Picnic and Panaché tournament

So what happened yesterday? Who was there? How was the food? Who won?
Before I satisfy your curiosity, let me recognize the often-unsung heroes of this event, the people who toil “in the shadow” to bring a tournament to its successful completion.

The “ordinary heroes” of this affair were:
Claudie Chourré and Verena Rytter who did the food shopping, Jean-Claude Etallaz and Patrick Vaslet (also Claudie), who prepared, barbecued and served the lamb, Tamara Semionovna who spilled cooked the beans, and Verena Rytter and Bart Zachofsky who called the shots and ran this tournament.

In Marin, we are blessed with a nice shady field, but coming September, dead leaves are blanketing the ground and have to be removed prior to a tournament.

You can thank Claudie Chourré (her again) and Charlie Davantes for doing the heavy lifting on Friday, and Patrick Vaslet, Jean-Claude Etallaz and Rene Di Maio for lending a hand on Sunday morning.

Christine Cragg our standard bearer has not been seen for a few days. The last I heard, she had to fly to Texas to be at the side of her ailing father. We are thinking of you Christine. Best wishes.

Back to the tournament.

The weather was fair and the crowd good-humored. I counted about 70 people and 3 dogs who opted not to play in this tournament.
The food (meat and beans) was well prepared, and contrarily to last year I heard no complaints. I surmise that this has something to do (no offense Jean-Claude and Patrick) with Tamara cooking the beans. Drunken with success she also threatened to cook “borscht” for the same event next year. Stay tuned.

The main event started after lunch. It consisted of three thirteen points (no time limit) games. This tournament was open to all and its purposely chosen format was “panaché” (switching partners for every game). I am well aware that this is not everybody’s cup of tea (I confess that it is not mine) but the goal of this encounter was to encourage novices to get their feet wet and get involved with pétanque. So it is everybody’s obligation be tolerant and forgiving.

Since no scores were kept, there were no clear winners and no prizes, but everybody was a winner just for participating in this low-pressure event.

Thank you all for coming, and a special “merci” to all the people who volunteered to help.


PS: To look at pictures of recent events turn the sound on, and click on “My photos” located on the right side of the page.



  • Office workers make the best husbands. When they come home they are not tired and they already read the paper.
  • Ugliness is superior to beauty, because it lasts longer.
  • If you want to make a living, you have got to work. If you want to become rich, you need to find something else. Alphonse Karr.
  • A bore is a person, who continuously talks about himself, when I want to talk about myself. Sacha Guitry.
  • If you don’t go to people’s funerals, they won’t come to yours. Anonymous.
  • A jury is a group of twelve people of average intelligence, united by chance, who has to decide who (the accused or the victim) has the better lawyer. Herbert Spencer.
  • A bad experience is more valuable than a good advice.
  •  If somebody licks your boots, give him a good kick before he starts biting you. Paul Valery.
  • After the Gladiator fights were abolished, Christians invented conjugal life.
  • Why should you waste your time contradicting a woman ? It is much simpler to wait until she changes her mind.  Jean Anouilh.





Presidential conventions

According to MarylandReporter.com, “Federal taxpayers could be on the hook for more than $136 million to cover the cost of the major political parties’ presidential nominating conventions.”
Well amigos, that’s a lot of moolah… “A million here, a million there… Pretty soon you are talking real money.”

When it comes to politics, like most people, I am a babe in the woods; but I am not a total idiot either. I know that what people see at the convention has been preordained and blessed by the party bosses. So why this big circus on television?

With every institution on the face of the earth begging for money, why waste so much cash talking to people already acquired to the cause? Because after all, it looks like the convention is preaching to a choir of hardcore believers, not to the heathen.

A presidential convention likes to showcase a bunch of ambitious braggarts intent on proving than they are more royalists than the king. The more outrageous their comments, the more the zealots roar their approval. It is not unlike a “corrida” where every oratory pass is punctuated by enthusiastic “olés”.

Personally, I have the sneaky suspicion that a convention is a good excuse for normally straight-laced individuals to booze it up and blow some steam. And partially at the expense of taxpayers, because Congress appropriates $100 million ($50 million for each convention) to cover the cost of “security”.

As a flawed human being I understand that. But we are going through hard times, and wouldn’t be more reasonable to throw a few block parties and do away with this extravaganza? It would save taxpayers money, and the sorry sight of seemingly grown people gone wild.

Incidentally, the hanky-panky (eh eh eh) that happens at the convention stays at the convention! At least that’s what conventioneers hope for.

But ultimately, conventions are about money, and backroom deals.
Many delegates come to the Big Tent to lobby (pay) for a particular project. They are essentially saying, “I’ll give you some cash, but if you are elected, I want a piece of the pie”. And politicians will unabashedly take the cash and make promises that they don’t intend to keep.
But if you long for a piece of that delectable pie, you have got to be willing to pay for the ingredients, n’est-ce pas?

To sum it up, a convention looks like a Roman triumph when a victorious general came home and was heralded as a god after trashing the Barbarians. But in ancient Rome they celebrated after a victory, and not in anticipation of a victory.

As far as I know the Barbarians are massing at the gates and banging their shields with their swords.



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