Monday, July 31, 2017

Going For It

The 27-Time World Champion Greatest Franchise in the History of Organized American Sports is going for it!

100 games in and the trade deadline this afternoon and the Yankees have made two deals already with one more on the horizon.

If they get Sonny Gray they will have addressed the weaknesses that Pops and I identified just a couple of weeks ago.

So, it should be fun!

The kids are exciting.

Judge has been a monster all year, and Clint Frazier is fun to watch. He has a really quick swing...

...runs fast.

And that's what's exciting.

The old guys never went first to third.

They don't look tired.

On Sunday morning the Buffalo News published a story of the 1985 team that won 97 games and finished a game short of winning the AL East.

I was 20 and recall being gathered around a radio as the Yanks played the Jays.

They lost game 161 to be eliminated and my college buddies jumped all over me.

And that's what might happen if this young team falls short...

...but it's already been an amazing success.

Don't get me wrong:

I want #28 in October, but if it doesn't happen...

(Astros and Dodgers look strong)

...I'll be good!

The youngsters have arrived!

A couple of years early!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

White House Work

I'm thinking that I got a shot.

Reince is out.

Spicy is out.

Mooch is in.

And that's what gives me hope. I can swear like the Mooch!

But it gets more and more odd every day.

Donald is trying to get Sessions to quit so that he might be able to hire someone who could possibly be the stooge to try and fire Mueller to get that pesky witch hunt, that might put the entire family in prison, over with.

Which would certainly set the whole White House aflame.

And that's where I come in!

I was listening to Mooch talk to Chris Cuomo. He threw in so many Italian-American references that I was getting uncomfortable.

Then later he was quoted as saying that Steve Bannon (another guy who might be on the way out) wanted to try and bend himself into a position that would allow him to get to a particular appendage that should not be reached by ones own mouth.

All true stuff!

No fake news!!

And I never watched House of Cards, but I'm thinking that if, as a writer, I would've tried to get such a screenplay published...

...I would've been laughed at.

So, I'm thinking I could work there.

Donald prefers people who say flattering things about him so perhaps that might be a problem, but I could pretend.

And then I could hang out and trade filthy lines with Smooch!

Perhaps I could be the guy who tells all the people who condemn Donald's speeches to go to hell...

...like the Boy Scouts, the police department, the crippled people, the LGBTQ community.

Donald says it.

Smooch verifies it.

I wait for the outrage.

Then I make up profanity-laced statements on where anyone who doesn't like it can go.

Might be fun.

And I might get my chance.

People are getting fired every three hours or so.

We may all get a turn.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Too Many Damn People

I was seated in the waiting area at Logan Airport, reading baseball trade rumors on my phone, and listening to Mellencamp.

When I looked up, the entire waiting area, was filled with people.

Hundreds of 'em!

All looking around for a place to plug their phone.

"Excuse me, is anyone sitting there?" A woman asked me, pointing to the obviously unoccupied seat next to me.

"I don't see anyone, do you?" I asked.

I must have delivered it all right because she laughed...plopped down beside me.

A kid of about three, wearing a Spider-Man shirt started doing laps down the middle of the aisle. His mother ran along behind him as if the two of them were doing a performance.

No one looked amused.

And I like kids...I do...but not so much when they aren't mine and especially not when they're screaming and making me move my feet.

I knew I'd lose my seat I I got up, but I had to hit the rest room before the flight.

I was dragging my bag behind me...

...so the business dude on his phone, just talking out loud with his blue tooth in. He was gesturing wildly and actually walking in circles.

Thankfully I couldn't hear the annoying bastard, but I imagined him talking about "thinking outside the box" and "just bouncing this off of you."

I hugged the wall to get by him, but his huge oval took him into my path.

"Oops," he mouthed.

I blew by him.

Dope.

On the plane the guy beside me spread a meal out before him, and then ate noodles with his freaking hands, all the while playing Candy Crush on his I-pad.

The noodles stunk.

And it occurred to me that there are way too many freaking people.

I have to be in the mood for them, or they irritate the piss out of me.

"Excuse me," a lady tapped me on the shoulder as I waited to get off the plane.

"Your shoes are untied."

She whispered it to me, as if she were trying not to embarrass me.

I whispered back.

"I never learned how to tie them," I said.

She looked amazed, but it worked as she didn't have an answer.

"I fall down all the time," I joked.

I've never once stepped on my own shoelaces.

"Okay then," she finally answered.

"Get the hell away from me," I DIDN'T say.

But later I laughed.

Somewhere she's telling the story about the aging man who can't tie his shoes.

People are fun.

If you play with them a little.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Fighting Lawyers

Who's side are you on?

Cellino?

Or

Barnes?

Seems that the two lawyers who put that call 888-8888 jingle in your head forever are now heading for a court battle with each other.

I'm kind of enjoying it.

I'm not a grand fan of lawyers.

I get their whole deal, but it's a game to them and a lot of times people's lives are greatly affected by their word charades.

I've had more than a few encounters with lawyers because I have to, given that I work in a field where lawyers sometimes poke their noses in.

One simple afternoon, years ago, has become imbedded on my conscience. The lawyer was arguing a point that was an absolute stretch.

In fact, she knew it was out and out lie...

...but she clung to that flimsy lie...

...and told it over and over again until the judge slapped her down. As I was walking out of the hearing room I kept thinking:

"She KNEW it was a lie."

So, it's hard to respect everything about that profession...

...but the law, on the other hand, has always been infinitely interesting to me. I loved taking Criminal Law classes and trying to figure out who was right and who was wrong.

But, back to Cellino & Barnes.

Anyone growing up in Western New York can sing the jingle.

They have commercials on every three minutes.

They seem like decent guys.

They made a ton of money.

But deep down, their fight is bringing me a small degree of satisfaction...

...just 'cause they're lawyers.

Nobody really loves them.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Scouts

I definitely was a Cub Scout.

I recall going to the scout leaders house and trying to figure out how to tie knots.

I wasn't very good.

I remember the uniform and getting roundly harassed by any sibling that wasn't in a uniform at the time. John was with me through all of it and was in his own goofy uniform so it wasn't so bad, but Corinne was certainly taking pot shots and what dweebs we were.

And then we were graduated to weabols (I don't even know if that's spelled right).

That's where the journey ended...right after the soap box derby race.

I remember the motto:

Be Prepared.

Loyalty.

Love of God and Country.

Help others.

All good stuff!

I listened to the heat the organization has taken through the years...

...didn't think too much about it.

But The 45th President out the Scouts back in the news because he went out and gave an absolutely horrid speech in front of them.

It's cringe-worthy to any of us who have suffered to put on that uniform.

What drove me nuts was that those kids were wildly cheering:

USA! USA! USA!!

As he spoke about things that never made us great.

Bigly.

Sad.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Princess Di

Caught an HBO documentary on Princess Diana, as it has been (unbelievably) 20 years since her death.

What a shame that she died so young.

Every time I see her I think:

"What a beautiful woman."

And it's not just her physical beauty. She appeared to be very nurturing to her boys, and she was roundly cheered for fighting for the less fortunate.

She was a champion for the homeless. She actually went into the downtrodden neighborhoods and talked to the men and women who were suffering.

She walked the walk.

Yet, part of what touched me were the days of Diana as a very young girl.

A bit of a tomboy, always laughing.

Insecure, vulnerable.

Always smiling broadly.

What hit me about it was the feeing that she was absolutely cheated out of a life that she seemed to be thoroughly enjoying...

...even while speaking about AIDS, or land mines...

...and while dealing with her dopey husband and being shunned by those tight-asses.

She stood up tall.

Raised her boys.

Believed in her causes.

She only lived 36 years.

Was the most famous, beautiful woman in the world when she died.

But, if you get the chance, catch the documentary...

...she's still very much alive.

A beautiful woman.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

M. William Phelps- Dirty Mind

Back in early 2009 I went to the New England Book Festival Awards ceremony to pick up an award for "Nobody's Home."

It was my first award ceremony and I even wore a suit coat (sneakers though). I grabbed a beer and sat down to a guy who looked familiar to me.

M.William Phelps.

I recognized him from his photo on the back of his books. He writes true crime drama. I had read a number of his books.

We spent a few hours chatting. I asked him about what it's like to interview killers.

He told me that he was definitely affected by it.

Well, he has a new book out this week about his constant communications with serial killer Keith Jepperson.

How could a relationship with such a guy not creep into your real life.

Jepperson told Phelps about feeding a Whopper to one of his victims...

...after she was dead...

...then laughing because she wasn't enjoying it.

Phelps is a good dude.

I really enjoyed my evening with him and his lovely wife.

But he couldn't find back all the demons.

He'd be at his child's game and he'd be thinking about the killer...

...who once tied a victim to the bottom of his big rig as he drove across country.

When he got to where he was...

...her body had been disintegrated by the hot asphalt.

Stuff of nightmares.

William and I kept in contact for a little while...

...traded books.

I read his new one every year.

I can't wait to read this account about how it messed with his mind to talk to a killer for years and years.

Hang in there, William.

And keep writing!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Just Watching TV

There's a Mellencamp song "Real Life" where his narrator whines:

"I want to live the real life, don't wanna' sit around my house and watch tv."

I really limped into the weekend.

I grabbed a massage last Saturday and that usually straightens me out for the week ahead, but my back was bugging me and my legs were an eternal buzz, to the point of absolute despair, but it's summer and I work in construction.

Up every day by 5:30 a.m. Not done with everything until 12 hours had passed. Limping, buzzing, hurting, ice, heat, blah, blah, blah.

On Wednesday morning Kathy sent me a text:

"Any better?"

"Yeah. Climbing a straight ladder 20' really helped."

By Friday, I was really a mess.

"Better find some movies," I texted. "I'm not moving."

But there's an eternal struggle there too.

"Any series on Netflix?" I asked my Facebook buddies.

We received 50 recommendations.

Settled in on Ozark with Jason Bateman.

It's great!

"How are you today?" Kathy asked on Sunday morning.

"I'm a 4 of 10 today. Was a 1 of 10 yesterday. Just gotta get to 6 so I can go back to getting destroyed tomorrow."

Just humming the Mellencamp song.

Ah well, everyone out golfing, at parties, camping, weddings...

...and I'm watching tv.

At least it's good!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Week In Review

Spicy 🌶 out!!

How can we not be disappointed?

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

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

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

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

You think?

Not sure that will work.

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

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

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

Crazy talk!

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

They were videotaping it and making jokes.

Now they're gonna be arrested for their idiocy.

Amazing where we are regarding the disregard for human life.

I hope they go to prison for awhile.

And of course, OJ will soon be free.

I covered that extensively.

Free to catch the real killers!

That's the week.

Next week will most likely be worse.

Crazy times!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

What A Mess

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

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

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

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

He played the victim!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We couldn't get enough of him.

And then he left.

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

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

Still, he was the victim.

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

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

I was nauseated 🤢

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

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

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

'Cause he's O.J.

He loves himself, for sure.

And just ask him...

...he's a great guy!

(Other than those pesky murders).

Friday, July 21, 2017

John McCain

The news that John McCain has brain cancer saddens me.

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

Service to the country.

Should be without a but...

But...

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

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

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

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

A difficult guy to pin down.

Yet a hard guy to not admire.

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

These bodies of ours are made to break down.

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

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

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

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

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

"Cancer."

Millions hear that word...

...and think:

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

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

The diagnosis becomes:

"I AM going to die."

I've always really wanted to like John McCain.

I do admire him.

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Trade Deadline

The Yankees haven't been playing great.

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

Exciting stuff for baseball fans.

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

It's a balancing act.

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

Don't believe me?

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

I'll give you all the time you want!

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

Yet, this is about the deadline.

I live for the rumors and the movement.

The season is like a soap opera...

...one game leads to the next.

"Why not leave Betances in????"

 Someone will scream on social media.

Because of tomorrow!

There's always tomorrow!!

Day after day.

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

Cecil Fielder in '96.

David Justice in '00.

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

It's a chess game with millionaires.

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

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

"The Yankees got Frazier!" He called out.

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

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Most Popular

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

Makes you think of high school.

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

No one actually wants to be hated.

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

I wasn't voted most popular.

I garnered Most Talkative...

...which was pretty fitting.

But I wasn't UNPOPULAR!

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

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

But unlike most of the rest of us...

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

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

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

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

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

Trump is at 36% favorable.

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

...right after he got the boot.

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

Below 25% and he will most certainly freak out.

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

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

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

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

Totally pissed me off!!!

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

I swear...

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

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

Most Talkative comes with much less pressure!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Lawless

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

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

Horrible.

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

Think of hitting someone and then just leaving!

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

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

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

Doesn't seem that way, does it?

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

That didn't happen years ago.

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

Sold as entertainment.

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

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

But I'm right there most of the time.

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

Those poor kids ran into pure evil...

...lost their lives.

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

Snuffed out like a groundhog on a country road.

Just awful.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Free OJ

July 20 is the day.

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

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

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

He still played the Juice in prison.

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

Which is crazy!

Yet, Orenthal always had a way about him.

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

There were 41 comments.

40 of them were pro-OJ!!

He gutted two people!

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

Are you freaking kidding me!

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

I also loved him after he retired.

He was a decent comedic actor.

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

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

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

He probably will get paroled.

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

But root for him?

You oughta' be ashamed!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Everything Is Broken

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

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

As referenced here last week the Camp is in disrepair.

Then the basement gets flooded.

Floods are fun because of the stink.

Everyone is taking a turn running the shampooer.

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

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

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

Now it matches the air conditioner.

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

I went looking for it in the garage.

Came up empty.

"Where is our weed whacker?" I asked.

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

"Can we get it back?"

The next day I inquired.

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

"Do we have one I can use?"

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

I really feel like listening to the Dylan turn:

"Everything is Broken."

But I can't.

Anyone know how to find the fuse box?


Saturday, July 15, 2017

It's About the Food

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

Had a lot of laughs.

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

Everything is up front...

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

It seems we all had a single drink...

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

Now it's about the food!

And the wedding came up big!

Beef, chicken, pasta.

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

But I ate pretty good.

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

We were positioned next to the tower of cupcakes.

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

...but there are no drinks anymore!

I was definitely having a cupcake.

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

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

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

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

At 9:00, we started talking about leaving.

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

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

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

It was a great night.

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

Good luck to the happy couple!

(We didn't stay up all night).

(I was asleep by 10:30).

Friday, July 14, 2017

Flash Flood

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

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

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

I don't care if I get wet.

I had my hard hat on anyway.

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

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

"Damn!"

This wasn't your standard rainstorm!

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

Splash.

"Damn!"

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

More water was pouring in from under the door.

I started bailing the water.

Got the campers to move a little.

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

Traffic was backed up on I-90.

Severe Delays!

The message board taunted me.

"Damn!"

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

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

...all I had planned had changed.

Nothing you can do.

Wait out the storm.

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

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

Ah well.

Beats the hell out of snow.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Armed Forces

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

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

His son always wanted to be a soldier.

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

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

16 more kids...

...gone.

And I listen to the news.

No names.

Just a story...

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

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

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

We have to keep the war machine going.

The military budget is outrageous...

...but necessary...

...we are told.

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

Too much death.

Don't look behind the curtain.

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

Necessary Evil???

Damn.

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

May they all Rest In Peace.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Court Is In Session

Aaron Judge is unreal.

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

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

...wasn't enough.

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

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

...Uh-Oh...

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

Is stacked again!

Here's the thing:

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

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

He's gonna' be a superstar.

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

Because of Judge.

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

...sent me texts.

"He's a freak."

"Holy Cripes!"

"I still hate the Yankees!"

But all I could think was...

...pretty soon.

Really soon, actually.

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

All you Yankees haters, be honest...

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

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

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Every Damn Day

Russia, Russia, Russia.

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

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

Manafort was there too.

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

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

This is what is going to happen:

Everything will be found out.

Millions upon millions of dollars will have changed hands.

They'll all wind up guilty.

It's trending that way.

And here's the billion dollar question:

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

Putin is not a good guy.

He is not a better guy than Obama.

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

This is important.

You may hate Bill & Hillary.

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

...but Putin has one goal:

Destroy America.

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

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

It's about destroying our way of life.

He wants to pit us against each other.

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

Those are his goals.

He may have attacked the Dems this time.

It might be the GOP next time.

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

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

Know who else they had ties to?

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

Then remember that you're an actual American.

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

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

In the end it's Russia versus the USA.

Now what side are you on?


Monday, July 10, 2017

Shaking Hands

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

Body language experts were saying that Trump won the handshake.

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

Really?

I'm not big on shaking hands.

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

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

...creepy.

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

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

He just glared at her.

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

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

They laugh.

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

(When did that happen, by the way?)

Anywhoha...

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

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

"Nope," I answered.

Not enough Purell in the world.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Mattress On the Floor

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

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

The same thing happened on Saturday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I swore under my breath.

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

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

Face-timing and laughing.

Best buddies.

And I Thank God for that. I really do.

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

Five minutes later I was back in the room.

"Johnny, you gotta' go!"

He picked his head up.

Groggy.

Like he didn't know what hit him.

"How about I stay?" he asked.

"Can't do it."

Thankfully, I got him into the car.

Bruce was on.

The Promised Land.

"Blow away the dreams that break your heart."

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

Recalling those memories stung a little too.

The sun was coming up on another day.

We cut across the parking lot and down the steps.

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

So much like his Dad.

He got cheated way worse than me.

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

"I'm good," he texted me.

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

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

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

He didn't answer.

Just hugged me.

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

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

The sun was fully up.

My head hurt and I felt tears stinging my eyes.

I swore under my breath.

Got back in the car for the trip home.

Alone.

Swore again.

Bruce was there.

Mary's Place.

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

"Your love and grace surrounds me."

I thought about the mattress on the floor.

And

I smiled.

The love between Sam and Johnny is tremendous.

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

Because it's no fun to lose it.

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

"Your love and grace surrounds me."

Indeed.






Saturday, July 8, 2017

$200 Million Dollars

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

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

...$200 million.

Something like $40 million a year.

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

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

It's true, as well.

Yet, the money is there, right?

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

The place will be packed!

The owners will still make their money regardless.

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

It's nothing new.

Babe Ruth famously made a hundred grand.

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

"I had a better year," Ruth replied.

There are about 400 NBA Players.

They're freaks of nature.

They're also entertainers.

The money is ridiculous...

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

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

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

Watkins made $6 million last year.

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

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

So, they're gonna' get paid.

We're still watching.

Let's stop publicizing the salaries.

It doesn't do anyone any good.

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

Poor guy.

Friday, July 7, 2017

An Ambitious Camper!

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

When Johnny arrived last week he said:

"Want me to paint your garage?"

"Yes!" I answered.

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

...so I let it slide.

Or so I thought!

My own sons are very unlike me.

They're very casual. A bit leisurely.

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

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

"What's up?" I asked.

"Did you get the paint?"

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

"I'll get it," I said.

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

I swung by Home Depot.

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

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

I sat in a chair and scraped along with him.

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

"Really?"

"He painted the walls in the basement."

I hung with him for a little while and said:

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

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

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

"Work until dinner is ready," he said.

Damn!

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

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Nuclear Showdown

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

Pretty hopeful, huh?

Should go well.

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

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

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

"This might be a super bowl preview!"

"In this corner we have Donald.

Over here Kim Jong!"

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

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

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

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

Except the beach was closed...

...to everyone but his group.

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

Not a good look.

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

...that would've been a scandal.

How tone-deaf can you be?

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

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

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

So...

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

Yeah.

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

You know who'd lose a nuclear showdown?

Millions of us.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Should I Wait?

We were on the 17th hole.

Patience was wearing thin.

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

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

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

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

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

18 times I told him to grab his special tee.

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

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

"My phone doesn't work."

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

He snapped the photo.

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

I was seated in the cart...

...very physically worn.

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

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

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

Then I waited.

And waited.

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

Waited some more.

Finally looked up at him...

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

"Hit the ball!" I said, laughing.

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

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

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

Neither Sam or Johnny were good.

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

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

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

The more he missed the harder they laughed.

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

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

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

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

That about sums up our day.

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

4th of July

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

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

Like human rights.

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

A lot of those rights are being threatened.

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

Nobody wins unless everyone wins.

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

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

I'm sure you've seen the nonsense.

Every single day.

Fake, fraud, lying, crooked.

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

The delegitimization of the media is a plan.

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

Does the media have it out for one politician?

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

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

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

Millions of people are shrugging that off.

That's the 3rd scary thing.

The 4th thing...

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

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

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

Bad behavior is bad behavior.

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

We used to remember that we are all Americans.

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

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

...but I am still a proud American.

Always have been.

Things just seem a little shaky right now.

Enjoy the day.


Monday, July 3, 2017

WWE

Easy like Sunday morning.

I've always enjoyed the feel of Sunday.

Church, Yankees, pasta or

Church, Bills, pasta.

Family has always been prominently featured, of course.

Sunday...that's my fun day.

My I don't have to run day.

Nice, relaxed feel.

Except for lately.

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

...by the president.

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

Vile, nasty things, actually.

This Sunday a tweet about CNN made the rounds.

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

...it was sort of entertaining and funny.

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

I initially thought it was a parody account.

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

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

After I digested it further I thought:

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

That's no way to spend a Sunday morning.

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

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

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

...no social media on Sunday.

Church, Yankees, pasta!

Church, Yankees, pasta!!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

7th Annual Jeff Fazzolari Memorial Thunder Road

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back where we started!

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

The stuffed 🌶 peppers.

The laughs.

The unbelievable auction.

Baltimore representing!!

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

And Mom!!

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

...to bring the love.

So:

"Let's Go!"

Is absolutely right!!

The 🎉 party! The celebration!!

Hope to see you there!!

Sunday, August 13!

11 a.m.

Bring the love!!!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Knee High By the 4th of July

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

...we seem to be on target.

Yet everyone is camping!

We don't camp.

My beautiful wife's philosophy on it is:

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

I don't have an answer to that!

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

...that might be fun...

But it was about 45 degrees last night!

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

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

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

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

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

But it's  Independence Day!

Have some fun!

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

We're gonna' relax...

...and see what shakes out.

If anyone sees the ☀️

Send it to Western New York!

The campers need it!

And if the legs work...

...a lone golfer might.

Dilly Dilly

If the wintry blast of this weekend is any indication, I’m going to be watching a lot of television. I don’t want to drive on snowy roads ...