Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Nurse the Hate: The Post Australia Shark Dive Letter

Sept 8, 2018


As you may or may not know, I had decided last year to travel to South Australia to make a scuba dive with migratory great white sharks.  I had found an outfit that would allow me to take a cage to the ocean floor at about 60 feet and then exit the cage as I saw fit.  This was of great interest to me as my current life has so little adventure, I thought this seemingly reckless dive would help quench that thirst.  Also, I felt that if things went terribly during the dive and I was eaten, it would make for a much better final chapter to my story than sleeping in my own filth in a state run nursing home.  It just seems like much less trouble for everyone to be eaten by a shark instead of just sitting around waiting for the end.

Things took a turn during the lengthy flight.  While making the 32 hour trip to Adelaide Australia, I discovered a Tasmanian winery for sale via a Google advertisement at what I believed to be a very attractive price.  Through the wonders of the in flight internet access and complimentary scotch in first class, I found myself bidding on and then buying this property sight unseen upon landing in Melbourne.  In retrospect, it was hard to say if I was more jet lagged or excited.  My thoughts were that I should be able to quickly resurrect the flagging Tasmanian property after the shark diving trip in Port Lincoln, and then swiftly ascend the ranks into the Australian winemaking elite.  I anticipated the learning curve in making an award winning sparkling wine to be approximately 7-10 days, assuming I had access to self help YouTube videos.

This turned out to be a great miscalculation.  It turns out I know a great deal about drinking wine.  I also know a surprising amount about the theory of making wine.  Truth became evident however that I know nothing about the actual rigors of farming or winemaking practices.  “Biting off more than one could chew” seems applicable here.  I admit that I may have painted a bit rosier picture than was accurate when I sent my smug resignation letter to the company and accompanying soft filtered vineyard photos I clipped from an area tourist site.  I am quite sorry if I offended any of you in that letter.  I was a bit rash.  

Things turned for the worse very quickly in Tasmania.  Though I would rather not get into the incident in great detail, please note that I was not convicted of arson and will not be serving any time for insurance fraud in regards to the fire on what had been my property on April the 3rd.  Through lengthy legal proceedings, we reached a "no fault judgement".  I was permitted to leave the country with the understanding I would forfeit my property and need to petition for admission into the country on future potential visits.  I will always think fondly of the Australian people and will cherish my time there both in and out of the prison system.

I now find myself in a bit of a cash flow crisis in that I will need to successfully litigate the state of Tasmania for a portion of my initial outlay for the property.  I am optimistic my legal team will be able to find a loophole large enough to return enough money to me so I may live the rest of my days quietly yet frugally.  I have been able to support myself for the time being aboard a Dutch freighter as a crewman.  Despite an awful ten day bout of seasickness, the rest of the crew has taken to me and nicknamed me "aap braken".  I'm sure that means something like "funny guy" as they always laugh when they say it.  There is great spirit amongst the men!

I will be departing the ship today as they will be making a return trip to Australia after dropping their cargo in Hong Kong.  I have already found part time work making bubble tea in a small stall by the port, and I feel optimistic I will be able to find a temporary apartment quite cheaply. My friends on the ship told me it is very inexpensive to live here.  I have already been offered a local side job as a “yao luo”, which appears to be a courier of some type.  Things are looking up.  It seems I could be quite successful in a short time.  Though I am tempted to put down roots here, I feel the time might be right for me to return home.  This is why I am sending you this correspondence.  

It is a bit embarrassing, but if you could possibly temporarily loan me some money for an airline ticket, I would certainly pay you back as soon as I returned to Ohio.  I am operating under the assumption that I can resume my former position at my previous wage (adjusted upwards for cost of living increases of course).  Think of my time off as a sabbatical.  Surely you all recognize that my resignation letter's reference to all of you as "shit stupid troglodytes" was a farce focused on making a little levity during that tough time for all of us.  Let’s let bygones be bygones, shall we? 

I have set up an account at the local Western Union office under the name Ron Mexico.  Please wire me what you can as soon as possible.  As previously noted, I will pay you back as soon as possible!   

Monday, September 18, 2017

Nurse the Hate: The Great White Shark Dive Scheme

From what I gather, there are only four places on the planet where one can dive with great white sharks.  The Fallanon Islands are off of San Francisco.  They are stinky little islands sprayed with seagull shit where seals hang out on the rocky shoreline.  It’s usually cold and rough out there.  It offers no reason to go there except the sharks and getting seasick.  This trip does offer the upside of staying in the city and then working in wine side trips with the dives.  However, these dive trips also seem like a bit of a scam as the "authorities" (whoever that is) no longer allow tour operators to chum to attract the sharks.  Then factor in that the water is cold as shit and the visibility is low.  That makes me picture myself shivering in a steel cage in murky water while the guys running the boat are laughing at me topside knowing full well a giant shark isn't just going to swim past.  That's out.

There's a place called Seal Island somewhat near Capetown in South Africa that seems promising.  Great Whites like to eat seals and there are 75,000 of them flopping around this shitty little island.  I've always wanted to go to South Africa as well.  I can picture myself visiting wineries and being dismissive of their chenin blanc and pinotages.  I could see causing an international incident with my loose tongue.  Maybe I could even get robbed and shot in a shanty village as I naively search for "the real South Africa".  That would be nice.  The issue there is visibility in the water is a bit dicey and they have you breathe through a snorkel instead of a scuba tank.  I don't care for that as that seems to lack the full commitment of total independence from the boat.  I also am not flying across the planet to jump into murky water.  That’s out.

There's a place called Guadalupe Island off Ensenada in the Baja Peninsula in Mexico.  I love Mexico because there are essentially no rules.  The downside of having no rules is there is the very real possibility that you hop into a cage that falls apart the second you drop in the water because no one follows any safety or maintenance protocols.  As you are being eaten by a sea monster the crew abandons the area and conspires on how to cover up the missing gringo.  Quick travel fact for you…  There is no chance to type out a snarky Trip Advisor review when you get bitten in half.  That's a downside.  Plus, the Island is 160 miles west of Ensenada, so that requires 18 hours of travel.  The options are taking a special Narco protected charter bus from San Diego and then having an overnight on a Mexican dive boat or holing up in a sketchy Ensenada hotel with a bodyguard waiting to be robbed.  There is great visibility once you finally get there though.  I also assume they push the envelope on safety, which I oddly like.  If you are going to do something scary, make it really scary.  That’s possible.

The last option is in the Neptune Islands in South Australia.  They are like the Australian version of Galapagos.  There is a marine reserve where fur seals are in great supply, hence making the shark population large as well.  There is an operation of Australian divers that take a cage to the ocean bottom between 50-70 feet and then hang out there amongst the sharks, seals, rays, and enormous grouper.    In the winter 20+ foot females cruise the area to feed.  They get curious and start bumping into the cage, which is attention getting as they are about 2000 pounds.  This is exactly the kind of terrifying pointless danger I am seeking.    

The downside is that this destination is about 756 hours of flying away from where I live.  It would be like one of those 1850s sea voyages where when you return no one recognizes you because you’ve been gone three years.  My game plan would have to be making it a full world trek and do some things I need to do before being eaten by a shark.  This then entails me making a stop in Asia on the way to New Guinea to dive the World War II wrecks at Truk Lagoon prior to Australia.  There’s supposed to be a terrifying dive on a sunken Japanese destroyer wreck where 12 foot hammerheads swim in schools.  I’d like to do that with an angry little native guy that yells at me with an accent.  I will admit it is a bit off the beaten path.  Part of the travel there appears to be by “war canoe”.  It would be a much larger time commitment than a weekend junket to Vegas. 

I wish I seemed more spiritual so my employer would allow me to go on some sort of soul searching sabbatical (which would be a hard-drinking beach vacation that would be hard to disguise as anything else unless I emerged with a heart tugging documentary or dragged some sick kids with me as part of a charity dodge).  I have no faith in being able to pull off the inner office politics necessary for the sabbatical, so I might have to pretend I was a college grad student and take a job in South Australia until my visa ran out.  Perhaps I could be “the Yank that works at the dive shop” as I sullenly filled oxygen tanks.  I would wear a groovy necklace on a leather string and probably get a New Zealand tribal tattoo.  That’s not a good idea.  My issue is not being able to grow long hair that could bleach out blonde and being old.  When you are trying to scrape out an existence in a foreign country when you are 24, you are embracing adventure.  When you do it at my age you are a creepy drifter. 

There must be a way.  I will need to scheme.   

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Nurse the Hate: NFL Week 2 Revised

I was a bit premature in my earlier week 2 NFL post.  I should have assumed that Sam Bradford would have somehow gotten hurt in Week 1.  Sam Bradford can get hurt opening a can of Sprite.  I should have seen that situation as self-evident.  There has never been an injury report without Sam Bradford's name on it.  While degenerate gamblers should probably praise Bradford and his persistence to either play through or recover from horrific physical ailments, instead we utter profanity whenever his name is mentioned.  Most people in the Greater Metropolitan St. Louis area are under the impression Bradford's first name is "Fucking" as in "Fucking Bradford...".

As the Vikings are now going to start Case Keenum at QB on the road in Pittsburgh, I am pressing the panic button and getting out of that wager.  Case Keenum seems like a really good guy.  He is also not a very good quarterback.  Veteran NFL gamblers have long said "Case Keenum is starting?  On the road?  How much money can we get to Nevada before kickoff?".  I should probably gather up my life's savings and place it on the Steelers today at -6.  It is the right thing to do.  I am a coward though.  I don't think my heart could stand the stress of an otherwise meaningless Steelers v Vikings game with my entire life in the balance.  It is sort of darkly appealing to have a wager where if you won you would gain complete financial independence.  The downside is if you lost you would have to shoot yourself in the head with a pistol in the shower.  The future as a penniless street urchin would be too much to bear.  It's best just to run away from that entire scenario.

I am now going to focus on two things I believe will happen.  1.  I believe that the Patriots, having a full four more days to prepare than the Saints will win on the road.  I don't think it is possible that the Pats after a loss can bungle a huge advantage like that.  The Saints have two terrible tackles protecting their 38 year old franchise QB.  That's going to be an issue for them as New England's defense was just embarrassed on national TV.  It's not lining up well for New Orleans.  I just can't wrap my head around New England starting at 0-2.  2.  I think the Browns can stay close with the Ravens today.  Here's a quick little fact.  The Ravens have only won by double digits once in the last five years at home.  They do not appear to have an offense.  Though the Ravens are only giving the Browns 7.5, the solution is to employ our little friend "The Teaser" (also known as "the sucker bet") to move the line six points.  New England -.5/Cleveland +13.5

I recognize that betting on the Browns is foolhardy behavior.  I am powerless to stop it though.  I have been browbeaten by local media to think that the Browns have turned some type of corner and are now a legitimate NFL franchise.  This is exactly how the Browns disappoint the community each and every year.  No one builds up hopes and then crashes them to the ground like the Browns.  They are like having a son that continually goes to rehab with promises of "This time will be different Dad.  I love you!" who then comes home and steals the cash from your wallet for heroin.  Is that too strong?  No.  No it is not.  If and when the Browns let me down, I will be forced to make a mammoth bet on the Raiders today -13.5.  As I have well documented in story and song, the Jets never cover the spread.

Season record:  Still 0-2.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Nurse the Hate: The Willie Nelson Concert

It seems impossible that I have never seen Willie Nelson perform.  I have had probably 78 opportunities to see him play up until last night, but for whatever reason had never done it.  I had become a fan of Willie when I got turned onto the “Shotgun Willie” and “Redheaded Stranger” records, which are really remarkable albums.  By this point I must have 15 Willie Nelson records not including the roughly 3000 Greatest Hits comps I have clipped tracks from over the years.  I knew it would be risky seeing Nelson now as he is approximately 117 years old, but he’s seemed like he was 117 years old ever since I became aware of him decades ago.  

I went in with what I thought were realistic expectations.  I knew that Willie has been playing essentially the same set of 18 songs for the last 25 years despite having recorded literally 500+ songs.  I figured that if you have been knocking back the same set for 25 years, it was reasonable to assume it would be done at least proficiently if not at the very least professionally.  Willie walked out on stage with that carefree grin and the crowd gave out a roar.  Then the band kicked in as the enormous Texas flag was unfurled behind him.  And you know what?  He really sucked.

OK, I know that you aren’t allowed to say that out loud.  There are an Emperor’s New Clothes wardrobe full of reasons to wave off a bad show.  He is 84 years old.  Everyone that ever comes in contact with him absolutely loves the guy.  He has an amazing canon of work.  You absolutely want to give him a pass.  Sure, it’s all fun and games as Willie is smoking it up in his tour bus laughing it up.  It’s almost impossible not to love the guy.  Look at that pot laced twinkle in his eye as he gives you a knowing wink.  Let’s all belt out “On The Road Again” together!  But is it too much trouble to have done a soundcheck first?

These legacy artists get cranky.  I get it.  When you have spent the last 50 years standing around on a stage having to endure the sound guy fucking up the monitor mix every single night, you must reach a point where you think “What the fuck is the difference?  Even if we soundcheck now, by the time we hit the stage he is just going to chuck it all out the window anyway.”.  They blow it off and hang out in their bus.  I get it.  However, Willie is charging people $50-$125 to see him play.  Is it too much to ask to be able to have a legitimate mix out front?  Does the audience have to pay to hear the soundman struggle to get a working mix?  The first quarter of the set was Willie’s nylon guitar strings being banged around sitting dominantly on top of what I assume was his band of ringers playing well.  It was impossible to tell as Willie’s bashing across Good Ole’ Trigger sounded like open mic night at a college bar.

Willie also is no longer even attempting to sing.  He is talking the lyrics in clipped bursts.  “On The Road Again” sounds like this:  “Ohn.  Roah.  Gain.  Jus.  Can. Way. Geh. Roah. Gain.”  So now we have a guy who is playing poorly talking through his hits in a 1980s Dylanesque fashion.  It was really brutal.  I sat there and felt sad.  I felt sad in the same way I did when Willie Mays was stumbling around the outfield at the end when he was a Met.  I felt sad like I did when Johnny Unitas was a Charger.  I didn’t go see Willie Nelson to feel sad.  That’s when his son played “Texas Flood”, a song I have seen performed with more skill in almost every “blues jam night” I have ever been forced to attend.  That’s when I stopped feeling sad.  I started to feel ripped off.

Maybe it was the $15 Willie Nelson beer cozies for sale, an item that generates about $14.87 of pure profit.  Maybe it was that I knew people that had paid $100+ for great seats.  I might have been alone in this feeling of being scammed.  I know that the Willie Cult is as forgiving as the Ozzy Cult.  You don’t go to celebrate the moment.  You go to celebrate the past.  What is happening now is immaterial.  The people love Willie because they wish they could have been Willie.  They probably don’t care that he sucked.  “Oh, that’s just Willie!  He’s an American Institution!”  

Oh well.  I went to say that I saw Willie Nelson.  I did.  I saw Willie Nelson.  I just should have gone to see him a long time ago.     

Friday, September 15, 2017

Nurse the Hate: NFL Week 2

I was saddened to see Grant Hart from Husker Du had died this week.  I remember when Husker Du was a band much hipper people than me listened to until I finally “got it”, with Grant’s song “Books About UFOs” being one of the entry points into one of the 80s great bands.  I have no idea what took me so long.  Though the accepted logic is to praise their album “Zen Arcade”, I will stand firm and say “New Day Rising” and “Flip Your Wig” are superior records.  They are one of the few bands that pull off being aggressive and melancholy at the same time.  

I remember seeing Husker Du on tour for what I thought was their “Candy Apple Grey” record.  They came out on stage and then promptly played 20+ songs no one in the audience had ever heard before that turned out to be their “Warehouse” double album.  I was pretty annoyed at the time, but now I appreciate the commitment (or selfishness) to their artistry to only play their latest material they were most excited about.  That band was so loud that I could see the hair on my arms moving with the sound.  My ears rang for three days afterwards.  As a young adult I thought that was pretty cool.  Now I am a bit grumpy about the constant high pitch ring in my head I enjoy daily.  That show was clearly a warning shot I did not heed.
I used to have Cleveland Browns season tickets.  I let those lapse just before the team left town as I realized that adding eight Sundays of irresponsible drinking was not adding anything positive to my life.  I was more interested in going to rock shows anyway.  The appeal of tailgating with a bunch of assholes at the Muni Lot who were all blasting Springsteen’s “Born In The USA” conflicted with the fucked up music we liked to blare.  I remember listening to Grant’s post Husker Du band Nova Mob one time when some guy in a Kosar jersey drinking a tall boy can of Miller Lite asked me “What is this shit?”.  I stopped going to the games when I knew those were not “my people”.  Now I sit home and listen to records and gamble on the games.  It’s much more civilized.  This week I will listen to some Husker Du while I watch my inevitable comeback from the disaster of last week.
Now just because Grant was from Minneapolis does not mean we are about to get drunk on sentiment and start tossing money on the Vikings.  No, we are going to toss money on the Vikings because they play well as a road underdog.  They are 9-3 ATS in their last 12 as a road dog.  The Vikings are getting 6 points, which is too many.  The Steelers don’t look like they have jelled yet.  This fear of getting players hurt in the preseason means that teams that rely on intricate pass routes (I.e. Pittsburgh) are not yet firing on all cylinders.  They just haven't practiced enough.  The Steelers had a ton of “rusty” penalties last week.  That keeps games close.  I mean, the Browns hung in with these guys and they are The Browns.  Even though it is a road game after a short week for the Vikings, I like the points.  That Viking defense is for real.  Minnesota +6

Last week the Buffalo Bills rolled up 408 yards of offense on the Jets.  The Bills have one good offensive player left, and that is a running back that is approaching his mid 50s.  My thought is if the Jets had difficulty stopping what experts call a “crappy” offensive team, I am betting that the Jets will have “great difficulty” stopping a full throttle offense like Oakland.  The point spread is an attention getting 13.5 points.  This is exactly the type of line Vegas throws out to allow tourists to say stupid things like “Wow!  13.5 is a lot of points!  That’s way too many! Give me $100 on the Jets!  J-E-T-S, Jets!  Jets! Jets!”.  Flash forward to the end of that Vegas trip where this person is either crying in the Flamingo men’s room or blowing sailors on a parking deck.  Either way, that’s no way to spend a vacation.  Oakland -13.5

Season record:  0-2