Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Boo!

Happy Halloween! This is one of my favorite quasi-holidays. Love scaring the living crap out of my kids (psychological scars be damned!) and turning all the lights off to watch scary movies. Wifey hates them, of course, so when I do sit down to watch, she tends to leave the room. Bonus!

For the record, my seven year old is a little obsessed with Star Wars, so he's going as a Storm Trooper for the second year in a row. Leave it to my kid to side with Nazi oppression and the servants of evil. Two year old has an increasingly unhealthy facination with pumpkins, so he's going as a pumpkin. Go figure.

Last night, to my delight, wifey went out with some friends. I got the kids to bed early and spent the night surfing and debating which movies to watch. Since it's Halloween, nearly every movie is a horror flick. Double bonus. I had the following to choose from:

Dracula 2000: This was on AMC and I barely made it 10 minutes. No idea who was in it or if it was meant to be serious.

The Haunted Mansion: This, on the other hand, was supposed to be funny and scary and was neither. Eddie Murphy, meet wasted career. Wasted career, Eddie Murphy.

Resident Evil: Apocalypse: I was excited about this one, until I realized it was on Oxygen and any gore that made it worth watching had been edited out. You don't watch 'Resident Evil' movies for the acting and plot. There is neither to be found.

Resident Evil: Fortunately, SCI FI was showing this one with all the blood. Stuck with this for a few good parts, then moved on.

It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!: Yeah, the old classic. Was wondering why they keep showing this every year when it's aged horribly. Then answered my own question when I wound up watching the last 20 minutes of it. Once I turned it on, I couldn't turn it off. Weird.

Sadly my consistent channel surfing turned up nothing that held my interest. I had '28 Weeks Later' on DVD, but didn't have the energy to get up and put it in. You sensing a motivation problem with me? You're not alone.

Since it's Halloween, I wanted to share some of the scariest movies I've ever seen. These are not the strictly gory, bloody films which often aren't scary at all. These are ones that genuinely creep you out, make you look in closets to make sure nobody is lurking there, or make you not want to swim at the beach for days after. You know the ones. If you haven't seen any of these, you must check them out. Unless you're afraid!!! Chicken?

Jaws: A little history here. I spent my summers on Martha's Vineyard for more than 30 years. I still love to vacation there. If you aren't familiar, this is where they filmed 'Jaws' and the beach where we would swim nearly every day is where they filmed the scene with that kid on the raft. Exactly. My father made sure he showed us how they filmed the movie even bringing us to see the mechanical shark. I was seven when this movie was released in 1975 and insisted my father take me to see it. Well, he did and I was scarred for life. Besides this being one of the most suspenseful and gruesome PG movies ever made, I was personally and intimately familiar with every place this movie was filmed. Not a good combination. It took me years before I would swim at the beach without looking around me for shadows in the water.

I've recovered and watched 'Jaws' more than any other movie in my lifetime, but my seven year old won't watch this until he's in his teens.

The Thing: This is the John Carpenter one with Kurt Russell. A perfect example of how gory and scary can work hand in hand. Two scenes from this movie still haunt me. The first (and obvious) one being the CPR scene. Those who have seen this know what I'm talking about. Don't want to ruin the ghoulish surprise for everyone else. The second wasn't gory, but still stays with me. The character played by Wilford Brimley (yeah, the Quaker Oats guy) has been locked up in a shed outside because they think he's an alien. Kurt Russell goes out to check on him and Brimley glumly looks at him and pleads to come back with the rest of the crew. 'Please, I don't want to stay out here any more. I keep hearing things'. Not sure why, but that creeped me out more than anything in this movie.

Session 9: David Caruso is in this one. It was filmed in the old Danvers State Hospital and was one of the first to film entirely in digital. This lent it a realism that you probably don't want to experience. There are few out and out scares, but the tone and setting are extremely disturbing.

Night of the Scarecrow: Can't recall the details of this movie, but saw this when I was younger and it scared the shit out of me. If memory serves it was actually a made for TV movie.

Salem's Lot: If you have ever seen this mini-series, then your heart still races when you hear scratching at your windows. Still the most frightening vampire movie I've seen and that's with Hutch (or is it Starsky?) in the lead role.

The Changeling: An older movie with George C Scott, but I saw this during those old 'Movie Loft' Halloween weeks and it's an under rated movie. Not violent or gory, just scary as hell. A classic 'bump in the night' type.

The Descent: An absolute nail biter from moment six women decide to map a previously unchartered hole in the ground. Believable characters, suspense, gore and hot chicks. Good times.

Psycho: I consider this the one that started it all. I remember the first time I took a shower after seeing this looking out from behind the curtain at any noise; making sure I was still alone.

Some honorable mentions:

The Shining: Didn't think this was as good as everyone else thought, since much of the scares were more the boy's imagination, but still worth the viewing thanks to Jack Nicholson.

The Exorcist: Duh

Saw 2: Much better than the first, with more suspense and an ending that made sense.

Evil Dead 2: More a horror movie for 'Three Stooges' fans, but still bloody good fun.

Enjoy the frights and hope you don't get egged. That's no fun, at all.

Today's distraction: Some urban legends to get you in the proper Halloween mood.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Exorcised

Turns out 2004 wasn't a fluke, after all. No more can we rationalize the end of 86 years of futility on a lunar eclipse or a blue moon or Babe Ruth finally deciding enough is enough.

The truth - as hard as it is for Sox fans to admit - is Theo and crew copied the Yankee blueprint from their 1996-2000 run. Nice mix of veterans and home grown talent. Patient, powerful hitters. Solid starting pitching with a slew of relievers to call on when the going gets tough.

Nobody minds today, however. I watched every pitch last night. Stayed up until 1:30 in the morning watching the celebration and took great joy in seven year old's reaction when he watched the highlights this morning. He was downright giddy and giggling on his way to school. It may just be a game but it sure feels good to watch a team you've liked and followed all year take home the trophy.

Trying to figure out when the parade is going to be this year. If it's during the week, I may have seven year old skip school to come into Boston with me. Father of the Year, I ain't.

Anyway, some sport related thoughts from the weekend:

- Jacoby Ellsbury will lead the league in hitting one season. I can't find a weakness in his approach. He hits opposite field, he pulls with power, he can run out little dribblers to the pitcher. What can't he do at the plate? .350 with 15-20 homers for the next 10 years isn't inconceivable.

- We finally know what we have in Jon Lester, too. I guess pitching the clinching game of the World Series is nothing compared to battling for your life. Fortunately, for the world, Lester showed no fear and didn't back down to either challenge.

- Is Schilling done in Boston?

- Mike Lowell finally got the recognition he's been deserving all year. Last year, in fact, too. The salary dump/throw in to the Josh Beckett trade has paid off ten fold. It's not often hard working, humble, likable guys get their just rewards. Now, Theo, it's time to resign him. Made me confident when Lowell said last night 'I've made it no secret that I love playing here' and that Theo said, earlier in the day 'I'm confident Mike will be back'. This makes me feel even better because.....

- King Douchebag - aka Scott Boras - announced that ARod will be opting out of his contract with the Yankees. Boras, speaking for ARod, said that the 'uncertainty of the Yankees'...blah blah blah...who cares. Both of them are talking out their asses. This is about money pure and simple. The entire 'Yankee dynamic' is a smoke screen for ARod trying to get enough money to buy his own country.

So, the question is - where will ARod go? There are only a handful of teams that have the money to pay what he will demand. Red Sox, Angels, San Fran (maybe?), Yankees and Cubs. I just hope the Red Sox do not bid on him. Take Lowell back, keep Lugo and let some other patsy team pay out the nose for pretty boy. That's right; I would rather the Sox keep Lugo than sign ARod. That should tell you everything.

- The Patriots rolled to another win, setting up the Battle of the Titans game against the Colts this coming Sunday (4:15 PM EST, for those keeping track). While the margin of victory was impressive I'm a bit concerned that Brady and other starters are still on the field during the fourth quarter while winning by 42 points. This has nothing to do with supposedly running up the score (something the media is trying to generate outrage about with few takers. Even Joe Gibbs said 'I have no problem with anything they did' in his post game conference). What bothers me is someone is going to get injured playing these meaningless downs.

Consider it this way. Let's say the Patriots are up 50 points in the fourth quarter and Brady is still in there passing away. Some linebacker is going to take personal exception to this and level Brady on a late hit. Or a safety will take out Randy Moss with a cheap shot. Or Wes Welker (who is also my fantasy stud this year) will break an ankle running a standard route. Why risk any of these scenarios? Belichick is a great coach and should know that nothing derails a potential Super Bowl season than the wrong person being lost for the year. Besides, use this as a time to get your second stringers some meaningful minutes. If one of your key personnel do get injured, you have someone ready to step in and produce. I understand that the Pats are on this 'Fuck the world' campaign, but don't let the anger cloud common sense.

Alright, I'm tired and happy and need to get some work done. Enjoy the new trophy, Red Sox fans. I know I will.

Today's distraction: A great article (as always) by Buster Olney. I agree, too. Why not wait until the Series is over? Just proving what a selfish, ego maniac he really is. That's all.

Friday, October 26, 2007

TGIF

What a game last night! What a game!! I was more impressed with the Red Sox last night than I was on Wednesday night. Just a nailbiting, fun game to watch. I have questioned Francona in the past, but he did a fantastic job last night. Knew exactly when to pull Schilling, knew when to pull Okajima (who rose to an entirely new level) and Papelbon showing the Rockies what he's all about. Just an impressive performance.

A few random thoughts to wind up the week.

- The more I watch Mike Lowell play, the more I'm convinced the Sox need to resign him. Give him 3 years at $10 million per. Bargain considering he's been the most valuable, consistent player on both sides of the plate this year. You know what, if the Sox win it all give him another year. 4 years, $40 mil. Done and done. If they can give it to Renteria, they can give it to Lowell.

- Papelbon did a play by play of his dance moves for Fox and he is a surprisingly funny guy. For such an intense guy on the field, it's fun to see him showing some personality off it.

- Poor Matt Holliday. I don't usually feel bad for guys on the opposing teams, but I've been a fan of his since early in the season. He will always be remembered for getting picked off first at the worst possible time and not for getting 4 of his team's 5 hits. There is a brain fart for one player or coach, it seems, in every playoff series. Unfortunately for Holliday, he's the guy for now.

- Watched the 'Baseball Tonight' wrap up on SportsCenter this morning and Chris Berman constantly calls Fenway Park 'Fenway Pahk'. Enough already. It may have been slightly amusing the first time (although it really wasn't), but after 50 times in that previous two days it is now just annoying as hell. Cut the shit Berman. Your football schtick (which I enjoy) is not translating to the World Series. Where's Karl Ravech (who's worked with these guys all year) and his no nonsense approach?

- Some corrections for yesterday's off the cuff rant. I meant to type Chris Myers - not Craig Sager - as one of the sideline guys for Fox. And the nimrod that talked about the Rockies was Ken Rosenthal. I also want to know if Eric Byrnes - he of the Diamondbacks and who was part of the studio crew - was given a chance to defend his team. I didn't stay up for the post game, so wasn't sure if anything was said about it.

- So guess what I'm doing tomorrow. I'm going paint balling. My nephew and brothers go once a year as part of his birthday and it is actually good fun. I particularly like nailing some guy who is taking it way too seriously in the face mask from 20 yards away.

- Maybe it was just me, but did Curt Schilling get a bit choked up leaving the field last night?

- Is it bad I want to buy a new car so I can plug my iPod into it? I say no for this reason: yesterday I worked late last night and discovered Simmons had a new podcast with Charles Barkley. Since I didn't have time to listen to it, I downloaded it, got it on the iPod, then plugged it into my wife's car stereo and listened to it on the ride home. Now I want to do that in my car. Plus I would have access to my music during my trips to Hartford. That would be great!! I would basically be buying a $25,000 mobile iPod player. Sounds good to me.

- Movies I will try and watch this weekend: '300' and '28 Weeks Later'. I decided an all numbered movie was in order. Plus they should both be bloody and gross.

- Baseball prediction: Red Sox lose game 3, then win the next 2 so Papelbon can dance on the Rockie's field in celebration. Let's just hope he keeps his pants on this time.

- Football prediction: Going out on a limb here, but I think the Patriots will win this weekend. However, it will not be a cake walk. The Redskins are better than people think and match up well defensively with the Pats. Guess we'll see how good the Pats really are this week. Same goes for Washington.

- Paintball prediction: I kick ass. By 'kick ass' I mean I don't fall on my ass or suffer any severe injury. That's a victory in 40 year old land.

- I should tell you my tolerance has spiked during the Red Sox run. Last night I got home around 9:30 and immediately plowed through 8 beers in three hours. Wednesday night I managed to suck down 9. That's 17 beers in two nights while not being late or missing any work. Who rocks? Well, you know already.

- Wifey and I have a Halloween party to attend this Saturday and we still don't know what we're going as. I saw a great costume online, but they were all out. It was a breathalyzer and you blow into a tube by the crotch of the person wearing it. How prefect would that have been? It includes two of my favorite things in one shot. Alas, twas not to be.

- I'm attempting a beer o'clock at work today. Thinking three-ish and hope to be drunk by 5. Wish me luck.

Today's distraction: Check out Papelbon's dance moves for yourself. The goggles on the head gives it that extra 'special' touch. Turn down your volume if at work as there is an extra loud advertisement preceding it. Stupid ads.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Sideline Laziness

During last night's Sox - Rockies game the announcers started pontificating about why the Red Sox were leading by 9 runs (and counting) over the Rockies. Joe Buck mentioned the potency and patience of the American League teams. Tim McGarver mentioned the long layoff the Rockies had and how it seemed to be effecting the pitchers, who were having enormous difficulty finding the strike zone.

Joe Buck then introduces one of the sideline reporters (not Craig Sager, but the other one who's name I've blocked) who says something about 'How the Rockies got here'. He mentions the Cubs who were 'over rated offensively' and the Diamondbacks who 'well...they just weren't very good'. The implication being that the Rockies had an easy road to the World Series.

Now, despite my hyperactive bias towards Boston teams, this pissed me off. It has nothing to do with the Sox or the reporter (never heard of the guy until the ALCS); I got angry because it was a lazy and insulting analysis of a team that is on a historic run.

First of all, the Rockies didn't play the Cubs in the first round, they played the Phillies. And, no, that lineup wasn't under rated. That Phillies team came back from seven games down in less than three weeks and it was mostly due to their potent offense. It was the Diamondbacks that played the Cubs and, while they may have been 'over rated offensively', it is no small feat to sweep a playoff opponent in any round. In case Sideline Douchebag didn't realize (and he probably didn't) the Diamondbacks swept the Cubs.

Secondly, the Diamondbacks won their division. The Rockies basically had to win every game during their last two weeks, have the Padres blow the last game of their season and win a playoff game in order to just make the playoffs. The Diamondbacks made it to the NLCS and were swept by one of the hottest teams in MLB history. That is not an exaggeration.

So, besides not having his facts right - something I'm sure is stressed by his producers and assistants - this reporter not only dismissed what the Diamondbacks accomplished this season, but dismissed the Rockies at the same time. By simplifying the NLCS matchup with 'Yeah, well the Diamondbacks just weren't very good', he insulted both teams, the National League and nearly every team that makes it to the baseball final four, but gets swept. If the Diamondbacks 'weren't very good' they never would have been there.

Buck and McGarver said nothing to correct or defend either team, of course. I'm guessing it's because neither one of them watched the NLCS or any of the NL Division Series, so they just assumed the guy knew what he was talking about. But the laziness and casual dismissal of both teams got under my skin. You guys are supposed to be professionals. Try informing instead of misleading.

Some quick other notes:

A lot of time was spent discussing what was going on with the Rockies, but nobody (again, these are the professionals getting paid a LOT of money) brought up one simple explanation: Maybe the Rockies were just having a bad game. It happens to every team sooner or later, it just happened to the Rockies in game one.

My personal opinion is that Beckett was just on fire. I turned to my wife during the fourth inning and said 'The Rockies just can't figure out what pitch is coming'.

And, yes, that long layoff had an effect. John Kruk did a fantastic job on 'Baseball Tonight' explaining how you could tell the Rockies' hitters were way behind Beckett's pitches. He pointed out the high leg kicks some of the players have - like Kaz Matsui and Matt Holliday - and how that put them at a disadvantage. He even showed a clip of how Matsui on a 3-0 count, still did his leg kick like it was the first pitch of an at bat. 'That's the sign of a batter trying to get his timing back'. Excellent job by Kruk.

One more thing before I go to work - it always worries me when a Boston team blows out an opponent in the first game of a seven game series. If the team is any good - and this Colorado team IS GOOD - they almost always come back to win the next game. It's a pride thing. Just look at game two against the Indians. Or games 4-7 in the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees. It really isn't relevant, but I just like bringing that up.


Today's distraction: Destroy the web. This is great fun. You enter in a website in the box and you can piss all over the site or select the bloody gun and shoot people in the head.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Brave New World

Having your favorite team make it to the World Series never gets old, but it's especially rewarding after that same team cruelly and consistently broke your heart. It's an old story that people are sick of hearing, but I bring it up for two reasons.

First, my seven year old is spoiled Boston sports fan. He has yet to experience a loss that makes you want to cry yourself to sleep and haunts you for decades. I'm not just referring to the Red Sox, either. He was born in 2000 and has already witnessed 3 Patriot Super Bowl wins and a Red Sox Championship. He's had more years with a Boston champion than he has without. Tom Brady has been so good that on the eve of the AFC Championship game back in 2003, seven year old asked me 'Dad, can we go to the SuperBowl when the Patriots win?' I answered 'Well, let's see if they win, first'. He gave me a funny look - like his father was a complete idiot - and replied 'But, Dad....Tom Brady never loses'. He was right, of course. Brady and the Pats won the Super Bowl that year and again the next. How do you teach the lessons of handling losing when they never lost?

I, on the other hand, was born in 1967 and spent my formative years watching Yaz, Fred Lynn, Jim Rice, Luis Tiant, Dwight Evans and later on Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens, and Bill Buckner find new and creative ways to crush my will to live. Believe me when I tell you it was ugly around here. There's a reason Bostonians shudder when they hear '1978' and it isn't completely about the crippling blizzard. 1986 was tempered a bit by the Celtics dominance and the Pats making an unexpected trip to the Super Bowl, but only a bit. A teeny tiny bit.

Watching sports through the eyes of a seven year old is enlightening. When they were down 3-1, you could see the disappointment when I confirmed 'So, Dad, if they lose one more game, they're out?' Then the glimmer of hope when they won game 5, followed by excitement when they won game 6. When JD Drew hit that grand slam, we were both bouncing up and down on the couch and screaming. It was great!!

I went to wake him up for school Monday morning and his eyes pop open. 'Dad! Did the Red Sox win?' It was the first thing on his mind and his day was made when I told him what happened. He sat eating his Corn Pops watching the highlights on SportsCenter asking if he can stay up late for the games this week. When we headed out for school - him wearing his Manny shirt with pride - he said, 'Dad, I knew the Red Sox would win last night'.

That's when it hit me like a lightning bolt - I did too! I knew the Red Sox would win that game. In fact, I wasn't even bothered when they were down 3-1. Beckett was pitching and they just needed to get back to Fenway. If the Sox won game 5, we would win the series. It wasn't hypothetical or wishful thinking, it was reality. Even the Indian fans and players seemed to realize it. Losing big in the late innings of game 5, the players and fans were acting like their season was over. It was, but they should have waited at least two more games before showing it.

This brings me to my second reason for this entry: I am healed. I am no longer the wretched Boston sports fan who flinches, groans, or curls into a fetal position every time something bad happens in a baseball or football game. I now expect good things to happen and am merely disappointed when they don't. No more 'here we go again' moments.

Two quick incidents to illustrate:

1: Game 7 is still close, Lugo races back for a popup, calls Manny off and promptly drops it. If this were pre-2004, the entire city of Boston would have imploded or at the very least Lugo would have been lynched right there on the spot. They would have hung him from Pesky's Pole and let him rot. OK, maybe not that drastic, but the entire crowd would have experienced that knot in the stomach; that sense of doom so familiar to us Boston fans. My reaction? 'Don't worry, they'll get out of the inning' and they did. It was a harmless error that meant nothing.

Take a moment and consider what would have happened if that same error happened if Lugo were playing for the Cubs and it was a game 7 against the Cardinals. Right. Every player and fan instantly tenses up, the pitcher is feeling one hundred years of pressure and chances are things go south quickly.

It's no longer that way with the Red Sox.

2: In last year's AFC Championship game against the Colts, Tom Brady is driving down the field for a last minute score. Not only did I fully expect him to throw a touchdown pass, I believed it. There was no doubt in my mind. Sure, he wound up throwing an interception to end the game, but that isn't the point. The point is I had NO DOUBT he was going to win that game. He's like the Larry Bird or Michael Jordan of football. You are more surprised when he fails than when he succeeds. You know he'll win and are shocked when he doesn't. My son knew this at the age of 4 for crying out loud. 'Dad, Tom Brady never loses'.

Looking back it all started with the Patriots first Super Bowl win. When the Rams came back to tie that game in the final minutes, it was the definitive 'here we go again' moment for all Boston sports fans. Until Tom Brady and Adam Vinatieri wiped the slate clean. If you aren't familiar with the Patriots history it won't make sense, but mingled in with all the cheering was an underlying current of disbelief. In the weeks following that first Super Bowl, my buddy and I would look at each other and say 'Dude, the Patriots won the Super Bowl. Can you fucking believe that?' I would be in the middle of work and be stopped with that thought.

'Holy shit, the Patriots are Super Bowl champions'

'Holy fucking shit, the Patriots won the Super Bowl!'

It opened up doors that were previously slammed shut on our fingers. The Grady Little game set everyone back a few years, but 2004 (for both the Patriots and Red Sox) course corrected everything. Just think, if Francona (or any other person in the universe) were managing that 2003 Sox team, we might be going for our third title in five years. If Brady had a decent receiver running that route last year, the Pats would be going for 5 titles in 6 years. As it is, they're pissed and crushing every opponent in sight to make reparations.

When the Red Sox lead shrunk down to 2 games (or whatever it was) the media was trying to get the fans around here outraged with 'It's 1978 all over again!!' or 'The Sox are collapsing again!'. Only it didn't take. First, it wasn't 1978 all over again because they were still going to make the playoffs thanks to the wild card. Second, it's not 2003 any longer. The failure stain has been scrubbed off.

It is a new sports world here in New England. The Red Sox are in the World Series again. The Patriots are a team so good there is no limit to what they can do.

I'm still wearing my training wheels when it comes to this new era. I'm still wobbly and learning how to maintain a healthy balance, but I love the feel of it. And, hey, if I fall on my ass a few times in the next few years, it's all good. I'll just pick myself up, get back on and cruise to the next title. That would be February 2008 for those keeping track at home.


Today's distraction: Completely unrelated, but I love this site. You upload a photo of someone or something and you can shoot holes in it. I uploaded ARod and emptied a clip into his fat head. That was fun!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Diarrhea of The Mouth

Since I'm freakin' exhausted, semi hungover, and soaking in the Sox making the Series again it's going to be difficult for me to make any sort of sense today. Just another few random thoughts so I can empty out my head and make room for more irrelevant information.

- My two year old is learning how to talk. There is a good and bad side to this stage of childhood. The good is that he gets less frustrated trying to tell us what he wants. No more pointing and grunting. Just 'Daddy, get car please?' and I get him his car.

The bad side is he doesn't shut the fuck up. EVER! He was even talking in his sleep last night. On Friday night, I brought home the DVD of 'Transformers' for my seven year old and two year old talked non stop through the ENTIRE MOVIE! This is not an exaggeration. From 6pm - 8:15pm, when I finally put him to bed, the kid didn't shut up. He is the inspiration for today's title, by the way.

- Went out with my buddy to watch the game last night and wound up getting a bit shitty. Feeling it a bit this morning, but man alive, that was a good time. We kept saying 'One more inning, then we'll go'. We stopped saying anything by the eighth. Just enjoyed the celebration!

- I'm in the process of gearing up for late nights. I remember 2004 and getting about 4 hours of sleep a night during that Series and figure this year will be no different. Get two good nights tonight and tomorrow, then late nights Wed and Thurs. Hopefully sleep late Saturday morning to get good and rested for the weekend games. Who was the bright boy that scheduled no Friday game? That sucks.

- Quick rundown on the upcoming Series that can be summed up thusly: The Rockies scare the shit out of me! Forget that they came in to Fenway this season and swept the Sox. Nevermind that they are a stubborn, resilient, relentless team. What scares me about them is the smell of destiny they carry with them. They've lost one game in the past month. One game!! They are on an run unlike anything we've ever seen. They won a one game playoff to get into the playoffs. They sweep a heavily favored Phillies team, then sweep the Diamondbacks in a scarily efficient manner. Even though they are a young team, they are poised and disciplined. They don't panic or play out of their game. In a nutshell, they are the Cleveland Indians of the National League only with some sort of baseball angel watching over them.

That said, I can't picture them beating the Red Sox in a seven game series. We have Beckett and Schilling (who must have received a wakeup call from Derek Lowe and his post-2004 playoff contract). They have Jeff Francis and....um....who else? Yeah, I don't know, either. We can then throw out Dice K (who looked average, at best, last night) and Wakefield. I know Wakefield had a tough outing last time, but I really want to see what that knuckleball does in the Denver air. If nothing else we might see Holliday hit a 600 foot home run. Hopefully, Francona will let Lester take a shot, too. Really want to see what he does in a playoff game. Give the pitching edge to the Sox.

Considering the way they handled the Cleveland pitchers (who are better than anyone the Rockies have - sorry, but it's true), I would have to give the Sox lineup the edge too. They are patient, don't chase bad pitches and hammer any mistakes.

But this is the World Series and anything can happen. Average pitchers suddenly become unhittable (Hi, again, Derek Lowe), great pitchers become average (hi, Roger Clemens) and patterns you would expect to emerge never happen.

Prediction: Sox in five. Every streak comes to an end eventually and this long layoff is the worst thing that can happen to a hot team. The Red Sox just have the better overall team. Lineup, starting pitching, bullpen. Keep in mind that I didn't even expect Colorado to make the playoffs, never mind sweep their way into the Series. Rockies gave it a great run, but all good things come to an end.

I hope.

- I was going to write about the Pats for a bit, but what is there to say? They are so good, so focused and are playing with such a bad ass attitude I am scared for the rest of the league. In the best way possible, of course. I'm giddy about what this team is going to do to Indy in a couple of weeks. To say that is going to be a payback week is putting it mildly. Don't be surprised if Brady throws for ten touchdowns just out of spite.

I've developed a theory about this team (ok, I'll write about them for a minute): They hate the Colts with a passion and are pissed they not only lost to them in the AFC Finals, but have to hear about them being champs all year. In fact, they hate them so much that not only are they going to run rough shod over the league this year, but Brady has taken up the cause to wipe out every single season record Peyton Manning currently holds. So far, so good.

- Current time is 11:21 AM and I haven't done one bit of work. Thought that was interesting. Wonder if I can keep this up until after lunch.

- I am officially done with 'Heroes'. Very good first season has gone to their heads and now there is a new hero every week. Plus I just don't have time anymore. Maybe when baseball season ends.

- 'House', on the other hand, has been as good as ever. Love the entire 'Survivor' game House is running on finding replacements for his team.

- Also discovered 'Bones' that comes on just before 'House' and find it oddly likable. The stories themselves are just ok, but there is a fun chemistry between the actors. Caught it a few times last season, but never watched regularly. Probably because Fox kept moving it all over the schedule.

I'm done. Time to get another coffee.

Today's distraction: As a tribute to my new sneakers (purchase on Saturday) here are 15 Amazing Ways to Tie Your Sneakers. Some of these look like they take way too much time.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Game 7 Thoughts

How great is this day? How great??!! Sun is shining, the Pats should stay undefeated, the Sox and Indians are playing an 'everything but the kitchen sink' Game 7, and it should be a beautiful night for baseball. Some quick thoughts before I go out and enjoy the day.

- Forget that it's 3-3 in this series and look at the body language of the Indians in Games 5 & 6. They were sulking around like they were down 3-0. What the hell is going on with that team? It looks like they've given up. We'll find out tonight for sure.

- Everyone is scared that Dice-K is pitching for the Sox tonight (me, too, to be honest), but he should have a short leash and if there is one thing that Game Sevens have taught us is that nothing turns out the way people think.

- Prediction? Sox win big. Looks like they've figured out the Indians pitchers and Cleveland looks defeated already.

- Did anyone else find it odd that Wedge put in Borowski when the score was 10-2? Not only did it give the Sox hitters another look at him, but he winds up getting shelled and his confidence can't be top notch heading into the biggest game of the season.

- I finally figured out why Tavarez hasn't been used this series: He's inactive. What I didn't realize was inactive players can still uniform up and hang out in the dugout.

- If McGarver said 'grand slam home run' one more time I was going to put my fist through my expensive television set. It's just grand slam. A grand slam, by definition, is a home run with the bases loaded. You don't need to add 'home run' to the end of grand slam. Goddamn I hate McGarver!!!!

- If Byrd comes in for the game tonight, will this HGH thing be on his mind? Like the Indians didn't have enough morale problems right now.

- Question: Are we supposed to be upset with Byrd because he bought all that HGH or upset with MLB for waiting so long to ban it from the game? Byrd technically didn't do anything against the rules of Major League Baseball (he stopped ordering it before MLB banned it). So can he be suspended for breaking rules that weren't in place? If Selig and MLB start doing that, no active players are going to come forward with any sort of confession or cooperate with any 'investigation'.

That's it. Enjoy the great Boston sports day! Go Pats and Go Sox!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Double Your Fun

Two follow ups:

First, last week I ranted against the RIAA and their slow, maniacal descent into irrelevancy by suing ordinary people and alienating the artists they're supposedly trying to protect.

This week, they sent 19 universities 'prelitigation' letters which claim students have been using school computers to illegally share music. 'Prelitigation' apparently is legal speak for 'Well, DUH!!' While it's not at all surprising the RIAA is going after universities, what is surprising is ONLY 19 universities are named. I figure more than 19 could be sued just in the Boston area if they want to get technical about it.

What's really disturbing about this new wave of letters is the RIAA setting up a website for anyone who wants to settle the case immediately. Seriously. Here is the site. What the RIAA suggests is for the defendant (or soon to be defendant since they haven't technically been sued, yet) is to go to this site and pay their fine and the RIAA will leave them alone. On the bright side, if the defendant (or soon to be defendant since they haven't technically been sued, yet) settles online they will be offered a 'discounted rate' on each song. So, say you would have to pay the insane amount of $750 per song (an amount the RIAA came up with, btw), if you settle online before the actual lawsuit gets underway, you'll only have to pay....I dunno....$400 per song? What a discount.

Not sure how legal something like this is or even how Constitutional it is, but it feels slimy. What else would you expect from this group? Just another day at the RIAA legal headquarters.

My second follow up involves an old entry about the effect of antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers on viruses (or virii) that have lived around us for years. The gist was that washing your hands with soap and warm water was just as effective (if not more so) as using these new fangled gels. Also, noted was the medical community's concern that these new soaps and gels may be doing more harm than good.

Not to alarm anyone, but this week JAMA announced that a new drug resistant form of the staph infection is more prevalent than previously thought. Even more disturbing is this particular strain isn't limited to the medical setting. More than 1200 cases were found outside the hospital. As the article sums up rather glumly: 'In conclusion, invasive MRSA disease is a major public health problem and is primarily related to health care but no longer confined to acute care.'

But, wait!! That's not all! At the University of Rochester, doctors have discovered an ear infection strain that is resistant to all forms of pediatric antibiotics. Great! Not that I have two kids to worry about or anything. To quote this article, 'Even after the ear tap and additional rounds of antibiotics, infections persisted in a small group of children in a Rochester, New York, pediatric practice, leading to ear tube surgery and, in one case, to permanent hearing loss'. When these doctors realized they were dealing with a 'superbug' they treated it with adult approved antibiotic (Levaquin) and it cleared up the problem.

One other personal note as we approach the cold and flu season. Every year we attempted to get the kids a flu shot at the beginning of the year. Last year was the first year we didn't have them get one. Guess what? It was the healthiest winter we've ever had. Not saying the flu shot weakens the immune system or that there is some vast conspiracy going on here; merely saying that every year the government and medical communities urge people to get the flu shot to 'protect themselves'. Well, the one year we didn't protect ourselves was the one year we had very few colds and no flus in our house. Just pointing it out, is all.

As with everything in this space - consider the source.


Today's distraction: Play Virus 2. And since I have nothing more to say about the game, may I just say I am pleased that we still have weekend baseball games to look forward to. Don't be surprised if the Sox pull this out.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Critical Mass

In my review of 'Mission Impossible 3' earlier in the week, I mentioned how I had heard bad things about the movie and was surprised how good it really was.

I admit, I pay attention to the critics. They usually point out movies that I probably wouldn't have gone out of my way to watch if they weren't recommended. Wait, let me rephrase that. I USED to pay attention to the critics. I got burned years back when everyone and their mother was praising 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' as one of the funniest, most original movies to come along in years. So I rented it, lost two hours of my life that I can never retrieve and still get angry whenever I see John Corbett in anything.

A friend of mine just gave me a copy of AudioSlave's 'Revelations'. If you're not familiar, this is the band that was the remaining three members of 'Rage Against the Machine', plopped Chris Cornell, former lead singer of 'Soundgarden', into the mix and proceeded to put out two spectacularly average hard rock CDs. It was a massive disappointment to anyone who love either of the two previous bands. 'Rage' had been one of my favorites and I was depressed to hear Tom Morello - one of the more innovative and underrated guitarists of our time - sound emasculated. The relation to 'Rage' was distant, at best. There were moments that invoked the best of the bands, but they never lived up to their potential.

That is until 'Revelations'. It turns out this is the last CD AudioSlave will make since they broke up immediately after it's release. Since it got middling to average reviews and I was disappointed in the previous two, I didn't bother picking it up. What a mistake. 'Revelations' turns out to be the best of the three. It's what many of us expected when we first heard this combo was getting together. Angry, hard, and funky.

Last year, I got sucked into watching '24' again because all the 'expert critics' were hailing it as a return to form and 'pulse pounding'. Nothing against Jack Bauer, but it sucked. Far and away the worst season so far. The ending still has me pissed off with Jack actually considering throwing himself off a cliff. Hello!! He's Jack Bauer. He doesn't kill himself. If he gets pissed or depressed, he takes it out on suspected terrorists with electrodes, guns or knives. He's Jack Fucking Bauer!!!

Anyway, my point is you can't listen to the critics anymore. Everyone who reviews things for a living has their own taste and/or agenda. There are a few critics who's taste lineup with mine (Owen Gleiberman from Entertainment Weekly and David Ansen from Newsweek), but that's just for movies. Critics are almost like people. They like certain things and dislike others. When reviewers slammed 'Kill Bill', it usually wasn't because of the movie itself, but because it was brutally violent. Some people don't like extreme violence. Others do. Critics are no different from me or you when it comes to what floats their boat.

Music is an entirely different animal. Rolling Stone will automatically give glowing reviews to anything released by Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, or Prince. Pitchfork gives positive reviews to bands who have lead singers that sound like they gargle with paint thinner. I know, it's supposed to be 'edgy', but it just makes my teeth clench.

Forget television. Everyone likes different shows and when 'Grey's Anatomy' got fantastic reviews I just stopped paying attention.

I am not here to simply complain about critics (as much fun as that can be). I am here to offer a solution. The goal of this space, after all, is to distract you from doing anything useful with your life. Therefore, I am proud to present Metacritic.

This website is simple in it's design and purpose, yet ingenious and long over due in it's execution. What it does is track all the critics across the country and comes up with an overall score for movies, DVDs, television shows, music, books and even video games. Metacritic doesn't review anything themselves, just calculates the other reviews and summarizes things for everyone.

What I love about this site is how they will star or highlight items that have been roundly praised. When you get to the site, click on one of the topics and scroll down to the '2007 High Scores' on the right side. It lists the movies, CDs, books, etc that have been the most highly reviewed. For example, the best reviewed movies of 2007 include 3 movies I've never heard of, 'Ratatouille' and 'The Bourne Ultimatum'. The best reviewed show so far is 'Pushing Daisies'.

I won't go into details, as it's self explanatory. Just be prepared to spend a lot of time browsing.

Yes, another sensible solution brought to you by BeachBum. You're welcome.

Today's distraction: How to handle criticism properly. This is much better than my habit of socially ostracizing and emotionally abusing someone when they criticize me.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Random Nuggets

Random thoughts whilst I fuel up for tonight's Sox game with an iced Americano. With the 8pm start time, it looks like I'll be up well past midnight. I still don't get two teams in the eastern time zone starting the game after 7:30. How does it ever make sense to anyone watching? I would forgive a Friday night game, but on Tuesday when the entire world has to get up the next morning? And don't give me the west coast wants to watch argument. If they wanted to watch with the rest of us they never would have moved out there in the first place. Spoiled fuckers.

For the record, I say 8 pm but we all know the first pitch will be closer to 8:30.

Anyone catch this gem from McGarver last night? Victor Martinez is at bat and Fox runs one of those 'Get to know the players' stat boxes at the bottom. His favorite show is listed as 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' and McGarver says: 'Victor Martinez, one of four Venezuelans on the Indians and his favorite show stars Larry David'. I'm not exactly sure what being Venezuelan has to do with liking Larry David, but I'm sure it made perfect sense in McGarverLand.

Speaking as a Sox fan, I'm not comfortable with Wakefield pitching tonight AT ALL! The guy hasn't even pitched a simulated game since the end of September. What's the problem with Lester? I have more faith in him than Wakefield, even if he did get shelled in Game 2.

While we're here, Francona is not making a case as the best manager in this series so far. In fact, he seems intent on losing the series so he can let Papi go have knee surgery early.

How long are we going to have to endure JD Drew grounding out to the first baseman every at bat before Ellsbury gets the call? There are only so many games left, fellas!

I confess that I work with some good looking women and after seeing this, I can say with complete honesty that quite a few of them could be full time models. As could I. This is just bizarre and it's no wonder so many teenage girls have self image issues.

Check out this cool (and quite disturbing) 'Age Map' site. The photographer takes two pictures of the same person from two different ages and splices them together. Some of them wind up looking like those photos of kids effected by large doses of radiation. Maybe that's just me.

Amusing story of a Baylor assistant football coach who needed to pee really, really bad. Can anyone tell me how Waco came up with the exact $258 fine for this offense? Was Chicago math involved?

My seven year old is completely amped up about Halloween this year. He even went with wifey to get more decorations this year and picked out a talking brain that burps and pretends to eat people. Apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Speaking of Halloween, I have to go to a party in two weeks and have no idea what my costume should be. Considered the following: Dick Cheney (too boring), 'Dick' Cheney - meaning as an actual penis with glasses (too complicated), vampire (too conventional), Frankenstein's monster (too close to myself), Manny (too many dreadlocks), and Britney Spears (too sloppy and the long hair will bug the shit out of me). More options coming soon.

Friend who just got married not only sent me an email from Aruba telling me he was having a great time on his honeymoon (duh!), but also set his lineup for our fantasy football league while he was there. Over/Under for divorce is officially 'any day now'.

That's it for now. More when I get the chance.


Today's distraction: Here's some cool graffiti art. Love the reaper on the river.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Holy Crap!

A few holy crap moments from the weekend.

Holy Crap #1:

Sox - Indians. Game 2. Trying to tolerate Tim McGarver for 9 innings in hard enough, but for 11 in one of the longest playoff games ever? Torture. Fox, it's past time to hire someone...I dunno...younger for you prime games. You know what, not even younger, just someone that has an idea what's going on and makes occasional sense. I lost count how many times I thought 'What the fuck is he talking about?' during Saturday's game.

As for the game itself, it's not terribly surprising Gagne blew another one now, is it? Question for Francona: Why, when it became apparent Schilling wouldn't make it past 5 did you not get Tavarez in the game for some time? Instead of moving all your relievers up two innings, why not throw King Julien out there for a few innings and save the relief pitchers for the customary spots? It's what you did all season and you went away from it.

Why, oh why do managers constantly do this? The rule of thumb is 'You go with what got you there' and they constantly screw that up in the playoffs. For worst case scenario, please refer to Little, Grady on October 16, 2003.

I have no issue with the bullpen Saturday night. They kept the game close and gave us more than a chance to win. The problem is, by bringing everyone in early, then the game going long, it pretty much guaranteed a Gagne appearance. Except the Indians, that was the last thing anyone in Fenway wanted to see.

Kudos to Youk, by the way, for putting on one of the most exciting, nerve racking, driving every Sox fan borderline insane at bats of the year. I thought that ball was going to fall in, too. Game and at bat ended badly, but that was a good time.


Holy Crap #2:

Patriots - Dallas. The holy crap here is how the Pats put their foot down when Dallas took the lead. The entire team basically said to the Cowboys, 'OK, you think you can stay with us? Watch this' and proceeded to kick the shit out of them. I know the Cowboys must be walking with their heads high today, but you can't tell me the second half of that game was anything but demoralizing. They couldn't stop Brady from doing anything. It was like the JV team patting themselves on the back for giving the varsity squad a tough game. 48-27, 'Boys. Not sure what you're so impressed with about yourselves.

Random prediction: Dallas is going into a tailspin in the coming weeks. This game is going to take it's toll and they'll go 1-4 or something.


Holy Crap #3:

The Colorado Rockies. Currently up 3-0 on the Diamondbacks and they have lost 1 - yeah that would be one as in single - game since September 15th. That's not just Holy Crap, this belongs in the 'Are You Fucking Kidding Me?' section. Has any team ever gone undefeated in the playoffs before? Will look that up and let you know.

As for you Rockies, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but every streak comes to an end and when they do a slump will follow. You better hope yours doesn't end until next year.


Holy Crap #4:

I basically wrote this week off in my Fantasy Football league. I had a bunch of people on bye weeks, dumped some scrubs and picked up some backups that other people had dropped (you know, like Addai's backup!). It was a long run move for the season, figuring I would pay for it this week. Well, surprise, surprise. Wes Welker had a phenomenal game handing me an pleasing 32 points. Drew Brees finally became Drew Brees and with the Ravens' D and Pats kicker going above and beyond, I'm 52 points up heading into Monday night's game. My opponent is playing the dynamic duo of Warrick Dunn and Derrick Ward tonight, so victory is nearly assured.

Think of that last sentence when Warrick Dunn runs for 300 yards and 4 touchdowns. I'm such a putz.

Today's distraction: In case you missed it, my personal 'Holy Crap!' moment of the year.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Movie Reviews

Some of the more recent movies I've seen:

The Hills Have Eyes: Must say I was surprised how disturbing this movie was. Sadly, it degenerated into an ultra violent revenge flick (not that I have a problem with those). I say sadly, because the first 45 minutes of this is very suspenseful and creepy. There is a scene, well before all hell breaks loose, that was great. One of the stranded guys is walking across the desert and finds a crater full of abandoned cars, trailers, trucks, and campers all rusted out, but not necessarily old. As he looks around, the camera pulls back to reveal hundreds of vehicles. The implication, of course, is how many victims have stumbled into the area. I had high hopes for it at that point, but it cops out and becomes another stupid monster movie with the supposed 'heroes' making stupid decision after stupid decision. I love when the characters have a gun to protect themselves, but either put it down somewhere and walk away or fire randomly into the dark when they hear any noise. Smart defense there, you dopes!

Mission Impossible III: I had heard horrible things about this movie, so didn't put it at the top of my list, but it finally arrived last week. I was never a big fan of the original - mainly because it killed off all the characters from the show in the first 20 minutes and made it a Tom Cruise vehicle (and, really, how could he hang onto the bullet train with one hand...come on, now!) and I HATED the second one. It made no sense and the entire motorcycle chase/fight scene was ridiculous. I expect to suspend a certain amount of belief with these movies, but when two guys smash head on with no helmets I don't expect them to jump right up and continue fighting. In fact, one of them should be dead or at least drooling blood.

This third installment not only made sense, but was more in line with the original television show. You still have to suspend reasonable thought, but this was fast, exciting, streamlined and unpredictable. Plus, it was nice to see Cruise's character actually exert some energy trying to save the world, and in the process, his wife. He is shown sweaty, out of breath, bloody and, at times, utterly confused as to what is going on. Easily the best of the three.

The Pink Panther: Caught this on Showtime's free weekend preview and it was a train wreck. Let me first say that Peter Sellers' Inspector was a comic masterpiece. My father and I still laugh at the old movies - often hysterically - but it's only because of Peter Sellers, not the movies themselves. Therefore, who plays the Inspector is not only critical to the movie, but basically IS the movie. Nothing against Steve Martin, but he is the last person that should have been given this role. I laughed maybe once during this movie and that might be generous. Just an absolute abomination. So, of course, The Pink Panther 2 is currently filming in Boston. Do yourself a favor and rent any of the old ones to see how great they were. My personal preferences are still 'Strikes Again' and 'Revenge'. Some piss your pants laughing moments in both.

The Ant Bully: Another kids movie I got stuck watching. It was just ok. Even my seven year old shrugged it off.

Inside Man: I'll be the first to admit I don't get Spike Lee. I think he gets too superfluous with his film making and it often gets in the way of the plot. It always seems to me that the point of his movies are the flourishes, the 'artistic' touches he thinks he adds; the way he tells the story and not the story itself. That's probably why his best will probably always be his early films. He didn't have the money to add those touches, so he had no choice but to tell us a good story. 'Inside Man' is no different. Jodie Foster is wasted and I really never understood what her character was trying to do. Clive Owen and Denzel Washington are good, as always, but I always dislike the 'criminals who actually have a heart of gold' movies. Like holding people hostage isn't traumatizing to some effect on all of them. Of course, Lee uses all sorts of flash backs, flash forwards, flash sideways to tell the story and it just confuses things. It isn't artistic, just sloppy.

Today's distraction: The AFI's 100 Most Famous Movie Quotes. Hard to argue with any of these, but how does 'Hasta la vista, baby' beat out 'I'll be back'?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Batting Clean Up

I have some random links, thoughts and follow ups to recurring themes in this space. Since this weather is bringing me down, I figured this would be a good a time as any to clean things up.

There are times when I think more people read this stupid blog then I realize. Check out this article from Slate that supports my contention that Google is trying to take over the world. Seriously, this might be happening. They're basically running my life at this point. I am proud to say I haven't succumbed to the temptation of adding my GMail account to my BlackBerry. Not yet, anyway.

Also from Slate, is this article summing up my thoughts on something I promised I would never talk about again. Since I'm cryptically referring to it, I'm still - technically - keeping my promise. Not that I'm a man of my word.

If you're wondering, I do not write for Slate. They just steal all my ideas. If they do an article about Korean movies in the next few months I'm gonna be pissed!

Here's a prime example of how lawyers have ruined our society. Was hoping this police officer was having trouble sleeping at night, but if that were the case she never would have filed in the first place. Not much disgusts me, but this does.

Remember my rant against Al Gore's documentary 'An Inconvenient Truth'? Well, check this out. If this happens, I will be beside myself. Touting environmental conservation and preservation while flying around in a private jet hardly qualifies.

Great article from Jeff Pearlman about how depressing it is to be a Yankee fan. Sadly, Boston fans are heading in this same direction.

File this under 'What Could Have Been'. Do you realize that if the Red Sox managed to execute the Nomar - Manny - ARod trade and every thing else happened just as it did, the Sox lineup would probably look like this: Lugo*, Pedroia, Papi, ARod, Magglio Ordonez, Drew, Youk, Varitek, Coco. I marked Lugo because ARod would be playing short, so I doubt they would have signed him if this were the case. So, it probably would have been more like this: Pedroia, Youk, Papi, ARod, Ordonez, Drew, Lowell, Varitek, Coco. Personally, I'm glad this didn't happen but that is one tough, flexible looking lineup. And with ARod sharing his makeup with everyone, they'd be looking so pretty.

Speaking as a Yankee hater, I am praying that insane George rears his ugly head one more time and they fire Joe Torre. No other manager could have squeezed out that many wins from so flawed a team as Torre and replacing him will just make that team worse. Plus, figure Rivera, Posada and ARod will most likely flee to other teams if it happens.

Speaking of ARod, the perfect landing place for him would be San Fran. If the fans there can cheer Barry Bonds, they can definitely sell themselves on ARod. In fact, it's an upgrade. ARod may be annoying and disappear in the postseason, but at least he isn't a flaming, cheating, Grade A asshole. Besides, it's not like the Giants will get into the postseason. It's perfect!

Speaking of Grade A assholes, it seems this Kobe Bryant saga might not be over. Am I the only one that thinks of Rip Taylor when they look at the Jerry Buss picture?

Drew Brees, by the way, is KILLING my fantasy football team. Killing it! I actually played Matt Schuab over him the last two weeks and he out preformed him. Granted one of those weeks was New Orlean's bye week, but I really don't think that would have made a difference.

There were several guys from our fantasy league at the wedding Sunday, including the guy I was matched up against that day. He comes up to me and says 'You play Addai?' I say 'Of course'. He says 'Good, cause he's not playing today'. Fucker! I knew he was a 'Game Time Decision', but considering it was a chest bruise or something I figured he would play. His backup, which I have on my team, too, wound up running for 140+ yards or something. I lost by 15 points. Unbelievable!

Finally, if you hate winter like I do, here is some great news. Maybe I'll do that polar swim on New Year's Day this year.

Safe travels to a few friends flying this weekend. Can't wait to hear all about the trips.

Today's distraction: The Top 50 Moments in LCS History. I thought #50 should be in the top 10 as it's still one of the funniest things I've ever seen in my life.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Record Deal

On his website yesterday, Trent Reznor - the one man show behind Nine Inch Nails - announced that he is going to continue the rest of his musical career with no record contract. No record executives, producers (he produces his own material, anyway) or studios. As the man himself says: 'As of right now Nine Inch Nails is totally free agent, free of any recording contract with any label'.

It remains to be seen what this means for Nine Inch Nails and their future releases, but Reznor seems quite pleased to 'finally have a direct relationship with the audience as I see fit'. I'm guessing he is....shall we say...displeased with studios.

Last week Radiohead announced their new release (can we call them 'records' anymore?) will be ready soon and that they will make it available for download on the 'honor system'. Basically, this means they're offering it for no cost, but you - the consumer - pay what you think it's worth. I'm curious as to how this is going to work for them and how many people will really pay any amount for something that they could conceivably get for free. This isn't a release, it's a social experiment. Which, if you know anything about Radiohead, might be the point.

We've all heard of the Recording Industry (RIAA) suing 14 year old girls because they're sharing music over Kazaa or Napster. What we haven't heard is the RIAA dropping some lawsuits 'without prejudice', meaning they can reopen the case if they feel like it. So, the lawsuit is temporarily dropped, but they leave it - and their courtroom full of expensive lawyers - hanging over the defendant for an indefinite amount of time.

As this article explains, 'When the RIAA decides to drop a case, it will file for dismissal without prejudice. If the motion is made prior to the defendant filing an answer to the complaint or a counterclaim, that's the end of the case. The RIAA extricates itself from a case it decided was unwinnable and the defendant is left holding the bag for attorney's fees.'

The current defendant in the above article, Tallie Stubbs, and (more importantly) her lawyer, Marilyn Barringer-Thompson are saying 'Um, excuse us. Not so fast'. Article again: 'If Tallie Stubbs wins her motion for dismissal with prejudice, then she, too, will be considered the prevailing party and will be eligible for attorney's fees and other court costs from the RIAA. More importantly, it would put the RIAA in the position of having lost one of their file-sharing-related copyright infringement case—none of which have yet gone to trial.'

Basically, the RIAA is making examples of certain music file sharers, bullying them with their endless supply of lawyers, then deciding it isn't worth the trouble and dropping the charges 'without prejudice' to financially punish the defendant without officially doing anything.

Consider Jammie Thomas, a single mother making $36,000 dollars a year, being ordered by a jury to pay $220,000. She was not stealing music, mind you, but sharing out 24 songs for download. 24 songs at $220,000. Let's see, that makes it about...oh...a shitload of money per song.

But, wait, there's more! Ray Beckerman, a lawyer who also happens to run the blog 'Recording Industry vs The People', is going after the RIAA for their wholesale pricing arrangements, claiming that the $750 per song fine for music sharing is unconstitutional and excessive. He wants proof the that punishment is proper and the only way he can do that is to get how much those studios spend on creating those songs. The RIAA, of course, is refusing. Probably because the general public will become outraged when we find out that CDs cost about 75 cents to make and another $5.00 to produce, market and distribute.

Here's what the RIAA doesn't get and I'm speaking as a music lover who gets music from a variety of places. Both legal and otherwise. Music sharing is not a bad thing. When Napster was free and allowed me to download songs from all over the world, I bought more CDs than ever before. I was discovering new bands constantly and, despite having them on my laptop, went out and bought the CDs anyway.

I did (and still do) this for two reasons:

1 - Even with the improvements in iTunes and MP3s, the sound quality on CDs is far and away superior. It even sounds better on the iPod when you rip it from CD then if you download it. Sorry, young ones, but it's true.

2 - I fucking hate iTunes and the limitations they put on music I OWN! Once I buy the music I should be able to do whatever I want with it. As it stands now, I can only move the songs I download through iTunes to 6 computers. Considering I have two laptops (one for work, one for play), a desktop and an iPod, I've already used up 3 sources. If I buy a new computer, there goes one more. Therefore, buying a CD puts the songs in my hands and gives me complete control over what I can do with it. If my hard drive crashes, I just reload all the music from my CD collection.

Sure there are third party utilities and other ways to move your iTunes music around, but it shouldn't have to be that complicated. I fucking paid for it, for crying out loud. I have more control over music I get illegally than I do legally. At this point in time, it is more beneficial to download music from free sites and take your chances then to use iTunes or any other 'for pay' sites. How does that make any sense for the RIAA?

The RIAA, for their part, is aware they're taking a public 'black eye' for these cases, but insist it's necessary to protect their investment in the artists. Nice try, but the RIAA has been gouging us for years on CD prices. Do they really expect us to believe $15 per CD is reasonable? I, for one, think anything over $11 is a joke, especially with all the crappy songs they toss onto the albums as filler. The six major record labels have already been chastised for price fixing and colluding with each other and they only made billions upon billions of dollars last year. Now they expect us to believe they're only protecting their artists?

It might be a reasonable argument if influential and respected artists like Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails weren't gleefully fleeing from them. If I were the RIAA, I would be very concerned that other, established artists, are going to do the same. I can see the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Madonna, and Prince doing the same thing. Or could, if any of them had any vision or balls.

So, Recording Industry, what's it going to be? Are you going to keep over reacting and bullying single mothers around while alienating the artists you say you're trying to protect?

Or are you going to work with your own artists and with the consumers that line your already deep pockets to come up with a reasonable solution?

My advice (not that you listen to anyone other than your elite peers) is to take the latter approach. For, if you take the former, you may not be around much longer to enjoy your power.

Today's distraction: Completely unrelated, but amazing stop motion animation. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Weekend Update

In the wake of one of the more spectacular sports weekends in recent memory I wanted to recap the highlights of my weekend.

Friday Night: While a couple of friends were attending the most exciting game at Fenway since 2004, I was rehearsing for my role as best man - excuse me....BEST MAN...for my best friend's wedding. After the church (at which I felt my skin start to burn with God's wrath), we went to my friend's place for a dinner/drink fest.

My friend lives in an new apartment complex that has a mini movie theater in the resident's function hall. Being a sort of technical person, we managed to hot wire the thing to get cable. We spent most of the night bounding into the movie theater to watch the Yankees lose on Hafner's walk off hit and the Sox walk off with Manny's bomb. Not just good times, but great times!

The two goofs that were at the game sent me a video of celebration in the stands after Manny's home run and it was awesome! Thanks again for that, DA. I'm going to watch it whenever I need a lift.

At the end of the night, groom-to-be pulled out one of the greatest gifts ever given to his grooms men: Six tickets - all together- to a Celtics game. That's right, my first live view of the new, improved, favored (once they fire Doc Rivers) Boston Celtics. Has the Boston sports scene ever looked so promising? 1986, maybe, but if things pan out like they could, 2007-2008 could go down as one of greatest sport years for any city.

Saturday: My wife's brother decided this would be a good weekend to fly in for a visit. My first reaction was 'What the fuck, could he have picked a worse time?', but it actually worked out fantastically. He has two boys, as well, and our sons just hung out and had a great time together. Since my mother in law was taking our boys over night for the weekend, it was a stroke of genius. Made things easier for her and the boys cared less if we were around. Plus, I always got along with her brother and it was fun to sit down and chat with him again.

Sunday: WEDDING DAY!!! It started off fairly uneventful until I called the groom to find out he was heading to Walmart to pick up candles. When I asked why he said 'She said each table needs six candles, not just five'. Uh oh! BrideZilla is roaring. We already had plans to pick up the center piece flowers from Lexington, then drop them off at the function hall in Haverhill. Considering the 3 PM wedding start, time was going to be tight.

We got everything done on time (to make a long story short), but needed to get ready at the groom's place rather than his brother's. Brother had all the other groomsmen there and was BBQing and drinking while we were running around like maniacs. To top it all off, the bride forgot her headpiece and we had to run it over to her mother's house at the last minute. My buddy complained 'She's been getting manicures, pedicures and her hair done while drinking mimosas while I haven't had one minute to relax!' Happy he wasn't.

Wedding ceremony was uneventful, except for the priest calling them by the wrong last name, which led to the bride and groom introducing themselves as that wrong name the rest of the day. Priest also spent WAYYY too much time sermonizing. The bride, groom, bride's maid and myself were kneeling the entire time and was in enough pain to wonder if part of the best man duties was to punch out a priest that was rambling. I was ready to do it, too!!

The reception was where the fun started. Bridal party had to pose for queer pictures, but we got a free spread and open bar for the entire first hour. This led to us ordering about 5 beers a piece so we could stock up. At one point there were 5 Heinekens, 10 Bud Lights and 3 Coronas all ice cold and waiting for us. Mine for the Heinies, if you were wondering.

Once we got inside, it was time for my speech. Gotta admit I wasn't nervous at all until the DJ handed me the microphone and I realized I had to talk in front of 150 people. But, my first joke about the groom brought the house down and it was smooth sailing from there. I had the bride and groom laughing so hard they were crying. Yes, I rock!

It was party time after the speech and had a great time. Cigars, beers, laughs. Doesn't get much better. Plus, we snagged a hotel room for the after party and spent the better part of the night drinking and taking over the lobby bar. While we spent a good deal of money it was worth every penny. Nothing like sending off a good friend in style.

As for the sports scene, I was delighted to see the Indians rid the world of the Yankees for the rest of the season. As exciting as it would be, I don't think I could handle the emotional roller coaster of a Yankees - Sox ALCS. Besides, great story lines with Trot and Manny facing their old teams with a chance to advance to the World Series.

Plus the Patriots kicked ass again, we got a pleasant preview of the KG Era for the Celtics, and one of the most exciting Monday night games ever last night.

Quick rundown of the final four teams:

Sox - Indians: Both teams are at the top of their games. Sox look like they care again, the pitching is top notch and if Schilling pitches like he did in Game 3, I can't see this team losing.

Indians still don't scare me, although with Carmona and Sabathia, they have a chance. What surprises me is their bullpen pitching lights out against the Yankees. Didn't expect that and don't expect it to continue in the Sox series.

Keys to Series: The bullpens. Gagne may play a bigger role in this series than any other reliever. He looked surprisingly good against the Angels, despite giving up the home run. Still too much of a gamble in a close game, but Delcarmen, Timlin and Papelbon all look in top form. Advantage has to go to Sox in this series. Especially after watching the Indians' closer give up a mammoth home run to Abreau in the ninth inning last night. That can't instill a lot of confidence in Cleveland fans.

Prediction: Sox in Six.

Diamondbacks - Rockies: How appropriate is this? Two teams that nobody expected to be any good are playing for the National League Pennant. Gotta be honest, I have no idea who will win this series. Both teams are scrappy, more than the sum of their parts and could win any of these games.

Keys to Series: Pitching and since the Diamondbacks have Webb, I'm going with them.

Prediction: Diamondbacks in seven, but this series could go either way and become a classic in the process. Expect a lot of one run games.

One more quick note - I now see why people from other parts of the country think there is an east coast bias in the media. There is more coverage about what the Yankees are going to do in the offseason than there is about how the Indians beat them. Who fucking cares what the Yankees do? You can report on that when the World Series is over. Focus on the teams still playing. Besides, why is anyone surprised they're out this early. Pitching was always their achilles heal and the playoffs tend to expose the weakness of every team. Goodbye, Yankees, worst of luck in the offseason.

Today's distraction: Since I'm still relishing the Sox sweep, here is an article about Manny. He's still one of the more enigmatic, bizarre, and goofily likable players in history.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Life Lessons of BrickBreaker

Three events have altered my life recently.

The first happened a few months ago when my company decided I needed a BlackBerry. I was opposed to such things as I don't want people to be able to contact me when I'm away from the office. However, since this same company has me traveling all over the country they figured I would need it. Much to my delight, it comes with a compact version of BrickBreaker on it. I played it for a bit when I had a few minutes to kill, but it didn't evolve past that.

The second happened when I left my book at the Baltimore hotel. I like to read when flying as it keeps me diverted from my claustrophobic existence. It was the Stephen King short story one, that one that has the story that movie '1409' is based on. I only read 3 of the stories before I left it behind and wasn't all that impressed. (Quick side note here: I paid almost $500 a night at this place and they can't go the extra mile and FedEx my book back to me? If it wasn't actually my company that paid for it, I would really be pissed.)

Lastly, when I spent a week with my boss I looked over and saw him playing BrickBreaker on his own phone. He noticed me noticing and says 'my high is over 13,000'. Wait, what? Up to that point my high was only around 5500. That was it. My nearly stagnant competitive juices started flowing and now I'm starting up BrickBreaker every chance I get. On the plane, at the park, at a little league game, you name it. I even took it out yesterday while waiting for a funeral to start. You could say I have a problem.

Plus, since I don't have my book, I'm playing it on the subway back and forth to work every day. Combined with my iPod, I've nearly missed my stop three times in the past week. I get so absorbed that I look around and realize I have no idea where I am. I'm going to wind up in Forest Hills one day this week.

Despite what you may think, this isn't exactly a mind numbing game. In fact, I do believe the creators of BrickBreaker have developed it as a parallel to life.

Bear with me.

Like life, BrickBreaker have multiple levels. As you progress, so does the difficulty. Consider stages 1 - 3 early childhood where things are simple and straighforward; stages 4-7 are the teenage years where growth and hormone spurts throw unexpected twists at you; stages 5-10 are the college years - they challenge you, are a ton of fun, and if you aren't careful you could wind up in rehab. I've only gotten as high as stage 19 (out of 32, I believe), but I can tell you 11-19 are adulthood. Constantly new and challenging roadblocks that you need to fight through to get further on.

But, wait, that's not all. See when you hit certain blocks they drop little bonus cylinders that you need to pick up before they get past. And you need to do it while you're keeping the ball bouncing. I've found that even these bonuses can be matched to real life events.

Life: The most coveted of all the bonuses as it extends the game for you and gives you new hope. This one is self explanatory. We all want to live as long as possible.

Gun: You get three missiles with the gun bonus, but they can knock out those pesky solid bricks that the ball can't destroy. I view it as having some sort of connection in the real world. Like a brother who works for HomeLand Security. The gun and the connection take care of stubborn obstacles and make things easier all around.

Laser: Sort of like the gun, but you have unlimited ammo and it won't shoot the solid bricks away. This is like delegating your menial labor to a subordinate. The laser takes care of all the pesky little things so you can climb higher faster.

Flip: The one bonus you want to avoid. Makes it so if you move left you actually move right and vice versa. I wind up losing a ball within 3 seconds of accidentally grabbing one of these. I view it like an unexpected death in the family or getting fired from your six figure job without any warning.

Catch: Lets you catch the ball, redirect it where you want and fire it again. Consider this like being the smartest person in a room. You can plan 3-4 moves ahead while everyone is trying to figure out their first.

Slow: Slows the ball down and let's you relax and take your time. This is vacation.

Long: Extends the length of your base so you can cover more area. Haven't figure out where this fits into real life yet, but there is a penis joke in here somewhere.

Multi: Gives you four balls at once. This is just like my work life now. Way too much going on and I'm going to lose track of something sooner or later.

The key to this (and life) is learning when to use each bonus and which work best with each other. For example, the Long and Multi bonuses work great together, but Laser and Multi just causes way too much confusion. Plus, some bonuses cancel out the others. If you pick up a Life, it cancels out everything. Getting Catch will cancel out everthing but Slow. Gun cancels out Laser, but not Multi. Like real life, once you figure out the nuances of the bonuses you will excel at this game.

But there is one more aspect of this game that mirrors the real world. It isn't fair. To be blunt, the game fucking cheats. There have been more than one occassion that I've been cruising through the levels when the ball will take a physically impossible bounce or go right through my base. It passes right through the blue. I've seen it and it pisses me off! Stupid cheating game.

I am proud to announce that my current high score is almost 12,000. I'm guessing that if I beat my boss' high score I'll lose interest, but it's nice to know I have a diversion at my fingertips when I need it.

Long live BrickBreaker!

Quick note: I never had time to finish my National League rundown, so I'm just skipping it since two of the series are already at 2-0. Maybe next year.

Today's distraction: Play BrickBreaker online. Make sure you turn your volume down as this thing cranks up stupid and unnecessary music.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Playoff Baseball!!

Now we're talking! Like most of my life, I went to bed about 30 minutes too early Monday night. I blew off most of the Patriots game (not that it was much of a game) to watch the Rockies - Padres game on TBS (anyone else in Red Sox Nation a bit perplexed listening to Don Orsillo calling the game? Why didn't they just throw Remy in there, too?) and lasted 12 innings before retiring.

This, of course, meant the 13th inning would be one of the most eventful and exciting innings in baseball history. One game to decide a season. Does it get any better than that? I think not. To make it more interesting, any one of these teams could get hot and win the whole thing. Even the Cubs. Let's get to the tried and true rundown.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Boston Red Sox:

Why They Can Win: The deepest pitching staff in the playoffs. Beckett, Schilling, Matsuzaka (who seems to have figured it out his last few starts), and Lester are enough for any seven game series. All of them give the team a chance. As long as Gagne doesn't pitch and Okajima goes back to being himself, the bullpen won't blow many games for them.

Why They Won't Win: There is a disturbing lack of passion with this team. It took some call ups and rookies to get a fire lit under them. They seemed better during the last few weeks of the season and this is the playoffs, so this shouldn't be an issue. Shouldn't.

Keys: The bullpen and rookies. How will they handle the REAL pressure. To be honest, I'm not real worried about this as they play in Boston. Still Ellsbury, Pedroia, Okajima, Dice-K, Lester are all experiencing the playoffs for the first time. We'll see.

Bottom Line: The most well rounded team in the playoffs. Tough lineup, they're getting healthier by the day, and they have the pitching to hang in any game.

New York Yankees:

Why They Can Win: The best lineup in baseball. They can outscore anyone.

Why They Won't Win: Pitching seems to have regressed the last few weeks of the season after a solid month. If the Baltimore game where they blew a 6 run lead to hand the East to the Sox is any indication, this postseason could get ugly very quickly. Above killer lineup will be facing the best pitching in the league and they've shown a tendency to wilt when facing a good pitcher.

Keys: It's singular here (just Key) and it all comes down to A-Rod. Is he going to disappear in the playoffs again?

Bottom Line: The pitching has to be a major concern, but they do have proven vets that have been there before. Clemens, Petitte, Mussina (who looks done) might give them a shot, but I don't have a ton of faith in any of them.

LA Angels:

Why They Can Win: Decent pitching and a scary, clutch lineup. Nobody (except Vlad) has killer numbers, but they always seem to get that HUGE hit every time they need it. Are nearly unbeatable at home, which is why home field was a big get for the Red Sox.

Why They Won't Win: How about a losing record on the road? That sit well with any Angel fans heading into a playoff series where they don't have home field advantage? Yeah, me neither.

Keys: Which Garret Anderson shows up and whether Lackey can keep it up in the post season. Plus, exaclty how healthy is Guerrero?

Bottom Line: The losing road record is a major problem for me. Especially in a short series. But, they have all the ingredients to go far. Basically, they're either done in 3-4 games or will win it all. There is little in between with this team.

Cleveland Indians:

Why They Can Win: CC Sabathia and Carmona make a tough 1-2 combo in any series.

Why They Won't Win: Questionable (to be nice) lineup. Besides Sabathia and Carmona, who else can the rely on?

Keys: The bullpen. I'm sorry, but having a closer with an ERA over 5 does not translate well in the playoffs. I don't care how many saves he ended up with.

Bottom Line: I wrote a while back that I hoped this team would miss the playoffs because they scare me. Well, they made it and they really don't scare me at all. The more I see of them, the less intimidated I get.

Series Outlook:

Red Sox - Angels: Sox seem to be the nemesis of the Angels in the playoffs going back to 1986. Don't expect this year to be much different.

Prediction: Sox in 4

Yankees - Indians: Yankees are 6-0 against the Indians this year. Indians don't scare anyone, but they can pitch Sabathia and Carmona 4 times in a 5 game series. Everyone thinks the Yankees have this in the bag which means....

Prediction: Indians in 5

National League tomorrow (I know, a day late - sue me).

Today's distraction: Playoff Baseball from A to Z. Courtesy of all places, the Canadian Press. Is this becoming the International Pastime?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Better Business

Anyone who travels for business would tell you the trips can be one of three types:

Smooth Sailing: Everything goes as planned. Flights are on time or have very minor delays. Weather is beautiful, the birds are singing and you get done with your project ahead of schedule. This allows you to wander the city you are visiting and soak up the local atmosphere. Unsurprisingly, these types of trips are few and far between.

Rough Seas: Project mostly goes as planned, but there are few hiccups along the way that involve late nights to get things back on track. Usually, hours are spent resolving unforeseen issues. These trips are the most common. Not too bad, but worse than expected.

Katrina: The Murphy's Law of trips. Whatever can go wrong will. Flights are canceled or delayed, the project isn't ready when you arrive, when things finally do get underway nothing works. This is the type of trip where you just want to get home. Three days feels like three weeks. Sadly, you work so much you never get to do anything besides stagger back to your hotel room and collapse into a heap so you can get a few hours of sleep.

Last week's trip to Chicago falls between 'Rough Seas' and 'Katrina', which is an improvement on most of my trips to that city. I have nothing personal against Chicago. I love the city itself. Lots to do, great bars, good food, people are friendly (for the most part). Fun city all around.

My issue is with my coworker in Chicago. Or ex-coworker as the case may be. They finally fired his lazy ass and I'm left picking up the pieces until they hire a replacement. This probably means another trip back soon, which should be ok. If I go for day to day reasons, it will give me time to check out the night life.

His firing was in the middle of a huge project, of course. So not only did I, my boss and another coworker who flew in from Florida have to get the project completed, but we had to clean up the disaster he left behind. Turns out he should have been fired years ago as the evidence uncovered since he left is piling up. This was a case of a seemingly simple process uncovering a piece of information that made the simple process not so simple. That information would lead to another fact, which further complicated matters. Suddenly this supposedly simple project led to me browsing Ebay, my boss obtaining security videos and possible charges being filed. The more we uncovered, the dirtier and more confusing things became. We finally just stopped asking questions.

Three nights in a row we worked until at least eleven. We had to be in the office by 7am two of the mornings following those nights. Here's what I got to see of Chicago during my four day, three night stay: My hotel room, our office, the conference room we all shared, Boston Blackies for lunch, PJ Clarke's (only because I demanded it for our last lunch), and my hotel lobby. That's it. The more I think of it, the trip is closer to a 'Katrina' then a 'Rough Seas'.

There were some highlights, however, and I am here to entertain.

- Discovering 'Big, Black, Beautiful Breasts' in my fired coworker's laptop DVD player. I would say this was THE highlight, but another find on the last night there topped everything.

- Watching the security video of this dildo pushing out very expensive equipment that belonged to our company. We learned of this after talking to one of the Chicago people and him dropping this: 'I saw him and his partner in here this weekend. He was moving equipment around the office on carts.' My boss and I look at each other, boss looks back at the guy and asks 'Um, who is his partner? Would you describe him for us?'

- Partner is apparently some guy he is running a side business with. We learned this by calling ex-employee's cell phone and have the answering service announce to us that we had just reached 'Something something incorporated. Please leave a message.'

- Setting up an Ebay account to see if dildo was selling the stolen equipment online. We even found pictures on his laptop that were taken as if they were going to be put online. He was definitely selling out of the office.

- Realizing that 60 pieces of equipment were unaccounted for (60!!). This led to a lowlight of having to inventory every machine in the building. That sucked! Big time.

- Dining at Boston Blackie's for lunch, I realized the waiter just might be a waitress. I found myself staring trying to figure out if it was a he, a she, or someone in transition. I finally made myself look away only to turn and find my boss staring at him with the same confused expression I was probably just making. I caught his eye, touched the tip of my nose and pointed at him. He was laughing so hard, he could barely place his order. We still haven't figured it out, although the one girl with us offered this in an attempt to be helpful: 'All I know is he or she wasn't wearing a bra'.

- Cleaning out his office, my boss found a bottle of Cialis. He tosses it to me and says 'Only 4 pills left'. Then laughing points out 'He had enough for nine more refills! NINE!!!'. Yes, this was the highlight of the week. Not only was he most likely watching porn at work, but he was using Cialis to become more intimate with himself. Great guy!

- In what I'm hoping is an unrelated note, there was also a bottle of wine in his desk drawer. I wonder if he lit candles, popped a Cialis, poured himself a glass of wine and one for his virtual lady before getting down to business. Hey, a guy needs romance too. Ok, we don't really, but his girlfriend who lived in his DVD player apparently did.

So that was my week at work. To put a big, fat, rotting cherry on top, I had to endure horrendous traffic on the way to O'Hare airport. Say what you will about Boston, but Chicago's traffic is ten times worse than here. It took me over an hour to travel maybe 15 miles. And I don't even think it's that far. I was going to tell you how long it takes with no traffic and realized to my amazement that has never happened. I've never had a simple ride either to or from O'Hare to the downtown area. There has always been traffic jams along the way.

Once I get to the airport, there are four news vans parked outside with cameras and well groomed, television reporters bustling about. As my driver said, 'Hmm, that can't be good'. It wasn't. I was in the security line for about an hour and when I finally get through it's a complete zoo. People everywhere and no place to sit. If you've ever been in American Airlines' O'Hare terminal, you know how cramped and poorly designed it is.

There was one teeny tiny bar crammed across from Starbucks, so I figured I would order a Stella to keep me calm. 'Sure! That will be six seventy five!' What the fuck? I thought the cost of living was cheaper in the midwest! He was at least kind enough to pour it into one of those cheapo plastic cups (you can't have bottles out in the open) that wasn't big enough to hold the entire beer. I basically paid $6.75 for 10 ounces of beer. I was one and done that night.

As if THAT weren't enough, I was lucky enough to be sharing this cramped space with a high school girl's softball team. They killed time by arm wrestling on the floor, flicking each other behind the ears (I thought only guys did that) and over laughing at every stupid joke one of them cracked. Teenage girls in general can be fine, but when they get in large groups it's like audio feedback - the closer they get to each other the more high pitched, ineligible shrieking comes out. Did I mention I forgot my iPod on this trip?

When I finally got home I felt like I had been gone for months.

In summary, I am glad to be back in Boston. Despite my hectic week, things are better when you sleep in your own bed.

Now pass the Cialis and wine, please. I need to relax.


Today's distraction: How to cope with stress. I must agree that taking a bath with the woman in the photo would be a great way to relieve stress. Thought the writer was genius until I read this line: 'Don’t self-medicate with alcohol or drugs'. Um, excuse me? What's the point of alcohol or drugs if not to self medicate? I'm gonna let someone else do it? IDIOT!!