Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Nurse the Hate: Austin Texas

I spent the weekend in Austin TX.  I have been to Austin twice before, on both occaisons to play at SXSW.  I found the city to be plenty of fun, though completely awash in hipster slackers.  I assumed most of these thrift store vagabonds came from whatever version their town had of the Grog Shop, The Comet, Magic Stick, etc.  SXSW is so big and has such a dramatic influx of "indie rock dudes" that I never felt like I had the real feel for the town.  I was eager to get a fresh take with the madness and crowds of the now out of control SXSW in the rearview mirror.

First, let me say that the Hipster outbreak that is increasing rents and the creation of organic Amish locally sourced biodynamic chicken taco trucks appears to be sourced in Austin.  I believe there is a ranch right out of town that produces blank faced guys in beards with stained t-shirts.  These overeducated computer savvy ambivalent hordes are then shipped in to East Nashville, Brooklyn, and Wicker Park to destroy the rent and parking situations of those neighborhoods.  I saw these pesky fuckers everywhere.  Many are holed up in crumbling bungalows drinking Shiner and noodling around with never-to-be-produced screenplays.  While you are at work doing something unpleasant, they are slowly peddling fixed gear bikes to get coffee and provide awful service at their bartending jobs.  It’s amazing how many bad fashion choices and questionable tattoos are centralized in one city in America.

Austin is home to the University of Texas, but it is really home to frivolity.  If you like live music, film, government, good food or football, this is a really good town for you.  On any given night there are more cultural options than any place I have ever seen except New York City.  It is absolutely overwhelming.  In the two nights I was there, I saw five bands I was interested in.  That doesn’t even count the 7 movies, and innumerable art gallery installations.  There appear to be 137 food trucks, most of which actually appear to be really good.  Restaurants all vie to be included in the breathless complimentary national press that the city enjoys.  It is an amazing place to waste your time on bullshit.  Frankly, who doesn’t like that?  A warm climate with good food and never ending entertainment?  Sure.  I like that.

Austin reminds me of Nashville in the sense of place combined with an artistic vitality.  In both places old two story buildings squat along heavily trafficked streets, transformed from mundane businesses into artisan shops, high striving restaurants, and art galleries.  It’s refreshing to see the possibilities.  The major difference where Nashville has an “aw-shucks” southern brand of self effacement, Austin carries itself like the cocksure college cool kid.  While certain facts do warrant that mindset, it can be a bit numbing to be surrounded by thousands of people all trying to be cooler than each other.  Perhaps that chest thumping Texas bravado has seeped even into the counter culture.  What Austin might not recognize is that part of being the cool kid is to not let everyone see you try so hard.  My guess is that like all good places, if I looked hard enough, I could find a cranky old hipster that would tell me, "It was wayyyyy cooler back before all these outsiders moved in."  Has anyone ever traveled some place where someone said, "It's never been better than it is right now!"?  The past was always better.  

Let’s not dwell on the negative though.  Austin is a great place to visit.  You’ll see more people wearing cowboy boots in an unironic fashion than you ever thought possible.  Hell, I could have walked around in my stage getup and no one would have looked twice.  People are not afraid to have fun, and that relaxed “do what you want” attitude is contagious.  When as many artistic people as this converge on one place, the competition will take everyone’s game up to a whole new level.  A perfect example is the Texas barbeque wars, where we are all winners.  Unwilling to wait three hours at the legendary Franklin Street, it was decided to wait 90 minutes at La Barbeque for world class beef brisket, pulled pork, and sausage links.  Here’s the drill… They open at 11, but people line up at nine because as the entire operation is just a trailer and a few smokers there is limited supply.  The restaurant closes when they are sold out, in this case at 1:30p.  The line seems like a Soviet era grocery store as it never moves, but with a free keg of Lone Star beer available and performing musicians by the picnic tables, it doesn’t seem so bad.  Let me tell you, that barbeque is righteous.  Wait in line.  It's worth it.    
The Austin restaurant scene is cut throat, and even deadbeat looking street urchins will weigh in on the relative merits on the “grilled foie gras, sage-rosemary and duck fat funnel cake with butternut squash ice cream and chili-walnut butter” at Barley Swine.  The expectations run high for good dining here, with even funky little places like Foreign & Domestic capable of knocking your socks off.  I will heartily recommend the roasted goat entrée, and apparently people will get in fist fights for their gruyere popovers.  The added bonus of getting the Surrano ham and Crispy Beef Tongue appetizers gratis for our wait for the table endeared the place to me even more.   Bottom line?  There’s more good places to eat here than where you live, unless you are reading this in Napa Valley.  Heck, even Home Slice pizza served up a killer pizza that was well beyond expectation.   Going out to eat can be a fulltime job in Austin.

Austin touts itself as "the live music capital of the world" and it probably has no serious contenders.  Check out the upcoming show listings in Austin right now.  I'll bet there are three of your favorite bands set to play there this week.  In the two nights I was there I saw the LeRoi Brothers with Don Leady of the Tailgators sitting in on guitar for a few songs, stood around waiting for the Sons of Hercules show to start, couldn't make it over to see Dale Watson, ducked my head into the Continental Club, and had too many 512 IPAs to venture to see Scott Biram's "Beer-B-Que".  That doesn't even count the Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash gig at the Broken Spoke or the nameless honky tonk band I saw at The White Horse, a real roadhouse that smells vaguely of vomit no matter where you stand.  I like the fact that the people of Austin support the bands in a way that we don't in this part of the country.  Music is part of the fabric of daily life there, whereas here the general population seems to think live music is either a wedding band or a Madonna show at the Enormodome.  Not only do most people seem to wrap their arms around live music, but they don't bitch about having to pay a meager cover charge to get into a club.  Bravo.

There is a good craft beer scene is Austin, but nowhere near the quality level of Michigan, Portland, or for my money NE Ohio.  We stopped into this joint called The Ginger Man that had 85 taps of craft, and sampled our way through a heap of beers before succumbing to sit outside on their patio to enjoy the 76 degree night.  I really loved the Squatters IPA (which is from Salt Lake City of all places), which I found to have more body than the local 512 IPA.  Austin Beer Works Fire Eagle had quite a few fans, as the colorful cans seemed to be everywhere.  The St Arnold Lawnmower is a nice choice if you are in a "session mode", which is really just short code for "going to drink a shit load of beer at one time".  There were numerous brewpubs, and several breweries in town that I just didn't have time to check out.  Ah, next time...

A truly unique American city, Austin is worth your time.  While you will have to wade through ironic mustaches, knit caps being worn in 84 degree heat, and some aloof service types, the payoff is there.  After all, who doesn't like great bands, food, beer, and cowboy boots?


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Nurse the Hate: Hate the NFL Week 7

I'm a big fan of Nashville despite the feeling that the inevitable blowback is coming.  There will be a price to be paid from the never-ending parade of positive press generated by the freelance hipster writing core currently squirreled away in overpriced apartments across Music City.  Nashville is a great place to wear Depression era clothes, have an ironic waxed mustache, and open a shop dedicated to something nobody really needs or wants like derby hats, organic hot sauce, or restored vintage bicycles.  If you have an artistic slant and don't feel like really competing in capitalism, there just might be a place for you in East Nashville as a heavily tattooed bartender or mercenary mandolin player.  It's also the best place in the South to be a "publicist", which on closer scrutiny reveals that might actually mean you are a 26 year old woman with a public relations degree, have a Facebook page, can create an email list, and have "industry contacts".  Though the "industry contacts" are actually the heavily tattooed bartender and his friend the mandolin player, this doesn't really matter as it allows the woman to pretend she is a powerful music insider while at parties and not a little girl playing dress-up while getting checks sent from Daddy.

Rarely does an NFL franchise so little reflect the city it represents.  The Tennessee Titans are the JC Penny of the NFL.  They have poor style with perhaps the worst looking gear of any team, and a stadium that lacks any of the character of the city in which it has been dropped.  The team has become the Milwaukee Bucks of the NFL, a team that can be depended upon to be OK but never championship caliber.  As far as I am aware, the Titans have not produced a highlight that has been shown on ESPN since that sordid Steve McNair murder was swept under the rug.  They are just sort of sitting there like a Cracker Barrel off an interstate exit.

Today the Titans are hosting the 49ers, a team headed in an opposite direction as the Titans.  The Titans are going to run Jake Locker out there a few weeks after sustaining some sort of catastrophic injury.  I could look it up on the web, but I think it was something along the lines of "frayed spinal cord and shattered pelvis".  It was one of those injuries that made you wince when you read it.  If it had happened to me, I would currently be convalescing in a private hospital in Switzerland.  I envision myself being pushed around in a wooden wheelchair by a silent nurse with a blanket across my legs while sipping a drink from a straw.  Jake Locker is instead going to play football against the San Francisco 49er defense.  That really seems like a bad idea.

The Titans are unable to run the ball on anyone.  Chris Johnson is averaging 1.8 a carry in the last month.  That mean Jake Locker is going to have to score points on a 49er defense that is getting healthy.  Uh-oh.  Oh yeah, last week the Titans played a physical Seattle team.  Teams are 0-5 the week after playing Seattle.  What else do you need me to tell you?  That San Francisco has convincingly won their last three in a row?  I love San Francisco -4.  

I went to the Browns game last week where I witnessed what was the worst forward pass in NFL history.  I was under the influence of 17 beers and trying to explain how football works to a German, but I could swear I saw Brandon Weeden try to shovel pass a ball 15 yards across the field.  It seems impossible even now.  That is the memory that even the most casual NFL fan will have of that game.  What they won't recall was that prior to that play, the Browns were either going to win or stay within the spread against Detroit.  Assuming that Weeden doesn't do something historically terrible (and that is, admittedly a HUGE "if"), the Browns will stay in the game this Sunday at Green Bay.  

The Packers entire receiving core is injured except for Jordy Nelson.  They have had to look so deep for personnel that play WR this week that they will be introduced as "Some Guy" over the PA during player introductions.  Example:  (imagine booming voice) "At running back!  Eddieeeeeee Lacyyyyyyy!  At quarterback... Aaaaaaaaaaron Rogers!!!!! At wide receiver....  some guy...."  Then a spindly black dude you have never seen in a Packers uniform will run out of the tunnel to polite applause. 

I know Aaron Rogers is totally awesome.  Everyone knows that, especially Aaron Rogers.  Go ahead.  Ask him.  However, I do believe that players need to have at least have a vague familiarity with the team playbook and QB to be able to play productively in the NFL.  I might be wrong, and if I am, I am going to lose a bunch of money.  Betting on the Browns always seems foolhardy, and doing so today as they visit the probably already frozen tundra of Lambeau Field seems especially insane.  That's why it is probably the safest play on the board.  I'm on Cleveland +10.5 

Season Record:  5-6


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Nurse the Hate: Hate Halloween

I used to really enjoy Halloween.  That holiday could be relied on to provide me with some of my most fun and memorable nights in my life.  It’s really a great idea, when people can be anything they want to be, if even for a few hours.  While the Dead Kennedys in their song "Halloween" pointed out, there is no reason to limit that personal freedom for just one day; most of us just don’t have the courage.  That’s what makes it so special I suppose.  I was thinking about my own Halloweens.  I have had some terrific, and not so terrific costumes.  If I may, let me provide you with a quick rundown of the high and low lights…   

Football Player-  This is the first costume I can remember.  I was three.  Living in Philadelphia at the time, I was a Philadelphia Eagle.  I had a helmet, jersey, and football pants.  I may have also had little shoulder pads.  Even now I remember I was #35, who as I recall was a guy named Adrian Young.  I know he wasn’t a star on the team, because I remember my father remarking, “Why would they make this an Adrian Young jersey?”  I’ve always remembered that when we took it out of the box.  I later used it in when greeting my father at the Philadelphia Airport.  I was always hoping that I would be mistaken for a player while at the Airport, but at age three or four I did not grasp that the Eagles did not spend their entire lives in uniform.  I also probably didn’t think through that at age three, I was a little small for the NFL, even to the naked eye of a stranger.

Grim Reaper-  I spent a fair number of years in my childhood trying to perfect this costume.  In my mind the combination of skeleton PLUS creepy black hood was a can’t miss situation. The Grim Reaper is such a classic Halloween image, like being a moving jack-o-lantern.  Hell, The Reaper even makes an appearance in “A Christmas Carol” when he busts Scrooge’s chops.  When you get that kind of cross holiday appearances, you know you’re dealing with a real A-list costume.  My big issue was the skeleton mask I bought at Spencer’s was always too big for my child head.  The mask was adult sized, and when combined with my child’s body I looked like a Grim Reaper dwarf.  I was not the terrifying last moment of mortality, but more like a vision of death that would climb from a clown car. 

The Devil-  In an effort to recycle the Grim Reaper robe, I bought a devil mask to turn into Lucifer himself.  Why I was unable to learn the simple lesson of “giant mask=weird looking kid” I cannot answer.  Those masks always looked so awesome on display, all sensibility just flew out the window.  Making matters worse, I could never see out of them either.  Why should I?  It was cut for an adult head.  I spent Trick-Or-Treat trying to walk down the sidewalk looking out of a nostril most of the time.  Another big mistake I made was the addition of the plastic pitchfork.  This is a very common rookie mistake.  To add yet another thing to carry beyond the pillowcase of “fun sized” candy was a huge error in practicality.  There was a horrible incident when I lost my pitchfork making an ill-advised “short cut” through the woods, and I completely lost my composure.  I look back in regret at this costume choice.  I may have been seven, but I was a God Damn Fool.

Martian-  I bought this amazing looking mask kit for this Martian head that had two protruding eyes.  On the box it looked awesome.  In reality it looked sort of dodgy because I had to build it with model airplane glue.  Making matters worse, I waited until the last minute, and the glue had not completely dried.  It was a hard plastic shell that encased my head much like a knight’s helmet.  Essentially I had imprisoned myself in a glue-sniffing device.  For all intents and purposes, I huffed glue for three hours straight on Halloween.  The mask was ripped from my head in the waning hours when I was blindsided by a swung bag of candy from a neighborhood tough.  I was so stoned I had no idea why I could suddenly see the stars.   This was a poor idea I executed poorly.  I had a headache for three days.  This mask may have been the reason I later did so poorly in both algebra and geometry.

Face With Ripped Out Eyeball-  This was the last of my forays into the world of masks.  It is incomprehensible to me why I bought this mask for my costume.  Yes, it looked cool.  It would have looked awesome if I was my size now.  Instead I was about 5-2, so I managed to once again get that “big head/little body” thing happening.  The worst part of this mask was that one entire eyehole was missing as it instead had a bloody eye hanging from fake tendons.  This cut my potential vision down to one eyehole.  There have been hostages with better vision afforded to them than I provided myself that Halloween.  If I would have gone from Trick-Or-Treat to Guantanimo Bay, I would have felt right at home.  I spent the entire holiday walking around with that mask perched on my head at the ready, like a rubber knit cap.  When we hit the front doors, I pulled it down and said a muffled “trick or treat” inside my sweaty rubber blindfold.  If I close my eyes and concentrate, I can still smell the inside of that mask.

Gladiator-  This was a real win.  I bought a plastic gladiator helmet, made a toga from a sheet, kept a rubber sword in a dress belt, and stole a garbage can lid for a shield.  As a bonus, three of my college roommates went as the same thing.  I really enjoyed being buzzed up yelling things at enormous crowds like, “It is I… Gregorious Augustus… Give glory to Gregorious or prepare to taste my blade!”  At one point, we had stopped all traffic on Main Street as we had drawn our swords standing across the road yelling what we thought sounded like Gladiator Talk.  In retrospect, it was probably closer to Monty Python inspired Middle Ages banter.  This costume was a real winner until I got so loaded I failed to notice it was 41 degrees and I was basically standing around outside shirtless and in shorts for six hours.  I got really sick the next week.

Superman-  You may not think I have the body to wear a skintight super hero outfit.  You my friend are completely correct.  If you wanted to know what The Man of Steel looked like if he ate too much pizza and drank too much beer while also failing to achieve any sort of muscle tone, I was your guy.  This really took some courage to wear as a costume as it made me look about as badly as I possible could.  It was a body stocking with a cape.  To make matters worse, I stuffed the crotch to an outrageous size and “accidentally” brushed my groin up against unsuspecting ladies all night.  It is very easy to see why I was not especially popular with the opposite sex during this period of my life.

Cowboy-  Having now lost all creativity and energy, I take the fallback option of “cowboy”.  This means I put on my Whiskey Daredevil outfit and go to a party.  While everyone else is fidgeting around in his or her outfits, I couldn’t be more comfortable.  I might as well go in my underwear and slippers.  This is a complete copout on my part, and I accept any criticism without complaint.  It just shows how little real life I have left in me.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Nurse the Hate: Hate Pumpkin Beers Part 2

Last year I went crazy and tasted a truckload of pumpkin beers in an effort to make sense of the overwhelming amount of pumpkin seasonals on the shelf.  I tried to fill in the gaps this year with some of the ones I missed.  I knocked these out tonight, so if my tasting notes are a little off-kilter it's because I obviously bit off more than I could chew.  Some of these things have alcohol levels that would kill a sheep. 

Epic Brewing Imperial Pumpkin Porter-  This is a porter that has a little pumpkin shoved in as an afterthought.  I always think of porters as being drunk by grouchy English sailors.  While I still think the English Old Salt would say something like, “Gimme that beer you fucking nancy cunt!” it would be in somewhat endearing fashion unlike if he figured out that a pumpkin got shoved in there.  I think he’d get pissed about that.  I think he'd yell at you in a lot of slang you wouldn't understand, and you would feel like less of a man because you tried to dainty up his porter with pumpkin.  This is a beer that fat guys with beards at microbrew events pretend to love because it is almost undrinkable.

Fat Head Spooky Tooth-  This is well balanced and flavorful like everything that Fat Heads does.  Please note that it has 9% alcohol so it will kick the fuck out of you.  This seems like something that would be stocked at a Halloween party, and you don’t even notice how smooth they are as you knock them back while wearing a Batman costume.  Then you wake up the next morning in a camper with your pubic area covered by glitter and there is a video camera set up on a tripod pointed at the bed.  As you wonder what happened and whom the couple in the genie costumes are passed out next to you, you notice all the empty bottles of the Fat Heads lying around everywhere.

RJ Rockers Gruntled Pumpkin Ale-  This is a lighter version of the Fat Head.  It’s OK, but it needs more pumpkin.  It needs more everything.  It tastes like something Coors would brew.  This tastes like it was brewed by committee.  I would imagine that if Sears made a seasonal pumpkin beer, it would taste like this.  The brewer is from South of the Macon Dixon line, where it appears it is almost impossible to brew great beer.  Why is it that for an area to create good beer, it also has to have lousy weather?  It's the band/beer connection.  Seattle/Portland/Michigan all have wet crappy weather and good bands.  I'm not sure how Denver fits in...   

Ithaca Beer Company Country Pumpkin-  There’s lots of pumpkin.  It’s restrained on spice, but it’s still there.  It tastes like a Fall day.  It’s really drinkable.  The town of Ithaca has a lot of burly hippie dudes in flannel shirts listening to Phish, smoking weed, and hoping the economy improves.  (It won’t.)  I’m surprised that this isn’t ballsier, but hippie dudes aren’t really “ballsy”, are they?  This is more along the lines of “a mellow tasty buzz man”.

Rogue Farms Pumpkin Patch Ale-  I had my doubts on this as it comes in a giant orange bottle trumpeting how organic it is.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but usually the more “organic” something is, the shittier it tastes. Girls in peasant skirts and Birkenstocks are not normally noted for their culinary skills, you know what I mean?  They can do yoga and are usually pretty good at crafts.  They can’t cook though.  However, this is outstanding.  Pumpkin, nutmeg, and cinnamon on the finish in a deep amber color announce this as a “Big Boy” beer.  I’m a huge fan of this.  This beer is the “American Beauty” of pumpkin beers.

Southern Tier Warlock-  Wow.  Like a pumpkin coffee with cream and caramel.  I don’t think I could drink two of these, but one is just fine.  It’s 8.6% alcohol, so it is important to stay in your shoes with this.  It’s one of the most unique and interesting beers I have had in a really long time.  This is one of those “once is fine, twice is too much” like if you spent a night with Lady Gaga in a hotel room or went camping with the Hell’s Angels.  That is an experience that once would be pretty memorable.  The second time would just leave you kind of shell shocked and looking for answers.

Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale-  This is like a prototype of a “pumpkin ale”.  It’s balanced, spicy and has well integrated pumpkin flavor.  It just doesn’t really go all the way.  This is for people that like black labs, Bruce Springsteen, and consider the Camaro to be the pinnacle of a sports car.  That is not to say that these things do not have some value on their own, but once you know better, it’s hard to be satisfied with this.

Sam Adams Fat Jack-  Sam Adams gets wild and brews some crazy shit because they can.  This is one of those beers.  They drop 28 pounds of pumpkins into the brew kettle for this.  It sounds like a good idea.  I just wish it tasted better.  It’s like a reduced sauce version of Harvest Pumpkin Ale that you need to drink out of a snifter.  I kind of hated it.  I know it seems like bullshit to call out Sam Adams for not taking chances on their other beer, and then say, “you took chances with this and I hate it” but I’m doing it.  If this were a band it would be like Soundgarden.  It is really bombastic and when you look a little closer you notice there is no real substance.

Unita Brewing Company Punk’n- Let’s get this out of the way.  Unita has absolutely awesome graphic art.  Their design work is as good as it gets.  It’s just a damn shame the beer isn’t as good.  I mean, it’s OK but completely forgettable.  This beer reminds me of when I came home with Black Flag’s “Loose Nut” record.  It looked so fucking cool, and then I put it on the turntable and thought, “This sounds like Black Flag, but why do I want to get “Slip It In” or “Damaged” out and not listen to this again?”  This is the beer version of “Loose Nut”.  It’s pretty good, but why drink “Loose Nut” when you can have “Damaged”, right?

Woodchuck Pumpkin Cider-  I cannot stress how terrible this is.  I knew I would regret buying this the second I did it.  This is sort of like a sweet tart that has been dissolved into a melted Popsicle.  The odd thing about it is the whiff of bile on the nose that rises from the glass like a bad omen.  It's almost as if it is telling you that you will be barfing with authority in hours after drinking this.  The only use of this product I can see would be for high school senior football players to use as heavy artillery in their efforts to finger their younger girlfriends at house parties and back seats of vans.  I studied the bottle and thought I saw the brew master’s name was Mengele, but I might have been mistaken.  I was reeling from the initial taste.  

If you are interested in last year's tasting notes, they are available here:  http://nursethehate.blogspot.com/2012/10/nurse-hate-hate-pumpkin-beer.html

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Nurse the Hate: Hate the Government Shutdown

The government shutdown has proven to all American citizens that the government representatives that they elected could not care less about actually serving the people.  I had always had the inkling that these officials didn’t give a shit, but I never expected to have it demonstrated so blatantly.  I think all of us have the understanding that each of these Congressmen are Lying Shitbags.  It is the way the system is rigged.  I think we all have a basic agreement on the bargain we have made for our current Democracy.  It goes like this:  The Lying Shitbag says whatever necessary to get into the job, and then as payback for the unpleasantness of the campaign trail, they get to make a ton of money by abusing the public trust and scoring on insider real estate and stock deals.  Along the way, they try to look out for the best interests of the people that elected them assuming that those interests coincide with the financial interests of the money behind their campaigns.  That’s about right, isn’t it?

Somewhere along the line, our country has now morphed into having two “teams”.  Many people I know on social media are very excited to root for their “team”, whether that is Democrat or Republican.  These superfans believe it is very important to point out the shortcomings of the other team on social media posts.  Obama is actually an Al Queda operative.  John Boehner is working to steal children’s souls.  The key with these posts is to never offer any solutions under any circumstances, but only point out that any compromise on even a minor point of the other team is a foolhardy show of weakness.  I think that these political superfans have failed to realize that none of their political heroes gives a shit about any of them beyond having their vote so they can keep suckling from the teat of the land. As the snake slithers on the ground, the Lying Shitbag steals from the land.  It is in both of their respective natures.

The current “leadership” that has been elected to Congress is ineffective.  No matter which team you root for, it is hard to debate that.  This group of people cannot work together to accomplish anything.  Each and every one of them needs to be swept clean and forced to return to an actual job like the rest of us.  How can most of these people hope to solve real life problems when in most cases they don’t have any real life experience in doing anything of substance?  It’s our own fault for putting these idiots in a position where they can’t hope to succeed.  They are all in over their heads.  They need to be removed.

While some sort of coup would be exciting, I feel that my call to action will end with me in an orange jumpsuit on a tropical island rooming with a bearded man named Asaad.  There’s no way he’d let me nap on his prayer rug, even if I rolled it up when I was done. A hard-line Islamic extremist would be a shitty roommate.  It would be no picnic. Even if Guantanamo gets Direct TV, I doubt my captors will allow me to watch NFL Sunday Ticket.  Those guys are probably total dicks in that way.  I’m out of energy for that kind of uprising anyway.  Frankly, I’m too detached from the whole thing to take to the streets with a pitchfork.  Somebody should do something though...

The Public should be marching on Washington and demanding answers from these dopes, but let’s be realistic.  There’s just too much on the Internet to get people out of the house and asking questions from their elected officials.  If you start down the rabbit hole of youtube, forget it.  Man, the other night I started watching a Jack Kerouac interview at 8pm and the next thing I knew the sun was coming up.  Who’s got time for a Revolution when there's an endless supply of video clips of guys getting hit in the nuts while skateboarding?  Times have changed.  You know why people got all worked up in the 60s?  They only had three TV channels.  Well, three channels and PBS, but who has time to watch Rick Steves shake you down for money in a fundraiser every couple months?  If we only had three channels and could only watch NCIS or The Bachelor, I’ll bet we could get some action going on Washington.  Eh, what are you going to do?   

There’s a lot of noise going on about this thing.  There’s a lot of finger pointing.  It’s all an attempt to get people like us to not focus on whose fault it is…  Every single one of those Lying Shitbags.  If my Direct TV goes out and I get some free time, those fuckers in Congress are all in really big trouble.  If not, can someone send me an email and let me know when both sides have claimed victory, not actually solved anything, and gotten back to stealing our tax money?       

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Nurse the Hate: Hate the NFL Week 5

I spent last Sunday afternoon watching the NFL Red Zone crunched into a coach seat in the back of a United Airlines plane.  There was no volume on seat 35c which was a real shame as seated behind me was a 107 year old woman that was very concerned about being served a hamburger.  Despite being told various times by the extremely effeminate flight attendant that the flight did not serve hamburgers, she continued to ask about the status of her hamburger.  Time after time she hit the flight attendant button to question the status of the mythical hamburger.  Time after time, with growing agitation, she was told that there were no hamburgers.  Although she may have once been on a flight in which they ran of of hamburgers, that had no relevance to her current situation on United Flight 1601.  She just wasn't going to accept it.  There will no no hamburger ma'am.  It's amazing to imagine that somewhere in Shit Hoof, Nebraska as some young man that looks like a hammerhead shark with a neck tattoo considers what horrific Burger King Whopper option he will order at the drive through that at exactly the same moment 35,000 feet directly overhead a woman born in 1915 is being told for the seventh time that she will not be having a hamburger.  The wonders of the modern age indeed!

Despite the theater of distraction going on behind me, I was able to watch almost all of the NFL games.  Yes, there was no sound and I had to invent my own hyperbole, but I watched a shitload of NFL.  This has led me to some dangerous conclusions about some of these professional football organizations that I will now try to take advantage of in my ever foolhardy quest to make money off of the NFL.  I am now more convinced than ever I will never turn a sizable profit on the NFL.  Why I continue to attempt to do so is really a testament to my own stupidity more than an indication of any ambition or determination on my part to "beat the system".  Yet, here we are once again.  Let's take another shot and see what happens.

On the surface it seems like the New England Patriots +1 is a gimme.  The Patriots have won something like 534 straight when they are a road dog during the era of Bill Belichick.  The Bengals are at home, a place where they routinely let their fans down in soul crushing fashion.  As I have noted previously, the Bengals have the raw talent of a 12-4 team which Marvin Lewis (a.k.a. "the worst professional coach ever") will turn into a solid 9-7 Wild Card team.  Their offense is designed to throw the ball downfield to any of their fleet footed receivers yet they appear to have a complete inability to actually throw the ball downfield.  So why am I taking Cincinnati?  My understanding is that 80% of the Public is on New England.  The Public is always wrong.  Always.  While it may seem counter intuitive to take a kinda shitty red headed QB and Marvin Lewis over a Hall of Fame QB and a Hall of Fame coach, that's what I'm doing just because it's the opposite of what everyone else thinks.
Cincinnati +1.

I have seen the promos all week...  When the Eagles take on the Giants the records go out the window! Stand back and watch this colossal grudge match unfold!  Titans of the gridiron go nose to nose in a battle of unbridled adrenalin!  With the right music bed, it almost sounds believable until you notice that these two teams really blow and are both out of playoff contention before the leaves have fallen off the trees.  This game really requires you to figure out which team sucks slightly less than the other one.  Philadelphia has lost to teams that are 10-2.  I think the Giants lost to Temple by 13.  The underdog in this series has covered 13 of 16 times.  Hey, that's good enough for me.  I'm taking Philadelphia +2.5 and have no plans of watching even a second of this game.

In August I remember seeing Ron Jaworski say that Colin Kapernick might be "the best NFL QB evcr".  This seemed a bit presumptive after 10 games to move young Colin past Johnny Unitas, Bart Starr, Dan Marino, and Joe Montana.  After four games it seems like he might be more comparable to Cam Newton and Brian Hoyer, but you have to love "Jaws" enthusiasm.  Today the Houston Texans are getting 6.5 in San Francisco.  The 49ers have looked really ordinary since their defensive injuries.  The Texans are legit.  Hell, they beat Seattle last week until they gave it away at the end.  Will they do that again this week?  Sure, Matt Schaub is going to have a back breaking turnover late in the game.  They just won't lose by more than six.  Houston +6.5

Current Record:  3-5 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Nurse the Hate: Hate Fake Marshall Stacks

My first concert was Judas Priest at the Erie County Fieldhouse.  An Australian band called Heaven opened up.  This was on Judas Priest’s “Screaming For Vengeance” tour.  This was a seminal moment for me.  It was inconceivable that the mighty Judas Priest was coming to our hometown to play the songs that we listened to at every keg party for the previous three months.  We lived in Erie PA for God’s sake.  Coming here?  The very idea that a metal band from England that had videos on MTV and records at Record Den would be rocking out at the same place where the Erie Blades minor league hockey team played was mind blowing.  What next?  Are you going to tell me that Demi Moore was coming to Homecoming?

Five very overstimulated teenage boys drove to the Fieldhouse that night in a large American car drinking Michelob Light which had been painstakingly acquired thanks to a deal brokered with an older guy in our school named Randy.  Randy had a beard like a Greek sailor by age 14.  Randy could be counted on to be able to buy 12 packs from a bar named Haggerty’s without incident as Haggerty’s had stopped asking this wayward Greek sailor for his obviously forged ID months ago.  They must have assumed Randy had a very serious drinking problem as he was at Haggerty’s almost daily buying three or four different brands of twelve packs.  Looking back, a bar that existed primarily by selling cases of domestic beer that had been razor bladed in half to sell out the back door probably wasn’t too concerned about a very hairy high school boy.

I was sitting in the back seat as we all screamed over the blaring Judas Priest on the car stereo.  This was a key component of going to a concert that I think may have disappeared over time.  The drive to the show had to consist of nothing but the latest album of the artist in question played so loudly that even basic communication in the car was next to impossible.  This was full-on pregame.  Knock back a couple of beers and get psyched by listening to “Electric Eye”.  As we rolled up onto the gravel parking lot Erie’s metal community could be spotted walking to through the haze of dust and red tail lights to the building entrance.  It looked like a post apocalypse as skinny guys in jean jackets with metal band patches slunk into the building in small packs of three and four like gangly trolls.  It was an ugly outsider’s version of Oscar Night or a Heavyweight Title Fight.  Without question, it was the biggest concert of the year for Erie.

This was all new to me.  I wasn’t really sure how to play it cool.  Everyone else seemed to know how to act.  The scenesters standing around posing in their special concert outfits.  The packs of girls with hair sprayed out impossibly high.  The raw teenage energy of expectation was heavy in the room.  My friends and I were all like deer in headlights as we attempted pretend it was all just another day at the office.  I can only imagine what dorks we looked like (and were for that matter).  Miraculously we bought beers from the concession area.  The well trained and professional concession staff at the Erie County Fieldhouse must have served literally anyone.  The drinking age in Pennsylvania was 21, and I looked about 11.  I think it was Stroh’s.  They were draft beers in wax paper cups, the kind that you have to drink quickly before the bottom literally falls out. 

We entered the arena itself.  I use the word “arena” in the loosest possible sense.  It was in actuality a big tin shed.  It had metal walls and a metal roof.  We stood on the floor on boards which had been placed over the ice of the rink and stared at the stage.  An enormous wall of Marshall Amps lined the entire backline with a ridiculously large drum kit that sat atop an enormous riser.  This was the age of metal, and the lighting and props were so over the top it would be fall-down laughable now.  Even those guys in The Darkness couldn’t have imagined a more ridiculous set up.  The best part was that in front of all this gear was a tiny area with a few amps that Judas Priest graciously allowed Heaven to attempt to put on a performance.  One of the guys that I went to the show with leaned over to me and said, “We are going to get blown away.”

Heaven started playing, and I had never heard anything as loud as that in my life.  The sound was absolutely horrible.  The drums boomed.  The voice was lost in delay.  The guitars were distorted.  The whole thing bounced around the tin walls and ceiling making it sound like a squadron of F-4s were landing simultaneously.  The spectacle was awesome.

Heaven’s set was nothing but an obstacle to endure until Judas Priest came on.  We didn’t know any of the songs.  We couldn’t make out any melodies, hooks, or lyrics.  It was all a loud fuzzy explosion.  The singer guy yelled out about “partying” once in a while, and people seemed to like that.  I noticed the move appeared to be to raise both hands in the air and scream out “Woooooooo!!!!” whenever “partying” was mentioned.  I had to remember that in the future.  I drank my Stroh’s needing to take a piss, but afraid of never being able to return to my precious area close to the stage.  There were probably about 5000 people there.  4998 of them were smoking.  It was a real scene.

Judas Priest pulled all the rock star moves.  They made sure Heaven sounded like shit in the mix.  They waited about an hour before coming out to play.  I didn’t know the drill then.  Had I been there now I would have groused and complained.  “What the fuck.  We’re standing around on a fucking ice rink.  Get out here already you assholes.”  Finally the house lights went down.  They, of course, started with the instrumental “The Hellion”.  It was so fucking loud.  I had been totally unprepared for what a metal band of means could do with a ton of gear and a good soundcheck.  Holy fuck.  That’s them.  When the instrumental section ended and “Electric Eye” started singer Rob Halford came out and people went totally fucking crazy.

Let’s get this on the record.  Not one of us in that arena had any inkling that Rob Halford was gay.  I understand that idea seems totally ridiculous now as a man in leather bondage gear and little leather hat couldn’t have been any more obvious about it unless he was fisting Liberace on that stage.  The concept that homosexuality could have crossed into the masculine world of metal was absurd.  There is no way we could have wrapped our heads around that idea.  Freddie Mercury?  Clearly gay.  Rob Halford.  All man.  Tough guy.    

We were a bit naïve.

The show was awesome.  They played all the hits.  Glenn Tipton and KK Downing played guitar solos for a week that were even more stupid than Spinal Tap.  Halford rode out on the motorcycle for “Hell Bent For Leather”.  (How did we not know he was gay?  Right?  Hell Bent For Leather?)  Then it was over.  I had never seen anything like it.  “Oh, I want to do that again” immediately went into my head.  We drove home screaming over the Judas Priest being played on K-104 the terrible local rock radio station.  The guys dropped me off with my ¾ length sleeve “Screaming For Vengeance” baseball shirt, which I would wear to school the next day as was the social custom.  My ears rang for five days.    

This week I saw a picture of a metal band playing a festival with “prop amps”.  Their entire backline was literally a two dimensional prop, wooden facsimiles of giant Marshall Amps to give the impression that they were a powerful rock band.  What a damn shame to have been a kid attending that show as his first concert.  Maybe things really were better back in the Good Old Days.  Back in the days when men with leather fetishes sang to oblivious teenage boys and caused hearing damage in tin barns.  When those same teenage boys drove home drunk reeking of pot and cigarette smoke ready to take on Geometry 2 the next day.  When an amp was really an amp…

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Nurse the Hate: Hate the Bachelor Party

I was in Napa Valley last week.  It’s a beautiful place with beautiful people busy doing beautiful things.  It seemed like everywhere I turned, there was yet another bachelorette party.  Well scrubbed pretty girls smiling perfect white teeth for the cameras.  Packs of young girls in sundresses drinking white wine.  Nice girls having a nice time with their nice friends.  This is in utter contrast to the last bachelor party I hosted, an evening of stark ugliness and horrific events that have scarred some of the participants to this day.

I have been put in the position of bachelor party host a few times.  I have been a best man a number of times, but many of these didn’t feature the stereotypical bachelor party.  For my first job of hosting, most of my research had been done while attending bachelor parties in my early twenties.  These were all remarkably similar events.  The men assembled somewhere to play golf/cards.  Many beers were consumed.  Some half assed car pool was assembled on the fly to go to one of the shithole Cleveland strip bars and the bachelor would be placed on the stage with a stripper to perform a dance in front of the patrons of the shithole.  Many shots would be sent to the bachelor.  The bachelor would barf all over the car or the house where he returned.  There had to be a better way…

First off, I rented a room at a fairly upscale hotel.  The last thing I want to do is to clean up after the bachelor’s slob friends from his hometown get crazy.  These guys don’t know me, and they sure don’t care if I have to clean up their barf.  Second I bring in lots of good microbrew from my various nefarious contacts in the world of alcohol.  Let’s not fuck around with Bud Light.  Let’s get down to it.  Third, I rented some entertainment.  This is where things got interesting.

In the days before wide spread internet, it was not easy to rent strippers.  I also wanted to make the evening memorable, and wanted more of a “show”.  This was accomplished in the way things usually were done in the simpler times of the days or yore.  You called “a guy”.  Hey, I gotta book a limo.  You got a guy?  “Yeah, I got a guy… Call Jimmy.  He’ll set you up.”  I got the number of “some guy” that put me in touch with a woman that handled the booking for an operation called the Sisters of Sin.  It was never made exactly clear on what “The Sisters of Sin” did when they got to a place, and I never really asked because I wanted to seem like I was with it.  It was pretty inexpensive all things considered and the lady seemed OK, so I booked them for an hour.

When the bachelor party rolled around a group of guys assembled at the hotel that formed a few distinct alliances.  There were 1) old home town friends 2) college buddies 3) work buddies 4) family you had to invite or everyone would be uptight 4) my deviant pals that I knew would have a good time and add an element of chaos to the proceedings.  It’s always weird at the beginning of these things as everyone is unsure if people are cool, and what type of behavior is considered “acceptable”. This was no exception.  There were some real social/economic divisions in this room.  Everyone was sort of uptight until the beers kicked in and one of the college basketball tournament games came down to the buzzer.  That got everyone comfortable.  In what was almost perfect timing, the Sisters of Sin arrived within minutes of the end of the game.

I had assumed that the “Sisters of Sin” would look roughly like the strippers I saw in teen exploitation movies like “Bachelor Party” or “Risky Business”.  This was not the case.  These women looked like they escaped from a taping of Cops and tossed on too much foundation and perfume to cover up their lifestyle of cigarettes and taking a punch from their motorcycle gang “old men”.  I couldn’t imagine a less sexy group of women.  They were definitely not my type.  Despite my initial disappointment, a deal is a deal, and I led them into the room.  The leader of the Sisters asked me to turn on the music, which I had agreed to provide.  I did.  Little did she know, my idea of the proper music was “Las Vegas Grind”, a collection of strip club instrumentals from the sleazy early 1960s.  They attempted to dance sexily with each other while “Exit 6” blared from the boombox on the table.  It was a bit of a rough go.  One of them said, “What the fuck is this?”.  My band pals laughed like crazy as this music was the absolute ideal in our world.  It was a really awkward and terrible scene for everyone. 

This was when the Sisters showed their true professionalism.  Within moments they had assembled themselves into a human pyramid of sorts and began to stimulate one another with a group of surprisingly large vibrators and dildos.  Even the most jaded of us stopped dead in our tracks as we silently took in this new development.  With each passing minute, new combinations were created with toys inserted into places that I never expected.  Each new move ratcheted up the sleaze factor, and stopped all conversation completely as each member of the audience came to grips with what was happening.  It was, honestly, quite a show.  It was much more than I had ever expected.  I will frankly say that if I had been told, “How about you stand next to the bride’s relatives while three women you have never seen before perform unspeakable acts 18 inches away?” I might have taken a pass.  But I was all in now.  This was happening.

As the show climaxed, one of the Sisters raised her head and said “Who is the best man?”.  Everyone instantly pointed at me like a cop had asked “Who’s holding the PCP?”.  Gulp.  This water was a bit too deep for me.  My interest in being blown in front of 18 guys was and remains minuscule at best.  She offered to take me to the next room instead and I calmly deferred the honor.  Honestly, she scared me.  When she asked, “Which one of you guys wants to go in his place?” I was almost trampled by one of the groom’s high school buddies I had met only once at a family picnic years prior.  One of the others said, “We’ll be next door for anyone that wants to stop by”.  This was code for “if any of you guys want to buy a sex act, any sex act, come next door and we’ll work something out.” 

I probably should have done more research before bringing this “performing troupe” in for the party, but everyone appeared to be happy with how out of hand things had gotten.  The bride’s side of the party had all split, and I hoped that they would not freak out about the sleaze factor having hit 11.  This was when I was lassoed by a hotel employee that wanted to know what was going on, and where was the other TV I had promised to return to him earlier.  “Ummm.  Yes.  It’s just a March Madness Party.  Can I get you the TV later?  No.  It has to be now?  Sure.  Yes.  No problem.”

Of course, the TV was located on a cart inside the room currently occupied by the Sisters and God knows which guys from the party.  While upscale hotels can be pretty cool about a lot of things, they clearly would not be “cool” about the seriously unhinged scene that had rapidly developed in our general area. I had no choice.  I would have to calmly go into that room and retrieve the TV while the hotel clerk waited outside.  I sure as hell couldn’t knock before entering and try to explain.  I just needed to confidently walk in, and wheel that fucking TV out no matter what was happening in there.

I expected to see something I did not want to see when I walked in that room.  The heavyset fireplug Sister bobbing her head up and down on the lap of some guy I had met for the first time about two hours ago?  No problem.  It was when I passed the bathroom pushing the TV cart, glanced to my right to see the two other sisters on their knees sliding their mouths up and down the shaft of one of the groom’s high school pals as he gave me the thumb’s up that gave me some pause.  It was the same expression you would give someone at a cookout that said, “Hey!  Great burger!  Thanks man!”.  I pushed the TV out the rest of the way and closed the door. 

The rest of the night went according to plan.  The Sisters left after thanking me.  “Greg, anytime you need us just call.  This was a great night for us!”  Truly, they were pros.  I would consider them the ZZ Top of live sex shows.  They were veterans out there practicing their craft.  If they had a merchandise tent, I would have been tempted to buy a t-shirt.  Perhaps they could have listed the names of the Bachelors and the venues on the back of the shirt?  June 6 Bill Davis VFW Hall  Parma, June 13 Fred Gannet  Private Residence Berea, etc.  I’m just thinking of alternate revenue sources…

 I rounded everyone up after the wheels began to fall off and hotel security insisted we leave “soon”.  I wisely had rented a bus to drive us around, where we fell into the trap of going to the shithole strip bars.  Frankly, it was a bit of a letdown after the earlier scene at the hotel.  After the level of sleaze we had been immersed in, this was like a trip to Disneyland.  It was like a stop at Frontier Town.  It seemed quaint by comparison.  Our night had peaked too early, and we then decided to concentrate on binge drinking.  It was at this point that the first signs of trouble soon appeared.  “Hey man, I might have to tell Mary about this…  She might find out from her brother.” 

This was a Code Red.  The Groom was about to go Full Disclosure about his bachelor party.  This was an absolutely horrible idea, but clearly one that she had been priming him for on for weeks.  Most of us took turns offering the same sage advice they gave downed airmen in WWII.  Name, rank, and serial number.  Don’t reveal anything.  For the love of God, don’t talk about what happened here tonight.  None of it will be greeted with any sort of understanding.  “Oh, Greg booked three whores to come in and they offered to fuck all the men in my family and you?  That must have been a real hoot!  I hope the guys had fun!”  This was an event that got completely out of hand and there was no good spin to put on it.  Hell, he didn’t even do anything.  He should be scot-free on this thing.  All he needed to do was keep his cool.

The wedding came next week, and late the night before I was primed by the Groom.  “Hey man, I told Mary about last week.”  Um, what do you mean you told Mary?  You told her what exactly?  “Everything.”  Everything?  As in all of it?  Like everything?  “Yeah.  She was cool though.  It’s all good.”  This seemed very unlikely, but I headed to the church the next morning hoping that we’d all have a good chuckle.

I walked into the church in my rented tuxedo and black plastic shiny shoes.  Every single woman in a bridesmaid dress was glaring at me, fuming with an intensity that has been reserved for members of the Taliban, Nazi war criminals, and Sadaam Hussein.  Some of the mothers even glared.  A couple of them made a hissing sound as I walked by, I swear, a hissing sound!  This was not going to be a pleasant wedding.  They all spent time going from glowing looks of admiration at the bride to cold looks of hatred when they glanced at me through the ceremony.  When I took my partner’s hand to walk down the aisle after the vows had been completed, she hissed “Don’t fucking touch me you creep”.  This was bad.

We all walked outside and I stood alone, watching the rice tossed into the air and people struggling to take the perfect picture.  It was going to be a long reception.  A very long reception.  It was then an older man sidled up next to me.  I didn’t recognize him at first in the suit, but it was the bride’s very conservative and religious Uncle.  He had been at the party, and I remembered seeing him looking pretty uptight when things veered into the abyss.  Here he was though, walking slowly over near me.  He was clapping for the bride and groom, a proud happy Uncle.  He then leaned down to whisper as he continued to smile and clap. “That was the best bachelor party I ever went to...” And with that he slipped away, smiling and clapping some more.

I don’t know if the picture perfect young women of Napa are concerned about what their fellas are doing while they buy knick-knacks at winery gift shops, but take it from me, it’s better if they don’t ask.  Sometimes that shit just gets out of hand.