Thursday, September 27, 2007

Nurse the Hate: Hate Charity

A friend of mine told me about this local charity started by one of his friends. THis guy had cashed out of a successful business, and decided to take a portion of the windfall to help people in need. His goal is to provide instant financial help to those that need a quick fix. Example: If a single mother needs $400 to pay for her bed ridden child's medicine, the charity cuts a check. Generally these are quick one time solutions for under $1000. There's a small staff of women that read through the applications for help, and apparently these women might be a little too soft a touch. It seems like they can't say "no" to anyone.

Eager to see if this theory was true, I drafted a letter and dropped it in the mail yesterday. I wanted to create a scenario that exceeds how much they usually give to the applicants, and simultaneously test the empathy of the charity staff. I am VERY interested to see how they react.

Here's the letter...I took the organization's name off it to make sure no one gets in touch with them to tip them off. This needs to be a pure reaction. I put Leo's name on it in case anything goes horribly wrong. He can survive in prison. I can't. (If against all odds we get the money, I will give it back. At least I think I will.)

The Letter

Leo P. Love
P.O. Box 771101
Lakewood OH 44107


It is very awkward for me to write to your organization for help, but I don’t feel as if I have anywhere else to turn. I have two young daughters, Lindsey (7) and Jessica (9) that attend St Mary’s in Lakewood. As you know, tuition costs have escalated over the years. It also hasn’t helped matters that I was recently laid off from Ford in a position I have held for eleven years. I haven’t been able to find full time work in eleven months, but I continue to feel that God has a plan for me that He has not yet revealed.

Last Sunday started like any other in our household. We always spend the day together as a family, and last weekend was no different. The girls were busy in the kitchen cutting up our “Sunday Salsa” for watching NFL Football together, and my wife Nancy prepared our Sunday dinner. We are all big football fans, and usually spend the day watching NFL games and enjoying each other’s company. Sometimes I even make little bets on the game to heighten our enjoyment. It’s like that radio ad with Randy White that says, “It’s always more fun when you have a little action on the game.”

Last Friday I spoke with my brother in law Mike, who is an orthopedic surgeon in the Miami area. He has an old roommate he went to medical school with that is the Miami Dolphins team doctor. In the course of our conversation, Mike tells me that the Dolphins quarterback Trent Green is suffering from a torn ligament in his throwing arm and won’t be able to start this Sunday. I don’t know what you know about the Dolphins, but their backup QB Cleo Lemon is a complete bum. There is NO WAY he could lead the team to victory over the Jets, especially on the road. It really seemed as if this was my chance to get our family out of our financial situation in one fell swoop. It was like a sign from The Lord. In this life, you don’t get many chances to turn things around, and this seemed like the biggest break I had ever received. On Saturday, I went to the bank and took out what was left of our savings (and the girls tuition money) and called a local bookmaker to bet on the Jets minus the 3.5 points.

Sunday afternoon was a little tense in the house as the girls must have sensed my apprehension at kickoff. The only thing that kept me together was seeing how cute the girls looked in their little Jets cheerleader outfits that Nancy had made them the night before. I first noticed a problem when I saw Trent Green warming up on the sidelines during the pregame. I immediately fired a call into my Brother In Law and said “Mike! What the heck is going on here partner?!? I thought Green was a scratch!!!” Mike, as usual, tried to deflect the blame to his old school buddy, and claimed to have no idea what was going on. (Between you and I, Mike tends to try to always make it seem like other people are to blame for his problems. This wasn’t the first time he’s really screwed me on a deal. He just can never seem to take responsibility for his actions.)

It was really white knuckle time for the whole family as the game started. Still, Green was hurt and as you probably know, the Jets always cover at home in September versus a divisional opponent . We all felt pretty good at halftime with the Jets out in front comfortably. I’ll never forget when we all had a good laugh when little Lindsey said “Daddy, looks like I’ll be able to go to school on Monday.” It even looked like a lock well into the fourth quarter with the Jets up 31-13 with eight minutes left. Then, for no apparent reason, Trent Green started to light up the Jets secondary. They score a touchdown and then get a two point conversion! Why they even went for two, I’ll never know. Now it’s a ten point game with the Jets trying to kill the clock. Instead of picking up a few first downs, they just bang it into the line three times and punt! Then Green drives the Fish down the field, and they score a TD with a minute left…Jets win by 3, and I lose by a half point….A HALF POINT!!!

It was the worst afternoon my family ever had. When the Dolphins scored, I threw a beer bottle through my Sony plasma TV, and my wife started screaming at me. “How could you! How could you?” Sure, when the Jets were up 31-13, she was very supportive. But now? Suddenly I’m the bad guy! Me? She agreed with me the game was a lock. She was right there on it. Now here comes the second guessing…We were screaming at each other and the girls were crying in their rooms. It was truly the worst of times for all of us.

It’s very difficult to write you this letter, but like I said, we have nowhere else to turn. The girls tuition is due next week at $4315 each. They really love their school, and the public schools in my area can’t come close to giving them the education St Mary’s can. Is there any way you could provide our family with $10,984? That would cover the cost of the girls tuition as well as a new replacement Sony SXRD rear projection 55” HD television.

Thank you for your time, and God bless you for the work that you do!

Leo P. Love

Monday, September 24, 2007

Nurse the Hate: Hate Milton Bradley

I’m starting to think Milton Bradley might have a problem with his temper. It’s not everyday you see a player restrained by his manager to avoid the possible beating death of an ump, and it resulting in the guy tearing his ACL. When’s the last time a manager tore his best hitter’s ACL in the final days of a pennant race? I don’t think even Billy Martin pulled that shit.
No one is saying what was said between the first base ump and Bradley, but Bradley was his usual self in his comments afterwards. “It's terrible. And now, because of him, my knee's hurt,” Bradley said Sunday. “If this costs me my season because of that, he needs to be reprimanded. I'm taking some action. I'm not going to stand pat and accept this, because I didn't do nothing wrong.”

The Padres first base coach backed Bradley up in saying that the conversation between the two seemed to bait Bradley, but Milt’s gotta stay in his shoes. It’s also hard to be totally convinced by Bradley’s side of the story with his track record. You might remember him best as the guy that has fought with every team and manager he’s ever had. He called Jeff Kent a racist. That was about six months after calling Eric Wedge a racist. I think the Expos were a racist organization too. He pitched an entire bag of balls in a meltdown in LA in 2004. Shortly afterwards he fired a bottle into the stands there for a four game suspension. I also recall an incident here where he spent a couple hours barfing all over Diana’a 24 Hour Restaurant’s men’s room in Lakewood. (The Indians swept that one under the rug. I‘ll bet Mark Shapiro didn‘t mop up the puke though…) About 6 months later he got pulled over for speeding, and then just drove away while the cop was writing his ticket. That was good for three days in jail. There was that domestic violence charge that popped up, and went away after he calmed the waters at home.

“I'm not going to stand pat and accept this, because I didn't do nothing wrong.” Well, you did completely lose your mind and attack someone blind with rage. And wasn’t it you that had to be taken down by your own manager because you couldn’t control yourself? I don’t think Milton says, “You know what, you’re right. I was totally wrong, and I am 100% responsible for my actions. My mistake!”

Yes, Milton is a really good (not great) baseball player that just can’t seem to stop himself from wanting to cut the eyes out of people‘s skulls and set their screaming bodies on fire when he gets a little pissed . It’s one thing if you’re hitting .320 with 40 bombs and go into rages. Then you are “fiery”. When you hit .285 with 18 Hrs and miss 80 games a year with various ailments? That makes you a psychopath with too much risk for the potential reward. There’s a reason why he’s played for five teams in seven years. I foresee a talented guy that leaves the game too early. He’s making $4,000,000 this year. I don’t think he’s going to be able to make $4,000,000 a year selling office machines. At least not with that temper.

However, if he calls you wanting to sell you a fax machine, better take that call. Imagine the guy in the picture above tossing a Minolta copier through your front window screaming “You want a motherfucking copier now bitch? Huh? Here‘s your fucking copier you piss drinking fuck wad!” Then imagine his local sales manager having a conversation like this…

“Milton? Could you come here a minute? Yeah….Ummm….Did you go over to Galvatech today? Yeah…Ummm….The reason I ask is that Jim from Galvatech called and said you threw a Minolta 550LS though their front window? Yeah….Oh, it’s not your fault….OK…Ok…Well, it’s not me, but we have to call Judy from HR in to get this incident into your file and….Whoa…Whoa! Take it easy Milton! Put the coffee maker down!"

It’s probably best for Milton (and the rest of us) if he can squeak out a few more high grossing years from baseball and stay out of the general population. But just to be safe, if you see a gimpy pissed off looking black guy coming your way trying to sell you a copier, order it now and cancel the order later via voicemail. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Nurse the Hate: Hate College Football

Everybody is getting on Notre Dame with the points against MICHIGAN STATE today, and I don’t understand why. Hasn’t Notre Dame scored one (1) touchdown in three games this season? And haven’t they also allowed 102 points in three games? Why would that translate into them being able to stay within 10 of a 3-0 Michigan State team? True, Michigan State has not been overly impressive in its three wins, but until Notre Dame and “genius” Charlie Weiss can figure out what the hell is going on over there, keep betting against the Domers.

If you look out your window, chances are you’ll see someone with money on Oregon today as 78% of the money out there is on the Ducks. They’re giving Stanford 18. After three straight covers, and a 1-1 Stanford team coming off a blowout loss to UCLA, the money is piling in. Looks like a lay up, doesn’t it? I’d take the Standford +18, and white knuckle it for a late Cardinal score. Remember, the public is always wrong. Always. (But betting on Stanford sure is scary, isn’t it?)

If you’re stuck at a wedding reception, family event, or are just laying prone on the couch today, here’s the way to go on the National/Regional TV games. KENT STATE wins and covers over Akron in the regional game. Kent is actually pretty good this year. A win on the road at Iowa State is a nice win for the program, and losing to KY big is no dishonor. Take the Flashes -2. They’ve got the #1 rushing game in the MAC, and that wins rivalry games. PENN STATE easily covers the -2 over Michigan. As we all know, beating Notre Dame doesn’t mean shit. Michigan lost to Appalachian St and got killed by Oregon. Penn State is a legitimate college football team, and will shut Michigan down. Wisconsin is giving IOWA seven in the prime time game. I think this game will be close, and I would take Iowa and the points if forced to make a choice.

Record this season 5-2. Hey, that ain’t bad!

Random Notes: Good to see Bruce Springsteen (i.e. “Man of The People”) will be coming to your town with the full E Street Band. And at just over $100 per ticket, you can hear “Rosalita”. Again. Maybe you can also pick up a nice $45 t shirt too. Look, the way I see it you can either be A) “The Common Man” and charge something like $30 a seat or B) just come out and say you’re in it for the money. Screw you and that fake Okie shit you are selling….I am going to Cabo San Lucas next week and I have a horrible fear that at some point I will find myself in Sammy Hagar’s bar. Isn’t that the adult version of going to a Frat party? For years I have been the Anti Red Rocker, and to see myself going so close to the Lion’s Den is terrifying. That bar may well be the very epicenter of lame. It is the core of all things sucky. The power of shittiness it must radiate will be awesome to behold. I will be strong and not heed The Siren’s call. At least I hope I will…I picked up The Dexateens “Hardware Healing” CD, and was pleasantly surprised. It’s kind of a shaggy cousin to a Drive By Truckers album (before they became all serious about being the New Voice of the South). And just to confirm what you may have already guessed, The Baby Shambles “Blinding” EP is unlistenable. Oh yeah, Wilco’s “Sky Blue Sky” is pretty sleepy too…Hank III is playing here tonight. It took me awhile to buy in to him, but the last time I saw him with Joe Buck in the band I was really impressed. He was really great. The one thing you must keep in mind though, the crowd had an element of pond scum I have rarely seen at a public event. There were people there that not only do you not see at any shows, I doubt you would see them in any public place. Really scary junkyard dog hillbilly types with eyes spread too far apart on their heads, and stare straight ahead meth/bourbon stares. Suffice to say, any gentlemen attending the performance this evening will have a VERY small chance of meeting an unaccompanied attractive young lady.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Nurse the Hate: Hate Saturday's Action

Today I like UCLA -17 over Utah. UCLA is a much better team than people think right now, and Utah has failed to cover vs Oregon State and Air Force already this year. Last year UCLA beat them 31-10, and this is a better team looking to pad some stats.

I like Florida -8 over an overmatched Tennessee, Washington +4 over Ohio State, and East Carolina +2 over Southern Mississippi. Florida has too much team speed for Tennessee, and they'll lose just like they did to Cal. Ohio State can't score, and that's a problem. Washington should have enough at home. East Carolina is one of those teams that is a freaking covers machine. Love the Pirates!

Also, in what must be the first time all year, Josh Beckett is a +110 underdog at home vs the Yankees. The Yankees came back last night in an impressive win over the Sox (as a nice profitable underdog I might add), but Beckett has been nails. Wang is the Yankees best pitcher, but the Red Sox should be able to scratch out 3 runs to win today. The Red Sox really need this game today, or they're going to start up with all that "going down the shitter" talk in the Boston Globe and NE sports talk radio.

Two weeks to Jermain Taylor vs Kelly Pavlik...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Nurse the Hate: Hate Charlie Frye

Has there ever been a greater demonstration that the initials NFL meant “Not For Long” more than the incredibly fast rise and fall of Charlie Frye? In 2004 Frye was knocking back beers at the University of Akron playing some pretty decent QB well under the radar. Like some kind of storybook, he was drafted in the third round by his hometown team as a “QB of the future” in 2005. That’s just two years ago…Then with the crowd chanting “Charlie! Charlie!” he replaced Super Bowl ring holding QB Trent Dilfer, played OK, and went into last year as the starting QB. You could buy his jersey at Macy’s, he had endorsements, and people loved the scrappy hometown kid.

Of course when you throw 17 interceptions and 10 touchdowns in your first true starting season in 2006, people start grumbling. Next thing you know, in a draft day miracle, an honest to God Golden Boy drops to the Browns at #22 and you’re all but o-u-t. Looking truly outclassed and out of his league, Frye got shipped to Seattle for basically a used George Foreman Grill and a stack of vintage Penthouse Magazines. That guy was a starting QB with upside last year. Now he’s almost out of football. It’s amazing, isn’t it? He has to be on that plane flying West right now thinking, “What the fuck just happened?”.

Random Notes: One of the goals I have this year is to go to a Browns game with a group of guys each wearing the jersey of a Browns QB from 1999-present. You would think that would be easy, right? Like if you were a Packer fan, you would go to the game by yourself in a Favre jersey. A Steeler fan needs to get a few guys together. But being a Browns fan requires more work. You need to get a group of thirteen guys together to really do it right. You’ll also need to buy jerseys of Tim Couch, Ty Detmer, Doug Pederson, Kevin Thompson (remember him?), Spergon Wynn, Kelly Holcomb, Jeff Garcia, Luke McCown, Trent Dilfer, Charlie Frye, Ken Dorsey, Derek Anderson, and now Brady Quinn. That’s a helluva lotta guys under center in eight years, no?…I had a really good syrah from Baldasarri out of Napa tonight. They only made 125 cases of it, so good luck in finding it. If you do, it's well worth the $30 sticker price...Is it just me, or does popular music really suck bad right now? Rock and roll is either at an ebb, or it’s going the way of jazz in the 1970s. There’s hardly any good bands playing what I consider to be “rock and roll” in this region. There’s a few in Cleveland. Columbus has a pair…maybe. I don’t know what’s going on in Pittsburgh right now. Buffalo is struggling. It’s like 1974 out there. Without ELO and El Caminos though….I went 3-0 on the picks I gave you last weekend. If you creeps didn't get on that action, it's not my fault. Uncle Greg can only lead you to the water. I can't make you take a long cool refreshing drink. But here's some good news...I will be releasing my five star lock of the week by this Friday night, so check back for a guaranteed winner. Bet as much as you want to win, because the Swami can see into the future with crystal clear vision right now.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Nurse the Hate: Napa Valley

I just returned from Napa Valley after a long weekend of extensive "wine tasting". Not to sound like a curmudgeon, but Napa has really moved from a place showcasing artisan wines to a bit of an upscale tourist trap. To those of you that have never traveled there, Napa Valley is a stretch of land between four small towns that houses a couple hundred wineries. These can vary in size from Robert Mondavi (a few million cases produced) to El Molino (a couple thousand cases produced). The idea used to be for wineries to create a simple tasting room to enable would be consumers to try their wines, and hopefully purchase some on the way to becoming long time brand loyalists. Tastings were free, or may be $5.00 for five wines (that would be redeemable upon a purchase at the winery). Things have changed....

Napa has now become a real pissing contest between the mighty rulers of American business owners. You truly have not made it in society until you have your own extravagant winery and high scoring/high priced wine. What could be more immortal (and egotistical) than to have consumers pay $100 a bottle to drink your name (and symbolically consume your blood or self)? What better way to stick it up the ass of your buddies at the country club than to serve a pompous sounding wine with your name on it? Here's a few red wine cabernet blend names currently available (and I'm not making these up). Dominus...Etude...Quintessa...Rubicon...Apadana...HaLo...

Dude, it's fermented grape juice. And you've been making wine for 15 minutes.

Many of these wineries are now engaged in creating an economy not based on quality, but rather of conspicuous consumption. "Hey, if it's $135 a bottle and $15 to even try the wine, it's gotta be good! Sure, they only have two vintages under their belt, but that high profile wine consultant knows what he's doing, right? He must have even spent a couple days at the vineyard!" In the world of fine wine, everyone wants to be at the top. No one wants to be known as the good value bottling. Like everything else, the key is to know where to go to avoid the rubes.

Take a drive up the twisting dangerous Spring Mountain Rd. If you know where to look (and have an appointment), you can pay a visit to the cranky Smith Brothers at Smith Madrone. In 1971, these two iconoclasts reclaimed part of the mountainside that had been a vineyard in the late 1800s. They make a chewy mountain Cabernet, a fabulous chardonnay, and a Riesling just because they feel like it. Cantankerous, gruff, smart, and doing what they damn well please since 1971. These are my kind of guys. They don't care about the current fashion, the wine press, the hip restaurant wine lists of the moment, or the denizens of the trendy shops in the valley below. They're making wine the way they like it, because that's what they do. They don't make a lot of it. They don't charge too much for it (though they could, and probably get away with it).

We stopped up there (with an appointment I might add) and Charles was nice enough to pour us their Cabernet and Riesling while he continued to press the freshly harvested chardonnay grapes from the morning's pass through the vineyard. There's no better way to spend an hour than to talk to a couple crotchety guys with a dry sense of humor about their wine, the sudden incomprehensible appeal of gruner veltliner, tourists, and shooting guns. I don't know how much longer they'll be able to keep at it up there, but as long as they do, I'm on board. If you get the chance, pay them a visit and buy some wine. But for God's sake, call first. They might be busy.

Here's a quick list of other highly recommended wines from this trip off the top of my head....

Kuleto Estates Zin and Syrah: Confident wines with pure expressions of fruit. I think they managed to capture the spirit of the place they were from, or as the French say, the terroir. If these wines were a band, they would be The Tailgators.

Arrowood Estates: Every one of the wines in this portfolio was excellent. They have an elegance and restraint that should not be first misunderstood for lack of gumption. I especially liked the Viognier, both Syrahs (though the Saralee's Vineyard was a bit more exotic), and a remarkable cabernet value. If these wines were a band, they'd be the Kinks circa 1966-68 .

Brown Family: I only had the zinfandel at dinner at Christine's Backstreet Kitchen, but it was really great. There was a real enthusiam in the bottle that I would compare to The Dictators "Go Girl Crazy".

Rudd Estates: Top to bottom these are terrific wines that you can tell no expense was spared in the production. The chardonnay may be a bit oaky for some, but the fruit gives you a strong enough backbone for it. The two estate Cabernet are big, complex, and worth the money. I'd recommend going with the $60 bottling over the $100 one as the differences in quality is certainly not worth the $40. The wines are kind of snooty, but in a Paris Hilton bang-you-in-the-limo kind of way. Is that like a Roxy Music record? I dunno, I was never a fan. But it's what I think Roxy Music is like.

Chateau St Jean: I want to hate this winery since it was sold to beverage conglomerate Fosters, but I'll be damned if the wines aren't top notch. If you have to buy a bottle of white wine to take to someones house for dinner, pick up their Fume Blanc (a fancy way of saying Sauvignon Blanc aged in wood barrels). It's $12 and it's great. You literally can't go wrong with any of their wines. We picked up a mix case on the cheap and shipped it home. Even if you can't remember anything about wine, remember this producer and you'll be fine. It'll save you from looking like a jackass at some point. These wines are mass appeal and still really good like the Stones "Some Girls" record.

Plumpjack: This is another winery I want to hate because they're just so goddamn cute and faux artsy. The problem is that the wines are fabulous. If I had to drink one chardonnay from Napa, it would be their Reserve. (Please note, this claim does not include Sonoma, France, etc...) The Cabernet is gigantic, complex, fruity, and very adult. The Syrah is a friggin pistol. These wines are like Camper Van Beethoven. Just when you want to get pissed because they are being sophomore art students, they drop a monster song on you.

Gambling Note: I am very pleased at myself for getting on Toronto at Boston vs Schilling. At +145, I made up for a huge lapse in judgement when I bet on the Braves this weekend. I am loving Penn State over Notre Dame this weekend. I do not believe we have yet to grasp how bad Notre Dame is this year. This is a revenge game for Penn State after they got spanked by the Irish last year at South Bend. Also, I love the over on the Middle Tenn State/Louisville game on TH night. If Midd Tenn State gave up 27 to Florida International, how are they going to stop Louisville? I also like the under in the NO/Indy game. This time of year the offenses aren't clicking at 100% yet. Plus, everyone I talk to think it's going way over. Conclusion? The public is wrong again, and you can make some scratch on the under.