Monday, December 31, 2007

Nurse the Hate: Hate Bowl Week

As we all know, there’s nothing else to do this week but drink and gamble wildly. What else are you going to do? Go to some crappy movie at the Multiplex like National Treasure 2, or whatever Xmas drek they’ve thrown out there? “Oh! It was such a cute movie! The little boy is so cute. The kids loved it!”


Let’s get down to brass tacks. We’ve got a bunch of college football going off today and tomorrow, and nobody knows anything. These guys haven’t played a game in 6 weeks. On top of that, they’re 20 years old, single and running around exotic locales chasing tail and knocking back free booze and steak. Who’s going to be ready to play when the hotly contested Chick-Fil-A Bowl kicks off this afternoon? Hey, I don’t know but that’s not going to stop me from throwing some action down. New Year’s Eve is almost always a bust, so the key to maintaining some interest in the night is to have some scratch down on that Indiana v Oklahoma State game playing without sound on the TV in the local watering hole. You know you are going to be standing there with a stupid paper cone party hat with a Bud Light draft in your hand anyway. You can watch Carson Daly or the exhumed corpse of Dick Clark if you want. I’m going to stay focused on the otherwise meaningless Florida State fourth quarter 38 yard field goal to push the Music City Bowl over 58.5.

Here are the plays to get you off to a good start in 2008…

Air Force/Cal under 56.5…Public opinion says this will be a shoot out between a highly motivated Air Force team and a Cal team eager to disprove that they have no heart. As we all know, the public is always wrong. This is going to be a 24-13 snooze fest. Air Force will play out of their shoes for awhile, but Cal’s better athletes will win out. Regardless, there won’t be as many points as folks think. Cal hasn’t scored more than 20 since Oct. Air Force hasn’t played the talent the Pac 10 throws out there. UNDER

Oregon/South Florida over 52…Notice a trend? I don’t know who’s gonna win, and I don’t care. Neither should you. Oregon plays a spread offense like Pitt. Pitt scored 37 points on South Florida in the last game of the season, and Pitt has a bunch of tier two players. Oregon is like the Miami of the Pacific NW. These guys are thugs, rapists, murderers, and probably late returning video rentals. They also can play ball. They had a ton of injuries, and they should be close to healthy now. South Florida is a legit team that scored over 33 points in its last 4 games. This will be some kind of 38-35 highlight fest.

Indiana/Oklahoma State over 69.5…This is a line that is a trick. No one wants to bet over 70. It’s insane, right? As you read this, there’s some rube in the sports book at the Mirage that is saying to his dimwit buddies, “Sixty nine and a half? No way they score that many! This is a lock you guys! Who wants in with me? I’m gonna lay this in, and then let’s go to the Hard Rock and score some chicks.” Flash forward…It’s 2:30am, and this guy has a worthless betting slip, an empty packet of heavily cut biker coke, and an escort service phone number in his pocket. He can’t find his phone. His buddies all went over to this “off the hook party” at Studio 54. He’s got a bottle of Heineken and he’s leaning against the wall at the Barbary Coast. Take the over.

New Year’s Day: I cannot stress this enough. Get on USC. They had devastating injuries all season long. They are the best team in the country and they will DESTROY Illinois tomorrow. I don’t care if they’re giving them 20. Take USC. Unless Pete Carrol and Co. just don’t care, this will be a laugher.

Random Note: Don't be the jackass that rings in the new year with some crappy Korbel or "sparkling wine". Those Frenchies have had hundreds of years to figure out how to make good champagne. (By the way, unless the wine came from the Champagne region of France, it is considered sparkling wine. Let people know that you know the difference.) Go for a bottle of Gosset. It's one of the oldest champagne houses in France, but just doen't know how to market itself. You should be able to find a bottle for about $35 in most finer wine shops...I still have that Corona Light if anyone wants it.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Nurse the Hate: Hate Gifts

Sometimes the senseless consumerism of Xmas really brings me down. The stress of finding that perfect gift can drive you insane. Instead of relaxing with family and friends, you find yourself in a fistfight at an overcrowded mall with a rotund Albanian woman over a cotton v neck sweater. Sure, that old woman has a glass jaw, but I'm Irish, so I'm a bleeder. No one wants to explain at Xmas dinner that the cut above your eyelid came from a 64 year old woman that you exchanged roundhouse rights with by the cash register at Ann Taylor.

The problem is even after you have made that purchase, you just don't know if it was just the right thing...How do you know for sure? Is your lady friend going to like that plastic gift set of scented bath oils? (Of course not, but she'll be polite about it.) Is that the right socket set for your father? (No, but he'll chuck it in his tool box with the other shitty tools you bought him for Father's Day/Birthday/last Xmas.) Will those candlesticks you bought the in laws say "I like you" or will they say "Look, I don't know what you are interested in and I really don't care. Take this as a symbol of my acknowledging the social contract of having to buy you something during this holiday. I just didn't want to spend too much." If only someone could provide guidance on what people really want for Xmas.

Good news...Here's the last gift guide you will ever need.

1) The Surefire Beast II is the world's most powerful flashlight. It throws off 2000 lumen. How much is that? It's like being able to turn on the sun. It is the equivalent of one hundred and thirty regular flashlights. Who wouldn't want to turn on a beam like a lighthouse onto your neighbors on command? It's about $4000, so give it to someone special. You can order it here

2) Fireworks are the gift that keeps on giving! Everyone loves to light off fireworks, but nobody likes to pay for them. Your loved ones will think of you when they blow off their fingers with such incendiary treats as "The Deadly Peril", "Fishbowl Commotion", and "Uncle Sam's Answer". US Fireworks will ship anywhere.

3) Spice up that company "Secret Santa" gift exchange with a gift certificate from that "Asian Health Spa" out by the truckstop. Just think of the nervous laughter of your co workers as you either A) naively pretend that you don't know what happens during a "full service" massage at Tokyo Moon Health Spa or B) talk about how you go there ALL THE TIME and you have never been as relaxed as after your "regular Friday nighter". A good thing to say might be "Make sure and use my name when you get there, or they'll try to pawn you off on the old lady."

4) You know that Lexus advertising when the husband shows his wife he really loves her by buying her a Lexus SUV with a big bow on it? That shit is weak. Show her how much you really care buy buying her a Mig 21UM fighter jet. While her friends are tied up in traffic in their luxury import trucks, she'll be streaking across the sky at mach 2. I don't know if this one comes with the standard 23 mm twin barrel cannons, but that's an option they probably don't have at the Lexus dealership. Sure, maybe running through 787 gallons of jet fuel might be pricey, but if she was looking at SUVs it's not like she cares about fuel cost/environment/global warming anyway. You can buy it here

5) Need something for the guy that has everything? Why, how about a mammoth skeleton? What could be more impressive in a foyer or front yard than a ten foot high/seventeen foot long mammoth? An instant conversation starter, this gift will be a hit! "Hey John, I was getting the mail yesterday when I noticed you have a 17 foot mammoth skeleton in your yard. Looks great!"

With this handy guide, and some disposable income, you are sure to make the Holidays a joyous occasion for all. What better way to celebrate when Santa brought baby Jesus to the manger on the Island of Misfit Toys? God Bless Each and Every One of Us!

Random Notes: I got my ass handed to me on the NFL yesterday. Why I bet meaningless late season games, I don't know. I just got caught up in the orgy of booze and reckless behavior that takes over at my house on December Gameday. It is so difficult to figure out which teams are mailing it in, and who is actually trying to win games this time of year...Need a good wine to take over to Grandma's house that won't break the bank? Pick up a bottle of Seghesio Red Zin (preferably the Sonoma bottling)...I just listened to a Merge Records comp that was attached to a Harp Magazine, and I have to say how impressed I am. Normally when you get those comps, you are pleasantly surprised to find a song you like. In this case, about two thirds of the bands have good stuff on there. That might be the most impressive roster of bands on any indie label right now...It's a tough break when company gets into your Great Lakes Brewing Commodore Perry IPA and Lagunitas Pils when they came with a twelve of Corona Light

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Nurse the Hate: Hate The Dream

Today when I asked this guy how he was doing, without a touch of irony, said he was "living the dream". I should point out that he sells cars for a living, so clearly as a boy his dreams must have been modest, and therefore very obtainable. I should also point out, that as a car salesman, I should not have been surprised by this response. It's not all bad though. It reminded me of a story I should tell you about Robert Gordon.

To those of you somehow uninitiated into the ins and outs of the 1980s rockabilly revival, Robert Gordon was one of the big "stars". He was signed to a major label (CBS maybe?), had a booming voice, and had Link Wray in tow as his guitar player. This guy had the total package. He played all obscure rockabilly cover tunes, which at the time were almost rumors more than actual songs you could get your hands on. All the stuff was out of print, so if you somehow figured out Johnny Burnette was cool, you'd have to shell out $58 for a used 45 or bad English album pressing. It was like Robert Gordon had access to a great record collection you didn't know even existed. On top of that, he was really good. Then factor in that he was dropping these amazing songs on your head that you had never heard before. Hell, Springsteen even gave him "Fire" to record. Like I said, he was en fuego.

Let's fast forward to the late 1990s. Robert Gordon got dropped by his label after a bunch of records, and Link split to go to Europe. He completely dropped out of sight for years until some well intentioned soul in Columbus decided to get Robert out on tour again. They may have been small rooms, but Robert and His Handler treated them like they were stadium shows. Detroit's Twistin' Tarantulas acted as his backing band, and Robert picked up a nice little check in places like Wilbert's in Cleveland, Little Brother's in Columbus, etc. Our band (The Cowslingers) landed the gig to open for him, and I was really excited to see him play. The fact we got to play too was all gravy. He was one of the guys that really sparked my interest in rockabilly, and I must've listened to his versions of "Lonesome Train", "The Way I Walk", and "Black Slacks" a million times.

We played our quick set, and I walked "backstage" (which was really the kitchen, office and parking garage at Wilbert's). The Twistin Tarantulas started their set, and the plan was Robert would join them in the middle as they played some sort of grand entrance music for him. As I sat there in the office cooling off, a distracted Robert Gordon walks in with His "Handler" leading the way. I introduced myself, and he looked past me while shaking my hand. "Hey ya...howya doin'..." The Handler asked Robert if he needed anything, and Robert sent him on a quest for water and towels (just like Elvis!). Suddenly it was quiet and uncomfortable as Robert, my brother Ken, and I all stared at each other. None of us really had anything to say, and we all hesitated to initiate conversation.

The Handler then returns, and says Robert has to go (to the parking garage to get away from us I guess). So as Robert Gordon exits, he pointed to us while simultaneously snapping his finger and said "Keep the dream alive.". Pow!

So now when I hear a car salesman tell me he's "living the dream", I think of Robert Gordon.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Nurse the Hate: Overrated Bands

We have a long running argument/parlor game in the van regarding who should or should not be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It's at this point, I'd like to point out how ridiculous a Hall of Fame is for rock n roll. Rock is an art form like writing, painting, or photography. "Dude, can you believe Manet got in the Paint Hall? His shit is so derivative of Monet." Now, substitute a couple names... "Dude, can you believe Aerosmith got in the Rock Hall? Their shit is so derivative of the Stones!" See what I mean? It's pretty stupid.

For the sake of the parlor game though, let's agree with the very concept of the Rock Hall. After you've put in the pillars of rock (i.e. Beatles/Stones/Dylan/Zeppelin), you start to run into the issue of which arguably marginal or nominal artist you admit into the Hall. Admission in this game is based primarily on artistic accomplishment with a small concession on sales. Example, Velvet Underground is "in" despite selling 14 records when they were together. Despite not releasing a worthwhile song since 1977, Aerosmith is "in" due to a huge commercial resurgence and career longevity. See what I mean? Now you've got yourself a game! There is no right or wrong, but it's a great way to start arguments in a van traveling 85 mph down the highway.

Buffalo Springfield in or out? Out! Buffalo Springfield is one of the most overrated bands ever. Yes, they had Neil Young, Steven Stills, and Richie Furay as members. Their big claim to fame was a six week residency at the Whiskey Au Go Go that is steeped in romantic revisionism. Here's the bottom line. They were together for two years, recorded three albums that were essentially solo tracks by whoever wrote the song while the rest of the band played backup. "For What It's Worth" is the only song that charted (and only song John Q. Public knows by the band). Those guys were all good, but this wasn't when they showed what they really could do. Those guys all got in the rock hall with their "real" bands. Do we have to suck their asses with this too?

Iggy Pop in or out? Out! This written statement will get me in many arguments in stinky punk rock bars, but I can back it up. The Stooges are a separate entity onto themselves, but they are no sure thing either. Let's say The Stooges had some great moments. I'd say "Raw Power" is overrated and "The Stooges" is underrated. It's really cool stuff, but didn't the Velvets and the MC5 do the same thing, but a little better? Now, let's peel back the cover on Iggy's VERY spotty solo career. With the exception of side one of the Lust For Life album, I challenge you to come up with 5 great songs in the last 25 years. (Note, I'm not asking for 5 great albums. I am asking for 5 great songs.) Whattya got? "Candy"? "Five Foot One"? "Nightclubbing"? That cupboard is a little bare for 25 years of work, no? Maybe if he had put more than 15 minutes into writing some lyrics, it would be different. Out!

The Pretenders in or out? Out! That first Pretenders album sure seemed dangerous at the time, didn't it? Now it sounds quaint, and a little spotty. The second album was even a little more thin. Then the guitar and bass player died from drugs, and the Pretenders became the No Doubt of the late Eighties with songs like "Back On the Chain Gang" and "Thin Line Between Love and Hate". After you get past the novelty of the band being fronted by a woman, The Jam's discography looks a lot more impressive. Hell, you could make a comparison to Squeeze and not be out of the ballpark.

Stone Temple Pilots in or out? Out! They really seemed like non stop hit machines when grunge was morphing into metal with a new set of fashion rules. (Spandex out! Flannel in! Jack Daniels out! Heroin in! Songs about girls out! Songs about isolation in!) Those guys had fifteen top ten singles. Fifteen!?! five of them. Even tougher...recite the lyrics to any of them. Those guys might have sold a shitload of records, but as far as I can see, they were the Bad Company of the late 90s. Years from now you'll see them playing a set in a packaged oldies tour out in an outdoor shed. You'll be knocking back a $12 Coors Light draft, wishing someone had given you a parking pass for The Gold Parking Lot, and thinking to yourself, "Oh yeah! I remember that tune!". Same thing happened to me in 1995 while I was working at a classic rock radio station, except it was with the band Loverboy. Enough said...

Random Notes: Floyd Mayweather proved once again he is The Man. He may be cocky as hell, but he can back it up. He took everything that bulldog Ricky Hatton could throw at him, and knocked his ass out cold. If you look around that weight class, the only one left is Cotto and I don't think he's ready. If Floyd can get him in the ring now, he could cash out with a big payday and a legacy as one of the all time greats. Viva Floyd!!!...Dallas looks very impressive in the NFC, and you may have heard the Pats are doing well in the AFC. It's hard to imagine anyone beating either of those teams in the playoffs. Hopefully we'll catch few heavy spreads and fade 'em... Everybody is getting on the Colts this week -10.5 vs Oakland. As we all know, the public is ALWAYS WRONG, so take a look at Oakland with the points. That line may move to 11.5 by kickoff. Also, I like Buffalo +5.5 against the Browns this week. Cleveland may win, but Buffalo will do what they always do and just sort of hang around...I like watching Amy Winehouse running around fucked up on drugs, in her bra, and crying about her husband. It's great that you can package that amazing voice in a total train wreck of a person. She's like a punk British version of Brittany.