Friday, June 30, 2006

Think of a pithy headline for this space

Can someone invent one for bloggers please? If you're the type who gets wasted on three or four appletinis on a Tuesday then cycles through your cellphone looking for a booty call (you know who you are), worry no longer. There's now a phone that comes with a breathalyzer that will lock out certain numbers if you're too drunk. I wonder if it also takes your keys.

Conveniently located on Molester Street. The City of Boston dedicated Hooker Park in the neighborhood of Brighton last week. I can only imagine that they named it Hooker Park because Wino Fields and Cokehead Playground had taken their first two choices.


Thursday, June 29, 2006

Your candle burned out long before the ugly ever did.

The passing last fall of the three-time champion of the world's ugliest dog contest left the field in this year's competition wide open, but it appears there were only pretenders to the throne of the late hell-hound that masqueraded as Sam the dog.

Take a look for yourself:

The new champ (left) is a purebread Chinese crested from Arizona named Archie.

The organizers should have taken one look at the field, canceled the competition, and given Sam the award in posthumous perpetuity.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Jack Welch drinks Bud Light from a can?

Can someone explain for me how it is that former General Electric CEO Jack Welch has become a ubiquitious pre- and post-game commentator for the Red Sox broadcast network NESN? Did he come on to hawk a book or something, and finalge his way into a regular gig?

And what's more -- can anyone with a TiVo who saw the first game of the Mets series confirm that, while in the owners' box at Fenway, Welch was swilling from a Bud Light can? Can you even get Bud Light from a can at Fenway? In the owners' box no less? The cameraman was thoughtful enough to pull back when he spotted this blue collar behavior.


Pedro's back

We spent a lot of time in Boston -- six years, maybe more -- talking about Pedro's shoulder, and they've spent about two years in New York talking about Pedro's toe. So it pleases me to say "Pedro's back," meaning of course the tempermental diva, the son of the Yankees, the under-the-mango-tree sitting headhunter is returning to Boston for the first time since signing with the Mets as a free agent.

He starts tonight at Fenway Park, unless he begs off the game between now and 7:05, an occurence that would surprise, especially given the standing ovation he recieved in the middle of the first inning last night.

You might look at Pedro's numbers with the Mets (22-11, an ERA under 3.00, and more strikeouts than innings pitched) and wish the Sox had offered him that fourth year guaranteed, but you have to remember he's in the junior league now, facing pitchers instead of DHs and getting seven innings out of those 100-pitch efforts that only give you 4.2 against the AL East.

I have no idea what to expect from Petey tonight. He could go 8 IP with 15 Ks, or the Sox could give him the Soler treatment and send him packing early.

I'll split the difference -- 7 IP, 3 ER, and a boatload of Ks. Billy Wagner blows the save.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

NYT Magazine: The Pin-ups

Am I alone in feeling more than a little creepy for looking at the New York Times's treatment of a half-dozen Russian tennis starlets in this week's magazine?

I think there's a "butterface" joke to be made here, though "butterthighs" might be more appropriate.

So what did the Daughters of Kournikova have to say?

Let's ask 78th ranked Vera Zvonareva, at right in a Prada visor and belt by Givenchy: "I admire Andre Agassi for how he changed tennis. He brought fashion to the court and changed his style throughout the years.... I would love to design some fancy dresses in bright colors, but I really don’t know how to do it."

I take some solace in the proof that American athletes do not have the market on vapidity cornered.


Monday, June 26, 2006

Fluff, nuts

The world learned simultaneously this week 1) what a fluffernutter is and 2) why nothing ever gets accomplished at the Massachusetts statehouse, when a Cambridge senator, angry that his son had been served a marshmallow and peanutbutter sandwich at school, wanted to restrict how often fluffernutters could be served for lunch.

And naturally, because we have ceded the actual legislating to an activist judiciary, there was plenty of appetite on Beacon Hill for a state representative to propose making the fluffernutter the official state sandwich.

Which got me thinking, shouldn't the Massachusetts state sandwich involve turkeys, or possibly beans?

I might also suggest the finger as the state bird and "Move back where you came from" as the state motto.

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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Copa Mundial, round of 16

The U.S.-less (and Iran-less, as long as we're talking about countries that aren't really all that popular in Europe) World Cup moves into its second round today. I'm excited to witness the exponential increase in jingoistic pride, joyously moderated by the grandfatherly intonations of Tommy Smythe.

So in it's honor, let me make sure you've seen Adidas's great "Impossible is Nothing" ads, here and here.


Thursday, June 22, 2006

Jobs I Wouldn't Mind, Vol. III

I sure love to see baseball games (I love them so much, I paid $6.50 for a beer at Fenway last night), so in my third installment of "Jobs I Wouldn't Mind," I suggest a profession on the fringe of the major leagues: Bullpen catcher.

For those who don't know, this is the guy who travels with a major league team, dresses in a uniform, and warms up relief pitchers in the bullpen. He's not on the roster, but the casual fan probably doesn't realize.

The perks: I'd get to see all every Red Sox game, I'd get to hang out with Jonathan Papelbon and that huge fat bullpen cop at Fenway, and I'd only have to work about 90 minutes a day, for less than half the year.

The drawbacks: There's lots of travel, I'd have to work in the rain sometimes, and there'd just be a constant parade of girls throwing themselves at me.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Wish List: Sweet orange jacket

Of all the .com busts of the late '90s and early '00s, perhaps none was more spectacular than, the greatest ever business to never have a business plan.

For those of you who weren't lucky enough to live in a big city in the all-too-brief Kozmo era, I will summarize. You logged on to their web site, ordered any product in any quantity, and some kid with a messenger back would bring it to your apartment.

Need to see the second season of the Sopranos on DVD? Kozmo. Got a hankering to play Grand Theft Auto? Kozmo. How about some Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey at 10:45 at night, during a snow storm? Kozmo.

And the only thing brighter than its corona-like flameout was the bright orange of the jackets worn by its messengers.

I saw a dude wearing one of these jackets at a baseball game a few weeks back (coat in June? Yep, it's New England), and I've decided I want one. So if you're shopping for a wedding present for me and the future Mrs. NaturalBlog, please keep it in mind.


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Two for the road

I think he fed him Alka-Seltzer. There was a flap in Boston last week when a window washer allegedly killed a seagull. He was arrested, lost his job, etc. But the real news here is that he was arrested by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which has about as much authority in my eyes as PETA. Animal cops? Are we on the Discovery Channel or something?

Always bet on black(top). There's a push in some states to privatize roads and bridges, a move the Bush administration supports. Said Transportation Secretary and Clinton-era holdover Norm Mineta: "We are like a poker game. We are inviting more people to the table and saying, 'Bring money when you come.'" Is anybody else unsettled by the analogy? Don't people go broke in poker?


Monday, June 19, 2006

World Cup soccer -- catch the FIFA

A couple of thoughts on World Cup soccer, which is like a drug that I'm kind of hooked on.

Day games. There are three matches a day on ESPN-2, starting at 8:55 a.m. and running til about 5. This is just about the pefect television line-up for someone who works in the middle of the night, so I'm on board. I wish MLB would take a page from the World Cup book and do their playoffs in Germany. That way, I'd be able to stay up past the fourth inning.

Uruguayan officials: You suck. This weekend's U..S-Italy matchup seemed like an exercise in no-touch soccer. I'll be the first to admit that I don't know the rules about when a yellow or red card is warranted, but I like to think that the Uruguayan referee totally blew it on the calls that led to the ejections of two U.S. players. I think the U.S. should take it out on Uruguay. But since they haven't fielded a soccer team this year, then it falls to our government to bomb Uruguay. I've already laid out a more compelling case than the run-up to the war in Iraq, so I'm pretty sure we can make this happen.

Special World Cup edition of Separated at Birth. I think England's Frank Lampard looks like Nick Lachey.


Friday, June 16, 2006

Jobs I Wouldn't Mind, Vol. II

In our continuing occasional series "Jobs I Wouldn't Mind," I present a second job I wouldn't mind: Blimp pilot.

As those of you who know me know, the only thing I crave more than adventure is downtime at work. How to satisfy both needs? Take to the air, but slowly.

Bonus: I'd get to watch sporting events from afar.

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Daily news update

I imagine we'll have to relax our immigration laws. Dunkins wants to triple the number of Dunkin' Donuts stores in the U.S. by the year 2020. It begs the question -- are there enough stupid people in the country to staff all those new stores?

Cat 1. Bear 0. A traitor to his moody species, this cat managed to do something helpful: he treed a bear. Twice. This reminds me of what my cat Zoe used to do. Except instead of a bear it was a moth. And instead of scaring it into submission she would just stare at it on the wall.

Coma baby (still) lives. I know a lot of the media elite who read my blog have probably already seen Friday's New York Post cover (reminiscient of The Onion, by the way), but I wanted to point it out because it's so bad, even for the Post.


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The boneyard of daytime television

I am watching the 2005 World Domino Tournament (from Las Vegas, where else?) on ESPN-2 as I wrote this, and even I am now ready to admit that television coverage of leisure sports has gone too far.

Of course, that didn't deter me even one ounce. Just the opposite -- I grabbed a beer and settled in for quarter final matchup of Norman Lindo and Steve Martin versus Hubert McIntosh and Asper Bailey, as called by Alvaro Martin and Casper Martinez.

How does one end up as a dominoes color commentator? Are there minor leagues you have to work your way up through? Do you start in radio, then make the jump to TV?

These questions went unanswered in the broadcast, but I did hear gems like "That was a bold squaring. Oh, he's putting the squeeze on 'em!" and "The red team has frittered away their advantage, the treys."

But I don't think it got any better than this exchange from Martin and Martinez:

-It's locked in. It's his world.
-McIntosh is winning this puppy!
-They don't call him Top Gun for nothing.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Jobs I Wouldn't Mind, Vol. I

In the first installment of what will likely be a many-part series, I present "Jobs I Wouldn't Mind," Vol. I.

First up: Re-enactor.

The acting business seems like a tough one to break in to, Keanu Reeves notwithstanding. So I'd like to enter this ultra-competitive field through its soft underbelly, as a person who gets paid not to act, but to re-enact events that happened to somebody else. Like that guy who looked like Michael Jackson and re-enacted his trial on cable every night.

I wouldn't go for that though, since Matthew Broderick isn't on trial. Instead, I'd go with a show like Unsolved Mysteries or some other show on Lifetime. As Robert Stack intones about a missing person's last few moments, you'd see me -- perhaps through a fuzzy camera lens -- acting out what that person might have gone through.

Yes, I'd sometimes have to play a creep, but I'm willing to make that sacrifice for my art.

Perhaps once I establish myself in the field, I could spread my wings and don the Confederate gray in re-enactments of the War of Northern Aggression.

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Monday, June 12, 2006

Five-hour rain delay? Twarn't nuthin'

The first four hours of Saturday's rain delay at Fenway Park passed pretty quickly; it was the fifth hour that was a real killer.

But it was all worthwhile to find out that Red Sox rightfielder Trot Nixon is now using Johnny Cash music as his intro when he steps to the plate.

I got me thinking about what music I'd like to have, if I were a major leaguer. Of course, those of you who know me know that's ridiculous, because I'd clearly be a relief pitcher, and would therefore not have a need for batting music.

But I digress.

I would pick:
  • The Distance by Cake. Johnny Damon actually used this music for a while.
  • Sunday Bloody Sunday by U2. Probably just the beginning part, though, since I'm not in the business of making political statements.
  • Or finally Party Up by DMX. No explanation needed.
How about you?


Saturday, June 10, 2006

Civic duty

I stole this from one of those smart New York blogs.


Friday, June 09, 2006

Five years of complaints about fantasy baseball trades rolled up into one neat little blog posting

I'm pretty sure that most of the people I'm fixing to complain about don't read the blog. But if you think you recognize yourself, I invite -- no, dare -- you to present a reasoned defense.

Does almost every other fantasy baseball manager either think I am 1) a total freaking moron or b) trying to lose intentionally.

How else could you explain the recent offer of Milwaukee pitcher Doug Davis (2-2, 5.35 ERA, 1.76 WHIP at the time of the offer), for Jim Thome (.307, 13 HR, 32 RBI). Yeah, maybe if we were making the deal last season.

I know you don't want to make your best offer first, but c'mon man. That's so ridiculous that it's insulting.

Or how about a few years back, when a dude posted on the message board to say that he wanted to do a "major deal," only to dismiss me as though I were nuts for suggesting he trade A-Rod. Turns out he was looking for a great player without giving up anything in return. But he probably wouldn't have gotten many responses if he'd actually said that.

My favorite is probably from earlier this season, when I offered a top closer and a so-so shortstop for a top shortstop and a so-so reliver. The trade was rejected without comment over email, then the other manager posted on the message board telling me she wouldn't give up Miguel Tejada unless I could give her somebody who'd replace his 30 HRs and 120 RBIs. Yeah, I'll trade you homers for homers, and RBI for RBI. That makes a lot of sense.

Rant over. We'll be fantasy baseball free for another week or so.


Thursday, June 08, 2006

News roundup

Life imitating art imitating life. Samuel L. Jackson's worst nightmare comes true: A (singular) snake on a (small) plane. But still: A snake on a plane!

No jokes are required here. You'll probably think I'm kidding when I tell you that two of the world's top-ranked chess players had a physical altercation over a hot Australian chess grandmistress. Danny Gormally (bot. right) attacked Levon Aronian (bot. left) in a Turin nightclub, over the affections Arianne Caoili (striking, center). I can't help but think of my favorite song from a musical, One Night in Bangkok.

Sixty percent of the time, it works every time. The Toronto Blue Jays are giving away samples of pitcher Gustavo Chacin's new cologne at a game later this month. Perhaps wisely, fans will get the vials on the way out of the stadium, lowering the risk of Sex Panther-esque incidents.


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

These vloggers are hard chargers. I'm toast

I don't want to fall into the habit of sending you to other people's web sites, especially when those sites are funnier than mine.

But I do want to make you aware of a pair of vlogs (like a blog, but with a "v" for video) that are almost certain to put me out of business.

We've got Zefrank ("Thinking, so you don't have to."), and Rocketboom with Amanda Congdon.

Zefrank is a riot, and Amanda (below), well it's pretty obvious why you'll like her more than you like me -- she's not so squeamish about remaining anonymous.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Sopranos in Winter

I was planning on writing a big wrap-up of the Sopranos seventh season, after I caught the finale On Demand yesterday, but I find myself with very little to say.

I'm glad the show returned to its roots this week, with small scenes on unrelated storylines that raced through time but dropped enough clues that you could follow the progression from fall to winter.

I guess the most important (and only?) thing we learned in the dozen-or-so episodes this season is that Tony was changed fundamentally and probably forever after his time in purgatory. He wears silly hats to appease his wife, he looks on the bright side of his son's Latin girlfriend ("At least she's Catholic."), and he's willing to settle things with Phil "The Silver Fox" Leotardo without a fight.

For future lessons on Tony, we'll have to wait another six months, because the show is going away again until 2007. Hopefully in this layoff, they'll come up with a couple story lines that dart and weave, instead of plod and poke.


Monday, June 05, 2006

Man Laws

Miller Lite knows what the NaturalBlog figured out late last year -- when you go to the well of funny that is Burt Reynolds, you don't leave thirsty.

Coincidentally, I suppose, you don't leave thirsty when you're drinking Miller Lite either, as it is the most superior of the "American macrobrews," which is how I now term the category of beers that I used to call "crappy American beers."

Anyway, I wanted to call your attention to Miller's new ad campaign, which features stalwarts of maleness -- including Mr. Burt Reynolds, recently retired running back Jerome Bettis, the pro wrestler known as Triple H -- debating the questions that weigh heavy on the minds of men everywhere.

How long must you wait before dating a friend's ex-girlfriend? If you bring beer to a party, can you take the unconsumed beers home? Do you clink beer tops or bottoms on a toast?

Might I humbly suggest a few additional questions for the "Men of the Square Table" to ponder:
  • When is each of the following appropriate with another guy: handshake, handshake with half hug, full hug?
  • Is it okay to have a cat?
  • At what age are Your Mom jokes no longer advisable?
  • How do we feel about Kelly Clarkson?


Sunday, June 04, 2006

The meek, inheriting the earth

These are drag queens, taking pamphleture from a dude who tries to save my soul every couple of weeks near Fenway Park.


Friday, June 02, 2006

East Coast bias indeed

It's early in the balloting, I admit, but it is a distinct possibility that this year's American League all-star team starters will be comprised entirely of Yankees and Red Sox.

Here's how the roster for position players is shaping up:

1B David Ortiz (Bos)
2B Robinson Cano (NYY)
SS Derek Jeter (NYY) -- leads all vote getters
3B Alex Rodriguez (NYY)
C Jason Varitek (Bos)
OF Manny Ramirez (Bos)
OF Johnny Damon (NYY)
OF Vladimir Guerrero (LAA)

And once Sox centerfielder Coco Crisp gets going after 40+ games on the disabled list, The Nation might push him past Vlad. That's just sick.


Thursday, June 01, 2006

Somebody get Akshay Buddiga a chair, and fast

This week ESPN and ABC wake up to what I've been saying for years: Spelling makes for great television. The 2006 Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee finals are on network TV. During prime time. Chris McKendry is out on play by play, and Robin Roberts is in. It's even in spectacular HD. I'm not making this up.

This is like geek survivor, with gangly home-schoolers facing off against their gangly public and private school counterparts, comparing the size of their respective mental muscles before they head back to their hotels to don their head-gear and curl up with some comic books. Only the most awkward survive this day.

Could the tension be any greater, when a speller hacks his way through schwarmerei, pausing after that final "I" to see if he'll get the dreaded ding that sends him back to the "comfort room." That's bee-speak for the room for the vanguished, where the weak bawl and even the strong whither under the angry gaze of their "When-I-was-your-age" parents. They should put a camera back there, and put it on PPV. I'd pay $100 to see an eleven-year-old get scolded for not knowing how to spell appoggiatura.

Watch the excitement, distilled one letter at a time, tonight at 8.