August 31, 2005 - Since You've Been Gas
   Why I Love Celebrity Culture, Part 17: Given the events of the past few days, the quote that made me walk out of the room in disgust last week during an episode of Entertainment Tonight seems all the more poignant.

   As she spoke while presenting at the Video Music Awards, which were outside in Miami:

"I wasn't about to let a little hurricane keep me from wearing my bathing suit."

   And good for you. Since when you're old and ugly like every member of humanity eventually becomes, it will be all you have. Sort of like how whatever they're wearing is all that some New Orleans residents have, you absolutely vapid flash in the pan. Even if they were smart enough to live in a coastal bowl beneath sea level, that's just a special level of "Look at MEEEEE!" obsession.

   Though I would like to congratulate the Astrodome, site of my first-ever felony, for being made the home for the refugees in lieu of the Superdome, which is apparently in worse shape than any human can even fathom.

   Why I Have Career Crises: I think this Bill Simmons column sums up exactly why I don't feel like I fit in at a lot of large sporting events anymore.

Which gets me back to my original point: The NFL is the only sport that matters anymore. If any other league disappeared for a few weeks, or even months -- like, you know, the NHL -- some small percentage of diehards would feel disenfranchised, and I'm sure there would be a general level of sadness and unrest. But if the NFL were to replicate that deadly 24-day strike this October? There'd be riots. Fans would infiltrate practice sites to flip over Explorers and Hummers. There'd be the most hostile talk-show rhetoric this side of Rush Limbaugh, maybe even death threats. The president would have to intervene as a matter of national security. Eventually, the two sides would agree to a new deal, if only to ensure the nation's welfare.

   And that's possibly not even the money shot. That could be the parts where Simmons talks about swapping phone calls about mock fantasy drafts, Sundays absolutely locked to a computer, etc. etc. ... the sorts of thing anyone over the age of 25 probably shouldn't be admitting to anyone he wants to respect him.

   Do I love the NFL? Absolutely, even if baseball may attract me a li'l more right now. Would I miss it if it was gone? Sure, probably somewhat.

   Would life end as I know it were they never to play again? Um, no. There's a multitude of reasons, but foremost among them would be that I have a life.

   If there was no football, I would find other ways to spend my time the same way I did during the hockey lockout, during the years the Red Sox don't make the World Series, during every February between the Beanpot and the start of the baseball season. It's called "living in a universe where sports are a part, not the friggin' Sun." I highly recommend looking into it.

   If only for the poker. Not that's wholesome entertainment everyone can enjoy. Especially when you win despite being an idiot who misplayed AA like you're never seen playing cards before.

   • As is woefully apparent both via yesterday's comments and the fact that none of you are blind, the quest to find Massachusetts' $3 gas ended in a hurry. While I've yet to actually see an above-$3 sign listed anywhere, that's because I didn't get in the car today -- whether it be this LiveJournal, these sorts of Web sites or my place of employment:

The Gas Winner
-- Cumberland Farms, Dartmouth (or anywhere, as I'm told they're all $3.11)

   I'm not actually finding that I'm dreading the drive to Boston for Thursday's Red Sox game. This is pretty strange, given I routinely skipped the cheap gas in Feeding Hills center because I don't feel like waiting for 35 minutes to reach a pump. Those of my level of independent wealth mock those who would do such a thing.

   I mean, look what I've been saving to laugh at for the past couple days.

Subject: Fw: Gas
Date: Tue, 30 August 2005
From: Somebody
To: cooch at joncouture dot com









   I love the name. Sounds like the word of an expert team.

   At this rate, I'll never be able to save the $15,000 I need to rent a suite at Giants Stadium for a game this year. Though it'd probably be just my luck ... I'd get the crappiest game on the schedule.

   "What happened to the reduction and control in prices that the Arab nations promised two weeks ago?" It's wedged under a bridge in Mississippi, where it ended up after it came off it's moorings. This is almost as stupid as the fact they've had to lock the supply cabinet at work because people keep walking off with boxes of pens. Though if you figure my average lifespan of a pen is three days -- before someone walks off with it from my desk -- maybe taking the whole box at once is easier.

August 30, 2005 - Blinded By The Salt
   Rumor: Supposedly, a couple of Western Mass. gas stations were selling premium for $3.29 yesterday, which would more than simply end the quest to find the first $3.00 gasoline in Massachusetts, and make us one step closer to being Californina. Unfortunately, this is just a rumor, and could be due to it being a full-serve station.

   Therefore, the most boring quest in the history of boring continues. It's $2.92 and counting.

   Newspapering: I rarely try to pretend I know what I'm talking about, but if the reporters and everyone at the New Orleans Times-Picayune don't win a Pulitzer for their coverage of Hurricane Katrina, I guess I really don't understand what journalism awards are all about.

   Never mind that they're publishing almost complete editions while their entire city is under feet of water that's rising by the minute -- via PDF and the like -- but it's absolutely gripping stuff. I suppose you could say that any coverage at this point would be gripping stuff, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't spend half of tonight's Red Sox game reading it.

Injury Gives Damon A Chance To Rest
-- Those of you who watched said game will note Damon didn't actually rest ... he came within a few feet of winning said game. Yeah, let's not talk about that. After all, it wasn't the people back in the office who look like an idiot.

Nothing Sure With Schilling
-- I actually found myself slightly more optimistic about the whole pitching thing after hearing the man speak, which I suppose means I'm a homer. However, I allowed myself to pin it on his new platinum blonde hair, which looks much less goofy than it did when Bill Parcells did it.

   Course, I also thought my hair looked lighter than normal in the Fenway lights tonight. Such is the reverse of what should happen after you get a haircut, though that in and of itself is a fun story -- getting one at my old college barber shop in Boston, my barber had to stop right before the haircut because he had to take some odd phone call involving the misbehavior of a friend's child. The friend being an attorney.

   Which was basically the same thing as was playing out on the TV in the background on an episode of "The People's Court." Sadly, no Ed Koch.

   • Since that last story was so pointless, some pointless thoughts on music.

   Carson Daly is apparently too big to host the televised version of TRL, but still hosts the radio version as though that's any better. It was in that countdown that I heard Don't Cha by The Pussycat Dolls for the 17th time in the last 48 hours, after never having heard of the artist or song at any point in the last 25 years.

Don't cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?
Don't cha wish your girlfriend was a freak like me?
Don't cha
Don't cha
Don't cha wish your girlfriend was raw like me?
Don't cha wish your girlfriend was fun like me?
Don't cha
Don't cha

-- Repeat that at least 14 times.

   I mean, it was in the opening for the U.S. Open when they were showing various attractive shots of Maria Sharapova. Someone has known about it for a while, though it may be limited to executives getting hot over a 19-year-old or those kids on TRL who make a request, then fire off a 135 DECIBEL SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAM to profoundly emphasize their point.

   As I won't be watching the video on the aforementioned site, someone please verify if there is "ass working" in it. I still won't watch it if anyone assures me there is, or even if anything in there makes any number of the Pussycat Dolls look less like something that would snap in the wind.

   While you're doing that, I'll just start the countdown to how long before they show up at The Big E, which this year has landed not only Charo and Gretchen Wilson, but the oft-horrific Los Lonely Boys.

   I would mention that they also landed Collective Soul, but I don't want to put them in the same sentence as any band I dislike as much as Los Lonely Boys. They could not possibly suck any more ... if they did, they'd be Sublime.

   As for Collective Soul, that hurts. I have far too many of their CDs for them to be playing a place known for making butter sculptures and having copious amounts of beef jerky in the Better Living Center. Though really, I think jerky at one time was the very model of Better Living. Meat that never goes bad.

   Because it's not that good to begin with.

August 29, 2005 - Escape From Entertainment Tonight
   Back to Barnes: In between the dripping downpours and the sort-of performances and the announcers telling us just how wonderful we were for staying in the rain like obsessive idiots, there was plenty of time to notice the multitude of booths selling various airshow merchandise.

   As well as the women walking into the facility in burqas and full garb, but really, we needn't go into that.

   My personal favorite -- other than the "Italian Sausage" that looked a genetically souped-up Jimmy Dean -- was a lifeguard red collection of T-shirt, female tank and femals short, all adorned with one simple message.


   I'm curious whether any female (or hopeful guy) bought the tank and short so that, no matter which way they were facing, their squeeze could be encouraged to get naked for afterburners. Which in and of itself would be a great bumper sticker ... "I Honk For Heat Trails."

   There's a reason they're the professionals.

   How To Entertain Yourself For Almost Nothing: I so rarely get to rifle off some poker lingo, but this is a story I think we all can enjoy.

6:30 a.m. -- I'm out of the house making the 77-mile drive, hoping to hell the commute into Hartford doesn't begin at this hour of the morning.

7:50 a.m. -- I'm parking at Foxwoods, and no, I did not drive between 85 and 90 mph on Route 2 just so I could make the 8 a.m. start of the $45-$15 no-limit tournament, the first live tournament I've ever played.

   8:10 a.m. -- Unaware of the values of the tournament chips I've been given -- they're green, gray and purple, and I've decided I'll "figure it out as I go" -- I land pocket aces for the first time in a live game. Somehow, I manage.

   9:05 a.m. -- I'm ousted in the fourth level after, with 900 chips at 100-200 blinds, I go all-in under the gun with AJo. Called by pocket kings, I hit a jack on the flop but get nothing else.

This follows me reaching somewhere in the 2,700 range, but then floundering it away trying to bluff a guy off what was a full house and calling down a guy who really did hit a flush on the river, the son of a bitch.
Day's Total: Down $60

11 a.m. -- After walking the complex, marveling at the smattering of elderly people here on a Monday morning and reclaiming $10 on a video poker machine -- Day's Total: Down $50 -- I say my goodbyes to DFP collague Bill, who's the reason I'm here and who has been on the premises since 12:30 a.m. As he bails, I'm finishing my 30-45 minute wait to sit at a new $4-$8 Hold'Em table.

   2:30 p.m. -- I'm leaving up, but as usual, not as far up as I could have been. Sitting with my usual three stacks of $40 plus $30, I had it up as high as almost 10 stacks of $40 until the same semi-aggressive play that got me there does what it does when it doesn't work. What finally drove me out was a combination of not having eaten all day and this hand, but for the story's sake, let's pin it here.

Somewhere in middle position, I call with K7h. Maybe four callers, flop gives me three kings with no flush draw. Betting out, the one guy who calls is an older gent so fat, he needs assistance and crutches to move around. All day, he's been playing everything ... to the point where I'm sure one of the stacks before me is only his cash.

   Speeding things along, the turn (Q) and river (J) gives him a straight, which beats my unimproved three kings. Except he was shooting for a flush that he didn't get, and after I throw down my three of a kind, he gets all discouraged, compliments my hand and all but throws his hand in the muck, making it invalid.

Sadly, someone notices and tells Captain UConn Cap and Tattoed Arms. He sheepishly takes pot as I squint down at his cards and ... chuckle and shake my head.

Hours later, I come up with the perfect comeback if the guy had been a smart ass -- which he entirely wasn't.

"Enjoy the $100, sir. It comes with a complimentary case of heart failure."

Regardless, it's still $70 more than I walked in the room with. Day's Total: Up $20

3 p.m. -- I'm back in the Saturn after eating at the buffet, if only so I could tell people that I'd gotten up at 6 a.m. and drove for three hours for ... Day's Total: Up $5.20

   And you thought it would be a boring story. Now, if only I didn't have a couple useless $100 bills in my wallet. I would much rather have had several useless $100 bills in my wallet. Chalk it up to the relentless pursuit of entertainment. Which reminds me ...

   • On Tuesday, I return to work (in so much as Sox-Rays is work) for the first time since Sunday. I think. It actually has been so long, I can't remember. My apartment building could have collapsed five minutes after I left the city, and all the rubble would have been cleared by now.

   In all honesty, it really feels like the end of summer vacation. For the first time in a long time, I'm honestly dreading going back East and back to the office. I don't know what that says about all involved, and while the time off hasn't been perfect, I had forgotten how nice it was to live like a normal person who gets to go out at night and see his loved ones -- friends and more than -- often because they're nearby.

   Well, you know, I do know what that means. It means the same thing it means every time I go through this. It's the realization that I'm constantly waiting for something else to spring up somewhere and give me some other outlet to make money and make a career. Having seen and met people who are clearly using every job they work as a means to get ahead in the business, I don't fault them. In a lot of ways, I admire their work ethic.

   But I also know that's not me. And it sounds callous, and it sounds stupid, and it sounds strange, but honestly. I've covered the AFC Championship. I've covered two ALCS. I've covered the most historic World Series that may have happened in 50 years.

   What else is there?

   I suppose it could start with answering my phone. But lest we forget why I never got a real cell phone until after I was out of college ... I'm one of those people that sometimes just doesn't want to be reached.

August 28, 2005 - Home-Field Advantage
   • In lieu of the more banal fanstasy draft or Brad Faxon shoots a 61 to win the GHO kind of stuff, we can save that for a day so I can give penance for my sins. In learning that Rosie is OK and out of New Orleans, I have to admit that the newsman deep within me is hoping for a big story to develop from this Hurricane Katrina.

   Obviously, I don't want anyone killed, not do I want New Orleans to be washed into the sea. But there's something about these storms ... even when Hurricane Bob hit New England back in the early '90s. It was almost like I wanted us to be flooded and crushed and all that for some very strange reason.

   I went to an air show today.. An air show largely eradicated by the first bad weather we've had in a week and a half. The Thunderbirds stunt team was replaced by several aeroibatic pilots, an aborted run from a supersonic truck and an F-15 demonstration. The 2,000-foot wall of explosions and fire became a 2,000-foot wall of smoke jetting from the ground, followed by the remaining gasoline smoldering on down. Three Miller Genuine Drafts made it no more impressive.

   What this has to do with anything, I don't know. But what I do now is that Monday is scheduled to be a full day spent at a casino. Literally, a full day. No good can come from that, right?

   Well, except for the reader.

August 27, 2005 - The Cats Are Crazy
   All Play And No Work Makes Cooch ...: You would think by now I'd have figured out that everything always seems to work out in the end.

Red Sox Will Be Adding Some New Faces
-- This week's Inside Baseball actually gets it right. On a night the Red Sox blow a 6-0 lead to the friggin' Tigers, I talk about how they blow leads. And the Stat That Time Forgot actually came up in conversation later that night. What a magical age.

Bigger Than The Game
-- The vaunted feature that sent me to Hartford, I somehow managed to work it in. College didn't teach me the ability to BS ... it taught me the great importance of using my ability to BS. For the forces of good, of course.

   Rosie: If you're still reading this thing, by all means, run. This is what happens when you only sort of watch the news for a couple days. All of a sudden, you realize you're a couple days from a gigantic hurricane explaining why you overheard someone say last night, "That's what they get for building their civilization in a swamp."

   • Watching The 40 Year Old Virgin wasn't the bad idea. Nor was taking a bunch of non-golfers to play pitch-and-putt.

   The 2 a.m. Taco Bell ... that may ulitmately prove the bad idea.

   It was very funny, but there was something about "Virgin" that just didn't work for me. Maybe in a couple days I'll put my finger on it, but perhaps it was that through the whole movie, I wanted him to get with the sexual deviant. The main love interest seemed a little rough.

   Plus, there are points where you feel it trying to be a little more than the average crappy, juvenile comedy, and it really doesn't seem to work. You can't really build around a premise like this, get the audience ready with a whole bunch of gay jokes, then try to make them feel something. Or maybe you can ... like I said, I'm not really sure what to say.

   Very funny, yes. Rewatchable. But it made me crave 2 a.m. Taco Bell, which ultimately ... never good. Especially since the Gordita meal disappeared from the value menu.

   Chalupas, while good, are a step away from some restaurant frying pieces of fruit.

August 26, 2005 - Lost In Not Having To Work
   I Have Nothing To Add: Because my vacations basically become news blackouts, I'm not exactly dealing in a place of information right now. I watched this guy run roughshod over the field in Hartford today, just as I'd watched him as a 17-year-old English amateur almost win the British Open -- even in Scotland, it was a big story. Either Rose or Ben Curtis would make a fine champion.

   Which, of course, means Dean Wilson or Franklin Langham will win. I'm sure they're lovely people, and could really use the $774,000, but all the same I'd rather a champion my mother has actually heard of. And yes, she shockingly remembered Justin Rose almost winning the British Open in 1998 ... can't say as I can begin to know why, but impressive all the same.

   And yes, I'm still steamed that the idiots spelled my name "John Couture" on my press pass. Simple minds, complex anger issues.

   Patriots 27, Packers 3: OK. Perhaps they're not quite as bad as I thought they were. The Red Sox may be a different story, but the Patriots have at least help up the illusion that the fall won't be cold and depressing in the "City of Champions."

   A 9-8 win, at home, against the friggin' Tigers. And I said publicly this team would make it to the ALCS. I really am better not seen nor heard.

   • Now, if I told you that I spent Friday night at a performance by the Glenn Miller Orchestra, you would probably either be impressed or think I was lying. Neither of those should be true.

   But the going was ... I've always said I'd do anything once, and this clearly falls into that category.

   As with most things, I'm sure I didn't enjoy it as much as I would have if I knew what I was looking at, but I know some of the music. I enjoy watching old people ballroom dance in a large athletic arena as though it was their 1948 Senior Prom. I learned they really do make flip flops that light up when you walk, even if the concept is enough to scare the elderly while they walk up stairs.

   And then there were the guys who showed up in the long pinstriped suits with the fedoras and the vests. The kind who either had this date starred on theie calendars for weeks or follow the Orchestra around the country like groupies, with a new woman in every town.

   Maybe they were all fired up when the bandleader said, "You know, the crowd in Hartford was louder." To me, if you don't follow that up with a stirring rendition of "Brass Bonanza," you're wasting my and everyone else's time.

   Also, the disco ball was totally out of place and pointless. Nothing says romance like 8,500 empty maroon seats.

August 25, 2005 - Bloody Finger, Strawberry Magarita
   The Other Twenty: As is the case when I'm not doing Web updates at places I'm supposed to be working, I forgot a few things during yesterday's list.

   -- Gas in Manhattan blew away even the numbers I saw previously in California -- as high as $3.13 for self serve premium, with up past $3.40 for full serve, which is very common in a city where gas stations are more rare than spates of air that don't smell like hot dog water.

   -- In the pantheon of journalistic integrity, the Today show maybe gets to sell bootleg T-shirts out of a car trunk in the parking lot. After my mother and brother walked to the Rockefeller Center studios on Tuesday morning and got to see the back of Matt Lauer's head, we turned on the show just in time to see their gripping two-part, show-building series on "Can Men And Women Really Be Friends."

   If that alone doesn't stand for itself, it had an expert panel of a guy from a men's magazine, possibly a female psychologist and Bachelor Bob Guiney, who would love you to know he'll be appearing in Alliance, Ohio, on the 30th. Will he be singing? Will he be dancing? Promoting "Kill Reality"? Pleasuring himself in front of a live audience? Does it matter?

   HE WAS THE BACHELOR!!!! Maybe. I don't even know, nor do I care to know.

   This is, of course, all brought full circle because upon my return home, I saw Lisa discuss the story. I would have done something similar, but given I've historically proven to be weird when it comes to these things, I doubt my watches-porn-only-for-the-comedy-value lifestyle is a proper case study.

   • Now, if I'd been sent to cover the Buick Open Invitational Scramble Championship, the story of Michael Putnam would have just written itself.

   Twenty-two year old from Seattle leaves Washington to fly east for the U.S. Amateur in New Jersey. Flying Northwest, his flights get all screwed up because of the strike, and he gets there six hours late. Also, somewhere in the air, his agent calls him and tells him that he may have a sponsor's exemption to Hartford.

   Next day, plays a practice round round as though he's still playing the Amateur. Afterward, agent calls and says the sponsor's exemption is a go. Declares himself a pro in an airport, then gets the last train from Philadelphia to Hartford -- there's a piece of this story I'm missing, I'm suspecting. Sits next to a guy from near Hartford who knows little about the golf tournament, but responds with "That's nice" when told by Putnam he's going down and making his pro debut.

   After a couple practice rounds, shoots a 65 and is in second place after the first round.

   Probably won't last, but it's a pretty nice story. Better than "Cooch eats free Subway while wondering why he's sitting where he's sitting."

   About the only actual golf I got to see was on No. 15, my favorite hole anywhere. Paul Azinger, probably the biggest name I got to see play it, bounced his drive off the cart path, off the wooden retaining wall and had it roll to a stop on the path to the right. Opting not to take relief on the hill behind him atop the wooden wall, he chipped off the path over the green, chipped back on and made par.

   It was far more exciting if you were there. Especially since I totally would have putted the ball off the path, letting the curb shoot it into the air and possibly get it to stay on the green. If there's anyone who knows trouble shots, it's me.

August 22-24, 2005 - Also Not Live From New York
   • As is so often the custom, this is being written at a place where you'd logically think these things would be written -- the media tent at the Don't Call Us The GHO Open. When I was growing up, the signs on Route 91 said "GHO." Today, it's "PGA Event," which is good since this is now another nondescript Buick tournament with another nondescript field of nondescript players.

   The highlight names on the players sheet? Paul Azinger? Mark Calcavecchia? John Cook? Darren Clarke? It's so hard to choose. In reality, it's probably Jason Gore, who you know as the fat guy who came within a round of winning the U.S. Open despite being a veteran of the minor-league tours -- it's his first PGA Tour event since earning a promotion to the big tour by winning three on the Nationwide.

   And yes, I do hope they don't scan the WiFi to see what I'm writing in here. I also hope somebody can figure why the hell I'm here when I have no access to anything or anyone, but the fact I am on vacation makes me feel a little better about that.

   Anyway, each trip I take to New York City seems to reveal something new about the city. This one sort of did, but it was more an overwhelming feeling of pure indifference -- when I told Mom I'd turn down a job offer from the New York Times tomorrow because it'd mean I'd have to live in the vicinity of New York City, I was a little more serious than she probably understood.

   Though let's not burn through too much before I get to everyone's favorite vacation writeup ripoff, the "Twenty Talking Points."

   1. When the trip began, I had every intention of posting from the city, if only to chronicle the fun things my parents say and do -- hey, they're fun when the trip is over and I'm looking back. I obviously didn't for fears of cruelty, but I still remember the first one. My father, saying to the car door, "Well, that works like it's supposed to" when it wouldn't stay open as he parked on a hill.

   I'm pretty sure he was not talking about gravity, which actually was working like it's supposed to.

   2. This was during an Agawam breakfast, the meal which caused far more trouble than it was worth for three days. The country one was the calmest, but was followed by the next morning when I caused a semi-tiff by not wanting to go to Ellen's Stardust Diner, where the poodle-skirted wait staff sings.

   I find such things stupid. Others find such things entertaining, which is probably how places like the Hard Rock reach a point where they can charge $25 for T-shirts.

   3. Said tiff was nothing compared to the row caused by my wanting to eat at an "authentic" delicatessen like actual New Yorkers do, where I was shot down with "we're not guaranteed seats" and "I want to sit down and be waited on." Fair enough ... we went to some other place and by a nondescript waitress who Mom thought "looked like an actress."

   Perhaps for nasal spray, but I can't see much else.

   4. Staying in midtown at a Doubletree, I goofed by asking for a lower-level room because Mom isn't real good with heights. We were thus placed next to the air conditioning ducts and above the kitchen, which made for some fun times until we got swtiched. I enjoyed the rooms because they had flat-screen TVs that looked terrible, making me feel better about my not blowing poker money on one.

   Then again, I'm easily entertained.

   5. Also proven by how in every food store we went in, I looked to make sure they sold the NYC staple, the Black and White Cookie. I'm pretty sure it's against city law not to have them, which I would have verified by calling the city if this was one of those blogs.

   You know, the ones that try to be funny. Unlike this, where the crap comes naturally. Come to think of it, that line would become the "Tagline of the Moment" if that feature ever actually comes to fruition in the site redesign permanently scheduled for tomorrow.

   6. Apropos of nothing, especially not New York, there's a guy in here whose black-patterned golf shirt has a faded area that exactly matches that of a bra. I have no idea what this means, but I didn't want to chance either writing it down or forgetting it by tonight.

   Also, this place makes the U.S. Women's Open look like, well, the U.S. Women's Open. And no, I'm not just throwing stones because I didn't get inside-the-ropes access like I semi-schemed at aforementioned tournament.

   7. Now, the reason for the trip was the musical which we'll get to soon enough, but there was plenty more to do. Not the least of which included a sojourn to see Boggie and compete in the oft-mentioned (by him) Big Quiz Thing.

   8. Now, the first time I did bar trivia in the Boston area, our team won. Matty Cooch and I were joining a team that had won this competition three times out of the last four.

   I think you see where this is going ...

   9. Fourth place and a whole lot of freeloading.

   10. I'm pretty sure it wasn't my fault we lost, but we sure didn't help a whole lot. There was all of one sports question -- "What Boston sports landmark is 37 feet tall?" -- and though I totally knew that song the guy played was the "Blossom" theme, I definitely wasn't the only one.

   11. But hey ... drinking with friends is drinking with friends. And it was that or watching "Jaws" on an outdoor screen at Bryant Park.

   12. Most of Tuesday was spent playing tourists, as we rode the ubiquitous Gray Line tour buses around when I wasn't crippling my mother, who opted against walking shoes for fashion reasons. I actually did learn a few things regarding buildings and whatnot, plus I got to hear a Jewish woman obsess with safety pretend she was a tour guide.

   Oh, she was paid as one, but when you're letting the pass go by landmarks because some guy dared stand up for a split second to try and take a picture, I don't think you're really embracing the role.

   13. And the way they built the Brooklyn Bridge, sinking men in wooden caissons to dig out the bottom of the East River ... that's always cool. Especially when there's talk of the bends after talk of the bridge's original architect being murdered by a ferry driver. If New York had more exciting stuff like that out in the open, maybe I wouldn't view every trip there as pain.

   14. Course, maybe if I hadn't taken so long to view the island driving on the FDR Loop, or maybe if I wasn't convinced the Red Sox will be losing the 2005 ALCS to the Wild Card Yankees ...

   15. We skipped out Wednesday prior to a ferry tour of Manhattan, but not prior to driving through Spanish Harlem and The Bronx with my mom. Let me tell you, it was funny even before I found out my brother was holding him bladder in a panicked state.

   16. If you ever really have to pee, there are better places to try and do it than Pelham Bay, New York. That's all I know.

   17. The son of a bitch made up for it later last night, though, beating me by nine strokes on a mini golf course I'm convinced was rigged. I wish I could say I let him win, or that the 9 I took on the second hole was for effect.

   18. Screw the narrative ... as chain restaurants filled with fake things built around something else go, the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. in Times Square is pretty damn good. When they say "Boat Trash" or "Strawberry Lemonade" or "Ping Pong Shrimp," listen.

   19. As McDonalds Premium Chicken Sandwiches go, I hope there are people out there who think they're healthy just because they're chicken. I'm praying, mainly because I know there are.

   20. And as for the show ... well, I very quickly remembered that I was a big Billy Joel fan growing up. To the point where the first tape I ever bought was some Disney compilation -- Simply Mad About The Mouse -- that featured him and that the first tape I ever received was a copy of "Storm Front" with "We Didn't Start The Fire" stuck first. The guy doing the music was outstanding, as was the band.

   The actual dialogue-free show? Well, it was impressive, even if I will never figure out how anger is best portrayed by a lot of pirouettes. A lot of pirouettes.

   I'd say I enjoyed it, but I'm not sure I'm allowed to after spending so much time dreading it.

   And now, off to go spend the rest of a sunny afternoon watching golf and trying in vain to get people to talk to me about an event other than the one I'm at.

   Yeah ... I'm that optomistic too.

August 21, 2005 - Not Yet Live From New York
   The Aristocrats: There's a good number of you for whom this movie will go flying over the head of ... simply knowing that I paid money to see it, you would become even more shocked and appaled if you fully understood exactly what it was. This is not for you guys.

   It's for all the people who would simply be impressed that one could make a 90-minute film about one joke, even if it is a hell of a joke.

   I can't say it works on so many levels. I can't say it's deeper than it appears. It's pretty much a case of you either love it or you don't, and I have a couple of specific images in my mind about the don't side of the ledger.

   Those images, those people watching the movie, are far funnier than the film is itself. And let's leave it at that.

   • Rediscovering the old tradition of driving west in the early morning hours, my 2:30 a.m. gasoline stop featured a pair of highlights. After pumping exactly 2.000 gallons of gas -- $2.67 is a little much, thanks -- I went inside to buy a bag of Doritos.

   The clerk's name was Pebbles, and boy howdy was she happy to be there.

   For a moment, I almost wished an angry ex-boyfriend stormed into the store and tried to rob her. At which point I could decide to play hero, but do so by sauntering up to the counter, raising my hands in an attmept to calm him down, and say:

"Woah, woah, woah. Calm down. Now tell me what the problem is, Bam-Bam."

   I think a few more people will understand that one than the previously mentioned one. Unless of course you enjoy bla ... you know, I can't even start to tell it, because there's no way I'll be able to stop.

   And Mom would disown me straightaway. The family vacation is probably going to be interesting enough without that little sidelight.

August 20, 2005 - Less Bitchy Than It May Appear
   Technical Knockout: Thanks to Nick for pointing out that I never actually uploaded the press pin picture from earlier this week, meaning none of you could find the pin at an antique store unaware of what they've got, buy it on the cheap and then charge me a ransom for it.

   Now, you can. And it's so shiny ... must be why I found someone on eBay had sold one previously at the discount price of $53.

   And while we're on the subject of prior entires, Jenny McCarthy can now write another book -- Breakup Laughs. I should have been able to do better than that, but my effort has been a little poor and I'm willing to settle.

And I mean, I even like her a little bit as Playmates go. She seems genuinely entertaining, even beyond the whole hose body. Which if you don't understand, makes you a lot more focused at the local newsstand.

As Baseball Bucks Go, Ortiz, Jeter Not In Same Game
-- This week's Inside Baseball comes across the stunning revelation that Derek Jeter isn't worth $19.6 million. If only the numbers made more of a case for it, we might have gotten somewhere beyond where we got. Also, enjoy the sly allusions/shots at the merchandising industry.

   That's the royal "we," of course. A step below referring to "Inside Baseball" as though it were a person.

   • Today I received my credentials for the Buick Championship, an event which I'm sort of covering, but in which I could sort of cover and pillage for preview interviews a whole lot better if I go during the off days.

   Perhaps sensing this, the tournament organizers spelled my name wrong on my pass and gave me access to nothing beyond the media center tent.

   I often wonder what it would be like to work for a real newspaper. I used to wonder this in high school, only I figured by this point in my life, I'd have stopped wondering this.

   The best part of all this is I think I'm genuinely more miffed about being called "John Couture" than I am about not getting access to the practice area, where I could actually do my job and stuff. The passes were applied for breaking the cardinal rule of smaller newspapers -- whomever the more active person in covering the event will be should be the one to apply for passes.

   Ed, bless his heart, sent in our applications and thus listed his name first. Of course, he will now capitalize on his receiving as close as Whale City is getting for "all access" by ... probably not going at all. It's how this stuff works.

   This now ends this week's edition of "Inside Journalism." Should anyone be going down to the TPC and would like a free parking pass, I can probably set you up. Unless of course someone from the tournament shows up here, in which case I'm just wasting all those free parking vouchers you gave us in addition to the daily free media lot vouchers.

August 19, 2005 - Visiting
   Reaching For The Stars: While people are paying as little as $2.36 in Feeding Hills Center for gasoline:

Super Plus, Mobil, Georgetown

   Now, you might ask yourself why exactly I was spinning around the Massachusetts lump, traipsing around Newburyport walking into metal stools at the antiques barn. The answer would be quite simple, but because of that, let's just say I was looking for the famed John Cena Birthplace in West Newbury.

   Hey ... if Lawrence can advertise being the birthplace of both Leonard Bernstein and Robert Frost, everybody else can get into the act too. Especially if they're in the vicinity of a store that stocks a certain Scottish soda which apparently was mixed with whisky in an attempt to update Ipecac syrup for a new generation.

   OLNHL: In the grand pantheon of things that happened while I've been away from work -- and thus trying my best not to pay attention -- the NHL landing on the Outdoor Life Network. Never mind the fact that even Major League Lacrosse gets screen-time on the ESPN family of networks now, but so does the show about famous people's sneakers, ESPN Hollywood, the celebrity bowling show, the And 1 Mix Tape tour ... you get the idea.

"Over the years, thousands of great NHL moments were presented to our fans through the lenses of ESPN cameras," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. "ESPN was a supportive partner, and both the National Hockey League and ESPN enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship. We wish ESPN continued success."

   As Sly put it to me, nice that the league entering a TV coverage on what's at best an obscure cable network would wish continued success to perhaps the most successful channel in the history of the medium.

   Even if ESPN, thanks to the departing Mark Shapiro as I understand it, is doing their best MTV impression be deigning to show sports. In flipping channels the other day, I came across this, which is honest to goodness real. MTV's "Pimp My Trailer," complete with faux white trash decorators and poor people.

   And yet, they're far more successful than I'll ever be. Go figure.

   • NHL games streamed on the Internet.

   This will mean something someday, won't it?

August 18, 2005 - Assets Worth Hundreds
   Press Pins: If I haven't said it before, not only do I not understand the "sports collectibles" market, I can't stand it either.

   As some of you may know, members of the press often get some small trinkets when they cover a big event. For example, at the AFC Championship, I got lapel pins of each team's helmet, plus a free pen and a league logo -- the other stuff, including my seating placard and the press work room signs now sitting in my closet, were just because I'm a klepto with problems.

   At the World Series, it's a custom that each participating team produce a pin to commemorate their winning the pennant. It used to be these pins stood as press passes for the event, but with them now superceded, they're a tradition that lives on. I learned all this after receiving the Cardinals pin at Game 3 ... I should have learned it back in Boston, but when they were handing out these pins:

Red Sox Press Pin

   I was apparently in the bathroom, as I never got one.

   Fast forward to the last two days, when I've been watching parts of the Red Sox new absurd/awesome DVD collection and marveling at the disc cases, which actually include useful trivia and information -- box score on the back, play-by-play inside, etc. On the cover of the Bonus DVD, which I appear to be on no more than the regular World Series film one, are pictures of the pair of press pins ... one I have, one I want.

   Given my success with jerseys and the like, I make the assumption eBay will certainly have one available that I can buy on the relatively cheap and feel tremendous about doing so. Sure enough, there's one posted, with the auction ending soon.

   With a $99 opening bid.

   And the site I got the picture from? Yeah, they've got them for sale. Just $150, plus shipping and handling.

Nothing Tacky About The Value of Press Pins

If your definition of the "perfect" collectible is something that's very limited in nature and maintains a high value, then press pins are something you should consider adding to your collection. Press pins have been around for close to 90 years and for most of that time, the pins served as an ID badge for members of the media covering a major sporting event.

Since then, press pins have been produced for virtually every World Series and All-Star Game in baseball, as well as every Super Bowl. In addition, press pins are known to exist for some Stanley Cup, Finals, NBA Championships, Indy 500 races and Hall of Fame induction ceremonies.

One of the nation's leading press pin collectors and dealers is Daniel Lovegrove of Recollectics, located in Darien, Conn. Lovegrove says he was first introduced to press pins by a friend more than 20 years ago, and he's been hooked on them ever since.

"The only way you can get one is to be a media member or front office employee of the team," Lovegrove explained. "They only made between 2,000- 4,000 pins for the '96 World a Series. In the 1920s, they made only a few hundred for each team."

Because of the fashion in which press pins are distributed, only a few ever seem to make their way into the collector market. When they do, prices for the items reflect their scarci

   Now, the logical ending to all this is simple -- I simply find a collector big into these things, trade him the Cardinals pin that's been sitting in its box on my end table since I got it and get what I'm after at a relatively cheap price, as a straight-up 1-for-1 probably won't be enough. The aforementioned site has the Cards' pin at a relative steal price of $100.

   That, however, feels like a cop-out now. I was supposed to get both, and damnit, I want both because I deserve my free stuff. Despite the fact I will probably never do much of substance with this pin, it is now my new quest. And I'm ashamed to admit how close I came to considering paying the $99 to get it -- no one bid, because apparently, there is still sanity in the world.

   Though I'd have to guess the Mainer selling it paid that much for it, which makes me think maybe there is hope that when I fall on hard times, all those piles of Red Sox press passes will be enough to get me through the night.

   • The other day, The Bruce discussed what he felt was a waste of valuable airwaves -- Comedy Central's Roast of Pamela Anderson, which I would link to if I didn't think it would triple the amount of porn spam I get on e-mail.

Comedy Central showed a roast about which the less said, the better. At least three people at that event desperately need to be politely ignored forever. Shame especially on a particular ESPN columnist for using an entire piece to whore out publicity for that show.

   Friend, as someone who watched the midnight re-airing tonight, you are desperately selling this thing short. Pamela Anderson, Courtney Love, Tommy Lee, Dennis Rodman, Anna Nicole Smith, perhaps Andy Dick and Sarah Silverman ... let's not forget that this entire event happened because Comedy Central is desperate enough for ratings to pay PETA just to get Tits McGee to show up.

   This is a full scale "Send To A Deserted Island With Extreme Prejudice" situation.

   That said, the only reason I watched came through in spades. Jeffrey Ross, who shall heretofore need to be nighted as Sir Roast, walking on stage in a fur coat, saying it was made from Bea Arthur's back hair, that he wouldn't [blank] Bea Arthur's [blank] with Andy Dick's [female blank] ... it all suddenly paled when he informed Courtney that, essentially, "How is it you don't look any better than Kurt Cobain?"

   It made up for the fact that most of the rest was Comedy Central's Clearinghouse For Jokes About Tommy Lee's Elephant Penis and Comedy Central's Place For All Their Little-Known Comics To Sort of Be Relevant.

   Though it was nice to see ... well, it really wasn't nice to see anyone. It was post non-poker gambling, and that never ends well. Stupid Matt having a birthday that needed celebrating.

August 17, 2005 - Bringing The Wings
   Irony: After having not been in Western Mass. for about a month, I receive a phone call from a good friend while I'm on the Mass. Turnpike going west.

   He and another friend are going east, to Boston, for two days.

   Mr. Popularity, I am not. But on the plus side, I did get to hear Jerry Trupiano and Joe Castiglione openly pine to play themselves in the soon-coming movie adaptation of The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. Well, that and take shots at Don Orsillo regarding makeup and having his own trailer.

   And while I'd bother to link up to Don's NESN profile, the best description I've ever heard of him is as this famous autopilot.

   • Who would have thought that Ray Lewis would be the one to bring clarity to the table?

August 16, 2005 - Need Sausage
   Because You Probably Care:'s Greatest Sports Video Game contest. Though I'm not really sure why they settled on what they did, it's good to know people still realize hockey video games really did peak with those EA games of the early '90s. I've thought this for years.

   I've also thought the modern Madden games could use the cut-scene celebrations of Tecom Super Bowl when you win a division, conference title, etc., but they've never returned. Jerks.

   • Enjoy the glove.

August 15, 2005 - Makin' Copies
   The Paper Plays Along: Creeping ever closer to that magical number ...


Premium, Buttonwood Service Station, New Bedford

   Not that it mentions it by name anywhere in the story, but I can tell what's in the background and deduce from there. Perhaps when I go West next, I'll cut throught Connecticut where prices must already be at $3/gallon due to their stupid gas taxes.

   Course, those rich aristocrats and poker champions can also swing that. I'm sure most don't flinch when they're pouring $50 into their Hummers, since they seem to be OK with deodorant hitting $30.

Sosnick says upscale brands also may charge more because of the signature perfume that infuses the product, as well as the designer name. But the main reason high-end brands cost more than a tube of Ban is because they use better (and costlier) ingredients, he says.

"It's a higher-quality product," he says. "You're getting what you pay for."

   I bought Speed Stick at three for $5 about a month and a half ago, and have been cruising ever since ... though most of these other deodorants seem to operate at a frequency I can't hear, even if I am independently wealthy.

Lauder Beyond Paradise Men Deodorant Stick, $15: Masculine and exotic in one stick. This non-whitening deodorant glides on smoothly to provide all-day protection. Scent suggests mystery and sensuality.
-- Someone actually wrote that down. "Mystery and sensuality."

Michael Kors for Men Deodorant, $20: A solid stick that forms a skin shield against odor and wetness. Formulated with a subtle hint of the men's fragrance from the designer of elegant American sportswear.
-- Ooooh, a skin shield. In other words, it operates like a deodorant.

Jack Black Pit Boss Anti-Perspirant and Deodorant, $13: Vitamin E-enriched, this hypoallergenic and colorant-free solid stick fights wetness and odor. It goes on invisible and leaves no residue on clothes or skin. Lightly scented.
-- I know when I think of dryness, I think of this guy.

Acqua di Parma Iris Nobile Deodorant Spray, $27:
From the beautiful city of Parma, Italy, ...

-- I read that, and the least they could do is make it smell like cheese.

   And so on and so forth. Maybe this is why I live alone ... I don't see the value in these, nor that BOD body spray that they sell in Windex bottles with names like "Really Ripped Abs" and "Tekno" or these T-shirts. I've always had an odd sense that it's the guy who commits the crime, not the 'snitch,' who sends people to jail.

   Still Got The Touch: Please note the Red Sox blew a two-run lead in the ninth last night, losing to Detroit in Game 1 of the 20-game run where I said they'd cinch up the division title. I am nothing if not a gambler's best friend.

This Division Race Soon To Be Sealed
-- Well, maybe no one will read it and figure I mean they'll lose the division.

   • I never thought I would say this, but I must give credit where credit's due.

Race to the Bottom

In this photo provided by Polk Imaging, Hilary Duff performs during a taping of 'The Tonight Show' at NBC Studios in Burbank, Calif. on Monday. (AP Photo/Polk Imaging, Chris Polk)

In this photo released by Polk Imaging, Lindsay Lohan gets some tips from DJ Samantha Ronson, left, at the Teen People's Second Annual Young Hollywood Issue Party held at The Cabana Club in Los Angeles on Saturday. (AP Photo/Polk Imaging, Chris Polk)

   Hilary Duff just bolted ahead in the Race to the Bottom. I can see why a certain Hollywood starlet dislikes her so much ... given Duff was blonde Sunday on the Wires and looked like this on Monday, she figured out a way to compress months of blow into one 12-hour binge session.

   I mean, I would watch tonight to investigate, but I'm pretty sure my shower isn't big enough to wash off that much shame.

August 14, 2005 - Loser's Lottery
   Today's Shining Moment In Animal Activism: It's never the idea so much as it is the phrasing.

USC has no plans to drop Gamecocks as its mascot, despite renewed pleas from the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

PETA sent a letter to NCAA president Myles Brand on Wednesday, asking that USC and Jacksonville (Ala.) State stop using Gamecocks, according to USA Today.

Gamecocks "are named after the birds used in cockfighting, a hideous 'blood sport' that, like spousal abuse, bank robbery and driving while intoxicated, is illegal in South Carolina and Alabama," PETA said in its letter to the NCAA, a copy of which was given to USA Today.

   South Carolina and Alabama being, of course, where PETA has its strongest influence. If you ask me, there are clearly better places where they should be spending their time. Such as ...

   Further Evidence: One show being advertised as "the newest hit on E!" or some such crap has advanced my belief that America truly has run out of ideas. Or that society needs to be liquidated a la the plan in "Batman Begins" ... whichever one works better.

Filthy Rich Cattle Drive
-- "Filthy Rich Cattle Drive"

   From what I can gather, the premise is taking a bunch of rich children that include one of George Foreman's sons, Bruce Jenner's stepdaughter, one of the Gastineau Girls and Pat Benetar's daughter, putting them on a ranch and just letting things happen. Things like, say:

The adventure begins. The group, after arriving via private jet, is escorted to a pair of pickup trucks. After being divided into a Red Team and a Black Team, the gang engages in hot-rock massages, horse wrangling and cow-rectum checking.
Don't miss this one!

   I'll be sure not to.

   Right after I'm done hoping this is what pushes the creator to fire off another plague and "start over."

Another Stern Reminder Of Fate's Surprises
-- Because this game never happened, there should be no quality threshhold I have to meet, right? I am essentially writing about things that don't exist.

   • Remember what I said about yesterday? Well, today was more direct. I drove for an hour to watch three innings of baseball that never happened, was yelled at by a high schooler for correctly identifying that my office's dinner order was sitting done on the oven, worked a 15-hour day when I'll get paid for maybe 10 and finished it off by being dressed down by someone because he incorrectly did his job.

   And on top of that, the person I decided to lash out at in a momentary loss of composure was someone who had nothing to do with any of these things.

   But on the plus side, there'll be golf to watch on Monday. And I didn't crash my car into anything. And I got to eat ice cream at Fenway again.

   Reaching, but effective reaching. I am nothing if not someone who will attempt to gloss it all over.

August 13, 2005 - Runs On Pure Rageahol
   E-11: You know you've reached a special point in your life when you crack open a bottle of soda you just bought at the gas station, take a sip and immediately say to yourself: "Ugh! This isn't Coke Zero. This is Diet Coke!"

   The chips, mercifully, were fine. And I'd just been thinking about how ironic it was that, given sugar content and all, Coke Zero is healthier than Gatorade.

   Speaking Of Gas ...: In honor of the fact gas prices in Massachusetts really did go up 10 cents when I wasn't looking, I will notw be tracking the inevitablt trudge up to the first $3.00/gallon gas I've ever seen in the Bay State. As of right now, the leader in the clubhouse?

Premium, Buttonwood Service Station, New Bedford

   The next step will be the first time I actually pay $3.00 for gas somewhere, which I didn't even do in California -- the pioneer of putting the words "ARM" and "LEG" on the price boards.

Delcarmen Among League's Young Guns
-- This week's Inside Baseball actually talks to another human being and quotes him. However, I've not yet reached the point where I refer to Inside Baseball as a person/thing yet, as is done with my friend Mick's 'Rink Rap' column. You know, "Is this true? Inside Baseball thinks so."

Sox Bats Make Chicago Aces Look Like Jokers
-- Now, delightful as this piece is, it would have been a lot better if I had not sat where I sat in the press box. Choosing the seat where I sat put me next to the press-box favorite: the Web columnist who not only smells, but who enjoys talking and doesn't seem to fathom the guy he's talking to is on deadline.

   • It doesn't serve as much solace, but I found myself so angry about the events that added up to a bad night tonight, it never really occurred to me until right now that none of them are in any way my fault. In other words, despite the fact that people I care about did absolutely, cripplingly stupid things that drove me into a very wild frenzy within, I didn't do anything wrong in the slightest. Went to the game, wrote two stories, played journalist like a pro and went home. Helped out a fellow writer who has been a big help to me this year ... I even bought someone lunch and left a good tip in the process. Didn't even lose any money playing poker. A good day.

   So why doesn't that make me feel any better?

   Because I sat next to the smelly, talky guy on a 95-degree day in the press box. That's not it, but let's leave it at that.

   I'm just glad I didn't tell him my name. All I need is him portraying me as somehow mean because I failed to point out that he smelled like the inside of a gym bag and doesn't understand the hint of "frenetic typing and earbud headphones playing tape recording means Cooch is busy." One of these days, I'm actually going to start acting the like the jerkoff that I seem to write like I am.

August 12, 2005 - Soreness Aside, Seals Are Cute
   Red Sox 9, White Sox 8: In watching Boston go down 4-0 on a modified Etch-A-Sketch television, tie it at five while shoveling fried clams into my maw and get the final strikeout on the radio, it occurred to me that I simply don't think any of the other three American League playoff teams -- Los Anaheim, Oakland and Chicago, in all likelihood -- have what it takes to stop another pennant.

   Course, we've seen what happen when I express these feeling before, so I didn't just say anything. Even if Oakland has historically been unable to sustain their late-season runs into October, Chicago can't score runs with much regularity and the Angels have a great bullpen that they probably can't get to with a lead.

   But yeah ... not even here.

   Patriots 23, Bengals 13: The hot story in New England, if you're reading this from elsewhere, is that Tom Brady's having arm problems. He didn't throw much at all after Monday, he had a compression wrap on his shoulder and he sat out this meaningless game in favor of Rohan "I'm no Michael Bishop" Davey and Matt "Very soon, I will be Michael Bishop" Cassel.

   As I can't tell whether my decreased interest in football is because of the higher baseball immersion or because it's August friggin' 12th, I have nothing to add to this. Just passing along the story and perhaps ramping up the panic of people who have no idea what they're talking about, but who will dig out their No. 12 jerseys on some Casual Friday around the playoffs in January.

   • Now, I could talk about Phil Mickelson is four shots clear of the field at the PGA Championship, leaving him poised either to win the second major of his career or complete one of his spectacular collapses ... spectacular, even for him.

   I could mention how nice it was to see many of the members of the old BU College Bowl crew, along with the aforementioned piles of fried seafood and mocking of my "sportswriter's shirt" -- imagine this in red.

   The day I take the next step and start wearing Tommy Bahama ... well, consult your copy of "Old Yeller" for the proper reaction. And no, sarcasm is not included.

   Instead of those things, however, I reach out to the public. Not the public I passed on the boardwalk by the Children's Museum tonight, where a man was signing words to a friend who was speaking French, but to the Internet public. This is currently the most e-mailed photo in all the world of cyberspace. This is the pinnacle of what the World Wide Web can offer us.

Buffalo in the Road
-- A buffalo in the road.

In this photo released by Harley-Davidson, a buffalo stops motorcycle traffic on a road in Custer State Park, S.D., on Aug. 10, 2005. Hundreds of thousands of motorcyclists have gathered for the 65th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. (AP Photo/Harley-Davidson, Henny Ray Abrams)

   Narrowly beating out, of course, Pam Anderson touching herself.

August 11, 2005 - Errand Boy
   Truck Talk: As the world's four-wheeler cargo carriers are little more than a billboard of personal preference, I pulled up behind a truck that featured the following written on its back window:

If you drive a Ford ...
Sell It!
If you drive a Chevy ...
Trash It!
If you drive a Dodge ...
Ram 'Em!

   Now, branding aside, wouldn't "Floor It!" have worked a little better? Stays more consistent. I understand the usage of Ram isn't accidental, but the break in the rhythm is just jarring ... like a poem that suddenly becomes free verse out of a sonnet.

   I mean, it's not like they couldn't have included a drawing of the Ram logo peeing on the other two brand names just to balance it out.

   Almost As Bad: Later Thursday, an elderly woman walked in front of my car wearing a new, white trucker hat. The message?

10 Years

   Something tells me bad things had to happen for that hat to end up on her head. Like a lot of long days at the downtown cigar shop / convenience store.

   Encapsuling A Life: Sometimes, in one sentence or a series of sentence, we can learn a lot about a person. Take, for example, this Times story on New York city trying to crack down on trans fats. You know, the group of garbage that, as the story puts it correctly, is "America's most dangerous fat" and "should not be part of any healthy diet."

The city was careful to solicit the endorsement of the Restaurant Association before announcing its campaign, as well as the American Heart Association. However, many restaurant owners, workers and patrons interviewed yesterday greeted the city's campaign with some skepticism.

The reaction of Karen Quam, a waitress at the Bridgeview Diner in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, was typical. "Labeling is as far as you want to go," she said.
"You don't want to be telling people what to eat."

   Of course not. People should instead just be allowed to suck down car batteries, carcinogens, cadmium and okra ... just whatever they want willy nilly because that's what is cheapest for each food distributor. Shame on Gotham for trying to make anybody not die faster.

   I understand her point, but I'm pretty sure that's why said woman is a waitress at a diner in Brooklyn and not, say, smashing atoms on Long Island like some people.

   • Today, I was graciously invited to play in a pickup softball game with a few guys from work and their friends. This marked the first time in probably five years that my baseball glove had a job to do other than sit in my closet being clean.

   I am happy to report that not only is my body still entirely intact, if I'm trying harder than almost everyone else on the field, you could trick yourself into thinking I'm still moderately athletic. Though that is because, playing my traditional position of center field, I touched the ball maybe three times all seven innings.

   I am now available for parties.

August 10, 2005 - Open And Gross Free Time
   It Must Be The Course: I had said before playing today that I owed this course a couple shots after firing a 97 there in my final round a year ago. Well, I was sort of right.

   I owed it one shot.

• CC of New Bedford - North Dartmouth, Mass. •
PAR 70
96, 26 OVER PAR
6116 YARDS
Birdies: 0 - Pars: 1 - Bogeys: 11 - Others: 6
Fairways Hit: 1 of 15 - Greens In Regulation: 4 of 18 - Putts: 37

   Playing one of the better women's twosomes at the club in a match (as sort of a preview to the club's upcoming women's fourball), Ed and I got beat 4-and-3. If you know what that means, that really seemed like not too terrible considering how good they were versus how bad I was.

   During play, the score seemed a lot higher than I deserved. But upon seeing I made one par and three-putted four greens, it seems a lot more believable. And probably not worth a whole lot more discussion. Much like the topic of tonight's column from Fenway.

Rogers' Sideshow Can't Slow Down Sox
-- Not going to lie ... I did not want to write about this, I wanted to write about Bronson Arroyo. But apparently, because people vehemently booed Kenny Rogers, that's what people want to read about. Just wish I would have thought about that before the game, so I could have collected stuff.

   Today was one of those days that I would have a lot to complain about if I thought anyone would care I had a tough day waking up, playing golf on a private course, rushing back to the apartment, cleaning up and going to the Red Sox game for the 33rd time this season. Fortunately, I've smartened up enough to appreciate humility.

   Plus, I know I have a couple of nice notes sitting in the work e-mail about Tuesday's youth baseball column. That always eases the ego bruising.

   • Though even the e-mail wasn't all that friendly today. The NE Associated Press awards have been given out, and my collection of three columns on the Red Sox playoff run -- World Series piece, Game 7 against New York and maybe Game 5 -- won ... absolutely nothing. I have no idea what beat me out, but I'm sure they're lovely, lovely articles that someone who knew what they're doing did.

   I have to admit that of all the contests I've ever entered, even the won where I finished third, I was never as confident as I was for this one. I really thought I had something here, because the writing I did last October is absolutely as good as I think I can be. Sometimes, I look back at those articles and wonder how the hell I wrote them given deadlines and everything else. It was me at my best.

   And people in the business didn't think it was good enough.

   I'll get over it, but this one hurts a little bit. The timing that I now need to get a new contest entry in yesterday is a little ironic, but even this could be worse.

   On his 21st birthday, the case my brother had to hear as a member of a jury was an "open and gross lewdness" case regarding a man who was naked but for a pair of socks in the dressing room of a Springfield Goodwill store.

   As Matt put it to me, it'll be a long time before the memory of the words "flaccid penis" are rinsed from his memory banks.

   And there's always poker. The cards have been mighty nice this month ... so much so, the dream of finally recouping the many millions I lost foolishly betting on sports in college is slightly less of a dream now. And plus, I still get to enjoy receiving the mass mailings from sportsbooks such as this one. "AS SEEN ON TV" or not, it's good to know there will be always be proofreading jobs out there so long as companies operating on the fringes of legality in foreign countries are around.

   And I appreciated the poker tip from the mustachioed seven-year veteran Rickey P. of USA

know when too play with your nuts!
and never be the short stack

   Remember that, newbies. Always play hard when you have the absolute best hand, and never lose money and be stuck with the lowest number of chips. Also never forget the irony of the letters [sic].

August 9, 2005 - Sox Games And Poker Forever
   'B' Prepared: If you're scoring at home, that's 4:13 of whatever exactly you would call a game that would not end. It's always nice when you send in your notebook early at the request of your editors, and then have to call in like five times to update everything you wrote due to game events.

   And people sometimes look shocked when I tell them I don't always look at them in print.

Pitching Carousel Goes Round And Round
-- You want to talk about white knuckling it ... they made a stockpile of moves on the day BEFORE Kenny Rogers comes back. Makes me glad I don't lug around a TV camera ... at least if he comes after me, I can run.

   This was also the game where I failed to get our news department's copy intern tickets. So of course, who do I see at the game other than one of our former sports department correspondents. Just making sure the Whale City quota is met for the evening.

   • Wednesday is young Matty Cooch's 21st birthday, a day he has been looking forward to for many a year.

Embarrasing childhood picture!
-- He was three. I was not balding.

   So of course, he will spend it like all of us dream of spending our 21st birthdays.

   On a jury he was selected for Tuesday afternoon.

   Congratulations, my friend. They frown on booze in the courthouse, but just know I won't hold it against you.

   I mean, really. If I can forgive Mike Remlinger:

26 pitches, 4 batters, 2 H, 4 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 0 outs

   everyone gets a free pass.

August 8, 2005 - Lots O' Links

It's Kids Night Out -- Thankfully
-- It's a rare local column ... spun off one of my other local columns. Feel free to read these for background.

   Just a terrible story all around, but handled about as well as anyone could ever expect. Plus, I got to pass on the chance to pull a "Mitch Albom" by writing about the playing of youth baseball games without actually getting in my car and making sure they got played.

   These are the advantages of not being on 17 media outlets a day.

   • I'm not sure if it's in the dictionary, but this is pretty much the definition of "Waaaah." Google getting uppity because someone Googled them.

   I'd be proud if I were them ... their search engine has the ability to destroy entire identities with a single search. Reporters barely even have to do any legwork anymore ... they just have to wade through a handful of pages, and they've already got background information to write their stories and interview their sources.

   I've long wondered how the world's how the world's other Jon Couture's feel about me hogging the spotlight.

   Course, I also just re-upped the site hosting for another year ... if you guys are out there, free e-mail addresses provided you don't blow up anything. As as for designer Anand Jon, whose "Anand Jon Couture" is flooding the listing below me ... that rock music on your site just makes me think fashion. I wish it played as I walked the streets.

August 7, 2005 - Death And Life
   Peter Jennings: And now, they're all gone. Brokaw, Rather and Jennings, taking with them the true value of the 6:30 p.m. network news.

   It's a relic, and the people who take over for them know they're steering relics. Jennings was probably the least legendary of the Big Three, and yet, he might have been the best one of all of them.

   Everyone will soldier on, but it's not too hard to see what people in this cable-based world really care about.


   Competitive eating and what a leading athiest thinks. Though really, I can see why.

History was made in Wisconsin at the Johnsonville Brat eating contest when Sonya Thomas downed 35 of the favorites in Wisconsin.

Joey Chestnut of San Jose followed closed behind with a convincing 34 and 1/2 and Richard LeFevre impressed with 30.

IFOCE host George Shea said the close contest was the most emotional thing he'd experienced since the birth of his firstborn, a son.

   I know I couldn't agree more.

Gluttony is love.
-- Gluttony is love.

Sonya Thomas of Alexandia, Va., winces as she eats a bratwurst at a brat eating contest Saturday in Sheboygan, Wis. Thomas ate 35 brats to win the contest. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

   • I will never become rich. But in the alternate universe where I one day do, I would really like to do something like this -- basically tell a city I'm building something tremendous, and then just do it.

The Georgia Aquarium, as it will be called, is scheduled to open in November. It will have five million gallons of water and more than 100,000 fish. It will have giant groupers, octopuses and two white beluga whales. The star attraction will be two whale sharks, the world's biggest fish, which can exceed 40 feet in length and, Mr. Marcus said, will be on display for the first time outside of Asia. The aquarium will even have a celebrity caterer, Wolfgang Puck.

Aquariums have done so well for other cities that they have become a municipal status symbol - one that Atlanta is somewhat late to acquire. Of the 36 aquariums in the United States accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, nearly half have opened in the past 15 years, including those in Las Vegas, Dallas and Chattanooga, Tenn.

But few have had the advantage offered by Mr. Marcus: an aquarium built entirely with private money, opening with no debt. After a year, Mr. Marcus said, it will be turned over to a nonprofit organization. Presumably he will still be allowed to feed buckets of krill to the adolescent whale sharks, Ralph and Norton, who are now 13 and 16 feet long.

Few people have criticized the gift, but there have been some complaints related to Mr. Marcus's control of the project. The parking garage is architecturally insensitive to the streetscape, some have said, or Mr. Marcus is too secretive, or too demanding of the city.

   Yes. When a billionaire shows up and decides to build you a world-class aquarium, you should always complain about how the parking garage is architecturally insensitive to the streetscape. I swear that there are people out there who sit around just trying to think of this stuff. And what do they need to loosen themselves up?

   Madeira wire from the now-completed Feast of the Blessed Sacrament. You know booze is good when you're hearing stories all around you from people who drank too much of it and missed important ensuing events in their lives. And you don't know these people ... the stories just fly around Whale City the way this story became the lead to just about every TV newscast this weekend.

   Of course, FOX 25 had it last, but they were sure to be all over the story of Britney Spears and the shooting of some papparazzi member who was trying to get a photo.

   It's not like he needs to strain himself ... she's going to be fat forever.

August 6, 2005 - Everybody Loves Dune Buggies
   Adventures In The Bookstore: Not only has Jenny McCarthy written two books, she's written two books about motherhood.

   Because, you know, when I think about motherhood ...

Though as a warning we were always told that getting pregnant was an easy thing to do, most of you know that trying to get pregnant can be a grind -- not always nearly as easy as they told you back in sex ed. Still, you did the nasty and got the job done. Congratulations and welcome to the club! You're finally going to get the opportunity to fully utilize your uterus and get to know your vagina in ways that you've never imagined.
-- Introduction, 'So You Got Knocked Up? (Getting Pregnant)'

   If there's anything I've long said the expectant mother market needs, it's more books about how hard it is to get pregnant, and how if men had to do it, no one would be born ever. Though I will give her credit for her honesty ...

If you bought this book, you are already aware of my frankness when it comes to certain things -- anatomy and bodily functions among them. If someone gave this book to you as a gift and you've never heard of me, apologies to you!

   The only way that could have been better is if was followed by one of her Playboy shots. But you don't have to take my word for it!

   [ Insert "Reading Rainbow" sound here. ]

   Pretty Weak For A Freakout: Given my affinity for politics, it should be no surprise it took me a few days to care enough about Robert Novak to go find the video of him flipping out on "Inside Politics".

   Now, as for the reasons of his walkoff, you know as well I do I have barely a basic idea -- not only did I not read the Victoria Plame/CIA story, I barely even feel bad that I don't care. What I know, however, is flipping out over something insignificant.

   And Robert Novak is pretty friggin' bad at it.

   Seriously, go watch it here. Statement gets made, and he doesn't shout down James Carville ... he pretty much waits for him to finish, and then goes "Wel ... well, I think that bull shit. I hate that. [pause] Just let it go." Two second pause, stand up, remove mic, walk off in barely a huff.

   It's called "take your mic box and throw it through the flat-screen TV," Bob. It's called "Shut the f--k up Carville, you God damned alien baby. Loved you in 'Old School' ... I'm sure those beady eyes got you loads of tail." This crap isn't hard. If you're going to overreact and/or stage a flipout, put a little effort into it. Make me believe you're not just trying to look all tough for whomever it benefits you to look tough for, you withered old sack.

   I just can't stand shoddy craftsmanship is all.

Now It's The Rotation That Might Need Schilling
-- This week's Inside Baseball marks the grand return of The Stat, and seemed a lot better to me until I went into the office and the new boss started talking about the topic. Whatever that means. I'm not even sure.

   • There are always going to be plenty of reason to dislike New York City, but this is not one of them.

On a recent evening, Police, who at 89 wears an oxygen tube for his emphysema, was holding court with two old buddies. ''I'm just an old guy headed for the bone yard," he said, half jokingly. But his spirits rose when Lowe walked over.

''Hey Vinnie!" Lowe said.

''Hi ya Chad!"' Police said, beaming, before inquiring about his neighbor's wife, Swank. ''What's Hil doing?"

   Normal people and celebrities, living hand-in-hand thanks to rent control and other programs. If I cared about politics, the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" would start playing behind me and I would climb atop an actual soapbox.

   Except it doesn't, and if I don't go to bed now, I can't become the next in my circle of friends to decide I'm going to quit my job and become a poker player full-time.

   Hey, one was an isolated incident. Two now makes a trend. If my brother starts texting me messages saying, 'Drive to Foxwoods right now,' I'm officially getting the water supply checked. I mean, really ... you make $5,000 in a couple of weeks, and all of a sudden you're swapping whatever with Noted TREMENDOUS POSEUR Antonio Esfandiari.

   It's been weeks since someone showed me his little "Rocks & Rings" club, and I still can't get over it. It makes "The Loop" look like a Parisian salon, for goodness sake.

August 5, 2005 - Not Geeked Out, Lots Of Places To Go
   Twins 12, Red Sox 0: Just like I said ... the team is coming together and they've never looked better.

   And I get paid to write about baseball.

Subject: Quibble
Date: Thu, 4 Aug 2005
From: <>
To: jcouture at s-t dot com

   Hi Jon,

   I thoroughly enjoy reading your work, yet I must take issue with your phraseology in this morning's story on Clement. To wit:

   "In a world where the first-place Red Sox have survived without Curt Schilling the starter and Keith Foulke the closer for more than half the campaign, the loss of Clement could have easily proven a death knell."

   Though the impropriety of the metaphor is clearly unintentional, it nevertheless seemed like an inopportune time to view games through the prism of life and death given the reality of near tragedy.

   Regardless, it was a pleasure to read your recent work from Fenway. I hope that you will have more occasion to cover the Sox soon.

   Best wishes.

   I'm a little surprised that never for a moment occurred to me ... usually I'm a lot better about catching myself before I write stuff like that. Or maybe I'm not, and cliche is the only thing keeping from writing columns by slamming my head against my laptop, with "Num Lock" and "Insert" keys flying everywhere.

   Remind me to do that right before I sell the laptop on eBay.

   King of Pop Culture: I'm going to refrain from calling out Bill "King of Pop Culture" Simmons for not seeing "Anchorman" until a few weeks ago. However, when he does his "tie everything to quotes column" like he did here with the NBA, is it just me or does it make the whole movie seem less funny?

The biggest argument with "Anchorman": What's the single-funniest scene? Some of my friends swear by the erection scene, capped off by Burgundy screaming, "Don't act like you're not impressed!" I'm partial to Brian Fantana's breaking out Sex Panther, then getting hosed down outside the network building like he's Meryl Streep in "Silkwood." Others enjoy the Jack Black cameo. Others swear by the phone booth scene. There's a really a plethora of choices. It's a cornucopia. A bevy. A potpourri.

   That doesn't help. If you don't see the runaway humor in the brawl scene featuring cameos by Tim Robbins and Ben Stiller, plus the chopping of arms and the killing of a man with a trident, then I can't help you. Medicine can't help you, and your own overserious nature can't help you.

   In a similar note, I willing switched to ESPN2 this afternoon and watched upwards of seven seconds of "Quite Frankly" with Stephen A. Smith. Before I switched off, I was able to confirm that the show is not actually like the Ark of the Covenant ... your face will not melt instantly at the site of it. Ironically enough, Stephen A. was actually speaking quietly, introducing guest Ernie Banks.

   That's almost as shocking as this, but that's a rant for another day.

   • Given I'm taking someone to task for not seeing a good film until months after its release, rain down your indignance that it took me this long to make a matinee performance of Batman Begins.

   Now, as someone who hasn't been all geeked out in anticipation for anything that normally gets the geek treatment, I couldn't consciously "see things coming" the way Julie could. Despite the fact anyone who would be freaked out about "spoilers" wouldn't be in this case, let's just leave it at she was nudging my arms when certain people came on the screen, making connections that I wouldn't have made until hours later.

   Because of that, I enjoyed the movie a hell of a lot more. It became not simply a good film on its own merit, but an outstanding one at making the subtle allusions to the future of the series. The kind of thing where I know if I watched it again with someone who was a total Batman nerd, I'd find out 20 more things that I didn't see the first time through.

   You know you're watching of a film has been a long time coming when all the previews are for movies that have already been released -- Fantastic Four, The Island, etc. Though until this afternoon, I still had no idea what the hell the second of those movies was, and I'm still not sure why the Team Rocket 'R' from Pokemon was falling off a building.

   But I'm not a geek or anything. Honest to God.

   The more I sit here and think about it, the more I actually think I enjoyed it. Julie felt like Katie Holmes brought absolutely nothing to the table, but I honestly didn't notice. She had a very simple role to play given she wasn't the "damsel in distress" but for one small portion of the film ... it was her job to stand on the hill at the end with her nipples poking against a silk blouse. That was it. She did it. End of story.

   Everything else was cool enough and well connected enough to gloss over anything that may have seen outlandish. Much as I enjoyed Batman Forever, seeing this made me understand why some people think that movie stunk.

   And really, this all led into an evening where I finally attended New Bedford's crowning glory, The Feast of the Blessed Sacrament, for the first time. That, however, I need another day to absorb. Trying to write it now wouldn't give it the proper due. Though I will say this ... on 2004 New Years, no matter how good or bad the Madeira wine I bought and drank was, they serve it here mainly in 3 oz. shooters.

   There's a reason for that.

August 4, 2005 - Army Of Gun
   Even More Pathetic Than Mine: I'm not sure I can do proper justice to Things My Girlfriend And I Have Argued About, nor am I sure whether it's a dedication to an insanely strong relationship or a testament to "man-as-wussy."

   I mean, really. It's called a breakup. Perhaps look into it.

Through All The Ugliness, Everything Is Beautiful
-- No notebook, so some of the more pertinent items are rolled into here. Not my best stuff, but well, I wasn't exactly given a whole lot to work with.

   And because this story really can't be relayed well in the newspaper, David Ortiz prematurely ended Terry Francona's pregame press conference by taking a dump in the manager's office.

   (Hey, it's true. Though he used the toilet, after striding in wearing his new navy blue Red Sox robe with name and number on the back. But those details aren't how you brew up a false controversy.)

   • I have nothing else to add. Spending all day at the ballpark will do that sometimes.

   Though it was good to find out there's somewhere in close proximity where I can go fire some machine guns.

Whether it's to rent a firearm from our huge inventory of pistols, revolvers, rifles, shotguns and machineguns, or peruse our large selection of new and consigned firearms, our friendly and knowledgeable staff will be there to help you get the most out of your experience.

   Perhaps the best ambient commercial ever, especially since it was on during the Howard Stern Show. And yes, I do find it funny that the shooting range is on Gay Street. You can't make that stuff up.

   Well, you wouldn't make that stuff up.

August 3, 2005 - Still Won't Eat Their Paninis
   Merci Beaucoup: I only know "un peu de Francais" anymore, but since I heard someone on the streets of Boston speaking it yesterday and actually picked up what they were saying, I'm running with it.

   Thank you to all who donated, and even those who only stopped to consider it for a moment. You're all scored me a pile of boyfriend points, which are something I'll need the next time I decide I need to write a column when I'm supposed to be going to a family party.

   Rip Job Revisited: For the amount of crap I have doled out about this Web site that would love you to not think it has anything to do with our paper, I do have to give them credit for this linguica-flavored version of "Rock The Vote."

   If nothing else, its prevalence will probably shame me into registering to vote in Whale City. Even if I do still care more about the political issues in Agawam for some reason ... I just laugh every time the city tries to stop commercial development under the guise of "keeping that small town flavor." Until I saw the Dunkin' Donuts stuffed into a glorified gazebo on Onset Green in Wareham, the oven-less one shoehorned into Anne Sullivan's house in Feeding Hills center was one of the goofiest businesses I have ever seen.

   They truck them food from the Dunkin' Donuts across town on Main Street. Seriously. The running joke is the statue of Sullivan teaching Helen Keller across the intersection has her back to the road so she doesn't have to see her house dolled up in gray and magenta.

   His Words Say It All: Royals manager Buddy Bell, on his team's latest loss:

It was bad. we didn't play very good at any phase -- offensively, defensively, pitching. Everything. Bad approach offensively, bad approach defensively. Just not very good.

   Other than that, it was fine.

'It's Time To Pitch Again' For Clement
-- Some semblance of a notebook ... or at least it was when I sent it in. Knowing the length of it, I honestly don't want to look at what it looked like in the newspaper. If I get no complaint letters for errors I didn't make, I'll call it a winning night.

   • I just want this saved for posterity, because you never know when things might turn around and not be this magical.

MLB Standings At End of Play Aug. 3

   Please note the 18 other teams -- including the fourth-place Brewers and last-place Mets -- who could be leading the NL West over the San Diego Padres.

   Maybe it's good their jersey has ugly piping on it ... I'd almost be too ashamed to wear it.

August 2, 2005 - Slightly Too Serious, Still
   Release The Billfolds: Now, there are numerous reasons I have never held a "pledge drive" regarding this site. Making money, or even recouping my costs, was never the point. I don't like the idea of feeling guilty about weak updates on days when I can't write much. But mainly, I'm not even sure that if asked, I'd pay for this crap.

   However, I still think I've become your best source for grammatical trainwrecks, humorous AP Wire photography, the occasional interesting sports article and the increasingly infrequent TMI internal monologue. For this I have asked for nothing more than your comments ... and perhaps a beer if we ever meet in real life.

   Until now. Consider this the official charity of Cooch's World, though that will last only until I can get a federal designation for monies collected to clean seagull crap off my car.

Walk F.A.R. For NAAR is the signature fundraising event of the National Alliance for Autism Research and is the nation's largest Walk program dedicated to autism research. Since its inception in May 2000 approximately 171,000 people have participated in Walk F.A.R. For NAAR and collectively 65 events have raised over $18.3 million for autism research.

   Aside from the fact this remains the funniest name for any charitable walk I've ever heard of, Dan Marino is involved on a national scale. You know, the same Dan Marino who just had his "touchdown passes in a season" record eclipsed. The same Dan Marino who was reduced to comedic foil and seeing Einhorn's dong in "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective." The same Dan Marino who never won a Super Bowl.

   Help autistic children. But at the same time, help Dan Marino fill the hole inside.

   And help Julie, who might be making a case to become the only person alive today with a worse "camera smile" than I have. Should you need more motivation than that, consider what happens if you don't donate.

Tall Woman!
-- You would have had to go to Yahoo! for this photo.

The New York Liberty's Becky Hammon, in front, guards the Connecticut Sun's 7-foot-two-inch center Margo Dydek, of Poland, during the second half of their WNBA game at Madison Square Garden in New York on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

   If you're really good, I'll see if I can find the only thing better than this -- Margo Dydek wearing women's formalwear. I can't even fathom it.

   • Were the story not so gruesome, the headline "N.J. Teenagers Charged in the Dismemberment of the Girl Next Door" would bypass the five-year waiting period and immediately be inducted into the headline Hall of Fame. It's even better than the rumored headline used by The Trentonian to describe a fire at an area mental hospital.

   Logically, "Roasted Nuts."

   What's more entertaining than that? Possible, the following descriptions of Liz Phair.

Tiny, with a bustier framed by an overlay of white blouse and a skirt that demonstrates motherhood has not changed her penchant for showing some casual leg, Ms. Phair would be hard to mistake for someone else. Her do-me feminism and frank sexual lyrics may be part of what put the mostly-male rock criticism community in a tizzy to begin with.

   In at least a similar vein, am I the only one who not notices the similarities between Liz Phair and Sheryl Crow, but finds the first somewhat attractive but the second generally unappealing.

   Since Sly is the only one who will comment on this, the answer, of course, is "yes." I just find it so funny that the male sports press got in such a tizzy during every Tour de France she was at ... does desperation make the heart grow fonder?

   Though it reminds me of another great line I read recently, basically saying something stirred up as much of a froth as when "a woman wears a skirt in the press box." Now that's reality television.

August 1, 2005 - Fore Times 24, Plus One
   Palmeiro: Nothing like coming off a full day on the golf course to find a message from your boss saying, "I'm sure you've heard about the scuttlebutt on Rafael Palmeiro" and having no idea what he's talking about.

Palmeiro Needs To Tell The Truth
-- So cosmically, there was a reason I didn't finish my Monday column on Sunday night. Here I thought it had been just because I was tired of writing for one day.

   The Heart of the Matter: If someone would like to read these stories and give me one good why I should even wonder how the first episode of Stephen A. Smith's "Quite Frankly" went, I'd appreciate it. With how little TV I'd watch, I'd only like to include this show if it features comedic and absurd premise, like when halfway through the early episodes of "Cold Pizza," the hosts would grab towels and walk off the set while being interviewed by 'sideline reporters.'

In Mr. Smith, who is 37 and continues to write a twice-weekly column (sometimes on his BlackBerry from an ESPN studio) for The Philadelphia Inquirer, ESPN believes it has a franchise. "Stephen A. is ringing a bell," said Mark Shapiro, an executive vice president of ESPN. "People like him and dislike him, but they still watch him. These days, it's hard to find a talent who strikes a chord that way. Polarization is a commodity." He added: "We're in the hit-making business. And Stephen A. is a game-changer."

   I know I always do my best work when writing on a GameBoy while doing something else. But the more pressing thing, for me, is Shapiro's assertion that people who dislike Stephen A. still watch Stephen A.

   And I really the only person in the world who decides he doesn't like things, and then takes those things out of my life? Like, if a writer consistently proves to be annoying and write stupid, is it really that foreign an idea to just stop reading said writer?

   Fortunately, I was not put in said writer's group today at the TPC. Let's just say there would have been a lot of teeth gritted ... for once, it was nice to write for an insignificant media outlet.


   • I have a new favorite course. Not that I'll ever get to play it any more than once a year, but despite it being in bad shape and my being terrible, it was awesome as The Chris Farley Show.

• TPC of Boston - Norton, Mass. •
PAR 72
97, 25 OVER PAR
6789 YARDS
Birdies: 0 - Pars: 5 - Bogeys: 6 - Others: 7
Fairways Hit: 5 of 14 - Greens In Regulation: 4 of 18 - Putts: 35

   Playing to a 19 handicap according to the Media Day staff -- I had told them I was a 16, which is probably right -- I shot a net 78. Hardly stellar, but probably accurate. I feel like I played better than this, but the holes where I got into trouble, I really got into trouble.

   By far the hardest course I've played since I was in Scotland, the blue tees wouldn't have been my choice, but I held my own. The round started at No. 8, and while I'd originally planned on doing a shot-for-shot review, the highlights are easier to remember. (Reference!)

   -- I hit the two greatest bunker shots of my life today. The first was my third shot on No. 9, where the ball was resting up on the lip about a foot above me feet to a pin across the green. Flew it out to about 15 feet and made the putt to open par-par. Yeah, that didn't last.

   On No. 4 near the end, a 9-iron approach barely failed to clear a greenside bunker with a tremendous lip ... at least two feet up. When my ball barely rolled into the sand, I opened up a lob wedge and somehow flew it out to the back pin placement about eight feet. Missed the putt for a bogey, but the shot still would have made one of those tremendous photos where I'm in the bunker and there's sand flying everywhere in front of me.

   It's easy to play bunkers when you're not afraid of swinging and hitting a quarter inch of gravel.

   -- In the pantheon of greatest pars ever, No. 17. After three-putting the signature, 197-yard 16th following a perfect 7-wood, I drive into the left woods. Somehow, the ball ends up in a clearing within the trees -- I knew I hadn't heard it hit anything -- and I punch out to 100-something yards in the middle of the fairway on an inch-wide strip between divots.

   Despite the luck, I push my approach right and it lands pin-high, but next to the green in the rough. Lob wedge, flies perfectly, lands right where I wanted it to, rolls right as I saw the break to be, falls in for a four.

   I am the greatest golfer ever. So much so I play the par-5 18th perfectly ... right up to the part where I miss a 4-footer for par because I suck.

   -- Whereas everyone says you "putt for dough," had I been able to drive the ball at all, I might have had a shot at breaking 90. I had to hit at least four punchouts on the afternoon, and two of my other lost balls were on drives. Out of those five fairways I hit, I'd have to guess three of them were on mishits that worked out.

   And my best drive of the day came with a 3-wood on No. 5. Much to my surprise, said hole has a brush-lined marsh crossing it just out of view from the tee.

Somehow, it stopped short.
-- I still don't fully understand how my ball stopped here, not do I understand how the ensuing chop swing to advance broke neither my wedge nor my wrist.

   I also plugged a wedge shot in the fairway to about half the depth of a golf ball, but that was far less impressive.

   -- In the end, I took a lot of shots on penalty strokes, ultimately losing four balls -- one more than the sleeve of three Titleist NXT Tours they gave us just for showing up. I shot the worst score I've had for 18 holes since my final round of last year, on a day where I mentally gave up about 13 holes in and just started swinging as hard as I could for no reason -- I get a reprieve there next week when we play it again. I made some plays just because I wanted to see if I could do something spectacular on a PGA Tour course, like trying to reach the par-5 second in two when I had 213 yards to clear a muddy marsh and knew a 7-wood wasn't enough ... I got the ball back after it landed about five yards shy and rolled down.

   As I said to Ed, days like today are the reason a lot of people are jealous of media members. It was an opportunity people just don't get to have, and as I said to this playing partner who I've seen at nearly evert event I've ever covered, "If I thought I was good, I'd be pissed off right now."

   A good time was had by all ... even Ed, who only broke 120 by sinking every putt he saw all day and is now convinced he needs a hip replacement.

   Said playing partner is also the guy who, if you watched my last appearance on Sports Pulse, was mocked for his Reds fandom via a superimposed graphic and a squeaky voice shouting, "Go Reds!" As he was wearing said Reds hat to play, if you think I didn't break out that voice when he sank a putt from off the green late in the round, you don't know how bad at I am at introductions.

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