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Dec. 24, 2008 - Road Dork
   Priorities and Realities: Please note the following.

Georgia Tech in SNToday
-- From Sporting News Today

   Please notice which players apparently don't expect to be playing pro football.

   • Today, I learned that I live on the second-longest road in America. And it's not as though I've never traveled on the longest.

Bishop, Calif.
-- In Bishop, Calif. Absurd road signs might be my favorite thing.

From 1936 until 1964, when most of its route through California was eliminated, US 6 was the longest highway in the country, but the truncation dropped its length below that of U.S. Route 20.

Since it was pieced together from other routes, US 6 does not serve a major transcontinental corridor, as other highways like U.S. Route 40 do. George R. Stewart, author of U.S. 40: Cross Section of the United States of America, initially considered US 6, but realized that "Route 6 runs uncertainly from nowhere to nowhere, scarcely to be followed from one end to the other, except by some devoted eccentric."

   Drive it in Eastern Connecticut. That's fair.
Dec. 21, 2008 - My Game Room? Golden Tee Golf.
   You Want An Image?: Our hunting columnist usually does a pretty good job of painting the picture with his weekly pieces, but he outdid himself this time.

That's one advantage of gutting a small deer. You only get your hands dirty. On regular size deer, you need to roll your sleeves all the way up and take your wristwatch off because you'll get dirty up to your elbows. On big deer, you pretty much need to take off your shirts and be bare-chested because you'll get dirty up to your arm pits when you reach in to cut the wind pipe, which releases the heart and lungs that are high up in the chest cavity.

   Oh that? That was nothing.

For monster deer, you need to get naked, crawl in and kick the guts out.

   This somehow seamlessly flows into a discussion of his favorite types of alcohol. That right there is a mastery of the craft.

   • This may have made me want to go into politics. The White House is pretty cool for being full of antiques and very ugly rooms.

   If only I wouldn't be the worst president in the history of presidents. I couldn't even get elected to head the Agawam High School National Honor Society, for Christ sakes.

   And what a boon that was. Getting to make fun of the annual events as opposed to planning them was definitely fate looking out for my well-being.
Dec. 19, 2008 - They Were The Smith Unicorns?!
   • So Smith College, the pinnacle of the "Seven Sisters" and one of those places where it's not an exaggeration to expect flak if you're a guy, has released a new "spirit mark" for its athletic teams. (These are the things you discover when you're researching the NECBL.)

Field of Dreams?
-- My first New Bedford Bay Sox-related magnum opus. With census data!

   The Smith College nickname is the "Pioneers." Get that image in your head. Now, what do you think of when you think of "Pioneers"? OK, got that? I bet I know what you weren't thinking of.

Smith College Logo
-- An angry woman!

The woman looks tough. She looks strong. Maybe just a little mean. She's not someone you'd want to meet in a dark alley.

. . .

"We were looking for a competitive, intense, kind of athletic person. We didn't want a cartoonish character that could make people laugh at the athletic programs of a women's college," said Lynn Oberbillig, director of athletics at the Northampton school. "We were thinking more about how we perceive ourselves rather than how others perceive us."

   Look, I'm a pretty callous jerk. I'm not proud of it, but I accept it. But that is exactly how everyone perceives Smith College. I am not speaking hyperbole when I say I know people who've walked on campus there to find screeds against men written on the sidewalks in chalk.

   I'll give them this: They made me laugh and got a logo that's how they perceive themselves. That's some solid design work.
Dec. 17, 2008 - My Day With DD
   • Whale City's getting its own baseball team.

Meet the Bay Sox.
-- Very major junior hockey team, don't you think?

Bay Sox' Success Starts With GM
-- Man, was this guy happy to talk baseball following an afternoon of pomp.

Lang Happy To Have Team, No Matter The League
-- Brief sider with the mayor. They'll be more at a future date.

   In short, we're getting the Cape League lite -- the league former Red Sox GM and press conference star Dan Duquette has helped grow for the past 15 years. I haven't ever seen a game, but I've been aware of its existence ... I have no doubt people around here will spend the next five months announcing how destined the whole thing is to fail without giving it a moment's deeper thought.

   For me, the debate going into the assignment was exactly what I'd say to Duquette. He's obviously a guy with huge significance locally, plus the NECBL is largely viewed as his baby. He runs one team, but he basically speaks for all of them.

   His team, the Pittsfield American Defenders, is centered around a new homage to the military that he's also using with the dearly departed Nashua Pride. It may seem like a strange name until you consider what the Pittsfield team was called through this summer: the Dukes, which means they basically named the team after Duquette. No worse than that.

   I was definitely not expecting the political factor to be as strong as it was. Landing a team has been a longtime mission to help build up tourism, so there were councilors and school committee members who all needed their time to espouse -- thus leading to the day's highlight for me, when our New Bedford government reporter introduced me to the mayor's spokeswoman as my boss. Hey we've got two Jons in the department. He had a 50-50 shot.

   So after all the speeches were done, after the jerseys were held aloft and one of the older politicos proudly announced to the bar where they held the event, "A lot of our kids are poor, but they have hearts of gold," I got down to business. A good chunk of time with the owner of the team in Holyoke, which I've always basically said is Whale City if you replace the Portuguese with Puerto Ricans. A brief couple questions with the mayor, in so much as one can be brief with a nice guy who's very thorough in everything he answers. A long chat with the GM, who's been with the franchise for 12 years (but apparently neglected to mention he used to own it before these new owners bought it before last season.)

   I was more than all set, given the open-ended guidance I'd been given back at the office. (There's not really a word for the quizzical look the editor in chief gave me when asked, "So, what do you want from the baseball?" I had enough for three stories, which wouldn't have been a problem if I wasn't supposed to lay out half the section after I wrote. So I looked toward my ride and hinted I was ready to go.

   At which point it really occurred to me I'd completely blown off Duquette. Not that I hadn't wanted to talk to him, just that given his status, he'd been getting grabbed for pictures and conversations every time I'd started over to pull him aside.

   I believe my exact words were to my co-worker were, "I feel like I should just ask him something based on general principles." I believe his exact words to me were, "Eh, fuck that guy."

   I'm sure there's some corners of Red Sox fandom who find that the incredibly apt end to this story.

   The Bay Sox GM, as I suspect Duquette wouldn't have, did say to me after I handed him my card that he's read my columns in the past. As I think back on it, I don't recall him actually saying he thought they were any good, But I'll take what I can get.
Dec. 13, 2008 - Why The Whale On The Ceiling?
   • My point is not to mock the Bass Pro Shops, which now has some of my money following a mandatory gift-purchasing expedition this afternoon.

Pork Rinds

   My point is to get you all over there while supplies last.

   You probably don't need to run ... from the looks of things, they appear pretty shelf-stable. It's hard to say if the Patriots cheerleaders are there greeting customers every day, though.
Dec. 2, 2008 - An Evening at Target
   Commemorative Plates: They obviously keep making them for a reason, but do you know anyone who's ever owned one? I'm reasonably certain I don't.

   I think the number of products along these lines says something. That something being pretty much the exact opposite of what the commemorated event is supposed to be making me think.

   • People want to advertise the things they love, be it through a T-shirt, a bumper sticker or a tattoo. That's not new.

   Nor is the idea that some ideas have come to market before someone went, "Hey, are you sure about this?"

Wii Boxer Shorts
-- This is a message that could be misconstrued
by anyone who gets to see said boxer shorts in use.

   They'll probably be more likely to point it out if they've had too much to drink, something that can be prevented by making getting booze an elaborate show that's more trouble than it's worth.

Gas Can
-- The perfect home for your bathtub liquers.

   I will say, the gas can alcohol dispenser reminds me of some rapper's episode of MTV Cribs. He was walking around the house drinking out of a full-size plastic gas can.

   I still think having a basketball hoop in my senior-year apartment was better, but I suppose it's a debatable point.
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