I’ve been watching this silly game, American football, for many years now. As I become older and wiser, though, questions have started coming to mind. These, I’m sure, are things the NFL doesn’t like you to think about, but that’s their problem.

So here we are… today are the NFC and AFC Championship games… it’s not quite yet, you know, the “world championship” game (presumably labeled as such because the National Football League plays a game in London every year). These are the issues I have with the NFL and the sport it represents:

1) Field Officials dictate the outcome of games. Because of problems in past years, this is the first time the NFL has institutionalized a centralized officiating crew – in New York – to confirm calls. However, the only other time I’ve heard so much noise was when the NFL used replacement officials a couple years ago. The rules are too vague, and officials haven’t given enough time to confirm reviews with the home office. Officiating has been a problem for a long time (see the “Tuck Rule” for an example – inaccurate officiating that surely allowed a team to continue through the playoffs and, ultimately, “win” a Super Bowl).

2) Subdivisions suck. The Panthers – though they put up an impressive game against Arizona – they never should have been in the playoffs to begin with. A team with a losing, regular-season record should NEVER, EVER, EVER be in the playoffs. Currently, far superior teams in some divisions get shut out of the playoffs because of the current system requiring a subdivision winner. An example is that the Panthers (NFC South, 7-8-1 record) made it to the playoffs, while the Eagles (NFC East, 10-6 record) were shut out. In fact, seven non-playoff NFL teams had more regular season wins than the Panthers.

3) Home Field Advantage and Bye Weeks. If you’re a superior football team, why do you get to skip a game AND potentially play all of your playoff games at home? If you’re so awesome, shouldn’t you have to prove, just like any other team, that you belong in the playoffs? Maybe even have all playoffs games at “neutral” sites, and we’ll see who the better teams are.

4) Back to officiating… Playoff officiating crews have proven to be especially awful. No one seems to be able to explain why officiating crews stick together during the regular season and, in the playoffs, hodge-podge crews are thrown together. The regular-season crews learn to trust and understand each other. This year, we’ve seen good calls in the playoffs get overruled because another official saw the play go down a different way. In that case, officials determine the outcome of games when it’s close – not the teams. p.s. What happened to the centralized, New York crew that confirms calls?

5) The games aren’t exciting when you realize how slow-paced they are. You know, I actually get a lot of stuff done when I have the football games on at home. I half pay attention to what’s going on. I don’t subscribe to the NFL Network, I don’t buy football swag. I get crap done and think about how much of a time suck giving full attention to the games would be. It takes, what, 3 or 4 hours to play a game that, on the game clock, officially takes 1 hour 15 minutes? Check it out next time… anytime anything happens, the NFL goes to a commercial – a touchdown, a field goal, a kickoff return, a punt return. They have A LOT of advertisers, make a CRAP-TON of money from them, AND the NFL home office is actually considered to be a NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION…………….

6) NFL IS A NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION. I didn’t know about this until grumpy (like me today) sports guy on NPR, Frank Deford, mentioned that the NFL home office falls under the category of non-profit org (listen or read at NPR here). The commissioner, Roger Goodell, made over $44 million last year. I guess it’s “not profit” if the organization is funneling its money to the boss… then it’s just “salary,” right?

Speaking of, I once volunteered to help set up for a Super Bowl, and this is the sort of thing Frank Deford was complaining about. I didn’t think about it then… I was more thinking how it was an awesome thing to be able to put on my college applications (I was in high school then), and how it would be a cool opportunity to see the field being prepared for the game millions of people across the world would watch. Now that Deford taught me a thing or two, the NFL doesn’t need any volunteers at all. They could easily pay every single person that helps out… but they don’t do it because they don’t have to – they “AREN’T IN BUSINESS TO MAKE A PROFIT.” Pfhhhhh.

7) Conflicting Rules #1. For kickoff, the clock doesn’t start until the returner catches the ball and runs it beyond the endzone. Punt the ball, and the clock starts ticking at the start of the play. I don’t get why there’s a difference.

8) Conflicting Rules #2. Kicking the ball out of bounds on kickoff results in a penalty, with the ball then normally being placed at the 40 yard line. Kicking the ball out of bounds for a punt, I guess it’s considered strategic – or a big mistake, and there’s no penalty.

9) Coach’s Challenges. Coaches are limited in the number of challenges they can make during the game (2 per half?). Considering the problem with officiating this season, coach’s should be able to challenge 3 times per half, since they have 3 time outs per half. You’re never gonna be able to convince me that shouldn’t be the case.

10) Overtime rules are stupid. Okay, check this out… two teams duke it out all game long. They’re pretty evenly matched, and the game ends in a tie. Luckily, one team ends up winning the overtime coin toss and chooses to receive a ball. They score a touchdown, like they did throughout the game (and so did the other team), but because they scored THIS touchdown, they win. That’s freakin’ goofy. The game was evenly matched, one team received the ball and scored a touchdown, and that’s it. It just seems weird.

11) I don’t buy into egocentrism/ethnocentrism. Until I stop hearing commentators saying “world champions” (yeah, I’m talking especially to you, Joe Buck) and stop seeing banners in stadiums saying the same, it’s just over-the-top and going to frustrate me. I touched on that a bit earlier, and there is nothing “world” about it. You want to see “world champions?” Watch the WORLD Cup. American football has been growing in popularity for the past few years, but it’s got a long, long way to go to be the world’s most popular sport. In the meantime, stop bringing “world” into it, or maybe show everyone how strongly you feel and call last year’s winning team the “champions of the universe.” I’d like to see how that goes.

For now, I’ve had enough. I really have. I’m turning the TV off at this point. I might come back but, for now, the NFL has a long way to go, in order to make it a legit (more than just a money-printing) operation. In the meantime, I’ll be busy living my life. See ya!

 

 

UPDATE TIME, YAY!

12) Roger Goodell, the NFL Commissioner, has no spine and/or real power on his own. There was the whole Ray Rice fiasco, and the Commish said “Okay, you punched your wife. You can’t play in the NFL ever again.” Some time passed, and an arbitrator said “You can’t do that, Roger,” and Ray Rice was reinstated. He hasn’t played yet, but he’s allowed to. Meanwhile, in the NBA, Adam Silver told not a player, but a billionaire owner, “You’re banned for life, and you have to sell your team,” and the team was sold.

THEN, on the day I wrote the original post, it turned out the Patriots had used deflated footballs, thus breaking game rules for what we assume to be THE ENTIRE GAME. Goodell, who is allegedly a good friend of Patriots owner, Robert Kraft (and a picture of the two hanging out at an event at Kraft’s mansion is on Goodell’s Twitter page), then says “Oh, well, we’ll do an investigation and let you know what we find after the Super Bowl.”

Are you freakin’ kidding me?

Okay, so some people argue “Well, judging by the score, the Colts would have gotten clobbered anyway.” Oh, so you can tell me with a straight face that the Patriots are so terrible at cheating that they’ve broken the rules a total of two times ever (Deflategate and Spygate) and got caught 100% of the time? That organization has a history of controversy, including questionable officiating, giving the team a free pass through the playoffs (see “Tuck Rule” mentioned in point #1 above). It’s much older, but also see “Snowplow Game” if you don’t know anything about it.

So there you have it… the NFL sucks, and that’s why you should stop buying overpriced nick-nacks and put that money towards retirement or a legit charity – not the NFL charity.

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On a songwriters’ forum, one poster was asking if it’s safe to post original songs to Youtube that don’t yet have a copyright (meaning registered with the U.S. Copyright Office). Here is one response:

“just have a copy of the song with an earlier date. I think that would be enough.”

Good thing it’s prefaced with “I think” because that doesn’t work. You can adjust your computer so it displays any time and day you choose. Consequently, creating a copy of any digital file with a time/date stamp isn’t going to help when it comes to making a copyright claim.

Additionally, the age-old “poor man’s copyright” technique doesn’t hold up, either. We did this a few times, many years ago, in one of the rock bands I played in: slide a CD with your original music on it into an envelope and mail it to yourself. The envelope shows the day the stamp was cancelled, so the government’s involvement makes it official, right? NO! Envelopes can be tampered with. Heck, you could probably tuck in the flap on the envelope (so as to not seal it), send it through mail that way, AND THEN plop a CD in there at any later date… or tape down the flap, send the CD, and retape it later when you’ve got a disc with more songs (or whatever) on it. Point being, the “poor man’s copyright” will, unfortunately, do nothing for you in a bind.

What you can and should do is this: pony up the $35 registration fee and make it official. Admittedly, when I first registered, I was concerned about how much it would cost. Would I have to register all my songs individually or what? Generally speaking, and be sure to read the descriptions on the Copyright Office’s website before taking this at face value: You can clump all your demos together (if the songwriters are the same on all of them) and use Form PA (Performing Arts). That registration will protest the gist of the song, melody, and words. For a completed album or final song mix, use Form SR (Sound Recording). Remember, though, bundle what songs you can together so you aren’t continually paying the $35 fee.

Registering your work can eat up a fair amount of time, and money, as mentioned. But if you’re serious about your artistic work and the time and effort put into it, you need to make sure it’s protected.

Lastly, it’s important to note that a copyright happens automatically WHEN YOU CREATE A WORK. But proving that creation is key. Whether you’ve registered or not, put one of these little doodads next to your work if you’re concerned someone might try to rip you off – ©

Here is where you can register your work (here in the U.S.) and find info that’s, you know, not on a forums or a blog! – http://www.copyright.gov

I just discovered some extreme ignorance I possess regarding one of my guitars. It’s a Paul Reed Smith Custom 22, which I’ve owned for probably seven or eight years now. Coming from the old school, plain old tuning peg world, I restrung the PRS tonight the same way I always have – locking down the string with plenty of excess slack, then continually winding the tuner until each string reaches its proper pitch. It doesn’t seem like rocket science… until you think there’s a problem with your equipment and just realize the problem is that you’re behind times.

When I got the guitar out and started this project, I thought “Hey, the tuning peg is broken! I can’t lock down the string… it keeps popping out of the string holder on the peg every time I try to wind it.” I was frustrated because, well, this guitar is really nice and has been super reliable for quite a while now. But after seeking some expert advice, this is what I found:

1) There is no need to wind the string around the machine head like on the old style tuners. Don’t do what is shown in the photo below. Rather, read on for proper instruction.

Image

 

2) My whole concept of the Paul Reed Smith winged tuning pegs was just completely wrong. When you’re finished setting up new strings, the wings on the machine heads should flare outward from the guitar, and the top and bottoms rows of tuning pegs should be fairly symmetrical.

To begin putting on new strings, loosen the cap screw just a bit (no more than a quarter turn is needed).

IMG_3487

 

Flare the wing on the machine head outward, and line up the string in the slot, as shown below. No string slack is needed.

IMG_3484

 

While holding the string in place, hand tighten the screw cap, then begin rotating the tuning peg. The screw cap will continue to tighten and, once the machine head aligns just right, the string will begin to tighten. Once tightening begins, push the flat side of the wing in towards the middle of the headstock to lock the string in place.

IMG_3489

From there, bend the string back towards itself, snip of the excess string, and continue tuning the guitar up.

 

The finished product should look similar to the photo below:

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FINALLY! After so long, this guitar has been properly strung. I’m read to rock, and hopefully you are now, too!

If you have any questions about this process, feel free to let me know in the comment section below. Additionally, if you have benefited from this post, leave a little note or consider sharing this page. Thanks!

When it comes to conducting an interview, planning ahead is very important. I recently witnessed one where, at least a few times, the interviewer looked off into space and asked “Hmmm… now what else can I ask you?” The lack of preparedness took up a lot of precious time for all parties involved, so the following will outline types of interviews and how you can effectively structure them.

 

Funnel vs. Inverted Funnel

First of all, when it comes to time constraints, there are two types of interviews – the funnel and the inverted funnel. If you imagine putting oil in your car, the funnel is wide on top with a small opening at the bottom. In interview form, the “funnel” means asking broad, general questions first, then leading in to more specific, tougher questions. The “inverted funnel” is just the opposite – asking the tough questions first, followed by broad questions.

Of course, the small end of the funnel doesn’t exactly have to consist of “tough” questions. Rather, it’s the meat and bones of your interview… it’s the reason you’re conducting an interview to begin with. Whether you ask the important questions at the beginning or the end of the interview is based on how much time you have. If you only have a few minutes, use the inverted funnel approach. If you have all day, structure your interview as a funnel.

 

Closed vs. Open-ended Questions

Once you’ve nailed down your timetable, the next step is to formulate your questions. An interview can branch off in many directions, but it’s best to have basic questions to refer to in case it doesn’t… or to get your interview back on track. In general, you want to avoid asking closed questions, which are those that can elicit a simple “yes” or “no” answer. Open-ended questions, on the other hand, are employed as a way to try to get the interviewee talking. To get an open-ended answer, formulate your questions to begin with the 5 Ws (who, what, when, where, why + how). Unless you’re seeking information to rewrite later (for something like a newspaper article or blog), avoid starting questions with “did.” Rather than asking “Did it feel great to finish the race?” ask “How great did it feel to finish the race?”

 

The Interview

Make the interviewee feel comfortable beforehand, if possible. Offer him or her some tea or water. Build some rapport so the person isn’t over-thinking what questions you might ask. If applicable, before the official interview, chat it up with small talk (but steer clear of your interview questions) by asking “How was your flight?” “Where are you from?” “How is your day?”

When it’s time for the interview, ask the interviewee his or her name and to spell it out. Professionally, there is little worse than trying to cite someone but spelling the name wrong. It’s important to note that, in the journalism field, a misspelled name can have legal repercussions.

If an interviewee doesn’t fully answer your question, it may be for a multitude of reasons, including he/she a) might not understand the question, b) doesn’t want to, c) may ramble and forget the question, and d) can’t due to lack of knowledge on the subject.

If the interview is a tough one and the source is hostile, do your best to avoid arguing. Otherwise, the interviewee might shut down, effectively ending the interview. Try getting a hostile interviewee to open up by a) revisiting/rewording a question that was previously unanswered, b) saving the tough question(s) for the end of the interview, c) offering the interviewee a chance for a rebuttal to something damaging someone said about him or her (relevant to the interview, of course), and d) providing sympathy/understanding that the answer might be difficult.

 

Examples

The following sample questions are from a reality show pilot episode I worked on a few years back. It centered around a modeling agency and the models that work for it, so these Qs should at least give you a good idea of some open-ended interview questions.

1) Please introduce yourself to the camera.
2) Please spell out your name.
3) What is your occupation?
4) Describe your first photo shoot.
5) How does it feel when you see your photos after a shoot?
6) How do you get your week started?
7) What would you say is your favorite thing about modeling?
8) How do people react when they find out you are a model?
9) What goes through your mind during a photo shoot?
10) What are your future goals in the business?
11) What were you doing before you started modeling?
12) What do Mom and Dad think of what you do?
13) Is there any question I should have asked you / is there anything you were expecting me to ask?

 

Good luck on your interview endeavors, and drop me a line below if you have any comments or other questions about the interview process.

Also, if you feel you have benefited from this post, please consider leaving a shout-out or sharing this page via one of the links below.