June 30, 2003 - During Pullups?! Thanks, Advocate.
   What? Church Talk?: Boston Catholics might actually be gaining an Archbishop with his stuff together when Sean Patrick O'Malley is officially tapped before my buzzed butt wakes up Tuesday morning.

   Working in SouthCoast, where Bishop O'Malley led the Diocese of Fall River for a dozen years, the man has proven to be on the ball and compassionate in all the times I've read about him, so I have high hopes he can un-blank what clearly is a very blank-ed up situation.

   Thus ends my foray into religion talk. Like most in this country, I should be all set until about Christmas.

Unwritten Rules Cloud Playing Field
-- You can always tell the weeks when my editor feels the column is good, because he'll rework the paper to give me extra space beyond the usual 650-700 words I'm allowed.

This week's column is a whisper under 900 words. I'm baaaack.

   • It's always nice to get reader e-mail. Many times, the comments one makes in that extended medium are better than any of the stuff that ends up on my oft-broken comments widget. For example:

Subject: Aug 31
Date: Mon, 30 Jun 2003
From: __________
To: cooch@joncouture.com

   I have tickets for that game too. Please stay the hell home.
-- Name removed to protect my second father's identity.

   I've long told people that I go to as few Red Sox games as I can possibly stand, because I realize there's a direct correlation between my attending and their losing. This could prove very problematic should they return to the World Series, where I'd be likely to spend ungoldy amounts of money and time securing tickets to all games at Fenway Park, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

   The Red Sox won Game Three of the 1999 ALCS 13-1, their only win of the series and one of three games played at Fenway Park.

   If you don't see where this is going, you're not trying hard enough. Especially since prior to Games Four and Five, the Red Sox were 3-0 at home in the 1999 post-season.

   Anyway, as a way to ease the fears of Red Sox Nation, Cooch's World presents:

The Happy Moments In Sox History I Have Witnessed Live

April 15, 2002 (Patriots Day Game) - BOS 4, NYY 3
This probably would top the list of best games I've ever seen if I bothered to put this one in order. It's not even so much that they beat the Yankees and moved into first place, it's more that it was a very well-played ballgame that the good guys managed to keep out of the fire. Though this was the game I started my crusades against Manny Ramirez (saying he strikes no fear when he bats and dogs it -- a crusade very much cancelled) and Grady Little (for pulling Derek Lowe after he allowed two hits in seven innings -- a crusade not cancelled, but definitely not pulled off the stovetop either).

Also helping this game, I think I went through two full orders of the Sox "chicken fingers/spicy fries" combo, which beats the hell out of a Fenway Frank. And after the game, I caught a drunk student falling off the curb. Always nice to keep someone's head in full, working order.

April 11, 2000 (Home Opening Day) - BOS 13, MIN 4
Carl Everett's debut, with Amit's legendary call of "Hit this ball like you hit your kids!" seconds before Everett launched a mammoth home run high into the screen. Even if this was foreshadowing as to the types of things Everett would be famous for in Boston, there are few things that could ever replace this as my single favorite at-bat in Red Sox history.

I'm still surprised we weren't smited as he touched home plate.

July 18, 1999 (Pedro's Worst Start Ever) - BOS 11, FLA 9
Even if the Sox had lost, this probably would have been among the highlights. Just because I can say I went to a game where Pedro Martinez's pitching line read:

3.2 IP, 12 H, 9 R (7 ER), 0 BB, 3 K

The fact that they somehow won the game -- a true rarity for the yearly Couture family game -- easily secures its spot in the pantheon. Even if we were sitting about 80 rows up in Sec. 2, which is perhaps the worst seating section in the entire park.

All you need to know about Sec. 2 is it was the auxiliary press box for the '99 All-Star Game -- the place where little nothing publications were forced to sit. If it's good enough for the press, it's good enough for ... animal consumption.

April 13, 1999 (My First Opening Day) - BOS 6, CWS 0
Having tickets to the Opening Day Game in Boston is like being the kid in elementary school who was the first one to get the L.A. Gear shoes with lights. Everyone's both in awe of you and hating you all at the same time.

I have Renee to thank ... and believe me when I say getting me tickets to Opening Day twice is the kind of thing a Red Sox fan could never really make up to another Red Sox fan. Getting me into those 1999 playoff games was just icing on the cake.

As for the actual game, Bret Saberhagen was dominant. This was before I started joking he was actually held together by duct tape and Bondo, and telling people he actually kept his pitching arm in a jar beside his bed each night.

But let there never be any doubt that after Pedro,
there was no Sox pitcher I wanted on the mound more than Sabes.

July 22, 1993 (The Benches Clear) - BOS 9, OAK 7
About the only things notable about this game were I was sitting in a field box near the Red Sox dugout -- a gift to my family from one of all-time nicest newspaper customers -- and that Rickey Henderson encited the benches to clear when, after hitting his second home run of the game off Danny Darwin, he stared the pitcher down all the way down the first base line.

This was also the night my brother was nearly hit as Roger Clemens sped away from the park, then got Billy Hatcher's autograph, as he and his wife pulled to the side of the road to sign things for fans.

   That's about as far back as my memory goes, with Retrosheet being responsible for the specific date and score details. The only game I'd list here that I can't pin down was the first Sox game I ever attended -- sitting in the AT&T corporate box along the right field line with my father, it was somewhere between 1987 and 1989, because Oil Can Boyd pitched and Jody Reed was the offensive hero. Score was like 2-0 in a game I thought was against Cleveland, but who knows.

   It's entirely possible I'm confusing details of it with the game of June 10, 1990, something I only know I attended because in my bureau, there's a dated Polaroid of 10-year-old me standing with cardboard cutouts of Roger Clemens, Dwight Evans, Jim Rice, Wade Boggs and Marty Barrett.

Goodbye, Dignity.
-- Goodbye, dignity.

   So, "Dad," there's always the chance my first two games of the year were just the penance I have to pay for another Sox-Yankees classic, to be witness from the lower piece of Section 40 where I've always wanted to sit. Or it could prove that my nearly full February day spent sitting in the bowels of Fenway Park with Meg was little more than the two of us just getting to spend some quality time together while I took pictures of everything around me.

   Either way, I can't believe I just posted that picture in a public forum.

June 29, 2003 - Sadly, As Good As It Gets
   Yesterday's Italics: Lost in all the gut wrenching at Fenway Park, the team seems to have fully implemented the latest player pomp: theme music. I didn't have a pad with me to record everything I heard, but suffice to say the 2003 Boston Red Sox are huge fans of rap music.

   The major exceptiions to this being Johnny Damon, who came out to either BU Hockey favorite Iron Man or Matt Bruce favorite The Distance, and newly acquired Gabe Kapler, who likely had the "Welcome Back, Kotter" theme foisted upon him by management.

   Course if he keeps hitting .779 and knocking in seven runs every two games, I'd let him walk to an uncensored version of Cop Killer.

   No Birds In The Champagne Round:

• Agawam Municipal GC - Feeding Hills, Mass. •
40, 5 OVER PAR
Birdies: 0 - Pars: 5 - Bogeys: 3 - Others: 1
Fairways Hit: 5 of 6 - Greens In Regulation: 2 of 9 - Putts: 14

   I'm pretty sure I haven't broken 40 for nine holes since I was in high school, so in all honesty, this is about as well as I can expect to play golf anymore. One bad hole, limited to a double bogey, and making a lot of putts and chips I had no business making. When I'm making 25-footers for par and knocking 40 yard approaches to two feet, just be glad you weren't playing me for money.

   I did put on No. 9 for a 39, but it was a sidehill nine-footer that I gave too much break to. And I'm done talking about it.

   • The people at Dutch Boy have come out with what is legitimately a revolutionary new paint can. The Twist and Pour paint can features a large screw top and a pour spout, making it much easier to store unused paint and to get paint from the can to whatever vessel you'll be using to paint.

   To those unfamiliar, because Lord knows you're out there, the commonly used paint can is all metal, and features a lid that needs to be pried off with a screwdriver and put back on with a hammer or flat rock.

   Dutch Boy has been in business since 1907. Sherwin-Williams is even older, founded in 1866. These two, plus the countless smaller companies that produce and sell house and other paints, have between them hundreds of years of innovation and marketing.

   It took until 2003 to create a paint can with a friggin screw top and a pour spout?! I wonder where they got their inspiration ... oh yeah, from Coffee-mate.

   I thought bleacher seats were the greatest evidence that the masses are idiots.

June 28, 2003 - The Gabe Kapler Coming-Out Party
   • There will be no opening italics today. I need to put this in perspective immediately ... the short version of this being:

Red Sox

The Five Worst Red Sox Games I Have Ever Witnessed Live

5) Oct. 2, 1998 (AL Division Series Game Three) - CLE 4, BOS 3
This is really on the list only because it was a lost playoff game in a lost playoff series, because the whole experience was pretty nice. Getting one of the last single seats in the park from the old brick ticket booths, being forced by strangers to shoot rum they smuggled into the park and a one-run game in a playoff series.

That said, it was a five-hitter by three Sox pitchers ... with four of the hits solo homers. It was Dennis Eckersley giving up a bomb to Cleveland's Manny Ramirez in the top of ninth, rendering Nomar's shot in the bottom just one run too few. It was, up til then, the worst game I had ever attended.

4) June 28, 2003 (The Night After) - FLA 10, BOS 9
Just the ultimate sucker-punch game. Going in fully convinced the Sox would lose just because I was in attendance, suspecting it was happening as the Sox trailed 2-0, and then to have it all torn away as Boston went up 9-2.

Capped off by Kapler's fourth hit, a double into the corner to score the last two. There's a good chance that if he had hit a grand slam in that sixth-inning at-bat, thus both making it 11-2 and hitting for the cycle in his first Sox appearance, the stadium would have collapsed.

But oh, I was right. And as extended as it was, it was so sudden. 9-2 became 9-6 in the eighth, then became 9-7. Then two got on for Mike Lowell, NL home run leader.

And you just knew. As the count ran 0-2, as the ball hit his bat, as a weak fly ball to right-center kept drifting, kept drifting, drifting ... really, the whole thing was made by our seats being on the right edge of the bleachers.

To overstate it a little, it was like watching your best friend get shot and hit by a bus in slow motion while you're diving and screaming, "Noooooooo!!!!!!!"

3) Sept. 9, 1998 (Yankees Clinch AL East) - NYY 7, BOS 5
It's not as bad as it could have been, as the Yankees has a 20.5 game lead after the win, but things were made infinitely worse by having it be "COM Welcoming Night" at Fenway. As I would discover over the next four years, COM has a LOT of people from the New York/New Jersey metro area in it.

I've never felt like a visiting fan in the bleachers before, and I never will again.

2) April 21, 2003 (Patriots Day Game) - TOR 11, BOS 6
I'm in the bleachers on a hot day, I can't hear because there's no PA speakers in teh bleachers, I can't see because people keep walking in front of me for beer, and a conversation with a girl in front of me, which she had started, ends when she answers "Where do you go to school?" with, "Where do you think?"

With apologies to my company that day, a Sox loss couldn't get worse.

1) Oct. 18, 1999 (AL Championship Series Game Five) - NYY 6, BOS 1
Oh wait. Yes it could.

I have long believed that when the Red Sox finally win their sixth world championship, it's going to happen in a fashion that will have made it worth the wait. Coming back from 3-1 down against the Yankees would have been just such a leadup, with a championship coming against the team's former city rivals.

But from pitch one, it was clear it wasn't to be. And as nice as it was to catch a free T-shirt, as great a diversion as the riot was, as nice as it was to see a fan try to sucker-punch Paul O'Neill in his injured ribs, it all led up to quite a gruesome scene.

The Yankees celebrating winning the pennant ... on the Fenway Park pitcher's mound.

I've never cried leaving a ball game as a spectator, but I've never felt quite as sick after one as I did that night.

   And given that my first game this season ranks second and my second one ranks fourth, I shudder to think what the baseball gods have in store for August 31.

June 27, 2003 - 2-5-3-5-3-0-3-2? 14-2-1-2-1-0-1-4.
   Flaky On The Outside: It's the hit of New York City, it's designed to bring you closer to your pet nad it's from the people who bought you "Cardio Strip Tease."

   It's Ruff Yoga, and it really doesn't need any further comments.

"Usually when he's in the park, he can't focus," said Klein, who was among
nine New Yorkers and their dogs who attended a class on Thursday night.
-- He's a DOG. He licks his ASS when he POOS.

   Strom Thurmond?: Still dead. And now one of many dead politicians to have received votes from Civil War veterans.

   • The Bill Simmons NBA Draft Diary, shock of shocks, was only the second most compelling prose on ESPN.com today.

Bottom of the 1st inning

-- J Damon doubled to right.
-- T Walker singled to center, J Damon scored.
-- N Garciaparra doubled to deep left, T Walker to third.
-- M Ramirez homered to left, T Walker and N Garciaparra scored.
-- D Ortiz doubled to right.
-- -K Millar singled to center, D Ortiz scored.
-- M Tejera relieved C Pavano. --
-- T Nixon singled to right, K Millar to second.
-- -B Mueller walked, K Millar to third, T Nixon to second.
-- -J Varitek singled to center, K Millar and T Nixon scored, B Mueller to second.
-- J Damon tripled to deep right, B Mueller and J Varitek scored.
-- T Walker singled to right, J Damon scored.
-- A Levrault relieved M Tejera. --
-- N Garciaparra fouled out to catcher. (OUT 1)
-- M Ramirez singled to right, T Walker to third.
-- D Ortiz walked, M Ramirez to second.
-- K Millar hit sacrifice fly to center, T Walker scored. (OUT 2)
-- T Nixon walked, M Ramirez to third, D Ortiz to second.
-- B Mueller doubled to left center, M Ramirez and D Ortiz scored, T Nixon to third.
-- J Varitek walked.
-- J Damon singled to left, T Nixon scored, B Mueller thrown out at home.

14 runs, 13 hits, 0 errors
Boston 14, Florida 1

   Historically, this game will not be as significant as the Red Sox 23-7 Fenway drubbing of the Indians in the '99 Division Series, a game which set the stage for Pedro Martinez's entry into the Boston sports pantheon. But then again, the Indians game didn't feature ten runs before the first out was recorded, a 19-run lead and what might become the single most hilariously stupid move ever committed on a baseball diamond.

   With the score 25-6 in the top of the ninth, Red Sox pitcher Hector Almonte beaned Marlin Andy Fox ... ultimately retaliation for a shot to the knee, which was "retaliation" for a ball being hit off a Marlin pitcher. Because there's a lot of honor and dignity being flung around in a 19-RUN GAME THREE OUTS FROM COMPLETION.

   I'm just glad that on a February morning long ago, I bought five tickets to a Red Sox-Marlins game. Who knew the history I'd see? Who knew I'd see perhaps the quirkiest game of the 2003 baseball seas ...

   Oh yeah. My tickets are for Saturday. 9-2 loss, here we come!

June 26, 2003 - Driving The Greenside Bunker
   Nine at Nine Ten:

• Rochester GC - Rochester, Mass. •
46, 12 OVER PAR
Birdies: 0 - Pars: 1 - Bogeys: 4 - Others: 4
Fairways Hit: 2 of 6 - Greens In Regulation: 1 of 9 - Putts: 18

   Without droning too long, I was extremely tentative for the first five holes and generally played poorly, but was robbed of a birdie on No. 7. One of those public course specials where the ball is rolling dead center at the cup, then hits some detritus and stops dead in its tracks. Painful.

   The Cooch's World Big Word Of The Day: Today's word is detritus! Defined as "loose material (as rock fragments or organic particles) that results directly from disintegration," anyone who feels the need to debate that the debris in question may not really have resulted directly from disintegration can lick me.

   The Cooch's World Big Word Of The Day gets no small print. Bringing up that this statement is in small print is also worthy of a licking.

   • Well, tonight was the NBA Draft, one of the most unintentionally funny nights in sports. I mean come on ... literally the first image in ESPN's broadcast was of 7'1" Serbian Darko Milicic thumping his chest with his fist.

   Because he's down, homes.

   But there's also something inherently wrong with the whole thing, because the NBA Draft (and the NFL Draft, which also people watch) is essentially a high stakes day at the cattle futures market. Teams are flinging around money for players who could easily be not worth it, either because of actual talent or because they wrap themselves around a telephone pole.

   Take, for example, Travis Outlaw. A 6'9" high schooler from Mississippi, he was drafted with the 23rd overall pick in the first round by the Portland Trail Blazers. That selection will guarantee him an NBA contract for three years -- the fruit of being tabbed in Round 1.

   After the selection, ESPN's Jay Bilas gave his critique ... in as much as the word 'critique' can be used for the ball washing he'd done most of the evening.

"He's really raw, and he's not really basketball literate yet."

   ESPN's Chad Ford went further, if that's possible, in his overall post-draft critique:

"Travis Outlaw may be a lottery pick after a couple of years in school, but right now he's a second-rounder. He can't contribute and won't for years."

   In a world with six billion people, many of whom have played basketball, Travis Outlaw was the 23rd person drafted in 2003.

   It's possible The 3rd Annual Nigerian EMail Conference, as pointed out by Meg, may make more sense.

   And, Not Fitting Into A Narrative: Strom Thurmond is dead. Though the loss for South Carolina is great, the picture seems to suggest Thurmond's face was turning into an oatmeal cookie.

   And it's nice to see a CNN Special Report for a person who is actually dead.

June 25, 2003 - AC Away
   Kreme Konclusion: Reaserch done in the Eastern Europe market has shows what's needed to establish a Krispy Kreme franchise:

"Applicants must have current ownership and operating experience or previous ownership and operating experience of multi-unit food service operations in the market that you desire to develop. Our franchisees must possess the capital sufficient to fund the development of the market. We currently grant franchises on an area development basis. Specifically, our area developers are required to build multiple stores (10 or more) in a market. The minimum net worth requirement is $30 million or $1,000,000 per store to be developed, whichever is greater. For instance, a 15-store market requires a minimum net worth of $30,000,000.

   As there is not a bank currently willing to give me a roughly $29.998 million loan, it's all sour cream anyway.

   Unappreciated Irony: While getting a hedge trim at my local Supercuts, a commercial came on the radio that opened with a woman exclaiming she "doesn't go to one of those dollar haircut parlors," instead choosing to "pay a little more for quality."

   If I'd snickered, do you think either of the stylists in store would have gotten it?

   • Yes, given their silent absorption of the commercial, speaking only about how thick and long my hair was for a balding man, showed that they may very well have been blind to the irony. But there's no doubt they were not quite blind enough to compete in the star-studded, big-money Braille Challenge Invitational!

"The National Braille Challenge Invitational -- which will be held on June 28, 2003, at Braille Institute of America, Inc., in Los Angeles, California -- is an academic competition designed to motivate school-age braille readers to excel in this vital medium. We're asking teachers of the visually impaired from across the nation to encourage their students to participate. Everyone competes in the preliminary round. The top students will then be invited to Los Angeles, California, where they'll match braille skills against peers in the final contest!"

   This came across my desk in the form of a SouthCoast girl earning the right to go west for the final round. Sure, I'm happy for her. I hope she carries the day and wins the lot.

   But at the same time, I'm thinking "Oh look. They're holding a national reading bee."

   Don't misunderstand me ... I realize reading braille is something that's very difficult and confusing, much the same as the idea that braille is needed on drive-up ATMs. But the contest's explanation says it's held "to motivate school-age braille readers to excel in this vital medium."

   Because being able to communicate with humanity isn't motivation enough. Sure, get kids fired up about reading. Then give me a free pizza every week for doing my job properly.

   Anyway, I'm just glad today's Picture Of The Moment fits the day's theme, since even the blind can probably see what's-a goin' on heah:

Smooth move, Ex-Lax.
-- "I knew I should have had you killed."

Alex Popov, left, and Patrick Hayashi look at the famous Barry Bonds home run ball prior to its auction Wednesday in New York. The two met for the first time in October 2001, fighting over the ball San Francisco Giants' Barry Bonds hit for his record 73rd home run. After a bitter two-week trial, a judge determined they should sell the ball and share the proceeds. The ball sold at auction for $450,000 to Todd McFarlane. With all commissions included, the official purchase price will be recorded as $517,500. (AP Photo/Diane Bondareff)

   Whether the two have forged a friendship or not, it's nice to know that they lost a significant portion of their profit on a stupid lawsuit -- a lawsuit whose resolution was the kind of settlement two civil non-moneygrubbers would have made out of human decency.

   Maybe justice isn't blind after all.

June 24, 2003 - Kremed
   'vegas.' Update: After much price checking and researching, it has been decided that the home base for 'vegas.' will be the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino.

   Though it was not the cheapest of the Strip resorts we were considering, Charlie was sold when he heard about their many pools and excellent places to eat. I was sold later, when the hotel volunteered to feature us on their large sign out front.

Coming Soon
-- Coming July 10, for five days only!

   Kudos also to Harrah's, who at $92.50 (plus tax) was the cheapest of the "not crappy" Center Strip resorts, and to New York, New York, who was to be my choice until I saw they'd gotten more bad service reviews than Cooch in the Canaries.

   Timing: Answering a mailed-out membership drive, I sent a check to the MSPCA in February, given my "love animals, but eager to eat animals" stance is too out there for PETA.

   Today, one day after two longtime family pets were put to sleep, I returned to Whale City to find the Winter/Spring 2003 issue of 'Animals,' the official publication of the MSPCA and essentially the first correspondence I've received from them as a member.

   Everything really does happen for a reason, people.

   • Some would have you believe today was a very special day in Massachusetts, because it marks the opening of the state's first-ever Krispy Kreme franchise. I was all set to comment on this too ... then Mark beat me to it.

   Never one to be above plagiarizing, here is something on Mark Coen's site that I absoultely, positively wrote myself:

   "So the Bay State's first Krispy Kreme opened in Medford today. About this I have only one thing to say. I don't get it. I've had Krispy Kremes. I've had them fresh. I've had the "Original Glazed" and a few other flavors besides.

   Woo hoo.

   Part of this comes, of course, from growing up in Dunkin' Donuts land and being very accustomed to their style of doughnuts. But then there's the other part, the major part for me, that unless $50 bills come shooting out when I bite into them, I'm not going to get all that excited about doughnuts. Feel free to take my space in line.

   I will say, though, that I am dismayed at how Dunkin' Donuts caved in and started using the shirt boxes rather than the shoe boxes for their doughnuts. While not iconic to the level of, say, the Coke bottle, there's a certain identification that came from the squat rectangular box that is now gone."

   I do have to disagree with myself in some aspects, because I wrote that stuff above and don't you forget it. I'm not bothered about the shirt box, because Dunkin Donuts chocolate glaze tended to coat everything inside anyway, and chocolate really doesn't go well with, say, jelly. But I also disagree with the subdued level used above. Here, I can actually say.

   It's a fucking donut, or doughnut, or djhkrueosput, people. I wouldn't wait in line for a half-hour to get a haircut, so I'm going to wait three hours for doughnuts?

   Sure, Krispy Kremes are pretty good. As doughnuts go. They're also too small, which is why one can eat a dozen of them and feel as though they've taken in no more than a breath mint, but that's not a point. The point is they're D-O-U-G-H-N-U-T-S. If you didn't eat a dozen a day before a Krispy Kreme opened in your area, you should not start eating a dozen a day just because Krispy Kreme opened in your area.

   And if you did eat a dozen a day before Krispy Kreme opened in your area, I salute you my friend. Because Lord knows you're not getting your own arm up to touch your forehead.

   I have a great deal of respect for their company though, because their business practice of creating a "perceived scarcity," as the Globe outlined it.

"While competitors, including Randolph-based Dunkin' Donuts, advertise extensively on television, Krispy Kreme relies mostly on word-of-mouth advertising, free media publicity, and free samples. Before it enters a new market, the company sends numerous boxes of doughnuts to local media outlets and stages several sampling events, such as those held this week at MBTA stations and near Downtown Crosssing, said spokesman Skip Perham."

"Every store opening, including yesterday's event here, is supervised by executives from the company's Winston-Salem, N.C., headquarters, who make sure that customers have a perfect 'first Krispy Kreme experience,' said Jonathan Janikies, vice president of New England Dough L.L.C., the Cranston, R.I.-based franchisee overseeing Krispy Kreme's expansion into New England."

   It's that kind of business practice that creates articles like this one -- write-ups that make you wonder just how they're filling the custard-filled versions. But I can respect them ... even if they do point out the Northeast has misspelled "doughnuts" for 50 years, are denying me the chance to get rich quick and have made me want to drive 40 miles for a paper hat.

   I want a paper hat.

June 23, 2003 - Skye and Mittens, Mittens and Skye
   Overmilking The "Cash" Cow: Connected to the title of Sunday's update, The History Channel celebrated "Military Monday" today by airing 23 half-hour episodes of Mail Call in a 24-hour period.

   I may have barely watched only a quarter of them, but it's not like it mattered ... it must have been a 13 episode first season, because ten of them were aired twice Monday, with the other three going from midnight to 1:30 Tuesday morning.

   No Excuse: All this Mail Call, however, is not among the reasons that there is no column this week. That has more to do with a dearth of Boston sports news, the inability to come up with a cohesive column about Wimbledon, and the following just sapping any creative flow I could have felt today.

Mittens     Skye

   • I lost two members of my family today. Well ... I should say "we" and "our," because that's just what you do with family things.

   And yes, I do define family as to include pets.

   Mittens was probably about 18 years old, which really defies conventional logic for cat. Given she's the second cat we've had who reached voting age ... apparently we have very good water here. But given that by the end, she was deaf, did nothing but cry to be constantly fed and weighed half her age in ounces, there wasn't as much sadness for her. Considering she was given to us by a bus station employee who found her hiding under some wheels, she more than lived a full life here.

   But that's less clear with Skye, our husky, who had cancer and had developed a tumor from her tongue to her jugular.

   Skye was at least a dozen years old. She'd grown up a sled dog who barked so much, her original owner had her vocal cords removed -- given how she still could yowl, I can't say I blamed him. She had very odd quirks, some practical like sleeping in a ball underneath the snow, others just odd,like sitting with her legs crossed or enjoying the ESPY awards.

   But like most who get it, she didn't deserve to die of cancer. It never fails that most who deserve to die of cancer never get it ... thus the tragic nature of the disease.

   I'm not really writing this for any particular reason. It's just an odd phenomenon, with that being too positive a word ... we take amazing care of our animals, especially our dogs, yet one died young of a spinal injury. Another licked antifreeze dripping from a parked car. And now this, which we likely had nothing to do with, but it stings all the same.

   I suppose the only reason to say all this is just to churn up my own memories as appropriate. And to at least explain to all of you why I seemed more apathetic and pissy than normal today. Even for my standards.

   I'm just glad we don't have any sheep.

   And if you follow that reference, I'll see you in Vegas in the middle of July.

June 22, 2003 - Male Call
   My Major 'Hulk' Plot Quandary: It's not about the CGI graphic usage, bad or overdone acting, or the comic-like use of several split-screens and camera angles at a time. All of that I thought fit the comic style very well, and the casting was glorious -- from the opening cameo of Stan Lee and Luke Ferrigno as security guards to the use of a disheveled Nick Nolte harkening nicely back to his DUI arrest in 2002.

The Adventures of Nick and Nick
-- "Fear not, drunk me. Even O.J. got out of late night monologues eventually."

   My problem was with the pants. When Bruce Banner hulks up, all of his clothes shred ... the kind of thing you'd expect when a person more than triples in size. Yet we're supposed to believe his boxer shorts wouldn't shred too.

   I guess Todd could be right in figuring they were made from a sweatpant-like material, and thus able to stretch considerably. But the whole thing just seems as thinly-veiled and unbelieveable as accusations that our Hooters waitress signed our bill with hearts and "XOXO" because she wanted a bigger tip, and not for the real reason ... because she was in love with us.

   • Yeah, that's right. I went to see the Hulk movie, and followed it with a trip to Hooters for yellow beer, chicken wings and "breast meat." Occasionally The Man threatens to make me turn in my winkie and superior intellect if I don't act like a guy.

   You may have seen one of my other such episodes made into an ad for T-Mobile recently, where after saying "cute" at the gym, I go out for red meat until an unannounced time.

   Of course my version was pulled in most American and international markets, because instead of allowing the commerical to just end, I walked up to spokeswoman Catherine Zeta-Jones-Douglas as sucker-punched her in the jaw.

   Then again, there's no need for anyone to worry about me changing too much. We then came back to my house and watched Dilbert cartoons until turning in sober at 1.

   Never mind the whole ramification of me spending a summer blockbuster thinking about the main character's winkie.

June 21, 2003 - A Bittersweet Week Ending? That's Life.
   • Only two pearls for you all this evening, as its a travel day in Cooch's World.

   There are few things so funny, yet ever so slightly disconcerting than learning that your National Guard-member coworker believes in a national system where he isn't given a paycheck for working, but can request whatever he likes from the government and have it granted in exchange for working. Kind of a "I need a car," you're granted a car system.

   Buffing over a few edges, that's Communism, kids. I can see the headlines on the newsreels now ... "Member of Armed Forces Wistful For Sickle."

   And on a completely different track, have you even wondered why America loves 50 Cent? It's because he pens prose like this, from 21 Questions:

And when you asked me about it I said it wasn't me
Would you believe me? Or up and leave me?
How deep is our bond if that's all it takes for you to be gone?
And always remember girl we make mistakes, to make it up I do whatever it take
I love you like a fat kid love cake

   And they say rap doesn't have a sense of humor.

June 20, 2003 - An Extremely Poor BritPop Primer
   Sullying The Country: In part because of seeing Mark Across America (and the "Matt Across America" that it inspired), and in part because I'll be out of room in the top right frame once I add "vegas." to the mix, I'll soon be unveiling my own "Where Have I Been?"-type page, though mine will have all the things you've come to expect from Cooch's World:

   -- Extreme verbosity.

   -- Excessive graphics and pomp.

   -- A "witty" acronym.

   In that spirit, I've made enough mentions to it that I don't really need to, but for the sake of filling out my ego requirements ...

The fourth in a travelogue series designed to overload my site storage.

Coming July 10 to 14, 2003

   The DFP Alumni Word Of The Day: Today's word is impinge! Defined as "to encroach or infringe, as on another's rights," it was used to describe the rule that Fall River, Mass., policemen and firemen hired after 1987 cannot smoke, in exchange for excellent health benefits. The impetus for the story being a cop angry about his dismissal, which was due to an anonymous letter sent to the force saying that he'd been seen smoking off-duty.

   The DFP Alumni Word Of The Day is a blatant ripoff of Cooch's World's now pretty much dead feature, The Ivy League Word of the Day, which highlights some of the verbiage encountered when editing copy from Ivy-educated reporters. Given uncomfirmed reports that the paper is soon trying out another recent DFPer for a reporter position, this feature could be on the rise.

   And all I have to say is "her," and all the DFPers in the audience know exactly who I'm talking about.

   • Though it didn't really spring forth the sort of discussion that I'd hoped, the natural next question in the music discussion I'm having with myself are bands that I greatly enjoy, but that haven't really made much of a splash in the U.S. Normally, I'd say there's a much smaller number of these kind of bands, but given I could only come up with two off the top of my head the other day, if I used a much smaller number here, I'd actually just be talking about J.K. Rowling.

   The reason this group is, theoretically, much smaller is honestly because I'm quite spoonfed when it comes to music. With a sheepish wave to the surely furrowing brow of Greg, I've never much been able to flesh out bands at any point before they become big on radio and big on TV. I suppose I'm far from alone, but it's rather humbling to think that after all this time, I am taking it up the ass from FM radio and MTV.

   Though I was way into Blur before I think they even had a single released in America, and by the time they got popular here, the stuff that made it big was weaker than any song that got on "The Great Escape", quite possibly the greatest album in my collection.

   And Re: J.K. Rowling, I really hope that sometimes, when she's just sitting around happily wondering about her rise from a struggling single mother to a mutli-cagillionaire, she thinks, "But there would have been so much comedic value to a moaning toilet seat. It would have gone great with the vibrating broomstick."

   Anyhow, to me the best band that you've currently never heard of is Ash, who Coen actually got to see live as they opened for Coldplay in Boston. Though my appreciation for Coldplay has since grown, at the point he went I'd have paid to see Ash, then left and let him use the ticket for CP.

   You'll notice a trend here ... that all of these bands are either U.K.-Ireland based or played there and not here. It shouldn't too hard to figure out the reasons for this, but putting it in simplest terms, I've been there and most of the yous haven't.

   The guy responsible for my Ash fandom is a kid I've since lost touch with ... Huw Stephens *. When I made my three-week trip to Cardiff in the summer of '96, he and Aled Jones split time as my hosts ... as of late 2001, Aled had gone from studying at Oxford to working in Ecuador at a children's center, with the point eventually being that he'd become a doctor. As for Huw, well, we never really kept in touch well, and I haven't heard from him in at least a half-dozen years.

   The obvious reason for including their names being the off chance they Google for themselves at some point and find this. The Radio Wales DJ link to Huw is a pleasant surprise ... when I was there he had me on his hospital radio show, and I almost ended up recording some voice bits for him but never did. The fact that he's since become the youngest presenter EVER on RADIO 1 is well beyond a pleasant surprise, and makes me insanely proud ... in the way one is with a person they haven't talked to in six years.

   The big single when I first heard Ash was Angel Interceptor, and since then they've evolved, but not in the kind of way an Oasis or a Blur have. Those bands have grown to the point their early stuff isn't even connected to what they produce now ... Ash still bases all their song pretty heavily on guitars and Tim Wheeler's voice, and it works damn well.

   Kung Fu is easily the most guitar-heavy song I've ever enjoyed, and odds are pretty good it's on the only album that made hits out of both a kung fu scene extracted and a hidden track of a band's recorded session making themselves vomit and pee.

   And the fact that six years after those were released, they can release a single like There's A Star that's completely different but just as good ... that's saying something.

   Thinking As I Write: Two other bands I was going to mention here, but that I can't really claim I've "followed" via purchasing albums, were also courtesy of Huw: The Divine Comedy and Super Furry Animals. No wonder he's working at Radio 1.

   And they couldn't be more different. While The Divine Comedy is a pseudo-classical style of pop music, almost lounge-like, SFA is ... I guess you could call it very quirky melodic. Least they were in 1996 -- they strike me as a group that could have very easily gone experimental and just ruined everything.

   And really, given I've been at this for pushing two and a half hours, the last two acts are big enough that they may not even qualify. You're thus on your own with Pulp and Robbie Williams.

   * - With all due respect to the Welsh people, read that Radio Cymru page. Never has my statement of "It's not so much a language as it is a spelling accident." from 9/22/02 been proven so succinctly.

June 19, 2003 - Being An Overinformed Consumer
   Admittedly I don't have a LiveJournal, but using the name I would use if I did, this thing taught me something I've only heard a handful of times before.

   I'm a gay pessimist.

   Though really, my father never said anything about pessimism that night. And he was just asking if I was gay ... while he contained roughly a cask of scotch.

   Telling half of family stories is fun!

   On This Date In Cooch History: Two years ago, I wrote this in all seriousness:

"Plus I heard this cool song, a Smash Mouth cover of the Monkees 'I'm a Believer.'"
-- Admittedly, I was subsiting entirely on nectarines and dinner rolls, but still.

   • After spending two days examining prices and reading hotel reviews for what we'll likely just be calling "vegas.", I've come to a critical conclusion. You can only read so many reviews and be stymied in searching for so many offers before your head decides that every hotel in Las Vegas is awful.

   Or to be more specific: Mandalay Bay stinks with their fake tropical smell. The bellhops at Luxor are mean. Excalibur is like Disney World, only older and shittier. The garden rooms at the Tropicana are dumps. San Remo is too far away from everything. The roller coaster at New York, New York is too loud. At Monte Carlo, the beds are hard and the pipes and rooms are too noisy. The rooms in the Boardwalk look much older than they really are. The MGM Grand is way too big and way too crowded. The buffet at the Aladdin will give you food poisoning. The staff at Paris are impolite, and you have to ask for toilet paper. If you win too much money at Bally's, they'll kick you out of the hotel. The people at the Bellagio are snooty and don't care about security. If you're not a high roller, the Caesar's people treat you like crap. There's too much traffic noise at the Barbary Coast. The Flamingo is a dump and has nothing on a Motel 6. The air in the Imperial Palace is awful. Harrah's has a outdoor band that keeps people up until 3 in the morning. The Mirage is dark and dated. Treasure Island will nickel and dime you to death. Casino Royale is dirty.

   And the Venetian ... lousy free drink swill!

   At first, I was suprised by all of this. But then I remembered, "Hey, people are dumb, after all." Then combine that with the fact that everyone thinks they deserve special treatment in a city that entertains 17 million people a day ... it's a regular recipe for disaster, with a liberal dash of hookers.

June 18, 2003 - The Sounds Of Not-Silence
   Fan Mail: Sure, he's my pal. But Gorm can also gush. And around here, gushing gets you comps.

   Of course around here, comps means spam. But that's a whole other story.

Subject: Regarding Your Clemens Article
Date: Wed, 18 Jun 2003
From: Justin Gorman
To: jcouture@s-t.com

   Very well done. Couldn't have put it better myself. Of course, I'm not being paid to write.

-- It remains funny he should mention that, because even if I'm not
being paid to write, I do end up getting paid to eat pretzel sticks.

   Fan Male: Today I got a mailing inviting me to subscribe to Playboy, where the "most beautiful women in the world" were waiting for "ME!"

   Given my own personal tendencies, which tend toward being afraid of prostitutes and hookers, I have to wonder how I got on the Playboy mailing list. And given the only other things I get for actual mail, it can only mean one thing.

   Playboy is buying college loan mailing lists.

   • There are plenty of things out there in the universe that are designed to make us think. Like how the Caesar's Palace people have four resorts built across America, located in mega-tourist spot Las Vegas, east coast mecca Atlantic City, relaxing spot Lake Tahoe ... and Bridgeport, Indiana.

   Music is often an area that's open to this kind of ponderance. Craig Barker's latest tournament has come to an end, with The Beatles winning the title of "The Best Band Ever In The Universe" over R.E.M.

   The Beatles have a natural advantage in events like these, because their music actually covered so many different genres, odds are pretty good that there's going to be something for everyone. Or more accurately, if there's no Beatles song out there that you even kinda enjoy, you're probably legally deaf.

   Occasionally, the voters in Craig's tournaments complain about the demographics favored in said events -- for example, the demographics that put an R.E.M. in the final and put a James Brown and The JB's out in the first round. But really, no poll is ever going to overcome the demographics of the voters, since really ... aren't they part of the point?

   I stopped voting about midway through the last tournament because, really, I just don't have the kind of fervent love for music that keeps my interest in voting every day. In the car, I'll pretty much listen to anything from NPR to rap, and you're talking to a guy who keeps calling himself an Oasis fan even though their last new album worth what it's printed on came out six years ago.

   Though I suppose you could fudge and say this from '98 or this from '01, but I don't want to confuse people into thinking current Oasis doesn't blow ass. But I digress.

   The whole contest did get me thinking about bands and long-term popularity, most specifically in the circle of bands that are universally acclaimed, but for whom I just couldn't be bothered to care. Not so much bands that I hate as it is bands whose rampant popularity just boggles my mind.

   Topically enough, I start with R.E.M. Admittedly, I was a latecomer to their catalogue, and have definitely grown to appreciate songs like Everybody Hurts, which I hated with a passion when it first came out. That said, I've come a lot closer to buying The B-52's Cosmic Thing than I ever have to an R.E.M. album.

   The only R.E.M. song I can say I truly like is Bang and Blame off of Monster, which critically probably isn't even in the top three off that album. R.E.M. has never had a song that I'v eenjoyed as much as, say, Evanescence's Bring Me To Life, which extensive driving has proven I'll listen to even if static is drowning it out for the most part.

   Honestly, a lot of it has to do with Michael Stipe, who started taking on the look of a long-term hospital patient at some point after Losing My Religion. It seems to have abated, but there was a point in the mid-to-late '90s I convinced myself he was harvesting excess neck skin and selling it on the black market.

   The biggest band to fall under this phenomenon, though, is Pearl Jam. I say Oasis hasn't released a decent album in six years ... to me, Pearl Jam hasn't in a full dozen. They've had some good songs since then, don't get me wrong, but Ten was just so complete an album, they really had nowhere to go but down.

   There's a kid at the S-T who works in the sports department who'll be seeing Pearl Jam five times this summer. Five times in one summer. Having seen Barenaked Ladies twice in six months a couple years back, it's pretty safe to say five's a little much.

   I suppose it could justs be a result of where they came from. When I think of Seattle bands, it goes something like this:

Nirvana - Kurt Cobain - Heart Shaped Box
Stone Temple Pilots - Scott Weiland - Interstate Love Song
Pearl Jam - Eddie Vedder - Ticketmaster

   I suppose the message could also be I want bands that play music, and not bands that take stands. This probably isn't a good precedent to set, but so be it. If I want commentary on international affairs, I don't read the sports page.

   And speaking of bands that take a stands, now for the Obligatory Metallica Bashing:

   The song St. Anger, off St. Anger, would make a great Track #7 or something ... good enough for an album, but the kind of song that a small ercentage of the fan base would build a cult following around. By making it the first single, you're essentially saying, "Here. This is the best we've got."

   And if that's the case ... well, let's just say Metallica won't have to worry about a lot of people trading their music online anymore. There are no real set rules in music, but if there were, one of them would definitely be, "Do not abruptly change a song's tempo multiple times just for the effect of seeming extreme."

June 17, 2003 - Optical Breakdown
   I lied. There will be no Picture Of The Moment today.

   Because the Royal Ascot is so much fun, there will be PictureSSSSS! Of The Moment!

Royal Asshats
-- Do I really need say anything when there's Foxxy Cleopatra on the left,
and a woman wearing a pyramid on her head on the right?

Left: A race-goer wears a hat covered in fake butterflies in the royal enclosure at Ascot, on the first day of the Royal Ascot horse race Tuesday. The annual royal race meeting is a highlight in the royal calendar and social season. (AP Photo/John Stillwell)

Right: Tracy Rose wearing a flamboyant creation, accompanied by an unidentified companion, arrives at Ascot, England, for the first day of the Royal Ascot horse racing meet. (AP Photo/John Stillwell, PA)

   Course as well and good as this all was for rich people, today in Britain there was only one hat the majority of the populace gave a crap about.

The Real Madrid
-- Well, there goes my lingering Man U. fandom.

   And if you have to ask who this is, you wouldn't care that he's going to Madrid anyway. Though you have to admit ... my Photoshop skills are amazingly mediocre.

   • Four pictures in one update? Sure, it's a little much. But I'd like to at least remember the moment when I swore off glasses forever ... for the second time.

Vision is important.
-- Washing glasses, washing glasses, washing glasses ... pop.

   You know, nothing gets a person on that "Let's go talk to the HR head about the optical plan" train like having to Scotch tape their glasses back together in order to go to work.

June 16, 2003 - After The Ascot
   I'm Warning You Now: There will be a Picture Of The Moment on Tuesday, given it's the day of the Royal Ascot, where all the rich people of Britain wear stupid hats and celebrate being rich and British with a day at the horse track.

   Course really, the shame in the whole thing is not that they feel the need to parade themeselves this way, but that they don't call the race the Royal Dickey. Hee hee ... I said dickey.

Greatness Is Great, But Exciting Sells
-- I must admit, the ending to this week's tripe is more my editor's creation than mine. Given I was actually in the office, we kind of jointly crafted it for the greater good of you, the reader.

   So wallow in that good, well, because it's good.

   • The ESPYs are back for the tenth time, and this time have decided to let the fans vote on just who wins the coveted, originally Thermos-like awards. This is, of course, a wonderful idea, because there's no one in the world more knowledgeable about sports than fans -- a fact regularly proven by Red Sox fans, who continue to boo Roger Clemens vociferously for being Roger Clemens every time he returns to Fenway Park,then get angry when he refuses to go into the Hall of Fame as a Red Sox player.

   A close second in the "fan proof" competition is people who call Sports Radio WEEI with trade proposals for the Red Sox or Celtics, most of which you wouldn't even be able to make in a video game. Among my recent personal favorites is Astros reliever Octavio Dotel (5-2, 1.63 ERA) for John Burkett (4-3, 5.74 ERA), the logic being Burkett is a "good National League pitcher."

   Ah yes, the "logic."

   But nothing fails to have a silver lining, and that's why we list here the good things about the ESPY awards:

   1) Their airing and subsequent replay prevents ESPN Classic from airing Roger Clemens's World Series clinching game in 1999.

   That's it.

   And In Non-Sports News: Harry Potter books have been stolen, allowing many Britons the chance to black black market prices for a book they could just buy in like five days. Burglars are funny that way.

June 15, 2003 - Way Too Trivial Pursuit
   Some may have wondered where yesterday's update came from. Well, about all I can tell you is the worst thing a person can do is remind themselves how bad they have it ... because really, it could always be one hundred times worse.

   Full Disclosure: On a completely unrelated note, I feel it fair to say that all week, I told anyone who'd listen that the Astros would sweep their weekend series with the Red Sox. As those who are baseball fans know, the Astros won exactly zero of the three games.

   • There's a kind of idyllic silence at the night in the country ... as much as the Springfield suburbs is the country. The sky is a sort of crystal blue right above the treeline, the crickets are the loudest thing you hear and the cool breeze is the strongest thing you feel.

   It's really the antithesis of Whale City ... the kind of environment where it's not surprising to have someone knock on your window at 1:30 in the morning trying to bum cigarettes.

   Really, he was rather nice about it, considering how solidly the car in the intersection nearby brushed him off. Course, that didn't stop me from thinking he was going to finish with, "Oh yeah ... and give me your fucking money."

   But this sleepy burb has the problem of being, well, sleepy. And it's a kind of old-people sleepy ... 10 p.m. and it's time to crash. There has never been things to do out in Western Mass., but the problem only surfaced when I stopped being around on the few nights when the things to do were done.

   Course this is probably a moot discussion, given soon most of us will further spread like seeds in the wind. And there'll be those moments of wherever we settle next ... the honeymoon of everything seeming fresh and new, and all the same activities in different places seeming much more fun than they ever seemed here.

   Really, we just need to better adopt drinking, poker and golf into our social lives. I knew there was a negative to being a nerd collective.

   What's funny is just a few weeks ago, The Republican printed a 64-page tabloid about all the wonderful things that are out there to do in Western Massachusetts. Most of them are excellent ideas ... that half of my circle of friends would immediately veto.

   And In Non-Introspective News: Goth people are losers.

June 14, 2003 - "Simple" "Solution"
   Those Wacky British: I'll just quote here ... "U.S. pop star Britney Spears is to get a pair of inflatable, throbbing breasts that will pulsate in time to her dancing."

   There are some ledes a writer just can't improve upon.

   • I had a dream.

"Bush hooked his first drive into a riverbank. He found his stroke on his second try. His father called the long, straight second shot a 'good ball!'"
-- Deep insight from the reporter. Regardless, I like having a president that's also a golfer. I just wish fate would let me golf with my dad as well.

   I suppose it's nobody's fault but his that Dad hurt his arm trying to start the lawnmower the other day. These kind of things are the Couture way, you see. But that's not the point ... the whole thing got me thinking about what I really want in a president. Not what I'm hoping to get out of a candidate for president as forwarded by the major political parties, but the kind of person I would actively get excited about.

   This is subject to change, given the ebb and flow of presidential-type news, but right now, here we are.

   It can be man or woman, Democrat, Republican, Timesizer, black, white, green, I don't care. All they have to say is, when asked how they plan on the solving the problem of violence in the Mideast, "I plan on letting them blow each other up."

   Without getting too deep into politics, I just feel like there reaches a point where you have to throw up your hands and say, "Fine. Have it your way." It's kind of like if you had a kid whom you kept threatening to take toys away from. You can only keep threatening for so long before Junior realizes ... "Hey, I can keep doing this forever."

   Is it simplistic? Yes. Is is right? Probably not. But is it probably what the majority of the American people want? You're damn right it is.

   And that's why this is a country Jerry Springer feels like he can be in the national government of.

June 13, 2003 - Almost Valid Litigation? Wassupwitdat?!
   On May 31, I discussed a picture from a graduation party in which I looked dumb, but wasn't yet available. It is now ... there and here as the Picture Of The Moment:

Unflappable Under Pressure
-- Note how much whiter my teeth are. And his mom's a dentist, kinda!

   There's probably a good reason I can't get to Brian's image gallery from the Whale City dreamhouse. An actual techie probably even knows what it is.

   Pageant Update ... Sort Of: As I discussed at length last week, Bristol County plays host to 10 of the 22 pageants that qualify young ladies for the Miss Massachusetts competition.

   Comparatively, Bristol County plays host to three Jiffy Lube Service Centers.

   • Truly heartwarming to see Roger Clemens saluting the Yankee fans tonight after his 300th victory and 4,000th strikeout. After all, those Yankee fans had been there since the bitter middle, watching him earn 67 of those wins and 756 of those K's.

   But enough about him and his repetitively named kids -- Kody, Kassidy, Ketamine and Krysanthemum. There's lawsuits to discuss!

   Spike Lee has earned a temporary injunction against Viacom because their new name for "The New TNN," Spike TV, is too close to the name Spike Lee. He thinks they're ripping him off, and now he's paying Johnny Cochran to prove it.

   The irony in this being the main reason anyone watches The New TNN, softcore wrestling, just recently ended a similar lawsuit with the World Wildlife Fund, who had apparently gotten sick of children doing elbow drops on panda bears out of confusion.

   As much as I'd love rank this up there with Wednesday's "Three Million For Koosh-In-Mouth Disease," the tsetse fly of modern film has a point, albeit a likely unintended one. Somehow I just don't believe the first thing network execs trying to cater to rednecks thought was, "Hmm, let's name the network after a successful black guy." Though really, maybe the story here is that Spike Lee someday has plans to create his own network and call it Spike TV.

   Think of the possibilities. Spike Joint TV could have the national broadcasting contract for the Knicks, a hilarious cartoon in which Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. fight crime, and air Bamboozled three times a week. In a 500-channel world, how has this not happened yet? Shouldn't we be at the point where every major performer gets their own network?

   I want my, I want my, I want my Snipes TV!

   No, actually, that isn't the story, nor is my having to scrap the plans of chronicling the last hours of TNN, the network on which we cut our teeth with The 700 Club, but is now where we turn for the latest news from Trinidad & Tobago.

   The story is that the world will have to wait just a little longer for Stan Lee's Striperella -- a cartoon heroine voiced by Pamela Anderson who's a stripper in her spare time.

   Yee haw.

June 12, 2003 - As Odd As The New Jewel Video
   Live From The Wareham, Mass., Cop Logs:

Parkwood Drive, 9:00 a.m.: Out with Board of Health for a lot of cats.

Dunkin' Donuts, 11:32 a.m.: Disturbance between man and woman in parking lot -- man hit woman's motor vehicle with a board. Peace restored.

Barlow Avenue, 7:48 p.m.: Caller reports his girlfriend is trapped inside her vehicle because of the loose dogs. Numerous complaints have been made about the dogs.

Lighthouse Texaco, 8:26 p.m.: Customer tried to pay for gas with scratch ticket, unable to honor it. Promised to come back with money, but hasn't returned yet.

   And this was only two days.

   • Indulge me for a moment, because there's something I really need to get out. Just thinking it and knowing it in my head is wholly non-theraputic.

   I really miss Meg.

   Thank you.

   But sadly, because I have to be up early Friday, this quote is all you're getting:

"Kent, coming off the field, was like, 'What's the deal?'
I was like, 'Dude, we just no-hit them!'"
-- Astros left fielder Lance Berkman on second basemen Jeff Kent, who didn't know his team had no-hit the Yankees until he was told after the game.

   Jeff Kent was playing in the game and didn't notice, at any point, that his team was no-hitting their opponents.

   Jeff Kent is making a shade under seven million dollars to play baseball this year.

   Yeah, I'm going to sleep now.

June 11, 2003 - No, But With Nonsense
   Defining Irony: Part of a current run, here's a piece of Boston.com's front page at press time, with conveniently placed red boxes to ruin the joke.

-- There's nothing as sad as a fat baby ... except for seeing people cry.

   Great Moments In "Should've Made That Bet" History: The first quarter over/under line in tonight's Nets-Spurs game was an absurd 45.5, a number that, in the first three games of the series, the teams hadn't even come within nine of.

   Course, that was a fact I didn't discover until after the game had begun.

   The teams ended up combining for 34 points, lowest so far in the series.

   • First, the obligatory chatter on the baseball events of the day.

   To me, the story was and is not that the New York Yankees were no-hit. The story is that Houston went through six pitchers getting it done, obliterating the old record for that.

   That record had been set Sept. 28, 1975, by the Oakland A's (Vida Blue, Glenn Abbott, Paul Lindblad and Rollie Fingers presiding), then matched by the Baltimore Orioles on July 13, 1991, via Bob Milacki, Mike Flanagan, Mark Williamson and Gregg Olson.

   Completing the thought, the 1975 Oakland A's went 98-64 and won the AL West, 25.5 games better than the last place California Angels that they no-hit. The '91 Orioles went 67-95, but sadly they were not the 1988 Orioles, who became one of my all-time favorites by opening the season 0-17 and going 1-23 for March.

   But enough sports talk. I much prefer discussing stupid lawsuits and the destruction of America because of them.

Audience Member Sues Rosie O'Donnell's Show
by Samuel Maull, Associated Press

   NEW YORK -- A 71-year-old Westchester County woman has sued the producers of Rosie O'Donnell's defunct talk show for $3 million, saying she was hit in the mouth with a hard rubber ball while she was in the studio audience.

   Lucille DeBellis, of Hartsdale, N.Y., said she was at a taping of "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" in Manhattan on Nov. 29, 2001, when a show staffer used a slingshot-type device to fire an object called a "cuzball" -- or Koosh Ball -- into the audience during the warm-up.

   DeBellis, invited to the show by a friend who had tickets, says in papers filed in Manhattan's state Supreme Court that the ball struck her "squarely in the mouth, causing her to suffer pain and swelling, as well as bleeding in her gums."

   DeBellis' lawyer, William J. Dealy, said Wednesday that by the time his client arrived home, the injury had worsened and she had swelling and lumps in her mouth. He said a doctor gave her steroids, antibiotics and cortisone injections to reduce the lesions.

   DeBellis' physical discomfort and embarrassment about her appearance caused her to turn down holiday parties and other social events and spend the 2001 Christmas season in her home, court papers say.

   "Furthermore, the pain and soreness around plaintiff's mouth adversely affected plaintiff's relationship with her boyfriend," court papers say.

   They say she was forced to live with the lumps on her lips and mouth for months.

   DeBellis' lawsuit names the show's producer, Warner Bros. Television, its affiliated companies AOL Time Warner Inc. and Turner Broadcasting System Inc., and two unknown individuals as defendants. O'Donnell is not a defendant.

   A Warner spokeswoman and vice president, Kate Chilton, did not immediately return a telephone call for comment.

   Dealy said DeBellis was one of New York City's first female police officers. He said she was an officer from 1957 to 1967, when she left to raise a family.

   "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" went off the air in 2002.

   I'm not a lawyer, nor am I well versed in doling sympathy to complete strangers, but if your lawsuit description includes something like "DeBellis' physical discomfort and embarrassment about her appearance caused her to turn down holiday parties and other social events and spend the 2001 Christmas season in her home," I'm going to metaphorically Koosh Ball you in your stupid mouth.

   Three million dollars for a Koosh Ball in the mouth, and she didn't even lose a tooth. What a wonderful world.

June 10, 2003 - On And On And On And On And On
   Pageant Update: Melissa Silva of Fall River, 2003's Miss Southern Mass, won the Miss Massachusetts crown on Saturday night. Erika Ebbel, Miss SouthCoast, was first runner-up, and though Miss Cambridge Monique Jones was second runner-up, don't think that's the end of Bristol County's dominance ... she's from Taunton, 20 miles north of here.

   Though I remain confused why this picture of Miss Mass looks so much different than this picture, I'm sure she gives the state an excellent chance in Miss America. Speaking to our Sunday editor just minutes after she won, she made this solemn promise to the people of the commonwealth.

"I'm going to work really, really, really hard
to represent Massachusetts in the Miss America Pageant."
-- The writer even hinted that she may have used a fourth 'really'

   • I suppose I should be a little more lenient ... the girl was very excited, as she'd just won the state title, and people do act out of character in such a scenario. As evidenced by Walter Levy, who got to call the bottom of the seventh of tonight's Red Sox game after winning a Samuel Adams contest.

   Sam Adams has a long history of contests giving regular people a real shot at fame. To name just a few they were involved with, Project Greenlight allowed unknown directors a chance for their work to be seen, their short fiction contest gives a writer a chance to go to an improvement workshop, and their Sex for Sam contest lets radio talk stars experience famous unemployment for the second time.

   Walter was lucky in the sense that, during the half inning he got to call, the Red Sox scored three runs. He was unlucky in the sense that, given nerves and seeming to think he needed to fill every second of airtime with inane banter, he sounded like an auctioneer on crystal meth.

   Walter's biggest porbelm, even more so than nerves, is he seemed to misunderstand that on a TV broadcast, the viewers can actually view what's going on. Radio needs the kind of commentary he was delivering -- what's on the field, where players were positioned, and the like. TV doesn't.

   TV also need palate-cleanising silence, which, and I can not stress this enough, Levy was unwilling to provide. It's as though, knowing he had only one half-inning of time on the air, he felt he still had to provide nine innings worth of information.

   The things I found noteworthy while watching, from the mouth of "Don't Call Me Steve or Eugene" Levy:

   • That it was 7-2, that the Red Sox were behind 7-2, that the Sox were down 7-2 ... it was like Ted Sarandis doing a BC basketball radio call, reporting the score over and over, even if it hadn't changed since he last said it.

   • Reporting that Tino Martinez had strained a hamstring earlier in the game, Walter started to say "strained hamsteak."

   • That it was a beautiful night for baseball, a beautiful night at the ballpark, a beautiful night at Fenway Park, and that there was nowhere else you'd ever want to be (so much so, it needed to be said three times).

   • Walter is giving the scoring on outs, because the seven people who are at home scoring games from their couch need that kind of assistance.

   • Reciting Woody Williams stats and his quality over and over, stressing both that he was really good and listing the other pitchers he was as good as, especially the ones you have never, ever heard of. Walter was amazingly focused on discussing Woody Williams, which would have been nice if it was the Cardinals broadcast I was watching.

   And especially considering he was pulled before the inning ended.

   • His initial home run call, on what ended up being a Nomar wall ball, "Is it????????? Off the wall!" When he actually got to call a home run, he used the Chris Berman tested "Back goes Drew ... back, back, back, back, GONE!"

   Explaining the triple to the crowd, Walter said it was "Nomar's fifth triple in about the last week or so, I think."

   • On a shot into the right field corner, which admittedly is hard to see from the press box area, "It's a fair ball, or is it a foul, I don't know." I've never been on TV, but really, "I don't know" is never a good segue.

   Really, I'd have to say my biggest complaints, though, were pretty basic.

   His calling every pitch thrown as though it was radio. I can see it was a ball outside ... you don't have to stop the flow of another discussion to tell me about it.

   Calling the game as though no Red Sox fan had ever seen baseball before this half-inning, explaining the past history and Red Sox history of every player as they batted. Some of that is fine, but more as filler in a 17-1 slugfest.

   But really, enough rehash. I'm not going to sit here and say I think I could have done better than Walter ... no one can blame him for being nervous, and he should be commended on coming in with so many facts ready for public consumption. Given the arena he was granted, he did do a halfway decent job.

   I'm going to sit here and say I know I could have done better than Walter. Because damn, silence is golden.

June 9, 2003 - The Poor, Poor Disney Corp.
   Steam Iron-y: Original American Idol Kelly Clarkson's latest single is called Miss Independent, and opens with the lines:

Miss Independent
Miss Self-Sufficient
Miss Keep Your Distance
Miss Unafraid
Miss Out Of My Way
Miss Don't Let A Man Interfere, no
Miss On Her Own
Miss Almost Grown
Miss Never Let A Man Help Her Off Her Throne

   Not only is the song co-written, one of its three writers is James 'Rhett' Lawrence, an openly male man. The third member of the writing trio, Christina Aguilera, also wrote the song Infatuation for her own "Stripped" album.

   That song includes the lines:

He comes from a foreign place
An island far away
Intrigues me with every move
Til' I'm breathless, I'm helpless

I am full blood boricua
Reads the tattoo on his arm
He tells me, mami I need ya
And my heartbeat pumps so strong
Getting lost in el ritmo
He whispers te quiero, te quiero
I begin to give in with no hesitation
Can't help my infatuation

   Any more of this and "Hypocritically Speaking" will be CW's newest feature.

Grady Could Learn From His Old Boss
-- Grady Little and Jimy Williams ... Celebrity Jeopardy waiting to happen.

   • Know what was great about tonight's Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Finals?

   That it's over.

   Never mind that all seven games went to the home team, and that this was played in Jersey. This game was exactly why I don't enjoy Devils hockey -- not so much oppressive defense, but just a style of play that just entirely prevents the sort of speed and rush game that makes hockey exciting.

   With it 2-0 going into the third period, the game was over. Hell, when the Devils first scored, the game was over. They could have played seven periods and the Ducks wouldn't have scored. I can respect New Jersey's play ... just don't ask me to watch it.

   And as for the New Jersey fans booing the choice of Jean-Sebastien Giguere as playoff MVP, when he had single-handedly dispatched Detroit and Minnesota in this playoff year, that's just about what I'd expect from a state that has turned Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen into musical deities.

   Seeing him cry after the game ... though it made one person in group heckle him because "He makes a million dollars anyway," I thought it was great to see that there are some players who are still moved by the pursuit of a championship.

   And really, it's not like I could expect any better from someone who spent most of the night talking about going home and how she wasn't wearing any makeup.

June 8, 2003 - Porn and Basketball
   Hypocritically Speaking: Let's say you're a guy who owns a closet full of pornography. Literally. You have a room in your house where you hang out, do your various "thing"s, and in that room is a closet containing many graphic materials.

   So when you say you won't go to a Hooters, a trip more for chicken wings than to look at overtanned fleshies, it because you really just don't like grease-based cooking? Or is it because it's like finding out the chicks in all the videos can actually see through the television screen and are watching you ... um ... hit the speedbag?

   This hypothetical hypocritical brought to you by Western Massachusetts. WMass ... we're not rednecks yet, but damn if that line ain't fuzzin'.

    You can say what you want about whether the girls of t.A.T.u. really are living an alternative lifestyle, but they do deserve a heaping scoop of "props." Performing at the MTV Movie Awards before a backdrop of fake tabloid healines, they brought out about 300 girls who, at the end of their gyrating performance, stripped down to white T-shirts and underpants and started making out with each other.

   Relative to a band's musical talent, this entire phenomenon is the music industry's greatest marketing achievement since they had moderate success making calypso music into American popular culture.

   • In the interests of keeping this not boring, you want to know what's wrong with the sports world?

   The New Jersey Nets, who are playing in the NBA Finals this year, will barely break even for the year profit-wise ... essentially only because they got three extra home dates during this latest series. The Dallas Mavericks, who won 60 games and had the most successful season in their history, will end up losing between $35 and $40 million dollars.

   Meanwhile the Los Angeles Clippers, who appreared in the NBA Draft Lottery for the seventh straight season last month, will end up being one of the five most profitable franchises in the league for the 2002-03 season. Plus they'll receive refunds for keeping their salary below the league's luxury tax.

   Sure, they're facts I ripped off of SportsCenter. But they're pleading for discussion ... and since this may end up being my column, I'll leave that to you for now.

June 7, 2003 - Pretty Cool For A Guy In A Pink Hat
   Worst ... Win ... Ever: I'm all for the Red Sox pulling out games they probably didn't deserve to win, but at no point in any professional baseball contest should it take SIX HOME RUNS before a team is able to take the lead. Ever. Ever. Ever.

   And that's even before you consider they were playing the BREWERS.

   And Horse Racing Sucks Again: There has now not been a Triple Crown winner in 25 years, as Funny Cide became the ninth horse in that time to win the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, but lose the Belmont Stakes. Thus, headlines of "Empire Taker," "Not Very Funny" and "Triple Frown" will rule the Sunday sports pages.

   But what's really important about the Belmont? That my pick of Ten Most Wanted to place, made mere minutes before post time, won back all but one of the dollars I lost at the Derby.

   Cooch's World: Am I awesome or what?

   • It was then-Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart who, when asked to define obscenity, said "I don't know how to define it, but I know it when I see it." Well Potsy, am I ever with you.

   From page three of Saturday's Boston Herald:

Calling good taste ...

CONNECTED: A cellular phone customer crosses Boylston Street yesterday. A court ruling clears the way for switching phone service without having to change phone numbers. (Staff Photo by Ted Fitzgerald)

   Let's critique, shall we?

   • I'll be the first to admit I don't know fashion from Freihofer's, but come on. That bag totally doesn't go with those pants! Jesus, nothing could go with those pants! Somewhere, the back side of a velour sofa is missing an oversized swatch.

   • I'm all for eye protection, and making sure harmful UV rays strike only the pasty skin of attractive people, not the rods and cones of those who cheirsh their vision. But people are supposed to wear sunglasses ... eyewear that, while it can vary in style and shape, should retain some set of basic parameters.

   Or to make my point a little blunter, windshields are for cars, not for people.

   • Though it's not exactly specific, is this not just trendy distilled to its very core? I mean, help me out here. If she were wearing flip-flops instead of boots, I could have superimposed her on an EXPRESS catalog and none of you would have been the wiser.

   Course maybe I'm being harsh. I suppose she could have been on the way to a casting call for Legally Blonde 3: President Dude!

June 6, 2003 - The Pomp And The Other Part
   • Tonight and tomorrow, Massachusetts' cutest and most able to wave are competing for the crown of Miss Massachusetts, a fact I know because last year's Miss Mass, Melanie Beth Correia, was a graduate of New Bedford HS ... thus making it a viable story.

   She finished in the Top Ten in the Miss America Pageant ... a fact which elicited relief from our reporter that night, because it made for both a feel-good story (as it's the first time a Miss Mass made it that far since 1365) and allowed him to stop watching the pageant before too long.

   Twenty-two girls between the ages of 17-23 are competing for Miss Massachusetts 2003 at Bristol Community College in Fall River, presumably a cross-section of the most talented and most perky from all around the state.


   Upon seeing our story on the pageant, and a listing of just what pageants these girls had one to get here, my mind got to churning ... and that can never lead to any good.

   The picture featured in that story is taken every year ... the guy who owns that New Bedford diner has a nationally-syndicated radio show, and has all the contestants on every year. I know this because last year, as I was exploring the city in my first week down here, I drove by as they were taking the 2002 picture.

   When it appeared in the paper the next day, it did answer the "Why the hell are all those girls all dressed up and wearing crowns?" question I mulled overnight. But anyway, back to my conspiracy theories.

   Twenty-two pageants qualify ladies for Miss Mass. Two, Miss Commonwealth and Miss Bay State, theoretically cover pretty much the whole state.

   Five cover specific regions of the state -- Miss Collegiate Area, Miss Eastern Mass, Miss Southern Mass, Miss SouthCoast and Miss Western Mass.

   Five are county competitions -- Miss Greater Berkshire, Miss Middlesex County, Miss Worcester County, Miss Bristol County and Miss Norfolk County.

   The other ten are city/town/local titles -- East Longmeadow, Cambridge, Greater Attleboro, Taunton, Boston, New Bedford, Apponagansett Bay, Freetown, Greater Holyoke and Fall River.

   Or to put it graphically, look at this graphic I made in twenty minutes:

* Miss Eastern Mass and Miss Southern Mass contested in North Attleboro. *
* Miss Greater Berkshire contested in Pittsfield. *
* Miss Worcester County contested in Worcester. *
* Other county competitions assumed to be held in county seat. *
( Plymouth Co. -- Brockton; Middlesex Co. -- Lowell; Bristol Co. -- New Bedford)
* Miss Western Mass and three state pageants not represented. *

   So OK, 11 of the 22 available spots are contested in or very close to Bristol County, and the state pageant is held in Fall River. That's 50 percent of the spots. Probably be fine ... if Bristol County didn't have just 8 percent of the state's population.

   There are three things we can wean from this:

   1) While I can't say for sure about Franklin County, given the Western Mass pageant could be held in Greenfield or something, there's probably a good reason the most famous person ever to come out of Essex County is noted rock star Rob Zombie.

   It's because only ugly people live in Haverhill and Gloucester. Well, ugly or unwilling to compete in the Swimsuit Competition.

   2) With no disrespect to Brian Lees or Mark Howland, these pageants are the most pull the towns of Freetown (pop. 8,500) and East Longmeadow (pop. 14,100) will ever have in the state of Massachusetts.

   But most importantly ...

   3) If you're an attractive young female, there's only one place you need to be ... SouthCoast!

   Someone ought to make a civic pride campaign out of that.

June 5, 2003 - Sin City Countdown
   The DFP Alumni Word Of The Day: Today's word is rendition, but not used like you know it could be! Defined as "surrender," not so much as "the act or result of rendering," it was used in the context of the three New Hampshire prison escapees who were recaptured today in Plymouth, Mass., proving that people will go to great lengths to get the hell out of New Hampshire.

   The DFP Alumni Word Of The Day is a blatant ripoff of Cooch's World's wrinkled, leathery and underutilized feature, The Ivy League Word of the Day, which highlights some of the verbiage encountered when editing copy from Ivy-educated reporters. Its use today is my way of saying welcome to the Standard-Times newest reporter, Ray Henry, with whom I worked at the dingiest little newspaper in Boston.

   And if that learning wasn't enough for you, absorb this. The three batting average leaders in the American League (going into Thursday's games) were Boston's Bill Mueller, Texas's Hank Blalock and Baltimore's Melvin Mora.

   That's Bill Mueller, Hank Blalock and Melvin Mora ... three gentlemen who have never even sniffed an All-Star Game, and who your casual sports fan wouldn't know if they were handing out free peanuts and sausages.

   • Friends, this is why we have metal detectors in government buildings.

Wild Bull Storms Yemeni Parliament, Injures Three

   SAN'A, Yemen -- A raging bull stormed the opening session of the Yemen's newly elected legislature Saturday and injured three people.

   The bull's owners had intended to slaughter it as a protest against one of the lawmakers but the animal broke free as it was being unloaded from a van in front of the building.

   With armed security and parliamentary staff in chase, the bull barged into the legislative chamber where hundreds of lawmakers were sitting, then ran back out onto the street, where it charged into a Russian tourist walking by at the time. She was hospitalized in intensive care.

   A parliamentary employee and a child also were injured in the rampage, which ended with police shooting the bull.

   The legislative session, the first since last month's elections, was postponed until Sunday.

   And if that wasn't odd enough, go read Graham Hays tell me I'm afraid of the WNBA. I'd be with him ... if his "fear" was in the context of all other sports ceased to exist, and the only things left to watch on TV were spelling bees and women's professional basketball.

June 4, 2003 - The Fireworks'll Be A Month Late
   Salt In A Liberal Wound: For those who loved the "Deck Of Weasels" set of playing cards, I give you the Star Spangled Ice Cream Company, which bills itself as a "a conservative alternative to Ben & Jerry's."

   Because when I'm eating a tub of Cherry Garcia, at least until the feeling of being a bloated pig takes over, all I can think is, "If only these fudge flakes weren't touched by people so weak on terrorism."

   • One year and counting. And I christened Day One with a title of "Do Hookers Charge Late Fees?" and a quote from a sewage truck.

   Maybe the oddest part of the whole job thing, given how things are falling out for most of my friends, is that I can't talk about my employment without feeling incredibly guilty about the entire thing. I mean, seriously ... a good friend of mine from the Class of '02 with what I feel was a stronger resume was essentially unemployed for 10-11 months. I was essentially unemployed for 45 minutes.

   It's no so much a case of "It wasn't supposed to be this easy," but a case of "Wasn't it supposed to be this easy for everybody?" I did the things as a student that I felt would put me in the best position to get employment -- worked at the student paper, took an internship exam at the suggestion of my advisor, which put me on a list of potential, which caught the eye of an alumni of the student paper, which gave me experience when an actual job posting came across the desk of my advisor -- and it worked.

   So why hasn't it worked for everybody else?

   I suppose openly discussing what clearly looks to be some odd fold in fate's dress shirt isn't the best way for me to feel less guilty about it. The only thing I've been able to say about the whole employment front is the only think I've been able to say about it for six months. My only job market advice is to get what you can get in your field, then turn the job into what you want it to be.

   See Column, Sports for more information.

   Granted, this is probably a lot harder to accomplish if you're a comp sci grad and you're selling computers at Best Buy, but no one said curing my guilt trips was easy. The biggest thing that I can offer to you, my readership, beyond what I already have is that this is the last hurdle. Once you're in, it's all connections, showcasing your talent and being all cozy with the important types. Showing you're able to work one job easily gets you another job, and onward and so forth. Not all professions work exactly the same, but trust me, all professions work exactly the same.

   And given all of you have true God-given abilities, whereas you've all been reading mine for free on the Internet for two and a scoche years, I'm pretty sure it'll all come out OK.

June 3, 2003 - Tunnel Vision
   The Summer Intern: She's a graduate of the University of Kansas, and formerly from Bellevue, Illinois, which I apparently was relatively close to here. Also, had she applied for my job at the same time I did, it would have been a grave injustice if I'd gotten hired over her ... she is on the ball in ways I still may not even be on the ball.

   But she's very nice about it, which marks her as cool.

   Dead "'80s" Wrestler Of The Day: He actually made it to the age of 85, so Classy Freddie Blassie is eligbile for this sadly oft-distributed award. Given the kind of multimedia tsunami WWE has become in the past few years, of course my first thought was "I wonder what this will do to his book sales?"

   • Today marked a first foray into the new tunnels of The Big Dig -- namely the Route 90 connector to Logan Airport, which you can mkae without lifting your supersized ass here.

   Today also marked the 1,000th time my relationship with Meg has involved an airport, but such is life when one half is from California and the other is from Massachusetts. If I had the option, I'd go to the place where it rains once a year too ... though this rule does not not apply to a Vegas quiz tournament, for which I am still seeking a travel partner I won't kill in the heat. Apply now!

   As amazing as this may sound, I have no gripes with the I-90 East tunnel ... not only is it nearly exactly as presented in the online animation -- with the only difference being more signage in real life -- traffic flow is impressive given how bad Boston drivers usually are. Though given the whole system flows to the airport, there's probably an influx of non-city drivers that are screwing up the Hub's reputation as "Traffic Hellhole Of The East."

   So in the space that I would normally use for bitching, I'll include this delightful tidbit about the archaeology of The Big Dig.

"The findings from these digs included a massive shell heap created by Native Americans on Spectacle Island and leather shoes, pottery and a colonial privy (outhouse) near the North End."

   But oh, don't even make your jokes yet. They make sure to drive the point home later.

"This structure was filled with trash and sealed with a layer of impervious clay. As a result, items that normally would have perished, such as food remains, have been preserved. These discoveries are helpful in learning about plant and insect life, revealing environmental conditions during colonial times."

   I at least hope they skipped the vagueness at the actual site, and posted a clear and readable sign nearby.


June 2, 2003 - Sweet, Sweet Greasiness
   'Girls Who Talk Hockey' Update: Yesterday's title was speaking of Charlie's friend Julie, who has been indoctrinated into The Loop for nothing less than being the prototypical nearly perfect woman. Any girl who can talk that much hockey without once mentioning anything about the cuteness of the players deserves that kind of mention.

Kim Under The Microscope In Red Sox Nation
-- I really like this column. Shame in that being, because it wasn't made the lead column on the S-T Sports Web page, it will be read by approximately seven people. But by all means, you enjoy it!

   • So about those "All White Meat" Chicken McNuggets.

   At McDonald's vaunted Westfield location, long regarded by Cooch's World as the best McDonald's in sight of a feed store, I split 20 McNuggets with four friends. You see, our quintet decided the best way to heal our bodies following an afternoon of outdoor physical activity would be to eat more calories than we had burned off playing deflated basketball on bent, non-regulation hoops.

   The following statement had to be quantified by gender law, since all four men present yesterday lost a game of "Eggs" to Meg, who now not only gets to go home to California for a month, but gets to laugh all the way there.

   At first sight, the new Chicken McNuggets are the same as the old Chicken McNuggets, except that McDonalds now gives you two boxes of 10 instead of one box of 20.

   I take this to mean there's so much added health value in these new Nuggets, a container has yet to be created that could contain it all. However, this could also be a nod to consumer requests, as an ATM that dispenses $10 bills is always better than one that dispenses $20s.

   But what you're really here for is Nugget taste talk. And let me tell you, the new McNuggets are so overwhelmingly different than the old ones, your taste buds will be confused and disoriented ... so much so that to our under-developed human senses, they will taste exactly like the old Chicken McNuggets. They will feel exactly like the old Chicken McNuggets. They will be shaped exactly like the old Chicken McNuggets.

   Which really makes you wonder, "What did they do with the old Chicken McNuggets that made them so much fattier than the new Chicken McNuggets?" Fast Food Nation could probably explain this, but I'd much rather stick to irrational guesses like "Each piece of fresh, healthy chicken was aged 12 years in a cask of Crisco before frying" or "The meat was actually super-compressed lard."

   But because every time McDonalds opens an artery with Premium Salads or Fruit & Yogurt Parfaits, it closes another, yesterday marked the rollout of advertising for McGriddles Breakfast Sandwiches -- sausage and bacon or eggs and cheese stuck between two maple syrup-flavored "pancakes."

   We love to see you smile ... meekly, after you come out of that heart attack-induced coma.

June 1, 2003 - Girls Who Talk Hockey
   Guest E-Mail: Because I was at a grad party all day, and thus am a little too sauced to be creative, Allyson weighs in on the site via e-mail:

Subject: How do you say Connecticut woods in Spanish?
Date: Sun, 1 June 2003
From: Allyson!
To: Me!

   I had the Sox game on the radio today on my way in to work and heard a commercial for Foxwoods in Spanish. And the reason I knew immediately it was for Foxwoods? Because it uses the same swing song as the ones in English, just sung in Spanish. Seeing as how I don't know Spanish I couldn't tell you if they've changed the words a lot or if it still ends with "Let's live for the wonder of it all!"

   Apparently the natives are tired of exploiting the white people and have moved on to the Latinos.

   Allyson :)

   Well, those of you out there who speak the language of Conchita Martinez, feel free to fire out a translation of the famed Foxwoods theme. Given I got an e-mail from Colorado last night requesting help in finding an anti-Jeter T-shirt, you never know who might see your mad Spaniard skills.

   • At its core, drinking is like a good game of King Of The Mountain.

   There's that point in a night that involves drinking where the amount you imbibe brings you to your maximum abilities. Your dart focus becomes razor sharp. Your pool play becomes like second nature. Your Pop-A-Shot rhythm becomes as natural as going out in pants or trying too hard at graduation party sports.

   Sure, it tends to only apply to bar-room activities, and not so much to the pursuit of women, but what do you care? You're a stupid drunk!

   I suppose the pursuit of women also applies, because the whole inner voice of conscience is gone. Granted, so is the inner quality control process, but we won't talk about that. Sheepish grins all around.

   But drinking is also a slippery slope. It doesn't take long for the magic effects to either wear off or, in the pursuit to keep the level maintained, excess alcohol floods the entire system out. Then the next thing you know, you're trying to stick your head under the bathroom stall a friend is in and your Pop-A-Shot scores have fallen from the 70s to the 50s.

   And your writing really goes into the toilet.

2003: [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]