June 30, 2004 - 99 Problems, And The Yanks Are One
   Vacation Nos. 5 and 6: It became official today, but since Photoshop is now many miles away, we'll save the official announcements for a moment that isn't now.

   Suffice to say, I'll be bankrupt by the end of August, but it'll be nice to not have to use a week of vacation on another "Spring Break in Feeding Hills." I've had enough of those to last me a lifetime.

   Henmania: Tim's 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-2 blowout loss to unseeded Mario Ancic proves I've still got it when it comes to jinxes and the like. I suppose it's probably better this way, since now I won't get to watch Henman fold up like an easily folded map at the precise moment he needs to step up.

   Well, unless I watch SportsCenter, where I could watch it in highlight form and then probably hear an Alanis Morrisette concert or whatever they're doing on there now.

   Portugal 2-1 Netherlands: Somehow, I doubt this was the top story where most of you live.

   Rest assured, that's not the case where I live. Seriously.

   I'll be out of the city on championship Sunday, which is nice since I'm pretty sure it may implode and/or fall into the harbor regardless of the result.


   • And speaking of sports receiving a strong emotional attachment, guess who lost again in crippling, spectacular fashion.

   After the game, several of us chose new teams -- I took the Dodgers, which isn't so much new as now being more widely accepted.

   If it were only this easy. I could move to Mars at this point and still be depressed by the line score on a ticker.


June 29, 2004 - It Doesn't Stop Bronco Fans, I Bet
   Someone at work today told me they liked yesterday's column. I'm as surprised as anyone.

   I am not shocked, however, that the thing that drew the most comments was not the Iraq picture, but the mention of cottage cheese and vegetarian sausage patties -- the "Breakfast of Champions," if by champions you mean Whale City's finest 24-year-old sports columnist.

   Henmania: By all accounts, England's Tim Henman will advance to the Wimbledon semifinals on Wednesday, the fifth time he will have reached that point in his home nation's tournament.

   Whether it has been stressed in this space or not, Wimbledon is currently atop the list of major sporting events I need to attend before I die, and seeing Tim Henman win Wimbledon (in person or not) is a definite 1B to that point.

   Of course, Henman will probably face Andy Roddick in the semifinals, and Roddick will destroy him with extreme prejudice. It is, however, still nice to dream.


   • Some point midway through tonight's 11-3 mauling of the Red Sox by the Yankees, I figured it out.

   This is a test of me as a journalist, as Boston is desperately trying to get me to write them off.

   If you didn't watch the game, the level of defense played by these Red Sox is comical. Three actual errors, a couple more hypothetical ones and just a general performance that harkens back to the heady days of 2001, where I spent the start of my senior year convincing myself that the ballpark down the street from my apartment was merely a vacant lot.

   There's still a good chance Boston will win the next two games and take the series -- I said beforehand they'd only win one of the three, but it's not as though I've ever been right before. If they don't take either, meaning Pedro Martinez will have lost to the legendary Brad Halsey, you will likely see what happens when I get irrational.

   Let's just say that last night, I began to question the whole Grady Little thing. And really, that's every ounce of credibility I have, as I may have once written that a bag of damp leaves would be a better manager for the Red Sox than Grady Little.

   It's at times like this I really wish I'd just taken a job in like Colorado Springs and become a full-time Rockies fan. Any time I would start to get too panicky about sports, the thin air would just cause me to pass out.


June 28, 2004 - It's All Political
   First Things First: What should come last.

A Turning Point, For Better Or For Worse
-- This is more one of those columns that needed to be written, and as history as shown, that's rarely if ever a good thing.

   Gym Observations: In the waiting area today, there was a copy of Jet Magazine with Nicole and Lionel Richie on the cover. Though I didn't actually pick it up, this was the cover story.

   I wish I could find a photo of said cover, since it struck me Nicole Richie has never looked as dark skinned as she did on this magazine. People seeing this might actually believe Lionel Richie is her dad without having to be surprised by the "revelation."

   Big surprise this would be the case on Jet Magazine, but still worth noting.

   Bil Dwyer: Apparently, he's the cohost of Extreme Dodgeball with one Zacariah Selwyn and a bitch from a past Survivor.

   This means that, outside of his work on VH1's "I Love The [Insert Decade Here]," Bil Dwyer's last three major TV credits are Extreme Dodgeball, Dirty Rotten Cheater and Battlebots.

   That is what we call "carving a niche," people.

   Note To Chappelle's Show: If you've seen Episode 112, you'll enjoy this more than most people.

   The fact that two major pieces of ABC's fall lineup, regardless of their actual content, are entitled "Wife Swap" and "Desperate Housewives" should not go without observation.


   • So, we gave Iraq back today. A good decision to do so early, and a good decision to do so in general.

   Yes, I know, hard-hitting political talk. That's not why you come here.

Last Accident
--This is why you come here.

   Well, that and for the scintillating talk about cottage cheese and vegetarian sausage patties, I'm sure.


June 27, 2004 - 6-2, And Still No Arroyo
   Red Sox This Week: Let it now be known that I have fielded a grounder on the dirt at Fenway Park, something I wager you have not done.

   Admittedly, it wasn't so much a grounder as a throw in to the fungo guy during Phillies batting practice that he missed. And the dirt wasn't the infield so much as track near the Red Sox dugout.

   I still fielded it clean and made the throw however, disappointing the fans behind me who would have grabbed the ball and kept it had it gotten to the wall.

   I heart ruining fans' days.

Big Day With Bats Finally Factors In
-- Does this count as being critical? Does it matter since I worked in talk of the guy who delivered Chinese food to the office Saturday night?
Are you still reading?

   Also, let me just say that Theo Epstein, superlative general manager of the Red Sox, is not exactly the most demonstrative human being on the face of the planet. Don't get me wrong, I love the job he's doing, but whereas I would actually have fun with the media hordes pestering me for quotes, he looks to treat it like getting a glass shard enema.

   That's all.


   • I believe it's a sign that I've been doing this site too long when I have a legitimate dream about determining the actually identity of Sly, and finding out that it's either Dennis Hopper or Christopher Walken.

   Given I'd watched Hoosiers before going to bed, the first one made sense.

   Because, of course, dreaming about the commenters on one's Web site in general is something that makes sense.

   While you're here though, let's just include a favorite photo of mine that really isn't going to fit into the narrative. It would have made sense to fit it with yesterday's story, but really, it has so little to do with Rasputin's gigantic manpiece.

Bend It ...
-- Insert "Bend It" or missing the bowl jokes here.

True devotion: English fans sporting the jersey of soccer idol David Beckham visit the restroom shortly before the strat of the Euro 2004 first round clash between England and Croatia in Lisbon. (AFP/Adrian Dennis)


June 26, 2004 - Malnourishment Headaches
   Train? Wreck!: In a continuing effort to make Boston as laughable as possible for the DNC, the elevated Green Line that runs along Causeway Street has been closed for demolishment, with the ultimate plan to get those stops after Government Center underground and extend Le Line Verte all the way out to West Medford.

"The El must die so that the Green Line may live," said Stefan Economou, who with colleague Ravi Jain planned to ride the last trolley on the elevated tracks last night. The two were the last to drive over the elevated Central Artery before that structure was closed and the southbound Interstate 93 Big Dig tunnel opened last December. "Sunlight will caress the asphalt of Causeway Street once again."
-- This part of the Globe story is a good thing.

   Aside from those post-Beanpot nights where the train platform nearly doubled as a riot scene, my biggest memory of the El came during Freshman Orientation in the summer of 1998. On our way to the Science Museum for a laser planetarium show, our train rose out of the ground and made that left turn onto Causeway just as I turned and looked out the window ...

   ... to see inside the Boston Garden, in the throes of being gutted like a deer.

   Surely, many have similar stories, and the as with the Big Dig, the ultimate project will make the inconvenience worthwhile. It's just given we're dealing with the general public, the getting there is more painful than it should be.

The disruption will affect an estimated 11,000 riders, plus thousands more during the Democratic National Convention next month. "It's annoying; that's the biggest thing it is," said Roberta Goto, who commutes every day from Lechmere Station, near her home, to downtown. "They say it could add 15 minutes to your ride. I could walk there faster."
-- Why don't you feel free to explore that comment, Roberta?

   I'm reminded at a time like this of a story a few weeks back about the Republican Convention running in New York City this summer. Whereas Boston has been in panic mode about what to do with the surge of visitors for well over a year, Gotham continues to barely break a sweat about the show at MSG.

   And really, why worry about an upcoming clusterfcuk when your city is one almost every day anyway?


   • Every so often, there are news stories that come along that prove to be too much, even for me.

   This is one of those times.

   As for the whole Hitler big story of the day, it's at times like this I'm glad I'm disillusioned. Much like I was after seeing the legendary Boston Garden being demolished more openly than your average Zayre's.

   Of course, this meant nothing to most of the Long Islanders also on the train with me. All the more ironic that there was my only other job prospect coming out of BU ... that place has a tangible tie to the school like any good state college.


June 25, 2004 - Fluff, But Funny Fluff
   Mission Accomplished: Well, almost.

Hole
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
OUT
Yards
123
463
384
190
235
393
326
364
345
2823
PAR
3
5
4
3
4
4
4
4
4
35
Cooch
4
6
5
3
3
5
5
5
5
41
• Hawthorne CC - Dartmouth, Mass. •
Hole
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
IN
Yards
153
441
395
177
259
370
334
347
356
2832
PAR
3
5
4
3
4
4
4
4
4
35
Cooch
4
5
6
6
4
4
4
5
3
41
PAR 70
82, 12 OVER PAR
5655 YARDS
Birdies: 2 - Pars: 5 - Bogeys: 9 - Others: 2
Fairways Hit: 5 of 14 - Greens In Regulation: 7 of 18 - Putts: 28

   Looking at the 28 putts and the seven greens in regulation, this was easily good enough to be a round in the 70s. Of the four GIRs on the front side, I three-putted three of them. Yet I still had a legitimate shot until I put a tee shot in the woods on No. 13 and missed a six-footer for birdie at No. 14.

   I will stop now, because you definitely don't care. However, given this was my best round playwise in more than six years -- the birdie on No. 18 came via a 145-yard 8 iron hit to a foot -- I did have to go on a little bit.

   After the last two days, handicap index now stands at 15.1.

   Ken Jennings Update: If you watch Jeopardy! at all -- or, increasingly, any TV whatsoever -- you've heard about this guy and what he's doing on a show no longer constraining champions to five wins.

On day 17 of his run as a JEOPARDY! champion, Ken Jennings managed to garner an additional $40,000 taking his winnings to $552,959.

   Let it be known, though a good deal of you do already, that Ken Jennings is a former quiz bowler. Just the latest in a line of big winners too many to mention who've parlayed my dorks collegiate and post-collegiate quirk into cash, cash, cash.

   This is made all the more ironic by my continued inability to pass the Millionaire phone test, but really, I'm already independently wealthy in my head.

   Cellular 21st Century Step Update: The new phone now has actual voice mail, and if you read this at the earliest moment, you could be the first person even to utilize it.

   I could give out the number, but then it would just lessen the surprise when a certain Hollywood starlet featured in Howard Stern's Gossip Game today -- scroll to the 10:00 a.m. portion -- had to work to find it and call.

   I've been in the sun all day. Cut me some slack.


   • To me, the big story of the day was watching one man drink 11 martinis, yet briefly try to convince others he was still OK to drive home. That's probably just me, however.

   I'm also going to think you don't care about the inaccuracy of this photo as much as I do.

Dogs Playing
-- They're clearly at a blackjack table, not a poker one.

Dogs are shown at a poker table in a re-creation of the famous 'Dogs Playing Poker' painting on Thursday at the Sands Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, N.J. The Sands Casino Hotel staged the event to promote its new slogan. (AP Photo/Mary Godleski)

   The slogan, from what I can gather, is "A Legend Lives Again." Though given the Sands on the opposite side of the country is now under The Venetian, I suppose they figure they're in gravy time.

   No, I think we're going to settle on this story of an Oklahoma judge suspected of pleasuring himself inside his robe while in court, to the point of a penis pump somehow being involved.

   The Boston Herald's print headline choice?

Here Comes The Judge

   Thank you, and good night.


June 24, 2004 - Welcome, Again, To The Ocho
   Golf: I don't know why, but I'm moderately pleased by this.

Hole
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
OUT
Yards
295
381
516
157
335
332
121
339
127
2603
PAR
4
4
5
3
4
4
3
4
3
34
Cooch
6
5
7
3
7
5
4
4
3
44
• Wyckoff CC - Holyoke, Mass. •
Hole
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
IN
Yards
334
314
382
453
373
340
186
335
148
2865
PAR
4
4
4
5
4
4
3
4
3
35
Cooch
6
5
5
6
7
5
4
4
3
45
PAR 69
89, 20 OVER PAR
5468 YARDS
Birdies: 0 - Pars: 5 - Bogeys: 8 - Others: 5
Fairways Hit: 4 of 13 - Greens In Regulation: 2 of 18 - Putts: 30

   Whether it be the low number of putts, or just the acceptance of suckitude, I feel ready to take these numbers into tomorrow's round and do something historic.

   And if I don't, it's not as though any of it means anything anyway. Which is nice.

   Agawam In The News: It also makes me feel good to know that those around the country with a keen ear for the news know, after the last month or two, of a little place called Agawam, Mass.

   First, we had the roller coaster that killed a guy.

   Now, the despondent apartment dweller who wanted to kill you.

   As they say, there's no such thing as bad publicity.

   Dodgeball 2: Perhaps the most fun thing about seeing it for the second time was pointing out the absurd number of cameos to an uunbeknownst audience.

   "Thank you, Chuck Norris."


   • If you factor in high school, where it is now becoming standard equipment, it took me the better part of a decade to finally give in.


-- An honest-to-goodness cell phone.

   I own one now, as the former cell-I-refused-to-acknowledge-was-mine decided it would start hanging up for no reason after three years, nine months of use. My plans to keep using it until it had become so uncool, it was cool again, will have to be shelved permanently.

   I maintain I should have gotten a special sticker on my diploma for going through BU without truly having a cell phone at all. But apparently they'd rather reward people's grades than such character issues.


June 23, 2004 - Welcome To 'The Ocho'
   Dressgate Rolls On: The May 26th comments regarding the Starburst now include more of Lewiston's finest, including one poster who may actually be "the kid in the background."

"hahahahaha, inm a start too nina!! yes!!"

   Sure. Thanks for coming.

   Flannel Day: Current reigning radio champion WBCN ran a "104 Greatest Grunge Song Countdown" today, which aside from meaning they didn't really play a bad song from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., proved a simple truth.

   There were really only about seven grunge bands anyone needed to worry about.

   Why I Hate Politics: The bid to keep Mitt Romney from replacing John Kerry with a Republican should Leatherface win the presidency pretty much encompasses everything there is to love about politics.

   Party posturing, yet some semblance of logic. Just makes you want to throw things.


   • So, the Dodgeball movie.

   So many comedies give away all the good parts in the previews.

   Considering you didn't know anything about Chuck Morris and Lance Armstrong being involved, let's just say that isn't the case here.

   Just go. As opposed to 'Fahrenheit 9/11' -- where I will try to be as thorough as possible should I end up seeing it -- 'Dodgeball' is best left for you to discover on your own.

   Well worth the $17, or whatever movies cost in the real world now.


June 22, 2004 - Name Your Favorite Bobcat
   Today is a day in which we will grasp at the obvious, beginning with the shocking revelation that I'm just really not that good of a golfer.

Hole
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
OUT
Yards
447
437
368
176
430
234
92
208
496
2888
PAR
5
4
4
3
4
4
3
3
5
35
Cooch
6
6
6
4
6
3
2
4
7
44
• Bay Pointe CC - Onset, Mass. •
Hole
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
IN
Yards
186
360
186
333
183
505
258
443
378
2832
PAR
3
4
3
4
3
5
4
5
4
35
Cooch
5
4
5
5
3
8
5
5
5
45
PAR 70
89, 19 OVER PAR
5720 YARDS
Birdies: 2 - Pars: 3 - Bogeys: 6 - Others: 7
Fairways Hit: 3 of 12 - Greens In Regulation: 3 of 18 - Putts: 34

   Of course, all of my bad rounds tend to include the sort of back-to-back birdies that just barely keep me aware that I should be better than a 19-over-par player after 17 years of trying.

   Handicap index remains at 15.5, meaning I'm only about 15 shots from being eligible for U.S. Open qualifying.

   Shut up.


   • And now, for the more visual form of obviousness.

White Chicks
-- You mean 'White Chicks' could be dim-witted?

Mary-Kate Olsen
-- You mean she could have an eating disorder?

   And just to prove that such things don't always have to come in threes ...


June 21, 2004 - Cuttino To Orlando?
   On Apparel: Today at the gym, there was a guy walking around wearing a T-shirt from this gentleman's club not frequented by former Red Sox superstar Mo Vaughn, but only because Providence was a closer drive for him.

   Now, I don't go to strip clubs, so maybe I just don't get it. But to me, being the kind of guy who goes to strip clubs enough to start getting promotional merchandise is not something you really want to be advertising. Especially in a world where women not only inhabit, but are judging you with alarming regularity.

   Not that we aren't as bad. Then again, most women aren't wearing Playgirl T-shirts and headbands from Thunder From Down Under just to keep us on our toes.

Terry Talk Is Mostly Hot Air
-- Well, it is the first column based on a photo posted here.

   • Mark's "latest" post reminded me I also had Coke's newest disaster -- the low-carb C2 -- over the weekend at the Peter Pan 'Slice of Summer,' which used to be called the Taste of Springfield, but probably changed it's name because its 12 restaurants included the Schwan's man.

   This is akin to referring to McDonald's as a "local eatery," especially when you consider Schwan's ties to Springfield involve driving the streets in a truck and trying to cold sell frozen meats and gourmet foods.

   But to get back to the point. Coke's C2 is not good for all the reasons that Mark described, and more that can't really be quantified. While drinking it, you can tell that something is clearly wrong, yet can't really place it because all you're drinking is a Coke/Diet Coke hybrid.

   In this way, it's much like knife massage.

Knife Massage

A man cringes as he receives a 'knife therapy' massage during a free medical check at the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Square on Sunday in Taipei, Taiwan. Local practioners in this ancient form of massage claim this type of therapy can cure sinus infections and headaches. (AP Photo/Steven Wang)

   Well, maybe not that weird. Especially in the face of all the beheadings.


June 20, 2004 - Start The Fortnight
   Drinking: You really wouldn't expect a bar in the downtown of a tough place like Whale City to be playing portions of this soundtrack during prime drinking hours, but I suppose this could be filed under the previously closed file drawer of "The Marketing Machine Is Out To Get Me."

   Fortunately, no one has bought me this film on DVD yet, and there are no holidays where I would be deserving of presents for several months. That is, unless Google is just missing the boat on this one.

   Phil: Yes, he lost in spectacular fashion. Yet to me, the story on Sunday at the U.S. Open was Ernie Els, who shot an 80.

   Now, I have an 80 this year. Admittedly it was on a far easier track, but it's not as though we didn't have common shots in these rounds. Ernie flubbed a chip on No. 1, leading to a double bogey. I do that all the time.

   The only way we can properly assess this is for me to play a round on a course similar to Shinnecock Hills. I have done so ... the Jubilee Course at St. Andrews, "what many consider to be the toughest test of golf at St Andrews."

   Using borrowed blades, I shot 117.

   The blow was cushioned by then breaking 90 on the Eden Course the next day, where I got the under-15 discount as an 18-year-old simply by shaving really well that morning.


   • Ken Griffey Jr. hit his 500th career home run today.

   It's Nicole Kidman's birthday.

   And all I care about is the spaceship shooting off Monday.

   Well, that's not entirely true. But one can only bawl so much about the Red Sox when their manager looks like he's trying to fly off the field.

Francona Flying
-- Look, kids. It's Flapping Francona.

Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona argues a call with umpire Sam Holbrook in the seventh inning Sunday in San Francisco. Holbrook ejected Francona seconds later. The Giants won the game, 4-0. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

   The next person who tells me the season is essentially over is getting metaphorically slapped in the face.


June 19, 2004 - I Feel A Narrative Coming
   Site Note: Today's entry is the 600th in site history with comments enabled. Please treat it gently, as let's not forget the first-ever comment was from my mother.

   Normally, this would be where I would post the photo of me as the real George Washington in our third-grade presentation of "To Tell The Truth," but even I'm not that stupid.

   Welcome Back: Playing in my first miniature golf round since my crowning athletic and scriptic, I fired a 12-over 51 here that surely would have been roundly mocked by my competitors in the Mass Open.

   Fortunately they weren't there. I'd have been so embarassed, much like when I used to beat my friends so regularly, I'd put up my Ford Tempo as a prize to anyone who beat me.

   Course then I lost, and really, I found out no one else wanted the car either.

   Whn It Doesn't Even Look Good On Paper: John McEnroe is getting his own CNBC talk show.

"We've designed it to be the antidote to the typical primetime talk show," McEnroe said in a statement. "We'll be thoughtful and insightful when it is appropriate, and wreak havoc when necessary."

Joining McEnroe on the nightly panel will be John Fugelsang, a host of "America's Funniest Home Videos" the past two seasons and frequent guest on "Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher."

   From Daisy Fuentes's second fiddle to this. How the not-really-mighty have fallen.


   • Phil Mickelson enters the final round of the U.S. Open on Sunday two shots off the lead thanks to a bogey-bogey close of Round Three.

   And what's sad to me is more people may care about the weiners of the Wayans Bros..

   We completely glosses over the end of the NBA Finals and the dissolution of the Lakers here -- Phil gone, Shaq wants trade, Kobe probably bailing -- and let that be a note to you that I have no idea how to feel. I should be overjoyed, yet I did throw my lot in with them toward the end.

   Let's just move on, since I can't even scream "Go Dodgers!" and run away.


June 18, 2004 - SBC = Stupid Bonds Comment
   Minus Six And Rising: He may not win, but Phil Mickelson's performance at the U.S. Open just adds to my belief that, after finally winning his first major at the Masters, he's going to reel off like 12 in a row.

   I think I picked the wrong Open to cover for the newspaper.

   Barry Bonds: To say anything other than these comments made me furious would be an outright lie.

Barry Bonds is open to ending his career in the American League as a designated hitter -- just not in Boston. The Boston Globe reported in Friday's editions that Bonds said the town was "too racist for me" and that he would "never play there."

According to the report, Bonds is relying on word of mouth for his opinion.

"[My impression is based] only [on] what guys have said," he told the paper, "but that's been going on ever since my dad [Bobby, who played 14 years in the majors] was playing baseball. I can't play like that. That's not for me, brother."

Bonds went on to dispute a suggestion that Boston's racial climate was improving, saying "It ain't changing. It ain't changing nowhere."

   He is right about one thing though ... he wouldn't be a good fit playing for the Red Sox. It certainly has nothing to do with his abilities or his color.

   It has to do with his being an asshole. It's not as though the Sox haven't had their fair share over the years, but Bonds just seems uniquely designed to not fit in here.

   For one thing, I know his massage chair wouldn't fit in the clubhouse.


   • The personal mystery surrounding Saved! ended tonight, as the film proved to be both excellent and outstanding. It was one of those movies that will likely lead to discussions on the car ride home, yet they won't be annoying discussions unless you're dealing with people who don't like having nothing concrete to stand on.

   The overarching premise in the end is that religion is a guidebook, not a blueprint. This should be obvious, but apparently isn't given this movie was made.

   And as for the rest of the night, things sort of dissolved out after I watched the Giants essentially drop two balls in this game and imagined my mistresses in Chavez Ravine were beating back the Yankees.

   As for those others who went out tonight and feared what I'd write about it, let's just leave it at dorks can go out and have fun every once in a while.

   Charming, isn't it?


June 17, 2004 - IBF In The House
   Great Moments In Couture History: It's not a cow sweatshirt, but it got the job done.

Agawam Suburban Baseball

   Please note our Astros-style uniforms, which featured orange, tan, brown and yellow stripes along the bottom and were likely considered child abuse under the letter of the law.

   The same could probably be said about calling Cooch Jr. the "team mascot," but it was probably meant to be as non-belittling as possible.

   And If You Thought That Was Embarassing: This is worse.

Hole
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
OUT
Yards
295
381
516
157
335
332
121
339
127
2603
PAR
4
4
5
3
4
4
3
4
3
34
Cooch
6
5
7
3
7
5
4
4
3
44
• Wyckoff CC - Holyoke, Mass. •
44, 10 OVER PAR
Birdies: 0 - Pars: 3 - Bogeys: 3 - Others: 3
Fairways Hit: 2 of 6 - Greens In Regulation: 2 of 9 - Putts: 17

   New Marketing: Coming off the heat they took for their "a bucket of deep-fried chicken is relatively healthy" campaign, KFC has rolled out their "Chicken Capital USA" campaign.

   Along with the regional ad featuring portly Sox superstar Kevin Millar taking down a bucket by himself, Dale Earnhardt Jr. gets prominently involved -- face on packaging, tie-ins, mention of the "Dale Jr. Diet."

   The Dale Jr. Diet being, according to a ballcap, "I eat what tastes good."

NASCAR Fan
-- I suspect the only carb this guy cares about is also under the hood.

   And please. If you're a NASCAR fan, and even one who knows I enjoy the sport, please take this as a personal attack. I love it when that happens.


   • Think about this for a minute.

   In an alternate universe somewhere, Courtney Love and Scott Weiland have met and gotten married. They're living together in Los Angeles, New York City, wherever ... and they decide they want to have a baby.

   That child grown up and becomes a Republican senator.

   Consider the odds of that happening here, because the odds of David Duval making the cut at the U.S. Open are worse.

   Don't get me wrong ... I like David Duval. But I also liked Ian Baker Finch, and that didn't help him any.

   And if you get that reference, I like you too.


June 16, 2004 - Drinks With The Boss
   Great Moments In Couture History: Once, I was an athlete.

Little League

   That season was by far my most successful as a hitter ... I batted No. 2 and made the All-Star Team, with an average nowhere in the neighborhood of the .032 I'd carry as a 12-year-old.

   That's probably generous too.

   Mail Call, Volume 26: As promised:

Subject: choosing sides article
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 2004
From: _____ _____ <_____@iona.edu>
To: jcouture at s-t dot com

   Jon -- Read your article this morning and agree wholeheartedly. You're dead on. I enjoyed it.

   -- _____

_____ ______
Assistant AD/Athletic Communications
Iona College
715 North Avenue
New Rochelle, NY 10801

Subject: Media access
Date: Wed, 16 Jun 2004
From: <_____@comcast.com>
To: jcouture at s-t dot com

   Hi Jon,

   Terrific column today about Curt Schilling and levels of media access. Count me as one who thought it was very cool that Curt was on the message boards.

   This is not an indictment of all the Red Sox writers, but there are some who revel in the Red Sox losing and the struggles of individual players like Lowe. With the Sox now in 2nd place behind the Yankees, Dan Shaughnessy now has a bounce in his step again. Tony Mazz last week wrote in a column he thought Nomar was taking his time coming back from his injury.

   That's Mazz's job, but he shouldn't complain when the players don't want to talk to him. If I emailed Mazz every day telling him his columns sucked, then a week later I see him at the ballpark and introduce myself, do you think he'll want to talk to me?

   Kevin

   This would probably all come to me with a different perspective if the big-time media types deigned to talk with their little-known counterparts, but they don't. I suppose it shouldn't be surprising, but at the same time, that doesn't make it OK.


   • Now, as for the rant.

   It's a rant, and rants generally don't need replies. I've found that out well enough in the past few months.

   As for the past few hours, there's apparently a group of my S-T Sports contemporaries who think I'm dyeing my hair because it's far more orange than normal.

   Yeah, not blonde. Orange. I am Irish after all.


June 15, 2004 - Weaving, But Like Jeff Weaver
   The Less Said, The Better: I snapped my sand wedge today ... a club I've had since I was seven. That says it all right there.

Hole
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
OUT
Yards
123
463
384
190
235
393
326
364
345
2823
PAR
3
5
4
3
4
4
4
4
4
35
Cooch
5
7
6
5
4
5
3
6
6
47
• Hawthorne CC - Dartmouth, Mass. •
Hole
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
IN
Yards
153
441
395
177
259
370
334
347
356
2832
PAR
3
5
4
3
4
4
4
4
4
35
Cooch
4
6
7
3
6
4
4
5
5
44
PAR 70
91, 21 OVER PAR
5655 YARDS
Birdies: 1 - Pars: 4 - Bogeys: 5 - Others: 8
Fairways Hit: 5 of 14 - Greens In Regulation: 6 of 18 - Putts: 39

   Embracing Technology: I'm not sure whether the death knell of the national "Do Not Spam" list says more about the Internet or more about the government. There's just too much symbolism for one man to process on four hours sleep.

The Direct Marketing Association, which has long opposed a do-not-e-mail registry, applauded the FTC's 5-0 vote Tuesday. "Such a national registry could impede the development of e-commerce while doing absolutely nothing to reduce spam in consumers' in-boxes," the association said in a statement.

   The fact that there exists a Direct Marketing Association means that enough somewhere are buying from spam and telemarketers to make it worth their while to keep selling that way.

   This may be an ever harder to locate group than the people who buy Spice Girls albums.


   • As some of you have seen, my good travel buddy Charlie released a massive rant for no discernable reason. This goes nicely with his comment from last week where he essentially announced "I hate my job and will be killing all of my co-workers at some point in the future."

Don't worry too much about your grand plans for the future. Unless you somehow stumble upon a lot of money so that you never have to work again, you will work for the man at a job that you hated to begin with or liked the idea of but don't anymore because 40 hours a week of anything will make you eventually hate it. This may just be my cynical "I worked my ass of in college to get a 40 hour a week sitting in a little burgundy box" side talking, but maybe it's just because it's 8 in the morning. Actually, if you can find a job where you only have to work 20 hours a week, make lots of money, and don't have to interact with a bunch of idiots, let me know, because that should really be your goal.
-- Red text used to denote rage.

   Aside from the fact that I seem to be surrounding myself with people who are far angrier than I am -- I will not debate this -- I was all ready to fire off a response to what he had to say, but I can't be bothered yet. Plus by dragging it out another day, I can not write about the gym, doing dishes and whatever other meaningless garbage I come up with to do on my first of four days off.

   So let's just leave it at this.

   1) Alanis Morissette, who is both angry, Canadian and seems to be half-assing her way through a Liz Phair-style cleanup/sell-out, is marrying the lead actor from Van Wilder. Seriously.

   The fact that he's referred to as "fellow Canadian" makes me giggle for some unknown reason.

   2) The paper's office has an elevator that people frequently use to get between floors. This isn't an uncommon thing really, and is likely the law in Massachusetts.

   Yet our building has two floors -- one and two. And the people who use the elevator sure aren't handicapped ... at least not physically.

   Yet.

   3) I got two e-mails praising me heavily for this week's column. One was from a guy named Kevin.

   The other was from the assistant athletic director of Iona College, which is located in lovely New Rochelle, N.Y.

   Thank you, Boston Sports Media Watch.

   4) This is the greatest thing you've ever heard if you only have a memory that goes back like 15 minutes. Which, by the way, was a pretty good movie.


June 14, 2004 - It's Like Christmas, But With Pledging
   The Unintentional Comedy of Professional Boxing: The World Boxing Council, or WBC, has begun planning bankruptcy proceedings because of a lawsuit that says they need to pay out $31 million to a fighter they wronged.

The case began in 1998, when the WBC declared its light heavyweight title vacant after Roy Jones, the titleholder at the time, considered abandoning the crown to become a heavyweight.

German fighter Graciano Rocchigiani signed to fight American Michael Nunn for the vacated belt. On March 21, 1998, he won a split decision to become the WBC light-heavyweight champion.

But his reign as champion was brief. When Jones decided to return to the light-heavyweight ranks in June, he was restored to his position as WBC champion.

The WBC sent a letter to Rocchigiani saying the official rankings that showed him as champion were a "typographical error."

   I can only imagine the number of "editors" getting sh*tcanned over a $31 million "typo". You'd think a professional organization could come up with a better excuse policy that, say, a 12 year-old boy.

   Then again, this is professional boxing.

   Women Rejoice: 'Sex And The City' is back, even if it's the lite version.

   This probably ties in somehow with my office-wide pronouncement tonight that most women are crazy, but the fact that I took much heat for said statement when one of our photographers was announcing that they're all just leaves me confused and disoriented.

Choosing Sides Isn't Easy Sometimes
-- I'm pretty sure a previous column I wrote got a title almost identical to this, though I'm pretty sure that one didn't feature a pathetic, direct plea to get back on TV again designed as a witty ending.

   • There's nothing really to go here today. To put it simply, I just didn't see anything worthy of discussing.

   Although one of the students with Down's Syndrome who comes to my gym with a physical fitness class did start making faces at me while I was on the exercise bike.

   There's really no way one can respond to that, is there?


June 13, 2004 - Rockin' The Cell Phones
   France 2, England 1: See, these are the kinds of games I need to see more of. Right up until the part where France enters injury time down 1-0, then leaves it 2-1 winners.

   It's at times like these I'm glad I don't have digital cable, because a $179 charge really wouldn't have been enough discouragement to not order EURO 2004 on On Demand. We can't all be like my boss.

   City Living: Depending on where you are, you may not see things like people who have painted their car themselves -- and when I say painted, I mean "take a paintbrush and house paint and go to town" -- but don't be so sure you aren't missing something special.

   The fact that I could tell the man by the KFC had once had a light brown car, but one day decided he wanted a pine green car, if probably something he wasn't shooting for. At least he didn't have a souped up stereo system inside his swirlmobile, but really, that's another story for another day.

   Thanks Be To Fark: Drew Curtis said it best: "Big East schedules nonexistent bowl game in NYC's nonexistent football stadium.


   • Every so often, I'll peruse the CW statistics to see both how many of you are coming here and how you're getting here. I've talked about this in the past -- one month, more people were coming here in search of something involving JLo's ass than anything else, which says something that I can't really put my finger on.

   This month, among the hot topics is a certain Hollywood starlet. More than that, it's a search for a certain Hollywood starlet's phone number, which is apparently readily available on the Internet.

   I do not have it here.

   But sure enough, I found it without much trouble -- in part here, then the rest of it here. Google, it seems, may be way too good at what it does.

   Now, as you may have noted on the first site, the phone number actually got called as a means of confirming that it was real. It was, and the WAV is there to prove it. This proved a fact that, facetious or not, yielded much excitement and BOLD CAPITAL LETTERS.

   Fair enough. But I'll do you all one better.

(508) 992-2750

   This is my apartment number in Whale City. If you call it, not only will you hear my tenor on the voicemail, there's a decent chance I may pick up the phone and actually talk to you.

   And really, given I am a fan of that certain Hollywood startlet who has been to Los Angeles a couple times, it's as close as any of you dorks are ever going to get.


June 12, 2004 - Baseball And Boston
   Dodgers 14, Red Sox 5: I think I'm going to officially deem this my favorite regular season series ever, simply because there's absolutely nothing that can happen to leave me sad. It's my wife facing off with my mistress, so to speak, and the game ultimately probably won't mean much of anything. Remember I said that when the Sox lose to Wild Card by a game, why don't you.

   Though wearing the Dodgers jersey to work today may have been a little much. Especially since the actual explanation for it fuzzily involves Meg and the 1988 World Series.

   When Comedy Crosses The Imaginary Line: What would you do when faced with a joke that's both exceedingly funny and yet beyond the scope of awful?

Nancy Available
-- From The Onion, of course.

   Now, you too can answer that question.


   • The ACLU is pushing to get a Public Policy Question on the docket in Massachusetts for November -- the "Citizens' Initiative for a Safe and Free America." Among its main points:

The Safe and Free Initiative is intended to demonstrate grassroots support for the Massachusetts Legislature to assert its commitment to civil rights and civil liberties by carrying out the directives of the Public Policy Question. Shall the state representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of:

(1) a resolution asserting that the campaign against terrorism should not be waged at the expense of constitutionally protected civil rights and liberties of Massachusetts residents;

(2) legislation barring the use of state resources or institutions to carry out actions that violate constitutional rights, such as racial and religious profiling, conducting secret investigations without reasonable grounds, and maintaining files on individuals and organizations without reasonable suspicion of criminal conduct; and

(3) a resolution urging the Massachusetts Congressional delegation to vote to repeal provisions in the federal USA PATRIOT Act and other laws that infringe on civil rights and liberties and to oppose any future legislation that infringes on civil rights and liberties.

   Much of this feeling seems to be stemming from the MBTA move in recent weeks to start "randomly" asking passengers for ID and to check their bags. If you were to read the posts in here, you would think this is akin to rape in the streets, but that's not my point.

   The ACLU is one of those groups that makes some people bristle because they stick their nose in places where, I'd imagine, the genuine reasons for their creation really didn't apply. The "women can't join Augusta National Golf Club" sorts of questions, for example.

   I'd like to help them shake that persona by rewording their Public Policy Question. Who knows ... maybe it'll help it get on the ballot.

The Safe and Free Initiative is intended to demonstrate grassroots support for the Massachusetts Legislature to assert its commitment to civil rights and civil liberties by carrying out the directives of the Public Policy Question. Shall the state representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of:

(1) Vague statement about civil liberties.

(2) Vague statement about practices that have no real definition.

(3) Vague statement about civil liberties, again.

   Best of luck with that. And for those of you not from here, welcome to Massachusetts.

   Don't get me wrong ... I don't go out on the streets wearing my "I heart Big Brother" T-shirt on Sunday afternoons even if, as I'm not doing anything wrong, anyone can look at my things any time they want.

   All I'm saying is if you're going to go to the trouble of getting something put on a ballot, it should probably say slightly more than the equivelant lip service you're criticizing the other side for firing off.


June 11, 2004 - Prettiest Media Notes In MLB
   Ronald Reagan: I didn't actually get to watch any of today's services, nor did I do anything deliciously ironic to "celebrate my day off" like some of the witty among you, but I have read over the text of President Bush's eulogy.

Ronald Reagan spent decades in the film industry and in politics, fields known, on occasion, to change a man. But not this man. From Dixon to Des Moines, to Hollywood to Sacramento, to Washington, D.C., all who met him remembered the same sincere, honest, upright fellow.

   Maybe it's just the Republican Lite in me, or the Massachusetts non-Democrat listening to the pundits and people all around try not to swallow their tongues all week, but somehow I sense this quote is going to end up in a couple op-ed pieces over the coming days.

   Ray Charles: He now takes his rightful place beside Mother Teresa in the "People Who Died At The Wrong Time To Get Noticed By The World" Hall of Fame.

   Though I'm sure he didn't choose to do in the shadow of a world figure, I would imagine someone close to him running Ray Charles Online chose the Flash animation here that sets his version of "America The Beautiful" to photographs from 9/11.

   Figure anyone else has noticed that there's a photo of the missing Twin Towers when he's singing "O beautiful for spacious skies," or is that just me?

   Vin Scully: Don't worry, he's not dead. He did however eat chowder last night at the Red Sox game ... something I know because I pointed him in the direction of said chowder.


   • Outside of the interviewing of Red Sox players, this is my biggest Fenway brush with fame yet. Sitting at the end of a table eating a meal pregame with what turned out to be a piece of the Dodgers' press corps at the other end of the table, I look up to hear "Hey, Vin!" and perhaps my favorite play-by-play man of all time striding over to the table in a blue suit probably one shade too bright.

   Vin Scully, who if you don't recognize yet will via these and this, also has red hair. I was never aware of this, but really, there's no reason I should have been.

   As he sat down, there was some discussion among the L.A. contingent regarding the "shock" of the soup of the day being New England Clam Chowder on a Friday in Boston. So Vin wanted some chowder, and asked no one in particular where one could get said chowder.

   He probably would have found it on his own, but hey, we'll never have to know that thanks to my being there.

   Perhaps the best part of this whole story is how I continued to sit there while Vin was eating about ten feet away, just because when Vin Scully talks, he is always talking exactly like Vin Scully. It's all vaguely reminiscent of an old Letterman Top Ten list, but yet so true at the same time.

   And that's not even considering how the game turned out. When you figure I also saw Tuesday night's 1-0 affair with the Padres, I've been on a pretty good run of it.

   And I'm sure the fact these were both played against SoCal teams is fate's way of trying to tell me something.


June 10, 2004 - Cursing The Lakers
   Reversal Of Fortune: Suffice to say, I'm glad I didn't shoot the good half of this three weeks ago.

Hole
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
OUT
Yards
295
381
516
157
335
332
121
339
127
2603
PAR
4
4
5
3
4
4
3
4
3
34
Cooch
6
6
8
5
5
5
4
4
5
48
• Wyckoff CC - Holyoke, Mass. •
Hole
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
IN
Yards
334
314
382
453
373
340
186
335
148
2865
PAR
4
4
4
5
4
4
3
4
3
35
Cooch
6
3
4
5
4
5
3
5
3
38
PAR 69
86, 17 OVER PAR
5468 YARDS
Birdies: 1 - Pars: 6 - Bogeys: 5 - Others: 6
Fairways Hit: 6 of 13 - Greens In Regulation: 4 of 18 - Putts: 32

   Easily the best nine of the year, as after I chunked a drive and hit my second into a creek on No. 10, I didn't really hit another bad shot until a weak chip on No. 15.

   Putting just works wonders, I tell you. Though all the high numbers of late have the handicap at 15.5.

   You'd think I'd more pursue hobbies I'm actually good at.


   • Maybe it's just me, but when I see some firefighters at a car helping to recover keys locked inside the vehicle, I wonder if it was really necessary for them to bring the whole fire engine with them.

   I just don't have much else to say. When the net result of your night was being tired and attempting to keep yourself occupied as not to watch this, it doesn't make for a very compelling narrative.


June 9, 2004 - Degrees Of Difficulty
   The Junket Revisited: If there's one thing I have to thank the city of Houston for, it's that playing golf on a day where temps topped out at a muggy 93 degrees seemed like a cakewalk in comparison.

Hole
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
OUT
Yards
410
349
484
390
136
347
185
380
485
3166
PAR
4
4
5
4
3
4
3
4
5
36
Cooch
4
6
5
5
3
6
5
6
6
46
• Orchards GC - South Hadley, Mass. •
Hole
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
IN
Yards
159
356
322
438
403
366
446
152
409
3051
PAR
3
4
4
4
4
4
5
3
4
35
Cooch
4
6
5
7
5
5
6
5
4
47
PAR 71
93, 22 OVER PAR
6217 YARDS
Birdies: 0 - Pars: 4 - Bogeys: 7 - Others: 7
Fairways Hit: 5 of 14 - Greens In Regulation: 5 of 18 - Putts: 36

   This is probably as satisfied as I'll ever be about a round where I didn't break 90, simply because the only reason I wasn't in the low 80s is because I didn't putt better. The two most impressive putts I had all day were a bending 12-footer on No. 13 for 7 -- two drives in the woods, one getting found -- and a lag from about 35 feet on No. 4 to three inches.

   I had five birdie putts on the site of the U.S. Women's Open, hitting greens No. 1, 3 (temp), 5 (temp), 9 and 15, and that doesn't even count a pitch off the flagstick on No. 18 from about 40 yards out.

   The two temps should have been birdies -- hard to control putting on the fairway -- just like the last two shouldn't have been three-putt bogeys.

   Playing with my father, Ed from the paper and the golf pro at this course -- he's a good friend responsible for nearly all our free golf -- it was a great day where I hit some great shots. If you cared about anything up to now, I doubt you'd care about anything beyond this.

A Special Night For The Ace
-- The column I wrote on Tuesday's game, now actually appearing on the Net.

   • To go back to The Orchards for a moment, I do have to publicly express some concern about the Women's Open, whose first round is on July 1. Having just played the course a national championship of golf will be contested on, I'm not going to lie to you.

   You should watch if only because I'm not sure they can pull it off.

   I'll give the folks in South Hadley the benefit of the doubt on the condition of the course, even if that is a huge if at this point -- play will stop there on June 18th, but to say this place is still a mess is an understatement considering the bare spots and the amount of ground that needs to be sodded properly.

   The Orchards is not a large golf course with a large amount of space between its holes for spectators. We're going to be dealing with a national championship crowd, and the facility just looks woefully undersized to give the average spectator any semblance of room to maeuver.

   Course, it wouldn't surprise me that this is among the reasons the USGA picked the course, given the amount of time on Media Day they spoke of the joy about finally having spectators ring the fairways of previous championships. On TV, if I'm making any sort of correct estimate about the crowds WMass will put up there, the course is going to look stuffed to the gills.

   I'm just waiting until that first player makes some offhanded comment about the quality of the course. I readily admit I have no basis of comparison for how other championship courses have looked three weeks before their tourney, but when I can actually think for a moment that the new public course in South Hadley is in better shape than the private one hosting the Women's Open, there should be some concern from those involved.

   This moment of golf talk has been brought to you by sunshine, which abused me today, but somehow did not change my legs from the translucent color they were when I woke up. Gooooo sunshine.


June 8, 2004 - Homer No More
   Lakers 99, Pistons 91 (OT): It's a startling revelation, but it's time I've come to accept it.

   I'm cheering for Los Angeles.

   There's no real rhyme or reason for this, but when you consider I've called myself a Dodgers "fan" since 1988 and Little Cooch fell in love with the Kings for a time, we clearly are not allowed to live in the New England sporting landscape anymore.

   Dirtiness factor, if you're scoring at home, is higher than the LL phenomenon. Much higher.

   Red Sox 1, Padres 0: Now that's a baseball game.

   And this would be where you would read a story about a baseball game if our Web site actually operated properly.


   • It's nice that on the paper's Web site, the title bar says "Oops!" when a 404 Error comes up. You really feel the shame they must be feeling every time this happens.

   Sometimes I wonder if the "Oops!" gets more play than whatever the bottom sports story in the site list is. I think I know the answer, but I think the four years of college debt and the two years of working hard to pay it off with quality journalism don't make me want to know if I'm right.

   Sometimes I also wonder whether I belong in said business, which is about as far as anyone should be delving in my "plans for the future" at this point. In the same way I try not to write this when I'm emotionally peaking, it's best not to discuss dreams until they're something tangible.

   Unless they're the kind of dreams where you're walking on the beach in a silver dress and all your friends are there, but when you touch them they turn to sand. Because that's just cool.


June 7, 2004 - Slee
   Backtracking: Friday, June 4, was my two-year anniversary at The Standard-Times. About a month ago, I had planned to make that the day to unveil the grand plans I have for my future, leaving the rest of the year for rumination and the like.

   Instead, I decided to wear corduroy pants on a flight to Texas, a mistake I can not urge enough you do not make.

   More Backtracking: It's likely this isn't new to some people, but listen to this backmasked piece of 'Baby One More Time' and tell me what you hear.

   I tend to agree with this guy, but mileages may vary. And by the way, what a stupid segue phrase that is.


   • With all this talk of travel, it seems a perfect time to reveal My Spot, the place where the Internet says I'll eventually move and find blissful, unending happiness.

   Not surprisingly given my feelings about weather, it's not in New England. Going 24 spots down, exactly zero were in New England ... though I'll give Boston a wild card at this point.

It's Tucson!
It's Tucson, Arizona!

   You can't knock a place where I could golf 13 months a year and humidity isn't exactly an issue. Now, if I could only convince the NAQT people that Arizona State would be a great place to send me for my next free vacation ...

   U. of Arizona, which is in Tucson, has no quiz bowl team that I know of. Given I seem unable and unwilling to get out, I would hardly call this a knock against it.

1) Tucson, Arizona
2) Norfolk, Virginia
3) Phoenix, Arizona
4) Charlotte, North Carolina
5) Chesepeake-VA Beach, Virginia
6) Long Island, New York

   How Long Island and, lower down, New York City outpaced Southern California I'll never fully understand, but I'd imagine it has something to do with the fact I'm taking a Web quiz about where I should spend the rest of my life.


June 4-6, 2004 - Oh, It's Too Hot Today
   Ronald Reagan: I heard about this via someone's cell phone delivering them the news -- as you'll soon see, it's not as though the Net was available. While I can't say I was saddened by it, it is always notable when the greatest president of your generation dies.

   Yeah, I'm throwing it out there. After all, look at my choices.

Ronald Reagan (1981-1988)
George H.W. Bush (1989-1992)
Bill Clinton (1993-2000)
George W. Bush (2001- )

   Flame away. I like to throw a little politics in every now and then just to keep everyone on edge.


   • If this update in anything like the actual city I visited, you'll start to feel those sinister beads of sweat rolling down your spine around Talking Point No. 12, and by No. 20, you'll be inch-deep in grime.

Houston Postcard

   1) I was flown down to Houston on Friday for the 2004 NAQT High School National Championship Tournament, which was held at the Park Plaza hotel/convention complex that sits directly across the street from Reliant Park, shown above. The irony of this, given how I was supposed to end up in Houston before, clearly is not something I'm 100 percent over yet.

   2) Directly across the highway from Reliant in the other direction -- to the right forward of that photo -- is Six Flags AstroWorld, which may or may not be nicer than Six Flags New England, but whom I'm pretty sure hasn't killed any patrons with an attraction recently.

   3) Don't let all this entertainment in one place fool you though. Houston, apparently due to their being no real zoning laws or land issues in Texas, is perhaps the worst-designed city in America. It's like if someone built a normal centralized city, then slammed their foot down on it and watched all the buildings spray over a wide radius as if it were a ketchup packet.

   4) It's really an excellent design plan, because then visitors can not only spend nearly an hour getting from the airport to wherever they're going, they can see almost nothing on the way.

   5) Speaking of the airport, the only reason it took me longer than two minutes to get checked into my flight and be resting at the gate is because I didn't take my laptop out of my bag. Continental has kiosks for e-tickets with no checked luggage, and that took no more than 45 seconds.

   6) What was striking is how I spent the next half-hour walking inside the security check-in, completely unable to find a Dunkin Donuts.

   In New England.

   I'm as shocked as you are, unless you're not from New England, in which case I congratulate you on that.

   7) The actual flights were interesting to say the least. Boston-to-Cleveland featured "Cooch sits in front of the toddler who cries and kicks the seat the whole flight," though I have to credit her mom for at least trying to calm her down. After a walk around the Cleveland airport that accurately depicts Cleveland as a general hovel, Cleveland-to-Houston saw me sitting next to a member of a two-dozen strong youth group from Knoxville, Tenn., headed to Mexico to work at a church for a week.

   We chatted a little bit as he explained both what their "missionary" group was doing and how he was looking at studying molecular genetics next year at the University of Rochester -- as he put it, "we don't have a lot of those programs in the South."

   8) Of course, sitting amid a group of church-going youths, I determined the best thing to do once the flight began was to start watching episodes of Chappelle's Show.

   I want to believe that's why he tried to sleep and read Bible passages on the plane, but that might be just too much to hope for.

   9) Once we landed and I found my ride, I headed outside for my first breath of hot, miserable Houston air. It could have been just me, but it seemed much worse than when it's muggy in New England because here, you sense that the weather will stop being like that at some point.

   To say the least, this is not so in Houston. Though I suppose it drops into the 60s in, say, December.

   10) The postcard picture of the stadiums was taken from the hotel at about 5:30 p.m. on Friday.

   Within a half-hour of this, the sky was pitch black and a raging thunderstorm almost knocked out power. And I assure you, the storm didn't take 25 of those 30 minutes to build up.

   11) I do promise to stop bitching about the weather now. Other than to say that, in a three-day weekend, no one should have to shower six times. Sweating through two of your three changes of clothes in ten hours is the reason why hotels have laundry services.

   What's sad is I probably would have hit eight in a perfect world.

   12) There was no actual gameplay on Friday night, so we were left with a small swath of time to entertain ourselves after check-in. Some went off to get dinner and socialize. Many players practiced on game questions. Still others called it an early night.

   I broke into the Astrodome. Literally.

   13) Now, because Texas is a death-penalty state, I didn't not actually enter the Reliant Astrodome. This does not change the fact that I broke into it, however, a process I will now explain so you can duplicate it later.

   14) The Reliant Park complex (Stadium, Astrodome, Arena, Center) is all, obviously, surrounded by fencing and guard booths. Since I "went out for a walk" around 11:30 p.m., this was all closed up and most of the guards were gone.

   After walking around about half of the complex, soaking my pants because Texas doesn't drain and all but finishing off my camera battery, I come back around to the main gate to find it mysteriously wide open.

   Full ready to claim I was just "going for a walk" to anyone who asked, I enter and cross the Stadium parking lot toward the Astrodome. At this point, we're still in the joking about "Breaking Into The Astrodome" phase.

Astrodome at Night
-- Brightened to make even bad viewing possible.

   After being soaked further by the sprinkler systems, I made my way to the gates sunked in front of that black carport-type thing in the photo. Given they were concealed, I gave them some various tugs and pulls, but none sprung open.

   Coming out of there, I headed left toward another one of those cylindrical "Exit Only" pillars that actually had some lights on inside.

   They were blocked off by heavy wire gates with about half-inch holes between the wires and held closed -- the keylocks have been taken off -- by simple metal pins that go into the ground.

   Course I didn't notice the keylock part until after I'd put a finger through one of the holes, snagged the metal bar and pulled up, shocking myself when the door just fell open into me.

   It was at this point I stopped to take inventory. I'm by myself in Texas, and there are clearly guards around somewhere as the main Reliant Park gate didn't just open itself. I'm literally a step from entering an abandoned "Eighth Wonder of the World," but I'm also a step from entering a darkened, probably-not-kept-up building and officially committing noted crimes Breaking and Entering, and Trespassing.

   15) In the end, I didn't go in. Deciding to try and find others who'd go with me, I left the door open a crack and walked back to the hotel. Unable to find anyone and full-well planning on entering the dome, I went back to the complex only to find the main gate had been closed again. Though I easily found about 12 spots around the parking lots and fencing where I could have rolled under the chain-link, that seemed a little much.

   16) As for the rest of the weekend, I'd be lying if I said there was much redeeming value other than seeing some friends I don't see much of and essentially giving myself various jobs far harder than ones needed to validate NAQT's buying of my plane ticket and hotel.

   There was also a good deal of gnashing about spending the weekend with various groups of "college bowl people," but as it did throughout my time at BU, the people I like outweighed the rest just enough to accept future free vacations and the mocking of friends and relatives.

   The irony being most of my friends from home are also dorks, but so be it.

   17) For those interested in the actual tournament gameplay, I read a match between eventual champion Thomas Jefferson School of Science and Technology and whichever team was ranked No. 2 in Round Nine -- there were ten rounds on Saturday. During the match, the teams answered questions about the poem Sennacherib, the musical Enigma Variations and China/Taiwan's Chen Shui-bian all within one sentence of a 3-4 sentence clue.

   They could not, however, identify the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team with the knowledge that the team's 2004 slogan is "Red Means Go," that they play in the NL Central, and that two of their stars are Scott Rolen and Albert Pujols. One team answered Cincinnati, the other Philadelphia.

   I'm not sure what's sadder -- that this actually happened, or that I would have been shocked if it didn't. At least you can use my useless knowledge in a conversation, kids.

   18) That night, we attended what would prove to be the last win of Rice's reign as college baseball national champions, a 7-1 avenger against Texas Southern. As I put it to the other nine in attendance, it was just your average five-error, two-balk baseball game played as I sat in a pool of my own pestilence.

   I'm sorry, I just can't stop mentioning the sweat you are constantly covered by in Houston. I can not fathom why humans would live here during the summer months, even considering I was overdressed in "fancy" clothes all weekend.

   Though on the plus side, I sort of came to accept the squallor on Saturday night. We went to Sonic after the game, and I got the Country Fried Steak Toaster Sandwich Combo Meal just because it seemed like the most deliciously disgusting thing they sold.

   And it didn't even have that Chinese food shamy aftertaste.

   19) I'd be morbidly curious to see just what the calorie count for this trip was, especially considering the hotel had a rather-passable fitness center that I told myself I'd stop at at least 10 times as I walked passed it all weekend. Finishing off the trip with a chicken panini and 44 oz. of Sam Adams with this guy at the charmingly overpriced FOX Sports bar in the airport, I learned a valuable lesson -- if beer makes you sweat, do not drink much of it before getting on an airplane sitting a gate outside in Houston.

   Unless you're not bothered by giving off the vapor fumes usually associated with hot blacktop.

   20) I will say this, though. We returned to a damp Boston covered with a haze so thick, the ground couldn't be seen from the plane until we were more or less over the runway. I had parked in Central Parking for three days, meaning I had a $66 bill waiting for me. The $3 toll for the Ted Williams Tunnel came just moments after that.

   I drove with the window open and the radio blaring the shittiest pop music I could find all the way home.


   Miserable New England never felt so good.


June 3, 2004 - When Dorks Fly
   'Simpsons' Question: Does this site mapping Springfield prove the show has been on too long, or does it show what a slipshod job the show's creators have done in mapping out their backdrop?

   Personally, I'm just impressed the 'Matlock Expressway' is featured.

   Anglophiles Rejoice: Graham Norton, who you've heard of if you've ever watched 'BBC America,' is getting his own show in America.

   I have no idea exactly what it's about, but something tells me it'll be cheeky.

   The 40 Worst List Shows Ever: In VH1's continuing attempt to only show shows about lists of things came today's airing of the 40 Greatest Celebrity Feuds Ever.

   Coming in at No. 7 was the Notorious B.I.G. vs. Tupac Shakur. Seventh place. How are there six greater feuds than one where the two participants essentially murdered each other?

   More importantly, how is one of them Eminem vs. Moby?


   • Two things:

Hole
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
OUT
Yards
375
289
275
436
336
119
382
141
501
2854
PAR
4
4
4
5
4
3
4
3
5
36
Cooch
4
4
5
4
4
4
7
5
6
43
• Acushnet River Valley GC - Acushnet, Mass. •
Hole
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
IN
Yards
315
113
470
388
529
257
328
145
336
2881
PAR
4
3
5
4
5
4
4
3
4
36
Cooch
4
4
6
7
6
5
5
4
4
45
PAR 72
88, 16 OVER PAR
5735 YARDS
Birdies: 1 - Pars: 5 - Bogeys: 9 - Others: 3
Fairways Hit: 8 of 14 - Greens In Regulation: 4 of 18 - Putts: 34

   Going 16 over through 18 holes is a little less tolerable when you were one over through six, yet made more tolerable when you consider the round was free.

   And I'm going to Houston tomorrow for this. Postcard and Twenty Talking Points to come on Sunday.

   Better late than never, some people say. Which I hope accounts for the fact I'm going to try and get a haircut before a 10 a.m. flight.


June 2, 2004 - Summing It Up
   • Tonight, our new summer intern asked just what exactly people do for fun around Whale City. There were three of us standing around, at least two of a common age where fun would translate well.

   The consensus answer?

   Leave.

   There are better answers than this, but when the initial response is to look at each other and wonder ourselves, that's never good for anyone.


June 1, 2004 - The Grace Of Seagull Droppings
   Touching Ce-Web-rity: If you scroll back to the post of May 26, a comment has been left by who I'd have to believe is the actual Nina Sysko, creator of the Starburst wrapper prom dress.

hey thanks for the nice comments. im the one who made the dress. hmmmm. guess the guy who made this page has a lot of pent up anger for rednecks. good thing mine's quite white. thank you. i worked hard on it so its nice to hear a good word.

   Now, ignoring the fact that I never called anybody involved a redneck, and that as a dork I can call anyone I want the same, I can now list "being mocked by the Starburst prom dress girl" among the ten wierdest things that have ever happened to me. It will climb to No. 1 on the Web site list, replacing the time I chronicled all the drain-in-lid pasta pots only to have someone looking to buy one start e-mailing me about which I liked best.

   I once made a makeshift suit out of a giant silver garbage bag at the Daily Free Press, complete with a drawn-on Sharpie tie. There's a good chance I even wore it around the office all night in an attempt to "look professional."

   See, Nina? We're not that different after all.


   • So, where do we go from here?

   I drove to work today for reasons that escape me at the moment, and within seconds of getting out of my car, a seagull crapped on the car next to me.

   Now I know you've all seen what bird dung looks like on a car, and probably know what it looks like on your car.

   You really wouldn't think of it as once being in a liquid form right off the top, would you? Or is that just me?

   No, it didn't hit me, but it came a little closer than I'd like to think it should have.

   What's really nice about this is after you have a moment where you feel like, "Hey! I didn't get dumped on by a sea gull!," the rest of your night is just gravy. Even if something goes wrong, at least it didn't go wrong with you smelling like seagull droppings.

   Now that's some chicken soup for the soul.

   And it's probably the same color as chicken soup to boot.


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