Vive la différence

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” Dr. Seuss

 Absolutely. Right on the money.

As a photographer, I have likes and dislikes and when I take pictures, I focus mainly on what I like. Some people enjoy photographing historical ruins or old buildings, but not me.
I am mainly interested in living creatures, people or animals. I like photographing animals because they are candid. You get what you see. No pretenses there.

People are different. Many try to project an image which is not even close to what they really are. Politicians are famous for that. Many have heard of Tim Murphy, a staunch pro-life Pennsylvania Republicanwho secretly urged his pregnant mistress to have an abortion. Rampant hypocrisy at its best.

As a photographer, I like to shoot what is raw, candid, real. And people are real when they are under pressure. No matter what you want to project, your true personality pops through the mask when you are incapable of pretending.

When you play pétanque, you are under pressure to perform and that’s when I like to catch you. A unique moment in time. I call my camera “Sneaky Pete” because even though it is unobtrusive, it has a respectable zoom and I can catch you from a distance without your knowledge.

My tastes are simple but eclectic.
I like to bag raw emotions, fleeting action shots, elegant playing forms, unusual outfits, and attractive women. Who would not?
Everybody should know (and you learn this fast enough) that life is not fair. If you are tall or good looking your chances of success are much better than if you are short and unappealing.

The lens is irresistibly attracted by curvaceous women and good-looking dudes. If nature was not kind to you, you need to find other ways to be noticed and entice the photographer to look at you.

That’s probably why some people kill or instigate political coups. No matter what a bastard or ugly you are, lenses worldwide will focus on you.

On the pétanque field, if you are not a bombshell and you want to be noticed, you need to perform. I have seen some fairly ugly people who are fantastic shooters. If it is the case, lenses will zoom on you as if you were Lazarus.

So yes, as a photographer I am probably partial and some people get better treatment than some others. If you want to be featured, take intensive private pétanque lessons or get cosmetic surgery.

One of these two ways will probably get you what you want.


PS: I just posted “the June 4thmissing pictures” that were in my stray camera. Have a look.


Mea culpa

Mea maxima culpa! I acknowledge my fault and repeatedly beat my chest in contrition. Mea culpa! I goofed.

I am deeply embarrassed to report that Sneaky Pete, my iconic little camera, was never lost or stolen. It was misplaced in my camera bag and it was hiding in plain sight. You can judge for yourself by looking at the included photo. At a glance, would you spot Sneaky Pete?

I apologize to everybody for any embarrassment I might have caused… but all is well that ends well. I repacked Sneaky Pete II and I am shipping it back to Amazon.

Now that I am forgiven (?) I can talk about yesterday’s 14thof July & tournament celebration in Sonoma.

Sixty people (20 triplettes) signed up to participate in the tournament. The format of the tourney was mêlée, meaning that we would arbitrarily be paired with strangers, and indeed we did.

The tournament started rather late (about 10:30 am) and ended equally late (7:30 pm).

Two 45 minutes games were played before lunch, and elimination games were played in the afternoon.

The lunch, by the way, was extremely good. The duck confit melted in your mouth and went down well with white or red wine. Good job Marco Ilaria!

Jean-Michel Poulnot, dressed in his usual tricolor outfit, led the crowd for a spirited rendition of La Marseillaise. Some innocent souls tried to understand the lyrics and were shocked by one stance “qu’un sang impur abreuve nos sillons” (that unclean blood water our furrows). Why do you think that fruits and vegetables are so tasty in France? It is the blood.

My team and I lost one game and won one; we were then propelled to the Concours… where we were promptly defeated.

But I am not here to talk about myself, but to praise the unsinkable Tamara Semionovna. That woman had the nerves to win all her games and to top it all win the *$&**# tournament.

She was paired with notorious Ed Clay and mysterious Daniel Daniloff who helped her claw her way to the top. Especially Ed who did a fantastic job of pointing AND shooting. I did not know that this mild-mannered fellow was so talented.

Tamara, Ed, Daniel

Being busy somewhere else I could not follow all of Tamara’s games but I managed to catch the semi-finals (against Hans Kurz and his gang) and the finals, (against Mike Cooper and his goons).

In the semi-finals, after winning the coin toss, wily Hans took everybody to the most difficult court in Sonoma. A rock-strewn area adjacent to the Bocce ball courts.

If you are not experienced with this kind of terrain you are in big trouble. When pointing you cannot roll the boule and when shooting, it has to be exclusively “au fer’. If you cannot cope with these two hurdles you are a dead duck.

But Tamara did amazingly well and managed to put many of her shots inches away from the “bouchon”. Hans who had been hot through most of the day fired repeatedly and hit some beautiful shots. But Tamara was relentless and wore off Mad Dog Hans and his goons.

In the finals, played in the”pebbly” area  closer to the picnic tables, Ed, Tamara and Daniel faced Mike Cooper, Minette Etallaz and John T. It was a very close game, but by 7:30 pm it was finally over.
Ted and his team prevailed. Final score 13/11.

To the victors go the spoils. Every winning member of Ed’s squad was rewarded with 2 bottles of wine. So were their opponents.

With Tamara getting so many accolades, life is getting difficult for me. Next time you meet me on the field, have mercy; let me win for a few games for chrissakes! I cannot keep losing face all the time. I need to bring some medals home to negate Tamara’s insufferable boastings.
I know that you will understand.

For good measure, mea culpa again!

1stplace: Ed Clay, Tamara Efron & Daniel Daniloff
2ndplace: Mike Cooper, Genevieve Etallaz, John T.

1stplace: Jim, Maggie. Tim
2ndplace: Delio, Don, Bill

That’s all folks.


Enjoy yesterday’s pictures (no particular order).

Sock it to me

Do I like soccer? Is the pope catholic?
Any European-born boy played soccer. Why? Because in my days (a few centuries ago) it was a popular game that did not require any fancy equipment. Having just a ball, was good enough. No uniforms, no fancy shoes, just some good fighting spirit, a quality never lacking in schoolboys.

In blue, Rose Lavelle who scored the winning goal

So yes, I watched many games of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup and I enjoyed it. All the women were talented, spirited and fought hard. Did they perform as well as men? I don’t know, but I found it more pleasant to watch.

All the world-class male soccer players are overpaid drama queens. In a game, at the slightest body contact, they hit the ground writhing in seemingly agonizing pain. They all try to extort the lethal penalty kick which they hope, will give them an almost unstoppable goal. But a few minutes later, the “injured” party has miraculously recovered and is trotting on the field.
I did not see any women doing this. Yes, they took some solid hits and fell on the ground but didn’t patently fake or milk the incident.

I find a soccer penalty kick highly unfair.
The shot is taken from the penalty mark, which is 12 yards (11 m) from the goal line and centered between the touch lines.”
Such a kick is very difficult to stop and usually results in a goal. The goalkeeper has to anticipate where the ball is going to go and lunge in that direction. His/her chances of guessing right are extremely slim, but if he is uncommonly lucky, he sometimes succeeds.

The American women benefited from such a kick in the 58th minute of the game when Dutch player Stefanie van der Gragt (unintendedly) hit American Alex Morgan with a dangerous high kick. Morgan was not seriously injured, but she fell on the ground and it must have been painful.
The following penalty kick resulted in a goal for the Americans.

If the US team would have won the championship with such a kick, it would not have been a very glorious feat. Fortunately, at the 68th minute, American midfielder Rose Lavelle delivered a splendid true bona fide goal to settle the outcome of the championship.

Both teams played hard and well and both could have won. But in any competitive event, luck is always a factor. No matter how talented you are, you always need the benevolence of Lady Luck. This time, she was partial to the Americans.

Do women soccer players deserve a raise? Absolutely. Equal work, equal pay. Due partly to their success in the World Cup, I predict that in a few short years women’s soccer will be big. Very big. Maybe even bigger than men’s soccer.  On last Sunday in Lyon, 57,900 enthusiastic fans attended the final game. How often do men reach such a number? Give women a raise!

Now, is the US team going to accept the American Reichstag’s invitation? I doubt it. Speaking for herself, but reflecting the team’s mood, cheeky Megan Rapinoe was definite about it. “I’m not going to the fucking White House.”