Friday, May 30, 2008


I am a man of average height. I stand about 5' 10".

(For my non-American readers, that translates to 14 stone.)

(No, stop composing those barbed comments. I know that "stone" is a measurement of weight. And anybody fluent enough to understand both of the measurements I've given is no doubt shaking his/her head and saying "Blimey, dude, you've got to grow another 4.68 centimetres or you're gonna die!", or something similarly quaint and metric. I thank you for the kind thoughts, but there's no need to worry. Any minor perusal of the archives here will show that I'm losing my mind at an alarmingly fast rate, and since I'm such a fathead, that means I'll be down to 1.3 choenikes in no time flat.)

(That's an ancient Greek measurement, by the way. You're liable to learn something new every time you visit here, and usually it'll be something you'll have no earthly use for later. As for me, as soon as I write this shit, it is out of my mind forever. Life isn't fair, no.)

So, as I was saying before I so rudely interrupted myself, I'm about 5' 10", which is sort of average for a guy. When I show you who I'm descended from, however, you'll see the circuitous route my genes had to take to arrive at their averageness.

For instance...

The extremely tall gentleman in the picture above is my Dad, approximately age 17. You can see how he towers over my grandmother and his sister and two brothers. I inherited those genes from him.

Now, in order to even things out and make me the entirely average fellow I am today, I inherited other genes from my Mom's side of the family. Here is a picture of my great grandfather, from his time in the army during World War I. He is the amazingly short fellow on the right.

I have no idea how he got into the army. I had always assumed there were minimum height requirements, until I saw this photo.

And, finally, here is a picture of me.

As I say, I'm about 5' 10". MY WIFE, standing next to me, is close to 5' 1" (but not too close.) She's wearing heels here, I believe. In any case, I am a product of the loins of the two men pictured above, Mr. Tall Guy and Mr. Shrimpy. My body decided to split the difference, thus making me ill-suited for both basketball and being a jockey, either of which could have afforded me a better income than I now receive, so thanks a lot, nature.

(Not that I'm totally complaining, mind you. I inherited the tools of my current trade - my vocal cords, and my brains - from both sides of my family, too. It's just that sticking a ball in a hole or whipping a horse would seem to be an easier route to fame and fortune.)

And now, let me tell you something about life. It all depends on how you look at it. You might already know this, but it never hurts to be reminded of it. For instance, all three men in the photos above - Me, My Dad, My Great Granddad - are approximately the same height. The only difference - the thing that makes us all appear vastly different - are the people we're with.

My Dad looks taller because he's with small children and his relatively short mother. The Christmas Tree in the background helps with the illusion.

My Great Granddad appears much shorter than he is because he is standing with his friend who was 6' 7". The uniform, with its oddly-shaped pants, adds to the effect.

As for me, I appear normal because I'm standing with MY WIFE. Any time I'm not in her general vicinity, I appear quite insane.

I guess the lesson is to remember that the people you're always around, and whom you come into contact with throughout life, will contribute to how the world perceives you, so you should choose your companions carefully. You're stuck with your family, so you'll just have to make the best of that. Of course, they have to make the best of you, too, so it all evens out.

Finally, here is a joke I received just this morning, even as I was finishing this piece. It comes from my buddy, Dan, and it perfectly illustrates the problem with skewed perceptions. Enjoy, and I'll see you on Monday with either good news or bad news concerning the Celtics.

A man is flying in a hot air balloon and realizes he is lost. He reduces height, and then spots a man down below.

He lowers the balloon further and shouts, "Excuse me, can you tell me where I am?"

The man below says, "Yes. You're in a hot air balloon, hovering 30 feet above this field."

"You must work in Information Technology" says the balloonist.

"I do" replies the man. "How did you know?"

"Well" says the balloonist, "Everything you have told me is technically correct, but it's no use to anyone."

The man below says, "You must work in business."

"I do" replies the balloonist, "but how did you know?"

"Well," says the man, "You don't know where you are, or where you're going, but you expect me to be able to help. You're in the same position you were before we met, but now it's my fault."

Thursday, May 29, 2008

CELTICS - 106, Detroit - 102

A win is a win is a win. However, if there was ever a victory that should bring more fear to a Celtics fan's heart, I can't recall when it may have taken place.

Last night, the Celtics showed their fans why they should have every right to expect this series to be wrapped up in Detroit on Friday night. They also showed us why it shouldn't be tremendously shocking if they have to come back to Boston for a game seven on Sunday, and then lose that game. They were, collectively, basketball's version of Jekyll and Hyde.


Kendrick Perkins was a beast. He had the best game of his career thus far, scoring 18 points and grabbing 16 rebounds. He also blocked shots, made steals, and played tenacious defense.

Kevin Garnett was fairly unstoppable on his way to a 33 point night. The Pistons have nobody who can stop him on anything approaching a regular basis.

Ray Allen broke out of his shooting slump with cold-blooded vengeance, hitting 5 three-pointers in 6 attempts. He was his usual deadly self from the free throw line.

Rajon Rondo played all but two minutes of the game. He dished out 13 assists and committed only ONE turnover.


Rajon Rondo played all but two minutes of the game.

I'm as big a Rajon Rondo fan as there is on this planet. I think he's a very special ballplayer. He will be a premier point guard for a long time in this league, and will make plays that show up in NBA highlight reels for years and years afterwards. Last night, however, he made some of the worst passes I've ever seen. He was lucky to come out of this game with 13 assists and only one turnover.

There were four or five times when Rondo softly lobbed a pass and Detroit was only able to get a fingertip on it. Those should mostly have ended up as steals. In addition, he was far too cute with the ball at times. In particular, there was one no-look backwards pass to a double-teamed Garnett that Doc Rivers should play over and over to Rajon while he has his eyelids propped open a la A Clockwork Orange.

Rajon wasn't the only one with failings. With all that the Celtics did right - and they did a lot right - they still had to hang on by their fingernails in the closing minutes. Detroit came roaring back from a 15-point fourth quarter deficit, cutting the lead to ONE with under two minutes to play. The Celtics made poor decisions down the stretch, were lazy with passes, and could not find a way to crack the Pistons defense when Detroit pressured the ball in the backcourt. If I'm Detroit head coach Flip Saunders, I'm seriously considering going all Hubie Brown on the Celtic's asses, pressuring and double-teaming from the opening tap until the final buzzer.


Doc Rivers coached a whale of a game. He made the decision early on to keep Perkins in the game longer than he usually does, which was an easy decision considering how monstrous Perk was on the boards, of course. He made a switch to Sam Cassell at point, but when Sam didn't produce within two minutes - and looked fairly horrible overall - he yanked him quick, fast, and in a hurry, going with Rondo for the remainder of the game, sink or swim. He made the right substitutions late when the Celtics were fighting to hang on. I have no major gripes with Doc today.

Having said that, he now has to find a way for his team to handle that Detroit defensive pressure. If he can't, it's not going to be pretty.


The Celtics should win game six in Detroit. They are the better basketball team.

The Celtics probably won't win game six in Detroit. They have yet to prove that they can operate well from anything other than a big lead in the fourth quarter. If Detroit rattles them in Detroit in the same fashion as they did in Boston during last night's fourth quarter, the Celtics will not win.

I expect they'll have to come back to Boston for a deciding game seven. And anything can happen in a game seven.

The Celtics should win this series, but I'm far from supremely confident that they will.


For purposes of our little contest, the Celtics have now scored a total of 460 points. That is an average of exactly 92 per game. Low winning score would now be 644 - if the average holds up - and the high winning score would be 1288. In any case, the prize is still 10 (crummy) CDs, so I don't suppose you're sweating it too much.


If somebody murders Jeff Van Gundy between now and game six, I won't be overly disappointed. After listening to his inane commentary for five excruciating nights, I completely understand why he is no longer a coach in this league. The man truly doesn't have a clue.


I know that some of you are tiring of basketball talk. Stick with me. I'll have some swell non-basketball stuff following the playoffs. In the meantime, I appreciate your indulgence.


Soon, with more better stuff.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


That is, 94 in game three and 75 in game four. Meanwhile, Detroit scored 80 in game three and 94 in game four. The series is tied at two games apiece, with Boston regaining the home court advantage.

For our contest, the four game total is 354, for an average of 88.5 per game. IF the scoring continues on this pace, the lowest winning total will be 531, while the highest winning total would be 1239. The closest to those totals belong to my Mother and The Lovely (yet surprisingly affordable) Tara, both fine ladies and eminently worthy of winning 10 (crummy) CDs.

Of course, anything could happen, so almost everybody is still alive. Not Sharfa, unfortunately, as the current series would have to end with the Pistons taking the next two games while scoring an average 15.5 points. Fat Hairy Bastard is also on the cusp of death, although he could win if the Pistons average 28. In either case, it would not be advisable to hold breath.

Now for the sad news.

I had written something else this weekend, but the ancient and dishonorable computer which we have at home ate it. I saved it to disk, for transfer to this up-to-date and realizes-it-lives-in-the-21st-century computer at work, but when I tried to bring it up at home on Monday, for some polishing, the bastard computer said that I didn't have authority to access my disk. That is never a good sign. However, I had another disk handy, so I wrote a little bit of something, saved it to that disk, and intended to tie both pieces together this morning.

When I arrived at work, about fifteen minutes ago now, I put the first disk in and found out that the hideous antediluvian monster at home had somehow managed to erase half the content I had saved on that disk. Most of it was - I think - things I've already published here, but what I had written over the weekend was gone. Two hours of writing, sent into limbo by Beelzebub The Computer.

Bottom Line: I have no time to reconstruct it today, nor do I have any desire to do so. As a matter of fact, something like that is so extremely disheartening, it takes away the desire to write, period. I'll no doubt get the itch again soon, but for now, I'm going to take the easy way out and just do some quick Celtics/Contest recaps this week and that will be it. My apologies to you for the short shrift you'll be receiving, but...

Soon (but not very soon) with more better stuff.

Friday, May 23, 2008


Detroit - 103 :-(

Woe! Travail! Gnashing of teeth! You can't see it, but I'm rending my garments as I type (which is not easy to do.)

Frustrating game. Ray Allen got his shooting touch back on a night where the Celtics didn't play the type of tight defense they've lived on all season. Allen scored 25, but the team gave Detroit far too many open shots. Detroit, being an excellent team, took advantage of the openings and won. No complaints. The Pistons deserved it.

Now the Celtics go on the road, and a sadder combination of words will not be found in the repertoire of any Celtics fan. They have yet to win a playoff game on the road this year. Now, they must win at least one. If not, it's been a nice year and see you in November.

Oh, well. Here's something to keep you warm while we await game three on Saturday.

(If she doesn't do it for you, ladies, my apologies. You'll just have to make do with your autographed photo of Terry Duerod.)


I want to try to convey to you why the Celtics mean so much to me.

I was born in the month before the Celtics won their first NBA title. That was 1957. They lost in the finals the year after that, but then ran off 8 consecutive championships, the best run of any professional sports team in history. In the year of my 2nd birthday, they won their 2nd championship; in the year of my 3rd birthday, they won their 3rd championship; and so on.

The streak stopped when I was 10, and it was a shock. It was the first time in my living memory that the Celtics weren’t the NBA champions. I had assumed that they would always win. However, the next two years after that, they got back on track and won championships again. By the time I was 12, they had won 11 world titles.

Now, winning championships is excellent, but that’s not enough to earn someone’s love. You earn respect by winning championships. You earn love by your actions outside of the arena. What happened in my neighborhood had a lot to do with it, too.

Actions outside of the arena? The Celtics were an amazing example of human brotherhood during an era of contentious race relations in America. They were the first NBA team to draft a black player. They were the first NBA team to put 5 black players on the floor at once. They were the first NBA team to have a black man as their head coach. You know why they were the first in these areas? It’s because Red Auerbach, much as Martin Luther King, didn’t give a damn about the color of a man’s skin. All he cared about was the content of his character, what the man could do to help his team win. And all of his players followed his lead. The anecdotes are legend among Celtics fans. Stuff like this…

In the early 60's, Sam Jones’s father was in the locker room. He saw his son in the shower with John Havlicek, and started crying. When his son came out of the shower and saw his dad in tears, he asked him why he was crying. His dad said that he never thought he’d live to see the day when his black son could take a shower with a white man, with both of them laughing and no self-consciousness. He was crying because he was happy.

When Dick O’Connell, then General Manager of the 1967 Red Sox, talked about what sort of camaraderie he wanted to build on his team, he said, “Just down the street, there’s a Jew, who works for an Irishman, and he has six black players and six white players willing to die for him every night. That’s the way it should be.”

Forty years after the fact, during the filming of an episode of a show for ESPN Classic, concerning his teammate Bill Russell, Bob Cousy broke down in tears talking about what sort of pain Russell must have felt being a proud and highly intelligent black man in an era when black people were very much getting the short end of it. That’s the kind of teammates the Celtics were – and remained after retirement.

The Celtics have a standing policy concerning retired players, no matter how long they played for the team, or when. If an ex-Celtic wants to attend a home game, he gets in and he gets a seat. No guarantee that it’s going to be courtside, but he WILL get a seat. Family is always welcomed home.

“Celtic Pride" wasn't some bullshit marketing slogan. The players bought it, and lived it.


Meanwhile, in my neighborhood of Dorchester, I was the only kid who liked basketball. That's an amazing thing to hear these days, since Dorchester is one of the big basketball hot spots in the city of Boston. During my youth in Lower Mills, though, I was it. I'd dribble my ball down to Walsh Park on a Saturday morning and shoot baskets for a couple of hours, with nobody else on the court - or likely to be all day.

Everybody loved the Red Sox and the Bruins. The Patriots were liked. But I was the only guy who professed love for the Celtics.

I'm a contrarian. The easiest way to get me to do something is to try to get me to do the opposite. So, since nobody else cared about basketball, and all of my friends gave me shit for being a Celtics fan, I naturally pulled the team even closer to my heart.

(A painful aside, but... There was a fair amount of race-hatred involved in my friends' non-affection for the C's. I was called a "nigger-lover" more than once. Of course, it goes without saying that these were the same assholes who jumped on the Celtics bandwagon during the glory days of Larry Bird in the 80's. The world is, unfortunately, filled with such sad little people.)

So, summing up, the Celtics were a class organization and they were something I saw, as a child, as mine and mine alone because of the ignorance in my neighborhood.

Following Bird's retirement, and with the general dishevelment of the team lately, my passion has only grown. Once again, the team became something I loved and not too many others gave a rat's ass about. Of course, this year the frontrunners have jumped on the bandwagon again. That's OK. They're standing. I've had a seat for over 40 years.


Total points for the contest - 185.

Average of 92.5 per game.

At this rate, the lowest winning total will be 462. The high would be 1295. Just about everybody is still alive, in other words.

Long holiday weekend, so see you on Tuesday. Two games in the interim. If the Celtics don't win one of them, I'll be the fellow in sackcloth, ashes, and a Celtics cap.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Pistons - 79

If this rate of scoring continues, the winning number will be between 440 and 1232.

The best thing about running a contest on your blog is the fact that, after you've run the initial blog asking for entries, you can get another two or three posts out of just compiling the guesses people made and/or updating the progress. For example, here are all of the guesses received before the deadline:

Sharfa - 385 (Sharfa obviously expected the Celtics to lose 4 straight to Detroit. Either that or she believes the Celtics will win the championship and set an NBA record, averaging only 28 points a game.)

FatHairyBastard - 410 (Another expectation of 4 straight. And he's not anywhere near as good looking as Sharfa, so I should just kick his ass right now. However, he IS fat, hairy, and a bastard, so I'll wait until his back is turned and then club him with a brick.)

Connie/Mom - 627 (My Mother. MY MOTHER. Mom! You think the Celtics will lose, too? Jeez. Do you have another son I don't know about who's a Pistons fan?)

Goody - 630 (My friend who has season tickets and was nice enough to invite me to game seven, should it come to that. He said he believes the Pistons will win the current series in seven games. In other words, he's such a good friend, he's invited me to be a witness to the most painful moment of the entire season. Gee, thanks, Fred!)

Shrinky - 689 (She's from the UK, so she gets a pass.)

Artjewl - 723 (She's not from the UK. But, the Celtics could win 8 straight and average 91 a game, so OK.)

SandraRee - 860 (Now we're getting into the territory where the Celtics must at least get to the finals to reach these numbers. No more snide comments.)

ChuckaStoneDesigns - 912

TickledPink - 919

Sassy - 934

John-Michael - 941

Lime - 950

Buck - 962

ChrisStone - 990

Pete - 1012 (My softball coach for the past three years. He says he doesn't want the prize. Well, who does? It's 10 [crummy] CDs. Anyway, he has asked that, if he wins, the prize be given to the runner-up. So, if you don't win, but you get the CDs, anyway? You'll want to go to Pete's house and beat him senseless.)

Michael - 1066 (My favorite comment: "If it was good enough for William The Conqueror, it's good enough for Leon Powe.")

Eilleen - 1095

DavidSullivan - 1099 (My cousin. He won the last contest I had here, involving the World Series. Some folks were of the opinion that the fix was in. I've never denied it. However, this time it's definitely on the up-and-up.)


Dave - 1190 (NOT my cousin. No chance.)

BurningSky - 1191

Now, this is where my own guess would have fallen. I figure 13 games; a total of 1209 points. I am notoriously pitiful as a prognosticator, so the nearer you are to my guess, the less chance you probably have.

The Lovely (yet surprisingly affordable) Tara - 1267 (Sorry, kid! Too close to my guess to have any chance whatsoever.)

KevinSmith - 1287

Rooster - 1295

Chuck - 1300

And there you have it. Considering the prize (10 [crummy] CDs, with an infinitesimal chance at a real honest-to-goodness $25 gift certificate) this is a surprisingly large number of entrants. I'll update after each Celtics game.


I dissed Celtics coach Doc Rivers pretty hard the other day. I feel I should say something else, so here goes. Doc got it right in game seven against Cleveland, and he also got it fairly much right last night. So, credit where credit is due. Good job.

I truly like the man. He seems like a very nice guy. His players like him a lot, and that certainly counts for something. Whatever roller coaster ride he's given my blood pressure, so long as the Celtics win, no problem. More power to him.

The biggest problem the Celtics have at the moment is Ray Allen. He absolutely stunk up the joint for much of last night. His shooting is about as far off as you could expect from a player with his formidable resume. He hasn't been totally worthless, as he's contributed here and there, via defense and other aspects, but his overall worth to the team at this point is far below what is expected - and needed.

What's the solution? I suppose it's just to keep getting him open looks and hope the shots start falling. Either that or Doc has to seriously consider benching him in favor of a more consistent performer. Eddie House as the two guard wouldn't be an outrageous choice at this point. Or, if you want to take an iffy shot, Tony Allen. He's one of the better defensive players available, at least, and he does have some mighty fine offensive tools at his disposal, although his lack of experience under pressure may be deadly.

On the other hand, Rajon Rondo has been wonderful. He keeps getting the "can't shoot" label from the media, but he keeps putting the ball in the hole. He reminds me, in many ways, of Doug Flutie. No matter how many times Flutie flung the ball downfield, many commentators continued to question his arm strength right up until he retired.

Some folks bring intangibles to the table. And some folks will never see those intangibles. That's just the way life is. Rondo is a very special basketball player. I wouldn't want anyone else running the offense. He, rather than Ray Allen, is now the third part of the "Big Three", IMHO.


See you soon.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Win 10 (Crummy) CDs!

Every so often, I’m hit by an uncontrollable desire to do something insane. This used to manifest itself in behaviors such as doing large amounts of illegal drugs – those that could blow up my heart, like cocaine, becoming particular favorites near the end of my recalcitrant youth – or perhaps with forays into gambling that I could barely afford. As I’ve aged, I’ve been able to limit myself to one hideously unhealthy habit – smoking – and sublimated the rest of my risk-taking into things that might actually have benefited me in some way; fast-pitch softball, for example.

You’ve probably heard me say it far too many times, but I’ll repeat it again for those who might be new around here: I’ve retired from playing ball. I’ll still be a part of the teams I once played for, as coach and/or statistician, but that doesn’t quite do it for me, insofar as raising my adrenalin levels is concerned. I still need something else. As a result, although I’ve been a fan of the Celtics, Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins, and Boston College for many years, I’ve now become somewhat more dependent upon the sporting teams I root for to provide me with a high.

Lucky for me, the Celtics have had a wonderful season. I’ve been able to ride along into the playoffs with Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, and the rest of this very entertaining team. As a bonus, the coaching of Doc Rivers is definitely enough to raise my blood pressure a few points and put me at risk of a stroke, so that has certainly been a delight for a demented thrill seeker like me.

(Honestly. Does the man have any clue? There have been 82 regular season games, as well as 14 playoff games, and he still has no idea from one night to the next what his rotations are going to be. His starting five is set, and that’s good. But as to who’s coming off of the bench at any point in the game, I think he just goes “Eenie-meenie-minie-mo, now’s the time for Leon Powe!” or, perhaps, “My mother and your mother were hanging out clothes – My mother punched your mother right in the nose – What color was the blood? P. J. Brown!”)

All of the above, as disjointed and disconnected as it truly is, leads to this seemingly even-more-random-than-you-would-have-thought-possible sentence: I cleaned my bedroom last week.

Yes, there’s nothing I won’t do to get the rush I need. Danger is my middle name.

Now to be honest, "cleaned" is not quite the correct word in this instance. What I did was take a bunch of crap off of a desk. This created an empty space that I will fill with different crap, sooner or later. In the meantime, I have a pile of CDs that need a good home. I could put them back into the empty space, but they’re really crummy CDs and I want to save that space for something more meaningful; perhaps the remaining hair on my head, which I will yank out the next time Doc Rivers tosses the dice, comes up with eleven, and inserts "Big Baby" Davis for almost the entire fourth quarter of a playoff game.

(Davis is a good, hustling, likable player. He’ll be around in the NBA for many years, and I truly hope those years are with the Celtics. However, Leon Powe was such an outrageously obvious choice to have in there against the Cavaliers in game six, rather than Davis, that I think perhaps Doc Rivers is doing hallucinogens. Powe is superior to Davis, at this point in their careers, in just about every aspect of the game. Davis MAY have a better short jumper, and he is certainly a bigger body to put on someone, but Powe is easily the superior rebounder. The Celtics were getting their asses handed to them in the paint. They needed someone good off of the offensive boards in there. So, Doc Rivers said, “One potato, two potato, three potato, four – Davis can eat more potatoes than Powe! Get in there, Davis!”)

(OK. No more Doc Rivers bashing. After all, he’s gotten it close enough to right this year to win 74 of the 96 games the team has played. Everything he did yesterday worked, that's for sure. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps in game six he was privy to information I didn’t have. Maybe Leon Powe came down with polio overnight.)

So, I believe when last we met outside of the parentheses, I was telling you about how I have 10 (crummy) CDs that need a new home. That would be YOUR home! That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. Here’s where you get yours!

If you’ve been hanging around at this address for any reasonable length of time, then you know that my taste in music is execrable. I have been known to admit publicly that I actually enjoy Grand Funk Railroad. I am probably the only American alive with a collection of every recording made by Budgie. I have the complete works of Bloodrock, something that most members of the group themselves probably wouldn’t fess up to. What this means to you is this: If I think these 10 (crummy) CDs are crummy, you might think they’re pretty good, because you might have normal tastes in music.

Now, having raised your expectations so slightly, I have to come up with a fair way to distribute these 10 (crummy) CDs. And what better way to tie this mess together than to announce a contest involving the Celtics? Yes, as is the case with most junkies, I would like to see you become as addicted as I am. To that end, I will have you watch the Celtics (or, at least, follow the scores of the games) over the next week or two.

In the comments section, please leave your best guess as to how many points the Celtics will score between May 20th and June 16th. The person coming closest to the actual total will win the 10 (crummy) CDs.

To sweeten the pot, if anyone guesses the EXACT total, I will throw in a $25 gift certificate to Amazon.

If you’re not a Celtics fan (heathen!) here are some facts you should know in order to make at least an educated guess.

There is a possibility of 14 games being played during that time period. There will be AT LEAST 4 games. The number will depend upon whether the Celtics are eliminated from the playoffs in straight sets by Detroit (4 games) or win some games, and maybe even win the NBA Championship (I hope, I hope, I hope, I hope.)

The score of one NBA team, during any particular game, could run from about 60 up to 150. A more rational expectation would be from 75 to 125. In my humble opinion, the Celtics will likely score between 80 and 110 per game.

There you have it. Figure out how far you think the Celtics will go, and how many points they’ll score in getting there. Give me that number in the comments section. The person who comes the closest to the actual total will win the 10 (crummy) CDs. And you may get lucky and win a real honest-to-goodness $25 gift certificate. What have you got to lose?

(One entry per person. Deadline is 7pm EST, Tuesday, May 20th. Winner will be decided either at the end of the NBA playoffs or on the night the Celtics are eliminated from competition. I will cover the cost of shipping. In the event of a tie, I will come up with some suitably absurd tiebreaker. The decision of the judges – as if there were any – is final. When you receive the 10 [crummy] CDs, you are not allowed to ship them back to me. If you do so, I will come to your house and cave in your skull with a hammer.)

Make your best guess, and GO CELTICS! In the meantime, I’m going to go do something extremely life-threatening. I think it’s called "work."

Soon, with more better stuff.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

How NOT To Write A Cover Letter

(This is a re-print. I published it so long ago, though, I feel it's not really cheating you to put it out here again. Considering the source [me] it's surprisingly good advice.)


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.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Cow Innards

                                           (photo from FoodAndPaper )

Apparently, I'm not everyone's cup of tea. As a matter of fact, it appears that I'm some folk's beef guts.

Yesterday's rant - which concerned the buying of milk, and whether or not it should be put into a bag upon checkout - garnered many interesting comments. Those made at this website were uniformly nice in tone, even when the person making the comment didn't agree with me. I can live with that. I did ask for comments, after all. However, when the page was linked from another site (the very wonderful Universal Hub, administered by the equally wonderful Adam Gaffin) the comments took on a decidedly nastier tone. For instance...

By anon (not verified) | Mon, 05/12/2008 - 9:56am

Fifteen paragraphs. Sounds like a need to fill blog space. If you don't have any thing to say, don't say it. No one needs your blog entry today.

Actually, I believe it was 21 paragraphs.

By pierce | Mon, 05/12/2008 - 10:13am

why link to this tripe?

Adam was kind enough to give his rationale for linking to the tripe...

Because I'm also easily annoyed?
By adamg | Mon, 05/12/2008 - 10:15am

No, don't worry, I don't have to pop blood-pressure pills at the supermarket or anything, but when I saw the post, I thought, yeah, why don't they just put the milk in a bag. And, yeah, my life must be going pretty well if that's what I think about.

Indeed. My life is damned nice, too. That's why I think about things like my milk not being bagged. I can afford to do so. However, I certainly didn't expect to have my writing compared to a pot roast's offal.

Oh, well. I suppose I should consider the source. Or, I would consider the source, if I knew the source. "Pierce" comments quite a bit over at U-Hub, but beyond commentary there, I have no idea who he/she is. The same for "Anon", of course. This is a major problem with teh interwebs. Folks can take pot(roast)shots at you and leave you no real target to return fire at. Which is actually OK, because I have no desire to get into a flame war. All I wanted to do yesterday was vent a bit of steam, which I tried to do in a manner that might give a small laugh or two along the way. If someone doesn't like my writing - or even considers it the equivalent of the 1st, 2nd and/or 3rd stomach of a ruminant - that's life. Degustibus Non Est Disputadum, as my grandfather used to say whenever anyone complained about the swastika tattoo on his forehead.

Some folks felt that I truly hated the baggers and considered myself a superior life form.

By Whit (not verified) | Mon, 05/12/2008 - 11:01am
Baggers are in an impossible situation. If they ask if you want a bag they get shit, and if they just stick stuff in a bag automatically they get shit. They cannot win. Think about you position in the food-chain. Where is the bagger? What kind of position are you in that you feel it is justifiable to be a little bitch and scowl and moan at a GROCERY STORE BAGGER! People in this society are so goddamed unaware of themselves that they don't know how to behave with each other and take out their aggression and frustrations on the weak at every opportunity. Just tell the guy you do or don't want whatever in a bag.

To which I replied...

I assure you that I do not berate baggers or cashiers. Every person I interact with at the market gets a smile from me, and they give me smiles in return. When I ask that they put my milk in a bag, I say, "Please."

I do believe I said that I refuse to use self-checkouts. This is mainly because the folks at the store know me, I know them, we like each other, and I see no reason for me to hasten their losing their jobs.

Do I really need to keep spelling out that I exaggerate somewhat for comic effect?

(Whether you find the effect comic is up to you. De Gustibus Non Est Disputadum, as my grandfather used to say as he projected porno on the side of our house.)

Another fellow seemed to feel that I was looking for a rationale to be cheap.

Quit whining... By stephencaldwell | Mon, 05/12/2008 - 10:31am And just buy the tote bags. It's not as though that 99c (the price at Stop & Shop) is going to drain your coffers (at least I hope it doesn't).

Again, I replied.

Thank you, Adam, for the link. And for the defense. You're a nice guy.

Anon, Pierce, et al - Adam has done you a service. You now know not to visit my blog in the future. I know it was painful to go there this time and discover cow innards. Next time you see my stuff linked, you'll know better.

StephenCaldwell - I'm hardly going to be broken by coughing up 99 cents or whatever. The point was that the markets will actually save money, in the long run, if they give the bags away. In addition, they will be helping to save the environment.

I had hoped that I put enough small bits of humor into the piece to let readers know that I wasn't really going to pop a cap in some bagger's ass if my milk remained bagless. Humor is subjective, of course, so if you didn't read it that way, my bad, I guess.

I'll be the first to admit that I don't take criticism very well. If I felt that I was writing something that would annoy so many people, I probably wouldn't have published it. It is never my intention here to polarize or alienate. And yesterday was just me writing about one of the little things in life that annoys me. Not a big deal. I assumed it would be taken in the spirit with which it was intended: just an obviously overblown rant concerning something fairly inconsequential. Some folks would agree, some would disagree. Some would give me good suggestions, which many of you did and I thank you. The last thing I expected was invective, and to have my writing compared to bovine entrails.

Oh, well. Some folks consider tripe a delicacy.

(Unfortunately, I'm not one of them. Yuck! The stuff grosses me out.)

Tomorrow, or the next day, I'll be back with something utterly non-controversial; something that the most contentious person in the world might not have a problem with. I think maybe I'll do a piece about how puppy dogs are really swell, especially when compared to Hitler.

Then again, when somebody believes that your writing is comparable to Bossie's digestive tract, there isn't much you can do to please them, I suppose. Oh, and Anon? You're what I write about when I want to fill space with nothing.

Soon, with non-Nazi puppy dogs.

Milk? Bag? Yup.

MY WIFE thinks I’m crazy. She believes I’m the only person in the world that is pissed off by what I’m going to write about here. I don’t think so. I think a whole bunch of folks might be torqued about this, but most of us don’t speak up about it. It’s not something that the fate of the world is hinging upon, and it’s easily forgotten until the next time it happens, so that may be why nobody else ever rants about it. When I’m done, give me your honest opinion. If you agree with me, let me know. If you don’t care one way or another, that’s OK. And if you think I’m a looney tune as well, so be it.

The next time I’m at the supermarket, and I have to ask to have my milk put in a bag, I’m going postal. I want my milk in a bag. If I have to ask one more time, I’m going to end up putting somebody’s head in a bag.

Why is it that milk is the only thing the bagger at the supermarket won’t automatically put in a bag? If you buy laundry detergent, it gets put in a bag. A bottle of dishwashing liquid? Into a bag it goes. Every other thing that comes in a bottle or jar finds itself in a bag after checkout. Cream - which is just milk with a college education - gets put in a bag. Hell, if you buy some paper bags, they put the paper bags into a bag. The only thing they don’t automatically put into a bag is milk. Why? What in the name of Satan’s left testicle has milk done to offend these people?

(Even Satan’s balls are in a bag, but not my milk.)

I like milk. I drink it with most meals. Every week, I buy two gallons of milk. And every week I have to ask these maroons to put my milk into a bag. Why?

It’s not that I’m an idiot who can’t figure out how to carry the milk by the handle provided on the milk container. And I’m not trying to set some sort of record for plastic bag consumption by having every item put into separate environment-befouling receptacles. I’d be happy as a clam at high tide if they didn’t put my six-pack of toilet paper in a bag. I can carry that just fine without a bag, thanks, and maybe even better than I can when it’s in a bag. It doesn’t quite fit in the bag and I end up carrying it in the crook of my arm anyway. However, there are actually good reasons for putting my milk into a bag. To wit:

1) Milk is perishable. When sunlight hits milk, it begins a chain reaction that will result in my milk turning into cheese. If I wanted cheese, I would buy cheese. And, if I bought cheese, they’d put it into a bag.

2) Containers of milk sweat. When they are taken from the refrigerated dairy case and put into a warmer environment (the trunk of my car) they become moist. And anything moist in the trunk of my car will collect grime. I do not want to deposit a grimy milk bottle into my refrigerator where it will befoul the rest of my food, nor should it be incumbent upon me to clean the damn milk bottle before it goes in the fridge.

3) It is much easier for me to carry my two gallons of milk if they are both put into one bag. If I have to carry two gallons of milk outside of a bag, all I can carry for that one trip between my car and the house is the two gallons of milk, one in each hand. If my two gallons of milk are in a bag, I not only can use my other hand to carry additional sacks of groceries, but I can probably hook one or two sacks onto the same hand as that which is carrying the milk. Putting my milk into a bag saves me at least one trip between the car and the house, possibly two.

I spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $80 a week on groceries. That works out to over $4,000 a year. Is it too much to ask that, for that sort of money, my milk get treated equally to every other freakin' thing I buy? I don’t have to ask for anything else to be bagged; it just happens, as a matter of course. Why is it considered such an odd request if I ask for my milk to be bagged?

Honestly, when I ask the bagger to put both of my gallons of milk into one bag, he or she looks at me as though I’ve lost my mind. OK, I understand that it’s not just the act of having my milk put into a bag that alarms them. What it is, is the fact that I want BOTH of them in the SAME bag. They believe that the bag can’t handle such a load. Or else they believe that I can’t. Either way, it’s insulting. Either they believe that I don’t have enough intelligence to figure out the load capacity of a bag, or they believe that I’m too weak to carry such an enormous load. Well, I have never had a bag break from the weight of two gallons of milk, nor have I ever suffered a dislocated shoulder from having such an amazing amount of weight depending from my fingers. Quit looking at me like I just asked you to give me a blowjob behind the deli counter and put my milk in the friggin’ bag, you idiot.


I have a whole bunch of other things I could rail about concerning supermarkets. For instance, why is it that the dope in charge of my local market decided that the frozen foods section should be relocated in the middle aisle of the store? Now, no matter which end of the store I begin my shopping trip from, I pick up my frozen items halfway through. By the time I reach the checkout, after traversing another five or six aisles, the frozen items have begun to thaw. Placing the frozen foods on the side of the store – as was the case previously – makes much more sense.

Another thing: What’s the deal with the sudden proliferation of self-checkouts? It’s not my job to ring up the groceries. I mean, sure, if I got some benefit from doing it, maybe I’d think it was swell. Give me 5% off and we might do business. But all you’re doing is putting cashiers out of work, making me do the work instead, and keeping your prices the same or still raising them. I’ll keep going to the checkouts staffed with cashiers, thanks just the same.

Similarly, there’s this rack of self-scanners available at the entrance to the store. The idea is for a shopper to grab one on the way in. Then, every time something is added to the cart, the shopper (that would be ME) scans the item. Again, not my job. Oh, I suppose in both cases I could work it so that I’d get that 5% off we discussed before (or maybe 50% off, for that matter) but... well, wait a minute. I’ll have to explore these options a bit further. Nevermind.

Sorry. We’ve become sidetracked. I came here to discuss my milk and its state of unbaggedness.

Now, to be fair, MY WIFE has suggested that I take reusable tote bags to the market. If I do, she says, I won’t get the incredulous stares from the bagger when I ask that my two gallons of milk be put into one bag. The reusable totes are visibly strong enough to handle such a thing, so if the bagger gives me the stinkeye, I’ll know it’s because my fly is down or something else besides the fact that I'm asking them to bag my milk. I’d also be doing my bit for the environment, blah, blah, blah. However, this brings up another gripe. Why are the supermarkets selling these tote bags? If they’re so damned concerned about saving the environment, they should be giving them away. And, if they gave them away, they’d save money in the long run, because they wouldn’t have to keep buying the one-time-use bags.

Enough. Now is the time when you weigh in with your opinion. Am I just a grumpy old fart making a big hairy deal out of nothing? Let me know. In the meantime, I’m going to stuff an envelope full of anthrax and get ready to mail it to the supermarket, just in case you agree with me and the revolution is on.

Soon, with more better stuff (unless my milk turns into cheese, in which case all bets are off.)

(The pictured milk comes from Tuscan Farms. I have never had Tuscan Farms milk. However, theirs was the best picture I could steal. I have no doubt they are fine folks who will gladly put your milk in a bag.)

Friday, May 09, 2008


Well, it's that time of year again. Mothers Day is this Sunday. As well, my Mom's birthday is a week from today. So, once again I am taking the cheap way out and re-publishing the following piece, rather than buying my Mom a Mothers Day card.

I rather tediously go on about this sort of thing in the first three paragraphs of what follows. However, as further proof that I am not a hideous son, I offer the following e-mail I received from my Mom only this morning. It is in reply to my asking her what she'd like to do on Mothers Day, if anything.

"I think it would be nice for us all to meet at xxxxx's, since you haven't seen her new house or met her new husband (or have you?). Mother's Day is one of those big rip-off days as far as I'm concerned..."

So, in honor of that big rip-off day - and in the same spirit - here's the same piece I've run around this time the previous three years. You can look forward to my trotting it out for an airing every year after this, too.


First, an explanation.

You know how some people have a birthday on or around Christmas and it kind of gets lost? It just sort of gets melded into the larger holiday and that person gets somewhat cheated out of two special days? My Mom's birthday is like that. She was born on May 16th, so her birthday always falls within a couple of days of Mothers Day. As a result, some people believe she gets the short end of things from me.

However, I'll tell you that my mother isn't all that worried about it. A shallow person she is not. She is very intelligent and she understands the situation. This is not to say that she wouldn't want two parties or two bunches of gifts or two of whatever; everybody likes twice as much good stuff if they can get it. But she understands. And I love her all the more for understanding that I love her just as much, even though I sometimes may not show her how much twice in the same week.

This is my birthday card to my mother. You may or may not "get" everything I write here, but she will and that's what matters. These are mainly just short fond memories of times I treasure; times I had with my mother and things we did together. The greater parts of them are from my childhood. So are the pictures, which look the way they do because I only barely know how to use a scanner and photoshop. If I waited until I knew what I was doing before publishing, this space would be blank for about a decade.

I suppose it makes sense to start with the usual Mom-type stuff.

She wiped my tears and bandaged my scraped knees and kissed my boo-boos and made them better. She vacuumed and made the beds. She did the laundry - early on with an actual washtub and scrub board and wringer - and she hung the clothes to dry on the clothesline in the backyard (or, in the winter, on a clothesline we had strung in the cellar) and a bit later we got a dryer. She did the ironing while watching Loretta Young and Mike Douglas. She was almost always ironing when I got home from school, it seemed.

She nursed me through all the usual illnesses and gifted me with my first copy of MAD magazine during one of them, and thank you for trusting me at such a young age with such revolutionary material, Mom. She put patches on my pants, as I needed them.

(Does anybody put patches on pants anymore?)

She gave me eggnog to drink for breakfast - an actual egg stirred into a big glass of milk, perhaps with chocolate syrup. Those were the days when it was considered healthy to feed your child eggs and milk every day, even raw eggs - maybe especially raw eggs. She gave me vitamins.

(One time, I decided that if a single vitamin tablet was good for you, then taking a whole bottle might turn me into Superman. Mom was the one who called the doctor.)

She packed my lunchbox with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, slices of apples or oranges, usually a cookie or two, and always a thermos of milk.

(How many thermoses did I break? Many. You'd drop one of the things and hear that shattering of the insides and you knew without checking that your milk now had big shards of glass in it. Mom always bought me a new one.)

She made dinners of swordfish or fish sticks or tuna casserole. My Dad did much of the cooking, and he hated fish, but when he wasn't around Mom made sure I got enough of the seafood that I loved. She would buy salmon and tuna just for me to eat straight from the can - something I still do often, although now I might spoon it out onto a plate first. She made me macaroni and plain tomatoes, still one of my favorite simple dinners - and one that, as it turns out, is quite healthy.

We would do some cooking together. We made peanut butter cookies. We made bread pudding. She would bake a cake and I would graciously help out by licking the bowl clean. I was always glad to do my part.

Sometimes, we would go out to eat, just Mom and me. We might go to the Liberty Deli in Lower Mills, or perhaps we would end up at a restaurant called Colstone's in downtown Boston. Both of these would be places we visited after we had been to church to say a prayer and light a candle. The Deli after Saint Gregory's; Colstone's after Arch Street. She would put a coin in the poor box at church and let me light the votive candle. She taught me to pray and she taught me reverence for holy places. She gave me a great sense of God as benevolent and likely to listen to me. It was, and is, a good thing.

She sang, always. She loved to sing; still does. She sang standards around the house. She had a lovely voice; still does. She and her sister, Jeannette, actually had their own radio show when they were teenagers, on WJDA in Quincy. The story, as I remember it, was that they had spoken to the station manager and complained that there wasn't enough programming for teenagers. He told them that if they thought so, maybe they could come up with some themselves. They said, "OK" and went on the air. Pretty gutsy stuff, that.

I owe my livelihood to my Mom. Even before I went into kindergarten, she was teaching me to read. I was always the best reader in my class in school. I am still one of the best readers I know and I work with professional readers every day. Without that early acquisition of knowledge, provided by Mom, I wouldn't have the job I have today. I am very grateful for that.

She taught me an absolute love for the written word and she taught me that acquiring knowledge doesn't have to be a drag. She would buy me books at every possible opportunity. I still have a half-shelf of Golden Library Of Knowledge books, which she bought for me - one at a time - from a store downtown every two or three weeks. I learned about dinosaurs and the planets and insects and the elements and animals from far off lands, and learned about them before I had to learn about them in school. I glided through much of elementary school because my Mom gave me such an enormous head start.

While I was in school, she kept a scrapbook. It is in my possession now. Entitled "Jimmy's School Years", it is an amazingly embarrassing collection of inept crayon drawings, declining-in-quality-as-I-moved-into-high-school report cards, class photos (who are half these people?), and other assorted ephemera from my times at the Gilbert Stuart, Boston Latin, the Woodrow Wilson, Boston Latin (again), and finally, Boston Tech. Grades K through 12 wrapped up in one overstuffed segmented package. While it is embarrassing, even for me to look at in private, I am so very thankful she did it.

I remember something I wasn't thankful for and which non-thankfulness I have been ashamed of ever since. One day, when I was perhaps four or five, Mom came home from a trip downtown and she had a small present for me. It was these two small replicas of phonograph records, one reading "YES" on the tiny label in the middle, and the other "NO". I don't know what their actual purpose was, but I suspect they were part of some advertising gimmick. I seem to remember that they came from Filene's Basement, but I may be mistaken.

Anyway, she had had a small little nice thought when handed them by whomever - "I'll bring these home and maybe Jimmy would like to play with them". My Mom came in and handed them to me, saying something to the effect of she wasn't sure if I wanted these but, if I did, I could have them. I behaved like a bratty little shit and said I didn't want them; why would I want them?; something entirely ungrateful. Maybe I was expecting something else from her for some reason? I don't know.

(Silly thing to remember, but I do. And I am ashamed about it. I was ungrateful for a gift given with love. Now, I'm almost willing to guarantee that my Mom doesn't have the slightest idea what I'm talking about. She remembers good stuff about me and forgets bad stuff. Well, I apologize anyway, Mom, and now I feel better.)

Well, you see, I'm getting into small weird things here and, if I keep on like this, it will be a book before long and even then it won't feel like enough. In the interests of getting this thing published by her actual birthday, I'm going to just list a few things now, things that - if you aren't my Mom - may well sound bizarre or psychotic or both. She'll read each and every one, slowly and lovingly, and have memories - perhaps many memories, and strong - conjured by each.

You were the savior of Davy and the unfortunate bearer of bad news concerning Tippy.

You were Sugar's midwife, twice, and every cat's best friend, always.

You were the teacher and player of Fish, Casino, Rummy 500, Chinese Checkers.
You were my pass to the cafeteria at Prudential and then to shuffleboard in the employee lounge afterwards.

You are the gatekeeper of the "For Now" room.

You were the grower of the rose bush, the tiger lilies and my willow tree.

You gave me a box of kitchen matches and a bowl of water.
You were the magician who made stars appear on my bedroom ceiling.

You allowed my jumps down the stairs and piled the pillows to land on.

You put up with marbles in the bathtub.

You made me believe that the second half of The Wizard Of Oz was in glorious color even though I was watching it on a black-and-white television.

You came to see me play at McCarthy's and you actually stayed through the second set.

You were the buyer of South Station bowling.

Your room had the jewelry box filled with shiny things and a Kennedy/Johnson campaign button, the atomizer, the radio that played Jess Cain every morning, and sunbeams that never were as warm after you left.

You were the person with me as I watched The Flintstones, The Addams Family, Camp Runamuck, Hank, Bewitched, That Girl, Fractured Flickers, The Hathaways, It's About Time and I'm Dickens, He's Fenster. At the very least, three of those were shows you really were not terribly fond of, but you watched them with me anyway.

You brought me to a brave radical church and I gained a new circle of friends.

You introduced me to MY WIFE.

You were the saver of newspapers - "Kennedy Assassinated", "Man Walks On Moon", "Red Sox Win Pennant" - and I wish to hell I had been the saver of them, too.

You were the person I reported the Dow Jones to every night. Why? I haven't the foggiest notion.

You were the person who brought me the news of a death of a person I knew; the first death I actually felt and understood the finality of. "Ma died", you said. And you held me close and I knew that in this world where people I had imagined as permanent were not, your love was.

You are possibly the fairest person in the world. At the very least, you always listen to everybody and give serious consideration to their thoughts and feelings. I've inherited some of that, but not nearly enough.

You were my traveling companion on the railway in the sky that took us to Ma and Pa's for Easter.
You are the child at heart who played miniature golf and skeeball, took swings in the batting cage, ate ice cream sundaes and candy bars, and did assorted other young things with great relish and panache, on your 65th birthday.

All things considered, you're probably the best mother I've ever had.

(Hey, I got some of this sense of humor from you, you know, so stop rolling your eyes.)

Something like this could go on forever, but I'll close with this:

I've described a large number of idiotic episodes of my life on this blog and will no doubt relate many more. I've done things that were illegal, immoral, stupid, and that otherwise seemingly reflect badly on my upbringing. Every single one of those things came about through my own volition.

Meanwhile, every good quality I possess - and every good thing I've ever done - came about as a direct result of how I was raised. That may sound like hyperbole, but it is the absolute stone cold truth.

Thanks, Mom. Happy Birthday!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

My Hovercraft Is Full Of Eels

When last I left you, I had no voice. Or, at least, I had very little voice. This was not a good thing. I use my voice to make my living.

I had lost my voice via the expedient of shouting exhortations and curses. This was during game seven of the Boston Celtics NBA playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks. The exhortations, which were directed towards the Celtics, and the curses, which were directed towards the Hawks, worked. The Celtics won by a wide margin, thus enabling them to go forward into the next playoff round to battle the Cleveland Cavaliers.

I had tickets to game one of that series. This is because Balcony Gal and Balcony Guy - from whom I had obtained the tickets to game seven - had another scheduling conflict. They offered the tickets to me and MY WIFE. I accepted (with a nod of my head, since I had little voice and didn’t wish to strain the meager amount I had left.)

In order to be able to still do my job, I had to refrain from vocal activity during my everyday activities. My voice had to rest, big time, or else I might do permanent damage to it. I most certainly couldn’t blow it out again during another Celtics game. I could not shout encouragement at the Celtics. Nor could I shout curses at the Cavaliers, a much harder thing to control. When LeBron James is on the court, and your team is playing against him, it is very hard to control the urge to shout epithets.

James is a magnificent basketball player. He can carry a team, and has. However, no referee has ever called a foul on LeBron James that he deserved, at least according to LeBron James. I don’t believe there has ever been an instance of his being called for a foul and him acknowledging that he did, indeed, commit one. I may be wrong. Maybe he owned up to it once, back in his rookie season. I’d have to look it up. As a matter of fact, I think I will. Excuse me for a minute.

(*flips through NBA record book*)

Nope. Not one.

Anyway, LeBron shouldn’t be expected to acknowledge that he commits fouls. The NBA has told him, time and again, that many of the fouls he commits are, in actuality, not fouls at all.

The NBA has the weirdest officiating of any sport. There is openly acknowledged bias. The referees have a hierarchical system in mind when they call a game. Everybody, from the players and the announcers on down to the lowliest casual fans, knows this. Here is how the hierarchy is constructed.


In addition, when there is a tie between positions on the hierarchy, the call will go to the home team more often than not.

(This depends somewhat upon the score at the time. The team trailing will usually be given the benefit of the doubt more often than the team leading.)

Now, the chart does not usually apply to clear fouls. They are called as they appear, because if there is no room for argument, the hierarchy is not referred to. However, say there’s a call that could go either way; perhaps a blocking/charging call. Is it an offensive foul or a foul on the defender? Refer to the chart above. If the man with the ball is a veteran, and the defender is a rookie, the call will go to the veteran every time. The announcers of games even say as much right in the broadcasts. They say, “Joe Shlabotnick hasn’t been in the league long enough to get those calls.” And nobody from the league office says a peep to the network or announcers, because they know it’s true and so does everybody else.

If you think I’m exaggerating for effect, you haven’t seen enough NBA games.

LeBron has been a star since day one. Thus, he has had the benefit of the doubt from the officials since the first time he stepped onto an NBA court. And he expects to get the majority of the calls (or non-calls) and he does, too. So, why shouldn’t he whine a bit when the unexpected happens and one goes against him?

Getting back to what’s truly important around here – ME - I would have to sit silently in my seat at the game. I could not jump to my feet and scream, “You crybaby! Wah, wah, wah! Siddown!” Nor could I cheer on the Celtics with shouts of “DEE-fense (thump, thump) DEE-fense (thump, thump) DEE-fense!”

If you say that it makes no difference whether I chant and taunt, you would be wrong. Part of the advantage that comes with home court in the NBA is the noise level. It is up to the fans to disorient the enemy. The louder it is when they have the ball, the harder it is for them to operate. This is because the opposition are always wusses with tender ears, I guess. Also, the noise level of the crowd can sway the officiating (but only on exactly equal calls; the hierarchy chart applies all other times.)

So, what to do? I wanted to do my bit for the cause, but, as much as I love the Celtics, I couldn’t destroy my means of making a living.

MY WIFE, knowing my dilemma, stepped up and became the hero of the evening.

Understand that MY WIFE does not yell and scream. And I mean ever. She is generally a very quiet person. This applies not only to sports, but also to life in general. For instance, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times she has raised her voice in anger. Hell, I could count them on the fingers of Jim Abbott’s right hand. And, when it comes to sports, she is a very casual fan. This is not to say she doesn’t know the difference between a free throw and a throw pillow, but she could go on living her life very serenely if, for some reason, basketball disappeared from the face of the earth.

However, she knew my situation. And she knew my propensity for doing what is not in my best interests. Even though I might go into the game knowing that I shouldn’t say a single word, I was likely to have my emotions overtake my sense at some point. So, she took over for me and never gave me a chance to croak myself. As the situation called for it, she chanted (“DEE-fense! [thump, thump] DEE-fense! [thump, thump]) and cajoled (“Let’s go Celtics!” [clap - clap - clap,clap,clap]) and yelled (“That was traveling! He walked!”) and jeered (“Boo! Bad call!”) and was almost as entertaining as the game itself, actually.

I’d be lying if I told you it wasn’t a big kick to see MY WIFE jumping out of her seat to cheer. It was an even bigger kick to see her throw her head back and let loose with a big scream of delight when James Posey hit two free throws at the end to seal the game. Would that I had something in my arsenal to elicit such a response from her.

(Actually, I do. She loves me enough to scream like that at a basketball game when I couldn’t do it for myself. She was screaming like that for me. Well, at least that’s what I’m telling myself, and I will not be disabused of that notion.)

The Celtics won, 76 – 72. It was an ugly game for the most part. The defense was strong on both sides, but I think it was also a matter of the offense being weak. LeBron shot an amazingly horrific 2 for 18, and he turned the ball over 10 times. It was easily the worst game of his professional career. For the C’s, Paul Pierce scored 4 points and Ray Allen was held utterly scoreless for the first time since his rookie season 12 years ago.

(Interesting statistical anomaly: Pierce and Allen exactly matched LeBron in futility. They shot a combined 2 for 18, and also turned the ball over 10 times between them.)

I did not shout. I did not cheer. I did not taunt. I did not jeer. I did not eat green eggs and ham while Sam I Am shot his three-pointers. MY WIFE did all of that for me, and so my voice is fairly much back to normal now. And that brings us to the title of this piece, which must have had you scratching your head in wonderment.

Following the game where I lost my voice, I sent a recording of my ragged vocals to Balcony Gal, in order to show her what my passion had cost me. I figured she’d get a laugh out of it. She did. Later that same day, I received this from her:

That is Balcony Guy, although he doesn’t actually look like that now. He shaved off a beard he had sported for the past four or five months, and he had Balcony Gal shoot a few pictures of him in various stages of the process. The two of them have a fervent commitment to the funny, so they of course took some shots of him with that cheesy-looking moustache.

When they sent me the photo with caption, it was shown to a couple of people around the office. One of my co-workers was of the opinion that it looked uncannily like John Cleese’s facial expression during a particular Monty Python sketch.

As a matter of fact, I can't find a photo from that sketch showing the expression. So, to save time (and because I'm a lazy bastard) I went with the one below.

Anyway, in that sketch, Cleese plays a tourist who is using an English translation that is not only wrong, but also wholly absurd. And one of his lines is the title of this piece.

(Now, I could have just called this “A Dissertation Concerning Bias Amongst NBA Referees, Including More Praise Of MY WIFE”, but would that have brought a smile to your face? No.)

(Actually, if we're going for British comedians here, I think Balcony Guy looks more like Terry-Thomas than John Cleese, albeit with better dental work.)

Soon, with more better stuff.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Best Weekend EVER - Sunday

Yesterday, I left off at the old-time radio reenactment. One more bit to talk about concerning that, then on to Sunday.

Many moons ago, when I worked as a security guard (a tale I'll tell someday soon) I struggled to find things that would keep me awake and alert. This is because I almost exclusively worked the midnight to 8 shift. My favorite nights to work were Friday and Saturday. This is because Morgan White Jr. had his radio show on those nights.

Morgan White Jr. is the absolute master of trivia. And his show at that time (on WMEX, I believe) was a pure joy for a trivia maven like myself. Since most of the show involved the asking and answering of trivia questions, it engaged the mind much more fully, for me, than music or other offerings available via my portable radio. I was constantly challenged by Mr. White and his listeners, and thus I'd stay awake (which was, of course, the minimum requirement for a security guard, but - as you'll see when I write about it someday - not always the case for me.)

On Saturday, Morgan White Jr. was in the audience. During the intermission, I finally got a chance to meet him, and to thank him for the many hours of engaging radio he had provided. I related that my Dad had actually worked with him for a very short time, on WMRE during the 1980's, and Morgan said he had some recollection of that. He was probably just being polite, but who knows? The man does have a prodigious memory.


On the way home from old-time radio, MY WIFE and I discussed our plans for Sunday. It was supposed to be the opening day of the season for The Bombers, my softball team of many years. Even though I retired from playing following last year, I'm still expecting to go to every game; to coach the bases, keep the book, or manage the team during any absence of Jack Atton, the current manager. What with the new development of having acquired tickets to the seventh game of a Celtics playoff series, it looked like I would have to miss opening day - or, at least, most of it. I hated to do it, but...

Anyway, it was drizzling as we drove home. I expressed my desire for it to either stop raining completely or to pour down from the heavens in buckets. In between is the absolute worst. Nobody is sure whether they'll play until they get a call from the manager, and he's not sure until he gets a call from the commissioner, and he's not sure until the head umpire decides what to do. Everybody would rather have a flood than a drizzle. At least you know where you stand.

For my part, I was hoping for the flood. That way, I wouldn't have to miss the opener and I could go to the Celtics game with a clear conscience, except for having wished a flood upon my softball teammates, of course.

We got home and went to bed. As I drifted off to sleep, I planned my Sunday. Since we have no internet at home, I'd have to get someplace to print out the Celtics tickets. Then I'd go to the softball game (if it wasn't rained out) and then get home to shower quickly, dress for the Celtics (green being the main theme, naturally) and then get to the game in the easiest/quickest fashion, whether that be via public transportation or auto. Rain would make it all much easier, logistically.


When I awoke at 7am, it was raining hard. It looked as though it was enough to cancel the scheduled softball games. The only thing lacking was the official phone call.

I dressed and drove over to my place of business. Once there, I glanced at my phone and saw that there was a voicemail message. I played it. It was MY WIFE, informing me that Jack Atton had called to say that the games were canceled. Yes!

(This was the first time in my entire life that I had been glad to hear that a sporting event was canceled. And probably the last, too.)

I logged onto my computer, got the e-mail containing the tickets, and then printed them. We would be on our way to game seven in just a couple of hours! In the meantime, I could be leisurely. Not quite enough time for another nap following graham crackers and milk, but you can't have everything.

(In the interest of saving your sanity, I'll skip past my ride home from the office, my shower, my breakfast, what TV shows we watched while waiting to leave, our ride to the game, parking, the actual entering of the arena, and any number of other trivial details I might have used to flesh this out had I not already rambled on for as long as I have.)

(Insert your praise to Jesus here. If not Christian, do a heathen happy dance.)

Well, the game was magnificent. The Celtics routed the Hawks, 99 - 65, and they now move on to face Cleveland and LeBron James. In my memory, the TD BankNorth Garden has never been louder. And that leads to the final bit of this tale.

Throughout the game, I yelled, shouted, screamed, hurrahed, cheered, jeered, chanted, taunted, and otherwise tried my damnedest to be louder than the other 20,000 fans in attendance. As a result, my voice is shot. As you might imagine, this was not a smart thing for a person who voices commercials for a living to do.

I'm rather amazed by this turn of events. I used to "sing" heavy metal. I'd growl, scream, shout; all the usual HM stuff. Never before have I lost my voice via overuse. It's a bit scary, actually, but I'm sure it will return to normal following a day or two of non-activity.

(I have no idea how to embed sound in a blog entry. If I knew how to do so, I'd give you a sample of my regular voice, and then a sample of me today. You'd laugh and laugh, I'm sure. If any of you also have a Blogger account and can give me instructions on how to do this, I'll try to amuse you.)

So, let me recap my weekend.

1 - Went shopping with MY WIFE and had lots of fun acting like a 51-year-old child.

2 - Ate cookies and took a nap.

3 - Scored tickets to game seven of an NBA playoff series involving my favorite team.

4 - Had dinner with some excellent relatives.

(I didn't go into detail about this earlier, in order to save you time. The food was good, the relatives were entertaining, we all laughed a lot. What more could a person ask for and reasonably expect?)

5 - Saw re-creations of excellent old-time radio shows, done by superbly talented performers.

6 - Met a radio personality I have always wanted to meet, and got to thank him for the many hours of pleasant entertainment he gave me.

7 - The one time in my life I wanted a softball game rained out, it happened.

8 - I saw the Celtics crush the Atlanta Hawks. I was part of one of the most intense and satisfying crowds I've ever had the pleasure being in.

I mentioned at the very beginning of this piece that my contentment came via the disappointment of others. Let's recount who had to suffer for my weekend to be the best EVER.

1 - Balcony Gal and Balcony Guy. They had to give up their tickets to the game.

2 - All 200 or so of the folks who participate, or otherwise have a stake, in my softball league. They were rained out.

3 - The entire city of Atlanta.

AND... upon coming into work yesterday, Balcony Guy told me that I could have the tickets for game one of the Cleveland series if I wanted them. He and Balcony Gal have a scheduling conflict.

If I wanted them? Well, does Hillary Clinton want... No, I used that joke in part one. Let's just say that I literally couldn't tell him "No". So, MY WIFE and I are headed back to the Garden tonight. Unlike last time, I will be the quietest person in attendance. However, I expect the other 20,000 screaming maniacs will be able to make up for my slack. And, in my heart? It'll be deafening.

Soon, with more better stuff.

P.S. MY WIFE will see the title of this piece and become slightly perturbed. You see, we were married on a weekend. Until now - truthfully - that has been the undisputed champion as best weekend in my life. Was this better? Well, it was still spent entirely in her company, so if I say, "Yes", she really shouldn't be pissed. Let's just say it was the best weekend ever in this century, and leave it at that.

P.P.S. I let MY WIFE read the rough draft of this whole thing. She liked it, and vouchsafed as to its truthfulness. However, she says that she comes off sounding like a bitchy elf. She's right, of course. For the sake of clarification, I would like to point out that MY WIFE is neither bitchy nor an elf. Thank you.