A sense of humor 😜

 

A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs. It’s jolted by every pebble on the road.” Henry Ward Beecher

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I am not a believer but I totally agree with you on that Reverend.

Making friends, especially after a certain age, is an arduous pursuit. You are set in your ways and find it difficult to accept new people and new ideologies. Friendship is best started when young and open-minded. It gives you time to adjust to the idiosyncrasies of a would-be friend.

To gauge your degree of compatibility with someone, you need to take that person to a few different venues and observe his/her reactions. Is this person able to laugh at anything and most importantly at himself?

What I personally look for in a man or woman, is an easy smile AND a good sense of humor. Without this essential ingredient, regardless of any other qualities, a friendly relationship could not develop.

Making friends is almost like buying a new suit. You need to feel comfortable in it. You need to be able to bend in all directions without feeling constrained. If the suit feels uncomfortable, it is not meant for you.

It’s very important when making a friend to check and see if they have a private plane. People think a good personality trait in a friend is kindness or a sense of humor. No, in a friend a good personality trait is a Gulfstream.” Fran Lebowitz

It is true. A private jet is always a plus but it is not enough to win me over. I will settle for somebody with roller skates if he/she can make me laugh or laugh at my own jokes.

I am leery of puritanical folks who get easily offended. In my book I want to feel free to laugh at anybody or anything. When it comes to humor, nothing, absolutely nothing is off-limits as long as it is truly funny. Even dictatorships cannot stop people from laughing.
Off-color jokes by the way are not my cup of tea.

It is sometimes in stressful situations that you discover somebody’s sense of humor. When the Titanic hit the iceberg, somebody might have said:

“Which one of these is the non-smoking lifeboat?”

Remember: laughter is a universal lubricant that reduces stress. If you feel moody, stressed and have high blood pressure, go to “laughter rehab” for a week or two.
It will help, I promise.

Alain 💋

 PS: For Sale: Parachute. Only used once, never opened, small stain.

Recognition 🎖

 

“My grandfather once told me that there are two kinds of people: those who do the work, and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first group; there was much less competition there.”  Indira Gandhi

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There is a French saying that goes « Toute peine mérite salaire which can be loosely translated as “Any type of labor deserves recognition.” I totally agree with this.

It has always been my policy to give credit whenever it is due and whenever I can. When somebody endeavors to do something that will benefits others, I want to recognize that individual and publicly acknowledge what he/she has accomplished.

In accordance with this policy, I thereby recognize and praise Mark Shirkey for creating and implementing a functional website for La Pétanque Marinière.
Congratulations for a job well done.

But keep in mind that a website is always a work in process. It needs to evolve and adapt to various kinds of situations and that’s why your suggestions are important.
If you perceive that something is missing or should be corrected, inform the Webmaster and offer creative suggestions. I am sure that it will be appreciated.

Now what is the difference between an official website and a blog like mine?
An official website keeps its adherents informed and articulates the policies of the club.
A blog on the other hand is more personal and independent. It wants to remain free to express sometimes-unorthodox ideas not always condoned by the club.
A blog also can (and should) have a sense of humor whereas a website is generally more constrained.

Recognition also means that when you make use of somebody else’s material such as writing or photographs, you have a moral (and legal) obligation to name the original authors.

It is also ethical to ask permission to use somebody’s photographs and more often than you think, that permission is denied. In our highly litigious world you can even be sued for plagiarism of for using photographs that are not your own.

This being said, I applaud Mark Shirkey again for a job well done, and to facilitate access to La Pétanque Marinière’s newly created website I just added a link to it on my own blog. Look for it.

Alain 🎩

Never miss an opportunity to say a word of congratulation upon anyone’s achievement.   President Lyndon Johnson

 

A step ahead 🚀

 

“The road to success is always under construction.”
Lily Tomlin

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Never rest on your laurels. It has widely been proven to be detrimental to your health.
Regardless of your field of expertise or your past achievements, you should never forget that success is fleeting. You need to constantly reaffirm that your success was not a fluke, a one-time wonder.

The key to sustainability is to remain open-minded and to keep an ongoing commitment to innovation. Smart people start working on a new idea the minute they launch their latest creation. What makes them successful is their ability to constantly renew themselves.
And the words “cannot be done” are never part of their thinking.

Old ways were good (for a while), but to stay ahead of the pack you need to constantly innovate.
In the 16th century, Japanese samurais initially shunned the use of firearms that they found primitive and cumbersome.
“According to one estimate, in 16th century Japan, an archer could fire 15 arrows in the time a gunner would take to load, charge, and shoot a firearm.”
But after some reversals on the battlefield they saw the light and adopted firearms. At the end of the century Japan, continuing to innovate, was making some of the best rifles in the world.

On the other hand, the extremely successful Eastman Kodak Company (founded in 1888) due to its failure to quickly transition to digital photography, ran aground and finally filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

Not all improvements are great, but those who fail to adapt are doomed to early retirement.

Moustache Petes, (old style mafia bosses) didn’t believe in change either. Notorious Joe Masseria and Salvatore Maranzano were unceremoniously dethroned (quickly met their maker) by the Young Turks such as Lucky Luciano and Vito Genovese.

Never stick to old beliefs for fear of change. It could impair your breathing.

Last word of advice:

“Be nice to people on your way up because you’ll meet them on your way down.” Wilson Mizner

Alain

New Photo Book. Inquire for availability.

2017 Commemorative Cup 🏆

 

I hope that you didn’t forget to set your clocks one hour forward on Saturday evening and showed up on time Sunday morning. Then, when you arrived to the Marin pétanque field there is no doubt in my mind that you must have exclaimed: Leapin’ lizards, what a beautiful court!

Well compadres, you owe it all to a bunch of club volunteers who spent the best of Thursday morning toiling on your behalf.
These lovely people are (yes, yes I must name them) Charles Davantes, Liv Kraft, Christine Lemor-Drake, Henry Wessel, Calvert Barron, Sandra and Mark Shirkey, Honor Woodard, Marc Di Maio, Evan Falcone, Monique Bricca, William Lavelle, Tamara Efron and your faithful paparazzo Al.
I hope that if you played against any of these people, you were kind enough to let them have an extra point or two to show your appreciation.

After these dreadful/blessed interminable days of rain, it felt good to stomp on a dry ground and under a sunny sky.

Many people came to Marin to vie for the privilege of having their names engraved on the Commemorative Cup, but Lady Luck is notoriously capricious. Without her assistance you can forget the honor that you crave.
Personally, before a tournament I burn the sacred Nag Champa incense on her altar to seek spiritual enlightenment. It works… 50% of the time.

The contestants were:

  1. Patrick Vaslet/Shannon Bowman
  2. Carlos Couto/Beth Lysten
  3. Le Facteur/Claudie Chourré
  4. Doug Colleville/ Nancy Jencks
  5. Jean-Claude Bunand/Connie Lewis
  6. Hans Kurz/ Teri Sirico
  7. Brendan Cohen & Lynda Evans
  8. Antoine Lofaro/Eva Lofaro
  9. Alain Efron/Sabine Mattei
  10. Rob Houghton/Maggie Lane
  11. Brigitte Moran/Herb Moran
  12. Henry Wessel/Calvert Barron
  13. Serge Hanne/Carolina Jones
  14. Charlie Davantes/Susan Wyatt
  15. Louis Toulon/Monique Bricca
  16. Evan Falcone/Honor Woodard
  17. Mireille Di Maio/Marc Di Maio
  18. Jean-Claude Etallaz/Minette Etallaz

As usual 3 timed games were played before lunch to separate the elite from the scum. Six teams qualified for the Concours and the rest went to the Consolante.
Unsurprisingly my partner (Sabine Mattei) and I ended up in the scum category.
We started poorly but later on (thanks mainly to Sabine’s excellent pointing) we redeemed ourselves and took 1st place in the Consolante.

There is no secret that in order to succeed a team must get along. And we should always keep in mind that a little local tournament is not like a church service. We should be respectful of the other players, but not bring this compliance to extremes.

By the way, the organizers (Christine and Liv) kept scores (along with manual scoring) through a new software application conceived by Mark and Sandra Shirkey. The system still has few bugs, but I am pretty sure that it will be fixed soon.

In the finals, Louis Toulon and Monique Bricca faced Patrick Vaslet and Shannon Bowman. All Accomplished players.
It was an evenly matched game with the final result in balance until the end.

This was not a game full of fireworks. There were no spectacular “carreaux” or unexpected moves. It was in my opinion a very technical game with a lot of excellent pointing.
Ultimately luck favored the MDT (Marin Dream Team) and the cup remained in Marin County.

Now… darkness is the enemy of photography. Toward the end of the tournament (around 7:00 p.m.) daylight dropped significantly and it became increasingly difficult to take focused pictures. You can notice this when you look at the photo album.
When the tournament ended (around 7:30 p.m.) images were becoming blurry, especially when the subjects were moving.

At award and picture taking time, despite my repeated exhortations, the winners didn’t hurry enough to have their pictures taken and the final images were definitely blurry or unprintable.
Sorry about this but I tried to warn you. Next time, listen to Uncle Al.

Concours

1st place: Louis Toulon & Monique Bricca
2nd place: Patrick Vaslet & Shannon Bowman
3rd place: Doug Colleville & Nancy Jencks

Consolante

1st place: Alain Efron & Sabine Mattei
2nd place: Henry Wessel & Calvert Barron

 Heartfelt congratulations to the winners, and thanks for keeping the Cup in Marin County.

Alain 🎩

To look at photos of this event and listen to the accompanying background music, turn your computer’s sound on, and click on the link “My Photos” located on the right side of this page. For best viewing, go Full Screen.

Feel free to download any picture, but if you use those photos in another publication, please be kind enough to give me credit.
Thank you

Fractured relationships 💔

 

I was indulging in the guilty pleasure of reading a Hollywood celebrities’ column when I stopped in my tracks like a pointing dog, my snout sniffing the following sentence:

“This relationship just ran its course.”

So if I understand this properly, it means that all relationships (like electric batteries) have a limited lifespan and are bound to run their preordained course, before ending up in the romance recycle bin.
I am not naïve. I know that about 80% or more of all relationships end in breakups and 50% in divorce, but it seems that celebrities have a much easier time coping with this setback.

First, they have the moola, the pull, to lubricate a smooth retreat. They all have alternative living quarters and it is often just a matter of taking your makeup kit and your toothbrush back to a fortified position prepared in advance.

Most of us don’t have this option. When we live communally, one the parting couple has to find a new place to dwell and it is always a major inconvenience.
Depending on your age, you could go back to your parents, relatives or friends but as the old saying goes “a guest is like a fish; after three days it starts smelling.”
Not a good option.

And celebrities also have a much better chance to “hook up” with somebody new. They evolve in a fairyland candy store full of beautiful people and it is just a matter of picking a new item off the shelf and taking it home for consumption.

If you are an average Joe working in an office or a factory, your options are much more limited and you are therefore much more careful about breaking up and flying the coop.

It is not fair, is it? No, it is not.
Everybody should have the same breakup opportunities and if President Trump (it sounds odd doesn’t it) wants to be a Uniter instead of a Divider, he should issue an executive order (followed by a tweet) stating that anybody who breaks up with somebody will get federal housing assistance for a period up to a year.
This would do a lot to rally and unite many of his countless detractors.

But the other side of the coin is that there is more temptation and more chances of breaking up in La La Land than in a normal working environment.

When you have to kiss someone for a living, it is much easier to get involved with your coworker than when you toil in a car factory.
To be on the safe side, nobody should ever get entangled with a celebrity and many of the “golden people” know it. The smart ones will pick up a barrista, a secretary, a lawyer but not anybody linked to showbiz.
For instance Matt Damon, Aaron Paul, George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Meryl Streep, Jerry Seinfeld, etc. all married “Ordinary People” and seem to be much better off for it.

Breaking up is hard to do and it is sometimes better to stick it out rather than splitting up, but when worse comes to worse, it is good to remember that “When one door closes, another opens.”

Alain 🎩

 

My cat is a bitch 😈

 

Anyone who believes what a cat tells him deserves all he gets. -Neil Gaiman

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When I said “bitch”, I didn’t mean a nice female pooch, but a malicious, spiteful, vindictive she-devil feline. She is a certified bitch, “an attractive female who is capable of manipulating men into getting her way” and I have the scars to prove it.

Attractive she is. No denying it. She is a stunner and that’s what originally drew me to her when I first spotted her in the animal shelter. So I took her home.
You would think that she would be grateful for that, but this is not the way of a bitch. Gratitude is definitely not one of her endearing quality.
She gets away with murder because she is pretty, very pretty… and she knows it.

But under a glamorous appearance, lurks a quick-tempered female who can switch from pleasant to aggressive in the blink of an eye.
One minute she kisses you, the next she bites you. I am starting to think that might be bi-polar.

A cat basically sleeps, eats and grooms, not necessarily in that order.
My cat likes to find a sunny spot to lounge, with preferably a daiquiri within reach. Like a Hollywood starlet she pretends to snooze, but her moving ears betray her. Through half-closed eyes, she is perfectly aware of what’s going on around her and appraises her admirers. Loser… loser… maybe… loser… dweeb… nerd…
No, no autographs today. Speak to my agent.

Once in a while though she wants to play. That’s when it becomes tricky, because with a bitch “You can play but you will not win.”
In her overwhelming desire to win, she reverts to her true personality. Doctor Jekyll disappears and mister Hyde enters the room. She will stop at nothing (bites and scratches) to be victorious.
To play with her, you better wear chain-mail gauntlets and a catcher’s facemask.

“Cats are notoriously sore losers. Coming in second best, especially to someone as poorly coordinated as a human being, grates their sensibility.” ~Stephen Baker

She is definitely not your idea of a “normal” cat. She does not like to be petted and does not purr. Purrs are for sissies.
She will cuddle but on her own terms. At night she might sneak on our bed and cuddle next to me. Not because she particularly likes me but more likely to appropriate my body heat… with formal interdiction to move anymore.

She is a bitch, but damn I would find it difficult to live without her.
And that’s the timeless problem with bitches. It is extremely hard, if not impossible to serve them with their walking papers.
You want to get rid of me buddy? It’s going to cost you big time.
You better get a good lawyer, and for your information Gloria Allred and PETA are ready to back me up.

How can you not love respect such a Machiavellian bitch?

Alain

📷 PS: Watch my latest photo album.
To look at these photos and listen to the accompanying music, turn your computer’s sound on and click on the link “My Photos” located on the right side of the home page. For best viewing, go “Full Screen”.
Thank you 💋

 

La La Land 📣

 

“Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!”

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When I was a young boy, I loved going to a movie theater to watch a Hollywood flick. And in those innocent days, I would go at least once a week.

Not anymore. Is it age or hypersensitivity? I don’t know.
But what I know and what is a terrible annoyance to me nowadays is the incredibly high decibel level of the theaters’ sound system.
Teenyboppers and teenagers probably love shaking in their seats, but my eardrums are not accustomed to such brutish treatment anymore and I find this extremely unpleasant.

Confidentially, I prefer to watch a movie at home on my large high definition TV screen.
At home, in the coziness of your boudoir, you can watch it in your jammies or au naturel, and if you feel so inclined you can also indulge in a few puffs of locoweed.
At home, you can also mercifully control the sound level or stop the movie altogether any time for a spot of tea or a pipi break.
And in order to catch every bit of a sometimes-mumbled dialogue you can also turn on the subtitles. Last but not least, I cannot stand the sight and the sound of popcorn chompers.
Why then would I go to a stinkin’ noisy, uncomfortable auditorium to watch a talkie?

Last night though, coerced by my main squeeze who wanted to see “La La Land” I went to such a place…

The movie was not perfect and a bit long (2h 8m) but generally speaking we liked it. The two main characters (Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone) were very good but above all, I was amazed by the sheer versatility of Ryan Gosling.
He sang, he danced and above all he played a mean keyboard. Yes, it was really him who banged convincingly on the piano during the entire movie, and he was amazingly good.

The soundtrack of La La Land is catchy and pleasurable at the same time. Unlike some soundtracks, it has appealing melodies (City of Stars for instance) and as soon as I came home I went online and bought a few tracks from Apple iTunes.

I feel confident that this movie along with Canadian-born Gosling and Stone will reap quite a few trophies, if not the best movie award at the Oscars ceremony on February 26, 2017.

See you on the Red Carpet!

Alain 💋

Everything you see I owe to spaghetti. Sophia Loren

🥁 Bro hogs

He who hugs too much, hugs badly! Jeanne Calment

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She ought to know. She lived to be 122 years and 164 days, the longest confirmed human lifespan on record and she must have known quite a bit (more than any of us) about hugs.

And yes, I totally agree with the late Madame Calment. Everybody should know that the minute an item is mass-produced it immediately loses its exclusivity and its worth.

Imagine for a minute that De Beers and all the diamond-mining companies in the world suddenly flooded the market with all the diamonds they hold in reserve.
The price of the (no more precious) stones would tumble and all the “rocks” would become as worthless as common pebbles.
Overabundance my friends, is often synonymous to depreciation, to decrease in value.

The same goes for hugs.
A hug is special. It is reserved for lovers, family, pets or very close friends. You don’t hug any Tom, Dick or Harry because it has suddenly become fashionable.
If you do so, your hug is fake.

In a way, this sudden popularity of the bro-hug in America is not really surprising.
Young Americans are a mixture of copycats and lemmings. When they see something that looks cool, they will duplicate it; and they will do it to excess because in America, excess is the norm.
My theory is that the kids picked up this routine from hombres across the border. A well- executed abrazo is macho and supercool. A bad one is pathetic at best.
Old farts by the way don’t hug, they cross canes.

An honest hug should be spontaneous, not calculated. You don’t hug because it is “à la mode du jour”, but because you really mean it.
Some people are good huggers and some are extremely awkward huggers. The best huggers are women. It comes fairly naturally to them and most of the time they do it right.

For men, it is an acquired taste. Like a tennis backhand a hug needs to be worked on, otherwise you could get entangled in a ridiculous embrace.

One additional reason to distrust would-be huggers is that it is much easier for them to plant a dagger in your back while they are holding you tight.
Especially at the end of a tournament, beware of losers who want to embrace you. There is no reason for them to do so other than testing your defenses. In my opinion a handshake is much less dangerous and definitely more sanitary than a phony hug.

So, to sum up it up, I am not fond of bro-hugging a bunch of guys. I would rather hug a tree  than making body contact with a guy I barely know.

I will make an exception for a comely lass though, and submit to a voluptuous hug if I have to. Noblesse oblige!

Alain 💋💋

The man who would be king

“Because a man plays a king superbly well does not mean that he would make a good king.” 
Louis L’Amour

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Once upon a time (all fairy tales start like this), a little boy was born into an affluent family. He was of course well taken care of and grew up to be a tall, pleasant looking young man.
But with wealth comes privilege and sadly the young man became accustomed to having the right to anything he desired.

With the help of his father he grew richer but also with an exaggerated feeling of self-importance.
He soon became the GMNL/CEO (Give Me No Lip/Chief Executive Officer) of a large conglomerate, and like a conquering warlord he took to affix his coat of arms on everything he acquired.

After a long series of ups and downs, spurred by ego and driven by machismo he managed the unlikely feat of becoming the leader of a large country. This surprised many people and probably the man himself who during his scorched earth campaign constantly raged that the whole thing was “rigged”.

But once on the throne, he soon learned that the job of a CEO is quite a bit different from the job of a president.
A CEO very seldom hears the word “no”. It is even doubtful that he knows the meaning of it. He is is usually surrounded by sycophants who know better than giving this answer to their boss. They know from experience that this two-letter word is far more offensive than a four-letter word.

For a GMNL/CEO, a refusal to agree with him is synonymous to treason, and treason has to be punished. Underlings know that such a man holds them in servitude and they will stoop to anything to avoid hearing “you are fired!”

A wise president on the other hand, surrounds himself with advisers who are not afraid to disagree with him and won’t be punished for dissenting.

Wise kings generally have wise counselors; and he must be a wise man himself who is capable of distinguishing one. Diogenes

A CEO’s decisions might affect a few thousands people whereas a president’s resolve has an impact on the entire nation and the stability of the entire world.

The new king proved to be an impulsive man prone to send angry courier-pigeons messages to those who disagreed with him. Many people thought that it was not very kingly, but it proved very difficult to recall a pigeon once in flight.

One day a wandering soothsayer approached the King and whispered: Beware the Ides of March, Caesar!
The king who had no idea what that meant brushed him off and walked away surrounded by his minions.

With March fast approaching, a prudent man should always keep in mind that the Tarpeian Rock  is close to the Capitol.

Alain 🐷🐷

Twin wanted

Being a twin is like being born with a best friend. 
Tricia Marrapodi

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You might have done it your way but regrets some regrets are part of life.

Regardless of what some braggarts are saying everybody has some, sometimes deeply buried in your psyche.
One of mine is the absence of an identical twin brother.

It takes a long time to become BFF with somebody. Can you imagine the fantastic luck of being born with one?

Mark & Scott Kelly

Can you imagine sharing your life with somebody who, regardless of the odds, will always unconditionally be on your side?
Somebody who will scratch your back the minute you feel an itch?
Somebody who will anticipate and fulfill your wishes without ever having to ask?
Somebody who would finish a sentence for you?
Somebody who would never forget your birthday?

Yes, I do miss having a twin brother.

I have had girlfriends, some decent, some so and so, but girlfriends are a light year behind when compared with a twin.
A girlfriend will quarrel with you, betray you, leave you (or vice-versa)… things that are absolutely unimaginable coming from a twin.

For whatever reasons, brothers and sisters are commonly at odds. Twins never.
It might have something to do with spending 9 months together squeezed in very tight quarters. To succeed, you must to cooperate.
A twin is a product made of kryptonite, guaranteed for life and backed by an ironclad policy. It is totally devoid of fine print.

Bonds between a brother or a sister are not made of the same material. Their ties are brittle and they are not rustproof. With time they might fail.

So again, having a twin is a fabulous blessing worth its weight in gold.
And yes, I am jealous and envious. I am wondering if even late in life I could acquire a twin because (as Lord Byron said) “to know true happiness you must share it.”

So just be aware that I am in the market for a functional identical twin. If you come across one (even used) I am extremely interested.

Waiting impatiently to hear from you.

Alain 🎩