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May 31, 2007 - Card Sharks
   Photographic Evidence: This is not my favorite highway sign.

Wyoming, R.I.
-- This is the not-quite-as-cool sign on the other
side of the highway from my favorite highway sign.

   Two state cops were pulling two cars over in front of my favorite highway sign this morning. Taking cell phone pictures while going 70 mph near state police officers is generally not a good idea.

-- This could be a good idea or bad idea.
It doesn't matter, because it's a Delorean.

   I have no idea who brought a Delorean to Clasky Common Park up the road, nor do I know whether they did it with the intention the whole neighborhood would pour out from across the street to take pictures with it.

   I was just there to play basketball after going to Foxwoods again, and winning money there for the third time in a row.

   And as a bonus, I actually left when I should have.

Winners List -- Last Friday
-- From last Friday. I know none of these people.

   • A very brief Google search of the names on the list informs me Burton B. Bramble and Stu Friedman sort of know what they're doing -- I'm pretty sure the latter is the guy who knocked me out. Herbert Yolin is apparently Dr. Herbert Yolin, BU ties and all. I'd like to believe the John Mayhew I played poker with was in Genesis, but probably not.

   And little did I know that if you throw "Jonathan Couture" into Google, you get not a link to this site first, but to my Amazon.com profile and wish list, freshly last updated on 12/28/2006. Some after Christmas gift requests, apparently.

   I'm pretty sure there's a book on Buddy Cianci on that list, if I remember right. That's tying it together.

May 30, 2007 - Punk. Like Annette Funicello.
This Is Not My Office: My office isn't really an office, it's a cubicle that usually has a pile of soda cans thrown in the corner -- I just returned them last week, so it's empty at the moment.

Forced Commute
-- This is, however, where I commute some of the time.

   It was just such a perfect night for baseball. No wind, temperatures in the 70s, the two best teams in the American League. Though most of the series didn't make it appear these were the best two teams in the American League, given there were no real high-wire acts.

   I wasn't there to write, I was there because of a pre-game press conference dealing with next Thursday's draft and because I wanted some Yankee fodder for the series preview story I'll probably write on Thursday. Given how dreadful the game got at the end -- not so much the result, but the fact that it dragged on for a Titanic-like hour too long -- I better actually use that stuff now.

   He's Back: Perhaps the best part of watching ex-Providence mayor Buddy Cianci arrive at his halfway-house digs in Boston on Channel 10 -- the Providence NBC affiliate and partner of the Whale City Fishwrap -- was that the mic setup on their reporter actually made it easier to hear, on Channel 10, the reporter from Fox affiliate Channel 12, who was standing nearby giving the exact same report. That was fun.

   Not to mention that I'm enjoying the woman who wrote the Herald article, Jessica Van Sack, was my first boss when I finally started writing news for the Daily Free Press at BU.

Newly sprung from the joint and days away from a cushy new marketing job, corrupt former Providence Mayor Vincent 'Buddy' Cianci Jr. arrived yesterday at a Boston halfway house and, according to one inmate, was already shaking hands and schmoozing with the other residents.

"Everybody's talking to him," said one of the 121 convicts serving out a sentence at the inconspicuous Coolidge House on Huntington Avenue. "A lot of guys are kissing his ass. He's very sociable. He was already watching TV with everyone."

   I have no doubt that if I ever handed her a story that began "newly sprung from the joint," she would have either told me that I needed to change it or she'd have changed it and presumed I'd figure it out later.

   And to think I actually like the Boston Herald much more now.

   • Flipping radio channels tonight, I came across a new steaming hunk of saccharine called "Girlfriend." I couldn't place the singer, but I knew it was someone I'd heard before.

She's like so whatever
You could do so much better
I think we should get together now
And that's what everyone's talking about!

Hey! Hey! You! You!
I don't like your girlfriend!
No way! No way!
I think you need a new one
Hey! Hey! You! You!
I could be your girlfriend

Hey! Hey! You! You!
I know that you like me
No way! No way!
No it's not a secret
Hey! Hey! You! You!
I want to be your girlfriend

-- There's a video here to experience the experience.

   Come to discover, it's the newest work of punk visionary Avril Lavigne.

Avril Lavinge, Hardcore MoFo
-- Hardcore.

   Now, is this some sort of self-aware form of irony, like Alanis Morrisette's rendition of "My Humps," or has Avril Lavigne just totally decided to give up and admit all along she's been a complete poseur?

Avril Fan Club Logo
-- Avril Lavigne Fan Club logo

   Oh, neither? Even better.

   Perhaps the worst part of all this is the song falls into my "Awesomely Bad" category. Yet unlike the times when things are so bad they're awesome, i.e. the recently mentioned Britney & Kevin: Chaotic, 'Girlfriend' only ends up there because I'm not comfortable with shouting from the mountaintop that I find it both catchy and worth stealing off the Internet.

   I am not proud.

May 29, 2007 - Yes, Honey. No, Honey.
I Know I Can't Wait: Apparently tonight at Fenway Park, they taped the first episode of Sox Appeal, which promises to "Britney and Kevin: Chaotic" look like Masterpiece F'ing Theater.

   Watching from the office, they had cameras trained on a couple on the right-field roof, the female half of which did not take her eyes off her male partner for the entire span they were shown on the game broadcast ... probably about a minute and a half.

   Normal people don't do that. That I could see, in my mind's eye, her overdone self drawling into the camera about all this man's flaws, while attempting to intersperse the conversation with her vacuous Red Sox knowledge, began the bubbling of real rage.

   I can't remember any other time where I've been angry at the mere ingredients of a TV show. At least a show that I'm forced to deal with on a regular basis ... I'd imagine most of the MTV lineup would create the same effect, but I'm smart enough to dodge that.

Tiara Girls
-- This could be anything. I'd rather not know.
Especially since apparently Ashlee Simpson had her own show

   Were I forced to watch every episode of Sox Appeal, there's a pretty good chance I'd be able to stand a number of contestants I could count on one hand. No more.

   It reminds me of Monday, when I was listening to sports radio really the only time I do -- when I was in the car. A guy from Whale City called in, and as it usually happens when a New Bedfordite calls, I wonder if the person reads my articles. I wonder if they like my articles. (I've never actually heard one of my articles referenced, and I'm reasonably sure I haven't missed one.)

   This guy was dumb as rocks. I have no doubt he hates me, and thinks I'm a pretentious jackass who has no idea what he's talking about.

   I'm not debating that he's wrong, mind you. I just enjoy the pseudo-interaction.

   • This afternoon, the editor in chief came up to me and told me he thought the Red Sox would win 110 games this season. He was at least 50 percent serious.

   I tried to talk him down a little bit, but then heard myself say, "If they don't have any major injuries, I'd be shocked if they didn't win 105."

   And it was funny. It was me literally hearing myself say the words, far more so than me feeling myself say them. I don't even know if I believe it, or that it matters, since there's going to be some sort of major injury or general calamity at some point. There has to be.

   I just have to keep reminding myself that, even at 36-15, they're still not at the level they were in 2002 when they opened 40-17.

   Major Difference: The 2002 team, at 40-17, had a 3.5-game lead on the second-place Yankees. The 2007 team, at 36-15, would have a minimum six-game lead no matter what division they were in. Just so happens they're in the one where it's an 11.5-game lead.

   Fortunately, Michael Vick is here to remind us there's still plenty of losers out there.

   I'm not going to quote the article, because you know the story. I don't even want to get into it, because honestly, I'd say something I regret. I have no doubt in my mind.

   I hope his legs snap like f'ing tinder. I don't regret that.

May 28, 2007 - 33 Going On 50
   • A cautionary tale.

   When one of your coworkers is calling you from the Red Sox game he's at, it's critical you remember he's actually at the game. Because when you don't pick up the phone because you're busy, and you figure he's just telling you what date he needs a press pass for later this week, he's watching you.

   Then when you listen to his voice mail a couple hours later, and he's describing the way you stood up to take your phone out of your pocket, it's a little embarrassing.

   Not this kind of embarrassing, but at least somewhat similar.

Nixon Well Received in Boston Return
-- I resisted the urge to talk to fans. Ultimately, it would have ended up poorly for everyone involved.

Youk Steals Trot's Thunder
-- Hassle-free notebook.

   All I'm saying is when you're a large girl wearing a black T-shirt with "Still Hot For Trot" somehow pasted on it, you really don't want me coming over to you asking, "Why do you want Trot Nixon on your team instead of J.D. Drew? Because you're high? Or because you're an idiot?"

May 27, 2007 - A Baby New Bedford
   • Words are one thing, but video is another.

   Young Matty Cooch now has one game as the Western Mass. Lady Pioneers stadium announcer under his belt. Additionally, I now have one Western Mass. Lady Pioneers game under my belt, and I must the entire experience left me pleasantly surprised.

   Not only was the quality of soccer high considering these standings make the W-League of the United Soccer League seem a little too close to the frightening hump pile of the ABA, but Ludlow really shone as a cleaned-up, shrunk-down Whale City. I had always known it had a very strong Portuguese influence, but with the stadium part of a complex owned by the local Portuguese social club, we walked into a regular old baby Feast of the Blessed Sacrament.

Festa Jr.
-- I'm reasonably sure both that specific bounce house
and dunk tank have been in my yard.

   "Bifana," by the way, tastes much better than the description "a pork tenderloin with rhubarb chutney, deliciously flavored with a variety of spices" makes it sound. And it sounds pretty good.

   Matt's job was to do all the pregame music, make all the pregame and in-game announcements, emcee the halftime festivities and generally convince people that the team's fox mascot was not actually a large muskrat disguised as a fox. (I'll admit it ... I don't know the significance of the mascot having 'Fenimore' listed as his last name. Least I think it's a him.)

Matt and the Fox

   I'm of the opinion "whore" would be a bleep-worthy word, especially if "God" is. Matt disagreed, and as far as I know, no one said anything. Well, other than wondering where all the Portuguese music went, which I suppose I can't fault them for.

   Most of them were too busy waiting for the postgame festivities, which included some of the women's players going in the dunk tank. I would have rathered a bocce tournament, but that appeared to have broken up earlier in the evening.

   Matt's bosses said everyone was impressed with the job he did, then paid him -- both good things. He was at least 20 times better than the just-off-afternoon-drive DJ who does Twins spring training games, and who was so bad, he actually ruined a game for me from a press perspective. I actually went and peeked into his booth, because I wanted to see that he looked exactly like you would expect a guy who's overselling spring training baseball because it's all he has.

   Matt needs a trademark goal call ... that was my one complaint. Goals in soccer are like finding a $20 in your pocket, but that will come with time. Given he hadn't seen the names of the players on either team a half-hour before the game, he put on a show.

Matt at Work
-- And he didn't embarrass me on the mic. Big plus.

Lusitano Stadium Booth     Opening Introductions

May 26, 2007 - Crack House
   Good Thing I Stick To Aluminum Cans: Sure, I only do it in the newspaper office, but at least it still pays.

In late April, the Massachusetts State Lottery abandoned its recycling program aimed at cleaning up the litter of discarded lottery tickets by giving away a free $1 scratch ticket for anyone turning in 25 losing stubs. ...

Lottery officials said its Instant Replay program, started nearly three years ago, spiraled out of control, costing the agency nearly $1 million a year in prize money -- or 10 times what the Legislature had appropriated for the lottery's antilitter efforts -- because people were redeeming discarded tickets by the truck load.

"I looked at the numbers, and they scared me," said Mark J. Cavanagh , the lottery's executive director. "It was time to put an end to it."

   It's wise to never underestimate the lengths to which people will go for free money, or in this case, free scratch tickets which might promise free money.

"It's a messy, messy job," said Mario Conti of Winthrop, a retiree who started collecting losing tickets before the antilitter program began, going through discarded stubs looking for winners that had been thrown away. He said he has found nearly $15,000 in winners in the trash over the years.

Conti said the lottery's antilitter incentives made his hobby even more attractive. He said he and his wife would use the extra money to take a vacation or make some special purchase, but now he has 12 boxes in his garage holding about 90,000 losing scratch tickets that are worth 3,600 new $1 scratch tickets.

   And here I find myself getting edgy because we had a box of cardboard in the kitchen that was maybe three feet by 18 inches.

   Speaking Of Scavenging For Cash: If you will pay me $150, I will give you my fully operational PlayStation 2, 15 games, two controllers, memory card and network modem. The whole setup, saving me the work of setting up an eBay listing.

   I am completely serious.

This will probably not work, but really, it can't go any worse than the Craig's List attempt that netted nothing but potential money order scams.

It's Not His Body, But Use That's Hurting Bonds
-- Inside Baseball attempts to get 'Perlozzo's Boner' in the baseball lexicon. It's going to be a long road.

   • Whoops, I drove my car drunk. And that's not my cocaine.

The arrest is the latest chapter in Lohan's history of hard partying. Saturday's was the third car accident she's had in the last two years. The actress recently announced she checked into rehab for alcohol abuse in January, though paparazzi cameras have since caught her drinking.

The current case could transcend the tabloids: Police say Lohan could face additional charges. Her tentative arraignment date is Aug. 24.

Ronald Richards, a Beverly Hills attorney, believes Lohan could go the way of Paris Hilton -- to jail.

   You know what? I'm a simply guy. I just liked the movie 'Mean Girls.' I thought the main character was very pretty, and I was at an odd point in my life.

   Now it's 2007, and people are e-mailing me alerts that some whacked-out 20-year-old who could do whatever she wants with her time is driving drunk and toting blow and humping who knows how many swarthy guys.

   Seriously, do they not have bowling alleys and Denny's in Los Angeles? Are there really no Papa Gino's-level pizza parlors that have machines inside where you can win bouncy balls, so you can take the bouncy balls outside and throw them against a wall and try to catch them while you loiter? Are there no Golden Tee machines, or places where one could compete in some sort of bar trivia game?

   I mean, hell. I don't really think I was that much of a loser at 20, was I?

   Oh, wait. I was? That's the ruling we're getting.

   C'est la vie. Don't do blow, 20-year-olds. Or at the very least, finish your damned blow before you leave the restaurant. That stuff reheats like crap anyway.

Everyone likes candy. Less like blow.
-- Julie, by the way, eats lots of Hot Tamales.

   Speaking of Julie, tonight she attended an independent film premier at an American Legion hall in Canton. While the prospect of going out is almost always better than staying home, she appeared to go with her friend Dione to this for two reasons:

   1) They had free beer.
   2) They could make fun of people.

   That, friends, is why finding someone you have lots in common with is very important.

May 25, 2007 - Talking It Out
   Finally, Somewhere To Party: The cemetery!

Historic cemeteries, desperate for money to pay for badly needed restorations, are reaching out to the public in ever more unusual ways, with dog parades, bird-watching lectures, Sunday jazz concerts, brunches with star chefs, Halloween parties in the crematory and even a nudie calendar.

Laurel Hill, the resting place of six Titanic victims, promotes itself as an "underground museum."

   So what you're telling me is it isn't just for goth kids and weirdos anymore. Even if the idea of spending any sort of extended time in a cemetery creeps me out.

   Bearing in mind that I spent a good number of Memorial Days in my youth at cemeteries in Agawam, replacing the flags on veterans' graves with my father, who was on the town Veterans Council. That, for some reason, didn't often creep me out.

At a daffodil brunch in April at the Oakwood Cemetery in Troy, N.Y., omelet chefs whisked eggs amid Siena marble walls and soaring Tiffany windows, in the Gardner Earl Memorial Chapel and Crematorium. The 1848 cemetery has burial space for the next 200 years and an annual operating deficit of more than $100,000, according to Theresa Page, president of the board of trustees.

Its preservation issues are dire: volunteers have been clearing brush that made about 10,000 graves invisible. The grave site of Samuel Wilson, the man behind "Uncle Sam," America’s national symbol, has been inaccessible for years, since 125-year-old water pipes burst beneath the roads. The cemetery has asked Congress for $1.7 million for reconstruction.

   This apparently has happened since I was in Troy, N.Y., because the family definitely drove right by the grave on a weekend family drive. Considering that was at least 10 years ago, that's not all that hard to believe. It was my first-ever trip to upstate New York, and I spent a good chunk of it:

   -- in a cemetery, after;
   -- lingering for hours around Rensselaer.

   No wonder I make fun of Albany all the time.

   • Foxwoods again. And for once, I was the one buying lunch for the person I went with, because I'd well outperformed him.

Foxwoods - May 25, 2007
-- Out of 148 players. First place was $3,440. Second was $2,000.

   Not infinitely more satisfying that the times I did something like this online, but definitely more satisfying. There's just something about having 42,000 in chips in front of you to make you feel good.

   As I've said before, poker is infinitely more easier when you have cards. Whereas Bill had pocket kings early, went all-in and lost to pocket jacks, I had them and flopped a third on a board with no real flush of straight draws. Three people in front of me bet 400 chips on the flop -- we started with 5,000 -- I raised to 1,000, and all three called.

   I don't know what they had, but I'm glad they thought it was good.

   Not long after that, after getting moved to a new table, my aces came up against the big stack, who had jacks. All-in ... I hit a third ace on the turn, then needed it when he hit a third jack on the river.

   That's how you cash in your third-ever live tournament.

   If you figure making the last 10 players would require an average of 74,000 chips, I really wasn't that close yet at 42,000. I take some solace in how I went out because of that.

   Off a cheap flop, I hit middle pair, but ended up folding on the river to what ended up a straight but logically could have been a better pair -- he bet 10K, which I'll honestly say I really didn't feel like I could call. He bet 8K on a queen turn, which in hindsight was the spot to go all-in because he would have folded. My call was dumb, since if he does have a queen, I'm dead anyway.

   The things you figure out when you write them out. Hopefully, someone enjoyed that.

   So down to about 20K, I get pocket fours under the gun. I call the 4K big blind and it comes back around to him. Off a declaration to me that he would defend his blind, he goes all-in. After convincing myself odds are he doesn't have a pair, and that this is probably my best shot to double up, I call.

   It probably was my best shot, but his queen-ten got what it needed on the flop.

   Still, to make the final 20 when I spent nearly an hour folding every hand I saw means I don't have to apologize for anything.

May 24, 2007 - Look At All The Kids
   Just Like Rand McNally: You know, the bizarro world where everyone wears hats on their feet and hamburgers eat people.

S-T - May 25, 2007
-- And track teams get deeper through cloning. That too.

   • The Josh Hancock lawsuit ... I'm not saying it won't end well, even though it won't end well. It will also end quietly, when everyone kind of lets Josh Hancock's father know that accepting his son screwed up is probably the best course of action.

ST. LOUIS -- The father of Josh Hancock filed suit Thursday, claiming a restaurant provided drinks to the St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher even though he was intoxicated prior to the crash that killed him.

The suit, filed in St. Louis Circuit Court by Dean Hancock of Tupelo, Miss., does not specify damages. Mike Shannon's Restaurant, owned by the longtime Cardinals broadcaster who starred on three World Series teams in the 1960s, is a defendant in the case along with Shannon's daughter, Patricia Shannon Van Matre, the restaurant manager.

Other defendants include Eddie's Towing, the company whose flatbed tow truck was struck by Hancock's sport utility vehicle in the early hours of April 29; tow truck driver Jacob Edward Hargrove; and Justin Tolar, the driver whose stalled car on Interstate 64 was being assisted by Hargrove.

   I can't even imagine the grief. I hope I never have to.

   But good Lord ... the best-case scenario here is that he's unable to cope with the loss of his son, and he's simply lashing out at everyone who was somehow involved. The best case.

   The worst case is too awful to even think about yet. Or at least mention, since "blatant cash-in" and "throwing it all out there, to see what sticks" are not acceptable forms of dealing with loss. Hopefully, they're also not applicable.

May 23, 2007 - Not That Super Dave
   Um, It Is A Lottery, Right?: Bill Simmons bashing has become a little too fashionable, even for me, but Jesus H. Christ.

You can't even fathom the pain.
-- I think that's enough to get the point across.

   It's already been well said that the Simmons method doesn't work in a daily newspaper -- this column, for instance, woudl fill more than three full columns on a broadsheet page. But it also flies in the face of the suggestion that you only insert yourself in the column if there's a really good reason.

   Really? Having rented 'Deja Vu' with your father is a really good reason? Leaving a $17 tip for lunch is a good reason? Not to mention that anyone who fancies themselves some sort of "I see anecdotes everywhere and have a direct influence on the world tangentially related to me" clown, then takes an hour to figure out renting something called 'Deja Vu' might not be a good idea is, at best, lying through prose because that actually would make a lead worth inserting yourself over.

   Of course, all Simmons discussions must mention that people do care about his life, that he's making six figures and that one day, ESPN will be in a panic when he decides to jump ship for writing some awful sitcom. But that doesn't change that he's gone from a legitimate influence in my writing to someone I again can't read regularly. (This being an increasingly rare moment where I had to see what he had to say.)

   That two people, within 12 hours of the lottery, told me they were enjoying the Celtics fate solely because of Simmons is quite telling. I have a hard time believing a thwarted rebirth of the Hartford Whalers would get the same reaction regarding myself.

   And seriously ... Sullivan's Tap is a crowded shithole.

   Yankees 8, Red Sox 3: The dislike of Curt Schilling outweighing support of the Red Sox has now infiltrated the newspaper office. I still don't completely understand it, even as someone on record as not particularly enjoying the "Curt Schilling: Man Who Can't Shut Up" Era.

   Look. All I'm saying is if you're going to offer up opinions about things, make it things that you're actually somewhat well-versed in. I actually liked the Barry Bonds rant, because it's probably all true and his apology is easily readable as "I still believe this stuff, but I'm sorry I dragged all my teammates into this crap."

   If he ever hit Bonds with a pitch at Fenway, though ... accident or not, that would immediately leap into the top 10 of Greatest Red Sox Moments I've Ever Witnessed Live.

   • I didn't read all of this article about freak dancing yet, but I have high hopes:

At April's spring tolo, Inglemoor High brought in Dance Dance Revolution games, for which freaking isn't one of the moves. And the school will hold its prom at the Experience Music Project, hoping the exciting exhibitions will distract students from riding dirty.

   Exceedingly high hopes.

May 22, 2007 - Six
   He's Back: America's greatest mayor, Buddy Cianci, will return to public life with a job at a Boston hotel.

Disgraced former Providence mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci , long known for his panache and flamboyance, plans to make his return to public life in similar fashion: When he gets out of federal prison next week, a front office job at the ultra swank Fifteen Beacon hotel awaits.

Cianci could begin his second act (or third by some counts) by glad-handing movers and shakers at one of the Hub's toniest addresses, where rooms yesterday were going for as much as $1,200 a night, Lexus with driver included.

. . .

Still, as word spread yesterday of Cianci's job, the hotel said it had received outraged e-mails from several regular clients -- including local companies and a prominent law firm -- saying they would stop sending business there.

   Hopefully, this only enhances the greatest chance for me ever to voluntarily attend the theater, "Buddy" Cianci: The Musical.

   (Edit: A quick read makes it easy to see that musical is four years old. I only said it had the greatest chance. I didn't say that chance was very high.)

   As Far As I Know ...: The Whale City Picayune has never made Fark, but our friends down the road did.

At around 9 a.m. reports were received by the state police of a car traveling east on Route 6, with notebooks and debris being thrown out of the car, according to a state trooper. The car hit the mirror of another vehicle in Harwich and moved in and out of the wrong lane of traffic, the trooper said.

Brewster police Detective Sgt. Heath Eldredge said his department first began receiving calls around 9:20 a.m. complaining of a vehicle driving erratically on Route 6A. At 9:23 a.m., police and rescue units were dispatched to the intersection of Route 6A and Foster Road after the 1996 Honda Accord, driven by Stephen Doherty, hit a utility pole, snapping it off near the base. The force of the crash, combined with the weight of the wires and the broken pole, caused two other poles to break. Doherty's vehicle came to rest, upside down, propped against the 10-foot-high stump of one of the poles.

   The Fark headline said it all: "TA-DAAAA"

   • I usually try to drum up a little more fanfare on site anniversaries, and this is one. It was on this date six years ago that the first post went up, progress being what it is, in more or less exactly the same way this one is going up.

   All I've got right now, though, is another sports cover. As I mentioned on Tuesday, I had some high hopes for this one, and the NBA Draft Lottery delivered the sort of definitive outcome that I was hoping for.

S-T Sports - May 23, 2007
-- I'm rather 'meh' on the product, though.

   Something just looks missing. It's a little too crowded. I kind of wish I hadn't been talked out of my original idea, which had balls for picks 1-4 in a row in the word 'Bounced!,' with the Celtics the only ones way out of the row.

   I still like it regardless, even if it did take me way too long to do and ultimately had us blow deadline. Not to mention my feelings about the actual outcome of the lottery, which I think seals that I'm in no way a real Celtics fan.

   Real Celtics fans weren't laughing at the shots of Celtics' fans at their Draft Lottery party, staring at the screen like they'd just been shown the video from "The Ring."

May 21, 2007 - Whalers on SportsCenter
   Design Possibilities: I will be doing the layout for the sports page on Tuesday night.

   I've already picked out my ping pong ball photo choice.

   Today's Enjoyable Indian Language Discovery: The town of Chicopee in Western Mass., a place I spent a great deal of time as a child, is named from two Nipmuck words: 'chekee,' meaning "violent," and 'pee,' meaning "waters."

   The Nipmuck word for waters was pee.

   I am, let's remember, 27 years old.

   • Special preview of this week's Inside Baseball. This week's Stat That Time Forgot will deal with Joe Torre and July 21, 1975. A little digging through that box score should make it pretty clear why.

   I'm not sure whether it's better or worse if he gets fired before Sunday. Probably better, since it can be a proverbial "You thought this was a bad week for Joe Torre?"

May 20, 2007 - Not Brown, But Chestnut
   Why Horse Racing Might Be Worth A Vacation: Congratulations to Saturday's Preakness, which produced a greater string of Associated Press photographs than any event in recent memory.

   Seriously ... these need no further explanation beyond the AP cutlines.

2007 Preakness
Curlin trainer Steve Asmussen, center, holds the Woodlawn vase with his sons, and jockey Robby Alvarado, right, in the winners circle after the 132nd Preakness Stakes. Part owner Shirley Cunningham Jr. is behind Asmussen. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

2007 Preakness
Chad Barry of Lancaster, Pa., pulls a cooler while his friends George Smith, center, of Charleston, S.C. and Dan Whitman, left, of Atlanta, all show off their physique in their brief swimsuits as they arrive to the 132nd Preakness Stakes. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)

2007 Preakness
A horse racing fan runs across the top of the portajohns as people through beer cans at him in the Preakness infield of Pimlico before the 132nd running of the Preakness Stakes. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

2007 Preakness
A horse racing fan slips from the top of the infield portajohns after running across
a row of them before the 132nd Preakness Stakes. (AP Photo/Matthew S. Gunby)

2007 Preakness
A woman in the Preakness infield exposes some skin for the crowd before
the 132nd Preakness Stakes. (AP Photo/Matthew S. Gunby) **EDS NOTE NUDITY**

2007 Preakness
[AN AFFABLE GIRL FROM MARYLAND] drinks wine from a bag while waiting in the infield for
the start of the 132nd Preakness Stakes. (AP Photo/Matthew S. Gunby)

   It didn't even need a little Barbaro.

   • All the pictures up above help cover that this year, I finally have no mini golf trophy picture to show off. Despite finishing fifth of 18 pro players in the morning rounds with a 113 (36, 37, 39) and eight aces, I lost my quarterfinal match-play match in rather spectacular fashion, missing three short second putts in roughly five minutes.

   Being four down after seven holes pretty much sealed things up. I won the 10th, then had a chance to win the 11th, but didn't. Julie arrived just as I was about to play the 12th, meaning she saw all of four holes, then got to hear me sort-of bitch for the rest of the afternoon.

   It also meant she missed one of the day's more enjoyable moments -- when my partner in the morning rounds, an amateur player named Chris, disappeared for about 15 minutes after our first round because he had to go to the bathroom. There were two bathrooms at the course, but when he saw the doors were locked (because there were people in them), he jumped in his car and drove to McDonalds.

   I was more concerned than anything else, since he seemed to be taking his play rather seriously. But he came back, and actually ending up winning a match in the afternoon.

   In a nice twist, pal from the paper Ed didn't win his quarterfinal match either, but he did win the post-tournament hole in one contest. The tournament was won, as it was last year, by a local guy who apparently spends much of his summer at the course, gambling semi-big money on mini-golf with his friends. When it came awards time, he asked it not be announced how much money he'd won because his mother was there.

   Yes, I would have liked to win. Yet somehow, I don't feel real bad about it knowing that.

May 19, 2007 - Missing Graduation
   Check It Out. Kids!: Head to your printers, because it's time for a Mark Redman Flip Book!

   Relive as the only pitcher who told me to screw when I tried to do a nice feature about him gives up a grand slam to Mike Lowell in his return to Fenway Park with the Braves.

Mark Redman Flip Book
-- Now with an 11.63 ERA!

   Hey, maybe I just caught him on a bad day. Maybe he honestly wasn't doing anything different last season during his surge, and was simply getting better defense behind him.

   Regardless, I'd like to thank Mark for making my missing Saturday's doubleheader a little more enjoyable.

   Speaking of More Enjoyable: Digging for Inside Baseball information, I discovered this frightening piece of information.

   What ever happened to the Steve Bartman foul ball?

The loose ball was snatched up by a Chicago lawyer and sold at an auction in December. Grant DePorter purchased it for $113,824.16 on behalf of Harry Caray's Restaurant Group. On February 26, 2004, it was publicly exploded in a procedure designed by Cubs fan and Academy Award winning special effects expert Michael Lantieri.

   Fine. Probably a little over the top, but I could see it happening in any baseball-mad city.

In 2005, the remains of the ball were used by the restaurant in a pasta sauce. While no part of the ball itself was in the sauce, the ball was boiled and the steam captured, distilled, and added to the final concoction.

   That's not just Wikipedia bullcrap ... that's real.

Last year, the restaurant blew up the ball in a much-publicized exorcism. But that didn't work as the Cubs missed the playoffs.

This year they took the remaining innards -- mostly loose string -- cleaned it, boiled it and infused it with Budweiser, vodka and some herbs and spices. And, oh yeah, they shot a laser beam through Caray's glasses into the large mixing vessel to capture his essence.

Said essence -- actually condensed water made from the vapors of the boiling concoction -- is being added to a signature marinara sauce to be served to willing Cubs fans at Harry Caray's in Chicago and Rosemont, Ill., over the next four days, culminating at 7 p.m. CT Thursday in the seventh annual worldwide toast to the late broadcaster.

   That ... that I can't see happening anywhere else.

Cust's Comeback Means He's No Longer Majors' Fall Guy
-- Inside Baseball salutes Jack Cust, the man seveal Standard-Times staffers screamed at during a previous 12:30 p.m. PawSox game. Yeah, I left that part out.

   • So Sunday is the annual mini-golf tournament. After an afternoon of practice today, I can safely say I'm excited to see how I'll manage not to win this year.

   It's much easier to have a lack of confidence, even if I did shoot a 37 on the course this afternoon and spent a total of two hours practicing on various holes. Something will happen ... if I win $500 playing mini golf the same week I won $200 playing poker at Foxwoods, the world will collapse around us as I'm accepting the prize.

May 18, 2007 - Escalator To Somewhere
   Travels: It's been a while since I cleaned out the camera phone.

Roof, The Standard-Times
-- The Standard-Times' roof.

Shell, Memorial Avenue, Cambridge
-- Shell, Memorial Avenue, Cambridge (Mass.)

-- The family kitchen, where dog does not want to eat cat.
Despite the picture appearing to the exact contrary.

   Ginger could have a dog biscuit wrapped in cooked bacon around her neck ... Sierra would not walk through that door to get into the house. Were it not for Julie, I'd just think the dog was dumb, when in reality she apparently has several characteristics for being autistic.

   Ritalin is not an accepted cure for this, which is good, since dogs should not wear T-shirts.

   • If I had told you that, during the 2001 World Series between the Yankees and the Diamondbacks, one of the two teams played Tag Team's "Whoomp! There It Is" at celebratory moments, would you even consider for a moment that it was the team that plays its games in the austere 'House That Ruth Built'?

   I can only confirm that fact for Game 4, when Tino Martinez tied the game in the ninth with the first of three home runs off Byung-Hyun Kim in a two-day period. Bob Brenly, worst manager ever to win a World Series. In a walk.

   When the Diamondbacks won the series in 7, they didn't play anything for several minutes, kicking into 'We Are The Champions' after that.

   If you will, it's From Whence We Came, Ballpark Anthem Edition.

2002 World Series, Anaheim: 'Song 2' by Blur
Mainly just the "Woo hoo" chorus on repeat for minutes at a time. I have no doubt it was a little hard to hear in the ballpark, with all those damn ThunderStix being pounded together, but it at least makes me feel a little better about leaping aboard their bandwagon with no regard for myself or others.

By the way, demerit to Fox for all the shots of Dusty Baker's son weeping uncontrollably after the Giants lost.

1999 World Series, New York: 'Rock and Roll Part Two' by Phil Spector / 'The Vengabus is Coming' by The Vengaboys
Yankees-Braves, with the symbolic double of New York sweeping the last World Series of the 20th century and the Braves going out of the '90s on a loss.

The people at Yankee Stadium really ought to ditch most other songs for that pseudo-fanfare they use that I'm unable to place anywhere else. After Game 7 from 2003, that friggin' song gives me flashbacks, but I still enjoy it.

Love them or hate them, I think no stadium gets louder at a big moment than Yankee Stadium.

1997 World Series, Florida: 'Beautiful Life' by Ace of Base
Ad infinitum as the Marlins celebrated beating the Indians. Having watched this live at a point in my life where I could safely say I was into Ace of Base, I wish I'd noticed it at the time.

Instead, I was rushing upstairs to wake up Matt, declared Marlins fans, to tell him he should probably get up since his adopted team just won the World Series.

Clearly, my most enjoyable discovery of the list. Though this is a close second.

1996 AL Division Series, New York: 'Hip Hop Hooray' by Naughty By Nature
This is how the Yankees celebrated Jeffrey Maier's crowning moment, which is still angering 11 years later. He reached over the wall out to his elbow, blatantly robbed the Orioles, then ended up being cheered on another fan's shoulders and making the talk show rounds when he should have just been ejected from the park.

Ultimately, the Orioles probably would have lost the Series anyway and Maier ended up having to go the Debra Gibson route, refusing to answer questions about it because he wanted to be remembered for his stirring Div. III baseball career.

Bonus points to Bob Uecker, who went out of his way to proclaim "Great hustle by (umpire) Richie Garcia." Yeah, Garcia got there, just in time to blow the call.

   Those mid-'90s Series broadcasts on NBC, I'd forgotten, all had Joe Morgan doing color in the booth. If I knew then what I know now, who knows where I'd be today.

May 17, 2007 - Nine And a Half
   Obligatory Paris Hilton Follow-Up Post: The system works.

Paris Hilton will serve about half of her 45-day jail sentence and will be separated from the general inmate population, authorities said.

The hotel heiress will spend about 23 days in a "special needs housing unit" at the Century Regional Detention Center in suburban Lynwood, Los Angeles County sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said.

Her sentence was shortened after jail officials gave her credit for good behavior, Whitmore said. Officials considered several factors in calculating the credit, including that she appeared for her latest court date, he said.

   Ultimately, I don't care ... she'll continue to be rich, get out of jail, and hopefully write a song where she speaks of the whole experience like she was in solitary at Attica.

   I just find it amusing that in California, "good behavior" equals "showing up to court when you're supposed to."

   I've spent my whole life mockingly rewarding those who do what they're supposed to do with "Want a cookie?" I had no idea there was an entire state using that as a legislative lynchpin.

   On Cards: Real poker players get that moniker not so much because they play poker, but because they're often not really playing the cards they have in front of them. They're playing their opponents, they're playing the situation, they're playing the relative chip stacks, etc. It can boil down to the cards, but more often tan not, the cards are only a sidelight.

   When you play as often as I do, which is not that often, I'm a card player. It severely hampers things when I go to Foxwoods on a Thursday morning, given most of the people playing poker at a casino on a Thursday morning are those who tend to spend a lot of time there. Most of them are poker players, or at the very least carry themselves under the guise of big-stack, big-bet poker players.

   That said, if I have QQ, I'm going to call a raise before the flop. And if the flop comes 10-8-6 rainbow, and you go all-in right behind me, I'm going to call you. And as I learned, when the turn and river are meaningless and you flip over a losing AK, that's not going to stop me from all but forgetting how to count and struggling to count out my chips because my hand is shaking.

   Perhaps the best part of the whole exchange was the dealer, clearly seeing that the guy had my stack covered by an absurd margin, making a point to call out, "Player is all-in for $871." Despite not winning even a quarter of that, I got a good chuckle in.

   Ultimately, I built my stack up to about three times my buy-in in about 45 minutes, but left with about twice my buy-in plus some. El Pollo Loco is probably always somewhat good, but after that kind of afternoon, it was that much better.

   (Perhaps most notable is, before I'd even played any real poker, I came within one card of a $1,000 royal flush on a video poker machine. I'm sure that's happened to thousands of others before, but considering it wasn't even what I was going for when I held cards, it would have been extra nice to have that moment where I still hadn't figured out why the machine was screaming at me.)

   • If you find yourself watching Roger Clemens's Friday night start for the Tampa Yankees on 'Baseball Tonight,' you're either a diehard Yankees fan, a person chronicling it for some outlet or have a major problem that you should probably address with someone at some point.

   Course, it took me a week to remember that pitching against Fort Myers does not mean he's facing a Sox farm team ... the Fort Myers is the Fort Myers Miracle, who are the Twins' A-ball team. I clearly always knew this, especially considering I was in their stadium twice in March, the first time being the day I bought their smoked turkey leg at the concession stand.

   In hindsight, it was better than it had any business being. Especially since the whole thing appeared to still have the stems of feathers in it.

   At least they were easy to pull out.

May 16, 2007 - Feedback
   • So, you write a column about similarities with the last Red Sox team to explode out of the gates. It's not a revolutionary idea, and not a perfect one, but something you think might enrich things for a majority of your readers.

   Here's what it nets.

Subject: Poor comparison
Date: Wed 16 May 2007

   To quote Francona, "You need to do your homework." In 2002 the Sox got nothing out of 3-5 starters, especially 2nd half of the year. Bullpen was weak. Offense on that team was weak and the A’s and Angels both had 10 game winning streaks in the second half of the year. Do a little more research.

Subject: today's piece
Date: Wed 16 May 2007

   Hello Jon, how are you?

   I'm a reader of a Sox blog called Fragile Freddy. When I saw your piece today, it reminded me of something Freddy had written on Saturday:

   http://fragilefreddy.blogspot.com/ (gonna have to scroll down)

   I was just wondering if you are an occasional or regular reader of Freddy too, and maybe expanded upon the concept there, or if this is just a coincidence.

   Thanks for your time

   In the second letter writer's defense, he was not actually accusing me of ripping the guy off, even if his post is pretty much the same points I made. He actually corresponded with me, which has not happened yet with writer No. 1.

   I love the "To quote Francona" more than anything else. As I said, the column wasn't perfect, or even in perfect's neighborhood. But I'm reasonably certain that was written with some sort of wry smile, a real "Got you, jackass!" kind of line.

   These did remind me, though, that I never got around to handwriting a reply letter to the Jim Ed Rice fan who accused me of knowing nothing about sports. I can only hope he sticks it out, writing me again should Rice gain induction to the Hall next year.

May 15, 2007 - Logical Conclusions
   Things I Never Knew: Young Matty Cooch schemed his way into a Daily Free Press story about Midnight Mania, 2003.

BU Hockey fans, students who heard about the event, their friends and random puckheads made Babcock a sea of red and white. Senators ran untapped pizza boxes up and down the line. By 10:50, the line stretched to Campus Convenience at West Campus and was full of eager fans.

"I am a huge fan of BU hockey," said College of Arts and Sciences sophomore Matt Couture. "[Midnight Mania] is exciting, because it's the first thing of the season. And this year, the skills competition is better and more exciting -- it'll be more fun for the crowd to watch. Last year, I noticed people just came to get T-shirts, because nothing was going on."

   If I haven't already mentioned it, May 27 will be his debut night as the public address announcer for the Western Mass. Lady Pioneers, who apparently don't draw that badly considering ... well, everything.

   Admittedly, it being a Sunday night dampens things as compared to a Saturday night, but I invite you all to come with me and see whether it's possible to make him say my name over the loudspeaker at some point during the game. I'm debating simply leaving my lights on in the parking lot, but that doesn't really count.

Red-Hot Start Reminds of Five Years Ago
-- The 2002 Red Sox ... the best team that sucked.

   • It appears unlikely that I'm ever going to get a clip of my most recent Nippon TV appearance, and that's not all that surprising. My hopes were high, but my expectations weren't particularly close to matching.

   As such, here is what I presume the footage looked like, with my pieces interspersed.

Nippon TV on Matsuzaka

   As you can see, a commercial, some sort of sport-related discussion that grew too heated, the network's "loyalty squid," another commercial for the show after the news piece and some sort of airline ad.

   All in all, a fulfilling experience. Something to be proud of on all accounts.

May 12-14, 2007 - Senility Takes Hold
   Another Fine Ad Copy Moment: Someone wrote this on a piece of paper, and handed it to someone else to read in promotion of Interstate All Battery Center.

Here's something you can't live without: batteries!
Sure, you can live without them ...

   Admittedly, I tend to notice things like this. I tend to be a person who's driving alone in the car, hears this, repeats it out loud to myself, then writes it down to ensure I don't forget it.

   Honest to God. You had two sentences to get my attention. By the end of the commercial, you could have been building around how much fun it is to throw batteries, how batteries are great for eating, anything. Instead, it's "Specious Point!" Followed immediately by "Point Refuting Previous Specious Point!"

   The shame here is that writing ad copy likely pays no better than what I do now, and I probably can't just call these places on an off-day and say, "Hey. I've got Sunday off. Can I just come in and write you a year's worth of commercials that don't suck?"

By Comparison, Pena's Chances May Be Fleeting
-- Sunday's Inside Baseball, brought to you by walks. Many, many walks.

Watching Dice-K A National Fixation
-- The shame in this is I'll apparently never get to see the video footage.

Beckett's Finger On The Mend
-- The notebook, which could not be more cut avulsion and dry.

   • The last few days are one of the few moments in the past six years where I can honestly say I was too busy to write anything. This is always a good thing, yet as least somewhat disappointing when Friend of CW Ed Berliner went out of his way to plug the site at the end of my Saturday interview on "The Field of Play" show.

   Fifteen minutes turned into 40 minutes, one segment into two. This isn't troubling by any means, though I do kind of find it funny that most of the time was spent on discussions about Barry Bonds, steroids and Bud Selig. Not surprised or bothered, mind you, but amused.

   Course, while I sat on hold waiting to go on, there was a brief discussion about the military and their various overseas outposts prompted by an e-mail. Kind of glad they let me swing in after that was over.

   The 4:04 marathon that followed I stayed to watch entirely out of my own stupidity, reasoning that I would enjoy it as a birthday treat. Course, in about the seventh inning I realized I wasn't actually enjoying it much at all, but at that point, there's little point in leaving. At least when I've only been doing this for four years ... give me another couple.

   It scares me to realize that as long as four hours, four minutes is for a nine-inning game, I've seen one 41 minutes longer. And it was the second game of a doubleheader, a doubleheader that started with a tidy 3:55 affair. A massacre in so many ways.

   After an evening of enraging friends and well-wishers by wandering to go play Golden Tee Golf (twice) during my own birthday party, Sunday was when I learned that a salad consisting entirely of spinach is probably not something anyone should eat. You can't like spinach that much. Popeye doesn't like spinach that much, even with crumbled bacon, honey mustard and onion chunks. I find it hard to believe spinach is good in that sort of level.

   Monday? I was faced with choosing time on the treadmill or this. Since I've sold my head on walking on the treadmill being better than dusting the treadmill, here we are.

   It's not like I missed anything. Except, of course, for a chance to write one of those "Hey, I'm 27 now, everyone is making fun of me because I'm old. Maybe I should promise myself I'll get in better shape this year."

   Julie just bought five cases of soda for $12. Sure, it's all diet soda, but still. I know full well I'm drinking most of those.

   She also washed all the windows in the apartment because she had a free afternoon. Some days, I can't even fathom why she's here, why she's here with me or when the camera crew is going to pop out of the closet and tell me I've been Punk'd.

   Also of note, for my birthday, my mother bought me a fist-sized paperweight. It's a diamond. Admittedly, it could have been much worse, but I still hate her.

May 11, 2007 - I Hope He's Still There Tomorrow
   Mother of Invention: Forced, I can only presume, by the slavish devotion of environmentalists or something. In regards of the Hoodsie Cup or something ...

Hoodsie® Cup is the traditional ice cream cup frozen novelty and has been the mainstay for Hood for over 50 years. Hoodsie is a 3.0 fl. oz. cup of smooth, vanilla flavored and creamy chocolate ice creams side-by-side. Each bag of Hoodsie Cups is packed 12 per bag.

Hoodsies can be eaten with a spoon, or if a spoon is not available, a simple trick is to fold the lid of the container and use it as your eating utensil.

   What, were we killing too many trees to keep producing the provided wooden eatin' stick?

   Big in Japan, Vol. 2: I am hopeful that the people at Nippon TV come through with some sort of video copy of what I'm about to describe, but should they not, let me assure you ... any interview where I'm given plastic sticks with symbols on them, which I'm supposed to raise depending on my response to a yes or no question, deserves to be both remembered forever and placed on YouTube until they demand its removal.

   (For whatever reason, 26 people have watched my Crestwood Suites clip. That's at least 23 that aren't me. Good for them, but I digress.)

   The crux of this interview, which was for a Sunday news show, is a belief/fear that Daisuke Matsuzaka isn't good enough to make it in the Major Leagues. Having read "You Gotta Have Wa" -- well, half of it while sitting in the Boston Public Library on a free afternoon -- there's a good chance "belief" is the actual reason. A video won't actually confirm this, but I was asked beforehand if I knew of any critical Matsuzaka articles or cartoons that they could use for the story.

Daisuke from BDD
-- Never has Boston Dirt Dogs had potential to be more valuable. And more racist.

   A Japanese reporter would ask a question to the English-speaking producer, who would then ask me. I would hold up the little sign that corresponded to my belief -- circle with blue background yes, X with red background no -- then give a brief reason as to why I felt that way. The producer would translate some portion of my answer back to the reporter, rinse, repeat.

   The second question was, honest to God:

"Do you think Daisuke needs to go to the minor leagues?"

   I didn't actually say "Only if holding MLB hitters to a .234 average over your first seven starts in a country where you've never lived and don't really speak the language yet is bad," but I thik it's safe to say managing editor Dan can now add "Dice-K Apologist" to my long list of office nicknames. It won't replace his go-to "Mr. Flanders," but watering it down is perfectly acceptable.

   The other interviewees, by the by, were the Globe's Benjamin, streaking meteorite Rob Bradford and Springfield's Ron Chimelis, who clearly enjoyed the whole thing almost as much as I did. Not quite as absurd as it could have been, but it'll do.

   It'd probably be sacreligious to pray for a video clip, but it's my 27th birthday on Saturday. Jesus gives gifts other than life on occasion, right?

   • There are times in my life where I wonder if I'm really a good person, or if I really have strayed down the wrong path. The following story probably doesn't clarify that, but I definitely feel a little clearer on where I come down.

   About halfway to my car after the game, as I'm walking through one of the VIP parking lots, I hear a man calling "Excuse me? Excuse me, sir?" from behind me. I turn, and see an older black gentlemen in a sport coat approaching me.

   He begins to explain to me a bit of plight. He works for Verizon, came to the game with his wife and son, but has a flat tire and needs a tow. He's 51 -- "more than twice your age," he said with a chuckle as he nudged my arm -- but doesn't have enough money to cover the $13.99 service charge for the tow truck. Can I help him? The car's right over there, if I want to go see it ... this man's main concern seems to be me not believing he's a homeless guy who's begging for money.

   Never mind that he hasn't figured out that I see him in a sportcoat and parked in a lot requiring a special, team-issued parking pass. Clearly, he was not sitting somewhere for this game where shrimp cocktail wasn't available for in-seat delivery.

   Now, I don't doubt he's telling me the truth, but I also don't particularly feel like giving some stranger on the street $14 when there's clearly something odd here -- showing my quick-thinking skills, "Do you not have an ATM card?" didn't come to me until after. However, I've got a $10, and having $10 when you need $14 is better than having $0. I dare say you could barter a tow truck driver for $4 easier than $14.

   I offer him the $10. He says, "Well, it's $13.99."

   I say, "Well, here's $10. That's all I can give you." Logically, he responds under his breath as I'm walking away:

"Thanks, asshole."

   It's hard to say exactly what went through my mind first ... I don't think he said it with the intention I'd hear him, but rest assured, it's what he said. I kind of froze for a moment, simply because my mind has a hard time wrapping around the basic programming.

10 ASK stranger for money
20 RECEIVE not insignificant amount
30 RESPOND with swear

-- This probably would not work on most 386 systems.

   Should I have turned around and punched the guy in the face, like my gut said at that moment? No. Should I have turned around and made it clear to him I'd heard him. Probably. Was simply walking off into the night bemused and bewildered by the episode the best response? Doubtful.

   But that's what I did. I may be poor, but at least I don't need to fucking beg some asshole for $10.

   It should be noted that were this story a true happy ending, I'd have given $20 to the homeless people who congregate with cups at the stoplight near the Route 93 entrance. After all, homeless people are at least thankful most of the time.

   Though I pulled out a dollar bill to give one of them, the one guy by my car didn't even ask.

A Night For Burres, Not Wily
-- End the nominations. Worst game of the year has been decided.

May 10, 2007 - Domo Origato, I Guess
   Spam Update: Today, along with learning that several members of the Rockies "Honor Members of the Denver Action Team for their Efforts to Encourage Youth Volunteerism" -- on the plus side, now I know where LaTroy Hawkins ended up -- I received a Nigerian bank scam written entirely in French and a note from a company called RarePlay, which believes I am "a professional involved in identifying business innovations."

   The work e-mail is much more fun, especially since I'm now receiving press releases from the European Minigolf Championships. At least that's something I can blame on myself.

   Cardboard Gods: I'd never heard of it. Sly, however, found an excellent place for me to start.

   Made-up stories centering around forgotten baseball cards, of which I have several thousand. Though even the ones that are any good are pretty much forgotten at this point.

   I remember, soon after Cecil Fielder completed his 51-homer season in 1990, finding I owned Fielder's 1986 Topps card with the Blue Jays. At that moment, I was pretty sure it had to be worth at least $100. I mean, he'd just hit 50 home runs! No one had done that in 13 years!

   Both items didn't exactly stand the test of time.

   • In the span about about two hours this afternoon, I lined up a pair of media appearances. And by "lined up," I mean people called me and asked me to appear on their shows. That this could go dormant for several months, then spring up again in the span of a Thursday is very reassuring.

   It will mean I have to eat whatever the "international option" is in the dining room a little later than normal. So it goes.

   On Friday night, I'm again being interviewed for Nippon TV, with the hook apparently being the producer in New York who was choosing people to call being a previous resident of Whale City. Before me is The Boston Globe's Amalie Benjamin, who as you might imagine, is about 14 times better known than I am. I can only hope I'm followed by Peter Gammons, giving everyone watching a continent away a chance to practice their "one of these things is not like the other" skills.

   This is apparently going to be significantly longer than my previous appearance, since it's just occurring to me now there's a half-hour gap between her appearance and mine. I'm not wearing a tie, but only because there's a very low chance my mother will see it and demand to know why I didn't wear tie.

   Then on Saturday, I'm doing an apparently 15-minute spot on "The Field of Play," which used to The Russ Francis Show and is syndicated beyond Boston's 1510 AM, "The Zone." Those in the area may remember The Zone as the station that led Celtics color man Cedric Maxwell to start using "Quack, Quack" as a catchphrase, since the station is apparently best heard in the ocean.

   I'm always curious, even as someone whose name people know a little bit, how new places find me. Initially, I was guessing Francis's producers remebered the paper from when they had buddy Jon Darling on to talk Patriots before last season.

   Then I found the above-linked Web site, and saw this:


   The man directly responsible for me owning so many different colors of dress shirt. Not to mention the ties ... if I ever actually buy a suit, I'm curious to see what I could buy that would let them all still work.

   A white suit it is. I always did enjoy Brother Love.

May 9, 2007 - Amused By The South Shore
   Asking Means You Wouldn't Understand: This is funny.

Ralph Wiggum, Packing Heat

   And this is proof the system works.

Paris Hilton's pardon plea to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has been laughed out of his office.

The hotel heiress appealed to her fans to sign a petition after she was sentenced to 45 days in jail for driving with a suspended licence and sent it to the actor-turned-politician. But calls to Arnie's office inquiring about the petition were met with mockery.

. . .

Paris' mother Kathy Hilton is furious her daughter has been given a jail term. She told the USA Today newspaper, "This is pathetic and disgusting, a waste of taxpayers' money with all this nonsense. This is a joke."

The 45-year-old even implied the judge only decided to jail Paris to become famous.

   Yes. How sad that would be if the judge did something to Paris Hilton solely and for the express purpose of becoming famous. It would be entirely unprecedented.

When Judge Michael T. Sauer walked into his parish church on Saturday, the day after sentencing Paris, he was greeted by rapturous applause.

   Though that's probably a little much. He didn't cure [ INSERT STD HERE ]. He just quarantined it for a little while.

   • So tonight, Julie and I ended up in Scituate at a restaurant she used to frequent when her grandmother lived in town -- her house is up for sale, and apparently my offer of $5,000 for it isn't going to work when the asking price is $409,000.

   It's a nice house. I'm just a savvy shopper. And I feel connected to it now since I ate a chunk of cookie dough out of the fridge ... if the Realtor misses it, she's very good at her job.

   Anyway, the upstairs portion isn't all that big, and we ended up at a table very near the cash register / waitress bitch area. Bear in mind we'd seated ourselves at the only open spot, then had to wait maybe 10 minutes for someone to come over and clear the table.

   That took three trips, with the interim filled by another waitress coming over, asking if we wanted something to drink, then immediately rushing off when Julie said she wasn't sure yet.

   Not long after we'd finally gotten the table cleaned off -- I had no idea Hoodsie cups were still going strong -- and only the smell of what was left on the plates remained, I overheard our server up above at the register, loudly complaining about only getting $12 on a $100 check.

   I didn't say anything. Julie beat me to it.

   She's very sweet, but she has it in her. And that's why we work.

   Not long after that, the smell of the old food was replaced by the overpowering scent of vinegar, being applied to French fries about four feet behind me.

   The tables where we were couldn't easily be seen from the waitress station, so that makes it a little more understandable that a girl standing up there exclaimed something along the lines of "Man! Is it me who smells like that?!"

   Well, no it doesn't. But she's probably a high-school student in Scituate ... she's at least two years away from ever experiencing an actual, real-world problem.

May 8, 2007 - Seagull Two!
Research Afternoon: For reasons I don't think are actually important, a list of the top 10 daily newspapers in Massachusetts, sorted by average weekday circulation.

Boston Globe -- 382,503
Boston Herald -- 201,513
Worcester Telegram & Gazette -- 84,394
The Republican (Springfield) -- 83,798
Christian Science Monitor -- 58,313
Quincy Patriot Ledger -- 52,638
The (Lawrence) Eagle-Tribune -- 47,072
Lowell Sun -- 46,280
Cape Cod Times -- 44,173
Whale City Fishwrap-Picayune -- 31,893

   We seem to be the only paper of this size whose Sunday circulation isn't a good chunk bigger than the daily. Though on the plus side, we've inched ahead of Brockton, meaning I don't have to pretend a Top 11 list is a natural split for this stuff.

   Which brings me to my next point. I would probably take a job in Springfield yesterday, but am troubled by the fact that their layout is ugly. That I had a dream about this troubles me a little bit.

A Different Kind of Clemens Closure
-- Join us next time when Cooch tells the story of why
he liked Hideki Okajima before you did.

   • Today's column kind of feels like the sort of stuff I used to write back in 2003, when the whole thing was more fun and I played it a little looser. I'm not sure how it comes off, though I'm glad I dug back into it after a first write. Rambling isn't even the word.

   As you may have noticed, I'm at one of those points where I don't exactly have a whole lot to say. My birthday's Saturday, and today featured all the initial signs of me getting sick. Much as I like that I can now trace the path of an illness and how long it's going to take to get over, this doesn't jive real well with today's realization that I'm a damned sloth and really need to start doing something with myself during the daylight hours.

   Though on the plus side, I think I figured out how I'm going to solve the comments issue. If only I could now actually compose something worth commenting on again.

May 7, 2007 - No Disappointment Necessary
   • What's more fun that David Ortiz saying he might have taken steroids and Curt Schilling ripping into Barry Bonds?

   The Paris Hilton petition, of course.

Paris Whitney Hilton is an American celebrity and socialite. She is an heiress to a share of the Hilton Hotel fortune, as well as to the real estate fortune of her father Richard Hilton. She provides hope for young people all over the U.S. and the world. She provides beauty and excitement to (most of) our otherwise mundane lives.

Hilton is notable for her leading roles on the FOX reality series The Simple Life and in the remake of the Vincent Price horror classic "House of Wax". In addition to her work as an actress, she has achieved some recognition as a model, celebrity spokesperson, singer, and writer.

   She's also known for leaking a video of her being probed by a guy because she thought it would help her career.

   I could go on, but I don't have it in me today. And though this may seem odd coming from me, there's just no need to pile on what I assume is already a solid Internet assault.

May 5-6, 2007 - Ah, Fan Memories
   Two-Day Trend?: No. I simply discovered that my MLB.tv subscription gives me access to all the Baseball's Best footage in their library. That, plus three hours of vacuuming under things has a way of eating into an afternoon off.

   As does Mr. Ninja Turtle Shoelaces.

Fast Acting Doesn't Make Clemens Quick Fix
-- My boss called me twice this afternoon. Both calls added far more work to my pile than I'd had previously. To me credit, I think, I kept picking up.

   • Now's as good a time as any to remind myself that the first time Julie and I actually spent any extended time on our own together -- Matty Cooch was there, but he's cool -- was Clemens' Fenway finale.

Roger Clemens - Aug. 31, 2003
-- I may have been one of the only ones not shouting at him.

Jon Couture - Aug. 31, 2003
-- It's been a long time since I wore that watch.
The socks, though, the socks I probably still wear.

Crayz Sox Fans - Aug. 31, 2003
-- That cup is in the cupboard now, I'm pretty sure.

   I'm not sure how much I can stress that this was a long time ago.

   Matt, bless his heart, wore his Kevin Millar T-shirt. Kevin Millar was barely even Kevin Millar yet!

   This appears to have been days before the Rally Karaoke Guy video came out, which I think is what really started whatever the hell Kevin Millar is here. Though if I were missing something, I wouldn't be shocked.

   These photos don't reveal that I'm actually wearing a Nomar Garciaparra jersey. I'd like to think I've made it worth the $140 my parents paid for it for some birthday I can't remember exactly.

May 3-4, 2007 - Control Problems
   Cohabitation Update: On Thursday afternoon, Julie went to the dermatologist to have some moles checked out -- her mother has had problems in the past, plus her best friend had some malignant melanoma removed not long ago. There was really only one mole that bore a further look, so she had a biopsy done.

   The mole was in the dead center of her back, so when the chunk was taken out and the single stitch put in, the act of keeping the stitch moisturized was something she simply couldn't do on her own.

   So this morning, I had to roust myself at 8 a.m. to put moisturizing goop on a single stitch in the middle of her back. The idea of stitiches at least was much more disgusting than what they actually are.

   If that's not a step beyond simple dating, I'm not sure what is.

Etch A Sketch Master
-- Much more so than discovering her Etch A Sketch skills.

   • It wasn't necessarily inevitable, but it kind of felt bound to happen. On Thursday night, I did a brief interview with some guys from Nippon TV on Daisuke Matsuzaka's start.

Wild Dice-K Cause For Concern
-- I'd really like to know if tracking his pitches is getting me anywhere. Though on a night where the quotes were sparse, it helped immensely.

   Basically, I was walking out of the press box at the right time. After explaining who I was, where New Bedford was and that we were a daily paper, they decided I would make a more worthwhile interview than the nearby security guard. So out came the little video camera, presumably adding Japan to the list of odd places my baseball knowledge has appeared -- Hawaii, New Jersey and that lady's blog.

   I then went downstairs and discovered Bald Guyz, whose aim is to embrace the hairless with products like "Head Wipes."

   "Head Wipes." This somehow connects with Friday, when while walking down Boylston Street to meet up with old friends, I overheard a man say into his cell phone, "So he asked her, 'Mind if I cum on your face?'"

   I didn't stick around to see where it was going. Though in all honestly, it sounded like it was going somewhere that would have been the best story on this site in three years.

May 2, 2007 - Let's Just Say It's A Scene
   The Internet Works Out The Kinks: Today, I received an Amber Alert in my MySpace inbox, alerting me to a missing girl in Tennessee.

"She was kidnapped just yesterday. it will take 5 seconds to repost.. What if someone sees this that knows something and a grandma and mother get their kid back. how great would that be? so please just take 5 seconds out of your day to read and repost this

   I didn't. Instead, I spent the five seconds and discovered that the girl has been found ... since Nov. 7, 2006. It appears the actual Amber Alert was active for a little more than two hours.

   Though on the plus side, it was much more funny than the e-mail I got offering me free access to Classmates.com "just in time to get you primed for a Agawam Middle School 15-year reunion." That would be the fifth and sixth grade, for those not lucky enough to traipse through the grounds.

   Admittedly, I brought this on myself, but it did offer an excuse to realize both my homeroom teachers in that school are probably dead. They were nice ladies, though one of them had continued teaching after having a stroke, which led to pretty much the whole class abusing her "grade your own spelling tests" policy.

   That was the year I gained some popularity, honest to God, because I had access to Sharpie markers and gave them out free to people I liked. Thanks, Dad!

Beckett Hangs Tough For Sixth Win
-- Definitely did not end up the perfect game I was hoping I'd see four innings in.

Francona Fosters Communication Without Translation
-- Another short notebook that actually isn't that short.

   • This is sad. Or at least what I find sad.

   Though on the plus side, for the first time in my life, I also am sad that I didn't buy Dow Jones stock when I had the chance. That seems like a far more normal thing to be regretful about than the death of a fake, wigger office worker written by a bunch of guys somewhere in the Midwest.

May 1, 2007 - Panic At The Not Disco
   What Passes For Athletic Achievement Now:

Golden Tee Double Eagle
-- Like golfing, but with less movement.

   Let the record show that on the hole after this, I made a seven.

   It was that or drink more.

Epstein's Dream Team Shining So Far
-- It's always good to pen a love sonnet about something right before they blow a save.

   • Allow me to distill this story down to its core for you. Rupert Murdoch is going to buy the company that owns my paper, sell the subsidiary of which my paper is a member and ruin everything forever.

   But since talking about that might not be worth my while before any of it actually happens, I just want to point something out.

Subway? It's food.

   Yes. That Jared guy who we've been using to shill our mediocre sandwiches for the past several years? Please don't try to emulate his massive weight loss and general life improvement. Just shut up and eat your meatballs.

   I'm sure there's some legal-laden reason this is posted in larger-than-agate type, but considering the downtown Subway is apparently replacing the bus station as the place where all the crazy people hang out, I'm probably the only person who's noticed.

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