April 30, 2003 - Anemic Offenses
   Whale City Fame Update: As pointed out in the Tuesday's comments widget, the molester story was featured on The Smoking Gun, meaning the S-T has moved into the hallowed halls of the Wisconsin Thong Thief, a Naked Robert Reich, CNN's Premature Obits and, of course, Sarah Kozer's Foot Porn.

   • So, which of these seems the least likely to happen?

   a) With the score 88-88 and the Celtics one shot away from winning Game Five and their series against the Pacers, Paul Pierce lets the clock run down to about five seconds, then passes on the three-pointer to get stuffed inside and send the game to overtime.

   Then, to top their offensive impotency, the Celtics go scoreless in overtime;

   b) The Red Sox load the bases with one out in the 6th, 7th and 8th innings, yet only score a run when an Albie "F-ck-ng" Lopez curveball strikes home plate, causing it to bounce lower than anticipated and get past Kansas City catcher Brent Mayne.

   Then, to top off their offensive impotency, the Sox score three runs in the 9th on two singles, three hit by pitches, two errors and a wild pitch.

or

   c) ESPN built an entire 5 p.m. episode around airing the Kentucky Derby Draw, which could be the least captifying bit of featured sports television ever put on a major network. It worked a little to me as "Wow, I've never seen this before," but didn't last as long for my father, who stared at the TV like he was watching a homocide.

   You know your broadcast isn't going well when the main analysis from hosts Chris Fowler and Randy "Not That One" Moss consists of ways the event they're covering used to be more boring than it is now.


April 29, 2003 - Famed Civic Pride
   Marijuana Moment Of The Day: I highly recommend the film Grass, which chronicles the government's fight against marijuana since it was introduced to the U.S. at the start of the 20th century.

   I'm not sure which part was better: Seeing a girl "driven insane by pot" jump out a window in a laughable propaganda video, or seeing George Bush Sr., in a presidental address and with a straight face, say that marijuana was the most dangerous drug in America.

   Probably the second, since seeing archive footage of Ronald Reagan saying pot "makes you forget things" raised waaaay too many questions.


   • Look ... Whale City is famous.

Oops!: City's civic pride newspaper ad features child molester
An ad campaign to boost New Bedford's civic pride features a garbage man who raves about the Massachusetts city. The people behind the ad didn't realize that their spokesman is a convicted child molester.
(Writeup from ObscureStore -- the article is from the Boston Herald)

   A few points:

   The article says "A full-page advertisement in Sunday's Standard-Times of New Bedford featuring 50-year-old Larry Heyes and all he loves about the historic whaling city ...," when the only word in the advertisement is "PRIDE." The tagline is "The reason I live in SouthCoast," though I'd hardly call that all the reasons he loves the area.

   No one calls our editor "Kenneth Hartnett" in the same way no one calls me "Jonathan Couture." There's really no need to mention this, but I needed a second point to preface the third.

   I maintain the paper's best strategy is to continue the ad campaign with a full-page photograph of me. Not only do I lack an arrest record, the people running the ad campaign have a choice of several words they could superimpose on me as "The reason I live in SouthCoast."

   Among my favorites are "COASTY," "WET," "SCALLOPS," "MYDENTISTISHERE," and my own top choice, "BECAUSE."


   I do enjoy living in The Whale. It's exactly like being in Agawam, right down to there being nothing to do on most nights beyond drinking.


April 28, 2003 - Still Inciteful After All These Years
   A Word About Yesterday's "Grudge Report": Relax. (For more, comments.)

   And Can I Just Say: If I didn't write a sports column, and instead had been hired to resurrect Larry King's dreadful USA Today columns, I think I'd write an entire one about how psyched up I get every time I hear "Bring Me To Life" by Evanescence. But since I don't, you get this.

McGahee Pick Baffling At Best
-- Buffalo's drafting of Willis McGahee literally makes my mind ache. I realize it really has nothing to do with SouthCoast, but given what an information coma the NFL Draft is, I still can't fathom it actually happened.

   • Seriously. It's one of those things I watched, I expressed shock, and yet the more I thought about it, the more shocked I became. This goes way beyond the actual detriment the pick could be to the Bills ... Tom Donahoe literally passed on thousands of uninjured players on the possibility that one injured one could come back strong next year

   Sure there's an upside. But there's also a crappy defense and a defensive lineman-strong draft, and even some wideouts to help replace Peerless Price, who Drew Bledsoe will solely miss this season. Plus 1,700 total yards from Travis Henry ain't exactly whistling dixie, if you know what I'm sayin. OK, I'll stop.


   I went so apoplectic about this whole McGahee thing, I passed up on what would have been a possibly equal topic -- tonight was likely the final appearance for John Stockton and Karl Malone together in Utah. But really, neither of them are that good. Such is the problem when I don't want to tread on the toes of our Celtics columnist.

   And now, to complete my college football draft discussion for another year, let's review just what happened to the top Heisman vote-getters, who should theoretically be five people who are near the most talented in the draft pool.

Carson Palmer (QB) - Round 1, Pick 1 to CIN
Brad Banks (QB) - UNDRAFTED, Signed by WAS
Larry Johnson (RB) - Round 1, Pick 27 to KC
McGahee (RB) - Round 1, Pick 23 to BUF
Ken Dorsey (QB) - Round 7, Pick 241 to SF
Byron Leftwich (QB) - Round 1, Pick 7 to JAX
Jason Gesser (QB) - UNDRAFTED, Signed by TEN
Chris Brown (RB) - Round 3, Pick 93 to TEN
Kliff Kingsbury (QB) - Round 6, Pick 201 to NE
Quentin Griffen (RB) - Round 4, Pick 108 to DEN

   Not as dramatic as I first thought, but the point is the same.


April 27, 2003 - On To The Column
   Grudge Report: While Erik Nielsen and the rest of the BU College Bowl team were tying for ninth in the 15-team CBI National Championship Tournament this weekend, yours truly won both the overall tournament title (with Mike and Matt) and the individual scoring title at Brandeis's mirror of the RC Cola Classic.

   That's 56.67 ppg, if such numbers mean anything to you. That's first place, if you're scoring at home or in the car. And while I was playing on just a three-person team, allow me to remind you ...

"He's good, but he's not that good."
-- BUCB player Erik Nielsen explaining why I could not play on my alma mater's team at TRASHionals. Nielsen led the BU team to a 22nd place (of 34) finish at TRASHionals, BU's lowest finish in that event since its establishment in 1998.

   All kidding aside though, congratulations to my friends who went down to UPenn as the first BU team ever to qualify for the CBI NCT. And Erik, I really don't hold a grudge. However, you should continue to suck my ass.


   • We do have a Picture Of The Moment, even if it's a weak one:

Saddam Whips Osama
-- It's just a Saddam Hussein doll wearing a bondage outfit whipping a
dress-wearing Osama bin Laden. Real run-of-the-mill stuff.


Photo courtesy of HeroBuilders.com

   I mean, it's not like any photo I've ever taken could compete with that.

Excitement
-- Charlie shoves his diploma up his nose.

Sox on Pat's Day - 4.21.03
http://www.imagestation.com/album/?id=4290292809
[Login using CoochWorld/CoochWorld]


The Mismash
http://www.imagestation.com/album/?id=4290288411
[Login using CoochWorld/CoochWorld]

   If a picture is worth a thousand words, does one lose points if all 1,000 are "Duh?"


April 26, 2003 - The Buffoon-alo Bills
   • No good can ever come from eating so much Chinese food, you feel as though leaning forward and opening your mouth would cause large, partially digested chunks of General Tso's Chicken to start falling out of your body.

   And to think it could have been ever worse had I not ordered Vegetable Chow Mein, when I really wanted Vegetable Lo Mein. If there was really any nutritional value to the vegetables in said dish, damn if I want to be healthy that badly.

   At least I think so. Chinese is available pretty much everywhere, yet there's no real uniformity to it. I got a cup of soup with a gigantic green ball of cabbage whose smell made my jaw lock. Vodka and cabbage ... a select group to say the least.


April 25, 2003 - The Bad Ill
   I normally try to keep this site a Quiz-Free Zone, since most online quizzes are extremely, stupifyingly and painfully STUPID, but I consider this one a gauntlet I wish to throw down.


-- My 71 (of 100) defeats the "Spoon Gagger" scores of Alison and Todd, neither of whom could even crack 50. And yet, I know there are readers out there for whom 90 would be a disappointment. So, humble me.

   Between this quiz, A Flock of Seagulls and VH1's VH1's I Love The 80s being on a consistent 1 a.m. rotation, I'm on an 1980s nostalgia kick that I haven't experienced since ... well, since Grand Theft Auto Vice City. But it seems a lot longer.


   • So there he was, at the age of 19, leaning against a $50,000 Hummer H2. He'd just given a press conference where he'd, among other things, announced that he would soon have a Web site whose address was no more than his name. I'd hazard to say it's a name everybody knows, but given how much trouble that got me with Ted Williams, I'll skip that step.

   There's probably a very multi-layered reason why, flying toward jealousy and making sure to hit the fact that his mother wears one pant leg rolled up like she was some sort of gansta, but I'm really hoping something awful happens to LeBron James. Well, that's probably the wrong way to put it ... I certainly don't really wish ill upon him. But there's just something about a high school kid holding a press conference in his gym to announce the obvious, then going outside and getting in his Hummer, that can't sit well with anyone possessing in excess of half a brain.

   The problem isn't so much with LeBron James as it is with the people after him who will think the hype surrounding LeBron James is acceptable and normal. He will, in all likelihood, go on to have a stellar NBA career. Not necessarily a legendary one, but a lot of things would have to happen for him to be less than a serviceable pro. And other high school kids will see that success, and think they can do the same.

   What's sad to me is that LeBron really is the solution to what's happened to college basketball. Everybody complains that college athletes are a sham, since many wouldn't have the stuff to get into schools of even half the prestige of those they attend. So the solution becomes just don't go ... go straight from high school to the professional ranks. We should be thanking him for not taking up an admission spot at a university somewhere in America.

   And yet, all I can think is you can't fault him for taking all the money they're foisting his way, and that the NBA is closer to moving the declaration age younger, instead of older.

   And on this the eve of the NFL Draft, is there any greater insurance that Carson Palmer will be a bust than that the Cincinnati Bengals made him the No. 1 pick? Who else would you expect to go big with a quarterback who had three lackluster seasons in college? And what else can you expect from a team with no surrounding system short of a good running back?

   And I quote: "Palmer has one thing in his favor: Lewis understands the importance of bringing a young quarterback along slowly. Plus, Lewis needs to win right away, so he'll let veteran Jon Kitna run the offense this season, with Smith currently in line as the backup."

   Egad.


April 24, 2003 - Needs More Veiled Memphis References
   Today's Quote Ripped Completely Out Of Context:

"Anybody that does that has issues."
-- Red Lion (Pa.) Borough Police Chief Walt Hughes after a student, using two guns, shot his principal in the chest and himself in the head.

   It's moments like these that make me happy I'm not an everyday reporter, because had I actually been at this press briefing, my follow-up would have consisted of catching, "Well, no shit!" right before it left my throat.


   • You know you're on the road for a good day at work when, before you've even taken off your jacket, you're chastized for being late and your (failed) attempt to update the previous day's sports cover with the complete Red Sox game story, and then within the next 10 minutes, you break your computer.

   How's that for a lede, my Grammar Gestapo? And I do say that with more than a modicum of respect and thanks.

   But things always look up, especially since everyone else's computers (almost) have gigantic monitors.

In 4-3 Vote, Von Ertfelda Survives
By Jon Couture, Standard-Times staff writer

   Although the pair of tribes were combined into one several weeks ago, two distinct factions have formed in the final race for the $1 million prize on CBS's 'Survivor.' So it’s no surprise that the game’s lone double agent held all the cards in last night's episode.

   The surprise came when Dartmouth-raised Matthew Von Ertfelda earned a place in the show's final six.

   Mr. Von Ertfelda narrowly escaped another tribal council when Rob Cesternino, who had won the week's immunity challenge, chose to vote off 32-year-old Alex Bell, a triathlon trainer from Los Angeles with whom Mr. Cesternino had allied with since the game’s opening days.

   The breaking point may have come when Mr. Bell told Mr. Cesternino that when their alliance, which included gym teacher Heidi Strobel and swimwear model Jenna Morasca, made the show's last four, he would vote off Mr. Cesternino if it was necessary to win.

   Mr. Von Ertfelda, principal Butch Lockley and adventure guide Christy Smith were only too happy to help vote off the leader of their main competition for the final four.

   Of Mr. Bell, Mr. Von Ertfelda said, "You crossed me once, I forgave you. You crossed me twice, I offered reconciliation. Your reign is over."

   In the show’s reward challenge -- an auction for food and letters from loved ones -- Mr. Von Ertfelda spent $400 of his $500 budget on a mystery item, which turned out to be a cheeseburger and fries.

   He finished second in the night's immunity challenge, where each cast member filled out a private personality questionnaire and then had to guess the most popular answers.

   One of the answers he guessed correctly was that his tribemates thought he was the one most in need of therapy.


   Eh, what the hell. I like spending the day after writing about how little play the S-T gets here talking about nothing but things that somehow refer to the S-T. It's fan mail time!

Subject: "Marathon Day"
Date: Tue, 22 Apr 2003
From: <____@aol.com>
To: jcouture@s-t.com

   [Name of one of my coworkers] here. I can't believe I actually covered the Marathon about six times.

One time, at band camp (just kidding), when I worked in Rhode Island, I took a house camera and tried to shoot every local runner (from the side, not the bridge) as they approached the finish. When I finally paused from moving the camera back and forth after about 45 minutes, the whole block of buildings started shifting to the right.

At least I got the 100th Anniversary jacket out of it, which I gave away to a long-gone girlfriend (not "2001 overweight 'Where do you think?'" girl, thank god).

I've been wanting to get to Fenway, and now I'm having second thoughts about that, too.
-- Sure, he works with me. But it counts!

Subject: "Strictly Complimentary"
Date: Tue, 22 Apr 2003
From: <____@yahoo.com>
To: jcouture@s-t.com

   Hey Jon,

I just started reading the Standard-Times and I wanted to tell you that I enjoyed your Patriots Day article today. Nicely done.

and happily i count myself amongst those who drink the quarter inch of beer off the top of the cup before returning to my seat.

Cheers,
Brian ______
-- Not only do I have fans, they're smart fans!

   And the best part of my being late to work? It was because I'd been drawn in by VH1's I Love The 80s - 1986. Which also aired at 1 a.m. Friday morning, thus meaning when I turned on my TV after work ... it's like owning an invisible TiVo.


April 23, 2003 - Nope, No One Noticed
   Absolutely Meaningless Fact: "I Ran (So Far Away)," the 1982 hit for A Flock Of Seagulls, opens with a 1:32 instrumental, most prominently featuring a synthesizer made to sound like ... a flock of seagulls.

   So what I'm wondering is do all their songs feature such an instrumental, since all are done by A Flock Of Seagulls, or did they figure out that it would be their only big hit, and decide to just blow their musical load?

   And to think I'm having the most successful post-college career of Charlie's friends.

   Slightly Less Meaningless Quote Taken Completely Out Of Context:

"Relatives said Christian lived alone until she turned 102 and refused to be taken in by family members. She indulged cravings for Kentucky Fried Chicken and Hostess Twinkies as long as she was able, they said."
-- The death of this 113-year-old has led me to the alarming discovery that humans can reach an age where even consuming Twinkies becomes impossible.

   • As (someone pretending to be) a journalist, it seems like this story would be worth commenting on, especially since it was printed out and sitting in the S-T newsroom.

"Hartford Courant editor Brian Toolan has told Denis Horgan to stop his denishorgan.com postings. Horgan says in his final entry: 'Despite the fact that this page is operated on my own time and at my own expense, that it does not compete with the newspaper or draw upon any of its resources, the editor has ruled that its operation is a conflict of interest.'"

   Looking around DenisHorgan.com, I was left to wonder just why a guy with seemingly strong credentials lost his column in the first place. This is what I found:

   • "Horgan was a senior producer at ESPN Radio until the network searched through some of its employees old e-mails and fired him and 3 of his pals for exchanging messages with vulgar content."

   • Horgan started his new Web site when his Courant column was taken away, as explained in this Hartford Advocate article.

   • Horgan's column got the deep six in February, something Horgan wasn't happy about. There was never any real reason for why Horgan got the axe, though the Advocate theorizes a connection to the Courant trying to drop 400 editorial pages a year. So who's guessing he pissed somebody off?

   It's not surprising that in Horgan's comment section, there's a number of people citing his First Amendment right to whatever he wants.

   And Horgan has made it clear that his site is written completely independent of the Courant. But when you spent the better part of two decades writing for a paper, there's going to be an everlasting connection between what you say and the paper that employed you, or in this case, continues to employ you in another context.

   Though the Web has a way of attracting readers from areas not traditionally connected to something like the Courant, it's a pretty good bet everyone who was reading what Horgan had to say got there via his work in the Courant. That's where he made his name, up until this story anyway. And the fact remains that something he did ticked somebody off in the corporate office, and they can do without the headache. If he was that valuable as a columnist to the paper, he'd still be writing opinion pieces for them.

   I'd be lying if I didn't say stories like this make me think about my own situation. Were I ever to become a full-time news reporter, I'd have to do a lot more editing of what I had to say here, since this site could not so much serve as a conflict of interest, but show my paper's readers my own personal biases.

   I've never given much thought to what I would do if my employer ever asked me to end this site as it currently exists -- there's no thought needed, as I need to eat and really don't relish going out into a bad job market again. But by the same hand I really don't think what I do here is something anyone would ever have to worry about, as I keep the connection to the S-T played at a level relative to its importance in what I say here. And when I'm leading a day talking about A Flock Of Seagulls ... you get the point.

   But in an S-T related factoid, the FOUR columns I'll be submitting to the NEAPNEA Column Contest will actually be the top four vote getters - All Signs Point To A Troubled Game, The Upside Of Becoming A Revs Fan, Taking A Stand Is Something To Be Admired and It's Not Just About Funny Shoes Anymore. I may also include A Fight Not Worth Waging, but I'm going to talk to the sports folks before I up my submission numbers past the amount of labels I was given.


   All this said, I think it's a boneheaded and heavy-handed move by the Courant's corporate masters, who as best as I can tell reside here. Considering their flagship paper essentially started a Chicago Metro to relate to the youth of the city, this isn't the first time fledgling technologies have shown them out of touch.


April 22, 2003 - Let's See If Anyone Notices
   In College Basketball News: In a move to relegitimize a program that has fallen on hard times, the UMass Minutemen men's basketball team is attempting to set up a special game against a national power for their 2003-04 schedule.

   Coming soon to the Springfield Civic Center, the UMass Minutemen against the now Amherst-fused Harlem Globetrotters. Trust me, even if The Republican doesn't like to publish the actual stories in their paper on-line.

   Not to be outdone, Boston University will have a new opponent to face this season. Joining America East in 2003 will be renowned basketball power Maryland ... Baltimore County. If nothing else, the conference's dog count will go up, as UMBC plays games as the Retrievers.

   Like Golden Retrievers. But hey, at least they're not NYU, who use a cat where a flower would really be appropriate.


   • In the interest of full disclosure, this is how the NHL First Round playoff series ended after seven of the eight higher seeds lost their Game One.

#1 Ottawa 4, #8 N.Y. Islanders 1
#1 Dallas 4, #8 Edmonton 2

#2 New Jersey 4, #7 Boston 1
#7 Anaheim 4, #2 Detroit 0

#3 Tampa Bay 4, #6 Washington 2
#6 Minnesota 4, #3 Colorado 3

#4 Philadelphia 4, #5 Toronto 3
#4 Vancouver 4, #5 St. Louis 3

   So for only the second time in their eight-year history, Colorado takes a seat after the first round. I'd like to believe this is cosmic punishment for trading away BU's patron saint, but I care too little about hockey to do a major analysis.

   Instead I'll just continue to marvel at the fervor over Iraq cards. And to comment on the rest of that page, I'm not hoping a new Janeane Garofalo sitcom stays off the air because she's an anti-war protester, I'm hoping a new Janeane Garofalo sitcom stays off the air because she's one of the most profoundly not funny people of our generation.


April 21, 2003 - Down In Front!
   Adventures in Love: Meg was bored at the Free Press last night, so she started sending text messages to people to pass the time. Mine was the following:

"Stuck at the Freep waiting for a friggin photo for over 90 minutes now. This sucks."

   Nice to have her think of me, isn't it? Course, I happened to also see the one she sent to my good friend Charlie:

"Let's have children."

   Welcome to the world in which I live.

Eyes Of A Nation Turn To Boston
-- So my editor said, "Why don't you write something like you do on your Web site?" I said, "Thank goodness I sat near stupid people."

   • Today I thought of a Barker-like contest we'll be playing on the site during the upcoming football season. But today was a baseball day, one that would have been much better if I'd been smart enough to bet $1,000 on a game I never doubted the Red Sox would lose.

   Regardless, Boston managed to keep things interesting in a game they trailed 7-0. Even down 10-6, they're a team with enough offensive power to make you think they could come back. And despite what the column reads like, I actually did manage to have a good time, even though the entire episode was a walking motivational tool for me to try to secure press credentials to games.

   It's an amazing phenomenon that once beer stops being sold (after the seventh), the aisles magically clear and everyone starts watching the baseball game. I've got no problem with people smoking dope in the stands, no problem with knocking around beach balls or chatting with your friends. But the reason I came to the ballpark was to watch the game you're choosing to ignore.

   This is the kind of thing I'll cuss a blue streak about, especially since the most important thing to the people sitting in the bleachers seemed to be drinking watered down $5 beer as fast as possible. And I didn't even put in the column how little-fatty Marathon Girl sitting in front of me spent the whole day waving a mini flag around, telling everyone who'd listen that "I love America!"

   When the four of them left, two of those little flags were left to sit in the peanut shells and spilled beer pooled on the ground.


   Last three notes on the game, I promise:

   • They really don't have any loudspeakers in the bleachers. It's one of those little things you don't think would be that important, but try watching a game without anyone announcing the hitters or without any between-inning organ. It's a very odd phenomenon I hope is remedied by June 28 at 7:05 p.m.

   • Dan Shaughnessy apparently watched the game from the Monster Seats. Aside from him not getting to experience just what drives the day in the bleachers, I consider this a challenge to me as a professional.

   • The right side of my face and neck is pristine, while the left side is a good match for the Red Sox new red jerseys. I look like I fell asleep on the beach.

   Tuesday, we make my final picks for the NEAPNEA Column Contest, so last arguments would be appropriate.


April 20, 2003 - Just About Ready To Taste More Green
   Leading tonight's broadcast, I'm horrifically untoned and out of shape. But at least I didn't write the Boston.com Second Chance Personal Of The Day.

Bruin up a romance at the Fleet Center
"I saw you at the Bruins game. You had a Bruins jersey on with a player's name on the back. You were in line getting a beer and a hot dog. I wanted to get up the nerve to approach you but I didn't. Send me an e-mail if you want
to take this to a higher level!"
doubtingthomas@jesusanswers.com

   I can't quite put my finger on just what is so captivating about this one, since really all of the Second Chance Personals are comedic gold. Is it:

   1) The fact that the description of "Bruins jersey with name on back, getting beer and hot dog" leaves roughly half of the males at the average Bruins game in play?;

   2) The impression that this guy and girl never even made eye contact, thus making the possibility of the right guy responding as close to zero as one can possibly be without being zero?;

   or 3) The fact that the e-mail handle of "doubtingthomas" means that this person doesn't really believe this sort of match-up service can work, and will blame this failing on the nature of the service, rather than the nature of the write-up?

   Sure, the third one is a stretch. But that doesn't change that these things are like crack-flavored Lays potato chips.


   • Cory Lidle vs. John Burkett on the day after a tremendous comeback that sent a six-game winning streak to seven.

   I really don't have a good feeling about this.


April 19, 2003 - You Can Really Taste The Green
   No one new voted in the Column Contest today. I'm disappointed in all of you.

   I, however, am not disappointed in the Boston Celtics and Phoenix Suns, who may in one day have sold me on the NBA again. With about 40 seconds to go in today's Game One at Conseco Fieldhouse, Paul Pierce managed to synopsize the entire Boston Celtics season in one fell possession.

   With the C's down 97-96, Pierce took an inbound pass, dribbled twice and, in a situation where most teams would have run some clock and pushes inside for a two or a foul, lofted a three with a guy in his face.

   Today, it went in, forcing every sportscaster in America to spew some sort of "The Celtics steal Game One over Indiana" at the lead of their nightly recaps.

   At least until the Suns did them one better.


   • Times change, and people change. Thus this is now how we read my vaunted and well-documented Pantheon of Colored Drinks:

   4) Pepsi Blue - Every time I go into a store and see Pepsi Blue continuing to exist on a rack, in some cases alarmingly packaged in 2-liter bottles, my faith in both my country and the human race dips a little lower.

   3) Jolt White Lightnin' - I've never had it, but how could it possibly be any worse than Pepsi Blue.

   2) Mountain Dew: Code Red - There are few flavors in this world better than that of a cherry, and one of them is fake cherry. Being half Mountain Dew, half fake cherry is a hard combo to beat.

   1) dnL - But the melony mix does it. Sure, the name's a little poseury, considering all they did was flip "7up" upside-down. Maybe I just see something the color of Midori and tune out my brain to disagreeing sensory stimulus. That said, I think I'm in love ... even if it did get a little too sickly sweet at the bottom of the bottle.

   Jurassic, it's for you.


April 18, 2003 - In The Shadow Of Blubber
   Anytime you feel down, or maybe have had your teeth scraped a little too hard by a local dental hygenist, just remind yourself that there's a special circle of hell reserved who people who commit the crimes that Scott Peterson is accused of.

   But really, when you're being shown how to properly floss your teeth, is it good for the practitioner demonstrating in your mouth to be drawing blood?

   Regardless, big shout-out to my new dentist, J. Schwei, and his excellent hygenist. And to my lower left wisdom tooth, which is currently growing sideways below my gumline.


   • Really, Whale City isn't that far away from being somewhere special. The problem is the special thing is a complete and utter mystery to me.

   Making good use of a nice day, and having a mouth so clean the gaps between my teeth feel errant in their cleanliness, I wandered Whale City for a good portion of the afternoon. Logic being when you usually don't shower until 5 p.m., anything short of a mugging is all gravy.

   The New Bedford Historic District looks straight out of 1740, right down to cobblestone streets. It's the kind of area that kicked 60 miles east would make a hell of a Cape Cod resort town. There's lots of little eateries, art shops, restored buildings ... and then you go a block away, and it's all deserted buildings.

   Well, that's a lie. Some have shit shops like Brooks Pharmacy and the "Circus of Values" Dollar Store in them. And they say vacant lots don't have any charm.

   The thing that struck me walking around downtown was how close it was to being a hell of a place to visit. The kind that people come from miles around to go to ... like the places on the Cape. Problem being I can't for the life of me figure out just what would tie together all those little eateries and easy-t-trip-on cobblestones.

Favorite Column Contest
All Signs Point To A Troubled Game - Three
The Upside Of Becoming A Revs Fan - Two
Taking A Stand Is Something To Be Admired - Two
It's Not Just About Funny Shoes Anymore - One
Bracket Busted - One
A Fight Not Worth Waging - One

Keep voting, you lazy bastards!


April 17, 2003 - And Eleven Will Be Thirteen
   Today's Quote Ripped Completely Out Of Context:

"If you don't like your culture or your cultural history, make something up. I am not telling you to lie, but I am telling you that you can become anything you desire."
-- The Real World San Francisco's Mohammed Bilal, who had earlier told kids at the New Bedford Youth Summit that he had a friend who'd once willed himself to grow 11 inches in a year.

   In his defense, Mohammed also said this:

"Try to imagine every bad experience that you had in middle school, that you are having in high school, and multiply it threefold. That's what it's like in the real world without an education."

   I just wonder if he fielded any questions about Puck.


   • At press time, here stands the voting in The Great Column Race:


   I've written 37 items for the Standard-Times sports pages so far, 35 of which are actual columns and listed here. It's a little hard for me to pick my favorites out, since there's something in nearly all of them that I like, but here's an attempt.

All Signs Point To A Troubled Game
-- I had a strong idea, and I felt like it translated really well to paper. Plus it seemed to forward a viewpoint that not a lot of people were putting out then.


A Fight Not Worth Waging
-- Don't really think it's among my very best, but I feel like I made the best arguments on the Martha Burk topic the first time I wrote about it.


The Upside Of Becoming A Revs Fan
-- I wrote the joke and everybody got it. The fact that I wrote this at the start of the Revs run, well before they drew 61,000 fans? All the better.


Adorable Angels Worth Rooting For
-- Like the Burk piece, it's probably not a top three. But I do like the tie-in of the Angels before they bacame the nation's baseball darlings.


Pining For Drew Doesn't Do Much Good
-- It's more the timing that I like, written and published before the start of the crush of the press corps on the story. But it's a bad pick for the contest.


What's Really Important? Real Life.
-- It's hard to say whether or not I pulled off just what I was going for. But at the very least, I think I said something that should have been said.


It's Not Just About Funny Shoes Anymore
-- As Sly said, it's a different enough piece that it stands out from the mass of what's been written out there. Especially during football season.


It's The Best Versus The Best
-- I like the analysis aspect of this Super Bowl piece, especially since when it was written, most everyone thought that the Raiders would romp.


Taking A Stand Is Something To Be Admired
-- There's no way I couldn't list this, given how strongly people reacted to it. Plus I think it's really well written, at least as my stuff goes.


Role Players Do The Job For Sox
-- I like the methods I used to write this, and I like the way it came out, but I just don't feel like there's enough to it to put it in a top three.

   Should any of you have further insight, that's what the comments widget is for.


April 16, 2003 - When Four Weeks Becomes Eleven
   Part of an irregular series, it's the Picture Of The Moment:

Piazza's Tag
-- Is it even worth verbalizing the homoerotic butt plug joke?

Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Kenny Lofton successfully knocks the ball out of New York Mets catcher
Mike Piazza's glove during the Pirates' 6-3 win at PNC Park on Wednesday. (AP Photo)

   Not To Belabor The Point, But: The Mighty Ducks of ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA, playing across the highway from the reigning champions of baseball, tonight completed a sweep of the DETROIT RED WINGS. The Stanley Cup champion, a member of the Original Six, was beaten four times in a row by a team based on three Emilio Estevez movies and in a place where a half-inch of ice hasn't formed naturally since 1361.

   And, you know, I loved every freakin minute of it.


   • Dear audience, all forty of you, I need your help.

   The New England AP each year hands out awards for the best in New England newspapers, and as The Standard-Times meets both those requirements, our paper is aggressively attempting to win every award in our category -- "Papers Better Than The Fall River Herald News."

   Each staffer is being required to pick out the best of their work, be it design, writing or photography. Given I dance on both sides of the line, I'm requesting the help of the people who theoretically read the column on a weekly basis to help me choose which of my 37 are the best.

   There's no guarantees the paper will choose to submit any of my work to NEAPNEA for the contest, as only three columns can be sent for the whole paper. But I plan on giving them three to chew on, and as there's a whole non-local sports category, I'd say there's a pretty good chance I'll get at least one nod.

   So if you would, here's the list. Tomorrow, when it's not 3:30 a.m., I'll go over the stuff that I've done and the ones that are my favorites, so that by the start of next week, we can have three picked out to untimately be rejected by a jury of my peers.

   Viva rejection!


April 15, 2003 - The Search For More Money
   Philpy's Point: Over the weekend, Michael told me that the first NCAA Tournament game he ever saw, given he's from Indiana, was the 1987 3-vs.-14 tilt of Purdue against Northeastern. Turns out Northeastern has made the NCAAs seven times as the winner of the America East, include a run of six trips in seven years between 1981 and 1987. Three times, they even won their first round game.

   So apparently, there's not so much a team that doesn't belong in the NCAAs.

   Since 1987, however, BU has been four times to Northeastern's one, and BU was the streak stopper in 1983. Course, the Terriers' losing margin in their five trips have gotten progressively worse -- 12 to LaSalle in '83, 16 to Duke in 1988, 24 to UConn in 1990, 29 to Tulsa in 1997, and 38 to Cincinnati in 2002.


   • If I had a "Too Much Information" section, it would include entries like this:

   "You really don't know how comfortable boxer shorts are, and how smart a switch they are to make, until you're forced to go outside and sweat in briefs because you don't want to sully the last clean pair of boxers that you have with you. It's like the difference between taking a bath, and just wallowing in your own filth, and taking a shower, which is what the big people do."

   These are the things that happen when the news story of the day that aggravates me the most was ESPN's buying coverage of Wimbledon for the next four years, which led me to believe one of TV's greatest sports theme songs, NBC's "Breakfast at Wimbledon," would go the way of the dodo. Thankfully, I was wrong, as it'll only phase out HBO, which I don't get anyway.

   Someday, I bet I'll have real problems to worry about.


April 14, 2003 - Being Like Them
   Meg Quote Of The Day:

"Cactuses are cute."
-- I don't know how, but this will bite me in the ass in the future.

   Prose-tic Justice: The BU Crew team found a dead body in the Charles River tonight right across from campus. As there's been a CFA professor missing for the past several weeks, the factless speculation is what you would expect.

   Looking for inside information on the story, UPN 38 News contacted the major campus news source, the beloved DFP, for an on-air interview. As if taking a cue from their source, they then identified their interviewee as Daily Free Press reporter Stan Atkinson.

   [ Getting the joke may require registration to the DFP site, but odds are if you care, you've both already gotten it and are already laughing. For everyone else who doesn't want to register, the punchline involves what you'd expect from a paper that chooses to have sleep-deprived editors do proofreading instead of hiring a couple people as a copy staff. But no, I'm not bitter I never got any actual pull there or anything. And I'm sure they prefer to continue their promotion of "Ten errors an issue or your pizza's free!" ]


   • So I was all ready to talk about American Pie II and its clear, defined superiority over American Pie (I), while also mentioning that the first is not only an excellent film, but required to fully enjoy the second, until I then realized it was a run-on sentence. Plus, there's a good chance this site has been around long enough that I've already done it.

   Sign #1 This Site's Been Around Too Long: It has existed long enough for American Pie II to be the number one movie in America; win Teen Choice, MTV Movie, Canadian Comedy, and Bogey Awards; and appear on the Encore! network as some sort of new classic.

   So instead I got to thinking, as one often does after a quiz bowl tournament, about quiz bowl. Namely, I got to think about being "old" and playing on ... as there were at least two people at this weekend's TRASHionals who had eclipsed 40, one of whom did it when I was not just in high school, but probably when I was a sophomore in high school.

   If I remember right, this guy was on the Minnesota team that knocked my Allez Cuisine! team with Mike, Vito and Robin Duckworth out of title contention at TRASHionals 3 in Cleveland, though it's wholly possible I'm just combining him with other old quiz bowlers with whom I hold a grudge. That sixth-place finish was the closest we ever got to winning the championship belt, though at that point, the belt was theoretically around the waist of someone like Sabu or Shane Douglas.

   I never really had any intention of playing on much after I graduated from BU -- I assumed this year I'd be some sort of transitional figure, as you don't just go from three years of being the main face and organizational motor of a group to completely disappearing cold turkey. But this weekend figured to be a last last hurrah of sorts, as a good portion of the close friends I made within the club will now be going off to California, New York and who knows where else.

   Then I got to thinking about what Mark had said to me last April, in quite possibly my most hilarious journalistic endeavor to date.

   If you read from April 2002, you'll see BUCB made road trips to Chapel Hill, N.C., and Ann Arbor, Mich., on consecutive weekends for national championships. The first of those trips pretty much coincided with the time I had to do a 10-minute "final exam" for my Advanced Radio class, so I did a piece about the club traveling on to the NAQT Intercollegiate Championship.

   The option of doing a completely straight piece pretty much ended when it became clear three of my sources, being who they were, just planned on swearing in every interview they did. So, knowing the teacher and guestimating how she'd react to rampant "fuck"s played in her four-person class, I made no effort to clean up the language and ran the thing as it was.

   As such, I may be the first COM student in history to get an A on a broadcast piece that included the line, "And fuck their fucking asses!" I really need to get a mini disc player and find that project again.


   Anyway, I did an interview with Mark in our Chapel Hill hotel suite as everyone else was swearing at a broadcast of PBS's Zoom. I asked him why exactly, at the then-age of 33, had he stayed with the club for so long, given that by that point, he'd even stopped working for BU.

   He explained that he'd never intended on staying that long, but that as time went on, he'd become friends with some club members, then planned to stay on until they graduated, only to become friends with more members, stay on until they graduated, and on and on and on.

   While I don't think I could ever stay connected as long as he has, since I think I'd reach a point where I'd get too self-conscious about the age difference, I definitely do see myself staying at least tangentially connected to the club after Vegas, given I think I'm still good enough at pop culture trivia to whip the little bastards' asses at will.

   And while I don't see anyone who can compete with the group who kept me there in the first place, most of whom now populate the Links page and took me in despite my young age and continued wearing of the stupid humongous round glasses, there are some people in the group now who it'd likely to be fun to watch turn into the jaded bastard I have become in my "old" age.

   Course for some of them, it'd actually be a step down in the jading, but who am I to name names?

An Odd Week At Augusta
-- Honestly, if I ever start doing this column for pay, I see myself evolving as the Pro Golf Correspondent for the S-T the same way Zach Rocha has become the paper's College Basketball writer. I have no plans to push this, given I enjoy the ability to write about anything, but I'm merely postulating.


April 11-13, 2003 - TRASHed
   There's a school of thought, backed up by tournament attendance statistics, that if Tiger Woods doesn't win your golf tournament (or play in it), that there's no excitement to be had. While The Masters is likely a notable exception anyway, all I know is I watched one hole of the 73 played live and it was the best tournament I've watched all year.

   Then again, I'm likely little more than a dirty, dirty racist.


   • They taught me in school that, despite my liking to do it, it's not generally a good thing to start a piece of writing with a quote. This paragraph is here for to appease that camp.

"He's good, but he's not that good."
-- BUCB player Erik Nielsen, winner of the Top Undergraduate award, announcing to the team on Wednesday night why I should not get to play in this weekend's TRASHionals event. *

   Should you not be a quizbowler, this is TRASHionals. The pop culture trivia national championship, with players from 18 to, as discovered this year, 47. In it's previous five year of existence, the championship has been held in Maryland; State College, Pa.; Cleveland; Chicago; and Ann Arbor, Mich.; so the natural next stop was Boston, since BU hosts 45% of all tournaments held on the "collegiate" quiz circuit.

   We are topped out as top host however, as UT-Chattanooga hosts a full 50%. The other 5% are hosted by schools on the West Coast, but since the "collegiate" quiz bowl world is based on very skewed assemblance of geography, our West Coast is Ann Arbor, Michigan.

FRIDAY

   TRASH is unique in that it begins its national championship with a Welcoming Party, since it is the format where most of the players consider drinking an actual activity to be accomplished during the weekend. BU decided to hold its Welcoming Party at Jillian's, since it is the place in the city that most thoroughly combines drinking and arcade games.

   Coming late, I feared I'd be unable to locate the quiz contingent in the large, three-story club, only to realize upon arriving that it would be easy to spot a quiz contingent in anything smaller than Wembley Stadium.

   At some point Saturday afternoon, someone came into the staff room trying to find a volunteer he needed to get a phone message to. He described the person he sought as having "short-ish hair" and being "heavyset," descriptions which, in a quizbowl context, leave about 85% of those involved still in contention.

   Friday was easier though, since all I had to do was find people with skin as pasty as mine and not wearing black ass pants and fancy cologne.


   Jillian's being Jillian's, I spent way too much money on shooting things, be they deer, baskets, darts and Sam Adams Light ... only the last of which failed to be satisfying.

SATURDAY

   There's something about a quiz tournament at BU that makes me feel innately responsible for it going well ... must be something about being the only Governor General to be stupid enough to take on a third straight year at the helm. But as usually happens, Saturday morning found me unable to sit quietly with the other alumni, as I ran around setting up buzzers and generally ensuring nothing awful befell the event.

   The whole day pretty much followed the course of every other tournament we run, other than the fact the best players in the country were here and I at no point had to swear at Elmer to get him to do something, as he wasn't there. It's at times like these when you find out the people who really do have the time and desire to devote themselves to the club -- the people who work and play in a tournament like this, even if they do have other things they could be doing, are the ones who make good officers and leaders.

   Course, given I was there, you don't really have to have other things you could be doing ... the tournament could be really the only worthwhile endeavor beyond couch sitting and Web site bitching on your schedule.

   TRASH is the only format, given the lack of constraints it has by games being played 20 tossups instead of to a time limit, where tossups and bonuses can be sometimes more than just words. Throughout the day there were a plethora of visual bonuses asking teams to identify the likes of baseball logos and Gremlins, audio bonuses requiring song and artist identification, even a physical challenge tossup where to be correct, a player had to pump his fist above their head while going "Woof! Woof! Woof!"

   The problem with these kind of questions an increased chance of technical glitches, like picking up a CD player that won't read the disc where a good portion of the required clues for these questions are located.

   While this can be problematic, I can now list my greatest moderating feat not as several times having completed all 28 tossups in a match with eight-minute halves, but in having whistled the theme to Night Court and having one of teams identifying it correctly.

SATURDAY NIGHT

   Went bowling with a good portion of the Posse from Agawam. Some things never change ... though I've never before had to drop them off in South Boston, Roxbury and Somerville respectively. And candlepin is much harder to come by in Western Massachusetts, oddly enough.

SUNDAY

   Being one of just three moderators assigned to read in the top bracket, where the six teams vying for the overall tournament championship would battle over four rounds, both proved that I've finally achieved the level of moderator recognition I think I've always deserved and that good friend Mark Coen was the guy who made the day's moderator assignments.

   And for the sake of brevity Re:The Tournament, suffice to say if the intercollegiate quiz circuit ceases to exist sometime between now and July's Viva TRASH Vegas, its pinnacle came when Oklahoma's Dave Murphy earned 15 points by playing Dance Dance Revolution in front of a crowded auditorium.

   A close second, however, would have to be the waitress of our post-tournament lunch chasing us into the street because we'd wrongly assumed the tip of our 10-person, $196+ meal was included in the bill. We're bastards, but not quite that bad.

NOW

   After not checking my e-mail since about 5 p.m. on Friday afternoon, I have 53 messages in my cooch at joncouture dot com account.

   Nine have something to do with getting me off sexually via pornography.

   Eight somehow involve increasing the size of my cock, penis or "love stick."

   Seven involve making more money, be it through great mortgage rates or eBay.

   Six have special things for me to buy. Three of the six deal with modern art.

   Four have legit info that could be useful to me in the future, but not now.

   Three are comments on Friday's entry, which was wrongheaded to begin with.

   Three tell me there are easy ways that I could lose unwanted pounds.

   Three want to help me safeguard my PC from viruses and the like.

   Three involve school, mostly through me buying a degree from the Caribbean.

   Two are trying to sell me life insurance, which I already have through my job.

   Two are free betting money at online casinos I've never been to.

   Two are actually from friends of mine, but are info whose usefulness is past.

   Those with good math skills see those numbers add up to just 52. The 53rd message? Subject line: "Does someone keep filling Joncooch's inbox with spam?"

[Note: I continue to blow Erik's quote out of proportion both because I think it's hilarious and because Erik certainly didn't do this to keep the BU team eligible for a fourth-straight undergraduate team title, which they were beaten for anyway, as much as he did it to ensure my likely 20-odd ppg didn't keep him from winning the Top Undergraduate award. Having played on his teams for three years, I'm well aware he derives much more pleasure from winning himself than he ever would have from a team-related triumph. Thus, the fact that he's right is no defense.]


April 10, 2003 - Phar Phrom Phoenix
   You're damn right Kitten is the cutest thing you've ever seen. At this point, Mom is in the "I'm not going to admit we're keeping Kitten, because I'm hoping I can scare my son into illegally taking Kitten to ease his budding depression" phase. I am currently in the "It'd be cool to have Kitten, but I think she's better off in Feeding Hills" phase. At some point, these will cross in a magical Venn Diagram of life.

   Until then, we turn to prime-time TV.

'Survivor' Contestant Gulps Bugs For Glory
By Jon Couture, Standard-Times staff writer

   Dartmouth-raised 'Survivor' contestant Matthew Von Ertfelda graduated with honors from the esteemed L'Ecole de Gastronomie Française Ritz-Escoffier culinary academy in Paris, and spent a period of time working as a chef's apprentice and cook in the City of Light.

   And while it isn't likely a lot of coconut worms and 4-inch-long, live tree trunk grubs found their way into his dishes, it was his ability to eat them without blinking that might be the turning point in his run for the $1 million prize.

   Mr. Von Ertfelda won the immunity necklace in last night's episode, saving him from what looked to be sure elimination, and meant 35-year-old Deena Bennett, a deputy district attorney from Riverside, Calif., became the ninth contestant voted off the show.

   Mrs. Bennett had become the most powerful female on the show in recent weeks, and had made clear she intented to vote Mr. Von Ertfelda off, seeing him as a threat to her authority.

   Mrs. Bennett and Mr. Von Ertfelda were the final two contestants in the night’s immunity challenge, a race to see who could finish a four-course meal of a 6-inch grasshoppers, 10 coconut worms, four baked dung beetles and the live trunk beetle first. Mr. Von Ertfelda won immunity when, after Mrs. Bennett stepped away from her final morsel, he swallowed his whole.

   "Immunity was absolutely essential this week," Mr. Von Ertfelda said. "Knowing what I know, it was absolutely essential."

   Before the vote, castmate Rob Cesternino maintained Mr. Von Ertfelda is "on the outside looking in, power-wise." This despite earlier efforts by Mr. Von Ertfelda to form an alliance between the remaining men, who now outnumber the women 4-3.


   • If you were a gutsy underdog bettor, and I happen to know you're not, you could have made a killing in the NHL these past two days:

NHL PLAYOFFS - Round One

#8 N.Y. Islanders 3, #1 Ottawa 0
#8 Edmonton 2, #1 Ottawa 1

#7 Anaheim 2, #2 Detroit 1 (OT)

#6 Washington 3, #3 Tampa Bay 0
#6 Minnesota 4, #3 Colorado 2

#5 Toronto 5, #4 Philadelphia 3
#5 St. Louis 6, #4 Vancouver 0

   Course, no system is perfect:

#2 New Jersey 2, #7 Boston 1

   I'll be in Boston for the next few days not answering quiz questions ... seems the team adviser doesn't feel I'm attached to the university anymore despite the fact I've attended more BUCB tournaments this year than she has. Regardless, the updates for Friday, Saturday and Sunday will all be written at a time that's none of those three, and will surely be full of me being pissed off about having to read at the one event I could help the BU team win a title at.

   Plus we'll probably take Damascus over the weekend, which should confuse me good. Til then, enjoy laughs aplenty!

Back room at La Boom in The Alley
We met last Saturday. Our eyes locked immediately. We spent the night dancing away. What an excellent limbo partner you make. Did I do something wrong? Is my phone broken? I could have sworn that I gave you my number after breakfast.
I miss you, peach.
-- What strikes me the most about "Second Chances" is not the completely pathetic nature of most of them, but the fact that I'm one Meg move to California from becoming their biggest consumer.


April 9, 2003 - Sweetness And Statues
   Fact Weaned From Site Of Brick Barrientos, New QB Link: Saddam Hussein is an honorary citizen of Detroit, Mich. This is no doubt a point of great civic pride, in much the same way that my calling the city "a God forsaken craphole" and Mark Coen calling Delaware "one long ass rape" must have been to those locales.

   In an unrelated (and unreligious) note, I have decided to attempt to phase out swearing -- not just in my writing, but in my behavior altogether. I fully accept that this quest can not possibly be successful, but at the very least I hope to stop using "f___" as a 10-times-a-day interjection.

   And let me just say, if you ever wonder what compels me to write here every day, it's because of the ability to go back and read quotes like this:

"I guess what I'm getting at is when I say no fewer than four of my friends went to see Dave Matthews Band at the FleetCenter last night, that gagging sound you hear coming from my throat isn't a personal indictment, just my way of saying I've spent my last dollars paying to see that chunky, pot-smoking fruit loop dance around while everyone else gets a contact high."
-- April 8, 2002. Me, attempting to apologize for offending people.

   • When you work in news, the days that you work, you know things. Depending on what you're working on that night, you may know everything. The downside to this is on the days when you don't work ... those are the days when you feel like knowing nothing.

   When I went home Sunday, we were in a war. When I woke up Wednesday we were still in a war, but we're ripping down a statue in the center of Baghdad and the Iraqis are setting stuff on fire.

   I feel like my textbook is missing a few dozen chapters.

   So on this day when Peter Jennings apparently commiserated with Iraqi statue makers and Tom Brokaw recited part of Humpty Dumpty, these will be the things I remember:

   1) Waking up and reading the following on Boston.com:

"Invading US soldiers today captured control of Baghdad, Iraq's capital city and heart of Saddam Hussein's power, bringing thousands of cheering Iraqis into the streets for the first time since US and British forces launched the war 22 days ago."
-- Let me reiterate that. TWENTY-TWO DAYS. That just defies logic to me.

   2) The S-T's response:

"Hours after jubilant crowds swarmed into the streets of Baghdad yesterday and danced on a toppled statue of Saddam Hussein, several mall shoppers said they're doubtful the world has seen the last of the Iraqi dictator."
-- Welcome to the world of local news. This really is the best we could do.

   3) The Gulf War chaplain and 20-year Navy vet speaks:

"I really do find myself wanting to be there," he said. "Not for the killing and the horror of war, but for everything else."
-- I know what he's saying, but I like tuna fish, except for the taste and texture.

   And the scenes of Iraqis celebrating, no matter why George W. Bush is really fighting this war, are the kinds of images that should bring a cheer from even the most fervent anti-war protester.

   Now, the pictures of the kitten!


-- I realize there was no segue to this.


-- But come on ... this was a stray kitten!


-- And there's a video!


April 8, 2003 - Flakes Are Still Falling
   So if a Web site based in Costa Rica, which I only read because its sports betting forums are of the highest hilarity, puts "Our thoughts and prayers are with our nation's POWs & MIAs and their families," am I supposed to be impressed that they care, not really give it a second thought or wonder just how involved Latin America is in the war on terror?

   The Advantages Of Knowing Smart People: Ivy-educated and all-around good guy Michael Philpy pointed out to me that the Arabic in Sunday's Picture Of The Moment translates as "to be aware, cautious or careful."

   Guess Allah is at least willing to give a warning before vaporizing a deserter.

Role Players Do The Job For Sox
-- After all my complaints, it sits online on Tuesday night. Wish I'd figured that out before I did the stat update by hand at 10:30 tonight. Regardless, read it.

   • With their win tonight, it makes it four national championships in UConn's 10-year run to the pinnacle of women's college basketball. They've also become the new de-facto team for Western Massachusetts, replacing the UMass men, despite the fact that they've seemed primed for a fall throughout this entire tournament run.

   Something about losing only once in your last 77 games that has that effect.

   UConn made tournaments before they first claimed a No. 1 seed in 1994, even making the Final Four in 1991 as a 4 seed, but missing the dance in 1993 means they're on just a 10-year streak. UMass, however, had no such prior dance card, really. Their seven-year run was quite succinct -- there was no dancing in the prior 90s, nor has there been any in the following aughts (00s).

   Just because I like to wallow:

1992: #3 Seed - Beat Fordham, Syracuse; Lost to Kentucky in Sweet 16
The infamous Lenny Wirtz technical game, prevented Duke-UMass in Elite 8.

1993: #3 Seed - Beat Penn; Lost to Virginia in Second Round
I have no recollection of these games.

1994: Midwest #2 Seed - Beat SW Texas St.; Lost to Maryland in Second Round
Joe Smith beats UMass by himself on a weekend afternoon.

1995: #2 Seed - Beat St. Peter's, Stanford, Tulsa; Lost to Oklahoma St. in Elite 8
Bryant Reeves made Harvard-ite Matt Bruce very happy, I assume.

1996: #1 Seed - Beat Cent. Fla., Stanford, Arkansas, Georgetown; Lost to Kentucky
The high water mark, since erased from the record books thanks to Marcus Camby. Started the season 26-0, lost first game ever in the Mullins Center, won fifth-straight A-10, made the Final Four, lost to Kentucky AGAIN.

1997: #11 Seed - Lost to Louisville

1998: South #7 Seed - Lost to St. Louis

1999: Went 14-16.

   And that was it. A 16-loss UMass team went to the NIT in 2000, where they lost to perennial power Siena in the first round, but other than that, there's been no other postseasons. I've gone on to care about BU basketball, even if they'll never win a tournament game or continue to play in a conference that barely deserves the tournament berth it might end up losing.

   Pointless Aside: In 1991, Northeastern was in the NCAA tournament, losing as a 16 seed to North Carolina, 101-66. It's not a fair thing to say, but I can't envision a school like Northeastern playing in the NCAA tournament that same way I can BU.

   It's like the idea that American International College, one of the schools where a glut of Agawam High graduates end up, has a D-1 hockey team that could one day play BU in the NCAA Hockey tournament. They just aren't two schools that, in my mind, should ever compete equally on any level. One is the place that got me a job in journalism, the other is the place whose journalism conference I would cut out on to go to the mall.


   Having not mentioned Syracuse before now, let me say congrats to them for their victory over Kansas on Monday night. Seeing Jim Boeheim on Pardon the Interruption all season as a college basketball analyst ... I had a feeling something good was going to happen to him this year. And congrats to the UConn women, who I just can't find it in me to hate like the UConn men, who were too chickenshit to play UMass until Dec. 27, 1996 ... just past the point when UMass had a legitimate shot at beating them.

   Before that, Calhoun was too busy filling his schedule with non-conference matchups against Central Connecticut State.

   And lastly, congrats to the last undefeated team in the Major Leagues. This year's Anaheim Angels ... the Kansas City Royals. Somewhere in the midwest, those three kids who called Greg Zaun "Rat Boy" for three hours on 8/23/2001 are having a gleeful day at school.

[Most on the info in this update comes from UMassHoops.com, which is really quite good.]


April 7, 2003 - Damned Skater Bastards
   My column is being held until Wednesday's paper, the Red Sox picking up Pedro's option doesn't really fit with what I wrote out apparently -- which was not about Pedro's option at all. Seems the idea of running a thoroughly stat-referenced piece on the Red Sox on a day off, when all the stats would still be true at time of printing, makes too much [bleeping] sense.

   Regardless of the opinion of anyone, I will be updating the numbers myself, even if it means it can't be done until after 7 p.m. Tuesday. I'm angry enough that the column's value is already being diminished ... I'd to at least think it can be factually updated when it runs.

   And suffice to say, my anger stems from the fact that this is one of my favorite columns to date ... the kind of thing I haven't seen run in a big paper yet, and I can't figure out why.

   Should a column like it be printed Tuesday, I'd steer clear of me for the rest of the week.

   [ Cooch Note: None look to have, as the Pedro story and the bullpen continue to sweep the talk. Now I'm just agitated with having to update the whole thing with new numbers. But such is life. ]


   • Phone Booth was good without it, as was dinner and seeing someone I hadn't for more than a year. About A Boy was good on its own merits, but had to have been enhanced because of this substance. And for some reason, I had my first over 200 score in a game of Scrabble (with three players) in quite a long time while entranced by it.

   For ten points, what is this substance often used by Towelie that I first partook in tonight, which caused me a burning throat that was soothed by all the Ben & Jerry's and Fritos Flavor Twists?

   On the whole, I couldn't get over the feeling during the entire experience that I, well, didn't know how to inhale. It sounds like a stupid thing to say, and I am a stupid person, but when "doing it right" seemed to make my throat burn as though I was pouring scotch in an open wound, I was attempting to find new ways to inhale that kept me from being in pain.

   There was some effect -- I found myself a lot more giggly, but not so much unable to complete basic tasks -- so I must have been doing something right. There were no real munchies to speak of, even if I did eat more tonight than I do in the usual week. The ice cream and Fritos just seemed like the right thing to do really, especially since I was not in a Funyuns mood.

   And yes, I do have a Funyuns mood, though it seems to be going the way of my "go to Denny's and consume as many greasy potatoes and sausage pieces as possible at 2 a.m." mood.


April 6, 2003 - Cumby's Gave Me Gas, And I Paid
   Part of an irregular series, it's the Picture Of The Moment:

Soldier Sign
-- A soldier discovers a sign posted by Iraq's Dept. of Homeland Security.
[
Translation: Allah will see should you flee from battle, infidel. ]

Cpl. Zach Meyer of Curtis, Neb., of Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, stands watch near an
odd Iraqi sign Saturday on the outskirts of Baghdad. (AP Photos/Orange County Register/Mark Avery)

   • Despite their ownership of a MediaOne RoadRunner / AT&T Broadband / Comcast cable modem, this is the current homepage on the family computer in Feeding Hills. Just my dad's way of showing support for his workplace, and that we really did try to get that dial-up service we can get for free to work.

   As the name HOLYOKE Gas & Electric implies, this is a local company with which we are dealing. They're not so much small as they are new to the Internet game, but you get my point. I get the feeling this homepage design, as nicely done as it is, is not the kind of thing currently being operated by a big time multi-national.

   So imagine my surprise at further inspection of the current U.S. News links:

CNN with the Ariz. tribewoman's death.
The Washington Post with five links.
A New York Times Op-Ed piece.
The Scotsman weighing in on the JonBenet Ramsey case.
The Washington Times comments on the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve.
PennLive, as in Pennsylvania, with a broken link.
The Arizona Republic talks about war blogging.

   Either they're getting the freebie level from a bad content provider, or the main Web guy at HGE has a grasp on news value like I do on going clubbing.


April 5, 2003 - My Own Oktoberfest
   • When Kansas wins by more than 4.5, and Syracuse wins outright, it makes Cooch a happy boy.


April 4, 2003 - ICT-Less After All These Years
   Today's Quote Ripped Completely Out Of Context:

"It is typically working families who will use beer, and they are going to be the ones stuck paying this tax," English said. "The governor’s rich Philadelphia donors go home and have a scotch. Why shouldn’t their taxes be raised?"
-- Penn. State Rep. Phil English, complaining about a proposed hike of the state's beer tax. They wouldn't be the only ones to do so, according to,
honest to goodness, The Beer Institute.

   English's ability to make every law into a class war led to me discovering there's such a thing as National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week, which is celebrated every Oktoberfest.

   Additionally, the institute has made an official statement on "malternatives", arguing that they are not beverages designed just for teens.

"Clearly, a segment of the legal drinking age consumers like the taste of these 'malternatives.' These consumers sometimes want a beverage with a lower alcohol content that doesn't have the bitterness that hops adds to traditional beers. For years, adults have been drinking wine coolers, sweet wines, ciders, etc., and at the same time, underage drinking and drunk driving has declined."

   I love how they say "adults" like these people are sewing patches to their shirts proclaiming that they prefer the taste of Bacardi Breezer.


   • The only Red Sox starter yet to deliver his team a victory? Pedro Martinez.

   And if you think that's weird, "The Headache Medicine" folks at Bayer have brached their corporation out into the next logical field.

   Lawn fertilizer.


April 3, 2003 - There's Not Enough Words For "Stupid"
   It's an InstaPundit day, because a Sox series in Tampa Bay just really isn't that captivating. And really, neither is discussing how quickly it gets light out when the clock strikes 5 a.m.

   Today's Quote Ripped Completely Out Of Context:

"They don't really advertise that they kill people," Funk said.
"I didn't really realize the full implications of what I was doing."
-- Seems innocent enough ... until you realize the "they"
is the UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS.

   I understand that military recruiters can be very intimidating and unable to take 'no' for an answer, as a person who was told to "get some balls" by one after I hung up on him twice -- three times if you count the last conversation ending with "Stop fucking calling me!"

   I know what it's like to not want to kill another human being, or moreso, not have one kill me. The fact that Funk's willing to, ahem, face the music of military prison for standing up for his beliefs is almost noble.

   Almost.

   Almost noble because now he's decided saying he's gay is a better way to keep getting to attend anti-war rallies. If Stephen Funk thought he had experience dealing with hatred before, he hasn't seen anything yet.

   I suppose the silver lining to this is that those of you -- those of us, really -- who know people currently in the Persian Gulf will be at less risk because a coward like this won't be there pretending to back them up. Maybe when they joined, they did so gambling that they'd never have to fight ... but more power to them for doing what they're doing.


   • And if these pictures are any indication, they're doing a damn good job of it.


April 2, 2003 - And To All, Offense
   Apparently, someone called the S-T sports desk this evening to question whether my latest column, in which I mockingly tear apart a 13-year-old golfer, was actually a joke. This comes after my editor made some changes to the opening to clarify, in fact, that it was a joke.

   Though it didn't occur to me when I wrote it, the fact that the column ran on April Fools' Day should solidify that it is, indeed, in jest. However, given the response I've received has been completely "we think you're kidding, but we're not really sure," allow me to be more blunt. I do not hate Michelle Wie because she's a 13-year-old golfer who's many times better than I will ever be.

   I hate her because she's a woman. Her bitch ass should be in the kitchen making my dinner, and because she's Hawaiian, I damn well better get a hula dance when she's done.


   • I would just like to state the following additional things:

   The Overeducated Source Word Of The Day: Today's word is bifurcates! Defined as "to divide into two branches or parts," it was used in the context of a relocated highway splitting a large property into two parts.

   The Overeducated Source Word Of The Day is a blatant ripoff of Cooch's World's newest feature, The Ivy League Word of the Day, which never gets used anymore because the S-T's Ivy League reporters are apparently dumbing down their copy to my Tier Two University level. Perhaps I wouldn't have this problem if I read books ... course perhaps if the Red Sox had won their 1978 one-game playoff with the Yankees, Bucky Dent's name wouldn't be permanently bifurcated by an expletive.


   Edwin Starr is dead. Or should I say, the guy who produced "War! (Hua!) Good God, y'all! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!" is dead. There's some sort of sign embedded in his death coming during a war, but I'll leave you to morph it to fit your own beliefs. Among these?

   a) "He died so that he could more quickly deliver his message to God."

   b) "He never was able to escape his biggest hit."

   c) "God killed him because he was wrong."

   Some will actually prove a better message than others.


   The Connecticut Sun WNBA franchise, set to debut May 24, actually have game seats priced at $100. Granted the seats are actually on the floor, and the arena's size will lead to it being full for most games, but I don't think even putting the team in a casino would cloud my judgment enough to spend $100 to watch a women's basketball game. Especially when I could get up and spend $100 at the craps table, while watching other craps players do the things other craps players do.

   In the interest of equality, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't spend $100 to watch a men's basketball game either. In the interest of inequality, Sue Bird cleans up real nice.

   Homestar Runner. I don't know what it is, I know I'm a late-comer to it, but I'm sold. I've now watched the Welcome Speech clip 4 additional times in the writing of this sentence.

   Help me.


April 1, 2003 - The End Of The (Lack Of) Innocence
   Tonight, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban further solidified his position as Greatest Owner In Professional Sports by staging a fight with a mock NBA referee for April Fools' Day. Sure it was dumb, but it fooled one of his assistants enough to cause a freakout ... and if every owner was that into keeping the fans entertained, sports would be a hell of a lot better across the board.

   Laughing at his performance proved to be the limit of my 4/1 frivolity, unless the counterperson at Walgreen's overcharging me for aftershave was her idea of a joke.


   • We've watched them grow together and grow up, right before our eyes. They'd had full lives before they came into ours, be it in Louisiana, Boston, or elsewhere, yet the time we spent together saw them change in ways that perhaps they haven't fully understood yet.

   We watched them throw forks at each other in jealousy, watched them threaten to go home and watched them vomit during orientation at their new job -- to throw parties. We saw what happens when people call each other "black bitches of the house" -- they get mad for the playing of the race card -- But I think what we'll remember most, without a doubt, was the sex.

   Oh, the sex.

   But as I say that, it wasn't just about the sex. It was the threesome in the hot tub when Trishelle started making out with Brynn, followed by the extended sex-based relationship of Trishelle and Steven. It was Steven nuzzling up with three of the four girls by the fourth episode. It was Alton determining that his wood had gotten so long that he could no longer wear pants, Alton the homophobe getting his crotch grabbed in the club, and Alton and Irulan forming the official "Castmates That Make A Real Couple" for 2003.

   And I completely forgot to mention the pregnancy scares.

   Yes, the Real World Las Vegas ended its 28-episode run tonight, and now that it's over, we can officially say that the show has reached its peak. Because really, after you've put seven attractive people in a casino in the town everyone knows as "Sin City," what the hell else can you do?

   The actual episode, like most final episodes from the series, really wasn't all that spectacular. But it was a must-watch ... it's a rare moment you get to actually watch a great series jump the shark before your very eyes. Plus there were so many Real World traditions carried out: the final dinner where everyone loves everyone, the moment as each castmate is whisked away to their planes home, even the one castmember who decides to stay in the city! This year's winner of that prize was Arissa, who made her choice clear when she said instead of going back to her "drama"-filled family in Boston, she'd rather have someone "pull off (her) toenails with a pair of rusty pliers, slowly and painfully, then set each of my toes on fire."

   I was all set to be offended when she said "There's nobody cool in Boston," then I both remembered I no longer lived there and Arissa's mother called her on the phone drunk, just to let her know she was going to "kill that bitch." Rusty pliers, indeed.

   This cast also gave me the pleasure of seeing what would happen if I actually worked out and made an effort to get onto The Real World, since Frank and I are essentially the same person. Aside from the fact that there were never any pregnancy scares around Frank, and that he seems to be the only one whose relationship experience doesn't involve the dreaded "drama," I use these final episode items as proof:

   • When Arissa's mother calls looking for her daughter, who she then calls "that bitch" for the better part of a minute, Frank first questions her sobriety to piss her off some more, antagonizes her a little, then lies about who he is as he and Steven laugh about it. When he later tells Arissa that her mom called, his response to "What did she want?" was ... "She wants you to call her back."

   • As he's leaving and reminiscing to a video montage, he explains that "I'm taking love handles away from Las Vegas." This is moments after, inside the waiting area as their limos come, he reacts to his limo's arrival, and his sad departure, by dramatically fake crying for ten seconds, then quickly saying "Later!" and running out of the room.

   • He then explains why he's moving in with Steven in Los Angeles: Aside from going to USC for busincess school, "I'm hoping to get a lot of girls that Steven rejects."


   But sadly, that's all. Our final flickers of the show, even more than the inevitable showing of the "Drive Carefully, Come Back Soon" side of the Vegas sign, will be Trishelle and Steven sharing their last deep throat as he was to get in his limo, set for us to Asereje (The Ketchup Song). It was the perfect song to encapsule it all.

   Nonsensical, oddly upbeat and way too entertaining.


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