Tuesday, January 31, 2017

We Know Nothing

There's a great debate as to what is real news or fake news.

The media is under attack, some say, rightfully slow.

Information is everywhere.

The conservative writers pen hate stories about Obama and Clinton.

Liberal "reporters" find any tidbit of nastiness that is spewing forth from every orifice.

And I'm the middle of it all, I watched the movie, Snowden.

And there was a moment, in the middle of it all when it occurred to me...

...we know nothing!

Everyone is watching.

We are tapping other people's phones and computers.

Other countries are tapping ours.

We're one nasty tweet away from all of this being blown sky high.

Even the information we got on Snowden was skewered, depending on who or what we wanted to believe.

Yet that hasn't stopped anyone...anywhere in this great land...from coming up with their own narrative  on what should or shouldn't be done.

I don't think we should turn away refugees based upon what I was taught through the eyes of a bunch of Christian nuns, and a loving family that spoke of all being created equally. So I am drawn to stories that chronicle good people needing asylum to stay alive.

But others out there are reading different refugee stories that are fear-based and remind us that our nation's security is dependent upon making sure that everyone stays out because if one M&M is poison would you eat any of them in the bowl?

Who's right?

Who's wrong?

Guess we are all free to fight it out, based on the limited, slanted information that we are digesting.

In the end, even Snowden had no idea what was happening even though he was entangled in the center of it all.

There are so many lies being told, so much money is changing hands.

Lives are lost.

Dreams are cast aside.

We've become scared, paranoid, untrusting, vengeful and disheartened.

In the middle of not knowing a damn thing...

...about anything.

Whatever gets us through the day, right?

Monday, January 30, 2017

In the Moment

Someone had a photo of the Golden Gate Bridge on their Facebook feed.

The mind is a beautiful thing because I instantly thought, and brought up images, of the hundreds of times I saw the view from that bridge.

Conversations with Mom and Dad and my brothers and sisters.

There was a particular Sunday morning that came to mind. I was with Dad. We were working overtime. We would be paid double time for our trouble.

"Uh-oh. You have any money on you?" Dad asked.

"Nope. I have my paycheck, but I never cashed it. It's for $1,200 and we've been working so much I never cashed it."

Dad showed me his own check. It wasn't cashed either. It was for over three thousand dollars!

"Doesn't do us any good if we run out of gas."

We drove.

Made it over the bridge.

(In all the time I lived there I never tired of the view from that bridge).

We headed into the heart of the city and that big old Ford Galaxy started to gulp.

"Shit!"

Dad steered the car to the side of the road.

"How about a dime? You have a dime on you."

(Was only a dime to make a call).

I didn't.

We stayed there for awhile. I think we even looked under the seats for change. It was before 7 a.m.

Dad pointed at an Asian man pushing a cart on the side of the road.

"Go ask him if he has a dime."

"No!" I yelled.

So Dad did it.

I saw him talking to the guy. Then they both started laughing. Then Dad came back to the car holding the dime up for me to see.

I went to the pay phone and called Ralph at the job trailer.

Ralph brought a gallon of gas to us. He also brought a ten-dollar bill which Dad took across the street and handed to the Asian guy.

The guy didn't want it.

Dad made him take it.

For years and years we laughed about that trip.

We had five grand between us and not a dime to make a phone call!

I stared at that photo for quite awhile.

Thought about there being time for one more trip across the bridge...

...but it's okay.

It really is.

Because they were great trips the first time.

And they're still with me.

Best of all...

...I appreciated those trips while we were making them.


Sunday, January 29, 2017

We're Living It

Those who don't pay attention to history will be forced to repeat it.

I always enjoyed History class. I wanted to know what happened when I wasn't here.

I'll never forget the day when my Mom caught me going through the old news clippings of the day JFK was gunned down. Mom saved about 5 different newspapers from that day, and I was about ten years old. I had them all splayed out and she found me sitting on the floor of the storage room in our basement, reading every word.

I thought I was in trouble for digging through the boxes!

"I saved them for all of you," Mom said.

So we'd know what it was to be alive that day.

From my youth I remember a lot of the stories of slavery, the great wars, Hitler, the holocaust.

All things told to me that I eventually read about.

I know exactly where I was when the Berlin Wall came down. I was listening to the Wall, by Pink Floyd, riding in the back of a pick-up truck. (J.C. Was there) I recall Reagan saying "Tear Down that Wall."

Historic.

That wall was a barrier to a free world for people who were a half a world away.

When I finally was of the frame of mind to read the news yesterday I considered the construction of a new wall that may be built along the border of an ally and trade partner.

Will there be great regret 20, 30, 40 years down the line?

Then I read about the travel ban of refugees.

9/11 was cited as a reason.

Zero of the countries involved in sending through the 9/11 terrorists are included on the list.

We've accepted 785,000 refugees since 9/11.

3 have been arrested for terrorist activities.

Are we on the wrong side of history?

We have had more than one nationwide protest this week!!!

I don't know.

We're living it, I guess.

I don't have to gather newspapers for my children.

Info is available at their fingertips...

...we are all very well-informed.

Too bad we didn't learn from history though...

...we seem to be repeating it.

And the one thing that has bothered me terribly over the course of this week is knowing that this level of passion, and this much rage can't be sustained.

There will be an implosion or many explosions.

We've watched 3rd world countries trapped in civil unrest erupt in violence.

Desperation explodes into pain.

We're not being led right now...

...people are actually being dragged along.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Book Update

My partner in crime, Chris Colantino, who nailed the cover art on "Dogs On Main Street" sent out a photo of me holding copies of two books.

"Everything I Know" has been done since about last May.

It was an idea that I toyed around with because as a kid the one thing I wanted to do was write a newspaper column. I had a lot of favorite columnists through my early years. One of them was Lewis Grizzard, a comedy writer from Atlanta, Georgia.

Grizzard, who died young, put a lot of his columns in book form. His writing made him larger than life to me, and my buddy Al DeCarlo, who read the books with me. When Grizzard died I had an idea that the men who wrote the words I liked to read were living lives that I knew nothing about.

As my writing life played out, I started writing this blog every day...and it got a little weird...some of the people featured in the blog...like my beautiful wife and my adoring children started making comments about how I was making things seem different than they really are.

(All writers exaggerate and make characters out of the people in their lives).

So...it gave me an idea...to form a character who has a column that provides inspiration to people...while writing words within the confines of a life that was breaking down.

"Everything I Know" features a very funny, wise old woman named Elaine who shines some light on the stupid bastard the narrator is becoming.

You'll love Elaine.

Yet a weird thing happened on the way to finishing up "Everything I Know."

I was on a lonely stretch of road in Iowa. It was the day that Prince died. I was struck by his death and I couldn't get enough of the coverage. He was a young man and a part of my youth!

Two radio announcers were chatting. One was a super fan who was near tears. The other was an old Midwestern guy who couldn't give two shits about Prince.

"What're you gonna' do?" He growled. "The Big D comes for us all."

Maybe it was the lonely stretch of road, or the endless corn fields, but I thought a lot about death, loneliness, and trying to figure it all out.

Over the next few months I carried a notebook with me (black) and I wrote a story longhand.

Someone buried in a corn field.

Karen Carpenter.

A Mom.

A Stepdad.

A sister he never knew.

And a lonely guy who was trying his best to find an answer a long ways away from where he usually lived.

The words came fast...fast...fast.

Fiction isn't easy...

...but it's fun when the characters take over.

They took over.

I had great fun!!

Now the tough stuff...

...the covers, the edit, the release date, worrying about what people will think...

...hoping everyone has as much fun as I did.

But there's one slight problem:

The next idea hit me before I finished the Big D...

...and I bought another black notebook.

Stay tuned!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Media Burnout

I'm lost.

Every morning I put on the television to watch as I eat a bowl of cereal and drink a cup of coffee.

If I put on ESPN I get a full dose of Floppy the Crybaby (LeBron) telling me that he's great. Then the top 10 plays of the night are 7' people dunking a ball.

We get it. They're big!

So, I flip to the news.

Trump has ruined it all.

There's not a news story that is safe to watch.

Either his spokeswoman is handing out "alternative facts" or the anchor is laying out the lies.

Yesterday I flipped on "Married With Children" instead.

Al Bundy definitely makes more sense to me.

Yet it's just not the television anymore.

It's Twitter, Facebook...hell, even this blog.

There's orange and gold all over everything these days!!

People are fighting like never before.

People who are for the governmental change are fighting with those who are vehemently against it.

There are side by side photos asking which group has more people in it.

Claims are being made about who cheated during the election and who didn't.

Executive orders flying around.

Celebrities standing up and vowing to organize even larger protests!

Rights being threatened!

Government ordered media blackouts.

It's too much!!!

The fight can not be sustained at this level.

We just won't survive.

Not 4 years.

Now, I'm thinking it will all settle down eventually.

Perhaps there will be compromises made.

Maybe we will all come to our senses.

God. I hope so.

I can't take another morning of LeBron telling me he's the greatest player ever.

Al Bundy is gonna' get a lot of play.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Mary Tyler Moore

Who didn't love Laura Petrie?

Or Mary Tyler Moore?

I grew up in the 1970's. It seemed like Mary Tyler Moore was always on our television.

Those were the days, right?

When all of America watched all the same shows and talked about them endlessly.

TV Land has allowed us to rewatch some of those shows again and about a year or so ago I caught a Dick Van Dyke rerun and I remember thinking:

"Man, Mary Tyler Moore was beautiful."

She could only wear pants in one scene on that show...

...viewers were outraged to see a woman in pants!

And there were never any shots of men and women in bed during those episodes. At best, there were references that seemed a little risky.

On the Mary Tyler Moore show there was actually outrage that Mary Richards was on birth control.

When you think of it now it all seems odd.

My God! She said she was on birth control!!

She was a single woman, working alone??

Demanding equal pay?

Not depending on a man for her happiness??

Blasphemy!!!

And yet, it is almost fitting that Mary Tyler Moore died this week...

...just days after women all over the country gathered to march in their cities to not be treated as second class citizens.

Some of the things that MTM stood up to protest in the context of her show...

...are being discussed again.

I saw a woman holding a sign at one of the gatherings that said:

"I can't believe I still have to f$&king protest this shit."

I wanted to laugh, but none of it is funny.

There were others saying:

"Get back in the kitchen and make me a sandwich."

Seriously?

I kept thinking of all of it after hearing that Mary Tyler Moore died.

I wonder if she knew all that was being said during the campaign for president.

I could almost imagine her standing up to protest the unfair aspects of it all.

A whole bunch of women grew up wanting to be like Laura and Mary.

A lot of men admired her spunk.

Women stood up this past week and shouted back...

...in the name of Mary Tyler Moore...

...I hope they continue.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Leave the Kids Alone

An SNL Writer was suspended for sending a tweet about Barron Trump...

...the 10-year old.

Come on, now.

That's kinda' like picking on a handicapped person.

It should get you punished!

Years ago, Rush Limbaugh called Chelsea Clinton the family dog.

Normally when you're making fun of someone and putting them down you're doing it to make yourself feel better.

I have some good buddies and we make fun of each other all the time. We all know the deal...it's not to cause pain...it's to bring laughs.

That's the problem with the tweets that bring children to the nastiness of the adults...

...it's NEVER funny!

Barron Trump is 10!

What would make you think about bringing him into the conversation and especially saying that he would one day go on a murderous rampage?

The kid hasn't done anything wrong. He doesn't know anything about the aggravation that his father has brought to defenseless people.

Children don't want to hear nasty things about their family.

Parents don't want to hear strangers bash their children.

It's a losing proposition.

Now I'm sure that Barron will be okay. Perhaps when he is an adult he'll even be thick-skinned enough to laugh when someone makes fun of him...

...after all, his Dad seems to be a good sport, right.

SNL certainly has a job to do.

Make us laugh by poking fun at The Orange Mound in the big chair, Kellyanne Conjob, Spicer the truth-teller, the alternative facts, Pence, Ryan, Rubio.

There are million of targets.

But kids are off-limits.

Period.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Patriots Are Back in the Big Game!

Damn!

I almost had it picked exactly right.

Back in September, I said Pats over Packers in the Super Bowl and then the Pats don't show up for the trophy presentation.

It may be Pats over Falcons instead.

Not guaranteed, mind you as Atlanta is good...

...but man...

Think about the NFL Playoffs.

They absolutely sucked!

There was exactly one good game.

One!

The Packers-Cowboys game was good.

The rest?

Sucked!

If the Super Bowl somehow turns into a blowout... (Has that ever happened before?)...and then Roger has to stand up there with Kraft, Belichick and Brady.

That would be classic.

Following the win on Sunday, Hoodie was presented with the AFC Championship trophy.

Did you ever see someone pick up the rest of the garbage bag after the bottom falls out?

That's what he looked like he was holding.

He actually cringed and held it by the top, and then turned in a half circle and looked for someone to hand it to.

Classic!

Of course I hate the Red Sux...and it's difficult for me to root for a Boston team, but when you love villains...

...how can you not?

Goodell is going to have to make a speech talking about how hard the Patriots have worked, and what a great organization it is and how Brady is the greatest...

...and Belichick is going to grimace, groan, perhaps spit on the floor, wipe his mouth with his hoodie sleeve.

Please God...

...I don't even like watching football anymore...

Make this happen!

(I could use two squares hitting as well).

Monday, January 23, 2017

He Walked On the Moon

Eugene Cernan died yesterday morning.

He lived a long 82-year life, walking on the moon's surface, at one point, and actually scratching his daughter's initials up there.

The stuff of legends.

As I watched the Sunday morning news recap of his life I saw all the old photos of Cernon in his gear. The equipment actually looked primitive compared to how we would probably outfit him now for such a trip.

I think I saw duct tape holding his hearing protection in place.

Yet it was the legacy stuff that I was thinking about.

He's in the history books now.

Walking on the moon didn't buy him any additional time, but he certainly left his mark, and that's what we all strive for, right?

There are moments when the opposite side of it is true. We will see a news report of a man who pisses their life away.

We get one shot!

Cernan took a chance, worked hard, and left his daughter's initials on the moon!

Think of that.

And I'm sure that no one has any idea who he is!

But the Kardashians?

We know them!

Later in life, Cernan tried his best to make sure that congress knew of all that was accomplished back then.

We have a dark picture of  this country being painted right now.

"American Carnage."

That's what we heard the other day.

Yet, day in and day out I'm reminded that there are great Americans who will reach for the sky and beyond.

Cernan passed on.

To the next adventure.

He did good.

We all should just try to move forward.

And leave the carnage behind.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Women March

I'd really like to be writing about something else.

But there is epic unrest this weekend.

Can't put my finger on why exactly.

On Saturday a couple hundred thousand women descended on Washington to protest.

Signs were carried.

Voices were raised.

In America the right to assemble and protest is a right and a privilege.

The violence associated with the protest on the day of the inauguration is not a right. It's really bad form, and shouldn't be a part of any of it.

"Violence doesn't solve anything," Mom always said.

It most certainly takes away from the message.

Yet, women SHOULD be marching against the new administration. The things that were said during the election were more than polarizing...

...they were downright nasty.

And yet, there are women in celebration in some areas. I see it on social media.

I don't really understand it.

There has to be some unease, doesn't there?

Planned Parenthood is in real danger.

The abortion laws will be reevaluated.

In other words, decisions that women are quite capable of making will be made for them in some respect...

...and that must be off-putting.

I'm trying to look at it from all angles. I do know that the fight for rights has been ongoing and hard fought.

Considering that we may be backtracking to a time when women were told to shut up and let the men do the thinking...

...that's why they're marching.

Not to mention the whole "Grab 'em by the p$&$y thing" may have been horribly received.

There is an old magazine clip that goes around on social media from time-to-time. It's an instruction manual for women to make their man happy. It goes something like this:

1). Greet him at the door with a drink and his slippers.

2). Make sure you look good as he has had a long day and is tired.

3). Make sure that the house is clean and that his dinner is almost ready, but give him time to relax. Let him tell you what time he'd like to eat.

4). Don't bother him with trivial stuff. Let him talk when he wants to talk.

5). Rub his feet.

The funny thing is that I always show it to Kathy...

...and she laughs.

Yet that was the real way of life back about 60 years ago.

A woman knew her place!

Back when America was great????

The march is all about the modern woman saying:

"Shove it up your ass!"

Another interesting aspect of all of this.

I wonder if I can get a quick foot rub.

Probably not!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Let's See What Happens

My son sent me a text early this week:

"Black people are going to suffer, right?" He asked.

I sensed that it was an important conversation and we went back and forth for quite some time, talking about what he'd seen over the last year. Essentially, I mentioned:

"I'm hoping that it won't be a time in our history that we regret."

Yet, it was a surprising question coming from my son, who has lived his life not afraid of any particular group of people.

"A lot of what happened was a product of fear and rage," I told him. "People are often afraid of the unknown, and are enraged by the troubles they've faced along the way. Fear and rage got us here. It won't benefit us to stay stuck there. We have to see what happens now."

Not particularly reassuring, but it is difficult to grasp what the next four years will bring. The plan, as presented thus far, is not concise, or even particularly well-presented.

Will millions of well-paying jobs return to make America great again?

I suppose that it's possible, but I can't see how if every potential employer is looking for the cheapest source of labor. Wages have been stagnant for years. Will the threat of being abused on Twitter shame employers into paying workers a living wage?

Will a wall get built along the southern border to keep out the 'rapists, criminals, and some good people, I suppose?'

I don't believe there will ever be a wall.

Yet will a new immigration policy be presented that puts America first?

We shall see.

Yet, there is a dark cloud rising from the desert floor:

Will the first year of the new presidency be wrought with a criminal investigation, followed by a sexual assault trial, followed by a arrest for tax fraud?

That's possible.

It truly is.

I sincerely hope that it doesn't come to that.

Will improved relations with Russia provide a buffer in the fight with ISIS, or will the odd relationship between Trump and Putin result in something truly devastating to our country?

That's a very serious question.

Listen, things have a way of balancing out. Eight years of a liberal agenda which resulted in an all-out-attack on conservative principles...

...resulted in what happened yesterday.

The GOP now is on the clock.

Will they govern with their eyes on the future, or will the rights that seemed to be granted be stripped away, taking us into the past?

There are changes coming.

Who those changes hammer is up for debate.

I'm really hoping that my kid isn't afraid as it all plays out. Being a parent is all about providing security.

I just don't know what to tell any of my kids anymore.

"We'll see."

That's as good as I can do.

I'm not quite sure that even the most optimistic of supporters truly knows what might happen.

The rule book is out the window.

We are flying blind here.

Can it work?

Will we win so much that we tire of winning?

Will black people be screwed, or will their rights be preserved?

I don't know, kid.

I just don't, but we shall see.

Together, or unbelievably divided.

We shall see.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Daddy's Home!

Thank God!

On a clear day in Des Moines I was seated on an airplane in a small seat, but lo and behold, the seat next to me was empty!

And would remain empty!!

I opened the book I was reading, stretched my legs out into the area below the seat next to me, put on my headphones and was greeted with Sway off Exile on Main Street by the Stones.

Six short hours and I would be home.

And then...and then...and then...

We weren't taking off.

The flight attendant grabbed the mic.

"Somehow we have a dent on the plane! We don;t know how that happened, but what needs to happen now is that maintenance has to come by and check it out and then we have some paperwork with the FAA to do. We're hoping it only takes 15 minutes or so."

Twenty minutes later he grabbed the mic again.

He was apologizing over and over.

"We need another 15-20 minutes. We're sorry for the inconvenience."

Sorry?

I checked my paperwork.

I was going to miss my connecting flight.

The flight attendant stopped by to personally apologize.

I never looked up at him.

He's sorry????

But a funny thing happened on the way to absolute depression.

I got off the plane in whatever the hell city I was in and rushed through the airport just as woman at the desk was telling me that Group 3 could board the plane to Buffalo!

"I've never been so happy to be in Buffalo," I told Sam.

But you know who was happier?

Yeah, Melky and the Pair.

My doggies were going wild!

I unpacked and threw the suitcase far away from me...

...then got into my own bed.

Buffalo!

I'm home!!




Thursday, January 19, 2017

Travels With Kathy

With apologies to Steinbeck...

...who did "Travels with Charley."

Which was about moving around with his dog.

We started the trip by my asking her which nickname she'd like for our travels. She went with Kathy Khaos, with a K.

So, off we went.

We rented a car that had a backup screen. Kathy liked that as I drove.

"Slow down!"

"That guy is merging!"

"Oh-oh-oh!!"

I finally let her drive just so the person in the passenger seat would sit quietly.

She was backing out of a parking spot.

We heard a sound.

"What's that?" She asked.

I was pointing at the screen.

"Oh, I forgot about that! Why is there a pole there?"

"It's the pole's fault," I said.

The frustration of traveling with someone else is that "he who travels fastest, travels alone", but we were on a semi-vacation. I'd try and relax.

"Can we be ready by 1:00?" I'd ask...

...at least 4 hours early.

"I'm ready!" She'd announce, excitedly, at 1:15. "That's good, right?"

"Yeah," I answered. "I've only wanted to gnaw my arm off for 15 minutes."

Yet, it's me as well.

"We aren't trying to ruin your life by living ours in a somewhat slower fashion," she explained. "We actually don't give ANY thought to what might be irritating you at any given moment."

I laughed.

That's probably true.

We sat down at a diner for breakfast.

"Let me guess," I said. "Eggs, scrambled dry. Bacon, crisp. Rye toast."

She then knew my exact order.

It's been a long while.

"Are you going to miss me?" I asked as our plane landed in Buffalo and we realized that we'd be apart for long stretches the next day.

"Not at all," she said. "I've had enough."

Which is good too.

"You're free to go back to your insane world of deadlines set in your own head, and I can relax a little."

"Ahh," I said. "Well, I'll miss you!"

"Get away from me," she said, with a laugh.

Twenty-some years.

Traveling together through all kinds of crap.

We usually get there together...

...give or take 15 minutes.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

What the Hell Time Is It?

Okay, I've been in Arizona, Nevada, Missouri, Illinois, North Carolina, Kansas, New York and Iowa.

In 8 days!!

The problem being I was in the Western Time Zone for 2 days, Central for 2, Mountain? for 2.5 and Eastern  for 1.5.

I've been eating whenever. Catching naps like a 90-year-old man and trying to figure out what the hell time it is at home.

Television shows?

Forget it!

Part of the problem is that sometimes my phone switches the time to reflect where I am. I sort of expected that...

...but I got burned by ESPN app deciding that I was also in the zone I was in.

I turned on the Atlanta-Seattle game two hours before it started.

Different beds, different pillows...

...damn I screwed up!

I make my own schedule!!!

I just never actually considered all the damn time changes!

The other night...not sure which state...I went to sleep at my normal time...I thought.

I woke at my normal time.

Got up and moved around a little and said:

"Damn! I'm tired!"

Then I did the math and figured out that I went to bed at the time it was where I was and woke up when I figured it was 6:30 in Blasdell.

We often talk about sports teams going from East to West.

They always get their asses kicked.

Now I know why.

I spent a couple days in Vegas...

...sleepwalking!

Ah well...long stretch at home coming up.

I'll be in bed.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Retirement Home?

We missed the turn to our hotel and did a little spin around the block in Scottsdale.

The houses were tiny...and looked worn.

"That's all we need," I said pointing to one that is smaller than our garage.

Kathy knew exactly what I was talking about.

January 14 and we were both in shorts and a tee-shirt.

Getting out of Dodge when the snow is flying is a real goal in the coming years.

"I don't want to be 70 years old, flopping around in my driveway because I slipped on the ice with my bad hips, legs, back...whatever!"

"That one is cute," Kathy pointed to an even smaller place.

"We'll be forced to live in close quarters," I warned.

"Yeah. Maybe something a little bigger."

We were both afraid to look around at any prices for housing in such an area.

I'm sure it isn't cheap.

We even mentioned our retirement plans to some of the people that we met around here.

"Ahh, the old, retired people who jam up our roads and stores."

Like it or not...

...we're getting there!

Better to be old and annoying in a warm place, I'm thinking.

"I'm in," Kathy said.

Time to check the prices.

It'll be here before we know it.


Monday, January 16, 2017

MLK Day

John Lewis, who marched, and was beaten in a fight for civil rights...

...a lifetime ago...

...was in the news over the weekend because he was in a Twitter fight with the incoming president who stated that Lewis is "all talk, no action."

It sounds like a miscalculation to many of us who are not truly emotionally challenged.

The fight for rights...basic, human rights...was real.

It's still real!

Lewis was arrested 45 times and stood shoulder-to-shoulder battling with those who did not want him to eat in white-only restaurants, or drink at a water fountain that might be contaminated if a black man put his lips on it.

"Do nothing."

Lewis has also served in our government for years...continuing the fight.

MLK Day seems even more important this year.

The civil unrest is a tangible thing.

There are some who believe that "Making America Great Again," is all about stripping people back in their place.

Like gays, or blacks, or Mexicans, or refugees.

No one ever admits to being a racist...

...but racism is alive and well.

MLK Day is a day when we certainly think about some of the men, like John Lewis, who stood up and shook his fist at injustice.

We need some of the same type of people to stand up now.

Because no one wins...

...when we start picking and choosing who has the right...

...to be human.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

My Boys

We don't leave home very often.

I have to travel a bit for work, but usually it's just a couple of nights and back home. Kathy is never gone for too long.

So, on a "vacation" where I mixed in a little work, we are away from the boys for 5 straight days.

"I miss them," Kathy said.

Of course!

We face-timed Sam for a couple of minutes, but he wasn't much interested. Yet, there are texts going around.

Jake texted me about a couple of NBA guys. We went back and forth about life. Sam is the guy who is keeping the house under control...and taking care of the dogs.

Then this:

"We had pizza and the box isn't in the fridge."

A pizza box in the refrigerator is a big no-no when I'm home.

"It is in the fridge," Kathy said. "They confessed."

So far we know that their big rebellion is keeping the box in the refrigerator where energy is wasted to get the box cold is happening!!

If that's all that happens...I'm good!

I'm sure that Quinn is also spending time on my couch.

I can picture it:

Video games on the big television.

Basketball game after basketball game being watched one after another.

Pizza, chicken fries...

A lot of laughing.

We have good boys.

Of course we miss them, but it's good for alll of us.

And I know Sam pretty well...

...he'll make sure that the pizza is on a plate before I walk back through the door.

Poor kid.

He feels guilty about it already!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The B Street Band

So, Trumplethinskin is actually going to have music at his little hate bash next week.

Except it's a tribute band.

New Jersey's own B-Street Band. They play Springsteen music as a tribute to the Boss.

The fact that they are playing for The Inaguration is pretty galling to Springsteen fans and most certainly makes Bruce's blood boil. After all, the music has been about everything but the isolation and bitterness that may just be around the corner.

I've followed Springsteen since I was 11 years old.

I have always understood the message.

It's exactly 180 degrees different than the message that President Golden Shower is suggesting.

So the lead singer of the tribute band has been getting his ass handed to him.

But here's the rub.

The B-Street Band also played for Obama twice.

They aren't rich people.

They had signed a contract back in 2013.

Long before the Russian spy ran for the highest office.

They understand that Bruce is most likely not enamored that his music will be front and center on that crazy day.

Ah well.

At least no one will be watching.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Out In the Desert

Just doing my time.

Relaxing, a little, looking around with my beautiful wife, of course.

I've nicknamed her Kathy Khaos (with a K) for the trip.

We actually went backwards to get here...stopping at JFK...

I sat with out bags at the food court as she popped outside for some nicotine, and a older man plopped down next to me with a slice of pizza on a platter.

"Can't find my freaking wife," he said. "She got Chinese, I wanted pizza. Supposed to meet here. I ain't looking."

I laughed.

"How long you been in for?"

"46 years."

He pointed to the raised platform.

"She's up there."

He didn't get up to leave. He opened his pizza and we chatted about our lives. Ira has a couple of daughters, a son and a bunch of grandkids.

"Try not to waste days," he said. "It goes fast. There aren't any guarantees."

His wife stopped by as he shared his life with me.

"I'll meet you at the gate," she growled. "Since you're having yourself a little party."

Ira hardly looked up. I mentioned that he was in trouble and he smiled.

"We're good."

Out in Vegas I was slated to speak late in the day. Through the afternoon the people in attendance kept coming up to me to tell me how much they couldn't wait for me to make them laugh. The man who introduced me called me "a force of nature because he puts his heart into everything he does."

I made them laugh. I almost made them cry and then we all laughed some more.

Then we got into the car and crossed the desert, stopping in a trading post in Arizona, about 225 miles away from Tempe.

A young couple was in there with their 13-month old son.

The kid couldn't stop looking at me.

(Maybe it was the slice of warm pecan pie with vanilla ice cream that was drawing his attention).

He was smiling, and curious, and he just got his sea legs...was wobbling.

Cute.

What sort of world awaits him.

His Dad followed us into the dusty parking lot and pulled a unicycle out of the back of his vehicle.

He was a kid himself...maybe 20 or so.

"Wanna' try it?" He asked.

I laughed.

"You do it," Kathy said.

He did.

Spinning around in a huge circle.

I'd never seen someone on a unicycle.

We chatted a little while longer, and as we were leaving it seemed odd to me that these places exist long after we leave the area. That's twice now that I've eaten pecan pie at that place.

"See you next year," we said as we clanged the screen door.

Back in the car to finish the desert crawl.

Feeling like a lot less than a force of nature.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Meryl Streep

It was an amazing speech.

She earned the right to give it after a lifetime of being in the national spotlight.

Yet some are saying that she should simply keep her mouth shut as she is only an entertainer.

Kind of like a dancing monkey, I suppose.

Yet, how can Twitler be upset that an entertainer was spouting off about politics?

Isn't that how this entire political shitstorm started?

Trumplethinskin believed that Obama wasn't born in this country. He started his political career by demanding that the president release his birth certificate.

He was a reality show star then.

Certainly nowhere near as accomplished as Streep.

Perhaps she is gearing up to run against him in 2020.

Why not?

Qualifications are not required.

Hell, she can demand that secret service protect her in the Hollywood Hills.

But it's not really about that...

...it's about what she said.

Streep never once mentioned P-groper by name.

Instead she spoke of bad behavior, hurtful nasty things, the fact that he mocked a reporter for being handicapped.

(And he certainly did...it's on tape...he even said "you should see this guy" before launching into his imitation).

Of course, the husband of the one-time illegal immigrant answered Streep.

By calling her a lousy actress, a bad person, a Hillary lover....

...blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

He's 10 days away from being sworn in as the President of the Freaking Country and he's flipping out because an actress spoke out against his rhetoric of hatred.

Get used to it.

It is never going to end.

The "elites" are against you.

In fact there are 70 million people...give or take 50 million...

Who hate you.

It's up to you to sway the good people of the world.

Even the 65 million, who you now hate, for not voting for you.

It's a big job.

Way bigger than you probably anticipated.

Maybe Putin can help.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Faline

"Faline entered the McGaughey residence on the morning of December 19, ate three cookies and then left to wander outside."

That quote is from a Washington Post article from January 7.

The article infuriated me.

You see, Faline is a mule deer who was befriended by the family on 6-acres of land in Kansas.

The deer was a unique animal who would knock on the door when it wanted human contact. Taryn McGaughey would feed the animal, hang scarves around the neck so hunters wouldn't shoot her, and even allowed the deer to lie on the living room floor with her as she watched television.

The deer also left the residence for days on end...disappearing into the woods...to live the life of a deer.

Faline wasn't confined.

The neighbors knew all about the unique relationship.

One of them called the wildlife commission and reported it.

What happened next makes me ill.

The wild life enforcement agents converged on the residence, and found Faline on the property.

With Taryn screaming and crying in her yard, the agents followed Faline into the woods, and gunshots rang out.

Faline will no longer step inside for cookies.

The wild life agent explained that it was unlawful to confine such an animal under the threat of disease, and potential problems that might result in wild life interfering with domestic life.

Son-of-a-bitch!

They had to shoot the deer in front of the family?

It's that cut and dry?

I just think there has to be some wiggle room here, right?

Couldn't they have taken Faline to a sanctuary?

Yeah.

Yeah.

Just a dumb animal.

Yeah.

Yeah.

Bleeding heart!

Can't help it.

I started my book, Desperation, with this quote:

"Every creation has a purpose."

Faline had a purpose for that family.

There wasn't any consideration given to that.

Faline's purpose was snuffed out...

...because of a stupid decision.

Ah hell.

I'm probably wrong, right?

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Sully

It's been snowing a lot.

It's ungodly cold.

We have food, enough bones for the dogs, and whatever else we need.

So, I grabbed two movies:

"Bad Moms" and "Sully."

We laughed a lot at "Bad Moms"...a little silly, but Mila Kunis (other than thinking of Meg from Family Guy every time she spoke) was good and stunningly beautiful.

 (She's no Kathy Fazzolari).

Funny.

"We watching "Sully"?," my beautiful wife asked.

 She had worked the 5 a.m. shift, so I had my doubts about her participation.

"Put it on."

I had remembered the story, of course, but it had happened early in '09...

...a year I can't even think about without extreme sadness...

So I forgot a lot of it.

First off, Tom Hanks is as great as everyone says he is. When they showed the real guy at the end, I dismissed him as not being the true Sully.

And I loved it because of how great it was presented...

...and because it was a man...

...doing his job!

He was uncomfortable with the accolades because he was just doing what he was talented enough to do.

And it was extreme talent that brought those people home that day.

"I'm just proud that we did our job," he says at one point.

We are desensitized to violence and death in our lives.

We count bodies...we forget lives.

150 people escaped death that day, doing nothing more than bracing for impact.

5 people did their job.

2 of them exceptionally landed that plane.

We knew the story...we didn't feel it.

"How was it?" Kathy asked as the credits rolled.

(Her snoring made me turn it up, at one point).

"It was great," I said.

"I knew the ending," she said.

"But it was really worth watching!"

Strangely, I felt a little choked up.

2009 taught me that even a single death can forever alter the rest of life.

Those people were able to continue...

...because Sully did what he was paid to do.

Exceptional!

Monday, January 9, 2017

It's Evil

The video of the group of evil kids torturing the special needs kid...

...is just evil.

Nothing more and nothing less.

It is not a condemnation of all black men and women just as Dylan Roof is not reflective of how white folks live their lives.

But that concept simply can't be grasped, I guess.

"This is on Obummer! He doesn't say anything if it's a white person being beat!"

Well, actually, he did.

He said the same thing as he did when asked about violence, no matter who was involved:

"We're better than this."

"This has to stop."

"Let's work together to stop the shootings."

Play the tape...

...he's anti-violence.

Anti-evil.

As we all are...

...right?

Right???

"Those kids need to be raped and beaten to death!!!" One man said on Facebook.

I actually know the guy who made that comment.

Violence is here to stay!

If we wanted to stop it...we'd stop reveling in it.

A day later...

...people were gunned down trying to retrieve their luggage by another evil man.

There was a mad race...

...not solely to condemn, but to see the race and religion of the attacker.

So the hate could be distributed properly.

"Why didn't someone punch him?" One genius wrote on Twitter.

Yeah.

Punch a guy shooting bullets.

In any regard...

...evil.

That's where the hate should go when someone flips out and hurts someone else.

Don't blame all the whites, or all the blacks, or the politician you don't like, or the Catholics, or the Muslims, or the alt-right, or the libtards, or gun-lovers or gun-haters.

Blame evil.

If we'd all fight that instead of one another...

...maybe there's a chance.

As I wrote that last sentence I smiled. Someone reading this might just hate me just for taking this stand..."bleeding heart pansy...trying to preach peace"...ah well...I'm not against anything or anyone, other than...

...those who are violently

EVIL.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Upside Down

So, the cars are home.

One is smashed up pretty good, but my beautiful wife wasn't hurt. She was shaken by the "one split-second" aspect of it all being so fragile.

There's no more lonely feeling than having someone smash into you in a vehicle.

I was supposed to be on a plane for Boston on Friday morning. We didn't have a working car and the airline was willing  to refund the cost of the ticket to my client.

Given what happened on Thursday...I didn't roll the dice.

Live to fight another day.

So, I walked back to the car.

There was a calm after the storm.

Less than 15 degrees.

It was almost beautiful. A light wind. Roads still packed with snow.

The church lot was still half-filled with abandoned vehicles.

Buried underneath mounds of snow.

I hadn't slept well.

I felt a little sick.

Three hours of snow coming down...however many inches an hour.

Lives turned upside down.

We came out all right.

I almost hugged my car when I saw it.

Headed home, picked up the dogs, and went to the corner store for the paper.

Through the storm.

Onto the next.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Sham

Maybe it is all about being a trusting, naive kid.

We all start there.

We believe what they tell us in the history books.

"This is how the government works."

And we eat it up, believing that it's all on the straight and narrow.

As we get a little older, we start hearing grumbling about how everyone in the governing body is out for themselves. We are skeptical because of what we heard about as kids.

"Surely there are people who have integrity and care about us, right?"

Then a little more time passes and the skepticism grows.

We see it creep into our daily lives.

The rich get richer.

The deck seems stacked.

But there are still honest people left, right?

This past election was all about exposing some of the corruption. We heard about the draining of the swamp.

Could our government work for the people again?

I saw something on the newsfeed today...

...two items actually:

George W. and his wife, Laura, agreed to attend the inauguration.

How and why did they swallow their pride?

They were outspoken in their opposition.

They were standing up for what they thought was right, and then they dumped all over their integrity.

But...

...it is THEIR party...

...okay.

But the next note was even more disconcerting.

Bill & Hil are going too!

Are you freaking kidding me?

It's a sham!!

Everyone is back in the fold.

The swamp is full.

The cabinet contains members who make more than 90% of the country combined...

...and they're all going to work together...

...to further the interests of the middle and lower classes.

That little kid who trusted?

He's long gone.

I'm REALLY doubtful.

And a little scared.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Unbelievable

I heard the reports...

...I knew that I had to make my way home yesterday afternoon.

So I saw it coming, but I had a 3:00 appointment so I was going to be cutting it close.

I didn't make it!

Not by a long shot.

Here's what is aggravating...

...I made it to within a mile of my house.

What is worse...

...I was stopped dead in my tracks just 50 yards from the church parking lot.

If I can just get into the lot...I can walk home.

God help me.

Nope.

Not listening.

I sat in the car for three and a half hours.

An EMT finally made his way to each car window.

"It's going to be about six hours before we clear this. We're trying to make arrangements to get you to the church parking lot."

Yes! 

The Church Parking Lot!!

But that didn't happen for another 45 minutes or so.

When it finally did, I jumped from the car, grabbed my gloves and hat and started off down the road.

So happy.

And I fell.

Just in the snow though.

Smaller steps.

Why do we live here? I was thinking.

I saw a man at the end of the lot.

"Thank God they got us here," I said.

"Two neighborhood guys donated their time and their plows to get the church lot open...and clear Abbott Road."

Western New York, Bitches!

We help each other!!

I walked about a hundred yards.

Didn't fall down.

Lake Avenue looked like a movie trailer that shows the end of the world.

A bus jack-knifed. A car in the ditch. Abandoned cars, Snow to my hip and blowing in my face.

I slipped again, but caught myself on the hood of a car.

The woman lowered her window.

A pretty girl.

"Do you think I can make it down Abbott Road?" She asked.

I laughed.

She didn't.

I told her about the church lot.

"I have to walk a mile in the other direction," she said.

"I'm a mile down there," I answered.

We chatted a minute longer and I felt a little better.

At the end of my road...I saw one of my neighbors.

He looked worried.

"My kid is stuck on a bus," he said. "If I go down Lake to Abbott can I get to him."

I broke the bad news.

Finally, I got to the end of my driveway.

Two feet of snow blocked my front door!!

There was grass this morning!

I entered the front door...

...frozen.

"How was your day?" Sam asked. "How's work go?"

We both laughed.

But, you know what?

I got off easy!

My beautiful wife was sideswiped by a guy who decided that a hit and run was in order.

She was lucky she wasn't crushed.

The car was.

"What a ^&*$%# Day!" She announced.

Unbelievable!














Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Liar Liar

There's a great temptation to make this space a politics free zone in 2017.

But how can that be possible?

There may be political stories to cover...

...but as luck might have it, most of them will have life's lessons attached.

Like the Wall Street Journal story about how they are going to handle Trumplethinskin's words.

When he lies they are going to classify it as something other than a lie.

Sounded to me like the "That depends on what the definition of 'is' is" defense."

The editor at WSJ said that what sounds like a lie might not actually be a lie and it all depended upon the interpretation of the person hearing the lie.

WTF?

Can you imagine?

Wife: Where were you? At the bar?

Man: I was at the office.

Wife: I drove by the bar. I saw you get out of the car and walk into the bar. I sat in the parking lot until you stumbled back out of the bar and got in your car, and you're telling me you were at the office?

Man: There you go again! You turn everything I say into a lie with your truths! There's something wrong with you!!

I know that a lot of rules are being re-written as a result of that gloomy day in November, but how far will we stretch what we know is true?

I hate liars.

More than anything else in the world, I hate when someone lies to me.

What I hate more than straight-up liars are people, who when caught in a lie...

...lie again and try and turn it around on you.

I guess I'm going to have to rethink things.

Believe half of what you hear and less of what you see.

Indeed.

Then when you catch someone in a lie...

...understand that it's actually your fault.

Got it!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Faker

So, everyone in America has seen the clip of Mariah Carey by now, right?

She was most likely paid a ton of cash to sing a few songs on New Year's Eve.

Evidently there were technical problems and her ear piece fell out.

So she did the only thing she could possibly do...

...refused to try and sing.

Just wasn't possible!

How the hell was a singer supposed to sing?

Mariah is a bit of a diva, right?

She has handlers who carry her up steps, or put her shoes on for her. What's really weird is that she can really sing, or she used to be able to.

She would hit notes that would hurt your ears.

She's sold over 220 million albums...

...and she can't sing a song live?

The lip-syncing garbage does go on.

Some of the singers are dancing and jumping and live singing doesn't play very well, but she was absolutely lost!

Was weird to see.

After the show she wrote an apology and posted it on twitter.

"Shit happens."

Of course, what does she have to lose.

She's a half-a-billionaire.

What does she care?

The funniest part of all of it was that it didn't actually appear that she knew the words.

"You can sing it," she said to the crowd.

Her high vocals played over the speakers.

Her dancers danced.

She just stood there.

Highly professional!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Don't Hit Send

There's a story going around Buffalo involving a member of the Buffalo School Board, Carl Paladino. 

Nationally some out there may have even heard the story. Paladino ran for governor a few years back and his campaign imploded...

...because of the wild things he did and said.

The latest problem came from an interview with the Buffalo paper Artvoice. Carl was asked what he would like to see happen in 2017.

His answer involved the death of Obama and a truly nonsensical statement about Michelle Obama running off with a gorilla and living happily ever after.

The comments look worse in print. The fact that the Obama's are African-American...

...well...

...not good!

Paladino explained (after saying a couple of times that he meant every word) that he sent the "jokes" which he only meant to share with friends, to the paper by "mistake."

He hasn't meant to hit forward.

He's a 'tell it like it is' guy...

...until trapped.

Then it was a computer error.

Listen, I'm a passionate guy. I'm often intense. Sometimes I get aggravated with site conditions, or failures to meet schedules. I even get agitated with people I love from time-to-time.

I learned something...

...after responding quickly once and getting into hot water.

Write your response in anger all you'd like...

...then don't hit send!

Wait on it.

Sleep on it.

Count to a million.

Then delete the stupidity...

...or rephrase it!

For the 2nd straight year one of my resolutions is to not get into any battles on social media.

No angry battles!

Bantering back and forth with decent people is okay.

I did read the comments on the Paladino story. I've actually worked with him a few times.

It's extremely unfortunate.

The comments were dumb.

There were people trying to defend what he said.

Indefensible!

Don't hit 'Send'!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

# Organized!!!

My beautiful wife is resolving to be more organized in 2017.

After 20-some years of pure chaos in some aspects...

...we're going to have more focus, as a family!

I'm not exactly sure what led to this resolution, but I have a few doubts that it'll work to my satisfaction.

You see, I'm actually the one who is too far the other way.

I  write everything down. I plan things to the minute, so much so that the dogs start moving around a few minutes before they're supposed to eat, or go out, or go to bed.

Everything at the same time. Every day.

Melky and Paris are used to the routine.

Kathy and the boys...

...aren't.

Not even close!

We discussed clutter in our common space.

"I feel less anxious when things are orderly," I explained.

"Really? I didn't notice," Kathy said. "But I'm going to try. I need a notebook to write things down."

I bought her a black notebook, found a photo of myself and taped it to the front of it.

"What's with the photo?" She asked.

"I want you to remember how much you love me as you're compiling your to-do-lists."

"You'll see! It's gonna' be # organized around here."

"I give the notebook about three weeks," I said, "before you lose it."

Yet I am interested in the 'get-organized' philosophy that seems to show up at the end of December and is out the window by February 1.

A lot of people fall into the same trap.

I cleaned out a couple of cupboards and sorted out a closet or two.

I felt instantly better after doing it, and dreamed about a world where it stayed organized.

Yet I've actually changed a little bit through the years. Believe it or not I let some things go. I know that no one in my immediate family believes that...

...but it does feel good to be organized.

"It's crazy that the dogs know what time it is," Kathy said.

"They're organized."

Wish us luck:

 #Organized!!!

Happy New Year!!!


Fun While It Lasted

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