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.