Sunday, July 23, 2017

Week In Review

Spicy 🌶 out!!

How can we not be disappointed?

I'm thinking that SNL will get one more episode out of it. They have to do something about him quitting, right?

But Spicer was in a bad spot. He certainly tried to go out of his way to make the lies work, but he just couldn't get it done most of the time. They tried to do it off camera so he wouldn't get lambasted, but that didn't go too well either.

I wonder if he got out before he got caught up in what might be a criminal aspect, but he'll resurface somewhere. Good luck to him!

Donald spent a little time yesterday thinking about who he could pardon in the future. I'm thinking he thinks that he could maybe, perhaps, possibly pardon himself.

You think?

Not sure that will work.

He starts throwing out pardons to his kids and cabinet members than maybe some who are defending him may believe that he actually did something wrong.

I actually read his nonsensical interview with the New York Times and I'm truly amazed with his ideas on history.

Napoleon was gonna go, but it was too cold. Lots of people don't know how cold Russia is.

Crazy talk!

Did you happen to catch the story about the kids who watched the homeless man drown?

They were videotaping it and making jokes.

Now they're gonna be arrested for their idiocy.

Amazing where we are regarding the disregard for human life.

I hope they go to prison for awhile.

And of course, OJ will soon be free.

I covered that extensively.

Free to catch the real killers!

That's the week.

Next week will most likely be worse.

Crazy times!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

What A Mess

I listened to all of the O.J. Simpson parole hearing on Thursday afternoon, and I just couldn't shake the feeling of pity that I had for him.

I'm not sorry that he was in jail for 9 years on a burglary charge that wouldn't have netted most criminals much more than parole.

I didn't pity him because he'd lost his big, fancy life back when he was on trial for butchering two people.

Instead, I felt sorry for O.J. because he screwed up his life, and he has no idea that he actually did anything wrong!

He played the victim!!

When they asked him about taking a course designed to help him control his temper, he explained that he's always been a bowl of cherries to be around.

He was never actually a criminal either so he didn't have much to worry about when it came to possibly repeating his bad behavior.

Couple of wife beat-downs, two murders, and armed robbery...

...other than that he's been almost perfect!

He bragged a little about having been famous since he was 19 years of age, but he talked about how he turned a lot of free media love down because he doesn't need it to be happy.

Yet, O.J.'S narcissistic crap aside I just kept listening to him and thinking about the disaster that his life turned out to be.

We're talking stuff of legends for a kid growing up in the 70's in Buffalo.

Man he was everyone's hero. He was just an amazing runner, but he was also a dynamic celebrity around the town.

We couldn't get enough of him.

And then he left.

But he came back, in movies, when the Bills put him on the wall, on NFL pre and post game shows. He always smiled broadly and he always talked up Buffalo.

And Thursday he was begging to get out of the cage that he's been living with for 9 years.

Still, he was the victim.

He didn't mean for it to go down like it did.

He was the leader in prison too. He tried to let everyone know to do their time, keep their mouths shut, and just be good people.

I was nauseated 🤢

The more he went on, the more surreal that it seemed.

Then I saw the news recaps of how he will soon be free.

He knows people will be drawn to him for the rest of his days.

'Cause he's O.J.

He loves himself, for sure.

And just ask him...

...he's a great guy!

(Other than those pesky murders).

Friday, July 21, 2017

John McCain

The news that John McCain has brain cancer saddens me.

Of course, he should be considered an American hero, because of his time as a prisoner of war. He's also been a senator for years and years.

Service to the country.

Should be without a but...

But...

He was ridiculed by a presidential candidate who said that he likes his war heroes better if they weren't captured.

He also ran for president and chose Sarah Palin as his running mate.

During the miserable campaign of 2016 and following the inauguration he would often times appear on camera to lambast a poor decision..

...and then he would vote along with the very decision he just said was bad.

A difficult guy to pin down.

Yet a hard guy to not admire.

So, hearing that he has such a tough road ahead is saddening to me.

These bodies of ours are made to break down.

That's what sort of irritates me about those, who when arguing about healthcare, are saying that people are responsible for the diseases they get.

Like there are people who can escape getting sick, or having heart problems, or getting brain cancer.

Every human being will eventually need to see a doctor, and they deserve a chance to beat the disease.

John McCain will be treated. He'll most likely receive top of the line healthcare, and given his service to the country, he deserves it.

Yet, I can imagine how he felt when he heard that diagnosis:

"Cancer."

Millions hear that word...

...and think:

"I might die if I don't get great help here."

Imagine getting that diagnosis if you didn't have access to insurance, or the chance to even get it.

The diagnosis becomes:

"I AM going to die."

I've always really wanted to like John McCain.

I do admire him.

But to be honest, there are a lot of moments when I wished I knew why he does what he does.

I do hope he can continue to do his job for a little while longer...

...and I hope he thinks long and hard about the healthcare that he receives as he goes through this...

...and I hope he thinks long and hard about the lower-class, or middle-class guy who can't afford to get treated.

And then I hope he votes like he seems to think.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Trade Deadline

The Yankees haven't been playing great.

Yet, I'm still very invested again this year, and here we are at the trade deadline.

Exciting stuff for baseball fans.

Do you trade the promise of the kids for the experience of the guys who've been there before?

It's a balancing act.

The Yankees have a reputation for trading their youngsters, but that's simply not true. They have not dealt anyone who might've made a difference since they sent Jay Buhner to a Seattle for Ken Phelps in the late 80's.

Don't believe me?

Think of someone else they dealt who turned into a great player.

I'll give you all the time you want!

It is the youngsters who will eventually be on the field when the Yankees hoist the trophy 🏆 for the 28th time.

Yet, this is about the deadline.

I live for the rumors and the movement.

The season is like a soap opera...

...one game leads to the next.

"Why not leave Betances in????"

 Someone will scream on social media.

Because of tomorrow!

There's always tomorrow!!

Day after day.

I read about all the rumors. I think back to years gone past when the deadline pickups made a huge difference.

Cecil Fielder in '96.

David Justice in '00.

Hell, they even got Canseco in August but only because they were blocking him from going to Boston.

It's a chess game with millionaires.

The Yankees already made a deal to pick up Todd Frazier and others.

I went to sleep before the trade was official on Tuesday night. I woke up in the middle of the night, as I often do, and while I was in the bathroom, Sam called up to me.

"The Yankees got Frazier!" He called out.

Looks like we have another guy enamored with the deadline deals!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Most Popular

No matter what anyone says there's something about being popular.

Makes you think of high school.

We all wanted to be a part of the popular crowd. We all want people to like us. I think that continues through most of our lives.

No one actually wants to be hated.

But there comes a time when none of that really matters.

I wasn't voted most popular.

I garnered Most Talkative...

...which was pretty fitting.

But I wasn't UNPOPULAR!

What's weird is that the president is gauged by how popular he is.

Donald, after six short months, has broken records for being the most unpopular man to ever hold the post.

But unlike most of the rest of us...

...he's kind of hung-up on it.

He rounded up and then said, "that's not so bad."

As his unpopularity continues to rise I'm kind of worried about my condolences kicking in.

He might get so unpopular that I might start feeling sorry for him.

I always had a soft spot for the most hated of all the classmates.

Trump is at 36% favorable.

His unfavorable rate is higher than Nixon's was...

...right after he got the boot.

If he falls below 30% the feeling is that the party will really turn on him.

Below 25% and he will most certainly freak out.

He was concerned about his crowd size being larger than Obama's.

It's killing him, as it does all of us when we're not liked.

I think of one particular book signing I did years ago. An old woman was asked her opinion of the book in a question and answer period.

"I just didn't like it," she said.

Totally pissed me off!!!

Everyone else in the room expressed happiness with what I'd written, but the one lady!!!

I swear...

...I can see her face as she said those words.

I can't imagine what it might feel like to know that 100 million or so people can't stand me!

Most Talkative comes with much less pressure!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Lawless

Stories like the one out of Pennsylvania this week simply astound me.

Four young men were reported missing and where they were found wasn't good. Two other young men had shot them and buried them in deep graves.

Horrible.

In Buffalo over the weekend there were two hit and run accidents.

Think of hitting someone and then just leaving!

I hit a groundhog one day and had to pull over because I was feeling weepy.

It seems that there is little respect for life these days, and it's hard to dwell on it because millions of people did NOT kill someone over the weekend.

I read a story the other day that said that violent crimes have been going down in numbers for the last thirty years or so.

Doesn't seem that way, does it?

But I suppose it's because we hear so much about every little thing now. Something bad happens and we get it as an alert on our phone.

That didn't happen years ago.

Then the story is repeated over and over. You see it on Facebook and Twitter. Then it leads the national news and two months from now it'll be on 48 Hours or Dateline.

Sold as entertainment.

And I can't say too much because my beautiful wife is the largest consumer. She watches ID tv as her go-to source of television.

"All right!" I'll say. "Can we maybe watch something that might make us laugh?"

But I'm right there most of the time.

Yet, every once in awhile, I'll actually consider the lives lost.

Those poor kids ran into pure evil...

...lost their lives.

Think of their families...their hopes and dreams.

Snuffed out like a groundhog on a country road.

Just awful.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Free OJ

July 20 is the day.

Orenthal is up for parole after serving 9 years in a country club prison for armed robbery.

Probably a sentence that was a little too long for that specific crime, but there was chatter about the crime he got away with, of course.

I know it was a bit of a country club because there was an hour long special about OJ and his time behind bars.

He still played the Juice in prison.

Still talks about himself in the 3rd person. People still follow him around and want to be with him.

Which is crazy!

Yet, Orenthal always had a way about him.

The Buffalo television station posted a story about his potential release.

There were 41 comments.

40 of them were pro-OJ!!

He gutted two people!

10 of the 40 included the hashtag Bills Mafia in their remarks.

Are you freaking kidding me!

I must admit that I loved OJ as a player. He was dynamic.

I also loved him after he retired.

He was a decent comedic actor.

He did great on the football shows, and he always talked up Buffalo.

But he nearly cut off the head of a woman and a man.

What in God's name would make you write a positive note about him?

He probably will get paroled.

He'll be back on a golf course, and reporters will look for a story on how he's getting along at 70 years old.

But root for him?

You oughta' be ashamed!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Everything Is Broken

There's a great Bob Dylan song by that name...

...forget the record, but Bob sings the hell out of it.

As referenced here last week the Camp is in disrepair.

Then the basement gets flooded.

Floods are fun because of the stink.

Everyone is taking a turn running the shampooer.

Then I get in my car and flip over to E-Street radio.

"Either I went deaf or my radio fuse is blown," I announced.

I have as much chance of changing a blown fuse as I do of playing left field for the Yankees next year.

Now it matches the air conditioner.

And let's not even bring up the weed whacker.

I went looking for it in the garage.

Came up empty.

"Where is our weed whacker?" I asked.

"I think my father borrowed it," Kathy said.

"Can we get it back?"

The next day I inquired.

"Funny story," Kathy said. "It's not there. And when I asked my father about it he wondered where his was. It turns out his has been in the back of my car for about a month."

"Do we have one I can use?"

"Nope. He needed his back. He doesn't have ours. We'll borrow his when he's done."

I really feel like listening to the Dylan turn:

"Everything is Broken."

But I can't.

Anyone know how to find the fuse box?


Saturday, July 15, 2017

It's About the Food

Went to a good wedding last night for a longtime buddy and his beautiful wife. Sat with some friends that I met back before 1970.

Had a lot of laughs.

What's really fun about hanging out with longtime friends is that the conversation is really easy.

Everything is up front...

...the glory days stories, what the kids are doing now, and what the next stage is going to be.

It seems we all had a single drink...

...and if the wedding was held long ago there would've been hundreds of drinks.

Now it's about the food!

And the wedding came up big!

Beef, chicken, pasta.

Yet we had to discuss eating in moderation too because of the health difficulties that cause is difficulty.

But I ate pretty good.

My feeling being that carbs will always have a special place in my life.

We were positioned next to the tower of cupcakes.

I'm not the biggest dessert guy in the world...

...but there are no drinks anymore!

I was definitely having a cupcake.

"Think they'd miss 'em if we grabbed a couple before we're supposed to?" I asked.

Finally, bride and groom cut the cake and (didn't smash it in each other's face) and we were free to go.

I brought a few back to the table, and as I was eating one, my friends were cutting off pieces to taste.

(Getting old! Can't even eat a full cupcake!)

At 9:00, we started talking about leaving.

"Coffee didn't really wake me up...too much work!"

"We're staying up all night," I said to Kathy as we made our way home.

"We aren't," she said. "See if Melky will stay up with you."

It was a great night.

Certainly different than the weddings that took place in the 90's, but the chocolate cupcake was tremendous.

Good luck to the happy couple!

(We didn't stay up all night).

(I was asleep by 10:30).

Friday, July 14, 2017

Flash Flood

The rain was hammering the sidewalk outside the car. I had a meeting in downtown Buffalo and if you've ever looked for parking there you know it can be a tad aggravating.

I had found a meter, which was the good news...

...bad news was that it was a few blocks away from the front door.

I don't care if I get wet.

I had my hard hat on anyway.

It's keeping the electronics dry that's the problem.

I stuffed my phone in my pocket and put the Notebook computer under my vest.

"Damn!"

This wasn't your standard rainstorm!

An hour later I stepped through my front door at home.

Splash.

"Damn!"

I heard the pump working. Headed for the drain in the back...it was working, but there was a foot of water trying to head down it.

More water was pouring in from under the door.

I started bailing the water.

Got the campers to move a little.

As I left for Syracuse in the late afternoon, the youngest camper was shampooing the carpet.

Traffic was backed up on I-90.

Severe Delays!

The message board taunted me.

"Damn!"

The delays were caused by a river running across the Thruway.

As I waited to cross I kept thinking about how the rainstorm had impacted the day...

...all I had planned had changed.

Nothing you can do.

Wait out the storm.

There wasn't too much damage, I suppose, and it did stop raining.

It was the flash part of it that caused the biggest problem.

Ah well.

Beats the hell out of snow.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Armed Forces

Spent a little time thinking about the soldier from Western New York, Nicholas Warden, who was killed early this month after stepping on a land mine in Afghanistan.

Nicholas' father was talking to the Buffalo News about his son and his short life.

His son always wanted to be a soldier.

9/11 convinced him that he had to stand up and fight back.

A little while later I heard the horrific news of an aircraft with 16 soldiers aboard crashed in a field in Tennessee.

16 more kids...

...gone.

And I listen to the news.

No names.

Just a story...

...then on to Russia talk, or trying to push healthcare through.

Not even a moment to be sad for those kids who didn't get to live their lives.

And I suppose that we can't think about it too much because we might all stand up and really question  what the hell is going on.

We have to keep the war machine going.

The military budget is outrageous...

...but necessary...

...we are told.

I think back to the Iraq war and how the kids coming home in coffins was strategically missing from the news reports.

Too much death.

Don't look behind the curtain.

So, every once in awhile I think a little about a grief-stricken family and the fallen soldiers.

Necessary Evil???

Damn.

I guess I don't see the big picture clearly on all of that.

May they all Rest In Peace.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Court Is In Session

Aaron Judge is unreal.

There was little doubt that he would win the HR Derby.

Even when Bour hit 22 in the first round...while impressive...

...wasn't enough.

Once Judge passed him to move on there was little tension left.

Gary Sanchez also knocked off Giancarlo Stanton (last year's champ) and anyone watching had to think...

...Uh-Oh...

the 27-Time World Champion Greatest Franchise in the History of Organized American Sports...

Is stacked again!

Here's the thing:

They also have Clint Frazier and the best of their young players...

...Gleyber Torres would've been up already, but he got hurt.

He's gonna' be a superstar.

What's strange is that I normally take time off from baseball during the All-Star Break, especially this year as the Yanks have been struggling lately, but I had to watch the Derby.

Because of Judge.

And friends of mine, who hate the Yankees...

...sent me texts.

"He's a freak."

"Holy Cripes!"

"I still hate the Yankees!"

But all I could think was...

...pretty soon.

Really soon, actually.

I'm going to be so obnoxious when they win #28.

All you Yankees haters, be honest...

...After watching Judge hammer the ball you had to be a little worried.

He's going to be great for a long, long time.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Every Damn Day

Russia, Russia, Russia.

Now it's Donald Jr. who had a meeting with Russia that he forgot about.

He had to report it because another guy who didn't have anything to do with Russia (Kushner - who had a half dozen undisclosed meetings) had to disclose the meeting because he got caught.

Manafort was there too.

He said he had nothing to do with Russia, but wound up leaving the whole shebang over it.

Of course, just because everyone around Donald had something to do with it, he obviously didn't.

This is what is going to happen:

Everything will be found out.

Millions upon millions of dollars will have changed hands.

They'll all wind up guilty.

It's trending that way.

And here's the billion dollar question:

Will...after all the proof is in...anyone care that members of our government consorted with members of a government that is not our friend?

Putin is not a good guy.

He is not a better guy than Obama.

He doesn't care more about our country than the Clinton's did.

This is important.

You may hate Bill & Hillary.

The very sight of Obama may turn your stomach...

...but Putin has one goal:

Destroy America.

He doesn't want to set up a treaty to stop hacking.

He is not interested in the plight of the middle class here in America.

It's about destroying our way of life.

He wants to pit us against each other.

He wants to devalue our media, strip us of our rights and freedoms, and eventually rob us blind.

Those are his goals.

He may have attacked the Dems this time.

It might be the GOP next time.

He's a spy, a rat, a criminal, an enemy and a bad guy.

Donald Jr., Sessions, Manafort, Kushner and Flynn have all been exposed as having ties to him.

Know who else they had ties to?

Do the math. Every damn day there's more proof.

Then remember that you're an actual American.

And get pissed off at the people who actually deserve your scorn.

Then pray that the damage hasn't been too much because it's no longer a political game.

In the end it's Russia versus the USA.

Now what side are you on?


Monday, July 10, 2017

Shaking Hands

Saw a news story (I don't think it was fake) about Trump and Putin shaking hands.

Body language experts were saying that Trump won the handshake.

Evidently you can tell who is the alpha male by the position of the body, the look in the eye and the break away.

Really?

I'm not big on shaking hands.

I don't know who's touching what moments before there is a gripping of my hand. As soon as it happens I think getting away and getting my hand sanitizer.

Yet if I do have to shake someone's hand I try and offer a decent grip. The guys who just kind of place their hand in yours..

...creepy.

And the Donald seems to put some stock in the old handshake. He's tried to intimidate some by yanking them towards him.

Now people are one-upping him on the international stage. I saw a clip of one of the wives of one of the leaders move towards Trump with her hand extended. When he extended his she walked right by him and shook hands with Melania instead.

He just glared at her.

Didn't need to be a body language expert to see who won that one.

Most of the time I'll offer a fist bump of it looks like someone wants to shake my hand. If I'm in a goofy mood I'll just say, "I don't want to touch you."

They laugh.

Maybe I'd say that to Putin if given the opportunity, but now we're friends with them, right?

(When did that happen, by the way?)

Anywhoha...

As I mentioned the story about the handshake between Trump and Putin, Sam put forth a question.

"Would you shake hands with Trunp?" He asked.

"Nope," I answered.

Not enough Purell in the world.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Mattress On the Floor

Up really early on Sunday morning to take Johnny to the airport to conclude his week-long visit.

I headed down to wake him up (they had planned on staying up all night), but when I checked in the guest room, the bed was not only empty, the mattress was gone.

The same thing happened on Saturday.

Johnny had moved the mattress into Sam's room and placed it on the floor beside his cousin's bed.

So they could spend time together even when they're sleeping.

"Get up," I told Johnny. "You have to be in the car in 10 minutes."

I went back to the kitchen and poured a coffee and thought about my younger days and all the moments I spent with Jeff...

...not wanting to be apart because we just loved each other so much.

My mind took me back to playing foose in my parents basement. Jeff used to crush me in that game, and yell out "He scores!" every time the ball went in my goal.

I swore under my breath.

But then I thought of Johnny and Sam and their week of togetherness again.

They'll be on the phone to one another by mid-afternoon.

Face-timing and laughing.

Best buddies.

And I Thank God for that. I really do.

But I couldn't help but feel cheated as I sipped my coffee.

Five minutes later I was back in the room.

"Johnny, you gotta' go!"

He picked his head up.

Groggy.

Like he didn't know what hit him.

"How about I stay?" he asked.

"Can't do it."

Thankfully, I got him into the car.

Bruce was on.

The Promised Land.

"Blow away the dreams that break your heart."

We chatted about his visit. He asked me about seeing Bruce so many times.

Recalling those memories stung a little too.

The sun was coming up on another day.

We cut across the parking lot and down the steps.

"Sure you don't want to take the handicap ramp, old man?" He asked.

So much like his Dad.

He got cheated way worse than me.

I stood at the gate and watched him work his way through the line to security.

"I'm good," he texted me.

"Gate 21," I answered. "You gotta' hustle."

He got to the front of the line and where I was standing.

"I'll see you soon, buddy," I said.

He didn't answer.

Just hugged me.

I saw the sadness in his eyes as I tried to hide my own.

I waited until his bag was scanned and his shoes were back on. He was hustling. He disappeared around the corner and I walked back to the car.

The sun was fully up.

My head hurt and I felt tears stinging my eyes.

I swore under my breath.

Got back in the car for the trip home.

Alone.

Swore again.

Bruce was there.

Mary's Place.

A song written about people surviving the loss of their loved ones on 9/11.

"Your love and grace surrounds me."

I thought about the mattress on the floor.

And

I smiled.

The love between Sam and Johnny is tremendous.

Hope they get 60, 70, or 80 years out of it.

Because it's no fun to lose it.

And I considered all the garbage things that distract us from the love we feel for those we care about the most.

"Your love and grace surrounds me."

Indeed.






Saturday, July 8, 2017

$200 Million Dollars

The NBA is currently signing their players for next year and beyond.

All-Star guard Stephon Curry just re-upped with the Golden State Warriors...

...$200 million.

Something like $40 million a year.

My kids didn't blink an eye when they heard the numbers and I suppose it's hard to fathom.

"No one is worth that kind of money!" Is an easy thing to say.

It's true, as well.

Yet, the money is there, right?

Raise the ticket prices. Make it $12 a beer. $8 for a hot dog.

The place will be packed!

The owners will still make their money regardless.

I've always hated that the money is made public. I enjoyed watching sports as a kid, never knowing how much my favorite players were making.

It's nothing new.

Babe Ruth famously made a hundred grand.

"You make more than the president," a reporter said.

"I had a better year," Ruth replied.

There are about 400 NBA Players.

They're freaks of nature.

They're also entertainers.

The money is ridiculous...

...but people won't stop going to the games either.

Shortly after Curry's contract was announced Sammy Watkins of the Bills sent out a tweet that was a bit on the whiny side.

He actually wondered why NFL players were under-paid (by comparison).

Watkins made $6 million last year.

Perhaps Watkins wasn't the guy who should've been bemoaning his paltry salary.

Sammy was butchered by those dreaded trollers, many who get up at the crack of dawn and work until the sun goes down for enough money to simply live on.

So, they're gonna' get paid.

We're still watching.

Let's stop publicizing the salaries.

It doesn't do anyone any good.

Maybe we should do a go-fund me for Sammy.

Poor guy.

Friday, July 7, 2017

An Ambitious Camper!

One of the things that's driven me absolutely nuts is that one side of my garage (the weather side, I'm told) was in great need of a coat of paint.

When Johnny arrived last week he said:

"Want me to paint your garage?"

"Yes!" I answered.

Yet, he's here for R&R...

...so I let it slide.

Or so I thought!

My own sons are very unlike me.

They're very casual. A bit leisurely.

Matt is the exception, as he will work hard at any job he's given and like me, he's obsessive.

Turns out, Johnny is too. I was hitting jobs on Thursday when he face-timed me. (It's never just a phone call with him. He wants to see who he's talking to).

"What's up?" I asked.

"Did you get the paint?"

He showed me that he had already started to scrap the garage.

"I'll get it," I said.

"Today!" He said. Then he hung up.m

I swung by Home Depot.

I dropped off the paint and then started writing reports. By the time I finished I moseyed down to the garage.

He had already scraped and painted a quarter of the garage.

I sat in a chair and scraped along with him.

"You know," I said. "Your Dad was the last guy to paint anything here."

"Really?"

"He painted the walls in the basement."

I hung with him for a little while and said:

"Let's just do the bottom half tonight. We can get the rest over the weekend."

I went off to make dinner and when I looked outside he had already started to scrap the other half.

"Thought you were done," I yelled out the window.

"Work until dinner is ready," he said.

Damn!

There would be a lot done around here if any of the other campers had the obsessive gene!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Nuclear Showdown

Heard news today that the trip to Europe is important because Trump is meeting with Putin, and the world is going to see what they can do about North Korea.

Pretty hopeful, huh?

Should go well.

And the way they do sell the news is a tad crazy.

"This could be a potential nuclear showdown!" The anchor said.

It's kind of like when two teams are undefeated at the mid-point of the season and they say:

"This might be a super bowl preview!"

"In this corner we have Donald.

Over here Kim Jong!"

"Who is crazy enough to press the button that might obliterate the 🌎?"

If Vegas were to take bets I'm thinking it might be even money.

Yet, the most ignorant of all moves was pulled off by non-other than the portly governor of New Jersey.

Chris Christie and his family spent some time down the shore where everything is all right.

Except the beach was closed...

...to everyone but his group.

Someone got wind of it and there was a photo of the first family just soaking up the sun.

Not a good look.

Then he made it even worse. He mentioned that it wasn't a story, but if he'd been laying there with a young, hot blonde...

...that would've been a scandal.

How tone-deaf can you be?

Your state shuts down the beaches on a holiday weekend over a budget fight...

...and you, as a leader, decide to go lay on the closed beach?

"If you want to do it, become the governor," Christie said.

So...

...do I think a nuclear showdown might be possible?

Yeah.

The leaders appear to be a little short on common sense.

You know who'd lose a nuclear showdown?

Millions of us.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Should I Wait?

We were on the 17th hole.

Patience was wearing thin.

Before each drive, Johnny would look off into the distance and see the group in front of us pulling the pin on the green some 400 yards away.

"Should I wait until they're done?" He'd ask.

"Hit the ball!" Chuck and I would yell in unison.

Following what would be a dribbler that would send Johnny and Sam into fits of laughter, Johnny would turn to walk away.

"Pick up your tee!" I would yell out.

18 times I told him to grab his special tee.

(It's there in his mouth in the photo).

And I look dumbfounded in the photo because just before he took it he said:

"My phone doesn't work."

I was trying to figure out what he was doing wrong.

He snapped the photo.

Yet, the 17th hole was the one that got me.

I was seated in the cart...

...very physically worn.

Johnny was right in front of me, lining up his shot.

I watched the placement of his club. He actually had the ball centered in his stance. He had the right club. He looked to be lining it up perfectly.

"Head stays down," I said for the 400th time.

Then I waited.

And waited.

Eyes never leaving the spot where his club would meet the ball.

Waited some more.

Finally looked up at him...

...and he was smiling menacingly, with two raised eyebrows.

"Hit the ball!" I said, laughing.

He was simply standing there, doing it all right, waiting for me to glance up so that he could laugh.

I did laugh, but my heart jumped straight to my throat.

There were so many moments when he pulled the exact same antics as Jeff.

Neither Sam or Johnny were good.

It didn't bother either one of them in the least.

Sam took four swings at a ball, never moving it an inch.

"Getting prepared," he said after each missed stroke and then the two of them would be crippled in laughter.

The more he missed the harder they laughed.

The laughter echoed all along the fairways of the same course that I had played hundreds of times with my brother...

...who was always looking to make us laugh.

"Did you have fun?" I asked the boys as we headed towards home.

"The not talking when other people are swinging is bullshit," Johnny said.

That about sums up our day.

My back aches, and my legs are buzzing, to be sure...

...but other muscles also hurt from non-use...

...the ab and face muscles from laughing that had been a forgotten part of my game.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

4th of July

There's more to being a proud American than just blaring a patriotic song and making threats against those who don't see America exactly as you do.

When it comes to being an American I'm more worried about a lot of things now than I ever was.

Like human rights.

Our constitution was written by a whole bunch of smart guys who had a lot of deep thoughts about how things might go. The checks and balances that were governed in were put in place to make sure that everyone would be represented.

A lot of those rights are being threatened.

Maybe not yours specifically, but those of Americans who have every right to protection of rights that you do.

Nobody wins unless everyone wins.

If the rights are stripped from even one group...we all lose.

Another thing that worries me is that there is an all-out attack on the mainstream media.

I'm sure you've seen the nonsense.

Every single day.

Fake, fraud, lying, crooked.

The White House briefings are short or not held at all. Questions are ignored or flat-out dismissed. There have been fights.

The delegitimization of the media is a plan.

We can't afford for the media to be shut down. They are one of the major checks and balances that I referenced above.

Does the media have it out for one politician?

Perhaps...especially in the mind of that one politician, but most reporters are professional, and will do their very best to ensure that there is integrity.

The attack against the media scares me more than anything else.

The intelligence community has gone to great lengths to let Americans know that a foreign government meddled in our election.

Millions of people are shrugging that off.

That's the 3rd scary thing.

The 4th thing...

...and the most troublesome of them all is the division between the left and the right.

If your a liberal know deep down that the conservatives are not your enemy.

If you're a fan of all that is conservative know that the liberals are Americans too.

Bad behavior is bad behavior.

Both sides are right on some things, both sides are wrong on others.

We used to remember that we are all Americans.

Hopefully during the celebrations today some of that will somehow creep back into the conversation.

I don't hold out a whole lot of hope though...

...but I am still a proud American.

Always have been.

Things just seem a little shaky right now.

Enjoy the day.


Monday, July 3, 2017

WWE

Easy like Sunday morning.

I've always enjoyed the feel of Sunday.

Church, Yankees, pasta or

Church, Bills, pasta.

Family has always been prominently featured, of course.

Sunday...that's my fun day.

My I don't have to run day.

Nice, relaxed feel.

Except for lately.

We've been hampered with a whole bunch of Sunday morning tweets now...

...by the president.

Evidently he has chosen Sunday morning as the time to air all grievances.

Vile, nasty things, actually.

This Sunday a tweet about CNN made the rounds.

Years ago, Trump participated in a WWE match. He sucker punched someone just outside the ring and in true WWE fashion...

...it was sort of entertaining and funny.

This Sunday that video was included with a CNN logo in the place where the guy's head was supposed to be.

I initially thought it was a parody account.

When I realized it truly was coming from the legitimate Trump account I thought:

"My God! It's Sunday morning!! People are trying to relax and forget about work and problems and just enjoy their day."

After I digested it further I thought:

"Uh-oh. There are unstable people out there who might think it's open season on reporters, anchors and producers."

That's no way to spend a Sunday morning.

Lately there have been a lot of stories about trying to get the phone out of the hand of the leader of the free world.

No one seems capable of getting it to stop, or to make it civil.

I'm thinking of making a new personal rule...

...no social media on Sunday.

Church, Yankees, pasta!

Church, Yankees, pasta!!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

7th Annual Jeff Fazzolari Memorial Thunder Road

There was a moment on Saturday when Johnny looked up at me, as he was eating a bowl of pasta for lunch. He looked up and smiled and I saw Jeff alive in his eyes.

We toyed with the idea of NOT having the softball tournament this year.

Playing ball is a tough go for some of us old dogs now. I only took two at-bats last year and even though I didn't run, I was beat up for a week afterwards.

Carrie was the inspiration to get things back on track again.

"Let's go!" She texted. "We can put it together!"

The date is August 13 at 11 a.m. At the New Oregon Park.

Back where we started!

After Carrie's text I started thinking about all that is right about the day.

The stuffed 🌶 peppers.

The laughs.

The unbelievable auction.

Baltimore representing!!

Friends from all over the country reaching out so that Jeff remains alive in the eyes of John, Farrah and Rocco!

And Mom!!

My mother absolutely loves that the town, and all the people we love show up...

...to bring the love.

So:

"Let's Go!"

Is absolutely right!!

The 🎉 party! The celebration!!

Hope to see you there!!

Sunday, August 13!

11 a.m.

Bring the love!!!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Knee High By the 4th of July

The corn is supposed to be knee-high by the 4th of July. I passed a cornfield...

...we seem to be on target.

Yet everyone is camping!

We don't camp.

My beautiful wife's philosophy on it is:

"We bought a house. Why the hell do we wanna' go somewhere smaller, sleep in a lousy bed, use a tiny bathroom and sit outside around a fire?"

I don't have an answer to that!

My own bed will be a lot more restful for the days off. Yet there's the whole getting away and in touch with nature...

...that might be fun...

But it was about 45 degrees last night!

And the damn rain. They're saying it might rain all weekend.

But the rough go is that any and all of my golf partners are ⛺️ in a damn tent!

So, Camp Clifford is open for business, at least at the start of the weekend. Perhaps we will break out of the bubble as the weekend progresses, but first off, we are waiting for:

Johnny, and we stopped out to North Collins to wish my beautiful cousin, Mary Ann, a surprise Happy 🎉 Birthday.

Of course, Johnny will arrive to great fanfare and I'm sure that there will be a couple of late nights right off the bat.

But it's  Independence Day!

Have some fun!

May your fires start quickly, may the tent posts go into the ground smoothly, and keep the beer cold and the barbecue warm.

We're gonna' relax...

...and see what shakes out.

If anyone sees the ☀️

Send it to Western New York!

The campers need it!

And if the legs work...

...a lone golfer might.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Twighlight Zone

So, Trump got up on Thursday morning and watched the MSNBC Show called the Morning Joe.

He evidently didn't like what they were saying about him because he went to Twitter and attacked the female host.

Called names, made a facelift reference...

...just nastiness.

That's not the problem.

People should certainly know him by now.

He's an obese dude who calls people fat.

He certainly could be described as odd-looking, and he hates ugly people.

Others he calls liars, or crooked, or crazy, or whiny.

He's certainly been all of those things from time to time.

I'm mentioning all of this because we seem to be changing the rules a little bit.

The White House briefing on Thursday was must watch television...

....there was a speaker who droned on about immigration for 10 minutes and then Sarah Huckabee Sanders spoke about a number of other issues, all designed to make the reporters forget that the man-child had an epic tantrum first thing out of bed.

"I can take some questions," she said, hopeful that it would be about anything else.

"Regarding the president's tweet this morning. Do you think it's justified?"

And so it began.

Stunningly Huckabee-Sanders said that she had no problem with the Twitter attack.

"He's gonna' punch back."

I just stared at the radio that was playing the briefing.

What happens now?

We all call each other names?

"She's fat."

"He's bald."

"She's dumb."

Are you freaking kidding me????

Everyone is good with the president of the United States taking pot shots at whoever the hell he wants?

With weird nicknames?

Think about it!

It's widely accepted!!

He gets on social media and just unloads!

I can't be the only one who finds it weird. There's no one at all who can say:

"STOP IT!"

I guess not.

"I really don't have a problem with it," one senator said. "We have more important things to tackle and this is how the president communicates."

Just plain wild.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

What A Fool Believes

Heard the Doobie Brothers yesterday.

They were a band of my youth, and I listened to all their hits, like everyone else...

...but there's more to it than that.

My childhood friend and neighbor Yvonne is out in San Francisco with her husband, Tony. She's been posting a number of photos over the last few days.

The two stories converged in my mind and I thought back to a day around the pool at the apartment complex, in San Bruno, in 1983.

It was a great summer!

We were all working at the Meridien Hotel where Dad was the top dog on the huge project. I had just started my career as a union laborer and John was working with the crew installing the telephone systems.

Everyone else from out of town was also hanging out around the pool. I forget all the names, but Ralph and Rudy were a couple of the mainstays.

We'd drink beer, grill steak, chicken, ribs...

...all sorts of things.

One Sunday, the beer was really flowing.

We were hanging out, talking with everyone and Dad was certainly the top dog around the grill too. We were well known all around the apartment complex.

Dad was cooking on one grill...

...there was another group cooking chicken at a second grill.

We all got to talking.

Turns out, one of the guys working the barbecue was in the music business. John and I were blown away when he told us that he was the bass player with the Doobie Brothers, and that a couple of other guys in his group were also band members.

"You guys wanna' see the gold records?"

We watched him flip the chicken one last time, gave the black man (who I believe is original member Tiran Porter) one of our beers, and followed him to his apartment. He showed us the gold records, which were displayed on his wall, and we talked about Rock & Roll.

"Gotta' get back to the chicken," he said.

When we returned poolside, Dad was at the grill...

...eating a piece of Tiran's chicken.

"What the f$&@!" Tiran yelled out.

"It's true," Dad called out. "You guys are better at cooking chicken."

Tiran (who for some reason we were calling Oscar) laughed.

We spent the rest of the afternoon, sharing the Doobie Brothers chicken, our steak, and a whole bunch of beer.

"You're Dad is one crazy bastard," Tiran said, in summation.

And that's our brush with the immortal Doobie Brothers.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Hard Lessons

Life deals it out, doesn't it?

Was chatting with a guy on one of the sites. He'd spent a little time away for a 3rd DWI.

Sounds strange, but he's a good guy.

"You done with the stupid shit?" I asked him.

"Oh yeah, losing game. I'm on top of it now. Never again. I learned my lesson. I'm not going back in."

I believe him, but I'm a little worried for him too.

Thing is, we always have things to worry about, for others, and for ourselves too.

We're all vulnerable to weakness and self-knowledge usually comes immediately after you've messed something up.

You know where the dynamic is strangest though:

With our kids.

"Don't do that," is usually met with scorn or disbelief.

You really don't want to allow them to make mistakes, but you can't hold the leash too tight or you get blow back.

So, you watch and hope they aren't totally hammered by the lessons learned.

And the funny thing about hard lessons is that you can learn them...

...then slip back...

...and have to learn them again.

Change isn't ever easy, especially as time puts distance between the mistakes.

I've had to learn a few things about my physical capabilities as I've battled leg, feet and back difficulties.

"You have to change the way you work," my doctor has said, every three months or so.

Yet, you know what my mind knows?

Yeah, doing it the way it's always been done.

And you try to take the lessons and make a new reality, but it's never easy.

I'm hoping the guy on the job site stays away from his car every time that he has a beer, for the rest of his days, but the mind is a tricky thing.

"I only had one," gives way to "I'm three miles from my house," to "I only had two beers, occifer."

Think of all that you've learned since day one.

As children we are all so curious and teachable.

As adults...

...we mess it up.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Compassion

Years ago I spent time at the Women & Children's Hospital on the parent advisory panel and I always felt badly when I'd get home after a meeting.

There were some really sick kids.

Some who would never be well again.

Some who were completely and utterly disabled.

There were also parents on the panel who'd lost their children.

I'd feel so badly for them.

Compassion.

I feel worse for a lot of them as they listen to the governmental decisions that might affect them. There's a Mom making the rounds now, showing her son, and talking about his battle to stay alive. I saw a photo of the kid on Twitter. His little chest was now home to a long, jagged scar. His Mom posted a photo of the hospital bill...over $90,000...her insurance paid all but $500.

The kid will need a few more surgeries.

Mom is worried that he will no longer have insurance.

"Tough shit," one guy wrote in the comments section. "Get a job where you have good insurance and you won't have to worry about what the government healthcare is!"

That's NOT compassion!

And I suppose I don't understand it very much. I think that we were once a nation that thought better things about the poor or unfortunate at one time.

Listen, there will always be fraud in any system.

Fraud also takes place in all tax brackets, by the way.

Yet, how can you look at a young child with a zipper running down his chest and think:

"Tough shit!"

What happened to our heart?

Do we not care at all?

Can you imagine that Mom and Dad getting the news:

"We can't do the surgery because your insurance denied coverage?"

That would be virtually impossible to deal with...

...but 'tough shit' guy doesn't care.

The comments conversation continued and that same guy wrote:

"Boo-hoo! We all have troubles."

I wouldn't be so sad about it if I didn't feel that it was becoming a prevalent thought.

I grew up in a town and a time where we cared about each other's fortunes.

I refuse to believe that those days are gone for good...

...but I'm really starting to wonder.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Old Timer's Day

I caught a couple of innings of the 71st Old Timer's Day at Yankee Stadium, and like all the other years, I smiled a little.

Mickey Rivers made a basket catch in left center.

He's not Mick the Quick anymore.

Who could forget Rivers leading off for those '77 & '78 teams. He'd put a bunt down and fly down the line.

At Old Timer's Day Rivers ran like I run. He has to be over 70 now.

Jorge Posada was in the game for the first time. When he stepped into the batter's box I instantly thought of him hitting the double off Pedro to tie Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS Game at 5.

My phone rang five straight times as Jorge pumped his fist at second.

It was after midnight, but three brothers, a friend and my Mom all called.

Paul O'Neill left early because he pulled a calf muscle.

The Warrior won 5 World Series during his playing days. Calf muscles age on professional athletes too!

I certainly enjoy watching the old guys come back, but I definitely know how quickly it goes...

...won't be long before Aaron Judge is playing in the Old Timer's Game.

Time waits for no one!

I'll be watching when Judge's career is over too!

Hopefully!

Now let's get number 28!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sixty Years & Sam At 17

Today is Sam's 17th 🎉 Birthday.

Which is crazy.

I keep thinking about ten years down the road.

Hoping I can limp through the next thirty-six hundred days and see them settled in their lives.

We went to a party for my in-laws 60th wedding anniversary and Sam and Jake were getting a lot of questions about what they want to do.

"We're enjoying our childhood," was their pat answer.

But the gatherings are amazing to me now. I see nieces and nephews who are in their 30's...

...already settled into their jobs and marriages...

...and I think back to when they were 10!

Goes fast!

My in-laws were fun to watch at such a party.

Sixty-freaking years!!

"What time are you renewing your vows?" I asked my father-in-law as soon as I arrived.

"Get the hell away from me," he said.

So, I asked the same question to my mother-in-law.

"I'd rather shoot him," she said, with a laugh.

That's how it goes, but they aren't fooling anyone.

You don't get to 60 years without a few battles and a lot of love.

I watched Sam play with his brothers at the party. They were making fun of each other, and laughing.

Life.

Happy Anniversary to my in-laws!

Happy Birthday to Sam!

60

And

17.

Wild 😜

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Ripped Out of Wheelchairs

We've certainly seen our share of protests over the course of the last year, haven't we?

There was another one the other day.

It showed a bunch of people at the offices of one of the political leaders who is spearheading the healthcare bill that will, potentially, replace the Affordable Care Act.

I've kept up on it. I can't claim to understand all of it, but there certainly are reports out there that might scare folks who are suffering with debilitating illnesses.

Yeah.

Not funny stuff.

Some of the reports of the protest were extremely disturbing as the protest got ugly (as they often do) and many of the people were physically removed from their wheelchairs and escorted out of the protest.

I never thought I'd write a sentence like that in America.

People yanked out of their wheelchairs and removed from a protest.

Are we heading towards another Kent State?

There are reports that detail the new healthcare bill, as allowing for a tax break for the wealthiest of all Americans, and will include the gutting of Medicaid that, in a few years time, would badly damage older people, and the poorest among us. There was also a doomsday prediction that about 800 rural hospitals could be a casualty.

(One thing that is important is that poor people are STILL people...with hopes, dreams, and lives. Also, important to consider is that a lot of the people who fall into the poor category get up and go to work every day. Not everyone believes that, but it is most certainly true).

There are reports that as many as 24 million people would be without healthcare (but with access to care they can't come close to affording) within three years.

You might note that I am simply noting the perceived facts of what those people lined up, and rolled up, to protest.

Maybe all of those things aren't true?

Perhaps there will be negotiation that makes it 'less mean.'

We don't quite know because a lot of the details have been contrived behind closed doors.

The indisputable part of what we know so far is that people are scared for their lives.

The most worrisome aspect of it, for me, is that there is a left-right argument brewing.

(Of course).

If 24 million people are kicked from the healthcare rolls...

...it won't matter if you voted left or right.

Both groups will suffer.

Immeasurably.

How does a tax cut for the wealthy fit in there anywhere?

That's where I'm absolutely lost.

I was horrified by a few of the people being removed from their chairs, screaming, crying and desperate.

Desperation will rule the day.

I've seen desperation explode into pain.

It's a tough place to be.

All of my life I've had at least a little confidence in our leaders.

But then again...

...I've never seen physically disabled people forcibly removed for voicing their fears.

It's not left-right.

It might be life-death.

That's how some people are reading it.

And they should be heard.

This is America.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Breaking News

O.J. Simpson is the guy who turned the news into entertainment when he butchered two people.

Then everyone was in a battle to beat the other guy. Led to all kinds of crap.

Now everything is BREAKING NEWS including the fact that O.J. Is up for parole come July...

...and I've seen more than one person root for his release:

"Let the Juice Loose!!!"

Yeah.

So he can possibly kill again.

You know who he even more nerve than O.J.?

Bill Cosby!

He's going to do town halls on how to avoid sexual assault situations.

How arrogant can you be??

Will he interview any of his sixty or so victims?

I don't understand how people get so tone deaf on a situation.

You know who's unbelievable about deception, arrogance and then just forgetting everything about something awful that he did?

I'll give you a hint:

He's Orange.

He tweeted, more than a month ago, that Comey better hope that there aren't tapes of their conversations.

Then he waited and ducked all questions about whether or not he had taped the conversations.

Then he announced that he had no idea if there are tapes.

BREAKING NEWS!!!!

"There aren't any tapes."

How's that for making news and turning it into something.

He lied.

30 days later he copped to it.

It was BREAKING NEWS...

Twice!

And it didn't mean a damn thing.

O.J. out of jail.

Cosby avoided jail.

Orange wants to stay out of jail.

Stay tuned.

It's all news all the time these days.

Damn O.J.!



Thursday, June 22, 2017

Happy Birthday, Brother

It's my brother Jeff's birthday today.

He's not here to celebrate 🎉 it with us, but make no mistake, he's with me.

Every single day.

Yesterday I was listening to my I-pod on the airplane.

The Stones hit my ear - Sway - from Sticky Fingers - and I recalled a phone call.

"That songs amazing."

We talked about the cover of the album and how Mick and Keith were unreal when it came to writing songs together.

Jeff didn't care about the songwriting as much when it came to the Stones. He just cared that it rocked.

It gave way to Stolen Car by Bruce...the version that was released on Tracks rather than on The River. I thought about the fact that Jeff was partial to the Tracks version.

And that's how it goes.

Every day.

Things to remind me...

...whether it's music, baseball or just every day life.

He's whispering in my ear.

And in the ears of my siblings and friends and Mom.

That's a morsel of comfort.

Not quite enough...

...that's for sure.

And all this time later...

...8 years.

And it's still indescribable.

Life changed, for sure, and I'm reminded daily that it's not for the better.

It still really sucks...

...but Jeff deserves a celebration 🎉 on his birthday!

So I will push that grief away.

Get into the Sway a little bit.

And celebrate the day...

...instead of trying to understand it.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Otto

What a horrific story.

Otto Warmbier died on Monday after spending a long while in a coma.

He was a 22 year-old boy who, while on a tour in North Korea, was arrested for trying to steal a political banner.

He was branded as an enemy of the state and was held there for 18 months before being sent back to Ohio...

...in a coma.

The details of the story are absolutely horrifying, and I couldn't even watch the Dad speak of the loss of his boy.

Of course everyone is absolutely aghast with the horror of it all, but day after day we are forced to take in the horrors of the world.

Makes me wonder.

I won't be around long enough to see if humans get it right. I was hopeful as a youngster, but the older you get the more hopeless it appears.

There are men around the world who are content to get into a vehicle and plow into innocent people. Others wield guns or knives.

Not caring who they maim or kill.

Years ago I used to argue with my brother-in-law Chuck about the death penalty, war...etc...

He would call me an idealistic dreamer and I labeled him as a war monger.

We actually debated everything.

Chuck used to tell me that my world view was too rose-colored.

He explained that the people we were talking about weren't interested in peaceful resolution to some of the World's problems.

I would argue that point from morning to night.

"People are basically good!" I would argue.

But now, I wonder.

Beat down!

Maybe Sir Charles was right.

Perhaps there's no way to peacefully solve things.

But I stand by what I always have said:

There are still more good people in the world than bad people.

Right?

Right?

Damn, I hope I'm right.

RIP Otto.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Et Tu Brute?

We read a lot of Shakespeare in 9th grade English. Miss Sepielski (RIP) used to let me be the lead character in the readings of all the plays.

I was Romeo and Caesar.

My classmates were eternally grateful that I loved doing the reading because they didn't have to.

They also knew which way to turn their head when the book reports assignments were announced. I must've done ten book reports a quarter, trying to dumb down the writing to fit the guy!

It was like a part-time job!

So, I was the geek who enjoyed the plays, plus I can still remember the pretty girl who was Juliet that year...

...was my only little connection with her.

(When the play-acting was over she ran down the hall).

Anywhoha...

Old William is in the news because they're putting on the play in Central Park with a lead who supposedly looks like Trump.

I guess that the inference is that since Julius died in the end that those involved with running the play are hoping that history somehow repeats itself.

Wow!

And this isn't just an isolated incident.

Big, beard-covered dudes have been bum-rushing the stage, yelling:

"I'm sick of this shit!"

They aren't changing the words long-written by Shakespeare!

They're objecting to the guy in the role!!

That would've been like Juliet turning to our teacher and saying,

"We're supposed to believe that dweeb is Romeo????"

Thank God that didn't happen!

It's called suspending belief.

I'm not sure that the actor was chosen because he is supposed to be Donald.

Perhaps.

And that's goofy too.

Give respect to the work.

Do the plays as Billy wrote them down.

They're good enough as they were written.

I long for the days when I was the star of the play.

"Oh Romeo, where for art thou?"

Poor girl cried when she read that line...

...and I answered her.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Can I Borrow Your Charger?

My God!!!

I've heard that every day for what has to be about 200 straight days!

And it drives me absolutely crazy.

I have a charger for my car.

I also have one for around the house.

I like my phone to be close to fully charged at all time. (Spare me the 'It's bad for your battery' lecture. I have OCD),

We ran into a little danger one night when I went into Sam's room and saw the red line of my car charger.

"Why do you have my charger?" I asked.

"Lost mine. I've used it every night for a week," he said. "I've put it back in your car every day before you've needed it."

The next day, he forgot.

I let it go.

"What's your phone at?" My beautiful wife asks each night.

"Why? Where's yours?"

"Jake borrowed it."

I reluctantly hand it over if I'm at 90 or better.

"They sell chargers at every gas station from here to California," I said. "I have mine every time I need it. Get your own!"

I think part of the "I'm missing my stuff and it pisses me off" attitude comes from having lived alone for a lot of years.

"I'll give it right back to you!"

Doesn't actually work well for me.

Ah well.

My phone is currently at 88.

I can almost live with that.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happy Father's Day!

Spent a little time on Saturday morning in the barn on my Mom's property.

Dad was a epic hoarder before anyone knew what that actually was.

There is a ton of scrap there. Tools, old doors, window screens, and buckets of nuts and bolts and screws and drill bits.

Things I have zero use for.

And the barn is showing signs of wear and tear. It's gonna' come down, one way or another.

Everything breaks down eventually.

My brother John found a stack of daily prayer books that Dad had stuffed in one of the drawers.

Mom showed me a letter that was like a text in my marriage these days:

"The ribs are in the oven at 350. Don't touch them. I'll be home to take them out and do the potatoes. Just getting cigs. Will be back soon."

He signed it "Love, Fuzzy."

Finally, attached to the wall was the drivers license of my buddy, Chris Heinold. I took a photo of it and texted Chris.

"Why is this on the wall in my Dad's barn?" I asked.

"He stole it from me!" Chris texted back. "I swear every time I was over there he made me cry laughing. He was hysterical."

So, I got on the riding mower and thought about Dad as I mowed the lawn on the property that he loved. From the back yard I could take in the full beauty of the home that he built with his Dad, his brother, and his uncles and brother-in-laws and friends.

A colossal effort.

An amazing place to grow up.

"Did you find my gold chain?" Chris texted later.

I laughed.

Dad threatened to fight Chris if he tried to jump in the pool while wearing jewelry.

"He came at me in the boxer's stance. He whacked me in the nuts when I tried to cover my face."

My Dad was a funny guy.

Lived every day hard.

Was proud of his kids.

Showed us what love is.

Taught us about working hard and what respecting people was about, even when we were smacking them in the groin, for fun.

Happy Father's Day, Dad.

I mimic all of your best moves with my boys.

"Love, Fuzzy."

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Niagara Falls

As a safety guy I kind of don't get the death defying stuff.

The Wallendas were back at it this week.

Erindira went above the falls in a copter. She stayed connected to it by her toes and then by her teeth. There were about 500 people there to watch it.

Then news broke that Kirk Jones had died, trying to go over the falls in an inflatable ball. He had been one of only four people who had survived an unprotected plunge.

That was back in 2004.

At the time he said that he did it to prove to himself that he could handle fear, and that it taught him to believe in himself. He said, at the time, that he was done with the Falls.

 Being so close to dying had cured him of wanting to die.

Not sure what happened there.

He got into an inflatable ball and decided that he was gonna' bounce clear to the other side...

...he didn't stay in the ball.

And I've always wondered about the crowd watching one of those daredevil events is actually thinking.

Did they want to see Erindira come unglued and end up plunging to her death?

I watched Nic do his walk across the Falls a few years back...

...but he was tethered...

...which removed the drama a little.

I've known a few guys who've jumped out of airplanes.

Some were in the military so it was part of the job.

Yet I know a principal who did it.

And just last week another friend.

There are a bunch of safety precautions involved in doing something like that. You can control that a little!

Getting into a ball and hoping it all works out???

They estimate that about 5,000 people have died at the Falls.

40-50 people a year jump in on purpose every year.

As suicide spots go it pales in comparison to the Golden Gate Bridge.

I've lived in the area most of my life...

...I've been to the foot of the Falls so many times that there are times when I'm in the park and I don't even look.

Last year I worked with a contractor and a fall protection plan had to be developed so the crew didn't fall into the water.

The power is amazing.

Every guy in that crew imagined what it might feel like to take that ride.

Didn't take much to get them to cooperate at that project.

No one wanted to take that final ride..

...and yet some do it for fun.

What a 🌎

Friday, June 16, 2017

Time Out!

Life is a funny old thing.

I worked out my schedule on Monday and had actually noted which sites I'd visit each day.

Life intervened.

I'll spare you the details, but I haven't been able to put weight on my foot since Wednesday morning.

I tried.

Then it became apparent that I couldn't do it.

Couldn't walk.

So, a huge time out.

There are still things that can be done work-wise without standing up, but there's frustration for sure!

And it dawned on me, for about the hundredth thousand time in my life that:

A). We don't control much.

And

B). There are so many things we take for granted.

"This will pass," I kept telling myself. "I don't ever take days off. Rest!! Stop trying to get up!!"

The troublesome thing is that I'm not exactly a carefree person.

And it's been a life-long struggle to get there.

Thankfully, Camp Clifford is in full swing so there's been someone here nearly every minute of the two days.

"Bring me a water," has been texted a number of times.

Depending upon others is a good lesson for me too.

I don't have to do everything.

We have guys actually hitting those sites I can't get to.

Dinner will get made!

The dogs will still get their ride.

And I will stand up again.

Did you know that they play Law & Order all day every day?


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Stop it!

Crazy.

Now when there's a mass shooting there's a mad rush to get to the bottom of the shooter.

Brown?

Oh boy!

Those are the ones who are wildly condemned...particularly if there is a middle eastern name attached.

White guy?

(Most mass shooters are).

And there's a crazy attempt, by one lunatic or another, to try and justify it.

I'm not getting into too many particulars here, but it seems to me that there are people out there who are okay with the loss of life, or terror of it all...

...if it suits their narrative.

That's just crazy!!

I listened to one of the congressmen explain what was going on at the ball field as a freaking lunatic opened fire.

The man was shaken (obviously) and his voice broke as he painted a horrifying picture of the terror of being in the wrong place, at the wrong time, when the wrong guy, was in the wrong mood...

...as he waved a rifle around and tried to pick off as many people as he could.

The shooter ended up dead and the injuries suffered, while horrific, were not life-threatening.

And then every single idiot with their own private soap box stood up and made it even more toxic.

He's white!

He liked Bernie!!

Or he was a patriot because Trump is so hateful.

Stop it!

🛑 ✋ ✋

Stop!!

People are dying on our streets over this stupidity.

Megyn Kelly is interviewing Alex Jones this week...

... he made a ton of money by saying Sandy Hook was fake...

...and the parents who lost children there were actually just actors.

What in the hell is going on???

Before throwing out your "thoughts & prayers"  and then spreading hate against that which doesn't fit your agenda...

Just stop!

We gotta' start respecting life a little here...

...and ✋ being so damn dumb.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Remains

A story broke over the weekend about human remains being discovered by hikers in the woods behind the Marion Fricano Town Park in North Collins, New York.

Of course, North Collins is my small hometown. The remains were discovered about a mile from my childhood home.

WTH???

We watch a lot of true crime around Camp Clifford. That's Kathy's go-to entertainment channel. ID TV.

There's a real life drama unfolding.

I heard, through the small town grapevine that the body had been there for years and years. More than   10...

...maybe up to 30!

"It can't be someone from North Collins," my buddies mentioned. "There's no one we know who's missing."

True enough.

Yet I can't imagine finding human body parts.

That in and of itself has to be a tad disconcerting.

Was it murder?

A hiker who had a major problem??

A dumped victim???

I'm sure we'll hear a lot more.

"Crazy town," I said. "We had two cop shootings there. A murder just a few years back of a mentally challenged girl, a rape at the same park."

Crazy!

Hey, maybe it'll wind up on ID TV.

That's not a stretch.'

One of my unstated goals in life is to not be identified as "remains."

As my Dad once said after we listened to the details of a horrific murder years back:

"May he rest in pieces."

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Birthday 🎉 Blog

Happy 20th 🎈 Birthday 🎉 to my son Jake.

Yet, 2 weeks ago it was Matt's 🎈 24th Birthday 🎉 as well and I caught hell.

"Where was Matt's Birthday 🎉 blog?" My beautiful wife asked.

Well, two weeks from yesterday is the date for Sam's 🎈 🎉 Birthday.

Unbelievably, Sam turns 17.

So, you see the problem.

So many birthdays all in the same time frame. So, we'll make it one big birthday 🎉 blog fiesta!

They're all fun in their own way, and it's been a blast being their Dad. We laugh a lot, we talk sports, and day after day we've bonded together to treat Kathy like a princess.

I know it's not easy to raise kids in this day and age. There are so many things that can frighten parents out of their minds.

If they're out and I hear a police siren 🚨 I worry.

When they say they're gonna' go to McDonalds to eat after we just ate I try to reason with them.

"I can make you something."

There are so many days when I wish I could still play basketball 🏀 with them in the driveway, but I listen to their back and forth and it makes me smile because I knew that the best thing that we could do for them was to build a home where they were each other's best friends...

...and they are.

"They're fighting," Kathy would say as they grew.

"So what?" I'd ask, knowing that they weren't fighting to the extent that they'd ever be too mad at one another.

They've cost us a fortune in chicken fries alone!

They don't clean their room to my satisfaction, but as I think of each of them...as I do every day and not just on their birthdays...

I understand how truly blessed we've been.

"They're good kids," is the best of all compliments.

And they are.

Even if I still worry...

...I now will purposely text them a tidbit when they're not home:

"Judge homered," will usually get a response.

So, Happy Birthday 🎊🎉🎁🎂🎈 to our boys.

I used to joke:

"You're out when you turn 18!"

Now I don't care if they hang out until they're 50 or so.

They bring the joy.

And joy is about love.

Happy Birthday to the hoodlums.

Stay as long as you'd like.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Are We Having Fun Yet?

The 27-Time World Champion Greatest Franchise in the History of Organized American Sports is back in first place...

...and the Yankees are really making life miserable for the dopey people who hate them.

Well, actually, I'm doing that!

I sent out a Facebook post on Saturday after the Yankees pounded the hapless O's on Friday night. I actually predicted that the Yankees would put up a 20-spot on Saturday.

They only got to 16.

Yet, my poor Baltimore cousins got tired of either me or the Bombers.

"Cliff sucks," was the consensus.

But it's been a great start.

They hit bullets all over the field.

They're pitching pretty well.

And Aaron Judge is a ridiculously strong human being and he's just hammering the ball.

On Sunday he cleared the bleachers with a 495' blast that was gone from the playing field in a split second.

Now I know what people thought when they were watching Mantle.

10 runs is an every day occurrence.

Yet, the fun part isn't just watching the team win.

It's aggravating everyone!!

Of course it is.

Yet, there is a downside.

When they lose their one game a week I get phone calls and texts.

I can take it!

Especially if number 28 is just around the corner.




Sunday, June 11, 2017

Construction Glory Days

Ran into a construction 🔨 superintendent on one of the jobs.

There were a few younger, Hispanic guys doing everything wrong as they tried to protect themselves from a fall that would maim or kill them.

"Listen, boys," I said. "You're young and you think you're strong and it won't happen, but your life will end."

They understood enough to know what I was talking about. As I lectured them they hustled to put the right protection in place, and as I was walking away with the superintendent we began talking about our first jobs.

"I was 17," I said. "I was 30 stories up on a 47-story hotel and there wasn't any protection there. My foreman tossed me a body belt and said 'Use it if you're scared, you p$&sy.'"

My buddy laughed. He told a similar story about being in bad spots.

"I worked hard," I said. "My Dad was the BIG boss. He was running the whole job, and he wanted me to really see what hard work felt like. I was the lead guy on the concrete hose for all the concrete pours on 47 floors. Every day we poured concrete from 6 a.m. To about 2 p.m."

The superintendent was impressed. He hadn't known that.

Suddenly, I laughed as a mental image took over.

"What?" He asked.

"I used to be starving!" I said. "There are never breaks when the concrete is flowing and we always had trucks backed up, so, we never ate. I was bitching about it one night on the way home, and Dad didn't say much. He was saying, 'Yeah, tough shit, that's life.'"

"That IS how it goes," The super said.

"Anyway, next day, we're in about our 5th hour of the pour and I hear, "Cliff!"

"I turn around and Dad, the guy who actually was the lead boss of about seven hundred people was standing behind a column with a sandwich wrapped in tinfoil."

The superintendent laughed.

"'Get over here!' Dad said.

"'I can't,' I told Dad. 'There are 25 other guys here who aren't eating!'"

"'I don't give a shit about them!' Dad said. 'You're my son, eat.'"

My buddy laughed at the memory.

"That's a good Dad," he said.

"I remember the sandwich," I said. "Eggs with Italian Sausage and hot peppers. It might've been the best sandwich I ever ate."

And we kept talking about the old days and how hard we had each worked as we became men.

"And now we're the bosses," the super said.

"And it's up to us to teach."

"You were lucky," he said. "Your Dad was a good teacher."

"The best," I said. "He gave me two educations. He'd be happy that I'm still out here."

And that's the one thing that hasn't changed in 35 years.

I absolutely love wearing a hard hat and being out there on the sites, peeing in a box, waiting for the coffee truck and working hard.

"Work harder than everyone else," Dad used to say. "Do more than what they expect."

I don't see a lot of that attitude in the new crew coming up, but things get built now.

"It just takes us a lot longer now," the super said.

Ahh!

The good old days!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

I'll Be Honest With You

I listened to a lot of the Comey hearing on Thursday.

What in the hell was John McCain trying to say?

Holy cow! I listened to his question a couple of times and then read the transcript of it. I actually thought he was drunk! He passed it off, saying that he was up late watching a ⚾️ game. So, I can sort of give him a pass, but, dude...

...you were supposed to be ready for work.

The thing that gets me about listening to politicians is that they often say:

"Well, to be honest with you."

Or

"Do you want me to be honest?"

Let's just cut those phrases out!

As House used to say:

"Everyone lies!"

Politicians ALWAYS lie!

And the spin.

My God!!!

Comey comes right out and calls Trump a liar.

Trump's supporters say:

"So, he lied! But Comey didn't say he raped anyone!! That's good!"

And these people get paid huge money for this high-powered "work".

He lied. She lied. We lied. They lied.

Let me be honest here:

Lying bastards aren't actually doing anything, but trying to figure out who lied less!

The hearing itself was interesting.

Not sure what I learned, but it's so hard for me to figure out how a guy like Marco Rubio can now be partners with Donny.

Wasn't Marco the guy who was absolutely embarrassed during the primary?

Didn't he get called all sorts of names?

Now they love each other???

Honestly.

It's all such a huge lie.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Camp Clifford Is Opening

We had a discussion about the extension cord for the chargers for our phones.

We have the same discussion every night.

"What are you at?" Kathy asked, as she noticed that I had my charger plugged into the short cord.

"Why?" I asked.

"I need the cord."

"Where's yours?" I asked.

"Upstairs. Come on, what are you at?"

"I'm only at 96 percent," I said. "Why can't we get another $4 extension cord so we don't have this conversation every night?"

And that's where we're at.

Camp Clifford is worn down.

There's paint needed. There's some cleaning that needs to take place (particularly in the rooms of our two extended campers).

The air conditioning is on the Fritz.

Yet, we will be opening for business in just a couple of days.

Sam was in bed the other EVENING as he took his post-school nap.

"What do you think you're gonna' do all summer?" I asked.

"You're kinda' looking at it," he said.

Of course he knew that I'd be cracking the whip, but I did laugh.

"When does Camp open?" My nephew Johnny asked as he face-timed me during the Yankee game.

"Soon," I said.

"I need a bed," he answered.

"You may have to work," I said.

"Whatever you need!" He answered.

Lord help me.

They have plenty of room for all kinds of fun activities!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The N-Word

Bill Maher said something stupid on his show last week.

He referred to himself as a "House N------"

Dopey!

The outcry was immediate, as it should've been.

Maher is a rich, white guy, who was doing a live show and was trying to be funny.

What is most discouraging about his dumb attempt is that he is also a left-wing pundit who crucifies others for their blatant racism and poor word choices.

So, much like Kathy Griffin, the problems he is having now, are well-deserved.

"We're screwed," a 50-something guy said to me on a job site, "Because we grew up calling each other colorful names that can't be used anymore."

The guy had a point!

We used to bash one another using derogatory names about one another's nationality as well as perceived sexual orientation.

My brothers and sisters and friends called me every name in the book.

A lot of those names are no longer welcome in today's society...

...Maher knows this.

He screwed up epically.

And the outrage is justified for those who have been hammered by the prejudice of an awful word that means more than just a simple word to them.

"Everyone is so offended," the guy on the site said. "We need to toughen up."

"So Maher shouldn't be fired?" I asked.

"Well, I hate him," the guy said, "but nah. Make him pay a huge fine to a black group, and move on. Hit these idiots in the pocketbook and they'll stop saying it."

Not a bad idea.

Yet before you say toughen up, think about those who have slandered you for something that is prejudicial. I was once in court and while on the stand as a witness in a construction incident involving one of my clients a lawyer asked me to say my last name. I did. He then asked me if I had once been in a laborers union in Buffalo.

I was surprised, but said yes.

"And some members of that union were in trouble for corruption, right? You a proud Italian-American."

I did the math.

He was trying to paint a picture based on my nationality even though I had been out of the union for ten years by the time the corruption was discovered.

I will never forget how angry I was with that guy.

He withdrew his questions.

Yet the damage was done.

I think of that when I hear someone say, "Toughen up!"

It's not right.

Maher was colossally stupid.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Responding to Tragedy

We're watching the Net Flix show, Bloodlines, season three, and there's so much tragedy throughout that it's devolved into a show where I kind of hate everyone.

They all act like idiots because of the battles that they've lost.

And I was reading about the tweet battle between the president of our country and a mayor in London who is dealing with an unspeakable tragedy.

After sending a tweet of solidarity to the people of the U.K., Donald decided to go on the offensive. He attacked the words of the mayor who asked his citizens to not be alarmed about the added police presence.

Then he doubled down and called the guy pathetic.

Which was pathetic.

And then I read about Ariana Grande, a pop singer, who could sing her greatest hit on my front porch and I wouldn't recognize it.

She had just left the stage as the bombs killed people in Manchester.

She canceled her tour and went home, and at home, she decided to actually respond to tragedy in an ambitious way.

She put together a benefit concert.

Raised $12 million for those poor suffering people.

There are lessons to learn here.

How do you respond when tragedy hits?

Every character in Bloodlines has gone off on a bender.

They're all angry.

"I'm hoping for a hurricane," I said. "So the entire town gets torn asunder."

I can't imagine what any of those families are going through. On the news we only see the number.

7 dead in London.

5 murdered in Orlando.

Countless more in Manchester.

No one counts the other people who partially die.

The mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends.

All suffering.

And that's why more people need to think before they tweet, or disparage, or shout from the shadows about their own selfish interests.

I don't know Ariana Grande from a bag of oranges, but I have respect for the way that she responded.

A 23-year old kid who is a lot wiser than a whole bunch of others.

Particularly the Rayburns from Bloodlines.

And all the other idiots.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Baskets

When I was young I loved to play basketball. We ran a few times a week in rec leagues and I was in my 30's before I stopped doing that.

After that we turned every party into a shooting contest.

Through my 40's we shot in the driveway. My kids and my friend's kids played along.

Then I got hurt and it was all over.

Every once in awhile my boys...

...who play as much as I did...

Will toss the ball to me.

And I'll shoot an air ball.'

Kind of stinks!

But around here there are games on television too. The playoffs were on, but every game has been a blow-out.

They were fired up about the Cavs-Warriors in the finals.

And now there are more blowouts!

The Warriors are an unreal team.

Curry dribbles around like Curly Neal.

He shoots like me as a kid.

And there's LeBron too...

...we aren't fans here.

"Two more games is it," Sam said when I asked him about it this morning. "It's over!"

And it probably is.

That's okay...

...the boys joined a rec league.

They'll be playing 3 times a week.

"We'll be missing dinner some nights," Jake announced.

God Bless 'em!

Have fun!

It goes quickly!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Is This the Life We Really Want

Roger Waters new record came out in full on Friday.

The former lead man of Pink Floyd put out new music for the first time since 1994.

I knew a lot about it before it hit my phone.

It would be great! It would be political in nature, and it would be thought-provoking.

It's all very good. I spent part of Friday night going through the lyrics, and the title track is called:

"Is This the Life We Really Want?"

On Saturday night the terrorist attack in London loudly answered that question.

London Bridge.

I thought of the song I learned as a child.

I certainly wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

Like many others I felt powerless.

How do we stop people who are bent on causing death?

They drive vehicles into people

They burst into places and stab people who are out socializing.

The attackers are dead.

There are more right behind them.

The London deaths dominated the news, but there were domestic murders in every city of America on Saturday night.

People losing their lives to whites, blacks, browns, infidels and religious zealots.

Just flat-out destruction.

Of course it's not what any of us want.

It's funny, but often times I'll see the news come across and I'll announce:

"Did you hear about London?"

"No," Kathy will say.

I'll tell her and she'll shake her head...

...not really interested in hearing about it, at all.

"Nothing I can do about it," she'll say. "Why should I bring it into my world and make myself miserable?"

And that's about it, I suppose.

Roger Waters is always very descriptive in his writing. He'll sing something so innocent such as:

"Deja Vu, the sun goes down, and I'm still missing you."

Just 11 words that hit you and paint you a picture.

Very often he intermingles what we can and can't do in terms of living a happy life.

We can all choose the life we really want to live.

Terrorism can invade your heart if you let it.

Don't.

Week In Review

Spicy 🌶 out!! How can we not be disappointed? I'm thinking that SNL will get one more episode out of it. They have to do something ...