May 31, 2004 - "Holiday Weekend"
   Not Dilbert, But Getting There: In an effort to clean up the office as a whole, the paper will be having a "Super Giant Colossal Clean-Up Celebration" on Flag Day, June 14.

   Why Flag Day?

To commemorate Flag Day and the freedom our flag stands for, we will have a company-wide cleanup day that will leave us FREE of the piles of clutter and debris that have accumulated in many places within both S-T locations. Large trash containers will be set out. Feel FREE to fill them!

When our clean-up day is over, we'll be FREE to greet and serve our customers in a work environment that is organized, neat and professional.

   I will admit this is at least catchy. Also, they're giving away $50 to a random winner in each department for those whose work areas are "clean, neat and organized, and show the greatest improvement."

   Maybe it's just me, but something seems inherently wrong with a contest based on neatness/anality that I don't automatically win.

Sox Showing Some Real Smarts
-- Considering I've already come out as saying Derek Lowe is at least looking over the edge of the cliff, it was nice to be sitting in his press conference thinking, "You're a nice guy. I'm not even going to mention you today." Course, then the manager blew up my column idea, but so be it.

   • You all know how I feel about the Calgary Flames, and how they need to win the Stanley Cup for Canada's sake.

   But with that said ...

Elvis, Flames. Flames, Elvis.

Elvis impersonators dressed as Calgary Flames fans cheer their team before the start of game four of the NHL Stanley Cup final in Calgary on Monday. (AP Photo/Jeff McIntosh)

   Wow.

   And that doesn't even include the face paint guy, or the pair who built the eight-foot Stanley Cup in their truck bed.


May 30, 2004 - Hot Doughnuts Later
   Site News: Some of you may have noticed you couldn't access this very Web site over the past few days. That would be because, in my infinite wisdom, I allowed the domain to expire sometime on Thursday.

   Without getting into the specifics of just how I pulled this off, I didn't have e-mail for about 48 hours this week. So should you be Lindsay Lohan and you sent your undying love letter to me in that period, please send it again. I was not ignoring you ... I just never got it.

   The first person who makes up such a letter and sends it to me as the aforementioned, yet is not the aforementioned, will be cruelly and rightly mocked for having no worthwhile hobbies.

   Apropos Of Nothing, A Random Political Aside: I got an e-mail from PayPal this week encouraging me to update my registration information.

   Apparently, failing to do so violates the USA Patriot Act.

   You learn something new every day.


   • In a slightly-less-random aside, I'd like you to read this little snippet from here regarding The Cave, an apartment in Amherst that my current girlfriend has frequented over her UMass time.

The Cave has blinds tacked down over most of its windows, has three XBoxes, at least six televisions, a PS2 somewhere, a never-ending supply of Mountain Dew, four bedrooms, three semi-permanent female guests, eleven computers as best I can count, two remote-controlled trucks, a large collection of erotic fantasy art (Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell, mostly), four blowdart thingies, about 600 DVDs, and the scariest kitchen and bathroom you've ever seen. Also, three of the four guys who live here are 6'3" or taller, and in addition to that fine collection of other features, this apartment sports a charming collection of not-quite-7' ceilings, except in the living room where it's this sort of strange atrium with stadium seating built out of two
well-placed, only-slightly-broken futons.

And so when I say that, "despite the kitchen's best efforts, I did manage to make myself a peanut butter sandwich," you now have a pretty good idea of just what the kitchen's efforts could have, and did, entail.

   A small piece of me probably died upon reading this, since I'd more or less taken the comments I'd heard about this place to mean it was a decent place to hang out.

   I'm pretty sure that were I to enter it, I'd just immediately turn to either sand or convulsions.

   Anyhow, I was in Boston today. I will be there again on Monday for a Red Sox game, but that likely won't entail a two-and-a-half hour meal at The Cheesecake Factory as much as it'll entail the $9 media brunch that really shouldn't be within $10 of what I ate this afternoon.

   I'm not sure what this means, but given I had a several minute discussion with Vito over the ad in the menu promising a custom lithograph of onesself, the day was well beyond a success.

   Given the actual number of people I know who live in the city proper is more or less at zero, trips to the vicinity of the alma mater take on a whole new meaning now. I always knew deep down that the school, and to a lesser extent the city, wouldn't hold that same special significance it has for so long forever. I fear I'm starting to reach that point.

   There's just so much that has happened there.

   When you spend the better part of six years somewhere -- never mind the six years that have done as much to form who you are as any other -- this is going to happen. The friends gained and lost, the nights, the days, all of it. There are undoubtedly moments I've forgotten that are well worth remembering, just as the opposite is true.

   Yet I can't help but notice in those moments traveling to and from my car for a game, given the events of the past week, the negative spots much moreso than the positives.

   I have two framed items hanging on my walls in Whale City -- it's only two because the day I was all gung-ho about decorating, I very quickly decided I would wait to get the bureau and assorted other furniture I'm now still waiting for before going said gung-ho.

   The first is a small photo of Pedro Martinez in his prime.

   The other is my diploma from Boston University.

   I can't help but wonder when I look at the first if Pedro really does have some gas left in him.

   And I can't help but wonder when I look at the second if another Couture will ever receive a similar certificate again.

   The moral of the story? Well, if you're Vito, don't take offense that I turned a delightful meal into the kind of introspective crap you'd expect from an angst-ridden teen. If you're Julie, don't take me to The Cave unless you want to see sand or convulsions.

   And if you're Matt? Well, that moral hasn't been written yet. Better get out your pen and start forming it up.


May 29, 2004 - Rolling In My Saturn
   Not Your Average Sports Reporter: First off, I write a lot about soccer.

Not Your Average Teen? That's Safe To Say
-- Live from Foxboro on the laptop, it's a relatively awful soccer match! Even if I'd seen the game's only tally, it wouldn't have been any better ... between the own goal and Adu coming out after an hour, some hack somewhere is going write a rip column on this one.

A League Of Their Own
-- Local trio playing for fledgling women's soccer team, says the drophed. These are the people who, in a press release, are encouraging fans to come to their July 11 game against the California Storm. At that game, you can see California's Brandi Chastain, "who once removed her shirt after a game."

   But beyond that, your average sports reporter certainly doesn't have the following things happen to them. I missed the fifth-minute goal in the Revs-D.C. United game because I walked up the Gillette Stadium ramps to the fifth-floor press box instead of taking the elevator, only to find they'd locked the outside doors. On my run back to the concourse for the elevator, the goal was scored.

   About four hours later, I actually got locked in the press gate as the last reporter in the building mainly because I'd filed a live game feature and then just walked around the dark concourse for a half hour. At first I was looking for a bathroom, then upon finding one, I realized I could walk around an empty Gillette Stadium pretty much at my leisure.

   The problem arose when I didn't notice the gate to get from the press area to the parking lot had been locked until I'd walked through the revolving door to get out of the stadium proper, leaving me stuck outside Gillette, but unable to get to my car. So instead of being able to go the extra 20 feet and just walk out of a loading dock like stadium workers apparently do ...

   I had to wander the Patriots' practice fields out back, then climb over an eight-foot security fence, cutting my wrist open in the process.

   Dan Shaughnessy, I'd wager, has never climbed over an eight-foot fence in his life.


   • I don't write about music very often, but as though a karmic way to reward my dawdling, I came upon one of the most satisfying stretches of music ever played consecutively on the radio. Courtesy of 106 WCOD, The Cape's Best Music That I Stumble Across By Accident:

   Vertical Horizon, "Everything You Want" -- 1999 -- VH was one of those bands of the late '90s who showed a lot of promise, yet promptly disappeared from the landscape. Of course, I'd say exactly the same thing about Our Lady Peace, but I came across their second album in a bargain bin somewhere and realized they actually still were making music.

   Vertical Horizon, meanwhile, released a follow-up in 2003, but I can't be bothered to see if it actually is worth anyone's time.

   Dave Matthews Band, "What Would You Say" -- 1994 -- The song that ultimately has me owning four DMB albums that I never listen to. As this was their big splash single, I'm not the only one, but I may be the only one who feels like the band went in the toilet with 99.44 percent of everything they released after 1996's Crash.

   'Under The Table And Dreaming' came out ten years ago ... that sounds about right, but it's still a hell of a shot in the chops.

   The B-52's, "Love Shack" -- 1989 -- 'Cosmic Thing' probably should have been the first album I ever bought, beating Oasis and "Definitely Maybe" by a full five years, but I just never did. I do remember it being the first CD I ever saw that had art on it as opposed to nothing more than a track listing and record label logo, but that was at my uncle's house at a point well past 1989.

   You all know "Love Shack." You all love "Love Shack," and you probably all sing it when you're alone in your car and it comes on the radio. Except for Noted Co-Worker Music Snob Nick, who probably throws up out his window and starts pretending he's at a Who show. Let's just move on.

   Barenaked Ladies, "Pinch Me" -- 2000 -- One of the only band T-shirts I own has the little thumbs-up logo that came about via the video for this song. Wearing it makes me feel a little cooler than it probably should, but really, that goes for most everything I say and do.

   The three songs before are rather frenetic, whereas this one is pretty subdued, especially considering the band we're dealing with. What this says about me and my musical tastes as a whole I will leave as an exercise for the reader.

   The Proclaimers, "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" -- 1988/1993 -- At this point, I was driving around Dartmouth just because I wanted to see how this streak of songs was going to end. I have no special affinity for this song more than anybody else who looks at the Reid Brothers and says, "Wow. I'm much cooler looking than them."


   There was a commercial break after that, and following a blank whose name I can't recall, it was Fastball's "Out Of My Head", off one of my favorite albums that I don't own, and Britney Spears's "Toxic", which I will argue is the best song of this decade that is completely and thoroughly awful. Just an absolute disaster of an abomination, and yet, entertaining.

   Well, at least until a certain young Hollywood starlet releases the rock album she's supposedly going to be working on this summer. I have to believe it'll be a race to the bottom of the barrel, though I've been wrong about these things before.


May 28, 2004 - Impressively Average
   Let The Endless Airings Begin: Greg Raymer of Stonington, Conn., who unsurprisingly plays most of his poker at Foxwoods, won the World Series of Poker main event tonight, taking a $5 million first prize.

   Since ESPN won't actually air the final table's final moment until Sept. 14, impress your friends by predicting the future nearly four months in advance.


   • Today, eight of us from the paper got together for a 2-on-2 basketball tournament, one of the first times I've played an actual pickup game since the summer of Nashua before my senior year.

   That summer, in what had to be at least 7 tries, my team never won a game.

   It nearly happened again.

   I still shoot too much. The fact that I know I shoot too much, and yet continue to do it anyway, is really perhaps the most disturbing part.

   As for actual results, Ed and I lost to Zach (19-year-old former NB High player) and another one of the 30 Jons on the sports staff 15-10 in a game where I had all 10 of our points -- we did lead 4-0, at least. They'd go on to "win the tournament," beating managing editor Dan and tall-but-can't-shoot photographer Andy 15-13 in a final that was 12-3 at one point.

   Ed and I salvaged a win in the "consolation game" -- 11-4 over sports editor Jon and Derek, both of whom outweight me by at least 100 pounds. I'd actually played in their first game when Jon bailed out at 2-1.


   If nothing else, it's good to see I still have the fitness to run around like an idiot, even if my basis of comparison is halfcourt basketball against a group of which the majority is older and in worse shape than me.

   Just be glad I didn't take sportswriter-style notes and turn this into a game story.

   I do need something to do for tomorrow.


May 27, 2004 - When It Rains, It Pours (On Todd)
   The Question: Hearty congratulations are due to Mr. Mark Coen, Esq., whose episode of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? aired on Thursday. He won $64,000, and may not have won any more had he used me as his phone-a-friend. I might have saved him a lifeline, but it's hard to complain when you make double my yearly salary for 20 minutes work.

   I would comment further, but I of course forgot it was on and missed it. I knew this would happen all the months ago when he taped the show, so really, at least I get to reaffirm my stupidity.

   As the "lawyer" who motivated the disclaimer on the bottom of the site, congrats on becoming the second BUCB veteran to appear on a game show.


   • Red Sox fan site Boston Dirt Dogs is now the property of Boston.com and The New York Times Company. It was purchased and the site's administrator, Steve Silva, will become a sports producer at the site that's been my home page since I went to college.

   Given Silva promised that he would close the site down if the A-Rod-to-Boston deal failed to materialize, which last I checked it did, it's good to see credibility still means something in the journalism business.

   Regular Ending: Honestly, good for him. For what the site is, it's fine. Though I'm really not sure the world needs what the site is, since most of us can get our points across ...

WITHOUT
25-PT TYPE.

   Politicized Ending: Though I shouldn't be surprised, given we are dealing with The New York Times.

   I wonder if after the merger, any of his links will actually lead to the things they're supposed to lead to. Though maybe I'm asking too much.


May 26, 2004 - The Truth Hurts
   The Ben Affleck Experience: If you're not a Red Sox fan or in New England at the moment, you may not realize that Boston native and former tabloid star Ben Affleck has become America's top fan expert on the Boston Red Sox. Many have become perturbed by this, given Affleck is probably not any smarter on the subject than your average Joe.

   Somehow, I think this picture captures that.

Tim & Ben

Actor Ben Affleck, right, talks with Boston Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield during the first inning of a game against the Oakland Athletics at Fenway Park in Boston on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

   Now, to actually be considered talking with someone, doesn't the other party have to look more like they're not secretly hoping you are clipped by a meteorite? Can you not just feel Wakefield's mantra echoing through his head?

"Act like you don't see him. Act like you don't see him. Act like you ..."

   At least they won, and Ben is setting a precedent for Sox fans who attend Dodgers games.


   • It should be no surprise that I often go out of my way to mock the three states I'm crusading against -- Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. In so much as the concentrated attack started 3/16/03, it has grown now to being less vocal, but by no means less strong.

   With that in mind, I give you the Lewiston, Maine, resident who made her prom dress out of Starburst wrappers.

Sweet
-- Nina Sysko, Lewiston High School. Flip-flops sold separately.

   Let's be as civil about this as possible while still maintaining the air of prickitude that makes me the guy who sweats a little when he reads The Onion story, "Asshole Admits To Being Asshole In Supreme Asshole Move."

   When we were at the Women's Open Media Day on Monday, a female representative from Mount Holyoke College, which owns the course, spoke. As one of the nation's premier all-women's colleges, hosting the nation's premier women's golf tournament, there is a level of expectation about the tone that will be taken in her remarks. The sort of tone that allows her to end by looking over to defending champ Hilary Lunke and say, "You go, woman!"

   This is not good or bad necessarily. It's just what one expects from the representative of a major women's college.

   In the same way, making a prom dress out of Starburst candy wrappers is just what one expects from a Maine girl with a lip ring.

Sysko says so many people were snapping pictures of her at the prom that she felt like a movie star. And now, she says she's considering a career in fashion design.

   That's all well and good, though I can't decide if this is a step up or down from the Duct Tape fashion fad of previous years.

   I'm more concerned about the kid in the back with the top hat and cane hamming it up for no one in particular. If any more dork starts shifting over toward the East Coast, the whole country might just tip over.


May 25, 2004 - So Dirty, It Needs Three 'R's
   Chain Letter Of The Fortnight: I got this from Lisa sometime in the past week, and really, I'm shocked I'm still able to go outside for fear of touching wang.

THIS GIVES A WHOLE NEW MEANING TO THE WORD 'STATISTICS'...

During an hour's swimming at a municipal pool you will ingest 1/12 liter of urine.

In an average day your hands will have come into indirect contact with 15 penises (touching door handles, etc.). Remote controls in hotels are the worst! (Always carry your Lysol spray!)

An average person's yearly fast food intake will contain 12 pubic hairs.

In a year you will have swallowed 14 insects -- while you slept!

Annually you will shake hands with 6 women who have recently masturbated and failed to wash their hands.

Annually you will shake hands with 11 men who have recently masturbated and failed to wash their hands.

In a lifetime 22 nosey workmen doing work in your home, will have examined the contents of your dirty laundry basket. We won't even go into guests snooping in your medicine cabinet.

At an average wedding reception you have a 1/100 chance of getting a cold sore from one of the guests. Mouth herpes.

Daily you will breathe in 1 liter of other peoples' anal gases.

YOU HAVE A GREAT DAY NOW ! ! !

   Now, the true comedy in this lies not in the unshown here cartoon images done by these people -- this Flash being a relative favorite -- but in that at the bottom of the e-mail is the confidentiality message companies often attach to their corporate e-mail accounts.

   I hope the courts don't think this counts as medical information.


   • Tell me I'm not alone in seeing this.

Nick & Jessica & That Girl & The Giants QB
-- Nick Lachey & Jessica Simpson, meet Giants backup Jesse Palmer
and that girl he picked on "The Bachelor" who may be named Jennifer.

   These are just the same people, right? As in they've both been produced in the same place, a reality-love factory the equivelant of the one Lou Perlman has in Florida churning out boy bands at the rate of about three a year.

   To say this defies logic is probably a little strong, especially given what we're dealing with, but things like this don't happen by accident, right?

   Somehow, this ties in with the Nick & Jessica Variety Hour. I just wish I knew how or why.


   Hey, it was this or a discussion about how the sign by the coffee machine downstairs at work encourages people to be courteous to their "fellow coworkers," as though there are coworkers somewhere whom we do not work alongside. But really, besides the boring factor of, "Ooh, look! Bad grammar at a newspaper!," I'd leave a participle dangling somewhere and completely blow my already pockmarked credibility.

   I heart Louisiana.


May 24, 2004 - Caroline's Magazines
   Junked Junket: As could have easily been predicted, a line of thunderstorms did in today's U.S. Women's Open media play day at The Orchards. Defending champ Hilary Lunke had an excellent quote about how she has no desire to play with the men, and how she turned down a big appearance fee to play with the guys in Asia:

"This course had a 250-yard par 3 over water. I would have had to stand there all afternoon until I had to quit, I guess."

   but as soon as lunch ended, the sky went dark gray and the staccato bursts of downpour began. By the time the Sun came back out, the course was a swamp.

   In the end, it probably works out better this way. Instead of having to play with fellow media, we got a voucher for a round sometime before the middle of June, when I'd presume the course is closed to all play.

   And I got some swings in on a more comfortable track.

Hole
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
OUT
Yards
480
375
144
465
121
360
385
560
155
3045
PAR
5
4
4
4
3
4
4
5
3
35
Cooch
5
4
4
5
3
6
4
4
4
39
• Agawam Municipal GC - Feeding Hills, Mass. •
Hole
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
IN
Yards
475
395
348
160
322
145
554
475
180
3054
PAR
5
4
4
3
4
3
5
5
3
36
Cooch
5
4
4
4
6
4
5
6
3
41
PAR 71
80, 9 OVER PAR
6099 YARDS
Birdies: 1 - Pars: 9 - Bogeys: 6 - Others: 2
Fairways Hit: 1 of 12 - Greens In Regulation: 5 of 18 - Putts: 27

   Considering I hit all of one fairway all afternoon -- that would have been greeeeat on a USGA championship track -- to break 40 for the first time since August 2000 and come within inches of the 70s for the first time since high school is beyond absurd.

   Nine one-putts will do that. As will having played Agawam Municipal since I was 13.


   • But enough golf, for God's sakes.

   As amazing as it may be to believe after three years of this, I am not a celebrity. I only travel like one, having gone from Feeding Hills to Boston to New Bedford to South Hadley to Feeding Hills to New Bedford in the last 36 hours.

   I'd Mapquest this, but it would just end up a five-line URL and a picture like this:

Driving A Lot
-- Never good to get gas at the same station two days in a row.

   Finally being forced to pay more than $2 a gallon aside, it's been a hectic run of it. Whereas most people wouldn't be writing anything inane when they had other things going on, I continued to without fail each morning. Despite getting home at 2 a.m. and needing to be up for 9 on Sunday, despite getting home at 2:30 a.m. and needing to be up for 6:30 on Monday, the site is just part of what I do.

   It's a blessing and a curse, both to the text and its writer.

   The reason that Cooch's World continues to exist is always evolving. It started as almost a dare with myself -- I wanted to see if I could do this consistently. It then became a sort of time capsule, to help me remember one of the most exciting times of my life and the people with whom I shared it.

   The problem arises when looking at those things and days now, given what has happened since, depresses me greatly. It's not so much a case of knowing it will all never be that good again, but just that it will never be that again.

   Today, I think this is here almost exclusively to entertain those of you that read it. It serves a lot of purposes for me -- not the least of which is to keep my writing and opinion sharp -- but I feel like it's something best served for others. After all, if I just wanted to write, I could have a note pad I keep in a desk drawer.

   I just can't help feeling that it could be so much more.

   I just can't help that I keep saying that about so many aspects of my life.

   I'm not the kind of person who sticks his neck out, who makes that play at something bigger, and yet I need to be. When I look at so much -- people on TV, sports "experts" on the radio, the whole nine yards -- and feel like I could do just as well if not better, I actually believe it. I know the things I'm good at.

   Getting my foot in the door just really isn't one of them.

   With each passing second this is becoming less about the site, so let's cut it short. It's been three years, and really, I'd like to know why you're here. I'm not asking for a dissertation, and I know plenty have gone on their merry way along the road, but I am asking for at least a moment's thought. You read to the end ... there has to be a better reason than "I'm bored at work ... LoL!!1"

   Because if this is your first-choice Internet time-waster, that scares me even more than a certain Hollywood starlet reportedly sharing a kiss with fucking Wilmer "Fez" Valderrama.

   The distraught tone really is for comedic effect. Honest.

   If anything, things seem so much more attainable right now. I mean really ... I'm within at least a point of Fez on a 10-point scale, right?

   I am such a loser. And you love it.


May 23, 2004 - Muscle Guts And Skully Caps
   Celebration: Given I ostensibly "worked" from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. today, let's make tomorrow tomorrow again.

   Very Bond-like.

   Beautiful Girls: Aside from the entertainment value of the movie, I was left having to wonder which actually counts as less of an acting performance: Rosie O'Donnell as the unattractive, bitchy friend, or Michael Rapaport as the borderline-lunatic townie with maturity issues.

   Yeah, so he was born in New York City. Point remains the same.

   And I get the sense this was supposed to be set somewhere vaguely Western Mass.-ish, but I know a townie when I see one.


   • There was about a 25-minute stretch pre-game today where I was the only media member in the locker room. Nothing really happened, but it seemed rather cool once it was over.

Wakefield Leaves Jays Green With Envy
-- How I got through a whole column referencing Vermont without swearing or taking pot shots may be proof I can make it in this business yet.

   I'd say more, but I have to go fall asleep at the wheel now and play bad free golf.


May 22, 2004 - Three!
   Lightning 2, Flyers 1: Justin Lillis, wherever you are, I feel your pain.

   And NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, staring a Calgary-Tampa finals, an extended shutdown and a fruitless TV contract in the face? If you need help steadying the gun, just bite down on the barrel and go from there.

   America's "Sport": It's the moment exactly ten people have been waiting for -- the sizable bowling results from tonight's action at Bradley Bowl in Windsor Locks, Conn.

1st -- Eric R. -- 159.3 avg (High: 179)
2nd -- Cooch -- 147.3 avg. (172)
3rd -- Brian -- 120.7 avg. (121)
4th -- Charlie -- 116.3 avg (139)
5th -- Matt -- 110 avg. (117)
6th -- Jen P. -- 107.3 avg. (112)
7th -- Steph -- 89.3 avg. (96)
8th -- Julie -- 86 avg. (102)
9th -- Todd -- 68.7 avg. (92)
10th -- Lisa N. -- 64.7 avg. (88)

   Several things should be noted about tonight's action, not the least of which that someone said this:

"I remember looking at him and us saying, 'We don't know how!'"
-- On trying to French kiss someone while intoxicated.

   The numbers are in some ways generally skewed by only three games played, with variations given Matt only played two, Todd bowled a 27 because he was trying to spin the ball, Steph leaving during the third game and Lisa N. not having the experience some of us do because, well, she's been off in Iraq doing very important things.

   I'm not sure if "writing the LifeSavers people to get them to send CremeSaver Pudding to the Middle East" is among those things, but if not there are plenty of others I'm sure supercede that in importance.


   • Today is the third anniversary of Cooch's World as we know it.

   A lot has changed since the beginning -- not the layout, but a lot -- and despite the fact this thing has felt like it has been on its last legs for six months, here we are.

   So how shall we celebrate? Let's do what we do best.

   Repost old material:

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.
-- Update No. 1 from May 22, 2001.

   And promise to actually celebrate tomorrow.

   It's incredible to me how news that doesn't really affect a person, and thus there's no control over even more than the involved parties who have no control, can still create that emotional response.

   It could be just hitting hard because it's triggering a similar experience from my past all over again, but I know it's more because of the oddly tight bond between myself and the people who are written about here every day and who enjoy this place whenever they end up here.

   At the risk of ruining tomorrow's "celebration," that's the only reason I'm still here. Because you're all still here. Without you, there just wouldn't be a point.

   And really, that goes for far more than this stupid Web site.


May 21, 2004 - Two For Two
   Girly Drinks: In case you were ever wondering, when buying a strawberry daquiri, you only feel like less of a man about two-thirds of the way through.

   Given that was the point,and given I was with five others doing the same thing, it may have skewed the results a little. The research, however, still stands.


   • Tonight I went to what I have to believe is Western Mass's only hibachi restaurant. It's conveniently located in the middle of nearly nowhere, but really, that kind of thing goes without saying given it was in Western Massachusetts.

   The meal went entirely without incident, which is saying something considering patrons get grilled shrimp thrown at them and the chef lights a giant fire on the grill that gets about six inches from one's face. It seemed a very nice to thing to do after getting broadsided with one of those pieces of news that, while having no direct connection, seems so ludicrous that the more one thinks about it, the less sense it seems to make.

   There is no point in getting in any more depth that this, as the maddening part is it's one of those things where there are no words.

   I know that all too well.


   In lieu of that, however, I think I'll announce I'm giving up drinking again. No particular reason ... it's just been awhile.

   And let there be no doubt which team really rules Boston.


May 20, 2004 - Have To Make Some Phone Calls
   The Thing About Golf, Part Two: Sometimes, it's really mean.

Hole
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
OUT
Yards
295
381
516
157
335
332
121
339
127
2603
PAR
4
4
5
3
4
4
3
4
3
34
Cooch
6
6
8
5
5
5
4
4
5
48
• Wyckoff CC - Holyoke, Mass. •
48, 14 OVER PAR
Birdies: 0 - Pars: 1 - Bogeys: 3 - Others: 5
Fairways Hit: 3 of 6 - Greens In Regulation: 0 of 9 - Putts: 17

   Sometimes, It's Really Mean, Part Two: Upon coming back to Feeding Hills tonight, I went into my bedroom. On top of my bed's headboard bookshelf is a plastic picture frame.

   In the frame is the 50 Most Beautiful People writeup for a certain young actress who has been mentioned here a handful of times.

   Thanks, Mom. I hate you too.


   • I have nothing else to say. When my mother starts getting the better of me, I think it's time for me to just fold up the tent.

   At least Lewis Black and I seem to have something in common:

Even though he isn't quick to anger anymore, he says, "I used to be, which is part of the reason it took my career so long to roll around. Because I had no built-in editing thing. I would just snap."

In his family, "the more you yelled at somebody
the more it meant you liked them."

   Let's just remember this when I'm unjustly picked up for stalking or she stumbles across this after Googling my name. I'll "like" all of you so very, very much.


May 19, 2004 - Only One Flameout
   The Thing About Golf: Shooting a back-nine six shots better than your front is not equally good in the way the reverse is bad.

Hole
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
OUT
Yards
123
463
384
190
235
393
326
364
345
2823
PAR
3
5
4
3
4
4
4
4
4
35
Cooch
4
6
5
4
3
5
4
6
5
42
• Hawthorne CC - Dartmouth, Mass. •
Hole
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
IN
Yards
153
441
395
177
259
370
334
347
356
2832
PAR
3
5
4
3
4
4
4
4
4
35
Cooch
5
5
6
6
6
6
4
4
6
48
PAR 70
90, 20 OVER PAR
5655 YARDS
Birdies: 1 - Pars: 4 - Bogeys: 6 - Others: 7
Fairways Hit: 6 of 14 - Greens In Regulation: 4 of 18 - Putts: 34

   Handicap index is now up to 15.3, which apparently is where it should be. I'll be playing Monday's junket at The Orchards as a 15, so hopefully I can keep the self mockery at a low.

   Free Tickets For Being Nice: Delta's low-cost carrier Song will be doling out free tickets in the coming weeks to passengers who are, well, nice.

Help another passenger carry a bag, stay upbeat during a difficult situation or assist a flight attendant and you could earn one of 5,000 roundtrip tickets Song will give away in June for redemption between September and November.

In the latest Song promotion, each flight attendant will get four tickets to give away to passengers at his or her discretion. The tickets will be good for travel between September 7 and November 10 in any of the 12 cities Song flies.

   So basically, we're going to have the worst possible scenario on Song flights.

   Not simply people being nice.

   People being nice because they want something.

   This could end well, yet so could have a round that started with a 42.


   • I try to make this site more than just that of a sports fan on occasion, because I know how very exciting such things are to read when you're not one.

   So be it. Canada is back in the Stanley Cup finals.

   Something just seems very right about this.


May 18, 2004 - Hip
   Opening Up The Not-CBS Mailbag:

Subject: NBA
Date: Wed, 19 May 2004
From: "Kevin" <_________@comcast.net>
To: jcouture at s-t dot com

   Hi Jon,

   You offer a spirited defense of the NBA, but watch any old game on ESPN Classic and you will see how bad the game is today. NO one can shoot. Where are the George Gervins and Alex Englishes? Guys who could really shoot and score, yet average 50% from the field.

   The fundamentals are lousy. Jason Kidd is one of the few point guards who can pass and run a fast break. The shot selection of star players like Iverson, Pierce, Bryant is terrible. Too many young players who have no concept what they're supposed to be doing on a basketball court.

   It's sad because when it's played properly at the highest level, it's a beautiful game. Give me the guys from the 1980s.

   Kevin


Subject: About Your NBA Column
Date: Wed, 19 May 2004
From: "Frank ___" <_____@verizon.net>
To: jcouture at s-t dot com

   I think your analogies are a little flawed.

   First of all, a pitcher's duel in baseball is a whole other thing, because the pitcher is so prominent. Similarly, though I adore hockey, I only find a 0-0 hockey game entertaining if it's because of the goalies. If it's 0-0 because both teams are playing that New Jersey Devils clutch-and-grab 'neutral zone trap' and there's 30 shots on net total for both teams, it's like watching paint dry.

   I feel the same way about the NBA--which I do sometimes watch . Good defense can be fun to watch. Unfortunately, good defense is only part of the reason why NBA games aren't high scoring. Let's face it, the quality of shooting has gone way down in the NBA in the past 20ish years, you can't deny that. Watching good defense is fun--especially the blocked shot. (Is there anything cooler than a blocked shot?) But watching some of these guys, and there are too many of them, continually clank uncontested 12 and 15-foot jumpers off the rim is *not* fun.

   So, I think the low-scoring NBA can get boring not because of good defense, but becauce midrange jump shooting is getting to be a lost art. Those glory teams of the eighties--Celtics, Lakers, Bulls--all had mulitple players who could hit a midrange jumper. That keeps defenses honest.

   And don't even get me started on free throws!

   Best,
   Frank __
   Peabody, MA

   They're both right, more or less completely. That's about all there is to say about that, although I was more targeting the people who had just given up on the league without even watching a game. Sadly, I think there's more of them than there are of these guys.


   • There are several things to talk about today, and none of them are actually narrative-worthy. That plus the fact I can't really move my arms ... list!

   Awful Plastic Surgery: As mentioned by Sly yesterday for reasons rather obvious is one scrolls down to that site's mid-May entries.

   To put it bluntly, sites like this inherently bother me. Not so much infuriate as leaving me scratching my head. I find it hard to believe that, given millions of dollars and the hope/promise of millions more in Hollywood, a large piece of the population wouldn't have some plastic surgery. I know I would, although vanity isn't exactly one of my strong points.

   Can you be vain when you look like me? Isn't there some law, akin to a minimum speed limit on the highway, that stops this kind of thing?

   I can't shake the feeling that sites like APS are put up by ugly people who hate pretty ones for jealousy-based reasons. I realize fully that's likely an incorrect generalization, but so be it.

   "I don't care" is really a common theme through this whole concept.

   The ARM-LEG Joke: You know what I mean, even if you don't know it.

Yeah. Gas is expensive.

A Shell gas station owner put up this sign again in Menlo Park, Calif., on Monday as gas prices raise in the area. The owner put up the sign last year when prices climbed. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

   Yeah, we get it. Gas is expensive. This was marginally funny the first time it was done, and that's about it. It could be the eye of someone constantly looking at news photos, but I doubt it.

   But by all means, please do it 7,000 more times across the country in case it comes back again. After all, we are dealing with gas station owners.

   Of course, they probably make more than me. Eh.

   Tony Randall: Some remember him from The Odd Couple. Others for his work on Broadway.

   I remember him, with an assist from Nick, from the Family Guy vignette when Peter Griffin was on Password with our deceased hero.

Host: The password is "flaming."
Peter: You ...
Tony Randall: Me.
Peter: You ...
Tony Randall: Tony.
Peter: You ...

   Best of luck in all your dead pools, sickos.

   Saved!: After seeing some shots from the premiere of this movie, I have to give them credit. The actual film I know little about, but any project that includes:

   -- Mandy Moore.
   -- Macaulay Culkin.
   -- Valerie Bertinelli.
   -- Producer Michael Stipe (of REM).


   is going to get noticed and should. Though if you combine Culkin -- who could be the palest human being alive -- and Stipe -- who seems to have had some of his extra skin removed -- you may have the rebirth of the carnival midway in America.

   C2: Low-carb Coca Cola is coming. Say what you will about the concept, but that's one kickass-looking can.

   Yes, I'm reaching.

   Apple Blythe Alison Martin: Lisa reminded me that, not so much that Gwyneth Paltrow had a daughter, but that Gwyneth Paltrow was left to name her daughter with the lead singer of Coldplay.

   Apple.

   Apple Blythe.

   How bad is it when Blythe seems like the better name choice.

   I would have to guess the choice of "Apple" is some sort of homage to New York City, since I have to guess about all of this, but it has never been more clear that Hollywood needs me to save it from itself.

   I need to get some work done on my nose anyway.


May 17, 2004 - Gay Day On The Radios
   For Those Outside Massachusetts: It was pretty much a normal day in the new Gay Bay State today. Woke up to the sulfur showers, dodged a couple lightning bolts on the way to the gym, and boy was I glad I parked in the garage at work ... it kept the frog guts off what was left of the car.

   You have no idea how much I wished for some minor natural/weather disaster today to fall on today's first day of gay marriage in Massachusetts. Not because of any political reason ... just because I really enjoy arming the zealots.

   In a slightly related note, I want to believe that, upon entering the State House on Monday morning, some low-level aide greeted Gov. Mitt Romney with a "Good morning, governor. What, no rainbow tie today?" quip and got the death stare of a lifetime. Then, when he got upstairs to his office, he just sat, looked out the window and sighed.

   I'm just glad I saw Hidalgo, and know I can eat dead locusts for nourishment.

A Raw Deal For The NBA
-- After looking over all my columns from the past year for the NEAPNEA contest, I've decided I'm straying from my roots a little too much. An air of professionalism hasn't exactly served me well ... we'll be shooting for just a whisper in the future.

   • Aside from the fact that Jessica Simpson was selling edible body glitter on QVC last night, and thus that my mom was watching somewhere, the below is the most disturbing thing to happen today.

   It's not so much the concept of the glitter that bothers me as much as the fact we stumbled across it in the sports department at work. It's right up there with this, only slightly less jarring.

   When you move into a place by yourself, you slowly realize that you need to get everything ... there's not even a roommate who may have the kind of incidentals you borrow without thinking. Like nail clippers ... sometime near the end of last year, I discovered I didn't have any.

   So I went to the store and did what you'd think I'd do -- bought the cheapest set of nail clippers and general nail care tools I could find. Roughly $2, I believe.

   About two weeks later on Christmas, my parents -- the tag probably said my father specifically, but neither of us care about this -- bought me this DKNY nail care kit in a brushed metal case. Nice set ... probably a little much for me, and the metal tends to get dirty, but a thoughful gift.

   Fast forward to today, when I received this Nautica nail kit in a birthday gift from Andrea, the only ex-girlfriend a column reader I don't know has ever referred to as hot.

   In a matter of six months, I went from having no nail clippers at all to having three full sets of tools I will at best use on an irregular basis.

   Now I'm just left to wonder why I'm giving off the vibe that I have such horrible personal hygiene that people feel the need to buy me grooming tools at every available holiday.

   The note with today's gift specifically addressed this, saying "Now, don't get all offended and I think people see you as unkempt ... I'm just very UN-creative."

   And you wonder why we get along so well.


May 16, 2004 - Screed! Screed! Screed!
   Second Jobs: As if to prove just how difficult it can be to live on one income, I received spam e-mail today encouraging me to buy "C1al1s super m3dz" from one Jose Contreras.

   The trip to the minors must be hitting him awfully hard.

   Today's Film For No Good Reason: I fell asleep halfway through the post-NBA airing of Hard To Kill tonight on TNT, but I assure you it wasn't because of Steven Seagal and the rock-hard action he brings to the screen.

   It isn't so much the fact that everything that happens in this movie can be seen from a mile away -- when you meet the family, they ALWAYS die -- but that so many things happen for no good reason, yet can be seen from miles away. The long "I was in a coma, so now I have to train in an Far Eastern style" scene, the "this nurse saved me, and now she will make love to me because she's my real-life wife" scene, the "I will kill everyone, and yet I will not be killed" scene ... we've really achieved the point where even awful things can be cliche, and it was 14 years ago.

   Although if the movie's real-life tag line was "Nico's back and this time he's even more harder to kill," combining that with the line "I'm gonna take you to the bank, Senator Trent. The blood bank." might just make me understand IMDb's claim that enjoyment of Hard To Kill is a good precursor for enjoyment of the Goldfather trilogy ... 's 1992 edited-into-one-film video version.


   • I wrote this, and it ran Sunday.

As Movies Go, 'Still We Believe' Isn't Too Believable
-- Usually when I write something, I'll see the feelings calm down after I get my thoughts out. Yet the more I think about this movie, the less I like it.
It's just not good at all. Not a good subject, not well done, not good.

   Morgan Spurlock wrote Super Size Me well before that, yet his requires more discussion today.

   Given the nature of documentary and the nature of pessimism, the thought process during the film is as much marveling at what you're seeing as it is wondering just how authentic it really can be. Fortunately, people who actually make movies often think this way too -- Matt posted a link to this story about Soso Whaley, who is trying to "Debunk The Junk" and has apparently lost five pounds so far on her 30-day McDonaldland diet.

   That's all well and good, but she's missing the point.

   Yes, you can typically shape statistics and footage to make whatever you want to say be said -- when Spurlock tells us how winded he feels walking up stairs and shows himself throwing up when he tries to eat his first Super Sized Extra Value Meal, it's going to create an imagery in the same way as if I only use certain quotes from a source. And yes, Spurlock's diet was probably extreme -- he admits as such in the end.

   It all depends what you take the film as ... do you look at it as an anti-corporate screed? A genuine article? Or somewhere in the middle?

   As with everything, it falls somewhere in the grey between Spurlock and Whaley -- who will also eat everything on the menu over the month, but in stressing personal responsibility, says she'll lose weight.

   The doctor's numbers that Charlie went over in part yesterday can't be debated. The diet nearly did in Spurlock's liver, shot his cholesterol through the roof and created a scenario where he was actually addicted to the preservatives and sugars he was eating -- extreme satiation when eating it, huge headaches when he hadn't. This all happened, and really, the average person who eats McDonald's three times a day is likely eating more like him than they are Whaley.

   Insert national obesity and diabetes numbers here.

   It would be just as easy to point the finger at McDonald's for being super-evil giant corporation and it would be to point the finger at Spurlock for being whiny-liberal crybaby. Both are wrong answers, and generally the kind of thing people would say if they either didn't see the movie or just don't get it.

   The film is more about education and choices. That's the point.

   One of the most striking pats of the movie has nothing to do with McDonalds ... it looks at the school lunch programs around the country and just how disastrous they are. Whether it be kids being able to buy piece-parts of unhealthy crap -- thus ending up with a 10-year-old's dream lunch of Swiss Rolls, two slices of pizza and a Vanilla Coke -- or the reconstituted USDA food that goes from freezer to tray in 30 seconds flat, there's so little chance for a kid to be able to eat healthy (considering they have the minds of preteens) that they almost can't not get fat.

   Spurlock went to a school in Worcester whose name now escapes me where, on top of the awful meals, they get exactly one hour of physical education a week as part of the curriculum. The comment one expert made about creating a country of "fat readers" seems perfect for right now.

   When he lionizes a troubled student's school in Illinois that both has mandatory physical education every day and has a lunch program (supposedly of similar cost to others) that stresses healthy food the cooks actually cook, Spurlock isn't shitting on McDonald's and Pepsi and the other corporate giants as much as he's saying, "Hey, look at this! These people are giving your kids a shot!" Sooner or later, every kid who grows up fat has that moment where they wish it hadn't gone so wrong in the beginning. The point is to cut this stuff off at the pass -- parents who read to their kids grow up parents of readers, parents who feed their kids apples instead of apple Jolly Ranchers ...

   I'm sure Whaley will make an excellent movie she feels "exposes" Spurlock's for the screed that it is, but if she goes on attack, she's missing the point. They're on the same side of the fight here. She wants people to take personal responsibility for their health and well-being through what they eat -- if it happens to be McDonald's, so be it. Spurlock wants the same thing. He just made a funny, more compelling mental image built off the fact people are suing fast food companies for their fatness as a way to do it.

   I really can't recommend Super Size Me enough. It is a documentary, yes, but it's painted with all the humor of a Bowling For Columbine without the dirty feeling that by going, you're just encouraging Michael Moore to write another book.

   Course, we could be a dozen years away from Morgan Spurlock taking the exact same route, but at least we'll have gotten another TV Nation out of it.


May 15, 2004 - A Pleasant Tomorrow
   Saturday Night Live: Tonight was Jimmy Fallon's last episode of SNL, an event that got about as much fanfare as would be produced if I decided to stop this Web site.

   Aside from the fact his film prospects seem grim for even a current SNL star, I worry. But not just for the future of Weekend Update, which seemed even funnier than normal.

   I just don't know if Horatio Sanz can carry the "laughing though all the skits" bandwagon all by himself.

   The Rest Of The Italics Portion: There isn't one today, although it has nothing to do with my drinking almost three so-called "Ultimate Junebugs" at a TGI Friday's, thus the equivelant of leaving my masculinity in a car somewhere and driving off.

   Given all the refined sugar in them, it was as close to ironic as I felt like getting.


   • Tonight we finally got to see Super Size Me.

   You really ought to do the same sometime in the next couple weeks.

   The premise is pretty easy to grasp and is all over the news at this point, so the best way for me to describe it is imagine if Bowling For Columbine had been made by the Roger And Me-version of Michael Moore -- the one that a large swath of America didn't hate yet. Given what SSM is, it couldn't not draw off one of the most influential docs of the last 20 years, and yet you can still see the influence all over the board.

   I'm going to wait a day to really go over what I thought about the movie, but by all means, anyone that has seen it should chime in. Even if it's just to go over statistics or say the art was cool.

   Or that you went and ate McDonalds after the film was over, which would make you a much stronger man than I.

   In a completely unrelated note, driving through Providence last week I saw a car with an anti-Iraq War bumper sticker on the back and another that read "Dude, Where's My Country?" Not sure what I'd find when I looked in the passenger compartment, I saw the following:

   -- Rainbow-colored steering wheel cover.
   -- Two girls, one with matching rainbow hair.
   -- Two pairs of "emo glasses" -- you know which I mean.

   It was just so jarring to see the actual embodiment of a stereotype ... I felt like I had to tell someone.


May 14, 2004 - It Was, Well, A Freaky Friday
   Nets 127, Pistons 120 (3OT): Aside from inserting comment about boring NBA playoff basketball here, note that the NHL playoffs stilll have not had one of those three or four-overtime games that go on until like 2 a.m. and end up on SportsCenter for the next week.

   And this thing only went past regulation because of a half-court shot at the buzzer. Enough to make you wish they'd just score more.

   Campaign Update: While reading this story on the Leather Handbag, I was struck by his planned Sunday campaign trip.

   Las Vegas.

   I want to believe John Kerry plays a little when he goes out to Las Vegas, since Nevada's four electoral votes aren't exactly going to be swaying the presidency. Were that the case I'd have to give him a slight leg-up on George Bush, especially since there'd be news footage of Kerry's gambling coming from every major agency in America.

   And really, he's going to Kansas the next day. He'll need the amusement.

   Bowling Heroes: The continuing feature slightly more popular than the golf updates, it's Friday night's bowling results from a near-desolate Bradley Bowl in Windsor Locks, Conn.

1st -- Brian -- 144 avg (High: 177)
2nd -- Cooch -- 139.6 avg. (191)
3rd -- Charlie -- 136.6 avg. (166)
4th -- Jen P. -- 107 avg (120)
5th -- Todd -- 106.6 avg. (146)
6th -- Steph -- 101 avg. (121)
7th -- Matt -- 85 avg. (94)

   It should be noted, to continue yesterday's theme, I bowled an 84 and lost to everybody in our first game of five.


   • There's no debate about the quality of my friends. Even if they don't all live in the same place anymore, it's always good times when we get together. Thus the fact we continue to go bowling each week in the face of insurmountable evidence we should have found something better to do by now.

   Today was the day we really celebrated my birthday, and thus there were gifts.

Birthday Card
-- This card came from my girlfriend ... and her mom!

Card Quote

   Between this and the fact that I now own my own copy of Freaky Friday, I'm not sure whether this qualifies more as true friendship or as just out-and-out mocking.

   So with that in mind, I thank you all.

   And encourage you to go directly to hell, where I shall meet you with drinks and cookies as appropriate.

   Maybe the best part of all of this is now, when someone peruses my DVD rack at the apartment, they're going to see that I own a copy of Freaky Friday. I mean, I've heard it's good and all, but goodbye Whale City street cred. No one's ever going to come up to my window at 2 a.m. looking for a cigarette ever again.


May 13, 2004 - Ominous Beginnings
   Lakers 74, Spurs 73: Apparently, low scoring basketball games really can be entertaining. If just glad there isn't a sportsbook at Foxwoods ... the reaction would have been that much louder.

   Or that the other people at the table didn't hold it against the kid who said "they've got no chance."

   Gay Marriage Debate: It was announced today -- at least in my world -- that Gov. Mitt Romney is digging up a "long forgotten law" in order to try and stop the flow of gay marriages happening in Massachusetts starting Monday -- couples getting married must make their intention to live in Massachusetts.

    Yeah, because in the grand scheme of things, that's really unreasonable.

   I'm not sure which radio ad I heard today seemed less plausible -- the one where noted R.I. gaming haven Newport Grand was complaining about how bad a deal a new Harrah's casino would be "for Rhode Island taxpayers," or the one by some conservative-bent group complaining Romney hasn't done enough to "stop the homosexual lobby."

   This ends the news portion of the program.


   • Today was the first day of the 24th year, one that I have previously said will be a big deciding factor on, well, the rest of my life.

   Beginning by wasting too much time and not working out, I then shot one of my worst nines of the year:

Hole
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
OUT
Yards
295
381
516
157
335
332
121
339
127
2603
PAR
4
4
5
3
4
4
3
4
3
34
Cooch
4
4
8
3
5
5
6
5
3
43
• Wyckoff CC - Holyoke, Mass. •
Hole
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
IN
Yards
334
314
382
453
373
340
186
335
148
2865
PAR
4
4
4
5
4
4
3
4
3
35
Cooch
6
4
4
6
7
6
5
5
4
47
PAR 69
90, 21 OVER PAR
5468 YARDS
Birdies: 0 - Pars: 6 - Bogeys: 6 - Others: 6
Fairways Hit: 2 of 13 - Greens In Regulation: 4 of 18 - Putts: 37

   then rushed down to the Foxwoods poker room to meet some friends and lose all the money I went down there to gamble with.

   It wasn't so much the losing as it was the way the losing went -- there was exactly one hand I would have played differently if I had it all to do over again.

   When you win exactly two pots in about four hours, and one of them was the pocket queens you got on your very first hand, it's bad enough. When you later flop trip queens and lose to a flush, lose twice more with pocket queens, once with pocket kings, twice with pocket nines, once with ace-king, once with a full house on the turn to a river giving someone a better full house ...

   All you can do is just smile, shake your head and be glad you haven't refinanced your student loans yet.


   In the grand tradition of Tuffy Rhodes -- who before nearly breaking Japan's single-season home run record hit three home runs on Opening Day '94 for the Cubs and "was on pace to hit 486 home runs on the season" -- I may not have to worry about just what the future will hold for me.

   At this pace, I'll be run over by a school bus sometime in mid-July.


May 12, 2004 - Like The Show, But With More Drama
   Still We Believe: The Boston Red Sox Movie: If you want to spend $10 that badly, just give it to me.

   That more or less says it all right there.

   Birthday Sharing: In a world where I've now realized yes, I would like people to wish me a Happy Birthday, I offer the stereotypical "big ups" to fellow S-Ters Curt and Diane, pie fudger Jason Biggs, The Facts of Life's Kim "Tootie" Fields, video game pioneer Tony Hawk, moderately popular relatives Stephen Baldwin and Emilio Estevez, large actor Ving Rhames, clean comedian George Carlin, Austin Powers favorite Burt Bacharach, and Yogi Berra and Florence Nightingale, who used to be the only famous people whom I knew I shared a birthday with.

   As seems to be the rule for throughout May, a whole of people apparently have sex in August. The well wishes took about four innings at Fenway tonight.

   Super Size Me: Friday night, 9:25 p.m. in Hartford. Should you in any way wish to celebrate anything from this past week, I would advise this being a good place to start.


   • I didn't do the whole "reminisce on the birthday" thing last year, mainly because I was too drunk to type. As there was zero alcohol consumed this year -- yet anyway, as I more or less "worked" from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. -- you're all now in big, big trouble.

   Because I've decided the "year of being 22" was better than the "year of being 23."

   There are a lot of reasons I feel this way, though the least of them are professionally. I think there's some great symbolism in that I spent my birthday reviewing this movie for work and then attending this game for work. Granted, I got little to nothing accomplished while I was at the game -- for reasons that really piss me off and needn't be discussed -- but the fact that it really is what I do now should be inspiring.

   Of course, as I've discussed with some people, I'm never going to be defined or made happy by my job. It is, after all, a job. I'm not stupid enough to say I could be doing better at any other place or that I'd trade with anyone I know, but at the same time, people need to realize life is not perfect for me because I go to a lot of sporting events.

   I better save this for June 4, though.


   I don't want anyone to misunderstand what I'm saying, because in my day-to-day life, I'm plenty content with who I am, what I'm doing and just how everything is. It's those times when nothing really is going on -- shocking to believe there'd be those in a combination of Whale City and Western Mass. -- that I wonder if this is really the path I want to be on, the place I want to be ... the kind of stuff you're supposed to get out of your system in the early 20s and move on.

   Though now I'm in the mid 20s, aren't I?

   And I'm in the 24-49 age demographic! To paraphrase, "Everyone listens to me -- no matter how dumb my suggestions are."

   Nuts and Gum ... together at last.

   In what will be a recurring theme over the next year, I'm pretty much looking at this 24th year as a staging area for something really big happening. I don't really know what it is yet -- and what fun would it be if I did -- but when we hit May 12 next year, I think things will be a little different. I think I'll be making a jump somewhere new, a new jump here or any number of different things that seem like a lot to take on now, but well reasonable in the context of twelve months.

   I have to look at it like this. As much as I like what I have now, I have to know if this is really it.

   I sure hope it isn't ... I don't have crap for spending money anymore.


May 11, 2004 -
   NEAPNEA: After what could be termed a less than enthusiastic suggestion process -- hey, you're all busy and that's OK -- I've submitted three columns, two features and a couple of sports cover designs into the famed NEAPNEA contest.

   Famed and illegitimate, given I'm winning things in it, but that's not the point.

   The pieces are:

Looking For A Break-Through -- Aug. 16, '03
A Fine Day ... In And Out Of The Park -- Oct. 6, '03
Sox Hopes Crushed In 11th Inning -- Oct. 17, '03
The Formidable Five: Consistent O-Line Has Pats Thinking Big -- Dec. 7, '03
Eyes On The Prize: Tom Brady Has Come A Long Way -- Jan. 3, '04

   I dare say I'm less confident than I was last year, just because looking over a lot of my stuff from those 12 months, most of it was far worse than I remember it being. The one that really got me was the Pete Rose column, which was really great but for a lead that made it unreadable.

   So it goes. Least I'm still getting letters.

Subject: Lowe
Date: Tue, 11 May 2004
From: "Gerard _____" <_______@hotmail.com>
To: jcouture at s-t dot com

   Dear Jon

   Your column on Derek Lowe in today's issue was a little harsh considering the 'bad luck' that seems to surface when Lowe is pitching. He is not alone in that respect but it does affect him longer than other pitchers on the staff. The fact he is not a strike out pitcher similar to Pedro and Schilling, also makes him more dependant on his fielders. They can rear back and throw heat and get the K.

   A case in point would be in Sunday's game with runners at 2nd and 3rd and Sweeney up at the plate. Sweeney's lifetime average against Lowe is over .500, the pitching coach comes to the mound and they discuss, I would imagine, this information and how they will pitch him. With first base open one would think the plan was make him hit 'my pitch'.

   Every single pitch he made to Sweeney was low and inside. We are talking Major League players who make millions to play the game and with two strikes and a couple of foul balls to the left, Sweeney gets a double down the third base line that an all-star little leaguer could have played. Mueller (pronounced Miller?) was playing so far off the line you would have thought Giambi was at the plate. Maybe his position is 3rd base (pronounced shortstop?).

   I have been a Red Sox fan for 55 years and have never seen baseball played so 'stupid' as the last couple of years. First pitch swinging into double plays after the pitcher just walked two batters. The premise that he is trying to get a strike flies in the face of the fact he just failed 8 times, he is struggling. If he fails again the pressure really mounts, if he throws a strike, a Major League ballplayer should be able to hit with one strike.

   Last but not least, all the stats you gave about ERA and run support, are offset by the number of errors made, both mentally and physically. There were many games lost last year that didn't seem important at the time. They were lost through 'bad playing', 'bad coaching' and 'bad decision making'. We only remember the last. But come October if we again are playing our final game on the 'road', will anyone remember this error of omission or just a bad outing by Lowe?
-- Numbers are a rough indicator to gauge, but the fact Lowe's actual pitching stats have been roughly the same all last season and this season still leads me to believe we're seeing the real item.

   As I said yesterday, I'd love for him to revert back to the form that had him overpowering hitters and in the Cy Young race. I just think that's about as likely as another 1,000 run season from the offense.


   • The USGA had a lovely gift for me today, approving our credential request and thus making it official that I will both be covering the U.S. Women's Open and playing The Orchards Golf Club on the May 24th junket day.

   Please don't wash your cars in the New England area on the 23rd, because you just know that Monday it's going to pour.

   Now if I can just start getting trips paid to things like E3, we'll be getting somewhere. Now that's a junket.

   Today was really the first day of the year I got to wear shorts, as it was about 85 here. This is my least favorite part of the year ... the dance attempting to get some semblance of a tan without spending too much time outside looking like, as Joey would put it, "Paper! Snow! A ghost!"


May 10, 2004 - Making The Impression Worse
   Calming My Stomach: Care to try and identify the woman featured below?

At The Sport Awards
-- Photo from Laureus World Sports Awards in Lisbon, Portugal.

   Get a good look? All ready to go?

   Sure?

Golfer Michelle Wie, from the United States, smiles while posing with her World Newcomer of the Year award during the Laureus World Sports Awards ceremony Monday in Lisbon. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)

   That would be 14-year-old Michelle Wie, which sure quieted down the office a couple of notches for a few minutes.

   Today's Disturbing Googling: The sister of one of my ex-girlfriends -- for those who know them, this being the one who sent a guy to beat me up after we split -- is a paralegal in Taunton and lives with her husband in Whale City.

   I don't think I ever met her sister, and no one actually reads our newspaper here, but suffice to say I'm glad plenty of water has run under that bridge in the last 4-5 years.

   Though when someone's only link goes to the wedding page for your place of employment, that's a kind of fun you just can't get in stores.


   • Someone who should know better asked me what I wanted for my birthday today. It's not that I'm offended that people would want to buy me things, but in many cases, I'm so bad at buying gifts that I don't want to set the precedent of exchanging them.

   I take so long trying not to buy the expected, cliched gift of flowers or what have you, I'm left to get something that doesn't make any sense. For example, what did you get your Mom for Mother's Day?

   I got her a wall clock and a digital clock for the basement.


   So when someone asks me what I'd like, I try to name something I'd plausibly enjoy, but is impossible to actually get. That way, I can feel safe it won't actually come through, and I won't let the person down when it comes time to repay their generosity.

   This year's gift request, therefore? Quite simple.

   A phone call, delivered Wednesday, from Lindsay Lohan or an associate saying she'd like to just hang out for the day with me.

   It's simple, and yet I'll never get it.

   I feel better already, though that will surely end when I attempt to work out for the second day in a row on Tuesday.

   With all this workout stuff, I do get the impression I'm in better shape now than I was before I started, and thus am in the best shape of my life. Therefore, no hard measurements. Not like that's going to motivate me any.

Lowe Down Could Be Tough To Take
-- Could Derek Lowe inexplicably turn it around and have a year like he did in 2002? In theory, though it may just be time to admit Boston's "Big Three" are really just a "Big Two."


May 9, 2004 - The No. 1 Intentional Comedy In America
   Missed Press Opportunity: Apparently, UMass Amherst had a hot dog eating contest not too long ago. It would have been worth the time if only for the waiver.

"I understand the health and associated risks inherent in eating contests and in the consumption of large quantities of food and calories over both short and extended periods of time. I certify that I am in good health and have consulted with qualified persons in the medical profession and obtained clearance for me to participate in this contest and similar eating contests."

"I, on behalf of myself, my successors, heirs and assigns and anyone else claiming under me, hereby completely, irrevocably and unconditionally release and discharge all sponsors and licensees of the contest ... from any and all claims, liabilities, damages, losses, expenses, suits, discrimination or other charges, demands, debts, liens, damages, costs, attorneys' fees ... "

   At the point I'm at now, I would have been floored if I could have gotten five hot dogs down before doubling over in pain.

Strongman Cardoza Very Close To The Big Show
-- The not-online pictures really make this story -- you just can't imagine what it look like to see a man walking with 600 pounds in his hands. And he's the nicest guy you'd ever want to talk to.

   It's rather fortunate he liked the story, as it's never good to anger people who could physically throw you across a room.

   • I've gotten a wireless connection set up for the laptop I bought (and never really announced), so naturally the first thing I did was to get into bed and set up a few things on it that I've been meaning to do for the week I've had it.

   Only now do I realize the first thing I should have done -- gone into the bathroom and surfed the Web on the toilet, thus sealing my dork card for at least another two years.

   That's me. Always a day late and a dollar short.

   Also, because someone asked, our new branding campaign has debuted at the paper.

Delivering Your Life. Daily.
-- The free hat.

   Somehow, I don't think eBay would be worth my time.


May 8, 2004 - The Opposite Of Waxing
   • I think I'm going to give up drinking.

   For the 25th time.

   Really, I'm just counting the days until the grand, introspective updates -- three of which are coming in the next month. Aren't you excited.


May 7, 2004 - Six (Flags) Of One
   Great Times On The Homefront: And I quote:

Six Flags workers failed to safely secure a man who died last weekend after he was ejected from the Superman Ride of Steel roller coaster despite the desperate efforts of another rider to save him, according to a state investigation.

A 12-page state report on the death of Stanley J. Mordarsky, 55, of Bloomfield, Conn., also said that park employees should not have allowed him on to the ride because his size - 5 feet 2 inches and 230 pounds - may have prevented a T-bar lap restraint from properly fitting over his thighs.

   One employee is "on leave" and the ride is closed indefinitely. I guess you'll all just have to come to Agawam for the town's other's tourist highlights.

   -- The Anne Sullivan Memorial.
   -- The state Veterans Cemetery.
   -- The Junior High School which, built in the '70s, features rainbow-colored doors.

   And that's not even counting my house.

   Bowling Results: Posted by request and because I now owe somebody twenty dollars from a 108-106 loss in Game Three of Five.

From Bradley Bowl -- Windsor Locks, Conn.

1st -- Eric R. -- 161.4 avg (High: 203)
2nd -- Cooch -- 137 avg. (196)
3rd -- Charlie -- 129.2 avg. (156)
4th -- Steph -- 118.4 avg (178)
5th -- Jen P. -- 109.2 avg. (108)
6th -- Todd -- 82.6 avg. (96)

   • Here's a question you never asked yourself ... what ever happened to the cast of the early-'90s Nickelodeon show Salute Your Shorts?

   Ug voices anime and was a referee in Soccer Dog: The Movie -- please don't confuse it with Soccer Dog: The TV Series. Z.Z. hasn't been in anything since 1993. Donkeylips got onto MTV's Singled Out, but lost. Telly got on MTV's Undressed, which may have been porn if it wasn't so absurdly laughable on a regular basis.

   Course, she's also listed as "Graduation Rapper" in Ghost World and is actually named "Venus DeMilo," so how's that for absurdly laughable?

   Sponge last surfaced on Babylon 5, thus meaning he's remained a dork. Dina has done nothing. Essentially the same with Pinsky. Michael has apparently become a screenwriter ... he left the show after Season One.

   The big winner? Bobby Budnick, king of cartoon voicework.

   This was even sadder than I'd feared. It's just like the Seinfeld Curse, only on a far smaller, obscure level. Though it was nice to prove there's a fan site out there for everything.


May 6, 2004 - Six Of One
   Some Large Number And Counting:

Hole
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
OUT
Yards
295
381
516
157
335
332
121
339
127
2603
PAR
4
4
5
3
4
4
3
4
3
34
Cooch
4
4
8
3
5
5
6
5
3
43
• Wyckoff CC - Holyoke, Mass. •
43, 9 OVER PAR
Birdies: 0 - Pars: 4 - Bogeys: 3 - Others: 2
Fairways Hit: 1 of 6 - Greens In Regulation: 3 of 9 - Putts: 18

   If it's not a seven after being 40 yards away in one, it's an eight after being 100 yards away in two.

   Cue That Column About The Fans And Steroids: It took all of 24 hours for Bud Selig to fold up like one his suits, pulling Spiderman 2 ads off the bases and pitching rubber on Interleague Weekend in July. This would be the point where I put up a quote from the story and try to be witty, but really, the whole thing, outcome and all, just seems way to odd and obvious to even mention again.

   If no one had announced there were going to be ads on the bases, you may not have even noticed. Enough said.


   • Two things of note happened on television today.

   -- As I walked upstairs after my workout today, one of the TVs by the treadmills had The Ellen Show on.

   You already know what happened next and who was on. That's at least a half dozen times, none of which were premeditated. I'd hate to see what would happen if I was actively looking.

   -- Friends ended.

   Now, I've always enjoyed Friends. Not in a "I'm going to set aside time Tuesday Thursday to watch it" kind of way, but in a "Hey look, Friends is on" kind of way. About how I feel about professional wrestling, only without the shame one deservedly should have about watching professional wrestling.

   Every time I think about the WWE now, I think of a story Nick from the paper told me. He was at a taping in Boston a couple of years ago, and some Yankee fans in attendance started up a "1918!" chant.

   The Boston fans responded by chanting, "Nine eleven!"


   Having not watched any episodes in the past couple seasons, I was worried the finale would be much like Major League 2 -- a film where you had to have seen the original to truly enjoy it. And yet I was wrong ... the show stood on its own merits because the ending was predictable enough for a blind man to have seen it from six miles away.

   Now that we've said goodbye to our Friends for the final time, there's only one thing left to do.

   Call Vegas.

Odds for an appearance by a 'Friends' cast
member on spinoff 'Joey' in next two seasons:


Matthew Perry (Chandler) -- 3/2
Lisa Kudrow (Pheobe) -- 2/1
David Schwimmer (Ross) -- 3/1
Jennifer Aniston (Rachel) -- 7/2
Courtney Cox Arquette (Monica) -- 5/1

   Of course, posting the other line -- "Show does not last two seasons" -- just seems mean. Especially since it's not as though a movie career is going to be keeping anyone busy.


May 5, 2004 - Free Hat!
   Today's Story You'll Hear About Again: Michael Moore's latest documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11, has been blocked for distribution by Disney/Miramax because, ostensibly, it attacks President Bush and threatens tax breaks Florida offers for Disney World and whatnot.

   Thankfully for us, there are things we can count on -- Michael Moore will get his film out somehow, I will go see it, I will enjoy it and it will confuse me for like a week and a half until I forget about it.

   Speaking of things like that ...

   A Lohan Update: I had a night off for a change, so I turn on Letterman, absolutely petrified that Lindsay Lohan will be a guest. She was not, so I watch up to the first interview like I always do and then change to Jimmy Kimmel.

   I was petrified Lindsay Lohan wo ... and she was.

   Maybe this wouldn't be so odd if I really was consciously finding these things, but I'm not. The effect of the American marketing machine has sucked me in ... bad.

   We're back to square one, people. Get those e-mails and phone calls going, even if I do have little more to offer than my dry wit and the occasional heart-felt comment.


   • So the paper unveiled their new "branding campaign" today via a pair of meetings to which my presence was "cordially requested." This meeting was accompanied by an e-mail from the editor-in-chief that basically said, "Hey, a lot of the people you work with worked real hard on this campaign, so try not to be so sarcastic for a change, you jerks."

   Amazing as it may be for you to believe, this e-mail was not directly addressed to me. I had no idea my personality picked my profession long before I did.

   So they unveiled the campaign, which starts Sunday and will include cable TV ads, print ads, billboards, etc., that feature employees of the newspaper working hard and showing how much we care about the community.

   As presented, the only time the sports department is featured is with a paper sitting on a table that happens to be open to the sports section. Although, a piece of my cubicle may also make it into an ad.

   There is likely something deeply profound that could be said about this, but I'm really not looking to get fired until at least 2005. And they did give out free hats, so life's not all bad.

   Yeah. The Lindsay Lohans of the world will be just beating down my door one day.


May 4, 2004 - Grocery Day
   The Enablers: Referring to yesterday's comments, the industrious among you likely not have as much information as you may need to move along what I would refer to on a souped-up CW as "The Lohan Project."

   As I see it, all I have to do now is write less about golf and more about interesting things. As the photo at left is actually a reflection of what I look like today, I'd pretty much say this is the best chance I've got short of my writing a really great screenplay.

   The odds of me turning out one of those in a week? Pretty much as low as all of this ever ending well.

   Pat Tillman: I've more or less had nothing to contribute on Pat Tillman since he died, but I read two pieces on his life and celebration today -- this one by my boss and this one by somebody else.

   The second's much closer to what I would have written.


   • I got to talk to a local professional strongman tonight ... he's a lightweight in the sense he competes under 231 pounds.

   It's at times like this, when a guy like him is classified as a "lightweight," that I question the worth of something like the English language.

   There is probably some irony that I worked out earlier in the day before talking to a guy who could easily lift me while I was lifting the weight I was lifting. Even still, he's a hell of a nice guy.

   And I could pound him on the golf course. I know if I were a 17-year-old starlet, that would impress the heck out of me.


May 3, 2004 - An E-Mail, An IM ... Anything
   Today's Quote Ripped Completely Out of Context:

"It came down into the net like it would've sliced the table in two, though it didn't break the table."
-- Elaine Pohl, on the cannon piece that flew through her roof.

   As for the fact that the above linked FOX News story uses the phrase "Chinese communists" and the straight AP does not ... that's just a humorous coincidence.

Who Is That Man In Left Field, And
What Has He Done With Manny Ramirez?

-- I got "the phone call" asking for a Manny piece, and here we go. Though really, when athletes start offering up millions of dollars to pay other athletes, I shouldn't need to get a phone call.

   • And speaking of the column, it's that time of the year again.

   NEAPNEA time.

   I will again be entering the New England AP News Editors contest in the Sports Column category -- as well as the Sports Story category if that's the way it goes -- and I'm requesting the help of you, dear readers. All of my pieces for the contest year -- 4/1/03 to 3/31/04 -- are listed here, and I need to know what people thought were my best stuff.

   I can replicate all the links here on Wednesday if people would prefer that. Whatever lands the most input ... there's 74 eligible pieces, though sadly, the minigolf opus won't be one until next year.

   I have a third-place certificate to defend. And plus, once your working on that, you can continue to dig for the contact info requested yesterday.

   Because really, you have no idea the mocking you'll get to do when I write "The Lohan Update." I'm excited about it already.

   Although I'm also confused that joining her fan club -- as posted in yesterday's comments -- lands one an "Engagement Ring." To the point where I really should just stop talking about it, because considering I've already been tricked by one prank this year, I don't need a second before the midpoint of the year.


May 2, 2004 - I'm Much Funnier Than This
   Marketing Makes Me Nervous: Today, while flipping channels, I came across this show through no fault of my own.

   I'm officially concerned, but I was told -- between the cruel mocking of course -- that this sort of thing is natural and should have happened a long time ago. Though if it had happened a long time ago, I wouldn't have had the thought, "Wait, I'm the media. There must be some way I can use this to set something up."

Brilliant Bullpen Is Boston's Backbone
-- Really, I wish I could get Vegas lines on things like "The bullpen's scoreless innings streak will end sometime between when you write this story and in runs in the paper." I'd be able to retire by age 30.

   • This would be a valid reason for me to go on reality TV, wouldn't it? To up my national profile beyond being the Internet's most prolific Jon Couture? And really, what show wouldn't see the sadness in this and at least give me a second look?

   I've been told this sort of thing wears off in a couple weeks. Those will be good times, unless of course something bad happens. Then they will be bad times.

   The first one of you who sends out an e-mail redirecting her or anyone close to her here will either get a prize or the opposite of a prize. Bear in mind the only time I've given away a prize I didn't actually give away the prize, but if nothing else, you could become a part of this site's current greatest contribution to society.

   And really, it's not like you're working all that hard today anyway. Get to it!


May 1, 2004 - Smarties
   Fun With Sponsorship: The portion of the Kentucky Derby day races shown on ESPN is sponsored by gas company Citgo, who proclaims they're "fueling the sport America loves!"

   They're not. The more I watch, I'm pretty sure the only thing fueling America's love for sports is sweet, sweet alcohol.

   They do, however, provide a lovely screensaver. Though to make it more accurate, they should have burnt out half the bulbs and made some of the other ones blink for no good reason.


   • I was all set to go to bed tonight after an exciting night of further lowering other's perception of me by playing on a playground for an hour, when I discovered two things.

   -- The last episode of Friends is Thursday, meaning I somehow missed the entire final season.

   -- Lindsay Lohan was hosting Saturday Night Live.

   Because really, every 23-year-old gets his first-ever celebrity crush on a 17-year-old.

   This is getting a little too weird even for me, isn't it?


2004: [04] - [03] - [02] - [01]
2003: [12] - [11] - [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05] - [04] - [03] - [02] - [01]
2002: [12] - [11] - [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05] - [04] - [03] - [02] - [01]
2001: [12] - [11] - [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05]