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February 28, 2007 - 2: And Ties? You Bet!
   The Height of Crap You Don't Need: I'd like to believe I'm not the only one who, after not having flown for a while, eagerly reaches for the SkyMall catalog, a cornucopia of items for the successful business person, the gadget lover and the person who just can't live another day without a remote-control hovercraft.

   Because I aim to give you, the discriminating reader, a taste of just what this trip entails, here are my three favorite useless items from the Early Spring 2007 catalog:

The Tabletop Photo Studio
Ideal for photographing items such as jewelry and collectibles for online auctions or insurance records, or for providing the proper environment for enhancing the hobby of photography, this is the complete tabletop photo studio for use with your own camera that includes two backdrops, a compact light box with an integrated diffuser screen, and two high output lights with adjustable, retractable legs. It comes with two background color choices to provide suitable contrast for both light and dark objects, and the light diffuser balances light while softening distracting shadows for crisp, clear photo lighting. The backdrop folds flat for storage, and the set includes a handle and a built-in carrying case for convenient portability.

Under-Trampoline Safety Net
Nearly 300,000 children are injured each year due to trampolines. Kid Nett can help. By creating a barrier around the trampoline, Kid Nett helps to block access to the area underneath the trampoline, where life-threatening injuries can occur. Durable, weatherproof netting installs quickly and can be easily moved with the trampoline when mowing.

Breakfix Cereal Dispenser
With the automatic Breakfix Cereal Dispenser, fixing the day's first meal will never again be a messy, time consuming chore. Breakfix uses the same principles as a coffee-maker, dispensing pre-measured portions of cereal with a touch of a button -- no mess, no fuss.

   It's a good mix. The first is beyond stupidity, the second seems rather pointless -- I'd be more concerned to net, you know, the jumping side -- and the third?

   I had no idea POURING CEREAL OUT OF A BOX could be construed as a "messy chore."

   Also receiving votes: Valenti International, which offers matchmaking services for people better than you, you friggin' failure.

Files From The Fort, Vol. 2

   • FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Tonight, I met a waitress who asked her 8-year-old daughter where she'd like to go to eat on Mother's Day. Her 8-year-old daughter chose Hooters, and they went there, but the oysters were so bad, it actually compelled her to write to the parent company, resulting in like $30 worth of gift cards and a promise that their oysters would be better than the future.

   This, in and of itself, is not why I went out with some of my fellow writers to the Fort Myers Ale House, but it was definitely an added benefit.

-- Doesn't do it justice. Not that the media is now oppressive,
but there were just so many more than it appears here.

   So today's the day when it all began. To be honest, I probably won't write a whole lot about the baseball here, simply because I've beaten it to death elsewhere.

A Good Start For Schill
-- There is nothing more fitting than a spring game ending in a tie. Trust me.

Notebook: Ellsbury Shows Glimpse of Talent
-- Far more enjoyable. Least that's what I think.

   And sweet Jesus, don't forget the blog.

   It was good to be back. Good to see the people I talk to, good to realize that I can still do this day-to-day, good to remember that I have more technical prowess than about 60 percent of my colleagues.

   In no particular order:

   -- There was a woman sitting right below my press box seat last night who screamed too loud, laughed too loud, and just generally did everything too loud. I wasn't actually taking notes on her, but I do remember that the 'YOOOOOOOUUUKKK' chants confused her.

   -- Before the game, one of the Sox employees came around the press box with a silver platter, offering all of us spicy crab rolls. At the time, it was extremely jarring, since it's not typical behavior to have roving hors d'oeuvres dealers in the press box, which is good since it would make it a lot harder to explain to people my job is difficult.

   Turns out, they were just samples of Boston's newest concession item, "The Shan-San Roll." Retail price: $7.50.

   It was damn good, but it isn't exactly gigantic. For $7.50, anything Quizno's makes is a better call.

   -- Lest you think we get all the freebies, the entirety of the sell-out crowd got bags of Calbee Says Snow Pea Crisps. They taste like, well, lightly breaded snow peas. Which isn't so much bad, as, different.

   -- I can think of no better time or narrative hook to unveil Fort Myers Food Log:

-- Bottle of water, pretzels for breakfast.
-- CranApple juice, cup of Diet Coke, turkey sandwich, bag of Fritos and a fun-size Milky Way on the second flight.
Supermarket 12-piece roll of snow crab sushi, plus a Yuengling Black and Tan for dinner.
-- Some small amount of Fiery Habanero Doritos and a Diet Coke after that.

-- Bowl of GoLean Crunch with Diet V8 Splash, some orange flavor.
-- Meatloaf sandwich, mixed fruit and two small oatmeal raisin cookies at park.
-- Exactly one snow pea crisp.
-- Two half-liter bottles of water.
-- Three Newcastles, plus 10 BBQ boneless wings (Zingers are famous, apparently) at Ale House.

   Why I'm doing this, I don't know. But then again, I say that a lot.

City of Palms Park, 2/28/2007

City of Palms Park, 2/28/2007

City of Palms Park, 2/28/2007

City of Palms Park, 2/28/2007

February 27, 2007 - 1: Go F Yourself, Econo Lodge
   ILikeDonuts.com: Their double billboard off Route 95 in Providence asks, simply, "Do you?"

I like doughnuts, especially jelly doughnuts: don't you? More importantly I like billboards and great advertising and if you are reading this then my billboard on I-95 in Providence certainly got your attention. Imagine now that it is your business advertising on the billboard and hundreds of potential customers are going to YOUR website or your business. It can happen for you if you consider buying space on my billboard and produce a great ad!

Glenn J. Prezzano
512 Media, Inc.

   When I started writing this, I honestly didn't know what that Web site was going to reveal. And now that I know it's nothing more than "Hey, if you're reading this ad, your customers would be too" extrapolated out a step, I'm pretty disappointed.

   But, eh, I'll give credit where it's due. Enjoy the extra 40 daily views on the Internet, Glenn.

   • FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Fort Myers's nickname, not shockingly to Red Sox fans who know where their team plays spring games, is "The City of Palms." You would think getting a stock image of a palm tree wouldn't be that hard, and it isn't.

   Good ones, however, are a little tougher. To that end, here's what we're starting with.

Files From The Fort, Vol. 2
-- Thrown together pretty quick.

   I slept for roughly three hours the night prior to coming down ... just could not settle my stomach, or really come to terms with being away from Julie (and being down here) for that long.

   In all of that time, one of this trip's truths never crossed my mind -- that at a time not long from when I was rolling around sleepless, I would be cruising in a car, with the window down and my arm hanging out, in the month of February.

Warwick, R.I.
-- Near.

Fort Myers, Fla.
-- Far.

   Understand I am a creature of ice and snow. I had no problem with it being cold, with me almost slipping on black ice around my car the same way I did a full flop on it after returning from Florida in 2006. I actually enjoyed seeing my plane de-iced, not simply because it was nice to lessen the chance of death, but because I'd never seen the process -- covering the plane in hot water, then with an Ecto Cooler-colored goo that sheets off the wings (and presumably everything else) as you're screaming down the runway.

   Hell, if you'd pushed me, I probably would have said I'd have been fine playing Golden Tee at T.F. Green Airport for 17 days, though at $3 a round I might have run out of cash.

Best $3 I spent at the airport.
-- No major screw-ups until putting on No. 17,
not that I'd have been within 10 of the record score anyway.

   Ultimately, though, I'm glad I'm here. And I'm glad to be here in a situation where I know mostly what I'm doing, I'm completely capable of doing a good job and I actually have a place where I can do work not reeking of ciagrette smoke.

   Yes, I didn't mention that yet. For $10 more than I paid a night to stay in a scummy Econo Lodge last year, I have ... well, I could think of many better things to make the first embedded YouTube video in site history, but here we are:

-- Exactly 30 seconds longer than it needed to be.

   What really consitutes a day off (this not withstanding) was spent getting myself ready. Got myself to the baggage claim largely thanks to a couple I'd seen earlier in the day reading The S-T on our Providence-to-Newark puddlejumper -- try as any D-list local celebrity would to get noticed, my half-assed effort got just the response it deserved. While whizzing through my own car rental process, heard a guy at the Budget counter next door respond to some query from the agent with, "No! I need a power seat, not your insults!"

   In another dimension, I shouted at him to shut the fuck up and calm the fuck down, sparking a shouting match that ended with punches. Here, I just shook my head and hoped he didn't have kids.

   After assessing the hotel, I headed back to the trendy suburban supermarket I'd passed on the way in, cutting off potential fast food runs with $60 worth of foodstuffs I ultimately won't be paying for.

   Course, dinner was still grocery store sushi and a beer, followed later by a soda and some Doritos. I feel a food log coming on.

   Also, forgetting freezer bags at the store left me stuck at the nearby epic Wal-Mart anyway. A Southern Wal-Mart ... you haven't lived until, I say.

   Then, it was just like at home -- laptop, Law and Order on TNT and talking to Julie -- before more of "Book I Should've Read Long Ago" and blissful sleep.

   Hey, you wanted more vacation writeups. Welcome back to the future.

February 26, 2007 - It's Early
   • Bags packed.

   Ready to go.

   Still not what you'd call eager about going south for this long.

   Doesn't matter. Talk to you from Fort Myers, hopefully.

February 25, 2007 - From Hockey To Hot
   UMass 5, Northeastern 3: I turned down an invite to this game solely because not going home to Western Mass. before my departure for Florida would have meant a three-fold increase in my mother's internal panic while my flights were in the air.

   At various points this afternoon, my father asked me if I had both sunglasses and suntan lotion for my trip. Never mind that I did this exact same trip a year ago ... I am 26 years old.

   While I do love my family and genuinely appreciate their concerns, it would be much easier on everyone if our work-related conversations steered more toward Dad asking me to ask Coco Crisp not to get hurt this season.

   • I watched The Oscars from beginning to end tonight, which strikes me as somewhat funny given I saw maybe one of the movies nominated for anything. If I'd had a laptop in front of me, I'm sure I could greatly add to the burgeoning Web discussion about the Super Bowl for people who don't like football.

   But since I didn't, I'll just say that Ellen DeGeneres seems like one of those people who is just funny no matter who you are or where you come from. Not hilarious to everyone, mind you, but just someone who's very good at being funny across the board.

   It was this or the NASCAR race, about which all I really weaned is that my father believes Fox has a conspiracy against showing Sterling Marlin on the air -- "They cut away right when he comes on!"

   Here I thought they just had a conspiracy against showing drivers who are in 35th and not named Stewart, Gordon, Jimmie Johnson or Earnhardt. You know, the guys who win things as opposed to the guys who used to win things a really long time ago.

   My brother had just adopted the Marlins as one of his favorite teams when Sterling Marlin won his back-to-back Daytona 500s in 1994 and '95. Because of the name similarity, he became his favorite driver, though I honestly can't remember if he'd shown any affinity toward NASCAR before that. Regardless, this spun off into some T-shirt ownership, a paint job on a CO2 racer he built for some science class, etc.

Marlin's Car, McCarran Airport
-- From Summer 2003 in Vegas, so he still cared at that point.

   As Matt kinda let his fandom wane once Marlin proved nothing more than a hanger-on, my father held tough, with him now actually having a driver to cheer for in what is apparently appointment viewing of the weekend races.

   I have no idea whether any of this is interesting. Just that my dad's regular Fox News and NASCAR viewership is starting to scare me a little.

February 24, 2007 - 80085 on a Calculator
   Need An Afternoon Pick-Me-Up?: Go find yourself some photos from Premio lo Nuestro, which apparently doubles as a Latin music awards ceremony and where rogue undergarment architects try out their latest gravity-defying creations.

   Just have at it. I don't want to post one, because then I'd have to end up posting them all. And the idea of cropping the important parts together into one mega chest scaffolding is too disgusting for me to even comprehend.

   • Yesterday's e-mailer sent a reply to my note today, apologizing that he got my name wrong.

   We'll have to see if Shaughnessy is that alert come Wednesday, even if I somehow feel grossly unprepared to dive headlong into whatever the hell covering the Red Sox is like now. I felt better prepared to talk to those high school kids last May.

IB: AL East's Other Three Remain Just That
-- So you're not surprised when you read it, I wrote this from the bottom up. Keep note of quality.

February 23, 2007 - The E-Mail Edition? Still My Fault.
   It's No 'Meche Assault,' But It's Close: Generally, it's not a good policy to confuse your readers in the first sentence of columns.

Date: Fri 23 Feb 2007
From: Doug ____
To: jcouture at s-t dot com

   Hey, Joe,

   Florida sportswriter and a New Bedford native up here to visit family.

   Liked your Schilling column in Friday's paper, but have one little observation. (Been in the business for more than 20 years, so feel as though I'm somewhat qualified).

   Your EverQuest reference early in the col was lost on me, and I consider myself fairly well-versed on most things _ just, obviously, not video games.

   Perhaps I'm wrong, but don't think a heck of a lot of people understood it either.

   Anywho, keep up the good work, and don't let the bastards get the best of you.

   Take care,
   This guy, who works here.

   His point is valid enough that I'll politely ignore he's a graduate from the Dan Shaughnessy School of What My Name Is.

   For what it's worth, Schilling did answer my question himself.

   • I'm sure this has something to do with the print edition of The Onion recently arriving in Boston, but that in no way makes me feel any less overjoyed by it.

Former Editor Can't Believe Shit College Newspaper Is Printing

NEW YORK -- Troy Bartell, 22, former editor-in-chief of Boston University's student newspaper The Daily Free Press, said Monday that his once-prestigious paper is in "free-fall," and is now printing only "ridiculous, brutally incompetent shit."

   Pitch perfect. Pitch. Perfect.

February 22, 2007 - Filling Time
   This Is A Job?: When you graduated from high school, did you have the option to travel the country selling magazines?

Over the next six months, he and about 20 other crew members crossed 10 states, peddling subscriptions door to door, 10 to 14 hours a day, six days a week. Sleeping three to a room in cheap motels, lowest seller on the floor, they survived some days on less than $10 in food money while their earnings were kept "on the books" for later payment.

By then, Mr. Pope said, he had seen several friends severely beaten by managers, he and several other crew members were regularly smoking methamphetamine with prostitutes living down the motel hallway, and there were warrants out for his arrest in five states for selling subscriptions without a permit.

"I knew I was either going to be dead, disappeared or I don't know what," Mr. Pope said.

After persuading his manager to let him leave, Mr. Pope was dropped off, without a ticket, $17 in his pocket, at a bus terminal near San Antonio, more than 1,000 miles from home.

   I am completely baffled by this, since it's clearly real. I can't even remember anyone coming to my house growing up selling magazines ... am I alone here?

   And is it just me, or could this be a dark horse for the worst quote ever?

Mr. Smith said he viewed most stories of drug use and physical abuse as exaggerations.

"I don't put a lot of stock in them because, to be brutally frank with you, abuse is like beauty. It's in the eyes of the beholder," he said. "A loud voice, anything, can be called abuse."

   It's called friggin' Burger King. You go in, fry some things, make America fatter and they pay you pizza/beer money. Pretty simple system. Look into it, youth of America.

Is Curt's Weight Why Theo's Waiting?
-- I don't know why I remembered Schilling talking about his weight last spring, but I did.

   • I had no idea this job existed.

   This one? About as close as you could get to being me without actually getting my job.

   Unrelated, I leave for Florida on Tuesday. Please offer any suggestions you may have to keep me from eating 15 meals at Hardee's over the next three weeks. And no, "go to Chick-Fil-A eight times" is not a good suggestion.

February 21, 2007 - Not New, But Does Have Ships
   Wait ... JetBlue Sucks Now?: I'd been loosely aware that something had been happening with JetBlue, which Julie and I'd flown to Northern California with absolutely zero incident not a year ago. Today, it was the topic of conversation with the lady who cuts my hair at "Please Just Cut It, I Have No Pretense I'm Attractive."

   In the past few months, this nice lady has figured out I've been going there for a long time, and thus has told me about a litany of physical ailments stemming from weak blood vessels to being a transplant patient. Our relative levels of sharing are comically imbalance, but I digress.

   Tonight, I get this apology via e-mail, leading me to want to know exactly what happened.

In the midst of snowy weather at John F. Kennedy International Airport on February 14, 2007, a JetBlue flight headed for Cancún, Mexico, was stranded on the tarmac for nearly nine hours as icing problems kept the plane from departing. Passengers were kept inside the aircraft for the full nine hours. JetBlue has since apologized, and has offered refunds and free round-trip tickets to the passengers involved.

Throughout that day, at least nine other JetBlue aircraft were also stranded on the tarmac for more than eight hours with passengers aboard and many JetBlue passengers were put onto flights that were already canceled. As of February 18, JetBlue was still not operating normally, canceling nearly all flights using the E-190.

On February 19 with 23% of its operation still cancelled, JetBlue's CEO, David Neeleman, issued another public apology for the cancellations and for his company's mismanagement of the situation.

-- Where else, Wikipedia.

   Admittedly, I wasn't stuck on a plane for nine hours, and I'd imagine I would be pretty miffed about the whole thing had I been on a not-moving plane for nine hours.

   But the TVs were working, right? The people were aware you can watch television on the plane?

   This is America ... so long as we can keep updated on the wacky judge overseeing the Anna Nicole Smith crap, everything's cool.

   Information I Can't Make Myself Blog: Wise Foods, welcome to the family.

Wise Foods, Inc., a leading regional producer of salty snacks, and the Boston Red Sox announced today that Wise has been named Official Potato Chip and Cheez Doodle® Sponsor of the team. In addition, David Ortiz, one of the most respected hitters in baseball, has been named the team's "Wise Player." The company will also serve as Presenting Sponsor of the Red Sox Lindos Suenos (Beautiful Dreams) program, an innovative cultural exchange initiative that works to bring youngsters of different backgrounds together through their shared love of baseball.

Under the three-year agreement, Wise will supply Wise potato chips, Wise kettle chips and Cheez Doodles® to all Red Sox games at Fenway Park. Wise will have prominent right-field wall signage in the area of the stadium known as Pesky Corner and will sponsor a new feature segment on the main Red Sox scoreboard. The company will have rights to use the Red Sox logos and team marks on its products and in promotional efforts throughout New England.

   That Pesky Corner.

   • I'm not sure if this technically qualifies as spending an afternoon walking around a city:

Walking Map
-- 5.39 miles ... thanks, Gmaps Pedometer!

   but it sure felt like a lot closer to the literal definition of the word. And that's not just because I did most of it fueled only by a friggin' bowl of Cheerios many hours earlier.

Newport, R.I.

Newport, R.I.

Newport, R.I.

Newport, R.I.

Newport, R.I.

Newport, R.I.     Newport, R.I.

Newport, R.I.     Newport, R.I.

Newport, R.I.     Newport, R.I.

   And for the record, the idea of eating shark is probably better than actually eating it. It's not a knock on the meat, it's just that it's really not all that different from, say, anything that won't make my mother go, "You ate what?!"

February 20, 2007 - It Says It All
   Jagoff: No reason for its surge ... at least not anything to do with the top Google return for it.

   Past TV evidence has proven my disdain for Pittsburgh, or if not that, at least ensures it's on record for reasons that probably don't really matter.

   It Could Be The Dog, But With The Signal Coming Out of It: Leave it to an inforgraphic here to make me realize I'm really not alone in thinking I wouldn't use satellite radio near enough to pay for it monthly. At least not more than $10 a month.

The National Association of Broadcasters, a trade group that represents broadcast radio and television stations, issued a statement within hours of the XM-Sirius announcement.

"In coming weeks, policy makers will have to weigh whether an industry that makes Howard Stern its poster child should be rewarded with a monopoly," it said.

   This would be the same broadcasting industry that, were they somehow given the option, would take Howard Stern back in about three seconds.

   I guess I fail to see how this is any sort of dangerous monopoly, since it's not as though it would prevent any other idiot from deciding to start a competing corporation. Course, I'm also not an economist, and the two merging is pretty much the only way I would ever consider opening my wallet for it.

   Forget Stern and Opie and Anthony ... all the major sports on one service? That's almost expense report-able.

   • As I try to make abundantly clear often, celebrity news mongering drives me up a wall. However, having come across this story on Fark, I have to:

"She thought lice were eating her hair extensions,
so decided to get rid of them as soon as possible."

   Hands up. Walk away. Game over.

February 19, 2007 - Thanks, Asian Guy in Yankees Hat
   Drug Watch: You've all probably seen the ads for Rozerem, a drug "approved for people having trouble falling asleep" and a way to "treat insomnia without a known risk of abuse or dependence."

   Watch the commercial or read the Web site. Honest to God, "side effects may include drowsiness." I can't be the first person to notice this.

   I may, however, be one of the few people watching TV at hours at see Relacore PM, America's only combination fat-loss / sleeping aid.

Relacore® PM attempts to market a new trend in the weight loss market, which is to combine weight loss formulas with formulas designed to address sleeplessness, two diametrically opposed issues. This is often done in order to make the product more consumer "friendly" or to increase their market share; although it often just creates a situation where neither issue is addressed effectively.

   One might also think it would raise red flags to consumers about to put potentially harmful drugs in their bodies, but surprisingly, people who think the best way to either lose weight or sleep comes via pills aren't all that friggin' bright.

   Normally, I would post a Google Image Search result of Anna Nicole Smith here, but that's a search I really don't want to have to wade through again.

   • In a semi-related thought, please welcome Mike Awesome to the growing cadre of professional wrestler to die at a creepy young age, making the whole genre of professional wrestling slide that much closer to the cliff.

Awesome was found dead at around 10:30 p.m. on February 17, 2007 in the Tampa area. A group of friends who were coming to his home to pick him up and go out found him hanged in his home. It is believed he committed suicide.
-- Wikipedia

   Actually unrelated, the flaw in not working a job where you're aware when it's a holiday came in my going to Gamblor today ... on Presidents' Day. In so much as the 10 a.m. no-limit tournament was overbooked by about 200 people before I even got there, it did allow me to beat the crowd of several hundred eager poker players by a couple hours. That didn't stop me frittering away roughly 95 percent of my 1-2 no limit gains in the final two hours of play, but at least the remaining five percent was enough to buy a Quizno's dinner that was at least twice as much food as I actually needed.

   Wow. Reading it out like that, it's no longer confusing me as to why I'm going to bed awfully depressed.

February 18, 2007 - Odd World
   Reading Too Much: I am 80 percent certain that the more-or-less arbitrary number thrown out by Roger Clemens whenever he threw it out is being overdissected.

"[Clemens' son] Koby asked me [Thursday] when we were working out; he was doing more of a workout than I was," Clemens said. "I still told him, 80-20 that I wasn't going to play."

. . .

Of course, knowing when Clemens, 44, is serious about retiring is very difficult. Yankees fans are well aware he changed his mind after the 2003 season to join Pettitte and the hometown Astros. And in the same interview last night, Clemens kept the door ajar.

"The teams that are involved, I think they got really good clubs that are together," Clemens said. "And if somebody stubs their toe and my phone rings in May, I might have to answer it."

   In other words, just because Brett Favre made his intentions clear this time doesn't mean you jagoffs won't have someone to hang on every word of.

   I Did This, L.A. Style Once: Hitting the late night talk show circuit, Gotham style.

Not every show is as hard to get into as "Saturday Night Live," but none are truly easy. For "The Daily Show," on Comedy Central, I filled out a request form for a regular ticket a few days in advance on the Web and to my surprise got a confirmation within hours. But even with this assurance I still had to wait in line. The audience is overbooked, so attendees are advised to come early.

On a blustery Tuesday I stood for almost two hours outside the 11th Avenue studio, where a banner above the door reads, in faux Old English script, "Abandon News, All Ye Who Enter Here."

   It took surprisingly long to find a photo of.

   • Black Snake Moan. Clearly, I'm behind the curve on this, since I only saw the commercial for it tonight. But just so we're clear.

When Rae (Christina Ricci), a wild child and former victim of sexual abuse wakes up after a night of partying, she finds herself in the home of Lazarus (Samuel L. Jackson), a former blues player. Rae is attached to a 20-foot chain held by the well-intentioned Lazarus who intends to "cure" her of her nymphomania.

   This has "Snakes on a Plane" beaten cold, doesn't it?

   And linking it to the story of the 830-point Scrabble game doesn't make a damn lick of sense, does it? Even if there's a good chance those people who are bemoaning how the record was broken are probably the kind of people who could use a nice evening out watching Christina Ricci be attached to a 20-foot chain?

   Competitive Scrabble strikes me as one of those ideas I think is fun, and would be fun, until I started playing and realized I in no way possess the skills to be good. Kind of like academic quiz bowl -- there was clearly a road I could have taken to be more successful, except it was a road I had no intention of taking.

   Thank goodness I found other dorky outlets like competitive mini golf. I might have started reverting toward cool.

February 17, 2007 - Trends Aren't All Bad
   Sitting By The Phone: Thanks to those who suggested questions.

Inside Baseball: Q & A With John Farrell
-- The Stat That Time Forgot returns next Sunday.

   Might I suggest reading the version on the blog, since it's not slashed to bits on account of space concerns.

   • Can't get enough talk of the death of newspapers? There's a blog for you!

The industry took a beating in 2006. Many of us lost our jobs as employers looked to cut costs at their struggling newspapers. More lost theirs last month when the King County Journal closed its doors. What kind of year will 2007 be? Join the discussion and see if we can turn it all around.

Fading to Black: A look at the downward spiral of the newspaper industry in the 21st century

-- Pseudo-spam in the work account.

   If nothing else, it provided me with one of the ... dumbest isn't the right word because the writer has a point, but it's probably something in that vicinity.

I work in the weekly, community newspaper industry that isn't fading to black and doesn't have the doom and gloom outlook that the daily papers have. There's no "woe is me" here. We pound out a smaller, more local paper each week (in our case three a week) in an area of about 10,000 people. We're thriving, not fading. The tip here is folks, start looking to community papers for work, because the problem with daily papers is that much of the information is already out there floating in the Internet. Local content is not. ...

Often, you have young reporters that come out of J-school or wherever who try to make it at a weekly before going on to a daily. It's a big step up. In my opinion, it's a lateral step at best. You may have more general readers and higher salaries, but I've met my share of daily newspaper reporters that are definitely no smarter and no better writers than the average community paper reporter. If anything, their over-inflated egos tend to get in their way ...

-- Long comment on newsroom morale.

   Yeah, I mean you daily guys may make more money and are read more than me, but I'm better than you.

   Well put, sir. Well put.

February 16, 2007 - Close To Making It
   • Tonight, while I was out eating dinner, Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell called me. I may actually have had a mouth full of vegetables at the time.

   It was ... surreal. Especially since people a couple tables over had been talking Red Sox amongst themselves earlier, and I thought it was one of my idiot friends calling to tell me to go drinking.

   On the plus side, I didn't have to attempt to interview him with a mouth full of vegetables in a Japanese restaurant on Route 6. Though I will say I felt bad for the rest of the meal about pushing him back to tomorrow.

   Beating UNH, however, does always have a way of making me feel better, though.

February 15, 2007 - No Wonder You're So Quiet
   The Things You Learn: Apparently, there's a late night talk show on Fox.

Spike Feresten was raised in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts, where he attended public school and got his first job as a bag boy at the local supermarket. With a dream to be the next Jimi Hendrix, Feresten attended Berklee College of Music in Boston.

One night, disillusioned with his career choice, Feresten thought he might feel better if he dropped four-foot fluorescent light bulbs out the window of his dorm room -- just to watch them shatter on the sidewalk eight stories below. He got caught and was evicted. Soon after, Feresten saw David Letterman performing the exact same stunt on his late-night talk show, and a real light bulb went on: If network television encouraged this sort of behavior, he might have a future after all. Thus, a career in TV comedy was born.

-- A career that bore "The Soup Nazi," so thank you, Berklee Defenestration Defense.

   It's good to see that the idea of me writing my own Wikipedia entry isn't completely vain or unprecedented, because there's roughly a zero percent chance anyone other than Spike Feresten wrote this.

   That, or he's got one hell of an obsessive former roommate.

   Subtle, Yet Probably Effective: Snipped from a monthly Foxwoods (WARNING: link features infective, unstoppable jingle) e-mail:

Casino Kids
-- Sad you can't come to Foxwoods because the kids are home from school?
Screw that! Make them learn while you piss away their college fund!

   For the record, my 10 a.m. trip last Thursday was the first-ever time I've actually seen the in-building Tribal Learning Center open. There were two women at the desk chatting, clearly poised to strike on anyone who wandered in, unsure of where the bathroom was, with the force of a hungry wolf.

   Other than this, though, they did open a large under-18 arcade since I'd been there last. Still depressing, but at least with the collecting of tickets from skee ball involved.

   • Since my comments system is apparently in a worse state of disrepair than I'd thought, my link to the hinted-at Fried Haddock/Catfish Tacos didn't actually get posted. I assure you, they are awesome.

   I've now done this recipe a handful of times, and I'm still amazed that I can fry things. Not exactly culinary rocket science, but I pull the food out, note that it really is fried and feel an incredible sense of accomplishment.

   Ass-fattening accomplishment.

   I have no idea exactly who I can contact to fix the comment system, since they're there via a $15 payment I made several years ago, but I'll see what I can do.

   As noted a few days ago, I do have techie. Even if this does seem like a bit more heavy lifting than probing around a laptop with a sotering gun.

February 14, 2007 - Fried Haddock Tacos
   Today's Quote Taken Completely in Context: The SportsCenter lead-in to these comments told me I would be "shocked."

"You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don't like gay people and I don't like to be around gay people. I am homophobic. I don't like it. It shouldn't be in the world or in the United States."

   I wasn't shocked. I wouldn't have been shocked if he said he hopes John Amaechi was hit by a car. Given what I (and you, probably) know about athletes and the streotypical locker room position, nothing an athlete could say about homosexuals would floor me. These are men who've been mass showering with other men for most of their lives.

   If anything, I'm shocked that he spelled it out that honestly. Because you know he's not alone, and for that matter, he's probably in the majority.

   Thank God he doesn't have a hairdresser or anything.

   • Thought One upon hearing Beyonce is the covergirl for the 2007 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue: What the hell does Beyonce have to do with sports?

   Thought Two: What the hell does the swimsuit issue have to do with sports?

   Thought Three: "As You've Never Seen Her?" Isn't this how she dresses in every video she's ever done?

   Thought Four, which came after reading the linked article: Oh, 300-plus pound Gnarls Barkley poses? That's really going to drive sales.

   I'm not even sure these guys could help that out.

February 13, 2007 - Damn You, Greeting Card Lobby
   "On Holiday": My mother sends me a lot of holiday cards, for which this Valentine's Day is no exception. This year's was to both Julie and I, and featured a guitar-playing, sombrero-donning Snoopy in a Mexican scene. Inside, it read "Muchas Smooches!"

   It's notable that not only is it the same card she bought for me several years ago, I both remembered it on sight and still have the other one.

   This is to be expected when a family has pretty much limited themselves to Peanuts cards for two decades. I'm just glad it was the same person getting me the same card, since it could otherwise be construed as awkward.

Julie - Sam Diego's
-- Good Mexican, almost close-by.

NetHead -- Nine Non-Closer Sox Stories to Nosh On
-- Apparently, I did this to myself. I guess massive page layout crashes have a way of affecting work, above and beyond blowing storm-related deadline.

   • Rather than recount my own tale of panic, I'll just leave you to think about what "Love, Mexican Style" actually means. Please try to work the story of California's southernmost point into your tale.

   If you look on Google Maps, there appears to be a bullfighting ring in Tijuana, Mexico, whose parking lot is literally up against the steel barricade at the U.S. border. Somehow, that just seems cruel.

   Not as much as the photo of the man sticking his head through the wall into America, but as close as can reasonably be achieved.

February 12, 2007 - Slightly Blinder
   BU 2, BC 1 (OT): Pretending to be extremely excited about this would be a cop-out, since as the game went into overtime, I really just wanted it to end more than anything else. As I explained before the game started, BU has won so many Beanpots now, the joy is gone. Winning is expected, not something to get amped about.

   However, because the scholarship-toting students currently enrolled at my alma mater did score more goals than the scholarship-toting students currently enrolled at the athletic rival of my alma mater:

Beanpot 2007

Boston College's Dan Bertram (22) reacts with his head down as Boston University players pile on Brian McGuirk (hidden) after McGuirk scored the game-winning goal in overtime to win the Beanpot Championship in Boston on Monday. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)


   Also, it was an extremely physical game, which combined with the performance at UMass on Friday bodes well for the weekend and the NCAAs.

   For me, the best part was after McGuirk scored the winning goal, he skated right to the glass to celebrate with a little kid in a BU shirt, who was on the other side with the happiest kid face you could ever hope to see. As such, this kid now has a story to talk about for the rest of his life.

   Or at least until BU doesn't offer him enough aid, and he ends up at UMass Boston.

   • Today was a day for eye care.

Eye Care

   It's striking me that I have no actual story about this, except that I really like this picture. Though apparently, we've cleared the point where they need to put those drops in your eyes to dilate your pupils, making it impossible to see anything for about six hours. They have computer cameras that can do an acceptable job now.

   For $30, I now know what the inside of my eye looks like: red, with a large nerve. I didn't ask if I could have the photos e-mailed to friends, but I'd figure by 2017, that'll be standard practice.

   In an unrelated note, it is a bad sign when you order an article of clothing online and it is delivered to you thusly:

-- "Garment Bag."

   As such, if there's anyone who would like a medium 1999 All-Star Game knockoff red jersey, let me know. Don't all rush the stage at once.

February 11, 2007 - I'm Ready For Nice, Anyway
   Reunited: This evening, 175 days after it crapped out and left me stranded in the midst of Boston's five-game calamity with the Yankees, my laptop is back in my hands and in working order. This clearly didn't need to take more than five months, but, well, I didn't really need it for anything.

   That's of course why it's been on non-stop since I got home, and will likely remain on throughout Monday as I clean out months of garbage from a TiVo with no room for the clutter. The upside is it's like I'm getting a laptop again for the first time, which is the sort of spirit boost I'll need to figure out what to get a guy who buys stop lights and runway lights off of eBay.

   Ultimately fixed as most computer problems are -- by a techie friend -- I'd like to again thank the jackoffs at PC Warehouse in West Springfield. Not only did they not call me about my broken laptop for two weeks -- it became a game, in my mind, to see how far they'd go past their "two days" promise -- they charged me $50 labor to hand me back a broken laptop and say "Yeah, we don't know what's wrong with it. I think you need a new motherboard." That at no point did they even suggest that they could make such a repair, never mind tell me how much it might cost, makes me remember why sometimes, local businesses are never anything more than local businesses.

   Course, if I'm going to sit here and bitch that I figured out the problem via roughly 20 minutes of searching, I probably should have done that before calling in professional help. Stupid me, figuring a computer repair store would know how to repair a computer problem that's apparently so common, there's a class-action lawsuit about it.

   In closing, the idea that I'll have my compendium of TV shows to keep me company on the flight to and the time in Florida means I might even get one update into "posting every day in Fort Myers" before scrapping the idea. That's got to be good for something, right?

   • The Beanpot final is Monday night. BU vs. BC, in a game that it appears I'll have to watch with my boss, who's on the desk with me.

   I'm not sure what it says in a season where I've seen seven games -- more than I'd seen total from post-grad 2002 to the end of last season -- that I don't want to watch it. Sure, I hope they win.

   Though I'd trade most of the 10 Beanpots in the last 12 years for another national title. Imagine the money I'd blow on tickets to the opener for 2007-08.

   And in non-boring news, the lede to this story on Japanese dining in Boston (via Daisuke Matsuzaka) is why non-sports people should never be allowed to write about sports. Because you end up with, "Welcome to Boston, Matsuzaka-san," as though he's actually going to get his cultural news from some jagoff Globe intern.

   Next you're going to tell me The Dixie Chicks produced the best music of the year in 2006. Though beating on the Grammies is like kicking a cripple at this point. Their whole awards show has the vibe of "We don't know what we're doing, so shit, let's try this."

February 10, 2007 - Fame!
   New Programming: Having only watched about five minutes of one episode, maybe I'm missing the deep, redeeming qualities of Comedy Central's The Naked Trucker and T-Bones Show. All I see is a naked old guy who wears a guitar hanging around with David Koechner, who on first runthrough has never been anything more than a nuisance in anything he's ever been in.

   [ Edit: On second runthrough, I give him partial credit for Champ Kind, though it bears mentioning he was the worst member of the Channel 4 News Team and I clearly forgot he was even in "Anchorman." ]

   I do think, though, there's a possibility "The Naked Trucker and T-Bones Show" exists to ensure no one notices the worst new program on Comedy Central. The commercials talk about how the show is an opportunity for people to "decide for themselves" whether the eponymous heroine is actually funny or not funny. Rest assured, I made my mind up a long time ago.

   Just because you say "vagina" a lot doesn't actually make it entertaining. Please go continue buttering Jimmy Kimmel's hot dog and leave the rest of us alone.

   • In what I presume is an offshoot of the Anna Nicole Smith story, the front page of Sunday's Standard-Times features a story on fame in the 21st century and how reality TV might be screwing up children. Above the fold of the paper:

Make Me Famous

   Ignoring for the moment the story below the fold, seemingly unrelated, about an anorexic teenager, I was all ready to indulge in a quote fest until noting our reporter didn't talk to anyone who has the obsession with fame, just people who realize how dumb it is.

If the obsession with fame is unhealthy today, what will it be like when those dreams go unfulfilled?

"If your only life goal is fame, when it doesn't come, you'll be ticked off," Mr. Halpern said.

"It either ends with disappointment, or worse, the continued sense that, 'It's only a matter of time before someone realizes just how great I am,' which is not a good attitude to have anywhere in life."

   Let me tell you, though ... when that someone figures it out, it's wicked sweet.

   Even if it was your mother, and now she uses that to ask 'Why haven't you written a book yet?' every three months.

Mullins Anthem

BU 3 - 2 UMass Amherst
Far closer to the way hockey should be played.

@ UMass - 2/9/07
1 (8)
1 (8)
1 (3)
3 (19)
0 (8)
1 (14)
1 (12)
2 (34)

Read the recap on Hockey East Online.

   • Now that ... that's one of those games I want to tape and mail to anyone who hates hockey.

   Three minutes in, a check had smashed penalty-box glass. There was open action in both offensive zones, pretty goals, scrappy goals, physical play, stand-on-the-head goaltending, and it ended with UMass down a goal, with a two-man advantage and a 7,000-plus crowd on their feet for the final 90 seconds.

   Plus, my team beat Julie's team after she'd tried to kill me at least three times for wearing red on "White Out Night."

-- Though really, for the effect, give out more than 1,500 shirts.

   It was a special night on a couple of levels, most notably for Mark Coen checking the final Hockey East arena off his personal list. It's impressive even if he has been going to games since I was in elementary school, though I took no pictures of his special night after missing the best one -- the point during which it appeared he was double-fisting burritos. You had to be there, or I had to snap a photo ... one or the other.

   The game, however, took the cake ... easily the best BU has played in the seven times I've seen them this season. The Minutemen did strike me as very passive, allowing BU into the offensive zone far too easily, but they also largely dominated the final two periods in a way the shot totals makes pretty clear.

   The crowd, however, made it. Not simply the 7,240 bodies, which filled the general admission side we were on, but that we ended up placing ourselves in the vicinity of the traveling BU student section -- I actually ended up racing the two buses on the highway so I wouldn't have to be behind them on Route 9 through the wilds of Western Mass. Throughout the evening, they made fun of UMass having no band, mocked Sam the Minutemen because they "last longer," had vocal UMass fans fill the row behind them trying to instigate what may have been good-natured stuff, drew police and arena personnel when the good-natured stuff apparently turned, played all the BU Band stuff themselves and drew a double thumbs-up from Jack Parker as he left the ice following the frenetic end.

Fat Kid Dancing!
-- Plus, UMass had a fat dancing kid everyone loved.
You just can't hate a fat kid who grooves to Shakira.

   I suppose looking at it in hindsight, I'd like to have seen John Curry not have to make 32 saves, especially since that kind of performance on Monday means BU's probably not winning the Beanpot (which I'm told happens from time to time). But in the moment, it was a tremendous game that was so much better than the Lowell debacle, I didn't have a complaint in the world.

   The complaints came after I'd realized I'd drank four 22 oz. Bass at The Hangar afterward, but even that took a couple extra hours.
February 9, 2007 - More Proud American Moments
   Valentine's Day: I'm really enjoying how companies that appear somewhat wholesome on the surface, like the Vermont Teddy Bear / PajamaGram people, have to edge closer to the line of taste around Valentine's Day. Both because that's the style of the day and because men are annually portrayed as dumb as f'ing rocks every February.

   It's the little things, like noting that the girl getting her teddy bear in the commercial is dressed in an outfit no woman could actually wear to an office unless she was a work-study student or a stripper. Or how the pajama catalogs, which I get every friggin' month based on purchases years ago, now feature chocolate body paint and home stripper kits, complete with sequined pasties.

A great gift to help set the mood for any romantic occasion... or just for fun, this kit contains everything you need to take it all off. Includes a book chock-full of instructions and great advice from strippers themselves, a pair of red sequined pasties, a sheer black scarf, body glitter, and ten fold-out cards with fully illustrated step-by-step routines. No experience or perfect bodies needed. Just open the box and let the fun begin.
-- Emphasis on "instructions and great advice from strippers themselves." I can only assume they don't mean advice like "stay in school" or "yeah, you probably should make him go out to his car for the condoms."

   Julie and I see eye-to-eye on the pastie issue -- mainly, if you're to the point where wearing a top isn't an issue, putting stickers on your nipples seems like an unnecessary, Band-Aid-like inconvenience.

   And body paint? Laying out a tarp just seems very unromantic, especially since nothing gets chocolate out.

Nothing gets chocolate out.
-- See?

   I'm glad we haven't reached the point where I start building updates around spilling food on myself. Glad for us both.

   • And in another lucky coincidence, I really didn't start writing about stripper kits knowing that I was going to mention the one news story I can't believe I forgot about Thursday, especially since I was at home with my celebrity-loving mother.

Anna Nicole Smith
-- "It's not supposed to be funny," indeed.

   So, I guess this is where we are as a nation. On the national tragedy scale and general mourning index, Gerald Ford sits neck and neck with Barbaro and Anna Nicole Smith. Please don't say "this is why the terrorists hate us," because that doesn't even do it justice. And as much as I want to mention that we're at war and there are troops in the Middle East, etc., etc. ... it's not worth it and is out of my comfort zone.

   Yes, Gerald Ford was old and not really all that great a president, thus any level of downplaying his death. But really, should there really even be a debate here? We have a president, a horse and a former stripper whose claim to fame is she has big titties, married an oil kajillionaire who liked her big titties and is dumb as a Jersey barrier.

   I could go on, and I think I will.

   Everyone is making comparisons to Marilyn Monroe, who was also blonde, also pretty and also died due to some shady dealings involving drugs. Fair enough ... connection made. But can those who were alive in her heyday fill me in on whether Marilyn Monroe was so stupid and so annoying that she alternately made intelligent chunks of society want to drive a Corvair through her forehead?

   Have you seriously been romanticizing a woman of that little value for 50 years? If so, continue filling the casinos of America on weekdays, driving from the New Hampshire line to the Foxwoods poker room so much that you know the names of the drink girls. Let your stupid flag fly free.

   I can only think of The Onion's best post-9/11 article at a time like this: A Shattered Nation Longs to Care About Stupid Bullshit Again. We're back! Wall-to-wall coverage of a woman with so many problems and so many cavernous personality flaws that this list is an attempt barely even worth making:

   -- High school dropout;
   -- Teenage mother;
   -- Stripper;
   -- Divorces to marry 89-year-old at 26;
   -- Might never have lived with husband, forwarding golddigger argument;
   -- The whole reality show, which is its own issue entirely;
   -- Spokesperson for PETA, who might be more reprehensible than first thought;
   -- Drugs;
   -- Plastic surgery

   I'm not even sure how many of those are relevant, but you get the point.

   Is it sad that her son died, possibly due to the actions of those around her? Sure it is. Is it possible she became a pawn in some absurd power play for all that money, like Marilyn might have? Sure. Is it a tragedy that her daughter will never know her mother? I say no, but ... eh. I could be swayed the other direction. I find it hard to believe that the kid will have a worse life than the fishbowl one it would have.

   But please don't try to tell me this is some sort of tragedy, or that I should mourn her for any reason other than I now have to feel guilty laughing at all the jokes and the Wikipedia screen captures in the requisite Fark.com thread. Know why she was on painkillers? Bet it had something to do with her inability to stop having breast surgery.

   How'd she get wrapped up with awful people, awful people who may very well have led to her and her son's death? By attempting to climb to the top of an industry built on drugs, sex and every other vice most regular people know are needed in moderation.

   We'll never know what actually happened to Anna Nicole Smith the same way we'll never know what happened to Marilyn Monroe -- whether the truth never comes out or conspiracy theorists spin it all around their fingers for the rest of our lives. But I'm sure Entertainment Tonight, Inside Edition and Extra will keep asking until they're blue in the face, feeding a nation that, sadly, can't get enough.

   Just like Barbaro's iron will, Anna was a driven person. Shame she couldn't have driven herself toward a calling that wouldn't have put her in the ground before she turned 40.

   Yeah, there's a tragedy here. There's also one on the streets of your city, featuring all the drugs and tragic torn lives of children that this one does. Only difference is there's no big boobies and drunken American Music Awards speeches to keep your attention. Go give it some equal time.

   Or better yet, if this story really is front and center in your life, step back for a minute.

   Whether I know your or not, I can guarantee you there's someone in your life -- someone you actually know or see or speak to -- who is worth some of the attention you're giving this. Maybe they could use a visitor. Maybe they like to hear from you on the phone, or would like to get an e-mail. Hell, maybe there's a painting class you could take or a walk around the neighborhood you could go on to enrich your own life.

   Turn off E! and go take a look. Anna Nicole Smith is simply the latest symptom.

   This ... this would get at the root of the problem.

February 8, 2007 - Not Writing An Article
   Foxwoods: Going as rarely as I do, I am every time amazed at the number of people who are at a casino at 10 a.m. on a weekday. The shame is that it's the sort of environment where even with a camera phone, I can't really take a picture of a man sitting at a slot machine with his wheelchair parked behind him.

   The daily 10 a.m. no-limit tournament drew 180, of which I ended up at the bottom of. Playing actual no-limit after that didn't go any better, but at least the losing was spread over two hours and included a little winning to keep my attention. That video poker, though ... here I am trying to lose $40 and dumping all five of my crummy cards, and damned if that stupid machine didn't deal me a straight, then a flush on the next hand, then two-pair like three times in a row.

   Come to think of it, that really should have resulted in more than $6.25.

   Rest assured you'll be hearing more about this stuff in the future, at least until something disastrous happens. I hadn't been in six months, and that's not going to be duplicated.

   • I have to know ... has anyone eaten those "Blazin' Buffalo and Ranch" flavored-Doritos yet? I find myself, when debating what to grab for lunch, waffling between "I should try those, but I might start eating them non-stop" and "I bet those are disgusting."

   When I come to Western Mass., I typically forget all the links and notes I've written to make these slightly more interesting than, "Hey, here's what I did today." As you can see, that's happened. And as much as I'd like to write boring poker stories, it was really pretty self-explanatory. I probably folded a few hands I shouldn't have, especially given the amount I'd put in the pot.

   It happens. I'm just glad the Fort Myers poker option looks crummy enough to be an easy pass.

February 7, 2007 - Tax Guide
   • I've rarely enjoyed the Celtics more than when I'm cheering for them to lose every night.

   And because I have nothing else to say, here's a Dan Shaughnessy chat from today. Note the way he bounces from topic to topic without either humor or insight. An impressive display of cruise control, if you ask me.

   This man signs autographs for fans at spring training. As screwed up as journalism is, public perception ain't exactly cruising on a high plane either.

February 6, 2007 - Embrace The Status Quo
   Hey, Look! Journalism Sucks!: These are getting far too easy to find.

The examples vary: some are laughable (the Providence Journal cut in-house writing awards and pizza luncheons), some depressing (the Philadelphia Inquirer laid off 68 newsroom employees at the start of 2006), some tragically inspiring (LA Times editor Dean Baquet quit to protest cuts ordered by corporate parent Tribune Co). Still, the lesson remains the same.

Thanks to an assortment of problems -- the rise of the Internet, the corresponding decline in newspaper circulation and advertising revenue, and corporate ownership's insistence on hefty profit margins -- the newspaper business just isn't what it used to be. And neither are a bunch of once-proud newspapers.

   Part of me finds it hard to feel really bad that the Globe is down to 395 newsroom positions when my paper has less than 30. With each passing day, I become more convinced that we're going to end up with a bunch of newspapers like mine -- overachievers who survive because they both understand the Internet and have figured out what they can provide (local coverage) better than anybody else. I can't imagine we're making money hand over fist either, but we do seemed to be blessed with an overlord that understands the realities of the business.

   Maybe it's naivete, but when I hear about the downfall of everything and talk to colleagues up at Fenway about the upheaval going on all around the press box, my instinct is just to grab tighter what I already have.

   I remain convinced that the day will come where I leave the business, simply because I've seen so many other people do it in the pursuit of luxury purchases ... you know, homes, families, etc. The real glamour stuff.

   I still think, though, that it'll get to be my choice.

Next Stop? Sox, Springtime
-- When all else fails, let them know you really like baseball.

   • The new top picture is from the hurricane barrier down here, looking toward Whale City. Mercifully, the pictured boat is not the one that recently sank.

   The new bottom picture is of Julie in San Francisco. Considering one of the previous models is now engaged to someone who isn't me, and the other I have seen in several years, it seemed like a needed change.

   I have similar plans for a few other things, but as you're aware, I'm lazy as can be.

February 5, 2007 - Subtle Changes
   Annual Event: It probably shouldn't feel this way.

S-T Beanpot, 2/5/2007

   But everytime I put college hockey coverage in the newspaper, I feel like I'm doing something illegal. Even if I only listed Boston University first (and used their photo) because they played first.

   Plus, BU over BC is reverse alphabetical order ... the general nomenclature for newspaper score listing.

   • Last month, I wrote down one of my favorite quotes of all-time, but lost the paper before I could immortalize it as one of my stupid semi-regular features. It was from this Fark thread, discussing how MySpace would now be posting Amber Alerts on their Web site to embiggen the chances of finding missing children.

   Today, I found the paper.

"I think it's wonderful that the internet's first huge, central repository
of child pornography has been built entirely BY CHILDREN."

   Future and all.

   Today was also the day we ran our tremendous Sox ticket expose which I had almost nothing to do with. Though now that I think about it, coming up with the idea for the graphic, even if it was kind of obvious, actually ended up being a decent contribution for about five seconds work.

   And here I didn't even know StubHub! is spelled with an exclamation point. I'm truly unfit to wear my new jersey.

February 4, 2007 - Sadly, Prince Didn't Slip
   Sadly, It Wasn't ESPN Classic: At 10:52 p.m. tonight, more than a half-hour after Super Bowl XLI had ended, a commercial came on ESPN2 urging Colts fans to celebrate their team's victory with new locker room merchandise.

   New AFC Championship merchandise.

   While it doesn't directly have to do with what's happening to Bears' Super Bowl championship merch as we speak -- I already knew where it goes, but it's still a good read -- it does remind me of my favorite all-time photo of young infidels in the Third World somehow related to the American Hockey League.

Falcons ... For The Kids

Residents in Obeidi protest against what they claim was the detention by American forces of a 57 year-old woman and her blind 14 year-old son in the nearby village of Ish, in Obeidi village near Qaim, about 320 kilometers (200 miles) northwest of Baghdad near the Iraqi-Syrian border Saturday. Obeidi saw heavy fighting and frightened residents retreated indoors Saturday as a large convoy of mainly U.S. Marines, backed by tanks and helicopters, rolled across the river from Rommana. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

And There It Is

   I still can't remember how the hell I found that. Probably for the best.

   • According to stuff I wrote Feb. 7, 2005, and that I really don't think it's wrong, Super Bowl XLI is the 19th that I've actually been aware of. So much time has passed, I'm not sure I remember Redskins-Broncos and the 35-point second quarter because I watched it or because I've seen it endlessly in highlight packages. So let's go with 19th, along with this year being the third-straight I've watched while working.

   I've never cared less.

   Looking at that list, the late '90s were pretty fuzzy outside of the Pats appearance, but tonight was the first time I've ever been so aware that I didn't give a crap. Didn't care about the commercials, didn't care about the halftime, didn't care about who won ... I pretty much have two memories at this moment:

   -- The Cirque du Soleil pregame show was among the most mindnumbingly stupid things I've ever seen.
   -- The Bizarro GTA Coke ad from the second quarter.

   Ultimately, I'm at no level of peace with the Patriots, which is normal since I never am. I have no doubt they would have clubbed the Bears to death, extending a hearth middle finger to the rest of the league, but had they been in the game, my job would have been about 50 times harder tonight. A jump from three of us on the desk, spending half the night absentmindedly watching the game, to everyone not in Miami on the desk, having to think. It's like the difference at your job between some odd Wednesday in February and the President stopping by the office to say hello.

   I actually know fans of both teams, but since Andrea actually lives in Indianapolis and has taken a modicum of garbage regarding the Colts over the years, I'm happy for her. After resisting the urge to call after the Bears ran the opening kick back for a touchdown, she sent along a couple messages before heading into downtown to set tractors on fire with the rest of her kin.

   Editor's Note: Indianapolis does not have tractors in downtown. They have buildings, and a Hooters. There's a much greater chance, as in most cities, that she would be setting a homeless person on fire.

   It makes me think of five years ago Saturday, when the staggering number of people in my collegiate apartment all but killed each other in a massive pigpile once Adam Vinatieri's field goal won a world championship for football's Clippers. We dispersed some, but most of us headed first to Lansdowne Street, then to Kenmore Square.

   I'm not going to romanticize it ... there were a good bunch of people doing a lot of stupid shit. I probably wrote about most of it. But by and large, almost everyone just wanted to celebrate. And the police, to my eternal gratitude, knew it. So they let us.

   It was one of those nights that really makes you realize why you root for all that laundry. Because damn it, when it pays off, it pays off.

   My chances to experience that are growing thin, and for what I have left, it'll never be like that again I'd imagine. The turnover of college students means a BU national championship won't do it, and the Bruins? Hard as I'd try to be in the seats, my odds ultimately wouldn't be any better than any other fan.

   I'm never going to forget it, though, because if I did ... well, I'd have nothing but a worthless job that doesn't pay a damn.

   And that Tampa Bay Devil Rays jersey purchase would seem even stupider than it actually is.

February 3, 2007 - Maybe It Is A Scene
   Half-Assed Photo Essay: I'm guessing it's just a coincidence that the majority of letters in Worcester also spell "worst," and that luxury condos in the city appear to be far cheaper than even the ones in Whale City.

Worcester, In Photos
-- Needs no explanation.

Worcester, In Photos
-- Not to be confused with "Boston Donuts" up the street.

Worcester, In Photos
-- Only needs explanation at colleges.

   Having little to do with worst given the blowout, this is why I was in ... "The City on The Move" is apparently what they're going with.

Brianne Flanders (44)
-- Action photography is hard.

Brianne Flanders (44)
-- These, though, are probably my best efforts ever.

   Not shown is the one Julie took of one of her sister's teammates, after they'd noticed the camera from across the gym, picking her sister's nose.

   Kids today. Again.

   • Five years ago tonight, the Patriots won Super Bowl XXXVI.

   Rather than write anything else, I'm just going to point back to that night's live blog. There's a handful of contenders, but I'm pretty sure if I sat down and ranked them out, Feb. 3, 2002, would be my favorite post of all-time.

   Plus, that's way easier than actually ranking 1,900-plus posts, some of which are no more than pictures of men with funny moustaches.

Agganis Anthem

BU 0 - 0 UMass Lowell
Zero goals. Makes it easy to discuss.

@ BU - 2/2/07
0 (5)
0 (7)
0 (10)
0 (2)
0 (24)
River Hawks
0 (7)
0 (12)
0 (7)
0 (2)
0 (28)

Read the stellar recap on Hockey East Online.

Read the even better recap on U.S. College Hockey.

   • There's plenty I could say about the flatness after the first five minutes, the one fluky breakaway or the fact that Lowell being worth even half a damn would have gotten them an easy two points. But outside of Julie all but having an aneurysm upon seeing UMass stomping an also-listless Boston College, Jack Parker hit all the high points.

"I'll tell you what I just told my team. That was an embarrassing display. Other than our goaltender -- who played fabulously-- we didn't have one guy who came to play hard tonight.

We got beat to ever loose puck. We got embarrassed by a team that's in last place. We got absolutely embarrassed. When they watch that game film, they won't believe that they didn't win this game six-nothing. From lack of senior leadership to lack of intensity to lack of willingness to compete, it was as bad a show as I've seen."

   Real happy I've made my peace about the Beanpot, and how winning it yearly not resulting in Frozen Fours must mean it's a jinx. Not to mention opting against the ticket broker route.

Julie absorbs greatness.

Glory's never seemed further away.

February 2, 2007 - Not A Bitter Pill
   • There's a point in near every collegian's life where their friends from home cross with their friends from college. It's generally an odd moment ... nothing wrong with it, but it's one of those connections of the pieces of one's life that you might not see coming.

   It struck me tonight, sitting in a bar with a mix from both, that not only have my sides met, but they now co-mingle completely independent of my own involvement. Soccer teams, parties, coupling, the whole nine yards.

   It's not like it's new, and it's not like I'm anything but happy with it. I guess I just never noticed before.

   Not surprising.

BU Medicine
-- I was in search of a nice red shirt to wear to next Friday's "Whiteout Game" at UMass.

February 1, 2007 - His Buzz
   Reactionary Redux: Even as the men behind this Mooninite Mania prove to be complete slacker zeroes -- and perhaps frauds to boot -- I stand by everything I said.

Aqua Teen S-T
-- My only regret is that this wasn't our front page afterward.
(Above genius created by Mike S., our swell Assistant Night Editor.)

   And as Sly mentioned in yesterday's comments, the staff of the BU college newspaper put together quite possibly the worst staff editorial in the genre's history.

When Mastercard created a television commercial using footage of Neil Armstrong swinging a golf club after landing on the Earth's lunar body, the company had a tasteful and successful advertisement using a moon in night.

Turner Broadcasting Company had a little more trouble when incorporating a "Mooninite" into its marketing campaign.

   Bravo, gang. It makes me proud to know that I once used to smash beer bottles in your back parking lot.

   My Undiscovered Gifts: I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little pissed that this revered clown made a big deal out of Seth Mnookin writing about the Curt Schilling - Pedro similarities ... a day plus after I did. But really, that's not costing me much.

   Apparently not being in Florida for the Super Bowl is.

Who's the big winner?

Don Medeiros, from Hamilton, Canada, reacts after kicking a 35-yard field goal to win a new Motorola phone as part of Super Bowl XLI activities Thursday in Miami. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

   I hardly need a new phone, but who doesn't like winning electronics?

   • In interesting not-actually-science news, here's how they spell stuff out on skyscrapers.

Chicago can spell.

Perez gets the word and starts mapping ideas on AutoCAD, the same kind of software Pixar used to model characters for "Toy Story." Like a sculptor, Perez clicks away at individual windows inside a computer mock-up of the building, removing the unnecessary, until an image emerges. He only uses the top 22 floors; the lower floors are blocked by the buildings along Michigan Avenue.

From start to finish, the process can take as little as 20 minutes or more than an hour for intricate patterns. Perez provides tech support for AutoCAD, which CNA's interior designers use, so he knows the program well.

   Once again, engineers: doing cooler stuff than you.

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