Friday, August 13, 2004


Buoyed by Pedro Martinez's six-hit, 10-strikeout shutout of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays yesterday, Boston Globe sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy actually wrote an upbeat column today.

But in classic Shaughnessy fashion, he felt the need to toss this jab in there:
"Right now is when we need him to be strong," said the manager (Terry Francona about Martinez).

Now. And in September. And October. In the eighth inning. In New York.

For those of you who did not witness the agony of the seventh game of last year's American League Championship Series, Martinez faltered in the eighth after seven strong innings, allowing the Yankees to tie the game. Of course, ex-manager Grady Little was bombarded with most of the blame after failing to remove Martinez when it was blatantly obvious he was out of gas.

Shaughnessy has never tried to hide his dislike of Martinez. The veteran columnist who sometimes calls him "Diva Pedro" loves to occasionally throw cheap shots in his direction. And he did it again here.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Beware the Grey Goose

'Twas yet another uneventful evening on Lowden Ave. Dan, Tyler and Polly were playing a rather uninspired game of Scrabble when the sound of clanking glass was heard emanating from the kitchen. Confused, Tyler looked at Dan, tilted his head, contorted his face and scrunched his eyes.

"Do we have mice again?" Dan inquired.

The trio returned to their game, but minutes later, more sounds could be heard coming from the kitchen. As Polly placed "dun" (a color ranging from almost neutral brownish gray to dull grayish brown) on the board, Tyler embarked on his search and destroy mission.


For months, the vision of rodents infested Tyler's head. In addition to the mice that were making the kitchen their home, squirrels had taken a liking to the space between the second floor. One minute, mice could be seen scampering across the kitchen floor; the next minute squirrels could be heard running overhead.

It was enough to drive a man insane.

Tyler tried to keep his cool, but a deep hatred--spurred on by his difficulty catching the dastardly creatures--was simmering just beneath the surface. While he generally experienced a fair amount of success trapping the rodents, each battle sapped an untold amount of energy from Tyler's mind and body. For a time, it looked as though the rodents might win the war. But the sticky traps finally began to work their magic and the landlord came to the rescue, finally patching the hole in the side of the house. The war appeared to be over, with Tyler emerging victorious, but battered.

Now, several months later, the mice were back.


As Tyler entered the kitchen, he eyed up the two recycling bins and exclaimed, "He's right here!" The warrior poked around at the paper bin, discovering nothing. Then he poked around at the glass bin. There was the mouse, idiotically trapped inside the deep container.

The blood rushing to his eyes, the furor inhabiting his body, the warrior--in a rare position of obvious and overwhelming power--grabbed a broom. Immediately, Tyler began stabbing at the mouse, but to no avail. It quickly became apparent that the mouse hadn't simply trapped himself in a woefully precarious position. He was also surrounded by a plethora of killing tools.

Tyler grabbed an empty Spaten beer bottle and began to violently swing it in the mouse's direction. The bottle shattered. The mouse, realizing his life was about to end, desperately tried to leap out of the bin. But the walls were simply too high for the tiny rodent.

After the Spaten bottle broke, the warrior discovered a far better instrument of death--a Grey Goose vodka bottle. This was no ordinary bottle. It's base, consisting of an inch of solid glass, was made for crushing small critters. Like he did with the broom, Tyler stabbed at the mouse. Finally, after several attempts, he struck the creature, crushing the lower half of its body. Its hind right leg broken and its guts spilling out...the enemy was dead.

The adrenaline rushing through his body, the victor proudly admired his efforts, staring at the mouse carcass for a minute. After Tyler returned to the Scrabble board, Polly suggested that leaving the dead body in the recycling bin might be a bad idea. And so the warrior returned to the site of his grand triumph, scooping the carcass with a yogurt container and placing it in a ziploc bag, which was taken outside and dumped into the trash.

Despite his joy, Tyler could not help but wonder if more mice were to be found. And if so, surely the next battle would not be so easy.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Ralph Whiner

If Andy Rooney ever leaves 60 Minutes, CBS should hire Ralph Nader as a replacement.

I am taller than is facilitated by the cramped seats of the airlines that try to put in two extra rows. For tall people, they basically sell a ticket for all of you to go on the plane but your knees. Their motto could be, "Will travel, leave your knees behind."

You know what I say to people when I'm in one of Delta's or United's cramped seats? I tap the man or woman in front of me before we take off and say, "My knees and resultant circulation are now at your mercy." They know that means they should refrain from pushing their seat back. Because if they do, they will hear:

For airline passengers, we need a six-footers club.

While George W. Bush has Air Force One and John Kerry has his own Boeing 757, I have my unofficial campaign airline, called Southwest.

I don't have just one plane; I have the whole airline at my disposal. If you arrive late or have a special need, they give you a wink and say, "I'll take care of that.'' And they give you peanuts. And they are roasted. Do you realize how important a factor that is for a hungry campaigner?

I'm looking at a package of Kings Delicious Gourmet Party Mix. It says: "Made especially for United. A premium blend of cashews, honey-roasted sesame sticks and mini-pretzels."

I proceeded to open it with heightened anticipation, fully prepared to separate out the mini-pretzels from the rest. Are you ready? There was one little lonely shrunken cashew, two sesame sticks and the overwhelming denizens of this little packet were mini-pretzels. I counted them out, believe me. What else do you do on the plane where you're cramped?

Can you imagine an executive decision at the pretzel company, whoever is in charge, saying, "No one at United is going to count the number of cashews."

Hampton Inn is the motel of preference for our campaign. Breakfast is part of the price, and it is so diverse, you stand there stroking your chin saying, "Decisions, decisions, decisions."

I have seen emblazoned on the check-in counter that if you're not satisfied with the service for any reason, you can ask for your money back. From personal experience, I know they mean it.

But I have checked in at other hotels where they say, "We need your credit card in case there's damage to the room."

I say: "You're accepting my patronage and you're assuming I may break up the furniture? I'm accepting your service and assuming you're not going to unleash vermin and present me with a filthy room. I trust you; why don't you trust me?"

The answer is, "It's company policy, sir."

You know why I don't give them my credit card? Because I have never had a credit card. To participate in a mechanism that increases prices, induces impulse buying, violates privacy and makes you vulnerable to intimidation whenever you complain is against my consumer-protection principles.

At a Boston hotel, I once made a call of around 11 minutes. They charged me 40-something dollars. I told the hotel clerk, "You didn't indicate you were engaged in extortion.''

They immediately cut it in half. That was around four years ago; now, of course, I don't even try using the room phone.

One story I've got to tell: In the early 70's, when planes were being hijacked to Cuba, we demanded that the F.A.A. require airlines to harden cockpit doors and strengthen the latches.

The airlines objected, saying it cost them too much money, and the F.A.A. obeyed for around 30 years. When I turned on the TV on Sept. 11, I almost threw up. Now all the planes have been fitted.

Monday, August 09, 2004

It takes creativity to come up with this stuff

A bogus high school in Los Angeles is being sued for issuing fake diplomas and teaching its students a ridiculously inaccurate curriculum.

Anyone reading the school's workbook would learn that:
  • The United States has 53 states but the "flag has not yet been updated to reflect the addition of the last three states" -- Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico.
  • World War II began in 1938 and ended in 1942.
  • There are two houses of Congress -- the Senate and the House, and "one is for Democrats and the other is for the Republicans, respectively."

Sunday, August 08, 2004


Somewhere in an alternate universe, Mia Wallace and Vincent Vega are having this conversation:

Vincent: Did you just order a $5 New York Times?
Mia: Sure did.
Vincent: That's a newspaper...that's newsprint and ink.
Mia: Last I heard.
Vincent: That's $5?
Convenience store clerk: Yep.
Vincent: They don't put coupons or comics in it?
Convenience store clerk: Nope.
Vincent: Just checking.

(Clerk hands over the newspaper)

Vincent: Can I have a look at that? I'd like to know what a $5 newspaper reads like.
Mia: Be my guest.
Vincent: (Reads a Tom Friedman column) Goddamn! That's a pretty fuckin' good newspaper.
Mia: Told ya.
Vincent: I don't know if it's worth $5, but it's pretty fuckin' good.

It's true, the Sunday New York Times now costs $5 in Boston, up from $4.50. I'd get the Globe, but it's just not nearly as good.