Sunday, July 31, 2016

Khizr Kahn

There was a very worthy speech at one of the conventions after all.

Khizr Kahn took the stage at the DNC and thoroughly captured all that is right in America as he also reminded us all that is wrong.

His son, was killed in service of the country during the Iraq war.

Kahn's family is Muslim-American.

Which makes it a "complicated" issue for all who want to sell the story that every Muslim wants to kill Americans.

That kid died a hero...trying to defend American principles in a war that was most likely misguided.

How can that story be spun into anything other than tragic?

A young Muslim gone, defending America.

And Dad was understandably angry with the candidate who wants to ban all Muslims from entering a country that is based on the principles that America is for all.

Kahn actually waved a copy of the constitution at the podium and offered it to the candidate who stands in opposition to all Muslims based on the actions of a few.

How do the people of hate take apart that passion-filled speech?

How would that be possible?

Not even the hate-filled candidate could bash a kid who died in service of the country...

...even though he was Muslim, right?

Well, for the most part...

...all involved, in both parties, were on the side of courage and recognized the tragedy.

Except for Ann Coulter.

She sent out a hate tweet bashing Kahn for his accent.

Further illustrating what is wrong with everything.

Coulter has always been a loudmouth and she normally yells out ugly, nasty things that are demeaning to groups of people.

She knew nothing of the pain and suffering...but spoke anyway.

She had absolutely nothing productive to add to the conversation...but tweeted anyway.

And then the Donald responded in a truly vile way by implying that Kahn's wife wasn't speaking because she's not allowed to.

Trump couched it as he usually does by saying, "He's not saying that, but some people are."

He's not even brave enough to say the disgusting crap he's saying.

People who were looking to hang onto their hate...had a place to go to do that.

As an American and as a Dad I could really feel for Kahn and his family.

I'm not Muslim, but I could identify with the man on a different level.

And therein lies the problem.

We all have agendas.

We all get passionate about certain things...

...we will all disagree.

Disagreement isn't always bad when it comes in a democracy...

...but it is when it's shrouded in hate.

Kahn and his family should be proud to be American and may their son rest in peace.

Coulter, Trump and all who think like them should be ashamed...

...and if they read that copy of the United States Constitution they should be embarrassed...

...about how un-American they are.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Mellencamp Does One

Earlier this week I was driving around and listening to the Big Daddy record by Mellencamp. Immediately my mind clicked back to the day that the record came out. I was living in New Haven, Connecticut. I lived alone. I was 23 years old. I worked long hours at my first real construction job, and I was writing. I was actually writing the book, Desperation, which was about poverty. It was an ambitious book. And wouldn't you know it, Mellencamp had written and released a song about the very subject. Jackie Brown is a song that stopped me in my tracks. I distinctly recall the first time it came through the speakers. The lyrics weren't included in the CD sleeve so I had to stop the song and scratch down the lyrics. Just a great song. There are so many people who suffer, all their lives, just trying to keep their head above the water line. They should not be disposable members of our society. Somehow we have to get them out of the cycle.


Jackie Brown - By John Mellencamp

Is this your life, Jackie Brown?
Poorly educated and forced to live on the poor side of town.

Is this your daughter, Jackie Brown?
This pretty little girl
In the worn out clothes
That have been hand-me downs.

Is this your wife, Jackie Brown?
With sad blue eyes, walking on eggshells so you don't see her frown.

Is this your family, Jackie Brown?

Dream of vacationing on a mountain stream
And giving the world more than it gave you.
What ugly truths freedom brings
And it hasn't been very kind to you.

Is this your life, Jackie Brown?

Is this your meal, Jackie Brown?
Barely enough, I've seen people throw more than this out.

Is this your home, Jackie Brown?
This three-room shack
With no running water
And the bathroom out back.

Is this your grave, Jackie Brown?

This little piece of limestone that says another desperate man took
Himself out.

Is this your dream, Jackie Brown?

Going nowhere and nowhere fast
We shame ourselves to watch people like this live.

But who gives a damn about Jackie Brown?

Just another lazy man who couldn't take what was his.

One helluva life Jackie Brown.

Forevermore, Jackie Brown

Amen and amen - Jackie Brown?

Songwriters: JOHN MELLENCAMP
© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
For non-commercial use only.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Dumb!

The Democratic convention is going on this week.

I have held tight to my policy of not listening to any of them speak.

Doesn't matter the party...I don't want to hear what is going to be made great.

It's all kind of Dumb.

But the conventions have changed now.

Now we also get the live tweeting before and after the actual speakers are speaking.

From one side we had about what a great speech it is...

...from the other side we hear how awful it is.

It's all so DUMB!

What I don't get now, and perhaps it was always this way, but there is absolutely no compromise on either side of the aisle.

It's either my way, or you're DUMB!

(Usually it's sent as 'your dumb' which makes the person sending it that way...DUMB!)

Here is my take-away:

Using the wrong e-mail server for classified info - DUMB!

Inviting the Russian Government to dig through American material - DUMB!!

Building a wall - DUMB!!!

Not following immigration procedures to ensure that it isn't a free for all - DUMB!!!

Calling all cops racist - DUMB!!@!

Blasting an entire race or an entire religion - DUMB!!!

So why are our leaders or want-to-be-leaders...

...SO Damn Dumb?

And is it all as bad as it is being made out to be?

Doom and gloom and arguing and complaining and whining...

...isn't a strategy!

It's just Dumb!!!

And it is happening constantly!

"So tired of all this political shit," my beautiful wife said as she flipped through the channels the other night.

She doesn't pay much attention to any of it, while I fill up my head with the complaints of each side.

"You have to pay attention to some of it," I tried.

"Why?" She asked. "It's all garbage. One is dumber than the other."

And what is going to happen is going to happen.

Cast your vote.

Keep your dumbness to yourself.

Control your rage and anger for the 'other side'

because this constant division is...

...all together now...

DUMB!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Time Away

Burnout is a real thing.

We all have jobs where we hustle...at least I hope most of us do...and when the intensity is amped up for long stretches of time...well, something has to give.

I was there.

So, we talked of getting away.

I have a dream, shared with my brothers, to get back to San Francisco some day and look at the work we did out there about 30 years ago.

That trip fell through.

So we talked about catching the Yankees in Florida and catching some sun...

...but the sun is here!

We stayed home.

Kind of.

"We need to plan some fun activities," I told my beautiful wife.

And so far, so good.

Breakfast out nearly every day.

Buffalo does have nice hotel rooms, that change the environment.

Dinner at one of my favorite Italian places.

We checked out good wings at Mammosers.

I even played golf for the first time in 6 weeks...and despite continued back and leg pain...I hit the ball well...and survived it.

And the running joke has been about the "activities".

At Camp Clifford, evidently, fun activities go on all the time.

I'm just not around to participate.

I've attended a few events this week, and I've done my best to NOT say:

"We have to do this, or that."

I've let things go!

Which is difficult for me.

And so far...thoughts of what needs to be done have kind of cracked the periphery...but I've pushed them aside.

Because we all need to decompress from time to time.

It's a difficult lesson for me.

Truly.

But I'm trying!

"The dogs bowl needs water," I mentioned to one of the campers as they moved by me.

"I'll get it," he said. "You just relax."

Giving it a shot!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Tripe

Taking a little break...

...so, of course I caught Kelly Ripa on Monday morning before going out for potato pancakes with eggs!

Christian Slater was the guest host (although I should be in that chair) and he spoke about going out to a restaurant and trying new foods.

He tried tripe..

...and hated it.

Well, Christian, I've been there.

Dad and John, for sure, and Uncle Jim and possibly Jim...

...love tripe!

I did try it.

Once.

Now, of course, Dad made it with his sauce...so it smelled great.

But it was like chewing on rubber.

Awful-tasting rubber!

Whenever I think of tripe I go back in my mind a whole bunch of years.

Mom and the girls were gone. It was just Dad and the boys.

"I'll make tripe," Dad said.

They knew I was out.

Jim and John were in.

Jeff was on the fence, but like me, he wanted to like it.

He was only about 5 years old.

He took a forkful and promptly spit it across the table.

BLEECH!!!

We all laughed.

Lucky there was plenty of pasta left.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Half-Truths, Rumors & Outright Lies

Depending upon what you believe there is truth to the following items:

1). Ted Cruz's father ate breakfast with Oswald on the morning of the JFK assassination.

Is this true or false?

Depends on who you ask. Donald Trump believes it. Ted Cruz says it's idiotic.

And yet it is out there....so everyone on social media can use it to create their memes and further their arguments.

Verdict:

This doesn't appear to have any basis in truth.

2). Obama is a Muslim who has always been plotting to overthrow the American Government.

This one has been around ever since we were introduced to Obama.

Hell! He has a terrorist name!

His middle name is always used when someone is trying to prove this one. Obama has no interest in helping Americans. Before he leaves office...his motives will be crystal clear.

Verdict:

Really? If you believe this...you're a mess. Delete your accounts. Go back to school. Stop talking.

3). Trump raped a 13-year old.

There may be charges raised against Trump here.

Does that mean it's true?

No one believed anything against Cosby...and yet...it's curious to say the least.

It has been quiet for years. He's in the limelight. Now the rumors begin.

Verdict

The media hasn't jumped at this one. Charges are often brought against famous people.

Is it possible?

I hope not.

4). Hillary is a murderer.

This one has been repeated over and over. Someone close to the Clinton's committed suicide. It was investigated...found not true.

Then there is Benghazi.

Clinton was Secretary of State.

Did she do the right thing?

Obviously it was a tragedy...

...but mass murderer?

Verdict:

There have been 43 embassy attacks resulting in hundreds of deaths.

Quick.

Name the other Secretary of States who were judged to be a murderer in the other 42.

Ridiculous and irresponsible.

5). 9/11 was an inside job.

Books, blogs, groups, clubs and fake news groups have spent time on this issue.

Bush & Cheney cooked it up so they could steal millions by going into Iraq and grab oil.

It's amazing to me how much traction this has gained. Jesse Ventura swears that America killed their own for financial gain.

How did those buildings explode like that?

How come some key people were kept clear of the towers that day?

The conspiracies are wild.

Verdict:

I have listened...I must confess...do I believe it?

In a word: "No."

Of course we never receive all the information, but I can't believe that our government is THAT evil.

I don't want to believe it!!!

6). The Shootings Are Staged.

There are people out there who believe that al of the mass shootings are staged by the government in an effort to come for the guns of all Americans.

These people believe that the shooting scenes are staged and that all those who are interviewed are actors.

"They" supposedly have casting calls.

"They" hire people to play witnesses, dead people, and even the police.

Yep.

Then "They" are gathering information to grab guns.

Verdict:

Ridiculous.

Simply ridiculous.

The overall verdict

STOP IT!!!!!!!!!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Temper, Temper!

Chris Sale is a really good pitcher for the Chicago White Sox.

Evidently he is also something of a hot head.

On Saturday he was sent home by the team for cutting up the uniforms that the team was supposed to wear for the game. They were throwback uniforms that Sale didn't like because they caused him to feel differently as he pitched.

So he cut them to threads!

I also read a story about Ray Rice, the football player who punched his girlfriend in the face, on film.

He's been blackballed by the NFL.

He says that he'd play for free.

Still no takers.

Sometimes we are blinded by anger...

...we've all been there.

But how we handle it can define the rest of our days.

Count to ten!

Scream 'Serenity now!'

I used to have a temper that I wasn't great at controlling. I control it now...but sometimes...when I get extremely frustrated...I will sound off.

"We don't listen to you," Sam said.

"You'll be all right."

And usually I am.

We have a history of flash tempers in our family...

...Jake has always had a touch of it.

I think back to him going off over a video game when he was about four.

"Is he all right?" Kathy asked after I had gone in to check on him after the episode was over.

He had trashed his room like Keith Moon during the Who's heyday.

He was on his bed, looking at the results of his destruction.

"You wrecked your stuff," I said.

"I'm better now," he said.

I'm sure that Chris Sale feels a bit like a dope now.

Ray Rice is definitely remorseful.

The lesson, I guess, is to stay in control.

And if you can't...

...stop just before you make an ass out of yourself!

Believe me.

I've been there!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Buy or Sell???

The Yankees have been mediocre all year.

In fact, I've had to endure about 25 people a week busting my...err...chops about it.

I'm still watching, of course, and I'm more irritated about the people asking me:

"Are the Yankees going to trade everyone?"

Than I am about the mediocrity.

I looked up the standings for July 22, 1978.

The Yankees were in 4th place. 10 games behind the Suck Sux.

This year they are also in 4th place. Roughly 5 games out.

The 1978 team won the World Series.

"This team isn't good enough," everyone tells me now.

Uh, they were saying the same thing in '78.

But it's about more than baseball.

Baseball is always about more than baseball to me.

These Yankees stumbled out of the gate.

I have heard that they need to cut bait and trade everyone for 3 months now.

Yeah...since about the middle of April, people were already giving up.

We live in that kind of a world.

Fight with the wife?

Get a new one.

Don't like your boss?

Quit.

As for sports...

...fire everyone!

Dump this guy!

Trade that guy!!

Now, that's not to say that there isn't some value to getting younger somehow...

...building for the future isn't a bad idea.

I just hate when people just quit at the first sign of trouble.

Something inside wants me to let them ride it out.

Sink or swim...show me!

And I'm okay if they don't win the World Series on any given year.

I really am.

I love the sport.

I'd watch them if they were 40 games out.

And I wouldn't give up.

Now, as for the Bills?

Fire them all!!!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

1968

I was three years old during convention season back in 1968.

If I watched it back then I don't really remember what was said.

But I was listening to Tom Brokaw talk about that convention.

"If we think we have problems now," he said. "We're forgetting what '68 was like."

RFK and MLK had been murdered.

The civil unrest back then makes what is happening now seem like a pillow fight.

Blacks were elbowing for their basic human rights.

Viet Nam was a confusing war.

Richard Nixon chose Spiro Agnew.

We survived.

It seems like everywhere you go these days you hear about people being angry.

1968 was even worse...or so says Brokaw.

He spoke about it being his very first convention. He wondered if it would be his last.

"And think about it. A matter of months later we were unified as Americans as man walked on the moon."

We will be unified again some day.

I do believe that.

Viet Nam is in the rearview mirror. It's a scar on America.

We did survive.

Today we have Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter and All Lives Matter.

We will survive this as well.

I'm not quite sure how.

But surely we will unify in love and kindness to one another.

Won't we?

Tom Brokaw believes it to be true.

He watched us ride out the storm in '68.

He reminded us all that it was worse back then.

"I've never seen things so bad," one guy said to me the other day.

Well, we've been there.

We just forget it.

Friday, July 22, 2016

I Went to Public School

In one of the speeches at the convention the speaker took a few minutes to bash the public school system in America, blaming it, apparently, for the ills of the country.

I don't know the reason for the angst, but I do know that I'm a product of the public school system.

Most of the people I know, also were veterans of the public school system.

Why the attack on it now?

The speaker took a few minutes to bash teachers and tenure. The speaker was a private school attendee and extolled the virtues of his privileged upbringing.

There are a few things I do know though:

1). Teachers deserve praise and they deserve to be paid like professionals.

I had some great teachers. As a teenager, I respected them...and I learned plenty. I had four great English teachers. I loved the subject, of course, but they took the time to teach me. The effort was there...their effort and mine.

There were teachers who turned into lifelong friends after school was over. Many days, I think back on some of the lessons learned...some 30-some years later.

2). Short Days & Summers off.

The dedicated teachers put in way more time than you think.

You think teaching is easy, try standing in front of a room-filled of people on a day when you haven't pre-planned. I taught a creative writing class for awhile and I tried to mail it in one evening...

...about ten minutes in I knew I was cooked.

There's time involved before the class, after the class. During the summer, over winter break.

And that's with an audience that wants to be there.

There are a lot of kids that don't want to be there.

Trying to teach them anything is nearly impossible.

3). Bare Bones.

Like anything else...

...if there's money there...

...someone will try and steal it.

What has happened that has crippled the public school system is that the money has been stripped.

At least from my point of view.

Teachers buying their own supplies.

Baseball teams sharing equipment with neighboring schools.

The budgets are tight.

The teachers, like a whole bunch of other working people, saw their wages freeze.

The quality of teacher has diminished.

Less pay, less motivation...

...and the ones who suffer?

The kids.

4). Separation.

It was sort of implied in the privileged speakers speech, but not actually said:

We have to separate people into their own little groups.

White kids with white kids.

Poor kids with poor kids.

Let's keep everyone in their own little worlds.

One of the truly educational things about attending public school is that there was some diversity.

I grew up in a small town.

We didn't have a lot of minorities.

But we had kids of all classes.

Middle-income kids, poor kids, kids of farmers, kids of professionals. We all got to know each other. We learned to interact.

Where am I going with this?

I don't know, actually.

I don't know where the speaker was going either.

Other than to complain, without offering a solution, the speaker simply bashed the public school system and said:

"It's broken."

Not sure that a man who was fed with a silver spoon should be the expert we consult on the state of the public school system.

It should probably be studied by someone who actually knows:

'Cause I don't think it's as broken as he might think.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

A Better Reason

What's really funny to me is that every time I get back into my car after my beautiful wife uses it...

...E Street Radio is on.

I usually listen to shows...Howard, Opie & Jim, Jenny McCarthy and Jay Thomas.

So, Bruce was on when I stepped in for a ride.

It was a concert from last month and it was just Bruce on the piano singing a song from 1972...For You.

Ive heard the song about 10,000 times in 44 years and that might be a conservative estimate.

But Bruce was taking his time with it and hitting each word hard.

(Listen to the words).

Remember how I kept you waiting, when it was my turn to be the God.

Is an amazing line...in a relationship.

The expectations of each person.

He is supposed to be the god to her...

...and never gets there.

An exceptional line.

And then the end of the relationship is spelled out this way:

So you left to find a better reason than the one we were living for.

I love words and especially love when someone puts them in the right order.

The Yankees were on and I had my phone set up to listen to it...

...but I kept listening to the words.

What a great couple of sentences those are.

And my mind wandered as the song changed.

I'll go to the Yankees when a bad song comes on. I thought.

And I thought about intellectual property.

Bruce wrote those lines.

I'm sure they took him hours to craft.

That's why they shouldn't just be stolen...by someone...passing it off as their own thought.

Bob Dylan has a line that is kind of similar and makes me think every time I hear it:

We always did feel the same; we just saw it from a different point of view.

I tried to explain it to Kathy one day.

"I could think about that line for hours," I said.

"You're freaking weird," she answered.

Guess we're seeing it from a different point of view.

Listen to the words!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Clown Show

That's all I can think of...

...whenever I consider politics and the conventions and the elections and just all of it.

So sick of it all already and it's only freaking July!!

And it's just not the stealing of the speech.

(Which certainly happened).

It's every talking head everywhere!!

And these shows are cute.

They put a pro-Clinton expert against a pro-Trump expert.

This is how it goes:

Narrator: "So we're here to talk about your policy on keeping America safe. What is your policy?"

Pro-Trump Supporter: "Well don't ask Clinton. She's a mass murderer."

Pro-Clinton Supporter: "And don't ask Trump. He's a reality star host and he's a racist."

Narrator: "Neither of you brought up anything about policy."

PTS: "Benghazi. That's Clinton's policy. People died."

PTC: "Trump likes his prisoners not captured."

(They both start shouting).

PTS: "Mr. Trump has a good, good policy. He's gonna' unveil it, soon."

PTC: "I think Hillary's record speaks for itself."

Narrator: "So there you have it! The policies of the candidates!"

Garbage!

Stop it!!

Go Away!!!

We've heard enough.

We'll come out and vote in November of you don't say another word.

Or maybe we won't.

But it's all useless.

It's a waste of time.

Stealing speeches?

Cackling about what you're gonna' do?

I don't care anymore...

...how about you?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Stir the Pot

There is tension in the air.

I don't think that any American would deny that.

Perhaps we can also agree that killing people is bad.

All together now?

You know who everyone should be mad at?

The people doing the killing!!!

Still with me?

Killing cops is wrong.

Shooting people dead at a traffic stop is also a tad harsh.

But you know what's really killing us???

Fanning the flames!!

It doesn't take a genius to say "I knew there was going to be another shooting!"

There are also no points given to people for getting people all worked up by generalizing things when something happens.

I couldn't have been more disappointed to read the words from one of the presidential candidates about the sitting president.

There's something wrong with his body language?

I must be a little slow.

I've heard the words delivered after each of the shootings.

The president has condemned the violence each time, hasn't he?

Didn't he say that shooting cops can't happen?

Didn't he cry when talking about Newtown?

Did I miss a hand signal of some sort?

Did he twitch his nose, sending a secret signal to the next lunatic?

The way through the division in this country appears simple to me.

Respect!

You can disagree with someone.

It happens all the time.

But to be nasty, to try and fan the flames of the conspiracy theorists?

That's simply irresponsible...

...and wrong.

It's actually borderline criminal.

I think back to the uproar when Natalie Maines spoke out against George W. in Texas.

"How can anyone say such a thing about the president?"

Well...

...that's out the window now, right?

Now we're analyzing body language and making absolutely inane statements.

That's awful.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Two Wives

We're watching a show called Life. It's another NetFlix series and it's all right. Brody from Homeland is in it and since he's not kissing Claire Danes I'm all right with it.

But one of the guys who ended up dead in the show was living a double life:

With two wives!

Can you imagine???

I only have one wife.

That's plenty!

Now this guy did all right. Both of the women were lookers...no Kathy Fazzolari, mind you...but the guy went to great lengths to keep the women apart.

Which was a good idea.

He told them that he was a spy and would alternate weeks with his two wives.

They both bought it.

And then the guy ended up murdered.

(I won't spoil the story for you).

But I'm thinking that his death was a sweet relief.

Poor bastard was making two breakfasts no matter which house he was in on any weekend.

He was doing laundry in two places.

Emptying two dishwashers.

Listening to two sets of work stories.

(Okay, maybe that's me).

And there are certainly some obvious benefits to having two women who believe that you're their soulmate, but he was married to both of them for years...

...so the benefits were dwindling.

Now you certainly here such stories now and again. Some men have multiple wives, right?

If the wives now and accept it that's one thing, but if you're trying to hide it...that's a whole 'nother game all together.

That's going to get you killed.

Two wives?

Nah, I'm good.

Kathy has asked me if I would ever remarry if something happened to her and my standard answer is:

"No. You ruined it for everyone."

Sunday, July 17, 2016

My Vice-Presidential Pick Is In!!

Okay.

He's not the sexy pick.

He leans a little left for some people, but he understands those on the right.

Here are some of his stances:

Guns?

You want one...God Bless You...don't shoot me or yourself!

Legalize Marijuana

Go for it! People would spin in a circle to get dizzy if they had to.

Wall Street?

Put the bastards in jail for stealing! Let the honest ones stay. In other words, shut it down.

Gays?

Let people live their own lives.

New Bills Stadium?

Hell yeah! Super Bowl in 2050!!!

Yes, I have chosen as my pick:

Mr. Jeff Popple

Now Mr. Popple certainly has his detractors.

Sarah Palin said this about him:

"We, as Americans, should be saying that us Americans, don't need another shooting from the hip, gay-supporting, pot advocate because we need to be chasing moose and riding our snowmobiles to the House of God where us Americans meet to be fun-loving, gun shooting people who love the flag and don't want him. Or something. I don't know. What was the question? Who's Jeff Popple? Didn't he invent bacon?"

Donald Trump said:

"Horrible. Brutal. Fazzolari did it again. They both have empty heads. Popple is dumber than Fazzolari. I watched him golf. He hits the ball 300 yards. That's when he's putting. Loooosers! Both of them. And eat? Did you ever see him eat???"

But I'm standing by my choice.

I was a little confused there at about midnight last night, but the ticket has been formed:

Fazzolari-Popple-2016

Seriously.

It's the first decent choice.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Is There Anybody Out There?

So.

I was hanging out in the Midwest late this week and I woke up Thursday morning in Kansas City and got on the road early for the drive to Iowa.

It's a three hour plus drive, but I got on the road about 7...which makes it 8 back home.

A little early for the start of Camp Clifford activities, but the head counselor with the healing knee had to be in the middle of coffee hour.

I dropped a text:

"Good morning, how's the knee?"

No answer.

Mile after mile of corn.

60 or so miles passed. I stopped at a rest stop.

"You there?" I texted.

Back in the car.

Another hour passed.

I tried to ring her...straight to voice mail.

More corn.

Your mind wanders to crazy scenarios.

A couple of the campers should be rising soon:

I texted them.

"Anyone up? I'm looking for Mom."

No answer.

I arrived at the site and got ready for the meeting.

The meeting started.

My phone beeped.

"I'm here, I'll look," one of the campers sent back.

A minute later my phone rang.

"I'm alive," Kathy said. "Drinking coffee, resting the knee. Watching a crime drama."

"How, in 2016, are you the only person in America who is not reachable for hours on end?"

"I left my phone upstairs," she said.

"And evidently you didn't think of me once in three hours," I said.

"Oh, I haven't stopped thinking of you," she said. "We're all so sad. It's been a crying festival here since you left!"

"I gotta' go," I said.

"No! Please don't go!!" She answered.

I'm thinking of getting her a collar with a zapper on it. The phone rings and she gets a little jolt of electricity.

⚡️⚡️⚡️⚡️

Maybe then I can reach her.

Friday, July 15, 2016

I Love Craig Sager

The great NBA reporter, Craig Sager, won an ESPY on Wednesday night for his battle with cancer and his ability to rise above it.

Now...

...Sager is a semi-famous guy.

His strength is inspiring.

He also knows that he's not alone...that there are millions of people who did just what he did...received horrible news from the doctor...

...and got after it anyway!

What was special about Sager's acceptance speech was that he referenced Jimmy V's "Don't give up! Don't ever give up!" speech, but he also put his own touch on it.

Time...

...he reminded us is precious and limited.

He spoke of doing chemo and radiation for 14 straight days in an effort to stay alive.

Trying to get more time.

And that's what so many of us really need to hear.

The trivial crap...the garbage thoughts...the bickering and fighting.

The sadness.

Sager was amazing in the delivery of his speech.

All upbeat.

He made me laugh.

He made me think.

He made me sad to think that his time is certainly severely limited because he got a bad draw.

But all of our time is limited.

We all need that reminder now and again so that we make the best use of our hours.

Craig Sager did what so many athletes don't do...

...he was generous, brilliant and heartwarming.

Long live Craig Sager.

You gotta' love him!

And the sport coat!!

It was a beauty.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Lance & Joe Pa

Who says that all the news is bad?

I had a huge smile on my face as I read about Lance "Douche" Armstrong being sued for $100 million by the federal government.

Now anyone who has read the blog from the start understands that I called Lance a huge fake way before he got busted. He has spent his entire life as a fraud and now he's trying his best to say that the people who were paying him millions, in the name of cancer, were doing it at their own risk.

And you know what?

He's probably still acting like an arrogant p$&ck.

I still don't care for him and I hope he ends up homeless.

I stopped grinning when I got to the Penn State "new" information that said that Paterno and his staff knew all about pedophile Sandusky back in the 1970's.

I didn't want to be right about Paterno, but there's no way he didn't know.

He supposedly was told of one instance of abuse involving a 14-year old boy and he allegedly said:

"I don't have time for this; I have a football season to get ready for."

Well.

No one has time for a pedophile, but if that quote is true...

...his statue is right where it belongs...

...in the scrap yard next to his good name.

And not to be beat...

Deflate gate was again in the news.

Take 'em to the Supreme Court, Tom!

Clear your good name!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Hot Enough?

Was absolutely drained by the sun after being out in it for the majority of the days on Monday and Tuesday.

But I don't complain about the heat because I absolutely hate the cold weather...

...so no whining here!

Yet I wish I had a nickel for every time I heard someone ask:

"Hot enough for you?"

What makes you ask such a question?

What is the suitable response?

"I wish it were hotter."

I never know why to say to that...

...I usually don't respond.

The baseball all-star game was on last night and I didn't watch it.

I never do, actually.

I watch so much baseball during the year that I take the 4 days off just like the rest of the players who didn't make the all-star team.

A couple of years ago my mother handed me my little league all-star trophy...

...from 1976.

I remember how excited I was when I was picked to the team.

I also recall getting a hit in the actual all-star game. I caught two innings.

We won too.

Ice cream after the game.

It was hot back then too.

That's the way it goes this time of year.

Beats the hell out of snow!

(Yeah, Pops, I was an all-star).

Elite athlete!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Pokemon??? Really????

I know some big, burly construction workers who are now running around town in search of Pokemon characters.

Have you heard about this?

Evidently there's an app that points you in the direction of the characters from that goofy Pokemon series.

You travel, outside, in the real world, and a character some how pops up and you take your picture with it.

I'm not kidding!

And adults are chasing these characters around.

Okay, full disclosure here...

...I paid a freaking fortune for those Pokemon cards!

For some reason...because of his goofy friends...Jake got mixed up in the Pokemon craze.

A pack of those cards was about 4 bucks. There were about three cards in each pack. I remember one particular day when I bought three packs.

Jake looked through them in less than 10 seconds...tossed them aside saying "I got all of them."

$12 bucks down the drain.

And you know where those cards are now?

All over the basement storage room...

...hundreds of them.

And now adults are chasing these characters in the outside world, and getting their photos snapped with them.

Brutal.

But there's hope!

There are criminals working tricks with the app...

...luring dopey people to isolated areas where they rob them!

Yep!

What a freaking world!

Pokemon!!!!

What a freaking world!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Random Thoughts

1). The Bon Jovi commercial makes me shake my head every time. Is he broke? Did he understand how stupid he'd look singing a badly ryhmed song about rewinding during a television show?

Then he turns and looks at the camera as if to say "Ain't I good?"

2). Every weekend during the summer there are walks and races all across this nation to raise money to fight all sorts of diseases and disabilities. That's good news and shows the compassion of so many. I find it hard to believe that there are more callous, hateful people than caring and compassionate people.

I just think that it sort of sells less.

Most everyone you know is still pretty decent, right?

3). We spent years and years trying to allow rights for a whole bunch of different groups of people...then along came some people saying..."Those people are..."

This or that.

And when you start lumping people together...

...you're back at square one.

4). One step up and two steps back. (Hi Kim). That's the story of the Yankees season at the halfway point. I have enjoyed some of their play. I've hated others. I've still watched. And while it's always nice to compete for a title...I'm not bitter about their not being in the mix...if they aren't. Hard to gauge. Can they make a run?

No idea.

5). Derek Jeter got married on Saturday night. It was a small ceremony. He wants to get a family started. I'm sure that there are scouts out there trying to draft the embryo. You just know that about 20 years from now Derek Jeter Jr. will get drafted...even if he hates sports.

Hope his kid is better than Pete Rose Jr.

6). I've always thought that sports stars should get whatever money they could from owners, but it's getting a little nuts now. $120 million for 4 years? For putting a ball in a basket?

There has to be able to figure it out. How much money does anyone need? I know it's awfully socialistic, but $30 million a year as opposed to $7.25 for an hour. Big differences in profession, but I hate that athletes are royalty...especially since a lot of them act like idiots.

7). We need rain. I've heard that quite a bit around these parts lately. And some sunny days you do wish it were raining. Work slows down a bit when it rains...crops grow...grass grows...there's a chance to relax.

But it's not raining!

Someday.

8). And finally back to Jeter.

He's married now.

John Mellencamp made me laugh when he referenced "Jack & Diane" in a song years later by calling them "Diane & Jack."

Happens to a lot of men...

...even the greatest shortstop of all-time.

One piece of advice, Jeets:

You're given a job to do for the first time...purposely screw it up and then act sad about not doing it correctly...you won't be asked to do it again.

That might've worked for me...

...but alas, she knew that I could cook, clean and do laundry before it all began.

Those were my jobs from the get-go.

Just having a hard time imagining Derek emptying the dishwasher.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Nurse Is Down

My beautiful wife had knee surgery on Thursday, and it was a long time coming.

For anyone who watched her hobble around for two years, you know how much she needed to get it done.

The boys called her:

"Our pet seal."

And it all went fine.

"It doesn't even hurt," she announced a few hours after having it done.

"That's the exact mentality that made me climb a ladder the day I had it done," I said. "The anesthesia will wear off. You'll see."

But the thing about life is that no one really ever listens to anyone.

"Why does it hurt so much?" She asked me just 36 hours later.

I wanted to laugh...

...a little.

Of course we've been married long enough for me to say "I told you!"

Yet we have all done our part.

Sam, who has long been our legs around here, gets the phone chargers, carries Kathy's stuff around and puts it into her next room, Jake is making the frozen lemonade runs to Tim Horton's and I'm doing the cooking, laundry, getting groceries.

(I made a breakfast sandwich on Saturday that was worth about $15 at your local diner).

(I had two).

And we have allowed crime shows on television hour after hour after hour after hour.

Yet there have been problems:

My crutches are a bit too large for her, and Poor Paris is not a fan. She spots the crutches in one room and runs away.

"How long does the pain last?" Kathy asked.

"It's a bad first week...the second week is a little better...then you're good," I said. "Just don't climb a ladder."

"Can't even imagine that," she said.

"Wasn't fun."

Yet, she's on the mend.

"Why are you up so early?" Kathy asked on Saturday morning by 6 a.m.

"Pain," I said.

"Oh really?"

What a pair.

We hobbled down the stairs and put on a crime show.

"This really sucks," Kathy said.

Yep!

"You still milking this?" Sam asked a bit later.

Gonna' be a fun couple of weeks!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Loved Ones

Just as I thought, yesterday was an irritating day.

More than irritating...I keep thinking...sad.

Started the day with a guy who texted me to say that the shooting in Dallas was a conspiracy to go on a gun grab across the country.

All part of an 8-year plan.

I didn't answer that...didn't even humor the guy.

Then I heard a news report featuring a relative of one of the people gunned down in Dallas.

That certainly didn't do much for my mood.

But the poor woman said something that made me strongly consider the deep hurt.

She said that to all the news outlets it was just about how many people that die.

5 dead...12 wounded.

And that's all it means to some people who are keeping score.

"No one knows how this will devastate us," the woman said.

And that was what caught my heart.

We have heard a whole lot of numbers lately.

How many in Orlando?

What was the count in that church?

The school in Connecticut?

The Colorado movie theatre?

Fort Hood?

So many more.

In each one we heard a number.

I considered how devastating the death of a loved one can be.

I've been there.

Most people have.

It's not something that people 'get over'.

The devastation lasts for years...

...for lifetimes.

A single death changes the lives of so many people.

These victims have spouses, children, parents, friends, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins.

People who desperately love them!

"More people die in cars," someone will write to prove an uncaring point about how people are bound to die anyways, whether they're shot, or piled up.

And I'm sorry, but if I hear one more person talk about prayer getting us through such a tragedy...

Prayer is fine.

We need more than that.

Because when you count the death toll at one of these scenes you have to think about the thousand people who are going to miss the man or woman who died in yet another senseless act of violence.

I will say a prayer for the loved ones.

Then I'm going to try...

...again...

To not let the anger and fear in.

That's all I can do, I guess.

Because evidently no one else knows what to do either.

Remember their loved ones.

Forget the mentally ill who create the destruction and heartbreak.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Up Against the Wall

I've never really had a confrontation with a police officer.

I did catch a ride to a police station once where Kathy picked me up. It was a long time ago...when the Bills won a game to head to one of the Super Bowls.

I wouldn't drive my car home...which was a good idea...the cops were actually complimentary of my good judgement.

I remember that we talked football and laughed a little.

So, I don't have much to say about being fearful when the cops are around.

And I certainly respect the job they do.

But with all that being said the recent events in the news...

...two men being shot to death...

One in Minnesota and one in Baton Rouge...

...has set the argument afire.

Yet...

...the cop who shot the man in Minnesota was an emotional mess immediately following the tragic traffic stop.

I listened to and watched the video that the man's girlfriend captured on her phone.

It was disturbing.

And should be disturbing to anyone who sees it.

The man was shot to death as he reached for his identification.

He told the officer that he was permitted to carry a gun.

Evidently when the cop saw the gun...he panicked.

And made the wrong split-second decision.

So sad.

And the fact that it happened a day earlier down south...

...where a man was killed while laying on the sidewalk...

...under control.

He also did not appear to be posing a threat.

Sad, sad, sad.

What saddens me even more is the reaction. People will actually CHOOSE sides!

The vehicle in Minnesota was stopped for a broken taillight.

The penalty for a busted taillight certainly shouldn't be death.

No one should be on the opposite side of that argument.

It shouldn't happen.

The split-second decisions must be better.

And if there is a debate on this "issue" than there's a problem...

...cause there shouldn't be an argument here.

Can't we just agree that it's sad.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

It's Just Business

Are there morals when it comes to business?

For instance?

Do you have to worry about your creditors when you file for bankruptcy?

The Donald has come under fire a little for filing for bankruptcy 4 times...

...he's unapologetic saying that it's all part of operating a business and doing so within the rules established.

But is it immoral?

How about Kevin Durant?

The superstar basketball player who played out his contract and being free to sign with any team decided to leave his team and go elsewhere.

To his rivals.

There are kids all over Oklahoma burning their Durant jerseys. I watched a video of a Dad breaking the news to his young son.

The kid was crying.

Should Durant feel bad about that?

"It's a business," is what you always hear. Durant played his heart out over ten years in Oklahoma City.

Be sure that if Durant couldn't do the work anymore...

...they'd push him out the door.

But hurt feelings are part of the game...

...corporations are certainly made up of people.

Years ago, a man went to work for a company and stayed there through retirement. There was a ceremony at the end. A gold watch.

A retirement party and collect your pension.

It doesn't happen that way anymore.

People jump from job to job and in some cases from profession to profession.

"Durant is a jerk," Jake announced before the ink was dry on the Golden State contract.

And I get that he feels that way.

"It's business," I said. "You can choose where you go to work. Sometimes there are reasons."

"He should've stayed," Jake said. "I hate him now."

And I'm sure Durant knew that was coming when he made his decision...

...but things have changed.

People don't feel quite so loyal to an organization anymore.

And that does pain me.

And I'm not sure why.

There was something about the gold watch and the pats on the back as you head off to spend time in an easy chair to fade.

But when it became just "business" to stiff your creditors, or when the pensions and other benefits went away...

...everything went out the window.

Durant will be just fine.

As long as he does his job.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

No Jail

Had a long drive on Tuesday and I put on CNN for a portion of it.

Man!

Everything is negative!!

Was that the Jewish star sent in the tweet by Donald?

Why didn't Hillary go to jail????

One thing after another...

...and then I listened to three speeches...

One by Trump.

One by Hillary.

One by Obama.

Speeches by political candidates are always nauseating, but this campaign season tops them all!

I have a few questions:

1). Will Obama try stand-up when he's unemployed?

He really has a great sense of timing and when he is off-script he speaks like a stand-up. I've done funny speeches and I can tell you, it's not easy and that timing is important.

He could do it.

2). If elected president will Donald continue with "amazing", "unbelievable", and the all-popular "I would never say that she's a crook but some of my people might suggest that, but I won't say it."

The Donald has a distinctive speech style as well and some people might say he makes up a lot of it, I wouldn't say it, but some people might.

And

3). Can you imagine 4 years of Hillary yelling in her speech voice?

It's disturbing.

Like nails on a chalkboard.

Like one of the nuns who battered me on a daily basis in grammar school (I deserved some of the beatings).

But the story of the day was that one of the candidates for the office of president was not indicted and story two of the day was that the other candidate made it 24 hours without saying something undeniably racist!

Your 2016 Presidential Election!

Maybe we should just try and give the office away in a game show format...

...we seem to be heading that way.

I'd vote for Sangia.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Back to the Grind!

The 3-day weekend is behind us.

You get the exact opposite mood today as the one you felt on Friday.

The "How was your weekend?" Followed by the "it was too short."

I mentioned to my beautiful wife that 3-day weekends used to be about beer, golf and the Yankees."

Well, beer is no longer part of my game, the Yankees are on the west coast and my hip postponed golf.

So...rest, dogs and food!

Speaking of which, my dogs hate the 4th of July.

I don't understand the neighborhood fireworks. My dogs hate it and that's usually where you hear about the guys who join the amputation club. About 30 years ago I went to a 4th of July party in Brooklyn and there were some Italian-American guys there who scared me...even though they liked my surname. These guys were shooting off fireworks for hours and even asked if I wanted to light some.

"I've been a wussy since I was born. I'll just watch," I said. But I did ask where in the hell they got the thousands of works they were setting off.

"John Gotti sent them over," one guy said.

I believed him!

But it's all in the books now...

...back to work!

Yet that is what makes America great already!

There's so much negativity around now.

This is still a pretty great country.

Don't let anyone tell you different.

Count your fingers and toes...

...and get back at it!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Camp Clifford Is Open

We had a visitor to Camp Clifford this week:

My nephew John called last Sunday and appeared nervous to ask me if he could spend the week with his cousins.

"You're always welcome."

So he arrived and really got the new season here at Camp Clifford started.

They must have played a hundred games of basketball. Every single day they were either playing in the driveway or heading to a park to play.

And they ate and drank pop, Gatorade, iced tea...

...anything they could get their hands on.

Not only did they eat whatever we made for dinner, but they also went on a food run every night.

They stayed up until the wee hours of the morning.

On Saturday night I heard them giggling...

...at quarter to three in the morning.

"Yo, I'm trying to sleep up here!" I called down.

The laughing continued.

The next morning, as he ate about six eggs with pork sausage I asked Johnny:

"Why were you laughing like that at three in the morning?"

"Because we're funny," he said.

He finished off the eggs in about 4 minutes. His visit was drawing to a close.

"Why don't you stay the rest of the summer?" I asked.

"I could?" He asked.

Why not?

Camp Clifford is open until early September.

"The Bills are going to the AFC Championship Game this year," Johnny said as he headed for the door.

Dopey!

He fits right in.

He could be a camp counselor.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Baseball, Hot Dogs & Apple Pie, But Mostly Baseball!

Hard not to think of America, right...

...lots of flag-waving this weekend and rightfully so.

We still do great things...

...along with all the embarrassing crap.

I was thinking about baseball, of course and they kind of ruined me this weekend by making the Yankees play out west.

Good, bad or indifferent...I love watching the Yankees play.

But I was thinking about great moments in the sport the other day because Cespedes of the Mets hit a home run that was estimated to have traveled about 460 feet.

The announcers were going crazy and I thought about Mantle, of course.

They say that he hit a ball that was estimated to have gone about 620 feet!

I still think that's the most amazing thing in sports.

620 feet!!!

Yet it got me thinking about my favorite baseball moments:

5). Reggie hits 3 to win Game 6 - This one was on my 13th birthday and Dad was the guy watching with me. We were simply amazed and so happy. The Yankees hadn't won a series in quite awhile (In Yankee land if you go more than 10 years it's way too long). When Reggie crossed the plate and then held up three fingers I swore he was looking straight at me and wishing me a happy birthday. Dad made salami sandwiches after the game - Dad made the best sandwiches ever.

4). Girardi Hits a Triple - 1996 was similar to 1978 because once again it had been too long since the Yankees won it all. And they would have won a couple in between, with Mattingly, if there had been the stupid wild card in the 80's. A few of those teams won more than 90 games and didn't qualify for the playoffs.

Anywhoha...

In Game 6 Joe Girardi (the current manager) hit a bases-clearing triple to essentially clinch the series against the hapless Braves. Girardi later said that the crowd was so loud that he could feel the base vibrating below his feet when he arrived at third.

I remember that one because I watched the clincher with Kathy and my brothers. We had a few beers and toasted the win.

3). Aaron F&*$ing Boone Beats the Red Sux - The Yankees didn't win the 2003 World Series. They lost to the Marlins in the worst World series ever (I still say the Marlins didn't hit more than 5 balls out of the infield) but before the series the Yankees came all the way back to beat Pedro and the Red Sux in Game 7. Aaron Boone hit a homer off of Tim Wakefield and that moment was cool because:

It was about 1:30 in the morning. I was alone in a hotel room. My brother, Jeff called before the ball settled in the stands. My brother John beeped in. Then my brother Jim beeped in. Finally, I answered the final call of that early morning...

...my Mom had beeped in and her and Dad were so excited.

Just a great moment.

2). Bucky F*&$ing Dent Beats the Red Sux - We've talked about this one. I was at a soccer game. Dad played hookey from work. My soccer coach broke the news that Dent had homered and I ran off the field and straight to him to get the news.

"Go after the ball!" He yelled.

"I don't care about the ball," I yelled back. "Did he really hit it out?"

When I got home, Dad made us another sandwich.

1). Matsui is a c&*#$%#^&* - The 2009 World Series. The Yankees had to win it that year! Our family was devastated that year when we lost Jeff. By October of that year I felt that the Yankees were entitled to win it.

They had to.

Somehow!

And Jeff had always hated Matsui.

He even had his son mention a vile curse word as he described the Japanese superstar.

So.

Game 6 against the hapless Phillies was all about Matsui.

6 RBI's and a huge home run.

When that ball landed in the stands I was in tears, of course, but it always felt, and still does, that I wasn't just watching that game with my beautiful wife and my boys.

I made a sandwich for my boys...

...when they won it.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Life Smacks Hard

Matt Imhof is a pitcher in the Phillies farm system.

His path to the majors may have ended though...

...tragically.

Imhof, who is 22 years old, and who definitely had a shot to one day play in the bigs, was working out on a piece of exercise equipment that is used to stretch.

The equipment malfunctioned and a large piece of metal flew through the air...

...striking Imhof in the face.

He broke bones in his face.

His right eye...

...was squashed like a grape.

He had it removed a day later.

Doesn't that make you sad?

As I was reading the story I didn't think of the moment when he was struck in such a freak incident.

Instead I was struck by how happy he had been when he signed his deal.

The hopes and dreams that he had...

...everyone sharing in his talent of throwing a ball.

And bam!

Just like that🔥

Up in flames.

I saw a photo of Imhof in a hospital bed and I read his statement to all who were worried about his frame of mind.

He promised that he would bounce back...

...he didn't mention the near impossibility of finishing his career.

But his statement was filled with hope.

He referenced not being dead...he will survive...

...and prosper.

I didn't know who he was just a week ago.

Now I'm rooting hard for the kid.

Go get 'em.

Friday, July 1, 2016

3-Day Weekend!!!

Woo-hoo!!!

It's almost here!

The Friday before a 3-day weekend is a cool day.

Everyone is kinda' happy. People are friendlier.

"Have a nice weekend!"

Those words will ring out all day today...and I must admit...

...it's all changed for me.

I remember long weekends when the plans were set well in advance. The first two days would be a complete mess and the 3rd day would be all about rest.

Now.

It's just about the rest!

What I am not looking forward to is all the fireworks and having to try and keep my poor dogs calm.

Melky hates the 4th of July weekend!

Still, hopefully there will be some family time.

Maybe a nap or two!

The Yankees are out on the west coast which will kinda' ruin the plans to watch baseball...

...golf is still on hold because my legs don't wanna' work...

...but you know who else won't be working?

Me!!!

Have a great weekend!

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