Friday, March 31, 2006

Chass > Shaughnessy

I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but it is undeniable now that I have become the type of guy who writes e-mails to sports columnists. This is behavior I find troubling, but I just can't help myself.

Most recently, the target of my venom was New York Times baseball writer Murray Chass, who uses his Sunday column to take a big crap on the Red Sox every two weeks or so. The offending column said the Sox were gambling by building a team with so many guys who played in the NL last year.

I won't bore you with the details, but suffice it to say I took exception to the paltry and scant facts he used to back his specious claim.

Ok. Another stupid Red Sox fan e-mails a maddening newspaper guy. No news there.

So imagine how surprised I was when he wrote back. And he was polite, to boot.

I was so happy, I wrote back to tell him I would keep reading his column, and that he was much better than that jerk Dan Shaughnessy, who's never had the courage to write me back.

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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Hostage? More like hot-stage!

Now that she has been released safely and we know that she was not physically harmed, I am ready to talk about the case of Boston-based reporter Jill Carroll.

What I've wanted to say since she was kidnapped in January is: Damn, girl looked good for a hostage. I mean, really, given the stress she must have been under, she didn't even have any break-outs. I can only hope I look so good if I'm ever abducted.

And on that, I'd like to ask my friends and family that they only supply good-looking photographs to the authorities, in case I am ever missing (or wanted). No red eye. No drunken smiles. No razor burn.

Thanks in advance.


Coma Baby Lives

As part of its quest to actually become the New York Post, the Boston Herald this week has picked a fight with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. In case you don't live here, or in case you do and you're wise enough not to spend 50 cents a day on this rag, I present this triptych, which just about sums it up.


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Finding the world's ugliest celebrity endorser

A friend and regular reader suggested, after seeing Duke basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski shilling for Chevy, that he is the world's ugliest celebrity endorser. The gauntlet thrown, I picked it up and tried it on for size.

(I should say here that for the purposes of this debate, I am only considering folks who were famous before they did their ads.)

Coach K. is a little rough around the edges, but I would offer that Dick Vitale is uglier in his DiGiorno's pizza ads. Let's not forget William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy for PriceLine. They're both pretty ugly.

And what about Diana Taurasi in that coffee ad, and showboat Lindsey Jacobellis for Dunkin' Donuts?

The prize, however, must go to the Postmaster General, Wilford Brimley, who gets his diabetes supplies from Liberty Medical, and wants you to as well.

Your thoughts?


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Devil Rays retaliated by throwing at Brian Daubach

Red Sox pitcher Julian Tavarez is such a man, he'll fight you with one hand in a glove and still hit you so hard your helmet pops off. Then he'll fight you and your two best friends.

If he's this exciting when the games don't count, imagine what we can expect in a September pennant race.


Monday, March 27, 2006

An open letter to the guy who goes through my recycling

Dear Garbage Diver,

You've been rooting through my trash for a couple years now, and I'm kind of worried that you might have developed the wrong impression about me. I'm not that much of a lush. Really, I'm not.

In my defense, I will say that there are two people in the household. Yes, the beer bottles are almost exclusively mine (You'll note that we'll be shifting back to Heineken and Amstel now that warmer weather is on the way), but I have help with the wine.

And don't you think that the recent wine trends shows growth in my pallet? No more Boones or Two-Buck Chuck, only the good stuff. And champagne, too, from time to time.

Now that that's out of the way, I do have a couple of questions.

I wonder -- should I recycle those bottles myself? How much money do you make off of them? Can't be much; your car is even crappier than mine. Plus I'd hate to rob you of your joy.

Taking out the recycling is one of my least favorite chores. How is it that you like it so much?

How did you get into this business? Do you take bank statements, too, or do you leave the identity theiving to others?

Do you have a territory? Is that why you gave me a filthy look that time I rescued the Sunday sports section?

Maybe you could post the answers in the comments section, or on your own blog.


P.S. I'm sorry I rarely rinse out the beer bottles. That must be pretty gross.

P.P.S. Those shitty raspberry beers belong to the upstairs neighbors. Ditto anything in a can.


Sunday, March 26, 2006

Prepare to crap your pants

The NaturalBlog's sister mentioned this a few weeks back, but I only now found a link: Snakes on a plane, people. Snakes on a plane.


Saturday, March 25, 2006

Dick Cheney is quite vanilla when he's not shooting people

You might've seen this somewhere else, but that won't stop me from passing it along.

"It" is the document Dick Cheney's advance people give to hotels where the Vice President is staying, with a list of his required amenities. Nothing too shocking here, like the flavored condoms or bowl-of-Skittles-with-all-the-purple-ones-picked-out type requests that you sometimes see from rock bands.

In fact, it's a little disappointing that the Veep is so predictable. Thermostat at 68, diet caffeine free soda, and -- of course -- the TV tuned to the official media partner of the White House, Fox News.

I just assume the instructions on where to put the coffin he sleeps in are on the reverse of this page.


Friday, March 24, 2006

Halfway to Payday (bars)

It's Day 23 of the NaturalBlog household's pledge to give up sweets for Lent. Resolve is low but morale is high as we reach the halfway point in our trudge through the desert of denial on our way back to the Chocolate City.

No shakes to report, or trouble sleeping, but no significant weight loss either. And that's unfortunate, given this week's news that the NaturalBlog's body mass index is far too high.


Thursday, March 23, 2006

Chelsea Clinton: Unavailable

Some gossip rag had an item this week about how Chelsea Clinton was spotted shopping in Boston with her new boyfriend. The story also said she still has a security detail, which I find interesting.

This is as good a time as any to admit to having had a crush on Chelsea Clinton since her dad ran for president in 1992. I admit she was a little awkward then, but so was I. She's gotten much prettier over the years, though some have suggested it wasn't an all-natural progression.

I suppose the time may've come and gone for me and Chelsea to be together, what with me being engaged and all. I guess we'll have to settle for being (Sidwell) friends, but I will say this: The guy she settles down with is getting the best father-in-law ever made, along with the worst mother-in-law in the history of the universe.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Finally, a reason to visit the Quad Cities

A bathroom supply company is out with its finalists for the Best Bathroom of 2005 award, which goes to a public restroom. The winner will be announced sometime next month.

Among the finalists are the Quad Cities International Airport in Moline, Illinois, as well as the Hemenways restaurant in Providence, R.I.

I have been to Hemenways, and must say I was pleased with the restroom. (I think I was more pleased with the oysters. Hopefully, the oysters won't be the reason you have to visit the Hemenways restroom.)

For me, the keys to a nice restroom are spaciousness, your choice of towels or hand-dryers, and absolutely under no circumstances should there be an attendant. I do not need an audience.

I think one of the best restrooms locally is at the the State Room in downtown Boston. It's like a Roman bath, really, and the water is very soft.

Your thoughts welcome.


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Who is Kevin Finnerty?

A quick (first-ever) spoiler alert for Sopranos fans who haven't seen Sunday's episode -- I'm going to talk Tony for a minute or two.

So where is Tony Soprano? Yes he's in a coma in a level one trauma center somewhere in New Jersey. But what about his bizarre dream sequence, in which he finds himself a non-descript Willy Loman, and takes on the identity of a man named Kevin Finnerty?

We first learn that Tony is marooned in Costa Mesa, Calif. when he looks up at a TV in a bar and sees news coverage of a fire, with the city name chyroned along the bottom of the screen. Flames closing in -- is he in hell? But the flames aren't there, so maybe it's purgatory; he is trapped there, unable to get home.

And what to make of the Buddhists who accost (and even slap) Kevin nee Tony in the hotel where he's staying? Do they signify a god angry with Tony over his life full of misdeeds?

What's more, what do we make of the fact that Tony's nom de coma Kevin Finnerty is an anagram for Never tiny fink? Is Tony going to turn state's evidence?


Monday, March 20, 2006

Goodbye Brandon Arroyo

The Red Sox traded wiry righty Bronson Arroyo for Cincinnati Reds outfielder Wily Mo Pena, and dorm-bound women all across eastern Massachusetts are wondering who will sing them sweet lullabies.

For the Sox, the deal signals they will tough it out with David Wells this season. It also portends well for seeing Jon Papelbon (German, not French, by the way) in the starting rotation. It does not portend well for seeing friend-of-Manny Enrique Wilson make the squad.

What about Wily? He has a lot of upside. He's 23, which means he comes cheap and his best years are ahead of him. If he played a full season, he might hit 30 homers, at least according to my friends at RotoChamps.

And, working in concert with Coco Crisp, he gives the Red Sox one of the most dynamically named outfields in the game.


How's your bracket

I am pleased to report that in my first year as my office's NCAA bracket guy (for entertainment purposes only) there will be no one charging that the fix is in. Unless, of course, I picked Ohio State to go to the Final Four just to throw them off the trail.

I went a respectable 22-10 in the first round and a reasonable 10-6 in the second, good enough for a third place tie.

I'd like to take this moment to chide a couple of my favorite teams who managed to not only disappoint me as a fan, but also mess up my bracket. UNC and Kansas, I'm looking at you.


Sunday, March 19, 2006

What daytime TV commercials say about people who watch daytime TV

They are homeowners who need cash now.

They or their partners are interested in natural male enhancement.

They have more than a passing interest in knowing that the average funeral now costs more than $6,000.

They are in the recruiting pool for the Army, Navy, and Marines -- but curiously not the Air Force.

They have mesothelioma and need attorney Jim Sokolove, or perhaps attorney Dane Shulman, to help them prove they got it from exposure to asbestos.

If successful, they might get a structured settlement. In which case they might need J.G. Wentworth, who can get them cash now.

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Saturday, March 18, 2006

Well that would explain all the time he spent in bars.

His 2006 Olympic Nikefication a rousing failure, Bode Miller has come clean about what the real trouble was: "Arousal-control."


Friday, March 17, 2006

The rest of the story

In case you sleepwalked (sleptwalked?) through this week...

Nether regions. If you want to become a citizen of the Netherlands, you're encouraged to show your tolerance by watching a video that shows a naked woman sunbathing and, later, two men kissing. I wish we did this in U.S. states. In Mass., you'd have to watch Ted Kennedy sunbathe. In Texas, you'd have to sit through a rodeo.

I'm only inspired by the poems of Nas. Need a laugh? Might I suggest you turn to Duke basketball star J.J. Reddick, and his poetry.

And speaking of basketball. The president met this week with an autistic kid who was the manager of his high school basketball team, until the coach put him in on senior night and he dropped 20 points in four minutes. This kid is great, a real life Rudy. He really is. But I saw the video and you should only get to meet the president when you score 20 while being guarded.

Yeah. That's right. I said it.


Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Wide World

Suddenly a buyers market. NFL owners looking to pad their team with big-mouthed wide receivers hit the jackpot this week when both Terrell Owens and Keyshawn Johnson were cut by the Eagles and Cowboys, respectively. Now that the market is flooded with divas, you have to wonder if their prices will come down.

Papi still awesome. David Ortiz has apparently not lost his home run stroke, though he may have forgotten how to hit anything else. His stats at the World Baseball Classic: 3-16, 3 HR. I should point out that he does have 8 walks, making his on-base percentage nearly three times his batting average.

It's Madness. The NaturalBlog is officially projecting that this year's NCAA 12-over-5 upset will be Texas A & M over Syracuse.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Curse of Jimmy James

It dawned on me while I was watching The Hebrew Hammer on Comedy Central the other day -- I really dislike what became of all the men who starred in NewsRadio.

Don't get me wrong, I loved that show. I thought it was hilarious. I even used it as inspiration when choosing a career. But it was really a kiss of death for most of the cast, and I'm not just talking about Phil Hartman.

Andy Dick was likable as the show's goofball, but now I can barely stand the sight of the guy. How could someone go from funny to not funny? He almost ruined Dude Where's My Car for me.

Joe Rogan is even worse. When he's not making people eat bugs, he's picking fights with college students on MySpace.

The saddest case might be Dave Foley, who playd Dave Nelson, because like Tony Danza he can only play people who have the same first name as him. He clings to show business as the host of Celebrity Poker on Bravo. He even admits how far he's fallen -- when Maura Tierney played poker on the show he asked the audience "Isn't it hard to believe that I used to be more famous than her?"


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Somewhere the Whammys are rejoicing

Game show host and minor celebrity Peter Tomarken died when a small plane he was piloting crashed into Santa Monica Bay off the California coast.

I was ready to make a joke about how a B-list star tried to die in an A-list way, but then I found out that Tomarken, 63, was flying a needy patient to the UCLA Medical Center.

So instead of making fun I will say that his 1980s hit (?) "Press Your Luck" is probably my most favorite game show of all time.

For more than 700 episodes, Tomarken guided us throw canned jokes and thousands of cries of "Big Bucks! Big Bucks! No Whammys! Stop!" It is with a heavy heart that I blog today.

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Monday, March 13, 2006

Curling, I just can't quit you

You may have thought curling had gone into another four-year hibernation, while we wait for the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver. But au contraire, even if the 2006 World Men's Championships weren't next month in Lowell, curling lives on each night of the week at the Broomstones Curling Club in Wayland, Mass., as careful curling observers already know.

The future Mrs. N-B and I were there Saturday night for the Learn to Curl class, where I skipped (in non-curl speak: captained) our team to a two end, 1-1 tie.

Our team was me, Mrs. N-B, a fat adult, and a fat eight-year-old. We were up against a similarly constituted opposing team, though in place of the fat kid, there was a guy who, by his own admission, curled "about nine times a week." We'll call him The Pro.

Mrs. N-B threw two great stones in the first end, but I couldn't deliver with my final two and left The Pro the chance to score one in his end.

In the second end, this time with the hammer, we really hit our stride. The fat guy and fat kid still couldn't manage to get any stones into regulation, but Mrs. N-B delivered what the pro called "the perfect stone" to hide on the eight-foot, directly behind an opponent guard. I followed that up with a shot right into the bullseye. The Pro did a single take out. I had a chance to lay two and give us a win, but I over-curled my shot, and we settled for a 1-1 tie.

Suffice it to say I have a new respect for the sisters Johnson, but I think I'll be able to take them by the time the 2010 games roll around.

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Sunday, March 12, 2006

Woke up this morning...

It's been almost two years since the last new episode of the Sopranos aired, so you'll have to forgive me for being a little hazy on what plot points you should watch out for when the show returns tonight.

If the show keeps true to form, we'll join the action months or maybe even years after we left it. Right off the bat, we should have answers to a couple of questions -- Have Tony and Carmela reconciled? Is Uncle Junior demented, alive, both or neither? And is Meadow too skinny, too fat or just right?

I can only assume that the show's writers and producers are regular readers, so I will tell them what I would like to see this season.

I want better mob business ventures; last season's HUD scam was uninspired.

I want more depth from A.J., and a better exploration of whether he'll get into the family business.

And I want to see Janice get whacked.

Will I get my wishes? I'll have to tune in to HBO tonight at 9 to find out.


Saturday, March 11, 2006

An incomplete list of things that didn't happen during jury duty

The NaturalBlog fulfilled his civic obligation yesterday, by spending four hours bored to tears in a jury room downtown. I am disappointed to report that I did not have a chance to shout "Objection!" at any time during my service. Here is a small listing of other things that I wished might've happened, but didn't.

  • I didn't see anyone wearing a robe.
  • No one said "I want the truth!"
  • A sleazy defense attorney didn't use a peremptory challenge on me.
  • I couldn't finish the Globe Friday crossword (hung up, in part, on a five-letter word for "court docket.")
  • Gene Hackman did not attempt to blackmail me in order to deliver a verdict for the gun industry.


Friday, March 10, 2006

Why is this man smiling?

Drunk driving, divorce, restraining orders? No problem, if you're the Big H.


Thursday, March 09, 2006

Find a better furniture commercial? I doubt it

Each region of the country has its own brand of annoying commercials. When NaturalBlog lived in Florida, it was used car salesman who screamed and pounded the hoods of the Econoline vans they wanted to sell you.

Here in New England, crappy ads for furniture companies are something of a cottage industry.

Bernie and Phyl's Discount Furniture features, of course, Bernie and Phyl. The only thing they have going for them is a celebrity endorsement from Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield. Without that, they're nothing. I have wondered for years who was who. Try figuring it out for yourself at left. Seeing the ads and hearing them talk doesn't help. Could they be the state's most famous gay couple?

There are the big boppers, Barry and Elliot Tatelmen, who shill for Jordan's. Why do the Tatelmens call themselves the Jordan brothers? Must be hiding something. Their ads are slick and expensive. They rip off other people's successful ideas. They probably overpay their ad execs. They're the New York Yankees of local furniture ads.

My pick for best in show has to be Bob Kaufman and Cathy Poulin of Bob's Discount Furniture. I love that he calls his competitors the "Big Boys." I love that he tells you with creepy pride that his name is on your mattress, the "Bob-o-pedic." And I love that Cathy tries to work her (limited) sex appeal on the recliner.


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Whither productivity? I blame Google

It started innocently enough. I was using google two, three times a day, usually to look for misheard song lyrics or a baseball box score. But it wasn't long before I was up to a 20 hit a day habit. Then google's image search came along. Then gmail, which I leave open on a browser all day long.

But now google has gone too far. They've given me chat, meaning it's hard to even sniff productivity any more.

What's next? Google brain search, so I can index my thoughts?


Monday, March 06, 2006

Celebrities: They're just like us!

They make horrible fashion mistakes. See Evangeline Lilly at the beach, sporting her 7-year-old niece's two-piece.

They disregard the law. Jessica Alba was brought down by a meter maid. She would have to work for approximately 17 seconds to pay off this ticket.

They drink underage. Emma Watson is 15. She may just be posing with this (pretty full) beer. But even so, I'll still say that they sure grow up fast at Hogwarts.


Sunday, March 05, 2006

We're out of ideas

The subject line does not refer to the NaturalBlog (exclusively anyway), but rather to tonight's Oscars.

The theory: Creativity for the mass audience has mostly run its course, and what we're left with is iterations on themes already constructed.

The proof: And the nominees are...

For best picture, a movie about a real author, a real senator and real terrorism.

For best actor, a guy playing that real author, a guy playing a real journalist and a guy playing a real singer.

For best actress, a woman playing a character from a book, a woman playing another real singer.

And that's the best of the best. Look at the dregs from last year. There's a remake of Kong, at least two more movies based on books (Narnia and Harry Potter and the Mystery of Puberty), and Kevin Costner pretending to be Dustin Hoffman. Aeon Flux (who'd have thought a real person could be as thin as a Japanime heroine?), Chicken Little, Rent. Remakes all.

I won't argue that our cultural creativity has run totally dry (Brokeback Mountain, Syriana), but I do wonder why there are so few original ideas that we end up with an Oscar slate full of retreads.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

One more thing for that after action report...

The Associated Press got hold of a tape that shows the President at a briefing on hurricane Katrina in which officials discussed the magnitude of the storm.

They also talked about fears New Orelans levees would breech, which would seem to contradict the president's later statement that no one thought the levees would give way.

Has the Bush Administration learned nothing from Paris Hilton? If you don't want people to see it later, don't put it on tape.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Big Hurt (Feelings)

White Sox general manager Ken Williams gave us a rare treat this week: He called an overpaid whiny athlete an overpaid whiny athlete.

The story in a nutshell: Former White Sox first baseman Frank Thomas, now with the Oakland A's, lobbed some verbal grenades at his former team. He was upset about their ultimately failed contract negotiations.

I can only assume he said the White Sox disrespected him. Disrespected is athlete code for not offering enough money.

But instead of letting it go as general managers usually do, Williams said "He's an idiot. He's selfish. That's why we don't miss him."

It's about time somebody adopted this novel approach to calling a spade a spade. It would be nice if all baseball general managers started doing this, followed by politicians, and reporters.


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

This franchise cannot be saved: Special Lunchtime Update

This James Bond: Still a loser.


This franchise cannot be saved

I wrote a few weeks ago about how to revive the James Bond franchise, but I have since changed my mind. The series isn't even worth saving, thanks to the new Bond, blond Daniel Craig.

He told the producers of the new Casino Royale movie being filmed in Europe that he couldn't drive Bond's Aston Martin DB5 because he didn't know how to drive a stick shift.

Bond can't drive stick!?! What other secrets is he keeping? Maybe he's morally opposed to firing a gun? Prefers warm-up pants to a tux? He likes his martinis stirred? Or worse -- with gin?

I never thought I'd say it, but bring back Dalton.