Monday, December 31, 2007

Pics of the Year


Question: Who's Hayden Licking?

Answer: Kent Huskins

That's a lady who loves her team

10 Remaining Minutes of Freedom...

Murderer's Row

Story of My Life

Story of His Life

Artistic Genius

Poetic Genius

Duelling Pegs







Mother Nature

4.3 IP 0.00 ERA 3 SV

Late for the Prom


Defies Comment


Shirt of the Year

Chris Farley Sighting

And Finally: the origin of the phrase "When you mess with the Bull, you get the horns".

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Fantasy Heartbreak

For the second straight year, the ARE YOU HARD All-Stars have fallen just shy in the finals of the Natty Light Fantasy Football Pool. And as Marv Levy can attest, it doesn't get any easier the second time around (or the third... or the fourth). And with the WWE Replica Heavyweight Championship Belt in the building for today's matchup, let's just say that this one stung a little; or to put it more accurately: I feel like I've been kicked in the junk by a caber-weilding Scotsman for the second consecutive year.

And I know that it would be impossible for a human being to care any less about another man's fantasy football roster (because as we know, when guys talk fantasy football, they're not actually listening to what the other guy is saying; they're just waiting their turn to talk about their own team), but I feel as though my guys deserve some stroking for bringing me as far as they did this year. Because in the end, making the finals in a 30 team IDP league in consecutive seasons is almost something to be proud of. So just think of this as one of those Oscar Awards acceptance speeches written by Richard Burton that you never got to hear.

I first need to thank Eric Mangini for motivating Bill Belichick and the rest of the Patriots this year, which allowed my late round selection of Wes Welker to turn into the fantasy steal of the year, and in turn made Jabar Gaffney an essential piece of the ARE YOU HARD All-Stars down the stretch. I need to acknowledge the patellar tendon of Cadillac Williams, whose tearing opened the door for Earnest Graham and made him the fantasy monster that he was for me in 2007. Steve Smith was up and down all year, but he came up huge for me last week in the semi finals and allowed me to upset the heavily favoured CITY GUY. Frank Gore showed a lot of heart playing through injuries, and despite the fact that he would have to be classified as a fantasy disappointment, I love the way he plays and would take him again in a heartbeat. Selvin Young showed flashes of brilliance coming off the bench, but just couldn't get it done in the end. Rookie wall. And a memo to Todd Heap for holding my TE position hostage all year: remember when Mrs. Finkle suggested that Dan Marino should die of gonorrhea and rot in hell? That's kind of how I feel about you right now. I'm taking Jason Whitten next year.

On the defensive side, you just can't say enough about Charles Woodson and David Harris. Those guys have a place on my D any year. And my kicker, Mason Crosby: who would have ever guessed that a kid from Lubbock, Texas could make such a difference. And finally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention my quarterbacks: Trent Green (55 pts), Kellen Clemmens (47 pts), Todd Collins (28 pts), Kyle Boller (12 pts), Byron Leftwich (11 pts), Kelly Holcomb (9 pts), Steve McNair (-1 pt), and Gus Frerotte (-4 pts)... And now you can see why I will forever be a bridesmaid, never a bride.

Congratulations to Team Slovenia on their first Natty Light Title. What can you say? When the opposition is rolling out the likes of Kurt Warner and Bobby Wade, all you can do is tip your cap and concede that the better team won.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas Dysfunction - Wild Turkey Murder vs. Gingerbread Obliteration

Let me begin by saying that there is a long and storied history of Holiday dysfunction in the McCallum family. The tradition began back in the mid-60's when my Grandfather; presumably after a little too much Christmas Eve mirth and merriment; while attempting to retrieve the presents that Santa had stowed away in the loft above the garage, ended up taking a spill off the ladder and wound up on the concrete floor of the garage with a couple of broken ribs. The torch was proudly passed on to my father who, in his younger days, would enjoy the mirth and merriment of the season with a little too much gusto, and there are tales of hitchiking in blizzards and public urination that we need not delve into. As the eldest McCallum in the next generation, I was a quick learner and was keen to pick up on what my role was supposed to be, leading to an incident one Christmas Eve where I stayed at a Christmas party drinking Scotch until after 3 in the morning, missing the family holiday tradition of eating shrimp and sausage rolls while watching "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation", and capping it all off by passing out in the basement and puking violently into my sleeping bag until sunrise...

We call this time-honoured family tradition "Ruining Christmas", and it has become an ongoing competition to see who will be the family member lucky enough to "Ruin Christmas" that particular year.

This year, however, it seems there was competition for the coveted crown of Christmas Destroyer. I'll leave it to the dotcomrades to determine the victor:

Contestant #1: My Dad

So, after a ridiculously action-packed Christmas Eve day of visiting my Aunt and her boyfriend in Waterdown, my Unkle and Aunt in Oakville for brunch and multiple cocktails, the Sullivan family for many more cocktails, the Foley family for a quick hello, and then embarking on a 3-hour drive through slush and sleet before finally arriving in Dornoch, we settled in for a night of "National Lampoon's" and a few choice beverages, and it seemed as though we were well on our way to a Christmas gone according to plan. Could it be possible that we go a Christmas without having someone commit a highly offensive act of sacrilege? Say it ain't so.

Luckily, we awoke the following morning to a ghastly sight:

It turns out that my parents have been having a few visitors to their property of late. And despite the fact that one of the main reasons they moved to Grey Bruce County was to be closer to nature, apparently they enjoy playing the role of God and determining exactly which brand of nature they remain close to. And wild turkeys are not the kind of nature they enjoy being close to. So on the morning of the 25th, my dad decided to celebrate the birth of Christ by playing Lee Harvey Oswald to the Meleagris gallopavo's Kennedy. Apparently, wild turkeys were not present at the nativity scene.

The result was that, as we sat in the living room with the shimmering tinsel bedecked tree and Bing Crosby singing for a white Christmas, we were experiencing the magic of family and experiencing all of the wonders of the holiday season while looking out onto the scene of a crime, the blood-spattered carcass still laying splayed in the snow not 50-feet from the house. A holly jolly Christmas indeed.

My favourite part of the whole incident is my dad's rationalization for brandishing his .22 at something as innocent as a large-ish Galliformes. He loves to tell me: "It's a different world up here. You have no idea what it's like. Up here, it's kill or be killed." I'm not sure of the last time that a pack of malevolent wild turkeys ransacked a man's house and systematically slaughtered his family, but I guess I'll have to take his word for it.

Contestant #2: My Girlfriend

So, Sandra and I, for reasons both logistical (her parents live near Chatham, mine near Owen Sound - a five hour drive in the best of conditions) and nostalgic (neither one of us could remember the last Christmas spent with just the family), decided to spend Christmas with our own respective families. And I have to say, it was a real treat for both of us. I can't remember the last time the five members of my immediate family spent 36 hours together, and it really was something special, the above-mentioned senseless killing notwithstanding. And I believe Sandra felt the same way, expressing how special it was to spend Christmas day with her family.

In any event, Sandra's older sister Jessica had flown home from Newfoundland for the holidays, which was another reason Sandra wanted to be home with her family. Now, as has been documented in the past, Sandra and Jessica have a "love-hate relationship"... and that might be understating it. They seem to get along famously on the phone (I know this because, whenever I do something wrong, Sandra is almost immediately on the phone with Jessica explaining exactly what I did that was so "insensitive"), but when it comes to seeing one another face-to-face, those estrogen-fuelled sparks seem to inexplicably ignite, more often than not leaving a path of bitterness and tears in their wake. Believe me when I say that is usually isn't pretty.

Cue Boxing Day. After a December 25th filled with joy and happiness, the Tipping girls were a little less-than-chipper early Wednesday morning as they awoke to embark on the 5-hour drive to an Aunt's house in Thornbury for their extended family Christmas. I guess they were already way behind schedule, so as Sandra was packing the truck with everything they needed to bring to Thornbury, Jessica decided that she wanted to take the family's new car for a spin. Again, they were already late, so Sandra felt that a leisurely drive through town probably wasn't in the family's best interest. Toss in the fact that it was 7 o'clock in the morning, Jessica wasn't helping to load the truck, and Sandra is a middle child, and you can probably imagine that Sandra was antagonizing her older sister. But again, this is purely speculation on my part.

What happened next was the sort of thing you'd expect to see in the sequal to "A Christmas Story."

Apparently Jessica had spent the previous two days working tirelessly on a gingerbread house to bring as a showpiece to the family Christmas on Boxing Day. She'd fashioned the sculpture in the shape of a lighthouse (because she lives in Newfoundland), decorated it with candy (including gummy sharks swimming in a candy blue sea), and had even gone so far as to melt sugar into liquid in order to give the lighthouse windows an authentic feel. It warrants mentioning that Jessica is one of the most creative people I know, so I can only imagine what this thing must have looked like... Breathtaking.

In any event, she'd completed the gingerbread house late Christmas night, and had it packaged in a cardboard box with layers of duct tape for safekeeping, all ready to be shipped along with the family up to Thornbury.

Which brings us back to Boxing Day morning. Jessica is scraping the ice off of her parents new car so she can take it for a joyride, while Sandra is packing Jessica's stuff into the truck. Sandra doesn't like the fact that Jessica is unnecessarily making the family even later than they already are, so she makes some kind of middle-child comment to the effect of: "If you want to go for a drive, that's fine... we'll just see if your gingerbread house makes it onto the truck in one piece..." As she said this, she was pretending to kick the gingerbread house, but claims that she didn't make any contact.

The insinuation of sabotage must have made Jessica go off, because she immediately charged Sandra with the ice scraper and swung like a pre-Mitchell-report Slammin' Sammy Sosa, hitting Sandra in the arm with such force that she fell to the ground screaming and writhing in pain. You probably know where this one is going.

So infuriated with her sister's violent actions was Sandra that she got up from the ground, dusted herself off, and proceeded to treat Jessica's priceless work of edible art as if it were a 45-yard field goal attempt in the Foxboro snow, booting that Gingerbread Lighthouse halfway to Thamesville, and obliterating it into a thousand pieces in the process. I'm pretty sure that estrogen-spiked bedlam ensued, and you can use your imagination as to what kind of action unfolded in the aftermath.

Needless to say, there was a palpable tension in the air for the next 5 hours as the family crammed into the truck and drove on their merry way to experience all of the magic that the holiday season has to offer. And perhaps even more needless to say is the fact that Sandra and her sister haven't spoken to one another since.

So there you have it. Two families. Two Christmas's ruined. And I'm proud to say that I was a part of both of them.

Where do you think you're going? Nobody's leaving. Nobody's walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We're all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We're gonna press on, and we're gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny fucking Kaye. And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he's gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse.

- Clark W. Griswold

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Carlton Banks

To this day, this remains the single funniest clip from one of the great shows of the early '90's. And I have to say, this scene has aged like a bottle of French Pomerol. I really can't get enough of it, particularly the views where you can see Will dancing along at the side of the stage. A strip tease for the ages.

BONUS COVERAGE: The Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song, done in Italian. Because really, the only thing better than late-80's Young MC style hip-hop is late-80's Young MC style hip hop done in the language of romance.

DOUBLE BONUS: Runner up in the world's greatest male strip tease competition.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Twelve Tracks of Christmas

In the past 24 hours, in response to my mini-rant aimed at my unadulterated loathing for the pecuniary-commercial complex into which this this festive time has seemingly morphed, I have had an unprecedented number of people tell me how much they hate Christmas. Clearly, this was not my intent, because like the song by the same title suggests, "it's the most wonderful time of the year"... or at least it's supposed to be.

So to put a little Christmas cheer back into the season, here is my list of the top 12 holiday inspired tunes you may or may not come across this Yuletide season.

Honourable Mention:

"The Twelve Days of Christmas" - Doug and Bob McKenzie
- An absolute classic

"What Christmas Means to Me" - Stevie Wonder
- A groovin' Christmas classic

"Back Door Santa" - Clarence Carter
- The first sexually suggestive Christmas track

"Jingle Bells" - Rasheed Wallace and Company
- Needs to be seen to be believed

"Christmas Time is Here" - Alvin and The Chipmunks
- I still want a hula-hoop

"Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" - Vaughn Monroe
- Played a prominent role in the most influential action film of the last half-century

12 - "Happy Christmas (War is Over)" - John Lennon and Yoko Ono

My dad will probably disown me for putting this song at #12, and I won't argue that this is one of the all-time great songs. But the fact is, it gets so overplayed this time of year that it's almost too much for me to handle. And although I'm not at the point where I would ever change the station when it comes on, I'm thinking about it. This song is also tainted for me because we used to half-heartedly sing it after the annual Christmas assembly back in highschool; you know, a bunch of affluent and upwardly mobile kids from the suburbs pretending to sympathize with those who have nothing, most of whom are immediately thereafter jumping into their parents' S.U.V.s and driving home to dig through the attic in order to see whether or not they're getting that new discman they asked for... it always seemed a touch contrived for my liking.

This track might have been a couple of places higher were it not for the fact that Yoko Ono was prominently involved.

11 - "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" - U2

This is a great rockin' version of a great, rockin' song. I can remember air-guitaring to this bad-boy in my parents' living room back in the day, and as far as I know, the world is still waiting for indie rock sensations Los Locos to cover this track at the Christmas/New Year's party that never quite happened.

10 - "Christmas in Hollis" - Run DMC

The first time I heard this song was in the 10th grade when my mom came home with a copy of "A Very Special Christmas". I honestly couldn't believe that Run DMC was on a Christmas album, and to this day, I think this remains one of the most original Christmas songs on the books. Nothing says Christmas like chicken and collard greens. Bonus points for sampling Clarence Carter's "Back Door Santa". Click HERE to see the totally rad 80's video that accompanies the song.

9 - "Little Saint Nick" - The Beach Boys

A Beach Boys original that for all intents and purposes could have appeared on the "Little Deuce Coupe" album. All of the signature falsetto melodies are there (Brian Wilson showing his genius yet again, even in the realm of cheezy novelty songs), and I oftentimes find myself walking down the snow-blanketed city streets singing that "run, run, Reindeeeeer" refrain that just sounds so damn good, no matter what the time of year.

8 - "Do They Know It's Christmas?" - Band Aid

The original charity super-group song, this classic has managed to endure the test of time. The intent was to raise money and awareness for the starving children in Ethiopia, and I think it's safe to say that the mission was accomplished. I still love this song, and I think the message is as poignant as ever: we really should be trying to feed the world, you know, instead of trying to race your neighbour for the last Guitar Hero at the local WalMart.

"Do They Know It's Christmas" seems to bring it back to what it's all about. It's kind of like the anti-pecuniary-commercial-complex anthem.

Click HERE to see what George Michael looked like before anyone ever suspected he was anything beyond a vigourously heterosexual heartthrob.

7 - "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" - Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band

Despite the fact that this isn't the version you'll be hearing on the radio this year, you have to admit that it's pretty killer. And I won't lie to you: every time Clarence does his "HO-HO-HO-HO...", I get all warm and giggly inside. I really feel like a kid whenever I hear this song, and you can tell that the guys in the band are like little kids up there too.

My favourite part of the radio version is in the introduction when The Boss gives the imagery of Asbury Park in the winter ("It's all cold down on the boardwalk") and then asks the band whether or not they've been good ("you guys been practicin' real hard?"). An essential track around the McCallum household come December.

6 - "Jingle Bell Rock" - Bobby Helms

When we were driving to Boston last weekend, I was sitting in the back of the Sully bus with a cooler full of beer. There was an inch of snow on the inside of the windows, which meant that Christmas couldn't be far off, but truth be told, I hadn't even given it a thought. We obviously had the tunes blasting, digging every track coming across the dial, when all of a sudden this Bobby Helms classic came across the airwaves. We were 5 dudes careening down the highway at one o'clock in the morning, and not a one of us would have ever dreamed of changing the channel. It was unanimous. We were digging "Jingle Bell Rock". To me, that's a great song.

It was at about that time, singing drukenly along to that rockabilly classic, that I thought to myself, "You know what? I need to do a top-12 Christmas song piece." So you could say that "Jingle Bell Rock" was the inspiration for this column.

Bonus points for appearing in "Lethal Weapon".

5 - "Fairytale of New York" - The Pogues

Forget Christmas tunes. The magnum opus of Shane MacGowan should appear on any sensible human being's top-50 list of all-time tracks. The hope and optimism amidst the despondent misery in this song is so quintessentially Irish that it might as well be the Island's lonesome lullaby. To me, there might not be any better opening line than: "It was Christmas eve babe / In the drunk tank..."

In fact, the entire lyrics warrant printing. They're that good:

It was Christmas Eve babe
In the drunk tank
An old man said to me, won't see another one
And then he sang a song
The Rare Old Mountain Dew
I turned my face away
And dreamed about you
Got on a lucky one

Came in eighteen to one
I've got a feeling
This year's for me and you
So happy Christmas
I love you baby
I can see a better time
When all our dreams come true

They've got cars big as bars

They've got rivers of gold
But the wind goes right through you
It's no place for the old
When you first took my hand
On a cold Christmas Eve
You promised me
Broadway was waiting for me

You were handsome
You were pretty
Queen of New York City
When the band finished playing
They howled out for more
Sinatra was swinging,
All the drunks they were singing
We kissed on a corner
Then danced through the night

The boys of the NYPD choir

Were singing "Galway Bay"
And the bells were ringing out
For Christmas day

You're a bum
You're a punk
You're an old slut on junk
Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed
You scumbag, you maggot
You cheap lousy faggot
Happy Christmas your arse
I pray God it's our last

I could have been someone

Well so could anyone
You took my dreams from me
When I first found you
I kept them with me babe
I put them with my own
Can't make it all alone
I've built my dreams around you

- Shane MacGowan

To me, nothing depicts the Irish experience in North America quite like that song. Maybe I just come from a dysfunctional family, I don't know. But it's hard to believe that someone that looks like this could be "one of the best writers of the century", as Joe Strummer put it. All in all, a Christmas essential.

(As a side note, it is an absolute tragedy what happened to Kirsty MacColl. You can read about her mother's fight here.)

4 - "Christmas in Prison" - John Prine

This is a song that holds a special place in my heart. Not because I've ever had to spend a Christmas (or, much to my story-teller's chagrin, even a night) in prison. But because on Christmas, I always find myself thinking about all of the people who aren't as lucky as I am. All of the people who are away from their families, or worse yet, who don't have any family to spend the holidays with. The thought of it gets me every time.

But this song shows how you have to make the best of things, even when your heart is breaking from sadness and loneliness. "It's Christmas in Prison, there'll be music tonight / I'll probably get homesick, I love you, goodnight."

3 - "Blue Christmas" - Elvis Presley

This is essentially an album of polar opposites. On the one hand, you have Christmas classics like "Blue Christmas" (one of Elvis Presley's greatest achievements, as far as I'm concerned), "Santa Claus is Back in Town", and one of my personal favourites, "Santa Bring My Baby Back to Me" (done to the tune of "Teddy Bear"); and on the other, you have every other song on the album... And believe me when I say that each and every one of them is gawd awful. There is absolutely no middle ground. Completely mind boggling. It's like a riddle wrapped in an enigma.

But "Blue Christmas" is so good that it more than makes up for the rest of the album's deficiencies. I'm telling you, if I'm in a karaoke bar with a few rum and eggnogs in me in the month of December, there's little doubt that I'm bringing down the house with "Blue Christmas".

2 - "Mele Kalikimaka" - Bing Crosby

For it's role in "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" alone, this Bing Crosby classic easily cracks the top-2. I can't hear this song without laughing aloud at all of the implications, not the least of which is cousin Eddie in his flippers, banana-hammock, and stained wife-beater.

And I know that there are numerous claims about what kind of a father and husband ol' Bing was, but you can't tell me that there is anything that sounds like Christmas more than that "White Christmas" album. We pretty well have it playing every Christmas morning as we sit around the tree. And plus, if it was good enough for Ralphie and his family, then chances are it's good enough for yours.

1 - "A Christmas Gift for You" - Phil Spector

This is the album by which all other Christmas albums are judged. Just look at the artists: Darlene Love, The Ronettes, The Crystals, Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans... It reads like a who's who of 60's girl groups and the wall of sound. And the track list is about as festive as it gets: Frosty, Rudolph, Santa... all of the key players are there. Darlene Love's version of "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" blows U2s out of the water, and The Ronettes "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" is like nothing you've ever heard.

I can remember being a kid and begging my mom to put this record on for me... It was June. She had no idea why I wanted to listen to Christmas music in June, but it didn't matter to me. It wasn't even about Christmas. Even at such a young age, it was only about the music.

Here's hoping this Christmas is full of sweet sounds for everyone.

Monday, December 17, 2007

One Week Remaining

There is only one week left until Christmas, which essentially means there is only one week left for guys the world over to brave the elements and head out into the modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah that constitutes the local shopping mall.

Maybe it's because the older I get, the more I find myself turning into my dad (that sound you just heard was my girlfriend breaking up with me), but with each passing year I find myself filled with more and more disdain for the entire pecuniary-commercial-complex that Christmas has become. I mean, can't we all just get together with our families to get uproariously drunk while singing Christmas carols the way baby Jesus intended?

I don't know. Maybe I'm just bitter about the fact that I hate venturing into malls more than Michael Richards hates the invention of the camera phone.

Don't get me wrong: I still love Christmas. I always have. And when the day comes that I have a few rugrats of my own running around, I'm sure this time of year will take on an entirely new and special meaning. But you have to admit, there are times when all of the stress leading up to the night of the 24th feels a little like this:

Friday, December 14, 2007

Friday Night Music Video Showdown



This one is almost too close to call. First of all, you have Bill Shatner in his absolute prime. With the exception of this clip, Captain Kirk has never been better. Throw in a screaming Conan and some crowd noise, and what you have is an instant classic.

And then you have Frankie & the Knockouts. This video absolutely slays me. When you realize exactly what's going on at about the 10 second mark, it's hard to believe that nobody thought of this first. Sheer brilliance.

But I think you have to give the nod to Tall John on this one. Apparently Tall John used to be a writer for Jimmy Kimmel Live, and he put together this compilation of cheezy 80's love ballad cliches as a 40th birthday present for Kimmel. The fact that he's singing this classic himself puts it over the top... and I almost pissed myself when he broke the mirror.

Feel free to cast your votes in the comments section.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Love That Dirty Water

It had been more than five years since I'd last visited the great city of Boston, and to be honest, when I was there five years ago, we didn't really get a feel for what the city was all about... unless you consider swimming in the pond at Boston Common and hanging out at the IHOP as the only two white people at three in the morning to be "what the city is all about" (we also took in a Sox game, ate at the Union Oyster House, and spent a night at a ridiculously swanky {for us} hotel overlooking Fenway, for the record). So with our good buddy Flats having been down there for more than a year, we figured we were waaaay past overdue for a roaddie, the guts of which I present to you here.

I met my buddy Sully at his place in Oakville just before four o'clock on Thursday afternoon, and considering we knew we'd be waiting hours for Ronnie, we decided to have a few beverages with Lorne (Sully's old man) and my Dad (who just happened to be passing through town) while awaiting Ronnie's arrival. In case you didn't know, Ronnie tries to make a habit of single-handedly delaying roadtrips by multiple hours... I think it's a middle-child thing. In any event, we eventually got the call from Ronnie and met him, Dinner, and Sneeze over at Dinner's place where we drank one of Skeeter's beers and laughed uproariously at Skeeter because he was staying home... and by laugh, of course, I mean "congratulated him on his steadfast dedication to persuing a post-secondary education".

We all piled into Sully's 2006 Toyota Sienna (the Cadillac of mini-vans), and headed for that lonesome midnight highway. Considering we had planned on being on the road by 4pm, it came as no surprise when Flats called us at 7 and we told him that we were in Grimsby, a town that is geographically further from Boston than the town from whence we came, if one can even grasp that concept. So needless to say, we were not making good time.

After stopping for gas and food and duty free (4 cases of beer, 2 bottles of booze - a lackluster performance, if you ask me), we crossed the border without incident and began trekking the New York State Thruway. I was behind the wheel, but some of my esteemed colleagues decided to delve into the duty free purchases which we had conveniently stored in a cooler full of ice in the middle of the van... Yes, it was going to be that kind of a trip. Ronnie, feeling a twinge of guilt for having delayed us more than 2 hours, vouched to abstain from imbibing, and as a result, when I pulled over somewhere after Syracuse, Ronnie took the reigns and I joined Sully and Sneeze in the back seat for happy hour in the mobile bar. Completely illegal, I know, but the windows were so frosted (I'm pretty sure there was more than an inch of ice on the inside of the windows) that it was impossible to see what was transpiring on the inside... which is probably a good thing, because Sully, Sneeze and Dinner were half-cut by the time I joined them, and the battle for rear control of the van's HVAC system quickly turned into the most pointless debate of all-time, until it was supplanted by the debate to determine whether or not Sully's idea for a business could ever succeed... Did I mention that we were drinking?

Some of the sonic highlights along the ride were The Who's Who Are You?, Seger's Against the Wind, and Peter Frampton's Do You Feel Like We Do an unprecedented 2 times! But the supreme highlight of the trip took place when Sully made use of one of the dicarded receptacles to relieve himself (I managed to grab some classic shots but have chosen not to display them here, for obvious reasons). Really, the only thing funnier than a guy trying to piss into an emty beer can while kneeling inside a vehicle careening down the thruway at 120 km/hour is when that same guy tries to throw the can out the window and manages to soak the driver's side window of his parents new minivan in a fetid coating of his steaming urine. And yes, I am almost 30 years old and still find that funny. And no, this was not the funniest thing to happen in a vehicle on this trip. Also, Sneeze managed to pass out in the most uncomfortable position imaginable, remaining that way for the better part of two hours, the result of which will surely lead to thousands of future dollars spent at the chiropractor.

We arrived at Flats' place sometime after 3am on Friday, and we all piled out of the van and relieved ourselves, not learning until it was too late that the shrubs and walls we were in the midst of watering actually belonged to a place of worship... I mean, there's a pretty good chance we were all going to hell before this weekend, but that particular incident pretty well locked it up. Flats greeted us at the front door, we gave him a disgusting boozed-up man-hug, and soon we were all resting drunkenly in the comforts of his living room, Sam Adams in hand, watching amateur porn until close to sunrise the way you're supposed to after driving for nine hours. I'm pretty sure DJ Smitty and his girlfriend made an appearance at one point, but I was essentially unconscious by then, resting peacefully on a bed near the window that might as well have been a screen for all it did to keep the wind from coming in (when I woke up my hair looked like Ace Ventura's from the windscour, and I had a Lloyd Christmas caliber snotsicle).

I have no idea how Flats managed to wake up for work Friday morning.

We woke up sometime after 10 o'clock on Friday with screaming hangovers (Sneeze couldn't even get out of bed) and walked down the street to Charlie's Sandwhich Shoppe, a South End staple that managed to find it's way onto Danny Tanner's Clipboard of Fun. (Whenever I go to a city, I compile a list of must-hit food joints and funky bars. This list is somewhat derogatorily referred to as "Danny Tanner's Clipboard of Fun", taken from the classic Full House episode where they all go to Hawaii to celebrate the fact that Jesse and Joey have been living with DJ, Steph, and the Olsen twins for 2 years). In any event, the breakfast at Charlie's was all it was billed to be; steaming hot greasy spoon fare in a local diner setting, the most friendly, accomodating waitress on the planet, and pictures of history and celebrities on the walls; further reinforcing the fact that you just don't wanna fuck with the clipboard of fun. Serious street cred was earned.

After breakfast, we crawled back to Flats' flat and greened out for a couple of hours (I went out searching for a Dunkin' Donuts because I heard they were like STDs on a hooker in Boston... I walked for 10 blocks in Back Bay and didn't come across a single D-squared... doesn't sound like any hooker I've ever been with), before deciding that we needed to get out of the house. Despite the fact that it was December, paying a visit to Fenway was a no-brainer (second best use of the phrase "no-brainer" on this trip, for the record), so we piled into the Sully bus and headed for Yawkey. We parked in a spot that almost guaranteed the vehicle's towing, and stumbled off down the street, with Ronnie showing a complete disregard for the law by drinking a Silver Bullet en route... it was 2:30 in the afternoon. For some reason, when on these roadtrips, some of us slip into permanent "force field" mode; Ronnie was definitely the leading candidate at this point.

After numerous attempts to bribe security and maintenance guys to let us in to take a few pictures (the stadium was closed for renovations) and a couple of candid snaps with the Splendid Splinter statue, we managed to stumble upon a group of people standing around outside the stadium listening to what appeared to be a tour guide going on about cantilevering and city codes. Out of sheer curiosity, we stood around this group of about 30 and listened, and when the tour guide said, "Alright, let's head inside and continue the discussion there", who were we to disobey? It turned out that this was a group of BU Engineering students, and they were there to learn all about the structure and what Lucchino and the boys were doing to bring the stadium up to speed. Fantastic. We joined the group somewhere near the back, and before you could say "Bucky Dent", there we were, sitting inside one of baseball's great cathedrals as the snow fell silently in the outfield. It was absolutely beautiful. And educational! We learned everything about the past, present and future renovations, and I even managed to ask a few questions about what they were using for their waterproofing in the outfield bleachers, and whether or not they had any plans to replace the membranes on their roofing systems in the near future (ABC, baby!... Actually, I was hoping that I'd be able to use the information to justify writing off the $70 I spent on gas... we'll have to see about that). Some of the BU students caught on to the fact that we weren't supposed to be there, but they were totally cool about, joking that we were grad students sitting in for extra credit. We even managed to get in on the big group shot they took at the end. Great times. As the group was headed up to the luxury suites to check those out, we confessed to our guide that we were actually from Toronto and had snuck in. He thought it was pretty funny, but then realized that he could definitely get fired for such a transgression, and told us: "But seriously: You have to get the hell out". Too funny.

We made it back in time to let Flats back into his apartment before the onset of hypothermia (we had his only set of keys and he was waiting on his front porch in the snow storm when we got there), and began getting ready for the Raps-Celts tilt. Getting ready for the game, of course, involves little more than showering and drinking, but we needed time for these things nonetheless. Ronnie had put a call in to Tennessee legend Suicide Brian who was back in town for a few weeks, so he managed to make it to Flats' place in time to have a few quick beverages before joining us to head out to try to track down tickets.

It was about this time that we received a text message from Foley saying that his flight was delayed (he was unable to get Friday off, and as a result had to play the role of big-shot by flying into town for the game). No surprise, really, but a kick to the groin no-less. We jumped in a cab and received an impromptu history of the Sudan from our cab driver (the only good cabbie we met all weekend, as documented in this piece), and amazingly, both Suicide and I had a working knowledge of what he was talking about (both having read Eggers' What is the What). We got to the TD Banknorth (it is a travesty to refer to it as "the Gahden" - that place is long gone, and the new rink is about as run-of-the-mill as it gets. If you walked in blindfolded, you'd think you were in Buffalo, or Ottawa, or Philly... a damn shame). We left the ticket brokering to the two big sales guys, and Ronnie and Dinner didn't disappoint... if it's opposite day. They turned down 6 $25 tickets together in favour of 6 $15 tickets that they were told were together, but ended up being the exact opposite of together. But we really weren't all that concerned because we knew we'd be sitting together regardless (force fields), and for $40 a pop we were in the door and loving life. We had a couple of quick Sam Adams at The Fours, a ridiculously good sports bar outside the Banknorth, and then headed inside for the tip.

Foley eventually landed safe and sound, and I met him halfway through the first quarter to give him his ticket, missing OTHL legend Tim Green by mere seconds. Foley inexplicably forgot to get Greener's cell number, but he more than made up for it by the fact that he was wearing a Calderon jersey. Along with my Bosh jersey, that made approximately five Raps jerseys inside the arena... Needless to say, Raps fans don't travel in the same numbers as Leafs fans do. It was pretty funny, because all of the Celtics fans in our sections were incredulous as to why we would ever drive nine hours to watch a Raptors game, and then our boys in red went out there and showed us exactly why nobody would ever drive nine hours to watch them. To say that they got blown out would be like saying Lindsay Lohan likes the occasional cocktail. Apparently the final score was 112-84, but believe me when I say that it was nowhere near that close. The only thing I know is that the Wade Boggs Specials were going down smooth, and that Brian Scalabrine is an absolute legend in Boston. The crowd simply can't get enough of him, and when he drained his first bucket, I thought the roof was coming off the place. He's like the Wade Belak of the Boston Celtics. Another monster highlight was looking up at the rafters and seeing all of those championship banners... Wow... Just... Wow... It must be what it's like to be a Leaf fan, only the exact opposite.

With three minutes left in the game, we decided that it was time to pay our good friends Chuck and Jack a visit (we left to the taunts of: "Where the hell are you going? Ten straight 3's and you're right back in this thing!" Classic), and let me tell you, the Coach and Swirsk did not disappoint. First off, they were interviewing Scal, a class move all around; and secondly, when I told the Coach that we were meeting him in half an hour at Sully's Tap, he seemed genuinely disappointed that he couldn't make it ("You know I'd love to boys, but I gotta be on a plane in an hour". Lord love Jack Armstrong). They posed for this beautiful pic, and with that, we were out of there to grab a shot of Sully in front of his lifelong dream, and then went for a stroll through the Boston night where Flats gave us an impromtu tour of his newly adopted hometown. Huge thumbs up to our host for remaining lucid enough to point out historical landmarks (Park Street Church, site of the Boston Massacre, Faneuil Hall...) as we staggered through the financial district on our way to Felt.

There was a serious dress code in effect at Felt so I had to pull an unprecedented reversal by pulling the switch on my Raps jersey, which I now had to wear as an undershirt beneath my go-to for the rest of the night. Apparently Foley didn't get the memo, because he showed up in Seinfeld-esque white sneakers, a Felt faux-pas, which meant that Ronnie and I had to stand outside and pull the "good cop/bad cop" on the bouncer ("there are 15 of us in there and we're all spending well over $100 tonight; why don't we ask your manager if he wants us to walk out of here over a pair of white running shoes..." Works every time). And yes, Foley owns more pairs of dress shoes than our entire entourage combined, but when he's on vacation he likes to live on the edge a little. Personally, I think he just likes to feel the love. He wants us to fight for him, to reaffirm his place in the group. Hey, I have no problem with that. Maybe he wasn't held enough as a child, I don't know.

Once inside the bar, I managed to bump into a few of the seanmccallum dotcomrades. I really had no idea that this little spam-collector had such a strong following in New England, but I guess I owe Flats huge for doing yeoman's work as far as spreading the good word goes. I must admit that it can be a little disconcerting when someone you've never met before calls you by your name because they recognize you from your blog, but I'll take that any day over "why are you leering at me, you creep."

In any event, we were at Felt because it was Flats' girlfriend's Christmas party, and despite the fact that we were completely uninvited, we quickly made ourselves at home. I hit up the buffet like it was going out of style, and the bartenders really had no idea what hit them. And I have to say that Flats' Lady - Mary Callaghan, of the Callaghan Auto Parts empire - just might be the greatest girl out there. She totally made us feel welcome despite the fact that we were the exact opposite, and she wasn't the least bit put-off by our seemingly cryptic barrage of colloquial vernacular and endless inside references; in fact, I think she may have even found some of what we said to be entertaining, which goes a long way in my books... I mean, sure, she probably broke up with Flats two minutes after we left Sunday morning, having seen the company he keeps, but from what I could gather, Mary Callaghan gets two massive thumbs up. Anyone who can handle the likes of us for a weekend should be grappled onto with hoops of steel.

So we drank our faces off at Felt, and for awhile there was talk of catching last call at the Beacon Hill Pub, but by then Ronnie had found himself a comfortable place on the couch next to the jackets, and we just couldn't bring ourselves to wake him. Apparently, after going green, he had managed to score Flats' keys. Not exactly the best decision we could have made, because after the bar emptied and we were able to catch a cab back to Flats' pad, it was only then that we realized: a) Ronnie wasn't with us, and b) our host was sans latchkey. By this time, Ronnie's phone was dead, so Foley, Flats, Mary and I stood around outside the apartment debating what to do. We eventually decided that we were heading back to Mary's place in Southie (I was singing the Springsteen song as we came to the decision, imploring them to "Meet me at Mary's Place / We're gonna have a party"), and then just as we were walking out to Columbus Ave. to snake a cab, around the corner walks Ronnie, a google map courtesy of a benevolent bellhop in hand, completely obvlivious to the fact that he possessed our only means of entry.

When we got back inside, Ronnie went to work on a can of Irish stew while the rest of us chowed on a disgusting concoction of Taco Bell cheese spread. Sully and Sneeze showed up at some point, and when I asked Sully why he hadn't just gotten in our cab, he found himself in the middle of a 'Nam flashback and began yelling: "NO MAN GETS LEFT BEHIND!!!", completely unaware that he'd left Dinner behind. A Little Buddy debate broke out, and Flats, clearly fed up with the pointless argument (ironically, "pointless arguments" were Mary's highschool "pet peeve"), decide to end it all by picking up Ronnie's steaming bowl of Irish stew and dumping it all over my hand, shirt, and pants. It was scalding hot and I still have blisters on my arm, but it was more than worth it to end that particular argument. Without batting an eye, Ronnie opened another can, and the stew lay resting on the floor for a good two hours before anyone thought to clean it up. It was definitely that kind of night.

And some point Dinner showed up, and despite the fact that he has no recollection of how he got home or what ensued in the aftermath, I'm here to say that he was damn near hilarious when sharing an air-mattress with Sully and asking permission to "kiss his back", and after being denied, pleading "Can we at least snuggle?" I nearly pissed myself when he said that, but apparently Sully wasn't in the mood, because a Brokeback-like Donnybrook broke out, and by the time it was all said and done, there was blood all over the floor (and all over Sully's clothes), a friendship on the rocks (they made up the next morning while sober), a good friend of ours nearly evicted (he lives directly above the landlord), and Foley out the door in search of a hotel room.

It was pretty much what you might expect from a Friday night in Boston.

We woke up even more hungover on Saturday than we were the day before, and in the category of "not making my head feel any better", each and every one of us recieved an individual ear-full from Flats' 70-year old landlady for the previous night's transgressions ("What the hell were youse doin' up there?!? My Goad Damn ceiling's got a crack in it!!! You're a buncha animals up there!!!). I wanted to kill myself.

We again decided to hit up Charlie's for breakfast, seeing as it did the trick 24 hours earlier. Same result this time: top notch breakfast nosh. After stealthily sneaking back into the apartment and avoiding all contact with the landlady, Foley, Sneeze and I decided that we needed to hit up a Starbucks so we could sit cross-legged and recite the works of Walt Whitman. And let me tell you, it was just what the doctor ordered. A little highbrow culture to break up the savagery running rampant in that apartment.

Walking the streets of Boston, I have to say, was one of the absolute hightlights of the weekend for me. Boston is an absolutely beautiful city. There is so much history that you don't even know where to begin, and the architecture gives the place a kind of old world charm that so many other places are lacking. I really couldn't get enough of the 5 and 6-storey brownstones. It's the way a city is supposed to be. And on a nice day, you can walk almost anywhere. A totally different vibe than Toronto.

Anyway, we toured the market and the harbour before meeting up with the rest of the guys (Dinner needed to shop for some Nike apparel; Sully was walking around town with a bag full of Alexander Keith's). Sneeze and Dinner continued on with their shopping spree while the rest of us let the Danny Tanner Clipboard of Fun takeover. First stop? Pizzeria Regina in Little Italy. Huge thanks to my Unkle Mike for the recommendation. Again, Boston's Little Italy just feels like a Little Italy is supposed to feel, and we eventually found Regina's and went inside to split a pie and a pitcher of Sam Adams. I'm telling you, this place was the quintessential pizzeria. It was totally rammed on that Saturday afternoon, but the owner still found time to stop by our table to shoot the shit for a good fifteen minutes while the rest of his staff was getting slammed. Great guy, and he shot Flats his number in case Flats ever needed to score some tickets (the guy is obviously well connected, and he has season's tickets to both the Celts and the Sox), as well as giving us the inside scoop on what some of the Red Sox players are really like (Big Papi? Salt of the Earth. Manny? Completely full of himself. Papelbon's wife? Rhymes with "runt").

With our bellies full of picture perfect pie, we stumbled off down the road to hit up Sullivan's Tap, a place that has been lovingly referred to as "the most depressing bar in Boston". As soon as we stepped inside, it was pretty easy to understand why: the place smelled like a barracks latrine, and let's just say that natural lighting wasn't exactly at the top of the architect's wish list at the time of construction. But we quickly sidled up to "the longest bar in Boston", and the bartender started pouring Sully Lights and telling great stories about the history of the place. Shortly thereafter, we hit up the Hoop Fever; a game that I would pay almost anything to have in my living room; for our weekend's worth of exercise. Flats showed his supreme athleticism by dropping a 60 on us, and I'm pretty sure we would have stood around there all day drinking Sully lights and pumping quarters into that game, but we were already 45 minutes late to meet the shopping couple, so we sadly had to exit stage left.

We popped into the Beacon Hill Pub on Charles Street for a couple of Brubakers (fantastic econo-beer in 16 oz. recycled bottles) and a round of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons (we met a girl named Sherry, so obviously a serenade was in order). We also lit up the Fooseball table (it looked a little something like this), and talked to some Steelers fans from Vancouver. But the highlight of the BHP experience came in the form of a schizophrenic-amateur-homeless-man's Marshall Mathers, sans meds, who assured us he was born to rhyme any line (when I offered: "give me a hook that swings with orange", I expected a shivving), before teaching us an intricate handshake that concluded with a move that was enthusiastically christened: "the exploding panty-dropper". After crazy Jay wandered off to panhandle and search for the ghost of Sean "Diddy" Combs, I had to justify to Sneeze on a number of occasions exactly why the BHP was on the clipboard of fun... Um, hello? Are you not sampling these exquisite Brubakers? Needless to say, I guess the BHP is a little more exciting at 1am than it is at 6pm. But I loved it nonetheless.

We walked down Charles Street all the way to Boston Common, and again, I can't stress enough how gorgeous a city Boston is. You really can't say enough good things. By the time we got to Back Bay, some of the guys needed to hit the apartment for a shower, while the rest of us were quite content to continue the Pub Crawl, so we stopped in to Flash's Cocktails for a few choice IPAs and some Irish Coffees with serious bite. DJ Smitty joined us for a beverage, and we immediately began dissecting the Trent Edwards era in Buffalo. We concluded that there is definitely Brady-like potential in the man. Things are looking up in the Queen City.

We decided to do a big-shot dinner Saturday night and hit up Legal Seafood for 9pm. It wasn't exactly on the clipboard of fun, but believe me, after the afternoon dedicated to all things on the list, everything was gravy for me by that point. The clam chowder was pretty solid, and the swordfish was top shelf. Most of the guys opted for the Lobster bake, and nobody even came close to polishing it off. When the bill came, I realized that I had inexplicably left my bank card in the ATM across the street... This is the third time this has happened to me in the past 2 years... And sure, if you're going to lose your bankcard, you're better off being in Boston than say... Bolivia, but this fact didn't make it any easier to swallow. I am a complete idiot. I called the bank immediately, and luckily nobody broke into my account and withdrew the $36 I had remaining. That was a close one.

We jumped into some cabs and arrived at Revolution Rocks sometime after 11, and as soon as we walked in the door, I wanted to kill myself. I think this shot of Foley pretty well somes up the way I felt about the place, but again, I was on borrowed time by this point. The funny thing is, they don't serve beer in glass bottles there, and the reason, I quickly concluded, is because if they did, I would have been repeatedly smashing myself in the face with them. I had to leave the bar every 30 minutes or so because the air was so bad in there (Sneeze actually had an asthma attack at one point, prompting the future hypothetical exchange: "How was the bar last night?" "So bad that it gave me an asthma attack". That's a shitty bar). But multiple Sam Adams and Bud Lights later, things started to pick up, and when they played Nirvana for 2 minutes, I began air guitaring on one of the speakers and all was good in the world.

I guess they kick you out at exactly 2 o'clock in Boston, because it felt like they called for last call and then the bouncer was immediately announcing: "You ain't got to go home, but you got to get the FUCK outta HERE!!!" (nice tip of the cap to the Fresh Prince of Bel Air). I'm under the impression that Foley took home the bigshot of the year award for picking up the tab on the bottle of Goose... what a legend. It took us a good 40 minutes to flag down a cab out front of the bar, and I'm pretty sure we received a call from the recently betrothed Phatty while wating, and I was told last night that we may even have left a couple of taunting messages for Skeeter during this time. I'm also pretty sure that we managed to perfect the "Exploding Panty-Dropper". Beyond those vague images, it was all a blur except for the ice-balls and the narrowly averted race riot.

When Foley was eventually able to score us a cab, myself, Ronnie, Dinner, Foley, and Flats piled in, and the cabbie then bore witness to one of the five greatest moments of my life. I can't go into explicit detail, but let's just say that there was a great deal of explicit detail being discussed, and there was a malfunctioning blackberry involved... When we stepped out of the cab at Mary's place in Southie, I literally collapsed on the sidewalk because I was laughing so hard. It was a Shakespearean moment of tragic revelation that I will never forget.

Mary was kind enough to offer some Sam Adams Light and her place for a few of us to crash in, and Ronnie paid back the favour by sleeping in Mary's bed, leaving her to rest for the night on a recliner. Class act.

We woke up the next morning, shook away the cobwebs, and got back on the road, heading for home. It was one of the great weekends I've had, and we are forever indebted to Flats, Mary, and DJ Smitty for showing us such a good time, and perhaps more importantly, for putting up with us. I for one can't wait to do it again soon.

Well I love that dirty water
Aww-Ohh, Boston: you're my home...

- The Standells

Monday, December 10, 2007

Kent Huskins: Heartbreaker

Editor's Note: The following post was written by the freshly devestated Lisa McCallum, who is a first-time contributer to You can read and hear more of her work at: Lisa McCallum's MySpace page.

Over the phone - and who knows how much that will cost on our cell phone bill - you suggested I make a sign for good ol' Kent Huskins. Well, let me tell you. All week I had been talking about him and how excited I was to possibly talk to him (I don't even know what he looks like or what position he plays, just that he's won a Stanley Cup and that's good enough for me!) so I went on and on to Blake about how cool the game was going to be. What an added bonus? I purposefully bought tickets for that specific game cause I just knew I'd have hook-ups.

So after our phone conversation, I made a stop at the drug store specifically to buy some bristol board so I could make a sign for Kenty. I even told Blake that I'd be embarrassed to hold it, but darn it - I'd do it for Kent. So, I then spent the next two hours painting "Oakville Loves (it was actually "hearts") Kent Huskins" in nice pretty paint. I was so proud of myself. Off we went to the game about 5:30pm - had to get there early to see the boys warm-up! What a perfect place to hold up my sign?

So, we get to our seats which were 7 rows up to the right of the net - money seats - we've got our big, tall beers in hand, the crowd is getting revved up for the big game and finally the players come onto the ice to warm up. As I'm getting the sign out from under our seat I heard Blake say, "I don't see him". Well, no problem I thought.. I'll just check what number he is in the program. 40. Defence. GREAT! I'm sure I'll find him now. Then I heard Blake say, "I don't think he's playing this game." "What do you mean he's not playing this game? What does that mean?" I was still completely lost and perplexed as to how some players "don't play" some games. I said, "oh so maybe he's just sitting on the bench and they'll only play him if they REALLY need him, but he'll be on the ice right?" or even better, "He's already warmed-up I bet, he doesn't need it tonight but he'll be playing. FOR SURE."

I'm not sure Blake knew how to break it to me. So just in case, I took a picture with my sign so I could somehow make it to your blog. I didn't just spend 2 hours on a sign I've never made for anyone else for nothing!! Still, I was keeping positive. Maybe he just didn't feel like warming up with the team, but SURELY he'd play.

................................weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeell........... 5 minutes before game time, 3 players are listed on the jumbotron of who is "Scratched" from tonights game: Kent Huskins being one of them. Can you imagine my disappointment? Heart. Broken.

Regardless, it was a WICKED game! 3 fights right in front of us and 3 out of the 4 goals in front of our net!! Great game but no Kent. As soon as I can get the picture onto the computer, I'll be sending it. I still hope to make the blog.

Heart broken and truly yours,


Flagging Down a Cab, Boston-style

For my money, there's no better way to flag down a cab than to pretend to throw ice-balls at them while stepping somewhat precariously into oncoming traffic.

In Ronnie's defense, almost every cab that drove past us had their "Vacancy Light" turned on (is "vacancy light" the appropriate term? It is now), and not one of them stopped to pick us up. Who the hell does that when it's 2:30 in the morning and -15 degress? Our limited weekend experience taught us that the cab drivers in Boston could be supreme A-holes, although the one dude from the Sudan who gave us a Coles-notes history of the Sudanese Civil War was top shelf.

(As a side note, 30 seconds after this video was shot, another cab driver responded to a black man's inquiry as to why he wouldn't pick him up if he had his "vacancy light" on by throwing a chicken wing at him and saying: "Take this. I hear you people like fried chicken"... I didn't manage to get the narrowly averted race riot that ensued in the aftermath on tape, but needless to say, the defense rests as far as the general character of Boston taxi drivers goes.)

More Beantown highlights to follow shortly.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Splendid Splinter

Ted Williams was one of the greatest hitters to ever live. He was the last player to hit over .400 (.406 in 1941), but lost the MVP that year to Joe DiMaggio, who put together a 56 game hitting streak in the same season. Teddy Ballgame won the triple crown twice (1942, 1947), took time out of his playing career to serve his country on two separate occasions, and hammered the last pitch he ever saw into the bullpen at Fenway Park. He's probably the best left fielder to ever play the game, but as far as Boston sports personalities go, he wasn't nearly as memorable as some of the other Sox tin hat franchise's storied history, and truth of it is, the above clip is more impressive to me for its footage of the old ballyards than for anything else.

As a result, to lead us into the upcoming weekend jaunt to Paul Revere's former stomping ground, here are some of the more entertaining figures in Boston Red Sox history, as well as the reasons we cherish them so:

Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd:

"That's what you get for building a ballpark on the ocean".

- Oil Can, explaining why the Sox-Indians game was postponed due to fog... And yes, the Indians still play in Cleveland.

Manny Ramirez:

Click HERE to see one of the all-time clips of Manny being Manny. My favourite part is the Red Sox announcers laughing hysterically as Jason Varitek grounds into the 1-6-4-3 DP.

"Sometimes you just wanna fix your friend's hair..."

Carlton Fisk:

There are few home runs more memorable than THIS ONE.

(By the way, they really need to bring back that tradition of fans running all over the field after a history-making home run. That looks like a lot of fun... except for the guy who gets the forearm shiver from Pudge.)

Bill "The Spaceman" Lee:

(Taken from Wikipedia) Lee's popularity was because of his personality, which gave him the nickname Spaceman. The USC graduate was an intelligent, articulate, humorous voice, and his outspoken manner meant his views were frequently recorded in the press. He spoke in defense of Maoist China (once visiting, only to lampoon it endlessly), population control, Greenpeace, school busing in Boston and anything else that happened to cross his mind. He berated an umpire for a controversial call in the 1975 World Series, threatening to bite off his ear and encouraging the American people to write letters demanding the game be replayed. He ate health food and practiced yoga. He claimed his marijuana use made him impervious to bus fumes while jogging to work at Fenway Park. He sang Warren Zevon songs at times, and in an act of mutual admiration, Zevon recorded a song entitled "Bill Lee" on his album Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School. In a college town like Boston, his views were shared by many youths, and they quickly became Lee's biggest fans.

Despite his views on off-the-field matters, Lee was respected by fellow players, who believed his cajoling of the press took pressure off the team, and his attitude on the field was pure business. He was intensely competitive, and worked quickly, which always endears a pitcher to his teammates.

But Lee would often speak out on matters concerning the team and was not afraid to criticize management, causing him to be dropped from both the Red Sox and Expos.

Lee countered his offbeat politics with a strong sense of the game. He is an avowed purist and traditionalist, speaking out against the designated hitter, AstroTurf and polyester uniforms, while conversely extolling the virtues of day games and Sunday doubleheaders.

In THIS interview while playing for Les Expos de Montreal, he revealed the secret to pitching success: "I just had a lot of pancakes before the ballgame, in the morning, and then I went out and had a beer and a steak, and ah... go get'em!"

Wade Boggs:

The subject of one of the greatest on-air interviews of all-time, the transcript of which can be read HERE.

And with that, I'm off to enjoy a few Boggs of my own.

Robert Gordon Orr

I'm not afraid to say that this tribute video gives me a mild case of the eye-sweats.

Just about anyone who was fortunate enough to have seen Bobby Orr play hockey will argue to the death that he was the greatest player to ever play the game. And the chances are, if you were to ask the consensus greatest player of all-time, Wayne Gretzky would probably tell you the same.

His numbers are absoloutely staggering: an unprecedented 8 Norris Trophies (I love the line delivered by Harry Howell when he won the Norris in 1967, quipping: "I might as well enjoy it now because I expect it's going to belong to Bobby Orr from now on"); winning the Hart, Norris, Art Ross, and Conn Smythe in the same year (first and only time it's ever happened); an incomprehensible +124 in the 1970-71 season (plus 124?); and perhamps most mind-boggling of all, winning the scoring title in 1970, as a defenseman... I mean, these are things that simply aren't supposed to happen.

Yet the kid from Parry Sound made them happen. He scored arguably the most famous goal in the history of professional hockey (second in my books only to Nikolai Borschevsky's '93 Game 7 overtime winner in Detroit), and his performance in the '76 Canada Cup on one leg is the stuff of which legends are made.

I remember a few years back on Coach's Corner when Don Cherry showed a highlight reel of some of Orr's most memorable plays. And the thing that struck me was how ridiculous Bobby made everyone else on the ice look. We're talking about the hundred or so best hockey players on the planet at the time, and they might as well have been me and the rest of the lads in the OTHL for all the chance they had of catching him. And the goalies were rendered unequivocally helpless. It was almost comical. They never had a prayer. And again: these were the best goalies in the world.

Gretzky was great. Lemieux was at times breathtaking. But neither of them could make the opposition look like a bunch of kids out on the pond they way #4 did. He was a man amongst boys.

Bonus Coverage: Bobby Orr on Don Cherry's Grapevine, taken from 1987. They really need to bring this show back. Love the concept of Grapes sitting up at the bar with Gerry Cheevers playing the role of Cherry's McMahon.

Click HERE for Part 1

Click HERE for Part 2

Monday, December 3, 2007

Basketball Jesus

Mythic Boston sports figure #2 in our four part series is none other than Larry Legend himself.

I was too young to really appreciate everything Larry Bird ever did on the basketball court, but his autobiography "Drive" was one of the first books I ever read, so I've had this image of a scrawny white kid shooting freethrows alone in an Indiana Gymnasium dancing around inside my head for close to 25-years. But through the magic of YouTube... WOW! I mean, this guy could literally do it all. And maybe the only thing better than his steals, 3-point buzzer beaters, ridiculous no look passes, and tenacity around the ball was his shorts. Those were absolutely glorious.

Click HERE to see a compilation of some of Bird's more ridiculous plays set to Cypress Hill's "Rock Superstar" (the pass he makes at the 1:13 mark should never be attempted by another white man. Ever.)

And Click HERE to see a piece put together which chronicles Larry Legend's best trash talking. That's right. Not only did the Basketball Jesus light it up with game on the court, but he had the bad-assed swagger to go along with it. He truly was a legend.