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February 28, 2006 - There Is No February 29th
   Today's Quote Taken Completely Out of Context: Fortunately, this mangled proverb is still funny without me having to mention which athlete in our coverage area said it.

"If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a hurricane?"

   First, sadly, this did not make the paper. And I did ask several times whether the quoted was being serious, and that quoted actually thought what was being said was something people say, mainly because I can't figure out what the hell the similar statement is that deals with hurricanes.

   It actually went on longer than that, to which I commend my writer colleague, because I don't think he lost it and started laughing right in anyone's face.

For All Bode Miller's Antics, Least He Was Honest
-- I wrote the headline this time, so when I'm bitching later
about the word 'antics,' remind me of that

   I probably still rambled on too long before I got to my point, but I made extra sure to only reference myself once. I've been told by people who read this blog because their wife linked to it, and who will mention this mention in a meeting three days from now (give or take), that people hate when I do that too much.

   Hey, at least there's no confusion now whether I'm baiting anyone by accident. After four-plus years, I'm finally perfecting the science.

   The Cutest Little Thing: Speaking of baiting, this would all be a lot more fun if I thought April cared enough about athletics that she'd respond to repeated BC bashing.

Flutie and James Carville

Democratic consultant James Carville, right, reacts with former Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie as they judge a dunking contest during halftime at the Wake Forest versus Boston College basketball game at Conte Forum in Boston on Tuesday. Boston College beat Wake Forest, 80-65. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

   If you can't see the humor in Doug Flutie judging a dunking contest, then you probably shouldn't be reading this. That's like having me judge a needlepoint bee, tanning contest or anything that involves muscle definition.

   • Because I know you didn't ask, and because my note-taking style of late has been to take notes and then lose them for three days, a recap of recent television events that you weren't asking for:

   Turin's Closing Ceremonies: I'd be remiss if I didn't mention perhaps my favorite part of the event short of the broadcast-ending retrospective ... the GoldenPalace.com kid.

Free 25% Bonus!
-- I'm going to hope the AP moved a correction later, since the
only thing this guy was protesting was double-zero roulette.

   Sadly, there's no admission of anything on their site, since I'm genuinely curious as to how the guy got to the microphone at what you'd hope was a slightly policed event. Did he break out of a bride costume? Was he one of the sparks of passion?

   Regardless, it's good to see that the price of dignity has now dropped as low as $1,000. This does not bode well for my previous standing offer to make out with another man for $100,000, because really, I hadn't wanted to drop even that low.

   Though on the plus side, at least I don't work for the paper that made their 'skin sale' the front-page story.

   The Apprentice: I finally saw my first episode of the show on Monday, given we have a local contestant -- and how glad am I that we've advanced past the point where I'm doing weekly writeups of his appearances. Do a Google serach of my name and see on how many message boards you find the story "Survivor Contestant Gulps Bugs For Glory."

   Somehow, those stories made me what I am today. Hopefully this is what they're teach the undergrads at BU.

   Anyway, the ending was easily the most exciting reality show moment of recent memory ... whether that's actually saying anything is an exercise for the reader. With our local boy more of less on the way out the door for handing out gift bags that didn't actually have any gifts in them, "Summer" decided now would be a good time for her to interrupt everyone and basically save him. No, not basically save him, but save him period.

In the boardroom, Tarek stabbed Lee in the back and chose him to go to the elimination round along with Lenny and Summer. Trump was not impressed with Summer's efforts or Tarek's leadership. Lee, Lenny and Summer banded together to put the loss on Tarek's poor leadership. The Donald criticized Summer and she failed to speak up for herself, but Trump was more irked by Tarek's lack of leadership, but then Summer started to interrupt the Donald, putting the attention back on her and sealing her fate. Summer was fired.

The episode closed with Lenny's ominous threat that Tarek would "...not be around for long" . Cue Music. Tune in next week!

-- There is no greater place than whatever the hell this is.

   Now, I have no delusions the show will ever be this good again, considering there were about six of us screaming at the television ... mainly because I don't think we really knew whether we wanted him to stay around another week. But damn if I won't at least watch the end again.

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

   Course, if it was on every day like it's supposedly going to be starting next year (in syndication), it will stop being interesting. Until then, I'll enjoy people willingly throwing away $127,000 and ending up with $5 just because they're having the time of their lives.

   And finally ...

   True Life: I'm A Competitive Eater: It's been on my TiVo for a week, and tonight, I finally sat down to watch it. The parallels between the camaraderie of the competitors and the camaraderie of college bowl competitors, suffice to say, is thick.

   There's two main reactions I got from what was essentially a profile of three people: Tim "Eater X" Janus, Takeru Kobayashi and Lee, a scrub kid from Kentucky who's just getting into competitions, but apparently is already the "World Zucchini Eating Champ."

   Janus seems like a likable guy you'd want to hang out with ... it's his hobby, he's a day trader and he has some fun with it. The kid is a kid who likes to eat ... harmless enough, which is exactly what it wouldn't be if I ever tried one of these competitions.

   Kobayashi, however, scared the everliving fuck out of me.

   He has made "food fighting" his job, which you can do in Japan because, well, it's Japan. Things start off with him clearing 100 plates of sushi and talking about how he stacks the food in his stomach, then we see him weight train to exascerbate his genetic condition -- his stomach sits lower than in a regular person, so it was more room to expand up -- and watching video to see where he can fit more hot dogs. Somewhere after that, we see him go to the supermarket to talk about food, which he apparently doesn't do a lot because he's worried people will "think he's a housewife, which would be embarassing."

   Oh, Japan.

   Then he goes to a restaurant where the chef does what Japanese chefs apparently do with big eaters .. challenge them. Kobayashi proceeds to take down about 22 pounds of food ... three plates of noodles with avocado, oil, pineapple, you name it, all while consuming a pile of shaved ice easily 2-3 feet high.

   And apparently, it was chili pepper shaved ice. Little joke.

   Apparently, all the spice was at the bottom.

   In short, I respect the dedication he has shown ... he's clearly the best in the world by accident. But I'm also reasonably sure if he ever got angry and began killing people, he would dispose of the bodies by eating them and crushing them to coal inside his stomach.

   Also learned, apparently, eating lettuce helps stretch your stomach. Remind me of that when I toy with acting on the link to a competition one of you will inevitably post.

February 27, 2006 - A Total Besmirching
   Mail Call: So I got these letters:

Subject: Pedro's ailment spells relief for Red Sox
Date: Mon, 27 Feb 2006
From: "____@aol.com" [ _____@aol.com]
To: jcouture at s-t dot com


   great article about Pedro. Enjoyed it,


Subject: Baseball by the numbers
Date: Mon, 27 Feb 2006
From: "____@aol.com" [ _____@aol.com]
To: jcouture at s-t dot com


   Finally this week, J.T. Snow's announcement that he'll wear No. 84 this season in honor of his late wide receiver father Jack got me to thinking will his be the highest number ever worn by a full-time member of the Red Sox during the regular season?

   Well, according to the exhaustive list compiled by Bill Walsh at RedSoxDiehard.com, sort of. The 1943 team had the prior mark holders, with Johnny Lazor playing 84 games in the outfield as No. 82 and Lou Lucier pitching a mix of 16 starts and relief appearances as No. 81.

   However, it won't be the highest number ever worn. That honor goes to bullpen catcher Jason LaRocque, who last season wore No. 88.

   Jon Couture covers the Red Sox for The Standard-Times; he! 'll be reporting to Fort Myers on Mar. 6. E-mail him at jcouture@s-t.com

   F.Y.I. There is a VERY EXTENSIVE book on baseball numbers worn by EVERY PLAYER who has ever played, it's called Baseball by the numbers, published about 8 years ago, and costs about $80, and hard to find as well. The Ted Williams Museum here in Fla has a copy and may be able to find the info you need.

   Bruce ____

   and it struck me that I hadn't even linked to the column they were sparked by.

Pedro's Ailment Spells Relief For Red Sox
-- No "Stat That Time Forgot," but in time, it will return.

   FARK Thread Added Without Comment: Who was your childhood celebrity crush?

-- Not the original reason for the link, but it got me thinking.
And really, how can you go wrong with this old favorite?

   • John Molori writes a freelance media column up in these parts, and I'm pretty sure I should be offended by what he led with this week.

Last Friday on WEEI's 'Dennis and Callahan' show, FSN 'New England Sports Tonight' (NEST) host Greg Dickerson verbally bashed and belittled Ed Berliner, host of CN8's 'Sports Pulse.'

Dickerson's show airs weeknights at 6:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. This week, the program debuts a new stadium themed set and will be renamed 'Mohegan Sun Sports Tonight.' The new set features 16 high definition plasma monitors, a virtual fish tank, vintage sports artifacts and modern sporting goods.

Berliner's show is on opposite Dickerson and Tanguay at 10:00 p.m. On WEEI, Dickerson and Gerry Callahan verbally jibed Berliner. Callahan jokingly wondered on what channel Berliner's show runs. Both Callahan and Dickerson compared Berliner to Ron Burgundy, Will Ferrell’s witless character from the movie 'Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.'

Dickerson mocked Berliner's deep voice and deliberate style, doing a spot on impression of the CN8 personality asking Red Sox GM Theo Epstein a question. Both Callahan and Dickerson compared Berliner unfavorably to fictional TV anchorman Ted Baxter.

Dickerson stated, "Ted Baxter is an Emmy Award winning anchor compared to Ed Berliner.' He and Callahan also mocked Berliner for attracting lesser-known guests than Dickerson's show. NEST pays guests an appearance fee while 'Sports Pulse' generally does not. Yours truly has been a guest on both programs.

-- The rest of it's here.

   Now, obviously, Dickerson isn't talking about a man of my stature. Why, I'm at least the 123rd most notable personality who covers the Red Sox on top of my long-standing reign as Whale City's most popular [ insert my current age ] [ insert day I write ] sports columnist. Plus, I've been on the radio in Hawaii.

   Or, at least, I've been led to believe that. Maybe it was a gimmick ... the guy did have a rat tail and called himself "World Series Wayne." But the call-in in New Jersey the year before? Authentic.

   Anyway, it goes without saying that you only rip into things you fear or are threatened by. After all, Dan Shaughnessy has never called me out in print even though I'm on record as saying he resembles a leaking garbage bag full of oily rags, but why should he? The Globe sells at least a bundle or two more papers than our little Tribune-Picayune.

   Now, in my unbiased opinion, 'Sports Pulse' is better. The hallmarks of every episode of 'New England Sports Tonight,' or whatever it's called now -- see? I can feign ignorance, too! -- is people screaming at each other about whatever people were screaming at other about all day on sports radio. The benefit of sports radio, however, is that I don't have to see these people. On TV, I can look at them and wonder just how similarly awful my chin and neck will look after 10 years with the Fenway Park soft-serve machine as the core of my summertime training regimen.

   On top of that, NEST has these leather chairs that tend to ensure the camera is aimed directly at the jowls of whatever sports guy is in them. Stirring and hypnotic.

   Sports Pulse? Delightful spinny chairs, the occasional wrestling story and makeup ladies who always praise me on the health of my skin. And every time I go on, I get to reminisce about the time I paid my cable bill in the office space where their studio now is and the times I smashed glass bottles in the parking lot out back just because they made a cool noise.

   Why yes, I was 20-21 years old at the time. And yes, I did have to be asked to stop because it left broken glass all over said parking lot. But it's not like I didn't get other people into it, to the point we had three people out there creating a symphony a lot of the time.

   Apropos of nothing, I've been introduced to Greg Dickerson before by our uber-networking Pats writer. The three of us ate pizza together up at Foxboro after a press conference a couple years back, chatting as people who are eating pizza together do.

   He and I have crossed paths again, with the complete and utter anonymity you'd expect. Course, it's not as though I care nor expected anything less. Were I to come upon Greg Dickerson on fire, rolling on the ground, I would still get some water and put him out even if I do think he has some tool tendencies.

   I just might walk a little slower and take a sip of it first, adding in that "Ahhhhh!" refreshment assuring sound in all the Coke commercials.

February 26, 2006 - Chocolate Chip Lava
   The Rules of Diet Baking: It's a lot easier for something to be good when you use an entire bag of chocolate chips, a full stick of butter and four eggs.I mean, it could be bad if you ate them raw, but if you have some measure of knowing what you're doing, you'll be OK.

   So yeah, Julie got her Valentine's Day dessert a little late. But it was way better than buying chocolates, I think. And really, how is any trip where you're buying muffin tins and aluminum bowls at the supermarket not good?

   The Rules of Dining Out: In the same vein as "lobster" never being a word you want to hear inside a McDonald's, inside a Denny's, "special Creole sauce" sets a dangerous precedent that could leave us far worse than in a post-Moons over my Hammy apocalypse.

-- Meat Lover's Skillets: Only Good Going In

   All I'm trying to do is help, since one of the last times I went to the South, I had that gravy that really did just taste "brown" in Georgia. And it wasn't at a Waffle House.

   That's a whole other story altogether.

   • You know, if I didn't actually enjoy the sport and I hadn't actually downloaded a free trial of a curling simulator, I would be making a crack about how you could remember the Olympic experience with curling wallpaper.

Cassie Johnson
-- This will be on my managing editor's computer in 24 hours,
and per our last discussion, he'll thank me for it.

   Given I will never, ever, ever experience it, I'd have to imagine it's a pretty sad day when the Olympics leaves your town. Here you've been imagining the world coming in for something like seven years, they finally get there, there's all these things to do and see for two weeks ... and then it's over, everyone leaves and it all gets taken away. It's disappointing enough for me on their behalf when the Games end, especially the Winter ones ... much as I channel my inner Bryant Gumbel and say I enjoy them more because they celebrate white-people countries, they're what I gre up watching -- one of my first sporting memories is seeing Keith Jackson sitting in some contrived Calgary ski lodge in a red blazer, then being sad when it wasn't on TV anymore.

   Beyond that, though, I just get into it and knowing it's there. This kind of stuff. And I'm much more likely to watch the 50km cross-country race than the marathon ... with the Vancouver Games just a three-hour time difference, I'd like to think NBC will notice their awful ratings and maybe try to show some stuff when it actually happens. Given it's the last shot they'll have to do it until at least 2014 -- Beijing's going to be a blast, I'm telling you -- I can hope.

   And wait for the best part of the Winter Olympics' quadrennial afterglow ... the World Cup.

February 25, 2006 - Milk Lung Removal
   I'm Warning You Now: Wednesday feels like a "Let's Write A Column Defending Bode Miller Day," since I'm pretty sure he's not actually the Antichrist, Hitler and (insert laughable pop star here) all rolled up into one.

   Personally, I think it's funny so many people care about a ski racer who they wouldn't have known if he'd kicked their dog two months ago. And I think it's stragely admirable that he went to the Olympics and "partied at an Olympic level," or whatever he said.

   But that's just me, and I still steal music ... now at a more alarming rate than ever!

Feb. 26 Cover
-- You know the drill.

Family Affair At Finish Line
-- New Bedford High's legendary basketball coach, stewarding his senior son. I like it, though I'm biased.

   And apropos of nothing, can we stop saying the Americans had such an awful Olympics when they finished second in the medal count? Just because NBC missed on a majority of their storylines shouldn't be news ... they missed on how to cover the damn Games.

   • Clearly, the curling slam motivated them.

February 24, 2006 - Sex, Not Soy, Bomb
   Let The Passion Live On: With the American public awakening to a new curling world today after our nation's first medal in pushing three decades, it seems only fitting that now is when I truly realize that the Men's World Championship is coming to ... Lowell next month.

Map to Lowell
-- Not quite next door, though it's better than, say, Glasgow

   Now, I can't exactly figure out why any sport needs a world championship all of a month after the Olympics end ... the Paralympians figured it out. Nor can I figure out why "pin trading and buying" is discussed as a "traditional curling activity" when I've been led to believe "drinking" is a far more popular one -- Lord knows no one in Lowell would complain all that loudly.

   All I know is that I need to go. Yes, for enjoyment, but also so I can get a little bit bored watching an entire 10-end game and quiet that Olympic passion until a little closer to 2010.

Blurred Curl
-- When you blur it, it looked like they filled the house arena.

   Last Gratuitous Shot At Lowell: If nothing else, the curlers will be as athletic as the River Hawks.

   Skate Switzerland: I haven't exactly watched a whole lot of the 2006 Olympics -- something about knowing most of the results before I see the events ... thanks, NBC! -- but I've seen enough to hear twice from Dick Button that he almost thinks there's something in the Swiss water because of their long history of "strong spinners."

   And no, I'm not posting this because of the Lowell tie-in. I'm posting this because it allows me to link why never to attend a skating event.

   Or depending on your perspective, why to often attend a skating show.

   • Tonight, Julie bought me what she keeps referring to as "girlie toilet paper." Four rolls, with such technological advancements as not having the consistency of rest-stop bathroom towels.

   She actually asked me to write this. And really, I've done enough other stupid things that this seems like well within the bounds.

February 23, 2006 - I Enjoy Shadows
   Sharing Is Caring: Today, the the large, palette-like package of toilet paper I bought while a senior in college was finally expired, some four years after it was probably purchased. Sadly, I did not mention it on here, least as far as Google knows. And really, what doesn't Google know?

   It was not the finest quality toilet paper ... probably counted as one-ply in this sissified world we live in. But, fof goodness sake, it hardened me. Made me better able to take on Whale City. Gave me something to put in that cabinet above the sink. I just don't know if 2006 toilet paper will be the same.

   Or if I can easily buy 24 rolls of it without getting a membership somewhere.

   Stay tuned for when the eight bars of soap runs out sometime in early 2007.

   It's Spoiling: Speaking of college days, it's good to see the undergraduate population at the alma mater has it as tough as ever.

While Agganis Arena is situated in the middle of Boston University's West Campus, it is not owned or operated by the university, a little-known arrangement that has left some students disappointed with seats purchased through university-only presales.

. . .

The pre-sale process has drawn both criticism and acclaim from the student body, many claiming their seats were not in prime locations.

   Cherry-picking quotes? A little bit. Not the best-written story in the world? Absolutely.

   But when I was a boy, there wasn't cable in every dorm room and Agganis Arena was a parking lot and large brick building filled with a track and friggin' wrestling meets. We got Guster to come to campus approximately 47 times. After a while, I was pretty sure they were living in that damn student union pipe organ, which is probably less cooler than it sounds like.

   Ooh! And there was that time Ralph Nader came! And that Mighty Mighty Bosstones show I didn't go to, but wrote about for the paper. And the kicker ... the Bob Dylan performance where I could have gotten free tickets and scalped them for like $75 if I'd had any foresight.

   In short, the lesson is as always: Not that I'm an idiot, but when you've got a humongous fitness center on campus, complete with rock wall and probably some sort of smoothie fountain, shutting up is among your best options.

   Because, as you know, I was forced to go to BU at gunpoint.

   • It's always good when you design a page pretty much how you had it in your mind, but when the end of the night comes and there's a little thing wrong, you realize you're not entirely sure of what the hell you just did.

   You know what that means ...


Feb. 24, 2006
-- We like track, and I like making things interesting.

   My biggest fear when this was done was that there wasn't enough white space to warrant the design, and that the page thus was a little too busy. Still, I felt like if that was going to be my centerpiece -- and I'd been led to believe it should be -- I needed to do something to make it eye-catching.

   And I rewrote the story some too, so there's a good chance I'll have enraged everyone who picks up the paper Friday morning and didn't have intimate knowledge of what the heck was going on.

   The only way it could have been better is if I could have gotten a shot put 'embedded' in the page. Or, perhaps, a tape measure peeking around a corner. But at that point, I'm drowning in a sea of 'What the hell am I doing?'

   And there was no toilet paper to sop up the blood.

February 22, 2006 - I Miss Buddy, What Can I Say?
   Open Question: It's not normal to impulse donate to your alma mater, is it? Nor is it normal to do it just to get the mail off the living-room table.

   I didn't think so, but thank you for humoring me.

   • I suppose it's fair to mention here that I may be moving over the summer ... not changing jobs per se, but vacating the Whale City Estate and heading west to Providence, where I can live in a larger city, nor take advantage of the cultural opportunities, but be glad they're there.

   In my barely worth mentioning so far research, I've discovered Providence is chock full of newly renovated lofts for artists to live. There's one area south of the city that has three developments within about a mile, and another by the mall that isn't so much for artists given the retractible-roof swimming pool and the full fitness center and the areas for business meetings.

   This can clearly only end one way -- with me breaking into the Brown University football stadium to kick field goals and being arrested by campus police.

   I only pass it along now so you'll be ready to post my bail and look at the pictures.

February 21, 2006 - They're Still In Torino, Right?
   The Things You Learn: Apparently, the edited translation of 'contrivoversy' is, not surprisingly, 'controversy.' Which really is the exact opposite of contrivoversy, but given my word has only seven Google entries so far, it's going to take some time and money to make it mainstream.

Manny's Delay No Big Deal
-- Remember: If you can't say anything nice,
don't tell the editor in chief you have a Web site.

   • Today's excitement, outside of poker-related events that led me to inform a fellow player I was trying to be an "Internet tough guy," was going into work and finding the aforementioned EIC was seeking to know the technological prowess of his employees.

   Among the questions asked:

Have you built your own Web site?
Do you know HTML?
Do you have a blog?
Have you done radio and/or TV?
Have you ever made a movie?
Do you know how to use audio/video cassettes?
Do you own a digital camera?
Do you "know" laptop?

   If I'd felt so prepared for any test I ever took in college, I'd already be working at the Globe.

   And as such, hello Mr. Unger. As if to exhibit my technological prowess, know I was among the first people in the office to figure out you were semi-famous. I think that alone should mean a triple in base pay.

   If not a quadruple because I'm willing to haunt the guy whose squatting in your domain.

   And as for being an Internet tough guy, all I'm saying is if you play a lot of online poker, don't get all indignant when somebody catches a BS river card. It's part of the charm ... kind of like playing $100 blackjack hands impulsively, then being rewarded for it.

   Not that I'll ever own up to that three weeks from now when everyone figures out I was serious.

February 20, 2006 - Saving Space
   Continuing The Minimalist Theme: Why is St. Louis the best baseball town in the country? Because the public was clamoring to have this answered.

   Though very soon, they're probably also going to want to know why they have a mediocre team in an antiseptic new ballpark. They'll always have the Bowling Hall of Fame to fall back on.

   • Just for the record, I knew seven of the 20 Things You Didn't Know About U.S. Presidents.

   If only I could figure out what that bread-like brown covering on those big hunks of sushi were tonight. I suppose it's possible that it was just breading, but I'd like to imagine I ate something exotic. Like, say, eel liver.

   On second thought, never mind.

   This is what happens when I get Mondays off.

February 19, 2006 - The Riblets Aren't Free
   Yesterday: I linked to some stories. They're actually not bad.

   Plus they're about baseball, and they aren't the AP story du jour -- David Ortiz arrived at camp and, wait for this, he didn't know where Manny Ramirez was!

   Two weeks from now, that'll be me. I know you can't wait.

   • If someone wants to e-mail Dianna Abdala on my behalf, I'd appreciate it ... when she gets around to reviewing all the message boards mocking her person, I'll probably get lost behind the Fark thread, and really, that one wasn't as fun.

The moral of the story, use Craig's List to get rid of your old couch, or find out who that pretty girl was standing on the corner of Ludlow and Stanton in the long green dress fidgeting with her iPod....you looked at her, she looked back. Your eyes meeting in an amorous tango....then your cab pulled up, and you were gone...

Don't use Craig's list to find a Criminal Defense Associate.

   OK, that one was pretty good.

February 18, 2006 - X
   Shows I'll Definitely Enjoy, Because I'm Definitely Watching: Wednesday night on MTV, True Life: I'm A Competitive Eater.

   And in a twist, I stumbled across some of 'Fat Camp' this afternoon ... people were lying by a lake after their weigh-in, one of which a girl "failed" because she's been "going out too much."

   Told you it was better in the abstact.

   • Hard as it is to believe, I still do some writing.

Baseball's Spring Stories Begin Anew
-- A little review of some spring stories that have nothing to do with the Sox.

   And occasionally, I do it pretty well.

Touching All The Bases
-- And who better to discuss the Sox issues than Terry Francona?

   Twenty minutes on the phone. Thanks to bench coach Brad Mills for getting lost while the two were driving so there was more time for li'l old me.

   Insert comment about ... well, something, here.

February 17, 2006 - Free Candle With Large Purchase
   A Musical Thought: Bear in mind, this is from someone who was excited to hear Milli Vanilli (or whomever was singing) on the radio earlier today, and thought it expressed hope Vanilla Ice might soon return to the airwaves in this "shuffle weekend" world:

   If the Pussycat Dolls ever collaborated with the Black Eyed Peas, would it cause God (after he was done disposing of the burrito so hot, even He could not eat it) to return to the Earth and jump-start the Apocalypse?

   Or would it render the Creator powerless, as the sheer magnitude of the gyrating and nonsensical lyrics would make Him wonder if his creation had spun completely out of control?

   I'm open to debate on the topic.

   • I don't know about you, but I can't wait for the first sportswriter who has never watched a second of snowboarding to complain about Lindsay Jacobellis.

   My money's on someone from ESPN.com, but again, I'm open to a debate.

February 16, 2006 - Brownie Nation
   Today, There's Really Nothing: As such, here's a transcript of the Johnny Weir feature I attempted to quote earlier in the week:

"I know that a lot of people, especially the more Republican-style people, are very afraid of what I mean to the sport and what I'm going to say, what kind of revolutionary, crazy things are going to come out of my mouth. Good for them, they should be scared.

"I'm not a good, little figure skater that goes to bed at 8:30 every night and gets up at 6:30, eats my three meals and goes to bed again. [in the background, playing on his car radio, as he's driving in the piece, swear to God, is 'What a Girl Wants, What a Girl Needs']. I'm a real person. I do real things.

"I'm not going to be the shiny, sparkly, flower-holding figure skater that sits here and says I'm going to do my best today and if I don't, then I'll go home and train really hard next time. That's not me. I'm going to be really angry if I skate bad and I'll probably say crazy things. That's how I rock it.

"I'm not for everybody. There are going to be people that like you and people that hate you. There's nothing I can do. I don't think I'm a diva or pompous enough to be in the position of acting like a diva, but I like things the way I like them to be. It's really my own game and my own agenda and to live my life as happy as I can be.

"I'm not out there to be a puppet for anyone. ... For now, my critics can eat it. I want people to remember me as someone that pushed the envelope, pushed the boundaries of the [he makes an air quotes move with his hands] 'United States figure skating establishment.' ... I'm happy with who Johnny Weir is."

   I can tell with absolute certainty my mother has not been watching the men's figure skating because, if she had, there would have been a phone call. Especially if she'd seen his comments following his fifth-place finish.

"I missed the bus. They changed the schedule. It was every 10 minutes. Today it was every half-hour. I was late getting here and never caught up. I never felt comfortable in this building. I didn't feel my inner peace, I didn't feel my aura. Inside I was black."

   Though on the plus side, it would have been a pretty uncomfortable phone conversation. One I only could have diffused by calling him "Johnny Weird," and that might not even have worked.

   • Now, I can say with some certainty when a story comes out about people being dumbasses via e-mail, it's enjoyable because it shows either a complete lack of intelligence or some deeper seeded personality issues.

Once again, a friendly reminder: The next time you're tempted to send a nasty, exasperated, or snippy e-mail, pause, take a deep breath, and think again. Then consider the tale of local lawyers William A. Korman and Dianna L. Abdala.

   However, when you consider that I graduated high school with one Dianna L. Abdala, things just get a whole hell of a lot more enjoyable.

Korman was miffed that Abdala notified him by e-mail this month that, after tentatively agreeing to work at his law firm, she changed her mind. Her reason: ''The pay you are offering would neither fulfill me nor support the lifestyle I am living."

In his e-mail reply, Korman told Abdala that her decision not to have told him in person ''smacks of immaturity and is quite unprofessional," and noted that in anticipation of her arrival, he had ordered stationery and business cards for her, reformatted a computer, and set up an e-mail account. Nevertheless, he wrote, ''I sincerely wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors."

Her curt retort: ''A real lawyer would have put the contract into writing and not exercised any such reliance until he did so."

His: ''Thank you for the refresher course on contracts. This is not a bar exam question. You need to realize that this is a very small legal community, especially the criminal defense bar. Do you really want to start pissing off more experienced lawyers at this early stage of your career?"

Abdala's final three-word response: ''bla bla bla."

That's when the exchange, confirmed as authentic yesterday by Korman and Abdala, began whipping through cyberspace, landing in e-mail in-boxes around the city and country, and, eventually, across the Atlantic.

   Now, sadly, I can't sit here and say that she and I have ever exchanged words. Despite the fact that she also moved from being a member of the Agawam High School Class of 1998 to being a member of the Boston University Class of 2002, we never knew each other. I'm reasonably sure we did cross paths once on a Green Line train in my undergrad days -- me heading somewhere downtown, and her heading somewhere else dressed more befitting of a school chock full of the children of millionaires:

Abdala, who described herself as a ''trust fund baby," was admitted to the Massachusetts bar last year and said that since then she has ''just been taking it easy" because ''I worked hard in school." She decided to respond to Korman's job posting because ''I wanted to establish somewhat of a career for myself," she said. ''No one wants to be living off daddy." Abdala's father, George S. Abdala, is a Springfield lawyer.

Abdala said she is now working for herself by renting space from a lawyer on Franklin Street in Boston, where she will take court-appointed cases and do private criminal defense work.

Abdala said she has no regrets about the e-mail exchange. She said she has reported Korman to the Board of Bar Overseers for ''unprofessional and unethical" conduct for forwarding her e-mail to an outside party. She also said she believes that Korman's remark about Boston's ''small legal community" was tantamount to ''threatening my legal career," and that he circulated the e-mails as a ''cheap ploy to bring more business to his firm."

   What I can tell you is a story that I'm reasonably sure is true -- sure enough that I'm telling it despite it being about an apparent psychopath with a Bar card. There's no denying Abdala is smart and a hard worker, as she graduated AHS in three years. This is probably something a few of the 19 graduating ahead of me could have done, but as you might expect, not everyone savors The Agawam High School Experience the way I did.

   So it comes to graduation day and Symphony Hall in downtown Springfield. Everybody files in alphabetically and, about an hour in, the diplomas start getting handed out. The first recipient is, surprise of surprises, Dianna Abdala.

   Walking right to left, Abdala gets her diploma, traverses the stage, goes down the steps, takes off her gown and walks out of the building. Her reason for attending, clearly over.

   Clearly, this is a story of far more interest to the subset of us who actually hail from the state's butt end. However, I do rejoice in knowing I and my misplaced air of superiority beat the little prodigy into the pages of the Globe by four months.

-- Score one for the me.

February 15, 2006 - The Beats Turn Good
   Shows I'd Probably Enjoy Less If I Actually Watched Them: MTV's Fat Camp, which TiVo describes as "five teenagers struggle to maintain a healthy lifestyle."

   It aired after a MADE episode where a 280-pound girl was trying to lose 60 pounds and ended up running a 5k -- which I'm pretty sure I could do -- and opposite a VH1 mini-marathon of "Celebrity Fit Club."

   Not that, you know, networks have found a new programming niche or anything.

   And For The Record: I ran for 20 minutes today, the first time I've opened the treadmill since I hurt my foot (or at least convinced myself I hurt my foot) about a month ago.

   Let me tell you, it made the Doritos taste that much sweeter while I was watching the Olympics.

   • In lieu of nothing better, this is cool looking.

   Though it is good to see that, as a society, we've found a replacement to the days when they'd ask if you had any weapons or bombs in your suitcase at the airline ticket counter.

Metallica is watching ...

   Part of me wanted to click the top one and see what would happen, but with the amount of illegal drugs I've been selling out of this apartment, the last thing I need is a sting operation to kick down the door.

   Plus, I already tried to kick down the door once when I locked myself out. Busted a hairline crack in it, but that was it. The best part was, mentally, I think I was trying to break down the door without actually breaking the door. As though that's possible.

   And I suppose I shouldn't say I'm selling illegal drugs out of the apartment when all I've done is take some prescribed steroids and Valium, plus refuse the guy who asked me for a light through my open window. Technically, they're not one and the same.

February 14, 2006 - More Hotel Notepads
   The New Sensation: Now sweeping the nation ... the Johari window.

A Johari window is a metaphorical tool intended to help people better understand their interpersonal communication and relationships. It is used primarily in self-help groups and corporate settings as a heuristic device to encourage people to open up to another in self-disclosure. ... The test consists of a list of terms, each of which is an adjective relating to a personality trait. A subject will select a few of these terms which he/she feels describes himself best. Each of his/her peers will then select a few terms which that person feels describes the subject best. The terms are then plotted in a square grid divided along two axes into four quadrants.
-- What Wikipedia readers made up about it.

   The natural instinct would be to make my own, but really, it would jsut take away from the time I spend lovingly reading fake advertisements via e-mail.

Topical humor.
-- See? Topical humor.

   Just so happened I turned the TV on this morning to see young Rufus, the colored bull terrier, win his group on the way to winning Best in Show last night. At the office, I read somewhere that his victory was in large part was due to his head being the perfect shape "of an egg."

   And why did I read that? Because the Westminster story moves on the sports wire for a reason, I'm sure, someone somewhere thinks is good.

   • After at least a half-dozen efforts and many hours spent not watching curling, tonight I finished 16th in a 170-player online poker tournament. This is notable since they actually paid 20 places, and led to the most exciting $30 profit I've ever earned in a two and a half hour period.

   At one point, after the first hour break, I had the third-largest stack in the tournament. That, however, devolved to me swearing I would not finish 21st, as I folded some obscene number of hands in a row with the field at that size after losing two-thirds of my stack on a borderline play -- I had top pair on the board with a king kicker, but was drawing dead ... go figure.

   There's no reason to be telling you this, but really, I didn't want to just rear back and spill the news that some journalists don't get wrestling.

   And I didn't want to just tear into the mini-feature run on America's Johnny Weir prior to his short program airing. The one where he's lying on a couch in Ugg boots and a CCCP sweater, saying that he's not your "normal figure skater," going to bed at 8:30 every night, that he doesn't think he's a "diva" and that his critics can "eat it."

A Swan's Story

   I enjoyed the inclusion of his car stereo playing "What A Girl Wants." Not because of any sort of stereotype, given Johnny Weir might be the most effeminate man I've ever seen, but just because I think there's an NBC producer who included it for that very reason.

February 13, 2006 - Stone's Throw
   To Your Suntan Lotion: With the Sun's warming rays softly melting my parking spot as we speak -- I somehow managed to jump into my car without stepping in a snowdrift -- it's now official. From Mar. 6-15, I will be in Fort Myers, Fla., covering spring training for your Boston Red Sox.

   I'm sure it's just a coincidence that, in booking my own trip, I made sure to include a trip to Dodgertown in there. Because really, every nine-day stretch of work should include a four-hour commute that's entirely unfeasible.

   More to come on this story as I realize I'm staying at an Econo Lodge.

   I'll Keep It Brief: I have to admit, when other people in my office are taking up the flag of Boston College just because they're sick of BU winning so much, I can know what it feels like to be a Yankee fan.

   Especially since 27 is one more than 26.

-- And yes, even with all the winning,
they are still exciting every year.

   I remember when I was an undergrad, with the six in a row streak flying, we figured out that winning through my senior year would mean 25 out of 50. It didn't happen.

   Now, it has, sealed with a Jack Parker fist pump. And it happened the way it always seems to -- getting the breaks they worked for. The game was tied for 54 seconds in the final period, and just as when I was a senior sitting in the club seats getting hugged by that little kid, the final break went the scarlet way.

   And yes, "the scarlet way" is a little much. Pardon me if I get a little emotional this time of year ... I miss that train ride back to campus afterward.

   • The evolution of fandom.

   The day started with me watching the TiVo'd curling match from 3 a.m. -- the U.S. routing defending gold medalists Norway thanks to five in the eighth end. As that began, I was still pretty sure what was going on, but needed to slowly refresh myself as to the rules and the scoring -- it has been four years since I watched a match.

   This, logically, led to the evening in the office, when we watched the U.S. lose to Finland on the final shot. Not only was I explaining to everyone else in the office both the rules and some of the rudimentary lingo, I found myself questioning skip Pete Fenton's play on the final stone. He opted to try nudging his own stone on the left when, to me, the more logical play might have been attempting a knockout on the right.

   So I went from mentally double checking knowing how the game is scored to questioning the leader of the U.S. team at the Olympics in about seven hours.

   Seems perfectly logical to me.

   And for the record, this evening I did check the feasibility of my joining a curling club -- the closest one is on the Cape. This took all of a match and a half on the first day of what, I believe, is 11 straight days in Turin.

   It's a good thing I'm not actually rich, though I'm pretty sure thinking like this is what allows The Sharper Image to stay with their overhead.

February 12, 2006 - Your Own Personal Hell
   In The End: We got somewhere in the vicinity of a foot of snow in Whale City, with the 12 inches barely beating the 11 pizzas we ordered on the company dime during the evening work shift.

   Drinking, however, was cancelled. The bar may have been open, but people apparently get a little iffy when they're then supposed to drive in such a snowbank-friendly landscape.

   For the record, I walked to work. Only once did I misstep and end up in a snowdrift, and it had nothing to do with the rage evident when I discovered the Subway was closed.

   All Your Worst Fears: For once delivering on what I promised, I bring you what might soon be referred to as the recurring feature of the damned:


SportsMonday -- Feb. 16, 2006
-- Welcome to the other side of my job.

   On Mondays, our section goes tabloid based on the wishes of a regime before I came along -- granted, I know all the parties involved, but it's more fun to say it like that. There are a lot of people at the paper who wish we were like this all the time, and I like it because I feel like I can treat the covers more like magazines.

   This one, I must admit, is based on Josh's idea as refined by me. After deadline, we both realized the new pagination system would have allowed us to turn either the letters (his thinking) or the drop shadow (mine) the blue of the Turin Olympic logo. Cool as it looked, hindsight makes me think maybe it really is better like this. And yes, I did figure out how to make outline type all by myself, thank you very much.

   As with everything else, suggestions and improvements are welcome. Even on the days where I get bitchy about them, since that only proves they're needed the most.

   • Perhaps my favorite part about this new feature is that in the repeated times I've brought it up and asked how to do it, Josh keeps implying it's so I can create a file of them, attach them to my resume and get a job somewhere else. I wonder if he knows the sad truth -- it really is just so I can post them on here and show off when I think I have something to show off about.

   I'm not sure he really understands the Web site to this day. Though I suppose that's alright, since I don't really think I understand it much either.

   It is good to know, however, that there are other people out there who don't find it odd that I just set up my TiVo to record the live 3 a.m. Norway-U.S. curling match on USA Network.

February 11, 2006 - Insufficient
   Clarification: It was, in fact, not snowing when I returned home from work tonight after a successful 10 p.m. deadline shift. The only place white could be seen was on my burgeoning person, since when Cal's Roast Beef in Fairhaven says "Large Onion Rings," they mean "Large Onion Rings."

   I suppose I could say I was taking one for the team, since they have an absurd $50 minimum order for delivery. And really, my personal well-being isn't worth much more than that extra dollar.

   Reminiscing: After Sly pointed out the Wikipedia list of one-episode wonders, it got me to wondering whether I have any real recollection of any of them.

   Fortunately, for the sake of this discussion, I do.

   What's sad is it's not "Heil Honey I'm Home," the always-popular vehicle "in which Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun have survived the war and are living in 1950s New York City next door to a Jewish couple." I was actually thinking of this show, which I liked a lot better when they remade it, e-mailed a young Reese Witherspoon and called it Pleasantville.

-- Look. I'm not making the joke about sleeping with a colored boy.
You can do it. I have faith, and you have as complete a lack of taste as I do.

   If "Pleasantville" was on the $5 DVD rack the next time I end up in Wal-Mart, I would pick it up and read the back at least twice before walking away without it. To me, that's the sign of a good movie ... certainly not the caliber of the films that I actually buy in that scenario, but very close.

   Anyway, with a nod to The Oblongs -- which wasn't so much awful as it was nondescript -- I remember fondly seeing a commercial for FOX's Who's Your Daddy. I watched the commercial, it faded to black and I reclined the chair.

   Had there been anyone else in the room, my exact words to them would have been "Since when did FOX start airing old episodes of 'Saturday Night Live'?"

   And no, I didn't make that up because the Wikipedia page has a whole spiel on Pedro Martinez. As I've said a million times, of all the postgame press conferences to skip and all the ones I've attended with little payoff, that's the one I passed on to go straight to the clubhouse.

   • So anyway ...

   It seems incredible to me now that for the literally hundreds of times I've walked past the Paradise, it took more than seven years for me to actually go to a show there. Downright absurd, even by my standards. I was hoping all night Nick would make some sort of joke alluding to which one of us would be Drew Bledsoe and which would be Max Lane. Given how many shows he's a veteran of, I'm guessing he's moved passed it.

   As you may be aware, I rarely move past anything that didn't get ugly and, thus, forfeit my superficial tendencies.

Messier, 23, filed the suit against Everclear, Bledsoe, Lane and the Paradise in Suffolk County Superior Court on Wednesday. The suit alleges that Everclear and the Paradise allowed the burly football players onstage and then encouraged them to dive into the crowd, resulting in Lane allegedly landing on her head and rupturing two discs in her neck.
-- Serves them all right for encouraging Everclear with money.

   Anyway, after I got over that and wondering if I was walking in any of the footsteps of those clowns who beat up Moby, I was taken with how small the actual club was. It struck me that within an hour or so, one of the ugliest men in rock -- Gaz Coombes -- would be about 15 feet away from me. Given jostling, it actually ended up being about 25 feet, but the overriding point was that it didn't make much matter.

   He's slightly less ugly in person, and the drummer is pretty much my generic image of what British guys look like.

   And they all rock. Like, a lot.

   I'd refreshed myself on just what was the new album and what wasn't on the drive in. It didn't much matter, since when you go 10 years without hearing much of a band's catalogue you're going to be puzzled at times, but it also didn't much matter because they haven't exactly had many missteps in the interim.

   I first heard Supergrass when I was in Wales for part of the summer of '96 -- I've been telling people that the song I heard was Mansize Rooster, but as I think about it, I might have actually come across Alright first. Regardless, not buying any of their albums, I proceeded to forget about them until sometime last year, when I noticed Nick talking about their 10-year retrospective, oddly named ... Supergrass is 10. The rest is elementary.

   That's how good the little immigrant is. He teaches you things you already know.

   And yes, that's two racist jokes in the same update. Given my French Canadian heritage, I now surrender and will cry into a short stack.

   Opening up acoustic, with the members of the band coming out one by one, it quickly morphed into two hours of the big-haired guy (who aged at least 15 years in my head when he turned around) in front of us jumping, the British guy in the turtleneck to the left questioning "How many guitars do you need, Gaz?!," the weathered 'that guy' in the leather and Supergrass T-shirt sort of shifting around and freaking me out, and one encore. Oh, and the rocking. It wasn't perfect, since they never did just break into "Mansize Rooster" out of nowhere and what I thought was their best song of the night -- a rocked-out version of I'd Like To Know -- apparently doesn't exist anywhere where I can buy it.

   It probably wouldn't be the same anyway since there wouldn't be people crushing me in every direction, but I spent so long trying to remember that one chorus fragment so I could look it up later.

   That said, I can't think BU embarassing UMass by a shot count of 43-19 would have been anywhere near as rewarding for the money. Everyone should be so lucky to go to a show and realize that they really should like the act they're seeing far more than they already do, which was the case on Friday night.

   And for the record, Pilotdrift was a more-than-passable opening act. I spent most of the part of their set we saw feeling like it would be the soundtrack to being in space, right up until they started beating on tribal drums at the end and crashed the shuttle in Africa.

   I think I was the only one of the group not to tell them I enjoyed their show when they were discovered standing between the coat check and the bathroom afterward. It's not because I didn't enjoy them ... I'm just shy.

February 10, 2006 - Only An Acoustic Interlude
   Story of the Day, Yesterday Edition: I'd like to think that if I were making up a news story that one would see on 'Inside Edition' -- the show so awful, I won't link to it -- it would include a voiceover like this:

"NEXT! You won't believe what people are illegally dumping.
A couch!
A toilet!
A bag full of puppies!

   Then, when it became clear that they actually did have video of a man throwing a bag of puppies into the woods, the game began. What fake thing could be thrown on to the end of the list to make the story even better?

A barely-used exercise bike!
The Minnesota North Stars!
Michael Bolton CDs!
Childrens' letters to God!
Those dreams of being in a rock band!
A Kobe Bryant Nutella collectible!

   And this was after I freaked out because of the Britney Spears car seat story, with video of Britney buying a car seat in January that was so exclusive, it was aired on three different shows within a two-hour window.

   Story of the Day, Today Edition: Normally, Agawam High hockey beating the rich bitches of Longmeadow would just be something I could enjoy for a couple minutes. Read the story, think about that time I went to an Agawam hockey game, try to remember why I went to an Agawam hockey game, wonder if it was the time we had to fill my friend's radiator with snow, figure out it wasn't, then forget what the hell I was reading.

   Except this time, I find out the team is being coached by a guy I not only graduated with, but who I played Little League with for pretty much the duration of my baseball career.

   For the record, my baseball career lasted five years, three of which I think I collectively had about four hits. We're talking "get excited when I would pop out to short" levels of inadequacy. Fortunately, I was an excellent defensive center fielder.

   Unfortunately, they don't let you play "designated fielder," and I once struck out to end the travel team's suburban season. I'm still not exactly sure how I got on that team, but my father being asked to be an assistant coach probably didn't hurt.

   We were totally like six levels away from being in the Little League World Series. And yes, I did actually think about that when we lost.

   But anyway, Rich Feeley, way to be teaching history and political science at the high school, and way to be generally. Say hi to the probably three or so people in the building who would at least make a quizzical face if told I said hello.

   Commercial of the Day, Today Edition: For the Sanford-Brown Institute, from that pantheon of all the great commercials, Jerry Springer.

Do you long for a career in the medical industry,
but can't stand the sight of blood?

   For the record, today's Springer episode was "Hillbillies and Gay Men in Shorts".

   'Emily's Reasons Why Not' was cancelled after one episode.

   Jerry Springer has been on for 15 YEARS.

   • Now, I don't often -- I don't think -- tell you what to like. After all, there's already a Web site entirely devoted to that.

   However, I'm going to encourage you to listen to more Supergrass. Not just because I remember all the forgettable bands in this Boston Herald lede -- they're all forgettable, despite their place on the iRiver -- but because a band of that quality really shouldn't be playing a 650 capacity club. Not when Kid Rock will inevitably sell out Agganis in late March.

   Granted, I was gladly there tonight to take advantage of the U.S. public's lack of taste, but I'd like to think at some point everyone will figure out that this James Blunt guy? The soldier? The one everyone's all hot under the collar about?

   He kinda sucks. I'm sure he's a great guy, but I kinda wish he'd stuck to the soldiering.

   I'll actually write about the show tomorrow, since I know damn well it's going to be snowing when I come home Saturday night, and I'll need something to undepress me.

   And yes, that's not a word. Not even close.

February 9, 2006 - Recruiting The Fan Base
   My Own Worst Enemy: Tonight at dinner, Julie quoted what I wrote about her on the first Valentine's Day for which we were a couple in an effort to prove that I do actually believe in and participate in Valentine's Day.

   This was shortly before I lashed out at the ending of the Bruins game, which saw BC alum Brian Gionta beat Tim Thomas on an admittedly pretty goal in overtime.

   Fortunately, I was able to then calmly explain why we used to chant "Kill the mid-get!" at him during games. Because one must always remain true to their school.

   • At the gas station this afternoon, a short message interrupted the easy listening which I was enjoying, encouraging me to practice proper pump etiquette.

"Here at Mobil, we remind you to complete your transaction by returning the nozzle to the island dispenser."

   I want to believe there are people in Lakeville just ripping the gas hose out of the car and throwing it on the ground, as a three-year-old would with a played-with toy, and driving away.

   And by away, I mean directly into the bushes between the station and the road.

   While this isn't a very interesting story, I don't remember all the details of the waitress at Isaiah's Restaurant in downtown Whale City telling two of my coworkers that she likes to scratch the eyes out of my headshot because my columns annoy her so much.

   What makes the story is that, about three days before, I had gone to eaten lunch at Isaiah's with one of the same guys and had the very waitress in question. She either didn't connect that I'm that guy or just decided she hated me in the intervening hours because my tip hadn't been big enough.

   And that's just not the case, because I overtip to make up for my inadequacies as a man.

February 8, 2006 - Conversation Hearts
   Things That Are Not Awesome: The apparent trend for married couples to let their last names enjoy coitus and come out with a 'supername.'

It's just a made-up moniker, but it is made up of our commitment to equality, with a nod to family history and a dash of out-of-the-box creativity. Most important, it is a name we share and will share with our potential offspring. To me there is no sound so sweet.

To others it sounds, well, weird.

. . .

Since Rudoren did not appear on our marriage certificate, change meant a court order, a six-week process that costs $389 (plus $143 for 15 certified copies). Among the eight name changers in the Cook County Chancery Division with us on Jan. 13 were two transsexuals, a young man reclaiming his father's surname, a middle-aged man who found an unfamiliar name on his birth certificate when he went to get a passport for a cruise, and Alan Goldenstein, who was adopting his wife's name, Behnke, as a middle name.

   It's a fun story, I'll say that.

   Though I'll also say if anyone thinks I'm moving this damn Web site ever again, they're overestimating my 'commitment to equality.'

   Things That Could Be Awesome: Tony Kornheiser on Monday Night Football. I'm forcing myself to remain optimistic only because PTI is still so enjoyable ... in my mind, it should have become insufferable about a year after it started.

   Mike Tirico is also generally solid, and I'd like to think Joe Theismann will be better away from the clowns he used to work with.

   Bear in mind I also liked the Dennis Miller experiment because I felt like it struck a blow for smart people.

   Things That Are Awesome: College hockey at Fenway Park.

''We're going to do it," said a BC official yesterday. ''It's just a matter of finding an opponent and a date that will work. But we're going to play a game in Fenway."

The details will be worked out over the next several weeks, and they could include the Boston University team as part of a doubleheader. The original idea called for such a doubleheader, with BU and BC against teams from the Midwest, possibly Michigan and Michigan State.

   I'm throwing this here because I find it hard to fathom they somehow could get the alma mater involved. I mean, of course they want the stage to themselves, but there are business people involved ... why would you freeze out a school with so many rich alumni who love college hockey?

   Plus I'm making the open threat now if they try to do this without the Terriers, I'm firebombing their whole campus. And I'm sure they know I don't make jokes about firebombing without having the capability to do it.

   • So Lisa, who I mentioned here the other day, has resurfaced -- she posted her photos from Hawaii online. It looks like it was a fun trip, which will undoubtedly be hard to dispute when Julie starts demanding a similar trip the next time she tries to make my face turn purple in public.

   Anyway, in scanning through the 255 photos via little postage stamp images, I came upon one that didn't really seem like it could be what I thought it was. So I clicked on it:

Hawaii has lovely picnic tables.
-- to find it was exactly what I thought it was.

   Though that isn't to say I have any idea what the hell I'm looking at.

   So your task for today is to explain to me what I'm seeing. I suppose you could call it a caption contest, but that would imply I'm going to swing through at the end, round things out and that's the end of it.

   That won't be happening.

   And for the record, I'm pretty sure that's not Lisa, nor her travel companions. Not only do the clothes not match, would you post a picture of you in something like that if you had one?

Snow Angel
-- Me neither.

   If nothing else, it's reassuring the entire world hasn't shunned the granny panty.

February 7, 2006 - Throwing The Baseball
   I'm Not Sure I Fully Understand This:

-- But it feels like it needs to be here.

A fan at Qwest Field in Seattle shows his frustration with the officials who called Sunday's Super Bowl between the Seattle Seahawks and the Pittsburgh Steelers as he stands at a welcome home rally for the team Monday in Seattle. The Seahawks were still stinging Monday from a few officials' calls that went against them, such as Darrell Jackson's touchdown catch that was taken away by a penalty and a disputed TD run by Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

   As always, my favorite part is the apostrophe. In this case, it looks like an afterthought ... as though he got to the stadium, looked at his sign and thought, "Shit! Punctuation!"

   In a semi-related story, during tonight's shift, it struck me that I hadn't been spell checking anything in the new system because it's a little too clunky for my liking. Suffice to say, we got that cleared up.

   I'll take that as the excuse why our six-page section was three minutes late, just so you know.

   • Now, don't think for one second I'm under the illusion anyone other than Sly cares about the daily machinations at the Whale City Tribune-Picayune. That's why I didn't include the joys of the recent Powerball drawings -- you don't actually want to buy a ticket when the secretary asks, but you know if you don't and they somehow win, you'll be the only one left to put out the paper the following day.

   See? Sometimes ruling by fear does work!

   However, Wednesday is going to be a special night at the ol' sports corral, as staffers other than me get their first swings at JazBox in the "real" world.

   As you might imagine since they don't have self-congratulatory Web sites they built themselves, I'm the most computer savvy of the bunch.

   Don't worry. I'll be keeping notes, since I don't actually get days off anymore.

February 6, 2006 - Don't Be Lopsided
   Upon Further Review: Other things that bear mentioning from Super Sunday:

   -- Guys, hurry up. The Magic Fridge is back. Magic Fridge, Magic Fridge.

   Across the board, the Bud Light commercials were almost enough to make me wish that Bud Light wasn't so much like Mexican water. If only I believed office workers would destroy their building to find them in some sort of St. Patrick's Day beer hunt.

   -- When the commercial for Gilette's new Fusion razor came on -- the razor used to shave Ben Roethlisberger -- I screamed out and questioned God to the delight of at least one co-worker. Really, that's all I can ever ask for.

   I was only half kidding, since if you count the edging blade on the blade, we're closing on halfway to the Platinum Mach 14.

   -- For as much as I enjoy ripping Bill Simmons, I have to admit that these things need to happen.

In the postgame show, after we hear from an emotional Cowher and MVP Hines Ward (hey, somebody had to win), Mike Tirico interviews Jerome Bettis (14 carries, 43 yards), who holds the trophy and stumbles through an endearing speech, finally announcing his retirement by saying, "I played this game to win a championship, I'm a champion, and I think the Bus, the last stop is here in Detroit."

If this were the WWE, the crowd would have cheered, Bettis would have held the trophy over his head, and then the Patriots' music would have started playing, followed by Belichick and Brady emerging to a chorus of boos, taunting Bettis with stuff like, "What's the matter, gettin' out while you can?" and "You're not the real champs until you go through us!" And then there would have been a huge fake brawl, followed by Bettis returning the following week for a tag-team match with Cowher as his partner.

   -- From the things I know that you don't file, while taping the Mobile ESPN commercial featuring him as a bit player, PBA pro Chris Barnes hurt his back and missed thus missed time on the tour.

   This is why you should never bowl on the sidewalk, apparently.

   -- Jessica Simpson, for Pizza Hut's new Heart Attack Pizza with the cheesy-bite crust.

   Am I the only person bothered by a girl who largely got away with her "I'm waiting for marriage" spiel now attempting to lift her legs at every turn and remind us how hot she is?

   Course, I suppose the opener to that is trying to decide if people actually do largely find her attractive, or just can't shake that image of her in the ProActiv acne cream commercials. I suppose if nothing else, this will prove if Lisa still uses the Internet.

Celebrate ... Part One?
-- Twelve straight finals, nine straight wins.
In case you thought I wasn't paying attention.

Much to the chagrin of Jon Couture's coworkers, Boston University's Dan Spang (11) and Jason Lawrence (22) celebrate a goal behind Harvard's Tom Walsh (15) and John Daigneau (1) during first-round play in the Beanpot college hockey tournamenton Monday. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

   • There was a point midway through tonight's work shift -- the first using our new pagination system -- where I caught myself thinking, "Hey. This isn't so bad. When we go back to the old system, we'll probably be better for knowing how to use this."

   It was at that point I realized we weren't going back to the old system. It was at that point where inside, I cried a little cry.

   Soon after, they bought us all Quizno's, and I got some foot-long sandwich that was covered in melted cheese, guacamole, bacon shrapnel and God knows what else.

   Fortunately, I had a side salad with it.

   For the record, four of us -- two with prior JazBox expeience, two without -- got our four-page section out by deadline on our first "live" night. I'm not quite sure how, running the desk, I ended up doing two of the four pages, but it's probably better for everyone that way.

   Coming soon? PDF files of covers ... because everyone needs to see the other half of the job that I'm not good at.

February 5, 2006 - They're Not All Super
   Cat Watch: Upon arriving at the apartment tonight, I noticed a small white, black and brown tabby walking near the Route 6 intersection. Because I'm me, I attempted to make my way over to the cat, but it ran under a car in our parking lot. Sitting next to the tire, I tried not to pet the collarless animal -- I thought it might bite for no particular reason -- but to call it out from under said car. The cat then ran around the far side of my building and disappeared when I tried to loop around and find it again.

   Going back inside, about a minute later I came back out and walked the full block hoping to see the cat again. I didn't find it, instead noticing a different cat running across my street. Furry enough to make me think it might have been a raccoon for a split second, this cat stared at me when I crouched and called it from across the street, but eventually trotted into bushes and also disappeared.

   So the score is now Cats 3, Cooch 0. My mother is way better at this game.

   For Lack of Anything Better: If every year I have to work on Super Sunday produces a game that uninspiring -- note I didn't say disappointing -- I may just bite the bullet and save myself the excess beer and precooked chicken consumption.

   It was nice to go shopping on Super Bowl afternoon and not buy any party supplies. I actually bought no food, instead aiming to remedy my not having any bars of soap in the apartment since roughly Thursday.

   So logically, I bought 16.Two eight-packs for seven dollars. One Irish Spring classic, the other Irish Spring with Micro Beads. Julie's right when she says the little blue specks are pumice, but I'd still like to think they're fiberglass.

   Because really, who's going to screw with a guy who washes his face with fiberglass shards?

Sad Seahawks

   • Having set a new American record tonight by doing 13.5 pages of our 19-page Monday sports tab by myself, there was not time to log commercials or anything like that. Sadly, much of the humor that flew around the office like that promotional football we have will have to pass to the winds of forgotten history.

   I'm making sure my proposed headline for this -- 'Juggalo Dead After Two In The Head' -- isn't on that same ride, but I can't make that play on everything just like Ben Roethlisberger can't honestly say Tommy Maddox wouldn't have been any worse tonight.

   However, let me say that there are some things I've learned in the past 24 hours.

   -- Harrison Ford has an earring now.

   -- The girl in the Mercury car commercials who regularly appears seven feet tell is named Jill Wagner, formerly of 'Punk'd.' As in many cases, she looks better without clothes on.

   I didn't even know there was a Mercury commercial on during the game. But if Darren Rovell saw one, that's good enough for me. Anyone who had the foresight to look at "Oh, The Places You'll Go!" sales rankings is clearly my better.

   -- Brooke Burke is lucky she came to prominence by hosting a show on E!, since it means she never really had any credibility to lose. It must help on the trips to the bank.

Let's party outside!

With a light snow falling and temperatures in the mid 20s, Tricia Smith, second from right, and some of her neighbors watch the Piitsburgh Steelers play the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl football game in front of her Carlisle, Ohio, apartment, Sunday Feb. 5, 2006. (AP Photo/Middletown Journal, Pat Auckerman)

   -- Given my pregame chatter on Sports Pulse, I'd like to say I came to more peace about the game's result. That upon seeing Jerome Bettis holding that trophy and announcing his retirement, I can congratulate the Steelers on their victory and credit them as being the best team in the National Football League this year.

   If only I didn't hate them, and instead encourage them to enjoy this year's 95-loss season by the Pirates, broken up only by the All-Star Game.

   PNC is a lovely park, however. I can't wait until people start homering into the river.

   Course, most Pittsburghers won't care about the All-Star Game because now they have their Super Bowl. But hey, they deserve it.

   As well as anything else they get. Any city that continues to produce a beer as awful as Iron City could be swallowed by a hurricane for all I care.

February 4, 2006 - The Doritos Find A Home
   Proud Days: It just keeps getting better.

   And now, for some further insight:

I got some news for you newscasters- how about you make society a better place by doing your job and finding GOOD news. Some news that would make people happy to hear when they wake up. Sure its easy to find bad news, its everywhere. How about you gain some skills you n00bs and find some happy news.

Oh yeah, and leave the people and myspace out of this. Your job sucks.

-- This guy.

   I'd be mad, but really, why bother? I know I found my happy news.

   Super Bowl Pick: I don't have one. I mean I made one, but I don't exactly feel all that strongly about it.

   My only game prediction is that I'll be reviewing commercials in tomorrow's update.

   • Here's a poker thought that should help even those who don't play much cards.

   If five people buy into a friendly game for $20 each, and you walk away with $98 in your pocket, you have had a very good day.

   I'm telling you, people would be so much better at poker if they just got good cards all the time. It could even cover for drinking too much while playing.

February 3, 2006 - Channeling My Inner Adobe
   JazBox: The Final Insult: Training is now over, with the countdown to the new system taking over ticking from 48 hours. Of course, I'll be among the sacrificial lambs on Monday night, but really, I would have asked to be anyway since I seem to have a grasp on what's going on better than most.

   Not sure I would have asked to be the sacrifical lamb three nights in a row, but hey, whatever doesn't kill me will only give me more experience when it's my turn to start killing.

   Oh, and we may have discovered a massive flaw in the program this afternoon, proving it's best served to create newspapers in a vacuum where there's never any actual deadline pressure. But the company will be buying us dinner all next week, so really, I'll put up with anything.

   Celebrity Look-Alikes, The Next Generation: This was mentioned somewhere within my newspaper, but since I'm slow on the uptake, it didn't actually occur to me what it was talking about until this afternoon.

   Naturally, I had to see if I actually do look like anyone short of the Staples Bobblehead Kiosk Guy, who will now be capitalized on all future references in case he ever Googles himself. So I used my S-T headshot, since it's frightening.

Frightening Times 10
-- I just didn't think it was that frightening.

   Now, I didn't think it could get any better than telling me I look like a black senator. Right up until it told me I look like Agatha Christie, the girl from the 'Harry Potter' movies and what I presume to be an Indian starlet.

   From now on, I'm only using this as a headshot.

Stained Face

   It's the only fair thing to do.

   • I suppose we could also go the other route.

Cooch On The Couch

   But I've already got enough problems.

February 2, 2006 - Proud Moments
   The Possible Spam of the Day: Now, I'm not sure whether the people at Potter Parody were actually looking to contact me because I am a writer, or if my work e-mail address is being sold for seven cents a pound in urban parts of Indonesia. All I know is that what the world needs is a Harry Potter parody just saturated with marijuana references.

This parody aims to entertain readers with amusing ideas which the real author might have had, but which did not quite fit into her concept of serious literature, or could not be presented to her innocent school-age readers if she wanted to reach retirement age without being threatened by outraged parents. The intention was to satirise; to imagine the logical consequences of what must have happened should everything follow the original plan and scenario.

. . .

One more thing - we are also getting ready for the parody of Larry Potter by N. K. Stouffer. The only problem is that when abridged it amounts to nothing more than the length of a flyer.

   I'm guessing the rival parody didn't have enough marijuana references.

   Two Weeks Later: As someone who sort of more knows of the author than I could say actually knows the author, this might be the greatest post in the history of blogs.

What really shocked us, however, was the Alphabet Pal's treatment of ethnic slurs. We tried every offensive term for an ethnic group we could think of. The Alphabet Pal blocks exactly one. Just think for a minute. I'll bet you can guess what it is. Got a guess?

It's "wop."

   I don't really feel like I'm exaggerating either.

   • So hey, you might have noticed good old Whale City was in the news again.

-- This is nothing. No. 2 on the front page earlier.

   But that's not really what makes me proud. That didn't so much happen until we found the suspect's MySpace page. It's a shame I can't get to the photo of him pointing a gun at the camera with the Nazi flags in the background.

   Make sure you get down to the Dark Lotus lyrics ... you know, from the song "Pass The Axe." After all, that was his first weapon of choice ... if he was actually the perpetrator, of course. Though I kind of hope he was, so that "Free Nastay" isn't disappointed. After all, he's the one that wrote "jake i only met u once .. and if u did .. good job .. your my fucking idol .. if u really did it tell charie so i cant seticate my first cd 2 a real killa !!!!!"

   But hey, I don't want to spoil all the surprises. Look around, and you let me know what's your favorite part.

   You know, I'm really not a guy who sits around and says things like, "Where exactly are the parents here?" And really, when your son starts hanging Nazi flags in his bedroom and (presumably) buys a gun, I don't think I have to. We're well past that point.

   All I know is it would be nice if for once, someone in this city could get on the national news for, say, not slashing and shooting up a gay bar. You know, something else. Maybe eating the world's largest meat sword or whatever.

   Far be me from becoming New Bedford's loudest supporter, but seriously ... we're a decent city. We blow the crap out of Fall River. Holyoke can't compete, and I'm sure we're nicer than most parts of Lynn.

   Remind me to put that on a poster sometime and call the Chamber of Commerce.

February 1, 2006 - Star of the Show
   JazBox Day Three: We actually got to touch the pagination half of things today, which led to the first moments where I really wasn't sure how to do something. Considering it took three days to get there, that's a good sign.

   Course, this is all in a controlled environment where there's no paper being put out. As I may have said before, blood may start raining from the ceiling when we're stranded on our little desert island in the "real world," as they're calling it.

   Short, tidy and over. Much like tonight's poker freeroll, which didn't feature any mammoth disaster ... 68th out of 270, with the prize having been two $640 value spots in a million dollar prize pool event. Had I won, there's a good chance I might have just tried to sell the seat.

   It's easier than the lotto, which apparently we weren't alone in not winning on Elm Street. I believe the final count was 89 tickets, and we won exactly $10.

   I figured that means my share is a little more than 11 cents, which I will donate to your favorite charity.

   Something I Bet You Didn't Know: I failed to complete a recent Ironman.

IronMan Me

   You can tell it's me because I'm proud of what I do off the triathlon circuit.

   • The Internet, for all of its wonder and applications, often leaves that "so close" feeling of how great something could be if it went one step further. Whether it be technology or something else, there are so many things it could be doing if we combined some applications with others.

   Boston.com did that, and has now made one of my truly favorite features into everything that it possibly could be.

   I give you, Celebrity Look-Alikes ... The Message Board.

-- Yeah. You do both have blond hair.

   Since I first saw this, they've removed the comments of one guy who literally just went on there and called everyone either fat, a bitch or an idiot. No real rhyme of reason, no concern for human kindness, just complete and utter spite.

   I thought it was hilarious. But of course, I also don't think I look like anybody except that red-haired guy who ran the Bobblehead cart in that Staples commercial last Christmas.

   Yeah, he's not anywhere now. But trust me ... I have enough corroborating sources that I bet I could have gotten the comment guy to tell me I have a double chin and will never get laid ever.

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