Sept. 30, 2008 - Workout Day, Far Away Three years ago today, I discovered the greatest sports message board post in the history of the universe. Or the worst, depending on your perspective, but I'm thinking positive.
It's the wife on the line from PEI. "What the hell are you doing, " she says. "Alison just called me....said you need psychiatric help." "Dave, when is this going to stop?’ "It's not," I say. "I thought you would get better, you're only getting worse." I tell her that she should expect me to continue to get worse. It's an aging thing ... the biological clock is ticking. I'm 50 ....how many more seasons will there be for another super bowl.
The actual post appears to have disappeared from the Internet, which I can only assume means its author actually imploded upon himself when the Steelers won the Super Bowl later that same season.
At the moment it has only my sports page design collection, but it'll eventually be a repository for any number of things. Most notably, my expansive collection of pictures from ballparks, which is long overdue to be posted somewhere and way too big to go on something like Flickr without having to pay. Why not waste my own bandwidth instead?
Behave yourselves and enjoy. And as always, suggestions welcome.
I do not have them here, but the Pesky column netted a whopping two e-mails. (That's not snark. Two e-mails for me is whopping.) The first was from a radio host in Maine who says he reads me regularly, and thought I needed to chill out. He was very reasonable.
The second one was unsigned, entitled "pesky artical" and singled me out for a long period of complete incompetence.
I wrote the latter back despite my policy against it, if only because I want to see if it leads anywhere. At the point I'm at, I really should be careful what I wish for ... all I need is for him/her to hit the wrong nerve.
One of my colleagues called me in the afternoon to say I was actually a subject of discussion on New England's sports radio juggernaut WEEI, but in the sense that the hosts couldn't remember:
1) Who wrote the column. 2) What paper it was from.
I'll blame it on the crumbling financial market. Right after I'm done hollowing out our mattress.Sept. 26-28, 2008 - Pork. I suspect there's a reason no other Boston-area writer (that I know of, anyway) wrote this.
I've been doing this long enough to know the attempts to explain the finesse of this idea will be missed entirely. Course, history's also taught me that the letters wouldn't be flowing in if I proposed Johnny Pesky be not simply fired, but set on fire.
Not necessarily because they'd see through the shock value or because I didn't believe what I was saying. Because letter writers are usually very emotional people.
Speaking of set on fire:
-- How else should one celebrate a christening?
That the Red Sox were 100 miles away laboring through a meaningless doubleheader ... maybe my place in life really isn't that bad.
As for the game actually including all the above? I was at work, realizing that it's simply time to move on.
I could say more, but there's really no reason to. It's reached the point where everyone knows the decisions we have to choose from are all losers, and it's simply a matter of choosing the one that hurts the least.
It's time to assemble my own list of choices, if there's even any to be had. Because the easiest one would probably end up hurting the most of all.Sept. 18-21, 2008 - Cup Crazy For The Best: Friday was arguably the lowest night I've had in a work sense since learning where Whale City was. The reasons were numerous, but primarily being officially told it's unlikely we'll be traveling at all this Red Sox postseason, then blowing deadline in the spectacular fashion only possible when you have seven 7 p.m. high school football games to get in the paper and just two fully functional people on the desk.
It screamed to be the kind of night where I come on here and just unload the most pity-laden screed the world has seen by any non-teenager, but that happened in the office.
Course, learning that one of your co-workers has a schedule that doesn't allow them to see their kids, and another has a parent with an unidentified chest lump that they've kept hidden from said co-worker, doesn't really make the unloading useful. It just makes one feel even worse, thus the radio silence.
You want to know why the newspaper profession, in a nutshell, can't get out of its way? Because it's plan for a resurgence is to offer you less and less -- hoping you don't notice because now there's VIDEO! and BLOGS! -- and to drum out its most valuable people because they make too much money.
That's it, I swear. It's out of my system. Besides, of far more relative interest was Saturday's bachelor party based around laser tag and a LAN party.
If you've never been to a LAN Party, you haven't lived properly (or you suck at gaming). If you suck at gaming, don't despair. You can still go to a LAN party, jack in, and just sniff packets and write code and still have some fun. Or you can be the sysadmin and setup the networking or you can just handle the food and beverages (get me my Bawls!). -- I don't know what any of this means.
Ah, sweet LAN parties...The stimulating scent of caffeine, the verbal jousting, the smell of pepperoni lingering in the air, the floor a tangled infestation of cat 5, the neon lights of case mods poking through the scene like lasers in fog. Nothing quite like it. And when the gaming starts, everybody becomes so intense. One frag leads to the next, emotions wax and wane as gibs amass and levels change, here an unnamed player, there an elite commando with uncanny aim. Over time, the LAN party itself, a single organism, breathing, hunting ... -- Little more clear on this part now. Still, don't need the shirt.
I think I've made clear in the past that I grew up in a circle of nerds. There were not a large number of pickup anything games in my teenage years because, I presumed, I was a nerd. As time has gone on, though, I'm discovering I may just have grown up with nerds.
My friends, you see, largely have nerd jobs. I, however, assemble newspaper pages read only by the elderly, and in my spare time wait for Dustin Pedroia to put on pants so he can tell me how his day went.
-- Circa a while ago. When wearing a Giants hat in public didn't get dirty look and murmurs of jumpings.
The second guy from the left is Geoff, for whom Saturday's festivities were in honor of. I have worse pictures of him at the ready, but I feel this better emphasizes my point. Three of the people in this photo can program a computer. Charlie owns a condo in metro-Boston. Geoff bought a house in metro-Boston. Eric has been in school for approximately the last decade, but I'm sure he has a plan.
I have several jerseys as nice as that hat.
This doesn't bother me. It just amuses me the way that hatred of sports teams now amuses me. We all used to play laser tag at the Holyoke Mall back in the day, to the point we probably gave the place a few extra months on its short run as a successful business. (Not to mention becoming very particular about the format of laser tag we played.)
After two games, we retired to said suburban-Boston house for very good food -- Geoff's brother is a budding chef -- and beer. Presentation of the sex toys, and the later hanging of the blow-up doll in a tree.
-- Of course he's reading the manual. You don't want to microwave something that shouldn't be.
And, of course, the LAN party, which devolved into a whole lot of guys screaming between the floors, one Halo frag at a time.
As with most things, I was good enough to basically hold my own, but not to impress anyone. Not even the kids who were very into watching a bunch of adults play laser tag. (I did, however, scare them by acknowledging we could see them through the "one-way mirror.")
I'm rapidly learning that gets you exactly what you'd figure.
Sept. 17, 2008 - Thank God We're Already Poor You know what's nice about having some awareness of how Zimbabwe's doing? Because at times like this, I can go take a peek.
On July 30, 2008, Gono announced that the Zimbabwean dollar would be redenominated. Effective August 1, ZW$10 billion would be worth ZW$1. The planned denominations to be issued are coins valued Z$5, Z$10 and Z$25 and banknotes worth Z$5, Z$10, Z$20, Z$100 and Z$500.
On September 13 because of cash shortages and worthless Zimbabwean currency, foreign currency was declared Legal tender as a de facto currency.
You know what's really great though? That there's so little absurdity difference between "Inflation: 11,268,758.9%" and "National Debt: $9.639 trillion."
My problem, of course, is I know just enough to say something like that, and read just enough to be worried about all of it. It may have little basis in reality, but I'm running with it.
Feel free to not correct me, since all I know is right around the time I started thinking more about investments, the glue holding together the gears of the financial markets gave out.Sept. 16, 2008 - A Lot of Culture Here So today, I spoke with a former Whale City resident for a Red Sox story.
If clicking the link is too much for you to handle, basically, this woman started the community arm of Sarasota's push to snag Red Sox spring training from Fort Myers. Tuesday night. the Sox met with her and some Sarasota officials at the Rays game, thus giving me the hook I needed for a story I've been waiting on for a couple weeks.
We talked on the phone for like a half-hour this afternoon, and at one point, I simply asked why she thought Sarasota was a better place that Fort Myers. Obviously, she's biased, but I wanted to see what she said.
This is the most sophisticated place in Florida. I would say it's the cultural capital of Florida. From my door, I can walk to the opera. There are five theaters nearby. There are unique things in Sarasota that don't exist in most parts of Florida. There's a symphony orchestra here. There's a major performing arts center. There's the ballet. It goes on and on and on.
Baseball will flourish in a community where there are so many things, and that is truly what Sarasota represents in Florida. A very sophisticated part of southwestern Florida and brings much to the table.
Now, I don't particularly have a rooting interest here. She's working very hard to get this done, and a new ballpark would be great, and Fort Myers is perfectly cromulent. I know my way around, and they have pseudo-Whalers hockey nearby.
Plus, the idea of me being sent to cover another spring training is well beyond laughable at this point.
But I want you to think about your last Red Sox game. Maybe the last time you just walked around Fenway when you didn't have a ticket. Think about the people you saw, the chants you heard, the mood of the moment.
Are you thinking opera and ballet?
If you are, we might need to have out more. Sociology experiment style.Sept. 15, 2008 - They Also Get Cupholders Read the cutline. Deduce the mistake. Feel better about your critical thinking skills.
And hell, if you want? Get up in arms about city officials snagging some grift in the new New York City ballparks.
In Arlington, Tex., meanwhile, Mayor Robert Cluck said he had "nothing in writing" but expected that the Cowboys would give the city a suite in their new stadium, when it opens next year. "I don't think we should have demanded one," he said. "We're building it for economic development reasons."
Then again, he said, he would be unabashed in using it. "Everybody has the opportunity to run for City Council or mayor," he said. "Maybe that's just a perk of the job."
Everything's bigger in Texas. Even balls.
[Editor's Note: The above-referenced error has been fixed in said story. No cheating.]Sept. 9-14, 2008 - Inca Kola: When You Hate Yourself Jack Falla: One of my favorite BU professors died on Sunday morning. The title of his latest book of essays seems sadly apropos.
There are no doubt hundreds of former students out there who look at Jack Falla as a mentor. The only reason I don't is because I fell backward into what I do. I more took his sports journalism class -- the most popular and best attended 8 a.m. class in America, bar none -- because I liked sports and liked writing. At no point did I ever really think, "Man, I should try to get a job doing this."
The worst grades I got the whole semester were for column writing. When I attempted to e-mail him and tell him I'd landed a job writing columns and even won an award for said pieces, the e-mail bounced back undeliverable. Combined with the belief he'd have no recollection of me, that was as far as my contact attempts went.
People more eloquent will say more eloquent things about him in the coming days. I will leave it at he was an excellent teacher, an incredible storyteller and one of hockey's great scribes. When Wayne Gretzky shows up at your services, and I suspect he will, you've clearly done something right.
When you willingly work six days, the seventh should be spent doing something fun. For once, it was ... Julie and I went to a party. It was a pseudo-housewarming party in the sense that it was a housewarming, but the guys are renting the house and really just wanted to excuse to drink.
At least, that's what I assume when Julie calls and asks if she should bring something to drink, and the response is "Well, we already have nine cases of beer and 18 bottles of wine. You could bring a dessert if you wanted."
We, of course, were fashionably late because I had to do what I do on most days off: do work. (That is among the 10 worst columns I've ever written.) As such, when I arrived, I was "behind" and had to "catch up."
It wasn't until several hours later that I realized I'd had seven beers in less than four hours, that realization making me feel a lot better about the throbbing headache I was already nursing before I'd left the party.
Sunday morning -- when I was not nursing a hangover thanks to the pre-bed ibuprofen/copious amounts of water combo that everyone makes fun of me for -- I started to think about how seven beers happened. I really don't drink a lot anymore. Perhaps because of that, I usually drink too much when I do, leading to headaches and the general lack of desire to drink again.
There's been two times, however, when I've really bull-rushed right into "Binge Drinking Land," the theme-park blueprints for which would be hilarious and horribly offensive. This party was one of them, though I'd largely pinned this booze soaking on the invention of "Beer Volleyball," which is like volleyball except it's played over a badminton net, there's penalties for standing up and you must have a beer in hand at all times.
A beer or your child, which I'm sure is much less abusive in reality than it sounds in print. I mean, were they left to wander, they could have tripped over the cooler in the middle of the court.
The other, though, makes me wonder. It was over the holidays several years ago, the first after Meg and I broke up. She was at the house of the friend of mine she's still dating (and now owns a house with), a fact which I reconciled by taking down an entire Samuel Adams holiday sampler in maybe 90 minutes. A feat both of incredible fortitude and crippling stupidity.
As with that night, she was at this party. We aren't particularly close, but we're amiable. Amiable in the sense that we see each other maybe twice a year and are intertwined to the point where like 50 percent of the people at this party only know each other because we dated.
I have no doubt none of this means anything, and that this entire conversation with myself is a function of a wild imagination.
That, or it's true. My subconscious can only deal with my ex-girlfriend when it's drowned in alcohol. Not me. I'm fine, except on the inside, where it's all synpases and Yuengling and sleeping in the car.
I'll get the schematic together in the morning.September 8, 2008 - Popularity Contest This was sent to me about a week ago. I've spent some time ruminating upon it.
"Well, I think the real problem comes from the fact that we are taking the focus off of getting to know Sarah Palin and her political views, and what she can do to make our country a less destructive place," Lohan wrote. "It's distracting from the real issues, the real everyday problems that this country experiences.
She continued, "I am concerned with the fact that Sarah Palin brought the attention to her daughter's pregnancy, rather than all world issues and what she believes she could possibly do to change them -- if elected. I get Sarah Palin's views against abortion, but I would much prefer to hear more about what she can do for our country rather than how her daughter is going to have a child no matter what."
She also talks about the importance of sex education for teenagers.
Ultimately, I can not do it any more justice than it does on its own just by existing. But please note:
1) A certain Hollywood starlet has a MySpace blog. It is primarily made up of posts you would expect on a 22-year-old's blog.
2) Said blog elicits MTV News stories regularly, and ledes like "Lindsay Lohan's current mood is 'betrayed' (cue angry emoticon), and she's not going to take it anymore."
3) Said blog has comments allowed on it.
I have no desire to feel any more depressed at the moment, so you're on your own.
September 6-7, 2008 - Flushed Camilo Villegas: One week after having to battle through my withering final-round stare, he earns his first PGA Tour win. I'll be expecting my gift basket in the mail over the next 4-6 weeks.
Denied the opportunity to play mini golf for money, Julie and I made the next logical step, attending a baseball game at a place filled with obstacles, surrounded by winding pathways and next to an absurdly large globe.
-- No. 15 on the checklist, and soon to be No. 2 (or No. 3) to no longer exist.
If I might dabble in the topical humor, this trip was on and off again more than a Ross Perot presidential campaign. The original plan was to see Mets-Marlins on my brother's birthday, but my family went on vacation instead. Then there were no weekends to go, but the mini golf thing cleared this one. Went back and forth about getting the Saturday off, got the Saturday off and pulled the trigger on tickets. Which Julie then short-circuited by consenting to work on Saturday.
A point of less significance when hurricane remnants cancelled the game. After I'd met up with my father (taking Julie's ticket) and brother -- the latter of which who was wearing his Marlins jersey, I presume, in hopes of being killed -- and made the drive southwest out of fears they'd play the game.
About 12 phone calls later, I was rocketing back to Whale City so I could work a half shift, sleep for a couple hours, then drive it again with Julie to see the rescheduled game.
Major, major points go to my boss, who not only consented to both schedule switches but bailed me out on early Saturday afternoon while I was watching Rhode Island state troopers pull over speeding cars every 15 miles. Also, my father and brother, who spent Saturday driving to and from Manhattan and got nothing but a couple touristy shots from the car in return.
If only Dad's good cheer resonated in the political realm, my wife wouldn't be afraid to let him know she's voting for Obama.
With all that in the rear view, it was good going in that I knew Shea's reputation as a dump. There were really no expectations on my part outside of getting to see the place before it's parking.
Regardless, it was worth the hassle. Got to see a couple old friends from college, got to spend the day with the Mrs. and walked around Corona Park as an alternative to sitting in postgame (and pregame, given the doubleheader) traffic.
I'll admit, I never really processed that the Unisphere was so large. However, I can neither confirm nor deny that it actually has free hand grenades under it, as Julie did not want to end the day touring a Queens-area police precinct.
Aramark, the company that oversees the operations of Boston University Dining Services, started the tray-less dining initiative at BU this year to reduce food waste, water use and energy consumption, Dining Services marketing Director Scott Rosario said in an email.
"Boston University chose to go trayless because of the positive impact we can make on the environment," he said.
BU could save an estimated 1.5 million gallons of water annually and reduce food waste by 25 to 30 percent per person by going trayless, Rosario said.
Rosario said he knows some students will find the absence of trays inconvenient, but retrieving, carrying and eating food in segments will ultimately lead to fresher eating.
It will also lead to more crap being dropped on the floor. I look forward to the scientific proof of my theory in a future issue.
College of Communication sophomore Pedro Falci said he is happy the dining halls stopped using trays.
"I don't mind sacrificing and going without them to save the planet," he said.
I don't think it's quite that easy, but more power to you on the buzzword usage. That sort of eagerness is sure to get you laid at some point in the next three years.September 4, 2008 - Not Discerning If we may continue the deconstruction of my musical favorites, the main man behind one of my favorite albums dislikes it.
Damon Albarn has revealed that he isn't a fan of Blur's first and fourth albums. The band's frontman criticised 1991's Leisure and 1995's The Great Escape, naming them as two of his biggest mistakes.
"I've made hundreds of mistakes," Albarn admitted. "I've made two bad records. The first record, which is awful, and The Great Escape, which was messy."
I'll give him this, the first album is awful. But the latter might be what sold me on the whole genre. I can't remember what exactly clued me in to it, but all of a sudden, it was "Wait, this is great too!"
So, note to self. I am not the barometer for "critical acclaim."
Also worth noting, Damon Albarn was 27 when 'The Great Escape' came out. This is, in many ways, almost as depressing as finding out I'm three days older than Josh Beckett, who made his Major League debut seven years ago today.
What was I doing seven years ago today? Apparently, reveling in four-and-a-half day weekends. At least I got married before him. That counts for something.September 3, 2008 - A Rich Tapestry This should be considered another brief political interlude.
Leggy Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin has few things to hang the protective eyewear she wears while shooting on, but the main one is that she was governor of Alaska. (Which, as you may not be aware, is close to Russia.)
Let us bear in mind two things when considering this.
-- She has been governor of Alaska for less than two years. -- Alaska has a total population of about 680,000, which is roughly equal to Fort Worth, Texas.
I am in no way inferring this makes her unfit to attend the funerals of world leaders. I'm merely explaining why every time I think of the Republican ticket now, I think of:
Don't worry. I live in Massachusetts. My vote doesn't count anyway.September 2, 2008 - 200? 200!: Tonight's 14-2 barf bag of a baseball game was the 200th I've covered as an honest-to-God sportswriter. The 2008 All-Star Game, a Pirates-Cubs game I sat in on four Aprils ago and 198 Red Sox games.
That night in Pittsburgh, I got a Jason Bay bobblehead. When I tried to move said bobblehead after Bay's trade to Boston, its head fell off.
Eleven years ago, Oasis released Be Here Now at the peak of their popularity. Millions, myself most definitely included, raced out to buy it.
Oh, it got bought. And oh, it got enjoyed. Until some people kind of figured out something was wrong:
Contemporaneous reviews of Be Here Now were, in John Harris's words, unanimous with "truly amazing praise." According to Harris, "To find an album that had attracted gushing notices in such profusion, one had to go back thirty years, to the release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." While Q magazine described the album as "cocaine set to music," most early reviews praised the record's length, volume and ambition.
. . .
By the end of 1997, Be Here Now had sold eight million units worldwide. However, the sales volume was largely gained in the first two weeks of release, and once the album was released to UK radio stations the turnover tapered off. Buyers realised that the album was not another (What's the Story) Morning Glory?, and by 1999, Melody Maker reported that it was the album most sold to second-hand record stores. -- Wiki
That settles it. Before I die, I want to spin a phrase as magical as "cocaine set to music." Holy christ can the Brits write.
High-school age Cooch, though? Cooch never got the memo. He LOVED "Be Here Now." That whole period was the pinnacle of my interest in music, and it was almost all centered around BritPop. I was buying import CDs, pissed they didn't show the MTV Europe Music Awards live in America, digging around on the sort-of new, Internet-enabled family PC to find news stuff ... to this day, I've got a stack of Oasis singles and B-sides in a box somewhere because when I went to Wales in Summer '96, I bought everything I could find.
At the time, I didn't know "Be Here Now" killed BritPop, nor did I have the slightest idea I was growing up in the time of Cool Britannia (and that "Be Here Now" kinda killed that too). All I knew is that Blur went a completely different direction with their fifth album, and the nexttwo Oasis albums got progressively worse.
It was over. I may not have fully realized it was over until today, when I spent an hour-plus reading Wikipedia articles that depressed the hell out of me, but that was it. My favorite musical genre just disappeared.
Given the ignorance, refusal to believe it, whatever, I kept buying all the albums right up until the aforelinked "Heathen Chemistry," which I vehemently disliked, yet prompted me to buy tickets to their Boston U.S. tour stop. (Which ended up getting cancelled.) That was the capper.
Until Monday on the way to the golf course, when the college station in Providence played the new single.
It'd probably be a bit much to say I was 17 again, but it was pretty damn good. Maybe that album I skipped was as good as people said. And hey, look, I missed a Supergrass album ...September 1, 2008 - Last Group, Last To Lose Brief Political Interlude: So, the 17-year-old daughter of John McCain's leggy, not 72-year-old vice-presidential candidate is pregnant out of wedlock. Yes, this is something we should all hardle with the utmost respect.
After all, were the shoe on the other party's candidate's foot, I'm sure this wouldn't be an issue with anyone.
The hypocrisy would make my brain hurt if it weren't going to be topped 15 more times in the next three months.
You know what I bet feels really good? Walking up to the 18th green at a big-time golf tournament and getting a rousing ovation for your play, even if you're Mike Weir today and you're coming in second.
You know what feels a little bit awkward? Being part of the contingent who's been walking the course with Weir, and crossing the footbridge right behind him, meaning you're inadvertently basking in the same ovation.
-- Both Weir and Sergio Garcia took a look at the weather -- ended up being a high of 84 -- and said, "Know what? All black golf outfit today."
This wouldn't even have registered with me if one of the last times I was home, my father didn't note I was wearing a black, button-up shirt on a hot day. "What," he said despite my not complaining about being hot once, "are you fukcing retarded?"
We're a happy, loving family. Swear to God.
-- There's a commercial on TV about a technique to drive the golf ball farther built around Camilo Villegas. The premise being, "How does this small guy hit it so far?" (It's like the first 15 seconds of this.)
-- "His secret?" Perhaps it's the bodybuilder arms. They might help.
-- About midway through the round, I saw a male spectator wearing an all-fuschia golf outfit and a fauxhawk. He looked kind of like this guy, but had tattoos on the inside of his right arm that I can't definitiely match up.
I've regretted not taking a cell phone picture ever since, even if it probably would have gotten me ejected from the course. The phenomenon of spectators wearing golf shoes around, as though they're anything but the least comfortable shoes you own, was bad enough.
-- If there's one thing you can count on in life, it's when you walk by the corporate tents on the 17th hole with the last group of the day, there's going to be drunks, and they're going to think everything they say is hilarious. Even if it's just, say, "HEY! WE-AHHH! CAN-AH-DAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!"
I did notice the Wall Street Journal had a tent. I can only assume, knowing what I do about the business, it was filled with laid-off journalists trying to convince bankers and lawyers to hire them as janitors and mail room employees.
I followed the Weir-Villegas pairing around the course the whole afternoon, only missing the 10th because I ran back to the media center to fill my pockets with apples and bottles of water. It was during that pit stop I saw Boston's finest was in the proverbial building.
Paid it no real mind until Weir's round is over. I find out they're bringing him into the media interview room back at the tent, which I'm not terribly pleased about because it means everyone's getting the same quotes. So I trudge over.
I'm not exhausted at this point, but I have been out in the sun all day, walking the golf course. So imagine my joy when I get to near the media center door, and see Shaughnessy striding outside fresh as a daisy, just finding out how far he has to move to do his job.
In his defense, this is apparently how almost everyone covers golf. I dare say it's a sport set up to rarely leave the media center, what with TV coverage and computers providing every statistic you could possibly imagine. I just hate that.
I have a respect for Dan's talents. He is, ultimately, a very good writer, and that allows him the leeway to pull shit like this all the time.