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[::.. cast of characters ..::]

AL(al) n.
Narrator of highest note.

LORI(lohr-ee) n.
The girlfriend. Slightly bratty. Arachnophobe.

CHARLIE(chahr-lee) n.
A dieffenbachia plant spawn from the great Mother Charlie in Woods Hole, MA.

[::.. archive ..::]

:: Friday, April 30, 2004 ::

Damn. I forgot to pick up some bourbon. I ran out last night.

And I passed three or four packies driving around today!

Oh! The humanity!

:: posted by Al on 4/30/2004 04:26:00 PM ::

Looks like someone goofed when they named this place "Kangaroo Island".

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA (Reuters)-- A koala population explosion on an Australian island has prompted calls for 20,000 of the furry, native marsupials to be shot to stop them destroying their island habitat and end a koala famine.

Some 30,000 koalas on Kangaroo Island, off the coast of the state of South Australia, are stripping the island of its native gum trees, destroying the ecosystem and causing a koala famine, say environmentalists and national parks officials.

"We are talking thousands of starving koalas," said Sandra Kanck from the Australian Democrats, Australia's third major political party.

"While they may be cute and cuddly we need to get beyond emotion to reality...my suggestion is professional shooters do it quickly and cleanly," Kanck told Reuters on Friday of the proposed cull.

The South Australian state government has rejected calls for a cull, preferring sterilization and relocation.

The Australian Koala Foundation also opposes a cull of the koalas, which on the Australian mainland are struggling to survive as urban development destroys their habitat.

Kangaroo Island tourist operators say a koala cull would severely damage the island's tourist industry.

"The koalas are so hungry they are eating pine needles," said Kanck. "What will tourists think of a habitat of denuded trees with desperate, starving koalas roaming the damaged landscape?"

Somebody please tell the South Australian state government to not be so P.C. about this situation, we all know the word "Cull" is a euphemism for "Shoot them fuzzy little bastards right out of the trees".

If the Aussies were smart about this they could turn it into a windfall by attracting hunters from all over the world.

"Come to Kangaroo Island and be the first on your street to blow away a Koala!" could be their slogan. Where else in the world would you legally be able to do something like that?? They could use the $$ they make off the "cull" to create koala habitats in New Jersey.

I'm just saying, if they're gonna slaughter them by the thousands, don't make it a total waste. At least throw a koala or two on the barbie. Koala Burger with cheese, anyone?

:: posted by Al on 4/30/2004 02:39:00 PM ::

:: Thursday, April 29, 2004 ::

3 out of 4 ain't bad, that's a 75% success rate. That rate of return makes you a genius on Wall Street!

His dive buddies didn't notice that they seemed to be missing something???

NEWPORT BEACH, CA (Reuters)-- A recreational diver forgotten at sea by a boat crew drifted five hours and prayed for his life before a Boy Scout on an excursion aboard a century-old ship spotted him.

Dan Carlock, 45, was left by his diving group Sunday as he drifted for hours about seven miles offshore.

He noted the time of day on his small, waterproof writing slate and took photographs of himself to document that he'd made it to the surface.

The spacecraft engineer for Boeing Satellite Systems and three dive buddies entered the water at about 8:45 a.m. Sunday, but Carlock had problems equalizing the pressure in his ears and he fell behind. He tried following his partners' bubbles, but he lost them.

He decided to end the dive after 15 minutes, but he was 400 feet down current from an oil platform where the boat was anchored. He blew his whistle to attract attention.

"I figured when the dive was over they would realize I was missing and come looking for me," Carlock said.

But they never came.

The boat left and headed for a shipwreck six miles southeast of the entrance to the Port of Los Angeles, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Collin Croft.

Five hours later, crew trainee Zack Mayberry, 15, spotted Carlock in the open ocean while he stood watch on the stern of the tall ship Argus, which was full of Boy Scouts. The ship had changed course because of heavy fog. A small motorboat was sent to pluck Carlock from the sea and he was brought aboard.

Coast Guard officials Tuesday said they were investigating why Carlock was left behind, then not reported missing until his group reached the second dive location at 12:03 p.m.

Ocean Adventures Dive Co. owner Steve Ladd said he was trying to figure out what happened.

Figure out what happened? I think that part is pretty clear.

I'm sure that after the lawsuit Mr. Carlock will be collecting 4, not 3, million dollars or so from the dive company's bank account.

:: posted by Al on 4/29/2004 11:50:00 AM ::

:: Wednesday, April 28, 2004 ::

...and don't even get me started on that stupid Still, We Believe: The Boston Red Sox Movie opening to the public in Boston theaters on May 7.

Unless they got Steven Spielberg to change the events of Game 7, why would I want to PAY to relive this nightmare?????

No wait, I forgot. In the previews they show Pedro in the locker room answering his cell phone "Thanks for calling KFC, can I take your order?".

Those kind of wacky behind-the-scene antics are definitely worth the $10.50 ticket price.

Get bent.

:: posted by Al on 4/28/2004 09:46:00 AM ::

I don’t watch ‘American Idol’.

I think this show and the others like it are incredibly stupid, but since I live in the US I nonetheless have been subject to its media frenzy.

I have learned enough about the concept of the show to be able to ask one question:

Does anyone else out there think Elton John is as big an idiot as I do?

NEW YORK (Reuters)-- British rock star Elton John, a guest judge this month on the U.S. talent hunt TV series "American Idol," said on Tuesday that he found the voting by the national viewing audience "incredibly racist."

John, who heard the wannabe pop stars perform his songs during an appearance on the Fox TV show, added his voice to a chorus of dissent that followed last week's shock exit of black vocalist Jennifer Hudson, considered one of the top talents among those vying for a recording contract.

Hudson, Fantasia Barrino and La Toya London -- "The Three Divas," as they've become known -- seemed to have the best shot at taking the Fox TV contest. But they were less popular than their competition, including redheaded crooner John Stevens, a 16-year-old whose highest compliment from the judges was that he was a nice guy.

"The three people I was really impressed with, and they just happened to be black, young female singers, and they all seem to be landing in the bottom three," said John, commenting on the tally in which the lowest vote-getter is eliminated.

"They have great voices. The fact that they're constantly in the bottom three -- and I don't want to set myself up here -- but I find it incredibly racist.”

Ruben Studdard, a black crooner, won the top prize last year.

The show often gets more than 20 million people voting. What are the demographics behind the vote?

I bet 90% of the voters are 14-year old girls. Who do you think they are going to vote for?

The 16-year old boy, stupid!

:: posted by Al on 4/28/2004 09:35:00 AM ::

:: Monday, April 26, 2004 ::

The Red Sox swept the weekend series from the Yankees. And the fans are loudly booing Derek Jeter (0 for last 25 at the plate) at Yankee Stadium.

Even Jeter's mother and father aren't waiting for him after games.

"When my parents walk out on me, you're not doing too well,'' he said. "They're probably getting booed, too.''

Boston (12-6)
Baltimore (10-7)
NY Yankees (8-11)
Tampa Bay (7-10)
Toronto (6-12)

:: posted by Al on 4/26/2004 10:45:00 AM ::

:: Saturday, April 24, 2004 ::

A-Rod got booed last night at Yankee Stadium. (heh heh heh)

The $183 million Stankees are 8-9 so far this season.

:: posted by Al on 4/24/2004 11:50:00 AM ::

:: Friday, April 23, 2004 ::

Charlie, you can feel free to go back being that tall, silent thing in the corner anytime now....

:: posted by Al on 4/23/2004 01:17:00 PM ::

Are you gonna cry after every Red Sox loss this year?

You don't see me boo-hooing every time the sun sets, do ya?

:: posted by Charlie the Plant on 4/23/2004 01:11:00 PM ::


There's some "Grady" Franconia talk in the air around here after last night's terrible Red Sox loss.

Curt Schilling had a 3-1 lead with two outs in the seventh inning before the wheels fell off. From that point on he allowed seven hits, a walk and six runs to the final 11 batters he faced. He made it out of the seventh having given up 2 runs to tie the game at 3-3. Then Red Sox Manager Terry Franconia let him come back out for the eighth inning.

Schilling's 123rd (and final) pitch of the game was a hanging split-fingered fastball that resulted in a humiliating grand slam by the Blue Jays No. 9 hitter Chris Gomez.

Mark Malaska comes in to pitch for the Sox in the eighth.

Red Sox lose 7-3.

:: posted by Al on 4/23/2004 11:37:00 AM ::

This morning Lori was sitting next to me on the couch when all of a sudden she practically jumped out of her skin. After a moment or two of quiet contemplation, she proceeded to explain that she had just, for a second, thought she saw a cat out of the corner of her eye (we don't have a cat) scurrying past her on the floor. In fact it was just her own shadow as she raised her arm to turn the page of the newspaper she was reading.

:: posted by Al on 4/23/2004 08:48:00 AM ::

:: Wednesday, April 21, 2004 ::

I apologize for Charlie's un-warranted Backstreet Boys outburst.

There’s just no need to bring them into the fray.

:: posted by Al on 4/21/2004 09:46:00 AM ::

:: Tuesday, April 20, 2004 ::

I think the Backstreet Boys had your Bruins team in mind when they cranked out this little ditty:

Tell me why
Ain't nothin' but a heartache
Tell me why
Ain't nothin' but a mistake
Tell me why
I never wanna hear you say
I want it that way

:: posted by Charlie the Plant on 4/20/2004 03:35:00 PM ::

What a difference a week makes.

Last Tuesday, the Boston Bruins had just beaten Montreal in OT to go up 3 games to 1 in the best of 7 playoff series. The Bruins were making incredible headway back into the Boston sports scene, they were becoming relevant again in a market dominated by the football and baseball. Their Nielsen rating numbers for that Tuesday night OT game had actually beaten the Red Sox in a head to head match up. People in this town were actually talking positively about the Bruins and their chances in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Team management had actually gone out and spent $$ at the trading deadline and picked up some key components like Sergei Gonchar and Michael Nylander. For hockey fans like me it was great to see an Original-6 town like Boston start to give a crap again about the Bruins.

But again, it was not to be.

Last night’s Game 7 loss to the Canadiens flushed all that goodwill, progress, and pride right down the toilet. Boston sports fans have long memories; from now on the only way fans will buy back into the Bruins hype will be with a Stanley Cup.

Losing this playoff series was bad enough, but losing the way they did to a team like the Canadiens, again, makes it especially agonizing and tortuous.

I smell old rivalries, thought dormant over the past decade or so, awakened with a terrible vengeance.

:: posted by Al on 4/20/2004 10:17:00 AM ::

:: Friday, April 16, 2004 ::

What is up with the fervor surrounding the Yankees this year?

They have a new sense of insecurity that I have never seen before. Here are some examples:

-- A plane towing a message that read “NY POST - Empire Strikes Back - Go Yanks" flew over Fenway Park yesterday afternoon.

-- Claiming the "little guy" around New York has been getting squeezed for years because groups from all over the East Coast snatched up the valuable Red Sox-Yankees tickets as soon as they went on sale, the Yankees decided to place a limit of four tickets on group ticket sales for the 9 games between the clubs at Yankee Stadium.

-- Last Wednesday in a game at Yankee Stadium fans broke out in spontaneous “Boston Sucks” and “Pedro Sucks” chants at several times during the game against Tampa Bay.

-- Today’s edition of the NY Post had a picture of Darth Vader in a Yankee uniform and “May the Curse Be with You” on the front page, and “Let the War Begin!” in large letters on the back page.

Hey guys, it’s April. RELAX.

What are they all worked up about this year?? I do agree that the Red Sox-Yankees feud is the biggest thing in baseball, but since when do Yankee fans give a crap about this rivalry??

Earlier this week UCONN men’s basketball coach Jim Calhoun was told by the Yankees that he would be given the honor of throwing out the first pitch at an upcoming game at Yankee Stadium. “No chance” was his reply.

On a side note, Calhoun will throw out the first pitch Monday before the Patriots Day game against the Yankees at Fenway Park.

:: posted by Al on 4/16/2004 09:42:00 AM ::

:: Wednesday, April 14, 2004 ::

Somebody please tell Montreal Canadiens right winger Alexei Kovalev that when you embellish an injury in the NHL in order to get a slashing call you are supposed to fall down on the ice and act like you were just shot in the chest with a hunting rifle. To just skate along with your head down on a collision course with your own defenseman while all along leaving the puck on a silver platter in the neutral zone for a guy like Boston Bruins sniper Glen Murray is unforgivable. Especially in the 2nd overtime of a Playoff game that your team desperately needs to win!

"I saw he got slashed," Montreal defenseman Sheldon Souray said. "Maybe it should be a penalty, but do you stop playing? In double overtime? They had already called a penalty against him, they're going to let you play at that point. I was just caught by surprise that he left the puck there and there was nobody behind him."

Canadiens Coach Claude Julien's take wasn't much different. "I think it's important to keep playing," Julien said. "If it's not called a penalty then you can't stop playing."

I can't wait for Game 5 back in Boston.

:: posted by Al on 4/14/2004 10:08:00 AM ::

:: Tuesday, April 13, 2004 ::

Here are some facts:

-Coffee is the world's second most valuable traded commodity, second only to oil.
-At over two and a half billion pounds per year, the U.S. consumes one fifth of the world's coffee supply.
-In Boston there are 94 Dunkin' Donuts -- that's one shop for every 6,267 people and 1.9 Dunkin' Donuts per square mile.
-In Massachusetts there are 875+ Dunkin' Donuts -- one shop for every 7,389 residents.

I swear, in Boston every 2 blocks there's a Dunkin' Donuts. It's a beautiful thing.

Dunkin' Donuts coffee is widely known in these parts as "an elixir for what ails ya"; it's a New England tradition. I don't know how I would be able to leave the house every morning without it.

And come on, their latest TV commercials have Red Sox ace Curt Schilling listening to Bostonian language tapes in the locker room so he can properly say "I play wicked haaad when I go to the paaak". Curt's no dummy, he knows how to get the fans to instantly worship him.

Starbucks and their fancy-shmancy $72 cups of Joe can kiss my grits.

After decade in N.E., Starbucks is distant 2d to Dunkin' Donuts
By Naomi Aoki, Boston Globe Staff, 4/13/2004

Starbucks isn't used to being number two.

But it is in New England, one of only two places nationwide where the Seattle coffee giant queues up behind another player. After a decade in this market, Starbucks's 203 stores remain a distant second to Dunkin' Donuts's 1,644 locations and just a drop ahead of Honey Dew Donuts's 151 shops.

Starbucks certainly doesn't seem to be taking its time anywhere else. In the 10 years since the chain arrived in New England, it has built thousands of stores in the United States, with about 5,600 locations today compared to Dunkin' Donuts's 4,200. Starbucks so dominates America's coffee-drinking landscape that the chain accounts for nearly one-third of all of the country's coffeehouses and nearly half of all sales in the rapidly growing $7 billion industry, according to Chicago research firm Mintel.

But in New England, the tables are turned. For every 1 Starbucks here, there are 8 Dunkin' Donuts stores.

But at heart, the companies take vastly different approaches to serving up a steaming cup of java. Dunkin' is fresh-baked doughnuts, drip coffee, and no-frills speedy service. Starbucks is baristas, Frappuccinos, and a home away from home. The average check at Dunkin' is about $2.50 to $3.50. At Starbucks, it's $4.

"We own speed," said Jon L. Luther, chief executive of Dunkin's parent company, Allied Domecq Quick Service Restaurants. "That's a real competitive advantage for us. Fireplaces, baristas -- that's someone else's game."

"Dunkin' Donuts is respected inside the halls of Starbucks," said Howard Schultz, Starbucks chairman and founder. "But they are in the transaction business. We're in the people business serving coffee. Therein lies what I think is a very big difference."

Starbucks arrived in Boston a decade ago when it acquired the Coffee Connection, a local chain of about 20 stores. Since then, Starbucks has grown to 30 stores in Boston, 111 stores in Massachusetts, and 203 in New England. Those numbers are small beans in comparison to Dunkin' Donuts. Founded in Quincy in 1950, Dunkin' has 94 stores in Boston, 876 in Massachusetts, and 1,644 in New England.

Even Honey Dew Donuts, a smaller regional player founded in Mansfield more than 30 years ago, gives Starbucks a run for its money in New England. Though it only has four stores in Boston, Honey Dew has 106 locations in Massachusetts and 151 in New England. And it aims to add 1,000 stores to the region in coming years.

Given the competition, will Starbucks ever catch Dunkin' in New England?

:: posted by Al on 4/13/2004 11:00:00 AM ::

:: Tuesday, April 06, 2004 ::

Damn! $2,000,000,000!!! Does ABBA mean "I smoke crack" in Swedish??
LONDON (Reuters) - Nothing -- not even two billion dollars -- could tempt ABBA back together again. After 30 years, the Swedish supergroup might even have trouble remembering the words of their pop classics.

And the sight of their outrageous stage outfits is enough to make 58-year-old Bjorn Ulvaeus cringe nowadays.

Thirty years to the day after ABBA won the Eurovision song contest with the instantly catchy "Waterloo," the bearded songwriter was fiercely proud of their music -- but they will never strut their stuff again.

Four years ago, ABBA were offered one billion dollars to re-form. The answer was 'No.' But what if that figure doubled?

"No, not even if you did that," Ulvaeus told Reuters.

"It is never going to happen again. I think it is a bit too long now. We split up in 1981. People haven't seen us as a group since then and it would come as such a disappointment to them."

As for the spangly jumpsuits, Ulvaeus said: "I haven't squeezed into them for years. I still had a couple of them in the wardrobe and would get into them on a Saturday evening -- but not any more. They are in a museum now."

The two couples who made up pop's most famous acronym -- Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny and Anni-Frid -- have long since divorced but all is sweetness and light between them now.

"We do indeed stay in touch," he said. "I met Agnetha last week. We have a grandchild who is three. We meet much more often these days than we did perhaps 10 years ago."

:: posted by Al on 4/06/2004 12:15:00 PM ::

:: Sunday, April 04, 2004 ::

In the race for U.S. cities with the worst overall traffic nightmares, Boston City officials are doing their part to give us a shot at the championship title.

When it comes to news on pending traffic headaches, it was a rare week not seen in these parts since the initial work on the Big Dig began 10 short years ago.

Not only did we learn that the I-93 central traffic artery/tunnels that run north-south through the city will at times be entirely shut down in both directions during the Democratic National Convention in July, we also learned that beginning this weekend, a section of the southbound I-93 tunnel will be constricted to only two lanes for the next 10 months. Oh, that's gonna be fun for the whole family.

To round-out the commuter nightmare trifecta, people like me that avoid a big chunk of I-93 by using Route 1 South and the Tobin Bridge to get to the I-93 southbound tunnel entrance will have to cough up an extra $1 and now pay a $3 toll to use that bridge starting today. 3 bucks is a hefty toll in my opinion for a 1/2 mile long bridge. They say the increase will help pay for Big Dig "cost overruns". More like Big Dig "kickbacks".

If I used the Tobin Bridge every day that I worked, approximately 260 days a year, I would end up paying $780 a year to drive over the Mystic River. For $780 a year you would think I'd get my own lane or something.

I'm facing big-time traffic problems from now on, no matter what I do.

:: posted by Al on 4/04/2004 01:41:00 PM ::

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