Monday, May 30, 2016

Nurse the Hate: Memorial Day

As today is Memorial Day, I have seen consistent reminders to “remember what this day is really all about”.  While it would be probably fair to say that this day is really about an excuse for new car sales, grocery store promotions, and kicking off summer, it is good to remember that some poor guys got killed in various military actions.  Heck, some of those were even justifiable military actions.  The line that gets used often in the media is “those that paid the ultimate sacrifice”.  That’s a great way to kill the mood of any picnic you attend today.  “Hey Frank?  Enjoying that hot dog?  I hope so because there have been tens of thousands that have paid the ultimate sacrifice so you can stand around here in that filthy t-shirt chowing down…”

The other standard line that goes with it is “so we can enjoy our freedoms”.  Americans have this great myopia that makes the majority of the population believe that we are the only ones that have “freedoms”.  This is as if you can’t say what’s on your mind in any other part of the world.  Sure, there’s places like Iran where you get whipped 99 times for going to a party where both men and women are in attendance, but there’s also Western Europe, Australia, Canada, Japan, etc. where you can shoot your mouth off all day long.  I’m not saying that this isn’t a great place to live, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that some guy that got blown up in most of our military adventures since 1945 didn’t have much to do with defending our “freedoms” as much as our “economic interests”.  Saying “remember those that paid the ultimate sacrifice to protect our national economic interests” doesn’t have quite the same pizzazz, does it?  However, I think people have the best of intentions in not forgetting soldiers that got dealt a bad hand. 

It really comes down to what the idea of “freedom” is I suppose.  To me “freedom” is the idea that I can do what I want to do.  Sometimes I feel as if my life is a railroad track in which the direction has been predetermined.  There is a certain momentum to things.  One day as a teenager you decide almost randomly on a path of study and the next you find yourself 25 years in at a job in that field.  You sit next to one person on a train and notice she smells like garlic.  If you had sat on the other seat across the aisle you would have met a woman you would have spent ten amazing years.  Is that random chance or some kind of fate?  Who the hell knows.

Freedom is having options.  The idea that you at least have the option of deciding to travel to sleep in an igloo in Iceland or continue going to your job on any given day is powerful.  The very concept of being able to execute a fundamental change by your choosing is maybe the single biggest factor in piece of mind.  I’m not going to an igloo today, but it’s good to know that I can.  To live in an oppressive society where you can’t do or say what you choose must be a horrible way to live.  Life is unpredictable and much more brief than we like to consider.  I’m sure any of the soldiers that died would concur.  I’m glad I can live like I want to live thanks in part to the actions of these soldiers. 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Nurse the Hate: Hate the NCAA

May 20, 2016

Mark Emmert
NCAA Eligibility Center
PO Box 7110
Indianapolis IN  46207

Dear Mr. Emmert,

  I have recently decided to make a dramatic career change and become a Division 1 football punt returner.  I am a 49 year old man that has had some success in both advertising sales and playing country punk rock in a band based out of Cleveland OH.  Yet, I am a firm believer in always moving forward.  After a brief discussion with my trainer, we decided a goal for this year would be to become a kick return specialist in Division 1 football.  I have been actively rehabbing a torn meniscus in my right knee and soldiering on in a training regimen that is laser focused.  Between us, I worked out three (3) times this week for slightly over one (1) hour per session.  I am ready to get on the field.  However, I have just run into my first problem.

  A major football power is, I would say, “interested” to “very interested” in me.  Unfortunately it seems your organization has a rule in place that makes a student ineligible to play NCAA sports after five years of first attending college.  This is an issue for me as I received an undergraduate degree at Kent State University in 1988.  Please note I did not play football while at Kent.  I spent my time there drinking heavily, listening to punk rock records, and chasing girls to a very limited success.  I did not participate in any university athletics with the exception of a hard fought victory in my sophomore year bowling class final.  That comeback victory is still discussed in hushed whispers by the way…     

  My hope is that you can allow me to make my triumphant return to campus as soon as possible.  I am about to turn 50 after all, and there is growing concern within my training team that my ability to sustain contact at this level of football might be limited at best.  I am not overly concerned with that as when I last played organized football as a 15 year old this wasn’t a major issue (though I did finish the 8th grade season on the IR with broken bones).  My thoughts are I will get a scholarship to a high profile/fair weather college in the South.  Once there I will get another degree, return a few kicks for touchdowns on national TV, maybe join a fraternity, and create relationships that will last a lifetime.  Who knows, with hard work and luck, I might become involved in Heisman Trophy consideration.

  Thanks in advance for your help in resolving this little misunderstanding regarding my eligibility.  I look forward to being one of the “feel good stories” of the 2016 NCAA college football season.  You are all doing a great job over there!  Let me know when the paperwork clears so I can clear my plate and get on the field.  I will probably want to get in touch with my new roommate sooner rather than later, as I recall needing to figure out logistics like who is bringing the mini fridge and/or the microwave. 

Thanks again!

Greg Miller

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Nurse the Hate: Hate Astrology

I do not believe in astrology.  Believing in astrology is really no different than praying to Zeus or lighting magic candles.  I am not sure why people nod their heads in acceptance if someone at a party says “Well, Jim is a Gemini, so you know the way they are!”  If that same person were to say “Well, apparently Jim angered Zeus because he’s got car trouble again.” It would result in quick glances around the room to coordinate that person being forcefully taken to a mental health ranch.  Sometimes it isn’t the main action of things but rather the small details that get you into trouble.  If you read your horoscope in the paper at the coffee shop counter it’s all frivolity taken with a mental note that a “five star day” is about to happen.  Meanwhile if you pop a Ouija board out at your work cubicle, a team of men in white lab coats will be affixing electrodes to your testicles by nightfall.  It’s a tough break for our friends on Mt. Olympus.  The Age of Zeus has passed.  Like square dances, Spanish Inquisitions, and good old fashioned gladiator contests, these pagan customs have gone away.

The very concept of astrology is hard to defend.  For example, all people born on a monthly sign can’t possibly be fighting with their romantic partners because that sign’s horoscopes said “trouble with romance!” right?  Sagittarius:  You will have great financial problems this week.  It would seem that folks would notice that one out of twelve people were experiencing something like financial distress at the same time.  “Hey Larry, isn’t your birthday the same as Jan’s?  It’s crazy that both of you lost your life’s savings at the same time!  I mean Jan with the chinchilla farm and you on a copper mine!  What are the odds?  Hey, are you crying?”  The whole idea is crazy.  Things I believe in more than astrology:  Santa, Bigfoot, and Jim Morrison’s death hoax conspiracy.  Things I believe in less than astrology:  Yeti, Moth man, and effective health insurance. 

Yet I cannot explain why each year around my birthday my entire life turns to shit for a few days.  Anything I have in the “good” column somehow becomes a disaster or unmoored.  I have a long history of epically bad birthdays.  Many of these were entered into with the best laid plans but ended in unmitigated disaster.  The details change year to year, but the outcome is all the same.  I have looked for commonality and the only thing I can come up with is the date frame and my own participation.  Now I must admit, it could be me.  I just got a new license and on my new photo I kind of look like a douche.  It struck me that I most likely always look like a douche as the picture seemed a fair representation of my appearance.  It really troubled me so I decided to put it out of my mind in the same place I put “untimely death by heart attack” and “horrible penis infection”.

I went to work out with my trainer guy as I continue to get my knee right.  I put on my new shoes that I had purchased on total impulse last weekend.  The design is sort of weird for me, and I now call these shoes The Shoes of The Future.  My trainer looked at them and said “There you go man!  Get outta them Dad shoes you had!”.  Wait…  I had “Dad shoes”?  I thought the shoes I had were the same as everyone else.  I had Dad shoes?  Why the fuck hadn’t anyone told me.  Then it hit me.  I might have a lot else going on I don’t know about.  What if my entire self-image is completely off base?  Like I thought I was this indie rock singer media and wine guy but in reality I am Douche Dad Shoe Guy.  It’s a lot to take on.  Compound that with everything falling down on top of me, and it’s almost too much to bear.  I did my workout in my Shoes of the Future and contemplated this new world of reality I inhabit.  Everything I know is wrong.

I walked into a Starbucks.  I ordered some rocket fuel espresso.  I waited for my order.  There was the daily horoscope cut out of the newspaper and taped to the counter.  Of course I looked at my sign.  “You are walking through glue.”  Sonofabitch.  I have to believe in astrology now?  I looked down at my dress shoes.  They were probably Dad shoes.  I walked outside looking douchey.  I felt the glue under my feet.    

Monday, May 16, 2016

Nurse the Hate: Mephisto's

As we drove in the van this weekend Leo spotted a billboard for the current MegaBall Monster Enormo Super Jackpot total of $178 million dollars.  “Man… I sure would like to win the lottery.  I could finally make my dream come true of owning a bar.  Then I could have it fail and move onto the next thing to fail at.”  This was a moment of pure self awareness in that not only did he know the bar would end in spectacular failure but he would move on undeterred to his next epic misadventure.  There was one problem with his daydream though.  $175 million would be difficult to run through with a single location bar.  This was when the true brainstorm hit.

As anyone that has engaged in a 15-20 minute “shit talk” portion of Leo’s day knows, he has a wobbly plan for what he would do if he owned a bar/restaurant.  The quick pitch is this:  Mephisto’s, a place that combines casual dining with magic.  The dining room would feature waiters/waitresses that doubled as magicians.  Diners would make an order and eat in between frequent interruptions of magic tricks at their table from the server.  The logo and branding would focus on a hairless cat named Mephisto, which was never made clear to me on how it tied into magic.  In addition to the main restaurant area, there would be a gift shop area which would have an unusual amount of cat products interspersed with magic kits.  The concept was refined while driving around in Europe last Fall, at which point led Christoph to freak out and announce “I would burn that place to the ground the moment it opened.”  Christoph’s contention that magic and eating a meal have no place being mixed and would only be annoying did have a cold logic to it, though I will admit burning the restaurant to the ground seemed a harsh response.

It was quickly concluded that $175 million would enable Leo to launch a 25-30 market grand opening simultaneously.  The grand plan gained steam quickly.  Mephisto’s with this much initial capital would be able to be much more than just a cat restaurant with second rate magician servers.  It would be, in Leo’s words, “anything you want it to be”.  Mephisto’s would offer happy hour bar specials in the lounge.  There would be a sand volleyball court.  Sushi bar.  Live entertainment.  Indoor water park.  Quiet areas for more intimate dining.  A dance club.  A sports bar.  Topless dance.  Laser tag.  Bourbon tastings.  Children’s birthday parties.  Microbrewery.  Breakfast.  Bowling.  Wine bar.  Mechanical bull.  Burlesque.  Hot tubs.  Puppet shows.  All you can eat crab legs.  Tacos.  Heavy metal music festivals.  Book clubs.  Dart leagues.  Tiki bar.  It’s all there done simultaneously.

I pointed out to Leo that with the sheer square footage necessary for such a sweeping vision that he might run into trouble finding suitable locations.  This is when the obvious idea of creating different types of Mephisto’s took flight based on the available location.  Each level of Mephisto’s would be put into an extremely confusing grid to theoretically help consumers understand the variety of options available at each Mephisto’s.  For example, the “Mephisto’s Gold” located in Myrtle Beach would have a water park, live music area, strip club, chapel, pizzeria, ramen, Kids Korner and video poker machines.  Meanwhile a “Mephisto’s Deluxe” by the Orlando Airport would have an indoor waterpark, horseshoe pits, Medeval jousting, taco bar, upscale French restaurant, sake bar, and “adults only erotic playground”.  See?  It’s quite simple.   

Each Mephisto’s would be created by Leo on site with whatever whim he had at particular moment.  They would all have a vaguely similar look with the hairless cat and annoying roving second rate magicians, but each would have an ever changing list of features.  This would be supported with an enormous advertising campaign that would have the vibe of a family fun park with a light rock jingle.  “Go to mephitsto’s…. Mephisto’s place for ribs!” Enter announcer for tag line “Mephisto’s is anything you want it to be!  All week 25 cent wings at the martini bar.  Wednesday don’t miss a special Jenna Jameson feature at Mephisto’s After Dark!  Thursday Bachman Turner Overdrive.  Friday sand volleyball leagues are forming now!  And all week long 24 hour breakfast!  Get your Mephisto’s Lucky Savers Club card in the gift shop and accrue points for discounts on magic kits purchased any Mon-TH online!  Shipping costs not included.  Enter to win a ride on the Mephisto’s jet!  And don’t forget our 3 for 2 Happy Hour!  Mephisto’s!  Anything you want it to be!  (back to jingle)  Go to Mephisto’s… Mephisto’s place to dance!”

I think, God willing, if Leo can win that lottery jackpot we can get that money spent and have those clubs folded up within 18 months.  But what an 18 months it would be…