Now just about every Sunday I wake up to find neighbors Tom & Aida out front picking up toilet paper.
It's usually an all-day project because it's on the roof, in the trees, and since the sprinklers have gone off during the night, there's mush everywhere.
For a while I thought maybe an angry reader had the wrong address and was TP-ing their house by mistake, but then I got to know Tom & Aida.
Now, we live in a good neighborhood, so it's the two-ply stuff, and I know Tom & Aida aren't that upset because some weeks they leave the stuff hanging here and there for decoration. It goes well with the Christmas stuff they've never taken down.
I know all this because I've made the mistake of coming out of my house on Sundays, which makes it unavoidable to talk with them. I swear they camp outside waiting for someone to come out.
Did you know they have five rolls they retrieved off the top of the house--"still good for the using," as Aida noted? I do, because she tried showing them to me.
I mention all this because I had an excuse for watching "A Season on the Brink" Sunday. I couldn't leave my home and risk running into Tom & Aida.
That also meant staying inside all day with the wife ... and finding something on TV she'd have no interest in watching.
TO KEEP her upstairs, of course, I had to watch every minute of the horrible, depressing movie, and the additional horrible and depressing Bob Knight coverage that followed, including a horrible and depressing interview with Digger Phelps. I'll tell you how awful this night of ESPN broadcasting was--when my wife asked if I wanted to go out for a walk, I almost agreed.
THERE WAS nothing new in the movie, but there was one telling comment, later reinforced by Phelps' ridiculous support, that bothered me.
Knight, portrayed by Brian Dennehy, explained that his job as a basketball coach was to make "men out of boys." Phelps later supported Knight's approach and told ESPN's Bob Ley: "People have to understand a coach has just four years to make men out of boys."
This got me to thinking: How did millions of boys who never had the good fortune of being abused, humiliated and crushed by a basketball coach with a Godlike complex go on to become men?
Speaking from experience, I don't know how I would have done it, had I not worked for some of the editors I know.
A FEW years ago HBO followed the University of Tennessee women's basketball team for an entire season. We got to see the great Pat Summitt at work, her players spending much of the season in tears, berated by Summitt and feeling as if they could please no one, before being driven to winning an NCAA championship.
It's nice to see some people also are dedicated to making women out of girls.
I'D LIKE to go into Blockbuster and see "A Season on the Brink" filed under horror films, on the other side of the room from sports classics.
I don't know anything more scary than the inspiring message for high school and youth coaches everywhere at the end of the ESPN bomb: Knight's team went on to win the Big Ten title and the national championship a year later ... the ends justifying the means ... Summitt climbing the ladder to cut down the championship net to finish off the HBO show.
I swear, these sports productions get any more depressing and I'm going to have to stop watching TV and take a walk with the wife--with the understanding we'll need a running start to get past Tom & Aida.
BLOOMBERG NEWS service reported Monday that "an interactive service will allow some viewers of ESPN's NHL telecasts to check scores, answer trivia questions and shop on the same screen while watching the game." I know I do everything I possibly can to avoid actually watching a hockey game.
OK, I lie. I went to the King game Monday night because I wanted to see how Coach Andy Murray was doing after experiencing a life-threatening auto accident three weeks ago.
"I'm still not completely right," said Murray, who suffered a severe concussion as well as numerous other injuries. "I've told the players if I say something screwball on the bench to ignore it."
I ALMOST hesitate to mention Murray's name in the same story as Knight and Summitt. The King coach, like former San Diego Charger coach Mike Riley, is one of the nicest people in professional sports, a consistent gentleman who also has the ability to command attention and a top effort from his players.
Take away October and November, and Murray is NHL coach of the year for bringing the Kings back from oblivion. He has the team in playoff position now, beginning a testy stretch against playoff-caliber teams, with 10 of 17 games, including Monday's, at home.
That's not such a good thing, though, with the Kings standing only 14-12-5 at home after Monday's 2-1 win over Chicago.
"We've done well on the road [17-10-4] because it's been a matter of survival," Murray said. "If you don't come out hard on the road, you get buried. That's the attitude we have to have now playing at home, or we're going to get buried."
Sounds like some kind of screwball talking to me.
DON'T WORRY--I left before the end of the game. I wanted to see how Murray was doing; I didn't say anything about wanting to see how the Kings are doing.
TODAY'S LAST word comes in an e-mail from Ken:
"I liked the story about you and your dad, but I'm pretty sure the rule on too many clubs is a two-stroke penalty but with a limit of two holes--or a total of four strokes ... so you actually beat your dad."
Just wait until I get the chance to tell him.
T.J. Simers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.