Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year

To all my fellow bloggers and the wordsmiths and photographers who provide such interesting reading and wonderful pictures: Thank you for sharing your thoughts and the glimpses into your lives. Here's wishing you and yours health and prosperity in 2013.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Eve of the Eve

The day before New Year's Eve here in Pennsylvania. This Sportsman and some like minded souls took to the field for a Tower Shoot on a cold and windy Sunday morning. I am on the right in the foreground heading for my shooting peg. About 25 of us get together for these shoots during the season and the wingshooting is challenging. After the shoot, we head up the hill to the landowner's home where a steaming pot of soup awaits and some porter and lager is poured. It is a great way to spend some time afield and on this particualr Sunday, despite the cold...the bright sun and the snow covered ground made for a stunning setting. My thanks to the photographer Ed Wheeler ( who is a professional behind the lense) for capturing this moment for me.
Happy New Year to all.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

I wish a Merry Christmas to you all. Once again, thank you for your pictures and your prose. Throughout the year it is truly a pleasure to read your posts and see your photos. This week I will be chasing waterfowl and enjoying Yuletide time with the family so no posts for a few days.

"Fenwick's in the manger," Sportsman's Alternative Christmas Movie Suggestion

 Long before my wife and I were married, I took her to the Sam Eric on Chestnut street one evening. This palatial old school movie house was showing a one-time sneak preview of "Diner." The 1982 release of this classic film was scheduled, but the studio did some limited East Coast previews... they were gauging audience response. I was absorbed by the dialogue and the period tone, the soundtrack and the cars. The script captures the guy-banter better than any film prior to that time.It is funny, touching and real.

The film take place over the Christmas holiday and culminates with the wedding of Eddie and Elise on New Year's Eve. As such, "Diner" technically qualifies as a Christmas movie. In fact, the scene of Kevin Bacon's "Fenwick" lamenting the theft of the baby Jesus and removing his clothes to do a stand-in at a local church Nativity display is as off beat a Christmas scene as one can find on film. I have watched this movie countless times and know the dialogue by heart.
Recently,Vanity Fair" ran a great piece on "Diner" and the significance of the film:
"Made for $5 million and first released in March 1982, Diner earned less than $15 million and lost out on the only Academy Award—best original screenplay—for which it was nominated. Critics did love it; indeed, a gang of New York writers, led by Pauline Kael, saved the movie from oblivion. But Diner has suffered the fate of the small-bore sleeper, its relevance these days hinging more on eyebrow-raising news like Barry Levinson’s plan to stage a musical version—with songwriter Sheryl Crow—on Broadway next fall, or reports romantically linking star Ellen Barkin with Levinson’s son Sam, also a director. The film itself, though, is rarely accorded its actual due.

Yet no movie from the 1980s has proved more influential. Diner has had far more impact on pop culture than the stylistic masterpiece Bladerunner, the indie darling Sex, Lies, and Videotape, or the academic favorites Raging Bull and Blue Velvet. Leave aside the fact that Diner served as the launching pad for the astonishingly durable careers of Barkin, Paul Reiser, Steve Guttenberg, Daniel Stern, and Timothy Daly, plus Rourke and Bacon—not to mention Levinson, whose résumé includes Rain Man, Bugsy, and Al Pacino’s recent career reviver, You Don’t Know Jack. Diner’s groundbreaking evocation of male friendship changed the way men interact, not just in comedies and buddy movies, but in fictional Mob settings, in fictional police and fire stations, in commercials, on the radio. In 2009, The New Yorker’s TV critic Nancy Franklin, speaking about the TNT series Men of a Certain Age, observed that “Levinson should get royalties any time two or more men sit together in a coffee shop.” She got it only half right. They have to talk too.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Blind Banter

Unlike Turkey or deer hunting, where being still and quiet is paramount, duck and goose hunting affords the hunters a chance to talk. Once you are set up in the blind, once the decoy spread is just so, once the guns are loaded and ready, once the dogs are settled, you wait. You wait for the honk of geese or the dark shape zipping by that is a group of mallards circling for a look. At those moments the only words you want to hear are "Take 'em."

But in the interludes, you can talk. You have a couple of hours in the blind with your son or your buddies. Talk ranges from politics to ribald jokes to child rearing and hunting stories. You talk about books and movies and game recipes; you talk about dog training and marital issues(perhaps the similarities of same) and you talk about sports and upcoming hunts and maybe even work. In this era of smart phones and Blackberries and text and tweets and other electric connective artificial urgency and static, it is a treat to be in the blind in the outdoors where the sounds eminate  fom nature and from the hushed offering of your blind mates. The quiet talk in the blind is comfortable and genuine. It is the talk of sportsmen and fathers and sons and friends. These exchanges are part of the memory and the enjoyment of hunting as much as the sweet crossing shot at thirty yards on a wood duck or the two geese you drop with two shots when a group of 5 has their gear down and is dropping into the spread.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


 When I bring home game, I enjoy making an event out of dining on the fruits of the labor a-field. My wife takes great pleasure in creating the "table-scape" to compliment the meal. She watches the cooking channels and with some inspiration found there has become very creative and skilled at creating a canvas upon which we can paint a delicious game dinner.
 I posted earlier about the wild boar one of my friends shot. As I was the recipient of about 50 pounds of wild pig meat, we have had several fine meals from this bounty. A few weeks ago I labored for several hours to cook another huge  batch of wild boar ragu. My wife set this beautiful table for 8 and we invited some like minded souls who would enjoy the boar.
We began with cocktails and some appetizers. I made some wild duck mini empanadas to accompany the drinks and my wife made figs stuffed with Gruyere and wrapped in bacon. A flash under the broiler yielded a second delicious pre-dinner offering. At table, we began with a plated Ceasar wrapped in proscuitto with shaved sharp provolone. The ragu was served on paperdelle wide pasta. Some full bodied red wines were offered by the guests and Sarcones seeded peasant loaves rounded out the meal. Judged by the slurping and grunting and lack of conversation during the entree, everyone loved the boar and seconds were demnaded by most. Eat what you kill....and now and then do it in an elegant fashion. Cheers!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Sportsman's Lair

 When we first looked at this house some 15 years ago, there was one feature that really grabbed me. Behind the house is a small two story barn. Here in Pennsylvania we call it a "bank barn" because it is built iinto the side of a hill so one side is 1 story and ground level and the other side is two stories. The structure had electric and decent windows but no insulation and only barn board walls.
 As the realtor showed us around the property, I had this vision in mind. I saw an office and a small bar and a poker area. A place for my gun safe and my taxidermy. What popular culture now refers to as the "man cave" was in my imagination. I was determined to execute and make reality of my imagiend refuge.
 With some help from a few tradesman friends and some long weekends of work, and numerous trips to Home Depot, the space was finished. Some Craigslist luck and a few Flea Market scores furnished the place to complete my vision. The cable was installed and I was in business.You may note the custom installed vent over the poker table to eradicate the cigar smoke generated by the degenerate gamblers who often assemble here. There is a fridge behind the bar,an ice maker and 2 TV's for sports viewing.
I do use the desk for getting caught up on my legal work. The poker table gets a fair amount of action as Friday night games with the boys can be raucous and loud. The leather sofa is a perch for watching the Eagles or taking a nap. The 2 guns safes hold all my shotguns and deer rifles.I also collect hunting related beer paraphenalia and have some pretty nice old lighted beer signs featuring hunting scenes. Now and then I will meet with a client here...a client who does not want to venture into Center City.
When creating this space I had a vision of Wade Hunnicut's den from "Home From the Hill"  and I think he would approve.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Color War..or the battle for the Colby Cup.

 For my friend's 50th birthday we were all up in the Adirondacks. Being on Lake Colby is referred to by my firend's parents, and by those who Summer in the Adrondacks as bieng "at Camp." So, when we were trying to come with a plan to celebrate the man's 50th, I hit on a "Color War" theme which is certainly suited to a "camp" atmosphere.
 My wife and I and my friend's wife busied ourselves with the planning. We had T-shirts made for a green team and a gray team.We organized competitive events and kept score. The two teams were competing for the coveted "Colby Cup."
 The events featured traditional "camp" activities. We had an archery competition, air rifle shoot, swimming relay event and the ever popular water ballon toss and egg-on-a -spoon relay.

 On the evening of the competition, the scores were tallied. After dinner we presented the Colby Cup to the winning team. There were also seperate medals and small trophys for "least improved"  and "most team spirit"  and high gun/bow for the shooting events.

There was ample "thrill of victory" and a smidgen of "agony of defeat." There were  laughs and high fives and hugs. The weather was quintessential Adirondack North Country beautiful with bright sun and no hunidity. The lobsters at the award dinner were delicious and my friend truly enjoyed this unique birthday celebration.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Merry Christmas To Me

I have posted before on the subject of Rail Bird hunting. I have also posted about my favorite sporting artist A.B. Frost. Recently, I was fortunate to find a print of one of Frost's Rail Bird hunt paintings. I could not help myself...I had to have it. The price was reasonable. The framing job was fairly weak and I will have that re-done but that flaw would not dissuade me from pulling the trigger. I rationalized that this was merely an early Christmas gift to myself.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Thanks Dave

The burden of law school study was often lightened by this man's music on my turntable. After law school when I owned the Jazz Club, Brubeck's airy riffs went well with a late night whiskey after the patrons were sent home and the musicians hung around the bar in their version of happy hour at 2:30 A.M. One of the old Philly piano players once looked over the rim of his Remy and said to me:" Figures you'd love bein' a white boy an' all...but man could he swing and you do have taste." I was saddened today to hear of Dave's passing.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Century Mark

When crafting a post the other day I was astonished to note that I now have 100 followers. I suppose this is no tremendous accomplishment given the hoards of followers dedicated to some other more substantial and varied (and clearly more well written Blogs.) Nevertheless, I am gratified that there are enough readers of my gibberish to make up a Century in the Roman Army. Well, that is technically not correct as I recall from an ancient history class at Lehigh that a Century was typically only 80 soldiers...but you get the point.
So, to the faithful few I appreciate your attention and tolerance. I particularly appreciate your comments (despite the fact that I had to switch to comment authentication because previously I was getting relentless e-mail spam offering me discounted Ambien and Viagra.)
I likewise appreciate the opportunity to meet some of you. When I started writing this nonsense I had no notion that there were so many people out there offering up such excellent prose and great photos. The chance to  quaff a few cocktails or break bread with the like-minded or interesting authors of other Blogs has been a unique and enjoyable experience. You guys keep up the good work and as long as I am pointing my shotgun at stuff and blathering on about Steeplechase racing and Football and gambling and rum...I will keep up my marginal scribblings. Here's to the 100 (pint of ice cold Yuengling Lager raised to pie-hole and gulped.)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Working Off the Turkey and Stuffing

Sometimes the outing is more about the dog than the shooting. On the day after Thanksgiving I took my pal Carl over to southern Salem County, NJ for a duck hunt. Carl moved to Ohio several years ago but grew up here in the Delaware Valley. He comes east each year to see his clan for Thanksgiving and the visit gives us an excuse to load the guns and take to the Blinds. In recent years, the day after Thanksgiving has been warm and sunny and thus not great waterfowl conditions.

On these "bluebird" is  less hunting and more taking the decoys for a boat ride down at the delaware Club. So this year some guys had arranged a duck release shoot at M&M Preserve. I secured a spot for Carl and I so I could garuntee him some shooting and garuntee some work for my new dog Genna. I alternated shooting and working the dog so Carl could get some trigger time. The birds were plentiful and quite "wild" and there was  challeneging shots and fast passes at each blind. Genna did a splendid job marking the downed birds and was in the water more than she was out. She even caught scent of a bird deep in the marsh that was wounded and missed. We were walking back to the truck along a marsh path when Gennna became birdy and excited along a mud flat. I let here roam and she slopped over the mud and into the tall Fragmitis and came out with a Mallard hen...a great job and she impressed the crew.

The shoot was over at about 4:00 and by 6:30 we were at Germantown Cricket Club clad  in  whites and on the squash court after a gym warm up. Carl is an experienced raquet baller and bested me in squash to my surprise...though I took it easy on him a bit; we were in it for the work-out and not the score. After a sauna and shave we hit the tap room to meet up with my wife and some of our high school friends that were in town for the Holiday. It was a great Sportsman's day and I was proud of my  Genna. She is showing great promise as a quality watefowler and lovely blind companion.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Football in the Fall

 These are guys you have known since the Fall of '81. You rushed with them, went to the games,studied,pulled pranks and pledged. These are the guys with whom you stumbled around "The Hill" on a Friday night hitting 7 of 8 raging fraternity parties and guzzling Old Mil' and Hamm's from 12 ounce cups.You flirted with girls from Cedar Crest at IFC cocktails every Friday afternoon wearing sport coats and khakis and ties. You did road trips and hit Linderman Library, played squash and pinball and "zooled" in the woods behind Chi Phi. You went to class hung-over and crammed for exams. It was a glorious time.

These guys have names from the college days like: Cave, Spike, Schwabey,Beeter, Wighty,Kipper,Divits and Blue. Some of us from different years barely know each other's real names to this day...we sure do not use them if we do. Decades later  we immediately fall into the same patterns and banter from the first beer to the 4th quarter. This is Lehigh/Lafayette.
You worked hard and played hard. You graduated. We all come back. When the Lehigh v. Lafayette game is on enemy turf, we leave the wives and kids at home. On game day we angle a tailgate spot on the streets near the stadium in Easton. Once again we are laughing and guzziling beers. The grill is lit, the laughing takes over after the news about families and kids and who did not make it today and why...and how much of a pussy they are for failing to do so.

 Sneaking booze and beer into the stadium is an art, a science and a tradition.Note the flask in the Sportsman's mit...a  nip of fine Bourbon while watching Lehigh football on a chilly November afternoon.
 "Greekers" were cheap hot dogs slathered with chili sauce, onions and mustard sold by little lunch-counter joints in South Bethlehem and available at 3 A.M. after you stumbled out of the Fraternity parties and off "The Hill." So named as a nod by the proprieters to the Fraternity trade that was a constant flow of revenue. At the away games I re-create the "Greeker" for the boys at the tailgate. Always a hit, the fare acts as a utilitarian "beer sponge" for the drinks at the tailgate and the ones smuggled into the stadium and the pitchers consumed at the bar back in Bethlehem after the game.
 You and the boys cheer and high five the touchdowns. This is a grudge match football's most played rivalry. You cheer louder than a regular really want a win.This year Lehigh once again triumphed. It was a close game in the 1st half...but the Lehigh boys ran away with it after that.

The Lehigh faithful flood the field at the end of the game. In the old days we rushed the goal posts and tore 'em down. That tradition is best left for another post.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Salutations

Dressed in that get-up, I doubt Marilyn would have to do much calling. The birds would flock to her. Well, at least any hunters in the vicinity would be drawn in. It is doubtful that the old hammer gun blunderbuss would be operable so the fetching Pilgrim would have to rely on wit to fend off the camo'd suitors.

Here is wishing fellow bloggers a fine day and a fine feast. Enjoy your family and friends. Buck season opens here in PA on Monday so be safe. I have to be in court Monday so I will defer deer hunting until later in the week. If the weather is not 60 and sunny on Friday I will be in the duck blind. If it is a "blue-bird" day I will shoot some clays and train the dog rather than just taking the decoys for a ride. In the meantime, dinner for 12 tomorrow and a 17 lb free range to brine and roast. Cheers!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Random Acts of Spirit

 One of the things I always liked about the week leading up to the Lehigh v. Lafayette game was the campus-wide atmosphere of school spirit. Here we see a "flash-mob" type spirit disply. A contingent of Lehigh's band...The Marching 97....barges into a classroom and starts a rousing,brassy,blaring rendition of the Lehigh fight song. From the stuff on the chalkboard it seems this is an engineering class or some other highly technical stuff way above the sportsman's pay the effort may have been lost on the two Asian kids in the front row who plan to spend game day accelerating a particle or some shit.

Nevertheless, the tone on campus was and is always ramped up. There are still bonfires and attempts to deface the opposing school statues and sunrise cocktails on the morning of the game. The fraternities rent buses to hit the away games and I have fond (but  episodic) memories of washing down stale donuts with 101 proof Wild Turkey at 8:30 A.M in the back of the bus with the boys on the way over to Easton.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


The Sportsman Channel circulates some great stuff. This list of skills can be honed in a duck blind, on a deer stand or walking a cornfield. These are all things I hope my son aquires during the time I spend hunting with him...whether they come from me or just from the experince. This is just one more reason to pass on the rituals and traditions of hunting.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Rivalry

 Once again the Lehigh faithful are gearing up for "The Rivalry." For those who do not know "The Rivalry" or have not read my prior posts, "The Rivalry" is the yearly football game between Lehigh University and Lafayette College. As previously noted, and as is common knowledge to Alumni of both schools, the is the most played rivalry in College football history. More than Army/Navy or Harvard/Yale or Ohio State/Michigan.
This Saturday will be the 148th meeting of the two teams. The kick-off will be at Fisher field in Easton...Lafayette's turf. This Sportsman will be loading the cooler with Yeungling and filling the flask with Whiskey and making the trip. A contingent of Lehigh boys will gather, without the wives and kids that taiolgate with us at home games. We will swill beer, sip whiskey, cheer for our team and enjoy a Fall afternoon of college football. Despite the fact that our crew have all been "alumni" for 20 plus years...on the afternoon of Lehigh v. Lafayette...even one in his mid-40's feels like a College junior when at the game. Sadly for one's liver, we tend to drink like college juniors during this period of faux youthful exuberance...and pay with interest the next day. A few years ago I returned home very late from the Easton...coming off a lovely toot of game day beers and shots and post-game cocktails back at the Fraternity House... messed up...mustard and ketchup stains on the front of the LEHIGH sweatshirt...swaying slightly,cigar butt in mouth and sheepish grin across face. My ever tolerant wife...who has been to many a Lehigh v. Lafayette game herself...but never away...took one look at me and exclaimed:" Guest Room."

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Quaker City Prize Fights

In a previous post I noted that one of the boxers I manage, Heavyweight Joey Cusumano, had been sparring with Bryant Jennings. Jennings is a highly talented and tough Philly kid who is rising in the ranks of the heavyweight division. He is slated to fight for the USBA Heavyweight Title on december 8th here in Philadelphia. You can be certain that this Sportsman and his client will be seated ringside to watch this bout and study the form, technique and tactics of Mr. Jennings.

Tickets are available through Peltz Boxing. The venue is at Temple University and should afford great views and an exciting atmosphere.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Stick a Fork In 'Em

Turning away from the pollsters and Network talking heads and prognosticators, I have to lament the state of our NFL team. 3-5 after a pathetic showing on Monday night football. We have to suffer through another lame press conference of wheezing and "gotta do a better job" from our bloated arrogant and arguably inept coach. This season is shaping up to be a real disaster, Mike Vick could be greviously injured based on how he is being treated by opposing sackers, and there is a demand for regime change. Is the owner listiening or have a clue?
What really hurts is the NHL situation. Here in the Quaker City we do not even have the Flyers to salve our sports psyche.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Trick-No Treat

                       The first portion of our local waterfowl season usually finds Mid-Atlantic hunters sitting in the blind in little more than a long sleeved camo t-shirt and a fleece vest. Late October can offer temps in the mid 60's on opening day. One may even have to swat the odd misquito that lingers in the marsh.   
Fast forward to mid-January. You are sitting in a goose pit and it is cold. "Colder than a grave digger's ass" as my grandfather used to say. You are wearing thermal long underwear under fleece lined gore-tex camo pants and boots with 1000 of Thinsulate. Your coat is high tech camo inuslation from Cabelas.You are sporting a fleece camo hat. You have $35.00 gloves on your hands. Sadly, after sitting all morning in a goose pit or duck blind, your hands can still get cold. Cold hands can lead to bad shooitng. Cold feet can lead to a miserable experience. Many of the hunting catalogues offer expensive propane heating devices tailored to waterfowl hunters. Rather than mess with compressed gas I stick to a trick I learned from one of the old guys in my hunting Club.
    The trick is simple and cheap. Get an old coffee can..remove the label, cut the top off and place a can of sterno inside. With the sterno lit you can place the can on the bench seat of the blind or in on a shekf in front. The sterno generates enough heat to do the job. Sterno can be found at the grocery store or a hardware store. This set up provides plenty of warmth to toast up your hands or toes and is cheap, light weight and reasonably foolproof. You can even put a piece of chicken wire over the top and heat up your tea or coffee if the thermos is losing the thermodynamic battle. When the damp wind is wipping across the marsh or field and the temperature is 19 degrees, holding your digits over this little device can be the difference between a good and bad hunt.   

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Opening Day-Duck Season

   5:30 A.M. comes pretty early when you sit around the table sipping Bourbon and laughing with the boys until Midnight. But once you rub the residual effects from your eyes upon remember it is opening day and excitement takes over. For me, this was especially true because I am breaking in my new dog Genna. This was to be her first official duck hunt. I had trained her from the blinds with shot and call and dummies. Nevertheless, you want to see how the dog performs under game-time conditions. Suffice it to say she performed admirably. The shooting of the guys in the blind...not so much.
   The conditions were good. The birds were there. The hunters were perhaps rusty. It ain't easy to get the lead when the ducks are screaming by with wind behind them. It is a tough pass shooting challenge. We knocked a few down but missed a few. Said misses lead to good natured critique and jokes which passes the time in the blind. It is all part of waterfowling. The wood ducks on my tailgate are testament to a few accurate shots.

   The evening before the hunt found the Club Members around the dining room table. We dined from Spode sporting motif plates I donated to the club which you can see in the photo.This china  classes up the table setting a bit. The table topics ran to off season fishing, some Obama bashing,rail bird hunting, haggling and arguing about blind assgnments for the morning and how to distribute hunters with dogs so each blind had  a retriver. The approach of "Sandy" was also of interest and the World Series also got some air time.
  Genna was a delight in the blind and I think she has loads of potential. I hope to get another day of huntng in before this short firat season closes. Stay tuned.

Monday, October 29, 2012


While the Eastern Seaboard battens down to deal with Sandy, some Americans carry on. A friend of mine sent me this photo of the Old Guard performing their duty at the Tomb in this nasty weather. This is a picture of dedication and adherance to duty and a ceaseless show of respect. I find this inspiring and humbling.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Opening Day

    We had "early teal" season last month. Tomorrow the regular duck season opens in Delaware. I will be down at the Club early this afternoon. I will try and get in a little dog training before the crowd arrives.

   I will be preparing dinner for the members...a traditional eve of the opener repast. The menu is roasted Virginia ham, mac n cheese that I made from scratch last night, collared greens with porter and molasses and home made corn bread. Certainly there will be cocktails before dinner and Bourbon will be poured.

   After dinner I suspect there will be interest in the World Series on the big screen and I will shoot some pool with the Gunnery Sergeant while watching. We will draw for blinds and be ready for shooting 1/2 hour before sunrise. We also have to check the decoys, bag a few dozen for transport and make sure we have oars and life jackets lined up for each boat at each blind.

   The weather will be warm. The tide should be cooperative. Now, if only the birds will be as well.