October 31, 2005 - No Rest For The Un-Weary
   Great Moments In Advertising: On a bus outside Providence yesterday, I saw an ad for this 'cutting-edge' radio Web site on the side of a bus. Except it's not actually a radio station, even though the site plays music. It's an urban condominium complex, which makes a lot more sense given the bus told me "No one actually 'lives' in the suburbs" and the handful of ways they ask how you heard about the place on the Web site.

Head-turning Billboard
On The Sidewalk (Lying Down)
Number On A Cocktail Napkin
A Friend With Benefits

   You know, because in the suburbs they don't have the dozen or so things that show up on their Flash site. Such as Johnny Rockets. In the suburbs, they have to just pretend it's the '50s by having uncomfortable sex lives and making milkshakes in the blender.

   This came right before I saw the ad for Holiday Inn Express, which informed me they have the "No. 1 Guest Rated Shower Head." I must have hung up on the person doing the poll, but apparently, these folks regret missing it.

Harris found that 73% of U.S. adults are not satisfied with the current state of hotel bathrooms, guests' top complaint is that the water pressure in hotel showers is too low or too high (26%), 14% weren't happy with the quality of the bath linens, and 13% are looking for more space in the shower.

   I only wish they had dug deeper in the poll. To say, "Which concerns you more? The continued involvement of the United States in Iraq or the current state of hotel bathrooms?" Because if you're going to spend $20 million on renovation your bathrooms, the least you can do is make a couple extra bar graphs.


   • To recap our Vacation Blog 2005 coverage:

Monday: Showered before 3 p.m., drove home.
Tuesday: Cooked pork chops with apple and thyme.
Wednesday: Video games, most notably Blitz: The League,
which won't let you drug players if they tear their MCL.
Thursday: The movie 'Waiting,' after which you might never eat out again.
Friday: College hockey, and a celebration of Collegiate Failure Chris Bourque.
Saturday: More college hockey, with an attempt at internal drowning via Guinness.
Sunday: College bowl in Williamstown, Mass., which was a 90-minute drive away at 7:30 a.m. away and came more than three years after I had graduated what one could call 'college.'

   An enjoyable, relaxing vacation for me, and one I apparently needed more than I thought I did if you ask my superior officer.

   But let there's be no doubt in ended real fast.

Three And Out: Money Can't Buy Theo's Love
-- One of those megalomanaical nights where I got to lay out a front page prominently featuring my own column. Some day, I can hopefully figure out a way to show said covers off here.

   And if you think I didn't take some extreme excitement in the Boston Globe having the virtual lunch completely eaten -- their headline Monday was "Epstein, Red Sox Agree To Three-Year Contract" -- you don't know me very well.

   I sincerely hope someone bought Michael Silverman many, many beers last night, since I don't want to have to should we actually converse one day. But the fact remains he ought to be smiling really wide this morning.

   Though on the flip side, Dan Shaughnessy probably is too. Though I'm not sure his grotesque attempt at a face is capable of such a contortion.


October 30, 2005 - Meandering
   A New Song: I only flew Song once, and it looks like it'll stay that way.

Despite its splashy approach, Song's financial success was always questionable. Mr. Grinstein and other Delta executives declined to say yesterday whether the airline was ever profitable. But James M. Whitehurst, Delta's chief operating officer, said the cost of running the main Delta brand and Song was "very expensive."

. . .

Mr. Grinstein said Song's president, Joanne Smith, had been named Delta's vice president for consumer marketing, effective immediately. Ms. Smith said yesterday that she "absolutely" would bring some trendy aspects of Song to Delta flights - those features have included drinks designed by the celebrity bar owner Rande Gerber and snacks from Dylan's Candy Bar in Manhattan.

Ultimately, Ms. Smith said her goal was to use Song's teachings to make Delta more contemporary - what she called "a current classic."

   According to this, the execution was poor because it was giving me cooler stuff than people who fly all the time. I'll agree with that, but I'll also wonder why exactly any of this was ever a good idea.

"Passengers prefer live television and listening to 80s Classics over paying $1 for a bag of trail mix [Northwest] or having their pillow taken away [American]."

   If analysts are having to tell you this, you probably shouldn't have your job. Just saying is all.

   2,000: In reading this, I'm just left puzzled. Look at the numbers thrown up here.

   Roughly 1 million in the Civil War. Three hundred thousand and one million and change in the World Wars. More relevant to the conversation, 136,000 in Korea and 211,000 in Vietnam.

   Yes, death is tragic, but 2,000? How were these things reported in the past? Is this all a matter of a new media environment, or are we a softer nation now than we were 30 years ago? These are the things I think about, perhaps because I feel like this reallly could be something that's part of a larger story.

James J. Carafano, a military expert and senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative research organization, said he saw the number as meaningless but said it reflected how journalists work. They do not cover policy issues regularly, he said, "and when an event comes along that allows them to illuminate a policy, they jump on it."

At the same time, the Pentagon tried to steer reporters away from making too much of the moment, with a military spokesman in Baghdad warning in advance that 2,000 "is not a milestone."

"It is an artificial mark on the wall set by individuals or groups with specific agendas and ulterior motives," the spokesman, Lt. Col. Steve Boylan, said in an e-mail message to military reporters.

He said that the 2,000th death was just as important as the first. The true milestones of the war, he said, were when Americans volunteered for duty or Iraqis joined the coalition forces. "Celebrate the daily milestones," Colonel Boylan advised.

   Perhaps a little partisan, but not really all that far off.


   • If 'Rent' defined a generation, exactly which generation was it and where the hell was I when we agreed that was the case?

   And I say that after having spent the day as part of the Northwest Massachusetts Dork Brigade, for which that Web site is far worse than the BU version that said I was still the club president as recently as last year.

   In short, they had this tournament. My team came in second, and individually, I came in second. In 10, 20-tossup games, I answered somewhere in the vicinity of 40 questions and countless bonuses. Two of which involved rap.

   It was a hell of a lot more interesting if you were actually there. And, for me, a hell of a lot more interesting after I had three beers at lunch.

   There was a point when -- and I say this as the youngest member of my team at age 25 -- I wondered what all the college undergraduates must have thought of these old people showing up all these years after they'd left school.

   And then I remembered we were all nerds and that I didn't care. The beer helped, though it wasn't quite enough to yell at the girl sitting on the street with her acoustic guitar and her boots next to her while playing 'Burning Down The House'.

   If nothing else, even I could appreciate the scenery driving up to Williamstown on Routes 20 and 7. Plus, the fact I'd bought gas for $2.29 in Feeding Hills center while the suckers in Pittsfield, who also have to live in Pittsfield, can barely crack $2.60.


October 29, 2005 - Assorted Pizza Places
   Maine 4, Massachusetts 0: The classic game that was probably closer than it might appear, UMass still sucks. Only difference is they didn't have BU sucking harder to make them feel better about it.

   If nothing else, at least they weren't dressed like this.

Miami Hurricanes
-- I'll assume this is retro,
but not in a healthy "I'm rushing to eBay" way.


Miami Hurricanes Brandon Merriweather (19) celebrates with teammate Quadtrine Hill after Hill picked up a blocked kick for a touchdown in the third quarter at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida. (REUTERS/Marc Serota)

   It does remind me a knockoff sweatshirt I was given as a kid. It was a lighter shade of green, and instead of having the traditional "U" logo on it, it had whatever their mascot is called ... smiling.

   Even as a young dork, I knew wearing it was beneath me.

   House Cleaning: The Dodgers finally figured out giving J.D. Drew and Derek Lowe a combined $91 million was a bad idea. It just took them a year longer than everyone else.

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers Saturday abruptly shifted from a manager search to a general manager search after dismissing Paul DePodesta less than two years into his five-year contract. Owner Frank McCourt delivered the news to DePodesta in the morning and held an afternoon press conference at Dodger Stadium, where he said he made the change because "fans deserve a winner and they're going to get it."

"The Dodgers are at a crossroads," McCourt said. "This is a very important time. I'm mindful of this historic franchise and it's tradition of greatness. I'll be satisfied with nothing less.

"I have high expectations and one of those is winning. This organization is committed to doing whatever is necessary to achieve those expectations. Clearly, we did not fulfill those expectations this past season."

   Keen, Frank. It's that kind of leadership that made almost everyone happy when you were railroaded out of buying the Red Sox like every other local. Now, you can attempt to make L.A.'s seventh general manager in eight years the answer to all my dreams.

   In fact, with the managerial and GM posts now open, it's the perfect time to just start blanketing Chavez Ravine with resumes. If nothing else, I can drive one of the cars that cleans the parking lot.


   • Never underestimate the power of just going out with your friends that you never see, drinking 60 oz. of Guinness and discussing things that would make for a hell of an update if I was someone else overheaving a conversation at another table.

   In a somewhat similar vein, I'll spend the majority of my vacation's final day at Williams College, where scenes like this apparently play out all the time.

Cow Sack
-- Listed as "Random Campus Image" at their Web site.

   Is it a guy sleeping shirtless on the campus quad? Is it a strange female sleeping topless as part of some strange sorority hazing? Or some Latin club's way of welcoming freshman to their blood-drinking seances?

   It doesn't matter since if it gets windy in the mountains one day, Williams will fall off the edge of the Earth. And all we'll be lacking is a few independent coffee shops and a fistful of people smarter than me, but who don't think my jokes are funny.

   And really, who's going to miss that?


October 28, 2005 - The Giants Hat
   Life Lesson: Most installations of a $6 paper towel rack do not require the use of a hacksaw.

   The best ones, however, always do.

   The Marketing Machine: In watching parts of three or four episodes of I Love The 80s: 3D today -- which still works despite every other show using the same "Hey, comedian makes canned quip! LAUGH!" formula sucking tremendously -- I saw approximately eight million previews for both Robert Downey Jr.'s Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang and the new show But Can They Sing?, which features a celebrity lineup where I can't identify at least half the contestants from anything they've ever done.

   The original Blue Power Ranger? An "unparalleled bilingual journalist in the Spanish television market"? One of the Gotti kids? Larry Holmes? This might be the first time in show business history where anyone has ever asked "Wow. Didn't Joe Pantoliano save any of his money?"

   Anyway, the movie features Downey losing his finger in a slammed door. The show is hosted one of the 17 Zappa children and might feature Morgan Fairchild bringing up her being an "outspoken and dedicated supporter of AIDS Research efforts, the pro-choice movement and a great range of environmental issues, among others."

   Which is less watchable? Only you can truly decide.

   Al Capone Lives!: This is not, in fact, a Halloween joke. This is not meant to alarm you. This is merely a warning so that you might make room on your TiVos for "a new kind of newsmagazine."

Hey FOX Fans,

This Monday, Geraldo Rivera brings 35 years of groundbreaking, award-winning journalism to network television -- Find out where "Geraldo At Large" is airing near you.

A new generation of newsmagazine, "Geraldo" features a hand-picked team of top-flight journalists -- Laurie Dhue, Phil Keating, and Laura Ingle. Together, they will deliver breaking news, in-depth investigationlines from where they're happening -- news with passion. Check it out Monday, and read Geraldo's personal message about the show on the "Geraldo At Large" Web site.

   Oh, here's the direct link. I love you that much.

"This is a show about people -- their stories, up close and personal. Whether it's painful or uplifting, it's real life, and we will be there, firsthand. No one will take the story further. No one will work harder or risk more. That's our pledge. And that's my promise ... to you."

   I would be hooked if his promise was also to use more made-up words like "newsmagazine." Also, if he signed his full name on his promise letter, as opposed to that muscle spasm of a "GR" that's there.

   The first show, as the audio will tell you, is about child molesters in New Orleans ... you know, "THE BIG UN-EASY!"

   It really is so much easier to tear down than it is to create. I've never regretted taking that route.


   • In that same vein, UMass sucks. Course, it's not like they ever trailed 6-1 to a last-place team like some might have, but I wasn't at that game.

   It was in Lowell. Why would I drive that far north when I've already got a bed in Whale City?

   Anyway, the Minutemen actually didn't play that poorly, as they shot enough to given themselves a chance for something to happen. UNH's goalie was simply too good, as the home team couldn't score on any of the handful of legit chances they had in the second. When the Wildcats made it 3-1 early in the third, I was hardly the only person to know the thing was over.

   Course, going down two men and losing your best defenseman in the first two minutes to a game misconduct is also not the best way to establish your Hockey East season. But what do I know ... my team hasn't won a national title in 10 years and hasn't made a Frozen Four since I cared whether they existed or not.

   Am I distressed? Well, I list the Terriers winning a championship as one of my last great sporting wishes. The Sox have one, the Giants two and the Patriots three. The Whalers no longer exist, which means I can't ever fully get behind the Bruins -- I'd be really excited, yes, but it wouldn't be the same. The Celtics could fold tomorrow and I don't think I'd really be bothered all that much, though it'd make one hell of a column. The Revolution?

   Hey, I love soccer and all, but if they couldn't win it with 61,000 people there at a "neutral site" championship, it;ll just never be the same again.

   Thus leaving the alma mater, who (just like the Celtics) folded up the championship shop just before I realized I liked them. The fact that there's a perpetual feeling that this could be the year is nice, but it gets old. And far be it for me to wish ill on anyone clearly is passing up many thousands of dollars every second they stay in college, but don't expect me to be waving my Chris Bourque flag any harder than I did my Ricky DiPietro one.

   But on the plus side, Bourque saved me buying season tickets that I apparently wouldn't have been able to use given I never get days off anymore. I'll be sure to thank him when Julie next makes a half-mocking awe at the announcement "And at the end of the second period, it's Vermont 5, and Boston University 2."

   At one point tonight, some hayseed from UNH whiffed on a shot from the blue line and the puck trickled out of the offensive zone. The whole arena went relatively nuts, mocking said player for his gaffe.

   Their team was trailing by two goals. Upon pointing this out, I don't think it was properly appreciated.


October 27, 2005 - Former Falcons
   Lovingly Mediocre: To answer the questions asked, lovingly mediocre went 8-2 today and won the Div. 3 championship in their second try. It isn't quite as awesome as it might appear, but Blitz: The League will get the job done until it's campaign mode is beaten by the Hartford Whalers.

   A team whose quarterback has already taken more drugs than the average Hollywood Starlet.

   And given games take all of eight minutes to play, revealing all of that is nowhere near as depressing as it might appear.

   Theo: If Gordon Edes is to be believed -- and he is -- Theo Epstein turned down a deal that would pay him $1.2 million a year.

   Regardless of the reasons for his refusing it, which more than likely have to do with power struggles behind the scenes, I hope he's careful that the door doesn't hit him on the ass on the way out.

   Rare Real News Interlude: I have no real opinion about Harriet Miers' withdrawal from the Supreme Court running. All I know is that if this headshot is remotely accurate:

Miers

   at least she won't need much of a costume to be a witch on Halloween.


   • In my continuing efforts to regale you with popular culture items you may not have been aware were around:

'Waiting'
-- The movie 'Waiting,' which Roger Ebert hates.

   Why'd I link Roger Ebert? Because this is his opening paragraph.

"Waiting..." is melancholy for a comedy. It's about dead-end lives at an early age, and the gallows humor that makes them bearable. It takes place over a day at a chain restaurant named Shenanigan's (think Chili's crossed with Bennigan's) where the lives of the waiters and cooks revolve around the Penis Game. The rules are simple: Flash a fellow worker with the family jewels, and you get to kick him in the butt and call him a fag. Ho, ho.

   I'm guessing Roger Ebert never played the Penis Game.

   If you worked in a restuarant or are currently working in a restaurant, you will enjoy this. I know this because I did the next best thing -- attending the movie with people who are working in a restaurant. When you have people on both sides of you complaining about waiters who don't pre-bus their tables, it adds a whole different sense of realism to the affair.

What it comes down to is that Shenaniganz is a rotten place to work and a hazardous place to eat, and the people on both sides of the counter are miserable sods but at least the employees know they are. Watching the movie is like having one of these wretched jobs, with the difference that after work the employees can get wasted but we can only watch. It can actually be fun to work in a restaurant. Most of the waitpeople I have known or encountered have been competent, smart and if necessary amusing. All the restaurant's a stage, and they but players on it. Customers can be friendly and entertaining. Tips can be OK. Genitals can be employed at the activities for which they were designed. There must be humor here somewhere.

   Clearly, Roger Ebert is not the source. He probably doesn't even think Dane Cook is funny, and really, that's the only blasphemy that there is here.

   Well, that and the career of Andy Milonakis, whom I confused with Zach Galifianakis and whom should have been sterlized by law at the point he started trying to convince he was entertaining in a non-train wreck way.


October 26, 2005 - Toothpicks
   White Sox 1, Astros 0: While I'm disappointed that the baseball season is now over, congrats to the team with the best pitching winning it all. When the Red Sox, Angels and Astros all "can't get the hit when it counts," it's more than a sheer coincidence. Even if Jermaine Dye as World Series MVP is going to take a little getting used to.

   If nothing else, now we're one step closer to FOX having absolutely nothing to talk about because there's no bullshit curses left to discuss.

   Old Tyme Radio: I know I can't wait for, on the rare mornings when I'm awake and in the car, those moments when I can turn on the radio and listen to ... David Lee Roth?

Mr. Roth, a newcomer to radio, will be based in New York, where he lives, at Mr. Stern's home station, WXRK-FM (K-Rock, 92.3), and be heard mainly in Eastern cities like Boston, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Mr. Carolla, the host of the nationally syndicated radio show "Loveline" and the star of television shows on Comedy Central and TLC, will broadcast from Los Angeles, where he is based, and Infinity stations in San Francisco, Phoenix and elsewhere will pick up his show. Both shows will begin on Jan. 3.

The company is using the occasion of Mr. Stern's departure on Dec. 16 to do more than overhaul its morning shows in 27 markets. It is flipping station formats across the country, and in some markets is introducing a variation on the talk format, FreeFM. The new talk format, billed as a hybrid of politics, sports and pop culture, will be heard on nine Infinity stations.

   That's good, because if there's anything the world needs, it's more shitty talk radio by people who think they're funny/intelligent/interesting. And at the cost of another rock station like K-Rock 92.3 in New York, which will become all-talk Monday-Friday on that same Jan. 3.

A new FM talk format called FreeFM will replace the station's rock music. Unlike much AM talk radio, the new format, introduced by Infinity Broadcasting, K-Rock's owner, will not hew to a particular political line and will encompass everything from sports to pop culture.

"This is in response to the dangers FM music stations are facing at this time," said Michael Harrison of Talkers magazine. "People are getting their music elsewhere; there's iPods, there's Internet streaming, satellite radio with all the channels."

   Revolutionary as this is, could it be that's because you idiots have no idea what you're doing? Admittedly, technology is always going to change the playing field, but perhaps the fact that radio is run in a completely reactionary fashion is part of the problem.


   • You wouldn't think Wednesday would be a great night to have people over for a little mini party, and you'd be right. Seems the rest of the world does things like work on weekdays.

   But on the plus side, I'm back to making impulse buys.

Blitz: The League
-- It's not 11-1 in the postseason,
but it is a game built around steroids and injury X-rays.

   Some people would complain about losing the NFL license. Midway, however, has never much had a problem with embracing insanity.

   The only question is how long before I create the Hartford Whalers and see if they're still lovingly mediocre.


October 25, 2005 - Icing
   Wellington Mara: I never met the man, though I did once watch an exhibition game in the same press box as him. And my father and I enjoyed watching his football team for many, many years. I still remember him receiving the trophy after Super Bowl 25, after having owned the team in part since he was 14, just expressing how proud he was.

   The things we save.

   At least they won his final game on the arm of the man who looks like he'll be winning the Giants a lot of games for a lot of years.

As always, quarterback Eli Manning spent most of his Tuesday studying film on himself and the upcoming opponent. Manning probably smiled when he watched his final pass of Sunday's game -- a 2-yard touchdown to Amani Toomer with five seconds remaining -- and not just because of what it meant to himself.

After the game, Manning was told by one of Mara's grandsons the owner had awoken right before the pass. Mara watched the play, smiled and then went back to sleep. For Manning, just knowing he had made Mara's final football memory a happy one was his bit of sunshine on a fittingly rainy day.

"It makes me feel good a little bit that the last game he saw was a win, especially the way we did it," he said. "If he just smiled or had a little joy at that time, that makes me feel better."

   White Sox 7, Astros 5: In a game that ended four innings after even I went to bed, Houston had a 4-0 lead early, had the go-ahead or winning run on second or better in the 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th, and the winning run at the plate about 17 other times.

   Chicago won. Everything. On the bat of Geoff Blum, who I believe became the third player in this series alone to homer in his first-ever World Series at-bat -- after Jermaine Dye and Mike Lamb.

   I just hope Buddy, our resident White Sox fan, doesn't care that he'll have to wait until next week for me to stick black, white and gray crap all over his desk.


   • Hey! It's Vacation Blog 2005! Not powered by Blogger, but by exclamation points!

   When watching most houses, most people wouldn't need directions on how to feed the pets. At most houses, however, there aren't five pets who have specific instructions on how, where and when to eat.

   None of the pets, however, ate the following:

PORK CHOPS WITH APPLE AND THYME

3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 tsp. corn starch
2 tsp. canola oil
Four 4 oz. boneless pork chops (trimmed, if you're a big pansy)
1 small onion, sliced
1 tart apple, such as Granny Smith, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup apple juice (poor) or apple cider (awesome)
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. dried thyme

Mix 2 Tbsp. of the broth with the corn starch in a cup and put it aside. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a nonstick pan over high heat. Brown the pork chops, which shouldn't take more than two minutes, and put them off to the side. Try not to "sample" them.

Turn down the heat to medium or medium-high and brown the onion ... three minutes-ish. After that, put in the apple. Stir, cook until tender. I'll guess it took 4-5 minutes.

In with the cider, the rest of the broth, the mustard, the thyme and the corn starch mixture. The recipe said to bring it all to a boil "stirring until thickened and glossy," but since I have no idea what that actually meant, I went until it was thick.

Put the pork chops back in and make sure they cook through. Not that I had any trouble with that ... just saying is all.

Eat with vegetables and/or beer. Maybe not five beers, but there's nothing wrong with that when it's Molson Canadian.

   Coming tomorrow, something else.


October 24, 2005 - Lazy Days
   Hearty Congratulations: After years of having failures like me choke when it mattered most, three cheers for the Agawam High School golf team, who followed their first-ever Western Mass. title last week with a second-place finish at Monday's state championship.

   To say I'm a little jealous would be somewhat accurate, but given I don't think I'm ever going to get a chance to rectify shooting 95 at Hampden Country Club seven years ago -- 90, which back then I shot with my eyes closed, would have been enough to win the team title -- winning it now is better than winning it never.

   Brownie Pride ... especially since I think my days of going to the Thanksgiving football game have ended.

   Coming Soon: At some point next month, I'm going to start a feature where I show off my mad photography skills. I may have already announced this, but I have quite the collection of decent shots. Shots I would get framed if I ever actually hung the pictures I already have framed, or ever had prints made of things.

   In fact, that would be a great thing to do this week. Though with all of my photographs like 120 miles away, that becomes difficult.

   But next month, be prepared to be bowled over with wallpaper far better than the other time I tried to bowl people over with wallpaper.

   Really, you'd have to use the paper more as a beating stick, since it's long and round ... clearly, I've lost my train of thought.

   Rare Poignant News Interlude: Noted Hero Rosa Parks -- who moved to Detroit because apparently her life wasn't hard enough -- died on Monday.

   In the coming days, expect Entertainment Tonight to seek out Outkast for a banal comment they're all too eager to give.


   • For those of you who are such a fan of my vacation updates -- and who've read the first Vegas one at least 17 times -- I have a surprise for you.

   No, it isn't that.

   As I am on vacation this week with no particular place to go, I've decided to give you a vacation writeup from my lack of vacation.

   It's Vacation Blog 2005! Also known as "VBlog," "VBloog2005" or "Loogie" -- imagine I was a script kiddie and the "5" becomes an "E."

   Though my vacation began today, nothing actually happened. The crux of my day centered around going into work so I could mail a letter, get some business cards, fill out a time sheet incorrectly -- I'm awesome at that -- and grab a copy of Monday's awesome sports section. In a healthy turn of events, my boss came in for his shift right around the time I was finishing up these tasks.

   He didn't say hello. I didn't break the silence. Healthy all around.

   From there, after taking about seven detours to avoid traffic I'd convinced myself there was, I was summoned to help move an air conditioner and change a light bulb.

   When you're me, any day where you shower before 3 p.m. is considered a success.


October 23, 2005 - Take My Word For It
   Giants 24, Broncos 23: Alright, I'll admit it. I'm officially excited.

   The Giants don't have a team history where people can say "This is the kind of game [we] lose" ... if anything, quite the contrary. But I had roughly zero expectation this would turn into a win, especially considering how it began. Two touchdowns in the final nine minutes?

   That is something the Giants don't do. They take 14 minutes and 19 plays to churn out a rushing score. Now, Eli Manning is hitting Plaxico Burress, Jeremy Shockey and Amani Toomer -- in that order -- to win football games.

   At 4-2, they're in a three-way tie for first. I'm still not sure they're good enough to beat Philadelphia or Washington on the road -- they were good enough to beat Dallas, but simply didn't. No matter ... that will work itself out. They'll win at San Francisco, and they should be able to beat Minnesota. I'm not thrilled about a home game with Kansas City or the Week 17 visit to the Raiders.

   But I'm now thinking playoffs. Even if I do keep picking against them every week. Though this week was the perfect ending: Giants win the game, Broncos (+2.5) win the pick.

   Fun With Fame: It's good to see Donald Trump has built an empire on hearsay, and that the 'Forbes 500' is basically a bunch of rich people telling each other how rich they are.

When I sat down in a Trump Tower conference room one afternoon earlier this year with Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization's chief financial officer, he claimed that Donald was worth about $6 billion. But the list of assets that Mr. Weisselberg quoted, all of which were valued in very inflated and optimistic terms and some of which Donald didn't own, totaled only about $5 billion. Where might the rest have been? "I'm going to go to my office and find that other billion," Mr. Weisselberg assured me.

Did he ever return? No, he never returned.

   Someday, either in a dream or real life, I'd like to have someone working for me or speaking about me say, "I'm going to go to my office and find that other billion." I don't even care if they're talking about jelly beans, paper clips, lost innocences ...

   I'm very cutting. Made a lot of people cry, you know.


   • No matter what I do and what I get to cover, there's still very little that satisfies me more than knowing we put out an incredible Monday sports section. We do ours like a pullout tabloid, and this week, we absolutely slammed it out of the park. Ton of local copy, awesome cover, all sorts of good information and art ... best we've had on a night I've been there in six months.

   Given everything else that went on around it, I'm especially proud. Just wish I could convey that to you a little better.


October 22, 2005 - Happy Birthday Dad
   Pops: Today is my father's 59th birthday. To my knowledge, he has received a chain saw, an eight-foot flag and a personalized pseudo-painting of birds as his gifts.

   MacGyver would have a field day.

   Why I Still Read College Humor: Because how else would I find out about the 8,591-calorie sandwich or the potential of random Top Seven lists?

   And by the way, anyone who rates McDonald's "Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese" as better than an In-N-Out Double Double ought to have their freakin' head examined.


   • They're airing commercials now regarding the 10th anniversary of Boston.com, which has been me desktop's home page since I moved to Boston U. in 1998.

Homepage
-- This was their main bug at about 4 a.m., hours after the game ended.

   Though I suppose I shouldn't be too critical. Considering Boston's favorite son only went two innings, they were only incorrect for roughly the entire night.

   For the record, we missed all the pregame because we were watching this -- a rare soccer match where I actually saw the goal scored. Course like most, it was for the other team.


October 21, 2005 - Warning: Card Stories
   The Cult Continues: In their efforts to scare enough of America into purchasing their product, thus allowing it to continue existing, TiVo is holding funerals.

Australian For 'Strange'
-- Complete with a man who looked funeral-y.

   Hey, 2006 probably is the last year they're going to make VHS tapes. And maybe it is the last legs for the "venerable but clunky VCR that never quite lived up to its promise of convenient and easy TV recording." All I know is I have a tape of Super Bowl XXV that's been watched far more times than anything on the box.

   It's never good when you make me wonder if I don't like your product enough. Though I can't say I've ever had this problem with toothpaste or deodorant or a vacuum. We'll have to see what happens when my small sucker is finally choked with dust and I make the step up.

   Attention Scalpers: The Red Sox have announced their schedule, and for once, the general public can thank all the rich bastards who fill the good seats.

The club will debut a new Pavilion Level with new premium seating areas. The club began demolition of the existing .406 Club moments after the season ended Friday, Oct. 7, and officially began breaking the glass of the formerly enclosed area October 14. This new level of high-quality premium seating is one reason the club can maintain prices on more than two-thirds of the ballpark's lowest-priced tickets.

   Schedule-wise, I can tell you off the top my goal for the season will be to get the paper to pay for me to go to the May 19-21 series in Philadelphia. True, I could have asked them to do this in 2005, but at that point I wasn't so convinced of my own awesomeness.

   And I'm already dreading another Sox-Yankees game, and I won't have to deal with it until May Day.

   How appropriate.


   • Studies have shown that non poker players have no desire to read stories written about poker, and that poker players have an equal desire to hear bad beat stories from other poker players. However, this one is significant enough that if I don't write it down, I'm liable to forget what it felt like to have every ounce of energy sucked out of my body for about two hours.

   This afternoon, I'm playing in a tournament that -- much like Ron Burgundy -- is kind of a big deal. No-limit hold 'em, began with 230 players. First prize, $6,100. Payouts down to 30th place, which gets roughly $60.

   Everyone started with 1,000 chips, and after a slight drop, I'm rolling. My play was no so much outstanding, but I'm doing smart things and when I'm getting cards, things are falling so that I'm getting the most for my hands. After an hour, I'm at about 4,150 chips. After two, I'm either at 7,000 or just below it. We hit 40 players left, and play slows to a crawl. In about 10 minutes, one player goes out, then seven go out in like three hands.

   There are 32 players left, I have 6,585 chips and blinds are 600/1200. Though I don't know it for sure, I could set it on auto-fold and make the money. Regardless, I generally play to win, which is why I'm sitting at the computer when, as the big blind, I get KK.

   One guy with a near identical stack has raised to 2,500 by the time play gets to me, and I call. Exact cards on the flop escape me, but there's both a king, no ace and two hearts. Immediately, I realize if a third heart doesn't come up on the turn or river, I'm all but assured of winning this hand. I check -- in hindsight, probably not the best play, but I wouldn't have mattered. He bets 1,000.

   I just call, fully aware if a heart comes on the turn, I might be beat.

   Turn is a meaningless club, so let's say it's 9c. For whatever reason, I am now convinced he's on a heart draw -- probably because that's all that can beat me. Looking it up later, I'm a 5.67-to-1 favorite if that's the case ... 85 percent to win the hand. As such, I don't really hesitate and I push in my last 3,000-ish chips.

   He calls, turning over AhQh.

   River is a heart.

   I'm left with 14 chips, which go away on the next hand and I'm out in 32nd.

   By all means, criticize my play if you so desire. The one thing I kept coming back to is that everything I did was probably right. I'm not fully convinced he'd have folded if I went all-in pre-flop -- though he might have, with the money so close. My check on the flop was meaningless when he bet and I re-raised him. He's not going away with four hearts in the same way I'm not going away with me knowing he has four hearts.

   The odds were tremendously in my favor. If the river pairs the board, even if it's a heart, I make a full house and beat him. Anything but a heart, and my three of a kind wins. I move up to 15,000 chips with 31 players to go, and I can probably cruise to the final table ... at the very least to the second level of payouts for 11th-20th.

   Just in writing this, I feel a little validated. I don't think I'm going to get a better chance to double through that late in the tournament, and if I'm on a game show and have the option to trade a $60 prize for a good chance to win a couple thousand dollars, I'm making the deal every time.

   That said ... what the fuck, man. I had it all figured out. I was going to pay off a year of my college loans, get a 12-month CD, take some people to dinner, buy some gifts ... maybe blow it all on digital cable or a TV I wouldn't be able to fully appreciate. Hell, I could have bought this thing whose creation amazes and frightens me.

   But what can you do ... Vegas wasn't built on me paying off my loans. It was build on sand, mobsters and broken dreams, and I'll be going to it before it goes away in the desert winds.


   And speaking of, is it too much to ask for them to put this logo on a friggin' T-shirt I can buy?


October 20, 2005 - Bunny Colony
   Great Moments in Corporate Responsibility: I'd like to believe that there are some people somewhere that were shocked to read "Anheuser-Busch Pulls 'Water' Drinking Game," but I'm just so ashamed I missed the original New York Times story describing the "use of beer" in "Bud Pong," I didn't want to bring attention to my error.

   Seriously ... water? I would be troubled if the whole thing wasn't so absurd. As it is, I'm a little disgusted ... that's a lot of bar tap water for people to be powering through. I almost think they'd have been better off drinking the Budweiser.

   [ Insert Bud Light joke here. ]

   See You At The Operating Place: As of this writing, Powerball officials have pinned down that the single winning ticket in their $340 million lottery was purchased in Jacksonville, Ore., which would probably have been a far worse place to hold the Super Bowl than the other one.

   There is someone running around with a ticket that will make them set for life. A ticket that they bought at either ...

Hick Grocery or Hick Tavern
-- "Ray's Food Place" or the "J-Ville Tavern," which looks as though it's located in the back of a much larger store ... like, say, "Ray's Food Place"

   I could tell you how much enjoyment was derived in the office from a grocery store being named "Ray's Food Place" -- especially when we learned the owner's name was Randy -- but it probably wouldn't bas as satisfying when you find out it's a chain with location all over the someday State of Jefferson.

Seal of the State of Jefferson

   Why two X's? As this explains, it's because their largest county was screwed out of prison labor camp project some 64 years ago.

   It's like NIMBY, but backwards. That seems extremely fitting.


   • For those of you still disappointed I've been unable to complete my last two trip reports, here. It's not quite the same, but Mike went on the kind of trip I would go on if ... well, I don't know why I would tour minor-league ballparks up the Pacific Coast. But it sure seems like something I would do if I'd won the Powerball.

   Though I'd first buy baseball jerseys of every current and former Major League Baseball team. And move into a classier apartment, though considering today was the day I really cleaned this apartment for the first time in a month, the Whale City Estate feels several dozen percent classier already.

   I have no idea why the inside of my vacuum smelled like a Boston University dormitory bathroom when I dug out all the dust I'd sucked out from under my bed, and really, I'd like to keep it that way.


October 19, 2005 - Rare Show Of Bravado
   Things Worth Driving Off The Road Over: Sometime on Thursday morning, former "Pride of BC" Bill Romanowski will be interviewed by Boston's Hit Music Station, Kiss 108 -- it'll be on that morning show, regarding the aforementioned book Romanowski's trying to sell.

   Given the forum, I can say with some certainty the following questions will not be asked:

"So, how did it feel to be the NFL biggest prick for a majority of this decade?"
"Why exactly did you break Dave Meggett's finger intentionally in a pile? Roid rage? Or penis envy?"
"I just asked you about your rampant steroid use, cheater. Here's a well thought out follow up."
"What was it like to feel like that teammate's eye socket break beneath your hand?"

   Conversely, there's a good chance the following questions will be asked.

"What was it like playing in the Snow Bowl?"
"You were a legend at BC. You must have been fighting off the women with a stick!"
"How much can you bench?"
"Do you miss football?"

   Romo, who recently admitted most of the bad things he did so you'll buy his book, was apparently on Howard Stern with his wife pushing the same book. He did a little better.

Bill also revealed that, towards the end of his career, he also injected himself with cells from Scottish black sheep, which he said are supposed to regenerate tissue. Artie pointed out that Bill probably only used the cells that came from black sheep because he wanted to be able to run faster than the cells of white sheep would’ve allowed him to do.

   Maybe Romo is a nice guy, I don't know. All I know is that, during his career, there was no other football player I wanted to see carted off the field more. I dare say there was no other player I ever wanted to see carted off the field ... it was that close. Clearly, it's due to regrets about not attending Boston College, which much of my family often enjoys calling Boston University.

   Speaking Of: It's good to see clear shots are being taken on both sides of the rivalry.

Inspired by the long-term Boston College-Boston University rivalry, BC students premiered the second episode of their online soap opera, "The BC," Oct. 12.

The show mimics Fox's "The OC," but instead of Ryan Atwood, the rough kid from Chino, the show features a BU student who gets arrested for stealing cars and is then welcomed into BC by the Jesuit priests.

   The only problem is believing why a kid at Boston University would be stealing cars. Not only is his enrollment at the school proof he and his family are loaded, it's not like there's anywhere at the school people can park cars. Plus, why would the absentee administration care about some faceless student committing crime when they're busy trying to take over the universe with some laser-based doomsday device in the bowels of the Photonics Center?

College of Arts and Sciences junior Kate Hackett, an actress on BUTV's soap opera, "Bay State," said she was taken aback by the concept of "The BC."

"I'm surprised that a Jesuit university would stoop so low," she said. "I don't believe in knocking others down to make yourself feel better and neither BU nor 'Bay State' has done anything to provoke BC."

One of the main stereotypes of the show is the physical appearance of BU students, who wear Champion sweatshirts and dog tags, while BC students wear Lacoste polo shirts. Many BU students, including College of Communication sophomore Meagan Greene, said this portrayal is completely inaccurate.

"Try BU kids wear Gucci," she said. "A typical BU student wears jeans, high boots, long shirts, cropped jackets and huge sunglasses."

   Maybe, College of Arts and Sciences junior Kate Hackett, that's why no one watches your stupid soap opera. Perhaps you're the only one that hasn't figured out that soap operas work because they're based on absurd storylines, rampant stereotyping and sex, and the occasional alien abduction leading to a pregnancy.

   And as usual, the COM kid gets it. No wonder we all become instant millionaires the second we graduate.


   • After sitting in my inbox for three days, chain mail's finest work deserves to be recognized.

Subject: Wrigley, Comiskey are worlds apart
Date: Mon, Oct. 17, 2005
From: Jen
To: cooch at joncouture dot com

   Nomar Saves Two: This was written in response to Nomar jumping into the Charles River and saving two women from drowning (written in the style of "why did the chicken cross the road").

   Come on guys, O Cabrera would've saved three instead of two and done it for less and been great in the clubhouse afterward.

   Ortiz would have waited until the last minute and there were 5 more girls in the water and then saved them all.

   ARod would've done an incredible job diving in, getting the girls, pulling them almost all the way to the shore... and then would've failed miserably at the end. The cold water would've done a number on his circulation/lips.

   Renteria definitely would have saved them, because it was a life or death situation. If he'd just gone in to get some kid's frisbee or something mundane, he probably would have jumped into the water and landed on a Duckboat, sinking it and killing dozens.

   Mueller's done this 10 times but you never heard a peep about it.

   Damon would have walked on the water until he got to them, then thrown them halfway back to the dock.

   Buck Showalter jumped in, grabbed the two girls, and was about ten feet from shore when Steinbrenner jumped into the water, pulled him away, and let Torre finish the rescue.

   If someone fell in the Harbor while Timlin was there, he would save them. Anyone in the Harbor before he arrived would drown.

   Manny would wonder what all the fuss was about followed by a double finger point salute to the girls.

   Derek Lowe would have bought the girls drinks all night and then fallen in with them.

   Myers would need to team up with Bradford since only one of the girls was left-handed.

   Bronson would have saved the girls, then brought them back to their dorm to party.

   Abe Alvarez wouldn't have seen them.

   If Bellhorn tried to dive in he would have missed the Harbor.

   Millar would have shown up, sat on a park bench, talked to the cameras, came up with another slogan and contributed absolutely nothing, all while saying he's not the best athlete but brings other things to the table besides being able to swim, and rescue people.

   Grady would have left them out there too long.

   All I could add, outside of moving the story to Charlestown, was that David Wells would have done a great job saving the first girl, but only gone back for the second one if there was an incentive in his contract rewarding him for doing so.

   It's penmanship like that that makes me as loved as I am.

Subject: Nice article
Date: Wed, 19 Oct 2005
From: Peter ____ <__@tiltedmill.com>
To: jcouture at s-t dot com

   Jon,

   Thoughtful, even keeled and balanced.

   Hope over time you find a more prominent outlet for your good work.

   For whatever reason, this has been in most read links at BSMW almost all day.


October 18, 2005 - Full Medical Clearance
   Quote I Should Have Written Down: I've got nothing against The Daily Show, I just don't watch it or TiVo it. No real reason. As such, my instinct is to assume The Colbert Report is equally solid, but not watch it either.

   Just so happens I saw the replay of the first show, which featured a classic Stephen Colbert diatribe featuring this:

"You come from a generation of it-getters. You are the group that says, 'Something must be done!' And you're doing something ... you're watching television."

   I'm telling you ... if he gets over the fascination with his balls, that nightly "Threat Down" is going to become Must-See TV.

Theo's Caught In A Numbers Game
-- You know, I bet John Schuerholz wouldn't care if America knew what he made per year. So why doesn't the Internet know? The Internet knows everything!

   And while we're here, the new NBA dress code disses hip-hop culture. Seriously ... what, do you think I'm joking? Slacks and jeans with a collared shirt is racist! Just ask Allen Iverson, who phrased it as "You can put a murderer in a suit, and he's still a murderer." He's 30 years old, and he can dress how he wants! And while we're at it, he can shoot 80 times a game if he wants! You can't coach him ... he won a bronze medal at the Olympics!

"I don't see it happening unless every NBA player is given a stipend to buy clothes."
-- From here, it's Marcus Camby ... UMass's finest basket weaver.

   I only wish I could get a stipend from Marcus Camby so I can buy that Savannah Sand Gnats jersey of my dreams.


   • Why E! was on, I don't know. But the fact is, it was ... having already seen "True Hollywood Story: Wheel of Fortune," I can only assume I was subconsciously watching it to prepare for my ultimate ghostwriting work on Chuck Woolery's autobiography.

   On came the commercial for some show featuring Angelina Jolie, who not all that long ago was best known for sleeping with a family member and carrying around a vial of Billy Bob Thornton's blood ... or something like that, as you know how thoroughly I keep up with these things. Today? She's some sort of adulteress to the stars, not to mention owner of what I'm supposed to believe is the hottest everything in Hollywood.

   Um ... no. I'm calling bullshit. I've got a brain. I fixed a Gamcube today, following step-by-step directions and stripping nearly every cheap-ass copper screw they used to put the thing together. I know what I should eat and when I should exercise, I just choose not to because I like the taste of chocolate-chip cookies, chicken wings, onion rings and beer. When I travel to Chicago, I buy a frozen pizza and don't give a fudge that the original Uno's is around the corner.

   And when I look at Angelina Jolie, more than half the time, I see someone who looks like they had an accident when they were joking around with a vacuum hose.

   Bam.


October 17, 2005 - At Least It's Still Muggy
   In A Post-Curse World ...: It used to be one could buy an autographed photo of Bill Buckner and Mookie Wilson from that bastion of accidental reading material, the Airmall Catalog.

   Today? With my unsolicited MBNA "No-Annual-Fee Boston Red Sox Platinum Plus MasterCard" offer -- featuring a World Series Champions logo that will avoid the whiff of pathetic for another week -- I'm promised a free autographed photo after my first qualifying transaction.

Purse Not Shown ...
-- Not shown: The Photoshopped purse on his arm.

   All they call it is "a pivotal moment in Red Sox history." You'd have thought they'd have gone totally parochial and made sure everyone knew how vivid the purple in his lips was, how those white gloves were a total joke because it was well past Labor Day, how ...

   I am a little disappointed A-Rod didn't sign it as well, but I suppose $252 million means you can be a little more discriminating in how you debase yourself. Like, for example, allowing your Mom to clarify that this year's clutch evaporation was different from his annual clutch evaporation because his father figure died.

   But hey, maybe it was just the Curse of that Overplayed Pepsi Commercial.


   • Earlier in the game, they had shown a sign on the edge of the upper deck at Minute Maid Park: "Walk Pujols."

   Whoops.

   But, yeah. Go ahead and don't watch baseball because the Red Sox and Yankees are out of it. Assume nothing exciting is happening. Simply piss and moan about football.

Overtime comes along ... Quincy Morgan. Go, Go, Go. Had this gut feeling that we really need him to go all the way. The Maddox fumble ... "You IDIOT." Still no profanities, more "Dad ... shut ups." My 12-year-old is ushered from the room by his mother, who asks me why I can't stay as calm as Ricard. Ricard says, "It's because I'm in your house." The interception ... the ballgame. I push the eject button, out comes the tape, out comes a hammer ... the tape is smashed to smithereens. Again ... tough to talk with my kids about being rude in the face of my own behavior.

I do wish that my 12-year-old son was more of a fan.

-- Funny. I still wish your entire family left you.

   And the best part of all this? I was tired and went to bed. Now, I'll have to watch SportsCenter, and it totally won't be the same. This is akin to Witherspoon hitting the 70-foot jumper at the buzzer, with the Houston Comets about to clinch the league championship at home, to extend the WNBA Finals.

   Course, there's about a three percent chance you watched that either, but I won't be getting all high and mighty over that.


October 16, 2005 - Mont Blanc
   Dallas 16, Giants 13 (OT): One of those losses that, come the end of the season when a division title seems just about impossible, everyone can look at and say "That's why!"

   As bad as the offense was for a majority of the game -- I believe New York had 95 yards after 33 plays or something equally absurd -- four second-half turnovers makes this a game they probably could have won. The fact that Brandon Jacobs' fumble inside the one didn't matter warms me, as does that little two-play, 52-yard drive prominently featuring Jeremy Shockey.

   They really do have a complete offense, good defenses or not. They're probably baked next week against Denver, but in two weeks against Washington? They can win that, and they'll need to.

   Check The Ledges on Fifth Avenue: With the White Sox sealing the AL pennant and the Astros on the cusp and about to throw Andy Pettitte, Roy Oswalt and Roger Clemens, this seems appropriate:

Flummoxed Bud

   Podsednik! Taveras! The World Series on FOX! At least they'll have Roger and Ozzie Guillen, but still ... no Red Sox, Yankees and Cardinals makes the baby Jesus cry.


   • No bad beat on a poker table could be as bad as losing $53,126 over three inches.

Wie's troubles stemmed from the day before, when she took a drop from a Gold Lantana bush to the left of the par-5 seventh green, took a penalty drop for an unplayable lie, and escaped with a par. Two rules officials escorted her to the seventh green after her final round Sunday, and she was asked to show where the ball disappeared into the bush, and where she took her drop.

They determined it was too close to the hole -- 3 inches too close according to Wie, about a foot according to the rules officials. That's a two-shot penalty, so she should have added two strokes to her third-round 71.

Ultimately, she was disqualified for signing an incorrect card, which cost her $53,126 in prize money.

   Fortunately, she has about $10 million with which to dry her tears. And she can continue her streak of "Most Hype By A Player Who Has Never Won Anything You've Heard Of." Though my mother, while I was watching the end of the PGA Tour tourney at Las Vegas, thought that was the tournament Wie was playing in because, well, "doesn't she play with the guys?"

   In other news, all television journalism sucks. And if you think for a second I don't have about a dozen stories I could crack out from my own experience, you clearly aren't giving me enough credit.


October 15, 2005 - Rushing For No Reason
   Frequent Flyer Miles: I'd imagine no one else can match this work schedule in the coming days.

Off: Three Days
On: Two Days
Off: Two Days
On: Two Days
Off: Seven Days

   What does it mean? Not a whole lot. Though after learning I may not be covering the Patriots after all because the person I would be replacing has offered to continuing doing the job for free, I'm clearly just along for the ride anyway.


   • Coming next month, after sifting through some digital pictures today, will be a feature where I show off something I've taken in the last couple years each day. It'll be some sort of "Picture of the Day," but with a lot stupider name that I think is clever.

   These are the things you day when awaiting a Giants-Cowboys game that will either affirm everything I thought I knew about the team ... or get my hopes sky-high only to have them crash down much later.

   For the record, I've picked them to win solely because I have trouble believing Dallas is any good. But it's not as though I can't see them marching around and winning by 20. It would almost be calming.

   Kind of like not attending this since no one "shattered" any glass ... that would have been too cool.


October 14, 2005 - No Rest For The Writing Weary
   More Fashionable Than Bologna: Recently, I received one of those famed "car magnets" that have become America's new favorite "think happy thoughts and everything's awesome" collectible. A large Red Sox 'B,' it clearly shows I offer no support to the troops despite my not putting it on my car.

   It came with "Clean and Care Instructions." After reading them, it seems pretty clear that most of the country better hope the war never does actually end.

WARNING!
Magnetic car signs are meant to be temporary signage. Do not leave magnet in one location for more than 24 hours. Permanent damage to you paint may occur.

Clean metallic surface and the magnetic with a mild detergent. Wipe with soft clth and allow to dry. Avoid use on horizontal metal surfaces exposed to direct sunlight (such as automobile hoods) or temperatures exceeding 150 [degrees] F. Be aware that long-term use on surfaces exposed to direct sunlight (such as vehicles) can result in uneven fading of the surface because the magnet-covered area is shielded from ultraviolet rays.

   In other words, cover yourself in ribbons the next time you go to the beach. Unless you live in New England, of course.

   It's never going to be sunny here ever again.

SPRINGFIELD - Mayor Charles V. Ryan announced a state of emergency in the city yesterday in a bid to secure as much as $3 million in state and federal aid to repair damaged roads, public buildings, schools and ravaged spots in Forest Park.

More than 8.5 inches of rain had fallen at Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee during the seven days ending at 5 p.m. yesterday, when the day's total reached .48 inches, said Ryan M. Tremblay, a weather technician at Westover.

. . .

At Forest Park, Ryan called a state of emergency for Springfield during a press conference. He said that Hampden and Hampshire counties have been largely ignored by Gov. W. Mitt Romney, who Wednesday toured Greenfield's washed-out roads and sodden trailer park where 34 homes were condemned.

   Hey, Greenfield has the state's last Harold Johnson's. All Springfield has is an undefeated hockey team in a renovated Civic Center.

   And they play on ice, which is totally water anyway.


   • Two things happened at work today. The first -- the meeting of the committee to determine what's allowed on employee Web sites -- went apparently without incident, as the normal "don't libel anybody" and "don't run proprietary information before it goes in the paper" were the initial outcome.

   The second, well, might technically violate the first. Since they've now decided what they're going to do with me until the baseball season starts up again.

Welcome To Gillette, My New Office
-- New No. 2 writer on the Patriots beat. After all, I do have
experience covering defending champions who fail to defend.

   It's at moments like this where I wonder just exactly how this has all happened. Whether I was brutally murdered in a past life, thus earning skyscrapers of karma not simply applied to "looks" or "car care knowledge," or whether I was simply an Untouchable in India's caste system. You know, stuck cleaning public toilets with a piece of cardboard and a broom.

   I mean, I'm the kind of guy who reads this story and thinks, "Wow. I need to steal one of those Rhett statues!" That's not exactly the top branches on the morality tree. And I gamble ... poorly.

   Exceedingly poorly.


October 13, 2005 - Job Perks
   Feeling Randy: Running cross country is hard enough.

Nature Fights Back
-- Nature needn't be against you.

Lemoore High School cross country runner Brianna Horvat collides with an agressive Canada goose near the finish line in Visalia's Mooney Grove Park on Wednesday in Visalia, Calif. Horvat placed 7th in the match against Mt. Whitney High School. (AP Photo/Visalia Times-Delta/Juan Villa)

   This, however, is nowhere near as exciting as when it happened to Fabio. And really, what isn't more exciting when it happens to Fabio?

   Friendster Update: As some of you know, I have a profile there almost strictly because, as a 20-something and a dork, I feel like I should. Going there today, I learned something. Well, something other than their search features being borderline useless.

Stumpy!
-- Apparently, stupidity makes people date elderly men.

   And I would so much rather date the hot girl, too. Life just sucks sometimes. Like it apparently does if you wear clothing covered in feathers and you lost the skin between the bottom of your nose and top of your mouth in the war.


   • Just for the purposes of record keeping:

Subject: Wrigley, Comiskey are worlds apart
Date: Thu, 6 Oct 2005
From: Rich ____ <___@bbn.com>
To: jcouture at s-t dot com

   Jon,

   Loved the article. I'd like to read more (having friends from Chicago for EITHER Cubs or Sox hasn't made it any easier for an outsider/fan to understand the subtle and not so subtle differences between the the 2 sets of teams and their fans).

   Well done.

   Go Sox ( as in blood red sox, that is)

   - Rich

   Also, tomorrow, the Red Sox will be smashing the .406 Club glass at Fenway Park, truly beginning their construction of making those seats open air (but still too expensive for your filthy ass to sit in, given they're calling the new place the "EMC Club.") They're going to invite the media, hand out hard hats, smash the glass, then serve lunch.

   If they then allowed people to set things on fire, I'd drive the 60 miles. As it is, I take great solace in knowing I'll be sleeping at that hour.


October 12, 2005 - Grab A Chair
   White Sox 2, Los Anaheim 1: The White Sox call it "Sox find way to win," "run into a break" and a "non-out call." The Angels say "an apparent third out was ruled otherwise."

   Me? I agree with most of this. While I can't review tape of something I didn't tape/TiVo/photographically memorize, Bruce's No. 2 point:

Umpire signals need an overhaul. If a batter is not yet out (as in the case of a strikeout where the ball bounces), don't give the out signal. Signal a strike, but NOT an out. Right now, those are both loosely denoted by the right fist; one or the other has to change.

   is what my main feeling is. Once in Little League, I slid into home on a close play and was called nothing. I thought my foot had reached the base, the ump didn't. Catcher figured it out, and tagged me while I sat on the ground confused.

   Part of me says it's not the umpire's responsibility to announce the ball wasn't caught. But if the batter can run to first on a ball the ump doesn't think was, it damn well is. Huge heads-up play by Pierzynski, but the ump's press conference afterward had a definite feel of ass covering. Why else wouldn't he have announced "no catch, no catch"?

   Whatever. I was pissed a great game didn't get to go to extra innings and that Mark Buehrle wouldn't take a shot at going 10 innings. I was also happy we got the finish and a story in by deadline, but not on a gaffe almost as blatant as the Chuck Knobluach-Jose Offerman 'phantom tag' from the '99 ALCS. Yeah, they lost the series in 5 anyway, but I was sitting in the center-field bleachers that night ... and I could see he missed him.

   One Step Closer To Top 40 Coitus: Today's exhibit, the Black Eyed Peas' "My Humps."

What you gon' do with all that junk?
All that junk inside your trunk?
I'ma get, get, get, get, you drunk,
Get you love drunk off my hump.
My hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump,
My hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my lovely little lumps. (Check it out)

   So whether drunkenness is being created via fermented beverages or a trance-like state, the key is Fergie does not, in fact, have large breasts. She like them quite fine, though.

   I'm just glad she clarifies with "little lumps" at the end, because otherwise we would have to suspect she went for the American Dad-suggested "superboob."

What u gon' do with all that ass?
All that ass inside them jeans?
I'm a make, make, make, make you scream
Make u scream, make you scream.
Cos of my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump.
My hump, my hump, my hump, my lovely lady lumps. (Check it out)

   Lady lumps now, which identifies gender. That said, we've reached the point where you can't identify the lumps without a scorecard.

I met a girl down at the disco.
She said hey, hey, hey yea let's go.
I could be your baby, you can be my honey
Lets spend time not money.
I mix your milk wit my cocoa puff,
Milky, milky cocoa,
Mix your milk with my cocoa puff, milky, milky riiiiiiight.

   I think I know exactly what this means, but it's just ambiguous enough -- "cocoa puff" doesn't exactly emit self esteem -- I'm going to shut up and pretend we're back a couple years ago when Jack Johnson was talking about "bubbletoes" and "tar balls."

   Regardless, look for "My Humps" at the next wedding you attend ... if you have whores for friends. Not like bitches, but like real whores. With lumps in the back and front. And who like to start drama.

   Way Better Than Save Ferris: Although I'm still awaiting the memo, thanks to Nick, we're ready to go.

Free Them ... and Me.

   And just to save the looking later, this is easily one of the five greatest things I've ever posted. Right up there when the woman started asking me about which pasta pot I recommended -- 1/4/03, if you find yourself needing a quick birthday gift for a marathon runner.

   And Just So You Know: On I-195 today, I drove over a piece of tire and blew out my own. However, given everything car-related that has happened to me in the last 12 months, I consider it a positive that not only did I change the tire on the highway, I wasn't crushed by a meteor while doing it.


   • No matter what they ever say about me, they can never take away that I've made it to the Boston Globe.

Sunday's Boston Globe ... with me!
-- From Sunday's Boston Globe

   What might appear as me showing the captioned "air of superiority this belies [my] work ethics" is actually me not wanting to show everyone I put the S-T's seat holding sticker on the front of my new notepad like a tremendous dork.

   Also, while most are staring at Manny as he walks out of the clubhouse, I'm fascinated by ... something near the staff mailboxes. Perhaps I was trying to gauge if I could get out of the room with the team's Dell computer before security tackled me.

   Thanks for this go to fellow sports minion Mike Rocha, who is the only reason I know McDonald's "Late Night Menu" doesn't actually have any of the stuff you would want to eat from McDonald's on it. That is, if there's anything worth eating on a McDonald's menu other than Shamrock Shakes and old-school McCartilage Nuggets.

   And I've never had a Shamorck Shake. I'm just trying to sound cool.


October 11, 2005 - Pod-Suck-Nik
   Today's Quote Taken Completely Out Of Context: It's back after a long hiatus, and all it took was a New York Times story on the marketing of the XBox 360.

Note to hard-core video game players: Microsoft says it is aiming for your mothers and wives.

   And they're such a large company, too ... you'd think they be aiming for an audience that actually exists.

   Now, if only the S-T could hire a few Columbia graduates, we could bring back the "Ivy League Word of the Day" and all would be right with the world.

There Are Still Some Sox To Root For
-- Remember when I was winning awards for my weekly column because the New England AP folks thought I was funny? Reading this, I don't ... I'm just trying to remember if I deluded myself so much, I actually faded out of reality.

   It's funny ... the other day, I was trying to figure out what actually happened to my certificate for third place in that sports column category. I still have the collection of writing they handed out with all the winners, so maybe it's in there.

   This concludes a conversation most people would only have in their heads while writing.


   • Much as I would like to discuss the fact a committee has been formed at my workplace to discuss the content of employee Web sites, I think the fact that I just said that will bring me more joy than anything else that could happen this week. Considering I return to work tomorrow with no real idea of what I'll be doing until March, it's like if some company started marketing a real-life version of Mystery Date.

   Is it bad form if I start posting stickers around my cubicle that just say "Free JonCouture.com"? I mean, it wasn't my idea, and I'm so loved by so many, how could it possibly go wrong?

   Feel free to not answer that. Or at least wait until I publish the memo that comes out of all this.


October 10, 2005 - Lost In A World Of Drizzle
   Los Anaheim 5, Yankees 3:

Sheffield, Crosby As Friends

New York Yankees outfielders Gary Sheffield (11) and Bubba Crosby collide against the centerfield wall chasing a two-run triple hit by the Los Angeles Angels' Adam Kennedy in the second inning of Game 5 of their American League Division Series in Anaheim, Calif., on Monday. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)

   schadenfreude: (n) German, from Schaden (damage) + Freude (joy): enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others.

   And perhaps the best part? If New York had stuck with what got them here and played Bernie Williams in center, Sheffield catches the ball for the third out because Grandpa Rock Knees gets nowhere near the ball in right-center.

   So, the new world champion will come from either St. Louis, Chicago, Houston or Orange County. And we have a pair of tremendous Championship Series on our hands, though the NL version could be over quick. With Boston and New York out of the picture, the AL is going to shine ... even if few in the megalopolis give a fudge.

   Peace In Our Time: Apparently, Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey were spotted wearing their wedding rings in Heathrow Airport, where they stopped for pictures. I know I breathed a little sigh of relief, because it increased the chance they'd be buzzed at the security checkpoint, freak out about it and be shot immediately as potential terrorists.

   Not really, but man ... would that ever take the heat off the papparazzi for a couple of weeks.


   • Just as a matter of public knowledge, I thought to myself today, "You know, now that the Red Sox season is over, it would be a good time to start actually working on a site redesign," which would be the first one since this started in May 2001.

   Just throwing it out there, since the alternative is to reveal what I actually did today. And given that it has nothing to do with popping water balloons in space, I can assure you there's no point in going into it.

   Sometime last week, I got a nice note from a reader who liked my Wrigley, Comiskey column. Someday, when I go back to work, I'll post that.


October 9, 2005 - Dandy
   I Forgot What I Was Going To Say: It's the other side of kindness -- have a free house, pay the taxes on it.

   Clearly, the answer is never to do anything nice for anyone.


   • Had I not been playing poker and other games that, under the guise of poker, are basically "Hey, pick a card!," this game probably would have gotten turned off somewhere in the middle.

   At five hours and 50 minutes, it was one minute longer than last season's 14-inning, Game 5 battle between the Sox and Yankees. Was it a greater game? I don't really think so when you factor in the teams involved, what's at stake and that the Atlanta Braves are the worst dynasty in sports history.

"It gets old. We're tired of the classics that we're losing. This reminds me of Minnesota (a 1-0 loss in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series), the greatest game ever played, but we lost. This is probably the greatest division series game ever played, but we lost."
-- John Smoltz, here.

   Get that Game 7 of the World Series on ESPN Classic, why don't they.


October 8, 2005 - 22 Stories in 11 Days
   Baseball Blowout! -- Day 11: Let's just say they're wasting no time getting on with it at Fenway Park ... if you're in the area and have an eye on sports collectibles, just show up with a moving van and start grabbing things. No one will ever know.

Change On Horizon For Sox
-- I think if I'd wanted to, I oculd have done two stories today given the information presented. But this works just fine, and allowed me to sleep by 12:30 in the morning.

   And in the pursuit of order in the universe, the first two teams out of the postseason are the worst two. Goodnight, Padres ... though you won the division like I said you would, there's a half-dozen teams in baseball who missed the playoffs but think, given their better record, they could have won a game.

   One of them is the Mets, though, so take that with a grain of salt.

   I Said I'd Watch "Just Like Heaven:" And now, a review of 'In Her Shoes'.

I just saw this movie last night and I really enjoyed it. It was one of the better movies of 2005. I cried in this movie, and dude, I never cry!

Cameron Diaz surprised me, and was actually really good. Not Oscar-worthy but good. Toni Collette was great and I was so surprised when someone told me shes British in real life, because she nailed the accent. Shirley MacLaine is so great. She has such a wise look about her and every line she said delivered. The directing and writing was great as well. It is probably the best chick flick of the 2000's so far.

If I had to say this movie had any flaws, it was WAY too long. They coulda cut it down 30 minutes. But still, every second was enjoyable.

Go see this movie on Friday. Its a great touching story. Guys, take your girlfriends to see this. You will BOTH love it.

   Normally, I wouldn't have given this a second thought. But when the review is submitted by a guy with the username "Jasonnpimpsz," I have to wonder exactly how all the numbers add up.

   I mean, I suck at math and pimpin' ain't easy, but I suspect I would not be bawling in a dark corner of the cinema.


   • I guess the critical question for me is "Now what?," given it's at least 100 days until we on Elm Street spend maybe a half-second debating whether I should go to Spring Training before deciding it's just a terrible idea on all fronts.

   And this is before they see my $1,100 expense report that is entirely legitimate. And I didn't even buy my plane tickets ... that was my boss.

   I guess for now, let's just keep grasping to the past.

My view in Chicago.
-- My view of the ALDS's first pitch.

   Give me a couple days before we get into the pictures from last October. I'd like to think I still have my dignity.

   Least until I end up in West Springfield pretending there's something in my eye during the final moments of "Corpse Bride."


October 7, 2005 - Blasphemy By Committee
   And So It Ends: Because I'm a sucker for stats:

COOCH AND THE 2005 BOSTON RED SOX
Games Attended: 48
Venues: 3 (Fenway Park: 45 / U.S. Cellular Field: 2 / Yankee Stadium: 1)
Record: 27-21 (27-18 Regular Season, 0-3 Postseason / 27-18 Home, 0-3 Road)
Team Results Breakdown: 14 Teams Faced
vs. NYY: 10 Games, 5-5
vs. OAK: 5, 4-1
vs. TBY: 4, 3-1
vs. TOR: 4, 2-2
vs. LAA: 3, 2-1
vs. KC: 2, 2-0
vs. TEX: 2, 2-0
vs. CWS: 5, 1-4
vs. BAL: 4, 1-3
vs. SEA: 2, 1-1
vs. ATL: 2, 1-1
vs. PIT: 2, 1-1
vs. CLE: 2, 1-1
vs. MIN: 1, 1-0

   I could go more in-depth, talking about seeing so many of the walk-offs, but I don't think you need or want that.


   • Baseball Blowout! -- Day 10

   And it ended. Fast. Hard. Clean.

Wait Till Last Year
-- It offers a nice beacon of hope, which is what I felt outside given how everything ended.


'El Duque' Saved It In The Sixth
-- I write some long sentences sometimes. More so in the other story, but I'm just thinking about it now.

   Technically, we'll blow out into an 11th day because there'll be the post-loss weeping and packup on Saturday. At least I think it's Saturday ... I haven't had a grasp on what day of the week it is since this whole thing began.

   Oh, and by the way, the Dodgers suck. At least I can take solace in realizing right now, the Giants are somewhat more highly regarded than the Patriots. Never saw that one coming.


October 6, 2005 - Exhaustion Returns
   If I Had It To Do All Over Again ...: I'd have called it "Baseball Bonanza!," not "Baseball Blowout!" I like bonanza better.

   Also, there's something extremely humbling about realizing you paid $40 to have your laundry done and $74 to park your car at the airport, but the guilt goes away when you remember you've been spending countless hours working for free covering the Red Sox.

   I wonder if the paper even has an Audit Committee I could be called in front of.

Red Sox Bats Have To Come Back To Life
-- Not exactly blowout worthy, but a nice day off. Though given it's October, "day off" translates to flying across the country and working. I love my job.

   • Baseball Blowout! -- Day 9

   After deciding I would not be checking a bag because there were somewhere in excess of 300 people at the United counter, I opted to put my camera in my suitcase. Given we were on a small commuter-like plane, that bag was then grabbed from me at the gate for storage.

   So of course, after takeoff, we then flew directly over downtown Chicago and Lake Michigan for what would have been one of the most awesome pictures I've ever taken.

   I guess I'll just have to settle for my new wallpaper:

Wrigleyville McDonalds
-- Historic relic of the past, Wrigley Field

   I'm a sucker for nostalgia. And the old-style Chicken McNuggets and their precise shapes.


October 5, 2005 - Sucker For A Loud Crowd
   Too Confused To Laugh: For some generally inexplicable reason, I couldn't sleep past about 6:15 a.m. Apparently, I'm caught up. As such, I ended up watching the movie I happened to catch on TV from near the beginning, Shaolin Soccer

   And allow me to just say, "What the fcuk was that?!"

   Now, I enjoyed the film -- given I had a remote in my hand and I watched it all the way to the end, that much should be clear. But there are so many things that my little to know knowledge of subtracted from my possible enjoyment. Among them:

   -- Why did the female lead have some awful facial blemishes that disappeared for the ultimate scene?
   -- Why did she go to a drag queen for a makeover?
   -- Why did the female soccer team's best player have a moustache?
   -- Why did every time their supersonic shots tore up the field, it fixed itself ... except for at the end?
   -- How did they not lose their endorsement deal for pummeling the Board of Directors?
   -- How did the main character completely recover from a severe knee sprain via either like two minutes or a halftime pep talk? (I can't remember)

   Sure, when you're dealing with a movie where the whole premise is essentially "Crouching Headball, Hidden GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL!!!," you're going to need to suspend reality for a couple hours. And I did, and it worked.

   But I'd like to know why the moustache thing was funny. It was, but I require further knowledge.

   The Worst Impulse Buy I've Ever Made: At the request of a reader whose girlfriend is going to kill me if she reads this -- and I know her, and she could at least bruise me badly -- today I bought two shirts with a mockup of the Wrigley Field sign reading, and I quote:

WRIGLEY FIELD
Home of
The World's
Largest Gay Bar!

The 'Very' Friendly Confines

   In a matter of about 10 seconds, I decided I wanted one for myself, didn't want one for myself, wanted one for myself, don't like gray T-shirts and don't wear a size Large. Unfortunately, the transaction with the man pulling them out of a duffel bag happened somewhere in the middle of all that.

   Technically, this should be put in the section below, but in homage to reality, I'm making that as short as possible.


   • Baseball Blowout! -- Day 8

   First off, story links will be posted when I get back to Whale City, which should be sometime around 3 p.m. if that delightfully helpful Indian woman at United Airlines customer service is as good at her job as I think she is.

Sox Blow 4-Run LeadDrop Game 2
-- Oh yeah. They did have a 4-run lead, didn't they?


Wrigley, Comiskey Are Worlds Apart
-- Exactly the kind of story that got me this job in the first place ... actually not having to write three in a day allowed me to do it. I'd like to think people noticed.

   Seriously ... her competence level was downright inspiring. It legitimately restored a small portion of my faith in humanity.

   And really, in all honesty, I am at a tremendous amount of peace with this. If this is where the road ends, I can honestly say the 2005 Red Sox got a hell of a lot farther than they should have gotten given what they had in the gun. Sure, I picked them to win the series in four games. Yes, I was beginning to question whether I should go to church after they took a 4-0 lead in exactly the fashion I had predicted days earlier.

   No, at no point did I think of Bill Buckner when the ball went through Graffanino's legs. At least not until everyone in the rest of the universe started screaming it.

   Maybe it's rationalization, but I've been extremely lucky this year. I'm on the cusp of completing a full year as an at least semi-competent baseball writer. Of the teams left, I've already seen games in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, St. Louis and Los Anaheim. San Diego isn't going anywhere, and Houston? What, I can go to a city that may be a muggy 125 degrees tomorrow? I'll pass.

   In three years covering the Red Sox on and off, I've been to the playoffs three times. And to be honest, I'm kind of falling for the White Sox a little bit. Where else are you going to hear a fan scream "Bunt! BUNT!" at a guy moments before you hear him scream "6! 5! 3!" as though short-to-third-to-first is a logical double play with a guy on first.

   I'm sure he's lovely. Maybe he could find a Bank of America branch somewhere, or have told me there was an ATM in the movie theater across the street from my hotel all this time.

   Unless you were here, you can't really know how loud this place was for these two games. Not like Yankee Stadium, where as soon as it gets loud, I want to lob a grenade over the railing to the right and kill half the bleachers. Here, when it got loud, I just kind of smiled to myself. These fans want this so bad ... good Lord, you'd have had to be pushing 50 to have seen the White Sox win a playoff game in Chicago before Tuesday.

   When Joe Crede leaked a seeing-eye single into center to make it 4-2 in the fifth, you'd have thought they won the World Series right there. In this post-Sox title world, I love that. I love being at games and events that matter.

   Would it be fun to do another World Series? Of course.

   But in a lot of ways, it'd be a rehash of what already happened. And there's no way it could live up to what came before.

   It wouldn't surprise me if that comes off as selfish, but that's how I feel. Hey, I didn't use any connections to sneak into Wrigley Field and touch the ivy ... you can't hate me that much.

   Now all that said, let's at least give a little bit of hope that they can send me back to U.S. Cellular on Sunday with a chance to crush a few dreams.


October 4, 2005 - Evening On 35th Street
   No 'El'evated Expectations: On my first-ever ride on the Chicago subway/elevated train, it was about five stops before the pair of kids wearing all black -- both in very baggy pants and chunky boots, but only one of which painted his nails -- sat down and started talking about that show where the chick completely got her head shot off for killing one of the lieutenant's men.

   Then it was trying to identify the guy who played the Headless Horseman in Sleepy Hollow. Not Ray Park, who was the body, but Christopher Walken. Apparently, the now deceased Christopher Walken given they were talking about him exclusively in the past tense.

   Know who else is cool? The guy from Reservoir Dogs, Steve Buscemi. He's totally one of their favorite actors. And "The Dead Zone" is an awesome show, though the one in the Insane Clown Posse T-shirt stopped watching it right around when Anthony Michael Hall's character started having the visions of the Senator and the end of the world.

   And he really is getting much better at painting his nails, but that only came after he cracked out his iBook, couldn't understand how it had gotten dirty when it was in the case and had told his friend he should just eBay for a new laptop.

And the whole time, all I really wanted to know whether they were the teenagers they sounded like or the late 20-somethings they looked like.

   Technically this happened on my ride in from the airport, but I'd forgotten about it until seeing a crushed Faygo bottle on the ground. If you got the reference without the link, I know who you are.


   • Baseball Blowout! -- Day 7

   Hey, it could have been worse (to reuse a phrase). They could have lost 15-2.

In Game 1, White Leaves Red With A Black Eye
-- You'd have thought this would have been easier than it was. But upon reading it, the couple real flat zingers show I was clearly straining. I thank you for your patience.


Believe It Or Not ...
-- I'd have to say my favorite story of the postseason thusfar. It just came to me during the game, then came together really well. Got it done in not time flat, which for me and my style is an excellent sign.


Skip Goes With Field Flexibility Over Extra Arms
-- The notebook, which ended up a real nice blend of live and pregame. Apparently I'm a much better writer when there's baseball to cover.

   Now, instinct tells me all the things I know. It was only just one game, and it did go somewhat similar to what I had previously thought would happen. When I said Boston in 4, I said it with a Game 1 loss in mind.

   But dear goodness ... nothing like testing my faith in my feelings, is there? Though I will say, hearing a Chicago crowd roar as load as they can gives me nowhere near the same feelings of dread as hearing them roar in the Bronx. That makes me downright ill, possibly because after all this time, I know that New Yorkers never need a another reason to feel superior to the rest of the world.

   In a completely unrelated note, I'm immediately calling bullshit on the Tigers hiring Jim Leyland. My buddy Ed at work went on a rant earlier this year when the Royals hired Buddy Bell, flipping that the same old guys keep getting the chance to manage. You should have seen him when Gene Mauch died. You'd have thought Mauch stabbed his puppy growing up.

   The Leyland thing reeks of desperation by Dave Dombrowski, who hasn't exactly showered himself in glory in the Motor City. "Hey! I hired this guy before! He won before!" Will it work? Sadly considering I'm ripping into it, it probably will. The Tigers don't feel that far away, and the infusion of new (even if ancient and viscous) blood with a championship pedigree might be just what they need.

   But seriously, you're telling me there was no one else in the organization that would have been a good fit? Did they even attempt to look? Or was Trammell fired in part because Leyland was already there?

   These are the things you think about on the baseball road. Not the Yankees beating Bartolo Colon ... that's too dark, and I'm already pretty bummed about the fact nearly all downtown Chicago restaurants closing at 10 p.m. during the week.

   Not good when they kicked you out of U.S. Cellular at 9 p.m. Though it was good to know I could get a six-pack of Killian's for $1.50 more than one Heineken would have been from the mini-bar. Plus, it'll be fun to get asked "Did you really buy a six-pack of beer and a Freschetta pizza?" when I submit my expense report at the end of all of this.

   It probably wasn't better than the Original Pizzeria Uno would have been. But I never could have watched two episodes of "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit" there.


October 3, 2005 - It Was Sort Of Windy
   They're Just Like Mine: As with every trip I've made to Chicago since it began publishing -- of which I think this is the second -- I picked up a copy of RedEye today.

   Mainly because it's one of the few newspapers written for my attention and intelliegence level.

   On a big day for the paper because they've decided to stop attempting to sell each day's issue for cash, aside from viewing a cover story -- COVER STORY with SIDEBARS -- on this guy and his book on picking up women, the only thing I learned is that Paris Hilton broke off her engagement.

   And I learned it at least four times via charts, talkbacks and various photographs, which proves that the future for my industry has never been brighter.


   • Baseball Blowout! -- Day 6.

   Now if you consider I was late to the day's press conferences, nearly collapsed due to heat exhaustion and hunger, and returned to my room to write only to find that I had no Internet access, you might assume my trip to Chicago was a bad day.

   However, if you consider I had three in the last row of the plane to myself, I have an entire suite-style room to myself, and I got both full access on a press pass with my name spelled right and three stories filed despite everything else, you'd see it was at worst an average day.

Boston Arrives In Chicago Wary of 'Devastating' Pitching
-- The story I got filed from the field. It'll take me at least a day to get used to every reference here to the "Sox" meaning the Chicago variety.


Boston's Big Boys
-- I may well have been delirious when I wrote this, which isn't good considering it has been in the works for months. But nevertheless, I'm happier with it than the outcome of Monday Night Football.


Francona Holds Off On Playoff Roster
-- Not the greatest notebook in the world since I skipped all the White Sox stuff, but in the context of the deliriousness previously mentioned, it could have been worse.

   Though my hotel has no Internet access, I'm right in the middle of Chicago. And I mean in the guts ... there's an ESPNZone across the street, a Harley Davidson Cafe and California Pizza Kitchen in the connected building, the original Pizzeria Uno and accompanying Pizzeria Due about a block away and every other touristy thing you could imagine nearby.

   Course, I won't go to any of them in my time here. I want to eat at some local Mexican joint next door once, with the rest of my food coming from the market about two blocks over. Along with the toothbrush and toothpaste that are still in my car in Providence ... don't ask.

   There's one thing I want to go see when I'm here -- Wrigley Field.

   That and a split. I have a feeling I'm getting both my wishes.


October 2, 2005 - And Away We Go
   Chargers 41, Patriots 17: You remember in 2001 when New England beat Indianapolis something like 44-17 at Foxboro Stadium, truly starting their historic run as a franchise.

   I'm not saying this could be bookends, but it could be.


   • Baseball Blowout! -- Day 5.

Sox Take Wild Card; Now Everybody's Even
-- The way the scoreboard posters put Boston and top of New York, despite them having won the division title, would be charming if it weren't so stupid.


Curt Delivers Wild Card, Quietly
-- Well played on the title side by the new guy. Well played.


Clincher Came Early, Courtesy of White Sox
-- It was nice to count the 46 names in the box score. Since it felt like at least 42, it was real good to confirm it down at 11 p.m. after I'd driven back to Whale City on my own recognisance.

   Well, no more chart. Just two lines.

THE PLAYOFFS
Chicago White Sox vs. Boston Red Sox
Los Anaheim Angels vs. New York Yankees

St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Diego Padres
Atlanta Braves vs. Houston Astros

   That's easy enough to follow. And follow it I shall, as I have a 9 a.m. flight out of Providence on Monday morning in hopes of being at U.S. Cellular Field on the south side of Chicago by a quarter to noon.

   Let's pick this up there, shall we?

   As I have a hotel room in downtown all by my lonesome, you can bet I'll be posting from it. "Dork Takes Web Site On Road" ... it's a Cindarella story.


October 1, 2005 - Real Easy Math
   How I Almost Got A Cat: After my regular old boring 13-hour day -- which I think is something we all say at one time or another -- I pulled into my parking lot and saw a small creature run up the sidewalk and down my street. Figuring it was a skunk or something, I tread rather lightly walking up to the corner of my building, only to notice it was a rather small cat.

   This isn't totally out of ordinary, and what usually happens is the cat sees me crouch down to call to it and runs away, either because it's generally skittish or because something on my person looks like a kitty-killing device in feline eyes. Not exactly the best trait to have. But anyway, this cat sort of skittered away, but clearly stayed within a reasonable distance. As I slowly approached, it clearly wasn't afraid, and began to meow at me.

   This is the point where I wish I'd been looking down when I drove in, since if there was ever a point when me finding a stray cat would be bad timing, it would be in the waning moments before October begins.

   But we'll get to that soon enough.

   Eventually, after going back and forth down the sidewalk a handful of times to where the cat was -- and having him/her/it rub up against my leg, I made a deal with myself. I wouldn't pick up the cat in case it felt like being rabid, but if I could get the brown-eyed, missing-some-of-the-left-ear fellow to follow me into my apartment, I would at least take care of it for the night. Which, for anyone who has had a cat knows, means you're taking care of the cat forever.

   So, I pet it for a little while, leading it to start climbing up on my leg and rubbing his/her head against my arm. This was not going particularly well, especially since it was cold outside and I was so deeply conflicted about the whole thing -- it's not like I could take the cat to the vet anytime soon, nor do I have any real cat supplies.

   Eventually, kinda guiding it to my door, I got kitty to walk into the lobby of my building and take one tentative step into my apartment. But as I started to close the outside door, debating whether just to leave the kitty inside my building to be found by one of the other tenants, it ran back outside and into the night.

   I hope it's all right, and I hope it finds a home where someone will be around for the better part of a month. This of course means my October will magically clear in the next two days, but if nothing else, this will give my mother something to go ballistic about the next time she reads this -- in my lifetime, I think we've acquired at least 10 stray cats.

   Which is the only reason I went back to look for it, I suppose.


   • For whatever reason, I was hit by a wave of loneliness driving home from the park tonight. Maybe because it finally struck me that I'm going somewhere by myself for a couple days for work, and it's the other place with fancy overhangs at the top of all the decks.

U.S. Cellular Field
-- Ooh! "Management boasts that the ratio of washroom fixtures
to fan capacity is one of the best in baseball."

Sox Lose Battle For First ...
-- While in the car, I actually realized an error I'd made and drove to work to get it changed. It then was fixed for the print paper, but ran online wrong. This is what happens when you've embraced technology to the fullest.


Clement Ready For Short-Rest Playoff
-- In a sad turnaround, today, the notebook is probably the best thing I did because I had time to be thorough.


Rotation's Rock Didn't Have It
-- After I was done, I found another great quote elsewhere on my recorder that I wanted to use. I had no idea writing could make one so tired.

   As you know, Baseball Blowout! - Day 4 was going to have another chart. But with the division lost and New York holding out Mike Mussina for a game that really means nothing to their postseason scenarios, things get real elementary from here on out.

   And let me just say, hearing Joe Buck announce on the FOX broadcast that he needed to "go across the Charles and find an MIT student" to calculate all the possible scenarios made me want to break into his box and choke him with a microphone cord. Yeah, he was being all "aw, shucks" for the people, but all the people who were struggling to describe things to other people around the box probably really can't follow it all. But it's real easy ... if you make a chart.

BOS 2-1 NYY
CLE 1-2 CWS
BOS 2-1 NYY
CLE 0-3 CWS
Cent: CWS (98)
East: NYY (95)
Wild: BOS (95)
Out: CLE (94)
Cent: CWS (99)
East: NYY (95)
Wild: BOS (95)
Out: CLE (93)
BOS 1-2 NYY
CLE 1-2 CWS
BOS 1-2 NYY
CLE 0-3 CWS
Cent: CWS (98)
East: NYY (96)
Wild PLAYOFF
CLE@BOS
Cent: CWS (99)
East: NYY (96)
Wild: BOS (94)
Out: CLE (93)

   So, yeah. The Angels winning again to tie Boston at 94-67 now means nothing due to Cleveland losing again and falling to 93-68. If the Sox win Sunday, I'm flying to Chicago on Monday. If the Sox lose and Cleveland follows suit Sunday, I'm flying to Chicago on Monday. If the Sox lose and Cleveland wins Sunday, there's a one-game playoff at Fenway Park on Monday. If the Sox win the playoff (like they didn't in 1948), I'm flying to Chicago on Monday. If the Sox lose the playoff, I'm writing a high school football feature sometime in the middle of next week.

   Let the MIT kids be, because they need all the time they've got to try and pick up that Wellesley chick they've had their eye on. And let me research flights, car rentals and hotel accomodations in Gary, Ind., because it ain't that hard to see where this is going.


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