I achieved a fitness goal without Facebook

Today is March 29. Judgment day.

Rewind to November, me and some fellows in the perpetually-chubby club decided to have a contest: Whoever can lose the most weight from Dec 1 to April 1 (was since revised) wins money. $50 /person with 5 people provides a meager $200 incentive provided the participant is willing to endure the temptation of, well, avoiding temptation. Today, I’m writing to share (brag) about winning.

I started on Dec 1 at 229 lovingly pounds and am typing, with great agility and alacrity might I add, at 182.6 lbs, close to 50lbs in 4 months.

I can’t help but notice all the fitness check-ins, the posts about leg day, or the easily forgotten motivational tropes. Listen, dude, no one cares that you lift your legs. In fact, no one will probably read this blog, so it’s probably just a cathartic, albeit narcissistic, process. At least I recognize the “look at me” approach that is the fitness subculture. Anyway, for those looking for tips in how I succeeded, here goes.

Lose It!

Prior to the competition, I had dabbled in downloading a calorie counting app. A friend had one, and he seemed successful in dropping real pounds. I always have been someone to work out. And before I tell you about how this app applies to my success, I must provide a little background.

I love beer, pizza, chips, soda, liquor, bacon, beef, chicken, and basically every iteration of the potato. Food I dislike to the point of gagging (trust me, I’ve tried): just about everything healthy. I don’t like lettuce, cabbage, carrots, etc. I think you see the disparity here. Anyway, it’s difficult for my palette and metabolism to work together in a way that allows for me to be smaller. Insert the calorie counter.

The Lose It app, if used correctly, makes you track every piece of food that enters your mouth. You quickly learn that one cookie (in all of its ooey, gooey deliciousness) will not be worth the emaciated feeling you’ll leave yourself with versus eating less calorie dense foods. Also, it gives you a daily allotment alongside a fitness goal. Say I start at 229 and want to lose 2lbs a week, the max the app allows, it will give you the number of calories you can. After each weigh in, and I weighed in about twice a week, the app would adjust since your resting metabolic rate….blah blah blah….you’re not as fat so you don’t need as much food aka energy. The module is simple.

I opted for the 2 lbs/week option. I set my goal for 192. I had not been under the Mendoza line since I played football for the St. Mary Knights, a lofty goal. With full confidence, I will say the first week and, by extension, month, is the hardest. My stomach was huge, but I was throwing pebbles in it. December sucked, and I was completely sober the whole month. The first beer I drank was on New Year’s Eve.

By January, I had been in a rhythm. They say it takes about 20 some days to get oneself into a habit. It takes longer, but a month or so should get the ball rolling. For early dieters, my advice is to go on a strict, dedicated diet for at least 30 days. Afterwards, you can loosen it up a little bit. February came and the weather sucked. While I maintained, I did take a week off. I ate and caved on a few things: sweets, starchy carbs. But by February, I believe my metabolism was working far more efficiently than it ever had. I got back into it with little damage and got prepared for the final push. March simply came and went, I was in a lifestyle by this time. The following is a list of crap that I ate in any combination, all under the calorie limit, though I did go over some days (weekends).

  • Apples
  • Low Fat Yogurt
  • Strawberries
  • Whole whole bread
  • Low carb pasta
  • Greek yogurt
  • Chicken (tons and tons of chicken)
  • Potatoes
  • Pickles
  • Marinara sauce
  • Tomato sauce
  • BBQ sauce
  • Low fat mayonnaise
  • Whole wheat tortillas
  • Flour tortillas
  • Popcorn
  • Pretzels
  • Cottage cheese
  • Beef Jerky
  • Fiber One 80 cal/serving cereal
  • Skim milk
  • Corn
  • Eggs
  • Egg whites (the ones that come pre-separated)
  • Grapes
  • Ham
  • V8 Fusion
  • Miller Lite
  • Olive Oil
  • Peanut Butter
  • Rice and Sides
  • Coffee
  • Ground Turkey

I made almost every meal at home. When I did eat out, I would substitute beef for chicken and try to avoid fries. I did cheat from time to time, so don’t think this diet was held to with Amish-like adherence.

 

Fitness

Full candor:  playing football most of my life was great for working out. I don’t hate going to the gym. I just hate running and still do (being fat/chubby is a frame of mind, which will never, ever leave me). Those looking to get a trainer or join CrossFit, which I keep hearing about, go for it. I had enough background to get away sans trainer/training program. My approach was much easier.

Sidenote: we live in the Internet age. The Internet is an easily accessible network containing innumerable amounts of information on anything. Use it! Research diet and exercise. You do not need anything more than a treadmill and floor space. 

I ran. A lot. I did intervals to start, running usually about 40 minutes with 4 minutes at a quick jog and 2 minutes at a brisk walk to recover. Once that got easier, I increased the pace. Once that got too easy (and you know it’s easy when you’re not breathing like a Jabba the Hut after walking a flight of stairs), I added elliptical and stairmaster jaunts. I’d run for 30 minutes, hop on the elliptical for 20, and finish on the stairs for 10. I’d vary those three based on how my legs felt that day, and how motivated I was.

At certain portions, I’d add in weight lifting. I’d work mostly on the floor doing core exercises and push-ups. It’s enough to maintain muscle without overworking the body.

By the last month, I was in good enough shape to run about 4 -5 miles per day in a single session minus the intervals. Each week I’d dedicate a day to trying to achieve a mini goal. For example, two weeks ago I’d decided I’d run 60 minutes straight and see how far I’d get. I ended at 7.5 miles, a personal achievement.

Honestly, if you distill all of my workout regimen,  it’s just to make sure you push yourself each week. If any single work out is getting too easy, increase the difficulty. Set mini goals, set time goals, set pace goals (quicker pace also burns more calories and hence I’m allowed to eat more food!)

The main idea

I didn’t share this over Facebook every day. I realize people don’t care all that much outside of their close circles. And by February, when someone’s eating pizza in front if you, $200 means nothing. The simple truth is that you, singular, have to be motivated. You have to want to get into better shape. If you’re cheating and then complaining about results, you’re lying. Find a reason and make progress. Those reasons can be any, but it comes down to you alone. I’ll always be a fat kid at heart, and I’m going to push my work outs further, but it’s been a great payoff.

 

 

El Fin

Too good to be true? It’s because it is, stupid.

Between Twitter and Facebook, the only two social media platforms for which I pay attention, there has been incessant clamoring about Ted Thompson’s ineptitude during free agency. Why didn’t we sign [insert just about any well-known NFL veteran]?

Let me answer this question for you, and you should remind yourself of this answer every March before your knee-jerk bitchiness starts percolating through. In essence, there are three types of players in the NFL based on their contracts: Rookies, second-contract veterans, and seasoned veterans. Rookies are cheap. Second-contract guys tend to be the most expensive (depending on skill, of course), and seasoned veterans are the players who require new contracts at around a period–30 to 32 years-old–where their skills may be ready for a decline.

In an ideal situation, a team’s core talent is fulfilled using players in first and second contracts. This tells me two things: First, players on rookie contracts are playing at or above their salary, hence, they are extremely valuable to a wins per dollar spent metric. If they don’t perform to their contract, their effect on the salary cap is minimal. Second, players on second contracts with the same team have been evaluated in-house for up to four years, a significant period of time to be able to provide value judgment. General managers and coaches have the strongest sense of a player’s worth, or in business sense, management can appropriately match cost to production. When input of cost is proportionate to production, value is met. Why does this matter? The salary cap.

The salary cap is a (somewhat) rigid ceiling dictating how much money a team can spend on its players. More or less, teams must fall under the salary cap each year. For the sake of easy math, let’s make the salary cap 100. Well, remember how important Aaron Rodgers was to the Packers this year? Remember how him missing was a quick realization to fans how many wins he’s personally responsible for? That’s why he takes up 15% of the cap. OK, we’re down to 85, but we still have to sign 52 other players, some of which are playmakers like Clay Matthews. He’s on a second contract and cannot be let go. He represents a 7. Josh Sitton is one of the best guards in pro football, he’s a 4. We’re now at 26, over 1/4 through money spent but yet only 3/53 through an NFL roster. We resigned Sam Shields to a pretty big deal, so he gets a 5. Tramon Williams is in an older, yet still lucrative deal worth a 5, and T.J. Lang is a veteran on a second contract worth a 3. Don’t forget about the forgettable Morgan Burnett contract: 5. As it turns out, it’s easier to build a roster of solid players in line with the cap when you have production working on its rookie deals worth a 1 (maybe 2 for a top pick) like Eddie Lacy, Randall Cobb, Micah Hyde, Mike Neal, Casey Hayward, et al.

So Green Bay has cap room to go spend though, you say? Going into the new league year where free agency begins, the Packers had 16 unrestricted free agents. No longer could the Packers negotiate a contract where cost was equal to production, instead, the double-edged sword called the free agency markets would dictate salary (the cap number). Personally, I was OK to see B.J. Raji walk along with quite a few others. I think most fans were fine with that, too. The absurd, complete belligerence about signing big names comes now.

“SIGN STEVEN JACKSON!” — 2013

Steven Jackson stat line this past season: 12 games, 156 rushes, 542 yards, 45.2 yards/game, 3.5 average yards/carry, 0 100+ yard games, 6 TDs

What did Green Bay do? They drafted Eddie Lacy.

Eddie Lacy’s stat line this season: 15 games, 284 rushes, 1178 yards, 78.5 yards/game, 4.1 average yards/carry, 4 100+ yard games, 11 TDs

This isn’t an anomaly, aberration, or an exception to the rule. It’s a microcosm. Moreover, Jackson is being paid $12 million over 3 years. Lacy is making $3.4 million over 4. In terms of production, Lacy is clearly a better choice. In terms of value, the place where production is proportionate to cost, is not just clear, it should be revelatory. 

“Seattle signed all those players last year and they won the Super Bowl!”

Yes, they did win the Super Bowl. Yes they did sign all those players. But go back and reread the cap number examples. Who were the most dominating players on the Seahawks? Richard Sherman, Bobby Wagner, Russell Wilson (premium position/premium price). They are all on rookie contracts. Seattle could afford to spend because they didn’t yet have to spend on their own. Just wait until all of those players are to get the second contract, specifically Wilson. Additionally, veterans entering into free agency are looking for a retirement pay day. They want the contract to financially support them and their family for life. Money talks. Seattle signed Michael Bennett to a one-year contract. Cliff Avril, I believe, signed a two-year contract. Once they need to resign their core players from the draft, those free agent signings will have expired. Seattle played all season long with house money. It’s easy to gamble when you have nothing to lose.

“San Francisco has owned Green Bay the last three years.”

Yes they have, there’s no denying that. But see above: Kaepernick is producing wins above his rate of compensation. When he needs a new contract, some key pieces will have to go. Aldon Smith is still on a rookie contract. The ‘Niners are so damn good on defense precisely because they sucked so much ass for so long. Most of the defense is comprised of top round draft picks.

My thesis is thus: successful teams locate value. Copycats chase unicorns. The Saints just mortgaged their future to sign Byrd. Goodbye Jimmy Graham after next season. Washington always signs the big name in free agency. How many NFC East titles has that won? The Dolphins spent big last year, and good thing Mike Wallace lived up to…oh wait, nevermind.

When players enter free agency knowing a big pay day is coming, they are likely in the midst of or exiting their prime. They expect to be payed based on past production, and teams pay them for that. The issue, though, is that the arrow is trending flat to slightly down (or even more so). When GMs identify players of their own who are entering their prime, they are paying not only for past performance, but also ascending production. It allows for value.

And on that note, I’m going to make a prediction. Denver will struggle next year. They’ll make the playoffs, but they won’t win the Super Bowl. I don’t think they’ll even make it. Manning’s arm is dead against the top NFC teams. Seattle exploited the wobbly duck for the one worst piss poundings I’ve ever witnessed in a Super Bowl. They just signed DeMarcus Ware and Aqib Talib. Both contracts are based on prior performance and not on future production. David Bahktiari shut down Ware last year. Bahktiari makes damn near close to the rookie minimum as a 4th round pick. Ware makes a guaranteed $10 million. Once Manning retires, the most important position becomes pedestrian at best. Denver will not have money to pay anyone to make up that deficit. They will be one of the worst teams in the league very, very soon.

You do the math, dummy.

2014: The Year of the Conserv-atarian?

It’s a Thursday morning in my speech class. We had just watched the 2012 DNC and RNC speeches the prior days. We’re in the persuasive speech unit and are investigating the different propaganda techniques. After some discussion, I ask if it mattered whether or not a candidate was a likable person to be an effective executive for the United States. The answer was a resounding no. Then why do speechwriters, campaigns, and candidates themselves work tirelessly for the candidate to appear likable? Kids aren’t dumb. They understood the question—we like to like the person for whom we vote. We want to think our vote was a charitable donation to the common man, a passive and lazy pass at helping our fellow Americans despite all evidence to the contrary.

I’ve watched Michael Steele, Reince Priebus, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and others get on the soapbox and repeat the same diatribes over and over again. Socialism is bad. Free Markets work. Empower the individual. Don’t tamper with the Constitution.

Since I started voting, only a single election occurred where my vote went to the winning team—2010. In 2008, I watched Obama get elected, I also watched my dorm-dwelling peers run around in victory, blissfully unaware of the implications. I went to bed early that Tuesday night.

I ponder all of this as I continue to go to work everyday, wondering if the future generation whom I coexist with on a daily basis will take notice. Will they realize the people with a D next to their name are substantially failing? Do they even care? The answer is probably not and no, respectively. So how do we get them to take notice?

I posit that such an answer snuggles safely between logic and culture. I’m only in my first quarter-century of life experiences; however, I’ve been following politics for long enough to realize that while Republicans may have some of the right ideas for pushing our country onto further prosperity, they suck ass at advertising their brand. Politicians are brands, nothing more, nothing less. You realize this epiphany when you’re teaching propaganda techniques implemented in convention speeches and see platitudes mired in generalities combined with the subtleties of diversity, inclusion, etc. We want to like this guy; we want to like his brand, his associations. Should I buy the Romney? Or should I buy the Obama. The Romney looks (and media certainly doesn’t help) a little stiff. The Obama, on the other hand, looks much more cool and collected.

“Oh my god! Look, it’s Obama on ESPN with Stuart Scott making NCAA March Madness picks!” said the disinterested-yet-eligible-to-vote teenager.

“Dude, I was watching Jimmy Fallon and Obama was slow-jamming the news. It was hilarious,” one potential voter said to another.

These aren’t new ideas. I watched Gavin McInnes, a frequent contributor on Fox News’ late night show Red Eye, make a speech on culture at Restoration Weekend 2013 (See video below). I’ve also been a fan of Red Eye (sidenote: for those of you who are unaware, Red Eye is a Fox News show that can be best described as a charmingly low-budget panel discussion with a diverse set of personalities in a format similar to a group of people drinking at a bar. It can be both funny and intelligent but never abrasive or angry. It’s more Daily Show, less political punditry) with Greg Gutfeld. Anyway, in McInnes’ speech and his regular appearances on Red Eye, he takes on ideas like gay marriage and legalization but with a more conservative/libertarian justification.

The patriarch of this movement, though, is Andrew Breitbart (despite what his critics say said about him, he was always a mixed libertarian-conservative). He correctly pointed out in Righteous Indignation that culture permeates our subconscious. We see a likeable gay character on a show like Modern Family and we associate gay people with funny quirks. We watch Elysium and see class warfare taken to a literal level. We watch Avatar and are served a double shot of Colonialism. It’s not enough to simply wag a finger and say, “Oh, liberal Hollywood.”

 

Conservatives generally bash the arts and humanities. Conversely, liberals tend to embrace the creative disciplines. Hence, you get art that is done from a liberal lens. Further, conservative art is usually overt and unfunny. See: An American Carol. It all circles back to our tendency to push candidates and leaders who are overwhelmingly stiff and unmarketable regardless of how competent they are for the job. But it’s become guilt by association. The candidates represent the Republican brand, and the brand is damaged. It’s time to rebuild the brand.

In an interview with Breitbart.com, Gutfeld said about the arts, “[conservatives] take risks with money, but not with much else. But that’s wrong. We wrinkle our noses at things we don’t understand. Rather than just understanding it.” He continued, “Louis CK may be profane, but he’s also perceptive and honest. Alec Baldwin may be an ass, but he’s one of the finest comedic television actors in recent memory. I hate the phrase ‘open-minded,’ but we must open our minds to the creativity you otherwise might find unnerving.”

Opening up also means relaxing on social issues. I realized this when I thought about gay marriage and said to myself: I really don’t care. If you wanna be gay, go be gay. On marijuana: I don’t smoke, but it’s not my place to say you can’t in the same way no one can tell me if I want to drink a bottle of Jameson in my own home. McInnes said it best, we need to put all our eggs in one basket. So what if Chris Christie’s running mate is a “black gay midget with face tattoos,” if (subject to change since the Bridge-gate scandal) he’s the front-runner, why not throw support around the horse that can actually win the race.

Just this week, a co-founder of GOProud changed his identification to Independent. He said he couldn’t escape the bigotry of the Republican party. Also this week, a new term–at least for me–emerged on the interwebs, conservatarian. In California, the GOP is hoping to align more libertarian social values with conservative economic philosophies. It’s a marriage that, I think, can win. Besides

Republicans need their Bill come to saxophone moment

ideologues, most people aren’t fond of seeing their year-end W2, seeing how much money, their money, is not in their bank accounts, and then settling on the idea that only a small percentage of that money will be returned to them. It’s time to promote the individual. Be a party of individualism, a core tenet being the empowerment of individual freedom. Freedom includes social and economic autonomy, an idea that while promoted by the conservative brand, is often tainted by the fact that Republicans get too heavily involved in moral evangelism.

 

Anyone right-of-middle must start managing the message. They must start becoming culturally relevant and relatable. The philosophical ideas will follow. This is why Red Eye needs to not be on Fox News, but on an FXX or Comedy Central. We go there for entertainment, education is in the periphery; it’s subconscious. If the apolitical populace can see the conservative/libertarian brand as approachable the way Gutfeld and McInnes (Andy Levy included) already are, the ideology can manifest into a new electorate.

It may be a cheap trick, but Republicans need voters to want to want them.

Hills like white-striped elephants

So I’m reading ProFootballTalk’s Web site tonight, and I came across this article. It’s written by the site’s de facto Editor-in-Chief Mike Florio, whom you have seen on NBC Sports’ eponymous “Pro Football Talk.” I saw the headline “NFL officiating needs a complete overhaul” and became intrigued. “Well, of course it does,” I said to myself as I think back to all the of over-regulatory calls with the ball in flight, which tilt the momentum and general inertia of a game.

Florio is feeding off of Peter King’s article, commenting on the grading system that NFL officiating crews employ to gauge their effectiveness. As it turns out, NFL officiating crews, “obsess over their grades like a teenage girl obsesses over her Twitter followers.” Minus the valid but C-level joke, I find this to be vaguely revealing. It’s an accountability system. So what?

What Florio never mentioned, and what I couldn’t believe (but I actually can because he comes across as a sort of “Company Man” for the NFL) is how the 2013 NFL rule book is a milquetoast piece of garbage. It’s thick like Peter North; wading through it is an insurmountable task not unlike the Affordable Health Care bill. The book is far too complicated for any person (that includes lucrative laywers who referee part time, i.e. Ed Hochuli) to recall its contents while making a snap judgment.

How are we, as a fan, as a football community, not pushing this narrative? Why is Vernon Davis, a player pushing for a spot on the competition committee, proposing a rule about tackling players by the nut sack? Instead, why can’t the rules be simplified? Why can’t pass interference, late hits, helmet-to-helmet, etc. be streamlined into an easy-to-adjudicate  guide? Morgan Burnett was called for a personal foul for what looked like a fast hit, and fast hits–regardless of whether the defender’s helmet makes contact with offender’s–are personal fouls, which often times give the offense an absurd advantage. How many 3rd downs are not only converted but given huge yardage awards on controversial calls? (Pro Football Focus, where ya at?)

Mike Pereria has hinted at simplifying the rule book. He hasn’t expanded on the helmet-to-helmet stuff, and I’m sure he won’t. The NFL is trying to change a culture. I don’t like it. I’ll try to accept it, but I don’t know if I ever will. I grew up loving the contact, the brutality that came with football. But when Drew Brees is given another bonus opportunity because he was hit like he was supposed to be (and I know first-hand how important a healthy franchise QB is), I become enraged. Who would John Lynch have been if he were drafted in 2014? What would Dick Butkus say if he was penalized for hitting a “defenseless receiver?”

I’m sick of answering my rhetorical questions. Does anyone agree with this? Or am I alone on Jack Island, shirtless, riding a unicorn drinking Miller Park margaritas out of a Crunk Cup?

Football Analycyst: A Thoroughly Deep Look at the Festering Issues of Week 4 in the NFL

 (plus commentary on Butthurt Deadspin and Smug Bleacher Report)

Ladies love Jordy butt

Before I get started on answering some of your most pressing questions (and I thank those who submitted questions, so thanks dad, Nick, Grim, Adam), I would like to discuss a couple pet peeves that have been readily irritating like monkey butt sans-Gold Bond .

SKIP THIS SECTION IF YOU JUST WANT SEMISERIOUS FOOTBALL COMMENTARY

The first is with Deadspin. I’ve long ago become an independent, unofficial criticizer of ESPN. I even started my own hashtag, #antiESPNbandwagon, so I’m quite privy to the media malfeasance propagated by the Wordwide Leader. I’m not the cunning linguist I strive to be; thus, I’ll refer to Anders Holmvick and co. to ascribe an appropriate word for Deadspin. That word, of course, is Butthurt. There’s a time and place to assail a media company for egregious misjudgements, sensationalism, blind bias, etc., but Deadspin steps on the line, and then sprints past it. You can find here a list of stories related to their bitter angst towards the network. About two or three times a week Deadspin reports on how evil ESPN is as both a media conglomerate and as an employer. Some of this criticism is fair, some of it is just stubborn, ignorant, and downright condescending. Since merging with Gawker, Deadspin is just another big media bully portraying itself as the little guy to fight the man.

In this case, ESPN is the man, and their mass layoffs to offset costs along with their hiring of “unqualified,”  younger and cheaper employees are simply, in Deadspin’s eyes, injustices bestowed upon the working man. Ironically, it seems (at least to me) that Deadspin feeds off of the shoddy programming of ESPN and then parlays that into an all-the-time shtick. Yes, Skip Bayless sucks. Nobody disagrees with that. But Darren Rovell? He gets in a bit of a Twitter feud (and these always become news for whatever reason) with someone, and then Deadspin has to rip on him for this obsession with brand management and his “company man” demeanor. First of all, if I’m going to go through the list of people whose credibility tank is empty, it’s not going to be Rovell’s. He’s a Northwestern grad (same with Greenberg, Musberger, and Wilbon), and his niche is similar to Andrew Brandt’s on the MMQB–he reports and analyzes the business side of sports. I know why Rovell gets under Deadspin’s skin: he doesn’t make emotional, knee-jerk criticisms against companies like Nike who operate outside the United States. Instead, he provides reason divorced from the emotional bubble that is elementary liberalism. I’m only defending Rovell not because I’m a big fan or even a supporter, but because I believe he’s receiving unwarranted criticism.

As I’ve referred to, Deadspin’s writers are unilaterally liberal like its Gawker counterparts. As a result, they show the inability to present issues in fair context. Example: Chris Kluwe’s response to the gay marriage debate was covered quite romantically whereas Matt Birk’s response, which ran opposite of Kluwe’s (but written with lesser inflammatory language), was deemed “terrble.” Personally, I am completely disinterested in the gay marriage debate. If you wanna be gay, go be gay. I don’t care at all. Our country has much more pressing matters. But I do ask that the fifth estate (BTW, the actor playing Julian Assange in The Fifth Estate looks like a bonafide serial killer pervert) be at least a little fair in the portrayal of civic discourse.

The last point in all this that needs to be addressed is that Deadspin doesn’t even know its role anymore. It’s best work is when they are conducting original enterprise journalism, i.e. the Favre-Sterger story or the Manti Te’o story. They don’t need ESPN, but they report it on it anyway, including their snide remarks because they need to fill content and, simply put, it’s easy.

OK, I’m done with that. Now moving on to my next pet peeve.

Ya know what else chaps my ass, Lloyd? It has to do with another media company, but for a slightly different reason. The perpetrator here is Bleacher Report. Where Deadspin is butthurt, Bleacher Report is downright smug. I tried following Matt Miller, aka @nfldraftscout, on Twitter, but I could only handle so much (note: do any you feel his Twitter handle is narcissistic? Even those whose jobs require a social media presence don’t have their job title as their handle, do they?). Here are two things every fan and sportswriter should tell him/herself before saying anything. 1. If you knew more than the coach/player, why are you just a fan/writer and not a coach/player? 2. There is too much nuance involved in a single play to say with exactitude that a single player was playing it right/wrong (see: Jarrett Bush in the Super Bowl on his interception. Per NFL films, Bush actually broke coverage and got lucky. Unfortunately for Roethlisberger he understood the defense better than Bush did). It’s nice to guess, but please reserve your arrogance for your living room.

I sat on a couple Sundays, syncing my Twitter feed/”NFL draft scout’s” insight with my own observation and all I can say is that they (him and some other BR writers) need to revert back to number 1 in my “two things we should remind ourselves of while watching football.” It’s one thing to point out a flaw, misread, etc. It’s another thing to say it as if it was the most obvious mistake in NFL history. Hindsight is always 20/20. Unfortunately for my chi, Bleacher Report employs a many Captain Hindsight.

Or maybe I’m just butthurt because Bleacher Report keeps declining me as a contributor.

PICK UP HERE IF YOU JUST WANTED FOOTBALL QUESTIONS ANSWERED WITH SLIGHTLY SARDONIC, SLIGHTLY HONEST COMMENTARY

Nick in Appleton writes: “How many cheeseburgers can Mike McCarthy eat in one sitting?”

Good question, Nick. As a cheeseburger aficionado, my burgerodometer has never been truer. First thing we have to do is decide if McCarthy prefers the McDouble, a butter burger (the Culver’s or Kopp’s variety), the traditional home-made, hand-rolled patty with an S. Rosen bun, or the Bubba Burger’s box o’ burgers. I would like to address these burger by burger. First, the McDouble: McCarthy, being the bigger gentleman he is, looks like he can pound beef. By taking my intake and multiplying by the coefficient of fat (1.07), one could ostensibly see McCarthy ingesting close to nine whole McDoubles. Next is the butter burger. Again, I’ll use my formula, which of course is my grotesque appetite absent social etiquette (eating on a date vs. eating alone, on your couch, while watching late-night Cinemax) multiplied by 1.07, I’ll guess that McCarthy can eat four butter burgers before bursting his stomach open. The hand-made burger equation is little different because of the variables involved in who is making the burger and which cheese(s) are included. Assuming it’s a traditional burger with a single slice of processed American cheese with an S. Rosen poppy-seed bun, I’m going to venture a guess of about five burgers. Last, and most underwhelming, is the pre-shaped burgers in a box. For you little people out there, these are construed as sliders to chubby folk. Simply put, McCarthy could eat infinity burgers based on my equation. You eat, and you never get full, and then digestion takes over, and, well, you turnover a new leaf.

Nick may also be referring to McCarthy’s play calling. I do think he laid a couple eggs, not burgers toward the goal line. Eddie Lacy was mauling defenders all day long, and the offensive line was winning the battles up front. Why not prove your ground game is a force? Put the ball in Lacy’s hands on first down and see what he can do. Otherwise, they get backed up too far, making the inevitability of a high-tendency pass all too…inevitable.

P.S. I like McCarthy. I think he’s a great coach for Green Bay, and no way is his fictionalized eating habits reflected on him as a coach, but rather more on me as fat kid.

Aaron on the Eastside writes: “Does Aaron Rodgers need to bring back the Fu Manchu mustache in order to regain his “swagger”? (I know you hate that word.. So do I but I was at a loss for words)”

Yes, I hate the word swag. I also hate t-shirts that read, “YOU MAD BRO?” or hats that say “I like Haters” with the “like” being a Facebook thumbs up.

I like mustaches on athletes. That’s why people were more athletic in the 70s. It’s a fact.

Also what’s a fact is that Aaron Rodgers has been in two-game funk. The Packers offense isn’t connecting  some conversions and red-zone opportunities. A fu manchu has everything and nothing to do with that. I think it’s pretty clear that Rodgers had his best game when he was slightly bearded up against Washington. What he actually needs to do is  to ensure conversions on third and short. I blame play calling on this (which is also Rodgers’ fault as he waived Lacy off on a 3rd and 1). I’ve watched enough Packers football to see their tendencies. Really, they run a handful of plays in certain situations, and if I can see it, certainly a guy who gets paid Scrooge McDuck money will see it too. If I had to make a list of things that worry me about this team, this isn’t one of them. Rodgers facial hair grows in quite well, as does his tendency to throw touchdowns.

On Twitter, @adamwente asked: “Where is Ahmad Carroll?”

Below you will see the extent of my enterprise journalism

Apparently he’s a super senior times, like, 8

Dad asks two questions: “How do you stop Peyton Manning?” and “Where is Datone Jones?” 

First question. To paraphrase a cliche, you can’t stop him, you can only hope to contain him. Peyton Manning is playing really really well. Playing against Manning is like playing your first online game of Madden out of the box and unfortunately stumbling across the guy who doesn’t do anything but play Madden online. He makes so many pre-snap adjustments that the defense cannot surprise him. He’s not mobile, but when he moves, he does so with utmost efficiency. He looks like Rodgers two years ago, which I then say to Denver fans: caution. This ride will be fun. It may last all season long, but as soon as a weakness pops like a hole in a boat, it better get repaired before it becomes a full blown albatross. They don’t have much of a running game, and it’s not a problem right now. But down the road, when snow starts to fall, and catching a leather rock becomes difficult, the unstoppable force may just become slightly vulnerable.

Denver is probably the easiest game plan because you know you won’t win the chessmatch. You just need to win the one-on-one match ups. The defensive line needs to get a push, and the secondary needs to “get fresh” with the wide receivers. Additionally, the opposing offense must own the time of possession. I don’t care who is playing quarterback, it’s much harder to consistently score on short, brisk drives than it is to score with a full clock to work through. Those two factors are, for me, really the only way to hope for a win.

On to the next question. It’s easy to get upset with the play from a rookie. We want to see instant success. Realistically, we should expect a first round pick to be in instant contributor and future impact player. Nick Perry finally showed the promise he flashed so many times before with two sacks against Detroit. Mike Neal, after three years, has finally found his place as an OLB. Thankfully, those two are coming into their own when Clay Matthews is set to miss a month because of a broken thumb.

Datone Jones needs time to adjust to the game. I’ll go back to my first year at a job analogy. If you can tell me you were as good at your job now as you were on the first day, I’ll know you are full of it. He needs to learn how to play at game speed all while getting used to the reads/mental aspect. It’s not easy. I certainly hope for more than what he’s shown, but I wouldn’t write him off until the latter half of year two or the beginning of year three. Players develop differently. He has the physical tools, and I wholeheartedly believe that Green Bay is the ideal environment for a young player. It’s an incubator for success. Plus, they have enough depth that they don’t have to overburden him. Let him get right mentally, then the game will slow down and his physical tools can develop.

The Coolest Thing I’ve Never Heard of: Bitcoin

In a conversation I had with a student of mine last week, he asked me, quite offhandedly, if I had heard of Bitcoin. I thought it rang a bell.

I replied with a casual, “yeah, I think I’ve heard about that.”

He elaborated a bit further, explaining how it’s become an accepted currency around the Internet. That sparked my interest.

A few days later, I lie in bed trying to fall asleep while Conan O’Brien makes weird faces and Andy Richter chimes in with jokes that are only sometimes funny. I’m tired, but I suddenly remember the above conversation, so I reach over for my iPad and begin Googling.

As it turns out, Bitcoin has been around since 2008.  I felt weird to be so out-of-the-loop since the Internet ages like a dog with the same fictionalized Progeria as Robin Williams in Jack. (Sidenote: This means if you’re still relying on joke stems like “said no one ever” or “that awkward moment” to be funny, the Internet has aged you out. It’s time to start plagiarizing a new meme. )

The further I dug into this on a Thursday night, the more intrigued I became, and I’ll tell you why.

What is Bitcoin?

Essentially, this a what all Libertarians have been clamoring about since they heard about Ron Paul, decriminalizing drugs, and auditing the Federal Reserve. To summarize the video, Bitcoin is a digital currency. It derives from a P2P (Peer to Peer) source code. Have you ever downloaded music from a torrent site? Limewire? Kazaa? Napster? Remember how the interface looked while you were downloading Paradise by the Dashboard Light and someone was simultaneously leeching Bye Bye Bye off of you? Bitcoin works in a similar fashion.

It all started back in 2009 when Satoshi Nakamoto, a pseudonym according to Wikipedia, released the first set of Bitcoins. Great, so we just go out there and grab them? Find them? What? The video mentioned “mining.” What the hell is Bitcoin mining? From what I can gather is that, as mentioned in the video, your computer must run an application that will literally search, or mine, for digital groups of coins (they come in groups of 25 or 50). Once these coins are found, the person whose computer found those coins will now keep them in a digital wallet. These same miners are the same people who verify transactions between peers (hence the peer-to-peer).

This all seems too damn good to be true, just too easy to earn “money”. So why am I still typing, and why are you still reading? Well, because it’s more sophisticated than that.

What is “Mining?”

In the beginning, a computer similar to the one I am currently typing on had the ability to quickly and efficiently run an application that would find Bitcoins. To do this, the application would have to solve an increasingly difficult series of algorithms. As explained in the video, this wasn’t a big deal in Bitcoin’s infancy. However, we’re four years removed from the genesis. Bitcoin miners have implemented the use of powerful graphic processing chips to increase mining efficiency. The chips were quicker at solving the algorithms. Once those became obsolete, miners turned to a chip called ASIC. It’s apparently (thus far) the best way to mine for Bitcoins. People have even interconnected machines dedicated solely to Bitcoin mining called Bitcoin mining rigs or “farms”.

The caveat is that there is a set limit to the total amount of Bitcoins being released. People will persistently mine for these Bitcoins, the coins will eventually be fully dispersed to the public in around 100 years, and a set limit will then be available to the public for trading (which is when its real market value will be established). While these coins are being released, however, they are also becoming harder and harder to obtain. So much so that the mining rigs (or farms) use up thousands of dollars in energy running the application to find the coins. In a world of imagined code, people are using real energy to extract a (seemingly) imaginary currency. You see where I’m getting with this? If not, let this guy explain:

So after each “block” is found, it just keeps getting harder and harder to find more Bitcoins. Think about it in terms of Gold. Gold is a precious metal that requires mining. We are far along enough in human history to know A. There’s a finite amount of gold available on this planet, and B. In 2013, there are myriad gold prospecting shows on TV, and all of them require a massive exhaustion of resources to find minuscule amounts of gold. On the flip side, the United States Federal Reserve keeps printing money. It keeps releasing money into the economy without any real deserved reason. What this will inevitably lead to (eventually) will be inflation in some form. This is where I got interested.

Why this is so damn cool

In the 21st Century, we take certain ideas for granted. In reference to this topic, we have taken the way currency works for granted. While reading The Unwinding this summer, there was a passage where Peter Thiel, current billionaire investor, reflected on his invention, PayPal. He believed that he could build a digital currency that would undermine the way the world’s financial system works. At the time, I had no idea what he was referring to. After finding out about Bitcoin, I finally do.

Pretend the plot of The Walking Dead actually happened. You awake to find a world usurped by a plague where society and the people living it no longer operate within the bounds in which it was previously held. Aside from the zombies, how do you survive? How do you get, for lack of a better term, stuff? How do you get shelter if you cannot build it yourself? How do you get food if you cannot farm it yourself? How do you get clean drinking water if you cannot filter it yourself? The answer is to exchange favors with somebody who does know how to do that. In essence, you’re back to a barter economy.

“Man, I’m about to literally die of thirst,” Rick said.

“Well, I can get you clean drinking water, but you need to provide me with protection,” Herschel replied, noticing the desperation in Rick’s voice and realizing he had demand/leverage on his side.

Fast forward 50 years. The world is safe and society is back in order. People realize that there can now be a placeholder for services rendered. Protection, healthcare, entertainment, and other assorted services can now be given a set price according to the market. And there we have a very condensed, very poor genesis for how an economy grows while creating or adapting a form of currency.

————————————————————————————

We have a well-established currency in 2013. But the optics of Bitcoin could be perceived as a de-revolitionary idea. It wants to go back to creating a currency that is based, singularly, on one’s own ability to work for it. There aren’t taxes imposed by a centralized government, and there isn’t the traditional oversight as one would see in a sovereign governance.

Paul Krugman is skeptical. In April of this year, he wrote about Bitcoin in his column for the New York Times:

Money is, as Paul Samuelson once declared, a “social contrivance,” not something that stands outside society. Even when people relied on gold and silver coins, what made those coins useful wasn’t the precious metals they contained, it was the expectation that other people would accept them as payment.

What Krugman is referring to is that the only reason a dollar is worth anything is because we actually accept it as a form of compensation for our work. And everybody does so in relative agreement. Bitcoin, as he believes, is a shady investment because it relies upon people accepting it as compensation. According to Forbes, these are the top ten places that accept Bitcoins as payment:

  1. WordPress
  2. The Pirate Bay
  3. Reddit
  4. The Internet Archive
  5. OKCupid
  6. 4Chan.org
  7. NameCheap
  8. EZTV
  9. LumFile
  10. LewRockwell

While some of those entities seem questionable, one familiar name is flirting in the Bitcoin arena: Ebay. Even crazier, according to Bitcoin Charts, a Bitcoin is worth around $140 USD as of October 1. It’s important to note that this is still volatile. Mostly from what I’ve read, investors still see it as too risky. The highs are too high and the lows are too low. But heck, Apple was risky 25 years ago. Who the hell was Google but a search engine when I was in middle school? Crazier things have happened in our world.

Aside from the legitimate merchants that accept Bitcoins as payment, there is also something else that has trickled up: a black market. Capitalism is beautifully tragic in this way. It’s called Silk Road, and it’s an online marketplace for illegal goods. Among some of the items sold include heroin, LSD, and weed. A sister site, The Armory, sold weapons. It was shut down due to the lack of demand, but nonetheless, these are vendors that sell illegal (at least in the United States) items for Bitcoins. The currency can operate outside political lines. I can imagine this being a logistical nightmare for the United States court system in the same way Shield laws have to be interpreted in the age of the Internet. Cyberspace is an abstract idea that works pragmatically. It operates everywhere and nowhere.

Conclusion

For all this explanation, discussion, and analysis, I don’t know if it will ever work. I’m never going to invest (partially because schoolteachers and liquid assets mix like oil and water, which, for the record, doesn’t bother me, I knew what I was getting into when I declared a major). I would like to see this change the way our financial system works, though.  I revel in the idea that some guy or gal, or a group of people, came up with an idea, coded it, and changed the way the financial system operates forever. They literally created a new economy from the sweat of the brow, from the proper synapses firing. It’s like the genius in the garage building a revolutionary idea cliche. It’s just cool. Plain and simple. 

And with a quote, I’m out.

“If you build it, they will come.”

Tuesday Late Afternoon QuarterJack

The Packers defense has proven to be a more difficult match-up than anticipated this year.

Losing sucks. But the Packers “D” is a D.U.F.F.

I’m not going to feel good about Sunday’s loss. And we now only have one episode of Breaking Bad left (cue Vince Gilligan holding up a foam #1 finger). Needless to say, this next Sunday will be bittersweet not only because Walter White is going to die (there’s no way he can’t, right?), but also because us Packer fans have to sit on this loss for another week while I ponder the implications of Bears fans having an undefeated team.

What is surprising (at least to me) thus far is how the 2013 Packers are being perceived, which is (actually, come to think of it, not surprising at all) that the 2013 Packers are carbon-copies of the 2012 Packers, notably the defense. While the Packers conceded 34 points to the Bengals, the break-down tells a different story–this is the story that you get when you actually watch the games. (When reading power rankings from national sportswriters, you must keep in mind that there’s no way they watched every minute of every game, which essentially  explains their incompetence). I found that the Packers fell 7 spots down to 12. These mean nothing to me (and, more importantly, to actual standings). They do, however, represent how the general fan views this team. They see 1-2, they see 34 points given up, they see a defense that gives up points easier than a high school boys basketball score keeper. But I say nay!  No way in hell is Miami a better team than Green Bay for the same reason there was no way a Kevin Kolb-led Arizona team at 3-0 was better than the 2012 Packers. Be logical about this.

What I can construe out of their record last year is that the Packers were indeed 1-2 after week three. What I know is different from last year to this year, though, is that the defense is markedly improved. 14 of the 34 points scored on Sunday were a direct result of a turnover. Rodgers threw two interceptions late in the game, one leading to a short field and a score. While it would have been ideal for Cincinnati to be held to a field goal, I can’t place full blame on a defense minus its best playmaker (Matthews was out after the first half with a hamstring injury) and secondary depth (Again, Burnett and Hayward).

The Packers defense is much more akin to the D.U.F.F. (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) who plays the role of personal bouncer for the hot friend than the hot (and for the sake of this metaphor, loose) friend.

Look at some of the performances:

  • Sam Shields, more or less, shut down a top 3 wide receiver in the league.
  • After the 14-0 deficit, the Packers managed to get a punt and four consecutive turnovers.
  • Defensive score on a turnover

What about the offensive yield from the turnovers? Nine points. It’s farting-on-a-first-date-type-weird to say, but this game was on Aaron Rodgers.

Rodgers plays so consistently well that we’ve become spoiled as a fan base. Watching him struggle is a reminder that playing QB in the NFL,  as it turns out, is difficult. Fortunately,  Sunday’s game was an outlier, not a trend, an exception, not a rule.  A bounce-back game is about as sure-fire as it gets. The chip on Rodgers shoulder deserved its own South Park personification a la Minge and Gary.

This schedule wasn’t easy to start. San Francisco is also 1-2. But does anyone really believe they are not a Super Bowl contender? I wrote in August that the Packers would be lucky to be 4-0 or 3-1 coming out of this stretch. There’s no way they lose to Detroit in two weeks. They have the time to heal up injured players (Lacy, Burnett, Hayward, Starks, and Matthews), and I’m expecting a convincing win.

Moving forward, the defense could still be the achilles heel of this team, but I haven’t seen evidence of that thus far. I see a team that needs to be more opportunistic. I see a team whose quarterback needs to sharpen his crunch-time killer instinct. I think one more score in the second half would have sealed that game. All of these issues are easily attainable for this team, especially considering Lacy, Starks, and Franklin all look to be competent runners. Detroit will game plan against the run, and their secondary will consequently be spanked like Mr. Slave (jeeeeeeese chrisssst!)

I’ll leave you with a quote from the Packers.com editor Vic Ketchman who has worked in the sportswriting business for a long, long time. He was asked about the prospects of making the playoffs, and how Chicago’s hot start may close the door on the division. Ketchman responded, “No, I don’t [believe that to be true]. In my old-school football world, the season doesn’t begin until Thanksgiving. Everything between now and then is meant to separate the contenders from the non-contenders. The Packers will be a contender. Then we’ll find out what they’ve got under the hood.”

Shameless Twitter Plug — @jackdw44

Packers Niners Reaction written in the tune of Comment-Board-Troll-Douchebaggery

What is his internet handle? Provide suggestions in the comments section. I say it’s FearANDloathingINYOURMOM

The Packers lost. If you read my last post then you understand that I was probably psychologically prepared for this loss. I’m still sitting here, licking my paws (probably because I’m eating peanut butter out of the jar with my hands). I figured the best way to explain my reaction is to do it through the lens of the classic Internet troll.  So here goes.

  • JimmyHarBRAH says:

Clay Matthews is a talentless diva. He should be suspended at least 19 games for that stunt he pulled on Keap.

  • SharonRodgers says:

Kaepernick > Rodgers. for u fat wisconsiners, that means Kaepernick is greater than Rodgers.

  • Logical Jack says:

RE: JimmyHarBrah: OK, it was a late hit. But we have become so conditioned by the NFL to view any hit on the QB as illegal. This is crap. Don’t tell me you were upset because you were fearful for CK’s health, but rather you realized he was short of the first down and a late hit would reward San Francisco with a fresh set of downs. Additionally, can we stop talking about Clay Matthews as some sort of one-trick pony? His well-rounded skill set as a player was on full display on Sunday. He’s the only consistent threat Green Bay has on defense. (note the word consistent, I’m still very optimistic about what Perry and Neal can do this year on the front seven).

RE: SharonRodgers: Alright I’ll bite for the guy who loves Skip Bayless and Herm Edwards. So Kaepernick out-statistic’ed Aaron Rodgers. He threw for 400 yards. Let’s also throw (pun) in a few qualifiers. First, I understand that Michael Crabtree wasn’t playing. But Green Bay was also missing some key pieces in the secondary, notably Morgan Burnett. Being the veteran safety that he is, Burnett would have cleared up a few things that Jerron McMillan and M.D. Jennings missed. Free Safetys are vital to effective communication in the secondary. Also, unlike M.D. Jennings, Burnett wouldn’t have done one of the following two mistakes I saw: 1. He wouldn’t take the “Dad’s lost and says he taking the ‘scenic route’ to avoid the wife’s criticism” path to the football. And 2. He wouldn’t have then proceeded–after poor coverage–to miss just about every tackle imaginable. I don’t have game tape so I can’t verify how right or wrong I may be (and if I did, and I watched the game again for a personal blog in which I do for fun, well then we can probably agree that I am, as a person, somewhere between “People of Wal-Mart” and “guy who wears his letterman’s jacket well into his 20s”). Either way, I think some of the secondary issues–the ones that included Casey Hayward’s absence–will be fixed, but I digress. Colin Kaepernick showed me last year that he was a solid thrower. I didn’t doubt that. I think the Niners are the best team in the league right now, and I’ll be maintaining a keen eye on how well Kaepernick (I hate having to keep type his name because I have no idea if it’s Kaep or Keap, and I don’t want to look it up) performs. Rodgers played against a much tougher defense and played tremendously well. He is a model of consistency that is rivaled only by post-coffee bowel movements.

  • George Zimmer says:

I had to get a pair of pants and a tie dry cleaned at Martinizing dry cleaning and it was $18. That insane. Really? Two items. It’ll cost you good, I guarantee it!

  • FITZwalkerStan says:

The Packers looked awful. They aren’t going anywhere this year. This team sucks. It’s probably Scott Walker’s fault.

  • Logical Jack says:

RE: George Zimmer: I don’t know where this came from, but yeah I agree. Also, didn’t you just get fired from Men’s Wearhouse? I’m pretty sure parlaying your slogan into terrible jokes won’t help your employment. $18 is crazy, though. Is it like this everywhere else? Is there a better deal somewhere? Because If I were you, I would just never get it cleaned. So what if my coworkers think my tie smells like beer?

RE: FITZwalkerStan: I have to get this off my chest. The Packers are literally the only unifying element in the state of Wisconsin. Do you really have to insert ridiculously out-of-place political jabs into every post, which consequently creates a side discussion while simultaneously pissing off a large contingent of readers? Stop it. Now go home, get out of those skinny jeans, and wash your Che Guevara shirt. You’ll feel more relaxed.

WIth that said, I do want to respond to the first part, which was you and the other pessimists becoming completely reckless with your outlook on the season. Goosefraba. Goosefraba. Goooooooooooosefraba.  This game was very close to going Green Bay’s way.  The defense admittedly looked like a New Orleans levee circa 2005 in that last drive, but there was plenty of evidence that says this will be a good 2013 season. As I said above to SharonRodgers, Rodgers played great, and will play great in the future (as is tradition). David Bahktiari held up quite well against Aldon Smith, who as my astute roommate pointed out, looked more like anything other than a human (he also looks like Marlo’s muscle in The Wire). People shouldn’t be that big. Josh Sitton got called on a couple holding calls–some tacky, some legit–against Justin Smith, who is likely the best defensive tackle Sitton will play against all year. Eddie Lacy started off slow. (The Niners’ defense is about as stout as you can get against the run, he got going in his only TD drive of the game.) He did show the elusive-for-a-big-guy feet on the 30 yard screen-pass that I love. Defensively, they couldn’t have played better against the run. As I suspected before the season started, they’ve made enough improvement with the front seven, and it showed on Sunday. With Kaepernick, they are keenly aware of his elusiveness. I’m sure the rushing linebackers and defensive lineman were instructed to not get too crazy with their rushing lanes. Instead, the ideal goal was to collapse the pocket and contain him. The only problem was that we found out that Kaepernick can throw, which will need to be addressed if there’s another meeting in the future (I could very well see this being the NFC championship game). I’m optimistic. Not happy, but optimistic.

  • George Zimmer says:

RE: FITZWalkerStan: It’s Obama’s fault, I guarantee it!

  • FITZWalkerStan says:

Where did this come from? It’s clearly Scott Walker’s and his cronies in Madison making backdoor deals all while giving his friends lofty paying jobs.

  • George Zimmer says:

Maybe if Obama didn’t suck so much, Martinizing wouldn’t have to charge so much to dry clean clothes. I cannot afford this. I’m unemployed.

  • FITZWalkerStan says:

Welcome to Wisconsin where Scooter Walker just bleeds jobs because he’s the most evilest person on earth…

  • George Zimmer says:

pff whatever. All I want is a a nice gray beard and a dry cleaned pair of slacks at an affordable place. not in obamas america, which isnt evn ‘Merica nemore

  • FITZWalkerStan says:

ur just a racist, xenophobic, homophobic, kool-aid drinker!

  • George Zimmer says:

U always kno when u win an argument with democRATS bc they call you racist. I WIN!

  • Logical Jack says:

Why the hell are we talking about this on a Packers post? You both need to not exist. Especially because you both probably live like this:

Online Battlefield

To summarize, I like this team this year. I still hold on to my original 11-5 – 13-3 prediction. Washington will be scary, and so will Cincinnati, but the Packers have shown they can go to toe-to-toe with a team much better than each of the two. Let’s hope I am right, and let’s hope you realize how much of a loser I am for creating a conversation with myself using horribly made-up Internet aliases.

My Wholly Non-Expert Preseason Outlook on the 2013-2014 Green Bay Packers

No more legal-hits-that-look-illegal this year, Nick

Basically no one reads this blog other than myself (to proofread, for which I often find mistakes and get frivolously upset). However, I have something in common with sports writers: nobody will hold me accountable for my flaccid sports ken. I can make valid predictions based on firm indicators and, as a result, be the guy three months from now saying, “See, I totally called that. Everyone should respect how smart I am.” But more likely than not, I’ll be the guy who loudly praises Jermichael Finley having a breakout (can he still have one?) year while he drops a wide-open pop-pass against New York to put the Packers in what South Park would call “a sticky situation.” To which an arbitrary friend from a generic network scripted comedy would simply sound, “HEEEEE HAWWWW!”

Disclaimer: If you do not know much about me, I teach kids, which means I have a lot of free time when the weather is nice. By extension, I have made it an obsession to read Packers’ news like Kevin Spacey in Seven. I do trust my own observations as well as the observations\opinions from my fellow Packer brethren (you likely know who you are). Unfortunately I haven’t been watching the preseason games as close as I’d like. The first, I watched at a bar. I absolutely loathe watching games at the bar. Girls, you don’t want to be interrupted with the possible–but probably wrong–identity guesses of “A” while watching a Pretty Little Liars right? Same idea. I like to watch games with the same attentive detail with which I watch Breaking Bad.

The second game I watched while consuming rather strong libations. My Walter White-like precision just wasn’t where I’d like it to be. (I’ve now reached the point in my life where I’m critiquing my TV watching skills). I’m done with the gibberish, though. I’m optimistic this season and here’s why.

Eddie Lacy is not fat

Despite that photo, Lacy is not the rotund, out-of-shape bowling ball that Vikings fans want him to be. Listen, I have to see myself shirtless everyday I actually shower. I know what fat looks like. I’ve been this way for quite awhile, and I’m somewhat of an adjunct professor at strategically concealing it. The photo has since been debunked when Lacy ran all over St. Louis. I know it’s preseason, but the difference between Lacy and the other backs I’ve seen run behind Rodgers is simply this: he has vision. He has light feet and can press the circle button on a dime, which is fortuitous for a man his size, but there are plenty of athletic freaks in the NFL. What separates him is the simple fact that he reads the line much better.

Expect a butterfly effect if Lacy (above) can play like he did at Alabama. As Mr. John Collins would say, “The (roll)tides are turning!”

Packers run a zone blocking scheme, which means they all drive block on the same angle, and, in turn, create a cut back lane. This is different than the inside-on-over-outside blocking scheme which often has a clear hole dictated for the back to run through. I believe Lacy will have a nice year. He may not have huge numbers because of Aaron Rodgers, but it’s converting those sticky 3-and-1s without throwing hopeless bombs to Jordy Nelson that count.

Newsflash: Aaron Rodgers is still the best player in the NFL

The quarterback is the most important position in football. You can argue with me about that but then you’d be an idiot. Rodgers is the best QB in football. I don’t care what talking heads on ESPN say. He’s mobile! He’s agile! He hostile! Too many superficial fans of football whom I deem “Madden” fans get caught up on useless rankings. Let’s go through a couple common QB comparison arguments. 1. “Brady doesn’t have the receivers Rodgers has.” Response: When Gronkowski was healthy and Aaron Hernandez wasn’t trying to be a storyline on The Bridge, Brady had three top-tier targets to throw to with Welker in the mix. Brady is really, really good. Don’t get me wrong, but this argument annoys me. Also, this year, don’t sleep on Wes Welker Redux, a.k.a. Danny Amendola. When healthy, Amendola was a very good wide receiver with Sam Bradford. This was the smartest move New England made in the offseason.

2. “Aaron Rodgers can’t win the big game.” Response: Ok, I’ll use this one (conveniently) to compare him to Manning. Manning is great.

Packer fans only use pictures with mustachioed Aaron

Probably the greatest all-time. But right now, in 2013, he’s not Aaron Rodgers. They both have the same number of Super Bowls. Manning’s late interception wasn’t necessarily 90s MJ. Oh, and last year, I’d like you to come up with a better word than “anemic” for the Packers defense (this year should be vastly improved, and I’ll get to that). Manning had leather-bound bookends last year with Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil. Let’s make an analogy because they’re fun. If Rodgers was an incumbent politician running for reelection, he only wins if he garners 70 percent of the electorate. Whereas most QBs need 50-55 percent to win, and 60 is considered a landslide, Rodgers has been playing an uphill battle for most of his career.

Don’t laugh at me until I’m wrong: The defense will make drastic improvements this year

Ever since Green Bay lost Cullen Jenkins, the defense hasn’t been the same. They lacked tenacity (absent Clay Matthews). I’m not going to say that playing with more of an edge will curtail their fledgling play the last few years. That is simply an attitude. A smart student with an attitude is still a smart kid. A dumb kid with an attitude is still dumb. A porous defense with an attitude is still porous. However, they’ve slowly added some key pieces for which we haven’t quite seen in total concert yet. This preseason, Casey Hayward and Tramon Williams have been out but are due back. By the very nature of preseason, pass rushers aren’t going to metaphorically run out in a trench coat naked and flash brilliance. We know what Clay Matthews can do. He’s a top notch passer and a highly-underrated run stopper. Nick Perry has much to prove. But practice reports seem to indicate that he’s getting it. Remember, he was a defensive lineman in college. This is his second year in a new position. Remember how badly you sucked at your job the first few months? I remembered how much I sucked.

Here are some other tidbits. Micah Hyde has been the surprise of camp. He played quite well against Tavon Austin last week in St. Louis. Davon House, after his admittedly terrible outing against Arizona, played much better against St. Louis and would have beaten out Sam Shields last year in camp if he hadn’t been injured. So we have Tramon Williams (starter), Sam Shields (starter), Casey Hayward (very good),  Micah Hyde>Davon House>Jerrett Bush OR Davon House>Micah Hyde>Jerrett Bush. Either way, _________ > Jerrett Bush. The Packers have serious depth at cornerback. Speaking of depth, the defensive line is really starting to come around if a few variables play out like I think they will. Ryan Pickett is getting old, but is solid nonetheless. Raji is in a contract year. First round pick Datone Jones, by all reports, has been as good as advertised. And by that I mean he’s playing like his Twitter profile picture, which looks downright Heisenberg-ish. If Jones plays up to his potential, he can free up Nick Perry to make plays, which in turn frees up Clay Matthews, which in turn lessens the burden on a talented secondary. You see what I did with that turnstile, run-on sentence? We have a domino effect of what-ifs on defense. But I’m feeling quite optimistic about it. It’s going to take time, though. I don’t expect instant success, but by week 8, we should start seeing them gel into a cohesive force (or at least something that is similarly reminiscent of 2010).

Packers 2013 schedule and, coincidentally, my Wing Stop eating schedule

  1. at San Francisco 49ers Sept. 8 @3:25
  2. Washington Redskins Sept. 15 @Noon
  3. at Cincinnati Bengals Sept. 22 @Noon
  4. BYE
  5. Detroit Lions Oct. 6 @Noon*
  6. at Baltimore Ravens Oct. 13 @Noon
  7. Cleveland Browns Oct. 20 @3:25
  8. at Minnesota Vikings Oct. 27 @7:30
  9. Chicago Bears Nov. 4 @7:40
  10. Philadelphia Eagles Nov. 10 @Noon*
  11. at New York Giants Nov. 17 @7:30
  12. Minnesota Vikings Nov. 24 @Noon
  13. at Detroit Lions Nov. 28 @11:30am
  14. Atlanta Falcons Dec. 8 @7:30
  15. At Dallas Cowboys Dec. 15 @3:25
  16. Pittsburgh Steelers Dec. 22 @3:25
  17. at Chicago Bears Dec. 29 @Noon

*Denotes games I will be at

BOLD=games the Packers may likely lose

The first four games the Packers play are very tough. All three are going to be playoff contenders, and two of them may be Super Bowl contenders. I don’t expect Green Bay to win the San Francisco game. I think they’ll be a little raw, and their defense won’t quite be ready. But they aren’t going to lose all those games in bold. They’ll lose some of them, probably half. But you also have to account for the fact that they will drop a turd somewhere, like Cleveland or at Detroit. We don’t know where the turd happens. It’s not unlike those old commercials where the guy has to get out of his car and run to the gas station bathroom because he may ruin his day. It just poops (sic) up at any time, and always the wrong time. So if the Packers lose all the bold games, that puts them at 11-5. I say they’ll lose three of the five but drop a game they should win, which puts them at 12-4. I think that’s a fair assessment. I think 11-5  to 13-3 is the range where Green Bay fits. They just need to make the preseason. Once that happens, anything is possible as we saw in 2010. Why? Well, Aaron Rodgers, the Kwan. Remember the Arizona game in the 2009 postseason. He was absolutely ridiculous. The only difference was that Green Bay’s defense was slightly more horrid than Arizona’s. Let’s hope for big things, and don’t listen to what you see on TV. They are paid to talk for hours. Brevity is the soul of wit intelligence. The more one speaks, the more likely incompetence will seep out. Let’s enjoy this season, and let’s not get too distraught when a few bumps in the road inevitably occur. I’ll try, but I’ll likely become a hypocrite to my own Packer fan constitution.

Photo on 8-21-13 at 11.53 AM

Go Pack Go!

Final edit: They could likely lose some divisional games against Chicago, Detroit, or Minnesota. The NFC North will be one of the two best divisions in football this year. Still, I hold my prediction of 11-5 to 13-3. This schedule is difficult. At least Green Bay will be battle tested going into the late season.

Hollywood’s Counterintuitive Business Model and TV’s Juxtaposition

“You will make a movie called the Rest In Peace Department, and you will get Jeff Bridges to agree to do it!”

When was the last time you were genuinely excited for a movie? Sure, there are movies that contain our favorite stars, which make us (or at least me) think, “It’s (fill-in-the-blank star), he’s not going to take a garbage role.” Unbeknownst to myself, the above dialogue I have is simply me–justifying to myself–why I should retain hope for another failure. But if you’ve been alive this summer, quite the contrary has happened.

The following was the best Hollywood could come up with this summer–a time for the big-budget, big box office projects to lay themselves among the audience:

  • Iron Man 3 (success)
  • After Earth starring Will Smith (failure)
  • Hangover Part III (meh)
  • The Internship (doesn’t qualify as a summer blockbuster, but still just check out my prior review)
  • Man of Steel (OK, but there’s a disclaimer I will get to)
  • World War Z (surprisingly good, naturally expensive)
  • White House Down (Channing Tatum would have been a better pick had this been a musical)
  • The Lone Ranger (*A whistle mimic-ing the sound of Fat Man falling out of the Enola Gay*)
  • Pacific Rim (Blockbuster budget, moderate success)
  • Grown Ups 2 (This is a franchise?)
  • Red 2 (See above parenthetical)
  • R.I.P.D. (Oh come on, now!)
  • Wolverine (Didn’t they make this already?)
  • 2 Guns (moderate success based on exceptional casting)
  • Elysium (Matt Damon probably thinks this is a smart movie)
  • Kick Ass 2  (TBD, but the first was actually pretty good)
  • jOBS (TBD, reviews haven’t been great) 

Time to put on my Captain Hindsight uniform and say there are some serious turds in that bowl. R.I.P.D. are you kidding? I understand that a movie script can, in fact, be well done before it goes through the Hollywood machine, but this is an unforgivable concept. The two sci-fi movies, After Earth and Elysium, both are heavy with the political themes and are no where near living up to expectations. So what does that say about the movie market? Perhaps we don’t want to sit through an editorial disguised as art. But seriously, another Wolverine-based movie? Another Iron Man? Franchises galore. Are we seeing a pattern yet?

There are few auteurs left in the film business. Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight franchise, Inception) is one. His brother wrote Man of Steel, which is why I can hold out hope for that it would be a much more original take on a tried-and-true tale. Peter Berg, the director of films such as The Kingdom and Friday Night Lights, had to make Battleship (god-awful) in order to make his baby, Lone Survivor. Battleship is a Transformers spinoff. Hollywood is addicted to CGI like crack. It cannot stop. It firmly believes that more action set pieces will drive audience interest.

I figured my internal gripes were hipster-like grievances until I started seeing prominent authorities in the industry speak up about it. Steven Spielberg, whose name in the byline of a film title adds a chunk of revenue itself, remarked the following to a group of USC film students:

That’s the big danger, and there’s eventually going to be an implosion — or a big meltdown [in Hollywood]. There’s going to be an implosion where three or four or maybe even a half-dozen megabudget movies are going to go crashing into the ground, and that’s going to change the paradigm.

According to the Huffington Post, “Spielberg lamented that it’s becoming harder and harder for even brand-name filmmakers to get their projects into movie theaters. To wit: “Lincoln,” which was a critical and commercial success for the director, nearly ended up on HBO, he told the audience. Unestablished talent, meanwhile, has run into trouble getting their projects greenlit at all, because their ideas are “too fringe-y” for studios.”

The Economist has cooborated this sentiment by calling Hollywood exectives “paranoid and insecure. Adding, “between 2007 and 2011, pre-tax profits of the five studios controlled by large media conglomerates (Disney, Universal, Paramount, Twentieth Century Fox and Warner Bros) fell by around 40%, says Benjamin Swinburne of Morgan Stanley. He reckons the studios account for less than 10% of their parent companies’ profits today, and by 2020 their share will decline to only around 5%. That is because the “big six” studios (the other is Sony Pictures, owned by the eponymous electronics maker) are growing more slowly than TV. In 2012 Time Warner grossed $12 billion from film, up 20% from 2002. That compares with a more than 84% rise in the company’s TV-network revenues during the period, to $14.2 billion”

George Lucas, who was speaking at the event with Spiellberg, opined, “the pathway to get into theaters is really getting smaller and smaller.”

So Lincoln struggled to get funding but apparently no one was sober enough to shut down R.I.P.D.? Deadline Hollywood recently reported that Spiellberg couldn’t “square his vision of [American Sniper] with [the given] budget.” One would think that if there are any safe bets for a movie to be profitable, having the director of Jaws, Saving Private Ryan, E.T., etc. would certainly help.  Oh, and Bradley Cooper is set to play the lead role. I would go see it, and I’ve reached that age where I frequently give up on movies.

Steven Soderbergh, the director Ocean’s 11/12/13 and HBO’s Behind the Candelabra (among others), ranted about the industry in a speech at the San Francisco film festival:

The meetings have gotten pretty weird. There are fewer and fewer executives who are in the business because they love movies. There are fewer and fewer executives that know movies. So it can become a very strange situation. I mean, I know how to drive a car, but I wouldn’t presume to sit in a meeting with an engineer and tell him how to build one, which is what you feel like when you’re in these meetings. You’ve got people who don’t know movies, don’t watch movies for pleasure, deciding what movie you’re going to be allowed to make. That’s one reason studio movies aren’t better than they are, and that’s one reason that cinema, as I’m defining it, is shrinking.

In essence, studios find it necessary to put all their chips on one number to gain 36:1 profits with the reasoning that the movie, once greenlit and successful (two big hurdles) will become a continued (franchised) success. See: Batman, X-Men, Iron Man, Man of Steel, the Hangover, and so on. When these comic book adventure films were a novelty, they were a novelty. That luster has since worn off, and audiences don’t get excited about it. The tried and true method of all great films is having a great narrative, a great, wait for it, story!

“We are a species that is driven by narrative,” Soderbergh added.

Hollywood has abandoned the story ship, and boarded the Battleship. “Special effects are what audiences want,” says the executives whose sole focus is the bottom line. 2 Guns and soon-to-be Lone Survivor star Mark Wahlberg basically agrees. “They are spending so much money to pull the wool over the audience’s eyes with these effects-driven movies,” Wahlberg said.

If you experience anything enough, be it a Prime-cut steak, an exotic vacation, whatever, excess will deteriorate the desire to experience it again. Las Vegas is an adult playground, but if you live there and indulge in the  vices festivities “on the reg” you will inevitably miss the mundane lifestyle of suburban middle America. Jurassic Park was awesome when it first came out. The special effects were mind-blowing. 15 years later, those same effects have been overused. They are simply add-on features to a car. But consumers don’t buy a car for add-on features. They buy a car for transportation. Consumers primarily watch a movie for a strong narrative.

The market for narrative has always been there. Do you want proof? Look no further than cable TV. The Wire, The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Sons of Anarchy, Justified, The Americans, Mad Men. Even the shows with the loftiest budgets still don’t compare to the money pit that is John Carter. TV writers are the ultimate middle manager. They must do more with less. They must create a better story with fewer set pieces or big name actors. Who was John Hamm before Mad Men? Can you watch Elf now and see Peter Dinklage in his original role and not think Tyrion Lannister? Byran Cranston is now synonymous with perhaps the most iconic role in TV, Walter White. These are career defining roles in TV.

If I said this 10 years ago, people would think I’d be crazy (partly because I’d be 14 and my TV apptetite consisted of Carson Daly on TRL), but right now, in 2013, TV programming is much, much better than anything in film.

Vince Gilligan, the brains behind Breaking Bad, had this to say about the difference between TV and film:

I love movies, and I love TV. In TV, you have the time to get deeper into a character, but movies are a two-hour block of time in which we get transported to another place. We’ll always have Paris, and we’ll always have movies. But we’re going through a time, unfortunately, when the big movie studios are run by folks that are more obsessed than ever with the bottom line and who probably love movies less than any studio hierarchy that’s ever existed in my life. Back in the day, when the Irving Thalbergs and Louis B. Mayers ran the business, those guys could bite your head off. Those guys were tough sons of bitches, but they loved movies. They weren’t obsessed with counting beans. The problem with the movie business now is that it’s marketing-driven—driven by demographics, by spreadsheets and flowcharts and all this shit that has nothing to do with storytelling. But the movie itself, the structure of the movie, will always be with us. And occasionally a really great movie for grown-ups does sneak through.

In short, the bottom-line-obsessed executives need to leave art to the artists. AMC was never on my radar until Mad Men and Breaking Bad came out. Now they’ve built a brand which tells their audience they are willing to take a chance on originality. FX did the same when they started out with The Shield and Nip/Tuck. They brought HBO drama to basic cable. As a consequence, TV has proliferated into a medium that has become much more entertaining (and cheaper) than film. TV has undercut film, and it’s filled with irony.

An unexpected twist in this whole debacle is seeing film industry regulars converting to TV. Scorsese serves as an executive producer for Boardwalk Empire. David Fincher worked on House of Cards. Names like Kevin Bacon and Kevin Spacey, once indigenous to film, are migrating to the TV landscape. Creative freedom is something all artists strive for. One must survive, so a paycheck is ultimately more important. But for entertainment’s sake, these artists must not be subjugated to recycled story lines with new tricks.

TV is the best example, but not the only one. Video games have become technological wonders. Developing teams are auteurs in their own right, placing their stamp on masterpieces such as Grand Theft Auto and Metal Gear Solid. The publisher acts as the film industry executives. Call of Duty 4, developed by Infinity Ward and published by Activision, was a mega success. It contained brand new gaming infrastructure, redesigned and streamlined with state-of-the-art gameplay. Yesterday, Infinity Ward (minus two if it’s lead developers) unveiled Call of Duty Ghosts’ multiplayer, which is its first for the upcoming next generation consoles, X Box One and Playstation 4. This is Call of Duty’s sixth iteration since Modern Warfare came out. The innovation is little. They’ve doubled down on what worked before, hoping to fool audiences by using the word “innovation.” Meanwhile, Naughty Dog put out perhaps the generation’s best game in The Last of Us on the Playstation 3, a less powerful machine. Activision, and they are perfectly entitled to this, decided to copy what works to retain their audience. But the reason the game was so successful in the first place was precisely because it was a hallmark for video game innovation.  Unfortunately, innovation looks bleak when the captains of industry are in no hurry to change what works.

 Tom Bissell of Grantland perfectly summarized my point:

[T]he amount of work required to make The Last of Us is basically unimaginable to anyone outside game development. Games with this amount of detail and polish are possible only when dozens of men and women voluntarily elect to damage themselves and their lives for the entertainment benefit of strangers.” He continued, “Sony undoubtedly recognized from the start the hard uphill battle The Last of Us had in front of it, which means the game was probably intended as a prestige project done both for the good of the medium and to burnish studio and platform pride. Obviously, that’s a somewhat cynical way of looking at things. Less cynical would be to say, ‘The Last of Us is a masterpiece.’”

The writing is on the wall. Now if only those who wield the green flame can read it. And we, as consumers, aren’t completely innocent. We must better speak our minds via the mighty dollar.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.