February 28, 2005 - Drugs For Nothing
   Last Refuge For The Post 15 Minutes World: In the same vein as movies I'm not sure are actually for real, the Burger King ad for the limited-time Tendercrisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch featuring Darius "I Am Not Hootie" Rucker as an easy-listening, white-hat wearing country music singer.

   A country music singer melodically talking about streams of bacon ranch dressing, chicken breast trees and tumbleweeds of bacon.

   And then Brooke Burke shows up on a swing!

   My dreams are more lucid than this! He's won Grammys! She's the 10th or 11th sexiest woman in the world depending on which Web page you look at! They're pushing a sandwich!

   Even if it is a good sandwich, it's still pretty weird.

Celtics Haven't Stayed The Same
-- It's about Antoine Walker. I know I usually describe more than that here, but I have a 9:30 a.m. appointment to be told how my wisdom teeth are going to be hacked out of my skull. The energy is low.

   • And now, as promised, 10 things I have done that I'm pretty sure you haven't. Why? I'm not really sure.

   1. Did the majority of the driving of a 15-passenger van on road trips to Chapel Hill, N.C., and Ann Arbor, Mich., on consecutive weekends. A BUCB happening likely never to be repeated, either because the team will opt to only attend one of the two events or because they'd do the unexciting thing and fly.

   You'd be surprised how easy driving one of those things is, and how much unalarming it is when you're in New Jersey being passed while going 85 mph.

   2. Hit a (roughly) buzzer-beating three-pointer to send a basketball game to overtime. Granted I was a pre-teen in a generally meaningless Agawam Athletic Association game we ended up losing anyway, but it was still pretty cool. Especially since the ball hit the back iron, shot straight up and fell in.

   3. Eaten more than a baker's dozen of Taco Bell tacos in a single sitting. Part of the first (of two, I believe) "student newspaper vs. yearbook" taco-eating contests brought about because a new restaurant opened in West Springfield. I want to believe I didn't given them a free full-page ad because they let two dozen of us gorge for two hours, but at the point, I was even less the savvy negotiator I am now.

   The final count was either 13.5 or 14 tacos, mostly soft, which tied for the win. Amazingly, I didn't get scads of pimples in the following days.

   4. Removed a cast so I could take gym class. In second grade, I sprained my wrist falling off my bicycle and was put in a soft cast -- no plaster -- and given a note excusing me from gym for some short period of time.

   I decided I'd have none of that.

   If I remember right, we played kickball baseball -- among my all-time gym class favorites -- without incident. I wonder now why exactly no one noticed I took off my cast and left it in my desk, but it's not like the arm was broken or anything.

   5. Watched a July 4 fireworks display from the roof of a newspaper building. During the magical Nashua summer, those of us on the night crew busted onto the roof to watch the display from Holman Stadium. Given we were a town away, it was moderately impressive. Given we stayed up there despite being under siege from mosquitoes and heck knows what else, it was doubly impressive.

   If I remember right, I was convinced the air smelled like hot dogs. Bear in mind this is the same summer I lost 30 pounds due to running, heatstroke and malnutrition. Which reminds me ...

   5b. Lost 30 pounds in a single summer. This may be the longest stretch of my entire life I went without eating pizza -- on my last day, we had a party with several "pies," something I remember being notable because I'd eaten no fast food despite living within a mile of about 15 different places to.

   Every time I look at Carl Buddig lunch meats at the supermarket and see their giant sticker advertising them as costing some amount of cents, a small part of me smiles ... even if nectarines are what actually got me through the summer.

   I've never gained it all back either ... I'm still about 10-15 pounds lighter than I was in high school.

   6. Worn the gear of both Stanley Cup finals participants to school on the same day. Basically, I'd decided I'd be a Colorado Avalanche fan when they moved from Quebec -- who I'd always had a soft spot for -- and got a kick-ass logo. During 1996, however, I got caught up in the hoopla surrounding the Florida Panthers. Scott Mellanby killed a rat in the locker room one day, so the fans started throwing rubber rats on the ice during games ... it was awesome, and I bought a jersey.

   Then they both made the Finals, a panic scenario I've always feared for the Patriots-Giants and (to a lesser extent) Red Sox-Dodgers.

   For the record, I cheered for Colorado, who won. So everyone thought I was a bandwagoner. Now I hate them both -- Colorado for trading Chris Drury, Florida for extended sucking.

   7. Had a Welsh sheep eat my lunch. In 1996, when I was in Cardiff as part of an exchange program, I went hiking in the mountains with one of my host families -- this was I think the second day of the 21-day trip, and I recall them being impressed I wasn't jet lagged. We stopped to eat on some impressive vista, and as I was standing with a sandwich in my hand and talking, a sheep walked up and bit it.

   This later turned into a controversy because, in a picture taken shortly after the incident, it looks as though I'm allowing a sheep to eat my shirt. It was only a controversy because the girl with which it was with is the only one I know who dishes mockery and insults as well as I do, and we just really enjoyed taking the piss out of each other.

   It's a British expression used for effect. Sue me.

   8. Spit on the Eagle painted at center ice in Boston College's Conte Forum. Down visiting Amit at the school one night, we walked down to the athletic complex to find everything unlocked for some reason. After running to his dorm and getting a football so we could kick field goals at Alumni Stadium -- I enjoy this far too much given how mediocre I am at it -- we walked into adjacent Conte and made our way through the bowels and onto the ice surface.

   Given he was a BC student, it was probably alright that he was there, unlike the time he snuck me into the BC vs. Virginia Tech game with his student ID despite the fact he's Indian and I'm ghastly white. Given my school affiliation, I felt it my duty to deface the arena in some way, and I felt the spitting was least arrest-worthy, yet most symbolic.

   9. Driven a Ford Tempo at least 100 miles per hour. Admittedly, there are no official records of this happening because the spedometer only went up to 80 and such a behavior would be very, very illegal. However, given the (alleged) acceleration after the needle (hypothetically) rested on the dashboard, it's generally assumed (had this actually happened) the speed is accurate.

   Route 5, West Springfield, by the rotary, very very early hours of the morning, with others in the car. Or something.

   10. Had the presence of mind to pick a cork off the locker room floor as the Red Sox celebrated beating the Yankees in Game 7 of the '04 ALCS. I promised I would only give work one item.

   Feel free to do the same elsewhere. It really is an exercise in boredom.

February 27, 2005 - Hot Dog On A Stick
   The Deion Sanders Hot Dog Express: A link sent to me under the premise of "What WON'T Deion do for money?," the machine that essentially offers the chance to open a 7-11 in your own home.

   The initial instinct is to wonder just who eats enough hot dogs to warrant buying a $50 machine devoted to them, but ah ... you can use it like a grill as well. Clearly, Deion Sanders uses this machine to cook all the salmon he must eat to stay strong, just as I'm sure George Foreman's house has no normal stove because he just grills everything.

   And clearly, it was just a coincidence the first interviewee in the commercial was wearing a No. 21 Cowboys jersey.

   The Oscars: They call today the "Super Bowl for ..." fill in the blank, depending on your prejudices and preconceived notions, but since I fall under the jurisdiction of the actual Super Bowl, I just get to take joy from the show because it can be made fun of and gambled on.

   As for the latter, I finished in a stunning tie for third in the S-T Oscar Pool, failing to complete a Twins-like (or even Braves-like) worst-to-first recovery after last year thinking, "I'll be the guy that wins if 'Lord of the Rings' gets more or less shut out." It was also stunning because I only missed four of the lesser categories -- Cinematography, Song, Foreign Film, and something else -- but I guess hitting Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, both supportings and both screenplays just isn't worth what it used to be.

   And as for the part I better not tie for third in given how I've structured my life, I'll keep this brief:

-- The E! Pre-Show: Hosting duties were shared by Star Jones and Kathy Griffin. I swear to God. I give both of you a round of applause, because the fact that you both are still allowed to work anywhere above a fast-food restaurant proves both your amazing ability to network and that America is dying from the inside out.

   The ABC Pre-Show: Nearly a complete waste of time, but punctuated by Chris Connolly saying to Orlando Bloom:

"Way before you were a movie star, you were a serious actor."

   Well put.

   Chris Rock: All award shows should be hosted by people completely unconcerned with ever being invited back to host said award show again. If ABC was smart, they would have had more camera shots of Jude Law, even if it meant they had to station a camera in his home somewhere.

   Thank goodness Sean Penn came to his aid ... if only he could speak discernable English, it might have helped.

   Penelope Cruz and Salma Hayek:


   Despite appearances, this actually disappointed me in some small way. For years, I was convinced these two, plus Paz Vega from Spanglish, were all the same person just shuffling between different roles. It's kind of how every time I see an attractive Asian woman in a movie, I think it's the girl from Tomorrow Never Dies.

   I mean nothing by that. I just think they should have had all three of them come out at the same time.

   Jake and Maggie Gyllenhall: Proof the "That Guy!" phenomenon can be transferred by blood, since upon seeing them, the office widely recognized them as "the guy who's not Tobey Maguire" and "the girl from Secretary," a movie I actually liked but was later informed I really didn't.

   It's a long story, and boring on top of it.

   Hilary Swank: Our Living editor -- they do the section live for awards shows, and we end up watching on our sports TVs -- called her "brave" for the dress she wore.


   And that's fine, because I do have to admit the "up to the neck in front, down to the ass in back" combination is one I'm pretty sure has never been completed successfully before.

   In the same vein, it would be brave of me to walk outside in the streets of Whale City naked -- not even considering the rock salt issues. However just because it's brave, it doesn't mean I should do it. Same goes for a dress that looks like a factory error.

   Learn it and live, America -- you never, ever want "ass cleavage."

   • The greatest downside to watching the Oscars was missing this, the Celtics second defining West Coast overtime victory of the season after their earlier one against the Clippers.

   If they weren't getting Tuesday's column before, they sure as hell are now.

   Coming Tomorrow: I succumb to another of my favorite things -- "the meme" -- and reveal ten things I know you haven't done that I have. Not the least of which will be start a self-aggrandizing Web site that has little practical purpose, but has kept going since May, 2001.

February 26, 2005 - Revisiting Espana
   A Lesson For Web Celebrities: If you put something on the Internet in hopes of getting noticed and famous, be careful. You might get too famous.

Mr. Brolsma, a pudgy guy from Saddle Brook, made a video of himself this fall performing a lip-synced version of "Dragostea Din Tei," a Romanian pop tune, which roughly translates to "Love From the Linden Trees." He not only mouthed the words, he bounced along in what he called the "Numa Numa Dance" -- an arm-flailing, eyebrow-cocked performance executed without ever once leaving the chair.

In December, the Web site newgrounds.com, a clearinghouse for online videos and animation, placed a link to Mr. Brolsma on its home page and, soon, there was a river of attention. "Good Morning America" came calling and he appeared. CNN and VH1 broadcast the clip. Parodists tried their own Numa Numa dances online. By yesterday, the Brolsma rendition of "Love From the Linden Trees" had attracted nearly two million hits on the original Web site alone.

He has now sought refuge from his fame in his family's small house on a gritty street in Saddle Brook. He has stopped taking phone calls from the news media, including The New York Times. He canceled an appearance on NBC's "Today." According to his relatives, he mopes around the house.

What's worse is that no one seems to understand.

   Yeah, what's to understand? You achieve notoriety by doing just next to absolutely nothing, then complain about it because, apparently, you didn't want to be noticed after all.

   Though, if I was a 19-year-old kid who worked at Staples and the New York Times described me as a "amateur videographer and guy from New Jersey," I might mope every now and then too.

   I can only wish William Hung had felt the same way. Not as much as I'll feel it when he's on "The Surreal Life 7," but pretty close.

   Speaking Of ...: If you haven't been watching the fourth Surreal Life with any regularity -- and I know I haven't -- the first winner of "America's Next Top Model" has a thing for Peter Brady.

   That's one of those things that has to be shared, because really, how can that not bring a smile to your face?

Finally, The Talk Turns To Actual Baseball
-- If you squint while reading this, you might think I enjoy exhibition baseball games.

   • So tonight, I had tapas.

   There's nothing really earthshattering about the concept -- instead of one big meal, you get like six small meals. Some kale soup with pork and beans, some grilled chorizo, a couple garlic shrimp, little duck in berry sauce, little chicken in chestnuts, an omelette thing that looks like a pie, etc. It's how they eat in Spain, or if you find you're very indecisive.

   They are also big on bread, but small pieces of bread, so if you eat like seven of them like some authors might have, the restaurant has failed to succeed in "getting you" -- a joke somehow related to Dr. Katz, but don't ask me how.

   However, the restaurant in question had non-tapas options for diners, one of which was apparently from the Canary Islands -- many kinds of meat, grilled on rocks, that you just keep eating until you either die or feel shame for having stuffed yourself full of meat in front of a companion.

   It makes me wonder if the time I remember partaking in such a meal -- during which I ate a whole lot of meat, as is my custom -- was in the Canary Islands. Fortunately, I have a 16-page writeup through which I can search for just such information.

   Unfortunately, it's way too long and has way too much sarcasm, to the point Bethany pretty much never spoke to me again. This is a very bad thing, though in the rest of it, there are some shining moments.

At several occasions, the cabbie tried to talk to us, which was fun. The girls would look at me, I would look at them, then I would nod a lot. It was like how a three-year-old would talk to their relatives at a family party. Yes. Yes. Club Casablanca. No. Not German. America. America.

Agua con gas is "water with gas," or the sparkling water Bethany wanted on the plane. Club soda, if you will. If you were to put your finger in it, not only would it look all deformed because of light refraction, it would get covered with bubbles.

Agua sin gas is "water without gas," or regular water. Straight from the tap stuff. If you were to stick your finger in it, nothing would happen, except for Meg slapping you because, "Eww! Your hands are dirty! They touch doorknobs!"

The funny thing about a foreign McDonalds is it's essentially American Mickey D's, circa 1989. Styrofoam containers, old straw wrappers, fried apple pie... all the same stuff, except 1989 McDonalds never had ABBA's 'Fernando' playing in Spanish. And this one had McEgg Rolls, the McPork sandwich, and beer. I had only one of these, instead settling on a McRib. Mmm, rat meat.

McEgg Rolls are tangy. They're also very small. That's it.

Later that night we all drank and threw stuff off our porch.

As good as dinner was, it planted a seed with our hosts. Later that night, we got a complaint call from the front desk about loud music. We did have the door open with the Leverkusen-Koln soccer match on, but from the best we can figure, it had to be all our table moving for dinner that got us. It set a bad precedent, but really, how long could it have taken for a resort full of elderly Brits to start blaming the young Americans for all their complaints?

But like a liquid Mars bar, it was disappointing. But not as disappointing as Jon Rea's night, featuring being hit on by prostitutes and finding two men engaged in oral sex.

   There are good times, and then there are great times.

February 25, 2005 - Frying Advice
   'Toine Time: It's not exactly Jordan wearing No. 45, but the return of Antoine Walker is actually going to make a few more people care about the Celtics again. This just has to happen ... especially if No. 88 fires off 24 points every night.

   I mean, it's the first Celtics game I've recorded in a while. Even if I do have no intention of watching it beginning to end, that counts for something. Now, they're just a step below the PBA Tour.

   More Reason To Hate Them: We just got another arm's length of snow in Whale City, with rumors of another multi-foot storm being hissed around offices across downtown. Meanwhile, SoCal is flooding, but even that is working out.

Last weekend, the whole of the Los Angeles basin looked and sounded like a sheet of corrugated tin roofing being pounded by rain, and the region absorbed the rain about as well as a sheet of tin. At times, every street in the shadow of the San Gabriels was a desert wash choked by a deluge, the current sucking at the curb as it ran for the ocean, miles away. In the aftermath, the streets have been scoured clean, but the sidewalks have silted up in the low spots. Fallen magnolia blossoms dam up pools of water along my walk to work.

For the last two months, the local news in Southern California has been about nothing but houses tumbling downhill and highways blocked by mudslides, about yellow tags and red tags and the threat of evacuation. But there's another piece of news here, whether the sun shines or not. It is the green of the hills. No one remembers this much rain, and no one remembers this much green.

Where the freeways cut through the low hills, there is a sudden sweep of prairie. It feels as if you could pull onto the shoulder, get out of your car and walk to Nebraska, knee-deep in spring grass with the broad sun on your back. But the real complexity of color emerges where the hills become involute, where hollows and canyons fall away from the highway toward some hidden termination.

   We still live here, and they now officially have everything.

   Well, except souls, but I think the proliferation of IN-N-OUT makes even that OK.

   • I never thought I would spend $109 at a BB&B, not even just on things that all sit in the borderless "Beyond."

   I never thought I'd fry catfish in my very own home 'home.'

   I never thought I'd say, "You know, Anchorman really isn't as good the fourth time."

   I already mentioned the part about recording the Celtics ... in and of itself not that weird, but with the rest of it, well out there.

   This is why I should never be left to my own devices on a Friday, even if I'm not really left to my own devices.

   Can I just say that I spent at least five minutes trying to decide on a pepper grinder? It's at moments like this where I really have to question if that counts as impulse buying, or if it's the sign of a greater problem.

   I know the answer ... I just don't want to admit it.

February 24, 2005 - Hold The Horchata
   The Latest Nerd Test: I scored a 28, though I have to question the validity of a test where the majority of that score likely came because I:

   -- remember the periodic table;
   -- was given a cracked copy of Photoshop once; and
   -- don't use Internet Explorer to browse the Internet.

   Course, when the question "On average, how long are you on a computer daily?" come up and makes you go, "Oh, wow. That is kind of a lot," maybe there's no point to this at all.

   Parody In Real Form: OK, so it's been a couple weeks since I first heard about this.

The film is the story of an undercover agent who, after failing to protect an important government scientist, learns the man's family is in danger. In an effort to redeem himself, he agrees to take care of the man's children only to discover that child care is his toughest mission yet.
-- why, it's The Pacifier, of course.

   This isn't an actual movie, right? The commercials are just part of some "Saturday Night Live" plot that exists outside the show's barriers ... there'll be some Web address that pops up and everyone will go to it only to hear "Fooled you!," as perfected in Spaceballs.

   This has to happen, doesn't it? Vin Diesel didn't essentially spin his xXx persona into a child care provider, did he? Especially when he bailed on the actual second xXx movie, yes?

   Next thing, you'll be telling Tommy Lee Jones really is doing a movie where he's a cheerleading coach with Cedric the Entertainer.

   • With only the saddest cell phone product in the Earth's history as an alternative:

Vivienne likes to be taken to movies and bars. She loves to be given virtual flowers and chocolates, and she can translate six languages if you travel overseas. She never undresses, although she has some skimpy outfits for the gym, and is a tease who draws the line at anything beyond blowing kisses.

If you marry her in a virtual ceremony, you even end up with a virtual mother-in-law who really does call you in the middle of the night on your cellphone to ask where you are and whether you have been treating her daughter right.

She may sound like a mixed blessing, decidedly high maintenance and perhaps the last resort of losers. But she is nonetheless a concept that cellphone system operators and handset manufacturers are starting to embrace.

-- Yes. Please sign me up for having a girlfriend that won't so much as vibrate in my pocket, but will make me feel all the other stuff. I really see the upside.

   let's just get this out of the way and never speak of it again.

Here's why I'd make a great intern: I'm trying to go to law school. To go to law school, I have to take the LSAT. I started "studying" the summer before my senior year of college, but I really just watched Red Sox games and when it came time to take the test, I had to push it back from the October test date to December. Once the Sox lost in heartbreaking fashion, I forgot why I got out of bed everyday and the December test date came and went, so I pushed it up to the February date. The Patriots won the Super Bowl again, though, so I pushed it to October again -- ALCS time. I've pushed it to February and now I have another Super Bowl.
-- Contestant 22, Matt Bank. Congrats. You're an idiot.

I grew up in Baltimore, but am now a senior at Bryant University in Smithfield, RI. Reading the Sports Guy's columns helped to not only introduce me to the New England sports scene and convince me to become a columnist for my school paper ...
-- Contestant 23, Justin Williams. Yeah, I thought I could do better too.

A lot has happened since I wrote that e-mail over three years ago. I've seen my hometown teams rack up more hardware than Tim Taylor on an ACE Shopping Spree ...
-- Contestant 24, Rich Levine. Bad line, but points for getting a job with "The Improper Bostonian," which is both excellent and free.

To put it simply ... I'm a girl ... I'm very attractive ... and I have the 2004-2005 season of NFL Countdown on tape and I would rather watch that (yes even the Mike Ditka segments) than cuddle with a guy any day of the week.
-- Contestant 25, Renee. Who the fuck saves tapes of NFL Countdown?

   Our relatively short, site-specific nightmare is over. What can I say ... I always finish what I sta

   Thanks, Contestant 12!

February 23, 2005 - Waiting A Day
   A Cause That Needs T-Shirts: Given the Web design of GreenwellForMVP.com, perhaps these aren't the people I want making outerwear. However, that does not change the fact I own not only the Donruss Diamond Kings card shown on the main page, but about half of the Mike Greenwell items floating around on eBay right now.

   Everyone had their favorite players growing up. Some people just never really got new favorite players is all.

   Stereotyping Is So Much Easier: For whatever reason, fate decided I would see ESPN2's "The Season: Vermont Basketball." Vermont, of course, being among my favorite college teams in the country due to their location and their being better than the men's basketball team of my alma mater that plays in the same conference.

   I learned many things as the boys introduced the camera to some of the girls they know and lost two of the three games the episode covered -- to BU and Nevada. Perhaps the most telling moment is after the win, at mighty SUNY-Albany, the team participated in their after-a-win tradition on the bus ride home.

   Sing along! And not just any sing along ... one prominently featuring some sort of remix of the Oompa Loompa song. Much as it will now be harder to dislike the lot of the Catamounts, I'm pretty sure Duke isn't singing the Oompa Loompa song on the bus ride back to Durham each week.

   Porn By Request: It was noted tonight that given as much attention as I paid to H-Bomb, the Harvard-produced "porn mag," I've more or less glossed over Boink, the BU-produced mag for which no air quotation marks are needed around the word porn.

   Even if I did review the Harvard Lampoon lampoon, thinking it was the real thing.

Oleyourryk and Anderson promise more nudity than Harvard delivered -- naughty bits and everything. Faces, too. (Many of the models in Harvard's magazine didn't want their faces shown. Something about wanting careers.) The Harvard editor says her magazine isn't porn, that it serves as "a rebellion against all of our porn-saturated popular culture." Boink has a different ethos.

"It is porn," Oleyourryk says. "There's nothing wrong with porn. Porn has such a negative connotation."

-- As the cool kids say, from The The WaPo.

   While the article above has perhaps the greatest line of the line written in it -- "What would you use -- 'cling'?" asks Christopher Anderson, 38, her co-founder. He is not a BU student but he is a man fond of photographing young people who wear no clothes. -- what's apparently notable about "Boink" is how underwhelming it is. The Free Press bashed it in an editorial saying it seemed to shun heterosexuals at the expense of the other minority sexualities, which drew this response, featuring LOTY Candidate No. 2.

It is fairly well-known that BU's student population is 60 percent female -- most of whom are straight -- and that there is a decent representation of gay males at our school, although many gay students might disagree. Based on those facts, I would say that straight men are disproportionately catered to in the first issue of Boink. In fact, more nude men should have been featured if we are going to base it on the majorities and minorities of "sexual preferences." After reading that portion of the editorial, I could not help but think it was written by a straight male who is too uncomfortable with his sexuality to look at another man's penis in a magazine.

   Course, this whole thing started with a release party busted up by the police, though it did feature LOTY Candidate No. 3, a personal favorite.

College of Arts and Sciences junior Gabriela Sehyoun said the magazine has widespread appeal. "The magazine will definitely be a success," she said. "I would buy it for $8. There's naked people in it."

   Clearly, this is a subject I should have gotten to before now. Though if I'm not going to the Store 24 and buying regular porn, I'm certainly not to pay $8 -- which I presume is more than regular porn is -- to feel even dirtier. Course, I'm not exactly the market, as I really do have no desire to look at another man's penis in a magazine.

   I have enough problems looking at my own, and I've known it for years.

   • As a nation, we are constantly needing to redefine irony. While I didn't see tonight's episode of The Simple Life: Interns, the Wire graciously moved some production stills that clearly mean we need to reprint our dictionaries yet again.

Breast Implants, Botox and Blondes
-- Breast Implants, Botox and Blondes. God Bless the USA.

   No one can ever say FOX doesn't know how to please an audience, even if they consistently prove they have no idea how to please an audience. You can't buy that kind of humor. Well, you can, but even with the payment it's way too expensive for most of us -- you try pricing hair transplant surgery and tell me how positive you feel afterward.

   In fact, there's probably a photographic representation of how you'd feel.

The Yankee Boys

New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, right, lifts teammate Derek Jeter off his feet as the two joke around during workouts at spring training on Wednesday in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

   But that would just be classless.

February 22, 2005 - What Professionalism?
   Clarification: Today I was asked what the point of all the posting about the intern contest was. Fortunately, the man in question provided the perfect answer.

   This outstanding story.

   Herein lies the problem with Bill Simmons -- just at the point you begin to think he really has blown his load, and his little to nothing left to offer as a 'sportswriter,' he writes a piece that makes you remember why his devolution is so infuriating in the first place. Even if the "You're getting more 13s and 14s than R. Kelly" blackjack desperately needs to be retired because it was never funny, the whole story is the kind of thing I'd put here and be proud of.

   Used to be these kind of stories happened all the time. Now, they happen just enough to maintain the rage.

   Not that it wouldn't be maintained anyway.

Picture this; you are sitting at your favorite bar in your home town. You and your two best friends are still hung over and are trying to piece together what the three of you did the night before all while preparing for the huge Sox game. Then the door opens and in walks this girl, she is wearing point shoes with spiky heels, she has got tight jeans on and a shirt that hangs off her shoulders. She takes off her sunglasses, shakes her hair, and walks right between and your buddy giving you a sweet smile. She goes up to the bar orders a glass of white wine.
-- Contestant 18, Marion Fox, who absolutely had me with her argument until we reach the point where a girl from Hoboken, N.J., starts talking about "sitting in the bleachers seats at Fennway [sic]." She apparently left out the part where she's cheering for the Yankees.

I am 25. ... I am an American and I love soccer. The first five episodes of American Idol are hysterical. The next ten: depressing. I miss the NHL. ... I have never seen "The Godfather" from start to finish. ... I will drive cross-country before I die. ... I played D-III tennis. ... I am not good at golf.
-- Contestant 19, Martin Locraft, who's a lot like me until the part where he attended The Catholic University of America and the part where his essay was entirely choppy sentences.

52 -- 000 100 010 -- 2 5 0
29 -- 200 202 00X -- 6 8 4

"That," my dad said as he tucked away his scorebook, "is the best part of the World Series." I had to agree.
-- Contestant 20, Lauren Silva, who succeeds where No. 18 did not. Even if her Dad does bring a scorebook to a baseball game, remember the rule ... "Real hot chicks don't need to announce directly that they're hot."

Name: Rebekah Lorenz
College: Harvard, 2002
-- Contestant 21, Rebekah Lorenz, who allowed me to recycle the Northeastern joke and got into Harvard at least partially because her name has an alternative spelling. There's a good chance I actually believe this.

   Don't worry, gang. There's only one more day of this to go, and then we can all forget it happened. Well, at least until six months from now, I get an angry e-mail from the Northeastern kid and make the equivelant of "fake doobie smoking" in type for four days.

   • How does one become motivated to TiVo Season Pass a TV show? Here's a good start.

"Every time you think about doing this, the natural question is, 'How many 'Law & Orders' is too many 'Law & Orders'? " [Dick] Wolf said. "My response is always the same: The audience will tell us."

   If anyone out there is looking for a way to feel better about themselves as people, I highly suggest lowering your personal expectations, then subscribing to get the New York Times e-mail newspaper every day. I mean, really ... it's all the benefits of reading the New York Times, without the troublesome newsprint and large stacks of paper you then have to get rid of.

   How else would I have known the British Royal Navy is among the most progressive military groups in the world when it comes to recruiting gays? Plus, when you read it in the New York Times, you don't even giggle at the thought of gays in a Navy!

   I do have to stress ... the lowering of your personal expectations is a key to this.

   If you're still an undergrad in college, don't worry. You'll get there soon enough.

   Just don't drop them too low. Like "Jose Canseco taking a lie detector test on pay-per-view" low.

February 21, 2005 - Warming My Hearts
   Quick Hits: You know the drill by now ...

I know that the first line in "The Karate Kid" is "Tell Uncle Louie the white wine is in the bottom drawer of the fridge." I know that, according to Ali, the referee at the All-Valley Championships reminds Mr. Miyagi of an uncle he has back in Tokyo.
-- Contestant 11, Pete Freedman, who's a good suck-up but may only think "college is a sham" because he chose Syracuse, a.k.a. Upper Tundra State.

6 Reasons Why I Should Be Your Intern:
1. I always finish what I sta
2. To my knowledge, I have never used "the cream" or "the clear."
3. I want to fetch Jim Rome's coffee in a few years.
4. I can read and write good.
5. I've been told I have a face for cyberspace.
6. This is exactly 400 words. Seriously. Count it.
-- Contestant 12, Matt Luckham, who somehow succeeded in creating an
entire list out of things either too easy, completely cliche or just not funny.
Though I did have to look up "horchata."

Now I am a hot chick with a journalism degree and no job.
-- Contestant 13, Theresa MacDonald, who ruined a good entry with A-Rod Syndrome: Real hot chicks don't need to announce directly that they're hot.

In the movie "Dream Lover," actor Cal Jammer asks Christy Canyon, "What makes you think you deserve this 'job'?" Canyon replies, "It's simple. I want it. I need it." An intense Jammer fires back, "BUT DO YOU DESERVE IT?!?"
-- Contestant 14, Anthony Mason, who not only ignores he's named after an NBA psycho, but leads with a quote from a movie no human should care about.

I work on the adult unit of a psychiatric hospital (gotta love that Psychology major), where just last night I got scratch marks on my hand restraining a female who had punched a coworker in the face. I have been called every ... name in the book by people convinced they are vampires, senators or Jesus. I have had to clean up vomit, urine and most recently "number two" when I found a Puerto Rican patient with no English abilities -- meaning I was the only one who could talk with her (gotta love that Latin American Studies major) -- rolling around in her own diarrhea. And you know what? I make an annual salary of roughly $23,000 before taxes and benefits.
-- Contestant 15, Jake Brill, I have nothing to say to. Even if he did pick one hell of a double major, anyone doing God's work nearly for free deserves a shot.

The way I figure, there are at least eleventy billion reasons why you should give me the job of next Sports Guy Intern, including some boring ones such as being the sports editor of the Wesleyan newspaper and interning for Aaron Brown at CNN.
-- Contestant 16, Gabe Spitzer, for being a smarmy a-hole who thinks anyone should care he's the sports editor of the newspaper at mighty Wesleyan. Am I overreacting? Quite possibly. Carrying this out isn't exactly simple.

I should be your intern because I am already pretty famous. You have already mentioned me ... (I was "The Meathead" on the WB's High School Reunion).
-- Contestant 17, Brian "The Meathead" Ahearn, whose victory would cause Simmons to get even worse. To quote a wise man, "I will not debate this."

   And, of course, the logical follow to that.

Hockey Lives On Without NHL
-- One of those classic columns where the thing I thought I was writing about at the start isn't the thing I'm writing about at the finish. The best part about these columns? They take about four hours to write.

   • Quoting onesself is never a good thing, but sometimes it helps tell a story.

Earlier today, I got a note from my friends at PartyPoker.com, telling me I could be the recipient of "an exclusive PartyPoker.com jacket" were I do play a given number of hands between now and Dec. 22. Given it's the holiday season, this got me thinking ... There's people out there who would want a jacket emblazoned with the logo of an online poker site?
-- Dec. 8, 2004.

   The jacket was mentioned a couple more times before the end of the year, although the fact I'm mentioning this should clue you in to the best part of the story.

The PartyPoker.com Jacket
-- Yeah, that's why the UPS guy was at the door.

   It's a nice jacket, from the famed "Dunbrooke Club Collection" ... and it'll be on eBay by next week unless one of you makes me an offer for it that I think exceeds it's "Perceived eBay Value," or PBV.

   Well, that or you make it clear you really, really want it. Bear in mind I'll also be throwing in another thing I've been planning on eBaying -- a free "Twill Gym Bag" with the Sketchers logo I got when I bought some shoes there a while back.

   Course, now you all think I've been obsessively playing online poker with all my holiday and tax return money, when in reality I probably haven't even opened the program since that Dec. 22 cutoff. Not that it matters, but perceptions being what they are.

   Let's just leave it at "I got sick of giving money to people I can't see and, thus, laugh at."

February 20, 2005 - Cans
   Hunter S. Thompson: Count me among the group that never really "got it." It's not that I ever disliked any of his work, but I had to read "'72" for a class in college on top of having seen his ESPN.com. I spent most of us not so much doubting whether any of it had actually happened, but why I should be so impressed. Because he uses Odd capitalization and talks in such a way you're not really sure whether to believe him?

   Course, the fact that his final column was about inventing a game called "shotgun golf," involving the very implement he apparently ended his life with, is an irony to be lost on no one.

The game consists of one golfer, one shooter and a field judge. The purpose of the game is to shoot your opponent's high-flying golf ball out of the air with a finely-tuned 12-gauge shotgun, thus preventing him (your opponent) from lofting a 9-iron approach shot onto a distant "green" and making a "hole in one." Points are scored by blasting your opponent's shiny new Titleist out of the air and causing his shot to fail miserably. That earns you two points.

But if you miss and your enemy holes out, he (or she) wins two points when his ball hits and stays on the green. And after that, you trade places and equipment, and move on to round 2.

   All we wait for now his the ham-handed tributes, done by a mainstream media who he generally made a career out of undressing. Glorious and awkward, much like everything else.

   Produce Kings: When you're McDonald's, you can't just start buying fruits and vegetables. You have to greatly shift the entire market.

Just as its staple burger-and-fries meals have made McDonald's the largest single buyer of beef and potatoes in the country, its new focus on fresh fruits and vegetables is making the company a major player in the $80 billion American produce industry. The potential impact goes beyond dollars and cents. Some people believe that McDonald's could influence not only the volume, variety and prices of fruit and produce in the nation but also how they are grown.

The company now buys more fresh apples than any other restaurant or food service operation, by far. This year, it expects to buy 54 million pounds of fresh apples -- about 135 million individual pieces of fruit. That is up from zero apples just two years ago. (This does not include fruit used to make juice and pies, which use a different quality of apple.) And it is not just apples: McDonald's is also among the top five food-service buyers of grape tomatoes and spring mix lettuce -- a combination of greens like arugula, radicchio and frisee. The boom has been so big and so fast that growers of other produce, like carrots and oranges, are scrambling for a piece of the action.

   I understand why McDonald's has been so successful, at least at the beginning. "Good" food fast. But really ... Starbucks got big because, among other things, their coffee was better than everyone else's.

   There is no one, no one, with a brain stem who should think McDonald's food is better than anyone else's in any category.

   The fact they could be shifting the produce paradigm when their "poor nutritional quality" is being answered with something called a Bacon Ranch premium salad should be frightening to all involved.

   Or, to stick with the day's theme, Frightening.

   • Not that I can find any evidence in my own paper or on the Internet, but apparently our ABA team folded.

   There was a time when I was planning on writing an update exclusively on the calamities befalling teams in the league -- in an informal poll I took on one night last week, there was a team whose coach had died during their opener, several who changed ownership in the middle of the season and several who changed their names in the middle of the season on top of the better-known Nashville Rhythm coaching fiasco.

   Trouble was, I couldn't pin down just what teams were actually still in the league. Heck knows we were having enough trouble covering the Frenzy ... it's not every day you hear, "Oh, our game got cancelled because the other team couldn't afford to make the trip" or "We couldn't play because someone broke the rim in the other team's gym and we couldn't get a replacement."

   So I guess we'll just have to stick with the stand-by ... ripping the Bill Simmons intern contestants.

The front door opened and in walked a guy in a Yankees hat, with an absolutely stunning girl on his arm. The guys in the room did the usual frown, straighten up, clench your fists reaction typical of a Yankee fan sighting in New England, but none of us were inspired enough to start something. We were, however, blatantly ogling his girl, who was a dead ringer for Winnie Cooper from the Wonder Years. That is, if Winnie Cooper was carrying a 40 of Coors Light and ever took off her winter coat to reveal a tube top.

Her boyfriend started talking to someone and she left to get a beer, so I saw my chance and followed her into the kitchen. I laid all the charm on this small town Maine chick that I had crafted over the years from flirting with New York City socialites at Vassar, and she absolutely ate it up. It was one of the most impressive showings in my history of hitting on chicks. Within 10 minutes we were hardcore flirting in the hallway, and soon occupied an upstairs bedroom, where I took out my frustrations for the Nation: for Tim Wakefield, for Todd Walker, for Mike Timlin, for Scott Williamson.

I later saw the girl leaving with the guy in the NY hat, and he was none the wiser.
-- Contestant 5, Joe Barkan, proving ... screw it. This story
is outstanding. I not have a horse in this race.

Age: 29

I hate when people misuse the word literally, so believe me when I say I literally spend five hours a day on-line and most of that time has to do with sports columns, fantasy leagues, celebrity gossip, The Onion, or Anna Benson's website. I am trying to get an MBA, but I am going to skip my marketing class tonight because there is the prospect of girl-on-girl action in the OC ... .and yes I'm fully aware that the end result will be a minor tease and brief contact that will do nothing for me, but I can NOT miss it. I still go to Jazzfest in New Orleans every year, if for no other reason than to have a forum to wear my "I love boobies" t-shirt.
-- Contestant 6, Chuck Bell, proving older
doesn't necessarily always mean wiser

So where does this leave me? Hoping that I will one day be able to complete the trifecta of life-fulfilling moments by getting some kind of job, in any capacity, with ESPN. If somehow this application ends up in the hands of Mel Kiper's assistant's assistant and a doe-eyed ignorant is needed to clean hair gel off of shirt collars, I'm your girl. And because I think the Sports Guy is one of the wittiest and knowledgeable contributors to the entertainment world ...
-- Contestant 7, Alexandra Treff, proving I'm not the
only one who no longer refers to Simmons as a "sports" writer.

I own an Ickey Woods' jersey and wear it at least once a week. ... I would under no circumstances split tens and would probably punch anyone at the table who would. ... I broke off my engagement when I discovered my bride-to-be did not like "Field Of Dreams."
-- Contestant 8, Jason Wainscott, who is either
exaggerating or is among the saddest people I've ever read.

The most underrated, unappreciated job in all of professional sports is the stadium music guy. Not only is he responsible for managing the day to day musical whims of 25 different players, but he has to do so while pleasing fans ages 5 to 95. How do I know, well I've done it.

When Ralph Macchio is in attendance and is flashed on the score board are you ready with "You're The Best Around"?
-- Contestant 9, Dennis DeMarco, proving that apparently
all you really have to do to get the man's ear is mention "Karate Kid."

I am a versatile linguist with a pair of 36C's and a love for all things athletic and classic TV reruns. As an aspiring model and a senior at Suffolk University in Boston, I have my finger on the pulse of the sports world and today's pop culture. ... As much as I was hoping to land that coveted job at the Hooters on Friend St. and cater to a bunch of drunks wearing Mark Blount jerseys, I would prefer to spend my days toiling for you for the same meager wages. If you throw in one of those Celtics dresses that doubles as a ghetto prom dress I'd be willing to work for free.

I've always wanted to visit LA, and I figure we could both benefit from this internship as I could begin my career as a Hollywood Starlet and you could become rich and famous as my agent. Just think "Entourage". Well Billy, I hope we can do business and good luck in your search for an internette.
-- Contestant 10, Emily Gamelin, whose entire argument really does appear to be, "Hey, look! I have boobs! Pick me!" [Bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce.]

   Admittedly, some of these are harder than others, but I consider the payoff worth it -- either I prove I can still take shots at people I don't know with few consequences, or one of the contestants ends up here.

   Why I want that, I have no idea, but the idea seems nice for the time being.

February 19, 2005 - It's Not Totally Iced
   Boston University 2, UMass-Amherst 1: Thanks to some fine work from our friends in the state university system, BU now will have no one to blame but themselves should they finish any lower than second in Hockey East. Of course, they were eighth last year when they advanced to the FleetCenter, but this is 21st-century New England sports -- jinxes and cosmic retribution only comes into play if you've been here a really long time.

   I do have to admit, and I'm not just saying this to be nice to somealumni, I do feel a little bad for the Minutemen -- 1-10-1 since New Years thanks mainly to fluke injuries. Just when it looked like they were building a really successful program ... the reasons behind the success realized it and booked for a league that now might not be not having a season after all.

   Though really, I can't feel too bad. Thanks to Merrimack, the 1-19-1 gift that keeps on giving, everyone gets to make the playoffs this season.

   I just wish I could remember who the one win wa ... um, never mind. Although, technically, they did also beat Providence in winning the Coffee Pot contested with Holy Cross and Union at The Dunk in Providence. So the Minutemen aren't the only charity organization giving to North Andover this winter.

It's Magic Hour For Invitees
-- More than you ever wanted to know about Josias Manzanillo. Why? Because given I'm not in Florida, I have to hit with something you're not getting anywhere else.

   • In rewatching Friday night's game, Chris Bourque's shorthanded goal was made more impressive given UMass goalie Gabe Winer could not for the life of him figure out how the puck had gotten by him, but was also made less impressive because play-by-play man Dave Shea thought it was Brad Zancanaro who scored on the rush. That's a bit of writer's license, though ... it was an awesome goal regardless.

   As was the game-winner tonight, which I didn't get to see until we got back to New Bedford because I was listening in the car on the drive into Boston. Just a brutal one-timer on a deal from behind the net that no one was stopping.

   They were actually both very pretty. Kenny Roche's goal, plus the first by Dan Spang -- ill-advised pass in front of the net, stolen and just blasted by from the between the circles. Of course, you likely don't care about any of this, but the rest of the night is probably not much better unless you were there.

   Vito was there, as was Elmer. None of us had hockey tickets, which is how I learned the hockey broadcast is on 590 AM, "Boston's Leading Christian Radio Station". This is good, because while I could not find anything about Bernie Corbett and the excellent three-man booth they run for Terrier games, I did learn about Jesus.

   Nothing against Jesus, of course, but this was more what I was after. One of those stories that was so well done, I remembered reading it when I was an undergrad and went and sought it out.

   Course, the author of it is now the media relations coordinator for the Red Sox, so it stands as more proof talent does get rewarded.

BU 3 - 0 UMass-Amherst
Dad was probably proud ... and tired from signing all those autographs.

@ Mullins - 2/18/05
1 (10)
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3 (25)
0 (10)
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0 (29)

Read the recap on Hockey East Online.

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

   • There's something nice about sitting in a foreign arena in a BU jersey, while your girlfriend sits next to you in UMass one. It's the kind of thing that NESN would put on the air, which for all I know they would have if we hadn't been sitting on the same side as the cameras -- at least two people brought it up as we were walking around, and there may have been a third if that's what that guy was stammering about.

   I suppose I should preface all this by saying the Minutemen have been so beset by injuries, they've taken to playing an experimental European offense never before tried in Div. 1 hockey. They have no centers left, so really, it's their best option. That said, it was very quickly clear they were not winning -- the game was close, but when you take a penalty 10 seconds in and give up a goal on the ensuing power play, it makes an already small and quiet crowd that much quieter.

   This was UMass's third-annual "White Out Game," where they give everyone white T-shirts to appear awesome on the TV broadcast. Whether it be the fault of the three-day weekend or not, tonight's attendance? 4,558. Mullins Center capacity? 8,389. That's barely half, people -- almost a Maroon Out in a building that seems to eat sound to begin with.

   So all night, I could not shake the feeling I was watching an exhibition game. Given there were all of maybe one hundred Terrier fans who made the trip -- and I wasn't exactly in a position to start announcing any opposing suckitude -- the first goal sounded like nothing. Not like a high school game, not like practice, like nothing happened.

   Which, again, is probably for the best. It's always good to occasionally act like you've been there before, and BU has -- 14-2-1 all-time at Mullins, 18-5-3 in the game after winning the Beanpot and 36-4-1 in the series overall.

   Thanks, Republican.

   Obviously, the Minutemen have trouble generating offense without a center, so there weren't a lot of non-power play chances on John Curry worth worrying about -- the game had several earmarks of a maddening non-win for a while. However, it was clearly a showcase for Chris Bourque, who was out for the two Minnesota games I saw in January.

   Let's just say the best part of the NHL never returning, if that does in fact happen, is it means he might stay at Agganis for a full four seasons.

   I already knew we were dealing with a talent from having seen him on TV, but in person puts a whole new spin on it. Considering he's a freshman, he's legitimately scary ... if he's not already the best player on the team, he will be by the middle of next season should he stay healthy. Never mind that BU executed the finest power play I may have ever seen any BU team execute tonight -- they didn't score, but they were all over the UMass end for a full minute before some infraction I couldn't discern brought a face-off out of the zone -- but the shorthanded goal Bourque scored to put the game away was as nice a play as I've seen since I was a student. Skating in, getting UMass's Gabe Winer sprawling before backhanding it up over him.

   Yeah, and the slapshots from the point -- the first tipped in, the second on its own -- weren't bad neither.

   All in all, a good night. Secured in third place by four points, with a little more help from Lowell tonight, BU could be tied for first (having played one more than UNH) by weekend's end and have fate in their hands -- two of their final four league games are with the Wildcats.

   So that's how I ended up participating in the Great Guinness Toast, even if I did have to ask for the free T-shirt. And it's not as though I asked, but really ... when pints are $2, should I be in any condition to be askng for anything by myself?
February 18, 2005 - Drink The Tar
   Return of the Sports Guy Intern Contest: The nice part about openly tracking this is we're clearly dealing with a Web-savvy group of people -- if I start taking wild, sort-of warranted shots at people, there's a good chance they'll find it and end up here taking wild, sort-of warranted shots at me.

   It's an Internet slap fight, and to paraphrase the great Fark, winning an Internet slap fight is akin to winning a gold medal ... yeah. Tasteful bunch.

   Therefore, despite their being some truth to it all, and it giving someone one heck of an opportunity, the written reasons why I'm glad I made my apathetic choice.

You ask for an intern, I give you salvation.

... most important, the Intern should be an extension of yourself (check ... I will explain). By "extension," I do not mean someone who kisses your butt or shamelessly tries to mimic your writing style, but rather, someone who truly appreciates the subtleties of your column ...

In an ESPN interview, Mike Vick was once asked to pick between Tupac and Biggie, and chose Biggie. I was catatonic. My exact words were, "I'm going to pretend that never happened." You wrote almost the exact same quote in your column the next day. This is important. When you listed Walsh/McKay as one of the greatest duos in modern history, I understood that it was not a joke.
-- Contestant 1, Kevin Cott, proving the catch-all
of "popular culture" doesn't necessarily mean "good."

L.T. my childhood idol, once told me to "F" off. I was 11 at the time.

I was 19-0 with the Colts in Super Tecmo Bowl.

I was on Wa-Wild and Crazy Kids in 1992. I threw toilet paper on Omar Gooding and Donny Jeffcoat. Seed the kid. C'mon. Seed the kid all day.

-- Contestant 2, Mike McManus, proving people can't just like
Tecmo Super Bowl, and that URI is right with BU as a Long Island University extension campus.

Despite being an unemployed recent college grad my DVD collection has 143 volumes and has cost me well over a thousand dollars. This collection features: "Bachelor Party", "Big Trouble in Little China" and "Revenge of the Nerds 2".
-- Contestant 3, Jim Regnier, proving
fiscal responsibility is a lost art.

Name: Justin Rebello
College: Northeastern University (2005)
-- Contestant 4, Jusin Rebello, proving marijuana
does help you write creative, funny application essays.

   That's a good start. Fare thee well, everyone. With talent, charisma and a little luck, you too can soon be writing a sports column made up primarily of a WNBA question you already answered, verbatim, several months ago and discussion of the relative pros and cons between 90210 Classic and New 90210.

   You know it's bad when I remember your good old days.

   • Obviously, I'm not one much for rumors, and she "is tired of rumors starting" and "sick of being followed," but a credible source has passed on a piece of information I feel I should get out there. Quite simply, it could change the entire landscape of Massachusetts ... probably not for the better as much as the drunker, but still change it.

   Apparently, the oft-mentioned certain Hollywood starlet will be heading to college in the fall, and her college of choice will be the one, the only, the Boston University.

   It's a good thing they've been doing a lot of construction work at Fenway Park in the past few years ... with the throngs of paparazzi, hangers-on and out-and-out stalkers who'll be heading to Lansdowne Street on a nightly basis, the old yard is surely going to take a beating. Never mind a puking.

   As an alum, I am immediately demanding the DFP station a writer with the CHS at all times ... I want this tracked. We could be dealing with the greatest thing to happen to BU's cool factor since the installation of cable allowed the school to socially move into 1992. It also works well for her. After all, if she wanted to go to college just to drink, she'd have chosen to go to BC.

   Obviously, this is all hearsay, but if people thought Agganis Arena would be a new, valuable recruiting tool ...

February 17, 2005 - Standards?
   Sadly, I Don't Have $3,000 To Waste: A few days old, but since these auctions are still going on, this is still newsworthy.

One day after the Terriers won their 26th Beanpot title on Monday, the FleetCenter was nowhere to be found. Boston University had acquired a single-day naming right to the arena Tuesday, replacing the 10-year-old FleetCenter with a new name: TerriersCenter.

"We decided whoever won the Beanpot" would get the naming rights, said Courtney McIlhenny, a BU alumna and spokeswoman for the arena.

The FleetCenter is auctioning off single-day naming rights to the venue on eBay. Interested bidders can name the center after themselves, friends or family members. Bids start at $25 and go toward a "non-profit private foundation that benefits outreach initiatives focused on children and families in the Greater Boston area," according to a statement on fleetcenter.com.

   Sadly, my attempts to be the historian for this pointless, blatant cash grab -- even if it is a charity benefitting blatant cash grab -- have already failed, as I missed Thursday's naming before it swtiched over.

Mon., Feb. 14 -- KurtCenter -- Free
* Make-A-Wish child who'd been given Bruins season tickets gets arena as replacement. *

Tue., Feb. 15 -- TerriersCenter -- Free
* Name granted due to Beanpot victory the previous night. *

Wed., Feb. 16 -- GoldenPalace.com Center -- $35,099
* Celtics played Memphis Grizzlies. *

Thur., Feb. 17 -- ??? Center -- $3,050
* No events. *

Fri., Feb. 18 -- ThePetpal.com Center -- $3,551
* Disney-On-Ice. *

   Delaware North should be rather miffed, however ... Noted Marketing Whores Golden Palace have a whole Web site devoted to their wacky promotional events, but it's Human Body Advertising Many, FleetCenter 1.

   Though in hindsight, that Celtics-Grizzlies game would have been a nice evening out -- not only was it a good game, it looks as though it might have been one of the trainwreck events of our winter.

   Starlet Talk: Merely to offer equal time, there are some photos that go with this that moved on the Wires tonight. You could find them by going here, though the link isn't going to last forever.

   They were brought to my attention is all. I'm merely a vessel for my people.

   • For the first time since Monday's paper, I won't have some sort of article in the S-T. This is probably a good thing, since if I keep pushing myself, I'm just going to run out of things to say that much faster.

   However, to fill the space leftover here, dumb Internet videos.

Gyrating before a Webcam to the techno beat of a Romanian pop song without ever leaving his chair, Gary Brolsma's uncanny timing in a video he calls 'Numa Numa Dance' has Web watchers cracking up around the globe and cramming the e-mail boxes of their friends with links to the cyber hit.

Featured Thursday on NBC's 'Today' show, the video has already gotten more than a million hits on one Web site, according to one report. On MSNBC.com, "searches for this kid absolutely dominate our site search today," according to producer Will Femia.

Brolsma, 19, of Saddle Brook, N.J., performs his hit to the strains of O-Zone's "Dragostea Din Tei," a song that would be titled "Love Among the Linden Trees" in English. The 'Numa Numa' title of the video is from a line in the song.

"You wonder for a second when you're watching it, is this for real," Joe Levy of Rolling Stone magazine told Matt Lauer of the 'Today' show. "Is it a phenomenon? Oh, yeah. Are people richly amused? Oh yes, very much so." So much, pointed out Lauer, that Brolsma's handiwork made VH-1's 'Best Week Ever' list.

   The video is here, though I can't seem to find the memo that said any show as awful as Best Week Ever was a good choice to be society's 21st-century mile marker.

   I'm qualified to be on 'Best Week Ever.' I have a Web site and a writing job, a few people who are not family or friends know who I am, and I've said something funny at least once in my life. Give me an agent, and that's all I need.

   Well, I could pick up some "I sucked on a moving muffler" teeth just for fun.

February 16, 2005 - An Easy Sell
   Starlet Talk: As noted by Sly, perhaps it's a good thing I won't be going to New Orleans in April for this ... the city might ruin my career, too.

Perhaps the great early 21st century sage Tara Reid put it best in a recent interview with the New York Post, when the questioner linked her and Lohan as dipsomaniacal soul mates. Said the famed breast-baring tippler Reid: "Lindsay Lohan is way more wild than I was when I was her age. Don't put me with her; I don't want to be dragged into her s - - -."

There you have it, folks. When Tara Reid says you're partying too much, surely it's time for some self-reflection.

   Of course, one person headed to the city for the above-linked purpose is already sharing gossip-column space with the CHS, as she's getting a doll made in her image and he's going to be on "Super Karate Monkey Death Jeopardy!" with Ken Jennings. A place where he could win piles of money and become noticed by ... the Hollywood elite.

   Crazy? Possibly. All I know is if you don't get the "NewsRadio" reference above, Joe Rogan is probably happy you're not the one who makes game show hiring decision at NBC.

   The Streak Continues: I will be keeping my copy of "Juiced" at work for the forseeable future, because many of my coworkers in need of a laugh have taken to simply picking it up, opening to a random page and reading a quote aloud. I don't think it has failed yet.

Subject: Juiced
Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2005
From: "Grace _______" <___@comcast.net>
To: jcouture at s-t dot com


   Interesting read on the Canseco book, but what he doesn't mention, is the effect it has on the brain, or ones mentality. I remember how he beat his wife, and was arrested, and he chased her with his car and tried to either kill her or maim her. He had more brushes with the police than a policman's clothing brush had. It was obvious to this 'female's' observation, that for decades the bulk on some of these 'home-run' hitters was due to steroids. I was lucky to be around as a kid, when Lou Gerigh, Ruth, Foxx, the Boston braves, and they were the true athlete ball players. If you didn't witness one of Rabbit Maranville's 'vest-ball' basket catches you missed a thrill. He taunted a pitcher one time, by just standing in the batter's box, and didn't take the bat off his shoulder, and really 'teed off' the pitcher, who just pitched three strikes right down the middle. Funny to watch, and a great crowd pleasure. I think that Canseco, even though some truth may be in his book, is a mental case. I wonder how fried his brain is from these drugs.

   If I'd had more time than the two hours there was between finishing the book and writing the column, I'd probably have done some of the fact-checking that Jeff Merron did. But given I'm thinking such stuff is somewhere between "nitpicking" and the word that it actually is, all I'm going to say I'm getting a T-shirt made -- Mike Greenwell, 1988 AL MVP.

Canseco was a unanimous winner of the 1988 MVP award after hitting .307 with 42 homers, 124 RBI and 40 stolen bases for Oakland. Greenwell hit .325 with 22 homers, 119 RBI and 16 stolen bases.

"I did it legit," said Greenwell, a lifetime .303 hitter. "I did it with what God gave me, and not what a drug store gave me. And that means something to me."

   "Whiny and irrelevant" ... pre-teen Jon Couture didn't think so!

Some Answers Should Start Trickling In
-- In honor of pitchers and catchers, the S-T's "Red Sox preview" in the loosest sense of the word. The third straight day with a column, which I'm sure would be some kind of extremely unimpressive record if I cared to look it up.

   • As you're well aware, the NHL cancelled the season today. Ironic, then, that the following graphic is currently on the main page at NHL.com:

-- They sure do ... just sometimes.

   Of course, the only reason I was on NHL.com was to check on post-cancellation hockey jersey sales, which of course now seem not to exist because the new NHL Shop has replaced the oft-awesome "Fan Values" section with the bullshit "NHL Outlet," which expects me to believe there's all of six heavily discounted items on the sale shop for a league that just cancelled their entire season because they're run more poorly than most beer softball leagues.

   Not that I'm filling with rage or anything.

   At least sort of on that note, I was sending an e-mail to the lady from the office tonight, and in it I used the word "friggin'" -- something to the effect of "UMass, where you and all the friggin' rednecks went to college." You know, endearing love drivel shared between those in the post-Valentine glow.

   The work e-mail program -- Eudora's Stolen Mail 0.3 or something -- gives me a warning before I try to send the note, informing me "most people would be offended by the content of this message."

   I'm not sure what's more amazing. That this hasn't presented itself before -- though the work account is rarely used for personal stuff -- or that I nearly changed the e-mail before I sent it because a two chili pepper warning told me to.

February 15, 2005 - The Other Juicing
   Things My TiVo Taped For Me: It's back, and all it took was the box's inner workings analyzing my frequent recording of things on The History Channel and deciding I'd like the historical documentaries on another network.

   EWTN, with the latest offering "The Two Suitcases: St. Giuseppina Bakhita."

   Who knew they had so much live programming? There may even be a "This Week In Church," which really doesn't sound real.

   Connecting The Dots Of The Duck: In response to the trophy column:

Subject: Red Sox trophy
Date: Wed, 16 Feb 2005
From: "Robin ____" <____@juno.com>
To: jcouture at s-t dot com

   Dear John,

   Thanx for the article on the red sox trophy making the rounds to our little corner of MA. I wanted to give you a bit of back story on the duck w/ the jester's hat.

   Her name is Lucky, and she was a bit difficult to come by. A friend ended up emailing Will Bullas the artist to ask where we could obtain a couple ducks. Due to the beanie baby craze, production of the ducks were cut short. He happened to have 2 left in his office that were used for promotional purposes.

   He mailed out 2 ducks, plus 2 art books, signed, and some stationary AT NO CHARGE!

   To thank him for his generosity, I have taken photos of Lucky on all her adventures, and mailed him photos of Lucky in Alaska, Hawaii, San Francisco, Canada, etc. . . .

   I also have taking celebrity photos of Lucky at various conventions, mostly sci-fi over the last 3 years. You can view some of Lucky's photos at her website (yes the duck has a website!)


   A friend of mine has put this together for me. We need to update and add a lot more photos that were taken over the last 8 months. To be sure, when this film is developed I will be adding photos of Lucky w/ the coveted Red Sox trophy, as well as sending Mr. Bullas a photo of his ducks latest adventures.

   Robin ______
   I'm NOT 40-something...I'm 39.95 plus shipping & handling!

   Perhaps the best part of this is, when I noted the duck being place against the trophy, I knew writing about it would lead to this letter. The Web site is just pure icing.

   A Link For One Person: Erik Sunny, it seems only right that you read this.

What drew this unlikely assortment of people together was a chance to compete at Warhammer, popular in Britain, Europe and Australia for more than 20 years but known in the United States mainly to its numerous cultish devotees. In a culture dominated by virtual diversions and mass marketing, Warhammer has acquired an ardent following by being tactile and mysterious, using no advertising at all. Games Workshop, the British company that makes it, has licensed two video-game versions, but it is usually played with three-dimensional figures by opponents who face each other across a real-life table.

The armies consist of tiny metal and plastic models, measured in millimeters. The soldiers, often nasty-looking creatures operating arsenals of weapons, have gross or sanguinary names, like Snotlings, Tyranids and Chaos, but they are assembled by their generals with glue and then painted with delicate brushes, often with obsessive precision.

   Between this and the story on lesbian makeouts for sweeps week, the Times is clearly reaching out to the bad asses among us. That, or they're sick of The Gates -- can I read an audience or what?

   • I was asked today by a coworker how I could have let Monday go by with no mention of BU winning another Beanpot. Well, after 26 in 53 years, we may have to start debating whether the Terriers winning counts as news anymore.

   Though they do keep getting within one of winning exactly half the Beanpots even contested -- last year was the third time lately, I think -- and failing. Sadly, it may give the opposition hope.

Before the game even started, the BU section started the "1988" chant, referring to the last NU Beanpot Championship.

   We must always remember history, especially since I have a fear Chris Bourque will become it after his freshman season. I only hope his father has instilled in him the importance of a superfluous college education.

Story Of 'Juiced' One Well Worth Telling
-- I bought it, read it in a day and here you are. I'll say it right now ... it's better than you probably think it is, and depending on your financial situation, it might even be worth the $20. Or you could just ask for my copy on loan.

   Was he blackballed from baseball? I don't know, nor can I really say I care. I do now know, however, that growth hormone may shrink your berries, but it may actually help your twig.

   Austin Powers effect added by me, of course.

February 14, 2005 - Oh Yes. Love.
   From Sunday: As previously mentioned, whoop de doo.

Subject: Sunday's article
Date: Sun, 13 Feb 2005
From: "Anne __"
To: jcouture at s-t dot com

   Again, good work. And you are right to tuck it to the UMASS powers that be! Everyone should be allowed to get next to the trophy. I only hope the folks in my town have applied for time to have it here. Anne _________.

   Analytical Injury: There's an essay in The Bill James Handbook about a new stat he's created -- Team Efficiency. After a long explanation of it, and the team's with the highest and lowest numbers since the '50s, James writes this:

Most of you reading this article have probably had the thought that much of what causes "inefficiency" or "efficiency" in this way is actually just luck -- therefore you could could probably make money by betting on the teams which were highly efficient one year to decline the next year, and vice versa. Yes, that's true; there is a lot of luck here, and "efficiency" does have a relatively low rate of persistence.

Relatively low, but not zero.

   I'm not sure exactly what this means that James spends 12 pages discussing it to come up with that, but let's just say it's a good thing the rest of the book features more than enough numbers to put me in a coma at some point this season.

   • I met up with an old friend today.

Trophy Trio
-- Yes, I know these men.
Yes, photographer Andy Gallagher is choking me.
No, Jon Darling is not actually 3-foot-7.

Sox Championship Icon Takes On Life Of Its Own
-- I'll be honest ... I'm not exactly pleased with how this came out. Covering what was essentially five different events, there's a lot of very good stuff that got left out simply because of the limited space I had. It's probably still fine, but I'd definitely go another route if I had it to do all over again.

   As for the above, I'm sticking to my guns -- no disrespect to anyone, but Doug Mirabelli made a much better photo companion, and Busch Stadium can't hold a candle to the gym at the Old Hammontown School.

   Though the kids at the Old Hammondtown School were among the world's greatest interview subjects ... I just don't they don't actually chop off their hands and sell them on eBay. They totally wouldn't get what they're worth with the market flooded and all.

February 13, 2005 - Twice In One Night
   Part of The Problem: Upon seeing Jose Canseco appear on "60 Minutes" ... if the shot of him on the teaser display is a current one, and his biceps really are still that big?

   Let's just say it wasn't the biggest anti-steroid piece ever done.

   The Grammys: To keep it brief, a point discussed earlier this evening.

   With their Lifetime Achievement Grammy received tonight, Led Zeppelin now combines with the Rolling Stones to have two awards.

   Toto and Christopher Cross have a combined eight. Throw in Bobby McFerrin? Eighteen.


   • I got a letter from the baseball column, but it'll run Monday ... closing a bar on a night when the Commissioner's Trophy is awaiting you at a quarter to nine in the a.m.

   Look on the bright side. Given two hours, this post was totally going introspective. Now I get a day to stew and make fun of myself, which really works out better for everybody.

February 12, 2005 - Vito, However, Won't
   Bowling Results!: On a day where I didn't shower until somewhere in the vicinity of 8 p.m., results from a night of bowling, pizza and Sam Adams at the newly renovated Bradley Bowl in Windsor Locks, Conn.

1st -- Cooch -- 127 avg. (High: 152)
2nd -- Charlie -- 113 (138)
3rd -- Steph -- 104.7 (110)
4th -- Jen P. -- 88.3 (102)
5th -- Matty Cooch -- 70.1 (86)

   Please note several things:

   -- To me, bowling is high among the top Saturday night activites for many reasons, most notably being it crosses the positives of a bar with physical exertion, competition and ready access to air hockey. Plus, bowling alley smell is far superior to random bar person smell, which does not happen everywhere, but probably happens more in Western Mass.

   --- Yes, I did just list "physical exertion" as a positive.

   -- The following things were also written on the business card on which the scores were recorded: "Jon's my hero!," "Jon loves me more than his luggage!," "You're a pussy, but Jen loves you anyway," and "It is nice luggage, though." You'll never guess which one I wrote.

   -- Charlie beat in the first two of our three games tonight, giving him a 24-pin lead going into the final game. However, I then proceeded to offer him all the money in my wallet if he beat me again, at which point I won, 152-86.

   This, sadly, is how I drive myself.

Whirlwind: It's Been A Busy Offseason For The Sox
-- Welcome to my yet-to-be-named Sunday baseball column. Please note it's equal to a six-page essay, and it's not all Red Sox -- each week, it'll be a Sox header, with "other" to follow.

   Please also note it'll get a lot better when the players are in the same state that I'm writing from.

   • I have to admit that this does not excite as much as the umbrellas did in California and Japan back in the '80s -- least I think it was the '80s, since I remember seeing it on Today and the only place I watched that was at my grandmother's house.

   Course, 'excite' might be the wrong word. I just remember this shot of a cow grazing beneath this giant umbrella and wondering if he was going to start eating it. I was a dumb kid.

   While I will not be making a visit to New York to view "The Gates," it has nothing to do with this cavalcade of positive reviews.

"`It's art," pronounced 8-year-old Mikaela Simon, of Shiloh, N.J., as she sketched the scene in a notebook on the museum roof.

Ali Naqui had to be dragged to the unveiling by his fiancee, but then was smiling by the time he joined the crowd. ``It's a bit insane, but that's why everybody is here,'' he said.

"It's a waste of money, but it's fabulous,"' said [New York fourth-grader] Shakana Jayson. ``It brings happiness when you look at it.''
-- Fourth-graders really talk like this?

Broadcast news writer Dan Gura, a 27-year-old New Yorker, said: "I don't get it. I could go to the Home Depot (store) and look at drapery and curtains."
-- Thanks, Reuters. I love that the NYC newsman
is the one to shoot holes in the entire endeavor.

   Not even I'm that cold. Course, I have faith Boggie will investigate on my behalf.

February 11, 2005 - Church
   The Wisdom Of Mom: Thanks to all who offered wisdom teeth advice ... let there be no doubt I'll be getting the hip-hop-happiest drugs they have available and encouraging the surgeons to save all the pieces of my teeth so I can get them made into a necklace I can wear while I'm surfing. It's totally something they would do.

   Of course, the most fun advice came from my mother, who I will unequivocally state is merely looking out for my best interests. To her, wisdom teeth removal is a racket akin to the scale of a shirt to go with your sweater or super-sizing at McDonalds, so I was naturally being forced into having things chiseled out of my head simply because they were coming in at a 45-degree angle.

   I forget exactly what she said when I brought up the words "preventitive medicine" and "I saw the decay in the X-ray," but it was one of those times that I'd imagine only comes up in the Cooch household -- love and logic, sorta coming together, but sorta at odds at completely the same time.

   Well, maybe it comes up elsewhere. Probably just not as much, though.

   Lent: It's no secret to anyone I'm not exactly the pious type -- I have no problem with religion, but I did tell someone tonight that they should pick up a Bible -- it's good to balance out the uneven legs of furniture.

   At the Catholic high school in the town next to Whale City -- Bishop Stang, whose students are always easy to identify after school because of the uniforms -- the messageboard out by the street reads, "Lent: A Commitment To Do More." A noble gesture, and I'm not taking shots -- there's a good chance I'd have ended up there had I grown up on SouthCoast, given my father went to a Catholic high school and I could probably have earned varsity in non-golf and non-tennis sports.

   It just struck me as quirky ... if the rep of Lent is to not doing something -- no-meat Fridays, no-swear anydays, no sex for 40 days -- shouldn't that qualify as doing less? When did the act of not doing something count as doing something more than you were before? Should people really get a cookie for being able to pass on cookies?

   Hey, it's only an observation. Jerry Seinfeld has made millions on little more.

   • Pretty much the entire Celtics team will be appearing at the Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday, part of some uber showoff connect with the other half of the state event called Celtics Day. They timed it just right too, as tonight the Celtics won to stay in first place and get above the .500 mark (26-25) for the first time since November.

   This will still not make me want to go pay money to stand in line and get Raef LaFrentz's autograph. Though I am a little concerned about there being no information on Al Jefferson ... I know he's young, but I'd imagine he still knows how to sign his name.

February 10, 2005 - Piece And Quiet
   Girls Hoop: Old Colony 45, Tri-County 41: That's two high school games covered in approaching three years, if you're scoring at home. There's a lot I enjoy about covering high school games, not the least of which being I'm responsible for all my own stats -- even using the scorebook for totals at the end gives me the willies.

   For whatever reason, I found myself cheering for the visitors. In hindsight, I think I wanted as exciting a game as possible ... which I more or less got. Considering my other high school coverage was a 39-0 football game, I'm quite pleased.

   Old Colony is located in Rochester, which isn't exactly an urban stronghold -- the school is so out of the way, I had to call the paper as I was driving out there because I didn't believe my own directions. Despite that, the significance of this game meant the papers that cover both schools were in attendance -- ourselves and the Attleboro Sun-Chronicle, which has one of the worst Web sites I've ever seen.

   Now, I was our reporter. Our photographer was this man, a good friend who I drove out to Pittsburgh with for the AFC title game. The Attleboro reporter was this guy, the Pats' beat writer and quite possibly the paper's sports editor.

   So at this high school basketball game played in the forests of Rochester, Mass., there were three journalists who, just 2.5 weeks prior, were covering the AFC Championship Game.

   If you can't enjoy that juxtaposition, I don't think we can be friends.

   Today's Good Thing That's Actually Bad For You: Juice!

Soda in a sippy cup? Most parents wouldn't dream of it. But researchers say that when a baby's bottle or cup is filled with juice -- even the 100 percent, all-natural, no-sugar-added stuff -- parents might as well be pouring Pepsi.

"All of these beverages are largely the same. They are 100 percent sugar," Dr. David Ludwig, an expert on pediatric obesity at Children's Hospital Boston, said recently. "Juice is only minimally better than soda."

In 2001, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued guidelines saying fruit juice should not be given to children younger than 6 months, and that there is no nutritional reason to give it to them before their first birthday. After that, juice is optional, though the group favors whole produce and urges parents to limit juice to 4 to 6 ounces a day for children up to 6 years old, and to no more than 8 to 12 ounces for older children. Experts say pudgy children should avoid juice altogether.

   Their answer, of course, is to give the kids water and have them eat actual fruit ... it's more filling. Personally, I'll be going the other direction and just giving the kids soda -- Diet Coke never killed anybody.

   Please don't lose the irony of the above statement in a few minutes.

   When The NYT Attacks Pop Culture: Sometime Thursday night, America gasped when The OC finally got on with it and had Marisa kiss whoever the hell she kissed ... the last time I watched the show, she was in the psychiatrist's waiting room and getting hit on by that guy who turned out to be a loser.

   I'm so a year behind.

   While I'll wait for the inevitable LiveJournal post featuring the letters "OMG" to fill in the details, it's nice to see the New York Times tackling what's really important ... lesbian makeouts as ratings gold.

In all, it was a grueling episode of "Wife Swap," and one not likely to win the show new viewers. Hostile prejudice is a downer, and not a hallmark of a great sweeps stunt. Glamorous sweeps lesbians -- the ones who fit the archetype -- don't have time for child-rearing or rancorous bigotry. They're too busy being beautiful, trading tiny T-shirts and, naturally, kissing.

   You're watching FOX, home of Joe Buck, defender of the national moral code against the likes of Randy Moss's ass.

   • While it won't be as exciting as any reality show with, say, pictures, I will be walking everyone through a process that will give me an even larger head.

   My wisdom teeth finally need to be taken out.

   Apparently the bottom two are firing through my gums at a 45 degree angle -- more than apparently, since it's not like I didn't look at the X-ray myself -- and causing damage and decay to the two molars in front. So now, consulations have to be made with oral surgeons, and I have to decide whether I want to take it like a man or have them knock me out a full three days in advance.

   Not really ... I'm a wimp. If people can go to all the trouble of loading up on drugs to just sit in an airplane, I can certainly load up on happy pills when they're yanking things out of my jaw or firing lasers at my gumline.

   Perhaps I'll keep the teeth and sell them on eBay ... celebrity goods, even Q-list celebrity goods, are developing quite the market.

February 9, 2005 - Return To The High School Beat
   We're Huge In Eau Claire: I'm not exactly sure this is what I was going for, but you can't complain about support from Packer Country.

Subject: Your A+ Article on Philly's Putrid Penchant for Pea-Brained Pissy-Fits
Date: Tue, 8 Feb 2005
From: "Michael __" <______@wi.rr.com>
To: jcouture at s-t dot com

   I wish to commend you, sir. The article is superb sports journalism; the form at its very pinnacle. God forbid Philly suffer without national sports title glory for one more excruciating year! O, the slings and arrows of living the wretched, tortured life of a Philly sports fan! If those folks have any reason to genuinely be mocked for their gruff, please-pity-us-and-go-(explative)-your-mother attitude, one would assume it could at the very least pertain to something logical, such as the rank odor that seems to emanate from every nook and cranny of that pitiable Pennsylvania town. I think I speak for most non-Philly resident NFL fans when I say I openly rejoiced at Philly's becoming another stepping stone in New England's 3 'Bowl, 3 field goal dynasty. No one can understand the pain of being a Philly sports fan? I live in Milwaukee, for crying out loud, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a town blessed with more congenial, good natured sports fans who have considerably less to be thankful for. Kudos to you, Jon.

   Mike ___
   Milwaukee, WI

   I will say this about the fans who wrote me about the first Philly piece ... they're the first group whose ever been appreciative across the board that I wrote them back. I was swapping e-mails with some of them through the day of the game, even.

   Though our main football writer, who did go to Jacksonville, was just about speechless when discussing the lot of Eagles faithful in the city. Exact quotes escape me, but the words "Shiny Happy People" were most definitely absent.

   • What are the chances any of you know the proper channels on how to get a review copy of a book sent out? Several days of Internet digging here hasn't exactly built my faith in the literary community.

   Let's just say I'm ranking "Juiced" high on my list of necessary civic duties, and paying money for it just feels like the wrong message to send.

February 8, 2005 - Bravo, Peers
   Why We Respect Mary Hart: The TV is on and not really being watched a good deal in the office, so something exciting usually has to happen for it to be noticed ... unless the Celtics are on, though losing by 24 could be considered exciting in its own way.

   In some period after that game ended, a teaser for Entertainment Tonight came on. I wasn't actually looking at the TV that moment, but I surely know what I heard.

On the next ET ... Boston's biggest love story
and the TV documentary about ... CHUBBY CHASERS.

   The actual story being what it is? Fine, even if I'm pretty sure the report will feature at least one appearance by Sir Mix-A-Lot. The fact the voice-over guy felt the need to ramp up the dramatic TV voice to say "Chubby Chasers?" Respectable journalism.

   I don't know what's sadder. That hype, or that Pat O'Brien has clearly lost the will to go on. It wasn't that long ago the man was a top sports broadcaster ... you stare at that "news ticker" long enough, and I swear you can hear his career crying.

   Which reminds me ... I got around to watching the Joe Buck/Troy Aikman/Cris Collinsworth "All-Access" show from before the Super Bowl tonight, and actually thought it was really good. I tend to always enjoy things that show media jobs are at least slightly harder than anyone gives them credit for being, but this actually painted all involved to be better than decent people.

   Plus it's one of America's great "cool jobs," and the documentary took warranted shots at Philly fans. After all, that's my new crusade.

   Competitive Eating Update: It may seem odd to people that I've taken competitive eating so much to heart ... the next step logically being leaping right over the edge and getting a press pass for the July 4 hot dog eating contest. Well, if you've ever wondered why, take the quote at the end of this story on the star-nosed mole -- who can "eat 10 mouthful-size chunks of earthworm, one at a time, in 2.3 seconds, or 0.23 second a chunk" -- as evidence.

"I would love to see one of these moles in action," said George Shea, chairman of the International Federation of Competitive Eating. "It makes one wonder if there's an opportunity for a cross-species contest. I think there'd be interest in both the human and mole populations."

   Past evidence, along with stories like these, lead me to think he's entirely serious.

   • Reason No. 47 why we don't go to Slate for sports news:

The metronomic, death-by-a-thousand-cuts offense. Coach Bill "Genius" Belichick's ratty sweatshirt. Linebacker Tedy Bruschi's 7-Eleven clerk bangs. That ridiculous mascot. The blah uniforms. The incessant "we're the ultimate team in the ultimate team game" platitudes. Snore. Let's face it -- more people will remember this Super Bowl for Terrell Owens' amazing performance after getting screws in his ankle than for Deion Branch's 11-catch MVP performance. Yes, the Patriots are a great team and their fans will obviously trade compelling play for victory after victory. But I think I speak for the rest of us when I say: Bring back the Jimmy-Troy-Emmitt-Irvin-Deion-Jerry Cowboys.
-- The same site who dumped on modern columnists two weeks ago.

   Is he all wrong? Of course not.

   However, I think I have a better way for him to spend his time ... talk to the other 31 NFL teams, and encourage them to beat the Patriots. After all, it's become pretty clear they can't do it on their own.

   This guy's so edgy himself ... he texted in votes for Chuck Bednarik and Gino Cappelletti for MVP, then complained he suspects no one counts the cell-phone MVP vote. He was given a pretty sloppy game to work with, but perhaps he should also look into not taking his coolness cues from Bill Clinton, who was probably bored because the Jacksonville hookers were below his big-city standards.

   An I like Bill Clinton!

February 7, 2005 - Repeat This
   A Couch Potato's Redux: Riffing off this post by The Bruce, it strikes me as interesting to recount just where I watched the Big Game from year to year. Course, it's probably interesting only to me, but really what isn't if I TiVo professional bowling?

2005 - Pats/Eagles: Had to work, so we had a party at the S-T. I actually saw very little of the first half, but nearly all of the second -- the exact opposite of how it would have been in person.

I, of course, bought the beer. Wachusett Blueberry wins big over Sam Light.

2004 - Pats/Panthers: In Agawam, but at the apartment of one of Julie's coworkers. Now that I know most all of them, it would make for a great time. At that point, I didn't -- they did a great job making me feel welcome, but I still spent a lot of time quiet on the end of that couch.

For those officially counting, we were official a short time after that.

2003 - Bucs/Raiders: At Charlie's house in Agawam, where we apparently got his parents bent out of shape because we bought him alcohol.

I also remember managing to take a photo at the exact moment Brian did, meaning one of us has a picture of a camera flash. Ultimately, it was more entertaining than the game.

2002 - Pats/Rams: The motherlode -- there were at least 20 people in my Boston apartment for this, with the ultimate result both rioting and me cleaning salsa out of the carpet at some ungodly hour.

I distinctly remember a lot of things, not the least of which my previous year's roommate Justin cheering for the Rams because they'd beaten his Eagles in the NFC title game. That seems so cute now, doesn't it?

2001 - Ravens/Giants: Suffice to say, the worst Super Bowl night of my life. Watched in my Danielsen Hall dorm room on Beacon Street and had a little party -- the fact Justin and I had cable meant everyone else who had to balance an antenna to watch could not worry about doing so there.

I actually believed the Giants had a shot until Baltimore matched Ron Dixon's kickoff return for a touchdown. After that, there was just slow acceptance ... though I did smoke my "victory cigar" afterward anyway and was generally in good cheer all things considered.

2000 - Rams/Titans: Went down to Adams Hall at BC to watch with Amit, his girlfriend and a cast of at least a couple more. The "Dumb and Dumber" tuxedo dance was done at least once ... it's simply what we did.

This marked the first Super Bowl I ever bet on, and it was greatly uninspiring -- Titans (+6) meant a push. I was pulling for Tennessee anyway, so it worked out decently well.

1999 - Broncos/Falcons: The first post-high school Super Bowl, I went home to watch with my family. Though the details are fuzzy, I'm pretty sure neither of the other two watched all the way to the end, though I may be selling Matty Cooch short.

Prior to that, every game was watched at home and unremarkable enough to remember. There are, however, exceptions to that rule.

1997 - Packers/Pats: The day before the Super Bowl, I got in a car accident that by all accounts should have totaled my 1990 Ford Tempo. However, its survival got it dubbed "The Mighty Tempo" until Matt and I finished it off in the summer of 2002.

I pinned the loss on Drew Bledsoe afterward, though Parcells has done his best to grab that metal ring, hasn't he?

1995 - 49ers/Chargers: In the weeks running up to the game, I was drawing little lightning bolts with "S.D." next to them on everything. When asked why, I would tell people, "It's my prayer that San Diego covers the spread."

I really only wanted a good game, plus my cheering for the underdog thing. The only known "S.D. Bolt" to survive is on the underside of my Denver Nuggets cap, which in and of itself is something I probably shouldn't own.

1991 - Giants/Bills: I still have this game on tape, along with the All-Madden Team from that season, and put it in to watch the ending on rare occasions. I consider this my first championship, and look at that whole season as among my most favorite of all-time.

I just wish I could get a tape of the Giants-49ers NFC title game -- rematch of the 7-3 Monday night game when they were both 10-0 [Edit: 10-1] -- that New York won on five field goals, with Leonard Marshall's blind-side sack all but ending Montana's 49er career in the process.

Not that I remember every detail or anything.

1990 - 49ers/Broncos: The 55-10 bloodbath in New Orleans, I remember we were at my uncle's house in Springfield for what I think was an unrelated party. I say that because I was watching more or less alone at the TV, and kept running down to the kitchen to give score updates every time San Fran added another touchdown.

I can't believe they humored me for the whole game.

1989 - 49ers/Bengals: As far back as my memory goes, with distinct memories of the game being on NBC and cheering for the Bengals. I'm hoping the "Ickey Shuffle" had nothing to do with it, but I can only be 99 percent sure.

   For the record and debating purposes, my favorite games are XXIII (49ers-Bengals), XXV (Giants-Bills), XXXIV (Rams-Titans), XXXVI (Pats-Rams) and, simply because everyone else always includes it, XIII (Steelers-Cowboys). Order can be whatever you want it to be.

We Remember How Philly Feels -- Barely
-- After I finished writing this, I put together a statbox of absurd numbers from this four-year run -- something like 1.3 million people have watched a Patriot game in Foxboro since their last home loss, which was 779 days ago. Stuff like that.

Perhaps the most fun discovery was the Revolution haven't screwed up the "last New England pro team to miss the playoffs." For that reason, I guess I should be glad the Whalers left.

   • As usual, I screwed up because I forgot one of the cardinal rules.

"We don't play in consolation games,'' said Jack Parker, who is 10-1 as a coach against BC in the opening round. "The loneliest game in the world is next Monday at 5 p.m. We're glad we're not in it.''
-- Jack Parker

   It doesn't matter if BC is the No. 1 team in the country, hasn't lost in 14 games, and is facing a BU team starting a junior goalie who has played in just 18 games for his career.

   Why is Stephan Siwiec going to make a career-high 36 saves and allow just a soft floater in beating the best college hockey team in the country? A team that outshot the Scarlet, 37-18?

"I didn't look up at the BU section until about four minutes left in the game. I couldn't believe the number of BU students wearing hockey jerseys. BC fans wear t-shirts. BU fans wear jerseys."
-- Parker, again. Quoted from I don't know where.

   Heading to a 44th final in 53 Beanpots? I guess they're college hockey's Patriots ... they just don't lose the big games.

   Except, of course, when they do. Really, it is nice to at least give the other teams a cookie every now and then.

February 6, 2005 - The Ride Continues
   I Witnessed History Today: Yes, friends. History. For the first time ever on television, this man converted bowling's "Big Four" -- the 4, 6, 7 and 10 -- for the first time ever on television. Incredible stuff ... a poll favorite by far!

   It should be noted that on this Super Bowl weekend, TiVo season passes were granted to two new shows. Of course, much like telling people I have two varsity letters instead of telling them I have varsity letters in golf and tennis, I should not say the two shows are The New Yankee Workshop and PBA Bowling.

   The cartoon-heavy lineup needed a shakeup, that's all.

   • Someday, Boston won't be titletown anymore. We must remember how we got here.

   As such, the following is my literary contribution to Monday's S-T, which I must say is one of the finest-looking issues put forth since I've been there.


Dynasty Timeline
April 16, 2000 - With the 199th pick in the NFL Draft, and their second in the sixth round, New England selects Michigan quarterback Tom Brady. He sees his first action that Thanksgiving, going 1-for-3 for six yards in mopup work against Detroit.

Sept. 23, 2001 - Already 0-1 and down 10-3 to the Jets, Mo Lewis knocks Drew Bledsoe out of the game on a scramble. Brady comes in, and makes his first career start the next week, beating Peyton Manning and Indianapolis, 44-13, at Foxboro Stadium. Bledsoe never starts another game for New England.

Oct. 14, 2001 - In his first career overtime start, Brady engineers a drive to set up a 44-yard field goal for Adam Vinatieri, as New England beats San Diego, 29-26.

Nov. 18, 2001 - Despite forcing three turnovers, the Patriots fall to St. Louis, 24-17, due to three turnovers of their own. It was the last game New England would lose that season.

Jan. 6, 2002 - New England clinches their first division title since 1997 with a 38-6 win, highlighted by two defensive touchdowns, at Carolina.

Jan. 19, 2002 - In the final game ever played at Foxboro Stadium, New England recovers from a 10-point second-half deficit and heavy snow to beat Oakland, 16-13, in overtime.

Jan. 27, 2002 - Drew Bledsoe returns to the field for the first time since September when Brady is lost to a knee injury. His touchdown drive, plus 14 points on special teams, help New England upset the top-seeded Steelers, 24-17, and advance to their third-ever Super Bowl.

Feb. 3, 2002 - Entering the game as 14-point underdogs, the Patriots win their first-ever Super Bowl, beating St. Louis, 20-17. Brady wins the MVP award after leading the Pats on a drive in the final 1:30, setting up Vinatieri's 48-yard field goal as time expired.

April 21, 2002 - Bill Belichick ends New England's quarterback controversy as Drew Bledsoe is traded to the Bills for Buffalo's first-round pick in 2003.

Sept. 9, 2002 - In a rematch of last season's AFC Championship Game, the Patriots christen brand-new Gillette Stadium with a 30-14 win over Pittsburgh.

Sept. 29, 2002 - New England's 12-game winning streak ends, as San Diego rushes for 239 yards in a 21-14 win. The loss starts a four-game losing streak.

Dec. 22, 2002 - The Patriots lose at home to the Jets, 30-17. Though the loss would eventually cost them a playoff berth via a tiebreaker with New York and Miami, it remains the last non-preseason loss the Patriots have suffered in Foxboro.

Sept. 1, 2003 - Despite having started in the previous season's Pro Bowl, New England releases safety Lawyer Milloy after he refuses to renegotiate his contract. The move opens a starting spot for free agent Rodney Harrison, who the Patriots signed on Mar. 12.

Sept. 28, 2003 - Following a season-opening 31-0 blowout by Milloy, Bledsoe and the Bills, plus wins over Philadelphia and the Jets, New England botches a late drive and falls at Washington, 20-17. New England's next loss is 399 days away.

Nov. 3, 2003 - Choosing to take a safety and ask their defense to hold Denver on Monday Night Football, Brady finds David Givens with 0:30 left to win 30-26.

Nov. 30, 2003 - Indianapolis fails to score on four consecutive plays from inside the New England 2, as the Patriots win their eighth straight, 38-34. The next week, the Patriots clinch another division title with a 12-0 win over Miami in heavy snow.

Dec. 27, 2003 - The Patriots avenge their opening loss in perfect fashion, as a late Larry Izzo interception clinches a 31-0 win against the Bills.

Jan. 19, 2004 - Though the score doesn't show it, New England dominates the Colts as they did Buffalo, winning another AFC Championship, 24-14, as Peyton Manning throws four interceptions.

Feb. 1, 2004 - New England wins their second championship, 32-29, beating Carolina on a 41-yard Vinatieri field goal with nine seconds left. Tom Brady wins his second MVP award, recovering from a second-half interception in the end zone to go 32-of-48 for 354 yards and three touchdowns.

Apr. 19, 2004 - The Patriots refuse to sit on their championship laurels, getting three-time Pro Bowl running back Corey Dillon from Cincinnati for a second-round draft pick. Dillon goes on to set a New England franchise record by rushing for 1,635 yards despite playing only 15 games.

Sept. 9, 2004 - Opening the NFL season on a Thursday night for just the second time in league history, the Patriots win another AFC Championship rematch, 27-24, against Indianapolis.

Oct. 10, 2004 - The Patriots beat the Dolphins, 24-10, winning their 19th consecutive game and setting an NFL record.

Oct. 31, 2004 - Unable to recover from an early 21-7 deficit and the absence of Dillon, the Patriots lose, 34-20, at Pittsburgh, ending their 21-game winning streak.

Nov. 28, 2004 - Vinatieri's 28-yard field goal just 29 seconds into the second quarter marks the 16th-consecutive game in which the Patriots score first, another NFL record. The streak would end at 20 in the season finale against the 49ers.

Jan. 16, 2005 - Facing the top offensive team in the NFL this season, the Patriots hold the Colts without a touchdown in winning 20-3 at Gillette. Peyton Manning, who threw a record 49 touchdowns in the regular season, throws just two balls into the end zone all game -- one is intercepted, the other is dropped by the Patriot secondary.

Jan. 23, 2005 - Facing the top defensive team in the NFL this season, the Patriots score a season-high 41 points on the 16-1 Steelers, winning their fifth-ever AFC Championship, 41-27.

Feb. 6, 2005 - The Patriots become only the second team in NFL history to win three Super Bowls in four years, beating Philadelphia, 24-21.

February 5, 2005 - Now I Want Chicken Wings
   Job Opportunity: Just out curiosity, because I'm not yet totally a show-biz guy, at what point in one's career does playing the guy who's a colon polyp become a good or bad career move?

   When you consider there's public appearances that need to be made too ... if I was offered the position tomorrow, I'd take it. Does that mean I could probably never win an Oscar? Would a lead male role opposite a certain hard-partying Hollywood starlet probably be out of my reach now because there'd be footage out of me wearing a giant red nonmalignant growth?

   Though really, I think merely asking this question answers the above two, doesn't it?

   Like A Bad Techno Remix: The way we search for Wire photos at work is to type a name and search period into the engine, with the Web-based program then grabbing any photo containing that word.

   The problem is it's not specific ... typing in "Troy Brown," even in quotes, will not get you just this guy, but all the Troys and all the Browns. Course, such a search certainly didn't bring up the wide spectrum of the following:

Meet the Reids.
-- Say hi to the Reids, everyone.

Tara Reid attends the release party for 'Alone In the Dark' at Quo in New York. (AP Photo/Jennifer Graylock)

Head Coach of the NFC Champion Philadelphia Eagles Andy Reid stands next to the Vince Lombardi Trophy after speaking to reporters at a news conference prior to Super Bowl XXXIX, in Jacksonville. REUTERS/Mike Segar

   Of course, the benefit here is the If They Mated is so easy, even my mother could do it.

Celebrity Fan
-- She is from New Jersey. Tara, not Mom. Mom is from the land of Cleansalot.

   Depending how inflammatory you wanted to be about the matchup, you could even involve the phrase "ate Donovan McNabb."

   Gluttony Circuit Update: I feel like I've probably let some people down by completely glossing over last week's annual Wing Bowl, but fortunately, my equivelant at ESPN.com did the dirty work for me.

But hell. I had it easy getting into the Wing Bowl compared to the contestants, each of whom had to qualify through some extraordinary display of eating prowess. If you have wireless capability, you might want to move your laptop closer to the bathroom before reading these feats.

Rich the Butcher ate a pound of raw meat in one minute.

Hank the Tank ate five pounds of meatballs.

Wing Kong ate 2 pounds of liverwurst in seven minutes.

(See? I warned you. And it's about to get worse.)

Wolfman ate two pounds of shrimp with 160 mealworms. Obi Wing ate 60 live cockroaches. And if you think the mealworms and cockroaches sound repulsive, bear in mind that Cookie Jarvis ate six pounds of spinach.

It's nothing but quality family entertainment at the Wing Bowl.

And get this -- Uncle Buc ate a 1 pound candle. No, I'm not making that up. He ate a wax candle. Which I can only hope was not burning at the time. Or, if it was, it was nowhere near Moses Lerman after he finished eating six pounds of baked beans.

   [ Insert Brick Tamland reference here. ]

Meanwhile, I return to my hotel, bleary-eyed, a little nauseous and convinced that I have just seen the most disgusting competition known to man.

And then I do a Google search and find out there is a mayonnaise-eating contest.

   If he only knew.

   • The following will be in Sunday's Standard-Times, also commonly referred to as the Sunday Standard-Times.

This Matchup Is No Fluke
-- I'm not sure exactly what this is, but it at least started out as a bit of a mea culpa regarding Tuesday. It didn't so much end up that way, but honestly, I'm kinda starting to worry about being a baseball writer now. Not getting sent to the Super Bowl will make that happen.

   And also, the pick that launched $1,000 in bets .. the other way.

I was lucky enough to witness live the two wins that got New England to Jacksonville, as well see the season they built those on unfold from the warmth of a television screen. Even after two weeks of talk about how this game will be much closer than a lot will have you believe, it seems best put by, I believe, Gerry Callahan -- this is like a lopsided heavyweight fight, where the more hype there is, the more people believe it may actually be a contest after all.

No disrespect to the Eagles or their fans, because they have a great team, a team worthy of being in this game. However, they just don't care about tonight as much as the Patriots do. It's not possible. To watch these men play, to hear them talk, to see their eyes -- there's nothing in the world that could mean more to them today than tonight.

Why will they win? There's plenty of reasons, too many for this space. The one that connects them all, though, says all that needs to be said.

Because it's their job.


   Not like the guy holding the 7-0 square in your pool wasn't already excited as can be ... now he has my support. Though admittedly, I'm not all that fired up about this game. I think it's a combination of my public pronouncement that I'm a Giants fan first, plus a big piece of me retired as a sports fan when the Red Sox won the World Series. That's probably the wrong way of wording it, but honestly ... I've now seen Big Blue, the Pats and the Olde Towne Team all win championships.

   Unless the Whalers are reborn and they win the Stanley Cup, nothing's ever going to happen that'll make me want another championship T-shirt. Not that I'm not going to get caught up in the game once it starts -- that happens when I'm watching Little League Baseball, for goodness sake -- but there definitely won't be the same stomach pains and struggled breathing there was all through Super Bowl XXXVI.

   The Super Bowl that produced the greatest update in site history, bar none. When you consider that Feb. 1-7, 2002, week consisted of the post-Penn Bowl drunkening in Philadelphia, the Pats winning their first Super Bowl, the parties to celebrate the winning of the first Super Bowl, the start of another BU Beanpot championship and me taping a segment that would have aired on CNN had TalkBack Live not been pre-empted that day, I really should have just quit while I was ahead.

   What's frightening about this the initial story is, at least in my head, this "retiring as a fan" idea was what I'd planned on for a "Sox win the Series" column back in the beginning of the season. Yes, I was thinking about it that far ahead ... I've been thinking about it since I was in high school.

   These are the things that happen when you have no other marketable skills.

February 4, 2005 - Yes, I Should Be
   Thanks, Dad: I can count the e-mail forwards of note I've received on one hand, with the same to be said about e-mails from my father. Suffice to say, we have a very not-Internet based relationship.

   However, things can change. All courtesy of the Red Sox ... and Denis Leary's nuts.

   Trust me when I say this video clip is what I'm looking for when I'm after biting social commentary.

   Boston University 4, UMass Lowell 4: While I was in town at the same time as this game, I did not go to this game ... that would have made far too much sense. However, it does provide a nice segue to the writeup on Agganis by intrepid S-T hockey writer and good friend Mick Colageo.

Overall, this was an excellent hockey experience ... bing, bing, bing, bing, bing, bing ... Rink Rap gives Boston University hockey the platinum plate.

   And I didn't even have to threaten him with workplace violence. Scout's honor.

   • As I mentioned, I was in Boston tonight. While I could say a lot of things about the evening (and early morning), others have put it quite succinctly.

Lesson learned

   Lesson learned, good friend. Some day soon, you too will be a complete and utter degenerate.

   Upon going up and visiting the above-noted Charlie, and coming within a few minutes of spending the evening in his apartment, we ended up in two bars with more or less every person of substance I worked with senior year at the oft-discussed DFP -- Bill, Josh and his now-full beard, Dan and his soon-to-be-mentioned cigarette, and Deirdre, who took being the classic person I knew I knew but whose name I totally blanked on completely in stride.

   Theoretically, many were in town for the hockey or just to say hello ... the fact that I found them based solely on a one-word Instant Messenger away message means the Internet has finally turned the corner, and is now being used for good.

   How this happened really isn't an exciting story, but it's always good to see someone you know outside smoking, pat them on the shoulder, and have everyone standing there slowly trying to piece together just what exactly you're doing there.

   In the same vein, the night's humor was high, but would definitely not reproduce well. Let's just leave it by saying if interpersonal relationships were a Top 25 poll, there would be a lot of shuffling, with Bill leaping some absurd number of spots.

   However, I think we can all agree any night where I drink three beers with blueberries in them was a good night, if only on general principle.

February 3, 2005 - The Newsprint Popularity Contest
   • This circulation list is interesting, if only because I never would have thought I grew up reading (and delivering) one of the 100 most-read newspapers in America. Though, given they have half the state more or less to themselves, it's not shocking.

   Course, not like any of that meant they'd send me a reply letter to the clip packet I sent out as a senior in college ... think of what I could be saving on rent every month, never mind entertainment expenses!

   Of course, the Daily Free Press isn't on that list, but I guarantee there's no paper in that 150 where you can read about burritos as life's mile marker.

The interwoven values of independence and community constitute our neighborhood foundation when we celebrate newcomers like Qdoba. Underlying fusions of beans, cheese and rice is our inner awareness that dining means savoring sentiment as much as substance.

   Sing it, Sean Carlson. As collegiate columns go, that's the best I've read in a while.

February 2, 2005 - The Shadow Knows
   Xplicit Xplanation: As someone who watches so much History Channel, the enjoyment I get from learning new things should be apparent. The same goes for teaching others new things, which I why I give you this story.

Adelphia Communications Corp. has quietly become the nation's only leading cable operator to offer the most explicit category of hard-core porn. Come Friday, triple-X-rated programming will be available on cable for the first time in a major media market: Southern California.

"People want it, so we are trying to provide it," Adelphia spokeswoman Erica Stull said. "The more Xs, the more popular."

Single-X-rated movies feature nudity, long-range or panoramic and medium-range camera shots, simulated sex and sex between women. Double-X-rated movies show intercourse, oral sex and close-up shots. Triple-X-rated movies feature anal sex and visible ejaculation.

   In a perfect world, I could come up with an illustration that clearly relates all of this to something easier to understand ... say, eating at a buffet. However, the story's final quote -- "We would love for people to sample more of our programming." -- makes it seems like a riff on that. As proud as Mom is of her son, I don't think I need to stroll any further down this street.

   An Observation: With the newest Sports Illustrated now out:

Tommy Forehead

   and with the subject of the cover story being the "Thinking Man's Super Bowl," I'm again thinking about something I've felt for a long time about the Patriots' uniforms.

   Does the fact that their helmet has no middle stripe and nothing in the front make it seem to anyone else like the players have gigantic foreheads, or is it just me? I think it makes them look stupid -- not as people, per se, but purely appearance-wise. Like they have these giant, hulking craniums.

   The fact that this isn't funny in any way should be proof enough this is a genuine question.

   Ken Powers: I know I link to Boston Sports Media Watch a lot because the man in charge there regularly posts links to my articles, but I'd highly advise a read of Wednesday's postings -- early and later.

   Plagiarism is the writer's sin, but this is ridiculous. So ridiculous that if this wasn't some sort of freak accident, I may become angry about it all over again.

   • Tonight was the State of the Union address, a fact I was completely oblivious of until well after the thing was over. A slightly embarassing thing to have missed, but really, I had a lot of TiVo to catch up on.

   In the more than a month that I've had it, the clear conclusion is I went so long without having television to watch -- apparent genuine thanks, BU -- no particular show has become must-watch for me. This will change once Family Guy re-enters the picture, but the point remains.

   I probably should at least take the time to see if California Freakout is really as stupidly exciting and sexually confusing as everyone says it is now, but I just feel like I'm behind. You know what they say: Can't tell the tongues apart if you don't watch the program.

   Anyway, I did the salute the government in one way tonight, completing the annual income tax extravaganza. The refund is lower this year -- which I suppose is good, since a gigantic refund means you screwed yourself for 11 months just to get a windfall in the 12th -- but it's still disappointing to know I'm not getting such a windfall there'll still be some left when I pay off my car insurance.

   Also, for whatever reason, I made less this year than I did last year. Granted, a difference of $205 probably means I just didn't steal as many pens in 2004, but that alone feels like a lost opportunity.

   By the way, bravo to the state of Massachusetts for something I've probably ripped on before -- Commonwealth residents have the option to pay income tax at a rate of 5.85% (as opposed to 5.3%) if they just feel, I guess, like they aren't paying enough already. The sheer fact someone in the Legislature got this put in the tax code proves that there is no end to the limits.

   I'm demanding the state release how many people pay the extra money. There are joys that just shouldn't be kept secret.

February 1, 2005 - Forty-Five?
   Crotch Cam: As someone who was generally focused on other things than the television coverage of the baseball playoffs, I did not get to truly enjoy the technological advancements of FOX Diamond Cam. Fortunately, soon I won't feel left out.

Fox Sports has planted so-called Turf Cams around Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla. -- including four on the field where the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles will play Super Bowl XXXIX. Eight more of the Turf Cams aren't in the turf at all -- they'll be mounted at the end zones.

"They're so tiny, they're effectively the size of an eraser on a pencil," says David Hill, chairman of Fox Sports and a driving force behind his network's use of technology during sporting events.

Turf Cam is the direct descendant of the mini cameras that Fox Sports uses for NASCAR races, says Bill Brown, senior producer of Fox Sports. Those cameras are mounted, for instance, on the hoods of the race cars looking back through the windshield at the driver. Around this time last year, Fox Sports began working with the camera provider, Broadcast Sports Technology, to develop similar cameras to provide a bug's-eye view during the All-Star Game.

The teeny Diamond Cams, mounted in front of home plate and the pitcher's mound, worked so well that the angles became an occasional but memorable part of postseason baseball.

   I did actually try to watch the "live" Internet feed the Diamond Cams were putting out during one of the Red Sox-Yankees games -- I distinctly remember being impressed by ARod's Game 3 home run for about five seconds. Of course, given they were about a batter behind, and that they were generally useless, I gave up.

   I'm not sure what I enjoy more about this story -- the fact a "reporter" from Hollywood actually believes a hockey team plays at Alltel Stadium, or I can now spend the dull moments of the game hoping I'll soon get to see a closeup of someone's gigantic crotch.

Fox says there's no chance that players could be hurt by landing on the cameras. But the same can't be said about the Turf Cams.

"There's definitely that concern," Brown says about the possibility of damage, although if a player steps on a Turf Cam there's a chance it will bounce back and remain usable. Plus, a football field is pretty big. "We're hoping that the odds are with us that nobody will step on these four little-size cameras," Brown says.

   Rodney Harrison, a football nation turns its eyes to you.

   Rumor Has It: While I have no reason to believe this is true, the word in Jacksonville is apparently that the ... well, I'll just quote it.

The griping begins
Media whining about Podunk Jacksonville is under way. "The hotel's are dingy." "The rides to the hotels are too long." "It's cold." "My feet hurt." "Where's the sun?" "No free computer bags this year?"

Hey, if fate had dealt you a different hand you could have been living on the beach in Sri Lanka a month ago. Shut up about the inconveniences.

The best part is this: the Super Bowl media party is allegedly on the 17th green at TPC Sawgrass. Anyone want to bet that someone will complain how inconvenient it is to walk all the way out to the famous green on the tiny bridge?

   While I can't fathom that this is true -- the party part, certainly not the "media people bitch a lot" part -- if it is, I just might take this opportunity to drive my car off the New Bedford-Fairhaven bridge next time it opens up.

   Forget that I would get to be hanging out on the most famous green in golf ... you're telling me the media horde for the Super Bowl is all going to fit on that postage stamp? You're telling me no member of America's clumsiest profession -- people cover sports when they fail to make a career playing sports, remember -- is going to topple off the thing in the greatest comedic moment since I landed on my head courtesy of a Battery Park see-saw?

   [ Rumor Edit: Great news ... turns out the rumors are true. The Super Bowl host committee held a media event there earlier Tuesday, and "among activities scheduled for writers and broadcasters in attendance will be a closest-to-the-pin contest on the par 3, with portable lights illuminating one of the most famous holes in golf."

   Much as I'd love to be reaching for my car keys right now, I wouldn't have been able to go anyway -- our writers aren't leaving for Florida until Wednesday morning. Besides, I'm not sure I could hit that green with a sleeve using my own clubs ... you're going to give me borrowed sticks and think I could even score one in the lake? ]

   • There's something completely disheartening, yet both not surprising and slightly hopeful about this.

Subject: Column on Phily fans
Date: Tue, 1 Feb 2005
From: "Samantha __" <______@comcast.net>
To: jcouture at s-t dot com

   Funny, you never hear about the good things:

   Last week, when little Timmy Kelly faltered in the freezing cold wind while singing the Anthem, 68,000 Eagles fans sang the rest of the song with him....reminiscient of the Mo Cheeks and the little girl who forgot the words a few years back. It warmed your heart on a bitterly cold day.

   And aren't you talking about FansHelpingFans? In their own words:

...beg(a)n in 2004 as a close circle of Philadelphia Eagles Fans who, after learning of a friend's impending battle with a serious illness, united in friendship and action with a single goal: simply, to help a friend in need by raising immediate funds for medical testing. The close circle widened, and even Fans who did not know our friend nonetheless contributed to the effort because, as we learned, we are all on the same team.

The idea of Fans Helping Fans grew from that experience. Our goal is to assist Fans in difficult financial circumstances because of illness, sudden unemployment, disasters or other emergencies. As Fans with tightly-knit loyalties, we are also able to lend emotional support during a difficult point in the lives of our fellow Fans.

We are here to make a difference, however big or small. Life as an Eagles Fan is about fierce loyalty to this team, this City and one another. We offer this help with no discrimination except as to need. While our passion for the Philadelphia Eagles is what originally united all of us, we learned that we are united by much more than that. What unites us is Fans. Helping... Fans.

   Guess what? The founders of FHF??? Lifetime 700 level-ers, friends of mine. They've done amazing things in one year with that organization. It wasn't helped along by the Eagles, it was done solely with the fans.

   These are things that happen every day with Eagles fans, but hacks like you need to bash us constantly.

   Last year, when an Eagles fan was walking to his car at FedEx Field, after the Eagles easily whipped up on the Skins, he got jumped by 2-3 Skins fans, beaten to a pulp and spent the next few days in a DC ICU recovering. Funny, I never head about that on the national news...except one mention (paraphrased), "Considering he was an Eagles fan, we'll wait to hear the authorities' full report as to how it got started." How amazingly sad is that?

   Next time you want to do a "puff" piece like this, don't slant it so pathetically towards one way. See both sides of a story. You might actually learn something.

   Samantha ______
   Lifetime Eagles season ticket holder
   Sections 706 and now 205

Subject: try wearing a yankees shirt to fenway park
Date: Tue, 1 Feb 2005
From: "Joseph ____" <__.____@genzyme.com>
To: jcouture at s-t dot com

   You gotta be kidding me, no doubt philly fans are way over the line, but please don't tell me you're going to give a pass to boston fans. Ask Derek jeter what it's like to see kids wearing t-shirts with x-rated insults about him. Ask Jason kidd and his wife how they feel about the passionate boston fans at the fleet center. I mean these people couldn't get any crazier. The fans in philly, boston and new york are all way over the top.

Subject: Philadelphia faithful often fly too far
Date: Tue, 1 Feb 2005
From: Daniel ____ <_____@epnet.com>
To: jcouture at s-t dot com

   Mr. Couture,

   Good afternoon. I hope this message finds you well. After linking to your article today from Bostonsportsmedia.com, I wanted to compliment you on a fine article. I look forward to your progression to The Globe or The Herald. Your article is a very interesting read, however I found it to be a tad harsh considering some of our own fabled 'Masshole' behavior at New England Sporting events.

   New England fans may never have booed Santa Claus or harassed somebody being taken off by stretcher, but isn't this home to an area that prides ourselves on a stupid Yankees Sucks chant? Or how about the NFL only recently lifting the ban on night games at Foxboro because of our ability to become drunk and rowdy at sporting events? Red Sox nation may have cheered Matthew Scott, but I would think Jim Eisenreich or the Snelgrove family may challenge your ethnocentric views on the NE Sportsfan.

   The sad reality is that Philadelphia fans and Boston Fans are of the same breed. Combine the two volatile groups with large amounts of alcohol, and it could get ugly in Jacksonville. Clearly Philadelphia and Boston fans share aggressive and classless nature.

   Best regards,
   Dan ____
   Georgetown MA

Subject: Re. Philadelphia faithful often fly too far
Date: Tue, 1 Feb 2005
From: <_____@aol.com>
To: jcouture at s-t dot com

   What a comfort to learn that Boston fans are so well behaved and deserving, and Philadelphia fans so uniformly despicable. And here I was worried that we'd be bombarded with thinly veiled Philly bashing. Thanks for clearing that up for us, Jon.

   LLOYD ___
   Madison, NJ

   And, just for good measure ...

Date: Tue, 1 Feb 2005
From: Jonathan ___ <_____@yahoo.com>
To: jcouture at s-t dot com


   I was just reading some of your older columns. I read the article calling the drafting of Willis Mcgahee a stupid decision. I'm a huge Bills fan, and wondering if your thoughts have changed?? And what do you think about the Bills 2004 draft? You had some very harsh things to say about the Bills GM and Willis himself. With the success that they both have had, and are going to continue to have, don't you think they deserve some respect? Our GM was questioned about the Willis pick in '03, and lambasted in '04 for the JP move. With Bledsoe on the way out, all we need is for JP to have even a decent season and the Bills will make the playoffs. How long until Tommy D gets a little credit for knowing more than you gurus?


   Now, don't get me wrong. I love getting letters, and I'd like to think I'm one of the few writers out there who responds to everybody, every time, even if I'm pretty sure the author borders on the illiterate. However, it's a little disheartening to know I can write 10 good columns and get maybe one or two notes on average saying as such, but then write one bad column -- to get all Belichick on it, this thing "is what it is" -- and receive a relative deluge because, clearly, the link is getting posted on a site equivelant to this one run by a Philly fan.

   Anyone who understands how the writer's mind works, and who looks at something like this, should never again question why so many columnists and radio hosts and what have you go the "hack" route. Say whatever's extreme and offensive, regardless of fact, because that's what gets you noticed. While I was writing this, I was actually thinking how easily I could turn it completely irrational and probably get myself a couple more cheap apperances on the Sports Connection, since they tape in Philadelphia.

   Obviously I'm not going to do that ... I'm still new enough in the business to fall into the delusion of "good work" being the reason why we're all here. If I get invited on TV or radio, I'd like to believe it's because people think I'm knowledgeable and can express myself well.

   Course, I'd also like to believe the most vocal readers spend as much time praising the good writers they read as they do ripping the bad ones.

   Well, that and I'd like to believe someday I'll get a free computer bag at a sporting event. It's like the gift bag at the Golden Globes, yet slightly less valuable on eBay.

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