Wanted to talk about the Super Bowl today. On Sunday night the most American of all holidays will happen. It is estimated that about 160 million television sets will be tuned into the game between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers. Not to be outdone, the American commercial machine will be cranking out the best commercials for the year. It is probably the only time in the year where people will wait to reload their plate of nachos until the commercials are over and the game is back on.
I know that not everyone follows football very closely, but we all want to feel like semi-experts when surrounded by people we hardly know and really don’t like. Denver will probably be wearing orange and Carolina will be in white. But if I am wrong and Denver is in the white then Carolina will be in black and teal. The most famous players are Peyton Manning who wears number 18 and Cam Newton who wears number 1.
Key to the Game:
The players to watch for Denver is actually Emmanuel Saunders, wide receiver number 10. He will be covered by Robert McClain number 27 I believe. In the past two playoff games, McClain gave up seven catches and one touchdown in each game. If Denver is to have a chance, Saunders will need to have that type of game. If McClain can keep Saunders in check, then look for Carolina to win. In a normal year, if Saunders has over 150 yards receiving and two touchdowns then he would be the MVP of the Super Bowl. But since Peyton would be the one throwing him the ball, if Denver wins then Peyton will be the MVP.
There will be only two really good commercials this year. The rest will be average at best.
Denver will score at least 17 points. I figure their point range is between 3-27, meaning they might only kick a field goal or they might score 27. If they are in the lead going into the 4th quarter, then this will turn out to be Peyton’s final victory of his career. To win they need a special team touchdown and maybe a defensive touchdown. Their defense will need to contain Cam Newton and create turnovers to keep the Carolina offense off the field.
Carolina will score at least 35 points. I figure their point range is between 10 and 50. This game comes down to the run game. If Carolina can run the football, then they will win easily. If Denver stops the run, then they have a chance. This includes keeping Cam Newton from running out of the pocket. The Denver defense won the game against New England because they kept Tom Brady from beating them, they hit him early and often, getting into his head so much that he was constantly looking for someone to hit him. Cam Newton is a different type of player and this will be the difference in the game.
Las Vegas has Carolina as a 4-point favorite. I have them as a 24-point favorite. I think they will dominate the game and literally blow Denver off the field. My prediction is Carolina 53 and Denver 13 sending Peyton into retirement and propelling Cam Newton into superstar status.
Of course, I might be wrong about all of this. I am a Dallas fan so it is proper and right for you to question my judgment. Until next time, keep on rockin.
Two weekends ago, my son and I went to see WWE Live in Charleston. Surrounded by 6,000 other booger eaters like us, we had a great time watching 250 pound athletes pound the ever loving, scripted snot out of each other. I have got to commend the WWE because they provide a two to three-hour solid action packed, relatively clean and child appropriate entertainment. You can’t find that at a movie, a college football game or even at putt-putt. My kids can’t even find it at the house when I am watching my own television. The individual wrestlers each took time on the microphone riling up the locals with taunts of stupid coal miners or pointing at the WWE sign laughing at how the locals pronounce Duba…Duba…EEE! I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that my kids hear all kinds of foul language, even going to a private, small Christian school. Hopefully, the reality is that 99% of the inappropriate language in their lives comes from me. But not once did any of the WWE entertainers let a minor foul word slip out. Seriously, as a parent I really appreciate the efforts that they go to in order to keep things relatively clean. As clean as it can be when two big dudes are slamming each other into tables and cracking the other guy’s skull with a chair.
Today’s article is more for all my writing friends and not as much for the non-writers. If you are not sure you want to hang around for a few more hundred words, please be my guest and we will catch you next time.
I personally know a couple of real live, published authors. I have found that they are the kind of highbrow and very eclectic types that you expect them to be. I think that it is okay to have a quirk or personality flaw as long as you have found success in the writing world, it is probably mandatory if we are honest with ourselves. For those who haven’t found that success yet, one can easily pull off the writer image by wearing a tweed jacket with the leather patches on the elbows. Or have a signature look messy hair or off brand reading glasses that announce to the world that they belong in the club but just haven’t been discovered yet. I have never owned a tweed coat and I’m really sure that I will never know what it feels like. I don’t have crazy hair, I don’t wear designer glasses and my mismatched socks are always unintentional. I like to think I am closer to the everyman image than the Hemmingway stereotype. But then again, I couldn’t pick Hemmingway out of a lineup with a picture.
Being in the writing club takes hard work but spotting the classic ups and downs that are central to a killer story is something any knuckle-dragger can do. When my son and I were at the WWE event Saturday, the constant thought running through my head was how brilliant the original writers of wrestling were. Maybe it goes back to Shakespeare and maybe it came before or after. I don’t know, but what I do know is they rely on the tried and true methods of suspense and drama, mixed with flawed good characters and marginally evil foils. It is a compelling mix and I think the successful writer can employ it in just about all genres. In wrestling there isn’t about good guys and bad dudes. It is about the baby face and the heel. I don’t know where the terms came from but they have stuck and are signature terms within the wrestling community.
The face is always the good guy and has evolved in the last 20 years. The old school face would never cheat, always obeyed the authority while using hard work and effort to overcome the heel and win in the end. In the modern era, many faces have resorted to fighting authority or cheating to win but they are still the face because the over whelming body of their work is positive and uplifting in their journey to success.
The heel is the bad dude. They will lie, cheat and steal to win. They provide the opposing force that allows the face to show their good side. Often they will attack from behind, insult the fans and strut around like an overactive rooster. Their job is made perfect when they block the face from achieving their goals.
Armed with this knowledge, the writers in the world of professional wrestling are able to script a marvelous storyline within each match. In a microcosm, each match is a building block that allows the writers to work through a storyline. This is important because in today’s world, each run up in the story ends with a major event that is usually carried on a pay per view type format. In the WWE, they have at least six major matches every year and they are constantly working towards building up the next event. Sunday, there was another pay per view known as the Royal Rumble. The storyline for this event is the World’s Heavyweight Champion to defend his belt against twenty-nine other wrestlers in a one against all match. The Champ starts out in the ring alone and every two minutes another wrestler will be sent into the ring to fight. The only way to be eliminated is to be thrown over the top rope with the feet touching the floor. Imagine all the chaos that occurs after the first ten wrestlers are in the ring trying to toss other people out with another twenty waiting in the background for their time. The new heavyweight champion will be the last man that is left in the ring.
You might think I am talking about wrestling here, but I am talking about writing. Imagine all of the different storylines that will be played out during this thirty-minute event. In your writing, you have so many opportunities to create story arch’s in your main character’s life. I encourage you to ramp up your work, thinking about heels and chaos. A good heel doesn’t have to be bad, they might just be overly arrogant and underserving of their success. Their success mocks your main character’s hard work and dedication to their craft. Or maybe the lied on an application or they stole a secret that they parlay into success. Maybe they badmouth their co-workers and say the right words in the board room. A good heel doesn’t have to be purely evil, just committed to themselves and not the common good.
Likewise, a good face doesn’t have to always be the hero. Wonderful stories have come from the idea that a good person did something bad and then that have to live with those consequences. If you find that you are stuck in your writing process, maybe a good way to jumpstart your mind is by watching a match on YouTube or submitting to the horror of watching it on television. Just like reading with a critical eye, watch the match for the pacing of the wrestlers, the timing, and the interaction between them and the crowd. Look for opportunities to cheat, segments of story building and moments of drama building. Pay attention to the referee as he is as much a part of the match as the face and heel. He has a role to play and to be effective he has his own story arch too. His presence isn’t as overt as the wrestlers but he is critical to the entire context of the story. In your writing, maybe you need a character like a referee who is intended to be neutral but in reality they are inept, corrupt or distractible which leads to conflict for your main character.
I wish you all the best and I hope this helps you in your writing. In the next few weeks, I will be devoting at least one week in support of a good FOR (Friend of Rob) Heather Fitzgerald as she is promoting her first novel although I am considering working in an article about the Super Bowl and how the Panthers are going to carve up Broncos and send Peyton into the sunset with the largest loss of his career.
Until next time, keep on rocking!
Living The Dream…
Out here in the world trying to recover from the holiday season, which at my work is better known as Peak. Thanks in large part to career choices (chasing seniority and quality of life over money), I survived Peak relatively unscathed. I worked three weeks consecutively but was able to be home for Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. All is quite well.
Over the past three weeks, I ran across a news story and a video that I wanted to share with you today. We will go serious first and end in a positive, upbeat, humorous place.
In March 2003, I was lying in a tent waiting for the Iraq War to kick off. My crew and I were talking because there was nothing else to do. I had slept until I was hungry and eaten MREs until my colon was locked up tighter than Fort Knox. The only thing left to do was to muse about every topic under the sun. The topic of why we were over there preparing to kick the ever living snot out of the Iraqi people came up. My Flight Engineer, Paul S. who is by far the smartest person I have ever known, explained it easily. Saddam pissed off the Saudis.
“So, why do they care? Is it a religious thing?” I asked.
“No, they are both Sunni. He is a Baathist. They are Wahhabi.”
“I don’t know what any of that means.”
“Pretend they are all Baptists. One is Southern Baptist and the other is Missionary Baptists. They just have a disagreement over the tenants of their faith.”
“So we are going to kill them all, just because they don’t believe in water immersion?”
“Well it is more about oil and power than religion. The religion aspect comes into play when you compare the Sunni and Shia.” Paul said.
“I don’t know what that means either.”
“Very basically, it all goes back to after the Prophet Mohammad died and who would become the next Caliph…”
“What is a Caliph?”
“Prophet, their spiritual leader.”
“Like the Pope?”
“Yes, kind of like that.” Paul said.
Paul pulled himself out of the folding chair and went into the tent. He came back with a book and tossed it in my lap. Read this then we will talk some more. A few hours later, I was able to have a slightly more intellectual discussion about the intricacies of the Muslim faith with Paul. It was refreshing to read and learn about a group of people that represent about 1/3rd of the world’s population. If a dummy like me could have a basic grasp of a major religion and how it factors into international politics, then I naively believed that all the smart people that serve in the government and news media would have an even deeper understanding of the religion and what role the United States should play in navigating the complexities of the world.
I don’t watch the news very often and when I do, I am constantly amazed at our lack of understanding of the religion. To lump all Muslims into the same boat is like trying to lump all Christians under the same tent. As you drive down your street, you will see about ten different demonization of Churches. If you were able to select the same topic for the ten different preachers to talk about in their sermon on Sunday morning at the same time, you would get about ten different experiences. There would be a common theme but the ending would vary greatly depending on how they view their faith. The exact same thing is true of the Muslim religion, they all have a different perspective on their faith.
What I am about to say is overly simplified for the ease of your understanding. Under the Muslim religion there are two major beliefs. Sunni and Shia. It goes back to the proper successor following the death of the Prophet Mohammad. The Sunni believed the next Caliph should have been the most capable student of the prophet. The Shia believed that the bloodline of the Prophet should be the deciding factor in choosing the next successor. You and I might not think it is a big deal, but we know what happens when you lock a Southern Baptist Pastor and a Northern Methodist Minister in a room telling them to work out a plan of salvation.
Right now, the Sunni and Shia are in an open, shooting war. This war is taking place between two nation states in the countries of Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yemen. This war extends to economics, politics, religion, and all aspects of their society. The principal players in this war are Saudi Araba and Iran. The Saudi’s are Sunni and the Iranians are Shia. It is hard to understand who, what, when, where, and why of the Middle East until you view it through the lens of Sunni and Shia. Then the picture is quite clear. ISIS is Shia. The rebel forces in Syria are largely Shia. The rebel forces in Yemen are Shia. Contrastingly in Iraq, the rebel forces are Sunni.
If you want to know why the United States is having a difficult time navigating the political nightmare in the Middle East. Read this article and look at the map. The USA approaches each nation as an individual, separate nation and in each case our national policy approach ends at the border. In the neighboring country we take a totally opposite approach. We do not approach the Middle East in a coordinated manner and we are seeing the fruits of our schizophrenic national policy. It drives me crazy when the potential Presidential candidates can’t figure this out. The media doesn’t have a clue about any of this and I wish someone would ask the simple question of the candidates. What is the difference between the Sunni and Shia?
Now, that you are armed with some knowledge. Take three minutes and read this article from the website Zerohedge. It is a great website because it dives behind the curtain of information and gets to the fundamentals of what is really going on. To be fair, some of it is black helicopter, conspiracy type stuff about the economy and government. But I promise you that you will not get any of this on CNN or FOX News. By the way, I was told about this site by my good friend and still smartest guy I have ever known. Paul S.
I promised you a humorous story to end the article. When I first started working for my current company, I was a Flight Engineer on the 727. That means that I was the lowest ranking crew member on the airplane. I was much younger and hardly had any gray hair. A few years ago, I picked up the phrase “Living The Dream” when I was asked how I have been doing. I don’t know where I picked it up or how long I have been saying it but it has been a while.
So as new crew member, I was in Providence, Rhode Island. I know it was there because I have only been there once in my airline career. I don’t like the trip because it is a long flight, less than desirable hotel with nothing close by to walk and get food. Anyway, I was standing outside under the covered parking area talking to the valet when he got called inside. He said good bye and went in.
I continued to stand there next to valet podium waiting on the other two crew members so we could go to work. I have my dark pants, starched white shirt, dark stripped tie, Identification badge around my neck and epaulets on my shoulders. I did my best to enjoy the crisp, autumn night when a guy in his Mustang pulled up.
He parked right in the middle of the breezeway, hopped out leaving the car running. “Do you mind if I park here for a few minutes?” He asked.
I looked around to make sure if he was talking to me. I was still alone next to the podium. “I don’t care. Take your time.” I replied.
He passed the other two crew guys in the hallway and we got on the shuttle and left. I have no idea what happened when the real valet came back out to find the car running in his parking area but I still chuckle when I think of that thirty seconds of my life. The other night, a friend showed me this video about “Living the Dream.” It is about four minutes long and if you want to know about the life of an airline pilot, I can’t think of a better example. If this had come out before that Topgun movie, I might have a different career.
Until next time, keep on rockin.
I hope everyone survived the Christmas season and with the week pointed directly at New Year’s Day I wanted to get a head start on the resolution process. Every year it seems like we are guilted into making a resolution that we have no desire to complete and very predictably we fail to uphold that resolution. My resolution for is that this is the last article that I am going to write this year. You can expect no new content until 2016. I hope this little story time will be able to hold you over. Until then, I wish everyone a Happy Holiday and I can’t wait to see you all on the other side.
I would like to share a quick story from life and make a real life application that you can either put into your life or you can share with your kids in hope of a better tomorrow. Some of this really happened, some of it is slightly exaggerated and some of it is a total fabrication. Up to you to decide what is what.
Yesterday my family went out to a local restaurant for lunch following Church. For many reasons, we were out of our normal routine so we were in a different restaurant at a different time. We were all out of sorts but all was well. The restaurant was busy so I dropped my wife off at the front door and waited with the kids while she checked the waiting time. She texted for me to park and come inside. That entire process took five minutes. When we walked into the lobby, my wife had a slightly different look on her face but being a typical man, I didn’t think anything about it.
My son was fascinated by a metal statue of a skeleton that stood in the lobby. I know that sounds weird and it takes more time to explain that you want to read so you will have to trust me when I say that it was okay. He and I were looking at the statue when my wife started to tell me that she ran into one of her former boyfriends while we were parking. I looked around for the guy when another family from the community that we know comes in and interrupted her story.
My wife has put in too much work to shape me into a slightly tolerable husband to just up and leave me for some yahoo that she knew fifteen years ago so there was no drama because she ran into one of her ex’s. I really don’t care about any of her past boyfriends, so other than wanting to check out the competition and see who he chose to replace my wife, I am really not worried about him. I guess it is one of my many flaws. While we were talking with the family that we know, my wife saw me looking around and not listening to the conversation. She knew what I was doing and she simply said that they had already sat down. That was a gentle reminder for me to pay attention to what our friends were saying.
I’m not either of these Rob’s. photo from yahoo.
Finally, we sat down and I took my time scoping out the competition. I see one guy and his family on the other side of the restaurant. Tall, good looking, well dressed with a nice looking family. I mark him down as a potential target. A different guy in a different section of the restaurant looked like a doctor type. He was slightly balding and about ten pounds heavy but sporting the Rolex and the spoiled rotten, soccer mom. I marked him as target number two. The third guy was much heavier but obviously an athlete under the girth. Big mountain type of a guy, flowing gray locks of hair and an easy smile. Target number three in sight. My mind started to wonder about the three men that I only know one thing for sure. His name is Rob.
My wife and I never really shared much about our past relationships with each other because it really doesn’t matter. We might not be perfect but we are perfect for each other and that is what is important. The one thing I did manage to get out of her; actually I got this from her former co-workers just after we got married was that every guy she dated was named Rob. There were so many Robs that her friends developed a system to keep them all straight. There was Rob, “original recipe.” Then came Rob “extra crispy,” Rob “chicken fingers”, Rob “broiled chicken sandwich,” Rob “southern style chicken sandwich,” and Rob “chicken nugget.” I think I was Rob “chicken liver.”
Again, she knew what I was thinking and she proactively told me that I was looking for “extra crispy.” She said that he was sitting on the opposite side of the restaurant and pointed out the table. Targets two and three were eliminated but number one target was in sight. Across the restaurant, I focused with laser like intent studying every visible detail. Not jealous, but curious. Kind of like an archeologist who discovers a new site to be unearthed. Looking backwards, into my wife’s life I started to paint a mental image of who this guy was and who he is now.
She knows what I am doing and she tells me to walk to the restroom so I can get a better look at him. I told her I could see him fine. I was trying to get a better look at his wife to see who he got to replace her. Curiosity got the best of me and I had to ask who dumped who. She said that she was the dumper and he was the dumped. That makes his wife the rebound woman and from a distance it appeared that he didn’t panic when she told him to hit the road. I was thinking that he actually did okay from an appearance standpoint. My son wanted to know who I was looking at so I pointed out target number one. My wife turned around in her seat to see who I was looking at. When she figured it out she said that I had the wrong guy. Her ex was a table behind the one I was focused on.
I took a hard look and then back at my wife. “Really?”
“Yes. When I was standing there I didn’t recognize him either. He was standing right in front of me and called out to me. I didn’t remember him until he said his name.” She said.
When she first pointed him out, I immediately dismissed him as a guy my wife would never consider dating and moved back to target number one. This guy had the long, semi bald, comb over that failed to cover his cranium. He had more hair in his scruffy beard than his head, more hair in his nose than his face and I shudder to think what his back looked like. Rocking the 1982, coke bottle glasses accentuated the completely un-athletic, flabby build with the out of date flannel shirt and jacked up jeans. His wife was just as physically unimpressive.
I puffed my chest out. “No wonder you dumped him.” I got my kids attention and imparted some Rob “chicken liver” wisdom. “Kids don’t date ugly people because when they get old, they just get uglier. One day you are going to walk into a restaurant and there is you’re past staring you in the face. If you date good looking people then there is a chance they won’t embarrass you twenty years after you kicked them to the curb.”
My wife got mad at me. “True beauty comes from within and he has changed a lot since I last saw him. You are a pig.”
“It is hard to make “chicken liver” look sexy. But “extra crispy” makes me look good.” I replied before stuffing another barbeque rib in my mouth that dripping sauce on my fat belly.
Until next time, keep on rockin.
Got a super busy end of the year so I will do my best to be brief tonight. The next could of days are committed to hard core, super intense study sessions as I have my yearly simulator training next week. I have already been skimming everything but it is time to go deep and get serious. If all goes well, I will be home Wednesday night so that I can do all of the Christmas shopping Thursday so I am well prepared for Friday morning. Following the weekend, I am back out on the road for a week of work and will return on New Year’s Eve. Another short break and I get to kick off the New Year with another week of work. Busy times for busy people but that isn’t what I want to talk about tonight.
I am a super psyched, hyped-up, highly motivated, kid in a candy store who can’t wait for this weekend. Saturday is a day that has been circled on the calendar for a few months now. Most of you are probably thinking that I am talking about my Arkansas State Red Wolves and their fifth consecutive bowl appearance this time in New Orleans. Well you would be wrong. I have the DVR set up and the game will be recorded, but on Saturday night I have other plans.
You might be thinking that I am going to put my Dallas Cowboys in the number one spot and will be watching them on Saturday night as they host the NY Jets in a must win game for both teams. The truth is that I am actually hoping that Dallas loses and puts me out of my misery. All they accomplish by beating the Jets is get a worse draft spot. It wont get a minute of my television watching time. I might not even waste the time to watch the highlights on ESPN.
What I am so looking forward too, is my Christmas present to myself. I bought them about six weeks ago when they went on pre-sale. Yes, there is a movie opening this weekend and yes I have tickets. Now since I have kids and other life responsibilities, I am not one of “those people” camping out for the right to get the best seats in the theater. But I will be there on Saturday night with hundreds of thousands other crazed super fans of the greatest series of movies in the history of movies. I feel like Pee-Wee Herman after 42 No-Doze, a six pack of 5-Hour Energy and a cup of coffee.
When I got my tickets, the girl who took my money asked if I was taking my kids.
I said “No.”
“Grand-kids?” She asked.
“No, one is for me and the other four I am going to sale on EBay.” She looked at me like I had three eyes. “How old do you think I am?” I replied.
“You’re pretty old with the gray hair and stuff. 55-60?”
“I’m 46 you fool. I’m too young to be a grand-dad.”
“My grandma is 43.” She replied.
I pointed at her pregnant belly and said. “You mean Great Grandma.”
She didn’t laugh.
Anyway, if you are looking for me this Saturday night at 7:05 PM. I will be that guy who is face deep in a box of buttered popcorn and slurping on the large Coke, munching on the Whoppers, while watching this year’s Oscar winning movie; Alvin and the Chipmunks.
Until next time, keep on rockin.
I hope you all are having a great day. Today, I’m sitting in the ATL terminal waiting for the next flight and can’t stop thinking about my Red Wolves. Yes, you know the world famous Arkansas State Red Wolves. Of course, I’m talking about the ASU Red Wolf team that finished 9-3 this past year. Setting a new school record for points scored and a new Sun Belt record for points scored, both records were previously held by the 2012 Red Wolves. This Red Wolves team, swept the conference 8-0 going undefeated in league play.
This Red Wolves team kept up the tradition of winning at least a co-share of the Sun Belt conference for the fifth straight year. For the first time in five years, this year’s group of Seniors actually have more Sun Belt titles than Head Coaches. That is a wonderful trend. This year the Red Wolves will be traveling to the New Orleans Bowl to play Louisiana Tech on the 19th of December at 8:00 PM, big boy ESPN.
The Red Wolves open as a 2.5 point favorite. I know it is dangerous to put money on what a 21-year-old kid will or will not do in a given situation. But right now I am leaning to advising you to hit the ATM, drain your savings account, cash in your 401K, take out a home equity line of credit, max out the credit cards, sale all of your stocks, and raid the kid’s piggy banks. Take all of that money and put it on the Red Wolves to cover the 2.5 points, you will be glad you did when you are swimming in that easy money on the 20th. Loser Tech is down this year and the Red Wolves are riding tall in the saddle. What could possibly go wrong?
Life is good if you are a Red Wolf.
Later this week, I hope to throw out a proper article about life, liberty and the right to be a Red Wolf. If you want a lesson on confirming your tweets before you tweet. Check out this from the Memphis Commercial Appeal. It was caught by Darrell Green. Nice!
Until next time, keep on rockin.