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Tuesday, October 25, 2011


I went to my very first skeet shooting and wine tasting party at Julie’s farm last week. You never know when your first skeet shooting and wine tasting party is also going to be your last. I wasn’t listening that closely when I was invited and heard something about shot this or shot that, and I thought it involved Alabama slammers, kamikazes, or maybe, sex-on-the-beach with an orgasm chaser. But this thing actually involved a fairly large arsenal of handguns, shotguns, rifles and of course a pink BB gun. It seemed like everybody in the place was packing. Mike had a .357, a police special .38 and what looked like a Kevlar vest just in case someone else had outgunned him. I thought I saw him pull a taser when I was reaching for the last chicken skewer.

I brought an appetizer, my shotgun and a couple of bandolero bullet belts. I was wearing a duster to affect a slightly menacing look, and also in case the place was dusty. It looked like we had barged in on a gun amnesty program. I thought I saw a hand grenade on the buffet table but it turned out to be a pineapple.

Lew and Rob ran the target shooting areas with safety in mind, and no one was killed or seriously hurt. Or even humorously hurt. I shouldn’t say no one, since I tripped up the stairs twice at the barn. Everyone had earplugs to use against the noise, and I noticed several people even wore them later on as I was talking to them, I’m not sure why.

Many guests had never fired a live weapon, and seeing so many women with guns was both exciting and unnerving. I myself had never shot a handgun, so I stepped up to the target area. I waved off the instruction, since I had watched the beginning of every James Bond movie at least 50 times. The target said to me, “So, Mr. Bond, we meet again- and this time, the cards are in MY favor. HA HA HA HA HA!” I wryly responded, “You had better check your hand once more, my friend… perhaps you hadn’t counted on THIS!” I spread my feet, lifted my sidearm using both hands, and emptied the clip. The target did not go down, so I threw the gun at it, momentarily confusing James Bond with Superman. Lew pried the gun out of my hand, saying something about having to re-sod the lawn now.

I fared a little better with the shotgun, since I have shot skeet before. Luckily, most of the clay pigeons broke coming out of the thrower, and if I shot quickly and winked I could create the illusion of success. Most of the birds fell harmlessly into the lake, and when I say harmlessly, I’m not counting all the fish who were beaned in the head. I asked Julie if she could put some of the fish into a barrel so we could shoot them and see if it was as easy as people say.

The estate was spectacular and beautiful. The grounds so big they could only be navigated by Segways with knobby tires. If you have never ridden a Segway, it’s quite a treat: you simply get on, and after you chase it about 20 feet trying to get on, you just lean in one direction or the other to turn or go forward or backward. The property slopes to the west, so several Republicans fell off the thing trying to turn left.

The wine tasting was also lovely, except for a tense moment when somebody popped a champagne cork and everybody hit the deck, still a little gun-shy. The venison was quite tasty, and it turned out that the boys had killed it themselves. No one would actually admit that they ran into it with their car, but I did see an antler-sized dent in the fender. There was a beautiful duck on the table that the menfolk had shot and stuffed. They said it was a hooded merganser, but I couldn’t tell one way or the other with the hood on.

Everyone brought an appetizer, and my wife made a delicious chicken and ginger offering. I kind of wished we had shot the chicken ourselves, but it was already dead so it seemed pointless. I did however empty some lead into the ginger.

I hope Julie doesn’t mind, but on my way to the party I took the liberty of stopping by the neighbor’s house to feign asking directions, and I let them know our two families were having a nasty blood feud and we were still pretty pissed off that the North won the war. When the gunfire started I pictured them shivering under the bed pretending to be dead.

Incidentally, the Puckle gun was unveiled in 1718 by James Puckle. Some say that “necessity is the mother of invention,” but it’s possible that having a name like Puckle is, instead. It fired square bullets, an upgrade over his previous design, which fired bullets in the shape of a parallelogram. Samuel Colt was the first to apply modern machining and mass production to the manufacture of firearms, his patent for the Colt revolver issued in 1836. Muzzle-loaders went out with the Crimean War in 1856, with the exception of my dog.

Friday, October 14, 2011



Have you ever been to Wall Street? It is impossibly small and difficult to navigate as it is.

A few weeks ago a small throng of protesters assembled there to rail against greed, avarice and people with high salaries. They intend to stay there until their demands are met. What are their demands, exactly? Well, they don’t actually have demands. They just don’t like the people who were already occupying Wall Street, the ones with occupations. Let me say straight away that I don’t like stockbrokers any better than they do, because even when I buy high and sell low, they STILL make money, and that pisses me off. I don’t know what a hedge fund manager is, but if they are the ones with those long spines and beady little eyes, I don’t like them any better. I don’t like the fact that people can buy on margin, using some poor sap’s money (mine) to make a losing investment.

There is a certain type of people that is attracted magnetically to a protest that doesn't actually have a goal. You know who I'm talking about: People with a lot of earrings through their nose, mouth, eyebrows (although not ears). If they drink a glass of milk next to you stand two feet away so you don't get soaked when it leaks through all the frigging holes.

The vegetarian type who would eat rhubarb or cauliflower just because they are supposedly edible. By the way, can a vegetarian eat horse radish??

The ones who express themselves through "body art." I like to ask people with a lot of ink, "What is your absolute WORST tattoo?" And see if I can get them to admit that they might have evolved since they let a fat guy with a beard etch a picture of Pebbles Flintstone onto their ass.

People who were a little too weird to get into PETA.

These are the type of people who go around chaining themselves to things. I chained up my bicycle in Atlantic City and it was gone in two seconds, but you could chain up these people with a feeling of complete safety, even at Oriental Avenue, where you cannot extract a penny of Monopoly rent money.

Crowd control is difficult now because you have to be pleasant and not hurt anybody’s feelings or else it's bad PR for the Mayor. They don't use water cannons anymore, even though I bet they would be quite effective- chicks HATE getting their hair wet. I was at a pool party where the kids had super-soaker squirt guns, and I dispersed after the very first salvo was fired. Then again, if you turn the entire demonstration into a wet T-shirt contest, would anyone leave? I say let the cops cuff everyone together by their nipple rings.

They call themselves the 99 percent, referring to the idea that one percent of billionaires in this country (actually about 380K per year qualifies you) control about 50 percent of the wealth (actually about 35 percent). I first thought this somehow had to do with one percent milk. I do not qualify to be in lofty financial elite, but we do live fairly comfortably, because we can afford pillows in every room. Also we do not need to use crude oil like the poor people do, and we use only refined sugar. I stick my pinkie finger out when I drink tea, but only because my fingers don’t fit inside the handle.

Leave it to Americans to organize a huge action to protest something that every single one of them would secretly like to be a part of. It’s like me organizing a protest against Dana Delaney. If she happens to come to my sit-in and crook her finger at me, I may have to leave in a hurry and turn my bullhorn and clipboard over to you. But that’s a big “if.”

Occupy Wall Street? How about occupying your time more constructively? They don’t really seem to want to have a purpose. But I'll give them one anyway:* How about we save the American Political System with just one rule: a campaign budget limit of two million dollars (or whatever you like that's not more than the GNP of small countries), the same for all candidates. Spend it on TV, tours, whatever you like. That would level the playing field, although you would need a slight slope for drainage, hobble the big business contributions and get rid of the two-party model. A two-model party is a different story. Let voting blocs form as they will, and align differently on different issues. Spend all those wasted campaign billions on something useful like luxury resorts in the Mediterranean and first-class airfare. And let's not invite ANYONE who eats kale!

I don’t know what this Twitter revolt will ultimately accomplish. But I do know that there seem to be WAY too many people with too much time on their hands. I have a funny feeling that the unemployment rate will soon be approximately 99%. I also know that those in the top 2 and 3% are not pulling their weight at the protest. Further, I know with ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY that this will all result in me NEVER again finding a parking space downtown.

Incidentally, in 1685, New Amsterdam Director-General Peter Stuyvesant oversaw the building of the wall for which Wall Street is named. It was built to keep out the Indians, which is ironic since now you can’t find a cab without them. He also presided over laying out Broadway, but if it was supposed to keep out the broads it didn’t work. Stuyvesant was known as “Old Peg Leg” after he lost part of his right leg to a cannonball during an attack on Saint Martin in 1644. We were in Saint Martin four years ago, but we didn’t find anything.

*I don’t do a lot of politics; there are people even more annoying than me for that.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011



I am headed to my high school reunion in a few weeks, and I wonder if anyone will recognize me. Not because I have changed that much, but because I was hardly ever there. At the time I considered myself home-schooled. Now you may say that I was probably involved in “extra-curricular activities,” but if you only knew what was in my curriculum you would have to admit I stuck to it pretty faithfully. Anyway, it's possible that someone at the reunion might remember my name, if it was the same, but it isn't. I'm sorry, parents, but I never thought of myself as a "Dave." These days everyone calls me Rick, even though that's not my name either, legally. I had my middle name officially changed to my first name, and as a result, most officials call me Eric. Those at work figure Rick is somehow short for Eric, even though they are both four letters. Sometimes they address an email to "Ric," thinking that I am just too lazy to make the effort for the extra syllable. But Rick is an assumed name. I assumed it in college, at the risk of making an ASS out of U and ME (mostly U).

The process parents use when they choose a name for their baby is both inscrutable and scary. Howard Stern is always complaining about his name: What parent looks at a little baby and thinks it looks like a "Howard?" I wonder if the baby actually looked like a Howard to them, or if they were thinking ahead to some day when it might. Black moms favor a name that is 1.) three syllables, 2.) seems unpronounceable just by looking at it, and 3.) ends in an "a." This is no joke: once on Judge Judy a mom introduced her daughter as Latrina. That one was clearly not thought through. They also like something with some punctuation in it. Another true story: my sister's friend is a teacher, and when she saw the name "La-a" on her roll call she was stumped. "Is your name pronounced 'La-uh?'" She asked. "No!" the girl replied, "It's La DASH uh! The DASH is NOT silent!" I was channel surfing and came across a movie starring someone named “N’Bushe Wright.” What is supposed to go between the “N” and the “Bushe?” I can think of a lot of different things to put in there. YOU think of some and let me know.

Celebrities are no better, possibly worse. Gwyneth Paltrow named her kid Apple. I guess to instill core values? It’s almost worth having another kid and naming it Orange, then compare the two. Angelina and Brad named their kid Maddox. Is Brad is a big Atlanta Braves fan or something? Let’s see just HOW big if he names one Smoltz. Frank Zappa, I guess trying to be funny, names his kid Dweezil. This name is easy enough to understand when you realize that he combined three of his favorite things to form the name: dwarfs, weasels and tweezers.

Parents: think ahead to the torture your kid will go through. My grandmothers' and great aunt's names were: Gladys, Mildred and Blanche. Is that sexy or what? How did grandchildren ever get born back then?

I think the Indians had a better idea on how to name a baby, basing it on how the baby’s physical qualities might be represented in nature. If it catches on, expect more names like: “Rains from Wrong End,” or “Gurgles like Aunt Mary’s Stomach” or “Shrieks like Faulty Car Alarm.”

Now that soap operas are being cancelled right and left, who is going to provide America’s children with popular names? Dylan, Chase, Lance…. Connor, Shane, thank god Ridge never caught on… I know if I had a kid I would name it Victor Newman, even if it was a girl, just so I would have an excuse to do my world-famous imitation.

Also, Mom & Dad, consider all the angles. These days celebrities take the first initial from the first name and the first syllable from the last name, and combine them: A-Rod, J-Lo, YOU try it! So Mom, if your last name is Nussbaum, don’t name the kid Anthony. If your last name is Bagnotti, Duane is out….

Grownups don’t fare any better with their own names. Prince, whose name really is Prince, decided he didn’t like that name, and changed it to some goofy symbol. What was that thing? A theta? A beta? A Catherine Zeta? No one knew what the hell that thing was so they just called him “the artist formerly known as Prince.” Then he didn’t like the theta thing so he changed it back to Prince, and was called “the artist formerly known as that squiggly thing.” He hasn’t had a hit song for awhile, and now he is simply called “the artist formerly known.”

Getting married and taking your husbands name presents all kinds of other issues. I told my wife when we got married I didn’t mind if she wanted to keep her maiden name, since so many of the other maidens were doing it. But PLEASE no hyphenates. Jesus- who can fit it on a check? And what if you have children, and your hyphenate kid marries another hyphenate? Your name starts to look like the Morse code and before you know it somebody is rescuing you for no reason.

Incidentally, they keep a list of the most popular name combinations for twins. Number four on the girls’ list is Faith and Hope. Clearly Mom is looking for some guidance. Number 18 is Heaven and Nevaeh, and I am not kidding: 16 dingbat moms and dads named their poor girls that. Dumb and rebmud. London and Paris clocked in at number 21. I don’t know where Cleveland and Omaha check in, but they have to be right up there. Mia and Mya, at number 23, is cute, but what about triplets: Mia, Myselfa, and Eya....