CHICKENS, COOPS, CRAZY TURKEYS AND ONE OLD FARMER

Daily Prompt: Good Fences?
by Ben Huberman on February 8, 2014

Who are your neighbors? Are you friends with them, barely say hi, or avoid them altogether? Tell us a story — real or invented — about the people on the other side of your wall (or street, or farm, or… you get the point). Photographers, artists, poets: show us NEXT DOOR.

Around the block is a farm (Ee-i-ee-i-oh!)

Dairy cattle, chickens, fresh milk, eggs, and honey … and friendly farmers.

I love the chickens. They are not all regular chickens. Many are fancy with gorgeous plumage. They are all like pets — friendly. They used to range free, but foxes and coyotes were making inroads so reluctantly, the farmer moved the coops and put up wire enclosures. The chickens have a lot of freedom, but not unlimited range.

Wild Turkeys

The local wild turkeys hang around because the farmer feeds them. They are a pugnacious group. Wild turkeys used to be rare, but in recent years, they strut all over the place without any sign of fear, or for that matter, common sense.

No one hunts them. Unless they get eaten by a coyote, their biggest danger is getting run over by a car or truck. They tie up traffic and refuse to hurry.

Yelling at them to move faster makes them angry and they will challenge your car to a duel. They cross roads with no concern for traffic. If you annoy them further (or even they are in a particularly feisty mood), they will attack your car. They are apparently unconcerned whether or not the car is the likely winner of the dispute.

Although they are good flyers — unlike swans, loons and other large water fowl, they don’t need a long runway to achieve liftoff — it never occurs to them to fly. They prefer to stroll. Strut. It’s hard to rouse them to flight, or even to walk or run faster.

When confronted by overwhelming odds — large motor vehicles or people with shotguns — they cop an attitude:  “Oh yeah? Who’s gonna make me?” This has given real meaning to the expression “What a turkey!”

As the old farmer said, “You know, it just takes one tire!” Except, of course, he’s the one who feeds them.

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THE SELFISH ART OF SELF-PORTRAIT

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: SELFIES

I have a few words I’d like to say about this. The first — and most important — is it ain’t as easy as it looks. Unless you have very long arms … and are young enough so that shooting very close to your skin doesn’t make you look like the Wicked Witch of the West … you’re going to need a mirror.

Marilyn Herself 9

Good mirrors with decent lighting are always in the bathroom. Never, in my experience, will you find a good mirror in a well-lighted room that has a nice backdrop.

If you are shooting into a mirror, forget flash. And if you are Of A Certain Age, be kind. The point of the exercise is not to reveal to the world every wrinkle, liver spot and scar on your skin. The idea is to produce a portrait of someone you know very well. Yourself. Perhaps to capture a certain mood, a particular look.

It’s okay to try and capture the person you know is inside you … not just the bag of flesh in which your soul resides.

Every great artist, from DaVinci, through Van Gogh, to every modern artist, has done self-portraits.It’s not merely that this is one model who will always be available without notice. It’s the particular challenge of making a picture which exposes more than a lens or an eye can see.

Include what your brain knows and your heart feels.

Technical Information:

  • Olympus PEN E-PM2
  • Aperture F1.7
  • Shutter speed: 1/60 second
  • ISO 320
  • No flash
  • Lens: Panasonic F1.7 20mm Prime Lens
  • Focal Length: 20mm (35mm equivalent: 40mm)
  • Spot metering
  • Post processed with Photoshop CS6 and NIK filters.

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MARILYN MEETS MOSES AND MR. ROBERTS – GARRY ARMSTRONG

midway-poster“Call me Chuck”,  Charlton Heston beamed down as Marilyn stared up. Manhattan, 1976 and a gathering for the world première of “Midway”. Marilyn and I were in the middle of what they used to call a “gang bang” press conference to publicize the new blockbuster movie. There were scores of writers and columnists from around the world seated at dozens of tables in the posh mid-town restaurant. Everyone wanted scoops from the handful of super stars assembled to meet and greet the media. Think of a wedding where hundreds of people want quality time with the bride and groom. Never happens. Almost never.

“Chuck” Heston and I had met several times in recent years when he stopped in Boston to promote films. Somehow, we became “friends” of a sort. He was fascinated by the TV film equipment we used. I scored a few points when I told him I used to shoot my own film earlier in my career. I never mentioned the mediocrity of my work at a small station where I had to shoot my stories.

We compared notes about film style. He’d shot film when he was in college. I segued to Heston’s first film, “Dark City” and – voila – the “friendship” began. When I mentioned “Will Penny”, an underrated western classic, Heston beamed and we were on a roll. We swapped stories about working for “suits” and laughed a lot. He would always ask for me whenever he visited Boston.

CharltonHeston6X9

Chuck held Marilyn’s hand tightly at the “Midway” press luncheon. She stared up at him. His teeth were yellow. His white turtleneck looked worn and his plaid sports jacket was a bit frumpy. No matter. He looked directly at Marilyn as if no one else was at our table. The well-known entertainment scribes around us seemed a bit agitated. No matter. Chuck told Marilyn he was tired and felt like these PR luncheons were meat markets. Marilyn stared and nodded. He patted her hand, glanced at me and told Marilyn that I was ‘a good man and a fun guy who knew his stuff ‘. I beamed. The other people grew more agitated. Marilyn’s stare turned into a smile. Chuck excused himself for a moment saying he wanted us to meet some friends.

“Hank, I want you to meet a couple of friends”, Chuck introduced Henry Fonda to Marilyn and me. The familiar, laconic gait was very real. “Hank” Fonda took Marilyn’s hand looking a little like Wyatt Earp meeting Clementine.

henry-fonda

Marilyn stared up at the film legend. He had incredibly thick, gray eyebrows and, like Chuck Heston, looked very tired. But he smiled as he chatted with Marilyn and said something about how nice it was meeting Chuck’s friends. My, oh, my!!

A notoriously reclusive man who disdained doing publicity things, “Hank” actually seemed at ease as he chatted with Marilyn and acknowledged me. The other people at the table had moved from agitation to resentment while pretending to enjoy the attention we were receiving. Marilyn seemed a bit more relaxed as Fonda continued to chat with her. Chuck nodded in approval as Hank talked briefly about dealing with the press. He talked about the “Mr. Roberts” publicity campaign two decades earlier. That had been personal for him because “Mr. Roberts” had been his baby from stage to screen.

“Hank” looked down at Marilyn and said something about getting too old for ‘this stuff’. He did look very thin and sallow. Fonda’s smile and good humor covered up his physical weariness. Little did we know that his body would give out five years later. Hank and Chuck said goodbye to Marilyn (and me), waved to the others at our table, and walked into the crowd. Marilyn was beaming.

I’VE GOT MY LOVE TO KEEP ME WARM

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Winter is long in New England. It snowed yesterday. It stopped for a while. And it is snowing again and this storm, which is pretty big will be followed by a much larger storm a few days from now. There’s no reason to be surprised. Winter is like this and February is often the month when the heaviest snow falls. The Blizzard of ’78 was just about this time in February. Just saying.

Please enjoy the vintage recording of Billie Holiday, one of the all time great blues singers.Maybe the greatest.