November 30, 2005 - Fat Guy Strangler
   The Art Project: As November ends, we revisit what it's really all about. Well, for me, anyway.

Taking The Field
-- Taken June 28, 2003, as the Red Sox take the field.
Click here for a 1024-by-768 wallpaper version.

   Those bastards keep me fed, and from covering high school football games. It's kinda of like Chinese food ... because I haven't done it in a while, I miss getting to do it. Right up until it's the third quarter and my pen is frozen, it's raining and the cheerleaders' chatter is making me question our entire educational system.

   And as November ends, let's not forget -- thanks, Allyson! -- that I promised 31 days of photos. As such, when I return from my vacation next week, look for a special final shot that absolutely no one will use as their wallpaper.

   Well, Julie might. Especially since she actually expressed sadness that the project was over. Whether or not the rest of you are as vocal, hope you all enjoyed it.

   Probably Better Than Corona: Those of you in Western Mass. know that Springfield's Salty Dog is your source for more than the "extreme flair" the Web site promises. It's "that place with the mechanical bull and arm-wrestling tables." It's "the one with the drinks all scrawled on the walls." It's "where all those skanks you went to high school with now troll for people."

   OK, maybe not the last one. None of those girls went to high school, anywhere.

   Anyway, the Salty Dog is apparently soon hosting a promotional party for "Booty Beer." I'm pretty sure it's an actual product, though their Web presence seems to be limited to this press release, which may or may not point to this brewer.

Boston beer drinkers will be able to get their hands on some booty. Booty Beer will be launched in the Boston area and uses a sexual pitch to attract their target audience, males in their 20s. Their marketing plan involves hiring models, sponsoring local events and even maybe create a magazine. Itís probable that this beer will have less body than itís advertising.

   At the very least, it would add media jobs to a region that so desperately needs them.

   The Question No One's Asking: So wait ... Billy Joel can still sell out arenas?

   • Words that really should be said a whole lot more, Volume 12:

"And now, the conclusion of our 350-pound fat suit investigation."

   Bless you, Entertainment Tonight. Were it not for you, I'd never have learned people don't want to sit next to fat people on the bus.

   If only someone had taught you it's because fat people fill two seats, no matter how far her skinny-fat ass scoots over.

   Course, it's not like they were going for realism. After all, though she was done up like a 350-pound woman, she wasn't wearing a belly shirt nor could I see her ass crack.

   And yes, I am reveling in proving someone's point.

November 29, 2005 - They Need A John Curry
   The Art Project: Everyone loves tennis, which is why I'm pretty sure all but one of you have never attended the U.S. Open.

Hangers On
-- Taken Sept. 8, 2005, from the upper reaches of Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Click here for a 1024-by-768 wallpaper version.

   Since I don't really have much to add here, note that Charlie has posted the latest portion of his "vacation writeup." In it, we learn that the next time a hurricane strikes St. Thomas, the wourld will lose ...

   Several trees.

   How Much Is Your Dignity Worth? Considering I watched not a second of Rock Star: INXS, I'm clearly way behind the curve on this one. But that said ...

INXS ... Ceased To Kick
-- Winner alert.

Some members of the band INXS pose before giving a live performance to promote their latest album 'Switch' at a record store in New York on Tuesday. Left to right are band members Kirk Pengilly, Jon Farriss, Andrew Farriss and new lead singer JD Fortune. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

   At said live performance, we learned that the band actually fell in love with Fortune right away, but that he nearly "blew it."

"Really everybody on that show taught me to see things using my peripheral," Fortune explained. "I was very much focused on becoming a part of INXS from the very beginning to the very end and for the rest of life ... so that's where my heart was at, my mind and my body were kind of going, 'Well, maybe I have to do this 'cause there's this guy who does it this way, and she sings like this and he sings like that.' And I had to forget all that and just be myself again. And I was trying to do the 'Oh, I'm in Hollywood, check me out, check me out,' and meanwhile I just needed to be myself."

   And it gets better.

"I'm an INXS fan, and I think that the television show was set up perfectly. But let's not forget that this is INXS out here, this is on a global level, live performances connecting with music, and to make those same sort of connections through a record has to be really genuine because people see through B.S.," he explained. "And the reason why INXS is INXS is because they are genuine."

   The reason why INXS is INXS, last I checked, is because they're the band whose lead singer may have died masturbating with a belt around his neck. Though I suppose we could debate that.

   After all, they're a group that always about being more than what they seem.

Switch is INXS' first album since 1997's Elegantly Wasted and first without Hutchence, hence the title.

"INXS has always had a sort of knack for ambiguity and wordplay; I mean the name 'INXS' right there is a wordplay," Farriss said. "And Switch has a few meanings. Clearly we've switched singers and switched into a whole new millennium."

   Yeah, regular fucking poets they are. Next, fill me in on why your lead singer felt the need to tattoo "Human Being" on his forearms, as though his Canadian heritage and wing tattoos would lead Americans to think ... "Eagle?"

   The only thing that sucks more than INXS taking themselves seriously?

   • Quite simple.

BU Sucks.
-- BU Basketball taking themselves seriously.

BOSTON - The BU men's basketball team dropped a hard-fought game to the University of Rhode Island 48-38 Tuesday night at Agganis Arena. The Terriers, who fell to 0-4 were led by senior forward Kevin Gardner who had nine points and 12 rebounds. BU was without three of its players, as Ben Coblyn did not dress due to an ankle sprain, Tony Gaffney was suspended for violation of team rules and Matt Wolff injured his knee early in the game. URI improved to 3-1 and gained a measure of revenge for the Terriersí 73-68 win in Kingston last season.

   You shot 28 PERCENT for the game, against a Rhode Island that might finish last in the A-10. If you were that undermanned, you should have let me play, for God sakes.

November 28, 2005 - Don't Let Go
   The Art Project: It would have been crazy enough that I actually played TPC Boston, never mind doing something interesting while there.

Hangers On
-- Taken Aug. 1, 2005, and still the most improbable drive of the year.
Click here for a 1024-by-768 wallpaper version.

   And to think ... this or the recovery wasn't even the round's best shot. That honor goes to the chip-in from the greenside rough on No. 17, a shot which I will remember fondly well past the point I give up the game due to lack of playing partners.

   Gimme A Pill! PILL!: The reason I started reading the New York Times was because every so often, they do those stories you would do if you had infinite resources and eyes in all the right places. Stories like "Cheerleaders Pep Up Drug Sales."

Known for their athleticism, postage-stamp skirts and persuasive enthusiasm, cheerleaders have many qualities the drug industry looks for in its sales force. Some keep their pompoms active, like Onya, a sculptured former college cheerleader. On Sundays she works the sidelines for the Washington Redskins. But weekdays find her urging gynecologists to prescribe a treatment for vaginal yeast infection.

Some industry critics view wholesomely sexy drug representatives as a variation on the seductive inducements like dinners, golf outings and speaking fees that pharmaceutical companies have dangled to sway doctors to their brands.

But now that federal crackdowns and the industry's self-policing have curtailed those gifts, simple one-on-one human rapport, with all its potentially uncomfortable consequences, has become more important. And in a crowded field of 90,000 drug representatives, where individual clients wield vast prescription-writing influence over patients' medication, who better than cheerleaders to sway the hearts of the nation's doctors, still mostly men.

   There are so many things I could say right now ... most of them not exactly falling in the realm of 'politically correct,' but something short of 'This story would be better with more pics.'

Still, women have an advantage with male doctors, according to Jamie Reidy, a drug representative who was fired by Eli Lilly this year after writing a book lampooning the industry, "Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman."

In an interview, Mr. Reidy remembered a sales call with the "all-time most attractive, coolest woman in the history of drug repdom." At first, he said, the doctor "gave ten reasons not to use one of our drugs." But, Mr. Reidy added: "She gave a little hair toss and a tug on his sleeve and said, 'Come on, doctor, I need the scrips.' He said, 'O.K., how do I dose that thing?' I could never reach out and touch a female physician that way."

Stories abound about doctors who mistook a sales pitch as an invitation to more. A doctor in Washington pleaded guilty to assault last year and gave up his license after forcibly kissing a saleswoman on the lips. One informal survey, conducted by a urologist in Pittsburgh, Dr. James J. McCague, found that 12 of 13 medical saleswomen said they had been sexually harassed by physicians.

   Again ... I know a cheerleader. Well, a former cheerleader.

-- Ignore the man on the left.

   If she ever came up to me and offered me drugs, I would clearly take them. nless they were Percocet ... I'm not going through that joy ever again.

   • There are certain ledes that just make you want to read more. Among them:

They called it "The Mongolian Cow Sour Yogurt Super Girl Contest," and for much of the year, this "American Idol" knockoff was one of the hottest shows on Chinese television.
-- Semper fi. Carry on.

   These, however, would pale in comparison to what would be produced if my Los Angeles Dodgers hired ... I can't even bring myself to say it.

   If the Dodgers hire Grady Little as their manager. Just the fact that they're even thinking it makes me go, "Well, he did win 188 games in two seasons. He did gain quite a bit of popularity in the clubhouse right from the start."

   That, in and of itself, should show why this is a horrible, horrible idea. Were I capable of it, Grady Little would have made me cry. At worst, he made me watch New Yorkers celebrate and gain something else to pad their asanine egos with.

   For his sake, we'd have been better off with the crying.

November 27, 2005 - Feely-ing It Up
   The Art Project: Because you can never have enough proof of how much time I spend just walking around Fenway Park.

Baseball Seats
-- Taken Apr. 11, 2004, in the roof box benches on the first-base side.
Click here for a 1024-by-768 wallpaper version.

   Really the one section of the park that I've never sat in, but would like to. Course, given what they cost, the team obviously thinks I'd rather sit in the area where a foul ball could kill me, not softly dent my head.

   So far, by the by, I've seen two foul balls fly into press boxes at games -- once in Baltimore, once at Fenway. Neither one was handled with what anyone could mistake for 'grace.'

   Close, But No Checkmate: Chess people ... distraught they're not poker.

Treat it as a sport. Poker players are now respected as athletes, and tournaments are covered as major sporting events, with extensive ESPN coverage. Why not chess?

Tournaments are adrenaline-fueled competitions, and top grandmasters lift weights and jog to prepare themselves for the pressure of clutch games. After a long chess game, I'm hungrier and more tired than I am after my cardio-kickboxing class. Funny, lively announcers can make the moves dramatic -- and there's no question that chess is full of eccentric and engaging characters with made-for-TV stories.

   Why not chess? Because two wrongs aren't supposed to make a right.

   Let's get one thing straight: poker players are not athletes. If they were athletes, they wouldn't be playing poker, because they'd relish thing like not being on their ass at either a computer or a felt table all day. Yeah, some do get out. Yes, the mental side can be draining.

   No, that has nothing to do with anything.

   • One of my coworkers is departing Monday morning for a four-day trip to Las Vegas, and on his way out, asked us what celebrities we thought he'd see while he was out there.

   After consulting the oracle for such things, I can only say ... people still consider John Larroquette and The Little River Band celebrity sightings?

   I say that as a huge fan of 'Night Court,' of course. I mean, if it was Richard Moll ... I'm on that plane.

November 26, 2005 - Subway: Eat Now
   The Art Project: Please note that the prior two days have been updated with snow and fire. Now, note that today allows you to be a virtual me.

-- Taken Oct. 12, 2003, at the rained-out game of the 2003 ALCS.
Click here for a 1024-by-768 wallpaper version.

   This was my actual seat ... note the distance from both the cool people press box and the buffet with the lobster rolls (not shown). Personally, I like these seats better, if only because you can get into the game a little more.

   When I don't like them is when drunken fans start screaming about how we're taking seats that could be sold to regular fans, but given how drunk they were, I probably could have taken them.

   Jingle Ball Rock: As someone with a rather extreme eclectic taste in music -- we needn't go over the radio preset list again -- I find it hard to believe someone could create a large concert lineup that would make me shudder while driving.

   Not everyone, however, is Boston's Kiis Jingle Ball, which is both "really sold out," doesn't allow still cameras and is being held in Lowell with a lineup of Fall Out Boy, Gavin DeGraw, The Click Five, Marcos Hernandez, Pussycat Dolls, Frankie J, Howie Day, Rihanna, Kayne West ... and BRONSON ARROYO!!!!1!~

   Though I did just find out that West is responsible for the new anthem of my generation:

If you aint no punk holla We Want Prenup
It's something that you need to have
Cause when she leave yo ass she gone leave with half

   there must be something to this because, for as nice of a guy as Bronson Arroyo is to talk to, I'd rather the arena be crushed by a meteorite that have to hear him sing live.

   • Remind me after the holiday season is over that I have to tell you a wonderful addition to the "Cooch is a complete idiot" file. It's a heartwarming tale of my hamfisted attempts to help the economy leading me to make three trips to the same store in roughly 18 hours.

   By the by, I neglected to mention my circle of friends has quickly moved from zero engagements to three -- Brian, Nick and Geoff, who has no current journaly thing, but his Mrs. does. All involved have already received their congratulations via the strange phenomenon of face-to-face communication, but I suppose it couldn't hurt to bring it up again.

   While I do have other friends who have become entrapped in marriages and engagements since they've left me in the dust to go make a million dollars, become Red Bull distributors or accidently destroy the cure for cancer (sort of), the quick tripling up leads to the logical question frequently posed to this author. And, of course, I have a logical answer.

   On Friday night, I learned for the first time that engagements rings are worn on the left hand, which is why they sell things called "right-hand rings."

   If that doesn't clue you in about how far behind everyone else that I am, well, you're my mother and will keep asking until one of us is dead. Bless her heart.

November 25, 2005 - Bored
   The Art Project: Yesterday, snow. Today, snow's mortal enemy ... other than golf clubs.

Dark Fire
-- Taken May 25, 2003, at Todd's graduation party in northern Conn.
Click here for a 1024-by-768 wallpaper version.

   In a semi-drunken stupor, this is the pit fire I kept throwing bottles into because I thought I could make them explode. Also, I spent 20 minutes in the inflatable bounce house, trying to grab and hang from the inflatable support.

   I may do weird things when I drink, but at least I eventually succeeded.

   Pat Morita: The things you learn.

The younger of two children of migrant fruit pickers, Noriyuki Morita was born in Iselton, Calif., in 1932. He contracted spinal tuberculosis when he was 2 and spent the next nine years in a sanitarium near Sacramento. It was there he got the name "Pat."

. . .

Feeling out of place, Morita decided to try his hand at show business. He found gigs as a comedian in San Francisco and soon packed up his family and moved to Los Angeles. He opened for top name acts like Ella Fitzgerald, Johnny Mathis and Diana Ross and the Supremes and eventually became a headliner in Las Vegas showrooms and at Playboy Clubs. His family said he took pride that he appeared with Redd Foxx at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.

   Never mind the fact that the original "Karate Kid" and original "Rocky" netted a combined 14 Oscar nominations.

   • Don't really have much today, though it is good to know that the one UMass game of the day that was worth attending was the one I didn't attend.

UAB 86 - 77 UMass
Not close. Not full. Not a whole lot of things.

at Springfield, Mass.
Minutemen (1-2)
Blazers (1-0)

   When inbounding the basketball can be listed as a failing, right off the bat, things aren't going to end well.

November 24, 2005 - Thanksgiving Tumble
   The Art Project: As today marked the first snowfall of the year in our God-forsaken region, my faovite picture with snow in it.

Bent Tree
-- Taken Dec. 7, 2003, beneath my kitchen window in Whale City.
Click here for a 1024-by-768 wallpaper version.

   The more I look at it, the more I realize it needs to be one of those unspirational Despair posters.

   Get The Tissues: I can only hope I'm not the one who gets this news to Lisa first.

In their joint statement, released Wednesday night, the couple said, "After three years of marriage, and careful thought and consideration, we have decided to part ways. This is the mutual decision of two people with an enormous amount of respect and admiration for each other."

   Respect and admiration ... clearly how Mrs. "Saving Herself Until Marriage" saw it all working out. Her father coordinating when her private life could be properly released as to try to kepp the losers at Entertainment Tonight from staking out her house for three full weeks.

   I don't know about you, but all my saved copies of "Newlyweds" are now entirely re-watchable. Kind of like in the uncomfortable way people kept looking at Tedy Bruschi photographs from the most recent Super Bowl trying to find something wrong.

   Agawam 18, West Springfield 12: Five interceptions by the visitors, and we've reached the point where I don't even know the players or coach by having gone to school with their family members.

   Considering I'm pretty sure I almost got hypothermia when I went to the game as a senior, I'm pretty glad that train has sailed.

   • The Thanksgiving roundup, which in no way includes the trade because news like that doesn't seep into the woods.

   I ate a lot.

   I sledded.

   I got stuck in a field.

   The car cleared 100,000 in the metropolis of Becket, Mass.

   And there was hitting. Lots of hitting.

   You haven't lived until your 13-year-old cousin, for lack of anything better to do, starts hitting you in the head.

November 23, 2005 - Time For America's Drunkening
   The Art Project: Since it's going to snow tomorrow, let's attempt to burn down the entire world.

-- Taken this past summer at the Providence WaterFire ... one of them.
Click here for a 1024-by-768 wallpaper version.

   It's the only time you can lounge on the grass of a major city and not be accused of being a bum.

   • It's always nice when a new group of people learns my high school's nickname is the Brownies, because then they can regale me with things like, "The Brownies? The Brownies?!" and "It's really the Brownies?"

   Happy holiday, people. I drank nothing tonight, but I did see the trendy bar on the walk home from the paper packed to the gills. That counts as a contact drunk.

   And go, you mighty 2-7 Brownies.

November 22, 2005 - Bought
   The Art Project: Sooner or later, the evidence was going to pop up that I went on a Caribbean cruise.

Fake Bar
-- Taken Sept. 1, 2004, in the semi-authentic portion of Costa Maya, Mexico.
Click here for a 1024-by-768 wallpaper version.

   This place, outside the entirely bullshit cruise ship port built in Costa Maya to ensure Americans didn't actually have to witness any part of what Mexico's really like, was soon before we met the guy from Somerville who apparently survives down there now by selling pot to tourists. We knew he was authentic because he called it by its actual name, "Slummerville."

   It is rather lovely, as was the little "private beach" thing we eventually reached in our dune buggies. I just wonder what those little kids who tried to sell us flowers while we were driving by thought of it all.

   Boston University 2, Harvard 2: Never would have thought the result here would have ended up better than the result of the men's hoop game with Michigan, especially after things opened with Harvard outshooting the scarlet 15-2, but I suppose we can still never underestimate BU Basketball's ability to lose games.

   The first period was so bad for the Icedogs, it's rather shocking to realize they nearly deserved to win this game ... things were split in the second period and BU was rather dominant in the third, but their power play is just so crippingly bad. A solid 0 for 7 tonight, which makes for a smooth 6 for 45 (13.3%) on the season. Their passing was actually better tonight, but it's not like they had a bunch of quality power play shots turned away.

   It made for a nice moment late in the game when the "glorified cable access" CN8 broadcast team aired a complaint from the truck that they didn't have the chance to air a pregame interview segment with Jack Parker on said power play unit. Banter being banter, it was nowhere near as good as when, while trying to air a replay of a scoring chance in the third period, the screen was interspersed with scrambled clips of a Boston Lobsters tennis match from earlier this year. Ghosts in the machine, I suppose.

Strongman Won't Let Injuries Stop Him
-- Also known as, "What I Did On My Monday Vacation." It was fun when, watching tonight's Celtics game, I got to see the team's trainer and go, "I talked to that guy!" like a four year old.

Kelliher's Return One of Few Laker Bright Spots
-- That headline is going to get me in trouble ... I have no doubt.

   • Some of you older folks probably look at today as the 42nd anniversary of JFK's assassination in Dallas. Some of you younger ones might view it as the day you finally got your long-awaited Xbox 360.

   I choose to combine the two and remember this as the first anniversary of JFK Reloaded.

The page today.
-- The page that started it all, today.

   Not surprisingly, any actual evidence of the game -- even the controversy being revisited 12 months after it began, is nowhere to be seen. These things usually get forgotten, no matter how loud the first shouts are ... the contest surrounding the game played itself out, with someone winning an amount far less than $100,000 for scoring in the high 700s on the 1,000-point scale.

   There's a petition that's still getting signatures up to today, but even that isn't exactly fertile ground beyond, you know, reading what gets written by the sort of people who believe in the concept of the online petition.

   My personal favorite? A tough fight, but I have to go with "This is an outrage! We are letting our kids practice ASSASINATING THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA FOR ENTERTAINMENT! This is not only sick, it is disgusting. This 'game' is nothing more than a beginner's guide to assassinating the President. Practice makes perfect they always say. Well this is one case where we do NOT need to be giving people the chance to become perfect at something."

   Yes, Andrew from Omaha. Because we're making sure would-be assassins will be ready for the next time the president rolls through Dealey Plaza in a open-top limousine. I can't believe no one else thought of this ... then again, 9/11 totally happened right under everyone's noses. What can we expect?

   This just seems like one of those pop culture moments destined to drift into the back of the mind.

   Which, of course, is why I remember it.

November 21, 2005 - Purposefully Vague
   The Art Project: Course, even if the SoCal stuff is fake, it doesn't change the fact that most of it can be pretty impressive.

Shining 'Subway'
-- Taken Dec. 30, 2002, at the Downtown Disney monorail station.
Click here for a 1024-by-768 wallpaper version.

   I don't actually remember if we took the monorail anywhere or where we took it, but I do remember not being able to get into the ESPN Zone because it was a Monday night and we got there after the football game started.

   So instead, we ate at some fancy fake plantation house with portable heaters outside. There may have been wine involved.

   And I do actually like Southern California ... I just don't love driving enough to want to move there.

   The More Things Change: As was reported by Justin in Sunday's comments, the entire radio spiel about the changes at Lazer 99.3 was completely unwarranted. I happened to be in the car as Sunday became Monday, and their grand format change sees their "Version 2.0" become "everything ... that rocks."

   The first three songs? "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" by Guns 'N Roses, "Falling" by Staind and "Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)" by The Offspring. All songs they probably would have played before, but now apparently they want to step into the vacant rock station role they should have taken two Septembers ago when Radio 104 disappeared.

   Oh, Western Mass. We all love your quaintness so.

   • Today was what one could easily call a journalism day: spending most of the morning interviewing for one story, coming home in time to take a phone call and write a second story, then ... well, the whole "Sox trade for future ace" thing.

Trade Just What The Sox Need
-- Sixty-four minutes, and it doesn't seem terrible. It's amazing what happens when you sit down and realize that the trade you've been mixed about all that is worthy of a 'Yes, this is a really good idea.'

He Does It All
-- The first of two HS football features that I've been working on far too long.

   And I didn't even get to the part where I watched the Celtics' trainer shoot a Class 4 laser around into an injured calf muscle.

November 20, 2005 - More Disjointed Than Ever
   The Art Project: Like most things in Southern California, its impressiveness is masked by the fact that it's entirely fake.

The Matterhorn!
-- Taken Dec. 30, 2002, during my one trip to Disneyland.
Click here for a 1024-by-768 wallpaper version.

   Well, that statement was probably exaggeration a little bit, but given the state of 'alcoholic regret' I'm in right now, everything seems worse than it really is.

   The body telling you it's rejecting all of your recent input has a way of making things seem worse than they are.

   • I'm reminded of something once said by a high school friend with whom I was supposed to meet up with today, but didn't for various reasons.

"Nothing like paying for breakfast, then seeing it again."

   Fortunately, those corn flakes and apple cider weren't paid for. And though the burn on the way out was in some way refreshing and did generally make my person feel better than it did before, the whole escapade reminded of things I'd long since stopped worrying about.

   On the plus side, today was the first time all season I got to watch a Giants game with my father. And let there be no doubt that, in Western Mass., they showed this instead of this.

   I do have to say, the Giants continue to not sell me like they've sold some people, but at 7-3 ... things are looking good. Though beating the Eagles was probably harder than it should have been, the fact that they did what they had to do means the game at home with Dallas is the season, plain and simple. Win it, and by golly, they could walk their way to a first-round bye and another blowout loss in the Super Bowl.

   Manning vs. Manning ... the Earth might cease to spin.

   And how did it all end, 24 hours after I had a quintet too many? Young Jen, learning from my mistakes by powering through $30 worth of margaritas while I washed my one beer down with the contents of a water tower.

   I suppose I might also have swallowed some Listerine later in the evening, though a better guess would be it actually burned through the soft flesh of my gums and entered my bloodstream directly. When they say you can feel it killing germs, they neglect to mention the parts of your soul that are leeched out with it.

November 19, 2005 - Winter Overload
   The Art Project: I can unequivocably say this will become your new favorite picture of Wrigley Field. Ever.

Wrigley McDonalds
-- Taken Oct. 5, 2005, same as the first time I posted this here.
Click here for a 1024-by-768 wallpaper version.

   You have no idea how much I'm enjoying this project. Totally takes half the thought out of doing the update every day, which is nice when you figure I've clearly lost my mind.

   • Why do I say that?

   Tonight, I went and saw Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Opening night. Packer theater. And not only have I never cracked one of the books, I dare say I've lightly chided people for cracking open the books.

   You know how I always say I'll do anything once? Chalk that up here.

   Though I will say I did enjoy the film. I'm not belligerent ... if as many people enjoy the books and movies as do, there's clearly something to all of it. Granted, I think I would have enjoyed it more if I wasn't in the very first seat in the very first row of the theater, but it's an enjoyable tale even for someone who spent the first 90 minutes trying to connect all the dots with the little that I knew going in.

   Though I was at least moderately creeped out by the sexual aspects of a film where all the main characters are 14. And it isn't exactly the sort of fluffy depiction that I'd be taking my kids to.

   Well, then again, I could see myself doing it. After all, I was raised in a family where I had my first beer at 13. And hey, it worked! No alcohol problem!

   Two other thoughts: The ditzy bitch gossip reporter had this magical quill that floated in the air, transcribing interviews as they happened. I have to get one of those.

   And I want Harry and Hermione to get together. I don't exactly know why, I don't exactly know what it means ... I just kinda felt like it has to happen at some point. So someone please alert me when that happens.

   And also, more quidditch. I like sports. Don't tease me.

November 18, 2005 - Pain
   The Art Project: Second verse, not really all that different than the first.

-- Taken June 28, 2003, also before Gabe Kapler's long-awaited debut.
Click here for a 1024-by-768 wallpaper version.

   Tim Wakefield pitched that day, if I recall correctly. As did the legendary Brandon Lyon, the star that emerged from the "Bullpen by Committee" experiment ... Maybe it really wasn't Grady Little's fault that he couldn't trust anyone in his bullpen.

   Yeah, and the reason interest in this has dried up is because I just realized the download links have been screwed up for a week.

   Fun With It long ago reached the point that the ESPN Web page was the source of far more infomation than any one person could ever want. It was, in fact, everything -- which will seem a lot more relevant in a moment.

   Looking for I don't recall exactly what today, I noticed some additions that, at best, are for niche audiences.

Things I Might Need
-- Your source for laser eye surgery, student loans and online masters' degrees.

   All it's missing is the "Tell 'em you saw it on!" tagline.

   Course, the actual sports coverage reached that point a while ago. See, of course, "Intersex fish discovered off California coast." I suppose this is what happens when "nearly a billion gallons of treated sewage are released into the Pacific Ocean every day."

   Yeah, I have nothing else to add to that.

   • It's happening somewhere else.

   As the radio goes, I (like most people, I suspect) only listen in the car. My Whale City presets are a good mix -- Boston's WBCN as the anchor with solid support from the pseudo college-radio of both WBRU and WFNX, when I can get it. The rest is just incidentals -- WEEI's FM flagship for the seven minutes bursts when I can stand dumbass sports radio, plus a little Top 40 guilty pleasure crap from "Kiss 108" in Boston and "92 Pro FM" in Providence. Gets the job done.

   When I reach Exit 8 on the Mass Pike, however, and I have to flip to the Western Mass. presets ... it gets a little messy. Even since the demise of Radio 104 into the hip-hop crapola Power 104.1, there has been no one station that could stand alone. The presets are an advertisement for iPods -- the nearly identical "Kiss 95.7" and "96.5 - WTIC," the slightly older bent of "Mix 93.1," the classic stuff of Rock 102, the eclectic thinker's blend of WRNX and "Lazer 99.3."

   The last of those being the reason why all of this is relevant, since as I drove home tonight, the telltale promos were playing.

"Anything less than everything ... is NOTHING."

"Because less is, well, less ... we're giving you EVERYTHING."

"Ever get the feeling that Springfield radio hasn't been giving you everything?


The new LAZER 99.3 ... MONDAY

   It's the telltale talk of a format change, and it looks to be the same format where I've heard that voice before. You probably have to, given this "Jack FM" is "Playing what we want" around the continent.

   Seven years ago, WHMP 99.3 was in near every high school senior's top four with Rock 102, Radio 104 and WAAF, which actually won the coveted "Best Radio Station" title from the Agawam High Class of 1998, but I have to think that was partly because of these then-local shock jocks who'd be fired for saying Boston Mayor Tom Menino died in a plane crash on April Fools Day.

   Anyway, WHMP soldiered along as that sort of pseudo-college radio station you'd expect to have in a town like Northampton. The real alternative radio where there was a good chance you might hear something you'd never heard before at any time. Given how late I was coming to new music -- I didn't buy my first CD until I was in high school -- I loved it because it was exactly what I was looking for.

   As other things changed, it seemed content where it was. Sometime after 104 disappeared and WHMP had a clear shot at the market uninhibited, it shifted a little. They became Lazer 993, which played a little more Ozzy Ozbourne and Disturbed, but really wasn't all that different when you considered the alternatives.

   Unfortunately, when the weekend ends, there'll be no more alternatives. Perhaps proving itself the one media format least suited for the future, 99.3 will into the same homogenous crap that K-ROCK will become in New York, that countless other stations have and will become in the next year. Yes, disembodied voice, anything less than everything is nothing.

   Problem being that, should you play a Roy Orbison song, a Ludacris song, a Click Five song and "Smells Like Teen Spirit" all in a row, that's not everything either. That's a woeful attempt to be the stations that I used to turn to to find those things. One station can't be everything ... granted, they work under a different business model, but does satellite radio have stations that play "everything"? No! They have stations FOR everything.

   The nut of this is, if I saw the ratings books and saw that rock radio doesn't work in Western Mass. the same way it apparently doesn't work everywhere else, I can't say I'd fault the decision. But just once, it would be nice to see that the kind of station I would listen to isn't relegated to some corner of the Internet.

   Yes, and the first day my new source for everything plays Alice in Chains or Stabbing Westward, as an example, I'd like someone to call me. Pardon me if I don't hold my breath.

November 17, 2005 - Not Answering Machine
   The Art Project: Entering a small run of close-up objects which further delays a cavalcade of baseball photos ...

Bullpen Grasses
-- Taken June 28, 2003, before Gabe Kapler's long-awaited debut.
Click here for a 1024-by-768 wallpaper version.

   Kapler would have four hits that night, the day after Boston's legendary 25-8 drubbing of the Marlins. The sad thing is, I don't even think the Sox blowing a 9-2 lead.

   But it is fun to read that day's writeup and have the "Worst Red Sox Game I Have Ever Witnessed Live" be when they went out meekly in the '99 playoffs.

   Yeah, that held No. 1 for a few more months.

  nbsp;Owls: Why? I don't know. But I think I like it.

   And I also think it's better than when I first saw one and said, "What the hell is Orly?"

   • Just a thought ... if the Aeon Flux movie is to be true to the original cartoon from MTV's Liquid Television, don't the following things have to happen?

   -- Charlize Theron needs to be at least 65 percent uglier than the previews show.
   -- She needs to be fully naked about 17 times in the film.
   -- She needs to die at least six times.

   But most importantly, don't the directors have to eschew any sort of plot to make sure that no in the theater, country or world knows what the hell is going on? I mean, wasn't that the point of the show? To be so completely disjointed that you kept watching because, at any point, anything could happen since nothing made any sense?

   Well, either that or because you were looking for cartoon boobs. That does seem to be the rationale discussed on the aforementioned link.

   Which isn't to say it was a worse candidate for a movie than, say, The Head. I mean, how can you not enjoy a show where one of the principal characters hasa lawnmower blade permanently jammed in his forehead? Though I suppose there are many reasons, but I just don't want to know what they are.

November 16, 2005 - Just 460 To Go
   The Art Project: Entering a small run of close-up objects which further delays a cavalcade of baseball photos ...

Wrigley Bricks
-- Taken Oct. 5, 2005, across from the right-field wall at Wrigley Field.
Click here for a 1024-by-768 wallpaper version.

   I have no idea why I looked down and felt like I needed a closeup of a mixture of quarried bricks, but I somehow blame Brian, who both owned the same camera I do and started doing crap like this long before I ever thought about it.

   As a matter of fact, if it weren't for him, the world would have been spared of this lovely snapshot.

Trash Pickers
-- The time I found a Harvard doctorate in the trash.

   Academic papers, books, degrees and other things that shouldn't be thrown out, right across the street from where I had set the pavement on fire with lighter fluid.

   Well, the pavement wasn't what was burning, the lighter fluid I was poking with a stick was. Even I'm not quite that stupid.

   Why People Watch TV: In one hour this evening, Comedy Central aired one show centered around Scientology and Tom Cruise's refusal to come out of a closet and another which, by building an entire plotline around self-pleasurevation and the Veggie Tales, may have taken over the crown of "Most Awful/Awesome Show Currently Airing New Episodes."

   It's enough to make you wonder how I ended up there, and whether there was anyone else in America who led into that hour by watching "Mad Money" on CNBC. Lest you think I actually invest in the stock market, understand I only watch it because I think his sound effects and graphics are funny. And white people greet him with "Boo-yah." And he sometimes throws his chair.

   Though when I found out Google, which had its IPO at $100 (I believe), is currently sitting at roughly $400 a share ... let's just say a small part of me became very, very sad.

   • Now, I have no idea (nor any real insane desire to know) if this story is true. However, if it is, said man who swapped text messages with some Hollywood starlet has more balls than most people I know. Myself included.

After a drink and still discussing the fact that Ms. Lohan might be a guest in the hotel, I pick up my cell phone and call the Soho Grand main phone line. I ask to be connected to Lindsayís room. After a brief hesitation, the operator puts me through. 4 rings, then voicemail.

"Hi Lindsay, its Jason Lewis. I am in the lobby of the SoHo Grand with some people, thought it would be nice to meet up for a drink. Why don't you head downstairs if you're free, should be a fun time. If not, give me a call, my cell number is ..."

   Conversely, I have no idea (and absolutely no insane desire to know) if this story is true. However, if it is, I can confirm without a shadow of a doubt that I, you, your mom, your girlfriend and your dead uncle have at least as much balls as the Welshman in question.

Jobless Geoffrey finally collapsed with blood pouring from his groin as horrified drinkers put his testicles in a pint glass of ice. They were handed to paramedics who rushed him to hospital ... but surgeons could not sew them back.

Geoffrey spent several months in a psychiatric unit as experts tried to fathom his actions. He is now back home in Senghenydd in the Welsh Valleys, and is still unsure why he did it.

   Trust me ... if you read the second story, you wouldn't have anything else to add either short of something about the Darwin Awards, and they're already well aware of it.

November 15, 2005 - Holidays
   The Art Project: Sticking with the Vegas theme, it's where you go for a similarly odd, but enriching experience.

Southie St. Pats
-- Taken Mar. 21, 2004, at the South Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade
Click here for a 1024-by-768 wallpaper version.

   Admittedly, the lone guy who bought a wig and put a flag in his pocket is not the finest image we'll see in November, but it did reproduce better than the two zoom jobs it was truly competing with.

Leprechaun Guy     Irish Prize
-- Leprechaun Guy vs. Irish Prize

   If you didn't already deduce it, you really should spend at least one St. Patrick's Day in South Boston. Just get there in February to make sure you can find a parking space.

   Get Over It Day: I am not the first one who linked to this, but I am the first one who probably smiled upon reading the following resolution regarding it:

I need to get over the fact that I wasted $5000 to go to the [expletive deleted] Super Bowl -- $3000 for a ticket, $1000 for my flight, $1000 for my hotel -- only to see my Eagles lose the damn game!
-- 23-year-old, male, Philadelphia

   Five grand to go to Jacksonville, Fla., and he didn't even get to play a round of golf at TPC Sawgrass. And they say there's no justice in the world.

   Sometimes, stupidity really does bring its own reward.

   • The logical question now would be to ask everyone just what exactly they would like to get over for a day, whether it be now or in the spring.

   But since logic needn't enter into the equation, watch these deep-fried turkey mishaps.

   If that's not a swerve, I don't know what is.

November 14, 2005 - Word Choice
   The Art Project: I suppose this would have been better served for the day I win several thousand dollars, but since that's never coming ...

-- Taken Aug. 1, 2004, while making Fremont Street look nicer than it is.
Click here for a 1024-by-768 wallpaper version.

   Downtown/Old Las Vegas is not only not impressive, but depressing. To get there from the Strip, you have to drive past all the drive-thru wedding chapels and cheap apartments no doubt inhabited by those less fortunate who are the scrubs at all the casinos. And then you get there expecting to be wowed by the Experience glowing above your head, and all it's doing is protecting the cheapo casinos in that part of town from being worn away by the weather.

   Though the Golden Nugget is pretty nice, and also the place where I saw the most elderly women straddling oxygen tanks at slot machines.

   Duke 64, Boston University 47: The press release called them 'stingy.' The AP called them 'pesky.' And to read the Globe, you might have thought they actually had a shot to win the thing for a couple of seconds.

   Me? I'm just floored that the DFP made the trip. Apparently all the money they've saving by allowing the office to range far past the "lovable hovel" stage into the "let's hope the health inspector doesn't come in again" region is benefitting the readers.

Duke University's Cameron Indoor Stadium looks like someone stuck a basketball court in the middle of a church. The outside is a castle, complete with archway entrances and reinforced with stone.

The inside houses the Cameron Crazies - a very much louder and larger equivalent of BU's Dog Pound. The ceiling is low like Walter Brown Arena and the noise reverberates off the wooden benches that seat the students, who are so close that members of the press have to hurdle the media desks from the court because there's no other way to get there.

The fans have an array of chants and taunts, not unlike BU's hockey followers, and hand out one-page fan guides that contain strict directions and rules for the Cameron Crazies ("We don't sit during the game ... so go to the gym and build up those calf muscles") and even suggestions ("Possible chant: 'Sucks to BU!'").

-- While it sounds like I'd love the place, I'd expect a better chant. Though it gets a reluctant pass since the teams hadn't played in a decade-plus.

   This will all be fun to remember when I get caught up in them again in February, just in time for them to lose in the America East first round to Albany. Though with them playing URI at Agganis on Nov. 29 and traveling to UMass on Dec. 12, this could become a recurring theme.

In A Final Vote ... The Better Man Won
-- As soon as A-Rod was announced the AL MVP winner, I began to hope against hope I wouldn't really have to write because I had absolutely nothing new to add to what I'd already said. All things considered, this did come out far better than nothing.

   • So apparently early on Monday, hours before the WWE would revisit their "tribute show" formula for deceased wrestler Eddie Guerrero, ESPN Radio's Colin Cowherd thought it would be wise to stir the pot. So he goes on his show and says, as the story is being reported, that "who cares that he died" and that Guerrero's death was not "newsworthy." He also started speculation on the "unknown causes" of his death.

   So of course, people are flipping out, calling ESPN Radio and e-mailing the guy. He failed to understand the cardinal rule of celebrity: Everybody cares, and wrestling and NASCAR fans seem to care a little bit more -- just ask Gerry Callahan, who did something similar after one of the Petty children died at the track in Loudon, N.H., and got ripped as a "stick-and-ball writer" among other things.

   Depending on who you believe, ESPN has now received thousands of calls and had to create a new inbox just for wrestling complaints. On the e-mail side, one of them is probably this one, the first I read on the whole thing:

I don't even know if anyone will even read this or care, but I want you to know that there are a lot of people that care about Eddie Guerrero (WWE star that passed away yesterday morning). Regardless of what you or your listeners think about professional wrestling, it does not change the fact the Mr. Guerrero was a human being and to be so ignorant (Colin) by disrespecting him or his job a day after his death is borderline heartless.

I am a 32 year old male that (as most men in my demographic) spends a good portion of time watching Sportscenter, College Game Day, and NFL Sunday Night to mention a few shows on ESPN and its affiliates. I want you to know that the actions that your Radio hosts has just caused you a viewer and listener. I also intend to post this on many other sites, so people can see how disrespectful you really are.

FYI- The disrespectful comments were made on the Colin Cowherd show this morning on ESPN Radio, accusing Eddie and other wrestlers of steroid use,making mention that "who cares that he died" this isn't even "newsworthy" and speculating as to the "unknown causes" of the death.

Thank you for your time.
Anthony Landrosh

   As someone with a history of not taking his own advice, I just hope he proofread before the Internet inundation. Especially since said posting made sure to mention the guy was a "paralegal," which all this time I had thought was a fancy way of saying "I'm not out of law school yet."

November 13, 2005 - Pizza's Better At 4 A.M.
   The Art Project: Cracking back into the baseball photos, it's the end-of-season trip that was the calm before the storm.

Camden Nosebleeds
-- Taken Oct. 2, 2004, looking up Eutaw Street at Camden Yards, Baltimore.
Click here for a 1024-by-768 wallpaper version.

   I agreed to go do for a final weekend trip early in the season just to see the place, and it turned out to be both meaningless baseball and everything as advertised. Fireworks display after the Friday night game, foul ball flying into the open-air press box and all but embedding itself in the back wall, and Sidney Ponson laying the first bricks of his road out of town after the Sox fans outnumbered the home crowd by an absurd percentage.

   Plus, I had my first (and I think only) Chipotle burrito sitting in the vicinity of the National Aquarium. There's really no backstory to that ... I really am that desperate to just fill space.

   Vikings 24, Giants 21: I'm quickly becoming convinced I do have control over these things, as this was the week I picked the Giants to cover a 9.5-point spread. Amazing, considering I'm currently a Monday night win away from being 21-5-2 against the spread in the last two weeks. Gambling hotlines have been built on less.

   I didn't watch a second of it, as I was busy learning that the world's greatest small chain restaurant has taken my two favorite items off their menu: the Grilled Salmon BLT and the Kitchen Sink pizza, which isn't that hard to figure out unless you think I eat washers and drainplugs.

   And I don't, much fun as that would be at parties.

   • Given the news of the day, it seems as good a time as ever to mention that $195.97 plus shipping is just slightly more than I would pay for this collection of all 21 WrestleManias on DVD.

   Which isn't to say I wouldn't sign for the package if one of you bought it for me, but really, I think by Internet law I have to show you my boobs before I can start asking for gifts.

   Given I had not watched the TiVo'd recording of Eddie Guerrero's final show until after tonight's festive beverage festivities (with a very special guest), I can assure you that it's very weird to watch something knowing that the guy they keep showing died 48 hours later.

   Especially when the last time he was on television, he got hit in the head by a folding chair. I just can't imagine other careers where ther would resonate so well.

November 11-12, 2005 - The Spectrum's Other End
   Thanks: Though it may be the best two-star hotel in which I've ever stayed, the Fenway Howard Johnson has apparently decided they can say they have "Free Wireless" even if said wireless doesn't actually connect to anything. Thus, this special 2-in-1 post.

   Maybe I could have connected to the billing system and pillaged credit card information. I suppose we'll just have to chalk that one up as an opportunity lost, though I did get to see the gutting going on atop Fenway Park. Only in a construction scenario could I be standing outside and hear, "Hey, didn't that used to be a light tower?" and not be concerned.

   The Art Project: As such, it's a special double art post that will try to at least stay topical. First, in honor of Friday's hockey game.

Terriers Win
-- Taken Jan. 3, 2005, at the end of a game they actually won.
Click here for a 1024-by-768 wallpaper version.

   And now, in honor of Saturday's dorkulations -- very minimalist Web site now, by the by.

Alien Jerky
-- Taken July 30, 2004, in Baker, Calif., off Route 15.
Click here for a 1024-by-768 wallpaper version.

   While it has nothing to do with a college bowl trip, nor was it taken with other college bowl people present, it seems to fit the tenor of the group quite nicely.

   About Friday: Because these chances are so rare, and because I'd like to avoid discussing Saturday's whoopsie with the alum still present:

New Hampshire 3 - 2 BU
Seven power plays too many.

@ Agganis - 11/11/05
0 (10)
0 (9)
2 (15)
2 (34)
No. 12 Wildcats
1 (18)
1 (11)
1 (8)
3 (37)

   I'll give them this ... they at least made it interesting.

   It occurred to me about midway through, once UNH had takes a 2-0 lead on a couple of early power-play goals, that a win would have provided a rare triple -- beating Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire in consecutive games. It made me very excited.

   And then the home team managed to get the hops they hadn't been getting all game, scoring 20 seconds into the third and again on a roofed shot with 8:03 to play. Got everyone real loud, and up.

   It lasted exactly 14 seconds, as Jekabs Redlihs got called for hooking and New Hampshire pushed in a bouncing puck with six seconds left on the ensuing power play. The end-of-game goalie pull was more fruitful than most, with enough happening in the offensive zone that they could have tied it, but they just didn't.

   And then Jack Parker went apesh ... apefudge when BU got called for too many men on the ice with four seconds left, leading to a minor on him and an after-game discussion that wasn't exactly civil.

   Whatever. Sadly, the better team won, as the best player on the ice was the same guy it was when I saw UNH dismantle UMass -- goalie Jeff Pietrasiak. Against a lesser player, the Terriers easily could have had five. Course, if they'd been able to hit the net have the time they might have too, but that's hockey.

   It was very nice to get to watch it there again, especially since I left the apartment convinced I wasn't making the place I was picking up the tickets before they closed. Thanks, Veteran's Day!

   • It would not shock me if you didn't care that Sunday, the region takes its only legitimate shot at a title in anything this season when the Revolution take another shot at Los Angeles in the MLS Cup. I'll only be watching this one on TV, and it won't be in front of 61,000 people, but they've got a much better shot this time around.

   As happened in 2002, there are a lot of people trying to report on this whole soccer thing that shouldn't be without a helmet, simply because they don't have a grasp on what's going on. Since I was at work tonight, I got to see the ABC affiliate's sports report on it because the news department takes over our TV to get the lottery numbers. Aside from the fact that the whole report was basically built around the team having to travel to Frisco, Texas -- because what a dump that place is! -- they showed a sound byte with Taylor Twellman, the face of the franchise and probably this year's league MVP.

   He was labeled as such.

Rev. Forward

   Now, they did spell his name right, which should count for something. But if you're not going to call him a "Revolution Forward," you could very easily call him a "Revs Forward" given that's what everyone calls the team. What they labeled him as is a new position -- reverse forward, which either means he's a defenseman or he has to run backward at all times.

   Is this nitpicking and mocking of Bob Halloran, whose job I could do cold but who weekly proves through radio and TV appearances that the opposite is not the case? Obviously, yes. Knowing what I know about TV, the graphic probably isn't even his fault. But when we're talking about MLS, which I think is one of the best-run sports leagues in the country, I'd like to think people could try to get it right.

   See this, Gary Bettman? This is what happens when a commissioner accepts where his sport sits in the American landscape, and decides to embrace it instead of assuming those hardcore fans aren't going anywhere, meaning they can be slapped around. Thirteen teams. They seem OK with it. Imagine what you could do with 13 teams?


   Given the discovery that the Connecticut Development Authority still owns the names and trademarks to "Hartford Whalers," this is going to get harder before it gets easier. Even if it is better this way.

New Whalers Logo
-- This would not have gone over well.

November 10, 2005 - Can't Beat The Aztecs
   The Art Project: It stands as a beacon of truth. A sign that business can be run profitably and equitably, simply and effectively. And it's really the only restaurant I'll ever walk in and order a hamburger from.

-- Taken Dec. 30, 2002, somewhere on the way to Disneyland.
Click here for a 1024-by-768 wallpaper version.

   Hey, it's not the best photo in the world, but I'm sure that'll weigh out in the end-of-month voting.

   Remind me next time I go that I need to get a milkshake ... I've never been to one since I gave up trying to impress people with my physical appearance.

   • Today's update is short. You can usually tell what kind of day I've had by when I eat my first meal of the day. If I'm working, it'll generally be at 4 p.m. when I stop at Subway for a footlong, chips and a drink on the way to the office.

   Today I didn't eat until 7 p.m., choosing to do exactly what you're not supposed to do -- cram all three meals into one by eating approximately 14 pounds of cooked Ramen-style noodles, tomatoes and sweet chicken sausage. I'd post some sort of recipe, but really, the whole thing's pretty self explanatory outside of the olive oil usage.

   But because this just doesn't seem like enough dreck, let's discuss the alma mater, which I'll be visiting for the next two days thanks to a little hockey and a little pointless trivia -- if you think that's bad, wait until I'm updating from Chattanooga, Tenn., in a few weeks.

   So apparently, not only is it apparently revolutionary that BU allows students to contribute on which crap they gorge -- we didn't have no God damned panini machines when I was there -- the whole school is apparently preparing to be frying panned by the No. 1 Duke Blue Devils men's basketball team on Monday in North Carolina.

BU men's basketball, of course, has never exactly been the pride of the school. Back in my day, the lone bright spot was a trip to the NCAA tourney in 2002. Unfortunately, were crushed by Cincinnati 90-52 in the first round. Their campus paper heaped it on, exclaiming "What do you expect, when your center is a 6'7" sophomore named [Ryan] Butt, as in 'of jokes?'"

. . .

While I agree that the team needs more television exposure on a national level, getting beaten decisively in the season opener in front of a national audience is not the kind of exposure you want. That kind of humiliation will only ensure that no one with even the slightest talent will ever consider playing for BU.

   While I'll let slide the fact our engineering friend Majid is using the campus newspaper as campus stethoscope, he apparently missed in his heavy research that BU has played Duke five times -- 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1994. Two of those being years in which they won the national title, and all of them coming prior to the tournament berths BU has made with the good players that would never dream of playing here.

   Does that mean BU won't lose by 70? Only if you think losing by 75 doesn't count as losing by 70. I know I'll watch it.

   I mean, it's not like it could be as bad as the last two times I went to see them play in person.

   Maybe they shouldn't have sent me that e-mail encouraging me to attend the Michigan game at Agganis.

November 9, 2005 - Relative Speaking
   Yesterday: There were some FTP and upload problems, thus the update not being posted until the evening. And it's a shame, because it was a better one than normal ... it has a giant, fake colon!

   The Art Project: Some people win hundreds of dollars on slot/video poker machines. Me? I hit 'em for 13 bucks.

Four of a Kind
-- Taken July 23, 2003, at Casino Royale on The Strip. That's the one with the Outback inside.
Click here for a 1024-by-768 wallpaper version.

   Though if nothing else, it's the most exciting thing you can probably have happen for $13. Unless of course you enjoy swimming around in a tub of 1,300 pennies, which likely would make you smell like copper.

   I suppose you could convince yourself you smelled like bronze, and then tell people, "Oh. That's from my skeleton medal in the Olympics."

   Rome is Burning, But So Is Paris: So they've been rioting in France for three weeks, which is more than long enough for Jacques Chirac to have said something proving he's at least as bad a leader as everyone thinks President Bush is. And yet, the thing I've learned above any other.

   The French word for "fuck" is "nique," which much have been a lot of fun when Dominique Wilkins was getting his "Human Highlight Reel" persona all over their newscasts.

   Thanks, Associated Press photo!

   • It's not uncommon for youth culture to escape those in the previous generation. For example, there's probably a lot of older people who failed to understand the attraction of something like Dance Dance Revolution, but who owned those disco shoes with the live goldfish in the soles back in the day. It's just the nature of society to make sure, at all times, someone is excluded.

   Which leads me to Richard Roeper, who some of you know as a columnist in the Chicago Sun-Times, but who's better known as Roger Ebert's rebound girl on the only nationally syndicated movie review worth knowing outside of "Men on Film" -- which apparently graduated from In Living Color to SNL.

   When I was in Chicago for the playoffs, Richard Roeper had a real soft, fuzzy column about the White Sox -- you can probably get it in his archives, but there's no need given it was little more than you think it would be. A guy with an admittedly limited baseball fandom encouraging The Second City to "rally round the flag." That's what we're dealing with ... a guy who makes older editorial page readers feel good by condeming things like the "Real Men of Genius" commercials, which are probably funnier than at least 20 percent of the morning programming that will be on after Howard Stern goes full-time to satellite.

   I can only imagine what those older editorial page readers, sitting at their kitchen table with "Today" murmuring in the background thought of Wednesday's column.

   Yeah, that's where he's going.

On and on it goes. From college football games to celebrity photo ops to candid photos in high school yearbooks, a certain type of hand gesture seems to be sweeping the nation -- especially among teens and twentysomethings.

Call it the Shocker. That's one of the few names for this gesture that could make it into a mainstream publication.

Everyone knows what "the finger" means, and everyone knows that you're not going to carry images of someone giving the finger in a newspaper or on TV. But what about gang signs? You see a basketball player or a hip-hop artist flashing hand gestures on TV, and you're not sure what it's all about. Usually the commentators just ignore it.

Then you've got the safe-for-all-audiences hand gestures, like the "Hook 'em horns" for the University of Texas, or the surfer's greeting, i.e., pinky up, thumb extended, remaining fingers folded.

If you don't know what the Shocker means, it seems innocuous. So some college sophomore is hiding his ring finger and waving his hand while sporting a little bit of an evil grin, so what? Well. Let's start by saying that the following portion of the column is rated PG-13, and may not be suitable for children or hyper-sensitive adults.

The shocker represents a certain type of sexual manipulation of a woman. You can do the math.

   Actually, Richard, I'm pretty sure plenty of your readers can't. I'm actually pretty sure that there were a lot of people reading your column Wednesday morning who either became queasy or confused.

Here's Rebecca Mead in the New Yorker, on the founders of the Web site:

"Another familiar type of contemporary college humor is a hand gesture known as the shocker, in which the ring finger of the hand is held down by the thumb while the remaining three fingers stay rigid. 'No one over the age of 25 knows what it means, but I guarantee you that 90 percent of college students know what it is,' Josh said. (The gesture indicates a method of pleasuring a female partner, though not one that looks to be easily undertaken without incurring hand cramps.) Ricky had the idea of manufacturing a large foam hand, the Big Shocker, like those on sale at sports events. So far, close to twenty thousand have been sold through, for a profit of about ten dollars apiece."

Ah, the kids today with their enterprising, go-get 'em spirit!

As the New Yorker article mentioned, the Shocker is big on The site has all kinds of photos -- including some with nudity, so you've been warned -- of people flashing the Shocker. They've even got a shot of the actress who played Winnie Cooper on "The Wonder Years," posing with some beefy goofball as they both flash the Shocker.


   It reminds me of the Simpsons episode where Homer bowls a 300 game, but lies to Marge and his family about why he's not home from work yet, saying there was an accident at the plant and that they had to take Lenny to the hospital.

"Oh no! Not Lenny! Not Lenny!"

   Though I am disappointed that I missed The New Yorker's take on all this. Perhaps they even used the long-accepted explanation of what The Shocker is, paring down Roeper's word count by upwards of 95 percent.

The "Urban Dictionary" Web site has an astonishingly comprehensive list of euphemisms for the Shocker. The basic theme is, "Two in the [BLEEP]! and one in the [RHYMES WITH THE FIRST BLEEP!]"

   No one's grandmother is figuring it out from that ... he couldn't have gone with [COLOR OF BABE THE PIG] and [WHAT ROG THOUGHT OF 'NORTH']? That grandmother might, however, ask their visiting, college-age granddaughter.

   And that uncomfortable moment alone makes me glad that Richard Roeper is on the case.

November 8, 2005 - Pipe As An Art Form
   The Art Project: I suppose this is somehow telling, given the telecasts of the World Series of Poker just tonight reached the final table.

New York, New York
-- Taken July 23, 2003, as that's always the best month to go to balmy Nevada.
Click here for a 1024-by-768 wallpaper version.

   This was the place where I became soured on craps, since I lost $100 playing it in approximately two minutes. Sure, that's not the game's fault when I didn't really have a full grasp on what I was doing, but that's the other half of the story.

   More notable for being the place where I almost killed myself by eating a large burrito and drinking a large margarita in succession at Gonzalez y Gonzalez, in the trip when the photo was taken I hit four-of-a-kind on a nickel video poker machine.

   This, friends, is what they call foreshadowing.

   Election Day Roundup: It wasn't exactly live update worthy, but Whale City has a new mayor. When you lose the ward you're from, that's pretty much a clear public statement that four terms was enough.

   So out is a man who, when asked by the local fishwrap to answer "What is your greatest strength?" in 50 words or less, responded:

My greatest strength is the values that were instilled in me by my family. That is what drives my desire to be on call for the residents of New Bedford around the clock, because no citizen's problem is too small to be dealt with by me personally.
-- Forty-seven words.

   In is a man who, when asked the same question, said:

-- One word.

   You guess which one has been in politics longer. And I didn't even use the one where the incumbent answered "How do you help out around the house?" with "As anyone who has grown up in a two-family here in New Bedford knows ..."

   Back in the wild woods of Western Mass., where I'm still registered to vote, the residents of Agawam continued their group desire to live in a town bereft of anything by voting down zoning an abandoned field by the highway for commercial business. I might even have agreed with them, but only because there's an entire shopping center still standing my the river without a single store in it. At least five abandoned fronts in what used to house a supermarket, a crappy department store, an auto parts place that's not Auto Zone, a women's health club and a Kenny Rogers Roasters.

   You just can't get cornbread with hunks of corn in it anywhere else.

   This was all far more interesting than the mayoral race, where the gay twin brother of one of the high school guidance counselors earned another term, beating a guy who I believe makes a living selling concessions at Springfield Falcons games. He may also have been the man who in the past dressed up like Superman and attended Sacred Heart church baseball games under the moniker "Mr. Baseball," but I think I'm asking for way too much for that to be true.

   And you thought Mayor Menino in Boston was fun.

   • It's not one of my own photos, but it is by far the best thing I could have ever hoped for when running the search "Colon" to find a headshot of the AL Cy Young winner.

Colossal Colon
-- The look of surprise is what sells it.

Ryan Miles, 10, reacts while crawling through the Colossal Colon at the Ketchikan Health Fair in Ketchikan, Alaska on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2005. The colon, displayed in Alaska for the first time, shows various forms of cancer and maladies. (AP Photo/Ketchikan Daily News, Hall Anderson)

   Yes, the Colossal Colon has a Web site. Yes, "actual colonoscopy footage was used to ensure that the Colossal Colon was as realistic as possible." Yes, there is a Colossal Colon request form so James can make it a part of the next TRASHionals welcoming party.

   And yes, I do regret missing it when it was at the Rhody's Warwick Mall in mid-August. I've never been face-to-face with a hemmerhoid, and now, I'll probably never have the chance again.

November 7, 2005 - Clear and Present Message
   The Art Project: Temporary change in plans. This isn't the best photo I've ever taken, but given the circumstances, it seems very appropriate.

Domination Kickoff
-- Taken Jan. 16, 2005, as the Pats opened a one-sided, 20-3 victory over Indy.
Click here for a 1024-by-768 wallpaper version.

   But we'll get to that soon enough.

   The Hometown Team: I don't want anyone to think that just because I didn't mention it, I didn't notice that alma mater took out both No. 6 (and unbeaten) Vermont and No. 2 Maine in Orono. I noticed it so much, I took a step previously untread.

   I called a ticket broker so I could see them play UNH on Friday.

   Will they lose? Of course they will. But since I found out that Chris Bourque likely legitimately failed out of the university, I can't say I blame him for not coming back and going to the NHL. And really, what I paid for the the two tickets is only like a sixth of what it would have cost me for two season tickets I couldn't use much anyway.

   Though I do have to admit, "We're No. 14!" just doesn't have much of a ring to it. It is, however, better than reading this letter to the editor.

Running along the Charles River in the past, I have found myself in the middle the Boston University ROTC pointing their guns at people, just like the photo on the front page of Friday's Daily Free Press. To be honest, it gave me a fright, and made we want to vomit.

. . .

My fear, on seeing the ROTC exercises along the Charles River, is that we are creating a society where having guns around, indeed a society where guns are sometimes pointed at us, begins to seem normal. The fact that these guns are not loaded, perhaps even fake, might register at a rational level, but does not change the emotional desensitization to the sight of a rifle pointed in our direction.

   I might even agree with him, but it just feels like something that needs to be put in the red type of mockery.

'Red' Stove Will Be Heating Before Too Long
-- This is what happens when your boss wants you to write an offseason preview column, but there's really nothing that's gone on to warrant such a column. Though really, if Hector Carrasco comes to Boston, I'm going to feel very vindicated.

   • I've always been very open with you people, to the point of where there are memos and proposals and other stuff we'll address here at some point. So I want to admit something in the face of tonight's 40-21 roadside assault of the Patriots by the Indianapolis Colts.

   I have never enjoyed a loss by a New England team as much as tonight's.

   It's no secret that I call myself a Giants fan, but it's no secret that the update from Feb. 3, 2002 featured me having chest pains at the thought of the Patriots winning the Super Bowl. The good kind of chest pains.

   In the past few days and weeks, it has been clear to anyone with a brain stem that New England had no shot of beating these Colts. Their defense was probably worse than that of their opposition, their offense sufficient but hardly well-rounded. If the two teams went on the field without a logo on their persons, no one would give the Patriots a chance for even a moment. The four-point pointspread shouldn't just have been a beacon, it should have made millionaires across the country -- in my secret life as a prognosticator, I had my best week in three seasons.

   And yet, here were Patriots. Knowledgeable Patriots fans. People who have demanded reasonable analysis and accountability in the coverage of their team, shouting how "They can't beat us!" and how they wanted proof the Colts weren't just a sack of sallies.

-- Random example.

   Know who else used that logic? Yankee fans, in discussing how the Red Sox never had a chance to beat New York. You know, until they came in with the better team and slapped the taste out of their mouths on the big stage.

   I hate that stuff. I'll admit I had some second thoughts watching the pregame, wondering if this would be the moment where the dynasty might begin its final chapter. But when it began, my mind was clear.

   I wanted to see some people get knocked down a peg. Remember what it was like when they used to get pissed at everyone else for walking with that swagger, and for sticking their thumbs in their ears in the face of facts.

   And oh, did I get it. It was a downdressing heretofore unrivaled at Gillette Stadium. An absolute pillage. And when it ended, I had a smile on my face.

   For me, the climb is more fun. The struggling to the top, not the staying on it. That probably doesn't make me the best fan, but really, I don't think I've ever looked at sports the way most people do.

   All I have to say is "Go Giants." No ill will to the Patriots, but now it's somebody else's time.

   And everybody finally knows it.

November 6, 2005 - Crisis Averted
   The Art Project: In a continuing effort to not make effort photo shown this month be from Fenway Park, something that leads nicely into Monday's Vegas photo.

Shooting Gallery
-- Taken Apr. 29, 2003, at the Smith & Wesson Shooting Sports Center.
Click here for a 1024-by-768 wallpaper version.

   I've made at least a pair of visits to the range in Springfield with Erik, who no doubt is relishing the chance to one day pull me over in his State Police cruiser and give me all the tickets I've no doubt earned over the years. Notable memories from the visits involve me taking the time to sweep bullet casings into a neat pile on the floor, Jim absent-mindedly waving a gun at people and me having my first target -- which I took home and hung in my apartment senior year -- drawn on by my father.

   Right around where the heart would be, he wrote "You missed."

   This from a man who one day "remembered" he had a rifle in the back of his closet.

   Fame. Fortune. Exaggeration.: Speaking of dear old Dad, his alma mater sort of made the New York Times.

Island Pond's island has been floating for as long as anyone can remember, buoyed by a mat of sphagnum moss and gases from decomposing plants. It is a curiosity and sometimes a nuisance for the 20 or so homes around the shoreline of this nine-acre pond in Springfield, Mass.

Sometimes it boings mischievously around as if the pond were a pinball machine, sailing, for example, into Richard and Beverly Vears's backyard just hours after they moved in. That gave a neighbor a perfect welcome gag: telling the Vearses he was a tax collector who would charge them for the extra property.

Locals, including city officials and the pond's owner, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, which runs the adjacent Cathedral High School, say the wandering island is a rarity that must not be tethered, altered or otherwise brought to heel.

   Depending on who you ask, there are either two of these "floating islands" in North America or they're all around the country. I know who I believe, since the next photo with the story is of "a 'cookie cutter' boat operated by Texas Aquatic Harvesting plowing through floating vegetation on Lake Okeechobee in Florida."

   Still, I never knew about this. Maybe that's because Cathedral High School and the pond sit on the bad side of Springfield's State Street, even if it is miles away.

In Springfield, few people seem to venture onto the Island Pond island; some residents say they worry about falling through its spongy surface. But it teems with birds and amphibians, and there is even rumored to be a turtle the size of a bear, nicknamed Big Ben, that ostensibly feasts on ducks, geese and anything else it can snap up.

The island is kleptomaniacal, scooping up baseballs and tennis balls from the high school on its banks, and it gives safe harbor to some marijuana plants that have blossomed into a sizable patch.

   I'm not sure what's more fun: that the reporter ID'd pot plants or that the Catholic high school kids are using it for science experiments because cops can't walk on it.

   • The Revolution are in the MLS Cup again.

   I will not, however, be going to Frisco, Texas.

   Even it Pizza Hut Park is my new favorite arena name.

November 5, 2005 - All In Good Fun
   The Art Project: If nothing else, I can promise none of you are seeing this one coming.

Scrabble Madness
-- Taken Jan. 26, 2003, once Super Bowl XXXVII had become unwatchable.
Click here for a 1024-by-768 wallpaper version.

   It was an odd night ... we all ended up at Charlie's house in Agawam, and given I had just gotten my camera, I was still in my "take pictures of everything" stage. I was happy with the Buccaneer win, and fascinated by some new show that was showing live from Hollywood Boulevard.

   It was the debut of the Jimmy Kimmel Live, and they flew Warren Sapp up to the city by helicopter to get him on as the last guest. This was also the one and only night -- or at least the night where the decision was made -- that booze was available to the audience, since apparently someone vomited in the audience and ruined it for everybody else.

   Though at that point, it could still be forgiven for not being that funny. Now, there would be no excuse if I bothered to keep watching it.

   New New Coke via the DEA: I'm not necessarily a conspiracy guy, but one who will listen to things if they seem plausible. On the surface, this seems plausible.

On April 23 1985, Coca-Cola introduced, "New Coke," a sweeter, more Pepsi-like version of the original. People were outraged. Although marketing research had indicated that the new formula was preferred in taste-tests by a striking margin, they had killed an American Icon. To many, it was as if someone had killed off baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, or Chevrolet. People were outraged, and avoided the new product in droves. Coca-Cola classic was rushed back into the market as a result of the backlash. "New Coke" is about to be re-introduced, replacing classic, whether people like it or not. This time, they have no choice.

If you read the ingredients of Coca-Cola, you will see "natural flavors." What they are is Coke's trade secret. One of those natural flavors is called Saskra root. It is an herb that has gone extinct. All supplies of it will be exhausted by December.

. . .

How did this happen? Did the herbal medicine people over-harvest this plant until none remained? No. Saskra Fortissima was a weed that once grew alongside Coca plants in the wild. Without some of the substances Coca plants leave in soil after several growing seasons, Saskra can not grow. It has always been rare, and since the late 1970s, has been found only in Columbia. Thanks to the U.S. Government's spraying of Columbian farms to kill Coca plantations, Saskra is now extinct. No Saskra plants, no Saskra root.

   Given I wasn't really aware of my surroundings in 1985, it's heartening to know that the stupidity of the American public put down a superior product because they fear change. I did drink Coke II on some afternoons by the pool, and I don't recall vomiting, so I'll just assume it's better.

   Anyway, this whole discussion got spawned because Coca Cola is discontinuing sales of Vanilla Coke, Diet Vanilla Coke and Ciet Coke with Lemon because they taste like, respectively, sickly sweet crap, average crap and Lemon Pledge. They'll be replaced by Diet Black Cherry Vanilla Coke and Black Cherry Vanilla Coke, which apparently the public is clamoring for.

   T.O. KO: Apparently, there is a level of assholishness that can supercede a man's talents on the sporting landscape. With this suspension, we now have the answer that went lacking in the Theo Epstein saga: How much money would it take to keep a whiz kid in a job he really didn't want?

Critical of quarterback Donovan McNabb and the organization during an interview Thursday with, Owens issued a private apology Friday to teammates, followed by a public apology in which he read a terse statement. One team source said Saturday, though, that Owens' apologies failed to fully comply with all of the conditions that team officials, including coach Andy Reid, had stipulated.

   I guess the question is why athletes do interviews like these. Are they really that stupid? Does Owens want to get suspended in the same way I want him to get the Cam Neely treatment from some wannabe Ulf Samuelson, leaving him unable, but painfully close to being able, to play football?

Well, it's almost like I'm in a no-win situation with the media sometimes. ... You know, I know how the media is. I know how TV works. They'll throw a question out there and they'll edit it. You know, the way they want to put it out there to the world.

   Well, at least we agree on one thing.

   • In short, it couldn't have gone much better. The Bruins led 28 seconds in, dominated play against a truly awful team and got in a couple fights. Sergei Samsonov scored one of the better goals I've seen in a while -- taking it two-third of the ice on the power play, splitting three Pittsburgh defenders in the offensive zone and roofing it on Sebastian Caron. Mario Lemieux had an awful night, taking a double minor that led to two goals, which I'll pin on Jon Darling screaming at him repeatedly from 11 rows up in the balcony. Sidney Crosby's wasn't much better, but he did show why he'll be amazing one day, even if it was only in a "How did he get a shot off between four guys?!" kind of way.

   A good time was had by all, even if the nearly sold-out 'Garden' was relatively quiet and it's hard to heckle with little kinds in front of you, and plus I learned that my leather jacket is "so 2003." Which, come to think of it, might actually have been when I got it. It wasn't until last night, however, that I shattered one of its buttons basically by putting it down.

   I don't know these things. I also didn't know why Kenny Anderson used to go out of his way to eat chicken wings from The Four's, naked, while he sat at his locker after Celtics games answering media questions.

   I do now, even if the pizza at the arena had been a bad choice not long before.

November 4, 2005 - Lettuce and Mayonnaise Pizza
   The Art Project: Alright. I promised they wouldn't all be sports, so let's follow through on that.

California Screamin'
-- Taken Dec. 30, 2002, in my one and only trip to Disney's California Adventure
Click here for a 1024-by-768 wallpaper version.

   As roller coasters go, California Screamin' is not the most white-knuckle. It does derive a good deal of its aura from music pumped into the cars during the ride -- real easy going on the start, then rocking once the jet things start rocketing you all over the place. The loop is exciting, but it was just as exciting to stand at the base of it for three rides and try to get the train upside down at just the right moment.

   Not really, but by this point in the day Meg was already so sick of Charlie and I taking pictures of everything, she just let it slide.

   French Bread Pizza Update: There was no grocery shopping today, so look to the beginning of next week for me decimating the pizza dreams of one Phineas Q. Fannypack.

   Though I will say his team played quite an exciting 47:59.2 against the defending East champion Pistons last night right up til where they didn't. As someone who isn't into the Celtics as regularly as he should be, Mark Blount's apparent game-winner was so absurd and so exciting, it almost made me forget I knew they were going to lose at the other end. Let's just say when Rip Hamilton swung wide open and took the pass, I wasn't exactly optomistic he was going to miss.

   What I'm saying is it was almost as assured as the T.O.-Donovan McNabb marriage breaking up. Given all the discussions I had this evening with some girl in the bottom photo of this page about marriage and children, it seemed only appropriate to use such terminology.

   • First, the wrongness of this story is like an artichoke. First, putting an absurd adhesive like super-glue on a toilet seat as a prank. Second, putting it on a seat where customers, not employees, are going to use the bathroom -- if in fact said prank was done by an employee. Third, the note from the guy's lawyer that:

Not only did Home Depot not provide help that day, but that it didn't provide toilet seat covers.
-- I was unaware that was in the Constitution's Bill of Rights. Must be at the bottom.

   Fourth, and perhaps less absurd than sad:

In addition to the emotional pain, Doughtery said he still has pain when he sits, as well as, post-traumatic stress that's triggered diabetes.

   Post-traumatic stress?! Every time this man has to sit on a toilet, does he have flashbacks? Does he see walking out of that store with the seat glued to his ass? It's called "pee standing up" and "check for super adhesives before sitting down," sir. Um, we all do it?

   Thankfully, I had no such problems tonight. Though I did end up on a Boylston Street pub crawl with a group of people I didn't actually know many of. And then I drove for a while in a convertible with the top down. On Nov. 4. In the back seat. Driving fast.

   You'd be surprised how not all that cold it was. And how odd it is to just kind of be out in the open air.

   And for the record, if Whiskey's is in fact "America's Greatest Neighborhood Bar" as Maxim Magazine touts it to be, remind me to open a bar at some point in my life. Apparently all you need is to sort of be like Coyote Ugly, only have no one that hot behind the bar and to serve drinks to the rabid swarm in plastic cups. Neighborhood bars don't usually have two dozen beers on tap ... they have Bud, they have Pabst and they have backwash.

   Just saying is all.

November 3, 2005 - Who Knew Blinds Shattered?
   The Art Project: They won't all be sports shots, and this one is admitetdly a bit stylized, but I've always really liked it. After all, the subject matter is hard to beat.

Beanpot 2K
-- Taken Feb. 14, 2000, in what proved to be the best season of my era.
Click here for an almost 1024-by-768 wallpaper version.

   This was originally a hard-copy photo, and the scan didn't come in full size. It was just blurry enough to bother me, so I went the rest of the way and blurred it out in Photoshop. The result is by far as nice as anything I've ever done on purpose, as I just so happened to get the big screen with the team celebrating on it.

   Plus, saying "FleetCenter" brings back heady memories of the past ... heady memories likely erased when I later this month use a photo I'll take at the Bruins-Penguins game on Saturday.

   The Coolest Kid In The Class: Do you know who Mike Scifres is without clicking that link? You should, since he's now ... the highest-paid punter in the NFL.

Mike Scifres agreed to terms on a four-year contract extension yesterday that is expected to make Scifres the highest-paid punter in the NFL and keep him a Charger through 2011.

. . .

Scifres, 25, is expected to sign the contract before the end of the weekend. While terms were not available, it is believed he will surpass the $1.5 million average yearly salaries of Oakland's Shane Lechler and Tennessee's Craig Hentrich, both punters.

. . .

In his first season with the Chargers and his second in the NFL, Scifres was a first alternate to the Pro Bowl in 2004.

   OK. So to be the highest-paid punter in the NFL, you don't even have to really make a Pro Bowl? You just have to sort of make it, then produce better numbers for half a season. It's good to see the Charlie Weis principle carries on into The League already.

   Speaking of, I make it a policy now to be disappointed every time I look at ESPN's Page 2, but this Jason Whitlock column is at the very least based in some semblance of reality. The idea that the higher-ups at Notre Dame could possibly be a twinge or scoche unfair in their treatment ... you get what I'm saying. Granted, when the author cries wolf about racism every 14 seconds, it's a little harder to buy.

   That, plus Bill Simmons' evenhanded, largely intelligent Theo column, made for a surprising absence of disgust after I'd tread beyond his NBA previews -- I enjoy reading them because my basketball knowledge hovers right above zero. Granted, when I got to his blog's comment about the Internet:

That mentality ties into how hostile the Internet has become in general. Everything sucks, everyone sucks, everyone's mailing it in, and so on. You just can't win.

   I had to laugh. Funny how I never have once thought James Lileks is mailing it in, because he isn't. It's almost as absurd a comment as Bill's, drum roll please, "Stouffer's French Bread Pizza Syndrome." Trust me, you'll enjoy this whether you hate sports or not.

Think of it this way: Putting together a basketball team is like cooking a Stouffer's french bread pizza -- you have to preheat the oven, wait 15 minutes, slide the pizzas inside, wait another 35 minutes, check to make sure you didn't burn them, let them cook another five minutes, pull them out, then let them cool down for another 10 minutes so you don't burn your mouth ... and then, and ONLY then, do you eat the pizzas. That's how the good general managers build their teams. But these new-wave owners and general managers want to eat the pizza right away, so they slip them in the microwave, zap the hell out them, scarf down in three bites and end up burning their mouths, and the pizza doesn't even taste good as it's going down. That's what Cuban did for the last few years. And it didn't work. Now he's cooking the right way.

   Are you absolutely, positively and completely fucking kidding me? Who in the universe has ever, and I mean EVER cooked a Stouffer's French Bread Pizza this way? As someone who grew up on these things when visiting my grandmother's house in Chicopee, I can tell you I never once burned my mouth, never once was saddened by inferior taste, and NEVER ONCE spent 65 MINUTES PREPARING ONE.

   Do you know the other things I could have done in 65 minutes? I could have eaten lunch and gone outside and played wall ball until I was bored, trying to catch the tennis ball after it skipped off a power line. I could have gone upstairs to her sister's apartment and played on the computer ... maybe watched some Formula 1 with her older son, Steve. I could have gone in the basement and played darts. Ridden on the exercise bike.

   I could have called Two Guys Pizza in the center and and had an ENTIRE ACTUAL PIZZA DELIVERED in 65 minutes.

   You know what? I take it all back. Simmons is still a blundering idiot, and all his new book proves is that we have a paper trail of when he stopped caring about his job. And I say that as someone whose site has had its own share of ups and downs, but at least I know I suck. At least I know I don't care enough to make this something more.

   I'm going to the grocery store on Friday, and I'm buying French Bread Pizza. I'm cooking one in the oven the "Bill Simmons way" and I'm cooking the other in the microwave the "I'd like to eat before I die" way. There will be taste tests, there will be discussion and possibly a letter of apology to Captain Douche.

   Maybe not over the weekend, but soon. I haven't been this excited since I remembered I'm going to a Bruins game on Saturday.

   • I'm sorry.

   I don't know where that came from.

   But I do know I'm aborting the ultimate plan to have a new contest to see not where I could get gas for more than $3.00, but for less than $2.00. Apparently, Tony's Service Center in Medford is selling gas at cost -- $1.97 per gallon.

   Course, given Medford is 65 miles from here, I'll have to pass. But I can take solace in knowing perhaps there is hope for the future. Even if any re-airing of episodes would force me to watch MTV for just a little while, and after what happened last time ...

   Let's just say there was rushing home one day to watch "Get Next To Jenny" on Spring Break, and I'm sure I totally didn't appreciate it for all the unintentional comedy it would be now.

November 2, 2005 - Hotel Pads Are Free
   The Art Project: Since I have no real discerable way to track how successful yesterday's photo was -- even if I thought I did -- let's just assume the world is clamoring for more. After all, I'll have no way of knowing if anything bad happens.

The Wrigley Scoreboard
-- Taken Oct. 5, 2005, on my walking tour of Wrigley Field.
Click here for a 1024-by-768 wallpaper version.

   Even if I wasn't all that impressed by the neighborhood, I'd still like to see a game there. Going back in February won't exactly increase the chances of that, but at least it'll be 14 degrees and sleeting.

   That Billboard By My Apartment: I couldn't understand why they would put Mini ads up in a city like this -- and especially right across the highway from a dealership that most definitely does not sell Minis -- but I also don't understand why Geico advertises on radio stations in a state where I don't think it's legal to get their auto insurance. Or perhaps that's just Progressive.

   The important thing is that billboard now has an ad for Counterfeit Mini, which apparently didn't go far enough as to contact eBay Motors and make sure their prop auction wasn't pulled. Course, I'm sure that was part of the plan all along.

   • If any of you watched the Theo Epstein press conference this afternoon and heard him chastise the questioner who kept shouting over everyone else in the room, I was sitting next to that guy. Not exactly me getting into the background of a Manny picture in the Boston Globe, but it's the best I can do.

Epstein Sees Big Picture Of Life
-- One of those columns I really hope came out right, because I walked out of Fenway with a smile on my face because I knew exactly what I was going to write. Just seems like something that could be hard to follow, which is sad if you think about it.

   For obvious reasons, this was the most star-studded presser I've been at in a long time -- Karl Ravech was there from Baseball Tonight, Mike Lupica (who I still think is great even if I'm learning most people think he's a pompous ass), countless other national folks I didn't recognize, the stand-and-scream-questions guy who easily was everyone's favorite, the regional Sox coverage gang and me, about two weeks overdue for a haircut.

   I'd by lying if I said I didn't almost trip over the piles of TV wires walking in the door, although given it was in the ultra-swanky Crown Royal Club, it would have been fitting since I have no business being in there.

   I used to be impressed enough to go in when it was a team-run souvenir store simply because I thought their stuff was automatically cooler than what was in the other shops outside. Only later did I find out Twins Enterprises basically owns that entire section of town and makes every friggin' baseball cap and shirt in the whole world.

   What does it all mean? Nothing. But since I've been told I'm back in one of those kicks where all I do is talk about sports, thank Yahoo for quickly proving to me that people are still dumb.

Tyra Banks has gone undercover as a 350-pound woman. Banks wore the fat suit to experience what it's like to be obese.

"It seemed like the last form of open discrimination that's OK, and I decided to put on a 350-pound suit myself and live that life for a day and see what happens," the 31-year-old former supermodel told AP Radio in a recent interview. "And it was one of the most heartbreaking days of my life."

Banks said she was shocked at the reaction.

"I started walking down the street and within 10 seconds, a trio of people looked at me, snickered, looked me right in my eye and started pointing and laughing in my face," the talk-show host said. "And I had no idea it was that blatant."

   Perhaps that not so much because people mock the overweight, but because you've chosen to live in Los Angeles, which is a suburb of Hell.

   But hey, no matter. Apparently it'll make a good show to fit between the one where you prove your breasts are real and the one where you show off your "dimpled butt."

   I know I can relate.

November 1, 2005 - Get Out The Victrola
   The Art Project: We begin what will hopefully be 31 days of me proving I can operate a camera with something fitting: Fenway Park, where I'll likely spent Wednesday afternoon fighting through a pile of bawling Red Sox fans to say good-bye to Theo Epstein:

Through the Fenway Fence
-- Taken Aug. 31, 2003 -- the last game I attended as a fan.
Click here for a 1024-by-768 wallpaper version.

   That was the supposed Roger Clemens finale game at Fenway Park where he got a standing ovation. I just happened to have tickets in the lower level of Section 40 -- the split section in the middle of the bleachers. Given the person I had originally bought the tickets with in February ... not important, but easily decipherable. In her place, I took some girl I'd met recently.

   Insert "Awww" here.

   Candy Day: An amount of food finally came into the office tonight that was too much for the hordes of fat journalists to take down before the end of the shift.

   All it took was two giant platters of various cookies; a box of Funny Bones; the remnants of a box of donuts and bag of biscotti rings; bags of Twix, Snickers and Hershey's Smores fun size candies; and a take-out order from Not Your Average Joe's. In other words, approximately 17,000 calories.

   I forgot to include that in my responses to that BU junior who e-mail interviewed me for a school assignment. Not only was she surprised to learn I was a BU grad and had previously worked near her hometown in Nashua, my verbosity apparently inspired her because "I have had journalists come into my class, and they scare the crap out of everyone, to put it lightly."

   I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that's one of the nicest things that has ever been said to me.

   • I'm on record as being in a personal battle with television news. After growing up watching this non-Boston station and the NBC Nightly News five times a week, I dare say I've been pretty blessed. No overt pandering for ratings because, well, they've dominated them since long before I was around.

   It's not like that in Boston, where the four najor players have to constantly try to convince you why they care more about your everyday life. In reality, none of them care a fudge about your everyday life, but because the "you" here is "Stupid Q. Public," they have to try.

   They've all been leading their newscasts with the Theo Epstein story, which even I have to admit is a nice change of pace from showing four weather segments in a half-hour and relegating sports to maybe two minutes after the last commercial break -- I'm looking at you, WWLP. However, because no one is saying anything, they're filling time with everyone's favorite "anchor banter" and by sending reporters to do fan reaction stories outside Fenway Park.

   These anchors stand there live at 10 p.m. with Fenway in the background, telling you about all the Red Sox fans they talked to and how they're all this or they're all that. Ignoring for a moment that I pity them, since I'd rather cover a goat fecal matter review than do most man-on-the-street fan stories, I can't get over that the answer here is to send some guy to Fenway Park.

   It's as though any time something horrific happens to the baseball team, fans simply go to Fenway Park and bawl in the gutters around it. Unless you're going to be like Channel 5 and shoot cameras in the office windows to get EXCLUSIVE!!!!1 shots of Theo standing and wondering why the hell there's a camera guy peering in a window a story up, why not talk to people elsewhere. Like, for example, the people in other parts of the city who probably could give a crap what the hell happens?

   There's a not-too-underground theory out there that says a lot of the reason Theo is leaving is due to all the bullshit that now surrounds the Red Sox -- Rob Bradford spells it out, beating me to the proverbial punch. The Red Sox aren't about baseball completely anymore, because it's about how awesome it is to be a Red Sox fan. Buy our torn-out turf to make your grass cooler than everyone else's! Get your membership card, or not be a real fan! The thought is Theo didn't want to deal with anymore for any price ... I brought it up in my own radio apperance this afternoon, and really, I love it because I hate all the BS too.

   That's right ... that's how big this story has gotten. Cooch does a 45-minute radio interview with WSAR in Fall River big. No recording of it likely exists, but it was on the second broadcast of a show so new, the host hasn't even got a page up over there yet. A host who said my name absolutely perfectly at least a half-dozen times without a single error.

   I smell big things for her future.

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