Saturday, March 31, 2012

Nurse the Hate: Hate Baseball 2012

Baseball is ready to start, and I see this as a great money making opportunity. I love to bet on season win totals, especially the under. Is there any better way to spend a Summer than rooting actively against a team you would otherwise have no interest in whatsoever? In the past, I have really enjoyed cursing obscure players like Orlando Hudson when he made an otherwise meaningless RBI single in the 8th inning of a Padres v Rockies game. Why deny myself that sort of pleasure again this year?

Let's start with what is I believe the best opportunity on the board. I am going to bet against my hometown Cleveland Indians and go UNDER 79 wins. I read about this team every single day. Here's what I can tell you. The organization is using phrases like "cautiously optimistic" and "maybe competitive". This is not the swagger of a winning team. This is the talk of a team ready to win 75 games and "evaluate young talent" in September. The Indians have a few issues. The high risk trade for Ubaldo Jimenez looks like a bust. All last season and so for into Spring Training Ubaldo has been taking 90 pitches to get through 5 unspectacular innings. He looks like what he was when the Rockies traded him, a 4.something ERA pitcher with mechanics issues. Carmona/Hernandez is still stuck in the Dominican, where he continues to fall further out of shape. That leaves Masterson/Tomlin/Lowe. Not exactly Halladay/Lee/Hamels. There is no left fielder or third baseman. Astrubal Cabrera came to camp out of condition. Sizemore is out and probably kaput. The closer blew out his obliques on his first bullpen session. This team looks like cannon fodder for the AL elite to kick the crap out of, and then they win 55% of the other games. Last year they finished with 80 wins after a HUGE April/May. That ain't gonna happen in 2012. INDIANS UNDER 79.

Another team I pay a great deal of attention to is my beloved San Francisco Giants. Last year they were the worst offensive team I have ever seen. They literally had one guy that could hit the ball in Pablo Sandoval. Manager Bruce Bochy's bizarre unwillingness to pull over-the-hill struggling vets from a lineup combined with having only one real hitting prospect was a killer combination. Still, these guys can pitch like a motherfucker. I'd take Lincecum/Cain/Bumgarner over any other starting three. Add in the unlikely rise of Ryan Voglesong, and suddenly there are plenty of 2-1 games all season long. Despite having NO OFFENSE all season, they still won 86 games. This season Buster Posey is back behind the plate, replacing Eli Whiteside who gives me a good idea of what I might look like batting in a MLB game. Freddy Sanchez will get hurt again at some point, because that is what Freddy Sanchez does, but that guy has always hit. Brandon Belt is making it impossible not to take at bats from floundering Aubrey Huff. While these guys won't hit like the Texas Rangers, all they need to do is get 3 or 4 runs a game to win. Vegas has their total at 87 wins. Last year they won 86 with all those injuries. Take SAN FRANCISCO OVER 87.

Want to get gutsy? Let's take a look at the New York Mets. I think this team is going to be pretty bad. They have managed to spend millions of dollars on a team that has David Wright and a bunch of guys. The pitching should be kinda crappy, especially when Johan Santana is the bright spot. Didn't he just successfully do some long toss about a month ago? Every time you read or hear something about the Mets it is about how horrible the organization is and doom and gloom and more doom. That's because they are in New York, and there is a lot of media content that needs to be filled. It's a lot easier to write about how the Mets are going to bungle the 2012 season than it is to write, the Mets aren't going to be that exciting. The over/under is at 71.5. You have to field a really horrible team like the Astros to only win 70 games. The Mets aren't going to be good. They are going to be a little less than OK. They have some average MLB players that will do average MLB things. I think you can white knuckle a 73-74 win season here. If you choose to be emotionally invested in a Sept 26th Mets v Marlins game, that's up to you. It'll be close but I like the METS OVER 71.5.

I just took a close hard look at the Houston Astros. Wow. That's a bad looking baseball team. I've only heard of two everyday players, and one of them (Carlos Lee) is so far into the twilight of his career we may have to come up with a new phrase like "dusk of his career". They scored the fourth least runs in the NL despite playing in a hitter's park. Their first two starters are OK, but the #3 through #5 and anyone else on the farm has an ERA of well above 5.25. That's not going to get it done in the National League. Last year they won 56 games, and they still had Hunter Pence. This year Vegas has the over/under at 63 games. They did nothing to improve themselves, so they are going to win eight more games because of what exactly? Krusty and I are both way in on HOUSTON UNDER 63, as it will give Ken another hometown team to root against when he is in Austin. I like the idea of him sitting in an almost empty sports bar in Texas on a Tuesday night drinking a Lone Star, and pumping his fist with a "YES!" when Astro Jed Lowrie flails at a 1-2 sinker with two outs in the bottom of the ninth securing a 6-2 loss.

Fuck the Indians and Astros. Let's go Giants and Mets. Play ball!


Friday, March 30, 2012

Nurse the Hate: The Dog Story

Be forewarned, this is the most awful pet story I have ever heard. It is so awful, it is almost beyond comprehension. Because of this very reason, I would often put a friend of mine into a position of telling the story in the most improper settings humanly possible. I would like to say this was as a way to make him serve some kind of vigilante penance for the actions I am about to describe, but frankly it was more because I liked to see the awkwardness of the moment roll out in front of me like a wave. It goes like this…

I had a roommate that lived in a more rural environment that I was raised. His father was an avid outdoorsman. He used to hunt, trap, fish, the whole bit. The family had a dog that was more than a family pet; he served a purpose when Dad went hunting flushing game and fetching downed birds. Eventually the dog became old and lame and the time had come to put him down. The problem was that no one in the family could bring themselves to drive the dog to the vet to do the deed. The conversation within the family turned to putting the dog’s life to an end in a way that was humane without having to make that drive to the vet.

It was never made clear to my friend Brian, and hence to myself either, as to why the family just didn’t have the vet come out to them and inject the dog. Instead, they decided to handle it themselves. This is where some rather questionable decision making began to happen. It was decided to put the dog in the garage with the car running, where it was believed the dog would then quietly fall into eternal sleep. The car was started, the dog put in the garage, and they waited. They opened the door to collect the dog’s body, when out walked the dog. Hmmm….. Maybe put him in there longer? They tried again, waiting longer for the fumes to do their work. Once again, the dog hobbled out of the cloud of exhaust none the wiser.

This had become a real problem. No one agreed on what to do next. The issue was briefly tabled, weighing heavily on the family’s mind. Dad went to work. Mom went to work. The kids went to school. My friend Brian was about 8 years old at this time. He had older brothers, they eldest was about 16. Being the eldest son, he decided to step up and handle the problem for the family. While it would be difficult, he was sure that everyone’s gratitude would be showered on him after they recognized how he had “manned up” and done the dirty work.

Perhaps inspired by tearjerker “Old Yeller”, Brian’s brother decided he would take one of the hunting rifles and take the dog out to the field behind their house and end the dog’s life. He walked the dog out back and put the rifle down. He used a pick and shovel to dig a grave for the dog. When he had dug the hole far enough down, he placed the dog in the hole. He lifted the rifle and took aim at the dog’s skull. He pulled the trigger. CLICK. Misfire. While he tried to see what was wrong with the gun, the dog had by this time wandered out of the hole and was hobbling around the field. He got the dog back in the hole and tried again. CLICK. Misfire again.

Brian at this part of the story usually mentions that there must have been a half dozen excellent hunting rifles in the house, yet his brother for some reason chose to use the oldest and least reliable. It was a decision that would prove to be a bad one. The third time was the charm. Brian’s brother took aim at the dog in the hole and the gun went off. Somehow, someway he had hit the dog but not put him down. The dog was howling in pain. Panic set in on Brian’s brother. He knew he had to put the dog out of its misery, but couldn’t risk another couple misfires. That’s when he grabbed the pick and killed the dog.

The only reason that eight year old Brian knew that his brother grabbed the pick was that he had been watching the entire horrific event unfold from the family room window. Even now he can recall with startling clarity the final images of his brother and the beloved family dog. I like to think of one of those teenage slasher films, or The Shining when Nicholson has the axe. How he ever looked at his brother the same way, I can’t tell you. I would have been shaking in a closet for six or seven years after witnessing that, but people that grow up in the country the way he did are a little more matter of fact. Let’s be honest though, that was brutal even for them.

Terrible story, right? Might as well turn lemons into lemonade… I would wait for the opportunity when Brian and I would be with civilized company, like at a dinner or a party with really uptight people. I would pray for the opening when someone would mention their dog, so I could casually say, “Didn’t you used to have a dog Brian?” Without fail, the next thing that would happen would be someone would say, “What happened to your dog?” Everyone would then become quiet and look to Brian to explain. That meant it was on. I would always make sure he would have to tell the complete story. The look of horror on people’s faces as I would force him to tell what might be the most devastating animal story ever told was astonishing. Women especially would look at him like he was Nazi war criminal Dr. Joseph Mengle. All throughout NE Ohio, many people think of Brian and his family as horrible monsters.

Placing him in that uncomfortable situation was how I kept myself entertained for approximately seven years at parties. I gotta go to a dinner party with that guy again soon.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Nurse the Hate: Hate Taco Bell

I don't know how many commercials Taco Bell bought for that crappy new Doritos taco, but they sure did buy plenty of spots in NCAA basketball. It seems inconceivable that you haven't seen the commercial, but let me give you the quick rundown. A car full of scruffy young friends that appear to have just come from an Urban Apparel ad drive over 900 miles to get access to this limited edition taco from Taco Bell last year. The food item is a taco exactly like they normally sell, but made from a shell that is a giant nacho cheese Dorito.

I'm all in for a good road trip. Hell, I just drove across Kansas to play rock music in a shitty basement in San Antonio. That being said, even I with my distorted sense of priorities cannot come up with a scenario in which I drive 900 miles to eat Taco Bell. As most of us know by now, Taco Bell fills their tacos with something that cannot be called by even the liberal USFDA standards "meat". Let's also be honest. All Taco Bell food items are essentially the same thing, a variety of combinations of "meat", tortillas, cheese, refried beans, and tortilla chips. If you order food from Taco Bell, you should really just focus on what is the cheapest item per ounce, as it really doesn't make any difference. The beef burrito begot the Taco from whence came the quesadilla that spawned the gordita. It's the same shit.

So this a-hole in the commercial thinks to himself, "Man... A Taco Bell taco made from a Dorito. I can't even get my head wrapped around that. It seems incredible. There is no way I could recreate that taste by buying a bag of Doritos from the Speedway and dumping it into my nacho supreme. No. I better get my friends and drive 900 miles to a Taco Bell location to really experience all life has to offer and try it firsthand."

This guy literally must have driven by dozens of outstanding Mexican restaurants on his way to that Taco Bell location. For about 14 hours those assholes drove across America to eat that shitty food. Every four hours when they would stop to gas up, they would have reminded each other not to eat any roller dogs or microwave burritos from the gastric wonderland of the highway gas stations across this Great Nation of ours. "Jeremy! We only have seven more hours! Save your appetite! Dorito tacos in 400 more miles!"

28 hours round trip. Hundreds of dollars in gas. The payoff? A Taco Bell taco made from a Dorito. In case you ever wonder why people from other countries want to blow us up, that's it right there.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Nurse the Hate: South By Southwest

Last week I participated in and attended the South By Southwest music festival. This is the second time I have done so, the first being in 1999 with the Cowslingers. There have been plenty of changes to the festival since my original visit there, but the concept remains the same. A kazillion unsigned and independent bands converge in the uber hip city of Austin to chase the dream. In 1999 the dream was to get signed to some bigger record label and then become as popular as Bon Jovi. Now the dream is to find somebody to give you a bunch of money to use one of your songs in a Taco Bell commercial. The ends justify the means Comrade.

When we arrived in Austin we pulled up outside the Austin Convention Center to check in and get our registration materials. The Convention Center is a huge fucking building that hosts trade shows and God knows what else, but today it was like a thrift store exploded and everyone that worked in a coffee shop in a thousand mile radius had on the clothes. Literally everyone in the place had on their "Special South By Southwest Outfit". Thousands of staunch individuals all dressed vaguely the same in skinny pants rolled up like Billy Budd style capris. Almost every wispy male had an ironic mustache and white Ray-Ban wayfarer sunglasses on, leaving the unsettling impression that the area was filled with James Taylor clones circa 1972. Women all had magic gypsy sundresses and special boots. Everyone looked like that they had tried really hard to look like they were not trying at all.

I was handed a directory to the festival listing the 2000 bands and 90 venues. Try to wrap your head around that. It was so overwhelming, I opened it for a quick scan and closed it. It's too much. I have no idea how you could even get your arms around the event. I have a hard time thinking of 100 bands I like in the history of recorded music. Even if the exhumed corpse of Howlin Wolf was doing a set this year, I have no idea how I could even find him in the overkill of it all. How in the world would anyone come to see us? How would you decide, "You know, there are 1999 other bands, but this fucked up cowboy punk rock thing looks pretty cool. Let's make sure to not miss that show upstairs at that weird dance club that normally never holds live music events on Tuesday at 11:00 p.m."? I don't know how people found us, but they did.

So Austin is this town with a bunch of great live music clubs, and a ton of awesome bands that base out of it. It also has every affected dude from your high school that had a journal, got Cs in art class, and started smoking non filtered cigarettes because it made him think he looked like Jack Kerouac. That guy will probably slowly bring you your plate of bar-b-que and Shiner Bock as you roast in the Texas sun until he gets off work and his shitty band has a gig at a "performance space" in a basement that smells strongly of cat urine. His girlfriend is off from her 20 hour a week gig at the used book store, and she is home making poor quality costume jewelry she will try to sell from a shabby card table on the street this weekend. One of the girls I saw earlier in a magic gypsy sundress will remark how "amazing" one of the necklaces are, and offer her three dollars and a puppy for the $15 marked item. This will be denied, but all will be OK when everyone consuls each other with an "It's cool". Sorry... I was around way too many hipster dudes last week.

The one thing that South By Southwest does show you is that there is no shortage of decent quality bands. Everyone there can play, and most are probably a pretty big deal in whatever little local scene they drove in from. Meanwhile the massive amount of bloggers, web content providers, cable TV reporters, and journalists are all walking around busy chronicling their version of what is going on. You literally can't walk a block without seeing someone do something that someone else feels is worthy of being recorded for posterity. Guys in tight used t-shirts stare into video cameras explaining why the childlike painting they just made on a wall is important. The man holding the camera nods knowingly. Three people stand and watch as if this is being taped, that guy must be somebody. Content being produced to become commentary which is content which will need to be commented on and so on and so on.

I jotted down a complete tour diary of our experience going from Cleveland to Cincinnati to Missouri to Texas and back again. This week I will start to get it down on the Whiskey Daredevils website. I'm still not really sure what the hell happened.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Nurse the Hate: Hate the Clock

I know I must be getting old because I have several friends staring down death in the form of horrible diseases, and another that escaped a heart attack death with the finesse of a trapeze artist. I find it especially odd to see my ex-girlfriend battle breast cancer, a good musician friend go the distance with lung cancer, and a heart attack victim among my contemporaries as I really feel exactly the same as I did when I was 22. Who are these old people I know facing old people health problems? Oh wait… I’m their age too. I recognize the gray hair and wrinkles forming around my eyes, but still, what the fuck? How did I allow this to happen?

I had always assumed that when you got older you have all the answers, and moved confidently into the future. I now know this is a complete lie. Wouldn’t you have freaked out when you were seven if you had realized your parents had no fucking clue what they were doing? As you comfortably laid your little head to rest, your parents were probably saying things like “Cable TV is a fad. Who would ever pay for something like TV?” and “You know, that O.J. Simpson seems like a nice fellow!”. They didn’t have a clue, and neither do you.

This has just recently radically changed my attitude towards senior citizens. I have for most of my life thought of senior citizens as people that don’t know how to work the debit card machine at the grocery store, drivers of giant American cars weaving slowly and gracefully down the left lanes of highways, and people that are wildly attracted to the television shows Matlock and Jeopardy. I now understand that they are also people just like me walking around going “What the fuck? How come my legs aren’t working right? I was 24 years old like yesterday.”

You want a real wake up call? Swing by a nursing home. With a few exceptions, you really don’t want to end up there. I saw this guy, Mr. Anderson, who was twisted by palsy into a pretzel lying on a low bed unable to move. He sat there in his own piss all day and grunted. What do you hope for there? Do you want to be of unsound mind, in some sort of hell you can’t remember from moment to moment, or even worse, perfectly clear of mind watching the clock tick all day hoping for death to finally come for you?

That image gives you great incentive to go do things that you always wanted to do. It’s almost April. You’ve pissed away a quarter of the year, and what do you have to show for it? It’s time to pick up the pace. Me? I’m going to SXSW this week, play some music I wrote with my friends, and see some places in the country I have never been to. While not exactly climbing Mt. Kilamanjaro, at least I am not driving in traffic to sit in a 5X8 foot gray cubicle selling crap to people that don't need or want it.

There’s no time like the present. Let’s go do something.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Nurse the Hate: Hate the Real Housewives

The weather is shitty like it always is in NE Ohio in March. Trying to maintain my tenuous hold on looking like a normal human being, I have been running inside at my Horror Show of a gym. My usual treadmill routine is to put my iPod on, and watch SportsCenter show me Jeremy Lin and LeBron highlights while I blankly stare ahead. For whatever reason, I have not been able to secure the ESPN centered treadmill this week, and instead have been left watching the Bravo cable network while I do 3-4 miles.

If you are not familiar with the Bravo Network, that is because you are probably not a woman in your thirties through fifties looking to escape into unreality shows. I think Bravo used to air highbrow arts programming like theater productions, opera, and dance, but the ratings made it clear rather quickly that almost no one actually likes live theater, opera, or dance, much less video playback of these events. That led them to get into the business of inexpensively producing “reality” shows like Real Housewives of whatever swanky community, the Kardashion Sisters nonsense, and my own personal albatross “Million Dollar Listing”. I have so much bile for “Chad”, the thirty year old agent that looks and acts like he’s 13, I may need to seek outside counseling to avoid having an incident happen. I would think "the incident" would involve a cross country drive, a pistol, and police helicopters with bullhorns demanding for me to “put down the gun and stop making the little boy cry”.

The Real Housewives and Kardashian shows are interesting in that it’s a major puzzle to figure out who is paying for all the shit these people are doing. No one ever appears to work, and certainly don’t even appear to be capable of holding any type of job. Honestly, I can't imagine anyone on those shows doing anything productive. The women all just walk around as if money doesn’t exist, although some appear to have husbands and male benefactors. Who the hell are those guys? I’m not sure how a financially successful man puts himself in that position. I think if your wife/girlfriend came home and decided she was going to try to be on that show, it would be a clear indication you could have found a much better partner for your life. It also may occur to you that now would be a good time to cut her loose in a horrific divorce, as the ensuing drama would be “good TV”. That way everyone wins.

It is also fascinating to look at the plastic surgery disasters on display. Something to note is that as the hips of the women expand as they age, they give themselves larger breast implants and lip injections to try to balance it out. They are all bleached blonde and are like low rent Pam Anderson clones without the true craziness or hepatitis C. But it is the men that are really fascinating. Why do they play up the role of emotional support to these women? Why even bother pretending that your relationship is anything else than you providing them with material possessions? Those women are prostitutes you pay in cars and shopping trips to look good, and I would assume, make them do unspeakable things to you when the Bravo camera crew leaves for the night. “You want the Gucci? Put the lotion in the basket! Put the lotion in the basket! You’re not filming this, are you?”

They are all pretty good looking from far away. Then when the camera zeros in, you can really focus in on all the plastic surgery that has left them looking somewhat off and odd. That is the one immediate downside I see being with one of these women. I think it would be like having sex with a rubber sex doll with all that plastic surgery. They would look up at you with everything staying frozen in place, calculating their next purchase, their dead doll’s eyes looking blankly at you. When you “finish”, I think clean up would involve a spray cleaner and a roll of Bounty.

Another question I have is why do all these women have children that are total losers? It does answer some of the questions about nature vs nurture, doesn't it? You would imagine that if you raised kids in a “good” community with “good” schools, most of the kids would by default wind up at decent colleges where they could get down to their prime directive of beer bongs and date rape. However, almost every time a son or daughter gets some screen time, it’s to bitch about how they didn’t get the top position at whatever short-lived job they were given despite having no education or experience. “I like started a week ago in the parts department, but I want to be the parts manager so I can have an office and be out in front. Plus those guys make like 100k, and I need more money.” This coming from a twenty year old that has worked a total of 14 hours in his life, has a horrible tribal tattoo on his neck, and appears to be high all the time. “Manny, I know you scratched and clawed your way to parts manager after 17 years of service, but we have to give Justin here the job. He’s my new step son, and I really don’t want to be bitched at on national TV by my new wife about not taking care of the little fuck.”

The amazing thing about those shows is that every single person on them seems to be more shallow and clueless than the next. There are literally no “good guys” to root for. Everything they get involved with is unimportant and hollow. How they spend their time is almost criminal. Each of them on the show must know that they are edited to look as cruel and shallow as possible, yet their desire to be famous for anything makes them forget that the world knows them as assholes. I hate them. I hate them all. The worst part? I had the opportunity to grab my favorite treadmill smack dab in front of the ESPN TV. I didn’t take it though. Nope. I took the one closer to the Bravo TV so I could watch Real Housewives while I scanned ESPN. I hoped no one noticed. I ran through my shame. The self-loathing was like fuel. I hated myself. Yet, I couldn’t turn away. There’s a party for one of the girls today. I hope Tamra and Jeana aren’t fighting…