Friday, April 28, 2017

Nurse the Hate: The Incident of The Leaf Pile

One of my associates, The Enabler, recently responded to the annoying social media game of “I’ve seen 10 of these bands, one is a lie” game with his own post.  He wrote “Here are 10 Cowslinger shows I attended, one of which is a lie”.  I am certain that my associate’s legal team advised him to insert the caveat “one is a lie” as each one of these stories was filled with illegal or at the least behavior with extremely poor judgement attached.  It was a rather eye opening experience to see these accounts recapped with unflinching honesty stacked one on top of the other.  Why some sort of authority figure didn’t stop us, or at least attempt to stop us is rather bewildering.  We had absolutely no regard for rules of any kind.  This is a policy that has only become reinforced with age and experience.

I had forgotten about one of these stories.  The Enabler’s recap read as follows; “Charleston, IL. Venue is the Dungeon, party at Gram and Kit’s follows. Ike Turner’s Bitch opens for Cowslingers. Great show! My attorney has advised me not to reveal most of the events or people’s names from the time of the opening song to the last moments of the party. However, at one moment I needed clarity from the party so a walked outside and sat on a curb facing the south. Soon after I was joined by Greg. I noticed across the street there appeared to be people wearing goat head masks and long robes. Realizing this could be a misinterpretation of reality I asked Greg if he could confirm. He too needed reassurance on what he was witnessing and for a brief moment we both felt secure and safe in our shared reality. However, the evening was to take a dire turn as Krusty appeared, looking across the street and suggested bottlerockets as a diversion. Reluctantly we concurred, only to regret our decision once the poorly aimed fireworks started the Satanists’ leaf pile on fire.”

As I recall it was an autumn evening.  Things had started to get very bizarre in the party.  I remember Krusty attempted to look nonchalant while in the kitchen and decided to lean his hand down on the counter.  He had greatly misjudged the distance between his standing position and the counter and had ended up extended almost in a 45 degree angle.  He could have torn muscles in his torso he was so far stretched out.  He was then stuck trying to pretend that he meant to do this.  As visiting rock royalty, one does not want to look like a buffoon after all.  Unfortunately for Krusty, both Bobby and I saw him do this from across the room.  It has been well over a decade since this incident, and Bobby and I will still do the “Krusty lean” whenever possible.

I walked outside in an effort to “keep it all together” as might be said in an old Dragnet episode.  There I found The Enabler seated on the curb.  I sat down as we discussed how odd things had turned when he brought to my attention the goings on in the house across the street.  As God is my witness, we saw three people walk by the window.  Each one of them were in a variation of a goat’s head mask with flowing robes.  Skin was visible as the robes were being worn in an open style.  I can certainly understand The Enabler wanting to confirm what he saw as one does not expect to see some sort of Satanist swinger party in a small bungalow in Charleston Illinois.  That being said, if someone were to say to me “Hey, outside of Chicago, where in Illinois should I go to attend a satanic swinger’s party?” my answer would be “Charleston Illinois”.  (And I mean that as a compliment)

When Krusty walked outside to see us squinting at the Satanists, he was maybe more unnerved than we were.  His suggestion of shooting fireworks in their direction as a diversion made a great deal of sense at the time.  Clearly for us to avoid being seized and then tied up as some terrible human sacrifice as these people had an orgy in our blood was a bad scenario.  A series of large explosions in their area would allow us to calmly walk back into the party without any chance of being forced into servitude.  In retrospect, we could have just walked back inside instead of sending these shoddily made Mexican fireworks their way.  We should not have been surprised when the one rocket plunged into a pile of leaves next to their home and started that fire.  We were though.  We had just gotten too caught up in the enthusiasm of Krusty’s plan. 

One would think that we would have done the responsible thing and put the fire out.  We didn’t.  We ran.  It was like being 14 again.  Well, like being 14 if you had a van with out of state plates parked in front of the crime scene and needed to eventually go back and get it.  There were some police sent to look for us as squad cars tore up and down the neighborhood roads.  We had to keep jumping behind hedges.  I don’t know if the Satanists had to explain their situation in detail to the police when they notified them that two cowboys had set their yard on fire.  “Hello?  Police?  Yes, I am here at my home just about ready to have intercourse with five or so people when some cowboys set our leaves on fire.  I had to put my goat’s head mask down and put the damn fire out!”

Eventually we got tired of walking around and went back to the party.  The owner of the house, Graham, was in a Mexican wrestling mask hunched over in the kitchen eating beans out of a pot.  The music was really loud.  Some guy was passed out in a chair.  The lights were off over at the Satanists place.  Yeah, it was a good show.  

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Nurse the Hate: I, Wine Judge

I have accepted an invitation to be a judge at the International Wine and Spirits Competition based out of the London area.  First, let me say I know what you are thinking and I agree with you.  Why couldn’t an international wine competition based out of London find someone qualified on that continent instead of a jackass like you getting involved?  I have no idea.  I know their spec material states “The IWSC boasts the most highly qualified and trained group of international judges of any wine and spirits competition.”  It seems unlikely they are talking about me.

I will be judging some French wines.  Let me say that I feel badly for these poor French artisans.  Perhaps they are farming land which has been in their family for hundreds of years.  On the wall of their humble farmhouse is a faded black and white photo of a man with a prodigious mustache standing next to a mule.  It is Pépère Jean-Claude, shortly before he fought for Le Resistance.  It was only through his suffering and dogged effort that the family did not have to sell this land.  It was his son Pierre that modernized the winemaking with new oak casks and education in the latest advancements.  There were many lean years but the family saw themselves as tending this land, not owning it.  Each vintage is a gamble against nature and The Hand of God.  With one hail storm, it can be all swept away.  Through grace and sweat they have created this singular wine representative of place and time.  It is their unique voice.

Unfortunately for them some American jagoff, completely fatigued after playing a rock show thousands of miles away and then jetlagged beyond belief, will then be “judging” them.  I imagine I will be fueled up on insanely expensive coffee and cranky after a long train ride to the facility.  I will lean my head to the glass, slightly hungover after spending too much time at a touristy pub only hours ago, and pronounce like a Roman Emperor “This wine is… a bit clumsy on the nose!”.  And like that, their multi-generational effort will be discarded as my brief attention span has moved on to something else.  It’s a damn shame, but I don’t know what I can do to avoid it at this point.  The die has been cast.

I know there will be a series of “international incidents” at this event.  I have a much less rigid set of ideas concerning a variety of topics than our friends in the UK.  I am anticipating people from the event becoming very frustrated with me every 20 minutes or so.  I am willing to bet me saying things like “Hey man?  What are you so uptight about?” probably won’t help.  It’s not their fault at all.  They have already sent a very thorough set of instructions that I am to follow for each aspect of this event.  I haven’t offered so much as a glance at them.  My plan is very much to show up and see what happens, which would seem to be the exact opposite of the five attachments I have been sent. 

My direct contact for this event has been very friendly.  This is even though I continue to send him very perplexing emails such as asking if there will be a “IWSC Welcomes Greg Miller” banner to greet me at the shuttle area.  I also have some concern in that when I asked him about the dress code and wondering if it was OK to wear a Nine Pound Hammer work shirt with a pair of Chucks, I wasn’t kidding.  Oh well, it’s either that or play up my American roots and do the Uncle Sam On Stilts outfit.  Wish me luck.   

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Nurse the Hate: Hate United Airlines Again

April 24, 2017

Laura Mandile
United Airlines
Senior Manager, Contact Centers
233 S. Wacker Drive
Chicago, IL 60606

Ms. Mandile,

I hate to write you and add to your problems.  I have been watching with great interest the consumer blowback on your new "physical confrontation" style of customer service.  No matter what the public might whine about on Social media, you certainly taught that Dr. Dao a little lesson.  Kudos to not resorting to Tasers but instead giving him a "real good working over" by your goons.  That certainly sent a message.  I have increased my weight lifting in preparation for a team of thugs trying to rip me from my seat in the near future.  In a strange way, I look forward to the challenge.

The reason for my correspondence is the little matter of a 4.5-hour delay going into San Francisco on Friday April 21st and subsequent 16-hour delay on Sunday-Monday April 24.  As I understand it United continued to book flights into San Francisco without adjustments to scheduling despite the airport launching a construction project.  This project is on a runway which created limited access for takeoffs/landings and hence delays.  I am assuming the airport authority mentioned it to you and didn't just show up one morning with a bunch of guys and jackhammers closing runway A-16.  I have it pictured as a meeting at a big conference table where someone said "Does anyone want water?  Coffee?" before mentioning this major logistical obstacle.  Even just an email that contained the phrase "your flights are going to be running really late" was probably sent with one of those red flags that people tend to overuse in offices with announcements like "Melissa's birthday cake at 3:00p in the lunch room!".  Regardless, I'm thinking someone at United knew about this situation well in advance.

If I may continue to speculate, I am also thinking the same people that get enormous bonus checks based on earnings decided "Sure, everyone that flies into or out of that airport on one of our planes is going to get screwed, but if earnings go down, I might not get my quarterly bonus check to buy myself a mink tanning bed."  I, like most consumers, have noted your exciting new policy of not even pretending to care about customers any longer.  On one hand, I dig what you are doing.  Who doesn't love transparency?  Yet because of this lack of transparency in letting me know I had no prayer of arriving to my destination as per my ticket I purchased, I can't help but feeling "boned".  (Is that too strong?)

While getting into SFO on Friday at 130a instead of 900p was bad, being left for dead on Sunday was worse.  With a straight face your representatives gave me the option of flying to O'Hare overnight, landing at 6am and then waiting until 245p to get back to Cleveland.  I think having nine hours to kill in O’Hare after staying up all night was a bit much.  My other presented option was waiting in San Francisco until 145p Monday (which left at 310p by the way) without a hotel.  That was when the woman at the customer service desk smirked at me.  Do they tell them to do that in training?  I did appreciate that I wasn't pistol whipped by goons though.  Thank you for that.

Faced with those two options, I decided to stay overnight.  Your people refused to get me a hotel voucher but did provide me with a coupon to call a travel service (that you probably operate under a shell company) that told me that the only hotel available was the one star "Sunshine Motel".  I believe that the Sunshine figured prominently in a string of recent prostitution murders, so my interest in that property was “limited”.  I hung up on the travel experts and promptly booked myself into the allegedly unavailable Westin ALoft property nearby which even picked me up via shuttle.  That seemed like a better option than sleeping on a piece of cardboard in the hallway of SFO like a Calcutta orphan.  I shouldn't complain.  Certainly, at one point, I would have landed a job at Cinnabon, met a nice gal, and settled down on our combined piece of cardboard in Terminal Three.  Yet, I still harbored the dream of going home as per the ticket you sold me.

I am now sitting in a middle seat next to a couple of adult men penned in like a veal.  I will land at 1030p, another full day lost to your airline's footloose and fancy free operational policy.  I am hoping you will refund my ticket cost and hotel stay for last night as it was, by any objective opinion, completely your fault all of this occurred.  I understand that logistical issues occur, but I didn't buy a ticket for yesterday at "elevenish" to get back to Cleveland "at some point" despite that being the reality of the situation when you sold me the fantasy airline ticket in the first place.  

Can you do me a solid here?  You jammed it in me hard and now I am very sore.

Greg Miller

Monday, April 24, 2017

Nurse the Hate: Hate United Airlines 3

Had I only known what United Airlines was capable of, I would have certainly fought for those Cheez-Its Friday night…  Stories of travel disaster are sort of like stories about peculiar dreams.  They are crushingly boring unless it happened to you.  Yet, I think this is a pretty good one, so stick with me.

Flying from San Francisco to Cleveland on United is no picnic.  There is only one direct flight each way.  The return flight is at the horribly inconvenient time of 145p, which results in landing at about 930p after the time change.  This leads me to have to make some grim decisions.  There is a flight that leaves at 11:11p and connects through Chicago at 550am to Cleveland for an 8am arrival.  This provides the illusion of saving time and arriving back at home crisp and fresh, ready to take on the day.  In reality you arrive like a torn out dish towel, more animal than man.  Still, in an effort to be as productive as possible I decided to go that way.

As you may recall from an earlier post, I was delayed on my trip coming out here “due to air traffic control”.  There was a wild rumor that electricity was out in San Francisco.  Hey, what can you do?  Electricty is working great today!  As far as I can tell, the infrastructure here in the Bay Area looks tip top.  So I entered into this evening’s redeye flight with a positive attitude.  I had to kill hours upon hours waiting for the flight, but with the sheer amount of time I would save flying at night, I’d be way ahead!  My enthusiasm began to wane when the push alerts for my flight being delayed began to arrive.

It was a gorgeous sunny day in San Francisco today.  It was very confusing why so many flights on United were being delayed.  I then got an alert that my flight to Chicago would be delayed to the point that I would miss my Cleveland connection.  The last time that happened I had to rent a Hyundai at O’Hare and make a sleepless drive at 85 mph though Indiana where a cop pulled me over and said “I never want to see you again” after I offered him a bite of my egg bagel sandwich as a reward for letting me out of a speeding ticket.  I called my good friends at United to discuss a flight that I could take as I would miss the one they had booked me one initially.  Great news!  They could get me on a flight… at 245pm.

So my scenario was this… I could either fly overnight to Chicago where I would arrive and have to kill 8 hours and 45 minutes in the airport.  With that much time, I could probably have interviewed for and secured a job at Chili’s, and then had my first shift.  There is no doubt some upside there.  Chili’s has a great reputation.  I could also have stayed up all night and then rented that Hyundai for the suicide drive to Ohio for a approximate 230p arrival after dropping off the rental/getting my car.  Who doesn’t like to have the chance to really open up a Hyundai Sonata on those pristine Indiana roads?  Instead I decided to eliminate the chance for United to fuck me like a stranger in the ass and go for the direct flight tomorrow.  I had to cut my losses.

I then sashayed on over to the customer service desk in the hopes of bullying my way into a hotel voucher.  There were about 50 people there in various stages of losing their minds.  Still, I was thinking a logical person employed by United would say “Wow!  We really have fucked you over hard twice in the last three days.  Let me get you a hotel my man!”.  Surprisingly, this is not what happened.  I went to the representative and noted I had been fucked like a stranger in the ass all weekend by the airline.  She told me that I could have a coupon for a discount hotel booking website.  I mentioned how this had been their fault, so perhaps they could pick up the tab. She said it wasn’t their fault as it wasn’t mechanical in nature.  Well, what was the problem?  “Due to air traffic control”.  This was when I asked for a definition of what that term meant.

The woman at the counter then told me that “The US government determines when we can take off and land the planes.  It is out of our control. And with the construction project on the runway…”  A-ha!  I knew it!  This was when I countered with “Yes, but it wasn’t like United Airlines didn’t know about a planned construction project.  You could have adjusted flight schedules accordingly instead of letting everyone book knowing full well that you’d miss all these connections.  That was 100% in your control.  That’s unethical even for United, and I say that knowing that you just pistol whipped some senior citizen.”  That was when she just stared at me and smirked. 

Now a laugh I could deal with, but the smirk is tough.  That’s the expression to let me know that I have no power and she considers it amusing that I am trapped in SF with no hotel and no way to get them to be held accountable.  I went from being inquisitive to very annoyed.  “Excuse me.  Why are you smirking at me?”  Sir. Sir.  I am a human being.  Sometimes I am happy and I need to show my emotions.  “So me being trapped here without a place to sleep makes you happy?”  Sir.  I am smiling at something else.  “What are you smiling at?”  Sir, I don’t have to tell you that. 

This was when the dynamic really changed between us.  She was sitting behind one of those dramatic United counters with the logos.  She was just smirking away.  “Are you under the impression that this counter is a moat and I can’t get over this?  Is that what you think?  Because I am 100% confident I can, and I know that dude over there that looks like Jessie Ventura can too…”  That was when the Jessie Ventura guy said “You bet I can!”. So she decided to do what any customer service rep in that situation would do.  She went on break.  The crowd really went crazy then.  A promise was made to get “The Supervisor”.

I waited for “The Supervisor” for about 45 minutes with a dozen other people.  Six of them were beyond reason with rage.  They had ceased to be humans.  They had some horrible story about not connecting through to Philly and now had to stay at the airport until 345p tomorrow and United wouldn’t get them hotels.  “The Supervisor” never came.   Frankly, I don’t think that person exists.  I think it was a way to put the crazy people on ice.  I called the coupon number for my superdeal discount hotel.  They had one available for me.  It was a one star lodging.  I didn’t know one star lodging even existed.  I would have stayed there, but I didn’t have a prostitute I was going to murder or have any cocaine I needed to smoke, so I thought that might not be the right lodging for me.  Instead I called a hotel directly and negotiated a discounted rate at a place United said was sold out.         

Tomorrow is a new day.  I know United Airlines is going to fuck me over in a way I can’t even imagine yet.  I have been running scenarios through my head, but I know they are working on something really great.  The gloves are off now.  They have stopped pretending to give even a single fuck.  There will be no coupon, no rebate, or even a sorry offered to me.  They are going to continue to just dominate me until I lay on the floor submissively and cry.  Only then will they provide the basic service for which I have already paid them.  I need to see if this hotel shuttle will swing by some bondage shop in the morning so I can get my Gimp outfit.  I know they booked me back row in the middle.  That Gimp outfit will make that flight nice and comfy.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Nurse the Hate: Hate United Airlines 2

I am currently padding around my well appointed Union Square hotel room in San Francisco in my underwear.  Having purchased a large bottle of Mike Hess Brewing India Pale Ale Grapefruit Solis at a corner store was a good idea.  Discovering I didn’t have a bottle opener in the room and using the handle of the dresser proved to be a bad idea as the bottle exploded over my pant legs, hence my now more relaxed attire.  I considered donning the complimentary hotel fluffy bathrobe, but I thought it a bit much.  I am quite hungry and wouldn’t mind filling out a loan application to see if I could buy some room service.  A club sandwich at this hotel costs as much as a late model domestic used car.  However, I don’t want some kind of weird scene when the overworked Mexican busboy delivers the food and I am the creep in a robe that answers the door. Best just to leave the whole situation alone. 

I am on a real sleepless jag.  I might have a physical collapse.  I arrived last night at 1:38 am, or 4:38 am my body clock time.  Our good friends at United Airlines once again dashed my hopes and dreams at O’Hare Airport stranding me there on a 4.5 hour delay Friday night.  My absolute favorite part of United Airlines “customer service” is now they have stopped with even the pretense of giving one single fuck.  Without a real explanation they delayed the flight numerous times until announcing everyone would have to line up to be re-seated.  The rationale was never explained.  Thus an entire plane full of Boeing 777 passengers had to line up single file and go one by one to A) complain about the delay B) complain about their new seat location C) and make idle threats. 

The official reason for the delay was “air traffic control”, which I think is an airport version of “because we said so”.  It was never made clear.  When they announced a delay for the sixth time, United brought out the big guns.  An elderly Asian man rolled out a small metal cart.  Without any fanfare or announcement he opened up two drawers and opened a box with Cheez-Its and one box with Nutrigrain bars.  Then he silently walked away from the cart much as you would if feeding hyenas at the zoo.  On the side of the cart was a United logo with the phrase “Enjoy a snack”.  Most people had given up all self respect by this point and descended on the food like jackals.  There were approximately 20 bags of Cheez-Its for 300 passengers.  It was a snack food version of The Octagon.

Now I’m not saying I don’t appreciate this small gesture.  However, I am thinking that maybe 4.5 hours of my time might be worth more than the opportunity of fighting off a woman in yoga pants for a .78 cent bag of crackers.  How about some frequent flier miles or maybe a comp upgrade in my future?  That’s not United’s game though.  Their move is to give you the absolute bare minimum for failure to provide service and hope you don’t bitch.  If you do, they will offer another small premium.  This will continue as they ratchet up the line of defense at each level until people tire of the struggle.  After last week’s episode with that old man getting his ass kicked, I would think twice about complaining about not getting any Cheez-Its. 

My 6:58p departure left at about 11:15p.  My plan was to arrive here in San Francisco at my little wine class crisp and refreshed on Saturday morning so I could enhance my admittedly slim chance of passing the Impossible Wine Test this June.  Instead I went to sleep around 230a to get up at 7a so I could walk into a windowless conference room to blind taste 6 wines and provide in depth tasting notes.  I would describe my condition as “tired as fuck”.  I knew I was doing poorly when the best I could figure out on the first three wines was they tasted like “red wines”.  I will also tell you that if you haven’t slept, a lecture on soil compositions in Sonoma County is not what you are looking for to rivet your attention.  As I am picking up the expense of the flight and hotel just so I can try to soak in this information, I feel a bit “disappointed” in United Airlines for failing to live up to their end of the bargain in getting me here at a reasonable time.  I thought about showing up at the airport for my sure-to-be-delayed return flight in yellow shooting sunglasses and a tire iron smashing up their Customer Service area while screaming “See what you get United?  You see what you get for fucking a stranger in the ass?  This is what you get!  This is what you get for fucking a stranger in the ass!”.  However after seeing the video of the goons they have employed deep in the bowels of the airport, I thought again. 

I’d better just shut up and wait for my Cheez-Its.       

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Nurse the Hate: The Sick Sister

I received an email today from a woman I know through business, who is a relative stranger.  This is the third one of these scam emails I have received in the last month.  It's always the same hustle too.  These people must go to a scam seminar or something.  Why do they always do the same script at the same time?

I decided not to look upon this as an annoyance, but rather as an opportunity.


On Apr 19, 2017, at 6:16 AM, Karen Jones  wrote:


Please where are you at the moment? I need you to do me a favor. Kindly get back to me as soon as you get this.


Karen L. Jones


From: Miller, Greg
Sent: 19 April 2017 14:43
To: Karen Jones
Subject: Re: Urgent

What is it Karen?


From: Karen Jones
Sent: Wednesday, April 19, 2017 10:12 AM
To: Miller, Greg
Subject: Hi

Good  to hear from you, I'm Currently in UK due to some urgent matters to help my sick sister, she was diagnosed with (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia) a type of Blood Cancer and had been undergoing treatment lately. 

The hospital management is demanding for a deposit before they can carry out the surgery operation to save her life and I traveled down here with little money because I never expected things to be the way it is right now. Can you assist me with a loan ? I'll surely pay back as soon as I get back home. Please, let me know if you can be of help. I’ll be happy to hear from you soon regarding my request and please remember to keep this private.

Karen Jones


From: Miller, Greg
Sent: 19 April 2017 16:19
To: Karen Jones
Subject: RE: Hi

Good Lord Karen!  That sounds like a real powderkeg of a situation.  First your sister has that lion attack while on safari, and now this?  I told her not to quit that job she had before that trip.  Even though it was in the sex trade, at least she had medical benefits. 

You can count on me to keep it private.  What do you need me to do?


From: Karen Jones
Sent: Wednesday, April 19, 2017 10:45 AM
To: Miller, Greg
Subject: Re: Hi

I need about  £3,000 to settle the bills at the hospital . But do help me  with what you can raise if not everything because this is really urgent and important in saving a life.
You can send the money directly to me through Western Union Money Transfer since that will be faster. Below are the details to do that :


RECEIVER ADDRESS :1  Southampton Row London WC1B 5HA, UK .   


Please kindly send me a copy of the transfer receipt so i can pickup the money on time. I really appreciate your help and will be expecting your response


Karen Jones


From: Miller, Greg
Sent: 19 April 2017 16:50
To: Karen Jones
Subject: RE: Hi


As you know I am stuck here on the pony farm having to deal with that rash they all broke out with.  All day long I’m applying ointment to the “undercarriages” of those damn ponies.  I never should have sold the alpacas. 

I can’t get out of here to get to Western Union.  You know what might work better?  I could give you my checking account info with the passwords and stuff and you could just make the transfer to your account.  Do you want to do that?  It seems like every second counts on this thing!


From: Karen Jones
Sent: Wednesday, April 19, 2017 11:54 AM
To: Miller, Greg
Subject: Re: Hi

Since you can not make Western Union transfer due to your busy schedule kindly send me the checking account info and passwords. But if you'll be able to make the transfer via Western Union please kindly go ahead.
Hope to read from you soon.


Karen Jones


From: Miller, Greg
Sent: 19 April 2017 17:57
To: Karen Jones
Subject: RE: Hi


I just spoke to my bank.  I have them ready to make the transfer to you but apparently I need to get your checking information with your passwords.  Please send to me that information at once so I may go ahead.


From: Karen Jones
Sent: Wednesday, April 19, 2017 12:39 PM
To: Miller, Greg
Subject: Re: Hi

Since i arrive here in UK I haven't been able to access my account as planned. That is why i wanted you to  make the transfer via Western Union. 
The doctor in-charge here has really been assisting me a lot and has also offer to drop his account details for the transfer. Kindly get back to me if i should go ahead with the account info.


Karen Jones


From: Miller, Greg
Sent: 19 April 2017 18:48
To: Karen Jones
Subject: RE: Hi

I have just spoken to my bank.  They suggest that I send a credit to your credit card.  All I need to do that is your account number, PIN, and security code.  Can you send that to me at once?  I am VERY worried about your sister.


From: Karen Jones
Sent: Wednesday, April 19, 2017 12:59 PM
To: Miller, Greg
Subject: Re: Hi

I told you that i can not access my account here as planned so let me know if you'll be making the transfer to the doctor's account.



From: Miller, Greg
Sent: 19 April 2017 19:51
To: Karen Jones
Subject: RE: Hi

Karen, I am standing here in the pony stable covered in ointment.  I have been thinking about your response and thinking of the past.  Our past.  I cannot pretend a moment longer.  How can you be like this?  After all we have been through?  You cannot just ignore what we had... what I know we still have.  Can you tell me that you have forgotten our last night together?  When I had too many pints at Duck & Waffle and then proceeded to do the "woo-hoo" from Blur's "Song 2" during the entire performance of "Cosi fan tutte" at the Royal Opera House?  You forgave me Karen.  You forgave me because you loved me.  And you showed me that love in our room at The Savoy.  You made love to me so sweetly... so expertly.... so.... professionally... I would never forget it.  

Where did it go oh so wrong my Karen?  I know we both did things that we regret.  I'm sure that you look back on the past and wish you had done something differently.  There is plenty of blame to go around.  I will admit that I regret taking all of the money from your purse while you slept.  I should not have slipped out of the hotel room that morning leaving you with the bill.  It was probably also a mistake to have left on the sea cruise to Greece with that Ukrainian whore Katiana later that afternoon.  Mistakes were made.  But I think we can agree that these mistakes were made on both sides.

It has been a long time Karen.  I was surprised to hear from you today.  Please know that I want to right those wrongs of the past now.  I have always meant to pay you back that money and now I can.  If only you will give me your password and PIN number.  Karen, I need you to trust me.  Please note that if you see any withdrawal from your account initially it is only standard procedure from the bank.  Within 24 hours the money taken from your account will be replaced as well at the additional $3000 I will be providing.  There is nothing to concern yourself over my beloved flower.

Time is wasting.  Let us forget the past!  Let us save your sister and allow our love to begin again.  Trust me Karen!  With not only your bank account but with your heart!  I await your account info.  (Don’t forget the PIN number)

Nurse the Hate: WSET Diploma Blues 2

I continue to slog ahead in the WSET Diploma still wines unit.  The amount of information is completely overwhelming.  I am hopelessly behind after my two week stretch zonked out on Nyquil, Robitussin, Espresso and Whiskey.  I knew I was in a real tight spot conceptually a week ago.  It is one thing to feel like things have gotten away from you as an overall idea.  "Yeah, I got to pick it up over here."  It reminds me of being that guy in a college history course that hasn’t opened the book yet with the exam creeping ever closer.  Whereas the rest of the class is drilling down on the designs of the Bayeux Tapestry, I’m the guy that is listening to Circle Jerks records, drinking beer, and not totally sure of where France is even located on a map.  Well, that’s not completely accurate.  I spend almost every free moment reading wine texts and doing tastings on obscure wines.  I just can’t do it fast enough to keep up. I'm not retaining enough information because I might be slightly brain damaged.

It all became evident that things had gotten out of hand when I received a practice test for the week from my online classroom.  Let me give you a feel for it.  One of the questions is this:  

With reference to the wines of Europe, write about FIVE of the following:

  • Assyrtiko
  • Dolcetto
  • Grüner Veltliner
  • Hárslevelü
  • Mencia
  • Scheurebe

Uh-oh.  If I was in the exam, I would stand up and walk out of the room directly to the airport.  It would be somehow more noble than the answers I would provide.  Off the top of my head, my answer would be something along these lines. 

Assyrtiko I assume is something Greek.  I’ve never had it.  That’s because I don’t eat Greek food and no store near me carries Greek wine because there are about a million other wines in the same price point that are better.  I’d drink it if they offered cups of it at gyro carts near crummy bars I guess.  Dolcetto is the Italian red wine that people drink in Piedmont when they are sitting around a café eating sausage and hard cheese and that’s what the café offers by the glass.  You’d rather have a Barbera, or a Barberesco/Barolo but you don’t want to spend $65+ on a bottle that your dipshit friend that is with you won’t even appreciate.  They call it “the little sweet one”, which was sort of a way to con the peasants into thinking this clearly inferior wine to the others in the region was just fine for them.  Gruner Veltliner was every East Coast somm’s favorite white wine for about a minute because no one had heard of it and it made them seem cool to recommend it.  It’s acidic and citrusy.  It’s pretty good but why not just get a Riesling instead?  It’s usually much better.  Let that douchebag somm with the waxed beard sell Gruner to tourists in Brooklyn.   Harslevelu is a grape used in a wine that you get poured at your ethnic early 20’s girlfriend’s house by her grandfather who made it in the garage.  His could rip the paint off a car.  It burns your throat so badly that from that point on you sing like Tom Waits.  From that one experience, you never touch the stuff again.  When blended with furmint it makes a beautiful dessert wine the Russian Royals enjoyed after a nice day of genocide on their people.  Communism was no good for Harslevelu.  Tough to sell sweet wine in Hungary to people that couldn’t afford potatoes.  Harslevelu is now noteworthy in America for being in the one very dusty bottle of Tokaji on the bottom shelf in the same general area as where they keep Marsala in most decent wine shops.   Mencia is the new cool grape from Spain that is like a low rent Zin.  No one has heard of it as the Bierzo region where it comes from is like the West Virginia of Spain.  This is what those D-bag Gruner Veltliner somms moved onto after they realized other guys with waxed beards were also trying to sell Gruner to everyone.  A good thing to say if you want to sound cool in DC is “I had this amazing organic Bierzo last night.  100% Mencia.  Hand harvested.  Fucking killer.”.  Scheurebe is a super obscure German/Austrian grape that was some unholy science experiment by the Dr. Mengele of grape doctors in Germany.  It’s this very aromatic grape that they make sweet wines that no one is interested in because no one is interested in the even better sweet wines they make from Riesling or Muscat or gewürztraminer either.   If you find this in a wine shop it got there by mistake, or some wine sales rep was trying to win a sales contest and shoved it down the poor wine buyer’s throat.     

My gut feeling is that the answers I just provided will not fly amongst the WSET grading staff.  While my answers are not technically wrong, and I have, in fact, “written” about these wines, I don’t think the tone and/or tenor of my answers are what they are looking for in an exam format.  If you want to get down to it, they are asking you to “write about” these topics.  So if I answer with something like “It was the 8th of July and I was on a chopper outside of Fresno drunk to the gills on Scheurebe I had clipped from a BevMo when the cops started chasing me.” I think it is technically “writing about” scheurebe.  I don't know though.  Once again, I might need to focus on retaining more info on the actual grape and resulting wines.  I think my writing style and current focus might be an issue at WSET.

It’s a hell of a thing I’ve gotten myself into…

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Nurse the Hate: The End of Steve Stephens

I saw the news in a small diner where I stopped for a quick bite.  I liked eating at the counter there.  It was a good place to blend in and disappear.  We stared at the TV screen where the news ran a recurring montage of social video from the murderer prior to his being apprehended.  In the end, it went like all murders of this type go, with the killer shooting himself in the head as police closed in.  The cops will call it “eating his gun” back at the station talking amongst themselves.  The police had haphazardly placed a yellow tarp over the suicide scene of the driver’s side of the car, which was a great annoyance to the news crew struggling to provide an image to drive “clicks” on the website.  A head blown open would certainly go viral and result in many pageviews.  The news helicopter hovered overhead hoping a gust of wind would expose the body.

Most of the people at the diner counter looked on at the video.  We were all strangers, but this type of excitement brought people together.  Everyone had an opinion.  The man to my left dipped his fries in ketchup and shifted in his stool.  “I’ll tell you what man…  I bet a dude shoots himself in the head in his car, nobody wants that fucking car.  I’m gonna offer that family $500 for that car to see if they take it.”   You aren’t freaked out by a bunch of blood soaked into a car seat and the carpet?  “Fuck no man.  I can call a buddy of mine at a wrecking yard, get a used front seat, rip the fucking carpet out and I’m good to go.”

Now at this point I’m fascinated that a man looks at a suicide after a short police chase and thinks, “This is a terrific used car buying opportunity!”.  I must delve into it further so I ask more questions.  So, let’s say the family, despite seeing their kin shoot himself right after committing a random murder on social media even wants to sell you the car… which I think is a big “if” by the way…  Aren’t you worried about bad karma or spirits?  “No way man!  Ghosts don’t live in cars.  They live in houses.”  I hadn't even considered the concept of a "haunted car".  So, you’re saying that if the ghost of Steven Stevie Steve Stephens even exists, you’re not concerned because he won’t stay in the car?

“Look man…  All you got to do is open the window and that ghost flies out.  Winds of the natural world move them around.  That’s why they live in houses, so the fucking wind doesn’t blow them out of there.  You just get on the highway and open it up.  No way a ghost can stay in that car.”  OK, so with this logic you are saying that if you have a haunted house, all you need to do to get rid of them is wait for some gale force winds or a hurricane, open all the windows, and then the spirits get blown out?  “That’s right man.  You get it.”  Well what about if you brought in some monster industrial fans?  “Nah.  That shit isn’t winds of nature.  They see the fans and float into a closet or shit.”  Yes, but isn’t wind from a fan going to move the air regardless?  “I don’t know man.  You hear about ghosts and shit on the East Coast and around here, but you ever hear of one in Oklahoma or Kansas where they have those fucking tornados all the time?  I don't know about any Florida ghosts.  That wind blows them outta there!”

So, you are saying ghosts float around if they get knocked out of a car or a house and then look for a place to shield them from the wind?  “Yeah.  They float about 15-20 mph.  Some are probably faster.  You know how they say cheetah run 50 mph?  How do we know that they didn’t time the one cheetah that was the LeBron James cheetah, and most of those cheetah only run about 40 mph?  I mean, you are a human and LeBron James is a human but I know that he can outrun you!  So maybe some ghosts can go 23 mph, but most are about 15-20.  They can’t catch a car.”  How come I’ve never seen a ghost floating down the sidewalk looking for a house to find shelter in then?  “I don’t know.  How the hell would I know where you drive?”  You see ghosts where you drive?  "Nah man.  I ain't never seen a ghost."

I took a bite of my omelet and wheat toast and thought it over carefully.  This guy had considered every option.  With the right amount of “willing suspension of disbelief”, he had a point.  I had lost him to his own thoughts.  He kept looking at the TV and the helicopter shot of the car.  He put his napkin down on the counter with a swift motion while shaking his head.  “Man, that car is way nicer than mine.  $500.  I bet they’d take it too.”  

Friday, April 14, 2017

Nurse the Hate: The First Time We Played With the Steam Donkeys

The band is headed to Buffalo today, in what used to be one of my favorite places to play, Mohawk Place.  Buffalo is basically the same city as Cleveland, the bones of closed industry and weathered houses proudly standing up against harsh weather.  It's always felt familiar there.  The people are the same as in NE Ohio, down to earth folks that just want a good time.  In both of our cities there was a nonexistent roots rock scene when we both got started.  I don’t know why, but in my experience the worse the weather is in a place, the more they like metal.  Detroit loves fast and hard music.  The Cayman Islands?  Not much of a metal scene.  It’s just the way that it is.

We discovered the Steam Donkeys existed when club owners would refuse to book The Cowslingers in various venues in the Buffalo area in our Early Days of Bitter Struggle.  “You guys should do a gig with the Steam Donkeys.  They’re kinda like you guys.”  This is well before the web.  The only way to get shows in other cities was to trick someone into letting you play there once to prove you were a legitimate band and hoped they remembered you.  Everything was done on the phone, with most clubs booking in tiny little time windows.  “Richard does the booking on Tuesdays between 2-330”.  I’d be in the middle of a work day when it would hit me that my one chance to potentially talk to the guy that booked Sudsy Malone’s this week was going to run out in 17 minutes.  The system worked somehow.  (Now they just ignore your emails and never pick up a phone.) 

Our problem was always that in this region of the country there were three other bands across five states that did anything close to what we did.  There was nobody to play with that sounded like us.  When I found out that a band in Buffalo was doing something like us, I couldn’t believe it.  It seemed like a wild rumor, like a giant squid sighting.  I think I called Buck and we figured out a couple of dates to swap shows in our hometowns with each other.  Buck was getting the same runaround in Cleveland that I was in Buffalo.  I think I got us a show at the Symposium and Buck booked us at their favorite place, Club Utica. 

Club Utica was a down home legit country bar in Buffalo NY.  I didn’t know such a thing was even possible.  The Cowslingers were most certainly NOT a country band, but we were twangy and knew Johnny Cash and Hank Williams songs, so that was close enough as far as we were concerned.  Also of note during this period was the lack of Google directions.  When you needed to figure out where a place was that you were going to play, you needed to call your contact in the city and get the info.  So, every time we went to a venue in a “new” city, we would have written directions on a piece of ripped notebook paper that read something like “Take I-90 until Exit 6.  When you get off, take a right at the second Burger King.  There will be this fucked up looking tire store near there.  Veer towards that.  The street might be called Washington St.  Go for about 2 miles and take a left after the video store and Chinese place.  The club is on the corner.  Don’t park in the back or someone will steal your shit.”

Club Utica was a great place.  All the walls had faded 8X10 framed photos from obscure country acts from the 1970s I had never heard of.  They all looked like people that didn’t get cast on HeeHaw and were forced to play county fairs in campers.  We rolled in and the place had sort of a rough vibe as the working-class country residents living nearby had transitioned to a more “urban” and “lower income” population.  After speaking to an obviously intoxicated bartender we became concerned.  It turned out that the owner was VERY serious about his country music being reverential to country music tradition.  In fact, he was so concerned about it that he was known to wave a loaded pistol at anyone that dared to perform in his club and dared disrespect country music.  Meanwhile The Cowslingers were specifically about disrespecting the sacred cows of country music.  I will be frank.  We were concerned about our well-being.

When we started our opening set, I remember telling the guys, “No matter what happens, just keep playing.  One song into the next.  Don’t stop.”.  The sparse crowd that had begun to assemble didn’t look very happy at the rag tag band they were looking at on stage.  We plowed through a set of songs that were our most “country”.  The fact that our most “country” song at the time was a 150-mph version of “Why Don’t You Love Me”, that plan seemed sort of laughable.  I was wondering how badly a slug from a .38 was going to hurt when the unthinkable happened.  Bobby broke a string.  Suddenly we had to stop.  The crowd was totally quiet for a pause.  I think they were as surprised as we were that we had stopped.  Then they noticed they had a moment, so they applauded enthusiastically.  Hey!  We weren’t going to die!  What a relief!

The rest of the show was really fun.  We drank a hundred beers with the crew at the bar and grooved on the Steam Donkeys “Flying Burrito Brothers” vibe.  Those guys had captured the sound of that hippie twinkle in the eye Bakersfield sound.  They were seamlessly mixing their own well written originals with covers that were obscure to me at the time.  We dug 'em.  We had found fellow believers out there in the wilderness.  It was then an incident happened that I think we cemented our long-term relationship with the Steam Donkeys.

One of the neighborhood denizens wandered into the bar and gravitated to Leo.  I can guarantee you that if someone is damaged in some way, they will be drawn to Leo like a magnet.  Maybe they recognize one of their own?  I don’t know, but it happens.  So, this shaggy dog of a guy goes over to Leo and asks, “Hey man, you want to buy some weed?”.  Those of you that know Leo know that answer is always “yes”.  Leo, ever worldly, asked this guy what he had.  “Thai stick”.  That got his attention.

Now I am not a weed guy.  It just doesn’t interest me.  I don’t know very much about the culture of it or product specs.  However, I do know that Thai stick is allegedly a rare and very exotic strain of pot.  The chance of this guy in his tattered clothes having something rare and exotic was somewhere between “zero” and “none”.  Leo asks me if he can borrow some money so he can buy some Thai stick from this guy.  “Leo, that guy is going to rip you off.  He doesn’t have any Thai stick.  He is going to take your money and run away.”  Leo gets miffed that I refuse to help him and seeks out Bob.

Bobby must have been about 18.  Why Leo thinks it is a good idea to rope an 18-year-old kid into a “Thai stick deal” in a bad neighborhood of Buffalo is open to speculation.  All I know is these two guys come back from outside of the club feeling good about themselves.  Leo is grinning from ear to ear, and Bob is super excited to have been so close to the seedy underbelly of rock and roll.   Leo is nodding his head up and down in a confident “I just got over” way.  We pack up the gear and head over to John from the Steam Donkey's house, who graciously put us up.

Leo takes this little plastic bag and announces to John that he had made the score of scores and purchased Thai stick.  John, already skeptical, asks “At Club Utica?”.  Leo explains that he had gone outside with the guy, inspected the goods, and pronounced it as good to go.  He then asked John if he wanted to have some of it with him, just two drummers enjoying the fruits of their rock and roll labor.  I can tell that John is fascinated to see what Leo is going to pull out of his pocket.  It’s like a guy announced he bought a Fabergé egg at a flea market. 

Leo pulls out the sandwich baggie and opens it.  John immediately starts laughing.  “Dude!  That’s cuttlebone!”  What’s cuttlebone?  “It’s shit you give to pet birds! HAHAHAHAHAHA!”  Sure enough, it’s cuttlebone.  Leo had mistaken bird food for Thai stick.  The best part? 

Leo tried to smoke it.

Man, I can’t wait to see the Steam Donkeys tonight.   

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Nurse the Hate: A Bombshell

It was a complete surprise.  I knew that she might have been involved with other men, but this still was a shock.  She was so cavalier in telling me the news, which made it even worse.  I played it cool, like it meant nothing, but I was destroyed.  I found her behavior selfish and immature, even factoring in her young age.  She gave no thought to anyone but herself, not even mentioning to me the possibility that our relationship was on shaky ground.  I was totally unprepared.  It’s unbelievable she would just do what she did to me.  How could my hair stylist just get engaged and prepare to move away from the city without even a thought to my needs?  That fucking bitch.

I know what you are thinking.  Where do you go from here after that selfish woman did what she did?  How can you ever trust in that relationship again?  Let’s face it.  I’m not a young man any more.  I’m not going to just go rushing into a series of one off haircuts with whatever trashy young thing with a pair of scissors comes around.  Sure, it might be OK once or twice.  Fun even.  But I am at a point in my life where I want more than just a new pair of hands washing flowery conditioner off my head every 4-5 weeks.  I know what I want.  I expect more.  I don’t want to have to go through the awkward introductory phase of surface questions.  “Oh, what part of town do you live?”   Don’t you understand?  I had a stylist that already knew where I lived.   We had something.  Something you could never understand.

Now I am going to bounce around that salon like a cheap prom date.  Maybe I get my haircut from Sheila.  Let’s say it doesn’t work out.  Maybe she smells like cigarettes.  Maybe she can’t stop talking about her ex-husband.  Maybe she can’t cut hair very well and I wind up looking like a member of the Small Faces in 1969.  Then I go to Jessica.  There I am sitting in the chair with Jessica when Sheila walks by.  That’s very uncomfortable.  “Oh… Hi Sheila… I just… I called last minute and…  I guess Jessica could fit me in and… Ah…”  Then Sheila will hit me with a smug smile that says “sure” while offering lip service along the lines of “It’s no big deal” when we both know it’s a big deal.  Suddenly I’m involved in this “whole thing” between Sheila and Jessica when all I want is to be back with my old stylist Jenny (despite Jenny tossing me away like a Styrofoam cup, which makes me feel even worse).  I am lost in a sea of hopelessness. 

I will admit to having some dark conversations this afternoon.  Desperate times make men do desperate things.  At one point, there was a discussion of setting up Jenny’s fiancé in a compromising situation with a prostitute where I would have him drugged and the prostitute killed.  When he woke up my henchmen would convince the fiancé that he had killed the hooker in a drug fueled rage.  I would then dispose of the prostitute’s body as a favor to the fiancé while in exchange forcing him to break off the engagement.  It seemed to be a reasonable solution.  Ultimately it was decided that a blackmail operation involving killing a relatively innocent sex worker might be a bit rash right out of the gate.  That’s on hold while other options are explored.

There is just so much uncertainty.  I’ve been out of “the game” for a long time now.  I don’t even know how someone goes about meeting a new stylist these days.  Is there some sort of app I need to download?  Do I have to go to some sort of speed chair situation where I sit in a series of stylist chairs where we feel each other out for compatibility?  Am I expected just to walk in cold off the street and ask someone I don’t even know, “Want to give me a haircut”?  What if she says no?  In front of all her friends?  I just don’t know if I can deal with that…

I think back to the good days with my old stylist.  Was that all a lie?  It’s hard now to know she was probably already planning to stick a knife in my back and leave me while she spent 12 minutes cutting my hair a month ago.  It was partially my fault for not making it clear that my expectations were for her to put my needs ahead of hers always.  This situation partially reminds me of when my previous stylist, also a self-centered narcissist, left the salon to have a baby.  I swear that woman thought the world revolved around her.  It's yet another case where this woman failed to look at The Big Picture.  Despite that I failed to learn a lesson and just jumped into a new stylist relationship.  Look how that worked out...    

I’m still in shock.  I don’t know where I go from here.  I’m just trying to pick up the pieces and see what comes next.  It’s my only option.  Well, that or start wearing a knit reggae cap and grow dreads.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Nurse the Hate: My Vision in Kankakee

I had considered moving to Kankakee, not for a tangible reason so much as I liked the ring of it.  Once there I would insert myself as the town religious figure, a powerful visionary which had arisen from the dust as if from divine provenance.  With soaring sermons and folksy wisdom I would enrapture the congregate until I could have them do my bidding.  I will give to them the greatest gift of all, that of a vision.  Our efforts would first be focused on accumulating the funds necessary to build a mammoth cathedral, multiple spires reaching into the sky at a height considered mathematically impossible by the engineers and architects who would gather in the dusk to shake their heads at the sheer folly.  Undeterred by logic or reason, the project will move forward.  There will be setbacks, horrible setbacks.  Yet the congregation would push on.  Driven like slaves they would cast off all other earthly ambitions to focus on this one goal.  Simple people united by this shared madness working like ants crawling all over the massive project.  Truckdrivers become masons, housewives sculptors.  There I stand waving my arms in direction, always pushing forward at a pace that threatens to break the physical limits of these believers despite their unbending resolve.  The vast building houses an immense common area for worship with catacombs of side rooms, crypts, chapels, galleries, performance houses all with secret passages and a pointlessly complex tunnel system underneath.  It is spectacular, beautiful and horribly grotesque all at the same time.  At last as it nears completion a dark series of clouds gather with ominous greens and purples on the horizon.  The clouds have colors that are not normally found in nature.  A massive funnel cloud begins to form as if God himself as decided to destroy the structure.  It is as if God himself has found this an affront, a monument to vanity. The realization will sweep over the crowd that all of their work, their lives, will be destroyed in moments.  The congregation begins to weep, some screaming to the sky asking for justification at this cruel punishment.  I struggle against the gathering winds to set up an old fashioned tripod camera, the curtain shielding the viewfinder flapping against my back.  I race against time to secure a record of the existence of this triumph over man’s limits.  I push the switch of the lens and hear the satisfying click of the shutter as the roar of the incoming tornado sounds like a freight train.  I scurry off to the catacombs just in time as cathedral fails to stand up to the circular winds, the sound of falling stone like explosions above.  Dust trickles from the ceiling of the passageway as the building falls.  As if the health of this landmark was somehow tied to my own, I collapse in the passage clutching the tripod of the camera.  A young parishioner, no more than a boy, takes to his knees and whispers “Father, are you alright?”.  No my son.  I am dying.  You must take this camera to a man named Unger.  He has a small space in Wapakoneta which is marked as a Slovenian Butcher Shop.  Unger is in a back room past a black curtain.  Inside he has the last of the chemicals which can develop this photograph.  He will claim to be a taxidermist named Felix.  Be firm with him.  Tell him you know his real identity.  Tell him you know of the chemicals.  You tell him to make only one print.  He must send it to my love.  Tell her I did this all for her.  Can you do this for me my son?  Then I will expire, my grip finally loosening on the antique camera.

Then again, that seems like a whole lot of trouble.