I usually scarf down one of those at the turn with the rest of the Grape Apes also doing the slam down the sandwich dance.

Hate to say it, guys...

...the sandwich I ate in my car while reading the sports made that golf club sandwich look like a PB&J. The pound of friend bologna was a single piece about the size of a bike tire.

I freaking devoured it.

Then I swore as loud as I could when I looked up from my frenzy and realized that the damn truck had moved on.

I wanted another one.

And it would have been too much, of course, but as I'm fond of telling my beautiful wife,

"There's something magical about eating enough to cause pain."

"Damn that was good," I whispered to the inside of my truck.

The aroma of the sandwich was still lingering. I thought about what a nutritionist might say about a nearly 50-year old man eating such a sandwich. I should be well into the grass-eating-until-fade portion of my culinary life, but I honestly dismissed such negative thinking quickly.

And I went on a neighborhood search for that damn truck.

The ending is sad.

I couldn't find her.

But Friday is a new day!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Staying Present


Living in the present is harder to do than you might think.

Since I saw this quote posted on Twitter, it's sort of rattled around in my tiny little brain, and you know what?

Thinking about it has helped a little bit.

First off, I'm not one of those people who say that you should never think about the past. I do think about it a lot. There's some pain involved with remembering people that I miss dearly, but I would never want to stop thinking of them.

I never want to forget the past.

Yet the things in the rear view mirror are much closer than they appear as well. It's so important not to get bogged down on the poor decisions that you've made in the past. You can't worry about the things you regret doing.

We all have certain regrets, but it drives me crazy sometimes when I hear people speak about how their relationship with their parents, or how something that happened to them so long ago, continues to weigh on them now.

There was a celebrity on Howard, I think...a while ago...who was speaking about how his bad relationship with his abusive old man tore at him each and every day and resulted in his demise as an adult himself.

"You're fifty!" Howard said. "You can't keep using that excuse."

The guy brushed it off...he was pissed off, actually, and while I certainly cannot speak of how a bad parent can tear you down (I was blessed), but Howard had a point.

There comes a time to put it away.

Somehow.

Yet the future is where my tough times lie.

I'm a pretty ambitious guy and sometimes I get overwhelmed by the work that's out there in front of me. I'll set up my schedule and then think:

"Damn! I can't get that all done!"

And it will weigh on me...and sour my lovely, happy-go-lucky attitude.

So...

...lately...

I've been saying just one word in those anxious moments:

Present.

And being present is a pretty cool place.

Be present with the family.

Be present when you're supposed to work.

It has worked...a little.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Rooting for Laundry

Let's review:

Ryan Fraud of the Milwaukee Brewers won the MVP of the League in 2012. He signed a $150 million contract.

He also tested positive for steroids immediately after the season ended.

He fought back.

He denied taking anything illegal and said the guy who collected his specimen was the imposter and was out to get him. He got the poor guy fired from his job. People were whispering but Fraud held a press conference and denied that he did anything other than polish his talents.

Cut to the middle of 2013.

Fraud was caught again.

This time he was quiet about the denials. When it was all about to be publicized he got injured. Then he took a 60-game suspension.

The fans in Milwaukee felt duped. There were jerseys in the park the rest of the year with the Braun taped over on the back of the jerseys.

Fraud was real quiet for a long time.

Then he apologized for his 'mistakes'. He supposedly apologized to the test-taker, but the apology was as lame as his denials in the first place.

He called himself an artist.

Whatever.

Who gives a crap?

Another cheater in a long line of cheaters.

Except yesterday...

...Fraud came up to bat in the first inning.

His first at-bat since the suspension.

And the poor clueless bastards in Milwaukee stood and cheered for him.

A standing ovation!

Someone please enlighten me...

...what the hell is wrong with people?

Is this the message we send to our kids?

Cheat, lie, be a fraud...we love you anyway?

Why?

Because he's wearing a shirt that says 'Milwaukee' across the front?

I don't get it.

(And before you hit me with A-Rod or Clemens when they were Yankees...I never once stood and cheered either of those idiots).

Here's hoping Ryan Fraud hits about .210 this year.

I just wanna' see if they cheer him then.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Information Available

It was funny, but the other night I was watching hoops and I received a message on Facebook. Someone who had read Dogs On Main Street had sent me a message, and while I didn't know the person very well, I enjoyed the message:

Hey just wanted to let you know that I loved the book. Great cover. I laughed. I cried. All in the right places, I think!

The great cover comments really make me smile, and I was certainly appreciative of the book comments. I wrote back and thanked her and told her it was fun to write fiction again.

And the cool part was that she sent a note back asking me a couple of questions.

Which set me off. I told her the back story on all the characters and let her know that the gas station robbery was pretty much true.

We traded texts back and forth and I kept getting deeper and deeper into why the characters did what they did. After a little while I realized that I was prattling on a little bit.

But that's almost as much fun as writing it.

There is so much time spent in plot development that when someone says:

Are you as big a Springsteen fan as Joseph?

I have plenty to say.

So...the behind the scenes a little...cause it's fun.

The story idea came to me as Kathy and I were scrambling for tickets to see Bruce on the 2012 tour. We wanted to get great seats and we were locked out of the room. As we tried to get back in I thought of running to Buffalo to get tickets for the 1983 tour. I had been fortunate enough to find an out-of-the-way Tops supermarket that was selling those seats and I scored four tickets.

I mentioned to Kathy that a lot of life had happened since the first Bruce show and I was off to the races in my mind.

'What if' is always the starting point:

What if there were a group of people who had tried their hands at life, and failed, and got together again trying for one last shot at redemption?

Then the characters:

Joseph is a bigger Springsteen fan than me, but put it this way: I didn't have to do a lot of research on the subject.

Layla had to be a character who suffered abuse. I've known a few women in such a position through the years; bright, beautiful women who suffer and often times fail. She needed to show Joseph the way a bit.

Rolando was really the guy who worked at the gas station next door to my broken-down apartment back in the 90's...physically. As a human Rolando was a mix-and-match of a few people I really love - names are withheld to protect the guilty. So be careful...parts of you may somehow end up in a story down the line.

Mary had to be spiritual. I've definitely met a few women who believe what she believes. Mary is a little over the top, but not much.

Adam is a collage of a couple of college roommates and his job to stay in fancy hotel rooms and eat fancy meals and drink all he can to see what the travel will be like for the rest of the company is an actual job! I know a guy who performed such functions.

In the end, I wanted this traveling band to be the sort of people Bruce always writes about in his songs. Like the rest of us, there is a never-ending search for what is right and true.

The Dogs on Main Street howl...

...because they understand.

The Week In Review

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