Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Eve Parties

It's funny but I can remember a whole bunch of New Year's Eve parties.

When we were kids my parents' friends used to come by and we'd eat a lot of food and hang out with them. Mom and Dad would have a few drinks and Frenchie and McGurk.

I really remember that Frenchie and McGurk would provide us with a lot of laughs.

As a teenager and well into my 20's I spent a lot of New Year's at the Buffalo Sabres game.

They did a Tux and Pucks night and I went a whole bunch of times...sometimes with a buddy...sometimes with a date.

The Sabres are home tonight - I won't be going.

In later years we had dinner and a whole lot of drinks with another couple. The kids were the one's who'd sit around and watch us drink and play cards and laugh.

We haven't done that in a couple of years.

In fact, last year I fell asleep at 10:30.

The first time that I had missed the New Year being ushered in.

And I'm not quite sure why I have sort of lost interest in the celebration.

I do like the idea of starting with a clean slate and believing that the door has been closed on a year that may not have gone as I wished.

We may mark the event this year...somehow.

There is also the real impulse to make some sort of promise to oneself.

I used to do that all the time.

I'd make lists.

"I'm gonna' read 100 books."

"I'm gonna' lose 20 pounds."

"I'm gonna' stop swearing."

"I'm not gonna' make fun of the suffering Bills fans."

No more sarcasm...sleep well...eat well...go to church...

...and on and on and on.

And then.

All the great thoughts are gone by about the 5th of January.

So. I stopped doing that too.

We need a new tradition around here.

I'm sure the boys will be talking about going out with their friends.

I'll keep you posted!

Happy New Year!

(Tell you early...in case I'm asleep).

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

D.B. of the Week - Author Katelyn Carmen

I've been sitting on this D.B. of the Week for a few weeks.

Perhaps you never heard of the author of a blog - Katelyn Carmen.

She gives advice - not sure if it's solicited or not - on marriage. Recently she wrote an opinion piece on what makes a marriage work. I caught up with it in the Huffington Post.

And I'm all for saying whatever the hell you want.

I'm also all for opinions...

...but I also have the backs of my female readers and this piece sort of hit me as being D.B. worthy.

Ready?

Carmen says that women are destroying their husbands because they employ five severely destructive things she says that will ultimately ruin a women's relationship with her husbands.

Carmen says that women should:

1). Always live within her husband's means.

2). Never complain.

3). Always put her husband first.

4). Use sex as a "sacred tool"

and

5). Never withhold sex.

So, I probably have a whole bunch of men out there wondering why I am giving her the D.B. of the Week award, right?

Men...she deserves a true award, right?

Well, women don't really care for such advice.

Let's listen:

"It turns out that while I've spent all these years trying to make us happy, I should have been worried about making him happy. Why? I don't know. Penis, I guess." - Meridith Bland on Mommyish.

"Never mind if you don't feel well of you're tired, or just not in the mood, your husband's needs surmount yours and it is your duty to give him all the pleasure he wants and needs." - Hemavathy DM Suppiah mockingly rephrasing Carmen's words.

My problem with all of it?

Well, there are no true guidelines on it and it just feels weird to me that a woman would write an article about women needing to serve their men.

What year is this?

"Never complain?"

That was the one that sort of got me...

In all seriousness there are men out there who treat women like a humping and beating post. Women don't deserve to be lumped into a situation where they are classified as servants who work for men.

You want to write an advice column on men-women relationships?

Two words:

Mutual respect.

That's it.

You can both complain.

You can both desire and deliver love-making.

No one is "first".

And of course, the financial advice is sound, but who makes more money in a relationship isn't the be-all and end-all of who should "be in charge."

"It's not your world."

Jake used to say that to someone who was being selfish.

Men and women need to understand that in a relationship.

It's both of your worlds.

Respect each other's wants and needs.

Equally.

So...that's my problem with it.

Carmen did write a piece that ignited debate.

Some of it was silly.

And that's my opinion.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Going Down In History

Well, 2014 is about to go down into the history books.

What kind of year?

I put a book out there.

Dogs On Main Street was a whole lot of fun.

I only went through a lot of the work because I liked it and I wanted to give it to the people who read along all these years.

They liked it!

So that was great.

It won an award at the New York Book Festival as well...so the work was validated.

The 27-Time World Champion Greatest Franchise in the History of Organized Sports missed the playoffs in Jeter's final year...so that wasn't great.

The Bills stretched their playoff-less streak to 15 years and the Sabres are really pretty bad.

So despite the fact that I'm only emotionally invested in the Yankees...

It wasn't a great sports year.

How about the politics of the land?

There were a whole bunch of arguments about guns early on.

Nothing was resolved.

Left and Right battled all year.

No cooperation.

Health Care or Not?

Everyone agreed we had to get it done, until it got done.

Then there was a fight about it.

Later in the year the argument went black versus white again.

A tired old battle that is rarely treated with dignity, and really shouldn't be a question anymore.

Two steps forward...three steps back.

The economy picked up, though?

Right?

Who takes the credit?

Who is to blame?

Who cares?

So tired of the back and forth.

Bruce had a great line about arguing constantly:

You get so sick of the fighting that you lose your fear of the end.

Are you a liberal or a conservative?

I don't care anymore.

Perhaps 2015 will be the year we remember that we're all Americans.

I doubt it.

As for Buffalo itself?

I've never seen a more busy year for construction.

2014 was unbelievably productive for a whole lot of folks.

There was work out there for any and everyone. If you were sitting on the sidelines this year it's because you wanted to.

One big job after another.

And it looks better.

Down where people might gather...

...it looks better.

But don't drift a couple of blocks over because there are still so many people living in straight up poverty.

There were gangs running around.

A shooting every night during the holiday season.

We hit the main spots...

...maybe in 2015 we can branch out a bit and take away more of the ugliness.

As the year winds down I keep thinking about making up a couple of new journal books.

I would like to produce another book.

I want to be around all year...

...with the people I love...

...just pissing and moaning about everything...

...that would be great.


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Featured Work - Eleanor Rigby - With A Story!

I was in the 9th grade. It was just another class, in the middle of all the long, usually boring classes.

Our teacher was Mr. Griffin. He was different from the other teachers because he was funny. So, I guess his class was different, but I didn't expect the lesson to go as it did. He plunked a tape player down in the middle of the room and played a Beatles song.

He told us that we were going to figure out the lyrics.

That simple exercise changed a whole lot of things for me because I truly stopped just listening to the music...after breaking it all down...I began studying it.

This song came onto my I-pod this morning as I was working. It's an amazing song.

This one goes out to P.J. Griffin.

Thanks for teaching this particular task.

Eleanor Rigby - Lennon & McCartney

Ah look at all the lonely people
Ah look at all the lonely people

Eleanor Rigby, picks up the rice
In the church where a wedding has been
Lives in a dream

Waits at the window, wearing the face
That she keeps in a jar by the door
Who is it for?

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?

All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Father McKenzie, writing the words
Of a sermon that no one will hear
No one comes near

Look at him working, darning his socks
In the night when there's nobody there
What does he care?

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?

All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Ah look at all the lonely people
Ah look at all the lonely people

Eleanor Rigby, died in the church
And was buried along with her name
Nobody came

Father McKenzie, wiping the dirt
From his hands as he walks from the grave
No one was saved

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?

All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Timber!

I'm not sure which book I read it in, but the author spoke about how everything that's created will someday come apart.

Everything.

You can build a structure out of the strongest materials, but eventually time and environmental conditions will break it apart.

The only thing that truly stays together is what is inside of you, and although we also, eventually break down and come apart, the essence of what we were is still intact.

And I believe...

...remains intact through eternity.

That sort of came to me at 3:03 a.m. on Christmas morning when the high winds whipped through Western New York.

I didn't really pay much mind to the weather reports because, let's be honest here, after the 85 inches of snow in November, nothing really scares me much.

"They're calling for a foot of snow!"

We shrug our shoulders.

Anywhoha...

The winds were slamming the house pretty good when I settled in for the Christmas Eve fitful sleep. Sam was promising that we'd all be up in a matter of hours so we were all sleeping fast.

CRASH!

That's all it was. One big crash.

"What the hell was that, Melky?" I asked.

Melky didn't audibly respond. She nosed up the shade and looked out and down the street. I looked out too.

Nothing seemed out of whack.

In the morning I stepped out to grab the paper off the front step and I saw the result of the crash.

The large tree in our front yard...the one everyone hated mowing around...the one that dropped little garbage apples all over...

...had come apart.

At one point in time someone had planted that tree, and marveled as it grew.

I have no idea how long it stood there.

The nearly 20 years I've been here...probably double that at least.

And it missed my bedroom by about twenty feet.

CRASH!

Less than 2 days later a guy stood in the yard and further took the tree apart, cutting it up, taking the wood, and raking away the branches.

The yard looks different.

I hated the tree when I mowed.

It was ugly.

No more apples!

But I'm gonna' miss it.

Because I'm a little sad it came apart.

Friday, December 26, 2014

That's It? It's Over?


In the Fazzolari household we do a pretty good job of just ripping through the food.

Then we whip through the presents.

And hammer down the desserts.

I kept thinking of Neil Young's song, Like A Hurricane yesterday.

And there was a point in the party at our house yesterday where two little kids - I'd put them at about 3 and 4 - were ripping up wrapping paper and throwing it in the air.

I thought about yelling for them to stop. After all, I'd be cleaning it up.

But I just let them go.

Partially because I was too tired - cooking for 40 or so isn't as easy as it used to be - but mostly because they were having a great time.

And my boys had a great time too. All the presents! I don't know how my beautiful wife pulls off gathering all of it.

But it truly is the love that you feel that stays longer than any gift that you received.

I'll soon be getting mustard all over the new clothes I unwrapped.

"These are good socks," Kathy said. "You won't get holes in them."

Wanna' bet?

So the gifts sorta' don't matter.

Instead I just walked around and observed everything.

From the crying, laughing and yelling kids at our house on Christmas Day (it looked like an episode of Romper Room), to the gathering at Mom's.

The game of scat.

Seeing Jeter and hearing him bark because he couldn't be with all of us because he can't walk!

The older kids playing beer pong.

Finding half a Pop Tart on a chair in my living room.

Taking it all in.

And a funny thing happened when I closed my eyes after everyone had left.

I didn't dream of any of it.

Instead.

I woke this morning feeling good.

My dreams had been dominated by my Dad and my brother, Jeff.

Guess they were saying Merry Christmas!

That's it? It's Over?

Nope.

It's never over.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!


“Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing but of reflection,” -- Winston Churchill

“Christmas is not a time nor a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy is to have the real spirit of Christmas,” -- Calvin Coolidge

“Don't let the past steal your present. This is the message of Christmas: We are never alone,” -- Taylor Caldwell

“It's true, Christmas can feel like a lot of work, particularly for mothers. But when you look back on all the Christmases in your life, you'll find you've created family traditions and lasting memories. Those memories, good and bad, are really what help to keep a family together over the long haul,” -- Caroline Kennedy

“Christmas is a season for kindling the fire for hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart,” -- Washington Irving

“Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone,” -- Charles M. Schulz

“Christmas is the day that holds all time together,” -- Alexander Smith

“The thing about Christmas is that it almost doesn't matter what mood you're in or what kind of a year you've had; it's a fresh start,” -- Kelly Clarkson

“Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind,” -- Mary Ellen Chase

“Christmas gives us the opportunity to pause and reflect on the important things around us -- a time when we can look back on the year that has passed and prepare for the year ahead,” -- David Cameron


“The main reason Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the bad girls live,” -- George Carlin

“Mail your packages early so the post office can lose them in time for Christmas,” -- Johnny Carson

“The Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot have a nativity scene in Washington, D.C. This wasn't for any religious reasons. They couldn't find three wise men and a virgin,” -- Jay Leno

“That's the true spirit of Christmas: people being helped by people other than me,” -- Jerry Seinfeld

“I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store, and he asked for my autograph,” -- Shirley Temple

“I once bought my kids a set of batteries for Christmas with a note on it, saying, 'Toys not included,'” -- Bernard Manning

“The Christian faith can never be separated from the soil of sacred events, from the choice made by God, who wanted to speak to us, to become man, to die and rise again, in a particular place and at a particular time.” -- Pope Benedict XVI

“God seeks to influence humanity. This is at the heart of the Christmas story. It is the story of light coming into the darkness, of a Savior to show us the way, of light overcoming the darkness, of God's work to save the world.” -- Adam Hamilton

“When you give up yourself, that's when you will feel the true spirit of Christmas. And that's giving that's serving others, and that's when you feel fulfilled.” -- Joel Osteen

“Christmas is joy, religious joy, an inner joy of light and peace.” -- Pope Francis

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve

The anticipation of Christmas is amazing.

In fact, that may be the most magical moment of all of it.

As a kid the excitement was almost too much to handle. I recall waiting for Santa to come flying by and of course, we all tried to catch him in the act. I still laugh at something that Springsteen once said about it during one of his concert raps.

Bruce said that he was kind of old when his sister broke the news that Santa wasn't real. Bruce confronted his Dad.

"Dad, I know that Santa doesn't make all the toys at the North Pole, but he exists, right?"

Bruce's Dad said:

"Ask your mother."

So, Bruce decides to stay up late and catch Santa in the act so he can prove to his sister that she is wrong. He hears the front door of the house open and he watches his Dad enter, on the front end of a brand new bike.

"Dad! It's you!" Bruce cries. "Where is Santa?"

"He's on the other end," Bruce's Dad says.

And there was so much to the whole Santa thing. I recall the exact moment when I found out.

My Dad and John called me into the bedroom and John said it very plainly:

"There's no Santa. Mom and Dad buy the presents."

My heart simply sunk.

I looked at Dad.

He nodded.

I can remember being pissed at both of them.

Why all the lying?

Of course, being on the other end of things was really exciting. The kids were so fired up and we could get them to behave a little bit:

"SANTA IS WATCHING!"

Sadly, that is also long gone.

But the anticipation isn't.

I felt the anticipation all day at work on both Monday and Tuesday. People have one foot out the door. There's so much to do. So many hands to shake.

"Have a good Christmas. Merry Christmas. Enjoy the family."

Yet, in the back of my mind I am also in unbelievable awe about the power of the day.

The love is almost a thing that you can reach out and touch.

Christ's Birth is celebrated.

And that is amazing.

For Christians it's an amazing time of the year.

I also believe that all other faiths are touched in some fashion.

The world just pauses.

Everyone seems happier, right?

How can you not go crazy with anticipation?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Happy Birthday, Dad


Whenever I think of my Dad's birthday I flip back in time to 1987.

We were living in New Haven, Connecticut. Just me and Dad. We had been working together at a project that was heading south. Dad was the big boss on the project and I was a clerk of the works, writing long detailed progress reports.

Except in December 1987 Dad made a decision to resign his position and take a job back in Buffalo. It took his replacement about 4 hours to decide my fate:

"We're letting you go," Tony told me. "Given your Dad's situation we feel it's best that you look for something else."

They were firing me just days before Christmas.

(It's still the only job I've ever lost).

Dad really didn't care much for the guy who was standing before me, relieving me of my duties.

So I didn't care for him either.

Tony, who was about 5'7" and 280 pounds, stood next to me as I cleaned out my desk as if I might steal something. There were 40 people in the immediate area, including Dad who was waiting patiently for me to leave.

(Dad had already found me a new position with another contractor on the same site so I wasn't broken-hearted about losing the job).

But I made Dad really proud when I shook the hand of the man who would be taking his place.

"Tony," I said. "I wish you luck, but there are two things that you know nothing about; construction and weight management."

The 40 people gathered roared with laughter.

It was an unbelievable way to leave a job.

We loaded all of Dad's belongings and some of mine and headed to my Mercury Capri for the long trip to Buffalo for the holiday. I kept thinking about the fact that it was Dad's 50th birthday.

50!

Man.

Dad did the driving, of course, because he didn't much trust my driving skills in the blowing snow. We were more than 200 miles from home when the car sputtered and spit and then quit.

Dad edged it to the side of the road and got out. He was swearing. I was quiet.

The hood was open. Cars were flying by. Dad had his head under the hood. He yelled for me to try it. The car made a try at starting but quit again.

Dad jumped back in.

I could see the wheels turning.

Then he smiled.

"Two things you know nothing about, construction and weight management!"

We laughed.

Dad thought a little more.

I couldn't help him. I knew absolutely nothing about the mechanics of a car engine (then or now).

"Crappy way to spend your birthday," I said.

He didn't answer.

"You know," he said. "I think the valve is stuck and the gas isn't getting to the engine."

"That's what I was thinking," I said.

Here we are:

27 years later.

I can still hear the laughter that erupted from Dad.

We laughed about that for years and years.

"That's what I was thinking," he would say.

Happy Birthday, Dad.

Miss you.

Love you.

I cherish the laughs.

Monday, December 22, 2014

I Really Wish

An unstable man, (there are plenty of these types of men out there), posts a picture of his gun and a couple of other things on social media about wanting to kill police officers because of how he feels about recent events.

He then shoots his girlfriend in the stomach and drives across a couple of states and hundreds of miles.

He walks up to a police car, and simply assassinates two police officers.

Then he does what all the grandstanding cowards do...he kills himself.

Unfortunately there are so many shootings every night and there have been so many horrific murders this year...but this one had a truly gut-wrenching feel to it.

We all know what has happened with the cops over the past few months. We know that there are still so many people so upset.

Yet what I really wish is that we somehow could respond someway that doesn't make matters worse.

"This is on Obama and Al Sharpton!" one man wrote.

Really?

A crazed man shoots three people and it's about something more than the mental illness in that decision?

I understand that people who hate want to assign hate...but man, I really don't think that anyone with anything other than a troubled mind...was hoping that something like this might happen.

Certainly I am not a fan of those who fanned the flames in Ferguson, or in New York when men lost their lives while struggling with the police.

I really wish that there was no resisting on the streets, or cops who had to use deadly force, for any reason, or humans who didn't hesitate when shooting others. I wish looters didn't loot. I wish the uninformed would keep their mouths shut.

Wish after wish after wish.

Yet I also really wish that the talking heads weren't hired to take one side of an incident to further the subject.

Rudy Guiliani did just that on Sunday.

He also put the blame on those who protested the rulings in the Ferguson and New York City cases. He included Obama in the protest camp.

Now I'm not a Guiliani fan and most of that comes from the fact that he couldn't get enough camera time. He was everywhere after 9/11 taking credit for any and everything.

(In a situation where credit-taking felt wrong).

It has just rubbed me the wrong way for a whole lot of years.

So when he went on television and started tossing blame around, other than where it belonged, it was too much to take.

Find one speech where Obama encouraged violence.

He certainly didn't.

Not when the rulings came down.

He did not appear on television on Saturday and say a gleeful word.

In fact, like every other rational thinking human being I'm sure he was sick to his stomach.

Republican or Democartic doesn't matter here, Rudy.

So why?

Why fan the flames?

Why continue to ramp up hatred?

I really wish those things would stop.

I really, really wish that men would stop killing other men.

(Too much to wish in this season of wishes, I know).

So I will do the only thing I know how to do:

I will try to sharpen the peace in my own heart and mind.

I wish that a whole lot more people would do just that.

I really wish that would happen.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

I'm Due

According to U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Guidelines, you are due to have a Colonoscopy performed to screen for colon cancer.

There's a feel good letter, huh?

Why did they capitalize Colonoscopy?

Why is it in bold letters?

I'll tell you why.

Because they know you're gonna' say:

"This sucks!"

Not sure if I've ever met anyone who was pumped for the old colon lookey-loo.

Of course the letter goes on to say that Colon cancer is one of the most common and yet preventable cancers if caught in the early stages and that failure to detect cancer can lead to premature death.

So, I'm gonna' make the phone call.

Sometime after the first of the year, I suppose.

"It's not so bad," a friend of mine said just a few months after he had the test done.

"But you like that sort of thing," I said.

He didn't laugh.

"Dude, I know a guy who got colon cancer. It was a nasty ride. He has really suffered. Get it done. A couple of bad days is better than hundreds of horrific days."

Man, I'm telling you!

This getting old ain't for the weak.

Coincidentally I was at a breakfast meeting the other day. The kid who sat next to me was a 21-year-old ironworker.

He ordered a coffee.

He put seven packets of sugar in it.

For breakfast he ordered the lumberjack special. It consisted of:

3 eggs (he ordered them over easy), 3 sausage links, three strips of bacon, home fries, an order of toast (he went with rye) and a few pancakes.

"Can I get a chocolate milk?" he asked.

I laughed.

"What? I'm hungry."

At 21, I might have ordered a 4th egg.

"God Bless you," I said.

I watched him plow through most of the breakfast, saving the pancakes for last.

"Will you eat lunch too?" I asked him.

"Nah," he said. "Maybe just a candy bar and a red bull later on."

"Before you know it they're gonna' be sending you Colonoscopy letters," I said.

He looked at me kind of funny. I'm sure he had no idea what I was talking about. He didn't look overly concerned about it either.

"Good luck with that, old man," he said.

He poured half a bottle of syrup over the pancakes and shoveled a couple of them in his mouth at once.

"You're making me sick," I said.

"Me? You're the one talking about a Colonoscopy."

Eat well, kid.

They're coming for you too.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Cyber Wars

What could Sony do?

If they played the movie, The Interview, there would have been lawsuits no matter what. Even if nothing happened there would have been a crafty lawyer out there who'd be willing to say that his client suffered an anxiety attack because he thought something might happen.

Sony would have been painted as greedy and callous.

So the flick got canceled.

Now people are saying that they're cowards.

And far be it of me to defend executives at a corporation, but the hack of their emails is scary because we seem to be in a cyber war of sorts.

I turned to a co-worker at a dinner the other night.

"How much trouble would you be in if they hacked your stuff...text messages included?"

He laughed and looked at another co-worker, who also laughed.

"What about you?" he shot back.

"Oh, if the dialogue of my exchanges became public there'd be a call for a public lynching," I said. "I'd be drawn and quartered."

He thought about it for a minute.

I could see a bit of fear being played out behind his eyes.

"Yeah, I'd be in trouble," he said.

And in this day and age it doesn't take much to be in trouble.

One badly worded joke here...

...one profanity-filled shout out to an old college roommate there...

...and you have a first-rate scandal.

There's so much fake rage going on these days. People get in an uproar for something. Two weeks later it's forgotten.

Chris Rock was talking about it the other day.

He mentioned Donald Sterling, the former Clippers owner who got in hot water when his private conversations were recorded and then played to a "horrified" public.

"All he said was that he didn't want his girlfriend to hang around with black basketball players," the very black Rock said and then he added:

"Me neither."

He's such a funny man.

And even he got in hot water over his Saturday Night Live bit a couple of months back.

My co-workers were actually considering changing their free-wheeling ways.

Not me.

As we used to say in college days:

"F%&* 'em if they can't take a joke."

Friday, December 19, 2014

Perspective & Compassion

Up nice and early on Wednesday to visit a contractor for a quick safety talk. Of course there was a Christmas party set and the employer delivered gifts to his employees.

A nice relaxed meeting.

Yet before it all got started I was chatting with an employee about getting out there to Christmas shop.

"I'm not doing any this year," he said.

I figured that he was a lot like me and that he didn't get out there because his wife handled it for him, but that wasn't the case.

"I'm about to lose my car and then my house," he said. "I haven't been able to work because I got hurt and until I get surgery I'm in trouble. Disability just isn't cutting it. There won't be any presents under the tree this year. In fact, no tree!"

He actually laughed.

I wasn't real sure what to say. I asked him about his injury and he told me that it was just a freak thing that happened around the house, but he was certainly really injured.

"The money goes fast when there isn't a steady stream coming in," he said.

We chatted for a few more minutes and he assured me that he'd be fine.

"Christmas isn't about money," he said.

As I was leaving the meeting I saw the employee once more. He was carrying a box that was handed to him at the back of the room.

"What did you get?" I asked.

"Steaks, pork loins, a ham. It's awesome."

I shook his hand and wished him a great Christmas.

Yet as I drove away I couldn't help but feel a huge wave of compassion for the guy and for all the other guys and gals out there who are suffering as he is.

There are a whole bunch of reasons for the suffering. All kinds of people are certainly going through all sorts of things. The Buffalo News runs a feature about the neediest people in the community and a lot of times I don't read the story.

I just skip it because I don't want to feel their pain.

And I know that I've been blessed, for sure. I've had some physical problems, but I've been able to fight through them.

Some people just can't.

So, there's a whole lot to think about during the Christmas season.

There are people out there who need a little bit of help.

We certainly try to do that.

Yet perhaps the most important thing to come out of my early morning conversation was the fact that my perspective on the season was changed a bit.

We'll eat good.

We'll exchange presents.

We'll hang out with our loved ones.

And we won't take it all for granted.

I hope you don't either.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

D.B. of the Week: The Media

Everyone blames the media for everything.

Some dumb bastard gets caught doing something, or saying something ignorant and eventually the complaint will be that the media twisted it all out of proportion.

Usually it's lame to blame the media.

Not this week:

They get the D.B. of the week award.

Of course I'm talking about the SONY breach and the Seth Rogan-James Franco movie The Interview.

For those not following along (it's been an awful week with mass shootings everywhere...plenty of horrendous news all over) but the movie is set to come out on Christmas. It's a crazy comedy about Rogen and Franco as journalists who are sent to kill the North Korean leader Kim Jong Junior.

North Korea is upset about it and when crazy people get upset then really nasty things happen.

(Allegedly...I don't want any hate, folks!)

I can't wait to see the flick.

Yet, as punishment for the movie coming out SONY's top executives had their email hacked and some really embarrassing stuff was released.

We aren't supposed to see behind the scenes of a movie being made. One of the Executives made fun of Angelina Jolie. Another took a shot at Franco. Even worse the private conversations of people were made public...

...and this is where I blame the media.

It all started with the O.J. Simpson trial back in 1994. How the news was reported was changed back then. Now everyone is looking for the scoop. Now there is BREAKING NEWS written below every stupid talking head everywhere. Once reputable newspapers are rolling around in the mud in an effort to get an audience.

The entire media has stooped to the lowest depths possible.

On every story.

And so, a story that could have been easily reported without inflicting harm is just flat-out killing people.

Gawker, TMZ, the outlets that are releasing photos of naked celebrities...

...it's all a mess.

I remember years ago doing my thesis on journalistic integrity. I remember that my professor said:

"This won't take long - there isn't any."

We all laughed.

Yet there used to be responsible reporting. People used to check their sources and decide whether or not something had to be reported.

Now?

Nothing is off-limits!

The people who work in the media disgrace themselves every single day.

This week they get the honor.

Bunch of D.B.'s.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Judge

Robert Duvall is a great actor.

Robert Downey Jr. might be better than him.

We finally got to the theater to see the movie The Judge. We'd been wanting to see it since they first ran the previews. We waited long enough to see it in a theater that only cost $3 bucks to get in. I almost felt bad handing over so little money to the guy.

He got me back on the small popcorn.

That was $6.

The movie was all about family.

Love.

Loss.

Being pissed off.

It was nearly two and a half hours long and didn't include a car chase, long drawn out sex scenes or even rough language that was even memorable.

Kathy never left her seat once and commented later that it was just so intense all the way through. I looked at her at one point and she had tears in her eyes.

"What the hell are you crying about?"

But it was that sort of movie, and when the actors really get it right...you can sort of watch them all day.

I'd believe Robert Downey Jr. as Porky Pig.

And it's sort of funny being on a date with your wife. When we were kids going to a movie as a date was a big deal. I recalled who I saw the Rocky movies, E.T. and a whole bunch of other movies with:

Jeff Renaldo.

We also had dates with us, but they were sort of interchangeable and we dropped them off before we went to eat.

"You wanna' hold hands?" Kathy asked.

"Sure," I said.

Four seconds later I said:

"I don't wanna' hold hands."

"Good," she answered.

And like I said, it was a small crowd - there weren't more than ten people in the place. During the previews Sam sent me an update on a ballgame.

I glanced at my phone.

"Excuse me!" Some guy yelled. "Can you turn your phone off?"

The guy was three rows back and off to the side. He was at least 450 pounds. He certainly wanted to fight me on it. In fact I'd go so far as to say that he was searching the crowd waiting to pounce on someone for the cell phone offense.

I laughed.

And put the phone away.

Throughout the movie I thought of turning to him when he rustled through the popcorn bag or talked loudly.

I let it go.

Some people just wanna' be a judge.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Childhood Friends

My buddy Tom is celebrating his 50th birthday today.

I can clearly recall the first time I met Tom. He had walked into my parents backyard holding a football.

"Can I play?" he asked.

We were ten years old at the time.

Tom lived four houses up the road. The Popple family was a hop, skip and a jump across the road and they were flanked by the Lauber's and the Nagel's. The Rodlers, the Downes, the Awalds and the Doles were all within walking distance.

There were kids our age everywhere.

And we all played together...

...outside.

Baseball, basketball, football, hockey.

Every single day there was a game going.

In fact, the games were so legendary, in our backyard, that soon there were other kids getting off the bus to come and play.

Usually one or two kids stuck around for dinner, and I never once heard my mother or father complain about feeding any of them. In fact, Dad was like the guard dog at the door. He had to like the friend and the friend had to eat everything on his plate.

My Dad really liked Tom.

Even if he called Tom by a nickname which was a slur related to his polish heritage.

Every time.

And Tom would battle back. There was an epic scene where Tom was laying on the couch, in the spot where my father wanted to sit.

"Get up you poll&*$," Dad said.

"Make me, old man," Tom said.

My father picked him up by a couple of low-hanging things that are usually not handled in a fair fight.

"I'm done! I'm done!" Tom yelled out.

And here we are 40 years later.

My boys bring kids by all the time.

There aren't sporting events in the backyard...they now play them out on a screen.

Last week my boys mentioned that their friend, Quinn, had a surprise for me.

"You're in the NBA," Quinn said as he ate the steak and fries I'd set out for him.

The boys got the controllers and howled through the showing me that Quinn had created a player with my name.

'Clifford Fazzolari' was on the screen - a backup guard for the Washington Wizards who averaged less than 4 points a game.

"Why?" I asked.

They all laughed.

Childhood friends.

They're worth their weight in gold.

Happy Birthday, Tom...I have enough dirt on you to last thirty lifetimes...but man it's been fun.

I hope you have 40 more fun years in ya.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Famous Last Words

Evidently Steve Jobs last words were:

Oh Wow. Oh Wow. Oh Wow.

Now I'm not sure if he was glimpsing the other side or if he just sort of mumbled his way out of here, but the concept of last words sort of struck me as something that might be interesting to read about.

Everything is available these days.

I kind of like the last word of Italian artist Raphael:

Happy.

That's a good last word.

Blues singer Bessie Smith said:

I'm going, but I'm going in the name of the Lord.

She had packed her bags just in case.

The Chairman of the Board, Sinatra said:

I'm losing it.

Elvis' last words were even sadder.

I'm going to the bathroom to read.

But the whole last words thing is really strange when you think of Pistol Pete Maravich, who died so young, who said:

I feel great

Buddy Rich had a funny line. As he was being prepped for surgery that he would never come out of the nurse asked him if there was anything he 'couldn't take' (medicine-wise), Buddy said:

Yeah. Country music.

That wasn't even the funniest, I suppose. Murderer James Rodgers was placed in front of the firing squad in Utah. He was asked if he 'needed anything else' before the shooting started. His last words were:

Bring me a bullet-proof vest.

Ben Franklin?

A dying man can do nothing easy.

I suppose that you'll never truly know what the last words might be. Perhaps there will be a production of sorts as you see it coming. Yet there are those who never know what the last sentence might be.

da Vinci was overly critical of himself:

I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have.

There will be a last sentence, folks.

And then we're off.

Oh Wow. Oh Wow. Oh Wow.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Torture Tactics

Okay, here we go...a sore subject, I suppose.

Where do we draw the line on torture?

Is it okay to keep someone awake for 180 hours or so as we try and drag sensitive information out of their tired brains?

How about water-boarding to the edge of drowning?

Is that okay?

These are all questions that Americans are being forced to answer because of an old report that has just been released. It dates back to the Bush-Cheney days following 9/11. Obama voted to leave the debate in the past so no one is gonna' get in trouble over it.

So the debate is pretty healthy.

Everyone has an opinion.

Here's mine.

First off, I'm really not shocked by the report, I guess, and that's sad in and of itself.

I'm not shocked that Americans are engaging in torture.

And that's because all of it is sort of stomach-churning.

You know, the war thing. I'm not a fan. It's not a ballgame.

I kinda' think that's important to say because there's a little of that going on.

I remember standing in a bar when the air strikes went out during the first gulf war - George H. Bush at the helm - the planes were shown high above Iraq and we were treated to the shock and awe of the bombs being released.

The people in the bar cheered.

I was the only guy not cheering!

Now mind you, it was a bar. Beverages were being served. Folks had revenge on their minds. The announcer was talking about the awesome display of power and force.

I just kept thinking:

"There are people living down there."

Killing them appears worse to me than torturing them.

So therefore, I'm not shocked by the reports.

Yet all the countries in all the world had talked about torture, hadn't they?

They sort of set up rules of engagement.

I suppose, like the NFL, none of the big shots really know the rules.

(Yeah, another game reference).

I just suppose that the torture of another human being is way too much for my mind to comprehend.

You're safe in your home, aren't you? one letter writer wrote. Let them do whatever they want to get the information we need!

That's the kind of sharp thinking we need, right?

There really is something about being a nation that is above the barbaric ways of some of the lowest of all humans who've ever walked the planet.

All's fair! Another guy wrote. They do it to us! We have to do it to them!!

I didn't recognize the name of the guy who wrote that line...but in my imagination he was one of the people standing beside me in that bar all those years ago...

Cheering the start of the war...

...and reveling in how awesome the show of force looked on television.

He's also a guy who most likely pulled the hair of his son because the son had pulled the hair of the daughter.

You know...'You did it first'!

Do we need to torture other people?

You make up your own mind.

I really don't have much of a stomach for any of the violence.

I'll let the people who love it shout out about it.

But then don't be surprised when it's brought back around.

Don't claim that "they're animals!"

You can't have it both ways.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Things We Save

I received a letter in the mail requesting some old paperwork.

From 2009 through 2011.

They wanted just three pieces of paper from back in those days.

So, off I went, looking for them.

I'm usually pretty organized. I have a couple of spots where I keep papers that I need and normally I can put my hands on what is required.

But I couldn't find them.

Which didn't set off a panic, mind you because I knew that if I didn't have them in the right spot there was one reason why they were moved:

My beautiful wife.

I knew that when she got home we'd be able to find where she had filed them.

Hopefully.

Yet the pleasure was in the journey.

I looked through the box where I had put any and all newspaper clippings for the books.

I actually read the book review for Nobody's Home.

I read a couple of letters from a producer who'd been looking at making a movie of Counting On A Miracle.

I found my 1993 tax return.

And then the pile of newspapers.

I saved the paper from September 12, 2001 - the devastation of that day and the letter that I'd written and had published in about ten papers. I even read the letter again.

There was Jeter jumping on the cover of the October 1996 USA Today after the Yankees finally won.

I found a letter of IOU's that Jake had presented me with for my birthday. I told him to clean his room and presented him with the coupon, but he said that it had expired.

He then asked me to shut his door so he could go back to Madden.

Every birthday and Christmas card I've received since 1990 was in that box.

I looked at the wedding photo from my buddy Jeff Renaldo's wedding.

He's been married for about 40 years so there have been some changes, buddy.

(I still look the same).

I still have the scorebooks from the old softball games - The Lions Rule!!! - I led the team in hitting.

(I kept the books).

And I thought about throwing some of the stuff out.

But I didn't.

I packed it all back in the boxes.

I'll read it all again someday.

When I'm older and grayer.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Instant Karma, My Ass

Yesterday a story made the rounds on all the social media sites.

It seems a 450-pound Florida man won $3 million in the lottery.

Good for him, right?

Well, he was a convicted sex offender and not one of those got 'caught peeing in the woods' types of offenders. His offense was hardcore, evidently, dealing with a 9-year old.

Which immediately made me think of karma and the fact that we're supposed to get what we have coming to us, right?

I had that very debate with a dopey bastard (who will remain nameless) just a few weeks earlier.

I said that there's no such thing as karma - "otherwise all the people on death row would be suffering with some sort of debilitating disease".

Right?

Anyway, I was inspired.

I bought five Win for Life tickets.

The fat sex offender won his three mil on a scratch-off.

You know what I won?

Yeah.

Nothing.

Not a dime.

Where's my karma?

There are a lot of people who really think that people who cause pain will eventually 'get what they have coming to them' but the truth of the matter is that they often don't.

Then there are those who believe:

That you will one day be judged by God and you will 'pay for your sins.'

What if that isn't true, either?

What if you get there and stand in judgement and somehow the records are all off?

What if the recent lottery winners records are somehow mixed up with a guy who lived a nice quiet, penance-filled life?

It could happen, right?

"Um, we're sorry, Mr. Fazzolari but we lost all of our records in a big flood. We aren't sure if you were naughty or nice. We're just giving the same penalty across the board and we are choosing heaven or hell based on the flip of this here coin. Uh-oh, you got tails - down you go."

Hopefully there is a ledger of sorts out there.

And that we get credit for what we have done right.

But it's hard to know, right?

What gets you in or out of heaven?

Is it based on a curve?

"Your college days really hurt you here. We have you down for a 74. The passing grade is 75 because of all those elderly people who say the rosary one time after another. Sorry. Dress light. It's warm there."

I'm not quite sure what the deal is.

I just know that I got a bit of a sick feeling when I read about the guy who claimed the lottery prize.

Here's hoping that he doesn't have any lingering deviant thoughts.

I pray that he does some good with the extra coin in his pocket.

Karma just didn't get him.

That's why it's garbage, Pops.

Oops.

Did I just out you as the dopey bastard I was having the discussion with?


Thursday, December 11, 2014

D.B. of the Week - Thomas Vanek

Thomas Vanek is a hockey player for the Minnesota Wild.

He played a lot of years with the Sabres and while he scored a lot of goals while he was here, he eventually left because he wanted a new contract that paid him a lot more money than what the Sabres were willing to spend.

I now know why he wanted more money.

You see, it is being alleged that Vanek liked to bet on sports.

The man who took those bets had a lot to say about Vanek's proficiency as a gambler.

Let's just say that he's a better hockey player.

This week's D.B. of the week reportedly was ten million bucks in the hole while betting on sports!

Ten Million Dollars!

That's a whole bunch of stupid bets, right?

"He wasn't very good at it," the bookie said.

Of course, when you bet and lose people want to be paid.

Vanek was pressured.

He wrote a check for more than $200,000.

The bookie cashed it and paid for a wedding.

The cops got wind of the whole sordid circuit and there were a whole lot of arrests.

Vanek, evidently, isn't in danger of spending time in the real penalty box.

But man, losing that much when you're betting is pretty much D.B. worthy.

I can't imagine the angst.

My beautiful wife and I like to hit the casino now and again and play the slots. I feel nauseous on the nights when the money we set aside to go is lost.

I imagine that I might have to throw up if I bet the Cowboys to cover and they lose against the spread when the other team scores a touchdown with 12 seconds left.

I still hate Rich Gannon for that reason.

I had purchased a square for one of the Super Bowls - Raiders - Tampa.

Tampa was crushing them.

The game was over.

I had the winning numbers.

About 5 grand.

Gannon was gonna' run one final play from about midfield.

"Just don't score on a Hail Mary!" I yelled.

But Gannon threw to the goal line.

The ball was picked off.

I screamed in triumph.

But the guy who had the ball was still on his feet.

And running fast.

Up the sideline.

One man to beat.

Gannon.

Evidently it didn't matter one bit to Gannon. He let the guy pass.

Touchdown!

The score changed.

Man, I felt like a real D.B.

Kinda' like Thomas Vanek, I suppose.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Royals

That Kate Middleton is one good-looking girl, isn't she?

She's no Kathy Fazzolari, mind you, but she is certainly attractive.

Therefore, I don't much mind when they come around these parts. I think they're in the country to save the rhinos or something, but regardless...we roll out the red carpet.

Which is really weird, right?

Kings and queens and princes and princesses. It's all so fairy tale like and they appear to be just regular folk.

Royal blood?

Weird.

Yet what sort of galls me about it is that they went to a basketball game and they had the chance to sit with the king and queen of America.

Jay-Z and Beyonce.

Of course, Beyonce is also a fetching young lady, but I'm a little turned off by Jay-Z.

First off he represented Cano and after years and years of wearing the Yankee cap he ushered Robby right out the door. Now when I see him in a Yankee cap I scream at the television.

Then I am of the opinion that his "music" sort of really stinks.

I guess that I'm truly out of the loop on this one because he's sold millions and millions of records and he's supposedly the greatest hip-hop guy ever, but to me he's just the guy who sounds like a bit of a lunatic screaming angrily behind Alicia Keys as she sings the heck out of that New York song.

Do we really need him in the background yelling out names of places in an around New York?

Anywhoha...

There were the two sets of royalty sitting at the basketball game and here comes Floppy the Crybaby (LeBron) wearing a shirt that says "I can't breathe."

Originally I thought he had the shirt on because it was a big game and he was about to choke again like he did in last year's Finals.

(Not really...I knew he was being 'cool' with his protest).

Yet LeBron, who calls himself 'The King' walked right over and put his arm around Kate.

People were all up in arms about this because:

Get this...

...people aren't supposed to just touch royalty!

Evidently common folk like 'The King' aren't worthy to just drape their arms around royal blood.

'The King', Jay-Z, Prince William, Kate and Beyonce...

...I'm not worthy.

"Bah!" as my Dad might have said.

Just BAH!!!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

I Ate a Garnish

Okay.

I was confused.

I'd only had Creme Brulle one other time.

We were a group at a restaurant that was pretty wild in the first place. The Brazilian restaurant featured a salad bar and then a group of waiters coming by with unbelievable cuts of meats on big sticks.

We could eat as much as we wanted.

I felt like a dog who is left behind on vacation with the entire bag of food at his disposal.

"I might eat until I fall on the floor," I mentioned.

Yet I wasn't alone.

All six of us were eating like mad.

"Sort of feels like the Roman Empire days," I said.

"Restaurants like these are why the vomatoriums became popular," my brother-in-law Chuck said.

We laughed.

So, I was a bit discombobulated when the desserts were offered.

But I remembered that the Creme Brulle was good.

I ordered it.

It was served with what looked like a cinnamon candy stick on the top of the dessert.

I sniffed it.

Definitely cinnamon.

I bit it.

No one was watching me. They were all eating their own desserts.

The chewing of it was a little rough, but I actually bit it again.

Then I realized something:

I was actually chewing on what felt like wood.

Chuck saw what I was doing and the laugh he emitted made everyone look in my direction as I spit the wood into my napkin.

"I thought it was candy," I said.

When the waitress came around I asked her if that mistake had been made before.

"No," she said. "I've never seen anyone actually attempt to eat that particular garnish."

She wanted to laugh, but didn't.

Everyone else did.

We made the trip home. I could hardly move.

Due to work constraints Sam had been my date for the dinner, but he did exactly what Kathy might've done in the same situation:

He started to make phone calls...

...to tell everyone we know that I had attempted, after eating a whole lot of filet, to eat a piece of wood.

Damn!

It smelled good!

Monday, December 8, 2014

At Shortstop: Didi Gregorious


Not sure if the family is gonna' make the trip to the cathedral of baseball, Yankee Stadium, to see the new shortstop:

Didi Gregorious.

Wow.

Yet I recall 1996 when the Yankees broke camp with a rookie shortstop, Derek Jeter.

No Team Has Ever Won A World Series With A Rookie SS, the headlined screamed.

I had mentioned that to my brother, Jeff. I also asked:

"How long before they trade for a shortstop? They gotta' replace this kid. He can't hit."

I changed my mind quickly, of course, and forever more people can't say that 'no team has ever won a World Series with a rookie shortstop'.

Because the '96 Yankees did.

And to answer my question...'How long before they trade for a shortstop?'

18 years.

But it's weird, right?

The infield is now most likely to be:

Texeiria, Refsnyder, Gregorious and Prado.

Wow.

Perhaps there were those in Yankee land who felt the same when Mantle left.

"Bobby Murcer?"

"They're gonna' try and win with someone named 'Bobby Murcer'?"

And they didn't win for a long time.

It took quite awhile before Mantle turned into Reggie.

"Your Yankees are gonna' stink," I hear every single day.

Maybe.

They asked Brian Cashman about the expectations on Gregorious. He said that he wasn't trying to find Derek Jeter's replacement because Jeter was "one in a billion."

I have a feeling that we will all pine for the days when Jeter was in charge of the middle of the infield.

"They got young and athletic," one of the reporters said.

Mom cried when Jeter took the field back in July because she knew it was the end of an era.

Wonder how she's gonna' handle Gregarious standing in his spot.

Damn.

Young and athletic.

I'm gonna' miss the old and geriatric.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Hands Up?

Twitter is a weird place.

I go there quite a bit. In fact, I never thought I'd be finding my news in 140-character stories. But when there is baseball news being reported I open up the little blue bird icon and search.

Of course there is plenty of other stuff on there.

Like porn, or social commentary, or porn, or sports editorials, or porn.

There are also about 740 photos of Kim Kardashian's ass.

The other night I was sifting through such drivel when I saw a photo of Michael Sam (the gay, unemployed football player) and Dave Chapelle (the extremely funny comedian). They were posing for the camera with their hands up in the air.

I get it, I suppose. They are black men and they are showing their support for the men who died when in confrontation with the police.

Yet, don't let the facts get in the way, right?

Listen...I know why people are protesting. I know why there are demonstrations by both the black and white all across the country. I was absolutely up in arms when Trayvon Martin was shot by George Zimmerman. That still aggravates me, but did Michael Brown have his hands in the air?

Evidence seems to point elsewhere.

And in the death of Eric Garner in New York there also appeared to be circumstances that were a little different.

However.

I am a little lost on why the grand jury simply ends all discussion. Perhaps a trial would clear up all questions. People who do that sort of thing for a living made decisions that have proved to be wildly unpopular.

Yet the photo bugged me a little because it does spread a thought that has been denounced.

I can honestly say that I won't die at the hands of a policeman.

There are a few reasons I can be definitive about that.

1). I don't normally participate in illegal activities.

2). I am not targeted for anything because of my appearance.

3). If they wanted me to cooperate so they could cuff me I'd probably do so. I'm not a 'fight back' sort of person.

But it is about perspective.

There are folks who simply don't trust the police.

There are cops who feel differently about some of the neighborhoods they enter.

It's a complicated issue to be sure.

I feel for all of those who are hurt.

But I'm not sure that the discussion is being furthered by celebrities showing solidarity by posing inaccurately.

I do not think that either of the cops involved in recent events went on the street that day and thought: I want to murder an innocent black person today.

Have Chapelle and Sam been targeted?

Maybe.

But I'm scared by it all.

Will there be a black versus white race riot some day in the near future?

Will there be a war within the borders of our own country based on a failure to fully understand one another?

I didn't think so just a few months ago.

Now I'm just not sure.

Another thing for our kids to dread in a world gone mad.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Happy Birthday Corinne!


My sister is celebrating a birthday today!

All hail the Queen!!

And of course, Corinne has been a tremendous part of my life since day one. We have been through the entire catastrophe of a beautiful life together as siblings in a close family.

We've laughed for hours.

We've cried for months.

We've shared food and beverages.

We have had deep conversations about meaningless subjects and we've had silly conversations about the most important of all matters.

We've disagreed, agreed and agreed to disagree.

There have been moments when we weren't thrilled with one another, I'm sure (although I am certainly eternally lovable), but we've always known one thing to be sure:

Love is where it's at.

Corinne means a lot to the entire family. Along with her truly lovely husband, Charles, she brings entertainment to my boys.

"She's a freaking beauty," one of my kids comments every few weeks.

And then they laugh.

Every year we get to see Corinne at her very best as she works so hard for the cancer-awareness race.

She has her own team:

The Queen Team.

And her group follows her like disciples.

The passion in which she works for the cause is remarkable.

And I enjoy standing back and watching how hard she works to help others.

Of course, Corinne loves her birthday.

Anyone who knows her knows that.

So, Happy Birthday, Cort!

Enjoy the day.

You're a beauty.

We love you.

Friday, December 5, 2014

But We Wanna' Lose!

The Buffalo Sabres are playing great.

And people are starting to get really peeved about it here in Buffalo.

Seriously.

Why would fans of the team be rooting for them to lose?

Well, because the first and second picks of next year's draft are supposed to be really great players.

To be honest with you, I don't know much about the budding superstars. I know the one kid is named McDavid and he is tearing it up in Erie, PA., but I have never seen him play.

Evidently he's like Crosby from Pittsburgh, or even better, Wayne Gretzky.

The team that gets him will be an instant contender, or so say the experts. The guy who's supposed to go second in the draft is also a game-changer.

So tank it, right?

Well, evidently the Sabres coach didn't get the memo. Ted Nolan is whipping the current group into shape and after a horrific start to the season the kids are working hard and not only competing, but, gulp...

...winning.

I've pretty much lost interest in the sport. I was once a real hockey fan, but the game seems slow to me...there are too many goalies and the real goalies are wearing mattress pads.

Offense is down and the game moves at glacier speed.

To me.

Yet I have suddenly grown interested in this group of players because they're doing something that no one wants them to actually do:

"They should be losing! They can't even do this right! Fire the coach!! Trade the goalie!!! We need to finish last!!!!"

That was a real comment from a local Sabres feed.

Should the team try to lose short-term in order to be great in the future?

I don't know why, but I find it fascinating.

The thing about people is that, for the most part, people want to do their jobs well.

Who actually goes to their job and thinks:

"I suck at this and I don't care."

I'm sure there are some.

But most people truly don't want to be bad at what they do.

And how do you actually try to be horrible?

Do you pass the puck to the other team?

Do you actually let the puck go into your net?

Do you just go out there for a leisurely skate?

Can you imagine the post-game interview if you were actually trying to go the other way with it?

"I was coming down on the breakaway and I saw the wide open net, but thankfully I shot it wide. Damn! If I would've scored there we might've won and that's just NOT what we're trying to do here. If I would've scored, Nolan would've benched me. I can't be scoring out there when we are trying to draft McDavid. I better slow down out there or they'll send me to the minors. I just gotta' be worse."

Yet I can't be any more clear on people who are actually rooting for their own team to lose.

"Leave it to the Sabres to bungle this by trying to win. What a bunch of a@#$@#les!"

Hey, think about it, folks:

We could be the Philadelphia 76ers fans.

They might finish their basketball season zero for 82.

Now that's tanking it!

I'm sure their fans are proud.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

D.B. of the Week - Al Sharpton

All right, I admit it. I'm being a little lazy because this one is so easy.

Al Sharpton could be D.B. of the week about 30 times a year.

He's so eternally annoying.

Yet as soon as the verdict was announced in Ferguson you knew that Sharpton would be front and center, screaming about the horrors of it all.

And perhaps Sharpton does speak for someone somewhere, but you wish that he would center in on the facts of a case instead of just spewing hate speech which he disguises as love speech.

Is there a point to the protest for Sharpton in Ferguson?

Well, that is a much healthier debate.

Certainly, maybe, perhaps, maybe not.

The thing about it is that Sharpton, and his partner in 'I'm-talking-here-but-you-have-no-idea-what-words-I'm-trying-to-string-together,' Jessie Jackson simply step out front and fuel what is already a highly combustible situation.

And it sort of rubs people the wrong way.

Now I know that both Sharpton and Jackson have had a lot of problems when it comes to their own personal finances but that's not the point, right?

Well, that's sort of why Sharpton claims D.B. of the week...

...because it sort of is his point.

Seems to me to be a money grab of sorts.

Martin Luther King Jr. had a lot to say in the name of civil rights. His words were impassioned by what he believed, and what he believed was on the mark.

All folks deserve the same sort of treatment...

...but it's also based upon the actions of the individual.

The issue at hand should be considered.

The same side isn't wrong every single time.

To me MLK's words did not smack of a money grab, or a chance to stand in front of the camera and spew what could be considered as racist speech from the other side.

Look, people deserve the right to protest.

But the protest should be done in a civil manner.

I'm not quite sure that the words coming from Sharpton, immediately after the verdict, lend themselves to a full debate on the issue.

This issue, or any issue.

You can always predict the rhetoric.

I often wonder if Sharpton, or Jackson, for that matter even believe what they're saying anymore.

I vote that they have set race relations back about twenty years.

Now, I could be wrong here.

It's a slippery subject.

Perhaps Sharpton means something else to other people.

I'm just a uninitiated white guy living a normal American life.

To me he comes off as D.B. of the week.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Christmas Shopping

It's been quite a few years now since I've worried much about the gifts that we hand out around here.

A friend of mine with a young son posted a photo of what his boy wanted for Christmas:

Transformers and Power Rangers.

Those were the days when I was fully engaged.

I'd help Kathy search out the toys that the kids wanted because I was deathly afraid of what might happen if they didn't get them.

I hated the tantrums.

I remember the year when it was all about Godzilla and the new Godzilla movie that was coming out. The Cartoon Network was promoting that thing heavily, and you can look up this information, but do you know when they finally released it?

December 26.

Yeah, I had to have a long, drawn-out debate about why it wasn't under the tree when it was supposed to be.

I blamed it on Santa, that fat, lazy bastard.

Yet it all feels weird to me now.

Kathy does all the shopping - most of it in an epic two or three day event right after Thanksgiving.

God Bless her.

Nothing I hate more than meeting total strangers in a commerce situation.

I never know what I'm getting.

I know less about what she's getting.

And the kids?

There's no more mystery there either.

What they want is pretty much laid out for everyone to see.

Is there something lost there?

I suppose.

Yet it seems to take away a lot of the general angst about the gift-giving process. We sort of know the score and with a lot of the chasing-crap-around gone early...we just sort of sit back and get ready for the days.

And we enjoy it more.

Now there may certainly be surprises.

Little tokens that are meant to get a reaction. I'm sure that I'll look around a bit and see if I can find something special, but I'm certainly not going to be running into any malls or standing in any lines.

And if I don't come up with anything it really won't matter because we have a handle on the important parts of the season...

...and besides I can always blame Santa.

...that fat, lazy bastard.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Luckiest People Marry Italians


My beautiful wife really needs to get this shirt for Christmas.

'Cause she got lucky.

And perhaps there is a downside to marrying an Italian-American, but one thing is for certain:

Food is always in one stage of preparation or another.

Of course, there are a couple of minor downsides...

...like the need for things to be in order...

...the need for constant movement...

...the sometimes quick temper.

We watched a movie about an old mobster getting out of jail and returning to his old neighborhood. I liked the movie (despite the tired old Italian-mafia theme) because the guy talked like my Dad and my Grandpa.

Everything was black and white.

Food preparation was evident.

Family was supremely important.

And best of all, when the guy swore in Italian, I laughed out loud.

He was short-tempered, principled and straight-forward.

My wife was watching along, of course, and I mentioned that the guy was a lot like Grandpa.

"That's a nightmare," she said.

"You always knew where you stood, and you always ate really well."

There's the need for a garden.

The true need to have a couple of kitchens.

The fierce loyalty.

The sense of right and wrong.

Damn my wife got lucky!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Understanding Hate

We are now in season 4 of Homeland and there's a scene where Saul is talking to an Islamic terrorist and they're speaking of the hate the country has for Americans. Saul gives an impassioned speech, wondering about how the guy can kill off his own family in the name of religion.

The guy explains that the hatred in his heart is too much to take and it wipes out all other emotions.

That is crazy to me.

The other day a guy on Facebook posted that the Mets have a better chance of making the playoffs in 2015 than the Yankees do.

I mentioned that:

"I hear the same thing every year. It's only November. 1986 was a long time ago."

Nothing bad...just pure baseball rhetoric.

Someone I've never met commented:

"As a Yankee fan, Your (sic) a card carrying ass%&le and you should just STFU."

Even with my limited understanding of all these initials I knew what that stood for.

(By the way...'your' and 'you're' must've really been difficult to grasp back in grammar school).

"Geez, dude," I answered. "A little rough, huh?"

The guy then went on another profanity filled rant. I wished him a 'Happy Thanksgiving' and signed off.

His hate wasn't about me.

He doesn't even know me.

Perhaps he hates the Yankees and really loves the Mets (which illuminates his obvious mental condition) but in any regard I pictured him on the other end of that feed, just frothing at the mouth.

Who has time for such bitterness?

There's a lot of it out there in the real world as well.

When something major happens it is almost worth it just to read the comment sections to see the hatred coming through. People feel as if they are insulated by what they say to one another on there, but the civility is mostly gone.

There's name-calling.

Very little tolerance.

An understanding that you're 100% correct and that the person you don't even know is 100% stupid.

And it goes back to what Saul, an American, and the Islamic terrorist were fighting about.

Saul talked about retribution for 9/11.

The Islamic terrorist spoke of the American occupation of the Middle East under perhaps profit-gaining circumstances.

"You're killing in the name of peace. That's not love. That's hate."

The guy couldn't answer him.

I don't understand hatred.

I really don't.

I don't even hate the Boston Suck Sux.

I know they're necessary for the competitive juices to flow.

It's just scary when it gets out of hand and I'm afraid we live in a truly trigger happy society.

Where peace is a long ways away.

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