Saturday, December 29, 2018

Nurse the Hate: The Boy That Pissed His Pants and NFL Picks

For some reason I was thinking about the last time I pissed my pants.  The good news is that this event did not occur recently like Leo.  Then again, Leo had lost a card game in the van with the highest stakes possible, our standard game of "dehumanizing acts".  As I recall in an effort to win a carton of smokes he lost Blackjack enough times to "The House" (Latina and I) that the only way he could get clear of the debt was to piss his pants in front of us in Champaign IL.  That's not like he lost control of his bladder, but in actuality had complete control of his bladder.  The good news was that he had won the last round he had played where he would have had to wet himself in the Skins and Tins drum shop while laying on the ground saying "Baby Leo needs changed!".  See?  It's not like he completely lost.

The last time I wet my pants was when I was about four years old in nursery school.  I remember it was getting to the end of the day and we were assembled around small tables with blocks and puzzles.  We had already had a rough day of finger painting and naps, so it was a fucking grind, you know?  It was almost time for the whistle to blow.  So there I was any the table when I noticed I really had to urinate.  Badly.  Meanwhile, parents had begun to arrive to get their kids to take them home.  I weighed my ability to wait it out for my mother versus my fear of approaching an adult to ask the embarrassing question of "can I go to the bathroom?".  I was so painfully shy that the idea mortified me.  I was afraid to stand out in any way.  I would obsess if I had said my name too loudly or too quiet during roll call.  I always thought people were judging me to be inferior in some way I couldn't grasp.  No, I would wait rather than face my fear of asking an authority figure to go.

I began to enter what I would call "a crisis situation".  It hurt and I didn't know how I could keep it in much longer.  I began to move around thinking this technique could buy me the necessary time.  If there were one of those World War II air raid sirens, it would have begun to scream.  I was at my breaking point.  I made the decision.  I was going to piss right now.  Anything had to be better than this.  A warmth spread across my pants.  I would not have a feeling of relief wash over me in quite the same way until many years later when trying to stop from ejaculating in the company of a young woman and finally saying to myself "Fuck it.  This is happening.".

I remember continuing to play with the blocks as the urine washed out of me.  I played it cool.  Hey, whatever was happening down below this table top was out of sight, out of mind.  Suddenly, my little friend Donald shrieked and pointed.  "He's peeing!  He's peeing!"  That little narc.  Still, it was hard to ignore the giant pool of urine rapidly expanding out by our feet.  I lamely attempted to deny it.  "What?  Peeing?  No.  That's not possible.  And I have no idea why the front of my pants are so suddenly dark and damp."  The entire school room screamed out like an axe wielding clown had popped out of a closet.  This was going to be a public relations disaster.

A young teacher leaned down and helped me out of the room.  She was very empathetic and comforting.  She helped clean me up and found me some dry pants to change into.  In retrospect, I might not have been the first four year old to have run into this particular problem.  She squatted down to look at me eye to eye and said something kind.  I will always remember that act of kindness, this seemingly tiny event in a long life.  It's a reminder that the smallest things can have great impact.  I went back out to the classroom, sure I would be shunned and permanently remembered as "the kid that pissed his pants".  Yet, the class had moved on and people ran around like nothing had happened.  What seemed like big deal had been almost nothing.  It's a reminder that when things seem at their lowest point, this moment will pass.      

No one could be lower than Smith-Schuster of the Steelers, who might have singlehandedly blown the Steelers playoff chances last week with an ill-timed fumble.  He was shown crying on the bench.  I'm glad there wasn't any video of my crying in that nursery school.  The other thing is that nobody was tweeting out pictures of me in my urine soaked pants to the world.  But everyone forgot about me because four year olds have the attention span of gnats.  This is not the same of NFL fans.  They are going to remember that fumble.  He's got one chance to get out of his pee streaked pants.  Smith-Schuster needs the Browns to go to Baltimore and win this Sunday.

The Browns have been the feel good story of the NFL down the stretch.  The unlikely rise of the franchise combined with an electric rookie QB makes them everyone's darlings.  Did you see how they destroyed the Bengals?  How about going into Denver and kicking ass?  Beating up on Carolina and Atlanta?  Damn straight!  This team is for real.  Well, except for how they got manhandled by the one good team they played on the road (Houston).  Now they have to go to Baltimore and beat the Ravens on the road who are playing for a playoff slot.  This is what is called "a learning experience" for a young team, and I fully expect the Ravens to win and cover just like they have the last five of six.  However, I am going to not tempt fate and grab them on the moneyline as this game reeks of backdoor cover chances for the Browns.  Baltimore money line

I have somehow lost money fading the Lions twice.  Twice!  I haven't felt this inept since shattering two successive sparkling wines while using my trusty saber.  Betting against the Lions on the road is just a good idea, like combining tequila and fireworks.  It's a potentially explosive situation that will likely pay off great dividends, but if it doesn't, you might lose a hand.  This is the situation this Sunday as I am going to trust in the Green Bay Packers to win at home and not toss in the towel in front of the fan base there.  It's as decent number, but I don't trust these end of season lines.  Green Bay money line.

Season Record:  16-10 

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Nurse the Hate: The Blarney Stone Ring

My father’s side of the family is primarily from the New York area.  We used to go there during the holidays, which is why almost all of my New York memories have Christmas light backdrops and lazy snow flurries.  When I was a child we would usually stay at my Aunt Rose and Uncle Jack’s century home that overlooked the Hudson River and Tappen Zee bridge.  The house was filled with interesting curios from their extensive traveling history that I would carefully look at like museum pieces.  The wooden floors creaked as you moved through the house, and I usually slept in the converted attic with the winding staircase.  There was a particular smell to the home, not unpleasant or easily classified, that is still in my memory.  

There would be a Christmas Eve get together where my father's brother and his family would come over.  They were always late.  Not by 15 minutes or so either.  They would show up hours after they were scheduled to arrive.  This would result in the overcooking of the leg of lamb, which meant the vegetarian lasagna had to save the day.  The food was mostly an afterthought anyway.  My father's generation were cocktail drinkers, and massive amounts of gin were consumed by the parents with my cousins and I decimating the beer that was kept on the back stoop to keep cold.  Dinner was always late, not that it wasn't ready so much as it was difficult for anyone to stay on point to get it on the table.  When we sat down, every person at the table knew what was about to happen.

My Aunt Rose would sit at the end of the table and begin to hold court.  It was impossible for her to quickly tell a story, especially with the skull crushing amount of gin that must have been in her.  She would begin a story about her brothers as kids and it would weave around any number of other topics.  It was like narrative jazz.  There was a theme, but it was hard to tell where it was going.  She never ate anything as she was so immersed in whatever it was she was talking about with my Uncle Jack consistently zinging her with brutally sarcastic barbs.  I cannot ever recall her eating an entire entree at any meal.

At a certain point, she would bring up The Blarney Stone Ring.  This was a piece of jewelry purchased by a deceased family member on a trip to Ireland that allegedly featured a chip from The Blarney Stone.  Even now, I am not sure of what The Blarney Stone is and I certainly have doubts that the ring was authentic.  That didn't matter.  Rose felt that she should have been awarded the ring when the deceased's estate was dispersed but it instead went to one of her cousins.  "She's never even BEEN to Ireland!"  While the Miller Family's Irish roots may be mostly fiction ( says I'm 75% English, 23% Irish and 2% Mongolian or something), Rose definitely identified as Irish American.  This piece of junk jewelry had taken on a great importance to Rose.  Once she got on the topic, there was no getting her off it.

I began to really enjoy the annual Blarney Stone Ring sermon.  I was without question in the minority in this view.  Each year during Rose's confusing soliloquy I would insert myself into the conversation with an innocent sounding question like "Wasn't there a family piece of jewelry from Ireland?  A necklace or something?".  Then it would suddenly veer into The Blarney Stone Ring story with my relatives all shooting me evil glances as Rose's face shifted into a look of determination.

There was one year I attempted to hatch a plot with my father to go to the woman's house that possessed the ring and get it from her.  Frankly, she probably left it forgotten in a jewelry box somewhere and didn't care about it in the least.  My cousins and I pounded through the beer coming up with increasingly more complicated logistics and scenarios to get the ring.  At one point I think our plan was that my father and I would go to visit this stranger.  My father and I would sit in the living room with her and chat when I would excuse myself to go to the restroom.  I would then open an upstairs window where my cousin would use a ladder to get in the window to search her jewelry box for the ring while I went back downstairs to continue the charade.  Like I said, we were drinking a lot of beer.  Really, all we had to do was probably call her and ask for it and she would have sent it.

The New York Christmas tradition slowly went away.  Our lives moved in different directions.  Rose died and then Jack died a short time later.  Whatever glue there was that held it together disappeared.  The whole thing seems like someone else's life now, like a movie I remember.  I think about that Blarney Stone ring and regret not putting forth the effort to try and get it for Rose.  I would have liked to have brought up that story, get the annoyed looks, and as Rose veered into it yet again wordlessly place that ring on the table.  Then again, maybe it's better this way, not knowing what that ring looked like and keeping it in my mind like the rest of it.  It's the memory that is important.

Happy Holidays.  

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Nurse the Hate: Rock Band Secrets and NFL Saturday

When I first started to go see bands, I always thought that when the band was on stage and someone leaned in to tell another band member something in the middle of the song, it must be something incredibly cool.  Like how Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards are always smiling like a couple of wild baboons on stage after Keith says something, we are all left to wonder what that funny secret was he just told.  I mean, it was probably something really cool about an international bikini model or drugs or something.  Who knows how cool it was?  It’s probably about something so fucking awesome, I don’t even know what to call it. 

When I started playing rock in front of people, I would think “I bet they are wondering what we are talking about” when I say something to one of the band members in the middle of “Wichita Buzzcut”.  Let me let you in on a secret.  It’s usually asking if someone farted because out of nowhere, it stinks up there.  I believe this to be the main topic of 90-95% of in song conversations on stage.  Watch old footage of the Miles Davis Quartet.  You can see Miles say something to Coltrane once in awhile.  Coltrane was well known to make bad choices on roadhouse breakfasts.  The guy just looks gassy.  

This one time we were on our way to Ft. Wayne IN.  We stopped to gas up and everyone goes in looking for a snack.  Let me tell you something about Sugar.  She is very frugal.  She reuses glass iced tea bottles, brings her own iced coffee, and always looks for deals.  So this particular stop, she comes back from this Sunoco station with a look of delight on her face.  “Man!  I just scored!”  She was very excited because she had gotten a “great deal” on half off cottage cheese from a gas station.  I immediately took the position she was making a grave error, but the frugalness of the situation won out.  She was all in on that cottage cheese.

A few hours later we are getting ready to play.  Sugar doesn’t look too good.  “Ohhhhh… gas station cottage cheese… Ohhhhh…”  We are on stage and the band is kicking it into gear.  It’s loud.  It sounds good.  “I got a Wichita Buzzzzcut… Got a Wichita Buzzcut…”  Sugar says something to me, but I can’t hear it.  “What?”  Gary is playing the solo so I lean in so I can hear her.  I can barely make it out. It was more lip reading than anything.  “I think I sharted!”. 

That’s what is going on up there.

So with no show tonight, I am all in on this special bonus edition of NFL Saturday.  The first game is absolutely terrible.  If I didn’t have some action on this Redskins v Titans game, I would probably keep changing channels until I found “Shawshank Redemption” on TBS.  The only people watching this game are degenerates and perhaps the 18 people in Nashville that have embraced the Titans.  The greater Washington DC area is probably not going to watch as they are coming to grips with the idea that King Henry the Trump is undoing the last 250 years or so of American progress by reflexively reacting to what cable TV hosts are telling him to do.  I work in TV.  Let me tell you something.  It is not an industry filled with geniuses.  There’s a reason we all ended up in communications classes.  We aren’t that smart.  You’d be better off listening to a waitress from Hooters instead of Ann Coultier.  Fact. 

So while America allows itself to be destroyed by a borderline retarded bully with a fake tan, I am going to take the Redskins and the under.  Yes, the Redskins are starting a QB that was as involved with the NFL two weeks ago as I was.  Yes, they won’t be able to score many points.  Yes, their defense is all banged up.  And Yes it is hard to see how they could win… HOWEVER they are still somehow in the playoff hunt.  This makes them motivated to at least TRY to win.  Also, the Titans just don’t score a lot of points.  With the Skins getting 10.5 points and the over/under at 37.5, this suggests that The Books believe the game will end around 24-13.  The Titans will likely run the ball as will the Redskins since neither team can move it effectively in the air.  That keeps the clock running and the score low.  What the hell.  I’m teasing it.  Redskins +16.5/Under 43.5  

If I lose that first game, I am going to chase it with the LA Chargers -4.  I really would like this to be a three point line, as it concerns me that the Chargers will play down to their competition.  It also concerns me that the Chargers might have a let down after that dramatic win at KC last week.  A couple things going in the Chargers favor though are 9 days rest after last week’s game while the Ravens are playing with only six days and having to fly across the country.  The Ravens are a good home team and bad on the road.  I think the Chargers are still underrated and take care of business despite all kinds of Lamar Jackson hype.  Chargers -4.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Nurse the Hate: Thoughts On The Mortals

I was really sorry that The Cowslingers couldn’t get it together to play the Mortals reunion gig in Cincinnati next week.  I read the typically well written article from Bill Furbee in City Beat and it brought back all kinds of memories.  The Cowslingers were getting serious at about the same time The Mortals were ascending, probably around 1994.  It seemed like each town of any size had some sort of great twisted garage type band.  We were all swimming in the same pond, all the music styles that had fallen out of fashion but were now suddenly being embraced by small scenes that had great energy.  It was weird in that we were all doing these bands in what we thought was this wilderness of indifference but then heard rumors of other bands down the road doing their version of what had inspired us. 

We heard about a band in Cincinnati called The Mortals that was cool.  And those guys knew some guys from Alabama.  And those guys were friends with the guys I had just called up in Florida.  And we heard about some kids in Ypsilanti that were supposed to be cool that played with a surf band from Detroit.  And all of us were playing with the New York bands on Crypt and Telstar.  And we all knew Southern Culture on the Skids.  Before any of us knew it was happening, there was a little scene where between 50-100 converts to trash rock could be counted on to show up, get wildly drunk and rock the fuck out.

Out of all those bands in that period, The Mortals were our best friends.  They had the same sort of dysfunctional family vibe we did, busting each other’s balls mercilessly.  It soon became fair game for cross pollinated band ball busting.  It didn’t hurt that they just killed it on stage.  I remember the first few gigs we did together.  Each of our respective fan bases would creep ever closer to the stage when the other band was playing, getting why we had been touting each other for the weeks leading up to the show.  It took about three shows, but soon enough our fans were theirs and theirs ours.  Our bass player at the time was always mad I didn’t sing with “the power” of Steve the Tongue.  Shit, I barely knew what I was doing then.  How was I supposed to replicate the wild scene of a long haired freaky guy belting out an MC5 influenced roar?  I was hoping to be on key and not make an asshole out of myself.

A few gigs pop into my head as being unusually notable.  I remember one time we went down to Tuscaloosa Alabama.  It was the same day as The Iron Bowl, the Alabama v Auburn football game.  This game makes Ohio State v Michigan seem inconsequential.  It’s the only reason people are alive down there.  The gig was set up perfectly.  Alabama, a heavy favorite, would win in the afternoon and then the delirious fans would rock out to us all night.  Perfect.  Except Alabama lost. 

We show up at the club and there is no energy in the college town.  You could feel the black fog of the loss everywhere.  The three band bill was The Mortals, a local of some repute, and us first.  Our associate The Enabler was traveling with us and was doing what he did best, talked us into some ill advised narcotics that he had brought.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  We were in a dodgy Chinese restaurant.  He explained it to us in a way that made sense.  “Look, you guys can take this now and then by the time you finish the set it will hit you.”  It really seemed to make sense, so we followed his plan.  Then we showed up at the club to discover the local was going first.  We had to wait an hour to go on.  Oh God…  Now it was timing out that we would get hit full frontal at the exact moment we had to go up on stage.  In 1995-96, this was something that could happen to me.

To say things were challenging to get going is a wild understatement.  It was almost impossible to set up the drum kit.  It was complex beyond all reason.  I can’t even imagine what we looked like from afar struggling up there.  It was like we were cavemen encountering music equipment for the first time.  Somehow, we got set up.  It seemed like it took 100 centuries.  Then we played our first song and it fell apart.  I looked around onstage and saw “the look of fear”.  It was all going towards a place of bad craziness.  “Look you guys.  Just follow the music.  I will be right here.  It’s all good.”  We got through it somehow.  The indifferent crowd stared.  I walked off and Denny grabbed my arm.  “Holy shit.  That’s the best set I have ever seen you guys play.”.  I thought he was joking but he wasn’t.  Huh.  Then The Mortals got on stage.

In what might have been the all time worst piece of stage banter I have ever seen, Steve starts the show like this.  “Hey…  So…  I heard you all lost The Big Game…  Well… (swinging his arm)…  We’ll get ‘em next time.”  He clearly had no understanding of what The Iron Bowl was to these people.  I don’t even know if he knew who played in the game.  The crowd looked at each other in disbelief.  Is this guy fucking with us?  Then the band kicked in and they totally destroyed.  Kaboom.  Try this on for size fuckers.  Thank you and good night.  They killed it.

I always associated The Mortals with The Mono Men.  I can see why Dave Crider was so keen to get them recorded.  They both had a great energy matched up with memorable hooks in the deceptively simple songs.  Bill Grapes had a massive record collection and an affinity for early 60s jazz.  You could tell he had learned the lesson of how important the note you didn’t play was, and his well thought out guitar solos fit into the songs perfectly.  The two bands were a perfect bill and played numerous shows, and I think they did a short tour through the Midwest together after the Bulletproof record came out.

Scott had impressed upon The Mortals the idea that stage presentation was important.  Our stupid cowboy outfits probably helped that argument.  He got them to wear those early 60s looking black suits and dammit, it was perfect.  I hadn’t seen the band in about four months, and they rolled into the Euclid Tavern with the Mono Men.  The Mortals opened as the Mono Men were accepted as the kings of the garage scene.  I grabbed a beer and got ready to see The Mortals knock out a set like I had so many times before.  They ambled up on stage in their usual haphazard way but something seemed different.  They were more focused or something. 

I’ve seen a lot of rock shows, but that opening set by The Mortals is one of the best opening sets I have ever seen.  They were tight as shit from the tour and crushed from song to song.  I remember thinking, “Holy shit.  These guys are going to become rock stars.  This is incredible.”.  There is no way in hell I would have wanted to follow that on stage.  I don’t know what they did, but they had somehow cracked the ceiling and gone to a level I didn’t know anybody I knew personally could go with a rock band.  And then, almost right afterwards, I heard they broke up the band.  I still don’t understand it.

There’s been plenty of Ohio bands, but these guys were the real fucking deal.  I’m glad to call them my friends and I know they are going to destroy next weekend.  They always did.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Nurse the Hate: NFL Week 15

I met a woman who is a “life coach” this week.  I’m not sure what credentials one needs to proclaim themselves worthy of being a life coach.  Maybe it’s just having a general vibe of having your shit together.  My gut is that most of her friends most come to her for advice on things like yoga classes, interior decorators, and recommended cosmetic dentists.  Eventually the dots were connected for her to do it full time.  She recommended I attend her upcoming “workshop” on dealing with stress.  This seemed like a terrible idea.  I told her that I had my own methods, which of course she then wanted to know specifics.  When I told her “working out and drinking lots of wine”, she looked at me with a combination of pity and scorn.  I forgot to throw in “Sports Gambling”, which I do not think would have helped my cause.  However, I’ll bet there is a roomful of wealthy women right now “sharing in a non judgmental way” that could have saved themselves an $800 workshop fee if they just bought a nice bottle of Pol Roger and dropped some jack on the games this weekend.  There are some real opportunities this week too.

The Titans are perhaps the most boring team in the NFL.  Every time I watch a Titans game I see Mariota throw an incomplete pass of about 3 yards.  Sometimes a running back goes into the line for two yards.  The uniforms are ugly.  The players aren’t memorable.  The defense is pretty good though.  Like I said, I can’t recall any of the players by name, but they keep the games low scoring. The Public seems to think the Giants are good after they beat the Bears with Chase Daniel at QB and turnover plagued Tampa.  This is a mirage.  They aren’t dropping 35 on the Titans, especially with no Odell at WR.  I’ll take the boring Titans to grind out a win here.  Tennessee -1.5

Another team it’s always wise to bet against is the Detroit Lions.  The Lions won on the road versus Arizona last week despite scoring no offensive touchdowns.  Stafford has an injured back, and all the skill players are second teamers.  This motley collection of players is going to fly across the country to go play outside in Buffalo, who has strangely morphed into an average football team after ending “The Peterman Experiment”.  I am fading the Lions on the road, which is always a smart thing to do.  No one has ever lost money betting against the Lions on the road.  Look it up.  Buffalo -2.5

I plan on watching a great deal of football on Sunday.  As the Browns won’t be on, I will have to make it interesting by having action on as much of the league as possible.  How about a five team parlay?  Everyone loves a sucker bet, and no one more than me!  Buffalo over the Lions because the Lions are the Lions.  The Arizona Cardinals cannot score.  This is a hindrance in winning NFL Football games; so let’s take Atlanta at home.  The Jacksonville Jaguars hated Blake Bortals so much, they are playing inspired football with Cody Kessler, who really sucks.  The good news is that they are hosting the Washington Redskins, who mercifully ended The Mark Sanchez Comeback, and have now turned to Josh Johnson.  Yes, you read that correctly.  The Redskins have given up on the season and just want to go home.  Jacksonville.  Speaking of giving up, how can the Eagles hope to go on the road to beat the Rams?  They had their playoff dreams killed in Dallas last week, now have to fly out to LA to play a Ram team that wants to get back on the rails after an embarrassing loss to the Bears.  Rams.  Finally, I am on the Houston Texans over the Jets.  Jets coach Todd Bowles is a Dead Man Walking.  The Texans want to close out the AFC South.  These are teams heading in two very different directions.  I bet the Jets hang in there, but the Texans win.  All I need are those five games to come in and I get paid out 3-1.  With that kind of money, I’m buying something extravagant. You know, like a pony.

Current Record:  14-9   

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Nurse the Hate: The CT Scan and NFL Picks

The CT scan hummed and whirred.  I felt remarkably detached from the entire enterprise.  My eyes were closed.  My hands folded across my chest.  I felt like I could doze off until I noticed how relaxed I was, which made me lift out of the beginning stages of sleep.  The mysterious cylindrical machine was looking into my neck to see if a troublesome gland was “a mass” as per the work order.  I have slowly entered an age where small ailments might be the whispers of serious disease and death.  Pete Shelley of The Buzzcocks died yesterday.  My record collection and concert memories have begun to die, not from spectacular beautiful tragedies but from common maladies.  The Buzzcocks are no longer angular young men, so do not enjoy the privilege of being forever young and beautiful like Jim Morrison.  The machine hummed and I dropped “Waiting For The Pulsebeat” into my mind.

The doctor had been taken aback when she noted the seriousness of a positive test result and I responded with “Well, at least everything will just be over.  That’s not all bad.”  We stared at each other for a full beat.  She asked if I often felt that way.  “Sure.  If most men my age are honest with you, they’ll say the same thing.  How much longer can this go on?”  She scribbled something down in My Chart.  Black humor didn’t seem to fit comfortably in this circumstance.  I would now either be "monitored" or perhaps injected full of passifying drugs.  That didn't go well.  She left me in the room alone while seeing if she could schedule me immediately in the CT scan.  “They can fit you in now.  Can you do it now?”  Sure.  Why not?   I went downstairs and waited for the young woman in scrubs to take me to The Show.

The machine hummed.  It was peaceful with the repetition of the machine like the sound of a man made creek gurgling along.  When the CT scan was over the table slowly lowered so I could hop off.  The woman stared at me as it descended a grand total of 4 inches as if I couldn’t have negotiated the height.  She asked if I had any questions.  “Yeah.  Do you think the Broncos are going to cover this weekend?”  What?  “The Broncos…  Do you think they cover five and a half?”.  Umm…  I don’t know.  “OK.  See ya.”  And then I walked out to my car still wondering why I didn’t seem to care about the test results one way or the other.  I was focused instead on this Broncos versus 49er game. 

Here’s a few things I can tell you.  The San Francisco 49ers are 2-10 but have somehow outgained their opponents by 174 yards.  They have been killed on turnovers.  Now, I’m not suggesting this is a great football team, but I am suggesting that turnover differential is the absolute key to winning in the NFL.  The 49ers are -20.  The Broncos have won their last 3 and went +8 in turnovers.  They went +4 against Pittsburgh while being outgained by almost 300 yards and won.  The thought is that turnovers eventually equal out, especially with a couple QBs handling the ball of roughly similar skill sets like this game.  Therefore The Public believes the 49ers are worse than they really are as a team, while also simultaneously thinking the Broncos are much better.  With that dual misperception, there is value in the line.  Well, at least that is what I have convinced myself.  San Francisco +4

What I enjoy about NFL gambling is not betting on football.  I like to bet against Public Perception.  The advertising business will teach you, if you want to learn, that most people are insanely stupid.  There are people right now signing on for two year deals on mobile phone service because an inflatable with waving arms caught their attention while driving down the street.  These same people are going to wildly overreact to the Colts being shut out last week.  The thought is that whatever just happened is a complete indication of what will happen in the future.  The Colts have had six games in a row where they have looked like a borderline playoff team Last week they got shut out by the Jags.  The Public believes that the one game against the Jags is much more representative of the Colts than the previous six.  Meanwhile, the Texans have entered a period of being a popular discussed "sleeper pick" for the Super Bowl.  This is crazy talk.  However, it continues the narrative of the Texans, despite winning all of their "coin flip" type games, may never lose again.  I know this.  Teams that were shutout the previous week cover 58% of the time the next week.  I am fading The Public and taking the Colts +4.

The Oakland Raiders are terrible.  I suffered through watching their second half last week as they did all the typical Raider things of giving up big plays, shooting themselves in the foot with personal foul penalties, and fail to take advantage of opportunities.  They are not very good.  For some reason though, they always play the Steelers tough, especially at home.  The Public will think The Steelers will "need" this game and will want "revenge" after giving one away at home last week to San Diego.  I see this as them flying across the country on a short week to play a team they don't match up with very well.  The Steelers have not been running the ball the last three weeks.  They are well below 100 yards rushing in the past three games, and now Connor is out with an ankle.  That means Ridley is in, and a big downgrade.  Big Ben is going to throw the ball a ton, which means Big Ben will toss some picks.  Why grown men call him Big Ben, I don't know.  Roethlesberger is just brutal to say I suppose.  Anyway, in the Tomlin Era the Steelers are 7-18 ATS when favored by 6.5 points or more.  They also have only won a startling 64% of those games straight up.  I don't feel great about it, but I am taking the Raiders +10.5.

 I left the hospital and got in my car.  I put the Buzzcocks "Love Bites" on.  The chainsaw guitars and nasal vocals of Pete Shelley still sounded perfect.  I stopped at a Starbucks to get jacked up on espresso.  A guy in front of me bought my coffee without warning.  I asked him if he was doing that as some sort of festive holiday spirit thing.  The undertone of that also being that I wasn't going to be blowing him in his car for the coffee.  Let's be clear.  I'll take the gesture but I wasn't going to backflip on sexual preferance for a $1.85.  He told me that his company instructs them to do random acts of kindness like that, a corporate mandated community service which is of course tracked via spending records on an American Express.  You have to love forced acts of good, but I regret I wasn't standing next to the guy at a Porsche dealership. That would have more firmly said something about that company's commitment to givingI thanked him and went on my way.  My phone buzzed with a message.  My test results had already posted to my electronic chart.  I didn't have cancer.  That's nice.  I started the car and listened to "Fiction Romance" as I commuted downtown. 

Season Record:  11-9      


Monday, December 3, 2018

Nurse the Hate: Threatin, My New Favorite Band

I would recommend dropping everything you are doing and reading what might be the most fascinating news story of 2018.  I will wait here for you while you do so we can talk about it…

I love this story so much I can’t even begin to tell you.  I am going to assume that this is not a high-minded performance art idea, like a metal version of an Andy Kaufman street piece.  The one thing that metal bands do not do is parody or irony.  It is impossible to have any sense of self awareness and sing songs about wizards, demons and violence when you are an adult living in a two-bedroom apartment in the suburbs.  And don’t try to suggest that The Darkness is a real metal band, because real metal bands don’t smirk.  There is no room for humor or clever conceptual social commentary in this type of metal.  This tour was “a plan”.  Someone thought this out and said “Yes, this is a good idea.”    

First off, I like the idea of buying Facebook followers.  Companies do it all the time to fool search engines to increase their profile.  Applying this to a band is a very popular thing to do, especially with subgenres that don’t rely on live performances like rap and pop.  I can see how this might help gain initial attention from talent buyers.  The thought being that the club booking agent would get a request for a show from a band in a sub-genre with which he/she is unfamiliar.  Not being versed in the metal world of “Threatin”, maybe the booking agent would think “well, they have 30,000 Facebook followers, so they can fill a 500 person room.”.  Of course, the problem is that all of these rooms are part of a circuit where everyone knows who is coming up to their sized venue and who is dropping back down.  Hence, any savvy booking agent would think “these guys have never been on a bill in any room with anyone I have ever heard of and no one else in the circuit is even vaguely aware of them.  Raise the red flag.”

This is the reason “Threatin” then went to the extraordinary expense of booking the rooms as rentals, a very unusual situation.  When we play tours, we have a booking agent that either uses a local promotor or goes to the club directly to work out a deal of shared risk with the show.  The club is aware of who we are and weighs out how many people can be reasonably expected to come to the club.  It should be noted, we play small rooms for the most part, yet the clubs have a basic awareness of the band.  For a band to book a 500 person room but have NO street awareness is crazy.  For example, the Parquet Courts played the 400 capacity Beachland last night and they have been on national TV shows like the Tonight Show and Conan.  The clubs had to have at least an inkling when there was ZERO buzz about the “Threatin” booking.

Still, the most curious part is the booking from the band itself.  I am of the opinion that the singer of the band figured that if he booked these clubs that there would somehow be a small yet respectable group of attendees that would wander in.  It was a metal version of “build it and they will come”.  Unfortunately, and I can tell you this from hard won experience, even when people know who you are and even like the band, they still might not come out.  To spend thousands of dollars for renting each room, the cost of airline tickets, equipment rental, transportation, etc…  It is the absolute height of either insanity or stupidity.  And I am dying to know which…

I would have given anything to have been in the dressing room with the band on that first gig.  At this point the guy from “Threatin” that made all this happen had to know a miracle was not going to happen.  Why they had told the club that they had 297 presales is mystifying.  Did he think that 297 people would magically show up, or did he think that he could somehow explain it all away?  He had to know that at a certain point, the illusion would disappear and he would have some explaining to do.

Yet, there is NO WAY you can explain 297 people that allegedly bought tickets that did not show up.  The guy from Threatin had to know that eventually he would have to face the music (as it were) when the club owners were wondering why they fully staffed a club for no reason.  Doing it once would be unbelievably uncomfortable.  To willingly create a situation where you would have to do it night after night after night is fucking amazing.  I cannot put myself in that head space to purposely do that to yourself.  I have been that guy with the terrible show (and probably will again), and it really sucks.
The conversation with the band must have been something to behold.  There is a point in the night after doors are open and the realization that the show is a bust that settles in like a heavy cloud.  The drummer and bass player, hired by the Threatin guy, must have taken the gigs on face value alone.  They must have known that the band was invisible in the United States, but fell for a “we’re huge in Belgium” line of bullshit.  They must have known very early on when doors opened and NO ONE came in that something was terribly wrong.  When showtime is 15 minutes away, you’ve been told that 297 tickets were sold via pre-sale and NO ONE is in the room, what do you talk about?  “Dude…  This is super fucked up…  Have you seen Jered?”.  There is no place on earth more lonely than an empty 500 capacity club with a loud band playing.  It makes Depression soup line photos look cheerful by comparison.  The fact that Jared Threatin also maintained what he thought a “professional touring outfit” would do by threatening fines when the band went out to eat breakfast on their own might be my favorite small detail. 

I went to the band website to look at the posted videos of the “interviews” that allegedly Jared made of interviewing himself, but sadly those were down.  I am not sure if I could have gotten through them as I would have felt so embarrassed just looking at them that it would have been a real test.  I also tried to do the loop of the fictional record company to the fictional management company back to the band, but that loop has also been taken down.  It’s actually a tremendous amount of work the guy put in to create this fiction.  In fact, it would have been easier just to book a small tour in little rooms where they could have played on multi band bills to actually try to create a real audience.  Ah well, that would have been much more boring than this. 

Threatin is my favorite band since VSquared.  I hope they do a double bill together...

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Nurse the Hate: The Sad Tale of John Chau (and NFL picks)

I have been fascinated by the story of John Chau.  John was a 26 year old missionary with a zeal for adventure.  He somehow became fixated on the idea of being the first person to bring Jesus to the Sentinel Island 700 miles off the coast of India.  The Sentinese were not excited about the idea of John or anyone else visiting their island.  Living in complete isolation, they have a language unintelligible to the rest of the planet and have no contact with the outside world.  They hunt turtles and fish with spears and arrows.  They chase off anyone that attempts to land on their island, and recently killed two shipwrecked fisherman that wound up on their beach.  It’s still 1478 on Sentinel Island.

Their lack of interest in visitors is not unfounded as in the 1890s, the always reliably cruel British Empire kidnapped several islanders who quickly died when exposed to diseases and microbes that don’t exist on their island.  They now just scare off anyone that tries to come to their island and will eventually attack.  The government of India has placed a ban on traveling to the island as a way to preserve their culture and health of the people.  John, knowing these facts, took this on as a challenge.  John believed that God had placed him on earth to share the Christian faith with these islanders and bring them to the glory of One True God. 

John went to a bunch of fundamentalist Christian schools in the US and became a missionary.  He loved the idea of combining travel and missionary work.  Unfortunately, he also combined the fundamentalist Christian idea of being invulnerable as he was doing “the Lord’s work” with the naivety of being a 26 year old American without a complete understanding of what he was doing.  That’s why John is dead and his body is still on the beach on Sentinel Island.

John had convinced some fisherman to take him out there.  The fisherman wouldn’t land on the island, so John paddled in via a blowup kayak.  The first time he tried to land, the islanders shouted and threatened him by shooting arrows in his direction.  John got scared off and went back.  The second time, he went ashore.  “My name is John and I love you and Jesus loves you.”  When he did that, one of the islanders shot an arrow through the Bible John was holding.  John paddled back.  The next day, he went back ashore and told the fishermen to leave him on the island.  The fishermen came past the next day and saw a group of islanders pulling John’s body on the beach with a rope.  John, knowing the danger before his latest attempt, wrote a note to his family saying “Remember, the first one to heaven wins.”.  You win John.  You win.

If I lived in Texas, I would say something like “Boy, you must be shit stupid.”.  The fact I don’t live in Texas prevents me from saying that, and it does fill me with regret.  Probably not as much regret as John had when he realized he was going to die pointlessly from an arrow or spear, but it’s all a matter of scale.  Even now, people in his missionary group have no regrets of their own.  “He had a higher calling he was following.”  The one dimensional viewpoint of the Christian Right is fascinating. 

Imagine if you will, a van with three guys in loincloths pulls up in your front yard.  One of the guys starts to walk in your yard towards you holding an unidentifiable object.  He then says something in a language you can’t understand.  “Gunga Ga Gunga!”  Then he starts walking towards you again.  Your entire life has been spent hearing legendary tales of outsiders kidnapping your forefathers, never to be seen again.  Meanwhile, one of these outsiders is here, IN YOUR FRONT YARD, walking towards you while you are holding a weapon.  What other scenario would happen except you shooting that guy and then pulling that dude around your front yard on a rope with your John Deere mower making noises like “Woooo!!!!” like you just won the Super Bowl?  Shit kid.  Wake up.  How else could that have gone down?

Only a Christian Fundamentalist would be so blind to the idea that perhaps not everyone needs to get wise to his particular idea of religion.  Perhaps the islanders have a religion so perfect, so complete that it would have rendered that waterproof Bible of his as just a book of stories written and re-translated by people with particular agendas.  Maybe some people can just be left alone, especially if they are shooting arrows at you telling you to get off their fucking beach.  Maybe no one there needs the answers to questions they either aren't asking or have already figured out.  So stupid.   

So now I’m trying to convince myself that betting on the Arizona Cardinals this week isn’t as stupid as the John Chau saga.  I’ll bet that even the residents of Sentinel Island are saying “Munga dinga soomba” about me taking the Cardinals, which loosely translates to “That guy is shit stupid”.  Before someone comes over here and shoots me with an arrow, hear me out…

It is true that Cardinal QB Josh Rosen is 21 years old, grew up in California, went to UCLA and is now going to Lambeau to play in December.  I have no idea if he has ever even seen snow.  Yes, he has only thrown for 250 yards in the last two games combined.  The Cards are last in the NFL in offense, passing yards, rushing yards, and points.  They really suck.  Furthermore, underdogs of more than seven points this season are 1-28 straight up.  That doesn’t look good.  However  In the last 30 years, a team with a winning percentage of .400 or under has NEVER covered a double digit spread.  This stat comes from a sample of the last 30 years in only the back half of the year, so it wasn’t skewed by some 0-2 good team that killed somebody in Week 3.  To take the 4-6-1 Green Bay Packers giving fourteen, we have to buy into the idea that something HISTORICAL is about to happen.  I am not betting against a trend like that.  My trembling hand is putting money down on Arizona +14.

No one has been more surprised by the Browns recent success than I have been.  Well, I knew they would beat the Bengals last week as the Bengals have brought The Cooler in (aka Hue Jackson).  Hue Jackson is the worst football coach in the NFL.  This isn’t hyperbole.  This is a fact backed by history.  That another organization brought Hue Jackson in has blown my mind way more than that time I accidentally took LSD in college and saw a spoon inchworm around a kitchen table.  Let me put it this way, if I was in a serious accident and a doctor version of Hue Jackson rolled up I would stop him from working on me.  As my right hand held my intestines in with blood seeping on the ground, I would reach up with a trembling left hand to pull Hue in closer to tell him, “Don’t do anything.  I am going to take my chances and wait to see if another doctor wanders by…” 

This week the Browns face a real defense after looking like a legit team after playing Atlanta and Cincinnati.  The Texans at home is going to be no joke.  Things are going to get real for the Browns.  This is a bad spot for the Browns as I have no idea how they deal with either the Texans rushing game or the Texans two defensive ends.  I am going to parlay Houston with the Broncos (who travel to Cincinnati).  Cincinnati has the longest injury report I have ever seen.  I assume the Bengals will never win again until they rid themselves of The Cooler.  Houston/Denver parlay.

Season Record:  9-9