March 31, 2005 - Seriously, Be My Boss
   What I Learned Today, Only Edition: In honor of the new craze that's apparently sweeping Boston ...

People with "real jobs" have very strange ways of keeping themselves entertained.

   I Needed A Day: Not that I can make myself watch any new TV show with any regularity -- NBC's 'Office' is next on the block -- but the idea that the next Surreal Life will feature Bronson "Perfect Strangers" Pinchot, Jose Canseco and superbitch Omarosa Maglksjdflkj-Agincourt after putting Mini Me in a house with a Brady and a model that has the hots for a Brady ... these people need Emmys.

   Not the actual stars, of course. If they were winning Emmys, they wouldn't be in the house in the first place.

   Mitch Hedberg: When drugs are probably what made you so funny, and then you overdose and die in New Jersey, it makes it no less tragic but oddly Catch 22-ish.

   What might be saddest is you were just soon going to find out how really funny he was. There was supposedly an HBO special in the works and a sitcom deal, not that a sitcom would have properly put how random the man was into proper perspective.

   I'd just seen him perform in November '04. Course I didn't buy his comedy album, because comedy albums only work until you memorize the entire thing from listening to it too much. This is call "The Foxworthy Rule," and should never be spoken of again.


   • As Sly pointed out yesterday, Hey, look at us!

   My boss Jon Comey, who is the one that gave me the sports column and basically an entire career with it, submitted his notice on Tuesday. He'll still write for us as a freelancer, but given he's quitting May 1, to say he no longer has any desire to be sports editor would be accurate.

   What will probably happen is everyone in the department will move up a spot. Steve, the current Assistant Sports Editor, guy I covered the Sox playoffs with and called an "asshole" on the streets of St. Louis, will become editor, with me among a couple of candidates to take his current place. Not to disparage those who will apply for the job, but let's just say I hope this candidate search is a complete travashamockery.

   Regardless of said comment, I like Steve and he'd be a tremendous choice. Not as tremendous as if Jon stuck around -- no secret there given my feelings about the man -- but still tremendous.

   And now, to make fun of the ad.

Sports Editor Needed

The Standard-Times, a 34,500 daily and 37,200 Sunday circulation newspaper in New Bedford, [Mass.] is seeking a dynamic editor to lead its sports department.

   Our circulation numbers seem to vary greatly, though I'd imagine that's the same everywhere. When we put in for 2003 playoff credentials, I'm pretty sure I was told to write down 43,000.

   Of course, it's a greater good situation. It's both great and good that the Red Sox don't make me watch games from the bathroom.

The sports editor manages several staffers, a legion of freelancers and specialty columnists. High School sports, the Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots and recreational sports are among the more important parts of our section.

   I wouldn't really call "like six" a "legion," and no, I'm not a "speciality columnist." That would be our tremendous boxing, bowling and outdoors coverage, plus the skiing column we buy from that guy in New Hamspshire. I'm not really sure what "recreational sports" means, and when we say the Red Sox and Patriots are among the "more important parts" of our section, you can draw from that just where the Celtics and Bruins rank.

   We do cover them, but lets just say the fine folks at the Associated Press see a lot more of them than we do. Even if we do have one of the best damn B's columnists in New England.

Qualified candidates must have at least five years of similar experience in daily journalism. The sports editor works closely with the photography staff and graphic artists to produce our award-winning section.

   All very true. If things hold to form, the sports will also write some of the most information-free photo assignment cards you could ever imagine in doctors handwriting, leading to lots of fun when the shutterbug comes back to me and says, "Yeah. I went there, and there was no game."

   Not that that's happened ... this week.

   This, by the way, is nowhere near as fun as the last time we were Internet famous. It is, however, an opportunity for someone to come in at what I consider a damn good paper and sand off our loose edges. With no hyperbole, we do a lot of things well, but we could do a lot of other things better if we had more money, more people and 13 more of me.

   OK, the last part was hyperbole, but just think ... you could be my new boss. You could control this scattershot force. Apply today!

   Because it will probably come up in someone's mind somewhere, I've considered applying. If nothing else, it's one of the few times I can look at the "five years" qualification and be pretty sure that alone wouldn't disqualify me.

   Ultimately, it will probably end up like the time I "considered" joining the aforementioned 401(k). I'll be doing it soon enough, but I have enough things to worry about that running an entire sports department at going-on 25 shouldn't be placed on the pile.


March 30, 2005 - Poor Use Of A Ticker
   Two Hours With Corporate Cable Access: Tonight, former Media Whore Facilitator Lou Tilley -- and if you read that correctly, it's not a slam at all -- had on former UMass coach Steve Lappas, who presumably he saw a lot of when Lappas was coaching Villanova significantly better than he coached the Minutemen.

   What ostensibly seemed like a visit to talk NCAA Tournament with a face who presumably knows something turned into the "Gee, you sure didn't deserve to be fired!" segment, which went over about as well as you should probably expect -- I'm as surprised as anyone I didn't flip over a cubicle out of seething rage.

   Tilley cited UMass's 16-12 record as being their best since 1998, that they were 5-0 in overtime games, had something like the seventh-toughest non-conference schedule in the country and had four starters coming back for 2005-'06. He was apoplectic, tired of "watching guys like you get hacked with winning records."

   Funny, Lou. Maybe expectations did get a little high, but maybe people who want a winner in Amherst got sick of seeing their team lose to Richmond, Northeastern, Fordham and LaSalle.

   Perhaps the next time you have your "good friend" on and show clips of that stunning Dec. 9 win over UConn, include in your graphic the part about going to Miami three days later and losing by 27 to an eventually sub-.500 team.

   Sorry. Sometimes, I get a little irrational.

   Trying This Again: In what would have fit well above had I not went crazy, I have again been invited to appear on Ed Berliner's CN8 Sports Pulse as their "Curmudgeon At Large." Come to think of it, the above was quite curmudgeonly.

   The date is Friday, April 22, with things likely kicking off somewhere after 10:30 during the 10 p.m. hour. Whether I participate in "Tropical Shirt Friday" is definitely not a question of access to tropical shirts, but how vehemently and effectively my mother argues that I should not wear one on television.

   If only I'd been asked to appear the Friday before, it could have been the second consecutive time Pittsburgh would have been in the way of more screen captures of me making that face I make on television.

   Late-Night Drugs Are Always The Best Drugs: In my years as a lazy fitness "idea guy," I've heard several reasons why people who appear fat are not actually to blame for it -- an internal structure that doesn't support their organs right, poor metabolism by science, whatever the hell that $153 diet pill did -- but "underactive thyroid" had never been in there until tonight.

   Until Thyrin ATC.

Is Reduced Thyroid Hormone Function Keeping You Fat?

Unbalanced dieting has been shown to disrupt thyroid hormone function to the detriment of successful weight control. But now there's Thyrin-ATC -- a comprehensive weight-control compound with the thyroid-specific nutritional support you need, developed to optimize thyroid balance in order to help you lose weight. Using Thyrin-ATC with any sensible weight-loss program helps protect against diet failure caused by reduced thyroid hormone function. Thyrin-ATC: see the difference, feel the difference. You won't be disappointed.

   And here my brother had to have a serious medical procedure done to stop his overactive thyroid, which could have caused minor annoyances like killing him. Clearly, late-night television should be offering up $40 bottles of pills to people so they can speed up their thyroids, which are probably fine outside of being engulfed by the detritus of Enormous Omelet Sandwich wrappers and Cadbury Creme Egg yolks.

   If only they knew the true secret to weight loss ... not eating those yolks. My intense armchair physiological studies have me pretty sure the health benefits are in the white of the egg ... or something.


   • In honor of fellow aging college bowler Craig Barker's appearance in the Jeopardy! Ultimate Tournament of Champions tonight, I had planned to watch the episode and post about it in a Barker-style "thoughts" manner. Two things, however, will prevent it.

   1) A mill fire in Providence meant our FOX friends at WPRI cut away for a good chunk of the episode, meaning I have no idea how the opening intro went, how he went from leading at the first commercial break to down at half's end, what he bantered with Alex about and what commercials preceeded the final question.

   Though really, the real reason is:

   2) He already did it himself.

   Somehow, I think the history teacher is going to get some level of guff for missing a U.S. history bent Daily Double, but the day I start even hinting at criticizing anyone who's in the "Hall of Presidents" of general knowledge is the day I go outside and kick my own ass. Considering I was getting agitated because you were getting outbuzzed from miles and months away, I can only imagine actually being the one with the thing ... point taken.

   You kicked ass, sir, which presumably is what you will also do should we end up crossing paths in Pittsburgh. Please be gentle ... I just had my wisdom teeth out.


March 29, 2005 - Now, We Have MLS Logos
   Beating The Locked-Out Horse: The following is from the AP preview for Major League Soccer, which is as healthy as ever as its 10th season begins this weekend.

MLS has been evolving its game toward the world standard since 2000, when the league ditched the dreaded penalty-kick shootout and the backward-running clock -- two failed gimmicks that were supposed to attract the typical American sports fan and instead alienated soccer purists. MLS has since stopped trying to convert Joe NASCAR and concentrated more on nurturing its loyal supporters. Attendance has been steady in recent years; the average was 15,559 last season.

   That's a league-wide average, too ... it's better in some places than others. Like the NHL wouldn't take a 15,559 average attendance around the league .

   Well, actually they wouldn't, since they're there already. They'd much rather paint the ice blue and put the players in spandex and whatever those sparkly things you stitch onto fabric are called.

   And as it was put tonight, "MLS has two teams in Los Angeles, while the NFL has none." Hey, they've got to get their football from somewhere.

   Is He Right?: Perhaps this is what I get for trying to find everyman baseball news in the Op-Ed pages of the New York Times, but is this man on to something, or simply on something?

And yet we are the playthings of fate and lead lives filled with strange twists, and I (for it is time to throw off the artfully constructed mask) now find myself contemplating the uncontemplatable: that I will switch my allegiance from the beloved Mets to the new team of my adopted town. I will become a fan of the Washington Nationals.

Already I feel the tug, the love that dare not speak its name. I own several Nationals caps. Some friends and I have bought season tickets. In the midst of this spiritual crisis I have begun to ask the fundamental question. What is the nature of the loyalty that binds us to our teams? Can a team be tossed aside even though it has given you (especially during the 1970's) some of the worst years of its life?

Certainly our loyalty to a team has little to do with the players who happen to be on it at any given moment. If the Yankees and the Red Sox swapped all their players, their fans would blink for a few seconds, but then go on cheering for their same old team just as passionately.

   I understand his point, and yet, I'm pretty sure a large swath of the population would think he needed to be punched "just because." Is this more, or less, absurd than the middle schoolers coming up with the Sox-Yankees mandatory handshake idea all on their own and with no help from their Yankee-fan teachers I swear why would I lie about something like this they did it all by themselves and we merely served as their creative vessels?

   The spirit of his point is correct, but if people call me on hyperbole -- like when I said hitting five Powerball numbers once a week for a year wouldn't be as cool as winning, and was savaged -- this needs to happen too.


   • So, I might be going to New York for the opener, if the Yankees let me. This will come during, and after, my writing of the paper's baseball preview, which truly began in earnest tonight when I wrote a 115-inch long set of capsules outlining everyone on the Sox opening day roster. My usual weekly column, for relevance sake, is about 20 inches.

   I was there until 3 a.m., and I've only got about six stories to go if I want to do it right.

   You know, and I am saying this with the proper sarcasm, the "idea" of being a baseball writer is a whole lot cooler than the execution.

   Not really. But "My jaw is a little sore because I ate a whole pizza tonight" just doesn't have the same cachet.


March 28, 2005 - Probably Wouldn't Hit It
   Just Like The Pros: We've reached the point of "general soreness," which could easily be alleviated with heat pads, if they weren't so awkward to hold to my face.

   I would out and out say I'm out of the woods, as the drugs are almost gone, but there's always the chance a stray piece of yogurt fruit could embed itself deep in a crevice and blow everything up. However, that's a chance I'm willing to take.

Ford A Fitting Savior For UMass
-- More for one of two files: Either the "Things I Think Are Interesting Stories" or "Things I'm Saying You Should Care About," depending on your perspective. Odds of my receiving good-natured guff about this column from a higher-up opened 3-to-2 at the Stardust.

   Death Of A Similarity: With the world having already lost the Canadian Football League joy of the Saskatchewan Roughriders occasionally playing the Ottawa Rough Riders, our neighbors to the north made it official today.

Saint John meets St. John's
-- The Saint John Flames and St. John's Maple Leafs shall never be again.

The Flames have been sharing the Lock Monsters in Lowell, Mass., with the Carolina Hurricanes since the demise of the Saint John Flames. After a decade as one of Canada's most successful AHL franchises, Saint John shut down in April, 2003.

The addition of Omaha [Neb.] brings the AHL to 30 teams as it prepares to commemorate its 70th anniversary in 2005-06. Also joining the league next season are the Iowa Stars (Dallas Stars), Peoria Rivermen (new of the St. Louis Blues) and Toronto Marlies (Toronto Maple Leafs' affiliate transferring from St. John's, Nfld.).

   It was a running joke for a young AHL fan like myself ... finally figuring out the difference between the two was one of those joys that really shouldn't have even been noticed, given I didn't go to a Springfield Indians game until I was almost out of elementary school.

   But they weren't the same team, and they weren't in the same place. And I knew that. And that was cool.

   Of course, so was my outfit of all neon green clothing, Simpsons T-shirts and Body Glove apparel. Yeah, like a lot of Agawam children were going body surfing on the weekends.


   • Admittedly, I'm just ripping this link for the Burger King Enormous Omelet Sandwich off of Fark. However, I just feel like the company needs to be properly praised for it ... if only because they're fighting the accepted round sanwich mold by cracking out the McRib buns McDonalds put back on the market when they decided they were sick of making money.

The No. 2 fast food chain debuted its Enormous Omelet Sandwich Monday. The sandwich has one sausage patty, two eggs, two American cheese slices and three strips of bacon. That works out to 730 calories and 47 grams of fat.

"Americans do not need an Enormous Omelet Sandwich," said Penny Kris-Etherton, a professor of nutrition at Penn State, who noted the sandwich's contents were high in fat and salt and the meal lacked fruit and fiber. "That's too many calories."

   Of course Americans don't need an Enormous Omelet Sandwich. What Americans need, increasingly, is for people like you and me to just walk around pistol whipping stupid people. It could be regular jaw punching if you're anti-guns, but I just think the use of an object will increase the attention-grabbing effect.

   What Americans want, however, is the mysterious "Good Morning Burger," whose top Google listing is not to be confused with King Whine-About-His-Job, and is not to be confused with Queen Whine-About-Her-Job.

   Remember, I love you all equally.

   There's a poll on the CNN page talking about the Enormous Omelet Sandwich, which I maintain would be better if it were simply eighteen ounces of sizzling ground beef, soaked in rich, creamery butter and topped with bacon, ham, and a fried egg. I can not stress that enough.

   However, back to the poll.

Omelet Poll!
-- As imaged at some point.

   Now, what can we draw from these results? Where the majority answer could either mean: "Are you kidding? I'm disgusted by the thought of it!" or "Are you kidding? I'm getting in my car right now!"

   One of two things:

   1) The Internet poll is the greatest bastion of "lies, damned lies and statistics."

   or

   2) "I love the Tendercrisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch. The breasts they grow on ..."

   I'm singing it, and now so are you.


March 27, 2005 - The Hitchhiker
   Craterface Update: Though there were a few painful moments upon trying to eat a piece of Easter candy, I was able to complete two actual meals today without either causing blood to sauce the ham or stow cheesy potatoes deep in my mandible for wireless summer eating.

   It also occurred to me I could probably still run and not eat fat-filled, cream-based soups while recovering from wisdom tooth extraction, but that it would really ruin the spirit of not running to run. That is all.

   The Frozen Four: After receiving another note reminding me of the Bemidji incident -- Craig, thanks for the Lloyd Bentsen reference -- four WCHA teams advanced to Columbus, Ohio, leaving me completely unable to say anything intelligent about what will go on starting April 7.

   If only they'd paint the ice blue and make hockey uniforms more streamlined, I could enjoy things like everyone else!


   • The Final Four in college basketball is Illinois, Louisville, North Carolina and Michigan State. The Frozen Four in college hockey is North Dakota, Denver, Colorado College and Minnesota.

   I'd probably have half the basketball version, and have taken Duke and Wake Forest. In hockey, I would have had North Dakota losing to the alma mater, Cornell beating the Gophers, Harvard advancing purely because I'd have wanted them to, and Col Coll. because I know little to nothing about any of those teams.

   Why am I telling you all this? Because we live in a world where people are buying the PSP, a portable gaming, movie and video system based on a new media format I hadn't heard of until reading that story.

   And oh yes, they're paying $400. On Amazon, which I didn't think sold anything other than Segways and washing machines for anything more than $400.

The previous midnight, Nate Sanders, standing across the street from the Metreon, remained unseduced. Mr. Sanders, 53, one of several homeless San Franciscans hanging out in the neighborhood, said that people waiting in line to buy a video game "have their priorities distorted."

"It'd be something to be first at voter registration, or to push civil rights," Mr. Sanders said as a light rain began to fall, noting that he was trying to raise $30 to stay at a hotel. "They have a head-in-the-sand syndrome."

...

"I've done it for sneakers, the PlayStation 2, films, and now I'm in line for a device that will change the portable market," said Mike Jeffries, 23, who works in product testing at Genentech, a biotechnology company. Mr. Jeffries said that being in the first-to-buy club provided a chance to bond with other enthusiasts while showing a true commitment to a new product.

To buy without late-night sacrifice, he said, "is like getting the girl without the chase."

Before stepping into the limousine [given to him for waiting 40 hours and buying the first], Mr. Roth hefted his new PSP box and contemplated the future. When the PlayStation 3 hits the market sometime next year, he said he planned to get in line even earlier.

"I'm going to beat my record," he said.

   I dare say I'm with the homeless guy.

   And that the reporter better have given him the $30.


March 26, 2005 - Dance Over
   North Dakota 6, Boston College 3: Bless you, Jordan Parise. Bless you, Fighting Sioux. You've saved us all for another year. It makes me happy to know that my brother, who had scored a ticket to Friday's debacle at DCU, did not walk out after the second period in vain.

   As for the action in Amherst, both outcomes would have left me disappointed, especially after Bemidji State made a game of it. Color it $30 saved.

   Though considering I then went out, bought some drinks and played some pool, we'll just say "wash."

Bonds's Absence A Giant Problem In San Francisco
-- This week's Inside Baseball is 100% indignance free, and includes 300% more useless statistical knowledge. Useless, but entertaining!

   Craterface Update: My surgeon called me today just to check in, which he obviously does for all his patients but still struck me as a very nice thing to do.

   Apparently, it's normal to still be tasting blood, and despite the notes taken and listed here, I only think I remember about three quarters of what happened.

   And no, I don't want to know the stuff I don't remember. Consider it a rule to live by: When you wake up somewhere with blood on your sleeve, never ask how it got there.


   • Now that was a basketball game.

Illinois-Arizona
-- Illinois 90, Arizona 89 (OT)

Illinois Deron Williams puts up a three-pointer with 2:15 left in overtime past Arizona's Ivan Radenovic (55) and Hassan Adams in the Illini's 90-89 win in the Chicago Regional championship game of the NCAA tournament Saturday at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

   A 20-5 with four minutes to go, where the improbably offensive strategy of "Well, let's just shoot threes until we die" actually worked. Every game I've seen at least a part of so far in this tourney has been an absolute thriller.

   And after today, I don't think I need to watch another second. The national championship just got decided.


March 25, 2005 - Drilling? ... Hell If I Know
   The End Is Here: North Dakota 4, Boston University 0: They wore the fukcing retro jerseys, and got just what they deserved. I don't care if they look better on the ice, or that I might buy one.

   In hindsight, thank goodness I wasn't there. I'd have been tempted to walk out of the building just as soon as they hit the rink pregame.

   That's a decade and counting. Meanwhile, the Eagles are just three wins away after slapping around Mercyhurst.

   Why, Jack, why.


   • As best as can be recollected/coveyed:

   8 a.m.: Given my six-hour no-eat window starts at 8:30, I eat a bowl of oatmeal with cinnamon and dried cherries. This is the first breakfast I've eaten in days, and though the times I've gone 12 hours or more with no food are far too numerous to count, a mandatory no-food policy just changes everything.

   1:15 p.m.: I finish this week's Inside Baseball, as started on Wednesday night. Just good to get it out of the way.

   It did not take me from 8:30-1:15 to finish it. There was just a lot of sitting around, not showering, dish washing, vacuuming, cleaning and doorknob repair being done to give me time where I didn't have to write.

   1:30 p.m.: Take my second 10 mg doze of Valium, and at some point during the shower, it strikes me that I didn't feel drunk last night because of the alcohol. I can now see how this drug works as an anti-anxiety drug ... you become so screwed up physically, and need to focus so much on walking and not falling down, you can't possibly be worried about anything else.

   I debate going on the treadmill to see if I could, but would be discouraged if I mentioned it, so it's forgotten.

   2:10 p.m.: Departure for the 2:30 appointment. The benefits of having a dentist, oral surgeon and work within a mile of the apartment.

   2:12 p.m.: I realize I've completely forgotten my CD player, which was recommended by the surgeon. In going back to the apartment, and failing to find said CD player where I thought it was, I'm there when the phone rings -- the office is behind, and says I can wait to come in until about 3.

   Thus, we head to the grocery store and I buy applesauce and soda. However, the best part of the trip is when we get in a conversation with a woman in line buying ice cream and cake for an Easter party. As we begin to discuss kids, riding shopping carts and sibling rivalry, she asked what I thought was a logical question given how well Julie and I know our respective families:

"So, are you two brother and sister?"

   Course, given my face was beet red because of the Valium, it couldn't have come off real well.

   3:05 p.m.: We get to the office and check in. I pick up an Sports Illustrated and see two things that are very interesting:

   -- One of those giant opening page photos from the George Washington-Ole Miss women's tournament game played in Chapel Hill. It was an excellent behind the back pass on an inbound, but the striking part was the attendance -- if there was 300 people in the crowd, I'd be shocked.

   -- See the joke at the bottom of this column about blondes? Take out the Red Sox player names and change the punchline slightly, and I know where Buddy is drawing his material from.

   3:35 p.m.: I'm called in, go over a basic health check, and get hooked up to whatever exactly they call the box that beeps with your heartbeat and monitors pulse and blood pressure through wrist clips, a thumb clip and the armband. This fascinated me, though I was a bit concerned the frist blood pressure reading was 150/80 ... higher than normal. I was pretty good at getting my pulse to vacillate between about 65 and 85.

   3:45 p.m.: Doctor comes in, apologizes for being late, and hooks me up to the nitrous oxide. After what felt like about five minutes, I start to feel my legs get a little light, then my tongue. Somewhere in there, the IV gets put in. Thankfully, I never saw it. It may not have been a problem, given the insertion didn't bother me, but it's probably just better for all involved.

   From here, obviously, things get a little hazy. Therefore, we turn to our noble nurse Julie, who I was sure to give a pad to before we went in.

   The things I do for you people.


   4:45 p.m.: I get called in to be with Jon. The conversation isn't exactly as it's written, but you get the idea:

"How are you?" says Jon.
"I'm fine," I say.
"How long have you been here?"
"Uh, I just got here, to this seat."
"I mean here."
"It's been an hour and ten minutes."
"Oh?"

   And so starts a whole lot of rambling about he couldn't believe how that hour magically turned into five minutes in his head. I think he actually said he was "stupified" to the doctor. He also said he could "feel" the doctor going for the lower right tooth, but I later learned Jon did undergo general anethesia because he was talking too much with the concious sedation, that's our boy!

   Jon mentioned the dream he had; I was there, there was a rainbow colored tunnel, and a tombstone but at the same time he was looking out the window at a fence and told me "the gate is moving." Basically from there it turned into more talk about the time.
"I wanna see how I look."
"I can tell my mouth is full of gauze."
"I'd get a drink of water but I'd throw up."
"Holy hell."

   And he said "Jesus Christ" a lot. I think as he started talking a lot more he might have gotten a little worked up which made him nauseaus. A cold compress and O2 through the mask helped that out though. Jon gets up slowly and he makes his follow up appointment for next Friday at 3:30.


   [ Editor's Note: I remember about 50 percent of this -- the rainbow, the thing about the tooth, the almost throwing up and having what I thought were gauze disks in my mouth. Plus I got the hiccups, which is apparently normal. I also remember signing a credit care receipt for my upper tooth removal, given it wasn't covered. Everyone was impressed with how good my penmanship was.

   And no, I'm not kidding. ]

   5:15 p.m.: We leave the office and head to the CVS in Fairhaven to get Jon's Percosets and Amoxicillin.

   5:35 p.m.: I leave him completely reclined and mostly asleep in the car while I wait for the prescriptions to be filled. I called his parents and Steph -- our friendly group dentist -- she was concerned so I called her back too.

   5:45 p.m.: I get back into the car. Jon wakes up, looks at me, and honest-to-god asks "Where am I?" (or we, I don't remember). He sits up a little, I tell him we're in the CVS parking lot, he shifts a bit, asks again, and then lays back down and we leave.


   [ Editor's Note: I thought we were home already, that's all. ]

   6:00 p.m.: Back to the apartment. I get Jon in first, then went back for all the drugs/food.

   6:05 p.m.; I get into the apartment to find Jon on his bed. He got as far as taking his steroids out of the packaging but did not actually take it.

   6:15 p.m.: I got all the drugs together, new gauze, glass of water and he takes everything. He's a pretty decent patient. He's just still so numb that he couldn't tell if he actually swollowed the pills or not. He lies back down, asks for the blanket but twice refused to have me help him take his shoes off.

   7:15 p.m.: I check in on him, he hasn't really moved. His sneakers are still on. I think Jon's quest to be the most functional post-operative patient and assemble his wireless network is going to fall short.


   [ Editor's Note: The stuff ordered off of eBay -- TiVo adapter and 108 Mbps router for $67.75, beating the combined $81.63 that was the cheapest I found it anywhere -- came right before we left. I genuinely thought I'd be putting it together that night, but like the writing under drugs, I just really couldn't be bothered. ]

   8:15 p.m.: Jen and Steph have both called checking up on Jon. Steph has left her dentist's laundry list of do's and don'ts. We have great friends. :^) Checked in on Jon again, still numb and hasn't moved much. Still hasn't taken the shoes off.

   8:45 p.m.: Jon's mom calls to check up on him. He's still asleep though.

   9:15 p.m.: I have Jon spit out his gauze. He says his front lip feels 14 times too big. He decides to continue sleeping.

   10:15 p.m.: More drugs. He finally gets mostly concious.


   At this point, I actually got up and actually felt pretty good. Upon reading the care directions I got from the office, I eat something -- yogurt smoothie, followed soon after by that first sweet, sweet swig of applesauce. And yes, I did drink it from the jar. This game kept my attention well, a night after the second half of West Virginia-Texas Tech did the same thing.

   Things went downhill rather fast, though. Upon realizing I was oozing blood -- apparently also common -- I attempt to put more gauze in my mouth. It didn't do much, as the bottom left socket is the culprit. I alternately feel like puking, passing out, and freezing. After watching about 10 minutes of David Letterman, I went to bed shaking like crazy, convinced I was going to pass out from blood loss.

   Did I make it through the night? Well, let's break the kayfabe ... I am writing this, aren't I?


March 24, 2005 - There May Be Some Drilling ...
   This Update Is Written Under The Influence Of The Following Drugs: 24 mg of Methylprednisolone, taken in six awful-tasting pills throughout the day; 10 mg of Valium, taken in one pill right before I sat down; and roughly 32 oz. of Samuel Adams, taken at dinner because it's always a good decision.

   The first is part of the steroid pack to prevent me from swelling up like Jerry Lewis did. The second is to keep me from crying in the hours leading up to my rite-of-passage gumline mauling. The third is less specific and probably wasn't the greatest idea given I'm on medication I've never taken before, but we're going to attach it to if Thursday night is my last night on Earth, at least I went out drinking good beer.

   Screw Bud Light, and thus tangentially the people who drink it ... I want that on record. At least Corona people have an excuse ... they don't really like alcohol, but they're in a bar and want to look like they fit in.

   It's Back: I had not started playing San Andreas for a reason even though I received it at Christmas, and what is hapenning now is precisely the reason.

  You really wouldn't think you could inadvertantly end up doing something for five hours when there's work to do, but my friend, you would be wrong.

   The dishes got washed eventually, and I still got to rob several houses, steal the drugs and jump out of a plane over the desert. Though the last was just to see if it was possible, and it did kill me. Such is life.


   • The plan, for right now anyway, is that Friday's update will be posted as soon as I return from the oral surgeon, with the goal being for me to write as entirely drugged up and in pain as possible. Why?

   It may prove to be hilarious.

   In hindsight, tonight's "soft foods" trip to the grocery store could have been a lot more fun if we had not bought just smoothies, yogurt and more produce for the juice machine, and just loaded up on baby food. Two younger people, buying stacks of generic light yogurt and 35 jars of Gerber applesauce.

   Just now, I realized I forgot applesauce. I could drink it straight from the jar! It could be my applesauce! I live alone!

   OK. There will be a second trip to the store for soft foods. This much is assured.

   And if end up in a likely irreversible coma, for God sakes take the feeding tube out and pull the plug. However, if I find out anyone did it prematurely just to be funny, I will haunt you so bad ...

   Will the state's highest court have some fun with my case. So, does a ranting that only a handful of people read constitute a legal document? Is it murder if someone just "trips over the wire"? Stay tuned!


March 23, 2005 - Kids, Sometimes People Lose
   Turning A Phrase: In the history of American prose, I'm pretty sure the words "brain suck" can't be used enough.

What ''Chasing Farrah" reveals is that her daily life is a tedious mixture of primping and making everyone around her, including ex-lover Ryan O'Neal, wait. There's nothing even slightly fascinating or gothic about it. She's a bit of a diva, but not diva enough to be riveting. At times, the show tries to present her as a reticent celebrity who suffers photographers from the back of her limo -- the press is ''Chasing Farrah." ''It would be easier" not to be famous, she says. But that harried-star-seeking-refuge image seems more like wish fulfillment. Everything else about the show and her behavior is screaming ''WATCH ME!"

   Now that is a slanderous mambo.


   • If this information had been sent to out paper, not only would it have ended up on my desk, I'm pretty sure I would be just publicly savaging these children on Sunday.

''The Merriam School Handshake Project" was launched last fall, after the Red Sox rallied from three games behind to beat the Yankees in the American League Championship Series. Tensions between the school's opposing Sox and Yankees fans boiled over in the schoolyard and in the classroom.

''Kids were intimidated; they were afraid to wear their Yankees hats," said Ed Kaufman, a fifth-grade teacher and Yankees fan who helped to organize the campaign. ''Things were just crossing the line from respectful and fun."

   I'm assuming the words "helped to organize" actually mean "proposed and led the Yankee fan children to initiate as though we all came up with it."

   Never mind that the mentioned Cardinals-Dodgers handshake was great because it was purely spontaneous and organic, not "helped to organize"d by anyone.

After reading the letter, Francona called the school and talked with Mary Ann Brandt, a sixth-grade teacher who helped launch the project. When Francona said he could not authorize the handshake without player support, Brandt pleaded with him.

''I said: 'Terry, we're educators. We don't make anybody do anything. We educate. We persuade. We encourage,' " Brandt said. ''Then I told them we sent the same thing to the Yankees, and he said, 'Oh they'll never do it.' . . . Finally he said, 'Well, let me talk to Jason [Varitek].'

''She got a little adamant," Francona said.

   You probably don't want to know how close reading this story brought me to rage, and honestly, I probably don't want you to know either. Let's just say the point where everyone's all excited because the Yankees think it's a great idea, there may have needed to be a walk to the kitchen.

   Fortunately, the knowledge that there's a statement in the baseball rulebook that goes against this -- Rule 3.09's "Players of opposing teams shall not fraternize at any time while in uniform." -- even if it does sound like Chief Wiggum laying claim to his "two comely lasses of virtue true."

   However, I don't think we have much to worry about. The big C already has his hands too full.

Rivalry Fight, Again!
-- It's like kneading cookie dough.

   I can just see the children in the classroom, who don't really want to participate, but are "encouraged to play along" in a way neither encouragin or playful. If Killington can apply for transfer to New Hampshire, I'm pretty sure someone should alert Acton that New York would love to have them.

   We'll take Long Island in trade, so we can shave off a couple pieces, attach them on both sides of Bourne, and build a few more traffic-easing rotaries. The rest can be sold for scrap and boat piers.


March 22, 2005 - It Barely Registers
   Sign Police: I'm curious whether the Michael Jackson trial is starting to struggle a little bit, as most of America's posterboard toters seem to have relocated to Florida.

Wake up, America!
-- I'm not even sure what it means.

Demonstrators, from left, Marbeth Bingman of Seminole, Fla., Joy Temple of St. Petersburg, Fla., and Melody Ludwig of Ruskin, Fla., protest outside the Pinellas County Criminal Justice Center on Tuesday morning in Clearwater, Fla. The group read a letter asking the Florida House of Representatives to impeach Pinellas Circuit Court Judge George Greer. Greer has presided over the Terri Schiavo case and three times ordered Schiavo's feeding tube removed. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius)

   So what you're telling me is, if I'm in a borderline coma or worse for 15 years, and at best can only be "responsive to stimuli," you'll just let me die.

   Sign me up. But only after 15 years ... I just like even numbers, and 14 feels too short.

   The Meeting: We were the last meeting of the day, so we got the worst of his running behind -- somewhere in the vicinity of 45 minutes late, I guess. Introduced himself, went around the room introducing everyone, then said all the "right things" -- I'm not here to start lopping people's heads off, you do a real good job, I'm going to be asking a lot of questions, I don't like the Bruins.

   Ok. Not all the right things. He did, however, give no one any reason to dislike him, and even seems like a nice guy. That's a good start.

   Predicted Letter:

Subject: NCAA Hockey
Date: Tue, 22 Mar 2005
From: "Robert ____" <___@verizon.net>
To: jcouture at s-t dot com

   Great article on the Hockey Tourney!

   Have had the pleasure of attending the the last five "Frozen Four" events and several Regional games.

   One minor correction in your article....Bemidji State is not in Michigan....it is in Minnesota. -- http://www.bemidjistate.edu/facts.asp

   Thanks for the Hockey article,
   Bob __
   Westport, MA

   Both, however, do still start with 'M.' And I'm sure Minnesooootans and Michiganders are real good sports and great friends.


   • A true classic.

"I'm tired of my kids crying. You wanted me to jump off a bridge, I finally did. You finally brought me and my family down. ... So now go pick a different person."
-- Barry Bonds, owner of a really bum knee.

   If Bonds starts making media members he assumed hated him anyway actually start hating him, does that make him right?

   And are the first three picks I made in my return to fantasy baseball easrlier this spring -- Bonds, Mark Prior and Kerry Wood -- shaping up to be one of the worst troikas ever to sideline a team that doesn't really exist?

   The name's so cool, though ... the Mass. Mooninites. I hope they can see this, because I'm doing it as hard as I can.

   I will keep my chin up, however ... not only do I still have Yhency Brazoban, "sadness is for poor people!"


March 21, 2005 - Bovines and Ted Sarandis
   A Deep, Cleansing Breath: I haven't felt this pleased after sending in the weekly column in a while. Actually having something to write about is a big help.

Prepare To Be Bowled Over By Hockey
-- It was just fun to write ... felt like the columns I sent in that won me third in NEAPNEA what feels like seven years ago. Got in some shots, cracked some jokes and made a case for NCAA hockey that no one will probably care about. Too bad a reader's letter will probably take me down a peg sometime Tuesday.

   It's always nice to get a letter from your editor saying, "This is too long and I was going to cut it, but I don't want to because it's so good." Plus, who else do you know that can work cows at the zoo into a sports column?


   • In what could prove either very interesting or utterly underwhelming, the entire sports department has a meeting with our incoming editor-in-chief on Tuesday afternoon. It has struck me as a good excuse not to wear a Vancouver Canucks jersey to work for the evening.

   It feels much more like a Hartford Whalers occasion.

   Allow me to publicly say, regardless of what may have been construed here or said elsewhere, I am making every effort to go into this with a clear head and an open heart. I really, really, really want to like the new guy.

   Pardon me, however, if my stomach is getting a little queasy at the prospect of a department-wide meeting. I'm just glad I fired off one of my better bullets of recent weeks in preparation of his arrival.


   In other news, is "scattershod" really not a word? I know "scattershot" is, but I'm shocked the former isn't. I'm putting this right up their with pal Jon Darling's assertion that "erupts" should actually be spelled "errupts," because it denotes more of the violent upheval erupting things are known for.


March 20, 2005 - Invisible Brackets
   Quote of The Day:

"You know your program has come a long way
when you're crushed you lost to Michigan St."
-- Vermont coach Tom Brennan. Spartans 72, Catamounts 61.
Enjoy the freefall, Burlington. Amherst's "Refuse To Lose" nation says hi.

   Tournament Reset: I watched a good piece of the Duke-Mississippi State game's second half this evening, the first major piece of a tournament game I've seen this year. I probably shouldn't be saying this as a sportswriter, but I haven't really missed the NCAAs. Looking at this, apparently I didn't miss much.

   And apparently, Bill Simmons is among the dumbest people alive.

Good news: I'm losing more bets. Creighton and LSU are down by a combined 17 points. Also, Kobe hasn't scored in about an hour. Instead of gambling on March Madness every year, I should just make a $1,000 donation to charity. At least do something nice with my money over making money for some Caribbean internet gambling warlord.
-- Dude. I so got over that in college.

   So, to look at what I missed.

   -- Exactly two double-digit seeds are left after the weekend -- No. 12 Wisconsin-Milwaukee, who knocked out Boston College in the second round, and No. 10 NC State, who knocked out UConn in the second round.

   If I didn't generally love the underdog anyway, I don't think I could love these teams any more than I do right now.

   -- Bobby Knight made the Sweet Sixteen, as No. 6 Texas Tech beat UCLA and upset Gonzaga. With West Virginia having upset Wake Forest, and the weakest No. 1 (Washington) lined up to be waiting in the Elite Eight, we could plausibly have Bobby Knight back in the Final Four on Saturday afternoon.

   This excites me far more than it ever should someone who isn't from Indiana. Though I have been to that state far more than any person not from Indiana should have, and I'll probably be going again sometime in the near future. Clearly, I'm disqualified from discussing this rationally.

   Hello also to Andrea and Philpy. If neither comments on this Hoosier State mention, I'm pretty sure that's a bigger upset than Bucknell beating Kansas.

   -- All four No. 1 seeds are still alive, leaving open the chance they all make it to St. Louis and that this is the easiest Final Four to pick ever. The only reason this is possibly, obviously, is because I didn't pick a bracket. Not that I'm losing a lot of sleep over the chance I'd lose the $5-based windfall the office pool would have been.

   I already declared bankruptcy after losing the $5-based windfall in the Oscar pool. Stupid "Aviator" winning extra incidental awards.

   -- New England is entirely without representation, thus validating my not caring. Whereas most tournaments I watch less after the first four days, though, it'd be almost impossible for me not to watch more from here on out.

   I just miss my "Picks Reset" is all.


   • Obviously, I am not talking about the more awesome March Madness for two reasons.

   1) BU drew a No. 3 seed in the East Regional, meaning they have to upset North Dakota before they have to upset Boston College to make their first Frozen Four in the "Cooch Cares" era. To say I am not optimistic would be a bit of an understatement, not that it will bother me any less when someone beats them 3-1 with an empty-netter thrown in for good measure.

1999: Did not qualify for NCAAs.
2000: Lost in East Regional Final (Albany, N.Y.) to St. Lawrence, 2-3 (4 OT).
-- At 123:53, second-longest game in NCAA history and better than "The Aviator." --
2001: Did not qualify for NCAAs, plus BC won the f'ing National Championship.
2002: Lost in East Regional Final (Worcester) to Maine, 3-4.
2003: Lost East Regional Final (Worcester) to New Hampshire, 0-3.
2004: Did not qualify for NCAAs.
2005: Seeded No. 3 in East Regional (Worcester).

   I should be allowed into the BU Friends of Hockey free of charge just for becoming a huge fan during the program's worst stretch in 20 years, right?

   2) The previously forgotten offshoot of my "working Friday and Saturday, in that I didn't work Friday or Saturday," I had to move my wisdom tooth removal from the Friday just past to the Friday upcoming. Given the East Regional is in Worcester again and the Northeast Regional is at UMass -- defending champs Denver, plus UNH, Harvard and legendary name Bemidji State -- I would have been a week recovered and had my choice of fine college hockey action well within reach.

   Now, I'm be taking my life and a mouthful of gauze in my hands ... or jaw, as the case may be. Though it does increase the chance I'd be shown on one of the many ESPNs as "an extreme fan," I'll likely pass.

   Remember, though ... I'm not talking about it.

   I'd much rather make a rare, but brief, foray into real news. Always good for a couple swear-laced mutterings under one's breath, right?

Schiavo Truck

   Terry Schiavo. Here's their story. Here's the news. Odds are you know these things ... if I know them, they've pretty much saturated the marketplace.

   What I didn't know is that the Bible, the Ten Commandments, and all of it had made such a clear statement on feeding tubes. I understand she can breathe on her own, but do nothing else ... wouldn't that mean the natural thing to do would be to let her die? Isn't the unnatural thing to shove some plastic PVC down her throat and fill her full of nutrients just so she can continue to breathe in a vegetative state? Isn't that the insanity, the fact that people all across the country feel the need to make themselves part of the business of some family they've never met?

   Well, it is Florida. I don't think anyone from there comments here, so I can take shots. Plus, I hated the state when I visited ... too muggy, too many cheap T-shirt stands. Even if it was the last place I had a Friday's Pizzadilla before the bastards took them off the menu.

   I'm sure it was for the same reason I didn't link to a recipe ... when I tried to find one, my browser crashed. Those things are bad for you after all.


March 19, 2005 - A Day In The Life
   The Kids: As I continue to tangential connection to high school girls basketball, congratulations are due Division 1 champion Dartmouth, who's right in Whale City's backyard and beat Springfield's own Central, and Division 2 champion Hampshire, who now have won two more state championships than I will ever win in anything.

   It would have been great to see either game, but we'll get to that soon enough.

Fans Hold The Key To Baseball's Steroid Dilemma
-- That's not really the point at all, and I'm pretty sure is a recycled headline, but this is this week's Inside Baseball. Just kind of fits with everything else, when you come down to it.

   • It's the little things, really.

   As I was packing to head home for a few days on Wednesday afternoon, I was about ready to pack up my laptop (plus my baseball books) when it strucke me I wouldn't need them. I'd be bringing them home to write the above baseball column, and given I'd been told two weeks prior that I'd be working both Friday and Saturday -- the column runs Sunday -- I clearly would have no need to write it on either of my days off.

   Seemed pretty straightforward. I brought my PS2 home instead, so my brother could play "Crash For Cash 3" and I could officially become entrapped in "Gangsta Trainee '04-'05."

   So I head home. I don't need to go over just what sorts of things happened on Wednesday and Thursday ... conveniently enough, there's an exhaustive Web site who outlines such things for anyone whose interested.

   At some point during those two days, I get a call from my boss, who tells me my shift Friday is a "writing shift" -- a catch-up day where, if I was in Whale City, I'd go to the office, write something I'd otherwise have to write on my offtime, and generally just be on hand if something live came up that needed doing. Not really out of the ordinary, given under our new schedule, I'm supposed to have either one or two of these a week anyway.

   I call back later, and with permission, spend Friday out west as well. Here, however, is where the problem starts.

   As nice as it is to get the extra day, all my notes and such are two hours away. To say nothing of the laptop I'd write on given the family computer has a borderline unreadable monitor -- writing this update on there the prior two days more or less gave me a headache both times. So, I can't write the baseball column Friday, but it does have to be done before I go to work since I'm getting the time to do it.

   So I figure Saturday, I'll leave early in the morning and write it before my shift starts at 4. I do this, getting out of FH at 10 a.m. ... quite different from the 1-1:30 p.m. I usually do on Sundays after a weekend.

   I arrive in Whale City around noon, and spend an hour unpacking everything and running an errand or two. As I'm sitting down to start writing at about 1:30 -- the time I'd probably have been leaving FH had I taken home my laptop and books 72 hours earlier -- the cell phone ringing.

"Yeah, where are you? I wanted to give you the night off."

   Tonight's was an easy section apparently, which meant I wasn't needed. Something that would have been fine ... had I found out about it before I'd driven the two hours back with the intention of working.

   Normal people don't complain about getting extra days off. I have been known to, and show up at work anyway! This is why, big-money company with high salaries and company cars, should hire me for whatever it is you do.

   Unless it's stupid.


   So because I didn't want to lug home my laptop and books on Wednesday, I got to spend Saturday night burning lentils while making a dish called "Lime Chicken With Lentils and Dried Fruit." It was good, but my continued insistence to use extra virgin olive oil in recipes as opposed to light olive oil -- which has a lower smoke point, so I'm told -- is not good when you consider there's a good chance I can't cook to begin with.

   And, just to kick me like a guy beaten to death with a pool cue, my TiVo botched taping the Dartmouth-Central state championship game on CN8, failing to properly change the channel and leaving me with two hours of the wrong network. For whatever reason, I really looked forward to watching that game once I found out it was on.

   Imagine my joy upon finding out it was a four-point contest won by the team I was pulling for, and later when it occurred to me I could have watched both the above-mentioned games live at UMass had I not been told two weeks prior, with much fanfare, I was working Friday and Saturday when I ultimately wasn't.


   So yeah, that's the glamorous life of Whale City's favorite 24-year-old baseball writer. Chicken thighs, dried cherries and almost watching quality high school basketball.

   And the World Series. There are, however, other weeks in the year.


March 18, 2005 - Enjoy It While It Lasts
   New Hampshire 5, Boston University 2: Submitted for the public record, Boston University's performance in the Hockey East playoffs since I began caring.

1999: First-round loss to Providence, 2-8, 8-2, 1-5
2000: Semifinal loss to Maine, 2-4 *
2001: First-round loss to Providence, 3-6, 2-1, 3-4 (2 OT)
2002: Semifinal loss to Maine, 3-4 *
2003: Finals loss to New Hampshire, 0-1 (OT)
2004: Semifinal loss to Maine, 0-1.
2005: Semifinal loss to New Hampshire, 2-5.

* -- Game I attended.

   Both these Maine games went a long way in reassuring me the state is generally without merit. The 2000 semifinal, played on St. Patrick's Night, ended with a fat Mainer waving a "Maine Slamrocks BU" somewhere in the general direction of my face. Suffice to say, she was roundly mocked even if her team had won the battle on the scoreboard.

   The 2002 semifinal was played while No. 16 seed BU was facing No. 1 Cincinnati in the first round of the NCAA men's basketball tournament in Pittsburgh. When the Maine fans in attendance loudly cheered the displaying of the 90-52 final score, it was lost on them BU had earned the right to play in that game by destroying the Black Bears less than a week prior.

   What does it all mean? Well, considering the Terriers were likely not getting a No. 1 NCAA seed even if they'd won the HEA Tournament, I don't care. So much so, I just spent however many words this was and however many minutes I was looking up stats to tell you that.

   Cleanliness Is Important: It's time for more bowling scores, meticulously reconstructed after the staff at Bradley Bowl in Windsor Locks, Conn., threw out my note paper when we got up for a minute.

Gm. 1
Gm. 2
Gm. 3
Gm. 4
Pinfall
Avg.
Cooch
84
127
170
119
500
125.0
Charlie
79
119
152
134
484
121.0
Steph
115
115
115
345
115.0
Jen P.
126
130
61
95
412
103.0
Julie
54
62
90
80
286
70.1

   As much as I would like people to believe my plan all along was to finish on a round number, it very much was not. The third game was played at what I like to call "the peak" -- I had drank enough Sam Adams to have all my senses sharpened to a point, but had not drank so much that I became unable to focus on the pins.

   The fourth game, however, was what happens after "the peak."

   Due to Jen P. beating me twice, she also earned something she's sought for a long time -- an actual nickname on the Posse page, which is so outdated, I was unaware anyone still actually looked at it other than as historical reference. She will be known as "Lead Jen," a nickname which will never be spoken of again, ever.

   Remember ... just drinking on a Friday night is sedentary and slovenly. Drinking and bowling? That's an activity.


   • I must say, this new policy of not caring about the NCAA Basketball Tournament is very freeing ... it's given me time to catch on my reading long-overdue special project. More than that, however, it's given me a whole new perspective some might find downright refreshing.

Congratulations, Vermont.

The Vermont bench reacts with excitement after beating Syracuse, 60-57, in their first round NCAA tournament game against Syracuse at the DCU Center on Friday in Worcester, Mass. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

   Congratulations, hayseeds. I hate to admit it, but I was actually pulling for you, and will be for the rest of the tournament.

   Which of course means you'll lose in the second round to Michigan State. Really, though, I can't say as I'll be disappointed either way.


March 17, 2005 - Extreme Makeover's Effect On Man?
   The Worst Assignment Ever: There's a good chance I wrote this in a state of complete bewilderment ... I've never been so glad to see NESN cut away from the feed at 7 p.m., nine hours after we started.

It All Comes Down To Forward Thinking
-- Everyone else who wrote columns on this seems to be going on Mark McGwire's refusal to answer questions. Which is fine, though it isn't exactly shocking if you read Canseco's book.

   The players' testimony was just such a secondary part of the day, all the media coverage was laughable. Anyone wringing their hands over what they said either had their head buried in the sand for the past seven years or was desperate.

   Makes me glad I didn't propose to turn the whole thing into a lark by making it a road trip. I did consider it, before I realized it was an awful, awful idea.

   Just A Comment: Funny. Mike Greenwell saw players take steroids during his career -- said as such in a CBS Evening News report someone told me about -- but no one who went before Congress had except for Canseco.

   Just saying is all.


   • I watched, at most, one minute of tournament basketball today. I'm ashamed both of myself, and of America. I don't know why, just am.

   Though it is nice to be involved with the tournament and simply want as many upsets as possible to happen. Just getting to cheer for every double-digit seed is great, though today was hardly rewarding -- I'm pretty sure No. 12 Wisconsin-Milwaukee was the only one to win.

   Friday, I might even cheer for Vermont. No joke. I blame the steroids, personally.


March 16, 2005 - Our Home Run Heroes
   America Least: Congratulations were doled out to the America East Conference not too long ago, as this marked the first-ever postseason they sent three teams to the various after-season tournaments -- Vermont to the NCAAs, plus both the alma mater and Northeastern in the NIT.

   Well, let's keep it going. Congrats to BU, who scored a tournament- and 33-year program low 34 points in falling to Georgetown by 30 -- one year after I watched them lose to URI by 28. Congrats to the Huskies, who lost to John Calipari's Memphis Tigers by 25.

   And pre-emptive congrats to the Catamounts, who could probably upset any number of higher tournament seeds, but drew Syracuse and will lose despite almost definitely having the lionshare of fans at Worcester's historic DCU Center.

   Never forget ... to be a mid-major, you have to actually be almost a major. Beating Michigan on the road would have been really awesome ... like 10 years ago.


   • In actual basketball plaudits, congrats to the Hampshire Regional Red Raiders, who advanced to the Girls Div. 2 state final with this 46-36 win over Oxford.

   They might have been led by junior interior force Brianne Flanders, but severely spraining her ankle seven minutes in and having to go to the hospital has a way of keeping that from happening.

   I have now seen her sister play two games in what's becoming a decorated career. In the first game, Hampshire lost, which rarely ever happens. In the second game, she all but breaks her ankle.

   This puts the time I thought my presence cursed the Red Sox in a whole new perspective.

   In tangentially related news, I'll be watching Congressional testimony tomorrow, which means I'm telling the NCAA bracket to go screw. Given how long it usually takes me to pick one and how it turns out, this has all the earmarks of the end of an era.

   However, I'll just stick to what I usually do ... I'm picking UMass to win it all.


March 15, 2005 - Blond Over Blue
   Thankfully, A Negative: Quietly, Southern California has become completely inhospitable again. Yes, the hills are all green, the weather is warm and the people all can eat In-N-Out whenever they'd like ...

Three Dollars!
-- But driving is mandatory and gas is three dollars.

A driver fills his car with gas on Tuesday at a gas station in Malibu, Calif., as gas prices continue to rise. The price of gasoline at the pump is less than a penny away from the nation's record high, a government agency and the AAA Auto Club said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

   When I was a kid, the people in the UK used to go, "Your gas is so cheap here! We pay $4-5 per gallon" when they saw that station wherever it was that had 89 cent gas on whatever day it had it. Now, it's cheaping out at twice that. Paying $2.05 at the place you're pretty sure would steal your car if you went to use the bathroom!

   Course, we have no such problems at my weekday or weekend home ... yet.

   More, Meet Most: The Algarve Cup is one of the most respected women's soccer tournaments in the world, likely behind just the Women's World Cup, the Olympic tournament and, here at least, the CONCACAF Gold Cup. It very recently ended, won by the United States.

Algarve
-- This is what they give the scoring champion.
(Mask added to show off mediocre Photoshop skills.)


United States womens soccer team player Christie Welsh holds the Top Scorer trophy, for her five goals, Tuesday during the women's soccer Algarve Cup final at the Algarve stadium, outside Faro, southern Portugal. USA won 1-0 over Germany. (AP/Photo Paulo Duarte)

   That looks like a sticker you'd give a second grader for getting an 'A' on a spelling test, not a trophy for scoring the most goals in a respected world competition. The championship award didn't have these troubles ... are the Portuguese out of money? If so, I have some neighbors who'd gladly help out.

   It, however, seems far less absurd when you consider the NHL, a league with a finger on just what will make the sport successful again.

Blue. Ice.
-- Blue. F'ing. Ice.

A Zamboni ice-resurfacing vehicle cleans the newly-painted blue ice after the Rochester Americans practiced at the HSBC Arena in Buffalo, N.Y., on Tuesday. The Buffalo Sabres, using their minor league farm club as a guinea pig, will experiment with a new ice surface that could become the standard when the NHL finally resumes playing again. (AP Photo/Don Heupel)

   And I quote:

"It's an experiment, let's leave it at that," Sabres managing partner Larry Quinn said Tuesday while watching Rochester practice.

Quinn said the test came after NHL officials discussed whether changing the ice color from white would enhance how the game is viewed by fans in arenas and on television.

The Sabres offered to try it and, after some experimentation, settled on painting the sheet in what they call "electric powder blue." To offset the new colored surface, arena officials decided to make the blue lines fluorescent orange, which is also the color used for the faceoff circles.

The center line, normally red, is now dark blue.

At first glance, the new color schemes are distinctive. The blue provides a softer tone than the glare that generally reflects off the white surface.

"It gives a very good first impression," Rochester Americans president Steve Donner said. "When you first walk into the building, it's like, 'Wow.'"

   Clearly, much of the league's failures have stemmed from those with sensitive eyes being unable to watch an entire game ... it's not the neutral-zone trap that's making them turn away, it's the BRIGHT WHITE ICE! AHH! MY RETINAS ARE MELTING!

   I know this change would have greatly enhanced my enjoyment of the game growing up ... when I watch footage of the Miracle on Ice, I often wish the bluish tinge in the corners were spread across the entire surface. I dare say if it were, the U.S. would have shut out the Russians, and also beaten them again in 1984.

   Idle rich, please start a successful hockey league. Somewhere. Anywhere. Never has it been more clear that those in charge of the NHL have their heads shoved so far into their intestines than when they think Boise State holds the keys to the sport's future.


   • There are so few opportunities for me to say this, so I feel like not taking this one would be a tremendous waste.

   My Web site kicks Jim Caple's Web site's ass.

   My first book, should it ever happen, will also Jim Caple's first book's ass ... at least based on what I've seen of it. Reads much less funny than his normal work, and feels like a major case of cash-in.

   As for the site, well, sometimes it's better just not to have one. Not really, but I can be a snob about these things. Especially since I will never, ever, ever be able to sit in one place long enough to write a book ... outside of publishing all these write-ups, adding maybe 15 pages of new material and calling it an autobiography.


March 14, 2005 - Sucking Already
   An Enjoyable Start To The Fantasy Season: Mark Prior joins Kerry Wood on shelf.

   From Those Who Brought You "What's Adam Vinatieri's Favorite Number?": It's Celebrity Look-Alikes, now too absurd to ignore.

Michael Chiklis
-- Tracy Shaw sent in a photo of her friend, Matty-O, a Michael Chiklis
look-alike ... in the sense they're both white and bald.

   The Future: People hate paying for things on the Internet, but they really hate paying for newspapers on the Internet.


   • My latest assignment, and the explanation why there's no column today?

   On Thursday, I'm watching the Congressional hearings from pillar to post.

   I probably would have watched most of them anyway, but the fact I now have to? I think it just clearly reminded me I'm watching Congressional hearings.

   If nothing else, it has now given me the idea to start TiVoing "Prime Minister's Questions" so I can see how my old friends in the green seats are doing.

   There's three C-SPANs now?! Apparently, I've entirely lost the grasp on "popular demand."


March 13, 2005 - Did Somebody Say Pardes Jersey?
   Fantasmic Voyage: On Saturday, I did something I figured I'd probably never do again ... I got back into fantasy baseball. Twelve-team Rotisserie, all positions plus utility, three starting pitchers, two relievers, two wild card pitching slots. Stats are R, HR, RBI, SB, AVG, OPS, W, SV, K, ERA, WHIP, K/9.

C - Ramon Hernandez, SD
1B - Adam Dunn, CIN
2B - Bill Mueller, BOS
2B - Ray Durham, CWS *
SS - Khalil Greene, SD
3B - Mike Lowell, FLA
OF - Barry Bonds, SF
OF - Vernon Wells, TOR
OF - Milton Bradley, LAD
OF - Larry Walker, STL
OF - Luis Gonzalez, ARZ *
SP - Mark Prior, CHC
SP - Kerry Wood, CHC
SP - Josh Beckett, FLA
SP - Odalis Perez, LAD
SP - Jon Lieber, NYY *
SP - John Thomson, ATL *
RP - Trevor Hoffman, SD
RP - Danny Baez, TBY
RP - Yhency Brazoban, LAD
RP - Akinori Otsuka, SD *

* -- automatic pick after I left draft

   On the whole, I'm pleased. As the sandwich pick (12th in Round 1, 1st in Round 2, 12th in Round 3, etc.), I led off with Bonds-Prior and went pitcher, hitter pretty much every time around. There's a couple guys I wanted but missed out on -- Joe Mauer and Jeremy Bonderman the two leaping out -- but on the whole, I'd like to thank my fine research materials for helping me inadvertantly pick an almost entirely National League team.

   Seventeen out of 21, and the Mueller pick was more because I couldn't understand why he was listed as a 2B and I figured I needed a piece of baseball's best lineup.


   • Over the weekend, I made a late-night trip to the local Cumberland Farms to buy milk ... the sort of thing whipped husbands do, but something I did because young Matty Cooch -- crashing in Whale City following Saturday's thrill-packed BU hockey tilt -- shouldn't have to live in my food-free environment.

   After walking in and having the clerk shout, "How did you get in that door?!" -- he apparently thought he locked it, I bought the milk and headed to the exit. On the way out, I noticed a sticker on the door frame that essentially was there to measure height. It was marked off by the inch, from about 4'6" up to 6'6". I spent a good portion of the ride home trying to figure out just what it meant, until it struck me obvious.

   It's so after someone comes in and robs the clerk, he can know the height of the robber when the cops come.

   This alone would have made for a delightful observational time, had the next day the family not come down. I took them here, since there's a good chance Joe's is one of the 10 finest things SouthCoast has given the world in the last half-century. In the parking lot, we pulled up next to a red Ford Taurus, with a Spongebob air freshener on the rear view, a Johnson and Wales sticker in the rear windshield and a pointed license plate frame.

"Yield To The Princess"

   In an of itself, it would have been odd enough.

   The fact that both the car's side mirrors were completely smashed, one to the point of being hanging off the car? That was just a bonus.


March 12, 2005 - Khalil
   A New Format For An Old Lead Weight: From Shaker Bowl in East Longmeadow, Mass., where the idle rich send their children to give those Hollister rags a dose of the bowling stink:

Gm. 1
Gm. 2
Gm. 3
Pinfall
Avg.
Cooch
163
138
167
468
156.0
Julie
95
119
89
303
101.0
Steph
89
129
83
301
100.3
Jen P.
60
93
104
257
85.7
Matt
104
99
50
253
84.3

   I was asked to note, reagarding these scores, Jen was "practicing bowling like a big girl" -- i.e. proper approach as opposed to standing at the line and throwing -- and now that she knows how, ass will be kicked.

   Independently, I'll note this was one of the better quality group bowling outings, with everyone breaking 100 once and me averaging 150 in three games for the first time in my life. I can still remember when I couldn't break 150, and how I viewed it as the grand measuring stick.

   It should also be noted that in the game I didn't break 150, I picked up a 4-10 split, which according to this Louisiana alley is absurdly difficult because "your target area on the 'key pin' (the pin closest to you) is only 0.23" wide in order to slide it across the pin deck."

   What pushed me to do well? It wasn't totally this 52-shot loss.

   Boston University 2, Providence 0: Though I was there 3,409 of my closest friends, I just don't have the energy to give it its own update. The game, truth be told, was boring. The arena was pretty dead thanks to it being Spring Break, the Terriers were in control throughout, and probably should have at least a pair more goals if not for the stupifying play of the Friars' Tyler Sims.

   The whole series is hauntingly like last year's No. 8 BU beating No. 1 BC in three games, right down to the big-shot team losing Game 1, winning Game 2 in boring fashion ... let's just stop here. The last thing I need this week is for Providence to win another first-round series against my team.


Baseball's Power Brokers Are All Over The Map
-- This week's Inside Baseball, with the aforementioned power brokers and more than you ever wanted to know about the NL West. Well, unless you're Matt Bruce ... in which case, you know far more baseball than I ever will.

   • In reality, I didn't post anything here on Saturday because I legitimately had a day where I was unable. Rousting at 9:30, I read in my favorite phone book until after 11, showered, sat down for the 'office' fantasy baseball draft, bailed out of that slightly after 1 p.m. to write this week's "Inside Baseball," finished at about quarter to 4, and was on the road to Boston by the top of the hour.

   This marks just the second day since the site began in May 2001 to go without an update. It wasn't going to remain that way -- compilation updates are so easy to slip by on the weekends -- but the more I think about it, the more I feel like it needs too.

   These things happen for a reason.

   Without rehashing the gory details, the first day this site went bare was due to and in honor of a historic event, a profound sense of loss. The kind of thing that changes lives, be it ultimately good or bad. That's how I feel right now, though let there be no confusion ... the reasons aren't the same. She'll gladly confirm it.

   As of some date in late April that I've already forgotten -- I think it's the 25th -- this man will be the new Editor-in-Chief of the Standard-Times. No, not Ann Coulter ... believe it or not, she's a woman. The man who, as an editor in State College, Pa., felt the need to write an open letter to Ann Coulter to announce his paper would no longer be running her syndicated column.

   That's fine. The whole story surrounding what happened, if told with a righty slant, is here ... it's really irrelevant to the point anyway. It wouldn't shock me if some of you already knew it.

   The point is less about who will be, and more about who isn't. The paper's Managing Editor, who I say without an iota of hyperbole I owe my career too, and who was acting as acting EIC. Why he didn't, I don't know. It would be completely against every ethic I know to throw things out there for the sake of it, but I won't.

   But I will say I won't go to work there with the same fervor ever again. That's just a fact, and if it's something I shouldn't be saying aloud, trust me when I tell you there about 500 other things I'm already not saying. I've been saying them to myself in an empty car, in my head, over and over. The things you wish you could say and do, but that you realize aren't worth the trouble or hassle because what's done is done. It's not anger so much as it is pain, the same kind of pain I felt that day now approaching two years ago.

   Things can be better, things can be worse, but things can never be the same. Sometimes that's good, and sometimes that's bad. But that really doesn't matter.

   Never again will I tell someone talent is rewarded. It's not always ... only usually from now on.

   Time to get to work.


March 10, 2005 - Shadowing
   The New Acquisition: Arrived in the mail today.

Vancouver!
-- Pavel Bure! Geoff Courtnall! Jyrki Lumme! Trevor Linden!
It's NHL Hockey '93 for the Genesis, come to life in jersey form!

   There was a time I used to collect Hard Rock Cafe T-shirts. Had a decent number at the collection's peak, too. However, that time has passed.

   We need to face facts. I now collect sports jerseys on whims and impulses. It's not just the collecting them, though ... it's the neverending struggle to find them for as cheap as possible -- this one was $26.50, which is about a fifth of what I paid for the white Whalers jersey which, while awesome, is about three sizes too big for me to wear anywhere.

   In this site's masterplan, there's a jersey page. They're all listed, complete with how I got them, why I got them and what they cost. Of course, that's in the dream world where I actually do things other than these daily updates, because the motivation is still there. Even I readily admit we're probably not visiting that anytime soon.

   Just Because Now I Want To See The List: London, Boston, New York (twice), Philadelphia, Orlando, Myrtle Beach, Indianapolis, Hollywood, Atlanta, Niagara Falls (Canada), Edinburgh, Cleveland and Chicago, in no particular order. [Edit: Plus Key West, thanks to Matty]

   Many of the shirts were bought on specific trips into downtowns and the like to get the shirts -- I think the only actual HRCs I ate in were Boston and London. The whole thing started waning in interest when the shirt for Niagara, N.Y., was so weak I didn't buy it, and the one for Niagara North was too big to be worn really anywhere. Course, considering I still wear the shirts under sweaters and whatnot, it's probably not that bad a hobby because they're quality T-shirts. The London one may fit me better than any other shirt I own.

   I did, however, pass on the Cayman Islands shirt this past summer. I figure if I keep mentioning cruise stories here, eventually someone who cares can cobble the write-up together and we can all be done with it.


   • Since I'm not going to be around this weekend, I went into the TiVo to see just what it had recording this weekend. Given the size of the hard drive, and that I never watch everything it does tape before it deletes it for new stuff, I've started lopping out the Modern Marvels and sitcom episodes I definitely don't care about beforehand to save room.

   I dare say the appearance of a Dawson's Creek -- with a blue star next to it signifying I'd done something to request said show -- physically frightened me until I figured out why ... Dawson entered some documentary contest at Boston University, which the show's producers failed to realize is a real school with real alumni that have feelings and emotions.

   I also discovered that on tonight's Smack Down, John Cena faced off for the United States Championship with this man, as opposed to this man who's actually a wrestler.

   Why do I mention it? Because somewhere, there's an Orlando Jones fan who can't for the life of them figure out why their TiVo recorded wrestling, and quite possibly is frightened by it.

   The whole story seemed like a better idea than my head, and the comedic value of me having gone into work this morning so I could take part in the visit from Dartmouth High School students.

   A class worth of students came in to visit the paper and find out just what exactly we do on a day-to-day basis, so I volunteered myself. After they got a talk from our managing editor (and, hopefully, soon-to-be not simply acting Editor-in-Chief), four of them came over to the sports department and I explained to them what a night's work at the paper was like, how things would run differently somewhere like the Globe, the different things I've covered ...

   One of them may have been more captivated by the West Virginia-BC game playing out on the TV above my head.

I'd do it again ... it was still more fun that the time I volunteered to go to the Mattapoisett "Meeting with the Editors" and I sat there for two hours without being asked a single question. Though I'd do that again too, simply because if I didn't, no one else in the department probably is.


March 9, 2005 - The Last Thing He Needs ...
   Why Personal Analysis Is Important: I'm not going to link to where I found this, but reading it, it struck me that this is something someone well on their way to a graduate degree should never, ever be saying about themselves.

As for looking for Real Jobs in NYC, the problem is that I have very few identifiable skills. I'm intermediately good at doing thousands of things but I'm not really an expert in anything ...

They've mostly gone into teaching, mostly by starting at little podunk schools in the middle of nowhere. I'm doing it all backwards by picking a place to live first and then looking for a job. The degree does have a lot of applications, but there's a bit fat glaring hole in my education in that I have no idea how to do ANYTHING that goes into making a movie. We weren't even allowed to take basic production 101 type courses, which is positively idiotic. It's a purely theoretical degree, not a practical one, and that limits my skills on paper, even if it doesn't limit what I can learn very quickly with the proper training.

   See, these are the kinds of things one should think about before deciding that an MFA in film is the route being chosen. There really should be a rule -- if most people who choose a given major move on to employment involving teaching that major, it is banned.

   Because really, there's only room for so many Joyce Kulhawiks. Even if Kulhawik has a Masters in English, a major that's a story for another day. As is making a two-footed leap to living in New York City, a place known for its affordable housing and affable "help the little guy" personality.

   'The Tonight Show' Is Still Not Funny: That said, Jay Leno tagging out to Dennis Miller for the Michael Jackson portion of his nightly monologue? The idea of that is funny.

Nonetheless, the matter is serious enough that Mr. Leno's lawyers have filed a motion before the trial judge, Rodney S. Melville of Santa Barbara County Superior Court, asking that he clarify that the order was not relevant to a "public personality" like Mr. Leno.

"We are confident," the network said in a statement, "that Judge Melville did not intend the gag order to prevent Jay Leno from doing what he has always done, which is entertain the country every night with jokes and comments about current events and breaking news."

In response, Mr. Jackson's lawyers have asked the judge to affirm that Mr. Leno is indeed subject to his order.

"Mr. Leno is an accomplished entertainer and, usually, a genuinely funny man," Robert M. Sanger, a lawyer for Mr. Jackson, wrote. "However, while the prosecution of Michael Jackson might be a convenient source of material, it is hardly crucial commentary on important political or social issues."

   They're correct. In this case, there's only one thing that's really crucial.

Jackson's Fingernails
-- Michael needs to start "getting a skin condition" under his fingernails.
We can totally tell he's not actually a white person.


Michael Jackson reaches over his father Joe Jackson's shoulder to wave at fans while leaving the Santa Barbara County Courthouse in Santa Maria on Wednesday. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

   • Tonight was Dan Rather's last night on the anchor, as he finished up a 24-year stint hosting the CBS Evening News.

   If you recall, I built a whole update around Tom Brokaw's retirement, simply because I'd been watching him on and off for as long as I can remember. This is not the case with Rather, however, he is responsible for one of the most enjoyable television moments I've ever had.

   I know you remember it ...



At this hour, officials of the Center For Disease Control are confirming the presence of anthrax spores at three new locations: my desk here at CBS Nightly News, my basement weight room, and my breakfast nook. Right now, individuals known to have worked at or visited these locations are being tested for anthrax, and at the moment we have any details we'll pass them along to you.

Hold on. [ presses earpiece ] Alright. This just in. CBS News now comfirming that I ... have ... anthrax. Now, as you can imagine, this comes as a major disappointment to me personally. And, I don't mind telling you that I'm madder than a rained-on rooster about it. But listen, let's make one thing clear from the get-go -- anthrax or no anthrax, I'm gonna stay right here to bring you any new developments as soon as we get them.

...

Now.. this, next, is something of an upset. Back at NBC, CBS is now projecting that Katie Couric does not ... have ... anthrax. I repeat: does not have anthrax. Now, this will come as a bitter disappointment to many conservatives who had high hopes the perky liberal "Today Show" host would contract the disease, at least in its geltaneous form. But tonight, they're going home empty-handed, while over at Couric-ville they're dancing in the streets.

Uh-oh! hold on to your hats, folks. In perhaps the biggest surprise of the night, CBS News now projecting that down at CNN, anchor Wolf Blitzer has both anthrax and rabies. Details are sketchy at this time, but apparently the highly-respected newsman was bitten by a squirrel caught in his attic vent.

So, to sum up where we tand at the moment -- Rather, anthrax; Russert, anthrax; Koppel and Jennings, anthrax; Rivera, anthrax; Couric, no anthrax; Blitzer, anthrax, attacked by a squirrel.

This just in, and it is a big one. Carl, get off the phone, Mabel, get into the kitchen, you're gonna want to hear this. CBS News is now projecting that Walter Cronkite has scurvy. In addition, the veteran news anchor may -- and, I repeat, may -- have anthrax. Wait, hold on.. he does have anthrax. Alright, another shocker, right here at CBS. We're now prjecting that Andy Rooney has cholera. Now, many will ask, how did the popular "60 Minutes" curmudgeon contract this rare disease? One theory -- and at this point, it's just a theory -- is that he may have drunk stagnant water from an air conditioner, believing it to be Scotch. Also, he has anthrax.

   By the time we reached, "CBS News is now projecting that Walter Cronkite has gonorrhea," I was pretty much out of oxygen.


March 8, 2005 - How Tony Eason = Poker Tips
   When The Odd Gets Odder: The continued communique with one of my readers, though he did just say he'd "probably start reading my stuff."

Subject: Re: do u still suck at golf?
Date: Tue, 8 Mar 2005
From: "Bob ____" <___@gmail.com>
To: jcouture at s-t dot com

   Jon

   I suck live have never win, but online I average 3rd and have played over 300 table so far this year. Here is what I have learned

   1. play single table $5 NL limit tournements..to start don't move up till you win 10

   2. Play tight..big pair only until you are down to 5 people. Watch out for JJ they get beat a lot.

   2a. When you get to 5 people play pairs if you can see the flop cheap you are looking for trips if there is a a raise fold.

   3. Do not chase flushes

   4. Do not play A's with low kickers or any other garbage JX, QX, KX

   5. Do not slow play when you have good cards bet them and represent them as good cards otherwise people will stay in and you'll get a lot of bad beats.

   6. Do not gamble play the odds and stick to your strategy.

   7. DO not bluff (at least not on $5 tables...at a $200 I bluff)

   8. IF you get big stacked near the end BET into people with the small stacks don't give them free rides. if they have 600 and you have 3000 bet into them. Especially if there are 4-5 people left people are trying to get to the money be aggresive.

   9. If you get to the end be patient and attack with decent cards. Sometimes jumping the gun can hurt most people are not good in these showdowns and they gamble.

   10. Yes, it can be boring not to play every hand, but I win this way. As I move up or play in multi-tabel tourneys I loosen up a lot, but at the low end this works.

   11. It is still a game of luck you do need cards. Perhaps when there are 1,000 or 100,000 on the table things change, but when people are playing $5 they'll call a lot use it to your advantage.

   All decent advice, though even I'm a little bit past it. Since my boss more or less forced me back onto the virtual tables via his charitability, I read a book -- mine had a red cover, just in case you're trying to be exactly like me for some indeterminate reason.

   Even if it didn't exactly teach me anything groundbreaking, what was there was useful -- I'd been doing most of the things talked about anyway, but now I can consciously think about them (especially the ideas of table position) and feel like I know what I'm doing.

   If only I could remember who gave me such a thoughtful gift ...


   • Every so often, I get spam messages from a company that apparently you can pay to check your Web site for broken links. Since I link to an awful lot of things every day, many of which are just insignificant pages that fall off the Net, I get a lot of "broken link" spam I never worry about.

   Today, however, was the best one yet.

There appears to be a problem on this page of your site.

On page http://www.joncouture.com/comm0702.html, when you click on "Warren Towers Porno", the link to http://www.joncouture.com/YOU WISH. LIKE I'M POSTING A 100 MB PORN VIDEO. gives the error: Not found.

   And it always will, even if checking the deep recesses of my hard drive, I see I still have the stupid thing.

   Just something about the site's collegiate heyday that's always worth a smile.

   I remember at the paper office, when someone thought they found just who the girl "treating her body like an amusement park" was ... it may even have been an actual story, though I think all involved thought better of calling this girl and asking, "So, are you the person dancing with yourself all over the BU network?"

   Course, that was in the infancy of the 21st century. These college kids have cable television and online poker now. Bad homemade Internet pornography just probably doesn't get the laughs it used to, or should.


March 7, 2005 - Apple Jolly Ranchers In Circulation
   S-Tinkage: With the Inside Baseball column posting remedied, it appears I worked much harder today.

Spring Means Nothing ... And Everything
-- This week's Inside Baseball, with a putdown of spring, a preview of the NL Central and another p-word to do with the whole Boston Dirt Dogs thing.


Madness Has Already Begun
-- Let it be known I watched exactly zero of the Red Sox-Yankees exhibition game live (it was taped for work reasons) and instead opted for the entirety of Championship Week action. Well, at least until the Gonzaga-St. Marys game got boring at the end.

   Oh, and I heard back from the guy who asked if I suck at golf:

Sorry to freak you out. I was googling Tony Eason to try to find out what happened to him. I met him a couple of times back in the day at Doc and Nelly's in Canton and want to VH1 him.

I guess in hindsite I was just heckling. I was probably sitting there playing online poker having a few. I would have been right there with you. I think at the time I was comparing him to Trent Dilfer. Now that I think about it I'm a punk. I was calling Schilling a pussy over the ankle thing, then he gets it sewn to the bone and I have to eat my words.

oh well I suck so bad at golf I gave it up 4 years ago and bought a motorcycle. A better spent 4 hours, but you can't really booze.

Now you have me curiuos I'll probably start reading your stuff.

   And that is how you win over readers.

   Apparently.


   • This is among the better Photoshop contests I've seen in a while. Amazing that "What would video-game characters do in real-life situations?" would be in the wheelhouse of Internet geeks, isn't it?

And ... Racism!
-- Aaaaand ... racism!


   Perhaps almost as amazing as the Hootie-Brooke Burke BK commercial I've now mentioned twice, just because I'm still not sure it has actually happened.

   Even if I love the idea of the sandwich, the idea of "streams of bacon-ranch dressing" is enough to make me ill.

   And it's online!

   And Whale City apparently thinks I don't get enough flouride.

New Bedford stopped fluoridating its water supply in 1980. A spokeswoman for Mayor Frederick Kalisz, Jr. said the city plans to reintroduce the additive in about six weeks, according to The Standard-Times of New Bedford.

Fluoride is believed to prevent or even reverse tooth decay, but can irritate and burn the skin and cause nausea if ingested in large amounts. Children in the city have a high incidence of tooth decay because of a scarcity of dentists.

   At least this proves it isn't weird I have to wait a month after calling for cleaning appointments despite never see anyone in the waiting room when I go.


March 6, 2005 - Really Silly Nation
   The Most Impressive Album Never Made: Every so often, the Times puts a Times-style story together on something you just wouldn't think would be getting that treatment. Guns N' Roses counts.

But Mr. Rose's renewed energies were not being directed toward the finish line. He had the crew send him CD's almost daily, sometimes with 16 or more takes of a musician performing his part of a single song. He accompanied Buckethead on a jaunt to Disneyland when the guitarist was drifting toward quitting, several people involved recalled; then Buckethead announced he would be more comfortable working inside a chicken coop, so one was built for him in the studio, from wood planks and chicken wire.

   Oh, to be a rock star.

   Lost In No Shuffle: I forgot to link the weekly baseball column yesterday.

   Course, my bosses forgot to put it online. So really, it ended up a push for everyone.

   Perhaps I'll get it off my laptop and post it here, since I know the world is desperate to know my take on the NL Central -- St. Louis, Chicago, Houston, Milwaukee, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, in that order.


   • It's rare a Wire story so perfectly captures the mood that needs to be captured, since often those writers have to play it so close to the vest. This story, however, gets the job done.

Adam Fonrouge drove 32 hours from Maine, lay down on the hot sidewalk and continued his 35-hour wait for the ticket office to open.

And many of the Yankees' best players won't even be on the split squad that faces the Red Sox tonight, the first game between the rivals since the AL championship series.

"We're idiots," the 22-year-old Boston fan said, echoing Johnny Damon's description of his Red Sox teammates who won the team's first World Series championship in 86 years. ... Repeat after the players: "It's just an exhibition game. It's just an exhibition game. It's just an exhibition game."

Brad Kearns, who accompanied Fonrouge from Bangor, Maine, had a different message: "It's still the Yankees."

   Actually, it isn't. Unless of course you think Chien-Ming Wang will be the lynchpin of the Yankee starting rotation in 2005. Though there's an explanation for that too, apparently.

"It's only an appetizer in spring training," Jeter said. "You might as well wait for the regular season and see it all at once."

One fan in line yesterday didn't care that she won't see many of the Yankees' 18 All-Stars.

"We're going to get all the Sox. We're going to get half of the Yankees," said Deborah Kellogg-Van Orden of West Springfield, Mass. "They're going to pretend they don't care so they feel better."

   Even if all this taught me that Major League Baseball requires four regulars be brought to all spring training road games, and even if it is impressive that a team can create this kind of excitement for a meaningless game, I can still pray Rebecca was either joking or barren.


March 5, 2005 - Twenty-Four
   • Providence will not get within a goal.

   You heard it here first.

   And nothing else.


March 4, 2005 - Wake-Up Call For 9
   The Best Kind Of Korrespondence: With the subject line "do u still suck at golf?", one "Bob Stanley" simply quoted this entire column as ripped off the S-T Web page. No snide remark, no personal slant, nothing else.

   I suppose in that sense, he didn't really write me at all.

   Until I read my own link to it on the S-T writing page, I'd forgotten both this was the first of my columns to get on Boston Sports Media Watch and that I was pissed because the thing had been shredded and twisted into something I hadn't really written. It happens so rarely, I forgot it ever happened at all.

   Just now, the irony that I wrote infinite more words in my reply to Bob than he wrote to me is strikingly funny. Of course, it is 4 a.m.


   • Something doesn't seem right about this.

   In finishing my drive home passing through West Springfield and Agawam, I came across three places to eat open either 24 hours or well into the night -- Taco Bell and McDonalds by the Big E, and Dunkin Donuts just across the Westfield River. For their part, Agawam is lucky if it has 30,000 people living in it.

   New Bedford, at absolute worst, has 90,000 people living in it.

   I can think of zero places I could eat in Whale City at four in the morning.

   That is backward, right?

   I also love that at the end of the street to enter my neighborhood, there's a bumper sticker on a stop sign signifying, through symbol, that marriage is a union strictly between a man and a woman. The position certainly doesn't surprise me ... I'm just shocked to think of Agawam as having actual political leanings other than "We hate all businesses." and "You can't open that here. It would ruin our country sensibilities that we haven't had since the 1970s."


March 3, 2005 - The [Blank] IFrame at JonCouture.com
   New Hampshire 4, Boston University 4: A 4-2 lead blown with under three minutes to go in regulation? A tie that likely will cost the Terriers the top seed in the HEA playoffs -- not that it's necessary, mind you, but still? There can be only one possible explanation.

The Curse of New Unis
-- It's the curse of new uniforms. Plain and simple.

Boston University forward Brian McConnell (9) slams into New Hampshire defenseman Robbie Barker during the first period in Boston on Thursday. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

   BU cranked out a third jersey for tonight, an "exact replica of their 1958 uniforms" according to USCHO. Not that the '58 team did anything special, other than enjoy a lot of additional striping that makes me feel like I'm watching Wisconsin or something.

   Notre Dame's green jersey? The team lost. The L.A. Lakers cracking out home whites? Loss. When will equipment managers and those in charge understand these big games leave too much to chance? Even if the thing is growing on me from first look ... the No. 1 seed would be growing on me more, because it would put UMass on the other side of the ice next weekend.

   Ah, but perhaps I've said too much.

   The Grand Return To eBay: I'm back on the selling block.


   • Just when I'd taken to the idea of the ZeroBrokerFees.com Center, the fine folks at Delaware North -- "from the Earth to the stars and everything in between," except maybe Clear Channel -- went and settled on one name for all the rest of eternity til 2025.

   The TD Banknorth Garden. Already known as the "Toronto Garden," the "BankNorth Station," or their personal favorite ... "The Garden."

Thanks Banknorth!
-- You have your orders. Now go bank!

   See? We love Banknorth now, because they've given us the chance to call an arena that's absolutely nothing like Boston Garden, other than the fact it sets next to where Boston Garden once was, "The Garden." This, you see, is Boston, where it's better to live in the past than it is to let the new, faceless, multi-use arena have an identity of its own.

   Meanwhile, apropos of nothing, the BCEC sits quietly on the Pier, biding its time, waiting. For what? Well, the seafood show is coming up.


March 2, 2005 - Saturday, 10 a.m.
   Building A Legacy: Perhaps one day, the young undergraduates of Boston University can have it far easier than those before them. They can play Dance Dance Revolution without having to cross the mightly Charles.

"The revenue generated by that machine is enormous, and a well-maintained machine could attract some of the best players in New England, many of which live in the metro Boston area," she said, adding she spends about $10 there each week.

Though places like MIT, Northeastern University, Jillians and the AMC theaters have DDR machines, both Gendrano and Bransz said a DDR machine would be a nice addition to BU Central for student entertainment and university fundraising.

"DDR is a lot more healthy and fun than playing pool and watching TV," Gendrano said. "The school could generate a lot of revenue from DDR through tournaments and charging a meager price per set like 50 cents or so. A well-kept machine could pay for itself very quickly."

   This might be hard to believe, but when I was a boy, the GSU had just such a room. Right by the pool tables, there were all sorts of games -- some sort of Tekken, one not called Police Academy and Virtua Cop, something involving Diehard, some sort of cybernetic spaceball game ... and my favorites, Point Blank and Medieval Madness.

   I never spent $10 there in a week, but I did live at the both extreme ends of campus with the GSU in the middle. I did have my computer, which my sophomore year roommate was nice enough to fill with horse porn. And that only sort of an exaggeration.

   There was room for more horse porn.

Celtics 104, Lakers 101: Barely beating a flawed Lakers team at home is not something worth getting all that excited about, even if the Celtics are 3-0 since trading for Antoine Walker.

   Selling out the FleetCenter for the first time since who knows when? Ending the first half with an alley-oop reverse jam by Ricky David from Paul Pierce? Playing a style of basketball that's actually exciting to watch? Likely getting Gary Payton back, meaning the Celtics got Walker in exchange for players that barely saw court time anyway?

   That's worth getting excited about.


   • I hate this site, because not only does it claim to be the voice of the average Red Sox fan, it has a hint of legitimacy since Boston.com essentially bought it. The site's owner had previously said he would close it down if the A-Rod trade didn't happen. It would seem to me it didn't, thus creating a "credibility issue."

   Seems it's not his only one.

   Edit: More on the story here.


March 1, 2005 - Dry Socket Glories
   All About Balance: Perhaps at the same time the alma mater was enjoying their first-ever visit by the WWE, the Parents Television Council was shining up one of their newer toys -- the Worst TV Clip of the Week, a clearinghouse for awful/awesome moments idiot box moments.

The event paused for WWE staff to construct a steel cage around the ring for the main event between Triple H, Flair, Batista and Orton. At one point, Flair - who has been wrestling since 1972 - tried to climb out of the cage, but Orton pulled Flair down by his red wrestling trunks, leaving Flair's backside exposed for rest of the match.

vs.

The idea would seem to be that these privileged heiresses learn about a hard day's work in various fields of employment possibly gain a skill. The first stop on the journey is Bayonne, NJ, where Paris and Nicole work at a car repair shop. The girls immediately started off on the wrong foot by showing up to work two hours late. Then they proceeded to whine about the uniforms, complain to their manager that Nicole was experiencing chafing because she wasn't wearing panties, steal a police car that was brought in for servicing so they could go to a store and scam free nail polish (they promised to return in two hours to pay for it and never did), and crashed two customer cars into each other twice, costing the owner of the repair shop the price of damages.

   The fact that the WWE couldn't sell out 7,200-seat (6,300 for hockey) Agganis Arena isn't really all that amazing, especially when you consider things that are actually amazing ... Bernie Mac is one of the 10 best shows for families on TV today.


   • The wisdom tooth saga continues, as there's now a date set for me to have bone chiseled out of my head ... sort of.

   Course, because my new "inflexible" work schedule isn't inflexible at all and apparently has me scheduled to work on both my days off -- which I'd figured was a good time to be all looped up and chubby cheeked -- I now have to change it. Delightful, since it means I'll have to wait even longer to enjoy the likely enjoyable "steroid pack" I have a prescription for.

   In the interests of documenting this for future generations who also haven't yet had things ripped out of their jawbone, a review.

   Upon arriving at the office -- at which point I discovered both my dentist and my oral surgeon are stationed in giant old houses -- and filling out the appropriate paperwork, I sit and watch Today, which I'm not linking to because I'm tired. Actually called in for my appointment, I prepare for the joy of getting x-rays taken, which usually entails biting down on a plastic guide and have this giant gun shot at the side of my head.

   Ah, but this is a nicer house than the one my dentist is in -- I'm walked up to a free-standing machine in the hall, where I put my head and nose on guides, bite down on my back teeth, and have this CAT scan-esque thing spin around my head. It would have been perfectly wonderful ... if, when biting down, I hadn't about gone blind because the top wisdom teeth which are out mashed down on the bottom gums which are all beaten up.

   Sweet.

   I'm then shown a video to answer my questions about side effects I never even considered -- damage to the nerves in my jaw, breaking of my jaw, the gruesome "dry socket," death from anesthesia, sinus cavity issues, and other calming topics. After the video, the surgeon comes in, looks at my x-ray and determines I don't have to worry about most of that.

   Like how I wouldn't have if I'd never known about them.

   In describing the procedure, I get the sell on the undercoating (removal of the top two teeth) because they're "hard to clean" and "just going to mash down on the gums below." Given moments ago, I agree. On the impacted bottom two, he tells me that he "may have to drill a little." I take this to mean, "You look like you might be a baby, so though I'm 400 percent sure I'm drilling, I figure I'll save you vomiting in the hedge outside."

   This is reassured later, when he encourages me to "bring a Walkman" to the procedure, so I can completely drown myself out of what's going on. Whether he is unaware all the cool kids have iPods now, or is aware but sensed I am neither rich nor cool enough to have an iPod, is currently unknown.

   We then got into the drugs, which really is why we're all here -- I'll be getting the vaunted "steroid pack" to reduce swelling once I decide which of the many pharmacies near here I want to go to, plus the desk gave me two Valium to calm my stomach beforehand. Sadly, no one there noticed I'm a sports columnist whose face was in the paper they had in the waiting room, so no jokes could be made about putting me on steroids.

   I still await that day, and have a feeling I will be for a very long time.

   That's pretty much it ... the procedure will apparently take like 45 minutes, but I'll be aware for like five. Were I a Vaudeville comedian, I would now make a joke about how I asked the Doc whether he could promise those same results when I'm visiting with my mother-in-law, but here, that would just be weird.

   Perhaps even dorky.


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