Saturday, October 26, 2019

Nurse the Hate: Italian Wine Exam and Surefire NFL Locks

I just took an Italian Wine Exam this week.  This had to do with my continued quest to position myself the opportunity to achieve the mythic Master of Wine title, the Yoda of wine.  While it can be argued that becoming the Yoda of wine is essentially pointless, still the effort required to attempt it should be recognized.  Could I better serve my community by pouring my time into becoming a surgeon and performing free medical procedures on those in need?  Yes.  However, that would not be nearly as enjoyable as sucking down a decade old Brunello while making shit talk regarding the "length of finish" and "glorious mid palate".  In the end, there is little nobility in this pursuit beyond the monastic effort needed to remember obscure Italian grapes, rivers, and soil types.  If you need someone to pretend to know more about volcanic soils than they really do, I'm your guy.

I worked my way through the exam feeling less than confident.  It was somehow enjoyable to have a feeling stir inside me to remind me of rainy Fall mornings in the late 80s as a Kent student.  There is nothing like that cold wave of recognition washing over you when it is confirmed you aren't nearly as prepared for a test as you had self deluded yourself into.  "Yeah... I pretty much know this stuff..." which often leads to the Great Myth of Exam Prep, "It's essay so I can just bullshit my way through it."  I like the idea that I thought an answer to an essay question that obviously had no meat in it would pass muster.  Hell, I did that once chasing the WSET Diploma.  "The port shipping business is primarily focused on ships which ship port as a means of business in regards to the port shipping business."  Nailed it bitch.

I have no idea how I did beyond defining the level of "poor".  There was a Brit giving the exam, so they will relish the chance to knock the stuffing out of me with the news.  It's what they do.  "Greg?  I have your exam score.  You didn't do very well I'm afraid.  Yes, we normally stop grading when someone has missed so many questions we categorize their effort as "poor", but with yours we felt we needed to keep going to see how poorly you would actually do.  It was remarkable really...  There was some discussion in the office about the possibility of you having a learning disability.  I believe the old categorization of someone with your mental capacity was "imbecile", but I believe that has been changed now to "moron".  Is that right?"

Oh well...  We'll see how it turns out.  For now I will keep slogging along alone.  It does provide me with a sense of purpose, and offers a chance at achievement which is sorely lacking in modern adult life.  I feel like most days people wait for me to turn a corner to toss turds at me and I am obliged to take them smack in the face with a smile.  At least this academic pursuit is totally in my control, the success or failure completely in my hands.  Thus, this upcoming failure will be shouldered by me with no chance at finger pointing.

Let's move to something else which I feel I also have the illusion of some control.  I am, of course, talking about the wilderness of mirrors of NFL Football.  Let me be upfront and say I don't feel great about any of the games this week.  The action this week is really about keeping me busy after having our Saturday gig cancelled due to Bad Craziness and The Continued Rise of The Police State.  Idle hands being the devil's playthings, it's a good time to get wild on the NFL.

First off, I am betting against Denver.  I have seen this team look terrible three times in a row.  Their defense appears to be strong, but when you take just a moment to consider it, it's only because you are reflexively comparing the defensive unit to the horrific Denver offensive team.  Joe Flacco looks completely disengaged on the field.  He should just take his phone on the field to see if his weekly game check cleared via mobile banking.  "Joe?  What play are we running?"  Give me a second... Cool.  Check's in.  What's that?  Oh... the play... I dunno.  A run I guess...  It's shocking how far and how fast that guy regressed.  He must make Denver fans yearn for a return of Jay Cutler.  At least when Cutler didn't give a shit, you know it was his lifestyle, not just the pathetic end of a money making venture.

Indianapolis is a much better team than The Public realizes.  Vegas Tourist Guy still thinks that without Andrew Luck the Colts are team without a QB, when in fact Brisset appears quite serviceable.  He won't win games for you by himself, but the Colt O-line and defense will.  I can't understand why the Colts are only -4.5 at home, so this is obviously an eel set up to bite my scrotum. This line should be around a touchdown.  What don't I know?  Screw it.  Indianapolis -4.5

The Public loves The Packers.  Every week we are told over and over that Aaron Rodgers is a Christlike figure doing things that only The Stepson Of God could do.  Then you get hit with seven State Farm commercials (where State Farm inexplicably decided to also pay Pat Mahomes for a cameo endorsement too).  The Pack!  America's team!  6-1!  Super Bowl baby!  They can't lose!

Let's contrast that with the KC Chiefs.  The Chiefs just lost poster boy QB Pat Mahomes and will have to get by for a few weeks with the decidedly unsexy Matt Moore at QB.  If Matt Moore was a vehicle, he'd be a 2009 Dodge Minivan.  Will it get you where you need to go?  Yes.  Will you look good going there?  No.  The injury to Mahomes moved this line from KC giving 4.5 to them getting 4.5 at home.  Couple quick things...  The Jesus of QBs, Aaron Rodgers, is a .500 quarterback on the road.  This is not something State Farm ads tell you.  Also, while Green Bay is 6-1, they have also had five (5) home games in a bizarre scheduling fluke.  I believe opinion on The Pack is inflated.  Meanwhile it is common knowledge that Andy Reid teams do VERY well after he's had an extra bye week to prep.  Last week the Chiefs weren't on a bye, but they did play on Thursday, giving Reid an extra few days to game plan with Moore under center.  Everyone else on the planet is on The Pack.  Give me Kansas City +4.5 at home on a Sunday night.  

It was a tough break for Sam Darnold to get caught saying "I'm seeing ghosts out there" while providing one of there worst professional football performances in recent memory.  That quote will follow him forever.  The problem is, it was probably accurate.  The Patriots defense has only given up three offensive TDs in 7 weeks.  The Patriots excel in coming up with complicated schemes to confuse young quarterbacks... like Baker Mayfield who has to roll into New England on Sunday.  The Browns have the 27th ranked offense in the league.  The Patriots are the #1 defense.  Hmmm... I am thinking the Browns will have trouble scoring.  Money has been pouring in on Cleveland over the last two days moving the line from 13.5 to 10.5.  I don't get it.  I am going to tease New England UNDER 49.5/Indianapolis +1.5.

Season Record:  14-5-1  


Saturday, October 19, 2019

Nurse The Hate: Thoughts On Current Events and NFL Locks

I have not written about the cataclysmic regime of Il Duce 2, aka president Trump, in some time. I became disheartened as it sunk in that a shockingly large section of the population agrees with his ideas of racism and the idea of the moral vacuum of Fear’s song “I don’t care about you, fuck you”.  Sometimes people miss when the joke is on them.  Even more disheartening has been the stark realization that two thirds of the population don’t care about anything much at all. When it dawns on you that a wide swath of the crowd at a Browns game isn’t that different from a herd of goats, it becomes less pressing to engage the goats and say “Goats, don’t you notice that we are allowing ourselves to become a dictatorship and are abandoning our moral code?”. Sadly, the goats just want some food pellets and a place to shit. On an unrelated note, I see Subway has beef brisket for $4.99.

I am old enough to remember when Nixon was caught trying to steal his opposition’s secrets in a cheap burglary at Watergate. The population was stunned that our highest office could be so corrupt and self serving. People were rivited as the truth came out. Nixon now seems quaint against the cartoonishly buffoonish schemes Trump has cooked up. Yet, no one seems to really give a fuck that Trump not only is committing crimes, but is openly admitting to doing so. The guy is so brazen that as he is under investigation for colluding with a foreign government to get elected, he is busy colluding with yet another foreign to plot against his "enemies". When that shit hits the fan, instead of laying low, he awards his hotel an enormous G7 Summit contract that enriches him personally and violates the laws regarding foreign nations peddling for influence by giving lavish gifts.  He could be impeached for that alone.  The shit comes so fast, it's hard to take it all in, which is part of the secret I suppose.  Trump is daring someone to stop him as the Wal Mart/Suburban Nazi crowd cheers him on.  "Yeah!  The truth is the enemy!  Tell it like it is Donnie!  Drain the Swamp!"  He IS the fucking swamp you morons...  The whole thing is baffling.   

If he wasn't dragging the rest of us down the toilet, you'd have to admire him.  Trump, while undeniably an intellectual child and sociopath, has figured out that most Americans aren’t going to put forth the effort necessary to enforce our laws. This boat is sinking and years from now when the history is studied, students and scholars alike will wonder “How did those people just sit there and let that happen?  They had it all...”. I don’t know what that answer is by the way.  This used to be a country I was proud of, warts and all.  I don’t know how much longer I can pretend that is the case.  If America was Van Halen, this period of time is clearly Van Halen 3 as fronted by Gary Cherone.  I wonder if we have a comeback album left in us?

The good news is we do have plenty of NFL football.  There is no better way to distract oneself from the immediate destruction of all you cherish than a nice afternoon of deviant gambling.  And is there anything more deviant than willingly betting on the New York Giants?  I am jumping on the Giants -3 over Arizona.  Yes, Arizona has won two in a row, mostly due to the fact Kyler Murray is running the ball.  He'll be dead by December, but he's fun to watch now.  He threw three TDs last week.  He is The Man.  Well, he did throw those three TDs against Atlanta, who has apparently given up already on the 2019 season.  Yes, his other win was over the Cincinnati Bengals, a team that got rid of the worst coach in modern history and somehow replaced him with someone even less qualified.  Who dey!  

The Giants are being valued as even against the Cards when you take out the 3 point home field advantage.  The Giants have lost their last two games to what will be highly seeded playoff teams (New England and Minnesota), but prior to that beat Washington and Tampa.  It should be noted that they did so without their two best offensive players in Ebron and Barkley.  So you are telling me that the Giants are even with Arizona even as they add their two best players?  No way.  I love the Giants this week and am going to aggressively bet they can grind out an ugly win at home.  Giants -3

Speaking of Atlanta, the gloom of Dan Quinn's immediate firing is in the air.  You know when you are at work and you know your supervisor is about to get cut loose?  There is that "every man for himself" mentality.  When the supervisor stomps into your area and says "Look!  You need to do this, this and this!" you might nod your head and say "you got it!", but you are thinking "Whatever fuckface, you are so out of here.  I'm going to the break room and getting some Fritos."  Those guys eating Fritos in the break room right now are the Atlanta Falcons.  

Let's contrast that with the LA Rams, losers of two straight, that desperately need a win.  Their coach is generally regarded as a young genius.  He is game planning and 100% focused on winning this week.  Atlanta's coach is calling moving companies and trying to get his wife bought into the idea of moving to a condo in Boca Raton next week.  Dan Quinn has people saying "Dead man walking!" every time he enters a room.  Dan Quinn's office already looks empty as he quietly took his plaques and bobbleheads home after hours earlier this week.  This game has the smell of "Quinn Fired As Disinterested Falcons Routed By Rams".  I'm on LA Rams -3.

Earlier this week I jumped on the San Francisco v Washington UNDER 43 points.  I thought it was a misprint when I saw it, and I cobbled together what I could in an offshore account to take advantage of this "opportunity".  This is a very complex handicap.  See if you can follow.  The Redskins fired Jay Gruden as coach last week.  This is because Jay Gruden is not a good head coach.  I concluded that because his teams don't win.  The Redskins appeared to come to the same conclusion.  They hired a guy in the building, Bill Callahan, another fella that's not a particularly good football coach but he was in house already and they didn't have to pay him more money.  Bill said at his first press conference "we are going to get behind the rushing game" which appears sensible as all of their QBs totally blow.  Taking him at his word, I believe they will try to run Adrian Peterson as often as possible and keep the clock running.  

Meanwhile the 49ers run the ball more than anyone in the league, 59% of the time.  The 49ers are going to totally outclass the Redskins in this game.  They are not interested in adding new wrinkles to the playbook because they don't need to do so.  They are going to run right at the Redskins, like they always do.  As you may recall, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan left on bad terms with there Redskins, as all people that work there usually do.  He will not allow his team to sleep and lose this game.  I see this game being more of a "we are going to come in there and impose our will upon you, dance on your broken corpse, and then have animalistic intercourse with your fans that we pluck from the crowd like an angry band of Huns".  Two teams running the ball, being physical while the clock tick, tick, ticks...  SF/WASH UNDER 43

Season Record:  12-4-1

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Nurse The Hate Book Club and NFL Locks

Thanks to the miracle of Amazon, I have received the sixth and final volume of “My Struggle” by Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausguard.  A 1200 page book, it is the final installment in what is essentially his autobiography, or maybe more accurately, his public diary.  I can summarize the book as this.  An introverted Scandinavian man has an ordinary life filled with the tiny defeats and occasional triumphs of the everyman.  In unflinching detail he recounts his shortcomings, mental torments and small slices of hope.  For the most part, nothing happens.  While I realize this is not the most resounding testimonial for a book, or in this case a series of books across 10,000+ pages, it is one of the most impactful reading experiences of my life.  I cannot recommend it highly enough.  

I don’t know exactly how he pulls off the trick.  Like Seinfeld, it’s a show about nothing, but it’s done so well and is so universal that it resonates.  His awkward teenage years are the same as mine, but with interesting different Euro cultural differences.  He strives and fails, lost in consistent shame at his misdeeds that non one else has even noticed.  He allows you complete access into his life, and the voyeuristic draw is impossible to fight off.  The book was so successful in his home country of Norway that 25% of the population bought a copy.  Imagine if in every room you walked into that a quarter of the people gathered there knew the intimate details of your most embarrassing sexual experience.  His writing is a bravery (or self-destruction) that is unequaled in our time.  

These books are the Proust of the modern age.  Look, I know there are a shit ton of cat videos and new Netflix shows out there.  I am just a little voice gurgling out an endorsement.  There is an armada of distractions flying at you all day long.  I am just so eager to have someone else share in this cathartic experience I had in these books that I will risk leaning in with a whisper and suggest “Psst…. You should check this out.  Your life will be better if you do.”  Seriously.  

So let’s talk football…. We are are at the point of the season where the bookies are really dialing in.  They know who is good and who isn’t while the public is about two weeks behind.  The lines are getting razor sharp.  The NFL changes quickly.  The game is savage.  Teams that had a pencil thin advantage over another could lose it in an instant with a horrific injury that slides under the radar.  A team that was 13-3 could suddenly find themselves a 9-7 team because an unknown left guard went out.  I am looking at you LA Rams.

I am not sure why the Rams do not have to report Todd Gurley on the injury report.  The best and highest paid running back in the league suddenly disappears from the game plan and gets no touches.  Hey, nothing to see here.  Gurley was so dangerous and his speed required so much respect that he opened up the field for the rest of the offensive backs.  Now the clearly damaged goods Gurley is a mortal RB and the Rams are a “pretty good team”.  They don’t have a quality win this year and are hosting the 49ers, who appear to be the 2019 version of the “surprise buzzsaw team”.  Yet, the Rams are giving the 49ers 3?  Fuck, I will take that all day long.  I get the better team playing on what is essentially a neutral field and I get three?  Yes please.  San Francisco +3

Look, I’m on the Vikings.  Yes, Cousins is overpaid.  Yes, the team is struggling to define their identity.  Yes, the asshole receivers are all complaining and acting up.  Indeed, I do also believe in the Eagles.  But, in Zimmer We Trust.  Mike Zimmer is the coach with the highest percentage of covers in the NFL.  The team is home at 1pm, a spot where the oddly OCD Kurt Cousins wins 67% of the time.  Zimmer is 18-2 ATS versus non-division teams as a home favorite.  This is the type of game Zimmer’s Vikings cover.  I am on Minnesota -3.  

New Orleans is getting 1.5 at Jacksonville.  This freaks me out.  New Orleans is clearly the better team.  What does Vegas know that I don’t in trying to guide me into what seems like such a sure thing bet?  Anytime it seem like it’s too good to be true (see Monday Night’s Packers -4 over Detroit), I pull up short.  It’s like seeing a mountain of candy knowing goddamn well that an evil clown with an axe is going to pop out and chop off your dick.  You really want the candy, but there is that voice in your head that urgently argues “you want your dick more than that candy Bro”.  Fuck it.  I want the candy.  New Orleans +3

There is no reason why the Browns will win on Sunday.  They are 2-4 but with all the hype seem like they are 2-27.  They got their scrotums kicked in the dirt last Monday night so hard I wept (and by “wept”, I mean went to sleep peacefully with a winning betting ticket clutched in my hand like a baby’s rattle).  The Seahawks are 4-1 and seem like they are a buzzsaw like always, however I have not bought in.  They do not have a quality win.  This team is a mirage.  I think they are an 8-8 type team that had to fly across the country to play a team that just got horribly embarrassed on national TV.  I mean, for God’s sake, ESPN used the word “debacle” in their headline of the game.  This is what motivates violent young men not to make assholes of themselves again while wearing football gear.  I will take the Browns and the points at home.  Cleveland +1.5

Season Record:  9-3-1

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Nurse the Hate: NFL Locks and Basset Update

A quick update on the basset situation...  Ryver returned home without getting an operation.  There was not an option to do so.  She has a disc in her back badly degenerated and another issue further up the spinal column.  This is believed to be vascular, but who the hell knows.  The only thing left to do is see if she will heal up on her own as surgical options are off the table.  Her left rear leg is essentially useless right now and her back right leg is unsteady at best.  This has left me helping her along in a sling when she agrees to move at all.  She is stubborn and spent a day avoiding taking a piss, but finally relented.  There was a celebration afterwards much like I expect to celebrate watching the Bears score on Oakland.  More on that in a moment.

Ryver is a proud tough dog.  She doesn't seem to be in pain beyond a discomfort level she has grown accustomed to over the years.  I can't believe she has been so stoic with this back situation she has been shouldering quietly for years.  She is alert, wants her treats, and wags her tail.  The recovery, if it happens at all, will be slow.  The home care will be difficult, but this basset has earned every opportunity to heal.  I hope that this is the right decision and I dread the possibility of having to make a decision to put her down later.  I could use a break here.

Let's not let the health of one mouthy basset hound get in the way of the real issues.  I am, of course, talking about this week's NFL slate.  It isn't often when a team loses their #1 pick to injury, has that player replaced by Chase Daniels, and it is considered a good thing for the team.  That is precisely what I believe happened with the Bears.  Mitch Trubisky is not very good.  The Bears are unable (or unwilling) to run their total offensive playbook because Mitch cannot execute the plays, hasn't been able to learn them, or a combination thereof.  Despite this being a counterintuitive statement, I think the Bears are better today than they were with Trubisky.  Daniels has worked with this system and should be able to be an effective game manager.

The Bears are playing the Raiders.  The Raiders are coming off a big win this week against the Colts.  What do you think of when you think Raiders?  The Antonio Brown debacle?  The Burfict signing?  The Raiders are the anti-Patriots.  When I think of what the Patriots do after a win, I think they get focused on getting better.  When the Raiders win they all get Tuesday off and gift cards to Dave & Busters.  Knock on wood if you're with me men.  I see lots of pressure on the Raider QB and Mack spending most of his time hitting dudes in a "you never should have traded me" way.  I will take the Bears -5.5

There are a bunch of stats about how good Pittsburgh is in the underdog role.  There are also stats aplenty about how close Pittsburgh plays Baltimore, and the team getting points is the side to jump on.  I think this is all about how the Public still perceives the Ravens to have a great defense when in reality they have given up 500+ yards two weeks in a row.  The Public also believes that Lamar Jackson is a budding superstar, and the Steelers are doomed without Big Ben.  I like this spot for Pittsburgh to maybe even win outright, but I will just take the points here.  Pittsburgh +3 at Baltimore.

From the moment I looked at the NFL schedule, I saw the Browns losing to the 49ers on Monday night.  The 49ers are better than perception.  The Niners have a very good defensive line, which is not good as Little Baker Mayfield will have almost no protection up front with his weak Browns O-line.  This is the Browns fourth "big game" in a row, and probably the least important.  This just seems like a normal time for a lag.  East coast team flies west.  Their last three games have been Monday Night in NY, Sunday night at home vs the Rams, and then the big showdown against Baltimore last week.  Meanwhile the 49ers are coming off a bye, are 3-0, and have this as their first "big game" of the year.  I see this as a way for the 49ers to announce "we're back" while Cleveland will be challenged to summon the effort they had team wide last week.  San Francisco -4.

Season Record:  8-2  

Friday, October 4, 2019

Nurse the Hate: A Basset In Distress

My basset hounds are getting older, approaching nine.  They have had the bumps and bruises of advancing age, ailments which have been mostly inconvenient.  I didn't think much of it when Ryver, the bossy sister and alpha of the pair, started to gimp a bit.  As someone getting older himself, I have been accepting that sometimes I will wake up feeling terrible. When I do I think, "My God, am I hungover.  What did I do last night?".  It is then my memory usually engages and I discover that I didn't do ANYTHING last night, I read a book and watched a mindless TV show.  I feel terrible just because that is evidently a joy of aging.  Thus, I feel empathy for Ryver as she and I gimp around the block.

When I got home yesterday, I discovered that Ryver was unwilling or unable to move her back leg.  She couldn't walk across the room and barked at me, her eyes saying "I can't move my leg.  I'm embarrassed but I need you to help me."  As an absurdly proud dog, perhaps too proud for a basset hound, I feel like I could read her expressive face, though I will admit that maybe I was projecting.  I tried to help her and discovered she was dragging her left leg limply.  This was well beyond being gimpy.  I rushed her to the vet.

My local vet checked her over.  He was alarmed.  He's a younger guy and has yet to develop that poker face necessary when delivering bad news.  I watched the telling exchange of glances between him and the tech as he explained how the dog had likely slipped a disc or maybe had a degenerartive condition.  This was well out of his abilities.  My only option was a referral to a specialist that did back surgeries or else it would be unlikely she would regain the use of her back legs.  This is terrible in the scenario of a human being, but for a dog, it's curtains.

It is amazing how quickly things can turn in life.  That morning I walked the bassets and we shuffled around our traditional morning walk, a routine that I find helps provide me a center.  It is a brief pause that offers a respite from the daily demands.  No matter how much quicker the outside world wants to pull you in, the basset hounds are going to take their goddamn time and sniff the hedges.  I like how they take their "job" seriously.  They look to me as a de-facto leader, which comes from being the provider of rides in the car and treats.  However, they give me more than I could ever give them.

Today Ryver is going to have surgery on her back, a procedure which the specialist said is "50-50".  I have beaten myself up over not noticing the severity of the basset's condition earlier.  Surely there was something I could have done, an indication I had missed.  They are dependent on me for everything.  It feels like my failure completely.  I am waiting for an outcome, one that I fear is going to be terrible.  The outcome already feels like it is going to be bad, but this is the time when the slim hope of the lucky coin flip can be used as a life raft.  I think about the basset in her unfamiliar surroundings, in pain, and in my mind wondering why I have abandoned her when she needs me the most.  She is a tough little dog.  I wish I could do something more.  I need her to be OK.