I was right about Herm Edwards

During Herm Edwards’ tenure at the helm of the Chiefs, I was openly critical of how I felt like he didn’t belong anywhere near an NFL sideline. He’s a joke of a “coach” and got absolutely nothing out of his players, only making it to the playoffs on the back of the weakness of the AFC West and with Dick Vermeil’s guys.

Sure, he had to deal with Carl Peterson instead of Scott Pioli, but after watching Todd Haley coach in his second season and get more out of Glenn Dorsey, Tyson Jackson, Derrick Johnson and several other players than Edwards ever did, it’s obvious to me that Edwards was unfit to be an NFL coach. For a guy who was always considered a “player’s coach”, he never got very much out of his players. He’s a nice guy and a decent TV analyst, but is an utter disaster as a head coach.

Kudos to Todd Haley for getting what was expected out of great draft picks. I’m excited to see how our young guys continue to develop under his tutelage. Herm Edwards, stay in the booth.

Matt Cassel is Better Than I Thought

This post was originally titled “Matt Cassel is over-rated,” which, if you follow me on Twitter, should come as no surprise coming from me. I’ve been openly critical of Cassel ever since he locked up his long-term deal with the team. I started writing this post the week before he was diagnosed with appendicitis, then missed the game against San Diego and we were stuck with Brodie Croyle under center for a game.

Now, I’m not going to say that I thought Croyle was going to do well and I’m not going to say that Cassel would have won the game for KC against San Diego. All that game proved to me was that San Diego is good, Norv Turner annoys me and that Croyle is an utter disaster as both a leader and a quarterback. Also, the play calling in that game was really confusing. But I digress…

I’ve had it out for Cassel since the beginning because I haven’t been able to see that he is a great quarterback. He has always been OK, maybe even good, but to call him great seemed like a stretch to me. We’re talking about a guy who never played in college and helped the Patriots when their golden boy went down a few years back. I don’t think there was anything in his resume that suggested he was going to be a high-level performer in the pros.

His statistics suggest otherwise:

  • 212/354, 59.5% completion percentage (23rd)
  • 24 TDs (7th) to only 5 INTs
  • a rating of 98.4 (5th highest in the NFL)

I suppose that despite all that, for him to have the level of success with a bunch of young, not-very-fast, bad hands receivers should impress me. Even with what he’s done through most of the season, I still felt like he missed a half-dozen passes almost every game…easy ones…ones that were critical 3rd-down conversions or would have extended the clock. Now, up to this point, I don’t know how much those misses have been detrimental to the Chiefs’ success. After all, we are leading the AFC West by one game with two to go. If you’d have told me that during the off-season, I would have said, “I’ll take it.”

And Cassel has been solid. Despite those few misses per game, he hasn’t turned the ball over, which, with a rushing attack like the Chiefs’, should be your primary goal.

So here I am, ready to relent my constant online harassment of Matt Cassel. Watching the difference that he made on the field against St. Louis, one week after the embarrassing San Diego loss and I am finally a believer. Call me a Cassel Enthusiast. I hesitated throwing my support behind him until he led the Chiefs to the win in the playoffs that has eluded us since 1993, but I have to pay respect to what the man has accomplished in a season that I all but thought would be another rebuilding year.

So here’s to you, Matt Cassel. I tip my virtual cap to you and wish you well through the rest of this season. I will be rooting for you even harder now that I’m convinced that you’re much better than I thought.

Shooting Typography

This originally appeared as a guest post on Zach and Simon’s Westside Studio blog.

I’ve always loved taking pictures. I actually even won an award for my sports photography in high school for the Blue Valley Northwest yearbook (back before these fancy DSLRs, I shot on film and developed it myself). I’ve done my best to continue to shoot photographs throughout my adult life, but oftentimes the busy day can hinder the ability to get out there and shoot. I got out of the habit of having a camera with me, so even when I’d see stuff that I wanted to photograph, I wouldn’t have anything with me at all.

About a year ago I read about this photographer named Chase Jarvis who was somehow managing to get some crazy shots out of his simple 3-megapixel iPhone camera. I’m not sure if it was him who coined the phrase (Jarvis has since trademarked it and subsequently released a book, iPhone app and website), but he said:

The best camera is the one you have with you.

When I started working for AMC, I began spending the lunch hour walking around downtown Kansas City with my friend Justin and I began to notice some of the really interesting shots that I might be able to get if only I had my camera with me.

So I started bringing it with me everyday. I just got a new DSLR last year, the Canon Rebel T1i, and I have a nice compact sling bag that make it pretty easy for me to carry the camera, a flash and a couple lenses. I found that I was being drawn to the interesting typography and signage of Kansas City. One of the first shots I remember taking was this sign outside the parking garage at 1025 Main Street. First off, I’m a sucker for Clarendon and most slab serif typefaces. I always thought this was such and interesting choice for a parking garage.

1025 Main

Then behind my office, I found this fabulous Union Carbide Building.

Union Carbide Building

I began to realize that I was being really inspired by James Patrick Gibson‘s New Type York. I began to wonder if I’d be able to start a Kansas City-focused type photoblog. After a day or two and some encouragement on Twitter, I found there was enough audience and interest. Plus, there was definitely enough typography to shoot.

So armed with Tumblr and Twitter, I started KCType.com. I haven’t had a lot of time to spend on designing the template or worrying too much about the details, I’ve just been out there shooting in the places where I find myself on a day-to-day basis. I’ve had a couple guest posts from my brother and my friends Ramsey, Phil and Steve, but there is so much interesting typography and signage in this city to shoot that I rarely have trouble posting on a daily basis.

Usually, I’m shooting with one of two lenses: either my Canon fixed 50mm f/1.4 lens (which is freaking amazing) or a 75-300mm zoom lens that I’ve had for about 15 years. One reason I continue to stick with Canon is because I’ve got so much invested in lenses now that it would be silly for me to switch.

If there’s one piece of advice I could give to people wanting to get into photography (even though I’m grossly underqualified to give photography advice), it’s that you should always have a camera with you. You never know when you’ll have the opportunity for a great shot and there is amazing stuff all around us, even in something as simple as typography and signage.

See more of my pictures on Flickr. Also, be sure to check out my KC Type blog.

The Top Chef Tour

I got to check out the Kansas City stop of the Top Chef Tour last Friday.

Eli Kirshtein and Nikki Cascone on the Top Chef Tour

Eli Kirshtein from Season 6 and Nikki Cascone from Season 4 came into KC and showed off their culinary chops and answered some questions in four sessions outside Cosentino’s Market. The first 15-20 minutes were spent making a quick Scimeca’s Sausage meatball with sauerkraut, aioli and topped with some gala apples.

Sausage Meatball on sauerkraut with aioli and apples

By themselves, I like very few of the components in this dish. Sauerkraut? EW. Mustard? No thanks. But as a dish, it totally worked. The flavors worked together to create something really simple and tasty.

My favorite part of the event was the Q&A, though. As someone who’s been watching Top Chef since season one (and I’ve talked about it plenty), I was interested in hearing about the show and their experiences. One of the things that cracked me up was Eli and Nikki talking trash on some of the more well-known chefs of the world, particularly Bobby Flay (“Just throw it on the grill with some chipotle in adobo and some cilantro.”).

I was actually really surprised at how open and honest they were, pulling no punches about the contestants they competed with (Eli still hates Robin, it seems) and the challenges they competed in.

It was a really nice event and I have to say thanks to my friend Eric from The National, who got me the tickets. Eric is actually bringing back Eli and one of my personal favorites, Kevin “BEARDY” Gillespie for a special 6-course event (two by each Top Chef and 2 by Chef Barkley from The National) at their clubhouse in May. As amazing as the event sounds, the price tag might be a little out of my range.

For the rest of my pictures, check out my Flickr photoset.

We Will Make You Whole Again

We Will Make You Whole Again

One of the main reasons I was able to get my awesome new job at AMC was my connection with their social media manager extraordinaire, Justin Gardner. Justin and I have become friends over the past couple years and we have now been working together for almost 2 months.

I was so thrilled to be able to watch as he and Trevor Hawkins of MAMMOTH MEDIA worked to premiere their short film, We Will Make You Whole Again on Tuesday night at AMC Mainstreet. The trailer:

For these guys, this has been a labor of love, a film that they’ve been working on for the past two years. Completely shot in Kansas City (with KC actors and an amazing score by KC’s Olympic Size) on a Nikon DSLR camera (a pretty cool feat unto itself).

The movie is really great. They’ve did a terrific job telling a compelling story about 6 strangers that feel disconnected from the world and each other because of things like age, race, sexuality, gender, language and culture, while revealing the common, everyday actions and emotions that unite them all. I was really proud of my friend Justin and his film. For someone to get out there and create something…that’s something to admire. (Not surprising for someone married to an artist who is constantly creating work that requires her whole self.)

Give the trailer a look and become a fan of the film on Facebook. Justin and Trevor are currently prepping the movie to be available for purchase via digital download and are scheduling other screenings in Kansas City. The Facebook page is the best place to find information.

Whether you do it this way or in your own way, art is such an important of education and communities. Please support art in Kansas City or your own community.