Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Chargers: Shut Your QB Up

I love my Chargers. I really do. They're currently at 10-5 following a horrendous 1-3 start. They've won 10 or more games in back-to-back seasons for the first time since Reagan's inagural year. LaDainian Tomlinson is leading the chase for the rushing title. I love my Chargers.

Although I'm disappointed in them, too. A while ago I stated that, should the Chargers finish anything less than 12-4, I would consider the season a disappointment. Well, the best they can finish is 11-5. And, yes, I consider this season a disappointment. Salvaged, of course, but still disappointing.

And then there's Philip Rivers. The highly-touted, overrated, and underperforming quarterback of the team. He replaced Drew Brees last season, and despite leading the Chargers to 14-2 last year, Rivers hasn't come anywhere close to Brees' accomplishments.

Brees' QB rating last year was 96.2 compared to Rivers' 92.0. This year, Brees is sitting at 90.8. Rivers? 81.4. Brees connects to receivers anywhere on the field. Long, short, left, middle, right. Rivers? Oh, he's got the long and short down. The middle, too. But left and right? The dude can't throw a screen pass to stop a fly. Brees has 10 more touchdowns in the past 2 years then Rivers does, and only 3 more interceptions. To qualify that, Brees has thrown over 1100 times for over 8500 yards. Rivers has less than 900 attemps for barely 6400 yards.

Sure, the Chargers have a better running game than the Saints, so perhaps Rivers doesn't need to throw as much, but then again, perhaps the Chargers coaches don't trust Rivers to throw more often.

Regardless, I believe that Rivers will continue to improve and eventually become one of the elite quarterbacks in the National Football League, like Drew Brees currently is. He probably won't ever be as efficient at Brees (hard to do), but he'll probably become as effective. Although Rivers has yet to win a playoff game. Brees has.

Still... Rivers needs to learn to shut up. He has a reputation around the league for being a shit-talker. And while he may feel he deserves to shit-talk due to his 24-8 record as a starter (including playoffs), he hasn't shown enough consistency to claim a large enough portion of credit for those victories.

What he was taped doing on the sidelines to Broncos QB Jay Cutler was ridiculous and embarrassing. Yes, there is room for talking smack in football. But Rivers is not a linebacker, not a guard or tackle, not a running back or a safety. He is a quarterback. The most professional of positions. The de facto leader of the team. Even the other NFL quarterbacks who have a propensity to mouth off rarely, if ever, go after an opposing quarterback the way Rivers did.

I love my Chargers. But Philip Rivers needs to just play the game... and shut the fuck up.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Hollywood Studio Creative Accounting: A Solution

Still no progress in the strike talks, with both sides slinging mud and acting like unwanted children. And these are supposed professionals we're talking about.

While I have no proposed to solution to this deadlock, I do believe I have a solution to one of the problems that has haunted Hollywood's talent for decades: the studios' propensity for "creative accounting."

What do I mean by "creative accounting," you might ask? Well, I'll tell you.

In Hollywood, several actors, directors, writers, and the like often sign deals for a percentage of a film's gross, or a percentage of a film's net. As a percentage of a film's gross is a rather unfair deal to the studios, some of the talent in Hollywood agreed to work for a percentage of the film's net, thereby allowing the hand that feeds them to make a nice profit, before handing the talent any extra income. However, the studios began to employ "creative accounting," in that they would fudge figures, budgets, revenues, and all sorts of numbers to show that a particular film, despite its box office take, never netted a penny.

As you can well see, taking a percentage of the net, a set up designed to be fair to both the studios and the talent, began a system entirely unfair to the talent. So, the talent went back to "percentage of gross" deals, and the studios went back to fuming.

This problem, unlike the current strike, is easily solved. Simply set a specific box office revenue target, then grant the talent a percentage of the gross beyond that target dollar amount.

Example: Film A costs $60 million to make. Writer B (or Actor B, or Director B) agrees to the "gross beyond specific box office revenue target," which is set at the film's budget amount of $60 million.

The film is released and goes on to gross $260 million at the box office. Since the set level was agreed at $60 million (the budget), the studio recoups its production costs, and Writer B makes 5% of the $200 million earned above that level.

As box office figures are compiled independent of the studios themselves, there are no figures to fudge.

And hence, no more "creative accounting."

Vote Eastwood, who is likely to support my idea.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Kudos and F.U.-dos

It's been a while since I did something pointless and random, so here goes:

Kudos to Al Gore, who completely remodeled his energy-hog home into something much, much more efficient. Way to put your money where your mouth is (but I still wouldn't vote for you).

F.U.-dos to Bobby Petrino. You know, coaches all around the world often push their players by saying, "Finish what you start." Mr. Petrino, you have lost the right to ever say that again.

Kudos to Michael Vick. You're finally where you belong.

F.U.-dos to Michael Vick. You're finally where you belong.

Kudos to the San Diego Chargers. One more win and you clinch your division for the second year straight. Two more wins and you'll record back-to-back double-digit wins for the first time since the 1980 and 1981 seasons.

F.U.-dos to the San Diego Padres. Are you ever going to win a bid for a free agent? That being said, they are still looking better than last year.

Kudos to the AMPTP for sticking to their guns.

F.U.-dos to the AMPTP for not having a back-up plan in the case of a strike.

Kudos to the WGA for putting out some of the best television material in years.

F.U.-dos to the WGA for putting a lot of people out of work.

Kudos to NBC for picking up Life and Chuck for full-season runs (and possible kudos for dumping Bionic Woman).

F.U.-dos to NBC for leaving Journeyman in a current state of limbo.

Kudos to Ronald D. Moore for creating what was potentially the best science-fiction television series ever.

F.U.-dos to Ronald D. Moore for ruining it during the second season.

Kudos to Brad for getting me hired on American Idol.

F.U.-dos to everyone who fails to return emails, MySpace messages, and phone calls.

Kudos for the State of California for imposing penalties on employers that don't offer health care. More kudos for California for not fucking with the current health care system to do it. See, people? There are solutions.

F.U.-dos to China for not leaving Taiwan alone, among other places. Seriously, it's been a half-century. Is it really that important to have that island? F.U.-dos also go to the United States for being pussies and not formally recognizing Taiwan as a sovereign nation.

Kudos to everyone who reads these silly little blogs.

F.U.-dos to everyone who doesn't.

Friday, December 14, 2007

An Army of More Than One

Everyone who has been in the military knows of the utter chaos involved in running a unit, much less a full-scale operation. Hell, most people who haven't been in the military have heard the stories, as well. There's even a popular saying attributed to several foreign generals (none of whom probably actually said it): "War is chaos. The reason the Americans are so good at it is because they practice chaos every day."

Okay, so maybe that's a good thing... in war games and training, anyway, but not at the administrative level. Regardless of the ground-floor operational intent and execution, any institution's administration should be clean and efficient. And the Army (and military in general) is not.

While there are several balls of wax and cans of worms I can get into, today I'm going to concentrate on one: the Army's various missions separated among its capabilities. What are its capabilities, you might ask? Well, I'll tell you: armored warfare, light infantry warfare, and airborne warfare (and, if I get my way, amphibious warfare). It's more than just an "Army of One," it's a multifaceted organization that should emphasize its multiple faces.

In the current system, soldiers, regardless of their qualifications, are often levied and transferred (usually involuntarily) to other duty stations. This results in soldiers, who for the last few years have been airborne or light, being sent to armored and mechanized units. What's the big deal? Well, it forces that soldier, who has been trained and indoctrinated in a particular style of warfare, to be re-trained and re-indoctrinated into a new one. While I agree that one should always know as much about related and opposing operations as possible, I disagree in that one should be arbitrarily pulled from their "areas of expertise."

The solution is simple: keep those aligned soldiers in their alignments. In other words, if a soldier is airborne, leave him in the airborne. If he must transfer, transfer him to another airborne unit. The same goes for armored and mechanized soldiers: leave them mechanized. Should the Marine Corps be absorbed into the Army, leave the Marines as Marines. Light infantry is a bit more of a mess, but leave light, well, light. Perhaps even separate the light category into air assault and non-air assault (or even mountain).

This will ultimately create better trained and prepared units, will leave soldiers familiar with the quirks and nuances of their peers with their peers, and will decrease the pressure on the Army's administration system by getting rid of a hack levy and PCS (Permanent Change of Station) system.

Of course, should a soldier want to change his or her specialty and/or duty station, then by all means, afford him or her the opportunity. I also understand that several vacated higher positions in particular units will have to be filled by pulling a qualified soldier from another specialty and/or location.

Just knock off the unnecessary mixing and matching, okay?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The WGA Strike: an Exercise in Greed, Power, and Stupidity

I'm sure everyone is aware of the Hollywood strike perpetuated by the Writer's Guild of America. It's all over the news, you're starting to notice your favorite TV shows disappear gradually, and everyone's about to get sick of reality programming.

This strike, in and of itself, is ridiculous, and will do Hollywood as an institution a Hell of lot more harm than it will "empower the writers to continue to produce commercial concent." And here's why:

Although there are several issues on the table at the negotiations between the AMPTP and the WGA, the one experiencing the hottest contention is the debate over how much money writers should be paid for web and new media content (such as webisodes of popular television shows, web-only shows, and direct downloads of shows and films). On the AMPTP side, they're claiming that the financial model for such a system isn't quite yet hammered out, and they're not sure how exactly they should distribute fees and residuals to the writers. The WGA is claiming that's a load of bullshit, and wants its money.

Now, according to several reports, the AMPTP has offered the WGA the same setup used to determine DVD and home video residuals. There's a bit more to it, but that's it in essence. To this, the writers resoundingly said "no."

Let me back up a bit... I wholeheartedly agree with the writers in that they should be paid for their work. However, I vehemently disagree that they should be paid for their work "in perpetuity." This is partially because I believe product should, ultimately, enter the public domain after a set number of years (and not a lengthy set, either), but that's almost another matter entirely, and I do not currently have the time to go over it.

Long story short: the WGA is wrong for instigating the strike when they did. Next year, the SAG and the DGA unions are going to approach the AMPTP to restructure their contracts, as well. Why couldn't the WGA have waited until then? Simply sign a one-year extension and have all three of the "power guilds" negotiate at the same time? By then, the AMPTP's argument about "not knowing how to pay for webisodes and downloads" would have been moot, having been given a year to figure it out.

But, no, Hollywood writers are, by nature, a greedy lot, and having already been slighted over "proper due credit" in film and television (an issue I agree with the WGA on), they aren't about to give up their so-called "pennies on the dollar."

If you find yourself siding with the writers on this, I ask you to go to the WGA website and look up their schedule of fees. These writers are extremely well-compensated for their work, most making more for a single script or a teleplay than many Americans make in an entire year. And, yet, they're claiming they don't make enough money.

There is more to this story, and, yes, I do feel that the WGA should ultimately win out on this issue, but they (along with SAG and the DGA) need to realize that they can only bite the hand that feeds them so many times. When an institution gets too top-heavy, it simply collapses, and then everyone is shit out of luck.

All that being said, my overall problem with the WGA is that they (again, along with SAG and the DGA) have not just the ability to force their own work-stoppages, they have the ability to shut down the entire American movie-making business. When these unions strike, it's not just them that feels the heat, but the hundreds and thousands of "below-the-line" workers who find themselves suddenly out of jobs. And most of the people who comprise IATSE (the largest Hollywood union, and the one which holds most of the technical and worker-bee personnel) don't make 25% of what the people in the WGA, SAG, and the DGA make.

Seriously... the next time you strike, make damn certain the "facts" you bring to the table are ironclad. And quit forcing me to find other jobs.

So, to the writers, despite the fact that I wish to eventually join the WGA, go fuck yourselves.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

An Overview of Restructuring the Military

I admit it, this isn't really a true blog, but as I've entered a new phase in my military-based research, I've decided to link all of my military blogs in one blog for easy access (and for those of you who might still be interested).

There is, undoubtedly, more to follow, including the Department of Defense's ridiculous propensity to preserve General and Admiral slots while pretending to streamline the actual force structure.

Anyway, here they are:

The Army Corps of... Marines?

Army Musings

The Military Draft: No So Random Thoughts

United States Marine Corps, Department of the Army

The United States Air Force: a Parasite Organization

Marine Corps versus Army: the Rank Problem

For those of you who might prefer a summary, basically:

1) The US Air Force should be split among the Army and the Navy, with close air support, tactical bombing, airlift, and air superiority assets going to the Army, and strategic air going to the Navy.
2) The US Marine Corps should realign under the Army.
3) The military in general should eliminate at least three enlisted and three officer ranks, and should reevaluate the necessity of the warrant officer system.
4) The military in general should eliminate as many flag positions as possible, thereby truly streamlining the command structure and increasing the efficiency of its administration system.

And there you have it.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

An Honest Smile for the Chargers

Finally. After 13 games, we've finally seen what we were supposed to have seen all season.

The Chargers finished a game in decisive fashion.

After being down 17-3 in the fourth quarter, Philip Rivers got out of his proverbial "but-I-was-awesome-in-college" rut, let his team to two touchdowns to force overtime, then led them to a win.

Kudos. Not only for the win, but for finally showing some of that Drew Brees-esque level-headedness that would allow one to lead a losing team to victory.

Shawne Merriman, who didn't finish the game, added two more sacks to his total.

Antonio Cromartie added another interception to his total.

LaDainian Tomlinson finally got a hard-earned 100-yard rushing game.

Norv Turner didn't do anything stupid.

The Chargers need only to win one more game to clinch their division (that is, if Denver doesn't lose today), and they are back in the playoffs.

Finally. True colors have shined. Yes, this season is still a bit of a disappointment, but at least the Chargers have finally proved (to me) that they are a team opponents should be worried about.

Hey, Titans fans... you suck.

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Anniversary

It was a cool Texas night. Autumn was fading into winter. But she did not know it. Had she thought of it, she might have had some poetic inkling concerning the weather or the changing of the seasons, but her mind was elsewhere. Hundreds of feet up in the air, protected by the shatterproof windows of her hotel room, the temperature and time of day were far away from the landscape of her mind.

Love was in the air, as is often the case during and after a wedding. Lust, too, was present that night. Two emotional warmths amid the… read more @ Panoramic Mindscapes


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Fall 2007 Television Season: More Shows

Oops. I'm an idiot. I already missed one show in my last blog (Pushing Daisies), and had to add it later, but I just realized that there are more that I can rant or rave about.

My bad.

Chuck - admittedly, I was initially apprehensive about watching this one. It just seemed so... silly. The good news is that it is so silly, but that's the point. Like Pushing Daisies, though a bit more contemporary, this show is irreverent fun.

Meerkat Manor - Animal Planet's highest rated show. It's got everything you want to see: murder, theft, sex, war, and even infanticide. And all with rodents. Sadly, Sean Astin's narration is horrible, but the lives of these animals speaks for themselves.

Okay, so there were only two. Sue me. Post some shows you've been watching, and maybe I'll give them a shot.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Fall 2007 Television Season: an Update

Now that we're moving into the mid-season breaks, it's easier to call which shows have it, and which ones don't.

Obviously, fan favorites such as Lost and 24 have yet to return, so I won't be offering any conjecture on those.

Well, I'm tired, so let's just run through this, shall we?

Prison Break - still well-acted and fairly well-written, it's becoming painfully obvious that the gimmick is up. I'll keep watching, though, if only to see where it goes. New viewers might get a kick of it, and loyal fanboys (and girls) will obviously remain loyal, but there's not much here for the casual viewer to latch onto.

Heroes - despite a slow, agonizing start to its second season, the show has finally picked back up and is back to its first season quality.

Bionic Woman - is officially banned from my television.

Moonlight - I gave up on this a while ago, but happened to catch the last episode. It appears that the plot has evolved into something engaging. Unfortunately, poor production values and crap acting are still hampering this great concept. Jury's still out on whether or not I jump back into this one.

House - still the best character on television, and though I'm sad to see the "who gets hired?" subplot go, I'm looking forward to the show's Spring return.

The Unit - finding its way, though given that it's in its third season, it should have done that about 30 episodes ago. Military aficionados will enjoy this, even though military inaccuracies still frequent the series far too often.

Life - best new show on television. Period.

Journeyman - started off good (if a little slow), and keeps getting better and better. It'll be a shame if continued poor ratings forces NBC to ax this one.

K-Ville - another show still finding its way. It's a competent series, but is missing that something extra to make it truly a good one. I doubt it'll last long enough, but it'd be nice if the show finds a direction to go in. As it stands now, this is a show that belongs in the 1980s.

Kitchen Nightmares - yes, it's a reality show, but it's a damned good one. The only slight against it is that it pays less attention to the actual restaurant industry, and more attention to the "drama" inherent to the people working in a failing restaurant. The British version managed to do both, so why can't the American version follow suit?

Battlestar Galactica: Razor - cheesy. Bad characterization, bad plot progression, decent writing. As far as being the actual Battlestar Galactica Season 4 setup? Bad, bad idea.

Pushing Daisies - odd, quirky, and totally engaging in a camp kind of way. In this case, however, camp is a good thing. A good example of a television series simply having fun with itself, and not at the expense of its viewers.

Anyway, the SciFi remake of The Wizard of Oz, Tin Man, is on my DVR. More on that to follow.