All posts by Brian Beaudry

Whataburger (Irving, TX)

Whataburger is the second restaurant my family and I ate at when we moved to Irving last year, yet I never took a photo of the food! We arrived at the right time in 2015 – the Sweet & Spicy burger (above) was on the menu, our cashier was super nice and helpful when we informed him that we’d just moved to Texas the day before, and everything was fresh off the grill/out of the fryer.

Emoji review: 🍬🌶🍔,💯; no 🍬🌶🍔, 🙅

Continue reading Whataburger (Irving, TX)

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AFL Power Rankings, Week 17

Hey, only one week to go in the season, assuming the league doesn’t change the rules again this week! Arizona annihilated the Gladiators, launching them beyond the Soul into the top spot as they wrapped up their regular season.

Tampa Bay’s victory over the Steel also vaulted them into a tie for last place with one game left for each squad. No worries for either team, as each will have its season ended in the first round of the playoffs.

Here’s this week’s Power Rankings:

  1. Arizona (1.17)
  2. Philadelphia (1.15)
  3. Orlando (1.07)
  4. Jacksonville (1.06)
  5. LA (1.05)
  6. Cleveland (0.92)
  7. Tampa Bay (0.80)
  8. Portland (0.80)

Continue reading AFL Power Rankings, Week 17

AFL Power Rankings, Week 16

As I predicted, my prediction record took a hit last weekend as Portland continued its three-year streak of getting a win over Jacksonville and LA holding on to defeat Cleveland. I’m down to a mere 10-2 record (11-2 if you count my predicting that I would lose games!) on the season.

My bad week reminds me a bit of Orlando’s week. First, they went from “driving to take the lead” to “down three touchdowns” in a couple of minutes of gameplay against the Rattlers. Since they clinched a tiebreaker advantage over Arizona by losing by less than 18 points, their late field goal to cut the final margin to 17 seemed like a great save.

Then the league decided to change the postseason rules (with one game left in the season for each team) so Orlando and Philadelphia are set to play each other in the second playoff round regardless of what happens – the saving grace was rendered largely moot.

And, to top things off, LA leaped over them into third place in this week’s weighted power rankings. Here they are: Continue reading AFL Power Rankings, Week 16

AFL Power Rankings, Week 15

Before I start, I’d like to tout my 8-0 record in picking games so far, since it’s not often I have this kind of prognostication prowess, and I’d like to do it before I lose a game.

Now that that’s done, here are some fun facts about Week 14 and the Arena Football League season so far:

  • Philadelphia had the first 100% successful offensive week since Jacksonville’s Week 8 win. (Orlando is the only other team to have turned in a 100% week, having done so three times.)
  • The league’s best offense (by success rate – surrender rate) can be found in the desert, with the Rattlers (80.5%) eking out the Predators (80.3%) and “whoever plays the Steel” (80.2%).
  • The league’s best defense is still “whoever plays the Storm” with a 60.3% success rate. “Whoever plays the Steel” is No. 2 at 56.9%, and the Soul round out the Top 3 at 45.8%.
  • Defensive touchdowns – your team either scores ’em a lot or they don’t. Arizona has 11, Cleveland has nine, and Philadelphia has eight…but no one else has more than four. Tampa Bay still hasn’t scored a defensive touchdown in 2016.
  • On offense, there are three tiers: Portland and Tampa Bay’s offenses have given up 11 touchdowns each, and Arizona (0), Jacksonville (1), and Orlando (1) have surrendered just two combined. The remaining three teams have between 4-6 surrendered TDs.
  • Tampa Bay converted nearly 72 percent of offensive possessions into touchdowns in weeks 7-9, culminating in their win against the Rattlers. Aside from those three weeks, the Storm offense has been stopped more often than it’s scored in every game.
  • Why do I weight the rankings? If I didn’t, the last time a team passed another team (aside from LA and Cleveland dancing around the middle) would have been Week 4. Boorrrrrrrring!

Continue reading AFL Power Rankings, Week 15

AFL Power Rankings, Homestretch Edition

I hope everyone enjoyed their extended holiday weekend, despite it being bereft of football. The break gives us a nice reset point for the season, however, as we head into the final few weeks and jockey for playoff positioning.

Here are the Power Rankings as we get back into action:

  1. Philadelphia (1.18)
  2. Arizona (1.13)
  3. Orlando (1.09)
  4. Jacksonville (1.05)
  5. Cleveland (1.04)
  6. LA (1.00)
  7. Portland (0.75)
  8. Tampa Bay (0.74)

Jacksonville is a funny team – they have a better success rate than Cleveland. They’ve outscored their opponents. They have the top-ranked passer in the league and the leaders in passing yards, receiving yards, and rushing yards. Tommy Grady has thrown the fewest INTs of any quarterback who has played a significant length of time this season. And yet they’ve still managed just a 5-7 record, with five of those losses coming at home. They’re the Dream Team 2011 Philadelphia Eagles.

In other news, 17 of the league’s 50 games have ended as one-possession games. Here are the teams ranked by their success in one-possession games:

  1. Philadelphia (2-0)
  2. Orlando (6-2)
  3. Cleveland (4-2)
  4. Arizona (1-2)
  5. Los Angeles (1-2)
  6. Jacksonville (2-4)
  7. Tampa Bay (1-3)
  8. Portland (0-2)

You’d like to say Orlando’s lucky to win so many close games, but the flip side of the record is that the Predators are the only team in the league not to have lost a game by more than one possession. Philadelphia, although they’ve won two games, both against the other two top-tier teams, has been beaten convincingly three times.

So who wins this week?

Cleveland at Philadelphia: Technically, Philadelphia won’t host any of the three Glads/Soul matchups this season, as this game will take place in Allentown. These teams love scoring defensive touchdowns against one another. Each team has scored on three interception returns against the other in two games thus far. The problem for Philadelphia is that they got all of theirs off of Chris Dieker in the opener. They haven’t intercepted Arvell Nelson in just over a game’s worth of action. The Soul are still the best team in the league, statistically, and they’ve won all their traveling “home” games, so I’ll pick them this week.

Jacksonville at Arizona: Jacksonville has the talent to beat Arizona, and it’s actually fortunate for them that this game is being played on the road, because they suck at home. I’ll still pick them to lose, because Arizona is a better team.

Orlando at Portland: Chalk up another win for the Predators, who will need it as they play the other two contenders for the top seed in the last two games of the season.

Tampa Bay at Los Angeles: Is there a quarterback controversy in Anaheim? Starter Nathan Stanley is back and healthy, but Pete Thomas has played just as well as Stanley in his stead. The Storm would actually have a pretty good chance at a win if they weren’t, well, the Storm. KISS win.

Are Arvell Nelson and Bernard Morris Backup Quarterbacks?

The stats are in, and it’s unfair to call Arvell Nelson and Bernard Morris “backup” quarterbacks. These guys are every bit as good as the guys who entered the season as starters, and probably should be starting for some of the teams that desperately need a quarterback.

Why do I say that? Check out my full article (with stats) over at ArenaFan.

Three Leadership Lessons I Learned by Screenwriting

Once upon a time, I took a screenwriting course in college. I recently picked up the book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance and have been thinking a lot about leadership. At some point, I thought back to those screenwriting days and discovered that I’d actually learned a few great real-life leadership lessons from learning to write stories that haven’t happened about people that don’t exist. Here are a few.

1. Stay true to your characters and your story.

Just like a plot hole or an out-of-character reaction can pull your audience completely out of your movie and cause them to question everything they believed, wavering from your character and your values erodes trust and the belief you know what you’re doing.

I don’t get out to see many movies, but I remember Superman Returns in 2006 being one of the worst I’d ever spent money on. The list of flaws is long, but the huge problem I noticed is Lex Luthor’s plan to take over the world by creating a continent of kryptonite, causing the rest of the world to flood.

Luthor’s a pretty smart guy (aside from his desire to destroy Superman), but his scheme doesn’t make sense on even the most basic level – people might want to live above water, but what value would money have if you’ve destroyed the rest of the world and can no longer survive yourself? How are you going to produce fresh water, food, or housing on an island made solely of crystal?

When the smart Luthor starts off with such an idiotic plan, the film’s numerous flaws rose to the surface rather than being ignored as I enjoyed the ride. Others dropped out of the film earlier with other errors – each time you deviate from character, you create an opportunity for someone to stop believing you.

Giving inconsistent guidelines or demanding things of employees that you’re not bringing yourself is death as a leader. Employees begin to wonder why the rules are different for them than others (or you) and notice every inconsistency. Your team needs to believe you care about their success as well as your own.

2. Conflict often produces growth

Most people don’t like conflict. I don’t go seeking it myself. In order to have a truly great story, however, the protagonist (that’s you!) uses conflict to catalyze their growth and future success. In Breaking Bad, Walt gains power within the meth industry each time he takes on a new level of boss within the cartel. In Parks and Recreation, Leslie Knope grows and achieves more of her goals when her smaller dreams come crashing down – she can’t get backed for city council and her friends run her campaign for her, she loses a city council job and gets a national parks job, she loses a boyfriend and finds her husband.

In each situation, the protagonist fulfills more and more of their capability through either conquering fears or fighting through failure…but they don’t avoid conflict entirely.

Conflict is an inevitable part of growing. An animal has to eat plants (or even other animals) if it wants to continue to mature and reach its potential as an adult. You can’t reach your capacity by avoiding conflict, but in order to avoid Walter White’s ending and come through the conflict in a better place, go back to No. 1 and hold true to your character and your principles.

3. Stories don’t have to be linear

And they rarely are. Encourage your employees to take time to pick up knowledge or skills they might not otherwise learn. Heck, take those opportunities to do things you otherwise wouldn’t for yourself. You never know when it’ll come in handy.

Memento would have been bland and uninteresting if it were told in a linear manner – the story needed to be completely re-written. Because each fragment loosely connected, audiences spent the whole movie in the protagonist’s shoes, trying to piece everything together. The Wire brought stories of different segments of society together, telling Baltimore’s story. Early seasons’ interactions brought depth to stories told in different parts of town in later seasons.

I didn’t just grow up deciding I wanted to be a writer or a leader. I had no idea what I wanted to do – when we did a test in high school that showed what jobs we’d be good at and enjoy, my list of potential careers was seven pages long.

I spent time in the Marine Corps because I happened to pick up the phone with a recruiter after moving back home shortly after losing my girlfriend, car, and job all within a couple months. The Marines helped me find my motivation for higher education and for helping others. It also provided the GI Bill and later the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which gave me the opportunity to attend college without going into debt.

I was going to be an urban and regional planner if it weren’t for that philosophy course I took – I had initially been focused on a major that would help me make money and have a stable career. The philosophy course caused me to re-examine my priorities and what I wanted to pursue, and I ended up in journalism. I wouldn’t be writing this article if I didn’t take screenwriting courses as part of the major.

(Hey, I didn’t say that connecting the dots would ALWAYS result in positive outcomes.)

Learn from everyone you can. Listen to people from all parts of your life. If you spread the roots of your knowledge out broadly, you’ll be able to pull thoughts from anywhere and be in a position to help as many people as possible.

Ultimately, that’s what being a leader is about anyway – helping others to live the best life story they possibly can.