Dec. 29, 2002 to Jan. 2, 2003 - California Love
   • If you need something else to read, scroll. See you in January.
December 28, 2002 - The Back, Part One
   • Since I will be away for the remainder of the year, now will be the time I eschew actual content for the Web equivelant of a clip show.

   Ladies and male-types, it's Navel Gaze 2002!

   When you write around 200,000 words over the course of twelve months, odds are some of the time you'll stumble across some worthy of repeating. Poring over the archives for this year, much of which came after I punched my couch hard enough to numb my hand, I found a good number of quotables -- some funny, some poignant, others looking quite wise in the spectacles of hindsight.

   Now, some of my favorite quotes from The World in 2002.

"After shunning a rendez-vous with other friends, we made the trip to tax-free Nashua, New Hampshire, which is rapidly becoming a strong contender for where Cooch will start his post-academic life... God willing."
-- New Year's Eve. Technically it's 2001, but the point stands.

"These are people in animal suits, who want only one thing: to have sex with other people in animal suits."
-- A discussion on furries, with art! (1/6)

"I alloted about 90 minutes to get to Logan, assuming the usual congestion on both Storrow Drive and the Callahan Tunnel. I then proceeded to reach central parking in 15 minutes. To the day I die, I will not understand how I crossed the city of Boston in 15 minutes. Granted, it was 8 p.m., but this is the city that made defensive driving gospel law."
-- Same drive, year later, 75 minutes. Makes sense. (1/12)

"I've often wondered at what point in the human psyche does taking your own life strike a person as the next logical step. I've been down in the dumps on any number of occasions, and will be on any number in the future, but to actually take that step is something I can never comprehend."
-- Reaction to BUCBer Tony Brucato's suicide. (1/14)

"Adam Vinatieri? Fucking automatic. Ballgame. Remember those words, come Saturday night."
-- The Saturday was the Snow Game, two weeks prior to chanting his name in Kenmore Square. (1/18)

"For one weekend, I was the Wayne Chrebet of snow football."
-- Wayne Chrebet? A poor man's Jeremy Shockey, I say! (1/21)

"I want to drive a tractor trailer."
-- In a year of jumping to conclusions, this one trumped them all. (1/30)

"Satan just called for his overcoat."
-- 10:06 p.m. on Febraury 3, 2002. A moment that will live in ecstacy.

"Everywhere you looked, people were happy. No one cared about anything other than Boston was finally on top again. White, black, rich, poor, for once it really didn't matter at all. People rocked cars, climbed on traffic poles, jumped up and down on buses, hugged complete strangers, high-fived passing drivers, chanted everything under the sun... I don't even know where to begin."
-- On rioting in Kenmore. And to be honest, I still don't. (2/4)

"Leapt around, picked up Justin, kissed Meg, hugged Jon Rea, high-fived Allyson, high-fived Hypho, high-fived an old lady, hugged the quiet eight year-old (who was wearing a BU hat the whole time), and proceeded to tell every NU fan in the building where they could shove their commuter school and Marino Center."
-- Riot Jr., after Justin Maiser wins BU the 2002 Pot. (2/11)

"So why do we do it? Why does a man allow himself to miss inept three-point shooting and free catfish? Because every so often, you come home from the newspaper, and there's a little message blinking on your computer screen... just so when you came home, you could read someone saying they love you."
-- Dissecting love. (2/12)

"You know how if you wash a pair of jeans too many times, you get that hole in the crotch where all the seams meet? Or if a paper towel gets too wet and it starts to tear apart? Shouldn't that have happened back around HIStory? Did I just miss it?"
-- I wonder how Michael Jackson has any skin left. (2/19)

"Mayonnaise catatonia."
-- Glutton Bowl. Self explanatory. (2/21)

"I really hope I can milk this 'fat Derek Lowe' joke for much of the season, because there's so much potential."
-- Winning 20 games kinda rained on that parade. (2/26)

"I'll be quite honest... this trip is not really exciting me all that much. I should be thrilled, going to an exotic locale for cheap, staying at some incredible resort... but instead, I'm just pissed I can't take my PS2 because of region coding."
-- I's safe to say I underestimated the Canaries. (3/1)

"I know nothing about him, but the more I read, the more I like: former bench coach for the Sox, been in the majors forever, managed the 1992 Greenville Braves to the first 100-win minor league season since 1960, will keep Manny from sucking on Mommy's tit... but most importantly, he doesn't have a cell phone."
-- Red Sox manager Grady Little, who I now want canned. (3/11)

"If a 16's ever going to beat a 1, why not now? And if it happens somehow, do I really want to say I picked against it? Dream a little dream, Bill. BU 67, Cincy 62."
-- Cincy 90, BU 52, Reality 1, Cooch 0. (3/12)

"But really, is that what a karaoke contest is all about? Prizes? Winning? Art? No, friends. A karaoke contest is about lost dignity, forgotten innocence and the ruining of a pop sexpot for so many, via Vito's strategic panting."
-- He was the karaoke queen, scaring and scarring for free. (3/16)

"Ooh, look at us. We yell loud. Our women are fat, and we like hockey. You want a lobster?"
-- Maine. The Way Life Should Be. (3/17)

"As long as Queen Dumbass is in the corner office, you can expect more things like this to happen. Mitt Romney can't come fast enough."
-- He announced his candidacy 24 hours later. (3/18)

"I was there for two and half hours, which I take as a good sign, because never once did security escort me out of the building. Sat in on the day's budget meeting, met with the Managing Editor, met with Editor-in-Chief Ken Hartnett (whose call to Klarfeld is the reason I was there at all), talked about the Red Sox with people... it went about as well as I ever could have hoped."
-- One man's job interview at The Standard-Times (4/3)

"It's like one long ass rape. It's like a mugging while you move."
-- Mark Coen sums up Delaware. (4/7)

"On this same hate-filled note, I push we get the bastards to annex Detroit. What a God forsaken craphole. You can't even understand until you drive on those highways and look in that downtown. It's like the surface of the moon... plus the Tigers are 0-11."
-- I cross the Motor City off the relocation list. (4/14)

"I remember Robinson Park Elementary School. Matt was in the afternoon kindergarten period, I in fourth grade. I come out the front of the school, and Matt is halfway out the bus window, screaming for my attention. He'd saved me a seat, and wanted to make sure I got it before anyone else did."
-- The day Matt tentatively accepts BU's admission offer. (4/19)

"So, go Sox. Go Celts, and Go B's. Go Drew? I can't. The Bills dumped Doug Flutie, and there are some things even I can't forgive."
-- Continued efforts to be a walking contradiction. (4/21)

"So, Monday's the day. My first tryout in New Bedford, for a job I still can't decide it I actually want. I'm so torn right now, being chasing the dream to be a writer, sticking to something I know that I'm good at or going in a completely different direction altogether."
-- Course sometimes, you get to do both. (4/28)

"It's extremely unofficial considering we didn't formally exchange couple vows until December, but hey, Nick Cage as Jesus beats the hell out of a handwritten note at Logan Airport anyday."
-- Not an anniversary, but it could be. (5/5)

"Cable TV or not, the place doesn't hold a candle to The Telegraph. Actual job specifics, co-workers, access to the AP Photo wire... and I'm not just saying it because I know my old boss reads this."
-- Continuing to diss future workplace. (5/9)

"No, I still don't have a job, Mother. Yes, you can stop asking now."
-- I feel guilty for ever writing this. (5/13)

"How can a girl walk with her heel five inches off the ground? With a gut peeking out from beneath her halter top? With pants made of leather or an accurate substitute? I guess what I'm asking is... how do inner-city girls get out of bed every morning?'
-- Sharing is caring, except with belly fat. (5/14)

"At 5 p.m., my mail room shift ended, thus making me officially unemployed. At 5:45, I had a job offer."
-- And that's where it shifted. (5/17)

"It's been outstanding."
-- May 19, 2002. Complete with hat and cape.

"Just for the record, Agawam has no slogan. Apparently, 'a nice place to drive through' doesn't fit on the town seal."
-- I had just called it my 'fuck buddy.' (5/26)

"I keep alternating between anticipation, fear and out-and-out denial of what happens on Tuesday. It's Little Cooch's prom night - the Tuesday before he graduates high school. Yet as he's cruising in a limo and sitting in a tux, I'll be in cubicle, quieting editing copy. The first night at a place I could theoretically stay at until I die."
-- Always the eternal optomist. (6/3)

"You didn't watch it live. I can almost guarantee it... you saw it on the replay, if you saw it at all. Sucks to be you."
-- Live from the Days Inn, it's USA-Portugal. (6/5)

"I can not fathom people not having cable television or a land phone line. This is likely a testimony on my slavery to technology, my need to watch the picture box all day and all night. So what? I want my damn World Cup!"
-- My reporter host and I have spoken rarely since. (6/11)

"Apparently in Celebrex World, large groups of arthritic people gather on the weekends with one small child, and play a game of softball. Celebrex works so well, John can umpire with his arthritic back, Sue can grip despite ravaged hands and little four-year-old Timmy can score an inside-the-park homerun on a dribbling grounder through the infield."
-- Celebrate! Celebrate! (6/18)

"As those last two groups went through, an extrememly-overtanned woman wearing a long, pleated white skirt cut through the crowd and down towards the green. Being catty assholes, Meg spoke of the dress' hideousness, while I spoke of the woman's. Only when the trophy was being presented, and the woman walked out onto the green to kiss her husband and child, did Meg and I share that glance one shares after they realize they had just been passed by former Phoenix Suns cheerleader, and recipient of all the hooting drunkard's catcalls, Amy Mickelson."
-- Fame brush of the year. (6/23)

"Wrong. If Pete Rose mated with the Energizer Bunny, they would create a guy with a battery in his back who gambled all the time."
-- Mocking Jeremy Schaap's claim the result would be David Eckstein. (6/25)

"So, just to recap. System? Screwing me. Weather? Miserably hot. Figure? Saggy breasts. Apartment key? In a locked office. Rent? Might get forced to pay it. Healthy meatless grinder? Not when it's covered with cheese. Beach? Still can't find nice one. Golf game? Menacing lefty slice. Meg? In Boston. Andi? In Indianapolis. Hair? Receding. Sampras and Agassi? Gone from the grass courts. Ikea? On Long Island. John and Greg Rice? Midget real estate salesmen from an infomercial I can't reference."
-- No better way to end Part One. (6/26)

   The second half awaits on the other side of New Year's. Hope you have a happy one.

December 27, 2002 - I Am The Party Star!
   It's rare that I'm actually complimented on my wardrobe, but tonight at the office multiple people let me know they really liked my new shirt. Normally such events would just fade to happy memories after a time, but now that we've entered the era of the A40, such occasions can be properly immortalized.

While casually reading the S-T's Christmas issue,
Cooch notes his "looking gay" doesn't means he is "that way."

   I can almost hear the bloodcurdling jeers flying at me direct from the Bay Area.

   • Dateline: Somewherchiwa, Japan. June 23, 1991. Sonic The Hedgehog is released on the Sega Genesis, nee Mega Drive. The world marvels at its 16-bit graphics, at a main character who could kill Mario the requisite "seven times before he hits the ground."

   Within the year, I would get a Genesis with Sonic packaged alongside. And thus, the cliche-laden dream began.

   Between Matt and I, we owned every Sonic game that mattered. Sonic 2, Sonic 3, and Sonic & Knuckles, which as it were made the first two entirely new games. Sonic Spinball? 3D Blast? We had them all. We still have them all in a cabinet in Feeding Hills, right next to the system I claimed as my own. To this day, there's posters, plush toys and plenty else of relelvance at the Couture Compound, and no reason to think it's ever going away.

   The relevance? Today, Matt and I went to the mall, partially to look for something, partially to marvel at how everyone goes to the mall right after Christmas even though they know it's going to be busy and stressful and a real pain in the ass like reading this sentence that has too many words without a break for air.

   Despite Providence Place being New England's second-largest mall, I saw the same disheveled gentleman walking around different areas of the mall three times. Considering we were only there for about an hour, this was nearly as amazing as me walking into Restoration Hardware:

   1) on my own free will
   2) and not making a beeline for the home casino game sets

   Also of note at RH, they are selling this shot glass chess set. Win a piece, take a shot. Win the game, your opponent cleans up. It's Beirut and Beer Pong for the wine and cheese crowd, and I for one couldn't be happier. Anything to make sure they're not doing all that heroin dry.

   The mall trip was a success, because Matt did make his intended purchase. He bought the Sonic Mega Collection -- a re-release of every Sonic game we still own, and he has beaten, but for Gamecube. Graphics are the same. Gameplay is the same. Endings are the same ... everything pertinent is the same, but for the packaging of fluff extras.

   Sega, by repackaging all these games together with a few extras and gratuitous retrospectives, has essentially gotten my brother to pay $40 for a tower of transistors he already had. Not only spend the $40, but drive 30 miles and fight Christmas week crowds to spend the $40 because the nearby Best Buy was out of them. Me, the eternal pessimist and America's youngest Eb Scrooge, the driving force behind buying the greatest hits album for that one new song.

   And to think these clowns couldn't keep the Dreamcast face up.

December 26, 2002 - Free As A (Wave)Bird
   Read this fist-shaking at pro football. Then, remember this fist shaking at soccer. Then, watch my head ossify and explode.

   Odd given my bent for bitching, but there may be no type of writing I dislike more than the "things suck today, and here's why" genre. If you reach the point where the games have passed you by, and your enjoyment of them is only found through remembering how they used to be, then it's time for you to stop pretending to speak informatively about them. I'm not suggesting this is the case with Buddy ... all I'm saying is his skills are better used elsewhere. Like here.

   And get off my lawn, you hooligans, before I call the constable.

   • Sometimes, two words just come together, and you can't just let them slide. Words like "Buffalo chicken," "Best Buy" and, the point of this discussion, Hooters Air.

   It seems Hooters, the restaurant best known around here for giving me and my entire party violent stomach cramps after the 2002 Beanpot, has acquired a small regional air carrier in North Carolina. After months of trying, it seems the ultimate goal is to create a charter flight company soaring under the banner of "Hooters Air." They say:

"A Hooters spokesman was not immediately available for comment."
-- Good work shoring up the publicity machine
when everyone's paying attention.

   Seeking to give back to the world that has given me so much, I've taken it upon myself to clue in the general public on what you get when you fly with Hooters, or as I like to call them, Tits Up. You'll find that when it comes to your charter needs, there's a lot worse things that could befall you than to go Tits Up.

   What parts of the country do you service?
   • Hooters currently services 11 countries with our special blend of delectable chicken and brothel sensibilities, so there's no telling just where we'll land our long metal elongates. Though given our proliferation in the Southern United States, it's likely we'll just stick to flying around down here and claim it's the best scenario for the next 150 years.

   What sets you apart from other charter airlines?
   • The fact that the fortune that bought our airliners is based in orange hot pants and Grade D chicken meat. Take that, jetBlue!

   Why should I choose Hooters Air?
   • Maybe because our flight attendants are built like upside down linemen? And they're bring you chicken wings?! It's a wonder you don't leave them a tip when you're getting off.

   Or even when you step from the aircraft!

   What can you tell me about your fleet?
   • Each plane is painted in delightfully tacky orange, which will hopefully dull to rather dry orange during flight. All seats have been replaced with bar stools, which help to improve posture and bloodflow. Each stool is equipped with all the necessities -- cup holder, lap belt, call button, reedin' light and tray table, not to mention a lazy suzan of cracked peppercorns, Tabasco and honey mustard, should the necessity arise. Also ...

   Do you have a frequent purchaser program?
   • Absolutely. For every four tickets you buy, or every two via our easy-to-use Web site, you receive a 10% off coupon for one of our world-famous Super Bowl party platters.

   Alright, I'm sold. Where can I get tickets?
   • Simply call ahead to the ariport of your choice, or ask your server or barmaid for an application form. Thank you for choosing Hooters Air, where it's always fun to go Tits Up!

   I always knew there was a reason I passed on public relations.

December 25, 2002 - Life In A 'Switch' Ad
   The "Favorite Sports Movies" spread from the S-T never made it online yesterday, which is probably for the best since it wouldn't have been done justice. Since my piece (and most everyone else's) was drastically cut for length, I'll synopsize rather than post a draft.

   Choices included Caddyshack (twice), Slap Shot, Field of Dreams, Kingpin, Breaking Away, Victory, Jeremiah Johnson, The Sandlot, Fear Strikes Out, Hoosiers, Days of Thunder, The Bad News Bears and, my pick, the Super Bowl XXXVI New England Patriots Championship Video.

   Originally, I had a more pedestrian choice, but when one of the other writers used my same rationale of hating sports movies for being unrealistic, I went with the one sports film that captivates me every time I watch it. So what if it's nonfiction ... it beats the fuck out of anything Hollywood has ever produced.

   * - Also receiving votes was the Giants 41-0 drubbing of the Vikings in the 2000 NFC Championship, which I still can't really believe happened. But since this is Patriot Nation, and I only ever watch the first five minutes of the New York game, I went with the truer choice.

   • Mustn't ... open ... update ... with ... "For many, the White Christmas they dreamed of turned into a total nightmare." Must save ... cliches ... for ... columns ...

   I can't believe after an entire night of The Weather Channel and TV news, no one dropped the above gem. It's been marinating in smarmy opening-ade since I woke up this morning.

   Part of me is actually disappointed, because this is what I want from the nation's press corps. I want a reporter or weatherperson, standing snow-covered in a large blue parka and heavy gloves, to say something that just makes me wish they get sideswiped by a plow live at five. I want them to make some witty retort, then tell me it's windy and cold, as though I hadn't noticed. Then I want to go back to the studio, to hear the anchor go to their opposite-sex partner, "Wow, glad that's not me out there."

   All I want is for my news to be as predictable and uninformative as possible. Then I can be glad I eschewed the higher pay and plaudits of before-the-camera news because I have too high a standard set to work anywhere but in print. And I want the Powerball number, so I can say, "A West Virginia man has a few more reasons to say 'Merry Christmas' this year ... about 315 million ones, to be exact."

   now you may have heard it was a very White Christmas in the northeastern United States, with parts of central New York getting nearly three feet of new snow. Fair Feeding Hills had "at least a foot on the ground" as of about 9 p.m., all having fallen in the previous twelve hours. Even in Whale City, where it is customary for the sea to keep things too warm for snow, there was some accumulation of the white stuff on the ground.

   The grass outside looks like a Frosted Mini-Wheat. Know that aerosol fake snow people spray on things to keep them looking festive, yet trashy? Imagine if that was spread over a city of 100,000. But rest assured, the storm didn't spare us. The rain froze to the exposed asphalt, and the 30+ mph wind gusts made sure I'll die knowing what it feels like to be blown across a parking lot.

   My drive from FH to NB was wholly uneventful, other than the fact my brother came back with me. I only almost went off the road once, and I only almost went off the road because I'm exaggerating for dramatic effect and trying to scare my parents into buying my a helicopter.

   Helicopters, you see, never go off the road.

   But really, my family went overboard as usual, buying a multitude of things I can't be bothered to link to. Except for this coat, this jersey and, most notably, this camera.

   And now, that my inability to hook my camera to my computer has been distilled down to my own reading deficiencies, you, the public at large, can look forward to much more:



and meat!

   Did I mention I'm going to California in a few days? Can you say goodbye extra site space?

December 24, 2002 - _Almost_ Perfect
   • And so I went home.

   This morning, I woke up and it was Tuesday. It was not Christmas Eve ... it was just Tuesday. Christmas Eve has all these things that make it Christmas Eve ... while Tuesday has what it lacks: that it's not Monday, Wednesday or the weekend.

   Tuesday has the realization that there will be no live pro football for a considerable amount of time. It also has Tuesday Morning Quarterback, which is too well-written to ignore. But no more football today.

   It probably doesn't take 22 holiday seasons for everyone to have this revelation, but given how fortunate I've been, it has. And really, it's not one of those things you don't know ... it's more a blissful kind of ignorance, as uberfans of The Matrix would gladly quote about for you at length. Christmas has always been family, and wintry weather, and giving and just a general feeling of warmth in the tundra. The fuzzies, one might say.

   But really, Christmas is little more than a Tuesday. Possibly a Saturday, if the schedule makers work it out right, but it's a day. We surround it with a series of days and drive ourselves up a wall. We decorate and we primp and we buy lots of shrimp and eat it, unless we're Mark Coen, because that would kill us.

   But when you wake up and it's 10 a.m., your tree is off and breakfast is another bagel toasted with squeeze grape jelly, there's not so much a feeling of depression. It's more a feeling of Tuesday ... a lack of any urgent flags, so to speak.

   We ran an early press today, meaning I walked to work in actual midday sunlight and got out when actual non-drug dealer traffic was on the roads. Yet walking back, the traffic was the only change from the usual 1 a.m. stroll. Stores were black. Parking lots empty. The nightclub was closed. An echo in my ears as I mumbled to myself.

   And so I went home.

   I got to the apartment, threw my stuff in the car, and drove. Drove with many more peers on the highways, drove faster than I will tomorrow, but drove back home. Stopped at the family Christmas Eve gathering, surprised my parents and saw all the little cousins. Kissed Grandma before she returned to the nursing home. Ate shrimp. A lot of shrimp.

   And now here I am, squinting at this fading monitor wondering just how white this Christmas will be. If the predicted armageddon really does come true tomorrow, there's a good chance my mother will call my boss without me knowing and tell him I'm not leaving the house.

   But really, that's not important. If we'd stuck to the plan of 'Christmas in New Bedford,' where my commute is a five-minute walk, she'd likely have done the same thing.

   What is important is that it's finally Christmas Eve.

   And that when I wake up tomorrow, it won't be Wednesday.

December 23, 2002 - Pottery Barn Regurgitation
   So, the quick about the party: I was late, and wrapped my Secret Santa gift in newspaper I got from the garage. Ate a lot of crap, played a lot of ping pong, hugged some people and then partook in an "hour-long cock joke" to finish the affair.

   I also saw several people who are frequent readers/contributors to the Web site, though sadly, none met my life goal of being someone that no one knew and attended solely because they read about the party online. Most of them have no page or thing to link to outside the Posse, but I will note one of them continued her longstanding complaint that she never gets mentioned on here, even after occasions where we've done something together socially.

   I will now perpeatuate that practice because she managed to dampen my job about buying my parents this for Christmas by announcing her family had bought a big screen. What a bitch, he said dryly, knowing full well the fact that he's kidding will be conveniently ignored.

   • Eight days. That's how long it takes for my opinions to make society into a saturated solution.

A Bentley in his garage, Billy Mays
enjoys the fruits of hawking Orange Clean

-- By The Associated Press --

   PALM HARBOR, Fla. -- Thereís no escaping Billy Mays on TV.

   There he is on one commercial, urging you to add a scoop of OxiClean to each laundry load. Turn the channel and he is selling a car dent fixer, or a hands-free cell phone device. On another, he is spritzing Orange Clean on a kitchen counter.

   The burly, bearded pitchman doesnít just tout products on the tube -- he loves his work so much that he gave bottles of OxiClean to the 300 guests at his wedding, and did his spiel ("Powered by the air we breathe!") right there on the dance floor.

   Visitors to his house get bottles of cleaner and housekeeping tips.

   "I enjoy what I do," the Pittsburgh native said, and, chuckling at the memory of his wedding, added, "I think it shows."

   Mays, 44, has helped make Orange Glo International, maker of OxiClean, Kaboom and Orange Clean, one of the nationís fastest-growing companies. And he has landed a big house with a pool in the back and a Bentley in the garage.

   His ubiquitousness and his exuberant, thumbs-up pitches have won Mays plenty of fans. People line up at his personal appearances for autographed color glossies, and strangers stop him in airports to chat about the products. One of his commercials plays during a scene in the Angelina Jolie movie 'Life or Something Like It.'

   But he also has his detractors. In a true measure of celebrity in the modern age, whole Web sites are now dedicated to trashing him.

   "The mute button on my remote is getting worn out from all the times I have to deal with him invading my television," one posting says, summing up the sentiments of many visitors to a site called Billy Mays Mayhem. "This guy has the most disgusting sales pitch on TV," says another.

   Surprisingly soft-spoken in conversation, Mays claims he has just recently learned of his Internet presence and has not looked at the sites. He seems kind of embarrassed by any attention not related to the products.

   "I'm a sensitive guy," he said. "I don't want to be brought down, so I just leave it at that. As long as thereís good and bad, it evens itself out."

   Mays has never been anything but a salesman, starting out of high school with his dadís waste hauling business. He developed his style demonstrating knives, mops and other 'as seen on TV' gadgets on the Atlantic City, N.J., boardwalk. For years he worked on the state fair and home show circuits, attracting crowds with his booming voice and genial manner.

   After meeting Orange Glo International founder Max Appel at a home show in Pittsburgh in the mid-1990s, Mays was recruited to demonstrate the environmentally friendly line of cleaning products on the St. Petersburg-based Home Shopping Network (where he also met his wife, Deborah). Sales took off the very first day he was on.

   Commercials and informercials followed, anchored by the high-energy Mays showing how it is done while tossing out phrases like, "Long live your laundry!"

   Now he is the public face of a company projected to earn $330 million this year, after taking in $245 million in 2001. Inc. magazine named Denver-based Orange Glo International one of the 10 fastest-growing privately owned companies in each of the past three years. Appel said Mays is a big part of the companyís success.

   "Heís grateful for where he is, and he's a true performer," Appel said. "He has a real sense of modesty. Heís really a joy to work with. Itís very rare for guys like that."

   Karen Benezra, editor of the advertising trade magazine Brandweek, said it is usually difficult for cleaning products to distinguish themselves in the crowded market. Mays' commercials -- combined with consumer satisfaction with the products -- helped Orange Glo break out of the pack.

   "What Billy has done with his products was give them the no-nonsense, 'Hey-I'm-a-regular-Joe' kind of face," Benezra said. "He just gives you the sense you can believe him."

   The most disturbing thing about this piece, after considering it was released eight days after I wrote an update about him:

   1. Billy Mays gave out OxiClean at his wedding. This seriously sounds like something I would make up.

   2. An appearance in 'Life Or Something Like It' is listed as a personal success. There's passed gas out there that spent more time in movie theaters.

   3. People do knife demonstrations on the Atlantic City boardwalk. You'd think that market would already be saturated with stabbing tools.

Cinderella's Shoe Clearly Needs Filling
-- It's nice to find an idea that nobody else is writing every so often. Now if only we I could be right for a change, we'd be getting somewhere.

December 22, 2002 - Ecstacy of Error
   Everyone who even dared suggest that New York Giants coach Jim Fassel be fired, TAKE A SEAT. Forty-four points in a must-have on the road may be as close to a panacea as the world will ever know.

   He probably won't claim it, and don't think for a minute I'm ignoring that I issued their death notice a few weeks back, but if the 2002 Giants secure a playoff berth with the injuries they've had this season, Fassel has to be Coach Of The Year. No debate ... find yourself a listing of man games lost to injuries and tell me I'm off base and blinded. Here's to giving up too soon, and the Cincinnati Bungles!

   (And even if Big Blue lays an egg on Saturday against the Eagles, it's nice to know my longtime condemnation of the New Orleans Saints in December is as solid as ever before.)

   • I mentally mapped out a "eulogy to the Pats" column about three weeks ago, and it's good to know I can write it in advance this week and have it run at its timeliest when I'll be in California. It's at moments like these where I start to believe I could do this for a living.

   What's likely lost on Patriots fans tonight, other than having just missed the last 'Cloud Nine' to service North Station before the holidays, is that stuff like coming out in the playoff hunt flatter than a pre-teen tomboy is what made last year so special. Because this is the norm here, we can get excited over the other stuff like we did. It's the same kind of rationale that says the worst thing the Red Sox could ever do for their long-term fan base is win a World Series.

   Half of you now entirely understand what I'm talking about, half will wait until next Tuesday and she will not care. Pretty much the breakdown of every week, come to think of it.

   As I was preparing to go to a party, shopping for a party, at a party or leaving a party from 2 to 2, I think we'll be pushing the rest of this off until tomorrow.

December 21, 2002 - The Brief Drawn-Out Conclusion
   Tonight I read a story about the activities planned for New Bedford's "First Night 2003." In the section outlining things to do, a heated tent with tasty treats is prominently featured, right near the section on carriage rides through the legitimately beautiful Historic Downtown. The tasty treats getting the highest acclaim?

   Linguica sandwiches and kale soup.

   I take great solace in knowing that one of Whale City's staple dishes is centered around a flavorless garnish. Also, I take great pleasure in knowing there's a computer somewhere that lists the final step of a cross-country drive as follows:

"Turn LEFT onto E HOLLY ST."
-- Note to self: Find East Holly Street in Pasadena, get out of car,
dance jubilantly at accomplishment.

   • Pardon me for being so trite, but I have to figure I'd make one hell of a Catholic.

   If I had to guess, which to have this discussion I do, I would assume I was born a Catholic. The fact that I'm 22 and unsure of what denomination to which I belong should inform you of just the weight religion generally draws at the Couture Compound.

   I feel an incredible amount of guilt about writing things like I did yesterday. It's not that I don't like to let people in on what's going on, it's just I feel guilty about looking like I'm after pity. Putting off the "Woe is me" vibe when I'm clearly in the camp of self-improvement / suck it up and deal.

   Don't misunderstand ... it makes me feel very happy to know there are people out there who care enough, whether they've met me, not met me or carry a persona of not having met me, to tell me to keep my chin up and that it's all going to work out. But I feel guilty about it ... because there are people out there who have actual problems. We've been running their stories all month in the paper as a companion to the S-T's Neediest Families Fund, which can't be any different than the holiday fund-raisers the paper where you are puts on.

   And not only are my problems often wholly insignificant, they inexplicably almost always solve themselves. Within five minutes of going into the office tonight, one of my co-workers told me he'd be willing to take my Sunday shift if I took his Monday one. An option that wasn't available the previous night was set up by my boss while I'd been sitting in the bathroom trying not to punt my water bottle out of sheer frustration.

   It's right up there with the "responding to praise about a column" dilemma for me ... for lack of any better ideas, I accompanied my heartfelt gratitude with dinner. He assured me later that he enjoyed his loaded steak sandwich from the take out place.

   I am amazingly blessed, from a mother who will cry at even the slightest hint that I'm troubled to people around me who will e-mail and comment just assuring me things will turn out fine. And my friends from home ... I can't even put my feelings into words.

   The only thing that has to be said about my friends from home is this: In the twelve-odd hours following me letting them know I couldn't come Sunday, they'd marshalled everyone who was coming and essentially moved the entire affair to Monday, just so I could attend.

   As usual though, I screwed up their plans. I'm nothing if not consistently annoying.

December 20, 2002 - Without
   Not having been into work in a couple days, I hadn't gotten some of the feedback to my latest column, Voices Of New England Are The Best.

   It was featured in an entry's Boston Sports Blog, entitled "I Hear Voices." It's exactly what I hoped the piece would spark. Quoting:

"Jon Couture at the New Bedford Standard Times loves the sports announcers of New England.

'One of the most overlooked reasons why New England is so rabid about its teams is the quality of our announcers," he writes. "Just hearing their names causes barely audible snippets to play somewhere in my head ... screamed "Score!" calls ... repetitive "Way Back!" shouts ... muffled screams from stagehands as Ty Law runs an interception back in the Super Bowl.'

So many memories are attached to those voices. One of my favorites was driving down Route 91 in 1996, listening to Gil Santos call a Dave Meggett punt return that, for all intents and purposes, sealed the Patriots' AFC East title. Cheering by myself in my car, I looked over to my left where the driver next to me was keeping pace. He looked over at me, screaming with his tongue wagging, and giving me the double thumbs up before speeding away. Classic."

   Presumably from its placement there, I got a letter from a reader who wanted to append to my list.

Subject: Sports Announcers Piece
Date: Wed, 18 Dec 2002
From: Bruce ____ <>

   Nice piece, but obviously you're just a bit too young to remember the best Boston announcer ever in any sport -- the guy whose voice made Heinsohn sound like Pavarotti and Heinsohn's non-PC conduct and "homerisms" seem like Bible readings. And though he's only been gone a decade or so, he's already forgotten, it appears.

   I write, of course, of the legendary Johnny Most, the ugliest person ever to announce a major league sporting event and possibly the best, most entertaining, most beloved sports announcer in greater Boston in the 20th century. An unmitigated homer, a man of limited hygiene and interesting personal habits, the man who set fire to Glenn Ordway on the air, As far as I know, he's the only sports announcer to ever have a greatest hits album (issued around 1971, I think, and titled of course, "Havlicek stole the ball").

   When Johnny died, WEEI did a retrospective of his game calls set to music, and when they ended it with "Havlicek stole the ball! Havlicek stole the ball!" I saw a few grown men with tears in their eyes. I say "a few," because my own vision was blurred as well, and in my mind I was seeing a thousand glorious basketball moments set to the gravelly, raspy, downright whiny -- and beautiful, passionate and knowledgeable -- voice that was the Celtics for so many years. I used to time my long winter rides home from Framingham to Hartford on Celtics game nights so I could listen to Johnny. Even when the Celts were bad, Johnny made the games worthwhile. Kevin McHale used to joke that Johnny should have received the Sixth Man award for his efforts on the team's behalf, including unforgettable, repeated, ranting descriptions of opposing players as "thugs," and officials as "thieves."

   So if you ever again want to talk about New England (OK, Boston -- how many Whalers announcers can anyone remember?) -- sports announcers and memories, make sure to include The Most. It would be a shame to have him forgotten.

   Bruce _____
-- I am too young for Johnny, but he's not been forgotten. I was merely sticking to broadcast teams from today, though at worst, Most should have gotten a cursory mention as Tommy's apparent mentor. Apologies, Bruce.

   But enough about that. As someone who regularly makes a fool out of others, it deserves to be my turn tonight.

   • Each day to make a new update, I create a copy of a previous one and build from it. It saves me from having to rewrite the same pieces of code every day, or have to learn anything new. But that's not the point. To do this update, I copied Wednesday's short update, and am building off that.

   When I wrote Wednesday's update, my girlfriend was in the apartment with me, washing up for bed. It was the first time we'd been together since the first day of September, and ... it's a hard feeling to convey. I was just happy ... to be as corny (but as factually correct) as possible, I just felt right again. Things had been OK while Meg had been in London, but Wednesday night, they were just so much better. Like lobster stuffed with tacos, for you Simpsons fans out there.

   Yet now, 48 hours later, I'm typing over that with text at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Sunday, I will not attending a holiday party I planned with all my friends from home. I will not be celebrating Christmas with my family. I will not be in Feeding Hills at all ... I'll be in New Bedford, working. Working because I agreed to switch days with someone a month ago, a switch that only barely benefitted me, a switch I made because she needed Sunday off, a witch whose flip-side I had completely forgotten about until reminded of it tonight.

   And this comes with my girlfriend now 3,000 miles away again, because I put her on a plane to go home just about twelve hours before.

   You all have every right not to give two shits about anything following this. Just go now, and come back tomorrow. If you can even be compelled to do that

   Walking home from work, I alternately wanted to cry, take a bat and start smashing stuff, and scream the f-word as loud as I could. Yet I didn't do any of them, because I knew none of them would solve anything, and just cause more problems. This whole thing, of course, is my fault. I switched the day. I forgot about it. I planned a party and reassured my family I'd be home on Sunday, all because I was doing the nice thing for someone I work with.

   After not working for two days I'd normally have worked, to was hard enough to go back. Sunday it will be borderline impossible, given what I'm missing at home. It'll be hard enough just to sleep here Saturday night, because of what I had planned to do -- something I've been dreaming of for the entire month of December, and I'm not even talking about the party.

   I've done so well for myself so far that I have no right to complain. None at all. There are people around the world who would kill to have what I have, do what I do, get the meager salary I get. And yet, I feel like sometimes I'm just living for myself. That I have no real purpose ... that I just wake up alone, spend my day however I choose to entertain myself, go to my job, come home to an empty apartment, and repeat the next day. I'm not enriching anyone else's life most of the time. I'm just living for me, hoarding my money for God knows what, playing my stupid video games, ripping on people.

   I realize the above isn't true. But I'm alone here, and when I get down, that's how I feel. I've thought of getting a pet, but I can't in my building. I've thought of joining Big Brothers / Big Sisters, but I'm scared to. All I see is that this is the life I have to lead right now --- solitary.

   My friends, my family ... the people that I love and care about ... they are everything to me. If I could just quit my job, just dump everything and dedicate the rest of my life to making all of their lives just a little better every day, that would truly be the greatest and most fulfilling career I could ever have. But I can't. And I never will be able to. I never see them enough. I never get to talk to them enough. And just when I thought I would have a day where I could spend time with all of them, just like we used to, just like we may very rarely get to do as they graduate and move into their own lives, I can't. And I can't not because of anything anyone else did, I can't because of something that I did.

   Perhaps the most painful thing of all of this is as I sat in the bathroom, trying to calm myself down as not to break down crying in the middle of the office, and realizing how badly I wanted to have somene to be angry at. But there was no one to be angry at except for me. No other person in this whole story had done one thing wrong other than me. In my efforts to do someone a favor, to give them a day they needed off more than I need Jan. 3 off, I had inadvertantly entirely fucked myself over and had no one to blame but myself.

   And there's nothing I can do to fix it other than to work. To miss the party, miss the early Christmas and realize that this is my life now. I can try to switch days with someone else, but there may only be one viable candidate. This is everything I've sepnt the last 22 years working toward ... to work at a newspaper, to have a real job, to never have to do homework or study or any of it. This was the payoff.

   Of course, this is a case of things just piling on me, worse than they ever have before. Yet there's just so much other things that are still OK, that I still have to be thankful. As best I can tell, Meg landed safely in Burbank and is now resting comfortably there. I don't even want to fathom what I would do if something happened to her. Or Matt. Or my parents. Or anyone I care about.

   I really have to stop now and try to sleep this off. I'm shaking, and that's just not good ever.

December 19, 2002 - Phat Fat Day with C.D. the 4th
   The 3-CD WWE Anthology collection of wrestler theme music from the last twenty years is the greatest compilation work produced ever. EVER. I don't think I can make this clear enough. It's like my mind was spread onto compact disc like so much butter or fish eggs.

   You may not even be capable of understanding this unless your name is Mike Hoey-Lukakis or James McConnell. And even in those cases, there may be funk and/or Beatles-related works they would make futile arguments for -- arguments lacking in both .

   So really, you'll just have to take my word for it. *

   • At 4:45 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, a certain "girlfriend" of mine burst through the doors of Terminal E, right at the moment prescribed, with arms wide open. Luggage well exceeding her own weight was in tow, but published reports say hearts were light. Expectant was a warm hug, welcoming faces and relief from a nearly 15-hour-and-counting day that included an oceanic crossing.

   She was an hour off. Now, she'll tell you it's because I was an hour late to the airport. Don't know about you, but I wouldn't buy a report from someone who didn't reset her watch until Thursday afternoon. Mind has a way of playing tricks on people when they're tired ... like I'd ever be an hour late to pick up a girl I supposedly love, especially after not seeing her for four months.

   Really! What kind of fuck do you take me for? * *

   But that's yesterday's news. The future, I'm told, lies in Japan. NIPPON, as the locals call it. Home of spicy Szechuan noodles * * *, schoolgirl-centric pornography * * * * and a little fad the kids call Dance Dance Revolution.

   As a means of trying to understand this cultural phenomenon, I purchased this game and two Power Pad-esque "Dance Pads" as a holiday present. I feel the directions offer us inroads into this deep and ever-expanding-in-influence culture. It is in that spirit I share them with you, and I hope you read carefully. Only then can you see the beauty of the words that follow.

- - - - - -

Dance Performance Instruction
Thanks for purchasing our product. This product is made for dancing and health-care. Please read this instruction carefully before using and please follow the steps properly and remember to take care of this instruction.

   • Forbidden to use this product if your feet are seriously injured. Stop immediately if there is an abnormal phenomenon in your foot, waist and back when using it.

   • Please take off your shoes when using this product, don't wear a smooth sock, do not stack up other things around you, keep far away from walls and windows, find somewhere roomy to play.

   • There is maybe have some white powder on the surface of the product, please wipe off by a piece of soft, clean cloth.

   • Make sure to pave the cushion.

   • Do not put it near the furniture and other odds and ends.

   • Young children must be guided to use it or need parents and teachers to accompany, in case to be tumbled by it.

   • High technology product, do not apart, separate or fit it anyway. Or the damage can not be guaranteed.

   • Do not keep it in the quite high or low temperature environment, especially far away from fireplace.

   • If the product can't work well, please connect with your supplier directly.

   • This product is made for indoor games only. Do not use it outdoors or in other occasion.

   • Please shut off the power before removing this product.

   • Please put it on a flat floor, but not too smooth.

   • Do not wear sharp shoes when using it, this may cause damage to the product.

   • When using this product, pay attention to keep your feet safety.

   • Strong jump or shake may cause influence to the video or audio output.

   • Please do not jump strongly, that may bring troubles to the other person.

- - - - - -

   The locals call it Engrish. I call it "Merry Christmas, Margaret." Now, the ever-necessary blank fill-in.

   * -- Anthology comments refer only to CD #1, "The Federation Years." Everything after the whole Degeneration X thing just made my eyes start to bleed ... it was like sitting up for Santa on Christmas when you knew it was just your parents the whole time.

   * * -- At 4:45 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, I was sitting at approximately the Fenway exit of Storrow Drive. I would reach Route 93 a half-hour later, but only after being rear-ended by a Saab. Upon arriving at Logan and racing Matt across the airwalk's moving walkways, I found Meg lying half-asleep on her bags. That's what kind of a fuck you should take me for.

   * * * -- The "spicy Szechuan noodles" eaten today were not of that linked recipe. They were a prepackaged lunch bought in the land of the rising sun ... or South Kensington, London. Fudge as appropriate.

   * * * * -- Oh by the way, that schoolgirl link is to a porno site. Happy trails!

December 18, 2002 - Zero Hour
   Not surprisingly, I have received a request to remove the picture prominently featured in Tuesday's update. Under normal circumstances, this would result in a worse picture being used for today ... but since I'm not out to make any more mortal enemies via this thing, we'll just humbly refuse and move on.

   The greatest lesson that can be learned here is as much of a prick as my writing may make me out to be, I'm pretty much that much the opposite of that when called on it.

   • And speaking of the picture, the non-balding being in it is back. Thus meaning tomorrow will feature the week's second double-long "update about yesterday."

   Cheers, friends.

December 17, 2002 - One Truly Retched Epilogue
   The human body truly is an amazing instrument. After having to manually force myself to vomit once or twice this morning my body took over, evacuating my person of anything consumed in the prior 18 hours with no additional effort from me.

   Ah, to be young.

   • Looking back on it, maybe it was Don Imus that sent me to the bathroom. He is grotesquely wrinkled and weathered like a boot left on the deck for winter.

   For me, there often seems to be two points that turn mere "drinking" into a "drinking episode." Your mileage may vary, but then again, so may the color of your vomit.

   1. The realization of "Oh shit, I drank too much." This almost never happens while you are actually drinking, and depending on what you're doing when the moment appears, you may not see it coming at all. It's more of an epiphany, and reactions to it vary. Thus was the case Monday.

   Things started innocently enough -- a tremendous Italian meal at the proverbial "hole in the wall" in the proverbial "quirky militant-lesbo college town." There was pleasant conversation, food easily misprounced, the gating of cheese, a story about how one of us had seen the hostess topless ... the kinds of things that often come up in fine restaurants. We had some reasonably-priced Chilean wine -- it can be best described in one word: "red."

   It was good, and I had two glasses. It, however, was not as good as the bruschetta or my linguine with clams, which were probably still the best Italian meal I've had in a while the second time I had them, if you catch my drift.

   After leaving our customary exorbitant tip, and found the only place we were going to get cigars was at a gas station, we decided to go get cigars at a gas station. We then went to downtown Springfield, since that's one of the rare places you can smoke cheap cigars, in a bar, while watching the Patriots.

   We arrived at halftime, saw the only New England touchdown and things devolved from there.

   Ounces 1-24 of Guinness came pretty much upon arrival -- we had them in time for the Brady TD. The cigars had been lit and smoked to the nub when Jim invited me to go play Pop A Shot with him. I, being far too good at bar sports, broke the machine record on the third try -- 88 points in 40 seconds. Ounces 25-48 of Guinness were a direct result of that play.

   The Black & Tan that followed was the fatal error. The game was all but decided, I was relaxed ... sure Jim, I'll have another beer. After consumption of ounce 72, I went to the bathroom. About midway through the stall door, the moment occurred.

   Initial reaction was to lie down on the marble floor, but guessing someone had once peed on it, and that I'd likely fall asleep, I didn't. I also didn't start doing pushups just to say I had once done pushups in a public restroom, but you wouldn't think I'd have to say that.

   I'd also like to note that despite clearly being intoxicated, I cleared 65 in two more hoop games before we headed on our way.

   The rest of the evening was humorous, but painful. Couple of modified Chinese Fire Drills (with car moving and no red light), driving on a lawn, peeing in a field, smashing a brandy bottle ... boilerplate asshole stuff. You know, stuff I'd bitch about if these weren't my friends. Went home, made enough noise to wake mother, explained what we had done and was merely drunk, and got to sleep earlier than I have in months.

   Waking up at eight, it was immediately clear my liver had yet to make up the laps it trailed. I did put on a brave face ... for about an hour. Til thus, point two.

   2. The realization your best course of action is to puke out any remaining alcohol. The first time, there's always that sense of shame ... until you realize it's a calculated decision that the best of a bad situation. Such was the reaction of a certain M.K. who once drank her volume in Arbor Mist.

   Perhaps the oddest part of this entire affair, aside from the fact that three of the most respectable gentlemen I know joined me in a barroom to smoke Phillies Sweets, was her reaction to Point Two: joy, because she's done the same thing four times in the past three weeks.

   From there, really the only interesting fact was the oil in the linguine kinda congealed the vomit ... it was a Galiean thermometer of lost lunch in my toilet bowl. Oh, if only I would use my powers for good ...

   Now let us never speak of it again. Though you may wonder why I spent an entire update talking about yesterday, rest assured it was a far better than an entire update spent talking about tomorrow.

-- Oh Logan, how I've missed you so ...

December 16, 2002 - Two Many Guinnesses
   I'm significantly drunker than normal.

Voices Of New England Are The Best
-- It's about Boston announcers, and how I like them. Witticisms to come when they're thought of, which will be never.

   We'll elaborate on Tuesday, but perhaps the biggest surprise was how high a level of pop-a-shot basketball superiority I can maintain when motor skills like standing and quickly grabbing basketballs are labored. I'm a modern day Helen Keller.

December 15, 2002 - Three Strikes Was A Good Thing
"Katya Gromicko is (a) common Ukrainian girl. You wouldn't notice her among others in the crowd, if not her red hair that makes you stop and take a glance. You start to notice this redheaded girl has something special. Such an innocent look on her face, cute childish smile and very beautiful eyese (sic) staring at you with interest
and a little bit of fright.

Your eyes start scanning her body from top to bottom. You see how she rises her chin in (to) try to look more proud of herself, but you know it will go twiching in loud cry if you tell her she is too young and not beautiful (enough) to be with you. You see her soft neck, shoulders. She always tries to make you notice her nice little tits and you just love it! Your eyes come lower and then you wonder,
'What color is her hair down there...'"
-- Her name is Katya, and someone (possibly me!) has requested this information be sent to my old BU e-mail account. I just thought you'd all like to know where I got my lovely recipe for "Chicken Kiev Blowjob."

   • Do you think when Billy Mays goes home for the holidays, and his family asks him how he's been doing, he tells them that he's a TV star because he's on about 13 channels every broadcast day?

   Do you think when he was growing up, he thought to himself, "Someday, I'm going to be the 21st century greatest product pitchman, and sell everything from cell phone receivers to natural cleaning products to dent removal systems," or do you think he needed work and thought this would be the best way for him to make a Jennifer Lopez-esque transition into cinema and song?

   Where did he come from? And why does he not have a biography listing on the Internet Movie (and TV too!) Database?

   Really, I'm just curious. These are the things you think about after a steady diet of 4 a.m. television. Brace yourself -- tomorrow is 'The (m)E! True Hollywood Story: Chef Tony'.

   If nothing else, it beats the hell out of a discussion about my evening of bowling and watching a 60-inch HDTV for four and a half hours. Especially since I won -- we both know I went over my self-promotion quotient at least six months ago.

December 14, 2002 - Fore-shadowing
   I've decided, at least for now, that I'm not going to include any direct links to this site in my for print column. Basically, I feel like print announcement of this thing would fundamentally change what I started it for -- a place to get stuff off my chest for the amusement of myself and others, versus something I forward as the net result of hard work writing.

   That said, I think you can definitely see an improvement in my skills since May 2001. Which leads to my humble request: If you like what you see, please pass it on to friends, colleagues, whomever you can. Just because I'm not putting this with my published work doesn't mean I want to keep it hidden from public view.

   • I'll keep this brief, since it's 4 a.m. EST.

   USC's Carson Palmer won the Heisman Trophy tonight, becoming the first West Coast player to claim the award since 1981. Ken Dorsey, the quarterback of the University of Miami and man who many thought was a shoo-in to win, finished 5th, behind even his own teammate, Willis McGahee.

   Though looking at the number makes this obvious, the presence of two Miami players in the top five didn't cost either the Heisman. Combined, their 1,303 points were 25 short of Palmer's 1,328.

   Ken Dorsey's team, admittedly a team full of future NFL superstars, has lost exactly one game in his 39-start college career, and it wasn't in 2002. Ask any member of the Miami team other than Dorsey -- his coaches, fellow players, even beat writers -- and they will tell you Dorsey is the force that drives the team.

   I'm not so much disturbed that Carson Palmer won, though it probably had more to do with his dominant performance against Notre Dame than anything else, but Dorsey's finishing fifth is borderline mind boggling.

   Of the 811 writers who returned Heisman ballots this year, 501 didn't even put Ken Dorsey in the top three. Because I genuinely don't care care about real-life * college football I'll stop now, but not before saying the people at Ohio State, waiting to play Miami in the Fiesta Bowl, must be just thrilled with this.

   * - At 92% complete, I've decided Vice City and I need some time apart to make our love stronger. In its place, I have resurrected the Boston Univ. Terriers football team, as created within the resurrected NCAA Football 2003, and will spend my thumb-twitching energies leading them to the National Championship.

   The entirely-made-up boys (playing in as reasonable a facsimile of Nickerson Field as could be crafted) won their 2002 opener today, beating Dartmouth 21-7. Now let us never speak of it again in such revered tones, especially since Dartmouth plays in Division 4-QQQ.

   And for you non-sports fans, well, there's always eBay, the continued launching pad of Cooch Christmas 2K2. Because where else are you going to get a "Rookie" Brand Penis Pump for such a great price?

December 13, 2002 - Five For Friday
   • It is not lost on me that the Baseball Winter Meetings that started Thursday were the ones I had planned to attend. By December, I was supposed to be so stir-crazy in Whale City that I would fly to Nashville by myself, pay a couple hundred bucks more, and attend this job fair in the hopes I could get a job with a team like the Pawtucket Red Sox, who are conspicuously closer to New Bedford than they are to Nashville.

   And maybe someday I will. But I think for now, everything worked out for the better.

   • Chester Cheetah doesn't want you to eat Flamin' Hot Cheetos. In the radio ad, Chester is adamant that you not eat Flamin' Hot Cheetos. Your taste buds will cry "Oh Mama! Stop the paain!," your fingers will feel the scorch of one thousand orbs of burning gas, your arteries will feel as though clogged with pasty mucus ... all that such stuff is the crux of their commercial. That the best thing you can do is stay far, far away from Flamin' Hot Cheetos.

   Now, I understand what they going for, but don't you think there was one guy in the boardroom that went, "Um, boss? What happens if they actually listen to us?"

   • The Christmas Season, Post-Teen. Maybe the best part about being a person who feels guilty when someone buys them gifts, because it's money they could have better spent elsewhere, is that the biggest thrill of the holidays is finding the best things to buy for other people. Honest.

   Were I to have an actual "Christmas list," there'd be maybe one thing on it that's under $100. I'm at the point where anything below that, given the delusional state I exist in when it comes to expendable income, I just buy. And anything above that is something I can live without, so I do.

   What can I say ... I'm such an asshole most of the time, I like to do nice things for the people close to me when I can. In a related story, none of you will be getting a Christmas card from me this year. Be offended as appropriate.

   • Cardinal Law resigned. I can't think of any major news story I care about less.

   • Trent Lott's a racist prick. Oh wait, yeah I can.

   I'm not sure what amazes me more -- that Trent Lott is going to get away with saying he and his state are proud supporters a segregationist Presidential candidate up to this very day, or that anybody is surprised by either his statement or the outcome.

   What's that? An 61-year-old white man from Mississippi, a state you'll never hear protesting the flight of the Confederate flag, supports keeping blacks oppressed? Yeah, that just tumbled right out of the blue.

   You think this is bad, wait until he gets elected again.

December 12, 2002 - Six of One, Half-Dozen Of D'Other
   You would think by now I'd have learned it's not good to watch any cooking shows or a food-related informercial at any time past, say, 2 a.m. Doing so would cause me to become hungry, since dinner's at least five hours in the rear view then, and I'd be compelled to eat whatever I could find. Even if it happened to be, say, eggs, fruit salad, and a bagel and jam.

   Yeah, and Bob Barker shouldn't have sexually harassed his Beauties, either. Sure stopped him.

   • And in this roundabout manner we find Charlie Hustle. A man who should have known better than to bet on a sport he was managing.

   But he didn't. Now, you can argue that there's no actual proof Pete Rose bet on baseball games, bet on the Reds team he managed, bet against the Reds team he managed ... but the fact remains Pete Rose signed a statement that agreed to his lifetime ban from baseball under Rule 21, in return for the league both stopping an investigation on his gambling. Thus, they never could prove he bet on baseball games.

   The statement Rose signed included this clause, which given his lawyers suggested he agree to these terms, ought to answer the betting question once and for all.

"Peter Edward Rose acknowledges that the Commissioner has a factual basis to impose the penalty provided herein, and hereby accepts the penalty imposed on him by the Commissioner, and agrees not to challenge that penalty in court or otherwise. He also agrees he will not institute any legal proceedings against the Commissioner or any of his representatives, either Major League, or any Major League club."
-- As cribbed from this Baseball Prospectus article.

   Pete Rose is a disgraceful human being. Just a quick exploration of the Web site linked at the top shows there truly is no end to what he will sell, what he will sign and where he will appear. You get the feeling there is no limit to what he will say or do to get what he wants. He is a prick in every way the word can be defined. A disgrace to his game.

   And I think he belongs in the Baseball Hall Of Fame.

   The numbers aren't even debatable -- his record of 4,256 hits alone is enough to stamp his ticket, or pass, or whatever the hell mass transit there is anywhere near upstate New York. As a player, his desire was hard to match. He was a star for more than twenty years, then became a better-than-average manager (even if he was just doing it to cover the spread).

   And that's why he should be in the Hall of Fame. He was a Hall of Fame player, and last I checked, Cooperstown isn't a moral court. Ty Cobb was an insufferable prick and a racist. Juan Marichal gave John Roseboro a concussion in a 1965 brawl -- he hit him intentionally with his bat. Mickey Mantle, aside from being an adulterer and an alcoholic, helped the Yankees win seven World Series.

   [Insert O.J. Simpson reference here.]

   The argument could be made, I suppose, that Pete Rose's behavior was detrimental to his sport, to the point of blotting out everything he ever did as a player. Well, the jury in that case would be the fans of Major League Baseball, who are the only reason the HOF even exists. And the ovation Matt speaks of during the Fall Classic should clue you in to how that case is turning out. The fans remember the moments of greatness, not the blips of blight in the foreground.

   It shouldn't be so hard for everyone to figure out. The hero has a flaw, a nearly fatal one. We see it, and we see our flaws in it. (And no, this is not me saying my gambling is a flaw ... I haven't been to Foxwoods since October.) We pity him, as we pity Shoeless Joe Jackson's omission from the Hall on much the same rationale.

   You want to argue Pete Rose has damaged baseball with his behavior? That he's despicable? Well I'd like to argue that Bud Selig has damaged baseball. That Twins owner Carl Pohlad is despicable. That the current state of the Montreal Expos is damaging baseball. How about the Tampa Bay Devil Rays? What are they doing for the game? Pot. Kettle. Black.

   Baseball has changed and shaped the rules to fit what they had to do before. Ban him, but give him his glory. Keep Pete Rose banned from the game for the same reason Paul Hornung and Alex Karras were banned from football in 1963 ... for just the perception they were gambling on their sport and compromising it, never mind that they were actually doing it. They paid their penalty, they were reinstated and they finished their careers.

   And Paul Hornung was elected to the Football Hall of Fame in 1986. That really took the steam right out of football, didn't it?

December 11, 2002 - One Week
   In college hoops tonight, Drake beat the D-3 Pioneers of Grinnell 162-110. Breaking the game into halves, Drake won 73-56 and 89-54.

   On Nov. 16, 2002, the Detroit Pistons beat the Denver Nuggets by a similar scoreline ... 74-53. Of course in their case that was an entire freakin game.

   • It's weird how ones political stance can be boiled down into everyday life.

   Last year, myself and a pair of cohorts went to the FleetCenter early on a December morning during finals. I studied history notes, as I had a final at noontime, but camping out for lower-level Beanpot tickets struck me as worth it. And it turned out to be: we were the second group in line, got eight tickets and sat in the Fleet's Club seats -- own waiter, special access and just the general feeling that we were better than everyone else. Given the work we'd put in, hell, maybe we were.

   If nothing else, I know for a fact I was the only person in the fancy people seats to be wearing a scarlet and white Dr. Seuss hat. It's good to know we stayed grounded ... especially when we let that five-year-old kid into our frenetic group hug that followed BU scoring the clincher.

   Our plan was such a success, it was generally decided it would become a tradition. When those seats were but $10 more than students pay to sit in the upper bowl, the payoff was more than worth it. Of course, the point of this story is that this will not be happening in 2003.

   The main reason for this would be I missed the general ticket sale, which was, as I just discovered, six days ago. As expected, all lower level tickets are now gone. Yet I'm not angry that the Fleet took so long to even post the Pot on their event schedule - wasn't up as of the last day of November - because we wouldn't have been able to repeat what we'd done anyway.

   Not only did the arena set up an insane two ticket limit per person that borders on impossibly stupid, they instituted a "Random Number Distribution" system at their Box Office.

"For many shows appearing at the FleetCenter, Random Number Distribution (RND) is used during the on sale to ensure the fairest system to purchase tickets and to help eliminate the threat of "scalpers."

The goal of (RND) is to remove any incentive that customers might have to camp out overnight, and to set a fair and equitable system of distribution that gives all customers an equal chance at good seats. The (RND) system will be used to determine the line order for purchasing tickets. The order in which the random numbers are passed out has absolutely no bearing on the eventual order in which customers will be lined up to purchase tickets. Everyone who receives a random number has an equal chance to be first in line. Issuance of a random number does NOT guarantee a ticket to the event. Once the beginning number is chosen, the customers will be lined up in numerical order. Anyone who receives a random number has a chance to be first in line.

There is no need to camp out. The FleetCenter reserves the right to refuse service to anyone that does not abide by the aforementioned policies."

   So in the Fleet's efforts to root out scalpers, they have essentially created a system where hard work and dedication to arrive early and wait for the ticket office to open doesn't guarantee you will get a ticket period, never mind one better than some drooling putz who shows up two minutes before the office opens.

   Real good policy. Let's punish a person who wants to go to something so bad, they're willing to do nothing but stand and wait for an hour, two hours ... let's get them to stop working for what they want, and instead give it out as though it's a fucking raffle prize. Why would we reward work when it's much easier just to make it a crapshoot?

   Oh but wait, it's probably more work to hand out the numbers and ensure people stand in correct numerical order than it would be to just make sure they don't stab each other while waiting. So I guess this system makes absolutely ... zero sense? Am I missing something here? Or are we really just rewarding the listless with a handout?

   Yes, such a system does stop scalpers and ticket brokers from buying large blocks of tickets and reselling them at two to three times face value. It also stops me and a contingent of my friends from going to the highlight of the college hockey regular season and cheering on our alma mater (or soon to be alma mater). It's far from on the same level of importance as something like the battle on terror or airport security, but really, is the premise of overcompensation that much different?

   Discuss amongst yourselves. I'm off to look for scalpers and ticket brokers who bought large blocks of tickets and are reselling them at two to three times face value.

December 10, 2002 - And The Veggie Pies Lingered
   Here's my last word on the column that sparked the biggest deabte this site's had since the comments system started.

   1. I feel like I blew a good topic to write about, because I did have ideas to forward, but allowed them to get too bogged down in crap. I also wasn't very thorough in my personal edit of the piece before sending.

   2. That said, it's blatantly obvious my editors dropped the ball. Before I'd even gone in to work, it was abundantly clear the sports editor had not been the one to edit my piece, if anyone had in fact been the one to edit my piece.

   3. Even if you're not going to edit something, the least you can do is read it all the way through before writing a headline for it. If I write that arguably Boston's most popular player should be traded, the story's headline should not be "Same Old Sox Taking Shape." That's absolutely ludicrous and inexcusable, to the point of where I'm considering bringing it up with my editor. Don't pigeonhole me before people even hear what I've got to say.

   The fact remains that I rushed the piece, so most of the problems people had with it can and should be thrown on me. That said, I still think it's good, and it says something. Even if it does have its hand over its mouth while saying it.

   And I do thank everyone who wrote in, and encourage more of you to do so, for good things or bad. And should the comment system eat your post, I'm usually able to rescue it from being limbo's flotsam.

   • I lied. This is the last word ... at least until next Tuesday.

   Blame this on the grease. After getting back to Whale City late and needing a quick meal, I order myself a dinner of drive-thru (from my neighbors at KFC) for the first time since Meg left my sofa in August. As my dietary punishment, a class on community journalism being held at the office gets let out, and we get their leftovers.

   TWENTY Domino's pizzas, six two-liters of soda and an eighteen inch tray of sugar cookies. What's that Spade used to say to Farley?

"Ugh, I can actually hear you getting fatter."
-- Of course, to be followed by the classic,
"Faaaat guuuuy in a liiiittle cooooat ..."

   Now, if I was Theo Epstein ...

   • If the three-way deal that brings Vlad Guerrero to Boston is real, take it. The cold fact that Red Sox fans need to realize is that after the 2004 season, there are five guys on this team right now that are going to demand big cash ... in the range of $15-20 million each. Manny Ramirez is already signed, and it's not likely that contract's moving anywhere. Jason Varitek is an excellent catcher, but he's not likely to yield that much in the open market. That leaves Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe and Nomar.

   Sad as it is, Pedro's probably on the way down. Derek is likely to be viewed as a one-hit wonder until he proves otherwise, and really, this teams needs more pitching. Trading Nomar this season ... you're offering a team two years with an exemplary shortstop. And what you lose with Nomar, much of it is gained back in nabbing Guerrero, whose .336/39/111 is at worst comparable to Nomie's .310/24/120.

   If you need more, Vlad's 26, Nomar's 29. Over more games, Vlad's average seasonal OPS of .974 trumps a .937. It's all here ... I'm sick of numbers.

   • Vlad plays right, thus making Trot Nixon trade bait. Solid young player ... somebody's got to want him. Plus in the fans eyes, who were so enamored with him after 2001, he's a lot more expendable this offseason. What about Shea Hillenbrand? Everybody loves All Stars, and Epstein has said he wants to make the team a more patient hitting squad.

   • Parlay Nixon, Hillenbrand and whatever else you choose to fill the gaps in the pen, the rotation and at first, IN THAT ORDER. If you want to make the argument this team is "one guy away," that guy's a pitcher. The bullpen is extremely dicey at this point in time, and the rotation looks to fall off a cliff after Pedro and Lowe (Wakefield? Fossum? Burkett? In a playoff series?!). This team needs arms ... the hitting is there and is still going to be there if you subtract these guys.

   I'm not going to sit here and pretend there won't be a dropoff in quality on the left side of the infield if you shop these guys, but you'll have greatly upgraded in right field, freed up a little bit of payroll now, and presumably given yourself more flexibilty later.

   This is all contingent on this deal actually being a reality. By no means should the Sox dump Nomar just to dump him ... everyone just has to realize that this core of superstars can't, and shouldn't, all stay. As much as we love them, they haven't won anything. Something has to happen.

   Aren't the worst fantasy baseball teams the ones just packed with big names? As great as it is to fill a team with stars, the name got big already. It's not in the process of getting that way, if you're catching my drift.

   Now, off to soak my left thumb, which either has an ingrown nail going on or is calcifying for no good reason.

December 9, 2002 - I -Meh- New York
   Twice tonight I lost eBay auctions for Christmas presents (thus no links) to bids placed with 15 seconds to go or less. In both cases, it was my own stupidity about auctioneering that was my downfall.

   The dual putzing was enough to make me want to scream and throw something. Yet now having worked on not being so childish about such things, I instead was pacing around the room while whippng my arms at households items, but stopping myself before hitting them.

   I just wish someone had gotten it on film, since the whole moronic escapade was over not getting something nice for someone else.

   • Finally, a pro athlete I can relate to!

   He's got his own Web site, it's bad enough to show he made it with no one else's help, and he actually says what he's thinking.

"We had our annual visit to the local children's hospitals. ... One kid in particular touched me. I was walking down the hall and one of the nurses told me there was a kid who wanted to meet me. As I approached him, he looked up and said 'Run Ricky Run.' That made it all worth it. We took a picture and I have him a ball. As we departed, one of the nurses told me he hadn't gotten out of his bed in a few days, and they were all excited to see him up and walking. That felt 10 times better than scoring a touchdown. As I was leaving I saw him again while I was looking for a place to take off my jersey. He asked me for it. I was honored to give it to him. One of our interns wasn't to happy about it. You see we are only wearing our aqua jerseys once this year on Monday. So we only have one, and my one and only is now at Miami Children's. I told him that this is the NFL, and if we can't get a jersey in 6 days then ..." [bleepedy bleep bleep]

   Oh, but it gets better.

"I invited myself to attend this luncheon last week, but had to reschedule until this week because I had other Dolphin community commitments. I volunteered when I heard that there was a $500 appearance fee and a trip to the Bahamas."

   A pro athlete, a multi-millionaire, excited over a $500 bonus for attending a booster club luncheon. Never mind the fact he plays video games like it's his job. Ricky Williams is me new favorite player, bar none. If nothing else, I now know exactly what I would behave like if I were a Heisman Trophy-winning running back.

   Though I doubt I'm shy enough to term it a social disorder, and I certainly wouldn't have hired this guy as my first agent ... not even for comedic value.

   My own anxieties about New York City also were never as strong as I made them out to be, but enough to not make it a place I'd dare say I enjoyed much.

   My first Gotham experience was going to the Bronx Zoo with Grandma when I was very young ... six or seven. Nothing particularly gruesome happened on that bus trip, but it was just enough driving (and lack thereof) and tall buildings to convince myself it was not a place I could easily navigate on my own. Course at that point I couldn't, as I was seven.

   My big complaint with New York City, aside from being a Bostonian and thus contractually obligated to hate it, is that it just always seemed like way too much city for me. I'm simple. I enjoy things simple. I like to walk from place to place, just go about my business, and have that be that.

   I also don't like the smell of urine / rancid hot dog water, but in December that's no so much an issue.

   Boston has always been about the size of place I can handle. I'm able, and have at least once, to walk from BU clear across the city to the Aquarium. I know where stuff is. I know where not to go -- wherever the Orange Line services. I never had that with New York, and because it's easier to be ignorant, it just always kind of stayed that way.

   My latest trips actually into Manhattan never usually did anything to change that, because even though I was having a good time and seeing friends I usually didn't get to see, one of them was spent largely hoping I wouldn't win in the Rent lottery. When they started making "non-theater" people, I was the mold they were building off.

   So as one might expect, all it takes is one marching step into non-ignorance to throw a wrench into any stereotype. The seed was probably planted on my last trip, where we walked to our destination without being mugged, killed or licked by the homeless. It was at that point I started to realize that the things I had learned in navigating Boston pretty much translated over to any city where walking is an ideal mode of transportation.

   So now here I am, fully convinced that the Big Apple has won me over because they had a lot of flashy neon going and an arcade with Namco's "Shoot The Cup" game for 75 cents.

   Eh, whatever works. No one ever said I was a hard sell.

Same Old Sox Taking Shape
-- I didn't even get my picture bug this week, but whatever ... by the end of the week when Theo Epstein has not traded Nomar, but made three dozen other deals, I'd have looked stupider than normal anyway.

Though our Web guys are useless to the point of making things worse -- see the continuing run of "Couture, John" as evidence.

December 8, 2002 - Broadway Blue & T-Square Too
   The Links Page has been given a worthwhile tweaking, in honor of the talented and prolific April 'Spunkadelic' Rondeau being added to the listings. Even with her misguided decision to attend Brighton College, I couldn't continue to ignore her any longer.

   • Like I said ... I love adventures.

   4:45 a.m. - I awake in my bed at the moment my alarm should have gone off, but I hear no buzzing, nor remember rousting to turn it off. Suspected explanations include a mild dose of sleepwalking, a strong internal clock or complications from landing on my head while operating a Battery Park see-saw.

   6 a.m. - After some dawdling and Honey Nut Chex, the Saturn departs Whale City full of dirty laundry and cold air, with the destination (after a fuel stop and liberal amounts of The Score) ...

   8 a.m. - New Haven, Connecticut! The Elm City! Money Magazine's fourth favorite "medium-sized" city! Home to the Ravens of baseball's Eastern League and pretentious pricks who were either too good and not snobby enough for Harvard! Personally, my connection to New Haven is that each time I have gone there to board the Metro North train to New York City, I have made the same wrong turn off the highway and had to find my way back to Union Station.

   The fact that it's the identical mistake each time, making a right as opposed to making a U-turn (that is clearly shown on a large sign, mind you), at least makes it easy to correct. It also makes it borderline retarded, but I like to think of it as not blindly accepting the auggestions by a city that has managed to hide it's connection to one of America's most prestigious universities for almost 300 years.

   8:34 a.m. - I had planned to ride the 9:34 into Gotham, but because I'm early somewhere for the first time in six years, I gleefully buy a New York Daily News and try to look as non-touristy as possible.

   This is hard when you have a large, bright red New York City street map in your pocket, but I'd like to think no one cared. I'd also like to think that anyone in the city who reads a column by Mike Barnicle about a father and son he saw on a plane thinks, at least for a moment, that the fucker made the entire thing up.

   9:45 a.m. - I'm rousted from a post-read nap by a small girl in the next row of seats. Traveling with her mom, a grandmother and two sisters (I presume), she begins repeatedly asking "Are we in New York City yet?" well before we are. Later, once she sees a Harlem apartment complex, she will begin to sing, "We're in New York Ci-ty, We're in New York Ci-ty" and "Tunnel, Tunnel, Tu-nnel" until our train arrives at Grand Central.

   And really, I knew the entire day would be a success when, as our train pulled into the gate, the young girl of five turned sour, looked at her mom, and went, "This is the boringest day ever." I about bust out right there.

   10:12 a.m. - I am standing in the middle of Grand Central exactly to the minute I was scheduled to be. Thank you, Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Enjoy your work stoppage.

   11:20 a.m. - After killing an hour by discovering every board game every made still exists, just in a new box; that Virgin Megastore can have twenty-five flat panel monitors, but still have a mop bucket out because the roof leaks; and that I really can find an arcade to waste money in everywhere, I discover that Mr. and Mrs. Matt have the nicest apartment in the universe.

   Three blocks from Times Square, with a view facing toward Central Park, it's a palace on the 32nd floor of a sparkling new building. It puts my place to shame, even before you consider his is in the center of the world economy, and mine is in the center of the blubber-based economy.

   12:10 p.m. - While eating at a diner nearby, I finally get through to Lonnie, whose Beacon Hill apartment I was now expected at ten minutes ago. The "I can't come because I'm in New York City right now" is met with the kind of chuckle one gives when being regaled with a far more elaborate excuse than would ever be necessary.

   1:15 p.m. - After finishing lunch, giving a man on the street thirty five cents, walking ten blocks and struggling to find the "important people entrance" to Madison Square Garden, I sit down in Corporate Box #1015 in the world's most famous arena to watch the Bruins play the Rangers. The leadoff quotes of the previous two days should now begin to make sense.

   My initial reaction to MSG? Much smaller than it's portrayed on television ... though that could be because I was sitting at a level where the vaunted "1941-42 League Champions" banner nearly obscured my vision. Then, that it had very wide aisles, and that I wanted to hear the distinctive horn sounded when the Rangers score a goal.

   1:23 p.m. - Home team honors hick's request, then promptly disappears for remainder of game.

   2:15 p.m. - I discover that, if I turn the two TV's in the back of the box to the Patriots game (up 20-0) and Giants game (up 3-0) respectively, I can both watch three sporting events at once and reach my life's pinnacle by age 22.

   2:40 p.m. - Matt and I laugh at the word "crudite" on our corporate suite menu, then quietly come to the realization that neither of us knows what it is.

   3:25 p.m. - Ranger fans, with their team being slaughtered 4-1, greet the announcement of the last minute of play in the third period by cheering loudly.

   It should be noted that despite the actual game being incredibly dull, attending it was not an experience I would trade for anything. MSG is a great place to watch a game, even from the ceiling, and their PA announcer is the guy who does the voice work for EA's NHL series of games. Also, the Rangers come out to a light show ... before every period. No further comment needed.

   3:55 p.m. - On our way back toward Times Square, where we would stop and watch part of ABC's BCS Selection Special be taped, I mentally explain to a fellow pedestrian why his girlfriend doesn't look like #3 in the 'Winter Wonderland' popup, while Matt overhears a man verbalizing that he really needs a handjob.

   5 p.m. - I depart my host's place, failing to properly thank him enough, take one last wander around Times Square looking for a framed art vendor from earlier and huff back to Grand Central.

   And now, three hours later in Agawam, I'll leave my newfound take on New York City until tomorrow.

December 7, 2002 - I Love Adventures
"The rivalry between the Rangers and the Bruins was born long before the inception of the Original Six in 1942. Boston's fate in each of its first three playoff appearances from 1927-29 was tied to the Rangers. Their next meeting wasn't until 10 years later in a defining second-round series in 1939. In a seven-game series that featured five one-goal games and three with extra frames, the Bruins took a 3-0 series lead, surrendered, then won Game Seven 2-1 on a triple-overtime goal
by Mel "Sudden Death" Hill.
--, 2001. The B's won the Cup in '39 ...
whether either of these clowns does in 2002 is profoundly doubtful.

   • Just once, I think, I'd like to be able to look into a mirror again and not be in some way disgusted with what I'm looking at. Whether it be just what exactly I'm looking at, or the fact that I've stopped to look into a mirror just because I happened to be passing by one.

   At the very least, I'd like the scale at home to at least confirm that my middle is bigger, that my arms are stronger, that I've moved more than one pound one way or the other from 160. It's amazing to me that at 152 pounds in Los Angeles last year, I felt like I was in the best shape of my life, but now fifteen months and scarcely half a stone later, I feel utterly bereft of fit-nitional value.

   But enough about that ... you're not paying for the thought of me naked on a bathroom scale. Now you're wishing you were paying for the antidote of the thought of me naked on a bathroom scale. And they say the Internet will never be made profitable ...

   Tonight, while looking at Matt's page, I got a pop-up ad resembling the fuck product of a Windows warning message and a trivia contest. The question? "Which of these characters in 'Scooby Doo' is also play [something 'sic'-ly like that] Buffy the Vampire Slayer?"

   The choices were Sarah Michelle Gellar, the correct answer; Linda Cardellini, Velma and formerly of 'Freaks & Geeks;' and Freddy Prinze Jr. and Matthew Lillard.

   I put in Shaggy. I won.

   Least now I've confirmed he is a little too effeminate.

December 6, 2002 - With Apologies To Beacon Hill
"A luxury box is not something you give Dad on Father's Day. At New York City's Madison Square Garden, a suite goes for as much as $240,000 a year. For that money, lucky patrons get 16 seats in the box for every event save religious rallies. Patrons get to saunter in through a special VIP entrance, watch the game from a nicely appointed, glass-enclosed living room and relieve themselves in their own private bathroom. The waiter-service menu ranges from hot dogs ($42 for 12) to grilled lamb chops ($95 for 12); Dom Perignon is available at $120 a bottle. So what's the drawback? The boxes, at the top of the Garden, offer a view of the action that reduces 7-ft.-tall basketball players to ants in short pants."
-- TIME Magazine, July 1995. It'll make sense in a couple days.

   • Sometimes, you just know.

   Tonight, the 17-1 Dallas Mavericks went to Los Angeles, to play the struggling, three-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers. Dallas had not won in L.A. in their last 23 tries, but tonight, looked to be well on their way, Shaq or not.

   A modest five-point lead after one quarter balloned to 28 at halftime, on the strength of a 33-6 run to end the half. Mavs owner Mark Cuban was doing his traditional leaps behind the Dallas bench. Mave coach Don Nelson looked his normal disgustingly fat, but happy with the state of affairs. Tim Hardaway, former player and current ESPN studio analyst, pontificated on the 64-36 halftime scoreline.

"Oh my God. Oh ... my ... God. Oh my God. That's all I can say."
-- Paging Joe Pulitzer ... Joe Pulitzer, report to Bristol immediately.

   But sometimes, you just know.

   The third quarter was nondescript, with the 28-point Dallas being shaved down ... to 27. Mike Tirico, doing the play-by-play, announced at the end of the third quarter, live, that the Mavs were going to 18-1. And sometimes, you just know ...

   Game over. Lakers outscore Dallas 44-15 in the 4th, L.A. wins 105-103. Bus crash. Train wreck. Feeling yourself drop that heavy package ... big ups to Mike Tirico. You idiot.

   There is no franchise in professional sports, not even the New York Yankees, that I despise more than the Los Angeles Lakers. I've at least pitied the Yankees once ... L.A. and "Showtime" were (and are) everything I hate about pro sports today.

   I would go into detail about just what that means, about how the Lakers have always epitomized the brashness and jaw-running that hard workers and the humble hate, but just go here instead and read that I'm a liar. That I actually hate all athletes and teams, and am not actually a sports fan.

   He (being Jim Caple) has a point, but only to a point. I sense about halfway through he realized he didn't have enough analogies for a full column, so he just kind of glazed over the rest and hoped he could skate by. Not quite, my Minnesotan.

   I know that feeling too.

December 5, 2002 - Goodbye, McDonough
   Most of us have called in sick to work one day because we either had other plans or just didn't want to go. Some of us have gone out to buy alcohol that will likely be consumed by some not of legal age to consume it. A rare few have done homework for someone else, even something as serious as an academic paper, and allowed them to turn it in as their own.

   It takes a special kind of person to do all these things once, especially if they were to accomplish them in the same day. It takes a truly soulless, guiltless "human" of questionable behavioral standards and truly frightening moral fortitude.

   Yes, it takes a Californian.

   • And now, making a return bereft of herald ...

   Today's Vice City Moment: Thirty-eight days after purchase, and about a week and a half after I'd stopped playing it in disturbing multi-hour, tortilla-enriched stretches, I beat the final mission in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Some mobsters are dead, along with my rat of an associate, and have about a half-million dollars and 14 houses.

   Sixty-one hours, 46 minutes. And there's still 28% to be unlocked. No wonder it took me 18 years to date.

   Now, the big news in Whale City today is white. Depending on where you go, it may also be gray, brown, black or melted. It's snow. Six and a half inches, using the highly-scientific method preferred by copy editor sports columnists across the city.

   Finger in the snow on a car roof, measure the finger. Take that, National Weather Service!

   And it was that backdrop of snow and single player that kept me from knowing about the death of Roone Arledge until well into the night. Unlike the Ted Williams fiasco, you are allowed not to know who Roone Arledge was ... but you're still getting a leer.

   Roone Arledge probably did more to make me a football fan than any single player ever did. His creation, "Monday Night Football," put football in the mainstream. He was the first to use slow-motion instant replay, the bombastic broadcast styles of Howard Cosell and Dennis Miller ... he made the TV show bigger than the game. And he basically sold America on football and the Olympics.

   Though we can trace the "personal profile of athletes" to him, Dick Ebersol at NBC has proven that you can have way too much of a good thing. If the first Olympics I remember, the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary, were televised like the last ones I recall, Salt Lake 20-02, I'd have jumped ship a long time ago. Instead, all I remember is Keith Jackson speaking warmly of sports in a ski lodge setup. Good times.

   As much as Roone did for sports, he probably did just as much for news. "Nightline" is his doing, as is "20/20," "Prime Time" and "This Week with David Brinkley." He truly did revolutionize television as we watch it. And while many others with stronger backgrounds and interests in it with likely be more poignant, I leave you with this.

   It's altogether likely the last ABC programming Roone Arledge ever saw, the last thing he ever watched on the network he essentially made, was Diane Sawyer, a correspondent he hired, get talked down to by Whitney Houston, a (former?) coke addict doing little more than try to resurrect her flagging career and pimp her latest album by being a ghetto bitch on national TV with her bipolar, physically violent husband nearby.

   No wonder he died today.

December 4, 2002 - Seriously, Don't Even Bother
   It's amazing how much your day's mood can change by losing an eBay auction in the final minute. Especially if it's one you've been tracking for five days and one that would have greatly advanced your Christmas shopping.

   Of course, when you've had 'Jenny From The Block' in your head for upwards of a day, your mood wasn't really the most valuable commodity on the seaboard to begin with.

   • I suppose it started last week, when the opening salvo of Tuesday Morning Quarterback was removing Thanksgiving football from Dallas and Detroit. Easterbrook's point was that, statistically, the teams are given a half-game advantage each year based on these short-week home games they always receive.

   I'd probably be right in agreement with him ... if these teams were burning the rest of the league and making the playoffs each year. The Lions have won exactly one playoff game since 1958, and only made the postseason eight times. Dallas has made it to seven Super Bowls, winning five ... impressive, but hardly unfair. And as quickly as he dismisses the tradition of these teams playing on Turkey Day, I hang onto it just as fast.

   It snowballed from there. While his depth of football knowledge (derived from his depth of complete knowledge) is very admirable, I just can't get through the whole thing. It's too damn much ... and that doesn't even take into account the wandrings into academia, current events, the Star Trek universe ...

   I will readily admit I'm likely not intelligent enough, or maybe ever not enough of a football fan, to be able to appreciate TMQ. I do generally enjoy Easterbrook's writing, but I don't have the level of hero worship he seems to receive from many. And a lot of that is the hack-worthy job he does renaming NFL teams ...

   For about a third of the league's 32 teams, TMQ has created witty nicknames. The kind of thing I'd do for my columns ... when I wrote for the Agawam High School Mirror. They are the: Miami Marine Mammals, Baltimore Nevermores, Cleveland Oranges (Releases 2.0 & 2.1), Indianapolis Horsies, Houston Moo-Cows, Tennessee Flaming Thumbtacks, San Francisco Squared Sevens, New Orleans Boy Scouts, Seattle Blue Men Group, Jersey/A & Jersey/B, City of Tampa, Arizona (May Contain Football-Like Substance) Cardinals, and my personal favorite, Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Persons.

   By my count, that leaves 18 teams yet to be named. Your assignment, fair readers, is to rename the other 18. Remember, they don't have to be very good ... aim low. You can only impress.

   And for the love of God, no haikus.

   The goal today was not to have an entirely football discussion, really. But unless they find Whitey Bulger's rotting corpse somewhere, I really can't be compelled to care just yet.

December 3, 2002 - Payback For The Guestbook
   Seems a handful of people are all depressed because Theo Epstein is the General Manager of the Boston Red Sox at 28, while they are decrepit wastes with no direction at an age greater than 28. See it articulated here.

   But given where I sit, the glass is half full. I have exactly the next six years to stop being a fuckwad. And even if I fail, it should make for an entertaining read, especially if I nurture my newly revived love of the word "f'wad."

   • It took all of three days for me to stumble across the first reference to the Counting Crows' 'Long December' in a blog/journal/profile. Let that be a lesson to all you ________ who think you're so creative. This was exactly three days longer than I thought it would take.

   I am a longtime patronizer of people who quote song lyrics as poignant. Don't get me wrong, they often do translate very well to the lives of we mortals, but it's so overdone it's laughable. Especially in the case where I saw it -- from a person whose life, at least from what I read, has overtaken "soap opera" and "melodrama" to become a sweeps weekend on Univision.

   Now if you'll excuse me, I picked up this hot Russian plaything at High Fashion Week in Moscow last month. As I've only got two weeks from Wednesday before my afternoon cameo at Logan Airport ... well, you'll see this isn't one I can pass up.

-- Hey, it's been tough times in the old country. Cut them a little slack.

   As for those promised column outtakes, really the only one worth repeating was my new name for the University of Illinois, where the Chicago Bears are playing their home games this season. In true TMQ fashion, it shall now be "the campus at Champaign-Urlacher" (as opposed to Urbana).

   And as for my feelings on Tuesday Morning Quarterback ... now's not the time to go off that hard.

December 2, 2002 - The Mill Is Inside
   November 30th's write-up, left here an extra day since most of my readers stop by on weekdays, has now been returned to where November write-ups go.

   • You know you have an IM Buddy List full of college students when of 19 online, 17 have away messages up, the 18th is idle and the 19th, well, you don't know him well enough to make a judgment. Of course, just because I've graduated doesn't mean I'm anything different. IM has long been my contact lifeline ... the phone, at least in the Danielsen Flat, the Mountfort Estate and the Whale City Villa, was merely for telemarketer calls and Mom's biweekly check-in.

   As for the official Couture Compound in Feeding Hills, I probably get the lionshare of non-crap calls. Being I'm there two days a week, and have fewer and fewer friends in the area code each year, I think that's saying something.

   Maybe it's this kind of behavior that has the University of Hartford so confused.

"Sometimes a college education is interrupted by family, work or any of the many other responsibilities of life. When that happens, postponing your degree seems like the right choice. But time passes quickly, and now your schedule has filled up. Going back to college may seem like something you can only dream about.

At the University of Hartford, we see a bachelor's degree as a necessary and valuable tool for getting ahead in a very competitive world and we want to help you make your dream come true."
-- An ad, to me, for UHartford's Bachelor of University Studies

   This isn't the first time these Hawks have tried to, for lack of tastefulness, tried to get their claws in me. I received a bulk mailer from them my senior year at AHS, offering me, among other things, an $8,000 scholarship, sight unseen. Now, it's likely I got targeted by my PSAT score or grades, but this was literally no more than a flyer with my named stamped on it like a sweepstakes form.

   I ditched the mailing over my college years, along with what had to be my college search favorite. An organization at Northeastern actually sent me a targeted recruitment letter. Describer their facilities, how involved I could be, the whole nine yards. I would have been flattered and possibly sold if it hadn't have been for the school band.

   Apparently my longtime friendship with Geoff, who would go on to conduct their Pep Band, was all the training I needed. Unless they have a large "incompetent drum play and air guitar" ensemble.

   Not quite as entertaining as watching Peyton Manning try to trash talk in an XBox Live commerical [hi-res here, lo-res here] though. It is go time, yo.

Working Overtime For A Solution
-- Perhaps the worst part about self-editing is having to cut all the jokes out to make word count. The highlights may make an appearance Tuesday night.

December 1, 2002 - Good Night, My Giants
   Today's Disturbing Numerical Sports Fact: The Boston Bruins, widely believed to be in for a difficult season, have played 23 games so far this season. They have been defeated exactly four times.

   June's Disturbing Numerical Sports Fact: The Boston Red Sox were once 57 games into their season, and had only lost 17 times.

   • One of the reporters at work is a fan of Queens of the Stone Age, and frequently tells people who ask him about them that they are "saving rock and roll." He's not the only one who thinks so -- I've heard the same comment several times on air.

   I've also heard QOTSA who, as the remnants of a stoner metal band, probably aren't best equipped to be the emergency flare of a musical genre. While they don't suck by any means, I listen to 'No One Knows' and get the troubling feeling of, "What exactly am I missing here?"

   The "death" of rock and roll has been a valid topic of discussion lately, though I prefer to base my debate on something older and more established. Something like Lenny Kravitz's veiled fugue on the topic ... Rock and Roll Is Dead.

"Ooohoooh yeah
You think you're on top of the world
But you know it's really over
Runnin' round with diamond rings
And coke spoons that are overflowin'
Rock and roll is dead
But all the money in the world
Can't buy you from the place you're going to
Ooohoooh yeah

You can't even sing or play an instrument
So you just scream instead
Oh yeah
You're living for an image
So you got five hundred women in your bed
Oh yeah
Rock and roll is dead
But it's real hard to be yourself
When you're living with those demons in your head
Ooohoooh yeah"
-- This song almost pushed me to buy his album once. Thankfully it passed.

   I've left the choruses out of Kravitz's work -- the confusing refrain of "Rock and roll is dead .... rock and roll is dead" -- to analyze just what he's saying here. He charges drugs and money have corrupted the genre, making people millions and killing the anger and motivation that got them playing music in the first place. Later he questions talent, and how it can now be covered by screaming and "living for an image." All valid claims, especially if one considers Tommy Lee to have been in success in his post-Motley Crue efforts.

   Given the biggest highlight of his solo career involves two costars and being in VH1 documentary about why his records aren't selling on the coasts, that's open for another day's debate.

   My problem with all of this is very general. At least in my experience, the greatest reason people find to discuss music is to determine that the music somebody else likes sucks. It's rarely the kind of thing people use to bring them into a common bond with someone, and if it is, it's more a sense of "Well, at least we don't listen to the crap that SO-AND-SO like."

   My biggest beef is with the kids who hate 90% of the stuff that's even been commercially successful. It's possible I saw many of them here, but you know who I'm talking about. All their favorite bands are ones you've never heard of. They go to shows a lot, often to see bands you've never heard of. They frequently complain that everything on the radio sucks, that MTV sucks ... hell, you may even be one of them!

   My beef with such people is two-fold:

   1. I don't care enough to find good music. I liked most of the bands I heard at the Warped Tour. Bands I'll likely never see or hear from again, especially if radio and TV remain my central guide. I'd hardly say they're the best acts I've ever been graced to stumble across, but they're well better than some of the crap I've spent money on. And yet, I have no intention of spending vast periods trying to seek them out, because they really aren't that much better to warrant such treatment. If you do, hey, you're a better listener than I ... I'm not debating that.

   I can never stress enough that The Cranberries' 'To The Faithful Departed' is the worst album ever released by a major label in my music maturation. Unlike many albums that just have one good song and others, TTFD had one good song and a dozen f'ing bad songs. A bigger ripoff has not been had since temporary tattoos became legit prizes in Cracker Jack boxes.

   Anyway, most of the acts at that show were very good. Most of the acts at that show, I'd assume anyway, would also love to become commercially successful, given each of them had a tent selling wares. What a bunch of sellouts, trying to feed themselves ...

   My other problem is tangential to this.

   2. I like too close to everything. It's hard to have a critical ear when one's base reaction to most music is "Yeah, that's pretty good." It would be one thing if I was lying to be nice, but I just find it hard to differentiate between what's bad ans what's good.

   On my ride home today, I listened to easily nine different radio stations that were playing songs I like. Granted, most of them were here and here, but it really doesn't take much to sell me on a song. I used to just discount country music and rap, but I'll ever breach those now.

   Another thing: music critics are just utter bullshit. Not individual ones ... all of them, flat out. Music is such a subjective thing, there's no way any person can simply put their ear to something and prescribe what it means to all people everywhere. My father likes to bitch about weather forecasters as being useless failures ... now I have my crutch.

   Any human who listened to Heathen Chemistry and wrote words for a major publication comparing it to the band who made What's The Story (Morning Glory) and Be Here Now has singlehandedly discredited their whole profession. Period.

   If there's anything to be drawn from music today, where everybody's collaborating with everybody else, it's that a genre like "rock and roll" is much more than it was when Elvis was defining it ... even when Motley Crue was defining it. Given the spawning of genuine rock in the '50s and '60s was accompanied by far worse dreck than anyone's being subjected to now, I'd hardly say we're all in need of a chord-laden life preserver.

   Or to put it another way, if saving rock and roll involves the Plain Jane that Queens of the Stone Age are selling, allow me to get my hunting rifle, Old Yeller.

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