Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wildlife at The Park

One of the great pleasures of living at The Park is great diversity of wildlife.

We are blessed with all manner of bird life, including all but one of Missouri's game birds. We have turkey, quail, geese, ducks, doves, no pheasant. Blackbirds, red birds, blue birds, song birds, herons and raptors. In the winter eagles are not uncommon. In summer hawks, and year round, my favorites the owls.

We have reptiles and amphibians, snakes, turtles, frogs, lizards.

Furry animals too. Foxes, coyote, hedgehogs, raccoon, possum, all frequent our yard.

But best and worst of all are the white tailed deer.

Mrs. T and I have two families of deer which frequent our yard. The photo above was taken from our bedroom window yesterday afternoon.

I really like watching them, and as a gardener I truly despise them. A hungry animal will eat anything.

Unfortunately, the only predator they have are car bumpers. Its a daily occurrence to see dead deer on the side of the road. While unfortunate for the deer, its really expensive and unbelievably traumatic to hit one of these beasts.

Local communities have no idea what to do about the problem. There is an unanimity of believe that there are too many deer, and a wide disagreement about what to do about them. Mayberry has gone so far as to allow homeowners to hunt, bow only, on their property.

Beginning within the next week or so, about every ten days, until the season starts, someone will stop by and offer to hunt on our land for us. The answer is always NO. We have become attached to those who share our land, just so long as they don't run into us.

Be safe, its deer mating season. Also, while stopping by, stop in and say hello.


Monday, September 29, 2008

Satchel Paige's Rules for Right Living

You youngsters may not know of Leroy "Satchel" Paige. Satch was one of the greatest players to ever play professional baseball. Unfortunately, for America, most of his career was spent in the Negro Leagues, as black athletes were banned from Major League Baseball. Satchel's light was never hidden under a bushel though, and he pitched his last professional game in 1965 where he threw a 3 inning shutout for the Kansas City Athletics (remember the kelly green and gold uniforms?). Mr Paige was 60 years old. http://www.satchelpaige.com/index.html

A natural philosopher Mr. Paige is credited with these Rules for Right Living. They are as applicable now when they were born.

Satchel Paige's Rules For Right Living

Avoid fried foods which angry up the blood.

If your stomach disputes you, lie down and pacify it with cooling thoughts.

Keep the juice flowing by jangling around gently as you move.

Go very lightly on the vices, such as carrying on in society-The social ramble ain't restful.

Avoid running at all times.

Don't look back, something may be gaining on you.

Have a great weekend.


Painting by Jessica Gandolf

Sunday, September 28, 2008

coliseum part 2

You know the saying, "if you don't get I can't explain it to you"? Never have truer words ever been spoken when it applies to me and football. I could use a lot of snarky comparisons, and nasty comments about me and football, but the truth is , I'm glad it is there for people who like it.

So for the first time in 33 years Mrs. T and I went to the local NFL game. The first half team played pretty well. The second half team was the second string football team from the local music conservatory.

My, did the fans humor change, quickly, as the half time lead crumbled, and the out of towners won.

In case the locals lost because I was there, and I jinxed them, I promise to never again attend.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sunday at the Coliseum

So Mrs. T comes home today, and says to me " Honey, I've got a surprise for you. I was accosted while out by our good friend (who shall remain nameless) and she gave me 2 tickets for Sunday's football game, in the company suite, free food, free drinks and free parking, wanna go?" .

As I have publically admitted, I am not a football fan, and the last game I can accurately remember attending was the Sunday before Thanksgiving 1975. I wanna go Sunday, why?

Let me tell you why. I always enjoy watching the lions eat the christians. The local team is hapless, and the media have been out for the coach's head for the past month. I've long felt underdogs should be kicked. Hard. The locals will be routed, the fans will be bloodthirsty, it's gonna be ugly. A near perfect fall Sunday.

Now if I can just get over my dislike of crowds, noise, football and whiney multi-millionares.

More later!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Picks, Pans and other nuisances

NIGHTS IN RODANTHE: As my bonus daughter says, "I feel, that I see too many chick flix". That's not all bad, in fact it could be plausibly argued that when it is my turn to pick our date movies, I choose as many weepers as not. I know what is good for me.

So, this evening it seems I picked "Nights in Rodanthe" with Richard Gere, and Dianne Lane. I ask honestly, except for perhaps, An Officer and a Gentleman, and Pretty Woman has Richard Gere made a movie worth seeing twice? Most are even safely missable the first time.

In our house, the rating scale finds "The Deep End of the Ocean" at the nadir, I wanted to slash my wrists when I came out of there, to Sleepless, An affair to remember or perhaps even..., at the top Nights in Rodanthe while not bad, is not the weeper its made out to be. Guys don't go. I made an inappropriate comment at the very end and left the theatre in fear of my life. I'd rank it somewhere around "Message in a Bottle".

ANOTHER IRRITANT: Cost based shipping
I do a lot of on line buying. I'd rather avoid the mall, and do not really enjoy shopping. Generally, I know what I want, search on line for the best price, and let the mailman carry my treasures home for me. I understand the shopping can be fun, even sport, but leave me out, please.

The explosive growth of EBAY has done for shipping costs, what multiple the long distance companies did for LD costs. Drove the price to near zero. So why do so many companies base shipping costs on the value of your purchase. The more you spend the more you pay? I think not. I expect to have no influence in this matter, but I notified and have stopped buying from merchants who continue this practice.

I find I may be becoming too old to enjoy E's The Soup. While I do enjoy watching, sometimes its just too much for my taste. But, have you ever seen The Dish, Saturday nights, on E's sister channel, Style? Covers much of the same territory, but bit less snarky, and more girl oriented.

Have a great weekend.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Beware the Garment Merchant

Friends: periodically, Google runs ads, with my permission, on the side banner of the To The Manner Born blog site. Mostly they are harmless enough, but one today stuck in my craw. It was for the "The Garment Merchant".

Avoid them at all costs. I know from personal experience that they are crooks and thieves. Don't even follow the link.

You have been warned. Save yourself from yourself

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Dating tips for Gentlemen, Part 1: first dates

It may be reasonably asked, Toad you're old and married, where do you get off giving dating tips? Let me answer this way. Consider it a public service announcement. Also, because I am older, wiser, more experienced, and have more common sense than you.

Like all rules, some of these are made to be broken. I have ignored them all over the years and lived to tell the tale. That is not a strong recommendation, for dismissing them out of hand.

Also, let me suggest the following before reading. These may, or may not, apply to boy-boy, girl-girl encounters. I am blissfully ignorant of such goings on. Additionally, I believe the following to be true. If you are unemployed, you probably shouldn't be dating. Unemployment saps the self confidence and self confidence is vitally important on a first date. Secondly, married women are out of bounds, to gentlemen, at all times.

My 10 Commandments

1. There is an implied contract when asking a woman for a date. The implication is that you are an interesting person, and believe that she may also be a person of interest, and you are willing to find that out, by asking for a date. If she accepts she too is interested.

In short, the first date is about her.

2. Primp: A day or so before the date, call and tell her exactly where she is going, and what she is going to do. Then lay out your clothes. Are they clean, do they fit, do they need pressing? Shine your shoes.

I admit a certain embarrassment in mentioning this, but much observation makes me tell you, to shower, shave, brush your teeth, comb your hair and make yourself presentable. There is absolutely nothing wrong in being the best dressed man, wherever you are going.

Ever watch your sister get ready for a date? The girls spend a lot more time getting ready than you. Honor your date by looking your best.

3. Wash your car, get gas, go to the ATM before you pick her up. You asked her, you're paying, no questions asked. Turn off your car radio when you get to her house. You have different tastes in music. Don't kill your chances here.

4. Be prepared for anything when you knock on her door. She may live at home, so you may get to meet her parents. Perhaps she has young children. Be polite, be interested. Don't kick her cat.

5. Turn off your cell phone, or at least set it on vibrate. If you answer it you die. This date is about you two. It's not important to know that your friends have found the bar where the fashion week models hang out. Your not going there, you have plans for the evening.

6. Be a gentleman. Help her with her coat, open her door, open the car door, walk around the front of the car, get in. When you arrive, open her car door, assist her as needed.

Perhaps this sounds really out of touch, but let me explain. Its good manners. You are trying to stand out from the crowd. Show early on that you are at least semi-evolved. It will pay dividends later.

7. There is only the two of you. You are both adults. You each have baggage, you have dated before. It's not important for her to know tonight that you regularly date the Cowboys cheerleaders. You don't want to find out tonight that she regularly dates pro football players.

She accepted your offer of a date, because she has some interest in getting to know you. Women are the civilizing influence in our culture. She is not going out with you solely because you are male and breathing. Show some respect. Listen to her, she doesn't want to hear your complaints about old girlfriends.

8. Send a text message tonight, and the date is OVER. She has my permission to either shove your IPHONE unlubricated up your ass, or ask to be taken home immediately. You will take either quietly and deservedly.

9. There are less than 6 degrees of separation. Regardless of where you live, your circle intersects hers somewhere.

Before your date, she told everyone she knows that she was going out with you. This was for two reasons. To find out something about you, and for bragging rights. After the date, she will again talk with everyone she knows about your date. If you are a bounder, your dating pool will quickly become polluted. Even if you were not the right guy for her, if you comported your self well, she will tell everyone that sadly you two didn't click, but that you were a good pick up for someone else.

10. Sometimes miracles happen. Keep a fresh one in your wallet and use it Don't forget to call the next day.

I await your comments. In your heart you know I'm right.


J L Powell

I am still saddened when I think of those heartless so and so's of Lands End who in 1999 pulled the plug on Willis and Geiger. For those youngsters out there W&G was one of the worlds premier expedition outfitter. In the 20th century, if you were going on safari, exploring, or just into rugged gear, one of your first stops was W&G.

In 1980 Willis and Geiger sold their business to Lands End. (For those who don't recall, LE was originally a supplier to the sailing trade) LE, propably bought the company for their cache, made a go of it for a while and what few of their catalogs I still have were feasts for the imagination.

A year or so ago I came across a company that is attempting to pick up where W&G left off. It is J L Powell. J L Powell are purveyors of what they refer to as "the sporting life".

They have picked up a little from J Peterman's catalog and Ralph in that most of their goods come with a story of some kind or another. Some border on a stretch of the truth, some are meerly fanciful. Not for the faint of wallet, their stuff looks pretty good. It's a way off for me though. http://jlpowellusa.com/


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Paean

Many years ago now, Mrs. T and I were seated with 2 gentlemen from Louisville, at a banquet of some kind. As evenings like that go, a lot of stories were told, glasses were raised, lies were swapped and friendships forged. I have no idea who those two were, but I to this day I remember the most overserved one's parting comment. He told us, that "if the gods have created something more wonderful than women, they haven't yet deemed to share it with us". I know he was right.

This humble forum may be most unsuitable, but I want to spend this time to to honor the many women in my life who have taken many pains to make me the man I became. I was a horrible as their student, sorely disappointing to all who picked me up when I fell down, carried me when I couldn't manage myself, consoled me when I screwed up, counseled me when I didn't want it and needed counselling, taught me, corrected me, loved me and forgave me. Repeatedly.

I said, I was a horrible student. Remember the old story? 1st man says "I should have listed to my mother" 2nd man"What she say?" 1st man "I don't know I wasn't listening." 1st man may have speaking about me.

I may not have immediately taken their consul, but I must have internalized it, because I eventually got it. It may have taken 45% of my anticipated lifetime, but I got it, finally. I hope to honor those women every day, by being the man I was meant to be, and they knew I could be.

Today, I am the happiest married boy that ever was. Each day I wake up I am happier than I was the day before. It's an extraordinary feeling.

To those wonderful women, I am genuinely sorry, and apologize for what I did not do sooner. I sincerely thank you too. I needed you then and without you I wouldn't be here now.


Monday, September 22, 2008

First Day of Autumn

Welcome first day of autumn!

The first day of fall is one of those renewal kinds of days that roll around several times per year. Its time to begin to get the yard in shape before the leaves fall. Around here that means flagging the half buried tree stumps so the lawn mower has an opportunity to save himself when the leaves have covered the ground.

It's also time to prep the gutters and downspouts, fill in cracks, insulate where necessary. An hour or so now can save a fortune later in the winter.
For better or worse it is also time to begin thinking of holiday shopping. The weather is much better now for shopping, or at least list making, than in mid December.

The best part is that it is the season for apple cider and candy apples. Most people put a couple of pounds on over the holidays. I don't ususally. I do it between now and Halloween, my favorite time of the year.


Friday, September 19, 2008

Be Nice Day

Our friend the Preppy Engineer has declared September 19th as Be NiceDay.
For further details check here http://www.preppyengineer.blogspot.com/ I wholly recommend such a day. One little word of encouragement at the right time can change someone's life. We do not have the right to squander the opportunity.

And now for something completely different. It's becoming wide wale cord season. The cloth of Kings. I like cords and wear them year round. I picked these up on Ebay yesterday. For the past several years I have grown a penchant for embroidered cords. They go well with tweed jackets or just a sweater. Pair them with dirty bucks, or chukka boots or brown suede loafers and you have the perfect fall outfit.

Looks great on girls too.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Link Cuffs

What's a man to do when he loves wearing cuff links, but hates wearing French (double) cuffs?

The answer as you may have guessed is called a link cuff, and it is easy to accomplish. A link cuff is a single length shirt cuff which instead of having a button and buttonhole, has two buttonholes. Therefore you have the benefit of cufflinks without the bulk of double cuffs.

French cuffed shirts are the most formal of men's business shirts, and are only to be worn with a suit, link cuffs can be as formal (they are the only acceptable cuff for daytime formal wear), or casual as you like depending upon the shirt style you choose. The beauty of the link cuff variation is that you can break several mens style rules at once.

-You can wear cuff links with a blazer or sport coat. American stylists deeply frown on this. It is seemingly acceptable in Britian and Europe though.

-You can wear cuff links with a button down shirt. Absolutely no one sells button downs with french cuffs off the rack.

-You have the opportunity to create your own fashion style. You will never meet someone else wearing a link cuff. There is a price for being different though. It takes a bit of nonchalance, or sprezzatura, as the Italians say, to pull this off with aplomb.

So, how do you get it. Very simple! Take your favorite shirt to your cleaners and ask them to remove the buttons from your cuff and sew in buttonholes. Most will do it for a very small change. Soon, you'll be asking your tailor to make them especially for you. He'll balk at first, but eventually he'll come around.

These are dangerous times, its time to try something new.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Oregon forest fires

As I mentioned several weeks ago, number 2 son is a forest fire fighter in Oregon. I spoke with him last night for the first time in several weeks. This week, he is at a fire close to his home forest service base. I have something of a simpleton midwesterners understanding of Oregon, but I was stunned to see how high the temps are and how low the humidity.
This is a link to his current fire:


He is rather bummed, but school starts Monday, so his last day on the fire line is Saturday. I will sleep much sounder when he gets out of the forest and back into his books.

About the creek rising. Monday was an exciting day around our house. 140 tons of rock were delivered and spread to shore up our seeping lake and support the roadway. All is currently well.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ted the Wonderdog

This is Ted the Wonderdog. Ted is a soft coated Wheaton Terrior, and has been a member of our family for almost 10 years. These pictures are somewhat unusual in that they show Ted awake. I haven't seen him awake in almost a year, and have often joked that, heaven forbid, should he wake up and find his legs had fallen off it wouldn't slow him in the least.

After the events of the past several days perhaps a long nap is in order. Keep the shiny side up, and wear a smile.


Monday, September 15, 2008

The creek did rise

Who'd a thunk? A mere 5 inches of rain in 6 hours washed out the culvert protecting The Park from the outside world. Yes, a man can be an island, and so can his house. Once again I tried to stress how invaluable a Rover would be in such trying circumstances, but to no avail.
Fortunately, I was able to contact our good friend and renowned fishing guide, Mike. Mike is one of the two or three people, in our lives, who make living in the woods possible. Mike quickly organized a rescue crew and should have the drive repaired and the dam shored up before the end of the day.

It's a shame we haven't any small grandsons. Its going to be a fun day with a lot of Bob the Builders friends. Big trucks, bob cats, rock. A boy's paradise. If you have any little ones bring them by.

Going to have to put off the trip to the tailor, at least until Wednesday.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Odds and Ends

1.. Who is Rue La La and why does he send the UPS man to my house several times a week?

Mrs. T, looking over my shoulder, tells me that this is an invitational shopping site which schedules and holds sales of name brand goods,both high and mid end, in limited numbers. Participants are invited to access the site. I am not shilling for RLL, but if you are interested I'm sure that Mrs T will hook you up. Happy Holidays!

2. Will KU's athelic director rethink his scheduling policy. 99% of the large school football teams fill their early season non-conference schedules with patsies, its good for the economy. Not only does KU schedule a fairly tough school, they have the temerity to lose. What really upsets me is that #1 son and I generally wager $1mm per game, double or nothing, and we forgot to this week. Now I get to take KU against Sam Houston State.

3. I am an inveterate people watcher, and have long been troubled by the following. Very often I will see young couples out and about, in what passes for a date these days. Invariably, the girl is well turned out, for the evening. He looks like he just rolled out of bed.

I realize that women dress to impress other women, but if just one time she said to the slob, go home and change I'll wait for you. The world would become a better place. If two women did it, it would start a movement, if 50 women a day.....

End of my rant.



I am writing today in praise of Craigslist, and recommend it to everyone. #2 son told me about a year or two ago, and I did nothing about it.

Several months ago though, there was something I needed, and further prodding by my lovely daughter forced me to take a look. I loved it.

I have been a regular EBAY user for the past several years, but each time I did I became slightly more aggravated with it. The items were rarely accurately described, and as often as not I got the feeling the goods were either stolen or counterfeit. It just kind of left a sour taste in my mouth.

To date Mrs. T and I have found 4 things on Craigslist and have been very happy with each item, and have made several friends and met some wonderful people along the way. I still look every day for the Range Rover, which I will probably never buy, but do enjoy looking for.

I did find this though: http://manofmode.blogspot.com/


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Toad of Toad Hall

This little guy representing my namesake, Toad of Toad Hall, is a hood ornament on an early Rolls Royce Silver Ghost, circa 1915. The owner doesn't wish too many details disclosed, but the mascot has sat proudly on the radiator cap for many years.

It is alleged that Diana, POW had this version of the little guy on the bonnet of her first car. The House of Windsor has no sense of humor and had it removed, when she became an item. Too bad.

I have considered it for Camilla, but it somehow seems out of place. She can be yours though through Louis LeJeune for about $450 US.

The Winner

Thank you to all who played, but a winner has been selected.

It has been fairly cool lately in Mayberry, so earlier in the week I designated today as the day I would move many of my fall jackets from storage to my closet. Naturally, today was unseasonably hot, humid and overcast all day. We are promised an inch or two of rain this evening and another 3 or 4 inches tomorrow as Ike screams 800 miles north.

While moving the jackets I came across 4 yards of the fabric shown above. It is not tweed, but lambswool. I remember being somewhat disappointed when it arrived last winter, as I felt that it was dangerously close to the fabric I used in last years jacket.

This is last years coat. It is a 13 oz. "Best of Both" tweed, which I acquired through the limited edition selection through The London Lounge. I absolutely adore this coat, and became very angry with myself towards the end of the season as it, through no fault of the tailor, did not fit as well as it did earlier. I have since rectified that, for now.

So weather permitting, and if the creek don't rise, Monday I'm off, probably to copy last years coat.

However, it may open up the possibility of round two.

In the back of my mind, I am mulling over, in honor of our Scottish family member, the idea of a double breasted black watch tartan jacket for the holidays. I'm having trouble sourcing the fabric, so if you have any strong ideas one way or the other about the jacket, or have a good source for wool tartan fabric please let me know.


Friday, September 12, 2008


May I introduce another member of our family, the Hon. Camilla Parker Rolls.

Camilla is an 1977 Bentley T2, and has been my mistress for the past 8 years. I find her exceptionally discrete, elegant, but she can be dressed down and made very sporting, and to my eye very beautiful. She smells very good, doesn't object to my cigars, and like any mistress worth the title can be VERY expensive to maintain.

Unfortunately for her, I have been somewhat neglectful of her this past year. The toxic combination of $4 gasoline and her, at best, 8 miles per gallon bar bills has meant that she has seem very little road time this summer.

This afternoon though she does get to visit the salon, where a bit of primping will be sure to have her ready for the fall season. She does love to be out and about in the cool afternoons.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tom Wolfe

I have come to the party late, but I have finally arrived.

One of the first books I ever read was "The Radical Chic and Mau Mauing the Flak Catchers" by Tom Wolfe during the summer of 1969. I thought it was two of the funniest stories that could ever be told. Mr. Wolfe had his finger exactly on the pulse the the late 60's.

Somehow after that I never thought about him again. Until this summer. You may think of Mr. Wolfe only as the guy in the funny white suit. Perhaps seen him on the Simpsons, or caught him on Charlie Rose over the years. He has since become one of the greatest authors of the twentieth century.

Over the summer I have caught up on the Wolfe canon. For newcomers, start with "Hooking Up". It is a fairly recent collection of short stories and reprints of older magazine articles. After that work backwads through his book list. Each will give you a thorough grounding of the era it was written in.

I've begun collecting signed first editions. I hope he lives forever!


Photo courtesy of Todd Selby of theselby.com

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Fall is coming

Today was a perfect Fall afternoon. Sunny, light breeze, high in the low 60's. For the first time this season fall was definitly in the air.

As the change of seasons always does it got me thinking its time for a new tweed jacket.

My first choice is this number.

100% Cheviot New Wool, but about 17 ounces. May be a bit heavy, but will wear like iron.

The second choice is: Same material, same weight, same concerns

My third option is: Much lighter at about 12 onces. Seems kinda boring.

I welcome your comments and votes.


Monday, September 8, 2008

Mayberry and The Park

Let's get acquainted shall we?

Let me tell you a bit about Mayberry. Mayberry lies on the the eastern shore of the Missouri River, just a few miles, as the crow flies, from where the Big Muddy, meets the Mighty Mississippi.

It's principal claim to fame is that it is home to America's largest strip mall, and has the hubris to believe that its levees will survive the 500 year flood, that comes every 15 years or so.

Its a pretty nice place to live, and some 32,000 people call it home. The crime rate is low, but the police force is self funding.

Mrs T and I live just about in the geographic center of town. A mile to the grocery store, post office, gym, doctors office, schools and good restaurants.

Like many outer suburbs Mayberry happened almost overnight. I recall coming here 50 years or so ago to visit two of my father's aunts. These two old gals handbuilt homes side by side in the 1930's. Their houses still stand today along side a highway exit. As a kid it was an hour drive from home. Today with road improvements that would be 20 minutes tops.

Our homestead, The Park, is a product of a time long before anyone considered actually living in Mayberry. The Park was built in the waning days of the Eisenhauer administration by a family that was self reliant and wanted to get away from the crowds of the big city. The original house is a fairly small 4 over 4 southern colonial style brick pile built in the middle of the woods. It is solid, the walls are concrete, floors are oak. It has since been added to several times to meet the needs of its owners, but it still feels like the snug old farmhouse it originally was. It was also sited very well. While in the center of the community that developed around it, The Park is a million miles from anywhere.

When the trees are in leaf, you cannot see another house, hear road noise, or the screeching horns sirens and kids you hear in the city While we do share a drive with two neigbors, our nearest physical neighbor's house is a 2 + mile drive away.

As much as I adore this place I have several complaints. We live in the woods. Gardening is tough when you get very little direct sunlight during the day. Also due to our wooded location when the leaves drop in the fall, the volume of leaves to deal with is almost biblical. I have tried offering them for barter and selling them on EBAY but to no avial.

Soon I tell you about my other complaint, white tailed deer.

Be well.


Friday, September 5, 2008

Valerie and Bob

Valerie and Bob are two friends of ours who are being married this evening at the Jewel Box in Saint Louis.

I can remember when Valerie was born, it seems like yesterday. As kids do, she grew up, too quickly, went to the University of Kansas School of Architechure and met fellow student Bob.

A couple of years into the program her father would tell how she had grown from a young girl, to a woman in love. Bob may not have known it at the time, but he was the one.

Today, their life together begins with much fanfare and happiness. I hope they come to learn that in the good times as well as the bad, there are a great number of people who love them, support them and would move mountains for them. They can count us in that group.
Mrs T and I will happily and proudly be in attendance.

Have a great weekend.


Thursday, September 4, 2008


Ever seen the 1995 movie Smoke, starring Harvey Keitel and William Hurt? This is one of those quiet movies that doesn't generate a lot of buzz, but sticks in the memory of everyone who has ever seen it.

I won't spoil it for you if I let you in on the hook. Harvey Keitel portrays the owner of a Brooklyn cigar shop. Every morning as he opens the shop, he pulls out his tripod and camera, and photographs the scene outside his storefront. This was pre-digital remember.

The photograph albums he keeps of each morning's shot plays a pivitol role later in the film. Outside one little corner where nothing much happens, a great deal happens.

In memory of a great film, here is my view.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008


1958 was the true golden age of Mattel. The Fanner 50 was still selling well, and a more powerful rifle version was now available. I was a very good boy that year, and yes I got the rifle too, and a new box of bullets.

For girls, 1958 saw the introduction of the Chatty Cathy. The less said about this outrage the better, but CC was a blonde haired plastic doll that had a pull chord on her back. Pull this string and CC would shout out some random banality about how she wanted to go shopping with you, wanted her own credit card, needed refreshment, or perhaps a change of wardrobe. They sold a trillion of them.

This shrew beget Barbie, only a few years later.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Before kids had rights

In my formative years kids did not have rights, so I still have trouble with the notion of parents soliciting the opinions of children. In the olden days, parents rarely gave a moments consideration to what their kids wanted, or the safety of the toys they gave their children.

One of my favorite all time gifts was received Christmas 1957, that golden age of kids toys. Plastics were just coming available. The possibilities were endless. In that glorious bygone day, Santa brought a Mattel Fanner 50 toy pistol. Young moderns watching the video below will be aghast at the gincracks found on this baby. But I swear this is true,and widely available.

Yes in fact, it did shoot real plastic bullets, at a pretty good distance. The greenie stickem caps sucked, and I still remember attempting to peel them off the backs of the cartridges.

While I can't accurately say for sure, I do believe that this gun, and the better shooting rifle which was released the next year may have had something to do with the inception of product safety laws. You might not only put your eye out, but with luck could blind your best friend too!


Monday, September 1, 2008

Opening Day

September 1st is the tradional opening day of dove hunting season in Missouri. When I was younger this fact took away much of the sting of the return to school, the end of summer fruit, and earlier sunsets.

I haven't shot in years, but I can still conjure up every image sight and smell of getting ready for the season to open. I enjoy just about all that is involved with upland bird shooting. My favorite though is watching a brace of good bird dogs doing what they were bred to do.

Over the past few years I have spent many a fall afternoon tromping through pastures with good friends and great dogs. If I am lucky, they'll give me some grunt job, and I'll feel like I'm doing something worthwhile.

Just before the birth of our firstborn, I gave my small cache of weapons to a friend for safekeeping. I haven't asked about them in many years, but I hope he is putting them to good use.

For better or worse the primal urge to up and kill something is creeping back. Perhaps I better keep out of the malls, and get to a trap range.

Just for grins I looked up the value of my trusty Winchchester 12ga the other day. It's better its gone. Knowledge is a very dangerous thing.