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|| News Item: Posted 2008-12-21

Leading Off: 'Tis The Season
By Robert Hanashiro, Sports Shooter

Photo by Jordan Murph

Photo by Jordan Murph

Louis Feldman loves his Secret Santa gift: a toy chainsaw, a bag of candy, and a pack of Sharpies!
I love this time of year. I love Christmas.

But don't we all?

I love playing Christmas music --- Willie K's version of the Hawaiian classic "Mele Kalikimaka" is playing as I type this.

I love getting Christmas presents for my family and friends.

I love staying up late wrapping presents Christmas Eve with "A Christmas Story" playing on cable TV…over and over and over again.

We recently held our annual "Bert & Ron's Holiday Photographers Dinner" and it was another reminder what this time of year is all about: Family & Friends.

Our holiday gathering has been going on for years here in So Cal, where we hold an informal dinner and end the evening with a gift exchange where you could come away with anything from a beater Domke Pouch to an RC helicopter. (I scored this year, with a DVD copy of Blow Up --- thanks Dan!)

While the gift exchange is always a lot of fun and the food is always fabulous ("who ordered that sweat & sour pork?"), the best part of the evening is being with my good friends and with Emma & Deanna.

There is no talk about the concerns of our daily lives --- and this year with the economy and the state of our business. It's all about being together and having some fun.

I hope all of you in my extended Sports Shooter Family have something like our Holiday Photographers Dinner this time of year, whether it's with your colleagues at work, coffee with just a few friends or extended time at home with your family.

Next year I hope to start a tradition out there in Sports Shooter-Land and encourage our family --- our community --- to plan gatherings like what we do here in So Cal and have a time where we can come together, remember, celebrate, share and have a fun time. Together.

Mele Kalikimaka!

* * *

Since I have Holiday Spirit as I put together this final edition of the Sports Shooter Newsletter of 2008, there are a few notes, shout-outs and observations I'd like to make:

• As always, thanks to Brad, Grover, Burf, Joe and Tree for another great year with I and everyone reading this owe a big "Mahalo" for all of them for the time and innovation these guys put into the website.

• The Sports Shooter Academy is literally a dream come true and has grown and developed beyond my wildest dreams. When I started Sports Shooter 10 years ago, I wanted to "give a little something back to a profession that has been good to me" and the SSA has be a real kick to plan, put on and experience. Lots of people help make this workshop what it is. Thanks to Myung Chun, Jordan Murph, Crystal Chatham, Wally Skalij, Mike Goulding, Don Miralle, Sean Haffey, Susánica Tam, Angie Akers and Dave Honl for giving me so much of your time, talents and spirit. Thanks to Canon, USA for supporting several workshops, including SSA V this past spring. Thanks to Louis Feldman and Samy's Camera and Doug Murdoch and Think Tank Photo for being with me from the start. And a BIG thanks to Nikon, Inc, Ronal Taniwaki and Bill Pekala for picking up principle sponsorship SSA VI and giving me the chance to make this program as assessable as possible, especially for students. And the biggest thanks goes to Matt Brown because without his help and time, we could not put this event on.

Photo by Jordan Murph

Photo by Jordan Murph

Robert Hanashiro is excited to receive "Blow Up" on DVD. Peter Read Miller keeps telling him about it.
• Thanks to my colleagues and good friends Bob Deutsch and Jack Gruber for keeping me sane for 3 weeks in Beijing this summer (and keeping me out of a Chinese work farm).

• All year I draw inspiration and guidance from some very good friends … thanks Rod Mar, Robert Seale, Peter Read Miller, Robert Beck and Dan MacMedan.

• Recently my boss of 21 years Richard Curtis, USA TODAY's Managing Editor for Design, announced his retirement. Richard is the last of the original ME's from the newspaper's startup in 1982. With Richard's departure from "The Nation's Newspaper" it means that the three people responsible for my being hired at USA TODAY have now left. Director of Photography Paul Whyte and Deputy Managing Editor Frank Folwell left the paper in the past few years. These three took a chance on me back in 1988 and I would probably be working the grill at Mearle's Drive-In in Visalia, CA now if it were not for these three. Also, there would be no Sports Shooter Newsletter, and Sports Shooter Academy without Paul, Frank and Richard recognizing that I had a little bit of talent and could add something to the great staff they already had in place. I owe everything to these three…

• And lastly, the continue support and love that I receive from my wife Deanna and daughter Emma keeps me going each and every day. Go Hart High Regiment!

* * *

This issue of Sports Shooter features a personal account of long-time Seattle Times staffer Rod Mar's decision to leave the paper and begin the "second half" of his career.

With the Holidays here, I asked several friends --- Trent Nelson, Matt Brown, Amy Sancetta, Scott Strazzante, Matt Mendelsohn and Jordan Murph --- to write a top 5 lists of cool things they experienced this year.

Robert Beck tells us about a recent assignment that gives us all hope for the upcoming year.

Jared Dort contributes his "Sports Shooter by the Numbers" and Preston Mack writes about a very cool new project he has undertaken: Designing games for the iPhone.

Doug Murdoch's regular Travel Smart column has a tongue-in-cheek look at the age-old debate: Backpack or roller?

Kevin German checks in from Southeast Asia with a warning about protecting your work.

* * *

Heavy rotation on iTunes are "A Charlie Brown Christmas" by the Vince Guaraldi Trio; "Elvis Christmas" by The King; "Christmas" by Chris Issak; "Christmas with the Beach Boys"; "Rocking round The Christmas Tree" from Brenda Lee and lastly the wonderful "It's Christmas, of Course" by Darlene Love.

Happy Holidays!

As always, thanks to Special Advisors & Contributors: Deanna & Emma Hanashiro, Brad Mangin, Rod Mar, Trent Nelson, Jason Burfield, Grover Sanschagrin, Joe Gosen, Paul Myers, Myung J. Chun, Jared Dort and Bob Deutsch.

Thanks this month to: Robert Beck, Preston Mack, Scott Strazzante, Matt Mendelsohn, Amy Sancetta, Matt Brown, Jordan Murph, Kevin German and Doug Murdoch.

I welcome any comments, corrections, suggestions and contributions. Please e-mail me at

The Sports Shooter Archives as well as tons of cool resources and information can be accessed through the Internet at

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Rick says: "Stop Complaining!" ::..