Mr. Big Shot

Mr. Big Shot

I just got back from a weekend in Ohio celebrating my Aunt Miriam’s 80th birthday. Naturally, the weekend was filled with all the usual stuff, like food and drink, music, and tons of relatives. But there was also a little bit of the unusual, at least for me. There were guns.

On Saturday, I went with 3 of my relatives to their 40-acre property in the woods, where, in addition to the woods, they have a picnic area, a lake, trailers for overnight stays, and a target range. We were there to use the target range and an assortment of my Cousin Ed’s handguns and rifles.

He could tell that I didn’t know the first thing about guns, so he loaded them for me, told me to pick one, gave me a set of earplugs, and pointed me towards the firing line. The last time I fired a weapon was on the rifle range in boot camp back in 1967, so I grabbed a rifle that looked closest to what I used back then.

I’ve read a lot of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels, so I knew a little something about marksmanship. I knew that, for greatest accuracy, you had to hold your breath when you pulled the trigger. I took in a big gulp of air, held my breath, sighted on the target and squeezed the trigger. I squeezed until I was turning blue from holding my breath, but no shots were fired.

Through my ear plugs, I heard the muffled scream of my cousin. “You have to take off the safety,” Ed said.

I didn’t know where the safety was or how to take it off, so he did that for me and handed the rifle back to me. I held my breath, sighted on the target, and squeezed the trigger.

Blam! The bullet raced towards the target, well at least in that general vicinity. A clump of dirt jumped into the air about 25 feet away from the target. I pulled the trigger again and caused more dirt to dance. I kept pulling the trigger until I was out of ammo. The target was still untouched.

Ed reloaded the rifle and went to the firing line.

Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! And the target was turned into Swiss cheese.

My other two cousins fired off a couple rounds, and then Ed loaded a handgun for me. I fired the first shot and the gun recoiled upward as soon as I squeezed the trigger. I missed the target by a mile, but I scared every bird within two miles of the target. After a few more shots, I was able to somewhat control the upward swing of the gun, and I managed to make some more dirt dance.

Keeping the gun pointed at the target, I turned to my cousins behind me and said, “In all the excitement, I don’t know if I fired 6 or seven shots, so you’ve got to ask yourself, do you feel lucky. Well, do you punk?” They laughed and I emptied the clip and actually hit the target with one of my shots.

We took turns blasting off round after round at the targets. I saw that the shotgun had a lot more kick than the other weapons, so I passed on those rounds. I didn’t want to risk hurting my shoulder. There was a lot of weekend left and I needed my arm in good shape for all the beer I would have to lift.

After several hours of them blasting the targets and me blasting the dirt, we packed up the guns and headed back to Akron. It was my Cousin Barbi’s son’s birthday. Terrence turned 23 and a few of his friends were coming over to help him celebrate. A couple dozen relatives and a few dozen of his friends showed up and we partied. Around 4 a.m. the party was still going strong, but I was out of gas. I slipped off to the guest room, which was just above the garage where the music was blasting. The room was rocking.

Then I remember that I still had the earplugs from the firing range. I put them in and slept like a baby.

When I woke up my cousin Barbi was serving breakfast to all of Terrence’s friends who spent the night. She told me that the house rule was that her sons and their friends were allowed to party all they wanted but nobody was allowed to drive home. She was used to making breakfast for a small army of hungry college students. I joined in, and it was delicious.

I got invited back for Terrence’s graduation party next June. I hope I can get in a little target practice before then, so I don’t embarrass myself too much on the firing range. “A man’s got to know his limitations.”


Peace & Love, and all of the above,


M-m-m-m-my Corona…

Butch Hobson - 01Keith Castillo - 01Reegie Corona - 01


I received an invitation in the mail to attend a little birthday party for the Manager of the Lancaster Barnstormers, Butch Hobson. R.S.V.P.

Then my brother called. What were my plans for celebrating my birthday?’

“Right now I’m planning on going to a ball game and having ice cream with Butch Hobson on his birthday, which is on the 17th, just two days before mine. Close enough.”

Then I started singing, “They say it’s your birthday…It’s my birthday, too, yeah…

“You want me to go with you?”


I called Maureen Wheeler at Clipper Magazine Stadium, explained my situation and asked if I could have my invitation “plus-oned.”

“Sure,” she said, “Bring your brother.”

The ballpark seats about 15,000, but the only time it is more than half-full are some Friday and Saturday night games when they have free fireworks. The rest of the week, they give out free T-Shirts, reduced-priced food, prizes, anything to try to attract customers. They’re very accommodating.

I was in Long Beach a few days later telling my friend Margaret about my plans.

“It sounds good,” Margaret said. “It would sound fabulous if you were only nine years old.”

I thought about that for a moment. “Margaret,” I finally replied. “I will be going there like a nine-year old. I’m going to the game with my little brother.”

BeelzeBro X (formerly Brother X) arrived on Saturday afternoon. We had a drink in The Social Butterfly Saloon (formerly my back yard). Then we went to The Alley Kat for Dinner. After a while there we just came back to my place to chill. We watched a few Harness Races on the computer, because I’m a big fan of Harness Racing, and we watched a little TV, because we’re both big fans of closed-captioning.

He got up first on Sunday. He had to go to mass.

Myself, I’ve been going to services at Saint Mattress for nearly 50 years. I stayed in bed.

When he came back two hours later, he was an expert on my neighborhood. He knew more about it than I did. I suggested we have breakfast at the Onion Café. He said that it was closed on Sunday, but that the Fractured Prune was open and they had great coffee. We went to The Fractured Prune, which was just a little past the Onion Café, which was closed.

He even knew how The Fractured Prune got its name. I’ll leave that story for him to tell someday.  It has nothing to do with fruit.

It was then time to go to the ball game. We used to go to baseball games together back when we were Cub Scout age. We even had Yankee uniforms. He wore #8 for Yogi Berra, and I wore #7 for Mickey Mantle. Magically, as soon as we handed our tickets to the usher at the Barnstormer gate we were both that age again. Only this time we could drink beer. Hey Margaret.  We could have even more fun than 9-year-olds.

The day was dedicated to helping homeless Veterans in Lancaster County. The players wore special patriotic caps during the game, which were auctioned off during the 4th inning. After the game, whoever bought a hat went onto the field to get their hat from the player.

I bought Reegie Corona’s hat. (Reegie, pronounced Ree-Gee, is how he spells his name).

I bought it for several reasons.

He’s #19, and my birthday is the 19th.

His last name is a beer, and that’s one of my favorite beverages.

He just joined the team from a Yankee farm team.  So, nobody knew him, and the bidding wasn’t very spirited.

I got his hat for $30. That’s more than I ever paid for a hat before (unless you count enlisting in the Navy). And it’s certainly more than I’ve ever paid for a Corona, but it was a steal. He scored the winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning.

At the birthday party we all got presents. I got a game ball signed by Keith Castillo, a catcher who used to be a Long Island Duck. BeelzeBro X got a game ball signed by the birthday boy himself, Butch Hobson. He gave it to me as an extra birthday present. We had our ice cream and then he drove back to New York.

Suddenly, as he was driving away, I was no longer 9-years old, but, at least, I could still drink beer. I went to the Alley Kat and had a Corona.  M-m-m-m-m-my Corona….

Peace & Love, and all of the above,


Home Remedies


kif picking nose


Rarely are the seats full at the ballpark. One night I was there and they announced the paid attendance at around 9,000 people. That was their third highest attendance ever. Since the stands are so empty, a lot of little kids entertain themselves by running up and down the stairs, back and forth in the rows. One such tyke, around five or six years old came running up to where Debbie and I were sitting.

He waited until he got our attention and said, “I eat my boogers.” He made a perfect comedic pause before he continued, “Lots of them.”

He then ran off, I guess to inform other people of his culinary preference.

When I got home, I had to Google to see if there might be any scientific data on booger eating. To my surprise, most of the articles were actually positive and said that it might actually improve a child’s immune system. The only harmful side effect was that too much digging in the nose might lead to a nosebleed.

Recently, I was diagnosed with severe arthritis of the left hip joint, a condition that began when I twisted my hip in a dance lesson around 7 years ago. I explained to my new medical team, that I never had any treatments on my hip because I had developed a heart problem at the same time, and that always got priority. They asked me what I was taking for the pain and I told them that whenever I was in pain I squirted my hip with Wd-40 Oil.

They thought I was joking, but I managed to convince them that it was a serious home remedy I learned from my Dad, who learned it from my Aunt Miriam, who has been using it for decades and swears by it.

When they stopped laughing, they made an appointment for me to see an orthopedic doctor, who might have a more conventional treatment for my hip pain.

This past weekend I had a lot of things to do, so I sprayed the WD-40 oil on quite liberally before I left the house. I went to a Mavericks concert in Harrisburg, PA with my friend Maria on Friday. Then I went to Valley Stream, NY on Saturday to hang out with my friend Tilda. On Sunday I went to Long Beach, NY to see my friends John and Margaret. They live a couple miles from the Long Beach train station and I used to walk it until a couple years ago when the hip pain flared up.

I walked from the train station to the new post-Sandy boardwalk and the hip still felt pretty good. So, I figured I would walk a bit, rest a bit, and see how far I got. I made it all the way to their house, and we partied for hours.

On Monday I went to Secaucus, NJ to see my friends Barbara and Jim’s new apartment, (and to whup them at Scrabble). On Tuesday I headed to the Amtrak station in Penn Station to head back to Lancaster. I got there early and decided to call Debbie to see how she was doing without me. She asked me how my hip was doing after 5 days of being on the road.

I told her that it was doing well.

“Did you squirt more WD-40 on it?”

“Of course,” I said, I coated it well on Friday before I left the house, but I’ve discovered something else that’s really been helping me a lot.”

She took the bait, and asked me what it was.

“I eat my boogers,” I said laughing. “Lots of them.”


Peace & Love, and all of the above,