Friday, December 2, 2016

Nurse the Hate: The Dangers of the Internet

I have had a series of dreams recently where I am cleaning fish.  I haven't caught a fish much less cleaned a fish in decades.  I have absolutely no idea where that came from.  I couldn't figure it out.  I looked it up on the internet.  Surely I could find the answer there.  I carefully considered what the various websites told me and then a wave of rational thought hit me.  "Dreams don't necessarily mean anything.  A random website that has been created by some joker that knows even less I than do means even less than my own speculation.  I should close this website immediately and back away from the computer."

That is the thing with the web.  One minute you are looking for information on Kansas City Chief offensive line injuries.  The next minute you are examining your subconscious with the aid of a website a 13 year old Korean girl put together with her friends after school.  We walk around with a device that can teach us about almost anything, yet I seem to see mostly dog videos and guys getting hit in the nuts falling off skateboards.  You can have the most innocent of intentions.  Three clicks later it has all gone wrong.  Let me tell you first hand, it's not a far jump from "making gingerbread houses" to "clown porn".  It's best not to know about things like your subconscious.  Or clown porn.

What I do know about thanks to the web is that the Buffalo Bills are the #1 running team in the NFL.  (I know.  It surprised me too.)  They go on the road to take on Oakland with their #28 run defense.  Let's be honest.  Everyone has jumped on the Raider bandwagon.  They and the Cowboys are the Teams of the Moment.  The key to betting football is to remember that not only are you picking the team that will win the game, but the one that beats perception.  The Public is going to be all over the Raiders.  I'm going the other way.  Gambling on sports has taught me that The Public is always wrong.  This is not a theory.  It is an absolute truth.  The Raiders have a big game next TH against KC.  The home game against Buffalo is an afterthought.  The Bills are good at hanging around, especially if they can run the ball.  Take the points.  Buffalo +3.5.

The People are very excited about Miami.  They have won six in a row.  I saw some guy from the Dolphins in a horrible nightclub muscle shirt and gold chain interviewed on ESPN.  That guy thought he was the man because he won six in a row (and probably because of a lifestyle in South Beach that would make Caligula blush).  I get mad when I think about what that guy has going on.  Then I remember he will probably snap a knee in an otherwise meaningless game in Buffalo in the snow and never walk properly again.  Then I think "oh let that crazy kid have some fun".  The Dolphins are on a roll.  However, let's slow down on the Dolphins.  Four of those six wins were close games against real dogs.  Now I'm not suggesting that the Ravens are some kind of juggernaut.  That team is an illusion as well.  However, they are better than SF, Rams, Jets, and San Diego.  And they are at home.  And the Dolphins start Tannehill.  Miami will have all types of problems vs that Baltimore defense.  Baltimore -3.  

Season Record:  22-8

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Nurse the Hate: Hate Kickstarter

I recently received an urgent email insisting I contribute to a Kickstarter campaign to help pay for an underground rock band's flights back from a European Tour.  For those of you not familiar with "Kickstarter", it is an internet fundraising method where generally an artist of some kind makes a plea to help them financially with a project.  "We want to do this idea.  Send us money so we can, and if you do we will do something symbolic for you when we finish."  This is the basic idea. 

I do have an issue of having to pay for someone to go on a tour.  Being someone that has gone on low budget, life on the razor's edge tours, my immediate reaction to that email was "fuck off".  We figured it out.  You fucking figure it out.  We play every single day, and have done multiple shows on the same day.  We create merchandise that people want to purchase.  We cut expenses to the bone.  We route correctly.  We make it fucking add up.

This brings me to the real crux of it.  If the band does not have the demand to enable enough club revenue to generate enough money to get back, perhaps not enough people wanted you there in the first place.  Maybe you need to get something going to create demand.  If you wanted to go to Europe to see what it was like, get a job and save money to buy vacation airfare.  Don't clog up my email and try to beg me for the money.  I have enough people with real needs shaking me down during the holidays.  If you have to stay in Amsterdam and suck off sailors to make enough money to get home, well that's a very powerful life lesson.  My guess is that in the future you won't fly to Europe without a round trip ticket, or maybe do something to generate press prior to flying over.  (Quick tip:  On your next trip over, telling the press in advance about crying while performing fellatio in the Reeperbahn for a handful of euros is sure to get you coverage!)

Maybe I am not with the times, but "kickstarter" to me seems like "begging".  If the market won't pay for it, maybe you don't need to be doing it.  Also, the tone of so many of those kickstarter campaigns are "hey, kick in some money already, we want to do this stupid thing".  I don't show up at your gigs and bug you saying "Hey!  Hey!  When you are done, I need all of your merch money!  I want to go to Epcott Center!".  Take care of your own business.  Put on good shows that attract people.  Make records and gear people want to buy.  Get to work.


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Nurse the Hate: Mexican Shark Dive II

“Greg?  Yes my friend.  The sharks are here waiting for you.  You are coming when?  Before Christmas?  Good!  Good!  You know the sharks like Santa…”  And with that the long awaited shark dive has been re-scheduled.  Mi amigo Alvaro has penciled me in and I am committed.  In a few weeks I will flop over the boat in Mexico to dive with Nitrox (which I have never used) after not diving for a year trying to remember how scuba shit works all to check out eight foot long 500 pound bull sharks without a cage or any real defense.   It's a horrible idea.  What really caught my attention on Alvaro’s website was the following: “The sharks are curious by nature and will come to within a few meters of the divers.  We allow the Bull Sharks to approach and remain at depth until we run low on air in our tanks and then ascend to the surface.”

I’m not sure how you ascend from bull sharks as most attacks I have heard about have been bull sharks striking upwards.  I have a friend of a friend that almost died swimming off a boat last year from a bite from a bull.  Not to worry.  Alvaro has assured me that the bull sharks are wary of the bubbles from our tanks.  That crazy fucker jumped into the water off La Jolla when Great Whites were feeding on seals to try and get footage for a wildlife TV program, so he’s pretty much up for anything.  He maintains sharks are essentially frightened of divers.  That probably is a lot more reassuring on top of the boat then when you are passively buoyant trying not to do something stupid when normally aggressive sharks that are 2.5 times your size swim by at a few meters. 

“Don’t worry my friend!  If they arch their back, it’s when they are going to do something aggressive.  Now you know!”  I don’t really understand what I am going to do with that information if a 500 pound sea predator gets aggressive while I am clumsily swimming around in dive gear.  In my mind I see myself quickly brandishing a knife and fighting the sea monster off.  What would probably happen is that I would get bitten in the leg and bleed out on the way to the boat while crying.  I trust Alvaro to make up a story of a more gallant finish than the undoubtedly sad reality.  He seems good that way.

It has become amazingly important to me that I accomplish this before the end of 2016.  I have been pretty lame this year overall.  True, I have made progress on the impossible wine certification.  Yes, I managed to get a record out.  Other than that it has been a series of personal embarrassments and spectacular failures.  I really need to get back on track.  Assuming that I don’t do something stupid on this dive and die or end up in a decompression chamber (which might be worse than dying by the way), I can make some new goals and re-new a sense of purpose. 

The real upside would be if I can get a small bite of some kind that doesn’t kill or disfigure me.  I can very quickly morph into a Hemingway-esque character and show off my shark bite at the drop of a hat.  “It was a day like any other.  The pelicans slept on the dock.  We took a small boat out to sea.  The engine strained.  The smell of petrol filled our noses.  And the tanks and masks and fins.  The sea does not care if you are calm or have fear.  It was cold and blue and small fish near the reef.  I dove with courage.  The sea respects courage.  But the sea does not yield.  The shark bit.  The shark bit hard and flesh tore.  I stabbed with the steel of the knife.  The shark bit again.  I fought.  The sea turned red.  My knife plunged through his thick skin.  The shark fled.  I ascended to the sunlight.  Alvaro applied the tourniquet in the boat.  We drank tequila long and hard and toasted the shark.  It was the truest thing I had known.”  Then I would show a small disappointing scar on my arm about the size of a car key.

Follow your dreams.      

Monday, November 28, 2016

Nurse the Hate: My Godfather Part 2

There is another opportunity for me to become a Godfather again in the near future.  This is obviously very exciting news for me as I have never been known to pass The Godfather movie whenever I stumble onto it on cable.  It is an undeniable fact that I like the idea of being a Godfather much more than any of the actual duties of being a Godfather.  I am, frankly, completely unaware of the actual duties of being a Godfather unless you count repeating dialogue from the Coppola films.  I have yet to have the opportunity to sit in a darkened office with nearby muscle as I slap my godson screaming “Be a man!”.  I will share with you that based on some social media photos I have glimpsed of my current godson, I am concerned that I am on a collision course with that reality.  As I haven’t actually spoken with my godson in well over two years, this will probably come as a shock to the boy.  A grown man that is essentially a stranger slapping your face and screaming at you?  Eh, what can you do…  You gotta straighten the kid out.

I think a mistake I made in the past was to focus on the characteristics of Vito Corleone.  This time around I think if given the opportunity I will assume a role more akin to Don Fanucci, the Black Hand from Godfather 2.  While Don Fanucci did get shot by DeNiro at the Feast, he had a good run prior.  I think I can really assimilate into the Don Fanucci personality and have it work for all parties concerned.  I can definitely claim a puppet show is too violent for me.  That’s easy.  I will just need to create a scenario where I extort cash from someone and place my hat on top of it as I drink espresso.  I think it will be less effective if that hat is a Giants baseball cap, but I can’t start walking around in white suits a la Don Fanucci.  I have already shared with you my last disaster with a white suit.  There is no need to go back there.

I will need to make clear to the interested party in retaining my Godfather services that unless the kid lives in my immediate orbit, I will offer almost no real support.  I am much too busy and self-involved to possibly be seen as a safety net emotionally.  Granted, if the parents are eaten by a mountain lion while on an unlikely hiking expedition, I will see to the boy’s education, though by “see to” I mean enroll the child in military school and have awkward holiday dinners when he is on leave.  “So…  How’s school?  Hmm…  That’s nice.  Can you pass the rolls?”  I won’t be completely absent though.  I would like to take him to Cleveland’s West Side Market as he walks by my side as I pluck fruit off vendor’s carts and eat my way through the stalls.  I should practice wearing a coat on my shoulders beforehand.  It would be embarrassing if it falls off when I am shaking down the citrus stall.  The boy doesn’t need to see that.

Maybe I can somehow blend the Vito and Don Fanucci roles and take my godson in like Robert Duvall’s “Tom” character.  Though I don’t suspect I need a consigliere, it would be conceptually good to have one.  I know plenty of guys that have fast cars and nice guitars, but I don’t know any that have a consigliere.  That’s a real status symbol.  It will be tough to work into conversation.  I would have to say complete lines of Godfather movie dialogue with key details switched out.  It will probably shake people initially when I lean in and whisper “So, Leo will move against you first.  He will set up a meeting with you with someone that you absolutely trust, guaranteeing your safety.  And at that meeting, you will be assassinated.” I will get the kid into it too.  It will be confusing when a young boy shows up at places I am frequenting and announces “I'm an attorney for Greg Miller. These men are private detectives hired to protect Greg Miller. They are licensed to carry firearms. If you interfere you'll have to appear before a judge in the morning and show cause.”  In time I think people will think of it as just “an amusing quirk”.  We’ll see I suppose.

It is an exciting time.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Nure the Hate: Hate Ohio State/Michigan

Many people in the region are VERY excited about the Ohio State vs Michigan game today. I can understand their excitement about this marquee matchup but we must admit a truth.  There is almost nothing worse than being surrounded by Ohio State superfans, and I would include experiences like attending a live Starship concert or being forced to attend an amusement park in August as being slightly more desirable.  Most Ohio State superfans are missing a key component to having their annoying behavior justified, and that is of course actually attending Ohio State University.  Just because you live in Sheffield Lake and bought an Ohio State cap at a gas station does not allow you to yell out "O-H!" in my general direction.  Even if you did attend OSU, you can pound "Hang On Sloopy" right up your ass.

I lived in Columbus for a couple of years.  The entire town is focused on Ohio State football.  Every single bland guy in khaki pants and an OSU golf pullover is going to get staggeringly drunk today and scream about how much they hate Michigan, in most cases a place they have never actually been.  News flash.  Ann Arbor Michigan is about ten times nicer than the barrio surrounding the ivy covered old buildings at Ohio State.  This does not excuse the people rooting for "Blue" though as they are just as big of a bag of assholes as the OSU faithful, but Columbus Guy should be aware that Ann Arbor is actually quite nice.

I am going against my better judgment today and going to a public place to watch this game.  I know the bar where I am going will be packed to the rafters in dudes yelling at the TV screens and punctuating moments of inaction with chants of "O-H!" with the expectations of me screaming back "I-O!".  I'm sorry.  I can't do that.  I am a contrarian at heart.  An agitator.  I am strongly considering taking Michigan with the points and rooting against the entire room.  This places me in a position where if Michigan wins I will be happy by my financial gain and seeing the crushed dreams of Ohio State Guy.  If Michigan loses, I don't really care.  I will need to find a happy medium where I can balance out financial risk with emotional well being.  I might have to wait until I walk into the place prior to placing my action to get a feel for how obnoxious Ohio State Guy is going to be.  Hell, if Michigan Guy is in there being an asshole, I might take Ohio State on the money line...  There is much to consider if one wants to achieve a moment of Zen today.

I had this dream last night where I was in a small cottage reading a book.  In the background music was playing.  It was opera music that was familiar but I will be damned if I can name it.  It was very calm.  I could smell something weird cooking, like a tuna melt in a toaster oven though, which sort of grossed me out.  Still, I felt very peaceful.  Then the phone rang.  It was an old rotary style phone.  I picked it up and my gambling degenerate friend Dave (a.k.a. the "Stackmaster") urgently asked me "Who do you like in The Game?  Who do you like?".  I became very anxious because I had no idea, just like I do now.  I told him I would call him back.  I didn't know!  I didn't know!  Why is Stacky bothering me in my dreams?

In about an hour I'm walking into that bar.  I am going to scan the room, observe the behavior of The People and confidently call Stackmaster.  Little does he know that my subconscious and the behavior of some morning drunks in Ohio State or Michigan sweatshirts will determine his financial well being this weekend.  Life is a hell of a thing filled with vagaries, isn't it?  

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Nurse the Hate: Thanksgiving Galaxy of Wagers

Most people have Thanksgiving traditions.  Perhaps your family likes pumpkin pie made a certain way, or are very particular about a certain recipe for stuffing.  Maybe you decide that it's a good idea to play a "Turkey Bowl" tackle football game in the morning with old high school friends.  I would like to warn you right now that you aren't 16 any longer and you will either be so sore you can't move or will shatter your fibula.  Once you get past age forty, there is only one real decision to be made on fitness and overall health.  You can choose to be either fat or sore.  It's one or the other. That football game idea will catapult you well beyond sore and straight into traction.  You have been warned.

My brother and I have a Thanksgiving tradition of our own, the Thanksgiving "Galaxy of Wagers".  We gamble on every possible outcome of each one of the onslaught of games coming our way.  The centerpiece of this "Galaxy of Wagers" is the time honored tradition of The Thanksgiving Teaser.  The teaser is known in gambling circles as "a sucker bet".  It requires the gambler to pick the outcome of two or three games but gives the illusionary advantage of being able to move the line by six points.  On paper, the teaser looks like a sure thing.  It isn't.  It's for suckers.  Like my brother and I.

There is almost no chance to go 3 for 3 in betting on NFL games.  These games are all on a razor thin margin, and making matters worse is that it is a short week.  I have read accounts from players that compare playing in an NFL game and the after effects of "like waking up in the morning after you have been in a terrible car crash".  Put it this way.  These guys all have four days to recover from being in an enormous car crash instead of seven.  While we see "Andrew Luck, QB, questionable", what that really means is "He's crying in his condo because if he even glances at any light an electric current of pain runs through his broken skull".  Meanwhile guys like me are fully reclined on a couch drinking heavily and eating sausages saying things like "Aw yeah, he'll play...  It's not that bad.".  The injury report is key to these games.

That being said, I like what is going on with the Lions.  They have guys coming back from injury whereas the Vikings have guys in walking boots and knee braces,  Detroit has won five of their last six and is 4-1 at home.  The Vikings, who betrayed me last week, have lost four of their last five.  I hate betting on the Lions.  The Lions exist only to crush your dreams, and I'm a guy that knows what it is like to have these dreams come crashing down around you.  I have shuffled around the post industrial landscape of Downtown Detroit.  There's not much good that can happen there except for pretty good chili dogs and avoiding Greektown.  Still, I'm on the Lions.  God help me.  I will drive to Minneapolis on Friday and attack the Viking complex if they screw me two weeks in a row.

My gut tells me Washington is going to hang in there versus the Cowboys today.  It just seems like the Cowboys will have trouble pressuring Cousins, and he's pretty good when he can stand around in the pocket and fire away.  However, the Redskins are 30th versus the rush.  This is going to be a major issue as Ezekiel Elliot will continue to be a monster player until he eventually gets arrested for getting on an airplane with a duffle bag full of weed.  That didn't happen this week, so he should have a big day.  As long as the Cowboys don't fall behind early, they should cover.  Dallas has yet to lose against the spread this season.  Let me repeat that.  The Cowboys are 9-0-1 ATS.  I'm on Dallas.

The late game might be unwatchable.  Andrew Luck isn't going to play.  That means the Colts are without their best player, the guy that singlehandedly makes them competitive.  Instead they roll out against Pittsburgh with Scott Tolzien under center.  It's not easy to imagine Scott Tolzien rallying the troops.  I like to think of the Colts being in their meeting room and being told Tolzien is going to start and a guy puts his hand up to say "Seriously Coach?".  It's hard to come up with a scenario where the Steelers lose this game.  Then again they are a perplexing team that is capable of losing to anyone at any time..  That being said, there is no way that I can bet on Scott Tolzien, especially with how intoxicated I am likely to be by the time that game goes off.  I am tying the Steelers into everything.

So what to do?  How to tangle all these games up together?  Here's my extremely ill-advised plan.  I am on the money line in a three team parlay with Detroit/Dallas/Pittsburgh at +211.  I am also going to tie all three up in a teaser with Detroit +4.5/Dallas -.5/Pitt -3.5.  I am going to come out of the gate hard with Detroit money line .  After that, I am going to play fast and loose with the individual games hoping like high hell I don't have to chase when LSU v Texas A&M comes on.  I don't want to have a thousand dollars on my beloved LSU wondering why I'm not returning the punts.

Buckle up.  Let's get after it.  

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Nurse the Hate: The New Record

We have a brand new record that comes out today.  I have released 19 different full length releases between the Daredevils and Cowslingers.  That’s a whole lot of records with a bunch of really talented people.  I prefer to call them “records” as opposed to “releases” as that seems more tangible to me and is probably a concession of age.  When I first started playing music, my goal was to play out on stage once.  Then it became to play out of town.  Then it was to make a record, to make one thing of permanence.  When we made that first single (Bad Booze Rodeo/Hogtied), I liked to think that we had participated in the tradition of making odd little records that years later someone would discover at a garage sale and have it become this little piece of treasure.  Some of my favorite records ever are these odd little previously ignored songs that re-emerge from the dust.  I hoped we had made our own version of Ralph Nielson and the Chancellors “Scream”, though I will admit it is impossible to make something that great.  I hope years from now someone takes one of our songs and it makes it on a Nuggets type compilation.  That’s not too crazy a goal, is it?
Each time we make a record I hope that the effort pays off and it finds an audience.  It’s an incredibly laborious process to make a full length.  The songs are written.  Many get discarded.  The arrangements are worked on.  They are played live to be test driven.  Then the elusive life of the song is attempted to be captured in the sterile environment of the studio.  Many permutations of mixes are made and debated about.  The artwork has to be conceived and put together.  Then the near impossible task of making anyone notice that it exists begins.  It’s actually rather depressing when you realize that all this effort that is expended can be completely for nothing when The Public fails to even click a mouse to give something even a cursory listen.  I know that there is a large group of people that would love what we do that have no idea that we are here, but it’s almost impossible to get their attention in this world of all of us screaming at each other across various media platforms.  I have long since decided that we will make a little announcement about each release and then welcome anyone that is interested to join our little universe.
Sometimes I can have self doubt.  What if what I think is really good is in fact awful?  For example, I bet Starship really felt great when “We Built This City” went up the charts.  That’s a song that really encapsulates the worst tendencies of popular 1980s music.  Even if you can somehow get past the absolutely terrible production, which is a feat in itself, the bare bones of the song are so flimsy that it is hard to imagine that these are some of the same people involved in “Surrealistic Pillow”.  Yet, they forged on while making that record and were rewarded by the marketplace with heavy MTV airplay and high profile tour dates.
I will admit to you that I saw Starship in 1986 at Spring Break on the Daytona Beach bandshell.  I had no real desire to see Starship, but MTV had put together free concerts on the beach as a way to lure college students to shower them with “branding opportunities” from New Coke, Trojan, and Marlboro.  Everyone from the immediate area age 18-22 were there.  There were so many free cigarettes being passed around smoky brand tents that I almost threw my hat into the ring and joined into the brotherhood of the smoker.  I was a young man full of Miller Lite standing around in my Wayfarer sunglasses trying to look happening in my Jams bathing suit.  In retrospect, I was NOT happening.
I recall what might be the worst triple bill concert I ever witnessed.  Mister Mister gave way to Mike and The Mechanics.  Both bands were terrible, but the crowd did get energized when Mister Mister played their awful hit “Broken Wings”.  It was really lame.  That gave way to the headliner Starship.  Grace Slick had morphed by this time from sultry Sixties siren to a weird Mom in a pantsuit and rhinestone jewelry.  I think she had on a billowy jumpsuit with Tommy Bahama style sunhat.  I remember being stunned and thinking “Man, she was at Woodstock…”.  I eventually drifted out of the overflow crowd to buy a foot long hot dog and 16 oz can of Miller Lite somewhere near Penrod’s.  These were dark times.
My roommate had met some girl from East Lansing Community College during the concert and ditched me.  I remember watching MTV VJ Alan Hunter host a wet t-shirt contest at the Penrod’s pool.  Some girl from Arkansas really went for it and showed full bush.  Alan Hunter appeared a bit shell shocked.  Then a guy in an Iron Maiden shirt barfed on the tile floor to my right and I called it a night.  I came back to our hotel room which we had bought on some dodgy campus package promotion and found my roommate  reclining on the bed wincing.  Two guys we had never met before but now shared this hotel room with (and I’m not making this up, it’s how it was sold) were beer bonging Busch.  I asked my roommate what was wrong besides being in a room with two strangers beer bonging cans of Busch.  “That girl from Lansing gave me a blowjob but used so much teeth it was like I put my dick in a garbage disposal.”  Good times.
When I think of that trip I don’t think of any actual fun.  I do think of that horrible set from Starship and think “Fuck, what if the Whiskey Daredevils are Starship now and I don’t know it.”.  These are the things that keep you up at night in the world of budget indie rock.  Still, I am willing to take a chance and foist these records out there to The People.  As of this moment, I think it’s a really good record and something I would want to listen to if I wasn’t involved in making it.  I’m really thankful that we get the chance to keep making these records and that enough people out there want to hear them so we can keep making more.  Thanks a lot.  I hope you like this one too.