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 chill the wind had brought from distant deserts and shores. She was drunk, to be sure, but the clarity of the sensation shined through the haze of the alcohol clouding her mind. He was on top of her, inside of her, and she could do nothing about it, even if she had wanted to.

Caught between impulses to resist and the desire to wait for what came next, her mind continued to wander. Neither here, nor there, she felt what was happening. A part of her trapped in a moment unexpected, one she did not want to end. Another part of her freed in a surge of emotion, watching herself watching herself. And it was magic.

Her hands caressed and attacked her lover. His body was still strange to her, and this was a new that she would never get used to. He did not seem to mind. He understood her confusion, her unbearable pleasure. He just smiled and kissed her. For, that night, she was loved.

And still is.

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.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Marine Corps versus Army: the Rank Problem

Given the current flow of information from the Department of Defense, one might assume that there aren't enough ranks in the military to properly control and command our armed forces. After all, while already having nine enlisted grades, there are often reports of the services trying to approve a tenth grade, to be reserved for the top enlisted man (or woman) in a particular service. On top of that, the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps are inundated with an oft-confusing "warrant officer" system that is, to be quite honest, redundant and pragmatically unnecessary.

Both of these quirky little facts, combined with an officer system that contains up to eleven ranks (ten in peacetime), and what we actually have is a system that is too large, overwrought, and bad for business. Particularly when it comes to discipline.

While the majority of what I'm going to rant about concerns the enlisted ranks, let's go ahead and gloss over the officer system.

Eleven ranks. With the exception of the Navy, the rank structure for officers proceeds like this:

1. Second Lieutenant
2. First Lieutenant
3. Captain
4. Major
5. Lieutenant Colonel
6. Colonel
7. Brigadier General
8. Major General
9. Lieutenant General
10. General
11. General of the Army (Air Force - the USMC has no equivalent).

What's the problem, you might ask? Well, for starters, this rank system is designed to deal with an armed force based on a regimental system. A system that we quit using nearly a century ago. But to spell it out, let's take a look at the "natural progression," shall we?

In the Army and Marine Corps, units commanded by officers progress as such:

1. Platoons - commanded by Second Lieutenants
2. Companies (or their "regimental equivalent" - basically, whether it's cavalry, artillery, or infantry) - commanded by Captains
3. Battalions - commanded by Lieutenant Colonels
4. Brigades - commanded by Colonels, or, depending on the make-up, Brigadier Generals (which is where the name "Brigadier" originated)
5. Divisions - commanded by Major Generals
6. Corps - commanded by Lieutenant Generals
7. Armies - commanded by Generals

There are more above armies, but unless another true world war breaks out, they're not likely to be used ever again. Indeed, even the "basis unit" has shifted downward to brigades, rather than divisions.

Anyway, take a look at that unit/officer chart. Where are, for instance, the natural positions for First Lieutenants and Majors? I understand that I'm asking you to infer a lot on your own, and I will probably follow this up with another article explaining the inherent problem with those ommissions, but just bear with me.

From that chart alone, and without any other justification, we have two officer ranks too many. More evidence, including some implied above, would also suggest that colonels should shift down to battalions, leaving brigadier generals in their natural position of commanding brigades, allowing the lieutenant colonel rank to also be ommitted.

Ugh... on to the enlisted ranks.

Here are the Army/Marine Corps ranks for enlisted:

1. Private / Private
2. Private / Private First Class
3. Private First Class / Lance Corporal
4. Corporal (Specialist) / Corporal
5. Sergeant / Sergeant
6. Staff Sergeant / Staff Sergeant
7. Sergeant First Class / Gunnery Sergeant
8. Master Sergeant / Master Sergeant
9. Sergeant Major / Sergeant Major

Those soldiers and Marines reading this will know there are some variations to some of these ranks, but, again, bear with me.

Okay... nine ranks... and for what?

To put this in perspective, let's look at the basic infantry squads in both the Army and Marine Corps.

In the Army, the basic infantry squad is a nine-man unit, with a squad leader and two teams consisting of a team leader, grenadier, automatic rifleman, and rifleman each.

The squad is commanded by a Staff Sergeant (E-6), while the teams are commanded by Sergeants (E-5). The remaining six soldiers are a mix of Privates (E-1 or E-2), Privates First Class (E-3), Specialists (E-4), or Corporals (also E-4).

So, basically, the building-block unit of the Army has three Non-Commissioned Officers, and six other enlisted. A 1:2 ratio. Keep in mind, the non-NCOs can consist of all E-1s or all E-4s, or any variation in-between and thereof.

Where's the rank structure? Where's the top-down? How fucking stupid is that? Six separate grades for nine people?

The Marine Corps' setup is, undeniably, far more logical. A basic Marine Corps infantry squad is thirteen men, with a squad leader and three teams consisting of a team leader, an automatic rifleman, an assistant automatic rifleman, and a rifleman each.

The MC squad is commanded by a Sergeant (E-5), while the teams are commanded by Corporals (E-4). The remaining nine soldiers are a mix of Privates (E-1), Privates First Class (E-2), or Lance Corporals (E-3).

Though still a bit of a muddled mess, there is far more of a semblance of a proper rank structure in the Marine Corps squad than is found in the Army squad.

However, in both systems, we have revealed at least two too many enlisted grades at the squad level.

Here is how it should progress:

1. Privates - in charge of nothing
2. Corporals - in charge of fire teams
3. Sergeants - in charge of squads
4. Staff/Gunnery Sergeants - Platoon Sergeants
5. Master Sergeants - Company First Sergeants, etc.
6. Sergeant Majors - Senior Battalion(+) enlisted.

An elimination of three enlisted ranks, a streamlining of the enlisted chain-of-command, an increase in respect for the lower enlisted ranks, and a true merit-based promotion system.

Counter-arguments against doing such a thing (besides the totally irrelevant and inane "tradition" argument) will probably focus on the ability to promote soldiers to increase their wages. While I'm always for making more money, do we really want soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen shooting for promotions ONLY because the next rank pays more? Fuck no, we don't. We want sergeants who WANT to be sergeants, because they WANT the power and responsibility that comes with it... not because they want another $200 or $300 a month. And regardless, that problem is so easily fixed, I'm going to point out how in the next paragraph.

The Army and Marine Corps' pay and promotion system is already heavily computerized, and separating pay grade from rank would be as simple as modifying the computer software. Hell, in that aspect, the military could create as many pay grades as it deems necessary, all while leaving the rank structure streamlined, intact, and with a clear chain-of-command. It's high-time we start streamlining things and bringing back respect for our ranks.

(Yes, I'm just glossing the surface, and, yes, I realize this post is a little chaotic, but hopefully your eyes are opening a little bit. Feel free to hammer me with questions and arguments.)

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Chargers’ Coaching Circus

For those of you who feel that coaching has little to do with a game, you need only look one place to find out that you're wrong: the San Diego Chargers.

The Chargers coaches are sub-standard, it's affecting the players, and the only man to blame is the San Diego General Manager, A.J. Smith.

See, under the Chargers' previous head coach, Marty Schottenheimer, the team went from the basement of the NFL to the attic. His disciplinarian style and ability to lead turned that team around, and he was summarily rewarded by being fired... and all because A.J. Smith didn't like him, and never did.

But when Marty was there, he had a decent offensive coordinator in Cam Cameron, an excellent defensive coordinator in Wade Phillips, and a suprisingly outstanding set of coaches.

Exit Cam to Miami, exit Wade to Dallas, and exit Marty to wherever the Hell he is. In Mythology, those three-headed animals can be a pain to deal with as long as one head remains, but San Diego lost all three in one off-season.

A.J., rife with the self-belief that he's a genius, brings in Norv Turner (whom Cam Cameron stole his offensive system from), a man who has never been an effective head coach, but has always been an excellent offensive coordinator.

This, however, created more problems than it solved.

First, the man hired as the new offensive coordinator by Marty, Clarence Shelmon (former running backs coach for the Chargers), effectively "lost" his new job, as Norv calls all offensive plays himself. This ain't going to make Clarence happy, and it removes him from a coaching position that he excelled at. Let's not forget that the new running backs coach is far less notable. Any wonder why the Chargers running game is way below their standard this year?

Second, Norv is not the motivator Marty was. Norv, like Philip Rivers, appears to give up from time to time. Marty fought tooth and nail to make a point, even if his team was down by 30 points.

See, when Marty and Cam ran the offense, Cam would generally call the plays, but if Marty had a problem with it, the play-calling would shift. Similarly, if Marty wanted something, Cam would adjust his plays to make Marty happy. Two heads, as they say, are better than one. With Norv, he answers to no one, and what he says is it... even when what he says is so obviously stupid.

For proof of this, simply look at Turner's career. As an offensive coordinator, he turned a struggling 49ers offense into a pleasant suprise the last couple of years. Now that he has left San Francisco to be the head coach in San Diego, both teams are suffering. The 49ers offense once again sucks, and the entire Chargers team once again sucks. Coincidence? I doubt it.

How does this explain the defensive problems San Diego has? Well, look at it this way... if you're a defensive player and you're always stuck on the field, and you have little faith that your offense is going to score even if you stand your ground, how long can you go before you quit giving a shit?

Norv Turner has to go, and he has to go before Philip Rivers truly does become a lost cause. Otherwise, the Spanos family better find some way to get Drew Brees back.

And Marty, too.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Political Incorrectness that Is

I suppose in my last entry I should have put something to effect of "it's acceptable to call your girl friends bitches," or maybe not.

For those of you who follow the soap opera that is the Presidential campaign, you probably saw or heard of the woman who asked Senator John McCain "How do we beat the bitch?" She was, obviously, referencing Senatory Hillary Clinton.

Yes, it was funny in that sort of way. Yes, it was a legitimate political question (well, in essence). And, yes, it was entirely inappropriate and more of a slight to McCain's supporters than to Clinton herself.

For years now, people have been complaining about the American political system and how completely distasteful and unprofessional its campaigns have become. And now McCain, one of the more vocal proponents of taste and professionalism, has now been caught in his own net. Yeah, that's a broad statement, but you get the drift.

Regardless of whether Hillary Clinton is a bitch or not, regardless of whether she's Presidential material or not, such labels do not belong in the (public) realm of our national politics. The woman who asked that question, clearly a bitch herself, should be ashamed she asked it, and on camera no less. She must have thought she was "standing up" and "dishing a blow" for her world view in an honorable, noticeable sort of way. She got the noticeable part right. Perhaps she's just a jealous old hag, or a mindless bimbo married to a dictatorial man who forces his political opinions on her, or perhaps not. Either way, she's an idiot.

I'm not voting for Clinton, nor do I even like her, but she is a studied, worldly, and intelligent woman. She is also Senator McCain's peer and colleague. McCain, politics aside, should have stood up for that fact more forcibly than he did. And though it was "an excellent question" pertaining to the campaign race, he should not have acknowledged that in public. I understand he was caught off guard and scrambling for a response, but he is a politician, and politicians are supposed to be masters in situations like that.

Keep in mind, in a country where most of its eligible citizens don't "waste their time" to vote, that woman is of the type of people that does vote. Whether you like Clinton or not, McCain or not, this is who you're up against.

And I guarantee you that bitch will fill out a ballot.

Vote Eastwood. And keep the name-calling in the locker room.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Political Incorrectness that Isn’t

Over the years, in my own experience of course, I have discovered a few things:

Telling a deploying soldier "kick some ass" is perfectly acceptable.

Calling gay friends "faggots" and black friends "niggers" is also acceptable. Naturally, what they usually call me back is not printable.

Posting a "That Includes Bible-Thumbing" sign underneath a "No Soliciting" sign on your door saves everyone involved a ton of grief.

Fist fights resulting from left versus right political arguments can acceptably and peacefully be resolved with free alcohol.

"Thou Shalt Not Kill" is a debatable Commandment.

Neo-Nazis are people, too. Stupid people, but people nonetheless.

The cuter an animal is, the better it usually tastes. Which leads to...

Dogs and cats can be eaten.

My incorrect opinion is still better than your correct one.

Kids who think they're cool because they dress in black and listen to punk or emo either A) continue to listen to punk or emo and fail in life or B) change their loser ways and wind up classic rock fans.

Stereotypes are surprisingly accurate, even if not absolute truths.

A single American hostage is reason enough to go to war. Conversely, for other countries, a single hostage of their citizenry is reason enough for them to go to war.

Men and women are not mental and physical equals. They are, however, social equals, and should be treated as such.

Having retarded (for lack of better term) children in our school systems increases the amount of tax dollars we put in to pay for said school systems. Tax dollars better spent elsewhere.

Many of you are referring to me with despicable words right now, and that's your right. Humor me and post some of them. I'm curious.

Clint Eastwood isn't running for President, but I'm voting for him anyway.

Ugliness in Charger-ville

Somehow they did it. Somehow the Chargers held on after watching a 23-0 lead dwindle to a 23-21 lead. A 23-21 lead that saw the Colts with the ball on the Chargers 11 getting ready to kick the game-winning field goal. Somehow... oh, wait, no... they won because Adam Vinatieri missed two field goals. An act even LaDainian Tomlinson admitted he didn't expect would ever happen.

Darren Sproles and Antonio Cromartie, by themselves, saved the Chargers season. For now, at least. Sproles returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and later added a punt return for a touchdown. Cromartie intercepted Peyton Manning three times (Manning threw another three during the game and still somehow managed to lead his team within two points of the Chargers).

Sure, LT added a rushing touchdown, but Philip Rivers returned to his "what the fuck is going on and where am I" ways and did just about nothing to help the Chargers, even losing a fumble in the endzone and knocking it into the hands of an opponent, which resulted in a Colts touchdown instead of a Colts safety. Oh, wait, no... he also threw two interceptions.

So, Darren Sproles and Antonio Cromartie saved the Chargers season. Despite everything Norv Turner and Philip Rivers could do to lose the game (Turner even threw two absolutely worthless challenge flags), Sproles and Cromartie saved the season... this week, at least.

As you can probably infer, I'm not celebrating the Chargers victory. I'm actually loathing it. Sure, a win is a win, but I've never missed Drew and Marty so much.

Ugh.

Fun fact: the Chargers are 3-1 versus the Manning brothers since Eli spurned San Diego in the 2004 draft, with only Peyton pulling off a single victory.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Environmental Musings

I don't believe in global warming. Not yet, anyway. I do feel that most evidence supports it, and I don't think that Al Gore is trying to "pull the wool" over anyone's eyes (though I think his statement that "the debate is over" is both ignorant, foolish, and dangerous), but I think we need about another 10 years to really know.

Still, while the pro-Gore nuts are walking around with their noses in the air and the anti-Gore nuts are fuming about anti-Liberal politics, work needs to be done.

With or without Global Warming, there is no doubt that we are killing our planet. Fuck the thermometer, we only need to look at our rivers and the brown haze over Los Angeles to know that.

Not to be such a harp on Gore, but buying "carbon-neutral" CERTIFICATES to offset the energy your way-too-large house uses is not a good way to set an example. Either you want to live richly or you don't. Shut the fuck up.

Ethanol is a crock, and more and more evidence is coming out to support it. Case in point: Presidential not-so-hopeful John Edwards changed his language supporting ethanol from "Yes, let's do it!" to "It's a good way to transition from oil to whatever we end up with." Those are both paraphrases, mind you, but they're accurate.

By the way... ethanol doesn't lower emissions all that much, lowers your fuel efficiency, and drives the price of corn and its replacement food products up A LOT. The only people truly with anything to gain from long-term ethanol use are farmers... who are whole-heartedly behind the ethanol movement. Go figure.

Iceland is switching to hydrogen-only fuels. Nay-sayers state that Iceland can do such a thing because Iceland has near 100% access to geothermal energy, and can therefore pull the hydrogen required from the ground. Everyone else is making excuses as to why they can't. Let's see... the most common element in the UNIVERSE is (gasp) hydrogen, and now people are saying we can't FIND ANY? Good thing no one is trying to run cars off of cigarettes and alcohol, because then those would suddenly become hard to find, too.

I've said this before, but building a physical fence along the US-Mexico border is the dumbest thing I can think of (well, maybe not, but right now it is). This is for a couple of reasons: 1) we have the technology to build a "virtual" fence, and 2) we're destroying an ecosystem. Oops.

Do I agree with Al Gore that the emerging environmental industry will create at least as many jobs as it will destroy (as in big oil, etc.)? Yes. In that aspect, the environmental industry is truly a capitalist one. And why the fuck are we worried about hurting big oil, anyway? If they were in such trouble, they wouldn't be giving sub-par former CEOs nine-figure severance packages.

Every species that becomes extinct is an embarrassment to the human race. Okay, not every. The ones that died out on their own obviously "deserved" it, but the ones that we contribute to... well, we're just stupid.

Environmental groups that don't want companies to profit from saving the environment are full of fucking morons. Hello! Profit is the ONLY way to sustain a movement. Find me a movement that was sustained with pure "heart and soul" and I'll show you a movement that ended with a whimper.

Not really an environmental point, but nature is full of four inescapable things: eating, sleeping, fucking, and killing. So why do we complain when the latter two show up in film, television, and other media? Nobody seems to give a shit about the former two. Maybe I'll start a movement...

In the early 90s, Mazda actually developed a car that got 80 miles per gallon. 80! But, the naysayers kept it off the road because the vehicle was TOO LIGHT and would have been dangerous. Um... motorcycles are legal, you know? $100 says the Big Three and Big Oil kept that fucker off the road.

Vote Eastwood.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Pointless Musings All Over

Well, it'll be official at midnight tonight, the Writers Guild is going to strike. This means that movies and TV shows are going to get really, really bad in the near future. Cool.

The Chargers are 4-4. Norv Turner and Philip Rivers are to blame. Yep. Despite not generating much offense, it didn't appear that Mr. Turner made any half-time adjustments. Yeah, his defensive half-time adjustments simply didn't work against that monster that is Adrian Peterson, but he didn't even try anything different with the offense until it was way too late.

As far as Philip Rivers... at least when Drew Brees had things start going bad, he didn't get rattled. Rivers fucks up once, and you can count on him fucking up the whole game.

Last week started bad for me, but ended well and was a very good week in retrospect. This week is off to an even worse start... and while I'm hoping that means it will end even better than last week, I doubt it.

I'm almost motivated to start working on my time travel script again... and after seeing the first part of the absolutely horrible A Sound of Thunder, it's clear Hollywood is in dire need of a good time travel script. Oh, but wait... there's a strike.

Another band you should be listening to, but probably aren't: Barcelona.

There's a credit union in Nevada called Greater Nevada Credit Union. Avoid doing business with them at all costs. Ripping you off is the name of their game.

My interest in Prison Break is fading fast.

My interest in the East Coast is fading even faster.

Best lyric ever written (and I might have said this before): "Little old lady got mutilated late last night."

I just saw a documentary concerning that teenaged Palestinian girl who killed that teenaged Israeli girl. Wow. Those two cultures really hate each other. I mean, really. Like, reciprocated hatred. Good luck solving that problem anytime soon.

More on the Writers Guild strike... do the unions not realize that they're biting the hand that feeds them? Take a look at the United Auto Workers union... if one can point a finger at what kicked American car companies off the top of the mountain, the UAW's demands over the years is it. Next year the Directors Guild and Screen Actors Guild get a chance to strike, too. Hollywood is so fucked.

Since BRAC started under the first Bush, the military has lost dozens and dozens (hundreds and hundreds, really) of military installations and training grounds. Guess what's happening now? Yep, the military is trying to "eminent domain" about 5 million acres for training areas. I haven't done the research yet, but I'm guessing that's about how much land the military has lost under BRAC. Way to plan that one out, morons.

Vote Eastwood.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

And We'll Never Know His Name...

A sad song plays on the radio. The lyrics reflect a life that was not his, but his memories wander anyway. Eventually they find their way to two specific points in time.

The first, the first time he had seen a dead body. He was a soldier, but the death had not been caused by combat. The woman had merely been a victim of a car accident. An accident in some Latin American country. The woman's daughter stood nearby, crying as she watched her lifeless mother placed on a gurney and loaded into the ambulance, red and blue lights glistening off her tears.

And then the tears became his own. Tears in another time, another place.

This time, the dead body was on his back. His best friend. He carried his companion across the desert, ditching his own survival equipment along the way in order to bear the weight of the man he shared drinks with not three days earlier. This death was from combat. Many more deaths surrounded the incident, but the man did nothing about the others. It was only for his friend that he was concerned.

No, that isn't true. He remembered the rage he felt when blood splattered from his friend's neck onto his uniform. He remembered the decisive, yet chaotic, response of firing half-aimed shots into the crowd where their assailants were firing from. He remembered the woman with the baby. He remembered her falling. On that trek through the blistering heat, he remembered replacing the baby in his mind with a bomb.

Until the song, he would remember only the bomb, and not the cries of a baby crushed under the weight of its mother.

Then, however, he only knew one thing. He had to bring his friend home. It was only 70 more miles to the nearest border. His friend had to make it home.

Later, he would be told that the actions of he and his team saved many lives. At the cost of many. At the cost of a dead friend whose body lies less than 15 miles within an enemy country, for the weight became too much to bear.

A sad song plays on the radio. A man some call a hero begins to cry. He doesn't stop until he falls asleep. A hero... shamed.

He never talks about what happened. He doesn't talk about what he did or didn't do, and when he does his replies are inconsistent, shrouded in self-mystery. He won't admit to being a hero. For he was, is, a soldier. And the world doesn't need to know his name.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Things Hollywood Should Get Right, but Doesn’t

It's no secret that Hollywood films and television shows get a lot of facts wrong. Every film-going or TV-watching professional in the world has likely seen his or her profession represented on the screen and winced at something that just doesn't "happen that way."

Usually, writers, directors, and producers try to claim that facts are fudged or sacrificed in the name of "good drama." However, there are just as many writers, directors, and producers who claim that reality is good drama, putting those other lazy, less-talented-than-they-should-be filmmakers to shame.

Regardless, there are several things that are rampant in film and television that said filmmakers almost always get wrong, and with no reason for it. If you can honestly tell me that the following mistakes add to the drama, then I'll shut up... but you won't be able to.

1. Smokers don't normally "whoosh" their exhales. Maybe once in a while, but not every time Diane Lane or someone else lights up. Smokers also inhale their smoke. If a part requires smoking, teach the ass how to smoke.

2. Sergeants Major in the Army and Marine Corps are never referred to as just "Sergeant." And actors playing Colonels referring to Sergeants Major as "Sergeant" should know better.

3. I mentioned this a few entries ago, but the term "soldier" refers to one branch of the military: the Army. So the next time The Rock plays a Marine Sergeant, he shouldn't be calling his men "soldiers."

4. The disconnected signal on a telephone takes a protracted amount of time to occur. It doesn't happen right away, even if someone is trying to break into your house.

5. Casting obvious bimbos like Tara Reid and Denise Richards as scientists convinces nobody in the audience and results in chuckles every time one of them tries to pronounce "DNA" or "nuclear."

6. When firing a gun, most people, if not all, aim with the eye that's on the same side of the hand they're holding the trigger with. That's certainly how it's taught.

7. No matter how good lip-syncing is done, it never looks like real singing. That's because singers actually breathe, use their vocal chords, and do other realistic things that actors should learn before they try to "fake real life."

8. A proper American hand-salute would be nice from time to time.

9. The current fashion to use "hand-held camera" for everything, because filmmakers claim that it makes the audience "feel like they're really there." Um, no... at best, it makes the audience feel more like they're watching a documentary. I don't recall the world ever bouncing up and down so fast whenever I sprinted short distances.

10. Clint Eastwood should be President. Have a nice day.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sitting Down

My ass hurts. My legs hurt. My lower back hurts. Hell, even my elbows hurt. And, no, it's not from every guy's dream of too much sex.

It's from sitting down all fucking day, every day, for the last two weeks.

You see, while I'm home I either watch TV or fiddle around on this piece-of-junk computer. While I'm work I'm either sitting in my truck, driving around, or sitting in a sound booth doing crap. Sure, there are those occasional breaks of standing Foley work and the PA run-around-all-day jobs, but it's been a while since I've had a PA position.

Okay, so I can play with my dogs, right? Well, given their slow decline back into being feral, that becomes a health-risk unto itself, and never lasts long. Combined with the fact that I no longer live near open desert or out-of-the-way canyons, I can't even hike with them anymore.

So what do I do? Well, like I said, TV and computer. Which means I do absolutely nothing productive. Oh, sure, I write, but I haven't been able to type anything significant as of late, and the imagination has been reeling... probably due to a combination of sitting all day, bad diet, complete lack of exercise, and smoking a pack of cigarettes every day. By the way, the previous blog was an attempt at "character-building" for a story that clearly went awry. But, hey, at least now I'm trying.

I'm just sick of sitting down.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The One Who Wasn’t There

Only one person in her entire life had ever told her that he knew who she really was with any conviction. Sure, her parents had said that very thing to her, but like the man in question, they, too, were wrong.

Her life, like many, was guided almost solely by her dreams. But her dreams changed. Every night, in fact. The similarities they often retained were still filled with subtle differences. Subtle changes, as if her dreams were the starry nights themselves. So how, with any conviction, could anyone possibly know her?

Where she lived has changed over the years. Over and over. Yet, in a manner as ironic as it is apt, only once has she consciously and deliberately picked the place she would make her home. The others, chosen for her. Worse, the one place she did choose quickly revealed itself as a mistake.

She had a plan in life, to be sure. And while her dreams have always remained, she knows now that she must ignore them. Failure has followed her for too long. Failure, following a person, following dreams. Perhaps failure is following the dreams, and not the person, who is merely in the way. For that, she can only hope.

Taking a deep breath, she glances one last time at the perceived light at the end of the tunnel. Closing her eyes, she turns around, and steps back into the neverending darkness from which she came.

Her dreams won't mind, for she will revisit them each and every night until she dies. Her dreams won't mind. After all, she was never even there. How could anyone have possibly known her?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Musicians You Should Be Listening To, but Probably Aren’t

Oh, yes, believe it or not, there is great music that isn't permeating your Top 40 stations. In fact (well, in opinion), there is music far better than what you hear on your Top 40 stations. Top 40, as we all know, but may not admit, is full of crap that is so heavily market-oriented, pretty much everyone without an individual thought in their mind buys in to it.

Oh, yes, I'm talking about you emo, hip-hop, post-alternative rock-listening yahoos.

Now that I'm done insulting you, I humbly suggest you check out the following bands/artists:

Guster. Yep, that's right, I'm touting the band who is currently selected as my "MySpace song." And, yep, I'm touting a post-alternative band. Hailing from Boston, they sound nothing like Aerosmith, and that's probably a good thing as Aerosmith has done little noteworthy since, oh, Reagan.

Minnie Driver. Yes, THAT Minnie Driver. Impressively adept at American Folk, her fantastic lyrics, sometimes haunting voice (I know, I can't believe it either), and her English flair bring a refreshing atmosphere to the genre.

Greg Laswell. I've talked about him before. Listen to him. He's fantastic. While a little depressive, he's not nearly the narrow-trick that the sometimes great, sometiems not, Alexi Murdoch is, and he lacks the quickly-mundane monotony of Peter Bradley Adams (who should reform eastmountainsouth, by the way). His suprising cover of "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" is one of the recent WTFs (in a good way) to embrace music in recent years.

Brandi Carlile. Hmm... how to explain her? Okay, take Sarah McLachlan (who is undeniably on her game), but remove the self-indulgence, and add more of a traditional-rock flair and a tad of country-western. Fantastic stuff.

There are more, of course, but I'm getting ready to watch a Chargers game. I'm always on the lookout for new music, so if you have any suggestions, feel free to post them.

Vote Clint Eastwood, whose musical tastes I have no clue about.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Bad Drivers II: What Would Jesus Do?

We've all seen them... those cars with those Jesus fish on the back. Yes, some swear by them, some make fun of them, but I'm just here to answer the WWJD question. Well, sort of...

Here's what he wouldn't do:

Drive slowly in the passing/fast lane so others have to pass dangerously on the left.

Change lanes or slow for a turn without using a signal.

Speed up to match your passing speed just to be ignorantly annoying.

Ride your bumper.

Brake before using a turn signal.

Talk on a cell phone while driving.

Blast loud, obnoxious music.

Toss a cigarette butt out the sunroof so it hits the following motorist's windshield.

Attempt to beat a yellow light by shifting to the left lane and speeding up, then deciding against it and slamming on the brakes, only to realize a right turn was required and attempting to back up against oncoming traffic so as to get around the car that was passed for the attempt to beat the yellow light, and then fucking up traffic by having to wait for the right lane to clear because your dumb ass actually wanted to make a right turn.

The moral of the story: Jeff 1:1 - If you're going to be a hypocrite, don't advertise it.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Pointless Musings Beginning with "S"

Let's see... things I've noticed and things that have happened recently beginning with the letter "S." Hmm... don't know why I feel compelled to write about this, but it probably has something to do with a recent discussion of Sesame Street.

A squirrel came up to me and my cat the other day. Brushed against us through the window screen. Ironically, my cat's name is Sagremor.

There's a Sunset Beach in North Carolina. Now, while I haven't physically seen how the beach is laid out (perhaps there's an inlet that faces West or some such feature), I wonder why the city isn't called "Sunrise Beach." It is, after all, on the East Coast.

I love strawberries; hate strawberry flavoring. Conversely, I hate cherries; love cherry flavoring.

Sugarfree gum gives me a headache. Not sure why.

If you're making a short film or an independent feature, consider hiring the sound guys from NorthStar Post & Sound in Wilmington, North Carolina. Especially if you need Foley or ADR work. Do it.

The term "soldier" refers to those in the Army. Sailors, Marines, and Airmen do not refer to themselves or each other as soldiers. So fucking stop it.

You all suck. Vote for Clint Eastwood. A SAG member.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Screwing Up the Middle East

There is little doubt in anyone's mind that our current administration is screwing up overall relations with the nations of the Middle East. We are, after all, engaged in two wars there (one popularly supported, one not), are threatening another, and pretending to ignore the calls of several other regional states to mind our own business.

There is also little doubt that these operations are less the result of "spreading freedom" than they are of spreading American capitalism. Of course, while I don't necessarily disagree with the idea of spreading American capitalism (hey, I'm a capitalist), I do disagree with the idea of trying to do it under false pretense.

All of the problems and issues implied above can easily be blamed on our so-called "conservatives" in government, a debated fact our so-called "liberals" in government do not hesitate to point out during the current campaign season. But do the liberals have the answer to the problems in/with the Middle East? Hardly. In fact, I'd say they could only make matters worse.

Now, before you start labeling me a neo-con asshole, keep in mind that I'm not a huge fan of current foreign policy either... I'm just trying to point out some glaring probabilities that everyone seems to want to ignore.

First, the Democrats (a.k.a. the liberals) want to pull out of Iraq. Dumb idea. Yes, going in was a stupid idea in the first place and should have been done (if at all) immediately after the first Gulf War. But pulling out now? Well, despite trying to tout "save our soldiers," such an action will merely create a power vacuum that will undoubtedly cause short-term chaos in an already chaotic region. And guess what short-term chaos always leads to in that part of the world? That's right, long-term chaos.

Second, in a thinly-veiled attempt to force the Bush administration to pull out of Iraq, the liberals went ahead and declared the Turkish government (one of our main allies over there) as genocidal. For what, you might ask? Well, for actions that occurred nearly a century ago in World War I. Not only that, they were actions committed by Turkey when Turkey was controlled by a completely different government. This would be like China blaming the United States for actions that occurred in America prior to 1776. Fair? Hardly. In fact, it's morally, politically, and futilely stupid. But, hey, the Democrats are trying to make a point.

So I pose this question: is this really the direction we want to go? I would hope you say no, but given the relative uneducated political viewpoints of America en masse, you're probably jumping all over that bandwagon.

With certainty, I can say the Democrats are wrong in how they want to approach the Middle East. With equal certainty, I can say the Republicans are wrong with how they are currently approaching the Middle East. So what do we do?

One option is to leave it all alone. Sure, we can do that, but that only contributes to the aforementioned power vacuum, and for "leaving it alone" to be successful, other world powers such as Russia would have to "leave it alone" as well. Will that happen? Um, no.

Another option is to reopen relations with Iran. Iran, a surprisingly stable government enjoying said stability more or less since they overthrew the US-friendly government back in the late-Carter, early-Reagan days. Yet that appears to not be a possiblity, what with Iran being a member of the "Axis of Evil." Don't get me started on that...

I don't pretend to know the answers, but I do think I know what isn't going to work, and just about everything I've heard or read from both sides of our government isn't going to work. And until we realize that Arab Muslims don't want a government that separates church from state, nothing we come up with is going to work at all.

Until then, we're just going to keep screwing things up.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Where Did the Road Go?

The great escape. That's what the road was to people in generations past. Just themselves, their car, and the road. That black streak that disappeared around the bend, over the next rise, or into the horizon. A perfect quiet, noisy in that way that doesn't bother you... four pieces of rubber on the pavement rolling faster than the eye can see; wind caressing the lines of your ride; the radio blasting your favorite classic rock song.

Sometimes, you'd be the only car in sight. Driving through desert, trees, fields of corn or wheat, or into the night where the moon and your headlights are the only three points of light you see, or notice.

An escape. No problems, save for watching a red needle approaching a malicious "E," or the occasional resistance from an engine that might need a little tuning. But everything else... money, job, school, family... just disappears behind your rear bumper like a hitchhiker you weren't sure you should pick up. It's just you and the road, and things are perfect.

But, look around today. Too many people who shouldn't have licenses have them. Too many people who shouldn't have cars have them. And the road is a place to fear. No longer a calming means of travel, it's been replaced by assholes blasting music too loudly, near-blind or inconsiderate drivers cutting you off, and never-ending construction zones manned by construction workers who don't seem to give a shit. No longer a place to escape to, but one to escape from.

Like life, like dreams... where did the road go?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Off the Wagon... Again

I hate smoking. Seriously. I hate the occasional nicotine-tobacco-tar-induced headaches. I hate the smell it leaves on clothes and furniture. I hate the health risk. I hate the cost. I just hate smoking.

Which is probably why I started again last Monday.

Yeah, that didn't make any sense, and as I'm deliriously tired from an insane month, don't expect any sense from tonight's boredom-inspired writing.

Anyway... so I headed down to Atlanta last Sunday night in order to work on a television show. When I got there, I noticed that I was dangerously low on nicorette, my primary crutch when I attempt to quit. As I chewed my second-to-last piece, I did the respectable, sensible thing.

Yes, I went to the nearest store to buy more gum. No, wait... like a fucking moron, I bummed a cigarette off of my friend Brad. Why? I don't know. Because I'm a fucking moron.

Of course, I can always use the excuse "but all people on set smoke" (see: "but all soldiers smoke" for my military excuse), but the fact of the matter is I just felt like it. Maybe I just felt like it because I usually hate Atlanta (I loved it this time) and needed some edge off, but it's probably just because I'm a fucking moron.

Since Christmas Eve of 2005 I've been a non-smoker for a total of 17 months and even managed to ditch the nicorette during that time, but I can't seem to shake the relapses. Oddly enough, those relapses always seem to occur when I work a reality TV show.

Anyone have any suggestions (other than quit working reality TV shows)? Send them my way ASAP.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Fall 2007 Television Season: a Quick Review

It's here, the new season, and there are some nice surprises lurking about the network primetime slots. Unfortunately, some of those surprises are bad ones.

The stalwarts are back, of course. And those who read this blog know I'm most likely referring to (and I am) shows like Prison Break, House, and Heroes (even though I'm not as impressed with Heroes as many of you are).

And then there's the newbies. Admittedly, I tend to stay away from ABC and CBS, with the exception of Lost and The Unit (a recent addition to my DVR list... it's gotten much, much better since the first season), but I decided to give a couple of new shows a try.

The ABC show I gave a whirl was Cavemen. I couldn't help it. My curiosity overcame my better judgement, and combined with the fact that I'm a fan of those GEICO commercials, I gave it a look... for all of four minutes. Stay the Hell away from this one, people. I'm not joking.

On CBS I decided to look into Moonlight. Good concept, similar to the classic (and ABC's piss-poor remake) Nightstalker, but pretty bad execution. The lead actor has a certain presence about him, but the rest of the cast is horrible. That's H.O.R.R.I.B.L.E. I'll give this one another go this weekend, but if there's no improvement past the pilot, it's off the "To Do" list.

The odd surprise this season is NBC. Now, I won't go into too much detail, but so far, I've added the near-great new shows Life and Journeyman to the list. Both are outstanding. I'm also watching Chuck, and while there's a certain charm to it, I'm still not entirely convinced. Still, I dig Adam Baldwin, so will give this another couple of weeks. Disappointing is the heavily-hyped Bionic Woman remake, helmed (and acted) by some of the Battlestar Galactica types, the show is an utter mess. Between the pilot and the second show there were already plot holes and sudden "characterization" changes. Expected from the BSG crew, the only thing Bionic Woman is convincing me of is that Katee Sackhoff (a decent actress) is utterly incapable of pulling off the "tough chick" role.

On Fox, the only thing I've watched is K-Ville, which despite a dull pilot, improves a little bit each week. At the rate it's going, it'll be a great show by the end of the season, or cancelled (which I'm betting on).

Anyway, I'm still pissed NBC pulled The Black Donnellys earlier this year, so I'm off to find the DVDs.

Vote Eastwood.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The United States Air Force: a Parasite Organization

Before I get started on my well-researched rant, I just want to state that I don't think the men and women of the USAF are jerks, pansies, or parasites. Far from. They are as good as any other member of our armed forces, ready when we need them, willing when we ask them, and able when we send them.

But...

The USAF itself is a large waste of money.

First point: simply analyze our air power in our various armed forces. The Army has the largest "air presence" of any service. The Navy has their own air superiority, airlift, and strike capabilities. The Marine Corps has their own airlift, strike, and close air-support capabilities. The Air Force has all of that, plus strategic air. All this means that the people of the United States are essentially paying for four air forces, each with overlapping and oft-conflicting roles. Um... why? Politics, "tradition," and politics.

Second point: While the Navy and Marine Corps absolutely need their own air support (whether inherent to their services or provided by the air force), so does the Army. So why did the DoD arbitrarily decide that the Department of the Navy get to keep its aviation assets, while the Department of the Army did not? Politics, "tradition," and politics.

Given the current nature of DoD organization and budget, it's clear that the government wants to spend as little as possible on how the military is structured and operated. In a natural progression, DoD should streamline commands, eliminate flag positions, and put asset control in as few pots as possible (notice I wrote asset control, not the assets themselves). Which, obviously, would lead to the Army and Navy controlling their own air support. Well, like I said, the Navy does it, why not the Army?

Simply put, the United States Air Force would run much more efficiently should it "devolve" back into the Army Air Force. Army commanders would have their own air superiority, airlift, and close air support aircraft to use on pertinent missions, instead of having to ask and coordinate with the USAF. I mean, why does the USAF control tactical airlift, anyway? They don't need it for themselves on a large scale. But guess who does? That's right, the Army.

It's also common knowledge that the USAF (the institution, mind you, not its individual pilots) doesn't really care about its legally mandated CAS (close air support) mission. Why? Well, because they don't need it for themselves. But guess who does?

Anyway, this can of worms can be opened much wider, but the bottom line is that the USAF should either assume control of ALL air assets in the DoD (which still leaves the problem of "asking" and coordinating), or should collapse itself back into the Army, with the Air Force's United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) component (formerly known as Strategic Air Command - SAC) shifting entirely to Navy control.

This would cut many middlemen out, streamline top-down command and communications, and allow for closer operational training between the various arms.

I know a whole hell of a lot of people will disagree with me, but can you really give me any advantages that can trump saving money? Other than "tradition" and politics, of course.

Monday, October 1, 2007

San Diego Sports Nightmares

The San Diego Padres lost their last two regular-season games to the Brewers, leaving them in a tie for the Wild Card with rival team Colorado. Jake Peavy has to pitch a tie-breaker. Fucking wonderful.

The San Diego Chargers lost to their first divisional opponent, the Kansas City Chiefs, and are now last place in their division at 1-3. Ain't it grand?

Making Peavy pitch the tie-breaker means Peavy will only pitch once in the Wild Card series. Fucking wonderful.

To make matters worse, the Chargers are in last place BEHIND one of the worst teams in the league: the Oakland Raiders (2-2). Ain't it grand?

Still, the Padres have hope. All they have to do is win the tie-breaker and their season will continue for at least three more games.

The Chargers, however, have officially hit "disappointment." 13-3 is the best they can possibly finish, but with Norv Turner running the show, I doubt the Chargers will even get to 10-6. A friend of mine from Oceanside yelled "Cam Cameron, Cam Cameron" at me earlier this year, but he's 0-4. I guess we should've stuck with Wade Phillips, eh?

On a slightly brighter note, LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for more yards in the loss to the Chiefs than he had in the previous three games combined.

On a slightly dimmer note, Philip Rivers is, as I suggested in my last Chargers blog, looking more and more like a college quarterback. This can be fixed, and could probably be fixed by Norv Turner the Offensive Coordinator, but I'm betting against it being fixed by Norv Turner the Head Coach.

A.J. Smith, what are you going to do?

I'm rambling, I know, but I'm upset. The Chargers couldn't possibly have gotten this bad in one off-season. Still, I've stuck with my team since Dan Fouts-to-Wes Chandler, and nothing's going to change that.

Ah, well... here's hoping the Padres win.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Bad Drivers I: The Nervous Old Woman

In this series of stereotypical, racist, sexist, and ageist blogs, I will examine the bane of all of those mentally and physically competent drivers who man the roads: bad drivers.

We all know who they are; we all know where they are; we all know what they are. Bastards with a driver's license.

First up: the nervous old woman.

Imagine yourself enjoying a nice drive through the country, on an old, unassuming road with a 55 mile-per-hour speed limit. Few people are on the road, things are flowing smoothly. And then you see it. Off in the distance, an old, 80s-era K-car putt-putt-puttering its way in the same direction of travel as yourself.

You gain on it quickly, of course, as it seems to be only averaging 40 MPH, while you, not one to obey every law to the letter, travel about 60 to 62 MPH. As you close, you think you see a driver, but aren't sure. The nearer you get, the more it seems like all you see is a steering wheel with a pair of hands on it. But then, the reveal: a gray poof of hair just level with the steering wheel. Oh, shit... it's an old woman.

Annoyed, you slow down to 40 to maintain speed, waiting your chance to pass as oncoming traffic makes its way by. Then you slow down to 37, then speed up to 42, then back down to 35, then up to 45. Finally, irritated beyond all belief, you attempt to pass.

But...

The old hag freaks out and starts swerving nervously, frighteningly. You hesitate in your attempt, as you fear she might swerve into you. You curse your bad luck... and try again.

This time, she holds fairly still, but for some odd reason, accelerates to match your speed, as if she's somehow following you. Oncoming semi... fuck... you slow down, get behind the bitch, and wait for a two-lane road.

We've all been there; I was just there a couple of hours ago.

Solution: mandatory full driver's tests every renewal period for all drivers over 65. Then, after 75, mandatory full driver's tests every year.

The old hag might have a problem with this, of course, but I don't care. I'm self-centric.

Have a nice day, and vote for Clint Eastwood... who is old enough to need annual driving tests.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Recombinant Sci-Fi: One New Story from Many Old Ideas

A while ago I posted a blog concerning screenplay ideas. After receiving absolutely no help from you, my so-called loyal readers, I narrowed my choices down to two.

The first, a half-fiction, half-fact World War II script, I had been working on for quite some time. While the actual screenplay portion of it has never been started, the research portion of it is almost complete, and I've a veritable goldmine of plot and action. Still, the time didn't seem quite right to hit this one full speed.

So, I picked the second... a sci-fi horror that I had mentioned in the previous blog, but heavily, heavily modified. So heavily modified, in fact, it no longer encompasses the single project, but is now a combination of three projects I had started, as well as three existing movies you've no doubt all seen.

Anyway, it's called The Gate, and it's coming together nicely. I don't want to give anything away, but let's just say the overall premise is another combination of ideas... this one of Aliens and Doom (don't ask).

As I began writing the first draft months ago, I realized that the story, though attempting to be profound, lacked a lot of what makes a good science fiction movie (namely, pacing and action), so I had to take a step back and look at it from a different angle. And, finally, I think I found it.

Basically, I took two other treatments I started (one an obvious will-never-get-made Star Trek treatment and the other a quasi-wannabe-Battlestar Galactica-esque story) and merged them into The Gate. In addition, I took heavy inspiration from Halo, Starship Troopers (the book, actually), and even Return of the Jedi.

Well, I only mention Halo and Starship Troopers because any reader of my script will likely make those connections, mainly due to the likelihood that any reader of my script probably won't have any military experience, which is where the true inspiration came from.

What I am left with is four stories in one. One of the male protagonist, one of the female protagonist, one of the sci-fi/horror/moral aspect, and one of the sci-fi/war aspect. Which, hopefully, will give me plenty to fill 120 to 150 pages of script.

How I decided upon this, I'll never really know. Writing is such a funny game to play.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

One Win, Two Loss-Inspired Pointless Musings

The Chargers certainly looked better this game, even though they still lost. Run offense and run defense are still no-shows.

Has Hollywood lost the ability to film actually passenger airplanes for movies? Or do producers and directors really think that expensive computer-generated images convince the audiences that they're seeing a real airplane?

Can you guess the big missing piece of the Chargers defense? He wore 59, and his name is Donnie Edwards. Despite the presence of Jamal Williams and Marlon McCree, there is no true leader on the Chargers defense. Williams seems more of the engine type, not the driver, and McCree hasn't been a Charger long enough. I say sign Junior Seau back from the Patriots and let him groom someone for two years.

Why isn't Jordanna Brewster in more movies?

Anybody else notice that Donnie Wahlberg is a better actor than Mark Wahlberg? Not that Mark Wahlberg sucks, but Donnie is just better.

I'm getting a lot of "an Army Marine Corps is a bad idea" messages, but to this date, not one single person has offered a specific, legitimate reason why. Many offer no reasons at all.

I love the movie Munich. Love it. That being stated, the ending was rather odd, and Spielberg did history and his film's protagonist a great disservice by not depicting the misidentified Arab that was killed by the Mossad operation in real life.

I haven't seen a film in a theater for weeks. I'm having withdrawals.

I ran out of Nicorette gum. I'm having withdrawals.

I haven't had a drop of alcohol in weeks. I'm not having withdrawals.

Vote Clint Eastwood in '08.

Friday, September 21, 2007

United States Marine Corps, Department of the Army

A year or so ago, I posted a blog that incensed a few Marines. In it, I basically posited that the United States Marine Corps was a waste of money as long as it remained in the Department of the Navy. (You can read it here.)

Today, I restate that fact (not opinion, mind you... fact): maintaining the USMC outside of the Department of the Army is a huge waste of money. Again, what we have is essentially two raised armies, each with their own training and logistics systems. That alone drives the cost of maintaining 13 active-duty divisions much, much higher than it would be otherwise.

Anyway, I'm not going to fully reiterate the original blog now, but I am going to point out some oft-skewed and sometimes hard to find facts (not opinions, mind you... facts) concerning the United States Marine Corps and the United States Army.

1. In World War I, when the United States Army's 2nd Infantry Division was formed, it was partially comprised of a Marine brigade. On top of that, two of the 2nd Infantry Division's commanders during that war were Marine officers: Major General John Lejeune (for whom Camp Lejeune is named) and Major General Charles Doyen.

Score one for an Army/Marine combination.

2. In World War II, when the Marine Corps was finally authorized permanent divisions (they wound up raising six for the war, and currently maintain three active duty and one reserve division), they used the Army division as their blueprint.

Score two for an Army/Marine combination.

3. Also in World War II, as the Marine Corps continued to develop and perfect amphibious assault operations (influenced by British ideas and equipment), they relied on the Army to develop and perfect amphibious resupply operations. This was accomplished by the Army in the form of the Army's Amphibious Training Center and the Engineer Amphibian Brigades (later, Engineer Special Brigades). The doctrines formulated by the ATC and EABs serve as the basis for modern USMC resupply doctrine.

Score three for an Army/Marine combination.

4. Following World War II, the Marine Corps slowly reorganized into Marine Expeditionary Forces (MEFs). The three active MEFs in the Marine Corps are organized as such: a ground division, an aircraft wing, and a logistics group. This is identical to the overall organization of the Army in World War II, when the Army consisted of Army Ground Forces, Army Air Forces, and Army Service Forces.

Score four for an Army/Marine combination.

5. The only reason the Marine Corps exists as a Navy organization is due to the fact that, during the American Revolution, General George Washington didn't want to deplete his manpower reserves by supplying marines from the Army.

I'd say score five, but that point was more for trivia value than supporting my argument.

As of this writing, I have only heard one solid argument for maintaining the Marine Corps in the Department of the Navy. The argument is that the Department of the Navy isn't subject to the Army's thinking that "smaller is better," and can maintain as many Marine Divisions as it so chooses.

Among the other arguments I've heard: the Marines have a different mission (not entirely true); the Marines are organized to fight a different kind of war (not true); the Marines need to be trained and supplied by the organization that supports them during war (true, but the Marines are much more a land-based service today than they ever were); the Marines have more difficult and more effective training (arguably true, but the Army needs to address their own training problems anyway, so this is essentially moot); the Marines are an "expeditionary" force (true, but so is the Army).

There have been other arguments, ranging from the completely defeatist ("that's just stupid") to the downright moronic ("where would we put the Marine barracks?").

By the way, there's an irony to the sole solid argument I mentioned earlier: I came up with it myself.

Vote for Clint Eastwood, who'd probably like us to save money in our military establishment.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Iran: the White Elephant that Probably Shouldn’t Be

Disclaimer: this blog is, admittedly, nearly 100% conjecture on my part. Although parts of it are supported by fact, much of it isn't, and my conclusions can just as easily be dead wrong as they could be absolutely right.

Within the past couple of days, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad requested permission to visit Ground Zero in New York City. His request was denied, with given reasons ranging from "security risk" to, most alarmingly, "why?"

Well, despite the probability that Iran does harbor terrorists (something our state department rather judiciously reminds us of), the man likely wanted to pay his respects to a tragedy that even his country felt was an extreme response to so-called American imperialism. After all, a little known fact of Iran is that damn-near the entire country held a prayer vigil for the victims of 9/11.

Now, before I proceed, I am most certainly not claiming that Iran is our friend. However, I am claiming that Iran may not be the "next significant enemy" of the United States. Remember, at several points in the last 100 years, Iran has been an ally. Of course, they have also been an enemy.

Here are some quick historical snippets:

1. In the early 20th Century, Iran's independence was constantly interfered with by the British and Russian Empires. The withdrawal of Russia due to the rise of the Soviets left Britain in a position to try to strong-arm Iran single-handedly. Result: anti-British sentiment.

2. In World War II, supposedly fearful of Iranian support to the Axis, Britain and the Soviet Union invaded Iran. Result: anti-British and anti-Soviet sentiment. Another odd result of this was that Iran's political system would be opened a bit, and political parties and public elections would come into being.

3. 1953, the CIA sponsors a coup. Already in a confusing state of pro-West, anti-West, this doesn't help things much. The Shah, having been ousted a couple of years before, is back in power, albeit this time as a virtual puppet of western governments. Result: anti-US sentiment.

4. 1979, the Ayatollah ousts the Shah and the Islamic Republic of Iran is formed. During the so-called revolution, Americans were taken hostage, causing an official break in diplomatic ties and anti-Iran sentiments in the United States. Result: more anti-US sentiment.

5. In the 1980s, Iraq invaded Iran. For whatever reason (likely the new anti-Iran sentiment), the United States provides support to Iraq. Result: other than the obvious irony, even more anti-US sentiment.

6. The 1990s, in a somewhat unexpected and surprising gesture, Iran begins to promote what it calls an "alternative thought" movement, and advocates official tolerance for diversity in culture and politics. Iran somehow becomes a Middle-East equivalent of the United States in terms of having an open liberal versus conservative government (though quite a bit more violent than ours). Result: US culture starts sneaking into Iran on a grand scale, with mixed results, although it can be argued that the country lessened its anti-US sentiment.

7. 2001, Iran supports the anti-Taliban fight in Afghanistan. Result: the possibility of the US and Iran officially reopening diplomatic ties seems real.

8. 2002, Iran sells weapons to the Palestinians. Result: Bush, Jr., declares Iran part of the ridiculously monikored "Axis of Evil."

And here we are, still confused about what the Hell to do with Iran. Bush, it seems, wants to invade. Why? Well, why not? Others (including Condoleezza Rice), it seems, want to reopen diplomatic ties. Why? Well, why not?

I don't have any answers, I know, nor do I have any real theories. I do know that since the Ayatollah's death, Iran hasn't made any significant statements claiming that the United States is the pop-culture whore of the world, implying that they don't really believe that anymore (or even care). And I do know that much of our relations with countries in the Middle-East are dictated by those Middle-Eastern countries' relations with Israel.

Basically, and this may seem from left field, until the Israel-Arab situation is dealt with once and for all, we're probably going to remain official enemies with Iran. And that's just plain stupid. After all, we're technically friends with both Taiwan and China, right? Not to mention Israel and Lebanon.

There's an answer to this, I swear, and it probably lies in agnostic logic. Good luck finding any of that in world government.

Vote for Clint Eastwood, who probably would like an Iranian ambassador in Washington, D.C.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Insignificant Things I Wish I Could Change Anyway

There are many, many things about the world I wish I could change. War, famine, disease, deforestation, etc. But all of these are really important aspects of our world that probably most, if not all, of us wish we could change. And, since I'm in a light-hearted mood this fine evening (despite my Chargers getting spanked last night), I decided to talk about tiny, insignificant things that really make no worldy difference to anyone... and how I stay up at night wishing I could change them.

1. Chrysler being owned by a non-American company. That's just wrong to me somehow.

2. The Brewers being in the National League in Major League Baseball - seriously, why does the NL have 16 teams (two divisions with 5 teams and one division with 6) and the AL have 14 (two divisions with 5 teams and one division with 4). DOES THAT MAKE ANY SENSE TO ANYONE?

3. The 11th Airborne Division being inactive. We need a bigger army anyway, so bring it back. I mean, how much better is an airborne division called "The Angels" than an airborne division called "All-American?"

4. Japanese characters in Hollywood movies portrayed by Koreans and Chinese. It's not that I don't mind when actors play races that they are not, it's just that I know Hollywood just thinks nobody notices.

5. The NFL Cardinals being in Arizona; the Colts being in Indianapolis; the Rams being in St. Louis; the Texans being in Houston. I say move the Cardinals back to St. Louis so the football team and baseball teams match; move the Colts back to Baltimore since that area actually has horse races; move the Rams back to Los Angeles; move the Texans to San Antonio and bring back the Houston Oilers; move the Ravens to somewhere in Virginia (to keep with the Edgar Allan Poe motif); give Indianapolis and Phoenix new expansion teams.

6. The Marines being a part of the Navy and not a part of the Army. It's stupid, it's expensive, and it's stupid. Tradition be damned.

7. American cars driving on the right side of the road. Wouldn't it be much safer if we could park on the side of the road and open the driver's-side door without worrying about getting hit by oncoming traffic?

8. The Bible referring to me as God and not by my proper name. This one REALLY pisses me off. And not mentioning my prowess in the haystack when I boned Mary. Believe me, there was no virgin about it.

9. The Clippers being in Los Angeles. Move them back to San Diego and put an NHL expansion team there, as well.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The San Diego Chargers: Warning Signs

I'm writing this during the fourth quarter of a proper ass-kicking by the New England Patriots. Seriously, there is no question who the better team is. All complaints from last year's divisional playoff game must cease (and stay ceased unless somehow the Patriots and the Chargers meet in the playoffs this year).

I was worried this offseason that the Chargers had shot themselves in the foot with the whole coach-GM debacle. I remained worried about it during the game with the Bears, which, despite being a win, was as sloppy as a win could be. And now... I'm absolutely terrified.

Watching tonight's game it's crystal clear now that the Chargers are not the disciplined team they were last year, or any year under their previous head coach, the oft-maligned Marty Schottenheimer. Say what you will, the man was a disciplinarian, and A.J. Smith, the Chargers' general manager, never gave the man the credit he deserved.

Well, here it is (and no, my tune's not changing... just read my Chargers blog from last year):

The Chargers owe their resurgence as an elite team to four people. Two of them are players, one is a coach, and, yes, the other is A.J. Smith.

The coach, in case you're wondering, is obviously not Norv Turner (who has historically stunk as a head coach), but Marty Schottenheimer himself. The players are LaDainian Tomlinson (naturally) and Drew Brees. Notice something? Yes, that's right, two of these people are no longer with the Chargers... they were forced out by A.J. Smith.

Smith is, to give proper due, a player-personnel genius. You can't argue with his draft picks. You just can't. Even Philip Rivers, who this year seems lost in the NFL so far. But, the man is a dictator, and it's his way or the highway. If you don't do things his way, you're gone. The problem here is that Mr. Smith is not a coach. Marty Schottenheimer was a coach.

I've never been a huge Schottenheimer fan. I'm on the "he's too conservative" bandwagon, and despite the leaps and bounds he made last year to shed that perception, he's still too conservative. That being stated, I've never been a Norv Turner-as-head coach fan at all. Great offensive coordinator? Yes. Good head coach? Hardly. He's been handed the keys to what is probably the most talented team in football, and he couldn't even make the Patriots break a sweat.

Schottenheimer, and let me make this perfectly transparent, SHOULD HAVE BEEN ALLOWED TO COACH ONE MORE SEASON. With one season of "Marty-ball is dead" under his belt, who knows what he would have done with the team this year? Not only that, with both Cam Cameron and Wade Phillips gone to their own head coaching gigs, Marty could have proven to A.J. that he is, after all, a great coach (perhaps that's one reason A.J. didn't let him stay... A.J. didn't want to afford someone he can't stand the chance to prove himself).

Smith, to this point, has been hailed as a genius. This year, however, I think he's about to be brought back down to just being hailed as a good general manager.

Brees is gone, replaced by Rivers. Brees managed to excel with a new team and a new system last year. Rivers managed to excel with a team built around its running back. Both QBs are struggling so far, but Brees is the one who has already shown that he can overcome adversity. Rivers has done no such thing.

Schottenheimer is gone, replaced by Rivers. Marty managed to turn around a crap team and turn it into an elite one. Not only that, he's done it before. Turner has run every team he's ever had into the ground.

Is Smith the problem? Probably, but even I have to admit that I'd hate to see him go. What Smith needs to do is find a head coach that inspires players to work hard and not make mistakes. Norv Turner is not that man.

If the Chargers aren't 6-2 by the midpoint of the season, I'm going to start crying every Sunday, because that would be enough evidence that the Chargers, who were thought to be in their Super Bowl window, are now simply, in fact, rebuilding once again.

Vote for Clint Eastwood. Even though he directed that Boston-based movie, Mystic River, I'm sure he wants a California team to take the Lombardi trophy this year.

Irreview, Book Review: The Nutshell Technique

I have, to date, read well over two dozen books on screenwriting and its related mediums (theatre, specifically).  While most - if not all -...