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.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Jury Is Still Out

We're out of the Paris Accord on Climate Control.

"Bad Deal!"

Which is odd, because we set the parameters of the deal and can change it.

It's like signing up for your 401K and saying you're going to put 10% in...

...then you decide you'd only like to put 5% in and instead of doing that you blow up the office of the payroll dude.

So, that's the first thing I don't quite understand.

Secondly, to call it a "hoax" appears misguided to me.

I have often told the kids that even though math wasn't my favorite, that a lot of what makes sense comes down to a mathematical solution.

"Do the Math."

We have a ton of information available. A sound argument can be made, either way, actually.

"This blows," isn't actually an argument that can be soundly defeated, or solved through math.

I have heard the argument that the universe can take care of itself, and I find some validity in that.

Adjustments may be made, by the universe to solve the problem.

Perhaps there will be another glacier to cool things off, or maybe everything will simply burst into flames, incinerating all of life.

Then the universe will recover.

And all those who argued that way will be absolutely correct...

...only problem with that is that no one will survive to brag about it.

But what the hell can any of us do but argue back and forth on social media calling one another libtards or rednecks.

The decision was one of defiance to the world.

A real "I'm taking my ball and going home" type of moment.

And that may actually be where most of the damage lies.

America.

That single word, as a destination, was awe-inspiring to those who are here and those who long to be here.

If that's lost...

...well...

That blows.

And who can argue with that math?

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Keepers

A good friend recommended the Net-Flix Documentary "The Keepers" to us regarding Father Joseph Maskell of the Catholic Church in Baltimore.

The first three episodes chilled me to the bone.

The rest of it made me want to throw up.

So...

...I highly recommend it.

What is odd about it is that I am of the age that can clearly recall the power of the priest back in those days.

As a child who grew up in the Catholic school I had been taught, by my parents, and by the parents of all my friends, that the nuns and the priests were to be absolutely respected as they were closer to God.

That's just the way it was!

Now, I did come through unscathed.

I never suspected that anything was ever amiss. The priest who ran the parish through most of those days was actually a good man, as far as I was concerned. (Other people may have different recollections, but there certainly were never any accusations against him).

Certainly nothing as wild as what happened in the Documentary.

I got seriously whipped by the nuns, for years.

I felt I deserved it.

(Big mouth).

Yet, I also never told my parents about any of it because I would have lost that argument. If the nuns or priest thought I needed a beating...

...well...then I did.

As I began watching I actually felt a need to protect the church in my mind.

"So, Maskell was a bad guy," I thought.

But that's not how it worked back then.

There was abuse.

The abuse was reported.

The media didn't believe it.

The law didn't help the abused.

And then the part that made me want to 🤢

The church buried it.

Now, I'm not giving anything away.

The documentary is terrifically put together. The women, who lived through it (but who suffered mightily) were amazing to give of their time and to lay it all out.

Watch it.

And then remember:

Organized religion has very little to do with God.

Friday, June 2, 2017

June The 2

It's celebrate Uncle Jim Day!

Damn, I miss him.

What's amazing about June the 2 is that I think of it a whole bunch through the year now, and that's because Uncle Jim and Dad are no longer physically here to call and say:

"Happy June the 2!"

But man, we talked a lot about it when they were here.

And Uncle Jim was the guy who made it go every year, from his early morning call through a couple of more reminders throughout the year.

The amusing thing about Uncle Jim was that he was the nicest guy in the world, and he, very often, was shocked by the craziness of some of his siblings.

Saying that there is or ever was a "quiet" Fuzzy is a little hard to believe, but Uncle Jim was one.

He would get embarrassed from time to time!

He was never the guy who started the fight.

He'd often sit and listen, and laugh.

Except on June the 2...

...that was his day to get all the conversations started.

And I don't know about my cousins or my siblings, but I'm eating breaded pork chops here tonight.

This is Uncle Jim's day.

Pork Chops all around!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Covfefe

Are you kidding me?

Do they drug-test the president?

I don't think they should with this particular guy.

He sniffs constantly when he speaks. He is up all night, tweeting tantrums and now he invents a word:

Covfefe

And then leaves it up there for 6 hours so everyone can hammer him?

I'm thinking he fell asleep, but there is another possibility:

Perhaps his lawyer shot him in the back of the neck with a poison dart.

Yet...

...Kathy Griffin was the real idiot of yesterday's news.

What a horrible thing she did.

If you didn't see the image of her holding what was supposed to be Trump's severed, blood-covered head...

...don't look.

Sheer stupidity.

ISIS does that shit.

I didn't like it when they threw shoes at W.

I hated to see them hang Obama...

...and as much as I think Trump is unfit for his position...

There's one thing to remember!!!

We're Americans!

All of us. We're in this mess together. A decapitated American leader is not good for any of us.

I've never actually considered Kathy Griffin funny, but usually I am on the side of the comedians. I hate the fake rage associated with a joke that offends someone.

But this was different because it was really dumb.

A true Covfefe, actually.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Twenty Years

I didn't have a lot of relationships prior to marriage that lasted much longer than twenty days.

So, to be sitting here twenty years into wedded bliss is pretty amazing.

And 20 is a nice round number that makes you think back.

We were married in right field at the North Collins Town Park. When lifetime friend, the Honorable Ward Weiser, said:

"Have you come here freely, and soberly."

All the guys in my wedding party laughed.

And what a wedding party it was...

...I had a whole bunch of best men.

Then the party started...

...and it rained harder than I've ever seen it rain.

It rained for hours and hours and the reception turned into a Springsteen-filled frat party.

And there was sunshine.

Three kids and two dogs made the years fly by fast.

The great times took us to the highest of peaks...

...the tragedies took us down to the valley floor.

And that's the thing about a long relationship.

It's not easy.

It isn't for the feint of heart.

Day in and day out.

Being pissed off, but always finding a way back to the moment when you stood there and said "I do."

Back when I was dating and the poor girls couldn't run away fast enough because I didn't want to put in any effort, I often wondered if I would ever be married.

When Jake got sick early on and we battled through it, together...

...the most horrible of circumstances...

I understood that the partnership was solid.

As we stood before Ward that day I turned to Kathy and said:

"Twenty and out. Like a prison term."

She laughed.

Our 4th, five-year-deal is up.

A good friend of mine sent me a text to say 'Happy Anniversary."

He wrote:

"You're one of the only other couples we know who appear to still like each other."

We do.

(Most of the time).

Guess I'm re-upping and my beautiful wife appears to be pretty comfortable too.

So.

Another 5-year deal is on the horizon.

Happy Anniversary to my beautiful wife.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Jared, Jared, Jared

What's the spin this time?

That's what I was most concerned with once I heard that Agent 🍊 and his son-in-law were back in the news for Russia 🇷🇺 problems.

This has certainly dogged the administration since day one and it appears that it is getting worse, not better.

It depends on how you want to interpret the news, but it appears that the news is going to continue to be leaked because there are a whole bunch of enemies of the chaos.

There's a moment, each time, when I think:

"This is big! Sooner or later someone is going to have to explain it."

But there is no explanation forthcoming.

There's silence, and then there is a fight back.

And the explanation is usually tough to fathom.

Sunday morning brought some of the spin via the Orange 🍊 dude's twitter.

"Fake news!"

"Leaks!!"

Some of the talking heads who crucified the Democratic candidate for looking at her email at home are now saying:

"Having a back channel to Russia isn't necessarily a bad thing."

Really?

Hmmmm...

Then the best of all spins:

"Jared wanted privacy because he was tying to get the Russia-Syria problem solved."

A private citizen...

...working back channels...

...lying about every single meeting he ever had...

...was doing it all for the good of mankind???

👌

I've been saying it since the election...

...it can't be sustained.

Americans don't want to live their lives on edge, all the time, every single day.

I don't know where it goes or how it all gets cleaned up, but the excuses have to get a little more palatable.

Or there really will be big trouble.


Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day

I've always loved this weekend.

When I was a kid there were barbecues each day and it was officially when the garden got planted.

A lot of work, ton of family time, plenty of beer, and three days off.

As a youngster we always went to the parade, and men from town, who we knew as friends of Mom and Dad were in uniform, saluting, marching.

They looked really serious.

Of course, as you age, you learn more about the sacrifices of those who went to war. Even those who came home were changed forever.

What strikes me about Memorial Day these days is that I understand that I didn't serve...

...never even considered doing that...

...and I feel a little guilty, honestly.

I sympathize with the men and women who were killed in wars that were a tad misguided.

But the kids who died in those wars weren't to blame for the decisions that were made to get them there.

I know one other thing to be certain:

If some of these people worked for another government in an effort to line their own pockets, they disgraced the memory of all who died for our freedom.

Let that sink in when you choose to excuse the already established proof or cooperation with Russia.

And so, on Memorial Day I feel indebted to those who gave their lives.

We are all enjoying the day off, to be sure, but a little of the time must be spent in admiration of what is most certainly bravery.

I couldn't imagine any of it, for me or my children.

Going off to war to fight for the freedoms we all enjoy...

...sad to say:

I wouldn't have been very good at all.

And what pains me even more?

The people who return are not actually treated very well.

They suffer.

They struggle to make ends meet.

They kill themselves.

And no matter how many patriotic songs we play, or how many times (when running for office) our politicians say:

"Nobody loves the vets more than me."

It's time to stand up for them.

And not vote to NOT help them.

They stood up for us...

...didn't they?

It seems that it's the least that those of us who didn't have the stomach for it can do.

I wish...that it was all different, but that's what the day is all about.

Remembering.

Appreciating.

And hoping and praying that the suffering ends.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

What's Up With Dreams?

Did you ever wake up from a dream and think:

"What the hell was that?"

It happened to me the other night.

I'm talking waking in the middle of the night, (because I had to pee) I rarely make it through a whole night without getting up once.

And I instantly gathered the facts of the dream that I had seemingly just finished.

I was on a construction site.

(No big stretch).

There were two pretty girls from high school there.

(I haven't seen either of these girls this century).

They were making fun of me.

(Like they did in high school).

We were all getting ready to leave the job, but we had to wait for one other guy.

(Apparently it was to be a double-date).

"What are we waiting for?" I called out.

"Pence," Lisa said. "He's in the shitter."

(Mike Pence emerged a moment later).

That was it!

What the hell does that mean???

I laughed as it all came back to me.

"Mike Pence? WTF?" I thought as I laid back down to 😴

My usual double-date partner back in high school was Jeffy.

Is he somehow Mike Pence in my dreams?

Why were the two pretty girls, in their 1982 forms, there with me on my construction project???

The only thing that made sense to me is that they were making fun of me...

...and, oh yeah, Pence in the shitter...

...that makes a little sense too.

Dreams are messed up!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Beat the Press

I imagine that if you had asked my ten-year-old self what I wanted to be when I grew up I might have said:

Newspaper Columnist.

Perhaps that is why I write this blog every day.

As a kid I read the daily paper from cover to cover, and my favorite parts were the columns. Thankfully, we had good columnists in the Courier-Express and the Buffalo News.

10-year old Clifford would've mentioned that news reporters were cool.

Clark Kent was a reporter...

...what more proof do you need???

So, you might guess that I'm not enamored with the all-out attack on the crooked media, or lying media, or fake media, or stupid media, or liberal media...

...or whatever else you want to call it.

The name-calling crap seems awfully juvenile to me anyway, and I know that it seems horribly slanted when the news about you isn't good.

Yet, the press or media or news people are extremely important to the fabric of our nation.

That's why we can't have politicians trashing them, constantly, mentally or physically.

A Montana politician body-slammed a reporter the other day for asking a question about healthcare. The politician hated the question, so he physically man-handled the reporter.

It's too bad it wasn't Clark Kent.

I've been on both sides of the media game. I've read, watched and took in every possible medium, and I've also been on television (the camera adds ten pounds) and in the newspaper.

It is a lot weirder than people think, and the talent is odd. They certainly enjoy the attention they get.

But all in all, the experiences were great.

That's the thing.

The same people attacking the media are also people who use them.

Trump used to use a fake name as his own publicist. He knows the game. He also understands that if the story is bad...

...he best get out in front of it and destroy the person telling it.

Which is horrible.

Lois Lane would be pissed!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Overdose

It's happening all over the country, right?

Young adults dying on the streets because of heroin.

One after another.

A couple of weeks ago a kid was found in one of the port-a-lavs on a local job site. The man who was tasked to clean the toilets found the kid.

Lifeless.

He shot himself up at work and it killed him.

The next day, on another site, syringes were found in another portable toilets. Luckily that shoot-up went a little better, I guess.

But it shook me a lot.

It's one thing to read about it...

...when it's that close.

Damn!

As per usual the news of the day was debated back and forth on the sites throughout the region.

"We used to drink beer," one guy said.

"On Saturday night," another guy added.

"I don't much get this."

Nobody does, but it comes down to the fact that it's readily available and cheap. What's more, it's not at all like beer.

It needs to be sustained.

So the needles are being found on the construction sites, in the schools, and in every other area.

Big trouble!

"Beer wasn't life threatening," the first guy said.

Other than the drunk driving of people back in the day he's probably right, but I don't have any answers.

Lives over before they get started.

In the worst of all places.

Just horrible.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Getting There

"Your eyes go blind and your blood runs cold. Sometimes I feel so weak I just wanna' explode."

Not one of Bruce's most optimistic of lines, but I think of it now and again when I get a little fatigued.

I have a job that calls for action...

...lots of phone calls and plenty of places to visit. I joke with co-workers saying that when the phone rings, and you're a safety guy it's usually not someone saying:

"We're doing great over here!"

Nah, it's usually an emergency, and the fact that there are so many different things to look at and think about, makes it eternally interesting.

I couldn't imagine sitting in a cubicle.

But I also know when I need a mental health day.

A round of golf?

It hasn't happened yet.

Back-to-back days of nothing?

Well, there's good news!

A holiday weekend coming up.

Our wedding anniversary too.

Twenty years.

Who'da' thunk?

So, I always wonder about the guy that Bruce was singing about in that song.

The next line is:

"Explode and tear this whole town apart, take a knife and cut this pain from my heart."

Really down!

But there's good news...

...it's from The Promised Land...

A song of eternal hope!

Just a couple of more work days.

We'll all get there!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Sitting Ducks

On Monday afternoon news broke of multiple fatalities at a Ariana Grande concert in Manchester U.K.

My heart sank, of course.

It's a horribly dangerous world.

I must admit that I've thought about it before.

Back in the 1990's I went to the Bills playoff game at the stadium. This was during the first Iraq war. We all had to go through metal detectors for the first time.

It was hard to believe, actually...

...and was wildly inconvenient because we'd never had to do that before.

Now, of course, there are metal detectors everywhere. You can't get into a courthouse or Federal building without placing all your belongings into a bowl and stepping through metal detectors.

At the airports we all have to remove our shoes because of that one goofy shoe bomber. You can't even bring a freaking razor or more than 3 ounces of deodorant.

We can never be too safe, right?

When I went to the Kansas City-Yankees game last week I was at the entrance 15 minutes before first pitch. We were all gathered in one spot...

...hundreds and hundreds of us.

...sitting ducks.

It entered my mind.

I got to the front of the line. Everything out of my pockets, stepped through the turnstiles and received a quick frisk.

Used to it now.

It's no longer shocking to be evaluated, and that's probably a good thing.

And yet, it happens.

Large groups of people are sitting ducks now because there are small groups of terrorists killing people in the name of religion?

Tell me how that makes any freaking sense!!!

We live in a different world now, and I'm pretty sure it won't ever go back to the way it once was.

Thoughts and prayers appears to be all that we have left.

Those poor people.

Out to have a good time.

Murdered.

Sitting ducks.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Madoff Movie

We caught the HBO movie with DeNiro playing the part of Bernie Madoff.

First off, the acting was great. I had recently seen the Comedian with DeNiro and as I was watching Madoff I kept trying to sync both performances. He's such a great actor. Michelle Pfeiffer as Ruth was stunning as well.

I felt a little torn as the movie humanized Madoff a little bit. Even one second of feeling bad for him was way too much!

He stole billions of dollars from people.

Hard-working, honest people.

It appeared that he justified it in his own mind as having preyed on the greedy, which he most certainly did, but he also wiped out pension funds, life-savings, and people in his own family.

He obliterated existences and he did it without conscience.

He didn't even know why he was doing it after a while. It was a game of poker and he truly didn't even ante up with his own money.

Sociopath!

And every time one of these scandals hits...

...it infuriates me.

The robber barons who caused the bank collapse were never punished.

The multi-millionaires pulling down 8-figure bonuses think they deserve it...

...and they go home and watch their wide-screen televisions, consider the working poor as dregs on our society...

...and never look back.

I suppose that Madoff and guys like him (and while his robbery was unique, there are plenty like him) aren't the ones who bother me the most!!

Nope.

I'm more bothered by the people who think that guys who steal for a living while wearing fancy suits are somehow entitled to do so.

While men who work two jobs just to keep a roof over their heads, and get assistance to help pay the light bill, are somehow pathetic.

I don't much care for people who look down their noses at those people.

And here's the rub:

We are all a lot closer to that second group than the first.

Yet it's funny, but people who have a tiny bit of the American dream are prone to look down upon those who are struggling.

They generalize:

"Get a better job!"

They patronize:

"Do without your phone!"

And they fail to look sideways at the millions walking out the door, carried to summer homes by the very wealthy

"Get rid of Obamacare!"

So we can give a tax cut to the rich????

Makes no sense.

You wonder how Madoff was able to pull it off for so long?

Yeah, our system allowed for him to pillage the poor.

And we're working hard to strip the regulations so another guy just like him can do it again...

...and blame the money problems on the people who don't have any.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Chris Cornell

I didn't know too much about the rock group Soundgarden.

They were a little after college for me, so while I heard some of their songs...

...they weren't on my music list.

I did hear their lead singer speak a few times, though, and he actually played live on one of the radio shows.

Talented guy with a distinctive voice. I even thought about investigating their greatest hits, but never did.

Soundgarden was still playing live.

They played the other night in Detroit, and after the show Chris Cornell, the lead singer and face of the band, called home, spoke to his wife (he was slurring his words), and then he hung himself in his hotel bathroom.

It caught my attention.

First off, he was 52 (same as me) and the human moment of his phone call home really bothered me. He had three children. His wife said that he kept saying "I'm so tired."

She sent someone to check on him and they found him too late.

Damn.

He was successful in his field. He had a family and was beloved.

Why?

There are stories floating about his meds causing him problems...

...depression and suicidal thoughts...

You hear that trumpeted in the disclaimers about this medication or that.

Shame.

May he get some rest.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Blurting Stuff Out

I know how Donald feels.

Evidently, his mouth got him into a bit of trouble when he was showing the Russians around his new office.

He mentioned 'nutjob' and firing the guy who was investigating him because he was feeling pressure.

I don't think the pressure is off now.

And I think of Ralph Kramden saying:

"Me and my big mouth."

Been there!

Plenty of times!!

I think that my very worst example of this surrounds the death of a friend of mine back about twenty-five years ago.

Ron was a decent guy who had a lot of bad luck. Whenever he missed a day of work I would have to sit in for him.

It happened quite a bit, but he was a relatively young man and he always bounced back. We busted each other's chops quite a bit so when he called me one Friday, after missing three days of work, I said:

"Are you coming back to work? We have a pool going on what day you're going to buy it."

He laughed.

"And what is gonna' take you out."

"I feel better," he said. "But I'm thinking it'll be my heart and a few days ago I thought it might be relatively soon."

"Oh good!" I said. "That's what I have."

Ron laughed.

It was my last conversation with him.

He died the next day.

Three days later I was pretty shook up. I went to his wake, and stepped up in front of his grieving family.

"I'm Cliff. I worked with Ron. I'm so sorry," I said.

"Are you the guy who started the pool?" Ron's wife asked.

That was the exact moment when I knew exactly what Trump felt like when he learned that his Comey comment was out in the public.

I wanted to crawl in with Ron!!

"Well," his wife said. "Rest assured that Ron thought that was funny as hell. He was telling everyone on Friday. He really enjoyed working with you."

I felt badly about my dopey remark for a lot of years...

...Donnie might too.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Twenty Years

Ran into a guy who I met twenty years ago.

Weird to imagine that so much time has passed, and the twenty year anniversary of things is hitting me hard because 1997 happens to be the year I was married, and became a Dad, and moved into my current home...

...and a lot of other things.

And it's weird when you think back to those days.

I was 32.

I felt good!!

"Imagine how quick it went and then imagine twenty years from now," my buddy said. "You'll be 72 in the blink of an eye."

Damn!

And I think about all the living packed into the twenty years.

Kids, dogs, four Yankee titles (on average), zero Bills playoff appearances, five presidential elections...

Laughs, tears...

...passes and fails.

A lot happens in two decades worth of time!

The milestones will be different.

The next twenty will probably be filled with weddings of our kids, grandkids, hopefully retirement...

...things slowing down.

Unless we blow the whole thing up.

Then I'm not quite so sure what comes next...

...but gotta' see what happens, right?

"I can't believe I've known your dumb ass for twenty years," my friend said. "Same stupid old jokes."

"You wouldn't change a thing," I said.

He laughed.

"That's the thing about the past," he said. "You can't stay stuck there."


Friday, May 19, 2017

"How'd the Car Work For You?"

One of the real hassles of moving around the country comes at the car rental counter.

I arrived in Iowa to a smiling, pimple-faced kid.

"We actually only have one vehicle," he said.

I thought of Seinfeld saying:

"You know how to take reservations. You don't know how to keep reservations."

"It's a Grand Caravan," he said.

(I have no idea which car is which).

"Does it have Sirius?" I asked.

"Yes!" He said.

"Fine."

The Grand Caravan is a freaking mini-van. I threw my crap in it and drove to the hotel. In the morning I made a discovery:

The Sirius radio didn't work.

I called the rental counter. I'm not real good at talking to customer service but I got it done without any F-bombs. They sent a new signal.

"Give it 15 minutes," he said.

An hour later, I called back. Again I tried to stay in control. They sent the signal again. No go. I called again. I wasn't thrilled about a 4-hour drive through Iowa, flipping channels between soybean and 🌽 talk.

"We can trade it out, just swing by the airport."

It would cost me a half an hour, but it would be worth it.

"You called about the radio, right?"

"Yes," I said, happy that he remembered. Hopefully this would go smoothly.

"Well, one problem. We don't have a car available right now. We should have one in 15-20 minutes. How's your trip going so far?"

He was smiling.

"How's my trip going so far? Dude," I said. "I didn't fly halfway across the country to shoot the shit and play let's rent a shitty car for two hours with you."

His smile faded and he ducked into the back room.

"Hi!" A young woman said. "I hear we are having some problems!"

Her smile was nauseating.

"WE ARE HAVING BIG-ASS PROBLEMS!"

There was an old man hanging by the counter. He started talking very softly to me, asking me questions about my life.

I knew he was trying to distract me and get me to relax.

And it worked.

I finally settled into a piece of crap car, but at least it had Sirius.

Guess what?

It never worked!!!

I returned the car in Kansas City.

"How'd the car work for you?" The pimple-faced kid asked.

"It was absolutely horrendous," I said.

But hey, I can tell you how the 🌽 and soybean futures are looking.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Yankees 7 Royals 1

The monthly trip is a bit nutty. A lot of states, a bunch of sites, thousands of air miles and hundreds of road miles, but I saw the baseball schedule.

Of course I did!

I love ⚾️ and in April I checked the Yankees trips to Kansas City. There was just one!!

But luckily I was on schedule to make the visits when the Yankees arrived.

Sam did the work. He found the ticket online and I didn't even look at it until I got there. I was down the left field line a little. Actually a lot closer to third than the wall.

I sat beside two guys who go to every single Royals game. When I told them I was visiting from New York State you'd think I slapped them.

"Could be a 12-10 game," the guy said. "C.C. stinks."

I laughed.

C.C. didn't stink and four innings into the game the Yankees were up 5-0.

They weren't talking to me much, but I didn't care...

...I was busy.

Just relaxing.

I love being outside just watching ⚾️. It was a beautiful night with clear skies and a warm breeze blowing through. It was also nurse's night so there were a lot of young women bantering about, wearing baseball caps.

There was food, of course. Kansas City brisket doesn't suck.

And CC just kept putting up zeroes.

Yet Kansas City fans stay until the very last pitch.

One other thing got me during the game.

They always put up the photo of the guy at-bat with his stats and his important information.

It was Chase Headley who got to me.

He's considered one of the older Yankees.

He actually looks my age!

I was two years out of high school when he was born!!!

I kept staring at the 1984 as his year of birth.

I'm 20 years older than one of the old dudes!

I couldn't drink like I used to when he was born!!

What the hell happened???

Then it hit me:

My dream of playing centerfield for the Yankees is apparently over.

But I still dream when I'm there.

The two Royals guys checked out in the top of the 9th.

They didn't say goodbye.

C.C. Stinks, my ass!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Too Much

I was watching a news show as the host said:

"We have breaking news. The president is tweeting."

There was a tweet explaining why he blurted out classified information to Russia.

It was only half of a defiant tweet that said, basically, "I can do what I want and I don't care what you think."

But the newscasters were waiting.

And while we all waited ten minutes for him to finish the tweet and I thought:

"This is too much."

Every single day there's a major crisis.

Breaking news hour by hour.

Absolute incompetence.

Policy procedures are debated as lies or just flat out wrong moves.

There are threats that everyone might get fired today. We hear talks of impeachment and sealed indictments and true unease.

I made a mistake and tweeted in response to the classified information leak.

I was jumped by a whole bunch of people I don't know.

"Fake news!"

"What about Clinton?"

Too much.

I announced that I was done responding and these fellow Americans, none of whom I know...

...sent me nasty notes.

There will be more before the week is out, before another trip to another country club for another round of golf that is passed off as a working meeting.

Way too much!!

And the average everyday American is heading off to work, wondering what can happen next, or if there will be more breaking news about possible Russian influence.

Since January the collapse of the government is an itch that can't be scratched. The past breaking news can't be addressed before the next disaster hits.

Maybe the goal is chaos.

Sounds like that is Russia's goal for our way of governing.

Did they find a willing ally?

Because this is just too much.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Up Before the Dawn

It struck me at 4:15 that I was all done sleeping.

These are weird days. Been going on awhile so I'm used to it, but if I don't get a massage, my legs buzz incessantly and I can't sleep.

We blew it by not calling for a massage earlier in the week. By the time we tried, all the Moms had the appointments.

So, I was wide awake at 4:15.

Which isn't so bad.

The window was open so there was a cool breeze coming through. Melky was snoring beside me, and  before the tasks of the new day arrived in my mind I got to think about the past glories of yesterday.

The sauce was good.

Kathy had a nice Mother's Day and I spent a couple of hours with my Mom. Just me and her talking about everything. My Mother-In-Law is feeling better, and my father-in-law inhaled more pasta than me!

And we watched the Jeter ceremony and so many things rushed through my mind. When Mattingly was on the big board with his message, I choked up, thinking of the past games I watched with Dad and my brothers.

And there was a clip of Jeter hitting the walk off homerun on November 1 and they showed his Dad in the crowd. Jeter's pop simply flashed a thumbs-up to his boy, and the father-son aspect of baseball made me choke up again.

A simple thumbs-up from Dad.

My Dad was good at doing that for us, and I make sure to do the same for my kids.

The birds started chirping as I considered the tasks for the upcoming day.

Work.

Always a lot of work ahead.

We push ourselves in all sorts of directions. I often wonder about what it might feel like to slow down someday, but not today. Not this week.

More to do.

As the light of the day bursts through the window there's plenty to be thankful for.

Buzzing legs and all.

A touch.

A smile.

A big dish of pasta with people you love.

A walk-off homerun.

The singing birds.

A thumbs-up.

For two hours, I laid in bed just thinking, and thanking...

...listening to Melky snore.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Number 2

Joe Torre said it best.

"Derek wasn't the most talented player all the time, but he showed up every day, and he worked hard."

Sunday was a fun day.

I watched the Jeter Budweiser commercial a couple of times, showing it to my Mom (who cried) and my Mother-In-Law (who also cried).

Jeter's career spanned a lot of the happy times in our lives.

I got married months after the first of the five titles.

We watched every inning of every game during those years. The boys would have the game on their television. I'd have it on and Kathy would be watching it in her room.

They beat the Mets the year Sam was born. Sam counts it as a title won by his favorite teams.

The Flip (which I think is the greatest baseball play ever) happened days before Jake was operated on.

The dive into the stands happened as A-Rod, the guy getting paid a lot more and was closer to the ball, raised his hands as Jeter sped by him and smashed his face into the seats.

In 2009 I really needed a championship.

If it's the last one I ever see them win...

...I'm good.

And they did.

I put a note on Facebook on Sunday morning.

"I watched about two thousand of his games, caught at least eight thousand at-bats, and I was never mad at him."

Jeter started one season at about 2 for 30.

This was after four of the titles and we were at a game against Boston. We were seated in the 4th row right by first base.

Jeter grounded out.

There was a spattering of boos!

(Not from me).

An obviously native New Yorker turned around.

"Who the f&$@ is booing him????" The guy screamed.

"You don't boo the Captain!"

"Are you fu$&@ng kidding me?"

"It's Derek F$&@ng Jeter!!"

"Idiots!!"

So, I settled in to watch the first game of the doubleheader. My father-in-law joined me.

"It's gonna' rain out," he said.

"It's not gonna' rain," I said. "It's Jeter Day."

It stopped raining, but the Astros took a 6-4 lead.

"They lose this it'll be 4 straight," my father-in-law said.

"They aren't going to lose. It's Jeter day."

The Yankees won 11-6.

I always felt honored to watch the Yankees when Jeter was there.

It was an honor to watch him honored too.

He showed up.

Everyday.




Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day!

My very first memory was of standing in the kitchen of my parents home, watching my mother work.

I was about four years old.

"What're you doing?" Mom asked.

"Just watching you work," I said.

"Did you know you're my buddy?" Mom asked.

I see that little, nothing, conversation play out. I see it so clearly. As a kid, surrounded by the craziness of hanging with the rest of the Fuzzy clan...

...it just stands out in my memory bank.

It's come to mean a lot to me.

Just seeing Mom bust her ass. She did that every day! Even now I'll call her and she'll say, "I'm cleaning the house."

Thankfully, my beautiful wife and my wonderful mother are now good buddies. They hit the Bingo Hall on Sunday, nearly every week, and then I put a big dish of pasta in front of her.

"It's way too much," she says, every week.

"Eat what you can and I'll make you a to-go dish."

We eat, talk, laugh a little and think about those beautiful memories.

This week, I also had the chance to see my wife as a sentimental Mom.

Sam actually put on pants and dressed up real nice for his Junior Prom. I just arrived at home as he was hustling out of the house. I mentioned a few things to him about my prom memories, but it was most certainly a Mom moment.

A half hour later Kathy sent me a few photos.

Sam wasn't smiling. He looked highly uncomfortable!

"He's adorable," Kathy noted.

I knew what she was thinking before she even said a word.

She was happy, but also a little upset.

Her baby was dressed up for the prom.

"Time went so fast," She said, a little later in the evening.

It certainly did.

Yet I know the impact of having little moments with a great Mom.

Some day, a long time away, Sam will recall some such moment, and he will realize just how fortunate he was.

Just to be around his Mom.

Happy Mother's Day!

To Mom.

To Kathy.

To all you Mothers!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Red Is Red

I was watching a cable news show the other night. The talking head kept saying: "Its simple, red is red."

And then he'd tell a blatant lie to prove his point.


Red is red and blue is blue

Day after day, they'll lie to you.

The sun rises in the east and sets in the west

I'll tell you a truth or a lie

Which ever fits best.

Day after day and night after night

I'll tell you what I need for you to believe is right.

To build the charade and further my way

My lips move, but don't watch what I say.

A lie is a lie, the truth is the truth

What's red is blue, what's blue is red

We'll confuse it all inside your head.

Day after day and night after night

We'll lie to you and tell you we're right

Yet loose lips, sink ships

So there will come a day

When all the liars are forced away.

Because red is red and blue is blue

And soon America

Will be done with you.

Friday, May 12, 2017

To Do Lists

My life has always been about writing things down, organizing my thoughts, and working efficiently, juggling a whole lot of things effectively.

I usually have the week planned out, in my mind by Sunday night, and I'm a little surprised when it doesn't go down as I think it might.

I actually keep a list in my car, write down one word for each report that needs to be writtten when I get home, and then cut the paper into notes after each report is written.

This week has been hell.

Our mower broke down and so did our dryer.

And with each passing day, with tasks still on my daily to-do list...

...I was completely off my game.

Then my mother-in-law came down under the weather for a few days, and the whole routine went straight out the window.

"The chaos is killing me!" I said at one point early in the week.

My beautiful wife, on the other hand, lives with the motto:

"Why do it today if you can put it off until tomorrow."

Some clashing.

But there was a moment when we decided to try and get a couple of loads of wash done before we ordered a new machine.

We were seated on the floor at the basement duct taping...

...yeah...

...duct taping...

The bottom of the washer together.

All the lists, the routines and the feeling of fighting chaos went out the window.

I started laughing.

"This is ridiculous!"

Kathy was laughing too.

The machine was up and running.

"Tomorrow we get a mower!" She said.

I'm gonna' put 'Get Sam to mow the lawn' back on the to-do list.

I hope!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Kinda' Funny?

Comey is out.

He was fired by a guy whose team was being investigated by Comey.

Where else could you fire the guy who was looking into whether or not you should be fired?

But it gets better.

The recommendation to fire Comey was made by a man who had to recuse himself because he forgot to tell the truth about the thing that Comey was investigating.

And you know what really makes it hysterical?

The reason why Comey was fired!

It was because the guy being investigated now didn't like the way that Comey investigated his political opponent!

Trump said that he needs more 'fair and balanced' when it comes to accusations of misconduct.

That's coming from the guy who led the 'Lock her up chants!' Because of using unsecured email sources.

I can't stop laughing.

The entire thing is now playing out on droids and laptops that have zero security on them at every golf clubhouse along the East Coast.

Speaking of which, Trumper Woods has now played 23 rounds of golf since taking the job.

I've yet to play!

Haven't even hit the range!!

I had to laugh though, as this past weekend, the tweet arrived early. He said that he was staying at his New Jersey resort because he had a lot of big meetings, and it was less expensive for him to head there instead of New York (where his wife is hiding).

Two hours later he was in a sand trap.

Ever notice that he's always swinging out of the rough or from a trap?

"Is he a good golfer?" One celebrity who played with him was asked.

"He writes down a good score," the guy said.

That's funny.

He would never lie...

...obviously!

I remember my parents talking about watergate.

Something tells me that my kids are going to remember us talking about this.

It needs a catchy name though.

How about Pee-Pee Gate?

(There's smoke about it all being a coverup to hide a tape of golden showers).

Not kidding.

Told you that it's 😂

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Break Down Dead Ahead

Saw a photo of Brad Pitt somewhere.

"He's getting old," I thought.

Hey, even guys know that Brad Pitt is pretty, but his eyes looked drawn, there was grey...wrinkles.

And life is weird because in your head you always feel the same. When you see a guy miss an open jump shot while playing basketball you say:

"I could've hit that! He was wide open!!"

"It was an NBA three," Sam reminded me. "You would've only got it halfway there."

Church is a great place to see all the stages of life. I really enjoy the community of it all and Sunday, during what was a First Communion Mass I saw children, married couples with kids, the middle-aged, and, of course, some members of the older generation.

There's an older gentleman who sits in the row directly behind me. He sings in a deep baritone, but sings softly enough...his wife beside him singing as well, and I imagine all that they've seen. They've probably been married for 50 years...

...and they've seen it all. They've been through all the breakdowns that life offers and they come out on the other side...

...singing.

And there is always a crying baby somewhere.

I watched an anxious 30-something Dad, bouncing the kid on his hip, bending to pick up a toy, shooting an annoyed look at Mom, and finally smiling when the kid quieted.

Those days are behind me as well, but they were well lived days.

One of the kids did the second reading.

A loud, confident kid, letting the world know that "God is righteous!"

Everyone snickered when she punched the last word.

Somewhere there were proud parents out there.

So, Brad Pitt looks a little older.

I feel quite a bit older...

...and we all start the breakdown the minute after we take our first gulp of air.

Nothing wrong with breaking down.

As long as you fit the living in.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Frat Life

Over the weekend I had the extreme misfortune of reading about the death of Timothy Piazza, a Penn State student who fell down a flight of stairs after drinking way too much at a frat event.

Although badly injured his "brothers" did supposedly nothing to help, instead allegedly doing their best to cover up the fall and the extreme discomfort of the dying boy.

A horrendous story.

One that is repeated all over other campuses.

I pledged a frat back in 1984.

I never became a frat brother.

They wanted me to, but I flat-out quit after one of the guys who was to be a "brother" spit tobacco chew in my face because I didn't know his hometown.

It was actually a heroic effort on my part.

The new pledges - I think there were six of us - were called to a lineup where we were to answers questions about the members of the frat.

We were supposed to know everything about every brother including hometowns, mother's names, pet names...

...just everything.

The lineup started and was going well until a guy walked in the room wearing a coat that belonged to every member.

I never saw the guy before in my life. He walked straight to me.

"What's my name?" He shouted in my face.

I glanced at the jacket where his name was written out.

"Tom," I said.

"Tom what?" He screamed.

"Tom Petty?" I asked.

He spit in my face.

Now I knew that swinging at him would not end well, but I took a deep breath, turned away, walked up the stairs and out of the house. I was about a week away from being accepted as a full member.

I wasn't chased, but the president of the frat (a really good guy) caught up with me.

"Come on back," he said. "We really want you to join."

"Done!" I said.

The president followed me back to the dorm. We talked for awhile, but I explained to him that I could not understand why I would do such a thing. I didn't want to ever be friends with a guy who might do such a thing. I didn't need such bullshit.

I never went back either.

I heard horror stories about hell night. I saw guys so intoxicated that I worried for their health...and I was no choir boy...

...but I knew when something was horribly wrong or simply stupid.

A lot of kids don't.

Timothy Piazza should've been saved.

What a waste.

All for bullshit.

Monday, May 8, 2017

It Just Keeps Raining

A week ago Sunday I watched the boys get up rather casually.

"You better get the lawn mowed," I said. "They're calling for a lot of rain this week."

"Relax," I was told. "We'll get 'er done."

Around mid-day I was a tad annoyed and casually voiced my dismay.

"Fine!" Sam yelled out. "I'm gonna' do it."

Minutes later we heard the mower going.

A little while after that I said:

"Is that ☔️?"

"That's a lot of rain," Kathy answered.

Sam came running in...he was soaked to the bone.

"Not good," he said. "I mowed HALF of the front yard. It looks ridiculous."

It rained all day Monday and Tuesday.

On Wednesday there was a small window to get the rest of the front yard mowed and Sam did it, but halfway through the backyard...

Rain ☔️ ☔️ ☔️

Then the mower broke.

I met poor, soaked Sam in the backyard.

"Now what?"

"The hell with it," I said.

It's supposed to snow a little tomorrow.

The yard looks absolutely ridiculous.

"They are saying that it's gonna' be like this for a couple more weeks," Kathy annnounced.

Terrific.

We're only about 90 days away from the weather turning to 💩 as fall threatens.

Let it ☔️

The hell with it.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Beer In the Rose Garden

So, much to the dismay of about 24 million Americans the healthcare debate has raged on...

...and actually resulted in a bill getting through the house.

"I'll be honest, Wolf, I didn't read it," said a rep from New York.

Yeah, that damn reading is hard!

Why would you read it if you're on that side of the aisle?

It gets rid of Obama's name...

...all they need to know!

And the reporting states that it's just a huge tax cut for the rich, at the expense of the poor.

Which is good too...

...for some, I suppose.

Those who are for the bill say that the "fake news" is spreading rumors and that the bill might be good for all.

Guess we'll know for sure if they read it.

Yet the most tone-deaf of all things that transpired was the beer party in the rose garden to celebrate the passage of a bill that they didn't read that might actually result in the deaths of people who won't be able to participate in trying to save their own lives.

"Paul Ryan is giddy," one report read.

So, they gathered to toast their accomplishment as doctors, hospitals and insurers started to pass judgement on all of it.

"Disaster!"

I can imagine the giddy lawmakers chugging the beer and clanking their bottles.

"Can't afford healthcare..

...you deserve what you get!"

What's the opposite of giddy?

Ashamed?

Cause that's where I'm at...

...even admitting that I haven't read it yet.

Millions of people are scared and threatened?

Yeah.

No beer for me.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Godzilla

The Yankees have been a whole lot of fun this year.

"I'm excited to see the kids play," Pops said, before the season started, and that's what it was all about.

The changing of the guard.

And make no mistake about it, it will never be quite as fun as it was back in 1977 & 1978 or 1996 through about 2004.

I was a kid in 1977. I was excited to watch with my brothers, sisters and my parents.

The Mattingly Era was fun, but they just couldn't get over the hump, but there were some good teams then.

1996-2001 was Yankees heaven, of course, and when they won it all in 1996, they were the underdogs with young guys.

And then people started talking about Hideki Matsui as the next Yankees great.

Godzilla...

...we were told.

Godzilla wasn't the monster everyone thought.

He was a good player (despite what my brother Jeff said "Matsui is a c&$@s$&k$&").

Jeff was just expecting a 50-homer, gigantic hitter of absolute bombs.

Well, there is a Godzilla on the team now.

Have you seen Aaron Judge punish a ball??

He's 6'8" tall and weighs 280 pounds.

I saw him from about 15' away as he stood in them on-deck circle in Kansas City last season.

He struck out a few times that night and I thought:

"He's not going to make it. Too big. Too much of a strike zone. Too loopy of a swing."

I know that Judge would be Jeff's absolute favorite.

He's a masher!!

He's what Godzilla looks like in a baseball uniform.

Yet, on Tuesday night (after already homering once) I watched him battle a pitcher to a full count.

"He can't hit another one," I thought, but I couldn't look away.

He blasted it about 400' and before the ball landed...

...I started feeling a little concerned.

Because baseball will eventually get the kid...

...he will regress.

The game isn't this easy.

There will be a prolonged slump and people will be asking "what's wrong with Judge?"

It's gotta' happen, right?

But in the meantime, Godzilla is here and it won't ever be as fun as it once was...

...but make no mistake...

It's still a little fun!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Obie Dziedzic - #1 Fan

At every single Bruce Springsteen concert since the early 1970's two tickets, front row center have been set aside for Bruce's number one fan, Obie Dziedzic.

She passed away early this week.

Yet, the story is incredibly touching.

Bruce wasn't a star when he met Obie. He was a struggling musician. Just 18 years old, living here and there, playing anywhere...

...for enough money to eat, sleep and find the next gig.

It was love at first sight for Obie. She knew that he'd be a star.

So she became his friend.

Fed him, sewed his clothes, went to the drive-in movies with him.

And Bruce never forgot it.

Not when he hit it rich and made the big time.

He always left those tickets.

She wasn't always there, obviously, but when she did attend she would play a little game, wondering when Bruce would notice that she was in the crowd.

He would glance to those seats before playing the first note, smile and point if she was there.

If Obie couldn't make it, those two seats would be taken to the street and handed to fans who couldn't get in that night.

Obie was happy about that...

...she was thrilled for those who got to see Bruce from her seats.

She attended her last concert in September of 2016 in Boston.

After the show she said the same thing that all the Bruce fans always say immediately following one of his shows:

"That was his best one yet."

RIP to Obie.

The number one fan....

...I've seen Bruce 32 times.

She attended hundreds and hundreds of shows.

During Devils & Dust, from the stage, Bruce saw that Obie was there. He told the story about how she helped him pick the ending for 'Racing in the Street'.

He thanked her and said "I love you, Obie, very much."

Obie didn't do interviews because she said she never wanted to say something that might hurt Bruce.

What a great story.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Racial Taunts, Andrew Jackson & Jimmy Kimmel

Fenway Park fans taunted Adam Jones, a black outfielder, with the Baltimore Orioles.

They threw peanuts at him.

Screamed horrible things.

It's 2017, are you kidding me???

Of course, some of these problems were supposed to be solved by the civil war. A war that appeared to your president to have not been necessary. He could've avoided the war that abolished slavery.

After all, Andrew Jackson, his hero (who was a great guy) was against the civil war ever even happening...

...despite the fact that he DIED 16 years before it happened.

I guess American History wasn't part of the Trump University offerings.

Could be an honest mistake, I guess.

I mean why should a president need to know such a tough-to-look-up-thing-that's-easily-solved-by-reading-something!

Anything!!

What a national embarrassment.

And there is another vote coming on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act although the new bill being pushed hasn't been figured out yet.

Jimmy Kimmel did a very heartfelt testimony about the need to keep healthcare intact, somewhat, for children who will be left out in the cold by a plan that kicks poor people to the curb.

It was quickly dismissed by some on the other side of the aisle who said:

"Why should I pay for someone else's care?"

I don't get it!

Are we that sickened by people who can't even afford to live?

Why is it okay for someone to be paid $17,000 an hour...

...but it's disgusting to pay a living wage for a denigrating job.

The class warfare is disgusting.

There aren't just a few people that need help...

...they don't want handouts.

They are working...

...but the math doesn't work!

Healthcare costs are out of reach. College costs are out of reach. The American dream is a nightmare.

Enough of the rant.

I'm going to read a history book.

There's a lot I need to learn about that soothsayer, Andrew Jackson.

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. Ever...