Thursday, September 20, 2012

Lost: Mortgage Lending Unit

I’ve never seen “Lost.” I need to. I want to. I hear nothing but good things about most of it, even the weird middle seasons where they kind of lost their way and were essentially killing time as the ratings continued to be high. It’s in my Netflix queue and once baseball season’s over and I have more free television time, I plan on finally seeing what all the fuss was about.

I am disappointed they never spun off the franchise like CSI or Law & Order, so in my futile effort to break in to the television business, allow me to suggest “Lost: Mortgage Lending Unit” for ABC’s next big television show. Below is the rough plot for the pilot, which may or may not be based on real life events.

The scene: a small, south Georgia college town where a husband, wife and young son recently moved back to after living in North Carolina. Rather than rent an apartment for a few months before buying a house, they are offered and accept a proposal to live with his parents. Sure, it’s not ideal, but it won’t last that long as they should be able to find a good deal on a house in the struggling housing market.

These people are not good
 at their jobs. Some would say
 they're incompetent
After a few months of looking, the couple finds a house they really like at a price that’s right in their price range. The only problem is it’s a short sale, meaning the sellers want to sell it at a small loss rather than enter into foreclosure. Sure it’ll ding the seller’s credit, but not as much as a foreclosure. Unfortunately, these kinds of sales take a while, so our couple is forced to live with his parents for a little longer than anticipated. It’s not ideal, but for the house they want, it’s probably worth a little more frustration.

The Plot Twist: The couple submits an offer in April, knowing it takes a few months for the file to make its way through the short sale process. April turns to May, which turns to June which turns… why am I telling you this, you know the order of the months of the year. Anyway, in August, with the couple and the realtors both the couple and the bank getting frustrated with the lack of movement on the sale, some slightly good news appears. By September 21, everything should be done and a signed contract accepting the offer should be ready. Again, longer than the couple wanted, but for the house they want, they’re willing to endure their living situation for a bit longer. After all, it’s the house they plan on spending the next 30 years living in.

On September 19, two days before everything was expected to be complete, the evil bank central to the ongoing conflict (named: SunTrust…. Wait, that may pose some copyright issues, how about SunRust, we’ll go with that so there’s no confusion), calls to say they’ve lost the file and if the couple wants to resubmit the paperwork, the entire process would need to start over.

Here’s where we’re asking the audience to suspend their disbelief. We have to assume that a multi-billion dollar corporation has no copy machines, no scanners and no electronic record keeping system to keep track of important stuff like, you know, social security numbers, private financial data or other sensitive information. Instead, there’s just a Manila folder somewhere in their evil lair with all that information floating around. We have to believe that despite being told that everything was good just a week ago, the file magically disappears during the day the guy/girl working on it was off. We have to believe that an institution entrusted with keeping the money of thousands (millions?) of customers can’t keep track of a file.

On second thought, maybe this is just too far-fetched of an idea to be made into a series. It’s not like something like this would ever happen, would it?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

God issues statement on Tebow

HEAVEN – God held a rare press conference Sunday night to respond to complaints that the New York  Jets were unable to rally from behind to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers despite the presence of Timothy (Tim) Tebow on the Jets roster.

“Look, last year was a fluke in regards to Tebow,” said the Almighty. “I kind of got swept up in everything and decided to let it go on for longer than I should have.”

The Creator of Heaven and Earth emphasized that the Broncos, Tebow’s team last year, primarily won games due to their defense and His twisted sense of humor.

“What can I say, I liked the reactions,” God said. “On one hand, you had Tebow fans who truly believed I was on their side and wanted Denver to win. On the other hand, you had people who couldn't stand Tebow and seeing him get credit for having his only decent drive of the game come on the last one. I couldn’t lose watching you people get all worked up about it.”

Despite leading the Broncos to an overtime playoff win last season, Tebow was traded to the Jets in the offseason to make way for Peyton Manning, who many believe to be significantly better to Tebow, mostly because Manning tends to throw to his receivers rather than open patches of grass.

Tebow led the Jets to a 48-28 win in their first game behind his 11 yards rushing on five carries. However, despite 22 total yards rushing in Sunday’s game against the Steelers, the Jets fell 27-10.

“Guys, you had a fun run last year, but let’s be serious for a minute. Tebow just isn’t very good at the football,” God said. “Don’t get me wrong, his skill set was great for the college game, but that isn’t going to cut it in the NFL.”

The Lord wouldn’t get in to what was in store for Tebow and the Jets for the rest of the season, but reminded fans who may be calling for starting quarterback Mark Sanchez to be benched that Sanchez is 4-2 in the playoffs over his career, while Tebow is 1-1.

“I’m not a betting man, but if you can get odds on the Jets not winning the Super Bowl, I’d take them,” God said.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Confessions of a high school football snob

I was fortunate enough to grow up in a college town. 

Fortunate in that I happened to be six when Georgia Southern won their first national championship and by the time I was 11, the Eagles added three more. Being that young, I didn’t even bother watching the fourth national championship game, even though it was played at Georgia Southern’s stadium and was on television. I grew so accustomed to the Eagles winning national titles that it wasn’t a big deal to the 11-year old version of me. It happened all the time, so I why would I watch?

I mention all this because the unprecedented success of Georgia Southern soured me on high school football. I went when I was in High School to our games, partly because I was in the marching band and partly because it was the thing to do in high school.

After college, I stayed close to Georgia Southern and only when to high school games as a freelance writer for the local paper. In other words, I had to get paid to go to a high school game. Eventually I got hired on by a newspaper and started having to “do desk,” which is industry speak for “sit in the office while everyone else is out covering games and then proofread and layout the pages when they get back.”

It’s a miserable job.

You’re in the office with one or two other people while everyone else is out in the community, watching games and having a lot more fun than me. (This is well before streaming video and tv shows was commonplace online, so there wasn’t a lot to do but sit and wait.) I unabashedly started cheering for the local teams to lose playoff games so I would no longer have to do desk.

I came to loathe high school football and everything it represented. Mostly because what it represented was being chained to a desk on a Friday night while my friends were out having fun. And really, who could really get excited about a high school game when the next day one of the top FCS teams in the nation would be playing just down the road. It was watching inferior football and getting excited about it? How? Why?

Eventually, I got so burnt out that I quit newspapers and went back to school to get my Master’s Degree.

This year, I’ve been doing some freelance work covering high school games for the same paper I previously worked for. And now, I’m loving high school football. The pageantry, the way the community rallies behind their team. I enjoy watching the players look for their girlfriends after the game and the cheerleaders hold up giant hand-painted banners for the players to run through before the game. I like hearing the PA announcer yell from the press box as though he can influence the officials and how there’s not really a “no cheering in the press box” rule.

So I’m sorry high school football. Sorry I held such a snobby attitude towards you.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Not Quite Weekend at Bernie's, but close

Dear 1998 Luke,

I don’t have much time and I’m already taking a risk by doing this, but I have to write to past me to let you know about some things. I can’t really tell you too much, but there are a few things I can mention.

First of all, don’t get your hopes up for the Cubs. Even when things look really good and they’re only five outs from the World Series, remember that they’re the Cubs. Also, if you get the chance to buy a ticket for a playoff game from a Steven Bartman, you should probably pass on that. You don’t know him now, but you’ll know his name, and you don’t want to be him.

Second, this whole internet thing seems like it might just actually work out. There’s going to come a time when you’re actually going to give up cable willingly because you can watch most of what you want on the internet. There’s also going to be time when people make Chuck Norris jokes online. You won’t find them all that funny, but the rest of the world will. Don’t worry, the fad passes.

Most importantly, I want to tell you about a really cool couple of days you’ll have over Labor Day weekend in 2012. You know how you want to be a sports broadcaster right now. Well, it’s only going to take 14 years, but you’re going to get your wish. And here’s the best part. Not only do you get to broadcast a game, but it’ll be available for millions of people. Your voice will be describing the action for an unimaginable number of potential viewers.

Now before you go thinking you’ve made it to ESPN to announce their Monday Night Football games, don’t get too excited. (Oh yeah, they move Monday Night Football to cable, but it’s basically the one thing you want to watch, but can’t without cable. You survive.) Remember that internet thing I mentioned earlier. Well, the Statesboro Herald actually gets the capability to broadcast high school football games on the internet.

Seriously. They do it on a weekly basis. It’s kind of cool. And they’ll ask you to do it in addition to writing a game story for the newspaper. It’s a lot harder than it looks. First of all, you’ll have to keep your own stats. It’s hard. You’re making notes all over the place and hoping you can read your writing. Not only that, but you don’t really know the players. You’re essentially winging it. But anyone from around the world who has internet access will be able to hear your broadcasting. That said, I doubt there’s a big clamoring for rural South Georgia high school football in London or Sydney.

I know, it’s not exactly how you see your broadcasting career starting. I’d mention more about your career path, but I don’t think I’m allowed to without risking serious violations from something called the PATRIOT ACT. I know, it sounds like that’s a good thing, but it’s really not. You’ll understand later.

One more thing I want to mention to you. You know how you love Georgia Southern football? How you can’t wait for the autumn to get here so you can go to the games? How you get into the stadium about an hour before kickoff to get a good place to stand with your friends?

And you know how much you’d love to be on the field during a game? Not as a player. Dear God, they’d kill you. Even as a kicker you’d be scared for your life. Well, what if I tell you you’ll get to do the next best thing? What if I tell you that you’ll get to stand on the sideline during a game and even walk out onto the field?

You get that chance, but there’s a catch. You know the guy wearing the red hat who stands on the field during media timeouts. That guy. The guy you hate and will wish terrible things to happen to that man because he’s making the game take forever and it’s 95 degrees in the shade and there’s no shade in sight? 

That’s you.

Now here’s the good news. First, it’s a night game, so it’s only 88 in the shade instead of 95. Second, it’s not on television, so you really can’t screw up too badly. Third, and here’s the best part, is that you get a really cool view of the game. I don’t care how fast the guys on the field look from the stands, you really can’t truly appreciate it until you see it at field level. Those guys are fast. Even the slow guys are fast.

It’s a really cool weekend. You’ll spend Sunday taking your kid to the water park in Statesboro (yes, you have a kid AND Statesboro has a water park. I know that seems strange, but you’re going to have to trust me on this one.)

One last thing. You’re going to meet a really hot girl sometime this year. The good news is 14 years later, she’s still hot.

Don’t screw up too much,

Future Luke

P.S. If you get a chance to invest Apple in the next year or so, you should really do that. It might change everything about this letter, but we’ll make it work somehow.