The Big Digs 2005

He's probably more of a Green Line guy: After the terrorist attacks in London, Governor Mitt Romney rides the T to demonstrate the safety of our mass transit system. Our intrepid governor–who starts his ill-fated trip by trying to pay $1 for his token instead of the required $1.25–takes the Red Line from Park to Downtown Crossing, one whole stop away. The short journey leaves him feeling a bit lost. “We were at a station, what was it . . . Ashmont Station? Ashmont Station, it was Ashmont Station . . . it's not my regular commute.”

Your tax dollars, well spent

Romney's T debacle comes shortly after it's revealed that he employs an advance team of unprecedented size–13 staffers, with a payroll of $350,000–to stage-manage his public appearances.

How long until Dan Shaughnessy tries to coin “The Hex of the Epstein”?

Theo Epstein stuns everyone–especially the Globe, which reported that the GM had signed a new contract with the Red Sox–by walking away from the team in a huff.

Our legislators went to Europe, and all we got was this lousy law

During a busy stretch of the legislative calendar in late October, a group of state representatives and aides and their relatives (and a Republican lobbyist) jet off on a 10-day junket to Portugal and Spain. The lawmakers depart for the airport while their colleagues are in the midst of a floor debate on a controversial measure that would water down a drunken-driving bill.

I'll take a Freedom Cruller and a medium Freedom Vanilla, light with extra sugar

Dunkin' Donuts is bought by French company Pernod Ricard.

After laboring feverishly for so long to finish the project under budget and ahead of deadline, the workers figured they deserved a little rest and relaxation

Big Dig contractors making $49 an hour are caught by the Herald napping and reading newspapers on the job.

That's nothing. You should've seen the mess left by those crazy socialites after the Storybook Ball.

The Rolling Stones' gargantuan 170,000-ton stage leaves its mark–and not in a good way–on the Fenway Park outfield after the band's two concerts at the stadium. The grounds crew has to work around the clock to replace the torn-up turf in time for the team's next home game.

It'd probably be a good idea to keep them away from the levees

Inspectors find more than 2,000 leaks in the I-93 tunnels that form part of the $14.6 billion Big Dig project. Bechtel, which comanaged much of the work, is now enjoying lucrative government contracts in, among other places, Mississippi.

Poor kid. He's gonna spend his whole life knowing he got his ass kicked by a woman.

Valerie Yianacopolus, the mother of a Wakefield Little Leaguer, is ordered to watch a sportsmanship video and write an essay about the experience after she's found guilty of assaulting an 11-year-old boy who was cheering the opposing team.

And the Louise Day Hicks Memorial Award goes to . . .

In the battle for Tom Finneran's old State House seat, Dorchester native Eric Donovan loses to Linda Dorcena Forry, the daughter of Haitian immigrants. He has this to say about her victory: “We were inundated with the theme of the 'New Boston,' and the media gave it a racial bias. If the new place is where streets aren't safe, then I kind of like the old Boston.”

Good thing he'd already solved all the city's problems with infrastructure, crime, and education

Following a heavy snowfall, Mayor Tom Menino declares a crackdown on parking-space squatters. In theory, this is meant to end the cherished Boston custom of reserving shoveled-out parking spaces with household ephemera. In practice, nothing changes.

Instead of salsa, they dipped their nachos in molten platinum

After selling Boston-based Gillette to Procter & Gamble for $57 billion, Gillette CEO James Kilts walks away with a potential windfall of $180 million. Not long after announcing the deal, which is expected to cost 6,000 employees their jobs, he attends a $300,000 Super Bowl party.

Thieving jerks with the morals of a weasel on crank, maybe. But definitely not crooks.

Kilts later writes in a Globe op-ed column: “Disappointments and misdeeds have caused a steep devaluation in CEO credibility. CEOs have gone from being treated like celebrities to being presumed as crooks. Both perceptions are ridiculous.”

It does have a nice ring to it. Sort of like “No Child Left Behind” and “Healthy Forests Initiative.”

The Globe's corporate parent, the New York Times Company, names Kilts to its board of directors. The appointment comes as the Times Company pursues a “Streamline to Grow” initiative under which it cuts 160 jobs in New England, including 35 in the Globe newsroom.

Summers later added that they do make excellent secretaries and homemakers

Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences passes a no-confidence vote in President Larry Summers, partly in response to remarks he made at a luncheon for the National Bureau of Economic Research, where he suggested that innate differences might prevent women from excelling at science.

A shot of Henry Louis Gates Jr. in a Speedo was also left out of the final version

Harvard sends prospective students a brochure that includes a photo of the front page of the Harvard Crimson in which the title of one of the stories has been blurred out. The obscured headline: “Summers to Face No-Confidence Vote.”

The tourism board is courting that lucrative pagan/ TV Land crossover market

The town of Salem unveils a statue honoring Samantha the housewife sorceress, from the campy 1960s TV series Bewitched.

From Russia: Wear gloves

Halliburton Energy Services loses track of a container of radioactive materials, en route from Russia to Houston, for more than a month before it turns up in a Chelsea warehouse.

So what? That's not even enough to throw a decent Super Bowl party

Cambridge biotech firm Biogen suspends sales of its new multiple sclerosis drug, Tysabri, when it's suspected of being a factor in the contraction of a brain disease by three users. The company also announces it will lay off 650 employees. It then awards 200 of its executives average bonuses of $241,000.

If it weren't for that appearance on the Today show, they might have slipped away undetected

Three workers fixing the roof of a Newbury barn stumble upon a cache of old currency valued at as much as $700,000. They take the money, claiming they'd found it buried in a friend's backyard, but are eventually arrested after going on a media blitz in which they grant interviews to any and all journalism outfits that inquire about their remarkably lucky find.

There's one writer they didn't have to offer a buyout

A Globe freelancer is found to have fabricated several passages in a story about seal hunting off the coast of Canada.

He plans to use the extra time to get a portrait of Kevin McHale tattooed onto his left butt cheek

Sentenced to 30 years in an Oklahoma prison for robbery and shooting with intent to kill, Eric James Torpy asks the judge to make his sentence 33 years: A huge Larry Bird fan, he wants his prison term to match his hero's Celtics number. “He said if he was going to go down, he was going to go down in Larry Bird's jersey,” Judge Ray Elliott says. “We accommodated his request and he was just as happy as he could be.”

The meeting of the Henhouse Safety Committee will open with remarks from Mr. Fox

The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute appoints Bennett LeBow to its board of trustees. In his day job, LeBow is chairman and CEO of Vector Group of Miami, the nation's fifth-largest cigarette maker. He steps down after a media outcry.

Civil liberties are all well and good. But we're talking grade-A crustacean here.

A bartender at high-end steakhouse Smith & Wollensky claims he was fired after refusing a lie-detector test to find out who'd been stealing lobster meat from a cooler.

Bank of America. Higher Standards.

As B of A converts Fleet's computer records to its own system, a technical glitch renders the ATM cards of 40,000 customers unusable for five weeks.

What's more respectful than an eight-figure salary?

Former Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez, notorious for arriving late to spring training and complaining about the treatment he received from the Sox front office, pointedly arrives on time for training with the New York Mets, because, he says, the Mets “respect” him.

Healey meant to add, “Just not with my kids”

While criticizing a push to offer undocumented immigrants in-state tuition rates at public colleges, Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey makes a counterproposal of sorts: “Let them go to private schools if they want.”

Upon hearing the news, Joey McIntyre renewed his lobbying campaign to have the New Kids on the Block immortalized in bronze statuary at Government Center

The Boston City Council officially declares July 7 “Donna Summer Day.”

How much it'll cost to recover his dignity is unknown

Martin Weitzman, a tenured economics professor at Harvard, is arrested and charged with trespassing, larceny, and malicious destruction of property for allegedly attempting to steal a truckload of manure from a horse farm in Rockport. The charges are later dropped, and Weitzman agrees to pay $600 in restitution to the farmer.

Sun Tzu's First Rule of War: Keep your friends close, and bury your enemies in money

In January, the Globe' s parent company purchases a 49 percent stake in the free Metro.

Better to light a flame- thrower than to curse the darkness

The Herald devotes extensive over-the-top coverage to the Globe-Metro marriage and the alleged racist culture inside the free paper's corporate ranks, some days running as many as three articles on the latest “developments” in the story, while the Herald's publisher files a challenge to the deal on antitrust grounds. Unswayed, the Justice Department blesses the transaction in March.

I lik to reid. It maks my brayn feel gud.

To appeal to readers turned off by all the big words in the Metro, the Globe introduces Sidekick, a supplement offering comics, puzzles, television and events listings, and a first-grade reading level.

Another reason our governor is qualified for the White House

The Romney administration pays Herald op-ed columnist Charles Chieppo $10,000 to promote its environmental policies. The Herald severs ties with Chieppo when it learns he had also accepted a similar contract from the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority.

Did we say “qualified”? The man could start running the country tomorrow.

In a speech before the right-wing Heritage Foundation, Romney suggests it may be necessary for the government to wiretap mosques.

Rolls right off the tongue, doesn't it?

The FleetCenter is rechristened when TD Banknorth buys the naming rights to the home of the Celtics and Bruins. The arena becomes the TD Banknorth Garden–at least until TD Banknorth gets taken over by a bigger bank.

The pay was great, but the hours were killing him

After spending four years heading up a private equity firm in New York, former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld eyes a return to politics, declaring himself a candidate in New York's 2006 gubernatorial race.

Oh, so that's how you do it

City Hall gets tough on miscreant parking valets after a Park Plaza bellhop is allegedly seen vandalizing meters behind the hotel so attendants can stow cars in those spaces. (A review of city records finds that meters near some Back Bay restaurants have had to be repaired as often as 29 times in one month.) Officials suspect offenders disable the meters by jamming paper into the coin slots.

But it's so hard to get fired up to Kelly Clarkson songs

A Pop Warner football league involving teams from Boston and the surrounding area dissolves after several suburban squads withdraw. The six suburban teams, which include Needham-Wellesley, Natick, and Walpole, cite the “intimidating” rap music played by the city teams as one of their reasons for leaving the league.

For $740,000, we'd shoot Old Yeller

The DeVito family, who owned a dog electrocuted by a stray voltage from NStar ground wires, demands $1.4 million in compensation from the company, then lowers the request to $740,000. “We didn't want the DeVito family to appear greedy,” their lawyer says.

We sense a spot in the unemployment line

Ex- Herald sportswriter Michael Gee is fired from his teaching job at Boston University after posting an online message describing one of his female students as “incredibly hot. If you've ever been to Israel, she's got the sloe eyes and bitchin' bod of the true Sabra . . . I sense danger, Will Robinson.”

Processed sugar, gender stereotyping, and preadolescent consumerism, on the other hand, are all perfectly okay

Fearing that young minds would be corrupted, Comcast refuses to run an ad preaching teen abstinence on networks that feature wholesome children's programming, including Nickelodeon, the Cartoon Network, and the Family Channel.

Consider? What's there to consider?

Some 242 years after its founding, the trustees of Governor Dummer Academy in Byfield realize that the “Dummer” bit might be scaring away prospective students, and announce that the prep school is considering changing its name.

In a different competition, the Herald ranked third in a two-newspaper town

In a story about the Pulitzer Prizes, the Herald fastidiously omits the fact that Globe science writer Gareth Cook had won one, making only this short mention in its Inside Track gossip column: “Boring Broadsheet science scribe Gareth Cook's series on stem cells won him a Pulitzer Prize this week [but] placed a mere third in this year's National Headliner Awards health-science-medical category. The honors have been passed out for the past 71 years by the Press Club of Atlantic City.”

He had a busy night planned

A Framingham pharmacist is arrested for stealing $49,000 worth of Viagra, magazines, condoms, and lubricant.

The senator had previously spoken out against puppies and the terminally ill

Pennsylvania Republican Senator Rick Santorum says Boston's “liberalism” and “sexual freedom” helped cause the Roman Catholic Church's pedophilia scandals: “While it is no excuse for this scandal, it is no surprise that Boston–a seat of academic, political, and cultural liberalism in America–lies at the center of the storm. When the culture is sick, every element in it becomes infected.”

That's so wrong. How can they be expected to keep track?

Shrewsbury schools revise a controversial survey that used to ask middle schoolers how many oral sex partners they've had.

It's only dangerous if you breathe

After being informed by state officials of the discovery of a case of Eastern equine encephalitis, Ipswich sprays the entire town with insecticide. The state later says it actually meant Amesbury.

She also handed out adorable double-knit pantsuits and Forever Krystle fragrance

Johnny Damon's on-the-record comments that Curt Schilling wasn't fit to serve as closer are said to have spilled over from a feud that erupted when Damon's wife, Michelle, left, refused to wear one of the scarves Shonda Schilling provided to the Red Sox wives during last year's playoffs.

Sam Adams would be proud

While breaking up a house party in Waltham, police take Eric Laverriere into protective custody and toss him into a jail cell for nine hours to dry out from his night of drinking. Laverriere sues the town's police department, citing his constitutional right to get soused on private property. “One thing people should be able to do is drink in their own house,” he tells the Globe. “That's the beauty of the land of the free.”

The following is a free advertisement for Citizens Bank

In its severance package for fired Fleet workers, Bank of America overpays some former employees by almost $10,000 apiece, then asks for the money back.

All that feigning indignation must be really exhausting

Former House speaker Tom Finneran is indicted for allegedly lying in federal court about his role in redrawing legislative districts to limit minority representation. Declaring his innocence, Finneran insists he's “not going to lose any sleep” over the charges.

There's probably a joke here. But we're not going to touch it with a 10-foot . . . uh, never mind.

Five boys are expelled from Milton Academy after receiving oral sex from a 15-year-old sophomore girl, who is placed on leave and later allowed to return to school.

No, but they did complain about Alan Embree's E.R.A.

Before the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy cast throws out the first pitch at a Sox game, WEEI's Gerry Callahan asks Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino whether anyone complained about the “fruitcakes . . . sashaying” in front of kids at Fenway.

Bummer. Francona could have given him Embree's spot in the bullpen.

In town to pick up an honorary degree from BU, Afghan President Hamid Karzai asks to throw out the first pitch at a Sox game. Officials say no, citing security concerns.

It's so awkward when coworkers ask you to change their diapers

Investigators accuse Boston longshoremen of putting their two-year-olds on the payroll so they'll have seniority by the time they start working on the docks, boosting the kids' eventual starting pay by as much as $25,000 a year.

Beware of marauding ironists

Two people are shot during an antiviolence league basketball game in Roxbury.

Too bad radio and cable TV aren't downsizing

With the Herald trimming a quarter of its news staff, multimedia commentator Mike Barnicle takes one for the team, quitting his snoozer column by saying, “I didn't want to be sitting around collecting a check from the Herald while someone who has been over there for 25 years or 25 minutes was getting laid off.”

Rumor has it he drew the line at plugging Cool Ranch Doritos

Celebrity chef and peerless self-promoter Todd English strikes a deal to endorse Michelob beer.

Think that means he didn't like it?

English's new upscale family-style pasta palace in midtown Manhattan, English Is Italian, receives zero stars from New York Times critic Frank Bruni, who writes that the restaurant “feels as much like a perfunctory bit of brand extension as a genuine labor of love or expression of ethnic pride.”

What he shoulda said was, “Hey, don't go Putin that in your pocket”

During a visit to Russia, Patriots owner Bob Kraft shows President Vladimir Putin his Super Bowl ring, which Putin promptly deposits in his pocket. To stave off an international incident, Kraft later claims he'd given the ring to Putin as a gift.

On a positive note, none of the cancelled acela trains were late

Amtrak is forced to suspend its Acela Express service for three months after an inspector discovers cracks in the trains' brakes, and the vendor that supplies the parts reveals it has only 80 spares in stock. In July the first repaired Acela out of New York experiences electrical problems and arrives in Boston behind schedule.

And make it to somewhere I won't be expected to bust my ass running out grounders

Manny, just being Manny, insists on taking a promised day off while the injury-depleted Red Sox soldier on without him. He also appears in magazine photo spreads with his smiling wife and son–then asks to be traded because there's just no privacy in this town.

In related news, Woody Harrelson is house hunting in the Back Bay

A federal study conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Admin-istration finds that Boston is the capital of marijuana use in America, with 12 percent of residents reporting using the drug.

At least he didn't . . . you know

The Reverend Bernard Kelly admits to stealing thousands of dollars from two Cape Cod parishes, then using the money to invest in a sprawling Barnstable estate and horse farm.

Immediately the kids regretted not going with their alternative plan to keep the magic alive by swapping e-mail addresses

Unwilling to let their summer idyll come to an end, four teenage friends allegedly phone in a bomb threat to the Nantucket ferry, stopping all travel to and from the island for two days and stranding hundreds of travelers. The coconspirators–two of whom attend prestigious private schools–are arrested shortly thereafter.

Though politically problematic, the extra practice did wonders for his short game

During a six-month stretch, House Speaker Sal DiMasi, an avid golfer, spends part of at least 11 workdays hitting the links, lowering his handicap from 8.1 to 5.7.

And then I'll slap you in the face and pull your hair

WEEI morning yakker John Dennis, infuriated that a host on a rival sports-radio station hit on his daughter–dissing Dennis in the process–leaves an angry voice mail for the young man, threatening to kick him in the crotch.

We accept Blue Cross, Harvard Pilgrim, and crisp singles

Louise Wightman, née legendary Combat Zone stripper Princess Cheyenne, is accused of running South Shore Psychology Associates, a counseling service in Hingham, without a license.

Fortunately for the church, it had done nothing what-soever during the past few years to alienate the flock

Fearing angry parents were planning a sit-in to protest its plans to close Our Lady of the Presentation elementary school in Brighton, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston cancels the school's last two days of classes and graduation ceremony and changes the locks on the building. The move draws the ire of prominent lay Catholic leaders and nearly causes the untimely demise of six fish, a frog, and Pokey, the students' pet butterfly.

He'd have been better off fabricating some talent

During an on-air discussion with a caller, WTKK radio loudmouth Jay Severin claims to have won “a Pulitzer Prize for my columns for excellence in online journalism.” (There is no such thing.) He's also caught in a lie about being a graduate of Harvard Law School. Both fibs are exposed in a piece by Globe columnist Scot Lehigh.

It was an untenable position

Upholding the decision of an Essex County judge, the state appeals court rules that a North Shore man injured while making love with his girlfriend cannot sue his partner for “negligent sexual intercourse.” The case, known as “John Doe” v. “Mary Moe,” centered on allegations that Moe, without warning, shifted her weight dramatically during the sex act, causing Doe to suffer what the court delicately described as a “penile fracture.”

Bostonians Who Need a Hug

Maura Hennigan
Bashes mayor.Bets house. Loses big.

Matt Amorello
Drip, drip, drip goes the Pike chair's rep.

Paul Pierce
Costs C's season with freak-out. Then loses babysitter 'Toine.

John Kerry  
Get. Over. It.

Abby Johnson
At Fidelity, the boss's daughter's demotion caps a bum year.

Theo Epstein
Please avoid knife wound in back while embracing.

Keith “I don't care what Johnny from Burger King thinks” Foulke

Johnny from Burger King

The Amazing Affleck-o-meter

Michelin has its stars. Ebert has his thumb. Now Boston magazine presents the Afflecks, a handy method for grading, ranking, and otherwise passing judgment on everything that happened during the past year. One Affleck is equivalent to Bennifer-period dreck ( Gigli, Surviving Christmas ). Five Afflecks equals Good Will Hunting. Thus:

Fever Pitch
2 Afflecks
The Farrellys dropped the ball on this Red Sox movie partly due to a flaccid script, and partly due to Jimmy Fallon's coming across as a twerp. Still, it's nice to remember the 2004 season.

1776, by David McCullough
3 Afflecks
Vivid writing distinguishes this from The American Revolution for Dummies. But that's about it.

Theo Epstein's guitar playing
3 Afflecks
Better not quit the day job. (Whoops!)

Alvin Epstein
5 Afflecks
This octogenarian thespian, director, and ex-principal at the A.R.T. hooked up with the Actors' Shakespeare Project this fall and gave the definitive performance as King Lear.

Red tide outbreak
1 Affleck
Stupid algae. We want our clambakes!

New Dunkin' Donuts coffee flavors
3 Afflecks
French vanilla makes sense. Blueberry is questionable. Marshmallow? Save it for the Boy Scouts.

Dane Cook
4 Afflecks
The Arlington comedian's breakout album, Retaliation, has sold more than 250,00 copies. In October he got to kiss Charlize Theron's ass (literally) on The Tonight Show. Did we mention the guy's had a great year?

Ben Affleck
2 1/2 Afflecks
Good job staying out of the public eye this year. Oh, and congrats on the baby.