March 31, 2003 - Nomar's Better Now!
   When "guilty pleasure" was defined way back in the day, the item they were basing it on was The Tard Blog. I will not argue this.

   And on that same note, I have never so thoroughly enjoyed a crushing Red Sox defeat as I did today. Just watching the Red Sox prove that no matter how optomistic the offseason, they will always be the Red Sox ... given what the game will likely mean in the long run, I could not stop laughing. After 10 minutes of 10 staffers making "Bullpen By Committee" jokes, watching a 3-run game winner sail into the bleachers ... you really have to be a part of the Fellowship of the Miserable to understand.

   I think our Editor in Chief, the sage Ken Hartnett, said it best and with the timing of Johnny Carson.

"I told you he wouldn't go 0 for 5."
-- The walk away sold it, what can I say.

   • I've finally boiled it down. It's not about the booze, the partying, the Girls Going Wild or the panic around finals time. What is college?

   College is the thong sandal. Plain and simple.

   It's a hard thing to notice if you're on a campus, because you're so immersed in it, it's hard to imagine things being any other way. If you've been off campus for too long, I'd imagine it's an idea that's a little too far fetched to believe. But if you're in that middle ground, not even a year out of school, but having been away long enough to feel that sort of disconnect, when you go back you'll know. There won't even be a doubt.

   The biggest difference between college life and the real world is the proliferation of thong sandals.

   Plenty of old women, women who should definitely not be doing so, go to Mardi Gras every year and flash their titties, whether or not it's for a video. Lots of people load up on liquor well past college and to the day they die ... can't say that's unique, even Quarters moved off campus after senior year. People have parties in the real world ... sure they feature more cheeses and less bottles of malt beverages, but the idea of the party is not mutually exclusive to a collegiate community.

   However, the idea of wearing thong sandals out in public, as a shoe for full-day wear, is. I will not argue this, because in nine months in Whale City, I have seen 1 pair worn. On one warm Saturday on the Charles River Campus, I saw roughly 586 pairs flip-flopping down the street.

   I'm pretty sure I was in school for the peaking of this phenomenon, since I don't really remember it happening much in high school. Even freshman year ... nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Then at some point after that, Old Navy decided that the best thing to go with jeans were $1 flip flops.

   And it was over. If you put your ear to the ground right now in Boston, in State College, Ann Arbor, wherever a big school may be ... it'll sound like The Clapper has come back into vogue.

   Course, there are other things happening at college campuses around the country these days. At UMass Dartmouth, the students are writing letters to Mitt Romney saying their piece about the proposed changes to the state's university system. While I like the fact that instead of running around with signs chanting, the students are saying their piece in a way that's actually effective, there's some dueling quotes that didn't catch my attention for reasons like the Ivy League Word Of The Day.

"With Gov. Romney on a mission to cut $150 million in higher-education spending, students fear that the quality of their education will suffer. 'They're very concerned about the future of the university and the dismantling of the system,'
Ms. Briggs said."
-- OK, fair enough. Valid fears.

"The other major concern among students is the cost of attending. The fees for UMass recently increased by $1,000 for in-state students. The immediate result, according to Director of Student Activities Jamie Jacquart, will be an impoverished campus life."
-- So we're worried about the quality of education,
but we're not willing to pay anymore for it.

   I understand some of the students at UMD really don't have the money to pay more for school. But the state doesn't either, and it's much easier for the students to get a second job. Dunkin Donuts will hire them.

   Though I can't say the administration hasn't failed to discuss that either. In a quote wholly worthy of Today's Quote Ripped Completely Out Of Context status:

"There will be more pressure on students to work
and that will eat into their free time."
-- Director of Student Activities Jamie Jacquart

   Least Jamie's not as stupid as Peter Arnett, who should fit in well in Britain, a nation where the newspapers are written and designed to be as sensationalistic as possible.

   He says, "I report the truth of what is happening here in Baghdad and will not apologize for it." I says, "I'm unsure which part of motivating the Iraqi people to rise up against our soldiers and fight is in the best interest of anybody."

A Message To Young Golfer: Grow Up!
-- In a continuing effort to show my caring side, I make fun of a 13-year-old.


March 30, 2003 - Big Red Like Alan Kalter
   And for the final time ...

Picks Reset
Elite 8 Record: 2-2
Wins: Kansas, Syracuse
Losses: Kentucky, Xavier (2nd Rd.)
Final Four Record: 0-3
Losses: Kentucky, Xavier, Kentucky
FINAL RECORD: 38-25

   Regardless of how I did this year, failing yet again to correctly pick the tournament champion, I take solace in knowing Dick Vitale went on national television Friday night and predicted the all four number one seeds -- only one of which did -- would win this weekend, "baby."

   All The Things I Was Going To Talk About Today: Tomorrow, with an extra dash of Peter Arnett, to whom "out of line" really doesn't seem sufficient.


   • Some AP photos really don't need the cutline.

Britney Spears & Howie Long
-- There's an AP photographer getting free drinks and high fives tonight.


March 29, 2003 - Remember The Press Release
   About Yesterday: The comparison between Great American Ballpark and Pittsburgh's new baseball stadium is made all the stronger when you consider the name on the lit skyscraper in the background of yesterday's picture -- PNC Bank.

   Now, if only I could find an excuse to go to Cincinnati.


   • Know what the nicest thing about being a fan of BU Hockey is? You don't even have to attend any games, or just one if that's all your budget and work schedule allows, and you can pretty much pretend like you went to them all. Every season in the last five years follows a similar arc anyway.

   Have a decent regular season, most likely peaking with a Beanpot victory, but struggle at the end with losses to either the Rival or the Evil Pair. Lose to either Providence in the first round and miss the NCAAs, or one of the Evil Pair beyond that in the Hockey East playoffs, with that loss sufficiently sapping any momentum into the NCAAs.

   Given the new format of the NCAA Tournament, there's had to be an amendment. Yet rest assured, there'll be no Frozen Four. Be it because the first round was a struggle against a team who had a bye in that round, the tournament anomaly of being the bye team but facing someone with the momentum of a Heartwrenching Story, or just facing a team that's better than they are, three straight losses means I'm officially dubbing the Second Round of the NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Tournament a Mental Block.


BU vs. UNH - 2003 NCAAs

   Though on the plus side, now I can save all the things I wanted to talk about today for Sunday.


March 28, 2003 - Shh ... The Northern Enemies Lurk
   For the sake of continuity ...

Picks Reset
Sweet 16 Record: 5-3
Wins: Kentucky, Arizona, Kansas, Oklahoma, Syracuse
Losses: LSU (Lost 1st Rd.), Xavier (2nd Rd.), Missouri (2nd Rd.)
Final Four Picks Left: 3
Overall: 36-20

   A Fact I Should Have Revealed By Now: Remember my mid-January discussion of cinnamon opportunities springing up at pizza parlors around the land? I give you Pizza Hut's new Baked Cinnamon Sticks.

   Now if I was really trying to be onto something, I'd find the obscure study done linking cinnamon consumption to pizza cravings.

   A Fact I Thought Would Bring Doom: Going into the third period 3-3 today, a graphic revealed BU's far superior record (8-1-1) than Harvard (0-2-1) in such tied games. It didn't matter then, but since BU's has not won a second round NCAA Tournament game since I've had reason to care, we will not discuss it at all.

   A Fact That May Or May Not Be A Joke: "Dolphins are very intelligent, highly emotional and expressive creatures. They enjoy the company of humans, and if a relationship develops between a human and a dolphin, as has happened with [the writer], they will, on occasion, wish to express their trust and affection for you in the most direct way -- through mating, or sex-play."


   • Sweeping the nation like cinnamon snacks with your pizza order.

Great American Ballpark
-- It's an open-air baseball park replacing a '70s era round uglosphere
in a Rust Belt city that prominently features a river!


The sun sets over Great American Ball Park prior to an exhibition game with between the Cincinnati Reds and the Cleveland Indians on Friday in Cincinnati. The Reds were playing their first game at the new stadium. (AP Photo/Tom Uihlman)

   Now, off to remind everyone why I got that "Worst TD" vote.


March 27, 2003 - Hack Job
   I've never been an anti-war protester, nor do I plan to be one anytime, but I have to think there's a better way to sway people to your argument than pissing everyone off by blocking the street. Course maybe I'm missing the point, since to get their point across and make people listen, they have to make them uncomfortable.

   Then again, if you hit someone pretending to be dead with your car, does it really count as murder? Or is it just helping one's fellow man? These are trying time we live in.

   All I know is someone ripped this Onion article off the S-T men's bathroom wall where it'd been posted, threw it in a urinal and pissed all over it. Seems there's more Republican leaners in Whale City than I thought.


   • I got a lot accomplished today ... made a dentist appointment; canceled my Discover card; ate a delightful pork chop, salad and chunky applesauce dinner; and spent way too many hours on this week's PS2 rental, among other things. Yet I just don't feel very complete, because I didn't do anything as hilariously subversive as this.

"The al-Jazeera website has suffered further attacks from hackers, who hijacked the Arabic news broadcaster's domain name and redirected users to what appears to be an American patriot's website. ... A spokeswoman for al-Jazeera in London said users trying to access the website from the US were also being redirected towards other internet destinations, including porn sites."
-- CNN isn't reporting the porn connection, which really is the best part of the story. You can bet FOX News wouldn't skim over that nugget.

   Because people should never encourage such deviant behavior, I can only hope the hackers directed AJ's Arabic traffic to a site respectful and helpful in fulfilling the Arab world's needs. Something like "Big Wet Burqa," or my original idea, "Hot Ankle Action." Past experience has shown there's a market.

   And it's not even like it'd be hard to fill. Given some of the stuff women will do for money, and no I'm actually linking to the discovered-in-search shit-eating.com, the things they could do for the Muslim market wouldn't even have to go beyond everyday behavior.

   I guess what I'm really saying is someone ought to call Sarah Kozer's publicist before I start posting the "Meg as Foot Porn Starlet" pictures again.


March 26, 2003 - Crackedpepajackjiveturkeysandwich
   The Kitchen Apothecary: The sinus-clearing gift which Frank's Red Hot gives to the congested far exceeds both the sodium blast one gets from drowning rice in it and the three layers of precious membrane one loses through the entire process.

   And you thought the title was nonsensical.


   • So if a grocery store starts an Card Program, wherein one signs up for a card that both grants discounts and allows to store to track a customer's shopping habits, and then gives the discounts to people who don't have a card, doesn't that really defeat the purpose of the whole program? Wouldn't it make more sense to just price everything at the Card Price and not have two prices on stuff, since you never charge anyone the "full" price anyway?

   The correct answer is no, of course, because having the two prices there gives shoppers with a Card the feeling that they're saving money, even if everyone gets that price anyway.

   Now aren't you glad we got that cleared up?

   The preceding message was provided to you by Jon Couture, who after more than nine months on the job, laid out the front page of the Standard-Times for the first time tonight. The following is brought to you by Meg, who quickly made the birthing analogy ... a little too quickly, if you ask me.

"It's like a baby! Let me know how it came out!"


March 25, 2003 - Country Plus Rock? I Call It Crock!
   A Vote Against Redneckdom: WWLP, the NBC affiliate and dominant news station in Western Mass., has actually sent one of their anchors to the Middle East. Of course, given the mispronunciation of where he was by the anchor kicking it over to him in Qatar, we were treated to a 15-second ad lib of "They actually call it [Cutter]. We used to think it was [Cuh tar], and you may have as well, but we've been informed it's actually [Cutter]."

   Personally, I think they should have just pulled a Tally Atwater ... and if you get that, I'm impressed.

   They're not saying Lou, they're saying Mooove:. Red Sox fan favorite Lou Merloni, who grabbed the torch of "average local player" from Billy Jo Robidoux with little fanfare five years ago, was placed on waivers and picked up by San Diego today. The term "fan favorite" is a hard one to define, but apparently its the kind of thing where, if you hit .250 the season before, you complain about possibly getting sent down to the minors.

   But in typical depart-the-Red-Sox fashion, I predict Lou will be an All Star within five years.

   Hearty Laughs and Highland: Day Three of Oscar talk means "Throw out the last notes you've got so you can throw out all the little pieces of paper:"

   • The most shocking inclusion in the Oscar Class Photo, aside from the old winners looking ready to star in Weekend at Bernie's III, had to be Hayley Mills. Miss Bliss won an Oscar? Sadly, the same successes haven't come to Max Battimo.

   • Know the sound you hear when you drop a penny into an empty bottle from a water cooler? The kind of echoing sound of emptiness that resonates? It's the same one that's made when Sharon Stone makes a commercial insinuating sexual relations with the AOL Buddy Icon. She and Teri Hatcher should stop trading career advice.

   • I've never seen The Pianist, but I love Adrien Brody.

"I bet they didn't tell you that was in the gift bag."
-- After making out with Halle Berry on stage ...

"This is, you know, it fills me with great joy, but I am also filled with a lot of sadness tonight because I am accepting an award at such a strange time. And you know my experiences of making this film made me very aware of the sadness and the dehumanization of people at times of war. And the repercussions of war. And whatever you believe in, if it's God or Allah, may he watch over you and let's pray for a peaceful and swift resolution."
-- ... he cut off the orchestra to make my favorite point of the night.

   • Things always seem to happen for a reason, and at the proper time.

   Our neighbors across the street are very nice people, but the fact that this sentence starts with that caveat means there's something more there. They mean well, but they are not a family who raises pets well. They own two golden retrievers, one of which gets to live in the house or in a pen off the back of the house. The other's care involves feeding it in the morning, then opening the front door and pushing. Each day, I walk Amber wander around the yard and down the street out of view, occasionally bolting over to our house because we give her treats and tend to look the other way when she runs through my father's flower gardens or craps on our yard.

   It's absentee parenting, and it doesn't make them bad people. It just amazes me that the worst thing to happen to one of their animals is that they lost an iguana somewhere between the two floors of their house.

   Or to put it another way, neither of their dogs was ever diagnosed with cancer.

   Yeah, cancer isn't contracted from a sneeze or sniffing the wrong hydrant. But we've had dogs suffer spinal injuries, we've have dogs poisoned from finding their way across the garage to the antifreeze, we've had things happen to our pets that should not happen to a family who spends more time taking care of them than some do of their kids. And I know, it helps no one to sit here and play, "Why us?" And yes, she's 14 years old, has lived a great life, and still has a lot of time left. Yet that's not really any solace.

   But maybe there is some credence to the closing of a door and opening of a window.

   My father, working up in Holyoke as those who work for Holyoke Gas & Electric do, was driving round town in his bright yellow truck today, only to see a tiny kitten following some men around on one of the busier streets in town. Not more than a foot long, he was rightly concerned such a small animal wouldn't make it through the night.

   And now it's in our bathroom, on the one weekend I didn't bring my camera home.


March 24, 2003 - Ovations For Roman?
   There is no S-T sports column this week. I've written two while on vacation, and this week I just really didn't have anything educated to say. Turns out there is an advantage to writing for no pay. To make up for the fresh copy dearth, I'll both write long and point you to Charlie's new LiveJournal, where he's still basking in the fever of not yet running out of things to say.

   That said, there are sports to discuss. The latest Tiger Woods conquest, his fourth straight Bay Hill Invitational, more than borders on the ludicrous.

"Tiger Woods split the middle of the fairway with a 3-wood, then ducked outside the ropes and dropped to his knees, his stomach heaving from a nasty bout of food poisoning."
-- He shot a 4-under, bogey-free 68 while repeatedly having to vomit.

   This all seemingly in the face of girlfriend Elin Nordegren's best intentions, who gave Tiger food poisoning Saturday night a day after she collapsed outside the clubhouse from it. Apparently one of the places she puked was in Tiger's bowl of pasta ... that or they have some of the wierdest sexual kinks ever recorded.

''When he's got a seven- or eight-shot lead,
he's not going to throw up all over himself.''
-- Second place finisher Brad Faxon, with the quote that needs no postscript.

   • The Oscars were not without redeeming qualities. Steve Martin was an excellent host, and really should get the gig full-time. I knew things were looking good as soon as he cracked out, "And if you'd like a transcript of the show, please write down everything that we say," and "Hosting the Oscars is like making love to a beautiful woman -- it's something I only get to do when Billy Crystal's out of town."

   Eminem's victory for the Best Song was heartening in every way the Grammys generally are not. As easy as it would have been to give the Best Song to U2 or Paul Simon, who are still U2 and Paul Simon even if their songs were subpar, the voters actually gave the award to the far and away best of the nominated five. Plus, having the presenter be Barbra Streisand, well, that would have been the greatest exchange in television history.

   And really, most of the stars kept it in check. Given how vociferously against the war some of them have been, flashing some peace signs as they walk across the stage was a tasteful display of their sentiments in a forum that a lot of the troops may (but probably weren't) have been watching.

   What Michael Moore did is, as Alison rightly put it, was stand up on stage and be Michael Moore. What worked in Roger & Me, what worked in TV Nation and Bowling For Columbine, is that the man has no shame. He'll walk up to the executives at KMart, the head of the Ford Motor Company or Charlton Heston and just say what's on his mind. It's a very admirable quality, but it has negative effects. Not surprising effects, but ones where he'll try to turn an awards show that was killing itself to not seem in bad taste into one that would be little more than a megaphone where they gave golden statues out.

"Whoa. On behalf of our producers Kathleen Glynn and Michael Donovan from Canada, I'd like to thank the Academy for this. I have invited my fellow documentary nominees on the stage with us, and we would like to -- they're here in solidarity with me because we like nonfiction. We like nonfiction and we live in fictitious times. We live in the time where we have fictitious election results that elects a fictitious president. We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons. Whether it's the fictition of duct tape or fictition of orange alerts we are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you, Mr. Bush, shame on you. And any time you got the Pope and the Dixie Chicks against you, your time is up.
Thank you very much."
-- For the record.

   Bowling for Columbine was an entertaining film. It made a lot of good points about how America feels about guns, and kept things light enough to keep people on both sides of the debate listening. But to me, the biggest problem was that ir provided no answers. No solutions ... generally, it was just an observation piece. Just the observation that America has a problem with guns. It's like taking your car to a mechanic and having him say your car leaks transmission fluid, having him point out that all these others cars don't leak transmission fluid, then having him hand you a bill.

   Through Bowling For Columbine, Moore tells us more die by gun in America than anywhere else, that a country of similar demographics (Canada) doesn't have the same problem, that America's press breeds a culture of fear here and that the NRA is more of a problem than a solution. All these things are true.

   But then the movie ends.


   The things Moore said weren't ever the most onerous to me, because these are things he has preached forever and will continue to preach forever -- Bush stole the election, the war is a lie, etc., etc. He and those who think like them will always feel that way, and hell, I admire their steadfast holding to what they deem the truth. I think they're way off base, but whatever, you knew that already. The people who think this war is only about oil should continue to be happy that war or no war, George W. Bush will never win re-election. The economy always wins out in the end ... just ask his dad.

   And read Michael Moore's letter to the President ... absolutely fascinating. Nearly every point is easily pushed aside, even by someone like me. Basing an argument on the loudest shouters, which Moore urged the press not to do about "five loud people" booed him at the Oscars, is now the most ironic.

   The quote that really stood out to me was by Pedro Almodovar, the Best Original Screenplay winner for Talk To Her:

"Oh, my God. I know that to breathe is very expensive tonight, but I have to breathe. Well, first of all, thank you to the members of the Academy, for their generosity. This is, I mean, I don't know, this is really too much. And I would like to read something that is prohibited, but will be very short."

"You know, of course I dedicate this to El Deseo, to Sony Pictures Classic and all the people that helped me to make this movie. But I also want to dedicate this award to all the people that are raising their voices in favor of peace, respect of human rights, democracy and international legality. All of which are essential qualities to live."

   Almodovar's comments were taken by the crowd, and as far I can tell by everyone else, as being against the war and with the general opinion of the Hollywood Perspective. He drew full applause for them because of his calls for peace, and rightly so ... peace is always the goal. But the rest of it? Respect of human rights? And here I thought it was universally accepted that Saddam Hussein's regime tortures his people, most notably of late via the plastic shredder. Democracy? The man held an election where it was reported he received 100% of the vote, yet I can't get a handful of Posse members to agree what to do on a Tuesday night. International legality? Isn't Saddam firing missiles he told us he didn't have a few months ago? While it's not definitively proven yet, didn't we find chemical weapons factories this week that were supposed to have been destroyed.

   There seems to be some disconnect between the idea of "peace" and the idea of "not fighting." And while I don't think I have even a few of the answers, I'm pretty sure Tim Robbins doesn't either.

   Howard Stern was saying earlier today that, in an appearance on Bill Maher's "Real Time" show on HBO, Tim Robbins said the proper response to the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon would have been for all Americans to turn a vacant lot in their area into a ballfield.

   If this is true ... I'm not even going to get started.


March 23, 2003 - The Rarest Of Betting Failures
   
Picks Reset
Today: 3-5
Round Two Record: 7-9
Day's Losses: Wake Forest, Florida, Xavier, LSU, Alabama
Upset Wins: (12) Butler
Correct Sweet 16 Picks: 7
Elite Eight Picks Remaining: 5
Final Four Picks Remaining: 3
Overall: 31-17

   Xavier's loss to Maryland essentially ends any hopes I have of winning any tournament pools, and ends my real interest in the tournament at the best point to end it -- when it stops being interesting to the disconnected observer.

   But it wasn't the only pool I lost today.

Oscar Picks Reset
Best Picture: Chicago
Best Director: Rob Marshall, Chicago (Roman Polanski)
Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis (Adrien Brody)
Best Supporting Actor: Ed Harris (Chris Cooper)
Best Actress: Renee Zellweger (Nicole Kidman)

Best Supporting Actress: Catherine Zeta-Jones
Best Original Screenplay: Far From Heaven (Talk To Her)
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Hours (The Pianist)

Best Animated Short Film: The Chubbchubbs!
Best Live Action Short Film: Dog (This Charming Man)
Best Animated Feature Film: Ice Age (Spirited Away)

Best Documentary Short Subject: Twin Towers
Best Documentary Feature: Bowling For Columbine
Best Foreign Film: Nowhere In Africa
Best Art Direction: Chicago (Frida)
Best Cinematography: Road To Perdition
Best Costume Design: Gangs Of New York (Chicago)
Best Film Editing: Chicago
Best Makeup: Frida
Best Musical Score: The Hours (Frida)
Best Song: U2, Gangs Of New York (Eminem)

Best Sound: Chicago
Best Sound Editing: Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers
Best Visual Effects: Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers
12 Right // 12 Wrong

   Now I know what it feels like to be the secretary who fills out a bracket by choosing her favorite mascots.


   • Since Bill felt the urge to write a Cooch's World-esque log of his watching the BU-UConn women's basketball game, I thought it only kind to share my story as well.

   11:30 a.m.: I discover my normal sportsbook does not take bets on women's college basketball at all, nor does the crappy one in Costa Rica. This is consistent with both of them being really shitty and having the worst user interfaces in history.

   11:45 a.m.: I decide to check the site that got the whole sports gambling mistake started, and find they offer the Vegas line ... UCONN (-41). This is far beyond seeming too good to be true.

   11:50 a.m.: I regain consciousness and/or stop dancing around the room, depending on what you think is funnier.

   Noon: I remember why I stopped using this site when my credit card is refused for the fourth time. Trying to lower my deposit from the $500 I was hoping for also fails.

   1 p.m.: We leave for lunch with UConn up 27 at the half. I consider just what bawling like a toddler would solve.

   1:45 p.m.: Returning from the delightful and cheap Anna's Taqueria, I can't stop myself from looking.

UCONN 91 - 44 BU
I'll save you the math ... 47.

NCAA Rd. 1
1
2
FIN
TERRIERS (16-15)
22
22
44
Huskies (32-1)
49
42
91

   It's weird how not spending any money can feel like losing $454.54.

   And perhaps later, we'll channel that at the Oscars.


March 22, 2003 - Will It Float?
   The easy part was picking the first round winners, apparently.

Picks Reset
Round Two (Thusfar): 4-4
Day's Losses: Stanford, Cent. Michigan, Missouri, Illinois
Sweet 16 Picks Remaining: 10
Elite Eight Picks Remaining: 6
Overall: 28-12

   I cling to the hope that I can have correctly picked Butler into the Sweet 16 based on a coin flip and their not being coached by Rick Pitino. As well as the knowledge I did win something today.


   • So if you find out that Person A hooked up with a Person B not too long ago, and the whole idea of it is just too much to be fully comprehended in a walk to the bathroom, is the only response really just saying "Nice!"?

   Just so many things didn't add up. A and B are both very nice people, and I like them both a lot, but I just have the mental image of me sitting at a table, slamming two blocks together in some sort of caveman ritual -- I attribute it to watching a lot of Beavis & Butthead, but that's neither here nor there. I suppose that's the nature of the hookup, but still ... the puzzle pieces just don't fit together.

   All that said, A does throw a bitching party, something which apparently B now enjoys to do. But really, even I'm sick of talking about this by now.


March 21, 2003 - Still Spite For The Number Five
   You know you aren't dealing with a bustling online merchandiser when a $14 purchase is worthy of a thank you card with team crest, a handwritten thank you note and a business card from the Director of Merchandise. Of course, maybe the staff of the Falcons are just that nice a group of people.

   Regardless, I'm happy to have the addition to my Cubicle Cabinet.

Cubicle Cabinet
-- From left, Posed Picture of Meg, Oversized Headshot of Myself,
Valentine's Card, Large Fish, Screech, Fruit-2-O Bottle, Coach McSorley

(Not Shown: Boy Cuddling With Fish)

   Sadly, also not pictured is the mock "Giants win in San Francisco" sports cover I was given in which Jeremy Shockey is featured in a Jeremy Shockey pose.

   Also, sadly, reality located my bracket today.

Picks Reset
Today: 11-5
Round One Record: 24-8
Day's Losses: LSU, Oregon, Colorado, Alabama, Penn
Upset Wins: (10) Auburn, (12) Butler
Sweet 16 Picks Remaining: 14
Elite Eight Picks Remaining: 7

   It's possible a .750 winning percentage and correctly picking five of the eight upsets are both personal bests, as is having a two touchdowns of my Sweet 16 intact. Nevertheless, Alabama has snatched the Creighton Memorial Angst Award from LSU, who held it for mere hours after ruining my Elite Eight. Blowing an 11-point halftime lead has that kind of pull.

   On the bright side, after going 4-0 in the early games, I pretty much assured myself being 17-3 would be the high water mark of this whole affair.


   • Gamblor called tonight just to remind me I'm willing to bet my child's college fund on any pointspread below 50 for the UConn-BU "game".

   It's unfortunate the eighth deadly sin is for any sportsbook to post lines for women's college basketball anywhere remotely accessible.


March 20, 2003 - Why Does Qatar = Cutter?
   Apparently, I'm a first day prognosticator.

Picks Reset
Round One Record (Thusfar): 13-3
Day's Losses: BYU, Memphis, UW-Milwaukee
Upset Wins: (9) Gonzaga, (11) Cent. Michigan, (13) Tulsa
Sweet 16 Picks Remaining: 16

   The first two losses, I can stomach. But Wisconsin-Milwaukee missed two layups in the final minute, thus earning them the Creighton Memorial Angst Award for 2003.

   So far.


   • Want to know what it's like to work as a "journalist" during a war? You get to look at pictures like these.

Flag Burner
-- An unidentified war protester burns an
American flag in Eugene, Ore., Thursday. (AP Photo)

   There were roughly 63 pages (16 photos to a page) of art from the last 12 hours on our AP server tonight, with roughly 60 percent of those being shots of protesters around the globe. And you know, I'll give most of them the benefit of the doubt ... this is America and you have the right to voice your displeasure whenever you want, even if doing so in the country you're protesting over would be an act worthy of murder.

   But have the balls to show you're face if you're so right. You want to walk around comparing George W. Bush to Hitler, saying even he had support of an invasion of Poland? Easy to say when you're running around like a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

   I will not argue this. I'm trying to be open to both sides of the war argument, but I dare you to forward a stance where it's acceptable to burn the American flag with your face hidden like a pussy. What do we say about people who write malicious e-mails, but don't sign them? We ignore them, since someone who won't put their name on the line isn't worthy of being heard. Be proud, you true patriot. Be glad I wasn't driving down that city street.

   Or better yet, listen to Ted Kennedy. I can't believe I actually just said that.

"Many Americans, including many of us in Congress, opposed this war. But today and throughout this conflict, we are united in support of the men and women of our Armed Forces. We pledge to do all we can to support them."

"Our thoughts and our heartfelt prayers are also with our President, as he makes the difficult decisions that will determine the course and success of the war that now begins. May God's wisdom guide our President and protect him in the days that lie ahead. President Bush spoke for all Americans last night in expressing support for our forces. He is right to prepare our country for what may be a long and difficult struggle, and he is right to do his best to safeguard the innocent people of Iraq. We join our President in pledging our commitment to victory -- to disarm Saddam and to bring freedom and opportunity to all the people of Iraq."

   Though really, the wires weren't all bad this evening.

Vermont-Arizona
Photo by Ann Heisenfelt - The AP

-- Vermont's Taylor Coppenrath offers his ass
to Arizona's Hassan Adams for a "Maple Handshake"
during the Ca(n')tamounts' 80-51 whipping.

   First person to mention BU last year lost by 38 to a team that went out in the second round will be forced to watch repeated promos for the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament.


March 19, 2003 - Name Game
   Sadly, I've been unable to go with instinct #1 for today's update ... couldn't find a nice image of The Onion's famed WA- front page. I also was unable to scan a copy of the S-T's Sports front from Tuesday, which packaged my March Madness column with, of all things, a huge art-heavy feature on the Vermont Catamounts.

   They've become the SouthCoast's adopted team and the dandies of the nation, first due to the Coach's radio show, then due to their being snowed in at Denver International. Call me bitter and hate-filled, but wouldn't you figure the one team that would have no problem with a blizzard would be the one who's under white 347 days of the year?

   Still, a heartening 62-57 loss by the BU men against St. John's. Suffice to say they likely wouldn't have come as close to a win in the Big Dance.


   • For 10 points, interpolate what brought our Managing Editor to start singing 'The Facts of Life' theme song less than three hours after the attacks (that were not the real war) began.

   And for zero, read these picks.

MIDWEST REGION
(1) Kentucky, (2) Pittsburgh, (3) Marquette, (5) Wisconsin,
(6) Missouri, (8) Oregon, (10) Alabama, (13) Tulsa

(1) Kentucky, (5) Wisconsin, (6) Missouri, (10) Alabama

(1) Kentucky, (6) Missouri

(1) Kentucky wins Midwest Region.

WEST REGION
(1) Arizona, (2) Kansas, (3) Duke, (4) Illinois,
(7) Memphis, (9) Gonzaga, (11) Cent. Michigan, (12) Wisconsin-Milwaukee

(1) Arizona, (2) Kansas, (4) Illinois, (11) Cent. Michigan

(1) Arizona, (2) Kansas

(2) Kansas wins West Region.

SOUTH REGION
(1) Texas, (2) Florida, (3) Xavier, (4) Stanford,
(6) Maryland, (8) LSU, (10) Colorado, (12) BYU

(2) Florida, (3) Xavier, (4) Stanford, (8) LSU

(3) Xavier, (8) LSU

(3) Xavier wins South Region.

EAST REGION
(1) Oklahoma, (2) Wake Forest, (3) Syracuse, (4) Louisville,
(8) Cal, (10) Auburn, (11) Penn, (12) Butler

(1) Oklahoma, (2) Wake Forest, (3) Syracuse, (12) Butler

(1) Oklahoma, (3) Syracuse

(3) Syracuse wins East Region.

(1) Kentucky over (2) Kansas
(3) Xavier over (3) Syracuse
Kentucky over Xavier, 75-59

   Operation "Iraqi Freedom"? That's the best we could come up with?!


March 18, 2003 - MTV's Spring Break Will Go On
   The Boston Sports Media Watch is running a tournament pitting 64 members of the Boston Media against one another. I mention it only because I find it intriguing -- I'm not even worthy of a bid in the Media NIT yet, considering seeing Bob Ryan at the BU-Vermont game Saturday made me giddy.

   And on a bracket note, because I told you so, these are some of the Horses I Shall Ride starting Thursday:

The Chippewas, my Wyoming Principle school of 2003!
The Cajun Flagship, who proudly tout a freshman gymnast on their front page!
The Bulldogs, winners of a pair via coinflip and not being Rick Pitino!
The Musketeers, whose Web site has a description of only "Cincinnati!"

   The fanfare-less Pile of Incorrect Predictions will be revealed Wednesday.


   • As inspired by veteran newsman John Norris, Cooch's World proudly brings you the War Scorecard, sponsored by Smucker's Uncrustables -- delectable pockets of imitation bread, peanut butter paste and freeze-dried jelly, or at least they are in my world of making up the facts.

   MLB: Major League Baseball has decided to cancel next week's season-opening Mariners-Athletics series in Tokyo, due in small part to player fears of flying over the Pacific Ocean in a time of war. The move is surely a disappointment to Ichiro Suzuki, who now won't get to cash in his free sashimi coupons at the raw fish pushcart in the Egg Dome before they expire.

   NCAA: Saying the NCAA would not let a tyrant change their plans, NCAA President Myles Brand announced the Men's Basketball Tournament will go on as scheduled. It was somewhat symbolic that Brand made the announcement, as he has a history of not letting tyrants ruin his day.

   AMPAS: Though the red carpet will be truncated and stars will be held to tight speech time limits, the Academy Awards will go on as scheduled on Sunday night. The time limit enforcement will be very important on a night when stars speak their minds -- though Richard Gere is all for stopping the "repression and genocide" in Tibet, he doesn't feel the same way about the Iraqis.

Today's Quote Pushing Me Back Toward Full War Support
"There was a machine designed for shredding plastic. Men were dropped into it and we were again made to watch. Sometimes they went in head first and died quickly. Sometimes they went in feet first and died screaming. It was horrible. I saw 30 people die like this. Their remains would be placed in plastic bags and we were told they would be used as fish food ... on one occasion, I saw Qusay [President Saddam Husseinís youngest son] personally supervise these murders."
-- Really, the whole of the London Times story needs to be read.

   Augusta National: As the organizers of The Masters golf tournament say they will mull over running their tournament in the face of war, Martha Burk told The Washington Post the tournament should be cancelled "out of deference to our fighting men and women." I've already said my piece regarding Ms. Burk and the NCWO, but when you say "We don't want to marginalize ourselves while the nation's mind is on the war," and most of the nation has already marginalized you, that pretty much says all that needs to be said.

   Yes, you could probably just as easily find a poll that goes the other way ... that I won't deny. But not at the top of this Google search.

   WWE: World Wrestling Entertainment has said its "been in contact with federal agents," and will continue to tour at this time. This can only mean we're just a few weeks from a revival of Sgt. Slaughter's Iraqi sympathizer shtick of 1991.

   American Idol: Producers say "multiple contingency plans are in place" if war coverage delays Idol's Tuesday-Wednesday run over the next few months. Though I did not see tonight's show, opting instead for a movie, I'll be interested to see how long the Marines keep Joshua Gracin on the long leash.

   Cooch's World: While much of the online BlogoJournaSphere is likely salivating at the thought of war, and the opportunity to dissect it like never before, I will stand by my long-standing secret credo. "Cooch's World: Not talking about anything important since May 22, 2001."

   I've been riding the fence on the idea of war for several months now. On the one hand, Saddam Hussein clearly needs to be removed. On the other, I don't like the idea of Iraq's daily machinations then becoming our problem once he's deposed. The only war opinions that get me irrationally angry are two:

   • Those of people who blast President Bush for fighting a war over oil, when France's entire oppostion to action is transparently based on their fears of losing a cheap crude seller.

   • Those who are frozen by the fear of a retaliatory strike on America, so frozen that they'll allow themselves just to be afraid and cry about how they wish this would all just go away.


   I also wish it were still like it was the early morning of Sept. 11, 2001, when I woke up real early to buy an X-Acto knife and a metal ruler, and my biggest problem was that I hadn't completed my assignment of "how these letters made me feel." But it's not. We're going to war, or are already at war depending on when this publishes or your opinion of the "War on Terror," and George W. Bush is the president.

   And regardless of whether or not he's an idiot, an election thief, a Fascist, a monkey, a drunk or a redneck, I think it's time we unite behind our troops and wish them God speed and a safe, victorious return.


March 17, 2003 - No Flow
   Well, we've got our first lock inductee to Navel Gaze 2003.

"Our reduced press run, however, will have no impact on the quality of journalism the Boston U. community has come to expect from the Free Press. The Daily Free Press is always available at www.dailyfreepress.com, and is available in an email addition for non-paying subscribers."
-- The registered can read it here. I remain unsure whether to laugh or cry.

   There's no way I can possibly follow the perfect joke.


   • Before I went on vacation, I assured my boss and myself that we wouldn't go to war until I was back at work ... the kind of negative thinking that both hurts a person in real life and in the craps pit.

   According to my math, 48 hours from 8 p.m. tonight is right around when I'll be finishing dinner on my first night back.

Bracket Busted
-- The NCAA Tournament -- spreading irrational spite and hatred since whenever betting on it became a good idea.

   And to get my picks in under the gun, I'm taking 14-16 UNC Asheville to tame the Tigers of Texas Southern in tonight's Play-In game.


March 16, 2003 - Terhune! Taurasi! NEXT!
   Vacation Day Last: Per spoken request of the girlfriend, we washed cars. Per unspoken request, we saved this mouse that was stuck in a trash can.

Trash Can Mouse
-- Course, he's probably been eaten by now.

   Relief Can Be Yours, If You Want It: At the Ground Round in West Springfield, the grand dame of local "random shit on the wall" eateries, the walls of the bathroom are adorned with Successories-esque posters promoting Focus, Attitude, Success and Confidence.

   I really think the Focus one would have been best suited over the urinals, but that's just me.


   • It's Bracket Day, and before we get on to my Major Decision, it seems only right that I do what I do best: report on my knee-jerk, factless opinions.

Men's National Invitation Tournament
Boston University (20-10) at St. John's (16-13)

Sadly, the Terriers can only face BC if they advance to the final in New York City. Even more sadly, the ESPN page laying out the first-round matchups has a picture captioned "Marcus Hatten and St. John's are among the NIT favorites."

   Regardless, I took an irrational amount of glee from the BC bubble bursting for an NCAA bid. Half the reason I'd taken Saturday's BU loss so hard was because I felt BU would get in and BC would get bounced. It's the kind of thing that the press would choose to ignore as they wailed about the Eagles' fate and praised Worcester's Holy Cross, but it would have been fun nonetheless.


Women's NCAA Tournament
First Round - At Storrs, Conn.
#16 Boston University (16-14) vs. #1 UConn (31-1)

It's not as though the matchup of Yelenak Bowl I was unexpected, given the Terriers have the worst record in the field. Still, it would have been nice to avoid a game where 65 will be a viable pointspread.

   Part of me really wants to go to this game ... not so much because of the car wreck factor, but because a team that I've watched play in front of 100 people is going to the current mecca of women's college basketball to play the reigning dynasty. It's like when years ago, small schools who secured bids to the Dance would chant, "We want Duke! We want Duke!" It doesn't matter than they're walking into a mauling -- there really is the joy of success in just being nominated.

   And on the Duke factor, I remain bitter that if Lenny Wirtz hadn't called a bullshit technical on John Calipari in the 1992 East Regional semifinals, the Duke-Kentucky game of lore could have very easily been Duke-UMass. Sure they'd have lost ... but who cares? I care.


Men's NCAA Tournament
First Round - At Nashville, Tenn.
#16 IUPUI (20-13) vs. #1 Kentucky (29-3)

My chosen Cinderella is in trouble. Regardless, my residual hate for the Wildcats (1992, 1996 Final Four) will lead me to hope harder for a miracle.

First Round - At Boston, Mass.
#10 Alabama (17-11) vs. #7 Indiana (20-12)

There's some sort of cosmic symbolism to IU playing in Boston, but I'm both too stupid to decipher it and too cheap to buy scalped tickets to the game.

First Round - At Indianapolis, Ind.
#12 UW-Milwaukee (24-7) vs. #5 Notre Dame (22-10)

My Knee-Jerk Upset Special. As it's a Knee-Jerk, don't ask why. Just thank me later.

First Round - At Salt Lake City, Utah
#16 Vermont (21-11) vs. #1 Arizona (25-3)

And this is what we call a segue.


For Release Upon Receipt - March 16, 2003
Contact: Hugh Jass, 1-800-USA-LOAN

Cooch's World Ends Controversial "Fuck Canada" Campaign,
Replaces With Hatred Of Northern New England State Universities


The New Enemies
"All the mascots are screaming because they know they suck."

   COOCH'S WORLD -- Jon Couture, webmaster of the slightly popular "Cooch's World" Web site, has announced a sudden end to his "Fuck Canada" policy, saying he will instead channel his hate toward the state universities of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

   "To be honest, my heart was never fully behind hating Canada," Couture said from a folding chair bought at the 2001 Canon Greater Hartford Open. "As big of a dick as that Niagara border guard was, as awful as losing money at Casino Windsor was, I always felt like Canada had too much to offer us as people to dismiss it with a passing phrase. These universities, however, they have absolutely zero to offer us."

   Couture amended that statement seconds later.

   "Well, they do offer us something to be thankful for. That we get to wake up every day and not have to go to them."

   The World's new policy comes just one day after Boston University, Couture's alma mater, played three title games against the schools in question. Vermont and New Hampshire beat BU in men's basketball and hockey, respectively, but Maine fell to the Terrier women's basketball team. Couture said despite the defeat, Maine had long ago sealed its place in the triumvirate of hatred.

   "It was hard for me while Doug Janik, who I went to school with in Agawam, played for Maine. I felt really torn," Couture said. "But after losing to them in the 2000 and 2002 Hockey East semis, plus the 2002 NCAAs, and having to listen to their fat, overzealous fans mock us out of the arena, I had it."

   After cussing and muttering to himself for several seconds, Couture made it clear his grudge was not against the states in question, just the schools and their fans.

   "I'd originally planned to just boycott all of northern New England, but I have ties to Nashua (N.H.), and I like maple syrup and lobster," Couture said. "Plus I bought a bunch of stuff for my kitchen from the outlets in Kittery (Maine)."

   "The rest of them can rot in hell though."

   Specifically, Couture cited the overzealousness of the schools' fans as the reason for his hate.

   "Look, I'm all for supporting your team as loud and as fervently as possible," Couture said. "But when you're ugly, have a big mullet or are ugly, and you do it against my team, I'm going to get really pissed. Especially if you win a lot ... that's why I'd left Vermont alone before now, since the only thing their hockey team ever beats is each other's genitalia."

   Couture ended his comments with an attack of his detractors.

   "I suppose in my complaints against the fans putting too much stock and excitement into support of their team, there's some irony in my getting so pissed off at them about it. I suppose some could call my stance hypocritical," Couture said. "But that's the beauty of stereotyping large entities when you're angry ... you don't have to worry about stuff like that."

   "Also, BC sucks."


March 15, 2003 - Saturday Sports Day
   On Vacation Day Four, they played many games. And from them, a Major Decision has been made.

Men's Basketball
Vermont 56 - 55 BU

The problem with great games is that someone has to lose them.

America East Final
1
2
FIN
#1 TERRIERS (20-10)
22
33
55
#2 Catamounts (21-11)
30
26
56

Read the AP recap on ESPN.com

Read the recap on the BU Athletics site.

   • The inevitable comparison, at least to me, is to the game just one year ago. BU and Hartford in the America East semifinal, played just across the city at Northeastern's Matthews Arena.

"Stijn Dhondt's off-balance three-pointer left his hand with 0.1 seconds remaining, it went through the hoop to lift Boston University to a 63-60 victory.

BU, the second seed in the championship, led, 59-55, with 19 seconds left, but Hartford's junior forward Junior Amos hit a three-pointer from the right baseline with 10 seconds left to cut the lead to one point. Sophomore forward Jason Grochowalski was fouled and made one of two free throws to make it 60-58. Hartford's senior guard Mantas Storpirstis dribbled down the right side of the court and made a leaning 15-footer to tie the score with just 0.8 seconds left. The Terriers took a 30-second timeout to set up a length-of-the-court pass, a play which head coach Dennis Wolff said the team practices everyday.

With sophomore guard Kevin Fitzgerald executing the baseball pass to perfection, Dhondt cut to the right side of the court, caught the pass just outside of the arc, and got an open look at the basket. His shot was off-balance and trailing towards the right sideline, but it hit nothing but net as time expired."

   As my father would put it, you can only go to the well so many times before it comes up dry.

   The Terriers did not play a decent first half in the entire America East tournament, and as the opponents improved, the consequences grew more severe. They survived against New Hampshire. They struggled against Northeastern. They paid against Vermont -- after winning the tip, they went up 2-0 on a put-back basket.

   And then it was 16-2.

   It was not so much a matter of the Catamounts playing harder as it was their playing better. They dominated inside, controlling the boards and winning nearly every battle in the paint. The Terriers seemed content to battle back from outside, forcing shots and making stupid mistakes. To be down 30-22 at the half was a gift.

   Yet they found their way back. The threes fell every so often and the inside game started to work. Vermont kept answering, but BU chipped away. As soon it was 34-33, it was 43-36 again ... but this had all the markings of a game bound to come down to the final minute.

   I wasn't at last year's title game, a 60-44 win over Maine, but this was easily the loudest basketball game I've ever been to. Vermont's four sections of fans were almost as loud as our six, and things just grew to a fever pitch by the end. In that aspect it was even better than your average hockey game ... not only was my voice gone afterwards, but all the bleacher stomping and echoing screams left me unable to hear as well.

   Somehow, the Terriers fought through the 23-point inside onslaught of Vermont's Matt Sheftic, who answered the taunts of 'Shrek' by hitting nealry every shot he took in the final 10 minutes. And it came down through the last TV timeout, and to the last pair of possessions, with it BU 55, Vermont 54.

   After BU turned it over inside, never succeeding in taking beyond a two-point lead, Vermont ran down the clock. With just a handful left to shoot, another short jumped from the baseline went up, then in. Five seconds, and once a time out called, 2.9. An inbound from the sideline to Chaz Carr, who'd run from the other side and under the basket, to a clear spot past the arc.

   Supposedly I, Meg, Matt, Mark and Mike were on TV at the game today. Given we were in the second row, roughly ten feet from the ESPN broadcast position, I wouldn't doubt it. I'd probably have been one of the first to make it onto the court in a celebration, since to the left of us was just alumni and Vermont fans.

   Unfortunately, they beat me to it.


Women's Basketball
BU 69 - 65 Maine

Only they may dance.

America East Final
1
2
FIN
#3 TERRIERS (16-14)
34
35
69
#1 Black Bears (24-5)
20
45
65

Read the AP recap on ESPN.com

Read the recap on the BU Athletics site.

   • So apparently, both BU basketball games today had a scoreline of 14-2 at one point. Surprise, surprise, both those teams won.

   I, to be honest, do not have a whole lot of interest in the women's basketball team. However, until this week, I'd been to more of their games (2) than to those of the men (0). I don't deny being a bandwagon jumper, though I'd have gone more last year if I'd been in the country for Championship Week.

   Congrats to the women, and here's hoping they avoid a pissed-off bunch of UConn Huskies in the first round.


Hockey
UNH 1 -(OT)- 0 BU
The inevitablility of fatigue.

Hockey East Final
1
2
3
OT
FIN
#5 TERRIERS
0 (12)
0 (4)
0 (4)
0 (4)
0 (24)
#1 Wildcats
0 (5)
0 (14)
0 (12)
1 (10)
1 (41)

Read the recap on Hockey East Online.

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

   • BU played an 85-minute, double overtime game against their bitter rivals on Friday night. UNH, the better of the two teams, struggled but just was more talented than a Cinderella opponent.

   I really wish I could say I was surprised they lost, but allow me to be cheap and say there's some amount of victory in their taking the best team in the country to overtime, as there is in Sean Fields rightly being award the tournament MVP award. Parker's boys seem to be peaking at the right point in the season, unlike in the past four years, when the Hockey East tourney was a stage for little more than a pre-NCAA flop.

   I was a bad fan. After the basketball game, I just couldn't take another two-hour heart attack. Knowing it was on tape delay, I allowed someone to tell me the result, and then thanked them for the saved anguish.


   If nothing else, the defeat will help make the Major Decision, to be announced via press release on Sunday, a lot more coherent.


March 14, 2003 - 143 + 120 = Win One Acquired
   Vacation Day Three:

From Start To Finish
-- For one day, I fancied myself a chef.

   • I saw it in a Hooters, where the medium wings taste like little more than greasy chicken.

BU 6 -(2OT)- 5 BC
The best part was when they celebrated on the defenseman.

Hockey East Semis
1
2
3
OT 1
OT 2
FIN
#5 TERRIERS
1 (8)
3 (8)
1 (9)
0 (9)
1 (1)
6 (35)
#2 Eagles
1 (11)
2 (10)
2 (13)
0 (15)
0 (2)
5 (51)

Read the recap on Hockey East Online.

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

   • So let me get this straight, since I only saw the overtimes. BU was:

   -- Outshot in every period, including the second overtime.

   -- In the semis, where they'd been beaten badly in their last two trips.

   -- Playing Boston College, who led the season series 3-1 and swept the HEA regular season series.

   And yet here I sit having to contemplate fudging my entire Saturday evening plans because there's a chance, albeit a small one, that the Terriers could claim their first Hockey East title in six seasons after winning the longest HE semifinal in league history, a game whose conclusion led me to smack Meg in the back a little harder than the situation probably warranted.

   Hell yeah!

   Jinx-worthy Revelation: This is the third time in tournament history that seeds 1, 2, 5 and 6 have advance to the semifinals (1995 and 1997). Boston University eventually won both of those tournaments as the #2 seed in 1995 and as the #1 seed in 1997.

   Slightly Interesting Fact: The Terriers have now played both the longest semifinal and the longest quarterfinal (96:26 - 2OT loss to Providence in 2001) in Hockey East history. Yet neither were as long as the 4OT loss (123:53) the Terriers suffered to St. Lawrence in the 2000 NCAA East Regional, the second-longest college hockey ever played.

   Fact Not Open To Argument: Sean Fields, with 46 saves on the night, is fucking amazing.


   I would like to offer a slow clap to UMass, who put up a hell of a fight in losing 5-4 to UNH. Seeing them in the NCAA Tournament would have put a smile on my face, even if they would have been pooed all over by somebody like Clarkson.

   And now, off to pray for Bracketology.


March 13, 2003 - Bang Bang Play
   Vacation Day Two: Every so often, I get the overwhelming urge to embrace my Western Mass. roots through an activity that most outside the region assume is a common occurrence here.

Smith & Wesson
-- Yippie-ki-yay, you big jerk.

   There are only two ways to end this conversation properly:

   1) The night confirmed I'm a mediocre shot. If you pissed me off I'd wound you, but there's a good chance that if I was aiming for your chest, I'd shoot you in the neck.

   2) For me, the most disappointing part is that my idea to go to the new Hooters in Springfield, and thus complete the perfect redneck night, was shot down for fears we'd have graduated high school with more than 50 percent of the wait staff.

   {Ed Note: The Smith & Wesson Shooting Sports Center is as high-class and professional a shooting range that you'll find, and in no way am I trying to defame it as hickish. It's just that I know you people, and I figured I'd save you the energy.]


   • I don't think you can really change the end result, but sometimes the spirit of the rules ought to be more closely considered. Especially when dealing with stupid, excited basketball players.

"Pasco's interception of an inbounds pass in the final three seconds against Colorado should've given Kansas State an upset victory in the first round of the Big 12 tournament. Instead, he raised his arm in celebration and started to leave the court when referees whistled him for traveling. Given yet another chance, the Buffaloes made the Wildcats pay as James Wright banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer for a miraculous 77-76 victory Thursday night."

   It's by no means a fair comparison, but all I can think of is Munich '72.

   I didn't see it though, because I was watching movies and gorging on Chinese. Thus the question ... why did I walk out of the room for the last 25 minutes of The Ring?

   a) Because I have enough stress in my life already, and don't need a movie to keep me up at night for the rest of the week.

   b) Because I had been sufficiently scared by the sort-of frightening first 90 minutes, combined with the recommendations and comments of some of my co-workers, who all praised it as the scariest movie that they've ever seen.

   c) Because the clove cigarette smoking of my friends in a closed room really was giving me a significant headache.

or

   d) Because I'm a humongous wussy.


   Don't worry ... I know the answer well enough myself.


March 12, 2003 - Jump Shots and Found Tots
   Vacation Day One: In an effort to not feel like my week off from the S-T was wasted, I've decided to try and do something productive with each day in it.

   First came the visit I never made on my own as a child.

Basketball HOF
-- So that's what's under the giant silver basketball!

At The Hoop Hall - 3.12.03

http://www.imagestation.com/album/?id=4290534005
[Login using CoochWorld/CoochWorld]

   If you've been to the old Hall of Fame, which still stands next door for the time being, you owe it to yourself to visit the new building. Though there really isn't all that many new exhibits, the entire presentation of it is so much better than what it was, it makes everything seem new while you're there. If you've never been, it's well worth the trip. However, the $15 entry fee could use a ratchet down once they pay the new building off.

   Nevertheless, I'm glad I went. The step up from the old place is immense -- nearly every exhibit is voiced by the 'Behind The Music' guy! Personally, the interactive stuff sells me every time I go, most notably the vertical leap test and the entire center portion shown above, where you're free to just grab a ball and shoot baskets until the place closes.

   And that's even considering I took an errant shot in the face.


   • You remembre that moment this summer when each of us, about a week after Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped, all said in our own way, "Well, she's dead." Yeah ... that makes this an all-out miracle.

   This borders on the unbelieveable to me ... but I won't even go there because it's such a happy story, badgering about how a girl stays kidnapped for nearly nine months is really irrelevant.

   Perhaps the thing that disturbs me the most about this coverage is that my peers -- not the ones I actually work with, but those hotter shots with whom I share a profession only -- will make a story out of this where none exists. I haven't seen much of the extensive coverage linked to this, but I'd be willing to bet experts are being brought in and the casting for the TV movie has already begun.

   It's been a tough couple of years for the TV movie genre ... the one of significance I last remember was the Amy Fisher story. No OJ, no World Trade Center attack ... the folks at NBC should jump on this stat.

   The point is there is no point. Whatever was done to Elizabeth Smart in her nine months of capture is wholly irrelevant to anything. No one needs to know except the family because all America's parents need is something else to panic about. Last night's South Park seemed perfectly timed ... the city is in the full throes of kidnapping fever, building a Great Wall around their city, forcing their kids to wear "Child Alert" helmets, then going to school with their kids for fears of kidnap from a known neighbor until eventually, "the Mongolians were right all along!"

   Really, you had to be there. As you had to be when Meg reasoned women shouldn't be drafted for the military because she didn't have as big a vertical leap and couldn't reach the furthest baskets at the Hall of Fame.

   And that's called "tying it all together."


March 11, 2003 - For The Ladies
   • Because I am on vacation, and really don't want to spend any time bearting the UConn Huskies, I've decided to dedicate today's update to two people who consistenly ask me why they haven't been mentioned lately. Consider the fact that they're all girls as a sign ... the ladies just love me.

   A Tome To Andrea: Bob Knight is giving back his salary. Since Texas Tech has been below expectations, and he blames himself, he's giving back his $250,000 salary. He did the same thing last year, taking only the $15,000 necessary for him to qualify for benefits. He is insane, but at the very least, Bob Knight is accountable. I like that.

   And nearer to Bloomington, IUPUI is in the Big Dance. The equivelant of BU and BC forming a joint school in downtown Boston, there's a good chance they'll be in while at least half of their constituent parts are left to watch from the sidelines. Kinda like the chance of a BC-out, BU-in scenario that would have me dancing in the streets.

   Andi has some tie to IUPUI ... it may have been where she spent a summer working at the natatorium. Having ridden by their campus several times on various visits, I recall them having a very nice football field and very bright message board. Go Jaguars!

   A Listing For Lonnie: I guess Jaromir Jagr and I have something in common, though I never owed the Belize-based gambling Web site CaribSports more than $500,000, never owed the IRS more than $3 million and never was an international sex symbol despite having way too much hair for my head.

   I often wonder just how professional athletes spend all their money. It's not so much an issue for NHL players, but anyone pulling in more than $15 million in a year ... help me out here. Is gambling even any fun when you have $15 million? Can you really get excited about winning another couple hundred thousand? Allowing you to buy that 17th X-Box you've had your eye on?

   On a gambling note, I will be going to Foxwoods with Todd on Monday to try and push my all-time casino gambling numbers into the black. Anyone interested in attending, whether you're a hot girl or not, is encouraged to mail it in.


March 10, 2003 - Another Lip Chip
   The Tier Two University Phrase Of The Day: Today's phrase is lingua franca! Defined as "any of various languages used as common or commercial tongues among peoples of diverse speech" or "something resembling a common language," it was used in the context of Academic Decathlon.

   The Tier Two University Phrase Of The Day is a blatant ripoff of Cooch's World's newest feature, The Ivy League Word of the Day, which highlights some of the verbiage encountered when editing copy from Ivy-educated reporters. Given the writer of the piece in question, it is used in mockery, since she's making me do my job while I'm on vacation. As I phrased it to her, "ad people don't go on vacation and keep making ads, so for the next week I'll be using the worst English I can possibly spoke."


   • What happens when a writer has two topics for his column, yet neither of them can really be drawn out to 650 words? I'll give you a hint ... the words "mishmash" and "crap" are involved.

The Finer Points Of The Game
-- I have absolutely nothing to say about this, so we'll just consider it the letdown between Toni Smith and the dissection of March Madness.

   I essentially feel like I submitted a web update for publication, and am genuinely bothered by it. The same sort of thing happened when I was in California, but as I was slated to run on New Year's Eve, putting together a 2002 retrospective seemed both well planned and timely. But these are the problems with February on the sports calendar ... my not wanting to be giddy about the Yankees' 3-8 spring left me essentially proving why Bill Simmons would be an extremely disappointing newspaper columnist.

   Reading the tag board on the Media Watch, this point is widely missed. The Sports Guy would be a good columnist, since he is a pretty good writer, but gone would be most of the asides that make his ramblings so enjoyable. And when you get down to just the facts, as Mark has reported, he leaves a bit to be desired.

   I say that fully aware most of what I've done is a bad ripoff of Senor Simmons, but so be it.


   But on to the reason you're really here ... cursory college basketball coverage!

BU 71 - 61 NU
Significantly more like actual basketball.

America East Semis
1
2
FIN
#1 TERRIERS (20-9)
31
40
71
#5 Huskies (16-15)
35
26
61

Read the recap on the BU Athletics site.

   • A possible tournament run by the Terriers is not something I thought I'd be watching live this year, but that's beside the point. What's important is that I now understand just how BU got to 20 wins this season, and that there is actually sport where Northeastern is our rival.

   It was not surprising to see that the Northeastern fans wer louder for most of the first half, given BU is always on Spring Break when the winter sports teams are succeeding in the playoffs. And it wasn't surprising to walk in late and see the Huskies ahead ... a feature writer with no interest in ball would likely draw the parallel of the working class school, with its players digging for rebounds, diving for passes and playing with fire, against the rich daddy one, whose players seemed content to let the previous happen.

   But damn ... Meg and I pretty much walked into the building to see Northeastern go on a 13-2 run and lead 28-14.

   However, one of the first baskets we saw upon entering was a dunk. By no means a thunderous dunk, but given we're a team predominantly powered by white people, a solid dunk. To drive home the point, there was another in the second half that got the crowd on its feet.

   As Mike would later explain, it was BU's insistence on playing a 2-3 zone defense that left the Huskies open for repeated threes, and given they were letting themselves be outmuscled on the boards, there was no point to the increased presence in the paint. Really, the only thing that kept BU in the game, and would later be a large part of their victory, was their strength on the foul line. The box score affirms my memory that Jason Grochowalski didn't miss a free throw all night.

   Intentional Gratuitous Slag: There are few fans in this area, across all sports anyway, that get louder and more raucous than those from Northeastern. But damn if it didn't get really quiet in the latter parts of the second half. Not even Geoff's undermanned band or their Grand National Champion Cheerleaders could roust them from the realization that, as usual, only pot will carry them through the weekend.

    Eventually, all those fouls did catch up with NU, and the three point shots were being left open because they'd stopped falling. The Terriers played the last five minutes of the first half in a panicked man-to-man, and it worked. It closed the gap to four at the break, and though they abandoned it to start the second half, they responded to the fire that was being thrown their way. And given the rivalry, things got a little chippy ... five technicals chippy.

   With 13:48 to play, BU tied the game at 41 via foul shots, the first tie score of the game. It was again all square three minutes later, but from there, BU took over. Northeastern had four players with four fouls for much of the second half, and was sending BU to the line on every foul from 10:30 on. The game slowly slipped away from there ... the lead was no bigger than 2 or 3 for most of the half, but it was a lead that would have needed a major momentum shift to be overcome. A couple late threes and the drone of foul shots just killed the Huskies off.

   Most people stayed away from the semi, since it was generally assumed that BU would be waltzing to the title game, but the 3/4 crowd in Walter Brown was very loud and very into things. About midway through the second half, as a 7-0 BU run gave them their first lead of any significance, Northeastern called one of those "stop the momentum" timeouts. As it was called, both teams' fans were screaming and chanting, the players were jumping around, the bands were playing ... it twern't no Tobacco Road, but it felt like an actual exciting college basketball game. Here. At Boston University. Seriously.

   So it's on to Saturday, to face Vermont in front of the whole damn nation. Last year's title game ended right around my landing time from Tenerife, but rest assured should there be a court to be stormed in 2003, I'll be doing my part. And what the hell ... you ought to join me on the bandwagon too.

   Especially since 80% of you went here yourselves, so say the logs.


March 9, 2003 - Fat, Pasty and Seeded
   As of the end of my shift at midnight tonight, I am on paid vacation. But not from this, for this will one day be the power that kills me. All so you can tell me I can't proofread. Dare I say, it's a modicum of bullshit!

"The night that the massive blizzard hit must have been the ultimate boon to Blockbuster, because there was nothing else to do but watch movies. After scaling the sidewalk snow-mountains on my street, I made it to the store, but soon realized that I didn't have a Blockbuster card. My roommate, for all his giant shampoo bottle shortcomings, was always the one who got the videos. Now I don't know if any of you have applied for a Blockbuster card recently, but it's more difficult than getting into college. They want credit card numbers and addresses and blood types. It's a ridiculous and highly intrusive effort all for a piece of laminated cardboard that allows you to rent a five-dollar DVD. But after I passed the test and was leaving the store with Zoolander in hand, I had an epiphany. That's the way to catch the terrorists! Make everyone apply for a Blockbuster card!"
-- Aaron Karo's latest Rumination.

   Apparently some people can't swing the listing of name, address, credit card number and ... oh yeah, nothing else.


   • Basketball. Without the rules violations, but with the hockey banners.

Basketball at Walter Brown

BU 75 - 61 UNH
They were 5-22, for crap's sake.

America East Qtrs.
1
2
FIN
#1 TERRIERS (19-9)
34
41
75
#8 Wildcats (5-23)
24
37
61

Read the recap on the BU Athletics site.

   • When you're me, there's something sad about only visiting Walter Brown Arena in the 2002-03 academic year to go to a basketball game.

   BU is playing host to the Choice Hotels International America East Championship, and as BU is the likely favorite to earn the conference's automatic NCAA berth, I thought it was time I jumped on board and pretended it wasn't the first BU men's basketball game I've ever attended.

   This is hard to do when one attends a game with Mike, who in just being a basketball fan, makes one realize they truly know nothing about the game. Should I ever stumble into the realm of sports broadcasting, there's a radio booth somewhere where Mike is getting a job.

   My biggest impression from the game is that I won't be betting on BU to pull an upset in this year's tournament. They were clearly the better team today, and all season they've proved to be the class of the conference, but to struggle so mightily with a team so bad sends up scarlet flags everywhere.

   UNH was actually ahead until about halfway though the first half, when their starting center went down with what was a pretty gruesome seperated shoulder on a hard foul. From there, the Terriers just picked UNH apart for the remainder of the game. Hardly the most captivating basketball I've ever seen, but generally fundamentally sound.

   The game featured exactly zero dunks. This doesn't necessarily make it a bad game, but I suppose I shouldn't have expected much more from a 1 vs. 8 game than I got. There were hints of competitiveness, but it never really felt like an upset was imminent.

   Given it was played during Spring Break, and basketball isn't very big on campus yet, the atmosphere didn't dare rival that of even a bad hockey game. But I did gain a new respect for the Basketball Rhett.

Rhett Drums
-- Rhett is so sweet, I took a video!

   Plus for the entire game he wasn't J.J. Jumper, who Meg determined was gay. He then disproved this by pantsing Rhett.

   Bless low-conference college basketball.


March 8, 2003 - The Pillaging Of Friartown
   What I Learned Today: Whale City is home to the eighth-best half-marathon in the nation, and the course runs right past my kitchen window. So much so, a picture of my building will run in the paper tomorrow, with the street by the Walgreens packed full of peeps.

   It's a file photo, and this year NBHM is next Sunday ... when I'll be away on vacation. My "Boston Marathon" policy will have to apply.

   What I Learned A Couple Days Ago: In Avril Lavigne's video for 'I'm With You' -- the one where she's walking down the empty street looking angst-ridden -- the extras were psyched up for the party scenes by listening to songs by The Clash and the Sex Pistols.

   Even they know she's not really punk!


   • Continuing in the learning vein:

   1) I will never be comfortable shopping in a Wal-Mart because I will never be comfortable with the idea that there's a store where people can buy underwear, guns and ice cream at one time.

   I say this fully aware that I know two former corporation employees and that 45% of the cash ever to touch the hands of my favorite Hoosier somehow invovled a person wearing a blue smock. And yes, I did write this just to fit in an Andrea reference.

   There's just something about every Wal-Mart I've ever been in that disturbs me greatly ... it could have something to do with always wanting to buy 2-3 items, yet having to stand in a checkout line for no less than a half hour. It could be seeing the group of old men, on their daily visit, drinking coffee. Or it could be that I think I'm better than everyone else in the world ... take your pick.


   2) The concept of the Marty McSorley bobblehead from a few days back made a strong enough impression on me subconsciously that I bought one tonight without fully realizing what I was doing until the transaction was completed. I'm a little concerned that I reached into my wallet and pulled out my credit card while not fully realizing what I was doing, but so be it. It will provide me at least a few weeks of laughter when I put it in my cube.

   And at least when acting in a state where I was not fully realizing what I was doing, I was aware enough to realize the benefits of adding a Screech bobblehead for just $2 more.

   3) The Feeding Hills to Whale City round trip in a 13-hour span, on four hours of sleep, was nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be. Standing with my mother while she read the eulogy, however, was much worse.

   Now that all gag orders have been lifted, and everyone who needs to know does ... my grandmother died on Tuesday. I'm not revealing this because I want pity, or because I'm depressed about it, but because I'm worried that in a year's time, I'll have forgotten the significance of the veiled note I put in Tuesday's update.

   Honestly, I enjoyed the opportunity to see the half of the family I never do. And I now fully understand why I'm going bald.


March 7, 2003 - Another Brick In The Wal
   Big Ups! I would be remiss if I did not give "props" to the oft-maligned UMass Minutemen hockey team, who bitchslapped the Maine Black Bears and their ugly, ugly fans with a 5-2, 4-3 sweep of a pair in Orono. I can almost hear the cheers echoing throughout the Pioneer Valley, and I'll join them in applause until the bitches pull some kind of 3-2 upset of BU in the Hockey East semis.

   And as a pre-emptive excuse to my friends in Amherst, we're going to the NCAAs anyway. You need the automatic bid, skanks.

   Big Outs! After nearly a decade in blue, the Giants released Jason Sehorn today. As bad as he'd become in the last couple of seasons, and though he never recovered from a gruesome ACL tear on the first play of the 1998 preseason, he was a hell of a Giant and I'll miss him.

   His interception in the 2000 Divisional Playoff against Philadelphia, where he fell to the ground while tipping a pass, picked it off, then got up and ran it in for a touchdown, is the only play I've ever seen that rivaled my performance on Nickerson Field in "DFP Snow Bowl '02."

   And of course, Today's Quote Ripped Completely Out of Context:

"So has New Bedford's Karie Vincent, who pointed out that winter must now end 'because my gloves have popped,' as she pointed to the busted thumbs on her thick, brown gloves."
-- I wonder where I can get a good pair of pressurized gloves.

   • And now, what I hope to be the worst Saturday I have to have all year.


March 6, 2003 - Spatula City
   Greetings to Todd Lovell, who has seen fit to join this wacky Internet party we've all involved ourselves with. Along with being my partner in crime on the tables of the Connecticut Woods, he spells worse than I do. And I really need that kind of treatment.

   • Momma's gonna be so proud.

Would-Be 'Survivor' Continuing On In The Amazon
by Jon Couture, Standard-Times staff writer

   One week after the all-male Tambaqui tribe on "Survivor" had spent a portion of the show using a Magic 8 Ball to decide which girls liked them, the men won both of the night's challenges, securing Dartmouth-raised Matthew Von Ertfelda more time in the Amazon.

   The 33-year-old restaurant designer's strengths as a fisherman reaped dividends this week, as his tribe easily won the week's immunity challenge, a competition to see which group could catch more fish. Earlier they had won the night's reward challenge, earning a working refrigerator full of Coke products.

   Gaining confidence each week, Mr. Von Ertfelda caught the first large fish Tambaqui has netted. He said he felt he was recovering from earlier friendships with Daniel Lue and Ryan Aiken -- the two men who have been voted out of the tribe.

   "No one can match my contributions to the camp," Mr. Von Ertfelda said. "I've been fishing since I was a little kid."

   Fearing the leadership role she had taken, the all-female Jabaru tribe voted 31-year-old guidance counselor JoAnna Ward off the show. She split the vote with Californian Shawna Mitchell, who had considered leaving the show voluntarily due to depression and extreme fatigue.


   But hey, even better than that, read this story about John Walker Lindh being attacked in jail with the subtle assumption that he's being prison raped. It's more fun that putting 'in bed' at the end of your fortunes!

"The incident happened Monday night at the medium-security federal prison in Victorville as Lindh was preparing to pray, said his lawyer Tony West."
-- Bent over, on his knees, preparing to crouch ... oh yeah.

"John is fine," West said. "He's in very good spirits."
-- Oh, I bet he is!


March 5, 2003 - Hi Honey, They're Home
   In a crushing blow to my psyche, no one thinks I'm a Communist. Except maybe for this person:

Subject: "Taking a Stand is Something to Be Admired"
Date: Tue, 11 Feb 2003
From: <____@aol.com>
To: jcouture@s-t.com

   Hey Jon,

   I am appalled at how anyone could "admire" the tremendous disrespect of turning one's back on both one's flag and one's country. I understand that many people are opposed to the war, but there is a difference between opposing the war while still respecting one's country and outright and blatant disrespect. It pains me that you can call hers a "respectful" statement. There is no reason for "admiration" in such a disrespectful and ignorant act.

   If nothing else, this story was responsible for me getting more than 200 hits on the site yesterday. Most from the Boston Sports Media Watch:

"Speaking of Toni Smith talk, Jon Couture [linked to right here] is a little ticked off by my comments about his column yesterday. About halfway down the page he starts in. Warning: Adult language therein."
-- Not going to post them, but I've swapped e-mails with both Bruce and Eric Wilbur of the Boston Sports Blog. Both do great work, and seem to think I do too on occasion.

   And should you be here from the BSMW, welcome to Cooch's World, proof that no good can ever come of the Internet.


   • So Oliver Beene has been on TV before, hasn't it? Or is it possible the whole "wacky spin on the 1960s" is almost as formulaic a television staple as the "black guy gets old white people to call stuff 'wack'" at the movies.

   Is there any hope for 'Head of State'? Despite the fact I might vote for a Chris Rock-Bernie Mac presidential ticket, because Rock's "make bullets cost $5,000 each" gun control strategy is genius, few movies look as fiercely unfunny as that film does.

   Except for something like Cradle 2 The Grave, and really, comedy's not what they're going for.


   And now, the War on Iraq.


March 4, 2003 - Of Birth And Death
   As you will soon see, enough stuff happened today where I'm not in the jolliest mood. However, we must properly celebrate an anniversary -- on March 4, 2002, I gambled in a casino for the first time, winning on my first seven spins of the roulette wheel in Tenerife and making 105 Euro for the night. The rest, as they say, is lecherous debauchery.

   Much like the spawn of American Idol-esque performances on college campuses and Kiss radio stations across the country. But that's another story for another day.


   • Man, was it a great day for collegiate athletics or what? The first half-hour of SportsCenter? Dominated! The NCAA must be BEAMING!

   Jim Harrick and his son, currently coaches at Georgia, are accused of doing academic work for players, giving players illegal cash donations and gifts, and falsifying expense reports both at Georgia and Rhode Island, where Harrick used to coach.

   At Florida State, former quarterback Adrian McPherson, cut from the team after stealing a blank check and cashing it for $3,500, is shown to have gambled at least $8,000 on pro and college games last year. Included in that are the bets McPherson made on every FSU game, though all of those were for his team to win. Always a silver lining with these kids.

   Even lowly St. Bonaventure got some screen time ... for deciding that, after having six of their Atlantic 10 victories forfeited for using an ineligible player, they would just refuse to play their final two games. Given they were booted from the A-10 tournament, they saw no point.

   Shit! No such thing as bad publicity though, right? I certainly hope so, because I got enough of my own after daring dabble in a heavy topic with this week's column about Toni Smith and her refusal to face the flag during the national anthem of her Manhattanville College basketball games.

   On the Boston Sports Media Watch:

"Gerry Callahan allows his political views to make an appearance in his column. Usually such rantings are reserved strictly for the radio. Now we have to read Gerry's thoughts on politics in the sports section as well? For more politics in the sports pages, turn to Jon Couture. As far as actual sports, ..."

   I'll be honest ... there's not a whole lot of things that can get me irrationally angry and have me stay there after I've taken some time to think about them. I'll fly off the handle as quickly as anybody, as I did with this very Toni Smith story. But usually, when I give it some time and think about the other side, I'll calm down. One of the reasons I don't write a lot of these things in the heat of the moment ... keeps the "fuck" factor down.

   The more I think about the above though, the more irrationally pissed off I get. I read the BSMW, went out to see Old School, laughed, had friends over, sat back down ... and I'm more pissed now than I was before. 'Fuming' might not even be the right word.

   How dare I let politics tarnish the fucking sports page. Heaven forbid a sports issue have a broader reach than stats, scores, Xs and Os, that it branch out to stories than have actual real implications and ramifications beyond putting a ball through a metal ring.

   In one breath you have people, myself incuded, wanting to make sports some grand metaphor for life, the struggle of man, so much more than it is. Then in the next, the mere idea that there could be something more to it all, and that there's a real discussion to be had, is cast off with a "Where does this guy get off putting this on the sports page?"

   It's a simplist viewpoint, and the sad truth of it is that there are people out there to whom sports means so much that they feel this way. I understand the "If I wanted to read about the news, I'd read that part of the paper" mentality, and I respect it. But by the same token when a story overlaps, it can't just be discounted as letting one's politics spill where they don't belong.

   If people want to keep their head in the sand to keep their virgin ears from hearing anything other than "Vin Baker's a drunk" and "The Red Sox suck," that's their business. But don't blast me for putting forth an opinion, especially when people just can't stop themselves from blasting columnists who just won't put out their own opinions.

   I was also on the Boston.com Boston Sports Blog for Tuesday, but for the kind of attack I'd feared would come my way. Below is what Eric Wilbur wrote, along with part of a response I sent his way to clarify my point. Should he reply, I'll post that here as well.

BSB Comments:

   Greatest American Hero? If we're seriously talking about Toni Smith, then I'll still take William Katt, thank you very much.

   Gerry Callahan is absolutely dumbfounded over the fact that ESPN.com called Toni Smith, the Manhattanville basketball player who made headlines by turning her back on the American flag in a pre-game ceremony, an "American hero." Meanwhile, the Standard Times' Jon Couture writes that Smith's stand is something to be admired.

   The great thing about America of course is that Smith does have the freedom to express herself like she did last week, refusing to pledge allegiance to the symbol of our country. The other great thing about America is that we also have the freedom to rip her accordingly for doing so.

   If you watch "24" then you already know one of the show's villains, Marie Warner. Warner's character has turned her back on America; either doing what she truly believes is right, or just trying to get daddy's attention. Remind you of someone?

   No matter how she feels about going to war with Iraq, in turning her back on the flag, Smith in turn disregarded all it stands for, our freedom and the countless people (real heroes by the way) who died to give it to us. We could argue for hours about Smith's right to express herself, it's just that neither she nor the people making excuses for her are worth my time.

   Hero? It's not just laughable, it's downright scary that some people would think that.
   In no way would I classify Toni Smith as a "hero." Never in a million years -- it's a term that gets thrown around too much anyway, and that's in cases where the people being spoken are at least slightly worthy candidates. Her turning her back on the flag reaches much further than just the here and now ... by doing it, she turns her back on every person who has ever died to give her that right. As someone who grew up in an extremely patriotic family, and who has been taught since he was a boy that this nation and its flag are something to be cherished, her stance is about as far from my beliefs as one can get.

   My column was inspired by seeing news clips on NECN of people at a Manhattanville game, presumably to attack Toni for disrespecting the flag, dragging flags along the ground and doing things generally considered to be much stronger breaches of flag etiquette. It was the irony of these people dishonoring the very thing they were their to speak up for that inspired me to write what I did.

   Since 9/11 there's been a huge spike in patriotism, but much of it has been similar to the spike in the amount of Patriots fans since they won a Super Bowl. I'm seeing more and more people who choose to display their love for America less because they do, and more because it's now cool to be a patriot. They'll let a flag hang in their window or flap off their car until it's well past faded and tattered, fully unaware that doing it an offense to just what they're trying to honor. I'm happy there are more people willing to stand up and realize what a great country we live in today ... I just wish many of them would educate themselves better and not contradict what they're trying to do.

   Additionally, I'd like to hear what those of you who read my piece thought of it. I knew when I wrote it that it would probably spark some debate ... I'm just curious as to just what I lit a fire under.


March 3, 2003 - Love Connection 2003
   I'm very excited that the Giants have signed Brian Mitchell, perhaps the greatest kickoff returner in NFL history. Even better than video game legends Mel Gray and Vai Sikahema. After 13 years of despising him as a divisional rival, it'll be nice to cheer him as he wantonly slashes for touchdowns.

Taking A Stand Is Something To Be Admired
-- Perhaps my favorite thing about writing these is how they always turn out much different than I thought they would at the beginning.

   A few extra points that the word limit wouldn't allow:

   * I realize there are many angry with Toni Smith who have thought out their arguments, and are intelligently against her. I'm not knocking them ... I'd like to think I'm one of them. But I think the number who remain blindly patriotic since 9/11 is way too high.

   * Proper flag etiquette is not to let the flag touch the ground, not to use it as clothing and to burn it once it has begun to fade or tatter. I didn't really spell that out ... I fully expect to get an angry letter from someone painting me a Commie because I "supported" a dissenter and advocated flag burning.

   * I hate anyone who uses the "military has to hold bake sales" quote. It's irrational, but I do. A younger me would call it "very gay."


   • ESPN.com has released their Ultimate Scorecard, the best player to ever wear any number in any sport. I will resist the urge to dissect it thoroughly, since I can hear the bloodcurdling screams that would accompany that, so I've found an alternative.

   Behold, The Top 10 Lies Women Tell Men.

   Your mileage will undoubtably vary, since it has been documented that Meg and I have "the most fucked-up relationship in the universe." It basically revolves around love and her telling me to do things I want to do, but wouldn't have the motivation to otherwise. Very symbiotic.

   10. I wouldn't change a thing about you. She would never say this, ever. This illusion never really existed, and last weekend I was introduced to the J. Crew Spring Collection. I really don't understand what's alluring about a one-color polo shirt though ... I'm just not a one-color polo shirt guy. I'm more a Hartford Whalers jersey kind of guy.

   Contrary to maternal beliefs, I will not do anything because I'm told to. I meet only one of the Top 10 Signs You're Whipped, and it's for comedic purposes only. Least I like to tell myself that. And everyone knows I washed dishes compulsively well before Meg came along.

   9. I love hanging out with your friends. She's currently having affairs with two of them, so I think this is bunk. My friends have now become our friends, which is nice. Except for Andi, who she wants to stab to death. But that's neither here nor there.

   It's on a day like this I'm glad there's a comments system.

   8. I don't mind picking up after you. No comment needed.

   7. I love your family. Looking over the numbers list, which set of ten has it the worst? I'm torn between the 60's and the 70's, and I think I'm going with the first. To be saddled with #61, where the notables include Livan Hernandez, Nate Newton and Chan Ho Park, that's too much for Super Mario to overcome. And Jagr at #68 ... he's good, but by no means a Bourque-level legend.

   6. I love sports. Very funny. Sundays are one extended paper cut ... not terribly painful, but an agony that's certainly palpable.

   5. I won't get mad if you think I look fat. I can't fathom any human being, male or female, ever uttering that sentence. I can't fathom anyone ever believing it if it was uttered. It's the equivalent of seeing the guy with elephantitis and saying, "Oh. You can hardly notice!"

   4. You're right. The reason this is never said is because it never actually happens. Any evidence needed is provided in the archives of the previous 22 months below, or the comments in any of the past 147 posts.

   The only thing I've ever been right about are the last two Super Bowls, and considering I only placed bets on the two previous to those, that doesn't count.

   3. It doesn't bother me when you check out other women. See Number 5. I can't understand why statements that, were they made in public, would clearly be debunked are considered true in relationships. That's probably half the reason why so many people suck at dating ... they're too busy just trying to say what everyone wants to hear.

   There was one guy on Married by America last night, which I somehow watched part of without piercing my eyelids, who clearly was just trying to say whatever he thought would get him through to the marrying part. He clearly didn't like cats, but gave some wishy-washy answer when asked if he did. Why not just be honest? Maybe then you could find someone you'd be compatible with!

   And sadly, no one on the panels asked the personality question I was dying to know in all cases: "What debilitating personality flaw has made you ineffective on the dating scene, and created a scenario where blind, televised wedding engagement seemed like a good idea?"


   2. I don't care how much money you have. If she doesn't, I do. Though finally admitting to myself that I will never be able to trick the casinos into making me a millionaire has made things a lot harder in Cooch's World.

   Nevertheless, I've been reading Cheapo Vegas thoroughly for the past three days. Have I mentioned I'm going to Vegas in July? How about that no actual vacation could ever live up to the asanine expectations of enjoyment I have for this one? Or that when my plane lands I'm likely to break into a cold sweat?

   Tuesday is another Very Special Anniversary in Cooch's World. But more on that then.


   1. Don't worry honey, it happens to everyone. They then proceed to say that yes, it does happen to everyone. The perfect way to end a stupid list ... an admitted hypocritical remark.

   So, someone start discussing Vegas with me, bearing in mind I will take whatever you say as gospel truth.


March 2, 2003 - Slashed And Burned
   Today we entered the exciting third cycle of "right side of lip cracks, heals, then cracks again." The best part about it is on the one day I realize that the cut, which makes it painful to eat anything that's made of matter, has healed, I realize later that night it will crack again when I attempt to eat matter.

   And I can't even pin this crap on February anymore.


   • Insert Your Own Joke: There's a story floating round out there that Mississippi Senator Trent Lott, deposed as Majority Leader for making remarks seemingly in support of segregation, is enjoying his new position.

   He's chairman of the Intelligence Committee.

   And other than that, you know, let's honor Great White.

"Meanwhile, mourners wearing black ribbons with 'Rock on, Ty' printed in silver packed a remote church in Hubbard, Ohio, to remember Great White guitarist Ty Longley, who also died in the Feb. 20 fire."

"None of the four surviving band members attended the service, about 60 miles southeast of Cleveland. The band, which Longley joined four years ago, hopes to release a collection music Longley recorded with Great White and others in about a month, Wollnough said after the service. Proceeds from 'Regular Guy' would fund scholarships and benefit Longley's unborn child; his girlfriend is four months pregnant."

   Hey, I don't know ... maybe the other four members had legitimate conflicts that didn't allow them to attend to memorial service for someone they worked in close contact with for the past four years. Someone whom they toured the country with. I mean, people skip the funerals of their family members all the time, right? I bet they had to work or something.

   Because really, they can't have much seniority at the local Hot Dog On A Stick yet, since their musical career is pretty much on life support from the life support it was on.

   1) Having your manager attend the memorial service doesn't cut it. It's called sharing your grief and comforting the family. Next time, maybe they should just fax over a fucking sympathy card.

   2) It's a very nice gesture to release a CD and give the profits to Ty's family. Unfortunately there isn't a real big market for Great White's music in 2003, even before listening to it reminded people that 100 people died in an inferno at one of their concerts. Further evidence includes the fact that the band was playing a 300-person, wooden shack club in off-the-beaten-track Rhode Island.

   In all likelihood, it's going to turn out this was as much the band's fault as it was the club owners -- I don't consider it an accident that Jeffrey Derderian is trying his case in the court of public opinion and the press.

   Maybe Great White didn't ask to use pyrotechnics. But they surely didn't have anything to do with overstuffing the club for some extra bucks. Or not having proper fire prevention equipment, even if state law didn't allow it. It's like not having renter's insurance ... because hey, it doesn't matter most of the time, right?

   But not attending the service might be the most despicable thing thusfar.


March 1, 2003 - More Qs Than As
   Today's update will be dedicated to S-T Sports Editor Jon Comey, to whom I can thank for coming up with all the crap that now follows.

   • A couple weeks ago, I'd read about the latest PETA ad campaign, where they compared feeding a kid meat to child abuse. I was floored, since child abuse is a serious issue, and while eating meat could be construed as not the healthiest behavior ... it's not really akin to whacking your kid with a switch.

   In the same way that animal killing isn't the same as the Holocaust.

   Now, they do have a bit of a point. Chickens and cows are killed en masse, as the Jews were. Pigs are killed and made into products for others, which, as disgusting as it is to consider, is also what was done with Jews in Nazi Germany. The exhibit was funded by a Jewish philanthropist, plus supported by people who lost family and friends in the Holocaust.

   I suppose the fundamental difference in our beliefs is that I don't consider myself equal to a chicken.

   And in other mind-boggling ideas, which of these AP leads seems more stupifying?

   A) David Wells disputed a claim in his autobiography that he was "half drunk'' when he pitched his perfect game, maintained he gets along well with teammate Mike Mussina and hoped his book wouldn't be a distraction to the New York Yankees.

or

   B) In winning his high-profile tug-of-war with Japan's Chunichi Dragons for the rights to former Marlin Kevin Millar, Boston's wunderkind general manager, Theo Epstein, might finally have found the one piece missing from the Red Sox championship puzzle.


   Arguing with your own autobiography, or Millar being the answer? Debate away!


2003: [02] - [01]
2002: [12] - [11] - [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05] - [04] - [03] - [02] - [01]
2001: [12] - [11] - [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05]