Friday, December 30, 2011

Gutes Neu Jahre

The Eve of the Eve....after I break camp here in the Quaker City I will grab my son and head to Kent County for a goose hunt tomorrow morning. Carl from Ohio is coming in so there will be poker and pool,and a few nips of Bourbon tonite. Likely, my son will again clean my clock at poker...14 years old and he has good card skills!
Tomorrow night will find the wife and I in Society Hill for a Black-Tie New Year's Eve party at a gorgeous restored Colonial era townhouse owned by my buddy Gain and his wife...Elegant party and we watch the fireworks at Penn's Landing at Midnight from his roof-deck.I have posted about Gavin before...a fine host!
Then the Mummer's parade on Sunday with all the kids and some friends....cold beers,Bloodys, a flask of Brandy and seats in front of the Union League to watch the String Bands. Then it is home for the traditional German New Year's Day dinner of sauerkraut,potatos and various wursts.
My boy Calvin(above) states an interesting case...what are your resolutions and plans for the Eve?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Vermont Yuletide

We are back from Vermont and not all that happy about it. Christmas was wonderful. We attended Stowe's local church for Christmas Eve services at 11 P.M. and it was magical. We ice skated on Christmas day and enjoyed Christmas dinner at The Green Mountain Inn. We got plenty of snow and got in some skiing with excellent conditions. Indeed, it snowed nearly the entire time we were there.
Suffice it to say that this trip was about as "Christmasy" as it can get...Now...on to New Year's Eve...Black Tie party in Society Hill and New Year's day at the Mummer's Parade.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Frohliche Weinachten

Departing 12/23/2011 for Stowe,Vermont. As last year, the Wife and I are taking the kids North for a White Christmas,Christmas Eve at Stowe Community Church,Christmas dinner at The Green Mountain Inn, some skiing,ice-skating,Winter hikes and Yuletide relaxation.Hot tub and cocktails, Christmas movies(Barbara Stanwyck in "Xmas in Connecticut" and 'Joyeux Noel" are featured)Bourbon by the fire and attempting to forget about the practice of Law for a few days. No cooking dinner for 20 on Christmas night, no shuttling from party to party and relative's homes....less hustle and angst...more time with my kids and my wife. No I leave you with some Christmas images and my thanks for reading the nonsense I scribble here....and even more thanks for those of you who continue to Post your fine prose and pictures. I truly enjoy reading your posts and appreciate the time invested. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Labels for the Sportsman

Most of my beer swilling takes place at a local tap room or a tailgate or the hunting club and focuses on cheap watery beer that is ice cold and refreshing. I take deserved heat from the beer snobs and I do indulge in a fine Pilsner Urquel or a Stella now and then...but Yuengling Lager is about as exotic as I go on most rounds.
My beer taste was forged in the Fraternity party rooms of Lehigh where cold kegs of Hamms or Old Mil were the standard flow from multiple taps manned by abused pledges.
My taste in Bourbon and Rum may be high-brow. But when it comes to beer I am just a pedestrian and hoist a pint or a bottle of what I like.
The labels on the bottles of suds these days, that are gripped in a raised fist, are pasty foiled nonsense that you idly scrape with a fingernail while chatting with the boys or watching the game. Coors has developed a label that lets the drinker know when it is cold...but what half-wit cannot perform this thermodynamic analysis on his own...what a gimmick.
There was a time when beer lables were an art form. I have a friend who collects labels and these are some examples of sporting related beer bottle adornments. There is an odd Whiskey label that I could not resist including. I love these old lables and the feeling they convey for the drink and the drinker.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Eat What You Kill Son

Here is a news story that highlights a questionable performance by an athlete and Sportsman. If you are going to hunt so with integrity and follow the hunter's ethics...if you are not going to eat not shoot it. This activity is not about trophy mounts.

I understand the argument about the Outfitter's responsibility...nevertheless...sounds like this ex NCAA wrestler was out for something to hang on his wall.

MEDICINE HAT, Alta. - Former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar has admitted to a hunting infraction in southern Alberta.

A lawyer for the mixed martial arts star appeared in a Medicine Hat court and pleaded guilty on his client's behalf to improper tagging of an animal during a hunting trip in November 2010.

Lesnar was fined $1,725 and given a six-month hunting suspension.

Two other charges of leaving meat to rot and illegal possession of wildlife were dropped.

Lesnar, 34, was accused by fish and wildlife officials of shooting a mule deer buck but only packing the trophy head out.

The director of the Alberta Professional Outfitters Society said it is considered unethical to leave edible meat in the field.

The former NCAA wrestling champion and pro wrestling star was charged along with a hunting guide.

A native of South Dakota who now makes his home in Minnesota, the six-foot-three 265-pound Lesnar regularly hunts in Canada.

Lesnar said in a statement released Tuesday that he was on a filmed hunt sponsored by Fusion Ammunition and guided by Trophy Hunters Alberta.

"In Alberta, Americans can't hunt without a licensed outfitter. The outfitter is there to make sure you follow the rules," he said.

"I had two deer tags for the trip which meant I could legally shoot two deer. On the first day of the trip, I shot a mule deer. On the second day, I shot a white tail. Video from the hunt has been on the Internet for over a year. After I shot the mule deer, I failed to immediately tag it. As far as I was involved, that's all there is to it."

Lesnar said he has paid his fine and the matter is closed.

"It's the kind of thing that happens to hunters all the time. I want to thank the Canadian authorities for their co-operation in resolving this misunderstanding. I love Canada and I can't wait to go back to Alberta for a hunt."

As far as the spoilage charge that was withdrawn, Lesnar said he couldn't bring deer meat back across the border.

"I trusted the outfitter to properly handle it. They are professionals and I understand it was handled appropriately."

His fighting career has twice been interrupted by diverticulitis, an intestinal disease. Lesnar returns to the cage Dec. 30 when he takes on Alistair Overeem at UFC 141 in Las Vegas.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Joyeux Noel (2005) - Official Movie Trailer HQ

If you want to see a very different kind of Christmas film...something deeper than "It's a Wonderful Life" and more moving than "Miracle on 34th Street" or "White Christmas" this film. Based on the true story of Christmas Eve 1914 in the trenches of World War I,this film is fascinating and offers a very relevant Christmas message.
I posted on this movie last year...but it bears mentioning again this Season. Merry Christmas!

Say It Ain't So Rudy

A wonderful movie in the inspirational underdog sports genre, "Rudy" has been a favorite around my house for years. Sadly, when perusing the Wall Street Journal last week I saw that the real life "Rudy" was pinched by the SEC for a sleazy pump-and-dump stock scheme. It looks like Rudy traded on his fame and feel good story to bilk investors out of a bunch of cash...he and his partners illegally inflated the stock price of his company "Rudy Beverage,Inc." and their swindle was exposed.Most of the money Rudy made is being returned to the SEC in the form of stiff fines.
Well,I suppose it is not unlike the sad post-baseball tribulations and sleazy deals of former Phillie, Lenny feel sad that guys like this go bad on some level. I do not think I can again watch "Rudy" with the same admiration for the protagonist and enjoyment of the story.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sporting Suds

Forget the fact that many of these fine small breweries are long gone. Sportsmen and women have been a focus of beer advertising for decades. Certainly the brewers are not advocating that you suck down a six pack while pheasant hunting....but who has not enjoyed an icy can of beer when fishing on a hot day. I enjoy liberal amounts of malt beverages while watching boxing and eagerly await a cold beer after an early September dove hunt.
In the late 19th Century, Philadelphia had nearly 100 small breweries offering their pilsners and ales at local tap rooms and by the case.Indeed, there is a section of the City known as "Brewerytown." These small guys have vanished and while the craft and boutique beer trend is thriving, it is not quite the same as it caters to beer snobs and pseudo-afficiandos who scoff at the pedestrian beers I will happily swill all evening.
The big "Walmarts" of beer have gobbled up most of the trade...even Rolling Rock was bought out and packed up and away from Latrobe,PA. We still have America's oldest brewery: Yuengling, here in the Keystone state but Ortliebs and Schmidt's are just hop-flovered memories and old coasters and neon at the Antique store. Old Milwaukee and others still launch campaigns aimed at hunters and fisherman but generally not with the same grace and warmth of these old ads.
As Christmas approaches, I will offer a bit of a suggestion for the Season...crack open a Yuenling Porter if you can find it...and enjoy it by the fire after a long cold afternoon in the goose pit or after trimming the tree.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Please Mr. Lauren

I stumbled upon this hideous imposter while browsing E-Bay for a shooting vest for my son. I had taken him to a Tower Shoot on Sunday and the vest he used was adequate but he handled himself so well with the Browning Gold .20 Ga. that I decided he needed a better shooting rig.
So, back to this Ralph Lauren abomination...first, it sports a price tag north of $1900.00. Absurdly over-priced. One could fully outfit 2 hunters for a pheasant trip to North Dakota for that amount. Second,it displays erroneous Texas Rifle Association patches; patches that would lead one to conclude that the wearer won some sort of shooting competition. Third, in terms of functionality, the patches are on the right side, so if a shooter was right handed , the patch at the top could easily interfere with a smooth mount...and the shooting pad on the shoulder is too small to facilitate smooth mount as well. The large contrast material flap pockets are idiotic as they hinder easy access to fresh shells. The collar is too big as it would get in the way of one's cheek seating flush on the stock of the raised gun...I could go on...but you get the idea.
One can only imagine this garment draped over some Greenwich hedge fund wanker as he gets out of his Range Rover...a vehicle that has never had tires touch mud...and grass only once at a tailgate at Deerfield when Junior was 2nd string on the Football team. Said wanker would mince about posing as a shooter...when he does not know the difference between high brass No. 6's and a target load or a Purdey from a Ruger. A poser that grew up in New Rochelle and never discharged anything other than a BB gun or an employee from whom he was going to steal credit for a deal. The patches claiming success in some faux competition on some fictional range are a tantamount to a green Private wearing a Combat Infantry Badge when he never left Fort Dix. Well, maybe not that extreme( Tin Tin might think so?)...but lame nonetheless.
But that is Ralph's thing...faux crests from Clubs that do not exist glued on Blazers worn by some putz that fancies himself sporting the badge of the Cold Stream Guards or the First City Troop....or perhaps some Yacht Club...fake Polo Jerseys and spurious rugby team wear and other forms of costumery for the striving and the climbers and the posers.
So, Ralph, please stick to your Khakis and Oxfords and sweaters and pimping school boy blazers to WASP 101 and his lot. Leave the field wear to L.L. Bean and Cabela's and Filson and Beretta. They know what they are doing and when it comes to this clearly do not.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Fight News

It is official, the Welterweight that I manage is due to fight on 1/21/2012 at The Arena in South Philly. he is on the under-card in a 6 rounder against a tough Dominican kid who is 6-1. The Butler team is confident.
The evening features a great slate: Philly's own Heavyweight World title contender,Fast Eddie Chambers, is fighting 10 round main event and Gabriel Rosado, from Bethlehem PA is fighting a world class bout against Jesus Soto-Karass ( who recently lost to Mike Jones.)
The Sportsmen will be enjoying the fights from our usual Private Box seats above the Ring. If you are in the area and want to see a great night of "The Sweet Science"...shoot me an e-mail.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Sunday Shoot

Just over the Pennsylvania border in Delaware, in what some call "Chateau Country," is a Gun Club on an old piece of DuPont property. Some of the guys I shoot with are members. On certain Sundays they compete against other Gun Clubs in a friendly Trap Shoot. The event includes lunch and drinks after the barrels are cool and the guns broken down and put away. This year the shooting was skillfull and the fare included deep fried turkey, oysters,home-made onion rings and chips. The grounds are stunning and the guys are gracious and know how to break their share of clay pigeons. What better way for a sportsman to spend a Sunday afternoon....particularly when the Eagles have soiled the linen and do not merit our time and attention.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Lehigh Football

Lehigh beat Towson in a barn-burner of a game,40-38. The game was basically decided on a safety when Lehigh sacked the Tiger QB in the end zone.
Tomorrow Lehigh plays North Dakota in Fargo...and will be without All American receiver Spadola. Seems Spadola was "Tweeting" with a high school buddy and a racial slur was made by the other guy in reference to the Towson team....when Spadola forwarded the Tweet to another person the NCAA deemed that he made the words his own and suspended him from the game. Certainly there is no place for for such inappropriate language in correspondence from a Lehigh athlete....or anyone for that matter. Yet it seems a harsh penalty when the player did not use or endorse the language....and particularly when compared to some of the behavior that the NCAA does not sanction from other teams and players.
Nevertheless, I will shell out the dough for ESPN pay per view to watch my Alma Mater play in this late round of the I-AA/FCS playoffs.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Murray's Point

Named after the N.J. Judge who founded our Waterfowl Club, Murray's Point Blind is an excellent spot to knock down a few Mallards in the later season. One reaches this blind using a long boardwalk across tidal mud and marsh. The brackish water and weather eventually just beats up everything. Here we see that the floor of this duck blind has caved in rendering it out of commission.It needs to be re-built. Since this is one of the Club's better blinds, this chore cannot wait. Duck season re-opens this we need to get busy. It just goes to show you that a Waterfowl club ain't all wonderful passing shots on wood ducks,whiskey by the fire and geese dropping in the decoys.

Friday, December 2, 2011

And the Hits....

I do not believe I have ever posted thrice in a day. Regardless, I would be negligent if I failed to highlight a huge boxing event taking place tomorrow on the under-card of the Cotto fight at The Garden. Philadelphia's own Mike Jones is facing Sebastian Lujan,an Argentinian welterweight. They battle for the IBF No. 1 spot.

Mike Jones is 25-0 with 19 KO's. I believe I have seen 17 of those wins live. I have met Mike. He is a great kid....good father....hard worker and very likable on all levels. I fervently hope Jones gets the "W" and is then positioned for a World Title shot shortly after that. It is great to see Philly fighters on the big stage. Go get 'em Mike.

By the Way

I neglected to mention...or was trying to forget...that The Eagles are an embarasment to the great City of Philadelphia and it is clearly time for this man to explore other options. 31-14 loss to the damn Seahawks...who entered the game 4-7...sheesh...right after last week's blow-out by the Patriots. "Time's yours."

Stocking Stuffers

It is December and I noticed on my drive to the office that XM radio has now switched one of the Classical Stations I like to Holiday Pops. For me,some calming Baroque favorites from Corelli or Teleman while fighting traffic in the morning is preferable to my usual diet of Stones,Allman Brothers or Elvis Costello.

Too early for me to start listening to Christmas music...but it casused me to think about gifts,gifting,and ammo. Now the Magi were not packing Benelli .12 Ga. Semi Auto's when they arrived...but pictured above is a fine shotgun shell for them if they were. If there is a Waterfowler in your life...these shells make a great stocking stuffers. I have stated in prior posts that regular steel shot hits "like a schoolgirl"...which at some North Phila. High Scools is actually damn hard. However, when you are hoping to drop a Mallard or Black-Duck at first light from your favorite helps to have better shells for your shooting. I have found this Hevi Shot to have great pattern and power....much better than regular steel shot.

The boxes may stretch out the hosery hung by the chimney with care...but the recipient will be thrilled.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Lehigh v. Towson

Saturday rapidly approaches. My alma mater faces off against the Towson Tigers in I AA/FCS Football playoffs. With the talented Chris Lum taking the snaps,this Lehigh team has a solid chance of beating the ACC show again that the Patriot League still has talent,balls and brains...I will not prattle on again about scholar-athletes...I did that in a prior post. But there is something refreshing about knowing the Linebacker who just administered a rib crunching tackle is also a 3.3 GPA Finance Major or a 2.9 GPA Chemical Engineering Major. In last year's Playoffs, Lehigh got smoked by a much larger Univ. of Delaware team and suffice it to say, many of their kids looked like they were struggling with their Wallet making curiculum. No hunting this weekend but geared up for this game! Go Engineers. GO LEHIGH.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Deer Camp

Opening day has varied meanings in different regions. To baseball fans it is the first pitch. To fly fisherman it is a morning on the stream.To Keystone state deer hunters it is the Monday after Thanksgiving when deer are hunted with rifles.For me, for many years, it is a trip to Deer Camp in Pike County and a cabin on a ridge above the Delaware river in Pennsylvania's northeast hardwood deer country.The experience and the memories begin during the drive. Beeches,Oaks and Hemlocks are framed black against the failing sun as you turn off Route 209.

When you drive off the paved road, there is the weathered grey wood sign "Camp Reform" bearing a carved outline of a high-powered rifle shell. The trucks and jeeps are parked in the wet leaves around the cabin and a dull yellow light pierces the Pocono darkness from the front window. Mounting the porch you see the jugs of spring water and the stacked cases of beer. The door always sticks so you give it a hard yank and you are met with the smell of cigar,woolen clothes,gun oil and the earnest greetings of the boys...your brethren,your hunting buddies. These are guys you went to college and law school with, as well as local old timers who grew up in and around Stroudsburg.In this cabin there is no pretense or posturing; just hunters gathered for a yearly pursuit of bucks and camaraderie unique to a hunting cabin.

At the table is Chick, 80 years old and still hunting. He wears the same black and red checked hunting cap, which is probably from a pre-war Woolrich catalogue and faded fatigue green khakis. He is fond of cranking up the wood stove and putting a galvanized pail of water on top.This arrangement gets the cabin sweltering like a botanist's hot-house...even though some years it is 60 degrees and raining outside. If you screw up and miss a shot, Chick will call you a Dutchman. He remembers guys who used to trap with your Grandfather. You covet his old deer rifle and feel privileged to talk to a sage old hunter of his wisdom and years. He says little but when he does speak we listen and it is either deer hunting wisdom or some damn funny story from a hunt 40 years back.

Benzley is at the table, a face and carriage like John Wayne and a Lucky Strike perched in his mouth. He is the Captain and you pay deference to his experience and woodsman's knowledge. He was a Marshall and a Sheriff and even in hunting clothes and a wrinkled orange cap has a distinct aura of law enforcment authority. He makes you feel welcome and will put you on a good deer stand the next morning because you are Jon's buddy from Lehigh.  Benzley fries the eggs and scrapple in the morning and makes coffee that could erode a slab of Appalachian rock. He drops you off at a carefully selected deer stand in his old Chevy truck and leaves you in the cold dark morning with a wish for good luck and usually a remark about not missing.Benzley picks you up when the sun drops over the ridge and by that time of the late afternoon your cold toes and hands welcome the light glow of his headlights coming up the logginrg road.. He tells you where to watch for does and following bucks near a certain tree or stand of Rhododendron because he knows. Most of what you know about deer hunting comes from listening to Benzley and from hunting with him.

Roy stands up from the big table in the middle of the cabin and slaps your back. He asks how the goose hunting has been and wants to show you his new rifle...all the while hurling loving insults at Larry. Roy can drop a deer at 85 yards that is at a full run and put the lead projectile right in the "engine room" behind the front shoulder. Roy's wife has sent up 3 pans of lasagna for dinner. The sauce is from a jar and she uses too much ricotta...but it is filling and you eat 3 plates full out of respect. Roy can help you zero in your scope and knows the best loads for your .35 Remington for different stands where your shots are at varied distance and maybe thru thick brush.

Larry is the much loved and dumpy jester of the crew.His face is more Norman Rockwell hobo than anything else. He is in his early 70's and makes gag-inducing dandelion wine...but excellent syrup from a Maple sugarbush on his land.Larry's homemade scrapple is the best you'll ever get....made with buckwheat instead of cornmeal from a pig he kills every November. Larry has a bone saw in his garage and will butcher your deer for you.... a skill he learned in the woods but refined working at the A&P. He also dabbles in making "shine" and when you sit down, he hands you a "Veryfine" juice bottle of corn liquor that surprisingly has some color and age to it and hits the throat with less burn than you anticipate.The whiskey adds to the warmth of friendship you feel in the room. Larry is a guileless rural gentleman who asks questions about events in Philly and how the Eagles will make out. He is sure to remind you that Roy is a candy-ass and old Chick will out-hunt all of us and that John is getting uppity since being elected mayor and then Common Pleas Judge. Larry can shoot an acorn off an Oak at 100 yards and has great Navy stories. Larry used to be a bit wary because he figured you have money...but years of hunting together filed down that edge.

Jon is there at the table cleaning his .45 side arm. He carries this Colt revolver to his stand and swears one day he will drop a buck with it. A Lehigh and Law school classmate with a disarming smile,a wealth of charm and country wit and a surgical intellect and intelligence that he keeps well hidden at Camp...but unleashes on the County Bench in his role as Judge. He pitched for Lehigh,excelled in Law school and is engaged with passing to his sons the etiquette and ritual of Camp. Jon asks about the pheasant hunting, your wife and kids and makes his yearly excuse about missing the Lehigh v. Lafayette game. He spits his Skoal wad in a styrofoam cup and gets you up to date about his kids, his wife, County politics and where the deer are moving. Jon is the Co-Captain of the Camp and has killed his share of deer and knows these woods like a bookie knows the line on the Eagles/Cowboys game. Much of the ground we hunt on was taken from his grandfather by the Federal Government via eminent domain when they built the dam on the Delaware and created the Delaware Water-Gap National park. This affront still stings him and he is no fan of the Park Service or their intrusions. He knows I am from the Main Line but gives me a pass because I know what a "farmer's rain" is and because some of my people came to his County in the 1700's and because my Grandfather grew up in a house down the street from his and hunted and trapped these woods and rivers in the '20s, and because I know my way around a deer camp,and around these woods and around a duck blind and have a good bird dog of my own. You know Jon is one of the best guys you will ever know and you mentally kick yourself in the ass for not seeing him more often.

Bammer is another Lehigh crony who happens to live in New Jersey now and apologizes for it frequently. A broad shouldered ex-football player,he gives you a bear-hug and belts a shot of moonshine with you and makes sure you always have a fresh cold beer from the porch. Bammer makes the evening meal a sporting competition and can consume massive amounts of whatever is plated before him. He can drag a deer 2 miles through Pike County woods like a John Deere tractor and will always show up to help you gut and skin whatever deer you may shoot. He also expects and demands that I bring at least 2 of my Mom's Shoo-Fly pies. These are the wet-bottom variety that eclipse the cake-like junk fed to the tourists by the Amish down in Lancaster. These pies are from her great-grandmother's recipe and my Mom hits the ball over the fence every time she makes them. The pies are the first thing Bammer asks about after releasing the bear hug.Only after the pies have been produced from the truck does he ask about how things have been going since you last hunted together.

After dinner the Sunday night football game is flickering on a piece-of-shit 19 inch TV wedged in the corner. Smoke from the stove mixes with cigarettes and cigars and the stories and raunchy jokes pierce the humidity of Chick's water bucket heater contraption. Talk soon turns to where we will hunt the next morning and where the big bucks might be. A few hands of cards are played but the heat and the whiskey make you drowsy and you hit a bunk earlier than normal because you are getting up at 0-dark thirty. As you drift off and ignore the snoring and the creaking have a child's Christmas eve-like hope that you will clip the big buck the next morning. You inventory your hunting gear in your mind and the comfort and familiarity of deer camp is your last thought before sleep.