Friday, November 30, 2012

Nurse the Hate: The Chicago Bears and Randy Bachman




It’s time to swagger into the weekend after last week’s triumphant turn of events.  I would like to note that I will be scaling back the size of the wager so as to not develop a large gambling problem, and keep it comfortably nestled into the “small gambling problem” area.  I think we can all agree if a series of four digit wagers go wrong and you have to sell your car, it’s hard to look like a happening guy on an inner city RTA Bus.  "I'm coming over.  What's your address again?  Are you on the RTA Red line?  OK, see you in an hour and a half."  

Still, I do feel as if I have more control on a wild ass NFL football wager than on any of my mutual funds in my 401K, so maybe we’ll meet in the middle on the size of the play.  If I lose, I will point to “factors out of my control” like those stockbroker assholes do and shrug it off.  It’s shocking I feel more comfortable taking financial advice from Mike “The Lizard” Mancuso than some schmo in a $1000 Brooks Brothers suit.  At least “The Lizard” will tell you he blew the game, whereas I don’t ever recall a financial advisor saying “I totally misread the market.  It turns out people are going to buy lots of Apple Computers.  We should have bought lots of that stock when you brought that up to us.  Sorry Greg.  We blew that one.” 

Let’s get into things that we have total control over.  Things like the Cincinnati Bengals.  I really like Cincinnati this week.  Cincinnati will break your heart like a prom date, and I realize this.  I am still going into this with my arms spread open with nothing but love and forgiveness from what they have done to me in the past.  My beloved San Diego Chargers lost a heartbreaking game last week where they somehow allowed a 4th and 29 conversion at the end of regulation send the game into OT.  There’s something you don’t see everyday.  From there, they of course lost as Chargers coach Norv Turner once again takes his and loses to yours (or he’ll take yours and lose to his).  I have to believe that San Diego will have no motivation out there as the players will be focused on fish tacos, off season vacation plans, and not getting hurt.  You ever been to San Diego?  It’s a lot more fun when you aren’t in a cast or wearing a knee brace.  Cincinnati -1.5 all day long.

People in Chicago are very excited about the Bears.  They are always excited about the Bears, but this year especially so.  This is setting themselves up for disappointment.  The Bears are pretty good, but let’s not lose our minds.  Jay Cutler is running for his life every week, and eventually some big scary guys are going to go beyond giving him a concussion and will instead leave his brains leaking out of his helmet like a squashed melon.  The Bears have so many injuries that I believe they just signed Randy Bachman of Bachman Turner Overdrive to play Right Tackle, although that may just be a wild Internet rumor. 

While I know that Seattle last won on the road in 1978 on a soggy field at RFK stadium after a Humble Pie concert, I think they will stay within three points against the Bears.  This flies right in the face of the fact that the Seahawks only cover 33% of the time on the road.  But I did look up the fact that the Pete Carroll Seahawks have covered 13 of 16 as an underdog.  This may also be a wild unsubstantiated Internet rumor.  I think these two teams will try to run and play field position and keep the score low.  That’s where having that extra half point is large.  Take Seattle +3.5.

Current Record Vs The Spread:  7-8-1

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Nurse the Hate: The Shocking Lottery Loss




You can imagine my disbelief this morning when I did not win the Powerball Lottery jackpot of $500 million dollars.  I had felt extremely confident that I had the situation under control with my purchase of five tickets, yet somehow the jackpot slipped right through my fingertips.  It will be an especially difficult day after my actions of the last twelve hours. 

I was so drunk with confidence that after purchasing what I believed to be the winning ticket I told my immediate supervisor at work to “drink a big glass of fuck” or something to that effect.  After shitting on the floor by my workplace cubicle like an angry chimp, I walked out the door while calling to place a rather large deposit on a mink pleasure boat and diamond encrusted kitchen sink on my credit card.  As I drove home I made various phone calls to tell off any and all persons with which I had a grievance, effectively burning the bridges to most of my personal relationships.  I also have some reservations about a call I placed to Victoria’s Secret demanding they deliver seven of their models to a clandestine hotel room in a Las Vegas resort I had made a verbal commitment to purchase only hours earlier.  There is also a man named Manuel at that very hotel suite that will be very upset with me after I ordered delivery of six pounds of a drug so wonderful and rare that it doesn’t even have a name yet.   

While the cold harsh light of morning shines down on my poor decisions, I am filled with regret.  I will walk timidly back to my workplace speaking of a bad reaction to back medication, “putting this regrettable incident behind us and looking ahead to a mutually prosperous future”, and finish with a hand shake, downward cast eyes, and a nod of what I hope is mutual agreement.  I will then make a phone call to my credit card company claiming my credit card was stolen by a Guatemalan street tough and swear that I have been unconscious for the last ten hours shackled to a water tank in a basement stronghold.  I am not concerned about my relationship with the Victoria’s Secret Corporation, though I do have some trepidation about looking over my shoulder for the shadowy Manual over the next few years.  I do remain overall optimistic about picking up the pieces. 

I was foolish to believe I would win.  It is well documented that lottery winners are generally slobs with the brainpower of a typical American Mallard Duck.  Right now whoever won this unfathomable cash haul is probably buying new rims for their 2003 Ford Bronco as opposed to creating tax shelters and securing living quarters with Guantanamo level security.  This is not my problem and I can’t spend another moment even considering the lottery’s reward and its implications for the spinning rim market.  I need to move on.

 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Nurse the Hate: The Viking Incident



As I lay in the crosswalk blinking at the stars in the dark black sky above my head, I realized that walking home would be more difficult than I thought.  The fact I was wearing a loin cloth and a Viking helmet sensibly accented with black Chuck Taylors would probably not win the affections of the local law enforcement community.  Ohio, while somewhat liberal, still frowned on drunken Vikings sprawled out in the crosswalk of four lane roadways.  With all the focus and balance I could muster, I righted myself and managed to make it the rest of the way across the street and towards my home.

The evening had started with much promise.  I was receiving an award for professionalism in Radio, so naturally I wanted to display my respect for this honor by wearing a costume and pretending to have misunderstood the invitation.  “What?  This isn’t a costume party?  Oh, imagine my embarrassment…”  I truly didn’t give a fuck, and thought if I had seen someone else do the same thing, I would be wildly entertained.  Plus, how often do you get to speak to your peers with an exposed nipple if you aren’t in the adult entertainment industry? 

I had a plan to get together with my then girlfriend after the event.  Our relationship was rather turbulent with many young adult dramas playing out on a regular basis.  The fact that I was a completely self involved unpredictable wild card certainly didn’t help matters.  I did not have that crystal clear vision of myself at that time, and instead focused on destructive and self destructive behavior while in search of a good time.  I could be a lot of fun.  Or not.  It sort of depended on what day you got me. 

Today, I made a phone call to Chops McClintock of the Krank Daddies, who may be using the last micro cassette answering machine in the Western Hemisphere.  The reason I mention this is it reminded me of the very same answering machine that my then girlfriend used at the time.  While I waited to leave a message for Chops I heard the familiar “beep-beep-beep” as the machine counted off the previous messages before you would be able to leave yours.  I hadn’t heard that sound in years and the memory all came back to me. 

Let’s go back to the radio event.  I had decided to drink martinis.  This was extremely stupid as I never drank one before, but thought it would look ridiculous drinking a martini in a Viking outfit.  (It did.)  The martinis packed a wallop, and I headed off to a payphone to call my girlfriend to touch base.  I had been insanely jealous of what I perceived to be her having a secret relationship with another guy that “was just a good friend”.  In my experience any man that “is just a good friend” with an attractive woman is “just a good friend” until he can put his wiener in her.  The other option is the woman views this suitor as potential future boyfriend material, and is keeping him in the “friend zone” until she decides to rotate him in.  Either way, this relationship wasn’t good for me.  At all.  Yet I was assured that they were just good friends.  

I now know what it means to be in love.  Real love is rare and precious.  You may only get one shot at it in a lifetime.  While I would swear at the time I was in love with this woman, I can now confidently say I was “sickly obsessed” instead.  There was a real desperate darkness to the whole relationship.  There probably needed to be an intervention.  I still believe to this day that she may have been some sort of demon sent to destroy me.  It’s hard to believe she is probably a good Mom in a subdivision somewhere today as me playing the role of a forgettable bullet she dodged in her twenties.  I have no idea what she saw in me, and that was probably the main issue.  Both of us knew this would be a spectacular flameout with me left in the burning wreckage.  It was just a question of when…  

So there I am, a buzzed up Viking calling her apartment.  When I got her machine it did the strangest thing.  You remember how you used to be able to hit an access code and the machine would play your messages back?  I don’t know if I hit the right code by accident or if the damn thing was just broken.  Regardless, it began to play back a conversation she had earlier with the “good friend”.  In this conversation they discussed how they couldn’t wait to get together and how they were totally keeping me in the dark.  Boy, did that get them laughing.  Ha, ha, ha!   Then there was discussion about some of the things he was going to do to her physically.  She purred into the phone.   

This was rather disappointing.   

Wait.  I may have understated the impact of hearing this. 
I was totally devastated.  Completely and totally devastated.  My whole world had collapsed.  Mr. Funny Guy in the Viking suit had a girlfriend that was right now doing unspeakable things to a theater tech in an apartment no doubt decorated with Chianti bottles with candles in them.  He probably had a Siamese cat and the soundtrack to “Rent”.  He probably took baths instead of showers.  This was a cold slap in the face.  "I guess you aren’t so funny in that Viking outfit now are you Mr. Funny Man?"  I then proceeded to drink, thinking this is what male role models did on TV and movies, so it was what Men did.  This was, of course, a terrible idea.  Getting totally shitfaced like that only makes you go through the phases of grief.   

Denial:  “I must not have heard that right.  I probably dialed the wrong number or something.” (tequila shot)  Anger:  “I’m going to go over there and kick that guy’s ass and fuck up her apartment.  Play me for the fool?  Fuck you!”  (tequila shot) Bargaining:  “I just need to talk to her.  If I can just get her alone, I’ll bet we can work it out.  It’s probably my fault.  I need to go see her!” (tequila shot)  Depression:  “I love her man… and now she’s fucking Mr. Special Friend!  I’ll never find someone like her again…  Give me another shot.  Nothing matters anymore.”  (tequila shot)  Acceptance:  “Fuck her anyway.  She always was a tramp.  Which way is home?” 

I haven’t thought about that in years.  Even now the memory is horrible.  It brings up many questions.  While “What is true love?”,  “Can you ever really trust someone?”, and "Was our relationship always doomed to failure?" come to mind, the real question is this… 
 
Why does Chops not have voice mail like everyone else?     

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Nurse the Hate: The Disturbing Folger's Ad





  I'm a guy that is just trying to mind his own business and keep it on the rails.  I'm just sitting there, thinking about the same things I always seem to think about.  Just a guy trying to get though a Sunday.  The last thing I need is for a major corporation to lend their considerable resources to fucking with my mind.  If you click above, you will watch something very uncomfortable.  You have probably already seen it, felt the goose bumps, and tried to pick up the pieces and move on with your life.  You may have already pushed this film clip into the dark recesses of your mind, hoping it never floats back to the forefront of your thoughts.  But it will...

  I believe that this advertisement is the most disturbing thing on television, and I am aware of the NBC show "The Voice" and the continued airing of "Beard Wars".  I have no idea how this commercial was given the green light from what I assume are rational adults attempting to sell more Folger's coffee.  I have no idea how the obviously incestuous story line is going to increase case sales for Folger's.  Is the "incest segment" of the market really so large that you need to run an ad pinpointed directly at this population?  Can someone explain why a major corporation devoted this much money to align themselves with sister/brother sex?

  Let's break this thing down.  The young man arrives home presumably from the airport after a lengthy tour of duty doing charitable work.  You can tell from his awkwardly stenciled "Volunteer" backpack.  That's the first thing you get when you join the Peace Corps.  A "Volunteer" backpack.  That lets everyone in Africa know that you aren't an arms dealer, but are only doing "volunteer work".  He walks up to the door, but the girl is so excited she sees him though the window.   This teenage girl flings open the door and he flirtatiously questions if he has the right house.  Before leaving for West Africa (where he only took a small backpack but still included a scarf and knit hat amongst his meager belongings) his sister was just a girl.  Now he notices, ohh la la, she is now a woman.  They exchange a long loving hug.

  He enters the kitchen where his sister has thoughtfully brewed Folger's coffee.  His sister tells us his parents, apparently unaware of published flight schedules, waited up all night for him until finally succumbing to sleep.  He breathes in the aroma of the coffee, something he claims not to have where he is in Africa despite the huge production of coffee on the continent.  Upstairs Mom is in bed, breathes in deeply and urgently announces "He's here!".  This is when things get very uncomfortable for the viewer...

  The young man pulls a small gift out of his bag for the girl.  They exchange an awkward glance as the girl fidgets with the present.  She then sticks the ribbon on her brother and blurts, "You're my present this year..."  There is along pause where her look changes from nervous to some kind of coy desire.  He stares back at her, a longing look that he finally has to break by looking down uncomfortably, as if this moment is too much for him to acknowledge.  He was the confident brother, but he has become the submissive after being undone by his sister's raw desire.

  Umm, what the hell is going on here?

  Is it just me, or does it seem like if Mom and Dad had walked in twenty seconds later they would have seen their daughter spread eagle on the kitchen table with their son banging away like a barnyard animal?  Nobody wants to go get a cup of joe in the morning to find Sis with her brother's dick in her mouth.  Well, maybe people that drink Folger's do.  There is more sexual tension in that eight seconds of the commercial than any Scarlet Johannson movie, Fifty Shades of Grey book, or "Anal Nurses IV".  "You are my present this year.  Now, let's take off those jeans Big Man..."

  What in the hell is going on with this family?  Is Mom in on this too?  You see how she breathed in deeply and knew the boy was home?  It's like she smelled his pheromones.  Is she going to watch her son and daughter get it on?  What's with Dad?  How asleep at the wheel is he?  Everybody in his house is fucking everybody and he's just shuffling around in a blue sweatshirt.  The whole thing just creeps me out really badly.

  I am aware that I have a very fucked up mind.  Still, I can't be the only one that sees this commercial is extremely odd.  If you were standing in that room with a friend when the brother and sister did the present exchange, wouldn't you immediately turn to your friend and say, "Whoa.  Did you see that?  You don't think those two are like fucking or anything, do you?  They can't be, right?  She's just excited to see her brother... Right?  Right?".

  The amazing thing is that there must have been dozens of people at the ad agency and Folger's that signed off on this commercial.  Are you telling me that forty people watched that and said, "Nope.  Nothing to see here.  This is all very natural.".  It had to be some Big Cheese at the company that loved the commercial and no one else had the balls to raise their hand and say, "Jim, I agree with you that the spot is really touching, but...  Well, I'm not saying that I think this, but do you think that some people might see the relationship between the brother and sister as maybe...  ah... maybe a bit too close?".  I would bet a healthy stack of cash that there was plenty of talk around the old water cooler about this commercial before it aired.  "Look, I'm not saying anything.  If the Big Guy likes it, I like it.  We'll pull the ad when The Public freaks."  Amazingly this ad still chugs on.

  The holidays are a very stressful time.  There are more suicides now than any other time of the year.  Crowded malls.  Endless gifts to buy.  Decorations.  Holiday parties.  Work functions.  The Year In Review.  The probable exhumation of Dick Clark for New Year's Eve.  The last thing I need is to be shown a short video of a brother and sister getting ready to rut like dogs over a hot steaming mug of Folger's.  I beg of you, the good people of Folger's, make it stop.  Stop playing with my mind and filling it with unhealthy images.  You people are sick.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Nurse The Hate: Hola Buenos Aires


  It would have been a very sedate Thanksgiving if not for the Galaxy of Wagers.  I followed through on my plan to "swing for the fucking fences" and put a monsterous sum of money on the three team tease I mentioned Wednesday.  When you talk about risk taking behavior, this ranks right up there.  But as you know with great risk comes great reward.  As an insurance bet, I also placed what seemed to be a small, but in the harsh light of morning now appears insane bet on the Houston Texans on the money line.  I was quite pleased with the outcome of that early game, despite what can only be referred to as "soul searching moments" as they traded missed field goals in OT.  I can't recall being that uptight during midafternoon on Thanksgiving.  It all came together though.  The later games were laughers, and I'm now sitting on my airfare to Argentina. 

  Now I only have to memorize phrases like "Disculpa. No sé cómo al tango. ¿Te importa hacer el Robot?".  This means "Excuse me.  I do not know how to do the tango.  Would you care to do The Robot?'.  I will also need to know "Pido disculpas por perder el control de mis entrañas. ¿Alguien me lleve a mi hotel?" which of course means "I apologize for losing control of my bowels.  Can someone carry me to my hotel?".  Maybe I should memorize "El gitano me robó el pasaporte." meaning "The gypsy stole my passport.".  There will be plenty of time on the flight.

 This trip will be in sharp contrast to many of my international jaunts.  I have lived a life where I have found myself doing numerous border crossings with Leo which has led to me jotting these phrases in my travel journal for quick and easy reference.
 
-  "Das sind nicht meine. Das sind Leos. Nimm mich an die amerikanische Botschaft." (German)
-  "Ce ne sont pas la mienne. Ce sont de Léo. Prenez-moi à l'ambassade américaine." (French)
-  "Die zijn niet van mij. Dat zijn Leo's. Breng me naar de Amerikaanse ambassade." (Dutch)
-  "Horiek ez dira nirea. Dutenek Leo-en. Take me American Enbaxadako." (Basque)

  This means "Those are not mine.  Those are Leo's.  Take me to the American Embassy.".  This is a much more useful phrase to know in a variety of languages than "Where is the bathroom?" or "What time is it?".  This is the phrase you need when guys in uniforms with automatic weapons are screaming for "your papers" and tearing apart your luggage.  You don't need to know where a bathroom is then, only how to distance yourself from the careless evil leprachaun with vague understanding of Euro drug laws that circumstance placed you next to in the van.  "Him?  He is a stranger to me.  I am an American businessman.  Please take me to my Embassy."

 I don't really know too much about Buenos Aires except what I have seen on Travel TV and stories from friends that live there.  I do know it is Summer there now and that is good.  They make great Malbec wine and that is good.  They tango, are into soccer, and Robert Duvall has a place there which is also good.  People stopped disappearing from police death squads and that is really good.  I am traveling there on crazy gambling winnings and that is really really good.

Adios.
 
 
   

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Nurse the Hate: The Galaxy of Wagers




Thanksgiving is truly a great holiday.  Leisure time, drinking, football and a big meal.  What can be more American?  I feel sorry for those poor saps that have to work at Wal-Mart tomorrow.  Seriously, The American Consumer can’t wait another 12 hours to buy an X-Box at $31 off retail?  You know what happened.  There was some asshole at Wal-Mart corporate that looked at a spreadsheet that said they could make another .6% market share if they made all their underpaid employees leave their families during the holiday and open up.  Meanwhile, those same decision makers will be tucking into a second piece of pumpkin pie comfy at home while those employees are doing a price check on a Barbie Beach House for some pissed off hillbilly.  The executives will hide behind “what is good for the corporation” babble and probably a few of them will be forced to make PR appearances helping out at the store level.  Fuck those guys. 

You should be free for the day and able to get together with all the people that you deem important.  Holiday sales crap can wait until Friday.  While geography and circumstance will not enable me to have a perfect gathering, there is still much to be thankful for this year.  Mostly the opportunity for Ken and I to let loose our annual “Galaxy Of Wagers” on Thanksgiving Football.  In the past we have gambled like degenerates on Thanksgiving games as a way to get from Noon to dinner.  This day is also noteworthy for the only time we make teaser bets.  For the uninitiated, the teaser is a bet in which you gain the advantage of moving the line on multiple bets in exchange for having to win all elements of the bet for it to pay off.  For example, Krusty has already declared he will be taking Houston +7, Washington +13, and the University of Texas +3.  Looks good, right? 

The great thing about the teaser is that it seems impossible that you will lose the bet.  It is inconceivable that the Redskins will lose by more than 13 points.  It can’t happen.  That is the key to the teaser.  It is the biggest sucker bet on the board.  You almost never win teasers.  It is a bet that is constructed for separating stupid people from their money.  When you see guys in Tapout shirts on at a Vegas sports book, they are probably knee deep in NFL teasers.  Tomorrow we will be those stupid people.  I will most likely not be wearing a Tapout shirt though.

I decided earlier today that I want to make this Thanksgiving especially noteworthy.  I want to have complete focus.  I want to white knuckle it.  I want to really swing for the fucking fences.  I’m done with safety nets.  This is why I have decided to bet enough money to pay for a trip to Buenos Aires next month.  If I win, it will be time to stroll around the Barrios all juiced up on Malbec with my friend Sasha in tow as a “fixer” to help minimize international incidents.  Nobody wants to be thrown into a Buenos Aires jail screaming “Soy un americano. ¡Tómeme a mi embassy!”.  (I am an American.  Take me to my Embassy!) 

I don’t think I would do especially well in Argentine prison.  I think there are a lot of burly guys in 1970s mustaches that would do terrible things to me in “the yard”.  I also envision the guards yelling at me in Spanish while I said things like “What?  I don’t understand… Ow!  Ow!  Stop hitting me with that baton!”   Then again, if the Redskins keep it close, I will have mucho pesos to throw around.  I will probably have to buy a white suit with a matching hat to comfortably glide around Buenos Aires as “new money” but I will factor that cost into the wager.  You must look the part in the Paris of South America. 

As of this moment I am considering the following:   

Houston Texans +7
Washington Redskins +13
New England Patriots +3

Three team tease (a sucker bet destined to lose) 

I will also make major plays on Houston -3 early and if still chasing late, the University of Texas -7. 
 

There will be much to be thankful for tomorrow.


Or not.

 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Nurse the Hate: Still Hate Black Friday




The holidays are all about traditions.  Turkey on Thanksgiving.  Putting up the Christmas tree.  Stringing lights.  Creepy Mall Santas.  Chestnuts roasting on an open fire.  Jack Frost nipping at your toes.  Me being irritated by “Black Friday” shoppers… 

This morning there was the annual article in the newspaper about Black Friday “deals” and the lengths that Rubes will go to secure one of these bait n’ switch scams.  In the accompanying photo to the story is some dude in a Dio shirt that has been camped out in front of Best Buy since Thursday so he can reel in the savings.   Let me repeat that…  Thursday.  This gentleman has nothing to do for eight days except wait outside of a Best Buy in freezing temperatures so he can save a couple hundo on a TV set.  Let’s break this down… 

Let’s assume that the guy in the Dio shirt does not have a very good job.  I say that first because of the Dio shirt, which is a clear indication that you aren’t on “the fast track” in your career.  I have been to a number of pretty high brow business events, and I can’t ever recall hearing “Rainbow In The Dark” or “Holy Diver” blasting out at the Ritz Carlton Chicago lobby.  But let us not get caught up in an argument on the merits or lack thereof in regards to the discography of one Ronald James Dio.  No, the real question is who has eight days to devote to camping in a strip plaza? 

I don’t have eight days to lay out in Jamaica.  I slipped out of town for five and that was pushing it.  I can’t think of anyone I know that has eight days to sit around to do nothing.  I would like to point out that I also know some, shall we say, “colorful” characters that have more leisure time than should be expected in American Society.  I know a guy in a trailer that writes plays that will never be produced that is too busy for this sort of “urban camping” expedition.  Years ago I knew a guy that I only saw move off his bed to shit and get cigarettes.  I didn’t even know for sure if he had legs.  That guy wouldn’t even sit in a tent for eight days.   

So let’s assume that this person in the tent is doing it because they can’t afford to miss out on the savings.  If this is the case, he may be waiting for the advertised RCA 42-inch plasma at $199 down from $499.  Hey, who doesn’t want to save $300, right?  So our man in the Dio shirt is in a position to save $300 and all he has to do is give up 192 of his hours to save that $300 (eight days X 24 hours= 192 hours).   Based on that, his time is worth $1.56 an hour.  Or he could work 38 hours at Taco Bell at minimum wage, buy that stupid TV at his convenience and reward himself with 150 hours he could spend jacking off and listening to Dio.  Me?  I’m serving up XXL Steak Nachos and getting the lotion… 

Therefore I think we can assume that Dio Guy is not doing it for the savings.  Hence, he must like the attention and the camaraderie of the other Rubes in the line.  Sitting in a strip plaza in a tent is unusual behavior, and there must be a steady stream of people talking to him.  “How long you been out here?  Since Thursday!  Whoa!”  This is probably some of the only positive interaction a guy with those glasses and that Dio shirt is likely to have.  I think we can both agree that he is not suavely meeting the ladies at his local chicken wing bar on their 80s Metal Night.  I think we can also rule out Book Clubs (no books in photo), Church Groups (they don’t like the Satanic t-shirts he wears), shopping malls (note out of date eyewear and 80s style ripped jeans), and gyms (little puffy… he may want to hit the treadmill).  This activity is part of how he defines himself.  He has found his little niche.  Some people do things like build model airplanes or mountain bike.  This guy Urban Camps For Savings.   

If I may make a suggestion…  If Dio Guy is trying to get attention and save money as an afterthought, why not camp out at Best Buy all year long?  That can be “his thing”.  Every single day people will walk by and ask how long he’s been there.  “Yeah, I’ve been out here since Dec 26th of last year.  Tough winter, but Spring was nice.  Got hit by lightning in July, but the burns have healed up real nice.  The folks at the Arby’s let me wash up in the men’s room every morning and clean out my slop bucket.  Only 117 more days til Black Friday man!”.  This is the type of total commitment to mindless consumerism that the media loves.  Good Morning America will send out a crew.  20/20 will stop by.  Leno and Letterman will mention him in his monologues.  Is this an ideal life?  No, but it has to be better than the grim existence he’s scratching out now…  

Monday, November 19, 2012

Nurse the Hate: No Sleep




By Sunday I believe I was ready for a total physical collapse.  Days of poor sleep in creepy Detroit hotel rooms had finally taken their toll.  Even when I did manage to sleep, unsettling dreams shook me awake in total darkness.  What can be more unfair than to be stressed out of your mind, unable to fall asleep, and then have a dream fuck you up when you do?  Our schedule this week was insane.  Studio, studio, studio and then a straight drive to a gig in Akron.  I finally got home at 3:30 am.  The three and a half hours of sleep Saturday night gave me just enough energy to wake up and go to the grocery store where shoppers floated by me giving me the same wary look you give an inner city pan handler.  It probably didn’t help that I was quietly singing a new song I was working on in my mind slightly under my breath like a mental patient.  Yet, I had been here before… 

When The Cowslingers were at their best, in my opinion 1998-2000, we toured like motherfuckers.  Playing 125 shows a year is a pretty heavy schedule.  Playing 125 shows a year while continuing to be a full time white collar employee or college students is insane.  We had a touring circle that went from New York to Atlanta over to St Louis.  We would play anywhere at anytime and were receiving great show offers all over the place.  Our philosophy was always “we can make that work” and then figured out how to make it work on the fly.  Next thing you know you were chock full of mini thins driving the van at 4:30 on a Thursday morning trying to figure out if you should stay on 75 South or take 280 to get home.

I remember we had run out of vacation time and had a series of shows.  I was working at a radio station in sales, and needed to show up every morning by 8:30 in a suit looking like I was doing important things in advertising.  My douchebag boss would climb up my ass if I was even five minutes late, despite the fact that I was paid on 100% commission.  My mindset was you are only paying me for what I sell, so who cares if I show up at 8:30 or at 2:00?  Or even at all?  As long as I was hitting my goals, which I was, leave me the fuck alone.  This philosophy was not shared by management. 

We played Chicago at Schuba’s on a Wednesday night with Robbie Fulks.  We played first, hastily loaded out, and hopped in the van to drive back to Cleveland.  I walked into my house at about 5 a.m. to try and get a little sleep.  I made it through Thursday at work on adrenalin.  I recall being pretty with it and all jacked up on coffee.  As I slunk out of the office at 4:30pm, I hoped nothing would blow up.  This is all pre-cell phone, so when you left the office you would have to call in to make sure nothing was wildly out of control.  Leo would be serenely chomping on a corn dog at a Speedway while I nervously checked my messages on the payphone outside.  I prayed that a client hadn’t called my manager with an issue.  If all was OK, you hopped back into the van for a few hours and hoped crisis was still being averted. 

We got to Kalamazoo to play Small Planet that Thursday night with Robbie Fulks and the Volebeats.  We played second that night, and even hung out a little bit to watch Robbie play.  That guy is so talented, he had to be wondering how his life had taken such a turn to be playing a string of dates with shaggy dogs like us.  On any given night, we could be really really good, but Robbie is an actual talent.  He knows what the hell he is doing up there with his band of ringers.  It was a drag to have to climb into the van to drive home, but no matter what I had to be at that fucking cubicle Friday morning at 8:30.  I got home around 5:00 am. 

That Friday morning was tough.  I literally dragged myself into my car to drive in.  I felt wrung out.  It was one of those commutes when you have no recollection of the drive, even moments after shutting off the car.  I spent a lot of time at work walking around with folders and documents, making a public show of this alleged sales activity.  “Just a guy involved in monster deals here.  Nothing to look at.  Turn your attention elsewhere.”   I tried to sleep in my car for an hour, but was so pumped full of caffeine to stay awake, sleep was impossible.  I left the station around 4:30, leaving my desk as if I had only walked away for a moment, and went to get things in order for a gig at The Grog. 

We had some sort of equipment issue so I had to drive across town to pick up some gear.  Traffic kept me at a stop and go pace.  By the time I got home, I had to change into my cowboy suit to hump it over to the club.  There was no nap.  Another bonus?  We were playing last on the bill, so that meant a few hours of time to kill.  This is the dangerous time for a man with no sleep.  If you are standing in the Grog Shop at 9pm waiting to play at 12:30, there is one thing to do:  drink beer.  And that is what I did.  When all was said and done, I’m sure I got home about 3:30am.  Sleep should have come easily… 

Having a rental property is great.  The additional income was huge for me in my twenties.  The call from downstairs of the duplex about the broken toilet at 8:30 am Saturday morning was not so great…  The upstairs and downstairs units were the same.  One bathroom and two bedrooms.  There would be no way to delay this repair.  I had to deal with it.  I was out of bed.  I was awake.  The van left Cleveland for Cincinnati at 4:00… 

I don’t remember that Saturday gig at all.  I think it was at Top Cats and we played last.  I think it was us, Robbie Fulks, and the Volebeats again.  It might have been Bengals Stadium with The Who.  I honestly can’t recall.  I’m sure we stayed at a friend’s place, as during these Early Days of Bitter Struggle we never coughed up for a hotel.  That meant I slept on a couch or maybe a floor at about 3:45 am.  The issue when you stayed at someone’s house was that you would have to stay awake with the host.  They always wanted to have a few beers and hang out, and I always want to go to sleep.  The good news is that Leo will always stay up with anyone that wants to party, and there can often be an opportunity to slink off.  I didn’t really perfect that slink off move until years later, so I am sure I politely sipped a beer until late (or early morning depending on your vantage point). 

I had probably slept 14 hours from Wednesday to Sunday morning as we climbed in the van to drive back to Cleveland.  This is not what most physicians would recommend as a regular health regime.  I had become so overtired that sleep became elusive.  I had every intention of spending Sunday sleeping all day.  It just didn’t happen.  I went to bed around my normal time and set my alarm to go to work Monday.  It was almost impossible to get out of bed and into the shower.  My head was achy.  I couldn’t concentrate.  I was not what you would refer to as “sharp”. 

At lunch that day I went to a tavern near the office with two co-workers. It was a popular lunch place and we had to take one of those high top tables.  I remember a woman I worked with talking to me when things got fuzzy.  I got a warm flush feeling in my head and then something shut off.  The next thing I remember was being very confused as to why a large group of people were staring down at me from above.  I had passed out cold and fallen onto the tile floor.  People were understandably curious as to why this man in a suit was unconscious at Noon on a Monday.  “Dude… you should cut the partying.” I heard someone say.  I was taken to the Cleveland Clinic, given a battery of tests that were inconclusive, and then later released.  They told me to come back if I kept passing out.  It seemed reasonable advice.  

I can honestly say that is the last time I have felt similar to how I felt yesterday.  I feel like I am missing a key vitamin in my diet.  Is this how you feel before you develop scurvy?  Is this ache in your side normal?  My advice to you is as follows.  Avoid being in the area if you see me behind the wheel of a powerful automobile.  Do not allow me to handle any power tools.  While this is always a good policy, it is especially so today.  Don’t hold me to anything I say today.  I have no idea what I am talking about.  I may speak in tongues if I don’t get at least seven hours of sleep tonight.  How the hell did Leo do that 84 hours?
     

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Nurse the Hate: Victory Is At Hand



This week I am going to get after it.  The key last week was to recognize that I was going to lose going into it with my suicidal Jets play.  I limited my losses as best I could, but yet there was something satisfying about leaping into the fires screaming out curses to the Gods.  We all get what we deserve and in this case I certainly did.  A good old fashioned ass kicking.

I am about as cold as I have ever been picking football games.  This is when those with a weak stomach would put their tail between their legs and go home.  Not me though.  I will march ahead into the brave unknown with a sense of confidence that has absolutely no basis in reality.  This morning I believe that the Gods will right my path.  It has been a very tough few weeks.  There is a peak and valley to things though.  Things do turn around.  They will turn around this week, and I invite you to share in the spoils.

(I would like to take just a quick moment to point out that I don’t believe any of the last statement either.  If I am ice cold going into the week, why would it turn now?  There is no reason to believe I haven’t bottomed out.  In fact, this may only be the beginning of an even worse slide.  Who knows?  I’ve been cooped up in a windowless recording studio totally shutoff from the planet for days.  I have no idea of what is going on with the world.  The only thing I know is that I have to knock out a shitload of vocals this morning or we are going to fall horribly behind schedule on this new record.  Do you think I have any insight on these games?  Hell no!  I just figured out who was playing who about ten minutes ago.  Doesn’t matter though.  I am in for the entire ride.  No matter how turbulent things get, the natural order will prevail.  Always.)

When West Virginia got into the Big 12, everyone bought into the fact that their Air Raid offense and lightning quick players would make them a monster team.  They had looked awesome in the Big East, so moving into this higher profile conference would only show more of America who they were as a program.  Well, it turns out that the guys in the Big 12 are pretty fucking fast too.  It also turns out that the Big East isn’t really a good gauge of how you will fare in the Big 12.  It turns out the Big East kinda sucks.  It turns out facing these big time football programs of the Big 12 week after week is a real issue.

This week West Virginia faces Oklahoma at home.  I have a soft spot for West Virginia.  There are lots of good people there that don’t have much to get excited about other than WVU sports and hoping they win the lottery.  Good folks.  I don’t bet with my heart though.  There has been no evidence that West Virginia is capable of beating an elite Big 12 team, so I don’t see why it will happen today.  They are 2-7 against the spread with the sole bright spot a win against what turned out to be a subpar Texas team.  West Virginia can’t stop anybody.  This tends to be a problem in football.  However, they can score points.  I am going to do something stupid and tease OK-4.5 and OVER 67.5.

I love to bet on teams that The Public hates.  It’s especially good when these teams play a team that The Public loves.  Dare I say I spot a perfect storm on Sunday when the shaky Dallas Cowboys take on the always terrible Cleveland Browns in Dallas?  Dallas is not very good.  You think they are, but they aren’t.  You know why you think they are?  Because they get so much media coverage you think Dez Bryant is as good as Larry Fitzgerald, when it turns out that he’s only as good as Dez Bryant.  If Jerry Jones mutters something under his breath, ESPN runs with it as the lead story on SportsCenter for two days.  It makes Dallas seem like a big deal when all they are is a .500 franchise.  Meanwhile, there probably isn’t anyone outside of the NE Ohio area that can name more than three Cleveland Browns. 

This game is going to be ugly and maybe unwatchable.  It will be a complete waste of your time to even gaze in the direction of a TV broadcasting it.  Avert your eyes.  But don’t be a fool.  Take Cleveland +8.5.  It’s way too many points.  Dallas doesn’t beat anyone soundly as a favorite, and Cleveland is good at just sort of hanging around.

There are two games that go against popular opinion this week, and I am hitting both of them.  In Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger has some horrible injury where his heart could get punctured by a dislocated rib.  The great thing about the NFL is that there was serious discussion if he would play.  I ask you, if someone told you your heart could be punctured by your rib, would you say “Let’s discuss the possibility of me running around with eleven guys that weigh 250+ pounds trying to hit me as hard as they can.  Can I do that four days from now?”.  I would be nestled inside of a plastic bubble in a room full of Styrofoam packing peanuts.  The Public will now overreact to the fact that they will not get to see Roethlisberger die in a spectacular geyser of blood on the 50 yard line, and will have to watch the Steelers play with discarded QB Byron Leftwich.  Now Pittsburgh is getting 3.5 at home?  I’m on it.  They always win with defense anyway.  The Public is heavy on Baltimore, so go the other way.  Pittsburgh +3.5.

The Lions have been very disappointing.  This is a way of life in Detroit where they have been largely disappointed by such things as their city collapsing, roving packs of mongrel dogs, complete lawlessness, and the Lions.  Detroit plays Green Bay this week at home, and the Pack is Back baby!  The Packers look like the Packers again whereas Detroit just lost to the Vikings.  I choose to accent the positive.  Green Bay is really banged up right now.  The NFL is so brutal because with the salary cap, you can’t build depth.  Green Bay is running a lot of guys out on the field right now that Jacksonville looked at and said “Nah.  We’ll keep our shitty guy instead.”.  No Clay Mathews Jr.  No Charles Woodson.  NFL coaches are really good at creating situations where Calvin Johnson gets to run out for a pass against Shitty Mc Shitterson. 

This game is the biggest lopsided bet in Vegas right now with heavy public money on Green Bay.  I love hearing stuff like that even if it probably is misinformation.  I’m going with it.  I think the Lions win at home and those blowhards in the postgame shows all slap their foreheads and say “Whoa! What an upset!”.   Detroit +3.    

The past is gone and there is only the future.  Some of us will drink deep from the chalice of victory.  Some of us will stroll tropical beaches without a care.  At last the pieces will all fit together.  The moment is at hand.  Shed the past.  At last we will enjoy the triumph of victory without regret.  Bask in the glory of what has been pre-ordained.

(That was the part to psyche myself up.  Boy do I hope things turn around this week! I can’t take much more…)

Current Record Vs Spread:  6-9


Friday, November 16, 2012

Nurse The Hate: Dare To Dream



I woke up out of sorts after some unsettling dreams.  It’s an odd thing about dreams.  You can go to sleep with your mind in one place, and then without warning you are walking in a field of daisies having a conversation with someone and their deceased mother.  It’s so real.  Then you wake up, turn on the television and see that the Florida Marlins have traded every legit ballplayer they had except Giancarlo Stanton, and you really have to question reality.  What is reality?  Has the world gone mad?

I always knew that Florida Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria was a cheap hustler.  First of all, can you trust someone that goes by Jeffrey instead of Jeff?  Jeffrey is the name of an interior decorator, video artist, or sissy boy in knickers.  In this case, Jeffrey is the kind of guy that bullshits a city into building a $650 million dollar stadium by telling them he’s bringing in players, and then bails out as soon as he gets his side of the deal. 

The way the new stadium deal in Miami was supposed to work was like this:  The City of Miami would pony up an unreal amount of money to build a new baseball stadium.  The team had been largely unpopular because of two reasons.  1) The Marlins would dump all their good players instead of paying them; hence the fans hated the team.  2) It’s Southern Florida and there are about 700 better things to do than go see a crappy baseball team play.  Jeffrey Loria and his little weasel stepson David Samson convinced the city on the Field of Dreams gambit.  Build it and they will come.

The City had some reservations.  “Well, if we just go and build you a giant $650 Million dollar stadium to drive your revenues, how can we be sure you won’t just dump payroll anyway and keep all the money?”  I think the Loria’s response was along the lines of “Oh, don’t worry.  We won’t.”  That apparently was enough for the City of Miami to, according to my calculations, give the Loria Braintrust enough money to feed, clothe, and house everyone in South Florida.  Oh, that’s right.  They didn’t spend the money on that.  They built an eyesore of a baseball stadium that no one will go to instead.  Good plan Miami!

Why the people of Miami have not pulled this man naked and screaming from his home I don’t know.  It’s time for torches and pitchforks.  He stole all of your money.  He betrayed your trust.  To top it all off, he doesn’t feel bad about it in the least.  In fact, he’s pissed you are even questioning him.  You catch that quote he had at the owners meetings? “Not today boys.  If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m not going to figure it out for you.”  How did someone from Miami not punch him in the face?  He’s soft.  He’s not ready for the physical violence he so richly deserves.

If I am a resident of Miami, I am demanding that the city take over ownership of the team.  You paid for it, it should be yours.  Eminent Domain.  Get those city lawyers to dream up some crazy nonsense.  I would also recommend that on Opening Day you march that little shit Samson out to centerfield and rip his teeth out with pliers.  Put it on the Jumbotron to serve as a lesson for all.  Zoom in on the crying.  We’ll all like that. 

Miami, it’s up to you.  That’s the thing about dreams.  Dreams can come true.  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Nurse the Hate: Hate Recording




We are heading into the studio tomorrow to start work on our tenth full length release as The Whiskey Daredevils.  The Cowslingers did nine as well.  If you would have told me when I was 21 that I would have been involved in releasing nineteen full length music releases that people actually had some interest in, I would have laughed until I wet myself.  This is as good a time as any to admit I have absolutely no God given musical talent whatsoever.  I have surrounded myself with talented people and done the rest by sheer force of will.  There is a work ethic here and I will proudly say that we do have some ideas.  Are they earth shattering ideas?  No, but we are still making music that I want to listen to and believe in. 

So does the world need another collection of our stupid songs?  Probably not, but that isn’t going to stop us.  The thing that can really weigh you down is when you consider how many bands have slipped so far below their once high standards as they age and/or run out of ideas.  You know when you read those reviews in Rolling Stone that say “…this is Pearl Jam’s best record since Ten” or “…probably the best Stones record since Some Girls!”?  Even as you scan them, you know it is complete bullshit.  Still, you hold out hope that maybe, just maybe, it might be true. 

The way big corporate magazines like that work is they take an advertising buy from the label and are expected to create “added value”.  The added value often consists of inclusion in those “about town” photos in the front of the magazine, multi page band profiles, and favorable reviews.  Do you think Sony is going to spend the money on a three consecutive issue full page ad run for whatever Rolling Stones Greatest Hits collection they cobbled together without getting pictures of Mick and Keith looking as cool as trick lighting and Photoshop will allow?  There also better be a great review of the two new add on tracks to trick the masses for shelling out $20 to buy yet another copy of “Honky Tonk Woman” on a CD.  I can see the review now.  “…while Brown Sugar sounds as great as ever; the new track “Whatever It Is” may actually surpass all the hits surrounding it...”  Um, sure it does… 

So there you are staring at yet another five star review of a Bruce Springsteen record that you will never hear another person alive mention even in passing.  This “classic” album will not produce one song you could even hum back ten minutes after listening to it.  Radio won’t play it.  Still, you may even buy the damn thing in a moment of weakness at Starbucks.  Hell, the magazine said it was good.  It must be good right?  You will add it into your iPod library and then reflexively skip the songs every time they shuffle through.  It’s a fool’s game. 

So how do we avoid the same pitfall?  How do we avoid being the much, much smaller version of that shitty Bruce Springsteen record?  It’s not as if Bruce thought he was making a crummy record.  I bet he believed in his songs.  How do we maintain some kind of interest?  How can we get you to pay attention for the thirty odd minutes of music we will painstakingly create for you and ourselves? 

There were two full length records that came out in the last couple months that bear some thought.  I have always been a Bob Mould fan from Husker Du to Sugar to his solo stuff.  Make no mistake; Bob has made some very spotty records, especially in the previous eight years.  What the hell were those electronic records anyway?  His latest, Silver Age, is really remarkable.  Maybe it was timing on this, but there have been certain Bob Mould records that have found me at the right time.  This is one of them.  I love this record.  This fucking thing blows your head off, and the songs are there.  In reading interviews with Mould after getting the disc, I was impressed by his effort to get back to what he did best; loud guitar drums making good hooky songs buried under the onslaught.  He had been so concerned about being different that he forgot what it was that he really did.  He returned to what he did when he was at his best.  It’s like he recorded it 20 years ago and just now released it. 

I also picked up Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s Psychedelic Pill.  This is clearly the best thing Neil has done since “Ragged Glory” with Crazy Horse in the early 90s.  Big messy sludgy Crazy Horse music wails out on these tracks, especially the three 15 minute plus long jams.  I usually hate that kind of shit, but there are ideas, feelings, and pure power flowing off of these recordings.  You can feel how excited they are that they are doing it.  Of course, Neil will probably break this up and make a terrible jazz record by the time I write this, but he sure got this right.  What’s he doing?  He’s doing what he does. 

We have a group of ten songs I wrote the words to at about the exact same time.  They all work together as one variation of a bigger idea.  Gary had some really great riffs bouncing around.  I had a few simple melodies.  Sugar and Leo came up with good grooves under the songs.  We are going to do what we do.  We are going to make our version of country punkabilly.  Whatever that is.  We are going to set up our instruments and play the songs.  All of us at the same time like we normally do on stage or in the basement.  No screwing around.  We are going to stand there and let ‘em rip.  That’s what we have done on the best of our records, and that’s what we are going to do this time. 

It’s a privilege to be able to make music that anyone is willing to devote some of their precious time and listen to.  We’re going to do the best we can.  The good thing for us is that we don’t have to top “Exiles On Main Street” or “New Day Rising”.  We just have to be honest with the songs and performance.  That ought to do it.  Well, at least I think so.  Fuck, that’s probably what Springsteen thought…  With luck, you won’t reach for the skip button and ask “How did those assholes trick me into buying this?  Again?” 

 

 

       

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Nurse the Hate: Hate Chicago




The decision to not go to work was an easy one.  I just took a left turn where I normally took a right.  I strode into Cleveland Hopkins Airport at 7am without any luggage or agenda.  One hour later I was on a plane to Chicago, sitting uncomfortably while someone’s travel alarm beeped away trapped in the overhead compartment.  I fell asleep at some point, and woke up rather confused on the runway at Midway. 

There is a feeling of liberation playing hooky from your life like this.  It’s Monday and you are surrounded by people scurrying to get to whatever important task they have been assigned.  You can feel like you are invisible.  No place special to be.  You don’t live here.  None of this concerns you.  People on the train stare blankly ahead, hoping not to make eye contact with anyone.  I’m looking at everyone, making up their biographies in my head.  My Monday is going to probably be better than theirs.  

I went to the Trump Hotel and had breakfast on the 16th Floor.  The entire far wall is thirty feet of glass overlooking the city, a truly impressive dining room.  I ate a very expensive egg white omelet and watched the wealthy clientele casually pick at their food.  If you are looking for very relaxed wealthy elderly Asian women that like to shop, this would be a good place for you to hang out.  They are there right now getting ready to buy things they don’t need on Michigan Ave while their husbands are conducting business in imposing conference rooms nearby. 

It seemed like a good idea to get a Bloody Mary at Gibson’s Steak House.  I used to go to Gibson’s when I was a little kid.  My grandfather was a big swinging dick insurance guy in town, and we would go to dinner “in the city” at Gibson’s.  I would get a gigantic steak I couldn’t hope to finish, and my grandfather would argue with the waiters as he became progressively drunker on martinis.  As we would gather our coats to inevitably leave in disgrace, I would look at the old pictures of personalities I couldn’t identify from decades ago crowded on the wall.  The pictures are still there.  My trip to Gibson’s was different than when I had been there with my Grandfather.  I didn’t argue with the waiter and I left without incident. 

I passed by a men’s clothing store that was having a going out of business sale.  The elderly clerk had worked there for 24 years.  He didn’t know what he was going to do after the store finally closed.  This had been the only work he had known.  I bought a suit that I otherwise couldn’t afford.  The clerk thanked me and started to tell me to stop in next time I was in town before catching himself.  There was an awkward moment as neither of us knew what to say, and I thanked him for his help and left.     

I went up to the top of the John Hancock building.  There is a restaurant on the 95th Floor crowded with tourists.  Although it was 1pm, it seemed like Happy Hour.  Pudgy girls with tired eyes hoisted heavy trays of drinks to overstimulated loud talking tables.  In one of my “Fun In…” photograph series, I had my photo taken as I tried to make my face completely blank.  People stared at me wondering what the hell was wrong with me.  I left immediately afterwards. 

The wind was especially cold and cut right through my cheap jacket.  I ducked into Ditka’s Steakhouse and ordered a Nickel and Nickel Cabernet.  A very old woman sat next to me at the bar eating a Cesar salad.  She reminded me of my Aunt Rose, a woman that had not finished a meal in her last 50 years of life due to her constant stream of consciousness conversational style.  This woman was very excited to have someone to talk to and rattled on about the merits of various restaurants and her experience in Ohio 65 years ago when she helped dig an outhouse pit among other things.  Did Cincinnati really still have outhouses in 1947?  She confirmed with me the continued existence of Hackney’s Restaurant, a place my mother believed to make the best burger in the world.  However, it was Hackney’s onion loaf, a brick of onion rings that serve an entire table that impressed my new dining companion the most.  I think she was gladhanding me when she told me the burgers were good.  I don't think she thought they were remarkable in any way.  As she waited for he crab bisque to arrive (in two containers so she could take half home), I said goodbye.  It may have been one of the only things I said in the past 30 minutes.  Nice lady who needs someone to talk to.  She might still be working on that half salad. 

I went into various shops and absentmindedly looked at the merchandise.  I didn’t need any of it.  Who buys all this stuff?  Two thousand dollar bright green blazers.  $800 dress shoes.  Watches that cost as much as a reliable automobile.  Clerks could tell with even a cursory glance that I was not a “serious” customer.  I felt guilty even walking into certain places.  I kept waiting for someone to say “Sir!  If you have to even look at the price, you probably do not belong in here!”.  I did see a beautiful necklace that would make a wonderful gift.  I decided that maybe I will swing by and get it later.  Or maybe I will get that green blazer instead.  I’ll just have to see how it plays out I guess.   

I settled in at Joe’s Steak for a feast.  Not to eat steak in a Chicago steakhouse seems wrong, but what the hell.  This was my day and I was calling the shots.  Chicken, brussel sprouts, and what were claimed to be the best mashed potatoes in the world.  (They weren’t.  I will take Blue Point’s lobster mashed any day, but these were still pretty damn good.)  The 2009 Shafer Merlot is drinking well.  The 2007 Ridge Cabernet even better.  There is certainly nothing wrong with the 1980 Warre’s Port.  I left the restaurant with a warm glow. 

I took the train back to Midway.  A different group of tired blank faces stared straight ahead.  It looked like these people could use an eleven hour trip away from their lives.  This had clearly been a good idea.  Well, a much better idea than going to work anyway.