Low talker

“Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve every word before you let it fall.” 
Oliver Wendell Holmes

🌺 🌺🌺🌺🌺

I have been a Seinfeld fan from the start and I still vividly remember many of the series’ episodes. I particularly recall “The Puffy Shirt”, the second episode of the fifth season.

In this installment, Kramer’s girlfriend (Leslie) says something to Jerry. Since she is a “low-talker” (a person who talks in a low, soft voice) and not really comprehending what she said, Jerry and Elaine just nod their heads in agreement… and Jerry ends up wearing a ridiculous “puffy shirt” on a popular talk show.

Over the years I have become let’s say a tad “acoustically challenged”. I don’t hear as well as I used to, but I am still in running condition.
I don’t pretend to have my cat’s auditory perception (who while napping can hear a mouse fart) but I still can hear you perfectly well providing that you are not a mumbler or a “low-talker”.

So yes, I have a beef (maybe a calf) with low-talkers.
It is not the responsibility of the listener to hear well, but the duty of the speaker to get the message through. By carefully monitoring his audience, an accomplished speaker will know if his message is received or not. If he notices a vacant stare somewhere, he should realize that he is not getting through and try again.

Like many slightly impaired people, when I don’t clearly understand what is being said, I politely ask the person to repeat what he/she just said.
But if for any reason I don’t grasp what is being said for a second time (just like Jerry and Elaine) out of embarrassment I might nod in agreement… with sometimes-unforeseen consequences.

“An older man had serious hearing problems for many years. He went to the doctor and the doctor was able to have him fitted for a set of hearing aids that allowed the man to hear 100%.
A month later the old man went back  to the doctor who said, “Your hearing is perfect. Your family must be really pleased that you can hear again.”
The old man replied, “Oh, I haven’t told my family yet. I just sit around and listen to their conversations. I’ve changed my will three times!”

 So, if somebody seems to constantly agree with you, keep in mind that it might not be that you are exceptionally convincing, but rather that your interlocutor did not get a thing you said.
And you should ask yourself: am I a mumbler or God forbids, a “low-talker”?

Do you copy? Over and out!


A blast from the past


Age is strictly a case of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it does not matter. Jack Benny.

 🍎 🍎🍎🍎🍎

Some people dread birthdays while some rugged souls on the other hand grab the bull by the horns and push back against the encroachment of time. They won’t let mere digits hinder their way of life.

A couple of days ago I attended a birthday celebration hosted by Brigitte Moran’s clan. Her devotees went all out to commemorate Brigitte’s admission to the exclusive Geezer Country Club and give her a fiery send off to the geriatric orbit.

The theme of the party was the groovy 60’s and people were asked to show up in period threads.
I have always maintained that if you wait long enough (50 to 100 years), your dated wardrobe will come back into fashion, and this occasion proved me right. The only problem is that 50 years later your waistline won’t be exactly the same as when you were a young buck. But some people managed to dig out (or buy) vintage clothes and showed up decked with long hair, tinted shades, beads and platform shoes.
At the door I bumped into a tall, dark, longhaired hippy that to my amazement turned out to be Beatnik Herb (Moran). Great duds Herb!

The celebration started with an open bar followed by a sit down dinner.

After dinner an Afro wearing DJ opened the shindig with loud (very loud) throbbing musical pieces. Among the first people on the floor was Flower Child Brigitte who, in spite of a recent hip replacement, behaved like a teenager on Prom night.
She was followed by some (naturally reserved) people who suddenly moved like possessed by Beelzebub.

They say that age is all in your mind. The trick is keeping it from creeping down into your body. Unknown author.

For best costume (among the people I know), I recognized Monique Bricca, Herb, Brigitte, Tom Moran (loved those platform shoes) and Sandra Shirkey. I also liked the threads of a cool black dude whose name I don’t know.

To sum it up, it was a funky, outta sight party.

Joyeux Anniversaire again to a groovy chick! S.W.A.K!


PS: To watch photos of this event, click on the “My Photos” link located on the right side of this page. For best viewing, go Full Screen. No more music, sorry.
Click on the 2017 folder and on the arrow at the right top of the folder to watch the slideshow.


The Senate voted 97-0 for an anti-spam bill to stop those annoying things you get on your computer. The senators made it very clear that when you start misleading the American people and start taking their money over false promises, that are our turf, buddy!
Jay Leno

🍎 🍎🍎🍎🍎

Friends, Pétanquophiles, countrymen, lend me your ears. I have been “slimed”. More accurately I have been viciously “spammed”!
Last week my blog mailbox was flooded with unsolicited messages that kept piling up at a frightening rate.

“Electronic spamming is the use of electronic messaging systems to repeatedly send unsolicited messages (especially advertising) to the same site.”
It is named after Spam, a luncheon meat, by way of a Monty Python sketch about a menu that includes Spam in every dish.”

Thanks to a trusted friend the problem has been fixed, but this incident is a stark reminder that all is not sugar and spice and everything nice in cyberspace.

For a blogger, noticing an increased readership is heartening but a sharp readership spike can be troubling. It means that somehow, somewhere, you touched a raw nerve and somebody is reacting. This is one of the pitfalls of running a blog. You will sometimes unwittingly offend somebody and I am probably guilty of that.

I don’t pretend to be right on every issue I write about, but I speak from the heart and yes I will sometimes go cross the grain.
But this is still a free country, isn’t? Or is it?

The Big Question is: whom did I offend?
A bored teenager? An antisocial misfit? A miffed pétanque player? A scorned lover? A Russian operative? A Mar-a-Lago minion?
Being an equal opportunity offender, the possibilities are endless.

Email is a very convenient tool, but like atomic energy it can be used in a harmful way.

One more time, be careful out there and don’t blindly click on any unknown link sent to you by well meaning friends.

Spamfully yours,


Computer Syntax


Treat your password like your toothbrush.  Don’t let anybody else use it, and get a new one every six months.  ~Clifford Stoll

🍎 🍎🍎🍎🍎

A computer is like a good butler, but unlike its human counterpart it is extremely fastidious. It absolutely does not allow any error. If you have a poor penmanship and if on top of this you are a sloppy speller, you are bound to have a very difficult relationship with your manservant.

In computer language nothing is inconsequential. A period, a comma, a semi-colon, a forward slash, an uppercase… nothing, absolutely nothing can be overlooked, especially when it comes to passwords.
Like an ornery donkey, your computer will refuse to go anywhere if you cannot correctly provide the right carrot.

A little while ago I had to transfer my web-hosting outfit to another company. What looked like an easy task turned out to be an absolute nightmare. And I have (unfortunately) nobody to blame but myself.

During the migrating process I omitted to insert a semi-colon in some specific area and the computer obstinately refused to obey any of my commands.

The most overlooked advantage to owning a computer is that if they foul up, there’s no law against whacking them around a little. ~Eric Porterfield

I was about to whack the beast, when I finally spotted the error. One added keystroke and the problem was resolved, but this incident clearly demonstrates the utmost importance of each character.

In this day and age your email address is your window to the world, and you cannot when asked for it, hurriedly scribble illegible characters on a piece of paper. You need to print everything very carefully and make sure that every symbol is unmistakably correct.

If you want to get along with your computer, treat it the way you want to be treated, with utmost respect.
Some people kneel and appeal to statues made of stone. I prefer to bow respectfully before my gentleman’s gentleman each time its services are required.

Alain 🎩

PS: Never let a computer know you’re in a hurry.  

Of boobs and babes


“Girls have got balls. They’re just a little higher up, that’s all.” ― Joan Jett

🍎 🍎🍎🍎🍎

The world of entertainment is extremely fond of award ceremonies. The last time I checked I counted 24 of them. Twenty-four a year, in America only. And I am not including Cannes, La Mostra di Venezia, the Nika Award and whatever is happening in Latin America.
That comes if I am not mistaken to about one ceremony every 15 days.

With awards hanging from just about every tree in Hollywood, if an actor doesn’t manage to snare a trophy within 2 or 3 years of his career, he/she better quit the business. He is not good enough or not whorish enough.

Each award ceremony showcases so-called “beautiful people” who all try to outdo each other.
During the awards presentation, men are now soulfully kissing each other and women… women are showing their boobs. Even if you are nobody, a good boob display (even a side boob view) will nevertheless put you in the limelight.
Each ceremony has essentially become a glorified Booborama.

I have nothing against breasts mind you and I am rather fond of them but it is the girls’ look of contrived innocence that bothers me.
My boobs are sticking out? Oh I didn’t notice…
You didn’t notice? With no bra and a blouse open to the navel?

I know that we are not supposed to stare, but what can you do when these things are poking you in the eye? Staring at a woman’s breasts, Seinfeld once said, “…is like looking at the sun. You’re supposed to just take one peek and then look away!”

But boobs, due to their wicked aura, still fascinate and the ingénues know it. It is undeniable that they are using their feminine wiles to attract attention.
But they have to be careful: not all boobs are born equal; if they are not up to snuff catty critics will suggest to keep those “assets” in their holster.

I might be speaking out of jealousy… Men cannot pull off such derring-do deeds. I don’t think that they could show up on the podium with an open shirt revealing a hairy chest, or going panty less…
Well you never know… Thinking about it, I suspect that many men go commando with just a thin layer of material protecting the public.

The purpose of showbiz is to captivate, and as long as society frowns on bare breasts, nymphets will do their wicked best to direct your stare to a hazardous area that might induce temporary blindness.


I’m in showbiz. I look at my boobs like they’re show horses or show dogs. You’ve got to keep them groomed.” Dolly Parton

Hooked atoms

“There can be little liking where there is no likeness.”

? ????

Have you ever heard the French expression « Avoir les atomes crochus »?
It could be loosely translated as, “to have hooked atoms” (to have a lot in common with somebody).

Well, it seems that my own atoms don’t easily hook with somebody else’s molecules.
I like animals. Furry or feathery, I like them all and I am pretty sure that they like me as well. We seem to have an affinity, a spontaneous, natural liking for each other.

The same mutual affection does not seem to equally apply to people. While I almost universally fancy horses, cows, pigs, cats, dogs, chickens, ducks, etc. I find myself far pickier when it comes to humans.

We often feel sympathy for someone because of shared characteristics such as language, culture, religion, politics, sports, cuisine, a wicked sense of humor. Before committing myself I need to sense that we share some common experiences. If this link is missing, it makes a relationship much more knottier.

I generally find an affinity with a lot of the people I play and I suppose if I didn’t feel an affinity for them then they wouldn’t be particularly good performances.” Hugo Weaving

 I agree. If I am paired with someone for a tournament, and if I feel that we are not on the same wavelength, I won’t play my best game. Similarly, if I feel a lack of cordiality on the other side I won’t play well either. I think that I am we are at our best when we perform in a friendly environment.

Men often get along with men better than they fare with women, and vice versa. It is expected; they have more in common.
Couples very often (besides sexual attraction) don’t have anything in common and this type of relationship is doomed from the beginning.

With all the goodwill in the world, I couldn’t become closely acquainted with a person who sits on the floor, eats with his hands, speaks some foreign dialect and refers to God every three minutes. Sorry about that !
My atoms don’t like to be pushed around. In order to hook with yours, they need to feel some commonality.

If you could stop mispronouncing “déjà vu”, randomly pet dogs in the street and like oysters, “I think that this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.“

Alain ?

Sassy Sunny Sunday


Confounding the doubters, the April 9 picnic (Sausages & Lentils) long held hostage by a capricious weather, finally came to fruition.

On Saturday morning, like a mercurial diva given to unpredictable changes, Mother Nature wavered between short blue skies and hard spring showers.

This constant dithering made it very difficult for the club organizers to reach the right decision. To cancel or not to cancel the event, that was the question.
And like Ike on D-Day LPM president Christine Cragg hoped and prayed for a break in the weather. With troops massed in coastal harbors, and a large supply of food on hand, Christine cast her fate to the wind and finally resolved to go ahead.

She knew that in case of failure she would be blamed, and like Ike she kept a second message in her back pocket that read:

“Our landings in the Marin County area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”

On Sunday though, the weather held steady and the operation Sausages & Lentils was on. Unfortunately the playing field remained spongy, mushy, saturated, waterlogged, mucky, muddy, swampy… pick your term, and highly unpredictable.

Despite the adverse conditions seen on Saturday (as shown in the first pictures of my album) hardcore players decided to compete and came from all over the Bay Area. We were particularly glad to welcome (for the first time in Marin I believe) Marc Poinsignon & Co. the infamous Peninsula Pétanque gang.
Part of the celebration was also Alain Briant who with Marc, is my old partner in crime.

We were glad to see Clea Messiani and Paul Tucker from San Francisco.

Twenty-two (22) doublettes lined up for the tournament and there were:

  1. J-C Etallaz & Heidi Rytter 2.Marc Di Maio & Liliane Sebban 3.Doug Colville & Noah Sonet 4.Gilbert & Wyatt 5.Louis-Jean Marsaa & Minette Etallaz 6.Mark Shirkey & Sandra Shirkey 7.Maurice S. & Sandra S. 8.J-Michel Poulnot & Rich Mendoza 9.Eric Thiebault & Eva Lofaro 10.Michel Rattaire & Suzanne 11.Evan Falcone & Bernard Rattaire 12.Albert Woodbury & Tamara Efron 13.Bernard Passemar & Kathy 14.Les Stone & Clea Messiani 15.Joe La Torre & Nancy Jencks 16.Gustave Foucher & Larry Cragg 17.Jacques Rattaire & Liza Moran 18.Alain Briant & Teri Thiebault 19.David Lindsay & Mark P. 20.Noel Marcovecchio & J-C Etallaz 21.Brigitte Moran & Christina 22.Alain Efron & Mireille Di Maio

The weather was OK but on the frigid side. The smart players wore layers of clothes and peeled them off as the temperature slowly rose. A great salute by the way to Verena Rytter and Liv Kraft for keeping scores in a less than comfortable situation.

The lunch was prepared by Mattei Inc. (Sabine and Roger Mattei) and it was very good. And eating outdoors among friends always makes it doubly pleasurable. Than you Roger, Sabine… and my good pal César.
In my book, canines are always welcome.

Four games were played after lunch.
As I previously mentioned it, the spongy field made games unusually difficult. It was basically a game of “plombés” and “au fer” shots. And “plombés” had to be accurate, for the boule would hit the ground and buried itself in the place it landed.
When it came to shooting, the only option was “au fer”. If you shot “a la raspaille” your boule would roll and bounce over the target.

A few times during the tournament Michel Rattaire (a very good player by the way) would take his faithful “clairon” (bugle) and sound “reveille”. Everybody (especially me) loved it. We need to steal this guy and retain him on a permanent basis.

At the end of the day, the top dogs were:

1st place: Jean-Michel (Le Facteur) and Rich Mendoza
2nd place: Doug Colville & Noah Sonet
3rd place: Marc Di Maio & Liliane Sebban


Your comments are welcome.

PS: To look at photos of this event and listen to the accompanying music, turn your computer’s sound on and click on the link “My Photos” located on the right side of the home page. For best viewing, go “Full Screen”.

“The planet is fine. The people are fucked.”

The only mystery in life is why the kamikaze pilots wore helmets.
Al McGuire

? ????

I will never praise enough the protective and curative properties of laughter.
More than anything else, a good sense of humor is the quality that you wish the good fairy would bestow on your cradle.
It will be your survival kit, your shield, your flak jacket against the vicissitudes of life.

Never mind beauty; it is fleeting.
Never mind thoughtfulness; it is for wimps.
Never mind charisma; unless you run for office or aim for the papacy.

Humor is what attracts the girls, protects you from bullies and will give you a pass to the best venues in the world. It is Scheherazade Redux. It will give you at least 1000 days to extricate yourself from the toughest spots.

Humor allows you to take the edge off of once taboo subjects such as sex, religion and politics and make it palatable to the self-righteous crowds. You can almost say anything if you season it properly with giggling spices.

Laughter is welcome by most but feared by autocrats and religious zealots. For it is a difficult foe. Attacking laughter is a cardinal sin. It is like bashing Santa Claus. Unthinkable! Inconceivable!

The only effective weapon against laughter is kryptonite. And kryptonite, ardently pursued by bullies of all kinds, is extremely rare and hard to find. So, no matter what, the day belongs to the one that leaves you laughing.

There is one only one taboo against laughter. You cannot laugh at the expense of the weak or defenseless. It would be like killing baby seals. Absolutely detestable.
Except for that, nothing and nobody is off-limits.

Ruffle your constituents’ feathers and it the constituents’ duty to fight back by laughing at the offender, regardless of his rank and regardless of his wealth.

Eat, drink and be merry for nobody knows what tomorrow will be.

Alain ?

The Spring League


The umpire is the most helpful guy of the Concours; he is even willing to get on his knees to help us.

? ????

Wednesday April 5 marked the opening of the Pétanque Marinière Spring League and I don’t mind saying that it was very successful.

Thirty-eight (38) people of all stripes showed up to play and it almost felt like a regularly scheduled tournament day.

People came in droves from all parts of the Bay Area and we owe it mainly to Brigitte Moran, our fighting hausfrau.
I suspect that people would not dare to refuse her for fear of being kneed in the groin or whacked on the head by her long sword.

Regardless, it was a very well attended affair and one should remember that the proceeds of this event end up in the coffers of the club and help us revitalize our organization.
Brigitte has done a lot to recruit new members and our once unadventurous club is poised to become one of the most popular associations of the Bay Area.
A prerequisite to play is the League by the way, is that pétanque aspirants have to agree to join our club.

The Spring League being played during working days’ evenings (when people walk their children or dogs) gives us an above average exposure and the more participants promenaders see on the field, the better for it is for us.

We are not a bunch of weirdos anymore, we are becoming mainstream.

Hail  Brigitte, our Maid of Orleans!

Alain  ?



“When you are not practicing, remember, someone somewhere is practicing, and when you meet him you will win”.
Ed Macauley

? ????

Si vis pacem, para bellum the Romans used to say, “If you want peace, prepare for war”.
Or in other words, if you want to prevail, you need to practice… relentlessly.

To be a well-rounded pétanque player you need to know how to “point” AND how to “shoot”. Without this additional skill a pointer is just like a tennis player without a backhand. An incomplete, very vulnerable player.

When you play a casual game of pétanque, the stated goal is to win of course, but more importantly it is also to prepare you for bigger events, such as regional, national or international tournaments.
Winning is always satisfying, but it comes only second to sharpening your skills. All players (male and female), instead of restricting themselves to pointing ought to practice shooting.

You are not born a shooter. You become a shooter. And you become a shooter by practicing whenever there is an opportunity.

Winning is OK, but having fun is definitely more enjoyable than winning.
Éclate-toi! (have a blast) say the French. It should be the driving motto behind every game of pétanque.
Losing can be disheartening, but losing with panache more than makes up for a defeat. Losing with two well-executed “carreaux” under your belt is nothing to be ashamed of. Personally, I will gladly take such a loss versus a laborious 13/12 win.

Panache my friends is what makes a game memorable. Last year in Sonoma Antoine Lofaro won a tournament with two rare “carreaux” in a row.
A few days ago, Alain Marchand ended a game with another superb “carreau ». Nothing beats such an achievement my friends. It is an orgasmic feat that you need to experience at least once in your lifetime.

So, if you want to enjoy the ecstasy of the Big O, you need to practice mes amis, unrelentingly.

When you finally succeed you will wiggle and you will shake like a big rattlesnake ♫”.