May 31, 2005 - Close
   Halfway There: For half a round on a beautiful golf course, I looked like I knew what I was doing again.

Hole
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
OUT
Yards
352
131
491
401
178
287
507
370
322
3039
PAR
4
3
5
4
3
4
5
4
4
36
Cooch
4
4
7
5
4
3
4
5
4
40
• The Captains GC (Starboard) - Brewster, Mass. •
Hole
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
IN
Yards
344
182
326
481
378
361
427
156
504
3159
PAR
4
3
4
5
4
4
4
3
5
36
Cooch
6
6
6
7
5
4
5
4
5
48
PAR 72
88, 16 OVER PAR
6198 YARDS
Birdies: 2 - Pars: 4 - Bogeys: 7 - Others: 5
Fairways Hit: 3 of 14 - Greens In Regulation: 6 of 18 - Putts: 32

   And then I duffed two chips on No. 10, duffed two more on No. 11, three-putted No. 12 and needed five shots to get home from 120 yards in the fairway on No. 13. Whereas I had 13 putts and five one-putts on the front, there was 19 and none on the back.

   Still, it was an outstanding round, but in my play and the day in general. We had a great foursome, the course is spectacular and I drove the ball much better than the numbers indicate. Maybe I'm not so awful after all.

   Too Kind: Awful, however, are these. So awful they again have to be mentioned ... all five galleries worth.

Boston.com's Finest
-- All from that bastion of integrity, Boston.com

   These are not the things that trouble me, however. I save that designation for ... well, there's enough evidence here that I don't need to link anything else.

   But I will anyway. The kid needs the publicity.

   And this kid needs help, and I ain't talking about the one with the Web site.


   • Well, we found out who 'Deep Throat' was.

   What could possibly be next?

   Google found Carmen Sandiego.


May 30, 2005 - Soldiering On
   Completing The Trio: Just another boring part of the holiday weekend where I write 2,000+ words. I'd call it "par for the course," but it'd screw up my search when I later need the code for another round of golf.

Will Patrick Story Have Legs?
-- Because when you're after readers for your regular weekly column, the topics of open wheel racing, professional bowling and women's golf are just what the people are clamoring for. They just don't know it.


Unhappy Homecoming For Red Sox
-- Little different today, as I wrote a straight game story for the Sox-Orioles game. I haven't done one ever for Boston, or much at all since I covered the high school hoops in February. Nice change of pace.

   I'm extremely interested to know how people think the gamer turned out, since I thought it was a lot easier to write than a regular sidebar. That leads me to think I was doing something poorly, but maybe all that classical training at the hands of Jack Falla.

   Who, if you're out there, I totally tried to tell about my job in sportswriting but the e-mail bounced. Best 8 a.m. class I ever took by a mile, and I'm surely not the only one ever to say that.


   • So driving home tonight, I heard a commercial for this album, which as you know I have sworn I won't be buying. It's a principle thing.

   And then, I found out I can get it for $10.

   And then, they played the first single, which seems significantly better than the first two times I heard it.

   And then, I remembered I'm pretty much going to be busy all day until I go into work playing golf on the Cape.

   Bless golf. Holding up the inevitable since 1987 or so, give or take.


May 29, 2005 - The Joys Of Convenience Stores
   The Indy 500: Just a tremendous race all around this year ... even were Danica Patrick not prominently involved, the number of lead changes and quality of the competition harkens back to the old Emerson Fittipaldi - Al Unser Jr. days.

   Of course, she was involved. The ratings numbers probably won't be as high as everyone thinks they're going to be, but regardless ... it was well worth watching over whatever afternoon baseball there was kicking around.

   If only for commentator Rob Stone -- who I was under the impression was only defrosted for World Cups -- comapring Patrick's performance to everything short of Sally Ride and Susan B. Anthony. OK, maybe not Susan B. Anthony, but let's just say there was some rooting going on in the production truck.

   Negreanu: It's another poker story, and though I don't know any of the people involved as I did with the SI piece, it's always fun to read about people whom millions of college kids and wannabes are trying to emulate.

Many of these young players, like Negreanu, David Williams, Phil Ivey and John Juanda, have become instant celebrities because of their TV exposure at the World Series of Poker and on the World Poker Tour. ''We're the new rock stars,'' says Negreanu, who had a first-episode cameo in the ESPN poker series ''Tilt.'' Hollywood stars like Tobey Maguire, Ben Affleck and James Woods treat such players as if they are the real celebrities. ''Poker is hot because it's everyone's sport,'' Negreanu says. ''Most guys can't play football or hockey. They're fat and out of shape, but they can play poker at home. Poker is the purest form of reality TV. Nothing's scripted. There's drama. Real people with real money on the line.''

...

Negreanu plays his celebrity role graciously, which is why Steve Wynn, the Vegas casino impresario, hired him to be the poker ambassador at his new casino, Wynn Las Vegas, which opened in April. But in private, Negreanu is skeptical about poker players being viewed as celebrities. ''I hate idolatry,'' he told me. ''They're just nerds trying to be great men.''

   An interesting flipside, to say the least. Plus, just posting it reminds me we're on the cusp of June, and month four of the great poker budget.

   Because yes, that's just what I should be thinking about right now.


   • Just out of curiosity, does it count as a holiday weekend if you work Saturday and Sunday, then plan to turn your Monday off into a Red Sox game and a column on the Indy 500?

   I swear, this whole car thing has made me feel like an invalid. Even with my brother's car, the lingering stupidity has left me pretty much unaware of even what day it is. It teaches a lesson far better than a good old crack in the mouth ever did.

   Current and future parents, remember that. I'm not sure how it can practically be applied, but somehow, it needs to be.

   And apropos of nothing, tonight we were in 7-Eleven after our Sunday Night Drinking escapades, and I got to watch a Colossal Club submarine sandwich fall out of a kid's pant leg. It was the poorest shoplifting effort I've ever been witness to, though there isn't exactly a lot of other examples to be noted.

   He and his friends were buying all the makings of a Memorial Day beach trip, with a styrofoam cooler, beach chair, pail, chips ... apparently, it was all a cover for the sandwich. I'm just glad I wasn't drunk ... shouting "Hey! Your sandwich is falling out of your pants!" probably would have gotten him arrested and me beaten by his friends.


May 28, 2005 - Subtle Linkage
   Worth Mentioning: It's been a few days since it ran and since I first heard of it, but there are some people out there who are pretty excited by this column from Stanford.

You know that guy who thinks that all his friends are hilarious and that the stories that make him and Ray-Ray and P-Dog pee their pants will translate into humor for the masses? That guy who comes back from Vegas on Monday and tells you how wild his weekend was, only to get into how he had six shots of Absolut Citron, lost $400 and had a "ridiculous" drunken conversation with the dealer? That guy who treats the occasional night away from his petty, boring wife as an opportunity to cut loose at Hooters with the boys for a real rip-roaring good time?

That is Bill Simmons.

The tortured hero Red Sox fan identity? Good at the start, but overdone. The Las Vegas gambling stories? Painfully average. Vegas is full of Sports Guys. The guy at the blackjack table who comes up with funny names for the dealer. The guy who thinks staying up for 28 hours straight and smelling like cigarettes and booze is on par with a Hunter S. Thompson bender. The masturbatory intern contest takes the cake, though, where we get to see a legion of suck-up twentysomethings using their law school degrees as a platform to come up with zingers about Kevin Costner and "Lost."

   Though there are some factual innacuracies in there -- it's a lot more fun to find someone else's, let me tell you -- I somehow believe Simmons is not the kind of guy who'll enjoy something like this. Whereas I was giddy when I was recently told I sucked, truly sucked on the 25th, there may be a tizzy involved up the Web site dial.

   Though since I don't read the man all that regularly anymore, someone please fill me in.

Running Down The Sox So Far
-- Headlines, piz ... oh wait, I wrote my own and laid out my own page. The original plan wasn't to stop short of assessing the pitchers, but inch counts made it pretty clear that was a good idea. Means I've got some good topics on the burner for next week, which is exactly half the battle.

   • As much as I want to get bent out of shape at Robby Gordon's tremendous 'Wah!' from afar ...

Gordon, a former open-wheel driver now in NASCAR, contends that Patrick is at an advantage over the rest of the competitors because she only weighs 100 pounds. Because all the cars weigh the same, Patrick's is lighter on the race track.

"The lighter the car, the faster it goes," Gordon said. "Do the math. Put her in the car at her weight, then put me or Tony Stewart in the car at 200 pounds and our car is at least 100 pounds heavier. I won't race against her until the IRL does something to take that advantage away."

-- I'm sure they're fretting the trade-off, Robby

   ... he is right. Even if he is well known for violating a gentlemen's agreement to help win a race, I guess he doesn't want everyone doing whatever they can to win.

   As though Danica Patrick is only 100 pounds strictly for racing purposes.

   It's like thoroughbred racing, Robby. Perhaps you should fear team owners are going to recruit all women drivers just to make their cars faster.

   Plus, I'd imagine her FHM sold a few more copies than yours did.


May 27, 2005 - That Doesn't Make Any Sense
   A Day Of Average Athletics: It was golf in the afternoon and bowling in the evening, which on the surface would make you think I qualified as "active."

   Really, you should know better.

Hole
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
IN
Yards
310
133
315
315
273
185
467
360
523
2881
PAR
4
3
4
4
4
3
5
4
4
36
Cooch
4
4
4
5
4
9
5
5
6
46
• St. Anne CC - Feeding Hills, Mass. •
46, 10 OVER PAR
Birdies: 0 - Pars: 4 - Bogeys: 4 - Others: 1
Fairways Hit: 2 of 7 - Greens In Regulation: 1 of 9 - Putts: 16

   After hitting two balls onto Route 57 East, or at least the surrounding grassiness, I forgot how to putt. Pretty simply really ... if that's even a 4, the day's a full success.

   Course it was anyway because it was sunny and warm -- and I actually got to walk nine holes -- but you get the point.

Gm. 1
Gm. 2
Gm. 3
Pinfall
Avg.
Cooch
108
145
114
367
122.3
Steph
108
134
242
121.0
Matt
85
94
129
308
102.7
Julie
83
92
87
262
87.3
Jen P.
75
86
161
80.5

   There are few things that can get a person into a zone like a deejay playing the entirety of a Simple Plan album, as Matty will attest because he became borderline "the voices are telling me to kill everyone in this alley." Also, to the group we saw on the way out who'd apparently left their prom to make Galactic Bowling, good for you.

   I took my date to Taco Bell after my senior semi-formal, personally. It seemed like a tremendous idea to the both of us, and it all worked out. I didn't even spill anything on myself.


   • I'm glad that my tale of woe and my personal interpretation of "Common sense isn't," can prove at least a cautionary tale. If I can cause just one of you to not owe somebody a couple thousand dollars for a new engine, I'll consider that a success.

   Especially if you show your gratitude by giving me that couple thousand dollars. I'm not begging by any means, but if you were to say drop some money in my parking lot in the next couple days, let's just say I wouldn't be taking it to the police to dawdle through the whatever-day waiting period.


May 26, 2005 - Basic Lessons In Auto Maintenance
   Sometimes, Metaphors Are Better: Although really, it's hard to expect anything less from a man named Lazer.

Gulliver Prep baseball coach Lazer Callazo officialy resigned Wednesday, a week after his alledged involvement of improper behavior towards his players came to light.

''I am doing it for the kids and I am doing it for the school,'' Callazo told the Herald Wednesday morning. ``I am not going to coach anymore at the high school or college level. I am going to stay and work at my Hardball Academy and that's all I have to say.''

School officials said Tuesday [that] Callazo had agreed to resign as coach at the beginning of June.

''This is a resignation he is fully aware of,'' Gulliver public relations director Jen Vaida said Tuesday.

According to a Coral Gables police report, Collazo dropped his pants, took out his penis and accused his players of not having the testicular fortitude it takes to play baseball after a loss to Florida Christian on April 7.

''He then,'' according to a Coral Gables police report, ``pointed to his penis, testicles and asked the team if they had a set of these or were they equipped with a vagina.''

   Thankfully, this is not the man I tried to talk to for my Varitek feature last year. And I can confirm it's not this guy either, who should be known as "America's Most Famous Lazer" at least until Hank Scorpio gets his Doomsday Device up and running again.

   Hey, if you don't get the joke, then I just don't know how you can be helped.


   • A piece of advice that really shouldn't need to be relayed, but apparently needed to be relayed to me more times than it was.

   Cars need oil to run. If they do not have the proper amount of oil, smoke starts pouring out the back of them and they stop moving on the Massachusetts Turnpike. Then they get towed to some shop in Palmer.

   Well, maybe they all don't, even if there were a lot of other cars at this place. I suppose it's merely an example.

   Know how I often say I'm an idiot? Well, that's not really an exaggeration.


May 25, 2005 - Meet and Greet
   Making Friends: I didn't think I knew a whole lot about basketball strategy, but apparently I know far less than I possibly could have imagined.

Subject: Sox article
Date: Mon, 09 May 2005
From: <____@aol.com>
To: jcouture at s-t dot com

   Hi Jon,

   Just wondering how it is that both your Red Sox article and that of Chris Snow's of the Globe open with the same reference to the "lyric bandbox" and comparison to the old Yankee stadium. Do you guys sit together in the press box and the topic came up during conversation? Anyway, just curious. Keep up the great work.

-- Sure enough, we did 'copy' off each other. As I said in my reply, I wish I sat with Snow ... I could probably then see home plate and the pitcher's mound at the same time.

Subject: Antoine Walker
Date: Tue, 10 May 2005
From: <____@aol.com>
To: jcouture at s-t dot com

   First of all YOUR OPINION that 2 years ago it was right to trade Antoine is just that YOUR OPINION. It is not fact.

   Second if Antoine stays here he gets blamed for everything from idiots like you who have never even been to a game.People like you who watch ten minutes a season (after Walker was traded back here) and now think your an expert. Your the same people who said Pierce needed to go before Walker got back here and your the same people who will say the same thing long after Walker is gone.

   I grew up a Celtic fan, stayed one for 34 years and now can't stand to even watch them for 5 minutes without getting mad and not one of those feelings comes from Antoine Walker. People complain about his shot selection but at least he cares about winning. He was protecting a teammate when he got that second tech but that is a fact people like you refuse to acknowledge.

   The hell with the Celtics. I sat through 7 year playoff Droubts and 15 win seasons and never once hated the team. Danny Ainge put together a bunch of whiny brats (not including Walker) and he has no right to whine about the way it turned out. HE PUT THE TEAM TOGETHER! yet for some reason he is signing the new contract and Walker is once again being blamed for everything.

   You suck, you truly suck and every wanna be reporter in this town sucks.

   Now I know I'm not an expert on basketball, but I am an expert on angry e-mails ... I haven't gotten many, but the ones I do get I love like children. If your argument includes any of the following points:

   -- What I write is opinion, not fact;
   -- As least ___ "cares about winning."
   -- Anger not at me, but at the team in question.
   -- Generally speaking, incorrect personal assumptions.

   ... you're probably in trouble.

   I'll be the first to admit I'm wrong about things, but as I quickly discovered in reading, none of them were brought up my newest friend.

   Maybe I'll post my response letter tomorrow. It's the only way I'll get better at them.


   • Just because I'm unwilling to fight the will of the people, we watched the last 15 or so minutes of the 'American Idol' finale tonight. Speaking from an extremely limited watching experience, well done by America picking Carrie The Country Music Star over Bo The 'Rocker'. As I said and felt real brainy about, the only people who would buy a CD by Bo would be people like my mother, who doesn't buy anywhere near enough CDs to build a career on.

   As they often do, the Associated Press shot photos at the finale, focusing a good deal on the crowd and the celebrities in attendance. One pair who was there? Courtney Love and her daughter, Frances Bean.

Two Loves

Actress-singer Courtney Love, left, gestures with her daughter Francis Bean as they watch the 'American Idol' live finale in Los Angeles on Wednesday, May 25, 2005. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)

   Ignore the fact that it's basically a before and after photo advertising why one shouldn't do drugs for the better part of two decades ... and that's being generous. Mom's hands look worse than what gets passed into many kinds of sausage casings around the globe.

   Take a look at her daughter's eyes.

The Eyes Have It
-- It's quantity, not quality.

   That's pretty much the definition of "one day, I will eat a man whole and enjoy every bite." Shocking when you consider the unbringing, but I'm sure she's a very nice girl.

   Whose probably been told 1,400 times not to do heroin.


May 24, 2005 - Too Early For A Spicy Omelette
   Money For Nothing: It makes me feel good to know that even as far as my golf game has fallen since I left high school, I'm still better than average. I played the course where the U.S. Women's Open was staged last year less than a month before the event, and I still kept it a good amount inside 100.

To me, the difference between 93 and 100 is a "good amount." And that's not open for debate.

"I ask every average 18-handicapper that I see to putt and chip for me," said Sal Vitale, the head golfing professional at National Golf Worx, a large driving range in northern New Jersey. "They say, 'No, that's O.K., I'm a pretty good chipper and putter.' If I convince one of them to chip for me, they're usually not very good.

"Still, all they want is help with their swing, or nowadays, with their new driver."

-- And as with everything else,
it boils down to the stupidity of the general public.

   Now, I haven't taken a golf lesson since my pre-teen days. One of the public courses in Agawam staged a golf camp over a number of days during the summer, with one for putting, one for irons, one for the rules, etc. I did not go in there and inform them what I'd like to be learning ... given they know more than me, I figured it best to leave that part to them upon seeing me play.

   It doesn't matter the strangeness that this is where I saw the quote, because it's perfectly true each and every day.

"Common sense isn't."

   Maybe it's different because I didn't carry an oversized driver for like eight years, and even now that I do again, it's nowhere near the size of what's on the market today ... it only looks big to me because I've been teeing off with a three wood since I was in high school. Whereas you can now buy a 600 cc club, mine's I think 285.

   And the best part is I can probably still hit a 3 wood farther than most suckers with a shoebox-on-a-shaft. No human takes more joy from being better than average than me.


   • And now as promised ... (with a big gasp of air) ... a review of tonight's episode of Britney and Kevin: Chaotic.

   Now, bear in mind I live alone, but there are other people in this building. I'm not exaggerating when I say I turned the TV volume down about five seconds in, simply because I didn't want the chance of anyone else here knowing what I was doing.

   It's that bad.

   I recently had a dream about a highway I was on being blocked by people watching a car wreck, but Chaotic is like causing a car wreck just so you can watch it, and then forcibly stopping every car that comes after you to tell them exactly what you did and how cool it was. It's barely even fun to watch, because as the reviews I'd read had said, it's not so much stupid as it is tremendously sad. The show opens with a review of last week, where we learn neither of them believe in marriage.

   They do realize they got married at the end of this, right?

   Called "Who Said Anything About Love," the crux of this week's show seems to be discovering that they actually care about each other. Given her security guard says something in the area of, "When she first saw him, I was like 'What the heck does she see in this guy? I odn't want this punk around her,'" we're not there yet.

   Oh, but we get there. Despite her best efforts to prevent it.

   See, Britney Spears isn't afraid of her love. She's afraid of other people's love, which would make sense if this were Mars and we all hadn't progressed past some previous stage of human development. That's about the crux of things ... Britney Spears, at 23 years old, is about the maturity level of someone in the 15-16 range. There's fart jokes, there's putting gum on her nose for laughs, there's saying things like:

"He would start to give his opinion on things [about her performance] and I would be like, 'Shh. Talk to the hand because the face ain't listening.'"
-- You didn't know people still said that, did you?

   Or perhaps:

"And he's cute and he's nice and he's older
and he's a really, really good kisser. He's just really cool and I like him."

   Believe me when I say I could go on, but there's so much more. She actually seems to have some coherent thoughts about what love is and how "everything depends on the magic in the kiss," but really, what else does your average teenager think about? Seriously ... isn't that all there is to be worried about then? The angst poetry? The planning your wedding? She's right where she needs to be.

   And he, Kevin ... well, I'd imagine his ex-family was overjoyed to hear him say how weird and great it was to just go "dropping everything I know and just going overseas" so he could pretend he was a vampire in the backseat of a car -- there was a night-vision filter involved, it actually wasn't far off. His parents divorced at 8, causing him to bounce from Fresno (Calif.) to Carson City (Nev.) to somewhere else before he moved to L.A., where he became a dancer for LFO.

   Which until this moment I never knew stood for "Lyte Funkie Ones," something which would make me laugh a whole lot harder at their career if I wasn't aware they probably made millions and could show up on MTV Cribs at any time.

   Fortunately, however, it now looks like he may be finding happiness. Well, if happiness is making out while holding a video camera six inches from your face, which I know is what I do every time I decide it's an intimate moment. Though that's where Queen Teen and I diverge.

"I'm not really good at being intimate one-on-one.
I think it really helped to have a camera there."

   Isn't "being intimate" defined as being one-on-one, you fucking twit?! Don't they go hand in hand? Should the above really be what you say before you tell him -- and thus the entire world -- that "the kisses are really good, but the sex is really good"?

   Like I said above, even having moments like Britney scared on a plane, saying she's afraid of landing without being able to see the ground right before they show her closing her eyes ... it can't be saved. A good part of me actually believes Britney Spears and Kevin Federline really do love each other, and really will be happy together. Perhaps even past the moment when someone else walks up to her and krinkles shiny tin foil in front of her face or blinks colored lights in her direction.

   Next week's show is apparently the "conflict" episode, where they fight and kickboxing Britney announces she has so much rage within her, she "could kick any boy's ass." If that's your thing, it's 9 p.m. Tuesday on UPN.

   You're on your own. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to reformat the TiVo, burn my notes and throw them in the toilet.


May 23, 2005 - Walgreen's Salsa
   A Study In Definitions: Because today was such a quiet day -- no one does lazy weekday like I do lazy weekday -- let's revisit "Drinking With The Bosses" night from weeks ago.

Career Fixers

   These are the oft-mentioned pair that I owe my career to. At left, Dan, our Managing Editor and a former Herald-ite before it was cool to be a former Herald-ite. At right, Jon Comey, who gave me the original column going on three years ago.

   Because Dan told the waitress to sing to us because we'd just been wed, and because Jon and I got matching strawberry daiquiris at Foxwoods on a weekday afternoon once, I'm going to label both of these "uncomfortable." One may be moreso than the other ... I'll leave that up to you.

Tongue
-- This, however ... I don't know what the hell this is.

   The razor burn is also a nice touch. People could mistake them for steroid sores if it didn't look like bendable bendable Pixy Stix were coming out my shirt.

Even I Care About These NBA Games
-- Remember. Headlines, pizza, free. And for the record, I didn't do the ultimate ironic thing and not watch tonight's Heat-Pistons game ... I'm not even that terrible.

   • Now this ... this is quality newswriting.

And 20 grand seemed reasonable compared with another Friedman piece being sold at the same auction. This one, also untitled, is a two-foot white cube with a barely visible black speck set right in the middle of the top surface. To again quote Christie's, it is ".5mm of the artist's feces."

Yes, Tom Friedman put his poop on a pedestal, and last week Christie's tried to sell it, with bidding to start at $45,000. On their big day, the Friedman items came up early. A fight for [an] ink scrawl started at $14,000 and within about six seconds it had sold for $26,400, including commission, to a guy in a fuchsia sweater. Then it was time for the poop on a cube, or Lot 416 as it was called by auctioneer Barbara Strongin.

"Lot 416, now showing on the screen," she said. "And $45,000 to start here. At $45,000. $48,000, at $50,000. Any advance from 50?" It might seem like someone was bidding from the way the price went up but that apparently was just the auctioneer trying to gin up interest and give the sale some forward momentum, an accepted and common tactic. There were no bidders. Strongin paused for a moment, then gave up.

"Down it goes, at $50,000," she said.

And as the white cube and the teeny dropping vanished from the screen, Strongin added a word that never in the history of fine art has ever rung so true:

"Passed."

   While this ... well, I wouldn't be so proud about it that I'd be letting the New York Times take pictures of me doing aerobics with grandparents.

A one-bedroom apartment in Boston now rents for an average of $1,834 a month, according to Northeast Apartment Advisors. In Manhattan, a one-bedroom rental averages $2,500. Against that economic backdrop, living with parents can look pretty attractive. Ms. Sheeran, who is training to be an elementary school teacher, paid $700 a month to share a two-bedroom apartment in Boston before she moved into a small bedroom in her parents' home in Great Island, a community developed by Del Webb, a unit of Pulte Homes, one of the country's largest builders of 55-and-over communities.

In the decade that Ms. Sheeran lived on her own, she never had central air-conditioning, a dishwasher or a washing machine, much less the Jacuzzi bathtub she now enjoys. But what she has gained in amenities, she has given up in freedom.

"It is frustrating, after being so independent for 10 years, to come back to 'Where are you going tonight? What time are you going to be home?'" said Ms. Sheeran, who recently spent one night at a friend's house and failed to tell her parents. She awoke to 12 missed calls from them on her cellphone.

Mr. and Mrs. Sheeran, too, have given up the independence of empty-nesters. Because his daughter complained about the explosive whine of the coffee grinder at 5 a.m., Mr. Sheeran now grinds his beans at night. For similar noise-related reasons, Mrs. Sheeran has stopped doing laundry early in the morning or late at night.

   Hi. I'm moving back home, but don't worry. I'll be sure to bitch and moan and keep you from spending your retirement doing what you want to do.

   Ah, youth. I can't wait until I have to move back home, and someone reminds me that I wrote this.


May 22, 2005 - Birthday Four, Title Two
   May 22, 2001: There has been more fanfare about it in the past, but it deserves saying again.

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.

-- First-ever entry. May 22, 2001.

   I'd like to believe this is still getting better, but it just kind of is. And it's as it always is ... there's the good days, and then there's the "cull Fark for material" days. As much as I'm disappointed I didn't get to meet the mysterious Sly this weekend, there should be a chance in the future because this site still isn't going anywhere.

   And that's both a good and bad thing.

   As long as people keep enjoying it, I'll keep ensuring all the world's other Jon Coutures have to pore through me when they Google themselves.

   Thanks everyone for the comments, good and bad, and the well wishes over the years. Lord only knows what will happen in the next year, but I know what won't be.

   The missing vacation writeups and a site redesign ... a man's got to have principles, you know.


   • Can't say as I gave much thought to this entry today.

A Champion Again

   I was too busy winning more hardware.

   Now, I'll spare you the dramatic narrative, because the nuts and bolts are already posted here. Basically, I was one of six players in the new "Open Pro" division, which lets non-USPMGA (be careful ... the link talks) members compete for cash. Much less cash, which I something I regretted once play began, but cash nonetheless.

   After the first three rounds last year, I had a total of 139 (53, 42, 44). This year, it was a 114 (39, 35, 40), which put me 17 shots ahead of anyone else in my bracket and would have been fourth among the big-time pros. What's frightening is that even in making six aces in those three rounds, I lipped out a half-dozen more with no exaggeration. The 35 was actually tied for the third-best round anyone shot all day, behind two 34s from the eventual champion.

   The 35 also ended with three straight aces, on 17, 18 and 1. So apparently, playing the same course over and over again makes you look far better. I'll have to note this as I continue to play real golf courses once and never again across SouthCoast ...

   There was a format change this year, with those three rounds leading to match play that would pare each field down to a final four. Course, I then had a bye into the final with Ed, my partner in crime from the paper who earned the No. 2. Given the final was stroke play with the slate wiped clean, I only sort of had the potential to blow a 17-shot lead in the final, and make Greg Norman look like Mariano Rivera pre-2004.

Championship Card
-- Well, I hung on. Barely.

   So last year, I was the Amateur champion. This year, with a good amount more fanfare (but no comeback from 12 down with 36 to play), I won the Open Pro. Logically, this means I now have to move up and face off with the ... well, whatever the nickname for the big-time pros is. I can at least compete with them, though winning three straight championships is probably out of the question.

   Still talking about miniature golf. Remain calm. First prize up top was $600 ... please focus. Save all snark for the Britney Spears show, because it's more needed there.

   I really can't stress how much fun this is. Obviously I'm already a well-documented dork, but everybody loves miniature golf. Even people who hate real golf ... it's that plus a little competition, which aging non-athletes like myself hardly see a lot of after high school is over.

   And really, I'm not going to be getting many trophies in the future. Especially if I keep working for the "Sub Standard-Times," as one of the other local players felt the need to shout as Ed walked up to get his second-place awards.

   I never did ask that guy how his newspaper was doing, or what he did for work that made shouting "Get in the hole!" after nearly every shot seem like a good idea. Nor did I check to see why his fat friend thought wearing a royal blue track suit that matched his royal blue golf ball was a good idea. It was like watching a cheap news background waddle around all afternoon.

   Sorry ... I'll still be game for 'Chaotic.' Whether the TiVo starts taping every afternoon's TRL afterward, though, only time will tell.


May 21, 2005 - Rage Fade
   Humor Is A Gift: Or so it would seem when reading the possible "best choices" in this caption contest.

Caption Contest
-- It doesn't make this photo any less creepy.

   If there weren't five choices and only five choices submitted, someone really should be getting a quality control firing. Hey, these are the things you think about when you're convinced your game is a rainout.

Tough Night For Sox
-- The Standard-Times ... ten creative headlines, or your pizza's free.


Interleague Play Rears Its Familiar Face
-- This week's Inside Baseball, with my new plan for Interleague Play and more than you ever wanted to know about ... the Hall of Fame Game. Compared to the Saturday game story, it's like reading Chaucer.

   And while I'm not prone to hyperbole, next to the usual Skip Bayless stuff, it's in Bible range.

   Just throwin' it out there, as we're prone to do.


   • So tonight was the night of the Free Press anniversary party, which I skipped because of the Red Sox game and apparently a good number of the people I knew skipped because they were at the wedding of one of my former (and current) colleagues. I can only hope none of you were there, wearing yellow ribbons so I'd recognize you at the bar.

   Though really, given the state of some of the people I met up with after I was done filing tonight, it doesn't exactly seem like we'd have been in a state to converse. Open bar plus "light food" apparently equals blinding inebriation in the journalist's guide to math.

   In the end, it was probably better I skipped it. After today's "practice time" for the Mass Open mini golf extravaganza, I legitimately feel like I could win the whole thing again.

   $80 or a dramatic story of loss, here I come!

   And Always Remember ...: that fame often stinks.


May 20, 2005 - Legless
   Wearin O' The Green: Let it be known that the golf season has finally, mercifully, begun in earnest.

Hole
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
IN
Yards
325
350
491
300
440
325
130
156
315
2832
PAR
4
4
5
4
5
4
3
3
4
36
Cooch
7
5
6
5
5
5
3
4
5
45
• Lakeville CC - Lakeville, Mass. •
45, 9 OVER PAR
Birdies: 0 - Pars: 2 - Bogeys: 6 - Others: 1
Fairways Hit: 0 of 7 - Greens In Regulation: 1 of 9 - Putts: 18

   As is to be expected in the first real round of the year, I made absolutely no putts. Never mind that the greens at Lakeville are hard to read and rather slow, it's just not there yet. Everything else, though, seemed to be. The day's only bad hole involved hitting a drive into the water only because the ball went further than I thought I could hit it.

   Considering it was a 3-wood, you wouldn't normally expect it to go 240+ on the first swing of the day. You also wouldn't expect a driver to go relatively straight and 260+ with regularity, especially if you've been looking at these scores through the years.

   Course, the putting will either get better or seem even worse ... remember that mini golf tournament from last year? Well, this year's edition is Sunday.

   I guarantee I'm the only Sox writer not covering things that day because of such an excuse.

   Speaking of ...

Miller All We Had Hoped For
-- You know the drill by now. Squint and you'll miss the clauses.

   Tonight also marked the start of a counter I can't believe hadn't begun yet -- Number of Drunks I've Seen Passed Out In The Street. The count now stands at 1, the first checking in at my 12th game of the season on the corner of Yawkey and Brookline.

   I of course have no pity for anyone that stupid, though there were plenty of people surrounding the man by the time I got there 90+ minutes after last pitch. I also seemed to have walked into some sort of guy argument in front of the Best Sausage Company ... ironically, it seemed like one man was chastising the other for leaving him passed out somewhere. Then I walked 25 feet down the street and saw the play acted out again.

   And again, speaking of ...

   We're Gonna Fight The Law: Maybe you'd heard about the big to-do about Channel 4 sportscaster Bob Lobel and his "appearance" in the comic strip "Get Fuzzy," which often features Boston-specific storylines. Well, now you're going to hear about it here too, because we're getting sued.

Get Fuzzy
-- Fill in the blank as appropriate.

   Now, read the article I linked to. Read the lawyer's comments, and imagine what I'm thinking. After all, if this whackjob is willing to file a lawsuit over a fucking cartoon he's giving more publicity to than anyone else, I'm not exactly feeling safe to say anything myself. And don't even get me started on our taking the time to check the editorial content of the friggin' funnies every day ... it's done by the Living department, who isn't exactly full of people with the time and pop culture knowhow to handle every reference.

   Just know this one hasn't slipped by me. And at a time when all is said and done, there will be plenty to talk about if I'm still as furious as I am right now.


   • Honestly, I'm in a rage. And it's not just because the Dallas Mavericks are hopeless.

   Litigation is not something I need right now. As such, good night.


May 19, 2005 - Mass Fish
   On The Clock: Tonight I got "the call," informing me that it was "great," and that it would be wonderful if I could be dragged to see it.

   As is no secret here, I've long said that I would only watch the 'Star Wars' films in order once all were released, and then never watch them again. This stems from not so much my being "too cool" to watch them, but more because all I need is to go in a theater with people like this:

Star F*ckers, Inc.

Star Wars fans dressed as characters from the movie pose for pictures at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York City on March 18. 'Star Wars: Episode Revenge of the Sith' is the final instalment in director George Lucas' Star Wars series. (Photo by Seth Wenig/Reuters)

   and I'll end up lashing out while I'm on their turf. Never a good idea.

   No. At some point in the near future, the six films will be watched on DVD and then discussed like rational human beings would do. I have to at least sometimes be a man of my word.

   And it's not like I did anything of more substance today than watching movies for 13 1/2 hours.


   • I will say this ... I am at least intigued by this "here's why this guy turns evil" storyline. Though it has nothing to do with what celebrities think, I'm similarly intrigued if anyone, anywhere, has ever cared so much about what Michael Rosenbaum thinks.

Thanks to his iconic role as Clark Kent's nemesis Lex Luthor on "Smallville," actor Michael Rosenbaum knows a thing or two about sympathizing with a misunderstood villain.

"I was torn for Anakin Skywalker because the Jedi put him in this position in a way, so you feel more for the villain," Rosenbaum explains. "I loved it because it was darker, action-packed and everything a Star Wars fan wants out of the final episode. It's so much more than I ever imagined. Right when the film finished I went from this overwhelming joy to this depression. I had to lie down."

"I came here with my friends on a road trip from Los Angeles in my conversion van," Rosenbaum continues. "We were playing the Star Wars DVDs in the van on the way here. I was walking around on the Ranch in my Lucas Ranch robe, and I was playing with the lightsabers like a kid. And then all of a sudden this movie ends and I became incredibly sad because part of my childhood lives on with these films. But deep down I know that Star Wars will always be around. That's one thing I always love about Star Wars is that it's a constant conversation piece. Star Wars characters are universal, like Superman or Mickey Mouse. It's iconic and there forever."

"When I went to the theater and I saw all these other actors just tear up while watching the film; it affected everyone," Rosenbaum adds. "Everything about this movie from the music to the CGI to the actors to the story is just overwhelming. I'm just blown away by the whole thing. This was the best day of my life. My friends and I are speechless. I recommend everyone go see this film."

   No, it was not the best day of your life. If it was the best day of your life, celebrity is extremely, extremely overrated.

   Though really, you'd think for as often as I lapse into introspection in this window, I could tell you what was the best day of my life. However, like this picture, there are just too many feelings.


May 18, 2005 - It Can't Be Worse Than 'Meatballs 2'
   It Never Stops: So it turns out a near majority baseball players using steroids -- to be read "most baseball players caught using steroids" -- are pitchers.

Boston reliever Mike Timlin, who has pitched for six teams in a 15-year major league career, theorized that pitchers used steroids "more for recovery and longevity rather than just all-out strength."

"It's kind of blown out of proportion, even with hitters," Timlin said. "Hitters are not looking for all-out strength or size. What they're looking for is to have a regular amount of strength day in and day out. That's why they take it. That's why pitchers take it."

David Wells, the Boston left-hander and former Yankee, said he considered, but decided against, using growth hormone in an attempt to recover from back problems in 2001, when he pitched for the Chicago White Sox. Major League Baseball had no drug-testing policy at the time.

"It's a good thing I didn't do it," Wells said. "I got a trainer. He said we could probably do without it."

   Even I don't think I care that much anymore.

   Because These Things Matter: It's been three and a half magical years, but the days are finally on the horizon when my video games will be out of date.

At the introduction, prototype games running on the PS3 were stunning in their cinematic quality. The realism of the graphics, at least on the demonstrations shown here, supported the idea that next-generation videogames will essentially be interactive, high-definition movies. In fact, the PS3 is expected to provide many households with an excuse to upgrade their current televisions to high-definition (HDTV), especially those capable of the highest of the high-definition standards, 1080p.

   And I won't simply be out of date ... I'll be getting lapped.


   • As much as I wanted to document the world's "first glance" at the private life of Britney Spears, I just couldn't jump in without first letting someone else test the waters.

   Thank you, Reuters.

The Spears-Federline union doesn't appear in the premiere to be a relationship so much as a two-person kegger that's destined to wind up in a painful hangover. Spears comes across like a party-hearty college girl with her shaky-cam, finger-up-her-nose, close-up-of-her-pores, leering video snippets.

"Chaotic" includes Spears cooing about the lovemaking ("Our sex is so good. . . . Ecstasy, ecstasy, ecstasy, ecstasy") and suggesting to her new man, "Let's just (bleep) all day." He: "You know I'm down for that idea." Ah, romance.

Their fellow executive producer, Susan Zirinsky, makes some cursory attempt to save the tactless twosome from themselves with more conventional interview footage of both Spears and Federline, but that merely illuminates the fact that we're watching an installment of "Lifestyles of the Rich and Clueless."

   And don't even get me started on the drinking game.

   While I can't be sure, I would have to guess all this is what passes for not being able to "handle their truth." I mean, if you can't see the spontaneous joy in videotaping the intimate moments of one's life, when point is there in going on? I mean, if you don't videotape it, how are you going to remember everything?

   Now taking notes and writing about it every day ... that's truly pathetic.

   Next week ... tentative promise ... review of "Who Said Anything About Love." If I can tentatively promise to go to a Clay Aiken performance on my mother's birthday, I can definitely tentatively promise this as well.


May 17, 2005 - My Brain Hurts
   Bold, Daring and Stupid: At times like when I read this William Rhoden story, I think back to the letter I got from a reader in Fall River who accused me of pandering to the lowest common denominator and using "red meat" material just to meet deadline because I dared cite the New York Post and Daily News, and not the mighty edifice that is the New York Times.

   So let me get this straight ... it is the NBA's duty, to maintain their own success, that the playoffs constantly feature teams from the big media markets -- Boston, New York and L.A. -- lest no one care about what goes on. Of course. So why exactly do the other teams exist then, Bill? Why don't we just contract the NBA down to around eight teams, and only put those eight teams in the cities that matter? The big ones that get to have people on the 'Sports Reporters' alongside you every Sunday. Since clearly, you and your big-city mentality are all that matters in the sports world.

I broached the subject with Joe Dumars after the Pistons polished off the Pacers yesterday. Dumars, understandably, didn't agree that the N.B.A. was better when better players were in bigger markets. Why should he? He has assembled a championship team with mostly role players who play as a team.

"If we're going to get into the business of ensuring that the big markets have the better players at all times, then don't call it true professional sports," Dumars said. "At that point, it's no longer about sports then. It's simply about setting up entertainment to come out the way you want it to turn out. That's what they do in the W.W.F."

Dumars, the Pistons' president of basketball operations, is right, but so am I.

-- Always good when you openly disagree with your source.

   Regardless of this column's idiocy, I do have to thank Bill Rhoden for one thing. It was seeing him walking around inside the ropes at the U.S. Women's Open with a "Working Media" armband that led me to go back to the tent and get the one originally designated for our "photographer" Ed, who I knew wasn't coming.

   "Those are just for photographers," they told me at the table. "So why does Bill Rhoden have one?," I asked.

   I got our armband. And now that article is going into NEAPNEA with a handful of others I submitted -- they may all not be entered, but I at least nominated it.

   Speaking of the Sports Reporters ...

   Not Bold, Not Daring, Just Stupid: That show is why America knows Mitch Albom, and such media extracurriculars are what led him to need this type of internal review.

   I wrote 250 inches about bodybuilding that was at least interesting and engaging in some small way. The above is 121 inches that, above all else, prove Mitch Albom is an idiot and his editors don't care so long as he keeps giving the Detroit Free Press exposure across the media dial.

A Free Press review of more than 600 columns by Mitch Albom has found no evidence of problems similar to an April 3 column in which Albom, with an editor's knowledge, misled readers by writing about events that never occurred at a basketball game.

   That's the first paragraph, and that's about all you need to know. While the phrase "with an editor's knowledge" is what cleared Albom, all it should really mean is that many should be fired, not none.

   As someone who isn't Mitch Albom, if I wrote about an event that I didn't attend as though I was there, and described a scene that never happened because the people I talked to didn't actually attend either, would you feel bad for me if it was because I had to go tape my radio show and fly across country for a TV appearance?

    Look, I'm not saying I'm completely free of having done some of the very things Albom has done through the years, nor am I always vigilant about reporting where I grab every quote I've ever used from. I have a feeling an 'internal probe' of my work would come back in much the same way if it was done that thoroughly. I've pulled quotes off TV.

   I've never, however, lied to the readers. Which is what telling the descriptive story of an event you weren't at is, plain and simple.

   Really, though, if I had a national radio show and was all over the television, I probably wouldn't care about my personal newspaper column ethics either. That's what will be the death of newspapers, not simply the new outlets.

   The fact that all the newspaper people want to be stars of the new outlets.


   • Is it a bad sign when you get a "one size fits all" hat, yet wearing said hat gives you a headache and squeezes blood vessels to the point of chilling the brain a little bit? I of course ask this full well knowing I will continue wearing the hat because it was a gift and because it was this hat.

   And this has nothing to do with hair, as I got it cut today. Engaged in a lovely conversation with the hairdresser, whose son started his first job today working at a restaurant whose name I already forgot.

   "Got to get him out of the house, thinking about money," she said. "I don't want him coming home with a kid!"

   I wonder if I actually turned red and started sweating when this chat began, or if that was only a feeling I kept internalized.


May 16, 2005 - No, I Couldn't
   Thanks, Youth Culture: Earlier this evening, Noted Actor Jamie Foxx informed me, through public service announcement, that "We can start to make poverty history."

   I couldn't agree with him more, though I'm guessing he's carrying the "we" in our relationship.

   Soon after on MTV, a mysterious black man wearing a floppy hat used an alluring voice, free verse and an oddly attractive smile to let me know "knowing is a wonderful thing," and that I should get tested for HIV. Again, couldn't agree more. Knowing, wonderful.

   Pretty sure I'm in the clear, but I appreciate the sentiment. Especially when delivered in the voice I'm sure that man uses to get some in New York City.

   In More Places I Can't Relate: I'm constantly told by one guy I know who works on the paper's youth-targeted Web site, SouthCoast247.com, that I'm not in their target demographic. This usually comes after I tell him I think their Web site is awful and a waste of excellent potential, but take that for what you will.

   Regardless, every so often I take a look at see what I'm missing, whether it be sex advice or words on how to deal with being a townie. Today's look brought me something I can convey to you, those who question why I live in what some have called the "armpit of the state."

For someone who craves variety, and has a tendency to go stir crazy, the proximity of the South Coast to all of these destinations is a huge bonus. Yes, I've had my doubts about living in this area, but it's only natural to want to get away from home for a bit. There's a big world out there.

But it's all in how you deal with these feelings. You can either blame the South Coast for the condition of your life, and wallow in it, complaining that 'there is nothing to do' and 'everybody sucks', or you can accept this area for what it is and make the best of it. Personally, I prefer for my glass to be half full. I can't imagine the miserable existence that I would have otherwise.

So it really irks me when people go to all sorts of lengths to complain about how 'awful' this area is. Because if you read the papers, talk to people, or do some traveling, you'd realize how rediculously lucky you are to live here. This is what I mean by being spoiled. Let me give you some examples. I could go one forever, but I'll only cite a few to illustrate my point.

Well I'm sure glad I don't live in Iraq, and that I don't have to worry about my shit getting bombed, or my family being torn apart. And I'm really happy that I don't live in some African village that is taken over by a different renegade militia every other week. And as a woman, I am ecstatic that I am guaranteed the same rights of a man and that I don't have to worry about getting stoned by an angry mob, or having acid thrown in my face because I was seen talking to another man in the street.

-- Letter from the Editor

   So remember, gang. The next time you're ready to take a potshot at SouthCoast, remember our new mottos ... "Whale City: Significantly Better than the Third World" and "New Bedford: More Whales, Less Famine."

   Please note the dearth of written connections between that site and the newspaper at large. Yeah, that's not by accident.


   • Because I am now the proud owner of one thanks to one Jen P. -- who very much outdid herself given I celebrate almost no one's birthday, including my own -- I have to ask a personal question to the group.

Homer Hottie
-- Safe to wear out of doors?
Best inside a sweater?
The ticket to full social acceptance?

   I don't know these things ... I'm too old to relate to the kids. I do things like play in miniature golf tournaments and derive pleasure from online poker and golf.

   Just be glad I didn't ask about the World Poker Tour boxer shorts ... I'm smart enough to know where the public lies when it comes to having the words "Big Slick" emblazoned across your crotch.

   All kidding aside, I am quite grateful for the gifts. Now, if I only I could illegally get the pre-sale code for the Sept. 3 GD/JEW show added at Gillette Stadium, we could really be getting somewhere.


May 15, 2005 - Planning The Future
   The Show of the Summer: On Sept. 1, the posse will be relocating south for the day. The drive is worth it for Noted Good Bands Green Day and Jimmy Eat World.

   Note that neither U2 nor The Rolling Stones are involved. Nor are these guys, who have a new single out.

   "Lyla:" I've now heard it twice on the radio, just in passing between the Cooch Estates south and west. Perhaps the best thing I can say about it is it doesn't completely sound like it came off this general train wreck, though there remains a dearth of positives for a group that hasn't done anything all that good since my age was a blackjack score.

   The way their Web site is broken up, if this was their complete discography, they might actually have succeeded and been the biggest band in the world. So it goes.


   • I would love to, but I could never really write a column about Malcolm Glazer's Manchester United takeover.

   Could I?


May 14, 2005 - The Kids Are Alright
   The Worldwide Reach of Hockey: Everyone always makes such a big deal about the U.S. being in Iraq, and for good reason. Well, they've also done some good, clothing the children in the fashions that most American kids take for granted every day.

   For example, take this protestor photo from Obeidi, Iraq:

Falcons ... For The Kids
-- He's loved them for years.

Residents in Obeidi protest against what they claim was the detention by American forces of a 57 year-old woman and her blind 14 year-old son in the nearby village of Ish, in Obeidi village near Qaim, about 320 kilometers (200 miles) northwest of Baghdad near the Iraqi-Syrian border Saturday. Obeidi saw heavy fighting and frightened residents retreated indoors Saturday as a large convoy of mainly U.S. Marines, backed by tanks and helicopters, rolled across the river from Rommana. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

   Do you not see it? The boy in the front left, channeling his inner Nikolai Khabibulin.

And There It Is

   If only he were close enough to go to games at the beautiful "new" MassMutual Center, which would probably look even better if it didn't house one of the consistently worst teams in the American Hockey League. When I'm not conveniently close enough to go to games, that's a problem.

   One that government-issued T-shirts can't quite solve.

Could Manny Be Fading Into Mediocrity?
-- This week's 'Inside Baseball' is itself an advertisement as to why I should never work Saturdays. It was so rushed, the stat that time forgot turned into the quote that time forgot, which itself forgot to be exciting. I'm such a perfectionist, even if I've decided "Inside Baseball" is rapidly becoming the best thing I've ever created.

   Other than this lovely Web site, of course.


   • Also, as a note, please note the column uses my first-ever created word -- contrivoversy. I've decided if the Internet has accepted its usage, then it is my duty to attempt to shoehorn in into general usage around the country.

   Just please don't go making a contrivoversy about it. The world has enough contrivoversies that it doesn't need you making up another one over the usage of contrivoversy.


May 13, 2005 - Debt Consolidation
   Recapping The Day: Aside from a Charlie e-mail and the various familial well wishes -- I also got a birthday card from a family in Granby, Conn., that I swear I don't know -- some odd things popped up on Thursday.

   Friendster sent out a "Birthday Reminder," filling me on friends who are having a birthday "in the next two weeks." Of course, the dates they referred to are June 1, July 13 and Aug. 22, but I'm sure they know what they're talking about. Amazon, undoubtedly noticing my preferences with their honed personal profiling software, informed me of a new book I might be interested in.

Body Brides!
-- The Body Sculpting Bible For Brides

   The gift you give yourself, you know.

   And though I wasn't at work to receive them until Friday, the pictures from last week's going-away celebrations are making the rounds.

Strawberry Waffles!
-- Me and my Golden Greek strawberry waffles at 3 a.m.
Not pictured: The egg and sausage platter, beer, any semblance of melanin.

   These will be appearing from time to time, with most coming after someone dares tell me I'm a role model or worth looking up to. Just want to keep people honest, that's all.

   When There's 800 Channels ...: So just to recap what this story is telling us, that not only is the way NBC covers the Olympics building to influence television shows, PAX is putting fake prostheses and makeup on people so they can pretend to be minorities.

   And this from the network whose other major reality show is about watching people try to quit smoking. I'm just trying to figure out why the lead make-up artist for "Xtreme Fakeovers" listed on his resume that he was a make-up effects artist on ... Aeon Flux, which last I checked was animated.

   Now, if they made a live action version of that show, I'm pretty sure whatever length it ran is the most screwed up time period of television in recorded history.

If you have managed to find this site, it is probably because you're as crazy about the show as I am and you may enter with my best wishes. If youíre under eighteen however SOD OFF -- this site is for grown-ups and you wouldn't appreciate the innuendo, sexual or otherwise!

Iím trying to contact the makers (Liquid TV/MTV) for more info, so please check back soon.

One final thing, please don't misunderstand my erm ... affectation for Aeon Flux. It's just a joke, honestly, erm ... no really, the idea that this Sad Geezer may fancy a cartoon character is, of course, ludicrous (even if she is drop-dead-gorgeous ... erm..)

-- Yes, most shows with no fan base should have fans treating 17-year-olds like they're five, especially by someone who finds a cartoon figure who could impale herself with her shoulder blade attractive.

   • So in the face of all these base closures, which includes the apparent statement that we no longer need nuclear submarines, Western Mass. hit the jackpot. Both Barnes in Westfield and Westover in Chicopee would gain positions, even if Westover is supposed to lose its Army Reserve Center.

   That's the glory of politics, though. None of this will probably happen, and if it does, it's over a year off.

   Though really, I can't quite figure out why Western Mass. should become the lynchpin of any military strategy. Unless it's a surprise kind of principle.

Man, let's keep going. There's nothing down in that valley.
I mean, they barely even have McDonald's in there.

   It's so nice to be almost willingly oblivious to the facts.


May 12, 2005 - Cause For Low To Moderate Celebration
   Now, I Just Need Some Crunk: The arrival of 'Breakin' It Down' with Laurie Ann Gibson, the only "learn to work it" DVD endorsed by Brandy, Alicia Keys and former Eastern States Exhibition performers Dream, has made me wonder how things went so wrong for Darrin Henson.

   What, no one else remembers "Darrin's Dance Grooves"? The "learn to work it" DVD of my generation? The choice of professionals like N'Sync, Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears and Surreal Life veteran Jordan Knight?

   These things work in waves. The kids now all want to be like Brandy, who I thought hadn't had a hit since I was in high school, and dance like in Honey, which I was pretty sure grossed about what I make in a year.

Laurie Ann is somebody who's always gonna be around. I think that I can call on Laurie Ann at any point or time in my career and be like, Laurie Ann, I need you to do something and I believe that she's gonna be right there - 'cos you have that friend that you don't need to talk to all the time or be on the phone or hang out with all the time or go to Six Flags, but someone that you can call at any time of your life and they'll be right there for you.
-- Missy Elliott

   Be careful what you assume ... sequel videos and "a miraculous 2000" aren't exactly going to get you back in Defamer, if you catch my drift.

   And So It Begins, Without Graphics: Having waited far too long, my golf season officially started today at Wyckoff CC in Holyoke. There is, however, no score to speak of, as the only number of note is six.

   As in "of nine holes attempted."

   Not wanting to slow my father's league down in my first on-course swings of the year, attempts were limited. I picked up after a 25-yard drive and 50-yard approach attempt on No. 11, after airmailing the green entirely on a No. 14 chip and after my tee shot on the uphill par 3 16th went roughly 75 yards left of the green.

   There were, however, positives. Two birdie puts which turned into pars, and another three-footer than should have been were it not on a sidehill. I also hit an honest-to-God driver with confidence for the first time since I was 17 ... considering I got the club on my last birthday, I consider that progress.

   You did know it was my birthday, didn't you? Theoretically, people think today is important.


   • I said the following on my 24th birthday, May 12, 2004.

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'll be honest ... when I wrote that, I sort of assumed I'd be working somewhere else by the day I turned 25. I would spend the remainder of the 2004 baseball season blowing the entire world away, then at least attempt to parlay that into something else during the winter.

   Then the Red Sox won the World Series, and I was in attendance.

   And the Patriots won another Super Bowl, and I was only not in attendance by my own hand.

   And the Red Sox beat was given to me, leading to my seeing 11 Red Sox games before 2005 is 40 games old.

   Technically, it's not a new job, but it counts for definition purposes.

   And so, here we are. The kid who has correctly predicted exactly one basketball national champion, but is currently on the hook for the order of 30 baseball teams this year, got something right. As such, I'm going to pocket the profits and not say anything beyond this. Though I do have a prediction of "You will all hate me by August" in the hopper, if needed.

   A year ago, I said the year of being 22 beat out the year of being 23, which had nothing to do with the Blink 182 song which reminds everyone "nobody likes you when you're 23."

   Well, for any number of reasons, it has been defeated. And it wasn't close.


May 11, 2005 - The Power Of Powdered Pee
   Red Sox 6, Athletics 5: Clearly didn't see this one coming, though when it comes to sight and today, I really have to address this woman. I honestly fear I may never be able to look at her again, and I'm not saying that like it's a bad thing ... I'm not sure how I can put this.

   Today was a warm day in Boston, and while there was no attire equal to this ensemble to be sure, there was clearly some usages of denim and skirts that some would want recorded for posterity.

   When I came home and watched a recording of "Red Sox Rewind" that she hosted, I'm not kidding when I say I felt like she was staring at me. Maybe it's just the freshness of two days of exposure, but I'm not sure. I don't find the woman attractive really, it's more like I feel like I've seen things I shouldn't.

   Which is really weird, since clearly she's dressing as she does, in some small way, to turn people on to her "SportsCenter Lite" shtick. Me? I'm just creeped out by the whole thing.

   And By The Way: It was a really good game to boot, and I'm not just saying that because this man was in town to throw out the first ball and generally show off his bling. I suppose I could have gone over and said hello, but really, I'd like to keep the chances of my appearing on WWE television as low as possible.

The Enigma That Is Barry Zito
-- Bit of a different route today, as I look at a former local Cape Leaguer that I'm assuming has some stronger local following because of it. Of course, actually speaking to him would have made the story a lot better, but things like that are probably slightly harder than you think.

   I'd also like someone to explain to me how I parked at a meter on the Beacon Street crossing of the Mass Pike from 10:30 a.m. to 6:15 p.m. and didn't get a parking ticket when the man parked behind me who wasn't there as long had one. Not complaining, I want to know how I can bottle this skill ... in my last six trips to Fenway, I've parked for free five times.

   I'm half convinced some distraught, finals-taking BU student stole the ticket and threw it on the highway, but you'd have to be a pretty big asshole to start doing that to people.


   • Onterrio Smith, I have to thank you. You have given all of us, the American people, a gift by being caught with this because you like to smoke pot more than making millions in the NFL.

Meet The Original Whizzinator
-- Accept no substitutes, use only The Original Whizzinator.

   Don't just use it though. See the product in use. Have your questions answered. Most importantly, learn what others have to say about such a fine product. If you can do only one thing, do that.

Wow! You guys are pathetic. So many testimonials to use drugs (and by far the most spelling and grammatical errors I have ever seen; seems like the drugs affect your ability to write English as well). If you morons spent half your energy trying to stay clean from mind-numbing substances that you do trying to pass a piss test, you'd all be fucking geniuses with your own island somewhere growing weed and staying the hell away from me. One testimonial was right on. I'm a probation officer and I don't give a flying fuck if you smoke your shriveled brains into oblivion. My concern is all the other people you carelessly hurt in the process of your self-centered pursuit of feeding your need to be numb. Please take your fake dicks and go fuck yourselves and stop taking everyone else down with you into your sewer. Believe me, I'd like nothing more than to leave you stupid fucks alone but it seems when I or my neighbor is affected by your inability to care about anyone but yourselves,!

I feel compelled to protect myself. Talk about freedom; I would like to be free of a society of shitheads who make drug use more important than taking care of themselves or their families. So many of you said "Now I can keep my job." What?!? If you weren't so toxic you'd figure out that it's fairly easy to get and keep a job. JUST STOP FUCKIN' IT UP DUMMY!

Not a chance, WA

   And if that's a testimonial from someone who finds using powdered urine, fake penises and heating packs to pass a drug test offensive, imagine what the people who love the product are saying!


May 10, 2005 - Dr. Phil, Where Are You?
   Red Sox 3, Athletics 2: I don't really want to say I called it, but I think the fact that around the sixth inning, I realized that there was a good chance Kevin Millar would win the game by hitting a home run means I sort of have to. My mind works in storylines ... that's all I can tell you.

   I'd also like to congratulate the Red Sox for, and this makes three years in a row, picking a concert act I will make exactly zero effort to see. It's nice to keep one of my streaks alive, since though Wednesday I will run my presence to a season-high five straight, today ended my four-trip tear of having somehow found free parking in the cities of Boston or Brookline.

All Hands On Deck
-- The contributions, they're coming from everywhere. Even from the first baseman who had no home runs two days prior ... how'd George Peppard always put it? I love it when a plan comes together?


Damon Leading Sox Offense
-- You might have seen this one before. Though in this link, all the text isn't both centered and red.

   There's also mail, which I checked in a tour-de-force performance of stopping in the office on the way home. You know, like I'm some hot sugar-honey-iced-tea or something.

Subject: Sox article
Date: Mon, 09 May 2005
From: <____@aol.com>
To: jcouture at s-t dot com

   Hi Jon,

   Just wondering how it is that both your Red Sox article and that of Chris Snow's of the Globe open with the same reference to the "lyric bandbox" and comparison to the old Yankee stadium. Do you guys sit together in the press box and the topic came up during conversation? Anyway, just curious. Keep up the great work.

-- Sure enough, we did 'copy' off each other. As I said in my reply, I wish I sat with Snow ... I could probably then see home plate and the pitcher's mound at the same time.

Subject: (no subject)
Date: Tue, 10 May 2005
From: <____@aol.com>
To: jcouture at s-t dot com

   Happy Birthday, Jon. At least we have two teams in Massachusetts who know how to win a championship.

   Steve

-- And I almost took that part out in my personal final edit. Never again will I fear pandering, because it works!

   Working onesself to illness just shouldn't be this much fun.


   • Both because of business and because I tend to ignore bullshit, this whole "Runaway Bride" thing has largely escaped me. From what I can gather, some woman went crazy before her wedding, got cold feet and ran away. Why this is national news probably has something to do with my friends at "Inside Edition" and the return of "A Current Affair," but like I said, I can't pin it down with any accuracy.

   I do say largely escaped me, however, because clearly I now have some grasp on it.

   Nothing helps make you feel reconnected to the news like e-mails containing psychic predictions of kidnappers and gratuitous pot shots at the South. Gratuitous pot shots that include classics like "brain-damaged Nazis," "ugly bug-eyed woman," reverends ensuring "they'll giver what John couldn't" and blaming Hollywood for the whole thing.

   You can't go wrong with "From the desk of Lynne" dove stationery, I always say. It's almost as awesome as the "A Note From Mr. Jonathan Couture" notepads with puppies and kitties on them I got when I joined the MSPCA


May 9, 2005 - Officially In
   More On The Umpire Book: While I'll save the "____ ____ loves to do needlepoint in the offseason" for a slower day, I did learn that in 1956, umpires Ed Rommel and Frank Umont broke a long-standing taboo by becoming the first umpires to wear eyeglasses on the field.

   Also, this is their official union, and they get "New Balance base shoes fitted with orthotics from Dr. Glenn Copeland" from Major League Baseball. Sadly, there's no way I can justify working that into a column.

Our Thoughts Again Turn To 'Toine
-- Written from Fenway Park, no less.

   I also wrote a Red Sox column on Johnny Damon and his hitting streak -- one that's nothing like this one -- but for whatever reason, that isn't appearing on the Web site. Suffice to say, I will have to remedy this at some point Tuesday afternoon.

   I always have to remedy this.


   • Well, since today's a pretty slow day, here's the Damon article in question. Be gentle, however ... this is the raw, unedited copy. Not that it has even been hugely different from what gets in the paper, but who knows how many swears are in it.

BOSTON -- The offense by which all others are measured is struggling, though itís an odd thing to say after their most potent offensive output since last Sept. 10. Much has been made of the corner infielders needing 32 games to produce a home run, but it goes further than that. The team that led the majors in scoring by far each of the last two seasons today leads the AL only in walks and doubles, sitting middle of the pack in both average and home runs.

Itís hard to complain too loudly when Oaklandís five spot last night was the first theyíd scored since Friday evening, but itís worth asking -- where has all the hitting gone?

Apparently, its just sunk to the middle, and risen to the top.

"I'm happy how things are going," said Johnny Damon and his team-dominating .373 average. "We have a lot of confidence here."

It didnít take Johnny Damon long to extend his hitting streak to 15 games last night, singling in the first to make his run the longest in the AL this season -- Cliff Floyd's 20-game tear for the Mets leads four NL hitters with 16-plus game streaks. Damon has, however, done far more than string a few games together. His 50 hits lead the majors, and his 16 multi-hit games leave him tied with Ichiro for an ML-best. With the second best average in the AL, Damonís only a surprise lagger in walks. Despite being second only to Trot Nixon among the regulars with a .404 on-base percentage, it comes via only eight free passes.

In short, he hasn't needed them, and last year was neither an anomaly nor subject to the lull that came after his career year. Traded from Kansas City to Oakland following his 214-hit, .327/.382/.495 season in 2000, Damon couldn't duplicate his success in a stronger lineup, with his average hitting a career-low .256.

After garnering some MVP consideration a year ago -- only two AL batters were on base more in 2004 -- should Damon continue at this pace, he might warrant a lineup shift. Since going 0-for-4 on Opening Night in New York, Damon has had a hit in 27 of 29 games.

"Heís done this before. He has the ability to get real hot and to stay hot. He did this last year for a while, just in a different part of the year," Terry Francona said. "He fights off tough pitches. He see a lot of pitches because of his ability to foul pitches off and to stay alive, and then the more pitches he sees, the pitcher finally makes a mistake and he whacks it. I think the more pitches he sees, the more dangerous he becomes."

Damonís 16-game streak last year was a season high, while his 18-game streak three years ago remains a career best. He rarely slumps, having gone hitless in three straight games only three times since 2003, because of his versatility. A spray hitter with a vengeance, last night was the classic Damon evening at the plate -- the first-inning single, a right-side groundout in the third, walk in the fourth, pop-out to the catcher in the sixth and bounding single to right in the seventh. Whereas an Edgar Renteria hit all of his home runs to the left side a year ago, Damonís five doubles so far this season have been three off the Monster, two by Pesky's Pole.

"How do you defense him? Balls are flying everywhere," Francona said. "One time itís over the third-base bag, the next time heís rapping a double down the right-field line. If he hits it soft or short, theyíve got to get it in the air in a hurry or heís going to beat it out. Heís got a lot of ways to get hits."

Combined with his speed once on base -- Damonís four steals equal the rest of the teamís total output -- and his comfort in friendly Fenwayís centerfield confines, itís no surprise heís already spoken of a contract extension. An MLB.com report this spring had Damon saying "it's up to them" regarding his future with the Sox, with the latest reports saying both he's after a five-year deal with a no-trade clause, and that the member of superagent Scott Boras's flock would consider retirement if one of five chosen teams doesn't make an offer he's happy with.

With a ring on his finger at 32, it could be theorized the man now getting among the loudest ovations at Fenway is content to bask in his empire, chasing cars and swimming with alligators into celebrity. For now, however, the cheers will keep coming between the lines, as Bostonís largely unsung catalyst sounds off loud than ever.

"We're swinging the bats a little better [as a team]. That's going to be the key," Damon said. "I think we're going to pitch well all year, but if we can score runs, we're going to be awesome."

Jon Couture covers the Red Sox for The Standard-Times. His weekly look "Inside Baseball" runs Sundays, and he can be reached at jcouture@s-t.com

   Insert witty remainder here, I guess.

Toast Bride

Perry Lonzello, 48, holds a piece of toast with a drawing of runaway Georgia bride Jennifer Wilbanks on it that he posted on EBay on a whim Thursday in Newton, N.J. When the auction ended Sunday, Lonzello said a California man had submitted the winning bid of $15,400. (AP Photo/The Daily Record, John Bell)

   There really is no hope for the nation, is there?


May 8, 2005 - Hacking Mass ... In My Lungs
   Talk About ... Pop Music: Now, because Sunday night radio is often a barren wasteland -- hey, local bands are often local bands because they're not good enough to be more than local bands -- I ended up listening to a little corporate churn as I sought Taco Bell this evening. What I came across was part of that station's weekly countdown, which is hosted by this man, Billy Costa.

   In listening to him promo some of the songs in the countdown, I got to thinking. Now, if he was just out of college in 1980, we can generally extrapolate how old the man is.

   With that in mind, if he comes across a one-on-one MTV interview with Usher, does he actually watch it? Actually stop his television and sit down, with a notepad, or is he scheduling his days around these things? Does he have an intern in the demographic who watches these for him?

   Is he actually very regretful that he wasn't able to use his ticket to the Alicia Keys show at Agganis Arena? Did he really have friends who went? Or is it all just a sham.

   I'm not sure what I want the answer to be, but I am sure of one thing.

When not at KISS, Bill enjoys traveling, playing tennis,
running, and spending time with his family.

-- If there are children in this family, I'm
dying to know what they make of all of this.

   A True Double Header: You forget that there's also a large Japanese press contingent that follow the Mariners around because of Ichiro and, presumably, Shigetoshi Hasegawa. Which nowhere near as unworkably large as the Yankee group, I am constantly marveled at how small almost all of their laptops are.

   That's not a slam ... when I got mine, I though I'd ordered incorrectly until I realized that's how big most American laptops are. Unless of course you use a Mac, in which case, I don't care that you're better than me and your laptop is easier to use than mine.

   I get three hours plus on a battery charge ... not that I don't have to force myself often to use the laptop not plugged in, but that's not the point.

New Beginnings On An Ugly Day
-- It's Inside Baseball, it's a column from Fenway Park, it's the result of what happens when I spend most of the game coughing and being glad I'm not outside. If I'd had tickets to Game 2, let's just say I wouldn't have seen the end.

   • Among the things I picked up at the park tonight was an umpire media guide. It features bios, some rules explanations and other exciting items.

   Because, you know, you can't tell the umpires without a program.


May 7, 2005 - The Run For The Beads
   The Real Kentucky Derby: I would like to believe that somewhere, some paper went looking on the Wire for a shot of fans at the Kentucky Derby. I'd like to believe they skipped over the man in the spire hat with the excellent button and resisted the urge to go with a steaming Steinbrenner instead.

   I'd like to think they grabbed this:

News Flash

A woman lifts her shirt for Mardi Gras beads on the infield at Churchill Downs during Kentucky Derby day festivities on Saturday in Louisville, Ky. The 131st Kentucky Derby is the 10th race of the day. (AP Photo/ Joe Imel)

   ... only to fully realize what it was a pipcture of when the papers were printed and in hand.

   Personally, my favorite is the friend in black, who presumably made out with her exhibitionist pal at some point in the day to get beads of her own. A close second, however, is the shirtless man with the disposable camera.

   A coworker noted, in a way far less poetic than this, one such a day of genuine sporting, he was sporting as well.

   Pacers 97, Celtics 70: Missed it by that much.

   The amount of irrational columns about this should make for an excellent start to next week. In my head, there's at least one kicking around, but my utter lack of NBA knowledge should at least slow its arrival on paper, and perhaps stop it entirely.

   But if I don't mention "Green 17" with some sarcastic smarm, who will?


   • Things actually worked out well, since it was because of Friday that Saturday didn't really start until 3:15 p.m.

   Roughly 12 hours after I went to bed.

   Roughly because of imbibing 12 of Jim Cook's finest creations, plus whatever fruity bull was in that shot.

   Now, let there be no concern about any apparent career sabotage, since Friday night was a story that could have been perfect for the Globe's stiff-ass-a-board "What Not To Do At Work" column reagrding holiday parties. While I probably do play things looser than I should, I do work at a place where I was once told, "Of course he swears. He works in a newsroom."

   The Texas Roadhouse is the kind of place that, if it weren't a chain and were in Western Mass., would have become both a place of legend and singlehandedly responsible for setting the region's image back about 15 years. Buckets of peanut shells you can throw on the floor, birthdays/anniversaries celebrated with a hearty shout of "Whoooo!" or "Yeeee-ha!," rumors of line dancing wait staff that certainly don't feel false ... and a menu that could be best described as steak, things incidentally involving steak and perhaps a token salad. For whatever reason, I decided it would be a drinking night, and that was before the drinkingest photographer in all the land came and sat with us.

   I also spent a good portion of the time there between the Nos. 1 and 2 in the newsroom -- our new editor-in-chief and the aforementioned managing editor. I'll leave it up to you to guess which one told the waitress that he and I had just gotten married, but don't think too hard ... just go with your gut.

   At some point, half of the roughly 20 of us there moved on to the bar of choice downtown, where some pool was played and that fruity shot showed up. At a more defined point -- approaching the 2 a.m. kick-out time -- more than half of the half decided "drunken breakfast" would need to be eaten.

   That's how a group including the aforementioned managing editor, the night editor, my former boss, several colleagues and myself ended up at a place I always thought was closed, and how I almost did a faceplant in a plate of strawberry waffles because I nearly fell asleep at the table.

   All I'm saying is that when I order the waffles along with the "one egg and sausage" plate, I'm assuming I'm getting an egg and a piece of sausage, not a whole freakin' breakfast platter. I'm not sure I could have eaten all that food had I not taken down nearly a whole rack of ribs earlier. And it's a shame, because they looked very promising for fruit-covered waffles at a place with a rarely-sober clientele.

   Nick, by the way, posted in yesterday's comments the best part of the whole meal -- one of our stringers impassionately arguing the merits of SouthCoast to anyone who'd listen. If Charlie was to become the mayor of Agawam one day, Mike is destined to be mayor of Fairhaven in the sense that it's a Board of Selectmen-run community.

   And that's my story, and why whenever anyone wonders why I'm so content here in the armpit of the state, I don't even bother to explain myself. I do apologize to my mother, who I now won't see on Mother's Day thanks to your Boston Red Sox, and who will inevitably be so proud of her son after reading this at her desk on Monday.

   There was a time in my youth when going to Fenway Park for four days in a row would have been a dream. Now, I'm just hoping I have enough nice clothes that I don't have to double-wear pants.


May 6, 2005 - Waffle Overkill
   • There was a party.

   It will need to be revisited.


May 5, 2005 - Five-O and Mayo
   Beverly Hills: That's where I want to be.

   Living in Beverly Hills.


   • British elections aside, today will be remembered as the day my 2005 golf season officially began. Because the old home course looked to have some sort of women's league on it, I went to the range to see where everything stood after a winter of inactivity.

   This proved to be a very good thing, as the swinging and the hitting and the general golfing prowess was a very bad thing.

   For now, we'll pin it on my needing new golf grips and the gym being somewhere I should revisit post-haste. You'd think all the time spent with bodybuilders would have a motivational effect, but instead, it's the same motivation as always.

   The sudden realization I'm a pasty sloth, and about six months of pre-game buffets from officially looking like one.

   Stupid KFC and their Twister wraps. If only they didn't have lettuce and tomato in them.

   As for those British elections, between the legitimate third party and the slew of smaller ones that seem to be in the mix, I could have fun for days. In fact, I just might.


May 4, 2005 - Network Support
   Scintillating Tire News Update: The tire, as best can be discerned, was not slashed. It continues to hold air, which means the hooligans of Whale City or surrounding communities merely opened up the valve and let all the air out.

   This might change my new stance on parking where I leave my car in the garage at work and walk to 90 seconds to and from every day, or it may not. Stay tuned for this and other unnecessary questions, like "How long and how fast could I really drive on the highway on the Saturn's joke of a spare tire?"

   A Hollywood Loss: After having alerted everyone else of its departure last week, I finally got around to watching the final episode of "JAG" tonight ... I'd TiVo'd it, and have been saving it until some indeterminate time.

   Why? Because after 10 years and two networks, every good show that goes off the air means one more hour of crap seeps into popular culture. For example, because I was home, I got to see an "American Idol" results show featuring the survival of "the rocker," Bo Bice.

   That's what my mother called him, and he certainly is trying to look the part with his big, goofy sunglasses and long air. Me, I think he's been invalidated to be a rocker because, well ... he's on f'ing "American Idol."

   Enjoyed the vaunted expose much more, even if it didn't feature Ryan Seacrest in a white suit.


   • My reason for coming home tonight was not a good one -- the wake of a friend's father. While it did lead me to see a few people who I get to see far too rarely, obviously we all could agree that the circumstances could not have been a whole lot worse.

   My father came with me, since he had met the man a few back when we were all in the same exchange group. It's that that got me thinking, in the realm of things I could handle.

   I think part of what makes me good at my job is sort of the same thing that makes a good poker player -- if you play like you're holding the last few chips you're desperately trying not to lose, you'll lose them. You can't play poker scared or in awe, and you can't do what I do that way either. You just have to throw caution out there and play with not reckless abandon, but with some detatched sense of reality.

   As great as it is to do what I do for a living -- and I mean that in the general sense, moreso than the "I cover the Red Sox" sense -- if I lost it all tomorrow, I'd be more worried about how I'd survive day to day than how I lost something so amazing. To me, it's never about your job.

   It's about your life, and the people in it.

   If a person ever reaches the point where their job defines who they are, I really think that's not something to be proud of. I love what I do, but I love the people in my life that much more. Clearly I'm pontificating and not really getting anywhere because I don't really want to write certain things here, but the point is I'm a terrible person about keeping in touch with people, and even finding the time to see people when I'm in their city.

   That has never meant I haven't wanted to, or that I think what I'm doing is more important.

   I guess I just want people to know that. I'm here for anyone that needs me, just because you dorks really are what matter most.

   If Sly's not here today -- not that that's ever happened -- someone please be sure he includes that in the count. I'd hate for it to get inaccurate.


May 3, 2005 - I Didn't Write Today
   To Slash Or Not To Slash: When you go outside and see, as your neighbor told you, that you back right tire is entirely flat two days after the landlord gave you a note to watch out fro some serial tire slashers in the parking lot, it's right to assume that's what happened.

   Though I now reinflated the tire and have it sitting in my trunk, holding air with no overly discernable slash in it.

   More on this incredibly exciting story as it develops.

   Pacers 90, Celtics 85: I am legitimately excited about the very-real possibility the Pacers win this series in six games, meaning I would finally have made a correct prediction on television -- the appearance in question will end up here a little faster than anticipated due to an ensuing unexpected trip home, but there will still be no land speed record broken.

   I just simply saw Boston as a team too inconsistent and too unable to do the little things to get past an Indiana team better than a No. 6 seed. Admittedly once you decide who's going to win the series, there's a 25 percent chance you're getting the game count right, but it bears mentioning.

   I am moments away from potentially having helped a degenerate win money. If only I had me in college, maybe I wouldn't be living where the rent is low and the tire slashings may be common.


   • So here I was all ready to call the certain nightly 'news' show and help them do a story on the bride-to-be hit by the baseball, when it occurred to me having the phone number would be an integral part to the process.

   Somehow, I lost it, the other editor I'd given it to lost it and the Internet isn't exactly yielding a tremendous response.

   In a way, it's probably better like this. I consistenly get on my parents' case about watching such an awful, awful show, and maybe in some small way, I'm helping knock it off the air. Instead of doing this heartwaming story of stitch-laden assault, they'll do another story on some fat person who lost weight with a vacuum cleaner or speak to the sister's cousin of the next flavor-of-the-week news story.

   Something that will trigger America's realization that we don't care if Deborah Norville works everyday jobs or that Michael Jackson is on trial. They will turn their TVs off, and thus also miss Entertainment Tonight, The Insider, A Current Affair and whatever passes for Hard Copy nowadays.

   I will be the proverbial butterfly in Africa, flapping his wings and causing a Level 5 hurricane to destroy Walt Disney World.

   That and causing wind gusts that blow phone numbers off cubicle counters.


May 2, 2005 - Yeah, O.K., Etc.
   They Shouldn't Be This Easy: Maybe it's that I've been writing things six times longer as of late, but this column was put together fast enough to make me feel like I'm going to get savaged.

Serious Steroids Policy Still Awaits
-- This reminds me ... it's NEAPNEA time again. Anyone who has any major suggestions on what I should enter, feel free to send them my way. I've done a few good features this year, even if the columns have been a little weak.

   Stories About Local Women: Now, I'm not sure what the confidentiality is on something like this, so I'll allow hyperlinks to speak for me. Remember that story I did not too long ago on the bride-to-be hit by the baseball? Well, there was a message on my office phone tonight from producers at a certain nightly 'news' show that my parents watch and that used to be hosted by one Bill O'Reilly.

   They want to do a story on the woman, which reinforces the feeling my ex-boss Jon had that he'd heard someone had picked up the story nationally. Said he'd heard about it somewhere, but it wasn't in our paper.

   It also reinforces my feeling that ... well, let's just leave it at that I have no real news judgment. Given my reaction was "Wow, her face really doesn't look that swollen," clearly I should continue to just be the soldier, not the general.

   This also isn't the first time this happened ... when I was at BU and did a story on an Arab collegian who got assaulted outside a bar, a reporter from Spin called to get "the 411" ... hey, it's Spin. Course, given how the Free Press works, I didn't get the message until like three days after he called.

   I'm not sure what this all means, but I am sure anyone who thinks the first new Family Guy was forcing it a little bit clearly is not right in the head. You can in fact say, "Didn't miss a beat."


   • I remain completely flummoxed by this story on Paris Hilton, if only because I can't really figure out whether she's worthy of ridicule or applause.

   Now, back when we were talking about the Certain Hollywood Starlet or the Girl Who Shant Be Named or Cooch's Favorite Underage Prize or whatever the hell I was calling her before she imploded, she always got credit for doing the sorts of things that would make her not so much interesting, but news. Clearly, Hilton does it even better.

   Yet at the same time, I can't shake the fact she really could be a complete idiot.

Ms. Hilton also publicly parted ways with Nicole Richie, daughter of the singer Lionel and her co-star on the hit Fox series "The Simple Life." If Ms. Hilton has her way, Kimberly Stewart, the comely scion of Rod Stewart, will play her second banana on her show. Ms. Hilton said that she was sexing-up the fourth installment of that fish-out-of-water series, which she produces. Next season's "Simple Life," as per her request, will be shot in Hawaii. Expect loads of bikinis, Ms. Hilton said. "I'm tired of the cold and dowdy clothes."

   Good idea. Intelligent, well thought out and bound to help what's probably a flagging series -- if you think I've watched more that roughly three minutes of it in the three seasons it has been on, clearly you're new here.

Last year she began her perfume line, Paris Hilton, which is marketed through Parlux Fragrances. She is working with Parlux again for her makeup line, as well as for a men's fragrance, which will appear in stores next month. Ms. Hilton said - ahem, purred - that her cologne is "so hot that when guys wear it it makes girls want them."

   Then this, which in light of everything else would cause me to start laughing were I interviewing her. Seriously ... the thought of writing this in a notebook would be about three times harder than any cliche-ridden press conference ever delivered. Even now, I know I'd probably scan the page I wrote it on and post it here for posterity.

After dinner, Ms. Hilton headed next door to the designer Patricia Field's boutique. She picked up several dresses and contemplated buying a $1,000 pair of pumps, but then the businesswoman in her took over. "You all should give these to me for free," Ms. Hilton told the three salespeople who swirled about her like ladies in waiting, "because once I wear them, you know that they are going to be in all the magazines and everyone is going to write about them." She was given the shoes.

   Brilliant.

Her jewelry line, like the other products Ms. Hilton peddles, is not high-end, more befitting Cosmo Girl than Vogue. A handbag line, a clothing line, an album (think Blondie meets Gwen Stefani, Ms. Hilton said), an energy drink and a chain of boutique hotels are also on the horizon. When asked what Hotel Paris will look like, Ms. Hilton's voice rose several octaves. "It will be pink and hot," she said, sounding very much like a shy first-grader.

   Refridgerator worthy.

   Really, all I can discern from the story is that, of all the people in the world who are forgotten to be brilliant, there may be none more than Dave Chappelle whipping boy, Lil Jon.

Ms. Hilton is recording an album, and plans to collaborate with the producer Lil Jon, who produced Usher's hit song "Yeah!" "When I was saying I was going to work with Paris, people were like, 'You've got to be kidding, she can't sing,'" he said. "But it didn't really matter to me because she is sexy. And if you can capture that on a record, she could easily sell a million quick."

   That, friends, is business genius. To say nothing of his East Side Boyz coming up with an idea that I'll be pioneering this summer if there's another absurd bash out West ... buying a gas can, and just drinking from it like a Thermos.

   And people wonder why I watch Cribs.


May 1, 2005 - It's The Competitive Fitness Industry
   A New Place To Be: Somehow, I think the people here would also rightly be on my case about fact-checking.

   Given it actually is a board used by media members -- I figured it might have been a joke at first -- it was interesting to read the commentary around our opening, and what people in the business think of when they think of us ... a paper full of people who aren't the sort that would post on the SportsJournalism.com message board.

Well, the town sucks, but at least you're close to Cape Cod for the two summer months, and not far from Boston and Providence for boozing. I don't know much about the paper, but I used to string for two of its competitors. You get some good prep sports around there. If you like Portuguese girls and whaling museums, this may be the place for you.

* * *

I agree the area is the armpit of the state. But the paper isn't bad to work for. It's a good stepping stone if you're looking to make the jump from reporter to editor.

* * *

They do a decent job with high schools, and usually have at least one staff column a day, which is pretty good for a paper their size. Their Monday morning sports section is also a pull-out magazine type, but broadsheet the other six days.

Of course, they also do a lot of curious things. A few weeks ago, the cover for their baseball preview (I believe) was exclusively touting one of their staffers' fantasy baseball preview and rankings ...


   While I wasn't aware we had two competitors and there's exactly one place we barely cover that could be considered preps, we do center an entire Monday issue around Steve's extensive fantasy previews.

   The irony that Steve is currently in last place of our free fantasy baseball league -- there is another league of staff people I'm not in -- should be lost on no one.

   As For The Writing: While I can't be sure that 226 column inches is a paper record for one story, blame my superiors for playing this story to the hilt before you go off on me about sharing the intricacies of spreading oil on one's body. It's my curse that I get a little wordy -- and it is only a little wordy -- but trust me when I say there actually was stuff left on the cutting room floor.

Part One: Fiercely Determined
-- Meet the Resendes, and see why bread delivery will never be the same.


Part Two: The Payoff
-- So, do they win the competition, and what comes next?

   As with everything, do not take my tongue-in-cheek whining here for something it isn't ... this was an incredible story to get to do, both from the perspective of people letting us into their lives and my superiors essentially building the whole newspaper around me for two days despite not seeing the text of my stories ahead of time.

   It's an absurd amount of trust on a lot of levels, and I can only hope everyone wakes up Monday morning and feels like I still deserve it. Word has gotten back to me that the couple really liked the first part, so hopefully I'll hear from them in person in the coming days.

   I may also try to get scans of the paper covers from Saturday-Monday, because though the story didn't run in the news section, it was the main art package on Sunday and secondary art the other two days. When I say keys to the castle, it's no joke.

   And just as a matter of public record, on Sunday, I was in the office from midnight to 5 a.m. and 3 p.m. to midnight ... on what was supposed to be a day off. Burnout, here I come.


   • I've done a fair amount of ranting on here in recent days about prime-time TV, and how bad it's become if a show like the U.S. version of 'The Office' is lauded as anything more than slightly better than average fare.

   Many others have done the same, with the qualifier that things will get better when 'Family Guy' comes back.

   Well, it's now back.

   And the qualifier worked, something that was evident exactly one minute into tonight's episode ...

   ... which I'm not talking about until tomorrow, because he promised his girlfriend they'd watch a tape of it together Monday night and I'm not going to ruin it for one of my seven-odd readers.

   And because it got asked the other day, the Google search that led people here the most in April?

Nina!
-- My old friend Nina Sysko and the Starburst prom dress from 5/26/04.

   Odd that I can't Google it and end up here, but just fine all the same. Good to know my plans to commemorate the anniversary of it in a couple weeks won't be a total waste of time.

   This site will be four years old later this month, and I still have no way to cite specific daily entries. Now that's a lack of effort worth being proud of.


2005: [04] - [03] - [02] - [01]
2004: [12] - [11] - [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05] - [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]