Monday, October 31, 2005

Why, When I Was Your Age...

WARNING: What follows are the bitter musings of a bald, semi-toothless, miserable old poop. They will no doubt sour your entire day, as well as leave you yearning for a future when forced euthanasia of such crabapples is the law. Too bad for you, if you choose to read this.


When I was a kid, Halloween was much better.

There, I said it. I am now officially one of those wretched old bastards who complains about how things are and how much better they were. So shoot me. You'll be doing me a favor.

Have you seen It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown? That was how Halloween was when I was a kid. Beagles would climb up on top of their doghouses and fly off to shoot down German aircraft. It was great!

Well, wait a minute. Maybe that didn't happen. But the rest of the stuff did. Except for the part about sitting in a field all night waiting for The Great Pumpkin to show up. I didn't start doing that until after my first experience with angel dust. The sonovabitch didn't bring me any presents, either. All I remember is him saying, "Security? I've got a nutjob in produce. He's naked, squatting in the gourd bin, and I think he's trying to talk to a squash."

However, that's neither here nor there. What we're discussing is Halloween, circa 1967. The thing about Halloween, at that time, was that it was a night we kids got to dress up in costume, go out on our own, and try to amass huge quantities of candy. You waited for it to get really dark, so that it would be scarier. You stayed out later than you normally did, so that you could get to every possible source of candy within walking distance. And the only kids who had their parents with them were those not old enough to go to school yet.

First, you generally made up your own costume. It was a point of pride. If you had to buy a mask, it sure had to be one hell of a good one to pass muster. As a result, there were great multitudes of hobos, pirates, and clowns, since nobody usually had the props for anything more ambitious. You could be a ghost, of course, but you were risking your life. This was because our moms would have killed us if we cut up a good sheet.

Occasionally, one of the boys would make the mistake of dressing in drag, commandeering make-up, a wig and high-heels from his mother or sister. While it may have seemed like a good idea at the time you thought it up, and would get great laughs from the adults, it usually resulted in unmerciful teasing from your buddies. Unless you were an extremely macho kid, you didn't try to pull that one off. Of course, drag probably isn't an option now. It would be seen as transvestite-bashing or cross-gender-bashing or something that somebody somewhere might take offense to, God help you. You don't want the ACLU on your kid's ass.

There are much better choices for store-bought costumes than there used to be, of course. If I was a kid and I had the chance to really look like The Thing for a night, I'd probably jump at it. And it's extremely un-PC to dress like a homeless person, so not too many tramps make the rounds now.

Next, any one of my friends would have been mortified to have a parent making the rounds with him. Part of the deal about Halloween - not said, but implied in our pre-adolescent minds - was that if you were able to walk to school by yourself, you were old enough to go out trick-or-treating by yourself. It was a rite of passage, at least in my neighborhood. How many kids go out on their own now? Any?

Yeah, I know. It's a different world out there. There are child rapists and kidnappers lurking behind every bush. Hell, the people you would have most readily and unhesitatingly trusted to keep your kids safe in those days (priests, teachers) are the ones making headlines for lewd behavior now. Sheesh.

We went as late as possible and stayed out as late as possible. Now, even with parents accompanying most of the kids, it begins earlier and ends earlier. Part of the thrill, for us, was being out on the streets after a certain hour, with the implied permission to do so. That was slightly scary in and of itself.

We went as far as six or seven blocks away - as far as our own inner sense of security would let us go - whereas during a regular day of the year we never strayed more than three blocks from home. This is because kids have a sense of territory, just like dogs or cats, and you didn't venture too far beyond your own neighborhood because you knew that you might be invading someone else's turf. If you did, and you got beat up, you knew you had no real right to complain. But, on Halloween, if the disguises were good enough, you went further. Who knew who was under that mask? That was part of the daringness and fun of the night. Now, even with parents (maybe especially with parents) you only go to places you know.

In my day (in the before-time!) we'd gather as much booty as we could. And some of it might be unwrapped, or homemade, or otherwise not absolutely secure and safe. We always heard the stories about razor blades in apples, so if we got an apple we cut it up before we ate it. Other than that, we didn't give a damn. If it was candy, it went in our mouths. Now, unless it's a recognized brand-name securely-hyper-wrapped candy bar, it probably goes in the trash when the bag is emptied at home.

Need I go into the fact that we got full-size candy bars, while now people give out barely bite-sized treats? No, I didn't think so.

Some parents won't even let their kids go trick-or-treating. So, maybe they send the kid to a party. Or maybe not. I can't really imagine today's parents letting kids do the things they used to let us do at parties. Bobbing for apples? Why, little Johnny might get some water up his nose! That's a lawsuit, for sure. It might affect his psyche and take years of analysis to overcome. Nevermind the possibility of damaging his teeth on a hard apple, or maybe catching pneumonia from that wet hair. And you're going to tell the kids ghost stories? No, we can't have that. You might traumatize them.

Man; I know, I know. "You're not a parent, so don't suppose that you know what's best for my kid!" You're absolutely right. That's why I'm not a parent. I'd be a crummy one. At least I've had sense enough to realize that. There are armies of folks out there who haven't a clue.

OK, enough. With that short sidetrip into general-societal-rant territory, I'll stop. I told you what was coming, but you didn't listen, did you?

Old poop out.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

A Halloween Story

This story was originally written 12 years ago. Therefore, it is not only a good tale, but also an historical document. Many of the references are now downright archaic, not unlike the author. I think you'll find it enjoyable, anyway.


I'm going to go out trick-or-treating with my nieces and nephews. Problem is, what do I dress up as? Or maybe I shouldn't dress up at all? It's very confusing.

MY WIFE is dressing up as Howard Stern. When she rats out her hair, she actually looks like him to a certain extent, except she's a foot-and-a-half shorter and has boobs, not to mention a more pleasant personality. She suggests that we go as sort of an odd couple and that I dress up as Rush Limbaugh. Trouble is, I don't look anything at all like Rush Limbaugh, so I'd have to do too much explaining about my costume.

If there's anything more annoying on Halloween, than explaining to people what you're supposed to be, then you'll have to tell me what it is because I sure can't think of it. You spend all day fixing up a costume - gathering the odds and ends necessary to make it convincing, and working on your character in front of a mirror, practicing an accent or a funny walk - and you steel yourself for the inevitable staring and fingerpointing from strangers. Then, when you arrive at the party (or whatever it is that you're going to) the first thing out of someone's mouth isn't "Hello!"; it's "What are you supposed to be?", and then you have to explain that you're Rush Limbaugh. This gets one of two responses. Either, "Oh, yeah! Right...", which is totally bogus because you know that this person will stare at you all night as though you were some kind of a nut, and will not so surreptitiously point you out to people as the idiot who thinks he looks like Rush Limbaugh, or "Oh, of course! How could I be so stupid!", which is far worse because now every time that this well-meaning person introduces you to someone else, he or she will feel a need to explain your costume to the person you're now meeting, like, "Bob, this is Jim. He's dressed up as Rush Limbaugh. Isn't it an excellent costume?", to which Bob says, "Oh, yeah! Right..."

The only thing more degrading is to be dressed up in an unrecognizable costume when you're with kids. As a rule, kids will not cut you any slack. They'll tell you right off the bat that you don't look like what you're supposed to be. Or, if you're dressed up as Rush Limbaugh, they probably won't even know what you're supposed to be in the first place. And, even after you tell them, they still won't have any idea what you're talking about. So then you're stuck explaining the concept of Rush Limbaugh - which is no easy task when talking to adults, let alone a six-year old.

Well, in any case, I'm still wrestling with the dilemma of whether to even wear a costume at all. I mean, we're just going to escort the kids around the neighborhood and I probably won't get any candy anyway, so why bother? However, MY WIFE has worked really hard on her Howard Stern outfit, so I can't just leave her in the lurch. She's even gone so far as to make a mocked-up cover of Stern's book, Private Parts, and pasted it onto a copy of the Book Of Mormon which we had lying around (don't ask - that's another story) so now, as a good husband, it's my duty to come up with something at least marginally convincing.

I start looking around the house for something I can convert into a costume. I know, and you know, that I could settle for going to the store and buying a mask, or one of those make-up kits they sell around this time of year that you put on and never quite look like the person on the packaging (you always look more like Eddie Munster on a three-day bender than Dracula) but I can't do that. Too easy. To satisfy my ego, I need something at least a bit more original than that. So, I start thinking. This invariably gets me into trouble, but I do it anyway.

Let's see. I have some old golf clubs in the basement, so I could wear a sweater and some loud pants and go as a golfer. Nah. Who wants to carry around a load of golf clubs all night? Besides, it's not original enough. For the same reason (non-originality) I dismiss dressing up as a clown, although I do have the wardrobe for it. I toy with the idea of going as The Ultimate Politically Incorrect White Guy. I'll wear blackface, fix up my eyes to look slanty, put on a feathered headdress, and sashay around and lisp. I nix that idea, however, because (somewhat ironically) it would present pretty much the same set of problems as if I chose to dress as Rush Limbaugh.

(The kids, of course, would love it. They'd think it was the funniest thing they'd seen since the last time one of their friends spit up milk through his nose. Kids don't care about politically correct, as long as it's funny. And, neither does my father-in-law. However, I digress.)

Now, I've been growing my hair long for the past year. I wear it in a ponytail in back. [Note from the future: I did say I wrote this 12 years ago, right?] So I start thinking about what sort of costume can be constructed around this already-existing prop? And it hits me! Who wore ponytails? The founding fathers of our country, of course. And who better to accompany Howard Stern than Thomas Jefferson? Free speech, and all that.

I find that it's relatively easy to put together a Thomas Jefferson costume. You just wear white knee socks outside of your pants so that they look like knickers. In strategic places, you attach a bit of lace to a white shirt. You throw on a pair of loafers and there you go. Instant Jefferson! I do up my ponytail in a ribbon, after plastering my hair down with about a gallon of hair spray, and we're on our way.

The first problem encountered by any adult who has dressed up for Halloween is this: "How do I get from the house to my car without the neighbors seeing me?" This doesn't bother MY WIFE at all, because she doesn't care what the neighbors think. It normally wouldn't bother me, either, except I'm not sure our neighbors would know the real Thomas Jefferson if he walked down our street, so I don't want them to think I've just suddenly gone fey, what with the knickers and ruffed shirt and the bow in my hair. So, I try to get to our car as quickly and with as little fanfare as possible. MY WIFE, of course, thinks this is ridiculous. With a little bit of the real Howard Stern creeping into her personality, she yells, "Look everybody! It's Jim Sullivan in a costume! Look! Look!" Thoroughly embarrassed (she loves to see me blush, which I do readily) I start the car and then we're finally on the road, where nobody can get a really good look at me, thank you.

Except: We need gas.

MY WIFE, reverting to her usual self (that is, thoughtful and nice) offers to go into the store and buy the gas herself (it's one of those pay-before-you-pump self-serve places), but she doesn't know how to operate the pump, so I'm going to have to do that myself. Swell. I decide that I can rearrange part of my costume to be not overly-conspicuous. I put on a hat and a jacket. That takes care of most of the top of me, but the bottom half is much tougher. I roll down the knee-socks, untuck my pants legs, and now I don't look too bad, except that with the kind of jacket I'm wearing and the white socks with black shoes, I now look like Cliff Claven. While pumping the gas, I try to decide which is more humiliating - looking like a postal nerd, or looking like I just came running full-tilt out of the closet. I decide that I've had more experience in my life looking like a nerd than a refugee from an Adam Ant album, so pumping the gas doesn't offer me any sort of humiliation that I haven't handled up until now, so it's OK.

The gas is pumped. I get in the car and re-arrange myself back into a reasonable facsimile of a 1700's plantation owner (which, I just realize, may be even more politically incorrect than a blackfaced, slanty-eyed, lisping Native American) and we're back on the road to Duxbury.


The rest of the trip down to my in-laws is uneventful.

As we're pulling into the driveway, we're immediately greeted by our nieces; a four-year old named Alyssa and a six-year old named Caitlyn. Being an aunt and uncle without children of our own, and therefore allowed to act like children ourselves (at least part of the time) we are, of course, beloved. They have been awaiting our arrival for some time now and they no sooner saw our car than they were running to meet it.

Their Aunt, MY WIFE, dressed as Howard Stern doesn't seem to faze them. I am another story, however. Alyssa just sort of stares at me, with her big smile frozen in place. She knows that this is a joke of some sort, and she's not quite sure what, but she's willing to wait for the punch line. Caitlyn, on the other hand, being much more worldly (she is six, after all) recognizes the joke immediately. She knows that Uncle Jimmy is dressed for Halloween. She doesn't know what he's dressed as, but it is funny, so she rolls her eyes (an expression she utilizes so often it has come to be known among the family as "Caitlyn eyes") and laughs.

I tell them that I'm Thomas Jefferson. This brings two puzzled expressions. I ask them if they know who Thomas Jefferson is. Caitlyn kind of nods her head, while Alyssa, bless her little heart, says that I look like a president. Thus fortified with confidence in my disguise, I proceed with MY WIFE and the girls to the house.

On the way, we're informed of the fact that Caitlyn is going to be a witch and Alyssa a devil. I ask them if they know who MY WIFE is supposed to be. "A Chinese lady?", asks Alyssa, since as part of her Howard Stern outfit, MY WIFE has chosen to wear a long, flowing robe with embroidery, a bit similar to the robe that Stern wears (somewhat) on the cover of his book. I find it gratifying to know that I look more like a president, to a four-year old, than MY WIFE looks like a geeky shock-jock. Actually, I find it not so much gratifying that I look like a president as I do that MY WIFE looks more like a woman than she does Howard Stern, no matter how much work she put into her costume.

As we enter the house, and exchange pleasantries with various relatives, I find out something curious concerning the American psyche. Each person I greet sees me as a different character from the revolution. I am variously mistaken for Benjamin Franklin, Nathan Hale, George Washington, and Samuel Adams. I guess everybody has his or her favorite. Mine just happens to be Jefferson.

When MY WIFE announces that she's Howard Stern, there's general acceptance all around, and everybody immediately gets the connection between the two of us (the free speech bit) and nobody (as of yet, anyway) says the dreaded, "Oh, yeah! Right...", which is why I like my in-laws so much. A little bit of lunacy will not make you an outcast in their household. As a matter of fact, it may help to endear you to them.

Now we're awaiting the imminent arrival of MY WIFE's eldest sister, Luann; her husband, Charlie; and their two sons (our nephews) Michael and Joey. Michael is almost 11, and just starting to enter that phase in life where he must act cool, so sometimes he acts a bit snotty these days. He's generally a real nice kid, though, and if you find some common ground (Beavis & Butthead, baseball cards) he'll still treat you like an equal. This year, he's wearing a costume of his own devising which will give the illusion of carrying his own head in his hands. His Uncle John (MY WIFE's kid brother, and an inventive sort, himself) has helped him with this rig which, as it turns out, is really quite convincing. Joey, my Godson, is about two, and although he doesn't know it yet, he will be going as a ghost. This will be accomplished by draping a sheet of some sort over his head, while his mom and dad wheel him from house to house in a stroller - kind of like Casper on wheels.

We hear their car pull up, so MY WIFE and I decide to meet them at the door, seeing as we're the only ones in costume thus far (and the only adults who will be, for that matter.) Michael, being in the stage of life he is, just gives me the "Caitlyn eyes" as he walks by. Luann, ever-polite (but not so strong on her American history) says, "Oh, it's a... doorman?" When I inform her that I'm Thomas Jefferson, Charlie - who had been following close behind - says, "Jim, how long have you had these delusions?" Joey just smiles. When MY WIFE announces that she's Howard Stern, Michael says, "Oh, yeah! Right... NOT!!!", which is about what we expected from him.

After a nice dinner, and while the kids are getting into their costumes, talk about Thomas Jefferson, Howard Stern, and freedom of speech leads my father-in-law into a joke.

(You've got to understand - just about anything leads my father-in-law into a joke. He's got an ample supply and, notwithstanding the jeers and sour faces he sometimes receives from his immediate family, I think they're usually pretty good. Then again, I'm a relatively new relative. Maybe after hearing them for thirty or forty years, I'll have a different opinion.)

Anyway, it's a fairly new joke for him. He asks, "Why won't they be celebrating Halloween and Thanksgiving in Arkansas this year?" When no one replies, he answers, "Because the witch left town and took the turkey with her!" This is fairly clever, so I get a chuckle. Most of the rest of the family (probably staunch democrats) just groan.

(Being the only Libertarian in the room - as is usually the case - I'm free to laugh at Democrats, Republicans, Prohibitionists, Anabaptists, and all manner of fringe lunatics, equally and indiscriminately. If it had been a joke about there not being any Channukah in Washington this year, since they sent the Bush back to Texas, I would have laughed at that, too - though not as hard, since it's nowhere near as good a joke. However, I digress, again.)

By this time, the kids are all in costume, and Michael's really is interesting to look at. He does look like someone with his head cut off carrying it in his own hands. When someone asks him how he'll collect candy, since he doesn't have the use of his arms to hold a bag, he explains that the top part of the costume is empty and he'll ask people to stuff candy down into his headless throat.

Caitlyn, ever the glamour-puss, is continually fussing with her witch's hat, trying to get it just so. Alyssa is waving her spear-shaped tail and shouting, "I'm the Queen of the Devils!" Only Joey isn't happy. For one thing, he hates having stuff on his head. If you try to put a hat on him, he'll throw it off in an instant. So he's not too thrilled with having a sheet over his head. It's also a cold and rainy sort of night, so the poor little guy has the shivers. It looks like it'll be a short night for Casper the rolling ghost.

I have a cup of coffee that I want to take with me, so I ask my father-in-law if I can borrow one of his beer steins. It just wouldn't be right for Thomas Jefferson to walk around with a Dunkin' Donuts mug. The best one he can come up with for me to stay in character is a plain clay mug, with something to the effect of "Munich - Octoberfest" on one side of it. He says that, as long as I keep that side turned towards me, it should work. John, fairly apolitical, says, "Beer Putsch; Revolution; it's all the same..."

As we make our rounds, I find out about the power of advertising. With the addition of the stein, everyone immediately takes me to be Samuel Adams. I correct the first person who thinks so, but then I decide that I might as well let it go. I mean, if what you're doing is a success, why argue that it's not?

Nobody (at least out loud) ventures a guess as to who or what MY WIFE might be. Everybody thinks that Michael's costume is inventive, but they're all a little nonplussed at having to stick their hands down his throat to give him his treats. Caitlyn's worst moment is when we all arrive at the house of a boy in her school who allegedly likes her. When this boy answers the door, Caitlyn kind of slinks into the background, but Michael being Michael says, "She likes you!" The resultant "Caitlyn eyes" can be seen even in the dark. Alyssa, the Queen of the Devils, is as she usually is - happy and oblivious. The addition of getting a bunch of free candy just makes her more so. Unfortunately, Joey/Casper is an early dropout, taken home by his father after only two or three stops.

I didn't get any candy. I did have a tube of toothpaste, which the town dentist had handed out along with his candy treats and which one of the kids had dropped, but that's hardly the same thing. When we got back to the house, though, Caitlyn gave me a Chunky, while the Queen of the Devils gave Howard Stern a Kit-Kat. Kids tend to guard their Halloween booty very jealously, so this was sweet of them. No doubt Michael would have given us something, too, but he couldn't reach up into his own neck to get anything for us (he couldn't take his costume off yet, as he still had another round of trick-or-treating to go, around his other grandmother's neighborhood.) Just seeing Joey so damned happy to get the sheet off of his head was treat enough from him.

Sometimes, as adults, we tend to forget how important Halloween is to kids. Sure, there are some of us, like MY WIFE and myself, who dress up in costume and join in, accompanying kids door-to-door, and there are others who attend parties and such, but none of us are celebrating the same thing that the kids are. Basically, it's an impossibility. They're celebrating being kids, although not consciously, of course. And consciously or unconsciously, we can't get there, really, although sometimes we can get close on a night like this.

Ah, well. You'll excuse me now, please. I'm going to kiss Howard Stern and I'd like some privacy.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

100 Things - The Finale

About time, too.

Tomorrow (or the next day) I'll have a dandy little Halloween reminiscence for you. Now, though, let's finish up this exploration in ego.

76 - I once sprayed shaving cream on the back of a man's suit jacket while he was wearing it. The poor sonovabitch - I don't know when he found out about it, but I hope he wasn't going to a job interview or something.

Y'see, I was about 9 years old. My father had sent me to the store to get him some shaving cream. While I was standing in the check-out line, behind the man in the suit jacket, I was just daydreaming and I inadvertently pressed down on the nozzle. A huge spray of shaving cream shot out of the can, directly onto the back of his nice blue suit.

I was absolutely mortified! I didn't know what to do. I knew I should probably tell him, but I didn't know him, so maybe he'd hit me or something. I took a couple of steps backward, hoping nobody else had seen what I did. It appeared that nobody had, so I turned and went back to the shaving cream aisle, where I replaced the canister. I then tried to walk very calmly out the door, while checking to see if he was looking for whoever did it. He was still standing in line, totally unaware that there was this huge blob of foamy soap on his back.

I've said more than one prayer for him over the years, in hopes of making up whatever catastrophe my accident might have caused him. Did the cashier tell him? Did he find out when he sat down in his car, hearing a squishy sound when he leaned back? Was the suit ruined? I assume so. What if he had just been released from jail that day, and that was the suit they gave him to start his new life? Did he go berserk and end up back in the can? More than likely, he just spent the rest of his days wondering what the hell happened. Well, if by some odd chance you're reading this, I'm what happened. Sorry!

I went to another store and got the shaving cream for my dad. And nobody was any the wiser, until now.

77 - I took logic as an elective in high school. You wouldn't know it from the crap I put out here.

78 - My favorite candy bar is the Zero bar. I don't think they make it anymore, as I never see it anywhere. If it is gone forever, I'll take a Sky Bar, thanks.

79 - I've had a broken thumb on my left hand (from a swipe tag at first base where the runner bent back my glove), a broken index finger on my right hand (from a grounder I was too anxious to get out of the pocket of my glove, so it never actually reached the pocket of my glove, but hit my finger straight on), and had arthroscopy performed on my right knee (for torn cartilage, which was probably the result of many stresses, but happened during batting practice before the first game of one season many moons ago.) Other than that, I've been amazingly injury-free in over 40 years of playing baseball and softball. Not bad.

80 - If I had to pick a favorite vegetable (which so far I have not had to do) it would probably be green beans.

81 - My favorite band is Deep Purple. Every one of those guys can actually play. They are the one heavy metal band I would unhesitatingly put up as evidence that there are some excellent musicians who prefer to play metal.

82 - I have had one "blackout" experience in my life; a time period about which I cannot for the life of me recall what I did. Interestingly, it had no connection to drugs or drinking. All of those experiences are perfectly clear to me. No, it happened when I was playing basketball.

I was working for Prudential Insurance at the time. They had a company team, so I decided to try out for it. The tryouts were at a gym in East Boston near Maverick Square. I changed into my gear in the locker room and went out on the floor to warm up. Two teams were made up for a scrimmage. I remember being on the court and the other scrimmage team coming toward us with the ball. The coach called out a zone defense.

The next thing I remember, some two hours later, is sitting on a bench in the locker room, sweaty and toweling off. It dawned on me that I had no idea how I got there. I didn't have a bump on my head or anything else to indicate that I had been knocked unconscious. There didn't seem to be anyone concerned about my health; everyone was just going about the usual business of a locker room. Nobody was giving me the stinkeye or otherwise showing me any sign that anything had been out of the ordinary. I dressed in a haze and left. A couple of guys said goodbye to me as though I was perfectly normal.

I have no idea what I did on the court that night. I must not have played very well, because the coach was supposed to call those he was inviting back and he never called me. I never asked anyone who was there what had happened, because they didn't work in the same building as I did and I was sort of embarrassed to explain to anyone that I had no idea what happened that night.

Did I try to take a bite out of the ball, hold it aloft like a severed head and scream obscenities at everyone? Maybe I stripped naked, climbed up onto the backboard and imitated King Kong? Who knows? However, I was never arrested, and nobody took a swing at me in the locker room, so I guess I didn't do anything too horrible.

Just a total blackout. Why? I have no idea. It remains a mystery to me.

83 - My favorite dessert is either an Eclair or a piece of Boston Cream Pie. Make that two Eclairs or a really big piece of Boston Cream Pie.

84 - I may or may not have a third nipple. I have this birthmark on my chest, see? And I think it's just a birthmark. It's about four inches below my right nipple. MY WIFE says it's a vestigial third nipple. I say it's a birthmark.

(84a - Did I mention how hard it is to come up with 100 interesting things?)

85 - I'm not a good poker player. This is because I blush very easily. I know the odds inside out, so if I could wear a full mask while playing, I'd be pretty damned good. I know when to bluff, but everybody else knows when I am. So far as I know, though, there aren't any games where folks wearing masks are especially welcomed, so I won't be playing in the World Series Of Poker any time soon.

86 - I don't use shaving cream when I shave. Haven't for at least 20 years. Just hot water and a razor. No, it isn't because I'm emotionally scarred from the shaving cream incident I mentioned earlier. It's just that the soap irritates my skin more than the way I do it. So, no soap for me.

87 - I have been told that I look like Chris Elliot. MY WIFE disagrees, but I saw him on a talk show the other day and I think I do bear at least a slight resemblance to him, in profile.

88 - My biggest phobia is heights. More specifically, I guess it would be open heights - bridges, rooftops, fire escapes - that sort of thing. I'm fine in airplanes. Once I'm actually on a high floor of a tall building, it doesn't bother me much. Going up in the elevator, though - that weirds me out.

89 - I like my coffee with cream and 1/2 a sugar.

90 - I'm a "morning" person. As a matter of fact, it's 6:42 AM as I write this.

91 - I was born in Quincy Hospital, located in (naturally enough) Quincy, Massachusetts.

92 - The first rock concert I ever saw was Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young. My Uncle Jim, who had some really good connections, got me and my friends second row seats. The opening act was Livingston Taylor. In those days, it wasn't all that unusual to smoke pot openly at concerts. As a matter of fact, it was expected. So the highlight of the show for us was when we were passing a pipe around, with a couple of Boston Police doing security in front of the stage, and David Crosby looked down at us, saw what we were doing, and gave us a "thumbs up" sign. We lived on that for weeks.

93 - I always print. I know how to write cursive, but my writing has always been bad. My printing, however, is excellent.

94 - The first time I ever came up the ramp at Fenway Park and saw the field, at age 7, I thought it was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. I still get a little thrill every time I go there and see the field for the first time.

95 - I use nose spray daily. It says on the label not to use it more than three days in a row. I'm about 5,000 days over that limit.

96 - I've never met a subway I didn't like. I prefer older ones, as they have more character. My favorite is The Underground in London. If I had to choose my least favorite, I suppose it would be The Metro in Washington, DC. It's tremendously efficient, but every station looks identical.

97 - I was probably the youngest professional blackjack dealer ever. I started at the age of 14. Around that time, my dad was a craps dealer/stickman for a local outfit that ran Monte Carlo/Las Vegas nights. These were mostly events run for charity, but the money was real and the action pretty heavy at times. Anyway, one night they came up short a dealer. My dad knew I could handle a deck of cards fairly well and he knew that I knew the way a BJ table operated (the odds, payoffs, etiquette, etc.) so he recommended me to the operator. I did the job well and continued doing it until I was in my early 20's.

It came to an end for both of us when, one night while we were working separate functions, he was arrested. His gig that night wasn't one of the charity deals, which were strictly legal. There was the occasional straight up gambling gig, where we would hire out to go to sea and just be a floating casino for the night, with an invited crowd. That's where he was working that night. Meanwhile, I was working a function for a charitable organization in New Hampshire.

I got home and he wasn't there, which was unusual since his job ended earlier than mine and I had been out of state. I knew that sometimes the crew went for a late dinner, though, so I wasn't tremendously worried. I went to bed.

In the morning, he was home and he told me what had happened. They had been boarded by The Coast Guard, who had been tipped off about some ship in Boston Harbor. As it later turned out, it seems that they boarded the wrong ship. There was a much higher profile operation out that night that they had meant to get. Anyway, the story was in the papers, though there were no photos good enough to give anyone's identity away. Thank God for that, because this was strictly a second job for most of them. Like my dad, they mostly had regular legal jobs. If their employers had found out, it would probably have meant firings. In the end, everyone got off with warnings and a sealed record, after pleading guilty and paying court costs.

My dad weighed the advantages and disadvantages of taking another chance and we both decided to stop dealing. Decent money for no heavy lifting while it lasted, though.

98 - Aside from my own output of songs (I've written maybe 75 or 80 of them) MY WIFE and I have collaborated on a few "specialty" tunes. These were mostly written to celebrate holidays (Everybody Mardi Gras! and Yahahahooey, It's Christmas! are two examples) but our all-time favorite is probably The Antarctican National Anthem, which follows. Since this is written, you won't have the music to listen to. However, it is similar to For Boston, the Boston College fight song, so if you know that, you can hum along.

Antarctica, Antarctica!
We sing of thee!
Our Native dish is penguin fricasee!
Antarctica, Antarctica!
Land of snow and ice!
Antarctica, Antarctica!
It sure is nice!

99 - In high school, I flunked Spanish three times, Latin twice, and French once. I am a language specialist. I speak English exclusively.

100 - I'm glad this is finished. So are you, in all likelihood.

Thanks for indulging me. This was an interesting exercise. I found myself considering all sorts of trivial facts about myself for inclusion here, and it forced me to dig deep into my own psyche at points. I may have actually learned something, though I wouldn't put any money on it if I were you.

See you soon with more semi-interesting stuff!

Monday, October 24, 2005

100 Things - Part Three

And now, the continuing saga of me.

51 - I was born on a Saturday. According to the poem, "... Saturday's child works hard for a living..." More so lately than before, but that's probably because I've been wasting so much time writing this shit.

52 - I once pitched a no-hitter. I was 12. It was a game of doubles, a variation of baseball played when you only have enough for 5 or 6 players to a side. You have to get at least a double, and you can't hit to the opposite field. Second base becomes first base; a force-out, no tag needed. By the end of the game, as my guys realized what was happening, they made a couple of intentional errors on plays that would have been close, just to save it for me. Still, it was a no-hitter, and it was my no-hitter, so I'm as proud as you can be about something that raggy.

53 - I have a 44" chest. However, I wear an A cup, so it's not as impressive as you might think at first.

54 - Technically, I'm a professional bowler. I entered and won a couple of minor local tournaments when I was younger. Won a couple of hundred dollars. Couldn't win one now to save my life. I never knew what I was doing to be so good; I was just a natural. One day, I lost it. Since I had no idea what I was doing in the first place, everything I tried to get it back didn't work.

55 - My favorite meal of the whole year is Christmas dinner at my Grandmother's.

56 - Among the weird things I like to eat? Turnip sandwiches, cold macaroni and cheese, and tapioca with pretzels. But not all at once.

57 - My favorite piece of classical music is Prokofiev's 2nd Symphony.

58 - Aside from the bass guitar, I'm proficient on drums, keyboards, and 6-string.

59 - I once had second-degree burns over 90% of my body. It's not as bad as it might sound. It was an extremely bad sunburn. I was severely uncomfortable for a week or so. Everything that touched me hurt. I've never had a serious sunburn since then. I've never worn shorts since then, and I always slather my face and arms with sunblock when I play ball.

60 - I'm an only child. Yes, that explains it.

61 - I've never seen Gone With The Wind or an entire James Bond movie.

62 - I have, however, seen every Marx Brothers film. I'll take it, thanks.

63 - My favorite non-domesticated animal is the bobcat. MY WIFE was nice enough to "buy" me a couple of them one time. For my birthday, she bought a sponsorship of the bobcats at a wildlife sanctuary in New Hampshire, in my name.

64 - My IQ is either 132 or 136. I forget which, so let's say 79.

65 - I take very long, very hot showers. If both MY WIFE and I wish to shower, I have to let her go first. Otherwise, I'm liable to use all of the hot water.

66 - I have green eyes.

67 - My mom threw away my baseball cards. But it's OK. She has heard about it from me for far too long now. All is forgiven, Mom! I love you more than a box of baseball cards.

68 - My shoe size is 10 1/2 D.

69 - It is taking all of my willpower not to make a sophomoric sex joke here.

70 - I'm a hideous golfer. My best round ever was a 98.

71 - My favorite air freshener scent is lavender.

72 - I prefer pullover sweaters, as opposed to button down or zippered.

73 - I ran cross country in high school. Now I get winded running across the street.

74 - I think the theory of relativity is basically a load of crap. Actually, I don't believe in time, per se. It is a useful human invention to chart the course of our lives, but it doesn't actually exist. We are here, now, and that's all there is. The past is gone and the future hasn't happened yet. There is no possibility of time travel. If I find out otherwise, I'll let you know.

75 - I hate mushrooms. I try not to eat fungus if I can help it.

I'm finding it's a lot harder to come up with 100 semi-interesting things about myself than I would have thought. See you tomorrow when we scrape the bottom of the barrel.

Go to The End

100 Things - Part Two

I know you've been patiently waiting, and I thank you for your indulgence. Here you go - another 25 things about my favorite subject. As I said in the first installment, I'll probably be expanding upon all of these for future entries, so consider yourself warned.

26 - My Mom introduced me to MY WIFE. She was friends with my mother before we knew each other. They both sang at the same church. Meanwhile, I was destroying myself with drugs, hideous relationships doomed from the start, and other assorted wastes of time. So, in the time-honored tradition of bad sitcom plots, my mom fixed me up with a date. It worked.

27 - I ran for state representative in 1992. As a Libertarian, which probably tells you the outcome right there.

28 - I had an imaginary baseball team. Once, when I was sick as a child, my friends did one of the nicest things ever done for me. They brought me a shoebox filled with baseball cards. I think they fished it out of somebody's trash, but that was OK. It provided me with countless hours of entertainment. I chose 25 players whose names or looks or something I liked, and named them the Green Sox. I made up, entirely on my own, a dice game that approximated baseball. My team was a great success. The Green Sox won five World Series one summer...

29 - My favorite current TV show is "House". Close seconds are "Malcolm In The Middle", "My Name Is Earl", "The Office", and "Everybody Hates Chris".

30 - I tried out for Jeopardy once. Didn't make it, but I probably could have. I blew an easy question on the test. Friggin' Albany.

31 - I did appear on an extremely short-lived quiz show called Think Twice. It was a PBS production. Blew it on the last question, and received second prize. Friggin' Kitty Wells.

32 - I have implants. No, not boobies; teeth. My uppers are just about all plastic and metal.

33 - I never attended college. I was going to be a rock and roll star. Whuffo I need that shit? I later went to a broadcasting school that, after I graduated, earned certification as a real college.

34 - I once drove an ice cream truck for a living. Well, not for a living; it wasn't profitable enough for that. Let's say I did it as a pastime, although I thought it was going to be a living at the time. The most money I ever earned was when one day I showed a bunch of sailors on leave in Boston where they could pick up some grass and I got a finders fee.

35 - Another successful foray into the workaday world was my stint as a carnival barker. In this instance, I worked for my dad. He built a "Walking Charlie", which was a game involving pitching baseballs at dummies. No, I wasn't one of the dummies.

36 - My least favorite song in the entire world is The Theme From The Bodyguard. I-E-I-E-I-Will Always Love Yoooooouuuuuu. You may as well drive rusty nails into my spine. Ugh.

37 - My favorite Stephen King book is IT. The television rendering was pale and weak.

38 - I've read Tom Sawyer 33 times. I read it every summer, and have done so since I was 16.

39 - There are three different versions of The Bible in our house. NIV Study, King James, and New American Standard (Catholic).

40 - I was on both Bozo and Boomtown. If you're from Boston and around my age, you know what I'm talking about.

41 - I am a former state chair of the Libertarian Party in Massachusetts.

42 - I've been in seven bands. They were World's End, Live Wire, P. S. Wild, Squiddly Diddly, City Limits, Soldier, and Assault & Battery. I would include another one called Complicated Tornado, but it wasn't so much a band as it was a state of mind. I think for my 15 years or so I cleared about $46.

43 - I am a Godfather. Joseph is my Godson. I still don't quite believe it when I say that. I mean, I'm a nice guy and if anything were to happen necessitating my taking over Joseph's upbringing, I like to think I'd be a good Godparent, but if I looked at my track record, I wouldn't think to make me one.

44 - I've literally been around the world. My dad worked for various airlines for a goodly portion of his life, so I benefited via cheap travel. On one trip to Asia, the itinerary literally took us around the world.

45 - I've had 8 cats.

46 - My favorite comic strip of all time is Calvin & Hobbes.

47 - My favorite color is green.

48 - My lucky number is 29.

49 - I never wear a watch. Neither does MY WIFE. We are never late. We have a watch, but we only use it once or twice a year, as a fashion accessory.

50 - I don't carry a wallet. Nor do I carry a man-purse. My entire life is in my front pocket.

We are now halfway through this exercise in megalomania. See you tomorrow!

Go to Part Three

Thursday, October 20, 2005

100 Things About Me - Part One

I never really read any blogs until I started writing this one. Now, having seen a few of them, I realize that one of the things that many bloggers write is the "100 Things About Me" column. I don't know; it seems a bit egotistical. I'm sort of uncomfortable with that.

Yeah, right.

I'm not sure how anybody else does it, but I'm just going to start typing stuff and keep going until I get to number 100. I'll warn you right now - each of these items will probably end up being a full-fledged blog entry someday. As a matter of fact, I'll probably just go down the list and expand upon them for the next 100 or so days, so if you want to know what's coming up, just keep this entry handy. Here goes:

1 - I smoke. Kools, mostly. I started 34 years ago. I'd like to quit, but mainly because I expect that sooner or later my smoking will cause a whole bunch of heartache for the people who love me. I feel bad about that probability. However, if I end up with a hideous disease, I won't complain. Whatever happens will have been nobody's fault but mine.

2 - I play the bass guitar. I'm a very good bass guitar player, but not a very good musician in the classical sense. I play well, but I can only barely read music and I don't have perfect pitch. As long as my bass is in tune, I'm dynamite. I'm liable to go slightly out of tune, though, and not notice it as quickly as I should. Since I am mostly self-taught, I don't play "correctly". For instance, while most bass players use their fingers to pluck the strings using an upward motion, I use my thumb in alternating down and up strokes. Whereas some players use a pick, when I need to strum I just use my fingernail. I have damned good chops, but I play all wrong.

3 - I know more about gambling, and the odds associated with it, than 99% of the people in the world. I can count cards proficiently enough to be a favorite over the house at most blackjack tables. However, I'm a compulsive gambler. Therefore, although I know how to win, I rarely do. If I could teach what I know to someone with control, that person would probably be able to make significant money. The last time I gambled, I lost way more money than I should have. Stupidest damned thing I've done in, well, at least the past twenty years. I'm still in financial difficulty because of it and so ashamed of it that I had a hard time mentioning it here.

4 - I love playing softball. I've gone on about this at length previously, so I won't do it again now.

5 - I love The Three Stooges. All six of them. If I were forced to choose one as my favorite, I think it would be Larry Fine.

6 - I'm married. I love MY WIFE. She is perfect for me. She asks little and appreciates much. I like to think I do the same.

7 - Despite the order of this, I love MY WIFE more than The Three Stooges, softball, gambling, music, and smoking. If it came down to her life, I would give up all of them.

(7a - I hope it doesn't come down to her life, because I've tried to quit smoking before and have never been able to go more than two days.)

8 - Baseball is my favorite sport to watch. I played it incessantly when I was younger. Fast-Pitch Softball became my substitute for it as I aged.

9 - Heavy Metal is my favorite musical form. I know that many of the practitioners of this form are cretins. When compared to classically-trained musicians, some are barely musicians at all. However, the form excites me more than any other, so I'm willing to sift through the crap in order to find the occasional diamond.

10 - I'm about 15 pounds heavier than I'd like to be.

11 - I used to do a lot of drugs, but I don't now. This was my business, not anybody else's. I'm not ashamed of having done them. I am ashamed of how I treated a couple of people while I was doing them.

12 - I'm 5'10", but I've told people that I'm 5'11" for years now. Why? Just a guy thing. I think most guys who are under 6' tall will lie about their height, given the chance. As a matter of fact, I'm probably closer to 5'9", so I lied to begin this paragraph.

13 - I'm 48 years old, but inside of my head I still see myself as 18 or 19. The longer I stay away from a mirror, the longer this image remains.

14 - I drink milk with almost every meal. This goes back to my childhood, when milk was considered much healthier than it is now. My father was the son of a milkman and he often accompanied him on his route, helping him in making deliveries. He drank whole milk his entire life. So did I, until I made the switch to 1% about 12 years ago. Now whole milk tastes almost like cream to me.

15 - My favorite snack is peanut butter and crackers with a glass of chocolate milk. I can eat a whole sleeve of saltines with peanut butter in one sitting.

16 - #'s 14 & 15 are probably why #10 is true.

17 - I drink about 5 or 6 cups of coffee a day.

18 - I always wear sneakers - unless I'm wearing a suit, which I do voluntarily perhaps twice a year and involuntarily whenever someone dies. The sneakers I wear are inexpensive and made of cloth - boat shoes, really. I own one pair of black shoes to wear with suits.

19 - I own three suits. This means that each one gets worn about once a year. If I remain about the same weight, and styles don't change too radically, I expect to never have to buy another suit in my life.

20 - I'm a Libertarian. I believe that everybody has the right to do whatever they damn well please, as long as their actions hurt nobody else. I believe the only useful and right functions of government are military defense, adjudication of grievances, and making certain that nobody interferes with another person's right to do as they please without hurting anybody. Everything else is better handled privately.

21 - Having said that, I've got a pretty good life. I'm willing to listen to reasoned arguments concerning government's handling of such functions as street cleaning, snow plowing, emergency services in the case of natural disasters, or whatever else you might think about. However, an emotive appeal ("Think of the children!") always sounds like a load of crap to me. Bring facts to the table and I'll listen.

22 - My favorite athlete is Doug Flutie. I think that if he had been given a fair chance in the NFL when he was younger, he would be hall-of-fame bound. As it is, he probably still should be. When you combine his NFL, CFL, and USFL stats, I believe you'll find that he has passed for more yardage, professionally, than all but two others in the history of football. That's good enough for me.

23 - I was married on February 29th. Therefore, we celebrate our anniversary once every four years. In 2008, we will celebrate our fourth anniversary.

24 - I was born on March 2nd. I am a Pisces. Whatever. I share the same birthday as Jackie Gleason, Jay Osmond, Winston Churchill and Lou Reed. That should tell you right there that astrology is full of crap.

25 - I am a Christian. I believe in God and Jesus Christ. I used to be a Catholic. I'm not now. As with things political, I'm willing to live and let live concerning other's religious beliefs. Give respect, get respect.

And that's it for part one. Now, get back to work!

Go to Part Two

Monday, October 17, 2005

How NOT To Write A Cover Letter

Many years ago, when I graduated from broadcasting school and I was first looking for work in (logically enough) broadcasting, I sent out demo tapes to a number of radio stations. Accompanying those tapes were the following cover letters.

I assumed that, since this was a creative type of business I was trying to get into, a creative cover letter would be appreciated. I failed to take into account the fact that, while the end of the business I was attempting to get into called for imagination, your average programming director has the imagination of a sea slug. And I might be doing a disservice to sea slugs by saying that.

In any case, the following letters received zero response. I was amazed, at the time, because I figured at the very least someone might want to get a look at the nut who wrote them. The tapes I sent were amusing and did showcase a decent array of vocal styles.

Oh, well. As usual, I overestimated the intelligence of the people I was dealing with and, as usual, it was a fatal mistake. Here now, the first letter.


Person In Whose Hands I Am Placing My Life
Same Address As On The Envelope

Dear Form Letter Recipient:

Please allow me to introduce myself. I'm the idiot who thinks that he can forego writing a personal letter, yet still believes he will receive a personal reply. My name is Jim Sullivan. I will more than likely commit suicide unless you offer me a job immediately.

Whew! That's quite a first paragraph, wouldn't you say? I'm willing to bet that this is the first cover letter you've ever received where the person applying for work states right up front that he is both mentally deficient and suicidal (not to mention egotistical enough to think that you'd care, even though he didn't take the time to find out your name.) Well, that's just the kind of guy I am!

Enclosed you will find a tape almost as inane as this letter. I'm sure that you'll find it quasi-amusing, if only for the poor production values. I will further besmirch my already-soiled reputation by admitting to having produced, written, and voiced it all on my own. It contains a number of voices that will not be immediately recognizable as my own, mainly because you have no idea what my real voice sounds like. My repertoire, such as it is, includes another forty or so vocal characterizations that I will gladly inflict upon you in person, should you be foolish enough to offer me the opportunity.


Given the chance, I'm sure that I can prove my worth to you. I will happily attempt any sort of vocal gymnastics you might desire. I'm easy to work with and take direction well. In addition to my strengths vocally, I can write copy, wash windows, sweep floors, piss coffee, and shit reel-to-reel tape.

In the final analysis, I am not only desperate but also despondent. I no doubt have a rope around my neck and a gun to my head as you read this. Only YOU can prevent me from making the world a better place to live!

Please listen to my tape and then give me a call. I'll kill myself if you don't.

Have a nice day!

Jim Sullivan

P.S. If I'm not in when you call, please leave a message. I'm probably playing softball.


Amazingly, not a single call came in. I was ready for this eventuality, though. I sent out the following letter as a follow-up.


Person In Whose Hands I Had Placed My Life
Same Address As Before

Hello From Beyond The Grave!

Well, it seems that you weren't all that impressed by my threat to kill myself. You didn't offer me a job immediately. Therefore, in order to prove my sincerity to you, I have killed myself.

Tut, tut! It's too late now to offer me that job. I'm dead! If only you had believed me. You could have saved my life and given me the opportunity to show you how valuable an asset I could have been to you. As it stands, though, you will now be saddled with unbelievable guilt for the rest of your life because you failed to realize how desperately despondent I actually was (not to mention how much of a talent I could have been.)

Believe me, if it were in my power to come back and save you this misery, I would. I mean, it's hardly your fault that I was psychotic enough to kill myself just because you didn't offer me a job. However, all of that is beyond my control now. We both had our chances and we blew it.

I can offer you some slight hope, however. Interestingly enough, there is another fellow named Jim Sullivan who is pursuing a career in broadcasting. By the most ridiculous of coincidences, he moved into my apartment the day after my death. While he doesn't have my suicidal tendencies (indeed, he appears to be almost pathologically sane) he does possess pretty much the same vocal range and abilities I did. To be honest (and I'’m dead, so why not?) he may be slightly more talented than I was, as hard as that may be to imagine.

"How does that help?", I hear you asking in your guilt-ridden state. Simple - you could give him a call and offer him the job you would no doubt offer me if I were still alive. This won't assuage all of the guilt you feel, but it couldn't hurt.

Well, that about wraps it up from here. You know, I'm not really sure where "here" is. There are plenty of free cigarettes and loose women, but it's a bit too warm for my taste. However, I digress.

I hope you are able to put together the fragmented pieces of your shattered life. God bless you.

Yours In Perpetuity,

Jim Sullivan (The Former)

P.S. If the other fellow isn't in when you call, you should leave a message. He might be out playing softball.


Again, nothing. I had a third letter, though.


To: The Person I May Have Confused
From: Jim Sullivan

Dear Programming Director:

I sent you a demo tape quite some time ago. Obviously, it did not have the desired effect. You have thus far not offered me a king's ransom to be a performer at your station. Perhaps I didn't make myself totally clear in my cover letters. I shall attempt to rectify that situation now.


That should leave no doubt. That sentence is about as clear as the English language gets. You think up anything and I'll do it. Want someone to walk a tightrope between the Hancock Building and the Prudential Tower, just to build your ratings? Need somebody to wrestle alligators at Downtown Crossing during lunch hour? Do you have a promotion in mind wherein a DJ boxes Mike Tyson for three rounds? I'm your man. I'll do it for minimum wage.

Aside from being a full-fledged, top-shelf, first-class fool, I can also write, announce, produce, operate a board, sweep the floors, clean the toilets, and do any of the other mundane duties which you might think are beneath me. They aren'’t beneath me. Nothing is beneath me.

I'’m serious. Give me a broom or a Johnny-mop. I'’ll do anything to get my foot in the door. Once I'’m in, it will become abundantly clear to you that my value as an all-around talent is considerable. What have you got to lose? A few dirty toilets? Four bucks an hour? You won'’t find anybody else willing to scrub porcelain and fight reptiles (the alligators, not Mike Tyson) at these prices.

If this letter has intrigued you, and you wish to listen to my demo tape one more time, please don't. It obviously didn't impress you the first time around or I wouldn't have had to send you this letter. Instead, give me a chance to talk to you, live. Either invite me in for an interview or give me a call. If my actual presence, or a reasonable facsimile thereof via telephone, isn't enough to impress you, I'll never darken your doorway (or your mailbox) again. All I want is a chance to let you see my pitiful puss in person and for you to say to me, "Good Lord! You really are an idiot!"

I await your reply with baited breath, but I'll use mouthwash before we meet.

Yours Somehow,

Jim Sullivan


You know the result by now. Nada. Nothing. Zilch. Zero. Which is why I am where I am, writing this for you. Which is an absolute joy, of course. I wouldn't trade it for the world. Or at least anything less than five bucks an hour.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

I, Criticus

This is my lazy way of posting something without actually writing something new. It's a collection of reviews I posted on during the past four years or so. Four books, one movie, and a record. There are others, but I'm saving those for another time when I need a quick filler.

I've expanded the reviews where I felt I didn't do a good enough job the first time around but, since you probably never read them the first time, I could have skipped saying this and just let you think I was brilliant all along.

My brother-in-law, who reads this blog, and who is twice the writer I am (a conservative estimate) was actually a paid critic for a major Boston newspaper. He now works in sales, which I can understand as that actually pays. When he reads this, he'll no doubt be tremendously jealous of the fact that my reviews are being read by such a wide audience (all 3 of you) while his work, printed on (heh-heh) paper, is just getting moldy somewhere.

(Even moldy, his reviews probably still smell better than mine...)

Anyway, if you find that you are so overwhelmed by my prose that you feel you must get any of these things NOW, all of them should still be available through Amazon, either new or used.

See you Monday.

All Souls : A Family Story from Southie by Michael Patrick MacDonald

I grew up in Dorchester, which borders South Boston. I drove cab there for a year, out of the stand by the Broadway T stop. For four more years, I worked on D Street in a warehouse. During most of my time in that warehouse, I did way too much cocaine. As a result, I had occasion to be in amongst the types of folks MacDonald talks about. I'm also white, have Irish heritage, and have played ball in Southie for many years. In other words, while I'm not from Southie, I know the territory. I'm about as close to native as you can get without it being so. The folks I know there accept me as one of their own.

Having said that, I am not a native. I've never lived there. So, if someone who does live there wishes to take exception to this book or to what I have to say about it, I'm willing to listen. To my ear, though, the book rings true.

This is the history of one family, told by a survivor. The people could all be people I hung out with, and many of the events described are things I've done, or seen done, in Southie. I never lived in Old Colony, but I was there a lot and had friends who resided there. I sometimes went there to score the coke. The author describes the general overall tone and feeling of that housing project perfectly, IMHO.

Some reviewers have complained that this book doesn't take a strong enough moral stand concerning some actions of the main characters. Could MacDonald have gotten up on his soapbox and spouted off about how wrong some of the things being done were, i.e., selling stolen goods, his Mom not being quite as strict as she should have been, useless macho fights, etc.? Sure, but I think he gives the reader credit for already knowing that. This book isn't about morality - it's a memoir of a troubled family in troubled times, and of how the author came out of it in the end. If you don't already bring a moral sense to the book - the knowledge that some of the incidents and actions of the characters are severely wrong - then his telling you won't help.

It is an overwhelming book emotionally. The tragedies mount until you begin to understand how someone who lived through it could become inured to such hideous things. It is also a very interesting sociologic study. It minutely details white inner-city poverty. As such, it should put to rest the misconception that such poverty, and the attendant crime-ridden lifestyle, is solely the province of minorities. Also, the section concerning the forced busing of students is the only history of the era that I've read which explains that not all of Southie resented the busing just because of thick-headed racism (although it doesn't shy away from that part of the equation, either.)

Neon Nuptials: The Complete Guide to Las Vegas Weddings by Ken Van Vechten

This is a great guide to getting spliced in Lost Wages. Van Vechten has a nice style - he's very informative, but keeps things light and humorous. Even if you're not planning on getting married anytime soon, it's a fun read and a good addition to your Vegas library.

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

One of the funniest, and most original, books ever written.

The author, unfortunately, committed suicide after failing to sell this book. Once you've read it, you will certainly understand why he might have done so. If you had written this grand work and been unable to sell it, you might have offed yourself, too.

After Toole's death, the book was sold by his mother to a somewhat small university press. It ended up becoming a bestseller and won a Pulitzer. Since that time, a couple of Toole's shorter works have been unearthed and published, but that's all there is. No more will be forthcoming because of his death. That's sad stuff.

The book, however, is riotously funny. It is populated with characters and situations that will have you laughing aloud, many times over, if you possess any sense of humor at all. The main character, Ignatius, will at turns amaze, delight, and disgust you. He is one of the great original characters of modern literature - a combination of Falstaff, a degenerate Oliver Hardy, and a volcanic eruption.

I'm not going to describe any plot details or any more of the characters. Better that you get to know them on your own. Just know this, though: I envy you, if you have not yet read this book but are about to do so. You are about to discover a tremendous joy.

The Rape of the A*P*E* by Allan Sherman

THIS should be Sherman's Legacy, not "Hello, Muddah...".

While Allan Sherman's musical offerings are witty and fun, this book is one of the most amazing documents ever published. Like most of the other [Amazon reviewers], I first read it when I was young (16) and have bought and lost (as loaners) several copies. I found a hardcover in a used bookstore about ten years ago and I will never let it leave my house now, as replacement copies are amazingly expensive and hard to come by.

Sherman takes on the herculean task of recording the rise and fall of morality - more specifically, sexual morality - from Adam & Eve up to the then-present day of the 1970's. He does it with panache, humor, and obvious glee at the failure of prudery to win out.

I consider it the funniest book ever written. This comes from someone who absolutely adores Twain, so take that as extremely high praise.

Tuff Darts! ~ Tuff Darts

Great Lost Band.

Saw them live at a club in Boston in the 70's, bought the album the next day. I expected them to break big time, but it never happened. EVERY cut is catchy, great hooks, swell lead guitar from Jeff Salen, there is NOTHING not to like here. Buy it and be amazed by how they slipped through the cracks!

Jesus Christ Superstar (Widescreen Edition) VHS ~ Norman Jewison

Good Singing, Bad Acting.

The singing, with one glaring exception, is magnificent. However, as good as the singing is, the acting is just as bad.

Ted Nealy (Christ) has a magnificent voice, and his rendering of "Gethsemane" is as good a piece of rock singing as there is recorded. However, his acting is almost non-existent. His facial expressions are wooden, even during the gut-wrenching moments vocally.

Carl Anderson (Judas) is a strong vocalist. He's a bit better actor than Nealy, but that's not saying much. Likewise, Yvonne Elliman (Mary Magdelene) is also possessed of a good set of pipes, but little range as an actress.

The best actor of the crew is probably Barry Dennen (Pilate) who also has the strongest single moment vocally, at the end of "The Trial" piece. His screeching at that point is quite superb, though purists may argue that it isn't "singing". I won't quibble about it, as this is a rock opera and such histrionics are perfectly acceptable (if not preferable) in this sort of thing.

The only exception to the overall strength of the vocal performances is Josh Mostel (Herod) who possesses neither voice or acting skills. He is just plain embarrassing in what should be a highlight of the film.

Interesting touches throughout - Roman soldiers in modern military garb, tanks in the 1st century desert, etc. - keep this visually compelling, if a bit self-conscious.

Again, the music is mostly superb, and the acting mostly sub-par. See it once, for reference, then get the CD and enjoy the music over and over again.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Chrome Dome

I'’m bald. A skinhead. Follicly challenged, like the proverbial billiard ball.

I'm not quite as gung-ho about it as the folks who belong to the organization whose logo is pictured above (it really exists) but I am resigned to it. I used to wear hats all the time to hide it, but now if I wear a hat, I don't do it to kid anybody into thinking I have more hair than I do. I do it because I want to keep the sun off of my head, or because I don'’t feel like combing what hair I have left.

One of the biggest shocks of my life was when I found out that I was bald. I was 25 at the time. I knew that my hairline was slowly receding in front, but that'’s all I knew. So, I was standing in line at a convenience store, waiting to check out, and there was a black-and-white closed-circuit television monitor hanging from the ceiling. On it was an overhead shot, from behind me. Nothing better to do, so I'’m looking at it and thinking, "“Fat guy, black guy, bald guy, nice-looking woman, couple of kids...… Hey, wait a minute… Where am I? Fat guy, black guy... bald guy. Oh, shit! I'’m the bald guy!" I honestly had no idea, until that very moment, that I had a gigantic bald spot on the back of my head. I wanted to die. I'’m better now.

For a while, I considered hair replacements of various sorts: toupees, weaves, Hair Club For Men. One thing that kept me from trying them is the cost. It'’s damned expensive to get a good rug. And it'’s just plain silly to get a cheap one. A cheap rug just lets people know how desperate you are. Do these people think nobody knows? Listen, my bald brother, let me do you a favor and tell you that EVERYBODY KNOWS.
The folks who have really good rugs are the folks you don'’t know about. That'’s why it's a good rug. But the bad ones? You might as well wear a big sign that says I'M VAIN, INSECURE, I PROBABLY HAVE A TINY WEE-WEE, AND I'M SO WORRIED ABOUT IT THAT I'M WILLING TO PUT THIS DEAD BADGER ON MY HEAD.

One time, and one time only, I sent away for a combination shampoo/nutrient/voodoo kit that was supposed to cure baldness. It came with a 60-day money-back guarantee. I figured what the hell -– what if it really works and I don'’t try it? So, it came in the mail about a week later and I started using the shampoo, and rubbing snake oil into my scalp every night, and taking handfuls of pills. I had never heard of vitamin L before, but I was willing to give it a shot. After about three weeks, I started inspecting my scalp very closely for signs of new hair. And I thought that I really might have a bit of new peach fuzz. I was cautiously elated”.

After a few days of seeing this same amount of fuzz, and not really being able to recall if it had been there before I started looking so closely for it, I asked MY WIFE if she noticed anything. Basically, without being unkind, she said that she noticed I was a lot more concerned about being bald than I had ever been before and if this made me feel better, OK, but it didn't matter to her one way or the other if I had a lot of hair. Right answer! I'd like to be able to say that I kissed her and threw the crap in the barrel right then and there, but while I lost my hair, my brains didn't go with it. I sent for my money back, first. Got it, too - after my fourth letter, which explained that I sent copies of my first three letters to the Attorney General's office.

I considered Rogaine, but have you ever read the warnings on the label? It appeared to me that I had a choice between hair with a heart attack or being bald. I took bald, thanks.

The most expensive option for a bald guy, and probably the best one if you really want to have natural-looking hair, is a transplant. I'’ve seen the before and after photos and the results in some cases are stunning. They take hair from some other part of your body and put it on your head. However, I'’ve always wondered: where do they take the hair from? Is it your armpits? Do you have to comb your hair with a deodorant stick? What if they take it from your crotch? Ever since I thought about this, I'’ve been a little wary of getting too close to any guy with a full head of short curly hair.

Some guys just opt to give up and shave their heads completely. These guys have more guts than I do. I've considered it, but what if I end up looking worse than I do now? What then? I'd have to wear a hat I could pull down over my ears. Anyway, I don't think I've seen more than a handful of white guys who look good with a shaved head. Black guys - now they can get away with it. Michael Jordan is sexier bald. Who's the bald white guy that comes to mind immediately? Curly.

Of course, there are those men (and odd women, like Sinead O'Connor) who shave their heads even though they have full heads of hair. Well, OK... but I look at them the same way I would someone who has all of their teeth, but who chooses to black them out. I suppose I should thank them for making baldness more socially acceptable, but if I had a choice, I'd keep the hair.

Funny thing is, I hated my hair when I was a kid. It was bright orange and I was teased continually because of it. And I couldn't get away with anything, because among a crowd of kids running away, they could always identify the one with the orange hair. However, when I became a musician, and grew it out long, I finally found a use for it. Long, bright orange hair had a freak value of sorts, especially useful in heavy metal. So, I really got into my hair. I had it styled, and used three different conditioners, and a hot comb, and all that. I got to enjoy it for about a year. Almost as soon as I began liking my hair, it started falling out. Hey, thanks, God!

Most guys like me have male pattern baldness. It'’s just something that you inherit a tendency towards. Who you inherit it from is the subject of much conjecture. For years, it was taken for granted that male baldness came from the maternal grandfather'’s line. More recently, studies have indicated that it'’s probably a combination of factors, some hereditary and others environmental. That seems to make a lot more sense. My father was bald, but he had two brothers with full heads of hair. If the gene came from their grandfather, wouldn'’t they all have been bald? My grandmother was a little thin on top, though. I also have a cousin -– a woman -– who has some thin spots. Her mother'’s father -– my grandfather -– had pretty much a full head of hair until the day he died. Of course, my other grandfather, on my mother'’s side, was very bald. But my male cousins on that side of the family all have plenty of hair. So, what does this prove? It proves that you have tremendous reading skills if you'’ve been able to follow my family tree through this entire paragraph.

There are myths about bald guys. One concerns testosterone. Bald guys are supposed to produce more testosterone or something like that. Well, I have a very healthy sex drive, so that fits the pattern, but I don'’t go into rages or anything, except when I haul off and punch a wall every couple of weeks. Another myth is that bald guys are sexually well endowed. Not true. I have thirteen inches and five testicles, just like every other guy.

The only thing about being bald which I still sometimes have a hard time with is the jokes. I can take a joke, especially if it's from someone I like and it's something clever. I'll make jokes about being bald, myself. And I've certainly laughed at the Mel Cooleys of the world. What I've never understood, however, is plain cruelness.

It has never been in my nature to make fun of something that's part of a person's genetics. That is, if someone has a physical feature that they might not be proud of, I don'’t automatically consider it a source of humor. I'’m not going to go for a cheap laugh at the expense of someone's feelings. For instance, I'’ve never made jokes about flat-chested women. It seems to me that to make jokes about something like that is just not worth the hurt you might cause. I'’d ask men who do such things to consider how they'’d feel if they had a tiny dick and had that fact out front for everyone to see. And then folks made jokes about it, too. Not very happy, I'd guess.

However, when it comes to baldness, I guess it'’s just engrained in our culture to automatically see it as a funny thing. And I'’m not going to get all snippy about it and say it isn'’t ever funny. Sometimes it's hilarious; it depends upon the circumstances. But sometimes it'’s just painful.

I had been going to broadcasting school for about two months, and I wore a hat in class every day. I was much more self-conscious then. While in the middle of a crowd of my fellow students, a female classmate snatched my hat off of my head, and said, "I knew it! I knew you were hiding something!"” Obviously, I lived to tell about it, but I wonder how that woman would have felt if she had some part of her body that she wasn't comfortable with and then someone came up to her, pulled off some clothing, pointed, and tried to get other folks to laugh about it? To her credit as a human being, she sincerely apologized when she saw my discomfort, but it made me even more self-conscious and embarrassed for weeks afterward. Now I wasn't only uncomfortable being bald, I was uncomfortable wearing a hat, too. Now everyone knew I wasn't wearing it just to be stylish (it was a nice black greek fisherman's cap.) I decided the best thing to do was get rid of the hat and face up to it, so she probably did me a favor in the long run, but still...

Enough whining, but I'll ask a favor of you, if you don't mind. The next time you see a bald guy, if you're a woman and you want to make him feel all sexy and special? Kiss him on top of his bald head. That's one thing we have over hairy guys. It's kind of sensual to get a smooch up there. MY WIFE does it every so often when I'm not expecting it. Every time she does it, it makes me realize all over again how deeply I love her, and being bald doesn't bother me even one tiny little bit.

The Answers

OK, before we get into anything else, let’s hear it for the once and future champions, the Boston Red Sox. It was a nice ride while it lasted, wasn’t it?

If you’re depressed about them losing, you should be ashamed of yourself. If you can’t still smile about it, you just aren’t looking at life in the right way. Last year, you saw something that some people lived their entire lives without seeing. If you get all pissy and start whining about this year, it would be like spitting on their graves.

Aw, hell. Bases loaded, nobody out, and they can’t score? All they had to do was stand there and they would have had at least one run (something I’ve tried to drill into my softball team for about 10 years, but they don’t get it, either.) Use your head. Unless you’re Manny or Ortiz, a walk is as good as a hit in that situation.

It’s about four months until spring training. I’ll shut up until then.


All right. On Friday, I offered you the opportunity to win a tremendous, fabulous, one-of-a-kind prize – a used book. In order to win this tremendous, fabulous, one-of-a-kind used book, you had to answer twenty questions. Or, at least, you had to answer more of the twenty questions correctly than any of my other readers. If you didn’t read me on Friday – and what the hell could you possibly have been doing that was more important – and you’d like to take the quiz, just for funsies, you will find a link on the left. The title is So, You Think You Know Boston Sports? Why don’t you go there now and see how many you can answer? The rest of us will wait for you…

(sound of three people whistling tunelessly)

You’re back? Great! That didn’t take too long. And now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for! The winner is…

No, let’s keep the suspense going just a little bit longer. First, the answers.

1 – Who holds the major league record for most doubles in a season? How many?

That would Earl Webb, who hit an amazing 67 doubles for the Red Sox in 1931.

Satan’s granny on a pogo stick! Are you humpin’ me? SIXTY-SEVEN DOUBLES?!? That sounds like one of my weekend bar tabs from 1988!

(*rim shot*)

Thank you. Thank you. I’ll be here all week. Try the veal.

2 – 13,909. What significance does this number hold for an older Boston sports fan?

That was the number of lines I did on that same weekend! Hey, hey! Don’t forget to tip your waitress.

All right, don’t get your shorts in a knot. I’m not going to let this deteriorate into a bunch of cheap drug jokes. That’s because there was nothing cheap about those drugs, let me tell you! Barump-bump!

(Uggh. Enough.)

For many years, 13,909 was a sell-out for Celtic basketball at the Boston Garden. Johnny Most would proudly announce that number on the radio whenever there was one - which there wasn’t always, as odd as that might seem today when a championship anything (soccer match, box lacrosse game, international cat-neutering competition) brings out the scalpers in packs. There were times, during the Bill Russell championship years, when you could walk up to the Garden box office and buy a playoff ticket an hour before the game began. In winter, this has always been a hockey town.

3 - .406

Do I really have to explain this? OK, maybe someone doesn’t know. Maybe I have a reader in Kuala Lumpur who doesn’t realize that this was Ted Williams’ batting average in 1941, and that it was the last time that anyone hit over .400 for a season, and that this is why the legend of Teddy Ballgame just gets bigger and bigger as each year passes.

Since that year, only four batters have hit .380 or better, and one of those was Williams himself, in 1957.

4 - .301

A real, true, hard-core Red Sox fan would know that this was Carl Yastrzemski’s batting average in 1968. He won the American League batting title with that average. He was the only man to hit over .300 in the entire league. Some might argue that this statistical anomaly has a better chance of surviving than Williams being the last man to hit .400.

5 – 46 to 10. Why does this suck?

Because that’s the score the Chicago Bears beat the New England Patriots by in Super Bowl XX. If life were fair, Steve Grogan would be the hero whose tale was recounted once a year by the national media, while Jim McMahon would be remembered only for being the boorish jerk that he was. Life, alas, is not fair.

6 – Complete the following progression: 46 – 67 – 75 - ?

How about if I put it this way: ’46 – ’67 – ’75 - ???? Yeah, ’86. The less said the better.

7 – 9 straight, and 11 out of 13. Name the team.

I screwed up. I meant to say 8 straight. Everybody gets partial credit. But, if you really knew your stuff, the 11 out of 13 would have been enough.

If you said The Boston Celtics, you get full credit. 8 straight world championships, and 11 world championships in 13 years. The most successful run of any professional team in any sport, ever.

8 – 20, vs. Seattle. What? By Whom?

Strikeouts, by Roger Clemens. In 1986, for goodness’ sakes, and he’s still blowing batters away. Amazing. He’s an utter churl, but he sure can throw a ball.

9 – “This is Johnny Most, coming to you from…” Where?

“High above courtside.” In the old days of The Garden, the broadcasters did not sit on the sidelines as they do now. Johnny worked from a perch just below the second balcony. From there, he would weave his tales of The Lord (Oscar Robertson), McFilthy and McNasty (Laimbeer and Mahorn), Little Lord Fauntleroy (Isiah Thomas), and every other villain (anybody not wearing green and white) in the NBA. He would do this while smoking a couple of packs of unfiltered cigarettes a game and he sure sounded like it. Nobody outside of Boston could stand him, but I dearly loved that homer with the train wreck for a voice. Every game was a passion play to Johnny, and I was a true believer.

Listening to Most describe a game, and letting your imagination loose to play with him, was great. The next best thing was to watch the game on television with the TV announcers turned down and Johnny doing his thing on the radio. While he’d be describing an axe murder that just took place at the free throw line, and how the opposing player was walking around the court holding up the bloody head of Larry Siegfried for the crowd to gasp at, what you saw was Siegfried’s thigh getting brushed by Al Attles’ hand, and the ref deciding it wasn’t much more of a discomfort than, well, a hand accidentally brushing against your thigh. A minute later John would have Siegfried’s head back on his shoulders, but Wilt Chamberlain would be barbecuing Frank Ramsey at center court. And the refs aren’t calling it! They’re just standing there while Chamberlain pours K.C. Masterpiece all over poor Frank Ramsey! He’s turning him on a spit! But Wilt Chamberlain has never committed a foul in his entire career in the NBA, so the refs aren’t going to call this one!

God bless you, Johnny! The Celtics have never been the same since you left us.

10 – What did Havlicek do?

"Greer is putting the ball into play. He gets it out deep. Havlicek steals it. Over to Sam Jones. Havlicek stole the ball! It's all over! Johnny Havlicek stole the ball!"

Probably the most famous call by an announcer in basketball history, by Johnny Most.

I was lucky enough to have Johnny as an instructor during my time in broadcasting school. See, the thing about Most - despite his exaggerations - was that the man knew basketball inside and out. When he had to report what was really happening, he did it as well as anybody ever has or ever will. If he hadn’t had that ability, he would have just been a clown. He’s in the Hall Of Fame. He wasn’t a clown.

11 – What did Pesky (supposedly) do?

Whereas Havlicek stole the ball, Johnny Pesky held the ball. His teammates from the 1946 Red Sox, to a man, say that he did no such thing. Unfortunately, there aren’t 6 different camera angles and a split-screen shot to prove either his culpability or his innocence. So, while there is conjecture, it has become a permanent part of Boston folklore that Johnny Pesky hesitated with the relay from the outfield, just long enough to make it possible for Enos Slaughter to score all the way from first base on a single, thus ruining the seventh game of the 1946 World Series for Bostonians.

To Pesky’s eternal credit, he has always been a man about it. He’s never complained about receiving a bum break. And that’s why, these days, Pesky is a living breathing baseball GOD in these parts. No matter what you may have done in New England, if you don’t whine about it people will love you someday. And rightly so.

12 – Fill in the blank: Russell is to __________ as Bird is to Magic.

Chamberlain, of course.

Wilt Chamberlain was the ultimate villain. Red Sox fans know that the Yankees suck, but once somebody on the Yankees goes to another team, he’s not necessarily hated anymore. For Celtics fans, it didn’t matter what team Wilt was on. Whichever one it was, that was the team to hate. When Wilt was in Philadelphia, then Philadelphia was the biggest rival. When he was in San Francisco, the hatred migrated there. When he came back to Philly, the Sixers were number one again. And when he moved to the Lakers, they were it – and Philadelphia dropped to the wayside again. And the great thing about it was that Boston beat him every year, except one - at least while Bill Russell was around. Never has such a tremendous player (and Wilt was arguably the best ever) been so defeated by one team. A modern comparison might be Peyton Manning and the Patriots, but give it another 6 or 7 years to see if it holds up.

13 – Who is the only lifetime Patriot to be elected to the Pro Football Hall Of Fame?

That would be the great John Hannah, possibly the best offensive lineman ever. There should probably be one or two others (Gino Cappelletti comes immediately to mind) but, for now, Hannah is it.

14 – Tell me the significance of these numbers: 1, 2, 3, 6, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 31, 32, 33, 35, 00. Extra credit for explaining why 18 is doubly important.

Those are the numbers retired by the Boston Celtics.

Think about it: the Celtics have retired more than 20% of their available jersey numbers. If they keep it up, in the year 2053 they’ll have players wearing “#%*!” and other comic strip swears.

Anyway, if you’ve ever looked up into the rafters at those green numbers on white background, you’ve seen a square of white with “LOSCY” written on it. “LOSCY” was “Jungle Jim” Loscutoff, a player for the Celtics during the 1950’s. When he retired, he asked that his number 18 still be used by a future player, rather than taken out of circulation. When Dave Cowens (number 18 after Loscutoff) retired, the number 18 finally went into the rafters. And that’s why LOSCY is the only Celtic to have his name retired.

15 – 315
This number used to be important, but now it no longer exists. What was it?

The left-field foul line at Fenway Park used to be 315 feet. Now it is 310 feet. This was accomplished without the foul line actually physically changing in length. All that happened was that the Sox management painted over the obviously exaggerated 315 and painted in the slightly less exaggerated 310. In reality, it’s probably closer to 302.

16 – Name the Athlete: #4

There’s only one #4 in Boston. That would be Bobby Orr. Ask anyone who actually saw him play and they’ll agree. What made him the best? I could write some words, but I couldn’t adequately describe it. Nobody can. You had to be there. You can watch some old game films and get an idea, but, really, you had to be there. If you weren’t, you have to take it on faith. For Bruins fans, Orr was the savior.

17 – “25 guys, 25 cabs.” What does this refer to?

The Red Sox of today are lovable idiots. The clubhouse is a fun place and pretty much everybody likes everyone else. Some of these guys are good friends and do stuff with each other besides play baseball. They laugh! They make faces! They do intricate and joyous handshakes!

Enough of that happy horse hockey! Step into the wayback machine, Sherman, and set the dial for 1968.

In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, the Red Sox had a reputation as the most selfish group of players in the history of ball. It was “I got mine, Jack” and a player who was called upon to lay down a sacrifice bunt would pout about it for the rest of the season. While the Bruins of that era were a loose, fun-loving bunch that went everywhere together, it was said of the Red Sox that when they left the clubhouse, it was “25 guys, 25 cabs”.

18 - The Bruins were the first in their league, while the Red Sox were the last in theirs? To do what?

To have a black player.

Willie O’Ree broke the color line in hockey in a Boston Bruins jersey. The Red Sox were the last team in major league baseball to have a black player on their roster. Jackie Robinson was retired for three years by the time the Sox had Pumpsie Green. It could be argued that, even then, the Red Sox still didn’t have a black player, because while Pumpsie was certainly black, his qualifications as a player were somewhat lacking.

As an interesting aside, another Boston team - the Celtics - was the first in American professional sports history to begin a game with an all-black starting line-up.

19 – The Teamen. The Lobsters. The Breakers. What the hell were they?

Well, the Teamen were Boston’s professional soccer team, way back before the Revolution became somewhat popular. The Lobsters were Boston’s entry in World Team Tennis, a spectacularly flawed concept if there ever was one. And the Breakers were Boston’s USFL (United States Football League) team. Hell, at that time the Patriots could barely keep their heads above water. The Breakers had about as much chance of surviving as I do of winning a Pulitzer.

20 – Local way of telling someone you don’t like them: F*** you, and…?

As I said before, it’s not the horse you rode in on, though that’s certainly a popular enough way of putting it. No, in my day it was, “F*** you, and the Boston Red Sox!” Of course, the Red Sox are much better liked now, right? Right? Hey, what did I say in the first paragraph? You apologize right now or I won’t tell you who the winner is.

(Sound of two people whistling tunelessly, as one person bailed since the first time I used this joke today.)

That’s better. The winner is Tara. She correctly answered 10 of the questions. For her efforts, she will receive a copy of “The Glory Of Their Times”, by Lawrence Ritter.

To everybody who sent in an entry, thanks for playing! If sports aren’t really your thing, I’ll have another quiz, with another fantastic prize, on a totally different subject, someday soon. Come back then and take your shot. Who knows what tremendous, fabulous one-of-a-kind used book you might win?