Saturday, January 31, 2004

Superbowl Hype

The game is tomorrow. So much talk and so much hype. Living in the heart of Patriots Nation, every media outlet seems to be talking Superbowl. It's incessant.

Celtics almost pulled out a win against Indiana tonight. Bruins won a shutout at Montreal this afternoon, and the two teams will play in Boston tomorrow afternoon. The men's final is underway at the Australian Open as I write this. But this is all just background noise.

Kick-off is at 6:25PM EDT tomorrow night.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

All Things Belichick

Just last year, around this time, a football coach wrote a compelling op-ed piece about winning. From the point of view of a previous champion, he wrote movingly about how you get to the winner's circle. He opined about the frivolous and the serious. He noted the many details that separate champions from runners up (and from the rest of the pack). He wrote of joy and sorrow.

That writer was Bill Belichick and that article appeared in the Sunday NY Times (January 26, 2003). He is the coach of the New England Patriots and his team will be facing the Carolina Panthers in this weekend's Superbowl.

(You can read his article at All Things Belichick.)

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Audi Woes

For the second time in a week my car has been towed. Persistent rough idle and starting problems. I've been in a rental since the first time I wrote about this, and it's starting to really dent my wallet (almost $300 per week). I hate having car problems over my head.

The first time I towed it, I sent it to a local place, hoping that it was something easy (the only change was the sudden cold weather). $150 later, the mechanic at the local garage said "I think the dealer needs to look at this. They have better computers there." So this morning, the car went to the dealer. I'm going to hate tallying all this up.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Wife's Birthday

My wife's birthday just happens to be February 1, Superbowl Sunday. She said the perfect thing tonight: "Whether the Pats win or lose, we'll at least have cake!"

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Rise of Patriots Nation

When the Red Sox lost Game 7 way back on October 16, 2003, I was put into a sports depression. The following Sunday, the New England Patriots were at the Miami Dolphins. The hype: New England hadn't won at Miami in any of their previous September/October match-ups. In the mood I was in, I was prepared for yet another New England sports loss.

Instead, the Patriots won the game in overtime, on a thrilling 82-yard pass from Tom Brady to Troy Brown. They became 5-2 that Sunday. And from that point on they have not lost. (They had already won two-straight before that Miami game.) I have watched the Patriots win with all kinds of styles: defensive stops (Colts), dramatic touch-down passing (Denver), squeakers (Jets) and even a plain old ass-whipping (Buffalo). The Patriots have done more than get me out of my sports depression; they have lifted me back into the winners' section, feeling that winning feeling.

Tomorrow, the Patriots are playing the Indianapolis Colts for the right to play in the Superbowl. Listening to the local sports media analyze and dissect this game, you'd think that New England has already won the thing. But the Colts have a hot quarterback in Peyton Manning. And the Colts have lost twice to New England this season. I.M. Bettor of the Boston Herald opined on the radio that "lessons may have been learned."

As a Red Sox fan whose neck still tightens thinking about that roller-coaster week in October, it's hard to really let my guard down. I'm nervous for tomorrow. But I'll be there, to see if I can get that winning feeling again.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Minus Zero

Minus-eight Farenheit outside when I woke up. As I write this, it's warming up. The temperature is now minus-three.

I think nearly every school in Arlington is closed. My car hasn't started for the past two days. Even after a jump start, it remains inert (it can idle, provided I keep my foot on the gas to give it RPMs). It's betrayed me like this before. I'm now driving a rental. Thankfully, that started up this morning.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Minus Zero

-5.4. That's right. Minus-five-point-four Farenheit. Right after I took this snapshot, I stepped outside, and closed the door. For the first few seconds, I thought: It's not so bad. But after ten seconds (I was counting) the bitter brittle air started to tighten its cold group around my exposed hands and face. I stepped back inside.

As I write this, nearly thirty minutes later, the temperature on my outdoor thermometer is reading -6.3. Minus six-point-three. My hands are only now beginning to feel warm.

New England is in the midst of its coldest weather in years. It's the lead story in every media outlet. The weekend's forecast is going to be in the mid-thirties, and we're looking forward to it! Our only consolation: No snow. But the blustery wind is making up for that deficit.

Best Movies Watched in 2003

I watched 56 movies in 2003, twelve of which I watched in the theater. The rest I watched on DVD or on cable television. Here were some highlights:

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Best Books Read in 2003

My Previous Best Books: 2001, 2002.

I read seventeen books last year. Three of them were "graphic novels" (comics), which I read during the buzz of American Splendor. Two of the books, Mystic River and Matchstick Men, I read strictly because I knew I was going to watch their movies. These turned out to be terrific books.

My favorite book from 2003 was Empire Falls. This book is by Richard Russo, and it won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. This is such a beautiful book, it's almost indescribable. Many times as I was reading it, I openly marveled at how lovingly the sentences were put together. They were rich with imagery.

One sample: "She gave him a smile in which hope and knowledge were going at it, bare-knuckled, equally and eternally matched."

Now how good is that? You don't even have to know the plot or the characters to see what her face must look like.

As a whole, the bookie story is about a man coming to terms with his own self, with his own dreams, with his own struggles. We spend a lot of time inside the main character's head, and I found myself pulling for him as I turned every page. This is a book I deliciously savored over the summer. I hope to devour this again!

Friday, January 9, 2004


It's so cold that I can feel my nose hairs freeze when I breathe through my nose. They feel like tiny icicles.

The weather reports said that the sun would be ineffective today. Indeed.

Thursday, January 8, 2004

Fifty Letters

My resolution this year is to write fifty letters to people.

That's right: fifty actual letters that I will send by postal mail. I was buying stamps at the post office last month, and they were selling a sheet of fifty stamps, each stamp bearing one of the fifty states. In an impulse, I bought the sheet ($18.50), and declared to myself that I'll use this sheet to return to letter writing.

Of course, since that time, I haven't written a single letter. But fifty letters over the course of a year should be doable. My wife actually suggested I write a hundred. But let me settle for fifty. First letter will bear Alabama.

Sunday, January 4, 2004

Cut Time

I posted the list of books that I read and the list of movies that I watched in 2003. I'll be picking out my favorites from these two lists over the next few days.

A few days ago, I finished reading my first book in 2004, a splendid book about boxing called Cut Time by Carlo Rotella. I'm a moderate fan of boxing. The few times that I've admitted this in public, I was met with ridicule. "Boxing is so barbaric!" some would say. Now I can urge these folks to read this book. It's a surprisingly moving account of boxing and the relationship of boxing to life. Carlo's writing reaches such tender notes that you'll have to remind yourself that the book is about the kind of people that purposely seek to hurt and be hurt.

Thursday, January 1, 2004

New Year's Reminisce

For nearly all my time growing up, until the years after I got married, I spent New Year's at my cousin's house, in a suburb near Washington, D.C. The four of us would meander through the long New Year's eve day, eating plenty of food (my aunt hosted a hearty party every New Year's eve), playing with new toys, and watching plenty of television. When the New Year rang in, cheers of "Happy New Year" were shouted and choruses of Auld Lang Syne were sung. More eating. More TV.

Jenn, my wife, attended the festivities a few times, and knows what we're missing.

I miss the party every year I don't go. As I get older, all I really want to do is be a kid again, scampering among the toys, eating too much food, and yelling Happy New Year into the quiet midnight evening.

Hello 2004. Happy New Year!