May 31, 2003 - Martin Doh!-deur
   From The Unfortunate Team Nicknames File: The East Providence HS Townies. Though it is nice to see a high school use the Web without incompetence.

   Picture Of The Moment: Admittedly, it's not much to look at on its own merits. But if you watched the game or just know the story that led to this picture, you're laughing (or sadly shaking your head).

Martin Doh!-deur
-- He'd dropped his stick and was going to retrieve it when a puck sent
in from center deflected off the stick ... and went through his legs.


New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur bows on the ice following a goal by Anaheim Mighty Ducks
Sandis Ozolinsh during the second period of Game 3 Stanley Cup Finals action Saturday in Anaheim, Calif.
(AP Photo/Paul Chiasson)

   Well, it was better than a joke about his tongue being stuck to the ice.


   • I've been throwing out graduation congratulations pretty liberally to the Class of 2003, much as I was throwing out spittle in this picture from last Sunday:

Unflappable Under Pressure
-- The little bastard wouldn't chug! Stupid law follower!

   Well, today the U.S. Military Academy at West Point graduated 841 people who could kick my ass up and down a hallway until they tired of the acitivity. Among them was Posse member Erin, last seen on the boardwalk of Venice Beach with a pair of guys in desperate need of a shower.

   See, I thought I kinda looked like a drill sargeant in the above picture. The yelling. The eyes. The detail well defined on the inner surface of my lips.

   I don't even have the beginnings of a clue.

   Congrats, girlfriend ... 's best friend.


May 30, 2003 - Technically, Pepperoni Is A Sausage
   • Sometimes, a spam is so good it almost makes you glad that the Internet is a vast wonderland of software piracy, automailers and Chinese webbed-foot porn.

Subject: Has your life been Ruined by Evil? nuaame xyeq
Date: Fri, 30 May 2003
From: Guy!
To: Me!

   Hello,

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   ~ Has somebody or something drastically altered your life? ~
   ~ Would you give anything to take back your stolen life? ~
   ~ What if there was a way to undo all done to you for $100,000? ~

   What I am referring to is something which is well covered up from the general public! I have access to the way, and need just one single person to work with. I hold the knowledge and the sources to help both of us but simply lack the funding required.

   While money cannot buy you true love or guaranteed health, it can buy you the chance to relive your entire life back over again IF YOU KNEW THE TOP SECRET INFORMATION, AND SOURCES WHICH I AND VERY, VERY, VERY, FEW KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT!!

   This is your one and only chance to live life over, and take control over what was stolen from you. Mentally stable open minded individuals a must!

   Someone close to the Boston area is preferred. This is extremely confidential information! There are some very important training requirements required as to avoid causing a disturbance as I will discuss with you.

   If you want your life back, and have the funding to work with me I GUARANTEE IT WILL SAVE BOTH YOUR LIFE AS WELL AS MINE!

   Please e-mail a brief description of your situation, along with your name, phone #, and best time to reach you to me at: powercrystals@manager.de

   Please do not reply directly back to this e-mail as it will only be bounced back to you.

   wsgfcdliqwvqwqzgc vsjglhydu ft yfhzh

   But please, keep it hush hush. Very confidential.

   I just hope this isn't fate's way of dropping a hint.


May 29, 2003 - Shea Goodbye
   The Talk of the Town will be today's trade of perennial first-half superstar Shea Hillenbrand to Arizona for all-purpose pitcher Byung-Hyun Kim. It's likely anyone who thinks they've got half a brain will weigh in on this trade, and on whether it's good for the Red Sox in the long run, but they needn't bother. Cooch's World has long since been the definite source for news on the honorable Kim.

"Memo to Bob Brenly, D'Backs Manager: If you're going to go to all the trouble of pitching Curt Schilling on three days rest, you might want to actually use him, as opposed to putting in Hong Kong Phooey, or whomever your closer is after Matt Mantei going down. I understand you want to keep Schilling available for a potential Game 7. Had you kept Schilling in though, and won Game 4, there wouldn't have had to be a Game 7. Why is this so obvious to me?"
-- October 31, 2001, following the Yankees 4-3 win in WS Game 4

"This year's Patriots, and I mean this in a good way, remind me of the Yankees. Think about how the Pats are winning games: deflected pass in Atlanta, knocked-out receiver lands on fumble in Buffalo, career years out of a cast-off running back and a rookie backup QB... it defies all logic. Next thing you know, Hong Kong Phooey will throw a late interception."
-- December 22, 2001, refusing to let it go.

"For last Halloween I was a racist, calling hard-luck Arizona relief pitcher Byung Hyun Kim by the ethnically correct name of Hong Kong Phooey."
-- October 31, 2002, celebrating the anniversary.

   And so, we have landed the man they're calling BK, but who shall remain lovingly known as HKP. A man whom the majority of Red Sox Nation currently knows for no more than being the guy who gave up heroics-laden home runs in the 2001 World Series on consecutive nights. A man whose greatest tactical advantage -- being a career NL pitcher who'll be facing most AL batters for the first time -- will be neutralized by his first work being the start on Tuesday against Pittsburgh in an interleague matchup.

   I love the trade, and in the long run I think most Sox fans will too because of what Kim offers. But all I'm seeing for now is a populace who loved Shea, will likely see him stay hot as he starts out in Arizona, and who could see our "savior" struggle for a couple weeks as he adjusts.

   In other words, the talk radio sharks are already circling, even if Hillenbrand's last act in a Red Sox uniform was being thrown out by 10 feet at the plate of Yankee Stadium.


   • It's not off the wires, and I probably don't deserve the billing, but it's nice to see some people round these parts can still take a joke.

EXTRA! Gerbil eats Greenfield
by Richie Davis, (Greenfield) Recorder Staff

   GREENFIELD -- Town Assessor Timothy Cosgrove is seeking the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.

   "I believe that my experience with tax policy, coupled with a strong local base, will help me pick up ground quickly," noted Cosgrove in his announcement speech, delivered on the steps of Greenfield Town Hall.

   "I am starting late, and need money, but believe that my grass-roots effort will resonate with the people."

   Don't you believe it, just because you read it online at GreenfieldGerbil.com. After all, the creators of the 4-year-old World Wide Web site have never even been to Greenfield, let alone operate the site from here.

   Still, what began as a course assignment for three Boston University students continues to poke fun at contemporary life, a parody of the so-called real world.

   For a backdrop, they picked you-know-where.

   "We just sort of looked at a map and the first city we saw was Greenfield," said Matthew Boggie, a 25-year-old anagement consultant in New York City. "One of the things we were looking for was visual alliteration."

   Greenfield stuck out because of a goofy, running gag at BU at the time, in which movie titles of the day had one word replaced by the word "gerbil," as in "Gerbil Reloaded." But instead of Gardner, Granby, Groton or Goshen, the Gerbil landed in Greenfield, tongue firmly planted in jowl.

   "We're writing it from the point of view that it's sort of medium-sized town in the middle of Massachusetts, so we have a sort of very quaint picture of life there," said Boggie, who hails from Johnstown, N.Y., outside Schenectady.

   The site -- which is not exactly The Greenfield Onion -- grew out of a communications course in which Boggie had to develop a Web site. With help from John Couture, a 23-year-old copy editor at the New Bedford Standard-Times, and Mark Coen, a 31-year-old residence director at Babson College -- both of whom he'd met on BU's College Bowl team -- the Gerbil began gnawing away at germs of parody fodder. "It's just something fun to do, if something amusing or ridicule-worthy should happen," said Boggie, who coordinated all postings in earlier versions of the site and now is the least frequent of its contributors. "Anything goes, pretty much."

   With only word-of-mouth to promote it, the Gerbil now is getting 3,000 to 4,000 "hits" a month, said Boggie, who had never received any "fan mail" from Greenfield until The Recorder contacted him. And without any advertising, it's operated just as a hobby, he added.

   "It's waxed and waned depending on things we're doing," Boggie said.

   The threesome, who try to post a couple of stories a month between them, aim for ideas with universal appeal or that get at human quirks: "Everybody has a weird friend he can identify with that has this or that particular trait," Boggie says. "Nothing is specific to a particular city council member or local law or something like that."

   Just to make that perfectly clear, there's the disclaimer posted: "Read on if you're thinking of sending us a nasty letter, suing us, or are otherwise thrown off. Be warned; this does break the illusion a bit. Greenfield, MA has no connection whatsoever to this site," it says. "No resident of Greenfield works for or with us, no Greenfield civic leader has endorsed the site, and none of the people listed as Greenfield residents are based on real people." The stories are just as fictitious, it says, and advises readers to "be willing to laugh at yourself."

   And so there are stories like these: GREENFIELD -- "Local authorities were unable to breach a snow fort built by Greenfield High School juniors who took a world history lesson a little too far, Greenfield police chief Elmer Tuttle reported today. "It's some sort of fortress or something," noted Tuttle, adding "you think it's just snow, but then you try to get through it and bam, nothing happens."

   Or try this one: FARLEY -- "Jack Wallace, a recent emigre from California, maintains a devoted, insatiable love for the fast-food chain, "Wienerschnitzel." Wallace moved to Farley after 8 months as the Chief Technical Officer at MonkeyBoxers.com, a tenure that ended rather abruptly a few days ago."

   Then there was the improbable article about how the 14th annual Greater Greenfield Garden and Flower Show "met an abrupt end on its opening day" when it was demolished with a local tractor show that mixes the Mohawk Trail with Boggie's home turf: "the 8th annual Mohawk Valley Landscaping Expo."

   And then there was the story back in March 2001 about how the Gerbil's "editor-in-chief" was spotted within 35 miles of Greenfield.

   That one was based on reality, Boggie said. He made it to Springfield on a business trip -- the closest he's ever gotten to Greenfield.

   On the Web: www.greenfieldgerbil.com


   A few points, though they also tarnish the illusion:

   • My name is spelled Jon, but it's not as though this is the first time I've been given the "h." It's right in the S-T phone directory, yet wrong in the columnist listing. As Boggie put it, "You might as well change your name: it'll just be easier that way."

   • The last Gerbil entry I'm 100% sure I wrote was this one in August 2001, which I did from the newsroom at the Nashua Telegraph. Quite honestly, writing here has sapped me from doing any writing there. There's a few articles I think I might have written since then, but I think the rag said it best with "Local Man Takes Credit for Title Despite Lack of Credit-Worthy Input."

   • But the best part of the whole story is not only have I been to Greenfield before, I was there on Sunday due to its proximity to Vermont making alcohol sales on the holy day legal. Given it had been at least two years before then that I'd been anywhere near the home of the Green Wave and Posse member Anna ... we're dealing with someplace special.

Greenfield, Massachusetts
"Home of That Rarest Of Beasts"
TriCor!
A combination Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut!


May 28, 2003 - Appeased By Boston Creme
   Fate Fights Fitness: I brought an orange with me to work tonight, since my dinner (tonight being spaghetti with red pepper pesto sauce, scallions, tomato and chicken sausage) usually leaves me in need of something sweet.

   At the very moment I took out the orange, to the point of me having the plastic knife in my hand, the editors walked in.

"Donuts!"

   I had two. And the orange. And a second chicken sausage when I got home.

   I give up.


   • Initial thoughts were that I've come to terms with my feeling I'm less of a man because I think Alex and Emma has some serious potential, and that I was able to identify a performance by Chantal Kreviazuk based on a guess because I'd seen her open for Barenaked Ladies on Feb. 16, 2001.

   But topically, all that matters is that I need to stop watching Food Network when I get out of work, because the last thing anyone needs in the hours before they go to bed is a reminder that they haven't eaten in a while.

   Since I didn't though, I got to watch Rachael Ray tool around the Boston area, eating on $40 A Day. The premise is that she goes to a city, and eats well on the title amount of cash. Travel Channel meets United Glutton.

   Any time Boston gets featured on any sort of national program, there's the tendency for me to nitpick, given I lived there and know the whole city like the proverbial back of my hand. I'd assume this is the same kind of thing all of you do for your various ports of call, but then again, I'm a guy who openly admitted he's curious about the film Alex and Emma.

   All I'm saying is that the story has potential. I'm not going to be lining up outside, just idly curious, and probably willing to be sold on it if it could net me some boyfriend points. You have to fight your battles, you know? Like against anything involving a film of Ya-Ya Sisterhood caliber ... course that'd just be freakin' terrorism.

   The spots she hit weren't all that surprising, given she is (and was) a tourist:

Breakfast: Quincy Market @ Faneuil Hall
Lunch: Kelly's Roast Beef, Revere
Drink: Grendel's Den in Harvard Square
Dinner: North End

   There's nothing wrong with any of these per se -- Faneuil has something for anyone; Kelly's is probably better for roast beef than clam rolls, but it's nearly a push; and the Square and the North End are pretty much close your eyes and pick at random -- but there were some things that stuck out in my mind.

   The fascination with the T. This is a woman who has traveled around the world, presumably on some of the best transit systems in the world. Yet she can't stop fawning over the T, which was last heavily remodeled in 1794. Yes, it can get you from Point A to Point B in a decently timely fashion (relative to crawling or swimming the Charles), but to call it "quick" is like calling me "smart."

   The Harvardite. In an effort to find a nice local bar, Rachael asks a young Harvard undergrad who quite obviously has never had a beer in her entire life. She gave one of these vague, "Yeah, there's a lot of bars here, like this one around the corner," that just reeked of "I walked by this place on my way to sit outside Au Bon Pain."

   I suppose she could just have been camera-shy. Course that wouldn't have explained the Epcot Center tote bag.

   Waitresses. While eating in the North End, Rachael gushed about how friendly the wait staff was at ths small Italiam place where she was eating. This got me to thinking about an alternative Boston meal trip she needs to take ... the kind that would truly make her appreciate Boston in all its glory.

Breakfast: Dunkin Donuts, Any Of 17,365 Locations
Lunch: Durgin Park @ Faneuil Hall, Home Of "Friendliest" Wait-Staff
Drink: Southie. Anywhere. Next!
Dinner: Fire & Ice

   Course after Southie, she could be forcefed asphalt chips and Sprite Remix and she'd think it was ambrosia.


May 27, 2003 - Holding The Wrong Ticket
   The town of Wareham, Mass., always has had the best entries in their police logs of any town in our coverage area ... there's no real reason I can pin down as to why this is, but it's most definitely true.

   As evidenced here:

"Dennis Lane, 11:28 p.m.: Disturbance, female arrested;
assault with a dangerous weapon, lava lamp."

   As The History Channel would put it, these are stories so incredible, they have to be true:

"Agawam Village, 7:00 a.m.: Male called stating that his wife injured herself on the bed and would like assistance from an officer. He stated that they did not need an ambulance. They needed assistance in locating a business to repair the bed.
They were advised."

   But these aren't even the end to the fun you can have with the banal. Even the obituaries seemed a little wacky tonight:

"He enjoyed collecting old memorabilia and making scrapbooks,
as well as tinkering around his house."
-- So, what exactly classifies as old memorabilia? Is there anything that couldn't? Was this person really that non-specific? Or is there a guy at the funeral home who isn't too good with details?

   And I get told my job is boring.


   • Really though, there's nothing above or below that can compete with today's Picture Of The Moment. I don't even know what to say about it, because it defies levels of logic to which it doesn't even apply. It achieves levels of comedy that are on planes where laughter isn't even the best response.

Whitney, Bobby and Ariel
-- U.S. singer Whitney Houston smiles next to her husband Bobby Brown during her meeting with Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon at the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)

   Never mind the fact that Bobby looks like he's at a court appearance. Ignore that the whole thing looks like a Photoshop project gone horribly out of control. Just please help me to understand why this is happening.

   Really. I've got nothing.


May 26, 2003 - The Lax Kids Are Acting All Cavalier
   So, after all that hand-wringing, the Red Sox shelled the poo out of Roger Clemens, preventing him from getting his 300th win against the Red Sox.

   My father seemed to take a great deal of glee from the mauling, and my mother referred to an incident which I'd forgotten about -- after an Oakland-Boston game where we'd all waited around the players parking lot for autographs, Clemens didn't stop. Not only did he not stop though, he came speeding out, nearly hitting my brother (among others) with his car.

   (The story was a little embellished by my mother, but I do remember quickly getting to see his license plate -- CY TO CY or 2 CY or something like that.)

   This was the same night that Billy Hatcher, driving in an SUV with his wife, calmly pulled over on Yawkey Way and signed everything anyone wanted him to, forever earning him a place in my mother's good graces. But to me, the coolest thing to happen that night was Rickey Henderson, then of the A's, just walking out of the park, waving to everyone assembled, shaking a few hands, then getting in a cab and leaving.

   We were all really nice to him, especially considering during the game he'd cleared the benches by jawing with Bob Stanley after a home run.

Anaheim, We Turn Our Lonely Eyes To You
-- I really like the lede. And saying that, you can tell I kinda ran out of steam.

   • It finally happened, and all it took was for the Yankees to lose eight in a row at home and drop 2½ games behind the Red Sox. Even if it is just May 26, "Boss angry," "Boss want win."

   I can't find the exact dates, but maybe this is a new leaf for the Red Sox. Last year at this time, I think the Yankees had already taken first place from them, never to let Boston see it again. But now, they let the Yankees get off to a hot start, and will hopefully make a little hay while the Evils are struggling. It may all end up the same in the end, but then again, maybe it won't.

"I'm not happy with them,'' Steinbrenner told the New York Post. "We have to get straightened out. I think Joe will get us straightened out. It better happen.''
-- When George Steinbrenner says something like "It better happen," I laugh because of all that statement entails, then cry because it usually works.

"We are still going to win this," Steinbrenner told The Post when asked about the Yankees falling behind Boston. "I'm confident. Don't bet against us. I believe our manager, Joe Torre, will get these things right. Mark down this date and remember I told you this. We are going to win. I believe in this team."
-- Boy, does that take some real cojones to say when you're 2.5 games back in May and you've finished 1-2 over Boston for five years running.

"Back to you, fuckers."
-- The signoff for one of Bruce Almighty's best portions, because it wasn't blatantly overdone and overacted.


May 25, 2003 - The Reason For A Party Season
   Tangential Soccer Fandom Update: Cardiff City FC dramatically earned promotion to Division One this afternoon at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff, beating QPR 1-0 on a 114th minute goal.

   We had a discussion at work the other night about whether soccer could make it in America if one of the networks gave a legitimate push to English Premier League play. Most said no. I said I wasn't sure, but at least the whole venture would increase the chance that the WNBA would go away forever.

   Why People Don't Watch Women's Basketball: In the roughly seven minutes that I watched of Saturday's Sparks-Sun game, broadcast live nationally on ABC, I saw four missed layups.

   Why Americans Don't Watch Formula One: Aside from it usually being on at 9 a.m. on Sundays, if today's Indy 500 had been an F1 race, winner Gil de Ferran would likely have been forced to allow two-time defending champion (and teammate) Helio Castroneves to pass him, thus giving Castroneves his third consecutive win.

   In America, we prefer our cheating to be much less overt.


   • Congratulations to all those who graduated from the UMass family of colleges and universities today, especialy those who once and still make it a regular habit to read my various rantings. It's nice to see the rain held off for you kids, and even nicer to see that the "foam" bat we were using at one of your graduation parties left a bruise where I was belted with it.

   The subpoena is in the mail.

   Meanwhile, back at the alma mater, it's nice to see all my suspicions realized, and to have the proof so gloriously displayed on the cover of the second section.

"In a spiraling crisis within Boston University's popular College of Communication, the dean and a department head have been pushed out, and the college's associate dean has resigned, according to numerous sources in the college.

Two weeks ago, Chancellor John Silber personally asked for the resignation of dean Brent Baker, both men told the Globe. Baker is a former Navy spokesman who had headed the school for 11 years.

Professor Bill Lawson was later asked to give up his chairmanship of the film and television department after he called Silber and two allies a 'cabal of misfits' at a faculty meeting, and accused them of plotting to reshape the school by force."

   Ignoring all academic dialogue, can I first just say calling John Silber part of a "cabal of misfits" should be immediately followed by a public burning of your resume? It's the equivelant of creating a hostage situation to force the police to kill you.

   But anyway, the gist of the argument goes to the core of COM. Silber thinks the school's curriculum should be based heavier in liberal arts classes, while Baker and Co. centered the entire school on what the Globe calls "professional studies" and what Meg calls "vocational school."

"I don't know any journalist who's competent simply by doing a layout on the front page," Silber said. "The good journalists are the journalists that know something and are competent in the subject."

''There is a serious intellectual question about whether journalism schools can actually do the job they are supposed to do,'' said JO professor Keith Botsford. The BU College of Communication ''has been in trouble for quite some time,'' he added. ''It is top-heavy with people who may not be in touch with the real world.''

   I'll buy both of these. Given I spent a whole semester in a class where I learned, essentially, that design is an entirely subjective science (and that what I like is wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong), there does need a greater basis in academic learning when you're forming journalists. As someone who now writes columns and who tended to only take on reporting assignments in subjects I felt I understood, it is a thousand times easier to write on a topic that you understand, if only because it opens up the ability to write anecdotally and not sound like an idiot.

   And don't even get me started on there being professors who aren't in touch with the real world. Oh the stories I could make up.

   My problem is that this seems to always be how the college does business. Not that there's any good way to settle a dispute in academia, but there always has to be talk of cabals, secret meetings and people lying about why they're leaving. I'd be interested to see how often stuff like this happens elsewhere ... though because I don't really track other schools, all I know is in just the past academic year, it's one university president and one dean down.

"In his commencement address on May 18, Baker quoted from Silber's 1989 book, ''Straight Shooting,'' saying that the best way for a dean to ensure a long tenure is to keep his head down.

''A corollary must also be noted,'' Baker read from the book. ''Deans may lose their jobs and be undone precisely because they have done their jobs exceedingly well.''

An e-mail from Berkey to Baker two days later read, ''We need to talk this morning. John Silber is under the impression that you make ... public remarks similar to those of Bill Lawson at the COM graduation ceremony.''
-- And when the good doctor can't even be bothered to express his displeasure himself, to a man who has stewarded one of the nation's best communication colleges for more than a decade, that pretty much says to me all it has to.


May 24, 2003 - A Play In The Clay
   Pop success is fleeting, and the spotlight doesn't stay put for long. That's why we must look to proven talent factories to find the acts that will be with us forever.

   With that in mind, today's Picture Of The Moment captures what will surely be the defining musical act of the next 25 years. I give you Turkey's Setab Erener, your 2003 Eurovision Song Contest champion!

Turkey! In the onion bag!
-- Pictured, from left: Paunchy Von Snaggleface, Crush O'Blush,
Blahface Of Arabia, Marisa Tomei and Clownmaw McOverpaint.


Turkey's Setab Erener, center, blows a kiss to her fans after the winning the Eurovision Song Contest in the Skonto Halle in Riga, Latvia, late Saturday night. She won with a song entitled 'Every Way That I Can.'
(AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

   And while I'm being overly cruel, if looks are all that sold albums, the Greeks and the Germans owe all of us a fistful of freebies.


   • Eh, we'll make it a reader mail day. My new friends really say it a lot better than I could anyway.

Subject: A message to young golfer: Grow up!
Date: Fri, 23 May 2003
From: Paul <____@earthlink.net>
To: jcouture@s-t.com

   Your article concerning Michelle Wie sucks!

   I'm sure you can write something worth reading. Keep at it and you'll get better. Trust me.


Subject: A message to young golfer: Grow up
Date: Fri, 23 May 2003
From: ______@sbcglobal.net
To: jcouture@s-t.com

   Jonny Boy -

   I couldn't understand why you were so angry in attacking Michelle Wie, you sound like a 13 year old journalist.

   Where does this anger come from ... Jealousy? You can't golf? Let me know maybe I can help.

   Your friend,
   Bo

   Here's the column in question, published 55 days ago. Sarcasm really doesn't translate well across media.


May 23, 2003 - Hammond-less In Syndication
   Tangential Soccer Fandom Update: My adopted team, Cardiff City FC, is playing for a spot in Division One on Sunday, in the Div. 2 Playoff Final at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff. The opponent will be Queens Park Rangers, and the scene will no doubt be, poetically, wicked fucking awesome.

   If there were some way I could pay to see this match, I probably would ... since maybe then I could figure out just why I've adopted a team to whom my only connection is that I was driven by their stadium twice seven years ago.


   • These are the things I think about.

   There's a Pennzoil commercial out there pimping their High Mileage oil. In and of itself, this really isn't notable. But when you start making allusions to Viagra, erect old men and arousing grandmothers, you're going to get my attention. Feel free to snicker and chortle as you wish.

   We start with an opening bathroom door, and a rather unassuming granny in bed with a sly grin on her face. Her Prince Charming, slinking out of the bathroom looking as though he'd been fully greased to slide out of his refelctive track suit, shares that same sly grin. But he's different ... not so much in the thickness of his moustache, but in that he's playing a makeshift tambourine. An instrument created from a bottle of Vigoroso 75, one which creates as much play as it offers.

   But alas, we don't get to see Mr. and Mrs. Spoil The Children do anything but spare the rod. We instead quickly move to the garage, where another opening door reveals a muscle car. Apparently done delivering his package, our leading man has put on an outfit quite similar to what Mariah Carey was wearing in her video for 'Boy'.

   And now he's shaking ... not in an ODing fit, but in his hand a bottle of Pennzoil High Mileage in his hand! The product placement! This motor oil gets his car "off" ... the cinderblocks! And back on the road! It's designed for older vehicles, you see! It all makes such whimsical sense.

   Or does it?


   See, when we first meet Greasy Los Hairpiece, he's shaking of bottle of penis pills ... the thing in his hand is something that makes him sexually stimulated, something we can clearly see from the wry smile on his grisled, leathery face.

   So why, when he goes out to the garage with the bottle of Pennzoil in his hand, do we see that same smile and that same shaking of the item in his hand? If you ask me, the answer is quite simple.

   Grandpa gets off to motor oil.

   These are the things I think about.


May 22, 2003 - CW Two: Continued Bugaloo
   And I quote ...

"Here it is, incarnation number three of Cooch's World.
This time, I'm hoping I can make it stick.

Summer vacation's underway, and this one marks the first time I'll be living somewhere other than Massachusetts. Nashua, New Hampshire's second largest city, will be my home for next dozen weeks or so, as I work on the copy desk at the Nashua Telegraph. Now the ultimate question: Might I have found the only place more boring than Western Massachusetts?

I'm supposed to be looking at an apartment up there tomorrow afternoon, and unless the thing has rats, roaches or holes in the wall, I'm taking it. Open door policy will be in effect - you want to visit, you show up at the door."
-- 5/22/01 ... and thus we complete Year Two.

   To celebrate the site's second birthday, I had originally planned to spew some BS about why exactly I do on a daily basis. Then I found three dozen pictures on the wires from the Miss Universe pageant in Panama.

   SLOW DOWN, QUICK FIST!

   The whole point of typing "Your home for Cooch" and "More Cooch than you can handle" and "Nothing but the purest Cooch" and "The sweetest Cooch you'll ever see" in clear sight of search engines is that so the people who type those come here and go home, well, blue. So I can't go throwing up any old picture of the world's beauty queens!

   The picture I chose had to both capture the essence of what the Miss Universe pageant is, while still meeting the wacky standards you've come to expect to a site with no practical reason for existing. And friends, we have a winner for the latest Picture Of The Moment:

Miss Super Wonder USA Woman!
-- Miss USA practices for the pageant's talent portion,
where she'll fling a lasso o'er her head and then make pouty lips.


Rory Tischler and Roston Ogata fix the makeup and hair of Susie Castillo, Miss USA 2003, during a photo shoot of her in her national costume during registration and fittings for the 2003 Miss Universe competition on May 16 at the Hotel El Panama in Panama City, Panama. She will compete for the title of Miss Universe 2003 during the 52nd annual Miss Universe competition from the Panama Canal Village Convention Center in Panama at 9 p.m. on June 3. (AP Photo/Darren Decker/HO, Miss Universe L.P., LLLP)

   It was this one or the four girls in bikinis sitting by the pool. Cheers gang!

   • It was truly a great moment in comedic history. Completely overshadowed the scenes at the NBA Draft Lottery, where I got to both imagine Brent Musberger shout, "You are looking LIIIIVE at Secaucus, N.J.!!" and watch Cleveland Cavaliers owner Gordon Gund answer Mike Tirico's question about who they'd take #1 by unleashing a gruesome fake laugh and sticking out his tongue.

   If the NBA is going to air the Lottery in prime-time, they're really going to have to make it more than just a bald guy opening 13 numbered envelopes that are sitting in an inbox. Actually bring out the whole ping pong ball apparatus and make it look like, well, a lottery drawing.

   When the Lottery was formerly televised, I'm pretty sure they had a big ball with sealed envelopes flipping round in it ... there was an exhibit like that at the old Hall of Fame. But I really, really digress.


   Annika Sorenstam had just split the fairway on the 10th hole at the Colonial, then hit her first green of the day in regulation. She lined up what was in the neighborhood of a 15-footer for birdie, and committed one of the cardinal sins of the hacker ... she left a birdie putt short.

   And in this age where Annika seeks to play at the level of the world's best men, I gave her the same treatment that any golfer would give another, regardless of race, gender or background.

"Hey Annika! Does your husband play?!"
-- Sure, it was just in my head. But it's the kind of
humor I think we can all enjoy, be we sexist or ironic.

   I had thought at some point I'd announced my Sorenstam prediction -- that she'd not only make the cut, but finish in the Top 40 -- but I can't find it. Though given I may have aimed a little too high, as opposed to the little too low everyone else has, it's a wash.

   And I'm warning you now ... this Buddy Thomas column is pleading for a rebuttal piece.


May 21, 2003 - To Steal, "Idol Minds"
   Non-Molesting Whale City News: Dr. Irwin Jacobs, CEO and creator of uber-corporation Qualcomm, is a graduate of New Bedford High School and handed out $40,000 in scholarships to a pair of graduating seniors this week.

   Sure, he could probably afford to hand out $400,000 to all the graduating seniors, but it's still a nice gesture, since usually the only thing most big city high school alumni hand out to students are crack pipes and free condoms.

   Speaking Of Drugs: Jayson Blair, America's favorite pseudo-journalist, has had quite the problem with blow and booze. I'm not really sure how I really feel about the whole thing, but this piece linked on The Bruce's blog is dead on.

   The AP 'American Idol' Write-Up Word Of The Day: Today's word is sanguine! Defined as "having the bodily conformation and temperament held characteristic of such predominance and marked by sturdiness, high color, and cheerfulness," "confident" or "optomistic," it was used in the context of how Clay and Ruben felt on Tuesday, a.k.a. "the day before they could tell Simon Cowell to fuck himself."

   The AP 'American Idol' Write-Up Word Of The Day is a blatant ripoff of Cooch's World's rapidly aging feature, The Ivy League Word of the Day, which highlights some of the verbiage encountered when editing copy from Ivy-educated reporters. Given how infrequently I'm seeing that copy, I may soon be left just to wonder about other things, such as how a movie being promoted through the heavy airplay of 50 Cent's "In Da Club" can star the 60-year-old Harrison Ford.


   • As if seeking to ensure I'm forever pigeon-hold with the "Reality TV Beat" at the S-T, my mother made sure to call me and say, "The tank won," as soon as America had decided to make Ruben Studdard an answer in the 2003 edition of Trivial Pursuit and Clay Aiken an answer at TRASHionals: Leonard Part Seven.

   And yet soon as I heard it, my initial reaction was some people are going to blow this way out of proportion for at least 24 hours. Then it was, "Oh look. I have to lay out that page in the paper now," but that's neither here nor there."

   The fact that 24 million votes were cast and the final difference was just 1,300 means, given the voting system has the flaw of some being unable to get through, that we're dealing with a statistical tie. And given the competition, that's probably what it should have been ... the two were equally as good as the other, and any competition between them probably should have been a push.

   Course, that's also to say they're equally as bad as the other ... Clay sounds like he's singing showtunes and Ruben, while he has an excellent voice, is going to prove to be too heavy to go on any sort of grueling national tour.

   That's not to say both of them won't sell a couple million albums each, given they're backed by a music industry machine. I mean come on, these are the kind of people who made Fabian a superstar just because he was cute and wasn't black.


   And I think there's some of that element in play here. Not so much on the marketing and musical side of it, but on the voters side. I admittedly only saw about half the episodes, given my previously having Tuesdays off and my family's need to watch as much schlock as possible, but as Clay and Ruben began to distance themselves as the cream of the crop I began to notice something about the people who waved signs for them in the crowds.

   The people who were "Aiken for Clay" were usually white, and the people who were "Down With The 205" were usually black. And additionally, while using my family and friends as a survey section isn't very scientific, I do know that every one of them were for Clay.

   I don't really think there's anything all that sinister going on here, but there definitely feels like there's something to it. Not so much that the Klan is huddling by its phones on weekday nights, but just that the soul singing style of someone like Ruben isn't something that the large majority of white people prefer.

   This kicks back to the whole Fabian thing again, though there was something sinister going on there. Not on his part, but on the people pushing him as a superior alternative to "black rock-and-roll" when he wasn't even in the freakin ballpark. Thank you, History of American Popular Culture.


   Regardless of any of this, the only thing I'm sure of will be the appearance of "Make Clay The True Idol" petitions, saying he was "screwed" because many couldn't get through on FOX's "antequated" [sic] telephone system. Much the same as there was when Frenchie Davis was booted from the show for posing in pornography, and we saw how quickly she was reinstated.

   Course it won't last much past January, when something new will cruelly grasp our attention away.

   American Idol Three: The Search For More Money

   Update: Before I even got this published, there's already questions about the voting. Though these shoot more holes in my argument than they do anything else.


May 20, 2003 - McOde
   In The Interests Of Ego-Stroking: I got this response from Martha, the New Bedford girl who wrote me about my Celtics column. And really, I can't believe it took me this long to post it.

Subject: Re: Re: Celtics
Date: Wed, 14 May 2003
From: Martha <____@go.com>
To: jcouture@s-t.com

   Good. I feel so much better now. Thank you.

   Yours Truly,
   Martha ______

   P.S.:I love your articles! Keep writing them. Please

   Obligatory Kansas Bash: In an AP story tonight, I learned the city of McLouth, Kansas, encountered a problem when trying to pave a roadway through town -- a rock so large and buried so deep, they could not remove it. Seems plausible ... and really, there's a very easy solution.

   They paved the road right over the rock. Rather than weave the road around where the rock was, they though it better to pave the road right over the rock, meaning instead of a center line being in the middle, there's a boulder.

   Though the story had no pictures, I'm sure the enterprising citizens of Kansas had a very good reason for doing things this way. There must have been big mountains, hills, tourist stops and Prairie Dog Towns preventing them from bending their boring, boring roadway. I mean, how stupid would people have to be ...

   They mustn't have wanted to disturb an amber wave of grain. Or better still, it would have violated their Manhattan-like (and needed!) roadway grid system.

   Last Non-Food Item: This column about golfers being whiners bothers me a little, since it's clearly written by someone who really has no idea what he's talking about. Though really, my saying so just kind of proves his point.


   • When McDonalds made a change to their apple pie -- changing it from fried to baked -- there were a lot of people who missed the old version, expressing how much they wish they just could have had one more of the old kind.

   Well, McDonalds has gone and changed their famed Chicken McNuggets. Much like the Democratic Party, they've chosen to go away from their own style -- a mysterious chicken-like substance that sometimes seems a little too chewy -- and instead make a product that's a bad homages to everyone else's. By choosing to use "all white meat" in their nuggets, McDonalds is not only offending black people across America, they are allowing some to crack the joke that the nuggets are now made out of pork.

   And the shame is that I narrowly missed a likely last chance at that oily bliss.

   I was one of those kids who ate Chicken McNuggets like they were going out of style. So much so, I could tell you the two main nugget shapes -- the egg-shaped nugget, shaped like an egg, and the deformed mitten-like nugget, my favorite because the "thumb joint" area tended to make room for extra greasy "breading". I was the kind of kid who, when seeing that he couldn't take down an entire 20-pack of Chicken McNuggets myself, I tried and tried again until one day I achieved my dream.

   When the McNugget was introduced into a Happy Meal, I pshawed as it. How can they expect me to be full on just four McNuggets? A McNightmare! McNever!

   These are the kinds of things that leave me not surprised when, after a summer of running and eating better, I lost 30 pounds in three months.

   Course after that summer, I kida just stopped eating at McDonalds. Maybe it was my new-found push toward fitness, or maybe it was the realization that McDonalds food is disgusting. Either way, I didn't eat many McNuggets for a long time. The few occasions when I did became musings on my past, and brought back thoughts of a happy-go-lucky youth ... the kinds of thoughts many experience when sharing a Werther's Original or drinking Country Time Lemonade fresh from the powder.

   But Sunday, I had the hankering again. At the Charlton Travel Plaza on the MassPike, which has now been overrun by the golden-arched empire, I'd worked up quite an appetite helping Meg move a high percentage of her worldly possessions. I was going to do it ... twenty McNuggets. Maybe with some Sweet 'N Sour, maybe with some Barbeque, or maybe I'd just lick the tile floor inbetween each oil-laden bite.

   But the line was too long. The wait would be too much. Oh look, Fresh City. A watermelon smoothie? You're out? Um, how about that pineapple one? Oh, those wraps look good and healthy ...

   If only I'd known. If only I'd known.

   So now, in a world where Sprite needs a Remix and Code Red wasn't enough, where people will eat a plain cheese pizza over a veggie pizza even though the veggie pizzas are always drowning in excesses of mozzarella, the taste of the McNugget, that soupy chicken-like flavor that left a pasty footprint on the tongue and tissue, is one that's only left to live in our memories. And our intestines as residue. And our physicals as high cholesterol.

   I miss it already.


May 19, 2003 - In A Real Cold Streak
   Sports Statistic Of The Day: After missing their first free throw tonight, the Dallas Mavericks went 49 of 49 from the line to beat San Antonio 113-110. Having watched most of this game, I can tell you this could go a long way in shedding their image as being soft, because they had no business winning with the way they were shooting (40 percent from the field).

   So just to clarify, San Antonio big in Game Two. And when you win big with this information, I encourage you to spend $500 on these fake dreadlocks.

Walking On Both Sides Of Hate St.
-- Unconnected to the column, this will be the title of my autobiography.

   • Read this.

   Now that you're dazed, we can continue.

   If you listen closely, you can hear Dick Gephardt fading slowly out of the picture. Not that he was the likely Democratic choice anyway, but odds are pretty good that if you can't be bothered to vote on 85% of House votes, the national public is going to equate that to still getting paid while skipping six days of work a week.

   I have made every effort to get involved in the early Democratic presidential debates, trying to find a candidate I think is a better fit for me than GWB. Yet I just can't shake the feeling, while watching them all, that Joe Lieberman is really a Republican, John Kerry will find a way to lose the nomination and the entire escapade is way too reminiscent of the old SNL sketch "Decision '92: The Debate To Avoid Being The Guy Who Loses To Bush."


May 18, 2003 - Graduation Two, Electric Bugaloo
   Calatimous Self-Quote Of The Day: Upon hearing Joan Jett's "I Love Rock and Roll" on the Springfield classic rock station:

"This probably isn't the Britney Spears version. Damn."

   • Congratulations to all in the Boston University Class of 2003, a group who got a lovely day to graduate on (as I did). While I can't confirm just how your ceremony went, I can say with some certainty that your student speaker probably didn't build her speech around an anecdote of her losing her fucking watch.

   I'm not going to name this girl, since she's a COM grad and both talented and nice, but her speech was horrendous. Horrendous like bolding all comments about it.

   The biggest problem with being in the class of 2002 is that we were the first college class to graduate in the post-9/11 world. Thus our ceremony was more about remembering how sad we should be rather than how happy we should be with what we'd accomplished.

   And really, I'd like to say I was exaggerating this phenomenon.


   Graduates, friends and graduating friends, it's on days like these that you're told change is inevitable. You already know this, given you've learned skills like breathing through your mouth, but you will be told it anyway, because talking at a podium is fun. So much fun.

   I find there's no greater proof that change is inevitable than my diploma, received on May 19, 2002. On it are two signatures: one is from the former university president, who was later found to have been eased toward the door by the BU Board of Trustees, and the other is from the soon-to-be-former COM dean, who is going on an apparently-questionable "sabbatical" for the next year.

   Boston University. Where the main color is scarlet ... so it matches the tape.


   It was odd enough to actually be in the city for another commencement, although I admittedly didn't even wake up until after George Will had probably stopped talking. When you're the one graduating, you get caught up in the day's frenetic pace ... though you're being dragged around and listening to people talk and baking in the Sun, it doesn't get to you. The day's about you!

   But after the fact, should you go back to help someone move or something, the whole thing just seems too much. You see all your friends sunburnt, wearing the cap and gown you have in your closet, getting ready to step out in that world as you already have ... and it brings that tinge of sadness, because you're one more year removed from everything that college was.

   Course then you smile, because you're also one year removed from being poor.

   And then you frown, because not only are you still poor, you still have eight more plastic crates of your girlfriend's belongings to carry down three flights of stairs. And of course, since you're you, you try to carry too many boxes at once ... what a mess. Even if you only "almost" fell down the stairs.

   This has been a completely self-referential update. For those looking for something a little more, which is probably all of you, read this quote from Ashley Olsen, which proves that there's at least one college boy in America who doesn't give a great God damn when the hell they turn 18.


May 17, 2003 - Torre? Looking Frumpy.
   Great Moments In "Should've Made That Bet" History: A Mavericks 112, Kings 99 finish both makes me happy and adds up to 211 points scored. And 211 sits nicely UNDER a 217.5 line.

   I have a method for knowing this things, you see. It's based on the premise that even the dumbest squirrels find acorns every now and again.

   Shut-In Video Game Picks: If you enjoy soccer and never want to ever, ever, ever go outside again, I highly recommend Konami Tokyo's Winning Eleven 6, which is way awesome in the English version which an English-speaker would play.

   It's always nice to find a soccer game where no team ever scores more than, say, four goals in a game. And where there's a learning curve. And a person just playing for the first time will only win 9 of 30 games.


   • Tonight, while watching South Park, there was a promo for the new PAX Sunday night line-up. All original programming ... Doc, followed by Sue Thomas: F.B. Eye and Just Cause.

   PAX. Feel the spirit. Television for worship. Advertised about twenty-five minutes before Lewis Black came on an old episode of Tompkins Square and talked about the cold weather shrinking his genitals.

   So anyone looking for work in helping companies target their advertising?


May 16, 2003 - Longing For My Betting Partner
   How To Celebrate: On his birthday in 2002, our night editor (and my direct boss at the S-T) bought his first house. On his birthday in 2003, his wife went into labor, and they had their first child six hours into today.

   And all I've done is get drunk and go bowling.

   Wrong Coast Living: If anyone was curious why my entire stance of California did a complete 180, this column will clear up a lot of your confusion. I didn't write it, but there's a good chance I probably will in the future.


   • I understand personal debt is a major problem in this country. But I just can't shake the idea that going to someone calling themselves your Loan Buddy is the best solution.

   MTV's latest reality show idea is Surf Girls, which takes 15 girls from between 19 and 25, sends them to Melbourne, Australia, and pits them in a contest to become professional surfers. Given the girls spent the entire day dressed as extras from Blue Crush, I think we're just that much closer to getting pornography on semi-free TV.

   The guy who plays a Jeep saleman in the commercial where the woman tosses mud on the cars, ostensibly because she's the only suburban housewife in America who goes likes to go offroading, was formerly a castmember on Square One TV.

   As Bill has already outlined speaking for himself, I took two different classes with the man who outed the JFK's intern story -- U.S. History Since 1865, and a History of the American Presidency. I learned many things over both classes, as they were some of the best I took at BU, but I also learned that R.D. is one of least attractive people ever to walk the planet.

   The teams in the Dallas-Sacramento series have cleared 100 points in 9 of 12 opportunities, and had one of the best NBA series in recent history. You know what that means ... bet the under on that 217.5 line!

   And that's the end of this month's homage to Larry King's USA TODAY columns.


May 15, 2003 - Semi-Junk Mail
   About Yesterday: When one writes every day, there's going to be those days where there's really no time to get anything written. As may be readily obvious, yesterday was one of those, as the whole thing was written while I was having a conversation with other people.

   I'd just like ease everyone's fears ... none of that three meat DiGiorno pizza went homeless, even if by the end I was contemplating which netherregion from whence it came.

   NEAPNEA Update: Trying to discover just when the contest results would be announced, I found the official rules, which explain that in the Sports Column category, all of a writer's submitted columns will be "judged as one entry." Needless to say, this both significantly lowers my expectations and leaves me uneasy that I'm entered with four columns instead of three.

   Though, lowering my expectations is probably for the best. Planning how I'll parlay my victory into increased prominence within the paper probably isn't my best course of action at the moment.


   • By now, you've probably all seen the ad for Reebok Classics featuring Shakira. Standing on a beach, she makes a Shakira Face, then begins doing Shakira Things and digging a trench. The camera then zooms out to reveal a humongous peace sign, then zooms back to Shakira, who brings her shoes together in her hands, only to see them turn into doves that fly away.

   So I wonder:

   Whose idea was this? Does Reebok wake up one day and go, "You know, we really haven't made a statement on the war yet. Someone get known peace activist Shakira on the phone!" Or did she call them? "I'd really love to a commercial for your company (violent hip shaking) that marries my pro-peace sentiments and my (seductively crawling toward executives) love of old sneakers."

   What happened to the shoes? Most of the time, people who buy white sneakers spend most of their time trying not to get the white sneakers dirty. So here's Shakira, using them to dig on a beach. At the very least, the doves that were created from them should be covered in sand and be disgustingly stained.

   Because really, I want reality when I'm watching a thin pop singer dig a 60-foot peace sign in a beach.

   Even odder though may be the fact that Robert Stack is dead. Given that Unsolved Mysteries used to keep me up at nights, it now may go down as the most haunting show ever on network TV, since now every voice-over segment he did will subconsciously end with, "and I'm dead! DEAD!"

   This is despite Robert Stack's true legacy not being The Untouchables, Unsolved Myseteries or even Caddyshack II. It will be Agent Flemming in Beavis and Butt-Head Do America, the federale who spent the whole film executing full cavity searches, "long and deep."

   Anyone who thought I was going to say Ultra Magnus in The Transformers Movie obviously needs to get their priorities in order.


May 14, 2003 - Pizza Flavored Tacos
   NEAPNEA Update: All four of my submitted columns were included in the S-T packet, which technically is a violation of the contest rules (three writers, three submissions each), but so be it. I could be disqualified, I could sweep first through fourth, or I could land somewhere in the middle.

   • There used to be a time where I could eat like no get out. It's a little-known fact, little-known because few people have actually worked for the Agawam High School Mirror, that I am a co-record holder of the paper's taco eating contest record: 13 soft tacos in two hours.

   This will of course spark a deluge of comments about eating flights of fancy. For example, one of my desk coworkers once ate six Whoppers in a single sitting. To which I replied, "I haven't eaten six Whoppers in my whole life."

   DiGiorno pizzas used to be a pretty good meal for me ... both because they're amazingly delicious and because I'd pretty much be full right about when I finished them. Sure, they probably weren't the best choice from a nutritional standpoint, but they marked the only environment in which I'd eat olives. And vegetables are healthy, in so much as a testicle-shaped salt lick stuffed full of paste is a vegetable.

   This is not so anymore.


May 13, 2003 - It Was Yesterday, Just So You Know
   Column Update: Yesterday's column on the good of a Celtics-Nets rivalry actually ran properly in the paper, with the lede printed here yesterday included as it should have been. Knowing what I know about our Web publishing system, it means the column that shows up here is what was sent into Quark for publication, and the ending was just cut-and-pasted directly onto the page when the time came.

   Long story short, you now know way too much about the system the S-T uses to put pages together. And our Web site still sucks, for no other reason than that I've been listed as "John Couture" for well over six months now.

   Survivor Update: Monday's paper featured a pair of stories, written by former "roommate" Eric M., that were combined to create the main art package on Page One. So surrounding my story about the show's final act, we had one preview story and two follow-up stories done by the paper's "most thorough" reporter.

   I'm not so much peeved that Eric got to write so much more on the topic than I did ... being a reporter, that's kind of why he gets paid. But I am a twinge miffed at the Von Ertfelda parents, both of whom never got back to me, but got right back to Eric, possibly giving the perception I made no effort to call them.

   However, I feel the best response to all this is simply to say "Meh" and move on.

   World Domination Update: I got more fan mail, and it was written in green!

Subject: Celtics
Date: Tue, 13 May 2003
From: Martha <____@go.com>
To: jcouture@s-t.com

   Hi. My name is Martha ______. I live in New Bedford, MA. I have a question for you about Antoine Walker. I heard that he's being traded next year to another team. Is that true? Can you please let me know? Thank you.

   Yours Truly,
   Martha _______

   P.S.: Do you get to meet the Celtics by writing articles like this? It must be so cool if you do. My best friend and I are huge fans of the Celtics. :-)
-- The fact that there are still kids out there growing up Celtics fans is a nice thought. And the fact that Martha has better writing skills than some people I graduated high school? That is as well.

   • Several of you who read this sent me birthday wishes -- be it by physical card; e-mail; Yahoo Greeting; Instant Message; or by buying me lunch, a cheese grater and kitchen shears -- and I'd just like to use this "public" forum to thank you for doing so. This is absolutely not a shot at people I know who didn't, as every birthday I have where people wish me well is a reminder that I really suck at holidays.

   Case in point, my Mother's Day gift for this year was cash ... payment for a watch my mother had already bought herself, since my other idea for a gift was aired before I bought it and more or less shot down.

   I think my biggest problem with the concept of gift giving, beyond the fact that I just don't do it very well, is I overthink the whole process, trying so hard not to get something cliche that I end up getting something awful or nothing at all. Meg will gladly tell you that on the first birthday where I should have been giving her something, I forgot entirely and gave her a pear I had in my pocket.

   That could easily raise questions of why I had a pear in my pocket in the first place, but such discussions would lead to more talk about gas. And no one needs that.


   Birthdays are one of those points where you're supposed to take stock of things, and that looks to be what I did on May 12, 2002, where I wrote the most dramatically vague update probably since I made the Sept. 11, 2001, writeup in black.

   Really, sometimes you people should call me on this stuff. That's why the comments system is here ... and as much as it gets used, I wish it was getting used doubly more. I need to be told some ideas are stupid, and some ideas are good. It's ego building, but in a good way.

   On my 21st birthday, though it wasn't chronicled here, I was just in the beginning stages of meeting a wonderful girl, and I was a couple months of doing something I never thought I'd get to do ... drive from one coast to the other, though I could have just as easily said "watch a baseball game in Kansas City." On my 22nd, I was very close to securing my first job after college, something that has evolved into writing about sports and still gives me chanches to branch out even further past whatever my initial job description was. And now on my 23rd, as much as "now" is "Monday," there's plenty of questions as to where I'll go from here.

   In a lot of ways, I feel as if I'm at a dead end with the column. Not to the point where I'm going to stop writing it anytime soon, but just that I feel like I need to take it a little more seriously. Maybe start investigating the chance of me going to games as press, interviewing players sometimes, or maybe going a whole new direction and writing more sports features.

   I just feel like I'm at a point where, if I was going to interview somewhere for a new job, my best-chance would be to go as a copy editor, and I really don't feel like that's what I want to do with myself. Course, I never thought I'd want to get out of school and do it full-time, but the design half of it is something I really enjoy.

   To be honest, I think a lot of what happens to me in the next year is going to be contingent on how my one-year review goes. I know what I think my worth to the paper is, especially in comparison to the things I was hired to do versus the things I actually do. It'll be very interesting to see how they view those very same things, and how it all unfolds.

   And of course, as I said last year, "Keep reading. Maybe it'll make sense by then." So freaking melodramatic ...


May 12, 2003 - Happy Birthday To Me
   Today's column was written with two ledes, dependent on the outcome of the Celtics-Nets game. So of course, the game then goes into double overtime to be resolved, flying past deadline, thus forcing the S-T sports department to improvise for the one scenario I hadn't planned for.

A Rivalry Needs Two Combatants
-- An attempt to find a silver lining in a sh** cloud ... that the
formation of a solid rivalry is this series's saving grace.

   But because I took the time to write for it, and because I like to write IN A COOCH'S WORLD EXCLUSIVE!!!, here is the lede for the column as written by me:

   Well, it's over. Mercifully.

   This semifinal debacle marked just the second time in pushing 60 years of NBA playoff history that the Boston Celtics have taken the collar in a seven-game series - the other coming a full two decades ago against a Milwaukee team that went on to be crushed in five games by the eventual-champion 76ers. So, by failing to win even a single game for pride's sake, this year's edition of Gang Green has truly carved themselves a niche in the history of the franchise.

   No wonder fans are charging the bench.


   • All this being said, it's not as though I realized the above would happen while I was watching the game. By that point, I was so trashed I'm surprised I didn't continue to lose games of Pop-A-Shot, rather than not break the record until I had whiskey, bourbon, beer and Lord knows what else inside me.

   After my 21st birthday consisted of just one alcoholic drink -- more by choice than by necessity -- I consider my 23rd karma just balancing everything out. And far as I can tell, I didn't go home with anything I shouldn't have, but I also didn't go home with of all those excellent appetizers we left uneaten.

   OK, I'm not even going to attempt to continue. Just writing this much has taken me the better part of an hour.


May 11, 2003 - The Final Day At 22
   And So It Begins:

Hole
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
OUT
Yards
131
322
161
498
139
310
154
125
327
2167
PAR
3
4
3
5
3
4
3
3
4
32
Cooch
3
7
3
5
3
6
3
3
9
42
• Sassamon Trace GC - Natick, Mass. •
Hole
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
IN
Yards
131
322
161
498
139
310
154
125
327
2167
PAR
3
4
3
5
3
4
3
3
4
32
Cooch
3
6
3
5
6
4
5
4
5
41
PAR 64
83, 19 OVER PAR
4334 YARDS
Birdies: 0 - Pars: 10 - Bogeys: 2 - Others: 6
Fairways Hit: 3 of 8 - Greens In Regulation: 8 of 18 - Putts: 33
Money Won: $4

   For the first round of the year, I'm pleased. Though when you're teeing off on ten of the holes with nothing longer than a seven iron, it isn't exactly a heavy lifting kind of round.

   But putting well is always nice, except for you, who now know I'll continue chronicling my fading golf career on these very pages.


   • Some people get outraged by presidential elections. Others get all riled about eating meat, wearing fur or even those who eat meat while wearing fur.

   Me? I get mad about things like Cape Cod Community College, currently in a major fundraising drive to offset state budget cuts, having to refuse a $100,000 donation from Cape Wind because it would create the perception that the school advocated building a wind farm off Nantucket -- the story is linked here, under "Cape college turns down windfall."

   On the surface, the gift was to go to "a curriculum on renewable energy, to be shared among the college, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, UMass-Dartmouth and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. The curriculum would include engineering, science, technology, operation and maintenance as they relate to the renewable energy industry." Not really here or there, but just thought I'd throw that out there.

   I really don't have an opinion either way on the actual wind farm issue, but I've always been irked by the perception that a journalist can't take gifts from sources and maintain his (or her) impartiality. This isn't so much because I've had to refuse large sums of cash from sources before now ... it's just my belief that if someone giving you a trinket is going to change the way you cover them, your impartiality is the least of your reporting problems.

   The whole point of your freakin job, and thus theoretically why you got into the profession in the first place, is that you value truth and value getting the story out there. If that's something you're willing to even consider buying and selling, then you already make me sick.

   That said, I understand the whole truth that "perception is reality." Which is why this whole issue is one of those things I've just gritted my teeth and dealt with.

   But that said, every time one of these stories comes up, my personality just scerams out, "If a source is stupid enough to think he can buy good press like toilet paper or bananas, far be it for me to refuse free stuff that's not going to help his cause anyway."


   And with that said, what better way to follow it than with a news story.

Von Ertfelda Was Close, But Not Final 'Survivor'
by Jon Couture, Standard-Times staff writer

   You needed no further proof that Matthew Von Ertfelda was not the average contestant on CBS's "Survivor" than what he did as he and swimsuit model Jenna Morasca left the Jacare camp for the last time.

   Retrieving the canoe that he'd caught so many fish in, he retrieved artifacts from the camp where he'd spent 39 days -- palm fronds, twigs, tools, an idol. Setting them ablaze as one would a funeral pyre, he pushed it out into the river, helping bring closure to a man who has studied cuisine in France and Mandarin Chinese in Taipei, who has gone to New Guinea to pursue cannibals, who was the captain of his football team at Middlesex School and who just last year was listed as one of People Magazine's 50 Most Eligible Bachelors.

   Given the things he has done in his 33 years, Mr. Von Ertfelda may truly be unlike any of the other 95 people to have competed on CBS's top reality show. However, he now does share one characteristic with 89 of them.

   He didn't win the million dollar first prize.

   The Dartmouth-raised Von Ertfelda was able to reach the show's final two, but lost the final jury's vote 6-1 to Ms. Morasca, who, at 21, was already the youngest castaway ever to compete in the show's six-season run. For his second-place finish, Mr. Von Ertfelda wins $100,000, in addition to the 2003 Saturn Ion he won in an earlier reward challenge.

   In the end, it's hard to say just what was Mr. Von Ertfelda's undoing. Deena Bennett said she'd sensed sexism in Matthew's earlier call that "may the best man win." When prompted by the jury -- made up of the last seven castaways to be voted off -- to list her opponent's flaws, Ms. Morasca said she felt Mr. Von Ertfelda was distant, that he didn't have any real connection to others on the show and that this was just "another adventure on his list of things to do."

   But in the end, the general consensus seemed to be that Ms. Morasca had held to the game's credo better -- to outwit, outplay and outlast. Even if Mr. Von Ertfelda had convinced all his tribemates of the biggest ruse of all: that he was truly crazy.

   "That was all an act," Mr. Von Ertfelda said. "I felt like, in this game, I needed people to dismiss me. Physically, I had a lot of bullets coming at me, and I needed something to keep people from perceiving me as a threat."

   In the end, the show's final act proved to be more than "pretty straightforward," as Mr. Von Ertfelda had predicted when the night's show began with three men and Ms. Morasca the only contestants left.

   Knowing that she needed to secure immunity to remain in the game, as Mr. Von Ertfelda, Rob Cesternino and Butch Lockley had formed a strong voting block to be the final three, Ms. Morasca did just that. By being the first to collect four necklaces while blindfolded in a maze, she threw the men's collusion plans into chaos, leading to the expulsion of Mr. Lockley.

   With just three players left and already in a secure alliance with Mr. Cesternino, Mr. Von Ertfelda sought to cut a deal with Ms. Morasca, helping secure his place in the show's final pair. Her agreement led Mr. Von Ertfelda to throw the show's final immunity challenge, a test of will requiring a person to stay atop a narrow platform without falling.

   When Ms. Morasca won that challenge as well, she alone had the power to choose who would advance, Mr. Von Ertfelda or Mr. Cesternino. Although her choice seemed to be little more than honoring her agreement with Mr. Von Ertfelda, she later admitted that she felt having Mr. Von Ertfelda as an opponent gave her a better chance at winning.

   "I felt like if I went to the final with Rob," Ms. Morasca said, "a lot of the jury votes would have been different. But I had to make them think I believed I'd taken the person who I felt was most deserving."

   Before the final vote was revealed, Mr. Von Ertfelda admitted he felt he'd been beaten, predicting the jury vote would come out 5-2 against him. Despite the defeat, he expressed no regrets or sadness about the way he'd played the game, or how the final result had turned out.

   "Above all, I had to keep my morality and my integrity," Mr. Von Ertfelda said. "I'm a bit sad to see it all come to an end. It's been an amazing and incredible experience."


May 10, 2003 - Women's Clothes And Swastikas
   EXPRESS, self-proclaimed makers of "The World's Sexiest Jeans," have declared that for the summer of 2003, "There's something about terry."

   Though their racks continue to be filled with the peasant shirts, halter tops and tankinis that are most often worn by people who have no business even thinking about peasant shirts, halter tops and tankinis, they now devote a good portion of their floorspace to barely-there bikinis, tanks and sandals made (mainly) out of terry cloth.

   Many know terry cloth as the fabric of choice for supple bath robes, but I think of Billy Mays, drying all his Kaboom and Orange Glo cleanup jobs with a fresh, white terry cloth towel. Whichever hits you, in both cases we are dealing with a fabric that usually just touches the body before actual clothing is put on.

   Cooch's World would like to commend EXPRESS's selfless displays and marketing scheme -- by encouraging the wearing of more terry cloth, they are encouraging their customer base to not buy new clothes, or buy clothes at all ... they are encouraging the women who shop at EXPRESS to wear just the towels and bath robes which they already own out in public. It'll be quite stylish and thrifty!

   They are also helping America reach toward a day of total primpless display -- between the popularity of the flip flop and the affinity to terry cloth, people will soon resort to a morning routine of waking, showering and immediately leaving the house.

   Of course, such an anti-clothes statement must also be condemed ... after all, we are dealing with a store that wantonly sells "peasant shirts, halter tops and tankinis that are most often worn by people who have no business even thinking about peasant shirts, halter tops and tankinis."


   • In one breath, I wish a heartfelt congratulations to the 2003 graduates of the University of Indiana-Bloomington, most notably to the one graduate who is deserving of a mention in this IFRAME. Here's hoping that rainstorm that slammed Speedway was a small one, and that Dick Lugar's address was more than just a filibuster to your evening benders.

   Yet in another breath, I have to say that I can't fathom that students go to college in a town anywhere other than Boston. I realize reality keeps everyone from attending school in the city proper, but at least personally, I can't construct a reality where I could have gone to college in any other location and had anywhere near as completely rewarding a time.

   Today was one of those Boston days that should just be bottled and shipped nationwide by the city tourist bureau. They're a little hard to remember when it's January 17 and you've just stepped in a slush puddle three leagues deep, but they're the kind of days that make you forget the winter "wonderland." Seventy degrees, slightest warm breeze, the streets packed with people, and the schedule packed with nothing in a city full of somethings.

   At its best, I'll hold Boston up against any city in the world ... yes I'm biased as a native New Englander, but I'm confident enough that it would come out with a MLB Playoffs-contending winning percentage in the end. Course at its worst, it's look out Detroit, the Tigers have company.

   Everyone should start every day with a good haircut, then take a walk in the sunshine with someone they love. Be treated to a nice lunch, buy a couple of CDs, then get lightly dragged clothes browsing while receiveing a cheese grater and some kitchen shears.

   But not a $100 corkscrew, even if it was on sale.

   However, should these sorts of things be impossible for you to enjoy, I do have the non-wistful wisdom you've come to expect from here.

   Meaningless Fact Of The Second: The roof panels of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis form a swastika in the center. I suppose "Win! Twins!" does have a bit of a Fascist ring.


May 9, 2003 - Getting Carded
   A Clarification: I have not actually lost near to $2,794 betting on sports, as had been previously reported. The word 'nearly' being a relative term, it means different things to different people and in different times. For example, $1.65 could be near to $2,794, if we were speaking relative to the national debt, currently $6.478 trillion.

   However, given how much people have lost in the stock market over the last few years, and the people I saw flinging chips around the MGM Grand in Detroit, the concept of humans losing $2,794 in a short period isn't one foreign to those I've seen in action.

   Another Clarification: Despite my gas tonight smelling like the shrimp scampi meal that I made for dinner, I would much rather make another shrimp scampi meal and eat it than continue to vicariously relive the smell of the meal through the methane I am producing.

   Final Clarification: The shrimp scampi meal came from a bag. Although I would easily be able to reproduce the meal I made tonight, using a much higher quality of ingredients, the chances of this ever happening in a non-hypothetical sense will remain low until things like pasta, salad and pizzas are eliminated from the food web.


   • Selling decks of cards similar to those given to the U.S. soldiers in Iraq? Been there, done that.

   But making up your own deck, and thus only kind of ripping off the entire concept? Now that's capitalism.


May 8, 2003 - Stumbling Into Ecstacy
   Today's Quote Ripped Completely Out Of Context:

"It also amazes me how Demers and other anti-hunters are such control freaks. For example, they want to control what to write about, what to read, what to photograph, what to eat, what not to eat, how to spend leisure time and how not to spend leisure time. They'd have been good SS agents for Hitler,
especially for his book-collecting and burning missions."
-- Hunting writer, responding to a critical letter from an anti-hunting woman.

   Attention UMC c/o 2003: Your graduation speaker? Smooth soul legend Roberta Flack! Hope she won't be killing you softly with her speech, killing you softly ...


   • We've now entered another level.

Amazin' In The Amazon: Von Ertfelda Makes Reality Show Finale
by Jon Couture, Standard-Times staff writer

   Showing the physical prowess and mental acumen that has him being called "unstoppable" in promos for Sunday's season finale, Dartmouth-raised Matthew Von Ertfelda won the two most sought-after prizes in last night’s episode of CBS's 'Survivor' -- a new Saturn Ion, and the immunity necklace that secured his place in the show's final four.

   Yes, he truly was on fire. Although given the other major event of the night's episode, that is a statement that likely hits a little too close to home.

   As Heidi Strobel, a 24-year-old gym teacher from Buffalo, Mo., became the latest hopeful voted off the show, the remaining quartet were still dealing with a fire that consumed their entire shelter and nearly all of their belongings.

   As the tribemates were at the episode’s reward challenge, in which Mr. Von Ertfelda won a 2003 Saturn Ion Quad Coupe, a campfire left burning ignited wood left nearby to dry, which then ignited the shelter.

   "I believe in fate, and this was probably unavoidable," Mr. Von Ertfelda said, who lost all of his warm clothes in the fire. "Basically, it was an inferno waiting to happen."

   It was really the only setback for Mr. Von Ertfelda, who dominated both the episode's reward challenge and the immunity challenge, which required tribe members to negotiate five rope obstacles and retrieve feathers placed at the end of each. He completed the fifth obstacle before any of his tribemates had even completed four.

   All that was left following the challenge was the vote, which seemed a foregone conclusion given the strong alliance the show's three remaining men -- Mr. Von Ertfelda, computer projects coordinator Rob Cesternino and school principal Butch Lockley -- had formed. Sensing their fate was likely decided, Ms. Strobel and swimsuit model Jenna Morasca were content to let the men rebuild the tribe’s shelter as they sat and watched.

   "We're not doing any work," Ms. Morasca said. (The men) are going to vote us off. Why would we help (them)?"

   Ms. Morasca, who claimed she was coming down with a case of tonsillitis, was likely spared at tribal council because she was in a weaker state than Ms Strobel.

   The tribe's 3-2 vote -- both women voted for Mr. Cesternino to be eliminated -- leaves a final four of Ms. Morasca plus the three remaining men, a setup Mr. Von Ertfelda seemed happy with.

   "I'm so stoked that I've crafted really strong relationships with Rob and with Butch," Mr. Von Ertfelda said. "They both think I'm going to the final two with them."


   The story is a little longer than I usually go on a Survivor recap, but that would be because it was on Page A1, also known as "the page in the front where they put important stuff." Sure, it was #5 of 5 out there, but things seem rather likely to step up from there.

   Tomorrow evening, as I start a shift where I'll lay out the front page, I'll accept the assignment of covering the Sunday night Survivor finale, which will likely involve calling both Matthew's parents, and quite possibly the man himself, in addition to regular watching duties. This will come a day after I could have gotten in on a conference call with Survivor host Jeff Probst had I been in the office early.

   Sure, he wouldn't have said much, but really, I probably wouldn't have either.

   If you've actually been watching Survivor, you might be curious to know how I think the final four will shake out. Having seen the way things are falling into place, I do have a theory based both on intuition and on a possible spoiler.

   But damn if I'm going to ruin it for you. And besides, the advice of someone who has lost nearly $2,794 betting on sports isn't exactly the best guy to be listening to EVER.

   However, it's about good enough for the mental mosters seeking to change the UMass Amherst sports teams from the Minutemen to the Gray Wolves. Hey gang, know what makes your logo apparel sell better? Not having a basketball team that loses 15 games a year.


May 7, 2003 - It's Nice To Have Groceries
   Parading Fake Sport Of The Day: The World RPS Society, as in "Rock, Paper, Scissors." Though it seems almost too hard to believe to be real, as CollegeHumor put it, "I love how there's an advanced."

   Traffic Update: Thusfar for the month of May, the top search string used to reach this site is "She was very smallc_ckf_ck." So if you're here on those coattails ... congratulations. A winner, you are.


   • As a child, the idea of the gift list was something I took very seriously. For Christmas, it'd be started pretty much right after Thanksgiving. For my birthday, it was less formal, but still important. Generally things were put in number order, and in some years, I would even calculate the percentage of things I received on the list afterwards.

   Typically, my undoing came in the form of clothes.

   When you're a kid, you never ask for clothes. Clothes are the disappointment that happen when you ask for too many toys. You know you're going to get some, and you take it for granted. Opening a wrapped box and seeing that Filene's logo, or even just the form of the clothing box, brought that moment of realization, followed by that feeling of mild letdown.

   My parents caught on to this after a while, and began putting non-clothing items in clothing boxes. It really was one of their better schwerves, in so much as "schwerve" is being used as an actual word.

   So we come to 2003, and my birthday. Aside from the oddness of my mother needing to badger about telling her what I want, I finally came to a conclusion about just what I'd like on Monday. Not video games, not a stack of DVDs or a new stereo.

   I want clothes. And a TiVo ... but mainly clothes.


May 6, 2003 - C's The Day
   Parading Fake Sport Of The Day: The Flair Bartenders Association, which would like you to believe that bartending is a sport.

   While I will agree that the ability to pour accurately and make drinks quickly is a medium for competition, and the skills needed to safely flip four bottles without them leaking everywhere in the air are to be marveled at, but a sport?

   Baseball is a sport. Football is a sport. Martinis? Not a sport.


   • You wouldn't think many things would faze the average grocery clerk, since they routinely see people buy condoms, tampons and the like. But go to the store and buy two pizzas -- one a three meat blend, the other vegetarian.

   I just wish she could have figured out why I bought scallions, because damn if I know.

   So, Bob Ryan has been suspended for one month by the Boston Globe because of comments he made about Jason Kidd's wife, Joumana. Joumana, by the way, is a really stupid name. Anyway, as cribbed from the Boston Sports Media Watch:

"The first question of the night, however, was if fans have the right to verbally abuse an athlete, with Jason Kidd coming to town for another series with the Celtics. The fans were harsh on Kidd last year, perhaps crossing the line. Byron Scott said it shows the Boston fans have no class. In New Jersey last year, a fan had the sign asking someone to stab Paul Pierce. The poll showed 60% of fans say the price of a ticket grants them license to be verbally abusive. Bob Ryan says there is line somewhere, but it’s hard to say where it is and when it is crossed. He thinks the biggest problem is with profanity, with so many children in the stands. Ryan says that Kidd’s wife should not come to the Boston games, that she is an exhibitionist and that they’ve used their child as a prop. Lobel tells Ryan that he’s actually inciting the fans by making comments like that. Ryan says it’s the truth, and that she parades around in ridiculous outfits, Jason Kidd gear all over the place, doesn’t just slink in quietly. It would be nice however, if clever witty people could say clever witty stuff without resorting to profanity. This guy has a record, it’s a public record, he has to accept that it is going to be brought up. Lobel says Ryan is just throwing gasoline on the fire like the Red Sox bullpen. Ryan says he has issues with this woman, she wants to be a TV star, wants face time on camera, brings the cute little kid with her, and Bob says he just wants to smack her."

   The problem comes in when you know Joumana Kidd was the victim of domestic violence ... at the hands of Jason Kidd, who tonight on SportsCenter ironically said, "Saying you want to hit someone is like saying you're going to kill someone."

   Rather than rant further, as my hair isn't getting any shorter, I'll direct you here and here, spots which say everything I'd want to anyway.

"So let's get this straight, Byron. The man who said he would like to smack Joumana should be fired, but the man who actually smacked her - the man who punched her in the face, made her bleed, spit food on her and chased her into the bathroom where she called 911 - is your main man? You love him, right coach? You don't just defend his right to keep his job - you will beg him to stay on your team and pay him $20 million a year to hang around."
-- Gerry Callahan of the Boston Herald


May 5, 2003 - Taqueriffic
   Sign You're Season Isn't Going Well: Rey Sanchez is apparently getting haircuts during Mets games. This is ludicrous. Unbelievable. Hard to even start to fathom.

   Yet it's nothing compared to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim advancing to the Western Conference finals. I'd like to think somewhere Emilio Estevez is smiling.


   • It almost seems cosmic that every time I somehow defame the Free Press, I'm quickly reminded why I kept working there as long as I did.

   As a Coors Light commercial would phrase it, "I ... love ... burritos at 8 p.m. Talking about my job. Making tasteless jokes. Having someone say at 9 p.m. that they'll join us at 1 a.m., laughing at them, then staying out until 3. Drinking cherry-flavored beer to chase the lighter fluid vodka. Eating Sicilia's fries at 3 a.m. Driving on an empty Route 93. And bed."

   Well, the beer guys might make it rhyme a little better.

" I slid down an Alp!"
-- Caroline, recently back from Europe

Wrestling With MLB's Starry Eyes
-- Cooch, recently back from Brookline.


May 4, 2003 - The Marsh 'Memorial' Entry
   American Pie 3. Why? Is Universal really that hard up for money? Must they force me to live through those August weeks where I refuse to go out of protest, yet deep down wish I could just be stupid enough to enjoy a movie lacking more than half of the essential cast? Did Major League III need to be rivaled in cellulite Cocytus?

   Why must they pee on my dreams, readers? Why must they defecate on my fantasies? Why must they force me to quote myself, circa 8/11/01, when I said, "I fear if they make an 'American Pie 3.' It can't work."? Why do I always feel I need to overstate my case by using grand exaggerations involving pee and poo?

   It all goes back to the tagline of the original Cooch's World, a tagline that Jennifer and I cited often back in the day. People, for lack of a stronger pen, are dumb.


   • The above, sadly, is not unbelievable. What is unbelievable, and associated with today, is that I was mocked for refusing to pay $25.50 to go see Bon Jovi perform in 2003 A.D. With the Goo Goo Dolls opening, Jon Bon Jovi. For $25. I was heckled.

   I believe one of my exact explanations was that, "Were I give tickets to see Bon Jovi in concert, I would sell them. If I'm in the car and a Bon Jovi song come on the radio, there's barely even a 50-50 chance that I won't turn the radio off."

   And yet, I was told I was the weird one. That Bon Jovi is "good," and that there are plenty of people who have sworn of acid washed denim who felt this way.

Brian & Lisa
-- I can only confirm two.

   I've never met the guy in the photo, though he's apparently been briefed on many of my friends via the Posse page. Not surprising given the girl has long been a critical member of the site, even if today she told me she'd stopped reading it a while ago because I write about boring stuff.

   Lisa and I have had a very special relationship, very much based on stories that would all probably have been retold here had the site been around when they happened ... being made fun of because I don't like Bon Jovi is pretty much par for the course. Course, given the alternative is attempting to foster intelligent debate about Saturday's Democratic presidential debate, I may as well tell them now.

   The following are not to be construed as an attempt to color Lisa "stupid." Please bear in mind both that I'm telling these stories on a Web site devoted to myself, and that I once fell off a see-saw and landed on my head.

   • The two of us met at a high school semi-formal undoubtably not unlike the one featured above. We were (somewhat) randomly placed at a table together, and I was a good friend of her date. Most of our conversations that night centered around the fact that the chicken we were eating was downright awful -- the sauce on it tasted like a mixture of giblets and death. Had the meal actually been good, there's a good chance we might never have spoken.

   This was the dance my date and I left at about 10 p.m. because we wanted Taco Bell, then wanted to sit in the Taco Bell parking lot. As you can see, I've been a class act for years.

   • She didn't continue to date Brian long, but at some point point I was invited over to his house to "play video games" with them. Theoretically, I should have known better than to willingly make myself the third wheel. Instead, I was left to just think "Don't turn around and look, don't turn around and look" for the better part of an hour.

   Thinking back on it, the fact that I spent an hour playing video games by myself while a couple something-ed behind me ... that pretty much sums up the first twenty years of my life.

   • The two of us are just flirty enough that, in the rare periods we were single at the same time, it seemed almost inevitable that we'd end up together ourselves. One of the more notable of these periods involved when Lisa came to my house to watch this Super Bowl, a night when my mother became so drunk she started screaming at the instant replays. Full out, complete with fist pumps, just "Kill 'em! KILLLL 'EM!!!!"

   Within an hour, Mom had passed out on her bed. And I stress those words are not "fell asleep."

   • That freshman summer, I was at Lisa's house, watching TV, when we started having some sort of playful scuffle. In the fracas, she belted me in the face with a pillow and ran off into the next room.

   As I was about to get up and investigate, I heard this loud "thud" from the next room. She had managed not so much to trip over her own feet, but trip over her own three-inch sandals. If only she'd known that such shoes can be dangerous, even if fashionable.

   • But later that summer came the best story of all. I remember getting a phone call from Lisa to come over to ther house quickly, because something was wrong. I can't remember exactly what the story was, whether it was that her house was haunted or that there was a burglar in it, but the evidence revolved around being able to hear a train in her backyard and that there was a cat food can in her driveway that "wasn't there before."

   As if the whole thing hadn't sounded ludicrous enough on the phone, when I got there, I was greeted by both she and freshman year roommate, patrolling the house with serrated bread knives.

   Thank you for reading. If you would like to be part of a 'memorial' entry, simply send a photo and tell me that you stopped reading the site because it "got boring." Apparently that's all it takes.


May 3, 2003 - New And Exciting Ways To Lose
   Sputtering Spite: Given my stance on Northern New England -- as spelled out in the March 16 entry -- I should be reveling in the collapse of the Old Man of the Mountain, New Hampshire's most recognizable and most valued symbol. But hard as I try, I just can't do it. It's too meaningful a natural landmark, and it will be missed.

   Thankfully though, New Hampshire Gov. Craig Benson threw me a bone by promising today that the face would be restored and be rebuilt. Sure, technology would probably make it possible. But the beauty of the original was that it was created by nature ... a "sign to show that there (in N.H.) (God) makes men," according to Daniel Webster. And the fact that it was the ORIGINAL, CREATED BY NATURE.

   I don't know. If done right, maybe a rebuilt Old Man would be better than none at all. Or maybe Gov. Benson was just saying the thing the state wanted to hear right now. But there's at least a chance, and we'll see how large in the coming months, that Craig Benson, current governor of New Hampshire, is a massive schlong knob.

   In my minimal-swearing world, I've had to eschew my favorite cuss, f--kt-rd. Truly tragic, isn't it?


   • Not that this will surprise anyone, but my enjoyment of the Kentucky Derby was greatly increased not just by betting on the race, but by being in the room with other people who had bet on the race.

   Course they'd only bet on the race because I'd encouraged them to, and the room was my workplace, but we're all friends there. And it's not like we won anything.

   One decided that his best course of action would be to bet on the horse from the #1 post position, who went off at more than 43-to-1 odds. The race recap said pretty much all one needed to know about Supah Blitz's day ... "Drift out brush start, inside, no factor."

   Despite my claims to the contrary, we later found out that the #1 post position is, historically, among the most successful at the Derby. But bear in mind the Preakness breaks down a little differently. The Belmont is even stronger to the #1 form, though the lack of starts for each post position in the last two races makes the numbers a little less useful.

   One of my news deskmates decided to go with the "local" horse, the whaling-inspired Scrimshaw at 16.5-to-1. The horse got a lot of mentions for one that finished in 11th place, though I'm just realizing now that it's probably because she's trained by pony deity D. Wayne Lukas.

   One of the overlooked joys of Derby week are the thoroughbred-themed commercials that get airplay for rougly three weeks a year. My early favorite had been one for Claiborne Farms where they misspelled the name of 1990 Derby winner (and Claiborne horse) Unbridled as "Unbirdled," though it was quickly overtaken today by Bob Baffert ads for Diamond Cut Jeans.

   The jeans' main selling point seems to be increased crotch space, a fact they drive home by showing both animated and actual closeups of the crotches of their jeans. A cool cup of comedy, mixed with a sprig of recoiling disgust. Much like the office pronouncement that there was another Whale City-themed name on the card ... Domestic Dispute.


   My choice for the Derby was the best pick of the office, though given he went off at a shade under 9-to-1, the numbers said that'd be the case. I take some solace in knowing my choice finished fourth, and that had the race been the 12 furlong length of the Belmont, instead of the Derby's 10, I'd likely have picked the winner.

   Unfortunately though, that doesn't get any of the $170 and change I'd have collected in my pocket. Those monies and more go to bettors on Funny Cide, the Derby winner and first gelding to win the race since the 1920s. Apparently, you're never supposed to bet on a gelding ... just another factoid keeping me from being knowledgeable horse people.

   Imagine my delight when, perusing the celebrity picks section, I found I'd both bet in agreement with Larry King and a Fake Elvis, and been outdone by Cooch's World regular Anna Nicole Smith. I fear that this whole weekend will somehow make it's way into an Anna episode where she gets loaded on mint juleps and attempts to suck the phallus of her winning steed.

   Ah well ... I take solace in knowing that no matter how many squirrels find their nuts, no matter what "timeless" landmarks fall to the ground, Evan Marriott will continue to be dumber than me.

"I have no idea. Who am I bettin' on? Who the hell's runnin? Yeah. Well yeah, it's not really the Derby today, right? I don't even know if I'm going to be here tomorrow."
-- Yes, he could have been taped yesterday. But don't fight the point.


May 2, 2003 - It's Back!
   Today's Quote Ripped Completely Out Of Context:

"The simple fact that we see people walking around with masks in the news illustrates more urgency than is necessary. Now head lice -- that's something to be scared of. Give that a fancy name like SARS and no one will show up at school."
-- Father of a student who attends a school with a suspected SARS case.

   The Ivy League Word Of The Day: It's back! And today's word is bivouacked! Defined as "to make a bivouac -- a usually temporary encampment under little or no shelter," it was used in the context of an area set up in New Bedford to help deal with the animals harmed in the Buzzards Bay oil spill.

   The Ivy League Word of the Day will highlight some of the verbiage encountered when editing copy from some of our Ivy-educated reporters. This isn't an exercise to ridicule them ... it's more just to show exactly how many educated words I have no hope of ever learning.

   Dead '80s Wrestler Of The Day: What sadly could become a regular feature, I learned here yesterday that Miss Elizabeth is dead. The true shame, of course, being that she was due to reappear on WWE TV in like six months. I mean hell ... everyone else is.


   • It's that time of the year again. Much as I hate to turn this site into the average 13-year-old's LiveJournal, today's post-period talk will be all about me.

   Birthdays have that effect. As does not really having much else to say.

   Given where my birthday falls, most of the people I'd like to celebrate with have finals, studying and various excuse-worthy stuff. So because of that, and a tribute to my own ego-mania, Cooch's World proudly announces the Jon Couture Three-Day Birthday Celebration.

   Saturday, May 10: Lunch in Boston, at a place I've yet to decide. The leading candidate is either The Kinsale or Joe's in the North End, both of which would allow us to go to the New England Aquarium so I can look at the penguins.

   Sunday, May 11: Possibly events in both Boston and Feeding Hills, as it will be the first Sunday I've had off regularly since February. It's all about response, people.

   Monday, May 12: The plan is to go to Foxwoods, because the table minimums will be low on a weekday. But as with everything else here, this is subject to change based on my wanting to sleep or having no friends.

   Cooch at JonCouture dot com would be a good place to send suggestions and RSVPs. As I treat my birthday as a day to see people, not to get presents, let's keep me from spending the whole thing on my couch.

   Not that there's anything wrong with that.


May 1, 2003 - Life ... In An IFRAME
   It Is A Wheel Of Fortune: Walking out to my car in the 413 yesterday, I came upon an oriole sitting in a tree no more than ten feet away. Seeing it there, I thought for a moment of grabbing my camera from my car, to take a picture of a lovely scene.

   It was at about that moment that the brid turned, saw me, stared for a moment, took a poo and flew away.

   Isn't nature way awesome?


   • Today is a special day. A very special day, I say.

   Aside from it being May Day, the holiday that celebrates unions (and thus has dark undertones), aside from it being the start of the month-long birthday celebrations for both myself and this site, it's Survivor Day.

'Survivor' Contestant Advances
by Jon Couture, Standard-Times staff writer

   When it comes to winning the million dollars in CBS's 'Survivor,' making friends is important. Knowing how to work your alliances -- as well as the various challenges and tasks one comes across -- are also important skills.

   But not to be forgotten is making sure that those around always seem a better choice for ejection.

   Dartmouth-raised Matthew Von Ertfelda quietly advanced into the show's final five in last night's episode, as 24-year-old Christy Smith was voted out of the Amazon. Despite computer projects coordinator Rob Cesternino being in the crosshairs of those he double-crossed in last week’s show, he was able to work a last-minute alliance to oust the show's first-ever deaf contestant.

   In an episode full of discontent, Mr. Von Ertfelda provided the happiest moment. Winning the night's reward challenge, which earned him a visit with his mother, he opted to allow the other five contestants to have 10 minutes with one of their loved ones instead.

   "I felt like I was a god for a moment," Mr. Von Ertfelda said.

   Mr. Von Ertfelda then received an entire evening alone with his mom -- Kathy, who runs Dartmouth’s Peacock Horse Farm -- complete with a buffet dinner and a visit from members of an Amazonian tribe.

   On his expressive reaction after finding out he'd get to see his mother, Mr. Von Ertfelda, who has prefered to maintain a subdued demeanor, said, "It sucked. I had to express some emotion."


   But it's not a special day just because it's Survivor Day. It's a special day because it's the last day of classes at Boston University for 2002-03, and all of my friends who still go there are going through the cavalcade of emotions that entails.

"NO MORE PENCILS!
NO MORE BOOKS!
NO MORE TEACHERS DIRTY LOOKS!
HOLY CRAP"
-- Says one

"So, what's next?"
-- Says another.

"WOOO! PARTY!"
-- Says a third.

   Given I have recently gone through the entire escapade of graduating, I feel I can offer some reassurance to the Class of 2003 that. yes, you will come out on the other side both alive and well.

   Between now and graduation, you'll probably go to a lot of the senior events at whatever school you attend. I didn't, save the COM banquet that allowed me to drink on the COM Lawn, but such events are probably a good idea if you can get a group of people to go with who enjoy getting really drunk. I suppose you could do it without the drinking, but really, that defeats the purpose of the events' core reasoning.

   The actual weekend of your graduation, your family will come up for a whole other series of events. At BU, this means the Harbor Cruise, the Brunch, the Night At The Pops and something else I don't remember. Whether or not you want to do these events is irrelevant, because you're going anyway. Lucky for you, they're a lot of fun.

   The Pops concert, for me, was one of those, "Wow. I actually could enjoy this if done sparingly," kind of events, even if BU does have the worst school song in recorded history.

   That last weekend will move quickly into your actual graduation, which likely takes place over two ceremonies -- university-wide, the school-specific. Most of the day you won't actually realize just what is going on around you, but at some point you'll see yourself wearing that cap and gown and realize that today really is the point of all those nights you spent panicking about papers, and even the point of all those nights you partied to forget about papers.

   The day of your graduation isn't really about college being over -- and given how fatalistic I can be, you can know you won't be freaking out about it. It's a celebration day of all you've accomplished and all you will accomplish, even if your university tries to make the whole day about being depressed over 9/11. Also, your student speakers probably won't give convoluted speeches that are a complete waste of time, just to spite me.

   Then again, your school's honorary degrees probably won't go to as cool a pair as Bill Russell and Marisa Tomei.


   The summer won't seem any different than any other summer, even if you have a real job and are a member of the working world. You're still in enough of an alternate universe that it feels like an internship or summer job ... especially if it actually is an internship or summer job. It won't really hit you that college is over until September, when everyone starts going back to school ... and you don't.

   I suppose it depends on how you regarded college, but someone will invite you to a party, want you to go to a show ... and you won't be able to because you have work or something. That's a pretty shitty time.

   But you come out of it quick. Soon, you realize that all the things you did in college were working toward where you are now, and even if real life can be more boring at times, you'll find that in a lot of ways, it's a lot easier and more fun. As time goes by, you'll see things like how a real newspaper runs, and just why your experience at a place like The Daily Free Press really didn't count for much. And you'll still go back on occasion, to visit people and dabble in what used to seem like the only way you wanted to live your life.

   But then someone will mention something about a 15-page paper and 200 pages of reading. And you'll laugh ... laugh like the son of a bitch you are. Laugh like you saw the -3.5 pointspread on tonight's Celtics game, a line so ludicrously low that not betting on it should have been a crime in a dozen states.

   I knew I'd work that in here somehow.


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