Sunday, May 31, 2015

Happy Anniversary to My Beautiful Wife

As you may have guessed there were six Springsteen songs in a row to start off our wedding reception.

I chose five of them.

I distinctly recall the Real World was song number two and Book of Dreams was also in the top five.

(Thunder Road was as well).

But I didn't actually choose the song that we would use for our first dance!

(And let me tell you...I'm a helluva' dancer).

Kathy picked the song.

And that's when I knew that marrying her was a terrific idea.

Think about it:

She came to me with a Springsteen song that she thought we should use for the first dance!

And the more you live within the confines of a marriage the more you realize the beauty of this song. Bruce nailed what it should be like in any long, happy marriage.

Happy Anniversary to My Beautiful Wife!

If I Should Fall Behind - Bruce Springsteen from Lucky Town

We said we'd walk together, baby, come what may
That come the twilight should we lose our way

If as we're walking a hand should slip free
I'll wait for you

And should I fall behind
Wait for me

We swore we'd travel darlin' side by side
We'd help each other stay in stride

But each lover's steps fall so differently
But I'll wait for you

And if I should fall behind
Wait for me

Now everyone dreams of a love lasting and true
But you and I know what this world can do

So let's make our steps clear that the other may see

And I'll wait for you
If I should fall behind
Wait for me

Now there's a beautiful river in the valley ahead
There 'neath the oak's bough soon we will be wed

Should we lose each other in the shadow of the evening trees
I'll wait for you

And should I fall behind
Wait for me

Darlin' I'll wait for you
Should I fall behind

Wait for me

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Prom - From A Dad's Perspective


When I glanced at Jake's prom photo from last night I chuckled.

"What?" Kathy asked. "He looks nice."

"He does," I said, "But I thought of my Dad."

Kathy was waiting.

"Dad looked at my prom photo and said, 'You look more nauseous than Bob Koop.'"

At the time, Bob Koop was a newscaster for Channel 4 who was bravely battling cancer.

Kathy didn't remember Bob Koop, but I have never looked at my prom photo and not thought about the poor man.

And my Dad wasn't done there. I recall him telling me:

"I know you're all in a tizzy now, but 30 years from now you will hardly remember the girl and barely remember anything from the night."

I do remember my prom date...but I only have snippets of memories of what happened throughout the evening.

And I suppose that's how it goes.

Yet...

...from a Dad's perspective:

The prom is a lot about worrying.

I didn't see the couples as they left as I was still working my way back from Syracuse but I sent a text to Jake and one of his good buddies (and a kid who's been at my house every single day for a month).

I wrote:

"Have fun tonight and don't be stupid, you morons."

I received an indecipherable gangsta' type response.

Yet.

This blog is late this morning because I woke up at about 2:50 a.m. and listened.

Were they home?

Were they being stupid, you morons?

And more importantly...

...were they in my house frying up my Porterhouses?

The prom was so much fun back then.

I remember really feeling like an adult.

A big shot.

We drank a little.

(Drinking age was 18...supposed I would've had wine even if it were set at 60).

We stayed out way too late.

Woke up tired.

33 years later...

...just snippets.

And worry.

Hope those morons weren't stupid.

Friday, May 29, 2015

That's Where Mojo Jo-Jo Lives!

I'm about to really embarrass my boys.

Do you remember the comedy network show The Powerpuff Girls?

Well.

My boys used to like watching that show.

I'm talking Matt and Jake here...Sam wasn't old enough to get involved.

Jake liked Bubbles.

In fact, we'd have to tape the show if we weren't home because we couldn't miss any new episodes and this was back before the DVR.

(To be fair, Jake was only about two years old - but the story tells better if I say he was about ten).

Why am I bringing it up anyway?

Well, there's a water tank in the Town of Hamburg.

I passed by it the other day as my mind was wandering.

That water tank caused a classic meltdown because I pointed at it, back all those years ago, and said:

"Hey, boys, that's where Mojo Jo-Jo lives."

Mojo was the bad guy in the Powerpuff Girls. He was an evil monkey type who made the girls lives miserable. He was also a little scary to a two-year-old, evidently, because Jake screamed bloody murder and it took us awhile to calm him down.

I believe my beautiful wife referred to me as an idiot.

When I passed the tower the other day I thought of that loud car ride with screaming, upset little boys.

They're now (or will be in a matter of a few weeks) 22, 18 and 15.

How in the hell did that happen?

A little while later I passed a house for sale in our neighborhood and a real sadness passed over me.

I'm not looking for a house.

I'm no longer looking to set up my life to be lived.

In fact, a lot of it has been lived.

We had the screaming kids, the brand new house, the college costs, teething, breast-feeding (not me), and the like.

It's all back there.

The boys will be crossing a lot of those bridges in the next 10-15 years...

...but the thought of Mojo Jo-Jo in the tower was more frightening to me this time!

What the hell am I going to be doing?

Watching Law & Order and waiting on grand-kids?

"Time goes by in a blink of an eye," Dad once told me.

I'm sure a whole lot of men have felt the same way all the way back through history.

Even Mojo Jo-Jo is long gone!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

D.B. of the Week - The Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears signed defensive end Ray McDonald to a lucrative free agent contract.

McDonald, a really good pass rusher, was suddenly available because the San Francisco 49ers cut him because he was being investigated over some relatively nasty sexual abuse allegations.

This was following a previous claim of domestic abuse.

The 49ers didn't want him on the team.

They didn't want anyone to look at their team as a home for wayward individuals, no matter how good they are.

When the Bears started thinking about signing McDonald there were members of the fan base who stood up against adding the man to the team and the community.

Bears management decided to take the chance.

Well.

It didn't pan out.

McDonald was arrested again over the weekend. Another terrorist like charge against a person he knows.

The Bears promptly cut him.

But, it left me no choice but to name the Chicago Bears as the D.B. of the Week.

Perhaps I should have done it back in December when they decided to give McDonald one more chance, but better late than never, right?

Because that is the real problem here.

The NFL is certainly not disciplining these guys the right way. They don't appear to be able to stay out of their own way. They also allow known men with serious character issues to play in their league and earn millions of dollars.

Throw millions of dollars on a flaming asshole and you get what you get:

Terrorist like threats on family members, guys who punch their women straight in the face, reckless drivers, sexual abuse, dog-killers, drunk-drivers, drug traffickers and guys who let the air out of a football.

(Yeah. One doesn't fit there - but the guy who let the air out of the ball - generally, allegedly, maybe - took one of the harsher league punishments).

I was livid when the league announced their penalty against Buffalo Bills player Marcel Dareus.

He's a good pass rusher as well.

He was busted with drugs.

Then he tried to park his racing car in a Chinese buffet just a mile from my house. He pulled his little parking prank at 3 p.m. on a Friday when my kids were driving around the neighborhood.

The Bills had no discipline for his actions.

The league suspended him for 1 game on the drug charge. Or 3 less games then the guy who played with a ball that was 2 PSI under the league limit.

Three less games!

Dareus is free to pillage right after that light suspension in the fall.

And what will happen if the next time he does kill someone in our neighborhood?

A 4-game suspension?

The Bills cut him...

...and the Bears pick him up?

Yeah.

The guys committing these offenses are idiots, morons, criminals and the like...

...but the management dudes who decide to throw caution to the wind because the scumbag might bring a return on the investment...

...are the real D.B.'s.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Hey LeBron!

I'm not a fan of LeBron James.

I once was.

He lost me with one sentence:

I'm taking my talents.

As soon as he said that I started really listening to him.

Everything out of his mouth is about one thing:

LeBron.

He's the biggest ego-maniac in the history of sports and while that isn't the worst of all things...

...I can't stand looking at him and his perpetually sour puss. He is also the biggest crybaby I've ever seen in sports. In his mind, he's never committed a foul and everyone is fouling him.

Whatever.

Here's my morning routine:

Let the dogs out, get a bowl of cereal and a cup of coffee, turn on ESPN, see LeBron on the screen telling me how wonderful he is, yell at the television, switch to the local news and mutter to myself that I can't stand looking at LeBron.

The other night he shot 14 for 37.

That's awful.

If I went 14 for 37 in the driveway with the boys they wouldn't let me play again.

After the game?

He told us how his 'will to win' is greater than everyone else's.

Puke.

And I'm not alone in my house.

Sam despises him.

Jake is not a fan.

Kathy hates the sight of him.

Matt?

He loves LeBron.

(That kid always was a dopey bastard).

But here's the final say in the matter.

LeBron was being interviewed.

He spoke of no one but himself and his legacy.

He rambled on and finished with what was essentially a LeBron love-fest that concluded with him telling us that he's the greatest player who ever lived.

Self-confidence is a nice thing, I suppose.

But greatness should be assigned to you by someone who isn't you.

And Hey LeBron...

...when you stare lovingly at yourself in a mirror remember one final thing:

You're playing with a ball.

Greatness is debatable when there is a freaking ball involved.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Sun


Everyone out there in the working world knows that there are moments when things get real tiresome.

The work load becomes mind-numbing and good rest seems almost impossible. The week's seem to meld together.

Burned out.

I really felt that way heading into the Memorial Day weekend.

It was my time in the barrel.

A strange thing also happens when I'm working long hours...

...I'll often pass a golf course on a bright sunny day and think:

"Damn. I should be out there."

As a young man I'd play at least once every week.

It's slowed considerably.

Feeling the burn out I kinda knew what I needed. I sent out a group text.

Everyone is busy.

Just 'cause I wanna' play...but where there's a will there's a way and thankfully I have a number of close friends.

Things were set:

Possibly golf three times in four days.

Saturday started the fun.

It was a clear, cool day. The ball came off the club nicely. The conversation with a guy I've known for 45 years was easy.

"Where'd you go?"

"How far out are we?"

"Good chip."

"That's a shame."

"&%$@!!!!!"

On Sunday I found friends a long ways away...I made a drive east...into the rising sun...to play 18 at a nice course with 7 others who are also long-time, wise-ass friends.

Everything hurt from the round on Saturday but I had the proper nerve meds, anti-inflammation and air casts.

"Can you play two days in a row?" Kathy asked.

"I hope so."

As I drove the sun blasted me and I kept moving the visor to block it. Yet I left early enough to watch it rise. The music was blasting. My music. Singing along to every song. A notebook beside me...writing down snippets of thoughts...the phone not ringing, buzzing or chirping.

Just wanting to get some of the sun's light on my face.

I parred back-to-back holes early in the round.

The ball came off nice.

The sun shined everywhere.

I took that photo at a moment in time when everything seemed balanced somehow.

Beauty all around.

The sun right above me.

I turned my face up towards it and felt the light on my face.

Shortly after that moment...

...I five-putted a f%^&Ing hole (that should have had a windmill on the green) after covering the first 500 yards in two shots.

"Remember when you five-putted?" my as&h%le cart mate asked me 6 seconds after I sat down and we headed to the next hole.

"Shut-up. I'm enjoying the sun."

Three holes later I four-putted.

Stupid sun.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day Quotes

Memorial Day Quotes

Here is a collection of some of the most famous Memorial Day quotes and sayings:

War is too serious a matter to entrust to military men. -Georges Clemenceau

Freedom of speech and freedom of action are meaningless without freedom to think. And there is no freedom of thought without doubt. -Bergen Evans

Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue. -Senator Barry Goldwater

Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. -William Pitt

Chance has never yet satisfied the hope of a suffering people. Action, self-reliance, the vision of self and the future have been the only means by which the oppressed have seen and realized the light of their own freedom. -Marcus Garvey

In war, there is no prize for the runner-up. -General Omar Bradley

So long as there are men there will be wars. -Albert Einstein

I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones. -Albert Einstein

The cost of liberty is less than the cost of repression. -Web Dubois

The purpose of all war is ultimately peace. -Saint Augustine

And I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free, and I won't forget the men who died, who gave that right to me and I'll proudly stand next to him to defend her still today, 'cuz there ain't no doubt I love this land, god bless the USA. -Lee Greenwood

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty. -John F. Kennedy

Future years will never know the seething hell and the black infernal background, the countless minor scenes and interiors of the secession war; and it is best they should not. The real war will never get in the books. -Walt Whitman

As I approach the gates of heaven;
St. Peter I will tell;
One more soldier reporting sir;
I've served my time in hell. -Mark Anthony Gresswell

The story of America's quest for freedom is inscribed on her history in the blood of her patriots. -Randy Vader

The dead soldier's silence sings our national anthem. -Rev. Aaron Kilbourn

When we say "War is over if you want it," we mean that if everyone demanded peace instead of another TV set, we'd have peace. -John Lennon

Peace is more important than all justice; and peace was not made for the sake of justice, but justice for the sake of peace. -Martin Luther

I think that, as life is action and passion, it is required of a man that he should share the passion and action of his time at peril of being judged not to have lived. -Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

Soldier, rest! Thy warfare o'er,
Sleep the sleep that knows not breaking,
Dream of battled fields no more.
Days of danger, nights of waking. -Sir Walter Scott

The greatest glory of a free-born people is to transmit that freedom to their children. -William Havard

Sunday, May 24, 2015

19 & Counting?

Up until yesterday I had no idea that there was a show called 19 and Counting.

I had no idea who the Duggar family was.

I was able to catch up fast because it appeared to be the only story in the news.

Now that I know...I'm aggravated.

But...I'm also a bit understanding of one part of it.

Ready?

I'm not sure where I would go with a kid that has done something wrong in the confines of the family. Let's be honest here, you aren't going to call the cops on your kid, right?

But...given the seriousness of the allegations against a 14-year-old...molesting his sisters in their sleep...I'm certain of one thing for sure...

...I'd get the kid some serious help.

From what I've read...and the coverage may be slanted...that doesn't seem to have happened. Working on a farm doesn't rid you of the devil.

I honestly don't believe that you can pray away such a 'sin'.

And this is more than just a 'sin'.

Did the family find help for the victims of Joshua Duggar?

That seems to be real unclear.

Yet my main problem, of course, is the hypocrisy.

Isn't the show billed as something of how you should live your life as a Christian?

I've never seen the show, and don't plan on watching, but I've been a Christian all my life and I can tell you a couple of things:

1). Lying and deceit is frowned upon.

The family knew the secret. They did not tell the secret until they had to tell it. It's not owning up to something if you spill the beans after you get busted.

2). If you have such a problem in your family should you be telling me how to live in my family?

If you think that the Duggar's are grand folks who deserve to still have their forum to tell people how to go about living their days in a Christian manner...ask yourself this:

Did they lie to you?

I think they did.

A couple of other things about the scandal.

19 kids?

Seriously?

I guess if you have 19 of them you may have a molester in the bunch...or a gay...

How would that go over with Jim-Bob or whatever his name is?

Maybe they have a gay child and they are hiding it from the television producers.

Who knows?

Thing is...their credibility is gone.

Also.

Why is this a conservative versus liberal argument?

Can someone actually take the side of the molester?

Why, of course, they can!

I read a whole bunch of accounts that said that the family is already forgiven.

Well...one final thought...

Be careful of those who say that something is forgiven in Jesus' name.

That is yet to be seen.

The Christian faith is certainly built upon forgiveness, love, living the right way.

Hiding something for ten years?

Pretending that you're one thing when you're not?

Preaching when you have your own deceit hidden deep?

Probably not so much...

...but what the hell do I know?

I wasn't even aware of this troubled clan until yesterday.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Planting the Garden

Memorial Day Weekend.

A weekend when we remember those who fought to keep this country safe.

An extra day at a time of the year when the weather starts to get really nice (although it's about 22 degrees this morning).

Barbecues.

A few beers.

And planting the garden.

As a kid this was the weekend.

Dad would usher us up and out of bed early and we'd all groan about it.

"Why can't we plant it at noon?"

"Get your ass out of bed!"

(Dad was the best at debating).

So off we'd go...all rubbing our eyes...all laughing, eventually...all getting chased back to the house every so often with my father yelling that he was going to kill every last one of us.

Throwing rocks at each other.

Making fun of each other.

Wondering why Corinne and Carrie didn't have to help.

Just a Dad and his four sons...on the ground...planting row after row after row of vegetables.

"Those are too close!"

Dad would tell us a lot of stories about planting the garden with his Dad. Grandpa once told Dad that he'd lie awake at night listening to the tomato plants scream, 'Move Over!' 'cause Dad, as a child was planting them too close.

When I was about 7 years old I was tasked with planting the rest of the cukes.

I ripped open the packages of seeds and dumped them under the manure pile...thinking if I hid them I'd be done faster.

Obviously they grew there and my secret was out.

The good news was that we never had a better batch of cukes and Dad never forgot it...

...he'd remind me of it every year...

...even when I was in my 30's and stopped over to help him out.

The garden is no longer up at the big house on the hill.

I don't have a garden at my home...although my brothers certainly do.

I tried it for a lot of years, but I could never quite get it right.

I also couldn't sell it to my boys, who wanted nothing to do with getting out of bed to plant tomatoes, peppers and cukes.

"They sell that stuff at Tops!"

But I miss planting the garden.

Who would've thought it?

All those years...waking up early...getting dirt under my fingernails...putting down the plastic, cutting the holes, dropping the plant in and covering it with soil.

We learned a lot.

And man...

...I really do miss it.

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Gow School Honors

You know who gets honored the most at The Gow School Annual Honors Presentation?

The Fazzolari's!


I just wanted to take it all in. I entered the empty auditorium just a few minutes the ceremony was to begin. The Headmaster greeted me before I even caught a glimpse.

"Thank you for coming, Cliff," he said.

I thought about being in the room for a book signing with a group of students cheering as Jeff and I went back and forth in front of them back in about 2007.

Jeff was an absolute rock star.


I wandered around the grounds a little. I stopped by the Memorial garden for Matt Roe who was a friend of Jeff's and tragically lost his life in 2008. Matt's death had devastated Jeff.

I said a quick prayer for Matt and his family.


The kitchen was busy.

Jeff was watching the action. His memorial plaque made me shake my head.

I said another prayer and was greeted by a pretty girl who had worked with Jeff back then.

"So nice of you to come out," she said. Then she told me a couple of stories...mentioning the laughter...her eyes glistened. "Your mannerisms," she said. "Are a lot like his."

We both shook our heads.


I glanced up.

The Gow School strikes me as a beautiful place. There's so much about the grounds that make it special.

I stared at the sign for a long moment.

Then I ran into a half dozen more people who had really loved seeing Jeff every day. They asked about every single member of our family.

Paul Rose, who was Jeff's great friend, invited me to the stage.

"I don't have to sit on the stage," I said.

"Yes you do," he answered.


Two students and a faculty member were awarded the Memorial Scholarship.

I stood beside Paul as he introduced the winners and in his speech he, of course, made mention of Jeff's wonderful sense of humor, but he also added something even more special, saying that Jeff's ATTITUDE was a shining example for students, staff and visitors.

I never struggle to speak in front of a crowd, but as I started to speak I thought of the fact that The Gow School was going to do their best to make sure that every single student...in the next 50, 100 years...will know or at least hear about Jeff.

Just beautiful.


And I hope you can make out the last photo.

On the anniversary of Jeff's death, this year, I used the words to the Springsteen song, Further On Up the Road, as a tribute.

The ceremony ended in time for me to get into the car at 03:18 p.m.

The song had just started.

Just beautiful.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

D.B. of the Week - Dominique Sharpton

Wow.

Dominique Sharpton appears to be damaging her father's good name.

(Sarcasm).

Have you heard this story?

She is suing the New York City Government for "internal and external injuries to the whole body, lower and upper limbs, the full extent of which are unknown, permanent pain and mental anguish."

It appears that she slipped on the uneven sidewalk in Soho.

Poor gal.

Sounds like she'll never be right, and at such a young age.

She's only 29 years old.

It's actually a wonder that she's only suing for $5 million dollars.

(Sarcasm).

After all, her civil rights Dad has championed so many brilliant things.

(Sarcasm).

(Do I have to keep adding the sarcasm note or have you captured the tone?)

She's won the D.B. of the Week!!!

And do you know why?

Cause she posted a photo of herself on the top of a mountain in Bali!

Yep.

I didn't post it.

She did.

Did you ever think she'd be able to climb a mountain after reading about her tragic injuries?

Thank God she has recovered so quickly.

Wait.

Didn't it say 'permanent pain and mental anguish'?

'The full extent unknown'?

Of course, her lawyer is saying that the mountain top photo doesn't truly portray all the difficulties she had just scaling that stupid little mountain.

She was truly in pain!

(Sarcasm).

The story has really picked up some steam.

People aren't really taking up for Dominique or Reverend Al.

I'm sure that we all should just keep the poor Sharpton family in our thoughts and prayers.

After all, they have this poor, disfigured, D.B. of the Week mountain-climber right on the heels of the alleged tax evasion.

How much bad luck can one family have?

Yeah.

(Sarcasm).

Enjoy the award.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Saturday Night Live/David Letterman

David Letterman kind of became a star when I was a college student.

He was brand new to the talk show circuit and by brand new I mean that he was completely different from all the talk show hosts we'd seen prior to that.

I loved the show.

In fact, as time went by I had a whole bunch of conversations with my Dad about how funny Letterman was through the years.

My favorite Letterman joke?

He started his monologue one night by saying that he went to the doctors because he had huge scratches along his back and on his stomach and in his long, drawn-out rapport with Paul (who I also thought was pretty funny) he explained that he had no idea where the scratches came from.

"The doctor came out and said, 'Dave, I have some bad news. Those scratches are coming from the inside."

Such a simple joke, but really funny.

I have told it a hundred times through the years and my beautiful wife just rolls her eyes.

"Dumb," she says.

And my all-time favorite Top Ten list?

When Dave did the Top ten numbers from One to Ten.

#10 - 6
#9 - 5
#8 - 3
#7 - 10

There were hoots and hollers.

"That one surprised me," he said.

#6 - 2
#5 - 1

"I thought #1 would be one," he said.

#4 - 4

"That one makes sense."

#3 - 7
#2 - 9

and the number 1 number from One to Ten:

8!


Again, simple and funny.

I haven't seen Letterman live in a long while...just ain't up at that time of the night...but I would still YouTube some of the stuff and laugh. He'll be missed.

Now...

...speaking of jokes that aren't so simple.

Louis C.K. is in trouble for his SNL appearance where he talked about pedophiles really enjoying being pedophiles.

People were hooting a little bit in the live audience.

Louis is being absolutely killed by religious groups and others...

...man!

It's comedy!!

I talked it over with the family at dinner the other night and Kathy thought it was a little too much. The boys thought it was clever...and funny...as it was meant to be.

We've discussed this before:

Was Carlin torched for his act?

Pryor?

Eddie Murphy?

I'm not quite sure that there is any topic that should be off-limits for a comic.

Louis C.K. wasn't sympathizing with pedophiles. He didn't sanction their actions.

He was trying to be funny.

What is funny to me?

The religious folks who are damning Louis the most...

...yeah...

...had the biggest pedophile scandal in history.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Everything Looks the Same

I was traveling around the Kansas City area and being in a new city is weird because you're just absolutely relying on the GPS.

Of course, as is prone to happen, the GPS isn't always aware of detours and the such. I was detoured around a neighborhood and ended up listening to the bitch on the GPS scream at me to make a U-turn as I tried to find my way myself.

Past a Home Depot, a Super Cuts and a Pet Smart.

It looked exactly like the shopping center right down the street from me in Western New York.

Turned right at the McDonald's, streaked by the Olive Garden and the Outback.

America looks the exact same in Kansas City as it does in Buffalo and I'm sure as it does in every other town or city around the country.

When I'm in a new town I do like to look for the local flavor and while I had a great brisket platter...there wasn't much to distinguish things.

Even the construction sites look the same...minority crews have taken over specific trades and while I took a lot of Spanish in my educational years, I can't converse in it...that's for sure.

I end up just talking louder...and in more simplistic sentences.

I feel like I'm trying to address a toddler.

And that's on me...the guys out there who speak English along with their Spanish end up laughing at me and asking me why I'm yelling.

The weather appeared a little dicey to me as I entered Kansas for a site and I couldn't help but think of Dorothy and the Tin Man and the Scarecrow.

"You're from Buffalo?" One local asked. "Does it snow all year there?"

I laughed.

"What about you and the freaking tornadoes?" I asked. "I was scanning the landscape looking for one."

"Ah tornadoes ain't shit," he said.

"Unless one has you by the feet," I answered.

"Around here we just listen to the news and figure out their path...then we stay clear of the path. There's places here where you can drive up and watch them whip across the plains."

I laughed.

"Sounds like a blast."

"Better than 12 feet of snow," he responded.

We both laughed.

So maybe there is a distinct flavor to a region after all.

I thought that as I passed...

...the Mobil Station...

...Toys R Us...

...Wendy's...

and

...Freaking Wal-Mart.

Corporate America has even invaded the plains.

Monday, May 18, 2015

When?


That photo came across my Twitter feed yesterday as that degenerate was sentenced up in Boston.

The person who posted it had the obligatory 'Thoughts and Prayers' in the message box.

And I looked at that photo for a long time...alongside the photo in the news story of the man who with his equally evil brother...murdered them.

And I kept thinking...

...When?

1). When will it end?

2). When will we figure it out?

3). When will men stop killing men?

And I know the answers.

Sadly I know them.

1). Never.

2). We won't.

3). Never.

And that is unfathomable.

Look at the faces of the dead there.

Think of the anguish of the family members and the friends who loved those people.

And that's not to mention those poor people who lost limbs or were forever changed.

When?

The photo shook me up for a long time and I just kept staring at it.

I knew that it was just one photo of one day.

In the past three weeks I've heard stories of men locking themselves in houses, shooting people before turning the gun on their own sick head.

A sick, demented man shooting kids at schools.

Shooting each other on every street corner in every city in this great country that was built on principles and belief.

'Thoughts and Prayers.'

When will be able to offer more than that?

To the families of people who lose their lives for no reason.

Innocent people.

And it's just not these two mad bombers.

Who will soon be dead together...gone...good, right?

But when will we be wringing our hands again in agony because there is another one?

When?

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Graduation Day - Congrats to Matt (Again)

I distinctly recall the day of my college graduation.

My mother and a couple of my siblings made the drive to Erie, Pa. to attend the ceremony. Dad didn't make the trip because I had told him not to...it was just going to be a long drawn-out ceremony.

He could stay home.

He'd done enough!

Mom, of course...wasn't going to miss it.

One problem.

She had to meet me by the side of the road.

We had been tossed from our living quarters by a landlord who was picky enough to hate broken windows and a kitchen table that had lost its legs at a huge party.

(That's another story - but a good one).

Suffice to say that along with about 5 other idiots I had finished off my college career by sleeping in the woods.

Anywhoha...

We had one last party the night before graduation.

In fact, I brushed my teeth on graduation morning with Jack Daniels.

(Not kidding...woodsman don't have tooth paste...but I had to get the horrible taste out of my mouth so J.D. it was).

Anywhoha again...

The ceremony went on forever...I kept searching the crowd for a girl who didn't show up because we'd been acting 'like assholes'

(No idea where that came from - right Lisa?).

My head was pounding.

My stomach was doing twists.

My family was somewhere up in the huge auditorium...no doubt bored senseless.

Finally they called my name.

I walked across the stage, shook the bishop's hand...and walked away.

"I can't believe they gave you a degree!" My roommate and great friend Fluffy called out.

He too was hungover to the gills.

Mom was too generous once more...she took me and a few of my closest college friends to dinner.

With my family and friends...

...I celebrated what felt like a tremendous accomplishment.

I'd made it out in 4 years.

And then...

...my college friends left the restaurant.

One-by-one.

People I'd shared every day with. Guys and girls that I really loved (and still do all these years later).

They walked out of the restaurant and for hours, days, weeks, months and years afterwards I kept waiting on their return.

Leaving college is weird.

You are ready to get life started.

But there's pain of knowing it's over.

Knowing that it will never be quite so much fun as it was for those four years.

I know how Matt feels.

I'm proud of what he did - four years - got it done - a great accomplishment.

But life will rise up to meet you in due time.

I can't believe I'm saying this:

But relax a little while.

The mule is still on his feet.

Get over the shock and pain of being out.

Know that better days are ahead...but that tedious days of endless work are also in your future...and it goes on and on and on and on and on and on...

Reflect on the friendships you made...

...the love you shared...

...and for God's Sake....

...detox a little before you make any major life choices.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Put This End In Until You Hear A Click

The train was supposedly going 100 mph when it crashed.

There's a strange trust placed in the people who are tasked to get us from one place to the next. I find it distracting to even think about the pilot.

I don't want to see what he looks like.

I don't want to know if he's in a bad mood.

I'd rather that he or she remain anonymous.

Being a safety consultant I also don't want to know if there have been recent safety problems associated with my plane, train or bus.

So I usually enter quietly.

Sit in my jammed in seat... and before you say it, seats on planes are tough for everyone... and think about NOT crashing.

I don't think of it long.

Yet I also wonder about the safety spiel they offer. Can't it be safe to assume that we all understand the concept of the safety belt?

If you have to listen intently to the attendant speak about how to click it.... you might be the dumbest person on the planet.

Can't we stop with that little safety discussion and maybe check to see if the pilot is ready to take a nap while he's at the controls?

I have a couple of other suggestions as well.

1). No meals allowed - I sat next to a gigantic guy on a plane who was intent on eating a full Chinese food dinner. Noodles, egg rolls and General Tso's chicken.

It was a 2 hour flight!

Remember... he was basically sitting in my seat with me. It was also only about 10 a.m.

"Seriously?" I asked.

He just shoveled it in.

2). Let's be nicer. When the little guy is standing on his tip-toes trying to jam a huge suitcase into a small space, you don't have to scream at him. In the same respect when you delay the flight for the 3rd time and tell a whole bunch of people that they aren't going home when you said they were... you could show a little compassion.

3). Look where you're going and know that if you come to a sudden stop in the middle of a full terminal someone is going to run into you... and it's your fault!

"You can't just stop," I said to one clueless dimwit.

"Sorry," he grunted.

When that happens I should be able to hammer the guy into oblivion.

Yet when it's all broken down....

... there's nothing fun about traveling.

Yet it most certainly shouldn't be deadly.

Let's spend less time on the seat belt tutorial and more time on knowing if the guy or girl behind the wheel is ready to go.

And no Chinese food in the seat next to me!

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Full Catastrophe of Life

There's a phrase that I use all the time when I'm talking to folks about my day.

I have a tendency to say that 'I've enjoyed every day of the full catastrophe of life.'

I stole that line from Mellencamp.

Well when we saw him last Saturday night the lights went down. He strode to the microphone and started singing the song in an old crooner style.

The band was playing in the dark behind him and when he sang the first line I turned to Kathy and said, "Unreal!"

She didn't know the song.

It's not exactly Pink Houses.

But I absolutely loved the rendition and it's been in my head for almost a week now.

The best thing about it was that he started singing...then completely forgot a verse...I think I was the only guy who might have noticed. He stopped and laughed and started over.

He mumbled: "Catastrophe."

So.

In the end.

If I should go sudden...

...know one thing:

I've enjoyed every day of the full catastrophe of this life.

Full Catastrophe - John Mellencamp

I've ridden down Sunset
I've drank expensive wine

I've been married two dozen times
Raised ten children on a workman's pay

And I'm glad to say I've enjoyed everyday
Of the full catastrophe of this life

I've sat in courtrooms
Had people call me names
I've been to London town
On a supersonic plane

I was lovin' your wife
While you were lovin' mine

And I'm glad to say I've enjoyed everyday
Of the full catastrophe of this life

I've opened my belt to trouble everyday
Ain't lookin' for a fight
But you know I won't walk away
From the full catastrophe of this life

I've seen the goodness
I've known the baddest mother f*&%ers around

I was tattooed when it first came out

I shook the hand that showed Moses the way

And I'm glad to say I've enjoyed everyday

Of the full catastrophe of this life

Thursday, May 14, 2015

D.B. of the Week - Tom Brady

Surprised?

I hate this entire story.

I think it has been handled poorly by everyone.

From Goodell to Robert Kraft to the guy who wrote the report to the fans who are rooting for blood and for the fans who are fighting for the honor of folks who may not deserve honor...

...to the quarterback...Tom Brady.

Brady has earned D.B. of the Week Honors!

And I'm not truly convinced that he was cheating.

Here's what I think...for what it's worth.

Brady liked the footballs soft.

As soft as possible.

I believe that somewhere along the way his preferences were made known to the guys who worked with the football.

I'm not quite sure that he knew exactly how much air was in the ball or not in the ball.

I don't believe that he liked it set, for instance, two degrees above or below.

Like Rodgers liked them highly inflated...Brady liked them softly inflated. Perhaps he didn't believe that the NFL would turn it into Watergate, but he should've known better. Goodell can't arrange a one-car funeral.

(The fact that the team gets to pick the degree to which the ball is inflated is just plain stupid).

Regardless...

If I'm not absolutely convinced it was flat-out cheating why am I giving Brady the award?

Because he's not being 100% truthful.

He knows more about what went down.

He's letting everyone swing in the wind and take up for him.

He let the ball boys take a fall.

His owner is out there saying what a great guy he is.

His agent is making loud statements...

...but Tom is basically silent.

Which...sad to say...is what all the great deceivers (and there have been hundreds of them from Douche Armstrong to Stupid A-Rod) have done.

Deny...deny...deny...deny...

...until they come clean.

Even if it is as I've said...

Tom suggesting they make the football as soft as they could because he was certain that all QB's had such a luxury.

Or

He flat-out directed it to happen...

He knows something.

And he's gonna' let others take the shots.

Again.

I hate the story.

I think the NFL should do something to someday take some accountability for one dumb rule after another (We still don't know what a fumble is) - but the lack of accountability is stunning.

I plan on never talking about it again, but I'm sure I won't have a choice.

The NFL just keeps churning out the crap.

And in a case that could've been put to bed in about three minutes...

The D.B. of the Week kept it going.

Congrats Tom Brady - Super Bowl MVP and D.B. of the Week - all in one year.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

You Suck!

Had a little Facebook exchange this past weekend that came out of nowhere and it sort of reinforced the fact that we are in a weird place these days.

Anyone can say anything they want...without fear...behind a keyboard.

And it brought to mind the celebrities who were attacked by trolling fans...

...including Curt Shilling and Erin Andrews and Ashley Judd...

some of those folks are suing the ones who went nuts on them...

...but social media, unfortunately will never be a polite place.

Which is also good with me.

I put a whole lot of stuff out there.

I'll disagree with someone just to see if they can see the other side of the argument.

I'll have live battles with my good buddy, Pops on Facebook...while I'm texting him about something personal.

The two trains never actually meet.

We can fight about the lack of integrity in football while we inquire about the wife and kids on the 'other line.'

It's when it gets personal that it becomes weird.

This is your typical exchange sometimes on a social media site:

Guy One: Obama is a strong leader who has helped create jobs and brought healthcare to folks who didn't have it.

Guy two: The economy was going to get better. It's cyclical. The healthcare plan has hurt folks too.

Guy One: I've been happy with the way he's handled Iran as well.

Guy Two: That's 'cause your (the you're is always misused) a libtard who hates his country. You &*%#$ moron. Your kids are &*%^ morons too.

Do you see where the discussion went sour?

And it goes that way almost every single time, too.

On every comment section about every story, everywhere in the world.

Which is a little sad because I have spent my entire life looking to understand all sides of anything...but usually coming across as closed-minded...a little trick of mine.

Yet.

It does come with the territory and it's important to know the difference.

That is why I am texting the important stuff to Pops and others.

That personal stuff belongs nowhere near the public realm.

You have to pick and choose who you bring into the real circle...and when the going gets mean...

...back out.

Which is tough to do.

Back when Schilling got into it I was quick to add that he sometimes mixes it up with his trollers, almost inviting the ridiculous attacks.

Which is something a whole bunch of us do, but is not a license for the other guy.

(If I didn't not care for Schilling...I'd feel responsible to offer him an apology).

But there's often things going on that mess up the whole thing.

I'm not sure what the future of social media will be.

I'm seeing a time when lawsuits fly 'round and 'round and it becomes overly regulated like everything else.

In the meantime...

...it's like every other walk of life.

Laugh a little.

Think through your arguments.

and

Be kind.

Because at the end of the day...

...we all sorta' suck a little.

We don't need it pointed out.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Wicked


Okay.

What would make you paint that on your car?

What sort of emotion is it supposed to invoke in me?

Am I wicked?

What the hell defines wicked in this day and age?

I'm thinking that something pissed this dude off.

Seriously pissed him off.

And as is prone to happen, I spent a bit of my driving time thinking about him.

First off, I don't begrudge his freedom to besmirch his own vehicle with a Psalm that means something to him.

Is it a message to one person?

To a group of people.

To all of us?

Since I read it, I felt responsible to question my own wicked ways.

The wicked shall be turned into hell.

I've always wondered about that.

Will they grade hard...or since everyone seems to be struggling a bit...will there be a little bit of a curve.

I'm hoping that there's a tiny curve involved for the college days at least.

As I thought about the woman or man who scripted those words (and for some reason I'm thinking a skinny man with a scraggly beard, tattered clothes and a snarl) I came to the conclusion that:

We might all be pretty much screwed.

On judgement day...given the strict definition of what is most likely to be considered 'wicked' there will be mass send off.

No curve.

Wonder if I'll see this guy in the long line.

Down.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mellencamp @ Shea's


We sorta' lucked into the tickets.

We were also a little leery of going because Mellencamp played the Niagara Falls Casino last year, and while the show was good...it was a little short and J.C.M. seemed old and tired.

Man...what a difference!

We listened to June Carter's daughter, Carlene...one of the Carter girls as an opening act and heard a couple of stories about the legend Johnny Cash himself. A great start.

A beautiful voice.

Mellencamp had sounded a little scratchy in Niagara Falls but he started the Shea's show in much fuller voice.

Lawless Times

Troubled Man

and then...

...the first note of my all-time favorite.

Minutes to Memories.

I couldn't help it...I sang every word with him.

Suck it up and tough it out and be the best you can...the old man told me this...now I'm telling it to you...Life strips away the dreams that we had planned...my family and friends are the best thing I've known and through the eye of the needle I'll carry them home.

I turned to my beautiful wife and said:

"Worth the price of admission."

But Mellencamp was in a great mood...looked young and ready to go...the violin was perfect...one song after another.

Crumbling Down

Full Catastrophe of Life

Human Wheels

Pink Houses

Cherry Bomb

Mellencamp spoke of growing older...funny stories about his kids.

Man.

Great show by a rock and roll Hall of Famer.

And I say that I lucked into the ticket because of Facebook and a lifelong friend, Beth, who had to give up her seats because of a family commitment.

Thanks Beth...catch him next time through!

Great show!!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Matt is Graduating! Happy Mother's Day!! Live the Life!!!

So...I spent a lot of days driving Matt pretty hard.

Every time he passed me in the halls as he grew I mentioned some work that I had for him. He went out of his way to prove me wrong in a lot of lengthy debates.

I did it to push you, kid...because I knew you were ultra-capable.

So.

Proud of your accomplishment and the fact that you paid for your entire education on your own!

Rod Stewart popped into my ear yesterday as I did your yard work for you.

I thought of you as this song played and I felt a sense of true pride.

Go get 'em.

My older brother, John, sent me a card when I graduated from college. I still have it and his words meant the world to me.

He said:

"You got life by the balls. Don't screw it up!"

(John isn't a wordsmith. But I tried hard to listen).

And I couldn't think of a better gift for Mother's Day then to make your mother cry because she's proud of you too (and all three of you boys).

It's a beautiful song - put it on your I-pod to break up the cRAP.

Live The Life - by Rod Stewart

You wrote it in your email that you’re sad and lonely
‘Cause a girl in college has stolen your heart
And so my estimation of the situation
Is I bet you can’t stand being apart

Listen, son you gotta' find a sense of perspective
Ain’t no use in burying your head in the sand
Although I kinda like your revolutionary spirit
You know you got to fall, before you learn how to stand

Nobody’s gonna' know what it’s like
To walk a mile in your shoes
Satchmo' sang: 'It’s a Wonderful World'
What you make of it is up to you

Let yourself fly, let yourself cry
The years will disappear in the blink of an eye
There’s music in the air, and it holds your plans
And it'll be heaven when she's in your arms
So love the life you live
And live the life you love

Everybody here has been asking about you
When’s that boy of yours gonna be coming home?
And when I hear the bells ringing down at the school yard
Kinda reminds me of when you were young

You know you gotta polarize your concentration
I know that girl of your's gonna understand
Never underestimate the power of affection
When you got the world in the palm of your hands


Don’t go looking for the pot of gold
Or the light, miracle mile
Happiness lies in your own backyard
Be patient it could take a while

Walk down the aisle, with that big old smile
Collect your diploma with your head held high
You studied with your soul to reach that goal
Always remember, let the good times roll

Love the life you live
And live the life you love

Nobody’s gonna' know what it’s like
To walk a mile in your shoes
Satchmo' sang: 'It’s a Wonderful World'
What you make of it is up to you

So walk by the lake, hand in hand
Try and see the sunset in a foreign land
Tell her you love her don’t be afraid
And keep every promise that you ever made
And love the life you live
Live the life you love
Love the life you live
Live the life you love

You gotta love it
You gotta love it
Make the most of it

You only got one chance
So take it with your hands

Love the life you live.
Live the life you love.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Happy Mother's Day to My Mom!

I watched Mike Tyson knock out Michael Spinks in under a minute.

I saw Wilt Chamberlain muscle Bill Russell under the boards.

Watched John Riggins carry five guys on his back.

But

Never in my life have I met a stronger person.

Than my Mom.

Nothing stops her from battling back every single time life paints her into a corner and her strength has meant the world to so many people.

She keeps a hundred folks going.

With her smile...her laugh and the fact that she will work through it. Somehow.


I know my siblings and I feel Mom's pain every single time we see the tears in her eyes...

...but they don't stay there long.

Because she's strong.

Stronger than Wilt and Riggins and Tyson.

Stronger than anyone you know.

Love you, Mom.

Thank you.

For a million things.

Maybe two million.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Brady's Balls

So, here in Buffalo Route 33 has been closed down each night because they're shooting a movie - Yeah - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

I most likely won't see the finished movie, but there was a time...

...I had to watch all of those movies when the boys were young.

They were painful to watch, actually, but the boys certainly loved all of them.

The television show was horrendous.

Yet it's a funny thing about show business, right?

On day one, folks lined the street to get a glimpse at the shooting area.

By day two the complaints started to come in. "The lights", "the explosions", "the mean crew."

It's all for about five minutes of action in the course of the movie.

5 minutes!

Must be nice to spend between $7 and $9 million dollars to film five minutes of stuff and people are starving.

Also.

The 'Tom Brady is a cheater' story is dominating the news again and I really don't want to debate it with anyone...especially people who hate him...but the NFL has certainly bungled another scandal.

They spent $5 million to get to the bottom of things and people are starving. They ended the audit with 'Probably, Generally Appeared' as a conclusion.

I can't believe they pay that commissioner $45 million a year...and people are starving.

Goodell doesn't appear able to arrange a one-car funeral.

I think back to George Brett hitting a home run with too much pine tar on his bat.

It broke the rule.

The ball went about 450 feet.

Yankees legend Billy Martin came out of the dugout and petitioned the umps. Brett was called out and he exploded from the dugout in one of the most classic temper tantrums of all-time.

That night the commissioner of baseball ruled on it:

Brett broke the rule, but the pine tar had nothing to do with the outcome.

It wasn't the spirit of the rule, he said.

The home run counted.

I was just a kid then and I went nuts, of course, being a Yankee fan, but deep down, I knew it was the right thing. George Brett wasn't cheating even though he technically took advantage of a dumb rule.

Everyone has something to say about this football scandal. Most agree that the ball had little to do with the outcome of anything.

I really don't see how suspending one of the best players ever does anything for your sport.

I further don't understand how labeling the champions of the sport enhances the game.

A league filled with cheating, a complete lack of integrity, bad refs, drug-addled folks on every team...has suddenly found religion?

It's certainly a weird way to handle a crisis

...and I think Brady most certainly told his guys to make the footballs soft as possible.

He was guilty of it and he probably should have come clean, but most likely thought it was a silly thing to be drawn and quartered for...

...but that's what he'll be.

(An aside - announcers should say 'footballs' instead of just 'balls'. The special reports breaking in to regular programming to mention that Brady wanted his "Balls Extra Soft," is weird).

I can tell you one thing:

I'd rather watch three straight days of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Television Show than ever see anything about Deflategate again.

But I have a feeling that we aren't close to seeing the end of this story.

Mostly because the commissioner is incompetent.

Even the T.M.N.T are laughing at him.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Awful News

Sometimes it seems that we spend a lot of our days just hoping that the other shoe doesn't drop.

There are so many sad stories out there every day...

...folks getting sick.

...dogs dying.

...young men being killed in car accidents.

If we dwell on that news it can really drag us down.

There's a lot to be said for staying in the moment and enjoying each and every day...

...but it's hard to do, isn't it?

The week began with Mom's dog taking his last breath. Not the end of the world, by any means, but it does rock the old world for a little while.

I traded messages with a young woman facing a health issue and I just couldn't help but say how sorry I was that she was going through any of it.

Stay strong.

We're praying.

And then the news of a young man being injured in a car accident.

A 25-year old man who was on the verge of being married.

A soldier.

A strange, almost freak accident.

What can you say?

It's just awful news.

And man, it can really wear you out, if you let it.

Be grateful.

Stay strong.

Try to laugh a little.

Because life is right around the corner.

Hopefully this post finds you smiling.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

D.B.'s of the Week - Boxing Idiots

As I've said...

...I felt a bit like an idiot for buying into the Mayrunner-Manny fight.

I feel even worse now because it appears that we were all duped.

Manny needs shoulder surgery.

He knew that he was hurt well in advance of the fight. He also knew that there was no way that he was going to be able to knock out Mayrunner and not just because he couldn't catch him.

He was hurt.

The fight should have been postponed.

Yet it wasn't.

Because of the money.

We all know that boxing is a dirty sport.

There have been movies made about fighters who have taken a dive to make money for whoever was betting against them.

Don King was such a hated character that even the boxers he made rich...felt like they needed a bath after working with him.

It was a completely false event.

Boxing folks earned the D.B's of the Week Award.

Manny was hurt.

He didn't back out of the fight because his paycheck was heavy.

He says that he reported the injury.

The Nevada Boxing Commission didn't postpone it.

Mayrunner had to know.

He refused to refuse the money.

So...

...it was basically a show.

As I wrote here the other day, it was a lousy show.

The fight was boring, uninspired and void of thrills.

It didn't appear that either man broke a sweat (but Mayrunner must have because he had to run at least 10 miles).

Yet here we are.

There's a class action suit already started.

Mayrunner says that Manny can have a rematch.

(I bet the price goes up on the pay-per-view)....

...but the viewership will go down by at least one.

I ain't that dumb.

D.B's can really only fool me once.

(I hope).

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Brothers Under the Bridge

There's a Bruce song that is hardly ever heard by anyone.

It's called Brothers Under the Bridge and it was never a hit, for sure. It was hardly even released! It's on the Tracks record.

It's slow, reflective and beautifully written. It's about a Viet Nam vet who returns and finds nothing is waiting for him at home. He tells his story of being lost to his daughter. A daughter that he hardly knows. A daughter who can't understand that he drifts across the west, sleeping in camps built by the homeless brothers.

The imagery is astounding.

Every single word means something.

We were in the car when it came across the radio in the middle of a concert replay. Bruce announced that the band had never played it before live.

I had certainly never heard it performed live.

But I thought my way through the song, remembering that the last line in the song is the one that struck me so hard the very first time I heard it.

The man is talking to his daughter.

He's telling her why his life turned out to be a lot different than what he had dreamed it would be.

One minute you're right there...and something slips.

The song fades to black.

That is the very last line.

Kathy was in the car as the song played. She was telling me about her day.

I was a million miles away...knowing that I had written about 50 pages based on that one line.

Something slips.

There was a man in a town where I lived a long time ago...

...West Haven, Connecticut.

The man was an absolute mess.

He worked construction from 7 to 3.

He drank from 3:30 until he passed out.

He had a couple of kids who he screamed at, threatened, and belittled. His wife had left him for another man. He considered her to be a filthy whore.

He lived in the apartment below me and one day I had one beer with him.

I couldn't stomach more than one.

And I wondered about that guy.

I was young. He was bitter, mean and his life seemed to be a waste.

I just wondered.

And on that day...when we had that one beer...he explained...that life had destroyed him and that he didn't care anymore.

He had been right there...

...then something slipped.

There are a lot of folks just putting their time in.

It wasn't what they expected.

Google the words sometime.

Brothers Under the Bridge.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Keep It


A-Rod tied Willie Mays on the all-time home run list with 660.

Big deal, right?

I agree.

To me the all-time HR leader is still Henry Aaron and Roger Maris still holds the single season record with 61.

The record books say otherwise, but I know the difference.

A lot of the guys were cheating.

A lot of them.

Including a number of Red Sux players...Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz (Their two biggest stars) for certain.

So...when A-Rod came to bat on Friday night he was promptly booed...

...by a stadium filled with hypocritical folks, I suppose.

He hit a laser over the wall to give the Yankees the lead and the win.

It was really fun to watch the crowd go from booing to holding their heads in their hands.

The guy who caught the ball was holding it in his hand and giving the two thumbs down. Then when he was approached by security he said that he wasn't giving the ball to A-Rod to keep.

What a dope.

The Yankees and Red Sux all offered him bounty for the ball.

The guy said 'no.'

He even said that he'd blow the ball up on camera before he forked it over.

And again, I can't say it enough, A-Rod really screwed up a nice career and I'm not particularly a fan...

...but at 40 years old, with two bad hips, after missing 18 months of playing time he worked his way back.

He served the longest suspension of anyone...ever.

He should always hold that record.

But to be back and turning around 95 MPH pitches?

He deserves a little credit.

He broke down during the interview, talking about his tortured life over the last two years. He brought it on himself, but...

Keep the ball.

Show it to all your friends and talk about what a cheater A-Rod is...

...in fact put it right next to your Red Sux championship plaques featuring the two best players on those teams...

Manny

And Big Papi.

Both blatant cheaters.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Jeter!!!!!!


Sad, sad day.

After an incredible life Mom's and Dad's dog Jeter headed out to the next thing.

It's tough.

I've always said that dogs and mothers should never pass away and it's incredible but the dogs who ended up being members of the Fazzolari family lived exceptional lives.

Jeter was a good dog.

Loyal.

Somewhat obedient.

We're gonna' miss him!

Mayrunner


We only have ourselves to blame.

Folks bought into the hype and Floyd the Runner got paid.

The thing about it is he is boxing, I suppose.

He ran from corner to corner. He threw a jab that made it impossible to get inside. He 'won' the fight because evidently the little love taps he sends out are considered 'blows', but the only people anyone has ever saw him hit hard are the women he blindsided.

Yeah.

Little annoyed.

The problem being is that its been a long time since there was a fight to like.

When I was a kid some of the great bonding moments came as my siblings, father and I watched a good fight.

Like Ali-Frazier (we always went for Frazier).

Like Hagler-Hearns

or Norton-Ali

or Foreman and anyone.

Hell, even through the Tyson years.

So...my brother John and I decided we'd get the fight..at my house.

We were united in the idea that we wanted Floyd to taste the ring apron.

And

Dance.

Hug.

Run.

The fight never actually happened.

Manny stalked but couldn't get near.

Floyd got booed by everyone there because the world knows that he's a little woman-beating douche.

And the 'fight' sucked.

I guess he won.

The ring announcers started telling people in round one why Manny couldn't win.

The fans (who paid up to $100,000) to be there booed.

And I felt dirty after the verdict was announced.

Knowing that we'd all been taken.

Mayrunner acted like a tough guy.

I'm sure he'll declare himself the greatest boxer of all-time.

If what I watched makes him great...

...then boxing has really slipped.

I watched Ali beat Norton and then get in an ambulance with a broken jaw.

I watched Foreman pound Frazier.

Hell, even Tyson at least bit off an ear to make it interesting.

Does Floyd look tough in that photo above?

Looks scared to me.

Such crap.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Life is Beautiful

I had a difficult week.

It started with a few rides on a small airplane. I am not fearful of flying, but I hate the entire experience. The airports, the jammed seats, the delays, and most importantly giving up control.

We were circling in New York, unable to land because there was too much traffic and we kept buzzing around the big island. I was a little nauseous because it was like we were riding on a lawn mower, but I glanced out the window. The guy beside me was leaning across my seat, trying to get a photo.

And I thought about the plane going down...who doesn't think about that?...and I thought about how the news stories would just count the heads of those who perished.

And then I glanced out the window at New York.

"It's beautiful," the guy whispered.

And life is like that...

...when we feel most uncomfortable. When we are beyond aggravated. Just when the scent of some stranger's breath is about to turn me into a screaming idiot, there is beauty.

The busy week continued.

Construction season is in full swing and the phone rings a lot. Up before the sun, battling to finish with enough time to perhaps catch a few innings, go back to work.

A whole bunch of Americans in the same boat.

How's the leg? You're limping.

I'm good.

One aggravation after another...sooner or later the work gets done.

"Shoot with us," Sam pleaded as he tossed me the basketball.

There were three of them.

Certainly they needed a fourth.

I took a few practice shots and declared myself ready to go.

Out in the driveway. One son on my team and the other one guarding me and talking smack.

Life is beautiful.

I didn't run much, but I hit a few shots and grabbed a few rebounds. I even dribbled between my legs as I called the last shot.

"This game is over," I said.

Jake went to the spot where he knew I was going (I never learned to go left). I beat him there and put the shot up.

"Good game," I chided as the ball was in the air.

"One more!" They all called out.

Couldn't do it.

My beautiful wife was ready to go to dinner.

We met my great Mom, my brother, sister, nephew and brother-in-law.

We were all talking about being busy.

I contemplated those who weren't there. I missed every single one of them...death...out of town...just not there.

"Dad's sauce was never actually topped," we all agreed.

"No kidding," Kathy said. "I remember the first time I had his marinara. I wanted to drink it! I figured out why you all went there every Sunday."

Beautiful words.

And we ate.

Pasta, peppers, mussels, bread, meatballs.

"What did you eat tonight that you can't make better at home?" Jim asked.

"Nothing," I answered.

We are all better cooks than the chefs at the restaurants.

Mom and Dad taught us that.

Life is beautiful.

Kathy and I were both limping to the car. She had started her day at 3:30 in the morning.

"What a pair we turned out to be," she said. "Look at us, stumbling around."

Yeah.

Life.

It hammers you, for sure...

...but it gives back too.

You just gotta' weather the storms...

...and hold onto the beauty that's all around.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Hold Me Closer Tony Danza

Friday's are great.

They're even better when the sun is shining.

Just something about knowing that the next 48 hours are kinda' yours.

In fact, I hate phone calls on Friday afternoons and treat the caller with absolute disdain.

As luck might have it I was in my car in the early afternoon and Tiny Dancer by Elton John came on the radio.

Who doesn't love that song?

We all think we sing it perfectly as well.

I have no idea what the lyrics mean, but they seem important.

I sang along...thinking of way, way back when the song was released and Elton was pretending to be married.

I thought of girls that I knew back then.

How urgent the lyrics were.

Then I thought of the song being ruined by someone on television changing the lyrics to Hold Me Closer, young Tony Danza.

I sang the rest of the song that way.

In the mood for singing I flipped around and settled on the E Street channel.

Bruce always has a song to sing.

I sang along with Pay Me My Money Down.

Beautiful, Friday.

The only way it would get better, of course, was to grab a little dinner with family and since it was James' 16th birthday...we headed out.

Pasta.

Bruce.

Tony Danza.

Have a great weekend.

Friday, May 1, 2015

D.B's of the Week - The Rioters

We've all seen the photos.

Kids throwing rocks at the police.

Men coming out of the CVS with cookies and toilet paper.

Even the poor mother who went viral slapping the sh*t out of her kid for being involved.

There's no doubt that the D.B.'s of the Week are those involved in the riots.

And that's not to say that there isn't a beef there...whether it is real or just perceived.

But what makes a man do some of the things that they might not normally do?

I was listening to a radio broadcaster the other day who was saying that he'd love to be a part of the mob who is going into some of the stores and grabbing stuff. The announcer said that it would be 'fun'.

Fun?

Of course, the guy was quick to add that his conscience would not allow him the peace of mind to be able to keep the stuff that he looted.

Immediately there was a phone call and the caller explained that all the 'nice stuff' that he had in his apartment came from whatever he could grab during the Hurricane Katrina days in New Orleans.

Would it be fun?

When I was young I always thought about how neat it would be to be able to go into a record store and grab all the music I wanted.

If I somehow got loose in a grocery store I'm sure the meat counter would take a beating.

I wouldn't pass the pasta aisle either.

But much like the announcer, my conscience would beat the hell out of me.

(The nuns did a helluva' job).

As far as throwing rocks, or starting fires or just hurling screams...

...I don't have such rage inside.

But then again...I have not been oppressed, or felt so oppressed either.

Still.

These folks easily win the D.B. of the Week honors because I don't actually believe that a lot of folks had all the information they might need to warrant acting like a punk as something honorable.

Some of the looters and violent men out there were simply looking for an excuse to be criminals.

And that's a D.B. worthy act from the very first moment.

It's sad.

I'm still sad over all of it.

I'm holding my breath, knowing that there's a real possibility that the cops may not have done anything wrong in the death of the man they had in custody.

The man had been arrested a whole bunch of times, previously, and he had not been killed by the cops during those arrests.

Is it possible that there was wrong-doing?

Of course.

But some D.B.'s are just waiting for an excuse to act badly.

And again...

...sad.

"He Wants to Hang 'Em All"

Every day there's something nasty. So sick of the nasty. Sometimes the nastiness is passed off as a joke. Other times it's locke...