Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Drunk

Here's somethingthat might cheer you up a little more than the last few pieces. This one has some hope. I didn't really feel like turning this entire blog into whiny emo world-is-ending pieces anyway.

"Drunk"


I felt drunk. I was happy. I was loud. I was obnoxious. I was a million other things that would suggest I had quite a bit to drink. I hadn’t downed half a handle myself or pounded a handful of beers. I didn’t have a single drop to drink.

I don’t know why it was that I felt that way. I was hanging out with my friends, watching Superbad. It might have had something to do with that. I could familiarize with a couple characters, but none all too closely. That reason isn’t as legitimate as I first thought. Maybe it was the lack of “progress” I had made recently with the girls I was aiming to date. That wouldn’t make any sense, but seemingly, neither did my state of mind at the time. Either way, that was not it. After all, one had totally blown me off. That was why I sent her a text message a night before that I knew wouldn’t end well.

Speaking of that night, I’m not much of a drunk dialer, or a drunk texter for that matter. I couldn’t help it though. Wednesday, I was fuming. I went to another stupid frat party. I should have known better. Yeah, I’m a college kid, but it doesn’t mean I have to enjoy a dark, musty smelly basement in the dark, musty smelly town of Allston. It’s fun to dance sometimes, and if there are a bunch of your friends there, it can be a good night. Wednesday was not one of those.

Classes were over for the semester, so it was another reason to celebrate, not that people here need one anyway. I swear when I went to the Red Sox Riots and Parade in October that there were more out-of-towners than Sox fans. The party I was at “should” have been better for me. The girls were hot, and the smoothies were delicious, with or without alcohol. Something that night just didn’t taste right, and I know it wasn’t the mangos.

I guess my overall frustration that night made Friday that much sweeter. There was no big reason for it, as far as my conscious self was concerned. Who knows what happened deep down in the untapped resource that is my brain. This may seen like a bunch of bullshit, but something changed. In case you couldn’t tell, I don’t what, and I don’t know why. But to tell the truth, I don’t really care. I’m still drunk on something, and it’s a lot cheaper than Grey Goose or even Keystone Light. It’s something more valuable too. Maybe the whole not thinking thing is what I need after all.

Back to Business

Well I hope everyone enjoyed that story. If not, here's some more memoir stuff. It's not quite as depressing.

"Eyes on the Pru"

“Chest up, eyes on the Pru[Prudential Building],” I thought to myself as I walked down the small hill on Commonwealth Ave. I have to say, it’s a great way to fake some confidence, or at least I thought it was. It forced me to put a bit of a strut in my step, and slow things down a little. I couldn’t awkwardly rush to where I was going as usual. No matter how I walked on the way to class or the T for my internship, I always looked tense. Luckily this time I was going out to lunch with a friend, so I was in no hurry.

I had the same kind of posture when I walked past the dining hall. Last year, I took the long way home from the other side of campus to “make myself feel better”. I’d walk through West Campus instead of going down Comm. Ave. As if walking past the dining hall and saying an arbitrary number under ten, and saying that many girls looked at me favorably was actually productive. It certainly didn’t help me when I did it, but it didn’t stop me from doing the same every once in a while this year. It was something to keep my hopes up, because I apparently couldn’t find any other way. I needed something to pump me up, even if it was a total lie. It was better than lying about who I was to people, or bragging about what I had done. Thanks to the success I’ve had in landing internships, it’s given me a better look into the business world. That really was double-edged sword, though.

My mood turned sour on my walk to Marsh Chapel, and I couldn’t understand why. The semester was almost over, the only work I had left was studying, I had earned myself two internships for the coming semester, and I had spent the night before hanging with some friends I hadn’t seen in a long time. For some reason, as “Clocks” by Coldplay calmly seeped out of my headphones, I felt eerily somber. After being happy, waking up late and clamoring over to the center of campus in a good mood, I was down. Luckily the feeling didn’t last for long, as I soon met up with Brian and made our way to O’Leary’s for lunch.

Understanding emotion is something I may never be able to do, especially my own. I go from sad to happy back to sad in a matter of hours. Maybe it’s all the self-examining I’ve been doing lately. It certainly seems as if I have reflected more now than ever, and it has shown in my writing. I’ve been a lot more willing to write, and I think that’s a good thing. It’s been getting my feelings out and my practice in. Perhaps all this writing will lead to a solution. I can try different things to see how they work (or in the case of my new strut, do not). Until I find a better solution, it’s, “Chest up, eyes on the Pru.”

Story Time

Okay, so this isn't exactly a Disney movie, but I figured I'd break the memoir stuff up a little bit. For the record, this is a fictional piece.

"Memoirs of a Guido"

“I can’t fuckin stand bitches,” Tony yelled as he ran his fingers through his hair, spiking it with the gel he had been buying since he had dropped out of high school. “They’re so fuckin stupid.”

He put on his chain, flexed in front of the mirror, and headed for the bus stop. His car had been destroyed the night before when one of the many notches in his belt expressed her anger towards him. After refusing to call her back and calling her a whore to her face, Tony found out the hard way that girls could fight back. Jenna was no different than any other girl he had slept with, except that she was willing to stand up to him and call him out on his bullshit, even if it was a month later. He had led her on too much, and she made him pay for it.

Anthony finally got to the bus stop after what seemed like hours. He unzipped his jumpsuit a bit to show the thin patches of hair he had on his chest. He was in a hurry today. Despite his best efforts to remain calm, cool, and collected, Tony was affected by the actions of a girl for the first time he could remember.

His savior had come: the bus pulled up to the stop after ten minutes of Tony fidgeting with himself, something he hadn’t done in years. Now it was time to go to his favorite place in the world, where he could show everyone else how macho he really was.

As he stepped onto the bus, a smirk snuck onto his face. “I’ll just pick up one or two of ‘em when I do bench,” he thought out loud. The driver looked at him angrily and motioned for him to move along. “I can’t fuckin stand guidos,” the man thought to himself. Tony said “fuck you” with his eyes and headed for the back of the bus.

Tony sat at a pair of empty seats, and the rest of the bus filled up behind him. A few people standing were scattered throughout the bus, but none of them moved an inch when they noticed the vacancy next to Tony. “People fuckin suck,” he mumbled under his breath.

The bus passed by 43rd street, went past the zoo, and arrived at the next stop. “Forty-second and Main,” the bus driver exclaimed. The front door opened, and Tony jumped up. He briskly walked to the front of the bus, but no one else was getting on or off. The doors closed, and the bus started moving again. The driver smirked at Tony and mumbled something like, “take that you asshole.” There was a green light at the intersection, so there was no stopping now.

“Are you fuckin serious? That was my stop you worthless son of a bitch!” Tony’s forehead was wrinkled more than an old man’s. Sweat ran down his face, and his hair began to lose its form. The gel was melting. As he stomped toward the front of the bus, a leg swung out in front of him. That was the final straw. Tony fell to the floor face first and stayed there for a moment. He looked around the bus, and everyone was staring directly at him with a look of disgust. Was the world really against him? That’s the way he thought. He pushed himself up off the floor and speed walked to the front of the bus.

“You realize you’re a piece of shit and your life doesn’t matter, right?” He asked the driver. “All you do is drive a bus around in circles all day. What good does that do anyone?”

“Last time I checked, you’re on this bus too, so it can’t be that useless,” the driver replied.

“Well you know what? Fuck you! Fuck all of you! You’re not getting anywhere in life! I drive a fuckin mustang! I got ladies all over me all the time! I’m jacked, and I’m gorgeous. Look at me! You’re all fuckin jealous. That’s what you are. Now let me off the fuckin bus…” His voiced tailed off weakly as he finished the last sentence.

With every word he had spoken, he felt weaker and weaker. He realized that everything he said was a doubt he had about himself. He may have been a ladies’ man, and he had a nice car, but that didn’t get him anywhere. That was okay most of the time though, because he had the gym as an escape. It helped beef him up literally and figuratively. Not today, or at least not now. The bus driver was depriving him of the only happiness he had in life. Girls may have temporarily satisfied his instincts, and they were an item he could brag about to all the people he thought were his friends, but that was where their utility ran out. He was as fake as a two hundred dollar bill, and he knew it.

Tony was lost. Every person who met him immediately assumed the worst of him. The bus stopped, and Tony fell off, or at least that’s what it felt like. He made his way back towards the last stop, where the gym was just half a block away. It would be a long walk, but at this point, he had no choice.

With every passing car, Tony jerked his head to take a look. He was worried one might hit him, even if he was eight feet from the road. Were the people looking at him funny? He walked slowly, his legs swinging like pendulums. His arms followed in the same pattern. Tony had never realized all the cracks in the pavement before. He always looked at the billboards around town, the bodies of attractive girls he saw, and the tops of skyscrapers along the street. He was not used to the area or his posture at the time; it was all unfamiliar to him.

As he meandered down the sidewalk, he could not help but think about what had happened on the bus. A man who was usually indestructible was now quite the opposite. He realized the problems of his life before this incident, and knew he had to change. Knowledge was not his issue; it was finding help that he could not figure out. As he continued his self-reflection, he discovered that there was no one to help him. He had to find a way to do it himself. He had been an independent man for his entire adult life, so it appeared that this would be an easy task. He reached the gym, and began his workout.

He increased the weight of the curl bars by an extra ten pounds. He usually only went up five, but he wanted to somehow connect his workout to his solution. He needed some sort of inspiration. He did the first half of the set easily, as he was running on adrenaline. Then a woman walked by and giggled. Tony noticed he was grunting as he lifted the free weights. The left bar got very heavy, and soon the right one felt the same. He tried to pull them back up. He needed four more lifts to finish the set. He took a deep breath and yelled as loud as he could, but it didn’t work. His right arm froze in place, and his left fell beside his thigh, and dropped the weight. Tony couldn’t continue with the workout. “Not today,” he said as he shook his head. “Not today.”

He headed back towards the bus stop, then changed his mind. There was a good chance that the same bus would come, and he would have to deal with the driver again. It wasn’t worth it. He looked for a cab, but they were all taken. “The one time I need one…” he stopped speaking mid-sentence and started walking again.

Oddly enough, the walk seemed like nothing at all. Tony sulked as he walked along the main drag, walking slower than he ever had before. He was in a daze, and he didn’t care much to come out of it. He dreamt of the day his mother took him to see his father for the first time. Mom had talked Dad up for months. It was finally Tony Junior’s chance to meet Tony Senior.

Little Tony got out of the car and waited for his mother on the sidewalk. Where is he? He said. “He’s coming soon honey,” Mom replied. Minutes passed and he didn’t come. Hours passed and he didn’t come. Tony was still waiting. Days and months and years had passed, and he didn’t come. After that day, the truth leaked out about his father. Tony sought out to impress his father rather than change the family reputation for the better. Tony did exactly what his father had done: build and maintain a great body, get rich, and sleep with lots of women. His attitude after that fateful day was “fuck you, world”, and it was finally coming back to bite him.

Tony Junior got back to his apartment and sat on the couch. It felt like bedrock. Not even his ten thousand dollar couch could comfort him anymore. He got up and went into the kitchen. He grabbed the ammonia from the cabinet under the sink and finished the bottle as if it were water. He took a rope and headed for the roof. He tied the rope securely around his neck, and tightened it even further. He took a deep breath and yelled as loud as he could, and this time, he was successful. The weight was dropping, but that was his goal. He couldn’t breathe, but he kept walking up the stairs. He stepped out onto the roof and continued toward the edge. He stepped up onto it, and fell.

Monday, December 10, 2007

On that note...

Okay, so maybe that poem wasn't so serious. It still was a lesson in the format of tanka though. If you want some more personal reading, then this next one's definitely for you.

Chill Son


Chill son.”

Those were the words I told myself as I placed the can of kidney beans in the plastic grocery bag. It had been a rough day for me at Shaw’s. After I finished the order, another man came up to the counter. “I’ll do a pickup, please,” he said.

“Why the fuck does he need to do a pickup?” I thought. “He has three bags!” I didn’t show my anger as I grabbed the bin to start the order. “Chill son.”

I finished the order after what seemed like hours. “Have a nice day,” I told the man.

Another customer came to the counter. It was another pickup. It was another three bags. I could comfortably carry five bags in each hand, and I’m no superhero. “Have a nice day,” I said again.

The next customer was a bit less lazy. Being a Sunday, there were plenty of pickup orders to do, but there were a few customers who carried their own groceries out of the store. This was one of them. He picked his six bags up, and headed out. “Have a nice day,” I said. Did I really mean that? Did I honestly care what happened to these people? Every time those words left my mouth, there was less of me to go around. I was running on empty. I wasn’t having a nice day myself. How could I possibly wish it for others? “Chill son,” I thought.

You would think that I would be used to what felt like a sledgehammer to the nuts. I had dealt with infinitely more than my fair share of rejection, so this shouldn’t have been much different. For some reason, this one hurt more than ever. To tell the truth, I don’t know what “this one” means. There was no particular instance that caused the feeling, which made it even worse. I couldn’t put a finger on why I was so sad. It couldn’t be depression, could it? None of the other symptoms made sense. I was still enjoying many different aspects of my life. I still enjoyed watching, talking, and playing sports, and I loved hanging with my friends. The girl situation never got any better, though, and that was killing me.

It had always been (and to this day still is) a vicious cycle. You need confidence to get girls, and you need girls to get confidence. Or at least I did. I could pump myself up as much as I wanted, but it was all a lie. Yeah, I made it into a good university in the country with the best reputation for post-secondary education. I was a good person and had plenty of friends. I was moving ahead of my competition with all the internships I had, but getting girls was always my Achilles’ Heel. It was a mystery I could not solve, a puzzle that I seemed to be a piece short every time. Whether it was my fault or not, it happened that way. Failing was all I knew how to do. Many people I knew suggested that I not think and not try. If I knew how to do either, I would have been fine. Because it never came to me, I overanalyzed and overrationalized and overcared and overeverything-I-possibly-could-have. I couldn’t not try. I couldn’t not think. I was too rational. In being rational, I was totally irrational. All I did was reason to myself that it would work eventually and that girls were stupid for not liking me. They couldn’t realize the great guy I was. Everyone told me that they would come flocking to me when I turned twenty-five, but that was a load of crap. Even if it was true, was it really worth waiting four more years? I had already waited eight or nine as it was. I was restless. Everything else in my life was going so well. I had no reason not to be happy with what was going right for me, but I whined and complained and bitched and moaned and ranted and rationalized my way into a big mess.

Chill son.”

I don’t know what it was about those two words that was so powerful. Until my twenty-first birthday, I had never even used them together. I passed going to the bathroom that night, and all I uttered when my suitemates told me to get out were those two words, over and over.

“Nick, get out of the bathroom. You’ve been in there for an hour.”

Chill son.”

“Seriously man, you’ve been in there way too long.”

Chill son.”

“We’ll help you out if you can’t get out yourself.”

Chill son.”

My subconscious had been telling it to me all along. That was what I needed to do myself, not how others should deal with me and a night of drinking too much. Chill son. Whether or not I could do that has yet to be seen. I don’t know if that’s the correct solution, or simply an instinctual mistake. I can’t really say that I had ever followed my instincts, which could be my problem. That advice wasn’t just a phrase I had heard playing Star Fox 64 from Peppy the wingman. It is legitimate advice, and it seems the two different pieces of advice I got have a strong correlation to each other.

Maybe not caring and not thinking and using my instincts are one in the same. I have not found that out just yet, despite my best efforts. It certainly doesn’t appear that the solution to my problem will smack me in the face with its obviousness. Although I probably shouldn’t actively pursue girls as much as I do, I should actively pursue a solution (as if I haven’t already). Joe Dirt says to “keep on keepin’ on,” so maybe I should follow his motto, even if he has a glued-on mullet.

I’ve received so much advice from so many people, and often one person’s wise words will directly conflict with another’s. Nobody has the perfect solution, though. All I can do at this point is hope that someone figures it out. Until then, chill son.

Friday, December 7, 2007

A Good Call

Well, I can't exactly prove this one all along, but I at least hinted at the Sox achieving greatness much earlier this year. When I first learned about a form of poetry called the tanka, I gave it a shot with my favorite sports team. Tanka are basically three haikus put together, but with no exact syllable requirement per line.


The season is here.

The life is back in Boston.

Fenway’s lights shine bright.

Could you ask for any more

On a beautiful spring day?

Beckett takes the mound

He prepares for his first pitch

Gets the sign from 'Tek

He cruised through the game

And dominated hitters

The Sox lineup was

Relentless in its scoring

The victory was sweet.

Their first home win this year

Is a sign of things to come.

Summer Flashback

After a great presentation in my Media Law and Ethics class on Blogging and its effects on the journalism world, I was inspired to add to my own. I found a few pieces of paper in my old Whitecaps notebook, with a memoir scratched in pen from a day at Fenway Park. Here it is, a little easier to read than my doctoresque font.

The blazing sun beat down on the tiny field, with no apparent breeze. It was 10 AM, time for batting practice. Not early BP. Not even professional BP. It was a boring event to anyone who did not understand its implications. It was a tryout for a few ballplayers, but not just any ballplayers. Not just any team, either. To millions of people far and wide, Fenway Park is the greatest place on earth. To thirty-five Cape Cod Leaguers, it was a dream come true. These players, just ninety miles away from their home fields for the summer, were trying out for the Boston Red Sox.

The Red Sox are a team with a quirky history. The Boston Beaneaters (as they were formerly called) were a team of hypocrisy for decades. Their former owner, a Hall-of-Famer held a tryout of his own once. A man named Jackie Robinson was never given a chance that day, along with two of his Negro League comrades. This day was much different.

Sixty years have passed since that fateful day. There are new owners and a completely different attitude. This was baseball in its purest form: just the crack of the bat, shagging fly balls, and the laid back feel of fielding in the sun. There were some nice plays in the field, with the Falmouth Commodores leading the way, but most of the attention was on the hitting.

The odds were against them making it to the big leagues, but they were also small that they would make it this far. Maybe one of them will make it, maybe more, maybe none at all. Maybe it’s Gordon Beckham, maybe Dennis Raben or Yonder Alonso. James Darnell impressed for sure, with his six homeruns. Buster Posey showed the most consistent hitting. Shane Peterson hit more line drives than anyone, and Brandon Crawford hit to all fields. Balls were hit onto and over the Green Monster. Homeruns straddled Pesky’s Pole. Even the triangle was full of batted balls, 420 feet from home. These were not the bats of David Ortiz or Manny Ramirez. Kevin Youkilis was nowhere to be found. These were hits form college players, ready for the opportunity to hit a Major League Homerun. They were not all successful.

Some of them got homeruns. Others fell inches short. Some did what they do best: go to the opposite field. All of them had a smile on their face, just happy to be at the park. That’s how baseball should be. A bunch of young men playing a child’s game, getting paid to have a good time. For some of the players on the field that day (we don’t know who), this day is only the beginning. For others, it is the beginning of the end, one last shot at a baseball career. For some, this day is nothing but a dream. But that’s how some of the best things in life end up being. This was one dream that was all it was cracked up to be.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Sports Apocalypse

Here's another article I wrote applying for a Freep article that I think most people will find interesting (especially my theory at the end). Check it out. The article carries even more weight in light of the Patriots signal stealing scandal.




Professional sports in America are in deep trouble. In the last month alone, there have been three major events that could change the history of US sports forever. Whether it was the Tim Donaghy National Basketball Association Referee Scandal, Michael Vick and the dog fighting fiasco, or Barry Bonds and the new home run record, it has Been Bad News Bears all over American sports. Now there are even rumors that steroids are being used in golf. In the National Hockey League, there may not be an end-all event, but the league now has primetime games being played on a small network having an identity crisis. (The Outdoor Life Network has become Versus.)

With all these things happening, profits for these sports are in jeopardy. Michael Vick may want to lay off the daily double for now, because his future could involve a serious pay cut in his contract, and it has already lost him millions in endorsements and even the support of many fans. He could face up to a year in prison, and even with a plea bargain, he would still most likely miss the entire 2007 season. His absence in the Atlanta offense will definitely destroy any game plans Head Coach Bobby Petrino has of centering his run game around his play caller. It hurts the Falcons franchise for having such a person on their team. It hurts the whole National Football League for the same reasons. Vick’s status as an NFL star is almost certainly destroyed.

As if one huge player controversy wasn’t enough, the most hallowed record in United States sports was broken by the perfect storm of negative attention. Barry Bonds, the all-time home run champ, has his post-1998 career is a shroud of questions and asterisks. He told a Grand Jury that he has never willingly taken steroids, but the difference in his performance is obvious. He was a 40-homer-a-year player before the “magical” summer of 1998, when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa could do no wrong. After being overshadowed by Ken Griffey Junior as the face of baseball in the early 1990s, and McGwire and Sosa in 1998, Bonds faced a tough decision: should he take steroids and immediately steal the spotlight, or should he continue to be the future Hall-of-Fame quality player without any scientific help? He chose the former (as did many other players of the time), and baseball has never been the same. Bonds could have been a hero in a time of many villains by playing substance free. Instead he made himself public enemy #1 thanks to his lack of respect for the game of baseball. He alienated himself even more by the way he acted towards the media and even more so the public. It’s easy to pick on him for what he did, and I personally don’t agree that he is a worthy record holder. However, one has to think hard about this Bonds character. He reminds me of Matt Damon’s character in The Departed. He is faced with an extremely tough decision, and unfortunately makes the wrong one. In some ways, he didn’t have much of a choice.

The combination of Vick and Bonds brings up an even more sensitive issue in American culture. Both Bonds and Vick are African-American, which should have nothing to do with the way these cases are treated. However, in a society where every crime suspect on the news is a young black man, it only makes African-Americans as a whole look even worse. On top of that, it makes Americans in general look bad to themselves and other countries for thinking that way. The only thing that somewhat keeps this feeling in check is the Caucasian NBA referee, Tim Donaghy.

Donaghy got himself into a sticky situation with organized crime, and there’s still some residue on his slacks. He plead guilty to gambling on NBA games with privileged information, and even worse, fixing many of the games he bet on. He could very well be a catalyst in the integrity check the NBA is about to go under. With huge officiating issues in both the 2006 and 2007 Playoffs (whether it was Dwayne Wade And-oneing his way to an NBA Finals Championship last year or the horrific Spurs-Suns series this year), Donaghy’s confession only confirms the worst. It will expand the curiosity of both the fans and hard-nosed commissioner David Stern. With the way the tide eerily turned in many games in recent memory, each and every referee will be questioned, and even accused of the same charges by some people. Much like the steroids issue in baseball, fixed games will ruin the credibility of all parties involved.

Whether your favorite team sport is football, baseball, or basketball, it’s having the roughest period it has faced in years. Even the morals of our society are being put in check by the happenings in our favorite pastimes. To end on a lighter, less Chicken-Little note, this could mean something positive for a few million Chicago sports fans. If there’s one year I had to bet on the Cubs to win the World Series, it would be this year. Without even considering the new look they have, a sports apocalypse calls for nothing short of the end of a 99 year drought. Go Cubbies!

It's been a while...

But I figured I'd get back in the swing of things. School started up again, and I sent some more material to the Freep to try to get a weekly column. I think I really hit the nail on the head in this one. It might be a surprise to some people out there, but it's the truth. Even I can't keep defending Boston sports fans anymore.



As A League of Their Own put it, there’s no crying in baseball. If Tom Hanks doesn’t do it for you, maybe the Governator will. “You lack discipline!” Arnold Schwarzenegger may have been speaking to five year olds in Kindergarten Cop when he said that, but his wise words (along with Hanks’) apply perfectly to Boston sports fans right now. A decade ago, it was a different story. The Celtics were a mediocre team in a mediocre conference, the Red Sox had to compete with one of the best dynasties of all time in the late 1990s New York Yankees, the Bruins were a lackluster team with a couple stars, and the Patriots were a joke. There was endless complaining about the teams’ floundering, and there still is to this day. I can’t say much positive about the Bruins at this point, other than they’re improving, but the other three teams are drastically better.

Since that dismal period in Boston folklore, when the Celtics missing out on Tim Duncan wasn’t even the biggest misfortune, it has been a euphoric time to be a fan here. The Red Sox have won a World Series, and are poised to win another in the near future. The Patriots won three Superbowls in four years, beefed up their biggest weakness (wide receiver), and got the best defensive free agent on the market. The Celtics didn’t end up with Greg Oden or Kevin Durant, but in a bold move by General Manager Danny Ainge, they acquired one of the best complete front court players of all time in Kevin Garnett, and got Ray Allen for perimeter shooting. Now they’re trying to coax Reggie Miller, one of the most clutch players in NBA history, to come out of retirement.

Boston has been known for years to be a city of sarcasm and complaints, but the latter has no place here anymore. Fans from other areas have complained about the negative Nancy attitude in Boston, and they are absolutely right. The Red Sox, Patriots, and Celtics now all have among the highest paid teams in the country, and all have legitimate shots at championships, or at least making it there in the case of the Celtics. The month of October this year will be one of the most exciting ones in years’ past. With the Red Sox most likely in the playoffs, and the Patriots and Celtics seasons starting up, the Cask ‘n’ Flagon will be packed every night.

Boston has also been known to be one of the worst sports cities in terms of winning, but it was the Philadelphia Phillies that reached 10,000 losses this season. The city on the Charles has four championships since 2002, including a stretch in 2004-2005 that featured the Red Sox’ World Championship sandwiched in between Patriots Superbowl victories. I may have complained on air at WZLX about the 10 game lead the Red Sox had in July, but that was sarcasm at its best. The Red Sox have an easier schedule than the Yankees for the remainder of the season (although not by much), and they already have a lead in the division. They have their best bullpen in franchise history, and have the Major League’s best run differential. There is no reason for Boston sports fans to complain anymore. Their teams are great now, and have been in the recent past.

Even before the run of championships in this decade, Boston was not as bad as people thought in team athletics. It was ranked in the top five of a recent study on city winning percentages on all four major team sports. Its overall championship drought was shorter than many other areas, including Cleveland, where there hasn’t been one since the Indians won the World Series in 1948. West coast metropolises such as San Diego have never had a championship (unless you count the now defunct American Football League). In other words, Boston fans should sit down, shut up, and enjoy the ride. It might not last much longer, and many places have been without a reign even close to this. Since 2002, New England has been the region to beat in professional sports. Being jaded by victory is the last thing Boston fans need on their minds, but it’s unfortunately already there. I’m a big Boston sports fan myself, and I know it’s hard to change your ways. However, if Boston pro sports fans want any respect from other fans, they will appreciate the greatness going on now.

Friday, May 11, 2007

A Keen Observation

I love sarcasm. I also love writing. Here's a great instance of where they work together. Hooray teamwork.


A Keen Observation

Men and women are very different creatures. They deal with their problems in totally different ways, and have thought processes that are nothing alike. Neither of them is totally logical all the time, but that is about their only similarity.

Men and women are also different in their physical attributes. Women typically have better boobs than men. On a totally unrelated note, their genitalia are also much more complex. So are their actions and reactions to other people. It’s a surprise that no one ever put two and two together, except for the parents of the lead singer of Outkast. Hey ya!

I have a theory. Let’s call it the complexity factor. It’s actually a bit simpler than you’d think. The complexity of one’s genitalia is directly related to the complexity of one’s emotions. Think about it this way: men are very straightforward. They know what they want, and (usually) how to get it. They don’t hide much, unless they’re trying to impress a girl. They’re brutally honest, often to a fault. It’s easy to predict what they’ll do or say, because it’s most often the easiest option. They’re lazy a lot, but they’ll work hard for what they want if they really have to. They can be brave and protective when they want to be, and all of their traits are quite elementary. So are their penises. There’s one place for pee, and one for the soldiers, but they share the same tube. There’s a dick and balls, but not much else. Everything there has a specific purpose. They may like to use a lot of duct tape, but they aren’t quite as resourceful as their female counterparts in the reproduction department.

Women are a totally different story. Their relationships with men and other women are scarred by awkward moments and confusing interactions. They don’t tend to act the same around everyone. They have a different front they put on for every situation. They worry and overanalyze and think too much about emotion, which is something guys almost never do (unless you’re me, but that’s a tale for another time). Ignorance is bliss. Girls keep secrets even from their best friends to prevent people’s feelings from being hurt. However, much of the time those secrets harm the friendships themselves, and do exactly what they were meant to prevent. The way they interact with other people is not easily deciphered by guys, and sometimes even by fellow women. Sometimes, it works out well. The occasional awkward situation can be avoided. The “glitch” works itself out, like in Office Space when Milton stops getting paid and realizes he’s fired. Maybe that isn’t such a good example since he burns the place down in the end. You see my point. In all seriousness, it can work out sometimes. Take my word for it. Girls hint at stuff that even dumb guys can realize, like when they have a crush on them. (Yeah. Maybe I should quit while I’m behind.)

Women’s private parts are also quite complicated. There’s in-holes and out-holes and more indoor plumbing than Ancient Rome. Some things have single uses, some many uses, and some no crucial use at all. There are more parts inside and outside than on a battleship. There’s bleeding and peeing and babies. Oh my! There are parts that not all women are even aware of in terms of their use. The complexity of the vagina seems unnecessary, as do many of the emotional issues women have. More women are prone to eating disorders than men. Women tend to have less confidence. Women also spend a helluva lot more money, especially for cosmetic products. (You don’t see too many guys wearing eyeliner.)

Could it be that women deal with things differently because of their private parts? Their gender role is not at all similar to guys’. They have many different ways for solving problems, which usually get them into bigger problems. Often times, guys get themselves into trouble when they use girls’ tactics for interacting. Once they start lying and avoiding the truth, they get themselves into a whole web of lies that only gets bigger. The spider that is the woman in their life gets ready to suck his blood and leave him dry when that happens. Look at the embarrassment that Ron Burgundy could have avoided. When he tried to impress Ms. Corningstone, he ended up translating “San Diego” in German into “whale’s vagina”. He explained how the wonderful west coast city was discovered by the Germans in 1792. Not exactly how it happened.

Can we really blame all these interactive problems on women and their seemingly evil way of doing things?

Sure.

It probably wouldn’t fly with half the world’s population though. Let’s err on the side of caution and find an alternate explanation to save ourselves a few kicks in the balls. Nobody likes those.

The way society forces us to react with each other really screws things up. And when I say society, I mean man’s natural pursuit of women. (It’s not really society at all, but I felt like using a big, existential, the-sky-is-falling type word. Work with me here.) Men are the aggressors, so they seem to have the upper hand. Since they are the active choosers, they have more options. It’s not hard for an ass-ugly guy to get a hot girl under the right circumstances. (See my age/beauty corollary for details.) I can’t say the opposite is true. Women realize this and get nervous. They worry and scramble to find the best way to put the odds in their favor. They think obsessively about what they can do and how they can do it to get that guy’s attention. They wear different clothes, speak differently, and have different mannerisms when they’re around certain people. A lot of times, they’re not themselves when trying to impress someone. If all that pressure was put on you, wouldn’t you be a bit worried too?

So, women’s reaction in society may be complex, but it’s more logical than we thought. Can men really blame women for the way they act? Yeah, but then they’d just be a bunch of ignorant guys.

Another Modest Proposal

Here's another serious problem in today's world that I have created an ingenius solution to.

Another Modest Proposal

The life of Barbie isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be. If Barbie were a real person, she would be bed ridden. Her back wouldn’t be able to support her overly large breasts. Her waist would be the circumference of a compact disc. She certainly wouldn’t have the level of attraction she has in her fantasy world, where every Ken doll is dying to go out with her, because no one wants to date someone who can’t leave their own bed. (Unless they’re a necrophiliac. In that case, she’s almost as good as dead. Giggity giggity giggity!)

American culture has forced countless young girls and women try to be just like Barbie. In her dream world, Barbie is something no one can ever be: perfect (well, except for maybe Jessica Alba). Thanks to our plastic friend, all women have to be incredibly skinny, and fill double d cups. They have to do everything, and be great at it. Such standards cannot possibly be reached by even the women with seemingly everything going for them.

In one of his songs, Ludacris says he wants “a lady in the street but a freak in the bed”. He needs to look no further than Cosmopolitan Magazine for that. Cosmo is the most prominent force in the development of the perfect woman. This and similar magazines such as Vogue cause identity crises in millions of women, young and old each year. These women are constantly reminded of the women they should be, the smart, athletic, talented women who have beautiful husbands or boyfriends, lots of money, and the looks of a supermodel. And don’t forget the 100 secret sex tips they should know from every issue that’ll blow their guys minds.

Advertisements throughout these magazines tell the readers to buy their products to get what they want, whether it’s the attention of all their peers or a date with the guy they’ve been staring at during philosophy lecture. Originally, there is no problem with these claims; they’re business ploys that can or cannot be believed. However, the standards these advertisements set as a whole is preposterous (and totally awesome if you’re a guy). Every woman in each of the ads is absolutely beautiful. If only the US were like Europe in its advertising…

After the readers are coerced into buying the product, they find that it does not make them as beautiful as the women in the ads. They are left sadly disappointed, but it doesn’t stop them from buying even more of these “miracle products”. Maybe they should grab some Sex Panther or something.

Women’s angst fuels the social machine that is built on manipulation and lies. Many women are driven to depression, eating disorders, and suicide because they feel they are not good enough to live in our society. Such problems have negative impacts in every aspect of their existence. Although, it is great to have a lot of anorexic girls around.

Who would’ve known that a toy and a few sheets of paper could ruin millions of people’s lives? If Barbie, Stacy and all of their friends were destroyed, life would be easier for women all over the United States. If women weren’t taught to read, Cosmo wouldn’t be an issue either.

By destroying Barbie and the image she creates, women would be freed from the shackles of conformity. Parents would save a heck of a lot of money on pointless dolls, clothes, houses, and beach cruisers. Girls would find something else to do like learn to clean and cook. Women would no longer have to try to be perfect, and years of distress could be wiped away. They would never have to wear makeup again! They could be as ugly as they want (until their husbands come home from work, that is)! Instead of spending half their life buying, preparing, and worrying, they could do what truly makes them happy, like cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the kids. Isn’t that what they all want in the end?

Unfortunately, Barbie and Cosmopolitan are not the only issues. Even in sitcoms, women are expected to be perfect. Take Everybody Loves Raymond, Family Guy, King of Queens, or Still Standing for example. In each show, the husband is not a very good looking person. He’s lazy, irresponsible, and usually out of shape. He makes his wife do all of the housework. He’s the man. The wife is a beautiful woman who’s smart and charismatic, and has to put up with all the family issues. How can anyone be expected to be like them? There are very few (if any) people like them in real life, so why do they show up so much on television? Why not have the men be “perfect” too? If they weren’t so cool, they’d probably have to be. There aren’t too many average-looking women in these shows. So what’s the obvious solution?

Get rid of all those shows. If the shows don’t exist, neither do the unfair standards. Why not get rid of that crap? It’s not like anyone watches it. Family Guy is a bunch of sexist trash anyway. Women aren’t just limited to the kitchen and bedroom. How else could they clean the living room? They should go back to the days of Leave it to Beaver and the Brady Bunch.

So there you have it. Get rid of Barbie, Cosmo, and Family Guy, and it’ll be just like the 1950s: a (perfect) society without depression, minorities, and communism. Women will be free.

A Modest Proposal

It's been a while since my last post. Finals, fifty page papers, and having two internships at the same time will do that to you. Anyway, I figured I would post a few more things I had been thinking about. Here's where I first get into the whole "how to improve the world" stuff. It's modeled after Jonathan Swift's (the author of "Gulliver's Travels") "A Modest Proposal", where he proposes a radical, comedic solution to a real life problem.

A Modest Proposal

In an episode of The Simpsons, Homer Simpson’s toast says it all. “To alcohol: the cause and solution to all of life’s problems!” Alcohol abuse is a serious problem in our society today. Many people each year die from drunk driving accidents, and alcohol poisoning is also a common killer. People do many things they may not normally do when they are under the influence, but that isn’t always a bad thing. People have been gathering for thousands of years to share a brew or two, maybe a glass of wine.

Alcohol has the power to unite people of all shapes and sizes, and all different colors as well. When a man at a bar is drinking to forget his ex-girlfriend or his cheating wife, the bartender and fellow bar mates have always been there to lend a helping pint. People who go to bars have a great time, even with complete strangers. It’s nature’s liquid confidence that helps break the ice when there’s a bad call in the big game or you sit down next to that girl, wanting to order her a drink. Alcohol has united men and women alike for years. Anyone and everyone looks like a supermodel after a few shots. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that such a miracle potion could be a solution to many more of the world’s major problems.

There’s a shirt that sells in Urban Outfitters that reads “I’m a drinker, not a fighter”. That shirt is one of their best selling items, and its motto is a better foreign policy than half of the countries out there, especially our own. That’s why it should be the policy of all countries around the world. The leaders of every country should be forced into a small area to spend the night with alcohol and each other. Think of the possibilities! George W. Bush could match Kim Il Jong shot for shot to see who wins a contest more intriguing than the nuclear arms race. Tony Blair and Jean-Pierre Raffarin could put their countries’ differences behind them, and have France and the U.K. finally agree on something, or at least not hate each other. Leaders of third world countries could boost their reputations with a lot of rounds or just a few party tricks. I heard Hugo Ch├ívez can open bottles with his eye sockets. Some leaders would get a funny nickname that the media would love to use, and they’d have a story for the ages. Greece’s Kostas Karamanlis could be “Schnoz”. I heard Italian Romano Prodi is the next Fabio.

With this proposal, everybody would win! There would even be world peace. The treaties may be a bit messy, but they still count even if there’s a stain or two, right? They can’t use a partisan item such as holy water to baptize such a document. With a little holy brew, there certainly won’t be any germs on the paper. The leaders would have a whole new group of friends that they never would have considered as such before. If all the world leaders were friends, wouldn’t the world be a much happier place? Sure, there would be the occasional practical joke, but that’s much better than violence, isn’t it? So there’s the proposition. If we can forget the negatives alcohol brings, it can solve anything!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

More classwork?!?

Here's a feature article I wrote for that same COM 201 class on a Winchester, MA celebrity.


(Speaking of that class, a project my group made for it is a finalist in a national competition! Our public service announcement about cultural tolerance is one of eight clips chosen among many. If our clip wins the contest, it will become the basis of a television commercial that will be aired nationally! Our group needs your help to make sure we win! Here's the link:
http://multimedia.thepeoplespeak.org/psa_contest.asp
The link on the bottom left, "Tolerance", is ours. Click on it to watch the 1 minute commercial. To vote, click the link at the bottom of the page, and rank Tolerance #1. The form only requires an email address so you can't vote twice. It won't send you anything. I really appreciate any and every vote I get. On behalf of my whole group, thanks in advance.)

Well, that was a long aside. Anyway, here's the article, which I submitted to the Winchester Star and hope to have published in the near future.


"Ed's Ballgame"


It was a starry night at Fenway Park. The lights blared. Humidity and excitement filled the air. 34,187 fans filled the tiny stadium, anxious for the pre-game ceremonies to begin. It was time for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team to be announced at the 1999 All Star Game. The PA announcer went through the list of players, some Hall-of-Famers, some soon to be: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Roger Clemens, and Jackie Robinson. The last of the twenty-five to be announced was the hometown favorite, the face of Boston Red Sox Baseball. The announcer spoke with a certain swagger in his voice. He too had been consumed by the excitement. “Ladies and gentlemen, here is the last member of the MLB All-Century Team. Please welcome the left fielder, number nine; the greatest hitter who ever lived. Ted Williams!” The crowd went wild as Williams rode down the field in a golf cart. Fenway Park was home to the greatest cast of baseball players ever assembled that night, as current all-stars socialized with all-time greats. Williams was in the middle of it all. Players, fans and broadcasters alike reveled in the heat of the moment. The happiest person in the stadium was not a baseball player, current or former. He was sitting in the press box, forty feet above the action. Ted Williams’ appearance had confirmed the fact that the voice of the Boston Red Sox, Ed Brickley, was living his dream.

Current Winchester resident Edward Brickley was born in Boston in 1936 to a school teacher father and a stay-at-home mother. His brother Christopher was born five years later, and his sister Lois, the baby of the family, came along in 1947.

As a child living in West Roxbury, Ed would leave his house at nine in the morning and come back in the dark after a long day of pickup baseball. He didn’t need anything but a ball to have fun.

Ed joined the military after he graduated from Boston College, and got married soon afterwards. He and Betsy Coady had 3 children together: Beth, Pamela, and Edward, Jr.

Marion Rogers was a neighbor to the Brickley family for eight years while they lived on Tufts Road. Besides praising him for his gentleman attitude, she also was impressed by his effort. “Ed is dedicated to whatever he’s doing. He never goes into anything half way. He worked hard for years to provide for his family, and still had time to spend with them.”

Marion could tell Ed was particularly happy about his jobs with both the New England Patriots and Boston Red Sox. “Ed was passionate about his jobs, especially the ones in sports. You could tell he really loved what he did.”

Ed’s favorite athletes have always been those who give their best effort. They play the game the same way Ed did as a kid. That is the reason he liked former Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra so much, as well as Ted Williams, his favorite player of all time. He loved Ted Williams so much that his daughter named one of her children after him. The passion Williams and Garciaparra showed and the effort they gave for their job were the same Ed would have for his jobs in sports.

Ed’s first sports-related job was with the New England Patriots. In 1966, Jack Dwyer, a childhood friend of Ed’s was down a man and needed an extra statistician for his team. He asked Ed to join, and Ed happily agreed. When Jack resigned in 1975, Ed became the head statistician. Ed remained in that role until 1985, when he retired. His official title was chief statistician and official scorer. As a statistician, he and his staff had to record all the stats during the game. As the official scorer, he used his knowledge of the rules of football to record stats and other game data such as the distance of field goals and length of penalties. Ed said his time with the Patriots was very enjoyable, but also very time consuming. “I left for church early in the morning, then headed to Foxboro [Stadium] before 10 am. I would finish the stat sheet late, and get home close to midnight after each game,” Ed stated. At the end of each game, the chief statistician had to announce the statistics to the media in the press box. Little did Ed know that the announcing experience from this job would be useful later in his career.

Ed did not work in sports again for another decade, but he continued to be the avid fan he always had been. He retired from his job at Polaroid in 1996, and got an important phone call just months later. In March of 1997, he received a call from another friend of his. His friend (who shall remain anonymous) worked in the Boston Red Sox front office. Ed had been trying for years to get a job with the Red Sox. Finally there was an opening. He was not told much about the job. Ed’s friend asked him to come in for an interview, in which the details of the job would be explained. That one interview turned into a series of sessions with various members of the Red Sox front office. At one of the later meetings, the interviewer asked Ed, “Have you ever considered a public address job?”

At first, Ed thought he was kidding. “My voice isn’t good enough,” he replied with a smirk.

Many other people were auditioning for the job, including a handful of radio broadcasters. The interviewer told Ed to read the script that had been prepared for all of the candidates. After frantically searching for a few minutes, the interviewer could not find the script.

Ed looked at the interviewer and asked, “Can I just give the 1949 Boston Red Sox starting lineup?” The interviewer allowed it, and Ed announced the lineup for a team that hadn’t played together in forty-eight years. His reason for choosing the 1949 squad was that “it has Ted Williams in it”.

Ed came back a few more times for follow up interviews. The Red Sox had found their man. Ed got a call in late March that determined his fate with the Red Sox Organization. His friend greeted him, then proclaimed, “I have good news and bad news.”

Ed answered, “I’ll take the good news first.” He waited for the caller’s response, anxious to hear the result.

“The good news is that you’ve got the job. You’re going to be our Public Address Announcer,” his friend replied.

“There can’t be any bad news then,” Ed joked.

“The bad news is that the pay stinks.”

“You’re going to pay me too?” Ed asked, chuckling.

Just weeks before the start of the 1997 season, Ed Brickley had a new job. He was working for his favorite sports team, something he had always wanted. On Ed’s first day as the Public Address Announcer, the Red Sox played the Seattle Mariners. It was opening day, 1997, and Nomar Garciaparra was the Sox’ leadoff hitter. Nomar was first Sox player he introduced, and he soon became his favorite. “Now batting for the Red Sox: the shortstop, number five, Nomar Garciaparrrrra!” Ed shouted, smiling. As the words left his mouth, he knew this was the job for him.

The greatest moment of Ed’s PA career came at the 1999 Major League Baseball All Star Game, the aforementioned scene that he will never forget. “That night was beyond description. It was great for me, but also for anybody that liked baseball and followed the Red Sox and the story of Ted Williams,” Ed recalled. “The pre-game ceremony was one of the greatest moments in Boston baseball history. After the introduction of Williams, it was fantastic. The control room was loaded with Fox TV and MLB executives, and when Ted came on the field, the whole room was wiping their eyes. I still get goose bumps when I hear the introduction.”

In 2002, the Boston Red Sox were sold to a group of investors led by John Henry and Tom Werner. With new ownership came new employees. Luckily for Ed, he was not laid off. However, he lost his position as the PA announcer. When Ed spoke of the PA job, he had nothing to say but positive remarks. “I loved everything about my job with the Red Sox. I had another three letter word for it: joy. The people I worked with-- I use “work” euphemistically-- were wonderful. It was a delightful atmosphere to be in. Some of the greatest moments of my life happened in the Fenway Park press box.”

Ed now works in the Legends Suite, which has many famous visitors. Since he got his new job, Ed has been able to talk to some of the Red Sox greats like Luis Tiant, Jim Rice, and Dennis Eckersley. He may not still have his favorite job, but he also loves the one he currently has. “It’s quite an honor to speak with those men. I really enjoy being in their company.”

One of Ed’s favorite aspects of the game of baseball and his job is the unpredictability involved in both. “That’s one thing that makes baseball so great because you never know. On a given day, anything could happen.” That unpredictability, the magic of baseball fuels Ed’s passion for the game. That magic was on the field that summer night in 1999. It was there at Ed’s first game as PA announcer. Ed Brickley truly enjoys what he does. Because of his passion and determination, Ed Brickley has experienced that magic, and got to live his dream.

A Real Tear Jerker

If you're looking for a boring writer that only covers one form of writing or one topic of discussion, then you're on the wrong page. Here's a sample of what separates me from the blah-de-blah blogs out there. This was a memoir I wrote for my COM 201 class last semester. It's a little lengthy compared to my previous posts, but I like to think my intelligent readers can handle it. It's a nice change of pace from my sarcasm and sports talk.


"Uncle Nick"

I grew up in Winchester, Massachusetts. It is a rich town in a rich state in one of the richest countries in the world. I was brought up having a summer house, and I never had to worry about having enough food or money. I knew that life was hard for billions of people, but could not truly comprehend the hardship so many people had to go through. The biggest struggle in my life was doing well in school, and that was not much of a struggle at all. I was immature and ignorant, and didn’t necessarily care to be informed of what life was really like. If somebody had explained to me what I was about to experience, I would not believe them.

All forty high schoolers cram into the tiny bus, feeling like sardines. The bus is almost full now, with all of us “ready” to take the journey across the city of Washington, D.C. From the difference in the environment, it will seem like it’s across the world. Being uncomfortable is unfamiliar to most of us. We are used to spacious cars with air conditioning, not cramped buses. The stale, humid air makes the ride unpleasant, to say the least. The temperature is unbearable, especially when the bus is stopped. The sun pierces through the roof and walls like a spear through a whale’s blubber. Nothing can distract us from these conditions. The bus starts moving, driving away from Georgetown University, our home for the week. The ivy covered buildings seem like a mirage as we leave the school and head closer to the center of the city. The area is now more commercialized, with a Starbucks at every corner. I could certainly go for a nice cold frappuccino right now. Those five dollar money sinks are the official drink of the people on our trip. The bus ride goes on and on, and time passes slowly, if at all; we cannot get there soon enough. This city is only ten square miles, but it feels like it never actually ends. We turn onto Maryland Avenue, and there’s an abrupt change in the city’s appearance. It’s so hot that I don’t really care or even notice the changes. Not that I would have anyway. I was oblivious and immature. There are no more rich neighborhoods, no businesses in sight. Large, elegant homes have been replaced by cold brick buildings. Nice shops have turned into crummy convenience stores and run down restaurants. We eventually reach a collection of blocks with bars over the windows and triple locks on the doors. It’s still so hot! The street lights are broken, and the sewers are filled with litter. The sidewalk is lumpy and crooked, and the lawns have only patches of green grass. We finally turn onto Carver Terrace, after what seemed like hours in the bus. Our physical voyage is complete, but our emotional one is just beginning. Had I been paying attention during the drive, I would have been intimidated by my surroundings. Instead, I just walk casually off the bus like everyone else, unaffected by the harsh environment. Little do I know that I am walking away from all that is familiar to me; my experience will hit me like a brick wall.

“Welcome to Carver Terrace Day Camp,” one of the leaders says formally. “There aren’t too many rules here, other than no fighting and no swearing. Sharing is a must. Have fun with the kids. That’s why we’re all here”. Coach Cliff coughs as he finishes his statement. He may have meant what he said, but not too many people believe him. The kids are here to have fun. We are here to make sure they have fun, and don’t hurt each other. Who said that would be fun for us? They’re so different from us. They’re a bunch of whiny little poor kids who argue and get hurt. They won’t even want us around. Luckily, I am very wrong, and I am about to find that out.

Most of us visitors are standing around, waiting for something to happen. The kids are running amok, screaming and yelling with delight. I don’t really know what to do. I’m not the most mature person. Apparently, this is easier than I thought. A few kids grab my hands and ask me to play as if they had known me since they were born. They pull me over to the street and start to play tag. All the running around is hard, but the children move like cheetahs on the prowl. They smile all the while, and a small feeling of happiness enters me.

I have been playing tag for a while now, running and screaming and yelling with the kids. After a long game, I decide to take a break. One boy, Maurice, decides to sit down with me. I had talked with him briefly during the game, and found out a little bit about him. He is nine, and his favorite baseball team is the Baltimore Orioles. He grabs a piece of chalk and starts drawing on the street. The object he is drawing looks eerily like a tombstone. He starts to write letters in pairs inside the shape. He’s done drawing, and I’m almost afraid to ask what it is.

“This is a tombstone,” he says nonchalantly. “It’s for all the people that died in my family”. I look down at the sets of initials, and count eight of them. He tells me about all his relatives that died: his grandmother, who died of a heart attack, and his uncle, who died from cancer. He tells me about his cousin, who got caught in crossfire. When he is finished, he whispers a prayer for them under his breath. I put my hand on his shoulder and say I’m sorry for his losses. “That’s very nice of you to say a prayer for them,” I tell him. He smiles at me, and asks a question. “Ki ride on yo neck?” He asks. I am confused, but he speaks more clearly this time. “Can I ride on your neck?

“Sure,” I reply, and I bend down to let him on my back. He jumps on, and rides around for a few minutes. “I’m so tall!” he exclaimed, as we ran around the block. This is only the beginning of my friendship with Maurice.

For the rest of the week, we play kickball together. We play tag together. We play Spongebob Squarepants after he decides I have the best Patrick Starfish impression in the whole world. Some of the other kids see how much fun we’re having, and they join in too.

After we’re done, Maurice and I walk back from the park to the block where the camp is. “I wish you were my dad,” he says calmly.

“But you said you love your dad, and that he’s great,” I reply. My heart pounds in my chest as I fumble for a good response.

“Well, then I wish you were my uncle. I’m gonna call you Uncle Nick from now on, okay?” He answered.

“Okay.”

“Hey Uncle Nick, you wanna go grab a drink?”

“Sure,” I answered. We got some Kool Aid, and before we knew it the day was over.

Leaving Maurice at the end of the week is one of the hardest things I’ll ever have to do. Unlike most kids working there, I live four hundred miles away. I cannot come back and visit sometime. I tell him this, but he doesn’t understand.

“Will you be back on Monday?” He asks. I tell him no, but that does not bother him. “What about Tuesday?” He says.

“Maurice, I’m sorry. But I don’t know when I’ll be back next. It might not be for a really long time,” I say sadly.

“But I don’t want you to leave,” he whimpered.

“I know. I don’t want to leave. But I have to.”

“I’ll miss you,” he says.

“I’ll miss you too buddy,” I answer. I give him a big hug as tears trickle down our faces. “Promise me you’ll try hard in school, okay? Don’t get into trouble, either. You’re a great boy.”

“Here,” he says, as he grabs a napkin. He writes his address on it and hands it to me.

“I’ll write to you soon,” I tell him. “Goodbye.” I hug him again, and slowly walk to the bus. He grabs my leg and won’t let go. One of the adults with our group comes over and gently pulls him off. As the bus drives away, I wave goodbye, and Maurice chases the bus down the street, waving and yelling.

I notice for the first time the terrible conditions on Maryland Ave as we head back to the school. How did I not see this before? Maurice was so trusting, and it cost me no effort to become a great friend to him. I no longer am immature. It amazes me to conceive how important I am to Maurice. Maurice showed me that everyone is the same, no matter where you are from. We all need to love, and need people to love us. Both Maurice and I needed that connection. I was a random person who had no connection to him, and he treated me like family. When I left, I felt like I lost someone important in my life. That relationship helped me mature. I now see how tough the world really is, and notice my problems are nothing compared to that of millions of people in my own country.

For days afterwards, I feel depressed. The journey back to Massachusetts is infinitely longer than from Georgetown to Carver Terrace, both in miles and in emotional difficulty. I still think of Maurice, and the great times we had. I now understand how lucky I am to live where I do, and to have the opportunities I have. For seventeen years, I had been sleeping; I was living in a dream world. Maurice opened my eyes, and showed me the truth. I needed to grow up, and that is exactly what Maurice helped me do.

I will write back to Maurice a month later, but he will not respond.

I was right... sort of

The next article was the last of three articles I sent to the Freep in hopes of landing that weekly column. It didn't have the jokes of Mack Simms or the arguments of BU Hockey, but it certainly was clever. The ultimatum of my Super Bowl prediction was right. The score, not so much. The game would have been a lot better had it followed my plan. Check this out.


An Eerie Comparison

It was the scenario that all of us in New England thought was impossible.The Indianapolis Colts defeated the New England Patriots for the AFC title, and are headed to Super Bowl XLI.

I’ve been a Pats fan since the days of Bill Parcells, Drew Bledsoe, and Ben Coates. Not seeing my team make it to another Super Bowl made me mad, but maybe I’m just spoiled. I was looking forward to a Pats-Saints match-up that would make me happy either way it turned out.

If the Pats won, they’d have four Super Bowls in six years. If the Saints won, it’d be a great story the entire country would enjoy. How could you not root for a team that had been through so much? It was a win-win situation for any Pats fan that truly loves football. Unfortunately, neither the Pats nor the Saints won their game.

To tell the truth, I would have been happy to see either of the NFC teams in the Super Bowl. If the Chicago Bears beat the Saints (like they did), then it would be a rematch of Super Bowl XX. The Pats had beaten the Bears earlier this season, so another championship was a reasonable expectation. They could finally avenge their 36 point loss in January of 1986. As long as the Pats beat the Colts like they always did in the playoffs, I would be happy. The problem with that was the Pats didn’t beat the Colts.

The Patriots had beaten Manning countless times before in the regular season, and both times they faced him in the playoffs. This time was different. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady had a role reversal in Sunday’s game. Manning came through in the clutch, and Brady threw an interception late that ended the Patriots’ season.

The Bears’ defense will be a formidable opponent for Manning and the Colts in Super Bowl XLI. The Bears had the best opponents’ points per game average in the NFC. Middle linebacker and team leader Brian Urlacher had 142 tackles, which was 5th in the NFL, and fellow linebacker Lance Briggs wasn’t far behind with 134.

The AFC’s best offense will face the NFC’s best defense on February 4th, but don’t expect the result to be similar to Super Bowl XXXVII, when the NFC’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers routed the Oakland Raiders of the AFC, 48-21. This time around, the AFC team has a much better coach and the smartest quarterback in the game.

Super Bowl XLI won’t be like the Bucs’ blowout, but someone still has to win. I say that someone is the Indianapolis Colts. Quarterback Peyton Manning leaped a big hurdle in his playoff career, guiding his team back from an 18 point deficit to win. The Colts defense in the post season has been exponentially better than it was in the regular season. Manning can dissect defenses better than a neurologist can a brain, and coach Tony Dungy has given his players plenty of reasons to believe they’re a complete team. They also have the most clutch kicker of all time in Adam Vinatieri. The Colts have the momentum of beating their rivals where they had faltered before, and they will have the backing of countless fans in the country. Manning is the league’s most marketable player, and a world championship will only increase his value and ensure he doesn’t become the Alex Rodriguez of football.

The Bears may have a great defense, but it won’t be enough to stop the Colts. Chicago’s defense has been mediocre at best the last half of the regular season and throughout the playoffs. It gave up less than 300 yards per game the first 10 games of the season, but has given up 300 or more in the last eight. They beat the Saints, but quarterback Drew Brees still managed 354 yards passing.

The Colts are on a tear, and the Bears are doing just enough to get by. Barring a key injury for Indianapolis, the Colts have all the momentum. The Bears were underdogs last week against New Orleans, and they are currently cast in that same role for the championship. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a re-energized Bears team out there that proves it belongs in the NFL’s title game, but it won’t be enough to defeat a quarterback determined to change his big-game reputation. Now that Manning has slain Goliath, what is left but a celebration?

As a Pats fan, I’d hate to see it. Our enemy finally beating us, and winning a championship with our former kicker. It’s a nightmare. Unfortunately, it’s probably going to happen. I’ll still root for the Bears, but I wouldn’t put any money on ‘em. The “storybook” ending this season could be the quarterback winning the Super Bowl MVP after he led his team down the field. Vinatieri would hit a long field goal as time expired, and Bill Bel-- I mean Tony Dungy would run onto the field with delight. I guess the dream is right, but it’s got the wrong team.

Until next season, GO BEARS!

Rejected!

Well maybe that article didn't get me anywhere on the Daily Free Press staff, but I certainly had some people entertained. If you don't like jokes, you're pretty messed up. If you're pretty messed up, stinks for you. Hopefully you like numbers. If you do, you're in luck. This next article has a lot of them. Some of them shiny like goals and assists, some not so much. They're all pretty important I don't know what you do or do not like. What I do know is that this next article makes a great point.



BU Hockey Needs a Scorer


The BU Terriers hockey team was ranked number one in the nation at the end of last season. Despite an early exit in the NCAA Tournament, they had a great year. They won the Hockey East Regular Season and Tournament Championships, the Beanpot, and beat Boston College four of the six times they faced them. Their 26-10-4 record was the best they’d had in years.

In that successful 2005-2006 season, the Terriers averaged 3.5 goals per game. They spread the puck around efficiently, and had many accurate shots that tired their opponents’ out quickly. This season, they’re number seven in the nation. They have only four losses so far, more than halfway into the schedule. They have six ties already, which can be seen as a good or a bad thing. However, their scoring is down to 2.6 goals per game, almost an entire goal less than last year. If that average were just a bit higher, the Terriers could have a few more wins under their belts.

The Terriers need to pass and shoot the puck more often, and they need those shots and passes to be more efficient in order to succeed on offense. The best way for them to achieve all this is for someone to step up and become a big scorer. Take a team like the University of New Hampshire, for example. UNH is the number two team in the nation, and it has five players with more total points than games played. Boston University has none.

BU’s shot percentage is also down from 11 percent last year 10 percent now. This season, they are taking 26 shots a game, which is significantly less than last year, when they took an average of 31.8 shots a contest. In 22 games so far this year (compared to 40 last year), the Terriers have less than half the assists they did. Last season, they had 230 assists, and this year that number is down to 94. In other words, they’re worse at puck control than they were last year.

If the Terriers want to realistically compete for a national championship, then they need an improved offensive presence in their game. Whether it’s one player carrying on the team on his back or a few players feeding more off of each other doesn’t matter. They simply need to work better together as a team when controlling the puck.

The Terriers are on pace for 104 goals this season, and last year they had 140. The departures of co-captains Brad Zancanaro and David Van der Gulik, as well as John Laliberte and Dan Spang left the Terriers with 121 less points this year, and many of those points have not yet been replaced by other team members. Not too many teams can bounce back from losing four of their top eight scorers, including three of the top five like BU did. Whether or not they do relies on their effort and determination.

Jack Parker has been a great coach for years, and his basic offensive strategy certainly doesn’t need any changing. Tweaking a few minor details (such as more stress on puck control fundamentals) might get the most out of the players on the team this year though. The passing on the team has not been pretty, and it has led to many problems in the offensive zone.

The Terriers haven’t been able to set the offense up well on many occasions. They have been shut out twice this season, and scored only one goal four times. Their passing needs to be more accurate to set up better shots. With better shots (and more of them certainly wouldn’t hurt, either), BU’s scoring would go up significantly.

Parker’s defensive strategy has worked like a charm for his team this season. The team defense has improved since last year, even though so many key players were lost. Defenseman Dan Spang even signed a deal with the San Jose Sharks. Brandon Yip has been out most of the year due to injuries. The team’s goals per game allowed is down to 1.7 from 2.4 last year. Opponents’ shot percentage is down, as is the number of assists.

The team also has improved its penalty killing in terms of opponents’ goals and their shot percentage. Simply put, if the Terriers combined last year’s offense with this year’s defense, they’d be unstoppable. The only problem with that is they don’t have a flux capacitor, a Plutonium source, or a DeLorean.

The most likely solution for the team is to spend more time on offense in practice, because it doesn’t seem like any transfer students or walk-ons will help the team now. The return of Brandon Yip could also be a good source of momentum for the Terriers. Last year, they improved phenomenally when co-captain David Van der Gulik returned mid-season from an injury. Getting their number six scorer from last year back could certainly jump start the offense. I’m sure Jack Parker has a few tricks up his sleeve as well, and with any luck, the Terriers will contend for an NCAA Title once again.

The Beginning of the End

For my first post in this blog, I figured I'd start off with a bang. I wish I knew what that bang was at this point. I was always more of a late bloomer. Anyway, here's some stuff I had written before that will be a great intro to my style. Who am I kidding? These articles are all over the place in style, and some of my later ones will vary in the topic too. That's the way it should be. I consider myself a renaissance man of writing, whether it be sports, comedy, drama, memoirs, or haikus. As most of you (hopepfully) know, I'm an avid Boston sports fan, and I tend to have some radical (though often logical) opinions of our teams. Whether it's proposing the Celtics dump Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge or the Sox NOT trade Manny, they don't seem too ridiculous to me. Maybe I'm not so crazy after all. I wrote a few articles in January to submit to Boston University's Daily Free Press for my application as a weekly columnist. Here's article 1.a. from my application packet:

Mack Simms: Rucker Extraordinaire


(NOTE: Names have been changed to protect the innocent.)


Mack Simms is not your typical BU freshman. Mack used his amazing cunning and smooth moves to land himself a spot in a suite at 1019 Comm. Ave. as just a first year student. It is there that he has dominated the competition in every sport he plays, whether it’s in-suite wiffle ball, dorm soccer, or the eternal sign of greatness, Sweet Tart Basketball. Don’t let his charming looks fool you. He’s athletic. He’s smart. He’s strong. He’s manly. He’s an aspiring student in the College of Arts and Sciences, and an inspiration to millions. Mack Simms is the real deal.

The first thing Mack did when he came to Boston University was sign up for FYSOP. During the week before classes, Mack helped protect the environment in Massachusetts. “Giving back to the community is good stuff,” Simms said. “It really pumps me up and makes me feel good inside.”

Mack was named by his parents for the incredible macking skills he had out of the womb. He claims it’s a lot easier to attract girls than you’d think. “The ladies really can’t resist ‘Enter Sandman’. It’s a great way to show them that you’re not afraid of the dark,” Simms said.

Renaissance man Mack Simms is great with words, music, and schoolwork. However, his forte is anything that involves raised levels of adrenaline. Simms is an avid snowboarder, frequent gym-goer, Sweet Tart Basketball Challenge winner, and a forward on the BU Rugby team. He is also an exclusive member of the Cote Invitational Football Tournament, where he displays his athletic prowess on the gridiron.

“I like playing everywhere on the field,” Simms said. “I enjoy playing any and every position because it’s good to share responsibility and the ball. I’m a pretty sick player, so I help the team out a lot.”

In the beginning of the school year, Mack introduced himself and was immediately loved by all. “Living with him is an inspiration,” current roommate Payton Young said. “He opened my heart to the sport of rugby. Mack makes me a better person.”

Mack is one of the few freshmen to have a shot at making the A team for rugby, after an impressive fall season. He is a forward for the team, also known as a rucker. (When a team member has the ball but is on the ground, the ruckers make sure the ball is not taken from them.) He is also a jumper on line-outs (the rugby version of a free kick). He had zero points last season, and looks to improve on that total in the spring.

“I’m kind of a big shot,” Simms said of himself on the field. “I love working with my team too though, if they’re sick at rugby. Points aren’t really important to me, mostly because I didn’t get any.”

When he’s not practicing rugby or working out to train for it, you can catch Mack on the ski slopes if you’re lucky. “I’m a big snowboarder. Nothing’s better than shredding some powder, whether it be at Mount Okemo or Mount Vesuvius,” Mack said.

Of Mack’s incredible boarding skills, his friend, Xander Livestrong said, “He may not be Shaun White, but he’s the face of snowboarding to me.” Xander has never seen Mack snowboard.

Another testament to Simms’ versatility is his dominance of the Sweet Tart Basketball Challenge. In the aforementioned challenge, one has to throw packages of sweet tarts into a small candy cauldron from five feet away. Mack dominated the competition, winning five of the 14 rounds in a group of four fierce competitors. “I really couldn’t take it. He got in my head,” suitemate Craig Hinkle recalled. “He’s the best in his sport, and every sport is his sport.”

What’s the secret to Mack’s success, you may ask?

Peanut butter sandwiches. Those tasty treats are a simple solution to achieve Simmsean excellence.

“I love peanut butter sandwiches. They’re pretty much a staple to my diet. The protein helps me when I work out, and they’re totally delicious! I probably eat three or four everyday,” Simms said.

So there you have it. Eating just a few sandwiches with Jiff, the choosy moms’ brand of peanut butter and some Canadian white bread, you can be just like my hero, Mack Simms.