Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Feeder Wars – 2014

Yesterday morning well before sunrise I went out to the patio and retrieved my hummingbird feeder. It was time for its weekly cleaning and refill. With late summer closing in I thought that later in the morning I would go out and try to capture a few photographs of some of the hummers that had been around this year. I sit on my patio just about every morning drinking a cup of coffee or two and watching them come and go. And because I don’t have all that many it is somewhat easy to soon become familiar with certain ones and their personalities.

My Resident Female

My Resident Female

It was around 8:00 AM as I prepared my camera and was about to go out and set it up near the feeder when I looked out and noticed there were a couple of hummingbirds really going at each other around the feeder. I went ahead and went out, set up the camera, grabbed my coffee and was ready for my photo shoot. I sat down to relax for a moment and the two hummers were immediately back and trying to exert their dominance over the feeder. One of the gladiators was one of my resident females who I really liked and is quite elegant. The other was a very aggressive male which was not a part of the daily visitors and must have happened upon the feeder by chance this morning, perhaps even in the process of migrating already.

Anyway, to my amazement for the next 2½ hours the two did battle never straying more than 6 feet or so from the feeder. Photographically speaking, I was in hog heaven because the least of their interest was me and during the time period I shot well over a hundred photos. Of course, many didn’t turn out and many were quite similar in content. Thought I would share a few of  those this morning and remember to see a larger version, just click on the photo….

DSC_0501a

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Feeder Wars - 03

Feeder Wars - 05

As previously mentioned, this display of domination and aggression went on for over two hours when finally they literally locked up and went to the ground almost in a ‘ball’ configuration and then just laid there on the patio floor motionless. I really thought they had been injured or something. They were on the patio about three feet or so from me so I shuffled one of my feet and they apparently relinquished their holds and each other and flew off. The male never came back so obviously the victory and the feeder went to my beloved female. Hoooorah! :)

Movie Review – “Awakenings” (1990)

5-Star Post MasterAwakenings - 1990 - 01

Dr. Oliver Sacks

Dr. Oliver Sacks

After the recent passing of Robin Williams much was printed and televised about his life and taken in by many of us who were such fans and admirers of his talents. And of course there was much discourse on his films and many video clips shown by the media. Being the fan I am, I have watched the majority of them but was somewhat surprised that one film was never mentioned, at least by the media coverage that I followed. And yet, and of course this is my opinion, it was without a doubt one of his best. And that film was titled “Awakenings” based on a true story of a doctor, Dr. Oliver Sacks, who worked at a clinic in the Bronx in 1969 and was administering to a number of catatonic patients who had survived the 1917-1928 epidemic of encephalitis lethargic which had hit the United States.

I really wanted to watch one of his films and I wanted it to be a favorite of course, not an easy decision to make. And so it was a few nights ago that I settled on “Awakenings” and watched this touching and bittersweet story which was directed by none other than Penny Marshall. Robin Williams plays the meek, mild-mannered and somewhat reclusive Dr. Malcolm Sayer and Robert Di Niro plays one of his catatonic patients, Leonard Lowe. De Niro was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role while Robin Williams was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor for his role.

The acting is superb in the film and the film is considered to be a quite accurate portrayal of the true-life events and is based on the book of the same name which was written by neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks, the doctor depicted in the film as previously noted.

This may be about the 4th time I have watched the film over the years which on my rating scale makes it a shoo-in for a 5-star rating.

Anyone in the market for a $2000 chicken?

I’m sure the majority of you will remember the famous commercial that had the very familiar tag line…. “Is it live, or is it Memorex?” In our case of the photograph shown below perhaps we could say…. “Is it alive, or is it a ceramic?”

Ayam Cemani - Greenfire Farms 01Breed – Ayam Cemani (Photo Credit : Greenfire Farms)

Well, when I ran across the photo of this chicken and someone was trying to pass it off as real… well to be quite honest I had very strong doubts. Turns out, it’s as real as you or I. You can’t tell me that photo doesn’t look like a bronze statue of a chicken – pure and simple! And check this one out and tell me that wouldn’t look great on a nice end table….

Ayam Cemani 02Breed – Ayam Cemani (Photo Credit : Unknown)

Fact is, I was just taken back by the statuette nature of this bird. Quite beautiful and the iridescent feathers are more than striking. These chickens are of the Ayam Cemani breed and are apparently of Indonesian decent.

After doing a little research I ran across a farm in northern Florida which offers these birds for sale along with numerous other breeds, all of which look quite exceptional to me. I tell you the truth, if I had a few acres in the country I would have a number of these chickens for sure. I found the website to be quite helpful and educational to boot. If you’re curious you can take a tour here – Greenfire Farms. All the various breeds are listed on the left-hand side of the webpage where you’ll find numerous photos and select videos of the breeds.

At any rate, just wanted to share my discovery although it may only be a discovery of any consequence to me alone. I also ran across a video that might be of interest to some. I found it to have some educational value myself. When it comes to chickens, I’ve led a very sheltered life with exception of the chicken section at the local grocery store.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The “LIKE” Button Conundrum….

Like Button 01

Facebook

I have always had a bit of an issue with the infamous “Like” button that we often see on social media sites to include blogs of course. I feel reasonably certain others have had similar feelings also. “Facebook” seems to be the perpetrator of this communication icon so I am aware of the proper direction my disdain should be directed. And everyone has to be wondering why if you have a ‘like’ button that there isn’t a ‘dislike’ button.

One would initially assume that if you click on a ‘like’ button you are acknowledging your approval or at best some measure of affection for someone’s post or comment. But in reality it is more often used as simply a way of letting the person whose post or comment you are viewing know that you have seen it or acknowledged it. One has to presume that if a post is describing the passing on of dear old grandma that clicking one’s ‘like’ button doesn’t mean that you have enjoyed hearing about grandma’s passing.

I have a “Like” button on each of my WordPress blog posts but I view it on my blog as well as other blogs with similar buttons as an “I Was Here” button. In fact, I really would like it if they would just rename the button to exactly that. Usually if someone really likes someone’s post they are most likely going to leave a comment and by the same token, if they don’t like it they may also let you know about that! :)

I’m not fanatical with regard to folks commenting on my blog posts. I’m certainly happy if they do share a thought or two but I don’t get miffed if they don’t. But I do find myself enjoying and knowing who has dropped by and looked in on my post.

WordPress

WordPress

There are plug-ins for blogs where you can create your own ‘like’ buttons and as a plus, you can name the button whatever you like. Only problem is you don’t know who clicked it. That is why I especially like the “WordPress” ‘like’ button because it leaves a calling card (avatar) of the visitor who clicked on it. I for one use the button for just exactly that. I like for someone to know I visited their blog but clicking that button does not necessarily mean I like or dislike their post. It simply means I took the time to stop by and read their post.

Hey! Got an opinion? Feel free to throw it into the pot.

Movie Review – “The Butler” (2013)

3-Star Post MasterThe Butler - 2013 - 1

I have looked forward for almost a year to seeing this film and it finally became available to me recently. I admittedly knew little about the details of the plot but had certainly been caught up in the hype surrounding the movie – the true story of a butler who served in the White House through eight consecutive Administrations. Almost hard to imagine and certainly intriguing to ponder what that life was like and all the history making events he would be somewhat privy to be a part.

Bottom line… In the end I was very disappointed in the film. So much so that it has taken me over two weeks, off and on, to gather my thoughts into the manner I wanted to present them. Again, I don’t know what I expected from the film but I didn’t expect to see ground which had already been plowed up time and time again in numerous other good films be subjected to another plowing and made part of an almost completely fictional plot.

You say you thought it was based on a true story? To say the film is based on a true story would be better stated a saying loosely based on a true story and even that is a bit of a stretch in my opinion. There are certainly a lot of true events related to in the film but unfortunately they are presented within the confines of a fictional plot for the most part.

Eugene Allen

Eugene Allen

“The Butler” is a screen play written by Danny Strong which is actually based on an article that appeared in The Washington Post titled “A Butler Well Served by This Election” back in 2008. The article was written by Wil Haygood, a Washington Post staff writer and can be read ‘here’. As noted in the article, the actual name of the man portrayed in the film by actor Forest Whitaker as ‘the butler’ is Eugene Allen.

Lee Daniels, an African-American, was the Director of the film. The performances by the actors in the film were outstanding, especially those of Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey. That unfortunately is about all the accolades I can spare for this film. It was entertaining but when a little ‘after the fact’ research was done about the film, I came away feeling as though I had been duped.

The Butler - Forest Whitaker & Oprah Winfrey - 2

Forest Whitaker & Oprah Winfrey

The film’s eye-opening beginning takes place in a cotton field supposedly somewhere in Georgia and the white landowner comes into the field where the family is working alongside other workers. Our main character who as at the time a small boy along with his father watches as the landowner takes his mother to a small shanty nearby and rapes her. Then as he is leaving the father says something to the landowner who then stops, takes out a gun and kills the father, then casually walks off. The intent of the film of course was to show the absolute lack of worth a black man’s life had in those times but as to it factual basis as relates to the life of the film’s main character, it is completely fictional and never happened.

Eugene Allen and his wife had a son and a daughter. In the film they are portrayed as having two sons, one younger son with a demeanor similar to his fathers and an older son who is portrayed as a civil rights activist. The younger son serves in Vietnam and is killed which is completely fictional. Eugene’s real son, Charles Allen, did serve in Vietnam but was honorably discharged and returned to civilian life where he worked as an investigator for the State Department. Charles Allen was never the radical civil rights activist portrayed in the film.

In the film his older son is portrayed as a black activist during the civil rights movement as a backdrop to his position as head butler in the White House. His son is portrayed as participating in every major civil rights event from the Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-in to joining the Black Panthers while his father, the butler, takes a more passive stance given his position in the White House. It is this tension between the father and son over civil rights issues that fuel the majority of the drama in the film.

To put it quite simply, the film for me would have been a much more enjoyable experience overall if it had simply been produced as a fictional drama and not passed off to the public for something it wasn’t.

In closing, as I have often stated with regard to my reviews… they are my reviews and my personal take on the films I review as I see it. It is not my purpose to encourage or dissuade anyone else with regard to viewing the films.

Freeze-Dried Pets – Revisited….

American Stuffers - 01Well… it seems that the subject of ‘freeze-dried pets’ has raised its ugly head again – no pun intended of course. Recently one of our local television stations aired a news segment on a local freeze-dried taxidermist located in Romance, Arkansas, that had risen to national prominence back and 2011 and found itself being featured on the “Animal Planet Network” in a reality show of sorts.

Although the show only ran for one season, from time to time the taxidermist shop does seem to make its way back into the local media for one reason or another. Here is a video clip of its most recent incursion….

It all started back in January of 2011 when there was a lot of hoop-la around these parts surrounding a unique taxidermy shop which was located in Romance, Arkansas and was about to get its own reality television show on the “Animal Planet Network”. The name of the taxidermy shop is “Extreme Taxidermy” and here is some additional news video covering the subject business at that time, especially regarding its being featured on a national television network….

The show which was called “American Stuffers” ended up only airing for one season, apparently a lot of short lived curiosity and interest succumbed to low viewer ratings bringing the show to its demise. I think the characters opting to have their pets freeze-dried for eternity were actually more entertaining than the actual process itself. If however, you have any interest there are still several video clips of excerpts from the show available on-line. Here is just a brief sample….

I suppose one would need something like a Master’s Degree in psychology to pursue a study surrounding human behavior regarding the stuffing of animals but I would also have to assume that the resulting scientific white paper on the study would surely be quite fascinating. I for one can assure you I would never opt to freeze-dry any pet of mine but nevertheless, it does leave open the question as to why we humans seemingly differentiate to such a great degree between the stuffing of a deer, wild duck or fish and that of a pet. We don’t really think pets are human do we? :?