Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Nurse the Hate: Hate The Video Store

I'm a big Netflix guy, and I'll tell you why. I like watching obscure foreign films and documentaries. It's not like you can go buzz over to Blockbuster and get "Dig!" the insanely great Brian Jonestown Massacre film, or whatever that original version of "Brothers" was in Danish. The options over there are a huge wall of "The Blind Side" or "Saw VI". But even if they had every movie on the planet, I don't think I'd go to a video store ever again.

I used to go to a video store located by my first apartment out of college called "Movie Mart". It was a family owned business that used to stock some pretty interesting choices. The deal was that you could rent 3 video tapes for $10 or something like that. I shared an apartment with one of my old roomates, and I think he opened the account and we just shared the card. It was right down the street, so we usually avoided late fees. One of us would drop them off on the way to work. No fuss, no hassle.

I remember one Friday night after work I was feeling a little under the weather. I decided not to go out, and planned to just lay under a blanket on the couch and watch movies. My roomate wasn't around, as he was probably shacked up at his girlfriend's place. Maybe I would chug some Nyquil and feel it's warm friendly hand embrace me. All I had to do was get a few videos and get back there. I shuffled around the crowded video store looking for a few things to watch, and started to get irritated by the families around me. "Excuse me... Sorry..." It's at the video store where you could really understand what morons most people in this nation are. "Did you see Weird Science? OmyGod! It's sooooo funny!!!!" and "I hated Jaws. Like why wouldn't they just drop a bomb on the shark?". (I don't remember what the hell was out around 1991, so just go with me, OK?)

I am starting to run a fever, and I just want to get out of there. The line is barely moving as they have only one person on the register. Directly behind me, and I remember this like it was yesterday, was a woman in sweat pants with two ugly kids about 8 years old. They are whining about wanting candy, and the mother is whining about how they can't have any. It's torture standing next to them. I'm giving them the "shut the fuck up or I may kill you" glare, but they don't pick up on it at all. It's all about the debate about the Goddamn candy.

After an eternity, I finally get to the register. I produce my membership card, and the clerk punches in the numbers. "It's going to be $10 plus another $12 in late fees." Now, I know for a fact I returned my last movies on time. I rented a new release on Sunday, and dropped it off on the way to work Monday morning. I remember this because I set my alarm early to make sure I could make the video store and still arrive at the worst sales meeting ever at 8:30am. Times are tough. I'm in my early 20s and I don't have any fucking money. $12 in late fees is like $85 now.

"I don't think that's right. I dropped off that movie on Monday."

The people in line behind me groan, as they realize it's going to be an extensive background check of "The System", and they aren't going anywhere soon. "Sir, according to what I have, there was a video returned on Wednesday three days late."

Now I am positive I didn't drop off a video on Wednesday, and I'm getting indignant. I have stepped firmly up to the moral high ground. "Miss, I know for a fact I DID NOT drop off any videos on Wednesday. You Must Be Mistaken.", I sternly bark. By this time everyone in the place is craning their necks to see what the commotion is all about. I up the ante and decide to once and for all prove I am, without a doubt, correct and will not be paying any late fees. "What did I allegedly return late, Hmmm?"

The line behind me has now swelled, and everyone is lookimg at me with the "just pay your late fees Dude" look, while I attempt to give them the "Can you believe how incompetant this clerk is?" look. Meanwhile the woman madly taps at the screen looking for what exactly has been dropped off late.

"According to this, you returned "Teenage Anal Nurses" late, and you also owe for "Giant Cock Stuffers 4"."

Oh Fuck. I forgot that my roomate and I use the same card. For some reason, he failed to tell me that he discreetly dropped off his rental porn stash from his weekend of depraved sex with his girlfriend into the overnight bin a couple days late. Understandable. I probably wouldn't have looked at her the same way after knowing what had probably gone on while "Teenage Anal Nurses" hummed along on the VCR. However, this did put me in a bit of an awkward position at Movie Mart on a Friday Night.

"Oh... Ah... See, my roomate and I share an account, and... ah...." I said as I blindly started to rip cash out of my wallet. Take it. Take it all. Meanwhile the woman in the sweat pants' eyes narrowed in a disapproving and judgemental look. You could almost feel the glares of everyone in the line look at me. "Creep.", they thought. "I wonder what kind of filth he is renting now." I tried to get out of there as fast as I could. It probably took 3 minutes, but it felt like about seven hours.

After that I soured on Movie Mart, and opened my own account at another store down the street. Still, I would never question any late fees.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Nurse the Hate: Hate the Wet Bed

I think it's because I told that story about how Rumble Club's old drummer wet the couch of his bandmate. That must be the reason that I have become the sounding board for all urination stories. For example, just this week a friend of mine got in touch with me to pass along yet another story of how low a man can fall. She said it went like this: Her "friend" (which she swears it's actually her "friend" and not her) meets this man and they begin a relationship. She says he is "a little rough around the edges, interesting, big penis... things were going well".

(Quick sidebar... Whenever a female friend tells me that a man she is seeing has a big penis, I always feel that is some sort of emasculating comment on her part. I take the way she was telling the story like, "So this very interesting man has a much larger penis than I imagine you have, and is therefore more desirable in a way you could never be." Hey, what did I do? I don't need that kind of head trip. I'm just trying to get by over here. You think I need to worry about that? Let's look at the reverse. It's not like I would say to her, "So this friend of mine is going out with an interesting new girl with a very tight vagina.". Am I being too sensitive here? See, here's the problem... Guys don't stand around and hold their erect wangs out and compare size. We're blissfully unaware. But still, doubt creeps in... Generally the only men that the common guy ever can compare his penis to is a Porn Guy, and those guys are in that particular line of work because they are freakishly large. And what happened to that "it's not the size of the boat, it's the motion of the ocean" line that was out there? I took solace in that. Sheesh... OK, so back to the story...)

So the interesting rough edged guy with the big penis has been staying overnight at this woman's house. Then on Saturday night, he pees the bed while they were sleeping in it. "Good Lord! What did he do?", you are probably asking... (I know this because I asked the same thing.) Apparently the big penis man woke up after he wet the bed, and then woke up his lovely female companion. I don't know if he nudged her and said, "My darling... Wake my darling, for I have made the bed moist from droplets of my soul." or if he said "Hey... Get up... I pissed the bed...we gotta sleep on the couch...". This was unclear. However, what I do know is they went to alternate sleeping quarters and resumed their sleep (somehow). The next day, he went out and purchased her a low end discount mattress after discarding the mattress he ruined.

I still have the following questions....

1) Will this woman still continue to see this rough edged, interesting, big leaky penised man? To me, bedwetting is probably a deal breaker in any realtionship with a person over the age of 6 and under the age of 66. Perhaps this woman is more understanding than I am on this issue. I would have to say that Saturday night bedwetting would be a trait I am not looking for in a potential suitor. I would also weigh in and say bedwetting probably goes hand in hand with rampant alcoholism, what many would also say is an undesirable trait.

2) If you wet a woman's bed, don't you have to buy the absolute top of the line mattress? I would be so horrified, I would throw a lot of money at the problem. "Honey, here's a new King Sized Westin Heavenly bed. Now let's keep that little incident last night between us." I do not believe you simply replace the old mattress with a new one on a 1-1 quality ratio. I don't even think you go from the "standard" to "deluxe". You go top-of-the-line, mink fur with angel corpse wings shoved into chinchilla pelts. Or maybe you can get the Pope's old bed on Ebay. That's probably nice. It does not matter what it costs. You have to pay up.

3) How long does it take before this story rears its ugly head again in the relationship? Let's look at the facts. I found out about it, and I don't even live in the same state as where it happened. If the story has crossed state lines, are you telling me she is keeping this thing quiet on the home front? No way. I can see it now. Those two will be out to dinner with Jim and Cindy from work, and maybe somebody ordered that one extra pitcher of MGD draft too many. He makes a disparaging remark about her shoes, or maybe her new haircut (both awful and unrecoverable mistakes). She'll then turn to the other couple and say, "Oh, and that's coming from Mr Pee Pee Bed over there! Did he tell you why he had to buy me a new mattress last month?" His horrified look will register uncomfortably with Jim and Cindy. Then the whole awful episode will spill out like an undigested corpse from a shark's stomach. There will be no turning back. The die will be cast.

The lesson I think we can all take away? I think the key to success in any relationship is not to urinate in the common sleeping area.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Nurse the Hate: Hate the Stone Cold Lock Part 2

If I were you I'd get ready to hear a bunch of chumps talk about how their $5 bracket went up in flames with that Kansas loss last night. Those of us in the know were already lighting up cigars with twenty dollar bills thanks to our good friends at Villanova flaming out as scheduled. Thank you Wildcats, thank you. But there is no time to gloat over our good fortune. Now is the time when the savvy gambler steps up and looks for further opportunity.

A lot of folks are very excited about Cornell, and their shitty little Ivy League title. I am not one of these people. When I think of Cornell, I think of a legion of Wall Street criminals, self satisfied scholars, and Volvo driving worthless executives in waiting. I want them to lose in horrible fashion on national television and slink back to their frosty cave in Upstate NY. This will happen today when they are outclassed by Wisconsin. Take Wisconsin minus the 4.5 points. This is the strongest play of the day in my opinion.

I am backing West Virginia in the tournament as I have a soft spot in my heart for this dysfunctional state. West Virginia has Jesco White and Hasil Adkins. Missouri has Branson. Enough said. Missouri looks like the classic speed bump game for a real good WVU team. Missouri have lost 3 of their last 5 outright and 4 of their last 5 ATS. The other key? None of those teams were nearly the caliber of West Virginia. Take West Virginia -5.5.

I am taking Xavier in a pick 'em over Pittsburgh. I don't really have a reason to do so. Xavier is 0-5 against teams in the top 20. I just have a get feeling that Xavier will make the Sweet 16 once again. Pitt has that fog of doom surrounding them. Something about them doesn't seem right to me. It's like that 20 foot jumper at the buzzer already clanged off the rim, and guys in Panthers jerseys have already pulled the shirts over their heads in grief. As we know, I am able to foresee this sort of thing with 70% regularity, so jump on board with me. What could possibly go wrong?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Nurse the Hate: Hate the Stone Cold Lock

Saturday of opening weekend of the NCAA Tourney is when we separate the wheat from the chaff so to speak. The illusion that anyone can win the tournament is still alive, but most dreams will die today and tomorrow. If you listen real close you can hear some asshole walk up to the window at the Desert Inn and place money on Ohio University or Murray State. They figure that since the school they had never heard of 48 hours ago won with an exciting buzzer beater shot over a school they were familiar with, this will happen again today. This, in my opinion, is the key to betting the next two days.

The great sales job that the media has done on the NCAA Tournament is that it's wide open and anything can happen. This shaky premise is built on games like OU's unlikely win over Georgetown. However, if we can all be honest here, Georgetown had as much chance of winning the whole thing as most of the rest of the field, and that's none. At the beginning of every season you can make a logical guess at which 10 teams will be part of the Final Four or Elite Eight. Kansas? Check. Duke? Check. Kentucky? Check. Will one of those three teams lose? Maybe. But remember, just because you saw a bunch of guys from Northern Iowa go crazy on Thursday afternoon after a dramatic shot, doesn't mean they suddenly became athletic enough to beat Kansas two days later.

The Public loves the Cinderella story. Here's how their thought process will go: "Hmm... I remember when George Mason made that run a few years back. Who reminds me of them? I think I'll bet on Murray State, Northern Iowa, and Ohio University!". The next day one of those three teams will actually win. They will then strut around and tell anyone within earshot, "Yeah... I had Murray State. Their senior guard play and transition game really stood out to me." or some such nonsense. They will also forget to tell you they took two other losses. I am not betting on teams per se. I am betting against public perception. This is the key to victory. With that in mind, get ready to lose your ass on these:

Get on Butler -4.5. Every single sports publication has anointed Murray State as the Cinderella in March Madness 2010. I must have looked at 10-12 resources I check for info on, and they all have Murray State as the lead story. Murray State will want to speed the game up. Butler will want to slow it down. It's easier to slow it down. Butler has won 21 games in a row for a reason. These guys are strong on fundamentals. That will be a problem for Murray State. Love Butler.

I implore you to take St Mary's over Villanova. This is a game that has slipped right under the radar. For some reason, the popular opinion is that Villanova survived a scare and now has had their wake up call. I have no idea why anyone would think that. Villanova has lost 7 of their last 9 against the spread, and I think they might lose this game outright. I am going to take St Mary's on the money line and hedge with the +5.5.

I like Baylor on the money line over Old Dominion. Baylor is a legitimate basketball team that earned that #3 seed. Old Dominion beat a pretty mediocre Notre Dame in a close game, and is 14-17 against the spread. Old Dominion is exactly the kind of team people like to bet on. It sounds Old South like there are guys in white suits sitting around drinking lemonade on rocking chairs all around campus. "I say there Miss Kitty, can you see if the boys are winning that there basketball game?" On the other hand, when you think of Baylor, you think of them losing 44-6 to Texas in football on national TV.

Tennessee is going to beat Ohio today. This is as certain as nightfall, death, and nude photos of that heavily tattooed chick Jesse James was banging appearing in my email box. Ohio University beat Georgetown because they shot lights out from the outside, and John Thompson's kid may be the worst basketball coach in Division 1 basketball. I have seen Ohio play 3 times, and I have to tell you, they kinda suck. Sure, they are playing the best they have played all year right now, but they also went 7-9 in the MAC. It's not that hard to play better than that. Tennessee is no great shakes, but they will convincingly end OU's little run. I'm going money line as I have no great confidence in Tennessee either.

I went 6-3 yesterday and 5-1 on Thursday. That can only mean one thing. I have the ability to look into the future and can tell you with about 70% accuracy what is going to happen.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Nurse the Hate: Hate St Patrick's Day 2010

I used to love St Patrick's Day. I mean, what's not to love? You basically take the day off and drink beer while listening to the Pogue's "Dirty Old Town" about 700 times. With luck you don't get thrown up on by anyone with a green boa wrapped around them. When I worked at radio stations, we would always have some kind of flighty promotion geared around selling whatever beer brand we were shilling. Here's the game plan. I would stand around and drink a few of whatever the brand of the moment was at whatever bar we had decided to create the party at that particular day. I might hand out some blinky buttons. I'd avoid being punched in the head. Not a bad way to make a living, no?

My St Pat's Day this year? I ate a dodgy turkey sandwich at my desk while trying to figure out what to charge for a "Supernanny" spot next August. After I weathered the gastrointestinal crisis of the sandwich, I then had to drive through the tattered remains of the Cleveland St Patrick's Day Parade to drop off tickets at the Quicken Loans Arena. Mook guys in green t shirts yelled, "CLEVELAND!" for no discernible reason while their buddies blew into long green plastic air horns with a mighty "whaaaaaaaahhhh". A girl with green hair puked in the gutter while three guys yelled "Fuck Yeahhhh!!!!". These were not my people.

I weaved my way through drunken drivers struggling out of parade traffic and got back to 30th and Euclid, aka The Hood. Where I work is such a great neighborhood that we have a security guard watch us walk the one block from the barbed wire rimmed parking lot to get to the other security guard that greets us at the security locked double door. If you want to buy crack? Great place to work! If you want to get something to eat within walking distance? Not so good.

I stepped across the curb to walk towards the front door. Standing in my way, like an insurmountable obstacle, was a long soot encrusted used condom. It hit me like a ton of bricks. While everyone else I knew was drinking plastic cups of beer and trying to avoid being punched in the head, I was stepping over a used condom in the midst of horrifying urban blight. That crinkled up condom, like a dead snake, would now represent St Patrick's Day 2010.

Erin Go Bragh Motherfuckers.

Random Notes: There will be cobwebs for many amateurs tomorrow morning. The real men step up tomorrow for a four day orgy of drinking and gambling known as the NCAA Basketball Tournament Opening Weekend. Krusty has broken down the games tomorrow and likes Old Dominion +2.5, BYU -5, St Mary's +2.5, and Vandy -3. Frankly, Krusty doesn't know what the hell he is talking about. He will openly admit this if you really press him. However, when those pussies at work sweat it out on their $5 entry fee brackets, it's nice to have some real scratch down on the games. That's why I am also tossing in on Old Dominion +2.5 and Vandy -3. A key for you to know is that I may know even less than Krusty. Still, I will say things like "Old Dominion's senior guard play makes them a tough out in this tournament." I will say this with such conviction, people will nod knowingly in my general direction. This should be enough for you to take our picks as gospel. Win up!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Nurse the Hate: Hate the Pinata

When the explosion happened I knew we had gone a bit overboard. My idea was to fill a pinata with cigarettes, and then blow it up with a firework to send the shredded smokes out into the crowd. I think I had it loosely tied into "Smoke That Cigarette!", an old country song we had worked up. Really, I just wanted to blow up a pinata filled with cigarettes and needed an excuse. Granted, placing a firework of this size inside a pinata and then detonating it inside a sold out club might not have been the safest plan, but that Great White Flaming Wheel of Fireworks tragedy hadn't happened yet, so I didn't really worry about it.

The 506 in Chapel Hill North Carolina is a big cinder block building that would host a Garage Rock festival every year called Sleazefest. Put on by Southern Culture on the Skids, it was a collection of bands that had probably opened for them as they toured the country behind their major label releases in the late 90s. It was almost every "big" band of our world. Pretty much everyone we listened to in the van would play over the three days. This was a show you wanted to play well, and because of this I thought I would bring out the extra "cheap circus trick" of the fireworks.

I had first become aware of the M-200 when a friend of mine that used to drive back and forth from Costa Rica for his "import/export business" had brought some back from Mexico. Allegedly a quarter stick of dynamite, these are the firework of the True Professional. After he demonstrated the potential of these to me by completely blowing up a watermelon, I knew I had to have some. I think he gave me 8 of them after I traded him a Cowslingers t shirt and a couple of promo CDs. I think I gave him an old broken down bike too. It was a good trade.

The first time I really understood the true power of the M-200 was when we played Ohio University. My brother was going to school there, and we would crash out at whatever flophouse he had rented for that school year. We went back to his place for the After Hours Party which, as expected, turned out to be the band, 5 other guys, and some guy's girlfriend drinking cans of warm beer. It wasn't long until I was bored and wanted to entertain myself. Remembering the M-200s in the van (safe, right?), I looked for something in Ken's house to blow up. When I opened up the kitchen cabinet, it was almost like a spotlight was shining on it. A giant plastic tub of off brand peanut butter was practically begging for me to blow it up. It was perfect. About twice the size of a kid's beach pail, it was almost completely untouched and full to the brim.

A few of us took the tub of peanut butter outside to where the house butted up against an old cemetery. I knew that the explosion would be big, and I wasn't crazy. I wanted to make sure Ken's house was unscathed. I cut a hole in the side of the tub, and inserted the M-200 as far as it would go, lit the wick, and ran like Hell. An enormous "WHAM!" completely lit up the night in a strange momentary white flash, and the tub was gone. Vanished. Poof! We laughed it up, and went inside.

Morning came way too quickly. I blinked away the early morning sun, and heard what seemed like a thousand birds chirping and cackling. What the fuck? What's with the birds? I looked outside and saw literally hundreds of black birds all over the trees in the front lawn and neighboring lawns. Then it hit me... The peanut butter wasn't "gone". It had been blown all over the trees in a huge circumference, and these birds were enjoying the best Sunday brunch of their lives. It wasn't long before everyone in the house was up, staggering outside the look at the spectacle. It had been a long time since any of the people in that house had seen 7am. I think it was then that Ken's roommate Mike figured out that it was his peanut butter all over the surrounding quarter mile. "Hey!!! That was going to last me all Quarter!" Despite it being very early, we decided it was a good time to make our exit. See you later. Catch you next time.

As you can see, I probably should have known better than to use that particular firework in a packed club. However, I had enjoyed a couple Mad Dog snow cones that were being sold by SCOTS keyboard player Cousin Crispy in the back, so anything seemed like a good idea. When the time in our set came for me to light up the pinata, I instructed the guys in the band to lay on the floor in the fetal position, and cover their heads. I was pretty close it it when it blew, and the force of it was impressive. How impressive? The cigarettes were reduced to tiny particles and were floating everywhere. On the roof of the club, Dave the owner and members of the Woggles (I think) were grilling food on a makeshift hibachi, and the force of the explosion knocked the grill off the ground. Dave said he though it was a gas leak and everyone was dead. To give you an idea of the spirit of Sleazefest, not only wasn't I administered a richly deserved beating, but received plenty of kudos from patrons and owner alike.

I was cleaning out an area of the garage and found one single M-200 yesterday. We've got a lot of shows in May. I wonder if I can find a pinata...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Nurse the Hate: Hate the Lorna Doone

My father died like most people do in this country, alone in the middle of the night in a hospital room. In reality he had died much earlier, though his body held on for days. He had been brought in after collapsing after a workout in a remote park. By the time he received care, his system had shut down and he was effectively brain dead while he lay in intensive care. A really bad break for a guy that had enjoyed excellent health and was a competitive runner.

After several days in intensive care, the doctors set a meeting with my step mother, brother, and myself to discuss our course of action. They kind of beat around the bush about it, but I knew what was coming. If they didn't have any registered brain activity, they would want to know if we wanted to set into motion a series of life support systems, or essentially "pull the plug". It wasn't as difficult a decision as you would think. I, like the others, knew that my father would not have been interested in remaining in some sort of vegetative state. All that really remained was the formality of the meeting itself.

It's interesting to watch how hospital policy kicks in. Having worked at various corporations, I know that everything is handled in some sort of meeting. Policy is made. Legal weighs in. Revisions are made. Memos are sent. Training is held. While a monumental moment for us in that room, this was just another day at work for these folks.

Here's how this deal went down... The doctors walked in, explained how they were not optimistic for a miraculous recovery, and then asked if we wanted to go with Plan A (machines, pumps, and tubes) or Plan B ("hospice", which is a nice way of saying "placing on a bed until he dies"). We then went around the horn, and unanimously agreed on Plan B. The head doctor nodded his head solemnly, and then pulled back the curtain slightly and motioned to a nurse's aide waiting outside. Imagine if a polished businessman motioned a waiter at a high end restaurant with a simple flick of a finger and raise of an eyebrow.

The curtain was moved to the side and a small grey plastic cart, like a high school would use for a projector, was wheeled in. On it was a small selection of snacks, a white thermos of coffee, and small bowl of ice topped with tiny apple juice cartons. The first thing that really caught my eye was the stack of individually wrapped "snack size" Lorna Doone cookies. How odd... I had just officially condemned my father to death, and a tray of snacks gets wheeled in. "Your father is dying. It's official. So let's enjoy a snack!" Now, you know there was a committee meeting to discuss not only if they should have a snack cart, but what the snack cart should contain. There had to be 15 people sitting around a conference table, all weighing in on this issue.

"Look Helen, I like cookies and juice as much as the next guy, but this isn't coming out of my God damn operations budget. Can't you bury it in those clown visits you've got in the fucking children's wing? I don't give a fuck if clown prices are up! How does this fall into my department anyway?"

And why the Lorna Doone? That's not exactly the top of mind cookie, is it? I don't remember every detail of that afternoon. But this I remember with real clarity. As the gravity of the situation should have been overwhelming, I instead thought about the guy that must have sold in Lorna Doone as the cookie for that cart.

There had to be a snack sales guy sitting around that same conference table. Stone faced hospital administrators glared at him as he made his presentation. Maybe he brought in some samples, and people absentmindedly munched on them as he made his pitch. "Hey, I like a Fig Newton as much as the next guy. What's not to like? It's a good cookie. A damn good cookie! But I ask you ladies and gentlemen... When you find out the Grim Reaper has come for your loved one, what do you want? Comfort... You want comfort... And that's what the Lorna Doone is my friends! Each buttery bite is like a kiss from mother... A farewell kiss if you will. Plus, if you look at the proposal I have laid out, I am willing to give you the institutional gross discount price on two cookie single wrap packs. This is unprecedented for our company. We just want to show you how serious we are at making sure that Lorna Doone is there for The People in their hour of need. And of course, I will throw in a pair of Buckeyes tickets on the 40 to the home opener if we can get this done today. Now, if you'll sign off here and here..."

Whenever I hear about someone losing their mother or father, this is what I think of. That day and that little snack cart. That was a pretty long time ago, but still every time I see a Lorna Doone I think of one thing. I think of death.