December 31, 2005 - End of the Star
   Sobriety's Not The Issue: If all goes according to plan, tonight I will be spending the calendoric changeover -- and yes, I'm aware there's no way that's actual English -- in Pelham, Mass. Supposedly, there's going to be a nerd party there in a house with roughly $1,000 worth of alcohol there.

   How do I know this? Because they came to our little collective with a list, listing what they had bought.

   Told you it was a nerd party.


   • Thirsting for more of what you've already seen?

   Yeah, I didn't think you were either.

There's always a story behind a night when you end up at an International House of Pancakes.
-- A story, and usually indigestion. (7/3)

I do love Whale City, even if Summerfest is just an excuse for folk music fans to park all over our lawn and leave wet diapers in the downstairs bathroom. Don't they know I have to shower in those bathrooms?
-- The exciting 'blown-up hot water heater' weekend. (7/3)

Just stop wearing a freakin' shirt and tie to work ... that stuff creeps us sports guys out. While we're not exactly on par with young Darling's "The Curse Is Over, Bitches!" tee from the weekend, the only thing involving loafers that goes in the oasis of the newsroom is what happens when we're all eating Chinese food at 8:30 at night.
-- Welcoming the new boss. (7/11)

How heartwarming. I know when I think of my childhood -- before those goony goth teens started walking around and giving everyone "the eyes" -- I remember most fondly the time my family spent inside the J.C. Penney, trying on pants. It's the capitalism that makes me smile.
-- Holyoke Mall institutes a curfew. (7/13)

With a shot at a birdie and a 39, I hit a 9-iron off the clubhouse.
-- I really, really, really love golf. (7/14)

Tonight at the ballpark, they had these jalapeno poppers in the cafeteria that I could have eaten at least 50 of had I not been worried about public perception or causing my stomach to fizzle into a sulfuric acid production machine. They had this nice cornmeal breading with some spice, and not the usual cream cheese filling ... it was either another better melting cheese or just cream cheese with grease infused in it.
-- I also really, really, really love fried things. (7/15)

I've come to the conclusion it would be weird. But I've also come to the conclusion there will be a point on day where I get to discover that first-hand simply because I miss my friends and all the things that used to define who I am. Because I don't want to become the person everyone just forgets about because he's never there. I miss people, which is good, but I can't expect them to miss me when I'm never, ever, ever around.
-- Man, you cover one World Series, and I'm bitching about everything. (7/18)

I know that if I lived more in the middle of the league, I'd probably go to 20 games a year just based on proximity and quality of evening out. But I don't, so it's hard to say when it'll come around again. I just hope when it does, I'm not sitting behind the mother of the Falmouth pitcher, who felt the need to loudly day "Beautiful!" every time her son threw a strike. Not even that it was loud support, but that every time it was "Beautiful!" and nothing else.
-- The first Cape League game, and her son lost 14-1. (7/21)

I've always said the WaterFires in Providence would be better if they were actual water fires -- coat the rivers in gasoline, then throw down a match and be damned about the safety regulations. They're still pretty cool without.
-- Though I'm looking into the flaming gas. (7/23)

Pucking Van
-- I got new neighbors, and took pictures of their van. (7/28)

This Clay Aiken show COULD NOT POSSIBLY SUCK WORSE,
and it hasn't even begun yet. Dear God, hold me.
-- The Clay Aiken concern. And man, did it get better. (7/29)


After three-putting the signature, 197-yard 16th following a perfect 7-wood, I drive into the left woods. Somehow, the ball ends up in a clearing within the trees -- I knew I hadn't heard it hit anything -- and I punch out to 100-something yards in the middle of the fairway on an inch-wide strip between divots. Despite the luck, I push my approach right and it lands pin-high, but next to the green in the rough. Lob wedge, flies perfectly, lands right where I wanted it to, rolls right as I saw the break to be, falls in for a four.
-- Golfing highlight of the year, and it was at TPC Boston. (8/1)

And because this story really can't be relayed well in the newspaper, David Ortiz prematurely ended Terry Francona's pregame press conference by taking a dump in the manager's office.
-- Far and away my favorite memory of the 2005 season. (8/4)

The more I sit here and think about it, the more I actually think I enjoyed it. Julie felt like Katie Holmes brought absolutely nothing to the table, but I honestly didn't notice. She had a very simple role to play given she wasn't the "damsel in distress" but for one small portion of the film ... it was her job to stand on the hill at the end with her nipples poking against a silk blouse. That was it. She did it. End of story.
-- Batman Begins. And really, I don't even like Katie Holmes. (8/5)

It's called "take your mic box and throw it through the flat-screen TV," Bob. It's called "Shut the f--k up Carville, you God damned alien baby. Loved you in 'Old School' ... I'm sure those beady eyes got you loads of tail." This crap isn't hard. If you're going to overreact and/or stage a flipout, put a little effort into it. Make me believe you're not just trying to look all tough for whomever it benefits you to look tough for, you withered old sack.
-- Helping Robert Novak plan his next on-screen tirade. (8/6)

On his 21st birthday, the case my brother had to hear as a member of a jury was an "open and gross lewdness" case regarding a man who was naked but for a pair of socks in the dressing room of a Springfield Goodwill store. As Matt put it to me, it'll be a long time before the memory of the words "flaccid penis" are rinsed from his memory banks.
-- This is why you lie at jury duty. (8/10)

In watching Boston go down 4-0 on a modified Etch-A-Sketch television, tie it at five while shoveling fried clams into my maw and get the final strikeout on the radio, it occurred to me that I simply don't think any of the other three American League playoff teams -- Los Anaheim, Oakland and Chicago, in all likelihood -- have what it takes to stop another pennant.
-- Given enough time, I can convince myself of anything. (8/12)

Lauder Beyond Paradise Men Deodorant Stick, $15: Masculine and exotic in one stick. This non-whitening deodorant glides on smoothly to provide all-day protection. Scent suggests mystery and sensuality.
-- Analyzing expensize deodorants. (8/15)

If I haven't said it before, not only do I not understand the "sports collectibles" market, I can't stand it either.
-- The discovery of press pins. And yes, this was written before I sold one for $120. (8/18)

I very quickly remembered that I was a big Billy Joel fan growing up. To the point where the first tape I ever bought was some Disney compilation -- Simply Mad About The Mouse -- that featured him and that the first tape I ever received was a copy of "Storm Front" with "We Didn't Start The Fire" stuck first. The guy doing the music was outstanding, as was the band. The actual dialogue-free show? Well, it was impressive, even if I will never figure out how anger is best portrayed by a lot of pirouettes. A lot of pirouettes.
-- The Cooch family hits Broadway. (8/22-24)

Supposedly, a couple of Western Mass. gas stations were selling premium for $3.29 yesterday, which would more than simply end the quest to find the first $3.00 gasoline in Massachusetts, and make us one step closer to being Californina. Unfortunately, this is just a rumor, and could be due to it being a full-serve station.
-- All of a day later, I was paying $3.11 for cheap gas. (8/30)

At first note, I was ready to openly admit that I enjoy this song. And then, it suddenly struck me exactly what it was saying. That you should not fuck with every kid in your high school who thinks he's going to be a rock star because, well, he will be. And he'll totally diss you then. Because you'll be all fat and unhappy with kids at, like, 26. And he'll be all up in Avril Lavigne's pants. Or skorts. Or whatever punkish children wear at the point following your diss.
-- Everyone loves 'Sk8er Boi.' (9/2)

Flavors like "Limon," which in case you were unaware, is Spanish for "a dolphin's uvula." Fruit chews that really capture Mexico's rich culture of no-prescription-necessary pharmacies, cock fights and unemployment ... I mean, if you're going to claim that a nation rich in heritage can be captured in a fucking mass-produced candy, why not go the whole nine yards and just start calling them all wetbacks?
-- I just really don't like Ryan Seacrest. (9/3)

Barring anomalies, you're in a large venue which a whole bunch of people who really want to be there. The opening acts, even if you like them, seem inferior because they're on someone else's stage, playing for someone else's crowd. The main act comes out, and all of a sudden beer's raining down on your head. Fireworks go off 15 minutes into the show. The lead singer shouts "New England" about 35 times, and everyone goes nuts because ... "HEY! WE LIVE THERE!" Then he shouts that this one is "for all the fucking politicians" and everyone goes crazy because ... "HEY! I FUCKIN' HATE POLITICIANS TOO!"
-- The Green Day show ... you know, the one where I ate chicken off the ground. (9/3)

Looters
-- Society remains strong in New Orleans. (9/5)

Matt Boggie once said, in his sort of farewell e-mail after graduating from BU, that I would be presented with the most incredible opportunities one could ever imagine, and that I would complain about all of them. This seems apropos after today's trip to the U.S. Open. Where I sat in a luxury box. And then sat courtside, but became bored and went back to the luxury box.
-- Thanks again, Vito. (9/8)

After more than three years as Whale City's Favorite Tuesday Sports Columnist -- which I never did get put on a nameplate -- my weekly column has been moved to Wednesdays. To me, this is the equivelant of moving from the high-profile strip mall in town to the one with the abandoned furniture store, a Media Play -- not a Best Buy, but a store I once saw selling Empire Records for $25 and the superior Mr. Baseball for like $4 -- and the local bagel shop.
-- After everything I wrote about work, THIS is what got me in trouble. (9/13)

In eating my 100th meal at Subway in the last 21 days, I somehow convinced a women in a Rascal that spicy mustard was such a good idea, she should have the clerk unwrap her made sandwich and add it in. I didn't have the heart to tell her it probably wouldn't be as good mixed with all the mayonnaise that was in there. But you live, you learn.
-- I'm now officially considered a 'Subway regular,' by the way. (9/17)

Tess Smith
-- Dissecting Tess Smith at the Emmys. Not quite literally. (9/18)

In so much as NCAA Football 2006 is an excellent game, the fact that your girlfriend continually gets more attractive as you improve your character is beyond merely being priceless. As a freshman, you start with the high school sweetheart who I swear is a guy in drag. Then, a plump chick in glasses. Then one in a low-cut top with Satan eyes. As my sophomore season started as a returning Frosh All-American, I actually had someone one might call a 'looker.'
-- I never did rent it again. (9/21)

The entire episode I saw was in Sardinia. There as an Italian model who took off his pants, then there was a photo shoot, then they were on a Mexican designer's obscene yacht, then she was making pizzas and in the middle there was windsurfing and cigarettes and parties. The whole thing was like riding that spinning thing on the playground ... you know, the item designed to make children vomit. Ride that, but instead of just getting off it and falling down, imagine being put in a car, then thrown out of it at 75 miles per hour. The show is so disorienting, when you suddenly discover Tara Reid looks better in a sweatshirt than she does with her breasts falling out of any of at least a half dozen outfits, it seems entirely normal. When you realize they tuck all the credits in the beginning and in commercial buffers, so the show just stops being on at some point, you wonder if it's actually ever over.
-- 'Taradise' after getting my teeth drilled. (9/21)

Butter Cow
-- This year's Big E 'Butter Cow' went badass. (9/25)

An article in Sunday's paper about Baseball Chapel quoted [Washington's Ryan] Church as saying that he had turned to Moeller for advice about his former girlfriend, who was Jewish. "I said, like, Jewish people, they don't believe in Jesus. Does that mean they're doomed? Jon nodded, like, that's what it meant. My ex-girlfriend! I was like, man, if they only knew. Other religions don't know any better. It's up to us to spread the word," Church said.
-- Baseball players are stupid. (9/27)


On my first-ever ride on the Chicago subway/elevated train, it was about five stops before the pair of kids wearing all black -- both in very baggy pants and chunky boots, but only one of which painted his nails -- sat down and started talking about that show where the chick completely got her head shot off for killing one of the lieutenant's men. Then it was trying to identify the guy who played the Headless Horseman in Sleepy Hollow. Not Ray Park, who was the body, but Christopher Walken. Apparently, the now deceased Christopher Walken given they were talking about him exclusively in the past tense. Know who else is cool? The guy from Reservoir Dogs, Steve Buscemi. He's totally one of their favorite actors. And "The Dead Zone" is an awesome show, though the one in the Insane Clown Posse T-shirt stopped watching it right around when Anthony Michael Hall's character started having the visions of the Senator and the end of the world. And he really is getting much better at painting his nails, but that only came after he cracked out his iBook, couldn't understand how it had gotten dirty when it was in the case and had told his friend he should just eBay for a new laptop.
-- The kids on the train from O'Hare. (10/4)

Why did the female lead have some awful facial blemishes that disappeared for the ultimate scene? Why did she go to a drag queen for a makeover? Why did the female soccer team's best player have a moustache? Why did every time their supersonic shots tore up the field, it fixed itself ... except for at the end? How did they not lose their endorsement deal for pummeling the Board of Directors? How did the main character completely recover from a severe knee sprain via either like two minutes or a halftime pep talk?
-- I didn't really understand 'Shaolin Soccer.' But I liked it. (10/5)

From U.S. Cellular
-- After 11 days, the 'Baseball Blowout!' ended. (10/8)

Just as a matter of public knowledge, I thought to myself today, "You know, now that the Red Sox season is over, it would be a good time to start actually working on a site redesign," which would be the first one since this started in May 2001.
-- That joke never gets old. (10/10)

Me in the Globe.
-- I finally made it in The Boston Globe, and I lead the update with 'My Humps.' (10/12)

Free JonCouture.com
-- Though this was better than both. Thanks, Nick! (10/12)

New No. 2 writer on the Patriots beat. After all, I do have experience covering defending champions who fail to defend.
-- I held that post for roughly 36 hours. (10/14)

I'm guessing Roger Ebert never played the Penis Game.
-- I'm sticking to that guess. (10/27)

Most installations of a $6 paper towel rack do not require the use of a hacksaw.
-- The best ones, however, always do. (10/28)

Monday: Showered before 3 p.m., drove home.
Tuesday: Cooked pork chops with apple and thyme.
Wednesday: Video games, most notably Blitz: The League, which won't let you drug players if they tear their MCL.
Thursday: The movie 'Waiting,' after which you might never eat out again.
Friday: College hockey, and a celebration of Collegiate Failure Chris Bourque.
Saturday: More college hockey, with an attempt at internal drowning via Guinness.
Sunday: College bowl in Williamstown, Mass., which was a 90-minute drive away at 7:30 a.m. away and came more than three years after I had graduated what one could call 'college.'
-- "How I spent my autumn vacation." (10/31)

I forgot to include that in my responses to that BU junior who e-mail interviewed me for a school assignment. Not only was she surprised to learn I was a BU grad and had previously worked near her hometown in Nashua, my verbosity apparently inspired her because "I have had journalists come into my class, and they scare the crap out of everyone, to put it lightly." I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that's one of the nicest things that has ever been said to me.
-- I'm a inspiration for the future. (11/1)

Are you absolutely, positively and completely fucking kidding me? Who in the universe has ever, and I mean EVER cooked a Stouffer's French Bread Pizza this way? As someone who grew up on these things when visiting my grandmother's house in Chicopee, I can tell you I never once burned my mouth, never once was saddened by inferior taste, and NEVER ONCE spent 65 MINUTES PREPARING ONE.
-- I'm not buying Bill Simmons' pizza-cooking methods. (11/3)

The Art Project
-- Not the best shot from 'The Art Project,' but one of my favorites. (11/5)

The Colossal Colon
-- This would have beaten it, but I didn't take it. (11/8)

It seems as good a time as ever to mention that $195.97 plus shipping is just slightly more than I would pay for (a) collection of all 21 WrestleManias on DVD. Which isn't to say I wouldn't sign for the package if one of you bought it for me, but really, I think by Internet law I have to show you my boobs before I can start asking for gifts.
-- This then led to me getting a gift at Christmas, and proving I'm talented enough not to have to show my boobs. (11/13)

It's enough to make you wonder how I ended up there, and whether there was anyone else in America who led into that hour by watching "Mad Money" on CNBC. Lest you think I actually invest in the stock market, understand I only watch it because I think his sound effects and graphics are funny. And white people greet him with "Boo-yah." And he sometimes throws his chair.
-- I'm an excellent investor. (11/16)

And I want Harry and Hermione to get together. I don't exactly know why, I don't exactly know what it means ... I just kinda felt like it has to happen at some point. So someone please alert me when that happens.
-- I'm now aware it doesn't happen. Stupid J.K. Rowling. ... I mean, YOU'RE ALL LOSERS! (11/19)

I suppose I might also have swallowed some Listerine later in the evening, though a better guess would be it actually burned through the soft flesh of my gums and entered my bloodstream directly. When they say you can feel it killing germs, they neglect to mention the parts of your soul that are leeched out with it.
-- Add Listerine to the long list of consumer products I can't operate. (11/20)

"This is an outrage! We are letting our kids practice ASSASINATING THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA FOR ENTERTAINMENT! This is not only sick, it is disgusting. This 'game' is nothing more than a beginner's guide to assassinating the President. Practice makes perfect they always say. Well this is one case where we do NOT need to be giving people the chance to become perfect at something."
-- Insightful commentary on a 'JFK Reloaded' petition. (11/22)

I ate a lot. I sledded. I got stuck in a field. The car cleared 100,000 in the metropolis of Becket, Mass. And there was hitting. Lots of hitting. You haven't lived until your 13-year-old cousin, for lack of anything better to do, starts hitting you in the head.
-- How everyone should spend their Thanksgiving holiday. (11/24)

On Friday night, I learned for the first time that engagements rings are worn on the left hand, which is why they sell things called "right-hand rings."
-- Meanwhile, three good friends actually got engaged in 2005. (11/26)

The reason why INXS is INXS, last I checked, is because they're the band whose lead singer may have died masturbating with a belt around his neck.
-- J.D. Fortune is no friend of mine. (11/29)

   You'll note I have no quotes from Decemeber. And there is a reason for that.

Cooch Mosaic

   Because after that, there's nothing else you could possibly need.

   See you in 2006, everybody.


December 30, 2005 - Star of the End
   Again With The Nothing: There's really no subtlety when giving a gift after the holiday, even if it is FedEx's fault. I never did find out why my package went from Georgia to Connecticut to Rhode Island and back to Connecticut before even one delivery attempt was made to my apartment.

   Course, this is nowhere near as much fun as the story of my brother's TV. Asking a clerk at Circuit City if he could check to see if there were any of the TVs I wanted left, I didn't note that the 20" TV/DVD I was after sat above a tag for an entirely unrelated 24" TV only. In fact, I didn't notice it until the first TV was on my doorstep.

   That was a fun way to disappear from work for two hours, let me tell you.


   • I think if I had it to do all over again, I'd change the format for Navel Gaze 2005. For four days, I'd quote every entry once ... three months at a time.

   Alas, it's already too late. So let's just get this over with and hope I said enough stupid things to make this worth everyone's while.

   I know I'm not worried.

It was just a great place to watch a hockey game, even if the team that played there wasn't as good as they used to be. It was the only place I know of where play could be stopped for the puck hitting the ceiling -- and yes, it was once tonight -- but it was still a great place to watch a hockey game. Hopefully on Monday night, BU will open another place that is too.
-- Goodbye Walter Brown, hello Agganis. (1/2)

I get an email from my GF this am that says "Read This Now!"...I thought it was a note from my ex! No, she had googled me and looked through some critics articles and found your Oct 22nd posting about the mic...I read it and laughed my ass off. I'm so sorry about that! I don't remember it --- that month was insane for all of us. I was probably so focused on getting the bytes that I didn't pay attention.
-- MLB.com's Casey Stern drops by, without running his mic cord through my hair this time. (1/3)

So, using the logic that there are cooking instructions on the back of the Pop Tarts box because people have called to ask for help, this means previous Clue Crew applications have included a video of a mini Alex Trebek in a candle-lit room, also including extreme flattering and groin piercing displays.
-- Nice, considering the 'Jeopardy!' resolution for 2006. (1/4)

A magazine which, along with articles I don't care about, includes reader letters like this one:
In Good Hands
Thank you, Carnival, for looking out for your passengers. My family and I were on Carnival Triumph (our fourth cruise with Carnival) when Hurricane Jeanne hit Florida. Because your company cares, we arrived home safely. I am looking forward to our 2005 cruise on Carnival Glory. Thanks for caring.
-- I hate cruise people. (1/8)

With Shawn Green in Arizona and Adrian Beltre in Seattle, however, let's just say I'm glad they're my No. 2 team. Kirk Gibson ain't exactly walking through that door, and if he does, he's probably going to look a lot more like Hee-Seop Choi.
-- I told you the Dodgers would suck. (1/12)

"I'm quite a homemaker." -- At which point she opens the dryer and pulls out her dog, Ginger.
-- The recap of Cribs: Mariah Carey. (1/13)

It's not every day a person impulse buys a 10-pound bag of carrots.
-- It's also not every day someone writes about it. (1/17)

On the plus side, however, our visit will enable us to attend the AFC Championship Party, which I've been told is, and I quote, "the balls."
-- Glad I enjoyed it, since it cost me a trip to the Super Bowl (1/19)

The Bill Simmons Intern Contest: I post this not so much for me, but because there are plenty out there who would kill for the honor of getting to be the man's Internet lackey for nine months.
-- I think, in the end, three contestants stopped by. (1/27)

Though I will say if you get a chance to catchup with the already-aired episodes of the latest Surreal Life as we did tonight, that's some well-spent TV time. When you consider there's also a message board with hard-hitting opinions ("DA BRAT IS THE ONLY MORAL PERSON ON THE SHOW") and exploring questions ("do girls fart?"), it just goes to show all quality entertainment doesn't cost $34.95.
-- And this was before Jose Canseco and Omarosa showed up. (1/30)


Our GM was questioned about the Willis pick in '03, and lambasted in '04 for the JP move. With Bledsoe on the way out, all we need is for JP to have even a decent season and the Bills will make the playoffs. How long until Tommy D gets a little credit for knowing more than you gurus?
-- Hope that worked out for that e-mailing Bills fan. (2/1)

"I would love to see one of these moles in action," said George Shea, chairman of the International Federation of Competitive Eating. "It makes one wonder if there's an opportunity for a cross-species contest. I think there'd be interest in both the human and mole populations."
-- The star-nosed mole ... how can you not love competitive eating? (2/8)

With their Lifetime Achievement Grammy received tonight, Led Zeppelin now combines with the Rolling Stones to have two awards. Toto and Christopher Cross have a combined eight. Throw in Bobby McFerrin? Eighteen. Click.
-- Dissecting the Grammys. (2/13)

Trophy Trio
-- Spending the day with an old friend. (2/14)

We must always remember history, especially since I have a fear Chris Bourque will become it after his freshman season. I only hope his father has instilled in him the importance of a superfluous college education.
-- Apparently, he couldn't handle even that. (2/15)

Obviously, I'm not one much for rumors, and she "is tired of rumors starting" and "sick of being followed," but a credible source has passed on a piece of information I feel I should get out there. Quite simply, it could change the entire landscape of Massachusetts ... probably not for the better as much as the drunker, but still change it. Apparently, the oft-mentioned certain Hollywood starlet will be heading to college in the fall, and her college of choice will be the one, the only, the Boston University.
-- Apparently, they weren't all that credible. (2/18)

Count me among the group that never really "got it." It's not that I ever disliked any of his work, but I had to read "'72" for a class in college on top of having seen his ESPN.com. I spent most of us not so much doubting whether any of it had actually happened, but why I should be so impressed. Because he uses Odd capitalization and talks in such a way you're not really sure whether to believe him? Course, the fact that his final column was about inventing a game called "shotgun golf," involving the very implement he apparently ended his life with, is an irony to be lost on no one.
-- Hunter S. Whocares (2/20)

Agua con gas is "water with gas," or the sparkling water Bethany wanted on the plane. Club soda, if you will. If you were to put your finger in it, not only would it look all deformed because of light refraction, it would get covered with bubbles. Agua sin gas is "water without gas," or regular water. Straight from the tap stuff. If you were to stick your finger in it, nothing would happen, except for Meg slapping you because, "Eww! Your hands are dirty! They touch doorknobs!"
-- What this has to do with tapas, I'm not really sure. (2/26)

A link sent to me under the premise of "What WON'T Deion do for money?," the machine that essentially offers the chance to open a 7-11 in your own home. The initial instinct is to wonder just who eats enough hot dogs to warrant buying a $50 machine devoted to them, but ah ... you can use it like a grill as well. Clearly, Deion Sanders uses this machine to cook all the salmon he must eat to stay strong, just as I'm sure George Foreman's house has no normal stove because he just grills everything. And clearly, it was just a coincidence the first interviewee in the commercial was wearing a No. 21 Cowboys jersey.
-- The Deion Sanders Hot Dog Express (2/27)

8. Spit on the Eagle painted at center ice in Boston College's Conte Forum.
-- Best of the '10 Things You've Never Done, But I Have.' (2/28)

I never spent $10 there in a week, but I did live at the both extreme ends of campus with the GSU in the middle. I did have my computer, which my sophomore year roommate was nice enough to fill with horse porn. And that only sort of an exaggeration. There was room for more horse porn.
-- Ostendibly, a discussion of the former BU Games Room. (3/2)

"It's only an appetizer in spring training," Jeter said. "You might as well wait for the regular season and see it all at once." One fan in line yesterday didn't care that she won't see many of the Yankees' 18 All-Stars.

"We're going to get all the Sox. We're going to get half of the Yankees," said Deborah Kellogg-Van Orden of West Springfield, Mass. "They're going to pretend they don't care so they feel better."
-- I just really hate Red Sox fans. (3/6)

This just in, and it is a big one. Carl, get off the phone, Mabel, get into the kitchen, you're gonna want to hear this. CBS News is now projecting that Walter Cronkite has scurvy. In addition, the veteran news anchor may -- and, I repeat, may -- have anthrax. Wait, hold on.. he does have anthrax. Alright, another shocker, right here at CBS. We're now prjecting that Andy Rooney has cholera. Now, many will ask, how did the popular "60 Minutes" curmudgeon contract this rare disease? One theory -- and at this point, it's just a theory -- is that he may have drunk stagnant water from an air conditioner, believing it to be Scotch. Also, he has anthrax.
-- Celebrating Dan Rather's departure, through SNL. (3/9)

But I will say I won't go to work there with the same fervor ever again. That's just a fact, and if it's something I shouldn't be saying aloud, trust me when I tell you there about 500 other things I'm already not saying. I've been saying them to myself in an empty car, in my head, over and over. The things you wish you could say and do, but that you realize aren't worth the trouble or hassle because what's done is done. It's not anger so much as it is pain, the same kind of pain I felt that day now approaching two years ago. ... Never again will I tell someone talent is rewarded. It's not always.
-- I threaten to quit my job for the 14th time. (3/12)

In the parking lot, we pulled up next to a red Ford Taurus, with a Spongebob air freshener on the rear view, a Johnson and Wales sticker in the rear windshield and a pointed license plate frame: "Yield To The Princess" In and of itself, it would have been odd enough. The fact that both the car's side mirrors were completely smashed, one to the point of being hanging off the car? That was just a bonus.
-- Late-night milk buying rules. (3/13)

In actual basketball plaudits, congrats to the Hampshire Regional Red Raiders, who advanced to the Girls Div. 2 state final with this 46-36 win over Oxford. They might have been led by junior interior force Brianne Flanders, but severely spraining her ankle seven minutes in and having to go to the hospital has a way of keeping that from happening. I have now seen her sister play two games in what's becoming a decorated career. In the first game, Hampshire lost, which rarely ever happens. In the second game, she all but breaks her ankle.
-- I've since seen her lose again. (3/16)

Congratulations, hayseeds. I hate to admit it, but I was actually pulling for you, and will be for the rest of the tournament. Which of course means you'll lose in the second round to Michigan State. Really, though, I can't say as I'll be disappointed either way.
-- And fortunately for us all, Vermont did. (3/18)

Schiavo!
-- Terry Schiavo. We hardly knew ye. (3/22)

And so starts a whole lot of rambling about he couldn't believe how that hour magically turned into five minutes in his head. I think he actually said he was "stupified" to the doctor. He also said he could "feel" the doctor going for the lower right tooth, but I later learned Jon did undergo general anethesia because he was talking too much with the concious sedation, that's our boy! Jon mentioned the dream he had; I was there, there was a rainbow colored tunnel, and a tombstone but at the same time he was looking out the window at a fence and told me "the gate is moving." Basically from there it turned into more talk about the time. ... And he said "Jesus Christ" a lot.
-- Julie helps out on my wisdom teeth removal. (3/25)

When drugs are probably what made you so funny, and then you overdose and die in New Jersey, it makes it no less tragic but oddly Catch 22-ish.
-- Mitch Hedberg. Sorry we were late to that Providence show. (3/31)


Yeah, I won't be going back. It wasn't so much the condition of the place, or the fact the shower always dripped, or that the room wasn't much bigger than the double bed, or that I had to reassemble the high speed Internet box and figure out the plug it was in was dead to make it work. It wasn't even that being put next to the maid's closet meant I heard a lot of loud, early morning conversations in Spanish. It was that the far wall from the bed was almost entirely mirror, meaning every time I sat on the bed with my laptop and looked away from the screen, I was staring at myself. Had there not been the doll incident on the train, it would have been far more creepy.
-- Big fan of the Milford Hotel outside of Times Square. (4/2-4)

In a related note, Greg "Fossilman" Raymer was in the room yesterday. This is a man whom people seek out for autographs, who in one week pretty much set himself up for life. The kind of guy who gets mentioned as "in the room" on some idle Wednesday. He's also the kind of guy who wears white ankle socks with brown Teva sandals. As I was discussing with soon-to-be former boss Jon, whose idea the trip was in the first place, he may be a very nice guy, but that doesn't change the fact that he is a tremendous dork.
-- I bet he didn't win $575 that day. (4/6)

Just out of curiosity and for no particular reason ... if the entirety of LiveJournal exploded tomorrow, and the millions upon millions of words written there were lost, would the world really be any worse off?
-- A valid question I keep asking. (4/8)

To say a band was simply "loud" normally isn't a complete explanation, but it feels right about tonight -- three times during their set, SY did what they apparently do a lot of ... just try to create these 2-3 minute walls of nothing but feedback. If they get it going well, it's great. If they don't, it's the joke that just keeps going even though everyone is just kind of hoping it will stop. To me, they hit the first one, but not the last two. That, however, could be a function of me having had to stand in one place for the better part of two hours. I'm not old quite yet, but my knees and lower back do prefer to be moving.
-- A night with Sonic Youth. (4/9)

As for Tiger's miracle shot on 16, even I have to admit that's one of the more incredible things I've ever seen. Though I bet everyone else watching it wasn't screaming "NOOOOO!" in their minds as they watched it roll in the cup.
-- I still can't stand him. (4/10)

By the way, there's a Dunkin Donuts commercial coming up sometime soon that will feature both Theo Epstein and Johnny Damon hocking Iced Lattes. They actually sent us a press release about it, so I'm telling you ... there is no way it will not be awful.
-- It was an awesome ad ... and then they both left. (4/12)

"Coal gives electricity and jobs."
-- Billboard in western Pennsylvania. Among the uniformed people standing above, presumably showing the jobs coal gives? A doctor, who no doubt stays in business treating people for black lung disease. (4/15-18)

Courtesy of our friend from New Orleans, the revelation that Britney Spears's "Oops I Did It Again!" is actually a cover ... of a Louis Armstrong song?! Seriously.
-- I'm not real hard to fool. (4/22)

And when it comes to diet, there's no place to be well aware of how out of line you are than at a bodybuilding competition. In the lobby, they were selling "Energy Scoop," which is a protein-laden ice cream that I assume fits in the average natural bodybuilder's diet. This was along with the requisite food cart, that had only water and Gatorade. Of course, I went off for lunch and ate an entire 12-inch pizza ... it had no vegetables, but it's not like I would have been averse to their placement.
-- The bodybuilding story to end all bodybuilding stories. (4/25)

Despite that, however, tonight was the night at the office most of us hoped would never actually come ... my boss worked his final shift before walking off into the sunset with PartyPoker visor in hand. Well, actually, there was no sunset because it was raining, and he was only holding a paper box dominated by a ceramic rabbit. We did have beer, though. And a couple of cakes. Plus, chess was played. Though not by me, as I was too busy not working. And silently hoping the whole thing was just a bad, bad nightmare.
-- New boss will love me digging this out. (4/30)

Well, the town sucks, but at least you're close to Cape Cod for the two summer months, and not far from Boston and Providence for boozing. I don't know much about the paper, but I used to string for two of its competitors. You get some good prep sports around there. If you like Portuguese girls and whaling museums, this may be the place for you.
-- People comment on our job posting. (5/1)

For example, because I was home, I got to see an "American Idol" results show featuring the survival of "the rocker," Bo Bice. That's what my mother called him, and he certainly is trying to look the part with his big, goofy sunglasses and long air. Me, I think he's been invalidated to be a rocker because, well ... he's on f'ing "American Idol."
-- Opinions are like ... you know. (5/4)

Derby Day
-- The Kentucky Derby outpaces the drunken party. (5/7)

Onterrio Smith, I have to thank you. You have given all of us, the American people, a gift by being caught with this because you like to smoke pot more than making millions in the NFL.
-- The Whizzinator ... gift to sportswriters everywhere. (5/11)

Also, as a note, please note the column uses my first-ever created word -- contrivoversy. I've decided if the Internet has accepted its usage, then it is my duty to attempt to shoehorn in into general usage around the country. Just please don't go making a contrivoversy about it. The world has enough contrivoversies that it doesn't need you making up another one over the usage of contrivoversy.
-- Running with what the Internet gave me. (5/14)

Is it a bad sign when you get a "one size fits all" hat, yet wearing said hat gives you a headache and squeezes blood vessels to the point of chilling the brain a little bit?
-- It still hurts, but not all the time. We suffer sometimes. (5/17)

Maybe you'd heard about the big to-do about Channel 4 sportscaster Bob Lobel and his "appearance" in the comic strip "Get Fuzzy," which often features Boston-specific storylines. Well, now you're going to hear about it here too, because we're getting sued.
-- Much as I'd love to post the cartoon, I need all my money. (5/20)

So tonight was the night of the Free Press anniversary party, which I skipped because of the Red Sox game and apparently a good number of the people I knew skipped because they were at the wedding of one of my former (and current) colleagues. I can only hope none of you were there, wearing yellow ribbons so I'd recognize you at the bar. Though really, given the state of some of the people I met up with after I was done filing tonight, it doesn't exactly seem like we'd have been in a state to converse. Open bar plus "light food" apparently equals blinding inebriation in the journalist's guide to math.
-- I left out the part about smashing the window with the fire extinguisher. (5/21)

I recently had a dream about a highway I was on being blocked by people watching a car wreck, but Chaotic is like causing a car wreck just so you can watch it, and then forcibly stopping every car that comes after you to tell them exactly what you did and how cool it was. It's barely even fun to watch, because as the reviews I'd read had said, it's not so much stupid as it is tremendously sad.
-- The review of 'Britney and Kevin: Chaotic' (5/24)

According to a Coral Gables police report, Collazo dropped his pants, took out his penis and accused his players of not having the testicular fortitude it takes to play baseball after a loss to Florida Christian on April 7. ''He then,'' according to a Coral Gables police report, ``pointed to his penis, testicles and asked the team if they had a set of these or were they equipped with a vagina.''
-- Great story. And, oh yeah, 'cars need oil to run.' (5/26)

Well, we found out who 'Deep Throat' was. What could possibly be next? Google found Carmen Sandiego.
-- Everything has a historical tie-in nowadays. (5/31)


Actual conversation, Newbury Street, by Sonsie, approximately 11:35 p.m. Hardly out of the ordinary, and hardly shocking, but worth relaying as I would have in college. And this was minutes before the sensual lesbian kiss on the bridge in the Public Garden. Not at all related to the previous conversation.
-- Upon hearing "He has to go in, and he has to cum in you" while walking in Boston. (6/3)

Joe DiMaggio liked to be alone, was estranged from his only son, enjoy spending time in new hotels watching TV, wasn't real close to his family, would do 30-40 takes on a commercial so it would appear he was perfect and at ease, was constantly concerned with his image and legacy, had a greatest fear of "looking bad," demanded he be referred to and introduced as "The Greatest Living Ballplayer" in his later years, liked having things done for him, was always complaining despite what was done for him, and basically told all of Hollywood they couldn't come to the funeral of his ex-wife. Individually, these things would seem like quirks. Collectively, I'm pretty sure that makes one a pompous asshole.
-- Serves him right that he's dead. (6/6)

And Tyson having no real boxing people in his corner that night, with his crew trying to solve his swollen eye with what looked like a condom full of tap water? Then going to trial for rape with a tax attorney? Man ... he took Rocky III way too literally, then shut it off before the end.
-- Probably funnier the first time around. (6/10)

Jacko Papers
-- I've alreayd forgotten where I was, and I bet you did too. (6/13)

A note to all you future drunk dialers. While I respect what you do and have been known to practice it on occasion, please exercise great care when attempting to reconcile your actions. Specifically, if you go to great lengths to apologize for leaving a caustic voicemail on someone's cell phone, please make sure you weren't so drunk as to not actually leave a voicemail.
-- In his defense, Charlie is still learning about booze. (6/15)

I live in Wheeling, WV. If you had taken the time to stop in our friendly little city, you would have found a world class resort, a symphony orchestra, another hospital, and numerous civic and charitable organizations. More importantly, you would have found welcoming, kind hearted people who don't judge others by how "cool" they are. I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and blame your lack of good judgement on your 1980 birth date. Maybe in another twenty years or so you can come back to Wheeling and see it with a different perspective.
-- So apparently, West Virginia got the Internet this year. (6/17)

"If anyone's got a problem with me, my name's Star. I live on the first floor, on the north side of the building. If you've got a problem, come on down here, but if you slam your fucking doors again, at two in the fucking morning, I will come up there and eat your fucking face off! If your door's broken, call the landlord and have them fix it."
-- My neighbor went a little crazy one afternoon. (6/20)

Along with the admissions process as it is now, there should be a single blank page added to the back of all college applications. If schools want to not make this a written portion, and instead tack it on to any personal interview there is, even better. On the blank page, there should be a single question, centered, across the top. The inference would be to fill out the rest of the page with an answer, but maybe some wouldn't choose to. The question should simply be this: "So, if we give you this degree, what exactly are you doing with your life?"
-- Hey, it couldn't hurt. (6/21)

If you don't know anything about the band Moes Haven, you will in the coming days. Why? Because they sent me one of their homemade CDs in the mail.
-- The site's clearly getting too big for its own good. (6/22)

Tonight in the press box, the guy sitting next to me in vaunted Row Three got a call on his cell phone. This sort of thing happens all the time, and normally wouldn't bear mentioning, except he had what I viewed as a rather excellent cell phone ring. The theme from Knight Rider, which can apparently now be referred to as the award-winning theme from Knight Rider. So, is this actually bad-ass, or am I just a dork?
-- I still think it's bad-ass, no matter what you think. (6/27)

Plus I'm pretty sure that stuff listed above equals the weekly caloric intake for one Billy Corgan, who showed up in the clubhouse after the game in a Cubs bucket hat to presumably meet up with budding rock star budding rock star Bronson Arroyo. You want to talk about needing a sandwich ... Corgan's Adam's apple nearly leapt out and started spearing people to the wall.
-- Wasn't a bad way to spend the afternoon, as I recall. (6/29)

   And the rest?

   When I'm sober enough to put them together.


December 29, 2005 - Sucking The Fun From Everything
   I Have Nothing: There's some things I need to confirm, but considering I just spent the better part of two hours analyzing my football picks from this season for my final column of the campaign, clearly I'm wasting someone's time.

   If it's my own, all the better.

   Well, There Is This: As some of you know, I've been known to play poker on occasion. Today, I cashed out what was in my account, having been built from a deposit I made somewhere around the 7th.

   This month, I made roughly $140 less playing poker than I did from my actual job.

   You can take this to mean whatever you'd like, but I know what I take it to mean. That being that tax time is coming, and it'll be nice to make no money and get screwed because I got so many expense report checks this year with no tax taken out of them.

   Yeah, because that was something beyond nothing.


   • As the regulars know, each year, I recap things here by quoting myself at some length that defies mere reflection and enters somewhere into sad obsession about two-thirds of the way through. We call it Navel Gaze because, well, I stole it from The Bruce. He went to both Harvard and Boston U., which clearly makes him a far smarter person to steal from than, say, the people across the hall who burn incense all the time because it's "the stuff they burn in the temples in India."

   I swear I thought it was because they smoke a shitload of pot, because when I was in college, it made for an excellent cover. But given I had no idea what marijuana smelled like until my third or fourth day in college, I'm clearly out of my depth.

   Anyway, this year we're starting the clip show a day early. Since all my dork friends with dork LiveJournals are passing around this questionnaire, it seems fitting that I prove just how little information I retain from day to day.

   So, let the recollection begin.

What did you do in 2005 that you'd never done before?
Referred to Whale City as my home and had it not be an accident. Quit a gym. Went to 48 Red Sox games, including 'covering' a game by sitting in the basement of Yankee Stadium unaware of what was actually going on.

Did you keep your new years' resolutions,
and will you make more for next year?

Without looking, I'm pretty sure I didn't make one, or made one so useless I did it on like Jan. 3. I am making one for 2006, which will be that I'm making a conscious effort to get on Jeopardy! In watching James play, it struck me that I'm at least good enough to go on and lose, and I could then make the picture in the corner a screenshot of that.

Plus, if I didn't know the Final Jeopardy answer, I would have no qualms about just writing 'Hi!' to people. It's not like I have any dignity left.


Did anyone close to you give birth / die?
One of the things I can't confirm is that Lobo, the goofy one of our two Siberian Huskies and last who actually was a sled dog, was put to sleep this evening. We're talking 99 percent sure, but I'm really not going to call my mom and ask because I'm not exactly looking to make her cry again.

Lobo

Easily the friendliest dog I've ever known. Even when the cancer set in and he couldn't see out of his right eye ... dumb as a post, but a beautiful animal.

I will now stop.


What countries did you visit?
No foreign ones this year, unless you count Tennessee. Though I'd been there before, so that doesn't really count either. I suppose the trips to New York City would actually be closer than Tennessee, since everyone knows ... I'm not going to make the joke. You're already there if you're getting there.

What would you like to have in 2006 that you lacked in 2005?
The ability to live and work and be in a relationship like normal people do. You know, not sleeping from 4 a.m. to noon, lovely as that is. But since that's probably not going to happen just yet, I'll stick with my boilerplate answer.

I'd like lots of money. Not so much because I want to buy anything. Just because it would be comforting to have.


What date from 2005 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
There really isn't one. Sorry. Given how 2004 went, a bit of a letdown year in that department. I suppose if forced, I'd say whatever that day was in July when my new boss started work. How would I know that, months later, I'd smash my toe and cut my arm moving him into his new house.

What was your biggest achievement / failure of the year?
Probably a split between a full year on the Red Sox beat by myself and making it through a calendar year without making Julie cry once. At least that I remember, though in not remembering I might make her cry.

Also, the decision to officially let myself go is still not far enough along to regret yet.

As for failure, maybe not doing enough with the Red Sox beat. I spent a lot of the year trying to convince myself that I actually belonged with what I was doing, and allowing myself to not do things I should have done because of it. I'd like to think it'll get better, but really, I know it's not going to be that easy.


What was the best thing you bought?
Clearly, the chocolate digestives. But the first time ... the second time, they weren't as good because the novelty had worn off.

A close second would be a new engine for my car, but really, we needn't go over that story again. That's why it wasn't the year's biggest failure when it clearly, clearly was.


Where did most of your money go?
I spent $6,000 on rent this year. This would be the point where someone makes some comment about buying a condo or house, but if you were me, you wouldn't either.

What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Really, really excited? When I found out my seat at U.S. Cellular Field actually allowed me to see the game on the actual field, with other actual human beings. Had it been at Fenway, I'd have been in the cafeteria. Yankee Stadium? Aforementioned basement. And then they fed me, and the wireless Internet worked. It's a wonder I didn't start making out with people.

Oh, and some relationship stuff that really deserves more thought than I'm going to give it with two dozen questions left.


What song will always remind you of 2005?
There's 1,340 of them on the player now, so none of them. The first one I think of off the top of my head is "Golddigger" by Kayne West, who hates black people.

And no, that does not mean I have "Golddigger" on my iRiver. I'd rather have "Clamdigger," the fake computer game from Aqua Teen Hunger Force where the object is to find parking at the beach.


Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?
Happier. Why? I don't want to think about why, since that would probably just dull the happy. The poker money helps.

What do you wish you'd done more / less of?
Less Chinese food. You can damn well bet that's atop the list. More running, since it always strikes me that it isn't that hard once you get past the actual doing it.

I also wish I'd gotten at least one more oil change as opposed to "waiting until I got home." And probably more cooking for myself, since when I do it, it always turns out edible.


Did you fall in love in 2005? / How many one-night stands?
I'm just going to quote what Julie wrote for this:

Still am, unless you include how much better things continue to get.

Don't worry, I hate us too. And I know us and I'm saying that.


What was your favorite TV program?
Family Guy, followed by Law and Order. That passes 'The Simpsons,' since I've pretty much now seen every episode in syndication thanks to the TiVo.

I suppose in some small way that means I've also 'killed my television,' which is as close as I think anyone really needs to get to doing that.


Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
No, I hated them all last year too.

What was the best book you read?
You'd think I wouldn't have a problem with this, since every time I read a book, an angel gets its wings. That said, I'm going to hope I actually did read "The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty" in this calendar year. It was really good for being a sports book that has no bearing on anything other than sports and egotistical New Yorkers who I hope fall on the ice and break their collarbones.

What was your greatest musical discovery?
Honestly, the iRiver. As someone who doesn't really listen to CDs but owns more than 100 of them, you get them all at your disposal, put it on 'shuffle' and suddently remember why you bought all of it in the first place.

For 2006, however, the leader in the clubhouse is The Kinks. Unless the rest of you want to send me CDs for Christmas in some attempt to shape my future with past.

[ This would all be creepy if it wasn't so much fun. ]


What did you want and get / not get?
Part of me just wants to write "true love" -- sort of because it's true, but sort of because if I wasn't me and I was reading this be written, I'd go off on it for at least 10 minutes.

So let's just go with the vacuum, which I broke out today and literally feels like the proverbial washing of one's hands with a fire hose. Having had a little popgun of a vacuum since I went to college, it was like I was whizzing a Segway down the hall. Though Segway don't usually need their HEPA filters cleaned when you turn them off.

I would love to say I wanted and didn't get my "XX hours back" for watching some awful movie, but we never did go and see "Herbie: Fully Loaded." No matter what the product was, everyone I went with would have spent the whole time staring at me, and really, if I'm going to feel like that I'll just go to an actual porno theater.


What was your favorite film of this year?
Not having seen this was the next question, I'm impressed with myself. As I was with "Batman Begins" thanks to Julie filling in all the dork stuff I'd have let slide.

Course, if we'd been watching a hockey documentary and the uniforms weren't exactly what they were in real life, I'd have paid her back in spades. But we weren't.


What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 25, and I honestly can't remember any of it. Not from drunkenness, but because I'm an idiot. I didn't work, I remember, because there was no big celebration for the four of us (now three) who share May 12.

Edit: Apparently it was such a tremendous celebration, I wrote nothing about it either. Though it was near when we all went out from drunken food at 3 a.m. and I ate like 3,500 calories in 45 minutes.


hat one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
That asshole not hitting his God-damned flush on the river when I had trip kings. Then I wouldn't have finished 32nd in that 400-something player tournament where 30 spots paid ... I'd have gone to the chip lead and probably won far closer to the $6,100 first prize than the zero I won.

Immeasurably more satisfying.


How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2005?
It involved jeans and jerseys. As it will into the future, though I'll probably buy a suit like a normal person at some point. Just so I can say I have one and complain.

What kept you sane?
The fear of prison and unemployment.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I will punch you.

What political issue stirred you the most?
Um, exactly zero of them. Odds are you're worrying about most of them for me.

Who did you miss?
Also everyone. Except for the people at work, who are honestly lovely.

Who was the best new person you met?
Mike Rocha. I don't even know if I met him this year, but he's awesome. He'll also never read this, or if he does, he'll pretend it's cool while inside being a little freaked out by it. I couldn't ask for anything more.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2005?
When the oil light comes on in your car, it's not a suggestion.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Simple is something that nobody knows
her eyes are as big as her bubbly toes
On the feet of a queen in the hearts of the garden
Feet are infested with tarballs
La da da la da
La da da la da da
La da da la la da da
La da da la da da
Old favorite "You're Missing Me" by Jack Johnson

   Why that one?

   Because it's still unitelligible bullshit.


December 28, 2005 - Rainy Days and Wednesdays
   Heading Into Reruns: It has gone by a couple stupid names, and there's no reason to start now ... coming tomorrow, it's Navel Gaze 2005. A year in review for something that really doesn't need to be reviewed.

   Quotes! Questions! Starlets! It's like every other year-in-review show, but far less interesting.

   Except, maybe, if EWTN does one. Because that's just going to be three hours of "Hey! The Pope died!" And they're not going to have any exclusive footage of anything you'd want to see ... the silver hammer death check, the cutting of the ring, the Conclave ordering out for pizza. It's just going to be all Mother Angelica, all the time.

The more I see of Catholicism the more I want to wretch at the thought of folks and their kids being subjected to the psychological abuse they mete out under the guise of religion. Watch "Mother Angelica" a few times.... you'll see a petty, nasty woman who tries to sugar-coat her nastiness with smarmy, self-righteous condescension.

I was amazed when the friend (who I refer to in the signature) and her Deacon were all aglow with joyous awe at this deluded old woman and her sugar-coated- bitchiness. I hate to keep using the same term but she is just plain NASTY... there is no better term!

-- If I ever started a band, "Sugar-Coated Bitchiness"
would be the favorite for its name.

   • I'm never eating Chinese food ever again.

   It's not "I'm never drinking again," but really, I was at work. If I was saying that after a night in the office, there'd be a whole lot longer story to go with it.


December 27, 2005 - Closing In On Quotables
   Not Exactly New: It's a week old now at least, but I've never felt more fortunate to have been watching Saturday Night Live at work than when "Lazy Sunday" came on. Easily the funniest thing I've seen on there in a couple of years.

Mr. Schaffer and Mr. Taccone were also contacted by friends who heard the rap played on radio stations and in bars. And Mr. Samberg found himself in the delicate position of having to explain to his mother that the song's chorus is a play on words involving the name "Chronicles of Narnia" and the word chronic, a slang term for marijuana. "She's like, 'So is it actually about weed?' " Mr. Samberg said. "It makes you think it's going to be about weed, but then it's actually just about 'Narnia.' She's like, 'Oh, I think I get it.'"

   Life In A 'Switch' Ad ... Again: Given I'm now trolling in the non-iPod waters and almost feel like I have to tell everyone that this player is like an iPod, but better, this story takes on a whole new meaning given I know all of the parties involved.

And if you were to ask his opinion on which mp3 player to purchase, he would have spouted some turgidity about the Dell DJ, and how it's superior and cheaper than the iPod. I think, on at least two occasions, I even heard him profess feelings of love for the device.

Elsewhere in the office are iPods galore -- at last count, a shuffle, a mini, three classics and a new video version -- but still, being a newsman, Mr. Tavares refused to succumb to peer pressure.

   I've always enjoyed that about Mac users ... the whole religion-like discussion of 'conversion.' Now, I'll readily admit that if I'd been using Macs and Apple stuff all the way through my life, I probably never would have had a reason to change. They're well designed. They do everything they're supposed to. They do it well.

   Except, and maybe I'm tempting fate here, so do Windows PCs. I've never had a computer blow up on me. Never had all my data nuked. Has my PC crashed before? Yes. Is it perfect? Not by any stretch.

   Is it worth lifting my lazy ass to get a new system and convert everything over? Not particularly.

Buwahahahahahaha, Ain't it great when they finally get it all there own ?
-- User comment. Joy.

   Know what else is great? Having a player I can drag-and-drop all my music on to without having to install some shell program that takes up more space and really isn't necessary. How about having an FM radio and recording capabilities included on top of the generally-useless photo viewer and (in my case) text reader? How is it they've made something short of 1,400 different iPods and never once put a radio tuner in one?

   Will I use it? Probably not a whole lot. But it's pretty nice to know it's there if I ever need it or want it.

   I look forward to both the ensuing discussion that this sparks and the day when I do change over to a Mac and someone brings this up in a hypocrite discussion. Small wonders, I say.

Sox Could Do Worse Than Appease Deal-Thirsty Mob
-- One of those that seemed a lot better at the end than it did at the beginning.

   • So after being bombarded by the advertising for weeks, I ate from a KFC bucket tonight that included their new boneless wings. I didn't buy said bucket, as I'm the guy who walks into Subway and gets "That's different" when I order something other than a foot-long Turkey and Ham on wheat -- no cheese, not toasted, tomato, green pepper, onion, spicy mustard -- but far be it for me to refuse free fried foods.

   After eating, I saw one of the ads again. We're on a talk-show stage and some fake girlfriend is complaining about how her boyfriend keeps screaming, "I'm in charge!!!" when he comes home from having his wings dipped in whichever sauce he wants. That's fine ... he was the boss, and he chose his sauce.

   I just think it's funny KFC has built an entire advertising campaign around, well, people ordering the food they want. Most companies would call that "ordering food," "the ordering process" or "personal choice, but not KFC ... at KFC, it's a revolution in chicken-human relations. Or whatever the hell that stuff is - human relations.

We still take pride in doing things The Colonel's way, utilizing only the highest quality ingredients, innovative recipes, and time-tested cooking methods.

   Something tells me if The Colonel walked into the Whale City KFC, not only would he question the use of his way, he'd walk out without eating. Though that's also because he's dead, and would be some sort of zombie that would rather feast on brains.

   Brains dipped in either honey barbecue, tangy ...


December 26, 2005 - Proper Appreciation
   Kevin Millwood: Five years (sort of) and $60 million for this.

   I really need to get a front-office job. I wouldn't even have to come to work.

   Patriots 31, Jets 21: As you might expect, the only reason I care about the game is because New England winning it by more than 5.5 points is it means my "Best Bet" picks for each week have come out as winners five times running, plus I've been at or above .500 overall against the spread 11 weeks in a row -- that's how you go 132-98-10.

   Think of the Christmases I made better! And what I could have done to my own!

   Though that's not entirely true. I also cared about the game because, well:

Hot Cocoa!
-- I want to believe everyone there was full of just hot cocoa.

Fans line up for hot chocolate before the New York Jets play the New England Patriots on NFL football Monday night, Dec. 26, 2005, at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. All the beer stands were closed because beer sales were banned for the night. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

   They were able to largely recover from the largest terrorist attack ever perpetrated on American soil. Somehow, I think they figured out how to sneak a couple flasks of whiskey into Giants Stadium.

   Monday Night Momories: Earlier last week, Paul "Dr. Z" Zimmerman wrote about how he wouldn't miss Monday Night Football on ABC, given what a consistent act in masturbation it was. Well, he didn't quite write it that way, but I think my way saves space and gives you, the reader, more time to either spend with your family or to drink so you forget you're spending time with your family.

   I don't know which I did, really, since at various points I either went off to play with the old train set from grandmother's house, ran through about six people at the pool table, picked ham out of the ham grease in the bottom of the pan and talked Red Sox. I will say if nothing else, while some of my relatives/in-laws may still think I attended Boston College, they're all pretty clear on what I do for work now.

   Anyway, since even I forgot what I was talking about:

ABC TV's Monday Night Football promotion is like a restaurant that tries to attract customers by telling you how entertaining its waiters are. Then when one of them keeps dropping dishes, management will bring in a new one, and then another, all the time keeping the pitch going about how this is a promotion not to be missed.

The food? Naah, nobody cares about that.
It's our waiters they're interested in, our stars.

The sick thing is that journalists buy into this nonsense ... TV columnists, molders of public opinion. I've already begun to read the hand-wringing about the departure of ABC as purveyor of Monday Night Football, as if some great monument were being torn down. ABC is leaving? Who cares? Certainly not me. Bring in the next network, the next set of waiters to serve our food. Make sure it's hot.

   This, by the way, is the dictionary definition of "curmudgeon," but that's not the point. One of my first-ever memories of football is actually just such a self ... you know. The Giants played at the Redskins in the debut game of MNF's 20th season -- Sept. 11, 1989, as the Giants media guide is telling me. They won the game 27-24 on a last-second field goal by the legendary Raul Allegre, but I only know this in passing ... I don't think I actually ever watched the game.

   What I watched about 100 games was the taped celebratory pregame show, where ABC feted the 20th season with clips from the past. That's how I knew about the Jets playing at Cleveland in the first-ever game, about all the anchors through the years and why I was picking out sound bytes throughout their congratulatory 'dreck' this evening.

   What does it mean to you? Probably another window into my trivia-choked soul. But to me, it's another reminder that I let someone tape over that at some point through the years. I still have Super Bowl 25 and the 41-0 NFC Championship win from early 2001, though. Not that I ever sit down and watch either from beginning to end.

   That would just be weird.


   • As an aside for no apparent reason, the following is a Top 10 list of Most Inspirational Women from 2005, as voted on by teenage British girls.

The teenagers' choices appeared to favour women who had battled through adversity during the year.

Third in the list was the former Atomic Kitten singer, Kerry Katona, who had a traumatic break-up with her boyfriend, Dave Cunningham, earlier in the year when he ditched her. She had been seeking solace after her split with her husband, Brian McFadden, the previous year.

The full list is:
1. Sienna Miller
2. Gwen Stefani
3. Kerry Katona
4. Kylie Minogue
5. Hilary Duff
6. Charlotte Church
7. Jessica Simpson
8. Paris Hilton
9. Jessica Alba
10. Christine Aguilera.

   Did I rip this off Fark? Of course I did ... the day I start regularly reading a newspaper who has managed to fuck up posting articles for Web reading is the day I start reading in general.

   Did it feel like it was worth it? Oh, I don't know. I did learn Sienna Miller has actually been in movies ... when the whole scandal broke about Jude Law's Wandering Penis -- the caps are because I'm hoping it becomes a sitcom -- I just assumed all those roles as "Savannah" were proof she was in a porn-to-proper changeover.

   I learned young girls love Gwen Stefani despite her pale whiteness and humongoid smile making all the collaborations with black artists funnier than when I start trying to pretend I'm from the "mean streets of Feedhing Hills, yo."

   I learned others also view Hilary Duff's struggles with trying to look like her boyfriend from "Good Charlotte" were viewed by others as disease-like.

Race to the Bottom
-- For a race to the bottom, it ended fast.

   But most importantly, I learned that TV newscasts and VH-1's opposite-of-engrossing "Best Week Ever" have another excuse to show the burger commercial with Paris Hilton writhing all over a car she's washing.

   And on BWE, all those hilarious comics can say those canned, sort-of-funny lines they either came up with or were given on a piece of paper by a producer.

   Hey, it worked for Hollywood Squares!


December 25, 2005 - You Are All Awesome
   Through The Years: Four years ago, I typed in green and wrote "There's only one thing worse than winning a game of horseshoes: Realizing you play horseshoes for fun" inside Matt's Christmas card. I also noted a poor Springfield family had scrawled "Jesus is the reason for the season" in lights across their house and that Christ was actually born in September.

   Three years ago, I typed in green and began the assault on everyone with the new digital camera. Among the photos:

Meat
-- Meat!

   There was also some nonsensical rant about it not snowing and the ground looking like a Frosted Mini-Wheat.

   Two years ago, I typed in green with no title and linked to my A-Rod column and a photo from when the Rangers fans caused a brawl at Nassau Coliseum by ripping off their Santa suits to show non-Islanders jerseys.

   Last year, I wrote three sentences and was bitching about FedEx not delivering a present I bought my mother. Which, coincidentally, is the same thing they did with something I bought my brother this year.

   So the moral of the story? Use UPS. Not just because their drivers recognize me when I'm picking up packages, but because they actually get my packages somewhere in the vicinity of where I am and not sort of close to me, only to then return to them to whom sent them without trying to deliver them to me.

   Stupid f'ing FedEx. Maybe if you didn't spend so much time paying Daunte Culpepper to make out with hookers on cruise ships ...

   Even if they did fire him, I wanted those damned DVDs.


   • Thanks to the miracle of technology that was a big deal maybe a couple of years ago, I can now blare Brass Bonanza out the windows of my car in uncomfortable situations. Like, say, everywhere I go.

   Even in Westfield, where the liquor stores ... eh, it's the holidays. I just hope you didn't get that gift you didn't really want. Or a vacuum cleaner, since I'm guessing you didn't ask for one.

   Course, I'm guessing you didn't ask for a throwback Phil Simms jersey either, but that worked out pretty well for me too. Or a Kinks album.

   You are all really awesome.


December 24, 2005 - Slim Shady, In Bull Form
   Moving Into The Past: Given tiny Westfield was the first of the small cities in Western Mass. to get a Wal-Mart -- least to my recollection -- I suppose it's not surprising that they're the first ones really infiltrated by the other major corporate evil ... Starbucks.

   Westfield was the town growing that had school delays for every storm because, well, they didn't really have much of a town plowing system. They also were consistently the last ones in the area to get voting results in, since they were the largest city/town without voting machines. Now, they get a Starbucks in what I think used to be a tire dealership. It's a drive-thru version, right next to a new bank and that Chinese buffet that's been open since the dawn of time, but that I've never actually seen any cars at.

   Bless progress. Now the Longmeadowites have somewhere to get coffee should they ever become lost and wander outside the blessed city limits.

   On The Liquor Store Sign: I don't know exactly what it meant:

MERRY CHRISTMAS

AMERICA

   but I'm sure they love it at the Marine recruitment building just down the street.


   • You might wonder how many people would spend the earliest hours of Christmas playing poker online -- this being something that's not exactly an enriching, God-fearing family activity.

   I can tell you, since my family was asleep at that hour, about 25,000. At least.

   Hey, what can I say. I'm pretty sure there's nobody else who watched parts of "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer," "It's a Wonderful Life" and OLN's "Jingle Bulls" marathon from the Professional Bull Riding tour.

   Enjoy the holiday, dorks. Don't go batshit crazy or anything, and may you not get those things you asked for, but then later figured out you didn't really want and are secretly hoping you don't open because then there's that awkward moment where you have to pretend you like it even though you're the one who wanted it in the first place.

   I wrote a nice story for today's paper, on a bodybuilder with a kidney transplant he got from his brother. Course, because sports has about a 4 p.m. deadline on Christmas Eve, they didn't actually post the paper online. So you'll just have to take my word for the fact it's never going to stop being funny I'm the physical fitness beat writer.


December 23, 2005 - Festiv ... You Get It, Whatever
   It Doesn't Take Long: No less than five minutes after word broke around the office that Johnny Damon was headed to the Yankees, one of my co-workers got a phone call from a friend. He smiled, pulled the phone away from his ear and shouted "Hey! Looks like Jesus, throws like Mary!"

   And while even I'd admit that classic Yankee photo with Damon standing outside the dugout, bat on shoulder, enveloped by an empty Yankee Stadium made me feel a little funny in my gut, I can't sit here and say I'm not enjoying the complete 180. That, plus Damon's comical total acceptance of all things Bronx not even a week after signing the deal just make the whole thing in a non-baseball sense.

Johnny Damon, Receiver
-- Apparently spied in downtown Boston.

   This would also be the point when I'd direct you to Noted Awful Fan Site "Boston Dirt Dogs," but considering that man is this batshit crazy for no apparent reason every day, it's not like he simply isn't doing what the world expects him to.

   While We're Young: Those of you who know me know I'm still not totally cool on the cell phone concept, and that I didn't truly have one I used with any regularity until after college. So imagine my glee upon discovering they're now making cell phones ... for toddlers.

What kind of cellphone does your 5-year-old have?

Some people, no doubt, are shocked by the very question. Why on earth would an elementary schooler need a cellphone? Whatever happened to responsible parental supervision, making children earn their rewards, and sending them to play stickball outside?

But millions of other parents see the appeal immediately. They'd argue that in the modern world, parent-child separations occur almost every day, brought about by play dates, after-school activities, getting lost at the mall, parents working late and the shuttling between divorced spouses. In these situations, a cellphone could be a nerve-calming lifeline.

   Millions of parents should also have their children taken away -- something I'm sure would have been reinforced if I'd entered a mall during the holiday season -- but that's not the point. What, exactly, is the point?

Parents should know, however, that the Migo receives all incoming calls, not just those from numbers in its own phone book. Anyone can call in. On one hand, clever yakaholics can therefore bypass all the parental limits by simply asking their friends to initiate the calls. On the other hand, it means that you can still reach your darling even when you don't happen to be at your regular phone.

   I want to meet the five-year-old smart enough to be scheming his way past his cell phone's technological blocks. Because that five-year-old, one day, will either be very rich or very good at robbing people.


   • While it's not exactly children being taken away from their parents, you too will see the resemblance.

Meet Genevieve Elise Silva. The 20-year-old California woman, who stars in porno movies sold online, is being sought by police for having sex with a 15-year-old boy whom she also allegedly provided Ecstasy, pot, and speed. According to police, Silva met the boy through her younger brother, who was a high school friend of the alleged victim. Richmond Police Department investigators claim that Silva carried on an illicit relationship with the teenager between June and October of this year. She also allegedly convinced the teenager to run away from his Bay Area home and move with her to Oklahoma.

   Anyone, no matter the age, who can be convinced to move from California to Oklahoma clearly is not properly piecing together the logic pieces offered to them by, say, society.

   I'm pretty sure when I was 15, the only ways someone had any shot of getting me to move to Oklahoma involved either a Sega Genesis, the now-gone Monterey Jack flavored Doritos or a promise the Red Sox would win the World Series.

   That's just how I was raised. In a "I'm going outside to play tennis against the garage wall" kind of way.

   For years, I was petrified about my family getting vinyl siding because it would mean I couldn't play tennis against that wall anymore. They didn't until I moved out, but if any of you ever saw me play tennis for that one season in high school, you'd know that it wasn't exactly something I needed to be worrying about.


December 22, 2005 - My Favorite
   Obligatory English Soccer Cheer: With offensive powers like these, why wouldn't this become a recurring feature?

When I was a little bitty boy,
My grandmother bought me a cute little toy,
Two Sunderland fans, hanging on a string,
She told me to kick their fucking heads in.
Mackems on a string,
Mackems on a string,
She told me to kick their fucking heads in.
Mackems on a string,
Mackems on a string,
She told me to kick their fucking heads in.

-- Newcastle. Like the beer, only better.

   I've been through Newcastle, and let me just say, I'm in no way surprised the residents are this angry.

   It Just Keeps Getting Better: To this day I've never seen American Wedding, because I felt the "American Pie" series was nicely wrapped and not pathetic after the second movie. So imagine my joy to see ... the straight-to-DVD release "American Pie: Band Camp," featuring Jim's Dad and Stifler's Brother.

Matt Stifler is sentenced to Band Camp where he plans on playing a series of practical jokes on the kids there. Instead, he falls for a young woman and tries to change his ways. ... All the original characters have moved on, except there will be a cameo by Finch. Stifler's little brother Matt, wants to join his brother's business (Stifler has hit it big producing Girls Gone Wild videos) and after everything Matt has heard from Jim's bandgeek wife Michelle, he plans to go back to band camp and make a video of his own. -- Bandies Gone Wild

   This is pretty much the definition of "ham-handed cash grab," right? Relatives of characters, with only a cameo by the one who had the WB sitcom critics said "didn't deserve such swift, brutal cancellation?" Do people really have that much trouble saving their money?

   I can almost hear the trivia questions starting 10 years from now. "She made her debut in the highly acclaimed 'American Pie: Band Camp,' earning the heady title of the girl who shoved the clarinet ..."

   I just might be the one who writes said question, but that's not really the point, is it?

   PeTA Update: As the group continues their fight against fur, they've recruited a star-studded list of celebrity talent.

Amy Sedaris -- Star of 'Strangers With Candy,' which you never watched.
Anna Nicole Smith -- Sort-of before the diet, but not before the batshit craziness.
Des'ree -- She had that one hit, "You Gotta Be," in 1994. Remember? No?
Ethan Zohn -- He won 'Survivor 3: Africa!' He had big hair!
Jenna Morasca -- She has two ads! She was on 'Survivor' sometime!
Melissa Rivers -- Best-known child of a cyborg.
Vanessa Olivarez -- Finished like 13th on 'American Idol 2.' Enough to get naked.

   Are we to the point where Pink can be included in this list, or do we have to wait a few more years?

   And please bear in mind I have no affinity for fur, I just enjoy campaigns built around people saying "If you wouldn't wear your dog, please don't wear any fur."


   • So apparently in my latest column, I identify Bronson Arroyo as a lefthanded pitcher. I could quote it, but really, Justin is in law school. I trust him.

Bronson Arroyo, Lefthander
-- As you can see, his throwing arm is on the left side of the frame.

   The lesson here? Not so much that I am an idiot, because we've beaten that lesson into the ground already. The lesson is if you go to the trouble of making an awful rock album, I become so unable to look at you that I just start making things up irrationally.

   Though it is good to see there are some things he does use his left arm for.

Ass Cupping
-- Ass-cupping. And when you look like most baseball players,
that's clearly the most important thing you do.

   By the way, e-mails I received at work regarding said error? Zero. Viva irrelevancy! Either that or Whale City's baseball fans now believe Arroyo is, in fact, left-handed. I'm not sure which one counts as a win ... we're into the 'pick a favorite child' category now.


December 21, 2005 - Wing Ding Dinner
   Obligatory English Soccer Cheer: This one, from Everton.

If I had the wings of a sparrow,
if I had the arse of a crow,
I would fly over Anfield tomorrow,
and shit on those bastards below below!
Shit on, shit on, shit on the bastards below!

   It's no "Snow, snow we want more snow. The stuff that brought the plane down. The stuff that brought the plane down." or "Hitler's gonna gass 'em again, HISSSS!," but then again, what is?

Bottom Line: This Is A Huge Loss
-- You have my word ... the entire column is not that obvious.

   • So apparently, the Feeding Hills Estate now has another cat. That makes four, with "started showing up on our doorstep because Mom kept feeding it" joining "found on street in Holyoke," "adopted from family who sort-of abused it" and "thrown out of car by college kids in Westfield."

   Its name is Baxter. I named it, despite no one asking me to name it. Just goes to show you that if you're decisive and sound like you know what you're talking about, you truly can do anything.

   Except, of course, for transit strikes. That being something I would be laughing about, except for that I suspect it would bring the rage of the few New Yorkers I know. And really, you never, ever, ever want to piss off a New Yorker.

   I'll just continue to hope Johnny Damon makes some comment about how bad the transit strike is, a la his legendary quote last season about the Pope being "awesome."


December 20, 2005 - Panic Room
   The Plain Billboard: Speeding onto the Mass Pike at the Route 291 interchange, there it was. Looking as if it was designed in Microsoft Word, only to be transferred to that gigantic billboard to be seen by everyone traveling the highway and moving through that area on the local roads.

   Simble black-on-white type, with only a small heart to spice things graphically.

Don't Weight For Love
OverweightDate.com

   Yes, America, it is a dating site designed "For large lovers and the men & women who adore them." That's why two of the four people pictured on the front page are clearly not overweight, while the other two are shown from the chest up with nary a jowl to be seen. Because fat people need that dating site that embraces their girth ... sort of.

   Because fat people need a site that answers all the really important questions.

Is this really a porn site in disguise?
Have you ever searched a site for the love of your life, only to get the surprise of your life when you see their member photos?! Many sites allow their members to upload photos of themselves -- photos of them naked or even having sex. Now, if a member uploads such a photo, what is the quality of the member OR the site? Come on! Is that so necessary?!

TangoWire does not allow nudity, profanity, vulgarity, or anything else which would offend anyone in the general public. We don't claim a moral high-ground, we simply miss the days when being respectable in public meant something.

   So do I, OverwightDate.com. So do I.

  For those of you out there trolling in the online dating pool, without a hint of sarcasm, God bless you. I have no doubt in my mind you somehow deserve better than you're getting.

   One Step Closer: They're making college baseball video games now, which means we're just one step away from that dream of mine -- getting to guide Boston University hockey to that national championship they seem content to never want to win for me.

   The term "dream," of course, being used in the sense that if this were four years ago and I were still in college, I would dream of wiling away my days throwing a controller across the room until it broke or I won. I think it still works.

   Political Corr-what now?: A few days back, Sly sent me a link to this British soccer chant site. Given I spent part of yesterday morning watching a replay of a match between Manchester United and Aston Villa, here's the most offensive chants I could find for each of the teams.

   Oh, and these are very real. Perhaps you missed the story from the Italian league where fans were waving swastikas and Fascist symbols at each other.

Theres only one David Beckham
One David Beckham,
With a packet of sweets
And a cheeky smile
Beckham is a fucking pedophile!
Theres only one... David Beckham

-- Villa ... narrowly beating the song accusing Liverpool's Robie Fowler of "(having) aids and can't get rid of it" and being a "Dirty red nosed bastard."

Fuck McManerman, fuck McAteer,
Fuck McManerman, fuck McAteer,
Fuck McManerman, fuck McAteer,
They're fucking queer!

-- Man U ... properly serenaded by enough other teams cheering the 1958 plane crash that killed eight of their players.

   Bat shit crazy.

Who's that dieing on the runway?
Who's that dieing in the snow?
I's Matt Busby and his boys
Making all the fucking noise
cause they couldn't get their aeroplane to go

   The whole lot of 'em.


   • It's one of those moments you dream about. Behind because both of us running the desk had to write stories to start the night, you're just starting to barely get a grasp on getting the paper out. Things are just starting to fall together, you've got a plan and all of a sudden you look on the Wires ... time to rip it up. Never mind having to ditch the column you just spent two hours on, since now it doesn't work at all.

   Suddenly, no one cares about Rudy Seanez and Tony Graffanino, and that the team continues to build around the spectre of their two available names. Not when an era ends.

Johnny Damon in St. Louis

   And of course, I'm referring to the hair. That has to go, post haste.

''Our policy with the Yankees is to go out and win, and we're going to try to bring another championship to them. They haven't had a championship since Chuck Knoblauch was there when they had a great leadoff hitter so I think the leadoff role has been underappreciated. A good leadoff hitter is tough to find and I think New York just found the best leadoff hitter in the game."

   You know what the most onerous part of this is? Not Johnny Damon already referring to the Yankees as though he came up with them. Not that this is clearly somewhat motivated by the fact he thinks he can become a movie star. Not that the New York papers haven't made that exciting first claim that Damon is, in fact, mentally lacking.

   That the guy with a limp noodle for an arm makes a reference to Chuck Knoblauch, he of the "it's like playing catch with a small child," and totally doesn't appreciate it on all the levels that I do.

   Oh, and the Sox? Probably justified not wanting to pay him $13 million a season when he hit for no power after the All-Star Break, but also probably f'ed in that they now need a first baseman, shortstop and center fielder. With the whole world well aware of all of these things.

   Hey, I covered my one World Series and three trips to the playoffs. I'm way overdue to watch a few September games being played only for contract incentives.


December 19, 2005 - Hoop Dreams
   These High School Girls: Though it didn't really occur to me until the night was over, by watching this basketball game between last season's D1 runners-up and the D2 state champions on my night off, I've seen two teams better than anyone who works at my paper will see all season.

   I also spent an evening in the gym with this man two hours from where we both belong, but we did have reason. He was recruiting and I became one of just 17 people from Agawam to spend a night inside Central High School and live to tell about it.

   Though the night didn't become precious until Julie noticed that among the Central students, the white kids really don't sit with the black kids.

   Ah, people that a hick like me can call 'country folk.'


   • I have nothing else to add really, other than to say the headline "Through His Webcam, a Boy Joins a Sordid Online World" is another one of those that's going to make a whole bunch of people in Westchester go, "Wait. They have webcams now?"

   Course, some would think I should actually have been to Westchester before I start assuming things about them. But considering I learned today that there are people in the world who have never heard "Big Balls" by AC-DC, I'm not sure what I think I know anymore.


December 18, 2005 - Underselling
   Moving Experience: There was a moment on Saturday where a dresser of my boss's clothes tipped over in the UHaul. Naturally, some of the clothes in the dresser tumbled to the ground, with my instinct saying, "Hey. Help him pick that stuff up."

   I got within about six inches before I realized that I was about to start picking up his boxer shorts.

   I hope he understood why I froze and did the slow turn away.


   • So tonight, I attended the holiday party for the NBC affiliate in Springfield, making two of those I've been to against none for where I actually work. Though actually, we didn't even have a holday party at the paper this year, which I think says all that it needs to say - especially since I don't have anything else to add to it.

   Suffice to say, the odd feeling of being introduced to someone who you already know from TV is always refreshing. As are Midori Sours, of which I drank three of for no other reason than people started buying them.

   Amazingly, mixing Bass, Guinness, Midori and Amaretto doesn't cause death. Maybe balancing it with tortellini soup neutralizes all the free, gay electrons.

   At least I didn't try to dance. Much.


December 16-17, 2005 - The Armoire
   Why I'm Cheating: So, why was there no update for Friday? Without a hint of exaggeration, this is how I spent my Saturday.

5-8:45 a.m. -- Sleep
9:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. -- Helping my boss move into his new house.
6:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. -- Desk shift at newspaper.

   That's not leaving anything out, except maybe needing four trips to move all his stuff. Including some 400-pound armoire that I'm pretty sure can't even be gotten into his house. Good times?

   No. Great times. I can't believe I escaped with just cuts on my toe and hands, though it was nice to feel like I did actual exercise for a change.

   And fortunately for us, between his apartment, storage locker and house was the SouthCoast's largest mall. That wasn't busy at all on the biggest shopping day of the year. No sir.

   Course, I did volunteer to help. So not all that deep down, I really was looking forward to it. Remember that when you find out I did it for the cost of a Subway lunch, which is somewhere south of eight dollars.


   • There are certain things that probably don't need to be said aloud, but I'm saying this one anyway.

   Darts do not make for compelling television. Never make yourself think otherwise.

   They do, however, feature tournaments held in the 10,000-seat Grand Garden Arena, excitable British announcers, boxer-like entrances with music and flag waving, player nicknames like Phil "The Power" Taylor and Wayne "Hawaii 501" Mardle, people waving NBA Slam Dunk contest-like signs after '180s' -- three triple 20s in a turn, and all the other trappings of the activity that really thinks it could be the next poker if things fell right.

Phil
-- The 12-time Darts World Champion and the man called "one of the great legends of British sport." He does win a lot, I'll give him that.

   Though suffice to say, there will not a column made out of this. Even if he does have tattoos and the announcers make the British guy who used to just live over the top at Revolution games seem like he was sedated.


December 15, 2005 - Waiter Money
   Out Of Nowhere: Sex furniture. Why? Because intimacy should always be tinged with the possibility of gruesome injury. Because if The Man can charge $400 for a skimpy bathing suit, why not charge $100 for a freaking padded box? Because the phrase "best for lovers of average size and weight" adds a whol new dimension to everything.

   And for the love of God, don't go to the British site or, for the love of God again, the Black Label portion. Not unless you enjoy unemployment along with being cuffed and blindfolded.

   And how did I end up in this treasure trove? Logically, Jackie Harvey's "Harveywood!" blog on The Onion. Exactly what you'd expect that I was doing.

   Our Mitt: Stories like these, plus all the Mormon jokes, are why I'll miss Mitt Romney.

Massachusetts drivers will get their biggest auto insurance rate cut in 25 years next year, with a ruling by the state insurance commissioner pushing premiums back below $1,000 for the first time since 2003.

Bowler's 8.7 percent reduction was about halfway between the 0.1 percent decrease the auto insurance industry was seeking and the 18 percent cut sought by Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly.

Reilly said Gov. Mitt Romney had the chance to cut the statewide average premium by $200, but instead decided to split the money between drivers and insurers. "The whole thing was a scam," he said.

Romney said Reilly reminded him of a fourth grader who promised his classmates to expand recess to two hours. "It's just not reality," he said.

   See? Everybody's happy. Plus, I now know auto insurers kept a straight face when asking for the same percentage raise I get every year.

   Yeah, I'm testing the limits of this possible "Blog Employee Policy." Why do you ask?


   • As a (former, I think) member of the MSPCA, which became more than worth it for the PeTA mailings alone, even I have to question this. Mainly because I read the story twice, and I'm still not sure who's who or what the law in place is.

Through an exchange of photographs ordered by the court last spring, Ms. Doe and Ms. Woods confirmed that Oliver and Gatsby are indeed the same cat. But Ms. Doe has said in court papers that she bonded with the cat and did not want to part with him. Besides, her lawyer said, she believes that Oliver/Gatsby was not well cared for by Ms. Woods, and that the cat's escape was proof of that.

Ms. Woods said she was not home when the cat walked out. Oliver slipped out, she said, because her roommate at the time, a blind poet, had not noticed that a visitor had left the door open.

   Now, there may be no cats in the world who have it better than the trio at the Feeding Hills Estate. Being they belong to my mother -- who despite her allergy to pet hair has taken a job at a doggie day care because she loves animals so much -- they're constantly threatened with being tossed back on the street, but that just comes with the territory when you pass on using one of three litter boxes to crap on the floor, sit on the dining room table, fight like every day and cause general cat-based mischief.

   Yet, I haven't a second's doubt that if I left the door to the house open, they'd wander away outside. Clearly, that would mean they're escaping because they have it so terrible, longing to go back (respectively) to Cabot Street in Holyoke, the place where those college kids threw him out of the car in Westfield and the home where the kids pulled her tail constantly.

   And to think ... it's the lawyer, not the struggling poet/wine store clerk, who has assigned free will to felines.

   None of this is to say it's not a sad story, since they probably both deserve the cat. But I'm sure New York has a few strays sheltered somewhere that aren't crazy from subway fumes and drinking hot dog cart water.


December 14, 2005 - Nippon Q Queue
   Corporate Memos: Though I'm sure this violates no part of the "Blog Employee Policy" that I don't think has actually passed the 'proposal' stage at this point, I received a memo with my paycheck this week that included the following statement -- seems two 'personal heaters' caused part of the building to lose power on Tuesday night.

"Our safety and the proper functioning of the newspaper must take precedence over our desire to be warmer."

   I proposed we start a campfire either in a portable fireplace or the receptacle where all the extra copies of the paper end up, given it wouldn't technically be a "personal heater," but wearing an extra coat does seem far easier than trying to vent the damn thing.

   Even if we did just send the smoke into Advertising, whose never around when the night people are.

   New Project: As inspired by the previous "neckless George Lucas" display and this innocuous singing starlet story, I give you:

48 Faces of Hell: Celebrity!
-- The 48 Faces of Hell: Celebrity Edition!

   How does it become 48? If you tile this on your 1024x768 desktop, you'll understand. And scare your family far less than if it was 48 pictures of me. Again.

   It's still my work desktop, and will remain so until either someone else changes it or I get that person who comes over and asks if I'm really the vainest person in the world.

   It's good to have goals.


   • This seems rather topical given Our Mitt is going away to become the first Mormon to lose a Presidential election, but even still, I don't like to so directly fan the flames.

   Today, I received an e-mail from my father, who for the record is the parent in my family who votes. As such, any political leanings I have from my childhood are derived from him ... in so much as I have any political leanings whatsoever.

   I post this on the possibility that you'll be able to enter my mind, see what sort of ideals truly shaped me and why every so often Julie looks at me and says, "Shhh. He likes me. I don't want him to know I was born in Northampton."

Subject: Fw: History Lesson
Date: Wed, Dec. 14, 2005
From: Dad
To: cooch at joncouture dot com

   History began some 12,000 years ago...

   Humans existed as members of small bands of nomadic hunter/gatherers.

   They lived on deer in the mountains during the summer & would go to the coast & live on fish & lobster in winter.

   The two most important events in all of history were the invention of beer & the invention of the wheel.

   The wheel was invented to get man to the beer. These were the foundation of modern civilization & together were the catalyst for the splitting of humanity into 2 distinct subgroups: Liberals & Conservatives.

   Once beer was discovered it required grain & that was the beginning of agriculture. Neither the glass bottle nor aluminum can were invented yet, so while our early human ancestors were sitting around waiting for them to be invented, they just stayed close to the brewery. That's how villages were formed. Some men spent their days tracking & killing animals to B-B-Q at night while they were drinking beer.

   This was the beginning of what is known as "the Conservative movement."

   Other men who were weaker & less skilled at hunting learned to live off the conservatives by showing up for the nightly B-B-Q's & doing the sewing, fetching & hair dressing. This was the beginning of the Liberal movement. Some of these liberal men eventually evolved into women. The rest became known as 'girleymen.'

   Some noteworthy liberal achievements include the domestication of cats, the invention of group therapy & group hugs & the concept of Democratic voting to decide how to divide the meat & beer that conservatives provided.

   Over the years conservatives came to be symbolized by the largest, most powerful land animal on earth, the elephant. Liberals are symbolized by the jackass.

   Modern liberals like imported beer (with lime added), but most prefer white wine or imported bottled water.  They eat raw fish but like their beef well done. Sushi, tofu, & French food are standard liberal fare.

   Another interesting revolutionary side note: most of their women have higher testosterone levels than their men. Most social workers, personal injury attorneys, journalists, dreamers in Hollywood & group therapists are liberals. Liberals invented the designated hitter rule because it wasn't "fair" to make the pitcher also bat.

   Conservatives drink domestic beer. They eat red meat & still provide for their women. Conservatives are big-game hunters, rodeo cowboys, lumberjacks, construction workers, firemen, medical doctors, police officers, corporate executives, military men, athletes & generally anyone who works productively outside government. Conservatives who own companies hire other conservatives who want to work for a living. Liberals produce little or nothing. They like to "govern" the producers & decide what to do with the production.

   Liberals believe Europeans are more enlightened than Americans. That is why most of the liberals remained in Europe when conservatives were coming to America. They crept in after the Wild West was tame & created a business of trying to get MORE for nothing.

   Here ends today's lesson in world history. It should be noted that a Liberal will have an uncontrollable urge to respond to the above instead of simply laughing and forwarding it.

   So, to recap, ... you know what? No. To recap, my father will be voting for Mitt Romney, should he receive the nomination, in 2008.

   And I didn't post anything today. As a matter of fact, I'm not even here.

   Perhaps sensing that I would need some sort of finisher, Dad then forwarded me another e-mail: video of Larry The Cable Guy lambasting a politically correct Christmas story from "Blue Collar TV."

   Y'all just carry on now, ya hear.


December 13, 2005 - Simple Paperboy
   The Age of Innocence: When ABC Family showed the first two Harry Potter movies recently, they were kept on the work televisions and I dare say I enjoyed them.

   Which of course leads to the logical outcome of all of this ... the discovery that the blond, French girl in the current film has previous been the blond, French girl naked and touching herself -- link plays video, kids -- in a little Cinema Francais.

   Hey, I guess we have porn here after all!

   The Season of Giving: It's good to see you're all learning what my tastes are, since I'll take the fact that no one bid on this as a correct realization that I'd much rather have had the Giants Blue plate in there instead of the excess diamonds.

David Meggett, one of the toughest Running Back's ever to play the game is getting tough once again. This is a once in a life-time chance to win David Lee Meggett's NFL 1990 Super Bowl XXV NY Giants World Championship Ring. Dave Meggett is offering you this rare oppurtunity to own an item that most NFL players can only dream about.

   So wait ... is trying to sell your only Super Bowl ring for $60,000 on eBay what passes as "getting tough" these days? Is he trying to buy his kidnapped family's freedom? Will ridding himself of the ring free society from a hex placed upon it? Is he donating the money to fund the search for Osama bin Laden?

We are including a temporary ring case for shipping purposes only. The lucky winner will want to purchase a case for this ring at their own expense. Please note from the images below, that this is no ordinary Super Bowl Championship Ring. As you will see in the actual images below, that this ring displays the Giants victory in Super Bowl XXI and XXV. It's like winning two rings for the price of one and with the added diamonds the winner of this auction will be astonished and amazed. Mr. Meggett is generously offering everyone a chance to win this auction of his own free will.

   Just imagine if he had a Patriots ring from Super Bowl 39 ... then it would be three, THREE rings in one! And, apropos of nothing, the following comes up as the first article in a Dave Meggett search on Google News:

"Of course, it's no secret that Dave has been a little strapped for cash in the past. In September 2004 he was tossed in jail in Dedham for failing to pay $191,600 in back child support.

Meggett, a favorite of ex-Pats-now-Cowboys coach Bill Parcells, also faced charges in 1998 for beating up a Toronto hooker. The paid date reportedly tried to stop a $400 sex romp when Meggett's condom broke. The charges were eventually dropped, but not before Meggett's NFL career went down the drain.

   And really, a broken condom would definitely qualify as a 'temporary ring case.'


   • I had no idea what "corporate personhood" was until I looked it up, but thankfully, that person driving the station wagon covered with bumper stickers from Marion tonight informed me I should be against it.

   I didn't have time to scrawl the rest of them down other than "Bush Cheated '04." A little digging reveals that they got it from here, then took the time to turn the PDF into an actual bumper sticker.

   That's the kind of dedication I can appreciate, but only to a certain extent. I mean, when I see something like that, I think little of the message and just go straight to how well it's going to age. Does there reach a point when it's OK to take something like that off your car? Because he will still have cheated 20 years from now ... does it just get replaced? Do you sticker over it?

   Course, I'm the kind of person who goes into the grocery store for the first time since late September with a "Get $10 Off With $100 Purchase" and buys things like HP Sauce, chocolate digestives, sushi and Salsa Verde Doritos in an effort to reach the $100 level not hard to meet when you shop every 10 weeks.

   Then, when the register tallies everything up to be $98.45, it never occurs to me that I don't have to walk back through the store to find that last $1.55, but that I could grab three packs of gum and be on my merry way.

   Instead, I give it a hearty "fuck it" and go on my merry way, only to be disappointed when Katamari Damacy is already rented at Blockbuster.

   And to think, there was a point when I didn't think I could weave all that into the same narrative. After doing some 1,600 of these, I'm apparently far better at it than I thought.


December 12, 2005 - Flush Catchers
   Power To The People: Far be it for me to question the motivations and intelligence levels of a protesting crowd, but ...

Craftsmanship is important.
-- Really, show a little pride. Craftsmanship counts.
I'm sure you could have found more cardboard in that Dumpster.


A pro-death penalty protester who asked to not be identified, left, holds up a sign as he is surrounded by anti-death penalty protesters outside of San Quentin State prison in San Quentin, Calif. on Monday. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger denied clemency to Stanley Tookie Williams, the founder of the Crips gang who awaited execution after midnight Tuesday. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

   I'm not exactly sure how the death penalty is racist -- and I would imagine the killing of the site's namesake would be an "Emergency!" as the banner says -- but I do know that Idaho and Oklahoma are the only two states who still have "death by firing squad" as a possible outcome, though Utah has committed the only two deaths from it in the U.S. since 1977.

   The things you learn.

   You'll Put Your Eye Out: After reading this story, I'm glad I've made the decision to wait as long as possible before deciding to let people shoot things into my eyes in an effort to see better. Not only because, theoretically, the procedures will get better with time, but there's always the chance I can win the lottery in the interim.

But there's still no guarantee of 20/20 eyesight, the procedure's long-term safety is unknown and one recent study showed nearly 18 percent of patients require a second Lasik treatment. A lack of health insurance coverage keeps the procedure a luxury item, affordable only to people who can spare $3,000 to $5,000.

The average Lasik patient is about 39 years old with an income of about $88,000, said Dave Harmon, president of Market Scope, a company that tracks the industry.

"Their education level is significantly higher than average," Harmon said. "Very few people in their 20s have it done. Very few people in their 50s have it done."

   I am, in fact, none of those things. But on the plus side, I have never signed a paper that says I'm willing to undergo a procedure that may cost me "lines of vision on the vision chart that cannot be corrected with glasses, contact lenses, or surgery as a result of treatment."

   I consider that a success, plus "implantable contact lenses" sound way more disgusting.

Two Heads Won't Outshine The One
-- Still available, World Series everything! SALE! SALE! SALE! Look at us! We've made a decision! Buy some grass!

   • Given my longstanding status as a dork, I feel well within my rights to deem this Christmas light display completely and utterly "dorktastic." And the fact that it's over because it was causing car accidents? Only adds to its legend, since like the Hartford Whalers, dorks think things are ever better once they can't see/get/drink/eat them anymore.

   You may have already seen this given the guy was on the Today show already. I suppose since I learned about it my paper, this only reinforces the fact that we really are "Delivering Your Life ... From A Few Days Ago."

   [ Rimshot ]


December 11, 2005 - Stupid Chiefs
   Flaw In The Ointment: So there's this new invention, an Anti-Paparazzi Flash. Working based on science I don't really understand, it's an item that "detects the presence of a digital camera's lens and then shoots light directly at the camera when a photographer tries to take a picture." Screws up the photograph, preventing starf'ers from getting those celebrity pictures they need to live.

   Course, this conveniently forgets the important role the crap mags play in our celebrity ecosystem. Not to mention that if the paparazzi aren't able to get a picture of you the first time, they will continue to snap pictures of you until they get one. Which probably means more photographic attempts.

   But hey ... go science.

   Today's Steal From Fark: Someone's translating graffiti in Pompeii, and they apparently agree with me that the world's finest philosophy comes from the world's bathroom walls.

"Weep, you girls. My penis has given you up. Now it penetrates men's behinds. Goodbye, wondrous femininity!"

   I don't think I've ever wished for anything to be real more than this. Except maybe that time the Montreal Expos were rumored to be moving to Boston, making it a two-team town again.


   • This evening at work, one of my coworkers expressed ease with the idea of him going to pick up a dinner order from a new Chinese restaurant. Why?

   Because he "could pack a bowl" on the way to go get the food.

   Suffice to say, the office is a more fun place when I'm the one in charge of the sports department for the night.


December 10, 2005 - Pizza Pass
   The Winner, And Once Again ...: Looks like Dunkin' Donuts isn't so bad after all, as our Southern friends at Krispy Kreme are giving up the fight. In the past week, shops have closed without warning in Medford and Saugus, Mass. (to go with the location in downtown Boston) and in Newington, Conn., which apparently was the first one in New England.

The shop's Oct. 8, 2002, grand opening drew thousands, and for weeks the Berlin Turnpike was a traffic nightmare, with cars lined up for miles for hot glazed doughnuts that had achieved cult-like status.

Earlier this year, the North Carolina-based company's board of directors ousted its top executive and replaced him with a specialist it hopes can save a company beset by allegations of corporate deceit.

It's under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission for franchise acquisitions. It hasn't filed a quarterly financial report since October 2004. And shareholders are suing, claiming Krispy Kreme executives tried to hide evidence of declining doughnut sales around 2003.

Krispy Kreme stock closed at $6.03 Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange. In 2003, the stock was near $50 a share.

   Apparently, you really can't run a doughnut shop in New England while having what I'm told is grotesque, awful coffee. I don't know how you can tell the difference between one kind of water run through beans against another, but I seem to be in the minority.

Last year, neighbors caught the shop baking doughnuts and smuggling them out in trucks in the middle of the night to area supermarkets, in violation of a zoning permit. Lori Dubowsky, who lives next door to the shop, said it had no business operating on the Berlin Turnpike.

"They weren't just a store selling doughnuts, but they wanted to run a doughnut factory and mass produce doughnuts 24 hours a day," Dubowsky said.

   I just like the image of people waking in the night, slowly sitting up in bed to the muffled sound of dough falling into hot oil. Sneaking to the window, or perhaps getting in their car and driving with the headlights off, to discover the company's secret plans ... not making doughnuts, but mass producing them along with cocaine and illegal arms.

   I'm just disappointed this didn't happen in Agawam. Then, I could have fired off a letter to the town newspaper that could have started a civil war, and probably gotten me a lifetime supply of Sausage, Egg and Cheese bagel sandwiches.

   Mmm. Innard patties.

   It Has Begun: I received my first Christmas card of the season this weekend -- a small one, containing a losing scratch ticket, from Julie's roommate Megan. Megan is notable, among other things, for decorating the apartment she shares with my girlfriend thoroughly for holidays. She also makes very good chili and apple pie, which you will eat if you visit the apartment regardless of whether or not you thought you were hungry when you entered.

   Megan is cool. Easily the coolest person I've ever met from New Jersey. And probably also the only person from New Jersey who ever had her chili complimented.

   See what happens when you send me a Christmas card? Way better than, you know, me actually sending you a Christmas card.

   Course, she's not the first one of you to send me an actual present, but since I was informed I can't open that until Christmas, it will have to wait.

Manny-Tejada Swap Short On Reality
-- This would be far more exciting than when the Montreal Expos were supposedly moving to Boston, but ultimately is probably ending the exact same way.

   • I've debated creating a new recurring feature where I visit a random page from my new fascination, Wikipedia, and go off on a tangent about it. Whether or not that happens, here's what I learned today:

   Darrell Hammond, with a record 11 seasons as a repetory player on Saturday Night Live, is either the smartest man in show business or the saddest. Being good at what he does and able to captivate a captive audience, he has stayed on SNL instead of moving on to mediocre careers in TV and movies. Also, Horatio Sanz has been laughing through sketches for eight seasons and counting.

   And I finally saw the Charles Rocket video from 1981, with 'impressed' not exactly on the tip of my tongue. I'm more impressed that Julia Sweeney wrote a whole blog entry after his suicide as though he would have wanted to be remembered instead, basically, for being Pat's pursuer in "It's Pat."

   And also, "Stuart Saves His Family" apparently got good reviews and Adrien Brody is banned from hosting in the future for something than his nose and/or chin wounding someone backstage. The end.


December 9, 2005 - Tartar-Control Duff
   More Gaming News For Westchester: I'd like to think that there's some affluent debutants in some portion of the New York Times' readership area that have no idea what to do with this.

One of China's newest factories operates here in the basement of an old warehouse. Posters of World of Warcraft and Magic Land hang above a corps of young people glued to their computer screens, pounding away at their keyboards in the latest hustle for money.

The people working at this clandestine locale are "gold farmers." Every day, in 12-hour shifts, they "play" computer games by killing onscreen monsters and winning battles, harvesting artificial gold coins and other virtual goods as rewards that, as it turns out, can be transformed into real cash.

That is because, from Seoul to San Francisco, affluent online gamers who lack the time and patience to work their way up to the higher levels of gamedom are willing to pay the young Chinese here to play the early rounds for them.

   And to think, I'm sure those are jobs that unemployed Americans would be more than willing to do, no matter what President Bush says.

"They're exploiting the wage difference between the U.S. and China for unskilled labor," says Edward Castronova, a professor of telecommunications at Indiana University and the author of "Synthetic Worlds," a study of the economy of online games. "The cost of someone's time is much bigger in America than in China."

   I want to believe he's pushing to create an "Economy of Online Games" major at IU, but that's partially because I want to see some world-savvy Internet gamers have to spend four years in Bloomington.


   • For as long as The Simpsons has been on, has Smithers always been hinted at as being a homosexual? Because I believe he would predate both Ellen and Amanda Bearse.

   Course, this is probably one of those questions that I don't actually want an answer to. Though exactly why, I don't know.


December 8, 2005 - The People Really Do Care
   JQ, Part Two: Sportswriting's representative tumbled tonight on Jeopardy, ultimately undone because he couldn't find the word 'carnauba,' as in 'carnauba wax.' As I told him, sitting in Julie's living room, I did exactly what he did, only had the luxury to talk it out not in front of 80 gabillion people.

   Mercifully, I don't believe he got any Turtle Wax. And years of TRASH play made it OK that he swept through five Pauly Shore questions on national television, because after all, there is no shame ... only cash.

   UConn 78, UMass 60: The actual game is of little consequence. Having seen UMass play against UAB in Springfield, they had about a 2 percent of making this even a contest.

   What is of consequence is Jim Calhoun. Realizing that Travis Ford might ultimately make the Minutemen back into a respectable program -- we are approaching the 10-year anniversary of their Final Four loss -- he's apparently doing what he does best: pushing away his dinner so he can fill up on cupcakes.

While last year's memories are nice, this could be the last chance for any of these players to beat the Huskies, as rumors are circulating that UConn coach Jim Calhoun will end this interstate matchup, and the team is focused on ending the rivalry on top.

   They were a little more direct on the news, saying he'd said if UConn won, he'd end the vaunted "U Game." Whatever ... I need a few good enemies. And we're only three days away from what might just be a train wreck: UMass vs. Boston University at the Mullins Center. Can the Terriers keep rolling and build on their two-game win streak? Or will UMass sober up for long enough to stick it to those private-school prissies?

Now The Sox Have Really Blown Things Up
-- Second straight day with a column, second straight day my headline starts with 'now.' I suppose putting the word 'Stupid' that big in the paper might agitate some people.

   • So tonight, I went by the UPS center in North Dartmouth to pick up a package that kept not getting left at my apartment -- I can now add broken buzzer to the list of maladies at my apartment, which is just cheap enough and just nice enough to make me not able to do better elsewhere.

   The clerk finds my package in the back, passing it off to another driver to sign out and complete the transaction. While he's scanning my package and asking for my driver's license, he suddenly turns and looks at me:

"You look familiar ... do you write for the paper?"

   So finally, after three-plus years of haphazardly waiting and wondering, a UPS driver becomes the first person to ever recognize without already knowing I work for the newspaper. This, of course, led me to take said recognition and realization that I had a "fan" exactly how you'd think -- as though I'd never been recognized before. That should go without saying ... the only way it could have been any better is if I'd slipped on a patch of ice right as I walked outside.

   At least it didn't end with, "Yeah, you suck, and my buddies and I mock the shit out of you." Because that only would have been funny once I'd gotten in the car and stopped crying.


December 7, 2005 - Blood Blister
   Today's Appropriate Link: Of course, it's the Pearl Harbor conspiracy theory page. Should everything there be true, sure, I'll believe it.

   Otherwise, it stinks more than the inside of a wet vacuum cleaner. And trust me, that's not real pleasant.

   'Battle of Attrition': Given the likelihood I will ever appear on a game show, major kudos to JQ, who at the very second I sit here is America's reigning Jeopardy champion. With a 1-day total of $4,001, no less.

   Though apparently, his episode won't air until tonight on most of the West Coast. So, um, forget everything I just said.

Now Grady Has Real Chance To Prove Himself
-- You didn't think I could really just let this slide by, did you?

   • This is not quite a contrivoversy, but it's pretty damn close. And when I wake up Thursday morning, Edgar Renteria will probably be gone ... given I'm pretty sure he was the birth of the word, it seems appropriate.

   Well, not really ... it was dealing with the Red Sox not giving out the rings at their 2005 opener. But since he was there, I'm making it work.

   And now to go hope I don't wake up with a black eye afte whacking myself with a brass and crystal container lid. An enriching experience, I can assure you.


December 6, 2005 - The Dog Didn't Bark
   Easing Fears: Having now made "The 48 Faces of Death" perfect and installing it on my computer at the office, with more to come, I wonder where I can truly go from here. The first thought was to start making screamers and a sister shock site, but it seems easier to start another headshot collective.

   I give you, "No-Necked People At The 'King Kong' Premiere."

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
-- AHHHHHHHHHHHH! The checkerboard from Hell!

   If only I knew how to make Flash movies. If only Peter Jackson hadn't lost 100 pounds and started wearing suit jackets. If only.

   First (and Last) Fantasy Roundup: I have only one fantasy football team this season, the "Massachusetts Mooninites." Here is my starting lineup, with the player's positional scoring rank in parenthesis after their name.

QB: Peyton Manning, Colts (2)
RB: LaMont Jordan, Raiders (5)
Warrick Dunn, Falcons (12)
WR: Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals (4)
Torry Holt, Rams (6)
Amani Toomer, Giants (33)
LB: Jonathan Vilma, Jets (2)
DL: Patrick Kerney, Falcons (21)
DB: Charles Tillman, Bears (1)
K: Sebastian Janikowski, Raiders (12)
P: Donnie Jones, Dolphins (2)

   Seems pretty good, right? It is ... the best team I've ever assembled, most of which I've held all season via the draft. In my 10-team league, MMN is the second-leading scorer.

   And yet, I'm 5-8. Not simply out of the playoffs and money, but the No. 9 seed out of 10. Granted, I'm not real good at advanced math, but I wouldn't even have thought that possible at the beginning of the season.

   With 100 points the benchmark of a very good week, I've cleared it in 6 of 13 weeks ... and lost twice. You don't care, and really, I don't either.

   I'm just glad Julie had to sit there and watch me lovingly draft my team all those weeks ago instead of us going out to get dinner. Good thing her rage threshhold allows me to be a dumbass like 1-2 days a month before she stops letting me drug her food.

Why I Miss The Student Section: Though I suspect that's not where this happened.

Now believe me, I am in favor of people having the right to feel comfortable in establishments. But it's very simple: don't expect people to behave how you see fit, especially if it would be uncharacteristic of the establishment. I was not yelling "d-che" at a referee while she tried to enjoy a delicious lobster bisque at a fine dining restaurant; it was at a hockey game. A college hockey game.

   Amber Hathaway, of the SED Class of '06, I wish you the very best of luck in your chosen field. Not only do you have exactly what it takes, but you're going to make some guy very happy someday.

   And take that from a guy who has friends once told angrily to "sit down" by former BU Smoking Man Jon Silber when we invaded the nice seat for the final moments of a Beanpot. Suffice to say, his request was not honored.


   • And finally today, a picture problem. No comic formulas needed, since I don't have an actual physical representation of me sitting on that train platform in Queens, questioning why I actually like sports at all.

Grady Little, Dodgers Manager
-- How does one properly express a balanced 'fear-rage-contentment' blend?

Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti, left, presents new team manager Grady Little with his team jersey and ball cap at a news conference at the winter baseball meetings on Tuesday in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

   I knew I should have choked him out at the damned Game 7 press conference. Though like I said my latest column not to run last week, none of us really have anything to worry about.

   The current Dodgers lineup won't be making any NLCS appearances anytime soon.


December 5, 2005 - A Promise Is A Promise
   The Best Part About Sonic: Thanks to the reminder from JQ, it struck me I didn't mention the best part about when you order Watermelon Root Beer. The part where you have to repeat yourself six times because the staff inside the building isn't actually sure they understand why a person would want watermelon syrup in their root beer.

   Which is somewhat strange, given the confusion about the Chocolate Dr. Pepper seemed to only be about whether Dr. Pepper or Diet Dr. Pepper were supposed to be the base.

   Also, it's a good thing they have the advantage of scarcity in their corner, since in two meals I got no promised sauce with my popcorn chicken, no promised sauce with my chicken finger combo and no fork with which to eat my cole slaw. I managed in all cases, but still ... if I've decided there's less of a chance your food will kill me than McDonald's food, the least you can do is not make me do mayonnaise-and-cabbage shooters.

   Speaking of Shooters: I'd like to thank America for joining me in not watching Stephen A. Smith's "Quite Frankly" on ESPN2, but I do have to say killing him might be a bit over the top.

Most common emailed story to us today: The BenMaller.com report that 'Quite Frankly' host Stephen A. Smith showed up in the press box of the USC-UCLA game with two bodyguards in tow. According to people who were there -- we've heard from some people in the press box who saw it as well -- it was the first time anyone can remember a press person bringing bodyguards into the press box.

   Apparently, being Noted Racist Stephen A. Smith is not all just privileges and catered lunches.


   • I suppose in some small way you did ask for it, since when I originally said there's be 31 photographs, I was corrected about their being 30 days in November -- yeah, I'm aware there a rhyme, but when December, November, October and September all end in the same sound ... doesn't really work too well.

   Midway through last month, it struck me that all the photographs I'd posted lacked something. This makes sense, given someone has to operate the camera, but since part of this project was to get me to pore through my own work and see what was there, I felt like I was leaving out a large chunk of it.

   As such, your 31st and final photograph of the JonCouture.com Art Project features the one thing you would figure permeate it, since Lord knows it permeated everything else here.

Cooch Mosaic
-- Me.
Click here for a 1024-by-768 wallpaper version.

   Cobbled together from a pool of 84 shots taken between 1996 and roughly two weeks ago. Should you really be itching for backstory on any of them, you know as well as I do that I'm never smart enough to leave something untold.

   And let's just say that even if you don't use it and scare your family, I'll be jarring a few of my coworkers in the coming days.


December 2-4, 2005 - It Remains Tenne-believin
   That Awful 31st Photograph: Look for it in Tuesday's update.

   Then forget you ever saw it.

   Giants 17, Cowboys 10: Given I was traveling, I didn't seea second of it. But I would like to thank Drew Bledsoe, whose 15-for-39, 146-yard, one-touchdown, two-interception, two-fumble performance has restored my faith in the National Football League.

   Now, sweep into the playoffs and make me friggin' proud, Big Blue.


   • The winter has officially begun in New England. After clamboring off the shuttle to long-term parking at T.F. Green Airport outside Providence, I walked to my car. Somewhat freshly covered with a crunchy, half-inch coat of snow -- considering how I dodged numerous flight delays all weekend, plenty would have taken it -- I opened the door, cranked the heat and got chopping with the scraper.

   After cleaning the roof, windshield and driver's side, I went to walk to the back. Taking the step that would start the left turn around the trunk while giving an initial hack to the quarter panel, I had that immediate feeling that my foot was continuing to travel forward at an alarming, friction-free rate.

   For those of you unfamiliar, there's that initial instinct when you feel yourself falling about trying to save yourself by turning into it, like a skid. With the scraper in my hand, I couldn't really grab the car, which had nowhere to grab anyway. The second foot and third step trying to steady also failed, which led me to that magical moment where you realize you're taking a major, parallel-to-the-ground shitter, but haven't actually struck the ground yet.

   The left ass cheek looks generally unbruised, and I really wasn't much worse for wear. Plus, no one saw it and there was no aftershock fall stemming from rage over the first. That, of course, being the one where the fellow traveler sees you and either laughs or, worse, tries to help you up because he thinks you're unable to operate your legs.


   In a perfect world, this fall would have something to do with the weekend trip to Chattanooga, ostensibly for this quiz bowl tournament but mainly because I like traveling places and hadn't seen most of the other attendees in a while. Sadly, the fall really doesn't, since when the weekend began I'd have been shocked if you told me I'd have been anything other than the fourth most valuable of the four people on my team.

   Given the rare times I now play are usually against people who are still underclassmen, it would be easy to think my ability to place in the top individual scorers (and earn crappy prizes) means I'm actually getting better. And I suppose, in some small way, that's true. Yet when I go against the people who used to kick my ass when I was an undergraduate, and have aged at exactly the same rate I have while probably watching more crappy prime time television, it really shouldn't be surprising to know they still kick my ass.

   That said, I'd like to think my 15 correct tossup answers:

Cruisin' USA
(video game, N64, sequels)
Cleveland ('Family Guy')
(auctioneer until struck by ...)
'Scrubs'
(TLC song version, from characteristics)
Calder
(namesake of AHL trophy)
Big Bertha
(dimensions, 'Great' model)
Joanie "Chyna" Laurer
(sex tape with Sean Waltman)
Miss Jackson
(apologized to in Outkast song)
Julio Franco
('94 White Sox, played many places)
The Gates
(26 years in the making ...)
Don Denkinger
(ejected J. Andujar in Game 7 '85 WS, previous night ...)
Dwight ('The Office')
(Picked company's health insurance)
Mr. Hanky ('South Park')
(white gloves, visits around holidays)
Hardee's
(restaurant, started serving patties of Carl's Jr.)
Tucker Max
(UChicago Law, known for dating exploits)
Esteban
(blind in left eye, lounge act, informerical ...)

   were mostly ones both my teammates and the guy I replaced semi last-minute wouldn't have gotten because they're old and, well, not as hip as the kid with his own awful Web site.


   There are so many things worth discussing over the three days, that many of them are going to fall by the wayside. However, thanks to bullet technology, they can at least get a cheap pop:

   -- It's apparently not just accepted to go 85 mph on the Massachusetts Turnpike anymore, it's nearly becoming too slow itself.

   -- Southwest Airlines has just added a non-stop flight from Providence to Las Vegas which I will, in fact, refer to in public as the "DeVeau Express." DeVeau being Shawn DeVeau, the man who would make my gambling problem look like kids playing marbles in the street if he didn't know what he was doing at the craps tables.

   -- T.F. Green has a game room where somebody poured six credits into the South Park pinball machine, then apparently realized he was late for his plane. I'd like to thank that person, because otherwise, I'd have forgotten how badly I suck at pinball and how I get my whole body into pushing the flipper button, as though it will change the fact I suck at pinball.

   -- Charlotte, while being the airport that theoretically stole my Whalers based on proximity, has an absolutely lovely holiday terminal.

Charlotte Douglas Airport
-- Not Shown: The wireless Internet or the piano music.

   There was a point on my returning layover when I decided I really wanted to just stay in that rocking chair forever and never go home, but I dare say the background for that wouldn't fit with the tenor of visual questions about whether something was a dog toy or marital aid. So let's just move on.

   -- The Nashville airport, on the other hand, features country music stars voicing the security and customer service messages over the loudspeaker, "designated smoking areas" with glass walls and dim flourescents lights that highlight the death in the air, and has at least one defribulation machine "dedicated to Loretta Lynn." Because apparently, she's somehow relevant to that.

   Have I ever mentioned that in 100 out of 100 cases, I would choose to live in the Northeast over the South? Now I have, though it didn't come before the commercial for americanworker.org came on, informing President Bush "if immigration increases we'll have more foreign workers who'll work for next to nothing" and that "back in '86, we gave amnesty to nearly 3 million illegal aliens. ... Yeah, don't give jobs away again."

   Suffice to say, we don't hear much from them in the blue states. Or red states. Or whatever the hell color we were in that map I did with the hurricanes.

   -- Mark Coen is better than you at bar trivia, able to deal with the little distractions like me realizing they use copious Jack in Tennessee Jack and Cokes, and the waitress apologizing to us about 15 times for various things.

No. 1 at NTN
-- We have the statistical proof, no matter where you are.

   -- There might be hope for "Aeon Flux" after all.

Serious fans of Chung's original version, which ran on MTV in the early 1990s as part of the network's Liquid Television lineup, might not mind that the feature film looks like it was edited by a food processor.

Since Aeon is very good at her job and the movie must last more (much more) than 20 minutes, assassinating Trevor comes with a wrinkle. And that wrinkle is sex. He and Aeon share a history of some sort. But darn if she can't remember what it is.

What ensues is a lot of shooting, kicking, and running. The filmmakers offer special effects that I once used as screensavers and the sight of Theron climbing up and down curtains. Her every stunt feels like an audition for Cirque du Soleil.

   Will I go see it? Never was going to. But at least I know the filmmakers stayed true to the original cartoons, which also made no fucking sense.

   -- In the five hours of round-trip drive from Nashville to Chattanooga, I saw an ad for spray-on bedliners "WITH AN ATTITUDE!!," a fistful of fireworks superstores with attached packies and gas stations, and enough tar paper and abandoned barns to bring only one word, with all due respect, to mind.

   Appalachilicous.

* * * * *

   All that, however, must take a backseat to food. Specifically, one trip for food, since it's not surprising that in a nerd collective such that we are, there would be numerous journeys to get food at places with food different than the crap food we can get where we live.

   And since there isn't Sonic where most of us live, it gets the most attention. Right ahead of Sticky Fingers, I believe, where I ate for the first time inches from a celebrity autographed picture of ... the newly single Legs O'Tunafish.

   On Saturday night, two vehicles took nine of us through a mountain, past some place that offered "food deals" to a Sonic. Full well aware of the concepts involving dining inside warm cars, we put down somewhere in the vicinity of $70 worth of crap while questioning the tastefulness of playing anything by Katrina and the Waves and scaring the help with odd soda orders.

   Among them:

Chocolate Diet Dr. Pepper
Watermelon Root Beer
Watermelon Diet Coke *
Pineapple Coke *

* - actually ordered Friday night on another Sonic trip, but this is what we call "writer's license."

   I'll stop, since it was really one of those things where you had to be there. But just be glad that my "do anything once" policy wasn't quite enough to get me to throw down the gauntlet, take my stomach in my hands and order a Blue Coconut Dr. Pepper.

   I'm pretty sure that would have made falling on the ice in Providence some 24 hours later the least of my problems.


December 1, 2005 - Still The King For Ground Cow
   City of Champions: It wasn't that long ago when New England was experiencing a golden age of sport. And I suppose in some ways, we still are.

   However, let's recap. The Celtics are terrible. The Bruins have traded away their captain in some effort to save the future, and let me tell you, the world is thrilled.

BostonBruins.com Poll
-- Only 75 percent of the fan base is panicking.

   Injuries and everything else have apparently finally caught up to the Patriots, and the Red Sox? Well, when they're not going to court over that stupid f'ing baseball, they're making sure you haven't forgotten that they won the World Series.

Sox Lithograph -- BUY! BUY! BUY!

   Well, at least making sure your wallet hasn't forgotten. And really, isn't that the most important part?

   And tell me ... if this is your lede:

To Red Sox fans, it is priceless -- the baseball that Keith Foulke flipped to Doug Mientkiewicz on an October night in St. Louis last year to clinch the team's first World Series championship in 86 years.

   can this quote then be anywhere in your story, even if it is the last paragraph?

Brian Demers, a 42-year-old Red Sox fan from Needham who works in the telecommunications industry, said the whole flap was silly.

''Although the ball may have some historic value, I don't think it's worth fighting over," he said. ''At the end of the day, they won the World Series."

   Course, the team put out a statement they seek only to "display and preserve the historic artifact for all of Red Sox Nation to enjoy." Because, you know, they haven't already gotten enough artifacts from a World Championship that continues to be one day further into history every time the sun rises.


   • Tonight, Julie and I went to Red Robin, not too recent expandee into the burgeoning shopping metropolis of Enfield, Conn. Given their proclamations that they're best known for "gourmet burgers," I became hopeful that they could unseat that favorite chain of mine whose closest location to Whale City is approximately not next door.

   Sadly, they were merely "good." Admittedly, it was better than most, but when you're paying more because the place offers "bottomless steak fries," I'm not exactly the clientele they're shooting for.

   In the lobby, they have a television set in the floor of the lobby for some reason ... I guess it's less obtrusive than having it hang from the ceiling where more people could watch it, though it did allow me to step on Mario Lopez's face during ESPN Hollywood -- gotta love 'The Brushback.'

   The ceiling of the lobby was chock full of balloons presumably available for anyone to take. Course, when one exploded right when a girl of about six came walking through, I have to give her and her mom credit for making sure everyone held everything together.


   So, in conclusion, Red Robin is a decent to above-average place to eat, but so are TGI Friday's, The Ground Round, Chili's, Pizzeria Uno and The Olive Garden. And plus, depending on who you go with, going to The Olive Garden might make someone think you're rich and are going to ask to marry them.

   Plus, free salad and breadsticks is a little better for you than continuous french fried potaters. Even if you do wash them down with booze-glazed chicken and cream sauce.

   And if you do go to Red Robin, don't look at your comment card because it has a sad face of their mascot on it. Of course, most people aren't saddened by sad-looking cartoon characters, but it's a pre-emptive warning regardless.


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