Sunday, January 15, 2017

Nurse the Hate: NFL Playoffs Continue

I heard that there was an ice storm in Kansas City which pushed the AFC Playoff game back to an 8p start.  I suppose that it is good for the overall fan safety to not have people attempting to drive on ice slicked roads while wearing racially insensitive facepaint and waving around rubber tomahawks.  In my mind I could see a young boy that would have gone to the game with his father.  Maybe he has a big poster up of Len Dawson, who I believe is the last KC Chief quarterback to throw for a touchdown in the 1967 season.  Maybe that young whippersnapper would have climbed into his father’s Ford F-150 pickup with a little Chief’s ski cap on his head.  And maybe his father would have said something like “reach into that cooler and get your Dad another Busch Light son” as he fiddled around with the radio trying to find the “Inside The TeePee” pregame show on K-Chief Radio.  Maybe his son would have even opened up that beer for his Dad when his father was intent on such pregame chatter like “It will be important today for Kansas City to control the line of scrimmage” instead of being intent on that patch of black ice.  And maybe when that Ford F-150 violently slid off the road and hit a tree opening up the truck like a can of beans, we would later use the word “sheared” to describe how the boy’s legs came off.  Maybe the rescue squad would be interviewed on TV news and say something like “Never in all my years of doing this job have I seen something so horrible…” and then look off to a faraway point.  And maybe a couple years from now we would all well up with tears when we saw the United Way ad with that boy in a wheelchair on the Chiefs sideline as whatever forgettable Chief skill position player said something like “this boy really showed me the meaning of the word courage”.  Now we don’t have to do that because they moved the game.  Oh, the game itself?  I think the Chiefs will win somehow.  They will win like they usually do, some bizarre combination of a punt return, a pick six, blocked kick and maybe a safety.  Kansas City -2.

I took Atlanta yesterday because I figured that everyone was so focused on Seattle winning the previous week that they forgot the Falcons were pretty good.  It’s the same thing with this Dallas v Green Bay game.  The tone the sports media has taken is that the Packers might not ever lose again because Aaron Rodgers is the greatest player ever.  Joe Buck sure likes Aaron Rodgers.  Joe Buck is right now applying lotion to his penis while watching Aaron Rodgers highlights.  He will have repeated this action so many times by kickoff that I think we can all assume that his skin in his overall groin area will be quite soft and hydrated.  However, I seem to recall that the Dallas Cowboys were fairly dominant all season.  How everyone forgot this, I’m not sure.  Whatever happened last is what people remember.  Green Bay won last week so they will always win.  Forever.  I like Dallas to be able to run the ball and grind.  The Cowboys are home after a week off while Green Bay is limping in with no Jordy Nelson.  The home teams have won and covered in all six NFL Playoff games so far.  I like that trend to continue.  Dallas -5.

Season Record:  30-13

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Nurse the Hate: Hate The Trump Presidency Vol. 1

Two years ago it would have been impossible to sell through the idea of an incoming president having been taped by Russian spies having a “golden shower party” with prostitutes in the Moscow Ritz.  The movie "Ghost Dad" was more rooted in reality.  There is no one in a Hollywood pitch meeting that could have sat through a presentation where it was suggested that Americans would stand for their election being influenced by Russian hackers allegedly working with a political candidate in order to get elected.  “Thanks for coming in, but that script is so fucking out there that no one would believe it.  We can’t make that movie.  You got anything with a robot in it?”

The fact that this latest Trump story might not be true isn’t even the point.  It’s that it could be true.  It is well within what we now consider The Realm of Possibility.  How is this possible?  How have we allowed ourselves to come to this point?  Let’s say that the most galvanizing president in the last 50 years was Nixon.  It is incomprehensible that a news story would break along the lines of “Richard Nixon Filmed Eating Ass of Chinese Whores On Vacation”.  Yet in today’s America absolutely anything is possible.  There is no headline that will really get the population's attention enough to say as one unified mass, "We have a real problem here.".  There is nothing that will get people into the streets as a bloodthirsty mob.  "Trump may have worked with Russia to get elected?  Huh.  Hey, is MMA on?"  I have no idea how we as conscious citizens and the rest of our allies are going to white knuckle it through the next four years.

Trump's first news conference in a half a year was most noteworthy for his refusal to acknowledge certain news sources like CNN, labeling them as "fake news".  Yes, the same bland CNN that is on every airport on the planet.  CNN had the audacity to mention to their viewers that a classified document was blowing around noting that our incoming national leader had been willingly compromised by an antagonistic foreign power and had a party with prostitutes urinating all over the place.  How is that not the lead story at any news source, not for the day but maybe the year?  Trump appears to have gone to the Baby Doc school of journalism and is right now probably asking how he can have anyone writing something negative about him shot by government troops.  (If so, please note I think Trump looked very handsome at his news conference.  Very athletic too.)

It appears that he thinks he has ascended to Emperor.  It is very troubling that a man that spent this much time and effort to become president seems to have spent no time considering what actually being president entails.  He is going to be so disappointed when he discovers that instead of sitting on a golden throne he actually is the center of a snarling bureaucracy.  The press conference he just held is one that a guy trying to become president has, not one that actually is president. His lack of finesse is startling.  Hell, if he wasn't our president he would be hilarious.  Toss him up as head of state for Haiti and I would watch him all day long.  As our leader I am watching through the fingers held up to my eyes.  American history hasn't seen something like this since Andrew Jackson.        

Presidents need to communicate in a measured manner that demonstrates steady leadership.  We have elected someone that wants to communicate through Twitter.  Trump appears completely uninterested in finding out about a foreign government trying to influence our election but went to Twitter immediately to denounce Meryl Streep.  When I think of a rabble rousing bomb throwing miscreant that gets under the skin of world leaders, the name that comes to mind is "Meryl Streep".  If you just read that sentence it seems like a wild joke meant to make a point. Unfortunately the joke is on us, and by "us" I mean anyone that lives on the planet.

Trump isn't even president yet and this is a disaster.  Set your over/under for Watergate type hearings for first pitch of baseball season.  President Mike Pence never looked so good.     

Monday, January 9, 2017

Nurse the Hate: The Hooligan

There was a point in my childhood in which my father drove a car known as “The Hooligan”.  As a young teen I was horribly embarrassed by this car, as I was almost anything my parents did.  Between the ages of 13-15 almost all children spend their time in a constant state of embarrassment by the actions of their parents, and most of these children did not have to ride in what I believe now to be a 1968 Plymouth Valiant in very poor condition.  The Hooligan was a vehicle in its last dying days.  As I recall my father purchased this car to serve as a stopgap between two company cars.  It appeared like an unwanted relative.  One day The Hooligan was just there. 

If you ever go onto Kelly Blue Book to gauge your vehicle’s potential resale value, the condition levels start at “excellent” and end in “average”.  The Hooligan was well below that threshold, somewhere between the levels of “dangerously poor” and “barely a vehicle”.  My father was committed to never putting a dime into the car.  When he made the purchase I am positive it was the cheapest car available in the Tri-County Erie PA area.  When that car moved off the lot, two sales guys exchanged high fives.  It probably cost more to get the plates and title than the actual purchase price.  My father was delighted in "the great deal" he got.

I remember when the muffler fell off.  It happened on my father’s commute home from work.  I was outside doing whatever jackoff things a 12 year old does with his friends outside.  The sheer amount of noise that car was making was similar to that of an approaching helicopter.  We didn't even know what it was at first.  As a child I wasn't aware that automobiles could make that much noise.  The sound grew and grew until my horrified eyes spotted The Hooligan rolling down the neighborhood street with an almost sneer on its rusty grill.  I am sure the neighbors thought we had somehow become destitute or that my father had lost the family nest egg on a doomed Las Vegas junket.  How had this seemingly normal middle class family succumbed to driving in this junker?

My father was resolute in not putting a dime into that car.  Even my mother, who I think decided to humor my father’s plan in a “pick your battles” gambit, voiced surprise in his unwillingness to repair the muffler.  It reached a point when The Hooligan’s engine started that glasses shook in our cupboards.  It was like having a NHRA Funny Car in a suburban garage.  My father was completely inflexible on his position, believing that The Hooligan could carry him to whatever date he had assigned for The Hooligan’s end of service.  There would be no repair.

When the windshield wipers failed it must have been a challenge to even my father’s legendary stubbornness.  Erie is well known for having the worst weather in the Continental United States, a near constant state of snow/sleet/rain breaking up occasional periods of overcast skies.  People in Scotland think, “Fuck that.  I’m staying here.” if presented the opportunity to travel to Erie.  My father just stuck his head out the window and hoped for a better weather forecast the next day.  He was actually proud of being able to drive the car without wipers in the driving rain and seemed disappointed when we questioned the long term wisdom of driving blind.

The final straw was when black smoke began pouring out of the hood.  The Hooligan looked like a B-17 that had been hit by Nazi flak and was desperately trying to make the White Cliffs of Dover.  My father, undeterred by something as minor as catastrophic engine failure, stuck his head out the driver’s side window like a dog.  I think that if he believed The Hooligan could continue in that state he just would have bought goggles and figured out how to wipe the soot off his face once he got to work.  I would like to point out that this man had plenty of financial resources to just go and get another car.  It wasn’t ever an issue of money.  It had become something bigger.  A quest.  Even when he had to break down and finally buy a new car, he thought fondly of The Hooligan, remarking “I got $50 more in trade for that car than I paid for it!”.  I think The Hooligan always had a special place in his heart.

I only tell you this story to confirm that I have continued on every man’s destiny of becoming his father.  I am currently driving my “winter car”.  This is a 2003 Rav4.  I have refused to put money into this car for years with the exception of replacing tires that had become so bald that even on dry pavement the possibility existed of flying off the road while making a routine turn.  The car sits outside all year and serves the purpose of driving The Bassets and transporting my kayak.  It has been quietly rusting out from underneath.  It serves as a daily reminder of man’s folly in his battle against time and nature.  It doesn't have much time.

The Rav4 is about ready to drop the exhaust system.  Even co-workers that have become accustomed to my eccentricities have remarked on the deplorable sound of the vehicle.  Little do they know this is only a small issue in the overall scheme of things.  The front passenger side wheel is making what can charitably be called a “disturbing” noise.  I think it might be something with the brake mechanism that has rusted into a fixed position, but it could also be the entire structure ready to collapse.  There is the very real possibility of me driving down the highway and the wheel just gives way.  I would guess the news media will refer to this crash as “spectacular” in the ensuing coverage.

As the brakes have become somewhat unreliable, I have had to adjust my style of driving.  I would describe my driving in my normal vehicles as “assertive”.  I am very much a read and react driver that makes firm decisions in my quest to pass all traffic in what is essentially an unwinnable road race.  In the Rav4 it has become a chess match.  I always need to plan three moves ahead.  All possibilities of the wildly unpredictable other drivers must be constantly calculated.  If I guess wrong I will likely end up in a pile of rust and glass shards.  It makes the daily drive quite exciting.

Any rational person would look at this situation and immediately junk the Rav4.  I am not a rational person.  I have become absolutely resolute in my desire to get through the winter in this vehicle without spending another dime on the care of it.  I can’t really explain why I have become so inflexible.  I just decided.  That was it.  It wasn’t until I heard the throaty complaint of the Rav4 engine this morning and the sickening crunching sound of the right wheel that it hit me.  I am my father and this is my Hooligan.  I am not sure what to do about it or if I even have a choice. I know that I will reach a point where the wheel falls off and I will calmly emerge from the wreckage with a screwdriver, take off the license plates, and abandon the remains.

The question becomes one of destiny.  Am I destined to follow the pre-ordained path of my own Hooligan?  It is a question of nature versus nurture?  Am I genetically inclined to push this rusting hulk of metal well past the point of usefulness or is it a learned behavior from this traumatic childhood incident?  Is the son cursed to repeat the sins of the father?  I don’t really know, but if I were you I would stay out of the way of any rusty 2003 Rav4 you hear struggling behind you on the roads.          

Friday, January 6, 2017

Nurse the Hate: Hate Wild Card Playoffs Saturday

I was briefly deflated when a concerned friend forwarded me an article about a man that was dragged overboard from a fishing boat after hooking a marlin.  His boat just kept moving ahead without a skipper, leaving him alone in the Pacific.  The man floated around in the ocean for six hours and by sheer chance was found by a passing boat.  He was suffering from shock, hypothermia, and probably embarrassment.  I think the reason this article was sent to me was to dissuade me from this doomed fishing expedition idea I have in Cuba.  If anything, it has made my resolve only stronger.  I could not be any more qualified.  Yesterday I was working out with well over eighty (80) pounds of weight for some back exercises, so I cannot imagine me having any problem wrestling a six hundred (600) pound angry billfish into a leaky boat in angry Caribbean Seas.  My lack of experience will be no factor in this mission.

Where lack of experience will be a factor is in the NFL Playoffs this weekend.  Three (3) starting QBs are replacing the “real” starter.  Oakland’s QB Connor Cook has had so little playing time that one of Oakland’s starting tackles noted “he didn’t even know what his voice sounded like” until practice this week.  That doesn’t sound like a good indication of a team about to play well.  Meanwhile the Texans will start the completely ineffective Brock Osweiler.   The Houston Texans thought it was a good idea to give Osweiler $72 million to start at QB, which is roughly the same as giving Matt Flynn $72 million.  Osweiler is playing just like everyone in the league but Houston thought he would.  Houston is like a buddy of yours that buys a Mercury Lynx and then asks you with optimistic eyes “Pretty kick ass car, right?”.

This begs the question, which is the way to go?  Take Oakland with a guy that has never played or Houston with a guy that has played pretty poorly?  It is really difficult to build up much enthusiasm for either argument.  Betting on this game is admitting to the world that you have a problem.  No one wants to see someone reeling around a sports bar smelling of bourbon screaming at Brock Osweiler or Connor Cook.   It’s absolutely pathetic to think that is even a possibility for some degenerates.  Betting on this game is a flare gun shot up saying “help me” in flashing letters.  By the way, I am on OVER 36.5.    

I cannot feel any stronger about Seattle beating Detroit.  Detroit has that Great Lakes area cloud of doom that floats over them like a cloud of pollution.  The last playoff game the Lions won was in 1957.  You know how I make shit up with crazy sounding stats?  This isn’t one of them.  1957.  Leather Tuscadero was still cranking out the hits back then.  So now the Lions are going to fly out to Seattle and win there in January against a surging Seahawk team?  I cannot construct a scenario in my mind where a bunch of guys in Lion uniforms are dancing around while dejected Seahawk fans file out of the stadium in stupid face paint.  I can’t do it.  Seattle -8.

Season Record:  28-13

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Nurse the Hate: Hate New Songs

I returned home yesterday after fleshing out new Daredevils songs in Leo’s new basement bunker.  It is a total construction zone with dirt and rubble everywhere.  It is a cross between playing music in a squat in London in 1977 with Joe Strummer and if you decided to get together a band in Berlin in 1945 about two months after the Russian Infantry rolled through town.  I can’t ever recall having mic cables that were dusty before.  I think the music will inevitably have a gritty quality to it as the surroundings will have to seep in.  It is not a space where Seals & Crofts would consider rehearsing.  Hell, even Crass would have second thoughts.

One of the new songs we kicked around has this Waylon Jennings stomp to it.  I abandoned my original lyrics and took some old ones I had in my book that seemed to better fit the mood.  They aren't even lyrics so much as crazed scribbles.  The song is called “Too High To Come Down” and was written quickly after “a Leo incident”.  About a year ago Leo was baked and started “the shit talk” portion of the cycle.  (The cycle:  smoke weed, talk shit, sleep, repeat)  He had somehow come up with the idea as he had been living in his old basement bedroom with his mother like he had been in the early 1990s, that perhaps he could also revisit his interests from that time period.  This being the time of Melrose Place ruling the TV ratings, he had a fascination of doing terrible things to Heather Locklear.  His “plan” was to build a time machine out of the discarded construction materials around his garage, travel back in time to 1991 and contact Heather Locklear.  He would then deliver a message to Heather Locklear that future Heather Locklear in 2016 should go to visit Leo in his basement where they could enjoy each other’s company and then engage in intercourse on his pool table. 

I will admit I was immediately concerned about the viability of “The Plan”.  It's hard to come up with a scenario in which Leo can possibly be in the same room with Heather Locklear, or at least doesn't end with him being escorted out by Security.  I won’t fault his creativity or ambition.  It is important to have goals.  I was concerned about his qualifications for building this time machine conceptually as well as the limitations he would face from the available materials.  I'm not sure you can build a time machine with a broken sink.  I also had a sneaking suspicion that his follow through on this project might not be up to the task.  Very little of what happens during "shit talk" comes to fruition, hence the "shit talk" moniker.  Yet, for weeks the discussion about this Time Machine Heather Locklear courtship continued.  So when you hear the line in the song about “Maybe you’re talking shit in your basement/About traveling back in time/Maybe you have big ambitions/And Heather Locklear on your mind” you’ll know what I was talking about now.  I have just taken you “inside the artist’s mind”.  You’re welcome.

I guess while I am at it I might as well note that the third verse is about the time when Bob and Leo were driving the Cowslinger van all the way down to Florida.  Bobby was such a sweet innocent boy.  In retrospect I, as well as Bob’s parents, should be held accountable for placing Bob in the care of a late 20s aged Leo with a pocket full of gas money and a weak set of directions south.  I can’t really defend that I placed this teenage boy in a van with a guy that was a cross of Homer Simpson and Tommy Chong for a twenty hour drive.  I remember giving them a pep talk before they left my house with the van.  “OK you guys.  Keep your shit together and I will see you tomorrow in Florida.”  I think Leo got into his stash by the time he hit the end of my driveway.  I know for a fact they weren’t even an hour outside of town when Leo, who was driving, turned to Bobby and asked in all seriousness “Bob, which one of us is driving right now?”.    That’s the third verse.  “Maybe you’re with your buddy driving to Florida/Just doing the best you can/Maybe you’re behind the wheel/asking which one of us is driving this van?”

Look, it's not Shakespeare.  It's still better than most Yes lyrics and definitely better than 88% of Black Sabbath lyrics.  Cut me some slack when you hear it.  I'm doing the best I can.  Like Leo was...    

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Nurse the Hate: Hate German Wines

I spent much of yesterday attempting to memorize German Wine Label terminology.  I don’t know when the last time you attempted to work the word “gutsabfullung” into a conversation, but let me assure you it was my first.  The problem with this WSET wine certification is that I am completely out on an island.  It is like memorizing Greek without knowing anyone that speaks Greek or ever having the chance of going Greece itself.  I have put myself in a situation where I don’t have any peers.  Any human being that I come in contact with in Ohio immediately glazes over if I get into any detail on any of this shit.  The only one that will ever know that I can name the 13 Anbougebiete is myself and whatever poor sap the WSET has enslaved into grading a mountain of poorly written student exams.   I am becoming an expert in ice climbing but live in the desert.  I am trying to shove 10 pounds of almost totally useless shit into the two pound bag that is my mind.

Here’s a quick tip.  If you ever want to make someone in a beverage store roll over like a submissive puppy as they wet themselves in fear, say the following:  “I am really disappointed that you don’t carry any of the wines from the Hessische Bergstrasse.  I find that to be the most underrated Angougebiete, don’t you?”.  Although what you have really said is “I’m sad you don’t have any obscure German wine from a place no one outside Germany has ever heard of.  It is an underrated region.”  It comes off as “I know more than you could ever dream of knowing about a subject no one really cares about, German Riesling.  Can you even imagine how much more I know about everything than you do?  Can you?  Now, out of my way you fool!  You are blocking the cooler!  I am buying some light beer and cannot afford any delays!”

I was urged to download something called “The Examiners Report” by my instructor in San Francisco.  Its purpose appears to be to crush the spirits and will of prospective students seeking to pass these exams.  It’s a basic rundown on why almost everyone that tries to take this test fails.  Some of it is written in a wonderfully British tone of condemnation and humorless superiority which I have somehow grown to really love.  “Many answers were superficial, unimaginative and unrealistic showing limited original thought…”  That sounds like something you would get in response to a bad test paper as a 14 year old.  I would like to hear that in a crisp English accent and then ask that person “Oh yeah?  You want to wrestle?” while in my lucha libre mask.  That would probably soften up the rhetoric.  This comment was actually made in regards to a question of diversity and challenges of selling the wines of the Loire outside France.  Don’t feel bad if you don’t know what that means.  It’s a hard topic to get that worked up about as almost no one in America even knows what “The Loire” is much less that wine is made there.  I think I could have provided a very realistic answer.  “No one knows what the fuck those wines are and would rather buy a chardonnay or cabernet with a name they can pronounce.  They want a bottle that looks cool, not with a bunch of French words they don’t know how to say.  You know when the last time someone in Ohio said, “Man I hope someone brings some sweet ass chenin blanc to the party because I’m really fucking thirsty.”?  Never, that’s when.  You think someone that eats at Burger King is going to take a chance and buy some tootsie fruitsy French wine at the bottom of a store shelf?  No fucking way.  They’d rather buy a 12 pack of Corona because they know what that is and they aren’t going to show up at a party with something called a “Vouvray” and risk looking like an asshole.”  (I’m thinking I would lose “marks” on this answer despite it being 100% true.)

In the back of this report are tables showing the pass/fail percentages of persons taking the various exams.  The particular unit I am doing now, of which there are six I must pass to earn my Golden Wine Scepter, had a pass rate of 35%.  This sort of gets my attention as I scan around the room when I am in San Francisco in the classroom setting.  I am the only person in that room not involved in the wine business.  While these people spend their days involved in wine while trying to prepare to pass this test, I am singing “Mojo Twist” and selling TV commercials.  This is probably a disadvantage.  A woman I met last week in a restaurant that works for a wine importer was completely flabbergasted that I was even attempting to pass this set of exams, much less for no apparent purpose.  It’s like I’m trying to learn to be an anesthesiologist just to see if I can while everyone else is white knuckling it to get a good job at a hospital.  I’m putting myself through the ringer for pleasure.  It’s looking bleak.  According to the data in the back of those tables, a random student has a 5% chance of passing all the exams on their first attempt.  Somehow I have passed four of six.  Please note on that 5%, it is under the assumption that each student in the data set is equal.  They aren’t.  Right now some Japanese guy that was sitting next to me is completely memorizing the 878 pages of “The Wines of Burgundy” by Clive Coates, MW.  He will be able to recite it when I see him next.  Meanwhile the guy that was sitting by the opposite corner that kept making really gross noises is probably waiting for his edibles to kick in and playing video games.  I fall somewhere in the middle I suppose.

I am deep in this thing now.  The next time you see me I might well be reading “Rheingold:  The German Wine Renaissance”.  I might even be enjoying it.  Don’t make fun of me.  I need to remember what the hell the difference is between a Qualitatswein bestimmer Anbaugebiete auslese and a Qualitatswein mit Pradikat trockenbeerenauslese.  For no real reason.  Or some English guy probably named Roger is going to write terrible things about me.  And I will never be able to confront him in my wrestling mask.  Well… I could I suppose… Pretty easily in fact… If this exam goes south and someone gets snarky, why blame myself?  It would be much more satisfying to leap naked in a wrestling mask out of a London alleyway to settle differences in opinion on The Loire.