The art of seduction

We live in complicated times. Social conventions are rapidly evolving and many people fail to update their code of conduct.

Any IT (Information Technology) guy will tell you that failing to update your software is risky. Similarly, neglecting to keep up with social mores is equally perilous. The latest furor about sexual harassment is a prime example of this conundrum.

Sexual harassment (and there is absolutely no denying that the beast hides there) is happening mainly due to ignorance. Most people are almost totally illiterate about the art of seduction, and it shows.
In this craft, playful verbal talent takes precedence over any physical contact. If you don’t know this, you are bound to commit sexual harassment… and dearly pay for it.

“All great lovers are articulate, and verbal seduction is the surest road to actual seduction.” Marya Mannes

A playful and friendly exchange of pleasantries is the way to start flirting. No coercion. Napoleon, a noted military strategist once said: “A woman who laughs is a woman conquered.” So make them laugh before proceeding to any further action.

To succeed you need to prepare. Just like cooking or any other skill, the art of seduction ought to be taught in high school. And before seeking sexual gratification you should be able to prove that you graduated from this course. So be prepared to carry proof of certification in your wallet.

Sex as everybody should know, has to be consensual, meaning that both people involved are consenting to it without undue pressure. To avoid future litigation, a consensus ought to be reached.

So before engaging in a sexual congress, there should absolutely be no equivoque! Both partners should read and agree to the terms of a carefully written contract. Then after shaking hands, the damsel could signal her willingness by saying: Go for it, dude!

Every game has rules and there is no exception in the intimacy game. Time out means time out. So, stop before entering the intersection, watch for the green light, listen for audible signals and then proceed with caution.

Uncle Alain

Kissing suspension

It was a kiss to level mountains and shake stars from the sky. It was a kiss to make angels faint and demons weep… a passionate, demanding, soul-searing kiss that nearly knocked the earth off its axis. Lisa Kleypas

Whoa! This is what I call a kiss! But let’s go back to our story.

In case you forgot, La Pétanque Marinière was founded in 1972. It was the brainchild of 5 homesick French guys named respectively Charlie Davantes, Louis Toulon, René Di Maio, Marcel Parnell, and Jean-Louis Bontemps.
Rene, Marcel, and Jean-Louis passed away but the club lives on.


Despite its current diversity, the club has undeniably French roots and many of its rules and customs derive from the French culture.

At la Pétanque Marinière, when we show up on the field we kiss all the ladies. This old observance is called “faire la bise” (kiss – on both cheeks). It has nothing to do I haste to say, with the notorious “French Kiss”.

This ritual is fine and dandy, but we are now facing a case of “Force Majeure”; a condition that takes precedence over all previous customs.

Due to the flu epidemic that is sweeping the mainland, we will now forgo la “bise” and greet each other with a very fashionable Fist Bump. It is painless and looks very cool. If it is good enough for a (classy) President it is good enough for us.

Don’t try to sneak up on anybody and steal a kiss. Penalties could be severe. If you must, you can blow a kiss but you cannot make skin contact. You cannot plant your lips on somebody’ else face; it is not kosher anymore.

I know that this is going to be difficult for some kissing enthusiasts, but you will have to control yourselves. Germs are everywhere and ready to leap on you and conquer your body. Remember, loose lips sink ships. Don’t torpedo your team with unbridled passion.
If you absolutely must kiss somebody, use Skype… or any other application.

We might soon have to wear a surgical mask but I draw the line at slipping into a niqab or a “burqua. I am deadly allergic to these garments.



“The fingers must be educated, the thumb is born knowing.” Marc Chagall

After scrutinizing my crystal ball, I predict that in the next decade or so your children’s thumbs will grow significantly. They will become longer and more flexible; they might even supplant the index fingers’ leading role.

What brings me to make this prediction? Keen observation my friends. I have noticed that when texting (or sexting?) teenyboppers use both thumbs to compose a message. They do this with an incredible dexterity that leaves me dumbfounded.

Personally, when it comes to texting, I am ridiculously clumsy. I do believe that I possess average thumbs, but when I touch my iPhone keyboard, it looks gigantic and it will press 2 or 3 keys at once. Not a good thing. So, when I have to text someone, I laboriously type my messages with my right index, one letter at a time, like a pecking hen. Pathetic!
In the future, if somebody tells you that he/she his all thumbs, he will not be complaining, he will be bragging.

But there is a dark side to this story. I am afraid that in a very near future short thumb people might be discriminated against. Just like well-padded people. When applying for a job, you will have to specify the length of your thumbs and if you fall short, this might be held against you.

Girls of marrying age will also start looking for long thumbed individuals, just like Russian girls chasing millionaires. Instead of “sexting”, we might see a lot “thumbing”, perverts emailing pictures of their long thumbs to the girls they want to entice.

And most probably, you won’t be able to use the old thumbs-up signal anymore. This is might be interpreted as sexual harassment and as Hollywood’s elite discovered, this is could be very toxic.

I am all for progress, but I feel a little helpless. How can I grow my thumbs to remain competitive with the young punks? Are there any blue pills on the market that will allow me to keep my thumbs up?
I don’t know, but here is another opportunity for Big Pharma: thumb growing pills.

I am stretching my thumbs daily. Hope that this will help.


I like you… or not

Sometimes when you meet someone, there is instant sympathy between you and that person. Le courant passe (the electric current is flowing).
It is difficult to explain why…

Brigitte & Liza Moran

Human chemistry is a mysterious thing, a no man’s land full of unseen obstacles and hidden traps. But when le courant passe, it is beautiful. Attractiveness has nothing well… little to do with physical attributes. Charm, the quality that makes you like someone, is a more likely reason.

The first trump card of an attractive person is a firm handshake. It is very important. It will determine (at least for me) if you will like that person or not. Personally, I think well of a firm and square one… A limp handshake, on the other hand, flaccid fingers offered somewhat reluctantly, makes me feel uncomfortable.
A winning smile and an easygoing attitude also goes a long way to make you une personne sympathique. »

Sometimes you know and sometimes you don’t know why you like somebody. But if you are lucky enough to like somebody and be liked back, it can be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Friends are very important, even indispensable; their main purpose is to keep you afloat, even-keeled. Their job is to bail out water when your boat is sinking, or celebrate your good fortune with you. Without friends, life would be unbearable.

“Sometimes talking to your best friend is the only therapy you need.”

You can find friends in the most improbable places: in grammar school, in prison, on the battlefield or even on the pétanque court.
That is why belonging to a club is so important. When marital bliss turns stormy, you can get out of the house and find solace with like-minded people. And it is easier to make friends with pétanque partners than with total strangers.
Friendship is not a big thing; it’s a million of little things.

“Good friends will mourn your death; best friends will come and clean your computer history immediately after you die.”

You don’t collect friends. Quantity is not what counts; it is the quality that matters. It is far better to have 2 or 3 true blue friends than a posse of fair-weather hangers-on.

So, if you feel blue, unloved, come to the field and strike a friendship with somebody. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.


Weed my lips

“You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy weed… and that’s pretty close.”

Since January 1st, the sale of weed is legal in California. This means that if you are above 21, you can now lawfully get stoned, wasted… or both.

But it is not as bad as it sounds. Regardless of what Conservatives are saying, decriminalizing marijuana is the smart thing to do. Legal or not, the stuff has been around for a long time and profited none but a few.

With the legalization of marijuana, a huge amount of tax money is going to flow into the state’s coffers and benefit many worthwhile organizations. In addition, the decriminalization of weed is also going to reduce prison’s populations and substantially lower state’s expenses.

Previously, if you lived in California, you often came across whiffs of marijuana wherever you went. Now it is going to be as common, as the smell of hot dogs or popcorn.

Marijuana, like booze, will get you high and drastically impair your cognitive functions. DUI (Driving Under the Influence) now also means that you will get prosecuted for driving while under the influence of weed. With freedom comes greater responsibilities; as with alcohol, you are going to need a designated driver if you want to indulge and stay out of trouble.

If you plan to purchase some weed, you need to know a few things about it.

First of all, marijuana is made from hemp.

“Hemp or industrial hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant species that is grown specifically for the industrial uses of its derived products.  It can be refined into a variety of commercial items including paper, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation, biofuel, food, and animal feed.
Hemp has lower concentrations of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and higher concentrations of cannabidiol (CBD), which decreases or eliminates its psychoactive effects.”

You can now buy from 1 gram to 28 grams (one ounce) of cannabis. You could purchase an eighth of an ounce (3.5 grams), a quarter of an ounce (7 grams), half an ounce (14 grams) or a full ounce (28 grams).
One ounce of weed is going to cost between $200 and $300 depending on the quality and the competition.

“If the whole world smoked a joint at the same time, there would be world peace for at least two hours.”

Think about it, citizen Trump.
Instead of using a “bigger button” to nuke North Korea, what about flooding it with tons of marijuana? The B-52s are big enough to do the job.
With the entire Korean peninsula under the influence, it might be easier to bring a mellowed out “Rocketman” to the negotiation table and get away from an unthinkable nuclear confrontation.


Names and faces

I am a quick study – I can memorize a script in an hour – but I can’t remember a name three seconds Don Adams

Charlie Davantes

For some people memorizing names can be difficult. They might remember the face but not the name, and this can be embarrassing. So as a public service (and out of the goodness of my heart) I elected for 2018 to put a name on each and every face of our club members.

Most of the people like to see their names in print while some feel uneasy about it. So, if anybody feels uncomfortable about seeing his or her moniker on the marquee of my theater, please give me a whistle and it will disappear in the blink of an eye.

Sometimes nicknames stick to people more tenaciously than their own names and there is nobody more notorious in our club than Le Facteur (the Mailman), aka Jean-Michel Poulnot. He is now retired, but even in retirement, a president remains a President.

There are also lesser-known nicknames such as Minou and Minette (Genevieve and Jean-Claude Etallaz) and La Bête Noire or La Foudre but none are as legendary as our own Facteur.

Our name is our identity. Every action one does affect his name, so think about it before doing something rash.

It is good to have name recognition. It is particularly helpful if you ever intend to run for president. In America, absolutely anybody can become president, as proven by the last election.

So without further ado… roll of drums… you can now peek at my latest photographic essay. I am not allergic to compliments… Feel free to express your approval if you like it.

Meilleurs vœux de bonheur et de santé a tous !

La Foudre

“There are women named Faith, Hope, Joy, and Prudence. Why not Despair, Guilt, Rage, and Grief? It seems only right. ‘Tom, I’d like you to meet the girl of my dreams, Tragedy.” ― George Carlin

Short story

He is short… about 3 feet from head to toe, but don’t let this small detail fool you. It is said that dynamite comes in small packages” and spending a week with a grandchild can be a volatile affair.
It is a very TALL order to babysit a short kid.

He may look like an angel, but this cherub-faced imp is Beelzebub in disguise. Barely two and a half, this kid has a short fuse… and a long memory. If he does not get his way, he will protest, loudly.

Fortunately, like a hero of Ancient Greece he was fitted with two Achilles heels: food and cars. He can, therefore, be distracted and bribed with grub or a new toy.

He has a limited vocabulary but understands more than he lets on. His uncertain pronunciation makes him difficult to comprehend but he will righteously correct you if you misunderstand him.

He is as cute as a button and wherever he goes, this charmer projects the same charisma as a pretty girl. The bouncer will always give him an automatic pass without checking his bag. He may carry three pounds of dynamite, but his seraphic smile wards off any further inspection.
By the way, never try to take away what you give to a kid. They are absolutely intransigent about that. A deal cannot be broken!

Nowadays grandparents need a lot of stamina to keep up with grandchildren.

Children are like crazy, drunken small people in your house. Julie Bowen

 If you ever accept to take care of your grandchildren for more than 3 days, you better go through a Marines Corps fitness program before letting the little tykes invade your domain. Hand to hand combat training might also be a good idea.

But no matter how demanding this experience can be, it is also rewarding. There is nothing more gratifying than the smile of a small child.

And they are never more endearing than when they are resting in the arms of Morpheus clutching their security blanket.


2017 Most Improved Player

Most everybody has seen her or played with her. She is difficult to miss. Due to some medical impairment, she is socially awkward, but she has proved to be a genuine pétanque aficionado. She practices almost daily and has tremendously improved her game.

When she started to come to the field, she was way off the mark and many people showed little inclination to play with her. But her dedication to the game and hours of practice paid off.

She is now surprising many with her pointing skills. Instead of being a hindrance she has become an asset to her teammates, and her almost childish delight after delivering a good shot is touching and heartwarming.

Pétanque has also helped to transform her from a bashful, withdrawn individual to a more confident human being. She was once reluctant to any physical contact, but she now demands a peck on the cheek when meeting somebody.

So, for all the above and other varied reasons, I nominate Susan Wyatt MIP (most improved player) of the year.

When you see her, let her know how much you appreciate her newfound confidence and ability.

Three hearty cheers for Susan! Rah rah rah!

Happy holidays everyone! Joyeux Noël and Bonne Année a tous!

Papa Noël

The Smart train experience

Yesterday I rode SMART (Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit) for the first time and I am totally sold on it. I might even go back to work (just kidding) merely for the pleasure of riding this train.

If you are a regular commuter (or if you use any form of mass transit in the Bay Area), acquiring a Clipper card is a must. With this pass, you will never have to search for coins, bills or credit cards. You just swipe this magic wand in front of a small screen and you are validated. You do this at the departing station and again at the arriving station. This is by far the easiest way of paying for your fare.

So again, yesterday we departed from the Novato Hamilton station at 10:11 am and were in downtown Santa Rosa at 10:54 am. The 43 minutes ride was very smooth and there was absolutely no comparison with the noisy trains of yesteryear. The wagons appeared to ride on rubber tires and there was very little shaking.
At this time of the day, the train was not crowded and we easily found some seats. We indulged in some coffee while watching the scenery going by. You can also use your phone thanks to an excellent Wi-Fi network.

For the time being, this train goes from downtown San Rafael to the Sonoma County Airport. Later on, it will extend to the Larkspur Ferry and all the way to Cloverdale. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that if I had to commute daily to San Francisco (especially when the Larkspur station will be open) I would ride the SMART train. I guaranty that this mode of locomotion will significantly lower your blood pressure.

In Santa Rosa, after some lèche-vitrines (window shopping) we stopped at the Omelette Express café for sustenance. It was crowded but we easily found a table. The portions were copious and the waitresses appetizing.

Santa Rosa reminds you everywhere that it was the home of Charles Schultz, the creator of Peanuts. There are statues and pictures of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy and the whole gang everywhere. We wanted to visit the Charles Schultz museum, but it was too far from the train station. We discovered too late that Santa Rosa offers a complimentary shuttle (ParkSMART) from the SMART station to the Old Courthouse Square.

The ride back was equally smooth and we were back in Hamilton at 1:44 pm.

SMART, a truly smart way to commute!


To look at photos of this event, click on the “My Photos” link located on the right side of this page. For best viewing, go Full Screen.

An affair to remember

Yesterday, devoted members of La Pétanque Marinière met at the Left Bank brasserie in Larkspur, to celebrate the club’s annual holiday lunch/meeting.

Mark & Sandra Shirkey

This event took place in the restaurant’s private dining room located in the back of the main dining room. It was small and cozy, but the acoustics left a little something to be desired.

Your correspondent (kitted out with his sneaky little camera) was there naturellement to share with you the details of this affair.

The guests arrived between 11:00 and 11:30 a.m. and chose where and with whom they wanted to sit. They had a choice of Salmon salade niçoise, Cheeseburger, Croque- monsieur, Salade de poulet and Jacques Pepin’s mixed greens salad.

Shortly thereafter the waiters brought the dishes (plus white and red wine) that the guests had previously ordered. The service was good and the atmosphere was convivial.

Toward the end of the meal, after the “crème brulée” and the coffee, Brigitte Moran presented a few token of appreciation to some deserving volunteers. Henry Wessel and Calvert Barron, Mark and Sandra Shirkey and Charlie Davantes where among those recognized for services rendered.

Then Christine Cragg (our president) gave us the state of the Union address and what’s forthcoming in 2018.

Everything was over by 1:00 p.m. and half of the guests headed for the field for a few rounds of pétanque.

It was a nice, good-humored affair and I believe that a good time was had by all.

“Keep your friends close, your enemies closer, and receipts for all major purchases.”– Bridger Winegar

Merry Christmas to… nearly everybody!


PS: it is extremely difficult to take well-contrasted pictures in a room flooded with artificial lights; please excuse the quality of some of the accompanying photos.