Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Clooney Is Off the Market

I really could give two shits about a celebrity wedding, but when one of them does get married it's sort of difficult to miss the news of it.

I saw Clooney in a speedboat racing to the church. Everyone looked so happy. All the big stars were there.

Of course, Clooney and I have a lot in common.

1). Neither one of us was ever going to get married.

Yet we ran into the most beautiful women in the world and then what can you do?

2). Neither one of us wanted a traditional wedding.

Clooney got married in Venice.

I got married in left field at the North Collins Town Park.

3). Clooney had Bono in attendance.

I had Pops.

And of course...the biggest of all similarities:

4). We both crushed the hearts of all the other women in the world who were now plumb out of luck.

It's sad, really.

But it's also kinda' funny because we really do identify with celebrities in this country. When one of them gets married we have a moment where we go:

"Oh, crap. She isn't gonna' marry me!"

I still think there's a chance with Claire Danes.

Everything would have to really break right, of course as we are both married, but perhaps somewhere down the line, someway she will finally accept the fact that she can't do without the bald, husky, broken-down man of her dreams.

Ah, hell...she's no Kathy Fazzolari.

But yeah.

Clooney is now a married man.

I'm sure we'll hear about the honeymoon.

Entertainment tonight will show us the photos.

And then...

And then...

We'll start hearing about the rumors of the forthcoming divorce.

May Clooney find happiness.

We're a lot alike.

Monday, September 29, 2014

No Pain...No Pain


That kid there is Guliano Stroe. He's 9 years old and he has been working on sculpting his body since he was a toddler. He lifts weights, works out, and watches what he eats.

Sort of like the author of this blog.

We watched an Arnold movie over the weekend. (I'm not even gonna' try his last name), but other than stooping the maid Arnold has been known for working out like this child, and of course, he's still jacked up at an old age.

Kinda' like me.

Yet.

Do you think it's a good idea for a kid to be growing in such a manner?

The New York Post article spoke about how no one was going to take his lunch money and how excited he was to be going back to school so he could show his classmates that he's a beast.

The chicks are gonna' dig him, I imagine.

I've put up with it all my life.

But in all honesty, I suppose, I guess I should come clean.

Despite the body image I've developed over the years, I've never lifted weights.

That's another lie.

(This post if full of them...see if you can spot them).

Anywhoha...

I had an idiot roommate back in my college days. I use 'idiot' in the most endearing of terms, but this guy was on the wrestling team, and since he was a tad lazy at times the wrestling coach decided to motivate him. We would get a half-keg of beer if above-mentioned idiot could lose a certain amount of weight in a week's time.

It seemed like an impossible task, but since we all wanted the beer we helped out.

We all chose a day to work out with him.

We ran.

We sat in the sauna and wiped off sweat with our college I.D. card.

And we worked out.

We did everything but eat or drink.

I have not lifted a single weight since that day because while it wasn't bad as we were doing it...

...I couldn't get out of bed the next day.

Hence.

I developed my motto:

No pain...no pain.

So, God Bless little Guiliano. It seems as if he's having a good time.

We were able to get that keg of beer as my idiot buddy lost the weight just in time to get pinned in 12 seconds in the big match.

But the beer was cold.

So the story had a great ending.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Featured Work of the Week - Sometimes There's God - Mellencamp

A young girl from West Seneca lost her life yesterday. She was a classmate with Jake and back in 2011 she had been struck by a car. Her life was never the same, of course, and she slipped away yesterday.

At the same time I received a message from an old friend. We were talking about her husband's battle with cancer and the fact that he's cancer free. "God Is Good!" she texted.

And yes.

Sometimes there is God.

So the featured song of the week: Sometimes There's God by John Mellencamp (off the new record Plain Spoken - it's good!)

At the first listen through of this song John sounded raspy. By the middle of the second listen I knew why. It's repetitive for a reason.

Great Stuff.

Sometimes There's God John Mellencamp

Sometimes there’s God
in someone else’s eyes
Sometimes there’s God
when you see the sun rise
Sometimes you work,
only in vain
Sometimes there’s very little heartbreak
and pain

Sometimes there’s God
Sometimes there’s not

Sometimes there’s God
and sometimes there’s just not
A little redemption would help us a lot

Sometimes there’s God in the palm of your hand
Somedays hard times will cover your land

Sometimes there’s God
Sometimes there’s God
Sometimes there’s God
And sometimes there’s just not

Sometimes you pray for witness you can rise above
There’s judgment and destruction in the name of God
Can we find truth
in all that we feel
Sometimes there’s God
when sickness is healed

Sometimes there’s God
Sometimes there’s God
Sometimes there’s God
Sometimes there’s not

We all need God
when people don’t care
What we do to each other
when there’s nobody else there
In the dark we promise:
God I’ll never do this again
Let the choices we’ve made
be forgiven

Sometimes there’s God
Sometimes there’s God
Sometimes there’s God
Sometimes there’s not

Sometimes there’s God
Sometimes there’s God
Sometimes there’s not
And sometimes there’s God

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Can't We Have Anything Nice???


You see that smile on Jeter's face?

I'm telling you, I watched him play approximately 95% of the games that he ever played in and he was smiling a lot. Even if they were losing, Jeter would find a moment to smile a little bit.

He enjoyed playing shortstop for the Yankees.

I still laugh when I think of him covering his face with his glove because he was laughing so hard at Luis Sojo falling down (for no apparent reason) during the 2000 World Series.

I smile too when I think of him standing at the railing, talking and laughing with the kids who were there (he did that every single time he played).

But it's sad that he got old right before our eyes.

What's even sadder are the people giving him grief.

Has Jeter hurt the Yankees this year?

Should Jeter still be batting second?

Jeter's range is hurting the Yankees at short!

Was Jeter an overrated player?

Well let me answer all of those questions for you.

He could have been pushed to short in a wheelchair and Yankee fans would have been cheering for him.

Me included.

Let me tell you something about Jeter.

When he dove into the stands in the Boston game - we've all seen the play - A-Rod was standing next to him with both hands pressed to the side of his head.

A-Rod and hundreds of others wouldn't have chased that ball to a bloodied end.

Jeter could've pitched if he wanted.

He could've batted clean-up for all I cared.

He was the leader.

He was the guy who made my Mom cry when he announced that he couldn't play anymore.

He was always classy to his fans, his teammates and the guys who competed against him.

He tipped his cap to the pitcher and the opposing manager before he batted - every game!

He never had a prolonged argument with an umpire. Was never ejected from a game.

He had about 3,600 hits.

He made the flip play.

And yet, there are people out there who want to crap all over his career and all that he stood for.

That sucks.

Overrated?

His career stats don't compare to A-Rod, or Bonds or McGwire or Sammy Sosa or even Ken Griffey...

...but let's see how it plays out, folks...

Like it or not...

...he'll go down as one of the greatest players in the history of baseball.

And he deserves that designation.

Just look at how he played his last game at Yankee Stadium.

That's what we watched all the time.

So thank you, Derek Jeter.

It was our pleasure.

Friday, September 26, 2014

My Way

The Derek Jeter Gatorade commercial is awesome. Of course, it is played in front of Frank Sinatra singing My Way and as we watched the other day I told Sam to go an get the lyrics to the song and read them.

He didn't do it, but he reads the blog from time-to-time so I'm gonna' put them right in front of his face.

Of course, Sinatra plays a huge part in our lives anyway as he was Dad's "Bruce". We heard a lot of Frank and Dean as we grew...and despite all the times we argued about how "boring" it was compared to rock and roll, my brothers and sisters all have I-pods filled with those rat pack members.

Of course, Paul Anka wrote My Way and I've heard him tell a lot of stories about his time with Frank. He threw the song in Frank's lap when Frank was ready to retire there for a little while.

It's just beautiful.

The Voice.

Those lyrics.

Perfect.

My Way

And now, the end is here
And so I face the final curtain

My friend, I'll say it clear
I'll state my case, of which I'm certain

I've lived a life that's full
I traveled each and ev'ry highway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way

Regrets, I've had a few
But then again, too few to mention

I did what I had to do and saw it through without exception
I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way

Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew

But through it all, when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall and did it my way

I've loved, I've laughed and cried
I've had my fill, my share of losing

And now, as tears subside, I find it all so amusing
To think I did all that
And may I say, not in a shy way,
"Oh, no, oh, no, not me, I did it my way"

For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught

To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows and did it my way!

[instrumental]

Yes, it was my way

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Eric the Actor


I've been listening to Howard Stern for a lot of years. I remember talking about the start of his career when I was in college and I was a little thrown at first, but soon became a regular listener.

Howard is actually a decent guy.

He did earn his reputation in the early days, but if you listen to him now you know that he was a character in his own life. He's actually thoughtful, funny and entertaining.

And if you listen to a show every day you sort of get to know all of the characters, and Howard has a whack-pack...a group of misfits, really, who do all sorts of crazy things.

Some are disabled.

Like Eric the Actor...who had originally been Eric the Midget.

Eric died over the weekend at the age of 37.

He wasn't supposed to live much past 20.

And for the uninitiated Eric was a mean little bastard who demanded that he be treated the right way...by Howard...by the fans...by everyone.

His phone calls were usually demands of the staff to attend VIP events or be placed in a movie or on a television show.

Howard helped him live a really nice full life, and while he busted on Eric every step of the way...he really made the man's dreams come true.

There were days when Eric would be on the show when I'd think, "Man, he's rough! Hang up on him!!"

But Eric entertained.

And he taught me a few lessons along the way.

He never wanted to be pitied.

He never bitched about his life...and he really got a raw deal...he tried to be funny in his own way.

And I felt lousy when I heard that he had passed.

RIP Eric the Actor.

You were a legend.

D.B.'s of the Week - Kim Kardashian & Sarah Palin

A couple of curious choices, huh?

Let me explain.

Sarah Palin wins for sheer stupidity, of course, and that's always been her strong suit.

Evidently there was a big fight up there in old Alaska, you betcha', and maybe it was the Russians who live across the street who caused it, but Sarah and her entire clan were involved.

Trip and Bristol and Donner and Blitzen were all involved, and one of the daughters slugged the guy who was throwing the party because the Palin's were asked to leave, and they didn't wanna' leave, goshdarnit.

Sarah said she's proud of her daughter for throwing the punch and standing up for the family.

What a dopey bastard.

How in the hell was she close to being 2nd in command in this land?

I know they all suck, but damn, there has to be at least a set of minimum qualifications, right?

Yet, Sarah sort of bores me, anyway so I allowed her to split the D.B. of the week this week...

...with Kim Kardashian.

And Kim didn't really do anything wrong, I suppose, she's just living her life, but man...

...I'm sick of seeing her big naked ass.

Is there anyone out there who is yet to see this girl naked?

Every time there is a leak of photographs because someone hacked the nudes of celebrities her name is there.

I've seen her bare ass as she gets out of a car, as she sits on a fence, in a bikini...in a tight white dress.

Every single time I go on Twitter I see her big ass!

And I wonder...what the hell happened?

Big fat asses are all the rage.

When did that happen?

I got a big ass...

...is that sexy?

So, poor Kim wins for nothing more than doing what she does to earn a living...

...she shows her ass.

The D.B.'s of the week are all about ass, I suppose.

Congrats, ladies.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Bruce's Birthday!

It's Bruce's Birthday today and I decided to use the lyrics of a song that he wrote and put on his great, great, great Devils & Dust record. I think of this song often because Bruce tells the story of a man who was beat down by life and tries to just get a moment's peace by visiting his Mom and telling his story.

Just incredible writing, folks.

Happy Birthday, Boss! We're waiting for the next record and tour.

The Hitter - By Bruce Springsteen from Devils & Dust

Come to the door ma and unlock the chain.
Well I was just passin' through and got caught in the rain.
There's nothing that I want, nothin' that you need say.
Just let me lie down FOR a while and I'll be on my way.

I was no more than a kid when you put me on the Southern Queen.
With the police on my back I fled to New Orleans.
Well I fought in the dockyards for the the money that I made.
I knew the fight was my home and my blood was my trade.

Baton Rouge, Ponchatoula, and Lafayette town.
Well they payed me their money, ma, I knocked the men down.
Well I did what I did, yeah it come easily.
restraint and mercy, Ma,
were always strangers to me.

I fought champion Jack Thompson in a field full of mud.
Rain poured through the tent to the canvas and mixed with our blood.
In the twelfth, I slipped my tongue over my broken jaw.
I stood over him and pounded his body into the floor.
Well the bell rang and rang and still I kept on.
'Til I felt my glove leather slip 'tween his skin and bone.

And the women and the money came fast and the days I lost track.
The women red, the money green, but the numbers were black.
I fought for the men in their silk suits to lay down their bets.
Well I took my good share, ma, I have no regrets.

I took the fix at the state armory with Big John McDowell.
From high in the rafters I watched myself fall.
As they raised his arm, my stomach twisted, and the sky it went black.
I stuffed my bag with their good money, ma, and never looked back.
Understand, in the end, Ma, every man plays the game.
If you know me one different then speak out his name.

Ma, if my voice now you don't recognize.
Well just open the door and look into your dark eyes.
I ask of you nothin', not a kiss not a smile.
Just open the door and let me lie down for a while.

Now the gray rain is fallin' and my ring fightin's done.
So in the work fields and alleys, I take on all who'll come.
If you're a better man than me then just step to the line.
Show me your money and speak out your crime.
Now there's nothin' I want, ma, nothin' that you need say.
Just let me lie for a while and I'll be on my way.

Well tonight in Stockyard, a man draws a circle in the dirt.
I move to the center and take off my shirt.
I study him for the cuts, the scars, the pain, Man nor time can erase.
I move hard to the left and I strike to the face.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Looking For Something

I sat in my normal seat for church services, and I listened to the same old scripture and heard the people around me singing the same old songs.

The idea that the church is run by people who may or may not be as holy as they once appeared didn't have any bearing on how I felt as I sat there. I do give money when the collection plate is passed around, but there has been a bit of disconnect. What happened in the Catholic church through the years is disgusting to me on so many different levels...but...old habits die hard.

(A nun reference for those of you paying attention).

And I go to church simply for the hour of peace that it always brings to my mind.

I enjoy the singing and the message that the scriptures bring. I enjoy looking around at the other church-goers and wonder about what everyone is looking for.

We are all looking for something.

Peace.

Salvation.

Grace.

Faith.

We need to feel it in our hearts and souls.

And the woman next to me was spending a bit of time fussing with her brand new baby.

I say 'brand new' but the kid was old enough to look around and take it all in.

And I thought about his wide-eyed innocence as he glanced in my direction and I made the automatic face to try and get him to smile.

The kid did smile, but he looked at me as if I were the one who was brand new.

And if you think of it, we are born with that sort of crazy, wild, undying appreciation of what life has to offer.

But it dies on us.

And we stop appreciating so much.

And wondering so much.

And we begin to gripe about the way things are or the way that we want them to be.

And then we head off to church, or to the bar, or to the strip joint, or to a football game, or anywhere...anywhere at all...

In an eternal battle to try and get some of that peace and comfort back.

We are born with the sense of wonder...we lose it along the way...and we spend our life searching for some sort of spark to bring it all back...

I watched that kid for a long while.

You could almost feel the love that he had for his mother and his grandmother who was just a couple of seats away.

It was a tangible thing.

You could hear the wonderment in his cries, and in his laughter.

Untainted by the sadness.

The kid has a long way to go. His grandmother has seen it all. The Mom has been blessed by the heavenly air that this kid brought back into her life.

And we forget.

And search for something more.

When we've already touched it, held it, lived it and loved it.

We're looking for what we've already found...and then forgot.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Book of the Week: Dogs On Main Street


I was standing behind my beautiful wife as she sat at the computer and tried desperately to get the best seats in the house for the Springsteen show in Buffalo.

She kept getting knocked out of the room and I frantically worked my cell phone going back and forth with my brothers, sister-in-law and buddy John.

"Damn! I've been doing this for 30 years!" I said. "I've been trying to get tickets for Bruce for 3 friggin' decades!"

And the lightning struck.

In the middle of all the chaos of the moment, I had an epiphany.

(It has a great ending as John, who had never seen Bruce before, scored premium seats with a blind stroke of keyboard luck).

What if...

A group of people who had once chased Bruce around but had become separated by life got back together to search for the promised land once more.

Of course, they had royally screwed up their lives in those 30 years in between.

So, I wrote fiction again. For the first time in a whole lot of years. I found my comedy voice. I thought of the 30 years I spent seeing shows. I had very little Bruce research to do.

And I had a blast!

I finished the book and closed the file on my computer.

Perhaps I'd show someone, someday, but I had no great desire to publish it. The business side of publishing was just too dark. I didn't need an award, or to be interviewed.

I wrote it because I wanted to.

And two close friends helped make it into the book it is today.

Jeff Popple sent me a single text:

"Write me something, bitch!"

And Chris Colantino answered a text I sent him:

Me: Wanna' do a book cover?

Chris: Hell, yes!!!

And what happened is that Chris put together the very best cover I ever had on one of my fiction books, and the story was really well-received.

A book award at the New York Book Festival.

A whole bunch of my readers who loved it.

And the 11th book I'd put out there.

Which ruins me...

...because I'm an obsessive sort of guy...

...and I can't quit with 11.

So, there will be more!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A 48-Hour Break

Nothing better than the morning when you wake up with two straight days off staring you in the face.

Of course, they aren't true days off as there is some computer work stretched out before you, but the mad rush feeling is less, for sure.

Even the dogs know the difference between Saturday and Monday.

Anywhoha...

Some thoughts collected as I pondered the end of the National Football League:

As you shake your head and consider it impossible think of this:

What if three or four defense attorneys figure out that the reason why his client beat his (wife) (Kid) (dog) (cat) (grandmother) (2nd cousin on his mother's side) was because his brain had been damaged by being hit.

It's gonna' happen...and when that defense catches on as a way to explain abysmal behavior...the thread is gonna' come loose.

Players won't be able to be hit at all.

None of you are gonna' watch flag football.

And before you dismiss it as an excuse for the bad behavior...the people being busted are running backs and linebackers...and there is a lot to put up there as Exhibit A.

Not only have we had these last few beat-downs...we've had a bunch of suicides.

When the thread unravels the sport is gonna' fall quickly.

And you can bet your ass one of these defense attorneys has already considered blowing the lid off it...after all...it occurred to me and I'm just a loudmouth safety man.

What else on the 48-hour break?

For a lot of years I've had to spend a couple of nights a month on the road in various towns across this great state of New York and on this past visit I figured out that:

My family doesn't just sit around and weep when I leave.

That's what they tell me they're doing when I call home while on such trips:

Me: "What're you guys up to?"

Whatever Wise-ass answers the phone: "We're sitting in a circle in the living room, crying, and praying for your safe return."

Me: "Are you holding hands?"

Wise-ass: "Of course. We're just taking turns saying special things about you."

But after all these years, I just don't think it's true.

I came through the door after my trip on Friday night and it was a good half hour before I knew that any of them were home. They were all either out or engaged in some X-Box action.

Ah well.

The myth is broken!

Enjoy your 48-hour break!

Whenever you get it!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Great Story of the Week

Too many times I'm forced to write and complain a bit about the state of the world.

That's unfortunate because every day there are common folk out there doing heroic things, but never receiving credit.

Of course I will continue with the D.B. of the week, but I will also try to come up with a good story each week...you know...

To renew our faith in mankind.

Football is taking it's lumps...in the real world and here as well, but reading through I saw a great story the other day.

Ma'ake Kemoeatu was a football player with the Baltimore Ravens.

You know that team...they built a statue of a guy who was involved in a double-murder. It was their number one running back who decked his wife in the elevator.

Well...none of that had anything to do with Ma'ake Kemoeatu.

Ma'ake retired from the team...in the middle of his career...so that he could

(get this)

donate a kidney to his younger brother, Chris.

Chris was also a football player. He played for the Steelers on two Super Bowl winning teams, but his career was cut short by the kidney disease.

Ma'ake came through for him.

He quit the Ravens and did so to help his brother. The oldest of 7 kids Ma'ake said that it was his responsibility.

As I read the article I felt good when the two brothers talked about their family, and what's important.

It wasn't football...

...or the big contract...

...or the Super Bowl.

It was family.

And helping one another.

Both men are doing well. They have another 6 weeks to heal and then they are going to move to Hawaii and just hang out. Ma'ake said that he didn't care at all that his career had to come to a close.

He spoke only of his love for his younger brother.

And Chris?

What did he have to say to Ma'ake?

"I love you, man."

Perfect.

Now back to Peterson, Rice, Hardy and Goodell...

...men who suck compared to Ma'ake Kemoeatu and Chris Kemoeatu.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

D.B. of the Week - Adrian Peterson

The story that broke over the weekend about yet another football player behaving badly had a bit more of an impact in our house because Adrian Peterson is really good at running with the ball.

My son Jake was constantly showing me Peterson's great runs as a video package. Sam and Jake often spoke about how 'great' Peterson is.

That talk has ended.

"He's an a-hole," Sam said to me on Friday night.

Sam then showed me the photos of Peterson's sons legs and back. He also showed me the text that Peterson sent to the mother of the child explaining why he had to beat the child and how bad he felt about 'catching a nut' while he did it.

(Evidently the kid had bruises on his groin as well).

I'm not sure if Sam was more angry about it than either Jake or I was. Kathy also viewed the photos and simply shook her head.

You know what angered me more about it?

Knowing that this week's D.B. of the week still had loud ovations, and fans in a shirt with his name on it, in his future. Someday soon he will run out on the field and people will cheer him.

Others will defend him saying that it's his kid and he can raise him as he likes.

Look at those marks - think of the doctors who deemed it abusive - and know that it was a 4-year-old getting hammered with a weapon by a gigantic man.

He is an a-hole.

There will be still others who will say:

"My Dad spanked me when I was young. I turned out okay."

Perhaps.

Maybe in spite of the spankings.

As a parent, of course I've been on each side of the issue. My Dad loved me. He never showed his love by beating the snot out of me. He never lost control of the situation. In fact, we sometimes received the 'promise' of a spanking that never materialized.

As a father, I feel bad if I raise my voice to my children. I want them to respect me, not fear me. They have responded in kind.

Finally, something else galled me about the beat-down. Peterson's lawyer, Rusty Hardin, who also defended Roger Clemens when he lied through his teeth (Hardin wants a straight ticket to down below, evidently), came out and said that Peterson was disciplining his child as he himself was disciplined.

Isn't that the credo for abuse?

He beats his kids because his Dad beat him?

Violence begets violence, people.

And!!!

The kid was 4 years old!

He was misbehaving!!

Shocking!!!

You know what's more disconcerting?

D.B. of the week doesn't quite seem to be enough of an honor for Adrian Peterson.

"He belongs in jail," Sam said.

Yeah.

With a whole lot of other D.B.'s.

One final thought:

My friend and award-winning author John Brubaker tweeted about the subject:

"If you think what Adrian Peterson did is acceptable parenting, don't be surprised when your son grows up to be Ray Rice."

Yep.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

It's Over


The first sports star that really captured my attention as a kid was Wilt Chamberlain. Wilt was a huge man who just sort of shook the sports world with his ability. I was a Lakers fan because of him. When he left that team was no longer my favorite.

There was also O.J. Simpson - he was the best running back in the league and he was always smiling and it you were from Buffalo you just loved him. His fall from grace, of course, showed us what it means to love these guys.

But we do anyway.

Then there was Jim Kelly of the Bills. He came into a town that was suffering and immediately there was hope. I loved his arrogance, his lack of fear and the fact that the Bills went to the Super Bowl 4 times while he was here. When he quit, I felt like it would be a long time before the Bills were good again.

Yet above all of those guys was Don Mattingly when he was on the Yankees. He didn't win a World Series. But Donnie Baseball was the favorite of all of us as we grew. We stopped family gatherings just to watch him bat. I recall plenty of days when my brother Jeff would call me with a recap of the game:

"Yanks are down 8-7 but Mattingly is 3 for 4 with 5 RBI."

To this day there is not another athlete who has held my attention for so long. Mattingly finally played in a playoff game in his very last season as a Yankee. He homered in a huge spot and I can still hear the announcer saying:

"Deep to right! Hold onto the roof!!"

I had tears in my eyes. I was happy for the guy who was so important to our family. He still gets the loudest cheers of them all on old-timers day.

And he's still my favorite athlete of all-time and my kids know it.

"He never won a title!" They'll scream at me.

Didn't have to.

And then there was and is Derek Jeter.

He won plenty. He's the all-time Yankee hit leader. He's a great guy by all accounts. He mugs with the kids. He always says the right thing. We watched him grow from a kid to a 40-year old man.

I never thought he'd get old.

"That's it," I said to Sam when we caught Jeter on television over the weekend. "I'll never idolize another sports star."

The boys started throwing names out at me - guys they perceived as 'good guys' with a lot of talent.

"Pick your favorites," I said. "But it's over for me. I'm too old to be swept up in all of it again. There's too much money involved and I'm not all that swayed by any of them."

I'll still watch the games, of course.

But you know what I mean, right?

Looking up to a sports star?

It's kinda' over.

Two more weeks of Jeter and then all those greats will have stepped aside.

When does O.J. get out of jail?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

He Hates A Mess

My sons were shooting hoops in the driveway.

"Come on and play," Sam begged. "We'll go two on one. You and me against Jake."

I was heading out to the grocery store (go figure).

"I can't play a game," I said. "I can't run on these feet."

"Oh, come on!"

I headed to the grocery store. As I backed out of the driveway I watched them shoot and it hit me that my time as a Dad is finite.

They won't be shooting hoops in my driveway forever.

"We'll do a shooting contest when I get back," I said.

And there they stood waiting for me as I returned.

"Let's go, dude!"

I dropped the few bags in the house and laced up my shoes. I told them the rules of the game as I warmed up with a couple of shots that were well short.

"You shoot until you miss and count your baskets. We alternate shots. First one to 21 wins. If you miss, you can chance it. If you miss again you go back to zero."

A simple game that we played in the backyard of my parent's home. Usually it was Jeff who was the heartbeat of the event. He'd let you shoot, of course, but he'd aggravate every step of the way.

There was little surprise who would be taking his place in our game on Saturday. I hit my first bucket to take the lead and Sam bounced the next pass right off my front foot.

"Pass it to me!" I yelled. "I can't get on a roll if I'm bending to get the ball."

"Duh!" He said. "That's the point."

(Just like his Uncle).

So I was chasing his errant passes back to me on every made shot.

And then he started to throw imaginary things at me as I tried to bring the ball into shooting position.

(A move perfected by Jeff).

Yet I was still making them and had a lead - 19-17 - just two more to hit.


Sam began to scatter things around the court. He turned to Jake.

"He won't be able to handle this," he said. "We all know how he hates a mess. He's cooked."

And I must admit that I was a little thrown. I do hate things out of place.

I hit one to bring it to game shot.

Sam bounced the ball off my front foot. Jake stood beside me and yelled something. Sam pointed out the mess and then he pretended to throw a rock at me as I headed into my shooting motion.

As the ball made it's way towards the hoop from 18 feet away I turned to the front door. I knew it was in the moment it left my hand.

"Clean that shit up," I yelled just as the ball settled into the bottom of the net.

"Your Uncle did that stuff to me every time we played," I called over my shoulder. "I'm used to it."

"One more!" Sam called out.

There wasn't a chance I'd play two...

...but man, playing one was fun.

Monday, September 15, 2014

What's the Matter Here?

In light of the Adrian Peterson story I spent the weekend with the following song lyrics in my head. The song is by the 10,000 Maniacs and was written by Jamestown's own Natalie Merchant. There was a time when Natalie was my absolute favorite songwriter and her rendition of this song, on the Unplugged record, is haunting - especially when Natalie howls, "If you don't sit in that chair straight I'll take this belt from around my waist and DON'T YOU THINK THAT I WON'T USE IT!"

What's the Matter Here?

That young boy without a name
Anywhere I'd know his face
In this city the kid's my favorite
I've seen him, I've seen him every day

Seen him run outside
Looking for a place to hide
From his father
The kid half-naked
And said to myself
"Oh, what's the matter here?

I'm tired of the excuses
Everybody uses
He's your kid
Do as you see fit

But who gave you the right
To do this?

We live on Morgan Street
Just ten feet between
And his mother, I never see her
But her screams and cussing
Well I hear them every day

Threats like:
'If you don't mind
I will beat on your behind
Slap you, slap you silly.'
It made me say
"Oh, what's the matter here?

I'm tired of the excuses
Everybody uses
He's your kid
Just do as you see fit
But get this through
That I don't approve
Of what you did
To your own flesh and blood

'Well if you don't sit
In your chair straight
I'll take this belt
From around my waist
And don't you think
That I won't use it'

Answer me and take your time
What could be the awful crime
He could do at so young an age?
If I'm the only witness to your madness
Offer me some words to balance
Out what I see and what I hear


All these cold and rude
Things that you do
I suppose you do
Because he belongs to you
And instead of love
And the feel of warmth
You've given him these cuts
And sores that don't heal with time or his age


And I want to say, "Hey"
I Want to say
"What's the matter here?"
But I don't dare say
"What's the matter here?"
But I don't dare say



Read more: 10,000 Maniacs - What's The Matter Here? Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Featured Book of the Week #10 - Oh Brother! The Life & Times of Jeff Fazzolari


The grief that consumes you is almost too much to handle some times.

This I know is true.

I spent all of 2009 simply consumed.

"What have you written?" my publisher asked.

That had been our conversation for the past 20 years. She usually checked in every December. My publisher was now my friend, and she also knew I was in trouble, mentally.

"I haven't written anything," I said.

"Yes you have," she answered. "I've known you since 1990. You always write."

I explained that I had written down a few things about my brother, but that it was all too painful, and it was almost nonsensical.

"Send me your notes," she said.

Simply ridiculous.

But I passed along the 20 pages of jibberish.

A day later my phone beeped.

I opened the email from my publisher. It was a contract with a deadline.

"You have 30 days to make it a story," she wrote. "You need to do this for your brother and your family."

I called her.

"You're out of your mind," I said.

"You aren't you." she said. "Do this to get some of you back. Think of how you can honor Jeff. You have 60 days."

The book in its finished form is just about the book that I sent to the publisher just 60 days later.

And then I went on the road a little.

Because the Life & Times of Jeff Fazzolari was award-worthy.

The book was entered in 10 book festivals around the globe.

It went 10 for 10.

I was invited to speak in Manhattan. I made hundreds of people explode in laughter with Jeff stories.

I stood before a crowded room in Boston and followed a really boring acceptance speech.

I said one sentence to the ceiling of that room:

"You ready to rip this room apart?" I asked my brother.

And about 15 minutes later everyone in that room stood and clapped for my brother Jeff.

I wrote the book for my brothers and sisters and Mom and Dad and Lynn and Jeff's children.

It was the hardest thing I ever did and I wish I could say that it helped take all the pain away.

It didn't.

Of course.

But thousands of people were introduced to a tremendous life of wild celebration.

And I signed every single copy I could and hundreds of people reached out to me to thank me for writing it.

"You might have saved my life," I told my publisher about a year later.

"Your brother deserved to have his life out there for examination," she said. "And you may have helped a lot of other people understand. Your brother had a message."

Yes he did.

Jeff's Message:

Celebrate Your Days.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Wacky Week

So...

1).Do you have your I-Phone 6?

Not sure, but it doesn't seem like such a big deal to me, however, there are tech geeks out there who line up for every new thing that is sent to market. I have an I-phone 4s, I believe, and it does what I need it to do...so why bother?

I don't want to talk to Siri.

I don't want a watch with the Internet on it.

I also don't want to pay $900 for an upgrade.

2). Really overloaded on the NFL debacle.

In fact, my boys were sitting around talking about the fact that ESPN is just beating it to death, as they do every story, as long as it has to do with the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE

(no wonder its the number one sport in the country - it's on constantly!).

Here was the exchange:

Jake: (Pretending to be a reporter on ESPN) - "This just in: she may have had it coming to her!"

(We laughed at the horror of his statement and how ESPN might just further the story).

Sam: (Also pretending to be an anchor) - "And now for more on this story we go to our field reporter, Nicole Brown Simpson...Nicole? Nicole?...Nicole? Nicole is no longer with us."

Yet what Sam and Jake did was show how ridiculous all of it is. The punch out happened about 8 months ago. The video has been out a week.

How many more times will it be played?

3). A Bad Week for Women

So, Oscar Pistorius was found Not Guilty of premeditated murder in the shooting death of his girlfriend. He was found responsible for something, I suppose, but we shall see if he gets prison time over this. The justice system is different over there, but I just never figured that he wouldn't just be sent straight to jail without passing go.

It's simply amazing what celebrity can do for you.

4). Back to War?

It's been a really long time since I watched a politician give a speech. Obama was on in the middle of the week and most of what I heard was:

"What about the AGT awards show?", or "Is Big Brother still on?"

We are war weary.

The Middle East disaster has been going on for a whole lot of years. We don't want to see our citizens captured. We don't know quite how to go about getting out of the mess we're in.

What did the president say, anyway?

5). U2 Gives Away Their Record

Woke up the other day and found out that the new U2 record was already in my I-Tunes library. Which was a good thing because I most likely would have paid for it had not U2 gave it to me for free.

Yet it begs the question...are all creative things produced by a creative mind just fair game? Shouldn't someone have to pay the band or the guy who creates?

Bono and the band got paid...somehow...of course...but if they are giving their shit away, or seemingly giving it away...who the hell wants to pay for the next work I produce?

"I read you book, someone loaned it to me," is the single shittiest sentence.

But it's a great record.

Thanks, Bono & Edge.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Just Getting Started

There's a young man out there who is working as a safety consultant for a fairly big construction company in Erie, Pa.

He's just getting started on everything.

His marriage is young.

He is still learning on the job, but he is also very quick on his feet and has a good rapport with the workers.

His wife is 7 months pregnant with their first child.

I had lunch with the guy on Tuesday afternoon and I spent a bit of that lunch explaining his future to him.

"You won't sleep for shit for about the first 6 months," I said.

"I know. I've heard that," he answered. "But it's awesome, right?"

I laughed.

"Sure it's awesome. It's bigger than anything you can even imagine. You'll sleepwalk through the first year of your baby's life and just when you get back in step your wife will start talking about another one, and then one after that."

"Not sure we'll have three," he said.

"You have no say in the matter," I answered.

But the kid is sharp.

Here's how you can tell:

"And in a blink of an eye I'll be limping around, digging through the ashtray in my car for coins because all the kids have the money down at some college somewhere, and I'll be wondering how it went so fast."

And that's the absolute truth.

As I mentioned, this little lunch discussion went on in Erie, Pa. where I attended Gannon University for four incredible years back in the 1980's - before the kid was even on the planet.

I drove through the campus.

I passed Wherle Hall where I lived with Gag and Palmer and Miller. I drove around the backside where we once threw a half-keg out a window because the RA was on our heels.

I passed the TKE House which is no longer there. The college bought the place and turned it into one of their own buildings. I thought about that basement where I drank a half a million beers for a total of about $26.

I drove past my friend Lisa's apartment. It looks the exact same. The name has been changed, but I looked at the walk to the front door. My mind jumped way back in time. I looked to their window where Lisa and Lorraine offered a safe haven to me and Fluff and George.

Why they ever opened the door to the drunken three of us remains a true mystery.

I passed the broken down home where we spent our senior year.

The Myrtle Street apartment seemed smaller somehow. The front window wasn't broken. We broke it about 30 times when we lived there because the room was too small for the pool table and we kept running the sticks through the glass.

Too fast.

I thought of the young guy and his new marriage and his new baby.

I certainly didn't envy him.

He's got way too much work ahead of him!

I just thought about the fun.

Life goes fast, kid.

Hold on and enjoy the ride.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thirteen Years


Star Spangled Banner

Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?

And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?

Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.

No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blessed with victory and peace, may the heaven rescued land

Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

D.B. of the Week - Roger Goodell

(The D.B. of the Week is a day early...tomorrow is 9/11)

How can this even be avoided?

The biggest story of the early week, of course, once more belonged to the National Football League, and once again it was really bad news.

Now this isn't the guy from the 49ers who stands accused of hitting his pregnant girlfriend...no...this is old news.

On Monday we all had a chance to watch the Ray Rice video where he floored his then-fiance with a devastating left hook.

We all knew it happened that way, but we hadn't seen it yet.

Back about 3 months ago he apologized for it. The Ravens fans gave him standing ovation after standing ovation. The coach, the team president and his now happy-but-I'm-guessing-only-half-conscious-new-wife begged the league for mercy.

And Roger Goodell gave it to him.

This is the same guy who throws suspensions around fairly liberally.

4 games for a molly.

A full season for a joint.

But alas, Rice was suspended for only 2 games.

The Ravens 3rd game was scheduled to be a nationally televised affair.

Ulterior motive in a cash-hungry league?

Whatever, right?

The cops didn't really charge Rice with much. He looked good when he apologized. We only saw her being dragged out of the elevator up to that point.

Did Roger think she feinted?

And here is why Roger gets the D.B. of the week.

There are only 2 possible scenarios:

1). He saw the tape and didn't think anyone else would and the Ravens owner put pressure on him and he caved...

Or

2). He didn't see the tape and he figured that Rice's girlfriend had low blood sugar and legs like the scarecrow, and that she really had passed out because she was in the company of such an amazing athlete who everyone really, really likes.

Seriously.

How did Goodell go about figuring the two games?

More importantly, after seeing footage of that:

How in the f&8K is Ray Rice not in jail?

In a league filled with one black eye after another how do they spin this one to make it taste all right as the fans chew on it?

Do they have all their players wear black and blue ribbons for the battered women of the players who pound them?

And then the NFL can keep 95% of the proceeds and send along the 5% to a battered women's shelter?

So many questions.

One big D.B.

Congrats, Goodell...

You won the award.

Hang it on the wall of your retirement home when they fire you.

But they won't.

Because like you...the league is filled with cowards.

Big, tough, women-beating, drunk-driving, drug-taking, D.B.cowards.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

18 More!!!

I know it's not popular, and I doubt it can be pulled off, but I made a conscious decision to skip the National Football League at least for week 1. I am thinking of going the whole year as a protest, but how can that juggernaut league be avoided all together?

Sunday was fairly easy because the Yankees were on at 1 p.m., but I wasn't watching them either.

I was mowing my Mom's lawn, on a beautiful sunny day.

There was even a point when the lawnmower wouldn't start, and being the grease monkey that I am I was able to fix it!

(Don't ask me how the hell that happened).

But I actually felt better about things.

I was skipping the NFL!!!

Except I returned home...

...and found out the Bills were winning 17-7 at the half.

"They'll lose," I said, and I left the room.

Women getting beat. Cheerleaders suing the league. Blackouts. Concussions. NFL doctors handing out pills on the sidelines. No medical bills for former players. We need a new stadium. Not paying taxes.

Nope.

I wasn't gonna' watch!

Sam let me know it was tied up late.

"If they go to overtime it's going to interfere with dinner," I said.

The boys were fired up.

I stirred the sauce as they drove down the field.

I wouldn't look, but I heard the winning drive...for the freaking Bills!.

"18 more to a perfect season!" Sam yelled.

And I watched the Breaking Bad marathon in the afternoon instead of the 4 o'clock games.

I wasn't missing it at all.

On Monday morning at the first site everyone was talking about how much better life is when the Bills win and the Pats lose.

I went along with it.

Enjoy.

By noon the video of Ray Rice knocking his girlfriend out cold and then dragging her out of the elevator surfaced.

That I watched.

So disgusted by all of it.

"Six days until we beat Miami!" Sam said on Monday afternoon.

I'm so excited.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Gratitude Day 1 of 1

Facebook trends have a tendency to invade your life from time-to-time and while I sometimes am idle enough to see which Beatle I would have been (John) or bored enough to know which 80's rock band I most identify with (Springsteen)...I usually scroll on by.

Unless a balding, Boston-based, Steelers fan who also happens to write tremendous inspirational books and coaches others in business applications, Mr. John Brubaker, an award-winning author, speaker, health-food nut, and all-around great guy, asks you to do it.

Did I mention he's balding?

And has that stupid Bahs-ton tone?

Dork.

Well, John (who I met at an book awards ceremony in dumb Boston) asked me to do an exercise in what I am thankful for...three or five things over 10 days...(or some shit)...but here it is:

One good blog on the subject.

First off, I have been extremely blessed in my life.

I have always been surrounded by great people.

I'm astoundingly handsome.

I'm overly brilliant, and everyone else is absolutely wrong about any subject that I ever post a thought on.

Okay, only some of that is true.

I've always been surrounded by great people.

I recall a day when I was standing next to my Dad. I was about 10 years old. He had asked me to chop up the onions for the sauce. I was working hard. Dad asked me if I'd show my kids how to do it.

I remember that I said, 'Sure.'

Dad must have thought that was funny because he asked me how many kids I would have.

"A lot," I said. "Because I want to do things for them like you do for us."

I recall that Dad brought that up to my Mom as we were eating dinner and I was real embarrassed because my siblings attacked me for being a 'brown nosed little bastard.'

Did I mention my siblings there?

My God, I couldn't love a group of people more, and I feel the same vibe from them, of course. We tortured one another in our closed circle with wit and sarcasm and just joke after joke after joke...but man we get pissed when someone outside the circle says or does something to us. Even now. And together we grieve.

We laugh together, Grieve together. Breathe together.

I am eternally grateful to be a part of the Fuzzy clan. Man, we've had fun...and damn we've had sadness, but how can you not Thank the Lord for that placement?

(And that includes my insane cousins...evidently even a touch of Fazzolari blood does a number).

Reading and Writing

On this past Saturday morning I was talking to my Mom about books.

We swapped chatter of what we've been reading. We've been doing that since I was about 8 years old. Mom would hand me books, and vice-versa. My sisters are also in the reading club...and that passion is just as strong now as it was back more than 40 years. People don't believe me when I tell them I read about 60 books a year, but I do...

...and by extension...I've always wanted to write something that makes other people feel the way that I do when I'm so enjoying reading.

Friends will often ask me how I write a blog every day, and keep a journal, and work a lot of hours and then write books, and all I can say is that I am thankful for the passion that God and my Mom provided.

I still love it all, as if I just started that journey.

Food

All right, Brubaker...you knew this one. I am thankful for stuffed peppers, pork chops, porterhouse steaks, pasta, linguini and clams, lobster, broccoli rabe, Italian Sausage, Polish Sausage...are there any other sausages?

I'll eat the bastards.

Yet it's more than just the devouring of the food. I also enjoy taking the time to cook it. I love chopping up the onions as my Dad taught me to do...and then serving the family.

"What do you guys want for dinner?" I'll ask as I'm watching them eat lunch.

So..yeah...I'm thankful that we've always had enough...more than enough (I once chided my wife for not knowing the pleasure of eating until pain)...actually.

Baseball

If God made me make the decision for all of mankind:

YOU CAN KEEP ONE SPORT!

(God would have to speak in all caps and in bold, right?)

It would be baseball.

Vin Scully. All those numbers. Mickey, Willie and Hank. Jeter. The 27-Time World Champion Greatest Franchise in the History of Organized American Sports. The feel of a big stadium. Multiple hot dogs at the park (see above). And numbers....numbers...numbers...

"Baseball is boring!" People scream at me.

Not with the box scores and the records and the pennant chases and the history...that those steroid freaks threatened...and the game is incredible itself. No two games are alike. It can be 10-9 in the 3rd inning or 1-1 in the 17th.

The game can also be watched at the pace that it is played...which allows me a lot of time to sit back and read and listen and at the end of the day you can keep your steroid, wife-beating, murdering, scripted, refs determine the outcome of games in the NFL....the greediest league and sport ever conceived.

Just Thank God for Baseball.

My Beautiful Wife and Children

Of course my wife and children are not down on the list of the things I'm grateful for (I just thought of them, honestly)...but no...

...truthfully

...they're lives are what I live for, of course.

Their happiness is way more important to me than mine.

Their safety is what I pray for on a daily basis.

Their wants are my responsibility.

And how can I not be grateful for them?

In a world that is filled with doubt, fear, bitterness and hatred...

...I found a patch of land and some companions for the long walk.

I hear about families where there is never-ending discord. I know of husbands who hate their wives, and vice-versa, certainly. I know of children who don't speak to their siblings or hate their own parents.

And I am thankful that we have built a house on higher ground.

And that we govern with love.

So, as you can see, there is much to be thankful for...and while Brubaker was setting me up with an assignment...it's one that I am happy to address...

...Because I've said it before in this blog arena and I'm never afraid to say it again:

God gave me everything I want...

...and it's up to me to use it properly.


Thanks, Brubaker.

You...on the other hand...still suck.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Featured Book of the Week - House of Miracles


"Cliff, if you can do this for us..."

Trina's voice trailed off. She didn't have to finish her sentence, and now, I would have to write the most ambitious book of my life.

You see, Trina's beautiful son, Anthony, was stricken with a mysterious illness that left him needing constant care. Trina might be the greatest Mom in the world.

Her eyes sparkled each and every time she spoke about the boy laying in that bed.

House of Miracles was a book idea that actually hit me while I was taking a shower.

(I'll give you a moment to gather yourself as you chase that image).

The night before I had attended a parent advisory meeting at the Women & Children's Hospital of Buffalo and Trina's story had hit me so hard.

The 'what ifs' were all centered around:

What if I spoke to doctors, nurses, patients, administrators, the hospital chaplain and the hospital photographer?

What if I interviewed them and told their story?

Now I had a bit of an ax to grind as I wrote, and it still bugs me to some extent. The sports teams in this town garner all the attention while good doctors and great nurses toil in anonymity even after saving kids lives.

It never bothered even one of the people I spoke to.

They were doing their jobs well because they loved it.

I spoke with one surgeon who was nationally recognized for his work on children. I asked him what he thought when he considered that he's at the top of his field.

"Success will eventually find you if you work hard," he said.

And those were the types of things that I learned as I interviewed and then compiled these stories...of ordinary men and women...who do extraordinary things every single day...just for the matter of doing them.

As the book was coming together I was getting some feedback from my publisher.

They were looking for the first single, so to speak.

How would we make people want to read such 'heartwarming' stories?

(Because people like more of the negative, blood & guts stuff).

I didn't much care about that, but one night I was watching television when someone I'd met and respected, and spoke with about Counting On A Miracle popped up on the screen.

I sent Jill Kelly, mother of three, and wife of Hall-of-Famer Jim, a text asking Jill if she'd like to write the foreword for the book.

Of course, it's right there, and Jill knocked it out of the park as well. She told her heartwarming story and later we visited the hospital together.

House of Miracles is a story about the kind of love that you reach for when you need it.

Trina spoke to me, at the end of the interview that I did with her so long ago.

She told me that you find the strength because you want to.

Because the love makes you do it.

Every day.

Every single day.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Missing I-Pad

The other morning I was placing my rinsed cereal bowl and empty coffee cup into the dishwasher.

Or I thought I was.

The dishwasher was full of clean dishes.

Now another man may have tossed his dirty stuff into the sink and headed off to work, passing the baton to those who were home for the day to empty the clean dishes.

I didn't.

I put the clean dishes away and then placed my dirty dishes on the top shelf of the empty dishwasher.

And I thought of my Mom and Dad. They did a number on us.

Clean up after yourself and more importantly...

...take care of your shit!

Yet, it has not been passed down to my children, and I have a sneaking suspicion on why not, but more on that later.

We've lost an I-pad.

As a matter of fact, I have paid for two I-pads for this home and I have yet to hold one in my hand....even for a minute.

My beautiful wife is the candy crush champion of the world so that was a good investment, but the other I-pad kicked around the house from Sam to Matt and every once in a blue moon, Jake.

And now it's gone.

They have lost it inside the house somewhere.

"The goal for the weekend is to find the I-pad," I announced at 9:30 last night.

And Sam got right to it.

(So maybe there is a little Fuzzy tucked away).

But the problem?

Sam, Matt and aforementioned beautiful wife all have one thing in common:

They're slobs with their shit!

"Have you seen my ___________?"

You know how many times I've ignored that question from the three of them?

Every day is an eternal Easter egg hunt.

"I lost my _____"

"Where's my _______?"

And it drives me nuts.

I refuse to look for anything.

Until it works on my mind.

And festers.

And aggravates.

Who wants to bet that I'm the guy who eventually finds the I-pad?

I'm thinking it's where Sam keeps his stuff.

I may dig through it.

Got a shovel I can borrow?

Friday, September 5, 2014

Can We Talk?

I hate when I am forced to write a blog because of a death, but I have to save a little space for Joan Rivers.

I feel bad.

She was on Howard Stern within the last month and she was still funny, and still planning ahead and it had seemed to me as I listened, that she had a lot more days left.

But time waits for no one.

She died yesterday at 81, which, by all accounts, is a pretty good run.

But she was still funny.

Why did I enjoy her comedy so much?

Cause she was balls to the wall and would never apologize for what she said because it supposedly offended someone.

Her entire act was about insulting people and finding humor in situations where humor shouldn't necessarily exist.

Joan made jokes about the holocaust, the hostage situation in Ohio, her own lack of sex appeal.

Hell, she called Justin Bieber a little lesbian....

...and that alone is worthy of all of our love.

She had an amazing life.

Her husband killed himself and she was open about talking about it.

She was open about talking about anything to anyone and when she showed up on Howard, she always made me laugh.

There's also the pioneering she did for women in comedy and that's a good thing.

RIP Joan.

Thanks for never, ever backing down.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

D.B. of the Week - The Burger King Guy

Haven't you always thought that the Burger "King" was a little disturbing looking? Remember when he was chasing people and crap?

Weird.

Now, I'm not saying that Ronald McDonald isn't a little strange too, but that is one demented King there.

And he gets the D.B. of the week award because it has been widely reported that Burger King is merging with Tim Horton's because they want to move the operation to Canada to avoid paying taxes in the United States where they reportedly earn 60% of their vast empire.

This kind of stuff really pisses me off...

...and let me tell you why.

The tax loopholes are killing us.

The rich are getting richer, and they are not doing it on hard work and taking of risks, they are cheating the system.

We are making kings out of CEO's and we are doing it at the expense of...

...the freaking rest of us!

I can't even begin to think about the Fortune 500 companies who have their business out of the country so that they don't have to pay taxes.

And we all know how I feel about the NFL as a tax-exempt organization.

Yet, I may very well be dumber than the King in those awful commercials.

I may be less appealing on the subject than their pitiful burgers because I just don't understand.

Yet they can leave to save millions (and how much tax they are avoiding is widely debated) while they pay their employees slave wages as they hide behind the archaic minimum wage law.

They say those are starter jobs and not meant to be careers...

...but it's still people's time.

How can it be worth so little?

And the other problem?

A large percentage of their workers do have families and are trying to do something silly, like live off of the money they earn.

Yet, royalty wins out it seems.

I probably will get pooped all over with my ignorance on the tax law crap...

...Whatever.

You can steal way more money in a suit than you can in sweat pants, but what do I know?

I never liked that King anyway.

Always thought he was a D.B.

Now it's confirmed.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

NFL Super Bowl Pick

Lord knows I'm not a fan of the corporation that is the National Football League...but let's set that aside for the predictions!

AFC East - New England - who the hell else?

AFC North - Bengals - But Dalton ain't good.

AFC South - Indianapolis - they got the right QB a few years ago.

AFC West - Denver - Who doesn't love Peyton?

AFC Wild Cards - Friggin' Pittsburgh and Kansas City

Yeah...no Bills...they will go 6 and 10. After the season the new owners will fire the coach, the GM and cut the franchise QB they just drafted. The fans will be happy with the changes and excited for the new regime who will be brought in and will talk tough about ending the 15 year playoff curse...rinse, lather, repeat.

We'll get 'em next year for sure.

NFC East - The Eagles - everyone else sort of sucks.

NFC North - Da' Bears - don't ask me why. Just wanted to type - 'Da' Bears.

NFC South - Carolina? - Don't know crap about that division.

NFC West - San Francisco - they got robbed in NFC game last year - NFL has to fix this year for them.

NFC Wild Cards - Seattle and New Orleans

AFC Championship Game - New England over Denver - One last Brady versus Manning shoved down our collective throats.

NFC Championship Game - San Francisco over the Eagles - High-scoring game - comes down to one blown call on the last drive that hands the 49ers the game.

Stupid Bowl - 49ers over Pats - it'll be a close game - they won't script two straight blow-outs.

What else?

Manziel will start eventually and struggle and give the fans the finger.

Tim Tebow will get picked up by a team and ESPN will do an 8-hour show, 7 days a week to talk about his 'impact as a player in the National Football League' - he'll take 6 snaps and there will be 70,000 shots of him on the sidelines.

The Bills will be purchased by the Toronto group and they'll assure fans that 'Buffalo is their home' - in the office of the new owner there will be a calendar that marks off the days to the expiring lease.

The entire league is about money.

They can't get enough.

Stomp fans along the way?

Crush the little people who work there?

It's the NFL!

Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Back to School

The years pass quickly, don't they?

I recall being excited to return to school for the start of the 9th grade because I had a brand new Bills shirt that I could wear on the first day.

Sam is starting 9th grade this year. My last kid in high school.

He isn't excited for any of it.

He has plenty of Bills shirts.

Yet there's a sadness when the kids return to school and Camp Clifford closes up for the year. I had been able to leave a few instructions for them as they stayed home all summer and Sam usually worked to get the every day tasks started at least, and Jake mowed the lawn at a rather leisurely pace.

Now they will be talking homework.

Kathy will have to force them to get to it.

Arguments will ensue about their chance to get it done in study hall.

There will be missed assignments.

There will be days when I get this message:

"Going to __________ after school. Can you pick me up?"

And the days will pass quickly.

What do I recall about 9th grade?

Algebra...for the first time...not knowing what the hell was up there or why they'd mess up perfectly good numbers with letters.

Crushes...on girls...and wondering why they were suddenly as important as sports.

It's taken awhile to figure that one out...

...I'll let you know.

The future...knowing that the grades meant more in high school...my parents telling me to work harder so I could get into a good college.

Yet thinking back, I know that there will be time.

Even as Matt starts his last year of college, and Jake starts his final year of high school.

There will be time for them to figure it out a little.

It doesn't have to be all angst, all the time, for kids.

"Why didn't you empty the laundry basket?" I asked Sam one day last week.

"I'm enjoying my childhood," he said.

Matt had said that for years and years and years.

I'm glad that they've been able to do that.

There are a lot of the other kind of days.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Great Stuff

I've done some resting so far on the Labor Day Weekend, which is what you're supposed to do.

Big pot of sauce.

Hanging with the beautiful wife, kids and dogs.

Like you're supposed to.

Ain't that America?

But there were also some of those life-changing events within a family and a circle of friends:


My niece and the niecettes.

Congrats to Katie & Matt who added a second child.

Everyone healthy and happy.

(You're completely cooked now, Matt).

Just perfect and the living proof that God wants us to have some fun as we are tortured down here.

Speaking of which:


I went to a wedding...

...when I say 'speaking of which'...

I meant the fun and not the torture....

But my great friends, the Renaldo's sent their boy, Jason off into marriage with a tremendous wedding.

Good food.

Laughs and hugs.

And I sat around on the outdoor porch at the reception, and looked back inside at everyone dressed, and laughing, and drinking and dancing and I appreciated the good stuff that life offers.

The great stuff.

Actually.

Heather Heyer

She was a 32-year old woman who wanted to protest the white supremacists in her town. She got killed for her stance. And it's pretty...