#BuckFiftyADay Since March, 2014

#BuckFiftyADay Since March, 2014

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

It Was a Good Year, After All

What good does it do to whine?

Sure, nearly half of our retirement savings is gone. Yeah, the value of our house -- once our "Can you believe what our house is worth?" dream-come-true -- ain't what it used to be. We just spent more than we (translated, "I") wanted on Christmas presents for our spoiled kids, but...

It's all good. And, yeah, I know "it's all good" is so 2006...

In 2008, I got to spend so much time with my family. What's better than that? OK, so I'm mad at my buddies for not planning a golf trip.

I got to coach both of my sons baseball teams. Got to see almost every one of their soccer games, too. I got to caddy four times for Tyler on the U.S. Kids Tour (his final year on that Tour).

Watched Tyler and Beau's teams win "town" Little League titles. And Beau's All-Star team won District 11. I had the honor of managing Tyler's 11-year old All-Stars and, even as we bowed out in three games in the Districts, we took part in three of the craziest baseball games ever. As my pal Tim Kurkjian likes to say, "You can watch a baseball game every day and still see something you've never seen before." Our loss to North Wall and our win over Ocean were proof of that.

I got trounced by both boys (10 and 12) in our Five-Mile Turkey Trot. Not even close to either.

I got to play a good amount of golf with my dad...something I treasure so much. And my dad also got to play quite a few times with Tyler, something Pops treasures, I'm sure. I was also happy when my dad accepted new irons for his birthday. Usually, Pops says, "I don't need new irons" and asks us to return them.

I took Tyler on an assignment, to beautiful Akron, Ohio...and he thought it was "awesome." I think what he thought was really awesome was that, for three days, he ate like a sportswriter.

Linda and I renovated our house (see before and after), turning it into our dream house. Now, we just have to pay for it. A minor detail.

We all got to see my nephew Michael score against Bayern Munich on television (that's him below). That was a great moment.

And we were able to get all the Bradleys together (Mom, Dad...Scott and Mary and Kevin, Kyle and Scotty...Rob and Lindsay and Michael, Kerry and Ryan)...along with me, Linda, Tyler and Beau...for Christmas.

That day alone made 2008 a great year.

Here's to 2009.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Nearing the End

Well, I'm getting down to the final couple of days of this fantastic journey to Hull and back. Don't expect anything well-worded or cogent at this point as my focus is on the words that will matter.

Still, I feel the need to let a few thoughts fly.

1. It's very difficult to eat in pubs in this part of England. Even places that advertise "Food All Day" look at you cross-eyed when you try to interrrupt their pint business. And, honestly, when I'm in a place where NO ONE is eating, I am usually not going to step up and ask for a menu.

2. This is my fifth hotel on this trip. And it is the fifth time I've struggled with getting the temperature right for a shower/bath. Now, before anyone thinks I chose a bath on purpose, you should know that my last stop was at a fantastic Bed and Breakfast in the wonderful town of Beverley. All that was missing from my cozy room was a shower. Wish I had some Mr. Bubble.

3. We speak the same language, yet we don't speak the same language. Just had some Fish and Chips in a place that's mostly a Take-Away joint. I tried to keep it simple, ordering a small Fish and Chips. "Wrapped or open?" I was asked. I had to ask for an explantion. Wrapped was to go, Open was to eat right away. I went for Open. "Can I have some ketchup for my chips, please," was my next question, and the answer shocked me. "Ten pence each, sir." Say what? Yes, a packet of ketchup goes for about 17 cents at Toby's. And, the amount of ketchup in the packet was so little, it got me through about three fries...errr....chips. On a positive note, the "small" fries put an American large to shame. In lieu of ketchup, I loaded on the salt.

4. My latest hotel is a World Class dump. And could someone please get the British to hand over a real bar of soap in a hotel room, please? I have had it with the hair and body gel in the squeeze bottle or packet. Next time I come over, note to self, pack a bar of Irish Spring.

5. I ran from Beverley because the owner of the B & B (and adjacent) pub was trying to entice me to stay by showing me his backroom "disco" that will be hopping tonight (Friday). One thing England does not need to see is my arse on a dance floor. And another thing this 45-year old does not need on Day 9 of this extravaganza, is a night in a disco.

Also it's the night before the game and The Gaffer wants me fit. Cheers and thanks to all who've taken the time to read my tales from England. See you all back in the States.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Who Ate All The Pies?

A memorable sporting event can show up where you least expect it, or so it seems right now as I thaw out in my hotel room in Northeast England. A last-minute decision I made, based mostly on industrial park hotel boredom, led me to Glanford Park, a tiny football stadium nestled behind a strip-center. Yes, an American-made Toys R Us, KFC, McDonalds, Travelodge ensemble that had me thinking for a second that my pony-tailed cab driver made a wrong turn on Doncaster Rd. and put us somewhere outside Fort Myers, Fla.

The 35-mile trip was for a match between Scunthorpe United (aka The Iron) and Tranmere Rovers in the Northern Semi-Final of a competition known as the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

If that don’t get the juices flowin’, nothing will.

I got to the ground in time for a pre-game pint and a little pre-game conversation with Scunthorpe fans at the Iron Club. I settled into a standing-room spot behind the goal in the home supporters end, got myself a Pukka Pie (it was a meat and onion pie, and I purposely did not ask for the pronuncation of “Pukka”).

It was yet another one of those taste sensations that is both delicious and gross at the same time (see previous blog item about Sour Patch Kids and the McDonald's Southern Style Chicken Biscuit). Pies are all the rage at football matches in England, more popular than hot dogs by a long shot. The Pukka Pie did not agree with me, or perhaps it was the sausage roll I chased it with. I was later told that you don't go with back to back pastry.

It would be too easy to say the game was like a minor league baseball game, because the crowd size, about 2,600 would remind you of a Class-A game somewhere in the U.S., but as I listened to conversation all around me, it became clear that, to the good folks of Scunthorpe, this is The Show. These guys dissected the lineup, criticized the formation, ripped into players who have been "in poor form" of late. They took this match and their team seriously. Mere mention of Premier League Club Hull City, who in recent years have battled against The Iron got the following reaction. "F--- Hull City." Brilliant then.

In all likelihood, most of the fans’ fathers were Scunthorpe fans, as well as their grandfathers and great grandfathers…and “mums” and “nans” too. You're born into this stuff and it sticks.

When The Iron took a 1-0 lead in the first half, the home fans began to sing, “Que Sera Sera. Whatever will be, will be. We’re going to Wem-ble-lee.” That would be Wembley Stadium in London, where the finals of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy will be held. For a club like Scunthorpe or Tranmere Rovers to play at Wembley is a thrill, even if it's to play for a less-than-glamorous trophy named after a paint company.

Tranmere tied the match, 1-1, in the second half and their supporters (about 300 made the two-hour trip from Liverpool on a Tuesday night) sang the same song.

As the minutes ticked off the clock, I was told that there would be no extra time if the game ended in a tie. It would be straight to penalty kicks. “But,” the fellow next to me said, “We have a flair for the dramatic. We have been known to score in stoppage time.”

On this night, however, it did not seem likely as the clock moved past 90 minutes. That was when Scunthorpe manager Nigel Atkins brought in striker Paul Hayes, who had broken his cheekbone and was too injured to play the game. He was being brought in for the purpose of taking one of his team’s penalties in the shootout and was wearing a half face mask reminiscent of Jason in Friday the 13th. But with the referee just about to blow his whistle to end the game, a foul was called on a Tranmere player about 30 yards from the net. Hayes stepped up to the ball and banged a hard right-footed shot that deflected off a Trannere defender, skipped off the wet grass, then clanged off the right post and into the net. The masked man had done it.

“Que Sera Sera. Whatever will be, will be. We’re going to Wem-ble-lee,” the Scunthorpe fans sang once again. “Told you so!” my new friend said to me, giving me a high-five.

Indeed you did, mate, and I won’t forget it.

Monday, December 15, 2008

How Little of the Giants

I did not intend to watch the Giants game last night, but on Day 3 over here, the jet-lag, time-difference crap hit me like a frigging Louisville Slugger to the temple. So, at 1:30 a.m., that's 8:30 Manasquan Standard Time, the Giants and Cowboys kicked off and I watched.

And I watched, and watched. And I turned the TV off two, maybe three times, and I could not sleep, so I watched the whole dreary thing. Not good considering I had an 8 a.m. (3 a.m. MST) wakeup call. So, you do the math. Finally nodded off around 4:30, got me 3 and a half, solid.

Then it was a full day of work that I will not bore anyone with. Too much driving, too little food and a return to the hotel at 10:15 p.m. to learn that they stop serving food in the restaurant at "half past nine."


"We can have a cold sandwich made for you, sir," the gal at the front desk said, to which I think I replied, "Gimme, gimme, gimme...." Snorted a chicken salad sandwich on "brown" bread, threw back some hot nuts (right) and a Guinness..and God, help me get 6-8 hours tonight. Please help me, dude.

This is when, at 45, I get homesick. I do not like 11-day roadies anymore. Three nights away and I'm usually ready to get back to Linda, Tyler and Beau. That's where I am right now. Yeah, yeah, I know what you're all thinking, "Cry me a river, Brads." I think I just need some sleep.

Big news is that I'm checking out of Hotel Sterile -- in some industrial park -- and into some neighborhood Inn. Once Brian (the owner of the Inn and I are now mates), told me they had wireless internet, I was in. Being in England is only fun if you can get out and see things. When you have to get a cab any time you want to see something that doesn't look like Lyndhurst, then why the hell do you want to be in England, anyway? So, I'm moving into the Market Cross soon.

Met and interviewed a lot of good people today. Might be able to see me on telly here soon. I'll let you all know. As many of you know, I'm about as comfortable on TV as Albert Brooks in Broadcast News (how 80s is that reference? Does anyone but me remember that flick?).

No games to keep me awake tonight. Let's hope there's not a sequel to the Blondie Documentary.

Lovely then.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Just Because it's My Blog

Sometimes having limited TV channels to choose from can lead you to some great viewing.

Last night, not much to watch on my four channels here in England, so I buckled in for a documentary on...Blondie.

All I can say, as someone who earns a living trying to draw interesting stories out of celebrities (athletes), I wish everyone had as compelling, surprising and crazy a story as Deborah Harry and friends. I also would love for athletes to be as open and honest about their past screw-ups as DH and her bandmates were on this show. From punk to disco to pop, this band lived it all...amazingly they're all still alive to recount the gory details.

One more thing, I instantly had to go in search of Blondie's amazing comeback tune, "Maria"...

Port to Port

The sun finally broke through the clouds here in England. Oh, it’s gone again. Seriously, it was that quick. We’re back to gray, damp and cloudy.Little matter as I’m back on a train bound for Leeds. Then, after a change, it’s on to Hull. Before I go on a rant, I want to thank the train attendant (is that what they’re called?) who looked at my ticket and asked, “Where are you going to change?” I said, “Manchester Picadilly,” to which he shook his head and said, “If you get off at Picadilly Station with all that luggage, you’re going to have to pull it all the way to the other side of a large train station. If you stay on this train ‘til Leeds, you just walk across the platform.”

Thanks, mate. You just earned points for your country, tipping the scales back in your favor. Honestly, Good was trouncing Evil until yesterday when I confronted three of the most pretentious ‘wipes I’ve ever dealt with in 20 years in my business. Going to slip back to vague-speak a bit here, but it was halftime of the Liverpool-Hull match and it was time to head to the bathroom and the press room for some split pea soup (I’m serious). It was my second trip to Anfield and I did not remember where the bathrooms were, so it took some time finding them, and then waiting in line for a spot at the trough and, blast it, a spot in line for the hand blow dryer…no towels. Anyway, by the time I was done taking care of business, which included burning my tongue on the soup, I looked at my watch and figured the second half was about to begin. Better head back to my seat.

Anfield’s press area is quaint, and the seat location is phenomenal, right at the midfield stripe, close enough to the pitch that you can here the players shouting at each other and the linesmen, and you can tell the difference between a well-struck ball and a shank by the sound of the ball coming off a player’s boot. Really cool. The press area is, however, as outdated as any I’ve ever worked in. The big problem yesterday was that, I was seated in a spot where three sportswriters would have to get up to let me back in to my seat. I arrived just as the second half was about to begin and the three gents who had to move their fat sportswriter asses to make room for me went ballistic. The first one slammed both of his hands on the table. The second huffed, “Are you serious?” The third said, “We waited for ages for you!” I mumbled that I was sorry…got no response…and quietly watched the second half. My sin cost three scribes about 11 seconds of viewing. I write about this only because I hope none of my colleagues would ever be so rude to a foreigner who entered one of our workspaces. I should point out that the fellow to my right, Chris, who did not have to move, was very cool. Score one more for Good.

I’ll stop whining now, just as Adam Duritz is done whining in my ears. Man, I used to consider Counting Crows among my favorite American bands, but Adam now grates on me. I mean, here’s a fat, ugly dude who dates supermodels. He should be much happier.

Ate me another “crusty” today in the train station. Learned that the place is actually called “Upper Crust” and I surely was confusing the name with the “Crusty Crab” where SpongeBob SquarePants works with Patrick. Sorry, honey, but I ate more bacon. This happens every time I come to England. It’s bacon, burgers and fish and chips and beer. I mentioned to my new friend Ian that I was not eating very healthily on this trip and when I told him what I’d eaten, he shrugged and said on his trip to the States – to Vegas – it seemed that all Americans ever ate was pancakes. “Bacon seems healthy to me,” he said. Here's to more bacon.

Nevertheless, I can feel my arteries hardening and by belly bulging over my sweat pants. Yeah, I’m looking sharp today in sweat pants and a wool Navy pea coat. One of those travel wardrobe nightmares (my wife would be ashamed). Wanted to be comfortable and there was no way I was going to squeeze the pea coat inside a suitcase. So, I look like an ass, what else is new? And in the land of "fashionable" jeans with all kinds of pockets and zippers...the land wear "hip" footwear still has velcro straps and looks very much like the bowling shoes you rent at the lanes (Hey, I've witnessed it) I don't feel all that out of place.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Day In The Life

Woke up, got out of bed
Dragged a comb across my head
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup
And looking up, i noticed i was late
Found my coat and grabbed my hat
Made the bus in seconds flat...

Liverpool 'round Christmas time...nothin' like it, mates.

'Twas an interesting day all around. Slept in only because my body-clock's still adjusting. Made my way out to Anfield (Think Fenway Park only rectangular). Ate "bacon roll" and drank coffee..err. Nescafe for breakast. Had me first pint before 12..arrrghhh! A man's gotta be a man.

Trying to stay on the vague side of town, but I met some of me mates in the pub (Arkle's) for some good craic 'round half-one. Arsenal and 'Boro were playing the early match and I caught a good bit of the action. Shared pints with Ian...I owe him plenty when we get to Hull.

Met some good blokes who filled me in on what, exactly, it means to be born into a side that's playing way beyond your wildest dreams. I mean, one day you're agonizing over a loss to York City, the next your winning at Arsenal. How can you explain it? You can't. So today, they meet Anfield after two and a half hours in the car. It's silly. Even they know it.

Arsenal and 'Boro draw, but only because former Gunner Jeremie Aliadiere connects for Boro on a ridiculour header. "That's the game, innit?" one of me mates ask. "Indeed," I say.

At half-three it's time to head for my post at Anfield. Like I said, it's Fenway, only Fenway has a few more modern amenities (more on that later), and all 44,000 seats are sold including 3,000 that have been allotted to visiting Hull City. I've been here before, but I still get goose bumps when the Liverpool fans sing "You'll Never Walk Alone" just before kickoff. Amazing.

The next little bit is for my ol' friend Anthony, a Jersey boy who's settled on the West Coast. What I witnessed was classic. A team that came in hoping for a point and, next thing you know, they score off a set piece and get an own goal and are up 2-0 before we've played 20 minutes.

Ah, but when the home side has a boy like Steven Gerrard (and I need to check, but I believe I watched Stevie's debut at Anfield some 10 years ago against Blackburn Rovers), you cannot rest on a two-nil lead. Gerrard scores twice before the interval and anyone in their right mind has to think that Liverpool will power their way to a victory. Ah, but 'tis a funny ol' game. While Liverpool leaves their 20-milli0n-pound striker Robbie Keane on the bench, Hull City finds its defensive shape and wills its way to a 2-2 draw against the Premier League leaders. Classic.

It takes me more than an hour to flag a cab back to the hotel. I eat fish and chips (not bad) in the hotel, then venture out to a few pubs. The first one features karaaoke acts that make me feel young. The second is slightly better or a solo American. I watch Barcelona and Real Madrid, first half, in the pub...then walk home briskly to see Barca score two goals and win.

Tomorrow, Liverpool to Hull. Hopefully more good craic to be found.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Sitting in the Railway Station, Got a Ticket for my Destination...mmmmmmm

Joan Armatrading’s “Willow” provides a soothing sound through my headphones. It’s Day 2 over here in England and I’m on a train from London to Liverpool.I guess we can call this a travel-blog, but I will remain a bit vague about what I’m doing (just like yesterday) as I try to figure out the rules of engagement. That’s very inside, so no problems if you’re lost here. Typical scenery from outside London passes by in a blur. Row houses (flats), soccer fields, farms, bare trees. Of course it’s dark and damp outside.

Trips to Europe at my age always make me think, “I wish I’d done this when I was younger.” I will encourage Tyler and Beau to see the world before they’re past their prime. Of course, I won’t pay for it. But I will encourage them.

Trips to Europe – even England where there’s no language issues to deal with, unless you don't speak Scouse like the girl next to me on the train – always seem to force you into using your people skills. Little things like getting around, figuring out where and what to eat (and what it will cost) require you to actually speak to people. You can’t go into robot mode like you can when you’re on your home turf. I kinda like using my mad skillz, ya know? (Self jab there, peeps).

A few examples of some of the little differences that hit you when you leave the States, even as I’ve only been here for about 18 hours. Ordered some food at the hotel bar last night, which the bartender told me was “no problem.” About 10 minutes after making the order, a gentleman came over to me and said, “Sir, your hamburger is ready.” I said, “Great,” to which he said, “Please follow me.” He then took me to a table to eat my burger. Apparently it was all right to order food at the bar, but not to eat it there. I did not explain to the gentleman the Road Rule I’ve adhered to during my years of traveling alone (the last 12 years of road trips have been solo jaunts after four years of traveling in a pack of eight). The rule is, “eat at the bar.” Why, because you look like less of a loser when you eat at the bar as opposed to the “table for one.” No worries last night, however. Table for one was fine. I was starving and no one seemed to be flashing the thumb and finger in the shape of an L at me.

Normally I’d have a TV story for you, but there’s not much to say. By the time I made it back to my room it was almost 2 a.m., but before you think the old man’s back…it was actually 9 p.m. Eastern time. I tried to watch a game show hosted by a scantily-clad bottle blonde, but it made about much as much sense to me as the cricket match that was on in the bar earlier in the evening. No football highlights. Lights out.

Now, farmland streaks by my window and Van Morrison is singing Saint Dominic’s Preview. I’ve got a pretty diverse ipod, but it’s pretty apparent that Van leads all artists in appearances on my device. He’s probably the leader in playlist appearances as well. Van's the man.

This morning, I struggled with the temperature-controls on my shower. That’s another thing that always seems to plague me overseas. You inevitably have to turn one handle as you push some button or twist something in the direction opposite to what is normal. I struggled with it for a good 20 minutes and could not get any water warmer than tepid to flow from the shower head. When I finally conceded stupidity and called the front desk and asked for instructions, they apologized and said, “There’s something wrong in the hotel today, sir, we aplogize for the lack of hot water.” Normally this type of news would anger me. Today, I was psyched because…well, I wasn’t the idiot. Yesss! (Marv Albert voice).

The trip to Liverpool – all the connections, etc. – have gone as smoothly as I could expect. Of course, it would’ve helped if I didn’t pack like my wife for this trip. I have entirely too much stuff for a dude who’s schlepping it to three cities on a combination of transportation that would make John Candy and Steve Martin proud. The one thing I did not bring was a shirt and tie…and that may actually be something I need (vague, again).

Wheeling two suitcases in and out of the Underground and through Euston Station in London was not easy, especially when there was no “lift service” to get you up a level or two, but I survived. For breakfast this morning, all I had was coffee because at 5 pounds ($7.50), I figured eating actual food could whack my per diem in one shot. So, at the train station, I went searching for food. There was a stand offering up something called a “pasty” that looked like those Hot Pockets my kids eat. I’ll try a joke here. Being a Jersey guy, I know pasties…these were not the same thing. And, having stood with the Manchester City supporters at old Maine Road back in 1998, I had no interest in a hot pocket. So, I went for a “Crusty.” That’s a sandwich on a baguette. Makes sense. I ordered some kind of ham and mozzarella. I forget what the ham was called, but it was not ham, it was bologna. Good thing I like -- no, love -- bologna. And yes the baguette was crusty. Hence the name. This travel stuff gets easier by the minute.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Back in Blighty

As one of my favorite bands, The Connells, once sang, "Christ almighty, we're back in Blighty." (Amazing song, by the way, but I have no idea how you can access Connells music these days other than by pulling the CDs off my bookshelf.) Anyway, I'm back in bloody England.

At this point, I'm just gonna be vague, because I think vague is the way to go right now. I'm new to the blog thing and about the only thing I know about the blog thing at this point is that it's kind of fun and my buddies seem to get a kick out of seeing their names on the computer once in a while. I combine my blog vagueness with my Facebook vagueness. Today, I updated my status that I was "underground" and it seemed to pique a lot of curiosity in my "pals"... So, I was on the subway, but when I say I am underground, people seem to thinks something's up.

So vague it is. I'm actually a student of vague right now and I'll (sort of) tell you why. Okay, if you're a sports fan and you watch TV, well, there's a certain product, or line of products that advertises A LOT during games and ... I want to perform a sort of public service announcement on one of those products... for one of those conditions. So, it's not the REALLY embarrassing one, it's the kinda embarrassing one. So, guys, uh, if you have to, ya know, go a lot, my doctor assured me last week that is NOT a symptom of of cancer. After waiting a number of years to go see a doctor because of such commericals, I feel it's my duty to let my boyz know. It's good, yo.

So, I'm back in Blighty...England. I'm in London tonight. Will train to Liverpool tomorrow before making my way to the home of the Housemartins and Everything But the Girl for a week. My body-clock is a little messed right now...but it'll all work itself out sooner or later. If you choose, you can fight through the vagueness over the next 10 days. If not, to hell with ya.

Lovely then.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

What are the Rules of Breakfast?

Driving Beau to school today, a commercial came on the radio for the McDonald's "Southern Style Chicken Biscuit." My 10-year old asked, "Dad, have you ever had one of those?"

My answer was, of course, "No way, that's so unhealthy...fried chicken on a biscuit...puh-lease."

A lie.

Hey, if you know my wife, you'd understand the fib. Fact is, I've had the SSCB a few times and it's both gross and amazing, sort of the way Sour Patch Kids are both gross and amazing (I can throw back one of those $2 bags in 90 seconds and instantly feel the tooth decay followed by the stomach ache). I mean, it's nasty, a piece of greasy fried chicken on a biscuit, washed down with coffee. But at the moment it hits the taste buds, it's...uhh...unbelievable. Later on, different story.

The fried chicken biscuit is old news for my North Carolina friends. To them, it's as normal as sausage gravy (what the hell is that, by the way?) and chicken-fried steak (oof). The greater question in my mind, however, is what exactly constitutes "breakfast food?"

Take, for example, the doughnut. Why is a doughnut acceptable as a breakfast food in many houses, yet the thought of serving your kid (or yourself) a piece of chocolate cake in the morning is out of bounds? Of course, coffee cake is acceptable any time of day.

So many questions...

My Own Personal Facebook Experiment

I think many of my 40-something friends would agree that Facebook is about as much fun as we've had since we all spilled onto the dance floor at the end of an 80s-Saturday-night to dance to Rio. (followed up by a little slow dancing to Spandau Ballet, perhaps?)

Facebook has enabled me to re-connect with friends all the way back to kindergarten at Essex Fells School, brought me back in touch with high school friends (and foes...hey, it was Preps vs. 'Heads vs. Discos back in the day, it's all good now) from West Essex, allowed me to share nostalgic stuff with college friends from the four-year blur known as Chapel Hill.

Where Facebook has provided me the most laughs, however, is with my adult friends...the people who didn't know me way back when. The people who know nothing of my upbringing or my past...the people I met over Dunkin Munchkins at a U-5 soccer games at the Sea Girt Army Camp...the people I met at Back to School Nights...at Little League.

I've posted bogus photos (above), which have brought about a wide array of reactions. For the most part, however, people have believed those were actual photos of me. C'mon people!

I'm not sure why this entertains me so much. I think it's got something to do with the mullets and the mustaches. The same way farts make my sons (and, yeah, me too) laugh 100 percent of the time, a good mullet cracks me up. A 'stache? Hard to believe that some of the so-called coolest cats in Chapel Hill (Marv?) had Magnum PI staches back in the 80s. Now, belly laugh.

I call it my own personal Facebook experiment. It will not end anytime soon. Sorry.

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Word That Works

Not a big fan of the language of text messaging, err, txt msgng...u?

Even on the rare occasions when I pop on over to my nieces and nephews Facebook pages (I really try to avoid because, I dunno, I feel so intrusive...even though it's FREAKING PUBLIC!!!)...I read the things they write in this odd dialect.

haha, ur a hatr!!! luv ;)...

Hate it!

Except for the one word I've learned and now use over and over and over again.

And that word, onomatopoeia at it's finest...so Batman-ish, so expressive, so versatile...is...


Wish I'd thought of it. It's art.

What's dis-?

Dis is a prefix, meaning "not" or a basic reversal.

If you are dissatisfied with something, you are not satisfied. When something disappears, it does not appear. Simple enough.

But what's the deal with these words?

Dismembered. Would you say you saw a body that was completely membered?

Distraught. When you're happy, are you traught?

Disillusioned. Totally satisfied with the political scene. So, you're illusioned?

Doesn't make much sense to me. In fact, I'm totally lacking gruntle at the moment.

Things I Miss (For No Apparent Reason)

1. The Montreal Expos. Not so much the team as things like a bi-lingual PA announcer (Gary Cart-AIR), that cool logo (it's an M! and ELB!), and little bits of their history...Spike Dee Owen.

2. Dire Straits. A guilty pleasure band, and it should be noted I hated their pop music like Money for Nothing. Loved when they did 15-minute songs like Telegraph Road. Trips from Jersey to Carolina went a little smoother with the sounds of Knopfler.

3. Goebel's. I do recall a six-pack was, at times, less than a buck.

4. Straight-on kickers. Will we ever see another?

5. The sound of a skateboard with clay wheels. With real ball bearings.

6. A MLB player who can wear a flapless helmet because he's grandfathered (Domingo Ramos).

7. My Jeep (soft top, no AC).

8. The days when a kid could play ball until Mom rang the cowbell to come home.

"Coming Mom!"

9. Big O's at Sutton's.

10. About 40 percent of my 401k.

11. The days when my son (now 12) thought I was cool.

12. When saying something "sucks" was not 100% acceptable.

Monday Morning Hit List

Clearing the plate:

1. The Clash. Jedz thinks Atom Ant could take Mighty Mouse. He makes some good points and I'd never want to diminish the crime-fighting skills and never-say-die attitude of Mr. Up and Atom, but I'm standing by Mighty Mouse. I did not appreciate the way Jedz put down Mighty Mouse's singing skills. No mere crooner was the Mighty One, he was an opera singer. Atom Ant is still a first ballot Hall of Famer on my card, but when you're talking The Greatest, it's still Mighty Mouse.

2. Kid Lingo. My sons use the phrases "addicted to" and "obsessed with" an awful lot. Annoying. I am amused, however, that the terms "sweet" and "sick" have hung in there as hip lingo for three decades now. I can still here my buddy Gio saying, "Sick, Brads" as some kind of food or drink spewed from his mouth. Sweet.

3. "I Never Thought I'd See the Day in my Lifetime." As Americans have repeated this phrase over and over again when referring to our historic election this past November, I must say, if you asked me back in the late 70s-early-80s, "I Never Thought I'd See the Day" where people line up (in these economic times, no less!) 40-deep to buy really strong coffee (and "coffee drinks") for $2.50-$5 a pop. And who thought back in the day that they'd pay $5 for a bottle of water at a ballgame? I can still hear my dad saying, when I asked for a soda, "the water's free."

4. It's Not that I'm so Hip, But. I really do not understand how people who call themselves "rock fans" refuse to listen to any music that's been released since, oh, 1984. If your rock-fan-forefathers had the same attitude as you, we'd have never moved past the Dave Clark Five. Listen to some new music, it'll make you feel good about yourself. No need to be all Joe Dirt ("I'm a rocker through and through. Here's a list of my favorite bands: AC/DC, Van Halen not Van Hagar, Skynyrd, Def Leppard...") Branch out a little.

5. Real Quick, Only Because I Amuse Myself So. Rocky Bleier, Rocky Balboa, Marcelo Balboa, Marcelo Vega, Suzanne Vega, Chevy Vega, Chevy Chase, Chase Utley. Drink up boys.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Year the Christmas Tree Fell on My Son

I walk by my Christmas tree and I give it a little push. The next time I walk by, I give it a little shake. And the next time, I stomp my foot a little. I do this for three weeks. Gotta be sure.

Because, I think it was 10 years ago this weekend, the Christmas tree fell over and nearly killed my infant son Tyler. All right, that's an exaggeration. It didn't even hit him, but for the better part of a day, I was led to believe that the poor job I'd done securing the tree in its stand nearly resulted in the death of my first-born child.

I was in Pinehurst, N.C., on one of those always-popular-with-the-wife golf trips with my college buddies. It was Friday night and the first 36 holes of the three-day trip were in the books. As is customary on one of these golf junkets, we'd enjoyed ourselves during the day, particularly during the second round when play...I'll put it this way...got a little loose. That was normal.

We'd returned from the course to our house across the street from the Pinecrest Inn. We crossed the street to the restaurant when our group was greeted by a receptionist who asked, "Is Jeff Bradley in this group?" I recall one of my buddies pointing a finger at me and saying, "That's him right there." The woman then looked at me and said, "Your wife called and needs to talk to you right away." Gulp. What had gone wrong? Was one of the kids sick? Was there a car accident?

No, worse...it was a husband screw-up...on the weekend of a college-buddy-golf trip.

This would be known in my culture as the worst sin known to a married man.

"I was decorating the tree and it fell over on Tyler," Linda said. The rest of what she said is probably not repeatable and, to be honest, I'm not sure what she said, but I do remember the tone. When the conversation ended, I trudged into the dining room and basically told my friends the trip was over. I'd pack my bags and head eight hours home to Jersey. Even though I was responsible for getting several other buddies home, I had no choice.

And this is when one of those amazing Christmas-y things happened. A bunch of beered up former frat boys suddenly turned into a team of Dr. Phils. "Here's what you got to do," my friend Harper said. "You write her a letter. You tell her how great she is and how bad you screwed up and how your whole life would cave in were it not for her wonderful-ness."

"Yeah," my friend Donnie said. "There's something about a letter, it's worked for me before. Even though it'll get there a day or two after you're home, it'll fix everything. You'll only have, oh, 48 hours do deal with a really bad situation. Then it'll blow over."

"And bring home a gift," my friend Crockett said. "Earrings, a scarf, a Christmas tree ornament. Uh, no maybe not a Christmas tree ornament, you may not want to go there."

I did not partake of the guy activities for the next several hours as I beat myself up for the lackluster job I'd done securing the tree. For all I know, I'd put the tree in the stand while watching Tips from the Pros on Golf Channel or while cleaning my irons and shining my shoes. Later that night, I placed the call. "I'm so sorry," I said "If you want, I'll come home..."

And then, I remember hearing my wife laugh a little. "Come home? Yeah, right," she said. "Look, the tree didn't really fall on Tyler, it fell sort of near him, but I wanted you to know how ticked off I was. Mike (our Mr. Fix-It Next Door Neighbor) came over and fixed it. It's all good."

With that blessing, I joined in a high-stakes card game and lost the money that would've been spent on earrings.

That last part was a joke. Happy Holidays.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Controversial (by my standards) Training Aid

I'm not sure if you'd call it a concession, but I do.

There's a "new" device attached to my body during my marathon-training runs. It's called an ipod. You're probably wondering what the hell I'm talking about, but here's my deal. I've always laughed at "headphone runners" the same way I laughed at runners with bike shorts, fanny packs and tank tops (unless you're actually competive). Not only did I laugh at runners who wore headphones, I refused to let them beat me. The sight of a runner ahead of me who was chilling to tunes made me run harder. There was no way I was going to let "that guy" beat me.

Well, I guess we can file this under "if you can't beat them, join them." I did not load up with all the ipod gear that runners seem to tote around these days. You know, the arm band thing, the special head phones. I hide the ipod either in the pockets in my shorts or my sweatshirt. I stuff the wire in somewhere around my neck and feed it down my body. On cold days like today, you can barely notice wires to the ear buds because they're tucked under my ski hat. As you can tell, there's still something that bugs me about becoming one of "those guys."

One thing I noticed on a slow eight-miler today is that when you run with headphones, during the breaks betweeen songs, your breathing sounds incredibly loud, like the breathing in a horror movie (was it Halloween? I freaking hate horror movies, I dunno). I think the fact that I'm slogging along right now at such a ridiculously slow pace makes the whole practice so boring that I feel the need for a soundtrack. I made a 45-minute playlist the other day that opened with "The Harder they Come" buy Jimmy Cliff and the Little Steven song "I am a Patriot" by Jackson Browne and finished up with "Fort Hood" by Mike Doughty (if you don't know it, you gotta check it out) and "Hey Mockingbird" by an old Chapel Hill bar band named Dillon Fence. In between, I had some Dropkick Murphys, Coldplay, Teenage Fanclub, Van Morrison and Blink 182, along with some other stuff that you've never heard before (unless you're Bob Ferguson).

Today, however, I just hit "shuffle" and let it rip. I vaguely remember Trashcan Sinatras, Ben Kweller, a little Jackson Browne solo acoustic, which was followed by, of all things, Eminem.

I still do not like the concept, but I am going to give it a few more tries before I decide whether to wire up for runs or not. I will not, however, race with headphones. That's crossing the line.

And, by the way, since I was dissing Oprah and Puff Daddy the other day, I figured I'd check out their times and came across this list of 25 Celebrities Who've Run Marathons and am proud to announce that the only celeb who beat my PR was Billy Baldwin. And let me just say thank God I beat (barely) cheezball former VP candidate John Edwards and his $200 haircut.

Thought of the Day

Just Because I can send and receive email and download photos and own an ipod...

Doesn't make me tech-support.

No, Dad, I do not know why your computer is so slow today.

I love you Pops.

For my Homeys...

Looking for participation from my peeps here.

You know you're from Essex Fells if...

1. You've been to "The Glen" (literally and figuratively)
2. You wake up in the middle of the night fearing you have an oral test on your dissected rat.
3. You played baseball for the Firemen or the Police.
4. You know all the words to "Hail Essex Fells."
5. You've been to Mrs. Maloney's closet.
6. You had lunch at Gino's with Mrs. Nelson.
7. You think Chris Macken is as bad a motherf... as there is in this world.
8. You have a clear vision of the sign that reads "We Love You Thurm."
9. Someone says "Paddle" and you don't ask, "What's that?"

The Future of Politics?

I hate politics for so many reasons, but mainly because I don't think anyone ever tells the truth, or at least the whole truth. Not many of us are able to live a life telling half or less-than-half truths, yet people who are running for office seemingly get away with saying whatever the hell they want.

Of course, in the Blog Era, there are now watch dogs everywhere. From the Swift Boat team that torpedoed John Kerry to the Price is Right staff that felt it was necessary for us to know how much Sarah Palin's handbags cost, it's getting crazy out there.

And today when I think back to Bill Clinton's famous "I did not inhale" comment, for some reason, I think of Matt Leinart. I think of the Cardinals Party-going QB because I wonder if, in the future, candidates will be nailed Jackass Style in the middle of campaigns with pictures taken with cellphones during their college or post-college years.

Based on the politicians of the past (and present), it's a pretty good bet that we're not going to be choosing between altar boys, nor would we want to be choosing between altar boys. So, can we look forward to Gotcha photos in 2020? I say without a doubt.

Thankfully, and I've told all my friends this, I did not go to college during the digital era. Because while today I can admit I once had a mustache and a mullet (1983), to my knowledge there's not a single photo out there to prove it.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Sophomoric Question of the Day...

Does anyone actually drink Bud Light?

I mean, other than when someone hands you one, I don't know, during some promotion with spokes-models, does anyone actually drink this brand of beer? Can you name one Bud Light drinker (Donnie Barnes, Goldsboro, NC)? They still advertise. I still see a crushed can here and there, but I cannot think of anyone (well, one) who calls this their beer of choice.


The Greatest of them All

I will keep this short and to the point.

The greatest Super Hero of all-time is, without question, Mighty Mouse.

Consider a few things:

First of all, he's a mouse. When he went into a battle, he was always looking at a size disadvantage which affects everything from reach to raw power.

Secondly, he played during an era when the media did not cover super heroes the way they do now. A lot of of his deeds went unnoticed. Today, a super hero saves a village or colony and his face is everywhere. He's doing Anderson Cooper, not to mention Leno and Conan. The Mighty One did not go about his Super Hero-ly duties because he was looking for acclaim. Can the same be said for today's Super Heroes? Do we really know for sure?

Finally, and this is what makes it no-contest. Mighty Mouse could sing like Pavarotti. Go back and listen to the tapes. When he belted out, "Here I come to save the Day!" he always hit the note. And while opera may not be as popular as it was back in the day, his talent transcends.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


I've got boys 10 and 12 years old and they don't believe me when I tell them that when I was their age, all I wanted for Christmas was tube socks. That's right, tube socks, and my folks delivered with soft and comfy tube socks that were always striped in the colors of NFL teams. The maroon and gold of the Redskins. The Aqua and Orange of the Dolphins. The Kelly and White of the Jets, (before the Jets went Forest on us). The Orange and Brown of the Browns and the Orange and Black of the Bengals, not to mention the Royal and White of the Colts. The Baltimore Colts.

Tube socks will make a comeback. Trust me. (What's that? They have, already.) OK, forget it. I need a couple pair.

(The part about tubes socks being "all" I wanted is a lie.) I'm almost certain I got an air hockey table when I was 12. And I'm certain it was 13 when I got Atari.

Number Six...

I've just started to train for my sixth marathon. I decided just the other day I will run Boston for the third time on April 20th and I haven't even informed my wife yet. She will say she understands and then when I'm off on some 2-hour run in February, she'll understand a little less.

When you run a marathon, most people focus on race day and marvel at how they could "never do that," meaning they could never run 26.2 miles. But the real tough part of running a marathon is not race day, it's the three or four months leading up to race day, when you have to dedicate yourself to logging mile after mile after mile, day after day after day. I believe anyone can run a marathon (hello, Oprah? Puff Daddy?), but not everyone can train for a marathon.

And the fact is, it's been four long years since I ran a personal-best 3:28 in Boston in 2005 and right now, I'm...uh...not skinny. My biggest struggle right now is that when I go out for even a modest 50-minute run like I did this morning, I come home wanting to eat a Jersey Mike's sub. I have learned in my past races that the only way to really train for one of these suckers is to not use all the running as an excuse to eat like Dom Deluise in Fatso (get the honey, Junior).

Finally, I think most people who know me well are not suprised that I've become a marathoner. The way I look at it, I was 37 years old before found a sport that suited me, the short guy with no speed or skill whose only positive athletic trait ever was that I tried really hard. And that's basically what it takes to be a recreational marathoner (the guys who run sub three-hours are something entirely different than me, Oprah and P-Diddy). You just have to try real hard.

My friend Nick, a former professional marathoner from Morrocco, has been emailing me a training schedule. Basically my job between now and Jan. 1 is to slowly build up my miles.

I will keep you posted as this thing evolves. I thought I was old when I ran one of these things at 37 and ancient when I ran one at 41. Just how the wheels respond at 45 is anybody's guess.

Welcome to my World

Writers gotta write.

And in this ever-changing world of print media (print used to mean "ink"...no more), it seems if we aren't getting our thoughts out there on a regular basis, we die as writers.

So, welcome to Jeff-Bradley.com and hopefully this is a place where you can come for a few laughs as I clear the mechanism from time to time. I'll keep it light, writing (of course) about sports, but also a few of my other favorite things, like cartoons, music, fads, etc.

Let me put it to you this way.

We used to play a game in Troll's Bar in college, me and my boys back in Chapel Hill, and in the game you'd say a name, for example, "Bart Starr," to which the next contestant would have to say a name that included either "Bart" or "Starr," so he might say, "Bart Simpson" to which the next player would say, "O.J. Simpson" to which the next person might say, "Tropicana O.J." to which I might say, "Tropicana Field" to which (and this might draw some fire), the next person might say, "Kim Fields" (Tootie from the Facts of Life), and then "Li'l Kim" and then (former Red Sox third base coach) "Wendell Kim" and then "Oliver Wendell Douglas" (Green Acres)..that's what this blog is going to be all about. It can go in any direction depending on which way the wind blows. By the way, love Green Acres...hate Facts of Life. What does that say about me? Love Bart Simpson...don't like Wendell Kim so much. I used to have an autographed O.J. photo from his Buffalo Bills days. I believe he signed it, "Peace, O.J."

Wish I'd held on to that.

I invite any and all feedback, and hopefully good back-and-forth will be a part of what goes on here. Hopefully, at the very least, you'll get a few smiles out of it.