Fake news

Like it or not, the world is awash in Fake News and the trolls are having a field day. Incidentally, our Twitter in Chief did not invent the term; few people believe that he is capable of conceiving something that original.

Nazi Germany used the term lüegenpresse extensively in the 1930’s before it became fashionable again in the US. As today, anything that did not walk in step with the Führer was labeled Fake News.

At about the same time (1938) Orson Wells terrorized America with some Fake News of his own. According to his infamous radio broadcast (The War of the Worlds), a Martian invasion was taking place in New Jersey prompting widespread panic.

Now, with the Internet’s ubiquity, any Dick Tom or Harry can create some “News” and post it on social media. And unfortunately, Fake News travel at light speed while Facts use snail mail; depending on your political affiliations, you are going to swallow it whole or reject it.

When you read something outrageous on the Internet, check the source. Is it a right-wing outfit or a liberal publication?
Before swiftly dispatching the scandalous news to your bosom buddies, scrutinize the facts. And fortunately, there are a few impartial sites that will help you to debunk some stories and set you straight.

My mother used to say, “if it is in the newspaper it must be true.” Similarly, many people will quote the Internet as gospel truth. It ain’t so! The distinct line between fabrication and truth has become so blurred that it has become somewhat difficult to assess anything you read or anything you hear.

Instead of labeling something Fake News, any politico would be much more convincing if he/she came up with credible arguments proving that it was not so.

Before believing what you read, think impartially and the scales will fall from your eyes.


The age thing

Old age is the most unexpected of all the things that can happen to a man. James Thurber

Age, the number of years that you probably misspent, is a peculiar thing. It is a sneaky varmint somehow akin to cancer. It stays dormant for a long time until one day it stirs and demands attention.

Because age is like a loan, a fairly short-term loan. And when the creditor shows up, it always surprises you. Is my balloon payment already due? Really? I totally forgot…

Aging is not a universal process. Some people age faster and some slower;  it might have something to do with their lifestyle. I read somewhere that “The story of your life is written on your face.”
I believe that, especially for people in the entertainment industry.

Aging is a normal process, but it always surprises me to see movie stars getting old. Shouldn’t all the beautiful people always remain beautiful? Shouldn’t they remain frozen in time, the way you remembered them in their prime?
Elisabeth Taylor, Kirk Douglas, Rock Hudson, Brigitte Bardot, Carrie Fisher (whatever happened to delicious Princess Leia?), Burt Reynolds, Pamela Anderson… all these people sadly failed the test of time, and there is nothing more pathetic than an old face held together by cosmetic scaffolding.

One morning, when my mind was in neutral, I caught myself aging.  This guy in the mirror…  is it me? Really? What happened? I never noticed anything…
That’s right, Time (Age’s cousin) and Age are cat burglars artists. They operate with stealth, never attracting attention. When you notice the damage, it is too late… Time and Age are already having a pint of Guinness celebrating their savoir-faire.

But you cannot agonize over senescence. So far there is no cure for it.
Age is a state of mind. If you think old, you will act old… Therefore act like a baby if you don’t want people to think of you as old… and many do it!

Try to keep your soul young and quivering right up to old age. George Sand

So listen up antiqued people

“Age is no place for sissies”… so if you are a sissy, you better shape up to stay out of the twilight zone.
Mature as slowly as possible. “Age is a number, maturity is a choice.”



I recently added a “Translation” feature (bottom left corner)  to my blog to make it more appealing to non-English speakers.
Now, in the blink of an eye, you can read my posts in English, French, German, Spanish and Russian.

While the translation is a long way from being perfect, it nevertheless makes the text comprehensible. The computer makes short work of the job, but there are problems.
There is absolutely no such thing as a perfect translation, especially when so-called Artificial Intelligence (AI) handles it. An electronic brain is not able (yet) to master the subtle or double meanings of some words.

Traduttore, traditore is a famous Italian expression meaning “Translator, traitor” emphasizing the fact that the translator (human or otherwise) will always “betray” the author and the meaning of the original text.

For instance, a few days ago I wrote a little piece called “Extreme cleavage.” Midway through the text, you can find the following paragraph:

“A kamikaze décolleté, like a miniskirt or yoga pants, is not for everybody. To pull such a stunt successfully, you need the right equipment and the right garment.”

 Imagine my surprise (and my embarrassment) when the computer handed me with the following French translation:

 Un décolleté Kamikaze, comme un pantalon de yoga ou minijupe, ne sont pas pour tout le monde. Pour tirer un coup avec succès, vous avez besoin du bon équipement et le vêtement droit.

In case you did not know, “tirer un coup” is a crude French slang expression meaning “to f**k.” So, if I retranslated this text into English, it would say something like “To f**k successfully, you need the right equipment…”
Traduttore, traditore !

“A major difficulty in translation is that a word in one language seldom has a precise equivalent in another one.”— Arthur Schopenhauer


 A translation app is useful but not perfect and should thus be handled with caution. Whenever you use it, be ready to beat a hasty retreat if you put your foot in your mouth.

Alain 🇫🇷

“Translation is like a woman: if she is faithful, she is not beautiful; if she is beautiful, she is not faithful.”Russian Proverb

March 11, 2018 tournament

Yesterday, for those of you who missed it, was a fabulous day for pétanque. Despite a heavy fog blanketing our field in the morning, the day turned out beautifully. Cool in the morning yes, but sunny and warm in the afternoon.

Expecting a low attendance, I was surprised upon my arrival to see a sizable crowd on the courts. For our first official tournament (?) of the season, we had a great attendance. It looked like all the Bay Area clubs sent some teams.

Sacramento sent a contingent of experienced players, and Sonoma also sent strong players.

The organizers of the tournament (Noel Marcovecchio and Christine Cragg) registered 45 players but unfortunately, they are too numerous to be mentioned here. If you are curious, look at one of the photographs.

The format of the tournament was “select triplettes” and I teamed up with Francois Moser and my wife Tamara. As usual, 3 timed games were played before lunch to qualify players for the Concours or the Consolante.

I am an average player. When I play a tournament I would rather not qualify for the Concours and play in the Consolante… where my peers are. But as luck would have it, our team did well, winning 2 of our 3 games and we qualified for the Concours.

While playing the morning games, I was particularly impressed by Beth Lysten and Phominik Lee. Both are great shooters and scored a bunch of stunning “carreaux.”
After lunch, we lost our 4th game 9/13 and were out of the competition.

While a little disappointing, it gave me the opportunity to indulge in my other passion: photography.

So I spent the rest of the day taking pictures. Around 5:00 pm, I had bagged over 850 photographs. This is because when photographing sporting events, I shoot in bursts, 3 or 4 pictures at the time. Later on, I choose the bests shots for publishing.
Today I struggled to bring the number of photographs under 250.

By the way, if you want to see yourself in my photo collections, don’t dress in black. It does not photograph well.

At the end of the day, Sacramento faced Sonoma in the finals. Sacramento fielded Carmen Ellis, Tom Lee and Poe Lee.

Sonoma was represented by Barbara Hall, Kevin Evoy and Peter Mathis.

I didn’t know much about the Sacramento players, so I surmised that Sonoma would come on top. But to everybody’s surprise, the scrappy Sacramento team led by Tom Lee (the Cobra) unexpectedly defeated Peter Mathis’ team by a final score of 13/10.

Poe Lee, Carmen Ellis and Tom Lee
Final results:

1st place: Tom Lee, Carmen Ellis and Poe Lee
2nd place: Barbara Hall, Kevin Evoy and Peter Mathis
3rd place: Christophe Sarafian, Brendan Cohen and Liza Moran
4th place: Jean-Michel Poulnot, Bernard Passemar and Mireille Di Maio

Congratulations Sacramento. You deserve it!

1st place: Michelle Dang,  Chan Xiong and Phomenik Lee
2nd place: Maggie, Rob Houghton and Tim Wetzel

I hope that you will find yourself in my photos.


Social club

La Pétanque Marinière is a pétanque club, but equally important it is also a social club. A loose association of people sharing a common interest.

Reminiscent of a Renoir painting

The main reason for the club’s existence is obviously to play pétanque, but it also serves as a gathering place where you can meet new people, forge lifetime friendships and incidentally, find romance.

You often join a club for the same reasons that you join a gang: to evade loneliness. And regardless how happy you are with your mate, you cannot live in a vacuum. You need to leave your lair once in a while and rub elbows with unfamiliar people.

In the old days, places of worship served as clubhouses, but these places can be dull and stale. Before exchanging gossips, pleasantries, and confidences, churchgoers have to listen to a sermon, and many individuals would rather do without that.

In a social club, you don’t have to pretend to be pious or reverent. You can gossip to your heart’s content and use a great deal of profanity to let loose your emotions.

But besides exchanging gossips and risqué jokes, the club also has a more serious function.  It is a place where you can find friendship and comfort, especially after the loss of a dear one.

Even though club members might not know you that well, you are still part of a brotherhood, an extended family that will rally around when life gets rough.

So even if you don’t (yet) play pétanque, it would not hurt to join such a social club.

But not any club. Look before you jump!

“I wouldn’t want to belong to a club that would have me as a member.”  Groucho Marx

Alain 🍷

“Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Extreme cleavage

Last Sunday night, like millions of people, I watched the Oscars. While sipping on Champagne and tugging on my bow tie, I could not help but notice the abundance of “extreme” cleavages on the Red Carpet.

I am not opposed to cleavage, au contraire, but a neck to naveldécolletédoes not look or feel right. Especially in the middle of a passionate crusade against exploitation and objectification of women.

Women sometimes can be their worst enemy. I understand that on this significant occasion every actress is vying for attention, but showing too much skin is not the best way to do it.

A kamikaze décolleté, like a miniskirt or yoga pants, is not for everybody. To pull such a stunt successfully, you need the right equipment and the right garment. When showing cleavage, the V-line of the dress should stop right below the boobs.

If you look like Kate Upton, showing cleavage is a charitable obligation, but if you are a Twiggy lookalike, please abstain. There is absolutely nothing attractive or sexy about a boyish-looking woman baring her chest.

Flat chested women particularly look silly and over-endowed women look equally foolish. Showing extreme cleavage is a precarious balancing act between the sublime and the ridiculous. Don’t attempt this without supervision.

I am far from being a prig and I have always been on extremely friendly terms with the twins; but cleavage is an “amuse-gueule“, not the “piece de resistance.”

A woman likes to showcase her goods, but her wares have to be above average to be displayed. And when teasing, less is always more effective than more. When in doubt, show restraint and forget the navel.

Of course, if you have a wart on your nose or some facial hair on your upper lip it might not be a bad idea:

I’m gonna try showing a little cleavage with the hopes that it will draw attention away from my face.”

In this case, I would understand, but generally speaking, extreme cleavage is to be avoided.

“Free the twins” sounds good, but is your equipment up to the task?



Your pitch is what you are!

Liza Moran & Francois Moser

The way you cast your pétanque boule tells a lot about your personality. We all have a  characteristic pitch, but some of us show more style than others.

This does not necessarily mean that an awkward pitcher is a lesser player than a more elegant individual. While always pleasing, flash is not everything. Some less graceful contenders don’t look cool, but never fail to deliver the goods.

As a photographer, I would lie if I told you that it does not make any difference to me. To be candid, I favor elegant shots where a player stretches his physical ability and when his face reflects his effort. Everybody likes drama, isn’t it?

But your personal style is programmed by your genes and there is very little you can do about it. Ultimately though, results are what counts, and an awkward win is always better than a flashy loss.

The nice thing about the game of pétanque is that there is practically no age limit. You can almost play from crib to grave and I have witnessed players over 90 who are still energetically tossing the boule.

“Age is no barrier. It’s a limitation you put on your mind.” — Jackie Joyner-Kersee

I have put together a small collection of pictures that I took over the last 10 years and I challenge you to select the player(s) with the most eye-catching appeal.

I will personally deliver a Golden Cochonnet and a warm “abrazo” to the lucky winner.


Click on the “My Photos” link located on the right side of this page to see the pictures. For best viewing, go Full Screen.

First class

I must be feeble-minded. Despite abstaining from drinking and vaping, I cannot understand why, as planes are getting bigger, seating arrangements are getting smaller. Is it my imagination, or could airlines be hornswoggling us? I am definitely leaning toward the latter.

Naked greed is the reason why the average fellow is not benefitting from new planes’ spaciousness. Logically, as planes are getting bigger, passengers should be getting more legroom.

But when greed rears its ugly head, instead of spreading the wealth, executives will pack Coach passengers like sardines. “Squeeze them, they say, and extract as much juice as you can.”
And it is usually a guy who always travels First Class who decides this.

On a 3 to 5 hour flight, I will reluctantly book a Coach seat, but above 5 hours I want a more comfortable accommodation. I want to be able to lie down and get some sleep.


The only way I can do this is by booking a Business or a First Class seat. But there is a huge price difference between Coach and Business and I am not a plutocrat. So, is it really worth to do it?

Lately, the inner-me has been whispering “you only go around once…” Why don’t you experience flying with unreserved attention at least once before you take the last train to glory?

“If you continue to treat yourself like a 3rd class citizen, you’ll stay a 3rd class citizen.” ― Richie Norton

I don’t want to remain a 3rd class citizen; so I flew Business to Europe once… and it was nice… Very nice. That’s the way airlines should treat all their patrons… in a Business class manner instead of their contemptuous steerage way.
The problem though is that flying this way is expensive… and addictive. Once you have tasted Champagne, it is very difficult to go back to Ginger Ale.

I am waiting for a shrewd entrepreneur to create a level field, and I am counting on the likes of Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos to do this.
After all, who would ever have thought that you could make an RLS (reusable launch system) practical and economical? Nobody but Elon.

But greed is difficult to shake off.

“Greed is a fat demon with a small mouth and whatever you feed it is never enough.” Janwillem Van De Wetering

It will take an innovative maverick to solve this flying aberration, and this man (or woman) won’t be an old fashion capitalist. It will be an enlightened young entrepreneur who will find a clever way to pamper his followers and still manage to make a nice profit.


Tartarin of Washington

When I was in high school, like most of the French kids, I read a book by Alphonse Daudet, called Tartarin de Tarascon. And like anybody who read that book, I had a good laugh.

Yesterday, talking about the Florida shooting Tartarin of Washington told a gathering of US governors at the White House:

“You don’t know until you test it, but I think, I really believe I’d run in there, even if I didn’t have a weapon, and I think most of the people in this room would have done that too.”

Most of the people in America must have burst out laughing. This man has the uncanny ability to put his foot in his mouth.

As Stephen Colbert remarked in his monologue,

“There’s a lot in there that I doubt, but the part I really don’t believe is that he can run,” said Colbert. “Look, sir, we already know how you react to combat situations. You got five deferments from Vietnam.” 

Bragging is a risky occupation, especially when practically everything you do or say is recorded and cataloged. If you are not very careful, what you declared yesterday will swoop back like a boomerang and hit you hard in the derriere. It won’t kill you, but being laughed at is sometimes a fate worse than death.

Bragging is for people who wish they could but can’t. If you can do it, you don’t talk about it, you just do it.

European democracies have found a better system. They have a Prime Minister who does the talk… and takes the fall if the message does not resonate with the audience. The President then interferes and makes a presidential statement cleverly correcting what he told his right-hand man to say.

The limelight is like a tanning bed. It projects high-energy particles that can cause harmful radiation. The longer you stay in it and the more damaging it is to your health and your political career.


The art of “plumbing”

Yesterday 38 players showed up to compete in the One on One tournament taking place in Sonoma, but they were too numerous to be mentioned in this blog. Sorry!

It was cold but due to the lack of wind, not excessively chilly. Just in case, I came prepared with long johns and 5 layers of garments to protect my priceless body.

Three timed games, with 4 boules for each contestant, were played in the morning to determine who would qualify for the Concours and would play in the Consolante.

Yesterday seemed to be my lucky day, and the Gods allowed me to win my 3 morning games which put me in the Concours finals. As I keep saying “I’d rather be lucky than good” but smart aleck Patrick corrected me by saying “I’d rather be lucky and good” and he is damn right.

In any case I qualified for the Concours and I went ahead despite a painful back pain. Holly Sammons came to the rescue with 2 Tylenol pills and I went ahead with my ride. Thank you Holly, a good deed never goes unpunished.

On my 4th game I still managed another win but my lucky ride came to an end in my 5th game when I was thrown off of my horse by Ed Clay.

In the finals, played on a tricky gravelly court, David Lanter faced Delio Cuneo. Both excellent players. What followed was basically a game of “plumbing.”

What does it mean to “plomber” a boule? The player will throw his boule high in the air to give it more speed and more weight when it lands. This action minimizes the rolling of the boule when it touches the ground and allows it to stay closer to the cochonnet.

Both players were very familiar with this technique and used it almost exclusively. In my opinion Delio proved to be a better “plumber” and David a better “au fer” shooter with some spectacular shots.

Ultimately Delio prevails with a score of 13/7. A great match, evenly balanced.

Final results

1st place: Delio Cuneo
2nd place: David Lanter
3rd place: Jean-Michel Poulnot

Consolante A
1st place: Joe La Torre
2nd place: Steve Wolf
3rd place: Steve Paulsen

Consolante B
1st place: Antonia Paulsen

A great pétanque day!


As usual, you can look at photos of this event by clicking on the “My Photos” link located on the right side of this page. For best viewing, go Full Screen.