August 31, 2003 - The 'Wing It' Boycott Begins
   The Baseball Game: As expected (by me anyway), an 8-4 loss to Roger Clemens and the Yankees left me 0-3 for the year at Fenway Park and means I still haven't seen the Red Sox win since Patriots Day 2002 ... now at least five losses in a row.

   But on the plus side, I must have been on TV multiple times -- Sec. 40, Row 5, Seat 1-3, or what I like to call "The Second 'E' in Verizon Wireless" -- and I got myself another column.

Rocket Soared Back Into Fenway Fans Memories
-- At the very least, I saw two very interesting gamses this season. And this one ... well, being at a losing Sox game doesn't usually give me the chills.

   • Course, it wasn't an all-rosy trip to Boston. Yes, I did get to hang out with some of my old friends from The Daily Free Press. Yes, we did have quite the time of it, eating from famed BU takeout chicken-wing place Wing It and generally being obnoxious.

   And yes, I did end up probably getting food poisioning, as I puked up all that Wing It in the hedges of the Hess station on Brighton Avenue in Allston.

   This may be the first time I've actually thrown up in Allston. Really, it was an oversight to let me recieve a BU diploma without this happening, but so be it.

   About 4:30 a.m., it became clear I was not sleeping in the state I was in. This led me to leave where I was to go back to Whale City. Needing gas I got it, then right before driving away I determined it best to get out of the car and see why my stomach was spasming like it was having a seizure.

   Now, there are one of two things that could have caused this:

   a) Three Keystone Lights, which would be like being allegic to water,

OR

   b) The wings, which come from a restaurant where the terms "getting a good batch" or "getting a bad batch" are used with every order, and where chicken -- Hello, salmonella! -- is the medium of choice.


   Hope this was somehow more pleasant than having garlic and parmesan pieces of chicken come out your nose.


August 30, 2003 - Suck My Back
   The Comedy Show: A quartet of us, with two conspicuous absences, went to see Dane Cook on Friday night at The Comedy Connection, the first of what will hopefully be a coagulated Boston Loop. It was a very good show, despite the fact that the non-Boston host of the evening -- essentially the opener for the opener -- played the "talk-about-the-Red-Sox-for-cheers" card a little too liberally.

   At least when a Bostonian talks about it, you get the sense it's genuine.

"Cheering for the Yankees is like cheering for gravity."
-- Gary Gulman, who was both funny and got extra points
for wearing a T-shirt with the retro Denver Nuggets logo on it.


   • I walked through BU's South Campus, perhaps one of the best collegiate housing arrangements in the country, going back to my car on Friday night.

   As usual, I thought too much. That's pretty much all that needs to be said.


August 29, 2003 - I Would Buy You Some Art
   Golf: Write your own witty intro. Today made Kristallnacht look like gangs of Nazi youth breaking the windows of Jewish synagogues and businesses.

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
8
4
6
5
6
4
5
5
7
50
• 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
7
3
6
7
5
5
6
4
5
48
PAR 72
98, 26 OVER PAR
5735 YARDS
Birdies: 0 - Pars: 4 - Bogeys: 6 - Others: 8
Fairways Hit: 4 of 14 - Greens In Regulation: 4 of 18 - Putts: 41

   Without even needing to reference the site, this is the worst round of golf I've played since the 110+ I fired in Scotland with borrowed clubs at St. Andrews. Usually one can find little positives, little glimmers of things that went well to build on for next time. Today's was, "Well, I managed to keep it under 100," which means I don't have to quit the game in a fit of rage.

   Let this be a lesson to you, friends. When you have an 8:36 a.m. tee time and are presented with the options of:

   a) Going home, getting a good six hours sleep, waking up leisurely and eating breakfast ...

OR

   b) Going out drinking after work, being up until 3:30, oversleeping your alarm and waking by chance at 8:08 a.m. with a horrific backache ...

   Be sure to ask yourself what's more important: scoring well or having some drinks with your coworkers.

   Clarification of Above: The official excuse for today's 98 will be, "I desperately need to get my clubs regripped," with the alternates being the backache and no warmup before playing.

   And I will always choose the drinking with my coworkers over golf. A few years ago, I pretty much gave up on the pro golf dream and resigned myself to being purely recreational until my hips fall apart or I break 80 for 18.

   And that would be three sub-80 rounds and perpetually counting ...


   • Some things just require a look, among them this column by Stephen A. Smith of the Philadelphia Enquirer, who calls Larry Bird, "a marginal athlete, blessed with a sniper's eye, riding his jump shot to the Hall of Fame" and "a marginal coach, cushioned by the presence of Rick Carlisle and Dick Harter on his bench, just enough to lift the Pacers to the NBA Finals."

   I could sit here and dissect what's wrong with this column, or I could merely point out that, in all seriousness, Stephen A. Smith said Larry Bird essentially cheaped his way into the Hall of Fame. Not to a playoff berth, not to a finals, not to a championship, but to the pinnacle of basketball greatness. I think that pretty much speaks for itself.

   The fact that he follows it with maligning him for relying on his assistants in getting the team he coached to the Finals, then listing a quote from the clearly-deficient Thomas -- if he was truly surprised he was fired, calling him retarded wouldn't be an exaggeration -- is just gravy on the cake.


   But anyway, also requiring a look is the MTV Video Music Awards. There's so much more than what was mentioned yesterday, it begs for discussion.

   In the way that a bus crash begs for discussion, but so be it. There's just so much to look at, all I can do is recommend this Yahoo! search to view the train wreck of photos there within.

Christina Aguilera
-- And this girl has a song on a Disney soundtrack!

Multiple nominee Christina Aguilera arrives at the MTV Video Music Awards
at New York's Radio City Music Hall on Thursday. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)

   Here we see Christina Aguilera arriving at the show wearing a slain flamingo she bagged on her way through Manhattan. Either that or she had sex with a showgirl at the Flamingo during her last stopover in Vegas and made off with the girl's clothes. Both seem believeable enough to me.

   Lost in the whole Britney-Madonna kiss was the Christina-Madonna kiss that immediately followed it. Very sad story ... there's one picture of it out there, but Aguilera's sacrifice has gone mostly unnoticed in the greater pervert community. The camera just wasn't as flattering, not catching the tongues as it did in yesterday's soon-to-be-$19.95-on-the-Internet shot.

   Also, there's been some confusion about just who kissed whom -- you'd think MTV's 5,643 airings of the awards show would clear this up, but it just seems to be grist for the rumor mill. Britney and Christina did not kiss, nor did permormer Missy Elliott get kissed by anyone else. Though it's not like that's hard to understand.

Missy Elliott
-- People, golfers really don't dress like this.

Missy Elliott kisses her Moon Man award for Best Video of the Year for 'Work It ' during the MTV Video Music Awards outside New York's Radio City Music Hall on Thursday. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

   Also, none of the six members of "Queer Eye For The Straight Guy" kissed anyone.

Christina Aguilera
-- I wonder if he laughs all through intercourse too.

Comedian Jimmy Fallon, center, and the cast of 'Queer Eye For the Straight Guy' announce that Beyonce Knowles has won the Best Female Video award, at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards at the Radio City Music Hall. The cast members are, from left, Jai Rodriguez, Kyan Douglas, Carson Kressley, Ted Allen and Thom Felicia. (REUTERS/Win McNamee)

   As you may have already guessed, the MTV show is really about titilation. About showing off what you have in the most creative way possible. Of course, when you have a large number of Americans merely counting down the days until your 18th birthday, you really don't have to show anything.

Olsen Twins
-- I wonder how Uncle Jesse feels about this.

The Olsen twins arrive at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards at the Radio City Music Hall in New York on Thursday. (REUTERS/Peter Morgan)

   Am I the only one that's afraid of a letdown? Like, when they finally do turn 18, men still won't be able to have sex with them because the majority of male society is hideously unattractive and not desirable to girls who know they've been masturbated to via syndicated showings of Full House? That even a simple request to them for the time or an autograph would be met with pepper spray and a stilettoed toe in the belly button?


   I'm very negative, though. I mean, look how I respond to this:

Duran Duran
-- Her name is Kelly and she eats up all the sand(wiches).

Rock group Duran Duran accepts the Lifetime Acievement award as Kelly Osbourne applauds them at right during the MTV Video Music Awards at New York's Radio City Music Hall on Thursday. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

   Now help me, because I have questions on both ends of this one. Now I enjoy Duran Duran ... they had an excellent career, and if I'm ever rich, I play on recreating and restaging the entire video for 'Rio' just because I can. But 'Lifetime Achievement Award?' Even from MTV that's notably weak, considering nothing they did musically was all that groundbreaking, nor did they really spread it out over the course of a l-i-f-e-t-i-m-e.

   But even more than that, if I'm Kelly Osbourne and trying to establish some sort of cred with the audience she seeks, do I really want pictures of me applauding fucking Duran Duran circulating about?

   Then again, we shouldn't worry. The future of punk music is in very good hands.

Punky Brewsters

Pop singer Avril Lavigne, left, and Kelly Osbourne arrive at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards in Radio City Music Hall in New York. (REUTERS/Albert Ferreira)

   The only shame of the above? We can't see the back of Kelly's "Young, Willing & Eager" shirt ... the part of it that reads "To Eat A Whole Pie Myself."


August 28, 2003 - t.A.T.u. Was Still Better
   I now have a full collection of NFL logos saved on my home computer. Consider me your source for NFL logos.

   Trade Toilet: The Red Sox made a deal tonight to get Lou Merloni back from the San Diego Padres, who suck, but have been in a World Series much more recently than the Red Sox.

   In an entirely unrelated story, I just made a deal with New Bedford Public Works to get all of my garbage redelivered to my doorstep. I don't know why I did it, but then again, I'm drunk as I type this.


   • I need a short update, both because I've been drinking and because I have to get up very early to golf for work.

Kiss Kiss

Britney Spears, left, and Madonna kiss during the opening performance of the MTV Video Music Awards at New York's Radio City Music Hall on Thursday. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

   Night!


August 27, 2003 - Scoot Sliding Away
   Spam Of The Day: Perhaps the two biggest keys to a successful small business are knowing your market, and diversifying within it with products your customers will enjoy.

Subject: Best Child Pornography Site
Date: Thu, 28 Aug 2003
From: Aaron Lauren
To: jcouture at s-t dot com

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   4. New shipment of cocaine has arrived, buy 9 grams and get 10th for free.

   5. We also offer gay-slaves for sale, we offer only such service on the NET, you can choose the one you like, then get straight to business.

   6. Fake currencies, such as Euros and US dollars, prices would match competition.

   7. Also, as always, we offer widest range of child pornography and exclusive lolita galleries, to keep out clients busy.

   Everyone is welcome, be it in States or any other place worldwide.

   ATTENTION. Clearance offer. Buy 30 grams of heroin, get 5 free. Prepay your batch of rockets (air-to-air) and recieve a portable rocket-lacuncher for free.

   http://www.darkprofits.com

   This offer won't last! Only until 20th of August all our clients will also recieve a pack of 2 CDs, with best selection of child pornography.
-- Something about the paper just seems to attract the horse and kiddie porn.

   Today's Picture Of The Moment is much more wholesome than what the folks above provide, but may actually be less useful:

Segway Washington
-- Finally, Segway conquers Mount Washington!

Rob Owens, 54, a former circus clown, smiles as he reaches the top of Mount Washington on the Auto Road in New Hampshire's White Mountain National Forest on Wednesday riding on a Segway. It took three different riders and six sets of batteries to make the eight mile uphill climb to the highest peak in the Northeast. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

   • A few notes on the photo, not the least of which is that the sponsoring Web site that owns the futuristic scooter hopes to help us "Celebrate our legacy!," i.e. past.

   It took six battery changes, three different riders and two and a half hours to climb the 7.6-mile Mount Washington Auto Road. Using my journalist's math, thren throwing it out and using a calculator, this makes for an average of roughly three miles an hour -- factoring in stops for battery changes, etc.

   Your average semi-in-shape human (read: me) can walk a mile in between 15 and 20 minutes. Using the high end of that consistently, it would take a person roughly the same two-and-a-half hours to walk the 7.6-mile Auto Road -- 20 mins. * 7.6 miles = 152 minutes).

   Of course though, people would tire walking up a road with a grading as high as 18 percent in some spots, and not everyone is semit-in-shape to begin with. But of course, Segwayers are recommended to be no larger than 250 pounds, and the combined weight of carrying six batteries -- (19 lbs. * 6 = more than Meg) -- makes such a trip as impractical on a Segway.

   So what have we learned?

   Those press guys trailing the clown are wasting their lives.

   I would be very curious to find out just how much is costs to build a Segway, because at FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS A POP, I'm having a real hard time believing Dean Kamen has no more than a vision of "the creation of more livable communities."

   Sure the machines have a purpose, even if I have nightmares about a nation where atrophied-legged masses are cruising along on stupid little space scooters, but until the thing is actually affordable for the masses to buy, spare me your visions of a more perfect society. Part of me keeps trying to figure out just what led Mr. Ken to come up with this.

   Then I remember he's from New Hampshire and everything makes sense again.


August 26, 2003 - Boobie Coffee
   It never fails. When I make an analogy that I know someone will find a way to complain about, there's always one person whose brain frequency I've locked on to:

Subject: Your piece in the Standard Times ...
Date: Tue, 26 Aug 2003
From: John ______ <______@riverstonenet.com>
To: jcouture at s-t dot com

   One thing I have to say is that if I were to hit only 5 numbers in the powerball once a week for a year, I would be ABSOLUTELY out of my mind thrilled to cash the consolation checks every week. You have to look at the bigger picture my friend. That's 5.2 Million bucks.

   That is all.
-- I'll take "Missing The Point" for $500, Alex.

   Technology: Through the wonders of computers, you can now watch me lose Madden 2004 games on the Internet. Let me assure you, this was a wonderful thing to discover after losing games by 30, 14, 23 and 30, respectively.


   • I've been thinking about Postum today. I was at the grocery store, late for work, buying dinner, when the woman in front of me in line took some Postum out of her cart.

   If you're unfamiliar, Postum is a wheat and molasses coffee substitute. I have no idea how it's made. I have no idea what it tastes like. I don't even know anyone who actively drinks it.

   Really. It took me five minutes of Googling just to find out it was a coffee substitute. For all I knew it was a creamer for old people.

   Postum is one of those products that seems to stay on store shelves by the grace of the grocery Gods ... much like Moxie, which I can both identify and have consumed once and again. The packaging hasn't changed in probably 25 years. It doesn't really advertise. There's no teenagers running down to the beach to rock music on my TV, toasting with big, steaming glasses of Postum.

   You just get the sense that eventually they'll have to stop making it, because all the people who've been drinking it their whole lives will just die off.

   And yet, it hasn't happened yet.

   I attribute it not happening yet solely to this Web site, which explains that "Postum will not affect our Breast Enhancement System in any way so you can have as much of it as you want." There are now images in my head no amount of beer or gunshots could ever wipe away.

   Lo And Behold: Postum will not adverse affect the SBS (Small Breast Solutions) Enhancement System. This is what we call an update's research answering it's own question ... good to see the people at Post are operating their own natural augmentation clinics for propaganda purposes.


August 25, 2003 - Buffalo Soldier
   NEPA Awards: The paper has submitted its entries for the Better Newspaper Contest, and I'm only entered in the Rookie Of The Year competition, not the Sports Column one. Logic being they could only enter three writers in the column contest, the editors chose this one, this one and this one to ensure all that our department's major writers were included in the competition somewhere.

   I'f I'd known that, I probably would have included some of my smiper coverage stories, though given they didn't have my name on them, I'd still be looking.

   Chris Drury Fan Club: Chris will now ply his trade with Les Sabres, signing a four-year deal with Buffalo today. Perhaps the best part of this is the Sabres are now a third of the way to creating a lineup of people I have personal connections with.

  While my path has never actually crossed Drury's, I have played sports with two professional athletes: Janik and I played soccer together before he became one of the best young defensemen in hockey, and Phil McGeoghan (now a New York Jet) was on an intramural baseball team with me, along with being in a handful of my high school gym classes.

   Would either recognize me if I showed up in their press corps? Next question!

   Omar Gooding: You ever watch Wild & Crazy Kids on Nick growing up? I know Meg and Erin did ... they were on the show. Well, in a classic example of being typecast, former W&CK host Omar Gooding can now be seen as a punky, drugged-up starting running back in ESPN's Playmakers.

   Apparently his other co-hosts went on to be a soap "star" and out-Googled by a weaver, so he must host the reunions.

Relax? It's Not So Easy
-- Feels good to be the first writer ever in the history of journalism to use an e-mail as a form for a column.

   • Two thoughts on tennis:

   1) Kim Clijsters is very scary looking. Both in the playing sense and, well, in the looking sense. Google up some action shots of her in mid-swing ... gah.

   2) Pete Sampras gets it.

   Today's column was almost about Pete, just because he's pretty much everything I'm looking for in a professional athlete. Feverishly competitive, he fought his way to the top and maintained it for as long as many of the greats ever did. He won over $43 million playing tennis, and it's probably fair to think that he still has most of it saved up, given he's an intelligent man.

   And yet as much as he loved playing, when he saw that his skills weren't there anymore, he let it go, started a family and did his best to leave on top.

   It seems incredibly simple -- leave when you're at your 'peak,' and leave the fans wanting more -- but people don't do it. Jim Rice hit .324 as a 33-year-old in 1986, but came back for three more forgettable seasons that tarnished the memories of many baseball fans.

   Course, it all worked out for Sampras. Had he not won the 2002 U.S. Open, he was probably retiring anyway. I'd hate to think he would have kept lingering in the 30s and 40s of the rankings just to get that one last major to go out on.

   He's the youngest ever U.S. Open champion, he's among the oldest ever U.S. Open champions ... it all ties up with a pretty little bow. It may be a little too perfect, really. But sometimes you see them go out like John Elway ... and sometimes like Michael Jordan.

   Really, these retirements are just larger embodiments of the people they honor. As Sampras' fit his persona perfectly, so did Jordan's ... take from that what you will.

   I've already had a good day ... I worked a Wild & Crazy Kids reference in. The only shame is that with Meg still on the road, she can't comment on how her team was screwed when the show was broadcast.


August 24, 2003 - Sox Back
   Geoghan: I hadn't said anything before, because death was too good for him, but I would just like to point out I had Sept. 4 in the "murdered in prison" pool.

"Defrocked priest John J. Geoghan was bound, gagged, strangled, and stomped by a fellow inmate who followed the notorious child molester into a cell Saturday afternoon while one prison guard was distracted with other prisoners and another officer was temporarily away from the area, according to correctional officer union officials."
-- Monday's Boston Globe story

   Seriously. There's no way this couldn't happen ... it's one of the few things out of the movies that actually happens this way in real life. Strangled with a bed sheet. The quote from the correctional officer side that "It all happened in a matter of minutes." Not seconds, not a flash ... minutes. Yeah, there's nothing mysterious about that. Or this:

"The details about the assault came as state officials struggled to explain how a serial pedophile could have been left alone with an inmate convicted of a 'gay-bashing' murder."
-- Course there is. It's called 'letting the natural order work.'

   You will note, however, that no one is saying what may be the most disgusting part of it all. Given the man molested children for kicks, there's a pretty good chance what was done to kill him got him off.

   And no, I don't mean in the judicial sense.


   • While we're in the Globe anyway, this story has to bring a smirk to the face of any BU student or alumni. The kind of smirk that comes with, for example, someone coming to your apartment and saying, 'Oh, I can get that stain out of your wood floor,' when you've been trying for the better part of a year to do it.

Goldin Said To Insist That Silber Step Down
by Patrick Healy and Frank Phillips, Globe Staff

   John Silber is stepping down as chancellor of Boston University in November at the insistence of incoming president Daniel S. Goldin, who told Silber and BU trustees that he would not accept the presidency if it meant sharing power with the university's longtime leader, according to several trustees and campus officials.

   When he interviewed this spring with BU's presidential search committee, which included Silber, Goldin put his request flatly, saying he couldn't take "personal responsibility" for the school if Silber stayed in his perch as chancellor. Turning to Silber, Goldin said, "You have to step aside."

   Silber's departure, after 32 years in office, marks a final chapter for a local power player whose name had become synonymous with BU -- and who won fans and critics alike for speaking his mind on everything from student morality to the intellectual threat of political correctness.

   His exit underscores the degree to which BU leaders see the arrival of Goldin, who led NASA in the 1990s, as a new beginning for the nation's fourth-largest private university -- a president with no enemies and a fresh vision for the school.


   If you're a non-BU person, a quick run down: Silber's a Texan who came to BU in 1971, at which point Boston University was known as the "Berkeley of the East." Walkouts, protests, the whole nine yards ... it was too much for Arland F. Christ-Janer, who flaked out after being University president for only three years. I can't really blame him, given what went down in his time here:

"The week of his inauguration, the Students for a Democratic Society declared a Stop the Draft Week. Soon after, an African-American student organization issued a list of demands and staged a non-violent sit-in in the President's Office. President Christ-Janer agreed to all their demands, but campus demonstrations and radical student actions continued."
-- On top of that, Commencement was canceled in 1970 ... violent protests.

   Silber came in and basically gutted the school, turning it into one of the most respected and largest private universities in the entire country. And I'm not even saying that because I'm biased ... any BU student who attacks John Silber's policies or behavior is doing so knowing if not for him, they wouldn't have wanted to go to the school in the first place.

   That said, Silber's about as subtle as a prison rape. Back to the Globe:

   A philosophy scholar and cultural conservative, Silber intruded on Westling's authority last year when students proposed that they be permitted to sleep overnight in dorms with each other; Silber derided the notion of "weekend love nests" at BU and said dorm policy would not change. After Westling stepped down in July 2002, Silber continued reshaping the campus's business agenda, and enraged some students by closing a gay club at a BU-run high school and then again by saying that BU needed to recruit more male students.


   Silber is a man who has done a whole lot of good, but whose time has come ... about all you need to know is when the campus rag did a recent end-of-year interview with him, referring to his time "listening to his hi-fi" was his idea of relating.

   The idea of him continuing to stay on in his puppetmaster position seemed comical, especially is there was to be the illusion of any real change. Everyone who was at the school knew Jon Westling -- the former president who "stepped down," wink wink -- really was just operated by remote control ... why else would he have worn those 1950s gag glasses?

   The best part of this story, though? BU students will rejoice in the streets ... finally, an independent thinker! (Which Goldin is.) Someone who will listen to our views! (Which Goldin will.)

   Course, when it's February and they still can't have people sleep over without filing paperwork 24 hours in advance, they'll hate him too. But that's beside the point.


August 23, 2003 - The Benefits Of A Stupid Populace
   Charlie Chimes In: Remember on Tuesday when I outlined the night's 8 p.m. TV lineup as Big Brother, 8 Simple Rules, Shania and American Juniors? While at my house for his own birthday party:

"I stayed home that lineup was so good!"
-- CD4 explained he watched Big Brother while taping the concert and AJ.

   I wonder if he realizes how lucky he is ... telling me that after Beer Two just got him a befuddled head shake. Were it after Beer Four, he'd have been pulling my fist out of his lower jaw.

   Adventures In Vanity Plates: A possible new feature, saw this on a midnight blue Pontiac Trans Am cruising the Mass Turnpike with Pennsylvania plates:

R2D2 LVR

   And you knew it was a real fan, because despite collegiate stickers on the back windshield for WPI and URI, there dared not be anything from Starfleet University.


   • First, a poem to calm our jangled nerves. From the pages of the Agawam Advertiser News, a paper whose readership isn't exactly clamoring for a Web site:

Sox Poem
-- Is this really just free verse? Or some sort
of obscure Hungarian non-rhyming septuplet?

   She would have loved my Pedro column, I bet.

   Anyway, the reason I was able to note that nice man's license plate on the Pike is because traffic was stop-and-go for most of the time I was on it. Just more reason for me to travel at 2 a.m., I suppose.

   The heavy traffic ed even more people than usual to partake of the highway's elaborate rest area eateries. Anchored by McDonalds, Exxon and Circle K convenience stores, the rest stops on the roadway now offer several different food choices at several stops along the highway.

   They do not, however, offer Dunkin Donuts anymore, which should be a criminal offense in the state of Massachusetts.

   Now because I was traveling at midday on a Saturday, it's not surprising these places would be mobbed. But which of these places do you think would be more mobbed?

Fresh City, which offers burritos, fajitas, wraps and smoothies made-to-order.

OR

McDonalds, which offers local teenagers the chance to spit in
previously-cooked burgers and mysterious special sauces.

   Well, let's just leave it at one restaurant had five registers going with lines 15 deep, the other had 10 people waiting total, and I was back on the road in 15 minutes.

   In Other Food News: On 1/18/2003, I forwarded the "extremely deep" theory that all America's pizza chains are just out to copy each other, with each unveiling menus that somehow involve bread, buffalo sauce and cinnamon. Privately, I felt there must be sort of chemical reaction formed that encourages free spending on future nights out, but the actual "proof" of that remains mysterious.

   Papa Gino's, long sloganed via "Boston's Favorite Pizza," is proud to introduce their new dessert sensation ... Cinnamon Sticks.


August 22, 2003 - Bag
   Marci X: Somebody greenlighted this. Someone looked at this premise and said, 'Yeah, that's a keeper.'

"A Jewish-American Princess is forced to take control of a hard-core hip-hop record label and tries to rein the one of the label's most controversial rappers."

   How can I put this? How about ... what the fuck?!

   Madden: I was all ready to regale you with tales of my first two forays into online gaming -- an expeience that left me outscored to a total of 111-30 and wishing I had something breakable nearby that I wouldn't miss when broken.

   And then the redemption came in the form of 717 yards of total offense, 400+ passing yards by Kerry Collins and a 59-27 win ... over Madden king William Yelenak playing as Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson-like Michael Vick's Falcons.

   Yes, I committed a Leon Lett-like fumble midway through the third quarter. And yes, Bill claims he was unable to use audibles throughout the entire game. But you all ought to know by now I never let a few stray details get in the way of the point.


   • Twas quite a stormy night at Fenway:

Lightning
-- Game Off!

Lightning strikes near Fenway Park in Boston on Friday delayed the start
of the Red Sox game with the Seattle Mariners. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

   Same goes for my mailbox.

Subject: Pedro
Date: Fri, 22 Aug 2003
From: M. <______@netzero.net>
To: jcouture at s-t dot com

   YEAH!!!!!

   LOVE today's f---ing column. Wish someone would REALLY slap Pedro's ass.

   M.
-- Short and to the point. Perfect.

Subject: Pedro Article
Date: Fri, 22 Aug 2003
From: R J <______@hotmail.com>
To: jcouture at s-t dot com

   Unless you are doctor, you have no right to question the health of another man. I'm embarrassed for you after reading that article.

   RJ
-- He says it like it's a new thing. I've been embarassed for me for years.

Subject: Get Over Yourself
Date: Fri, 22 Aug 2003
From: Eric ____ <______@hotmail.com>
To: jcouture at s-t dot com

   Willis Reed hobbled out in 1970, not '73; he played about 16 minutes in the game, if memory serves, scoring 4 points. And his problem wasn't his knee, but with a thigh muscle.

   Albert Pujols has missed the last several games with the flu.

   You should have stopped with "I'm no doctor." That would be about the only intelligent comment in your cloumn. As for a "real" doctor:

   "If he has an acute infection, he's probably so lethargic he wouldn't be able to pitch if he wanted to," Berke said. "His throat could be so sore, he can't drink and is dehydrated and could even need an IV."

   Martinez called the team's medical staff between 7 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. to report his condition. A member of the medical crew transported him about 8:30 a.m. to St. Elizabeth's Medical Center in Brighton, where he spent nearly six hours being examined by Morgan and undergoing tests, including an abdominal CAT-scan, which was negative, and an ultrasound test. The Sox said Martinez's white blood cell count was elevated. Martinez left the hospital about 2 p.m.


   Lemme guess, if he pitches, goes two innings and gets shelled, you write about how selfish he is.

   Eric ____
   Exeter, NH
-- No. Actually, if I saw Pedro Martinez in 2003 come out to the ballpark on a night when the team really needed him, I wouldn't have written anything else. Because I would have died of the freakin shock.

Subject: Excellent Article.
Date: Fri, 22 Aug 2003
From: Person That I May Know <______@SLAC.Stanford.EDU>
To: jcouture at s-t dot com

   I've long been intrigued by the specious reasons for baseball players to avoid playing. Roger Clemens blood blistered thumb (which could have been a decade ago now that I think about it..), players not playing because of a hairline fracture in their throwing hand pinkie, not playing in the rain ... etc. Silly baseball playing pansies.

   Great article. Good to see you're doing well professionally.

   -- Spaz
-- I have no comment, so let me just remind you that
Arnold Schwarzenegger could possibly be the next GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA.


Subject: (no subject)
Date: Fri, 22 Aug 2003
From: Person I May Work With <______@comcast.net>
To: jcouture at s-t dot com

   Nice Pedro column.
-- Wait. We let Fran Drescher become a legitimate star?

   That's three up, two down and one burning question about The Nanny. Night!


August 21, 2003 - Fossum Over The Flu
   The Critics Are Raving: I have received exactly two more positive comments about vegas. than I did about Cooch in the Canaries. So yes, friends, I am learning the concept of a travelogue is not just about writing down every bite of food you eat or every pudgy Englishman you see.

   And that's not even all. Just look at the letters actual journalism professionals have written to/for me in recent days:

Subject: Rookie Of The Year
Date: Wed, 20 Aug 2003
From: D. Rosenfeld
To: jcouture at s-t dot com, NEPA

   Dear Judges:

   Jon Couture possesses a flair, intelligence and wit rarely found in a writer so young. Combined with his youthful desire to tackle almost any subject, Couture has stood out as a sports columnist for The Standard-Times.

   While working fulltime as a member of the news copy desk, Couture took on a three times a week column and excelled in both positions. He recently was awarded third place in the New England Associated Press News Executives Association sports columnist competition. His prowess as a sports columnists earned him a transfer to our sports department so his many talents can be used on a daily basis.

   Couture has quickly become a well-known and respected commentator on the SouthCoast sports scene. He has added breadth and depth to not only our coverage of high school and local sports, but also the four major professional teams.

   Unlike many recent college graduates, Couture actually read the books assigned by his professors at Boston University. But he doesn't allow his encyclopedic memory to turn him into a know-it-all. Instead he has made a concerted effort to seemlessly work with the more experienced members of the staff and avoid potential conflicts and pitfalls.

   During the chaos of the highway sniper shootings in Washington, D.C., Couture took a lead role in our coverage. Information coming from the wire services was disjointed, incomplete and in many cases contradictory. Couture pored over the volumnious material and wove together main and color stories that rivaled anything in the Boston papers.

   An Agawam, Mass., native, Couture identifies with our readers, especially in their plight as Red Sox fans. It his his New England native background that has allowed him to connect so quickly with our readers.

   His only negative trait is a propensity for Hawaiian shirts, but his tastes will improve with age. It is a pleasure to nominate Jon Couture for the NEPA Rookie of the Year award.
-- Recommendation letter for my 'Rookie Of The Year' entry
in the upcoming NEPA 'Better Newspaper' contest.

   I've also been swapping e-mails with Eric Gongola, the winner of the NEAPNEA Sports Column Contest, but unfortunately the links he sent me to his columns all require Cape Cod Times registration.

   And a memo to everyone who continues to critique my fashion sense? At least I'm trying to improve now. I feel so bad for my old high school golf coach, who used to say things like "You can see where Couture is from a mile away" and "He looks like a paint pallette from a hardware store." I thought it was a joke, as opposed to something that was slowly killing him.


   • There's a lot of things the average newspaper reader may not know about the product in their hands. Depending on just how sharp they are, many are surprised when they look at how much copy in their local paper is via the wires -- Associated Press, Knight Ritter, Los Angeles Times, etc. Others who come by to tell the paper about stories they want covered don't understand that most reporters don't work nights ... it's not exactly a 9-5 job, but there's always one reporter who's "stuck" with the late shift most places.

   And then there's those columns that certain writers get, um, "asked" to write.

   Every so often, be it design-wise or because the editors feel they have a side of the story they want to get in the paper, the request will come down for someone to take a side. It's not a case of someone throwing their name on something they don't believe in -- least I hope it never is -- but more a case of a person taking their personal viewpoint to a bit more extreme a place than they would have on their own.

   And that's how the column below ended up with my picture on it:

Pedro Isn't The Only One Feeling Sick
-- Typically, and suprisingly, I'm not the kind of person who can write the "irrationally angry" column about something, because I think too much 95% of the time. But I think between how I wrote it and how Editor JC worked it as the night went on, I'm actually going to acknowledge that it happened.

   And can I just say, I swear the jab about the flu killing 21 million people in 1918 was much less witty in my head than it appears on paper. I needed information on the deadliness of the disease, and when was it at its most lethal? Ta da!

   But really, in a world where Arnold Schwarzenegger is a viable candidate to become governor of California, despite having made almost no statements beyond "I will do this, ahnd I will do this," ... nothing really seems out of the ordinary anymore.


August 20, 2003 - It's Done
   Advance Warning: Today, along with securing the hardware to have television in my work cubicle, I bought both Madden 2004 and the PS2 Network Adapter. What does this mean to you? Well, either that you can now play me in a game of Madden football from your own residence or that you may not see me in person again until at least mid-February.

   Though if the rest of the games go like tonight's debut did -- 1976 Patriots 40, 1990 Giants 7 -- we'll be linking to an eBay auction on here in the not-too-distant future.

   Scooter History!: If plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery, then your stupid product hasn't really made it until someone tries to steal one.

"Yili "Eddie" Wang, 24, was arrested outside of a Starbucks in Queens on August 12. He was found with the Segway, which did not run because it was missing its computerized key, police said. Wang told The Smoking Gun Web site that he bought the 83-pound gizmo for $75 from a man who was pushing it down the sidewalk in East Harlem."
-- Yeah. When Amazon is selling them for $4,950, you might want to aim a little higher than 75 bucks, dick.

   • The entry of Madden to the Whale City estate requires a short update. So, go:

vegas.

   There.


August 19, 2003 - Now, Does He Cut Stackhouse?
   On The Red Sox: When people talk about why they don't think this Red Sox team really has what it takes, or even why this team will never win another World Series, it's games like tonight's that fuel the fire. When the team's ace goes out after three innings, and the team has a weak bullpen, you do not score just two runs. And even more than that, your supposedly "best bullpen in the American League" does not give up a three-run home run to the catcher.

   You just don't lose games where you surrender just three hits. I'm far from selling this team down the river like one of my colleagues did, but I can now at least see the writing on the wall that has this team falling out of it.

   Least I Still Have Football: While Patriots camp is now over, Giants' camp is just rolling along:

There were three scuffles within five minutes during a fight-filled afternoon practice at the University at Albany. Fassel called the team together after the last one and threatened to kick the next pugilist off the team, no matter who it was.

Second-year fullback Charles Stackhouse and linebacker Dhani Jones wrestled for about 30 seconds after Stackhouse threw a wild punch that didn't connect. Fassel then singled out Stackhouse in a tirade in front of the team.

"You're out of the game," a livid Fassel said as he walked up to Stackhouse and grabbed him by the face mask. "What were you thinking?"

Fassel's pressure on Stackhouse's face mask caused the helmet to come off his head, but that didn't slow the coach. He continued to scream, yelling that the penalty inside the opponent's 20-yard line was the type that could cost the Giants a win, and possibly a playoff berth.

"Two laps and don't come back," Fassel yelled at Stackhouse, ordering him to run around the area of the training camp fields. When Stackhouse hesitated, Fassel got angrier and bounced the player's helmet in his direction.

"Take your helmet with you," Fassel said. "Get out of here, Stackhouse! Get out!"

   But it's the next line that made me smile.

"As Stackhouse sulked away, tight end Jeremy Shockey walked over and said something to him. Stackhouse spent the next 15 minutes circling the fields."
-- See that, everyone? He's a peace maker!

   • A lot of the time, you'll hear me complain about working nights ... how it kills social lives, relationships, and keeps me separated from the cultural world in which we live in.

   Having a rare Tuesday night off, and being faced with a group of friends who didn't really have anything they want to do, here is the network television lineup for 8 p.m. Tuesday, August 19, 2003, as described by the fine folks at TV Guide.

CBS: The latest episode of Big Brother 4, which bills itself as being centered around a "pivotal Head of Household" competition where all of the remaining competitors are locked in a cage.

ABC: 8 Simple Rules (For Dating My Teenage Daughter), where "Paul (John Ritter) agrees to let Bridget attend a party only if she brings Kerry, who's unhappy after breaking up with her boyfriend."

NBC: A two-hour concert event ... Shania Twain's Up!

FOX: The final American Juniors ... the first night where the five winners perform as the pre-fab pop group of children they are.

   On second thought, I feel sorry for all of you. Except of course for the grand saving grace of the television season ... The OC.

   Having now actually seen it, I guess the best thing I can say is, "So, how does it feel to watch television history literally unfold before your eyes?" Sometimes craptacular TV is just that ... craptacular. And yet sometimes, craptacular just has the right mix of spices to create something with a truly legendary flavor.

   But really, what do people do for entertainment in the evenings now? Having to sit in a hot basement and choose between those four programs, I'm pretty sure I committed several mental killing sprees.


August 18, 2003 - Saugus: Now, More Than Route One
   Like Father, Like Son: You never have to look far to discover just how your behavioral quirks were forged. Playing in his Thursday night golf league at Wyckoff Country Club, my father noticed that Mohegan Sun had held a tournament there and had left their fake rock-like tee markers on the course.

   Suffice to say, I now have a nice new paperweight for my desk at work.

   Like Family, Like Meet My Folks: As run in Monday's Boston Globe, And Then There Were 10: Marriage Derby Heats Up.

   SOUTHBRIDGE -- The suitors arrived on Donna and Peter Wood's freshly mowed front lawn one by one yesterday morning, passing a horde of curious neighbors and a row of television cameras as they stepped into dating history.

   Some wore hip sunglasses; some carried roses; one guy even brought his mother. Among the candidates: a Coast Guard officer, a cable installer, and a few truck drivers. But no doctors or lawyers.

   The turnout wasn't quite what the Woods or their 22-year-old daughter, Kimberly Devlin, had expected.

   In the past two weeks, newspapers, television stations, and radio stations have chronicled Donna Wood's plan to find a husband for her daughter by accepting applications from men ages 21 to 30 and then holding open auditions at her home. Wood has expressed dissatisfaction with her daughter's taste in men.

   Given such publicity, and signs reading ''Who Wants to Marry Our Daughter'' posted on the front lawn, more than 100 potential suitors have inquired about Devlin, who has a 4-year-old daughter.

   But in the end, only 10 brave souls were willing to put their hearts -- and egos -- on the line.


   Though there's no pic I can now reference online, Ms. Devlin is not an unattractive girl. If she didn't have a child, I'd dare say there'd have been 500 suitors on her streetcorner. But what I want to see is how her parents convinced her to go in with this:

   Each bachelor introduced himself to Wood and handed her a photograph and an essay on why he would be Devlin's perfect mate. (Peter Wood, Devlin's stepfather, was in bed with the flu.) The suitors each then took a seat on one of the chairs spread across the lawn, waiting to be called, as neighbors looked on with smiles or frowns on their faces.

   At about 10:15 a.m., Wood assembled her judges. Drawing from a list of 25 questions, she, friends Brenda and Mike Nardone, and Devlin's best friend, Beth Lavine, called the bachelors one-by-one to their table and asked them everything from their favorite movie to how they would handle a screaming child in a restaurant.

   Few bachelors were prepared for television cameras recording their every word, or for their answers being broadcast on a sound system so the whole neighborhood could hear. There was also the agony of watching a competitor hit it off with the judges, or with Devlin.

   ''I knew more about her before I showed up today than I'd know about any girl I meet in a bar,'' said Rick Clancy, 30, a computer technician from Ware. ''I know her height, her weight, what she likes, and who her family is.''


   Really, the entire thing is oddly not as weird as it could be. Though billing it straight away as "Who Wants To Marry Our Daughter?" -- or as Monty explained it reading, "Who Want's To Marry Our Daughter?" -- sadly eliminates me right off the top. I strike myself as the kind of person who'd find a significant other through a parental-arranged contest modeled after a successful NBC reality show.

Can We Get Back To Basics?
-- About halfway through this piece, a really good and insightful column starts to emerge. Unfortunately, the whole thing drank way too much "Shooty McCrap Crap" juice on the way to getting there.

   • As bad as the illusion of my trip to Las Vegas was, it was nowhere near this bad.

Tourist Electrocuted Walking Barefoot In Rain
By The Associated Press

   LAS VEGAS -- A tourist was electrocuted near a Las Vegas Strip casino during a weekend rain storm.

   Rebecca Longhoffer, 39, of Louisville, Ky., was walking across a median near the Treasure Island hotel-casino late Saturday when she stepped on a wet traffic signal wiring box and collapsed, authorities said.

   Clark County Public Works spokesman Bobby Shelton said a worn wire inside the traffic box may have caused a short circuit.

   The victim was not wearing shoes, police Lt. Chuck Mangrum said.

   Longhoffer, a computer programmer and mother of four, was visiting Las Vegas with her fiance, who was playing in a billiards tournament.

   She was pronounced dead at a hospital.


   Now, I'm not going to jump to any conclusions, even if the woman was:

   • A mother of four, yet unmarried.
   • Illegally crossing a Las Vegas Boulevard median.

   and

   • Not wearing shoes when from a redneck-heavy state.


   But I'm going to go as far to say that this woman spent a lot of the trip walking around hotel-casinos barefoot. This doesn't make the story any less tragic, but it does at least add details to the picture than might otherwise be depicted, even if the "computer programmer" job description adds the confusion of affluence.

   One of the most striking things you see at McCarran Airport are the shocking number of people, and I mean this literally, walking around barefoot. People who are clearly and unabashedly there believing Las Vegas is a viable way for them to "invest," and are not exactly dressed in a way that would allow them to enter even America's most liberal convenience stores and gas stations. We're talking snuff tins in their hands and in their pockets, and whereas I researched for the trip by looking online and whatnot, they researched by listening to Jeff Foxworthy's Games Rednecks Play.

   Yes, in a way we're all there under the guise of trying to get rich, but for a lot of us, there's the realization that a month after we've returned, we'll still be plodding through our written recap of it because there's no "$1,000 win at the end of the rainbow" to want to get out there.


August 17, 2003 - Much Picking And Pasta Salad
   Bless Them: My older college friends, the ones met through BUCB, are uniquely special. Walking into our fantasy football draft this afternoon, Shawn ran across the room, arms flopping sarcastically, and howling, "Ohhh, let me give you a hug! Are you alright?" This was after he called me while I was driving there, and after saying I was still on the highway, he replied "What? Are you pulled over and crying?"

   They're a very sensitive bunch. Which just makes me want to remind all of you that while we were in Las Vegas, Shawn got very excited over the complete set of N'SYNC bobbles he won.

It's Gonna Be Him!
-- Thank goodness he gave up on dignity years ago.

   Vick Sick: Adalius Thomas probably couldn't even get noticed on the streets last week, but now, there's a good chance the entire city of Atlanta might, um, "know his name."

   And heaven knows what the Sports Guy is doing to calm himself down.

Four other things I love about the new "Madden '04": A) Everything moves faster than last year's game (loading, saving, getting to the line of scrimmage and so on); B) they rectified last year's egregious ratings for the Pats; C) they threw Neon Deion in the free-agent pool, just for kicks; and D) Michael Vick is so fast, he's suddenly breathing down Bo Jackson's neck in the "Greatest Video Game Athlete of All-Time" Pantheon.
-- Really, he should just stick to letters pieces if he's gonna half-time it.

   • As I said, we had a fantasy football draft today ... this will serve as my main league this year, as we've got owners from the Western Pacific to Whale City. For the first time in league history, I managed to snag a draft position not 10 (of 12) or worse ... I was the 4th pick in odd-numbered rounds and 9th in the evens.

   Not only is football now officially underway, we must discuss. And let's just say I really hope Roger Rotter knows what he's doing, because I picked a whole lot of these guys.

Worldwide Football League 2003
Presented By Mark Coen and Belgian Mini Eclairs
[Starting 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR/TE, 1 LB, 1 DL, 1 DB, 1 K]

1.04) Clinton Portis, RB, DEN
2.21) Trung Canidate, RB, WAS
3.28) Eric Moulds, WR, BUF
4.45) David Boston, WR, SD
5.52) Correll Buckhalter, RB, PHI
6.69) Tommy Maddox, QB, PIT
7.76) Kerry Collins, QB, NYG
8.93) Jason Taylor, DL, MIA
9.100) Ashley Lelie, WR, DEN
10.117) Jamie Sharper, LB, HOU
11.124) Sammy Knight, DB, NO
12.141) Andre Johnson, WR, HOU
13.148) Jeff Reed, K, PIT
14.165) Adrian Peterson, RB, CHI
15.172) Joey Harrington, QB, DET
16.189) Takeo Spikes, LB, CIN
17.206) Robert Ferguson, WR, GB
18.213) Rosevelt Colvin, LB, NE
19.230) Rod Woodson, DB, OAK
20.237) Dan Klecko, DL, NE

   Team Breakdown: Two each from PIT, DEN, HOU and NE; one from BUF, NYG, DET, WAS, PHI, CHI, SD, GB, CIN, MIA, NO and OAK; zero from NYJ, BAL, CLE, JAX, TEN, IND, KC, DAL, MIN, CAR, TB, ATL and the whole NFC West (SF, STL, ARI, SEA).


   Quarterbacks: Tommy Maddox (6), Kerry Collins (7), Joey Harrington (15). I have a feeling Harrington may end up my starter, because I'm very optimistic about the effect Steve Mariucci will have on him in Detroit. Maddox strikes me as a solid #2, with Kerry coming in every so often with a solid performance. Perhaps one of the least known facts outside of those that are Giants fans is that Kerry Collins was 4th in passing yards last year, the last of the quartet who cleared 4,000 yards. I'd like to believe it'll happen again, but let's not lie ... he's the teams token Giant.

   I never get Amani Toomer, Tiki Barber was probably picked a little too high, Jeremy Shockey just didn't seem to fit given where I picked and my brother's pick of Ike Hilliard in the 12th Round just cut my heart out. A trade will be attempted, I can almost assure you.

   I was so bothered that, needing a DL, I then told Matty if he picked Dan Klecko, I would commit fratricide while he slept. Can't believe that worked ...


   Running Backs: Clinton Portis (1), Trung Canidate (2), Correll Buckhalter (5), Adrian Peterson (14). Shaky isn't even the word. The Portis pick was more a function of just where I drafted -- before me went Priest Holmes, Ricky Williams and LaDainian Tomlinson -- but the Canidate pick was pure gamble. If Washington presses the pass this year, I'm very screwed, as my other two picks are a probable replacement for a holdout and a backup who may be a starter by the end of the year.

   With rushing touchdowns the most valuable item in our league, you would think I'd have gone a little more solid at the position. But when I picked, I just really didn't see what I was looking for ... so it goes.

   Pass Catchers: Eric Moulds (3), David Boston (4), Ashley Lelie (9), Andre Johnson (12), Robert Ferguson (17). As usual, I love my receiving corps. With Peerless Price gone, Moulds may catch 289 passes for 3,700 yards this year ... or end up double covered the whole season long. The Boston pick was perfect timing, and Lelie will benefit from Jake Plummer's move to Denver. Our league rewards length of touchdown catch (as well as run and throw for RBs and QBs), so a deep threat like Johnson is good to have. And Ferguson is on the sleeper list ... so there.

   Of course, writing this down will have the same effect that me betting on the Patriots in Super Bowl 36 would have had. But so be it ... I got one night of smiles out of the draft.

   Linebackers: Jamie Sharper (10), Takeo Spikes (16), Rosevelt Colvin (18). I should not have drafted three for a position that only plays one, but I'd forgotten I was taking Colvin later when I saw Spikes' name. Defense is seemingly always underrated in its value for the league -- point per tackle, 2 per sack, when receiving TDs are 3 plus bonuses -- so it can't hurt to have three guys who all can and will play.

   Linemen: Jason Taylor (8), Dan Klecko (20). One guy who's likely to go to the Pro Bowl, and one who I've already irrationally fallen in love with to the point that I keep writing about him. Thankfully I'm not actually on the Patriots beat this season ... I'd be on a restraining order by Week 7, I know it.

   Defensive Backs: Sammy Knight (11), Rod Woodson (19). Given Woodson had eight interceptions last year, to get him in Round 19 was the best pick of my draft bar none. The only competition was the Boston pick, since Shawn had him cued up for the selection directly after me.

   I remain convinced the only reason Woodson stayed on the board as long as he did is because nobody had the balls to ask the room for reassurance he, at age 78, didn't retire and/or die in the offseason.

   Kicker(s): Jeff Reed (13). Round 13 is probably too high to pick a kicker, as I always end up getting one off free agency halfway through the year anyhow. But given the kicker is one of the few positions where you can get a solid 7-10 points with consistency, the fact that he was the top sleeper at the position (and that Vinatieri was already gone) I felt like I should grab him.

   So, that's that. Always nice to write 1,300 words that mean nothing to anyone other than me.


August 16, 2003 - It's Hard To Say Goodbye
   Bad: Breakers lose on penalty kicks. Nothing more to say.

   • In the classic Simpsons episode The Mansion Family, where the main plot is that the Simpsons housesit for Mr. Burns and that gave us the classic line, "Look at those suckers, back there on land with their laws and regulations. They'll never know the simple joys of a monkey knife fight,", Burns gos to the Mayo Clinic for a checkup. The doctors there, after a myriad of tests, declare that Burns has "Three Stooges Syndrome."

   He has apparently contracted every disease known in the world, including several that were just found in him, but he's able to survive becasue they're all in balance ... like if all the diseases tried to get through a doorway at once, but became stuck.

   For lack of a better description, emotionally, that's about how I feel right now, because at about 11:30 on Sunday morning -- and no, that's not technically on the 16th -- I said goodbye to Meg. Left her apartment in South Boston with the possibility, I suppose, that we will never see each other again.

   We had Meg's going-away party on Saturday: a weather-shortened trip to Six Flags that saw us get on just two rides, then a get-together back at my house where we ate a lot, played asshole and gave her the present I spearheaded -- a photo album trying to encapsulate her two years as our friend, signed as though it was a yearbook.

   And then we had a fight as I drove her back to Boston, because I dared try to talk about just what had gone wrong with us.

   I refuse to let us leave on bad terms, because the girl means too much to me even now. I stayed the night in Southie, as I'd gotten far too little sleep the night before, and now I sit back here in New Bedford, trying to complete this last installment in Relation Angst 2003: Writing, Because That's All I Know How To Do.

   I am sad both to have lost my girlfriend and to be losing the person with whom I had trusted so much of my life. I am angry to have so many questions left unanswered, to not understand what happened, to feel like I was used for things like storage, for companionship or for whatever was needed at the time. I am crushed that this day that I always felt like was coming, the day when she would go back home, is finally here. I'm relieved that the day is here, because I know I'm never really going to be able to start moving on until she physically does.

   And yet the overarching feeling, the one that just doesn't change, is that I'm left the way I always seem to be left after real loving relationships -- being the one in love with a girl who doesn't feel anything stronger that friendship in return.

   But it's not the same. I have spent a lot of the last year, to be quite blunt, being reminded of all the things wrong with me. I drive like a soccer mom with a minivan. My knife set isn't sharp enough to cut butter. My glasses make a dent in the side of my head, and I've worn them so long my eyes have sunken into my head. The only time Meg feels agitated and annoyed, when she's with my friends, is when I'm there. I'm a dork. I'm too shy. I can't cold call people unless incessantly prodded about it. My apartment in New Bedford has windows that shouldn't even be legal. I never complain. The city where I work is boring. I haven't been to the doctor lately. I let myself get pushed around.

   Yeah, all that is true. But you know what else? I've got a good job ... a great job. I'm living on my own, attempting to make a go of it on my own. I can break 90 on the golf course. I can be self-depricating, and I can go with the flow when it's best to just shut up. I will put my own enjoyment and happiness behind that of my friends and family if I have to. I've got an amazing group of friends whom I wouldn't trade for anyone, and even if my family isn't perfect, I'm not trading them for anyone else. And I can write. Even if I don't know grammar, I can do it really good.

   Also, I can appreciate and deliver irony.

   I'm a firm believer that everything that happens to someone happens for a reason. Everything that happened with Meg, from meeting her to the way things ended, will all make sense at some point in the future. Maybe not soon, maybe not for a long time. But it was a big part of my life, and it will always be a big part of my life. Li9ke I said, I still do love her, still do care about her, and know she's going to go back to California and succeed at just what exactly she decides to do.

   It's just time for me to do the same thing here.


August 15, 2003 - Three Hundred Days Of You
   Free Press World Takeover Update: Making what I think is his first appearance on the Boston Sports Media Watch, Concord Montior-ite and one the nicest guys you could ever want to meet, Dave D'Onofrio.

   And in a piece that won't likely be on the BSMW ...

Looking For A Break-Through
-- As Brent Musberger would put it, "You are looking LIIIIVVVEEEE ... at the place I spent four years going to." But the Boston Breakers were playing soccer there, and I hope they kick some serious ass.

   It should be noted, for historical purposes, that the first professionals I actually asked questions to as a sportswriter were Breakers coach Pia Sundgren and players Kristine Lilly and Maren Meinert ... an extremely formidable combination in the world of women's soccer. Plus the story led to easily the best exchange I've had so far.

   Talking to Joe Cummings, the president and GM of the Breakers, I commented that I'd always been interested in the team, as I was a junior at BU when they started play at Nickerson Field. And as I knew he would, he had a follow-up question ...

"You weren't one of the rioters, were you?"

   For the record I was there, but was far too busy drinking After Shock and watching the stuff that airs after Saturday Night Live to want to make much ado in the street. Ah, happy memories of a Jesus picture that looked like Nick Cage.


   • The whole point of this is, among other things, to distill the big news of the day down to its simplest form. Taking something like the blackout, for instance, and dessicating it down to a woman with her feet in her husband's lap. The kind of stuff done better, for cheaper and funnier elsewhere.

   Well today ... here's what were down to for after the dot.

   This guy, this guy, this guy won $700 at Viva TRASH Vegas. I lost almost $300.

   What happens when crying isn't a strong enough emotional response?


August 14, 2003 - Lightning Means No Lighting
   What! They're calling it the BLACKOUT OF 2003! Je me souviens!

   • On the WWLP 11 O'Clock News tonight, it was reported that Springfield, Mass., had 4,000 customers without power.

   Agawam? Five. Not four. Not three. Five. Six Flags had lost power during the day, stranding people on super-fun roller coasters, but at press time, FIVE customers had no power.

   I can only hope I went to high school with some of them.


   It didn't seem that long ago that we, in the Northeast, were laughing at those in California ... who had no power because Gray Davis is, among other things, probably retarded. And yet speaking as a New Englander, who sits here with his air conditioner running, TV on and the possibility of a microwaved burrito only halted by my having no burritos, we have but one to thank for the Californians not getting to laugh at me: The fine folks at ISO New England.

   As stewards of New England's power grid, the fine folks at ISO New England saw the effects of the lightning strike in Niagara, New York / fire in the nuclear whodjamawhatsit and, moving quickly, detached the New England power grid from the national one. Given these kinds of things happen in a matter of seconds, it's not a move to be scoffed at. Their quickness kept things operational throughout most of New England today ... something I'm quite grateful for, as it's muggy as a good deal of get-out right now.

   And look what else they saved us from.

Surge
-- The stinky, ugly, misplaced feet of Mrs. American.

The Gonzalez family plays cards at Cleveland's Hopkins Airport. Robert Gonzalez, right, said he was
seeing his son off on a flight to San Antonio when the power went off. (AP Photo)

   There was something immediately disturbing about those first images though ... the shots of New York City, the people walking in the streets, streaming across the bridges as though their cars were tethered to the spot they sit. An empty Grand Central Station, dark at 4 p.m. It all turned out fine, but still ... any lingering doubts that we would ever fail to souviens can be completely assuaged.

   Last Point: If this outage did affect around 50 million people from Detroit to downtown New York, Ottawa to Erie, and it originated near Niagara Falls, this means the two biggest outages in North American history originated in essentially the same spot.

   For the sake of that quintet in Agawam, I'd hope someone would look into this.


August 13, 2003 - Sacramento Smashed
   From Rags To Nice Rags: With no fanfare, I've been given a raise of 80 cents an hour. Without getting into too much detail, it figures out to a 5.36% pay hike, and means I now make, per year, what would be the hourly pay for someone who makes about $57.5 million a year.

   The Ballpark Tour: The latest stadium to outrank The House That Ruth Built? The House That Reinsdorf (Had) Built. While I can't get in the head of the writers involved, when they see their park has a 66, then decide "This place deserves better" to the tune of eight more ... I smell the seaport.

   Gallaghifornia: As much as CW is backing the gubernatorial candidacy of one Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Picture of the Moment is making me hope I can call second as well:

Gallagher!
-- Because state government needs the Sledge-A-Matic.

California gubernatorial candidate and comedian, Gallagher, seeks funds for the state as he campaigns outside the Treasury Department in Washington on Wednesday. A total of 131 people had their papers completed for certification for the recall election as of Wednesday morning, according to the secretary of state's office. (AP Photo/Nicole N. Martin)

   I really hope California is smart enough to sell souvenir ballots at the polls for the recall. Because someday, when time has passed and the state has physically and/or politically seceded from the union, we're going to want to remember the collective who sparked its resurgence.


   • Well, either the gubernatorial recall or The OC.

   Seriously though, why is Gallagher's hair red? He is not a man who has aged well physically, and yet, he's calling more attention to his head.

   He must be doing something right ... they put him in The Washington Post.

"Gallagher, the crazy-haired comedian best known for smashing watermelons onstage, showed up in the lobby of The Washington Post yesterday morning. He spoke loudly, carried a large cardboard box filled with dirty clothes and explained that he was running for governor of California. A security guard asked him to leave.

So Gallagher repaired to Jack's Famous Deli across 15th Street NW, where he took a seat near the entrance. 'I just got kicked off the front steps of The Washington Post,' Gallagher yells into his cell phone.

Cynics would say that Gallagher -- his actual name, Leo Gallagher, will appear on the ballot -- is using California's recall election to revive his B-list career. And that by airing his views, the media are abetting this effort and depriving more serious candidates -- like, say, Gary Coleman or Larry Flynt -- of attention."

   But wait, it gets better.

"But it's not every day that the circus comes to you. Gallagher, 57, arrived in Washington early yesterday after a gig in Buffalo. He looks tired and disheveled, with stringy shoulder-length hair that is, in that aging celeb kind of way, prematurely auburn. He has a wad of 100 $20 bills in his pocket and later will get a room at the aptly named Governor's House Hotel on Rhode Island Ave. NW.

Gallagher is running a campaign of substance -- or as substantive as a campaign can be that has the slogan, "Finally, a governor you can get drunk with."

   This is all probably some deep-seeded proof of how screwed up the electoral system is -- as Boggie previously pointed out, all the winner will need to do is get the equivelant of all of Santa Barbara's vote to lead the whole state -- but hey, whatever. Have you seen what passes for revolutionary on TV nowadays? Everything is so screwed up, this whole recall will ultimately result in the world being less screwed up.

"Gallagher's platform includes, among other things, a commitment to use "big [expletive] helicopters" to clear away car accidents and ease traffic jams in a timely manner. And he wants newspapers to run 'obituary notices for businesses' as well as for people. And to make it illegal to talk loudly on cell phones in public places."

   Sad. Nowhere in his platform are their mentions of ponchos and/or smashing things with a gigantic, comedic hammer.


August 12, 2003 - I Woke Up In My Cube
   Considering the layout of Tuesday's paper had a 30-point drop hed proclaiming me a "self-respecting New York Giants fan," I'd have expected more negative mail than this:

Subject: JEREMY SHOCKEY
Date: Tue, 12 Aug 2003
From: _____@aol.com
To: jcouture at s-t dot com

   hey, i just read your article in today's paper about jeremy shockey. i have to admit it was well written, but see i dont like him at all. yes, i can say he is a good player but he's just a jerk. i think he's just all talk and karma is gonna kick him in the ass for his rude remarks. i'm just waiting around for him to get what's coming to him. yes, it's hard to defend him cuz as a rookie he's outdone his first year status u know? i just think it's pretty sad that he's all about winning and making a big deal that he's all big on beating the patriots out last thursday and the damn team couldnt even get a touchdown? excuse me could i say it outloud: DEFENSE! the giants only scored field goals....oooo sooo great! but then again i'm partial to tom and the boys. they're looking good this year...and i think shockey should watch out before he gets sacked and i mean in the most serious way.

Yms.remynelleY
u were my world
u meant everything to me
ur the air i breathe
the song i sing
u were my king, i was your queen
but if we can try to work it out
we'll show the world what love is about
baby come on cause i can't take no more
of this loneliness n emptiness
-- Reproduced in the color in which it was received.

   Not to say I'm denying that I'm a self-respecting New York Giants fan ... it just seems like something that could require a bit too much explaining later.

   The Ballpark Tour: Page Two has ranked Pro Player Stadium, which was built for football and is ranked 28th in attendance, 4.5 points higher than Yankee Stadium. I've got no romance about Yankee Stadium, but if this is true ... yikes.

   I'd also like to thank writer Jeff Merron, who doing a writeup about Camden Yards that is completely unreadable.


   • Remember what I said about southeastern Massachusetts? That it's the cradle of pageantry in America? Well, we're back, baby!


-- Jacqueline Bruno of Assonet, Mass.,
wearing the popular lace-tie skirt and bra top that all the kids today love.

   Meet Miss Teen Massachusetts, the third runner-up in Miss Teen USA and the cover girl in Wednesday's S-T.

   Oh, but there's more local ties than meets the eye. As her bio on the Miss Teen USA site -- which is both designed dope and sweet -- explains:

"An Advanced Placement and Presidential Scholar, Jacqueline is a broadcast journalism major at Boston University who is on the National Honor Society of Collegiate Students. She has interned at a Providence, RI, PBS affiliate and been a New England Majorette Association majorette, a featured varsity and fire baton twirler and a writer for The Standard Times. Her dream job is to be an anchor on 'The Today Show.' She is especially accomplished in fire baton twirling and shot put and discus throwing."

   Though we had a few people confirm Jacqueline did once write for the paper, no one could ever remember seeing her in the office. She doesn't strike me as the kind of person who'd be in the office and have no one notice, but given how much we use correspondents/interns, there's a good chance she wasn't around much.

   Searching for more information so that I can, in fact, maintain my position as "your place for SouthCoast pageant news," I spoke with a colleague at the Boston University paper, who had to file his own story on the event.

[Colleague]: I met her before when I went to a sorority thing with Stephanie and I talked with her for a bit... she's really fucking hot.
[Colleague]: (and skinny).
JonCoochBU: She may have interned here at one time
JonCoochBU: Or just done correspondent stuff

[Colleague]: She's amazingly hot.
[Colleague]: I totally wanted her then
(and she looks even better in [her Miss Teen USA] photo).
JonCoochBU: She is hot
JonCoochBU: but i've never seen her here before.

[Colleague]: [BU student who was dating Ms. Bruno] ... please ... I'm the most powerful student on campus.
[Colleague]: He's just a cock.

Later ...

[Colleague]: I want to see Jacqueline Bruno in a swimsuit.
[Colleague]: New Jersey looks like Meadow Soprano.

Later ...

[Colleague]: Something is wrong with the world when Alaska has the best tan ...
[Colleague]: The worst part of this is that Mario Lopez is the host ...
[Colleague]: Alaska and Hawaii both make it? Horseshit.

Later ...

[Colleague]: Dude, Jackie's in the round of ten ...
[Colleague]: She's going to be in her swimsuit soon.
JonCoochBU: You're of course covering this with
the impartiality of a journalist, right?

[Colleague]: Uh, no.
[Colleague]: Unless you consider me having sexual urges
toward sixteen year old girls journalistic integrity.
[Colleague]: Dude, when did young girls grow bombs?

   Editor's Note: While this conversation did actually happen, it has been specifically edited to make me look good. Though at no point did I ever say anything about bombs.


August 11, 2003 - The Used
   Hypocrisy, Volume One: When ESPN's Page Two re-releases their list of biggest sports busts after this NFL season, you think they'll include "putting Rush Limbaugh on NFL Gameday" or just assume we'll all add it in ourselves?

   Theoretically, he could be very good on the show, as I thought Dennis Miller was on Monday Night Football. Course, the stupidest portion of the populace always tends to scream the loudest.

   Hypocrisy, Volume Two:

Riding The Shock Wave
A piece as requested by the boss, though I'd probably have
written it anyway. Quoting his e-mail reply after I wrote it:
"Couture ya son of a bitch, you're getting pretty good at this."

   • I've decided a couple things over the past couple weeks. I'm going to try contact lenses again. I may never actually get to finish the "vegas." writeup. The Irish quarter in me only really appears in my inability to tan consistenly beyond the golf version.

   And I think I, along with a significant group of others, have been fudged to. I don't like it. It eats at me. But that's neither here nor there, and it's over.

   Maybe someday I'll talk about all of it on here, but I just don't think this is the best place for it. It's the kind of thing I really have to let sit for a while before I can feel like I have anything worth saying.

   I kind of feel the same way regarding the death of Herb Brooks in a freakin' minivan flip accident, but it is what it is. He is one of the men most responsible -- quite possibly the man most responsible -- for one of the greatest proofs that sports can be about more than just themselves.

   The Miracle on Ice happened before I was born, and yet it's one of those events that still translates as unbridled national pride. The players assembled there that day did something that remains special decades later, and Herb Brooks is the reason that those men were there.

   The day after the U.S. beat the Russians, as Mike Eruzione said it, Brooks "brought us down to earth quick with the hardest practice we had ever had. I think the way Herb handled it, screaming at us and getting us back to where we needed to be, made the difference and got us ready for the next game."

   That's coaching.


August 10, 2003 - "Get The Three"
   The Roast Of Denis Leary: It was good, but understandably it could have been funnier. The general problem with roasts ... any one where Colin Quinn is among the funniest people roasting means there are issues on all sides.

   If Colin Quinn could actually learn to speak English, he really could be a funny guy.

   The Roast Of ESPN: Once ESPN started making their own programs, it was only a matter of time before they remade Any Given Sunday. Because when you make all your money off of athletes, you earn yourself the right to knock them down too.


   • For one night a year, I commune with nature. I camp. I do it, it ends, I move on.

   The Loop will go camping, I'll come along at some point late in the affair, and somehow make myself fit into the collection of tents and whatnot already assembled. Usually I end up just sleeping outside, but I figure if I'm going to go to the trouble of ignoring the Lord's creation of houses, I may as well go the whole nine yards.

   I never camped growing up ... the first time I did it, I was already 16. And all but one of the times I've gone camping, it's been here.

   No real reason for this ... I guess you just stick to what you know, even if the first time you go, there's thunder, lightning and leaky tents.


   I really have no issue with camping in general. My aversions to it always stemmed from weather -- rainy, muggy, buggy and the like. If it's a nice weekend, then I'd go as far as to say I enjoy being out in it. If I can sit on the beach for the better part of a day and only burn on about a square inch of my leg, I'm good with that.

   And that's pretty much the anatomy of a good weekend camping: nothing. No worries, no incidents, no anything.

   It didn't exactly go down like that, but we'll just leave it at that ... with all the things I can control.


August 9, 2003 - Real Fruit Flavour
   Current Cover of the Weekly World News: Headline: "Saddam's Weapons of Mass Destruction -- Killer Dinosaurs!"

   The front-page image of superimposed raptors on a desert scene made it almost worth buying. It's a shame I was in a rush to escape the Wal-Mart in which I was.


   • Going camping. Ah, the outdoors.


-- Nothing like a sweet jackfruit on a summer's eve.

Hannah Takaki, left, gets a little help from her cousins, Casey Proud, second from left, Daniel Schattauer and Kyle Kapunia, right, while harvesting a giant Jackfruit in Kona, Hawaii, on Friday. The family will submit the fruit to Guinness Book of World Records as the worlds largest tree fruit. Officially weighed at the Kona Pacific Farmers Cooperative, the sweet tasting fruit registered a 76.4 pounds with a circumference of 47.75 inches. Native to Western India, the fruit spread throughout South East Asia and first came to Hawaii in 1888.
(AP Photo /HO/ Ken Love)


August 8, 2003 - Securing The Speech Organ
   Dances With Importance:

Gillette Placard

For First Impression, Klecko's More Than Small Wonder
-- For once I have no one to blame on a headline ... I wrote it. And laid it out. And gave it far more play than it ever really deserved.

   And while we're starting sentences with 'and,' reader mail time:

Subject: Another View ....
Date: Thu, 7 Aug 2003
From: _____@aol.com
To: jcouture at s-t dot com

   Jon, having scanned your Wednesday article in the Standard-Times ['Even rebuilt Red Sox don't frighten N. Y.'], you might want to reconsider your primary reading source. The [NY] Daily News is the equivalent to the Herald in Boston, catering to a tee-shirted, cigar-smoking crowd who think they 'know' sports. Would 'pandering' be too strong a word for some of the efforts these folks put forth in an effort to drive up circulation?

   To get a clearer picture regarding the Yankees' level of concern regarding recent moves by the Red Sox, invest in and read the New York Times. For a long, long time. Not only do these writers avoid the lowest common denominator, but they know the game. Regular readers of Jack Curry, William C. Rhoden, Murray Chass and the others sense that in fact there is a heightened state of alert at the epicenter of the Yankees world -- where it matters most: within the clubhouse walls and in the team's general offices [as evidenced by yesterday's move to jettison Benitez and re-acquire Nelson]. New York's flurry of trades this year alone is an indication of the unease with the team's performance, a symptom even a first-time rotisserie manager can unearth.

   Don't let 'red-meat' items like the one you published yesterday become your fall-back position when it's so clearly an attempt to fill space on deadline. There's enough pandering going on around us every day. It's unacceptable, and begins contaminating your strength to be taken seriously as a journalist, thereby hurting the rest of us who take this work seriously. By contrast, emulate any one of the people mentioned above, and everything you produce will be worth reading.

   You'll note -- I hope -- that I forwarded this message to you directly, rather than splash it across your editorial page in a 'letter'; it's that degree of professionalism, care and courtesy that I'm suggesting your writing should reek of each time you begin work on an item.

   But what do I know, right? [And no, my favorite team resides a bit West of the Bronx. Maybe someday we'll fly out to Busch and take in a World Series game together, eh?] Best of luck.

   Your ombudsman,
   ______ _. ________
   Fall River, MA
-- As with every letter I get, I replied to the best of my ability.

   The more I re-read this though, the more bothered I am. "Don't let 'red-meat' items like the one you published yesterday become your fall-back position when it's so clearly an attempt to fill space on deadline"? It wasn't. It was something I chewed over all weekend, sampling many different media in the city, and while I don't think I pulled it off as well as I could have, I certainly don't think comparing it to pieces being considered "pandering" is warranted.

   And the whole "But what do I know, right?" shows that I either have a major perception problem to my readership or we're dealing with someone who has been shat on by a few too many other writers in the past.

   All that said, I'm always happy when someone writes in. If all of my readers cared as much as those of you who take the time to chat with me do, I'd already be riding the Acela to Gooder Writing Town.


   • Given who I am, what I like and what I read, the ESPN Page 2 tour of ballparks this summer is very intriguing. The one that's most caught my eye so far? Edison Field.

"Maybe it's the buzz left over from the World Series win, maybe it's the sunshine and the sweet smell of tailgating grills, or maybe it's high school memories of my guys in the deep right-field seats shouting down Ken Kaiser for a missed call at first and mocking Joe Orsulak for his big ol' butt."

"Whatever it is, after my visit to Edison, I'm ready to put the Anaheim fans up against any in the bigs. They rock. They come early, dress in team colors, fire up some dogs in the lot, play catch around the grounds, shout their lungs out from first pitch to last, have keen eyes and long memories, and love that little David Eckstein something fierce."
-- Eric Neel

   Quite simply, it is just the World Series afterglow. I know ... I was there before it happened, when there were 20K and change and most of them were cheering for the Red Sox. I'd like to believe there'll be some continuation of the rabid fandom after the Angels surrender the World Champions tag in October, but it's just a hard sell having seen how empty that ballpark could be.

   Granted, it was a Monday night for a team out of the pennant race. But, and I hate to make the comparison and seem like I'm attacking the fans there, those kind of Monday nights in Boston still draw 32,000 to Fenway.

   And what about the Fenway rating? Well, it's a fair assessment. It's good to see the guy who they sent to the game had a solid grasp on the park, because everybody knows those sections down in the right-field corner, approximately 598 feet from home plate, are about the same experience as sitting on your couch with a bag on your head.

   The concessions do suck, though I'm partial to the newly-added "chicken finger-spicy fries" combo for $6. And you don't really understand "There is none (swtiching seats factor) -- the game was sold out and nobody leaves until it's over" until you realize it's the truth 9 nights out of 10.

   The key thing to remember about Fenway Park is that as much as we all hate Fenway Park, we love Fenway Park that much more.


   Anyway, there's news to discuss. Rush "Voice Of The People/Common Football Fan" says Arnold sucks. It's just this kind of crap that's going to prevent the second-greatest political moment in history from happening, and I just won't stand for it.

   The greatest, of course, being Jesse Ventura's election to the governorship of Minnesota. Considering I grew up listening to him doing screaming wrestling commentary with a pre-roids Vince McMahon, there's nothing Arnold could do to compare.

   Even if he did star in "The Last Action Hero."


August 7, 2003 - Continuing Stupidly Starstruck
   Wallpaper Offer: I made it a point not to take pictures in New York City, since I figured there were more than enough people out there doing it for me, but I couldn't pass up every scene.

WTC Rose
[ 1024x768 ]   [ 800x600 ]
-- You know where it is, and what it is. Links above.

   Remix Stuck In Head Offer: As previously mentioned by Matt Bruce, the combination of NIN's "Closer" and 50 Cent's "In Da Club" available here truly improves both songs and can easily be qualified as "infectious."

   Kinda Pro Sports, Part One: Shock of shocks, there's a racial divide in the public's view of the Kobe Bryant case. And I'm not even talking about the "people who think Mark Cuban is right" and the "people who are wrong" split.


   • And I attended "Kinda Pro Sports, Part Two."

   I think my biggest problem covering the Patriots-Giants game is the one I expected going into it -- in my notes, I spent way too much time watching the Giants. I'm still trying to develop the kind of critical eye you need if you're going to write about football in a region this rabid, but it didn't help matters that the fan in me was equally focused on how well the opposition was looking.

   Let's just leave it at this. Watching the Giants first string out there, I could hear my father screaming at the television on the other side of the state. They out and out sucked. Kerry Collins had a 35.8 rating for the night ... I can't even believe it was that high.

   Sitting in the same press box as the entire Giants front office, including longtime president Wellington Mara, I just didn't have the heart to go say hello when his team looked that abysmal.


   There's definitely an art to covering a football game from a press box, which isn't as antiseptic an experience as you might think it is. While the people in the room don't cheer, most of them are clearly football fans, and will react to a good play in the kind of subdued manner I usually do from home anyway.

   As I quickly learned, there's no need to take a running log of all the plays on the field, because the PR staff is pretty quick to get game summaries out to everyone shortly after the end of each quarter. And the several-second delay between live action and the TV broadcast is very beneficial -- it's essentially an automatic instant replay to better see the players involved in what you just watched on the field.

   Gillette has two press boxes. The upper one has windows that open, a single row of seats that looked to be saved for TV/Radio and national media and doubles as the food/buffet room. The larger one below is three decks of stadium seats, with priority going along the break it should go and me sitting in the row exactly where I belonged.

   The actual machinations of the evening, from the press conferences to the locker room, aren't all that interesting -- if anyone really wants to know, feel free to ask away -- but just the entire evening is one of those things that, as you're doing it, you realize that you're in the middle of something most sports fans would jump over their mothers to do.

   Sitting in the back row I could see fine, but there was a small speaker outside the box hanging dark over the glass. In it, I could look straight ahead and see my own reflection, just sitting there with guys who just do this stuff for a living. The fact that I'm there with them, even in the small way that I am, the fact that my name was listed on the same press box seating chart as essentially every big Boston sportswriter, as Wellington Mara, as Peter King ... well, I'm still young enough that I continue to be awestruck.

   And to think, Friday I'll actually write.


August 6, 2003 - Balls. And Golfing.
   Award Update: To celebrate my bronze medal performance, I went out and played a whole round of golf with my eyes closed.

Hole
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
OUT
Yards
387
406
170
386
153
466
394
429
481
3272
PAR
4
4
3
4
3
5
4
4
5
36
Cooch
7
5
4
5
3
6
5
7
6
48
• Allendale CC - North Dartmouth, Mass. •
Hole
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
IN
Yards
356
480
162
349
156
514
343
334
391
3085
PAR
4
5
3
4
3
5
4
4
4
36
Cooch
5
6
4
5
3
6
6
6
6
47
PAR 72
95, 23 OVER PAR
6357 YARDS
Birdies: 0 - Pars: 2 - Bogeys: 11 - Others: 5
Fairways Hit: 5 of 14 - Greens In Regulation: 2 of 18 - Putts: 34

   Allendale is one of the few courses I've played with truly undulating greens and real collection areas around them that get straying approach shots and filter them away from the hole. Made for a really difficult round.

   As did playing approach shots as though I had stumps for arms. When you're 60 yards from the green on a pair of par fives, and make a six on each, there's not much else to say. I looked like I was strip mining for gypsum, for cripes sake.

   No, Really. Award Update: I have tried to find links to the columns of the other Class Two winners, both for my own curiosity and because one person who shall remain nameless was perplexed how I could have possibly lost ot other human beings.

   Honest. And it's not even my mother!

   Well, the Cape Cod Times' site has paid archives, but I was successful with links to a couple of second-place winner Joe Palladino's pieces in the Waterbury Republican-American.

Eric Gongola - Cape Cod Times
No Time Like Present For Rose
Baseball's Coming-Out Party Long Overdue
A Crying Shame: No Sympathy For Baseball's Sob Story

Joe Palladino - Waterbury Rep-Am
Personal Torment Set Aside
Disability, Not Disabled
He Was The Valley

Jon Couture - The Standard-Times
All Signs Point To A Troubled Game
The Upside Of Becoming A Revs Fan
Bowling: It's Not About Funny Shoes Anymore

   At worst, NEAPNEA publishes a book of all the winners' work sometime later this year. If the two Palladino columns are any indication, which they are, I was clearly bested.


   • I have long had a fascination with California. Even before Meg came along, I always had kind of wondered about the state. Then when I actually found reason to go there, I snapped it up the chance and any doubt was all over.

   I was officially sold on California.

   When you look at the state as a whole, I honestly sit back and wonder why it doesn't just become the default place for everyone to live. Like, you know all those people who desperately need a new start? Like Matthew Broderick in Election? Or just people who have nowhere to go and are looking for somewhere to latch to? The default place for them all to go is New York City, the place you can disappear and never be bothered again. But I've always wondered why it isn't California ... L.A. or S.F., as your preferences prefer.

   The weather's better. The scenery's nicer. The living, almost by default, has to be cheaper. Have I mentioned the weather's better?

   There is obviously some sort of mental block within the rest of the world that is stopping California from becoming grossly overpopulated. I mena, i'ts got everything. You want mountains? Done. Deserts? Sold. Big city living? Lots of it. Wilderness habitation? Easy. I suppose it could have something to do with the death by earthquake, but I'm pretty sure I'm finally starting to pin down just what it is that's stopping California from becoming the nation's destination.

   There is a good chance, a legitimate and believable chance, that the people of the state of California are going to recall their current governor and replace him with Arnold Freaking Schwarzenegger.

   Quoting from the Drudge Report ratings synopsis of Arnold's Leno appearance Wednesday night:

"No need for an election -- the overnights are in -- starring Jay Leno and Republican candidate for California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. And on the morning after the night before A.C. NIELSEN shows the TONIGHT SHOW duo captured nearly 1 out of 4 televisions turned on in the L.A. market [the nation's #2] in a ratings sensation!"
-- The show did a 14 share in NYC, 20 in SF and 23 in L.A.
Super Bowl 37, for comparison, landed a 62 share nationwide, or 62% of all TVs.

   Surely, I'm not suggesting that everyone who watched Leno is going to vote for Arnold ... a lot of people were undoubtably watching to just begin that evaluatory stage. And there's no guarantee Schwarzenegger will even finish high in the polls, though he probably will.

   But the fact remains ... when people talk about Gray Davis and whether or not he should be yanked from office, consider this. The people of the state of California are so fed up with him, they're considering replacing him with the guy who starred in Jingle All The Way with Sinbad.

   Last three points:

   1) I realize that both Californians and the nation as a whole elected the man who starred in "Bedtime For Bonzo" to the presidency. There's a good chance that Arnold may very well make a very competent leader and excellent governor. This, however, does not change the fact he also co-starred with Danny DeVito in a 1988 film called Twins, and that he can be quoted as having both said "I'm pregnant." and "It's not a tumor!"

   2) Will I immediately swear California off the potential "future places to live" list if they elect Arnold governor? Absolutely not. Any state that has the cojones to go, "Screw waiting for the next election. We're canning our stupid governor now," is one that I'd be proud to live in.

   3) Technically, the people of California are also considering replacing their governor with wheelchair-ridden porn kingpin Larry Flynt. However I don't really consider the two on the same level, as one is an upstanding man with a chance of winning and the other declared August 1 a day to pray for Bill O'Reilly's death.


August 3-5, 2003 - Localized Me Flooding
   Krispy Konquest: In the annals of the Picture Of The Moment, none may be as subtlely unsettling to me as the announcement that a Krispy Kreme will soon be open in Harrods. No no no, not the Kentucky Harrods, the "Understanding Luxury" Harrods of London, England, UK, Ponce Capital of the World.

WASPy Kreme
-- They have good teeth, you note. How they rose to the top.

Haven Burke, left, Chief Executive, and Don Henshall, Managing Director of Krispy Kreme UK Ltd, holds up a doughnut outside Harrods department store in London on Tuesday. Krispy Kreme will open its first factory store in Europe at the famous department store in October 2003 -- the first of 25 stores that Krispy Kreme plans to open over a five-year period in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. (AP Photo/Vismedia, ho)

   Thanks to the Financial Times for helping me flesh at least the following out:

"Accessible through the Harrods food hall, Krispy Kreme will have its own entrance and will start selling at 7am daily. The company is setting up its usual Krispy Kreme doughnut-making 'theatre' showing the doughnut making process and will sell Krispy Kreme coffee."

   Knowing Harrods has a food hall makes this story a little more assemblable, since before that, I could only relate it to a place like a Saks Fifth Avenue -- you know, the kind of place where a Krispy Kreme would fit in like a black shopper. I sense there's a reason the decor is predominantly white.

   All I know is that on the listing inside the elevators, on the 4th floor Saks sells "Real Clothes." Honest to freaking God. Thank goodness they clarified and saw it my way, because on most of the racks I looked at all I saw were multi-hundred dollar shirts and jackets that I'd never wear for fear my body was touching them.


   • New York weekend, eh? Considering I'm already behind one large swath of time on here, we'll top ten it.

   1) Matt. Many thanks to him because of the invite, especially since I then spent all day Sunday with the two other people I know living in Manhattan for the summer/a while. Ignoring that, his invite allowed me to again stay in what is easily the nicest apartment I have ever seen. If there were a numerical scoring system that factored in both location and amenities, Matt's place would very easily lap any one that you live in, lived in, ever looked at or knew a guy who had looked at it.

   Then again, I believe they do have such a scoring system. It's called "rent."

   2) Weather. Within five blocks of being met by Vito at Grand Central, it would be raining heavily while I could still see blue sky and/or the Sun. This would have been odd by itself, had it not happened four times over the course of the weekend.

   Clearly (and I don't mean to use His name in vain) God is angry. And since New York has not done anything wrong ever -- just ask a city resident for confirmation -- it obviously has something to do with me.

   3) Walking. On Sunday, I walked no less than 10 miles, and quite possible as many as 15. The result of this walking, in material terms only, totaled XTREMO Mango Gatorade and a cheap barbecue dinner with a waiter who can't operate a credit card scanner.

   Regardless, few things that I've done in the past few months were as fun or as rewarding. Big thanks to Vito for keeping up, and for having equally no idea what he wanted to do that day.

   4) Central Park. Crossed it shortways five times, and let me just say, there's nothing quite so disorienting as knowing you're in the center of a city holding seven million people, yet you're looking at a landscape that looks straight out of Western Massachusetts. It's almost as odd as walking one block off Commonwealth Avenue into Brookline, and finding you've stepped into a place where no house has been built since 1895.

   Of course, then looking up to see the skyscrapers puts it all back together. Kinda.

   5) The Guggenheim. It has a very nice gift shop. But when you arrive there just an hour before closing, and admission is $15, picking up a free paper copy of The Onion and going eat shrimp and ribs seems a much better idea.

   6) The Subway. I never would have thought I'd smell a smell that made me wish the system smelled like urine. However, I do like the fact that, thanks to the advent of always-working Metrocard machines, someday I may never have to communicate with another person again.

   7) Answers. First, I see a theater showing the never-heard-of-it The Secret Lives Of Dentists. Hours later, Denis Leavy is talking about it on The Daily Show. Then, I remark about a certain Times Square musical that no one can be "Thoroughly Modern" if their name is "Millie." Later, I'm told that old-people names like Gladys and Gertrude are starting to climb back up the newborn charts.

   The only way this didn't work is that my constant questions about Gigli didn't land me a free ticket to it, but instead first-time viewings of The Matrix Reloaded and Haiku Tunnel. As Matt so eloquently phrased it,

"Well, nothing like a good mind fuck, is there?"

   8) HDTV. Saw a good part of this in it once the second movie ended. It was impressive to say the least, but it strikes me that football is the major sport that gains the least from it.

   Given my salary and the propensity for people to look in my open window and ask for cigarettes, I will be holding off for a few more years.

   9) Intangibles. Hearing Vito describe that we were in "Ho" because, on Houston St., we were on the demarcation between NoHo and SoHo. Having Caroline continue to tell me that she's a bitch, all the while giggling and telling me very non-bitchy stories. Looking over at Matt and pointing, after I'd discovered the shawl I'd been poking at in Sake Fifth Avenue cost $1,395. And just the general feeling that, while I would never remotely desire to live in New York City, I can at least now understand and appreciate why some people do.

   10) Column. I did not write one for Tuesday because I was on "vacation." But I did write one for now.

Even Rebuilt Red Sox Don't Frighten New York
-- I suppose I should have actually written this Gotham-centric piece in New York City, because the added smiles of getting to give it a NEW YORK CITY dateline would have made me all warm and fuzzy inside.

   I probably would have written a piece once I got back anyway. But the fact that I fielded a phone call on Monday regarding the following only ensured I stuck to my word.

2003 New England AP News Execs. Assoc. Writing Contest -- SPORTS COLUMN
Class One
(60,000+ Circulation)
Class Two
(30,000-60,000 Circulation)
Class Three
(>30,000 Circulation)
FIRST PLACE
RON CHIMELIS
Union-News/Sunday Republican
Springfield, Mass.
FIRST PLACE
ERIC GONGOLA
Cape Cod Times
Hyannis, Mass.
FIRST PLACE
ALAN GREENWOOD
The Telegraph
Nashua, N.H.
SECOND PLACE
GARRY BROWN
Union-News/Sunday Republican
Springfield, Mass.
SECOND PLACE
JOE PALLADINO
Republican-American
Waterbury, Conn.
SECOND PLACE
RICK McGOWAN
The Newport Daily News
Newport, R.I.
THIRD PLACE
JOE SULLIVAN
The Union Leader
Manchester, N.H.
THIRD PLACE
JON COUTURE
The Standard-Times
New Bedford, Mass.
THIRD PLACE
BRYANT CARPENTER
Record-Journal
Meriden, Conn.

   Suffice to say, I'm floored. I was the only person in the S-T Sports Department to win anything, and one of just five prizes the entire paper took home. Or will take home Friday, Oct. 10, during NEAPNEA's Fall Conference in, of all places, Springfield, Mass. In my wildest dreams I'd imagined having my name called for something, but there's a reason they call those things "wildest dreams."

   What takes me even more are the people that I'm listed with. I grew up reading Chimelis and Brown almost every day -- Garry's random facts "Hitting To All Fields" each Wednesday was the first thing I'd go for after I got back from delivering the paper. Eric Gongola is a friend of Jon Comey's who complimented my writing earlier in the year. Alan Greenwood is someone who I sort of used to work with -- and if can give a nod to my intern home, is one of a half-dozen-plus award winners from Nashua.

   The others who I don't know are surely excellent writers as well -- maybe if I feel ambitious sometime I'll link to all the winning pieces, but for now, I'll just say my trio ended up being strikes bad, strikes good and weren't enough strikes to win them the MLS Cup.

   In a way, it almost seems like way too much, way too soon. I mean think about it -- I now have factual basis that would allow me to say I'm one of the ten best sports columnists in New England. I'm going to go to a banquet with my journalistic peers, journalistic peers which I acutally now have, and be called up on stage to receive an award they believe I deserve.

   It almost feels like too much, too soon. But it doesn't, because it hasn't been perfect. You know exactly what I mean ... as I will go to the Aug. 31 Sox-Yankees game without the person I bought those tickets with, I'll go to this banquet without the person who was in the room with me when I wrote that very first column twelve months ago. If memory serves me correctly, the person who was the first to read that column.

   But there's nothing more to say about that than "What's done is done for now." I'll stick to the angst-worthy things that I can control, like that every time I hear or see a preview for FOX's The OC, complete with Phantom Planet's "California" playing, I get the stomachache that seeing that above list just erases away.

   Or better yet, the fact that even the vaunted Associated Press can send out a press release with my name spelled JOHN COUTURE. You'd think that at some point, they might have looked at the columns with the big picture of me and my name on them.

   Ah, the price of fame.


August 2, 2003 - Brockton Meteorology
   The Problem With The Internet, Part One: Blatantly theiving from Dave Barry's Blog, it's that it encourages this. This, if the link blows up, being a man's attempt to grow "this beergut huge as it can get."

   The Problem With The Internet, Part Two: The 'vegas.' writeup is progressing, with delays popping up lately because I've developed a life. My goal is to have it done by next weekend, so you can all read it, decide you hate it, and we can move on with our lives.


   • The best part about bruschetta? Just the idea of it makes everything smell like it. Put some in your fridge, then whenever you open it, it's just intoxicating. Smells like it even well after it's all gone. A very good thing if you tomatoes and/or onion and/or bread. The cheese doesn't so much smell like anything.

   Check that. The best part about bruschetta?

   Making it with someone. And not having her find that many amazing ways to call you wrong.

   As a programming note, I'm going to New York City for a couple days. If you haven't already checked out Cockeyed.com, don't now. You'll never come here again.


August 1, 2003 - 1.8 And Falling
   Some Jokes Are Too Cruel: Enrique Oliu does Spanish-language color commentary for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, a team that has only once in its history finished a season within 25 games of first place.

   Enrique Oliu is blind.

   He also does color for the Super Bowl champion Bucs though ... but that kinda ruins the cruelty, doesn't it? No worries. The AP saves the day by moving this Picture Of The Moment:

Lun-AHHHH!
-- Because just shooting 76-95 wasn't embarassing enough.
Taking a picture that won't be run in any newspaper is really necessary.

   And how does one fire a 95 in a major, you ask? Well, a 12 on the par-4 14th and a 10 on the par-4 18th is a pretty good start.


   • I need to not be here right now. So I will.


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2002: [12] - [11] - [10] - [09] - [08] - [07] - [06] - [05] - [04] - [03] - [02] - [01]
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