This week I spent a fair amount of timing considering the upcoming BC UNC basketball game. I haven’t watched a whole lot of college basketball this year, but I did watch a bunch of UNC games last year, and since they’re returning almost their whole team, with the usual addition of a few McDonalds All Americans, I figured, you know, they’re the best team in the country.

And then I considered my team, BC, and how my perception of them is that they are in a rebuilding mode, and how watching games this year is panning for gold. A freshman like Reggie Jackson will make a few nice plays, and as somebody who doesn’t have his finger on the pulse of high school hoops, I just sort of sit back and allow myself to wonder how good these kids will eventually turn out to be. Because with Al Skinner, you don’t expect the big time recruit out of high school, you expect the overlooked kid who winds up improbably becoming the ACC player of the year.

That’s the beauty of Skinner’s tenure at BC. He’s working with an overlooked program in terms of big time recruits (I think I read that Rakim Sanders was a pretty big deal in high school, but I also read that BC’s never got a McDonald’s All American, whereas Duke and UNC I think have like a combined four or five freshman McDonald’s All Americans this year), it’s own fans, and the local media in a region where pro sports are huge. And yet, despite all this, playing in the Big East and ACC, he’s consistently getting teams into the NCAA tournament. It makes you wonder what would happen if he were the coach at a place like Kansas or something.

Like I said, thinking about the game during the week, I was just kind of wondering what it would be like if BC somehow beat the Tar Heels. On Saturday, St. Johns beat Notre Dame, and that pleased me a great deal. Hey, we beat St. Johns, they beat Notre Dame. That was what I thought would suffice as my silver lining.

And then, of course, BC shocked UNC!!

I am hitting F5 of the the rankings, waiting to see if they bump BC into the top 25. The loss to St. Louis hurts a lot, but they’ve beaten Iowa, St. Johns, and UNC.

But, the best thing about this is that the team is so young, so as expectations are exceeded so are future hopes.

NESN Screws the Pooch!

Now, there was a grey lining to yesterday’s victory. Prior to the game NESN was scrolling an “Alert: UNC BC game to start soon” on the bottom of the screen. That’s a paraphrase, but you get the picture. I was kind of nervous, so I switched the radio on to listen to Sarandis and Ebben. The game finally was broadcast about two seconds prior to tip off. Well, actually, it was probably like ten seconds after tip off, because NESN’s feed was way behind WRKO’s. Also, NESN didn’t have sound for the announcers for the first three minutes. No big deal really though.

What was a big deal was an inexplicable commercial break in the with three or so minutes to go in the game. BC had a 15 point lead with like ten minutes to go, and then UNC woke up and started pouring it on. And just when things were at their most intense, NESN went to commercials from like 3:30 (estimate) to six seconds to go!

NESN blew it BIG TIME!!

The whole end of the game was lost. I tuned into the radio broadcast, but I was so upset that it was hard to focus. Don’t get me wrong, I am still thrilled with the victory, but unlike the last time we knocked off a #1 team, I didn’t get to see the whole thing this time.

I’ll take it, but hopefully next time I get to see it too.

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Back on the MBTA

Yesterday one of the plates on my bicycle chain came loose on the ride to work, and instead of soft pedaling home I opted to take public transportation.  It’d been a while since I had taken the T home from work, and so I was a little rusty when it came to things like rushing down to the platform to stand outside an empty train, only to find out five minutes later, that another train, on another platform would be taking me into the city, but not before it sat dumbly on the track for five to ten minutes.

I spent the time getting my grumpy on, dwelling on my nearly broken bicycle chain, the fact that I haven’t been running lately, all the crap I have to get done, yadda yadda yadda.  Meanwhile, some dopey kid with a Razor scooter and his pal get on the train.  He wasn’t really a kid, so much as a young adult, and the scooter wasn’t so much a mode of transportation but a badge proclaiming him a free spirit.  So, the kid then, is looking around the train all self righteous, and lecturing his pal with this smug sense of bravado.

Though a non-believer at heart I sent a small prayer up asking for the train to jerk forward and send him reeling from his scooter.  Unfortunately, if there was a conversion experience on the redline yesterday it didn’t involve me.

Then the kid is pointing out to his friend that everybody on the T sits a seat apart from everybody else. “It’s like they’re afraid of one another,” and as if to illustrate how silly this is, and to suggest maybe that everybody should sit as close as humanly possible to one another, he plops himself between to people who wanted absolutely nothing to do with him.

I was very tempted to say to nobody in particular, “oh look, Holden Caulfield is on the train today,” but I didn’t for any number of reasons, some of which I will go over now, so that you can get a better look at how exactly I think. 

1. For the most party I am personally very averse to confrontation of all kinds.
2. I wasn’t sure that anybody else on the train would get it.
3. I wasn’t sure I would really get it either since, truth be told, I have never really read Catcher in the Rye.
4. I didn’t feel like the price paid for combatting his ridiculousness (i.e. me suddenly becoming the old crank) was worth it.
5. I knew that I could seek passive-aggresive refuge in my blog and compain about him there.

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I am a Shaws Card Holder

Do you go to Shaws Supermarket?

A lot of people do. In Boston, Shaws just might be the most popular supermarket around. Just about every neighborhood has one, and those neighborhoods that don’t have one, if there are any, probably want one.

When you are inside a Shaws, you can’t help but notice how clean and well laid out all of the aisles are, and how this makes things so easy to find. There is one exception, a certain dirty messy Shaws that I won’t bother to name here, but all of the others I have been to have been everything a supermarket could ever aspire to be.

The bottom line is: Shaws is where it’s at!

I don’t mean to brag or anything, but guess who is a VIP at Shaws?

Mayor Menino?

Maybe, but guess again. Stumped?

The answer is me. This afternoon I received my special Shaws card. Now, no matter which Shaws I go to, all I have to do is show them my premium membership card and I get all sorts of special deals. For example, most people would have to pay $.79 for a candy bar. Well, if I buy two of those candy bars, I get two more FOR FREE!

Now, I don’t think it’s necessary to abuse these privileges. After all, the reason I have this card is because I am a respectable person, and respectable people don’t go around buying 45 cases of Coca-cola just because they are half off through Sunday. Respectable people like myself, card members, know that there will always be a deal waiting for them at Shaws, and stocking up ridiculously on provisions like Coca-Cola is something for people who shop at BJ’s or Costco. There is a bond of trust between us and our supermarket, the knowledge that we will always, despite the looming threat of a nuclear armed Iran, be there for one another.

What was that? You say you would like to go shopping with me? Well now. This relationship is something you have to earn. You can’t just leech off a member in the same way you can’t just become a member. You have to establish a relationship with this institution that shows you possess those same attributes and virtues that Shaws required to become what it is today. Once they get to know you, they will give you a look, a look of familiarity possibly. Something that tells them you are worth investing in. And they will ask you, “Do you have a Shaws card?” And then you will ask them how to get one, and before you know it, trust will have VALUE!

Together, Shaws and you will forge ahead to a bright new future!

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Something to mull over

here are some interesting world series scenarios:

dodgers v red sox
game 7, with the sox down by a run with runners on second and third and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, jason bay hits a scorcher to the gap in left…. juan pierre playing as a defensive replacement for manny makes a dazzling catch.

cubs v yankees
cubs rally for four runs in the bottom of the ninth in game five to win the series and ruin fox’s planned over the top broadcast for games six and seven in the stadium

dodgers v yankees
how classic would this be?

mets v yankees
nice way to exit the old parks, although, i hate even thinking about this.

marlins v rays
what began as a neglected world series by the fans turns into an utterly epic TEN GAME series culminating in a thrilling 18 inning tie!  the by the end, the baseball world is so transfixed by this spectacle, that nobody cares when these teams meet up in the next 10 world series in a row.

white sox v cubs
not so much because it is a chitown ws, but because these teams hate each other and the managers are both nuttier than a bag of planters.

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It Doesn’t Smell as Bad

My house smells pretty good now, thank you very much. Only the dog carries with him, at close range, some residual skunk smell. Lots of candles and small glasses containing cider vinegar seem to have done the trick.

And as the smell dissipates so too do my memories of my sociopath playmate and the weekend down the shore spent so many years ago, and “worms” of course, and the possible connections to meaning this word might have had. Did I, you may ask, guess or infer, based on those scant memories brought to life by the skunk’s glands, any possible rationale behind the strange actions of those card players I met in 1985?

The answer is absolutely not. I did spend some time thinking about it on Friday, and I remembered that I thought that the male in the couple (I don’t remember whether they were married or not) reminded me of Ruly Carpenter, who owned the Phillies when the won the World Series in 1980.

That’s him on the far right with the glasses. 

So, there’s that.  If I can recall anything else about this man and his probably wife I will post it immediately!!

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Dog Meets Skunk

Every night before I go to bed, I take the dogs out back for a quick pee. This is an easy enough thing to do. It’s not like a full scale walk, in which I need to have them harnessed and have my pockets filled with plastic bags. All I basically do is leash the beagle because he can’t be trusted, walk out the door, have them urinate, and then bring them all back inside.

Last night there was a small deviation to the plan. As I opened the back door, the beagle went bonkers, flipping out over what I thought must be a cat somewhere. Because I was so busy trying to restrain him and make him shut up, I was unable to prevent my Jack Russell Terrier from pursuing the cat, which in fact turned out to be a skunk. What followed were a series of events that have since been played back in a terrible slow motion in my mind a million times since. The terrier trotted off after the skunk, who was now on the other side of the fence. A psst sound was heard. The terrier immediately showed up again and ran directly into the house, as I had also been too busy to close the door earlier. It was then that I began to smell that awful smell.

So now the whole house smells like skunk. I bathed the dog outside four different times with four variations of internet remedies, and still my wife had to drag him to the dog salon this morning, which he left still smelling awful. On the plus side, since he was forbidden to sleep in the house last night, I camped out under the stars with him (i.e. on the porch), myself not smelling so hot either by that point.

At some point in the early morning, I was barely conscious enough to register anything more than “something is happening on the porch below”, a giant white van was running on the sidewalk below, and my downstairs neighbor was discussing something with somebody. I made a mental note that the truck said “National Grid” on it in case they were robbing us and the police needed details in the morning and went back to sleep with my disgusting mutt by my side.

It turns out that my neighbor was extremely alarmed, although not at all familiar with, the pervasive smell that invaded our house. Thinking it was a gas leak, he called the gas company and they raced over to tell him that he was in fact smelling a skunk.

The nerve of some people waking me up like that.

One thing that struck me about this whole incident, is that my wife, although suffering from the smell as much as anybody, still radiated her normal everyday drop dead gorgeousness as though I had brought flowers into the house instead.  That there might exist, in the midst (or mist even) of something so foul, true beauty, gives me an almost metaphysical hope nearly religious in scope, but let’s not get carried away here.  But back to the smell, I guess I should feel more guilty about all this, but I do think that most of the fault lies not with me but with the fucking skunk.

The guy made no real attempt to run away. When the dogs spotted him, and believe me, they made every indication they could to let him know he was spotted, he didn’t sprint away, he simply ambled over to the other yard. In other words, while I don’t know for sure what he was thinking, he was probably baiting the dogs, and unfortunately one of them took the bait.

So now every thing stinks. Thanks, idiot.

As bad as things do smell, for me personally the smell evokes memories of a vacation weekend I spent on the Jersey shore as a kid with a sociopath classmate of mine whose name I will neglect to mention in the interest of not being murdered. As nostalgic as I am, in an odd way I welcome my home being flooded with memories of X’s families trailer for a weekend back in 1985. A skunk had sprayed the cabin the first night we slept there and that smell envelops pretty much all of my memories of that weekend away from home. Most prominent among them, and conveniently the only one fit to write about, was the arrival of his parent’s friends for pizza on Saturday night.

X told me before they arrived, whatever you do, do not mention “worms” around them. Why not? Just don’t do it.

Well, the friends, a married couple, showed up, and they were very nice, gregarious people. Very easy to talk to, and everybody was having a good time. I felt so at ease with them that I just had to ask, and then, silence and uneasy stares all around.

Why’d you do that? my psychopathic friend furiously asked later. I didn’t know and I regretted it. I did however get the story out of it, something about the wife asking her husband never to use the word around her, and one time when they were over playing bridge at X’s parent’s house, the husband called her worms and she subsequently knocked him out with a right hook. It was an odd story and made little to no sense to me, but at least I knew, right?

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What we look for in a President

Clinton last night in her not a concession speech:

You are the nurse on the second shift, the worker on the line, the waitress on her feet, the small business owner, the farmer, the teacher, the miner, the trucker, the soldier, the veteran, the student, the hard working men and women who don’t always make the headlines but have always written America’s story.

And of course it’s not just her, all of the pols spout this Ford Trucks commercial kind of stuff all the time which leads us to the first principle of American Political Science, “The candidate most similar to Bob Seger shall be the president.”

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“Going to” Elliott Smith Shows

So, I don’t know what has come over me. I always liked Elliott Smith, at some points more than others, but now I feel like I am going through an Elliott Smith renaissance.  Of sorts.  It all started the other night. I was listening to the iPod and one of his songs came on that has some wierd poetry beneath it.  I tried to figure out what the poems were by putting some of the words I could make out into google.  I found out that they were nonsense poems written by a friend of his like fifteen minutes before the song was recorded, but this information was on a site with all sorts of Elliott information and I just got sucked in reading all about him, because like I said, I was a fan, but not the hugest one, so a lot of the stuff was new to me.

The next day rolls around and I start listening a little closer to all of the songs I have on the iPod, in particular the songs on this live recording that my wife had gotten somewhere or other.  Normally I don’t like live recordings.  They give me the feeling of everybody else is having a good time at the show and all I get is to be stuck at home with a recording.  But this recording, that I’d never really listened to before, is really phenomenal in that it’s incredibly clear, and the songs, in my opinion come across a lot more pure, for lack of a better word, than in studio.

I thought this recording might have been a special one of thing, but it turns out it is one of ninety that are on the archive.org website.  Holy cow.  Just for your information the show I’ve been listening to is from April 17, 1998 in Washington D.C..  Right now I am listening to June 2, 1998 in Stockholm, Sweden.  The Washington show is better because it has the banter, but both are top notch.

And, one more thing.  Lest you feel semi-guilty about robbing Elliott Smith’s estate by downloading or listening to this stuff for free, there are a few notes that his family pretty much encourages listening to this stuff:

Reported post from Charlie who runs the official site re conversation with Gary Smith, Elliott Smith’s father:
“while we were talking, we talked about sharing/trading elliott’s music and he thought it was important to mention it was ok to share or trade elliott’s music because elliott believed people should be able to trade musically with each other and that the family feels the same.”

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Make the World a Better Place

So this dude David McCullough shows up at Boston College and delivers a commencement address.  And you know how these things go, it’s all about go out and change the world, getting a B was the easy part.  I dunno though, if I was sitting there in Alumni Stadium today I think I would have felt shortchanged.  While graduates from other schools are entrusted to go out and end all of our wars and stuff, BC kids are implored to improve grammar.

From the globe:

He said he’s particularly troubled by the “relentless, wearisome use of words” such as like, awesome and actually.

Awesome and Actually:
Not on Our Watch

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An Awkward Moment with the Valet of my Dad’s Hero

One of the things that I know without looking up is that Ted Williams had a .344 lifetime batting average with 521 home runs. I know this because Ted Williams was my dad’s favorite baseball player to the point where there was more than one occasion during my childhood that my dad and I traveled to far away baseball card shows to get The Splendid Splinter’s autograph. In fact, the last time my dad visited, which was maybe two weeks ago, I remember having a conversation about Ted Williams’ teenage years in San Diego. Any part of Teddy Ballgame’s biography is open to us like that. It doesn’t have to be his childhood, it could be his time in the service, his stint managing the Washington Senators, his apartment at the Somerset Hotel in Kenmore square, you name it.

And you can name it because Ted Williams is such an icon. Now I don’t want to get into some sort of contest in which I try to convince you that Ted Williams is more important to my family than he is to yours, that’s not the point. I just want to make it clear that he was my father’s boyhood hero and that I consequently grew up knowing all about Williams.

Now, we all know what happened to Ted Williams after he died. Ted’s son had his father’s head cut off and frozen so that he could live forever. Does this taint a legacy? Who knows? Is it something to talk about? Absolutely.

I think it’s also worth pointing out that in a culture where celebrity supplants deity, this head freezing episode was, in it’s own way, a mini-Easter of sorts.

Which brings us to this morning. It was raining and when I locked up my bike at work I was soaking wet. I have a special shower at work, so it’s no big deal, although walking to the special shower, all wet and soaking through the building with people already dressed for work can be awkward. I used to sneak into the building through a back door, but they’ve since clamped down on security, and now I have to get in through the main entrance.

Today when I got to the front desk all soaked and muddied, I had to wait to show my badge because there was a visitor there ahead of me, an older guy with a folder full of Red Sox pictures. As the guy behind the front desk searched the computer for the phone number of whoever the guy had an appointment with, the two of them talked about Ted Williams.

“It’s too bad he’s dead now,” the visitor said.

“Well, he’s only half-dead,” I joked.

The visitor gave me a quick but nasty look as if to say that he had heard what I had said, but was going to pretend he hadn’t.

I began to qualify my previous statement by reminding them of Ted Williams’ frozen head, but the conversation between them was now sealed off from me, so I ended up mumbling something about the lab in Florida while both of them ignored me. I would have liked nothing more at this point than to have walked away, but I had not yet gotten the green light, that is, the security guy behind the desk, engrossed in Ted Williams talk as he was with the man I offended, had yet to give me the standard half wave seal of approval which allows me to officially migrate to my desk each morning.

So I stood there wet and waiting, as the conversation between these two went on.

“He was a real crackerjack. I used to see him at all of those sporting goods conventions they used to have in town,” said the man behind the desk.

“Well you know something,” replied the visitor. “When he would go fishing, and he went all around the world, he would never sign his own name. Do you know whose he signed?”


“Mine. I was his driver. I took care of him. All the time. You remember the all star game at Fenway even, in 1999? When he came out in the golf cart? That was me driving the cart.”

Since Ted Williams died in 2002 I think I have heard people make frozen head jokes about a thousand times, and never once have I heard any of these jokers reprimanded for saying something out of line, and this makes perfect sense, since having your son insist on a post-mortem decapitation so that you will live forever is, when taken at face value, instant fodder for jokes.

It’s funny to everyone except of course your son and those closest to you. And wouldn’t it be just my luck, to accidentally make this joke in front of the guy who used to drive Ted Williams around, whose name was his surrogate nobody when he just wanted to be left alone to fish?


I couldn’t find a youtube of the 1999 all star game, but I do have the Boston Red Sox 100 Years of Baseball History DVD, which has highlights of Williams being driven to the pitcher’s mound to meet all of the all stars before the game. The guy driving the golf cart, and then telling Williams which players’ hands he was shaking was, you guessed it.

Well there’s one guy I’ll never get any baseball stories out of. If it’s any consolation, I am sure he was there for an interview with a certain Red Sox history obsessed at the big newspaper where I work. No doubt the reporter in question is seasoned enough to dance around the touchy topics unlike the muddy bum in the lobby.

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