Thursday, May 31, 2007

"You Just Can't Make It Up"

This is a true story that falls into the " you just can't make this shit up" category!
Last fall my mother in law was in the hospital and my brother in law Fred's aunt was in a room across the hall. It was great for him since he could visit both of them.
One night Fred and Carol were there when we arrived to see Mom. Carol was laughing and told Fred to tell us about his aunt and started laughing again.
Apparently his aunt was quite demanding of the Nurses and was constantly ringing the nurse's station. Naturally this got old for the nurses who started to respond slowly. Fred's aunt did not appreciate the pace.
A Schenectady Police Officer had come to the nurse's station in response to a 911 call. Fred's Aunt Betty had called 911 for assistance since the nurse's were too slow!
No shit!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Fun Series #8- " and it's only about 1:30p.m."

{continuation of Fun Series #5,#6 and #8}

....... and then we hit the boat!"

The car in front of us was towing a boat on a trailer and was slowing down to turn on to the Northway as we slammed into it. The boat was smashed and the trailer tongue was bent but the car was fine. Just a couple of scratches.

The wife cried, the husband yelled, Kurt babbled and Nick and I laughed like hell. We hit a freak'n boat! The police came quickly.

Kurt told us that he would do all the talking. Great, we would surely go to jail now. Fortunately my Grand Parents, Aunt, Uncle and Cousins lived in Saratoga. My Uncle had been a Saratoga Police officer, so my brother started dropping names. Believe it or not, they actually told us to get in the car and follow them to the Police Station. MY BROTHER DROVE!

They had us park on the side street next to the Police station. A patrol car parked behind us. We each got out and they asked us to show them our drivers licenses. Four cops and my brother disappeared into the station. I was a cigarette smoker then and had 3 or 4 before two officers and Kurt returned.

The one officer told my brother to ride shotgun, put Nick in the back and threw me the keys. He said to get out of town and don't come back for awhile. He said that he knew my uncle and grand mother and for them he'd let us go.

I put in the clutch to start the car, my brother hadn't set the emergency brake, so I rolled backwards into the Police car breaking it's headlight. I got the car in gear and pulled away. I stopped and the cop just waved me on shaking his head.

We were on Rt. 50 heading south through Ballston Spa, when my brother had to piss. I stopped the car in front of a big house with really big bushes in front. Kurt went through the bushes and with in seconds we heard what sounded like old ladies talking, laughing and yelling. My brother was zipping up as he ran to the car.

Kurt came to the driver's side and told me to move. He looked better so I let him. As he pulled away Nick and I saw the nursing home sign and the old ladies sitting on the porch. Kurt had gone through the bushes and pissed right in front of the porch! We laughed till it hurt.

It was late afternoon when we finally pulled in to our neighborhood. My father was out front trimming the hedges. To show off, Kurt down shifted and gunned it to whip into the driveway. His reflexes were definitely impaired - he drove directly threw the hedge my father was trimming.

Dad stood there dumb founded. When he did get his voice we got,"Jump'in Jesus H. Christ Kurt! What the fuck you doin?"

Nick and I ran laughing.

This had to be some kind of record - vomitting under water, a fight, having a moving vehicular boat accident, hitting a police car, flashing old ladies and driving through a hedge and all in under eight hours!

Beat That!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Fun Series #7 - "College Inn"

{see Fun Series #6- this is a continuation}

It didn't take Nick and me long to realize my brother was too drunk to drive but there was little we could do about it. How we made it all the way to Saratoga Lake with out incident is amazing.

The College Inn was a large bar right on the lake. It was packed all summer long - at night. It was almost empty when we arrived. The bartender was busy getting ready for that night's action and barely looked at us when we ordered. Nick and I ordered draft beer and my brother decided to switch to scotch. This was not a good thing.

We had only been there about an hour when my brother got into it with the bartender. When you ordered scotch and water, rocks they used to give you some scotch over ice and a small pitcher of water to add yourself. My brother had gotten sick right on the bar and was in the process of pouring the pitcher of water over it to wash off the bar just as the bartender looked up.

He grabbed my brother's hand to stop him. He noticed that Kurt's hand was deformed. He had been burned badly and had many skin grafts and had lost a finger. He said the worst possible thing," Get the hell out of here you drunk'n cripple."

I grabbed my brother as he went over the bar. Nick helped me get him out near the car. Kurt was shaking his fist at the bartender yelling, " Who you calling cripple!. Come on out an try it out...."

Kurt got behind the wheel, Nick rode shotgun and I was in the jump seat. Kurt was talking to himself and was really wasted. We were trying to get him to pull over and let one of us drive and that's when we rear ended the boat............

To Be Continued.....................

Sunday, May 27, 2007

100 years of The Duke

The Duke was born 100 years ago on May 26, 1907. Last night Kathy and I watched "The Quiet Man" again. It still is a great movie! I find it strange that it's one of my favorites because when I think of him I picture him more as a cowboy or soldier.
He's one of the reasons that I always wanted to see the west and south west. Every boy knew who Trooper Thorton, Sgt. Striker, Ethan Edwards and Rooster Cogburn were. He always had the fastest gun, best friend, prettiest girl, ugliest enemy and always knew exactly what to do. And of course, was the bravest man alive who always did the right thing.
Enough said - he was GREAT!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Fun Series #6 - " Winey Bubbles "

This is actually the beginning of a 3 part series with in the Fun Series series.
We'll start with the morning segment.

Nick and I have never been formally arrested for any acts; we have come close a few times. This day was the closest. We were actually in custody - briefly.

It started on a beautiful summer morning in 1966. Kurt, my older brother by 5 years, Nick and I went swimming. The morning started innocently enough.

My brother had a Fiat Spyder convertible; a 2 seater sports car with a jump seat. We put a picnic basket and a cooler in the trunk and headed for Zwicklebauer's Hofbrau at Warner's Lake.

We set up a blanket on the beach and spent most of the early morning swimming and drinking beer and homemade wine.

I was 16, Nick 17 and Kurt 21. The drinking age was 18 but no one paid much attention. The two of us not being the practiced drinker that my brother was never ate anything. With sun and heat we got tipsy pretty fast.
The attraction of Warner's Lake is its crystal clarity. It's a small mountain glacial lake in the Heldeberg Mountains south east of Albany, New York. Nick was starting to turn a bright red and I started to feel really hot so we just sat neck deep in the lake goofing around.
I looked over and Nick was heading out in to deeper water. He looked really pale. He went under and didn't come up quickly so I went under just in time to see him barf under water! I don't know if it was my own buzz but it looked cool! All these purple bubbles popping under water and when they reached the surface they spread out like and oil slick.
This was definitely one of those, " you had to be there " things but we found it hilarious. It also got us out of the water. We ate something and made one of those brilliant "under the influence" decisions - let's go some where and drink some more and let's have the drunkest drive!
We decided on the College Inn on Saratoga Lake.
TO BE CONTINUED................................

Friday, May 25, 2007

With a Little Help From Your Friends...and Strangers?

19 months ago today, October 25, 2005, I received my diagnosis of Lou Gehrig's disease; Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

So many of my friends and family have supported me in so many ways.

My brother in law, Uncle Fred, has assumed all of my "guy" responsibilities. He's had to fix a flat on my wheelchair, pick up and move things, rebuilt my shower chair, baby sat me on our cruise and is "oncall" 24/7 for emergencies. He does remind us that He only works from 3 - 330 and he gets a 1/2 hour lunch.

My sister in law, Carol, is my medical sounding board, as well as cruise director. She also, along with Kathy's friend Jayne, gets my wife out of the house.

Our friend's Char and Nick keep my spirits high. Char flirts with me on the phone. At least that's the cover story! And Nick just keeps me laughing like he's done for over 46 years.{See Fun Series Blogs}.

The 4th floor boys keep me company and just baby sat me so my wife could attend our daughter's graduation. They really just fed me Sambucca.

My God Daughter has sponsored an ALS
Of course my wife and children have been fabulous!

The surprise has been the strangers - now friends - but when they entered my life they were strangers.

The ALS Regional Center through St. Peter's Hospital was my first "stranger" contact. From day one they have been a Godsend. They have monitored, improved and maintained my quality of life. Strangers, no more.

They have a thankless job. Working with a debilitating terminal disease daily. I've found that the best way to thank them is to get the word out there.

I did a segment on Channel 9 which led to a piece on and my wife and I participated in a one hour WMHT special on ALS. This year we're doing the Daly - Micheal's ALS Memorial Golf Tournament for the second time. I wish there was more to do!

In January my pulmonary numbers fell enough that Dr. Cooper recommended that I hook up with Hospice. Again strangers - again - no more.

My Hospice people are great! I have an aide, Kim, that comes every day. Poor woman has seen my old boney butt more than any one human being should have to. I can still do my bathroom duties on my own but I have trouble getting the drawers up! Send donation directly to her at....

Seriously, from the first time I had to ask for help it was just like the picture above - you extend your hand and there is a wealth of people to grab hold a take you on the ride.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Lady

In February of 2004 I went to Columbia University for writer's workshop. This was the week of the 2 foot snow storm. The city just about shut down but by Wednesday everything was starting to reopen.
A friend and I went to the Metropolitan Museum to see the Leonardo DaVinci sketch exhibit.
I couldn't get over the beauty and realism of his work.
There were a series of sketches of robes and parts of robes. You could see that he wanted to catch exactly how fabric moved or fell along the human body. The first one I looked at appeared as a piece of fabric from a distance and not a drawing. I swear it looked three dimensional.
Some of his anatomy sketches, especially his hands, were just unbelievable.
His war horses in armor were so life like you wanted to touch them.
It is so hard to believe this work is over 500 years old!
My favorites were the sketches of people. The one above is just called "The Lady". It is so life like. There is absolutely nothing in the picture that would identify her as a noblewoman but some how he shows you and there is no doubt that she is.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Fun Series #5 - "So, There!"

Gary Bailie was grounded for doing something stupid.
Nick and I decided to have a little fun with him and for ourselves.
I don't remember who actually had it but we had a couple of "ashcans". These were fireworks that later became "quarter sticks."They were maybe 5 or 6 times more powerful than a "cherry bomb."
We waited till just before dark and crawled on our hands and knees through his back yard. His bedroom was a gameroom in the basement.
We fixed the "ashcans" against a window, lit them and ran like hell!
We actually blew out the window!
The mistake we made was coming back too soon. Like all kids, we wanted to check out our handiwork.
We walked right up and asked for Gary about 10 minutes later. Mrs. Bailie went off on us. Something about us being bad influences and that we were no longer welcome here and she ended the tirade with a very indignant, "So, there!"
We were back in a week.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

"Mini Shu Tanka Awayalo"

I don't speak Lakota Sioux, so I had to spell it phonetically. "Mini shu tanka awayalo" means Dances with Wolves. Beyond a doubt, my favorite movie. When I first saw the movie the vast openness and the buffalo just grabbed my imagination and I just had to go west and see and feel it in person.
It was freak'n awesome!
South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana are pure heaven. My favorite is South Dakota and more specifically Custer State Park. The buffalo herd there is extraordinary.
I now understand why the Native Americans followed the buffalo trail.
Besides using the entire animal for subsistence, they had religious ties to it also.
These beasts are amazingly graceful for large animals and, for me at least, there is something mystical about them.
The herd in Yellowstone, Wyoming is beautiful too. Neither place should be missed if you travel west.
When you are there and experience it you can't help but wonder what it must have been like for the first Mountain Men and Lewis and Clarke's crew to see for the very first time!
"...give me a home where the buffalo roam and the deer and the antelope play..."

Saturday, May 19, 2007

When I Still Had an Ass

In 2004 we went on a cross country trip and the picture at the left is the only picture on the entire trip that my daughter took. Literally, my ass and a horse's ass!

My wife and I drove our motorhome to Santa Cruz, California to see our son and daughter in law and Kate flew out and met us. We spent 10 days there.

When we left we travelled through Yosemite to Mina ,Nevada and then on to 3 nights in Las Vegas. Grand Canyon was next. Onward to Bryce Canyon, Utah, where we rode 4-wheelers and Kate snapped the "asses" shot. Jeeping in Ouray, Colorado and then an August ice storm in Cripple Creek. We took this as a sign to head on home.

All that and all she has is a picture of my ass and a horse's ass! You think there's a message here?

No, not really but it does sum up my daughter's humor. Which I'd like to think I had something to do with. Our albums are full of pictures I've taken of her and her brother with things comimg out of their heads - the Washington Monument etc.

She's always had a knack of making me laugh. She's got the typical New Yorker sarcasm coupled with a great sense of humor. Since she was a toddler she would go into hysterical laughter whenever someone farted or burped. Unfortunately she perfected these bodily function noises.

Funny she is - lady like not so much.

Today my daughter is graduating from SUNY at Oswego, so naturally I'm thinking of her and I am so proud of her. Anyone can take a meaningless picture of the Grand Canyon or a Colorado sunset - it takes a great kid to make a father laugh while looking at his own ass while thinking of his daughter! When I look at the scenic pictures we've taken over the years, I think of the place. Forever, when I look at the picture above I'll think of Kate!

I Love You Kate!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Samson Diesel Bulldozer

When our last Lab, Penny, passed away we went out to find another. Penny had been a chocolate Lab so the Vet recommended that I get a yellow or black this time. She felt that otherwise my young daughter might have a problem with another chocolate one - the you're trying to replace Penny thing. Our son was 13 and our daughter was 8.

When I called about the new puppy, I told the breeder that I wanted a big male that looked calm. You see it coming already, don't you!

When we arrived, the breeder came out with a huge black lab puppy that looked half asleep.
6 or 7 more come walking out of the garage followed by a yellow blur. The blur hit my daughter mid -chest and started licking her face. I kept trying to get her to at least make eye contact with the black lump in my arms but no joy.

As I paid for him I kept looking over the breeder's shoulder watching my daughter chase this yellow blur running in circles and bouncing like he was on a pogo stick. Yellow one it was!

The ride home was all about trying to come up with a name for the puppy. My wife wanted Samson, Sam for short. His father's name was Bulldozer so my son wanted that. I came up with Diesel - like a diesel locomotive at the front of a 150 car train. The pup rode most of the way home inside my daughter's coat.

We compromised and used all the names. He eventually became Dozer or The Doze.

He was crate trained and became house broken quickly. It seemed like Dozer went from hiding under the couch to staring eye to eye with you as you sat on the couch in less than a year. We took his crate away the morning that I had to pry his butt out of it.

The Doze ate or chewed on everything - food, furniture, shoes, car tires; which he also loves to pee on. He popped his 1st soccer ball at eight months and was easily three years old before he stopped that pogo stick thing. He had better hops than most of our high school basketball team.
By the way, he was also the right fielder for the neighborhood wiffle ball homerun derby game.
The kids would hit the ball over the fence into our yard. Dozer would get it, run to the fence and drop it in a hole dug under the fence for the kids to use again.

The boy topped out at about 125 pounds. Every dog has away of telling you that they want to go out. Some bark, some stand at the door and wag their tail, Dozer places his big flat forehead against the door and rocks back and forth thumping the door until you let him out.

He is the master of his fenced in yard. No bird, squirrel , cat or dog better trespass though I've never see him catch anything.

The day we picked him up he came out of a big box that had old blankets thrown in it for the puppies to sleep on. Having noticed this we put a blanket in his crate. As a pup he would pull the blanket out of the crate and drag it into the familyroom to sleep on. He fluffs it up until it's just right and then and only then he'll lay down. Sometimes he'd ball it up and chew on it.

The Doze is now 14 years old, 98 in dog years, our son is 27 with a daughter of his own and our daughter is 22. As I write this , he's sleeping, with his blanket, every once and awhile his leg jerks.
I think he's dreaming about his days in right field.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

"Blatantly Idiotic"

I love the term IDIOT except I pronounce it like Yosemite Sam - Ij -jut. They are everywhere and come in all shapes, sizes, races, genders and they speak all languages.
Many are covert so you have to get them to show themselves. They blend like special deep under cover ij-juts just waiting and laying low until it's time to surface.
Some will briefly possess a person and then disappear - intermittent ij-juts! Unfortunately most are long term stage 4 ij-juts.
There is no definitive definition, examples of their behavior and thought process is a better way to identify an ij-jut.
  • The super plus size woman wearing the cropped top with a navel ring.
  • The young suburban white teen boys with the do-rags and crooked billed hats.
  • The guy driving a monster truck stuck in the median of the Northway on a snowy day.
  • All mid-50's people that dress like they're 25.
  • Any adult who tries to speak street - " shizzle my nizzle ", "No you dinnit!"
  • metrosexuals
  • Men who not only watch but also discuss soap operas.
  • Women who try to be one of the boys at a sporting event - high fives, butt slaps (o.k. we'll allow that)

I think you get the drift. These examples were about "negative ij-juts".

The poster person for all known negative ij-juts is Rosie O'Donnell. By her own admission on her website, she dropped out of college with a 1.62 cumulative average to pursue comedy. Now she has the ear of millions of t.v. viewers - why? She spews crap but people, mostly fellow ij-juts, listen.

Now "positive ij-juts" are just fun loving bozos and goofs, jerks and pranksters. I would consider myself a card carrying "positive ij-jut".

So what's the difference? We are appropriate. We knowingly ij-jut to be funny. We are blatantly idiotic and would take umbrage if not called an ij-jut. Most of us have been life long ij-juts and have honed our skills.

I've always thought that there should be a club with hats and secret handshakes. We could have chapters like the Elks, Moose and Lions. I guess our animal could be the Basset Hound or maybe a chicken. Hey! We could have Fog Horn Leghorn!

Some examples of appropriate behaviors-

  • the finger pull fart
  • the obligatory tap dance exit
  • screaming,"Yea baby, do it to me! Yea Daddy!" over and over when you stay with your wife in a motel. Of course when there is no sex. Best done when a friend or one of her relatives is in the next room. She doesn't even have to be there.
  • Chinese fire drills
  • Hellen Keller jokes
  • dancing like no one is watching, while bobbing your head and biting your upper lip

The poster person for appropriate ij-juts, who else David Letterman.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

"Growing Up Grounded"

My mother was a freak'n lunatic that could crush you mentally and verbally a bazillion different ways. When I was a kid she was the meanest MoFo in the valley. She had looks that could knock the wind out of you.
When I saw the movie The Exorcist for the first time I was the only one in the room not scared.
When I was grounded, not allowed to go out, she would find exotic jobs for me to do. Things like picking dandelions out of the lawn, weeding the garden , since we didn't have a garden this meant pulling weeds around the landscaping, sweeping and washing the driveway and my all time favorite dusting each book in the bookcases. When I was really young I had to sit in a chair in the livingroom and read for hours. Doesn't sound bad but 8,9,10 years old and no t.v. on a Saturday morning meant no Roy Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy or Sky King.
Naturally she would ground me for anything. By the time I was 16 I had been grounded for everything short of murder. Which I had contemplated.
The number one best grounding had to be the time she grounded me for getting wet in the rain! No shit!
I was a sophomore in high school when this happened. A friend and I had gone to the movies downtown and we had taken the city bus back to my house. It had been raining all day. The bus stop was less than a block from my house so we ran as fast as we could.
We took off our coats and shoes in the hallway before entering the kitchen - standard protocol.
She saw us and snarled,"You boys too stupid to get in out of the rain?"
My friend froze in place but this was cake for me, " No Ma, we're inside."
" Oh yea smart mouth you're grounded," she said.
We had a party to go to that night ," For what? Getting wet in the rain?", I asked.
"O.K.", she responded and told us to get upstairs and put on some dry clothes.
I was pissed! I wanted to go to that party!
This was the first time that I decided to rebel. Besides what could she do - ground me?
That night around 8 p.m., I put four albums on the stereo. This would make them think that we were upstairs listening to records.
At the top of the stairs there is a window over looking the garage. We opened it, climbed out and then jumped to the lawn at the back of the garage. Off to the party we went.
Technically, I think I'm still grounded.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Fun Series #4 - Two Shots, No Gun

An Army Ranger or Marine Recon sniper can hit a target with a rifle and scope from up to a mile or more away. Let's see them do it it with a rock or a fishing lure! The two greatest shots I ever personally witnessed were made by "the two idiots" - Nick and, proudly I say, me.
Nick's was a valiant effort, mine was pure skill.
In the 1960's and early 1970's next to Sportsman's Bowling Alley sat Sportsman's Field. Here medium and fast pitch softball leagues played. People who worked nights played mornings and day workers played under the lights. As kids we spent hours here watching ball games. It was free and they had a great snack bar.
The quickest way home, since we walked, was along the railroad tracks. Coming out of Sportsman's you would go under the overpass and take the path up the hill to the tracks that go behind the bowling alley. If you looked back you could see the Englebert Furniture Store neon sign glowing in the night sky.
We were a football field or more away when Nick picked up a rock and told me he was going to hit the sign. Nick was a really good baseball player but I said, "No way."
He crow hopped a couple of steps like a major league outfielder would and let the rock fly.
Next thing we know the sign is exploding in red and green flashes and sparks and we hear the cars beneath slamming on their brakes.
We did what all kids would do - we ran screaming with laughter. It counted, he did call it!
But I called mine too.
As an adult Nick kept a boat on the Mohawk River not too far from his home in Clifton Park. At this point in time he had a big Bass Boat. I would drive up Sunday mornings and we'd fish and smoke a cigar. The point for us was to relax. By this time we had known each other 40+ years so alot of our conversations were about our children or just stupid stuff. We had enjoyed each other's company so it was always a great day. But on this particular day Nick had invited one of his neighbors to join us. I'll just call him the Sergeant Major.
Sgt. was one of these guys that knows everything about everything and feels the undying obligation to share this ability with all he meets. Of course this included me. According to him I wasn't a very good fisherman. As he lectured me, Nick would shake his head or roll his eyes.
One of our favorite fishing spots is the rock cliffs behind the GE Research and Development Center. Being a "secure" area, the fencing is conspicuously marked with signage telling all to stay away.
There was one small triangular metal "Keep Out" sign right in the middle of this stretch of fence up about 50 feet above the water line and approximately 30 -40 yards away.
I called the shot or in this case the cast. Nick said, "No way!."
The Sgt. Major just kept talking.
Now let me set the stage - in a boat, on a river, 6 foot Ugly Stick rod, 10 ld. monofiliment line, Sonar double hooked lure, on a Mitchell 300 reel, wind from the west at 8 mph, and the Sgt. Major jawing in my ear.
I took a long draw on my Ashton Pyramid cigar clinched between my teeth and as I exhaled the smoke I cast the lure and I nailed the bastard dead center! You could hear the "Kalunk" of metal hitting metal.
The Sgt. Major was unimpressed.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Nichols' Curse

My Grand Father Nichols used to sit in a large over stuffed chair directly across from the tv, I'm sure it had been a radio before there was a tv, holding a quart bottle of beer, smoking a cigar and tell us stories. Usually with his teeth in, this was determined by the amount of beer.
There were five of us. Four grand sons and one grand daughter. All good Irish lads and lass - Jimmy, Kurt,Danny, Glenn and Caren.(Kurt was named after a friend of my father who was shot down during WWII, so he lost out on a good Irish name)In descending order, starting with Jimmy, we were 15, 14, 10, 9 and 8 years old, when we first heard the story of the Nichols' curse.
Grampa said that the curse started long before our people left Scotland and then Ireland and no one knows how it started. As time goes on, he said, we'll all see through experience that it is true! It's a horrible curse - our people must have done bad things!
Each Nichols has been cursed to meet every asshole in the world!
He went on to tell us to assume that every one is an asshole until they prove personally to you that they are not. Before we got married I told my wife about the curse. She laughed. Now that she's been a Nichols for 37 years, she's a believer.
Grampa found out as a young man that our vehicles are cursed too. He said that it's as if each vehicle we possess has an "asshole magnet" in it. He left the farm to drive trolley cars and finally buses. He's seen millions!
If you've ever ridden with a Nichols you know the curse continues. Just spend a day with us and you'll meet whole families of them - big, small, nose pickers, ass scratchers, stupid ones, alien abducted ones, educated but socially dysfunctional ones, ones that think out loud with no filter, pushy ones, ones with the 50 I.Q. stare, loud ones, the female ones that have that fat belly flap thing that hangs over the front of them, very articulate ones that say nothing, stinky ones, ones that never get an order right, ones that can't make change - driving ones - that don't turn on their turn signals, ones that don't turn them off, fast ones, slow ones, lost ones, born again ones.............................................................................................................................!!!!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

"You won a Big Ass Ham!"

You know he practiced this pose in front of the mirror! He probably even called his baby's momma over to check it out. I can picture him on the floor doing faces for his son Harry. Any guy that will practice funny faces is my kinda guy.
I DVR the Late Show with David Letterman every night and watch it religiously.
Audience show and tell, stupid pet tricks, will it float?, stupid people tricks, great moments in presidential speeches, the top ten list, throwing stuff off the roof, Jack Hanna's animals; I could go on and on - all classics. What happened to "big ass ham'? He used to give away "big ass hams" all the time just like when he does "know your cuts of meat" he always gives a box of Lobel's meat away. I miss "big ass ham!"
It's cool each holiday when he has his mother on and he'll guess what kind of pie she made. Dave's a family man all the way. I like that now that he has a son he talks to everyone about their kids. You get a different perspective on a celebrity when they discuss their kids. Can you imagine being Robin Williams kid? The night the two of them went off about their kids I was in hysterics!
He mentions his "girl friend" but he seems very protective of her. That's nice.
One time when I was in New York City, I had the opportunity to get stand by tickets for the show. We were ,literally, the last ones in. We sat in the back row of the balcony on folding chairs.
It was still a fantastic experience. Vince Vaughn and Beck were the guests.
Now that I've been thinking - he popularized the phrase "Bite Me!" What happened to "Bite Me"? I guess it went the way of "Get Bent!" and "Ass Wipe!". Back in the day "Ass Wipe" was fight'in words! And you couldn't talk about anyone's mother unless it was a "Yo Momma" crack. They were alright if it was funny. "Yo Momma so big she only see you from a distance" - "Yo
Momma so ugly when she brush her tooth she scare the mirror."
Dave's good with repetition. For a while for no reason he'd start saying," Here kitty,kitty." Now it's a recording that says,"Hi rocking chair lady!." He's just a big goof but that's what's so cool!
I'm telling you from his funny socks to his insane antics, it's the best show on television!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Fun Series #3 - "Draw, You Lop Eared Jackass!"

"Be careful, you'll put someone's eye out", shades of
A Christmas Story, my mother said as I looked at my brand new Daisy Co2 BB pistol. Christmas in the early '60's.
This was a relatively peaceful time, when a kid could walk down the street with a BB gun and no one found it a bad thing.
When spring finally came Nick and I would go along the railroad tracks and shoot frogs. We found that after dinner seemed the best time - 6-6:30, it was calm and the frogs would be out in force.
One evening we got bored with this and were walking along the tracks when we spotted a construction site on Curry Road. Nothing draws kids like an empty construction site.
The Grant Shopping Plaza was just built. (It's been empty now for years! Abandoned!) As we came off the tracks behind the building Nick made a beeline to the Tool and Supply Shed, leaned his BB rifle against it, and pressed his face against a window to see what was inside.
This is one of those times that I worry about the statute of limitations and feel like I should say,
"Kids don't try this one at home!"
As he looked in I pulled my pistol and fired, fanning the hammer just like Roy & Hopalong would, breaking out each of the upper window panes. Naturally the glass fell on Nick.
He grabbed his rifle and shot out the bottom window panes, yelling,"Come out you flea bitten galoot, you varmint!"
He ran around one side I ran around the other. We "killed" the rest of the windows. None were spared. It wasn't a fair fight but it was fun.

"Jump'in Jesus H. Christ "

Ever since I was diagnosed with ALS, people have been asking if I am religious or if I have faith. I've never been sure how to respond.
"God dam it!" and "Jump'in Jesus H. Christ and all the Saints in heaven!" were my father's way of initiating me into the world of church and cursing. So, let's just say I was introduced to Christ at a young age and have spoken of and to him often.
Sunday school, Catechism class, Catholic high school religion class and "yes", I was an altar boy.
My Grandmother Nichols was the most devote Catholic I've ever met. She attended mass daily.
Our family is very ecumenical; my wife and son are Methodist, I was raised Lutheran but my daughter and I are Catholic and I have an idiot brother who's been Lutheran, Catholic, Jewish and is now Muslim ( he's had a few wives).
Having attended college in the late '60's and early '70's, I've read about Buddhism and the Eastern religions and took courses in the Bible as literature. So I'm aware that the King James Bible is a translation and revision from Greek. The Apocrypha, these are the books they decided to leave out of the KJ Version, was some light reading in grad school, as was the Septuagint.
Like many people, I have actually read the bible cover to cover. There are some damn good stories in there but I can not for one second follow it verbatim. I see it more like Uncle Fred's take on posted speed limits," They are just suggested!"
So, to answer the question do I have religion?
I understand the tenets of the Christian churches and some Eastern philosophies, the politics behind some of the changes over time, attended and practiced two similar approaches but never
truly accepted any one of them.
Jesus, I believe, did live and walk the earth - as a man. For over 2000 years people have been trying to follow his teachings. If you know your history, you know that he preached to the common man, at a time when this was not done, to people under Roman rule - Pagans. He drew a crowd! Here was this young Jewish Rabbi who was drawing crowds like a rock star, teaching the Old Testament religion to "everyman", talking about God - his father - traveling with an entourage, giving dynamic speeches that made crowds cheer, turning water into wine (this is where he enlisted most of the men - hear me & drink free!), raising the dead and healing the sick - naturally the Romans got rid of him. He was stealing their power with the people.
The picture at the top off the page was chosen purposefully because I believe that Jesus was an out going, happy man, who smiled and laughed. His perpetual fame had to come from his charisma as well as his message - but as a man.
He said that God is in all of us - this I do believe.
In my almost 58 years, I've seen ugly, really ugly things but I've also seen the unbelievably beautiful and fantastic things too. We could list the ugly and the beautiful and be here forever, so I'll do my short list: I saw a mother cry at her babies funeral but I've watched my children laugh themselves to tears - I've seen Friends and relatives suffering with cancer but I've loved and been loved. The Yin Yang of life.
My strength comes from my belief that there is something more, some place beyond; problem is I don't know what or if there's a where. If it turns out to be an old bearded guy on a throne or St. Peter at the gate my rationalization is they will understand and I'll finally find out what the "H" stands for.
If they don't - I look pretty good in red and horns might be fun.

Friday, May 11, 2007


One Halloween night, pre-driving age, we were walking around Colonial Manor looking for people we knew to throw eggs at and shaving cream. As we walked by a house with an open garage door,
I noticed a couple of pies sitting on the landing of the steps leading into the house.
Of course I had to have me some of that pie!
I tip toed in as quietly as I could and picked up one of the pies. It was an apple pie and it was still warm. Yes, I was a bright one, I figured out that's why they were outside - to cool.
Just as I was turning to leave, the house door opened and a lady stepped on to the landing.
Scaring the hell out of both her and me.
She started screaming,"AAAAAAAAAAHHHH!"
I started screaming,"AAAAAHHH!"
She jumped up and down.
I ran in place.
The whole time we both kept up the,"AAAAAAHHHHING!"
She'd ,"AAAAHHH!" and I'd,"AAAAAHHH!" back at her.
Finally, my friend yelled," Get your as out of there!"
Which is exactly the way I exited, ass first. I kind of back peddled while we both continued to,"AAAAAAAHHHH!"
We ran about three blocks before we stopped.
Damn, that was some good pie!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Strawberry Fields

When I worked in Manhattan the office was at West 74th between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues. On nice days we used to walk to Central Park at 72nd and 8th Avenue. This is where the Strawberry Fields Memorial to John Lennon is placed since John and Yoko used to come to this spot often because it is directly across the street from their apartment at 1 - 72nd Street - The Dakota Apartments. John was shot just outside the main entry gate of the Dakota. The building will be familiar to you since it was used for many movies; Rosemary's Baby, GhostBusters to name two.
Over 100 countries donated money and stones for the mosaic. The City of New York installed it.
We used to pick up lunch and people watch. Tourists and locals would come and many would place things on the mosaic. No one would remove anything. They would just look.
Those of you that knew me in the '60's know that I was not a Beatles fan but rather a Rolling Stones fan. If I had to pick my favorite Beatle it would have been John. He appeared the most creative to me. I also liked his politics of the time.
It was really something to sit in the park and watch with what reverence visitors approached. It was almost as if they thought he was there!
When you get to the city check it out. There is also a great chicken place, Dallas Barbecue, where everything is Texas sized. It's on 72nd Street between 8th and Broadway.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

" Be a Simple Kind of Man - Dr. John Polnak - Rest in Peace!"

I heard the news of Doc's passing and almost instantly thought of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Be a Simple Kind of Man." Johnny Van Zandt sings this song at each live concert in memory of his brother Ronnie.

John was a gentle man, intelligent, caring and had a great sense of humor. You can only picture him laughing. I had the good fortune of being with John and MaryAnne when we had the opportunity to tip a few. When he visited he always brought a bottle of wine and made sure it got emptied.

When I worked for John in the Alternative Wing at Phillip Livingston, he could quickly defuse my anger by simply cracking me up. Our classrooms were as far away from his office as you could get and still be in school. He used to come up and hide there. We loved it when he did this.

The first time I met Doc was also the first time he set me up for a laugh. It was at my initial interview! After the interview he walked me out. On the way, he asked me what I thought of Mary Anne Malecki the District Language Arts Supervisor? I told him that she had asked some difficult questions and asked why he wanted to know. He said," Oh just wondering; she's my wife." And then he smiled his smile.

For me Doc's best quote will be ," Just don't get me arrested or cost me any money."

In the spring of 2003 Dave Wiess, John, Mary Anne and I went to Columbia University for Writer's Workshop. This was during the school February break. The Sunday we arrived , New York City got two feet of snow and two days of classes were cancelled. We saw the Da Vinci exhibit, went to the movies and drank - alot. The highlight was when Mary Anne got us Letterman tickets.

Thinking back, even then John didn't go out with us one night because walking in the snow had tired him.

Those of you that know me know that I'm not a religious man but I feel extremely blessed to have had the opportunity to have walked the earth with John Polnak - A Simple Kind of Man.

Fun Series #1 - Frank's Wrench

I thought I'd do a series of blogs about some good "old school" fun. It will take a while 'cause there are alot. I'll do a couple a week. I only hope that the old Rotterdam town cops don't read my blog. None were felonies, well most, so the statute of limitations must have expired.
One summer night in 1966, we were "riding around" when the driver handed me an old fire hydrant wrench as we stopped along side a hydrant on Westside Avenue heading towards Hungry Hill.
What could I do?
We rode around Rotterdam for hours opening every fire hydrant we could find. By morning a few of the storm sewers were blocked and the water was backed up into the streets.
Years later we realized that we did every neighborhood but our two. I guess our officers weren't that bright.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007


I love the sound and lyrics of the blues! I always have.
"when I tip toe in'a house, high as a kite,
I'd rather face a
tiger than face my wife. She's the
nosleepen'est woman I eeever did see. My foot hits the front step and she knows it's me!
oooh baby!"
That one's T-Bone Walker.
The pictures are Buddy Guy,left and Jr. Wells to the right. Both are great bluesmen on their own but better when they toured together.
My favorite Buddy is "While you were stepped out". GREAT, I MEAN ALL-TIME, ALL-STAR GREAT LYRICS.
" I got a new way of of wearing my hair.
The big smile on my face
YOU didn't put it there !
OOh baby!
you just take me back out where you been
'cause while you was slippin out
someone else was slippin in."
Bluesmen all - Albert King" Born under a bad sign", Keb Mo, John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Elmore James "Shake your money maker" and Stevie Ray Vaughn" Texas Flood". There aren't that many blues women that I enjoy - Rory Block and Bonnie Raitt come to mind quickest.
There's just something about a raspy whisky voice and a loud wailing guitar screaming the 12 bars with a turn around that just gets you in the pit of your soul! The beat of the drums and the thumping bass line just get your foot tapping and your butt moving. It's primal.
I listen to the blues every day while I'm on the computer or reading. Channel 1260 on Time Warner Cable.
I'll leave you with some more great lyrics.
"She stayed out last night
and ya know she just walked in
but the little girl she's gettin ready
she's going back out again
I said wait one minute baby
just before you go
she didn't even look at me baby ya know
she act like a fool she walked right out the door
I took a peek through my window
an whatta ya think I seen
my baby sat beside another man
in a loooong black limosine
I said it's your time, it's your time woman
Lord but I got a feelin it's goin ta be mine time
after awhile
oh baby, yes it is!"
You try to sing that one Josh Grogan!

Monday, May 7, 2007


I received a comment about my experience rabbit hunting back in the day. Nick Marino reminded me of two other "wabbit" episodes.

These took place in Mechanicville before housing developments and the suburban sprawl.

#1 - Backpack Boogie

It was fall because I remember the chill in the air. Fall has the chill, spring has the hint of warmth on the breeze. George had earlier shot a rabbit and placed it in the game bag pouch at the back of his vest. We never field dressed the game until we were leaving.

Nick and I were behind him as we walked to our next spot.

All of a sudden, George spun around with a strange look and handed his gun to Nick. He started to spin and jump. He kind of looked like the comedian Steve Martin singing and dancing to "King Tut". He would yell and then laugh. When he spun with his back to us it looked like his ass was shaking a mile a minute and his hands were trying to stop it. Like a one step macarena.

Nick started laughing first and then I followed. By now George was highstepp'n like a drum major leading a marching band and he was getting hard to keep up with. Between gasping laughs, I heard George say,"The rabbit...".

Looking more closely, I realized that it wasn't George's ass that ".. was a shaking.." it was the rabbit trying to get out of the pouch! The animal had been only stunned.

George got the vest off and the rabbit got out. The critter took off like Steve McQueen in a car chase.

#2 - It's all in the wrist - rated eeouuuwwwwwwwwwwww!

Finishing up one afternoon after a day of hunting, Nick was going to teach me a quick and easy way to field dress a rabbit. Field dress is the polite way to say gut. This is the worst part of a day of hunting. Nothing smells like it and there's no clean way to do it. Not according to Marino, he had a clean way to do it.

He took his rabbit and slit it open and then walked up to a small sapling, about 4" - 5" around, and while holding him by the hide legs, he snapped it against the tree. The offal flew out fairly cleanly. "It's all in the wrist," said Nick.

It was my turn. Cut, split, grasp and flick the wrist and wham I'm wearing the rabbits insides. Blood is running down my face and "stuff" is sliding down the front of me. Eeeoouuwww!

This was the day that I became a bird hunter.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

No Court, No Woo?

To woo - to seek affection with the purpose of romance, to court.
Young people no longer woo or court. No wooing, no courting - when I courted my wife. We wooed. I had to discuss this with her parents. Times have changed; for the worse say I. What times are these that young people feel that they no longer need to court or woo? They think it is medieval - well it probably is, but that's not the point.
My daughter, Kate, met her beau while working one summer in Lake George Village. They dated through the next school year, her at Oswego, him in Queensbury.The next summer she wanted to live with him and work again in the Village. Nay said I.
The beau and I met on neutral ground, drank scotch and discussed my unwillingness. I explained that I could not condone this and they did not. When did they stop sending girls to the nunnery?
They have continued to date. My daughter graduates in a fortnight and they now plan again to cohabitate. They have talked about apartments but no conversation with us. They've talked around the issue. She's 22 and he's 24 so they are adults, of age and will do what they will and have every right to.
He has been around alot and we think highly of him, as does our son and daughter in law. He's polite, helpful, very family oriented and thoughtful but I want old fashioned process . Not Sean Thorton & Mary Kate Danaher - John Wayne & Maureen O'Hara - Inesfree - "The Quiet Man " process; (Where is Michaeleen Flynn ?) but something!
My daughter will tell me I'm an asshole - what times are these that young people can speak so to a father and not court and woo?
I am the King of my castle, Master of my domain, head of the house and Lord of the manor;
So, say I, young Barkley, what are your intentions?

Friday, May 4, 2007

Reuben Nichols - Gettysburg July 2, 1863

Some things a family should never forget!
The photo to the left is the Castle Monument on top of Little Round Top at Gettysburg National Battlefield. It Honors the men who fought here with the 44th and 12th New York Infantry.
To commemorate these units, in 1893 General Daniel Butterfield dedicated the monument to the men he commanded on July 2, 1863 at what became known as the Battle at Little Round top.
In honor of the units the structure is 44' tall and the base is 12' by 12'. Butterfield, the composer of the bugle call "taps" by the way, designed the monument.
Inside are plaques naming the men who served that day at this sight. One of my ancestors, Reuben Nichols, from Ft. Edward, New York is named. My father was born in Ft. Edward in 1920.
My father, just like his father, took his son to visit the memorial. I took my son and daughter and hopefully they will take their children too.
It was a long time before I understood the horror that Reuben must have seen. If you see the movie GETTYSBURG, the Jeff Daniel's character's, Colonel Chamberlain, command was down and to the left of Reuben. Chamberlain was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions that day. His men had run out of ammunition and he ordered a bayonet charge. Imagine killing another, face to face, with a bayonet.
The battle lasted just three days; July 1,2 & 3, 1863 but over 50,000 men were killed in that short time.
I never knew whether to be proud or not. He was obviously brave but I wondered about a war where Americans fought Americans.
Most people think the war was fought to end slavery but this was just one part. A large part was state rights vs federal rights and the states ability to contract with foreign entities. Yes, politics.
Reuben being from Ft. Edward ,at this point in history, was probably not a well educated man, so politics probably didn't play a huge role for him.
He enlisted in Albany in 1861. The 44th was an all volunteer unit from all parts of the state and by the time they arrived at Gettysburg they were an experienced unit. By all reports they fought long and hard, far from home, little food and limited water. The conditions were horrendous. When you read casualty statistics many men were discharged for illness, especially dysentery.
Yes, I'll choose to be proud of him.
Some things a family should never forget!

Thursday, May 3, 2007


Back in the 1970's
two friends and I used to small game hunt each Saturday or Sunday morning.
We called it" little game hunting", unless we were going for woodchucks, then we called it "Jousting for Forest Charles."
One Sunday morning Nick, George and I went out along the tracks in Duanesburg. Before entering the woods we always stopped at the Duanesburg Diner for breakfast. This was always a dangerous thing because George would then have to relieve himself somewhere in the woods. George was and is infamous for his finicky bowels. Let's just say that if he went at the top of a hill you didn't want to be at the bottom! Visualize a lava flow.
At this time, I was hunting with a Remington 20 gauge pump shotgun that held five shots. We used to walk through the woods in a line on three different levels - the wooded hill top, the open grassy field and the brush along the drop to the tracks. I was in the middle, walking the field.
It was a bright spring morning about 7 a.m., the birds were chirping .....I heard Nick yell
You actually pick up the motion before you see the animal. Out of the corner of my left eye I saw the movement, then focused on the rabbit busting ass into the field - zigging and zagging every which way.
Without even thinking my gun was up and I touched off the first shot. It missed and grass flew up just to the right of the critter, so he went left. Again I fired, a branch flew off of a scrub, and I heard George yell,"Two." More grass flying, "Three." Next just a clear miss,"Four." Finally , as Bugs disappeared into the treeline, I killed a white birch sapling,"Five."
I heard them laughing before they got to me. Nick and George were merciless with their jokes.
"Damn if that rabbit didn't look like he was doing the mambo! His little ass was going back and forth", Nick said.
George retorted with," He looked like O.J. running through the defense. I think he even stiff armed that tree."
I gave them the two word answer," F*&^% You!" Which only made them laugh more.
Later as we were walking back to the car George started laughing . The current rage was CB radios. He decided that an appropriate handle for me would be "5 Shot." Which it became!
Over the years the story has gotten larger. They now say I reloaded and after emptying the gun a second time I threw a grenade at the rabbit.
Nick says he still hears the rabbit laughing and then he tap dances and sings - "Ovature, curtain, lights, This is it! The night of nights! No more nurs'in, rehears'in of parts! We know every part by heart!.........." He does it best if he can exit a room. Then when finishing he'll take off an invisible hat and shake it above his head as he goes through the door saying,"You ain't seen nothin yet!"

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

How many times do I have to tell you that it's ALL about ME?

Once upon a time there were two friends, boys, who went to school together, had some good times, lived in a two family house together with their wives, each had a son and a daughter and the two boys seemed like family.
One boy went to school for along time and became a teacher and administrator. The other boy learned his craft on the job and became a successful executive. One boy didn't care about money and wanted to make a difference in kid's lives. The other boy wanted to make alot of money.
Some people didn't like the one boy because he always had to out do others - he thought material things were very important. He always, even as an adult, thought his collection of things was important. The boy wanted the biggest house, nicest lawn, fanciest car and worse he bragged and became arrogant. He's alienated friends and family - given them up for things.
But the other boy overlooked this and remained friends with the other boy for over 40 years justifying the other's behavior by saying,"that's just the way he is.". He hung with him through two divorces, three wives, seven houses and too many "best cars in the world" to mention.
They continued to have fun over the years, had holidays together, barbecues and moved through life.
Then one day the self centered boy said something to make the other boy realize that he meant less than the things and he stopped seeing him. Even today, seven years later, the egotistical boy doesn't realize what he did. Nor has he asked. He spends his days with his wife, her family and his things.
The boy who didn't care about money and material things got really sick. The other boy came right away but talked mostly about his ailments and his things. So the sick boy finally accepted that the self centered, egotistical boy would never change.
His friend reminded him of a fable he was told as a child:
Two Travelers and a Bear
One day two travelers were walking through he woods and a growling bear came after them. The first traveler ran and climbed a tree and hid in the branches. The other fell to the ground and played dead. The bear poked him a couple of times, sniffed his head and then moved on.
The traveller climbed out of the tree and embarrassed he laughingly asked what the bear had whispered in the other traveller's ear?
His answer:
He told me not to travel with friends who would run away in time of need.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007


I'm still not sure where I am and it's 40 years later. Either not enough scotch or too many drafts at Pinty's tavern.

The Global Kathy Positioning System

My wife and I have travelled all over the United States during our almost 37 years of marriage. Together we've driven in 35 states and I've been in 42. A few of our trips were 5 & 6 week cross country treks in our motorhome.
We've driven the hair pin switch back curves in the Sierra Madres, through an ice storm in Cripple Creek, through many National Parks, yielded the right of way to elk and buffalo and tented in 30 degree weather in Florida. We can talk at length about our honeymoon in Maine and the night we spent in Mina, Nevada, a place that looked like the lunar surface.
At no time was I ever sure that my wife knew where we were.
Now don't get me wrong, she just couldn't find us on a map. I would give her subtle hints like, "we're on Rt. 90 in South Dakota just outside of Hill City heading west."
I'd look over and she'd be turning the road atlas every which way, biting one side of her lip, looking like a 3rd grader seeing a division problem for the first time. She also had access to a trip tick and a Garmin hand held GPS system.
One of my favorite ways to mess with her would be to ask her which way the sun moved. She'd say west every time. I'd say then we've got to follow the sun. Of course I would try to ask this at noon!
Let's say we were on Rt. 80 in Iowa, I'd ask her to look to see how far it was until Rt. 80 intersected with Rt. 70. ( They run parallel) This one she never caught on to but each time she'd get frustrated and angry with me.
My all time favorite was the time our college age daughter travelled home with us from California in the motorhome. I got to bust on both of them.
I've noticed that young people have no sense of where they are because no one made them learn geography.
When I travel I have a picture in my head of where we are, where we're going and how to get there and unlike many men I will admit when I take a wrong turn. This usually happens when I listen to my wife's directions.
I just find it amazing when they don't know which state we'll come to next.
As you can see from my blog title, I put alot of stock in knowing where I am at all times. There was a brief time when I didn't but hell " was the '60's!"