Thursday, March 31, 2016

Mellencamp Does One: Check It Out

Check It Out - John Mellencamp

Great Song.

A million young poets
Screamin' out their words
To a world full of people
Just livin' to be heard
Future generations
Ridin' on the highways that we built
I hope they have a better understanding

Check it out
Goin' to work on Monday
Check it out
Got yourself a family
Check it out
All utility bills have been paid
You can't tell your best buddy that you love him
So check it out
Where does our time go
Check it out
Got a brand new house in escrow
Check it out
Sleepin' with your back to your loved one
This is all that we've learned about happiness

Check it out
Forgot to say hello to my neighbors
Check it out
Sometimes I question my own behavior
Check it out
Talkin' about the girls that we've seen on the sly
Just to tell our souls we're still the young lions
So check it out
Gettin' too drunk on Saturdays
Check it out
Playin' football with the kids on Sundays
Check it out
Soarin' with the eagles all week long
And this is all that we've learned about living
This is all that we've learned about living

A million young poets
Screamin' out their words
Maybe someday
Those words will be heard
By future generations
Ridin' on the highways that we built
Maybe they'll have a better understanding
Check it out
Hope they'll have a better understanding
Check it out
Maybe they'll have a better understanding
Check it out
Maybe they'll have a better understanding
Check it out
Hope they have a better understanding
Check it out.....

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Pickle & A Half An Egg Salad Sandwich

My big head is congested.

I couldn't hear very well the other day and it got so annoying that I stopped at the doctors to see if I was going deaf. He told me to chew gum and hold my nose closed and push out until I heard my ears pop.


On the way to work on Tuesday the light buzzed to let me know that I was 50 miles from running out of gas.

I swung into the Mobil station on Elmwood Avenue and was a tad annoyed when they made me plug my zip code in to pump the gas. Then they asked me if I wanted a car wash.


Finally they allowed me to lift the handle and pump the gas.


I was pumping the gas when out of the corner of my eye I noticed a young man digging through the trash across the way. He held two bags that were filled with bottles that he would turn in for a nickel a shot.

I kept watching him as my tank filled.

He was less than 30 years old.

His eyes showed signs of extreme wear and tear.

Drugs for sure.

His clothes were filthy but they were decent.

(He might have been saying the same thing about me).

He never once glanced up at me.

He started digging into the garbage can that was no more than 3' from me and now he was directly in my line of vision.

He pulled out a discarded brown lunch bag.

He opened it.

There was less than half a sandwich in a plastic bag. It had been bitten by the person who had tossed it away.

He took the sandwich out, sniffed it, then placed his own bite. His second bite made the sandwich disappear.

I gagged.

He also fished out a piece of aluminum foil.

There was a pickle wrapped in there.

He ate that too.

I nearly threw up.

The man never once looked up.

I thought back to childhood...

...being in church...

...singing a song...

Whatsoever You do to the least of my brothers.

How did we get here?

There are so many people who are ashamed of people who live like that.

There are millions of men like him.


Tough shit! Get a job!! We can't take care of the lazy bastards!!

No shame?

I thought about chasing him down and handing him a dollar or two...

...but he was long gone.

He was across the street...

...digging through the next can.

Whatsoever we do.

My big, congested head was forgotten for a few minutes.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

2016 Baseball Preview

Baseball season starts this weekend.

Thank God!

I am predicting that baseball will soon be the number one sport in the land again when the concussion battle takes out the greedy NFL.

So, let's get started.

The stupid National League.

The Mets have great pitching, but I think that there are too many people anointing them as the NL East Champs. I say the call goes to the Washington Nationals. They had more talent last year. They get it done this year. But the Mets will grab a wild card.

In the NL Central everyone always wonders how the St. Louis Cardinals get to near 100 wins every year. They just play great fundamental baseball. Then they flame out The Cubs and Pirates are both great teams. I say the Cubs win it and the Pirates grab the second wild card. The Cardinals flame out.

And finally, the NL West - it seems that the Giants win the World Series on even years. They re-stocked everything and might make a run, but I think Kershaw is the difference and the Dodgers take the crown.

So the playoffs look like this:

Mets over Pirates in Wild Card Game

Nationals over Dodgers in Division Series.

Cubs over Mets in Division Series.

Cubs over Nationals in NLCS.

Now the good league:

AL West:

This will be a close division with the exception of the A's - who will really suck. I think it will be the Texas Rangers over the Seattle Mariners, who will just miss out on the wild card.

The Kansas City Royals lost the World Series by a single run and then won the World Series in impressive fashion. They are really good. And they won't win the division this year. I have the Detroit Tigers taking the division and the Kansas City Royals as wild card.

And last but not least:

The AL East:

The top three teams got better. The Baltimorons are going to have a long year with that staff and Tampa won't hit enough. So that leaves Toronto, New York and Boston fighting it out.

We all know that I'm picking the New York Yankees to win the division.

Boston gets the Wild Card.

Toronto loses out by a couple of games.

Kansas City over Boston in the Wild Card Game

New York over Texas in Division Series.

Kansas City over Detroit in Division Series.

New York over Kansas City in the ALCS.

Setting up an epic World Series of Yankees versus Cubs.

The greatest franchise ever against the team who wants to win for the first time since 1908!

Yankees Win!

Theeeeeee Yankees win!!!


Eat it haters!

Monday, March 28, 2016

So Excited!

Sam was absolutely bursting on the inside.

Kansas had gone on a run to take a 45-40 lead over beloved Villanova.

My boy escaped to the other room where he screamed a little, away from mine and Jake's gaze.

But then a 3-pointer.

And another one.

A lay-up and a jumper.

Suddenly 'Nova was back in front 50-45.

"There we go!" He was screaming.

Now I've watched a lot of sports with the boys.

Mostly I make fun of their favorite teams because I like to get under people's skin when they're most passionate about something silly.

(In all fairness, they do it to me with the 27-Time World Champion Greatest Franchise in the History of Organized American Sports - so it's all good).

But as the game clock wore down I started to feel nervous for Sam.

He loves Villanova.

He has since he was about five years old...who knows why.

Every game was on our television this year.

We worked our schedule around their games.

I was nervous for him!

What is really funny about it is that we have a large television. When 'Nova is playing Sam stands off to the side of it...about two feet away...watching...yelling...cheering.

I didn't want to see him sad if they lost.

I imagined him going into his room, alone, for an hour or so...

...and then coming out wearing a brave face.

They didn't lose.

They're off to the Final 4.

We will have a couple of days of quiet before he starts talking about how they can beat Oklahoma.

I've watched the Yankees win titles.

I know how happy that makes a guy.

This one might make me even happier...

...'cause Sam wants it so badly.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter! Do Something Good!!

My back was aching.

The priest was reading the prayer.

I glanced over at the other altar boy, Al DeCarlo, as the prayer at the 7th station of the cross dragged on.

Al rolled his eyes.

I was only about ten years old back then.

It was Good Friday.

We had been at one service or another for three straight days.

I remember that we had Saturday off, but Easter Mass would be another long church event.

Cut to about a month ago.

At the Springsteen show.

Bruce was talking about The River being the first time that he actually thought that there would eventually be an end to life as we know it.

"You reach a moment when you figure out that your time here is limited. We all have limited time to do something good. (He repeated the line) "To do something good."

I thought of both, the serving mass on Good Friday, and listening to Bruce talk about mortality, a lot over the last few days.

I heard about the death of a young man.

I considered his devastated and shattered family.

I spoke to my buddy with a very sick wife.

"It makes you think differently about a whole lot of things," he said.

(A lesson I had learned some time ago).

And I thought back to the stations of the cross and how Jesus fell down.

Those were the stations that caught the attention of a young man.

Jesus fell and got back up.

He was thirsty and they gave him vinegar.

Our time is limited.

It flies by, actually.

"There's so much sadness," another close friend mentioned to me.

Limited time.



Falling Down.

That is life and it sounds about right, for all of us.

No one gets through unscathed.

My former altar boy buddy, Al, reached out:

"Was just thinking about 40 years ago and being in church all week long," he said.

We traded a couple of texts about it.

What was the point?

Easter makes me think of renewal and starting over and it actually really does inspire me... do something good...

...with the limited time that we have.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Sleeping Brain

What a bummer!

Garry Shandling died!

He was only 66...

...that's not enough time.

And make no mistake, he was a comic genius.

Shandling was well known from The Larry Sanders Show, which was great, but I loved The Garry Shandling Show even more.

One of my favorite all-time half hours on television ever was the episode when he failed the written portion of his drivers test.

"I'm so stupid!" He wails.

He decides to summon his brain and the camera cuts to an overweight man, in pajamas, resting in a hammock.

"Get up!!" He yells. "It's 3 in the afternoon!"

His brain explains that there's no reason to get up.

"You only have three thoughts!

I'm tired.

I'm hungry.

I gotta' poop."

That little piece of comedy genius really got a lot of play in my life.

My brother Jeff and I would say it to one another on a weekly basis.

I think that we watched that episode at least 10 times.

I used the brain joke on my friends, my beautiful wife and everywhere else.

Shandling was awesome on every show... always.

I have used his fortune cookie line almost every time I've opened one.

"I pissed in the rice."

He looked directly in the camera and scrunched his face.

"It's hand-written," he cried.

I laughed every time I looked at Shandling.

RIP, funny dude!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Happy Birthday, Jim

"What should I bring?" I asked Jim.

I was calling to check in to see what he needed for the Easter celebration.

Cooking for a lot of people is never easy, but Jim is always willing to do it.

"A bib," he answered.

There is no doubt what drives Jim.

The family.

Feeding the family, specifically.

Jim has spoiled all of us.

The Maryland clan gathers at Jim's house and he stuffs them with gourmet food at every meal.

By the time we get to his home for a celebration for the family all the food is ready and the table is set.

And if ten people are there he has enough food for thirty.

Well, today is Jim's birthday and the world should stop spinning for a minute so we can all acknowledge it.

Jim is so giving for our entire family, and all of his friends that we really should make sure he knows how much we appreciate his efforts.

Yet, that aside... Jim was always an interesting guy to go and have a beer with.

Out in California we spent quite a few nights socializing.

No one else will get the rest of this, but here are some memories for Jim on his birthday:

"I have his motorcycle keys."

"Good work, Columbo."

"I broke my ass cooking that turkey."

"Bah! Stop breaking my balls, I already have 3 tickets."

Jim knows the story behind all of those lines.

Some day we'll tell you the full stories.

Happy Birthday, brother...

...we love you!

Thank you.

For everything.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Real Problem With Terror

No matter where the terror strike hits...

...the fear and panic rush in.

Along with the sadness and the pain.

Instantly we are bombarded with the images of the devastation.

The other day we woke to the horrific news in Brussels.

"F&*$ ISIS!" Someone texted me early, early, early in the morning before I had even seen what had happened.

I wondered where...and then I read the horrible news.

It doesn't truly make a difference where it plays out though because what you feel, automatically, is the fear.

And that's how terror works.

People are terrified...

...all over the place.

And what can you do with the anger?

ISIS is a sort of faceless group, aren't they?

Most people think that every single person who is of the Muslim faith is a member of the ISIS team.

That, in and of itself, is a problem.

That's akin to saying that every white male between 18 and 50 is liable to mass shoot here in America.

But back to the anger.

If we can't really figure out who is exactly an ISIS member, who should we blame for this?

How about the president?

Or the president before him?

Or the one before him?

They all take some of that anger.

There are knee-jerk reactions to be sure.

"We need to make that part of the world a parking lot!!!" Is screamed a whole lot the day after a terror attack.

Rage takes place an ocean away from where the terror hits.

Because we all know that we are sitting ducks in the deep, petrified areas of our minds.

"Throw everyone out!"

We have all been in airport waiting rooms.

Most of us have ridden the train or the subway...and wondered...what might happen...or what could happen.

And we become terrified.

That's how terror works.

What can be done?

Not a damn thing by me.

Just try and not be terrified as I go about my day.

Thoughts and prayers?

Sadly, that's about it from this vantage point.

I won't let the rage or the fear get the best of me.

Otherwise I'm a partial victim.

Sadly, we all are.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Nurturing A Monster

A few weeks ago I listened as Sue Klebold made the rounds on some of the radio shows.

She was peddling her new book:

"A Mother's Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy."

You probably recognize her surname.

Dylan Klebold was one of the two shooters at Columbine back in 1999.

Columbine was the first of many school shootings in this country and it was pulled off by two kids who were in a complete rage. There was an element of bullying to it. Some people blamed violent video games. The two boys wore trench coats as the planted bombs and shot and killed their fellow students and a teacher.

That shooting seems to be the starting point.

Can you imagine if it was YOUR KID!

When I heard Sue Klebold on the radio talking about the book...I wondered why she might write such a memoir.

Then I remembered that writing has always helped me make sense of things that were difficult to understand.

But still!!!

Can you imagine the grief?

I bought her book...which was written for the families of her son's victims.

About halfway through the book I became a little dismayed.

There would be no answers.

Those kids were mentally ill.

Her son hid his secret rage from his mother and father and brother.

The Klebold's were a family.

They ate dinner together.

Dad was active in their lives.

Mom nurtured and tried to love at every turn.

I believe that poor woman as she tells her story of love for her child.

I know that she was torn apart by his death, and the death of all the kids that he murdered.

But there are no answers as to why.

Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris were sick bastards.

That's the answer.

As to why they were isolated, or violated, or excommunicated...

...that could be debated all day.

But think about that Mom.

She had plans for that child.

She dreamed he would be a good man.

Three days before he shot up that school she took photos of him and his prom date.

Crazy, crazy, crazy.

Hopefully she finds some grace somewhere along the way.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

You Can't Change Anything!

Who would've ever thought that one of my favorite past times would be to sit back, wait for something wild to happen, and then go to the story with the sole intention of reading the comments sections.

This is particularly entertaining when you hit on a political story.

Trump running for president has taken the hate to a whole 'nother level...and don't think twice about it...the hate and name-calling is coming from both sides.

Here's an exchange between Alec and a whole bunch of people.

"I f*&#ing hate Donald Trump. I really can't believe that America is this stupid to elect such an arrogant trillionaire as a president. Obama will have been the last president. If Trump gets elected than it will be a dictatorship and World War III will happen quickly."

That guy was certainly trying to make a few points, but his use of 'trillionaire' may have cost him his argument.

Let's listen to the responses he gathered.


Some sound points there, right?

The use of all caps and the "libtard" slam brings it all home.

Alec had some problems.

One guy jumped on the trillionaire boast:

"Did you just call him a trillionaire? And you're calling his supporters stupid. Go sit in the corner, young man and think about what an idiot you are."

Alec wasn't having that.

"He accumulated over a trillion dollars in his lifetime. He lost a lot of it!"

The response he got was fitting:

"LOL, whatever, dude. Stay in the corner."

And folks, this is what we have as a debate for the leader of the country.

What is really interesting to me is how nasty everyone gets on these threads.

Nothing is off-limits.

"Trump does call 'em as he sees 'em. They're wet back mother-f%$^&rs that our coming to take our money! Trump is right to call 'em rapists and criminals. They are stealing all our money. Nothing is free. Just 'cause you got a participation trophy. Climb back in your hole you socialist bitch. Your what's wrong with MY country!"

That guy should actually run for office, huh?

And I laugh.

As you go along down the thread there is always a guy who tries to give a history lesson to clear everything up.

"We haven't had a decent president since Roosevelt. I've been alive for all of this mess. They are all criminals. I'm voting for Trump because maybe he won't worry about money changing hands because he has enough already."

And then the guy who was fighting with Alec came back:

"Yeah, Trump is a trillionaire!"

So, I tell you... along.

What I gather from all of the debate?

We're in trouble.

We have people who hate other people for fun.

We have a country filled with people who can't write a complete sentence.

We are racist to a huge fault.

And now we don't care.

Everything is out the window.

And finally, you know what I gathered after reading the 146 comments following Alec's bold statement?

None of the debating matters.

No one on that post changed anyone else's mind.

But Good Lord, don't stop posting your thoughts!

They're entertaining as hell.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Being A Dad

What's actually weird about parenting is that you get flashbacks to a time when the shoe was on the other foot.

I was driving Jake somewhere the other morning and I thought about sitting in his spot...Dad would have his songs on the radio...Sinatra or Ella or Dean.

I'd be sitting there, as a young man, wondering what he was thinking, talking as much as I could without spilling too much. Trying to get a conversation started about something.

We were listening to Bruce, of course as Jake and I made our way to his friends house.

Jake brought up the NCAA Tourney and we talked comfortably throughout.

Just as I had been able to do with my Dad, we can talk.

It was just the act of driving there that hit me.

And of course it goes too fast.

Buddy of mine asked me what I was doing the other day.

"Just watching hoops with the boys."

"Enjoy it," he said. "My girls aren't watching it with me this year. I wanted them to stay here, but they have things to do."

That right there bummed me out.

There will be a tourney sometime soon when I'm watching the games alone.

But we had a monumental day this week as Jake went for his road test.

I knew the exact moment when he was taking the test.

Kathy was sitting at the curb texting me about how it was playing out.

"I'm so nervous for him," she said. "He wants it so badly."

Jake is a good driver.

He lacks a little in the confidence area though and he gets way too nervous. Earlier in the day I had sent him a message:

"Walk tall or don't walk at all! You got this. Trust yourself!"

But we waited.

"He's back!" Kathy texted.

I waited, and waited and waited.

"AND?" I finally texted back.

I was saying a prayer to the God of Drivers...Ricky Bobby, I suppose.


I texted Jake immediately.

"I am so pumped!" He answered. "Let's go!!!"

And I thought back to my Dad again.

And all the times he encouraged me.

"Work hard. Do more than what's expected. Don't compete with anyone but yourself."

All messages he handed down.

Jake was looking for any excuse to drive the car all weekend long.

He even made a Tim Horton's run for a frozen lemonade and whatever hell else they all drink from there.

Then we sat together.

Two of three of the boys with me, watching hoops.

Being a Dad is a lifetime job...

...but it changes and evolves all the while.

Even when you feel like a kid yourself.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Between A Laugh And A Tear

Yesterday I thought of the Mellencamp line in that song:

"Sometimes life is just too ridiculous to live."

Now I don't think JCM was advocating suicide there...

...but there are certainly moments.

Let me break it down for you.

Woke to the message on my phone from my beautiful wife that said:

"Let me know when you're up."

Then she called.

The car had broken down.

She hadn't wanted to bother me with phone calls because I wasn't feeling great so she got a ride to work but now there was work to be done.

I scrambled around for the better part of two hours making sure that the vehicle was towed to a lot.

I still had some paperwork to do so I rushed back and just started to get to it when I heard some rage coming from downstairs.

"What's up?"

"My phone is broke!!!!"

That was coming from an 18-year old who couldn't possibly be expected to function without a phone for even thirty minutes.

That's when I thought of the Mellencamp line!

Eventually it all settled long enough for us to take a deep breath.

Sam, who is going for absolute sainthood, turned his phone over to his brother for a couple of days as the new one comes in.

The car is in the shop.

The sickness is thankfully starting to show signs of loosening its grip.

Our brackets are mostly shot though...

...but Sam summed it up.

"At least we have more games on today. And you have pasta."


Between a laugh and a tear.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

At Least You Have Your Health

A friend of mine has a wife who's battling some serious health problems. They're actually the same age as me so I was shocked to learn of her troubles.

A lot of folks our age are on meds for heart questions, blood pressure or high cholesterol.

As House famously reminded me:

"It won't end easy."

But overall, despite bad legs, I'm healthy.

Except since Wednesday.

Everyone in the house was suffering.

While I sympathized, I wasn't overly concerned.

I don't normally get colds or the flu.

I freaking got it this time!

I missed a day of work!!

As I suffered I thought of people toasting people's health at every turn.

We pray for each other.

"Stay Healthy!!" is a rallying cry.

Now, despite my awesome ability to whine when I'm not feeling well, I am fairly confident that I'll be back on my feet fairly quickly.

But I thought more about the people who eventually get sick enough to never get better.

I had even asked a nun about it back a whole bunch of years ago:

"Why do we get sick?"

"So we appreciate how good we feel when we're better," she said.

Wise nun.

She probably paddled me with a ruler shortly after that moment.


... that's today's lesson.

If you feel well today, appreciate it.

Even for a quick minute.

It could be a lot worse.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Take Your Kid to Work Day

Adam LaRoche is a first-baseman with the Chicago White Sox. He used to hit a lot of homeruns but last year he was on my fantasy team so he hit only 12 and stunk up the joint.

I was a little aggravated with him.

He recently floated the idea of retiring even though he's only 36 years old and he has a contract that pays him 13 million a year.

The reason why he's quitting?

The Sox management told him that he was going to have to leave his 14-year old son, Drake, home some days.

Seems that Drake traveled with the team, had his own locker, and even took batting practice. The kid went to school while pretending to be an actual pro baseball player.

Now to be fair, it seems that his teammates didn't have a problem with Drake being the 26th man, but maybe they just didn't want to bitch.

First off, it's a little weird, isn't it?

Adam LaRoche is being paid an absurd amount of money to do a job.

His employer asked him to dial it back.

So... he's gonna' quit??

There are people who are backing LaRoche, saying that he's sounding an alarm about being a being a good Dad.

Despite the fact that he ruined my fantasy team last year I'm trying to be fair.

His request is absurd.

I love my boys... but expecting that my employer to allow them to accompany me every day... is not actually feasible.

What if every player wanted to do the same thing?

What if one player wanted to bring his dog, or his wife, or his girlfriend?

The team has the right to set the rules.

Perhaps Drake can run the bases on father-son day like every other kid.

Maybe they can sign a ball for the kid and let him take it to school for show and tell.

Letting the kid have a locker?

Jamming him into the batting practice lineup?

Taking him on road trips?

The team has the right to tell Adam to leave Drake home.

Adam also has the right to quit.

Take your bat and go home... fantasy team won't miss you.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Happy Birthday to My Beautiful Wife!

Yesterday Sam made Kathy cry.

Our boy wrote a long, heartfelt letter explaining how much he appreciates all that she does for him...

...and for us.

Now Sam was feeling a little guilty because he knows that basketball is going to rule the day today as the NCAA Tournament starts. Hoops will be on the big television from noon until about midnight tomorrow.

Three boys and a couple of their friends...

...and Kathy's loving husband will have all eyes on all the games.

Which makes for a lonely birthday, right?

Well, suffice it to say that Sam spoke for all of us when he penned his words of appreciation.

We all love my beautiful wife!

Every day and not just on her birthday!

Let's think of why:

1). All of us are mechanically-challenged.

Severely mechanically-challenged.

There is at least one of us who struggles to turn on the television when the person before leaves it on Netflix. Yet the challenges don't end there. She has to change the light bulbs, fix the electronics and the house appliances.



Or what I have learned to yell instead:


2). She works hard.

The shift runs from 5 a.m. until 3 p.m.

An absurd shift when you consider that Kathy doesn't like to go to sleep early.

And then (see note above) the maintenance shift starts as soon as she walks through the door.

3). She's severely outnumbered.

We talk a lot of sports around the dinner table. The other night I was quizzing the boys about who leads the league in scoring. Everyone was taking a stab at it...except Kathy. Finally she chimed in:

"Wayne Gretzky."

A grand guess...and she's well aware that he retired about 15 years ago.

The other problem that she has when it comes to being outnumbered is that she is constantly exposed to being picked on.

Especially if she wants to share a work story.

Sam is the one who will allow it to happen.

"Did you save any lives today?" He'll ask.

And what's neat about it?

Sometimes she actually does save some people!

We just don't know who they are!

4). Her mood is usually good.

Tired. Aggravated. Pissed off.

We don't really get to see any of it.

Which speaks to how much she is appreciated and loved.

The even keel.

The loving Mom.

The beautiful wife.

My wife is the whole package!

Happy Birthday!!

We love you...even Melky told me that she loves you.

( work stories today...the games are on!).

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Case for Donald

I was having a conversation the other night with a good friend.

We were wondering what we were missing when it comes to those who are really, really passionate about getting Donald Trump elected.

I decided to see if I could figure out a way where it might actually work for me.

Point One - The Wall

Remember how the world rejoiced when the Wall came tumbling down in Germany?

Do you recall how everyone world-wide breathed a sigh of relief because it showed that we, as a species, were making progress.

A Wall, to me, appears to be extreme overkill.

We all got here somehow.

I loved the stories my grandfather told me about the family arriving here and how the work made us Americans. The great thing about America is that we are a melting pot of cultures.


They are coming over as rapists and drug-dealers and they are taking our jobs, our medical care and going to college on our dime! We care more for illegal immigrants than we do the veterans!!

Yeah...aggravating when put into those terms.

The Wall is the only way to stop them!!

The Verdict:

The wall is not really practical. Mexico will not pay for it. I'm not sure we really, really want it. Immigration needs to be handled properly. We have a program. It must be enforced. Enforcing it may be less expensive than building a wall that high and that wide. Might make us look better as well. I'm not for the Wall!

Point Two - The Chinese Are Killing Us!

We need to make good trades. We're bad at trades. We'll make such good trades as it goes along that we'll be sick of rolling around in all the money we have. We'll be picking the best jobs. We'll all be rich.

Well, there certainly has been a mass exodus and while the United States isn't quite in last place in regard to exports, and while the Chinese economy is struggling...

...The Donald is talking making great deals here.

He made great deals when he hired the cheapest labor he could find for every single project...great deals for him.

I would love to hear how these great deals are made because while there certainly are successes in his resume...there are also a whole bunch of bad deals too.


Not Enough Information Available.

Point 3 - Upsetting the Apple Cart

You know what my favorite thing about the Trump campaign has been?

He has turned the political world on its head.

The pat answers that were filled with absolute lies and empty promises are no longer good enough. Trump has made candidates be accountable for some of the things they have said. (It's too bad that it hasn't applied to his words, but hey, it's a start).

Trump reduced Jeb to a low-energy nub.

He attacked Rubio and Cruz and Christie and he's working on Bernie and Hillary.

He's talking like a regular Joe although he knows a whole lot of 'good' words.

Has he changed the political landscape forever?


He has.

There's little debate.

Will it be good for anyone?

I don't know.

Point 4 - The Media Sucks, protesters suck, women are pigs and dog-faces, and there are simply no apologies!

"He tells it like it is!" Is the one thing that I've heard time and time again by people who are casting their votes for the Donald.

Except when he is cornered.

Then he lies better than anyone.

You know why not a single thing has stuck?

Because he lied to weasel out of it.

And my least favorite thing about it is that not a single thing is off the table.

He wants people punched.

He speaks of groups of people in wide-sweeping racist tones.

His record with women is abysmal (although he recently said that women will vote for him in droves).

Verdict: The pettiness of Trump is vomit-inducing.

He takes to social media and fights everyone from Rosie to the Pope. He posts things and then when confronted with it...decides that he didn't mean exactly what it said.

It's the sole reason why there is not a chance in hell I can vote for him.

Point 5 - Gay Marriage, Abortion, Christian Values.

'We're Gonna' make American Great Again' is a stroke of genius as a rallying cry because it can't be quantified.

'We're going to take Our Country Back!' is also a wonderful talking point.

From whom are we taking our country back?

We're taking it back from those who want your guns, those who won't say 'Merry Christmas', those who want to ruin marriage with their strange unions, those who are pro-choice.


This is also dangerous as it has turned the whole thing into Us versus Them.

There has been a true problem in real discourse between the Libtards and the Gun-Toting Jesus Nuts...for a long time now.

It will get worse.

A lot worse.

"If he's elected there will be a civil war," one of the guys on the job said today.

I think that is an extremely accurate assessment.

I don't want one.

Some people do.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

My Favorite Author?

For years and years people have asked me who my favorite author is.

I have always answered:

"John Steinbeck."

When I first read East of Eden I was convinced that no one told a story better. The language just felt different when he was placing one word after another. I recall reading a paragraph a couple of times, knowing that there wasn't a single wasted word and that he was painting a perfect picture for me.

I read East of Eden again at least every other year even though I have committed most of the story to memory.

Steinbeck has mostly gems in his resume anyway.. so the answer was always easy.


But something weird happened the other night.

I was reading a book on my phone.

(Aside here...I always have two books going - one on my phone and one that is a physical book - I read both, often the same night, but sometimes it's more convenient to hold one or the two at a time!).

The book was a group of short stories - The Bazaar of Bad Dreams - by Stephen King.

And it hit me.

Stephen King may very well be my favorite author.

That hurts a little because he is a well-known Red Sux fan.

It's also a little weird because when people think Stephen King they think of the scary books.

He certainly does write horror better than anyone, but he writes a lot of stuff better than anyone.

I thought about The Stand (which is one of the three best books I've ever read).

I considered Misery which is the only book I picked up, read completely, and then put down.

One sitting!

I looked around my room.

Bag of Bones, Duma Key, Four Past Midnight, Everything's Eventual, 11/22/63

I've read every single thing that he's put out and only cringed a little at the Dark Tower stuff and cringed a whole lot at Tommyknockers (which really sucked)...

...but Stephen King.

He might just be my favorite author.

Can I answer that way if the question is posed to me?

Probably not.

I'll most likely still say Steinbeck.

(Can't quite get around that Red Sux stuff).

Monday, March 14, 2016

Let the Madness Begin

Sam had a sheet of paper that listed every single conference game with their start times and the television channels that were carrying the games. When Jake and Matt found the slip of paper (that looked a little like the Unabomber Manifesto) they teased Sam.

"Just getting the schedule worked out so I don't miss anything."

My beautiful wife made Sam show the schedule to me. I simply shrugged.

"Don't you think it's a little nutty?"

"I've done it myself," I said. "I use the same sort of paper in organizing my work now. It's nutty not to get it all in front of you."

What made me smile about all of it is that my brother, Jeff, was the exact same way as Sam.

The best week of the year??

Of course!

March Madness is more important to my boys than Christmas.

The Thursday and Friday games will be played, screamed about, pondered over and wildly cheered.

But we have a problem.

Kathy's birthday is Thursday!

The very first day of the tourney.

The day when the excitement about basketball is at its very peak.

"What do you want for your birthday?" Sam asked.

"For no one to watch basketball," she responded.

"Then we'll try again next year," Sam answered. "Because that ain't happening."

To this day Kathy remembers the year, before we were married, when I stopped watching the tournament long enough to go out and have birthday drinks with her.

"You loved me," she chides.

"There was a television directly behind you," I said. "I actually didn't miss a single play and I didn't hear a word you were saying."

(Which is definitely partially true).

"But you went!"

"We can go to dinner," I said.

"You'd skip the games with the boys?"


Kathy paused for a long while.

"We can order food and eat it at home. They're gonna' be fired up."

There will be madness.

Sam has his little slips of paper ready to go. He will have it all worked out so that we all know who will be in which bracket playing at what time on which channel.

"I'm so excited," he said to me the other day.

"You think?"

Sunday, March 13, 2016

A Culture of Violence

Read a whole lot on Saturday about the culture of violence being cultivated in our great nation.

Did you even notice the mass shooting in Pennsylvania this week?

Probably not... the story passed through the news cycle quickly.

Who knows how many were murdered in your city on Friday night.

We can't fix it, why give it too much of our time?

The violence at the political rally seemed worse to me somehow.

Its sad.

We are all Americans.

The liberals and the conservatives have that in common.

Hard to believe, right?

Despite the differences in thought, up until Friday night... there was just putrid, ugly discourse.

When those punches were thrown something slipped and it got a lot worse.

Now, I hope I'm wrong but it doesn't feel that way.

We may have tipped the balance.

Here's why I think that...

...the violence was not really denounced. The mouthpieces for both sides dug in.

The protesters got what they deserved as did the security.

All involved were proud of their violent stance.

Both sides lost.

The candidate is allowed to rally.

Protesters are allowed to attend.

Neither side should be allowed to throw a punch.

But therein lies the problem.

There's a movement afoot that explains that we need to be barbaric again.

We are too politically correct!

We need to tell it like it is!!

We need to punch people out if we feel like it!!!

Your human rights???

We may soon decide if they still apply.


We need it.

No matter where we stand on the political landscape.

"Violence never solved anything." My mother told me back about 48 years ago.

I always believed that to be true.

But Friday night may have been the night when such a stance placed me squarely in the "You're a pussy" camp.

Because those lines may eventually be drawn... if they aren't already...

...and that's really, really sad.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Strange Night!

What a strange night.

We had the Villanova game on at 6:30 so our house was a little upside down last night.

We get to watch every single 'Nova game with crazed nervousness.

Now, I'm not all that into the conference tournament games...never have been...I'm going to see the real Tourney next week...but try explaining it to Sam!

They HAVE to win every game.

So, we were watching as the unrest unfolded in Chicago.

"Are you watching this????" I was asked by text.

Now, unrest, in my lifetime has usually unfolded in the Middle East...

...not really here in the United States.

But make no mistake:

It was unrest.

At a Trump rally of all places!!!

How could there be unrest in a place where the man speaking once mentioned of a protester:

"I wish I could punch him in the face."

Or something along the lines of:

"I will pay the legal fees for anyone who beats up a protester."

I didn't switch to a news channel.

We just kept watching 'Nova beat Providence.

There might just be coverage of the rally during the course of the day today...

...but my heart did sink a little.

Welcome to the election for the highest office in the land.

Scary Weird.

But both sides hunkered down and made their loud, screaming points.

"I don't know what is going to happen to this country in your lifetime," I said to Jake.

"It's your generation that is nasty," he mentioned.

He's right.

Perhaps peace will take hold when we're done arguing.

The 'Nova game gave way to the St. Bonaventure game.

Matt took a bus to Brooklyn for it.

They were comfortably ahead when I decided to watch Dateline instead.

I missed the end of Dateline as I am prone to do.

I also missed the St. Bonaventure melt down.

We're gonna' have one loud, obnoxious kid around here and one subdued, peaceful hurting kid.

Kinda' sounds like the presidential race.

And tonight we spring ahead!

The fun continues!!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Stop Arguing!!!

My conscious decision for 2016 was to avoid long, drawn-out debates on social media about any and all subjects.

I must admit that it is not quite as easy as it sounds.

Partly because I was trained to argue any and everything.

My Dad made us argue...he wanted us to think about all sides of a subject.

I purposely followed the same script with my boys.

You have no idea how many times that I have argued a point that I don't believe in just to make them wonder if there is some validity in how others are seeing things.

It's good for them.

But still, I got tired of being caught in an argument I had no chance of winning with a total stranger who has no idea what the difference is between 'your' or 'you're' or 'there', 'they're' or 'there'.

Or 'two', 'to' or 'too' for that matter.


I was doing okay too.

I argued a little about Shady McCoy and his involvement in the beatdown of an off-duty cop, but from January through March I steered clear of guns, Drumpf and Obama discussions.

Until Wednesday.

On Tuesday night, I read an article about Nancy Reagan's funeral.

Nancy Reagan was a fine first lady who was class personified in all of her dealings. She was even forward-thinking enough to plan her final services and in the article I read it stated that her funeral would be an invitation-only event that would almost certainly exclude President Obama.

When I read that article I braced for what I knew I would see the next day.

"Obama is a disgrace!"

"What a piece of %$$&!!"

These posts would be coming from a group who had a coronary when Natalie Maines bashed the sitting president back when George W. was in charge.

"Have respect for the office!!!" Those people screamed then.

As we know...the respect for the highest office in the land is non-existent now.

Anywhoha again...

I couldn't take it.

I argued on social media.

"He wasn't invited," by me, was met with utter disdain.

"Why isn't he invited? Goes to show you that he's a disgraceful POS!!!!"

Why bother?

It just galled me.

Back to your regularly scheduled program.

I got it off my chest.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Landis Sims - New York Yankee

It's not breaking news that the Yankees are trying to get younger.

Yesterday the 27-Time World Champion Greatest Franchise in the History of Organized Sports signed 10-year-old Landis Sims to a contract.

There's Landis.

He was born without hands or lower legs, but the Yankees signed him and assigned him a locker at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Landis' locker was between pitchers C.C. Sabathia and Delin Betances.

Landis also participated in team drills and all the Yankees made Landis feel right at home.

There is so much garbage in the world.

Even in the sports world all we ever hear about is the star athlete punching a cop, or driving loaded, or clubbing his girlfriend.

Leave it to the Yankees to rise above.

I can imagine the fun Landis had stretching on the field with professional athletes.

I know that they made him feel right at home.

Landis wore a Tanaka jersey on the field.

He played catch.

He stretched with A-Rod.

A signed contract.

Congrats to Landis...

...and to the Yankees.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

What Was 1984 Like?

In 1984 I was twenty-two years old.

A college student.

A union laborer.

On summer break and on winter breaks as well, I worked construction. Dad usually got me settled into the job well in advance of my break and when it came time to take that break from studies...

...I busted my ass.

(Truth be told...I wasn't actually studying all that hard - school was the break).


...I made a great wage during those days.

Enough to help my parents pay for that college tuition. Enough to not have to take out loans that would stretch over the next 40 years. Enough to buy over-priced books and to have a little beer money when classes started again.

Well...1984 is a lot like 2016 because - and get this!

People make the SAME money now as they did then!

Not comparable money increased for inflation...

...the same exact wage!

I wasn't shocked when I read the article that filled everyone in on the news.

In fact, I have been yelling about it for a long while now.

There is no increase in wages for the common man.

So what does that mean?

Someone is getting rich!

Real rich!!

But here's the miraculous part:

The people who have grudgingly accepted the same wage have settled in on welfare recipients as the problem!


The people who don't have any money blame the people who have even less money than that for the money problems.


Bernie Sanders is perceived to be a bit of a nut.

People equate socialism with communism.

But let this sink in and really think about it:

Someone who is 30 years old in 2016 is making the same hourly wage, for the same job, as someone who was 30 years old in 1984!

And we aren't even discussing the overpriced laborers from that day.

But one other truth be known:

I've earned every dime that's passed through my hands.

Dad made sure I had work.

I made sure I worked harder than anyone ever dreamed I could.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Happy Birthday Carrot!

Carrie sent me a video of her and Paige at the Bruce concert.

They were singing Rosalita right along with The Boss.

As I watched the video the first thought that popped into my head was:

Wow! They're both so pretty!

Carrie and her beautiful daughter!

My relationship with my sister has always been one of ease, admiration and mutual respect.

I think she's a better writer than me.

She thinks I'm better.

I've always admired her strength, her humor and her ability to punch back when things get weird and a bit of a mess.

She says I'm like the narrator in the Bruce 'The Wrestler' song.

We've always had a lot of laughs.

And you know, I'm not quite sure how old Carrie is today...

...because she's always young to me.

She's my little sister!

My brilliant





Little sister.

Happy Birthday, Carrot.

We love you!!

Monday, March 7, 2016

A-Rod Hit A Homer

On his first swing of the spring A-Rod hit a home run.

No big deal in early March, of course, but what was cool about it?

I received a notification on my phone.

And I knew that it was on!

Baseball season is just a matter of a few weeks away.

A couple of nights ago Sam sat at the kitchen table and I thought I'd play a little quiz game with him.

I asked him to name the top 5 NCAA Tournament teams as we head towards March Madness.

He rattled off the top 5 so I asked him to go six through ten.

He got them.

We all laughed.

"Eleven?" I asked.

He went eleven through twenty, only holding on to think for about six seconds.

We laughed some more.

"Can you do twenty through twenty-five?"

He got 'em.

Sam is ready to fill out his brackets!

Baseball offers me a stress release on a nightly basis.

Knowing that it will soon be back will allow me some order in what has been a very busy start to the year.

"Who's pitching tonight?"

But's Sam's time.

"I'm off school on the 18th," he reminded me.

"Teacher's conference?" I asked.

"Day two of the tourney!"

And while I'm not sure that will be allowed...

...he may have a dentist appointment for about 12:05.

The excitement of spring comes around just once a year...

...and A-Rod already got that first dinger out of the way.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

What A Strange Week

Saw Erin Andrews crying on the stand as she sues the hotel for $75 million for allowing a guest to alter the peephole and take photos of her naked. He then sold the photos and made them readily available to anyone who wanted to look at them.

And millions of people did!

Listened to the story about the knife found in OJ's yard and thought about Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman and how they were just fodder for the story.

Watched the political battle rage on.

And in the middle of it all, talked to my Mom about it.

"What is going to happen to this world?" she asked. "Presidential candidates talking about their...their...their...peckers?"

I laughed.

"I think about Kennedy and how we looked up to him as a leader. Hell, they've all been at least a little presidential."


When you think about the new normal, I guess.

And to hear people speak now about Kennedy, or Clinton, or any of them, really...there were things hiding in the closet...

...but those things stayed in the closet, right?

For the most part?

They weren't front and center.

And that's what we have now.

Front and center...bitterness and hatred going back and forth...anger and rage...everyone is mad.

Strange week.

Yet, when I watched Erin Andrews cry on the stand as she detailed what that pervert did to her life I was struck by the idea that there are true feelings behind the nasty words and the horrific actions.

People suffer when selfish things are done.

It hurts them.

Andrews was made fun of in some of the social media circles.

There was actually an argument about whether or not her career gained momentum because her naked body was shared, saved, downloaded and shared some more.

There are people out there who suffer when a man running for president mocks a disabled man.

The family of Ronald Goldman and Nicole Brown suffers every single time O.J. is on television or in the news.

What is going to happen to this world?

Probably nothing, I imagine.

We'll adjust on the fly.

Things may even swing a little ways back to compassion and understanding...

...but it will be a long walk home... what we once knew as honorable.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Small Hands...Huge Mouth

I watched the GOP debate on Thursday night.

Well, as much as I could take.

What a freaking fiasco!

Are you kidding me?

The men running for president are talking about small hands...small other things and then they are denying such claims?

Sorry, folks.

I thought that Trump running would be good for a few laughs.

I'm not laughing much anymore.

It's kinda' turning my stomach.

When he was pressed for policy on a number of issues he couldn't stay out of his own way.

He's for keeping all immigrants out of the country. We know that. He's gonna' make Mexico build a wall to the moon. Except, during the debate he said that smart immigrants will be welcomed. An hour after the debate he clarified his remarks saying that no immigrants will be allowed and everyone will be deported.


He's for more torture across the board. He came out and said that he would send his troops after the families of some of the terrorists. When it was explained that doing so would be a war crime and that his generals wouldn't carry out such acts he explained they would because he's in charge.

Later on he explained that he understands why he can't just kill people who may be related to the alleged terrorists, but he double-down on the fact that there's no such thing as torture.

He didn't denounce David Duke right off the bat because he was trying to think through how he could keep some of the votes of the known racists.

Hey, a vote is a vote.

Then the man who tells it like it is said that he didn't hear the question even though he repeated the question!

He's made fun of McCain, Rubio, Cruz, Bernie, Hillary, George W., Bill Clinton, Obama, the Pope, people who suffer with disabilities, women, Mexicans, Muslims and finally, reporters.

When pressed to release tapes about a conversation he had with a NY Times reporter he said that he wouldn't do it because he has too much respect for the reporter-interviewee relationship.

This after saying that the NY Times is a rag because it is partially owned by a rapist...err...Mexican!

But still...

People are considering voting for him!

Millions of people!

What in the name of all that is holy is going on?

"Well it's better than Hillary," a lot of people have posted.


Look and listen to what he's been saying.

That's not a candidate.

He's a raving lunatic!

And he's orange!!

He's freaking orange.

That's enough to stop this movement right there.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Seven %&$#@ Years

I miss my brother every day.

It's 7 years today.

I still shake my head in disbelief at least three times a day.

My heart aches when I think of his children missing him...

...and my children missing him.

So many of us missing him.

Every single day.

And I bless his photo each day...

...the sign of the cross...

...and I talk to him as if he were still here to share things.

And sometimes I wonder if that's a healthy way to grieve.

A lot of wondering.

And yeah.

Today marks seven @#$%& years...

...but the pain hasn't changed much...

...and the love is so alive.

The love will never fade.

"Is there a light up ahead... well, brother, I don't know...

...but I'll see you...

...Further on up the road."

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Jethro's BBQ and Pork Chop Grill

I had wanted to try Jethro's BBQ and Porck Chop Grill on my last trip to Iowa.

I made it happen this time.

Check that menu.

I was staring in wild wonder and my waitress, Sara, asked me why I was grinning like an idiot. I told her all about my Uncle Jim who was a true pork chop king.

I explained that we had banter about pork chops that went round and round.

She laughed.

I ordered the double cut stuffed chop and the gravy that it was served with made me was way too good.

Sara stopped by the table to see how I was doing.

I was nearly done with the chop.

I explained how wonderful it was and we started discussing the fact that I was there in honor of Uncle Jim and perhaps I should have another... know... for him and one for me.

"Do it!" I said.

Sara was back a little while later.

I finished both chops.

Make the trip!

Ankeny, Iowa!

Jethro's Rules!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

People Are the Same

Hanging around the airport affords you with a lot of time to observe.

Observing people is a very comfortable task for me.

Of course, in this day and age I am graced with the very top of everyone's heads as they bow to read their phones, and we are living in an amazing age that allows us to watch a movie, whenever and wherever we want.

The guy beside me on the plane watched Ted 2. I have seen the movie so my eyes were drawn to it despite the fact that I was holding a paperback.

Which reminds me...I only saw about six others reading from an actual book.

Yet despite all the devices and the screens everywhere...I did hear snippets of actual conversations.

It is absolutely impossible to get away from the presidential election so we all have something in common there and the same words being spoken in New York are being spoken in Iowa and Missouri.

"Trump will make us win," a lady behind me said to her travel mate.

"He's an idiot," the guy said.

That conversation began as we all looked up at the orange guy ranting on the television above us.

The two strangers began arguing about the nonsense.

I decided to listen in on the people across the way.

They were discussing the weather. One loved the cold; the other hated it.

Two guys in the restaurant were talking NBA. One loved Curry; the other loved LeBron.

We all have defined arguments at the ready...

...on every subject!!!

That's what I'm learning.

We aren't discussing anything anymore...

....we all know better than the guy next to us.

And it's the same everywhere!

There is too much information around. Talking heads telling us what to think. Opinions formed and etched in stone.

The hell with everything else!!

It appears to me that everyone thinks they're thinking but they really aren't.

They're parroting... misinformation in a lot of instances.

Put out a meme with a photo of Obama and write whatever you want!

Someone, somewhere will accept it as truth, put it on their timeline and then spout it as truth.

I sat in a huge room, just looking around at all the heads bowed to their screens.

People are doing the same thing everywhere.

We might be in serious trouble.

Ideas and real critical thinking are dead.

But everyone feels smarter and more informed.

I went back to the book I was reading.

As usual, I felt more comfortable with a book or pen in my hand.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Swearing in Public

We were watching the O.J. Simpson mini-series and Marcia Clark said the F-word!

Awwwwwww.....I'm telling!

It made me think of being young and hearing one of my siblings say it.

"She can't say that on regular t.v.," my beautiful wife commented.

The curse hadn't even registered with me.

I work in an industry where the F-word is the favored word.

It is spoken more so than any other word.

You sneak up on a conversation and every single guy is saying it and every single other guy is answering that way.

I'm the only safety speaker who says it a lot, but I am often times tasked to bring such humor to the proceedings, and I try my best to judge the crowd. I will often mention that I will try not to curse but that something might 'slip the F&*k out.'

The people who hire me know that I rarely work clean.

No one ever complains about my use of the word as I present my material.

In fact, it brings great humor to most of the proceedings.

"You can do it clean and still be really funny," one of the other speakers said to me in Vegas.

"What's the f&*%ing difference?" I asked.

And here's the thing:

I don't ever curse at home in front of the kids.

It isn't a part of my every day conversation at my house and I stop the kids from getting a little too salty in their discussions.

Langauge is a tool. Bad language is still a tool.

But the outrage over words is lost on me unless it's a blatant display in front of a bunch of women or children.

And there are certainly words that should never be brought out of the tool bag.

What kills me are the shows where they try and play it clean.

One character is livid at the other:

"Forget you!"

Did you ever hear someone say 'Forget You' in every day speech?

I write in the way that people speak as well.

It is ridiculous to think that two bad guys would be trying to temper their language when the bullets are flying.

But there certainly is a time and place for such things.

A man swearing non-stop on a public bus?

The overuse of certain words in rap songs?

There is a time and a place to be sure.

Marcia Clark would have certainly called Orenthal a F&*^lng piece of s&*t.

Will the FCC ever just let it go on regular broadcast television?

Or do they believe that no one is seeing it in every other form of social media?

It's a weird thing.

Language police.

They're still out there.

Happy Birthday, To One of the Dopes

The funny thing about your kids getting older is that as a parent, you have all the goods. Today Matt is 25 years old (I’m pretty sure - w...