January 31, 2005 - Tax Time
   For The Outtake Lover In You: The TV told me there's a new Nirvana box set out, advertising that among it's 79 tracks are "68 never before released tracks."

   Alright, Kurt Cobain has been dead for eleven years. I have to guess we've reached the point in the barrel where we're getting "Kurt Yells At Courtney," "Kurt Bitches About Fame," "Kurt Talks To His Mom On The Phone," "Krist Tries To Play Drums" ... you know, the meat. "Dave Does A Solo Set To His Shopping List."

   It's not like people aren't going to buy it anyway. And really, it'll serve as good notice that Krist Novoselic actually has had a more boring post-Nirvana career than Kurt Cobain.

   Michael Jackson: Trust me when I say I could very easily begin a new daily segment, "Michael Jackson's Kiddie Court Corner," and only be forced to stop when the AP figures out I'm using all their photos without paying them the $8 million dollars they'd surely want for them.

Jackson Supporters
-- However, there's only so much
of this that I'm willing to look at.

Michael Jackson supporters wait in the early morning cold for the arrival of U.S. pop star Michael Jackson, outside the Santa Barbera County courthouse in Santa Maria, California, for the first day of jury selection in Jackson's child molestation trial. (AFP/Jon Austria)

   As asked in the office tonight, exactly what does your daily life have to be like for the human thought process to end at standing outside a California courthouse to support a musician you've never met? And not just stand there, but bring pictures and signs and dress like the accused ... how does this happen?

   Never mind just the mind boggling nature of going, but going for the start of jury selection?! It's far more crazy than this.

Philadelphia Faithful Often Fly Too Far
-- Given how many people I know from the Philly area, and Pennsylvania in general, I probably haven't properly explained how irrationally I'm digusted by the masses of the city's fans. Suffice to say, that's no longer the case.

   When you consider there's already a Philadelphia-area reporter who has threatened to punch me in the face on live television, whether it was in jest or not, I'm really picking the wrong city to make my professional enemy.

   However, at least I'm limiting it to one city.

   • I rarely get all that excited about lists, but this one ranking the 80 all-time Super Bowl QBs based on their performances hits things solid as can be.

   Especially considering it'd be easy to put Steve Young's six touchdowns ahead of the first man ever to say "I'm going to Disney World!" after the win, Phil Simms. I often wish I actually could remember the 39-20 win over the Broncos in Super Bowl XXI, though considering I turned out a Giants fan anyway, it probably doesn't make a difference.

   And I might acutally own a Phil McConkey throwback, which is clearly in the Top 10 of alltime Least Necessary Purchases.

80. Kerry Collins, Super Bowl XXXV
Everything terrible about Morton's game, but more of it. Less than three yards per attempt, only six first downs despite 39 passes, plus four interceptions and four sacks without a single touchdown. Even after adjusting for the quality of the 2000 Baltimore defense, nothing comes close to this as the worst game for any quarterback in Super Bowl history.

   Just seems worth noting that, in a game I was confident enough about to place a bet larger than any other I ever placed, the team's quarterback offered the worst performance in Super Bowl history immediately following the greatest performance in Championship Game history.

   Should you need any further evidence that sports gambling is among the worst ways you can spend your money, please punch yourself in the jaw immediately.

January 30, 2005 - How Not To Appear Smart
   The Royal Rumble: It is very rare that I publicly acknowledge watching wrestling with even a moderate amount of regularity -- not so much for any reason, but really, how often do sweaty people and shiny underwear come up in a conversation? I do have to say, however, that the aforementioned show was quite entertaining tonight. Every so often, those in charge can assemble a card that's worth whatever exorbitant amount they expect people to pay every few weeks.

   And yes, I do think I can say that considering the TV viewing habits of some others are such public knowledge. Though I will say if you get a chance to catchup with the already-aired episodes of the latest Surreal Life as we did tonight, that's some well-spent TV time. When you consider there's also a message board with hard-hitting opinions ("DA BRAT IS THE ONLY MORAL PERSON ON THE SHOW") and exploring questions ("do girls fart?"), it just goes to show all quality entertainment doesn't cost $34.95.

   Painting The Picture: Over the weekend, the Arizona Cardinals did something they hadn't in 45 years. Unfortunately for their 45 fans, it wasn't win a championship.

AZ Cardinals, Old and New
-- It was force those 45 fans to buy new hats.

   However, don't let your eyes draw their tweaked-just-enough-to-notice logo in your brain. Rely instead on the descriptive storytelling of team vice president Michael Bidwill, who ushered out the era of the "parakeet" by a way far cheaper than improving the on-field product.

The outline is in black. We've made the beak much more predatory and much more aggressive. The face is much more streamlined. It's faster looking. The eye has been described as mean, we'll say tough. We've taken tail feathers and given them speed, as well."

   Yes, we wouldn't want your fans thinking you were mean or anything. After all, it's not like this is football.

"The only birds I know about are the duck and the dove and the quail,
birds that you shoot. You're not really supposed to shoot cardinals. I don't know
if I'd shoot this bird. It looks pretty mean. This bird might pull a gun out and shoot right back at you."
-- Arizona quarterback Josh McCown.

   And with a ringing endorsement like that, hopefully the Arizona fans will continue unconfused.

   • I do believe it is very high in the unwritten rules of Netiquette that if a person writes this atop their Links list:

Cooch's World - One of the funniest bloggers on the net.

   and then writes a post that consists mostly of:

Subject: 300 hits!
Whoo, another milestone, I am getting to become a regular Jon Couture.

   it is only fair I give them one of these.

   Dan Passner goes to Brandeis, which should be reason enough to give the undergrad some pity hits, but since the term "pity hits" is rarely seen as complementary, let me also encourage you by saying it's not every day one sees a Jeopardy! critique containing "I mean I fucking hate those two weeks of softball questions and precocious pricks like the Palestinian Authority hates the fact that every Jew isn't in the Mediterranean with Steve Zissou", the question "What Would MCPEEPants Do?" and the phrase "vox populi" in such quick succession.

   If nothing else, Dan does seem to be trying to turn his school's quiz bowl team into the sort of nonstop nerd party the BUCB teams of the Cooch administration were so naturally -- anyone who expresses disappointment about not offering a "good time" on a team trip should take heart in knowing we really did once empty ice machines on two floors of a Philadelphia hotel just so we could turn a bathtub into a booze cooler.

   The key in offering the aforementioned "good time," in my opinion, is realizing there are people who derive their good time solely from the actual gameplay at a quiz tournament. Cruelly mock them, with bonus points if you can manage to throw a mini powdered donut from your high-rise hotel room across a city street in the process.

   We never did get a donut across the street ... while Tastykake products will make you fat, they don't have the heaviness of dough required for truly successful defenestration.

   Was it disappointing to find out that "defenestration" wasn't just a made-up BU word.

January 29, 2005 - If Only They Used It For Good
   Bowling: Some was done tonight. However, since I made no effort to write anything down, let's just leave it at I lost, but won anyway.

   The most impressive portion of the evening was that Bradley Bowl -- previously best known for being the place one Tom Livengood bowled a 215 and, because he was so excited, left the lanes still wearing his bowling shoes -- has installed a new scoring system with full-motion video, exciting graphics and total pin counters. It's nice to see them step into the early 21st century, even if their speaker system still sounds like it was stolen from a local fast food establishment along with the inflatable SpongeBob.

   The World's Greatest 'Family Guy' Quote: Admittedly, the IMDb message boards are not the best place to be looking for anything, but if you think "The safety word is 'banana.'" is the best the show has to offer, you should flaggelate yourself to get off a whole lot less.

   Were I one of those people who holds tournaments, this could be settled in a democratic manner. However, since I frequently quote Kent Brockman in saying, "I've said it before and I'l say it again, people: Democracy just doesn't work," I will allow that to carry the day.

   And it was a baby ox.

   • I may have been wrong about something above.

   The IMDb message boards may be the best source of pointless and obscure online petitions alive today.

The fans of the 1993 cult film "The Crush" demand a special edition from Warner Brothers (A Time Warner Company) with Morgan Creek. We have come to realize that there are many scenes cut out. Some of them are very easy to find-they appear in the tv-edited (cable) version of the movie. We will not except your previous edition of "The Crush" with trailers for "Other Great Morgan Creek Movies" and an incomplete filmography list for only four stars in the movie. If you don't believe that the film is good enough to re-release on dvd, then look at it this way: Alicia Silverstone is starting a new tv show on NBC called "Miss Match" it would be the perfect way to advertise the new dvd that we (the fans) demand.

   Though it is nice to see a mention of Juwanna Mann at any time of the day.

January 28, 2005 - Bounding Back
   Paging The Baseball Stat Geeks: Looking around on the massive Elias site for Thursday's update got me thinking ... as a baeball writer this season, what's a good list of books I should assemble for a research library. The 'Elias Book of Baseball Records' will be on the way once I get to a computer with a printer, but there's undoubtedly more that I'm missing.

   The Baseball Prospectus seems to be getting better reviews than the similar work by Bill James ... I could always just get both, but if there's no need, that'd be good to know.

   Any and all suggestions welcome ... your words now could affect my words later.

   • It's amazing how much shorter a two-and-a-half hour drive, even one featuring gridlock through Providence, when the last time you were on that road, Pittsburgh was the other half of your travel plans.

   To kind of tie everything together, I was thinking the other day much the same way I did in high school when I chose to play golf over tennis ... would I rather be a baseball writer or a football writer? The former is very alluring, but the fact I dislike how so much of the baseball season can be considered "throwaway games" -- the '04 Sox were mediocre at best from May 1 to July 31 -- makes the "every game matters" style of the latter a lot more appealing.

   Of course, in the end, I played both golf and tennis because golf became a fall sport my senior year. That'd be a nice set-up to have now, since they don't overlap seasons, but I probably do have to realize there's a reason no journalist I know of anywhere does both with regularity.

January 27, 2005 - Onion Rings: A Healthy Alternative
   The Bill Simmons Intern Contest: I post this not so much for me, but because there are plenty out there who would kill for the honor of getting to be the man's Internet lackey for nine months.

   Personally, I don't think I have anywhere near the tolerance for The Real World/Road Rules Challenge, Qwntel Woods's bulldogs and mediocre movie trivia to make the cut, but more power to the rest of you. Plus, I'm pretty sure I'm disqualified for daring to call myself a fan of two teams who play the same sport, and I've reached the part of the program where I read half his columns and go, "OK, if I don't find 10 factual errors in this, everyone's pizza is free."

   However, should anything open up at the Elias Sports Bureau, I'd leap full into it if not for the fear I'd immediately start frothing at the mouth at the thought of being surrounded by so much useless information.

   • As the title to this implies, I had onion rings for dinner tonight, along with a foot-long turkey sub (hot) with lettuce, tomato and mustard.

   I considered this healthier than the alternative -- a small sausage or pepperoni pizza, or the Buffalo fingers and French fries combo where I wish they wouldn't give me the fries when I get it, but inevitably eat them anyway.

   Moments such as these should make it clear to you that I am not, in fact, in shape, but if you choose to believe that I am anyway, by all means go right ahead.

   Admittedly, many of you might not be able to run three miles plus on the treadmill semi-regularly, with the reason you don't do it more being both laziness and because running is boring.

   To you, I suggest getting a hot turkey sandwich with lettuce, tomato and mustard, along with onion rings, instead of a small pepperoni or sausage pizza. I hear it's a healthy alternative.

January 26, 2005 - Conjecture Circle
   The Weekend: Believe it or not, there were things I left out of yesterday's hearty discussion on all things Pittsburgh.

Chipped Chopped Ham
-- Here's one right now.

   Now, I know I have at least one Pittsburgh native in the audience, even if she hasn't written in this in more than a year. I've been to the Isaly's Web site, but it both isn't exactly helpful and frightened the crap out of me because it marries cold cuts and ice cream.

   Apparently the company also invented the Klondike Bar, but that really doesn't help discern anything about what I assume is the western Pennsylvania equivelant of cracklins.

   Just more evidence that I think we could package Pennsylvania, New Hamsphire and Maine for a trade with the South to get us the female population of North Carolina and perhaps Georgia. Having met several from each state, I think it's win-win. Plus we keep Vermont solely because of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, specifically Cherry Garcia.

   I'll organize the paperwork ... someone let them know we're interested.

   On Work: Everything being what it is, let's not forget that were in not for the creativity of and opportunities afforded by the staff at the S-T, this would be me.

Some people edit copy because they choose to. I copyedit because I must. It isn't merely a matter of making a living. If it were that, I would have been line editing years ago. No, I've been fascinated by the almost mathematical questions of copy since the summer of my 15th birthday, when I found a leather-bound diary hidden away in the cupboard of an old abandoned farmhouse. In the diary, a young housemaid recorded her hopes, fears, and aspirations.

   And that's just not good for anyone.

   In much the same way ESPN's Voice of the Fan is not good for anyone. The comedic potential is there, but so is the chances someone screams and my speakers explode.

   Though really, this discussion on the death of the newspaper sports column is far more pertinent. I think the author overstates his bounds as a little bit, as I view the column as a place for analysis more than a place for reporting, but that's just me.

   • I would probably watch this movie.

   However, I'm also the kind of guy who looks at Sharon Stone and Bono attending the World Economic Forum and wonders, "Hmm. I had no idea papparazzi attended every event held in Europe."

G-8 President and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, presidents of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki and Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, former President Bill Clinton, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and U2's Bono agreed at the Annual Meeting that Africa's needs must be seen as an emergency before the Continent will receive the required critical mass of resources and support.
-- Thank goodness U2 sided with good.

   Fortunately, the site had cartoons to keep my interest.

January 20-25, 2005 - Rust Belt Redux
   The Copout: Technically, my trip extended into Tuesday the 25th because I didn't get back to my apartment in Snowbound until 1:30 a.m. Therefore, I bent the rules. No one likely noticed this, so my even mentioning it is odd, but maybe a surprise stalked lurks out there.

   Though really, if you're stalking me, I'm flattered. Just spare me the weapons and I may even take you out to dinner.

   I Missed The Blizzard Of '05 ...: Apparently, all I'm getting are these nasty snowbanks.

January Snowfall
-- Please note it's not a drift, and it's nearly digging into my hip.

   Suffice to say wherever you live, Whale City's 30 inches is more snow than you got. * And, as if that wasn't enough, it should be snowing when I wake up on Wednesday morning. Genuinely makes me glad I spent my $2.25 tonight to get 1,215 miles of highway grime off the car.

   * -- Statement is retracted if you live on Cape Cod or parts of the North Shore, since numbers there went as high as 36-38 inches. In such a case, replace with "Suffice to say, you suckers still give me something to laugh at as I sink nipple-deep into a plowpile."

   • Now then, we've got a lot to discuss. A lot more than I probably will discuss, but whatever. I just found out this weekend "irregardless" is technically a word, so Tom Brady isn't so silly for having used it twice in the same press conference.

   Twenty Talking Points ... because it's a nice round number.

   1) Because it created a debate here rivaling few not involving pasta pots, the route we took was pretty straightforward -- 195 out of Whale City to 95 in Providence, to 287 in the sliver of New York before NYC, to 78 somewhere in New Jersey, to 81 in Pennsylvania, to 76 (the Penna. Turnpike) in Carlisle, to 376 and into Pittsburgh. As mentioned above, I drove all 1,215 miles in what was a 23-hour round trip -- 10 out, 13 back.

   2) The drive out was about as simple as a 10-hour drive can be, which I should have known meant it would snow and the bridges would freeze over on the way back. It's always good to be at a standstill on a bridge, but fishtailing as you try to go even 2 mph when you can move. Safe to say, given we at one point stopped at a gas station with standing water in the bathroom and guys gassing up snowmobiles they'd driven to the pump, I've only probably been more petrified behind the wheel driving through the vast expanse of northern Arizona.

   However, the roads improved and we made it back without a single direct mention of sodomy.

   3) And oh the things we saw.

Pittsburgh Fans Steel For Battle
-- For Saturday's front page, photographer Mike Valeri and I covered the official Steelers pep rally. I can't say enough how much I now understand why Ben Roethlisberger had the top-selling jersey in the NFL this season.

Steelers Usually Fall Short
-- For Sunday's front page, after we couldn't get into Heinz to take pictures of the playing surface, what I felt anyway was a nice marriage of all things preview. Others, as it turned out, didn't feel that way.

Pittsburgh Fans Left Waiting
-- The post-game column, written with a Steelers angle because, honestly, the reaction of their fans and their constant failures was much more interesting to the writer in me than another New England blowout. Plus, I'm not the paper's Pats' writer.

Another Amazing, Predictable Win For Pats
-- The Tuesday follow-up, since we'd had to file right at game's end the previous night. I feel like this one really ties up my whole weekend of coverage, and of the four, it's probably my favorite. Not that I thought any of them stunk.

   4) Counting this Steelers notebook for Saturday, that's five stories in six days. There was supposed to be a sixth piece, also written for Sunday's paper, but we'll get to that story soon enough.

   5) Given the PA Turnpike reststops led to me consuming more McDonald's than I ate all last year -- thanks for making up my sodium and mayonnaise deficiencies, guys -- let me assure you that is not why I look back on Pittsburgh with a bit of a puzzled frown. In short, I expected more from a city I'd looked at as so attractive on my last visit.

"One of the most stirring views I had on the whole trip was coming into Pittsburgh. I stood on top of a mountain in the Rockies, looked across miles of corn in the nation's midsection. But coming through the Fort Pitt Tunnel, the view of the Steel City was spectacular. Out the side of a mountain, in front of you is the city skyline. Below and to the left, the confluence of three rivers, with Heinz Field and PNC Park in full glow. PNC was rapidly filling, and Heinz was having equipment tested in preparation for the upcoming football season. It made me forget all the things I'd said and heard about how filthy a city it is.
-- Quoting myself, again.

   Admittedly, I saw very little of what may be the city's more exciting parts -- the Strip District and Oakland top the list -- but the downtown area is at best depressing. There's just nothing going on, and when you put snow on the cliffs and mountains that surround the place on all sides, it's just a very odd place.

   I guess I just expected to eat in the hotel a lot less, that's all.

   6) When Mike and I got there -- our Pats writer Dan didn't meet us until late Saturday night -- we took stock of our lodging place, the Omni William Penn. The official league hotel for the game, it was nice to have the press conferences and media work room in our building, and it was nice to be in a place with the NFL Network on the channel lineup.

   7) That said, I will save the flowing praise everyone else gives the NFL Network for until they get more than five shows. This wouldn't have been a problem had I not seen all of them about seven times over the course of the trip, but it does take the shine off a little bit, I'll say that.

   8) Though drinking my liquid weight in free Diet Pepsi may have offset the inconvenience.

   9) Things started off well enough, as the fact that Mike is a legit jogger led me to go to the vaunted "Fitness Center" while he was out on the streets. I'd like to believe I didn't run 31 minutes and 3.5 miles because there was a TV with headphones positioned right in front of the treadmill, but hey, I am what I am.

   Course, eating a giant breakfast of eggs, bacon, hash browns, fruit and juice right after probably wasn't the best idea, but I'm not a physical specimen for a reason.

   10) Friday's main event were the press conferences, which featured a reporter from Mexico who had everyone chuckling, um, with him -- the Bettis stuff on Vinatieri I featured in the notebook also came via his questions. Given what they are, I shouldn't be so constantly surprised at how boring press conferences are. Especially at the big events, you barely even need to jot anything down since 99 percent of what's said is available in a transcript afterward.

   I always note things I think are specifically not foo-foo garbage, but there's never enough of that.

   11) That evening we went to the rally, which was outside at this Quincy Market-like mall on the banks of the Monongahela despite what I wrote to the contrary. For what it was, I was impressed -- any time a band can play, heat lamped or not, while they're able to see their breath is well worth a round of applause from me.

   And really, there was only one Steelers fan I saw that genuinely frightened me -- the man in the Steve Furness jersey -- which led me to think most of them calm, level people all the way til gametime.

   12) Saturday was an off-day for everything, so we had to make our own news. This was esepcially true after the promised "eight-plus!" inches of snowfall was barely four and had turned to rain/freezing rain/hail/crap by about 1 p.m.

   So we walked the mile-plus over to Heinz, which is impressive but hardly revolutionary compared to Gillette outside of the humongous almost plasma TV at one end.

   And let me just say how nice it was to be traveling with someone for whom a mile-plus walk is not akin to the Trail of Tears. Once we parked it Thursday night, the car never moved until checkout.

   13) After about an hour there where we were denied access to the press box but got inside to go to the stadium store, we hoofed back through the deserted, snowy streets, learning Pittsburgh has a subway.

   Only later did we learn it doesn't actually go anywhere.

   14) Once back at the hotel, we ate lunch. Though it wasn't at that meal, I'd earlier had the middle of the three local brews I sampled over the weekend, Penn Dark. The best thing to be said about Iron City and its aluminum can is it's an inoffensive yellow beer, and Yuengling ... well, I'd already had it, and it remains very good.

   15) Saturday afternoon was one of those periods where hours just kind of disappeared. It would be easy to blame it on a certain football game on the laptop, but whenever I start writing, time has a way of just evaporating far too quickly. It was this that created a dilemma.

   16) It would not normally have been a problem that I had another story to do, however, Saturday was the night of the official AFC Championship Party, held in the club area at Heinz and previously described to me as "the balls" -- yeah, that's a quote. Given I'd spent an hour tabulating stats on the second story, and banging my head against the keyboard trying to write it in any coherent way, I'd been staring at a blinking cursor all total for about four hours and needed to go for a walk to think anyway.

   Thus, I decided to go to the party.

   17) In hindsight, things worked out about as badly as they could have. We should have driven, since the shuttle we took over was not coming and going the duration of the event, but only close to the end. I ended up there about 45 minutes longer than I wanted to be there, which led to me getting back to the hotel late, getting the story filed far later and it ultimately not running at all because deadline had been moved up due to the aforementioned snow.

   18) For what it's worth, the party was an outstanding event. The kind of thing schmoozers would wet themselves over -- Joe Namath, Franco Harris, Mean Joe Greene and pretty much every national writer there for the game was in attendance, plus free drinks and wicked classy hors-d'oeuvres.

   It had a fountain of chocolate with fruit, cookies and pretzels for dipping!

Patriots Ice Sculpture
-- And ice sculptures!

   19) Exactly the kind of glamour I knew I wouldn't be getting the next day at the actual game.

Overflow Media!
-- 600 miles to watch on a television.

   The fact I was watching the game on TV wasn't shocking, the fact I was watching it a third-world country was. Given the Steelers had set up one power strip for about 30 seats -- seats that people would steal as soon as you got up, mind you -- and had the weakest wireless Internet setup I've even seen in a case where someone had a wireless Internet setup, covering the game was about as much fun as a prostate exam.

   In the end, I just kept my laptop off until I needed it, watched the first half both outside until I got sick of chattering and standing in the back of the press box, then wrote throughout the second half. Saw none of the post-game celebration, since by that time I was crunching on finishing the story and our TVs had been changed to the Steeler press conferences -- not the Patriot ones, of course, since Pittsburgh PR apparently didn't calculate ahead of time that anyone would want to watch one of the two teams speak.

   20) So really, maybe that's the silver lining to not going to the Super Bowl.

   Normally, this wouldn't have been a problem since three weeks ago, I'd been told point-blank that I wasn't going should the chance arise. No big deal ... far better than what happened last year, when weeks of thinking I was changed in the span of a half-hour.

   So imagine my surprise when I'm called into a meeting and told, essentially, that I was going to Jacksonville ... until the shit I pulled on Saturday night, going to the party when I still had a story to file. Suffice to say, and sparing you the details, there was a good deal of not prettiness.

   The argument seems to be two pronged. One side says I'm not going as a sort of punishment for failing to file the second story on Saturday night, which while ripping my guts out is warranted, in my mind. Regardless of the circumstances (and regardless of the fact I was at least partially denied getting to enjoy that side of the World Series when I damned well should have gotten to enjoy it), it was a horseshit, bush-league move that I was already furious at myself over and am now much more so. Had it been left at that, I still would have been beside myself, but I at least would have known my bad judgement was to blame.

   However, in what was apparently an attempt to set me down more gently, I was also told I wasn't going because my stories weren't my best stuff ... they weren't as "epic" as the columns I produced during the Red Sox playoff run. Essentially, I read that as my writing was subpar.

   At the risk of burying myself even deeper, that is bullshit.

   I was very proud of the work I submitted throughout this weekend, very proud of all five of those stories. The last column, to me, is one of the better ones I think I've written. Perhaps my writing wasn't as "epic" as during the World Series because instead of covering a team winning its first world championship in almost nine decades, I was covering a team winning its fourth conference championship in nine years. Perhaps it wasn't as "epic" because instead of the most improbable playoff comeback in the history of professional sports, instead of a team coming from 0-3 down (for the first time ever in their sport) to win eight straight games against the league's two best teams, I was covering a championship game that was probably over at halftime, and at best over in the first series of the fourth quarter.

   But hey, it's not my call to make. When it comes down to it, I shouldn't be going to Jacksonville, because when it comes down to it, I can see legitimacy in a belief I can't be trusted. However, I'm my harshest critic, to the point where I vehemently dislike a lot of stories I've written that have gotten a lot of praise from a lot of people. I didn't dislike this weekend's work when I wrote it, and I don't now.

   And in my mind, I feel like I'd produce better work than the person going in my place. That doesn't make it fact, but that's how I feel. If that makes me an asshole, it won't be the first time I've been one, and it won't be the last.

   As a wise coach once said, "It is what it is."

January 19, 2005 - You'll Find Out When You Die
   The Last Bastion of Prose, Pt. 2: Since Sly brought up the gratuitous spelling abuse in this staff editorial -- I'd have found it myself, but the staff edits are an even larger waste of time than, say, JonCouture.com -- I will bring up the inevitable fine retort to the comments made about the student hockey cheering section.

Before the games ever began Section 8 was in Briggs' head. The influence of Section 8 was also clear when, about 5 minutes into the series' first game, Briggs lifted his mask for the first time. Jon Goldberg had barely gotten the "Ug" out to start our "Ugly Goalie" chant before Briggs pulled his mask back down. Briggs did not lift his mask again for the next 115 minutes of game time. Not once in almost two entire games did he lift his mask again, even at the far end of the ice.
-- Suspect.

This is a cheer that also clearly gets under the skin of Boston College's Matti Kaltiainen, who grimaces every time he hears it despite the fact that he probably doesn't understand it. Section 8 even took the time to look up the Finnish word for "Sieve" just to make sure Matti feels at home when he makes the short trip down the Green Line to pay us a visit.
-- Awesome.

   • I would like to thank those of you who took the time to give me Pittsburgh advice, be it for driving or touristing. Unfortunately, since this is a work-related trip, the amount of time I'll have for sightseeing and random affaires de drink will be far less than you think it is -- five stories at least in three days, with six far more likely.

   Yes, I do have to do work, given this is my job. History has shown none of you actually believe me when I say this, but it's become charming in a way like when people spell my name "John."

   On the plus side, however, our visit will enable us to attend the AFC Championship Party, which I've been told is, and I quote, "the balls."

   In a good way.

   So, until Monday. Unless of course the drive kills me or my car, at which point all bets are off and please don't scatter my ashes anywhere involving New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. Irrational proclamations must be stuck to, lest anyone do what comes naturally to the majority of the human race -- take offense.

   Besides, I'm almost a known quantity at Fenway Park now. I'd be a shoo-in to get mixed in with the mound dirt if someone asked nicely.

January 18, 2005 - Someone Else's Western Half
   The Last Bastion of Prose: The return of students to my alma mater means one of life's underappreciated everyday joys can resume -- the reading of the Letters to the Editor in the Daily Free Press.

Fans Should Freshen Up Cheers
To the student body of Boston University:

The doors of Agganis Arena have opened. It's time for the minds and vocabulary of the student section to do the same. Are you up to the challenge?

Think of it this way: not every school has a hockey program with the tradition and success of BU. Not every school has an arena that can even compare to Agganis Arena. Not every school has the opportunity to besiege opposing goalies behind that net. But every school has the mental capacity for that lame-o cheer: "You suck!" It's time to put this unimaginative and ineffective "cheer" to bed, and usher in a new era of humor and intimidation at BU home games.

Really, now. do you think Minnesota's Kellen Briggs was psyched out when the student body declared, "You suck!" two weeks ago? Most likely he thought, "That's the best they have out here? This won't be so bad after all." Does it make sense to tell Boston College they suck? They don't listen to anybody but themselves anyway. No; derogatory cheers which incorporate humor and cleverness are bound to be much more effective. To this alum and season ticket holder, it didn't get much better than the night seven or eight years ago, when Section Eight serenaded Harvard with, "Safety school! Safety school!"

   So if I'm to understand correctly, the greatest cheer he has heard is telling Harvard kids their university is a safety school. However, chanting the goalie's name and informing him of his sucktasticness is a waste of time.

   To me, it never got any better than chanting "Kill the midget!" at BC's 3-foot-7 Brian Gionta -- it actually caused him to throw a hissy fit, which would seem the most effective measuring stick.

   Really, though, if you're going to take the students to task using the same cheers they always have -- some call that "tradition" -- at least offer up a few suggestions. The credit you give the masses may ultimately be more than they deserve.

Loyal Fans Did Not Back Down
In your final edition of the fall semester, you wrote an article about the crushing loss Boston University men's basketball took at the hands of Boston College ("Not Quite Enough: Men fall short in upset attempt of high-powered BC," p. 20) -- an article you opened with false information.

You declared that the two undergrads "sheepishly returned" to their seats. The two undergrads you referred to were myself and my friend, S. Agarwal (SMG '08). The fact of the matter is that the two of us take offense that you think we ran away after a "sucks to BU" cheer that the BC student section began to chant. We were in fact, forced to leave by two BC security guards that said we didn't have tickets for the section from which we were taunting. To think that we would run away because of the crowd's size is ridiculous. My friend Saurabh and I would do anything for our Terriers, including writing on our chest in permanent marker, for not just BU-BC basketball, but also hockey (which we showed during the December 3rd game at Walter Brown). We just ask that you please get your facts straight before you print them in your paper.

   As a former staffer at the paper, allow me to handle this one.

   Sorry, guys, you're not cowards. Our mistake.

   However, given we live in a world with both body paint and washable maskers, the fact that you write on yourselves with Sharpies makes you complete idiots. Now go back to Management Land and have a couple cups of Chantico to calm yourself down.

   • The Good News/Bad News scenario that I teased yesterday regarding my column has come to fruition.

   I will not be appearing in studio on CN8's Sports Pulse this Friday night as had been previously planned.

Correct Spelling!
-- Which sucks ... they'd even spelled my name right!

   Much as I'd love to go back on the show, and as bad as I feel about having to back out of something scheduled weeks ago, a work-related complication has thrown a wrench in things.

   I'm being sent to Pittsburgh to cover the AFC Championship.

   Now's probably not a good time to convince anyone I have a crummy job, is it?

   Were I going to try, the leadoff would clearly be that I'm driving to Pittsburgh, which Mapquest tells me is a 589-mile, nine hours and 34 minute trek. Given I'd planned on doing this drive in mid-April for something else anyway, it'll be good practice.

   I think it can be done in nine hours flat, a thought that honestly will be the only thing that may keep me from going insane.

January 17, 2005 - Fat Writer
   Bettering Lives Through Comas: In a continuing effort to get me linking only to stories others have already posted, and to highlight Starbucks' apparent effort to become crack dealer for the masses, drinking chocolate.

Beginning January 8, 2005, Starbucks Coffee Company (Nasdaq: SBUX) will offer Chantico drinking chocolate in Starbucks stores throughout the United States and Canada. Best described as a 'drinkable dessert,' Chantico drinking chocolate has an intense, full-bodied chocolate flavor and a rich, silky texture, which provides an indulgent chocolate experience that builds on the tradition of European drinking chocolate.

"Chantico drinking chocolate is a decadent, premium chocolate beverage that is dramatically different from hot chocolate," said Michelle Gass, senior vice president of Category Management for Starbucks. "Imagine drinking a melted truffle and you're close to the Chantico drinking chocolate experience. Our expertise is in handcrafting premium beverages from the finest ingredients. With Chantico drinking chocolate, we're introducing our customers to the pleasures of drinking chocolate -- transforming the way consumers think about chocolate, just as we transformed the way consumers experience coffee."

"Chantico drinking chocolate builds on a rich tradition and history, much in the same way that our espresso-based beverages were inspired by the Italian coffeehouse culture," added Gass. "We hope that our customers are equally enthused by the romance and heritage of the drinking chocolate experience."

   Yeah, and I hope you give your baristas the power to cut people off. At six-ounce shots, people will be going to work with Cadbury Flake caked around their mouths and a natural blown necktie down the front of their shirt ... if they can drive there with all the shaking and withdrawal symptoms.

Rematch Will Be A Battle ... Seriously
-- Three columns in three days, which may in fact be leading to a "Good News/Bad News" in the coming days. For now, simply bask in my ability to create more wordplay per square inch than ever before.

   • It's not every day a person impulse buys a 10-pound bag of carrots.

   The shame I couldn't impulse buy some beets, because as soon as I looked at them, I became scared for my not-getting-covered-in-maroon-dye well being.

January 16, 2005 - Clinical Suppression
   Not Going Anywhere For A While?: Well then, take a look at this site, where you can watch the air traffic fly around Boston for no good reason.

   Or if you're really tethered somewhere, go here and pick an LAX or JFK ... the little planes will look like cartoon stars circling your head. I suppose you could also recreate what it was like to be on 'Wings', but you don't have to watch a lot of this to figure out why they had so much time to be wacky.

   [ Stolen all from Charlie, except of course for the bad jokes. ]

   Vermont 69, Boston University 58: Creating a nice little 0-for-everything weekend, it's hard to beat a team that shoots 13-for-25 from 3-point range. The saving grace of this was once Vermont pulled an 11-0 run to end the first half, I could fast-forward through the rest of the game and not feel like I missed anything.

   The upside to this was, despite the loss, I still don't live in Burlington, Vt. Though in a game of '90s Trivial Pursuit over the weekend, I was shocked to know Massachusetts, not Hippie McSmokeland, named "The Cosmic Muffin" the official state fortune teller.

   I may be making at least part of that up, but certainly not the part you think I am.

   Crime of Convenience: If you watch any commercials and live in a cold-weather area, you've probably seen ads for Zicam, which advertises the ability to lessen the severity of colds if taken after the first symptoms appear.

   I'm not questioning whether it does, merely how people take it in. The ads sell the nasal spray, but also let you know they're available "in convenient swab form" as well.

   I'm sorry ... are there people out there who thinks it's easier to jam a swab in an orefice than it is to spray something up your nose, into your mouth or to take a chewable tablet? Were I so inclined to investigate this, I'd like to meet them.

   I probably shouldn't, though ... I might give them my cold.

   • Though I didn't get it from having to sit in the snow.

Gillette at Kickoff
-- Not Shown: The five bottles of water, two hot dogs, slice of pizza
and the meal of Caesar salad, tortellini salad, rice, and chicken and mushrooms.

   And I'm one of the more fit ones.

Peyton Who?
-- Even though the column has little to do with Manning, it gets the "Front Page of the Paper" headline treatment. It's still there, however, and that counts for something.

   Before the game, I walked around the parking lots at Gillette for about 90 minutes ... I just wanted to take it all in. The football tailgate is one of those things that doesn't get enough credit -- to see tens of thousands of people with TVs in their trunks, grills out, open fires, just BSing and having fun for a couple hours before a football game is to figure why the pro game is now the most popular sport in America.

Tailgate  Tailgate 2
-- And there's more than 10 of these lots.

James Mungro's Dad?
-- Some even including jerseys of backup RB James Mungro!

   I didn't dress to watch the game outside -- it didn't feel real cold until I noticed my hands were glowing red -- but it worked out. Sitting in the same press box as Colts President Bill Polian as his team is schooled is an event any sports fan should experience at least once. While it is heartwarming to know he cares about his team's success and failures, watching and hearing him pound the counter, kick his chair and curse verbally from two rows behind me is one of those simple joys like the buffalo chicken pizza after the game that almost burned my throat out.

   It had red onion on it ... now that's a pizza.

-- And that's a view of Boston in front of a view of Foxboro.

   I could say more about the game, but if you read this, you watched it ... there have been sandwiches made more complicated than this was. Not a bad way to win an absurd 20th straight game at home.

   Also, New England has never lost a home game when it snows -- they're now 8-0. Thank you, Mark Henderson ... seems only fair you're immortalized in plow form.

January 15, 2005 - Peyton's Eve
   Boston College 2, Boston University 0: The less said, the better. In fact, I'll just leave it to Noted Coaching Legend Jack Parker.

"I thought that 21 people played great tonight:
20 people on the BC team and my goaltender."

   I'm sure a 1-for-17 weekend on the power play isn't a record, but it has to be pretty damn close.

   Football Talk: I just feel like I should, given I have to play reporter again on Sunday.

Pressure Is On Peyton
-- If the Manning family has a Christmas card list, I'll now not ever be on it.

   • Sometimes, I wonder if I'm really the only person who sees this stuff.

   Let's pretend you, whether you give a lick about professional football or not, are coaching the New York Jets. Despite the fact your team is horrible and entirely unfit to play in a conference championship game, you find yourself with the ball on the opposition's 37-yard-line with 1:46 to play and all your timeouts. Bear in mind your kicker, who is lukewarm at best, just missed a 47-yard field goal by a half-yard, and that you'd be done via that had the opposing quarterback not thrown an awful interception on the play after the kick.

   You have three timeouts. 1:46. Opponent's 37. What do you do?

1-10-PIT37 - (1:46) C. Martin right guard to PIT 34 for 3 yards (C. Hope).
2-7-PIT34 - (1:37) C. Pennington pass to C. Martin to PIT 25 for 9 yards (C.Hoke; J. Farrior).
1-10-PIT25 - (:56) C. Martin left guard to PIT 25 for no gain (K. Von Oelhoffen, J. Porter).
2-10-PIT25 - (:16) L. Jordan left guard to PIT 23 for 2 yards (J. arrior; C. Hope).
3-8-PIT23 - (:06) C. Pennington kneels to PIT 24 for -1 yards.

   If it's the above scenario, I'm firing you before the game ends.

   Considering the timeouts don't carry over, wouldn't it make to utilize them? Maybe, I don't know, give the ball to future Hall of Famer Curtis Martin and see if he can run you closer than the 25? You've got an entire minute to play with and the ability to stop the clock whenever you want.

4-9-PIT24 - (:04) D. Brien 43 yard field goal is No Good, Wide Left.

   This is what you deserve, Jets fans. Despite the fact your team hired a coach whose only job is to help Herman Edwards manage the clock, this is what you come up with.

   How bad was it? I had to sign online so I could talk to my boss, just to make sure I wasn't missing something entirely obvious in this scheme. Sadly, I wasn't.

   Well, not that sadly. Considering I'm a Giants fan first and a Patriots fan closely thereafter, I can't stand the Jets with a passion of a thousand white-hot suns ... in the sense that people who take sports too seriously scare me. And of course, the majority of the media will blame Brien despite the fact he easily could have been kicking from 10 yards closer had his coach not had his head up his ass.

"This is about as frustrated as I've ever been in my career," said Curtis Martin, who rushed for 77 yards on 19 carries and caught four passes for 29 more yards. "Right now I feel like there's no end to my anger. I just had different plans for right now. I canceled everything that I was supposed to do. I canceled every business meeting, everything until after the Pro Bowl, because I expected us to go all the way.

"There's blood out there on that field that's ours," Martin went on. "We put ourselves in position to win. Football logic, football sense says we should have beaten the Steelers today.

   You ought to be angry.

   Just be sure it goes to the right place.

January 14, 2005 - Split, Please
   The Royal Family: There's just something alluring about those British. Be it their accents, their television, their mainstream tabloid media and their ability to work concentration camps into their parenting.

In the US, the New York Post ran the picture of Harry with the headline Royal Nazi while the Washington Post declared: "Consensus on Prince Harry's Gaffe: He Knows Nothing."

   Always good to see a big paper like the Washington Post can headline with the best of them.

   The New Single: I have no idea what a certain Hollywood starlet's new single is actually called, but after stumbling across it while scanning radio channels in Providence, I will give it high praise: It's a song I would simply leave on until the end were I to hear it again.

   This probably means she didn't actually write it, but I can't say I'll be losing any sleep over it ... I'd hope that showed by the fact I couldn't even be bothered to Google the title.

   Boston College 6, Boston University 3: I don't really see the need to get all bent out of shape about losing to the No. 2 team in the country in their building, though a loss to them at home on Saturday night with a two-game trip to Maine coming up ... there could be heartbeats raised slightly.

   Regardless, 1-for-10 on the power play and 0-for-2 on two-man advantages is never good.

   For the little of it I saw, let's just say for all the games I've seen where John Curry was distinctly on, it's good to see when he doesn't have it, he really doesn't have it.

   • As much as I'd like to discuss Midori and why it should be banned from any and all premises -- hey, it was there, and it needed to be gotten rid of -- the following paragraph should make any Terrier fan smile.

When the teams rematch on Saturday night at Boston University's new palace, Agganis Arena, the Terriers will face Matti Kaltiainen, not Schneider, in net. Kaltiainen has been nursing a pulled groin he suffered last weekend.

   First Agganis BU-BC game. Against Matti "Noted Five Hole" Kaltiainen. Nursing a pulled groin.

   Maybe paying a ticket broker a couple hundred bucks would have been worth it after all.

January 13, 2005 - Crazy People
   Committed: I don't really know why this show intrigues me at all, but it does ... perhaps because it's both "the freshest sitcom in years" and crying out to be renamed "Dharma and Greg: The College Years.

   Though "Dharma and Greg" had neither a Clown living in the closet nor made me think of "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" for the first time in years.

   I hated that show, though I admit it was because I'm a priss.

   In Other TV News: Bravo, in introducing their new show Queer Eye for the Straight Girl, has come up with the slogan, "Twice as Queer ... Two Nights Straight" I guarantee someone, somewhere, isn't happy about this.

   Welcome To The Interweb: Nick, who comments here from time to time and is one of four confirmed hockey fans in the S-T universe, has a new Web site. Like most things Nick does, it's both frighteningly well done and competent.

   Also like most things Nick does, it displays a level of knowledge that scares me.

   • It has been mentioned by some as one of TV's greatest half-hours. Anyone who has seen it likely left the picture box simply shaking their head in bewilderment. Thirty minutes, eight outfits, 11,000 square feet.

   The Mariah Carey episode of 'MTV Cribs'.

   So many wonders to take in ... here are but a few.

"The walls are a process called glazing, and I like them because they look like candy. It's tasty."

"I chose to do the colors neutral [in the living room] so they're not jarring, because I have enough jarring things that happen to me on a daily basis. ... It's the relaxing, more serious part of the house that most of my friends and I, we don't even bother coming into this area."

"I have Marilyn Monroe's piano and I'm very protective over it. I don't even want to show it ... I would show it to you guys, (whisper)but I can't(/whisper)."

"I have to change before we go into the bathroom because it's a very serene place for me. So, let me go, and I will meet you when I'm done.
-- Of course said while wearing a shirt split down past her navel.

"I'm quite a homemaker."
-- At which point she opens the dryer and pulls out her dog, Ginger.

"There was a time in my life when I only had one pair of shoes. I saved those shoes, but I can't find them anymore."

"This is the Moroccan room. It's very festive, very like a mirage took place here."
-- I was unaware a mirage had residual effects.

   Really, it's the total package, offering both words and images that depress and bring great humor at the same time. The "stupid remark" bell in the kitchen. The full-staffed salon that's apparently there all the time. The fact she walks on her tiptoes when just traipsing around normally. The fact she tried on eight different outfits for a 30-minute program.

   I only wish I could post the show here, because while many things on MTV are depressing for their inanity, this is ... it's its own class.

   Yeah, reading this, you can't tell what I did a lot of today.

January 12, 2005 - Turning Japanese
   No New Lowe Here: It warms my heart to know that, for some time, people who see me wearing my Dodgers hat could construe it as the outward side effect of extreme Derek Lowe fandom.

Derek as a Dodger!

New Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Derek Lowe poses with his new uniform in front of Dodgers Stadium after a news conference in Los Angeles on Wednesday where it was announced that Lowe finalized a $36 million, four-year contract with the Dodgers. Lowe was 14-12 with a 5.42 ERA in 33 starts with the Red Sox last season, then went 3-0 with a 1.86 ERA during three postseason starts and one relief appearance. (AP Photo/Stefano Paltera)

   Is four years and $36 million too much for a guy with Derek Lowe's numbers? Absolutely not -- as anyone touting the man will tell you seven times, not every pitcher wins 52 games across three seasons. However, ask any Red Sox fan with some solid background if four years and $36 million is too much for Derek Lowe.

   Hey, congrats to a nice guy and solid starter who just might prove Sox fans wrong in the NL. And here's hoping he does ... I like wearing the Dodgers hat.

   With Shawn Green in Arizona and Adrian Beltre in Seattle, however, let's just say I'm glad they're my No. 2 team. Kirk Gibson ain't exactly walking through that door, and if he does, he's probably going to look a lot more like Hee-Seop Choi

   • Earlier today, this guy posted a link to this story, which is just another piece of evidence that the Japanese people have problems archaeologists and psychologists are going to have a field day with some time in the future.

   But I already knew the Japanese were selling "lap pillows" for men and "arm pillows" for women.

   Fortunately, I found out they're also going on fake Cinderella vacations.

TOKYO - So what if they were not real glass slippers; they sparkled nonetheless with the bits of crystal that Reiko Handa, 59, applied to a pair of new pumps. Her hair, voluminous from extensions, soared in a regal bun as she dashed through the brisk Vienna night last winter. There, she recalled, handsome Austrian gentlemen escorted her up castle stairs to a lavish ball where Handa and a group of other Japanese women realized their childhood fantasies of being Cinderellas for a day.

In Japan, dreams of youth are being bought -- often for between $4,000 and $10,000, and sometimes more -- by thousands of women who use vacation time to step into the pages of a storybook. So-called "princess vacations" have become the hottest tickets in town for a host of would-be Cinderellas, from women in their twenties to senior citizens.

. . .

In the trendy Shibuya and Harajuku neighborhoods of Tokyo, for instance, teenagers and women in their thirties and forties have embraced what they call the "Lolita fashion." Dressing up as little dolls in frilly dresses and lacy baby caps, hundreds of such girls and women parade along the sidewalks of Tokyo clutching teddy bears and wearing enormous ribbons in their hair.

Other women have turned to "celebu" -- or celebrity -- lifestyles. What started as mimicking the fashion tastes of American personalities has turned into a cottage industry, including popular classes. In one class, called "How To Behave Like a Celebrity," students spend hours studying how to walk, talk and gesture like a movie star.

   Yes, Japan, we're lazy.

   But you're officially crazy.

   That seemed even weaker in my head ... trust me. This special on the Pacific Coast Highway, however, isn't going to watch itself.

January 11, 2005 - Schizo
   He's Just Saying:

"He should focus on making the field goals, not worried about what we're doing over here, OK? I mean, he has to be a jerk, Vanderjerk, if he sits there and criticizes Peyton Manning and Tony Dungy, one of the best quarterbacks in the game and one of the best coaches in the game. And then for him to put his foot in his mouth again just shows what type of character he has."
-- Rodney Harrison, Patriots safety,
on the Sunday night comments of Mike Vanderjagt

   And in a completely unrelated note, here are the "Rights and Permissions" for Indianapolis Star content.

Quoting and/or linking to a Star article on a Web site
You may publish an excerpt from a Star article, of no more than three paragraphs of your choosing, along with full credit to The Indianapolis Star and a link to the full-text article on IndyStar.com. This practice applies to text only; similar "excerpts" of visual images (i.e. photographs) may not be used.

A link to a Star article without the excerpt is also permitted. Please see our what's available page for more information about the content of IndyStar.com.

For a fee, the Star's library will post a copy of the story for an extended period which you can then link to from your site. The fee is $30 per month -- $1 per day -- for a plain-text version of the story. For $60 per month you receive a plain-text version plus a rich-format version with images from the story. For more information, please call the Star's library at (317) 444-6496 or send them a message. Inquiries will be answered during library hours, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

   Apparently, they didn't get the memo that the Internet is a lawless wasteland, a wasteland where no one is going to pay them $30 when they can just steal the story and hide behind their ISP.

   A wasteland much like, as I understand it, the area around the White River in Indy ... dead bodies just seem to "show up there." Which is why I think it's so fun that, closer to downtown, it's a state park.

   Posted Without Further Comment: It's Mr. Blackwell's Worst Dressed List.

   • Yeah, I think that's good enough. Old men who use limerick-like rhymes to critique the fashion sense of others?

   This should become an annual holiday.

January 10, 2005 - Blocked With His Face
   When It Comes To Disasters ...
California Boulder
-- ... who can run with everyday California?

A boulder some 25 feet high blocks both lanes of the Topanga Caynon Road on Monday as electrical contractors fix broken power and communication lines in Malibu, Calif. No injures where reported, but the road remains closed. The storm system was blamed for at least nine deaths during the weekend in Southern California, including a man killed when his vehicle plunged into the surf off Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, and a homeless man killed when the hillside where his tent was pitched gave way. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

   It's times like this that prove this state needed Arnold Schwarzenegger as their Governor. It can't just rain ... it has to flood. They can't just have a fire ... entire mountains have to burn. The weather can't just be nice the rest of the time ... it has to be immaculate and gorgeous and with several dozen In-N-Out locations.

   No wonder Jefferson is trying to secede. They're just trying to avoid the everyday Wrath and Rapture.

   The Boston Globe Knows How To Relate: There is a woman in Arlington who wants to ban this spanking tool, because like most Massachusetts residents, she knows what's best for your kids.

''Spoons are for cooking, belts are for holding up pants, hands are for loving, and rods are for chastening," read the advertisement she saw nearly two years ago for the 22-inch nylon rod. It also cited a biblical passage, which instructs parents not to spare the ''rod of correction."

The ad shocked Lawrence, a Lutheran who home-schools her children and opposes corporal punishment. She began a national campaign to stop what she sees as the misuse of the Bible as a justification for striking children. She also asked the federal government to deem The Rod hazardous to children, and ban the sale of all products designed for spanking. Lawrence says striking children violates the Golden Rule from the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament: ''In everything do to others as you would have them do to you."

   Not surprisingly, The Bruce and his comments already tackled the "Some people like to spank each other" questions among others -- the man doesn't have a "TMI" designation for nothing -- so I will instead do what I do best.

   Nothing useful, other than to feign shock. You mean, there are contradictions in the Bible? I have to not spare the rod, but also do unto others? Please don't make me think for myself!

   Especially since a small part wants to giggle uncontrollably at the idea of a "Stop The Rod" Web site.

Talk Is Cheap, But Game Won't Be
-- Now is probably a good time to apologize to Patriots fans everywhere. Given I'm covering Sunday's Pats-Colts game, Indy is pretty much a Lock of The Week to win. Sorry about the dynasty and all.

   • I've never been real critical of David Letterman as an interviewer, but it would be nice if instead of telling the same joke 14 times, he not mess in his suit because he gets to talk to Randy Johnson on Tuesday night.

Randy Randy
-- Hee Heeeeeeeeeee!

In this image released by WCBS-TV, Randy Johnson puts his hand up to block a camera from WCBS-TV after he left his Manhattan hotel on his way to a physical for the New York Yankees on Monday in New York. (AP Photo/WCBS-TV, HO)

   Look, I'm not going to question the intelligence of a 6-10 man. If you can't deal with one cameraman on the day before you even become a Yankee, though ... might have wanted to do a little more research before looping that last "y."

New York Post          New York Daily News

   They don't get any less witty when the season starts.

January 9, 2005 - Canadia
   The Carnival Never Ends: Part of me just doesn't see the connection ... sailing on cruise ships that tend to be overstuffed with children, and lots of fine wine.

Fantastic food is a big part of the fun aboard a Carnival cruise. And, no memorable meal is complete without a fine wine to go with it. Now you can relive your fondest cruise memories every single month with Carnival's new Presidential Wine Club.

For only $39.99 a month plus shipping, you'll have two bottles of premium wine -- selected by Bob Dickinson, President of Carnival Cruise Lines, and one of the best-known wine connoisseurs in the country -- shipped right to your door every month!

   I just have this image of snooty wine people all forming a line, sliding down a goofy water slide and trying to win plastic ship trophies right before the night's big game of bingo. It's not much of an image, but it will have to do.

   • There are a lot of stories floating around that get a read just because they sound interesting. Kinds like this one, which was described as, "Buying a Frank Lloyd Wright house can be a dream come true. Trying to actually sell one can be a nightmare."

   Often times, the stories are good. Not all that often do they contain gems like these.

After pouring tens of thousands of dollars into buying, repairing and renovating her Wright-designed house, Arlene Moran hasn't received any serious offers despite its pedigree. She's asking $375,000 for the three-bedroom home in Galesburg, about halfway between Kalamazoo and Battle Creek.

"It's going on two years and I'm desperate," said Moran, 70. "I refuse to lower the price. I put in $180,000 (worth) of restoration. I would like to have my money back."

But, Moran said, "I can't have just anybody" buy it. She considers her home, which she never has lived in, a work of art.

   To which I say, "Ah. Art people."

   And for which I thank them for getting even better.

Don Schaberg is ready to sell the Okemos house he and his late wife commissioned Wright to design, and where they lived happily for four decades. Schaberg realizes it won't be easy finding someone willing to spend $1.6 million for a 3,800-square-foot ranch without a garage, but also said he's under no real pressure to sell and doubts he will come down much on his price.

"I'm just certain the value is going to increase," he said, calling the house and its six acres southeast of Lansing "the closest thing to heaven on earth."

"Everybody thinks it's one of the warmest and most peaceful places they've ever been in," Schaberg said of the window-filled ranch that overlooks a tree-lined meadow.

Schaberg first contacted Wright in 1949 and construction was completed in 1958, a year before Wright's death. It was done during Wright's "usonian" period, when the architect, in his final years, focused on more modest homes for families on a budget.

   I find myself saying it every day -- the words "$1.6 million" and "on a budget" should never be put together unless it's in a sentence saying "If I were making a budget, $1.6 million would be an awesome number to build with."

   So there were four football games this weekend, games for which I made now only a pick with the spread, but an over-under selection.

   I went 1 for 8.

   I say this not for any particular reason, but more because I'm angry I did go 0 for 8. Perfection, after all, is something we all should strive for.

January 8, 2005 - The Pain Of Salted Peanuts
   A Mailing List Montage: I know I was shocked to discover being on the Carnival Cruise Lines radar had an advatage -- access of the lovely and boring 'Currents' magazine.

   A magazine which, along with articles I don't care about, includes reader letters like this one:

In Good Hands
Thank you, Carnival, for looking out for your passengers.

My family and I were on Carnival Triumph (our fourth cruise with Carnival) when Hurricane Jeanne hit Florida. Because your company cares, we arrived home safely.

I am looking forward to our 2005 cruise on Carnival Glory. Thanks for caring.
-- K. Smith, Greensboro, N.C.

   Are there other companies out there who, in such a situation, would simply say, "Screw it. There's enough people on this boat that no one will notice if a few fall off" as they power back toward the coast and its closed ports?

   Regardless, my innards also apparently owe Carnival a thank you ... I appreciate their decision not to make me vomit all over their state rooms.

   And I apparently owe the TiVo people one too. After all, they did allow me into their cool club.

TiVo Subscriber Newsletter
-- The TiVo Subscriber Newsletter

   "Hit me"? "Natch"? What is this, 2005?

   • At the office tonight, it was mutually decided we'd have a "snack night." Whether it be in honor of NFL playoff football or the effectiveness of Wild Cherry Pepsi sponsoring the ABC promos for NFL playoff football, Ed and I were given $25 and sent off to buy a list of the worst stuff we could find.

   The worst stuff being the best stuff, of course.

   Mixed nuts.

   Devil's Food Twinkies.

   Doritos: Both Cheese, Four and Mole, Guaca

   Chex Party Mix, Bold Variety

   After a night's worth of this, it was time to celebrate a birthday. So off I went to drink ... Bud Light. The King of "When You Don't Really Want To Drink" Beers.

   Now, I sit here in the aftermath, and never has death's sweet embrace seemed more tantalizing.

   I'm thinking of it as if my little cousins were here, repeatedly slamming a Louisville Slugger into my abdomen. With the butt end, not a baseball swing or anything.

   The saddest part is it's the salt overload, not the beer. The Bud Light was by design ... I figured maybe all the water would just give things a good rinse.

   Clearly however, on a night where I thought eating my weight in snacks was a good idea, my brain should have been taken away very early in the contest.

January 7, 2005 - Forty-Five? Worth A Fight
   Scandal Of The Day: Go figure it's at least partly because of one Dannicus Shaughnecus.

But no one ever asks about the ball. What happened to the baseball that ended 86 years of Red Sox frustration?

"I've got it," Mientkiewicz said from his Miami home Wednesday. "It's in a safety-deposit box with my Olympic gold medal [Sydney, 2000]. We had it authenticated by Major League Baseball the day after the World Series so no one can claim they have it. That's my retirement fund. A guy offered me 500 bucks for it, but I think it's worth more than that."

Not so fast, Doug.

"We're going to make a request of him to return it to us," Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino said late last night. "We want it to be part of Red Sox archives or museums so it can be shared with the fans. We would hope he would understand the historical nature of it."

   As if ordained by stereotyping press haters, nearly all the quotes from Mientkiewicz in the story were said in jest, and DS played them off like they were serious -- apparently despite his joking around while conducting the interview.

   Glorious. I'm just glad Lucchino doesn't know I have a foul ball, champagne cork and Bud Light bottle from the various celebrations ... if only I'd gotten them authenticated, I wouldn't look like I had a display of garbage on my bedroom table.

   Preview Season: Though I'm not sure if this is more because of the film than the theatre chain it was watched in, there were more previews before Thursday's movie than any other time I've seen.

   Though they did include a preview for the 'Hitchiker's' movie, for which Jen was previously quoted as saying, "I definitely just peed a little ..."

   To me, I'd be a little frightened by a preview that includes absolutely zero footage from the actual movie. Though this site offers a look at the pretty promising cast.

   This would all mean more if I had anything to say. However, I think my friend DS from above has proven that's a completely unnecessary worry.

   The film will suck because people are stupid! Who needs to worry about a little thing like the truth!

   • Tonight, I attended a party attached to the 1918 film I wrote about a few weeks ago. Along with being attended by Boston Herald people and the actual person who played Tessie, the two women from Still We Believe: The Boston Red Sox Movie were there -- they've got a small role in the film.

   I did not talk to them, but it is worth noting:

Still We Believe: The Boston Red Sox Movie:
If you want to spend $10 that badly, just give it to me.
-- No further discussion needed. (5/12)

   Though I didn't see the whole film and it is only 20 minutes long, "1918" is much better. Not that it could have been much worse.

   And no, I'm not just saying that because people were being told my story is the one that "started everything."

   They had door prizes at the party. Among them? Two 12-packs of Newcastle Brown Ale. Sadly, they were not won by any teenagers -- that's the kind of fun everyone can enjoy.

January 6, 2005 - They Way Of The Future
   Needling From Within: The thing that's the best about this Yankee-slamming article? It's written by a Yankees fan.

   Before they decided to pay $57 million across three years to a 41-year-old pitcher with a bad back whose never pitched in the April cold before.

   Will it blow up in their face? Probably not, since it never does. Just thought it bore mentioning.

   That, and I'm having one of those nights where I wonder how the hell sports is what I ended up in for a career.

   'The Aviator': Let's put it this way ... if you don't know some of the backstory of Howard Hughes's life, either read up or save the $10. For spending 2:49 watching a movie, I sure didn't leave the theater feeling like I had actually learned anything.

   Don't get me wrong, the movie at least qualifies as "good" -- there are performances and scenes that create a sort of emotional attachment. However, to call it anything less than "disappointing" would be selling it short.

   Apparently, Willard Whyte from Diamonds Are Forever was patterned after Hughes.

   I'd much rather watch another movie about him.

   • Isn't it amazing that the people around us who are often so critical of the decisions of others, sometimes make awful decisions themselves?

   This isn't really apropos of anything, nor is the revelation I went up to Boston to visit Lonnie and ended up buying a wallet, a wall clock, a pair of tongs and a stovetop griddle.

   There is something ironic about paying money to buy a wallet, isn't there?

January 5, 2005 - I Love The Auto Lobby
   Things My TiVo Taped For Me: This one has a happy ending ... True Hollywood Story: Saved By The Bell.

   Clearly, the electronic brain and I are on an equal plane now, as Seinfeld, Futurama and Aqua Teen Hunger Force are sharing hard-drive space with drivel no one should care about like the aforementioned THS. Did you know Jennie Garth was up for the role of Kelly made famous by Tiffany-Amber Thiessen?

   And Elizabeth Berkley was too? Jessie, as Kelly? (Block out Showgirls. Remains amazing.)

   Did you know the pilot in 1987 featured now dead Jonathan Brandis, now Urkel Jaleel White and now whatever Brian Austen Green?

   Or that the original "Good Morning, Miss Bliss" was canned by The Disney Channel after a season, but the series was saved and championned by none less than Brandon Tartikoff -- the man also behind The Cosby Show and Must See TV Thursday?

   Now, you also know too much. Look at it this way though ... I'd forgotten the pain that was Saved By The Bell: The New Class, and now you can be reminded of it too.

   The 'A' Stands For 'Agonizing': Sly yesterday suggested I take in some AHL hockey were I not looking to wait for BU-BC tickets to rain from the sky. Though he suggested Providence and Worcester, there are plenty of other northeastern options -- Bridgeport and Hartford, Manchester, Lowell, Albany ... and of course, Springfield.

   And as if last-place Falcons action wasn't motivation enough to cancel my Friday plans, the bad, bad Birds are driving it home for the P-Bruins.


Springfield, Mass. -- The Springfield Falcons are happy to announce that Justin Guarini of American Idol fame will be performing the national anthem prior to the team’s game versus the Providence Bruins at the Springfield Civic Center on Friday, January 7th. Game time is 7:35 p.m.

Justin was a contestant during the first season of American Idol and advanced to the television show’s Grand Finale against Kelly Clarkson. Since American Idol, he has recorded and released a self-titled album, starred in the 2003 movie 'From Justin to Kelly' and has guest starred in numerous TV programs and events.

   Kelly Clarkson sang at the Orange Bowl on Tuesday, having previously crooned "God Bless America" at Game 1 of the World Series. On Friday, Justin Guarini will be at the Springfield Civic Center for a bad minor league hockey game.

   Somehow, mentioning the TV commercial for the new "Idol" season -- listing the show's stars as Kelly, Ruben and Clay -- seems well beyond mere piling on.

   • Auto shows like the World of Wheels coming to "Southie's" Bayside Expo Center this weekend would fascinate me enough just by existing -- I hold nothing against car people, I just marvel at the fascination many have. My father being one of them to an extreme lesser extent -- he's able to identify the year of any car from his youth with just a look, whereas I'd be far more likely to be unable to identify a car if I'd driven my own into its radiator.

   Slightly Random Aside: Taking it for what you will, give me $1 million and say I have to buy a vehicle with some of it, I get a souped-up and tricked-out Mini Cooper S. I then tell you to stop laughing at me and move on until said Mini is stolen/defaced/sold for food after I blew the rest of the million on a sick condo overlooking Boston Harbor.

   Anyway, cars are a language that speak to many different people from many different walks. Take, for example, the special guests whom attendees can meet over the three days of World of Wheels.

WWE U.S. Champion John Cena
Survivor All-Stars Champion Rupert Boneham
Top Fuel Racer Tony Schumacher
Overhaulin Hottie Courtney Hansen
New England Patriots LB Rosevelt Colvin

   Wrestling, automobiles, women, reality television ... clearly there's no connection between it all.

   I'd go for Cena and to laugh at people, Mom would go for Rupert, Dad would go something and Matt would have to work.

   Hey, it really is fun for the whole family!

January 4, 2005 - Sadly, No More Hockey For Now
   USC 55, Oklahoma 19: And so, the team I support in a city, despite the fascination, I would probably hate living in, wins its 1.5 straight national championship. Pleasing, but hardly life altering.

   This in and of itself sort of blows up a lot of my column from earlier in the week, since Pete Carroll clearly has no interest in professional football, yet was fully pumped and jacked about winning a title. P&J well past the point of goofiness, with screaming on the podium and just general joy -- winning 42 games over four college football seasons, as will getting to be a championship coach while living the high life in Los Angeles.

   The only thing more disturbing that Oklahoma's complete collapse, and Carroll's general goofiness? Watching USC quarterback Matt Leinart loft oranges into the crowd with oddly wristy, left-handed throws. Not that they weren't effective, but just thinking when you're Orange Bowl MVP for your throwing, you'd have a motion that could really get the fruit into the upper reaches is all.

   As Promised: You could spend $97 million and own it, $22 to get in or just look at these shots from visit No. 1.

Go Terriers!

The Opening of Agganis - 1.3.05
[Login using CoochWorld/CoochWorld]

   Just trust me on the boxed wine and pesto chicken.

   • Employment opportunities being what they are, perhaps joining the Jeopardy! Clue Crew is of great interest to some.

   And yet, all I wanted was proof that they make triple what I do.

   Thus, I pass along the help the show offers to potential applicants for their three-minute application videos:

-- Although dressing up like Alex Trebek may seem like a good idea -- nobody wants to see a mini-me in a double breasted suit. Use your own style. Don't imitate, innovate!

-- Take some advice! Have a friend or family member view your tape before sending it in -- if they tell you it's too obnoxious -- it probably is.

-- Show us your sense of adventure -- but stay safe and remember, you're auditioning for JEOPARDY!, not COPS, so don't do anything illegal or anything dangerous on tape, we'd have to turn you in.

-- This is not the Real World, we don't need to know where ALL of your piercings are.

-- Do not exceed 3 minutes (Think more 'Short Story' than 'Novel').

-- Costumes, masks and candle-lit rooms may create "mood" -- but we need to see your beautiful face! Make sure your mug is uncovered and well lit.

-- It's JEOPARDY!, so keep it clean.

-- Be yourself.

-- We know Alex is a great host as well as an intelligent, handsome and well-dressed man - so you don't have to tell us. Flattering Alex won't get you anywhere, so don't even try!

-- We're assuming you like to travel or you wouldn't be applying, so no need to waste any of your precious 3 minutes telling us all the places you've been or where you want to go!

   So, using the logic that there are cooking instructions on the back of the Pop Tarts box because people have called to ask for help, this means previous Clue Crew applications have included a video of a mini Alex Trebek in a candle-lit room, also including extreme flattering and groin piercing displays.

   Or something.

January 3, 2005 - Where Fame Often E-Mails
   Google, America's Storyteller: Anyone remember this story from the playoffs?

Those of who watched the first season of ESPN's Dream Job will remember Casey Stern, who made the show's final 12 but ultimately didn't win the contest. Well, he got a job with MLB.com, hosting, among other things, State of the RedSox.com Nation.

As such, we have crossed paths a handful of times. Never, however, moreso than today.

Epstein made an appearance on the field today, and as you'd expect, he was swarmed by press people -- I didn't stand with him the whole time, but he had to be out and surrounded for a half-hour at least. I was in the first wave to get over to him, and had my tape recorder in there, listening intently like a good little baseball writer.

Stern and his cameraman, latecomers, found space to wedge their way in. Fair enough ... it's the nature of the business. If you ever want to feel like you're on a Tokyo subway, I highly recommend the Yankee Stadium visitor's clubhouse after Boston clinches the pennant.

Stern had plenty of space to get in, but his cameraman was on the other side of the swarm, so they somehow had to get the MLB.com microphone across the press horde to the anchor. They, purposefully or not, felt the best way to do this was to run the cord across the top of my head.

By this point, the crowd has reached a size where I can not pull my left arm, and it's tape recorder, out of the crowd unless I want to wait another 20 minutes to talk to Theo. So I have to start shaking my head like a horse trying to get rid of a fly to get this cord out of my hair. After about six attempts I finally succeed.

At which point Stern, who suddenly figured out why his mic cord hadn't had any slack before, expresses gratitude.

"Hey, thanks a lot, boss."

Maybe it just struck me as funny because Casey Stern is always dressed to the nines, but can't be more than 5'6". Maybe because he always walks around with this sort-of half-smug grin on his face.

Or maybe because, if I was ever provoked, I could dropkick him 12 rows into the grandstand.

Aside: I'm sure Casey Stern is a very nice guy, and contrary to what this story may portray, I was hardly angered his mic cord mussed my hay-like mane. It was just one of those things ... and then he called me "boss" and I all but broke out laughing.

-- October 22, 2004

   Yeah, well, guess who found it.

Subject: A Microphone Malfunction
Date: Mon, 03 Jan 2005
From: Casey Stern
To: cooch at joncouture dot com

   Jon -

   I get an email from my GF this am that says "Read This Now!"...I thought it was a note from my ex! No, she had googled me and looked through some critics articles and found your Oct 22nd posting about the mic...I read it and laughed my ass off. I'm so sorry about that! I don't remember it --- that month was insane for all of us. I was probably so focused on getting the bytes that I didn't pay attention.

   Anyways, I wanted to email you after reading it... I'm sure we'll run into each other during the season.


MLB.com: Where Baseball is Always On

   This just goes to prove a couple things, not the least of which is that I probably should treat this site less like my daily burden since people are now actually finding it.

   Though this does probably mean a death knell for my favorite made-up recurring feature, "Taking Unfair Potshots At People For No Reason."

Maybe No. 1 Isn't As Important As We Think
-- I'm very honest with you all here, and as such, I feel it's just fair to say ... I've written better than this. Not that I don't stand by my work, but let's just say there was some rushing done.

   Things My TiVo Taped For Me: We're to the point where the wackiest thing I'm getting is Animal Planet's "We Really Love Jeff Corwin Like Discovery Channel Loves American Chopper," so it's stories like this that will have to suffice.

   Tonight I got the Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode, "Dusty Gozongas," where the title character is a strip club dancer who for whatever reason moonlights as a city worker.

   Yeah, the show makes no sense. It's part of the fun.

   So here we have an animated stripper, with city shirt barely covering her chest, talking in an all-too-familiar voice. Finally, I placed it.

   Scott Thompson, the flaming homosexual Kid in the Hall. As I'd put it, Nice.

   • So now, they are the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

   Not that you'd know it from, um, their official Web site.

-- Effective Jan. 3? Apparently not.

   Perhaps the site's webmaster simply isn't ... what's the word I'm looking for ... stupid.

The Los Angeles region, which is comprised of Orange, Los Angeles, Ventura, San Bernardino, and Riverside Counties, is the second largest media market in the country. This name change will strengthen the Angels' long-term economic health by enhancing the marketability through this metropolitan area and beyond.

   Perhaps I've been talking to the wrong people, but Orange County is part of L.A. in the same way New Jersey is part of the New York metro area -- only kinda, and only because geographically, it technically has to be. This is a Bad Idea with capital letters, but fortunately a captial lettered Bad Idea that most everyone will forget about in a few weeks.

   As for a Good Idea, however ...

The First Game

BU 2 - 1 Minnesota
No. 1 on Commonwealth Avenue

@ Agganis - 1/3/05
No. 13/11 TERRIERS
1 (8)
1 (6)
0 (7)
2 (21)
No. 1 Gophers
0 (5)
1 (12)
0 (6)
1 (23)

Read the recap on Hockey East Online.

Read the recap on U.S. College Hockey Online.

Read "First Night" by Scott Weighart.

   • It takes an awful lot to relegate upsetting the No. 1 team in the nation to little more than an afterthought.

   Opening up an immaculate $97 million arena will do it.

   I can't speak for everyone, but upon walking in for the first time of what will hopefully be many visits, nothing really hit me until we got upstairs. The building has a generally open concourse, and with all the seats on one level, you enter to see the hulking full-color scoreboard and the animated BU logo spinning around at eye level. When we walked in, it was all I could do to not just start doing laps around the building.

   Yes, they will play basketball and have concerts there. Agganis Arena, however, was obviously built for the hockey team.

   And it's not the kind of place any program could build and have it work like it does here.

   In one corner is the BU Hall of Fame. In another, the dozens of Terriers in the NHL. On one side, a small display celebrating the school's few dozen Olympians. In the rafters, all new banners for the various Hockey East championships, ECAC championships, Beanpots, national titles ... it goes on and on. The video board plays a clip recounting it all, with the lights turned down, as they ready to announce the night's lineup. You can't help but look around and be instantly reminded just how great this team has been for so long.

   And, albeit somewhat sadly, just what an outdated shack Walter Brown really was.

   Yet, it's more than that. It's no secret Boston University is a school dripping with money, whether it be from the children's of the world's rich that attend or the alumni that have gone on to make $80 gazillion dollars. Now, it has an arena that shows that. The concession stands sell wine and imported beers along with pesto chicken sandwiches, sweet potato fries and cheddar burgers. The electronic board that rings the arena shows ads for Pepsi, Snapple and heck knows what else throughout the game. There are promotions for Century Bank, between-period games, the whole nine yards ... things many schools have had forever but that BU couldn't pull off.

   Now, they can. And while it never would have occured to me that WBA was holding them back, maybe it was all this time.

"Our guys will always remember this weekend, closing down one great building and opening another one," [Minnesota coach Don] Lucia said. "It's a terrific building. There's a great atmosphere, and it's a fun place to play."

"I think it's very similar [to the other new arenas out west]. It's going to make a difference for the Boston University program. They've got great tradition, but hey, let's be realistic: They needed a new facility. This is going to help them level the playing field a little bit. It was needed and long overdue."

   Clearly, the Terriers played with a sense of urgency they hadn't the previous night. This was a game they wanted badly -- they wanted the first goal (and got it) and they wanted the win (and got it). Goalie John Curry was more than deserving of the No. 1 star, given the only goal he allowed was a far less worthy attempt than the half-dozen stonings he dealt out over the course of the evening.

-- Enough to make you forget he's a 20-year-old sophomore in college.

   Minnesota was still sharp, but there were loose strings tonight. They played well enough to win, but between Curry and the Terriers' extra motivation, it just wasn't in the cards. The alarming gap that surfaced between the two teams the previous night was gone, which bodes well for the rest of the season -- though BU is 8-1 in Hockey East, they were only 3-5 out of conference heading into these two games.

   There's plenty more to say, but the pictures soon to be posted will tell a lot of the tale. Suffice to say if you have any interest in the game, and are in the Boston vicinity, you should definitely go see a game there.

   Especially if you have an extra seat or two to the BU-BC game on January 15 ... I'll gladly give you the grand tour.
January 2, 2005 - Tin Roof Retired
   A Special Occasion: While it's hardly up there with, say, closing out your home of 34 years, I did receive my first comment spam this weekend.

   Considering it's from an update that talked of fried pickles, truncated icosahedrons, Vanessa Carlton, women's gymnastics and the 99 Restaurant, no wonder said spam lacked so much focus on what it was trying to push.

   They Did It!: Made it home just in time to see the final two minutes of Giants 28, Cowboys 24 -- a game fitting of ending both an eight-game losing streak and of achieving that magical 6-10 season I dreamed of all those months ago.

"To have everything go the way it did today, is amazing," said [Tiki] Barber, who also wound up leading the league in all-purpose yards this season. "(Center) Shaun O'Hara came up to me before the game and said: 'Are you ready for a storybook ending tonight.' I looked at him, but it did actually happen."

   Well, as storybook as winning one of your last nine games can be. In an awful conference where two more wins could have meant a playoff berth. Led by a quarterback who talks like, well, like he went to Mississippi to go to college.

   All that said, wooooo anyway. At least somebody tonight led me to get to write "They Did It!"

   • Which brings me to ...

The Final Game

Minnesota 2 - 1 BU
No. 528 on Babcock Street

@ WBA - 1/2/05
No. 1 Gophers
2 (14)
0 (11)
0 (6)
2 (31)
No. 13/11 TERRIERS
0 (5)
0 (9)
1 (10)
1 (24)

Read the recap on Hockey East Online.

Read the recap on U.S. College Hockey Online.

Read "Remembering Walter Brown Arena" by Scott Weighart.

   • It was an odd night overall, but a good night. Quite a good night, considering the result.

   Had the Terriers had Chris Bourque to help run their power play and just generally be a good hockey player, they would have had a far better chance of beating the No. 1 team in the nation. And really, it's not as though they were entierly outclassed.

   However, with him at the World Juniors helping the U.S. in their surge for now bronze, an exciting third period pretty much made the final result, and the gulf between the two teams, seem that much smaller than it really was.

   Minnesota didn't really overpower BU so much as they just did all the little things all game long -- really, their only major error all night was missing on a wide-open net to put the game away with about 20 seconds left. They were constantly blocking shots before they got to the cage, breaking up plays at center ice or just inside their own blue line, not allowing BU to clear the puck on penalty kills ... just the kind of relentless attack that spawns how they scored both their goals -- loose rebounds banged home in situations that just couldn't be stopped.

   BU, though, did put up a fight. As seems to always be the case, goaltending kept things from getting out of hand, with John Curry filling things this time around. And really, the hockey almost seemed secondary tonight.

   Maybe it's because we were sitting on the extreme other end of the arena from the students, maybe not. It's hard to truly get into it when screaming "Fuck 'em up, fuck 'em up, BC sucks" would piss off the father sitting behind you with his two kids right next door.

   Still, this paragraph from the AP story hits it pretty well for me:

Walter Brown Arena opened on November 27, 1971, and was the home of Terriers hockey for 34 seasons. With a capacity of just 3,806, a steep seating bowl and its famous low roof, Brown Arena was known as one of the loudest and most intimate venues in college hockey.

   It's not as though I've been a fan of the team for most of my life, or that I got to see a litany of highlights in my time there. They gave out a promotional poster with a timeline of WBA's history after the game, and exactly one contest from my days made the cut.

December 4, 1999
BU 4, UMass Amherst 3 (OT)

Captain Tommi Degerman delivers (for) the Terriers with
an OT game-winner with 0:17 seconds remaining in the extra
session. (The) Terriers go on to a 14-0-3 season at WBA.

-- Um, the poster could have used a good proofread.

   I remember the reaction to that game-winner as one of the loudest I ever heard it in Walter Brown, but there were so many more. Nearly every BC game, but moreso the wins (obviously). The odd rivalry with Northeastern for the brief period they became genuinely competitive. The white knuckle game with Rensselaer to start my senior year, where BU nearly blew a 6-1 lead with 10 minutes left. The chanting "safety school" at UMass fans because, well, it was my safety school. That DiPietro-Degerman-Heron-Corazzini-Baker-Dyment-Sabo sophomore season which ended up the best I got to see.

   It was just a great place to watch a hockey game, even if the team that played there wasn't as good as they used to be. It was the only place I know of where play could be stopped for the puck hitting the ceiling -- and yes, it was once tonight -- but it was still a great place to watch a hockey game.

   Hopefully on Monday night, BU will open another place that is too.
January 1, 2005 - She Drank Enough For Us Both
   On Football: Maybe it's just the romantic in me, but Texas should never win the Rose Bowl. Just a personal feeling, since it's been a Big 10 v. Pac 10 affair for as long as I can remember.

   That said, Iowa can win all the Capital One Bowls it wants, since I was more concerned about who won the BS "National Mascot of the Year" award.

Congratulations to 2004 Capital One Mascot of the Year, Monte the Grizzly of University of Montana for winning this coveted title. By winning three consecutive weeks down the stretch, Monte was able to move high enough in the online portion of the vote, which counts for 50% of the overall contest, to take the crown for the second time in three years. The other 50% is based on a judges' ranking, which was conducted when members of the 2004 All-America Mascot Team were selected.
-- And, ding.

   It's not like he gets tired having to cheer winning teams or anything.

   HD Vision Sunglasses: I'm not sure if these are merely an indictment of the great swath of $19.95 products, or proof that knowledge of a successful product in marketing people is never a good thing.

   However, whenever something like this happens, I always think to a trailer park or some other such "place where the uneducated reside." I see someone excited to buy these, because they make the world look "like the TV."

Ordinary dark lenses just darken your vision and can dull your appearance! But, with HD Vision's attractive Euro-style design, not only will the world look brighter and alive, but you will too!

   I just hope the BluBlocker people have a counterpunch ready.

   New Year, Old Activity: Coming to you from the shockingly busy and nicely redone Bradley Bowl in Windsor Locks, Conn., it's bowling results of interest to only six people.

1st -- Cooch -- 146.75 avg. (High: 181)
2nd -- Charlie -- 121.5 (156)
3rd -- Jen P. -- 104 (116)
4th -- Steph -- 98 (137)
5th -- Erik -- 93.25 (110)
6th -- Matt -- 82*

   * -- Matt apparently hurt himself bowling, and thus stopped. I blame society, but I'm not sure how long that's going to go for.

   Society, I mean. We are a hopeless people.

   • For those interested in how I celebrated the New Year, I made out with a bottle of champagne at the ball drop. Should you wish to experience fully what it was like, get about half the people in yoru residence screaming drunk, send a few outside to throw up and just have the rest screaming at each other in veiled references to how they hate each other.

   Are they serious? Is it the booze talking? Well, that's part of the fun!

   I'm just throwing this out there -- while it's always much appreciated to have a person volunteer their house for a party, since the leanup is never fun for anyone, but it's generally good to choose a place where more than six people can fit comfortably in the living room.

   Not as though I volunteered, but if I didn't complain, people might think I'm maturing as the calendar flips.

   Anyway, I now have something for you. Something many have waited a long, long time for. Much longer than you should have had to wait.

Lou Tilley's Sports Connection - Nov. 22, 2004
47:36 - 33.6 MB - With Many, Many People

   The file is of a lower quality than the usual ones just because it had to be so long, but it does nicely include the part where a writer from the south threatened to punch me in the face.

   Was he serious? What did I say? Right-click to find out!

   And no, I didn't have any semblance of a hangover today. I'd be frightened to know how much Sam Adams Light would be needed to reach that point.

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