Friday, November 26, 2010

Nurse the Hate: Hate Black Friday

Who the hell are these Hillbillies and Rubes that set their alarms for 3:30 am to go drive to a Target to save $50 on a TV on Black Friday? Can you imagine sleeping out in front of a Wal Mart to get a jump on buying crap Xmas gifts for your ungrateful family? No one really cares about what they got for a Holiday gift 20 minutes after they open the wrapping paper. Can you even remember what Santa brought you last year? You would think that Kohl's is literally giving shit away the way the media breathlessly reports on the shopping orgy. It's a credit card driven frenzy out there. Here's the way I see it...

1) It is a slow news day. Those shitty morning local newscasts and the Today Show need something to talk about. After Channel 7 has reported on the free Thanksgiving dinner served at the City Mission and shown footage of the giant Underdog balloon floating down the street at the Macy's Parade, they have basically handled everything that happened on Thanksgiving Day. That leaves them with about 50 minutes to fill with "content". That sort of fills in the gap on why the third string local reporter is talking to borderline retarded people standing outside of a strip plaza, doesn't it? The hype breeds even more hype. The reported stories become even more fantastic. "Gil, we're down here at the Crapatopia Shopping Plaza with a family that has been camping out here in the freezing rain for 19 days to insure they will be first inside at Sears. They have resorted to crapping in buckets, and are filtering their own urine for drinking water. They also told us that Jenny, their 5 year old daughter, died four days ago from exposure to these harsh elements. But with the incredible bargains awaiting them inside, they assure us that it has all been worth the sacrifice. Back to you Gil..."

2) People want to believe. Anyone with even a whiff of common sense knows that Best Buy cannot keep their doors open by selling big screen TVs below their cost. Yet, the same sort of people that know deep in their hearts that today is the day they will win the lottery also have failed to think this concept through. They should stop and think while Grandma is packing up like a Sherpa to stand outside in subzero temperatures. Yes, she will get that Korean made off brand coffee maker at a decent price, but perhaps all is not as it first appears. "Honey, you know maybe those fellas at Best Buy are just putting one little TV on sale to trick us into the store so we'll spend all our money on crap they really want to sell us. This whole durn thing might just be a ruse so we buy whatever they have stacked up on an end aisle display! Sometimes I think we might be being played as the Damn Fool!"

3) Let's just say that maybe you have identified a "bargain". Let's say you will save a good percentage off the retail price. How much money would you have to save to wake up in the dead of night, find a parking place, fight off unsavory characters, and stand in lines just so you can buy a digital camera? I will gladly pay an extra $100 on an item like that to not have to endure that particular Hell. Black Friday is like going to an overcrowded State Fair that is held in the dead of night at a Godforsaken Strip Plaza of the Damned where the goal is not to ride "The Tumbler" but buy a microwave oven. It is like putting a Radio Shack inside the Browns Stadium Men's Room on Gameday. It's like doing your holiday shopping in the DMV.

No thanks.

Today's Can't Miss Guaranteed Locks of the Day: I think I have hit eight of my last nine games, so there isn't a chance in Hell I win today. However, I really feel like the Green Bay Packers will win in Atlanta today. I am having a hard time getting my arms around the fact that Atlanta is a top team in the NFC. Doesn't it seem like they play St Louis, Detroit, or San Francisco every week at home? Have they even played a road game yet? The Packers, despite having more injuries than the "Iraqi Elite Republican Guard" during Operation Desert Storm, still are winning games impressively. I'll take Green Bay on the money line... This time of year is a great time to bet against veteran teams that have completely given up. A team that fits that description to a "T" are our good friends the Minnesota Vikings. Brett Favre wants to take his Wrangler jeans and go home. Childress, about as well liked as Stalin, got cut loose this week. You can't walk across the Viking locker room without tripping on a Mexican vacation travel brochure. Now they have to go on the road and play the Redskins and that red ass Shanahan. I think the Redskins are a .500 team at best. You get to be .500 by winning games at home against teams you are supposed to beat. The Vikings are just such a team. Shanahan will have the whip on the Redskins all week preparing for this otherwise meaningless game like it is the NFC Championship game. Take Washington +1.5.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Nurse the Hate: Hate the NFL Week 10

There is a certain nip to the air today. The smell of wood smoke drifts across my well manicured back lawn, leaves freshly raked. We are now well into Fall, and that means it's time to bet heavily against NFL teams that The Public believes in. I think we can all agree that no one has any idea of who is actually a legit team this season, much less who is actually going to win a game week to week. Ever since the appearance of the Virgin Mary at that Pittsburgh Courtyard By Marriott a couple weeks back, I can do no wrong. I am now 7-2 in my last 9. That can mean only one thing. I am going to lose my ass today. I would recommend "counter-selecting" against these wagers, as I can't possibly continue the run I have been on. Go make yourself some money and go the other way... Regardless, this is how I see it this week.

I am taking Jacksonville -2 and Houston +6.5. The Browns and Jets played an extra quarter of football last week, and that's going to catch up to them this week. Jacksonville has quietly become respectable, with David Garrard playing unlike David Garrad at QB. The Browns are going in without Josh Cribbs, who dislocated 4 toes on his right foot last week. I bet that must have felt pretty good. I had a toenail removed once under a local anesthetic and limped around for a week. I cannot imagine what having 4 toes dislocated feels like. The word "bad" comes to mind. The bottom line for the Browns? That injury means there is no one going out for a pass that can get open, unless a Jacksonville DB blows out an achilles or suffers a debilitating stroke during a snap. Last year's Cleveland #2 draft choice Brian Robiske may have never gotten open as a professional football player. I don't think he will today either. I hope that guy went to class at Ohio State, because his days of collecting a paycheck as a football player can't be long. Look for him as an attendee at a sales training seminar near you in the Fall of 2011.

Meanwhile our good friends at the Jets were very focused on the game last week. It was Brother vs Brother in the coaching ranks, Mangini cast as the nemesis as the old Jets coach, and ex-Brown Braylon Edwards told everyone to "bring their damn popcorn" to watch him make three unremarkable catches for about 50 yards. Then you throw in an extra 15 minutes of beating the crap out of each other in OT. That's a whole lot to just put behind you and get back to work on Monday. In a regular season, you're going to have a letdown somewhere, and this looks like it. Houston has a ton of talent, and a coach that seems to get less of it that anyone not named Wade Phillips. Every year since 2005 they have been proclaimed a "sleeper", and go 8-8. Maybe it would help to clear out some of the dipshits in the front office, but who am I to say? Still, they have enough actual professional football players to stay within that 6.5 point spread. I think this is a 3 point game. Take Houston with the points.

Last week the Kansas City Chiefs got the shit stomped out of them in Denver. This had to be disappointing as the Broncos totally suck. Oh, the Chiefs were also coming off a hard fought OT loss to the Raiders the week before and then had to go out on the road. (See a pattern here Browns fans?) The Chief coaching staff was totally pissed off as the Broncos poured the points on like they were trying to qualify for a BCS Bowl game. So they took their pissed off attitudes into this week where they face a bunch of their old cronies in the Cardinals organization. The Cardinals are a not-so-good team. Let's not mince words. They kinda blow. Hopping onto a plane to play in Kansas City against a bunch of guys that got embarrassed last Sunday and screamed at all week might not be the best situation for a kinda sucky football team. I'll take KC -7.5. I think they win BIG.

That damn Peyton Manning. Manning keeps that Colt team afloat even though almost all his offensive weapons are currently in a prone position in Indiana hospitals in back braces and iron lungs. Meanwhile New England is winning with castoffs and retreads. That Tom Brady haircut can't be helping either. Still, they keep winning somehow. This game should be close, so I'll take the points. This is the only game that matters today, and you have to get some action down, no? I'm on Indy +4.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Nurse the Hate: My Five Favorite 70s Kid Tv Shows

1) Jonny Quest: What's not to like about a bunch of dudes flying around in high tech transportation and having big adventures in exotic locales? Yes, they may have used that little Indian kid Hadji like a point man too often, as in "There might be poisonous snakes in there. Hadji, go in there and check it out. Race and I will stay back here and monitor you on the closed circuit TV.". You always got the feeling if Hadji had been bitten in half by a giant lizard, not too many tears would have been shed. Still, they seemed like pretty good guys all and all. I'd knock back a few beers with Race Bannon any day, although that Dr. Quest was a bit of a blowhard.

2) Scooby Doo: Why a bunch of kids in their late teenage years were driving around with a dog in a van with no clear destination is never made clear. I had always assumed that they were going to Grateful Dead shows, and solved mysteries in between tour dates. Shaggy is definitely high in most of the episodes. I also believe Fred was having a consensual sexual relationship with Daphne. Oh, and why were they always surprised to find out it wasn't really a ghost, but just a guy in a sheet? You would have figured that after "solving" the first dozen of these capers, you wouldn't be afraid of the supernatural anymore. Yet every week they would freak out if they saw a mummy. If they weren't smoking so much weed, they would have seen the pattern. Trivia question: What is Shaggy's all time favorite Dead venue. A: Shoreline.

3) The Chan Clan: What would now be considered clearly a racist program, in 1972 was considered Quality Children's Programming. Like Scooby Doo, Charlie Chan and his ten kids drove around in a van and solved mysteries. The older kids also had a band that would somehow set up and rock out by the time the show was over. My favorite part was when the kid who played guitar would say his big line, "Wham Bam, we're in a jam!". Surprisingly, this line did not become a cultural phenomenon. And no, I am not making this up. That sexy little Suzy Chan is probably a reason why otherwise normal men in their forties find themselves strangely hoarding Asian porn, and asking their wives to call them "GI" in bed.

4) Ark II: A live action show that featured a rugged dude, a sexy girl, a young boy, and a chimp. These people were allegedly the last scientists in a post apocalyptic nightmare Planet Earth. They would drive their giant RV (the Ark II) around in the dust, and get in scary situations. Obviously a perfect show for young minds. And what was with the chimp? Even as a kid I would think, "Why would you bring a fucking chimp with you? That chimp is a pain in the ass." There must have been a board meeting at the Network where some big wig said, "Look, we'll green light this show, but only if you put a chimp in it. Kids love chimps. Hell, I love chimps!" The writers nervously shifted in their chairs, looked at each other and said "Ah..That's a great idea Bob. A chimp. Why didn't we think of that?". Really, what kind of artistic integrity are you actually sacrificing anyway? You are a writer on Ark II for God's sake! Write the chimp in...

5) Josie and the Pussycats: A big step down from Scooby Doo, Josie and the band would solve crimes and play gigs. I guess in the early 1970s solving mysteries was a good way for musicians to make a little extra cash. I may investigate this for the Whiskey Daredevils. I feel rather confident that Leo, our drummer, may become as beloved as Shaggy. Josie and the Pussycats are almost like a White Stripes thing way before their time as Josie plays guitar, Melody plays drums, and the black girl was relegated to tambourine due to Josie's obvious racist upbringing. I was always annoyed at the songs, but the show was a good way to kill a half hour waiting for Jonny Quest to come on.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Nurse the Hate: Hate the Vacation

I was wildly out of control. My parents had left for vacation and abandoned my brother and I in our suburban Columbus home. I was 19 years old and had been left with something like $400 for food for the week, which was clearly some sort of attempt on my parents part to buy their way out of the guilt of abandoning their children. It wasn't like I needed the money. I was a Union Man. That's right, I was a member of the working class and a card carrying member of the UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers). If you needed someone to pack your groceries or "clean up on aisle six", I was your guy. I worked at the Dublin OH Kroger Grocery Store with a collection of other college students, fuck ups, and degenerates. And now I had $400 in my pocket with no adult supervision.

I immediately bought $20 in frozen pizza and $380 in imported beer and liquor. The frozen pizza would keep us alive like we were Chilean miners. The booze would get my social life in high gear. Tequila was my weakness at the time, and I could drink more of it than anyone you have ever met. This is not boasting, this is a pure and simple fact. Keith Richards and Jimmy Buffet would have ended up in the hospital if they went out with me during this admittedly "dark" period. Migrant farm workers spoke of me in hushed revered tones.

Earlier that Spring I had broken up with my first truly serious girlfriend at the end of our sophomore year. Well, actually, she dumped me. This was actually a splendid turn of events as I spent that Summer running around without any sense of responsibility or consequence. If you ran into me that Summer I would like to apologize for my behavior. I'm sure I did something terrible if I came anywhere near your orbit. I was a terror. Why anyone was interested in spending time with me, I couldn't tell you. But yet, I had quite a crew of folks at the Kroger under my spell. I was the "fun" guy. I was also much, much older. Most of my party pals were 17 or 18, while I was the ripe old age of 19. My worldly experience must have been mesmerizing. I was a guy that could score a twelve pack, find an acid dealer, or score Smiths tickets. I was cool like Damone in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Except I didn't get Jennifer Jason Leigh pregnant.

So my parents were in Mexico. I completely left my brother to the wolves. I don't really know if he ate that week. I don't even know if he slept at the house, or fended for himself in a back alley downtown. I could have cared less. I was holding court at my parent's house with a revolving cast of grocery store fuck-ups swinging by drinking free booze, blasting the stereo at my frowning neighbors. The real culmination of the week was my "Thursday Fiesta" where I made margaritas and burritos the afternoon before my shift at the grocery store. There was about 12 people living it up including a feisty young gal from the deli that had her eye on me. I noticed she was really drunk by the time I had to go to the store, so I told her to crash out here, and I would meet her when I got back. As I went out to the car, I pulled my shell shocked brother aside and said, "Make sure she doesn't leave. I'll be back in six hours."

It was a good plan. It was a simple plan. What could go wrong?

I can admit now that I was very drunk when I walked into that Kroger. I didn't really matter. Thanks to my place in the Union, I could have shot someone in the parking lot and not been fired. A 19 year old walking in drunk at Kroger wasn't even noteworthy. Hell, I was even more charming than usual bagging groceries. Well, until the booze wore off and I was kinda hungover. But I was a pro, and knew how to tough it out. I was just killing time until I got home and enjoyed the feminine wiles of the charming gal from the deli. It was all coming together exactly as I had foreseen.

When I mercifully was allowed to clock out, I drove home expecting a quiet reception. I figured The Deli Gal would be curled up on the couch, maybe watching Billy Idol videos on MTV with my brother lurking nearby. I would elegantly open a couple green bottled imported beers and have a cocktail with my gal. Then we would retire to the bed chambers and I would do unspeakable things. Sexual techniques that might not even have a name yet. Events that would require years of deep psychotherapy to sort out properly. (Look, I was 19. These were my goals. I was sick then. Now I am saved. More or less.)

You can imagine my surprise when she was gone and my brother said, "She left about 2 hours ago.". This was a crushing disappointment. Although it was not nearly as disappointing as 20 minutes later when the doorbell rang and the Worthington Police were standing there on my front steps with her dressed only in a bra and panties. This was bad.

What my brother had failed to tell me was he sat at the kitchen table with her that afternoon as she knocked back a sixer of Carlsberg Elephant Beers, at the time the highest alcohol content beers on the planet available to a 19 year old in Columbus, Ohio. She decided to take off her clothes and take a walk. OK. That may have been worth mentioning. Now there was a lot of explaining to do. A whole lot of explaining to do. Why was this girl walking around the neighborhood drunk and half naked? "Umm... I don't know sir, I was at work. However, I'm sure we can get her to bed." Amazingly the police left her to my care. Looking back, what kind of cop would leave a 18 year old wasted girl in bra and panties with a 19 year old punk and his 14 year old geek brother? We should have been executed. At least pistol whipped.

So when a co-worker told me today he was leaving his teenage kids at home while he and his wife went to Jamaica, I said, "I'm sure it will be fine. How old is your son? 17? I'm sure he is mature." Meanwhile, I am wondering how I can swing by next week for "Margarita Thursday".

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Nurse the Hate: Hate the NFL again

I immediately regretted deciding to go to today's Browns home game vs the Jets when I woke up. I hate the stadium, the people that go to the games, and the overall hassle of the thing. On top of that, the weather is gray/murky with the probability of a Biblical quality rain storm at about 85%. The only thing that gives me some peace of mind is that I know that my brother and I will be sitting in great seats heavily leveraged against the home team, quietly reveling in each disaster that strikes the Browns. Nationally, sports honks have been singing the praises of the 3-5 Browns. "This is a team on the rise!", they breathlessly exclaim. Maybe, but let me say this. The Browns run the ball inside the tackles. The Jets stop all teams from running the ball. That means weak armed Colt McCoy will have to make some plays against an outstanding Jet secondary. No sir, I do not believe this will happen. Take the Jets -3.

Bret Favre receives more press coverage than Obama. Frankly, he is more interesting, but that is beside the point. (Who wouldn't like a President that texted pictures of his junk to say, the Israeli Defense Secretary, and walked around on a broken ankle? People like that shit.) The sheer amount of hyperbole devoted the the Vikings "miraculous" comeback against an awful Arizona Cardinal team last week tells you everything you need to know. Every dope in Vegas has been told all week long that Bret has turned this thing around in Minnesota, and the Bears kinda suck. I don't know about that. I like the Bears at home against a Minnesota team that always looks dicey out of a dome. Take Chicago +1 as the Viking Death Spiral continues.

For a man that likes to gamble, I can be risk averse at times. I wear a seatbelt. I don't own a motorcycle. I don't drink and shoot skeet. Well, not anymore at least. However, I am going to recommend to you something that seems absolutely outlandish. Take Carolina +7.5. Yes, I am aware that Carolina is not starting anyone at QB this week. I believe they will be hiking the ball into an empty backfield and "hoping for the best". It is true that they are the worst team in Football. They have NO CHANCE this week on the road. That is why you must take them with the points. No one is on Carolina. That means they are a winner. You think they build giant lakes in the Nevada desert by making these lines wrong? While you are at it, take a flier on St Louis +5.5. Why not? After that Carolina wager, that seems sane in comparison.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Nurse the Hate: Hate The Grocery Store

I made the mistake of stopping at a grocery store in an area I shouldn't. It's not that it was in a "bad" neighborhood, and by "bad" I mean bars on windows/businesses named "Mr." as in "Mr. Corned Beef" or "Mr. Rib"/single loose cigarettes at cash registers/dudes in hoodies lurking/openly burning automobiles/discharging firearms/screaming victims. The grocery store I went to is somehow located in an even more off putting area, the white hillbilly community.

The important thing to note on my use of the word "hillbilly", I do not mean the cast of Hee Haw, lovable eccentric banjo players, Cleetus from the Dukes of Hazzard, NASCAR fans or any of the VJs on CMT. I'm focused on Insane Clown Posse car stickers, dishonorable military discharges, wispy mustaches, Cleveland Browns jackets, and untied basketball shoes. These are the flotsam of Northeast Ohio that can make even the easiest retail transaction a complete nightmare. Thus, I rarely walk inside stores in certain zip codes as I know I will encounter the following people:

A) The woman beating her kids in aisle 4... This woman initially inspires sympathy as she is usually hopelessly outgunned with five kids between the ages of 3-7 that are all presumably hers. The youngest will want something like a box of Count Chocula. Mom will say "no" in a harsh tone. The kid will start crying. The mother's tactic for countering the crying is inevitably to start beating the child. That's a tough break for the kid, as he is usually held captive in the shopping cart, so he starts to wail even louder. That's when Mom usually takes it up another notch by screaming profanity at the child while continuing to rain blows down on him. The heavy lidded brothers and sisters will watch on with disinterest, as this type of public flogging is not unusual in their world. It is in mine, so I usually walk by pretending that it isn't happening. That usually makes me feel guilty, until I think about how that kid did seem like a little shit anyway.

B) Oxygen Tank Guy... I know that guy smoked Lucky's for 40 years. Yes, he went into his annual check up and the doctor told him to stop smoking. Of course he ignored the advice, until he went in on that one visit to the doctor when he was pulled into the office by the reception desk. There he sat down and made a little joke like, "Hey Doc, you got me worried pulling me in here like this! I'm not pregnant, am I?". Then the doctor looked down at his hands on the desk and said something like, "It is never easy having to give news like this...". So when I see this guy dragging an oxygen tank behind him as he wrangles up the five for $2 Banquet brand chicken pot pies, it really bums me out. I always project and imagine him in his apartment with the shades drawn. The Price Is Right is absentmindedly flickering on the TV. The toaster oven bell goes off, and the pot pie is ready. He struggles out of his worn recliner, pulling the tank on the little wheeled cart. Do I really need to think about that when I just want to buy an apple?

C) Sweat Pant Family... The whole family likes to make the grocery store run, and they have taken the idea of comfort too damn far. Like college girls that wear pajama pants everywhere, this family thinks the world is their living room. This group of sloppy dirty fucks will shuffle around the store in clothes a Haitian Boat Person would have refused after being washed ashore after a month. "Um, you got anything else at that Salvation Army? That stuff is stained and doesn't match." At least one of the family will be wearing rubber sandals with a plastic flower on the toe. None of them will have their hair cut in anything even remotely approaching a style or plan. Everything in their cart will be processed or frozen. The youngest girl will have her crack showing on her ample ass. The sweat pants will have something printed on the butt that says something like "Juicy" or "Sweaty". They will spend most of their time in the chip aisle, but if they move anywhere near the registers, look out. They will not have enough money to cover the mountain of food in their cart, and then have to argue what items to take out of the bags. Grim.

D) Senior Citizen Paying By ATM card... I will confidently stride up to the "Express" register with my apple, but yet my line will take just as long as the Sweat Pant Family. Why? Because the old woman in front of me that is buying two (2) cans of tuna, one (1) cupcake, one (1) can of house label peas, and six (6) eggs will approach this transaction like she is taking out a mortgage. Every time I get behind a woman like this, it is like the first time she has ever encountered the ATM swipe. Presumably the meager food items she has purchased will keep her alive for 48 hours, so I think we can agree she comes to the store often. Why is it she looks at the ATM swipe like it is a magic box that has just been placed there moments ago by elves? Why does she look so unsure as she swipes her card? She always has an air of distrust, like she didn't really pay, or worse... "They" will take her money. This woman never knows the procedure. She doesn't know she has to sign her name. She's never prepared with her card as the stoned zit faced clerk processes the order. It's always like it is the first time she has ever purchased anything in The Confusing Land of the Future. It's like she traveled here by time machine from 1968. "What? Lyndon B. Johnson isn't President? Where are my Green Stamps?" Abandon all hope if Ye get in line behind this woman when she is writing a check. It's easier to just pay her bill, as I have done on several occasions. What's eight bucks if you can save 20 minutes and a possible stroke due to tension?

I know what is going to happen when I walk in there, yet every time I want to completely melt down by the time I leave. The entire experience drives me insane. The answer is, of course, to either fast or buy something gross at a fast food place. Yet, I feel more noble dying of my inevitable heart attack with an apple in my hand than with a Baconator in my maw. I remain an Elitist until the bitter end. God, I hope no one tries to give me mouth to mouth when I collapse...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Nurse the Hate: Hate The NFL Week 9

A new NFL gambling strategy has revealed itself to me in a vision so pure, I wonder if the Virgin Mary herself has something to do with it. While not appearing before shaking peasants in Bolivia, certainly she had time to shoot over here to the Pittsburgh Courtyard By Marriot to allow me to gain a full understanding of the complexities of predicting today's NFL action. Yes, I grant you it probably takes time to leave a likeness of yourself on a piece of wood, or have tears flow down a statue of yourself in rural Indiana, but I maintain that the Virgin Mary has more than enough time and moxy to swing over here with The Vision. It has become crystal clear that this NFL season is all about 28 roughly equal teams playing each other every week, while 4 truly shitty ones remain cannon fodder for the other 28. The key is thus taking the points in any game that looks like it can even remotely go either way.

Here it is Sunday morning. You are already dreading going to work, where a variety of dipshits will have you labor at tasks that are pointless and futile. How can you get out of your plight? Working hard for 40 years and hope that your little 401K nest egg hits a good run in the stock market? Listen Cheese, you have a better chance at getting rich playing online blackjack, or hitting Keno at a dog track. It's time to take control of your destiny with one smart play. One move so bold that it will literally define your life. A line in the sand so definite that all of your so called friends will shake their heads in wonder that you had the sheer cajones to pull something like this off. Yes, you will finally have financial freedom, and with it the ability to walk out of that hellhole you work in with a tirade of profanity and obscene gestures that will leave you a legend with the sheep you have left behind. And it's so simple...

Take all of your 401K money, the deed to your house, your car, and max out your credit cards. Take this money and place it on the Miami Dolphins +5, Tampa Bay +9 and the Arizona Cardinals +9. Yes, I realize this sounds like madness. Tampa Bay last won in Atlanta when Lee Roy Selmon played nose tackle and Tone Loc ruled the charts. The Arizona Cardinals are starting Derek Anderson at QB, a passer so awful that he can't toss the car keys to a valet without incident. Miami games are so boring that only by speculating if Ricky Williams is dealing weed to his teammates can you watch an actual game. I know this. But it doesn't matter. Every NFL team is awful at any given moment. And we don't need a win here... We just need these guys to hang around. Maybe score an otherwise meaningless TD with 3 minutes left...

All I know is that the Virgin Mother won't steer me wrong. Unless of course "The Vision" was only the after effects of that left handed Egg Beaters omlette from the breakfast bar. If that's the case, I do apologize for ruining your life.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Nurse the Hate: Hate Texas

I went to see my beloved Giants this week in Texas for what turned out to be the World Series clinching Game 5. I had only been to Texas for any length of time on one other occasion, that being a gig at South By Southwest in Austin Texas. That visit was most noteworthy for Leo taking mushrooms and being mistaken for being retarded in a pool hall, and having the Austin Chronicle refer to The Cowslingers set as being one of the best of the festival. (Somehow we were unable to turn this Festival appearance into rock stardom, but all was not lost as we did see Ryan Adams walk around in sunglasses at night and being all but fellated by competing record reps. Let the record show I believe the Cowslingers post 1999 recorded output to be vastly superior to that of Mr. Adams, however Mr. Adams has had significantly more commercial success. In fact, Bryan Adams has had more commercial success since 1999 than The Cowslingers. Come to think of it, so has Adam Ant.)

That's about it for time in Texas. To be fair, I have been to Houston 4 or 5 times. Well, not so much "Houston" as the Houston Airport. My biggest highlight? I did buy a Texas A&M t-shirt there after perspiring though my other shirt on a long flight from Cleveland where I had been wedged into a seat between a farting Hispanic man, and a very hairy bearded senior citizen. One other time I missed a connecting flight to Mexico, and enjoyed a stay at a Embassy Suites for 7 hours until my re-routed flight was ready. But this isn't really visiting "Texas", is it?

Ken and I jumped on the plane after a long weekend of shows where I managed to collect a solid 6 hours of sleep between Friday and Monday morning. Still, I wasn't going to miss a chance to see My Team actually win something. I have been following sports since I was three years old, and my teams always flame out in the most horrifying ways possible. Think of any terrible misfortune that has befallen a sports team, and feel confident to know I was rooting for that losing squad. I was in the stands during The Drive. I watched my old college roommate have to put a surprisingly nice bottle of champagne back in the fridge after Jose Mesa blew the save for the Indians in Game 7 in 1997. I saw my father fall on the floor in disbelief when Bills free safety Bill Simpson somehow collided with the cornerback and fell down to give up a long TD to San Diego in the AFC Playoffs. I can go on and on and on and on. My teams never win. Ever. But this would be different...

I headed into Texas knowing that baseball is a distant second or third cousin behind Father Football as a sports passion. I felt reasonably sure no one would hit me in the skull if I wore my Giants lid, and probably due to lack of sleep, I figured wearing the Giants jersey would be OK too. Note that in Philadelphia 2 weeks earlier, I did not feel comfortable to even wear a Giants t shirt underneath my hooded sweatshirt. It is well known that people in Philly are horrible monsters that have barfed on children's heads just because they rooted against the Phillies in a otherwise meaningless regular season game. What chance would a lone wiseass like I have against the entire city during the Playoffs? I love the Giants, but let's be sensible here. I can't possibly fight a city of 5 million people, and have a real aversion to being barfed on.

When we finally arrived in Arlington after a flight schedule so diabolical it must have been designed by an offspring of Dr. Joseph Mengele, I immediately started to pound Lone Star beers. This would be the only way to overcome a total lack of sleep and jet lag. We sat in some sports bar shed of a place filled with Ranger fans, and killed time until the game, listening to the jukebox and watching roaches the size of turtles scuttle across the concrete. It must have been at about beer five when I decided it was a good idea to play "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" and "San Francisco (Flowers in Your Hair)" on the Internet jukebox back-to-back. Surely this would get a rise out of the bar... Yet, I was disappointed when no one even seemed to notice, much less want to punch me in the throat. Well, it was still early.

We drove the rental car over to the stadium. (The car was a Mercury Grand Marquis that was about the size of many of the apartments I had rented in the late 1980s.) A Giant fan could be spotted here and there, but it was mostly a sea of blue and red Ranger gear. I braced myself for the shit talk on the way to the seats, but the shit talk never came. In fact, when I was walking into the stadium a woman said, "Is this yer first time in Texas? Well, you have a real good time!". Twice I was stopped on the way to the seats by Ranger fans to say, "Boy, your team sure has played well. I have to hand it to ya!". These people weren't pissed the Rangers were down 3-1. They were just happy to be there! How you all doin!

Coming from the Rust Belt, this came as a total shock to my system. Here, we hate anyone that has success, especially if it comes at our expense. I have seen Pittsburgh Steeler fans pummeled in the men's room before a game even started in Cleveland. We are so toxic here that if someone we know is successful, the whole city turns on them en masse. The only way to have continued success in the Rust Belt is to move away as soon as others become aware of it. Why do you think Jack White moved away from Detroit? Why are the Black Keys, long cheerleaders of Akron, slipping away to New York and Nashville? Because everyone they come in contact with in the area seethes with jealousy and wants them to fail. It's a negative energy that is undeniable, and may be the reason that the Cuyahoga River caught on fire in the 1970s.

As Giant shortstop Edgar Renteria's unlikely home run ball cleared the fence, I stood up in the left field bleachers screaming "Did that just happen? Did that just happen?" while wildly waving my arms around. Any Ranger fan would have been well within his rights to have tossed me over the fence onto the warning track, where I would have been tazed in the scrotum by a lumbering security guard to the delight of thousands. Instead the fans behind me said, "With the way Lincecum is pitching, that will probably do it. Congratulations!". What the fuck? How could I relish in the moment in true Rust Belt fashion if I couldn't feed off the despair of others? This was so unfair. They even clapped and sang after the next inning to "Deep In The Heart of Texas". I was like The Grinch when he heard all the Whos in Whoville sing on Christmas morning...

I tried to step it up over the last 9 outs and get anyone to react negatively to me, but the best I could do was get one "Sit down Giant fan!" when I stood and slowly clapped for a weak Buster Posey single to left. On the way out after the game, Ranger fan after Ranger fan shook my hand and congratulated me on the Giants win. It was like winning the Series on the set of Leave It To Beaver. "What a great Series! This your first time in Texas? Hope you're having a great time! Congratulations again!" The bartender at the Sheraton even bought me a round. "I'm so happy for you!"

These people are so nice it's disarming. Still, even they must have their limits. I feel it is my obligation as a student of human behavior to see how far I can go. My next step? I will attend a Cowboys game dressed in a full Philadelphia Eagle mascot costume. I will drive to the game weaving in and out of traffic, as I will be unable to see through the beak of the costume. I will run into countless fans entering the stadium as my giant bird feet will clip everyone's heels. I will spill beer all over everyone in my row as I will be unable to fully grasp the cup due to the size of the wings. It is then, and only then, will we see how gracious these folks really are. Go Eagles!