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July 31, 2007 - Will Frilly Shirts Be Next?
   Oh, Look. The Inevitable: I guess you really can't turn down five billion dollars.

Many members had opposed the $5 billion offer, which became public on May 1, fearing Murdoch would interfere with the Journal's editorial independence. But monetary issues appeared to have caused many family members to switch their votes.

"They suddenly realized that if they were to turn down this deal, they would also be on the hook for paying all those fees to their advisers," Faber said, including Merrill Lynch and the law firm of Wachtell Lipton. "It adds up to a big number. So they started to change their minds."

Family members decided that if they approved the deal, they could try to get Murdoch to cover the fees, Faber said. And that resulted in a large enough percentage of Bancrofts favoring the deal.

   I have no idea what this means, but it feels like something I should be angry about.

The Boston-based branch of the Bancrofts were the first to switch their vote.
-- Fortunately, this is a much easier thing to be angry about.

In a lengthy letter to fellow family members last week, Bancroft descendant Crawford Hill urged them to vote for a sale, saying the family hadn't taken an active enough role in overseeing Dow Jones and was now "paying the price for our passivity over the past 25 years."

   Sounds like someone's paying them the price, you twit.

   Set Your TiVos To Self-Destruct: Wednesday night is the start of "Sox Appeal," the Red Sox-centered reality dating show which apparently isn't opposed to journalistic blow jobs.

"There's a certain kind of passion that fans feel for the Red Sox and attending games at Fenway Park, and when you mash everything together, it ignites," said Joel Feld, NESN's vice president for programming and, with Eric Korsh, the series's executive producer. "Fenway is the oldest ballpark in the major leagues, the Red Sox sell out every night, and the fan base is fiercely loyal. They suffered for decades and decades until the team won the World Series."

In other words, Sox fans are fools for love.

-- Or dumb as rocks. As one of them, I'm still going for dumb as rocks.

   There is absolutely no chance this show will be good. Not in a car wreck sense, not in a traditional sense, not in any sense. When an article trying to drum up interest in the show describes it as, and I quote, "one part 'Fever Pitch,' the other part 'The Bachelor'," I want to smash all the office televisions because there's a zero percent chance it won't end up on tonight simply because no one will change the channel after the Sox game is over.

   I can only hope my paper is sold, rebought and discontinued before I have to see all eight episodes.

Epstein Pulls Trigger On Difference Maker

Sox Don't See Ortiz ...
-- These stories would have been a lot better if I hadn't had to get a backup laptop delivered to me by Charlie an hour into the game.

   • There was a point this afternoon in the car, when the Eric Gagne trade had been finalized and the Jermaine Dye deal looked imminent, that I thought today's update would simply be a picture of Gagne, a picture of Dye and a picture of me from the 2004 World Series. That was my mood ... it was not entirely based in reality, but still there.

   Instead, you get this.

Dodger Stadium - Aug. 4, 2004
-- Aug. 4, 2004. The supermarket sunglasses would be
scratched and ruined by the end of the month.

   During the great Las Vegas-Los Angeles "Wandering West" trip, which so mightily deserved the write-up I never finished, I convinced my non-baseball fan friends to take me to Dodger Stadium. I'd been there before, but I kind of thought if I could at least get them to the stadium, I could sell the three of them on idea that a baseball game at one of the sport's greatest arenas would be a fun idea. Plus, it's not like Dodger games don't have beer!

   It did not work. I think they were all smart enough to know what I was trying to do, and the stop was a way to humor the only sports fan of the four of us.

   Now that I think about it, in a conversation this weekend with Mario at the wedding we were at, he actually pointed out he doesn't read my articles because "I just don't follow baseball at all." A-hole cost ma chance to see the rarest of the rare: Darren Dreifort in action!

   We ended up that night out in Orange County at the Yard House, where Erik drank so much beer he cried in the bathroom. But before we left Chavez Ravine, I went in the gift shop with one goal in mind.

   Buying an Eric Gagne "Game Over" T-shirt.

Eric Gagne - Game Over
-- Shockingly, I've used this picture before.

   It'd be inaccurate to say Gagne was at the height of his powers, because he'd won the Cy Young in 2003 and his 84-save streak had ended a month before. But suffice to say on the 2004 Dodgers, Eric Gagne was "the shit." Ideally, I'd find a shirt with just his floating head on it, small, upper chest. I'd have settled for something blue, with the whole logo on it.

   Not only were they only selling gray shirts, every one had friggin' blue fringe for his goatee. Every single one.

   I ended up buying the hat shown above, which I still wear with regularity. Same probably wouldn't be said of the shirt, which would have faded in fashion a bit, what with the elbow explosion and the almost career ending and all.

   I guess it worked out, which you could also say for the next day, when for whatever reason I decided to comb my very orange hair forward like a dork.

Some Deli in Burbank, Calif.
-- Today knows as "The Mike Timlin."

July 30, 2007 - I Can Barely Survive Western Mass.
   Capping It Off: At the wedding this weekend, I was confronted by a hat very similar to this.

New York and Company Hat
-- Only difference is the color. Design is identical.

   It was bought by someone I know, and when it began to drizzle a little bit, said female called for her hat. Being me and having no actual sense of my namesake "haute couture," I immediately said something to the effect of "You paid money for that? On purpose?"

   I was met with shock that I'd make fun of such a purchase, even with my admitting I have no concept of high fashion. This didn't change the response, since when I kept going, there was some mutterance about the string I had hanging from my shirt pocket. The sort-of passive-aggressive shot I both relish and that gives away the identity of the hat buyer to anyone from my Boston Univ. circle of friends.

   Regardless, that's not my point here. I'm curious as to what, of these two things, is worse:

   1) Having bought the hat in the first place;

   2) Telling everyone, once I got started, that you paid "like $200" for a hat that's listed on the NY&Co. Web site as being on sale for $9.25?

   I think it's pretty clearly No. 2, but I have to wonder if I misheard what she said. I'm almost positive I didn't, but sweet Jesus ... I'd almost rather she have paid 10-20 times the list price over lying to friends just to make yourself feel better.

   • It still disappoints me a little bit, because Man vs. Wild is one of those TV shows that gets better every time you watch it. But it's not exactly a shock to find out that most of The Bear Grylls Experience might be largely bullshit.

On the program, Grylls appears to camp out in quickly-built shelters deep in the wilderness while battling hypothermia and dehydration. But when the cameras stop rolling, Grylls has actually moved to luxurious hotels.

In the last two seasons, he and producers have contrived other scenes to make it appear as if Grylls is more skilled than he really is, a consultant for the show told The Times of London.

. . .

According to Weinert, while filming in California's Sierra Nevada mountains -- an episode in which Grylls, 33, is seen biting off the head of a snake for breakfast -- Grylls actually spent some nights with the show's crew in a lodge outfitted with television, stone fireplaces, hot tubs and Internet access.

-- My new friends at the New York Post.

   Apparently, these are not new charges. Though really, they don't change anything, since the point of "Man vs. Wild" for a pasty white guy who would just assume die than eat a live snake isn't to learn survival skills. It's to watch him run up and down a mountain, saying things like "This water's incredibly cold. The best thing I can do after swimming in this glacial water is take off my shirt and do pushups for a little while."

   That there's an entire Fark thread devoted to people pointing out, "Hey, maybe you should try climbing up a sheer rock face when you have a paunch" just makes it all that much better.

   That Wiki of evidence that the show is fake might actually be better than the show itself, by the way. "Dead badger actually steak inside badger skin." "Climbing harness and rope visible in canyon ascent." "Commercial-style fishing hooks inexplicably 'made' offcamera."

   The show just got better, in my opinion.

July 27-29, 2007 - Wed 3: A Hello Kitty-Free Experience
   Freelancing Often Isn't A Choice: Even before FJM got to it, Google Alerts enlightened me to the worst column I've ever read.

   I suppose you could argue that its presence is merely to engender this sort of emotion. I've been told that's why a lot of people write columns: It's far easier to piss someone off than to make them think critically about something.

   But when the whole thing is a poor metaphor, the facts are sometimes spotty and often applied incorrectly, and the sarcasm is based on a belief that's not at all rooted in reality, none of that should matter.

   That the writer will feel righteous and proud of his work when dumbass Red Sox fan boys e-mail him in a rage, completely missing the point that his work is crap for entirely other reasons, just makes me overjoyed that I write in an outlet that often leaves me wondering whether anyone ever even sees what I've done.

Not Much Excitement Blowing in the Trade Winds
-- That said, this week's Inside Baseball is not exactly an advertisement for my deserving a larger stage. Well, outside of The Stat That Time Forgot, as always.

   Miller Chill: It's nice to see that the people who gave the world Tequiza have branched out to infect other shitty beer makers.

   By the way, I can't fucking fathom Tequiza is still being made. When your product's most telling characteristic is that the first sip's usually accompanied by someone saying, "Jesus, has this gone bad?" ...

   • I feel much better that someone I know took some pictures of this weekend's actual wedding ceremony. Because I can post this:

Brian & Nan
-- The bride, beautiful and everything.

   right before I post this without concern about perceptions or anything inaccurate.

Brian & Nan
-- The bride, pole dancing with her husband.

I am aware that's what pictured here is not actual pole dancing. You're just going to have to trust me that the pole shown there was used for its intended purpose several times, with the expected results. This is one of only two usable pictures I have, shocking considering I was using a cell phone camera to try and shoot inside a predictably lit nightclub.

By the by, here's the other picture.

Erik & Julie
-- Julie being choked by a near-sleeping Erik. I can only presume she deserved it.

   Having forgotten my camera, you'll just have to take my word that it was another beautiful wedding, and one that narrowly dodged the usual enemies of an outdoor wedding: rain and a Guster concert, which was going on in the outdoor amphitheater nearby.

   Considering Guster played shows at the Student Union roughly every other semester while I was at BU, it's pretty safe to say I've never come so close, so often to one band I have no desire to see perform. Though given the outdoor nature of the concert, I did hear a good chunk of the show while we were shuttling out to the cars, getting the booze our table had bought to circumvent the idea of the cash bar.

   Is that bad form? I just didn't want to be stuck drinking Bud Light all night is all.

-- Lousy criminals, flanked by Charlie and the groom.

   After three weddings in a month, I'm rapidly learning that there's numerous choices when it comes to marriage symbolism. At wedding No. 1, I'm sure there was some sort of symbol of the joining together of two people, but given it was during a 90-minute Catholic mass, I'll presume I either didn't understand it or would mangle it if I tried to explain. In New Mexico, both halves drank from the wedding cup, which looked like something you'd see at a very strange fraternity party. This weekend, Brian and Nan poured two vials of colored sand into a larger vessel, creating both a mixture of themselves and something that reminded me a of a kindergarten art project that created a candle your mother would never burn, because it was too precious.

   Given I'm largely viewing this year as a staging area for my own wedding, I'm perplexed as to how I can use this freedom for my own comedy and the enjoyment of those forced to watch me try and be sincere for a whole afternoon. Crashing our two current cars together, forever fusing the bodies as one and forcing someone to give us a nicer vehicle? Something Gallagher inspired? I'm open to suggestions.

   The rest of the summer features weddings that don't directly involve my friends, so I'd be surprised if any of them could live up to the high standards set by this July cavalcade. But really, every wedding this month managed to easily exceed my expectations, so as with most things, I'd probably be wise to shut up.

   So I will, but not before this.

Dumb Couple
-- Thank goodness I remembered to wear my douchebag-colored shirt.
Otherwise, I'd only look half as stupid.

July 26, 2007 - Hairy Situations
   • It occurred to me today I haven't shaved since Monday.

No shaving. Or smiling.
-- Julie, upon seeing this: "You look so angry!"

   There's not much of a reason for this. I left the charger cord for my shaver at the hotel in New York at the first wedding of the month. This led to me conserving the battery in the shaver I had until I could buy a whole new one: it was going to take just as long to try and find replacement heads and a new charger, both of which were needed, and Consumer Reports loved some really cheap model that I could get on Amazon for even cheaper.

   So, I started shaving every other day. I got the new razor, but having already gotten out of the habit of grinding blades against my skin every afternoon before I went to work, I figured I'd try doing it every other day. After all, as the above photo shows, I'm not exactly the sort of person who gets a five o'clock shadow in the time it take me to walk to work.

   Wednesday comes around, and it's a muggy day in Whale City. After getting out of the shower, I'm kind of sweating, which isn't a real fun way to attempt to shave when you have an electric. So I skip again.

   Then today, where I go into the bathroom with the intention of cleaning myself up, until I realize I'm in uncharted territory. Since I started shaving, I've honestly never gone this long without. Usually, my face gets all itchy or I can't deal with all the hair or something.

   Now, I think it's time to actually see what would happen if I attempted to grow something. A beard, a goatee, anything. I'd kind of just accepted that it was never going to happen, both out of want and practicality, but what the hell?

   Julie seems on board with this, which isn't surprising given her demeanor and general happiness with my personal appearance. When I go home on Friday afternoon in preparation for Wed 3: The Hello Kitty Experience, my mother will likely be on the exact opposite end of the spectrum. I'm expecting stern condemnation, then mocking, then acceptance, then mocking until the end of time. It's pretty much become our system.

   The only variable is Sunday being her 59th birthday. I'm just enough of a wild card that she might think mocking me too hard will lessen the quality of her birthday present. Little does she know I have no idea what you buy 59-year-old women who love cats and reality television. Or at the very least, I'm unwilling to actually buy any of the things you would buy 59-year-old women who love cats and reality television.

   Ultimately, I don't see this lasting much longer. There's been plenty of moments today where I came pretty close to just shaving it all over and forgetting it ever happened, but what probably happens is I save the goatee in an effort to look like every other pasty white poseur in the region.

   Maybe next time I go to a Sox game, I could ask Kevin Youkilis for a little bit of extra hair.

Badger on Face

   Lord knows he's got enough.

July 25, 2007 - Short Story About Boxing
   Fellow Alumni Update: Ray Henry was the man chosen over me as news editor of the Daily Free Press many semesters ago, and he ultimately got in and out of the Whale City Fishwrap while I sat blissfully in sports.

   He does some big-time newswriting now for the AP. This, however, is not that. At all.

Oscar the cat seems to have an uncanny knack for predicting when nursing home patients are going to die, by curling up next to them during their final hours. His accuracy, observed in 25 cases, has led the staff to call family members once he has chosen someone. It usually means they have less than four hours to live.

"He doesn't make too many mistakes. He seems to understand when patients are about to die," said Dr. David Dosa in an interview. He describes the phenomenon in a poignant essay in Thursday's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

   I like cats, and I would like this cat. I, however, would not like figuring out I'm about to die by a cat curling up next to me. Something tells me I'd take it out on the cat.

   So when this cat is about to die, will people figure it out by another cat curling up next to it to sit? Or better yet, will patients rise from their bed and start chasing it around?

   • This afternoon at work, a daughter and her 76-year-old father came in. The father was convinced that he was fighting in the Golden Gloves tonight, and that his "stubborn" daughter was trying to prevent him from doing so. You see, he'd won the Golden Gloves FIVE TIMES, and somehow, our paper had something to do with the whole thing. We either ran the competition, or wrote something in the paper about the competition, or the commissioner worked there.

   I never figured out what our tie to the whole thing was. I think he thought either he was fighting at our building, or that the commissioner used to work for us back when I was spending my days not being born. He also seemed to think the newspaper's old downtown building, which is about to become luxury condos, still produces a paper that rivals ours. Now that, that would be fun.

   As the only person in the sports department when they called, I had to go downstairs and humor a crazy man for 10 minutes. Which is fine, but when a person calls from downstairs and says their father needs to see someone from sports because he's ready to "drop the gloves," there's some initial concern.

   At first, I thought he might have been there for an interview. That became clear it wasn't the case when his daughter looked at me as he ranted, did the spinning finger next to her temple and mouthed "he's crazy." This did not stop her from bringing him to the newspaper building, but I get the impression he kind of forced her hand on that issue.

   Apparently, this man did actually win the Golden Gloves several times. But in the words of our boxing writer, who had the story relayed to him over the phone, "I didn't think he was that far gone."

   Dan Shaughnessy, I can guarantee you, never has had this happen to him.

July 24, 2007 - R.I.P., Tedy Bruschi Death Rumor
   The Donaghy Scandal: I look at the hour-plus I spent today watching the David Stern press conference akin to the never-getting-that-time-back feeling I had after the MLB Congressional meeting on steroids. Ultimately it was like watching death, but I'll remember it for years to come.

   Being a degenerate gambler gives me some insight into the story, too. Namely, this belief that it has something to do with NBA referees not getting paid enough was BS from the start. And here's the proof.

Experts in the world of sports betting in Nevada, the only state in which wagering on sporting events is legal, said that news of a referee being under investigation did not surprise them.

"Everyone thinks of point-shaving scandals as involving players, but I've always felt at this point it would be a referee," said Bryan Leonard, a professional sports bettor and handicapper in Las Vegas for 24 years. "In the N.B.A., players are making millions of dollars. They don't need the money. What do referees make?"

According to two referees, an official of Donaghy's experience would have made about $200,000 last season, not including money he earned by working two rounds of the playoffs, estimated at about $75,000.

-- Stern put it at about $260,000.

   If you're a true degenerate gambler, you need the rush. Look at all the big-time poker pros who are rolling in money, but pissing it away at craps, sports betting, roulette, whatever. It's the need to gamble.

   This probably also proves a point about me, but certainly not to the point where winning a million-dollar poker tournament does anything other than set me up for a long, long, long, long time.

Boston Bench Has Some Building Blocks
-- Would have been much better if I'd gotten quotes for a story like this over the weekend.

   • Earlier tonight, after seeing a commercial for Hot Rod too many times in a short period, I decided that the Certain Hollywood Starlet's replacement in the land of Meaningless Hollywood Crushes -- yes, we're not even waiting until she's found dead of an overdose -- would be Isla "I Was The Crazy Red-Haired Chick in 'Wedding Crashers' Fisher.

   I never saw 'Wedding Crashers,' certainly not after most of the male world said the last half-hour ruined the whole film. I'll just assume it fits the plot mold you'd figure it would, and move on.

   So I start doing some research on Google. Glancing at some photos, and reading some trivia. This leads me to discover the somewhat-heartwarming, somewhat-disturbing truth.

Isla Fisher & Sacha Baron Cohen
-- She's engaged to G. Sacha Borat Baron Bruno Cohen.

   Not only that, she apparently put up with him being in 'Borat' character 24 hours a day during the filming of the movie.

   That's a lot of things. This:

Crazy person.

   I'd imagine, was prominent among them.

July 23, 2007 - Nature. And Graffiti.
   Just Like FJM: Though they've done nothing to deserve it, this post and many posts in the future are brought to you by Bacon Salt. Because damn it, everything should taste like bacon. Even salt.

A partnership was struck to turn this bacon-flavored dream into a reality. We asked friends, colleagues and family members if we were completely nuts, but at each turn we got encouragement and more importantly, people who just couldn't wait to eat it. We learned that people were unsatisfied by the bacon flavored products on the market: too smokey, too crunchy and none of it tasted like real, savory, delicious bacon, they said. We smelled a big opportunity (which, ironically, smelled exactly like bacon frying on a Sunday morning).
-- This is so real, it hurts. Like a bacon-related heart attack.

   And the creators are selling T-shirts, with the proceeds benefitting the very-real Mercy Corps. I think I liked the idea better before I started thinking and reading about it.

   Water Always Finds The Crack: Not because I hate it or anything nefarious like this, I've been waiting since the day it came out for the stories about warm-hearted techies who either cracked the iPhone or found a bunch of flaws and posted them on YouTube. Like when, at the height of the "Cooch loves Bowling in Wii Sports" phase, I learned the 91-pin strike trick I've still yet to accomplish. Whether that's more due to suckitude or not owning a Wii is hard to decide.

   Anyway, the iPhone's got some security flaw. They built a Web site about it. Edgar can't help.

   But fortunately, it appears that gook love conquers all.

Mr. Rubin said his goal was to discover vulnerabilities and warn of them so that companies would strengthen their products and consumers would not be lulled into thinking that the technology they use was completely secure.

Mr. Rubin said, "I will think twice before getting on a random public WiFi network now," but his overall opinion of the phone has not changed.

"You'd have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands to get it away from me,"

   • Westport's Gooseberry Point is the southern-most in what my bosses consider SouthCoast, a li'l neck connected to the part of the beach where people have turned their trailers into permanent beach homes.

   It, however, is so beautiful, even I could appreciate it.

Gooseberry Point, Westport, Mass.

Gooseberry Point, Westport, Mass.

Gooseberry Point, Westport, Mass.

Gooseberry Point, Westport, Mass.

Julie actually has better photos, with her new camera phone. So, more later.

   Yet Gooseberry Point has absolutely nothing to do with this:

-- Julie, hiding/working under my desk.

   What she's doing is really rather a simple explanation. But it's also one that's a lot more fun if it's left up to the reader.

July 22, 2007 - Poker's More Fun When You Win
   When Common Sense Surrenders: The last Harry Potter book, which has sold something like eight million copies, can't be on the main New York Times Bestseller List for fiction because seven years ago, the New York Times banished all the Potter books to a children's list they just made up.

   The reason?

The Times' decision was a response to complaints from many publishers -- not Scholastic, of course -- that Harry Potter was hogging and clogging the top of the best-seller list, depriving the public of access to other popular fiction. "By expanding the number of books that are trumpeted in the pages of the New York Times," says Bill Thomas, the editor in chief of Doubleday, "it increases the variety of books and the choices for different kinds of readers."

   Basically, people were mad that one kind of book was selling way, way, way more than theirs, so they bitched and the New York Times went, "OK."

   There are so many other things to say, but really, I don't care. Plus:

In one sense, there is something delightfully old-world about the Times list. Its rankings are compiled from the unverified reports of nearly 4,000 bookstores, plus wholesalers.

   Delightfully old world. Creation Jayson Blair-level bullshit. Whatever.

   • At the end of the day today, it struck me I'd spent a couple days this week sitting in close proximity to one Joe Cowley, the Chicago sportswriter who made headlines last year by being an idiot, voting probably-the-actual-MVP Derek Jeter sixth on his ballot.

   This might be even better, though.

In May 2004 while traveling with the White Sox on a road trip to Toronto, Cowley made disparaging remarks about the city of Toronto in a radio interview, calling it "nothing but a city in a third-world country." Subsequently during the series in Toronto, Cowley refused to stand for the Canadian national anthem prior to a game.

   Yeah. You show 'em, anonymous old white guy.

Lester's Call-Up Sign of Strength

Ortiz Out Again, But No Real Worry

July 21, 2007 - No Callbacks
   • It's funny because for a moment, I didn't see the source and the headline "Kobayashi Retires From Eating" saddened me.

According to Kobayashi, the transition from a life of eating to one of not eating has not been easy.

"Do I still crave food? Of course -- usually about three times per day," Kobayashi said. "There are times when the thought of never eating again really hurts. There are times when it burns, times when it aches, times when it induces fainting, and times when my blood pressure suddenly drops and I experience heart palpitations for two straight minutes. Like any change in life, it's going to be an adjustment."

   That "True Life" special really brought us closer. The way it was about him and I watched it.

Westport's Fernandes Takes Another Step Up
-- Inside Baseball. SouthCoast's Sox prospect now in the High-A California League pinball machine. Plus, Book Corner!

July 20, 2007 - Callbacks
   • Far be it for me, miniature golf tournament player, longtime College Bowl organizer and participant and man who talks baby talk to pets, to start getting all high and mighty about anything.

   But as someone who had to get his section of the newspaper out 15 minutes early to alleviate the pressure late reporting on HARRY POTTER caused, I do have to say ...

Harry Potter
-- Cute. Especially since I can't see any crazy parent.

Saida Miller, nine months, is dressed like Harry Potter as her mother waits for the release of J. K. Rowling's book "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" at in North Little Rock, Ark., at a Books A Million store Friday. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

Harry Potter
-- Perfectly acceptable. This should be what kids do.

Renee Sullivan-Gonzalez smiles as she leaves Square Books Jr. in Oxford, Miss., with a copy of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows" on Saturday. (AP Photo/Oxford Eagle, Bruce Newman)

Harry Potter
-- You're starting to lose me, but they didn't get married at the store.

Bride Courtney Gordon, left, with her husband Shawn Gordon who went from their wedding reception to a bookstore pose with a copy of the latest Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, that they purchased just after midnight on their wedding day, in Clackamas, Ore., on Saturday morning. (AP Photo/Greg Wahl-Stephens)

Harry Potter
-- And the patient has dies on the table. Sound the alarms

Dominick Sherry, left, and Lauren Rapciak, right, stroll through Oak Park, Ill. dressed as their favorite Harry Potter characters, Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy, respectively, Friday. (AP Photo/ Stacie Freudenberg)

   They're not at a party. They're quite possibly not going to a party. They're just walking the streets. Your children could be nearby.

   May God have mercy on them.

   Two points:

   1) I consider wearing a sports jersey or a hat on the day of a big game different than this not just because it hits close to home, but because that doesn't stick out as far. This is the equal of painting your face not simply period, but the morning of the game and spending your whole day like that.

-- It's almost too vivid. Especially the showing of the apartment.

   2) Realizing that I will never read the book and already had the World Series of Poker ending spolied for me, I did the necessary digging to find the "leaked ending" everyone talked about last week.

   Well, I was surprised. Though I've seen one of the movies and it was long enough ago that all I remember is the whole "Snape kills Dumbledore" fiasco. Lowlighted by this assholery.

   The movie was decent as movies go. Sitting in the far left of the front row next to a trash can, though, I could have done without.

July 18-19, 2007 - Now, With Laundry Baskets
   What The Hell Happened?: My family thinks it's funny when they call me at 10:15 a.m., shouting "Wake up! Wake up! We've just crossed back into Massachusetts, and we'll be at your apartment in a half-hour!"

   I wonder if they know that it's truly real, and that their leaving the homestead before 9 a.m. is a largely unnecessary part of coming to visit and returning my laundry basket.

   I don't think anything terribly interesting happened on Wednesday anyway. I didn't go to the Red Sox game, then spent two-plus hours watching why I didn't come to fruition. Games with the Royals just aren't the same without Mark Redman to grouse about anymore.

Surreal Moments Bring Out The Fan in Everyone
-- The weekly column, spinning off the British Open. Way off the British Open.

A Long Night of Missed Chances
-- It's a lot easier to write a game story when you can spend the whole game doing it.

Hamstring Sends Drew to Bench
-- The notebook, written entirely during an unexpectedly free hour and 56 minutes.

'Experience of a Lifetime' for Mattapoisett Girl
-- Strictly mop-up work and editing on a Sox-skewed news story. The EMC Club is very nice.

   • Really. Very, very nice. Never mind that walkie-talkies and security clearance, and potentially black lights, were needed just for me to go in there for an inning.

   That's also where they keep the World Series trophy. Though really, if you haven't made contact with that thing by now, you never really wanted to, did you?

July 17, 2007 - It's The FJM In Me
   • Everyday fans, kicking my ass once more.

As the tension mounts between Alex Rodriguez and the New York Yankees, it's becoming increasingly clear that Number 13 will opt out of his contract at the end of the season.
-- Wrong. It's not clear. He probably will, but that's not the point.

Don't get me wrong -- Rodriguez is a great player, and the Sox have a huge hole at short, where Julio Lugo is struggling to stay above the Mendoza Line. But if A-Rod couldn't handle the pressure in New York, he's not going to make it in Boston.

Rodriguez would have to deliver multiple World Series rings before Boston fans even considered accepting him as bona fide member of the Sox. There's simply no other way to overcome so much historical bad blood.

-- How about hitting six gazillion home runs over the Green Monster? That wouldn't dilute some blood?

Speaking of A-Rod's 2007 production: his stellar season feels more like a push for money in a walk year than anything else. We saw it with Adrian Beltre in 2004 and Alfonso Soriano last year: There’s no motivation like the promise of a new contract.
-- This paper disputes the walk year theory with facts. Worth noting.

A-Rod's loyalty, like that of many other players, is to the highest bidder. There's nothing wrong with that -- but remember that the Sox were built on chemistry when they won it all in 2004.
-- Chemistry and having players who were good at playing baseball. But go on.

Sure the '04 Sox had marquee players making millions of dollars, but you could sense that they genuinely liked playing together.

Rodriguez, on the other hand, has never endeared himself to his teammates or his fanbase. And seriously: Can you really see A-Rod getting along with Red Sox icons like David Ortiz or Manny Ramirez when he's hearing the boo birds every time he comes to bat?

-- Much more so than I could see him shitting in their lockers just to relieve the oppressive pressure jerks like me are putting on him.

   In this dimwit's defense, there are plenty of paid, professional writers saying the same thing no less eloquently. So he should feel like he's just as good as the real media, because he seems to be.

   Personally, I'd love to watch A-Rod play for the team I cover for the next several years, because he is awesome at playing baseball. It won't happen, but it's a nice thought.

   The only down side would be, if he does get $30 million per year, there's a zero percent chance I wouldn't die in a car accident or of a heart attack based on something I'd read or hear or see during his Sox career.

July 16, 2007 - The Countdown Begins
   Legends Missed: For all my time in Boston in the past decade, I never once crossed paths with Mr. Butch. I'd only heard stories about him, and confused him with the guy who sat in front of the BU Bookstore with a friggin' MP3 player.

Dreadlocked, homeless, and usually cheerful, Mr. Butch was an iconic presence in Kenmore Square for years before moving his base of operations to Harvard Avenue in Allston a decade ago. Ranting in rhyme with a beer in hand -- a tall boy, preferably -- he would panhandle one minute and offer to share his take with a friend the next.

"Mr. Butch," whose name was Harold Madison Jr., died (Thursday) of injuries from an early morning crash when the motor scooter he was driving hit a pole, friends and family said.

The subject of YouTube videos, a MySpace tribute page, and a Wikipedia entry, Mr. Butch may have been the most famous street person in Boston.

. . .

At 56, he had lived on Boston's streets for about 30 years. In Kenmore Square and his Allston neighborhood -- areas rife with college students and people who prefer less traditional approaches to life -- some saw in Mr. Butch a latter-day Thoreau, a man who chose a path that didn't involve taxes, rent, or office cubicles. Instead, he helped the elderly cross streets, joyously played air guitar, philosophized, and sang.

   Thirty years? That is dedication to bummery. Wonder what could have driven him to such a decision?

Born in Worcester, he grew up in a large family. His father, Harold Sr., dubbed him Butch.

A talented drummer, he sat in with bands and played with a mentor in the local music scene, picking up the guitar in his midteens and filling a closet with percussion instruments he made from items he found. He did not finish high school and moved to Kenmore Square in the 1970s when Worcester became inhospitable to his frequent drinking.

   I have no idea what that means, and yet, it's my favorite turn of phrase this month.

   Meaningless Baseball Stats: Of course, my trips to Boston have been rare of late, to the point where other people on the Sox beat actually asked me where I'd been. (Subtly awesome, by the way.) In the first 16 days of June, I attended eight Red Sox games, including the two at Chase Field in Arizona. Monday marked a full month since that date, and I rolled in for only my third game in that period, one of which was the Texas game I watched from the seats with my parents.

   Going a step further, when you factor in my regional absence the past two long weekends and the All-Star Break when I was around, I can honestly (and sheepishly) say tonight was the first time I had seen the Red Sox play live since the Fourth of July. That's got to be the longest stretch I can say that since I disowned the team in the waning days of 2001.

   And yet, I made it back just in time for KASON GABBARD, who's claim to fame is sort of looking like Stifler, to become the first Red Sox pitcher I've ever seen throw a complete-game shutout.

Sox Need Schilling, But No Hurry
-- Written around No. 38's side session, and an apparent panic among the lunatic fringes. Already, more credit than they deserve to get.

Sox Finding Their Power Strokes
-- The notebook, Gabbard-free since he was going to dominate the AP gamer. The nuggets at the end honestly made my entire drive home happy.

   • At 2:35 a.m., technically on July 17, I learned of Rupert Murdoch reaching a tentative deal to buy Dow Jones, which includes my ass somewhere way down the chain.

My New Relatives?
-- Does this mean 'The Simpsons' will be my cousins soon?

   I am not happy. I am not nervous. I am not much of anything yet beyond denial that it will change my daily life, least until the buying and selling is over. I just wanted to note when I could officially say the party started breaking up, if it does end up doing so.

July 12-15, 2007 - Wed 2: What Scale?
   My Brain Feels Desiccated: I did not buy Star Magazine during my nearly two-hour layover in Chicago this evening. I did, however, find myself seated next to a purchased copy of the magazine without a whole lot to do.

   I got through exactly half of it, right up to the "Nicole Richie's Baby is in Trouble!" centerpiece, before the shaking became too strong to continue. Here's what I learned:

   -- Jack Nicholson is wicked, wicked fat. Course, he's also 70, but that's apparently still not totally cool.

   -- Janet Jackson is wicked, wicked fat. Apparently, gaining 60 pounds is not a big deal for her when she's not promoting a record.

   -- Rachael Ray's husband likes kinky things. To the tune of his once paying $500 to have a woman spit on him and shove her feet in his face. Which, apparently, is something you can order off the Internet.

   -- Nicole Richie's baby is in trouble. Somehow involving "73,000 pills," which is pretty much f'ing impossible.

   -- Drag queens can serve as unironic fashion consultants. That is, their words can be taken as gospel despite their decision to go outside with their penises tucked between their legs.

   -- Carmen Electra and Joan Jett were lesbian lovers, but aren't anymore. But that's not the biggest news. Oh no, that's saved for ...

   -- Our old friend, the Certain Hollywood Starlet. In an exclusive, she lists herself as "bisexual" on MySpace and is signing kinky love notes with the last name of this poor excuse for a teenage boy look-alike. It's hard to fathom how she could be doing things that would make her any more worthy of euthanasia, isn't it? And it's impossible for the people writing these stories to be getting paid enough to stomach the amount of bile they must spew daily.

   The airport is one thing, but if I ever started finding Julie buying copies of Star and bringing them into the apartment, she would be found a couple weeks from now chopped up in a paper bag on a median. I started reading the magazine genuinely curious, and finished it feeling like I'd been huffing natural gas for 20 minutes. I can't even grasp there are men out there married to women who not only subscribe to it, but who try to discuss the things they read with those men at the dinner table.

   Now you know why this write-up took an extra day to do. Having learned all this, I forgot how to type.

   • I feel like I witnessed history this weekend. Nick and Rachel, who wed this weekend, absolutely smashed the wedding scale. Not only did they smash the scale, they smashed it, threw it out into the sagebrush, danced, went out into the sagebrush, got all the pieces and recycled them into a mosaic to hang about the bathroom mirror.

Nick & Rachel - Taos, N.M.

Nick & Rachel - Taos, N.M.

Nick & Rachel - Taos, N.M.

Nick & Rachel - Taos, N.M.

   You shouldn't feel bad, because they had some advantages over wherever and however you got married. Rachel's parents own a pseudo-resort house in Taos, N.M., which is where the whole wedding was and where we stayed for four days. The couple wasn't into the whole church service thing, so they wrote their own vows in a 15-minute ceremony overseen by an officiant from the Universal Life Church. The groomsmens' attire was a black and red bowling shirt and black pants. On Friday morning, we went rafting on the Rio Grande before driving more or less up the face of a cliff.

Nick & Rachel - Rio Grande, From A Car

Nick & Rachel - Rafting
-- Stolen from these people.

Nick & Rachel - Rafting
-- And again.

Nick & Rachel - Rafting
-- We're going to buy some. I don't feel too bad.

   When the entire weekend was over and we were flying back, I actually found myself amazed that I was a part of it. Never mind the scenery, with gigantic mountains all around and the sort of freak weather that sparked a torrential hailstorm a couple hours before the ceremony.

Nick & Rachel - Hail

Nick & Rachel - Hail
-- If wedding day rain is good luck ...

   This was how rich people get married. Celebrities. They end up at some nontraditional place in some beautiful setting, have a short service with a folk guitarist playing, then party until they pass out. Except even they probably hire DJs, rather than set up an iPod mix to play at the reception.

Nick & Rachel - Johnny Cash, Everyone
-- This was not a mob wedding.

Nick & Rachel - Johnny Cash, Everyone
-- The confusion, however, is understandable.

   To top it all off, everyone got along swimmingly. Julie meshed perfectly with the other bridesmaids, whom she's never met before Thursday, and we all ended up spending four days having the time of our lives.

   That also includes the part where the throwing of the bouquet was rigged for Julie to win, and where Kip, the father of the bride pictured above, brought over the officiant during the reception in an attempt to save me the trouble of buying a ring.

   Nick apologized like seven times for that. He's that kind of guy.

   There's more to say, but I couldn't possibly put it all into words anyway. This was how you do it. This is how I would ideally do it, with the included subplots of the members of my family getting blitzed, that I probably won't be allowed to not wear a tuxedo and that our families respectively live in two places that are very much not Taos, N.M.

   I've told a lot of people over the last few weeks about traveling to Long Island and New Mexico for consecuitve weekend weddings, and I've gotten the kind of face that goes with, "Wow, man. That sucks."

   I can not stress how off base that is. These have been the best two weekends I could have ever asked for, and I feel a rare moment of sincerity and honor to say I'm glad not only that I know the parties involved, but that I was a part of them both.

July 11, 2007 - Small Time, Big Time
   Harrisburg City Islanders 1, D.C. United 0: Why would any human being not currently related to a player on the Harrisburg City Islanders possibly care about this result?

   Because it means, in the magic of the U.S. Open Cup, that the New England Revolution will play the City Islanders at Lusitano Stadium in Ludlow, the same place young Matty Cooch calls women's soccer games and has mini-balls thrown at him.

   I have no idea if this means anything to him, but rest assured, I'll be making the trip regardless. How often does what passes for big-time soccer in this country end up in a 3,000-seat stadium tucked in a residential area with a bocce court like 30 feet from the field?

   • So tonight, I did a 10-minute interview on The Fan 590, Toronto Sports Radio, on the upcoming Sox-Jays series. Of course, I left out the part that I'll be in Nex Mexico for the duration of the actual series, but it's not like that disqualifies me from explaining things to Canada.

   There's been some confusion on this issue, so I just want to make it clear: It's been going on six years since that dick at the Niagara Falls customs booth almost forced me into assaulting him. (Slightly interesting story.) I've made my peace, and Canada is back in my good graces. So much so, I'll be venturing across the border again in August for every Northeastern man's coming-of-age trip to Montreal.

   It is nice to remember that I am allowed to go places for reasons other than I know someone getting married there.

   As exciting as it is to be on the sports radio station for a pretty damn large city, I do take some solace in knowing that the guy that I spoke to at 8:30 on a Wednesday night, Alex Seixeiro, is none of the 18 pictures jocks on their 'Personalities' page. However, much like John Rish, the nighttime post-game Sox guy who wouldn't be pictured on the page for Boston's sports radio radiation accident, Alex was quite competent and a joy to chat with.

   He also, if it's the same guy, has a thing for the Portuguese national soccer team. Thus explaining completely why Whale City is on his radar

July 10, 2007 - Of Course, Vermont
   • Marge, I'd like to be alone with the sandwich for a moment.

There was disappointment yesterday as the city lost its effort to host the premiere of "The Simpsons Movie," but some of the locals involved in the nationwide contest took solace in having fought a good fight.

Springfield, Vt., was the winner of an online voting competition conducted by USA-Today, on behalf of Twentieth Century Fox, to host the premiere on July 21. The Vermont town, population 9,300, was the top vote-getter, followed in order by Springfield, Ill., Springfield, Ore., and Springfield, Mass.

Fourteen Springfields nationwide submitted home-produced 3- to 5-minute videos vying for the premiere. The movie is based in a fictional Springfield.

"It's disappointing," Mayor Charles V. Ryan said. "I thought we would win. People who worked on it did a great job, an outstanding job."

   Ryan then added, "Now I can go back to my normal job: trying to figure out how to make a hollow shell of a city not bankrupt when there's no tourism and the only people who come into downtown every night are dipshit 20-somethings in souped-up Nissan Sentras."

   As with all great complaints after an election, of course I didn't vote. Was that important, or was it more important that I silently assumed everything would just work out?

   For what it's worth, the Mass. video was disappointing. Ted Kennedy was completely wasted, and not mocked at all, never mind enough. If you're going to do a news show, why not call it "Eye on Springfield"? How does Bondi's Island not get included, given it's vague similarity to the nuclear power plant?

   At least I can go on thinking I'm smarter than most of the region, which is really how it built me into the person I am today.

July 9, 2007 - Detail Free
   Other Wedding Notes: The bridesmaid I was paired with was 17 years old. Her full name, being Polish and all, has 21 letters in it.

   I found it a little bit entertaining, especially since when we first met her, I thought she looked like she was 13.

   Also, once we were at the reception, both the banquet hall staff and the DJ went to great lengths to ask me how to pronounce my last name. I found it a little odd that it was my name that was causing them so much issue, given ther previously mentioned 21-letter adventure.

   Of course, the DJ did then pronounce it correctly, even if it was when he was announcing my friend Jim as "James Couture."

Lowell's Star Burning Brightly
-- The annual All-Star feature. Which can only mean the first-half report card is mere hours away.

   • If you calculate the amount of money I made playing poker tonight and the amount of time I played to make it an hourly rate, over the course of a 40-hour work week year, I would make $594,880.

   I'm told it is not actually that easy. Though I'm also told this video of Phil Hellmuth crash a race car is hilarious.

   Safe to say, I believe both.

July 5-8, 2007 - Wed 1: The White Castle Briefcase
   Love: There could not be a relationship parable further from the one I am in than this:

Cyanide and Happiness on Love
-- A comic for people with pliable moral fiber.

   And I'm not saying that because I could never not love Julie for those reasons. I'm saying it because if she thought like this, we would not have gotten the centerpiece at the wedding for being the longest-reigning couple at our table.

   (Plus, this weekend I learned some believe the best way to deal with secret farts is to announce to all others in the room, "Doesn't it smell like fresh-baked bread in here?")

   • The almost-endless parade began in New York City, with the first wedding I've ever actually been in the bridal party of. And I have to say, being directly involved certainly makes you feel far better about the entire episode.

Happy Groom
-- Maybe not this good, since I wasn't actually the groom.

Cooch's White Guy Dance
-- This good, though.

   The groom and I have known each other since junior high school, when we were paired up in home ec class -- it was mandatory home ec -- and forgot to put any leavening in our chocolate cake. They wouldn't let me eat it, though I can't imagine it actually did anything other than make a very flat cake.

   From the very beginning, I had a bit of trouble understanding why he chose me over other people he either knows better or sees more ... our paths simply don't cross a lot anymore. Whatever the reason, though, to have been even a fringe part of a day where he truly had never looked happier left me with this feeling of both deep gratitude and honor.

   Honest. I don't know how else to put it. Having gotten down into the city on Thursday for a Saturday ceremony, the hours running up to the actual day were often hectic and featured a good amount of bitching about any number of planning aspects. The highlight was what passed as a bachelor party, despite the involvement of both Julie and the bride: Transformers, which was shockingly good considering both Michael Bay's involvement and that I didn't actually watch the show as a kid. It's entirely enjoyable on a basic movie level, and really doesn't require the sort of geeked-out fandom that more or less everyone else in our group had about the series.

   The betrothed went in matching Transformers T-shirts, and may even have noted the odd "That Guy" effect while things were going on. Also, there was this guy:

The Shirt Validates Me
-- 'Unrepentant Fenian Bastard.' Apparently it means he's an Irish prick.
At the time, I assumed it had to be the sort of thing worthy of a dork cheer.

   But really, to call that the highlight would really be accurate. From the drive down to Sunday at some random restaurant chosen solely because it was near where we parked, the whole trip was about getting to see some friends that I don't get to see much of anymore given work and Whale City and all that. Yes, it was a wedding, but it was also a four-day extended vacation with Erik and Jim, the two guys who were also a part of the greatest vacation I've ever been on: Vegas and Southern California in Summer 2004.

   Also known as the first vacation that never got a write-up done. While part of the reason was I just didn't have it in me to do that much writing anymore, just as big was that I don't think I could have possibly done the trip justice. You've probably been on such a trip ... you understand.

   While this one was different, and involved more people, it certainly blew away initial expectations. Plus, the extra-added bonus of a marriage!

White Castle     White Castle
-- I did not eat 30 White Castle sliders (plus chicken rings and fries) by myself.
I did, however, engineer the boxes into a dragon.

Bridal Party Limo
-- There are some serious neck issues going on with me.
Though it does take away from the glowing skin a little.

Making It Rain, Petal Version
-- Hooray! We get to go outside, where it's not 120 degrees!
(Also, the 90-minute Catholic mass was over.)

Papparazzi Time
-- This was right after the Polish tradition of injuring the bridal party
by pelting them with pocket change for the new couple.

What Traffic?
-- That is, in fact, the new couple standing in the middle of a busy street in Central Park. (By the way, bridal parties in Central Park get a lot of random congratulatory cheers, but arguably get more quizzical looks from random passers-by.

Almost Dancing
-- A happy couple.

Almost Porn
-- THE happy couple.

   By the way, the entire weekend was spent discussing the ideas Julie and I planned to steal for our own wedding. My plan is coming to fruition: if I wait long enough, people will just assume the entire marriage process and I won't have to do anything. To the point that we were actually congratulated by another couple about our engagement until Julie explained the actual technical definition of my new description, "My Boyfriend Who I'm Going To Marry."

   I wonder if Chuck E. Cheese would donate free usage of their banquet facilities if I gave them free advertising?

July 4, 2007 - I Like Eating Contests ...
   • ... that build up America.

   The King is Dead, metaphorically speaking. Though I'd have to think all those nitrates for all those years isn't going to help the cause of his not being physically dead before his time.

Kobayashi Loses It

Takeru Kobayashi tries to keep all the hot dogs in his mouth during Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Competition in New York on Wednesday. In a gut-busting showdown that combined drama, daring and indigestion, Joey Chestnut emerged this afternoon as the world's hot dog eating champion by gobbling down a record 66 franks. The Californian knocked off six-time titlist Takeru Kobayashi in a rousing yet repulsive triumph in Coney Island. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

   Long live The King.

   When I got to see a replay of the festivities, not only was I struck by that magical sort of "either these guys are playing it off, or they're hilariously taking it miles too far" feeling, it was after ESPN's "stop showing him puke" edict.

   It clearly didn't make the actual competition any better, since watching it live and having that happen would have been awesome, but it's good to know that for ESPN, "The Line" is somewhere between Shaun Livingston's grotesque knee inury and a man eating his own vomit to remain in a gluttony contest.

July 3, 2007 - The Gas Station Olympics
   Done Bitching, Honest: Every year, I wonder whether I write a lot of Al--Star columns because it's easier or because I really do care.

Time To Tweak The Midsummer Classic

   I've come to the conclusion that I do care, because the entire choosing of the All-Star team is something that should be grounded in pure logic.

   The flaw in this is I believe when I filled out the only All-Star ballot I did this year -- sitting in the Friday's at Chase Field -- I'm pretty sure I voted for Travis Hafner at first base because I didn't have the opportunity to be the only MVP voter last year who would have put him second. My apologies to ... Jesus, there's not exactly anyone leaping off the page.

   Morneau it is. Send a ham to his widow.

   • Wednesday, along with being the last day before the summer of weddings begins, is the annual Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island. I have no doubt that I will forget to watch it the same as I always do.

   Given how often I have discussed competitive eating in this space, I can't believe it either.

July 4, 2006

Joey Chestnut, center left, and returning champion Takeru Kobayashi, center right, face off during the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Competition at Coney Island in New York in this file photo of Tuesday, July 4, 2006. Kobayashi, the six-time defending Nathan's hot dog eating champion, received a chilling diagnosis that could end his Fourth of July roll. The Japanese eating machine's complaint of an achy jaw set stomachs rumbling throughout the dog-eat-dog world of competitive eating in the days before the annual Independence Day chowdown. Some believe his mandible misery is a ploy to unnerve Chestnut, who recently broke Kobayashi's world record by downing 59 dogs in 12 minutes. Others suggest it's a dodge to avoid Chestnut. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

   Now that ... that's a cutline.

July 2, 2007 - Boredom Caused My Homicide
   Apparently, Not Signs of a Healthy Relationship: This is apparently how you spawn children who are good at cards.

Her parents, Richard and Deedy Lederer , were big card players who had met when paired up for a bridge game at Harvard. When Deedy was seven months pregnant, they were playing a card game in which competitors must reach swiftly for a spoon at certain points, and they both grabbed for it at the same time. Neither would give up, and Richard went on to drag his seven-months-pregnant wife across the kitchen floor of their Concord, N.H., home before he lost his grip. "I wasn't going to let him win," Deedy, now 67, recalled with a haughty laugh. "He didn't have the spoon part, so I won."

Odd? They know. Dysfunctional? They admit it. But both parents, now divorced, point to that moment and thousands of less violent, equally intense household matches over the years as a key inspiration for a hypercompetitive drive and a fascination with games that unintentionally yielded a pair of world-class poker aces.

   Having no idea why Annie Duke and Howard Lederer's parents actually got divorced ... oh, really? That sort of behavior doesn't work in the long term? I'm shocked.

   It really is funny to me that the more you learn about a lot of the big-time poker professionals, the more you find out they're really just thinly veiled screw-ups. Addicted to gambling, broke, divorced ... and, apparently, tremendously stupid.

As useful as that is, Annie has a love-hate relationship with her status as a poker trailblazer. She doesn't play ladies' events, wondering aloud if black people wouldn't be as offended by blacks-only tournaments. Yet she cried when she clinched her 2004 WSOP bracelet in the $2,000 Omaha Hi-Lo tournament, notoriously saying, "I guess I'm just a girl."

   Yes. Clearly that's on the same par, and well worth being indignant about. I forgot that the presence of ladies-only anything typically means those participants can't then do whatever the hell they want, in whatever the hell venue or tournament they want.

   Remember, parents ... these are the people your children want to drop out of college to be like.

Sox Not Worried About Struggling Middle
-- Sadly deficient in mentions of Jacoby Ellsbury going second-to-home on a passed ball.

   • There is something innately depressing about this story: the Fishwrap Picayune talks to teenagers discussing how there's nothing to do in New Bedford, and that apparently the thing to do is hang out by this low stone wall that surrounds one of the city's biggest parks.

Because of illegal activities described in this article, some young people would only talk to The Standard-Times on the condition of anonymity.

"There's nothing to do in New Bedford in the summer," Melissa says.

Sha-nae adds: "I wish we had a place to hang out in New Bedford with no drama. There's too much drama in New Bedford; it's ridiculous. That's why everyone thinks we're a bad city -- because some people do bad things."

Why? "Boredom."

   Now, I did not grow up here. I grew up in a much smaller town, which was admittedly close to a larger city, but a larger city where most people fear to tread after 7 p.m. Or, at least we did.

   Somehow, we got through four years of high school and didn't start committing arsons because there was nothing to do. And the more I think about it, we pretty clearly had fewer options than the children of Whale City have. I'd say that would have to be true solely based on size.

   So I think this needs further analysis ... what kind of children are we dealing with here?

She lights up a cigarette.

"This is why I became addicted to cigarettes. Boredom," she says with a slight laugh as she takes a drag.

"People get addicted when they're bored."

   Someday, in the not-too-distant future, Sha-nae and I will cross paths. Maybe she'll be making my sandwich at Subway. Maybe I'll see her walking on the street, smoking a cigarette with a wry, detached smile on her face. Knowing me, I'll probably feel bad and wonder how things turned out that way.

   I'm pretty simple like that. Most people would probably just realize stupid generally reaches its level after a while.

   I do have to say, though, that this is genius:

Second Chance is a court-mandated program for kids 13 to 17 years old who are arrested on a drug-related charge.

They serve anywhere from six to 18 months, attending sobriety counseling and art and music programs; they're also given memberships to the YMCA and Ms. Cardona helps them apply for jobs.

"We see an increase in referrals in the summer," Ms. Cardona said. "We have a cap at 20 (kids), but we see an increase in referrals. Usually we have six referrals over four months -- we've had six just in June already."

   That actually strikes me as a program that would work.

July 1, 2007 - Halfway Home
   On The iPhone: One of my coworkers, who apparently is now a former writer for this Mac site, dropped $1,300 over the weekend for a pair of iPhones -- he didn't wait in line for them, and apparently wasn't even dead set on buying when he walked into the Apple store.

   So, I've seen it. It's very nice. It appears to do everything it's been said it does, and it's apparently not done justice on TV. You have to hold it and use it to really get the full appreciation, which I suppose is how you could walk into a store to look at it and walk out with a larger monthly phone bill on top of buying the phones.

   What I find funny, though, is that the two people it was passed to before me, given all its iPhoney powers and allure, ended up first trying out ... the calculator.

   Personally, I've seen better calculators. Though not many have Google Maps built in them.

   • I'm starting to learn something about myself, and it seems to be something that could make me a lot less destitute someday.

S-T - July 2, 2007

   Putting stuff like this is getting to be more fun than writing random things.

   Yes, putting All-Stars in star-shaped boxes isn't exactly innovation the level of the iPhone. I don't know who else in the department, though, who would have pulled it together.

   No wonder that design teacher hated my stuff in college, but somehow saw fit to give me a good grade on my final project.

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2006: [12] - [11] - [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05] - [04] - [03] - [02] - [01]
2005: [12] - [11] - [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05] - [04] - [03] - [02] - [01]
2004: [12] - [11] - [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05] - [04] - [03] - [02] - [01]
2003: [12] - [11] - [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05] - [04] - [03] - [02] - [01]
2002: [12] - [11] - [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05] - [04] - [03] - [02] - [01]
2001: [12] - [11] - [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05]