June 9 tournament

Last Saturday was hot, well into the 90’s, but Sunday was a different kind of animal. It was about 20 degrees cooler and a pesky Northern wind made at times playing conditions (at least for me) rather uncomfortable.

But this didn’t stop many pétanque fans from attending our annual Steak Picnic/Tournament.
Granted, the attendance was a little smaller than last year, but the spirit was there.

You might not have noticed, but the field was immaculate and you can thank hard working Emily Etcheverry for that. Merci Emily!

The people in charge of the tournament were our three swashbuckling female musketeers, namely Christine Cragg, Verena Rytter and Liv Kraft.

They put together 10 triplettes that were as follows:

  1. Jean-Marc Bohin/Colette Van Der Meulen/Debbie King
  2. Jean-Claude Bunand/Hendrik Idzerda/Judi McCord
  3. Philippe Arnaud/Mireille Di Maio/Robert Belforte
  4. Bleys Rose/Verena Rytter/Richard Heglund
  5. Luc Pouget/Christine Cragg/Marc Di Maio
  6. Maggie Lane/Claudie Chourre/Leo Cantayre
  7. Bill Hansen/Francois Moser/Briana Olson
  8. Teri Sirico/Henry Wessel/Liliane Sebban
  9. Jean Bartkowiak/Sabine Mattei/Henriette Matocq
  10. Alain Efron/Charlie Davantes/Calvert Barton

On Sunday, I did not intend to play and was planning to spend the afternoon schmoozing and taking pictures, but this was not to be.
Due to a player shortage, I was cajoled into handling boules rather than handling my camera, hence the rather small number of photographs.

The people in charge of the barbecue were Alain Marchand, Antoine Lofaro and Francois Moser.
As a former professional butcher, Alain volunteered to buy and handle the meat.
He also prepared and cooked the “Jardinière” (a mixture of spring vegetables) accompanying the steaks.
Thank you gentlemen for volunteering and for a job well done.

Indefatigable Claudie Chourré and Mireille Di Maio also greatly helped. Thank you ladies.

Lunch was served around 12:00 pm and games started around 1:00 p.m..

It was decided that there would be three 13 points games and that no scores would be kept. People would play strictly for fun.
The winning teams of each game received 2 lottery tickets each and the losers one.
At the end of the tournament bottles of wine were awarded by random drawing.

Among the new faces on the field, there was charming Briana Olson who will hopefully soon join our club, Hendrik Idzerda  and Marcy Guiragossian who just did.
Please make them all feel welcome.

During the tournament, I had the pleasure to play with my old pal Charlie Davantes and new comer Calvert Barron.
Calvert happily surprised me by placing some very good shots and I dare predict a very bright pétanque future for this Southern Belle.

The tournament was over around 5:00 p.m. and bottles of wine were awarded to some lucky ticket holders.

Not a bad day after all!


PS: To look at pictures of this event, turn the sound on, click on the “Home” link at the top of the page, and click again on “My photos” located on the right side of the page.


Pretty woman

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” Ernest Hemingway

Yes, I lived in Paris as a young man and yes, it was indeed a moveable feast!

Since in those days I was chronically impecunious, the cheapest kind of entertainment I could afford was to sit at a sidewalk café and splurge on a cup of coffee.
Then, like a student of natural history I observed and catalogued the passing fauna.
That’s where I cut my teeth on the delicate pleasure of people watching. For you don’t sit at a sidewalk café for a silly cup of java. You sit there to check out the girls (or the guys, if you are so inclined) with the faint hope of a fortuitous romance.

Humans come in all kind of shapes, sizes and color. But some shapes are more conspicuous than some others. And some lucky women have it. They attract glances like honey attracts bears

nicebuttBecause there is something special about the way some women walk.
Some (wearing “utilitarian” shoes) walk without any particular grace, but some (particularly those with a thin waist and a round bottom) seem to move like models on a runway.
They seem to have this incredible bearing and this subtle balancing of the hips that mere mortals don’t have.
What does it? The high heels, the shapely buns, the smooth gait?
Non lo so!

I don’t know if this walk comes naturally or if it is an acquired skill, but this special stride is pure gold.
If I were a woman looking for Mister Right I would definitely invest in a few catwalk lessons, for there is a pot of gold at the end of that walkway.

Make my day, said Dirty Larry a few decades ago.
When I see such a woman, like an elegant sloop sailing by, she indeed makes my day, everybody’s day.

And the best view is when she walks away… when you appreciate to the fullest the hypnotic effect and the perfect synchronization of hips and buns in motion.

Have mercy on me for I am an inveterate sinner…


The joy of writing

In spite of what your parents or professors told you, anybody can be a writer.
And you don’t need a college degree to indulge your passion.
Because writing is a passion, a drug, an urge that must be satisfied.
This labor of love might never come to fruition, but this is beside the point. You write for the sheer pleasure of camping words on a canvas, just like positioning little lead soldiers on an imaginary battlefield.

In writing, or in any artistic endeavor for that matter, there are no rules.
Rules went out the window a long time ago, even before Picasso started his lucrative scam.
On the high seas of literature, a writer is a filibuster who flies his own flag and doesn’t owe allegiance to anyone.
He can tackle any subject, but above all his stories have to be captivating.
And a touch of humor is never out of place because humor is to writing what spice is to cooking

While everybody can write, few scribblers will ever see fame and fortune. But this should not stop anybody from indulging his or her passion.

The cardinal sin of a writer is to stray from the core of his story and bore readers with unnecessary drivel.

ZolaI am presently going through a book by Emile Zola called “Au Bonheur des Dames” (The ladies’ Delight) and I find it occasionally boring; I have no qualms then about skipping a few paragraphs.

In “Au Bonheur” the author tells the story of Octave Mouret, a maverick department store owner whose audacity and business acumen stuns and eventually ruins his old-fashioned competitors.

The novel is 442 pages long and Zola devotes entire chapters to describing the layout of the store, the type of merchandise they are selling, the colors of the garments…
Who care? Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn about silk or Kurdistan rugs!

Most readers don’t care much about descriptive prose; they want to be told a story devoid of “fillers”. They don’t care if a woman’s skirt is red or yellow; what matters is what she thinks, how she feels and what she will do.

In “Le Bonheur” our main concern is Denise Baudu.
The poor thing is desperately poor, lives in a garret, doesn’t have any decent clothes, is starving and has to take care of two brothers.
Could it be any more pathetic? We naturally root for her and want to know how she will get out of the gutter.
But Zola persists in describing the innovations of the store and the avant-garde sales techniques of its employees.
To this I say: rubbish!

He also talks about the miserable working conditions of the employees and this is relevant because it is a reflection of the mores of that time.
But misery is like dessert; it is only palatable in small doses. In large quantity it sickens you.
And unfortunately, Emile pours it on. For about three hundred pages Denise goes through hell to eke a living and survive.

I don’t pretend to be a Zola, but I could probably produce a more succinct and more stimulating version of this story. Hello Hollywood, are you listening?
And you won’t hear me talking about the thousands of items sold in the store.

I would probably spice up the story with a little sex and all these forbidden pleasures that god-fearing citizens secretly love to hear about.

But all in all, Zola was a decent, talented guy, concerned with the miserable working conditions of the proletariat, and above all for having the courage to take on the military establishment and write his famous “J’accuse” pamphlet.

Emile, you are a little verbose but I am still one of your admirers, and spurred by your intellect I will persevere in writing my humble little stories (with fewer words).
What else could a retired guy do for kicks?