Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Fanatic

The funny thing about memories is that some are so damn vivid that you can recall exactly where everyone was seated as the moment went down.

It was May 8, 1970.

The final score was on the screen:

New York 113 Los Angeles 99.

The Lakers...with Wilt and West and Baylor had lost.

I remember crying.

I recall my father telling me to basically 'suck it up.'

I was only 5 years old.

Of course, the Lakers won it all in '72-'73 and had a 33-game winning streak and Dad took us to a Braves-Lakers game in the middle of that streak...so I felt a lot better...but that score on the screen...has been forever burned into my memory.

We were watching the 'Nova game last week.

My boy Sam is more of a 'Nova fan than he is of any other team...Yankees included!

"Are you nervous?" I asked before their game with N.C. State.

"Nah, they got this."

Except they didn't. They struggled all game long...and I watched my boy suffer the tension.

The game came down to one final possession...and Ennis missed a wide open 3.

'Nova had lost.

I can't explain the disappointment I felt for my boy...but it was a lot like seeing:

New York 113 Los Angeles 99

I didn't tell Sam to suck it up.

In fact, I didn't get a chance to say anything right away because he left the room.

He returned 15 minutes later. His face was still sour, but he was going to be okay.

We watched the very next game.

"The thing about sports," I told him "is that your team usually doesn't win. It's hard to win. There's nothing you can do about it."

Yet being a fan took a really weird turn a little later in the week.

The Sabres were playing the Coyotes in Buffalo.

When the Coyotes scored to win the game the Buffalo arena erupted in wild cheers of celebration.

Figure that one out.

Folks...wanted their team to lose...so they could be honored as the worst team in the sport...and get the first pick next year.

Weird.

And the debate rages on across the city.

Should a team be cheered for being awful?

"Are you happy the Sabres lost?" I asked my boys.

"It'll be good if they get the first pick," they said. "But I'd rather they actually were cheered for being good."

There's an idea.

Rewarding failure.

Someone has to change that.

But it's the life of a fanatic.

I only get emotionally invested in one team though.

The 27-Time World Champion Greatest Franchise in the History of Organized American Sports.

Do I have to say their name?

Monday, March 30, 2015

Sad, Sad, Sad

There is a moment when the plane takes off when I think...

...what if we go down?

I usually say something to the Good Lord above...maybe an Our Father...maybe a 'keep an eye out, huh?'

But something.

And then I'm done with it.

If there is a crash there's not a damn thing I'm gonna' do about it.

I probably won't even feel anything, right?

One minute you're sitting there...the next they're trying to piece you back together.

Sometimes, before I leave, I play into my beautiful wife's paranoia and try to coax some sympathy saying:

"You may never see me again."

She don't listen anymore.

The thing about it is that you're way more likely to be killed in a car accident, right?

Planes just don't go down very often (Harrison Ford flights excluded) but when they do...

...it's really sad.

We had a horrific plane crash back here in Buffalo a while back. The cause was traced to pilot incompetence.

It was weird.

From the time of my first flight...back to Florida...in 1974...I marveled at the life of the pilot.

The uniform.

All those instruments.

Wondering about the pilots being so smart.

Flying through the air was hard to comprehend for a 9-year-old.

Pilots were thought to be brilliant.

What other explanation could there be?

That pilot on that flight to Florida all those years ago allowed me and my brother John to peek in at the cockpit.

It was amazing to us.

This past week there was another horrific crash.

There are thoughts that the pilot was on a suicide mission.

All those lives...and he flew straight into a mountain.

Turns out...I'm still confused.

I still can't comprehend how.

But as you grow older...the innocence slips away.

A messed up man at the controls...

...a 9-year old never considered that.

...a 50-year old man can't comprehend it either.

So sad.

So horribly sad.

Just sad.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Berlin Wall


On my trip to Philly I actually got to see a piece of the Berlin Wall.

It was right there near where I parked my car.

I love pieces of history so I spent some time wandering around reading the plaques.


I thought back to the days when the wall came down...

...as the plaques say...

...it was a fairly significant event, of course.

You know what I remember?

Laying in the back of a pickup truck, drinking beer, and listening to Roger Waters tear down the wall with a concert.

We were at a party and my beer drinking partners that night were John Cataldo and my brother Jeff. We ate about 200 steamed clams as we drank the beer.

Perhaps it was more significant for others...but that's all I remember.

Yet I think about the wall coming down and the sense of freedom that was rebuilt when the wall was torn down.

It's crazy, but it's just a big piece of concrete, you know?

I tried to make sense of some of it, but my curiosity wasn't enough for me to get more involved in what transpired to bring peace to a far away land.

Time to brush up.

The Berlin Wall coming down can't just be about Roger Waters, beer and clams...

...but it was a good night.

Remember J.C.?

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Flying Sucks

I took the job in Philadelphia this week because it seemed like an easy trip.

Just a one hour flight.

Easy enough, right?

Even with having to get to the airport early...it was still an easy in and easy out.

I got the first notice of the first flight delay a good four hours before I was supposed to leave, but the telephone call that I received said this:

Please plan on getting to the airport at your regularly scheduled time because although there is a current delay, we will try and still get you out on time.

That's funny.

I got there at my regularly scheduled time.

An hour later I received another call, while sitting at the empty gate.

The flight was going to be delayed another hour.

I thought about how it would be once I landed.

Would I be able to do the things I needed to do?

I stopped by the gate when a woman from US Airways finally showed up.

She didn't say anything. She didn't apologize. She didn't explain what the hold-up was all about.

I asked her about the time that we were scheduled to leave.

"If you're lucky," she said.

She was right.

An hour later I was told that it would be another hour.

The recorded voice told me that they were happy that they had my business and hoped I understood.

How in the %&*$ am I supposed to understand?

Finally, we were allowed to board the plane. There were only ten of us. We could sit wherever we wanted! We would have an open seat beside us!

So. We were delayed. I would still get there eventually. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad.

I got settled, thinking about trying to close my eyes for the short trip.

The pilot came over the speaker. He told us a couple of lame-ass jokes. Then the flight attendant came on and told us about using our seats to float across the ocean if we had to.

I didn't listen.

The engines came to life but we never actually left the gate.

After a few minutes, the woman in the row in front of me leaned over the seat and began telling me how aggravated the delays made her. She was trying really hard to sound funny. I nodded at her. She kept talking. I closed my eyes. She actually tapped me to tell me another completely unfunny tidbit about her life. I nodded again and tried my best to give her my most sincere 'leave me the hell alone' look.

We weren't moving.

Twenty minutes went by.

I opened my eyes.

The woman was back. She must have sensed that I opened my eyes because she poked her head back up over the seat.

"Why aren't we moving?" I asked.

"The plane probably broke down," she said.

There was a blast from the speaker and the pilot broke the bad news.

Something was leaking from somewhere.

"Better safe than sorry. Please gather your belongings," he said. "We're returning to the terminal."

We all got off the plane. The chattering woman was still chattering. I still wasn't answering her.

We were escorted back to our seats at the gate.

I had been at the airport for a total of five hours by then.

My phone rang.

It was US Airways telling me that my plane was delayed. They mentioned that we might be leaving in about an hour.

Still not a word about anyone being sorry.

We boarded the new plane.

The same flight attendant looked at all of us again. She read the same damn speech to us!

The same damn woman was still in the row ahead of me. She picked her stupid head up again and started talking!

"Why are you going to Philly?" she asked.

"Listen," I said. "Just cause you can see me, doesn't mean we have to talk."

Her head disappeared.

I never heard her voice again.

The plane landed...

... six hours later than it was supposed to land.

As we pulled up to the gate the annoying flight attendant got on the horn to thank us for choosing their airline. She mentioned that she'd love for us to fly with them again.

Then she stood at the door and did the stupid:

'Bye-bye' shit.

I was dead tired, beyond aggravated and absolutely not interested in smiling at anyone.

From the bad service, cramped seats, not being able to bring toothpaste, deodorant, or even a bottle of water...

...I wasn't ready to forgive and forget.

"How was your flight?" the client asked me when I finally arrived at the event.

"It sucked," I said. "They always suck."

"Did you hear about the pilot who flew into the mountain?" he asked.

"I was ready for that to happen," I answered.

He laughed.

I almost wasn't joking!

Flying sucks.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Philadelphia Freedom

So...made a trip to the Philly area this week.

I have friends who live in the area who are probably a little agitated that I didn't lengthen the trip to stop by and say 'hello' but it really was just a quick work trip to do something that I enjoy doing:

Making a speech in regard to construction safety.

You see, I created a bit of a monster when I made the trip to Las Vegas back in January. I had stood in front of a room filled with people from all over the country and I had done my usual stand-up safety act.

Through the years I have been around a lot of construction folks who've done a whole lot of dumb things.

In my time as a 'handyman' and in my days as a construction laborer I did a whole bunch of dumb things myself.

And I've turned it all into a speech...

...that makes folks laugh when I tell it.

In fact, I feel a bit like Louis C.K. when I'm going through the main points of it all, and let me tell you, there's nothing in the world like making an entire room of people laugh.

It's like a drug.

One joke leads to another and in Vegas I got on such a roll that I honestly wasn't quite sure what I was even talking about.

Following my time on stages really strange things happen because people want to talk to me. Mostly they want me to say something funny.

"I'm up in my room," I told my beautiful wife during the Vegas trip. "Too many people are trying to talk to me!"

Yet being comfortable enough to speak to rooms full of strangers goes way back to my college days.

I just never get nervous in that setting.

"What do you need for your speech?" The event planners asked me before the Vegas and Philly talks.

"Nothing."

"We can put your notes up on the screen so the audience can follow along," one woman said.

"I don't have any notes."

"We'll have a projector there for you to use and you can just plug into our computer."

"I won't be bringing anything."

The woman who was setting up the Vegas event was completely lost. She was silent for so long that I had to ask if she was still on the phone.

"Well," she finally said. "My butt is on the line if you bomb."

"I won't bomb."

She waited a long while again.

"Can you give me a hint?" she asked.

"Not really."

Yet they let me go on anyway.

Following that Vegas speech the event planner came up to me.

"How in the heck?"

We both laughed.

Then she hugged me.

"You made me look great!"

When I stood before the room in Philly I thought a lot about the first speech that I made way back in college.

I had written out one sentence:

'Walk tall, or don't walk at all.'

It's the only note I ever need in mind as I speak.

The rest is just a whole lot about laughing, acting human, and trying not to say the very worst words that I know.

Philly was fun even if I didn't see anything other than a bunch of folks who thought they were gonna' be bored out of their minds at a safety talk.

I didn't bomb.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

D.B.'s of the Week - Anyone Who Had Anything To Do With Darren Sharper Sentencing

Do you know who Darren Sharper is?

Evidently the judge who sentenced him, or the D.A. who worked out his 'sweetheart deal' does.

For those who don't remember Sharper:

He was a football star - he played a big part in the New Orleans Saints winning the Super Bowl in 2010 -He caught a lot of passes, made a lot of money, got the royalty treatment that society has bestowed on him because he can catch a freaking ball

and

He raped women all over this great country.

Sharper was the Bill Cosby of the NFL, but unlike Cosby...he was caught quickly.

In California.

In Nevada.

In Arizona.

In Louisiana.

Sharper was pretty much caught red-handed in a number of those cases.

He'd slip drugs into the drinks of women that he met in a bar, and then he would do all sorts of sick, untoward things to them.

There were so many charges levied against him that not even Matlock was going to save his bacon.

Sharper, who is 39 and no longer of use to anyone because he can't catch a freaking ball anymore, was going to spend the rest of his days in a cage.

Where he belongs.

Except.

Except there are plenty of D.B.'s in the 'justice' system, evidently.

Remember how Lance Ito and the rest of those clowns acted because they were going to be famous?

Wasn't there a judge who asked Lance Armstrong (A huge D.B.) for an autograph, somewhere along the way?

Didn't congress parade Roger Clemens around...kissing his allegedly cheating, lying ass as he spouted off about his 'innocence'?

Well...something happened here.

Sharper received less than 10 years in prison despite being charged as a serial rapist.

Someone really needs to explain how someone who was charged in 4 states with multiple rapes...

...gets less than 10 years in the clink.

Sure he had some money for good lawyers, but not even Saul Goodman could spin this one.

Saul would say:

Listen, it's time to cut bait. You're never gonna' see the light of day.

Sharper did better than that.

I don't know who the D.B.'s are...

Prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges...especially Sharper himself...

This obsession with these pieces of feces who don't know how to act when they aren't wearing a football helmet has to stop.

Because it is really beginning to sicken me.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Happy Birthday to My Brother Jim

So, it's Jim's birthday...so if you see him today...say hello.

I guarantee he'll make you laugh.

For his birthday I decided to re-tell one of Jim's greatest hits.

Seems Jim was working on a big job on the East Coast somewhere. As is prone to happen on a hectic construction site there is usually a long, drawn-out battle over the "shit houses" that are needed for the site.

The little green boxes are often rancid from over-use and they certainly can be rough places to visit with the shit house poets writing nasty things on the walls...to the mess that everyone makes.

Jim decided that the woman who worked in his office shouldn't be subjected to the same green box that all the men were using so he ordered a special one just for her.

He placed her bathroom next to the job trailer and guaranteed that the rest of the work crew wouldn't destroy it by giving the woman the only key.

A much appreciated gesture, I'm sure.

Well.

One week Jim was outside the trailer when the man who came to clean out the facilities arrived onsite. The woman of the office wasn't around so Jim gave the cleaner the key to the woman's lav and asked the cleaner if he could do something for him after cleaning the lav and as he returned the key.

This is how it all went down.

The office was full of folks who'd come in for the weekly progress meeting.

The poor woman was in attendance at the meeting, taking the job minutes when the man who cleaned the lavs came busting through the door after completing his work.

The cleaner, on Jim's earlier prompting, returned the key to the woman and then as he headed for the door, turned to Jim.

"By the way," the guy said. "I was able to get all the lavs clean, but just so you know, whoever is using the lav right next to the trailer is clogging it up with huge piles of shit. I think you have a gorilla going in that one."

Jim said that with the meeting going on he'd forgotten all about what he asked the cleaner to say, but the cleaner's announcement was met with every eye in the room landing on the face of the poor woman, who had sole access to the lav.

The panicked woman looked around the room, looked at the man who cleaned the lav, and then her eyes finally settled on Jim.

A little light went off as she figured out just who had put the cleaner up to the statement.

"You bastard!" She said.

And the entire room burst with laughter.

That's my brother.

Happy Birthday, boy...

...we love you!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Rolling Stones Coming to Buffalo?

The Stones were the first band that I really loved. They were also the first band that I saw in concert and I paid $15 for the ticket, 34 years ago.

The Stones were already being called dinosaurs back then!

I believe that if the Stones come to the stadium in July, as rumored, the ticket is going to be way more than $15 clams.

But I still wanna' go.

Back in '81 the Stones opened with Under My Thumb and ended it with Tumbling Dice. How in the hell can that be a bad show?

It was actually a great show.

It's Jagger and Richards and Wood and Watts.

They are legends.

Jagger might be the most famous person on the planet.

Which brings me to another story.

I was living in New Haven, Connecticut back in the late 80's. The Stones were going out on the road, after a long layoff, to promote the great Steel Wheels record. I was thinking about getting tickets for that show.

I was living alone then, working on a big job. I was putting in long hours and drinking a lot of beer.

Young and fired up and ready to roll.

During the course of one day the radio station kept talking about the mystery guests who would be performing at Toad's Place - the Yale University bar.

I had to work late, but I figured I'd swing by and see what the fuss was about. The club was already packed and there was no chance of getting in...but folks in the parking lot were excited.

"Who's coming?" I asked one college kid.

"No one knows, dude," he said. "But rumor is they're big stars."

Suddenly a bus pulled up.

There was great anticipation as the doors remained closed and security worked to clear people out of the way. They were setting up a walkway. I was able to inch close and with a bunch of slick moves I was right up front. I might not get into the club, but I was gonna' see who it was.

The bus doors opened and down the steps came:

Hall & Oates!

Those guys were huge back then, but everyone groaned!

Hall & Oates was the big surprise?

Some folks started walking away and I got even closer to the rope.

I must admit that I was a little disappointed, but they were still great songwriters. I was still trying to shake their hands. Hall, in fact, slapped my palm on the way into the club.

And then the door opened again:

And I saw him.

The skinny body. The big lips. The strut.

Mick Jagger.

It's so weird, but right then I knew why all those women passed out when seeing the Beatles live.

"Mick f&*$ing Jagger!" the guy next to me screamed.

Mick didn't wait around to shake hands. He was just about running into the club.

He passed about 10 feet from me. I'm not sure what I yelled at him.

Then I saw the doors open again:

Wood and Richards came bounding down the steps.

Keith had a cigarette dangling. Wood was holding a bottle of Jack Daniels. They had their arms around each other. Nothing weird. Just two buddies, perhaps with buzzes going, hanging out. They were a bit more fan-friendly, but I couldn't get a hand on them.

Charlie Watts ambled out slowly next. He hardly looked up.

About a half an hour later...the music started.

The doors were wide open.

The band was practicing. The power of the music was overwhelming. The four men were inside. Together they didn't look like much. On the stage they were:

The Rolling Stones...the greatest rock and roll band of all-time.

We all got a pretty good show.

Everyone was singing along.

Yeah...I gotta' get to that show this summer!

Monday, March 23, 2015

The News

So...how have you all been?

What's making the news rounds these days?

I've been chasing bed bugs around in hotel rooms and standing in front of hundreds of folks as I do talks all around the area...all great fun, of course, but my own stupid jokes are all I've been listening to lately.

Are you enjoying the snow and cold?

Isn't it lovely?

The white in the bare trees? The ice at the front door? The ice at the back door? Scraping off the car? Freezing until the heat kicks on?

Certainly one of the longest, most depressing winters...we haven't had a freaking nice day since about mid-September...seems that way, at least...and we're only about 140 days away from freaking mid-September...when it all goes to shit again.

Maybe I'll hit the slopes.

That'll be a real trick with these legs!

Anywhoha...

Caught the continuing saga of Fred Durst. How about that idiot? He goes into the restroom and confesses that he killed them all, into the microphone that he's wearing?

Didn't he watch Naked Gun?

Leslie Nielson took a nice long pee that was heard by everyone in the room.

Damn, Fred...turn the mic off...everyone knows that!

Crazy bastard.

Catching reports of the Yankees practicing. It's hard to get excited about it when you're freezing your ass off, but there are rumors that baseball is less than two weeks away.

Thank God.

So, now we get to hear about the next group of presidential candidates. The early part of the massive run up to an election that is more than 18 months away is that we get to filter out all the nut bags first.

(Not that they all aren't a little crazy)

But you know who I'm talking about...

...the radicals...who will trip all over themselves and say really stupid things...and get caught doing really dumb things.

Trump, Bush, Clinton, Cruz, please God, not Palin!

Sounds great, right?

Maybe I should just throw my hat in the ring early.

God knows I can probably make the oval office a whole lot of fun. I can almost hear the anchorman folks introducing me:

"Here comes the president...he's wearing a Mantle shirt that has a dark mustard stain on the sleeve. We've seen this look before, but there seems to be a pasta sauce stain on the other sleeve too. This is exciting folks. We're waiting for him to curse...should be riveting!"

I'm sure the next president will be roundly loved and hated.

Read through the awful story about the 7 children killed in the New York fire after a hot plate ignited the flames. Can you imagine anything worse than that? The news is all over the pain of the story and sometimes I wonder what good it does to get every pain-filled quote.

Just awful.

Finally, there was a major story in our area last week as a school board dropped the 'Redskins' name and kicked the mascot to the curb.

What amazed me about the story was the passion involved as a whole lot of folks really battled hard to keep the name.

Why?

You can't get used to a new name?

There's no doubt that the 'Redskins' name is a racial slur.

It just is.

It may not offend you...

...but it offends a whole group of people.

And it's not about being soft.

It's a racial slur!

Guess I don't really get it, but just me saying that much will invite a whole bunch of hate.

I can tell you that I'd be really up in arms if the team was the:

Washington Wops, or the Washington Pollacks, or the Washington Drunken Micks...

or worse.

It's really that simple folks.

Progress.

An interesting concept.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Nothing But Net

Whoa...

Those first two days of the NCAA are really exciting.

For the basketball enthusiasts and also for the geeks who like to work with black and red ink.

Underdogs and mighty programs.

All-star athletes and just regular college kids, who'll never sniff the pros, playing ball against each other.

One game after another. Folks of every walk of life with the televisions on in the offices. Everyone looking for updates on their phones.

Let me tell you:

The Fazzolari home was alive with every second of it. Sam and Jake had the television on, switching to all the networks for hours and hours.

"What're we doing this weekend?" My beautiful wife tried...on Thursday morning.

"Uh, basketball," I said.

And of course, Kathy tries. She puts a bracket in and obviously knows who the favorites are. She would certainly love to beat us at our own game...

...but lo and behold.

Who was the leader after the first two days of games, you ask?

Yep!

Clifford James Fazzolari.

28 out of 32 games picked correctly.

That's just 4 wrong for those of you who can't do the math.

It's more correct than Jake, Sam, Matt, Pops, Renaldo and his kids, J.C. and his kids.

More than Kathy!

More right than my sister Corinne who entered some strong brackets.

But there's still trouble lurking because...

...I'm in a dead heat with an arch-nemesis...my brother-in- law Charles.

I also know that it can all go South, rather quickly, but I never was 28 for 32.

So.

I may chirp a little bit.

Chirp. Chirp. Chirp.

The sound is deafening around here.

"As much as winning money might be good for the grocery inventory," Sam said. "I'm really praying that you don't win."

My boys.

They'd much rather see the old man fail...

...than to hear the chirp.

Chirp. Chirp. Chirp.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

All Quiet On the Western Front

Like many millions of Americans I certainly support the troops. Some folks wear their support as a badge of honor and that's certainly all well and good. Yet I'd be lying if I said that there's not a nagging tickle at the back of my mind.

I finally sort of figured it out.

Back when I was a teenager we read the book All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, in one of our English classes. I know a lot of other folks hated reading time in those classes, but I absolutely loved it and would volunteer to be the reader all the time.

All Quiet on the Western Front disturbed me horribly back then as my young mind was forming.

The narrator of the story is a German soldier and he takes us through the battle. From the foxhole to the hospital we are exposed to the absolute horrors of what is referred to as The Great War (fans of war like to glorify the horrendous battles) - World War I.

The book is raw.

The reading isn't always smooth and when the story shifts to the legs that are being amputated and the loss of faith as the men around Paul die...it gets uncomfortable.

It really makes one wonder about the troops and the poor decisions of others that put them in harms way.

There are a number of beautifully written paragraphs that make me cringe.

When Remarque takes the reader into the hospital with Paul and explains that it is just one hospital and there are thousands of others in all of the other countries where soldiers are being treated.

How senseless is everything that can ever be written, done, or thought, when such things are possible? It must be all lies and of no account when the culture of a thousand years could not prevent this stream of blood being poured out.

How is it that there is still such a business of war?

How many folks have lost their lives in battles that certainly are not quite as glory-filled as made out to be?

A hundred million men and women killed in war in the last 100 years.

Let that sink in.

For what?

Profit?

Toward the end of the book Paul explains that he has sort of sifted through all of the suffering and pain and figured out that none of it meant a single thing.

He recalls being face-to-face with an enemy soldier who was scared of the confrontation but willing to fight purely for self-preservation. Paul 'won' the battle and killed the man, but he thinks of the man's family that moves on without him.

Powerful stuff.

The book was written in 1928 and man if it doesn't hold up today!

All the confusion in the mind of the soldier.

The ugliness of war.

Losing faith in faith.

Just a few years ago I heard an interview with John Mellencamp...he was talking about the business of war...he said that blood should not be shed just for the sake of trying out the new weapons. He stated that he could not think of any reason why there should ever be another war.

(That's surely a statement that brings about ridicule by the aggressive folks who crank the wheel of the war machine)

The interviewer said something about 'having to respond violently' to some of the real threats in today's war.

And Mellencamp gave that little grin of his:

"Another man conditioned to believe," he said.

It's a violent, nasty world.

War is a huge money-making machine.

All Quiet on the Western Front put that nagging tickle back in my mind.

Just a fabulous book.

Also...the author was chased out of Germany because of the way that he presented the German war machine...his sister was captured and beheaded as a protest to the author.

I'm not sure that there has been another book...about war...that has covered more ground.

In the end...

...the peace that the author was trying to promote...

was ignored.

World War II was right around the corner.

We are conditioned to believe in war.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Growing Really Old

There was a horrible story in the making going around the social media circles late last week.

An elderly couple went missing.

I believe the man was 91 years old and his young wife was said to be 89.

They were missing for quite awhile and a bulletin was sent over the airwaves.

Thankfully, the couple was found safe, in their car, a long ways away from their hometown. The story didn't say much, but it was noted that each suffered from dementia, and that perhaps they got mixed up and then really lost.

Scary stuff.

Thankfully they weren't harmed.

Yet it got me thinking about throwing another 40 years on the relationship that I have with my beautiful wife and then tossing us into a car bound for somewhere with neither of us quite having the grasp on where we were heading.

Sounds like absolute hell to me.

I could almost hear her going on about how stupid I am and how I should have listened to her about getting off at the previous exit.

That car would be really loud, filled with the sound of her voice.

Growing old is desired, of course, but it's also a bit rough.

So many aches and pains.

So many moments when you think:

'What the hell was I just doing?'

"Can you imagine me at 90?" I asked Kathy.

"Oh Dear Lord," she said. "Stumbling around, screaming at everything, shitting yourself. Not a pretty picture."

"But you'll still love me, right? You'll still want me when we're both 100, right?"

"Oh yeah," she said. "We make it to 100, it's on!"

We both laughed.

I'm thinking the next 50 might be a wee bit more difficult.

Late that night I thought about that couple a little bit more.

I really hope they stay safe for a whole bunch more years. Perhaps there will have to be a few adjustments made in regard their ability to just jump in the car and hit the road, but I hope they make it to the century mark.

Together.

Laughing all the way.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

D.B. of the Week - Stephen A. Smith of ESPN

One of the reasons I am not enamored with rap music is the usual tone of voice that they're singing in. It sounds like they're yelling at me. There's so much rage and anger. When it comes to that music, I actually like the funny songs, where the tone isn't quite so bitter.

This week's D.B. of the Week - Stephen A. Smith - always has the mad tone going on. I swear he could recite the ABC's and have the audience worked up with rage by the time he hit 'M'.

He's always mad.

Well, a story broke this week about Stephen A. being a little agitated with Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly. Smith certainly seemed to imply that Kelly was being racist with who he keeps or doesn't keep on his team.

Smith railed against Kelly saying that McCoy was gone, this guy was gone, and that guy was gone, while the Eagles kept Riley Cooper, a guy who was in trouble for yelling the N-word.

What the hell is he talking about?

Does he think that the Eagles are gonna' be the only team without a black player?

Is he implying that Kelly is a blatant racist who only wants to be surrounded by white players?

So, what's the big deal, you ask?

Well, as the story broke I tweeted the following line:

I have one rule of television: I see Stephen A. Smith...I turn the television off.

Others certainly agreed with me.

Now I know that Smith's job is to rile up folks, but one of the things about screaming racism at every turn is that the protests, when real racism is happening, lose the required steam.

Chip Kelly wasn't being racist.

Of course, Smith went on his radio show...which must be a real joy to listen to...and lectured his audience saying that there were others whispering about Kelly's move and that he wasn't implying racism...he was pointing out that Kelly wanted to surround himself with a certain kind of player.

Huh?

Then why bring up Riley Cooper, and mention that every player run out of town was black?

Sounded like false racism to me.

Yeah, yeah, yeah...he's just another sportscaster, no big deal, right?

Well, unless you haven't noticed, there's a true racial divide running through some areas of society. Check the comment section on any of the powerful black protests...there are anti-Al Sharpton and anti-Jesse Jackson rants on there. Both of those men are accused of riling up race hate for their own personal gain.

White folks really hate those two gents...and so do a lot of black folks.

People can see right through fake rage.

We don't need to drum up garbage that simply isn't true.

So, Stephen A. Smith wins the award.

By the way, I heard the Eagles signed Murray from the Cowboys to replace McCoy...

...must not have been any of Kelly's "type" available because Murray is a black man.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A 1950's Date


The above photo was displayed as a date between a couple from the 1950's.

Dating, like that, appears to be gone these days, right?

Kids just all hang out together, from what I can gather, and most of their courting is done on Instagram or some sort of social media.

That's a shame.

I recall being nervous to ask a girl out.

(I had good reason to be nervous - most of them said 'Uh, no.').

But there were dates.

The movies and out to eat was the big thing back in my day. Half of the movie was spent wondering if reaching for her hand was a viable option. You had to reach for the hand in a smooth fashion, and you never wanted to hand over a sweaty hand.

Then there was the walk to the door and the wonder of whether or not you should lean in for the kiss.

"We just spent thirty bucks and now we're riding home alone with two pecks on the lips to show for it!" My double-date partner Jeff Renaldo used to say.

"This is bullshit!"

But it was all part of the gig.

Look at the couple in the photo above:

Well-dressed.

Best behavior.

Probably a flower exchanged at the front door of the girl's home.

Most likely the guy had to meet the girl's Dad and let his intentions be known.

My boys hardly ever bring their 'dates' around here.

"This is 'so and so'," they'll say to me and the girl will giggle something.

Yet the real dates seem to be few and far between.

Who knows?

Maybe the man-woman dynamic is still really strong.

Perhaps boys still get the butterflies in their stomach when they're thinking about approaching a girl for a date.

It just seemed to be so different back about 50 or 60 years ago, didn't it?

When I think of the 50's dating I think of going to a soda shop for a malted.

I consider that men treated women well and that women were all in long dresses.

Was it all as innocent as it appears to be?

My dating career was not anything to write home about.

There were a whole bunch of nervous movies with some really good girls.

I cherish those memories.

But seeing the photo from that couple in the 50's...I wonder.

Will it ever go back to anything even remotely resembling that?

Doubtful.

A cuddle, a peck on the cheek, sweaty palms, meetings with over-protective Dads and nervous phone calls.

It all seems to be lost.

Ah well.

Renaldo thought it was bullshit anyway.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy Birthday to My BEAUTIFUL Wife

In a long marriage there are certainly days when you think back moments in time when the love was certainly young and different...there are a lot of 'You remember when' conversations.

There are a lot of shared laughs.

And through the years it has to change.

There has to be growth.

The shared vision has to get stronger or the results can be devastating.

Today is my wife's birthday.

I'll let her tell you how old she is.

I just need to remind her of one thing:


You're The Star

You gave me hope
When all around was lost
And I could see no point in trying
For I saw love passing by me

You came into my life
You came into my life

I look around
And what I had is gone
Now, I've finally found
What I've been missing

The road I travel is so clear
Since you came into my life
You came into my life

You're the star
My shinin' light
The mornin' dawnin'
When the sun comes up so bright
And the closer I get
Yes, it's true

You're the star
Above the storm

I wanna wrap you in my arms
And keep you warm
No, I don't wanna live without you
No, I've never found nothin' like you

You give me faith
The kind I thought had gone
Somewhere down the line
I think I lost it

Now, I've found changes in my heart
Your faith in me is strong
Your faith in me is strong

You're the star
You're the star
You're the star

I've never found nothin' like you
No, I've never found nothin' like you ...

- Rod Stewart

Monday, March 16, 2015

Football Bets - Annual Standings: Sam 3 Uncle Chuck 1


There was never a doubt.

"I'll have the Porterhouse and the lobster tail," Sam said.

The waitress seemed a bit surprised by the size of the meal that he was going to eat, but I knew it would go down that way.

"You don't have to crush Uncle Chuck when you order," I had mentioned to Sam.

"Are you kidding?" He asked. "After the way we battle all year?"

Of course, I knew exactly what Sam was talking about.

For years and years and years I went back and forth with my brother Jeff. Our annual bets were hotly contested and usually won by Jeff. The wager was always dinner...and the guy who was paying couldn't whine...even for a moment...about how much it was going to cost him.

Jeff set the bar really high, of course, as he brought his family along to celebrate one season win and it cost me a real bundle. His lovely wife was drinking $18 glasses of wine.

"Your wife thirsty?" I had asked.

"You whining?" he responded.

"Nope."

And there wasn't even the slightest whimper out of Chuck.

He watched the appetizers go around.

He sat right next to his trash-talking nephew.

(Let me tell you, Sam and Jeff would have really gone back and forth...the kings of garbage talk).

The food was good. The conversation was great. Sam and his Aunt Corinne traded information about the NCAA's. There's even more friendly wagering coming down the pike, I'm afraid.

The bill was tallied and the man and his nephew posed for the above photo.

"Thanks for dinner," I said to my brother-in-law.

"Yeah, thanks for being really stupid when it comes to football," Sam added.

We laughed.

I believe Jeff had thanked me in a similar way a whole bunch of times.

The only thing missing was the famous line that made all the betting a weekly joy.

"YOU'RE SOOOOO STUUUUUUPID!"

Heard that a thousand times.

Thanks for keeping it rolling Chuck and Corinne...Sam loves it.

Especially the lobster.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Green Beers

St. Patrick's Day is Tuesday.

Of course it is also my beautiful wife's birthday so we are going to have to get through the St. Patrick's Day memories today because my wife's birthday trumps all.

I think of one particular St. Patrick's Day each and every year.

I was a college student. I believe I was a junior at Gannon University. My buddies were all around:

George, Gema, Millie, Stengel, Diane, Lisa, Guy...

...we were a mess.

We were drinking on the 16th. St. Patrick's fell on a Saturday.

Not a good thing.

Because college students think of stupid things like:

"Hey! Let's stay up all night! We can get a green beer in the morning!"

The attraction of getting that first green beer on the morning of the 17th was that if we were there before 10 a.m., we didn't have to pay to enter the all-day party!

I think we saved two bucks each.

Anywhoha...

The idea was as dumb as it sounds.

We stayed up partying all night long. When the sun came up we stumbled to the frat house and the bright-eyed frat boys at the Shiek house poured us a nice, lukewarm, green beer.

We had to drink it down to secure our free entrance.

I still remember gagging that beer down.

I just shivered writing that sentence.

But...we were in!

We returned in the early afternoon...

...and to my friends George Ray, Brian Stengel and Diane Campbell...

...I will never forget sitting in the basement, on beach chairs, daring one another to eat goldfish and chase them with green beer.

I know Brian had at least three.

Diane may have had more than that.

I may have had a couple.

George abstained.

30 years have passed.

Somewhere out there a bunch of college students are gathered.

They are downing green beers.

Perhaps the beer is chasing the gold fish to the stomach.

I just shivered again.

St. Patrick has to really wonder what the hell happened to turn him into the patron saint of everything stupid!

Enjoy the parties!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Beauty All Around

Do you ever watch the show Mike & Molly?

We catch it from time and time and there are two folks on there who really make me laugh...Molly's mother's boyfriend (who's from Buffalo by the way) and Mike's mother...who is so angry and mean that you just have to laugh at her.

Mike's mother hates life!

She doesn't like people!!

She's mean!!!


And in a short span on Friday morning I thought of the negative vibe that we all put off on some days.

I was in a discussion about how 'angry' I appeared to be for pooping on the latest football hero to come to town...

...when I received a message from my beautiful sister-in-law Lynn...

...who sent me that photo and mentioned the beauty in life.

Sometimes we miss the beautiful things, don't we, folks?

I'm guilty of it.

There are days when I'm rode hard and put away wet (as my buddy Fluffy's favorite expression goes) and I end up sounding a lot like Mike's Mom.

Bitter.

Mean.

"Why can't you smile more?" I've heard a few times.

Well, cause I miss the beauty, I guess.

But the thing is that there are days when we don't spread the sunshine.

Yet I cherish so many things.

This week coming up is going to be a challenge work-wise as I will be speaking to audiences, for a lot of hours, every single day. The presentations are all across the state.

But...

...my terrific brother-in-law Charles is buying me dinner because he can't pick football games

And

...My beautiful wife will be celebrating her birthday...

And

...and the college basketball NCAA Tourney begins.

And

...and we are drafting our fantasy baseball teams.

So there will be hours and hours of excited boys around here.

And I will cherish every second of that...and I will spend hour after hour adoring my wonderful family.

Does it matter that I do it with a scowl?

Recognize the beauty all around!

The perfect sky after months of miserable weather.

That's life...

...in a nutshell, right?

Friday, March 13, 2015

What the Hell Is That?

In the sky?

Big and orange...

...I have no idea.

It was in the 40's on Thursday. Folks in Buffalo had the windows down. Everyone was smiling. The long underwear is back in the drawer.

Can it be?

There has been a whole bunch of stuff going on.

The 27-Time World Champion Greatest Franchise in the History of Organized American Sports - the New York Yankees - are playing games again!

And A-Rod hit a home run!

He's hitting about .600 so far in the early games, and he's got everyone confused.

Are you rooting for him, at all?

He's the underdog now.

Speaking of underdogs...

The other night I settled in for the evening news.

The Buffalo Bills were leading off all the newscasts!

Yeah.

They don't have a game for 6 months!

They haven't played in the playoffs in this century!!

I flipped the channel.

But I can't get away from it!

"How about those Bills?" people are asking me everywhere I go.

What?

Don't you think that you should brag after you win?

I don't know what to think!

T.O. got the key to the city 5 years ago.

He was a flop.

They've had 6 new coaches, 5 new running backs, 372 new quarterbacks.

I don't know!

Wait until they play!

Besides, I have a whole lot of trouble feeling great about the dudes they bring in when I read the paper about it.

"I plan on giving 110%," the guy named Shady said.

There's only 100% to give!

Stop!!

Then he said this:

"I finally feel respected."

Was it the extra $20 million they threw at you to show up?

Or is it the $250,000 bonus you get for working out?

You want me to get excited?

Don't tell me how much you're paying the deadbeat dad, women-beating, no-tipping, dude to play with the ball.

My dogs play with a ball every day for free.

Now they're gonna' get to play with it out in the backyard!

Where the sun is shining down!

Buffalo, New York!

The place where everyone wants to be!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

D.B.'s of the Week - Sigma Alpha Epsilon-Oklahoma

How is it possible that in this day and age a group of college students could ride on a bus and chant a song with the following lyrics:

"There will never be a n***er SAE. You can hang from a tree, but never sign with me."

A group of white fraternity brothers from the University of Oklahoma sang the song on the way to a party.

Why?

And the story is getting a whole lot of attention, as it should, but there are a bunch of side stories. There was an elderly woman caught singing along.

Some of the disgraced kids have issued apologies.

I vote all of them D.B.'s of the week.

And here's the rub:

I'm not all that surprised.

First off, people are going to be 'caught' when they do such things. Everyone has a camera and a video recorder on them these days. Everything is captured for maximum attention.

Yet the fact that they wee 'caught' is not the major point here. The fact that they would sing such a song, in the first place, is beyond comprehension.

Is it funny?

Do they mean it?

If they do, why would they?

I get it...race relations surely aren't what we want them to be and there's a whole lot of mistrust. Think of the last six months:

Ferguson, New York Cops executed, Donald Sterling...Obama as the king of all blacks as a lightning rod...and he is...don't kid yourself.

Because they're black?

In 2015?

I don't know that these kids are ever going to recover...but the trying to justify it has begun.

"They're just college kids singing a song."

"They were drunk."

"All frat kids do stupid things."

"Rappers use the n-word in their songs."

All of that is garbage.

I was a drunk frat-party-goer...I just don't know if I would've been comfortable singing that song in a public setting...and that's not a holier-than-thou thing.

Listen...I and a lot of my college buddies did some dumb things...but to be that stupid?

That unaware?

D.B.'s.

All of 'em.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Mellencamp's Turn

Mellencamp is touring the country these days...we saw him about 6 months back...he's moving a little slower, but he's still the legend that he is. Was thinking of blog ideas when this song played. I recalled the first time I ever heard it. It's tough when you're singing about worldly troubles because some times the passage of times makes lyrics irrelevant. Simple song. Singular thought. This one holds up. Probably always will.

Now More Than Ever


If you believe
Won't you please raise your hands
Let's hear your voices
Let us know where you stand
Don't shout from the shadows
'Cause it won't mean a damn
Now more than ever

Now more than ever
The world needs love
Not just a slogan
But the world needs love
Now more than ever
I can't stand alone
Now more than ever

If I was to buy you
A diamond ring
Make you my princess
Would it mean anything
Would you take me for granted
And just curse my name
Now more than ever

Now more than ever
The world needs love
Not just a slogan
But the world needs love
Now more than ever
I can't stand alone
Now more than ever

Who am I to say
What needs to be done
I am just nobody
Another lost one
Caught between what's left
And what needs to be done
Now more than ever
The loss of love
The loss of our dreams
It's not too late

Now more than ever
The world needs love
Not just a slogan
But the world needs love
Now more than ever
I can't stand alone
Now more than ever

Now more than ever
The world needs love
Not just a slogan
But the world needs love
Now more than ever
I can't stand alone
Now more than ever

Songwriters: Mellencamp, John
Now More Than Ever lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Twenty-Four

Ran into a kid on a construction site the other day.

He was griping about being tired. He'd stayed out late the previous night.

"Got in at two," he said. "The alarm clock that I set for five-thirty buzzed pretty quick this morning."

"Two o'clock! What the hell could you possibly do until then? Drinking?"

"I had a couple," he said. "Mostly we were gaming."

I laughed.

"Time got away from us," he said.

By two o'clock I had already slept for about four hours. I had drifted off holding my book and it clattered to the floor at about 10:15.

The kid was lugging a sheet of drywall. He was moving way better than me, and he wasn't done talking.

"I'm curious, do you still play video games?"

I laughed.

"My kids talk me into being a whipping boy and I'll play a period of hockey or basketball and quit when they start laughing at me," I said.

"Not to be disrespectful, but did they have video games when you were my age?"

Why that lousy bastard!

He laughed when I laughed.

"Yeah. We had television and cars too," I said. "Airplane travel was in its infancy, but we all had indoor plumbing."

"No! You know what I mean...did you play video games on Saturday nights with your buddies?"

I thought of the Sega hockey league we had developed in our twenties. A close group of friends battled for the cup, and we drank beer, ate great and traded insults.

It was a freaking blast.

There were certainly a lot of nights when we played until two in the morning.

(Of course, Renaldo ruined the league by figuring out how to score with a glitch that no one could defend - And he talks about the New England Patriots cheating!)

I told the kid that the games certainly weren't what they are now, but that we had done the same stupid stuff.

"In fact, I'd love to get the old league going again," I said. "We'd just have to change the start time of the games to about 5 a.m. on a Saturday morning. We're all up at that time anyway."

The kid laughed.

"Just be careful," I said. "You blink your eyes and you're 50."

"I know!" He said. "My Dad tells me that all the time."

That one hurt.

"I've already slowed down a little," he added.

I patted him on the shoulder.

"You're gonna' slow down a lot. Thing is, you won't even know what the hell happened. You'll just be looking in the mirror one day and you'll think, 'Why doesn't anyone like my music anymore?' or 'Why am I falling asleep during Judge Judy?'"

The kid offered a hearty laugh.

"Judge Judy!" He said. "It'd be really lame if you really watched Judge Judy."

As my late, great friend Kimball Patterson used to say:

"Shut the hell up, kid!"

Monday, March 9, 2015

Welcome to the Lions, Johnny!


One of the true loves of my childhood...and let's be honest here...young adult...adult and just about middle age...was my association with the Lions.

The Lions were a softball team, of course, but we are also a great group of friends...and putting on a Lions jacket must feel a whole lot like it feels to put on the Yankee pinstripes.

Love.

Tradition.

Legacy.

And Winning.

Guys who are Lions greet one another differently, even after all these years. The team was started during the camping days and the first time we played ball together we used a tennis ball...and we all chose sticks that we'd use as bats.

I'm not kidding.

We weren't poor...we just didn't have our equipment with us...but we wanted to play!

So we improvised.

I must have been about 13 when we played that first game...but I remember the first pitch, (Henry Paul was the batter), like it was yesterday.

And the Lions stuck together, playing for a lot of years.

We finally won the league championship in 1995.

19 years of not winning!

We were all thrilled.

I remember turning to my Mom, who was in the stands wearing a Lions jacket (much like the one Johnny is wearing in the photo) and I said:

"We did it!!!"

Mom said:

"It's about time."

Of course...it meant so much...because of the love.

I recall the celebrations (we won again in '96)...

My brother Jeff got a bunch of hits in the clinching game (I still have the score book) and I just hurt when I think of how happy he was. Those moments are what needs to be cherished...and they are!!!

To Johnny:

Your Dad was a good player! He'd misjudge a fly ball now and again...but he could hit...and he made all of us laugh...every single day...every game!

I know the guys on the Lions.

I know they are all smiling as they see Johnny wearing Jeff's coat.

I don't have to ask for a vote...

...Johnny is on the team!

Welcome to the Lions, buddy!

We love you!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Happy Birthday to My Beautiful Sister!


Carrie's children are as beautiful as she is.

That's a shot of them playing in a box this past Christmas Eve.

I said they were beautiful...not brilliant!

But they are brilliant, as well.

Carrie is currently working on the Breaking Bad series.

We texted back and forth about it the other evening...and not surprisingly...we both identified the same episode as the best one of the series (The Fly).

We quoted lines back and forth...talked about the brilliance of the writing.

Carrie is as passionate about the written word as I am...and there's no better person in the world to play the:

"What if?" game with

We brainstormed a whole bunch of my early books together.

I tell folks that Carrie is a much better writer than me...and that isn't false praise... and it will all come together someday.

Look at those two kids there...

..laughing.

Enjoying the party.

Carrie has raised funny, smart, passionate kids and she continues to beat to that drum as an adult.

She has worked hard to filter out all the garbage in life...to teach those wonderful children...

She must be proud.

They play in freaking boxes!!!

We love you, kid!

(My kids aren't exactly Albert Schweitzer either).

Enjoy your day!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Roach Coach

There's a bit of a sub-culture out in the world that many of us don't speak about, but man, when the coffee truck pulls up we're all fired up about it.

I've been grabbing stuff off the roach coach for the better part of 33 years now and let me tell you, there's plenty of stories to go around.

"You gotta' see our coffee girl," one gent told me at a job site up in Niagara Falls a few years back.

"When does she get here?" I asked.

"Ten minutes," the guy said.

I didn't know if I had time.

"She's worth the wait," the guy said.

Well, turns out she was...and she also hugged me!

The beautiful girl that all the guys were looking for was a close friend of my niece, and when she saw me, she gave me a hug...in front of all the guys.

It would've been a great story, but she called me: 'Uncle Cliff.'

Sort of took the steam out of it.

But the girls who show up at the sites are selling way more than the coffee. Some of the outfits are downright stripper-ish and the tips reflect those visits.

"I didn't want coffee," one guy once said to me. "But I got a $2 coffee and gave her a $10 tip. God she smelled great."

We all laughed.

"I'm gonna' give her a twenty tomorrow," he said.

The food is pretty bad, actually.

I once ate a meatloaf sandwich off the truck that Melky might've hesitated eating, but at that time of the day, with a long day ahead, it was definitely appreciated.

Yet my favorite roach coach story once again involved a very pretty young lady. I purchased my coffee and headed into the job trailer to meet with the foreman.

"God the coffee girl is like a model," I said as I stepped in out of the cold.

"She's about as bright as one too," he said. "Did you notice the dents on her truck?"

I looked out the window.

Sure enough her truck was badly smashed on both sides and there was nothing in the spot where her mirrors were supposed to be.

"I feel so bad," the guy said. "A couple of days ago she was at the end of the driveway. There was a semi blocking her a little and the concrete truck was on the other side of the drive. She came in here all flustered and said, 'I can't get in the driveway.'"

The guy hesitated for a moment.

"I was on the phone. I cupped the phone and told her:

"Just pull your mirrors in and hit the gas. You'll get in."

The guy started laughing.

"I heard the crash...then she came in crying...I never even got out of the chair to look to see if there was room...I thought she knew I was joking."

I looked out the window at the girl as she reached high to grab something off the top step.

"And now she hates me," he said. "I cry myself to sleep every night."

We watched her swing the door shut and get behind the wheel. She looked to the trailer window and waved at me.

She gave the other guy the finger.

"Ahhhh, that's too bad," I said.

"I might have to buy her a new truck," he said.

I don't think he was kidding.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Childhood Living

Childhood Living Is Easy to Do...

My boys were playing the other evening.

We weren't exactly sure what was going on...a little wrestling, for sure...a whole bunch of laughing.

The laughter was like music to me and it made me think of so many things about life.

"What's going on?" My beautiful wife asked.

"Hee-Hee and Haw-Haw," I said.

Just two brothers getting along.

I thought of the Stones line about childhood living in Wild Horses.

Life is certainly easier as a child, isn't it?

The laughter of my children was refreshing because things eventually get tough. Life gets really hard...it starts to become difficult to forget some of the torturous things that life has to offer.

Sooner or later we wear all sort of bullshit veils and we try all sorts of garbage to distract us from the business of just loving.

Life is simple as a child.

Love is not quite so complex in those teenage years.

And there's just so much grace there.

I think of that a lot.

I certainly know that I have been blessed beyond belief.

I laughed a whole lot with my siblings and my parents as well. I remembered the day when my brothers called out for me. I was just returning home from college and I was busy with something else, but they were laughing and they were calling out:

"Cliff! We need you."

I had no clue what might be going on and I passed a doorway. John grabbed me and lifted me off my feet. He carried me to a bedroom in my parents home and Jim and Jeff joined him...

...as they tried to sandpaper my forehead!

We were all wrestling, laughing and kicking.

In the middle of the battle I kicked out...and broke a window.

My lovely brothers scattered...screaming out to my father:

"Cliff broke the window!"

And through my life every single time I needed to be lifted up there was someone there...and we have fallen together...battled through grief and loss.

As an adult we have to place one scar on top of another scar and hope that we can rise above it.

Along the way we forget the grace.

My children's laughter continued for quite some time.

When it all comes down to it, we all should be having fun.

We get lost in the fog. We spend our lives waiting...waiting...waiting...

For it all to be perfect.

And we sort of forget that there's a whole lot of perfection all around us.

When I really, really think about family, friends and the wife and children I have now...

...my heart feels really full.

And I spend a lot of time, watching my children grow, thinking...

...childhood living is easy to do...

...but why do we drift away?

Hold onto it a little bit.

It'll make you smile.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

D.B.'s of the Week - Adam Nagel With An Asterisk

Once more there's a Twitter fight...

...and Curt Schilling is involved.

We all know Schilling...he may have painted fake blood on his shoe and then tied his shoe thirty times while pitching.

He has fought with people over politics, religion, baseball, finances and vaccinations.

He's always fighting.

Whatever.

Yet, all that Schilling did this time was post a very sweet tweet to congratulate his daughter about being accepted at a college.

As per usual, the people who hate Curt jumped him.

(There are millions of such people).

Well, one guy, Adam Nagel (and others) really jumped on.

Schilling posted something about knowing people in special forces who could handle a fight...for picking on his daughter...and the war of words went nuclear.

Nagle (and others) posted a whole bunch of really vulgar, disgusting, vile and horrendous tweets...that caused to Schilling to go on the offensive. Schilling is a self-proclaimed Christian man.

Schilling went to the airwaves to defend his daughter's dignity...which any father would do.

In fact, to some, Curt was the very definition of a hero!

Nagle...and all the others like him are the D.B.'s of the week...but there's a but...

Why you ask?

Schilling was on ESPN on Tuesday talking about the hate that he was subjected to...

This is a recap of what he said:

He knew that he was inviting the hate...because he is who he is...and college boys are always playful.

He knew that he was introducing his daughter into a situation where hate was certainly a possibility!

How do you even think of doing that?

Schilling has a lot of ways to send a note of congratulations to his daughter, but he puts her name on Twitter to people who stalk and troll him.

Why?

He can't congratulate his daughter on the phone?

On Baseball Tonight?

In a card or letter?

Nagle (and others) took the bait.

Curt wasn't in the mood to forgive...at all.

He got the trolls fired and he's set to have criminal charges pressed against at least 10 people.

Look...

...there's no excuse for the words that those folks hurled at Schilling's daughter.

...there's no reason why someone should attack (before Schilling announced her to the world) an anonymous young lady.

That's disgusting.

But Curt isn't a Twitter novice. It's too bad social media is where it is, but public figures know! I certainly can be wrong here...but we would have never known of his daughter. He has a right to be proud! But...I just don't know why.

Did he do it unknowingly?

Well, he admitted that he knew there would be negative tweets.

Sad story.

It's all happening over and over again.

Nagel is certainly the D.B. of the week...but the real shame is where we are in the world of social media.

That Dad, unfortunately, knew they'd do it. He may not have anticipated how low some people can go...not to be able to say something nice...is brutal.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Further On Up the Road


I still can't fathom why.

So many conversations missed.

Every single day.

It's been six years and it's still so haunting.

Further On Up the Road - Bruce Springsteen

Where the road is dark and the seed is sowed
Where the gun is cocked and the bullet's cold
Where the miles are marked in blood and gold
I'll meet you further on up the road

Got on my dead man's suit and my smilin' skull ring
My lucky graveyard boots and a song to sing
I got a song to sing, to keep me out of the cold
And I'll meet you further on up the road.

Further on up the road
Further on up the road
Where the way dark and the night is cold
One sunny mornin' we'll rise I know
And I'll meet you further on up the road.

Now I been out in the desert, just doin' my time
Searchin' through the dust, lookin' for a sign
If there's a light up ahead well brother I don't know
But I got this fever burnin' in my soul
So let's take the good times as they go
And I'll meet you further on up the road


Further on up the road
Further on up the road
Further on up the road
Further on up the road

One sunny mornin' we'll rise I know
And I'll meet you further on up the road
One sunny mornin' we'll rise I know
And I'll meet you further on up the road.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Bullets Were Whizzing By My Head

So now Bill O'Reilly is in the crapper because people are fact-checking his stories about being a reporter.

Quick.

Raise your hand if you thought that he wasn't lying!

I have listened to O'Reilly every once in awhile. He used to have a radio show that I'd tune in while I was driving around, but I had to quit listening.

The guy was always blowing hard about something...and like a lot of the rest of those guys he'd put himself in the middle of the action.

Bill O'Reilly is the star of his own show every day.

Which is his gig, I suppose, he's highly-rated and judging from the backlash, some people actually believe him.

But this is not like the Brian Williams story, is it?

People were horrified when it was thought that Williams lied about his helicopter being hit.

There's a lot less horror with O'Reilly...

...because most everyone assumed that he was lying!

O'Reilly has claimed to be outside the apartment when Oswald was killed.

He says he was attacked during the L.A. riots.

He was not only attacked in the Falklands...he stayed behind to save a man that the other reporters left for dead...and then the next day all of his co-reporters were hiding in their rooms and he hit the streets to see if he could do even more good.

Blowhard.

Of course, he's backtracking.

He's saying now that some of the violence he actually saw in photos, but man, they were scary photos.

Those co-reporters are saying simply:

"Never happened."

And you know what's even worse?

His show is now gathering even more steam. He set a record for ratings last week as people tried to watch him spin the shit out of his lies in the no-spin zone.

What bugs me about it is that these people are supposed to bring the news.

That's it.

No one asked them to be in it.

We don't need them to be brave.

Read the freaking story...and leave.

I don't need O'Reilly or Rush or Brian Williams or any of them to tell me what is true and what isn't.

Here's the deal:

I'm gonna' assume you're all lying.

All the time.

To further your personal agenda.

Saving people.

Oswald.

What a dope.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Good Riddance

So the calendar has flipped to March and all the news in Buffalo is that we clinched the coldest February ever.

Isn't that lovely?

Do we take that as a good thing or a bad thing?

I suppose that it's a badge of honor, but let me tell you...the month flat-out sucked around here.

I was sick. My legs quit. Jake had his wisdom teeth out. Flat tire. Cold. Snow. Colder. Snowier.

Sucked!

But here we are.

The month is sad for the Fuzzy family because we lost Jeff early in March 6 years ago.

We're all trying hard not to sink into the depths of depression, but very little changes when it comes to grief.

It's brutal.

So...good news?

Sam is going to be flipping around this house in a couple of weeks.

The NCAA tourney begins and I swear, this kid has about 6 thoughts running around in his head:

1). I'm hungry.

2). Villanova is 27-2.

3). Kentucky isn't that good, they haven't played anyone.

4). I'm going to win the bracket this year.

5). I get to take half a day off, right?

and

6). I'm hungry.

We have watched quite a bit of college ball around here already this year and the tournament days will be crazy.

What is funny about it is that there was only one other guy who loved the tourney more than my son Sam...and that was my brother, Jeff.

So.

March is here.

My beautiful wife will also be celebrating her birthday on the 17th.

I'll get a great dinner out that night.

February?

You sucked!

Good riddance.

Hope you enjoy your freaking record.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Sad Tale of Josh Hamilton

Josh Hamilton was drafted number one in the Baseball Draft.

Initially he couldn't live up to the billing.

He was hooked on all kinds of drugs.

He was homeless, penniless and really struggling to survive. He was cut from the team.

He had failed.

But Hamilton got the help he needed. He worked hard. He beat the addiction to hard drugs.

His story was heartwarming.

Hamilton rediscovered his talents with the Reds and then arrived at the pinnacle of the sport with Texas.

Hamilton dominated the home run derby in Yankee Stadium and he told the world that when he was at rock bottom he had envisioned the moment.

He spoke of Jesus saving him.

The sporting world embraced him.

Hamilton was MVP. He went to two World Series.

Yet the end of his time in Texas was strange.

He missed a game or two because he drank so much coffee (as the story goes) that he became dehydrated.

He tossed a ball in the direction of a fan who fell to his death in trying to catch the ball.

He loafed after a pop up in the playoffs and the Texas fans turned on him, booing him off the field.

But he got a huge free agent contract from the Angels, anyway.

Yet he seemed disinterested.

He got hurt.

There were whispers.

He admitted to having a drinking binge.

His wife and children stood by him.

The Angels talked of getting him more support.

He tried to hit again...looked lost at the plate.

But he'd been through it all!

Certainly he knew what was at stake. Surely his faith would pull him through.

Except it didn't.

Hamilton was at the league offices this week, coming clean about what is being reported as an alcohol and cocaine binge.

You know what is really sad?

The people who are kicking him now that he's down again.

Check out any of the stories about Hamilton's fall.

Fans want him out for breaking the rules. He's a junkie and they are telling him about it at every turn.

The media is on the prowl.

How many games should he be suspended?

Why was he too selfish to make it work?

He had the world...he chose the drugs.

It's so sad to me.

I hope that he makes it through.

I think he needs to do it as a regular human being though. He doesn't need baseball to survive. In fact, the pressure may be killing him.

It's a fine line, folks.

This isn't a guy who wants to be bad.

He's screaming out for help.

Here's hoping that people stop kicking him.

I have a sad feeling that they won't.

Breaking News

O.J. Simpson is the guy who turned the news into entertainment when he butchered two people. Then everyone was in a battle to beat the oth...