Sunday, January 31, 2016

Golf Stories

Received in an email from an OLD friend - Al Smith - funny stuff - even if you're just a hack golfer like Al and members of Team Grape Ape:

1). A recent study finds that the average golfer walks about 900 miles a year.

Another study found that golfers drink, on average, about 22 gallons of alcohol a year.

That means that golfers, on the average, get about 41 miles to the gallon.

2). A husband on the wife are on the 9th green when she suddenly collapses from a heart attack!

"Help me dear," she says to her husband.

The husband makes the 911 call on his cell phone, talks for a moment, picks up his putter and starts to line up his putt. His wife raises her head off the green and stares at him.

"I'm dying here and you're putting?"

"Don't worry," the husband calmly says. "They found a doctor on the second hold and he's coming to help you."

"How long will it be?" she asks feebly.

"Not long," the husband says. "Everyone else has agreed to let him play through."

3). A gushy reporter told Phil Mickelson:

"You are spectacular. Your name is synonymous with the game of golf. You really know your way around the course. What is your secret?"

Mickelson replied: "The holes are numbered."

4). A young man and a priest are playing together. At a short par 3 the priest asks:

"What are you using on this hole, my son?"

"An 8-iron, Father. How about you?"

The priest said: "I'm going to hit a soft 7 and pray."

The young man hits the 8-iron and puts his ball on the green while the priest uses the 7-iron and dribbles the ball out a few yards.

"I don't know about you," the young man says, "But in my church, when we pray, we keep our head down."

5). The police are called to an apartment and find a woman holding a bloody 3-iron and standing over a lifeless man.

The cop asks: Is that your husband?"

"Yes," says the woman.

"Did you hit him with that golf club?"

"Yes. Yes, I did."

"How many times did you hit him?" the cop asks.

"I don't know," the woman says, "put me down for a five."

6). A golfer teed up his ball, took a mighty swing and his his ball into a clump of trees.

He found the ball and saw a slight opening between the trees, thinking he could hit through. Trying out his 3-wood he swung. The ball hit a tree, bounced back and hit him in the forehead, killing him. As he approached the gates of heaven he saw St. Peter waiting for him.

"Are you a good golfer?" St. Peter asked him.

"I got here in two, didn't I?" the guy asked.

7). The bride was escorted down the aisle and when she reached the altar the groom was standing there with his golf clubs at his side.

"Why do you have your golf clubs?" the bride whispered.

"He looked her right in the eye and smiled:

"This isn't going to take all day, is it?"

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Breaking News: Orenthal and Avery Are Guilty

There has been a whole lot of talk about "Making a Murderer".

Now there will be a lot of talk about O.J. Simpson as there is a new series starting about his court case.

In both instances there are still people out there who think:

They were framed.

My beautiful wife and I watched the Making a Murderer series in about a week's time.

It was really well done and the documentary was set up in a very mysterious manner. The twists and turns were hard to see coming and doing it over such a long period of time allowed for a whole bunch of convenient truths.

"What do you think?" Kathy asked when it was finally over.

"He did it."

"What?" She asked. "How can you say that?"

"We were told one side," I said. "And the cops aren't going that far out of the way to set him up."

Still...there were a lot of questions raised and I thought that there was enough there for reasonable doubt...but again...I didn't see all of it.

Maybe the questions raised in the documentary were asked and answered during the trial.

The jury must have thought so.

And now we are back to Orenthal.

My boys always say the same thing when I bring up his name:

"Great player. Found not guilty."

They do it because it drives me crazy.

I seethe inside when I think of him on the Buffalo Bills Ring of Honor and in the Hall of Fame.

Take a stand - kick him the hell out!

Anywhoha...

The FX series will shine a new light on it.

We will hear that he too was framed.

People will stand in his corner...again.

This is what I know for sure:

If you're aligning yourself with Steven Avery or O.J. Simpson...

...you need new heroes.

'Cause they did it.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Pearl Washington

There's a Go Fund Me Page set up for former Syracuse basketball player Pearl Washington.

The people who love him are looking to raise money so that he can pay for his medical bills.

Peral Washington was a great player for the University back in the 1980's.

He never made it to the pro's.

He never got the big money.

From what you read about him...

...his life has been nothing but a struggle from the time when Syracuse made money off his name as they went far into the NCAA Tournament.

His paid-for education did little for him.

And there are people out there who will immediately dismiss Pearl Washington's problems. He was plunked out of poverty, handed a scholarship to a great school and was cheered on a national level.

Boo-hoo, right?

He didn't take charge of his life and make the most of what was handed to him.

The story might just be a little more complicated than that.

Washington was yanked out of poverty and he did spend 4 years competing at the highest collegiate level.

He was a great college player but wasn't good enough for the professional leagues.

He should've went to classes and had a fall-back plan, right?

Maybe.

A lot of those guys don't think that way.

The college holds them up.

The classes they take are very often cake classes or believe it or not bogus all together.

Players are at the college to win games, maximize TV money, sell tickets and merchandise and bring glory to the multi-million dollar coaches, the university and the alumni donors.

Once Pearl Washington's eligibility ran out...

...so did the people who "loved" him.

He was ill-equipped to cope with life's challenges.

He was sent on his way.

Back to the poverty-ridden life he thought he had escaped.

Boo-hoo, right?

Pull yourself up by the bootstraps! This is America!!

Well.

I think he got a raw deal.

So do thousands of others who are recruited, treated like kings, and then discarded.

God Help Peral Washington and all the other athletes who are used in such a manner.

Boo-hoo, indeed.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

I Lost

I think we started the ritual when I was about 15 years old.

I would bet my brother Jeff, using the spread, on every single football game played each week.

We would keep a running count...and at the end of the year we had to settle up.

A dinner.

In those early years it was just a few burgers at a fast-food joint.

The winner would just crush the loser.

Well.

When Jeff left us...I decided that I couldn't face doing it anymore. I passed the tradition to Sam and he went head-to-head with his beloved Uncle Chuck.

They are in season 5 of their battle and I hear rumors that they've toyed with the rules.

But the stakes are still the same.

This was the first year I jumped back into the fray...choosing Jake as my foil.

I lost.


Jake and his guest, Quinn (who eats a truckload of my food anyway) decided on Red Lobster.

Kathy doesn't eat seafood so I took Sam along as my guest.

Huge mistake.

Sam ate two and a half lobster tails.

Crab legs were flying.

The ocean called because it was running out of shrimp.

We ate, and ate and ate.

They drank Coke after Coke.

Our waiter (who was a bit on the miserable side) showed up with the check without even asking about dessert.

"Take that check back, we're getting dessert," Jake said.

Four molten Oreo things with ice cream.

None of us could move.

The bill was cringe-worthy.

But inside I was smiling.

Because as Pops reminded me later that night:

Jeff would be screaming it from a mountain top:

"You're soooooo stuuuuuupppppiiiidddddd!"

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

White Hollywood

Chris Rock is going to go to town regarding the latest flap over the Oscar's being painted white.

A crazy story...

...an unnecessary one?

I guess that being a white American I never really pay much attention to how much attention one race is getting or not getting.

I did find it weird that the spokesperson against racism regarding the Academy Awards was Jada Pinkett Smith who's entirely family makes millions in Hollywood.

She made the announcement from a mansion.

Perhaps she was just pissed that her husband didn't get nominated for the top award, but really...

...are they really being oppressed?

I don't think that the Smith family is currently being held down by the man.

But then again...

...perhaps there is some bias.

I'm pretty naive when it comes to that sort of thing.

Chris Rock will set them straight.

And can you really claim racism on the part of the academy if the guy who is hosting is black?

It's all so confusing.

I don't watch the award shows anyway.

I think all the self-congratulating is a joke anyway.

I was actually on a stage getting a book award when it hit me:

"This is bullshit."

I didn't write books for awards.

But then again, I guess some people like to be honored.

Black people do too.

I'm sure that Will Smith was great in the Concussion movie.

Probably award-worthy.

But I don't buy into the conspiracy...

...but I am naive.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Digging Out

I sent a bunch of texts out to buddies on the East Coast who were hit with the snowstorm and I wasn't being mean.

I was paying them back.

Here in Buffalo we are usually the ones who are hearing it from those people who aren't seeing much snow.

"How's the weather?" I asked. "It's hot and dusty here."

And it was hot and dusty if you consider hot and dusty to be about 3 degrees with the wind chill, but we weren't getting any snow.

Which was fine with me.

I even watched the weather a couple of times.

Which begs the question:

Why does the weatherman or woman feel that it is necessary to give me a class on meteorology every time I want to know what's going on out there?

On Sunday morning the weather lady was actually going through definitions of the terms as if we were all going to take a freaking exam afterwards.

I don't need to see maps or Doppler Radar.

Just tell me!

Plain language!

"It's gonna' be miserable!"

Anywhoha...

Back to the East Coast storm.

What did they name it?

Why did they name it?

There were people having snowball fights.

Other people stuck at the airport.

Mountains of snow.

Floods.

Cars off the road.

One guy saying that he was tougher than mother nature, begging her to bring them more.

Dopey bastard.

Mother nature can kick your ass, dude.

They mentioned that the storm is being blamed for at least 20 deaths.

That's tough.

Back here in Buffalo we know one thing:

Stay home if you gotta'.

No shame in that.

We know that mother nature is tougher than us.

We also know how to dig the hell out quickly.

I hope they do so as well.

Monday, January 25, 2016

PTSD - It's An Obama Thing

Didn't you miss Sarah Palin?

I know I did.

She was back in the news this week for two things:

1). She's endorsing Donald Trump.

Isn't that lovely?

She ran with McCain who Trump bashed with his "I like my war heroes not captured" wisdom.

She shouted incoherent rants about how Donald was talking 'common sense'.

And he told us that he has always admired her.

A Trump-Palin Ticket is what this country needs to be great again, right?

And

2). Her son Track was recently in the news for pummeling his wife (allegedly) and Sarah did not deny this. She spoke about the elephant in the room explaining that Track's problems stemmed from his war stint (he was sent off to fight in the war where we didn't find the weapons of mass destruction) and when he got home his PTSD caused him to hit his wife.

Poor guy.

But Sarah didn't stop there.

She blamed Obama for Track's right hook.

Because he's the leader.

I told you she was missed!

That is obviously brilliant!!

Obama is certainly responsible in this scenario, right?

Actually, I was surprised that she didn't blame the people who are trying to steal Christmas!

Now I'm not quite sure what sort of role she will play as this election gets closer.

I do hope that Trump chooses her as his running mate.

Saturday Night Live will have a field day.

Sarah will enlighten all of us who can't seem to put two and two together and come up with eleven.

And Track?

He sounds like a senator or an Alaskan mayor to me.

He can run with his sister and her 9 kids or how ever many she's up to now.

The Palin's belong in the White House with Donald.

It'll be something really special.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Just Walking Around

Life is a bitch.

Returned from the Vegas/Arizona speaking gigs feeling pretty good.

Had last weekend to rest a little more.

Late Sunday night I mentioned to my beautiful wife that my ankle was suddenly sore.

Woke up Monday morning and couldn't put my foot on the floor.

Ever since the hip surgery I have ligaments that like to swell up on their own.

Don't ask.

I wrapped the ankle as tight as I could and stumbled down and got my work boots. The dogs watched in deep concern as I loosened the boot as much as I could and then stuffed my foot into it.

I cried a little when my foot hit the bottom.

Then I laced the shoe up.

At 6:30 on Monday morning, sitting on the steps I was hit with a deep thought:

I can't work if I can't walk.

But my foot was now in the boot.

I stood up slowly.

The dogs were encouraged.

I remembered putting the boot on.

I wasn't about to take it off.

So I went to work.

7 job sites. 15 clients.

I stumbled back in the house at around 3:30 and headed to the computer to write the reports.

Kathy had secured the anti-inflammatory drug that I needed.

"How bad was it?"

"The first two sites were horrendous. I almost passed out. The middle four were okay and the last one was rough."

"Idiot," was all she said.

The rest of the week was nearly as rough...a bit of improvement each day until I was actually without pain on Friday.

"How'd the week go?" Someone asked me on Saturday morning.

"Good," I responded.

I was just out walking around.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

A Woman Football Coach

By all accounts Kathryn Smith deserves to be a new football coach at a professional level.

In case you didn't get it, Kathryn is a woman's name.

I actually yawned when I saw the news.

We have women running for president.

Women are commonplace in the work force.

Women have been voting for years.

Is it really that big of a story?

I believe there are women refs, women in locker rooms, even a woman NBA coach.

If she is able to do the job...do the job.

Of course, I went to social media to gauge the reaction.

The very first comment I saw?

The very first one!

Said this:

Well, at least she can make sandwiches for every one.

The guy who posted it took a major league beating from a whole bunch of women.

And even a couple of the progressive-type men.

Of course that was the exact reaction that he was looking for.

(No...it wasn't me!)

Yet we often kick around the idea of women in the workplace here.

"I'd much rather have a man boss than a woman boss," my beautiful wife has often said.

On construction sites women often have a rough go of it.

One ironworker fore(wo)man that I knew started the work on the first day by lifting up her shirt to show off her boobs.

"There," she said. "Now that we have that out of the way we can get some work done."

I've worked with women in the safety field.

While they have had to put up with garbage from some of the men in the crews they have seriously held their own in a male-dominated industry.

But I guess I don't much envy Kathryn Smith.

She's gonna' take some heat from some stupid people.

For no good reason.

Hey.

Who knows.

Maybe she can help lead the Bills to the playoffs for the first time in 16 years.

(I actually wish that she was the head coach).

If she does her job...

...yeah...

...some dopes will still make fun of her.

Dumb.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Rock Stars Dying

I guess that it is inevitable.

Clarence Clemens died.

George Harrison died.

John Lennon and Elvis...

...And now David Bowie is dead and so is Glenn Frey of the Eagles.

Everyone but Keith Richards it seems.

Or Pete Townsend who wrote:

"I hope I die before I get old."

He probably doesn't hope that anymore.

It's pretty sad, actually.

I mentioned that I liked Bowie.

I admit that I like the Eagles too.

In fact, back in the late 70's the Eagles were a pretty cool band to be into.

It's weird.

Most of those guys had the big hair, the reputation for intoxication and they made all that money!

And both Bowie and Frey died young...

...cancer and pneumonia!

Not all that glamorous.

All that money didn't save them.

After Bowie's death was announced I listened to a few of his songs that I have on my i-pod...

...it seemed different somehow.

But think of having that much of a legacy.

Their songs will be played for years and years.

John Lennon has been dead for...what...35 years?

His voice still sounds young.

He's still a rock star.

"You're gonna' be a mess if Bruce goes," Sam said.

"Don't even say it!"

"He's like 80 now, isn't he?" Jake chided.

I left the room.

Rock stars shouldn't die.

Because there aren't any good music makers coming up behind them.

No worries though...

...Bruce played for over three and a half hours on the opening night of his most recent tour.

Yet recently Bruce was asked about why he was putting out new music at a faster clip:

"I see the light of the approaching train," he said.

Bowie saw it too.

And released a record two days before he moved on.

As all rock stars should do.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Time Passes Quickly

I've spent the entire week thinking back to last week...

...a lot of "I can't believe I was eating pasta in Scottsdale" and an entire week had already passed.

Ran into a guy on the road who was also talking about the fact that he had just turned 50 years old:

"I still feel like I'm in my 20's," he said.

Yeah...the days, weeks, months and years just fly by.

And I have a pretty good memory for things but if someone says 2004 to me...

...I'm not quite sure exactly what was going on.

That was more than 11 years ago!

I actually recall...in about 1976...thinking:

"Man! I'm gonna' be 36 in the year 2000!"

And now I have a rough time recalling what it felt like to be 36 years old.

Whoosh...

...right on by you.

It's actually a good thing we kinda' get to live it again through the kids.

On Monday night we ate dinner.

Two hours later the boys were talking about getting subs.

"You want anything?" they asked.

"No! You just ate!" I said.

And I thought about the metabolism of the young dopes standing before me.

As a matter of fact as I was writing the blog my niece Nicole stopped by and we visited for a few minutes.

She's a beautiful young lady...

...it seems like she was born ten minutes ago!

And we hold onto moments, if we're lucky to catch them as they're flying by.

In the end...

...al we ever really want is a few more minutes.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

New Year's Resolutions

So we got to kicking around what we aspired to be in 2016.

My beautiful wife promised to answer her phone.

That might sound weird to all of us who hold our phone in our hands and text, talk and email. Kathy never cared for such immediacy.

Even when her calls come through she usually winds up hanging up on me, by accident.

"Sam is going to keep his room clean," Kathy said.

Sam looked at me and shrugged.

"Your resolution is to give better answers when I ask you a question," she said to me.

"No it's not," I said.

But I must say that the new year has inspired me to try and make a couple of changes.

It is true...I can be a little impatient when I'm thrown off the course I've set for myself on any given day.

I would try not to get aggravated so easily.

I made it until about 9 a.m. on Monday.

But then I tried to talk my way through it.

I argued with the voice in my head.

I actually won the argument!

2016 is going to be spectacular!

But truthfully, it had better warm up quickly or the New Years resolution won't last long.

People go through it every year:

Lose weight.

Eat better.

Exercise more.

Argue less.

Be more organized.

We're gonna' make it all the way to February!

Now if I could just get Kathy to answer the phone.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

NFL Predictions Revisited

My boys were quick to bring it up.

We were watching the New England Patriots - mind you - a team that they hate and a team that I like to aggravate them with by rooting for the Hoodie and Tom.

"Let's go over your predictions from September," Sam said.

I knew it would be bad.

I picked a Super Bowl of Dallas over Miami.

Neither even qualified for the playoffs.

"What happened, oh wise one?" Jake asked. "You didn't even get the Bills record right."

"I gave them an extra win," I said. "My fault. Next year they'll be 6 and 10 if you follow their history."

On the field Brady was taking the Pats up and down the field.

I tried a pretend scenario:

"You can have Brady for a year and a guaranteed Super Bowl appearance, but you have to root for him and wear his jersey all year," I said.

"Won't do it!" Sam said quickly.

"No way," Jake added.

"You're both lying! You'd be all in!"

Sam thought about it for a little while.

"I might root for him, but I won't ever like him." Sam said.

They started to slide a little.

"Think of it...a parade down Delaware Avenue and it's all because you decide to root for Brady."

"Can't you go back out west?" Jake asked.

"Yeah. I'm about done missing you," Sam reminded.

I decided to aggravate people on Facebook instead by posting a photo of Belichick.

Some of my friends began berating me as well.

Ahh....

...it's good to be home.


"Dallas over Miami! What a genius!!" Jake said.

Touche.

Monday, January 18, 2016

MLK Day

It was a volatile year wasn't it?

I'm talking about racial issues, of course, and while I once thought that we were reaching a civil understanding of one another...

...and while I was amazed back when Obama was elected president...

...I now think the racial divide is worse than ever.

We heard this year that Black Lives Matter.

Cops killing black men.

Riots.

A ton of unrest.

Black leaders speaking out.

White leaders trying to explain.

And all of it beyond comprehension.

Are we still stuck there?

I think of it, in the context of MLK Day.

He fought for equal rights.

He was gunned down.

We all know the story of his dream.

It appears that his dream isn't close to coming true.

I know that on Monday I will hear someone say:

"Shoot four more and we could've taken the week off."

Someone will say that.

Sadly.

And I guess that I'll never, as a white man, know exactly how chilling something like that can be for a man trying to make his way in his home country.

Perhaps I will never see peace in that regard, but we were in the Vegas airport last week and I urged my wife to look around.

Whites, blacks, Asians, gays, Muslims, Hispanics...

...all of us just moving through the line.

Smiling.

I know that I wasn't expecting it all to go south because the people around me didn't look just like me.

In fact, I enjoyed seeing such diversity.

It's my favorite part of traveling, actually.

I personally think that America remains great and I honestly believe that diversity is what makes us that way.

Maybe I'm just dreaming too.

But enjoy MLK Day.

It is an important day to consider what you may or may not feel about people that you don't know, but fear anyway.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

What Did I Miss?

Being out of routine is weird for me, but one of the good things about it was that I missed a lot of the news.

Like the State of the Union...

...I hate that speech anyway.

From the applause, to the mocking of whatever party doesn't have the speaker at the podium, to the horrible rebuttal afterwards.

But it's weird to think that the next state of the union will be done by a different president.

8 years will have gone by quickly.

I also missed commenting on a lot of the Powerball stuff.

Weird dynamic there, right?

We kicked around what might happen if we won all that money.

An obscene amount.

Don't you think there's a chance when you plunk down your two bucks for the ticket?

I bought tickets in New York and Arizona.

I checked them, knowing that getting even a single number would be a chore.

It was.

Imagine if we all plunked down two bucks to say, get rid of poverty.

A novel idea.

We wouldn't raise a million bucks with a contest like that.

But alas, the prize is being claimed.

Just not by us.

I, not surprisingly, did a lot of reading on the trip...just two books though...nothing obscene...but one of those was by true crime author M.William Phelps, who I met at an awards ceremony a few years back.

Phelps does a lot of research on horrific murders all across this great nation. We had a couple of beers back then and talked about some of the people he'd met.

"Pure evil," he told me. "Some people are just absolute monsters."

I wondered if getting into the minds of such people had any influence on how Phelps lives his life. I found that he was a family man...and met his wife...and a spiritual guy. We talked about God, about writing, and about those monsters.

It's weird reading the books that Phelps puts out each year and I've even seen him interviewed on the True Detectives series.

"I'll never be out of a job," he told me.

And think about that. Since Cain slew Abel...people have been killing one another and he's right...no matter what...it will continue to happen.

Did the Donald do anything while I was gone?

I've lost interest.

I know that there is some question about Ted Cruz being a Cuban Canadian and not an American but that makes me not want to watch any of it.

Will Donald as president eventually lose steam?

I can't see it ever working.

It might be funny, but it's kind of a serious job, right?

Ah well.

Had I won the Powerball none of it would've mattered.

I might have even plunked Pops out of obscurity and we could've formed our own ticket.

We would've won too!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Daddy's Home!

During the 6 days away Sam sent me a photo of Melky laying on the couch, her eyes open, staring straight ahead.

"She's so depressed!" Sam noted.

It made me feel so guilty!

My poor Melky!

And my beautiful wife just laughed at me...

..."You and those stupid dogs!"

But as the heels touched down in Buffalo I had one simple thought:

Melky and Paris are going to be so happy.

And they were.

Melody's first impulse upon seeing me as I return home is to grab something out of the dog playpen and run away from me. She will then frantically chew on it as I talk to her.

She was really fired up.

The thing about it is that it's all pretty simple to dogs.

They just want to show and to feel love.

That's it!

(Oh and eat...they like to eat).

But I believe that a lot of life can be summed up in just watching dogs fill their fundamental needs.

My dogs are on a routine.

They know the deal.

Up, out, eat, ride, boney, back to bed.

They like that routine.

They weren't fans of the days when we were gone.

I could easily see how my being gone would upset Melky.

"Five rides!" I told them as we got reacquainted on Friday.

Sam kept taunting them with the cries that:

"Daddy's home!"

Pup-a-roni's all around!

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Trip Out West - Final Day

The trip was going to culminate in another long presentation at an insurance captive event.

I have a unique job at this event because I spoke there last year and made everyone laugh.

They asked me to do it again and put me in the coveted last speech of the day spot.

I was actually introduced as a stand-up comedian.

Which was great.

I had honed the material for the better part of two months, going over the punchlines in my head.

All new stuff.

And it absolutely killed!

"I almost pissed myself," a guy from Wyoming said.

Another guy said that his ribs hurt from laughing.

Perfect!

And the best part of all of it was that Kathy was in attendance and got a chance to see the act...

...Why not?...she's prominently featured in it and her fire story brought the house down.

By the end of the night I had been asked if I was interested in speaking in at least four new spots...

...Perhaps!

It's tough to work into the schedule, but this trip was much needed after a tough fall and early winter.

And the laughs are always welcome.

Following the event we all headed to a bowling alley.

A jovial night for a whole bunch of people who work hard during the year.

And there were offers to head out to other Vegas night spots.

"What do you want to do?" I asked Kathy.

"They have a theatre here, we can go to a movie."

It sounded all right to me.

Just relax.

The hell with the gambling, drinking, carousing.

Except once Kathy went to the room to retrieve her phone, she had a different idea.

"Why don't we just rent a movie in the room?"

I laughed.

Big Vegas adventure.

The best part?

She fell asleep and missed the end of the movie.

Maybe we're a little old for this!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Trip Out West-Part 4- The Hoover Dam

Dam!

What an absolutely amazing site the Hoover Dam is.

We had a great drive from Tempe to Vegas, filled with gorgeous glances in most every direction, but nothing set us up for the Hoover Dam experience.

"We should stop, right?" Kathy asked.

"Of course!"

We didn't know quite what to do but we paid to pull into a lot and then we just walked down to where we saw other people walking.

(I will post some photos later - posting on small devices is beyond me) but the first photo I saw was of the mascot, dog, who lost his life during the building of the dam.

I read about the dog and then began scanning the area...and that's when I got the full wallop. The project started in 1931 and finished up two years ahead of schedule in 1936.

Amazing.

When you look at it...you're just blown away by that simple fact.

And I thought of the men and the hours and the danger and the sweat, blood and tears that went into doing something that would benefit this country forever.

Immigrants and "regular" Americans working side-by-side.

Could that even be accomplished today?

Make America Great Again?

Hard work and togetherness...

...the flag flying high.

It was crazy to just stand there.

And feel so insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

If you haven't been there...

...go!

Maybe what we need to be great again is to all get in our cars and appreciate what made us great.

Togetherness...

...not bitterness.

Acceptance...

...not hate.

Working as one in government...

...instead of mocking the guy who is talking.

The Hoover Dam!

Dam!!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Getting Ready for the Show -Trip to the West -Part 3

The venue was just two minutes from my hotel so I warmed up for my speech by watching Judge Judy for a few minutes, and I kept thinking about how weird it was.

A whole gathering waiting for me to show up to speak.

"You coming?" I asked my beautiful wife.

"I've had just about enough of you," she responded. "Go aggravate someone else for awhile."

We both laughed.

And it was weirder still when I got to the place.

The first people I met were already making requests.

"Please say you're going to give us the ladder story," the host said.

"That's Born to Run," I said. "I gotta' play that one."

And there were others that had seen me speak before.

And they introduced me as 'funny as hell.'

So.

A little pressure?

Nah!

All in a day's work! I was only worried about talking too long. There are plenty of stories.

The stage was an actual stage.

I would be able to prance around.

Microphone and all.

The crowd was ready.

I made them laugh about three seconds in...and went from there.

We had a ton of laughs.

One story after another and dead quiet when I was sending the message home.

The ladder story getting the huge laugh.

Leaving the stage was weird again.

People are a little unsure of walking up to you.

Would I be just as nuts when I'm standing there?

Weird.

My speaking voice was raspy...first long speech of the winter.

We gathered outside in the sun and I drank a couple bottle of water. They had served Buffalo wings.

Strange!

An hour later I was back at the hotel.

Judge Judy had shifted to a cop show.

Kathy was ready to head for dinner.

"How'd it go?" she asked.

"Horrible," I said.

"Idiot," she replied.

We headed out for steak.

We ate at a place called City Hall.

The waiter cleared our crumbs away after each course with a little tool.

It was really uncomfortable.

The place was way too nice for us.

But the porterhouse was outstanding and I had a big bowl of sauteed spinach.

"There was a guy in the audience who asked if I'd speak to his company back here next year."

"You said 'yes', right?"

"Why not?"

I cut my steak.

"You wanna' just pick it up and gnaw on the bone, don't you?" Kathy asked.

"More than you'll ever realize," I said.

On to Vegas!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Tempe, Cha-changes, Steven Avery - Out West Part 2

The palm trees and the bright sun are awesome in January.

We were hearing about the winter weather being predicted for Buffalo...and I gotta' be honest...we were laughing a little.

We would miss a storm.

But we are what we know, right?

Life kinda' stays consistent wherever you are.

I spent the first part of the trip playing a little mind game with Kathy, reminding her that she is simply an invited guest on this trip and that what I say goes.

It's a game because we both think it's funny.

I haven't been in charge in quite some time.

But I am using the 'invited guest' line fairly liberally.

Before we left we started watching the Net Flix show, 'Making a Murderer.'

Unbeknownst to me Net Flix is still watchable in Arizona.

We decided to go with the series rather than going to a movie after dinner.

And while there may be a review coming for all of the mess that is the life of Steven Avery I must say that when the simple-minded run up against an agenda there's a good chance that some crushing will take place.

It's a strange, crazy story with a whole bunch of twists.

So...how do I transition to my bowl of pasta?

We have to eat Italian on Sunday's...that's the way it's always been and the way it always will be...but some Sunday's the choices are more inspired. I think of Grandma and Grandpa Fuzzy when I eat eggplant, roasted peppers, cheese and salami before I eat my pasta.

VinciTorio's in Tempe....

...but as my brother Jim so eloquently reminded:

"You'd eat a pile of shit if they put sauce on it."

But that wasn't true!

The pasta was great...and I always believe that I can eat a bushel of linguine. I finished every noodle and the waitress seemed a tad surprised.

"Yeah," Kathy said, "Isn't he something special?"

(She's an invited guest!)

A good night's rest...

...and then a shocker.

Awoke to the news that David Bowie had died.

Thought of 1983 and living in California and buying his record with Changes on it...and playing it for my brothers and sisters.

Seemed like 10 minutes ago.

He was just 36 years old when I picked up that record.

Life moves fast.

Bowie was a brilliant writer.

A tad weird for some people but he knew exactly what he was doing.

Painfully skinny.

Extremely talented.

I have a lot of Bowie on my i-pod. I absolutely love the song Where Are We Now? that he released just a couple of years ago.

RIP Ziggy.

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Trip Out West - Part 1

We almost missed the connecting flight.

The more lesiurely of the two of us lost their focus in the Chicago airport and arrived at the gate about 40 seconds before the doors closed.

The less leisurely of us about had a seizure.

But no harm, no foul.

In fact, there was a certain amount of decompression necessary on the part of the less leisurely one.

And that was the plan.

No big agenda.

What do you want to do replacing what do you need to do.

So we spent a lot of time thinking about where we wanted to eat and decided on Grimaldi's because:

It was close.

And we didn't need to dress up.

(Dressing up is difficult when you're wearing two different sneakers. I left in a rush and slid my feet into the place where my sneakers usually are. Unbeknownst to me one of the boys sneakers was close to one of mine. So I'm wearing one of Jake's shoes and one of my shoes).

Anywhoha...

The sun was out.

And I'm talking...it seemed really bright!

We found our room in Tempe and traveled the short ride to Scottsdale for dinner.

Early this morning we ran into a couple...

...about our age...

...who were in town for the Clemson-Alabama game.

We talked about their kids who are almost out of the house and our kids who may be ruining the house.

As we were parting they introduced themselves.

"John and Linda."

I laughed.

I even asked the woman if she spelled 'Lynda' with a 'Y' as it is supposed to be spelled.

There was a rainbow beyond his left shoulder.

"Isn't that weird?" I asked Kathy as they were walking away.

"They're going horseback riding today after they take a jeep tour through Sedona."

That sounded like a bit much to the not-so-leisurely guy.

"What do you want to do?" Kathy asked.

Mellencamp is in town - at the stadium - there is free entry.

We might go.

After we visit the shoe store.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Top 5 Recent Television Series!

I caught an episode of Sanford & Son the other day...

...it was amazing what they got away with. We all laughed. Now it would be considered politically incorrect.

Times change.

Well, we have been watching long series on Net Flix.

Here are my top favorite long-running series of recent times.

5). Dexter - Sam and Jake love this one and we are currently trying to get through season 7. I have seen a lot of Dexter lately.

I do like it.

Dexter, Deb and the rest of the cast are good.

My problem is that they run from one absolutely devastating life-changing event, sometimes three or four in a single episode...and no one seems to sleep or get tired, or even get too damaged emotionally.

Plus...he's a serial killer!

He kills everyone!!

Hard to love him with all that blood!

4). Homeland - it's no secret that I love Claire Danes. I could watch her recite the ABC's for an hour. The show was really great early on. The last season was good...after it developed...it took a little while to get there though and there was a lot of time when I was saying, "Who the hell is him?"

But it's always good.

3). House - A really smart show and Hugh Laurie was awesome. Great character. Great wit. A lot of life.

Loved it!

2). Breaking Bad - Amazing show. No one did drama better. Bryan Cranston is in my top five of actors of all-time.

Amazing show, bitch!

1). Soprano's - Still the greatest. Gandolfini was the best character of all-time, but everyone else was superb as well.

And I liked the ending!

Where did I go wrong here????

Saturday, January 9, 2016

One of Those Things

Kathy came home from work with a story.

That, in and of itself, is not news.

The other day, Jake needed Kathy to set him up with Apple News so this was the deal he made:

"I'll sit and listen to your stories and I'll participate! You can talk as long as you'd like and I'll give you feedback!"

I thought that the offer was funny, but Kathy had other ideas.

She took the deal!

So she began telling a story of a co-worker mentioning something about someone and Jake sat there, and actually did participate.

"Are we still talking about Wanda here?" he asked at one point.

I laughed.

"Now why would she say that?" he asked at another junction.

And Kathy kept talking. Right through his pointed questions and my laughter.

But the other day, Kathy's first story stopped me in my tracks. She told me of a co-worker who lost her husband, suddenly.

At 31 years of age!

A heart problem caused him to collapse...

...and die.

"Oh God!"

The man was in good physical shape.

It was just one of those things.

A healthy man stricken.

A family left to pick up the pieces.

Hundreds, thousands of people, left wondering...

...Why?

Kathy showed me a photo of the couple.

She wondered about how fragile life is.

I wondered with her.

You're going about your day...

...and in a second.

One simple, twisted, earth-shattering second.

Everything changes forever.

"That poor family," was all I could coax out.

The story cast a shadow over all we did all week long.

The long hours.

The work.

The overall plan to do this or that...

...soon.

Soon doesn't always get here.

The moment we're in is all that we are promised.

You hear it all the time.

Show your love.

Feel everything.

Because one of those things...

...happens.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Ride or Die

Did you see the story about the Mom who put tats on her two young children?

She wrote 'Ride or Die' on the hand of one of the kids who was just 12-years old.

A permanent tattoo!

Are you kidding me?

What was funny were the comments following the story.

"That's her kid! She can do what she wants!!"

Really?

Listen, being a parent isn't easy.

It's about love, worry, fear, worry, love, concern, worry, love and being scared out of your mind.

I must confess that I have become a little like my beautiful wife and my adoring mother-in-law more and more as time moves forward.

"What's Matt doing tonight?"

"Why does Jake have to go out when it's snowing?"

"What time will the boys be home?"

"I heard a car in the driveway."


Kathy has actually mellowed a bit while I am now trapped in the...

"Are they safe?"

...Mode.

I can't imagine putting a tat on the hand of my child.

Seems a tad crazy.

My mind always goes back to the 8-year-old that I knew back in Connecticut. His father used him as a punching bag, cursed him at every turn, called the kid stupid...

...'cause he's his kid?

I don't get it.

Remember the moment when you laid eyes on your child for the first time?

Can you recall when they played with King Kong toys, everything so alive for them, so curious, so loving, so happy?

And you beat that out of them?

Or give them a tattoo that says 'Ride or Die' and someone claims that it's your right to do what you want with them?

It blows my mind.

I've had conversations with people who certainly believe that it's not only right to hit your kids, it's also necessary!

"It teaches discipline!" They'll say.

Actually, it teaches fear.

It gives them that as a problem-solving technique.

Not good.

I was cleaning out an old storage room the other day.

I found a homework assignment that Jake had done in what had to be about the first-grade.

He was writing about a fight between a bull shark and a great white.

The writing was so simple and so beautiful.

Black and white.

The great white, his favorite, taking charge.

I longed for that Jake back for a moment, but knew that I hadn't missed any of it and that Jake had felt secure to become the man he will become.

Free of beatings, free of permanent tattoo's, free of fear and resentment.

Why didn't that Mom give those permanent attributes to her kids instead?

Thursday, January 7, 2016

D.B. of the Week (Again) Johnny Manziel


What is wrong with this guy?

He went through rehab during the summer for alcohol.

He got busted when someone he was with posted a photo of him drinking.

The Browns had to play him because all their other quarterbacks got hurt.

He apologized for being a D.B. and talked about how much he wanted to be a great professional player.

Evidently he got a concussion a week ago and had to sit down.

Well, lo and behold, another photo of him surfaced at another drinking party in Vegas.

This is where the D.B. of the Week was clinched:

He immediately posted a photo of him with his dog (that poor dog) and put a Cleveland, Ohio stamp on it so that his employers might still think he was in Cleveland.

Then he didn't show up for work on Sunday.

I know some people who really hate this kid.

No matter what happens he acts more immature each and every week.

What the hell is going on?

He makes millions for throwing a ball and evidently he can't do it without going out and embarrassing the Browns organization more than how they play embarrasses them.

Now there are reports out there saying that he isn't happy and that he'd rather play for the Cowboys.

Cut him!

Nobody else pick him up!!

He deserves to get a real job.

Where he will be fired for not following rules.

Not coddled at every turn.

D.B. of the Week?

He's been a D.B. for at least three years running.

Unreal.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Money Changes Everything

Have you been following the 'affluenza' story?

The "affluenza" kid - Ethan Couch - who was cleared of responsibility in a fatal car wreck because his life of wealth left him unable to discern between right and wrong - was spotted in Mexico last week.

His mother was taken into custody.

Let's catch up on the story and see if there is anyway we can see it from Ethan's P.O.V.

(After all, a judge did!)

Back in 2013 Ethan was underage and drunk and speeding near Fort Worth Texas. He crashed the car, killing four people.

Using the 'affluenza' defense...he was sentenced to probation!!!

People went wild protesting such a sentence.

Yet Ethan could not stand the rigors of his probation.

There was a photo of him at a party where people were drinking...

...a direct violation of his probation.

So Ethan and his loving mother, Tonya, took off for Mexico where they hid out until they made a call for a pizza and were discovered.

Mom was deported back to the U.S. while Ethan has filed appeals that may make his being sent back difficult.

What a feel good story, huh?

The mother is fighting...saying it's all unfair.

Ethan doesn't feel that he did anything wrong.

It wasn't his fault...

...he simply didn't know the difference between right and wrong.

Poor guy.

A close friend of mine sent me a text the other day:

"These stories are driving me crazy!" she said. "There is so much garbage out there!!"

"Don't read them," I answered back.

But it isn't quite that easy, is it.

Affluenza!

Dear God!

Karma doesn't get these people, Pops!

Ethan and Tonya won't ever go to jail.

Money Changes Everything.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Lawless Times - Mellencamp Does One

Wasn't real informed on the Oregon mess...a buddy filled me in...and I immediately thought of Mellencamp opening his show with this song.

My, My, My.



"Lawless Times" - John Mellencamp

Well, you can’t trust your neighbor
Husband or wife

Can’t trust the police
With their guns or their knifes

Look out for the creepers
Tappin’ on your cell phone

You’d better lock your door
Even when you’re at home

My, my, my
These are lawless times

My, my, my
These are lawless times

You can’t trust the banks
The way that you used to do

I hope that Wall Street
Has been good to you

You can’t trust the priest
You’d better watch your behind

Don’t look too close at the government
Hard tellin’ what you’ll find

My, my, my
These are lawless times

My, my, my
These are lawless times

Well, I don’t trust myself
I don’t trust you

Don’t get too sick
It’ll be the end of you

Don’t expect a helping hand
if you fall down

And if you want to steal this song
It can be easily loaded down

My, my, my
These are lawless times

My, my, my
These are lawless times

So you might ask yourself
Hey, what can I do?

I can’t trust the future
What’s been promised to you

Learn the rules hard and fast
Take care of yourself

And keep your eyes open
On everybody else

My, my, my
These are lawless times

My, my, my
These are lawless times

My, my, my
These are lawless times

My, my, my
These are lawless times

Monday, January 4, 2016

Next Year...Super Bowl!

I got ready to drop a couple of dopes off at the Bills Stadium so that they could sit in the freezing cold and root, root, root for the Bills to win their final game...

...although it meant absolutely nothing at all.

Unless you're a true fan!!!

"They're gonna' knock the Jets from the playoffs!" Matt said.

"Dopey bastard," I replied.

"It's 70 degrees in the house and the couch is nice and soft," I said.

"You aren't a true fan!" He said.

"Uh, duh," I answered.

"Super Bowl win next year!" Matt sang out.

"All indications are," I replied.

But there they were, putting on their hats, dressing in layers, grabbing the beer that would freeze in their hands.

"What do you think of Rex Ryan?" I asked.

"He's great," Matt said.

"Mario Williams?"

"Great player. Gave all he had."

Matt knew by now not to concede an inch.

"If Belichick was coaching them how many games do you think they would have won this year?"

"Less," he answered. "Rex is the GOAT."

"What went wrong?" I asked...

...I was just looking for the slimmest of cracks to get in and laugh at him.

"Nothing. Great building year. Super Bowl next year. Guaranteed."

I laughed.

"You have to drive us," Matt said.

"I'll take Bobbie. You can run beside the car because you're an idiot."

"I BILLieve too," Bobbie said.

"Get in, you idiots," I said.

"Just make sure our dinner is ready when we get home," Matt said.

I drove down Abbott Road and eyed a grown man sitting on the cold ground, next to a tiny grill, turning over a Ball Park Frank while holding a beer. He was dressed as if he were participating in the Iditarod.

For a 7 win team.

Hearty.

Matt and Bobbie jumped from the car.

"Don't forget to make my dinner," he said.

"LET'S GO BUFFALO!" He cried out.

Dopey bastards.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Melky Hates Snow

My beautiful wife and kids know by now that whenever I say:

"Melky hates _____"

That I'm usually projecting.

Well, Melky hates snow.

The New Year's morning storm that brought snow in sheets along with thunder and lightning also brought Melky into the house quickly.

Meanwhile, Paris was running through the snow, dipping her nose, loving every minute of it.

A lot of people really enjoy snow.

I hear from one buddy who lives in the Philly area (Hi Gag)... he always wants to know how bad we're getting hit.

"Damn, wish I was there."

He's a little like Paris.

Weird.

And the reasons why I hate snow so much?

1). I don't like being cold.

And people say, 'Dress warmer.'

Thanks, genius.

Never thought of that.

Well, I still feel the cold.

I spend 10 hours out in it.

My feet get wet.

It sucks.

2). I hate driving in it.

I'm a cautious man.

Always have been.

When my slightly lunatic brothers used to fly through the fields on their snowmobiles, I'd be puttering along slowly, searching for ponds, writing the story in my head where the writer with all the potential drowns.

I can't see as well in the dark as I used to.

I get a little Grandma Schryver-ish in the snow. Grandma (RIP) used to white knuckle the door handle and shout instructions to Grandpa whenever a car got close...and that was in the good weather!

So, if you see me going 40 in the slow lane with my flashers going and you think I'm a wimp...

...you're right.

3). I don't care to shovel.

Exerting myself to clear something that continues to fall from the sky drives me crazy.

And I watch the guy next door getting his driveway clean. The old bastard is cutting edges and whistling.

If you like it so much why don't you come across the street and do a brother a solid?

My kids are right there with me on this one.

"Go out and shovel a little," I say.

"You," they answer.

So we just drive right through it to get out...until we can't.

4). You can't really golf in it.

There's a moment each year when I stand at the tee, look around, feel the warmth on my face, take a deep breath and a practice swing and think:

Perfect.

A moment of true peace.

Everything feels right.

You can't do that when you're wondering if your big toe is gonna' fall off in the freezing cold.

Melky hates snow.

Paris and Gag love snow.

We all know that Melky is a genius.

Snow sucks.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Begin Again

I think that there are plenty of people out there who have to start things over every now and again.

Following a divorce, or a loss, or a busted up relationship.

Losing a job or a car, or dog, or home.

The best part of life is that there's always still hope.

In the spot where everything is free.

Inside your heart and mind.

The first few days of January always make me think about the starting over part of things, and it's silly, actually.

The mindset goes like this:

"I'm gonna' lose weight, or be careful with money."

"I'm gonna' appreciate what I have instead of missing what I don't have."

"I'm gonna' drink less, smoke less, exercise more."


The hope.

The belief that we can do better.

Hemmingway said:

"True nobility isn't about being better than your fellow man. It's about being better than your former self."

And I like that.

We should always strive to do more, be better, laugh more, feel hate less.

Yeah.

All noble thoughts.

The road can get real tough to navigate when we keep looking back, stop moving, or take detours.

So, straight ahead, I suppose.

And I wonder about all the people who are posting the self-affirming thoughts this week.

I hope they can sustain.

Because sometimes we need to begin again.

And there's no reason why we can't.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year!

I certainly used to be a lot more reflective about the years gone by than I am now.

I used to compile lists of things I had planned to do as the new year approached.

Setting goals is important.

Working towards them is important as well.

But I spent a lot of years doing just that and it helped me live my life, but there was a bit of a tipping point a while back when my brother Jeff said to me:

Why don't you enjoy your life instead of trying to understand it?

Sad to say, but I will always try and figure it out on an emotional level, but as you grow older, you learn that sometimes things can't be understood.

2015 was a year of physical pain.

I can't tell you how many times I put my work boots on thinking:

I shouldn't be going in.

But I kept going in...70 percent of life is about showing up.

I kept showing up.

I do want to take my vacation days in 2016...but its been a lot of years since I've done that!

Maybe I'm waiting for the Bills to make the playoffs before I actually pull it off!

2015 was a year of laughter.

My boys are pretty funny.

They make me laugh a few times a day.

I love the fact that the three of them can get together in a room and laugh hard at each other and what they're watching and at my beautiful wife and me.

A lot of laughter.

2015 was unsteady.

Terror attacks.

Shootings.

Racial unrest.

It seemed like every news story was laced with vitriol.

Just nasty stuff.

So I stopped paying so much attention to that.

2015 was not a World Series Year for the 27-time World Champion Greatest Franchise in the History of Organized American Sports

The Yankees made the playoffs and were actually fun to watch all year long, but there is a price to pay for success and they are paying some of that price as they try and get younger.

I watched about 150 of the 163 games though...so that's good.

2015 was a Reading Year

I did set a goal of 100 books in 2015.

I quit counting at the end of February when I was at 27.

(It snowed a lot in February)

I know that I may have doubled my goal.

My bookcase is falling apart under the weight.

2016 might be about figuring out what to do with all the books I have!

2015 Was About Music

I saw Mellencamp and the Stones.

Both great shows.

Bruce released some "new" old stuff and is contemplating a new solo record following this tour with the E Street Band.

2016 is promising!

2015 Was About Travel

I was in about 15 states this year.

A loose meat sandwich in Iowa.

Made speeches in Vegas, Pennsylvania and a few other places.

More of my bullshit soon on display in a city near you!

I continued to write.

New book is close.

I promise!

So, to recap!

I hung with family and friends, golfed a little, worked a lot and hung with my dogs.

That's why I don't set many more goals.

Enjoying.

Not Really Understanding.

Happy New Year!

"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...