December 31, 2004 - Let The Clip Show End
   • You know I could have done this over the 31st and the 1st ... kind of a end of the old, start of the new. Given the state I ended 2003 in, however ... it wouldn't have mattered this year, but it's always good to be careful.

   Ah, the drunkening. It's nice to skip it every once in a while. Onward!

"Working media. [Insert scoff here.] There's no such thing."
-- Being browbeaten at the U.S. Women's Open (7/2)

What I love the most though? That AP story linked to above refers to the course as Orchard Golf Club. The man who wrote that has likely been at the facility for at least four days, quite possibly as many as seven depending on if he was filing during the practice rounds. No wonder that old guy was so bitter about the "Working Media" badge on Friday afternoon.
-- Rewarding the man who browbeat me. (7/4)

He is essentially trying to save himself the flood of hate mail he's going to get for ... not panning it, but not exactly fawning over it. If nothing else, he's a man who should know his audience a little better than that. All I'm saying is when you write as though you're above cock jokes, yet you've just spend months working for 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' and you've made much of your fame via obsessive knowledge of far worse movies, it might be time to get a little Windex for that bathroom mirror.
-- Bill Simmons and I have our first falling out. (7/6)

About the only thing they don't have a sponsor for is their wacky, light hearted sidebar piece from every episode -- massages during play, Chris Ferguson throwing cards 78 mph and cutting produce -- entitled "The Nuts." Shouldn't Levitra have gotten to sponsor that by default?
-- The World Series of Poker, analyzed. (7/9)

There are few things in this world that seem designed to provide endless unintentional comedy. The International Federation of Competitive Eating adding eater profiles to their Web site has to be pretty high on that list.
-- Your home for eating talk. (7/12)

Then there's Ken Jennings, who I finally watched tonight as he cleared the million dollar mark on Jeopardy! and gave the kind of performance that suggests he'll eventually lose only if he miscalculates his Final Jeopardy bet and/or becomes so bored he falls asleep at the podium.
-- Well, I was only sort of wrong. (7/13)

Maybe it's just people like me who find this odd, but the New Bedford zoo had livestock, with cows prominently featured. There are city children who go through their growing up years not seeing cows. I had seven on my lawn when I was eight.
-- Giving Andrea some WMass without actually being there. (7/16)

Rain delay. Error, Error, Error. Balk. 1-2-3 double play. 1-2-3 putout. A four-hit game. A fielder's choice. A solid performance from Ramiro Mendoza. Home runs. Hit by pitches. An inning that took an hour and had 22 at-bats. All it needed was a triple.
-- Because it had a massive brawl. (7/24)

Don't encourage people to vote for John Kerry based on the words of Michael Moore, who even if he's 100 percent in the right has the aura of being a disheveled propagandist. Encourage people to vote for John Kerry based on the words of Bill Clinton, who is among the most captivating political speakers of this or any generation. As I phrased it last night while I searched for a better metaphor that never came, "I'm pretty sure he could sell me a box of tampons."
-- See? I tried to help! (7/26)

I care about more or less none of these things. I did not make any attempt to keep up with the news while I was on vacation, because I hate the news. I think I also may have decided I hate the Red Sox while I was gone ... not so much for anything they did, but because I spent the better part of 10 outstanding days not even really sure if they'd played the night before.
-- Just how a baseball writer should spend the trading deadline. (7/29-8/6)

As lovely a state as it is, and as much Taco Bell ass as Del Taco kicks, I was left with the feeling that I'm not sure I could handle California 24/7. I'm a walk to work kind of guy, and I think spending that much time in my car might cause me to end up on "World's Greatest Police Chases."
-- Sadly, I guess I'm stickign with Tucson (8/7)

Wilmer: Just to clarify in case the police are tailing me via this Web site, he is not the person I wish were dead. On the contrary actually ... if you can list Mandy Moore, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Lacey Chabert and the oft-mentioned certain Hollywood starlet among your girlfriends of the past, the entire male nation owes you a beer every day of your life. That's legitimately astounding, especially considering your claim to fame is playing Fez.
-- Mr. Valderrama, we all bow to your power. (8/9)

Part of me kind of wishes I'd gotten in a car accident -- not only could I have shared that Friday the 13th joy with Julie, it would have been great to see what got said next. I'm constantly amazed at what people who supposedly care about each other can say to one another, or even to watch others say to one another.
-- If only I knew how much better it'd get. (8/13)

Phish Fans
-- Peter Rogen (left), who made the trip down from New Hampshire, said, "If they broke up they wanted to, so I'm glad they broke up." Seth Acton, of Kingston, R.I., says that he is running for president of the US under the Funkatarian Party. His platform will be "Down with terror, up with jobs, and Orange Julius for everyone."
-- Love those Phish fans. (8/14)


As a nation, we like batter. As a nation, we like pickles.
As a nation, we should not like fried pickles.
-- A stance I gladly make. (8/17)

Oasis, who rocked increasingly long ago, is coming out with a DVD to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Definitely Maybe, one of the best albums of my generation. Maybe Oasis's realization, through the DVD, that they peaked as a band in 1997 will drive their sixth album to not blow. I'm not exactly optimistic, but then again, when is that any different from the norm?
-- A boy can hope, can't he? (8/19)

The show did get taped, so eventually it will find its way up here. I'm predicting comments will prominently include a) the fact I was wearing the same shirt and tie as last September, and b) the fact that Lou got my name right, but then said I worked at the Patriot Ledger. Hey, TV happens.
-- It feels like so long ago now. (8/24)

Is it my imagination or is gravy vanishing from the American diet? I don't mean reductions or glazes or sauces, either. I mean gravy. Brown or white.
-- The Fall River Herald weighs in with a cover story. (8/25)

To be honest, I am about as unexcited to be going on vacation as a person possibly can be. I have said before if there were some way I could recover my money and not go on this cruise, I would exercise it immediately. I feel like crap, physcially and mentally. I have piles of loose ends here in Whale City that certainly won't ravel themselves while I'm gone. I just went on vacation, and thus am both already all set relaxation wise and broke to go anywhere cheap ... never mind the fucking Carribbean on a cruise ship.
-- So right, I got away with not spelling. (8/28)


After all, when I have all these days of news to now catch up with, I may as well catch up with the unbridled frustration and seething hate you miss when you're floating aimlessly in the Gulf of Mexico out of contact with everyone.
-- Summing up the trip. (8/29-9/8)

Jon, Paul, Jack and Lou
-- More talking with Tilley. (9/9)

I'm maintaining hopes of a six-win season, though that may need to be updated. If nothing else, maybe some tickets to a game wouldn't be out of the question for the end of the year.
-- And they've still got a chance ... like they have for months. (9/12)

A whole lot of people seem to be getting offended about the Freedom Tower Silver Dollar, a coin issued by the Northern Marianas Islands made from silver recovered at Ground Zero. That's fine ... some people feel it's profiteering from tragedy, which is generally a Bad Thing. I just choose to get offended by far more obvious things. [There are] FIVE Kidz Bop albums. Five!
-- Tackling the important issues. (9/15)

Given the fact that I have not bought, rented or played (for any signficant period) a PlayStation 2 game in several months, my decision to purchase a game more or less out of the blue should come as a surprise ... if the things I do in my free time are worthy of an emotional outburst on your part. Yet the real surprise is that it neither involves football or the words "Grand Theft Auto". What did it take to break this predictable string? Burnout 3: Takedown -- a game that rewards causing gruesome auto accidents.
-- I never did finish it, thanks to the vacation writeup shame. (9/16)

"It was an accident. Montecore understood the signals and wanted to save me," the illusionist-animal trainer said, adding: "It was unfortunate that his teeth hit my carotid artery."
-- Yes, Roy, I would call that "unfortunate." (9/19)

I continued to not know who Heather Casey was until earlier tonight. Then I learned she is "America's Hottest Teacher," according to FHM.
And she hails from Whale City, USA.
-- And now I know parts of her family. (9/22)

By a stroke of luck, a cruel twist of fate, or what have you I watched Ready To Rumble on television. You know, the WCW-based wrestling movie that led to David Arquette winning the actual WCW Heavyweight Title. So I go to IMDb to check on a casting question, and this is what I see on the bottom of the page -- If you like this title, we also recommend ... Godfather, The (1972). Or, read another way, "If you like just the concept of a motion picture, you will also enjoy one of the greatest films ever made."
-- You know, it really wasn't so bad. (9/24)

The leader of the "Gang of Three" is gone from Boston's Beacon Hill. This likely means little -- the new House Speaker has voted with Finneran more than 99 percent of the time. I only mention it because the new House Speaker is named Salvatore DiMasi. There are editorial cartoonists all over this state doodling sketches of mob hits as we speak, and quite frankly, I'm excited by the possibilities.
-- Not that I've seen any as of yet. (9/27)

For whatever reason, I am actually sort of excited at the possibility of going to Minnesota for playoff baseball. I've so long heard how loud it gets in the Metrodome ... plus I could take about 35 photos of the Hefty Bag and be totally proud of myself. And of course, the first thing I'd do is check out the clubhouses to see if they were accurately depicted in Little Big League,
but that goes without saying.
-- I'm a writer, but I'm also weird. (9/28)

"It [ticks] me off," said Ponson, who pitched six innings, giving up seven hits and four earned runs and getting a no-decision. "Boston comes down here and kicks our [butts] and the whole stadium is cheering. It's sad, but it's one of those things you have to deal with. It's amazing how Boston fans can get 30,000 tickets."
-- From the weekend in Baltimore. (10/1-3)

All I know is this site's SoCal correspondent best get herself
to Orange County so I can have some game reports.
-- Yeah, little did I know that when I wrote this, she was already living in Somerville. (10/4)

And by the way, Pedro, we'll take 7 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 K every time out this October. Just call the MLB offices and set that up, if you would.
-- Talk about seeming like a long time ago. (10/6)

Red Sox 8, Angels 6
-- Just the beginning. (10/8)

So if you're scoring at home, and I know you are, Southern California's two entrants into the postseason went 1-6 and got outscored 51-20 as their fans bopped ThunderStix as a means of support. Perhaps I'll be reevaluating the five-year plan that included the Los Angeles Daily News.
-- It's still warm there today, though. (10/10)

Juicy Couture
-- I don't know if this ever actually was my computer wallpaper. (10/11-14)

http://people.bu.edu/jonahg/insights/2003-7-1bc.html
-- The Link of the Year: Learn how BU-BC is like the Holocaust. (10/15)

With my back to the plate, and thus no chance to see where the ball was coming in, I ducked slightly and sort of half turned to ensure if it hit me, it would smash me in the face and mean I could get some plastic surgery with a clear conscience. The ball, which I suspect was off the bat of Jason Varitek, hit about six rows above where I was standing, bounced off a seat, and rolled slowly down the steps right to where I was standing. I was the only one within about 30 feet of it, but given the bounce, I'd have gotten it even if it was crowded.
-- How I got "the ball." (10/17)

Ball and Cork
-- All you need to know about the Yankee series. (10/19-21)

Trophy JC
-- ... and the Cardinals series. (10/25-29)

Subject: It's Over
Date: Thu, 28 Oct 2004
From: _____@comcast.net
To: jcouture at s-t dot com

   Jon:

   This morning I attempted to purchase my usual stack of newspapers to view the endless opinions, analysis and game reports that will provide my soul with the ultimate sports cleansing. However, the papers were gone. Sold out. But sitting there, lonesome as could be, were a few copies of the Standard-Times, a paper I rarely purchase. Like the Enterprise and Ledger, I consider it's sports section far inferior to the "name" papers.

   I sat down and did my online review -- The Herald, Globe, Post-Dispatch, etc. Spent a good hour looking at the usual suspects and what they wrote -- and this is from a guy who'll routinely go into the archives to look at a Jimmy Cannon column from the 50s. Nothing unusual.

   Finally I sat down for breakfast and to look at some real hard copy. Your column was on page one so I started there. Simplistic, but emotional, poignant, and beautifully constructed. So, maybe the term simplistic does not apply. Maybe it won't get any rewards. It'll probably get lost in the shuffle. But this life long Sox fan (60 years) congratulates you on expressing his feelings so beautifully. Every Nation needs a Poet Lariet.

   Continued success.

   Rick ____
   Middleboro, MA
-- Probably my favorite fan letter. (10/30)


Kinda Dopey
-- From the minute-by-minute election update. (11/2)

It almost sounds exciting, doesn't it? Souped-up vehicles and suspensions, trying to drive over giant boulders and such at insane angles. I mean, look at the photos! Cars rolling, flipping over, fans cheering! It would be greater, however, if the TV coverage didn't boil down to the following -- cut to car on rock, car tries to drive up rock, car either succeeds or fails comically, repeat.
-- Extreme rock jumping! And I'm serious! (11/4)

The Liquid Latex Club, one of Brandeis' most unique clubs, has a large membership spanning every class, major, and social scene on campus. Each spring the club puts on an incredible Body Art show. It's kind of like a fashion show without the clothes...the models are painted in LIQUID LATEX following the designs of many talented artists, and performing the choreography of our great choreographers.
-- Not the kind of thing to learn about along with College Bowl. (11/6)

Let me get one thing clear right off the top ... fantasy football doesn't do a whole lot for me. ... That said, I'm in three fantasy football leagues.
-- We're good at contradictions. (11/8)

Rather than again bore the masses with discussion of what I'm doing when I should be sleeping, I'm just going to point out TBS has a reality show involving rebuilding a mansion. I stumbled upon the premiere episode of this show, and tonight watched what had to be one of the final episodes, yet I just keep coming back to the same dealbreaking point. Mansion or not, who the hell wants to live in Cincinnati?
-- TBS's "The Mansion," which still airs. (11/11)

If you were offended by Monday Night Football's opening this week, in which a somewhat unattractive woman bared her naked back to the TV camera in a pretaped vignette to promo a TV drama, get the fuck out of my country. Immediately.
-- THAT'S how to take offense. (11/17)

I would, however, like to thank the kid about ten rows behind me in the theater. Were it not for his insight, I might have missed that none of the characters on screen had penises. Maybe he felt he needed to get his money's worth.
-- SpongeBob EuNuch, apparently. (11/20)

JFK Reloaded: In the pantheon of gaming, this might be the Worst Game Ever. However, I can't help but be intrigued.
-- Well, more than intrigued, apparently. (11/22)

Oh, The Cutting Room Floor
-- The biggest news you may know nothing about. (11/23)

Toddlers
-- And then my cousins beat me up. (11/28)

End of an era, and all that stuff. I'd say more, but I'm still shocked at just how much the tribute at the end of the broadcast looked like what you do for someone famous who died. Right down to the still of their head with the name off to the left. He's not dead, people. He's just going to Montana. Where he will continue to have better hair than Matt "Remember When I Was a TV Heartthrob Before I Went Bald?" Lauer.
-- Tom Brokaw says goodbye. (12/1)

Boston University 7, UMass Amherst 1: I've been told I am not allowed to comment further on this outcome, even the part where BU scored two goals in the time it took me to drive a mile.
-- Editing myself ... I am growing up. (12/4)

This year will be the third of three that I miss the paper's annual Christmas/holiday party since I'm working when it's being held. I'll even miss the party being held by a fellow member of the night crew just so we all have a party to go to. I did, however, get to go feel like a spy at the holiday party of Springfield's NBC affiliate. Let me tell you. Some people like alcohol.
-- Yeah, because I don't. (12/5)

Awesome. Perhaps for the second printing, he should attach an actual sock covered in spaghetti sauce hanging from the front. It would go much better with my new PartyPoker.com jacket that I apparently want. Then after that, he can start selling T-shirts with one of the 1,321 cigarettes he smokes every game rubbed out on them ... or he could just autograph the cigarettes and sell them with his scorecards, which have such poor penmanship on them, they can barely be read to begin with. OK, I'm ranting and making stuff up now.
-- Jerry Remy and I have a falling out. (12/8)

I'd like to think that some of those 9,037 -- the biggest crowd since 2001 -- were from Westfield. Sunderland. Palmer. Amherst. I'd like to think they weren't just celebrating a big win for 2004, but a big win for all the guys who didn't get their chance to. Edgar Padilla. Jim McCoy. Harper Williams. Will Herndon. Derek Kellogg. Mike Williams. Lou Roe. Even Camby, the big idiot. ... After the Red Sox, I'd pretty much resigned myself to a life where sports just couldn't get more exciting than they'd already been. All my most favorite teams all have titles in my lifetime, titles that I can remember. It's just good to know that there's still something out there that can get me leaping for joy off my couch.
-- UMass 61, UConn 59 (12/9)

Know what else is nice? Spelling correctly.
-- Wait ... I ask for things and they happen?! (12/13)

I, however, have a different take on it. Today on the radio, I heard a man who is paid to offer insightful commentary about the team offer this to a caller who chastised said pundit for saying little more than the Patriots always win -- "You're right, we keep saying it. But you know what? They always do." Wrong, you cocky fuckers. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
-- It's nice all this winning allows me to bitch about cocky locals. (12/20)

It is no secret to those who inhaibit Western Massachusetts that there's nothing to do here. If you've left, odds are pretty good that's part of the reason why you did. Though that is part of the reason things like the "Agawam Pub Crawl 2004" are created -- because really, when drinking is such a mandatory pastime, it should at least be done in order, with orange T-shirts and a 15-passenger van.
-- Fun in the hometown. (12/23)

Maury Christmas
-- The best picture of the year ... (12/27)

I was told starting this season,
I would be the sole Red Sox writer for The Standard-Times.
-- ... followed by perhaps the best news of it. (12/29)

   And 2005.


December 30, 2004 - Let The Clip Show Begin
   • It needs no introduction, since this is now the third time I've done it. No actual new content, but for the snappy retort that go with a review of myself from the previous year.

   I'm not going to lie to you ... 2004 was pretty damn good to one Jonathan Couture, though I'm sure this will in no way depict that simply because I hate myself as a human being. So instead, let's go with "Everyone says a lot of stupid things in the course of a year, though most aren't stupid enough to write them all down, then recount them a second time."

   "Navel Gaze 2004," engage in a Voltron-esque way!

New Year's Day 2004
-- This is how I woke up to start the year, thanks to friends Madeira wine and stupidity. Luckily, things improved drastically after I threw up bread. (1/1-2)

Several years ago, I just stopped making NYRs when I realized I had never made one. However, with the alternative being talking about football and/or Britney Spears getting married, let's give it a shot -- Getting back in above-average shape / Cutting down on the swearing. / Less ordering out, more cooking at home. / Generally being more pro-active.
-- It's nice to see that not only did I maybe achieve 1.5 of four resolutions, but that I aim so low that nobody could possibly care. (1/3)

If Edmonton worked a little bit of orange trim into what I call "The Bionic Oildrop," I would buy this on a hat and you'd all keep asking me what it was like you do with the Nashua hat and the Angry Uncle Sam hat.
-- Speaking of the Edmonton Oilers third jersey, which I ranked no better than mediocre but just bought last week because it was on deep discount. (1/9)

At 8 a.m. on Wednesday morning, I will be playing in my first-ever multi-table poker tournament. It's online, and for $11, I have a shot at winning a first prize that will probably be somewhere in excess of $1,000. Of course, I have a much better shot of losing $11, but that goes without saying.
-- Oddly enough, the next day's update included the words "Therefore, my sucking will be recorded as the official culprit." (1/13)

Given Yao was making his only trip to Boston this season, it was "Asian American Night" at the Fleet. This means that during the first TV timeout, when the three pre-teen Asian breakdancers came out to ostensibly entertain the crowd, we not only couldn't boo them because they were like 12, we couldn't boo them because it would have been racist.
-- Discovering the Celtics' weaknesses from
the frozen comfort of the press table. (1/14)


It's not often that one consumes both tira misu and three Bud Lights in the same night, but I had a hell of a dream after it was over.
-- I'd have to imagine normal people don't say things like this. (1/16)

Because a day that somehow intertwines a high school basketball game, the Basketball Hall of Fame and a skating rink, it's probably just easiest to say the following: of those 1,600-something e-mails I'll be dreaming about later tonight, I gotta figure at least 1,575 of them are Valium spam.
-- For those interested, this is pretty much the beginning, middle
and end of the courtship for Julie and I. (1/17)


In a shocking turn of events, we've gotten another pet -- Sierra Windsome Boo. She's a two-year-old Siberian Husky who's already had puppies, and currently is afraid of nearly everything and everyone.
-- The dog, at press time, has allowed me to pet her
exactly twice in nearly a full year. (1/18)


Leatherface For President
-- Potshot number one. Oh John, the times we would have together. (1/19)

But speaking of kickers, be sure to get your entries in Boston.com's latest wAcKy CoNtEsT, "If Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri were thinking of a number between 1 and 1,000, what would it be, and why?"
-- The first time I read this, I thought I was making it up.
Then I realized ... this contest actually happened. Go Chargers. (1/24)


I'd never gone to a show and been told, by name, to "Fuck off" by the lead singer before. Course, I don't usually go to shows where the lead singer is my boss, but it is nice to have this one of life's little pleasures out of the way.
-- BOMBdotCOM has since broken up. I knew
I should have gone on stage and sang. (1/30)


Is there such a thing as retiring as a sports fan? Because I'm about a Red Sox championship away from having achieved everything I'll ever need to by ... 25.
-- I couldn't remember when I wrote this, but all I know
is I was waiting to find it. (2/1)


can i just tell you that u are the worst sports writer

if u think sapp or irvin could not play for the pats in thier prime you better rethink that thought and find a new job and secondly if you can romantisize about the pats winning the super bowl like you are having an orgasim you have major problems get laid
-- I love a good fan letter. (2/4)

Is it wrong to want all your girlfriends -- this is over time, not in a harem sense -- to meet up in one place? Not really for any particluar reason, but just to see what they'd end up talking about and doing?
-- I nearly got my wish, and considering how three out of five was, I don't think it's my wish anymore. (2/6)

Of course, the sign is posted in a place where one would only see it on the way out after voting, but that's the kind of "out of the box" thinking that's given the Kucinich campaign the huge edge it has had over the "Other Candidates" category throughout this campaign.
-- Oh, Dennis. Why did you have to be so crazy? (2/8)

There is a very simple way to ensure that you create a workout regimen for yourself and stick to it -- simply join a gym like this one which is far too expensive for you to afford. Not only will all the money you would have been spending on Ho-Hos and personal pan pizzas go to pay your membership, you'll realize that not going to workout is an even bigger waste of money than that time you thought you'd developed a fool-proof system to win at roulette.
-- Oops, and I don't mean about the roulette. (2/11)

The third was Julie, who I do on this day of love announce is officially the fifth girl in the history of the universe to officially hold the vaunted title of "The Speaking Purely Hypothetically And With No Actual Binding Reason For Being Called Future Mrs. Couture."
-- Sometimes, isn't it a wonder that anyone even speaks to me? (2/14)

At some point on Monday, Alex Rodriguez will get what he wanted all along ... getting a reward for being greedier than any athlete in history. His agent will be happy, Major League Baseball will be happy and the Yankees will -- at least for a couple weeks -- be happy. This isn't so much about being a dejected Red Sox fan. This is about being a Pirates fan. Or a Royals fan. A Tigers or, heaven forbid, a Devil Rays fan.
-- I sincerely hope I wasn't serious, because if I actually felt this way, I want to go back in time and punch myself in the face. (2/15)

While it does suck for Vermont, it's wrong to be this excited about an injury. Just know I'll think about that when I'm storming the court after the America East championship game.
-- Yeah, BU would go on to lose to mighty Stony Brook in the first round of the tournament ... at home. Bravo. (2/18)

At the very least -- and I say this as ironically as possible -- I was reassured to see there were people in the finals who would clearly do a better job than me as a SportsCenter anchor, and eventually become a competent SportsCenter anchor.
-- Unfortunately, none of them ended up winning "Dream Job." (2/22)

Below, all you may see if five nerds with red eyes.
All I see is a true group of trivia champions.
-- "The Underpants Gnomes" win in my first appearance.
I should have retired on a high. (2/24)


SpongeBob DeadHead
-- Please note I am not holding a cigaret ... oh, wait. (2/28)


The Boston University hockey team no longer warrants watching for 03/04. After surrendering three of four points to Northeastern over the weekend, they'll either play at BC (0-4 this season) or Maine (like going to the Moon without a spacesuit) in the first round of the Hockey East playoffs.
-- Yeah, BU beat BC in a series they were outshot in 465-50.
This is why people don't take stands. (3/1)


What do you think would happen if one was to combine the maple-infused griddle cakes of a McDonald's McGriddle with the cheddar and maple-infused sausage of Dunkin Donuts' new New England Maple Cheddar sandwich? Would the hybrid even be stable enough to eat, or would the electrons just start leaving their shells out of panic? Even if one could it, how would the body react? Coma? Sudden death? Blindness? Would tooth enamel just vaporize on contact?
-- And this is why they do. (3/6)

Though anyone who thinks eating bacon-wrapped hamburgers as a way to get thin clearly needs a more rudimentary plan. Like, "get out and move on occasion."
-- I sure did talk about exercise a lot when I was going to the gym. (3/9)

And let me just say on the side, WrestleMania XX was not worth the $50 people paid for it to order live on pay-per-view, and it probably wasn't worth the $25 people paid for it to order a video-on-demand feed after the fact. But at least it was closer to the second one. All I'm saying is 2-3 entertaining matches and finding out Jesse Ventura thinks we "should have a wrestler in the White House in 2008" is probably not the best substitute for sleeping.
-- Yes, I still watch wrestling. (3/15)

I'm Going To The NIT!
-- ... and got to watch BU lose at Rhode Island, 80-52, for $17 (3/16)

I believe it was Nick last night who noted, "You know, it seems like an awful lot of your sporting decision are based solely on hatred."
-- As I said then, " The kid's finally starting to get it." (3/19)

Southie St. Patties - 3.17.04
-- South Boston? On St. Patrick's Day? And you're still looking at THIS?! (3/21)

I often wonder why, with all the slings and arrows, people get into politics.
I guess the correct answer is, among other things, you get to kick
visiting monks in the groin.
-- In context, I swear it made sense. (3/22)

The latest McDonald's ad touting Chicken McNuggets change to white meat features a thin, dark-skinned man compelled to "make some changes" in his life. We see him throw out some clothes, shave his unibrow, switch to boxers and start to exercise, among other things. Yeah, because when you're making some wholesale lifestyle and diet changes, you're going to keep eating McDonald's Chicken McNuggets.
-- Word. (3/26)

In the quest for beauty both in Hollywood and beyond, they're making skin creams out of both human placenta and foreskins. Sure, I learned it from one of those VH1 special where they get paid by the number of celebrity names they can drop in the course of an hour, but I still learned it.
-- Sharing is caring. Thanks, VH1. (3/30)

We're just 11 more losses away from what I would consider the Red Sox dream opening ... 0-12. Why would I want such a thing? Because not only would the Red Sox stop being the chic national story -- it's to the point of insufferability -- the lowest common denominator of Red Sox fans would all kill themselves.
-- The rational reaction to Opening Day. (4/4)

Seven was the number of players in the amateur division that I won. None were under the age of 21. Twenty-two was the number of players in the full field, seven of which I beat and an eighth I was a stroke behind. And very, very good is what professional minigolfers are.
-- You didn't think it could be done. (4/5)

You really wouldn't have pictured me as the kind of guy who'd stay up until 3 a.m. watching a double feature of Conan The Destroyer and Star Trek (II): The Wrath of Khan, did you? Neither did I.
-- Thankfully, this will never happen again. (4/7)

As for the Sox game on Sunday, I'm more or less forced to put it in the five best Sox games I've ever attended -- extra-inning, game-winning, walk-off home runs don't happen every day.
-- Well, unless it's October. (4/12)

So, to review as best I can without going into work and getting on the scanner. The stories? Poor. The photos? Ironic. The flaccid penises? Many. The breasts with pale, white triangles on them? Several.
-- The Harvard Lampoon tricks us with a fake H-Bomb (4/14)

UTC's studying abroad program can take a student almost anywhere. There are several programs available through the university's cooperative education office including England, France, Germany, South Korea, Japan, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Australia. "We have had students on four of the five continents," Hugh Prevost, director of cooperative education, said. "I am still waiting for someone to do Antarctica, but have not found the brave soul to go there yet."
-- From the student paper, the highlight of TRASHionals in Tenn. (4/16-18)

And the fact that it's the dirty, dirty Canadiens makes it that much worse. I'm pretty sure if I saw Sheldon Souray in the street, I'd hit him in my car once someone obsessed with hockey pointed out who he was.
-- And the Bruins haven't played another game since. (4/19)

I'll readily admit that sometimes, I do take it a little too far ... but I've never given party hats to conjoined twins connected at the head.
-- In the pantheon of priceless photos ... (4/21)

While I can't say for sure what Reid and Shockey did after the Knicks-Nets game, I can say with some certainty they did not go to an abortion rights rally holding a pair of clothes hangers.
-- Why Whoopi Goldberg should never be let out of the center square. (4/25)

Mean Girls
-- HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHot.
-- Everything has to start somewhere. (4/28)

When someone writes something like what Rene Gonzalez did, it's beyond the idea that someone at the paper asked him to be the dissenting voice. The opinion is too strong. He actually believes what he wrote. ... That might be the saddest story of all.
-- Reaction to the UMass columnist who ripped apart Pat Tillman. (4/29)

I found myself asking a lot of questions today, most notably "What company thinks paying to put an ad on a Kentucky Derby jockey's pants is a good business decision?" And yet, when the day concluded, the only one left to ask may have been the most troubling of all. Why did I enjoy Mean Girls so much?
-- Just let it wash over you ... it had to come up. (4/30)


The portion of the Kentucky Derby day races shown on ESPN is sponsored by gas company Citgo, who proclaims they're "fueling the sport America loves!" They're not. The more I watch, I'm pretty sure the only thing fueling America's love for sports is sweet, sweet alcohol.
-- Even better when viewed in light of the Pistons-Pacers brawl. (5/1)

Maybe this wouldn't be so odd if I really was consciously finding these things, but I'm not. The effect of the American marketing machine has sucked me in ... bad.
-- I mentioned Lindsay Lohan in seven consecutive updates, and eight on nine from April 28 to May 6. New CW record. (5/5)

Now that we've said goodbye to our Friends for the final time, there's only one thing left to do: Call Vegas.

Odds for an appearance by a 'Friends' cast
member on spinoff 'Joey' in next two seasons:


Matthew Perry (Chandler) -- 3/2
Lisa Kudrow (Pheobe) -- 2/1
David Schwimmer (Ross) -- 3/1
Jennifer Aniston (Rachel) -- 7/2
Courtney Cox Arquette (Monica) -- 5/1
-- Cooch plays oddsmaker. (5/6)

The sister of one of my ex-girlfriends -- for those who know them, this being the one who sent a guy to beat me up after we split -- is a paralegal in Taunton and lives with her husband in Whale City. I don't think I ever met her sister, and no one actually reads our newspaper here, but suffice to say I'm glad plenty of water has run under that bridge in the last 4-5 years.
-- Though as I later learned, apparently not enough water for her
to have dated anyone since 1999. (5/10)


The USGA had a lovely gift for me today, approving our credential request and thus making it official that I will both be covering the U.S. Women's Open and playing The Orchards Golf Club on the May 24th junket day. Please don't wash your cars in the New England area on the 23rd, because you just know that Monday it's going to pour.
-- And did it rain? If there was ever any doubt. (5/11)

Still We Believe: The Boston Red Sox Movie:
If you want to spend $10 that badly, just give it to me.
-- No further discussion needed. (5/12)

It was pretty much a normal day in the new Gay Bay State today. Woke up to the sulfur showers, dodged a couple lightning bolts on the way to the gym, and boy was I glad I parked in the garage at work
... it kept the frog guts off what was left of the car.
-- Maturity in type isn't always my strong suit. (5/17)

Low-carb Coca Cola is coming. Say what you will about the concept,
but that's one kickass-looking can.
-- That contains one headache-inducing liquid. (5/18)

In his family, "the more you yelled at somebody the more it meant you liked them."
-- I discover my future is as Lewis Black. (5/20)

And NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, staring a Calgary-Tampa finals, an extended shutdown and a fruitless TV contract in the face? If you need help steadying the gun, just bite down on the barrel and go from there.
-- The offer still stands. (5/22)

The reason that Cooch's World continues to exist is always evolving. It started as almost a dare with myself -- I wanted to see if I could do this consistently. It then became a sort of time capsule, to help me remember one of the most exciting times of my life and the people with whom I shared it. The problem arises when looking at those things and days now, given what has happened since, depresses me greatly. It's not so much a case of knowing it will all never be that good again, but just that it will never be that again. Today, I think this is here almost exclusively to entertain those of you that read it. It serves a lot of purposes for me -- not the least of which is to keep my writing and opinion sharp -- but I feel like it's something best served for others. After all, if I just wanted to write, I could have a note pad I keep in a desk drawer. I just can't help feeling that it could be so much more. I just can't help that I keep saying that about so many aspects of my life.
-- Whenever I get like this, it's generally best to go to Fark. (5/24)

With that in mind, I give you the Lewiston, Maine, resident
who made her prom dress out of Starburst wrappers.
-- Nina Sysko, if you're still out there, I still think you're a dweeb. (5/26)

As for actual results, Ed and I lost to Zach (19-year-old former NB High player) and another one of the 30 Jons on the sports staff 15-10 in a game where I had all 10 of our points -- we did lead 4-0, at least. They'd go on to "win the tournament," beating managing editor Dan and tall-but-can't-shoot photographer Andy 15-13 in a final that was 12-3 at one point. Ed and I salvaged a win in the "consolation game" -- 11-4 over sports editor Jon and Derek, both of whom outweight me by at least 100 pounds. I'd actually played in their first game when Jon bailed out at 2-1.
-- The S-T Basketball Tourney, of which we were
going to have another "soon." (5/28)


I got an e-mail from PayPal this week encouraging me to update my registration information. Apparently, failing to do so violates the USA Patriot Act. You learn something new every day.
-- And this was not a political statement. (5/30)

Tonight, our new summer intern asked just what exactly people do for fun around Whale City. There were three of us standing around, at least two of a common age where fun would translate well. The consensus answer? Leave.
-- It should be noted that everytime we then tried
to take that intern out, she turned us down. (6/2)


In VH1's continuing attempt to only show shows about lists of things came today's airing of the 40 Greatest Celebrity Feuds Ever. Coming in at No. 7 was the Notorious B.I.G. vs. Tupac Shakur. Seventh place. How are there six greater feuds than one where the two participants essentially murdered each other? More importantly, how is one of them Eminem vs. Moby?
-- I'm just saying ... (6/3)

The Reliant Park complex (Stadium, Astrodome, Arena, Center) is all, obviously, surrounded by fencing and guard booths. Since I "went out for a walk" around 11:30 p.m., this was all closed up and most of the guards were gone. After walking around about half of the complex, soaking my pants because Texas doesn't drain and all but finishing off my camera battery, I come back around to the main gate to find it mysteriously wide open. Full ready to claim I was just "going for a walk" to anyone who asked, I enter and cross the Stadium parking lot toward the Astrodome. At this point, we're still in the joking about "Breaking Into The Astrodome" phase.
-- You've never committed a crime in Texas, have you? (6/4-6)

1) Tucson, Arizona
2) Norfolk, Virginia
3) Phoenix, Arizona
4) Charlotte, North Carolina
5) Chesepeake-VA Beach, Virginia
6) Long Island, New York
-- Apparently, these are where I want to live. Yeah. (6/7)

Outside of the interviewing of Red Sox players, this is my biggest Fenway brush with fame yet. Sitting at the end of a table eating a meal pregame with what turned out to be a piece of the Dodgers' press corps at the other end of the table, I look up to hear "Hey, Vin!" and perhaps my favorite play-by-play man of all time striding over to the table in a blue suit probably one shade too bright.
-- Enjoy the chowder, Mr. Scully (6/11)

As for the past few hours, there's apparently a group of my S-T Sports contemporaries who think I'm dyeing my hair because it's far more orange than normal. Yeah, not blonde. Orange. I am Irish after all.
-- Does Sun In count as dye? (6/16)

In an alternate universe somewhere, Courtney Love and Scott Weiland have met and gotten married. They're living together in Los Angeles, New York City, wherever ... and they decide they want to have a baby. That child grown up and becomes a Republican senator.
-- Others think about this stuff, right? (6/17)

When It Doesn't Even Look Good On Paper:
John McEnroe is getting his own CNBC talk show.
-- Yeah, because I was the only person to call this. (6/19)

It also makes me feel good to know that those around the country with a keen ear for the news know, after the last month or two, of a little place called Agawam, Mass. First, we had the roller coaster that killed a guy. Now, the despondent apartment dweller who wanted to kill you.
-- Brownie Pride, kids. Brownie Pride. (6/24)

Let it now be known that I have fielded a grounder on the dirt at Fenway Park, something I wager you have not done. Admittedly, it wasn't so much a grounder as a throw in to the fungo guy during Phillies batting practice that he missed. And the dirt wasn't the infield so much as track near the Red Sox dugout. I still fielded it clean and made the throw however, disappointing the fans behind me who would have grabbed the ball and kept it had it gotten to the wall. I heart ruining fans' days.
-- Yes, because no one could possibly take this the wrong way. (6/27)

Vacation Nos. 5 and 6: It became official today, but since Photoshop is now many miles away, we'll save the official announcements for a moment that isn't now. Suffice to say, I'll be bankrupt by the end of August, but it'll be nice to not have to use a week of vacation on another "Spring Break in Feeding Hills." I've had enough of those to last me a lifetime.
-- Someday, you might even read about them. (6/30)

   The rest of the year comes tomorrow. Stay safe, kids.

   As though when you're on you're seventh drink, you will think of this Web site as the angel on your shoulder.


December 29, 2004 - Quite The Happy Ending
   Things My TiVo Taped For Me: I'd leave it be, but the amount of crap animation waiting for me this morning was truly inspiring -- Caillou, Maya & Miguel, Time Squad, Captain Planet, Witch Hunter Robin ...

   ... and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, which doesn't really fit and isn't crappy, but is an inspiring choice.

   Jerry Orbach: Normally, it would be sad that a great actor from a great show has died. However, we're dealing with a former resident of Springfield here.

   It's pretty sure his death leaves Staind as the greatest contribution of Western Mass. to the entertainment world. At least so far.


   • So, did anyone tell you that you had a fake ID tonight?

   Massachusetts residents, check the back of your license. If you got your current license around the same time I did -- May 2001 -- the Web address listed for the Registry of Motor Vehicles is probably http://www.massrmv.com -- an address that still works, but isn't the current correct one of http://www.mass.gov/rmv/.

   Well, there's apparently a rash of new fake IDs out there that have the massrmv.com address on them, so a message has been sent out to restaurants to be on the lookout for them. The things a person can learn after a given restaurant refuses to serve them a Sam Adams ...

   So the waitress tells me I have a fake ID, something which I obviously protest. She asks if I'd like to see a manager, I say "yes," manager comes over. Also tells me ID is a fake, I ask why he feels that way, and he explains the Web address thing -- not that I was out of control by even the most generous stretch, but at least their having a reason brought me off the apoplectic ledge.

   He leaves, I let it go and am generally perturbed not that I can't get a beer, but that I now have to go to the Registry and get a new license.

   However, once I'm about done with my delightful Diet Coke, the waitress, the manager and who I assume was the Dartmouth Smokey Bones king manager come over. "Yeah, we reread the message about the fakes because you were so adamant it wasn't a fake ... um, we're sorry."

   So a free dinner and some additional gift certificates later, I have a good story and I still don't have to go to the RMV until 2006. Much fun had by all.


   To me, maybe the best part of the whole story was the thought process I had after being told, twice, I had a fake ID -- looking at the thing as though it was going to reveal the secrets of the mummy, wondering if someone had switched my ID with a nearly identical one for the 90 seconds I'd lost it earlier in the day, searching for the phrase that reads "REALLY -- NOT A FAKE, MANAGER GUY" somewhere in the bar code.

   Yeah, I'd dropped my ID in Walgreens while buying chips and salsa for a rare Sports Department meeting. A meeting where I was told starting this season, I would be the sole Red Sox writer for The Standard-Times.

   This about an hour after I got a call from this man, who while wishing me a Happy New Year, also asked what one would figure he would ask a sportswriter he was calling.

   To your VCRs on Jan. 21 at 10 p.m.

   Not a bad last regular update of the year, if I do say so myself.


December 28, 2004 - Forget BCS Bashing ...
   Things My TiVo Taped For Me: In what could become a recurring feature if the field is hardy enough, a review of the "TiVo Recommendations" recorded by my super box on the suspicion I would enjoy them.

   Given I haven't spent much time expressing prefences, I shouldn't be surprised to see the first three picks so far off the mark. However, when they are some Food Network show I've never heard of, Ace Lightning and an episode of PBS's Arthur, I become very curious as to just how those shows connect to WWE RAW, South Park and The Simpsons.

   And In An Actual Recurring Feature ...: It's more Reader Mail.

Subject: Twelve Months Worth Recalling
Date: Tue, 28 Dec 2004
From: Nelson ____ <__@comcast.net>
To: jcouture at s-t dot com

   Thanks for including MLS and FREDDY ADU in your piece. It's nice to know there are a couple of sports writers at the S-TIMES who appreciate the sport and are willing to say so without being sarcastic. The other being NICK TAVARES. Overall your paper treats soccer like it's the plague. It would be nice to have a regular column on MLS during it's season, but i guess to some people it's more important to cover professional wrestling as does TIM WEISBERG.This is the opposite of what papers such as the BOSTON HERALD and GLOBE do. Thanks again.

   Nelson has actually written to us before about our soccer coverage, previously saying he'd cancel his subscription if we didn't improve. I'm quite glad he hasn't, although if I'm becoming Elm Street's shining beacon of hope for the beautiful game, mercy will be needed for us all.

   However, this does go nicely with learning there's a member of my gym -- in so much as a place I rarely go can be "my gym" -- who thought my Christmas column was spectacular. Always a good thing.


   • A good many months back, blogs everywhere were laughing about the words of Willie Williams, the top high school football recruit in Florida whose courtship was being extensively covered by the Miami Herald.

   Understand, we laughed for the right reasons. Reasons that included quotes like this:

On Friday, he and Carol City teammate Akeem Robinson boarded a private jet and arrived in Gainesville at 5 p.m. Upon arrival, the two were greeted by the Florida coaching staff and whisked away to a dinner party at Alumni Hall. Williams ate swedish meatballs but passed on gator tails.

''I ate so many meatballs, the people there started looking like meatballs,'' Williams said. 'Some guy kept trying to get me to eat these alligator tails, but I wasn't having it. I told him, 'I'm not the Crocodile Hunter. I don't touch reptiles.''

   Well, the blogging stopped once Williams picked Miami ... then turned out to be a criminal with a record and no intention of stopping. His latest transgression? Ding!

Miami linebacker Willie Williams and defensive back Rashaun Jones escaped injury Sunday when Williams lost control of his vehicle while driving to join the Hurricanes for bowl preparations in Atlanta.

The crash happened about two hours south of Atlanta and Williams and Jones eventually reached the team hotel, athletic department spokesman Mark Pray said.

"They're fine, which is the important thing," Pray said. "They were somewhere in Georgia, there was ice on the roads and Willie started hydroplaning."

Williams, the once-heralded recruit whose enrollment at Miami was threatened by his lengthy arrest record and who will not play this season because of a knee injury, resumed practicing last week, Pray said.

Williams has been scrutinized since he signed with the Hurricanes and his history -- including theft and burglary arrests dating back to 1999 -- was revealed.

He pleaded no contest over the summer to two separate charges stemming from last year's official recruiting visit to Florida and was placed on probation. A university panel ultimately recommended that Miami admit Williams, provided he followed a strict set of rules to both remain a student and keep his scholarship.

   We can take solace in knowing he's alright ... and that his talent will ensure he will make more than us for many, many years to come.

The following morning, the recruits toured campus and met with the Florida coaching staff. Later that night, Williams said he was surprised to learn he was eating at the stadium again for dinner.

''The first night I was OK with eating at the stadium,'' Williams said. 'But when they told me were going to eat there again, I was a little disappointed. I was like, `Take us to Red Lobster or something.' Instead, it was the same old fried chicken.

"That's when I pretty much made up my mind. I can't live in a place that don't have any restaurants. What am I going to do -- fly home to eat shrimp?''

   It's OK, Willie. Nothing can hurt you now.


December 27, 2004 - Bless This Semi-Pro Football
   Holiday Cheer: With the impending death of a lot of bad daytime television from my schedule, it's good to know images like this one will still resonate into the future.

Maury Christmas
-- Thank you, Fark.

   Listener Supported: There are rare rushes when people send me things to include on this site. You know, that being the kind of thing I would say to sound popular, but not actually mean because I have four readers and most of them think I suck.

   Touche, my bitches. Touche.

Where Charlie bulk buys.
-- Charlie submits something from his holiday shopping experience.

Michael Moore ... and a whale
-- Craig not only mocks a man in a Michigan State hat,
he finds a creature actually bigger than Michael Moore.

   And Jen P. submits a trio of Flash videos under the guise of "Because I know you'll appreciate it ..."

   I like to call them "Nazi Fuel," "Beyond Reproach" and "Why The British Are Awesome." You wouldn't think pubic lice could find its way into a holiday classic.

   You, however, would be wrong.

Twelve Months Worth Recalling
-- At the end of 2002, I submitted an awful recap column written in the hours before I went to Disneyland. In 2004, I think I more than made up the difference.

   If nothing else, it's as close to a "thoughts" column as I'm coming for a while.


   • And without a hint of irony, today's story instilling that some people take sports absolutely way too f'ing seriously.

While growing up, Kirk Herbstreit daydreamed in his backyard about playing quarterback for Ohio State. He realized his goal in 1992, becoming a captain and earning team Most Valuable Player honors. He laid down roots in Columbus, married an OSU cheerleader and started a family.

Herbstreit is a Buckeye to the core. Except when millions of Americans watch him on ESPN. That's when he trades the Ohio State Block `O' for journalism's Big O: objectivity.

It's a transition some rabid fans apparently don't understand. Since ESPN The Magazine published Maurice Clarett's allegations of widespread improprieties at OSU last month, Herbstreit has found himself caught in the middle of controversy, a highly visible target for some Buckeyes zealots who see him as a traitor.

Herbstreit said Monday he has received death threats directed at him and his family.

-- "ESPN Commentator and Ex-Ohio St. QB Herbstreit Caught In The Middle"

   Proud of you, America. Though the part I'm proudest of is too busy to read this ... they're already knee-deep in high school scouting reports so they can call the local talk-radio station and be smarter than me.


December 26, 2004 - The Season Of Giving ... Italics
   FedEx Update: Because these sorts of things matter to people who are not me, my "2-Day Service" FedEx shipped on Dec. 22 -- and listed as "Guaranteed Christmas Delivery" by these fine folks -- left Memphis, Tenn., at 5:17 p.m. on Dec. 24. From what I can tell, it completed it's "2-Day" journey at a facility in East Granby, Conn.

   That's 10 miles from where it's supposed to be, but given the circumstances, I'm willing not to go on a killing spree.

   However, I'm also able to do all future shipping with UPS, who in our limited relationship has never left me telling my mother that her Christmas presents will arrive on the doorstep some upcoming weekday.

   The end.

   Shopping Redux: Now that the holiday has come and gone, I can recount my three favorite holiday shopping tales from the season:

(Bronze) At the Newbury Comics in Providence, I made my final Christmas purchases -- Josh Groban's newest CD and the soundtrack to The Polar Express, which has a song by the aforementioned Josh Groban.

While I can't know for sure, given the edginess featured prominently at any Newbury Comics, I'm pretty sure I'm the only person who walked up to the counter that day and bought two albums featuring a singer who, while extremely talented, we frequently mock at work for writing songs specifically for sentimental clip montages.


(Silver) During that same Newbury Comics trip, I came across the poster for a certain Hollywood starlet's debut album -- an album which, in the holiday shock to end all holiday shocks, no one gave me for Christmas. Clearly, you're all paying attention.

Anyway, the main part of the poster was the art on the album's back cover -- the artist strewn sexily across a white bean bag, clutching a guitar to her chest.

Now, the joke was going to be that no one in the world, not even the webmaster of this supersite, believes the starlet in question knows how to play the guitar. However, that changed upon viewing of the store's Top 25 CDs, of which the album in question is No. 11. No. 11, directly ahead of some flash-in-the-pan at No. 12.

Ray Charles.

Bless you, America.


(Gold) The centerpiece gift I gave that multiple people got was a matted, laminated, mounted copy of The Standard-Times front page from Oct. 28 -- Red Sox win day, with yours truly right on the cover. I had several made via a small framing shop in downtown Whale City who had made some already for the publisher, our offices, etc.

   Upon entering the shop and chatting with the owner, I quickly learned they did not make these covers on site -- they sent the papers to a place in Somerset (outside of Fall River, a.k.a. Whale Jr.), who then sent them to Smithfield, R.I., which I drive through going to FH all the time, but is generally considered to be the other side of the world from New Bedford. This meant getting these covers done in a week was going to be a little hectic, and would require someone getting the papers to Somerset quite quickly.

All things being equal, I volunteered after chatting with the three-person operation while they prepared my work for traveling.

Upon arriving at the art shop in Somerset, the person I was to drop the covers off with was busy, so they had me hang around for a moment. At which point, both the woman from the company in Smithfield walked in, and the man I was there to see, with packages that needed to go back to the shop in Whale City.

So to make a boring story less boring, I got my covers in time, and had the shopkeeper in Whale City been willing to wait an extra half-hour that evening, I'd hvae probably needed a W-2 form from him when I file my taxes.

   An honorable mention goes to perhaps the story of the Cooch holiday season -- Boston U. actually coming through for a humble alumnus, and helping me secure tickets to the centerpiece of the hockey season -- the final game at Walter Brown Arena on Jan. 2 and the first at Agganis Arena on Jan. 3. I was so pleased, I even threw in extra for the reception before Sunday's game where I'll almost certainly feel both uncomfortable and underdressed.

   The hockey updates shall ride again. The only question now is whether the Dr. Seuss hat will join them.

Coochs and The Hat
-- Yes, that's a red heart sticker on my face. And yes, I was 22 at the time. If you've seen either my ex-roomie Justin Lillis, right, or my dignity, please contact me as soon as possible.

   • For Christmas Day's newspaper, the final page of which I believe was sent to press at about 2:30 p.m., each of us in the sports department wrote a little missive on what we list as our greatest sports memory. Understandably, the takes were varied -- everything from personal achievements to successes of people's children to memories with relatives to our sailing writer, who decided to write one of the oddest things I've ever read.

In high school, the Girls A team and the Girls B football team decided to play tackle instead of touch at the old Brother Gilbert Stadium in Malden. Ouch. First play out of scrimmage, the left halfback (that would be me) ran into a wall of extra-large ladies from the A Team and wrenched a knee.

And a recent one ... at a corporate outing, they let me play catcher for a few innings. Then, when things got going and there was some real competition, the coach (whose game was cricket) pulled me out for a guy about nine-foot-six who knew how to play the position. They stuck me in right field. I got another beer. End of story.

   Anyway, here's mine. Obviously I'm proud of it, but given the size of it, it means I can get to the one thing today has been waiting for now that I did my good deed and shoveled the sidewalk.

   I can begin setting up the TiVo, the juicer and ... um, I guess the flatware *.

Sox' Celebration Will Live Forever

Looking at the words of my colleagues today, we're clearly not pulling from an equally vast pool of experiences. To my knowledge, I have no kids. I'm not proud enough to publicly admit I watch professional wrestling. And my own sporting highlights? Pretty much begins and ends with a pre-teen me sending an Agawam Athletic Association basketball game to overtime with a near buzzer-beating three pointer.

Super memory.

Be even cooler if we'd won.

Thus, SouthCoast, I've gotta do it. I'm sorry, but my well is dry.
Cliche City, here we come.

My favorite sporting memory is the Red Sox winning the World Series.

Don't think I'm not ashamed of myself. I know it's the easy answer. The spark that started the most frenetic nationwide cash grab since the California Gold Rush.

And yet, the thought of the thousands of Red Sox related gifts that will be opened this morning -- not like I gave any or anything ... -- puts a bit of a smile on my face. And no, it's not because my back and a part of my arm are featured in the extras of the MLB World Series DVD.

It's because there's no commemorative in the world that can further enrich this October for me. No product need apply to help me remember.

The story will be vivid as ever until the day I die.

It still boggles my mind. The clincher against the Angels, any of the Yankee games, even the anti-climactic World Series ... to have simply one of those nights happen to a team would be a worth stories for years to come. To have them all happen in a span of weeks?

And to be there reporting on it when writing sports
has been a dream since childhood?

Least the baseball gods made the long wait worthwhile.

After the final out in St. Louis, Steve Britt and I fought through the crowd by the left-field dugout, eventually getting to an usher, showing our credentials and leaping onto the field. About to head toward any player not already surrounded by 14 TV cameras, I quickly glanced back toward the crowd.

Back in those seats was a sea of shouts, signs and smiles growing by the second ... and unlike any I had ever seen. By the end of the night, it stretched the near length of the field, rising up to the near entirety of the lower level.

As I pulled a pen from my pocket to jot down a note, I looked out toward the scoreboard in left. On it, in simple letters, was this:

Congratulations

Boston
Red Sox

2004 World Series Champions

I've hopefully got many years to go with a pen in hand, but I can
only hope something I write brings half as much joy
to someone as those moments brought to me.

   * -- Sadly, Mom was unaware I commissioned my own flatware previously.


December 25, 2004 - The Best Laid Plans ...
   • I was all set to unveil the first of the two vacation write-ups today ... had a whole image map with a tree and a present cooked up and everything.

   However, considering my mother's Christmas gift is currently on a FedEx truck somewhere that is not here, no reason your gift should get any sort of better treatment.

   Files miles away. The grand delay continues.


December 24, 2004 - Heart Of A Champion
   Headline O' The Year: Maybe it's more of a cult statement, but seeing this on the cover of The Republican just had to bring a smile to more than my face:

"Manute Bol May Move To Chicopee"

   The story is even better.

Having seen the world, and from one of the highest human vantage points on the planet, Manute Bol thinks he knows where he wants to settle down.

Chicopee.

"I like the Chicopee area," said Bol, a 7-foot-7 onetime Dinka tribesman from the Sudan who, along with Gheorghe Muresan, shares the distinction of being the tallest player in NBA history. "I like it, man, it's a nice Manute Bol place. I'd like to move down there."

The odyssey of Bol, who now lives in West Hartford, is the stuff of legends. But to his friend and personal manager, Jim Grise, Bol is simply a very decent man who needs help, which is why the funeral director from Chicopee is organizing a Jan. 8 fund-raiser for the former NBA star at the city's Moose lodge on Fuller Road.

   I had no idea he'd almost died in a taxi accident. Although really, living in West Hartford ... (wait for it) ... odds were pretty good something was going to kill him.

   Zing!


   • I'd like to thank the fine folks at FedEx, who in shipping my mother's Christmas gift from West Virginia to Massachusetts, apparently thought the quickest route was to go through Memphis, Tenn.

   Yeah, it's not that simple. Yeah, I don't care.


December 23, 2004 - An Unneeded Trilogy Rising
   Welcome Back: It may be slightly premature, but No. 33 is coming back home.

The catcher has agreed in principle to a four-year, $40 million contract, but there are details to be worked out, ESPN's Peter Gammons reports.

The Associated Press reports Varitek will receive a $4 million signing bonus paid over four years and annual salaries of $9 million. The sides compromised over his desire for a no-trade clause, working out a solution that will cover a large part of the contract but not all of it.

Scott Boras, Varitek's agent, had told other teams he would not discuss Varitek until negotiations with Boston had been exhausted because the catcher wants to return to the Red Sox.

   All of you who said something nasty about Boras in the past few months ... it may be time to relent just a little.

   Though after all, it wouldn't take a rocket scientist to realize we are dealing with the Soul of the Sox here.

"He's a well-rounded guy who brings a lot to the table, defensively as well
as at the plate as well as in the clubhouse," Epstein said.
"I don't want to build a team without him."

   That counts as a scoop, right? I had that it July!


   • It is no secret to those who inhaibit Western Massachusetts that there's nothing to do here. If you've left, odds are pretty good that's part of the reason why you did.

   Though that is part of the reason things like the "Agawam Pub Crawl 2004" are created -- because really, when drinking is such a mandatory pastime, it should at least be done in order, with orange T-shirts and a 15-passenger van.

   To clarify, I was not on the "Agawam Pub Crawl 2004" per se ... I and the group more or less came across it at Goodfellaz, the bar roughly 90 seconds from my house in FH and the 10th stop of 11 on this drinking extravaganza. A drinking extravaganza organized in part by one Justin Gorman, who is neither the executive producer of "Back To Reality" nor a cross-country star at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

   He did, however, organize a drinking fest full of people I haven't seen since I was in high school, nearly all of whom I actually wanted to talk to ... that being why we followed them to stop No. 11. So for that, and because he requested mention on this site in an alcohol-fueled, swear-laden tirade that was well worth the price of three Sam Adams and a shot of Jagermeister, he is feted here on Christmas Eve Eve.

   As is fellow Class of '98 member Rick Haglund, who told me Gorman was "bitching out" all night. Though considering JG looked like he'd drank so much, he'd seen his own ghost, I'm guessing that statement was a little bit of hyperbole.


December 22, 2004 - Neither Games Nor A Place To Stop
   I'm Merely Saying: I understand things being what they are. However, if you have a journal and want others to read it with some semblance of regularity, it is typically not good to right about the same none (person/place/thing), directly or indirectly, for like 10 posts in a row.

   This isn't exactly said with any semblance of binding ... ness. Still, it's just something I've noted, and on a day like today, filling space is a good thing.

   Of course, it's probably also not good to take even a valid shot at a television show that has had a person on three times, but who am I to point fingers?

   In A Completely Unrelated Note: Given I know someone on her way to Glasgow, the article about the unconquered 10-pound hamburger seems strangely topical.

Craig Johnson, manager of the Baloo Burger Company in Queen Street, said: "A few of the regulars have taken up the challenge, but Iím pleased to say they havenít been able to do it.

"It's huge -- an absolutely massive amount of food."

The restaurant has pledged that anyone who eats the entire £65 burger, made with 7lb of meat, will get it free, along with a certificate and their picture on the restaurant wall. Mr Johnson, 43, came up with the idea after reading about a record set by a pub in Pennsylvania for creating a burger with 6lb of meat.

   There was a restaurant somewhere between my hotel in Collinsville, Ill., and St. Louis that had one of these "burgers served in a pizza box" kind of deals. We never went, but the thought they were probably killing cows from the same town to make the things brings a fresh smile.

   In The Interest Of Fairness: For as badly as I ripped Bill Simmons yesterday while offering nothing valuable in return, today's Jim Caple column on the failed Randy Johnson trade, absolutely buried on Page 2, is about 800 times better than Simmons telling us Kobe should take a hint from pro wrestling and become a heel.

I'm telling you, he needs to pull a Hollywood Hogan. After all that's happened, Kobe will never be totally cheered again. So why not go the other way? Wouldn't you rather be a memorable villain than a phony hero? Kobe should admit that he screwed the Clips over last summer, that he orchestrated Shaq's trade and Phil's departure, that he threw Malone under the bus for sport. Before home games, he should stand on the scorer's table and flip off fans. Maybe he could even hire a no-good manager with a cane. Embrace the dark side, Kobe. You're already there. You just can't admit it yet.

   He is right, though that does seem almost secondary.

   We're reaching disturbing levels of underachievement here, gang.


   • Today, I completed my Christmas shopping. A process that, for all intents and purposes was done entirely in three days.

   Given what I bought and how I went about getting it, these three days pretty much could have been any three days during the holiday season. Little bit of online, conspicuous absence of actual mall, but taking full advantage of the strip mall clusterfuck that is Dartmouth, Massachusetts.

   Of course, however, the three days I chose were Dec. 20, 21 and 22.

   Is it to be another cliched guy? Is it the journalist who needs a deadline? Or is it just general sloth laziness?

   One thing's for sure ... the Christmas card list is set to be a whopping zero!

   Hey, it could have been worse ... the 23rd, 24th and 25th are still out there.


December 21, 2004 - No Longer A "Real" Fan, Apparently
   Building From The Outside In: The New York Giants sent out an e-mail today encouraging their fans to vote Eli Manning Pepsi Rookie of the Week.

QB Eli Manning has been nominated for Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week for Week 15. Manning completed 16 of 23 passes for a career-high 182 yards and two touchdowns for a passer rating of 103.9 in the Giants' 33-30 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

   He more than needs the help, since he's the favorite only for the "We really needed a fifth nominee" award. Still, it's nice to see the team is turning to their fans -- likely the reason Manning is playing in the first place -- to undo the damage they (and Tom Coughlin) wrought.

   But I Love Them Anyway: We had the CW-endorsed nighttime sports lineup of CN8 on in the office this evening, and Lou Tilley of the Sports Connection reported on a story quite ripe for fresh debate -- the Associated Press telling the BCS to screw off, as the voters in their weekly college football poll are sick of the pressures of their votes being binding on the national championship picture.

The AP said such use was never sanctioned and had reached the point where it threatened to undermine the independence and integrity of the poll.

The AP sent BCS coordinator Kevin Weiberg a cease-and-desist letter, dated Dec. 21, stating that use of the poll is unlawful and harms the AP's reputation.

"We respect the decision of the Associated Press to no longer have its poll included in the BCS standings," Weiberg said in a statement Tuesday. "Since the inception of the BCS, the AP poll has been part of our standings. We appreciate the cooperation we have received from the organization in providing rankings on a weekly basis. We will discuss alternatives to the Associated Press poll at the upcoming BCS meetings and plan to conclude our evaluation of the BCS standings formula, including any other possible changes, by our April meeting."

Where the BCS goes from here won't be determined for a while, but recently Weiberg and Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese have said the BCS would look into the possibility of using a selection committee to create the bowl matchups, much like the NCAA Division I basketball tournament.

   Be that for whatever, that wasn't what got me.

   Lou proudly prefaced the story by saying, "The Boston Globe is reporting ..."

   I'm sure they are. Though I have a feeling the ASSOCIATED PRESS had it first.


   • A note for those of with a proclivity for both New England sports and irony:

   Should you take great joy knowing the Yankees' three-way deal for Randy Johnson fell apart like a cheap burrito? No.

   Never mind New York will likely keep trying combinations to get the Unit until they find one that gets it done, the real story is Dodgers GM Paul DePodesta stopping me having an aneurysm a coast away because my No. 2 team lost their only three bats -- Steve Finley, Adrian Beltre and Shawn Green in the span of two weeks.

   What you should be enjoying purely for Schadenfreudian purposes is this Pats-Dolphins redux by Bill Simmons, where he actually says my main point for enjoying this loss, but glosses over it because he's too busy having a hissy fit.

7:59 -- Touchdown, Dolphins. They're up by three. Whatever.

...

8:27 -- Nope, dad's awake. Just called him. "I'm tired of these games where we keep the other team hanging around," he says. I never imagined that we would be complaining about a Pats team that's won 27 of their last 28. Is this what it's like to be a Yankee fan?

...

9:03 -- Touchdown, Dolphins. Feeley to Thompson: A fourth-down lob pass from the 22 with the Pats blitzing. You can officially say that the Pats don't deserve to win this game. And yet there's 1:23 remaining on the clock ...

9:08 -- Brady gets sacked on first down. Not good.

9:09 -- Brady throws an interception. Ballgame.

(Hold on, I'm not done punching things.)

(OK.)

And yes, even though Miami's improbable comeback took over 20 minutes, it felt like two. My head is spinning. So what did we learn? A few things.

   Not the least of which is VICTORIES ARE NON A FOREGONE CONCLUSION. EVER.

   Nor is the fact "we'll" beat the Chargers, Steelers, Colts, Mini Ditkas or anyone else in the playoffs just because "we" have done it before and because "we" are the Patriots.

   Apparently, it's very easy to forget the previous ... I don't know, was it 40 YEARS of sucking?

   And I would like to say a lot of the reason I posted so much of the Simmons column here is so you wouldn't click the link and give the man another page view. Yeah, it's gotten that bad.

   So bad that, between his dreadful cartoon, the bullshit whiny play-both-sides-about-Pedro column he submitted recently and the continued crap regarding "reality TV I'm making fun of for being awful, but for whatever reason keep watching anyway," I almost wrote him a letter to tell him how much I think he sucks. A letter I full well knew would be either publicly derided or ignored altogether, but just something I felt like I needed to do.

   I never thought I would see the day where I could look at any given Bill Simmons column and, roughly 50 percent of the time, genuinely believe I could crank out something better for cheaper.

   Though not that being called on that proclamation would be such a bad thing.


December 20, 2004 - Trade For Bledsoe
   Gratuitous: And now, American sex symbol Clay Aiken.

Clay Aiken

Recording artist Clay Aiken signs copies of his book, 'Learning To Sing,' Monday in downtown Chicago. Aiken sang his way to a runner-up finish on the television talent show 'American Idol.' (AP Photo/Nam Y Huh)

   You betcha.

   The Day's Best Lie: In an effort to avoid being pushed the Best Buy Reward Zone program, I told a clerk today, "No, I don't really shop at Best Buy often."

   I suppose it's true in the sense I don't buy much of anything often, but were you to figure based on the purchases I do make ... I think I own sponsorship in a college-going child on the company's board of directors.

   I can only hope it's an attractive child.

It's Not About The Money ... Riiiiight
-- C.R.E.A.M. If you don't get it, look into it.

   • So tonight, the Dolphins beat the Patriots, 29-28. This is something Todd will likely express some level of excitement over, though I suppose anything is better than insightful posts like "Fuck I forgot my pw that I changed last week" or ironic ones like "I believe people do whatever they want cause they have no fear of confrontation"

   I, however, have a different take on it. Today on the radio, I heard a man who is paid to offer insightful commentary about the team offer this to a caller who chastised said pundit for saying little more than the Patriots always win -- "You're right, we keep saying it. But you know what? They always do."

   Wrong, you cocky fuckers. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

   I've never taken such joy from a stupid loss by the local team. Ever. Let it be a lesson to you ... unless you'd like to officially join New York sports fans as the least grateful in the nation.

   And we're off the soapbox.


December 19, 2004 - Ah, Pedro
   Incidental Sports Update: It became very clear on Saturday night that I can't bowl anymore. I used to be quite good relative to the amount of effort I put into it, but those days have since departed -- when you're down to throwing a 10-pound ball as hard as you can just because it's the only one you can reliably throw straight, you should probably accept the truth and move on.

   Pool, on the other hand, has become my game again. While it may speak more to the quality of my competition, I am somewhere in the neighborhood of 13-1 playing co-workers at Whale City's lovely downtown watering hole, The Garden. Considering the one was a premature 8-ball, confidence is building.

   Long story short ... I will still be stupid enough to bowl against you for money, but I will win it back in the bar later.

   Tying It All Together: Tonight in the aforementioned watering hole, a girl walked in that I recognized in that sort of "I swear I know who you are, but it's clearly a case where we've never actually met." Kind of like how you see someone you know from college ... when you're home for the weekend and it clearly isn't them.

   If I'm to believe Nick -- and really, he's sharper than me anyway -- the girl was the famed Heather Casey, FHM's Hottest Teacher and whose uncle was extremely grateful that I linked to his copy of HC's photo spread. As he put it, given she lives in Whale City, it isn't that farfetched.

   Sadly, that's the end of the story. She was surrounded by what I took to be friends for the rest of the time we were there, and I was at least seven beers away from going over and asking, "Hey, are you that hot teacher from the softcore porn magazine?" And really, it's not as though having a mediocre Web site is an acceptable icebreaker.

Non Sequtitur on Celebrity
-- Sadly, I've spent four days trying to work this into an update.

   • Though I was unable to attend the company Christmas party tonight held tonight, those in attendance did bring a boxful of meals back to the office, so that those of us actually putting out the newspaper tonight got to experience the celebration. In a way, I think it worked out better -- not only did I not have to dress up and make small talk with Advertising folks I've never met, I avoided drinking too much and dancing, which if it wouldn't have been grounds for firing damn well should have been.

   Rationalization can be a wonderful thing when you let it work for you.

   Anyway, because they did feed us, I can now compare and contrast the experience with the work-related holiday party I did actually atttend ... the WWLP bash.

TV
Wine steward, beef soup, Caesar salad, Alfredo pasta, Stuffed Chicken with lemon reduction sauce, some semblance of potatoes, vegetable, dessert buffet

vs.

Print
Prime rib, ham, chicken, baked fish, baked stuffed shrimp, potatoes, green beans, carrots, seasoning balls that fell off the baked stuffed shrimp, orange Fanta that someone deposited on the "free food" cabinet

   It's a tough call, since it's essentially better food fighting against "we put all four entrees in the boxes just so everyone got something they wanted." I do think I have to give the edge to TV though, since a whole bottle of orange Fanta is too much and the green beans at the bottom of the container were barely edible.

   However, I am quite grateful they fed us. Making last week's Sunday Night Wendy's Run an annual affair wouldn't exactly be good for anybody.

   And now, panicked, last-minute Christmas shopping.


December 18, 2004 - Like College, But Better
   Annoying Newsmakers: And ... read.

   Especially since someone going by "Bob From Accounting" once commented here.

   Steelers 33, Giants 30: The worst possible outcome, given it was neither:

   a) Giants upsetting Steelers, claiming Win No. 6 and helping the Patriots, or
   b) Giants losing by more than 10.5 points, allowing me continued success in the pick "pool" at the newspaper

   Really though, the Giants are very good at being disappointing. And as disappointing as losing the game was, watching Big Blue with my father is a heavily underrated way to spend an afternoon.

   Especially since we've all come to the realization Jeremy Shockey is horribly overrated, and that Eli Manning isn't the rough equivelant of a paraplegic playing quarterback.

   Back With A Sad Curve: For lack of anything better to do after a family Christmas party, bowling results from Bradley Bowl in Windsor Locks, Conn.

1st -- Cooch -- 127.5 avg. (High: 144)
2nd -- Jen P. -- 106 (143)
3rd -- Erik -- 105.2 (133)
4th -- Steph -- 98.3 (110)
5th -- Matt -- 89.1 (105)
6th -- Julie -- 71 (90)

   It should be noted that in the game she bowled a 90, Julie had 12 after the 6th frame. If nothing else, that's pretty hard to do.


   • It should also be noted that, at the aforementioned family holiday party, Julie got drunk on wine and Kahlua and talked to more members of my family than I did.

   Thankfully, the wine and Kahlua were not consumed in the same glass at the same time. That would have been a little too much to bear.


December 17, 2004 - Yeah, Strikeouts
   Completing The Trifecta -- Movie Review: Tonight, it was actual media that might be of interest ... Ocean's Twelve.

   As I was leaving for the theater, my mother gave the film a ringing endorsement -- "I heard that was long and boring." Course, she was watching the NBC movie Secret Santa at the time, so I probably should have considered the source. Still, I'd heard much the same from the half of most reviews I hear at the paper.

   It really wasn't the case at all, though I can see why some people might think that.

   It did seem like a film where seeing the original (not so much the original original) would have helped, given there were points where people laughed at a face I didn't recognize at all. And there was a lot of time where nothing was really happening, though if you have a brain in your head you see they're setting up for something to happen. I'd rather that than complete and utter random ridiculousness.

   However, it's definitely a film where you have to suspend your conceptions of reality more than a couple of times. Not so much the thing that really bothers me, but just worth noting.

   I was more impressed that Superfans A2 and B found a way to work the Red Sox and Yankees into the whole thing.

   Let's put it this way ... if you've got a gun to your head, and your choices are 'Ocean's Twelve' and 'Spanglish,' I have to guess this is the way you're going to want to go. 'Ocean's Twelve' against 'The Aviator,' though? Not so much.


   • My mother's bank was bought today, which isn't so much something worth mentioning except for a quote in the story.

Brian Q. Corridan, president of Springfield-based investment company Corridan & Co., said the sale was no surprise.

"The fact that Woronoco was up for sale was the worst-kept secret in the Pioneer Valley," he said. "The only thing that would have made it surprising was if Pedro Martinez had bought it."

   Yeah, that would have been surprising. But how awesome would it have been at the same time?!

   I can see the ads now ... "You bank at Pedro Martinez Savings and Loan, or I shoot you." "Wake up your finances, so I can drill them in the ass." And so on and so forth.

   Which reminds me ... classy stuff from No. 45 today. An excellent story, and I can't really say anything in there surprises me, but ... it just is.

   How's that for a definitive conclusion.


December 16, 2004 - Errands For Artists
   CD Review: Since we're talking college basketball, now's as good a time as any to announce UMass 61, UConn 59 has been elevated to "Instant Classic" status, which meant tonight I got to watch it again.

   And no, losing 80-53 to Miami days later didn't make it less enjoyable.

   Regardless, the Ryan Gomes CD is much like many of the days I write on here ... potentially something great, but when you realize the forces at hand, you're ultimately not surprised by an underwhelming performance. Coming in a small, glossy black package with Gomes out front and the Providence cowl in the background, the little mini CD holds some semblance of promise.

   And then you see the concept at work is "Dr. Ryan and Mr. Gomes" -- he's composed out, but inside ... he's an animal! A cartoony, ogrey animal who breaks backboards and has feet too big for shoes!

   So much of an animal, we at Providence chose not to secure the OK for the Switchfoot version of "Meant To Live" -- our school's theme since it's the only that will even include the line "Dreaming about Providence," even if it is not talking about us. Regardless, we got extras singing it!

   The CDs purpose is to get out of the area writers excited about Gomes, and yet, I found myself actually less excited about him after I watched it. Perhaps because under no circumstances should the best basketball player in the country be playing at Providence College, which barely even qualifies as a college.

   On the whole, the disk would have been better if it included the only quote that matters regarding Gomes -- the ones Jim Calhoun fired off after the Connecticut born player basically beat UConn by himself last season.

Dave Solomon, New Haven Register: Jim, recruiting is hardly an exact science. What does Gomes do now that blows you away?

Jim Calhoun, Noted A-Hole: That's the dumbest fucking question I've ever heard. I've explained it a thousand times. I fucked up. I didn't take Ryan Gomes. Does that make you happy? It took Wayne Simone [Gomes' AAU coach] 18 months to convince [Friars coach] Tim Welsh to take the kid. I don't know what else you want me to say. I fucked up. Write it. I fucked up, for the fifth time ... It has been written about. It has been talked about; don't shake your fucking head, you asked a question. I'm telling you how I feel about it. I took Emeka Okafor and Caron Butler. They're not bad. I can't get everyone.

   Now that's entertainment.


   • And really, while we're on the subject, let's just re-run one of my all-time favorite interviews ever. I've probably already run this, since I know I've referred to the link, but whatever ... everything else I did today deals with Christmas presents that, well, could be for you.

Jim Rome continuously prodded Jim Everett about his perceived lack of toughness as an NFL signal-caller on the old ESPN show, Talk2, in 1994.

Jim Rome: You may have even been Jim Everett back there [in 1989] but somewhere along the way Jim, you ceased being Jim and you became Chris.

Jim Everett: Well, let me tell you a little secret ... that, you know, we're sitting here right now, and if you guys want to take a station break, you can. But if you call me Chris Everett to my face one more time ...

JR: I already did it twice.

JE: You'd better ... if you call it one more time, we'd better take a station break.

JR: Well, its a five-minute segment, on a five-segment show.
We've got a long way to go.

JE: We do.

JR: We've got a long way to go. I'll get a couple of segments out of you.

JE: It's good to be here with you though ... because you've been talking like this behind my back for a long time now.

JR: But now I've said it right here, so we've got no problems then.

JE: I think that you probably won't say it again.

JR: I'll bet I do.

JE: OK

[short pause]

JR: Chris.

[Everett tosses aside coffee table, pounces on Rome]

   Even if it clearly was just a move to make a name for himself -- a move that worked, mind you -- it's still better than anything that's ever been on the Best Damn Sports Show Period.

   Usually, when you're the best at something, you don't need to remind people.


December 15, 2004 - And Now, Lightheadedness
   TV Review: Though the six of you that get the joke will be happy to know I watched the conclusion of The Big Break II today -- a previous Tuesday trivia answer I got far too quickly for having only seen the show once -- it was not the highlight of today's daytime TV schedule.

   That honor goes to Bands Reunited: New Kids on the Block.

   Now, the show is entertaining anyway with bands I've never heard of, simply because there's generally at least one member who's gone into hiding to get away from the business, and that contrasts nicely with the member who's still going on tour playing the songs of the band he used to be in.

   The New Kids, though? You can't put a price on that kind of comedy, especially since before the show even began, the odds of a full reunion were set at about 75:1.

   Among the facts we wean:

   -- The Kids got their first big break to get on a big tour by auditioning in front of ... Tiffany, who was in her dressing room eating steak with her manager at the time.

   -- Though it wasn't news to me thanks to Lisa having seen him in Northampton, Jordan Knight is the member still out on tour, though whether he sings "Hangin' Tough" as his encore of choice is anybody's guess.

   As is whether he gets to do encores.

   -- His brother, Jonathan Knight, hated the fame and is now a real estate developer like he always dreamed of.

   -- The era of NKOTB is sorely underrepresented in the sands of history.

   There's not much more reason to go on, however, since the three non-Knight brothers actually did have better things to do than reunite in front of a crowd that refuses to let two decades stop them from living in the mid-'80s. That's perhaps the biggest lesson.

   -- There remains New Kids' fan clubs in nearly every country in the world, and a number of people who look exactly like you would expect modern-day New Kids fans to look were willing to go on TV and plead with them to reunite, if only for a night.

   Yes I know. It's far easier to rip on somebody else than it is to create something that's so universally loved.

   It's for that reason I need a TiVo. $99, people. Like euthanasia, but without the killing.

   CD Review: Saved for tomorrow, just so I don't overwhelm you with too much crap you don't care about, a review of the promotional CD sent out by Providence College forwarding Ryan Gomes as a "National Player of the Year Candidate."

   Just a tip? Generally, voters are more convinced by things like beating Wichita State.


   • I am not condoning a caption contest.

Elmo and Joe Torre

In this hand out photo provided by Sesame Street, Sesame Street character Elmo wears a baseball glove as he takes advice from New York Yankees manager Joe Torre at Kaufman Astoria Studios on Wednesday, during taping for Sesame Street's 36th season, which begins April 4, 2005. Torre was on the set shooting a 'Healthy Habits Moment' for the upcoming new season of Sesame Street. Torre's segment is part of Sesame Street's 'Healthy Habits for Life' curriculum. (AP Photo/Sesame Street,Theo Wargo)

   However, I'm certainly not fobidding one either.

"What's that? Did you say you can pitch left-handed?"


December 14, 2004 - Rent, And Buy
   The Power Of ... Whatever This Is: As though, in another dream, I received an e-mail from Jay, the man behind 1918. And, sure enough ...

Fixed!
-- The magic of the Internet!

   As with everything else here, I was at least 30 percent less bothered than the writing seemed. However, Jay took time to fix the error, and for that I am grateful.

   Though the prospect of me asking for things on this site as opposed to writing people letters like a mature adult, and having the irrational method actually work, creates a frightening scenario I can't even begin to comprehend.

   On that note, now would be a good time to post the current Entertainment Weekly cover I was e-mailed tonight, but I already felt creepy enough looking at in once ... I needn't feel that for the rest of the month.

   Eighteen may be legal, but it doesn't generally make it OK. Unless, of course, you're the future of my franchise:

ELI MANNING, New York Giants
The emotionless rookie has been downright awful in 2004, but perhaps it's because he's been quietly living it up on the New York party scene. A national magazine made the claim that on Dec. 6 (just one day after a miserable showing by Manning in a 31-7 loss to the equally woeful Washington Redskins) the rook showed up at NYC lounge Butter.

Having attended the Monday night event on more than one occasion, I can tell you that the draw is mostly models and the Olsen twins. On this night, the 23-year-old Manning supposedly swapped phone numbers with 18-year-old actress Lindsay Lohan. If even a morsel of this is true, then although the rookie has left much to be desired on the field, at least he's showing promise off it.

-- From the generally awful Page 3

   Let this be a lesson to all of you currently lambasting Pedro for chasing the dollars.

Eli Manning
-- Money fixes everything.

   • Often times, I strain on a daily basis trying to figure out just what to write here. I want to post quality, so that many will come here and give me things I irrationally ask for. It's a motivational tool that makes posting in here on a daily basis much easier to do.

   Though it is in many ways mitigated when I look in my Web stats and see what is drawing the most people here in a given month.

Heather Casey
-- The FHM Hottest Teacher who's from Whale City.

   And thus, after literally several seconds on Internet searching, I give you what you're looking for.

   That was easy.


December 13, 2004 - Pedro Merchandise Now 50% Off!
   Nightdream Believer: I've never been much for dream analysis, mainly because I usually don't remember my dreams for long enough to do anything with them. However, I have had two recently that were odd enough (and memorable enough) to probably bear mentioning.

   In the first, I watched some guy kill an old man's cat by crushing its ribs in some giant book. It was very gruesome, and left me physically bothered after I'd woken up -- I may or may not have been the old man, but just the act of killing a cat freaked me out for quite a while.

   The second, from last night, somehow involved the destruction of the New York-New York Hotel & Casino in Vegas. The only reason I was able to tell that's what it was is I remember seeing the rubble of a Statue of Liberty come crashing down on some slot machines.

   Somehow, these may be related. However, the relation might be that I should stop eating so much damned pizza.

   I Was Running ...: You could total the most I've ever run in a week, and it would come nowhere near 26.2 miles. One man, however, has done that in less than 2:30.

Wardian, 30, said he heard about runners staying on the treadmill for 24 hours, and he wanted to add a treadmill marathon to the dozens of others he has run.

"It's difficult just because you always know where you are so you can't trick yourself," Wardian said. "You just look down and you know where you are."

The run was part of the grand-opening of a new running store in Arlington called Pacers. Owner Christopher Farley said the marathon required intense focus.

"The monotony of a treadmill -- the idea that you have to stay balanced for almost two-and-a-half hours -- is a lot harder," Farley said. "It really becomes claustrophobic."

   It's also hard when your body starts eating its own muscles for fuel three-quarters of the way through, but I guess that goes without saying.

   Pedro Martinez: It's always nice when big news breaks on a column day.

Farewell Goodwill? Martinez Earned It
-- Not an underrated writeup for netting me angry letters, but only because this is crying out for people to tell me I'm a shill for rich assholes. Come on, punks. Don't make me bait you any more openly.

   I'm very sad to see him go, don't get me wrong, but anyone who faults the man for going to the team that offered him the most money ... I'd have been far more sad had the Sox overpaid just to keep him.

   Then again, I really don't need to argue this here when I just did it five hours ago.


   • Speaking of columns, it's always nice when a piece you write gets used in advertising or as something someone else is proud of, as is the case with my column on the Red Sox short film, "1918".

   Know what else is nice?

John Couture strikes again!
-- Spelling correctly.

   You know, the kind of thing someone who was looking to convince people he was to be taken seriously should do without having to think. Especially when there's a giant headshot with my name in it on the page you're linking to.

   Is this a pet peeve? I don't think so ... I think wanting people to spell my name correctly is a little more substantive that "always bold hyperlinks" or "no mayonnaise on the sandwich" or "clip nails over a trash can."

   Course, I could make it easier on everyone and use the name from which the inspiration came, but I'm too lazy to write the extra five letters and have to cross another "t".

   Though I'm quite glad Mom didn't go with the second choice ... Aaron. No word on whether a scrawny bird in an annoying breed inspired that one too.


December 12, 2004 - Can't Spell "Betray Knob" ...
   Ravens 37, Giants 14: At a time like this, when 5-2 has become 5-8, it's good to remember that before the season I said a six-win Giants season would be a smashing success.

REMAINING SCHEDULE
Sat., 12/18 @ 1:30 p.m. -- vs. Steelers (12-1)
Sun., 12/26 @ 1:00 p.m. -- at Bengals (6-7)
Sun., 1/2 @ 8:30 p.m. -- vs. Cowboys (5-8)

   Yeah, I'm not optimistic either.


   • Apparently the rift between Kobe Bryant and Karl Malone, which isn't all that interesting a story by itself, stems from Malone trying to pick up Kobe's wife.

Malone's agent, Dwight Manley, told the Los Angeles Times on Sunday that Malone was asked by Vanessa Bryant, "Hey, cowboy, what are you hunting?" in reference to Malone wearing a cowboy hat and boots.

"She said it twice," Manley said, "and Karl answered, 'I'm hunting for little Mexican girls.'"

On the car ride home, Vanessa Bryant told Kobe what had happened. Vanessa decided to call Kaye Malone and tell her about the way her husband had spoken to her. After they hung up, Kobe Bryant called Karl Malone on his cell phone.

"Kobe told me that Karl just listened and didn't deny any of it. Kobe said Karl's only reply was, 'You know me, man.' To which Kobe told him, 'That's right, I do know you -- and stay away from my wife,'" said (Bryant's agent Rob) Pelinka.

   Good for him. It's about time he stood up for his wife's honor like that. After all, people have been walking all over her for months.

Despite the collapse of the criminal case a civil lawsuit already filed against Mr Bryant by the woman will proceed, under a deal negotiated by prosecution and defence lawyers.

"I want to apologise to her for my behaviour that night and for the consequences she has suffered in the past year," said Mr. Bryant in a statement issued after the case.

"Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognise now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did."

   This ends today's discussion of adultery news, since Kobe Bryant getting all offended about adultery is the sort of gold that needn't be topped with anything else.


December 11, 2004 - Tree Me
   Channeling My Inner McLaughlin: As Dana Carvey would have put it, "Wrong!"

   On Friday night, I attended "The Birth," a musical staged at a Springfield church about Jesus's birth the featured my good pal Jim, who you'll be reading plenty more about in a couple of weeks. Following the musical, we headed to Champions downtown for the iced teas. Normal night.

   Then the entire Air Force men's hockey team walks in, fresh off their 5-4, non-conference win over AIC, who inexplicably has a Div. 1 hockey team. I could have included the Rocky Mountain Sports Report, which came on after Minnesota finished off St. Cloud State and featured the aforementioned 5-4 score.

   The Air Force gang seemed legitimately excited to see Minnesota play, which I'd imagine stems from the fact AF is far outclassed by the Gophers. I was merely excited to see other people excited by college hockey.

   But good guesses, you two.

   They Love Him There Too: The first U.S. flight to Vietnam in 30 years landed in Ho Chi Minh City on Friday, signaling closer ties between the two nations. Logically, the flight was one of great symbolism, and the kind of thing famous people would like to be on to show they care.

   I'm just curious as to why David Hasselhoff was prominently involved.

Hasselhoff on Vietnam
-- Sure. He can videotape in the airport.

As a TV camera woman films actor David Hasselhoff, Hasselhoff films back with his hand-held camcorder before boarding a United Airlines flight bound for Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, at the San Francisco International Airport December 9, 2004, the first scheduled flight by a US airline to Vietnam since the fall of Saigon in 1975. (REUTERS/Lou Dematteis)

Edit: Another cutline explains: "Hasselhoff is traveling to Vietnam to bring wheel chairs to
disabled Vietnamese as part of his work with Wheels for Humanity."

And here I thought it had something to do with the SpongeBob movie.

   • You know all those bumper stickers and Instant Messenger profiles that say something like, "I long for the day when the schools have all the money they need, and the military has to hold bake sales to buy that new bomber"?

   The Fairhaven Militia is out and about SouthCoast selling chocolate bars to raise money.

   All your prayers have come true.


December 10, 2004 - David Wells? THE David Wells?!
   The Kids Love This One: Though the article in the Globe has since disappeared into their for-pay archives, the story of how Work 'N Gear has suddenly adapted to becoming fashion is an interesting one.

   Bought not too long ago out of bankruptcy court, the store is now advertising holiday sales for the first time under the guise, "If you think it's fashion, that's fine with us." There are displays, clothes matched with other clothes, the whole nine yards ... though I doubt I could get my long sought-after Von Dutch hat there.

   The youth of today can wear whatever they want, but I do have one question:

Working Gear
-- Check the girl in the bottom left.

   It's cool to dress like a chef now?

   To The Winner ...: I have stayed pretty quiet, and will continue to, on the idea of Red Sox Nation ID cards -- discount to MLB Audio or not, I'm pretty sure I made my citizenship to the nation "official" when I posted the picture of me standing with cutouts of Clemens, Boggs, Rice, Barrett and _____ in my goofy glasses from fourth grade.

   The idea of fan championship rings, however ... here's the line, and there's "fan championship rings" waaaaaaay over there.

The Souped-Up Ring
-- The $2,999 "Ultimate Championship Ring," which I guess
makes the players' rings the "Wicked Ultimate Championship Ring."

   Outside of just being a blatant cash and marketing grab, it seems all this stuff is just a member-measuring contest to see who the "biggest fan" is. If you have the ring, the card, the T-shirt and the hat, clearly you are more worthy of being a Red Sox fan than I am, right?

   Given I'm writing this on a night when I didn't work, and thus did things one does on Friday nights when they didn't work, I'm not going to get real deep on this. However, I'm pretty sure anyone who spends $2,999 on a fan Red Sox championship ring is full of so much bullshit, it's going to get in the deep crevices of the jewelry and never come out. I got my MLB DVD (even if it was for work), was given a T-shirt and pennant, and wouldn't be offended to get a red hat. I'm pretty much all set, thanks.

   Unless they start selling authentic "corks from the locker room in Yankee Stadium" or "beer bottles from the field at Busch." Then I'm going to be pissed that I sat on a goldmine.


   • If anyone who was not directly involved can correctly identify how my night combined religious musical theater, Long Island iced teas and the Air Force Falcons men's hockey team, I will give you something very, very nice.

   Not "Ultimate Championship Ring" nice. Maybe "Commemorative Spirits Bottle" nice.

   Answer in tomorrow's update, since if any of you do get it down to the letter, I'm going to be well beyond scared.


December 9, 2004 - Two Points, Twenty-One Years
   Cracking Out The 'Dork' Label: My current fascination with Radio-Locator.com, specifically the maps detailing areas a given station is able to reach, most definitely falls under the definition of the word above.

   The site confirms what living here for two-plus years has already taught me -- it's hardly my fault the only station I can get with decent clarity in my apartment is the crappy pop/rap/R&B station based across the harbor. I mean, at least if it was of Kiss 108 ilk, I could enjoy a good 3-4 songs an afternoon ... look, Avril Lavigne never killed anybody.

   Though it is good to know all this time, I've had an alternative to mainstream radio right in my own backyard the other way.

Curious about the latest avant-jazz? Look no further. Craving some global rhythms for deep chillage? We've got those. Feeling critical of the mainstream news media? We offer fresh perspectives daily. From reggae to dreampop, bluegrass to death metal, fat beats to media criticism, WSMU offers music and information to take you one step beyond passive listening. No prefab radio wallpaper here.

   This would work out much better, of course, if I wasn't seeking prefab radio wallpaper. Oh, you wacky college kids and your ideals.

   Though speaking of radio, given all the links ...

   David Brudnoy: I want to make one thing clear off the top. I never met David Brudnoy. I never took his class. I never saw him on the street. I never listened to his show, and really, only knew about him because his picture was on the wall at the Daily Free Press. It was a note he'd sent in many years prior, thanking a photographer who'd taken a particularly good photo of him and a reporter who'd masterfully done up a feature on him despite not once taking notes during their interview.

   That said, I listened to his farewell before bed Wednesday night. It probably would have meant a lot more had the above links been in any way tangible, but he said one of the more profound things I've heard in a while.

"I think we in the media often times want everybody else to be frank about themselves but want to be covert about ourselves. My life is truly an open book."

   In the sort of "half an ass" spirit that I have long since perfected, I will be taking this to heart throughout January. Each day, I will include an embarassing story from my past that is fit for publication, with the days when I either run out of stories or can't think of any at the time being filled with crap I make up on the fly.

   We will call it ... "Something." Reader participation, as always, will be more than encouraged.

   As it will be in coming up with a name in the next three weeks.


   • For one night, I was 13 again.

UMass and UConn

Massachusetts' Jeff Salovski, left, guards Connecticut's Ed Nelson in the first half in Amherst, Mass. on Thursday, Dec. 9, 2004. (AP Photo/Paul Franz)

   This, however, is a story that goes even beyond that date. It goes all the way back to the Curry Hicks Cage on Dec. 15, 1983, when Ron Gerlufsen's UMass Minutemen beat Dom Perno and UConn, 67-65 in overtime. UMass would end up going 12-17 that year, led by the likes of Donald Russell and Edwin Green, while UConn began a string of four years where they never won more than a baker's dozen. All men I've never heard of, for teams a three-year-old me couldn't have cared about. I was much busier eating dirt.

   Perno gave way to Jim Calhoun in 1986, which is where this story gets interesting.

   It would seem logical that the state schools of Massachusetts and Connecticut play every year, given their proximity and natural rivalry. And they have for the most part.

1984-85: @ UConn 64, UMass 52
1985-86: UConn 78, @ UMass 70
1986-87: @ UConn 58, UMass 54
1988-89: @ UConn 104, UMass 75
1989-90: UConn 94, @ UMass 75

1996-97: UConn 64, @ UMass 61
1997-98: UConn 72, UMass 55
(Hartford Civic Center)
1998-99: UConn 59, @ UMass 54
1999-2000: @ UConn 79, UMass 65
2000-01: UConn 82, UMass 67
(Hartford Civic Center)
2001-02: UConn 69, @ UMass 59
2002-03: UConn 59, UMass 48
(Hartford Civic Center)
2003-04: UConn 91, UMass 67
(Hartford Civic Center)

   Thirteen straight wins ... but what of that gap? Why did Calhoun stop playing the Minutemen? It's an inexact science, but here are the records (and postseasons) John Calipari's UMass teams put together during those years:

1990-91: 20-13, Postseason NIT Final Four
1991-92: 30-5, NCAA Sweet Sixteen
1992-93: 24-7, NCAA Second Round
1993-94: 28-7, NCAA Second Round
1994-95: 29-5, NCAA Elite Eight
1995-96: "35-2," "NCAA Final Four"
(Thanks, Marcus. No really. Thanks.)

   You fill in the blanks.

   When Calhoun and UConn strolled into Mullins Center tonight having won 88 straight games against New England opponents, they didn't include a graphic showing the teams Calhoun annually likes to beat. Sacred Heart. Quinnipiac. Central Connecticut. New Hampshire. Northeastern. Brown. Fairfield. Hartford.

   Boston University.

   I'm not trying to say everyone doesn't pad their schedules with patsies, or even that UConn hasn't been the best college basketball team in New England for most of my lifetime. For the brief period they weren't, however, Calhoun just couldn't seem to fit a game with UMass into his bloated schedule. I guess it was just far more important he get Yale in for a matchup.

   Anyone who has ever lived and died with UMass men's basketball, be it in the golden era or not, knows this. They know it they way they know Lenny Wirtz, the referee who called a bullshit technical on Calipari for being out of the coach's box against Kentucky in 1992. UMass had turned a 20-point deficit to two, and was about to ensure the Duke-Kentucky classic in the Elite Eight never happened ... momentum shift, 10-point loss.

   Up until the 2004 baseball season, there was no team I ever cared about more than those mid-'90s UMass teams. Refuse to Lose. The battles with Temple, the inexplicable losses to Yinka Dare and George Washington. The five-straight Atlantic 10 regular season and tournament titles. The joy I've taken in the professional flops of Joe Smith and Bryant "Big Country" Reeves, who prematurely ended two of those grand seasons. I had a notebook I logged all the games in ... it was pre-Internet.

   When they lost to Kentucky in the Final Four -- after season-long backup Giddell Padilla almost won the game himself -- we all knew it was over. Camby was graduating, and Tyrone Weeks surely wasn't going to fill the hole. Calipari, no doubt smart enough to see it was his moment, left to go coach the Nets.

   Funny how Jim Calhoun finally bowed to the pressure and renewed the rivalry.

   It's not as though UMass hasn't come close. In that '96 game, a Carmelo Travieso buzzer beater to tie it went in-and-out. They lost by five to a top-ranked UConn in '98, and led 34-9 in the second half in 2002.

   They lost 59-48.

   They always found a way to lose to UConn.

   Until tonight.

1
2
FIN
Massachusetts (3-2)
31
30
61
No. 6 Connecticut (4-1)
29
30
59

   I found it on ESPN2 with about 18 mintes to go and UMass up 33-29. As I sat eating my pizza, they lost that lead, only to keep getting within one possession of tying it and missing their chance. As the clock ticked down, UConn kept scoring, and UMass kept ... not tying it. It was getting to be like the last MLS Cup in New England, where there were 60,000+ people just dying to explode, but the Revs never scored the goal to set them off.

   Yet UMass hung tough, only to fall behind 55-50 as time ticked under four minutes. It seemed as though they'd just be short again.

   Then it was 55-52, and after a stop it was 55-54.

   And then, with almost exactly two minutes to play, Jeff Viggiano -- who's not only a Suffield native, he's the only player on the team I could name -- hit a three to make it 57-55. After a stuff on a UConn 3-point attempt, he scored again, driving the lane and getting a correct goaltending call on a finger roll. 59-55.

   And you got the sense. The sense that, this time, they really were going to beat UConn.

   Then they missed the fron end of a pair of one-and-ones, and UConn tied it again with nine seconds left.

   With overtime all but a sure UConn win, UMass had one chance.

   Thanks to Jim Calhoun.

   Choosing to press and cut the heart out now, the plan backfired. The Minutemen beat the press, setting up a two-on-one, a bounce pass and a lay-in.

   61-59.

When Denham Brown front-rimmed a 3-point try at the buzzer, the UMass fans stormed the court in a way not seen in Amherst for nearly a decade -- and not that often even then.

   I'd like to think that some of those 9,037 -- the biggest crowd since 2001 -- were from Westfield. Sunderland. Palmer. Amherst. I'd like to think they weren't just celebrating a big win for 2004, but a big win for all the guys who didn't get their chance to. Edgar Padilla. Jim McCoy. Harper Williams. Will Herndon. Derek Kellogg. Mike Williams. Lou Roe. Even Camby, the big idiot.

   This has gotten long, but after the Red Sox, I'd pretty much resigned myself to a life where sports just couldn't get more exciting than they'd already been. All my most favorite teams all have titles in my lifetime, titles that I can remember.

   It's just good to know that there's still something out there that can get me leaping for joy off my couch.


December 8, 2004 - Eight Pages And Glory
   The Proverbial Ugly Sweater: Earlier today, I got a note from my friends at PartyPoker.com, telling me I could be the recipient of "an exclusive PartyPoker.com jacket" were I do play a given number of hands between now and Dec. 22. Given it's the holiday season, this got me thinking ...

   There's people out there who would want a jacket emblazoned with the logo of an online poker site?

   Though I suppose it's better than the logo of an online sports betting site, it you're putting a gun to my wardrobe.

   Sean McDonough: If only he'd been canned closer to a Tuesday, there could have been a column made out of it. Especially since no matter how much better Don Orsillo has gotten as the Red Sox play-by-play man, McDonough and Bob Montogomery are still always going to be the voices I remember doing the Sox. After all, anyone from New England in the 80s knows, "The Game Is On ... TV38!"

   As for Jerry Remy, he lost me a long time ago, but he officially lost me when he started trying to sell this:

Bloody Brilliant

   Awesome. Perhaps for the second printing, he should attach an actual sock covered in spaghetti sauce hanging from the front. It would go much better with my new PartyPoker.com jacket that I apparently want.

   Then after that, he can start selling T-shirts with one of the 1,321 cigarettes he smokes every game rubbed out on them ... or he could just autograph the cigarettes and sell them with his scorecards, which have such poor penmanship on them, they can barely be read to begin with.

   OK, I'm ranting and making stuff up now.


   • Since this has turned into a rant, I feel it's only right to include the most morbid photograph I've seen since Oct. 28.

Sox Grave
-- From The Remy Report

   Somehow, this is sweet. The knowledge that Yankees fans don't do this kind of thing ... this is straight out of English soccer lore.

   That said, if anyone does anything like this to my grave after I die, I'll never let you wear the PartyPoker.com jacket I apparently want, since I both play online poker and apparently want the world to know I'm a degenerate.

   And yes, I really did just make a whole update out of that. I guess I really do have a talent.


December 7, 2004 - "Because The World Isn't Nice"
   'Speak': While I am not going to feverishly link to reviews of this newly released debut album by some artist who shall currently remain nameless, I am going to direct you here, where the webmaster will undoubtedly go through all of them thanks to her super-strong fandom.

It takes a special type of self-involvement to release an album that cannibalizes the already popular work of your peers and then to declare, "Don't want to be like every other girl." And, man, Lindsay Lohan is special.

The Merrick native's debut, "Speak" (Casablanca), is as certain as death and taxes, as predictable as American cheese and just as fulfilling. This, of course, means it will be a huge hit.

-- OK, one review.

   'Boulevard of Broken Songs': Previously, The Bruce had pondered how I'd not said anything about a smush of so many bands of whom I own albums -- he figured I hadn't heard it yet. Well, tonight I did hear it, with that link offering a download so you can too.

   On first listen, it seems like a horrible, horrible mistake that channels the name of John Moschitta -- four and a half minutes of words, since when you're mushing four songs into each other, you've got a lot of words to account for. It seemed to teach a valuable lesson about blending. Green Day is very good. Oasis was very good. Travis is sort-of good. Mushing them all together ... well, it's like mixing Eminem and 'Dream On' by Aerosmith.

   Or cottage cheese and oatmeal, since that disgusts so many people.

   On subsequent listens, however, the whole thing seems to suck less. Good beat, dance to it, etc. I give it an 85.

   And Finally, In 'Music' News: Grammy nominations are out, and the leader with 10 nominations? Obviously, Kanye West, whom I wouldn't have named as worthy of 10 nominations if you'd let me guess for a day and a half.

Record of the Year
"Let's Get It Started," The Black Eyed Peas
"Here We Go Again," Ray Charles & Norah Jones
"American Idiot," Green Day
"Heaven," Los Lonely Boys
"Yeah!" Usher, featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris

Album of the Year
"Genius Loves Company," Ray Charles and various artists
"American Idiot," Green Day
"The Diary of Alicia Keys," Alicia Keys
"Confessions," Usher
"The College Dropout," Kanye West

   I'm admittedly a small sample, but of the 10 items up for the biggest two spots, exactly two are songs I'd stop and listen to on the radio, and one is an album I'd actually buy.

   Sadly, that means the percentages have gone up.


   • When it comes to Internet buzz -- which for today will be defined as "the amount of time it took for everyone to link from Fark" -- the story of George Carlin in Las Vegas seems tough to top on Tuesday.

Holding back none of his nothing's-sacred angst, Carlin finished his four-year run at the hotel Wednesday with some of his darkest material. Riffs included suicides and beheadings. Near the end, he made it clear he couldn't wait to get out of "this (expletive) hotel" and Las Vegas. He told the crowd of 700 he was looking forward to going back East "where the real people are."

He added, "People who go to Las Vegas, you've got to question their (expletive) intellect to start with. Traveling hundreds and thousands of miles to essentially give your money to a large corporation is kind of (expletive) moronic. That's what I'm always getting here is these kind of (expletive) people with very limited intellects." When a female in the audience hollered something that sounded like "stop degrading us," Carlin fired back, "Thank you very much, whatever that was. I hope it was positive; if not, well (expletive) me," using slang for oral sex.

Carlin is moving to the Stardust in February after a falling out with the MGM.

-- The original story from Norm!, an underrated
contender for having 'Best Job in the World.'

   What's funny about this is, had I gotten off my ass and completed the first of the two pending vacation write-ups, you've have known this months ago. While Erik, Jim and I were in Vegas, we paid actual American dollars to see Carlin at the MGM, filing it under "it seemed like a good idea at the time."

   Suffice to say, his riffs on suicide and beheadings weren't just last-show fare ... I'll leave the rest for when I finish up the story, but let's just intone that, for what I'm sure his payment was, there was a lot more rough for a lot fewer diamonds than the MGM wanted.

   And as for the vanuted writeups, once the calendar hit December, the logical day to release them became immediately clear. If you haven't figured it out by now, well, maybe you're just extremely focused on your own Judaism.


December 6, 2004 - A Treatise On Treatises
   Dallas 43, Seattle 39: As someone who more or less watches Monday Night Football every week due to work, this game was a blowout one way, a bigger blowout the other way, a miraculous Seattle cover -- they were giving seven -- an annoying bettor's loss and an angering defeat all in one three hour package.

   Not that I actually like Seattle, but for a team that was supposed to be good and is often given the respect of a good team, they suck more than the Rams. While I'm far from one of the people openly wailing because the NFC is so awful, the fact that one of those two will get to host a playoff game would be hilarious if they won't probably win the game and advance to the Divisional round.

   The Frenzy Will Not Be Televised: Regarding the above Seattle (-7) cover, I cared only for entertainment purposes. What keeps me focused on the NFL is the paper's win-a-dinner pick contest, for which I've won 10 games, 10 games and 9 games (with 2 pushes) the last three weeks.

   This has always been more interesting to me than fantasy football, which I can thankfully cease caring about again because my teams went 1-2 this week. With the win coming in the league played without any monetary compensation, my domination there was assured many, many weeks ago.

   In the same vein, were I to solely bet the games I recommend to the readers of the paper, I'd be up 800 units ... whatever that means.

The Goal Is Still To Score, Right?
-- This seems an underrated choice for 'column that gets me a whole bunch of angry letters.' After all, it does sort of generally spit in the face of sportsmanship and come out in realistic support of the BCS. Citizens, to your keyboards!

   • I will say this ... the presence of this site regarding my actual journalism work has changed perceptions, and my mind as a whole.

   Whereas before I would write my stories and columns, submit them and generally be proud of myself, I now sit petrified of Sly and The Bruce's grammatical attacks -- not that they're unwarranted, but that I and the rest of the sports department are apparently powerless to stop them.

   It's not that I don't have a grasp on grammar, at least I don't think it is ... it's simply that I'm more enamored with writing, and what I put out simply flows and doesn't think about whether every participles is cushioned enough to not dangle. I'm quite glad I get the attacks I do here, since I'd like to think in some small way, it's helping.

   Course, having the feeling the actual topics of the columns were getting discussed as well would be nice.

   It's no secret my fellow sports staffers and I are probably the inferior copy editors in the office ... the one nice thing about giving one of my columns to my pals on the news side is I know there's at least a 60 percent less chance something egregiously stupid I've done will make it to the printing press.

   Insert your own favorites here.


   Now that that's over, let's get back to the things that are really important -- whether this DVD would be a good thing to give me for Christmas, or would hearing Oasis not suck for an extended period just remind how sad it is that they now, well, suck.

   This is as close as I thnk we'll come to me publicizing a wish list of gifts. That, in and of itself, may be the saddest thing on the Internet short of roughly a third of the LiveJournals in existence. For example, a recent LJ post picked entirely to prove my point:

1 down, 3 to go. the 1 i just took wasn't as bad as i thought it was going to be. the multiple choice questions were all the same as the ones on last fall's test, which i just happened to have a copy of...hah! anyways, too bad i didn't know all the answers even when i had a ton of mess sitting in front of me to find the answers from. i looked at some of those questions and was like "wtf?" so i just bubbled in an answer when the question came. i think i'm going to sell some of my books back tomorrow...so that i have money to go eat harvest moon tomorrow...and so i can finish my christmas shopping.
-- Thanks, shuturface82!

   It's at moments like this I regret ever saying everyone should be able to come up with something to write about every day. Not because people listen to me, but because it officially makes me part of the problem.


December 5, 2004 - Letting Off Anchor Steam
   Live Free (of Pedophilia) Or (You Will) Die: There's vigilante justice, then there's killing registered sex offenders for the public good.

The case has become more complicated than a simple question of right and wrong. The sordid histories of Trant's victims, his impassioned testimony on the witness stand, and his use of an Internet list to track down his targets have infused the case with controversy and conflicting senses of justice.

He is not considered the hero he thought he would become in April 2003, when he stabbed one man and lit fires at two buildings where at least seven convicted sex offenders lived. But he was able to persuade a Superior Court jury not to convict him of attempted murder in his trial on the stabbing charge, even after he took the witness stand and admitted he used a kitchen knife to assault Lawrence Sheridan, who had been convicted of sexually assaulting a child in 1999.

On trial in June for the stabbing, in a half-hour, uninterrupted speech from the witness stand, Trant looked directly at the jurors who, he believed, sympathized with him. Trant recalled that he pointed a finger at the jury and said: "I wasn't about protecting anyone from my family. This was about protecting you!"

   In other news, steroids is out for Tuesday. Hank Aaron said all that is needed.

"First, since I played the game myself, I know that you can't put something in your body to make you hit a fastball, changeup or curveball," Aaron said Saturday in an exclusive interview. "The only person who can do that is the good Lord. But, at that age (40), you have to ask: Did he accomplish all of this by rejuvenating his strength from day to day with those substances? I know that when you reach a certain age, you just don't bounce back as quickly as you think you can when you're playing all of those games.

"Drugs won't help you hit the ball. But can they make you recuperate consistently enough to hit the kind of home runs that these guys are hitting?" Aaron paused, sighed and added, "Let me say this. Any way you look at it, it's wrong."

   An Informal Pole: Just out of curiosity, do any of you know anyone else who has a 20-foot lighted flag pole out in front of their house? Even if, like here, it's kinda off to the side of the house.

   We'd have the most talked about home in Feeding Hills ... if we didn't live a half-mile off a main road.


   • This year will be the third of three that I miss the paper's annual Christmas/holiday party since I'm working when it's being held. I'll even miss the party being held by a fellow member of the night crew just so we all have a party to go to.

   I did, however, get to go feel like a spy at the holiday party of Springfield's NBC affiliate.

   Let me tell you. Some people like alcohol.

   That's pretty much all you're getting.

   Though from what I gather, Julie has pretty much told her coworkers that not only do I walk on water in my spare time, I turn it into wine and give it to orphans to keep warm during the cold winter months.

   Not that there's anything wrong with that, though the brats ought to learn not to guzzle the stuff.


December 4, 2004 - Townie Karaoke
   Boston University 7, UMass Amherst 1: I've been told I am not allowed to comment further on this outcome, even the part where BU scored two goals in the time it took me to drive a mile.

   So instead, let's note that national No. 2 Boston College not only lost Friday, but couldn't even beat winless-on-the-road Providence tonight. Thankfully, I suspect everyone in The Heights were too drunk to notice.

   Finishing The Picture: While it wasn't as joyous as "three of five" at last weekend's crashed reunion, I did discover tonight that girlfriend No. 1, whom was dated in the latter stages of 1998, is living with the guy she likely cheated on me with six years ago.

   So, to recap ... well, let's not. I think that might finally push me over into the "too weird" category. Besides, it'll make perfect chaff if that site plan ever comes to fruition.


   • Hey, at least it's not steroids.

   Not surprisingly, steroids are well out in front as Tuesday's potential column topic. Thus, I'd like to thank those of you who commented on said topic, since it'll all get weighed in.

   The advantages of having several days to analyze a topic, even at the cost of being the last one on the pile, is it gives you several days to think and avoid looking like an idiot.


December 3, 2004 - Veiled Hockey References
   A Non-Baseball Playoff Story: While I was in New York for the ALCS, I came across a lot of people pushing a lot of things on the street. One of the ones that stood out were the two girls kindly chatting with passers-by in front of the Times Square Doubletree. Perhaps not wanting to shout too loud, they were asking with some fervor for people to take "free TV tickets".

   Not that my partner would have allowed us to do anything not on the day planner when we woke up, but my natural curiosity led me to look at just what they were offering in their hands.

   They were tickets to McEnroe.

The show was averaging 75,000 viewers a night, less than half of the viewership for business programming in the time slot before "McEnroe" went on the air. On some nights, it didn't get a Nielsen Media Research rating at all, meaning the audience was too small to measure.

   I do now feel a little better about laughing while still in their earshot.

   Why Fresh City Has Become My Crusade: As I do, I stopped for dinner tonight on the Mass Pike, accumulating a bill of $8.06 and setting myself up to receive four dreaded pennies as part of my change.

   The clerk went ahead and gave me all silver -- 95 cents. Extra money, just for my convenience!

   And they feed you!

   Oh, to earn enough money for a franchise ... I'll never go grocery shopping again.


   • We don't really do the hockey updates anymore for obvious reasons, but tonight's Boston University 3, Boston College 2 would have made a hell of a one.

   700 wins for Jack Parker, with the latest in BC (and Hockey East's) final visit to tin-roofed Walter Brown Arena.

The decisive goal was enough to make one wonder whether the ghosts of Walter Brown wanted to make sure BU would laugh last in Hockey East play at the venue. Eagle freshman defenseman Mike Brennan had the puck at his feet outside his blue line but caught an edge and fell down, setting up a two-on-one for the Terriers.

Zancanaro's shot was a beauty from the left-wing side, beating Kaltiainen high in the far corner for the decisive goal and Parker's 700th win, which came after three consecutive losses, including a 7-3 drubbing at Colorado College last Saturday.

"Scotty Owens, the coach of Colorado College, said to me before the game started, 'Hey Coach, why don't you get your 700th against BC? That would be better,' Parker said "And I said, 'Scotty, if you could guarantee me that I'd get my 700th against BC, I'd walk out of here right now!"

   Now 7-1 in the league, I could very easily go see the gang play Saturday night, but something tells me I shouldn't push my luck. After all, I did see this in what just might my final visit to the old house.

   Say what you will, but in a couple of weeks, the number 3,806 just won't have as much meaning.


December 2, 2004 - I Make Awesome Covers
   A New Experiment: I have some things cooked up for the site in 2005, not the least of which is what I've tentatively called the "Good/Bad Monitor." Far less complex than what anyone could possibly think, it would simply be attached to each day's update, listing it as either a "good" day or a "bad" day for later tallying.

   Just one more way to get a person scared of numbers to address their very existence. Though it really did seem a far better idea before I saw it spelled out.

   Jason Giambi: Steroid use, you have your new poster boy.

   And what a poster he's selling.

Jason Giambi's Statline

   But, given how people have responded to me after each time I've written about steroids, you don't care if everyone in the majors is on the juice. So I'm just another sportswriter playing moral cop before an audience of zero.

   Call me crazy ... I just think it's sad to see people throwing their lives away, cheating both themselves and the game. Cliche as that sounds.


   • New Year's Eve is coming up, and as always, America will have a multitude of television choices to select from when they're too drunk to remember to change the calendar.

ABC:
Dick Clark's New Years' Rockin Eve
Host: Dick Clark

FOX:
New Year's Eve Special
Host: Ryan Seacrest

NBC:
New Year's Eve with Carson Daly
Host: Carson Daly

   That, friends, is why people go out for the night.


December 1, 2004 - Boiling Over
   The People's Plaudits: Another letter to add to the pile.

Subject: DVD Article
Date: Tue, 30 Nov 2004
From: FenwayNation Editor-in-Chief
To: jcouture at s-t dot com

   Jon -

   Great article on the Sox DVD. I agree completely with your assessment. I only hope the NESN effort is longer and more comprehensive in its look at the full season.

   I'm posting a link to your article on FenwayNation.

   Best,

   --
   Ernie ____
   Editor-in-Chief
   FenwayNation
   http://www.fenwaynation.com

   Two million hits can't be wrong.

   In the same vein, there were actually a couple articles on Page 2 that would have been worthy of such a letter, which really doesn't happen much considering how funny all their writers think they are -- VH1 should dedicate an episode of "Best Week Ever" to them. The Super Bowl Championship Series is outstanding, especially since I typically give the BCS a pass just because I don't care enough to do otherwise, and Bill Simmons is, well, sometimes he makes me remember why I liked him in the first place. Though even when he does, he can't stay the course.

THE REAL WORLD: PHILADELPHIA
At this point, the Real World franchise is like an innovative rock band that peaked after its third album, had a brief resurgence a few years later, then kept putting out crummier and crummier albums until you forgot why you liked them in the first place. Just an unconscionably awful show.

-- ... that you keep watching and writing about anyway.

   On the plus side, though, guess which early paragraph in that piece hits a liiiittle too close to home. I'd just up and quote it, but then that just wouldn't be any fun.

   So, How About That Weather?: Remember all that stuff I said about California being the default place for people to move, since even if you're homeless, at least you won't be cold? Rescinded.

California's lengthening cold snap continued to break records, damaged more of the state's strawberry crop and raised concerns about the health of homeless people.

In San Diego County, the overnight low Thursday morning in Ramona was 25 degrees -- the coldest spot in the county, according to the National Weather Service. Freeze warnings had been posted overnight in the central and southern San Joaquin Valley as well as in southeastern California and frost warnings were common elsewhere. The cold snap set in Sunday night -- and forecasters had little relief in sight.

Small said Wednesday that average overnight temperatures will remain in the 30s for most of California in the days to come. Beginning Sunday, he added, there's a 30 percent to 50 percent chance of rain in coastal regions.

   And I was ready to open up a story that said, "Many Californians have never seen weather reach the 50s, and are panicking over what to do with themselves."

   So for once, the cold isn't a problem where I am. And windy as it was in Whale City today -- there were warnings of gusts all day long -- I'm pretty sure no one's person was deprived of their head and torso.

Windy Legs
-- Course, I'm looking at it wondering, "Why don't I see
his upper body sticking out of a building in the background?"

   • Tonight was the end of an era, an era that in some small way sees me doing what it is I'm doing.

Brokaw Bye-Bye

NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw delivers his closing remarks during his final broadcast, in New York, on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

   NBC Nightly News has been the Couture family's choice since as far back as I can remember, and considering Tom Brokaw has been behind the desk for 23 years, he and I have shared quite a few 6:30-7 p.m. half-hours whether I wanted to or not. Though most of the time I did ... I never strayed, and generally looked at both Dan Rather and Peter Jennings with disdain.

   I found out tonight that one of my co-workers thinks Jennings is an America-hating jackoff, but really, things never got that violent. I simply thought Rather was a dweeb, and that the other two networks had really crappy graphics.

   Yeah, I said it, and I meant it.


   When you make the decision to forego riches and get into any form of journalism, there were obviously people somewhere along the way who subconsciously pushed you in that direction. Yes, I recently added Brokaw's half-drunken, half-congested voice to my collection of Bad Celebrity Takeoffs, but the man ruled, overseeing what really was the final great period for his position.

   End of an era, and all that stuff. I'd say more, but I'm still shocked at just how much the tribute at the end of the broadcast looked like what you do for someone famous who died. Right down to the still of their head with the name off to the left.

   He's not dead, people. He's just going to Montana.

   Where he will continue to have better hair than Matt "Remember When I Was a TV Heartthrob Before I Went Bald?" Lauer.


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