Monday, February 29, 2016

Poor Charles


Losing a bet is one thing.

Losing a bet to a guy who never stops talking trash is just plain miserable.

Poor Chuck.

On his 51st birthday, no less, he invited us to dinner to pay off the season-long NFL bet.

From what I gather Chuck led all season long, only to be overtaken late...

...and there was a price to pay.

We gathered at the Dinosaur BBQ in downtown Buffalo to even things up.

Chuck, Corinne, Me and Sam...

...but there was an added delight:


Jake came along as well.

Now you might remember that Jake took me to the woodshed this year at Red Lobster.

He wanted in on this free meal because...

...my boys love their aunts and uncles.

Corinne and Chuck really make them laugh.

So we ordered.

I went with the brisket, ribs and spicy shrimp.

We also had a platter of fried green tomatoes, some wings, and assorted other BBQ items.

Every bite of food was great.

Sam chided (Hi Kim) Chuck at every turn.

We laughed, ate and when the bill came, Chuck made the face that's shown in the above photo.

The tally now stands at Sam 3 Chuck 1.

We've had a blast all 4 times!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Dishrag

Back in college there were days when we didn't feel like doing much because we were worn out, completely, from the night before.

"I'm like a dishrag," would be the rallying cry.

Inevitably someone would try their best to get us upright by telling us that feeling better was just a beer away.

"You'll be all right!"

When I woke on Saturday morning...

...my back was hammering at me and my legs were just plain numb.


"I feel like a dishrag," I told Melky.

And the sad part is that I don't drink anymore! I had just slept a long while and was more tired than when I went to bed.

A beer won't make me feel better either.

I thought about the six days gone by.

Four nearly all-day speaking engagements, a nagging cold, about thirty construction site visits, spinal decompression, hundreds of miles in the car, 'what's for dinner?', troubled sleep, massage, 'I can't feel my legs!', Bruce concert, endless cell phone calls, hot tub, rides in the car with the dogs, emails, 'My back is killing me!',texts and more troubled sleep.

Dishrag!

And finally Saturday!

Rest! Bio-freeze! Nap?

For the very first time...

...on Saturday...

...a crazy thought entered my brain...

JUST STAY DOWN!

That lasted about thirty seconds.

"Come on, Melk," I said. "We got work to do."

I thought back to the Bruce concert.

I had wanted to hear The Price You Pay.

In particular...my favorite lyric from that song:

...A stranger passes to put up a sign...to count the men who've fallen away...with the price you pay.

The music fades as Bruce lets that thought sink in.

Men falling away...

And then he punches you in the gut with it:

Well, girl, before the end of the day...I'm going to tear it down and blow it away!

Dishrag?

Stay down?

I don't think so.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Sell Your Principles

Chris Christie endorsed Donald Trump for president yesterday.

You know Christie... he's the rotund governor of New Jersey.

The guy who explained to the world that Trump was unfit to hold the highest office in the land.

Christie claimed that Trump was lying when he said that Muslims were celebrating in New Jersey following the attacks on 9/11.

Christie also defended Muslim-Americans when Trump talked deportation.

I remember thinking that perhaps Christie had some real principles.

I should've known better.

Now I understand that Christie is a member of the Republican party.

Trump, unbelievably looks like the winning candidate.

Does Christie want to be on the ticket?

Is that what it takes to abandon your principles?

I also understand that all politicians are frauds of epic proportions... some more so than others... but don't most people stay true to themselves?

I have a whole bunch of thoughts on a number of subjects.

Ask anyone who knows me.

I never shut up... on nearly every subject.

But here's the thing:

If I think something through and decide on a conviction I'm going to stick with it.

No matter what.

It takes a lot of convincing to get me to break down and admit that I'm dead wrong.

It would take an act of God to get me to join forces with someone who stood for something that was 180 degrees away from what I had been thinking.

It just disappoints me that some people really don't stand for anything.

You have to stand for something or you'll fall for anything.

Christie is fond of saying that he's the world's biggest Springsteen fan.

Well that appears to be a physical status only...

...he knows absolutely nothing about some of the principles that Bruce writes about.

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Greatest Entertainer Ever

My ears are ringing.

My back and legs are sore.

34 songs.

The River played to perfection.


Independence Day was explained.

A son and his dad having a conversation.

A son finally seeing, for the first time, the sacrifices that his father made for him that took away some of the life that the Dad had lived.

(Amazing thought - simply amazing - A son telling his Dad that he appreciates the compromises that were made).

I saw it from my Dad's point of view and from the point of view of my boys.

When Bruce sang the last line:

"I never meant to take those things away."

It really, really, really hit me hard.

That was the first half hour into the show!

But then...there was the rock and roll.

One song after another.

No one sitting down.

The crowd singing most of the songs right along with Bruce and Steven.

Just incredible.


And I texted my family...who shares the love and Pops and the Cataldo family and all the people I know who have shared the passion.

"He's getting better."

32 years of going to shows and I've seen 33 of them.

That one was certainly way up on the list.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Bruce Is In Town!!!!

I know that the first song is going to be the great River outtake:

Meet Me In The City...

...I've never seen that one performed live so SCORE!

Right off the bat!!

And then Bruce and the Band are going to play the entire River record.

It's a great record.

I've seen them perform all the huge hits off of that record like the title song, Hungry Heart, Ramrod, The Ties that Bind, Two Hearts and even Drive All Night.

It's the other ones that are going to really get my full attention.

(I may be at full attention for the ones I've already heard).

But I'm thinking Jackson Cage and The Price You Pay.

I love those songs.

This will be the 33rd time that I've seen Springsteen play live.

There's nothing like the first time and I will remember that night back in 1984 until they put me in the grave...

...but I've witnessed a whole bunch of great shows.

In fact...

...the first 32 were the best.

Fenway Park.

Washington D.C.

Mountain View, California

Solo at Shea's

With the Seger Sessions Band...

All great shows.

One of my favorite shows was here in Buffalo.

We had seats behind the stage.

Those aren't great seats, but we were able to see a whole bunch of things...

...like the fact that Bruce was dog-sick.

He was actually trying to get hydrated between songs...coughing, hacking...

And when the show was over we ran into the people who saw it from the front.

"He looked great!" My sister said.

"He was sick as a dog," I said.

"Never noticed it."

He had played over three hours that night.

It'll be the same way tonight!

Meet Me In the City!

We'll be there!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Rigas Situation

John Rigas and his two sons were the toast of Buffalo about 15 years ago...

...they saved the Sabres and they made a bid to do a whole bunch of work downtown.

Then the bottom fell out.

Like a whole bunch of other rich big shots they were caught with their hands in the cookie jar.

It was alleged that they were using the hard-earned money of their very employees to supplement their rich boy ways.

They were convicted of it.

Two out of three of them went to prison.

Including John Rigas...

...who just received a compassionate release as he is 91 years old and in failing health.

I'm not sure how I feel about that.

You see, the thing that aggravates me more than anything else in this world are the really rich guys who do everything they can not to pay their fair share.

Minimum wage is held down.

Retirement, health care, time off of work have all been denied.

Millions of people aren't making a living wage!!!

And yet...

...the very top takes all they can and tell themselves that their time is way more valuable and that they earned the tax loopholes, the extravagant salaries and the healthy bonuses.

(Feel the Bern indeed...he certainly has some points...I won't bore you with the CEO pay rate increases as opposed to that of the working dope)

But...

...Rigas is an old man.

Did he deserve to die in prison?

The streets of Rigas' hometown were lined with people who welcomed him home from prison.

A whole bunch of people talked about what a nice man he was.

A few others talked about the money that was stolen.

But it seems that all is forgiven.

Rigas will get to see his family (all but the one son who is still in jail).

My heart was warmed by the story.

Then it went cold when I read about the retirement funds that were abused so that the big wigs could fly around in their jet.

I'm so confused!

I would most likely vote that he gets to spend his final days at home...

...but man...

A rich guy robbing the very people who were working for him?

"He should've died in there," one guy said. "He ruined so many people."

There are a whole bunch of people who blame the poor for the money problems in our nation...

...does that make sense?

The people who don't have any money are spending too much of our money?

Nah, it's guys like Rigas.

I didn't celebrate his homecoming.

How could I?

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Dead Pool

Jake was adamant about it.

I had to go see the movie Dead Pool with him. He'd watched the movie the week before.

"It's the funniest movie I've ever seen," he said.

I didn't know a whole lot about the movie, but had heard an interview with Ryan Reynolds.

We planned it out.

Saturday night at 7:45.

My sister Corinne and brother-in-law Chuck were in too, but Chuck 'never laughs at funny stuff' as Sam said.

(That stems from the boys and Chuck's disagreement on Ted and Superbad).

At the last minute...

...Sam bowed out.

So it was just me and Jake...

...and he'd already seen it.

I could've skipped out.

But Jake was adamant.

So the verdict?

It was really funny...

...there was also a plot line that was interesting all the way through.

Like other Superhero movies there was a lot of crap blown up.

It deserved the R-rating though.

As we headed out of the theatre Jake got his props...

...he'd chosen a movie that we all liked.

Check it out...

...but it doesn't need me to promote it...

...it's the highest grossing R-rated movie of all-time.

Women will like it too...

...while Ryan Reynolds is no Cliff Fazzolari...

...he's in decent shape.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Ninety-Nine

Trying to get some feeling back into my legs after a long week is pretty much the goal of every weekend.

The pins and needles were really pronounced as the week wore down on Friday, but luckily my beautiful wife had set me up with a prime massage appointment.

7 p.m. on a Friday.

Maria was the lucky lady who was tasked with the chore of getting the blood flowing in my sometimes useless legs.

She'd worked on me before so she knew that it's in the hip and don't touch the nerve endings that I call feet.

We started chatting.

About everything, really.

The Donald and the Pope.

The fact that February blows for people in their 50's.

Then she told me about the hearty stock of her family.

Her great-grandfather had lived to 99!

"And you know how he died?" She asked.

Usually on an open-ended question like that I'll chime in with something witty and brilliant.

I simply waited for it.

"He got ran over by a car."

I almost laughed.

Now...I'm not a total dope...I had just pictured it quickly...and it nearly struck me funny.

"He was helping them clear the parking lot after Midnight Mass on Christmas. He was an usher at the church. The driver never saw him."

What do you say to that?

99 and run down in the church parking lot on Christmas morning.

It sounds too crazy to be true.

If I wrote it in one of my stories people would think I was being a bit too loose with the truth.

"That's not actually a horrible end," I said. "My Dad was fond of saying that he wanted to live to 95 and be arrested on suspicion of sexual misconduct."

She laughed.

Dad loved that line.

And while the end result was horrible...

...that man died in the church parking lot...

...at Midnight Mass...

...doing something!

Not a bad deal.

I'd take it.

Wouldn't you?

Sunday, February 21, 2016

What the Hell Happened?

I have kids running around here projecting about their future.

Worrying about it.

Wondering what they're going to do to set themselves up to live the sort of life that they've experienced at Camp Clifford.

I'm of the mindset that they can stay as long as they want.

Live here until you're 50!

We like having you around.

But that's not quite how it works, right?

A former baseball player, Tony Phillips died of a heart attack this week.

He was just fifty-seven.

When I read the news I thought back...

...not too far back...

May 20, 1986.

The Yankees were in Oakland to play the A's.

Ron Guidry was pitching for the Yankees.

The Gator was one of my favorites.

I was 21 years old.

My Dad, who was watching the game with me on that day, was 48.

Tony Phillips, who was 27, was a real pain in the ass that day.

Good D. Always a tough at-bat. He could play anywhere.

The game was tied into the 9th inning.

Guidry was still in there.

I was dressed like the Yankee ball boy in a sea of Oakland green and gold.

Drinking beer and bantering with the A's fan next to me.

Dave Kingman strode to the plate in the bottom of the 9th and I joked about how it would take Guidry just 3 pitches to strike him out.

We'll never know if that was possible because Kingman hit the first pitch to the moon.

Game over.

Yanks lose 2-1.

I remember because the guy patted me on the back.

My Dad drove me home and despite my disappointment he reminded me of what a beautiful day it had been.

"You remember the moments," he mentioned.

When I saw that Tony Phillips had passed away...it kinda' hit me hard.

What in the hell happened?

1986 was ten minutes ago.

I had graduated from college just two weeks before.

I was anxious about how it would all set up for me so that I could live in the luxury that my parents had provided.

Dad wanted us to stay there forever.

As quickly as that game had ended.

Boom.

Gone.

Walk back to the dugout.


That's as quickly as time has seemed to pass.

There has been so much in between that moment and this moment as I type this.

So much love.

Too much pain.


Days where I won...

...and days where I feel like Kingman got to me in the bottom of the 9th.

Dad was right.

It's in the moments we share.

As I close my eyes right now I can feel the bright sun on my face from that beautiful day. I recall the touch on my back from the good-natured, happy A's fan.

I can almost taste that beer that I drank alongside my Dad that day.

I certainly remember thinking that Tony Phillips was a colossal pain in the ass.

Boom.

Gone.

Remembered forever.




Saturday, February 20, 2016

February Sucks

I really hate this month.

I know that you aren't supposed to wish time away, but tell me one good thing about February.

The weather blows.

I really can't do the cold.

My feet always get wet no matter how much I try to guard against it.

The other day I walked out onto a job site with a phone that was at 82%.

I left the phone in the top pocket of my jacket.

The wind was blowing. It was about 8 degrees.

I finished the sideview and got back into the car.

My phone was at 6%!

Did you know that the cold drains the battery?

Even my phone hates February.

Baseball is teasing me.

The pitchers and catchers are reporting.

There aren't any games being played.

The predictions are coming out.

I read them, but they are nothing but a tease!

I want baseball...and they're making me wait.

Also, this is the month of the year where all the contractors I work with want training for their employees.

I don't mind the training.

I enjoy being in a warm room and we all know I like talking.

But it's one session after another!

Day after day.

Same stupid jokes.

I get sick of myself.

That's not easy to do!

So...

...February has to go...

But!

Guess who is stepping in to save the month????

Yep!

Bruuuuuuuuccccccccceeeeeeee!

He'll be in town on Thursday to help me finish off February.

He knows me so well!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Jeb

This presidential election is really something.

There is a whole bunch of nastiness going on every single day.

It is certainly more so pronounced on the GOP side where The Donald says something noteworthy (I guess) every single day.

He pissed off the Pope yesterday.

But this is not a Donald post.

This one is about Jeb.

Poor Jeb.

I'm really, really, really feeling bad for the guy...

...and I'm not a fan of any of the Bush clan.

But Jeb just looks so uncomfortable to me.

Like his skin just doesn't fit.

Trump isn't doing him any favors whatsoever, but Bush has just stepped into one pile of poop after another.

He debated Trump about how nastiness couldn't win you the presidency.

Trump said:

"I'm at 42% and you're at 3% so it's working so far."

Jeb looked lost completely after those words sunk in.

Then he brought his Mom out to stump for him.

He tried to look like a normal guy and mentioned that he was happy because he found out that he was his Mom's favorite.

She said:

"You're not my favorite."

Poor Jeb.

He made a speech one day about keeping America safe.

He finished his impassioned speech.

His audience just sat there.

"Please clap," he said.

And every single time I see him...he looks lost...completely lost.

He is trying though and the lobby money is behind him (As Trump has reminded everyone every single chance he gets).

Then Jeb tweeted a picture of a gun.

He included one word:

America!

The number of mass shootings is widely debated and of course, the gun can't just shoot itself, but tweeting a photo of a gun with your name on it and claiming that it's 'America' can also be considered a misstep.

Jeb shrugged.

He didn't know the tweet went out.

But here's the real kicker:

Jeb had a website for his run to the presidency.

His people forgot to pay the fee associated.

Know what happened?

Trump bought it out from under Poor Jeb.

Now, every time someone tries to go to the Jeb website...

...they are re-routed to the Donald.

That's just epic.

Poor Jeb.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Pat Conroy

Pat Conroy is one of my favorite authors.

Beach Music is in the top ten of my favorite books.

There were a few others that were nearly as good.

Conroy always made me think a lot and he wrote classic characters who were deep thinkers themselves.

All the while the plot move forward.

Great stuff.

We actually both received awards from the New England Book Festival -

- one year apart.

I missed his speech for having the best overall book of that year.

I showed up the next year.

Still pissed I missed it.

But I read the sad news a few days ago.

Conroy has pancreatic cancer.

There wasn't any discussion on his diagnosis or prognosis or any other kind of -osis.

He simply said that he owed his fans a novel and that he would finish it.

Then there was another quote.

(I'm paraphrasing).

He said that he spent a whole lot of time considering his life in an attempt to figure out what it meant...and that he was no closer to a solution than when he first started thinking about it.

And now he's supposedly walking up the 18th fairway.

And it hit me.

I've done a lot of what he has also done.

Think, wonder, think some more, read, measure, wonder, gaze in wild wonder, figure, compute and think a little more.

What does it mean?

And maybe some of it is a prerequisite for wanting to write.

Read another quote yesterday as well.

It said that you don't choose to write...

...you're chosen.

But I sensed a little regret in the Conroy quote.

I feel regret from time to time in my own mind.

Why so uptight?

And I thought about whether or not I could change a little...

...just a little.

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

The day when I read the quote I was in a hotel room.

I had the new book on the flash drive...

...I could and should work on the edit.

I was a little tired from a long day out on the sites.

I was also watching Billions and then Better Call Saul.

I was feeling guilty that I was just watching and not editing.

And I lectured myself for a moment.

Relax.

It'll figure itself out without me.

That's the sad part.

I hope Conroy has another 8 books in him.

And that by the time he goes he's figured all of it out.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

It's Taken Care Of

In the middle of a crowded restaurant in Brunswick, Maine, I sat alone with my copy of the USA Today.

I've never felt weird eating by myself.

It's part of the gig.

I ordered.

Nothing, fancy.

I was in Maine so I had a lobster roll, but it wasn't overly expensive.

In fact, it didn't cost me a dime!

I have to take you back a little bit.

As I entered the restaurant I walked by a table that was occupied by two thirty-something women.

One of them waved at me.

I wondered if there was something wrong with her.

I was wearing the fleece I had checked the construction jobs along with a pair of jeans that are pretty worn.

As I was eating my salad, one of the women turned and laughed.

They were a good three tables away, so while it was curious, I didn't give it a second thought.

I was reading about the NBA All-Star game.

I never looked up again.

They left.

A little while later, I was getting agitated.

"Can I get the check?"

"Those women paid it for you," she said.

"What? Why??"

"I don't know," she said.

I might have asked again:

"Why?"

The waitress shrugged.

You wanna' know the bad news?

I thought that it couldn't be possible.

Why would someone be nice to me for no reason?

I was looking over my shoulder as I went to the parking lot and got behind the wheel of the rental car.

Nothing suspicious.

I called my beautiful wife.

"Could they have recognized you from your books?" she asked.

(That has actually happened to me before).

"Wouldn't they say something?" I asked. "Maybe they thought I was strikingly handsome."

"They probably thought you were homeless."

My wife is a great fan of mine.

Whatever.

It freaked me out a little.

Thank you, ladies!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Are We Beyond Help?

The news of Supreme Court Judge Scalia's death came down on Saturday afternoon.

There was a bit of shock at first.

I was watching a movie at the time and was clicking on social media sites.

The shock gave way to one or two messages:

Those who were glad the man was dead!

and

Those who believed that he was murdered by 'libtards'.

I continued to scroll.

Soon enough those two folks met on a message board...

...almost every single message board!

The hate.

Pure, simple, bitter, nasty, vile...

...hate.


The man hadn't been dead for even ten hours.

And yet this was where the battle went.

Then it came down to people wondering about who Obama might pick.

Someone suggested that Obama shouldn't be allowed to pick.

(Even though that doesn't actually jive with the constitution).

Others argued that so and so might nominate someone or the other.

I wonder...

...Has it always been this way?

Has there always been this much division?

I don't remember it being this bad, but like my kids, I lived without thinking of such things.

Does it matter to us as much as we think it does?

I know that it does.

The laws of the land moving forward will be determined by who is chosen.

Let's let this guy get into the ground first.

Everyone sorta' deserves that, right?

Before the hate machine gets revved up again.

I know...

...too late for that.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Mom & Dad Go Bowling

I have long conversations with Mom at least a couple of times a week.

They are great conversations about what is going on in the world and slowly but surely she has opened the window into a lot of what went on in the days when we were all growing up.

"You kids drove us nuts..you were always battling back and forth," she told me one day.

So...it would stand to reason that they needed to blow off some steam from time to time.

Of course they did.


They came in third place in the Scotch Doubles Bowling Tournament.

What's funny is that I recognized nearly every single couple on the leader board - small-town life is awesome - and I also recall the nights when they would head out to compete.

Because we would have a babysitter...

...whom we would terrorize...

...with our Fuzzy-ness.

(I don't know what they were being paid for an hour of their time, but it wasn't worth it!).

I also remember the trophy.

They received a trophy for their lofty finish.

When I finished reading the article I thought about Mom and Dad at the lanes.

Dad telling jokes.

Mom laughing at them along with everyone else.

Their friends all around them.

The drinks flowing.

Early in our marriage we had tried bowling with my siblings.

It was fun...

...but I drank way too much with John, Jim, Chuck, Dana, Lynn, Corinne and Jeff.

The Fuzzy-ness.

But, man, we had laughed as well.

There weren't any trophies for my bowling performance.

No recaps in the paper.

John and Lynda Fazzolari.

I love reading those names.

Congrats on the big finish!

(Diane, Frank, John...all the parents were there!)

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine's Day

There won't be any Valentine's exchanged here at Camp Clifford.

Neither of us really care about such things.

(At least that's what my beautiful wife told me to say).

But actually, it is true.

Flowers?

"Waste of money," she'd say.

Candy?

"I can buy my own candy."

Love doesn't have to stand on such ceremony...

...especially this many years in.

But there will be Valentine's consideration.

I'll make breakfast and dinner.

"Your freaking breakfast is ready," will be how I call my love to the table.

We will clean up, prepare for the week ahead and catch a movie or a few shows.

The idea of exchanging Valentine's is probably for those who are still trying to impress one another.

I think that the longer it goes...

...the less you work on the impressing one another aspects of all of it.

Besides, after a certain amount of time...

...you've kind of already bought all the gifts possible.

But then again...perhaps I'm reading it all wrong.

Maybe Kathy wants a Valentine.

What should I do?

There's no time left to buy something thoughtful.

But...

...We have tickets to see Springsteen in 11 days...

...I'll give her one of those and say 'Happy Valentine's Day.'

See?

I'm covered.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Dumps

Was listening to Opie & Jim Norton the other morning and they were talking about dropping garbage off at the dumps on a weekly basis.

My heart skipped a beat.

Now, dumping garbage shouldn't cause a heart to skip a beat, but it did for me.

The Dumps!

As kids we had to load up the truck so that we could take the considerable Fazzolari garbage and toss it out into the field.

We usually made the trip on Saturday afternoons.

Dad driving all of us up Shirley Road.

I tried to think of the exact location of the dump...but couldn't actually recall what street it was on.

Is it still there?

Dad was creative during those trips.

He'd sit one of us on his lap and let us steer home.

Sometimes he'd coast down the road...

...sometimes we'd ride in the back of the truck.

I distinctly remember the yellow Ford pickup truck.

But there were a lot of different vehicles over the years.

The dumps also played another important role in my life.

It was where I learned to drive.

My family wasn't that keen on letting me behind the wheel.

They still aren't.

I tried driving on the main roads with my buddy Jeff Renaldo once, but he quit when I took the corner at Milestrip at about 68 MPH.

So, my buddy Tom took over.

He drove us up to the dumps and pulled over.

"Smash into all the garbage you want," he said.

I practiced all my turns up there.

There was garbage stuck in the grill.

Tom talked me through it all.

I eventually passed my test.

The dumps!

Who knew that garbage could play such an important role?

Friday, February 12, 2016

Springsteen News

The concert tour is in full swing.

I have always been a fan of The River, of course and I'm looking forward to a couple of songs that I've never seen played live:

The Price You Pay and Jackson Cage.

Along with the other 18 great songs on that record.

Of course, they're playing about 15 more songs after that...so I better get a nap on the day of the show.

Then, news broke on Thursday that Bruce has finished his autobiography.

It's due out in September.

That's incredible.

Through the years there's been very little news about Bruce's personal life.

Somehow he stays out of the news...

...nary a parking ticket.

But what interests me most is that he will most likely let us in on the creative process.

I am looking forward to that most of all.

He will most likely talk about all the members of the band and his two marriages.

Interesting, for sure.

How did he battle depression?

What about that tough relationship with his Dad?

But it will all come back to the writing.

What brings him to the notebook?

I think I know...

...I really do.

I'm imagining that I will finish the book in a sitting or two.

I'm also imagining that I'll read it more than once.

Bruuuuuuuuccccceeeeee!

Awesome.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Foolish Behavior

Cam Newton says that his poor loser behavior is just who he is:

"Show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser," he said.

Yeah, well:

Show me a poor loser...and you're still a loser...but now everyone knows you're a crybaby loser.

Show up in gold cleats with MVP on them and dance every time you make a 3-yard gain and you have to be man enough to stand and face the questions when you lose.

You have to!

I thought the Super Bowl was a colossal bore anyway...the game was pathetic...looked like two teams playing a pre-season Thursday night game.

But now there is news that Beyonce was doing a Black Power play as she danced half-naked and chanted something.

The response to her message has been underwhelming in some circles.

I kinda' missed the message all together.

I was emptying the dishwasher as the halftime show was going on.

Emptying the dishwasher was the highlight of the game.

(Right up until I gave up completely two minutes into the 3rd quarter).

I eventually did see Peyton Manning kiss Pappa John at mid-field, and then mention drinking a Bud as if he were doing a commercial

(How much money does that guy need?)

(That was a lovely touch).

But I must say that the pre-game party At Hector & Jeff's was worth the trip out to Brant.

Holy smokes!

The gang out there knows how to party it up.

I had a roast beef sandwich that still makes my eyes water thinking about it.

Had I stayed through the game you may have read about the Blasdell man in the food coma.

Then.

Lo and Behold.

The morning after the Super Bowl found the Bills Running Back, Shady McCoy in trouble, for allegedly helping (with three other Rhodes Scholars) to beat the holy hell out of two off-duty cops.

Over a bottle of champagne.

One of the cops suffered a fractured skull.

Great group of guys involved there.

But you know what made my head spin and my stomach turn?

The people who immediately rushed to the defense of the apparently empty-headed running back...

...and were quick to dismiss his blatant alleged criminal act...

...because they need him to run with the ball next year!


I'm so disgusted with that simple fact.

Intelligent people...

...raising these idiots up on a pedestal.

How many more will be arrested in the next three weeks?

A guy from the New York Giants already.

A former baseball player.

Shady.

Idiots.

Can't they be banned from their millions?

Won't society ever take a stand against abhorrent behavior?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Uh-Oh!


Paris loses her mind when one of us says:

Uh-Oh!!

The poor dog knows that something bad has happened and she jumps in your lap in an effort to calm things down for you.

The thing about bad things happening in this day and age is that we know about them before the dust even clears.

I received a notification with the above-photo on Friday.

A crane had toppled in New York City.

"That's a bad day," I thought as I scrambled to read the details.

Now for full disclosure I have had to help investigate three instances of crane tip-overs.

They aren't pretty scenes.

There's a lot of blaming going on.

At one of them the people involved were offering up every excuse in the book.

I think one of the guys even said:

"The glove didn't fit."

But there are a couple of universal truths that I know going in to an investigation.

1). It's usually human error

and

2). People lie.

Not some people. Not a few people.

All people.

In a deal like the one noted above.

Now maybe lying is a bit strong...but people certainly want to distance themselves from the decision or action that culminated in the devastating result.

I always tell a story...in my training classes...of Jake at about the age of six.

He was playing his Gameboy and he was getting pissed.

"Don't do it!" I warned him as it became apparent that he was way too frustrated.

Jake tried for a couple of minutes more and then he threw the Gameboy...

...through a window...

...that wasn't open.

As the glass littered the carpet I turned to him in shocked horror.

"I didn't do it," he said.

I laughed.

I can imagine that there is a lot of "I didn't do it" going on in the big city this week.

I certainly feel for those who were hurt or killed.

A horrible tragedy.

I hope I never see a similar photo again.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

I'm So Worried


Why do we worry so much?

I really find myself doing it way too much these days when the kids are out of the house.

"Did you text Jake?" I'll ask.

I know, for sure, that it's a by-product of my lunatic wife and my slightly neurotic mother-in-law, but I am caught up in the whirlwind of their nervousness.

I find that I'll text Sam or Jake a joke...

...just so they respond when they're out and about.

There are even times when I'll go to bed without knowing exactly when they will be home.

When I wake in the morning I'll look at the phone and seeing it come up blank I'll know that nothing happened.

Then I stop worrying.

My friend Kim posted a meme about worrying last week...how it's like sitting in a rocking chair...it passes the time, but you don't get anywhere.

It's true.

"What are you worried about?"

Worrying takes you out of the moment.

It tears down your mood.

It keeps you from the task at hand.

And it accomplishes absolutely nothing.

But I'm caught in the vortex from time-to-time.

I know people who worry about things that are absolutely out of their control.

Like ISIS.

Or Wall Street.

Or what happens if Trump becomes president?

Or if the Yankees starting 5 will hold up.

You know what happens?

Nothing!

You deal with it!

When it happens.

Worrying about if it happens...

...is crazy.

Are the boys home?

Monday, February 8, 2016

There's Nothing In the Cup!!!

I did a little acting back in college.

I may have told the story before, but I was the lead in a couple of one-act plays.

My beautiful wife remembers the story because the lead actress was really cute and I purchased tickets to go to a real show (not easy to do on a college budget) and I held them out to the pretty girl and asked if she wanted to catch the play down at the Erie Playhouse.

She took both tickets from my hand and said:

"Thank you so much! My boyfriend will be so excited!!"

(Yeah. I was that much of an idiot).

(Hope they've had a long, miserable life together).

Anywhoha...

During one of the plays we were gathered around a kitchen table where we were supposed to banter back and forth. We had food from McDonald's in front of us and we were supposed to eat it as we talked.

1). The french fries were ice cold!

I almost spit it out onto the table at the start of the act.

and

2). There was nothing in my drink cup!

"We don't want it spilled," the director said. "Just pretend you're drinking it."

That still haunts me!!!

Because it must be industry-standard to have the cup empty.

Watch a show...any show...

There's nothing in the cup!

The actor will pretend to take a sip.

It always looks horrible!

Or

One actor will hand an empty cup to another actor and you'll be able to tell:

There's nothing in the cup!!!

"Oh, get over it," Kathy will say when I mention it...

...every single time that it happens.

But there's my haunted mind, folks.

Perhaps it all has to do with the money I threw away on that girl and her idiot boyfriend.

But it drives me nuts.

The damn cup is empty!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

What If It Wasn't Wide Right?

Super Bowl Sunday.

A downright holiday now...right?

Despite the head injuries, the bad behavior, the greed.

Okay...

...For one day I'll drop the crusade, and instead, think about the past Super Bowls.

What if Scott Norwood's kick had been true?

Would the Bills had won more than just one?

Would life had changed at all?

It's an interesting question, I suppose, but I honestly believe that it changes absolutely nothing!

The ESPN 30 for 30 on the Bills was on during the day on Saturday.

The documentary covers them all the way through the years and the aftermath of what were some great careers.

Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas are Buffalo mainstays these days.

Seeing them on television is like seeing a member of the family in some ways as they are so familiar to us all.

Buffalo fans are pretty defensive about those losses and the stars of those teams.

"This is pretty sad," Jake said as he entered the room.

They were at the point in the documentary where Whitney Houston was singing the National anthem before the first loss - the painful one:

Giants 20 Bills 19.

Might things have turned out differently for Whitney had the kick been good?

For Jake, the sadness isn't all that real.

He wasn't here.

I remember Whitney and the war and the excitement of seeing the Bills run across that field.

I recall my brothers and sisters, Dad, Mom, my buddy Jeff and a few other friends.

How much that hurt!

He missed it!!!

Echoing off the walls.

I'd known he would miss it...

We can't have anything nice!

"You really gonna' watch it?" Jake asked.

I had never seen the 'missed' kick again...

...which isn't an easy thing to do in this town.

They showed the Bills starting the drive.

Thurman was running wild.

Time was running out.

They showed Norwood on the sidelines.

CLICK!!!!

Jake had turned it off.

"Good call," I said. "I don't need to see that crap."

What if it had gone through?

All that would've happened is that they would have won one.

Nothing else would've changed.

It seems like so much more at the time.

But it's a game.

That's it.

An amusing distraction.

Nothing would've been any different...

...I don't think.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Crazy Legs

Saw an old friend's picture in the paper on Friday night.

I had worked with Paul in a two-man office about 20 years ago.

When I met him, Paul had a reputation of being a man who was difficult to get along with.

In fact my boss, the owner of the crane company said:

"Just do your best, Paul means well."

I smiled when I saw Paul's photo in the paper...

...even though he was in the obituary section.

My friend Paul was a lot of things.

He had a fiery temper.

He swore better than anyone I'd ever met.

He was quick to anger but just as quick to forgive.

You couldn't win an argument with him because he was really smart...one of the smartest guys I ever knew.

My favorite part of my friendship with Paul?

He showed up for work every single day.

And he never complained....

...even though he had polio.

He had never been able to walk.

Paul never once whined about struggling to get up the stairs, or out to his car.

It would take Paul more than a couple of minutes to get his walker, get himself dressed in his winter coat, over to the stairs, and then down the steps...

...one, by one.

A lot of people didn't know how to take Paul's anger.

More than a few people were scared to mention his disability.

He told me more than once that what he hated most was when people looked at him with pity.

"There isn't a person in the world who should feel badly for me."

I never felt sorry for Paul...there was no reason to...he lived with his affliction and he made no attempt to milk it.

Ever.

Paul was happy that I never called him anything but Crazy Legs.

He would laugh every time I'd say it.

One Friday night (and I can remember it like it was this Friday) Paul gathered his things and started the long trek to his car.

(He drove himself each day in a car that was designed for his affliction).

As he approached the stairs he was talking trash:

"Have a great weekend," he said. "I hope the Yankees lose all three games this weekend."

I waited until he was on that top step.

"Really?" I asked, delaying it until he was about to step down.

"Really," he said, concentrating on that crucial first step.

"Well, I hope you fall down the stairs."

Paul laughed for a good three minutes at that one.

"You have never once treated me differently," he said.

Another time we were both on the phone answering questions in a busy office setting.

I cupped my phone and screamed at him.

"What?" He yelled back.

"Your legs are on fire!" I shouted back.

He always had a small heater on by his feet.

I could smell his pants burning.

Paul was a great guy.

I hadn't spoken with him in some time...and that's a true shame in life...

...we had simply lost touch.

But not really...

...through the years I thought of Paul a lot...

...whenever I would hear someone complain about how tough things are for them.

One day...after years of working together...I heard Paul on the phone making arrangements for a meeting.

"Where you going on Sunday morning?" I asked.

"I teach Bible studies," he said.

(As stated earlier, there wasn't a curse word that Paul was afraid to use).

"You teach Bible studies?" I asked. "Are you kidding me?"

"I'm a well-rounded mother-f%#Ker," he responded.

Rest in Peace...

...Crazy Legs.


You left your mark.

Supreme Confidence

I didn't watch a whole lot of Cam Newton through the year.

Part of that was because I watched a whole lot less football this year, but also, there wasn't much by way of Panthers football here in AFC East country.

People were raving about his performance though...my boys included...and there was a lot of talk about how much fun he was having.

Celebrating just about everything!

Now I'm not much into the bat flipping and showing up of opponents, but there has been a lot of talk about how confident the Panthers have been all week and how business-like the Broncos have been.

Watch out Panthers!

The Bills thought they would have an easy time with the Giants in the Bowl 25 years ago...and we remember how that played out.

There are some real similarities.

Anywhoha...

This isn't just about football...

...it's about confidence!

Confidence is a tricky thing.

Some people might think you're being arrogant.

I remember guys always saying...back a long time ago...during the dating stage...that women liked confident men.

I'd try to be confident...in the bar scene...but I was always scared to death to ask women out.

(Yeah...you'd never guess that given the unbelievable catch that I landed...but there was a time...when I was nervous around the fairer sex).

You must've known confident guys though...they would get the girls too.

But confidence is a required skill in all walks of life.

I'm a very confident public speaker...

...I've noticed nervous public speakers.

They don't usually do very well.

Yet what happens when the confident guy is hit in the mouth?

I thought of that when Trump lost in Iowa.

His speech the very next day seemed odd.

But then...

...a day later he was confident again.

Confidence in the face of reality is a weird thing too though.

I'm wondering what might happen to that huge smile that Cam displays if Denver gets after him as they did Brady a couple of weeks ago.

Confidence can only take you so far...

...eventually actions have to take over.

Some of those guys back in the bar learned that the hard way.

Remember...

...the meek shall inherit, right?

Friday, February 5, 2016

CTE - Brain Damage

Seriously, does anyone even care?

The following NFL players have been posthumously diagnosed with CTE - which is chronic traumatic encephalopathy:

Andre Waters

Mike Webster

Junior Seau

Kenny Stabler

Justin Strzelczyk

Dave Duerson

Most of these men died well before they reached the average life-span for man.

They died violently in some cases.

They say that Waters brain was so badly damaged that it belonged in the head of a 90-year-old man.

Now the experts are saying that O.J. Simpson probably had CTE when he butchered his wife and Ron Goldman.

Does anyone care?

Is football that important?

I can probably answer those two questions with the following two answers:

Hell no!

and

Of course football is that important!

We are willing to allow men to scramble their brains for our entertainment!

Of course we are!!

They knew the risks!

Stabler pulled himself away from the game in his last few years.

He did so because he didn't want his grandkids playing it because it doesn't matter how good the helmets are - the brain can't be bashed around in the skull!

The players are bigger, faster, stronger...

...they are still leading with their heads.

The fans are bemoaning the fact that flags are being thrown on the close hits.

How many times have you heard a fan yell about the sissy state of the league now?

I honestly believe that the league is in huge trouble.

You won't know that by the time and money spent to watch the Super Bowl this weekend...

...but think of this as you cheer.

There were 237 concussions suffered this past year.

237 men who's brains were hammered in their skull...

...for your entertainment.

Enjoy the game.


Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Roller Rink

The social event in North Collins when I was in the 7th and 8th grades was most certainly:

Roller skating at the American Legion!!!

I saw a photo of a pair of woman's roller skates on Twitter and my mind clicked back.

Probably because I wore woman's roller skates to those Friday night events.

My cousin Carol had passed her roller skates down to me and I was happy to have them!

The female version of roller skates being that they lace up higher. Once I pulled the jean legs over them no one actually knew that I was wearing women's skates.

I used to go to a secluded area to take them on or off.

And I was an okay skater.

Which is all you have to be really...just don't fall down when your brother rolls by and punches you.

But what I most remember about those nights was the music:

Silly Love Songs by McCartney...

...I used to love when that song came up and through the speakers.

I remember the Paul Simon song 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover too.

Who couldn't skate to:

Hop Off the Bus, Gus...No Need to Discuss Much. Just Drop Off the Key, Lee and Set Yourself Free.

Of course the pressure was on as well.

What girl did you skate with for the couples skate?

I must admit...

...I spent some of those couples skates on the sidelines looking at the idiot that was skating with the girl I liked.

But like they say:

Even a blind squirrel.

I got lucky once in awhile and I'd take the hand of the girl who I had even a little crush on...

...and we'd skate around as the music blared over head.

And I'd think of being really nervous and wonder if my hand was sweating.

Skating isn't real conducive to talk so I couldn't baffle the girl with my bullshit...

...we'd mostly look and smile.

And then one of my brothers or one of my friends would race up behind me and kick my left skate into my right skate...

...and I'd head for the corner boards.

Knowing, even before I met the ground...

that next week...

...I'd be sitting out the couples skate.

But those are fond memories to be sure.

Back when we could pretend that we could stop the world with a silly love song.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Ground Hog, Flipping Coins and Eddie Munster and Super Bowl Pick

The presidential candidates aren't the most physically attractive of people, are they?

(I know, Pops, that hurts coming from me).

But we've seen Hilary looking haggard. We've seen Donald's hair askew...and Bernie's too, for that matter.

We've seen the candidates stand for photos looking their best...and looking their worst...

...and Ted Cruz looks like Eddie Munster.

Good thing it ain't a beauty contest.

(I'm thinking...is that mean? Ahh...who cares?)

The groundhog said that spring is coming early.

I won't say that it's been a mild Buffalo winter because as soon as I do it'll get nasty...

...but I don't believe in that crap...

...it's been a great winter!

The Iowa races were certainly a surprise.

Trump kept telling us that he was gonna' win and that if you don't finish first you're just a looser.

So, guess what?

He lost.

Onto New Hampshire!

What's really weird is that I will be in both states before the end of the month.

I'm glad I missed the presidential election crap.

It might' messed up my loose meat and lobster lunches.

Enjoy the mild weather.

Ahh, what the hell:

Super Bowl Pick too:

Denver 20 Carolina 17

Yep. I picked the upset.

But what the hell do I know?

I had Dallas over Miami!


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Really?

I have a great fear that 2016 is going to turn into a real mess and the divide is going to grow wider and wider between the two political parties in this land.

There are a whole bunch of reasons why this seems to be likely.

And the other morning I grabbed a bowl of cereal and listened to an interview with one of the candidates.

Trump had decided not to participate in the Republican debate. I believe it was the Today Show where he was captured for the interview.

30 seconds into the interview I only had a single question.

Really?

Trump was basically shouting over the question of his interviewer. He was speaking of two things:

How terrific he is.

And

How much of a loser the other people are.

All through the day I thought about that interview.

Is this the best we can do?

(In full disclosure...none of the candidates has made me say...'that's my favorite').

But...

Now I get the side of the people who are for the Make America Great portion of the argument.

As frightened as I am about the lack of depth of such a statement...

...I understand the complaints.

And certainly all things can not be dismissed.

Fear of the unknown.

Mistrust of that which we do not fully understand.

A pure hatred for a religion that has a billion members, but is completely different.

Patriotism.

I hear those complaints.

Vote for either party at your own peril.

But I decided that perhaps I wasn't being fair based on a single interview so I listened to another one...

...and one after that.

Really?

I heard the same thing:

"I'm terrific."

"______ is a loser."

A complete lack of depth.

An absolute dismissal of other points of view.

A daring to disagree.

Bully, bully, bully.

"Maybe we're wrong," a trusted friend once said to me.

Maybe.

But I must be completely missing the boat on this one.

I can't believe it has gone this far.

Really.

Monday, February 1, 2016

A Three From the Side

I saw the ball swing around to the spot where my son Sam was standing.

The score was tied.

He caught the pass.

"Shoot it," I whispered to myself.

Sam did.

Good form, no one near him.

Nothing but net.

A three.

The people in the gym cheered.

The applause sounded really loud to me.

I saw Sam head back on D.

He glanced in my direction, but looked away quickly.

Matt and my beautiful wife and my wonderful mother-in-law were all cheering behind me.

"'Bout time he did something," Matt said.

Following the first half I went to the car to get my phone. When I re-entered the gym Sam was standing just inside the door, dribbling the ball. They were just finishing up their shoot-around before the second half started.

"Give me it," I said to Sam.

He passed me the ball.

I was deep in the corner.

I took aim.

My heavy jacket was a minor concern, but I could hit this shot (from well behind the 3-point line) all day when I was young.

The airball nearly skulled a kid standing about four feet beyond the hoop near the opposite corner.

Sam laughed. Matt guffawed from his spot on the bleachers.

"It's the jacket," I yelled. "And that was a pass!"

Sitting through the second half I thought about all of the games of basketball that I played as a kid. In high school we were all so close. We shaved our heads for a big game. The long bus rides.

The laughs were constant.

In college I played on a rec league team with a bunch of friends who didn't play a lot. I used to have to shoot the ball nearly every time down. My arm hurt after a lot of those games. But George and Gema and Fluff were a blast to play with.

I mostly remember laughing.

Following college we played a million games with friends from the hometown...on a court that was a little smaller. We all played our hearts out. We drank beer immediately after.

Man we laughed a lot.

I thought all the way back to the games in the backyard at the big house on the top of the hill with my brothers and the buddies from the neighborhood. We called our own fouls. We played until there was blood under the hoop.

And we laughed.

"Great shot," Sam said to me as we arrived at home.

I didn't even bother to blame the jacket.

"Did you see my shot? I'm not even sure it actually touched the net. It went straight through."

I laughed.

Fifty-Three

Today's my 53rd birthday. "You don't look a day over 70." I heard that already a couple of times this week, and I had ...