Friday, September 22, 2017

Extend the Netting!!

During the Wednesday afternoon Yankees game, Todd Frazier ripped a line drive into the crowd above the third base dugout.

The ball, which could have had an exit velocity at up to 115 mph, made contact with the face of a 2-3 year old girl.

Frazier immediately dropped to one knee.

Players on each side wore absolutely horrified looks on their faces.

The camera didn't pan to the scene in the crowd...

...I was thankful for that!

So sad.

It's the third time that a fan has been bloodied at a Yankees game this year.

Yeah, there are signs that say be alert and watch out for batted balls or flying bats, but what chance do fans really have?

The Internet debate started immediately.

The kid shouldn't have been sitting there!

The Yankees don't care!

What were the kids parents doing!!

We don't need stupid netting ruining the view from the expensive seats!!!

Come on now!

A three-year old kid got drilled in the face!

I sat behind the netting at the Kansas City Royals-Yankees game in KC a couple of years back.

If I looked at the net it was a pain in the ass.

If I looked beyond it...

...I saw the game clearly.

And I could look down to eat my $12 sausage, pepper, onion and macaroni & cheese sandwich without worrying about a ball knocking it out of my hand, or blasting me into oblivion.

(Good thing too because I ate two).

I once sat beside a woman who was hit in the face with a hockey puck...

...was actually the mother of the girl I was there with on a date...

It was awful.

Poor lady missed half the game!

A year later, the netting was extended at NHL games.

No one even remembers a game without netting now.

Get it over with.

The next person who gets blasted might be someone you know!

Might even knock the sandwich out of your hand.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Wipe 'Em Out

I've never been really comfortable with the whole "make a parking lot out of the Middle East" talk.

"We will destroy North Korea," is along the same lines.

I think back to the old Sting song where he crooned:

"The Russians love their children too."

That was back in the day when certain portions of the population weren't all pro-Putin.

Whatever...not a political post...just more of how I feel about things.

I'm sure that there are people of other lands who want to wipe America off the map. They'd do so without regard to any of the lives that we are living.

That's why the tough talk is lost on me.

There are real people in North Korea. People who just want to live a life and are more afraid of the "Rocket Man" than a fan of him.

Women, children, dogs, good men, good women...

...up in smoke.

Consider what a bomb can do.

Tear off body parts, leave people who survived, breathing toxic air.

Poverty, destruction, death.

Life is precious.

It's precious to the people of the United States.

Think of how much hatred was (and still is directed) at those who bombed us...

...those who attack us now.

Violence begets violence.

Imagine that we do drop major bombs, missiles, drone attacks...

...whatever.

And we take out hundreds, thousands, millions.

Will those who remain blame "Rocket Man"?

Or will they join the rest of those who will live to bring death to Americans?

That's the way I've kind of always looked at it.

Is there such a thing as the justified murder of innocents?

When does it end?

We turn Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Syria...

...into parking lots?

Would we be better off?

No nation should go it alone.

Was it an idle threat?

I hope so...

...and I'm betting that all the parents, over there, who love their children too...

...hope so too.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

One Shot At It

Heard about a high-profile DUI and the alleged driver was identified on the news by name and photo. Since I was awake about three hours before I needed to be I decided to check in on him.

Everyone is accessible.

Spent some time on the guy's Facebook page...

...reading about his life struggles.

People really put some awfully personal stuff out there for the world to consume.

Some of it won't serve the guy very well because he mentioned drinking to blackout and how he was happy that he'd kicked that habit...

...two weeks later...

...talk of being locked up and how it was time to change again.

Hard to feel bad for someone who perpetually puts the lives of others at risk, but just a couple of passes through...

...had me feeling lousy about all of it.

One go around.

That's all we get.

There will be people left behind when we leave.

"Uncle Bob was always drunk and in and out of jail."

Is sad to me.

Yet, everyone is on their own journey and the more I read about the guy, the more I hoped that after he is severely punished...

...that he finally gets on top of the struggle.

His timeline was an absolute blueprint of those struggles:

"I'm done with the booze!"

"Time to grind! All about work & making money now!!"

"So glad I went on the straight and narrow!"

And in between those declarations:

"I spent the night in jail 'cause I wasn't backing down...and I only had a few too."

"Hung the hell over."

Struggle...

...every day.

I must confess, too, as I thought about his horrific crime...

...he didn't kill anyone, but he most certainly could have.

Some innocent man or woman, or child, driving along...

...brought smack dab into the middle of this guy's struggle.

One shot!

Get on top of it.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Eyebrows

I'm of the opinion that eyebrows are just plain weird.

And that's because I have an eyebrow problem.

It's not a unibrow...some people suffer that affliction and look ridiculous...

...it's that my eyebrow hair remains jet black, like the hair on my head used to be...

...while the hair on my head is grey!

I read somewhere that they consider it a disease...

...well, I'm suffering because of it.

Recently, a buddy of mine snapped a photo of me...

...my hair was a bit long and my eyebrows were a bit bushy...

So, the grey and black together brought comic results.

Over the course of the next three days (and two days after a haircut and eyebrow trimming) I endured photos of every man known to man with embarrassing eyebrows.

Brutal!

And the discussion has come up every time with whomever is trimming my hair.

"They're just shaped so weird," my beautiful wife will say if she's tasked with trimming them.

(She loves me anyway).

"We can dye your hair," the hot, young girl at Supercuts will mention.

I don't want to dye my hair!

I know guys in their 70's who dye their hair, and they look ridiculous to me. We are supposed to get old and grey.

My poor father-in-law stopped by on the day when my sister-in-laws dyed his hair (and God Bless him - he has more than me) but his hair had an orange tint to it.

"Dude," I said. "You look like Howdy-Doodie."

He touched the top of his head.

"Eh, they got the color wrong, sonsofbitches."

We both laughed.

(He actually stopped by yesterday too to argue some baseball (Indians fan) and his hair looked much better.

I give him credit too...

...he never once mentioned my freaking eyebrows.

Ah well...

...what can you do?

I'm way too good-looking anyway.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Just Get Yours

Read a study on Saturday that said that we, as Americans, are 40% less compassionate now than we were back in the 1980's.

The 1980's weren't all that long ago.

Yet, you feel it for sure.

There's a nastiness that hangs in the air.

Jay Thomas (RIP) was fond of saying that we always had lazy people to deal with.

"10% of the population has always been useless," Jay said. "Back when they were building the pyramids there were lazy bastards sitting on the sidelines saying 'This is stupid.'"

Jay went on to say:

"We used to take care of those people."

Perhaps there are more who fall into the "useless" category, but I suspect not. I believe there are more who've slipped into the troubled area, but they're still trying.

It's not laziness that is hampering them, but a changing of the rules. The American Dream isn't quite so easily achieved for some. Financial difficulties, healthcare questions, educational opportunities...

...there are a lot of reasons for a person's slide.

There should be no reason for a lack of compassion.

During the hurricanes there was a lot of humanity on display. People helping people. I was buoyed by some of what I saw...

...and then the DACA discussion took center stage.

800,000 people displaced?

I decided to read the comments section...

...shouldn't have done it.

"Send them back! Their parents broke the law!"

Back to where?

A child who has only known America at home is going to be sent back to the country his parents fled from?

I don't pretend to know the immigration answers...

...but it bugs me a whole lot when people are dismissed as disposable.

"Every creation has a purpose."

I started my book, Desperation, with that line.

I honestly try to put myself in someone else's shoes before I dimiss them or accept them.

Disregarding 800,000 people at a time seems short-sighted to me, but what do I know?

I haven't yet lost my sense of compassion.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Both Sides Now

I have mostly rock and roll on my phone that I play through my headphones by using the Bluetooth.

It's a miracle to me whenever it works.

I was on the riding lawnmower going in circles at Mom's house and Judy Collins came through the headphones to my ears.

I've written about it before, but man, every time I hear it, I think:

Perfect song.

Just wonderful.

Looking at life and live from both sides. Love is great, love is grand, ain't love a bitch? Love sucks.

And life is a bitch and then you die, as opposed to wonderful life.

We've all been on both sides of all of it.

Things that are gained and things that are lost...

...in living day by day.

Perfect.

I have a couple of other Judy Collins songs mixed in...

...love to listen to singer-songwriters.

On Friday night I talked about music with Sam.

He was mentioning Lil' Wayne, Drake and Eminem.

I was talking Bruce and Johnny Cash and the Stones.

He doesn't have to listen to my music, but someday...

...I hope he someday stumbles onto Both Sides Now...

...and appreciates that it's just perfect.

Even if she never had seizures from the grape drank, like Lil' Wayne.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Forgot the Blog!

A scramble of a Friday night as we made plans for dinner out following work, but Kathy got tied up and ended up heading out to Jake on the college campus because there were things he needed.

(I try not to get involved in those conversations).

So, it was just Sam with me and we were hungry.

We ordered like it.

Brought dinner back for my beautiful wife...

...and then I sat there...

...watching the Yankees pummel the hapless O's and catching up on social media.

Texted Sam (who'd gone to play hoops):

No answer.

Tried Kathy (who's phone was on fumes):

No answer.

Gave Jake a go: (he was also playing ball, evidently):

No answer.

And I started getting antsy.

Why couldn't they answer?

Yankees game ended. Chops were digested. Tried them all again.

Nothing!

Me and Melky went up.

Kept looking at the phone and thinking about how absurd the phone game has become. We all used to hide for hours! Now an hour goes by without contact and My God!

I was still reading when two cars came down the road.

Sam texted:

"Here. Hot tub in 30 seconds."

Heard Kathy moving around and dropped by to say hello.

Just another Friday night in the life of an old dope.

I could've wrote a blog at least!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Freedom to Speak

Jemele Hill is an announcer on ESPN.

When she's at work she reads the sports of the day, and at other times she gives her opinion on stories that are controversial.

She seems competent.

She's a young, thoughtful professional black woman. In her off hours, she posted her opinion of Trump on her Twitter account.

She labeled him as a racist, a white supremacist and an all around unqualified president.

Certainly her opinion and we are all entitled to our opinions, and her opinion isn't one that is unique.

In Donald terms, many people have been saying it.

ESPN put out a statement saying that Hill's words don't reflect the company feelings.

Hill put out the required apology.

Then it got weird.

The White House spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee-Sanders (who always looks as if she just bit into a grapefruit) said that Hill should be fired for what she thought.

I laughed at that.

Does she know who her boss is?

He tweets like a crazed lunatic!

He called Obama a racist. He calls people fat, stupid, idiotic...

...over and over again.

Perhaps Hill shouldn't have tweeted it.

I'm sure she thought about it long and hard and decided, to hell with civility. She believed that Trump was too sympathetic to white supremacists.

Felt she had to say it.

She did.

We all have an opportunity to say what we want to say to whoever we want to say it to or about.

Lord knows I have a lot of opinions!

Sometimes I say them out loud. Most of the time I pull the punches on what I really feel.

I work for a company that I represent on a daily basis. I also have a wife and kids who are affected by everything I do.

So, sometimes I don't say exactly what I might want to say.

But I respect Jemele's right to say it.

She's a young, professional black woman who heard the president of the country say that there are bad people on both sides of the white supremacist issue...

...and good people on both sides too.

Hill was most likely angered by the good people white supremacist drama.

Good for her.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Mail Order Bride

Sometimes the truth is just too much to take.

"You gotta' help us," one of the guys on the site said.

"What's up?"

"We know a guy who's getting taken to the cleaners by a scam."

"Oh boy," I said.

They spilled the details.

Basically, the guy was promised a 10 who would be all his if she could just get out of the country where she was born.

I saw the photos.

Definitely an attractive woman. No Kathy Fazzolari, but attractive in a big-breast sort of way.

"So he has a little hope in his heart," I said.

"He's already sent about twenty grand! Every time that she's supposed to arrive something happens and then he forks over more cash."

Damn!

"How do I help?" I asked.

"Tell him!" Both guys said, at once.

People Believe What They Want to Believe When It Makes No Sense At All.

"There's no telling him," I said. "He's gotta' bottom out. He's too invested now. He's gonna' keep going until he's flat broke, or she shows up."

"You think she's showing up?" The first guy said.

"Nope."

The two guys were following me around.

"You gotta help us!"

The entire conversation made me so uncomfortable.

Two friends trying to save a guy from himself.

"Nothing you can do," I said.

"He's spending every dime he has!"

"We build with one hand and burn with the other," I said. "It'll dawn on him eventually, and hopefully he'll have enough left to pick up the pieces."

"What if he hurts himself?" the second guy asked.

"That's when you help him," I said.

And sad as it seems...

...it is all they can do.

They can tell the guy until they're blue in the face.

Right now he's still looking at the photo...

...and dreaming.


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Wish I Didn't Know Now...

...What I didn't know then.

On 9/11/01 I was absolutely oblivious.

There were three young kids running around here. Sam was only 14 months old.

I was on the periphery of anything to do with political discourse.

When someone yelled "Bin Laden!" I didn't actually know who that was...I'd heard his name, but didn't have any idea that he could pull something like that off.

I think a lot of Americans were oblivious to life's goings-on then. For one thing, it wasn't quite as instantaneous then as it is now.

It wasn't the dark ages, but Twitter and Facebook and news media having to write stories in the minute...

...nah, wasn't that way.

I remember the instant when I found out. I was listening to Howard interview Pam Anderson.

It was a day as bright and sunny as Monday was here in Buffalo.

I felt rage.

I felt sadness.

I felt sick to my stomach to what was happening to America.

And the world changed that day...

...not only for the families who suffered horrific loss.

We all felt their loss.

And unfortunately, the mission was a success for the terrorists.

It divided us.

I want to think the best is yet to come, and maybe I just missed it all before 9/11/01, but there's a distinct divide separating the thoughts of the right front those being thought by the left.

Can't really have a productive conversation anymore.

I was only 36 years old that day.

Still felt like a kid.

Still thought like a kid.

That day made it all seem so much more desperate and serious. I started paying more attention to the political landscape.

That's not necessarily a great thing.

I've joined in on some of the debates.

Felt profound sadness.

"I missed it," Sam said. "I was only one!"

Good for him.

Wished we all had missed it.

Still too sad...

...to fully comprehend.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Hurricane Coverage

Who's tired of the hurricane coverage?

I don't want to seem insensitive at all, but back-to-back massive storms in two hugely populated areas has resulted in wall-to-wall coverage.

And there really isn't a lot to say.

Evacuate.

Hunkered Down.

Ghost Town.

We've seen the stories of horror, of course, and it's heartbreaking to know that this is a life-altering event, but do these poor people need a microphone shoved in their faces as they pick through the ruins of what had once been their lives.

"Looks like you lost your home, your cars, and your dogs. How do you feel?"

"You've decided to stay at your home when all reports say that if you stay you'll die, aren't you worried?"

"Now that you're broke and homeless do you think you'll be able to recover?"

I don't know.

I guess you have to find the story, but those reporters out searching for a shot of devastation could also be kind of dangerous, right?

"Here I am standing in a river of water next to a downed power line. People need to watch out because they might get electrocuted."

"The wind is blowing down these trees left and right. Some of these trees are huge and if they fall down on your head you could get crushed."

The sound goes off. The announcer back in the studio says:

"Make sure you're careful out there, Brian!"

"Yeah!" He yells. "It's really rainy but the big problem is the wind. It's really windy!"

And the stats.

"It's a category 4!"

"The winds are 185 MPH!!"

"There are 700,000 people evacuated!!!"

It's all so exciting, I guess...

...to someone.

I've had enough.

And maybe it's because I've tired of the utter sadness, and the horrible images.

It's just all too much.

"Back to you out there in the middle of the storm!! Be careful, Brian."

Monday, September 11, 2017

Season Opener

The son who is away at college came by yesterday so I could give him some cash.

He was back on Sunday morning because he suddenly came up with tickets for the Bills-Jets season opener.

The other guy, who usually has to be roused from bed, was up, yelling:

"LET'S GO!"

All for a team that is reasonably expected to win a half dozen games.

Me?

I wanted to go to Wegman's in the morning to get the ingredients for sauce.

Place was packed!

Guys and gals all dressed in red and blue.

"GO BILLS!!!"

Life in a football town...

...a cash cow.

I have my problems with the NFL...

...plenty of them actually, but I do recall being excited for the games back when they were good. I kind of don't see the point now, but hey, the Bills are 1-0!

"FIRST PLACE, BABY!"

As Sam reminded me for the 6 hours after the game until I headed off to bed.

Thank God it's a road game next week.

"This team can win it all," Sam said.

It's gonna be a long year.

Thank God they only play once a week.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Miserable

Another summer over and I hardly picked up my golf clubs.

I love the game...have since I was a kid, but just too beat up to pull it off.

Decided to play it smart. 

With a work tournament coming up with some great friends, I took a couple of days off! Then I went for a massage the night before.

8 holes in to what was supposed to be a 36-hole get together, I couldn't walk!

But I refused to give up!!

I iced all night.

Then shot par for 4 out of 10 holes...

...before quitting.

Didn't finish 18 holes either day.

As I drove home, after bowing out, I did an accounting of my year.

I picked up the clubs 4 times in 6 months...and only was able to finish 18 holes twice!

I used to play every day when I was 18.

Then every week.

I played 45 holes one day long, long ago, and would've played 9 more if we hadn't run out of light!

And now...

...I'm so messed up, leg, feet, hip & back-wise that I can barely make it to the turn.

"You're playing so well!" My cart partner said. He'd watched me hit a ball, get back to the cart and put on an ice pack....

...until we arrived at my next shot.

The pain nauseated me.

I thought about work.

I have to get to work...

...so I tapped out.

Miserable!

Back to Law & Order.

Try again next year, I guess.

Me and Tiger deserved a better fate.

Both cut down in our prime.

Sucks!!

Won't even try again until May.

Golf is supposed to be a game you can play when you retire...

...damn!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Weather

You know that you're getting older as you check the weather before getting out of bed for the day.

And we're all meteorologists right now.

"Oh, looks what is coming," someone will say to me as they extend their phone.

Clouds of blue, red and green are moving over your location.

"I don't know what that means. Is it gonna' rain?"

That's all I need out of the weather report....

... concise!

"It's gonna suck!"

"It'll be nice!!"

Save all the rest.

And we got a good rainstorm where I was on Friday.

We didn't want rain.

"Awful!" One guy said. "Why did it have to rain today?"

I thought about the weather bashing communities all across the country.

Holy cripes!!

Hurricanes! Earthquakes!! Fires!!!

We can deal with a little rain, I think.

For all the people in Irma's path...

...stay safe!

Hoping the destruction is minimal for you!

It's gonna' suck.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Cheaters

So, the Red Sux have been caught cheating, using Apple Watches to text information to coaches who signaled batters in the box as to which pitch is coming.

Through the years it's always been a game inside a game...

...steal a sign here and there.

But when you're doing what they're doing?

Garbage.

I was mildly irritated with the story until I read about an actual game moment when Mitch Moreland ripped a good changeup for a two-run single.

The hit came after a pitching change when the guy on second used the break in action to return to the dugout and go over the sequence to steal the sign.

A two-game swing in the standings.

The Yankees are also upset because they believe, after viewing video, that Boston has been doing it against all of their opponents.

Horseshit!

There are a lot of people who say Pete Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame.

I don't.

He bet on and against his teams as he was managing.

He agreed with the lifetime ban.

The game doesn't need him. The integrity of the game is important, just as it was when the Patriots got filming practices, or the Falcons got hit for pumping in crowd noise, or the Browns got punished for using cell phones to transfer information.

(Notice I didn't mention the air in the ball - that was absolute garbage).

And it's been going on for years...

...the Cowboys were aware of the Bills using the shovel pass in their 2nd Super Bowl even though the Bills had never run the playoff before...

...they had a coach watching their practices.

The Red Sux need to be punished.

Hard.

The AL East race is close. I think the Yankees are the better team. Yet, they're behind right now.

I spent the year wondering why.

Guess I don't have to wonder much about it now.

Horrible.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

I'm Wide Awake

There aren't a lot of chances to see good old rock and roll anymore. Over the last five years or so I think that I've been to maybe 6 shows and 3 of them were Springsteen...

...so U2 at the Bills Stadium has been on the calendar for awhile.

I've always enjoyed their music and missed on past chances to see them. Concerts are for the young crowd, but there was a lot of grey hair in our section.

And it's funny because Sam went to a concert on Saturday - whole bunch of new "music". (Nothing I'd ever be caught listening to) but I'm glad he enjoys the arts. We need talented people playing music!

"Gonna see U2," I said.

"Whoever they are," Sam joked.

(I know he knows!)

I've made you wait for the review because U2 made us wait...didn't come on until 9:30. Most of the crowd is usually in bed by then.

Yet, when Sunday Bloody Sunday started I felt a chill up and down my spine. Everyone knew every word...a song from the early 80's.

It was spectacular.

The singing was great...Bono might have the best R&R voice ever. Edge is talented.

There were messages. All positive. Zero political angst, but we know where the band stands on the big issues.

What was absolutely amazing was the screen behind the band...

...photos of the landscape and a real full moon above.

Spectacular.

One well known song after another.

Beautiful Day, With or Without You, Ultraviolet Rays.

Good stuff!

Rock and Roll!

It was midnight before I laid down. When I got up a few hours later to visit the facilities I almost fell down...evidently I can't stand up between the hours of 9:30 pm to 11:30 p.m.!

My mind is still ready for 🎸 rock & roll!

My back, legs and feet...

...not so much!

Good thing there's only one show a year worth seeing...

...Sam needs to take control...

...he just needs to know what good music is!

Two thumbs up for U2.

Bono sang out:

"I'm Wide Awake!" over and over.

Amazing.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Back to School

On Monday afternoon we all received a bot message on our phone from Sam's school.

It's the last start of the year message that we'll receive.

I put the message on speaker so we could all hear it, and it told us of a meet and greet with Sam's teachers on Wednesday night.

"I take it that we aren't going," I said.

Everyone laughed.

Yeah.

We've been through it now...plenty of times...Sam is on his own!

It certainly doesn't seem that long ago that Kathy and her mother were all here for the first day of school. We took photos with the digital camera.

"What time are you going to bed?" I asked Sam.

He is a notorious night owl.

"I'll knock it back to two," he said.

"I'm thinking about 8:30," I said. "Get a good night of sleep."

He laughed.

"I'm serious," I said. "Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Melky is regimented. You'll work better that way."

That devolved into a discussion about how Melky and I were the mentally deranged ones by being routine.

"A little chaos is good," he said.

And that's where I tapped out.

The buses are back out.

Sam will be taking long afternoon naps...

...and staying up late.

We don't need a parent-teacher conference to see how it goes.

We didn't run out with the camera to watch him get on the bus at the start of his last year...

...maybe we should have.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Preaching

Joel Osteen caught some grief during for the hurricane response of his mega-church.

He claimed, after social media ripped him a new one, that he didn't offer up the church as a shelter because no one asked.

His website was taking donations, however.

Then he claimed that the place was flooded.

Then, after a day of being ripped apart, he opened the doors.

Even held a service...

...and passed a collection plate.

I don't have a lot of patience for this sort of thing. I've left mass when the sermon has turned into a money drive.

When the kids were young and money was real tight I went to mass one day and the priest was hammering those in attendance for not giving until it hurt. He explained that the parish had just ten grand in the bank, and needed more.

I headed home.

There have been a long line of fake preachers through the years. Most of them end up living the lifestyle of the rich and famous.

They prey on the vulnerable and the weak.

They catch people who are worried about their eternal lives and they make promises...

...as if they're speaking for God.

And people eat it up!!!

What a business!

Osteen is worth millions and millions of dollars.

When he had the chance to help people...

...it seems that he had to be shamed into it.

Then he explained that the hurricane destroying lives and homes was actually a good thing because God wanted to see how strong the people are.

What a crock.

That's like saying that the hurricane was actually a wonderful thing.

Of course, people believe what they want to believe when it makes no sense at all.

Listen up.

You can have faith and belief in God...

...and you can be granted eternal life...

...without going belly up because you sent your paycheck to guys like Osteen.

He showed the world what he's about anyway.

But some people still want to subsidize his lifestyle.

If you fall into that category...

...well...

...God Bless You.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Labor Day

It's one of my favorite days of the year...

...because it's a day off for all of us who work hard all year.

One time a few years back I asked a buddy of mine:

"How's work?"

"I wouldn't go if they weren't paying me," he said.

Which is mostly true, right?

Yet, it's important to enjoy what you're doing, and even more important that you do the best you can every day.

It really doesn't matter what you do...

...you should try and do it well.

Whether you're a safety consultant, a writer, a shortstop for the Yankees, or a gal who makes ice cream cones...do the best you can do.

And we see a whole lot of people out there who don't do it so well, don't we?

I swear that is something that aggravates me to no end.

I once interviewed a guy for a job and he asked me:

"When am I eligible for vacation and how much time do we get?"

That was his first question!

He didn't get the job.

I know an owner who had to gather all his employees cell phones and put them in a box because one of his employees who spend more than 30 minutes in the toilet each morning...playing video games!

I'm forcing myself to take a few days off this coming week.

Every year I get to the end of the year and realize that I didn't use any vacation!

Which is silly.

But I've always considered that being able to earn a living is a privilege, and I've been blessed in having been gainfully employed for a long, long time.

I really figure that it's up to me to show my kids that working hard is important.

Pick up the rock and carry it on.

Dad provided me with my first job as a union laborer.

I was the big boss' son.

"People will be watching you to see how hard you work," Dad said. "Both of our names are on the line."

Since that day I've always played a little game with myself.

"Did I give them more than I took?"

I can honestly say that nearly every day I can say "Yes."

That's why I enjoy Labor Day off.

Have a good one!

Rest a little!!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Nobody's Home

Woke up early on Saturday, of course, but made a conscious decision to stay in bed. The 9 state trip of the week that just passed had me feeling a little tired. I put on the news and made a decision to not pick up the phone.

I could've stayed there for awhile too, as Kathy was at work and Sam was still sleeping, and would be for awhile.

I did well with staying away from the phone, and by 1:00 was in a spot to watch Yankees-Red Sox.

Finally, Sam made an appearance.

"I'm going to a concert, and you're driving me," he said.

I thought about dinner.

For years and years, dinner was an event...

...making sure the kids had a well-balanced meal.

Instead of it being a big deal...

...I made three hamburgers and cut up a few tomatoes.

Me and Kathy are in relative silence and cleanup took all of five minutes.

"It's weird that nobody's home," I mentioned.

We didn't have to fight for the television.

We actually took twenty minutes choosing a movie.

Weird.

And I do imagine that it's a sneak peek into what life might be like, a lot of the time, as soon as a year from now, if Sam goes off to college.

Yet old habits die hard.

I got the sauce ready for Sunday.

Jake and Sam will most certainly be here tomorrow.

There's grocery shopping to do, and a bit of cleaning up to get done, but soon enough...

...it seems as if nobody will be home when I come through the door.

Empty nest?

Hardly seems fair, I suppose.

Rest will come easier, right

I was fighting sleep by the time the movie hit the mid-point...

...and nobody was around to drive me nuts.

Even for a day...

...I missed 'em.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

NFL Preview

The NFL players are going to be able to celebrate this year!

Goodell says that there won't be any penalties for celebrating after a touchdown...

...maybe it'll take their mind off being permanently maimed by the game.

Anyway, it's that time of year. I make my predictions so that my boys can laugh at me after the season...

...except I got the super bowl winner right last year when Tom and the Hoodie won again.

Easy enough. The division winners:

New England, Pittsburgh, Houston and Oakland in the AFC.

Dallas, Green Bay, Atlanta and Arizona in the NFC

San Diego and Baltimore are AFC wild cards

Detroit and the Giants are NFC wild cards.

Special Note: Nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills. For the 18th straight season they're gonna' put the wagons right back into the barn after Game 16.

There's not even a lot of excitement around town. Sam, who usually has them at 13-3 or 12-4 could only find 8 wins for them.

Read that again:

Their most optimistic fan has them at 8-8.

Which means that I have them at four wins...

...and I'm being optimistic!

So, with the Bills out of the way, who wins it???'

I'm going with Oakland-New England in AFC Title Game.

Dallas-Green Bay in NFC.

The Super Bowl matchup will be:

New England-Green Bay.

And Tommy & Hoodie get number 6 and I aggravate the piss out of every Bills fan all year.

Ah well.

I didn't pick them at 19-0.

18-1 oughta' do it.

Friday, September 1, 2017

On Standby

So, there was a lot of excitement for having a shot at the Springsteen on Broadway tickets.

We would definitely make the trip if we could somehow score tickets, but the task seemed daunting. Only 950 seats per performance, but he'd be playing 5 shows a week for a couple of months.

And then it got exciting!

Ticketmaster and Bruce's people wanted to work out a plan to make sure that Bruce's biggest fans got a shot at the tickets. Too many times, at too many locations, the secondary market prices are astronomical.

Tickets go on sale...

...BAM! Gone in mere minutes.

So, I was hopeful.

They were limiting tickets to two per person. You had to sign up and be evaluated and then they'd send back an access code.

Fans would be getting the seats!

I got an email.

"You're on standby." It read.

What the hell did that mean?

Well, the people with access codes would get first crack, but I was still in the game. They promised that I'd have a shot at an access code shortly after ten...

...maybe.

I didn't get an access code.

Half an hour later, hundreds of tickets started showing up on the secondary markets.

Scalpers win again!!!

And I know it pisses off Springsteen, as its pissed of a lot of other artists. Bruce actually went outside at an MSG concert and tried to confront the scalpers...

...the police wondered if he were nuts.

There are now two more months of shows coming.

Good news!

I don't have to reenroll for another chance.

They'll let me know!

No hard feelings!

I still want to go...

...Kathy does too.

Wish us luck, huh?

Otherwise...

...you know any scalpers?

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Redskins Argument Again

Third-graders at a private school in Bethesda aren't allowed to wear their Redskins jerseys to school anymore.

I didn't get the school's name but that doesn't matter...

...this argument has been going on awhile.

The Redskins won't hear any of it. Snyder isn't changing the name, and every year we hear all about it.

When the topic comes up there's always a white guy on a radio show somewhere who says:

"Leave it alone! I know a Native American guy and it doesn't bother him!"

Kind of like saying:

"I have black friends," when someone calls you a racist.

Is it offensive?

Not to me...

...but if they were the Washington Wops...

...I might have a problem.

The Washington Pollacks?

Washington Drunk Irish Dudes?

The examples are endless, and the Redskins term was deragatory some time ago, right?

But I see the other side of it as well.

That has been the team name forever. It's a brand. Big money. Plenty of proud former Redskins players and we're all too sensitive now.

Snowflakes!

Stop crying!!

We've all heard it all.

The battle has been going on how long now?

I'm not sure that the third-graders need to be brought into the fight. I don't think that little Larry from Maryland should be forced to give up his favorite shirt from his favorite team because it's racist.

Why are we teaching them racism?

That kid never considered it when he was putting on his shirt.

Ah well.

Let's all talk about it for another year, right?

Stir up some more debates between the left and right....

...after all...

...everyone gets along way too famously now.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

On Vacation

Jay Thomas, the humorist, actor, radio show host, who died this past week...

...and made me sad...

...actually left a note behind, telling people not to be sad because he had a lot of fun, and lived his life as if he were on vacation every day.

I loved that!

And unfortunately I think about such things too much, but I do know what Jay was saying there.

Death is the big end, right.

Yet, I certainly feel much as Jay has felt throughout his days.

I've enjoyed my time immensely, and if something happens suddenly I'd love people to know that much.

Life has always felt like a bit of a vacation for me as well. Even with the physical pain of the last few years I have always enjoyed my life's work, and writing the books has been a tremendous pleasure...

...it's what I might do if someone said that we only had 24 hours left!

I'd spend as much time as I could with the ones I love, of course, but at the very last moment I might end up with a pen and a notebook on my lap.

It's funny, and I just thought of it now, but as a kid I had swelling in my index finger and it had worried my mother. She wondered what was going on, but I explained that it was from holding a pen.

So, life has felt like a bit of a vacation for me.

I've enjoyed the full catastrophe of my days. I've been a part of two great families. I've laughed with hundreds of friends....and a lot of strangers, actually!

Yet, what saddens me when I hear of someone's death (especially a celebrity that I never met) is that I think of The big D coming for me.

And I don't want to miss what happens down the line!

I want to be around to see how many World Series the Yankees eventually get to...

...and flying cars...

...and life spans that eventually get to 150 or so.

But anyway...

...I'd hope that the people who've known me...

...and who get to stick around longer than me...

...don't feel sadness, either.

Because it's been a good time.

Almost as if I've been on vacation.

(The big D is an uncomfortable conversation, but it's part of life, right?)

Live your life as if you're on vacation.

RIP JT

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Heaven Here On Earth

Who isn't horrified by the photos of the people in Texas?

If you aren't, and your brain instantly switches to laying blame, or amping up for a fight...

...well, you might have a problem.

I spent a lot of time considering the horror, and then some of the images made me turn my thoughts to the compassion.

I watched a video of a man, with an elderly woman in a basket, trying to balance everything as he hung by a tether, and tried to lift her into a helicopter.

The rain and wind pummeling him, as he worked.

The sense of relief on his face as he handed her off.

I saw a photo of a man, wading through waist deep water, holding a German Shepherd close.

Saving the life of a dog.

And it occurred to me.

This is America.

None of the hateful rhetoric matters right now.

Rescuers aren't checking citizenship papers.

Men and women are banding together to save lives.

Wading in to look for people who are stranded. Carrying people, on their backs to safety.

And when the storm clears there are going to be a whole lot of stories talking about who shouldn't done what and why didn't they do this or that.

All Monday morning quarterbacking.

Know a couple of things:

1). This is where we really, really need government help and resources. I'm sure there are people who normally hate the government, being saved by it.

2). There's heaven in the details. People's lives are being saved.

The water will eventually dissipate.

The rain will stop.

And together...

...not divided...

...we shall overcome.

God help those people.

Seems it's already happening.

Heaven is alive in the hearts of the people who are risking their own safety to help total strangers out.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Stay or Go?

They say that 60% of the people who were told to evacuate in advance of the hurricane decided to stay right where they were.

Hopefully they all did okay, but the photos don't seem to bear that out. It's horrifying to hear about freeways flooded and people on the roof of their homes, waiting to be rescued.

Yet the sheriff in one of the towns told those who wanted to stay that he hoped they'd put their social security numbers on their arms so they could be easily identified.

I don't think it'd be much of a call around here. As much as we enjoy our home, we'd most certainly pack up the car and head for higher ground.

I can't imagine how scary it must be to see the news reports and know that your home is gonna get filled with water. Everything that you've worked for gone, and the flood protection regulation just recently stripped under an executive order...

...so insurance companies don't have to pay out.

We've never had such an emergency here.

You can stay in your home when there's a snowstorm coming...

...and we've had plenty of practice with those.

Yet not knowing if your roof is going to end up in your neighbors yard is a special kind of worry. And if the power goes off...

...watch out!

My kids don't do the no power thing.

We lost power here during a summer freak incident, and no games, no television and no air conditioning was big trouble.

We did have one storm where the power was off for a few days. My wife and kids headed for North Collins and left me alone with the generator.

I had pasta, steak and beer each night while they were gone.

The photos of the devastation in Texas is mind-boggling. The shots of the storm making landfall was downright scary.

People will really suffer for years and years and years.

What's nasty about a coming storm is that people seem to want to find someone to blame for it. The president always seems to get a lot of heat.

Because they can't win. The flood protection deregulation is going to get a lot of note soon and it's inconceivable that lives will be destroyed over money.

But they will.

When the storm hits the people who stayed home to brave it are considered to be morons by the people who live thousands of miles away.

Sometimes it's not so simple.

I can see people who have stayed in one home forever, being afraid to leave.

And perhaps financial constraints stop people from running for it.

Yet these days in the world of everyone is an idiot if they disagree with how you'd do it...

...sympathy is in short supply.

One woman posted that she had to stay because she worked at a hospital in the area and was on call.

She was scared and posted her story to talk to others about what she was experiencing.

"You're an idiot," the first guy wrote. "I hope your walls collapse. Why would anyone sit through a hurricane because of a stupid job?"

A number of people jumped to her defense, but the damage was done.

We would go.

At least my wife and kids would.

They'd probably leave me here to wait it out.

Hope they all recover quickly.

Hard to imagine.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Sheriff Joe

It's been a lot of years since I first heard of Sheriff Joe Apraio and his controversial techniques in Arizona.

Like many others I sort of believed that it was a progressive way to get something out of those who might be in jail. Why let prisoners sit around, lift weights and watch television?

Can't they be put to work somehow?

Yet, time has passed and a lot of light was placed on Joe's antics.

And they were antics.

Before you jump to his defense, consider that many of those confined in his tent city hung themselves. Others were treated like animals. Many, many, many were rounded up because of what they looked like.

The color of their skin.

Immigration isn't an easy subject. That border line is like a huge scar running for miles. Men and women, running for their lives crossed that line.

Not rapists or criminals in most respects.

Men and women.

And once in a land where freedom reigns, they were rounded up and stripped of their freedoms and denied any semblance of law.

Okay. 

It has never become more apparent to me that a lot of people are actually for that type of action now. I wish I had a nickel for every social media warrior who talks of imprisoning these people, or worse, without thought of their life or liberty.

Yet Sheriff Joe was told to stop.

He received a direct order from a judge.

No more!

He was hired to uphold the law of the land. He received direct orders on numerous occasions to stop what he was doing.

He ignored those orders.

He was found guilty.

And he hadn't even been sentenced yet when he was pardoned by a man who ignored the process, ignored the directive of the judicial system that governs the land.

That's not right.

"Is he really a racist?" Kathy asked as we were watching the coverage of the Trump pardon.

A simple question because I understood where she was coming from.

Most people don't understand that someone can actually believe that you're okay with denying people  the same rights we all have...

...because of how they look.

A simple question.

Are Sheriff Joe and Trump racists?

The word is thrown around a lot these days...

...most of us don't want to believe it.

But if your actions strip a certain group of people of rights that other groups receive just by being born...

...then you just might be a racist.

And if you're still comfortable in your defense of the grand old sheriff, remember that he was also accused of installing cameras in the women's bathroom in his tent community.

And that's not racist behavior.

It's just plain disgusting.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Jay Thomas

Damn!

This one hurts!!

I was a big fan of Jay Thomas' radio show.

Jay died on Thursday and of course, I didn't have any idea that it was coming. He'd been really sick a little while ago, but I didn't have any idea that he was THAT sick!

Because he was never serious for too long.

Yet there were a whole bunch of highlights that flooded into my brain. Jay was a good friend of the husband of a good friend of mine. Yvonne was my next door neighbor growing up, and one day, Jay spoke about her on his show.

The story he told made me shake with laughter.

I also enjoyed Jay's politics.

He was a true straight shooter.

"Get rid of him...get rid of him!" Jay would shout when a caller would get on his nerves.

And then there was the interview with Kevin Bacon.

Before the interview Jay was asked not to bring up the fact that Kevin Bacon lost money to Bernie Madoff.

"So, you lost money in the Madoff deal, huh?" Jay asked, almost immediately.

The interview went as badly as you might think.

I'm sure that his show will live on and be played over and over for years and years...

...but I won't be able to listen.

Too sad!

"Get rid of him!"

"Get rid of him!!"

Jay might say.

May he Rest In Peace.

He would always tell his listeners that he was barely famous and just a 3rd rate celebrity.

I'd beg to differ...

...he was a great one.

Fort Niagara

Sometimes my job takes me to interesting places. I have to be honest, I didn't know much about Old Fort Niagara.

I always loved history too...but didn't retain it.

The battle back in the 1700's was told on the plaques and in the actions of the men and women who dress up in the old uniforms.

And then I entered the castle.

That's when I was blown away by the architecture and the vintage furniture. I could almost imagine the scenes as they prepared for battle.

The mason who is working on some of the brick was my tour guide. We marveled at how the place was built back all those years ago.

"You have to see the jail," he said.

I thought about the battle waged in the field. I heard about the underground tunnels and we went looking for the cannons.
"That's where they loaded them."

"Whoa," I said. "This is so freaking cool!"

As we were heading back to the work area we saw a woman, dressed in the garb of the day, sitting outside, working on mending clothes, I believe.

"They worked so hard. They fought so bravely," I said.

We went over the drawbridge, and took in the solid brick walls that protected the place.

"Exactly," the mason of today said, "And most of the people we know these days are all worked up when the wi-fi goes out."

We laughed.

So cool.

The job is going to run a little while longer.

Next time I'm gonna' see what the underground tunnels were all about.

I mentioned it when I got home.

"I saw that place," Sam said. "Went there on a field trip. I remember the cannons."

Friday, August 25, 2017

Record Theater Is Closing

Sad!

The one record store that was left is closing on Sunday. Record Theater in Buffalo will close its doors on Sunday, and when I read the story, I felt sadness.

First off, I hate the way music is delivered these days.

(Mostly)

I do like being able to order something with a click of the phone, but there was absolutely nothing like getting your paycheck and heading into the record store to browse.

Even more exciting is when a record came out.

I know exactly which store I bought each Springsteen record from 1978 through about 2005.

"Why don't you get rid of all those CD's?" My beautiful wife asked me one day.

(She's strictly against my shelves that are filled with books and CD's for some reason).

"Leave me alone."

I recall Mom taking us to buy each of us a record.

John got Billy Joel, Glass Houses.

Corinne got Tom Petty, Damn the Torpedos

And I went with Bob Dylan and Slow Train Coming.

Someone recently mentioned that the record business went under because people were forced to buy full albums.

I love full albums!!

I always play them as they were written.

"Thunder Road" opened Born to Run and "Jungle land" closed it.

That's the way it was supposed to be!

So, I'm a little sad.

I now have all my music on my phone or on an iPod.

Sometimes I shuffle all the songs.

Technology kinda' cost us on this one.

We should all still be buying our music.

That ain't the worst part though...

...and I'm gonna' sound like an old man here...

...they don't write 'em like they used to now anyway!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Are You Ready for Some Football?

My kids were fired up at the start of August.

"Tyrod has Sammy and Boldin! He's gonna' be throwing for 400 yards every week!"

Then Sammy was traded.

Shocked everyone.

The other day, Boldin retired because he wanted to do work on the division in the country.

"Dude, he figured that he had a better shot at solving racism than getting the Bills into the playoffs."

My kids weren't amused.

And the season hasn't even started yet.

Most of Western New York has already given up.

It's not even going to be fun to make fun of them.

But you know what drives me crazy about football?

It's that whenever you hear someone getting interviewed about it this is what it sounds like:

"I was talking to my football team the other day about what it means to be a football player and taking the football field. It's an honor to be a football player, and to be able to compete during a football game and over a full football season."

And God help you if the conversation gets around to the league!

No one says, "NFL" it's always "The National Football League."

Of course, I think the league is going to have an explosion anyway.

Player after player is now kneeling through the anthem.

Perhaps Boldin can solve that particular problem because if there's one thing I know:

"When a football player kneels on the football field before the football has been kicked off then the football coaches and the football owners are gonna' be mad at the football players."

Oh.

One other thing I know:

The Bills might not make the playoffs!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Look Up

There's a moment on the Roger Waters record where he sings about looking up at the stars, feeling insignificant in the grand scheme of things...

...and not giving two shits about it.

I don't know what you thought about the solar eclipse on Monday - was just a partial deal here in Buffalo - but I saw television coverage of the total darkness...

...and it was really cool.

It's amazing that the same scientists who are so damn wrong about climate change can get the sun and moon travels down to the second.

In fact, if you can see something like that and not think about things bigger than yourself...

...you're kind of shallow.

As a kid I was kind of curious about such things, but science wasn't my best of subjects. The one time I recall being absolutely transfixed with the sky was when Skylab was falling out of it.

I was convinced it was going to land on our house.

And it is very important to look up every now and again and dream about other universes or the great beyond.

What else is out there?

Are we compromising the great scheme of things with our own actions...

...or do we not give a shit?

If you missed it...

...7 more years to the next one, and Buffalo will go totally dark.

Can't wait.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Missing A Good Game, Blue

The MLB umpires are staging a protest against the verbal assaults that they've had to endure lately.

Joe West, an ump who lives to be featured as a story above the game, sported a white arm band that was a show of solidarity with some of the other umps who've taken a beat down lately.

Tigers player Ian Kinsler went off on Angel Hernandez after a recent game, suggesting that Hernandez should do something else for a living because he's horrendous as an umpire.

Now, pay no mind to the fact that Kinsler is absolutely correct, going off on an ump is a bad look.

I watch a lot of baseball.

I've seen some strike zones that were horrendous. Most of the time the players adjust. They might get banged on a high strike in the first inning, but by the 3rd or 4th they have the feel for it, and they adjust.

I don't want to see umpires eliminated. I'm sure there could be an electronic strike zone that would remove all debate, but I don't want it.

What I do want is much what Ian Kinsler wants:

Angel Hernandez has to go!

He's awful at his job.

And the rest of the umps have to be aware that they aren't the story. Guys are competing hard. They might get angry when you call a pitch in the opposite batter's box a strike.

Let them gripe!

Nowadays if a player says something the ump rips off his own mask and fights back.

A 'your missing a good game, blue' is not met with a fight.

I was tossed from one game...in all the organized games I ever played in.

There had been a close play at the plate in a highly contested game. The call went against my team, and I had argued heartily with the ump. To his credit, he took it. Everything eventually calmed down and I got into position behind the plate as a catcher.

The next pitch arrived:

"Ball!" He called out.

"Geez," I said, shaking my head in disgust.

And he bounced me!!

I said: "Geez!"

Years later, about ten years ago, I saw the ump out where he was tending bar. I told him the story and he laughed.

"You pissed me off," he said.

And he bought me a shot of crown royal.

"We're just people," he said, as we toasted. "And crown royal isn't just for breakfast anymore."

We laughed and clanked glasses.

Can't we just all get along?

Monday, August 21, 2017

I Found His Blankie

Before Jake was even out the door I decided that the room he was leaving behind needed to be cleaned up.

It was pretty much an exercise in folding clothes that he'd left on the floor of his closet...

...clothes that he hasn't worn in years, but ones that my beautiful wife wants to hang onto because...who the hell knows why...

...in case we have another child, I guess.

Anywhoha...

I just got everything out of the closet and began to fold.

And I found the blankie.

The same one that we chased all around town because he couldn't go to sleep unless he had it in his hands.

"We left the blanket at your parents," was a horrendous thing to hear because I was going back to get it.

No question!

Jake was a tough kid. He was sick early on and he just didn't put up with any crap. It was his way and if you tried to battle him, he'd go at you even harder.

I started to think about the evening when he went off, and Kathy begged me to let him burn himself out. We heard him banging around his room, and eventually I went to check.

Every single thing he owned was in a pile I. The center of his room and he was still piling it up.

"He all right?" Kathy asked when I returned.

"He's like Keith Moon in there. I'm hoping he doesn't have any matches."

I folded the blankie and put it in the top of his closet.

He's off to college.

"Try and behave," I said. "You remember all we taught you, right?"

"I don't remember what we had for dinner," he said.

His room is cleaner now, but weird night.

Was just moments ago.

Every parent feels it.

I'm proud of my boys...

...they've grown to be fine young adults...

...a little wise-ass...

...but they get that from their mother.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Down to One

A lot of buzz around here on Saturday as Kathy, Jake and Sam carried things down the stairs, and out the front door.

Packing up my things so Jake could take them off to school.

We're going to be down to one kid around here, and it's Sam, the easiest kid in the world to parent.

All we have to do with Sam is toss him a bag of chicken fries and a jug of hot sauce.

"You have to study," I said to Jake. "You're going to have a lot of free time. It's easy to just drink beer or play ball or take a nap, but remember to do your work first."

He was hardly listening.

The older they get, the less they appear to listen, but I actually think the opposite is true.

Matt comes by once in a blue moon now.

"What do you want?" I ask.

Once they walk out the door they tend to stay gone, and if they do come back it's usually with one more to feed as they bring a girl by.

Which explains Kathy being a tad on the emotional side.

"I was in tears on the way back," she said, after bringing Jake by for orientation.

"One more," I said, "and then what? We sit here looking at each other?"

Kathy laughed.

"That's about it."

It's going to be a lot quieter around here.

Camp Clifford has just one camper!!!

And he sleeps a lot!

"Aren't you sad?" Kathy asked.

"We can fumigate that room," I said.

But yeah.

I'm a little sad.

"Leave a few bank deposit slips," I said to Jake.

"Okay, I will," he said.

He heard that one.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Bannon Out!

Flynn was the first to go, then Spicer, then Mooch, then Preibus...

...now Bannon.

I've mentioned before, I hate chaos.

If there's one constant about what's happening, it's all about chaos and change.

And the worst part?

We're losing all the Saturday Night Live Characters!

Bannon was a lightning rod for those who have trouble with potential Nazi's, racists and white supremacists. He's the former leader of Breitbart and that's where he's going back to.

Now he has an axe to grind too.

Buckle up!

What gets me about it is that the real story of yesterday was kind of buried by the resignation or firing of Bannon.

I listened to the Mom of the woman killed in Virgina by the white supremacist. The woman was asked if she had spoken to Trump.

"I haven't, and I won't," she said.

Of course she's upset about Trump explaining that there are good and bad people on both sides.

Not what she needed to hear in a time of grief.

And that was heartbreaking to me.

Chaos is one thing.

This is unsustainable, and I've been saying that since January.

But the world has changed again.

Who would've thought that every single day you'd be waiting to see what horrific thing happened today.

9 minutes after the van plowed through the crowd in Barcelona we had footage of the bodies in the street.

"This might be difficult for some viewers," the anchor said.

Ya' think????

I turned away after 10 seconds of looking at injured or dead people.

Do we really need to see it?

Look, I don't know where his presidency is headed.

In the last 4 weeks:

The Boy Scouts were horrified by Trump's speech.

The cops were told to bang the criminals heads as they were being loaded in the police car before they're charged.

North Korea made threats and fire and fury like the world has never seen was promised.

Mooch was hired and fired.

White Nationalists attacked.

Barcelona.

Bannon out!

And we're just getting warmed up!

Let me know when we're great again.

Sirens

I grew up in a small town so I guess my fear of hearing a police, ambulance or fire siren is based on something real.

Back then there was a good chance that I'd know who was on the receiving end of that emergency call.

Now, living in a bigger town, there are more sirens.

But they still scare me.

Most of the time I hear it, and I do an inventory of who is or isn't home.

I know, I know...

...a tad irrational, but every parent in the world knows that fear.

If the emergency vehicle is on your road though, it's even worse.

My boy, Sam, is the anti-Clifford!

I go to bed at the same time each night. I wake up real early every day. Some nights I sleep better than others, but I'm highly routine.

Sam?

He sleeps when he's tired. No matter what time it is and that makes a mess of things some nights.

Well, Thursday morning at just a little after five, I was startled awake by a red, flashing light. My window was open so I heard the crackle of a radio.

"There's a light on in a garage," a voice said.

"COPS!"

Right outside my bedroom window. Looking into my back yard.

I got out of bed quickly and hustled down the stairs. I opened the door to Sam's room.

His bed was empty!!!

My heart leaped to my throat.

"What's up?" Sam said as I looked for the cop car.

"Where were you?" I asked.

"Hot tub," he said. "I fell asleep way early, woke up around midnight...been up since."

Well, the cops are here.

"Why?" He asked.

"I have no idea!"

I looked out the window...there wasn't a cop car to be found. I looked up and down the street.

Nothing!!

Time to get up anyway.

I clicked on Twitter and immediately saw a story.

"Suspect apprehended in southtowns minutes ago," the headline read.

Evidently there had been a epic car chase after the Guns N Roses concert. The driver had escaped on foot. There had been a long hunt for the guy.

"You gotta' get into a routine!" I said to my confused son.

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

I couldn't fathom how to tell him about my fear of sirens.

"Go to bed," I said.

He obliged.

Better!

Safe there.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Heather Heyer

She was a 32-year old woman who wanted to protest the white supremacists in her town.

She got killed for her stance.

And it's pretty weird because whenever you hear about these tragedies you only normally get the body count.

Quick:

Name me a single victim of Columbine, or the Orlando shooting or hell, even 911.

We have a tendency not to dwell on the tragic end of life. Soon enough, we move onto the next one. The friends and families of the victims suffer in silence.

The general public moves on.

Yet, this time, because of the volatility of the scene, and because the president couldn't really bring himself to condemn those who were responsible...

...we had a chance to meet Heather.

I listened to her Mom and Dad say their goodbyes.

There was a beautiful rendition of 'Amazing Grace.'

Heather's coworkers were interviewed at length. As often happens, the newly departed is turned into a bit of a saint, but as her Mom explained, everything was a debate.

A thoughtful, caring, young woman who's life was snuffed out because of a statue of a guy who was a traitor to our country.

Seriously.

She's dead because a bunch of dipshits had a soft spot for Robert E. Freaking Lee.

I didn't comment on any of the Facebook arguments. No real reason to get screamed at by a bunch of dumbasses who just want to fight.

And we all have a right to our opinion, but if you're horribly offended by Kaepernck or Marshawn sitting on their asses during the anthem, but fight for the statue of a guy who led the battle that resulted in 700,000 deaths of Americans...

...well, you might be misguided.

There are no statues of Hitler in Germany.

Why did Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson get a freaking statue in the first place?

Put the damn statue in a museum.

Don't leave it in the center of a town where people who feel the scar of slavery have to look at it.

Who is actually a fan of slavery anyway?

White Nationalists, I guess.

And once more it boils down to a lack of empathy.

Slavery might be something that you don't give a crap about in the context of American history, but if it bothers millions of other people...

...who are you to tell them that the statue should stay up?

It matters that much to you to know that Lee is captured as a hero?

He was a traitor to the country you wanna' make great again!

You know what it is?

It's an excuse to be a racist.

And there's no two sides to the argument.

No one thinks that they're racist, but if you're okay with racism, then even if you don't think you're a racist...

...guess what...

...you are.

And if you are...

...you probably shouldn't have been elected president...

...because like it or not...

...not everyone is white like you.

RIP to Heather.

May your life be celebrated...

...because you didn't have to die.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Summer, Summer, Summer

That's more like it.

The sun feels good and I enjoy going to the jobs on hot days, but it's kind of been a little funky so far this week.

My legs feel like they weigh 400 pounds apiece, and I certainly didn't play much softball...swung the bat 4 times, didn't pick up a glove, and as it turned out didn't even have to ump any games, so I sat on the bleachers and watched mostly.

The young kids played game after game and actually played basketball in between games.

"How you feel?" I asked my 17-year-old son on Monday.

"Fine. Why?" He asked.

We should have at least another 30-60 days of good weather left here in Western New York.

The other weird part about this summer is that there seems to be a fight a day on the National stage. It dawned on me that there's a threat of a civil war because of statues of the last civil war.

Are you kidding me???

And there's been a week of debate about whether or not Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists should be condemned.

Should be that difficult to say:

"How about we respect other people and their different views?"

Guess we can't do that.

A lot of this is pure nonsense...

...and people are dying!

Can't we just enjoy the summer?

Baseball, camping, meeting friends, family.

Laugh a little.

Stop the other stupid shit!

Is that idealistic or naive?

I've tried hard to avoid the news.

Way too much nastiness!

The sun is shining!!

I'm gonna' be able to get some semblance of walk ability back by the weekend...

...I swear I'm not gonna' spend even a minute thinking about hate groups and the such.

Hopefully the president goes golfing all weekend...

...and leaves his phone in his locker.

We can all use the break.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

White Nationalists

It's just so distressing.

Violent protests across this great nation.

Civil unrest.

So much division.

And those who protested the Black Lives Matter protests now have zip to say about the White Nationalists screaming about "taking their country back".

I was busy with love, family and laughter this weekend, but the news is inescapable.

It's at our fingertips.

What happened in Charlottesville, Virgina is nothing short of embarrassing.

And deadly.

Someone got in their car and drive straight into a crowd of people.

Bodies flying through the air.

Men marching and screaming about how their lives have been compromised because people who don't look like them have been granted something that they don't deserve, I guess.

The protest was about a statue of Robert E. Lee coming down.

The protestors wanted it to stay up, I guess.

And now the hatred and division will grow.

We certainly won't hear about peace and love in the coming days because we are reaping what has been sown.

Last year's news was dominated by nastiness.

One side against the other.

"You're an idiot!"

"You're stupid!"

And I don't feel much like throwing around blame to one failed politician or the other.

I don't think it's the media's fault for reporting it either.

In fact, I don't know what to say.

Other than I'm neither shocked or even a little surprised.

We're gonna' get what we get.

Until we clean up the hate.

It's going to take a good long while...

...because for now...

...each day begins with 4,5,6 or 7 hate tweets.

Sad.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Our Time

An old acquaintance has been posting photos of the North Collins Community from 1976.

I recall going to the festivities back then for the bicentennial, but there's a funny thing about memories. I was just a kid and my parents were in their 30's.

On Sunday morning a photo of Mom and Dad was making the rounds, and I have also been immensely interested in the other photos...

...picking out people we all knew.

And then we were all together for Jeff's softball tourney.

This generation of North Collins.

All loving friends.

Beer, softball, good food and laughter.

The kids took over.

As the old dogs now, the Lions went through the motions and were gone after just two games.

And we watched the kids play.

All day long I kept thinking back to the photo of Mom and Dad.

They were so young.

So many days in front of them.

Mostly very happy days.

Then I thought how quickly I went from 11 years of age to nearly 53.

Wink of an eye.

But it occurred to me.

Our time is limited.

We have what seem like mere moments to run, drink, laugh, build a family, and hang out with great friends.

I soaked in every second of the day.

My kids team had a walk-off win.

They were jumping up and down and cheering loudly.

Kept going back and forth in my mind...

...my parents turn...

...our turn...

...my kids turn.

And the lesson?

Cherish the days...like yesterday.

Our family is so grateful for the community that has wrapped us in their arms, and have loved my brother Jeff's kids.

It goes by fast.

But on the beautiful days...

...life is a lot of fun to live.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Big Weekend!

On Saturday morning while shaving, I started to laugh when I had finished the right side of my face.

I thought about a day long ago when Jeff and I were on vacation in Florida. We had met a couple of girls and were headed to meet them. I was driving and he was in the passenger seat.

"I thought you were going to shave," I said.

"I did," he said, and he turned to show me the right side of his face. It was clean-shaven.

But the left side I was looking at had a five o'clock shadow.

"You shaved half your face?" I asked, in disbelief.

"Going for a new look," he said.

"These girls are going to think you're crazy."

"They won't forget meeting me," he said.

And it turned out to be quite the conversation starter. We laughed a lot. Girls didn't have a lot of patience, as it turned out.

But I decided not to go with half a beard for the big weekend.

The pepper 🌶 party was a smashing success. I ate a bunch of peppers. Had to! They were amazing!

Of course, the original idea for the party had been Jeff's and he would've been thrilled with the turnout and the sounds of laughter that echoed across Corinne's & Chuck's backyard.

There will be more laughter on Sunday as the softball tourney is ready to roll!

It's a lot of work because everyone shows up to play, and eat, and laugh.

"They won't forget meeting me," Jeff had said.

Right.

No one has!

What a great weekend!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

NFL News

My boys were in a state of shock on Friday afternoon:

Sammy was traded!

Sammy, of course, was the star wide receiver who cost the Bills two draft picks, insulted everyone when he talked about people and "their little jobs", spent a lot of time hurt...

...and didn't make the playoffs.

 I had mixed emotions about Sammy.

Jake met him three times and Sammy was very accommodating, taking photos with Jake each time, and even playing basketball with Jake and his friends. Jake said that they had him laughing a lot.

Then, I noticed that Sammy also had hip surgery - same repair I had - and he too has had feet problems since.

We're both elite athletes...

...something happens during that hip surgery that presents problems with feet!

Anywhoha...

Sammy is gone.

Then there was the announcement of the suspension of the Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott.

Six weeks for being accused of beating up a woman on a few occasions.

People were crying!

"How could they suspend him for six weeks when he wasn't even charged with a crime?"

You know what's a better question?

How do the stars not get charged with crimes when there appears to be solid proof of men beating up women?

Cowboys fans are in an uproar, nonetheless.

There goes their season!!!

Come on, people!

Do you need to wait until he chops of his girl's head and the waiter who brings her sunglasses?

The royal treatment of these guys is sickening.

Suspend him!

Throw him out of the sport!

Put him in a cell...

...if he did it.

Just don't defend him because he can run with a ball.

Melky and Paris can run with a ball.


Friday, August 11, 2017

Bruce On Broadway

Bruce is going to play a bunch of shows on Broadway.

The shows are in October and November and the tickets go on sale on August 30th.

Here's the rub.

There are only 952 seats for each show.

Only about 38,000 tickets for all the shows.

On August 29th I will find out if I'm in the lottery to possibly get two tickets (which is the max).

"I wanna' go," Kathy said.

"Get me two tickets," my brothers each said.

"I will be there!" Carrie said.

A few things:

1). Bruce once shut down the phone system on the Eastern seaboard when his tickets went on sale.

2). I was once in a lottery to get tickets for a Bruce show in California. Didn't win. My brother, Jim, who was flat broke at the time talked me into driving to the venue to scalp tickets. I brought my entire paycheck, believing we would pay at least 5 times the price for each ticket, and we ran into a honest guy. He sold us two for a total of $20 over the purchase price.

"I could've got more," he said, "but I hope you guys enjoy the show."

We did.

3). Back in '96 Bruce did a solo tour for his awesome 'Ghost of Tom Joad' record. There was no introduction. He carried his own stool out and said, "Hi, I'm Bruce."

And then he performed a freak show for three hours, playing the guitar, harmonica, the drums with his feet, talking and laughing.

I can't rub my stomach and tap my head at the same time and he played 25 songs by himself. My favorite part was at one point when he was mid-song:

"Come on, band!" He said, and then went off on each instrument.

So.

Wish me luck.

I really want to go!

When Bruce announced that the band would be off for 2017, I was dismayed.

Now there's a chance!

952 seats.

50,000 people looking to sit in one.

I like my chances!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Are We Ready?????

The donations are coming in.

I swear, every year, every time someone reaches out, I get a little weepy.

It amazes me.

Yet, I also think of Jeff's days and it makes a lot of sense. He made everyone laugh, almost every time you had the pleasure of running into him.

The thing that was truly special about him was that he was always on. He always cared how YOU felt.

Which is why the day is special.

Because everyone shows up to show us how much he meant to them, and we mean to them.

What's better than that?

Well, I've lived a lot of days now, and the answer is...

...not much.

Mom will be thrilled seeing everyone and knowing that they're there to celebrate.

And my boys are talking smack now.

I only went to the plate a couple of times last year.

Not sure I'll even do one AB this year...

...but it doesn't matter.

And it's been a special year too.

Johnny has been involved in my family all year with trips here and Sam heading there and about a million face-time conversations in between.

The other morning I awoke to see that Johnny had texted me:

"Which song is this from, Bruce fan?" He asked.

He had sent it at 2:45 a.m.

The lyric was:

"There's a pillar in the temple where I carved your name."

It was early, but it took me less than 5 seconds to come up with tha name of the song:

"What Love Can Do," I texted back.

And the hook of the song is:

"Let me show you what love can do."

Every year, our family and friends show me.

I texted the answer to Johnny.

"That was the song that came out the day my Dad got sick," he said.

I know.

Thank you to all.

Showing us what love can do.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Fire & Fury

The little twerp in North Korea supposedly has nuclear weapons.

Isn't that lovely?

We are now faced with a situation that may rival the Cuban Missile Crisis. There's no doubt that Kim Jong would hurt us if he could.

So, what is most likely required is level-headed leadership.

Confident?

The potential crisis was met with a tweet.

Promising fire and fury of which the world has never seen.

Sounds promising.

I'm sure that Trump versus Kim Jong will go well.

These are nuclear weapons that are being bandied about here.

Utter destruction.

Millions of casualties.

I missed most of the news during the day on Tuesday. I was visiting jobs and listening to non-political stuff. The six crisis' every day has gotten tiresome. The daily rants against everyone and anyone...

...have grown boring.

"Trump blowing up the world today?" My son asked me when I came in the door.

"No idea. What's going on now?"

"Nuclear war," Jake said. "Can I use the car to play hoops?"

And that instantly made me think of an old Roger Waters record where there are just five minutes left before the world is blown to smithereens. The guy on the radio says, "Four minutes left, and then announces that the Dodgers game is tied at 2 in the 7th inning.

That's about it.

What the hell are we supposed to do?

Two...umm...leaders...want to get into a pissing match with nuclear weapons...

...what the hell are we supposed to do?

During the election there was a news story where Trump wondered why we have nuclear weapons and not use them.

Seemed harmless enough at the time.

Jake headed out to play ball.

I read a little about the coming battle...

...then turned my attention to the Yankees game.

Hope they can get the whole game in...

...before the fire and fury starts.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The big D

There was a moment at the North Collins Class Reunion.

An older woman came up to me and said:

"When is the next book coming out?"

I kinda' shrugged.

"Pretty soon. It's done, but been a little lazy about getting it through the process."

"Well, let me tell you, I loved, loved, loved Dogs On Main Street. You made me laugh and even cry. Loved it! So, hurry up! I'd like to read your next one before I die."

How's that for pressure?

I went through things...I had a grand idea of putting two books out at once.

Well, instead of doing double the work to get the art work and layout and editing done...

...I decided to go one at a time!

And The big D was the decision.

So, here we go!

The other thing about making such a decision on August 7th...

...7 years since Dad left.

Hard to get into a good mood on such a day, but the book was on my mind because in a lot of ways it was my answer to some of the things that were hammering at me about death.

I have been chasing that argument around for the better part of 30 years.

So!

Why not August 7th for the announcement?

I don't have the hard date for you yet...

...but shortly!

I will let you know for sure!



Monday, August 7, 2017

Colin Can't Find A Job

Colin Kaepernick appears to be being blackballed by the NFL.

We all know why.

He had the audacity to kneel during the national anthem in a form of protest.

I don't feel like debating that issue, thought he was short-sighted for doing it, but I respect that he had the right to use his voice.

Ray Lewis was the face of the league for years. He took a plea in a double murder. He paid off the victim's families.

He spoke out against Kaepernick.

Michael Vick murdered dogs.

He thinks Colin should be out of the league because he is wrong.

Michael Vick shouldn't be the voice of reason.

There are hundreds of examples of men who abused women.

Most of them are still employed in the league.

Drugs?

Dear Lord, there's a convicted felon on almost every team!!

And the league is silent.

Kaepernick very well may be being blackballed. He was a rising star. Almost won the Super Bowl the very year that Ray Lewis retired and was being hailed as a warrior.

I'm not a fan of the league.

They're killing their players and they know it.

The game has slipped...

...most of their games are unwatchable.

They're silent on Karpernick's unemployment as much as they were silent during his stance.

He was drawing attention to the game.

They like any attention...

...no matter who gets hurt.

And here's the rub.

People are more upset with Kaepernick than any of the murderers, rapists of wife-beaters.

His protest was the worst sin of all, in the minds of many.

The fans don't want him on their team.

Case closed.

And that's absolutely ridiculous.

Kaepernick isn't the greatest player...

...if he was, someone would sign him.

Rather, he's a marginal talent who might cause a frenzy...

...much like Tim Tebow, I guess.

So.

Felons, double-murderers, drug addicts, wife-beaters, and damaged brains five ears after your done playing is fine.

Social activists...are not!

Got it.

Extend the Netting!!

During the Wednesday afternoon Yankees game, Todd Frazier ripped a line drive into the crowd above the third base dugout. The ball, which ...