The Not-So-Silence of the Rams

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Cordinator

We had reached week fourteen in the NFL, and no coach had been fired so far. It was such an anomaly, I almost wrote about it in this space last Sunday. As bad as it’s been in places like Buffalo and Jacksonville, no one had pulled the trigger yet and it looked like everyone would be safe until Black Monday.

I should have known better.

The Rams fired Jeff Fisher Monday, one day after he tied Dan Reeves for the all-time lead in losses for head coaches.

You might think that would be either a sign of mercy, or of utmost frustration. You’d be right either way.

Since the Rams lost Sunday to the Falcons, then had to turn around and get Gilmered by the Seahawks three days later, you’d also would think seventy-two hours notice wouldn’t be the best time to dump your head coach, but that’s part of the magic of Jeff Fisher.

The NFL waited more than twenty years to bring a franchise back to Los Angeles, but Thursday’s pummeling was another night where most of LA didn’t bother to watch. Let’s face it, there’s other things to do in Los Angeles. There’s movies, shows, restaurants, the beach, and complaining about the Lakers to do, they don’t need the Rams. And for that matter, they don’t need a barely-adequate Chargers team, either, unless they’re going to combine both teams and make one good one. In the land of casual plastic surgery, LA would at least respect that.

I’m a little bit depressed about it, to be honest. I had about six Jeff Fisher jokes I was saving for the rest of the season. Learn from my mistakes, kids. Never save your best material.

So the Rams are the first team to drop their head coach, I’ll put the over/under at three additional coaches fired by the time Black Monday is done. And while discussing other people’s employment seems to be a morbid thing, that’s life in the NFL. It’s also life in television, as I remember from trips to Walmart when I couldn’t get through the checkout line without someone asking me about my TV news colleagues and if they had been fired. I’m certainly not going to feel bad about it at this point in my life.

On to the picks. Last week I went 3-3, and also 3-3 against the Las Vegas spread. I always enjoy being as accurate as a coin. For the season I’m now 57-32-1 straight up, and 36-50-3 against the spread.

Here’s the picks for week fifteen.  Remember, these are for the purposes of discussion only. As always, no wagering. And since last week, I was right at coin-flip level, I’m also going to flip a coin and see if I can beat that.

Detroit (+4) at NY Giants: Odell Beckham Jr. is making a living dropping easy passes and then turning around to make amazing plays. If he was a rapper, he’d have to pay Terrell Owens for sampling his career.
Pick: Lions to win it outright.
The coin says: Go with the Lions.

Jacksonville (+5.5) at Houston: The AFC South championship is basically a door prize, all you have to do to win is be present. And not be Jacksonville.
Pick: Texans to win and cover, which means I think they’ll win by six or more.
The coin says: Take the Jaguars. My coin may have been drinking, it seems.

Tampa Bay (+7) at Dallas: The number one reason to let Tony Romo go this offseason was the talk this week about whether or not Dak Prescott should be benched. Keeping Romo is like getting married, but letting your long-time girlfriend keep living in the guest room. Bad ideas abound.
Pick: Cowboys to win, Buccaneers to cover, which means I think Tampa Bay will lose by less than seven points.
The coin says: Cowboys.

Pittsburgh (-3.5) at Cincinnati: The two trademarks of this rivalry are cheap shots by Vontaze Burfict and an injury to Le’Veon Bell. And at this point, Steelers fans are rooting against those, but Bengals fans are still hoping for both,
Pick: Steelers to win and cover.
The coin says: Bengals.

Green Bay (-6) at Chicago: My rule is, if Matt Barkley can make people forget about you, then you weren’t very memorable to begin with. And this rule applies to pro football, college football, and life in general.
Pick: Packers to win and cover.
The coin says: Packers. My coin likes Aaron Rodgers as both a quarterback and a commercial spokesman.

Cleveland (+10) at Buffalo: Marcell Dareus guaranteed a win for the Bills over the winless Browns this week. That’s not exactly Jimmy Johnson putting it in “three-inch headlines” the Cowboys would beat the 49ers, is it? That’s more like promising to not trip on a speedbump on the way into Target.
Pick: Bills to win, Browns to cover the spread.
The coin says: Browns.

I’ll also take Western Kentucky over Memphis in the Boca Raton Bowl, Tulsa over Central Michigan in the Miami Beach Bowl, and none of those teams to want to go home after spending a week in Florida in December. Good luck, everybody.

– Reid Kerr talks a lot, as his wife always reminds him. Reid’s second book, “I Hate It Here: A Love Story,” is out now on Amazon.com. You can always tweet questions, comments, and angry messages to him at @reidaboutit.

The Power of NFL Power Rankings

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

People ask me a lot about “Power Rankings,” which is something the sports media came up with to give the NFL the feel of the most frustrating part of college football.

Yeah, I hate those.

Every media outlet has them. I actually get updates on my phone when ESPN’s power rankings come out every week, telling me where certain teams have gained ground or lost steam.

Even more important newsflash: No one cares. [Read more…]

Reid’s NFL Picks: How To Know When You Know Nothing

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

The NFL season is finally here. Not the training camps, not the preseason, not the fantasy football season, but the actual season where games are played that actually matter.

Offer not valid in Oakland or Tampa Bay.

While week one is cause for great excitement, it’s also a place for overenthusiastic wagering. Week one is a mystery for point spreads. The numbers are timid because we really don’t know about most of these teams yet. We think San Francisco will be awful because…well, we have eyesight, but we can’t be sure yet so they open up as 2.5 point underdogs hosting the Vikings, because we think they’re supposed to be good. Next week, we could realize we’re all wrong and change our attitudes for week two.

In week one, I’m always a bit timid. I tend to play the unders, and I try and be as observant as possible. A couple of years ago Houston and Atlanta were trendy Super Bowl picks, and they wound up two of the worst teams in the league. There’s about a 50% turnover in playoff teams every season, and it starts here. As of Sunday, last year’s results are completely irrelevant, unless you’re looking to fire your coach or general manager. And yes, I’m looking right at you, Cleveland.

One game is in the books already and it was about as good of a season-opener as we could hope for, considering both teams put their centers on injured reserve and both starting running backs were suspended for the same instance of pot possession.

By the way, that’s got to be a league first. I don’t know if anyone keeps stats on that, but they probably shouldn’t, just for the good of society.

We learned things too. Rob Gronkowski is impossible to stop, especially when you don’t actually try and cover him. Tom Brady bears a huge grudge from the NFL trying to suspend him for that thing he definitely did. And the performance of the night came from Luke McCown, in a series of Verizon commercials.

Thursday night, I started the season with a push. For those of you who don’t understand the lingo, the Patriots were favored by seven points to beat the Steelers. That means if you take New England and they win by more than seven, you win. Less than seven, you lose. If they win by exactly seven because of a last-second, pointless, meaningless, consolation prize of a touchdown with ten seconds left…then it’s called a push. They “push” your money back to you, and you “push” yourself away from the table and go to the bathroom to cry.

You get your money back, but not the three hours of your life you spent watching the game, nor all the time you wasted counting your profits when New England was up by 18 points. So yay, I start off at 0-0-1, which absolutely has to be foreshadowing for a long long season.

Here’s my picks for week one. Remember, these are for the purposes of discussion only. As always, no wagering.

Green Bay (-7) at Chicago: I picked the Packers to win the Super Bowl. I’m not sure I could pick the Bears to win at Jenga.
Pick: Packers

Kansas City (+1) at Houston: The old football saying goes, “If you have two quarterbacks, you have none.” It really seems like the Texans franchise should be somewhere around negative-eleven quarterbacks by now.
Pick: Chiefs

Cleveland (+3) at NY Jets: The Over/Under on this game is under forty. Again I say, forty. If you watch this game, no matter who wins, you lose.
Pick: Jets

Miami (-4) at Washington: If you’re expecting me to start making fun of Washington in week one, you’re going to be disappointed. It’s a long season folks, I’ve got to pace myself.
Pick: Dolphins

New Orleans (+2.5) at Arizona: This could be a really good Arizona team if Carson Palmer stays healthy, which is like saying this will be a good cross-country trip to Disneyland if we don’t have any problems with our 1972 Dodge Dart.
Pick: Cardinals

NY Giants (+6) at Dallas: Eli Manning just got a huge new contract. That means he either believes in the long-term health of his team, or he just doesn’t want to have to move and sell his house. I’m betting the latter.
Pick: Giants

I’ll also take Marcus Mariota to have a higher QBR than Jameis Winston in their match-up, Browns/Jets to go under 39.5 points total, and that “Blindspot” show to last one season. Good luck, everybody.

– Reid Kerr talks a lot, as his wife always reminds him. Reid’s novel “The Great Texas Trailer Park Escape” is available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com. You can always tweet questions, comments, and angry messages to him at @reidaboutit.

(This article originally appeared in the Tyler Morning Telegraph.)

“The Dreamer’s” Lora Innes On Webcomics, X-Men, and American History

A seventeen year-old high school girl dreams herself into the American Revolution every night, and a life of romance and action in “The Dreamer,” a comic from creator Lora Innes. “The Dreamer,” which began as a web comic and is now also published by IDW, is simultaneously an adventure and a history lesson, all wrapped in Innes’ gorgeous artwork.

Innes was kind enough to sit down at the midway point of her book for a quick interview.

Lora Innes' "The Dreamer" Volume 3
Reid Kerr: Lora, thanks so much for taking time for this interview. Tell me a little bit about The Dreamer, where did the idea for this book originally come from?
Lora Innes: One morning I woke from a very vivid dream and I couldn’t shake the sense that there was something important I still had do there. I had a strong urge to go back and finish the dream. Of course I couldn’t, but the experience spawned the idea: What if you could go back?

If you believed you had great purpose in another world how would that affect your “real” life?

Would things that were once important to you now feel meaningless? Would frustration set in? Would you begin pulling away from the people you love?

I had just gotten back from a summer spent cleaning up New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. As difficult as relief work was, it was nothing next to the return to suburban life. Potlucks and parties and window shopping made me sick.

Wrestling with questions of purpose and significance was particularly meaningful to me at that point in my life.

I am still haunted by my Katrina summer. I might spend the rest of my life looking for it.

Reid: Were you always a fan of that period of history, or did this book require a lot of research for you? How important to you is it to be historically accurate, or is that something you’d sacrifice for the story if the need arose?
Lora: Writing the comic did require a lot of research but not knowing much about the Revolution turned out to be a strength.

I had no idea the Revolutionary War lasted eight years. Or that the Americans lost most of the battles. The situation for most people was dire—money was scarce, disease rampant, and what food they did have was taken by one of the two armies.

Sometimes when you are very familiar with a subject your writing can feel tired or insular. Because everything was new to me, I was able to come at the material with fresh eyes.

The Dreamer is a work of fiction, but I have tried to remain faithful to the historical facts as I understand them.

Events have been changed in order to make the story stronger but most of these changes pertain to time. War for a soldier is mostly sitting around waiting, so I condensed things to keep the suspense high.

Reid: How far does this story go, in your mind? When you created The Dreamer, did you have an idea how long this story would take to tell? How far in the future do you have the book scripted out?
Lora: The Dreamer series will be six volumes in all. So Volume 3 ended at the midpoint. It’s a pretty good cliffhanger, if I can so. Everything changes for Bea after this.

Until this point, the story followed a specific group of soldiers known as Knowlton’s Rangers. The next volume shifts the focus away from the military and onto George Washington’s spy ring.

The ending of The Dreamer has been planned since the first issue. I know the overall events that need to happen but I need to do more research before I’m able to start writing it.

The webcomic is currently on hiatus until I finish this second wave of research.

Reid: You’ve had a long relationship with IDW, but you also have a strong web presence. How do you see your webcomic in terms of your overall plan for the book, and your career?
Lora: In my initial conversation with IDW about publishing the graphic novels, Ted Adams, their president, and I were in sync about the importance of keeping the webcomic active. We both understood that my online readers are also the graphic novels’ main customers.

The online readers are a very passionate and committed group. They love the comic, but they also love the community. Real friendships have grown in the comments section. A few years ago we had a Dreamer Meet-Up at Anime Boston and it was wonderful and surreal to meet everyone in person.

I think the readers have made The Dreamer what is today. I might try another project outside of webcomics, but The Dreamer will always remain online.

Reid: Doing the book on the web probably has its own set of problems and deadlines, but is it especially satisfying to get that immediate feedback from telling your story on the web?
Lora: Of course. By the time a graphic novel becomes available in print, you’re onto other things. So the work inside is no longer your best work. I feel this way every time a volume is released—all I can see are the mistakes.

But with the webcomic, what I drew that week people see on Friday. So I’m still excited about the page when it goes live.

Knowing that people are at their computers at midnight hitting refresh until the new page arrives is very rewarding as a creator.

And it helps me stay on schedule. Accountability is a great safeguard against procrastination!

Reid: When did you become a fan of comics? Is there a particular book or story arc that really stands out to you as a fan?
Lora: I began reading X-Men comics in middle school.

The first comic I owned was Uncanny X-Men #303 where Illyana Rasputin dies from the incurable Legacy Virus, the Marvel Comics equivalent to AIDS. One of the junior members of the team reads the unconscious Illyana The Little Match Girl, then cries in the arms of the usually-unshakable Wolverine.

The only villain in the issue is death.

The marginalization of mutants is a fictitious depiction of the Civil Rights movement and so the best stories in X-Men have always wrestled with the question: What does it mean to be human?

Even as a young person I valued this kind of writing and finding it in a comic book was so surprising that it hooked me.

Reid: What advice would you have for other comics creators who are thinking about going the webcomic route?
Lora: Writing webcomics is different than graphic novels in that each page needs to have a cliffhanger, no matter how small.

My philosophy is that every single update must bring enough resolution from the previous page to allow the reader to feel satisfied but then present a new cliffhanger to drive them back to your site for the next update. Basically every page must be its own mini-story.

I co-host a podcast called the Paper Wings Show that is all about elevating the way we make comics. My Paper Wings blog series Three Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Started My Webcomic is a pretty good place to start.

Reid: What’s your dream in the comics industry? Where would you like to do next?
Lora: Though superheroes were my gateway into comics, I haven’t read a mainstream comic in years. As my career in the comics industry has grown I’ve been exposed to the breadth of what we call “comics.”

My interest has shifted away from superheroes and these days my bookshelf is filled with literary graphic novels. These stories tend to bring together my love of drawn stories with topics and themes more commonly found in literature.

I am really drawn to what is happening in that corner of the industry and I want to be a part of it. My next book will definitely be a self-contained graphic novel, not an on-going series.

And you might see something of the sort from me sooner rather than later.
You can find Lora Innes and “The Dreamer” on the web at TheDreamerComic.com, and also on Facebook and Twitter at @lorainnes.

— Reid Kerr loves a good webcomic.

(Parts of this article were originally published here at Examiner.com.) ExaminerLogo

The Official Unofficial 2014 NFL Draft Timeline

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

Draft Week, Monday, May 5, 2014: In a year where there is no consensus number one draft pick, Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports that Cleveland will draft Johnny Manziel with the fourth pick, if he’s available.

Tuesday: Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reports that Cleveland will definitely not draft Manziel with the fourth pick.

Wednesday: Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports that Jay Glazer looks like a football with a goatee.

Thursday morning, Draft Day, May 8, 2014: A quick look at the major news outlets and their final mock drafts reveals that they have every single team trading down out of the first round.

12:30 p.m. Eastern – The Houston Texans let it be known that they would trade the first pick in the draft away for three number one picks, two number twos, and a weekend in Amsterdam with Johnny Manziel. [Read more…]

The Majestic Silliness of The Kentucky Derby

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

The Kentucky Derby is a race like none other. The event is the stuff of legend, of tradition, a singular moment in a sport that only exists for most people for two minutes a year. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, that’s held annually. It’s majestic and grand, but also quite silly and sad.

Of course, I didn’t go to the actual Kentucky Derby. My main interest in going was to recreate the Hunter S. Thompson classic, “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent And Depraved,” which didn’t appeal to the folks at Churchill Downs then, and still doesn’t, apparently. [Read more…]

NFL Draft: The Pressures Of Drafting Quarterbacks

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

You know that moment in your fantasy football draft where no one has a kicker or defense, then someone drafts one, and suddenly you feel like if you don’t take one immediately you’ll be as bad a general manager as your average Jaguars front office person?

Yeah, that happens this year with quarterbacks. [Read more…]

Why I’ll Miss The BCS

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

I’ll miss the BCS.

I know, for a sports fan it’s like saying you miss polio, or you wish someone would bring back smoking on airplanes or Lou Bega.

But for what it was, the BCS served a purpose.

BCS-logo

Oh, it certainly wasn’t perfect. And that was part of the charm. The BCS was halfway between the old, poll-driven method and next year’s playoff bracket, and gave us some great games, some tough decisions, and enough controversy to keep sports fans talking for months and months. [Read more…]

Reid’s NFL Picks: Every Sunday Is An Adventure

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

Thanksgiving weekend was an incredible time for football, with three games on the holiday, fantastic finishes for Auburn-Alabama and Michigan-Ohio State on Saturday, and then Sunday, sports fans could relax and revel in a series of games that could be optimistically described as “eh.”

That’s the beauty of football, sometimes you tune in and get the Alabama-Auburn finish, and sometimes you get a drowsy overtime game between the Vikings and the Bears that seems to come down to who wants it least. [Read more…]

Lucky Fan Nails Justin Bieber With Bottle (with video)

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

Brazil is good for more than cocaine and soccer riots, it seems. We can now add high-caliber prostitutes and drunken fans with good aim to the mix.

Bieber01 (1)According to Entertainment Weekly, Justin Bieber’s trip to Brazil has been pretty notable for reasons other than lip-syncing and soon-to-be-forgotten pop songs. Bieber was photographed Friday night coming out of a “notorious brothel” in Rio de Janiero.

That one’s not really that big of a deal to me. If you have the money and you’re into prostitutes, are you going to go to a “notorious” brothel, or an “ordinary” brothel? Straight up notorious all the way, man.

Perhaps Bieber’s Friday night antics left him a little bit slow on Saturday night, because he wasn’t quick enough to avoid a bottle thrown from the crowd. In this video, you can see Bieber hit by…something. The headline said “bottle,” but it looked like a bottle of milk, really. Didn’t seem like a bottle of Jack, or something that could have knocked him out. He just stood there, and then walked off and did not return.

Not exactly the antics of Axl Rose. The lesson learned here is that if you don’t like Bieber, just hit him with something and he’ll retreat to his dressing room, never to be seen again.

Watching this guy’s career arc, you can almost chart out the inevitable “Behind The Music” episode.

For the full article, click here.

Ben Affleck Set to Play Batman in the ‘Man of Steel’ Sequel

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coodinator

Ben Affleck is Batman.

Let that sink in a minute. DC Comics is foaming at the mouth to get their own super-hero franchise, after seeing the billion dollars The Avengers brought in last year. Man of Steel was a decent start (although really, is anyone still talking about it?), but now they want a Batman-Superman movie.

The studio is in an odd situation here, because now they need a big name to be Batman. Normally, superhero movies are made with either lesser-known actors (Cavill, Chris Evans, whoever the Thor guy is), or with actors who are willing to make long-term commitments (Samuel L. Jackson, Hugh Jackman). However, with Christian Bale not coming back as Batman, they needed to make a splash.

Splash. Bloop. Drown.

Generally speaking, recasting Batman gets worse every time. I don’t want to go overboard in the Affleck-bashing, because I think a lot of that is overblown. But lets face it, when you think of Batman and Bruce Wayne, you can literally go down a list of about fifty other actors before you get to the guy who made that unwatchable Daredevil movie.

Affleck deserves credit for realizing his career was in the toilet, and rebuilding it the right way. However, Affleck stepping into a big super-hero summer blockbuster isn’t the right move for anyone right now. He’s already got an identity to most movie goers, and so does Batman. The Dark Knight Trilogy made 48 bejillion dollars (rough estimate from our PSDC staff), so the next Batman movie needs to either star Christian Bale (not going to happen) or some fresh face with no prior association in our minds, who we can think of as Batman.

It doesn’t need to be the guy who made Gigli. Just saying. 

— Reid Kerr is a fully admitted comic book geek, and semi-proud of it. Follow Reid on Twitter or subscribe to him on Facebook and yell at him.

One-Line Movie Review: World War Z

By Reid Kerr
PSDC Offensive Coordinator

Exciting movie, but too PG oriented with a very disappointing ending, and a random Matthew Fox appearance.

Follow Reid on Twitter: @reidaboutit or visit reidaboutit.com