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January 31, 2007 - Why The Youth Can't Be Trusted
   • Close the nominations and get the trophy. The race for "2007 News Story of the Year" is over.

As hard as he could.
-- Try having a commute now, Boston. Did you
hear what I said, Boston? Or should I turn it up?

   Understand I've spent the last eight hours talking about this, moving between screaming rage and more reasoned discussion. After hearing about some sort of "suspicious packages" being found around the city in the morning, I turned the TV off, went to work and got a ranting phone call from Julie that began with, and I quote:

"I hate that fucking show more than ever."

   That my two favorite television characters were depicted on an ill-conceived ad campaign that all but shut down my state capital leaves me feeling mixed, mainly because I know the next week will be filled with people who tune into the show for the first time, then write the inevitable, "It's stupid. It's not about anything. What a dumbass show."

   Course, 'Seinfeld' wasn't about anything either, and all that's viewed as is the greatest sitcom since the format was born. No big deal.

   Because I don't particularly want to try to hash through everything I did at work, I'll hit some of the high points ... stuff that may not be as far on the fringes of the discussion as I think, but that bears mentioning regardless.

   1. The word "hoax." Far and away, the most asinine part of all of this. Every news outlet but for a small handful are latching on to calling this a "hoax," at least in part because a public official used that word at some point in the day.

   OK. Bit of a problem, though.

   To call this whole thing a "hoax" -- defined as "something intented to deceive" -- implies the goal all along was to convince the huddled masses these were bombs. Not the case, not in the least, not even close. It was an ad campaign. A pretty weak ad campaign -- sometimes, the name of what you're promoting appears on the promotion material -- but an ad campaign. I find it hard to believe that Turner, even given all this, said, "Let's make these things, and people'll think they're bombs, and we'll get on every newscast in the country."

   It's not a hoax. It's an ad campaign falsely perceived as a bomb scare.

   Not surprisingly, given what a horseshit operation they are, Boston's Fox affiliate is at the bottom of this barrel. Not only is their graphic for the whole thing a picture of a Mooninite with HOAX screaming below it, anchor David Wade openly lamented on the air in the afternoon that they were giving the show "the publicity they wanted." He then added it was actually making him "a little bit sick."

   I then added, "That's it. If you don't turn the TV off right now, I'm going to throw it down the stairs."

   Bear in mind, Fox then spent roughly 95 percent of their late newscast talking about the story, only stopping when it was time to talk about how Paula Abdul is defending herself against people who say she's drunk on air. I could say so much more, but I don't really think I need to.

   2. The generation gap. I actually wish I could have stomached more of the audio from TV news, because it appeared all the Boston stations spent all afternoon interviewing college students. Logically, college students got the reference and were clearly the target of it all.

   Apparently, it was high comedy. One kid started singing the show's theme song on the air, and another spent an inordinate amount of time trying to describe, "OK. There's a floating container of fries, a talking shake and a meatball. And they fight crime, but that's not what the show's about, and they have this neighbor Carl who has a pool."

   It's actually too bad I like the show, because hearing all the backlash will piss me off instead of being what it truly is: beyond hilarious.

   3. The finger. You could clearly tell which stations actually understood what they were looking at, because half blurred out the middle fingers while the other half just ran them. The AP didn't start noting "EDS: NOTE OBSCENE GESTURE" until the evening, meaning it wasn't until then the youngsters in the pipeline were like, "Hey, um ... this is what that is."

   4. The videos. Of course, people found videos of all of this all over the Internet, to say nothing of the photos of these things posted up at least three weeks ago. Know why? Because this happens all the time.

   Every city in America, and I'm not talking about the dozen cities involved in this particular campaign. Take a look at the stop signs and light posts all around wherever you are. In Boston, it's Dr. Cube stickers. Down here, it's a skate shop called 'Solstice' ... hell, my old boss and good friend stuck stickers for his band 'BOMBdotCOM' all over everything he could find. God forbid they have blinking lights on them.

   BOMBdotCOM? Call the National Guard!

Peter Berdovsky
-- This guy brought a U.S. city to a standstill by accident.

   5. The point. College kids and people like me who saw this stuff see it all the time. Constantly. Every day. It's part of being that age ... everyone wants your eyes, and will try radical ways to do it. That's why no one young called the police and reported this stuff, only speaking up once it became clear someone's taking it the wrong way ... it wasn't a threat.

   Why don't we talk about how these things were posted under cover of night, in some cases three weeks ago, and no one noticed. Under bridges, in subway stations, everywhere. Where were all the security people? Where was all the crack staff designed to protect us from shit like this? Why didn't they notice?

   Because it's impossible. I'm not saying the point is not to try, but let's stop deluding ourselves into believing that if someone wants to plant a bomb somewhere and blow a bunch of people up, they can't do it.

   That's why I find this funny and absurd, and why a lot of other people who think like me do too. People are in friggin' hysterics, acting like stuff like this has never happened before. Guess what? There was someone out in some big American city last night, covertly putting up posters or stickers or something, the same as there was tonight and there will be tomorrow.

   Was this a stupidly conceived idea by Turner? Absolutely. Were these things doing anything positive under bridges on I-93? Doubtful. Should they have to pay for the trouble they indirectly (or directly) caused? I think so.

   Is this going to stop people from pulling stuff like this? Please.

   I'm just pissed this wasn't going on during Red Sox season, and I couldn't have found one that I would have stolen immediately and without impunity. And that's not even because of what I could have gotten for it on eBay.

January 30, 2007 - What's That Whistle?
   Sabres 7, Bruins 1: Um, go BU? Which reminds me ... the post-Beanpot chanting T ride was always the best part of the whole season. Especially in the absence of winning anything else significant.

Tim Thomas, though it's not his fault.
-- It's not his fault. It's just what I have handy.

   Had I been smart, I could have been saving all the awful pictures along these lines I've been seeing all season, making for a tremendous collage next fall when I'm trying to convince myself that 2007-08 will be the year the Bruins return to prominence.

   The best part will be when, having seen none of the last two adventures, I stumble across the afternoon NESN replay on Wednesday afternoon.

Schilling, Talk and All, Worth The Extension
-- I'm not sure I actually believe that. I'm pretty sure I've grudgingly convinced myself, though.

   • Is "unusual encounter" how you would term a film built around a man who died from injuries suffered during sex with a horse?

   Trust me ... what was talked about during the poker games is far more entertaining than trying to describe the actual poker games. There were tournaments, and though I actually played well, I didn't actually win anything.

   Plus, my car now whistles for some indeterminate reason I'll pin on cold until nature forces me not to.

   Though really, if there's any way in which 9/11 can actually push a man -- link's not ghastly, merely informative -- to do ... that, I'm not afraid of nature as well.

January 29, 2007 - It's Happening Again
   Forgotten Joys: Lost in the fervor of rewriting and redoing the pair of hockey posts over the weekend, Friday's loss to BC did provide me at least one other benefit.

Diploma Pom Poms
-- Diploma Pom Poms

   I annoyed Julie the other night by moving her diploma from the bedside table to the floor, which led to her hanging it on the wall.

   The bar needed to be raised, and the fine folks at Snapple made sure I had the equipment. I'll have to remember to thank Wendy the next time I see her on "Celebrity Fit Club."

   • What with another tremendous performance in their rear-view mirror, it strikes me I forgot to note BU's Daily Free Press writing about the lengths the Bruins are going to the reach the collegiate crowd.

By offering half-price tickets for Thursday home games -- which usually cost between $40 and $50 -- to students, as well as staging free post-game concerts by popular bands like State Radio, the Bruins hope younger fans can afford to see games and will hopefully keep coming back for more.

Amy Latimer, senior vice president of sales and marketing for the Bruins, said although attendance was sparse early this season when the Bruins struggled on the ice, student-section sellouts are improving sales. Average attendance has been between 13,000 and 14,000 per game, she said.

"It's an investment in our fan base," Latimer said of the promotions.

   Hey, I have an idea. How about you save that money and invest in, say, a defenseman that would allow Zdeno Chara to not be the only Bruin between five onrushing guys and the goalie? I'm not a business major or anything, but I'm thinking that might embiggen winning, which in turn would embiggen bandwagoneering, which in turn would mean I wouldn't remember Boston's last playoff series victory being when I was a FRESHMAN IN COLLEGE.

Northeastern University junior Ricky Popolizio, who created the fan blog "Believing the Bruins," said he is optimistic the Garden will fill more seats as the season progresses and said sales may be boosted by more casual fans.

. . .

With the Patriots out of the playoffs, the Red Sox season two months away and the struggling Celtics "non-existent," Popolizio said there is no better time to watch the Bruins.

"Why trek out to Boston College or even to BU to pay $25 when I can go down to a [Bruins] game for $20 and make a night out of it?" he said.

   Because neither of those teams suck, Ricky. And, last I checked, human being were able to make a night out of something near BU's non-existant campus.

   Though really, I can see how you'd be confused. Breathing all that Northeastern air for four years must make a person high as a friggin' kite.

   Oddly enough, these stories somehow go together ... when the Bruins beat Carolina in 1999, I watched the clinching game at Northeastern. That may even have been the night I heard a story about someone former roommate, who once got so drunk, he passed out in a bathroom and began involuntarily relieving himself through all the orifices one relieves themselves through, all at once.

   Come to think of it, that must at least hint at the experience of a 6-1 loss to the Rangers, right?

January 28, 2007 - Notepaper
   Unnecessary Playlists: Please add as you can to my top-of-my-head list of Songs Featuring Foreign Language Counting.

-- The Offspring's "Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)"
-- U2's "Vertigo"

   The German version of Nena's "99 Red Balloons" does not count, as I don't think there's any actual counting involved.

   • Driving back to Whale City today, I heard a radio spot featuring Michael Holley, a by-all-acoounts nice guy and generally good sports radio host.

   He was doing a spot for a local Nissan dealership notable to some New Englanders because of its jingle -- "Fireside Nissan," it appears, is no more. As often happens, he extolls the virtues of said dealership via his own purchase/payment for the commercial ... i.e. "I've been a huge fan of Joe Blow Automotive for two years, when I became a customer and got my new Cadillac Super Hummer H240E."

   I normally wouldn't think much of this, but it was maybe four years ago (in Holley's former life as a Boston Globe columnist) that he and I arrived for a weekday press access at Gillette Stadium about the same time. We didn't park next to each other, but he was close enough for me to note that he was driving the backfiringest, crummy piece of crap you could ever expect a well-known writer to be seen in.

   We ended up sitting next to each other at Bill Belichick's press conference that day, and I distinctly remember Holley all but threw a table-pounding temper tantrum because he couldn't get recognized and people kept cutting off his attempts to ask a question.

   Eventually, he stormed off to the side and all but clubbed his way to the front to ask whatever he had to ask.

   Today, he's got a season-long, private-access book in his wake and is, if not being given fancy cars, has the money to buy fancy cars.

   Clearly, if you have any suggestions toward how I could most easily and most respectfully whore myself out to the highest bidder, we need to be talking.

Helton Works, But Only At The Right Price
-- Never did I think I'd even for a moment worry about trading Julian Tavarez.

Mullins Center Hockey

BU 3 - 3 UMass
With seven ties, seeing one was inevitable.

@ UMass - 1/27/07
0 (11)
1 (11)
2 (8)
0 (3)
3 (33)
2 (6)
1 (6)
0 (7)
0 (2)
3 (21)

Read the recap on Hockey East Online.

   • It's always nice when, as a latecomer, you walk into the arena at the exact moment the opposing team begins a rush that will result in a 1-0 lead. That I'd been listening in the car when their earlier goal was disallowed? Really no solace.

   Julie, UMass grad that she is, offered exactly as much consolation as you'd both hope and figure. And that was before she strangled me a minute later at 2-0, before her family all laughed at me during the second intermission and before I tipped my soda to her father at 3-0.

   So really, I've rarely been happier with a tie. It was not only needed, but allowed me to keep my dignity. This was much to Julie's chagrin, which she proved by attempting to strangle me with her jersey on the stairwell as we left.

Jon Couture, UMass almost-fan
-- Imagine if I hadn't had shared my popcorn.

   Now, even as a columnist, I am not in the business of questioning Jack Parker, BU's legendary coach, a 750-game winner and all the rest. As such, I'll assume he had a very good reason to start John Curry, who was playing his third game in four nights and looked reasonably bad in the week's second high-octane game with BC on Friday. Perhaps Curry asked to get back on the ice quickly after looking bad. Maybe history has taught him it's best to get back on the horse quick.

   Regardless, when he was pulled about a minute after it became 3-0 for Karson Gillespie, I said to Julie, "You're not scoring again."

   History proved me right, but Gillespie honestly wasn't tested much the remainder of the game. The Terriers, who'd become physically dominating in the latter half of the first period, just didn't let UMass get many shots on net.

   And from there, BU didn't so much prove they were the better team as UMass proved they weren't. Left open on the blue line? 3-1. Player unchecked surging to the net on a rebound? 3-2.

   And the equalizer?

A crazy bounce tied it all up at three apiece as [Kevin] Schaeffer was credited with his second of the game at 6:24. Schaeffer went to dump the puck into the zone and Quick came out to play it, but it took a bounce off of his stick and rebounded back into his own net for the 3-3 score.

   It was the kind of thing that makes up the backbone of blooper reels, and is all the more absurd when Quick made the save of his life on a breakaway later, getting his leg out after being deked flat to the ice.

   I suppose cosmically, that made the tie more legit, even if ref Benedetto then tried to futz it all up, giving UMass a penalty shot with 16 seconds left because the BU net came off its moorings in a scrum. Questionable call, but it was nice to see a college hockey penalty shot -- something that I'd thought about the night before, in the context that I'm reasonably certain it might make Agganis explode.

   In short, I tend to agree with Julie's dad ... it's probably best neither team got two points, because neither of them appeared to deserve it. And for the weekend, I saw the worst night of power plays I've ever seen, the worst goal I've ever seen live, my first collegiate penalty shot and another Brandon Yip injury, even if those aren't exactly scarce.

   Could have been worse. I could have been working.

Mullins Center Hockey     UMass-BU Hockey

January 27, 2007 - Nacho Shrapnel
   Poker: When you largely play dealer's choice games with 50-cent antes and where a $3 bet is viewed as gargantuan, winning close to $100 is not real easy to do.

   Course, it gets easier when you intersperse those games with guts games of acey-deucey that build $55 pots and I'm sitting in a three-card variant with Q-Q-WILD on a $128 pot.

   I won the first and folded the second. Given how safely up I was, there was really no need to tempt fate, and to a lesser extent I didn't want to bankrupt a friend who had paid the entirety of the $128 in the middle. That the hand may have been played out and showed that I would have lost? Irrelevant.

   Even if it would have been the sort of ending that would have ended my fascination with cards forever.

   • Through a morning of playing poker and a frenetic drive across the state to Amherst, I had eaten a can of ginger ale for breakfast, three mini bags of Baked Cheetos and beer for lunch, and a hot dog, popcorn and soda for dinner.

   That's not entirely how this happened:

Hangar War Leftovers
-- Formerly 60 wings, cheesy chili fries and a pizza tray of nachos.

   But I'm sure it helped a little bit.

The Anthem

BC 5 - 2 BU
At least I didn't pay six times face value or anything.

@ BU - 1/26/07
0 (9)
2 (16)
0 (15)
2 (40)
2 (16)
1 (8)
2 (10)
5 (34)

Read the recap on Hockey East Online.

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

   • There's a level of acceptance when you go to BC games that these things can happen. Generally speaking, even when one of the two teams is bad, you're still looking at two of the elite programs in the entire country. As the scoreboard so dutifully taught me before the game, the Wednesday night meeting at Conte Forum was the first time two coaches with at least 750 wins met in a game.

   As such, despite the result, there were many things to enjoy beyond simply being at the game.

BU-BC: Jan. 26, 2007
-- The students showing up half an hour early.

BU-BC: Jan. 26, 2007
-- Rhett, sleeping through intros.
BU-BC: Jan. 26, 2007
-- The kid dressed like a hot dog.
BU-BC: Jan. 26, 2007
-- Puck children.
BU-BC: Jan. 26, 2007
-- Mite goaltenders.

   That, however, didn't make it any more fun to watch/listen to smarmy BC kids enjoying themselves or see Nathan Gerbe, a new hateable Eagle who I'll curse along the lines of Brian Gionta, smirk after drawing a weak roughing penalty.

   Look. All I'm saying is that if a 5-foot-6 player instigates a hit from a 6-foot-3 defenseman who likes to maul people, it's going to look worse than it actually is.

   Also, watching hockey from the third row? That would make people love the sport. Just so much faster.

   As for the game, well, it was 2-0 BC five minutes in. In so much as the third period began with it 3-2 and the sense that BU really could get the thing tied up, they went without a real legitimate chance in the period and gave up an awful insurance goal to ice it inside three minutes left.

   That, however, was not really the story. In nine years of watch BU hockey, I've seen a lot of bad power plays -- bad enough that that's stuck with me through the years. Tonight, BU went 1-for-7 on the power play, with the one about as weak as can be -- they had 1:30 of 5-on-3, and scored on a scrum goal in front of the net with 0:01 remaining.

   That, however, hardly tells the story, and I'm a little surprised it didn't get more mention in the game story. There's hardly ever a good 1-for-7 on the power play, but this one ... this was ghastly. On at least four of those PPs, the Terriers never even got set up in the Eagles' zone. I understand that's part of what happens when you play a good team whom you housed in their own building 48 hours earlier, but when you're also a good team, it's not out of line to expect a little more.

   They did come out for the second a lot hotter than they did at the start, and as I said, thanks to a largely out-of-nowhere rebound goal, did go into the third with a chance to win. BC, however, just doesn't let a lot of teams come back on them ... they showed some absurd stat on TV to that effect in their first meeting of the season, but I can't remember what it is. Thanks in part to my own eyes and to the fans we were sitting next to -- easily the smartest fans I've ever had the good-fortune to sit near at a sporting event -- I now know that Carl Sneep is going to be one hell of a pro.

   Thank goodness, because the Pittsburgh Penguins clearly need more young talent. If they ever actually did become the new Hartford Whalers, I might have to move closer to Hartford and buy season tickets. Seriously.

   So there you have it. Glad I went, but hardly satisfied. And then there's Saturday, with a UMass team they should have no problem with looming because of the three-games-in-four-days and how relatively bad John Curry looked. The Karson Gillespie Experience would be a welcome sight at Mullins Center, a point backed by those who see more games noting he has an odd propensity for pitching shutouts -- 120 minutes, one goal allowed.

   Course, the wings after the game will be just as welcome a sight. I'm a pretty easy sell, after all.
January 26, 2007 - I Forgot Everything Else

J.D. Drew Ready To Shoulder The Load
-- Unlike the last time this happened on a game day, I actually managed to write and still be on time.

   • Bob Ryan was not on today's J.D. Drew conference call. That makes me very sad, if only because now I'll probably miss their hilarious first time crossing paths.

   Also making me sad? That the German who apparently is a brewmaster, friends with people at Sam Adams and in Boston until Wednesday really did catch me at the Bell in Hand coat check while we were on our way out the door. With a splitting headache, I really hadn't wanted to be there in the first place, but I suppose it could have been much worse.

   Given his spiked hair, friendliness and that I genuinely only understood about 35 percent of the words he said, it's safe to say the next hour would have either resulted in a story worthy for the annals of history ... or my untimely death in an alley. And yet here I sit, left to wonder why SportsCenter was so fascinating that night and how I escaped saying something off-color about Maria Sharapova.

January 25, 2007 - Collegians Are Our Future
   It's A Crime To Waste Potential: The idea of the ultimate Super Bowl rankings is an excellent one ... 80 Super Bowl participants, power sorted top to bottom. It also, however, is very hard, and prone to some odd choices.

   You'd think it would be very hard to misrank every Super Bowl team I've cared about ever, but rest assured they did. For your sake, I'm limiting my bitching, but I feel like I really need to say a few things.

78. 2000 NEW YORK GIANTS (Lost to Ravens, SB XXXV)
A completely uninspiring and forgettable team, which got crushed in a completely uninspiring and forgettable Super Bowl. (Wait, Jim Fassel coached in a Super Bowl? Kerry Collins took every snap for a Super Bowl team?) Nonetheless, the Giants did win the NFC (beating the Vikings 41-0 in the NFC title game when Minnesota essentially quit). The Giants were strong on D, especially against the run (allowing just 3.2 yards per carry) and did beat the Eagles three times, but won a weak conference and lacked star power (only two Pro Bowlers). Did we mention Jim Fassel was the coach?

If there's anyone who should hate this team, it's the kid who lost two weeks pay believing in them. However, I love how it's just thrown it that, "Oh, yeah. They were the No. 1 seed in the league." Ought to mean something, shouldn't it? Never mind that they would have killed the strike-year Dolphins and the 1985 Patriots.

It was at this point I should have stopped reading.

74. 1996 NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (Lost to Packers, SB XXXI)
Bill Parcells likes to run the ball, but this was a throwing team: The Pats were second in the NFL in attempts and third in passing yards. That wasn't the only strange stat. While finishing second in points, the offense was more methodical than scary: 19th in yards per passing attempt and 25th in average yards per carry. And while the defense gave up a lot of yards (over 4,000 passing yards), it did have a tough run D (third-best yards per carry) and picked off 23 passes. But it certainly wasn't a great team and was helped when 9-7 Jacksonville knocked off 13-3 Denver in the divisional round.

All true. What I can't figure out is how the Packers team that beat them, a team the Patriots ran with for a decent chunk of the game, is sixth. As in the sixth-best team ever, largely because they led the league in points and fewest points allowed. At no point in the run-up to that Super Bowl did I think New England had no chance, which is what this list is essentially telling me was reality.

Strike two.

The Patriots grabbed opportunity by the throat and didn't let go until pundits had crowned them as a dynasty. New England took advantage of Adam Vinatieri's clutch field goals, the tuck rule and postseason touchdowns by its special teams and defense en route to its first Super Bowl victory. But the Patriots had poor rankings in offensive and defensive yardage (outgained overall). Credit Tom Brady and Troy Brown for having terrific seasons, but a legitimate argument can be made that the Patriots were inferior to all three of their postseason opponents. That's why New England was a 14-point underdog to the Rams.

Yes. They were so inferior to all three of their postseason opponents, they beat each one of them.

Look. When the 2001 season began, I'm on record on this Web site as saying I was unsure whether they could beat a really good high school team. I'm not exactly shocked they're not in the top half. But I'd love to see them play the six teams between them and the top half, because I guarantee they'd beat half of them.

And you can damn well bet they'd slaughter the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers, Super Bowl champions and holders of the No. 41 spot. I'd put another two weeks pay on that right now.

33. 1990 NEW YORK GIANTS (Beat Bills, SB XXV)
We can already hear the uproar from Gotham over this one. Yes, we're ranking a 13-3 Bill Parcells-coached team that beat a strong Bills squad in the Super Bowl this low. But there's no way around the facts. This team finished in the bottom half of the NFL in points scored and won the NFC Championship Game and Super Bowl by a combined three points. Its leading rusher, Ottis Anderson, didn't approach the 1,000-yard mark, and none of its wide receivers caught 30 passes. It started a relatively green Jeff Hostetler as its postseason quarterback and ultimately relied on the errant foot of Scott Norwood to secure its championship. How did the Giants win? They didn't make mistakes, committing just 14 turnovers -- the fewest since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978.

Understand I knew when I started reading, I was going to have a problem with where this team was ranked. The 1990 Giants are among my most beloved teams ever. They were the first of my teams in my generation to win a championship ... after seeing the Morgan's Magic Red Sox flame out in 1988, I already understood that didn't happen real often. Tonight, after going out to eat and seeing that NFL Network was replaying Super Bowl XXV, I cracked out my own 16-year-old VHS copy, and damn if I didn't watch a good half-hour of it.

That said, "won the NFC Championship Game and Super Bowl by a combined three points"? F'ing meaningless. "It started a relatively-green Jeff Hostetler as its postseason quarterback"? Gee, you think that might have made their playoff run MORE impressive, since they beat the defending champions 49ers (whose 1989 version was ranked No. 1 all-time) in San Francisco in the title game? "Ultimately relied on the errant foot of Scott Norwood to secure its championship"?

Know what? This is among the 10 dumbest things I've ever read. Apparently, when you hold the ball for 40 minutes of a 60-minute game against the NFL's best offense (including 23 of 30 in the second half), and keep a team that scored 51 points in the AFC title game to 19 points, you're lucky their shitty kicked missed a 48-yard field goal by about a yard and a half.

   Know what? I'm done. I don't give a crap about the rest of the order, because it's even dumber than I thought. Never mind that No. 32 on the list is the 2003 Patriots, who you might recall I proclaimed could beat every Super Bowl team, ever.

   No words. No more needed. I hate everyone.

   • Just so we're clear about something.

BU-BC. Is. On.
-- It. Is. On.

   I suppose this counts for me having faith in the youth of America, given I've advanced to the non-carding age and appearance at liquor stores and restaurants. In that way, I'm pleased.

   I'm still a jerk, but at least a jerk with some school spirit.

January 24, 2007 - (Scared Smiley Face)
   New Sensation: In the relentless pursuit of time-wasting, games are a valuable resource. Trouble is, I'm not someone who is good enough at most computer games to be good at them, and I'm not someone whose attention can be held by the sort of complex bullcrap that now dominates the market. This is how I end up replaying seasons of Tecmo Super Bowl some 16 years after the game came out ... because as much as I loved Sim City 2000, I never stuck it out to building a massive metropolis without cheating.

   I have, however, rediscovered another game that I spent hours playing as a kid, and am delighting in the fact I'm just bad enough at it to feel like it's a consistent challenge.

-- Solitaire is for losers. It's like preferring 'Wheel of Fortune' to 'Jeopardy!'

   That I'm reasonably sure I've only beaten Expert about twice in my life is pretty depressing, especially when you stumble across the world leaderboard.

   I'm hardly one of those eaten away inside by the idea I'm not the best at something, but come on ... I'd like to think my Intermediate score can be lower than that 'worst' on Expert.

   I'll Stop Scaring You Now: Let the Minesweeper tip pages do it, as well as the idea I'll spend the hour after this post chasing the numbers.

   • Tonight, BU won the made-up fog-out game with BC, starting a three-game-in-four-day run in which I will see the final two games -- one a BU-BC game at Agganis, the other out at my second hockey home, UMass.

   You guess the outcome.

   Thankfully, Minesweeper will ease the pain. The pain that will come from playing three hours of Wii Sports after it's all over.

   Yeah, that's where we are. Video game injuries. Dark time.

January 23, 2007 - Pastry Power
   They're Twinks: Someone brought a box to Twinkies to work tonight. While partaking, I noticed this was on the box.

Hostess Race Divas
-- Of course there's a related Web site.

   Now, imagine for a minute that any of the three pictured women -- athletes who drive very fast modes of transportation -- are often near Hostess cakes. Imagine they've ever bought a box of Twinkies.

   Unlikely? Doubtful, because they have Hostess-related recipes. Namely, Danica Patrick's Speedway Shortcake: Twinkie Style.

   Having every time I eat a Twinkie remind me why it's not a good idea to eat them often, I can only imagine what a dessert involving an entire box of them must be like slogging through.

No Closer to Closer? That's Fine
-- My semi-analysis of the closer situation, at least until Baseball Prospectus writes something about it and completely changes my mind.

   • I'm not completely sure how I ended up reading about Niagara Falls, but how can anyone not enjoy the stories of people hurling themselves off a 16-story cliff?

No human has ever survived a plunge over the American Falls, owing to the many boulders and the relatively weak current. All survivors and daredevils have passed over the Horseshoe Falls, where there are fewer boulders and the current can "throw" a person farther away from the brink and (hopefully) avoid the boulders.

   Excellent use of "hopefully."

January 22, 2007 - Soft Filters
   Oh, Look. Winter.: I suppose it was inevitable.

Snow in New Bedford     Snow in New Bedford

   And in that vein, various pictures from the cell phone camera.

Lovely Fall River
-- Lovely Fall River

-- Fire!

-- Urinals!

Sierra Peeks
-- Curious dogs!

Mullet Child
-- And a kid with a full-on mullet.

   Deception: Not that any of you would be bidding on UMass hockey tickets online, but just so we're clear:

WOW! This is your opportunity to see the Boston University Terriers take on the UMASS Minutemen at the fantastic Mullins Center located in Amherst MA. The game will be played on Friday evening, February 09, 2006 at 7:00pm. the FACE VALUE on these seats are $12.00 EACH. THIS IS A STEAL!

These are great seats with an ABSOLUTELY phenomenal view of the ice.

Don't miss the shot at seeing Cory Quirk, Chris Capraro and Chris Davis hit the ice against the Terriers of BU. You will leave at the end of this game with no regrets, these seats are the real deal.

   Yeah, Mullins Center? Not exactly a building with a lot of bad seats for hockey. Or anything.

   That said, Sec. LL is among the worst. Row 29 would be among the worst of the worst. I'm not sure I can completely figure why anyone would actually buy these seats in the first place. I can go on Ticketmaster and buy tickets many times better for the same price, right now.

   If you can't trust eBay, and you can't trust me not to take surreptitious pictures of children with mullets, just what can you trust?

   • Read on MySpace this afternoon:

Warning - Please be aware that MySpace is accessed by thousands of users every day; since you do not know every user on the MySpace site, exercise caution when posting personally identifiable information.

   Yeah, because that's not trying to get the toothpaste back in the tube.

   Next, you're going to tell me people don't actually want to see high-definition pornography.


Hollywood is dealing with similar problems, but they are more pronounced for pornographers, who rely on close-ups and who, because of their quick adoption of the new format, are facing the issue more immediately than mainstream entertainment companies.

Producers are taking steps to hide the imperfections. Some shots are lit differently, while some actors simply are not shot at certain angles, or are getting cosmetic surgery, or seeking expert grooming.

"The biggest problem is razor burn," said Stormy Daniels, an actress, writer and director.

   There's some sort of women's empowerment in there somewhere, but I've hardly got the tools to wrench it out.

January 21, 2007 - I Love The Pats
   • I'm in a real nice place with the Patriots. I like them just enough to be happy when they win, but when they lose what I'll christen a wicked nut-buster, it's not that big a deal.

   Good for the Colts. I can't honestly say at any moment this season I looked at the Patriots and said, "Damn! That team's going to the Super Bowl!" The Colts ... maybe once. New England could have beaten them, and just didn't.

   Now, the inevitable wait until the flow of articles that will make me embarrassed to have chosen journalism as my profession. My guess is the first will be some sort of slam on Tom Brady, and how he was never really clutch, but lucky.

   My boss Josh seems to think no one will write that outside of our current "senior sports editor," an unabashed Colts fan who often goes out of his way to needle his readers.

   As I said to him, it's not as though he invented the genre of "asshole columnist."

   And the Saints, well, I kind of saw this coming. I would have to guess anyone else who looked at the game with a critical eye came to the same conclusion.

   I'm sure there's some delightful fan photos out there, but I'll hold out hope that Andrea -- who lives in downtown Indy and celebrated her 20-somethingth birthday on Sunday -- will send along something even more lovely.

January 20, 2007 - Half-Hour
   Filling The Gaps: In lieu of something more substantive, here's a copy of the story I wrote about Chris Carpenter for the Boston chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America dinner, which was like 10 days ago.

When he reached the majors in 1997, no one could be faulted for thinking of New Hampshire's Chris Carpenter as a pitcher who shared a name with the St. Louis Cardinals' 1st-round pick in the 1987 amateur draft.

A decade later, there's little question -- Cris Carpenter, who played for four teams in an eight-year career, was just keeping the name warm for its standard bearer.

That Chris Carpenter's 15-8 campaign last season -- complete with a National League-best three shutouts, a 3.09 ERA, a .279 on-base percentage against and eight innings of three-hit baseball in the World Series -- could be considered a down year says all it needs to about the alum of Manchester's Trinity High School. The 2005 NL Cy Young Award winner finished third in 2006, but was the foundation of the rotation for the World Series champion Cards.

That was a fact not lost on GM Walt Jocketty. In signing Carpenter to a five-year, $65 million contract extension with a club option in early December, he secured the 31-year-old's services through 2012 -- longer than any other player on the roster.

"It was important for us," Jocketty said at the Winter Meetings, "to show what we think of him."

It's hard to see professional success coming at the prep level, but Carpenter certainly did all he could ... and that's before considering he grew up next door to the parents of Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk. An All-New Hampshire selection as both a pitcher and hockey defenseman in his final three years at Trinity, Carpenter chose the field after the Toronto Blue Jays offered a hefty signing bonus along with choosing him in the first round of the 1993 draft.

Rising from the wilds of Medicine Hat, Alberta, to the Blue Jays in three years, he didn't truly deliver on his promise until being signed by the Cardinals in 2002. After nearly retiring when shoulder surgery cost him the 2003 season, 2004's Comeback Player of the Year has never looked back.

And he's got the individual and team accolades to prove it.

"This is a place you're going to have an opportunity to win every year," Carpenter said of St. Louis upon receiving his new deal. "Winning the World Series is the best feeling I've ever had playing sports. I'd love to do it again."

Not surprisingly, the Cardinals think snagging players like 2006's New England Player of the Year are the way to do just that.

   As I understand it, he received a plaque with this story on it.

   Not bad for like an hour's work. An hour's work I wasted like three weeks before doing, but an hour's work nonetheless.

   • About an hour after I found this on Matty Cooch's computer, I went upstairs and found a pile of baseball cards my mother had unearthed when cleaning out a closet. And damn if she didn't find a card for the other Cris Carpenter in that pile.

   I was more excited about the Bob Zupcic White Sox card. Largely because I once saw him signing autographs by passing things underneath the fence around the old players' parking lot, he is my all-time favorite forgotten Red Sox.

   Andy Sheets, eat your heart out.

January 19, 2007 - I'm Forgetting Something
   Promotional: If radio promos are to be believed, it's apparently just this simple.

Want to live to be 100?
Just listen to the John Tesh Radio Show

   For such a mockworthy guy, John Tesh has composed some of the best TV sports theme songs ever -- the NBA on NBC one almost making me like the sport -- along with bailing out on Entertainment Tonight and espousing knowledge like "sipping cold water offers an energy boost" between soft rock hits on late night radio.

   He did, however, name his daughter Prima Sellechia Tesh. Demerit.

   • Why does Employee of the Month work? Because much of the movie is not focused on Dane Cook doing Dane Cook things. In fact, when he makes reference to the "balls and taint region" by making an exaggerated circle with his finger, it's actually funny because he hasn't been doing it for the previous 75 minutes.

   This, however, is the wrong 'Employee of the Month.' And it's a shame, because there's not enough movies centered around bad things happening to Matt Dillon. I'm pretty sure this is closing on its own genre.

   This feels too low, but then again, "this will never be the movie of the month, but you could do a lot worse at the multiplex" is a pretty sound assessment. Well done, Ruthe Stein of the San Francisco Chronicle.

January 18, 2007 - Not About Journalism's Future
   Withdrawal Symptoms: I'm not the kind of person who often feels like he needs a day off. Enjoying money, this makes my answer always yes when asked about working overtime or generally doing things that others would consider less than intelligent.

   This afternoon, my first day off in 10 days, I spent the entire afternoon convinced I had something I was forgetting to do. That it was suddenly going to hit me that I had to write something or be somewhere or hand something in. The whole time I was driving west, I couldn't get it out of my head.

   Then, the feeling just kinda went away. I got home, started thinking about other things and generally enjoyed not having to think for several hours.

   It didn't strike me until later that all those thoughts didn't so much dissipate when I got home as they dissipated somewhere in the 4 o'clock hour ... the normal time when I'm arriving at work and figuring out the night's section.

   Apparently, in the same way your body gets used to getting up at a given hour, my body had gotten used to thinking about the AP Digest every afternoon at 4 o'clock.

   Healthy. Kind of like I presume Blazin' Buffalo & Ranch Doritos are, but there's no way I'm getting anywhere near those damn things.

   • Understand I did spend tonight trying to book my lodgings for Fort Myers, the final step in sealing another extended period where I'll be working myself stupid, though to Spring Training's credit, I didn't notice that last year until after it was over. Twice, I found a place with oddly cheap rooms, then discovered the bug- and smell-related reasons (via customer reviews) why they were so much cheaper.

   As such, iIf you know of any reason why I shouldn't spend 16 nights at the Crestwood Suites in Fort Myers, I'd appreciate it if you kept it to yourself. When you mention wireless Internet like six times on your site, and the complaints about you are that maids don't remake the room every day -- shockingly, not an issue for me -- I'm half-expecting to arrive there on Feb. 27 to find the place burned down three months ago.

   On the plus side, though, the presence of a camera phone and wireless Internet means I can again believe I'll update this site daily while I'm down there. As I believe I wrote, I'm pretty sure that idea lasted until about dinner on the first night.

   Also, bear in mind I'm trying to replace a place that had cigarette burns in the bath tub. I really didn't care, though I'm pretty sure if my mother knew the details of the room, she'd beat me for reasons she might not even understand.

January 17, 2007 - Life Choices
   A Test: Take a look at this ad.

Half of Us
-- From the Daily Free Press.

   If you look at this and think something suicide or depression related, that's fine. Please continue reading below.

   However, if you look at it and your first thought, your raw instinct is that, "Hey! One isn't half of 10!" ... I like you.

   There's hope for you. Or a complete lack of hope and compassion. I can't decide which.

   Divorcee Seeks ...: I don't so much watch awards shows as I sit in the office on nights when they air, looking at the red carpet pictures from awards shows.

   This one caught my eye for many reasons, many of which I bet you can figure out pretty quick.

Reese Witherspoon
-- See? Easy.

   Now, far be it for me to get very judgemental, but is it hard to tell she just got divorced? No. I'd say pretty easy.

   Which is fine. It's just that I usually don't pick up on these things, both by choice and because I'm an idiot. And because I generally don't like reading what publicists have to say.

"The classic expression is that the best revenge is looking well," says R.J. Garis, an entertainment publicist. "Well, in show business it's 'the best revenge is looking great.' You might feel miserable inside -- 'I'm devastated and I don't feel like getting out in front of the paparazzi' -- but you have to maintain that sexy image."

   I don't like R.J., mainly because he probably makes twice what I do and lives somewhere where it's not like 17 degrees right now. Though I'm sure my side of the ledger has benefits, some that may even go beyond not wanting to slam my head in the car door when I get home from work every night.

   I don't even have to drive to work!

   • I'm hardly as passioniate about this as this guy, but worth pondering:

The (Hartford) Courant is reducing the amount of agate on our Scoreboard page each day, eliminating the majority of summaries from the NBA and NHL as well as parimutuel entries and results. The Courant is reducing the space in its Sports section for budgetary reasons, and these cuts will allow us to retain content of the highest interest to most readers. You will still get Celtics and Knicks box scores and Rangers and Bruins summaries. You'll also continue to get coverage of both leagues with some new features:

You can see how the 14 NBA players with Connecticut ties did with text of that night's NBA games. We'll also do a statistical highlights box each night. In the NHL, each night we'll tell you which players with state ties did something significant as well as who the multi-goal scorers were.

   Even if he is a guy who links to Bill Simmons' home page, he raises some excellent points. The Courant will continue to send three people to UConn women's games, but can't spare space on the agate page to run the majority of NBA and NHL boxes. Course, we can't either, but we also have a far earlier deadline, a far smaller newshole and women's college basketball exactly where it belongs ... on the Wire, and not in the paper.

   I make it a point not to think too, too much about the journalism profession by and large, both because I'm a big believer in not worrying about things you have no control over and because I'm probably not quite smart enough to say anything profound. However, it's hard not to read "Maybe I'm going a bit overboard, but why would a newspaper send people to other sources to get information? Isn't that the point of a newspaper, to provide people with information they want?" and think, "Yeah. That is pretty friggin' stupid."

   And yet, then I go the other way, and read this story on what the Fort Myers News Press is doing -- it's down the bottom:

Could this be the future of newspapering?

Darkness falls on a chilly Winn-Dixie parking lot in a dodgy part of North Fort Myers just before Thanksgiving. Chuck Myron sits in his little gray Nissan and types on an IBM ThinkPad laptop plugged into the car's cigarette lighter. The glow of the screen illuminates his face.

Myron, 27, is a reporter for the Fort Myers News-Press and one of its fleet of mobile journalists, or "mojos." The mojos have high-tech tools -- ThinkPads, digital audio recorders, digital still and video cameras -- but no desk, no chair, no nameplate, no land line, no office. They spend their time on the road looking for stories, filing several a day for the newspaper's Web site, and often for the print edition, too. Their guiding principle: A constantly updated stream of intensely local, fresh Web content -- regardless of its traditional news value -- is key to building online and newspaper readership.

   On the surface, great idea. Here's the execution.

The event he just covered? The signing of a fundraising calendar for the local chamber of commerce featuring the Hunks of North Fort Myers. The event was held inside a gym beside a Winn-Dixie in a strip shopping center. It had been looking dim -- just three hunks and half a dozen seemingly uninterested middle-aged ladies working out nearby -- when Myron arrived at the gym with his ThinkPad under one arm and a digital camera peeking out of a pocket of his khakis.

Twenty minutes passed before one senior citizen and her husband walked in with two calendars to be signed by the hunks. She agreed to be interviewed and have her picture taken by Myron. He took notes on the screen of his ThinkPad, using an electronic stylus.

Thirty minutes later, sitting in his car with a sense of relief, he has written a short story, cropped one digital picture, written a caption, uploaded it all to the Web and linked to a previous story he'd written on the calendar fundraiser. Traditionally, such a story would barely rise to the level of a newspaper's weekly community insert. Yet this is the third story Myron has written on the calendar.

   Yes. Because when two people attend an event, it's clearly something that more people are clamoring for more information about.

   Regardless, I suppose there's going to be a lot of this in my career, given no one seems to know how any of us are going to keep our jobs. What with the entire profession plummeting off a cliff and all.

   If only instead of playing computer games and sports when I was a kid, I would have started programming the damn things instead.

January 16, 2007 - They're Actually Just "Pengins"
   A Moment of Clarity: Yes, advertising executives. We do love penguins.

"There's obviously something about these little guys" that is leading advertisers to think "it says something about us as consumers to associate ourselves with penguins," said Michael Megalli, a partner at Group 1066, a corporate identity consulting company in New York.

One theory Mr. Megalli offered is what he called "the Al Gore thing" -- this is, "we want to reassure ourselves penguins will have a place in a world with global warming."

   Well, that's why they call them "theories" ... because sometimes, they're wrong. When I think Al Gore:

-- I think of a different animal.

   But keep trying. Everyone does love penguins.

   • Worth noting ... pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers a month from today.

   Normally, I'd like to believe I'd accompany this with a blog post, but my mind is mush. Just one more day to go, then the most fulfilling two days off in months.

   Then another insane weekend. And by insane, I mean "not fun" and "work dominated."

   It's going to be fun when that OT check comes next Wednesday, though.

January 15, 2007 - Again, The People
   Cohabitation Grab Bag: Julie went home for a good chunk of the last three days, spending from Friday afternoon to Monday afternoon in Western Mass. While she was out at a bar after the Patriots game, eating freakishly large chicken wings, I was enraging a man who goes by 'Squeak' enough to call the newspaper. Debate is now open for which is a more fufilling weekend.

   Among the three or so productive things I did in her absence was clean out the living room closet ... since she moved down here, I've been endeavoring to free up as much space as possible, both to give her room for things and so when a move actually happens, there's less crap to deal with. During the process, there was what you'd expect -- me opening a lot of boxes, with the goal of putting things in smaller boxes.

   During my cleaning, I found this:

Bridal Collection
-- Apparently, I was not supposed to find this.

   It's from a Western Mass. jeweler, so it's at least from the first half of 2006, which I suppose is better than if it was picked up, say, Thursday. And really, I'm relieved that -- much like a bad haircut -- it means I can ultimately go into a store, point at something and say, "That one!"

   Course, come to find out that the listed prices may not actually include the shiny rocks that are apparently essential to the whole process. Plus, there's then my mother, who continues to tell me that because Julie's younger sister is already engaged, I now have to trump her ring.

   That should be easy, considering her sister's fiance owns (or at least did at one time) a boat and a jet ski, plus they bought a house.

   Me? I got excited because the other day, the clerk at Subway gave me the 10% off senior discount because I'm a "nice guy."

   Speaking Of: A Saturday afternoon at a fast-food sandwich shop in a downtown not exactly jumping is a quiet time. As such, when I stopped in on my way to work, the older clerk and I had a chat about a few things.

   Among them, she asked whether I was from the area originally, to which I replied no and went through my "grew up outside Springfield, went to school in Boston, came to work here" spiel. Her eyes lit up a bit when I mentioned Boston, and she asked where I went to school. So I told her.

   To which she replied, "That's my school!"

   Apparently, she went through BU's College of General Studies back when it was the College of Basic Studies in the mid-1970s. She never really got into what happened after that, and how it resulted in her making my sandwich on a crappy Saturday some 60 miles and three decades to the south.

   She's good at making sandwiches, though.

   • After writing that I hadn't found any pictures of my fellow BU alum Rosie at the Saints game on Saturday night, I then actually went and looked, finding some in approximately 10 seconds.

Rosie in New Orleans
-- The guy is her brother Ramon, who used
to ask me for sportswriting-related advice.

   Suffice to say, it's an excellent photo, though in no way equal to this.

Colts Blue Brothers
-- Not shown: The savage beating offered up by those in the background.

Thousands of fans, including Kevin Van Horn and David Van Horn of Indianapolis, better known as the "Colts Blue Brothers," waited in the rain Monday for a chance at the 1,000 tickets available for the AFC championship football game between the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots. The Colts will host their first AFC title game Sunday, Jan. 21, since moving to Indianapolis 23 years ago. (AP Photo / The Indianapolis Star, Matt Detrich )

   As a sidelight, it would appear they were shut out to boot. Apparently, no one told Indiana how the ticketing process works anytime in the past 25 years.

Wristband numbers were drawn for the chance to buy up to six of the roughly 1,000 tickets available starting at 10 a.m. But hopeful fans became hostile fans when it appeared that fewer than 100 tickets were actually sold at the Dome.

Only about a dozen people made it to the ticket windows before the game was declared a sellout by 10:10 a.m.

"It was shady," said Mitch Isaacs, 27, a fan from Muncie who arrived at 5 a.m. "I just feel like we weren't given all the information."

Many fans didn't seem to realize that tickets went on sale at the Dome and at more than 80 other locations in Indiana and Kentucky. Some Ticketmaster locations also saw hundreds of fans line up for the chance to purchase tickets.

-- On the plus side, you're still from Bob Ross headquarters.

   Sadly, the Colts Blue Brothers do not have their own Web site. Though they're apparently active on the twins circuit and the youth brainwashing front. Though both beat the hell out of the fat ass who paints the Red Sox logo on his pregnancy bulge.

   The one-blue, one-white shoe is my favorite touch, by the way. You could miss it on a cursory glance.

January 14, 2007 - For The People
   I Never Reach The Bottom of the Barrel: The "Mission: Impossible" cover to Sunday's sports section received near universal praise, some coming from corners that I don't usually expect to get praise from. We did, however, get a phone call from a Patriots fan in Whale City who, and I'm paraphrasing, didn't feel a "Patriots paper" should be saying that beating the Chargers was "impossible."

   And technically it's two phone calls, since he both left a message on Josh the Sports Editor's voice mail, then called again to make sure the message got through.

   He's apparently not familiar the significance of the question mark, thus making the headline not a declarative statement, but a query which our Patriots writers would flesh out with their writing.

   Regardless sir, I then spent the next hour wondering whether I'd added too much to the question mark, thus invalidating it's punctuating capabilities.

   Anyone who goes by "Squeak" deserves that much, don't they?

   • I'll be honest ... I have no idea what the hell to say about Patriots 24, Chargers 21. There are people who are going to say it was the greatest game of this postseason to this point, and I'm not even sure it was the greatest game of the weekend ... seven turnovers are seven turnovers. People thought the Pats had to play flawless to win, yet a C- performance that surged at the end was enough.

   I'm reasonably certain CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? once is not the proper response, and I'm damn well positive it's not the proper response FOUR TIMES, EACH ONE ALL IN CAPS BECAUSE IT ADDS EMPHASIS. I think winning three Super Bowls in five years means that YES, I CAN BELIEVE IT.

   As such, here's some photos of fans. I love fans. Especially since many of them scare me, and seeing pictures means I don't have to listen to them during the games.

Crying Ravens Fan
-- It's honestly rare to actually a full-on crying fan photo.
At least of someone over the age of 10.

Baltimore fan Lisa Scheuerman cries in the stands after the AFC divisional playoff football game in Baltimore on Saturday. The Baltimore Ravens were defeated by the Indianapolis Colts, 15-6. (AP Photo/Chris Gardner)

Fleur de Fan
-- The fleur de lis doubles as a funny moustache.

New Orleans Saints fan Ben Todd grimaces as he watches the AFC divisional playoff football game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Indianapolis Colts prior to the start of NFC divisional playoff game between the Saints and the Philadelphia Eagles at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans on Saturday. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)

Fleur de Fan 2
-- See?

New Orleans Saints fan Vicky Vilcan, of New Orleans, wears a painted face prior to the start of NFC divisional playoff game against the Philadelphia Eages at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans on Saturday. (AP Photo/Rob Carr)

   The shame in this is that I can't find any pictures of Rosie, my only tangible connection to New Orleans that doesn't involve Julie telling me how she and her friends ended up in that strip club that one night.

   You would think I would know the actual details of the story by now, but all I can remember is that her friend that lives down there is a massage therapist and in some way works at a job related to a casino and poker.

   It's all a blur. I like New England. And every time the Patriots play a playoff game, I'm reminded that I do actually like the Patriots, and that if they and the Giants faced off in the Super Bowl, it would either result in the greatest column I've ever written or the worst column I've ever written.

   Never mind the people who wouldn't find me wearing my Giants hat and my corduroy Patriots baseball jersey, and cheering for every play, half as funny as I would.

January 13, 2007 - Seriously. Lotusland.
   Please Stop Talking: Though technically, the Boston Globe and their subsidiary Web site weren't speaking this out loud.

'Cosmopolitan of our enlightened Northeast.'
-- Lotusland? Like the spreadsheet program that first captured my imagination?

   I'm not linking to any stories, because I didn't give even a moment's thought to reading this one. In short, Ticketmaster was only allowing sales this week to the Patriots-Chargers playoff game to credit cards with Southern California billing addresses -- the threat was they reserved the right to cancel any order that fell outside that window. Obviously, it was an attempt to fill Qualcomm Stadium with Chargers fans.

   Lame, but it's their stadium, their tickets and their hands turning the money of New Englanders away. Bitching about it seems like a ploy best left for the Boston Herald, but apparently, the Globe's plummeting circulation numbers make reaching for the lowest common denominator seem like their best strategy.

   The only good that can come out of this? The stadium doesn't sell out, and the game is blacked out on local television. I'm not 100 percent sure that can happen in the playoffs, but it's the NFL ... I'd be shocked if it couldn't.

   BU 6-5, BU, 3-0: Perhaps sensing that my diatribe got me so caught up, I forgot about Friday's night "had 'em all the way" win in Maine, the alma mater had the common decency to give me another shot.

   Amazing how coworkers will blissfully let me watch college hockey without a peep when BU's winning 6-2, but suddenly at 6-5, their in rapt attention and being sure I'm aware my team is "Bruinsing" the game.

   It is apparently now a verb, though I'm more disappointed than angry about what's happening. Plenty of time to still sneak into the playoffs.

   As for the Terriers, my first BU-BC game in the new building is less than two weeks away. Taking four points in Maine means it's no longer looming, but lingering, as in "I wish it wasn't lingering in the future, I wish it was here right now." Sweeping the No. 2 team in the country in their building is just the sort of thing which will end with me in Worcester at my first NCAA regional.

   Every time Matty Cooch goes to one, he buys a T-shirt, which made for a lot of fun last year.

Rhett plays dead.
-- "Hey, look everyone! Rhett's showing us he can play dead!"

   I've seen enough that I think I'd at least wait until seeing whether I'd ever want to wear it again.

   • Consecutive Day 6 on the desk has left me more or less unaware of the delineations between days ... I'm reasonably certain I've been laying out pages about the Chargers for a month. Regardless, at least I went out with a bang.

S-T, 1/14/07
-- Both figuratively and literally.

   It should be noted that under the loosest definitions, my going in after Sunday's Patriots game to serve as support, plus working the first three days of next week, means it'll technically be 10 consecutive days working. I'm on the fence about it, since I don't think Guinness would buy it.

   Then again, I'm currently working on a story about a man who has run every day for something like 25 consecutive years ... later this month, the streak will have lasted for half his life. I have to figure there's at least a hint of creative accounting in there somewhere.

January 12, 2007 - For The Kids
   Heartwarming: In digging around College Humor for yesterday's update, I noticed things were a lot tamer than I remembered. There were far fewer drunk photos ... probably a result of them opening a full-on R-rated section that requires registration, but who knows.

   And then I found the video Passed Out Guy Lit on Fire.

We just put lacquer thinner on his stomach and then poured it onto his hand. That way, when we lit the stomach on fire and he tried to put it out it would catch on his hand.

I have pictures of the scars it left on his side, he was not a happy camper for the next few weeks. His shirt would stick to the wound and everyday he kept making it worse just by getting dressed. But everything is all good now. He gets good laughs out of the whole thing and has a badass scar he can show off.

   I think I'd be selling it short to say "there are no words." It's just most of them are expletives.

   Yeah, I lived a pretty tame childhood, but at what point does it seem like a good idea to set a friend on fucking fire? Not only that, but at what point do you move on to the "good laughs" portion? "Well, I guess I deserved it. I did drink a lot of alcohol!"

   Does no one else have parents anymore? Not from a punishment standpoint ... doesn't Mr. Flame ever go home? What happens if they see him with his shirt off? Pool, getting out of the shower, anything.

Mom or Dad: Jesus, Billy. That scar looks awful. What the hell happened?
Billy: Nothing. Just a little burn.
Mom or Dad: That looks pretty bad for a cooking injury.
Billy: No ... I wasn't cooking. It was just, nothing.
Mom or Dad: Come on, Billy. That's not nothing. What the hell happened?
Billy: It's just ... well, one night I was drinking, and I passed out ...

-- And that's how we arrive in Lawsuit Land.

   At least there are still some people who get what it's all about. Even if the ones I knew like this never actually had the technological equipment to complete the job.

   And For Good Measure: UMass riots. Sadly, Julie's father was nowhere near campus that night. Though on second thought, I probably could have lived without the 2004 World Series story of the kid who broke both his legs jumping off a roof.

   That's our state university!

   • I think what warms my heart the most about all this stuff, and this happens with pretty much every high school scandal we come across, is that everyone always records it. They always take pictures. They always take videos. But more than that, they always post them on the Internet.

   From time to time in the office, I'll try using a Google to check a spelling on some high school player's name, and I'll end up on MySpace. It's absurd ... and God forbid we ever cite anything in a story there, because we've apparently broken this "code of silence" that MySpace is a fantasy world where nothing actually matters.

   "I don't actually want to kill my mother! I just wrote it on my MySpace!"

   In an alternate universe, I'm teaching computers at a suburban high school -- with a little training focused toward said job, I could clearly do it. On either the first day or last day of class, I go around the room calling roll, and after everyone's name, I throw in something I'd learned about them on MySpace in the run-up to that day. "Tommy Bithcorn ... oh, hey Tommy. So, did that infection from your homemade nipple piercing ever clear up? That looked pretty nasty. You really should have gone to a professional, or at least heated up that safety pin a little bit first."

   I have no doubt I'd find something on at least 75 percent of the students. And it would be a tremndous lesson.

Embarrassing Internet stuff.
-- Be careful what you post on the Internet, because it's there forever.
Though the 'office photos ending up on 'Sports Pulse'' era is likely over.

January 11, 2007 - Bad Grooming
   Worth Noting is All: Bronson Arroyo, perhaps your sweetheart, will be in Boston on Sunday performing at the Roxy.

Any thoughts on Dice-K-mania? Do you believe the hype?

I tell you what, I think (Daisuke Matsuzaka is) a damn good pitcher, just from seeing his stuff. But you never know how people are going to pan out in the American League East. I can tell you from playing on the Japanese All-Star tour, that the teams he was facing weren't even close to the Blue Jays, the Yankees or the Orioles. Who knows what kind of year he'll have, but I definitely think he has legitimate stuff.

   It's not as though no one's mentioned that before. It just reminded me that as ready as I was to see him traded elsewhere, he was the antithesis of Johnny Damon -- Arroyo would talk about anything, but you never walked away thinking to yourself, "Wow. That was a complete waste of my time."

   There's just never enough of those guys.

   Oh, The Things They Don't Know: I've mentioned in the past enjoying the New York Times stories written in such a way that they appear to be teaching Westchester County shut-ins about the popular things in the world around them. For example, fantasy sports being described as having nothing to do with unicorns.

   This story isn't a Times piece, and it certainly isn't lighthearted, but I think it qualifies.

HOUSTON -- The body of an 18-year-old fraternity pledge who died of alcohol poisoning was defaced with numerous anti-gay epithets and obscene drawings, according a medical examiner's report.

Phanta "Jack" Phoummarath, a freshman at the University of Texas at Austin, died after ingesting large amounts of alcohol at a pledge party at Lambda Phi Epsilon house in December 2005, authorities said. Phoumarrath's body was found the day after.

A grand jury indicted three members of the fraternity last month on hazing charges following a yearlong investigation into Phoummarath's death.

The Travis County medical examiner's office reported that partygoers used green and black markers to write "FAG," "I'm gay" and "I AM FAT" on Phoummarath's head, face, torso, legs and feet. Someone also added drawings depicting naked men and women and blackened his toenails.

"It was disgusting and despicable behavior," said Houston attorney Randy Sorrels, who is representing Phoummarath's family. "This would be the juvenile behavior you might see in junior high or high school, but not college."

   Um, Mr. Sorrels, sir? If I just get your attention for a moment, and direct you over here ... I think there's some things you need to see.

-- No. Keep digging.

Mall Santa
-- Closer, but you're not quite there.

Big winner!
-- There you go! Big winner! Good luck with the case.

   I can only hope he doesn't keep going, lest he find out his daughter is both scantily clad and making out with other girls while drunk. That's just what the odds are.

   • It's increasingly official ... the 2007 Spring Training trip will run from Feb. 27 to Mar. 15 in lovely Florida. It's been designed in such a way that I won't have to cross the state once, meaning it's likely I'll avoid driving 40 miles off course again.

   Oh, and if Julie's work with special needs children qualifies as God's work, where can we put New England's pre-eminent nit-picker?

January 10, 2007 - Stumbling Across A Shtick
   Pre-emptive Call of A Bad Ending: I'm just saying ... Briny Breezes Residents To Become Millionaires.

BRINY BREEZES, (Fla.) - Residents of this beachfront mobile home park municipality, long a defiant remnant of a rapidly vanishing Florida, have voted to end all that, surrendering to the parade of progress and the allure of a half-billion dollars.

At a shareholders meeting, the town announced that 82 percent of the shareholders had voted to approve the sale to a Boca Raton-based developer for a whopping $510 million.

The vote made many of the 488 property owners millionaires, but they will not see that money for several years.

   I like how the lede is written ... surrendering to the parade of progress and the allure of a half-billion dollars. It could almost be construed that agreeing to sell your MOBILE HOME LOT FOR, LIKE, A MILLION DOLLARS is something bad.

   Maybe that's just because I could live off a million dollars for a very, very, very long time. But really ... I'm reminded of The Simpsons and Homer's passion for peanuts.

Homer: Aw, (a million dollars)! I wanted (ocean-front property)!
Homer's Brain: (A million dollars) can buy many (things, including ocean-front property)!
Homer: Explain how!
Homer's Brain: Money can be exchanged for goods and services!
Homer: Woo-hoo!

   Still, let me make clear:

Briny Breezes $800,000-aire
-- This guy as an $800,000aire? Ending poorly.

   Ask Dr. Phil. I bet he agrees with me ... unless that show he did is a pack of lies.

   • Apparently, if his own words are to be believed, ESPN's Bill Simmons will be doing color commentary on two ESPNU college basketball games later this month. This appears to confirm it, but I'm not digging much deeper.

   I've you're never heard the man speak, I can not implore you enough ... get yourself to a television. I don't care what he's calling. Listen. Understand. There could not possibly be a worse candidate to speak on television for multiple hours than Bill Simmons.

   And that's before you even consider that he'll probably be on par with the average "Hey, I won a contest and I get to call an inning!" contestant, plus his actual persona often ends up among the 10 most annoying people who have even become popular writers.

   I'm going back and forth as to whether it's a good or bad thing that I got rid of digital cable, thus preventing me from seeing this bus crash of an event. I just don't see how he gets to the second game.

   And while you're there, note the following about the Red Sox:

Jimmy (Arlington, Va.): How do you think Papelbon will do in the starting role? And your thoughts on Joel Pineiro (1 year, $4 million, coming off a 6.36 ERA, .311 BAA year) ... worst offseason acquisition ever, or clever ploy to get Papi the MVP by forcing him to hit 30 walkoffs -- one for each blown save?

Bill Simmons: I'm fine with Paps but was confused by the Piniero signing -- we're heading into the season with Pedroia (who looked truly terrible last September) playing 2B because we want to save money at one of the nine positions -- seriously, that's the reason -- but we're going to pay a long reliever $4 million? How does that make sense?

   Note how "seriously, that's the reason" conveys to a national audience that Bill is "tied in," and that that's fact. I can see how the signing would appear confusing if you've convinced yourself that that's fact.

   Course, it isn't fact. Seriously. It's nowhere near fact, as evidenced by the team refusing Mark Loretta's half-serious offer to stay with the Red Sox in 2007 for $1 million. Here's a link to back up that statement ... note how Simmons' doesn't have one.

   Pedroia's here because Theo's convinced he's the answer at second base. I know Bill gets millions more reads a day than I do, but you're just going to have to believe me.

   After all, I actually got to be a newspaper sportswriter. Unlike some people.

January 9, 2007 - Stealing
   Caltech 81, Bard College 52 (Saturday): That's great that Caltech won their first NCAA college basketball game since 1996 ... what a fun moment for the sportswriters at the Caltech college paper.

Caltech Men's Basketball won for the first time since Nov. 22, 2004 and ended a 59-game losing streak, rolling past Bard 81-52. The Beavers had been outscored by an average of 36 points in their first 10 games this season after taking a game to overtime in 2005-06.
-- Congrats on that.

   What is it about mathematically inclined schools naming their athletic teams the Beavers? Do they really think it's that funny? Is it the only way they can increase merchandise sales? MIT does it, too ... we've got a trend brewing.

   Perhaps more interesting, the athletics recruiting form has a spot on it asking for the details of your high school athletic experience. Sounds as though that's really critical to making the basketball team.

History Again Muddies Hall Call
-- As I was saying at work, I'm pretty sure every two months, I write at least one story/column based around calling a peer an idiot. This should serve me well in the future.

   I'm a little disappointed I couldn't find any old columns by anyone who legitimately didn't vote for Ripken or Tony Gwynn, especially if they've voted for Bruce Sutter, Kirby Puckett or any of the other questionable Hall of Famers of years past.

   Seems I've never heard of all the writers who've been identified as doing do. What a shock.

   • Some people dislike going to the dentist, or getting a haircut, or doing laundry.

   I'm curious how those people would feel about doing all three in a row, within a three-hour window.

   Tha laundromat near the apartment has two "commercial dryers," literally seven-foot tall behemoths that I could ride around in a la Beavis and Butthead. I can't fathom who would need such machines in Whale City, USA, but it's nice to know they're there.

   They and the iRiver have made Judge Joe Brown almost obsolete. Sad, but probably for the best.

January 8, 2007 - A Classic Not To Watch
   Want Your Kids To Grow Up To Be Me?: Then head on down to Home of the Underdogs and download them the games a pre-Nintendo Cooch cut his teeth on via the family's AT&T/IBM compatible back in the late '80s -- Mean 18, the keyboard-smashing Microsoft Decathlon and the coup de grace, Friendlyware.

   The last of which was basically IBM's way of showing a frightened, late-'80s world that computers weren't actually all that difficult. They did so with ASCII games that only now am I realizing probably contributed to my delinquency -- Nevada Dice is a scaled-down craps game, plus Blackjack and Match, which I'd have to rank in my personal top 10 for reasons I don't fully understand.

   Course, if you ever forget just how far personal computers have come in 20-25 years, watch how fast these things run now ... most to the point of unusability. But just think ... 20 years from now, today's toddlers will be pining like this for the likes of Leap Frog.

   I'm sorry. I win. You haven't lived until you make an eagle on an ASCII golf hole, on a computer sitting on the dryer in the downstairs bathroom.

   • Not shown: the original DOS version of Hardball and Where in the USA is Carmen Sandiego, which somehow didn't catch my eye until the teen years.

   Shown instead is America's fascination with wigs, thanks to our friends at The Associated Press.

BCS Title Game: The Wigs

BCS Title Game: The Wigs

BCS Title Game: The Wigs

BCS Title Game: The Wigs

   They just had to show a sad Ohio State child at the end. Couldn't just leave it at Eddie George, looking like he was just starting to consider, "Wow, this a-hole is starting to piss me off" in regards to Emmitt Smith waving a Florida championship shirt at him.

   Though on the plus side, his next proximity to Glendale, Ariz., meant Nick could have stood outside the press gate waiting to cut Thom Brenneman's Achilles tendons.

January 7, 2007 - Good Game, Guys
   VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the '80s: It would strike me that such a list -- there's four other parts, but I can't be bothered -- should have a Top 10 where I've heard of all the songs. Born in 1980, I'm not exactly the target demographic, but we did have a radio out by the pool that played for pretty much the entirety of my youth out there. I know a lot of songs.

   And yet "I Can't Go For That" by Hall and Oates is No. 6. Never once in my life heard it. Julie thinks I'm full of it, but it's a true story.

   Even with that said, this was a fine way to ignore much of what was going on in Philadelphia this evening. But we'll get to that soon enough. I'm still trying to figure out this show, and how it's creation means I'm more or less on deck to be on TV. A celebrity made by being on a show about a celebrity, who only returned to being a celebrity by getting a show after being on a show designed for people who aren't celebrities anymore.

   As a wise redneck once said, that's like fourth generation I don't give a (fudge).

   'Dickesode' (2): Speaking of more TV to ease the burns, does Guinness keep records of the number of times phallus has been referenced in a 15-minute TV block? Because if so, we have a new champion ... as of whenever this first aired.

The word "dick" is said 53 times. In the credits, everyone's first name is replaced with "Dick".
-- I think 'Titanic' would have been much more enjoyable for the 1997 version of me if it had featured said word 687 times in its 194 minutes.

   Just know what you're in for. I don't want to hear later about it being 'lowbrow' ... you were warned.

   At least now I can accept why Julie hates 'Aqua Teen Hunger Force.'

   • I had it all planned out. Patriots victory picture, plus sign, Giants victory picture, equals sign, a photo of me during the games with my Phil Simms jersey and Dr. Seuss hat on, plus a string of cheese from our DiGiorno pizza hanging from my mouth.

   Screw it. I refuse to even try. The whole game, it was clear they probably weren't winning, but that still doesn't make it any less annoying.

   On top of that, crappy work schedule. Awesome times. Even I don't want to listen to me whine about it.

January 6, 2007 - Psyche Up
   BU 0, Northeastern 0: Missed it by that much.

   Thank God. For $22 a game, these things are important.

   • Pats and Giants both win on Sunday. Book it.

   Always the best thing to be doing when you miss against the spread on both Saturday games. Especially when your cohabitator both completely decorated and completely disassembled the apartment for the holidays without a whit of my help.

   Bear in mind that I do have a vested interest in this. Though I won't be traveling to San Diego no matter what happens, a Patriots win means I have Thursday and Sunday off next week. A loss? The always-preferred Friday and Saturday, since I won't be needed to lay out of pregame preview package.

   Yes, I'm torn. But what can you do if there's no promise a possible trip to the San Diego Zoo?

The Anthem

BU 5 - 1 Providence
Come on. Someone must have missed these!

@ Prov. - 1/5/07
2 (8)
3 (8)
0 (5)
5 (21)
0 (8)
0 (11)
1 (12)
1 (31)

Read the recap on Hockey East Online.

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

   • Having now seen the 2006-07 Terriers thrice, with them a tie-free 3-0 in those games, the hockey write-up returns. Especially since this was a special night ... not only my first trip to Providence's Schneider Arena, meaning I've now hit half the league, but Jack Parker's 750th career coaching victory.

   In short, Schneider is an effective little building. No real atmosphere to speak of, no real unique quirks that make it stand out from the crowd, but all good seats and sightlines. It does, however, have the UMass favorite "Chuck-A-Puck," where you buy foam pucks and, during the second intermission, try to throw them as close you can to the center-ice spot.

   Matty Cooch came in second. Both of mine were roughly equidistant from the blue lines ... on the bad side. Julie hit the hanging Hockey East banner and didn't reach the rink.

   Sadly, you'll just have to take my word for it.

Chuck Pucks
-- Sort of a crotch photo, but not.

   As for the game, a Providence College police officer stopped me on the concouse during the second intermission. I can't quote exactly what he said, but it was something to the effect of "Jesus! You guys are beating the bag out of us! Do you do this, like, all the time?"

   I was taken aback for a moment, because really, it's not often when your just walking and you notice a police officer is staring at you and talking to you. I hope I was helpful.

   Not that I could have been as helpful as the Friars themselves, given they pulled perhaps the most absurd thing I've ever seen. Down 3-0 with 14 minutes to go in the second, they got their first power play of the night. They then pulled their goalie for a 6-on-4 advantage, which is I think the second time I've seen that ever -- Maine, down a goal, did it in the final moments against Denver in the 2004 title game.

   Empty netter, 4-0, over. That, plus two awful giveaways in front of their own net booked the night, even if the Friars did break the shutout in the final minute.

   Not exactly a festive, or full, crowd anyway. The concession stand was a mess because they had only one of three registers open ... probably a good idea right up until the BU fan bus rolled in. There was a quartet of old guys who rolled in for the start of the second period, said they were going to leave five minutes later on the empty-net goal, then actually did midway through the third. As far as I can tell, Providence doesn't actually have a student section of the arena, though a friend I ran into told me when they are there, they like to swear at opposing fans.

   Also, the band apparently no-showed. Not sure how that works.

Naked Kids?
-- Or how I keep ending up sitting near
the children who paint their chests "BU!!"

   Regardless, the alma mater is solidly in the glut of teams vying for the title of "Best Team That Isn't New Hampshire." John Curry is having a Sean Fields-like year, but with an offense and defense that doesn't mean he has to win games where the team is outshot 58-15.

   Those were fun, but in a "glad they're not happening anymore" since.

   See you Jan. 26 ... BU-BC. Prepare for videos.

BU-Providence, 1/5/07     BU-Providence, 1/5/07

BU-Providence, 1/5/07     BU-Providence, 1/5/07

BU-Providence, 1/5/07

January 5, 2007 - Worth Going Crazy?
   Oh Noes!: Given Gatehouse Media now more or less owns every paper around my fishwrap and our 'friends' at the Cape Cod Times, this makes me smile.

Just as GateHouse Media Inc. continues to snatch up papers, word is filtering into Shots about just how ugly the takeovers are becoming locally. The daily papers appear to be those most immediately affected by last year's purchase of the Community Newspaper group from the Boston Herald (and other local broadsheets and tabs that were scoffed up).

It would seem that the GateHouse Way is tightly tied to the bottom line and the worker bees are starting to stir.

We've previously chronicled how the regular, nightly sports editors must now dedicate an extra hour of time to posting all the print edition's stories to the web (at the end of what are already 12 hour-plus days for many of the editors/writers). Now, further news of deeper cuts, cost-saving and employee-disrespecting are coming to light.

Some of the papers and associated websites feeling the weight of the GateHouse door, include: The Enterprise (in Brockton), the Daily News Transcript in Framingham, The MetroWest Daily News, also in Framingham, The Milford Daily News, The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, and the Daily News Tribune in Waltham.

   Yeah, because we don't have to at least start the Webbing process ourselves at the end of every shift. Admittedly, it's been made easier and easier as time has gone by, but it's not like we've got collegians we keep in the basement to worry about that stuff.

   Is it really that hard for people to understand that small papers have to do everything themselves? And that typically, we're kind of at peace with the whole idea?

   I suppose it'd be too much to ask for a media writer to write as though that wasn't shocking news to him.

   Big Brain: I take great joy in having heard of more than half of Japan's top 20 sports stories of the year. Same with these in the Wall Street Journal, though that's less impressive.

   That's it. Moving on.

   • Tonight, I had perhaps the most frightening pizza I've ever seen constructed. It's served at the Trinity Brewhouse in Providence, which is nice, since they have enough different beers to make you lost grasp of your judgment.

12" PIZZA -- From $8.95 Up
Carnivore Pizza Special

With sausage, Buffalo chicken, pepperoni, and bacon
with our pizza sauce and 5 cheeses.

   It's hard to fully understand what you're looking at until you're actually looking at it. I've never struggled so hard to eat half a pizza, even counting the time we ordered all 20-something toppings on a pie freshman year at the old pizza place in Kenmore Square. I'm not even sure how the guy delivered it without the box collapsing.

   I believe asparagus was somehow involved. Pretty sure that's never been seen again.

   I had at least three demented dreams after eating said pizza. The first one, there was someone on fire, then some kids trying to hurt me. I got shot after a traffic accident in another, and ended up in jail when the person my buddy hit in a road-rage incident flew into a tractor trailer.

   It was good, but I don't know if it was freaky-dream good. That's a whole other level of acceptance. In-N-Out Burger, especially not having it all the time? That's demeted dream good.

January 4, 2007 - Ticket Owner
   It Pains Me To Enjoy This: Peter Karmanos is the only owner in sports who announced he was moving his team ... before he actually knew where they were moving.

   Still, a cartoon of Ric Flair easily glosses over all the problems with the actual Ric Flair.

   • I don't know anyone on the Hornell Dodgers, and I appear to only know a handful of people who have ever been on the Hornell Dodgers.

   That, however, does not change the fact that I am now among their season ticket holders. An honor which, I presume, allows me to choose whatever color bench I'd like to sit on. And it looks as though they're close enough to a high school football field that I could go kick field goals should any of their games go the way of the Bruins tonight.

   Nine unanswered goals. Never has flipping the channel, and coming back to find you missed two goals, seemed so insignificant.

   Bear in mind, this was not the only gift I received in the mail today. My mother, who was cleaning out the old toy closet downstairs, found "Batter Up!" It's a baseball book I wrote ... in June, 1990, at the end of my time in the fourth grade.

Batter Up!
-- And here, for years, I've said I could never write a book.

   I can't bring myself to read it, if only I'm sure it's ghastly awful. Julie snagged it off the table when she came home from school, and got exactly the enjoyment out of it I'm sure my mother intended.

   Apparently, I made up half the character names and took the other half from classmates. Plus, the page numbers are written on little baseballs.

   Even back then, design was hugely important.

   Thanks to all involved for everything. Even if a trip to use my season pass would have to be wrapped around ... I can't even fathom why I'd be near here. Lost on the way to Niagara Falls? The high road to Pittsburgh? Aiming to get my picture taken with a Mountie?

   Suggestions welcome. As are other season passes to things for people trying to keep up with the Slys.

January 3, 2007 - Together, You Can
   Eight Hours of My Life: I always forget how long recapping the year takes. Nowhere near as long as the year actually takes, but considering I actually have to read every update, plus correct the most grotesque of the spelling errors ... 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. never felt less productive. Why do Julie and I work? Because she left the apartment at least twice -- first for the second half of the school day, then for an afternoon doctor's appointment -- only to come back to me being in the exact same place she was when she left.

   Hey, did anyone else feel that? I could have sworn I just felt Meg get a swollen sense of righteousness, but I suppose it also could have been a small fart escaping into the computer chair.

   Regardless, it's picture-heavy this year. If you haven't yet, I'm sure you could get through in at least 45 excruciating minutes.

   Did Someone Say Excruciating?: In a move more shocking since I'd kind of forgotten about it -- Fox has started promoting other shows during their football lineup -- 'The O.C.' is a dead show walking.

"The O.C.," the once-hot teenage soap opera that saw its ratings plummet like a delinquent student's grades, has been canceled. The final episode of the drama will air 9 p.m. EST Thursday, Feb. 22, Fox TV and Warner Bros. Television Production Inc. said Wednesday.

The finale "will deliver real closure to the series, to the story we began telling four years ago," series creator Josh Schwartz said in a statement. "It will be fun and emotional and I think really satisfying. It is the finale we always planned to do."

. . .

"The O.C." didn't sustain its momentum, dropping to about 7 million weekly viewers during 2004-05 and then to fewer than 6 million last season. This year, returning in November after Fox wrapped its postseason baseball coverage, "The O.C." has only drawn about 4 million viewers.

Observers have pointed to a variety of possible reasons for the slump, including inconsistent quality, the fickleness of younger viewers and a time-slot change.

   As a former observer turned non-observer, how about because the show went from being funny awful to just plain old awful? To me, 'The O.C.' only worked because it felt like it was somehow a joke. On one level, it was painting a picture for the audience, but it was a picture that a whole other level could just laugh at because ... well, it's hard to explain. I think part of the problem is it's hard to pin down what makes something funny awful versus just awful.

   Course, it's been a long time since I was anyone target demographic. As far as I can tell, 'Deal or No Deal' hasn't changed a single thing, and the last time I watched an hour of that feels like a million years ago. Kind of like my recollection of Benjamin McKenzie's stirring 2004 speech to go out and vote ... which, if I remember right, he was giving to himself since he'd never actually voted.

   Kids really are pretty stupid, aren't we/they?

   • Politics is never exactly a front-and-center topic for me for the same reason I stopped trying to write Celtics columns -- I hate it, and the best way to not sound like an idiot is to accept hate makes me unwilling to learn.

   However, tonight was one of those "Hey, this is kind of cool" moments in Massachusetts, because it was the night of The Lone Walk, which I had thought was called "The Long Walk" and might actually be, no matter what Channel 7 says.

   For 200 or so years, the departing governor makes said walk, rich in pomp, circumstance and the sort of personal twists that give people who hate said governor fodder to bitch for months to come. Mitt Romney, the most beautiful governor Massachusetts has had in my lifetime, made his walk tonight, with Deval Patrick's outdoor inauguration set for mid-day on Thursday. I'd have missed it completely had Julie not turned the TV on, but I'm glad I saw it. Romney's campaign bumper sticker, the one that I'm pretty sure got my car keyed either at the Holyoke Mall or the Agawam Friendly's -- I can't remember which -- is still taped to one of my kitchen cabinets.

   Now that I think about it, I'm a little surprised Julie didn't just take it down and hope I didn't notice, but I suppose she's too good a person for that. Or she hadn't thought of it ... which now won't be an issue, thank goodness. I'm on a roll today.

   I know just enough about politics to know that I like Mitt Romney, which I suppose is what people always say about prospective presidential candidates. They wouldn't even be prospective otherwise. That I'm far better off today than I was four years ago has so little to do with Romney, it's laughable. Four years ago, I was a couple months away from starting my job search, living in an awesome on-campus apartment I couldn't even begin to think about paying for. My thoughts were never really dominated with the idea that I'd have to bow my head and move back home, but it was clearly on my mind.

   Today, by my estimation, I have as reasonably secure a job as one can have in this field. The apartment is an apartment, but it's not like I feel I'd be much better off rushing into buying a condo on some haphazard belief I'm throwing money in the toilet. I feel like I'm one disaster away from financial ruin, but really, I'm probably a solid two, two and a half disasters from that -- granted, Matt living at home has probably sucked up a lot of the "ask parents for money" favors I've never cashed outside of college tuition, but it's not like I can just trade them for a house at my earliest convenience.

   Will Deval Patrick screw this all up? It'd be pretty hard to fathom, even if the days of getting a $1,500 tax refund are gone for a while -- it's been a couple years anyway, come to think of it. Really, it all comes back to my selfish, overly simplistic, current view on these things -- when you're single, aren't in school and don't really own anything, the things that can really futz up your life are more or less of your own doing.

   So what's the point of all this?

Bye, Mitt.
-- I'll miss his musk is all.

   I'm just glad I couldn't find that shirtless picture of him that I think the AP moved during the campaign back then ... he was water skiing or something. Definitely not the way to start the new year.

January 2, 2007 - Part Two

Don't Make Boise's Run About Missing OSU Matchup
-- Dinner always tastes better after a good column. Even if dinner is me getting tea instead of Diet Coke and realizing I don't really like duck.

   You wouldn't think you could eat that well at a regional airport, but fortunately, it's a regional airport that has a lot of rich people skipping to the Cape and Islands on their private planes.

   It is always fun, though, to tell people who don't know that you're taking them to dinner at the airport.

   • Second verse, six months later than the first.

We watched the first half at the apartment, then in the time it took to drive a very small distance, David Beckham left with an injury and Wayne Rooney decided stepping on another player's balls, then pushing someone else in front of the ref, was cool.
-- Portugal-England, World Cup Quarterfinal (7/1)

Final table leader?!
-- The highlight of my poker career. Shockingly, I didn't win. (7/4)

Sadly, my initial understanding of the BK Stacker -- for which I just saw the midget-laden commercial for the first time -- was incorrect. You cannot simply go into a Burger King and order as many patties and slices of cheese on the thing as you want. They limit you to four. I would have to suspect this is a move made by lawyers, who calculated that consuming that much mediocre ground beef wouldn't cause anyone to die until they were actually off the property.
-- Meat and cheese. Meat. And Cheese. (7/8)

Among the other drivers unhappy about this was a younger woman in a silver Jaguar. Driving behind me, she thought it wise to throw on a blinker and pull around me as I began to slow at the merge, then became enraged when a well-worn pickup truck did the same thing to her just after the merge. Expressing that anger, she flipped off said truck, honked, then tailgated the guy past the point where I could see them. Apparently, they are not teaching this most valuable lesson at Jaguar dealerships: Don't flip off and tailgate shitty cars unless you want your Jaguar to, some day, look more like a well-worn pickup truck.
-- She's ugly on the inside. (7/14)

Oh my God! It's their fault I have a gambling problem! They make it too easy to be frivolous! Please, someone help me! I can't stop myself from doing stupid things! Won't the government help protect me from myself?!
-- Oddly enough, when the government did, I mentally thanked them. (7/15)

During The Anthem
-- I return to my roots as a Red Sox fan. (7/17)

So as the game began, I was generally bummed out. Knowing nobody else around here had written the Redman story, I was excited to tell it, and tie it in to a wider question about what it's like to be a Kansas City Royal in 2006. When it blew up in my face, I was left to just rehash what I'd done wrong -- I'm continuously working on my mediocre-to-poor interviewing skills -- and wonder what exactly I would write about. The headline says it all: Lester allows just one hit.
-- Perhaps my best column of the year.
Thanks again for being an ass, Mark Redman. (7/18)

And ties!
-- International friendlies are not must-see soccer. (7/19)

1) Cover corn in mayonnaise.
2) Dust mayo-covered corn with parmesan cheese.
3) Dust mayo-cheese corn with chile powder.
4) Sprinkle whole thing with salt.
5) Wrap ear in foil, cook for 20 minutes on grill.
6) Unwrap, spritz with spray butter and eat.
-- The moment I decided I hated Food Network's Paula Deen. (7/23)

"Tim Salmon is a big fan of crossing his legs at dinner!!!"
"Tim Salmon loves 'Sleepless in Seattle'!!!"
"Tim Salmon eats Haagen Dazs and cuts his toenails!!"
"Tim Salmon is a big fan of Tinkerbell!"
"Tim Salmon drives a minivan!!! Tim Salmon is a soccer mom!!!"
-- My favorite fan taunts, ever. (7/28)

I really, really, really hope that Mr. Verduzco did not actually say the inclusion of a sausage with some ties to his heritage in a promotional event during a baseball game is what finally makes him feel like a resident of the state where he lives.
-- Chorizo's debut in the Milwaukee sausage race. (7/30)

Subject: Moving Up In The World
Date: Wed 2 Aug 2006
From: Josh
To: Everyone Who Should Care


   As you all know, we've been without an assistant sports editor since Steve went over to news in February or March. As some of you know, I've been working to fill the opening.

   Please join me in congratulating Jon 'Elmo' Couture in becoming the assistant sports editor.

   His exact job responsibilities are still not set in stone. One thing we do know is he will [ CAREFULLY EDITED OUT BY THE ESTABLISHMENT, AS TO KEEP COMPANY SECRETS SAFELY CONCEALED UNDER THAT WEB POLICY I REMINDED THEM THEY NEEDED TO CREATE ]. And needless to say, when I'm not around, and he is, he'll make the decisions that have to be made.

   I am sure he is ready for the additional challenge and (will) continue to do a good job covering the Red Sox.
-- My rise to No. 2 (8/2)

The whole thing was broadcast on ESPN. Somehow, I've never gotten into watching these things unfold on television. Perhaps it's because in live, moving color, eating contests aren't all high comedy and intrigue. It's a lot more distended stomachs, drooling and The Violent Femmes. Somehow, I don't think that's the first time all those things shared space in one sentence. And that's not even considering one of their opening acts, Uncle Meat and the Sausage Tossers.
-- Coverage of the World Bratwurst Eating Championships (8/6)

Between these two videos, I'm now angrier than ever
that the Edmonton Oilers didn't win the Stanley Cup.
-- YouTube's two greatest moments. (8/6)

As I round the corner and head toward Best Buy, outside of which my car is parked, the girl with the pink hair looks at me and says, "Hey! Hey! You dropped something back there!" As someone who's had a problem with my wallet falling out of my shorts, along with generally being a bit goofy, I'm concerned. Could be anything. So I look back, only to see nothing. As I'm turning back forward, confused, Pink lets me know what I dropped.

"Your smile."
-- Consensus was that I nearly got converted. Or proposed a blow job. (8/9)

Isotopes Media Guide
-- Jon Darling has never looked better. (8/15)


-- That five-game series went well, didn't it? (8/18)

There's a correctional facility right near the Massachusetts Avenue entrance to Route 93 in Boston, which is the way I take to get to the highway and back out of the city. As you might imagine, I'm quite familiar with it as of late. The other day, as I was cruising toward the ramp, I noticed a distraught girl standing on the nearby sidewalk looking up at the building. She had a friend nearby, but the friend had a different kind of distraught in her demeanor. Kind of an apology to the cars passing, that they were seeing this.

So as I drove by, I gave a quick look up in the direction of the other girl's wails. And sure enough, in the upper-floor window of the correctional facility were two silouettes, rather wildly gesticulating downward.

There's a story there. I just wish I knew what it was.
-- Missed Connections, indeed. (8/20)

Tonight, I may have killed a wolf with my car.
-- And after $600 in car repairs, the damn thing better have died. (8/22)

This afternoon while flipping channels, I found the video for the song by which 2006 will be remembered, "London Bridge." It's hard to boil the entire production down to one event, but I think noting the portion where she's grinding her ass against a member of the Queen's Guard sums things up nicely.
-- No need to add to that. (8/23)

Aged 4 years, 1 month, 23 days
July 2, 2002 - Aug. 24, 2006

-- I'll be honest. I don't really miss him. (8/24)

Upon getting to the store, she was swayed by this varying-size, three-basket set that was "a great value," though that ignored the fact we don't need three wicker baskets. As she treid to explain to me how she could use the extra baskets, I explained how I like being able to see the floor in all the rooms of the apartment. It wasn't a fight, per se, but however this all ends some day, the wicker basket debate will go down as the start of something.
-- The start of ME BEING THE SMARTEST. RAR. (8/28)

Interspersed on two and a half pages out of the 48-page catalog, Carol Wright shows off her new line of cock rings.
-- It's always nice to visit Julie's grandmother's house in Georgetown. (9/3)

As someone long on record as being cool with Canada just kind of absorbing Vermont, it comes as no surprise the state has a problem involving teenagers spontaneously disrobing in some parking lot. I mean, why would a state need an anti-public nudity law? Wouldn't most people just assume they should take all their clothes off and sit around outside?
-- With Vermont, we can never assume anything. (9/4)

Course, the upside to being Assistant Sports Editor is midway through the shift, my boss can go "Let's go for a walk." Then, we go get beer.
-- Pretty sure it's only happened the once, though. (9/7)

Julie learned you don't wear heeled sandals to a place where you'll be standing for three hours. I, however, learned something else. Weird, weird weird man. Chris Robinson.
-- The Black Crowes. Odd, odd men. (9/12)

Brownie pride, baby. "If you bring a horse into your house, it doesn't make it a pet."
-- Most towns don't have these kinds of problems. (9/13)

Ahh! My groin!
-- Back-to-back-to-back-to-back homers, anyone? (9/18)

-- Mark Loretta's Patriots Day walk-off from the front row.
-- The vaunted, and stupid, Doug Mirabelli return (plus J. Damon).
-- David Wells returns ... and takes a line drive off his brittle knee.
-- Curt Schilling's 200th victory, even if I did miss the on-field celebration.
-- The near five-hour rain delay June 10, when Jon Lester debuted.
-- The five-homer game against the Mets, which featured the pitch of the year: Jon Lester's beyond absurd 3-2 curveball to fan David Wright.
-- Pedro's return: 3 IP, 8 runs.
-- Lester and Papelbon's one-hitter against the Royals.
-- Two Ortiz walk-offs in three days, plus this absurd shot off Mike Myers.
-- The most interesting third-place team in baseball. (9/20)

Delicacy For Fat People
-- The Big E. May it live on forever. (9/26)

Lord knows Paul Harvey has made a career out of that. Though he's also billing himself as "The Voice of the New Millenium." Given he'll be dead in 15 years barring some lovely draws from the gene pool, I'm thinking the actual "Voice of the New Millenium" will be a robot still to be created. That, however, may just be me. Good day.
-- Time has yet to prove me wrong. (9/28)

Greeting Cards?
-- Apparently, I don't buy enough greeting cards. (9/29)

Genie aims to please.
-- There's just no way I couldn't include this. (10/1)

On Sunday, I will play my first 18-hole golf round of the year, sort of ... a scramble with my father, playing in a scholarship tournament that's in its 20th and final year.
-- Underrated contender for the year's most depressing development. (10/7)

Young Matty Cooch refused my efforts to pose him prone in front of the toilet, with green plastic lei in his left hand, reenacting how he was found drunk in the early hours of the morning. He also, not surprisingly, did not wish to relay his story of debauchery in this place. He did, however, take it rather well when, upon asking who I'd told about his nap on the bathroom floor, I responded with, "The Internet."
-- Didn't know the kid had it in him. (10/10)

I'm not just saying this because I got to lo-five Paws on the way into the thing, but because you haven't really wished you had a camera phone more than when you see Sonic The Hedgehog or Inspector Gadget on pumpkins. I'm pretty sure that's why the product was invented.
-- Pawtucket's Jack-O-Lantern Extravaganza was cool. (10/14)

Cory Lidle Cartoon
-- N.Y. Post. Get it? He died in a plane crash! HI-LARIOUS! (10/16)

The Last One!
-- These things don't usually work out with two wins. (10/20)

When I was finished, and starting to head back over toward the ballpark, he was at the hint of choked up. Just that sort of catch in his voice, because his son was covering the Red Sox, on the cusp on winning their first World Series since right around when his father was born. He said, "Enjoy it. Take it all in. Not a lot of people get to see what you're seeing." He knew he didn't have to, but I'm glad he did. I just remember thinking how hopeful I was that he knew he was the reason, down at the core, that I was seeing it.

That's the sort of thing that makes it OK he now
curses at the weathermen on television.
-- Dad's 60th birthday. (10/22)

So when David Eckstein -- 2-foot-1 in bare feet, topping the scales at barely 40 pounds soaking wet, and appearing in the game only thanks to an MLB Outreach Program to give malnourished young mole people a chance to fulfill a dream of playing in the big leagues -- stands in against 8-foot-11 Joel Zumaya, who can throw a weighted leather exercise ball 200 MPH with his penis, you might think Zumaya has the advantage.
-- Fire Joe Morgan. The Eckstein MVP award
really brought them to the fore. (10/27)

For reasons I don't fully understand, I've spent the last couple days reading and watching as much as I easily can about the Japanese Baseball League. Starting with the clip of the Nippon Series' final out, and the famed Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters winning their first title since 1962.
-- Let it be noted I got caught up in Japanese baseball pre-Matsuzaka. (10/29)

I found myself sitting there watching this, willing her to pick the right markers, which she did all but the first time through. Then, at the end, when she sort of wrote her first name on her own ... like I said, I never really felt like I needed help understanding why Julie loves doing what she's doing, but I'm certainly sure now.
-- An afternoon with the kids. (10/31)

Were you aware the Barenaked Ladies had a new album out? Did you know it's been out since Sept. 12? Does not knowing that make me really able to say they're one of my favorite bands? And is it unprecedented that I learned this by attending their concert tonight at Agganis Arena?
-- The first was a good day for concerts in '06. (11/1)

Tim Thomas
-- B's blow three-goal, third-period lead. I hate them more than ever. (11/2)

Tide's Simple Pleasures apparently makes your clothes and sheets smell so delightful, you'll be "unable to go to bed angry." That does, in fact, make it the official laundry detergent of abusive husbands. Which is just terrible.
-- Thank you, MTV Europe Music Awards (11/10)

Wallpaper War
-- The highlight of the first-ever Couture-Flanders Wallpaper War. (11/12)

D'backs? No. D'bags.
-- Did Nick know he'd be moving there when he sent this? (11/15)

So apprently, my father is greatly bothered by the Tom Cruise - Katie Holmes wedding, since neither's church is actually viewing the ceremony as an official wedding. My mother is bothered that the media is the one deigning to term this a wedding, since apparently, neither of the participants are viewing it as such.

I, on the other hand, spent an hour and a half calculcating statistical history on an 0-10 high school football team who will be playing another 0-10 high school football team on Thanksgiving day.
-- We lead a tremendous life, we Coutures. (11/18)

1. Derek Jeter
2. Travis Hafner
3. David Ortiz
4. Joe Mauer
5. Jermaine Dye
6. Johan Santana
7. Frank Thomas
8. Carlos Guillen
9. Justin Morneau
10. Grady Sizemore
-- The MVP ballot that could've made me an Internet darling. (11/21)

Turkey Day, 2006
-- Thanksgiving 2006. Not shown is me getting punches in the eye. (11/23)

I generally am not crafting my columns in the fifth inning, even if our deadlines almost make that a necessity. But I'll just say that even as much of a fan as I am of Bob Ryan, and as much as I'd kill to have even half the career he's had, if we're ever sitting next to each other for some reason and he said something to that affect to me, at least a few of the "Hey. F&$% you." bells are going off in my head.
-- Item One in the sadly large 'Bob Ryan is a dick' file. (11/24)

The worm has turned.
-- And like that, I love them again. Much better. (11/26)

And then, the final one, a seagull. But not just a still shot like the others. It started really small, but then the camera ZOOMED IN FAST, giving you the impression the seagull was flying at you, poised to break through the screen and ... peck you. Whatever seagulls do when they're not messing on things. I don't completely understand why, but I immediately needed that seagull.
-- The story of SEAGULL!!!!! (12/1-3)

While on the Expressway into the city tonight, I stumbled across what I presume to be Pink's latest musical screed, "U + Ur Hand." This is the chorus.

I'm not here for your entertainment

. . .

The first line does clear a lot of confusion for me.
-- (12/8)

Dice's Conference
-- A good seat, and a free T-shirt? This stuff is getting easy. (12/14)

You're telling me this penthouse, wherever it is, isn't the pinnacle of conquest for roughly every single guy between the ages of 15-30 in the New York City metro area? Can you even imagine how you would feel if you earned an invite back to this place? How is this not the centerpiece of every exaggerated bar story told across Manhattan? Is there some deep, hidden Flickr photo album with pictures of a night, no matter what happened, that the photographer will spend their entire life trying to match, never mind top?
-- Donald Trump, ruining everything. (12/15)

The song was played after each goal scored by the Williams College men's hockey team during the 2005-2006 season, and the fans would dance The Watusi.
-- I guard the legacy of 'Brass Bonanza' very closely. (12/18)

Nick's Arizona Drawing
-- We lose our Immigrant. (12/22)

Tonight, I accompanied Julie's family to Christmas Eve service at their church. I'm not sure how in depth I've gotten into this in the past, but I'm not a church person. I generally feel out of place, which is probably exactly the opposite of the way most churchgoers feel about visitors, but so be it.

Call it nervous energy, but I doodled on the front of the program,
and made the baby Jesus into a pirate.
-- Please, no one tell Him. (12/24)

This afternoon, at Sawyer Field on the campus of The Williston Northampton School, I, Cooch, kicked a 37-yard field goal on my first attempt.
-- Among my finest athletic achievements. (12/26)

He was delicious.
-- Really, Taft? (12/27)

Phone 004
-- The cell camera era begins. (12/28)

   Here's hoping we can keep it up.

January 1, 2007 - Part One
   Today's Sign People Think Little of You: Admittedly, this really only applies to the famous, since most people don't have file photos run on the AP Wire when they do something stupid.

Britney Spears takes the stage to present an award at the 2006 American Music Awards in Los Angeles, in a Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2006 file photo. Britney Spears finally appears to be acting like a new mom. The pop princess, who recently made headlines for a rash of less-than-motherly hard partying, fell asleep in a Las Vegas nightclub early Monday shortly after leading the New Year's Eve countdown, her manager said.

   When falling asleep in a nightclub is a sign your parenting is improving ... I'd like to believe the postscript to this was that K-Fed had the kid in Miami for the weekend.

Rapper Kevin Federline, estranged husband of Britney Spears, has made his wrestling debut, beating WWE champion John Cena.

Federline, who performs using the name K-Fed, entered the ring at the American Airlines Arena in Miami wearing gloves, headgear and a mouthpiece, but the rapper later took these off.

According to reports, Cena seemed to be in control of the match until fellow wrestler Umaga joined the action, giving Federline the chance to pin Cena down and win the no-disqualification contest.

   According to reports?! Um, it was on television. And even if you didn't see it, I'm reasonably certain Jim Ross's call could be heard leaking onto other channels, given he ranked the defeat somewhere in the vicinity of a Holocaust-level tragedy.

   Rose Bowl Recap: The parade was lovely.

Darth Maul and his hamburger.

Darth Maul from "The Phantom Menace" eats a hamburger at the end Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif., on Monday. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

   The game, however, bit for Michigan.

Rose Bowl Mouthguards
-- Thankfully, the Wolverines were ready for that.

Michigan players' mouth guards are displayed before the start of the 93rd Rose Bowl football game against Southern California in Pasadena, Calif. on Monday. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

   • Before we begin Navel Gaze 2006, if I could just have a moment.


Boise State, Greatest Ever

Boise State players run onto the field after Boise State beat Oklahoma 43-42 in overtime Monday in the Fiesta Bowl college football game in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Paul Connors)

   I ... I can't even describe how much better it was to watch it live than it will be to see dumbass ESPN anchors shout over the whole thing in highlights. But now, let's go back in time, back to the last time I felt the need to write a college football column.

* * * * *

On the plus side, the newspaper went to press with a half-completed page in it because my boss sent the wrong version to the printer. Had I been the one that did it, this whole update would have been about that and my own self-angst. Instead, you got the self-angst about me eating an omelette the size of my face and how Charlie fell down the stairs at 3 a.m., yet somehow didn't injure himself. I'll leave it to you to determine which story you think is better.
-- New Year's, 2005 into 2006, in Easthampton, Mass. (1/1)

South Park - New York
-- My shocking cameo on South Park. (1/4)

If I wasn't one to gloat, I wouldn't have taped Wednesday's sports section -- with my column circled, the sectioned autographed and the line "Texas is winning the Rose Bowl tonight." highlighted -- to the managing editor's door because he scoffed at me.
-- I'm proud of what I've achieved in five years. (1/4)

"Everyone in that theater will either be old or going with their wife, or gay. Maybe a more mature, open-minded guy would go, but your common 18-year-old guy won't go see that movie. They'd rather sit at home and watch reruns of 'Mad TV.'"
-- The point, just after "it's not like gay vibes are going to come off the screen," at which I decided UMass Dartmouth students were fucking with our 'Brokeback Mountain' reporter. (1/7)

"I stopped reading your site after you quit taking shots at me."
-- Sports Editor Josh, who now proudly tells me he reads the site often. (1/16)

One award!
-- Among my favorite Photoshops ever. (1/17)

After that, I flipped to EWTN's Life on The Rock. You really haven't lived until you hear two men in Franciscan robes discussing "Brokeback Mountain" in terms of "suffering the affliction of same-sex marriage" before reading from a list of snappy one-liners about saving sex for marriage, but reading it with no actual snap other than saying, "Ooh. I like that one." after all of them.
-- Sadly, not how I spent a Saturday night. (1/19)

Make delicious cancer.
-- The 'Katamari Damacy' phase. (1/23)

To me, there's absolutely no worry before I go on anymore since everybody there knows me and has the common decency to put out that they like me. While I was disappointed that I wasn't able to follow through on my promise to wear the BU jersey on the show if they won -- they did their part after I left the jersey in Whale City -- the only thing I would do over again is maybe tone down that the city of Pittsburgh is all tar-paper shacks in a chasm.
-- I did drink four Guinnesses before going on TV that night. (1/27-29)

In an outcome that's not quite hilarious, but is closer than you'd think, tonight I finished 6th in a 163-player freeroll qualifier for a $100,000 prize pool tournament being held on Feb. 19. I will give you exactly one guess as to how many free spots into that tournament were being offered, with only the following clue for help: the answer is five.
-- If only the poker had stopped there. (1/31)


Far be me from becoming New Bedford's loudest supporter, but seriously ... we're a decent city. We blow the crap out of Fall River. Holyoke can't compete, and I'm sure we're nicer than most parts of Lynn. Remind me to put that on a poster sometime and call the Chamber of Commerce.
-- New Bedford and its world-famous gay bar attack. (2/2)

I got some news for you newscasters- how about you make society a better place by doing your job and finding GOOD news. Some news that would make people happy to hear when they wake up. Sure its easy to find bad news, its everywhere. How about you gain some skills you n00bs and find some happy news. Oh yeah, and leave the people and myspace out of this. Your job sucks.
-- From a friend of the gay bar attacker.
Arguably, the greatest MySpace quote in history. (2/4)

Upon arriving at the apartment tonight, I noticed a small white, black and brown tabby walking near the Route 6 intersection. Because I'm me, I attempted to make my way over to the cat, but it ran under a car in our parking lot. Sitting next to the tire, I tried not to pet the collarless animal -- I thought it might bite for no particular reason -- but to call it out from under said car. The cat then ran around the far side of my building and disappeared when I tried to loop around and find it again.
-- The stray cat search continues. (2/5)

Am I the only person bothered by a girl who largely got away with her "I'm waiting for marriage" spiel now attempting to lift her legs at every turn and remind us how hot she is?
-- Jessica Simpson's Super Bowl ad pissed me off, apparently. (2/6)

At the gas station this afternoon, a short message interrupted the easy listening which I was enjoying, encouraging me to practice proper pump etiquette. "Here at Mobil, we remind you to complete your transaction by returning the nozzle to the island dispenser." I want to believe there are people in Lakeville just ripping the gas hose out of the car and throwing it on the ground.
-- Throwing it in the trash can would also be pretty funny. (2/9)

Anyway, after I got over that and wondering if I was walking in any of the footsteps of those clowns who beat up Moby, I was taken with how small the actual club was. It struck me that within an hour or so, one of the ugliest men in rock -- Gaz Coombes -- would be about 15 feet away from me. Given jostling, it actually ended up being about 25 feet, but the overriding point was that it didn't make much matter. He's slightly less ugly in person, and the drummer is pretty much my generic image of what British guys look like. And they all rock. Like, a lot.
-- The Supergrass show at The Paradise (2/11)

We watched the U.S. lose to Finland on the final shot. Not only was I explaining to everyone else in the office both the rules and some of the rudimentary lingo, I found myself questioning skip Pete Fenton's play on the final stone. He opted to try nudging his own stone on the left when, to me, the more logical play might have been attempting a knockout on the right. So I went from mentally double checking knowing how the game is scored to questioning the leader of the U.S. team at the Olympics in about seven hours. Seems perfectly logical to me.
-- Curling. Over it for the second time. (2/13)

Once again, a friendly reminder: The next time you're tempted to send a nasty, exasperated, or snippy e-mail, pause, take a deep breath, and think again. Then consider the tale of local lawyers William A. Korman and Dianna L. Abdala.
-- Agawam High, Class of 1998, hits the Boston Globe.
Even if she was an imposter in it. (2/16)

I suppose it's fair to mention here that I may be moving over the summer ... not changing jobs per se, but vacating the Whale City Estate and heading west to Providence, where I can live in a larger city, nor take advantage of the cultural opportunities, but be glad they're there.
-- This, I believe, is as far as the idea of moving got. This sentence. (2/22)

I'll keep it short. You need to be watching this before NBC ruins it the same way ABC ruined "Millionaire" ... by having it on all the time. It's enjoyable in so many ways -- the whole premise, numbers, strategy, people getting more money that they know what to do with, trying to figure out who thought of Howie Mandel to host, realizing Model No. 13 (Layla) was whoring herself out to be a WWE diva within the last 12 months ... I could go on.
-- Discovering 'Deal or No Deal' on the same night as 'True Life: I'm A Competitive Eater (2/28)

Honest? It's hardly honest to say you hate the bougeois establishment, take their dough, and tell your fans to stick it, and kid ski racers and their parents you don't care what people think of you, drunk or not.
-- People loved my defense of Bode Miller. (3/1)

I had to turn to Matt. He forced me to change the investment slightly: one game, two numbers, $20. If one hits, we get the $20 back. If both, $100. His was 55, which was his lacrosse number the one year he played. Mine was 43, which came to me in a moment of clarity. ... Being me, I'm informing everyone else there that there's no way this plan can fail ... we have a better than 1-in-4 chance to get our money back! It's no lose! The first 18 of the 20 numbers drawn all miss. I can feel Matt readying to mock me, and demanding I trudge across the parking lot immediately to get his money. The 19th number drawn is his 55. The 20th is 43.
-- Why I can never play Keno ever again. (3/3)

My House Ad
-- Run-up to Spring Training. (3/5)

-- My shining moment, now living behind my driver's license. (3/6-15)

Now, exactly zero of the 48 rooms at the hotel offered "interior access," unless by that they meant you could walk through a door from the outside and be on the interior of something. I did not have a coffee maker, though really, I don't drink coffee so I don't care. There was no hook where either an iron or ironing board might have been at one point. And, before I even bothered to ask the clerk whether or not their hotel did have "high-speed Internet access," I noted I was being handed a carbon-paper slip to fill out upon checking in.
-- Why Travelocity, and the Econo Lodge-North Fort Myers, suck. (3/6-15)

I had long said I wouldn't introduce myself to him, waiting instead for this mythical moment when he'd say 'hi' to me. Well, when there's all of four of us there, it happened. We talked about New Bedford boys basketball getting whacked out of the state tournament, though I'm reasonably sure he thought my name was Joe.
-- My meeting with Dan Shaughnessy. We haven't spoken since. (3/6-15)

Coco: "I'm going to ask you the question I'm asking everybody ..."
Cooch: "OK."
Coco: "Do you have any connections in TV?"
Cooch: (sheepishly) "Um ... I've been on TV."
Coco: (smiles) "Other than that."
Cooch: "Nope, sorry."
Coco: (smiles again, shakes his head and walks away)
"You're useless, man. You are useless."
-- All by itself, worth whatever my family paid BU for my degree. (3/6-15)

BU's nine goals are the most in a Hockey East tournament game since the Terriers defeated Massachusetts 14-1 in the quarterfinals back in 1996.
-- Lot of fucking good they were in the NCAA quarterfinals. (3/17)

If I believed in reincarnation, I'd want to come back as a monkey. They seem to have a lot of fun, most of them don't have jobs and their food really does grow on trees.
-- Marc Munroe Dion, Fall River Herald. Greatest thought columnist ever. (3/20)

With the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at its peak point of madness last week, an educator at Agawam High School discovered a stack of tournament brackets and a list of students participating in something common, but illegal - a betting pool. The pool, a $5-per-person affair which included more than 25 students, was organized at the school, with materials needed for it printed on school computers, administrators said. After questioning students, Principal Linda J. Prystupa and her staff did something that experts say is rare: They disciplined the participants. ... The students, who came from all four grades at the school, were each handed a one-day internal suspension, said Assistant Principal Bernadette Conte. Two students who admitted to organizing the effort received a stiffer penalty, a three-day external suspension.
-- How I narrowly avoided high school suspension by a decade. (3/31)

Whomever you are, thanks to the 49 people who thought I was the "Boston Media's Best-Kept Secret." Had I know I'd end on that number, I would have sucked it up and voted for myself.
-- I didn't win, and really, I shouldn't have. (4/1)

The Hardball Page
-- When I finally leave the S-T, The Hardball Page will be my legacy. (4/6)

I've got a new addittion to the disconcerting things that can happen to a person during their day: Biting down on something, suddenly feeling something in your mouth far harder than whatever it was you were biting down on and realizing it was ... a piece of your tooth.
-- Somehow, the first of two times that happened in 2006. (4/8)

Today was a special day for me. Not only were my father and brother at the game, and not only did I get to experience some of the most uncomfortable moments in the Red Sox clubhouse since the Carl Everett vs. Darren Lewis fight I've heard talked about, today was the first day I had one of the most coveted seats in the stadium -- front row of the press box.
-- I've rarely enjoyed the end of a game more. (4/17)

Why did you put our Press Realease on your website saying it was a spam message? Isn't normal, for a journalist, to receive a Press Release? I really don't undersand.
-- French lovers vacations Web sites have never understood me. (4/18)

A place for shame.
-- Cooch's World hits MySpace. It's been ...fulfilling. (4/19)

So on a recent ride home, I listened to "Abbey Road" straight for the first time. And thus, some 30 years later than some people, I heard "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" and wondered if there's ever been a happier song written about a triple homicide.
-- Slowly but surely crawling to America's muscial level. (4/21)

"From a lifelong Bruins fan now living on the west coast, I just wanted to say that was one of the most refreshing reads I've had in a long time regarding the pathetic state of the franchise."
-- What a shock. Others are also sick of the Bruins sucking. (4/26)

Diet Coke ad, woman walks into a male barber shop. Sits in the chair with the average female haircut. As some random pop song plays -- in hindsight, maybe the words mean something? -- she gets her hair just lopped off, leaving something reminiscent of mine. She walks out the door with the camera pausing on the male haircut model chart prominent in there sorts of places. As she begins walking down the street with her boy cut, the text layover comes: Live life like you started it.

So apparently, Diet Coke decided transsexuals needed their own soda.
-- No further comment needed. (4/27)

And I'm talking about the technology which helped create the Junk Ball. I could call it a Wiffle Ball for a new generation, but really, this goes far beyond the comedy of a Wiffle Ball. It's harder, and can be whipped at rage-inducing speeds at people. It will also eventually break something inside the office, so whomever is responsible for it should be involved whenever that happens. Because really, you can almost be assured I'll somehow be, whether I'm there or not.
-- Technically, setting off the fire alarm isn't
breaking something, so I was wrong. (4/30)

What Sportswriting Is

Three tips I can offer:
-- Write whenever you can.
-- Watch whatever you can.
-- Be critical.
-- Be smart.
-- Enjoy it.

What you will do.
-- The entirety of my notes from a 50-minute chat with high school journalism students. This is also the day I took a nap in my car. (5/1)

The idea of deli meats and spreads being placed between two slices of pizza is enough to make me question whether our society should be halted, or whether Al Qaeda should be subtelety told we wouldn't mind if they took 7-11's corporate headquarters, wherever they might happen to be.
-- 7-Eleven's P'EatZZa greatly displeases me. (5/3)

David Blaine is a hell of an entertainer. He's clearly able to do more with his body than most, and clearly able to captivate a crowd. That said, he's also an idiot who I'm convinced hates himself and hopes he really does die during a stunt. And let me tell you, having Stuart Scott there to be the one who announces to the world, "Yeah. David Blaine's corpse is as cool as the other side of the pillow" would have made it all worthwhile.
-- That made for a fun night at the office. (5/9)

While Applebee's is never anyone first choice to eat, having it be the area's only option led to me overhearing the following from a man who was struggling to follow the Red Sox game: "The Internet ... I can go on NFL.com, I sign on NFL.com. I can look at pictures of every cheerleader in the NFL, I look at their pictures. I can e-mail every cheerleader in the NFL."
-- Sadly, I think this was at a Western Mass. Applebee's (5/11)

Bar, bowling, restaurant, bar, friends. All of that interspersed with the traditions you just kind of accept: gifts, cake and general feelings of aging. Course, mine came when I noted my MySpace profile said I was 26 years old, and not when my new license came in the mail, but that's not the point. Rather than belabor a recap of the specific details of what happened this weekend, I would rather make it clear how grateful I am to everyone who went out of their way to thank me for me being born in the afternoon hours of May 12 some 26 years ago.
-- God, I just never shut up, do I? (5/13-14)

He asked Birdie Kim what her given name was in Korean! During the press conference! IT'S A FACT IN THE BOOK YOU HAD IN YOUR HAND, DUMBASS!
-- Maybe it's best I avoid Jim Donaldson, and the U.S. Women's Open. (5/15)

Reality: The Poster
-- Discovering a Web-based poster maker discouraged me
from making any more on my own. (5/16)

Today was supposed to be one of those days where I made up for having a life that doesn't allow fun on a normal schedule. But then rain did in the morning nine holes of golf in Westerly, R.I. The hour-long search for a Bank of America in the Greater Norwich, Conn., area ended up highlighting the trip to Foxwoods, which was five hours of $4/$8 hold 'em with the end result a $75 loss. And then, upon crashing the "Girls Night Out" in Western Mass., I was the one who gorged on the pizza and a pint of ice cream. But on the plus side, at least I wasn't the guy wearing the Red Sox headband and the shirt with "JOHNNY DAMON IS A $ELL OUT" on it in comedically large letters.
-- I'd forgotten how big a douche that guy was. (5/19)

Free For All, Part One
-- One last go-round with Ed Berliner on 'Sports Pulse.' (5/25)

Tonight, I was jokingly called a "cynic" in the press box because I wouldn't sing along to "Take Me Out To The Ballgame." As I explained, there's no way this business made me a cynic ... I was a jerk way before I ever went in the press box. And really, I can still enjoy the simple things. No one else smiled when J.T. Snow's cell phone rang the other day, and he scrambled to shut the ringer off before anyone else could discern that it was Warrant's 'Cherry Pie'.
-- I think of this factoid far more than I should. (5/26)

My blood hurts.
-- Well conceived, poorly executed. Can't win 'em all. (5/27)

This afternoon, while watching the UMass men's lacrosse team before their national title game appearance became cringe-worthy -- sad end, but hell of a run -- I came up with what we'll put on paperwork as my dream job of the future. I want to be Dave Ryan.
-- I don't actually want to be Dave Ryan, I think.
I'd forgotten how odd his teeth are. (5/29)

To put it bluntly, I now understand. After years of not really getting the whole Pearl Jam thing, and then taking a ride to New Jersey despite that, I now understand what all the fuss was about.
-- The nine-hour round trip, however, probably could have been avoided. (6/1)

My mother tonight, bless her heart, encouraged Josh Beckett to hit Damon in the lip with a pitch. There was a moment when I thought about explaining why you don't do that, but even if I'd wanted to, he'd already gotten New York's 17th hit of the inning.
-- Mom's always good for helping me realize I'm not an average fan. (6/5)

While I can't be 100 percent sure, I'm reasonably certain prom dresses can be gotten for less than $200. I went to a prom, and odds are pretty good every girl in that place did not pay $200 for their dress. Having seen my date's dress, I can say that if she paid $200 for it, cheating on me and dumping me two days before Christmas might have been the best present she ever could have given me.
-- Mainers confuse me, and exes vex me. (6/7)

Flower Cards
-- The San Francisco trip. It's just a 'still life,' I'm told. (6/12-19)

Angry with a recent column by Mariotti critical of Guillen's handling of recently demoted relief pitcher Sean Tracey and upset with Mariotti over past columns, Guillen said to reporters when referring to Mariotti before Tuesday's game, "What a piece of [expletive] he is, [expletive] fag." ... Guillen also told Couch that he has gay friends, attends WNBA games, went to a Madonna concert and plans to go to the Gay Games in Chicago.
-- Who plans around the Gay Games? Just go one day! (6/21)

Fall River: We'll Try
-- Apparently, not very hard. (6/22)

-- Speaking of poor efforts ... (6/22)

-- Ten years from now, we'l all go, "Oh yeah! I remember that song!" (6/26)

And I've never lost that emotion tied into the writing. That feeling you get, after hitting 'Send' on a story or column you just feel like you nailed, where you want to stand up, spike your plastic cup or whatever's handy and scream, "Yeah! YEAH!"
-- Sparked by the Pedro game. (6/28)

Self portrait.
-- Cape League in Chatham. (6/30)

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