Archive for April, 2005

Hot Flashes

I’m sitting in a long line of cars, waiting for the light to change so that I can continue straight onto Route 2. The lane to my right allows only right-hand turns. Every day, at least one car motors up the right lane and attempts to merge into my lane to go straight.

The driver of the other car tries to make eye contact with me so that I will let him cut the line. Sorry, pal. I NEVER allow these “I’m too important to wait in traffic” people to merge, even if it means a dent in the old Mazda quarter panel. I realize that I whine about this pretty regularly, but the coming of spring seems to have sprung these people from the soil like so many tulips. If was up to me they would rot in that lane until they give up, take the required right turn and start over, but some softie always lets them into the line.

Here are some other things I’ve been thinking about while shaking my tiny fists of rage at inconsiderate drivers:

…My friend Scott was a contestant on an ESPN sports trivia show called “Stump the Schwab” this past week. He told me that the show would air on Tuesday at 7:30pm, and I promised to record the show on my DVR. I mean, how often are your friends featured on television programs? Of course, I totally forgot about the whole thing until 7:45pm on Tuesday, when I had already gone out for the night. Whoops…

…”Stump the Schwab” is not the only show I’ve missed lately. I keep hearing great things about shows like “The Shield”, “House, MD”, “Lost”, “Deadwood”, “Carnivale”, “CSI”, and “24”, but I haven’t managed to see or even record any of them. I can’t figure out if it’s because I have a full and rich life beyond the world of television, or because I’m just so incredibly lazy that I can’t be bothered to program my DVR…

…As part of my full and rich life beyond television, I recently went to see the movie “The Upside of Anger” with my wife. It was a pretty decent movie, but to call it a “chick flick” would be putting things mildly. There was only one other man in the theater and the air in there was thick with estrogen.

There is one scene in the movie in which all of the women on screen start laughing for no reason whatsoever, and Kevin Costner’s character is baffled. During that scene, all of the women in the theater laughed right along with the women on screen. To be honest, it was a little frightening…

…After my experience in the movie theater, it felt good to sit down with a beer and watch both the Red Sox game and the Celtics playoff game on Monday night. I was switching back and forth between the games when I noticed a key difference in the telecasts. While the Red Sox game on NESN was displayed in crystal clarity on my television screen (with no HD-type technology), the Celtics broadcast on FSN looked as if it was being shot through a sheet of wax paper.

The entire screen was fuzzy and looked out of focus, and I could barely tell which players were which. I might not have noticed it so much if the pictures of the Red Sox game weren’t so sharp.

I’m not sure what’s going on with the broadcast. Maybe the Celtics hired Cybill Shepherd’s agent and demanded that the games be broadcast in with the same fuzzy lens they used for her close up shots on “Moonlighting”.

I was so fired up about the whole situation that I left a message about it on the WEEI Whiner Line (where people leave recorded message that are sometimes played back during the Big Show radio program), but they didn’t play my message. So much for my rich and full life away from television.

Sports &The Day to Day Grind Tim 22 Apr 2005 No Comments

The Pfizer Monument

There is a little donut shop that used to be a bank, and before that a different bank, and before that yet another bank. I was in that little shop, enjoying a cup of coffee, when Rick O’Shea pushed his way through the door. His eyes scanned the shop until he found me in the corner. He ran up to me and gushed, “I just scored us some tickets to see U2 at the Boston Garden in October.”

Rick, by then I’m pretty sure that the building is called the FleetCenter and by October it will be called the TD Banknorth Garden.

“Oh, there is another one of those organizations renaming everything? This is totally ridiculous. Why couldn’t they have just left the name as the Boston Garden? Nobody knows what the heck anything is called any more.”

Well, I think that they paid quite a bit of money for the naming rights for that building and Fleet Bank is now Bank of America. Plus, the new building was never called the Boston Garden.

“It doesn’t make it any less ridiculous. Look at the stadium in Miami: First it was supposed to be called Dolphin Stadium. Then, before it opened, they decided to honor the owner of the Dolphins and name it Joe Robbie Stadium. Then Joe Robbie sold the stadium and the Dolphins to the Blockbuster guy.

“The Blockbuster guy decided that Joe Robbie has been honored enough and named the place Pro Player Stadium because the Pro Player people threw some cash at him. Then the Pro Player cash went dry and now the place is called Dolphins Stadium.”

It does get pretty confusing when I try to figure out where a game is being played. If a game is in San Diego, are they playing in San Diego Stadium, Jack Murphy Stadium, Qualcomm Stadium, or Petco Park?

“It happens around here, too. Schaeffer Stadium was Sullivan Stadium until they were tired of honoring Billy Sullivan and named it Foxboro Stadium. Then they built a new stadium and were going to call it CGMi Field until CGMi ran into troubles, so they named it Gillette Stadium. Now Proctor and Gamble owns Gillette, so they’ll probably call it something like Pert Plus Shampoo plus Conditioner Stadium soon.”

I doubt that. They’ll probably keep the Gillette name. After all, people call it “The Razor”, which is pretty cool.

“As soon as there is money in it, that name will change. Even the government is getting involved. The military has been trying to buy the naming rights to RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. The rumors are that the deal is for something like $6 million and the place is to be called ‘Armed Forces Field at RFK Stadium’. What about RFK? Why would they change something that was originally dedicated to honor him?

“When they originally dedicated the stadium, do you think they intended for the stadium to be called RFK just until something better came along?”

Ted Kennedy said that it would be okay.

“Why is it up to Ted Kennedy? The field was named to honor his brother and now, in the name of a buck, they are going to change it. What if Chucky Cheese was to outbid the Armed Forces? Would they call it Chucky Cheese Field at RFK Stadium?”

I would hope that they would try to keep the name as something respectful.

“Wait until some Senator has a pet project and not have enough tax dollars to fund it. That’s when the Washington Monument will become the Pfizer Monument and Bob Dole will cut the ribbon. After all, who cares who the monument was dedicated to originally? George Washington is so 18th century.”

Can we bring this discussion back down to earth?

“I might be exaggerating to make my point, but you see it all the time. Everything has to be new because no one remembers the past. A street will get renamed because no one remembers the old guy it was named for originally.”

I had no idea that you would get so fired up about the TD Banknorth Garden.

“To me it will always be the Boston Garden. Do you want to see U2 there or not?”

The Day to Day Grind Tim 15 Apr 2005 No Comments

The Pope, Part II

David Shnaider wrote a letter to the editor, published in The Item on April 12th, 2005 in response to my column of April 8th regarding the legacy of Pope John Paul II. In the letter, Mr. Shnaider chastises me for “several factual errors”, questions my life accomplishments and future as a journalist, and puzzles about where I might get the “chutzpah” to comment upon the pope’s legacy.

To begin, I would like to thank Mr. Shnaider for reading my column. It is always encouraging to discover that people take time out of their busy lives to read what I have written.

Next, please allow me to apologize for my mistake regarding the pope’s travel schedule. Boston was not the first city outside of Rome visited by Pope John Paul II after he became pope. It was, in fact, the first American city he visited.

Also, I wrote that Cardinal Law was transferred to the Vatican, when he was in fact transferred to Rome as arch-priest at St. Mary Major Basilica.

I never did say that Cardinal Law had been charged with a crime, but documents do reveal (according to the Washington Post) that Cardinal Law knowingly transferred priests who had sexually abused children from parish to parish, allowing those priests to abuse more and more innocent children.

The result of this scandal was a reported $85 million settlement agreement between the Boston archdiocese and more than 500 abuse victims.

It is fairly curious that someone with the track record of Cardinal Law would not be punished by the Pope, but instead find himself transferred to one of the most prominent churches in Rome and be allowed to continue his career as a cardinal.

Mr. Shnaider’s letter also states that Pope John Paul II “made an explicit public statement” about the sex abuse scandal. In fact, the pontiff made a couple of statements about the scandal, but neither was directed to the public.

The first, according to CNN, was in a letter to priests, in March 2002. In the letter, he wrote about being troubled by the sins of the priests who had betrayed the grace of ordination and succumbed to the evil of the world. The second, also according to CNN, was in April of 2002 when he summoned the American cardinals to the Vatican and told them that there was no place in the priesthood for clerics who abuse children.

Neither of the above was a public statement to his flock about the children whose lives had been ruined and the policies that allowed the practice to continue. He never did apologize for that.

In fact, what troubles me is that this pope was not afraid to apologize. According to http://www.beliefnet.com, on March 12, 2000 Pope John Paul II publicly read a document called, “Memory and Reconciliation: The Church and Mistakes of the Past” in which he asked for forgiveness for, among other things: divisions within Christianity, forced conversions, ecclesiastical use of violence, and anti-Jewish prejudice.

The bare facts remain that Pope John Paul II was the head of the Catholic Church while children were being systematically victimized by representatives of the Catholic Church. His failure to properly address, apologize for, or correct the problem is a stain on his otherwise glittering list of accomplishments. What was an opportunity for the Catholic Church to rise above the scandal and shine as a moral compass for the world became, for many people, yet another corporation covering up for past crimes.

It would have been irresponsible for me to mention the pontiff’s successes and ignore his failures.

Mr. Shnaider mentioned in his letter that I am unlikely to accomplish even a fraction of what Pope John Paul II accomplished. I think that statement is true not only of myself but of most people. Pope John Paul II was an inspiration to me and to millions of others around the world and I share in the grief at his passing. That grief does not erase the poor leadership that was shown during the sex abuse scandal. It also does not mean, as Mr. Shnaider’s letter implies, that my opinion is any less valid because I am not as accomplished as Pope John Paul II.

Rants Tim 15 Apr 2005 No Comments

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