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July 31, 2008 - Boy, That Escalated Quickly

Game 2, 2008 ALDS
(Game 2, 2008 AL Division Series. Boston Globe photo, I think.)

   • I will leave the hilarity of another Red Sox player joining the Dodgers to be discussed another day.

Rid of Ramirez, Now It's Time For Sox To Move On
-- No conference call in seven hours equals seven largely wasted hours.

Manny Ramirez Red Sox Timeline
-- Except for having time to put this together.

   I come at this not from a fan perspective anymore, though obviously Ramirez was around before I started writing about the team. I have no idea how disruptive his behavior really could be, because I don't really have any idea what he did, nor did I put up with it over time.

   All I know is he's largely responsible for some of the greatest things I've ever seen on a baseball field. Some of which are in that timeline, some of which aren't and some of which couldn't be accurately pinned to one date.

   For the above photo alone, hitting that iconic home run when my father and brother were at their first playoff baseball game together, I'd be forever in his debt.

   For the whole package, though? Well, thanks, you big weirdo.

   All he's got to do is play two more seasons, and I just might have the chance to be honored to vote him into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

   If that doesn't make you wonder about how they handle admission to Cooperstown, nothing will.

July 30, 2008 - The Hand Gesture Makes It
   The Next Generation Learns: They put public service announcements on TV now that tell high school children to realize anything they put online is fair game to the world. The one I'm thinking of dances somewhere on the line between hilarious and deeply disturbing -- a young girl posed legs in the air on her bed or something, which apparently greatly interests the janitor at her school.

   Anyway, with that in mind:

Subject: My potential employers probably don't like the world of cooch
Date: Wed 30 July 2008
From: umd.edu

   Hello cooch,

   I really hate to bother you, but being the recent college graduate in low demand that I am, I am engaging in a thus far fruitless attempt to land a job. Although with a degree in Environmental Science and Policy I'm not going to be making the big bucks, I do want to do what I can to make a difference in this rapidly declining planet we call home.

   With threats of employers looking up potential employees on facebook and other internet search engines, it has come to my attention that googling my name results in a lovely list of results, the third of which reads the following:

Cooch's World - Your home for Cooch. [ ... ] drinks wine from a bag while waiting in the infield for the start of the 132nd Preakness Stakes. (AP Photo/Matthew S. Gunby)
www.joncouture.com/comm0507.html - 110k - Cached - Similar Pages

   As if my appearance on a website claiming to be "your home for cooch" alone isn't bad enough, I'm not sure employers would appreciate my skills in slapping the bag, despite the pride I may take in them. With that, I would like to ask you with the deepest hope and sincerity if there is any possibility that you could remove this photo, or at least the caption, from your website? Pretty please? I mean the thing was over a year ago, I'm sure people aren't getting any more enjoyment out of the picture, and it would mean a lot to me in my pathetic time of need.

   Thank you very much for your time and consideration, you kind, kind sir.

   Have a fabulous week.

   I took the name down ... no reason to be a jerk about it. (At least she wasn't the girl flashing people. That would have been a far more awkward return e-mail.) I didn't have the heart to bring something else to her attention, though.

   The first link on that Google search? FoxNews.com photo essay of the exact same thing. I'm guessing they aren't as easy to get a hold of, never mind they probably believe outing her as a from-the-bag wine drinker "saves America."

   • The ultimate irony of this being, of course, that I have seven years of this stuff to hide if anyone starts digging.

   There goes any shot at The New Yorker. And don't even get me started on the Utne Reader.

Utne Reader
-- Though apparently, I've been deeply mistaken about them.

July 29, 2008 - My Mother is 60 Today
   Things I've Blocked Out: I wrote a story about a local cheerleading team.

With their SCC victory, the Bears earned a birth in yesterday's regional competition at Taunton High School. They were unfortunately unable to compete there because of several injuries, but that does nothing to diminish the school's most successful cheering season to date.

   That's going to be in the book when I'm judged at the end, isn't it? "Once wrote 'most successful cheering season to date' in American newspaper, and expected the world just to swallow it down."

   By the by, I've written a bunch of stories in the past month: All-Star Game, Red Sox, curling bonspiels, etc. They're all here, and some of them might even be worth a few moments. Please, don't make me beg for my validation.

   • There aren't any pictures this time, but if you didn't notice, I came within two outs of seeing two no-hitters in 10 weeks. I was shockingly calm about it.

Angels or Not, Sox Reeling
-- I mean, I was writing an "Angels are awesome" story anyway.

Astros GM Denies Sox Interest in Tejada
-- Short notebook.

   I don't normally do this, but Cooch's World offers official praise to Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who answered my question exactly like I hoped he would. Not necessarily that I wanted any particular answer, but that he addressed it, thought about it, and gave me something that actually feels a little beyond cliche.

   Maybe only a little, but in the world I live, that's a whole hell of a lot.

   His fruit basket is in the proverbial mail.
July 25-28, 2008 - Yankees Weekend
   Ted Williams Never Dealt With This:

No Peanuts in the Champagne Room
-- Suite near the Fenway Park press box.

   The obvious response to this being, "Well, I don't care if I ever get back!" Said gruffly, yet in a sing-song cadence.

   • It somehow feels right, with his baseball team in town, to bring up Dan Pires.

   Dan Pires was our paper's Patriots writer in a more proactive version of how I became our paper's Red Sox writer. I don't recall all the details, but basically he had a full-time job -- in his case, it wasn't even in journalism -- and nosed around at writing for us.

   He not only did that, he became one of those faces that is a newspaper. People sent him stories, recognized him in the supermarket, made the connection between what he did and what we did.

   He's been gone more than a month now. I still can't wrap my head around it.

   On the Wednesday morning of our honeymoon, Dan went for a run at the local middle school and dropped dead ... apparent heart attack. Not that things could be any more gruesome when he was just 52, and just saw his son graduate from high school, but it was about a year ago when Hartford Courant Pats writer Alan Greenberg died of a heart attack.

    and Dan took it as a wake-up call. Far from the worst shape of the press corps, he dropped something like 40 pounds ... over a year, that's hardly an unhealthy weight loss. He ate better. He exercised. It worked ... he looked great.

   And now he's gone.

   The line out the door at his memorial and his peers say all that needs to be said, in only so much as there's no way for me to put Dan into words. He had that uncanny ability to connect with ANYBODY, to spark up a conversation with someone and for it just to happen. Red Sox players recognize me on varying levels. Patriots players KNEW Dan ... if he'd wanted to, he could have gone to one of the Boston papers and been as big-time as anyone. I never could fathom why sports radio never snatched him up during football season, given his personality and knowhow. (For all I know, maybe they did.)

   Let there be no secret: Editing Dan's copy was an enjoyable chore, but an unmistakable chore. He'd go off on tangents, stop sentences in mid-stream, make up words, use four-paragraph quotes ... his stories would come in, and I'd basically re-write them into usable form.

   I always tend to think about something I'd once heard about Will McDonough, the football writer for the Boston Globe. He couldn't write either, but he could report, and that's the most important thing. Dan got stuff, and I always took it upon myself (when I was on the desk) to make it sing.

   It didn't hurt that he always appreciated it, even when we'd fuck up every so often.

   I didn't view him as a mentor or anything, but as much as anyone else, he got me on the ground running. As I've probably mentioned before, some of the first things I covered after being moved over from the news desk were Patriots and Patriots training camp. Dan knew me a little bit from the office at that point, and I have no doubt I was giving off a distinct "what the fuck am I doing here?!?!?!" vibe.

   If I can quote myself for a moment, I wrote this about a month ago for another site:

I didn't know Dan all that well at that point, but damn if I hadn't met every other writer and half the players by the end of the day.

Not long after, I went up to Brady's locker and needed a comment on something ... I think I was doing a story on the offensive line . Introduced myself, told him who I worked for, and damn if we didn't start chatting about Dan. Brady gave me as much time as I needed one-on-one, something I've never doubted he would not have done if I'd worked with any other reporter.

   Got my wires crossed a little bit: This was the story I wrote off that first camp day, this o-line story didn't happen until December. The point, however, remains the same. I look back on the Brady chat, even after everything I've seen, everyone I've talked to, and wonder if it really happened. Not because I'm starstruck, but because that just doesn't happen. And it sure as shit doesn't happen to me.

   There aren't a lot of people out there who can do what Dan did. And there aren't a lot of writers on the Patriots beat for whom it isn't hyperbole to say things will never be the same without them.

   The most incredible thing about Dan? You take out the Patriots stuff, and there still aren't a lot of people out there who can be Dan Pires, family man, friend to more or less everyone he ever crossed paths with.
July 24, 2008 - She's In My Head!
   The Fourth of July: We went to a Cape League baseball game in Bourne. Brought lawn chairs, gloves, a ball. Had a nice meal together afterward. A regular All-American day.

Old Glove
-- Right up until I nearly caved Julie's face in because her glove is old.
(The baseball, note, is from last year's ALCS in Cleveland.)

   • Far be it for me to break up the joy of reminiscing, but a live story for your perusal.

   Tonight, Julie and I were treated to dinner by her -- (our, I suppose) -- aunt and uncle, the latter of which is a very important businessman.

   Notes on that profile: Not only does he no longer have that powerful moustache, he now lives in Houston. I'm not sure if that's an upgrade from Namibia, and I'm pretty sure Aunt Nancy may wonder the same thing.

   Despite being Julie's godfather and my staying in his then-house when we went to San Francisco, we didn't meet until the day before the wedding. Relative to that, and my being a pasty nothing who writes about baseball for a living and doesn't own a suit, we're moving forward swimmingly.

   Anyway, we went to this rather nice seafood restaurant. I was perusing the menu, and saw two things that I liked: a seafood linguine with a variety of things in it, and a chicken and shrimp marsala with crispy prosciutto on it.

   At first, I was leaning toward the linguine, but noted it had asparagus in it. So, I opted for the marsala, which was essentially covered in cream sauce and bacon.

   When I closed the menu, having made my decision, Julie not only proceeded to predict what I ordered, she proceeded to predict -- TO THE LETTER -- the exact process I went through to reach it. Seeing the linguine, opting against it when I saw it had asparagus ... all the way.

   This coming a couple days after I noted not only do I have a tan line where my wedding ring sits, but that wearing the ring is wearing a little path around my finger.

   I'm totally boned on this one, aren't I?
July 23, 2008 - A Wax Museum?
   Designers ... Man, They're Funny: I believe it was in May when several designers created presidential campaign mementos that made very little sense outside their own minds.

   Well, they're back.

-- Lapel pins!

   I'll give them credit, as most of these appear to actually be lapel pins. As opposed to fists interspersed with broccoli florets. Plus, the comments ...

Nothing can make an effete anti-American patriotic, and certainly not wearing a lapel pin. If he was honest, Obama would wear a turban and be done with it.

   Yeah. Next thing you know, it's going to turn out he's queer!

   • I'll get to more about Cooperstown, but one of the stranger things about the town? The number of pure, unadulterated T-shirt shops in a place trying to be some sort of classy art town.

Baseball Muscle
-- And isn't it this kind of thinking that got the sport in trouble in the first place?

   On the plus side of this equation, hat stores where I can spend 15 minutes staring at things like an autistic child, noting miniscule flaws that no one would even begin to think about. (As I learn even a little more, I'm convinced the whole world is on "the spectrum.")

Foo Kin John Chinese, Cooperstown
-- Also, this. Though the selling of merchandise leads me to think
this isn't some 'Oh, whoops. It sounds like an expletive.'

July 22, 2008 - The Wedding Day
   Another Trip to the Market: I do not pretend to understand the supermarket, nor do I pretend to understand why certain things exist outside the world of jokes.

Plant Shine
-- Like, for example, leaf polish.

Box Pancakes
-- Or box pancakes that mock your memories of home.
(Unless this is your Mom, fridge-case flapjacks should be no trouble.)

   I completely, however, don't understand this section of the local freezer case.

-- Not only is it an odd naming convention gone curious,
this is where they've stocked breadsticks.

   • Occasionally when I write, I catch myself perhaps trying to put too many things into historical context. Maybe wrapping the story around too many things from the past, giving it a spin that no one who's actually playing or involved would ever think of.

   Then, I spent a good chunk of the wedding day thinking to myself, "Wow. This is probably going to be the greatest day of your life. When it's over, it's over." At least I'm consistent.

   I don't remember ever being nervous, but I drank several beers on the way to the church. I swear the day flew by, but I was exhausted at the end of it. There were a huge number of things that could have gone wrong, but all that did was my father's shoulder picking the day before to cease working. (Bursitis, it turns out.)

Introducing Your Hartford Whalers
-- Julie actually went to a Whalers game in 1996, but I wore
the jersey when we were introduced as a couple to 'Brass Bonanza.'

   It wasn't until nearly two weeks after when I figured out what we should have been introduced to ... we were both on the As Schools Match Wits high school quiz show back in the day, which had 'Bugler's Holiday' as its original theme song. Course, until we went to hear the New Bedford Symphony the night before the Fourth of July, I had heard the song in roughly a decade.

   Not that a much bigger chunk of the room would've gotten that joke.

   Even all this time later, it remains kind of a blur. There's about a million photos -- and I still haven't seen the actual photographer's stuff yet -- a couple videos and Lord knows how many stories worth telling. There's a rumor flying around that I teared up a little bit when I saw Julie walks down the aisle, but I swear it's not true. Not because I had the ability to cry surgically removed from my person in a subtle procedure 12 years ago, but because I'm pretty sure it's actually not true.

I'm going to eat you.
-- There's a couple where I look approximately 275 pounds.
This is not one of them. I can't make myself post one.

   I guess what I'll remember most is three things. That when Julie did come down the aisle, she was not only beautiful, she was smiling so hard veins were popping out of her neck.

   That when I took the microphone after my brother's best man speech, before a room full of people whom I desperately wanted all to be there, I was booed.

Ray and his Gun
-- And that for all his face punching talk, ring bearer Ray did great.
Right up until he punched one of my groomsmen, not me, in the balls.

   It's a day that I can't really put into words yet. I think that means we did it right.
July 21, 2008 - Refreshed?
   • So hey, I took a month off.

   This was not really planned in any sense. I kind of presumed that after the wedding, I would take the honeymoon off, then come back to reality, catch up and continue on with the daily dronings of a now-married guy in the worst shape of his life. (Which I can now say with absolute certainty, given we received a scale as a wedding gift.)

   But then I came back, and I didn't write anything. Then, life got somewhat busy, and I made no efforts to catch up.

   This troubled me for a little while, at least until I remembered my relative place in the Internet landscape. And honestly, it was nice to not have to deal with each morning.

   But eventually, I realized I kind of missed it. A couple people asked where I'd been, which is heartwarming in its own way, especially when my "to be updated, presumably forever" was perceived as a cryptic way of saying the site was finished.

   I believe I wrote that in a quick burst of, "Well, something should go there. I got married for Christ sakes." Don't know my own strength ... shocking, given my history of getting myself in trouble here.

   It's been a rather frenetic month, obviously, but rather than try to dump it all at once, I'm going to be parsing it out little by little, giving the illusion my life is a rich tapesty of constant excitement. This opposes the real story, which features a lot more stuff like Sunday, when Julie and I attempted to go to Providence to see The Dark Knight at the IMAX theater.

   The show was sold out, so we went to Dave & Buster's, played arcade games for two hours, then ate cheese fries.

   Today, I will bring up two quotes spied in an intermittent month of New York Times reading. The daily NYT e-mail, of course, being my attempts to stay at least partially aware of why I'll die in the armageddon of early 2016.

   Call them "Last Month's Quotes Taken Completely Out of Context by the NYT E-Mail Edition People."

"People go ape when they see it. It's a feeling. It's a feeling that takes over a whole stadium. If anyone in the stands opened their mouth and objected, there would be hell to pay."
-- Jim Alexander, whose company, Superflag,
creates field-size American flags for sporting events.

   I wonder if Jim is aware what he just described is pretty much the worst definition of "patriotism" that there could ever be. "What's-a-matter, asshole? You don't like America? Why don't you go back to Nazi Germany with the rest of the queers?!"

   Having been in New York for the All-Star Game and seated in the auxiliary press seating right near the bleachers ... I'm not calling that a direct quote, but it's not as loose a paraphrase as George Washington might have been hoping.

"It has the taste of the forbidden, the illicit -- the subversive, even. Eating with your hands, it's pure regression."
-- Helene Samuel, a restaurant consultant,
on the rising popularity of hamburgers in Paris.

   Oh, those cultured French. If only we could understand them.

It is a startling turnaround in a country where a chef once sued McDonald's for $2.7 million in damages over a poster that suggested he was dreaming of a Big Mac.

Tour de France
-- No, he's not the chef, and he's not even French.
I just like the story better if he is.

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