In my head I keep a bunch of little drawers.
They are labeled with tags such as “stupid”, “ridiculous”, “frivolous”, “cruel”, “cute”, “sexy”, “mean”, “vain”, “vulgar”, “nice”, “dangerous”, “friendly”, “freak”, etc.

When I meet somebody, after an often brief conversation, I stick that person’s name in one of those little boxes; because consciously or not, we are all judgmental.
It might not be fair, but we will judge you by the way you dress, the way you talk, the way you walk, etc. and our perceived first impressions will end up (and remain for a long time) in one of these little filing cabinets.

Some people are not good at assessing other people. It might have something to do with a lack of proper training in the “people-watching” department.
If you are not able to “read” somebody correctly, you are bound for a lot of headaches in the future.

Neville Chamberlain never “read” Hitler properly… with the consequences that we know. He probably classified him as “reasonable” instead of “freakish”. Hitler’s imperious little mustache should have been a clue though, but Neville failed to notice the ominous threat in Adolf’s crumb catcher.

I honed my people-watching skills in my impoverished student days. For the modest price of a cup of coffee, I could sit at a sidewalk café and practice my people-watching skills for hours.
I learned to read body language, vacant eyes, smirks, etc.

It served me well. In the following years, I avoided being shot by hostile “fellagas”, fired from a lifetime job and surviving a series of amorous conflicts.

So, when you meet somebody new, watch your mouth and your steps. Avoid making insensitive comments or unsettling body noises for as long as you possibly can.
Leave immediately after making even the slightest favorable impression, for it will linger for a long time.

To sum it up, always strive to create a good first impression, otherwise in a near future, an avenging Soup Nazi will pop up and decree “No soup for you!



French movies

Since childhood, everybody likes to be told a story. Be it orally, in print or by film, people crave a good tale delivered by a good storyteller.
Unfortunately, there seems to be a shortage of good troubadours lately, especially among the French. Many of their movies reach an inconclusive and frustrating ending, and Gallic directors seem to have made a specialty of this sadistic genre.

There is nothing more exasperating than spending ninety minutes getting involved with the characters and suddenly being dumped into a dark dungeon full of unanswered questions.
I don’t know about other people, but personally I want a clear-cut ending. I demand to know who the murderer is, if the priest will marry the widow or if the heroine will walk again.
I don’t want an ambiguous ending leaving me wondering what happened, or what will possibly happen. It is not in my contract. My contract demands a neatly wrapped, bow tied ending.
At the end of the movie, I want a seamless conclusion or my money back.

I am not sure why some movies remain sketchy.
Could it be that the director was dealt an unfinished script? Or that the producers ran out of cash? Or that the main character walked off the set for artistic differences?
Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn!
What I care about is a finished product. I want a well-told, realistic, believable movie with a plausible ending.

The French don’t have a monopoly of this non-sense either. They have many disciples.
I just watched an overwrought, (award winning?), Iranian movie called “A Separation” and like its French counterparts it leaves the most important question of the story unanswered. Verdammt!
What’s wrong with these people? Is it a religious thing?

I am not saying that all French movies are bad; some like “The Artist” or “Les Intouchables » are excellent, but too many badly scripted movies are released giving the public an impression of petulant callousness.

As I always said, vote with your wallet. Tell your friends to boycott a bad movie and let it die an ignominious slow death, ignored and forgotten by all.



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.