Draft Day: Movie Night with the Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars mascot Jaxon de Ville greets guests holding a Draft Day movie poster

Jaguars mascot Jaxon de Ville greets guests holding a Draft Day movie poster

The Jacksonville Jaguars are attempting to engage fans year round and provide ticket value to their season ticket holders. This year they have started a program called Jags365 which promises to have year round engagement with their season ticket holders. Last night was the first of those events this year with the Jacksonville Premiere of Draft Day staring Kevin Costner and Jennifer Garner.

Donovin Darius SpeaksThe event was invite only to select Jaguars season ticket holders, luxury suite owners, champions club and other VIPs. The audience incuded members of the local press and several current and former Jacksonville Jaguar players including 9 year Jagaurs safedy Donovin Darius. Prior to the start of the film Darius gave a very emotional speech about his experiences on draft day in 1995 and his thoughts after getting the call from coach Tom Coughlin telling him the team was selecting him with the 25th overall pick. The story ends and a loud cheer from the audience breaks out and the movie begins.

Draft Day is obviously a loving showcase of the process of the NFL Draft. It plays into our fascination with the inner workings of football. The high tension, fast paced phone calls from coast to coast as deals are made. Each team trying to gain the advantage of the other. There is the human emotion of the effects of those deals on the executives who make them and the players that are the commodity that is being traded.

Kevin Costner plays Sonny Weaver, a beleaguered General Manager for the Cleveland Browns. In the story the Browns are struggling to make their team relevant. They are reeling from the death of a popular coach and coming off an injury plagued losing season. Sonny is drafting early in the first round but not early enough to get the top rated quarterback prospect to come into the draft in years. A player who could change everything. Weaver is also dealing with life altering personal changes as well with his girlfriend and co-worker Ali who is portrayed by Jennifer Garner. Sonny gets a chance to make the trade of a lifetime to get the player every team in the NFL wants but the cost of doing so could have long lasting effects. This sets up the dramatic conflict: will he mortgage the future and end up with a superstar or a bust or will he play it safe?

Costner’s performance is very good. He plays the character as a guy who just wants to prove to himself that he has the right stuff to excel at his job. He doesn’t know what the right choices are and is trying to do the best he can. The film is very light and comedic but there are several powerful scenes leading up to the Draft Day war room drama that serves as the climax of the film. Jennifer Garner’s character isn’t as well defined but she handles it well, making her character a confident woman dealing with a job where she is frequently the only person not acting like a frat boy.

The movie uses frequent split screens to quickly show conversations from the various cities in the story (Seattle, Buffalo, Jacksonville, Phoenixm, Houston).  In a very cool special effect the characters sometimes overlap the split screen in an almost 3D effect.  In one of the opening sequences Costner’s character walks through the Cleveland offices while the head coach, played by Dennis Leary, tells a story in the war room, the split screen passes in front of Leary as if the character walks in front of him. The effect is momentarily jarring but ultimately effective and humorous instead of distracting.

The ending of course sets things right as they should be but I didn’t predict the method in which Sonny would pull of his draft day triumph. The script was well written mixing the right amount of humor into the drama, and the direction was up to Ivan Reitman’s usual standards. All in all it was a very enjoyable movie. It isn’t an award winning movie. But it was a very fun experience and I want to watch it again just to try to catch the details about the teams and players that are included in various scenes.

And Jags365 is off to a rousing start. I was very happy to have been invited to this event. It was a very enjoyable evening. Thanks Jacksonville Jaguars!

The Heroes of HealthCare

Time Magazine Cover. Photograph by Stephen Voss for TIME

At the height of the crisis that was the roll out of Healthcare.gov, while everyone else was talking about the political fallout and how the failure would effect the future of the Obama Presidency and Health Care in general, I was consumed with one basic question: What went wrong and how would they fix it. The new Time Magazine article Obama’s Trauma Team finally gave me the insight I was looking for.

I’m by trade a software developer. I’m currently the AVP of Information Technology at my company. We have a small software development team which I have been at the head of for about a decade. Our team builds data driven web applications for our enterprise along with a small eCommerce type solution. The most striking thing about the article is that the issues facing the healthcare.gov website are identical to problems our team faces every day. We handle them better at times than the government contractors did and worse at other times, but essentially the issues weren’t anything unusual in software development. The real nature of the failure seems to be lack of cohesive oversight and management of the process which is always critical and more so when you are working with a number of disconnected organizations all involved in building of the site.

What Abbott could not find, however, was leadership. He says that to this day he cannot figure out who was supposed to have been in charge of the HealthCare.gov launch. Instead he saw multiple contractors bickering with one another and no one taking ownership for anything. Someone would have to be put in charge, he told Zients. Beyond that, Abbott recalls, “there was a total lack of urgency” despite the fact that the website was becoming a national joke and crippling the Obama presidency.

The other major failure of the launch was one that many companies make all the time with their launches. A failure to launch in a way that allows for a ramp up of traffic to the site instead of just turning on the faucet and hoping for the best. This is a challenge and one that I have fought in just about every major project I’ve been involved with.

I never really had a doubt that the site would be fixed, there was too much riding on it working and as the article quotes Mikey Dickerson “It’s Just a Website. We’re Not Going to the Moon.” The article is full of great tips for how to react in a tech crisis and I found that a great many of the methods sync with my own about how such drills should be done. If you are at all interested in the subject of how they turned a site which couldn’t even handle a few thousand visitors into a site that could handle hundreds of thousands of visitors and sign up millions of people all in the span of around 6 weeks read the story.

More Disney Magic

So after a magic night at Disney we headed back to the Magic Kingdom on Friday for a few hours. The weather was really brisk and our first stop after taking an open air boat from the Wilderness Lodge to the park was to stop and buy sweatshirts to wear under our windbreakers. This accomplished we could start our day. Early in the day we took a few minutes to learn how to use the Fastpass+ service associated with our Magic Bands. This is a fantastic concept. You simply use your mobile phone to launch the My Disney Experience App and then you select up to three attractions you want to visit that day and schedule a one hour time period when you want to visit that attraction and boom..express access when you show up. We originally only really had two places in mind but walking around we remembered a third and I quickly found the ride on my phone and checked and we could get a time just a few minutes from then. I selected it and of we went. Amazing. We had another great day at the park. My wife talking me into buying season passes is the best thing I ever let myself get talked into.

Vacation Day One

Every year about this time I am counting vacation days to see if I have enough time left in the year to use them all. I usually don’t because I am notoriously bad at taking vacation. This year was no different and even after taking the next two weeks off I’m losing two days at the end of the year.

The video below contains a few scenes from my first day off. Just a little leisurely breakfast, some shopping for Christmas dinner and of course Nutmeg watching. I hope you get a little enjoyment out of watching if not as much as I did living it.

How I learned to Love Ira Glass

This American Life Logo

A few years ago while driving around town on a Saturday afternoon,  my wife and I tuned the radio to NPR and caught the first few minutes of the radio show This American Life. The narrator, Ira Glass, has a very distinctive voice and a dry humor that we just didn’t get. We turned the show off after a few minutes. For years after that any time I would hear This American Life on the radio I would change the station. It just wasn’t my thing.

This past year while listening to podcasts on my Nexus smartphone I came across This American Life again and listened to an Episode. It was Episode 505 Use Only as Directed.  The episode is a detailed look at the potential dangers in exceeding the recommended dosage for the pain reliever acetaminophen even in small amounts.  The story was fascinating and I realized that the show wasn’t, as I previously thought, just Ira Glass talking for the entire hour. He introduces the topic, usually with an anecdote and then introduces the producer for the segment who narrates their story. He comes back between acts and at the end to wrap up and give the credits.

Having gotten hooked on this episode I listened to even more episode and the more I listened to them the more addicted I became to the show. Along the way I discovered Episode 14 Accidental Documentaries which includes a very touching story about Ira Glass’ father who was briefly in radio before Ira was born. This story as well as others gradually changed my tolerance for Ira Glass’  distinctive radio style from tolerance to genuine appreciation.  His dry humor and disconcerting vocal delivery (for me anyway) became a strength of the show instead of something I could live with.

The show is truly an American treasure. The stories are fascinating and well produced. Rich in details and carefully structured. Some episodes feature multiple segments along a central theme some are full episodes about one topic. Whether it is about a Car Dealership or Hostages from a country I’d never heard of, or a physician that murdered his father I’ve yet to hear a story that didn’t entertain and educate me.

I have to cut this short now because I have 18 years of This American Life to catch up on. If you aren’t a fan you have a lot to catch up on as well.

Movie Review: Man of Steel – Google Play Version

Man of Steel Movie Poster

So +Jeanne Sutton and I watched Man of Steel on Google Play this week. I really can’t figure out why this movie got the support it did. This could be the second worst superhero movie I’ve ever seen (comfortably ahead of that abomination by Seth Rogan).

The Krypton scenes were long, confusing, and boring.  The use of flashbacks to tell Clark’s story was disjointed and the fact that Lois is able to discover his identity in about 2 minutes of screen time makes the Clark/Kal look inept and stupid.

When the film finally gets to to the action phase of the plot they seem to be more interested in destroying digital scenery rather than actually having any kind of real story.  I literally chuckled out loud when they damaged a orbital satellite thinking to myself of course they destroyed everything on Earth they had to move into space to continue the destruction.

The climactic scene was horrible, if that was the way to resolve the conflict Superman could have done resolved it an hour earlier. It was a weak resolution (almost weaker then the earth spinning nonsense from Superman the Movie).

Above all the whole genetic plot line was goofy and went nowhere. And ultimately there didn’t seem to be a coherent message to the film.

I really think Christopher Nolan needs to stop doing superhero movies. He really has lost his feeling for them. The final Batman movie was clearly the worst of the latest trilogy and his treatment of the Man of Steel was worse.

Stephen Morton/AP

Surprise! Sports Illustrated Article by Don Banks does right by Jaguars

Stephen Morton/AP

Stephen Morton/AP

I’m not a Don Banks fan, he gets it wrong about as often as he gets it right in my opinion, but his article about the  Jacksonville Jaguars  and Gus Bradley is a good read and comes off as fair and optimistic about the future of the franchise. He gets extra points for not rolling out the usual bullshit rumors about the franchise moving.

Getting better in Jacksonville isn’t a particularly high bar to shoot for, of course, after last year’s 2-14 nose-dive. But with Bradley in charge, and his players on board, the Jaguars have made a change that might finally make a difference.   — Don Banks 

Immediately following the very disappointing  27-3 loss to the Dolphins in the preseason opener, Bradley gave a post game speech  that was inspiring. It wasn’t sugar-coated it pointed out the mistakes but stressed they were things that were in their control, challenged them to fix those things and get better. He was pumped up after a loss not because he was in denial or lying to his players but because he is consistent in his message that the goal is to get better every day.

Gus Bradley seems like the real deal. I hope that this plays out this season. The early games are likely to be ugly hopefully by the second half of the season we will see a young team coming together and showing promise for next season.

 

Let me do right to all, and wrong no man.