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‘Tis the season to be frightened

It is Halloween and These Things Scare Me:

•It’s not America, it’s Red Sox Nation. Is it too late to call our old, tyrannical friends at the British Empire and ask back in? For many of us cannot understand how one night we all went to sleep in the United States and the next day we awakened in Red Sox Nation.

Like a bad flu, Red Sox fans are everywhere and spreading.

I would rather be stuck in a grain elevator with Kid Rock and Tommy Lee than in a sports bar with Stephen King and Doris Kearns Goodwin.

I don’t even go to the supermarket anymore for fear of being accosted near frozen foods by a Red Sox fan. And I live in Los Angeles.

When they whined about The Curse of the Bambino, Red Sox fans were self-pitying but somewhat lovable. These days, they are just cocky and obnoxious.

Now I know why Shelley Long left “Cheers.”

•David Stern’s NBA is always FAN-tastic. One referee admitted to betting on games. Half of the NBA’s refs violated the league’s policy on casino gambling. And the New York Knicks’ owner and coach were found liable for sexual harassment against a former team executive.

So what does the benevolent dictator do?

Stern dumps the betting ref, telling us he was a “rogue, isolated criminal.” He doesn’t reprimand any other official, saying the league’s rules were “overly broad” and would be changed. And he doesn’t punish the Knicks’ honchos, deciding to stay publicly mum on the issue.

To review NBA policy briefly:

If you’re a player wearing baggy pants, we will discipline you. If you are a referee who violates league gambling rules, we’ll change the rules. If you are a team official guilty of sexual harassment, we’ll turn the other cheek.

Frankly, players and officials should not be allowed in casinos, period. When you have a lot of money, it’s easy to lose a lot of money; when you lose a lot of money, it’s easy to have the debt forgiven if you can influence the result of a single game.

•”Larry King Live”: Celebrate everything, challenge nothing. Nightly on CNN, Larry King leans in and looks like he’s grilling his guests; rather, he’s simply trying to jump into their laps.

If you want to make a soft landing, you parachute onto “Larry King Live.” Whether you’re selling a book or selling your soul, guests know that Larry King will always lead you to where you want to go.

“Larry King Live” is like a judgment-free confessional: You spill it all, over 60 minutes, and not only are you spared three Hail Marys and two Our Fathers, they validate your parking!

Heck, Larry King lobs in softball questions that Wee Willie Keeler could hit out of the park.

If Hitler were alive today, Larry King would only ask him about his paintings.

•How come no one ever loses playing online poker? Every other day, I run into somebody who tells me how much money he is making on the Internet. This must be how Warren Buffett got started! I mean, it would seem to be a statistical improbability, but I never run into any folks who are getting wiped out playing poker online.

Well, I did a little math. Let’s say there is a heads-up $100 pot. Right off the bat, the online site takes $3 – that’s the “house rake.” So one player wins $47, the other loses $50. Which raises two points: One, eventually the “house” is the only one with all the money, no? And, two, can somebody PLEASE FIND THE FELLA WHO LOSES THE FIFTY BUCKS? Because I can’t.

By the way, how about the news from Internet poker lately? One site stripped a tournament winner of his $1.2 million first prize for an indiscretion it would not disclose. Another site discovered cheating during a tournament, allegedly perpetrated by a former site executive who got access to everyone’s hole cards.

Couch Slouch is shocked – shocked! – to find online improprieties going on in there.

Ask The Slouch

Q. Why do NFL officials get to review replay challenges on high-tech HDTV with DLP monitors while quarterbacks have to settle for black-and-white photos of the opposing defense that look like they were taken with a Dick Tracy novelty camera? (Dave Gehrke; Brookfield, Wis.)

A. What, you think if Kyle Boller could see the Steelers’ defensive scheme on a plasma flat screen with Dolby surround sound, his passer rating would go up?

Q. A few weeks ago, you wrote that the New England Patriots aren’t that good. Is it possible you are even dumber than you look? (Brandon Armstrong; Raleigh, N.C.)

A. I met one of my wives at a Jiffy Lube. You tell me.

Q. My husband says you were making it up last week when you wrote that you once were a farmer. Well? (Laura Springs; Albany, N.Y.)

A. Actually, I once was a rising executive with Colgate-Palmolive but, alas, the remote was invented and I lost my will to market the perfect toothbrush.

Q. The Mitchell report is due out soon. Which name revealed will be the most shocking? (Chris Crisafi; Waldorf, Md.)

A. Roy Hobbs.