October 31, 2002 - Holiday This
   Because I do use this space often for little more than self promotion, I feel it's only fair to reveal the flipside of my "budding journalism career" when it appears.

   In Wednesday's Standard-Times, for the main picture on page 4 (the New Bedford City Report), I wrote a cutline describing a grandmother and granddaughter at a Jewish community center making ornaments together.

   Of course, I called them Christmas ornaments.

   • For last Halloween I was a racist, calling hard-luck Arizona relief pitcher Byung Hyun Kim by the ethnically correct name of Hong Kong Phooey. This year I will go as something else I often like to pretend I'm not, a college bowl player.

   Well, I don't really ever seriously pretend to hide the defining force of my college career, as it's given me fistfuls of close friends and aquaintances, Meg, and at least a third of the fodder for 17 months worth of write-ups. It's just my half-serious decree, "I am the king of northeast quiz bowl!," will never be lived down (or proven in a court of law).

   And for the record, at the point I said it, I really was.

   For the past few weeks, debate has been flying on the quizbowl message group on any number of topics. Well, probably not debate as much as open bitching, which sadly might be the only thing to stay consistent in the 4+ years I've known the collegiate circuit existed.

   The first message I ever posted in a public forum about qb was my freshman year. There was some such debate on some topic, and I made a request for people just to chill out and get along. I was essentially told to shut up and "take up knitting," which given the amount of points I usually scored, wouldn't have been that much different from what I usually did.

   People have been talking about the future of the circuit, why NAQT is hosting its collegiate national championship on the West Coast (when most teams are in the East) and their high school one at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center (breaking the mold of hosting it at a college campus of an experienced team), how the game can be grown, general stuff like that. Everyone with an opinion has been spouting, on boards and on blogs, and really, have I ever passed up an opportunity to throw my two cents in the ring?

   I don't get a lot of the quizbowl player traffic a guy like Craig Barker gets, so to talk about it at length will likely get pointless for some. If you don't play quizbowl or don't want to read about it, I highly suggest you walk now. I'll see you in November. Or you could comment incessantly - whatever works for you.

   And should you play quizbowl, feel free to bandy this about amongst yourselves and those who do (and won't find it here on their own).

   I'm a bit of a rare bird in the QB world, since most of my notable achievements as an undergrad were from the organizational side of things (versus being a good player). I ran roughly a dozen tournaments for the BU team, organized our forces for the hosting of the NAQT ICT in 2000 and generally found my use to the club was best situated behind the camera. As such, I generally went through four years of being very involved in the circuit with most people not having any idea who I was.

   Academically, I was good for about 15 ppg. At Penn Bowl my sophomore year, our B team went 2-13, including a 30-20 loss to Dickinson. 30 to 20. It was at that point I retired from academic play, except for CBI and the occasional fill-in role. You know that point you realize to get better, you have to study? If I didn't study hard for school, I damn sure wasn't going to for an extracurricular activity, especially with TRASH readily available.

   As such, I've always looked at things from a "How can we do this better?" perspective, versus a "How can I play better?" one. My goals for a year were always to get the most people involved as I could, run the best tournaments we could and get to as many different places as our budgets would carry us. If we won, great. Course it's easy to say that when we were blessed with some exceptional players in my time (Mike Hoey-Lukakis, Matt Bruce and Erik Nielsen, plus a host of other supporting cast).

   If the people on the circuit want it to grow, the answer is simple.

   Make it more accessible.

   Each year, we'd have a large number of new people come to our table at the activities fair, come to a few meetings, even attend some of the early season tournaments. But it always dwindles, for any number of reasons. The single biggest reason I would hear from people as to why they stopped coming was they were sick of feeling stupid. People don't like to hear trivia questions where they don't know the answer even after it's read.

   A whole other debate is whether you want these people playing. But that's for another flame war.

   Open more inroads for people to slowly work their way toward being diehards. Give them easier questions and more equal competition. It's about choice. Treat new people are a finite resource, because if they stop flowing in, the circuit's going to wither and die really fucking fast. Dare I say, be social and kind. Make it about the social interaction as much as the play. Why'd I stay around for as long as I did while not even playing? Amazingly enough, I enjoyed going on road trips with my friends.

   I had really hoped to have more insightful commentary on all this, but I have my point and that's how it is. If you want more people to join your club, make it worth their while to do it. More people will get interested in high school, and they'll go to different colleges and start their own clubs, and they'll go to grad schools and start clubs, and there. Kind of like how the circuit started now.

   There's so many other angles to discuss, but it's hard to do it when I know almost none of you care. If you want to discuss it with me more, by all means throw comments up on the board. And note I did not wish you a Happy Halloween.

Pats Missed Their Chance
-- Short piece as part of a big spread on "Bledsoe Bowl 1," as it has been dubbed. It's more concentrated bitching, which I like -- as it's fewer words, it's the same amount of opinion, just with less water added. The Web site does not do the layout justice, I assure you.

October 30, 2002 - Queue Up In Your Pea Coats
   Because I got sick of the downtime and the long loading, I've upgraded the comments system from Enetation. If you did actually did have something to say about yesterday, and I bet a plucky gang like you did, wail to your heart's content.

   And every other day, of course.

   Also on the admin front, the New Bedford weather will now be offered to you daily by the CW Weather Pixie, as seen on Matt Boggie's site first. I made every attempt to pick the hottest one I could, because nothing would please me more than to know at least one of you was aroused by a small cartoon dispersing barometric pressure.

   And yeah, comment on that too.

   • Perhaps the truest sign of my age, relative to coworkers? A signup sheet was put out a couple days, asking everyone on the desk to rank, 1-5, which of the following days they'd like off: Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, New Year's Day. Almost everyone gets their one, some get their two ... it's basically a seniority thing.

   I'm the only one to rate New Year's Eve anything more valuable than a three.

   Missing spending the Fourth of July with my friends, in Boston, sucked. Sucked relative to say, everything currently in the news, but still sucked. That's the only time I've thought of cutting work since I started at the S-T. Problem of course being it would have been so blatantly obvious what I was doing, I may as well have just fired myself.

   Not happening again. Not with the winds of graduation probably flaking a few of us off by New Year's '04.

   While thinking of such losses is disturbing, it's (at this point anyway) not providing the acute disturbance of the following news stories:

Andrew WK, Live From The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
-- No. NO NO NO NO NO.

Run DMC Rapper Shot, Killed
-- Jarring, even as someone who cares little about them as a group.

Army Working On Three-Year Sandwich
-- And why do we love the military? Quotes like this:

"Peanut butter has so far proven too unstable to last three years in battlefield conditions, said Michelle Richardson, a food technologist who has worked on the sandwich."

"We don't want to change the texture, we want it to act and feel like peanut butter."

   And here you were worried about the military, and within weeks, they'll have stabilized peanut butter for use in the battlefield. Hope Saddam's got the bunker furnished!

October 29, 2002 - It Became A Challenge
   I backed out of the radio show late Monday night. Realizing it was 2 a.m., and that a 4 a.m. wake-up call would be needed to get to Babson Park from Feeding Hills, it didn't make sense to even attempt setting an alarm. If you think it was worth at least trying, it's a shame you weren't there with your Dixie Cup of water when the Great Chicago Fire was in full blaze.

   Apologies to Mark and Chris, though I'm sure they more than survived without me. I just saw a lot of golf on the docket, and Lord knows I am America's second best golf expert, behind only Marvin of North Hollywood, Calif.

   And if you know who that is, a cookie for your troubles.

   • So yeah, nine stores in two and a half hours. Can't you just be happy I acutally got up by 10 a.m., society?

   Lesson #2 For Job-Seeking Undergraduates (and Kristen Conway): Working nights, while both socially damming an hard to adjust to, offers the advantages of being able to sleep until noon without shame and greatly limiting the money you can waste going to casinos six nights a week.

   Contrary to popular opinion, if the state were to allow gambling and thus open a casino in New Bedford, the only way I would go to it six nights a week was if I was drawing a paycheck. An actual paycheck, versus sporadic slot returns.

   So anyway, the entire morning odyssey -- which included two Electronics Boutiques, two FYEs, two Targets, a Toys 'R Us and a Media Play before finally settling on "the KB Toy Works not at a mall, thus everyone forgot it existed" -- could have been spared had I just pre-ordered the game like every other person in the world or simply bought it online, having it arrive to me at some point Wednesday. While a sound plan, it does not account for my intricate self esteem-boosting plan.

   To find the game as I did shows great persistence and ingenuity, so while depressing in the short term, it's actually uplifting in the long. Plus were I not to have found it, there's always the chance (as with Rockstar's State of Emergency) I could find out the game sucked before having blown $50 on it. Though considering I blew $45 on a ticket for no one at the MLS Cup and routinely bet on professional football games, we aren't exactly in a spending freeze in Cooch's World.

   So, to marry the updates of the last two days, ESPN's most excellent sports pissing contest, Pardon The Interruption, posed that magical press question: Which is worse for society? Jackass The Movie or Grand Theft Auto: Vice City?

   Tony Kornheiser's take was Jackass, because it features real people doing real things in real situations. Even at its worst, Vice City is still just a video game. Michael Wilbon disagreed, saying GTA is little more than shooting pimps and hoes in the big city. In all seriousness, he wants to makers of the game stoned in the streets.

   And I, well, I'm extremely murky.

   I'm probably the wrong person to address this, because I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and, while the game isn't winning me over like GTA3 did, I'm well on my way to sinking neck deep into it til Thanksgiving. Plus, I tend to have a very defeatist view of reality. All that said, why does either of them have to be bad for society?

   Because we are our weakest link.

   In elementary school, there were the kids that learned and the kids who like to shake others down on the playground. The ones who played kickball for fun and the ones who played to whale you in the face with the ball. That's life. There's always going to be those two sides, no matter how hard the teachers try and the cops try and the parents try. Some people are just fucked up in the head. Sure you can bring some up to a higher standard, but there's always going to be that bottom 5% who hates you for even trying.

   I'm not saying give up on them, but simply to accept the fact that they're there. That's what tracking, if done right, can do in schools. Have enough levels to separate the kids who want to learn from the kids who want to not sit in the rain outside.

   Worse for society? I'll agree neither of these things is the most wholesome pursuit, but I'm mature enough to handle both of them. Know why I'm not going to put electrodes on my crotch? Because it fucking hurts. Know why I'm not going to run over a skating pedestrin with a motorcycle? Because it's a crime, and I wouldn't like it done to me.

   And for those whose pscyhe are not as set as mine. for those who will be impressioned by what they're watching and seeing, they're going to be influenced by something else, at some other time. They're going to see the sniper on the news and think, "Wow. He went a long time without getting caught. That would work." They're going to draw their motivation from somewhere else, because that's reality. These images are out there, in all forums, in all forms.

   You can't build a treehouse while you're in the tree. You have to get out, start clean, and create from scratch.

   The success of things like Jackass ($22.7 million in first weekend at box office) and GTA (last was lauded best video game of 2001, this will be top 10% of 2002 at least) show that many in the society find this stuff entertaining. One can either hope this stuff fades away slowly as people mature and grow, or you can just liquidate all of us now, and replace with people who don't find these things enjoyable in their forms. Somehow, I think I know which of those would be worse for society.

   For the record, I'm not trying to be as "high and mighty" as this may sound. But I enjoy these items, and just because John Q. Moron isn't mature enough to see the stupidity imbedded within, they should not be taken away from me. Were I of the opinion banning the game and movie would go toward solving society's ills, then my viewpoint would be obviously different.

October 28, 2002 - Bad Idea: Chocolate Pancakes
   Let it be known Grand Theft Auto: Vice City goes on sale Tuesday. The future of my November will depend on my securing a copy somwhere between Agawam and Whale City -- stories of failure and angst are sure to follow.

   • It was another night of being social over being sporty, as I chose Jackass: The Movie over Giants-Eagles on MNF. Much like the game, this was a blowout from the start.

   I am not prone to exaggeration, as you know, because I am a journalist. We speak only the uninterrupted truth. Thus believe me when I say, the New York Giants are the worst offensive team in the history of professional sports. I was able to watch a tape of the game tonight in roughly 45 minutes, because absolutely nothing happened.

   It's absolutely uncanny how bad the Giant offense is. It's actually mentally troubling to think about how bad the offense really is - it's as though they have to struggle to achieve their level of inefficiency.

   The only time the Giants got inside the Eagle five yard line, they fumbled the ball on the one and lost it. Jeremy Shockey proved he's an amazing tight end, with unending energy and motivation, who's just not real good at catching. At least when you're watching The Bad News Bears Go To Japan, you realize a lack of talent is part of the act.

   The product placement of Miller High Life alone was more entertaining than the football game; everything else was just icing on the cake.

   Just for the record, there's only one part of the movie you won't be able to stomach. And it's not even the part where they put muscle stimulators on their scrotums.

Stars Don't Always Shine The Same Way
-- It's less about being pro-Bonds or anti-Smith than it is about finding a connection in the two big stories that don't involve the New England Patriots. After staring at a blank screen for the better part of three hours, it became obvious if I had the answers to their slide, I'd have gone into coaching.

October 27, 2002 - $75 and Not A Wave Sampled
   • Let this be a lesson to you, friends. Great players don't win championships. Great teams do.

   I didn't watch it live, to be honest -- the VCR was rolling while I went hiking in the Woods. But at least I now know the thrill of reading "505 Credits Won" on a video slot screen can be exceeded by a cathartic championship triumph for a city far away ... at least for those first few seconds.

October 26, 2002 - Stupid, Yet Sweet
   • We don't talk much college football here, but we talk a lot about stupid things. Now their powers combine, much like Captain Planet, but without the aquamarine skin and vinyl bodysuit.

   Notre Dame 34, Florida State 10. 1:12 left. Florida State scores a touchdown, making it 34-16 -- an 18-point deficit. FSU coach Bobby Bowden skips attempting a two-point conversion, kicking an extra point to make it 34-17.

   Were Florida State to have gotten the two-point conversion, it's 34-18. While the odds of you recovering an onside kick, scoring a second touchdown and two-pointer, recovering another onside kick and scoring a third touchdown and two-pointer, all in 1:12, are ASANINE, what's the loss in trying? At 34-17, it's still a three-score game.

   I mean, does it matter if Florida State recovered the onside kick, scored a second touchdown, again passed on going for two, recovered ANOTHER onside kick, then threw a harmless bomb to lose 34-24? Does it matter they could have been down 34-26 had Bobby Bowden not given up, meaning that final pass thrown with eight seconds left could have been for a shot at the tie? I mean, they lost anyway.

   So who's the stupid one, me with my pipe dreams or Bobby Bowden with his apparent lack of math or faith to play it up to the finish? Well, only one of us said this in the post-game interview:

"They work on it, they force them. That's the way they beat everybody. So, just count us in the club. We're in a club. They're serial killers. They kill everybody the same way. No change.''
-- Moments later, university officials
distributed a brief statement with Bowden's apology.

   Since I had come out and said I thought Notre Dame would win the game big, I was just more dismayed with the stupidity than I was unhappy with the outcome. Same can be said for the following.

   Pittsburgh and Boston College, tied at 16. Overtime. Pittsburgh takes the ball first, is held entirely in check, and barely hits a 42-yard field goal to make it 19-16. College football's OT rules then give B.C. the ball on the 25-yard line, as Pittsburgh had it. Touchdown they win, nothing they lose, field goal they repeat.

   Twenty five yards is not a lot of ground to cover. If you ask me, you owe it to yourself to at least make at attempt for the win, because you don't really know when your opponent will fail to score seven again. Throw a couple passes downfield. If you get it, you win. If you can't, you've gained some yards and have a shot at the field goal to fall back on. Elementary stuff, right?

First and 10, PIT 25: Sack, loss of one.
Second and 11, PIT 26: Run, two-yard gain.
Third and 9, PIT 24: Run, three-yard gain.
Fourth and 6, PIT 21: 39-yard field goal is NO GOOD.
Pittsburgh wins 19-16.

   Absolutely inconceivable. Downright shocking. A historic turn of events. All of the above, and the below.

"It's going to be much easier for Anaheim to win one on the road
than it will be for San Fran win their second at Edison."
"If the Giants lose Game Three, they're in big trouble."
-- To you Giant fans, a heartfelt nod (followed by a grin and a fist pump).

October 25, 2002 - Merry Christmas, Great Pumpkin
"She was an avid reader, bird-watcher, enjoyed singing and listening to music, loved spending time with her grandchildren, and shopping at the Christmas Tree Shops."
-- Friends, always write your own obituary. Trust me.

   Just to fill in the blanks, the Christmas Tree Shops, with a slogan of "Don't you just love a bargain?," are that store every region has where you can buy Halloween costumes at any point during the year. The one that sells the off-brand macaroni for a dollar a box? The brass candleholders shaped like angels? "Authentic" Persian rugs for about 25 bucks? It has it's place, but I wouldn't exactly list it in my top dozen hobbies.

   My biggest CTS memory was the last time I was in there, I saw a man walking with a child ... on an honest to God leash. And once I got six boxes of Christmas lights for like eight dollars. Equally obscene sidebars, yet in such different ways.

   Course the kid did knock over an entire stack of Christmas ornaments before he was drug away, so maybe he needed it.

October 24, 2002 - Wolf, Connie, Paula and Me
"There is going to be a movie made about my life story. Jail time actually promotes it even better -- ching, ching!"

"I did a lot of wrong things, but I'm an adventurous Aries and a Canadian. I'm going to go to jail with my head up high, and I'm going to be the captain of my cell block."
-- Ex-Porn Star Receives Three Months For Insider Trading. I shit you not.

   So let's see. She's a porn star, willing to sell her body for loveless sex. She's an openly arrogant bitch and, as the icing, she's a criminal. Apparently it's possible for a person to earn a negative score on my "Worth To The Human Race" scale after all.

   And yet, I still can't say that without feeling a twinge guilty.

   • I'm stepping out, making my name known. Going to the city, putting on my best suit. I'm going to be a pundit. Go ahead, quiz me. I'm the answer guy.

   Whoever you are, short of a cop, I can guarantee I know more about the sniper than you.

   John Allen Muhammad, nee Williams. Forty one. Louisiana born. Gulf War vet. Expert badges in M-16 shooting and hand grenade usage. Got a Caprice registered in Jersey and a Washington state license. Twice divorced, with restraining order out by wifey two. Sympathetic to the terrorists. Ran security during the Million Man March.

   Has a handshake that will crush you.

   John Lee Malvo. Seveteen. Jamaican born, illegal in the country. Eats a lot of honey and crackers, because "step dad" makes it so. Killed a liquor store clerk in Alabama, and shot another in the neck. Knows how to run from cops successfully. Like buying guns on the Internet.

   Classmate in Washington thought he was kind of cute.

   Got a wake-up call today from the Managing Editor. Wanted me to come in at two p.m., unlike the regular wire four, because we were going sniper crazy. He's a Boston Herald guy, so stuff like this is right in his wheelhouse. Even though he's new in the office, and I've got at least four months seniority on him, I played along.

   Lesson #1 For Job-Seeking Undergraduates (and Kristen Conway): If the new Managing Editor asks you to do something, you do it. Especially if he doesn't yet know what a incredible putz you are.

   You want Standard-Times sniper coverage? I am the Standard-Times sniper coverage. For the past ten hours, my sole job has been to read every piece of sniper news on the wires, cull every loose factoid I could off the Internet, watch every press conference, essentially ingratiate myself entirely into the day's biggest story because the paper's first FOUR PAGES were essentially placed on my shoulders. I was assigned to "write" the three major non-local pieces of our coverage (reaction in D.C., profile of suspects, recap of the clues), then take care of everything else sniper we would need.

   Now Dan is a very observant fellow who's very good at what he does, but I don't think he realized my long-running mantra that, given a stack of facts, I will create the best fucking story you could ever read with said facts. My problems as a reporter all lie in the collection, not the assembly. Thus, he stumbled across easily the best scenario for all involved.

   He later said he set it up this way because after reading my Angels piece, he saw I "knew how to write." Only after we talked for about ten minutes about "my" 50-inch profile piece, and he went out and made sure it ran in full, did I realize I was doing the networking I'd spent the last five years convinced I was incapable of.

   It wasn't perfect by any stretch, considering my second story was so long it bumped the third one from the paper, but I think I did OK. You can judge for yourself, if you wish. For the evening, my byline will be "From Wire Reports."

   And to think at the start of the shift I was little more than panicked about it all and angry I couldn't write another extra column, this time about the new Boston Expos. It was essentially the same process that went into my election as College Bowl president in my freshman year, but in an actual important capacity.

   I love all you quizbowlers, I do. But if I fucked up there, thirty thousand readers weren't going to affected.

   For once, a whole shift went by where I actually felt important, competent and quite proud of my production for the evening. I even turned take charge when the night editor went home sick. I walked home happy, tossing my tennis ball skyward and catching it clean. Then the cab went by, with the girl who leaned out and screamed at my back:

"HEY! Anyone ever tell you you're a faggot?"

   My dad did once, though he was more asking. A kind of, "Are you gay?," with no real promise of support. He was also drunk, but really at that point, it was a valid question as the ladies weren't beating down my door.

   I guess not everyone's a big fan of the orange sweater. Still, it's nice to see the column is making me known on the street.

October 23, 2002 - Vitamin Gumballs

Welcome to 'Virtual Andrea Mitchell, NBC News Correspondent!'
The Fed!
-- "Good morning husband Alan Greenspan. Let me go start the coffee!"

   In the interest of not being an asshole, I went back to the wires for the details on the Rhode Island rape story mentioned yesterday and commented upon.

   A 15-year-old South Kingstown male has been charged with raping a 41-year-old woman at knifepoint.

   The youth, whose name was not released because of his age, was ordered held at the state Training School pending an Oct. 29 court hearing. The ruling followed a Tuesday hearing in Washington County Family Court to determine if he posed a danger to the community.

   Capt. Stephen Baker of the Westerly Police Department told The Providence Journal that the woman called police early Saturday morning to say she had been raped in her Westerly home. The youth was arrested shortly afterward in the same vicinity.

   My word choice was poor -- such is a possible side effect of expository writing at 1 a.m. I apologize to anyone I might have offended.

   With the story, not the picture.

   • Maybe the most spectacular thing about the radio & robbery Tuesday morning was in an hour of listening to WEEI Sports Radio on the drive up to Wellesley, there wasn't one second of Patriot bashing ... because all the talk was about the D.C./Tacoma/Alabama Sniper.

   It was exactly the kind of news discussion you'd expect from Boston sports media -- all they did was point fingers, forward conspiracies and take calls from crazy people. It's usually quite enjoyable, yet really wasn't when it was an hour dealing with just what's wrong with "Charlie Moose". Namely, why he's completely incompetent and screwing up the entire case.

   The county bordering Washington, D.C., isn't exactly Small Town America, but we're not dealing with a P.R. trained, media savvy individual. We're dealing with a guy who can't read from a script, be in penned by himself or the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

   He got where he is because he's good at being a cop ... or he has pictures of somebody naked with their mistress. For the sake of the discussion, we'll figure the first. Even still, he's not conducting much of this investigation, the FBI is. Charlie's there because it's in his county, it all fell in his lap and he needs something to do. So Dale & Neumy, please limit your discussions to sports, because in the same way I'm not going to Old Country Buffet for dieting tips, I'm not going to sports radio for perp psychology class.

   Course if I waited 14 shootings to talk about this at all, I may as well get my money's worth.

   • These have to be both the best and worst times to work for an all-news network like CNN. Not having to air filler stories must be nice, but at the same time, the actual moments after a shooting where no one knows anything are incredibly pointless. A lot of looking at Paula Zahn's blank face and, "Well, we're still waiting for word on anything, so stay tuned to this camera shot of an empty basketball court."

   • Tonight's statement included Moose saying something the sniper apparently requested vocalized: "We have caught the sniper like a duck in a noose." This could mean many things. The sniper could like to eat duck, possibly of the Peking variety, which I hear is very tasty. This would probably mean he's French, who like to eat fucked up things like duck. It's also possible he likes choking things, possibly while he masturbates (as in autoerotic asphyxiation)

   However it's most likely the sniper is sitting in his house, or wherever he may choose to live, laughing like an idiot because he just got a chief of police to read, "We have caught the sniper like a duck in a noose," on about eight networks live.

   • I'm done with things to say about the sniper, but since I like to always have three points, this one's filler: Kevin Kennedy of FOX Sports (and formerly of the Red Sox) has a neck and lower face with more pock marks than yours and my ass combined. And as I have none, that's a real compliment for each of you!

"I don't know who the porn crew was. They followed some kids back from class, and they made a video on our floor. College is crazy."
-- Just another tough day at America's number one party school.
Always a delightful chat, Andi. Now finish your coffee.

October 22, 2002 - Happy Birthday Dad!
   • Why I enjoy working the news wires at the office.

   One of the few times I look like I know how to do my job. I was taught very well how to work the wires, and since no one else on the desk really enjoys doing it, I'm the number one fill-in.

   Getting in at 4 means getting out at midnight. Major bonus over sitting at work until Last Call ... the TV show more than the drinking buzzer. We've yet to hit that low.

   The actual involvement with actual important news. Sniper stories? Iraq? Martha Stewart? Wait, these aren't bake sales at the Westport Library! Having the whole inside cover to my whim, from stories to photos, doesn't hurt either.

   The actual involvement with sometimes humourous, sometimes disturbing, off-the-wall news. A 15-year-old was arrested in R.I. for raping a 41-year-old, and the AP won't name the teenager, despite the fact that he's a FUCKING RAPIST. Though my first question was, "How exactly does a 41-year-old allow themselves to be raped by a teen?"

   But today, my favorite part about working the wires has to be ...

Not having to start today's update with, "So, someone broke into my car last night."

   Looking back, I was extremely fortunate, given the only thing taken from my unblemished car was about $1.25 in change. Still, it shook me for almost the entire drive to Babson... I can't even fathom a reality where someone does this to someone else. I'm obviously naive, but it's how I was raised. You just don't go into someone else's property and take something that's not yours.

   Really, one of my first thoughts about the whole thing was that someone who was desperate enough to break into a car for a buck and a quarter probably needed it a lot more than I did. But given my glove box and cup holders were opened, papers were flung everywhere and the center console was emptied, Linguica Q. Fuckface went home unhappy.

   So to clarify: I was an hour hate to the radio show, the archive's broken (so you can't listen) and the guy who runs the Media Watch attached to my column a description completely in opposition to what the entire thing is about. My being a "Drew Bledsoe fan" doesn't matter, Bruce, because the whole column is about how people have to let that go.

   But Wednesday, I get paid and Meg works day number one at London's Sunday Independent. Hope always springs eternal, my friends.

   So as you may notice, I missed about half of the radio show today for reasons you'd both assume and we'll get into this evening. Unfortunately for me, it was the half of the show I may have had the most to say.

   Thus, my take on the 14 topics which I missed on today's "Pardon The Blatant Ripoff."

   1. The World Series offensive explosion - expected or not? These are two teams that are in it all the time -- they're playing as hard in a tie game as they are in a 5-0 one. With offense being the catalyst for today's baseball (juiced or not), it's not surprising these two teams are feeding off each other's intensity and pouring it on til the final out.

   2. Starting pitching - problem for one team more than another? This whole series may boil down to tonight's Game Three. Livan Hernandez is the Giants' most reliable October starter (6-0 in his career) and Ramon Ortiz is the Angel most prone to the long ball (40 given up this season). If the Giants lose tonight, they're in deep trouble.

   3. Will somebody wake up Jeff Kent? One for nine with three K's thusfar, and no reason to think he's coming around.

   4. Now a best of five series - what's that mean? San Fran now has the home-field advantage (three of the five), but it's going to be much easier for Anaheim to win one on the road than it will be for San Fran win their second at Edison. This Series may come down to little more than Anaheim's drawing home field.

   5. Baseball's greatest moment - does anyone care? Everyone has their own - trying to create a consensus is going to do nothing more than anger people who felt theirs was snubbed. Besides, Gibson's home run in 1988 is the best, and that's that.

   6. Based on FOX's incessant promos, what fall show are you the most sick of? Personally, I'm sick of FOX 25 in Boston's news teasers -- "One local suburb's drinking water just might kill you at first sip. WE'LL TELL YOU WHOSE IT IS AFTER THE GAME."

   7. What's happened to the Oakland Raiders? The loss of Charlie Garner to injury and misuse. He is the catalyst to that offense the same Marshall Faulk is for the Rams. Sunday he only got 14 touches ... he needs to be in that offense almost every play. Course, their wins coming against Seattle, pre-Maddox Pittsburgh, Tennessee and defense-less Buffalo doesn't hurt.

   8. What's up with the San Diego Chargers? 6-1?! Great defense wins games. Junior Seau is a Ray Lewis-like presence for them - he keeps everyone up and is spectacular at times. Throw in a competent offense and building confidence, and they could be very dangerous.

   9. Are the Saints for real? Absolutely. Solid on offense with Aaron Brooks and Deuce McAllister, plus an incredibly weak schedule on the way in - two with Atlanta and Carolina, Cleveland, Minnesota, Cincinnati ... this team's playoff bound without question, barring injuries.

   10. Are the Cardinals for real? No way. Talk to me after they've played two with St. Louis, Oakland, San Fran and at Denver, K.C. and Philly.

   11. Cris Carter signs a one year deal with Miami - what does this add? A guy who we knew wouldn't stay retired. He did what he had to to get out of Minnesota, to feed his ego, and now striked when the iron's hot. Something tells me he'll be in game shape off the blocks. He brings tested experience to a team prone to fade in crunch time. Huge pickup for them, if they can get their QB situation straightened out.

   12. Brett Favre hurt - what does this mean for Green Bay? He likely won't miss any time, given he won't need an operation and has a bye week to heal, but it reminds there may be no team in the league that could be hurt more by the loss of a player than Green Bay losing Favre. He is that team right now.

   13. BCS rankings out - do they mean anything? Very little, other than Oklahoma having it all in their hands now (versus Miami). There's going to be some sweating by the bigwigs until Norte Dame loses a game, because looking at the numbers, the Irish could go 12-0 and not make the national title game. Should that happen, withe the way this team has been capturing the nation, there'll be a BCS backlash like none ever before.

   14. Eight unbeatens left in D-1 - who's got the best shot at the Fiesta Bowl? Oklahoma looks solid. I think Miami loses a game before their matchup with Virginia Tech, but maybe beat the Hokies to keep them both out of the big game. I really like Notre Dame or Ohio State to thus jump into the mix, both because of the way they play and how they're getting better each week. Never underestimate the power of momentum.

   I must say, being introduced as "Sports columnist at The New Bedford Standard-Times" was a rush that made two hours of highway gridlock well worth the trip.

   Dude, I do have a high level of narcissism. Figured I'd give you a little more substance to read on a Tuesday morning, that's all.

October 21, 2002 - Taking All The Way
   Today's Disturbing Fact That Isn't So Surprising: American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson's CD single, A Moment Like This, has sold about 500,000 copies, or roughly FIVE TIMES the 105,000 copies of Oasis' latest album, Heathen Chemistry, that have been sold in the U.S.

   There's slipping, then there's tumbling on ice and cracking your skull open.

   • We'll have to keep it brief because like all columnists in Boston, I've secured myself a sports radio gig for the week. Tomorrow, you can hear your favorite New Bedford-based BU alumnus on Babson College Radio, making a guest appearance on Mark Coen and Chris Mason's sports morning show, "Pardon The Blatant Ripoff."

   The show runs from 7-9 a.m., which is a little early for you college kids and morning workers, but there's an audio archive as well. Here's hoping it actually works tomorrow.

   And speaking of that column...

Pining For Drew Doesn't Do Much Good
-- In hindsight, the Eason column might have been better how it came out. And in foresight, I haven't liked a column this much since the original one on the baseball strike.

October 20, 2002 - And I Had A Spare Ticket!
   • I've sat here staring at the screen for hours, trying to describe just what I saw today. I want to encapsulate it: make it brief, but capture it.

   I just can't do it.

   Sixty-one thousand, three hundred sixteen people, the largest crowd ever for an MLS Cup (or any soccer game in New England), sat in the cold and watched two teams play in the Super Bowl of their sport. It was the kind of game that both shows soccer's growth as a sport in America, and shows why it will never make it to the mainstream. Scoreless for the first half hour. Then the second. Then the third.

   The L.A. Galaxy, clearly the better team today, just couldn't get anything strung together. Their rushes were cut off, their players muscled. The Revolution struggled to get anything going offensively all day, ending up with just one official shot on net for almost two hours of soccer. Yet it was the highest of tension, because all it was going to take was one, and the Revs were crumbling.

   From about the seventy-fifth minute on, it became abundantly clear the only way New England was winning the Cup was if they captialized on a mistake, or managed to get the game to penalty kicks. As the time ticked on, and the soccer savvy crowd sensed this, it got louder. The chants went a little longer and had a little more urgency. Every ball past midfield was a big deal to both sides. "Shoot! Shoot!" For corner kicks, everyone stood without question or complaint.

   It kept getting louder as the clock ticked past ninety, one hundred, then 110 minutes. The roars for the simple awarding of corners would now from outside passed as football cheers. At the 113:00 mark, the Revolution got a corner kick right below our seats in the second deck. Things appraoched deafening. Bob Kraft was shown on the big screen, standing and clapping as hard as anyone.

   The ball was sent in, bounced around and came to the head of Revolution substitute Winston Griffiths. Had there been the time, I'm sure myself, Simon, Jon Rea and Matty would have formulated the comment, "Holy shit, that ball's on net!"


   Other way.

   Cross to Carlos Ruiz, league MVP.


   Galaxy win 1-0, just seven minutes short of penalties. We were out of the stadium before the L.A. players had even finished mobbing the goal scorer. We were on the concourse almost before the Guatemalan Galaxy fans in front of us had even registered a goal had been scored. It was just so sudden ... the crowd went from near euphoria to this eerie vacuum in about thirty seconds. Just complete shocked silence, to the point of being able to hear the players celebrating on the field hundreds of feet away.

   It was the kind of emotions you can't put into words and you can't describe. It swept you up, made you care more as the stakes got higher, even if you didn't quite enjoy what you were watching. It was sports at its finest - why we pay $45 for a ticket, $25 to park and $6.75 for a beef brisket sandwich.

   To say that about a soccer game, now, I think that's something. Especially when a Sunday doesn't feature a single second of the NFL.

October 19, 2002 - The Size Of That Platform
   While at Homecoming today like a good alumni, I did more with floatbuilding than I did in four years as an undergrad. I ate chowder, derided Basketball Rhett as an imposter and gave some stupid long point to everyone I saw that I knew.

   Yet what left me most troubled was seeing a skinny father walking with his fat son. Skinny-skinny, fat-fat, even fat-skinny isn't that far out of believeability. But something about skinny-fat seemed both foreign and wrong.

   Maybe I'm reaching though. They both looked like very nice people.

   • October 2, 1998 - I've been living in Boston for almost exactly one month. As the MLB Playoffs begin, I make the twenty minute walk to Fenway to investigate the scene. On a last loop around the park before heading home, I notice the old brick ticket windows at Gate A are strangely manned. I wander up with a $20 in my pocket, and get myself a bleacher seat to a game that's been sold out for weeks.

   Easily my greatest spontaneous sporting moment. Ended up sitting next to three random guys who essentially forced me to drink their smuggled rum in the seventh innings. Hard times.

   Indians pitcher Charles Nagy pitches eight innings of four hit ball. Red Sox pitcher Bret Saberhagen nearly matches him, pitching seven innings of four hit ball. Problem being, three of the Indian hits were solo home runs. A fourth, by Manny Ramirez in the ninth, proved to be the game winner. Boston wins its first playoff game in a dozen years, but Cleveland would go on to win the series the following night. Indians 4, Red Sox 3.

   • October 17, 1999 - The Sox split the first two games of the ALCS in New York, and were a Jason Varitek fielding error from being up three games to none after Pedro beat Roger in a 13-1 thrashing.

   Bret Saberhagen again pitched well, but left after six innings down 3-2. That was the score in the bottom of the eighth when Jose Offerman gutted an infield single with one out. John Valentin then hit a grounder to second ... and whiffed on the tag. He was called out regardless, leading to a literal riot.

   Yankees scored six in the top of the ninth. The next day's Boston Herald ran a front page photo of Knoblauch missing Offerman but at least a foot and a half. Yet we were the villians for throwing a few batteries. Yankees 9, Red Sox 2.

   • October 18, 1999 - Down three games to one, Derek Jeter's two-run homer in the first was all the Yanks would need. It was 4-0 after seven, 6-1 in the bottom of the ninth, and at no point was the outcome ever in doubt.

   This remains the only time I've ever cried after a sporting event I wasn't actually playing in. Yankees 6, Red Sox 1.

   Three playoff games, three massive failures for the good guys. We'll shake it up a little tomorrow, through venue and medium, because if the home team is playing a championship game in your own backyard, it's really your duty to get out and wave the flag.

   I'm not going to delude myself and claim Revolution fandom ... I'm just slightly less a bandwagoneer than many. Still, as a wise writer once said before, it's the only way any Couture is getting into The Blade in 2002.

   • October 20, 2002 - MLS Cup 2002 - New England Revolution vs. Los Angeles Galaxy. To be continued.

October 18, 2002 - Needs A Pinch More Jump
   Read this, as linked from Matt Bruce's blog. It bears reading.

   Then read this, as cribbed from a fluffish press release run in yesterday S-T

"Pizza will be provided by Papa Gino's, a major sponsor in fire prevention activities throughout Massachusetts."

   Both are disturbing, yet any further attempts to connect them by importance or substance will make your brain explode and/or your credibility with friends wane.

   • It should not be lost on anyone that I'm really not that good at my job. My actual job, not the thing thing I might be good at that will maybe one day be my job. Aside from suspect grammar skills, a lot of the stories I read on a daily basis are of no real personal interest to me. Cop stories, budget stories, feel-good feature stories ... they don't carry any weight with me because, really, I don't really feel like I belong in New Bedford. It's essentially me (and tangentally Lisa, until she graduates), out in the wild, for an indefinite period. Until I can grasp something and call it my own, I'm really going to struggle to think of myself as a New Bedfordite.

   Don't think for a minute I'm blowing off the fact that I'm not good at copy editing. It kills me, because I know I'm better than an empty desk to the rest of the staff, but really only by the default of being human and semi-functional as such.

   Tonight was one of those watershed nights in a lot of ways, but centrally, in this way:

BU 1 - 1 Vermont
Watching on TV just isn't the same.

@ BU - 10/19/02
1 (14)
0 (10)
0 (14)
0 (5)
1 (43)
0 (7)
1 (6)
0 (11)
0 (2)
1 (26)

   • The boys played on, as they've done for all the rest of you BU grads.

   Granted, the Terriers were already 1-0-1 before tonight, but this is when the season actually began. The home opener, in front of what looked to be pretty decent numbers in old WBA.

   The 3,806 in the box score confirming said suspicion.

   New freshman and new advertising aside, it seemed as though I never left. BU dominates in shots, yet can't score on the power play or stop a hot goalie. It would have been my freshman year all over again, had Sean Fields not made some great stops in the final ten minutes.

   The one plus of watching on TV was the intermission discussion of Jack Parker's thirty years behind the bench, followed by drawings of the new Harry Agannis Arena. I would drool if I thought I'd be able to get tickets to a game once it opens. Course, the minuses of having to watch in silence and not really being able to get a feel for anything trumped those across the board.

   There's always the Beanpot, in those overpriced club seats. I've spoiled myself forever.

   This was all set to be the entirely depressed "life not in college sucks" update until my boss laced his "You really have to more careful about proofreading stuff" chat with "Yeah, there's a good chance you can have that week off around New Year's." Hasn't been an upset this large since Kirby Puckett started practicing the Barroom Breaststroke.

   Look, if they're going to put golf in the Olympics, they should at least balance it with sports people will want to watch.

October 17, 2002 - Much Better Than Kansas
   • So I took this personality test...


-- Click Here To Take The Test --

   ... and while I never would have thought my biggest problem would be narcissism, allow me to throw more wood on the fire.

   Some of my columns are also getting mention on the Boston Sports Media Watch, as proven with this entry. While it does look to be a rather thorough listing of all the sportswriting done by the local papers, they're not mentioning everybody at the S-T - as there's no working archives, the only ones up at press time are Jon Comey, Tim Weisberg and myself, and my awful Pats column made it over my slightly less awful Angels column of 10/8.

   And while I can't say for sure, I'm willing to bet every other writer on there passed 22 years old a long time ago.

   Damn, bragging is fun sometimes! But it's over for today.

   This, just so you all know, is a good example of how to be a major dick.

   Minutes before Boston was to announce Macworld, the biggest jewel in the Apple trade show universe, was coming back to Boston (after leaving it for Gotham in 1998), Apple sends out a little meaningless memo.

"Apple disagrees with this decision, and will not be participating in Macworld Boston."

   Personally I don't really care, because I would have neither attended Macworld nor are intimately connected to Boston landing huge trade shows, but this just strikes me as one of the most immature moves a corporation could make. We're talking "telling your friend's mom you caught him picking up a cigarette off the ground and trying to smoke it" stuff.

   It's likely Apple may have a very good reason for being cranky. Maybe leaving New York would give the impression they're a rinky-dink company that's still, after all this time, sort of a kitschy, eccentric product. And that they're floating facedown like everyone else in the tech sector. But still, some sort of reasoning would have been nice, rather than pouting via press release.

   So New York City wins another one. That's the real story here, and if this is going to get talked about on the Red Line, that's why. Boston and New York City are rivals, you see. Well, sort of. Like most rivalries, there's really only one side that cares: the losers.

   Northeastern University considers Boston University it's main rival, and thus defames us any chance it gets. We don't really like NU, but we think our rival is Boston College. BC doesn't really like us at BU, but they think their rival is Notre Dame. It's pretty likely that Notre Dame doesn't really like BC, but that they think their rival is USC or soimebody else like that. It's a cycle of displaced hate, and really, isn't that what college is all about after excessive drinking and learning to shop for your own groceries?

   Boston is not New York City, and it never will be. It's not as cosmopolitan, it's not as central to the media, it's not a million things that New York City is. But what often gets lost in all this is that some of those million things are actual positives. Like "not as urine smelling on the subways" or "not as crime riddled on the subways" or "not as close to New Jersey." The people who live in Boston actually probably like it here because it's not New York City. If they wanted to live there, they would.

   At this point, I have to figure rents on Beacon Hill and in Manhattan are approaching neck and neck.

   So what if Apple doesn't come to Macworld Boston? Everyone just calm down... all it means is there'll be less people wandering in front of traffic with iPod's in their ears. Like Boston drivers need something else to hit in the roadways.

   My parents were up in the city to take Matt back to school after the long weekend. Mom told me they saw a road rage story fully unfold between a box truck driver and a guy in a car, complete with drivers threatening violence and getting out of their vehicles. She seemed to say it with fear, a whole "what if he had a gun?" scenario. Yet I know I would have just sat there, desperately wanting to start screaming out the window and honking the horn for dramatic effect.

   We're different like that.

October 16, 2002 - Don't Feed The Sluts!
   We'd like to thank pornographic spam for today's update title. Really, let's thank them for the whole update, because for whatever reason I'm getting them in droves.

   Before the comments start, "whatever reason" does not include "looking at pornongraphy."

   • Perhaps the only thing better than life imitating art is life imitating The Simpsons.

Employee Sues Costco Over Eyebrow Ring
A Costco worker fired for wearing an eyebrow ring has filed a $2 million against the retailer. Kimberly Cloutier of West Springfield claims in her federal suit that the eyebrow ring symbolized her religious beliefs in the Oregon-based Church of Body Modification. A federal anti-discrimination commission found in May that the company's West Springfield store probably violated religious discrimination laws in firing Cloutier in 2001. A lawyer for Costco says the company has done nothing wrong and did not discriminate against Cloutier.

-- Thanks to Charlie for the reminder.

   So Homer started his own religion because it was cold, he ripped his church pants and got to enjoy wizzing with the door open and Moon Waffles while his family was gone. Ms. Cloutier, who got front page coverage in Wednesday's Springfield Union-News, must have had some similar reason for straying from the flock.

   If you go to http://www.churchofbodymod.org/, the reason seems simple enough ... she's interested in lending money to developing countries. You know your church is doing well when loan companies start buying assumed Web spaces for it.

   According to the church's actual site, the CBM is "a nondenominational congregation that teaches ownership over our own bodies. The Church's purpose is for our modified society to harmoniously return to its spiritual roots that have been forgotten." As you might expect, the general gist is to connect people who pierce/modify themselves as a essential part of their spirituality. I'd read more, but there's a picture of a kid with round glasses and a nose hoop that's giving me the eyes.

   As much as I want to mock this lawsuit, I really can't given I can't find the whole story on Mass Live's needlessly complicated Web site. While I wouldn't imagine the Church membership a) ever came up in a job application or b) was mentioned at the time of firing, I can't really know for sure. All I can say is I'm reasonably certain this girl has mush for brains.

   I am entirely certain, however, that the Union-News has far more money than they know what to do with. In the toughest time for newspapers in the past decade, the comapny built a huge addition to their downtown offices, including a glassed-in printing press. So now when you're driving in to the city after getting off the Mass Turnpike, you see the skyline behind a humongous, well-lit printing press.

   And if Ms. Cloutier really is being oppressed here in America, I hear Sealand is lovely this time of year.

   Now, I've always referred to this as Cooch's World, but if I could only get the paperwork filed to make my apartment it's own nation state...

October 15, 2002 - No Showers Since Sunday
   • Desperation brings odd things to your doorstep.

   It's funny how I can hit a topic dead-on with a column, yet just entirely hate the entire way it's formed. This week was the kind of piece if I'd had the time to blow it up and start over, it would have been helped.

   But since I really don't need to spend another day talking about football betting anguish, let's crack this one out of the cellar.

Court Overturns Alabama Sex Toy Ruling

   MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- A federal appeals court overturned a ruling that had found Alabama’s ban on the sale of sex toys unconstitutional and sent the case back the lower court to reconsider.

   U.S. District Judge Lynwood Smith of Huntsville ruled last year that legislators had no legitimate interest in passing the law. The judge described the law as "overly broad" and said it violates due process rights because it bears no "rational relation to a legitimate state interest."

   A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday disagreed with that ruling, saying the law "is rationally related to the state’s legitimate government interest in public morality."

   In sending the case back to Smith, the panel told the judge to consider whether the law might be unconstitutional for other reasons.

   Their ruling said Smith had "analyzed neither whether our nation has a deeply rooted history of state interference, or state non-interference, in the private sexual activity of married or unmarried heterosexual persons nor whether contemporary practice bolsters or undermines any such history."

   Attorney General Bill Pryor said Saturday that he was pleased with the ruling. "Our duty is to defend the laws of Alabama," he said.

   The statute deems selling or distributing "any obscene material or any device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs" to be a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $10,000 fine.

   The law was challenged by six women who either sell sex aids or said they needed them for sexual gratification. The spokeswoman for the group, shop owner Sheri Williams, could not be reached for comment Saturday.

   The law hasn’t been enforced, pending completion of the legal challenge.

   Now. I've had to read sopme state statutes for various classes in the past. The most interesting stuff I'd found prior to now is Massachusetts' listing of official state symbols, which include Johnny Appleseed ("State Folkhero"), the Boston Terrier ("State Dog"), Dinosaur Tracks ("State Fossil") and the Corn Muffin (duh, the "State Muffin").

   Props, however, should be delivered posthaste to Mobile Bay, because somewhere in a pile of legalese and Latin, Alabama managed to bury the phrase, "useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs." Somewhere, there's an out-of-state intern giggling.

   If only because they needed to specify "human" genitals.

October 14, 2002 - For The Record
   • You know it's your kind of long weekend when the only phone call you get from a friend is during the single period you were out of the house. Thank goodness I'm not easily depressed or anything.

   Now, on to the gratuitous use of logos.

   There has been some question, both in the past and currently, of possible bandwagon jumping by The World. I will readily admit that in certain postseasons where I have no rooting interest, I will attach myself to a team. However, that's not what we're talking about here.

   Speaking on behalf of Cooch's World, we will now clarify.

Red Sox Patriots Giants Whalers
Boston Red Sox (MLB), New England Patriots (NFL), New York Giants (NFL), Hartford Whalers (NHL)

   These would be the primary rooting interests. Please note there are no basketball teams here, and the only hockey team no longer exists. Also note the Whaler logo will be the wrong size only until I get back to New Bedford to fix it.

   There is little these teams could do to get themselves removed from the pantheon, as the Whale's lack of an existence clearly shows. The Red Sox were placed on probation for the 2001-02 offseason, but other than that, even extended periods of sucking would be tolerated. I have too many articles of clothing involving these teams to try to work around them wardrobe-wise.

   Football has lapped all other sports in interest, though this is shaping up to be the best World Series since last year.

Rockies    Angels    Dodgers

Flames    Bruins    Celtics
Colorado Rockies (MLB), Anaheim Angels (MLB), Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB)
Calgary Flames (NHL), Boston Bruins (NHL), Boston Celtics (NBA)

   Now, here's where it gets a little more hazy. There's some sort of a player/city connection to these six, but their hold is significantly looser. I like them, but not to the point I'd cry if they moved to, say, North Carolina.

   I've been a fan of the Rockies since their existence, for reasons I can't really fully grasp. The Angels and Dodgers have obvious SoCal connections, though I find myself more drawn to the underdog. The Flames replaced the Colorado Avalanche, who blew six years of intense (in hockey terms) fandom by trading away Saint Drury of Trumbull. The Bruins and Celtics, well, you know. The New England Revolution would be here too, but seven is an odd number and there's no MLS logos I can rip off ESPN.com

   Teams kind of pass in and out of that lower six, given players and time periods and extraneous circumstances and such. Off the top of my head, former top ten teams include the Colorado Avalanche, Seattle Mariners, Atlanta Braves, Houston Astros, Indianapolis Colts, Indiana Pacers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Minnesota North Stars, Quebec Nordiques, Phoenix Coyotes, Los Angeles Kings, Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers.

   Used to like pro hockey a whole lot more, you see.

   An actual update, written with actual effort, will return tomorrow.

Patriots Dealing With New Reality
-- I'm pissed - Tony Eason isn't supposed to be named until the fourth paragraph, so the reader can draw the comparison to Tom Brady better. Course I'm not that pissed, because if the column is going to get fucked up at any point, I'd rather it be one I really didn't like much anyway.

October 13, 2002 - Scrambling In The Rain
   • 1979. The last time an 0-5 team (the N.Y. Giants) beat a team at least 4-0 (the 5-0 Buccaneers). Course the 0-5 team then probably wasn't starting a third-string quarterback, after having quit halfway their game the previous week, against a team scoring 41 points a game.

   It has stopped being fun, and thus, it's likely reached its end. People should not think the things I did about the Rams tonight.

   But there is solace to be had.

October 12, 2002 - I Sneezed Crap On My Hand
   To be sung to the tune of Something Corporate's "I Woke Up In A Car." If you know not of which I speak, I highly suggest you go C Jordan, even if he is pretty weak for an opening single.

   • Barry Bonds, meet George Gray. He may look a little fruity, but the kid could teach you a thing or two about effort.

   You see, Barry Bonds is falling prey to what I've called the Weakest Link Principle. I call it such because as the greatest hitter in the Major Leagues, Barry can relate to the smartest contestant on each episode of TWL.

   The smartest one usually doesn't win, because they're exposed. After three rounds of being the Strongest Link and generally treating all else with disdain, they're always voted off in the round of three -- the remaining stupid contestants would rather battle each other than someone who'll obviously take them out behind the barn and violate freely. So to win as the smart guy on TWL, you either have to get a stupid contestant to ignorantly not vote you off or trick people into thinking you'r dumber than you are.

   Is it fair? No. Is life? No. You see the connection? I hope so.

   Maybe telling a superstar to dog it won't go over in the press, but this is a guy who was intentionally walked 68 times in a 162 game season. Next highest count? Thirty-two. Odds are Barry's going to be lethal, especially now that the juice * has him over his playoff fears, so why wouldn't you walk him? Because you're stupid, like when the ex-cheerleader leaves the doctoral candidate in for the final showdown.

   * - Barry Bonds probably isn't on the juice. It's the joke though... you see a muscular baseball player, you just make it. It's like how my father said "Alllllrighty then..." for about two years after an initial viewing of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. You don't ask questions, you just move on.

   All I'm saying is go single-happy for a little while, BB. Thank me later. Least this way, you won't have to depend on your 75-year old follow-up in the order, Benito Santiago. He looks like the guy in the YMCA weight room no one ever walks near. See!

   But that game only had the corner of my eye. The rest went to the surrogate, who now stand just a breath away from the World Series. Yet, how haunting must it be for longtime Angel fans to see the words, "Angels just one victory from World Series," written anywhere except the inside of their minds?

   In 1986, it was 3-1. They were one win away, with Game Five at home. They lost as dramatically as possible, not out of the realm here, and a decimated side was trounced twice by the Olde Towne Team. How 3-1 became 3-4... I've only been a fan for 14 months, and it's making my stomach quiver.

   But to see that stadium full, to see a city not so much jumping on the bandwagon after years away, but discovering something they'd so long never had... I love it. It's when sports become so much more than sticks and balls and drunk Bob Lobel sitting in an anchor chair, ranting at a TV camera.

   Tonight, as a scoreless game rapidly became a 7-0 one, there was a kid, had to be about eight, standing at the base of the stairs behind home plate, dressed in a full monkey costume. As the Angels rallied, as the Rally Monkey appeared again and again and again, this kid kept standing there watching... excited, but not really knowing what to do. As the scoreless tie was finally broken, Edison Field erupted, and a man who I presume to be this kid's father came over to him and lifted him onto his shoulders.

   The little monkey just starting waving his arms in the air and thumping his chest. As excited and happy as he possibly could be.

   I'm almost losing it just typing this.

   I don't know why it's hitting me like it is, but the sight of that boy being so happy absolutely made my entire night. And the fact that the networks will keep showing it over and over again in game highlights... when I think back to this baseball season, every time I see a highlight of the Angels, I'm going to think of that little boy and how happy he was to see his team winning.

   Close it out, gang. At home. Sunday. The VCR will be rolling, without a doubt.

October 11, 2002 - The Thirteen Month Anniversary...
   • Barely a whisper of press coverage to boot! What, you're all sick of being patriotic already?

   Well the news has been pretty packed, since a fine Capitol District citizen played one too many games of Grand Theft Auto 3. Not trying to make light of what is one of the most gruesome murder sprees in some time, but it's to the point where you just can't rationalize it anymore. Ten people shot, and nothing. There's no pattern to the victims, no time of day, no skin color preference, just that same white van.

"She said she kept her four children out of school and the words they are telling her have become increasingly desperate: 'My 8-year-old said to me: 'If it's our time to go, it's our time to go, so why can't we just go on with our lives?'"
-- Sounds like pretty good advice to me.

   This is a person, or persons for all we know, clearly getting his jollies from the police and public begging for him to stop. Laying out a Tarot card reading "I am God," being indiscriminate, killing someone else just as the fervor of the prevoius dies down... this is a person who was in a life situation where they had no control, and are now clearly basking in being the puppeteer.

   We watched a short film in my Media Law & Ethics class way back that I'm reminded of. It was based in Australia, on the set of a morning-type news show. A hostage taker placed a phone call to the set, wanting to read a message on the air. I forget the exact details, but the anchorperson, after being forced into doing this live on TV, managed to talk the person down, saving he and the hostage. As expected, the anchor went from trepidation to being lauded as a hero.

   The crux of the movie became the role of the press in it all. The anchor went from fearful to coverboy on every major publication. Before too long, into the pantheon of the world's fine broadcasters. All it took was taking advantage of one little story, and one lucky break.

   Later, the network went out of their way to circumvent the police and get through to a bank robber. They may have done a similar thing for the first call, my memory's fuzzy, but they clearly overstepped their bounds the second time round. Australia's finest anchor was more than happy to take it in studio. The antagonist was quickly assured he was on live, in front of the whole country.

   Gunshot. Ashen-faced anchor. Credits roll.

   I just get the sense that soon, it's going to be even a little more real.

October 10, 2002 - Slightly Above Minimum Effort
   • Meg, it should be announced, officially completed her Boston University graduation requirements today, so good work by her. While she prepares to spend a week in Paris, Florence and Venice, Cooch's World will maintain it's official stance of the semester.

   Teeth grinding, behind a forced yet sincere smile.

   Let's be honest... how do you people muster the strength to, not even just be my friend, but listen to me each day? I often wonder what, if were floating roughly 10 feet off the ground observing myself, my reaction to myself would be.

   The answer usually involves shooting, because if you're at the point where you're floating in midair, a little murder probably isn't going to slow you down any.

   Tonight, I was told I could "stand to put on a little muscle." True statement, as anyone who has seen me can attest. Possibly something one could take as a little motivation, maybe even use as a way to get more generally active and out of the apartment.

   Instead, depressed me for a good piece of the night. Only the magic of nightly writing and calming of the workplace makes this sort of self-reflection possible.

   Just don't understand it, in the same way I don't understand the following bits and pieces:

   • ABC Family Channel, discovered recently by baseball fans (expanding the audience well beyond World's Funniest Home Videos watchers), will be showing "Criss Angel: Mindfreak" and "The Scariest Places On Earth" for Halloween. Carnal acts of magic? A guy standing crucified? Pentagrams aplenty? Get the kids, hunnie, and bring the baby in from the car!

   • The GHO is on the clock?! If my PGA tournament can't raise $4 million in a month, it'll lose it's spot on the TOUR?! Some of the biggest crowds in golf each year, and New England corpa-whores Verizon and Fleet aren't stepping up on buy distressed property? Dunkin Donuts just bought the Providence Civic Center, for Christ sakes!

   • Girls Gone Wild. She makes a face. She pulls up her shirt. She jiggles her breasts at the camera. Perhaps she kisses another girl. Exactly which part of the legitimate arousal am I missing? Yeah, a breast. Am I touching it? No. And we move.

   I will never be Daryl. I care, but not enough to lift heavy shit in the proper form and frequency to build any bulk. The only soution to scrawniness in my universe involves the menu at Chick-fil-A.

   Mmm... now that takes me back to Nashua... you guys still out there?

October 9, 2002 - They're 'Admirable' Angels!
   • I had an urge to play a game of Monopoly earlier today. So I played one. It's gone now.

   A passing fancy can go with something like a game of Monopoly. Even if a short match taken an hour to play, the impact of it won't be earth shaking -- even to the people of Mediterranean Avenue, who were uplifted by the computer player who built a $250 a stay hotel on it. Truth be told, a college newspaper story won't be changing the world anytime soon either. But it can, in the screwed-up psyche of the press-hating masses, throw some more arrows in the quiver.

   "Arrows in the quiver" comment is a direct result of Comedy Central's 3 p.m. showing of Robin Hood: Men in Tights. May I just say, Amy Yasbeck of "Wings" fame has never even come close to looking so good again. The lack of attractive supporting cast was easily at a factor of ten in Mel Brooks' Rottingham Forest.

   Dateline, Washington State University!

"Carrying the headline, "Filipino-American history recognized," the Oct. 3 story began by describing ceremonies held in Pullman a day earlier to kick off Filipino-American History Month. Several paragraphs into the piece, however, material copied verbatim from a Web site was included as historical background.

A portion of the material was incorrectly translated from Spanish to English. It read in part: "On Oct. 18, 1857, the first Filipinos landed on the shores of Morro Bay, California, on a Spanish galleon called the Nuestra Señora de Buena Esperanza, which translates to 'The Big Ass Spanish Boat.'"

   Now, I couldn't get a reporting job with college newspaper experience. I have a wide variety of form letter responses and specially-crafted letdowns making it clear collegiate journalism is no more than the pathway to getting an internship, which one day might be parlayed into a reporting position.

   That this all worked out the way I wanted it to in the end should be conveniently ignored for full effect.

   This story will likely be used, by the public and possibly those in hiring positions, to generally defame the collegiate press. That bugs me, even if I can't be bothered to read much of today's DFP. It's the same reason I don't read the Denver Post every day -- the news they're reporting doesn't affect me like the news in New Bedford might. That's not to say the work college kids isn't as valid as the news reporting that I read on a daily basis.

   Tonight I read stories about Town Meeting votes, decisions on early retirement policies and the like, there's no reason I shouldn't have at least gotten a try-out at anything above the new weekly on ass-East, Long Island, that gave me one.

   And on the subject of daily local news traffic, at no point should a reporter use "fait accompli" and expect more than ten percent of his readership to have any clue what he's talking about. If newswriting is about not being fancy and just informing the public, Alan Trammell might have a job for you.

   After 22 years never coming across this Latin phrase, it then assured its place in the update when a 1991 Saturday Night Live sketch aired on Comedy Central used it as well. Of course, mentioning such a fact to an audience heavy in law school graduates probably isn't the greatest choice.

   Course, complaining about a newspaper's lack of proofreading and accountability in a format which features multiple spelling errors every day... that's a whole hypocrita, isn't it?

   Don't think I'm ignoring the fact that a bunch of Washington State journalism students ran an article translating something as "The Big Ass Spanish Boat." I mean come on, sometimes it's just too easy. Sometimes you just don't want to mock the Drew Bledsoe School of Journalism, where all involved will now grow an official "Losing The Will To Live" beard.

October 8, 2002 - Wrote Me A Letter
"Real time data is sent as it happens in real time so this monitoring system will be sending information constantly at an unknown cost to the vessel."
-- From the main letter on one of the editorial pages today, as printed on my desk before proofing. This exact sentence was in an argument meant to sway people's opinions. It reached the point I'd made so many corrections to this person's letter, I felt guilty and stopped. For real.

   • We have a new Managing Editor at the paper, come to us from the Boston Herald. He met me today, as opposed to me meeting him... walked over to my desk with a "I don't believe I've met you yet." Upon hearing my name, first thing he said is, "Oh, the kid who wrote the sports column today about the Angels."

   Cha-ching. Exactly how I want to be known. All the better to someday get paid for said text under headshot. Course once the glee from that passed, my face turned red because a guy fresh off the city desk in Boston was reading my stuff.

   Course, every social situation with someone knew makes me face red. If those of you who know me think back far enough, you'll find yours. It's a rite of passage.

   I still don't know how to react to someone saying they like my writing. There's a fine line between spitting on a fan and drooling all over his shoes (and down his throat, if you really want to thank them.) I'm just not sure how my "Wow. Thank you very much," falls on the timeline, though it's probably close to the mark.

   He said, aside from liking it, that it "kept him reading" and was a blend of a sports column, a news column and a lifestyle column. That ranks right up there with one of my coworkers telling me (about the Augusta piece) "I disagree with you totally, but I really liked it anyway."

   It's not so much an ego thing as it is an affirmation, I swear. Still, you're all allowed to gush (or shred, as the case may be).

   Paradoxi like embarassment at praise are everywhere. MTV, at the end of the month, will be airing a World AIDS benefit concert featuring Dave Matthews in Seattle and Alicia Keys in South Africa. A noble cause from a network which updates, weekly, the Real World Hookup Report.

   It is nice to see, in the Episode 3 description, after they talk about the threesome in the hot tub, they chastise a cast member who had unprotected sex. "No glove, no love," dog. As a child who once, in a sixth-grade science class, told the teacher the best way to stop smoking was to eat cold turkey, we may want to be a little clearer with the kiddies.

   Then there's the paradoxi I still can't shake: Going to the Warped Tour at Suffolk Downs and seeing all the alternative kids (with their spiked hair, piercings, homemade T-shirts and studded belts) talking to the other alternative kids (with their spiked hair, piercings, homemade T-shirts and studded belts).

   Flipping, I found Avril Lavigne's new video, "Skater Boy." Course it's not "Skater Boy," because that would be too ordinary. It's "Sk8er Boi." The entire crux of the song is a girl disses this skater when she's growing up, because she's better than him. Then the girl gets pregnant, while the skater grows up to be a rich rock star that young April O'Neil is now doing whatever 13-year-olds do to "rock each other's world."

   Then she smashes a car windshield with a guitar and a police helicopter comes. It was still better than Yo! MTV Raps.

   I have no problem with Avril Lavigne, though as young shitty music goes, it's on the low end of the totem. Were I to hate her because she's a skater though, I would someday become worthless and stuck with a baby I didn't want. So instead, I'll just hate her because she's rich. We'll conveniently ignore that she'll be on Skinemax and/or a reformed Christian by the time she's thirty.

   And since I don't feel like commenting on anything else, I'll leave the rest to you guys, who've been sparkling so far.

October 7, 2002 - My Big Fat Greek Uncle
   • So I watched this speech while Alison watched 7th Heaven. Thank God I was going against a qualifier.

   I didn't even think 7th Heaven was still on the air beyond syndication. To read it's been the highest-rated show on the WB for the past four seasons is extremely troubling. I mean, we're not talking about UPN here... this is an actual network. How far Pacey has fallen...

   I shouldn't be so surprised, as Jessica Biel's tour de force career began as Mary Camden. Like most minister's daughters, she grew up to become a tramp.

   As for Summer Catch, the number of times the sports guys, who cover the Cape Cod League's Wareham Gatemen extensively, have mentioned this movie (and it's lack of worth) is disturbing, yet heartwarming at the same time.

   As for the President's speech, well, its not being shown on the national networks tells you about all you need to know. Yes, Iraq has weapons. Here is how we know this, and why you should care. If you believed Bush before, you'll use this as evidence. If you didn't, you'll mock his speech patterns and spew Jessica Lange:

"I despise him and his entire administration - not only because of its international policy, but also the national. It makes me feel ashamed to come from the United States - it's humiliating."
-- At the San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain.

   Ashamed to be an American? Hey, no one's asking you to come back to that big house you live in.

   I've got something to say to: As much as I enjoy exercise and getting fit, I also enjoy cookies.

Admirable Angels Worth Rooting For
-- Isn't that cute... the Web guys called them adorable!

October 6, 2002 - Brady's Alarm Just Went Off
   • Having spent at least a portion of today smashing old keyboards in dumpsters, I've been thinking about computers, the true saving grace of my existence.

   My phone bill, at least theoretically, on the average month? About $60. The DSL portion of that being $50, or roughly 90 percent. Number of times I pick up the telephone to make a call at the Whale Mansion? Threeve would not be a conservative estimate.

   The good folks at Apple have been on quite the advertising blitz lately to get PC people switching to Macs, because apparently after a hard day of hacky sack, Steve Jobs likes eating as much as the next guy. Their platform is simple: Look at us. We're easier to use, we're compatible with them and we won't eat your data. Plus, we've got a color scheme that matches your end table. Swear to God... if you squint your eyes, all you'll see is the lime green of your sofa blending with the piece.

   If you're new to the game, this is the same scheme Apple has been using for the past, say, 25 years, with the color element added when desperation led to a "What's the simplest thing we can do to lose as much credibility as quickly as possible?" contest. That, plus the "Bill Gates ripped us off" thing, which really would drive me insane if it wasn't entirely correct.

   Here are the facts, bearing in mind that my computer-savvy friends will openly violate me through the comment system as soon as this hits pixel:

   -- Apple computers are as powerful and easy to use as their PC counterparts, if not moreso.

   -- They crash less.

   -- They are the choice for graphical and design work, because they're better for that.

   -- Bill Gates is a big, fucking asshole. Huge asshole. He actually has a button in his office that makes every Windows 95 machine crash upon activation.

   -- Unix and Linux are better than all of them, but you're too stupid to know how to use those.

   Bearing all that in mind, listening to all the IT professionals and systems administrators telling me on the TV how normal they are, hearing how Jennie saved Christmas for her family and how the fat Indian guy loves iPhoto, I've come to my conclusion.

   I still hate Macs. I will always hate Macs. If Apple promised me $500 if I would switch from an Intel PC to a Mac, I wouldn't take it. I hate them that much.

   I have used PCs since I was about 12. My first exposure to Windows was at a good pal's house, where we would play solitare, draw homages to our favorite baseball teams in Paint and try to figure out where his father had hidden that copy of 'The New Joy of Sex'. It had funny pictures of naked people having sex, you see. We would laugh at it, because it was funny, and it had subtitles like "Man on Top 3" and "Sideways."

   We've both grown up to be mature adults. He possibly destroyed the cure for cancer in a collegiate science lab, and can now get free Propecia should it become necessary. Me, I have a website and play football with myself.

   I've used Macs. We had a lab full of them in COM... my Class for Queers (you know, the one where we had to tell the professors how certain letters made us feel) used them exclusively. I don't like them. I don't enjoy them and their quirks. I fear my father will one day see one of these commercials, look at me and go, "Maybe we should get one of those."

   I've been spoiled. No PC has ever eaten large swaths of my data, and I don't tend to crash that often because I'm not trying to operate a cooling tower with my 633 Pentium III.

   About all I'll give Apple is their OS is much prettier than Windows has ever been. The icons have a sort of translucent quality... like they're a refridgerator magnet or something. I like that. But there it ends. Had I been raised on Macs, I'd probably feel exactly the opposite and have a hard on for killing Bill Gates like everyone else. As far as I'm concerned, he's done good work. Let the flames begin.

   How exactly I ended up talking all about PCs on a day I went to a party in the ghetto with my brother, saw complete strangers steal all of James' beer, slept on a hardwood floor above a Store 24 (while listening to Capital FM London), played tennis in blue jeans, showered in a freshman dormitory, spent four hours trying to keep the Free Press from getting condemned and watched the Chiefs make me 1-6 on the betting season, all while going commando from the aforementioned tennis... beats the heck out of me.

   Damn it was nice to be back, if only because of this:

"You see, the thing about BU is it's 70% girls and 30% guys,
and 50% of the guys are homesexuals."
-- There may have been no beer,
but James and friends know how to throw a party.

October 5, 2002 - One Look Says A Lot
   • Very simply.



   This is one horse, unlike most of you, I've just begun to ride.

The Anaheim Angels celebrate their 9-5 win over the New York Yankees in the American League Division Series on Saturday in Anaheim. The Angels won the series 3-1, and advance to the ALCS to face either Minnesota or Oakland. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)

October 4, 2002 - The Elephant Walk(ed)
   The astute among you may have noticed I rolled out a comment system with yesterday's update, thanks to the fine blokes at Enetation. You've seen it elsewhere, and now you can ignore it here as well.

   But really, I'd love people to start chiming in. Every so often I need to be reminded how far off base I really am, or heaven forbid, that I'm on to something. Let me never have to beg again... it's your turn to run your mouth.

   • Every time you think it's safe to hate baseball, the bastards go circle the wagons again...


   Best game of the season. Period. I'm sold, and I'm stamping it. On a personal level -- and yes, a big part is the Yankee loss -- this is all I could ever want from a baseball game.

   The season's too damn long. When 56,000 Twins fans magically appear at the Metrodome every Minnesota postseason, after a season of blue seatbacks and bat cracks echoing off Baggie, it doesn't take much to figure out. People like games that matter. People will pay for quality, they will care about it with a passion and they will shell out time and money willingly.

   You would think eventually someone important would have this epiphany and turn it into a million dollar pension. Yet I sense it goes the same route as a college football playoff and the NHL in Canada - someone already making a million and one has the patent, so to speak.

   Last August 20th, 22,889 joined a certain traveling twosome in Orange County for a baseball game at Edison. This baseball game. Red Sox 6, Angels 1, Boredom 27. I saw a lot of, well, let's go to the videotape:

"Edison, a.k.a. Mickey Mouse Ballpark, just comes off as minor league. Don't get me wrong, the park is beautiful, with the fountains in center, the new green seats, all of it. It's just it was so empty and so nice looking, I felt like I was prepping for a PawSox game or something. Then they started shooting the fireworks off every 10 seconds. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Disney should have nothing to do with professional sports. Period."
-- Despite what you'll read, I'm holding firm on the Disney stance.

   One hour in tonight, the Halos were being punted by those same numbers. Goliath was marching, as he's prone to do. The Derek Jeter fist pump, easily the most grating sports gesture since Morganna The Kissing Bandit, seemed but moments away. Soon, Joe Torre would bumble into the clubhouse, cry, and share with the world how proud he was of his boys in earning their 635th win in their last 13 playoff games.

   For me, it was magical because where 22,891 mostly Red Sox fans had been now sat 45,072 Angels fan, deathly in love with their team.

   Every seat full, most with monkey in tow. Kids cheering. Moms cheering. Dads cheering. The obligatory "grandmother shot?" Even she was excited. This is why I love sports people. Tonight was a moment. To remember why every time we swear off baseball, it somehow finds a way to drag us back again.

   6-1 after two-and-a-half. 6-3 after three. 6-4 after four. Holy shit, they're holding the Yankees. 6-5 after six. They're leaving runners, but they're clawing back. 6-6 after seven. They score here, they've got them.

   The odds are good this year. Five of the eight team left in the show aren't your traditional (or the defending) world champions. It'd be fresh. Oakland. St. Louis. Minnesota. San Francisco. But oh, if it could only be Anaheim... the most snakebit of them all. I mean really, how cursed does a team have to be to blow it to the Red Sox?

   I think I see the celebration that might come if it ever happened here. It kind of holds true for all the teams mentioned, but only for Anaheim fans, true Angels fans, would it be the same kind of catharsis as it would be in Boston... The Clevelands and the Chicago Cubs... knocked around for so long, that you really truly believe it'll never happen again.

   It has to happen Saturday. Oakland had three shots to knock out the Yanks last year, and they blinked. If this goes back to New York, it's over. Game 5 might as well be right now... and if it somehow happens, we're getting graphic in the world.

   If my sliver of SoCal can't be here, I'll just have to latch on to whatever I can.

* * * * *

   The folks at BET today promised methey would cover Black College Football "from the kickoff to the halftime show." It's really a shame and an oversight I hope they resolve, as the second half of a football game is usually very entertaining.

   First halves are often like "Internet Dating Less Than Ideal": often hackneyed, boring and altogether not worthy of publication.


October 3, 2002 - Couscous: Magic In A Pot
"I continually keep mentioning that I am going to graduate and have to get a real job. And yet, I keep hearing from friends who have graduated just how awful the real world is."
-- Lisa. Kids, I think the key to the future is simple. Stop asking me for advice.

   • Somebody put gum on my car window today. A small amount of gum, likely Trident based on color and size, but gum nonetheless. With my car being directly adjacent to the sidewalk of a relatively high-traffic area, my car would be the one where gum would likely end up.

   The gum was put there sometime between when I went out for a drive today and when I left for work... it's not really important to pinpoint the time of discardation, but at least I wasn't driving around Fairhaven with gum on my window. I was likely cooking dinner in the time it was put there, which is too bad... I've often wondered what my reaction would be if I watched someone stick gum to my car window.

   Given where it was on my car relative to what I can see from the apartment, I would have just seen someone touching my car. Eliciting a reaction of:

"Hey, gold chains! Get the fuck away from my car!"

   Which when translated from inside my head to actual reality means me running outside, seeing what they did to my car, and possibly muttering swears under my breath to their turned backs 200 feet away.

   The gum stayed there all during my work shift, and it didn't get flicked off until about 15 minutes ago when I got home. Seems it was holding spit, as a little river formed to the window molding when I knocked it to the ground. Normally, I wouldn't give this much of a thought, but something about it disturbs me greatly...

   We live in a society where stepping/sitting in gum is a threat to the upper classes, be it in schools, parking lots or, should you enjoy that kind of thing, kinky vinyl fetish sex clubs. People are always discarding their gum on the ground, because it's the quickest and easiest way to rid the rubber from your mouth after its lost it's sugary flavor. It gets under desks because people are inside, and throwing gum on tile is bad form, as well as probably not good for the tile's well being.

   But in an outdoor situation, with ground literally on all sides, why the trouble to pull the gum out of your mouth and stick it to a car? A simple spitting motion, even toward grass or the middle of the street, ends the exercise. Instead, a dirty finger enters the mouth, only to touch a car that could be covered with yet more germs. Germs you'll surely ingest when enjoying the 99 cent crispy tacos you're on your way to purchase.

   Point being, New Bedford's citizenry are either incredibly stupid, or thinking on levels we normal humans can not understand, thus meaning we'll think they're stupid anyway.

   It's not an angering as, say, striking janitors blocking the Callahan Tunnel at rush hour, but it's almost as stupid.

   Real solid PR move... going to sway the public right to your side by blocking them in their cars. My father worked almost a decade for various phone companies without medical benefits, and it was a scary time. You're a fucking janitor. You work maybe three hours a day. End of story.

   And yes, I'm mad on a personal level, because we all know they'll win.

October 2, 2002 - The Gatorade People Love Starfruit
   There's been some changes made to the posse. Namely Alison's in the bottom, Charlie's in a bubble, Erin 2's in cammo and Meg's in Wales. The writeups though, they're still in the past tense.

   A promise was made, of a return to excitement upon re-entry. Right now, I'd settle for a weekly break from banality.

   • When I call Verizon and change my service plans, I know exactly what I want before the operator has even started the tape recorder rolling. I've researched the service plans, figured what the cheapest one I'm comfortable with is and systematically eliminated all the alternatives.

   I like to feel intelligent, like I know what I'm going to be asked before it's requested. Keeps you from being taken advatage of, of being put in a crooked nursing home and ending up on Dateline with nothing but an empty wallet, a stupid face and a free T-shirt.

   Financial planning is not something I understand. Job benefits is really not something I understand. No amount of reading materials and studying help websites can make you understand if the words on the page don't assemble into sentences. In a normal person, this would be sufficient - you'd just go for help from someone who knew and think nothing of it. Me? I'll go for help, but be so embarassed to be so utterly hopeless it'll literally make my eyes water.

   My father is probably the smartest man I know in all things I don't understand. When he threw his hands up poring over my benefit paperwork, red flags and sweat beads started popping up everywhere.

   Needless to say, I now have health insurance, after nearly 90 nights on the job. Seems after four years being just a number, only once I'm out did I finally "fall through the cracks." - the paperwork I eventually relented and asked for was, surprise surprise, supposed to have been given to me on night number one.

   The Standard-Times has no Human Relations "department," from what I can gather. We have a Human Relations "guy"... who's exceptional at what he does. In a spot where it would have been easy to be condescending even by accident, it was one of the few times I walked out of a meeting with a superior not in a cold sweat.

   The crux of my comprehension problems seem to have been all the information I was looking for - how much this would all cost me topping the list - wasn't in the information I was given. You find it out when you walk in and talk to HR. I understand why this is, but they really should cater to high-strung people in a profession with so many of them.

   I pray I never have a confrontation with a reporter about an edit or a photographer about a crop. Not so much because I don't like confrontations, but because I will relent, apologize, then profusely mutter swears under my breath after they've left me alone. One of these days, someone's going to catch on to this.

   Being informed is very important, especially in cases unlike this, where the well-being of others are involved. Voting, for example. On, say, Ballot Question 1 in the Massachusetts State Elections.

"The proposed law would provide that no income or other gain realized on or after July 1, 2003, would be subject to the state personal income tax. That tax applies to income received or gain realized by individuals and married couples, by estates of deceased persons, by certain trustees and other fiduciaries, by persons who are partners in and receive income from partnerships, by corporate trusts, and by persons who receive income as shareholders of "S corporations" as defined under federal tax law. The proposed law would not affect the taxes due on income or gain realized before July 1, 2003."
-- The quick and dirty is Question One would abolish the income tax in Massachusetts.

   In the Voter Information packets sent out statewide, Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Carla Howell, the driving force behind the question, explains a "yes" vote would mean 3,000,000 working people in Massachusetts would get back an additional $3,000 every year. She says the state budget of today ($23 billion) has more than doubled in 10 years (from $10 billion in '91), and that the quality of everything has not doubled. Since the state governemnt is wasteful, we should, essentially, cut the bastards off.

   Cutting the income tax would take NINE BILLION DOLLARS away from a state budget that has already suffered over $600 million in cuts this fiscal year. You thought UMass Amherst was in trouble before... actual debate on this question isn't even necessary.

   Yet there will be people in this state who will react as such when they first see the question in the voting booth:

"Shit! $3,000 a year and no more taxes? Fuck yeah!"

   You informed voters want to know why the Electoral College continues to stay in use? Take a look at the Question One tallies on November 6th.
October 1, 2002 - From The Ashes Rise The Flames
"Italian Cold Cut: Bread, mortadella, provolone cheese, salami, capicola, pepperoni (May contain lettuce and tomato.)"
-- Thanks to the 'Sandwich Specialists' for warning me vegetables may be hidden in my meat bomb.

   • They traded Chris Drury.

   My adopted team, the old Quebec Nordiques, the Colorado Avalanche. Of the well worn 2001 Stanley Cup Champions T-shirt. Jesus, of the well-worn 1996 Stanley Cup Champions T-shirt, that had all the glitter on it I took so much shit for. They traded Boston University Hockey's greatest player of the '90s. BU's only ever Hobey Baker winner. The 2000 NHL Rookie Of The Year.

   Thank God it was to Calgary.

   I'm not going to parade myself around as an NHL diehard... there's a reason "fantasy hockey" will never be among my leisure time activities. I had my fling with professional ice hockey, during those crazy '90s. Then the Whalers left Hartford. Then the Nords left Quebec, the Jets left Winnipeg and the North Stars moved to Texas. Hockey. In Dallas fucking Texas, and not in Minneapolis or Quebec.

   I loved the Avs before Ray Bourque and Chris Drury - it was a stroke of incredible luck to have them both there for the party. The 2001 Avs will probably prove the pinnacle of my pro hockey fandom... to have all those players come together at the right time, and give the bestest Bruin his Stanley Cup, it was enough to make my father care about hockey.

   But now, fuck 'em. I'm over the Avalanche, and am I ever bitter. Print up the tombstone. Colorado Avalanche Fan: 1996-2002. I wish them well, but you don't trade the kid who beat Chinese Taipei, became the savior to a hockey program that didn't even need saving and then evolved into the NHL's greatest clutch scoring threat.

   Chris Drury... traded for a punt in the nuts and a guy who plays second line on a playoff pretender. I don't think so. I wish them well, but there will be no 2004 Stanley Cup Champions T-shirt in my closet. For a couple of reasons...

   In the context of national affairs, trading Chris Drury to the hockey heartland isn't a blip on the screen. Course, Congressmen sitting in Baghdad, Iraq, calling the President essentially a liar isn't a blip either. It borders on treason.

"Not since Jane Fonda posed for photographers at a Hanoi antiaircraft gun has there been anything like Rep. Jim McDermott, speaking to ABC's "This Week" from Baghdad, saying Americans should take Saddam Hussein at his word, but should not take President Bush at his."
-- George Will in the Sacramento Bee. Read it.

   The debate on whether we should invade Iraq is a very complicated one. Of course we should first consider a compromise, since I'm not about to send my fellow Americans to die for me if there's a viable alternative. By the same hand, getting weapons inspectors into the country only counts as a success if they're actually allowed to look for stuff. On the table currently is "Compromise Light," which lets inspectors look everywhere except for Saddam's palaces, since he hasn't cleaned in months and is out of snacks.

   You might have sampled the sister product, "Justice Light," endorsed by Johnnie Cochran and O.J. Simpson. It's really expensive though.

   There's a passage in the 9/11 book I'm reading, The Cell, that seems real topical right about now.

"The New Afrikan Freedom Fighters, or NAFF, was a successor group to the Brinks gang [who botched an armored car robbery in 1981 and killed two cops and a guard]. In fact, NAFF was plotting the jail breaks of two individuals who had been convicted in connection with the Brinks robbery when JTTF [Joint Terrorism Task Force] smashed the ring in 1984.

NAFF had been planning a virtual crime wave of its own, but the problems with these crimes, the ones that Herman was charged with investigating, was that they had never left the drawing board. Though the investigation was one of the FBI's largest to date and used every technique known to law enforcement, a single shot had yet to be fired when eight suspects were arrested and accused of plotting another armored car robbery.

The defendants, all of whom were well educated and black, referred to themselves as the New York 8, and their 1985 trial convened in a charged political atmosphere. In the end, thought the evidence of conspiracy that JTTF collected was overwhelming - videotapes, witness testimony, diagrammed plans and a cache of high-powered weapons - the eight defendants were acquitted of all serious charges.

The verdict was the low point of Herman's career. The investigation alone had taken more than two years, and the resources expanded had been enormous. Legally, the case presented by prosecutors was built on solid ground. But the jury had delivered a very different message:

If it hasn't happened yet, it's not a crime.

   So should we believe a man who forcible attacked a neighboring country, killed off refugees in the northern portion of his land, rules via fear tactics and torture, and says he has no weapons of mass destruction while he keeps certain places off limits, is telling the truth? Or should we believe the President of the United States when he says Saddam needs to be removed before he can use his weaponry?

   Let's wait. Technically, Saddam hasn't done anything wrong yet, right?
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