Jeter’s Slump and Pujols’s Surge

June 29, 2012

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Derek Jeter

Is Jeter reaching the end of the road?

 Jeter’s Slump

Derek Jeter got off to a fast start this year, hitting .389 with 5 homers and 13 RBI in April.  His current average is still above .300, but a steep downward trend – a .293 batting average in May and a .238 in June (through Wednesday) – should have Yankees fans a bit concerned.  This is not a young player we’re talking about – Jeter turned 38 earlier in the week.  Even worse, he’s a middle infielder – and middle infielders rarely reach age 40 with their offensive skillset intact.  Don’t be surprised if Jeter’s offensive skills start to slip away and he turns into a .240 slap hitter.

Albert’s Surge

ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 06:  Albert Pujols #5 of t...

Albert Pujols

On the other side of the coin we have Albert Pujols.  After signing a monster deal with Anaheim in the off-season, Pujols had a horrific start to the season – unable to get his average to .200 and displaying no power at all.  After hitting .217 with no homers in April, the power returned in May when Albert hit 8 homers to go along with a .263 average.  In June, the batting average has returned, with Pujols hitting .333 with 4 homers.  When (not if) he’s able to consolidate those April and May statistics, he’s going to once again be one of the most feared hitters in the game.  even with the horrible start to the year, Pujols is on pace to hit 25 homers and drive in nearly 100 runs.  A reasonably good second half could push his homer total above 30, and I’d bet that his batting average gets close to .300 by the end of the year. 

Mike Trout

ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 01:  Mike Trout #27 of the ...

Mike Trout

Pujols’s teammate in Anaheim, rookie Mike Trout, is having a tremendous season.  While Bryce Harper of the Nationals has been a highly touted player since high school, Trout slipped to the 25th overall pick in the 2009 draft, partly because of New Jersey high school players having a poor track record.  By the end of the 2010 season, he had emerged as one of the top prospects in the game.  Trout put up pedestrian numbers during a brief call-up in 2011, as is common with rookies.

This year, however, Trout has been tearing it up.  he was called up on April 28th, and has been one of the best players in baseball since his call-up – and he’s just 20 years old.  He’s leading the American league in batting average and stolen bases and showing good power for his age, with 8 homers in his first 54 games.  He’s also a terrific defender in the outfield.  Some worry that Trout won’t be able to maintain his elite speed, given his body type.  However, it’s possible that he could slim down a bit, or that he’ll simply be the exception.  In any cases, Trout is still several years away from reaching his physical peak – it should be fun to watch him improve and become an even better player.  If you’re looking for an example of Trout improving, look at his strikeout rates – 28 strikeouts in 108 at bats in May and just 18 strikeouts in 104 at bats in June.

Teams to watch

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 12:  Joel Hanrahan ...

Do you know this man’s name?

It’s been an interesting start to the season, with lots of good storylines.  Here are some teams to watch in the second half.

Phillies – The Phillies are in last place in their division.  Why are we watching them?  Well, although they are nine games behind the Nationals, they are only 5 1/2 games out of the final playoff spot.  With Chase Utley back in the lineup, Ryan Howard beginning his rehab stint, and Roy Halladay not too far away, the Phillies could very easily find a way into the playoffs.

Pirates – I was still in high school the last time Pittsburgh had a winning record.  They teased their fans last year before falling apart late in the year.  They are in contention once again this year.  Although their negative run differential suggest that they aren’t as good as their record suggests, I’d love to see them emerge with a division title.

Who do I predict as the playoff teams?  In the American League, the Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox, Angels, and Rangers.  In the National League, the Nationals, Phillies, Cardinals, Pirates, and Giants.

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Obamacare Ruled Constitutional

June 28, 2012

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Official 2005 photo of Chief Justice John G. R...

Chief Justice John Roberts, author of the majority opinion.

Don’t spike the ball. This is what the Crying Man and his cohorts in Congress focused on leading up to today’s decision by the Supreme court on the Affordable Care Act or more commonly known as Obamacare. They did not want to upset the common folk and possible voters in the upcoming elections by having too joyous of a reaction to what they felt was going to be a Supreme Court ruling in the favor of their ideals. Man, they must have really been blindsided when the ruling came down today in favor of upholding Obamacare, especially when the deciding vote ended up being one of their own. So it has already been a pretty chipper beginning to a day for me, but should I have this good of a feeling. Oh what the hell, screw this I am spiking the ball. IT’S CONSTITUTIONAL.
BITCHES!

Actually that was a tweet this morning from the DNC executive director when the ruling came out, but its sums up my sentiments exactly. A man the Republicans thought they had in the palm of their hand ended up being the deciding vote against them and Kennedy sided with them. Oh the irony. Granted in his opinion on the ruling Chief Justice John Roberts was pretty political with his rhetoric about the President, but did uphold the right of Congress to mandate people having healthcare coverage as it is in ways a tax. I bet Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito are now no longer on speaking terms with the Chief Justice after his ruling. I mean the same Court that brought you the personhood of Corporate America and unlimited secret campaign spending to buy elections, just saved Obamacare. Oh the agony!

The ruling was pretty much a sweep across the board in favor of upholding all of what was before the court. The ability for 26 year olds to be on their parents’ insurance was upheld. The ability for Congress to regulate that people with pre-existing conditions to be able to be covered by insurance was upheld. Most importantly and the most debated part of the decision is that the individual mandate was upheld as a taxing mechanism. Now I do not really like the wording with the ruling there as it just added more fuel to the fire for the illogical right. The only down part in the ruling was that the Medicaid expansion was struck down, but would be upheld if Congress were to take out the clause punishing states by withholding current Medicaid funds if they did not comply with the expansion. I agree that that part should be taken out and if it were not for the Congress that don’t do anything (sorry my kids have been watching Veggietales a bit much lately) it would be able to be remedied quickly.

Well that is about it for this month. Ah what a feeling. I will open up the comments section to discussion on the SCOTUS ruling. I will try to answer comments as soon as I see them. I’d love to see some discussion on this. Certainly a phrase I would never have thought I’d say. Thank you Chief Justice Roberts for making my day and slightly restoring my view of the Supreme Court if only just for one ruling.

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Give An Author A Second Chance

June 27, 2012

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Lawrence Block & Robert Silverberg

Lawrence Block (left) & Robert Silverberg

Regular readers know that my favorite author is Lawrence Block.  Block has been writing since the 1950s, and continues to write new work.  About a decade ago, a friend gave me Burglars Can’t be Choosers, and I was hooked.  In pretty quick succession, I read all of the burglar books and also started working my way through Block’s Matt Scudder books.

There are ten Burglar books and seventeen Scudder novels (plus a short story anthology).  I’ve put more than a few dollars in Block’s pocket over the years.  I’ve also read some of his books on writing, and of course his short story omnibus Enough Rope.

Block also has three series of novels based on the following characters:

  • Evan Tanner – Tanner has the sleep center in his brain destroyed as the result of a war injury, and is now incapable of sleep.  He uses the extra eight hours of each day to learn about a myriad of topics, and manages to get himself involved in a lot of international escapades.
  • Keller – A professional hit man who actually had a conscience.
  • Chip Harrison – A private detective who works a boss who is infatuated with Nero Wolfe.

On the surface, I should love two of these characters.  The destroyed sleep center aspect of Tanner is cool, as well as his interesting take on politics.  Keller is a hit man who spends his spare time (and money) collecting stamps, of all things.  I’ve never read Nero Wolfe, so the Chip Harrison novels wouldn’t be something that would necessarily be my cup of tea.

So I bought a Tanner and Keller book.  I hated them and wasn’t able to finish them.  I was disappointed that I was unable to appreciate books written by my favorite author, but fiction is very much a matter of taste, and I simply didn’t like them.

Fast forward five or six years.  I was in the public library looking for some audio books to read.  I saw a Keller book.  On a whim, I decided to give it a shot.  I was surprised to discover that I enjoyed the book immensely.  I read the other Keller books and liked all of them.  I liked them so much that I pre-ordered the upcoming Keller book, Hit Me.  The book doesn’t come out until February, but I’ve had my pre-order in for a couple of months.

I also rediscovered Tanner.  My rediscovery in this case was two-forked.  It turns out that Tanner was a favorite character of a good friend’s dad.  The friend’s dad served his country in Vietnam, raised his son alone after his wife deserted them, and fought a courageous battle against cancer – an outstanding role model for his son and the community.  After he passed away, I often thought of reading some Tanner books, just to see if I could see the same things he saw in them.  A bit later, I read Lawrence Block’s Afterthoughts, a collection of the forewords and afterwords from his books.  Block’s thoughts about the Tanner books were the clincher – I needed to give them a second chance.  I found out that I liked the Tanner books as well.

I have yet to read the Chip Harrison books … but I’m sure that in time I will.

If you have every given up on an author, or on a book, I urge you to give it a second chance a bit later.  The years won’t change the text in the book, but they will change you, and you may appreciate the book more.
 

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Omaha Hosts College World Series, Olympics Swimming Trials, and More

June 26, 2012

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Omaha, the NEW Sports Mecca!

Before any of you accuse me of being a homer, and writing about the city to the east of my hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska, let me set the record straight.

I am really not a fan of Omaha. Compared to Lincoln it has a HUGE amount of crime. Many people there have what I would call the quasi East Coast Attitude.

They are the biggest city, their news is the only important news, the rest of the state is…well…hicks so to speak.

Even the Omaha TV meteorologists do not make mention of any storms hitting the rest of Nebraska. But once the storms are close to their beloved Omaha then it is a Major weather event…even if the storms have left major hail, tornados and feet of rain and snow in their wake.

Now that we are past my dislike of the Republic of Omaha, let’s focus on the positives.

The College World Series

OMAHA, NE - JUNE 25:  Robert Refsnyder #2 of t...

Robert Refsnyder of 2012 champion Arizona.

Each year Omaha hosts two sporting events that are incredibly well received. The main crown jewel in the Sports Scepter is the College World Series. It has been an institution in the Big O for many many years. ESPN came aboard and blew the CWS to a whole new level. They even held so much power over almighty Omaha that a new baseball part was built right in the downtown area. This of course was to provide a bunch of extra income to the downtown area, and to also keep all of the drunk drivers off of the roads driving from Rosenblatt Stadium to the downtown area. Now, all of the inebriated people at the CWS just walk back to their hotel instead. (if you don’t believe me, check out the surrounding area next year during the CWS at about 11 PM on any game night)

The Cox Classic

PLAYA DEL CARMEN, MEXICO - FEBRUARY 23:  J.J. ...

2011 Cox Champion J.J. Killeen

The Nationwide Tour also hosts the Cox Classic in Omaha every year. This tournament is held at the Champions Club, and is viewed by most of the Nationwide tour players as the best event they have all year.

Volunteers turn out in droves to come and help make the Cox Classic a success. The prize money payout is one of the largest on the Nationwide Tour. But the real fun starts after the tournament is over each and every day. Once the golfers are off the greens, the parties start at a number of designated events at the golf course. These parties go late into the night and are known to be the favorites of the locals and the tournament players and staff alike.

I am sure in large part that the success of this tournament has led Omaha to host the 2013 United States Senior Open Championship. Omaha Country Club will be the site of that tournament and I am sure it will be attended by huge masses of people.

U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials

Michael phelps with house speaker Busch.....

He’s back!

The Olympic trials for the swimming events is being held as we speak at the Qwest Center in Omaha (conveniently located basically right next door to TD Ameritrade Park where the College World Series is now held). This is the second time for this event to be held in Omaha, and with crowds over week to be in excess of 100,000 one could argue that these events are better attended in Omaha than they are at the ACTUAL Olympic Games.

Other Events in Recent Years

Omaha has also been host to NCAA Basketball tournament games earlier this year , and the NCAA Volleyball Championships in the recent years. Omaha is centrally located in the United states so while it might not be close for many it is also not near as bad as travelling coast to coast to go to some of these events.

It has a host of Hotels, has the casino’s and dog races right across the river in Iowa, and let’s face it , Nebraska’s State Motto is “The Good Life” for a reason. The people in the Midwest are nice, sincere, and hardworking.

Now if we could only get the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Omaha…wait…they are coming in 2013 as well.

Until Next Time…Stay Classy Ralston, Nebraska – SOUTHSIDE!!!!
 

 

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Movie Review: Men In Black 3

June 25, 2012

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It is common knowledge that sequels are never as good as the original. Everyone will say that, but it is not actually true? The second Star Wars (for those of you under the age of 21, that would be Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back) was better than the first. So maybe we can say that third installments are always the worst. Men In Black 3 refutes that cultural surety. I would not say that it is better than the original, but it is at least better than its immediate predecessor.

The Men In Black series broke onto the movie scene 14 year ago. It was one of those movies that came directly from comic books. The art of special effects had matured enough to make the story entertaining and successful. Men In Black 2, although bringing back most of the original cast, failed to bring anything new to the table. The secondary and background characters knew too much, almost like they had watched the original movie.

Men In Black 3 avoided those pitfalls. The primary members of the cast (Smith and Jones) were retained. The addition of Emma Thompson to replace Rip Torn was outstanding (Ok, I just really like Emma Thompson). The story is more about the characters getting to know each other than just hunting down strange aliens.

There are strange aliens of course, and they are very important to the plot. There is a big nasty evil one, just like in the other movies, and he is the focus of the action, just like in the other movies. There are plenty of differences from the first two movies. The first movie was an introduction and a study of “J” as he entered the Men In Black organization. The second movie was the return of “K”. This movie is really an introduction of “K” and “J” to each other. In the other movies, there is a teacher and student. This latest installment is more of a partnership.

There is a lot of simulated violence; so it would not be appropriate for younger viewers. Teenagers will of course love it just as they flocked to the first two. Since there is time travel, there are plenty of historical play for viewers older than 40. I would say that this movie is good entertainment for most viewers of science fiction or action hero films. Although some theaters are presenting Men In Black 3 in 3-D, the film does not over use the technology and the effects do not really need it. I believe that this movie is worth a full price ticket, but if you miss it in the theaters, or don’t want to pay full price, it is definitely a discount theater or rental value.

Next week: Brave

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Do Adam Dunn’s Strikeouts Hurt The White Sox?

June 22, 2012

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Longtime readers may remember an article about strikeouts a while back.  At that time, I was looking at the whiffs of Mark Reynolds and trying to calculate the impact they had on his team.

Adam Dunn

Adam Dunn

This time, I went a step further.  I took a close look at Adam Dunn of the White Sox.  Dunn has 109 strikeouts this year.  How much better off would the White Sox be if Dunn had made “productive outs” – that is, outs that advance a runner – instead of striking out?

It’s important to note that I’m not trading any of Dunn’s strikeouts for HITS.  There’s no doubt that it would be better for Dunn to turn some of those Ks into single and hit .265 instead of .225.  Hits are clearly better than outs.  The question is whether strikeouts are inherently worse than ground ball outs and fly outs.  Is an Adam Dunn who hits .225 with 200 strikeouts less productive than an Adam Dunn who hits .225 with 80 strikeouts?

I combed through the play by play data for all of Dunn’s games this year to find the answer.  This is mind numbing work, and it’s possible an error or two crept in, but I think my answer is pretty close.  There are two basic components:

  1. Does the opportunity for a productive out exist?  The opportunity only exists when there are baserunners with fewer than two outs.  If there are no baserunners, it’s impossible to advance any runners.  If there are two outs, any type of out will end the inning.
  2. Would a productive out have made a difference in the inning?  If there’s a runner on first, Dunn fails to move him along, and the next guy hits a home run, a productive out would not have made a difference – the runner scored in spite of Dunn’s strikeout.  On the other side of the coin, if Dunn fails to move a runner from first to second and the next batter struck out the end the inning, a productive out wouldn’t have made a difference either.  The runner would have simply been stranded on second instead of first.

In a nutshell,  we’re looking for cases where a productive out would have made a difference in whether or not the team scored a run that inning. 

Was a productive out possible?

In 87 of the 109 cases, Dunn was not in a situation to make a productive out. 

  • 43 of the strikeouts were the final out of the inning
  • 72 of the strikeouts came with the bases empty
  • 28 of the strikeouts came with two outs and the bases empty.  This overlap explains why 43 + 72 adds up to more than 87.

This leaves 22 situations where a productive out was possible.

Would a productive out have made a difference?

  • In 12 of the 22 remaining cases, all of the baserunners ended up scoring anyway.
  • In 6 cases one or more runners were stranded, but moving the runner along with a productive out would not have changed the outcome.  For example, in two cases, the very next batter made an out to end the inning.

This leaves four cases.

April 23rd, season strikeout #26.  Dunn came up with runners on second and third and one out.  After Dunn’s strikeout, Konerko lined out, Pierzynski drove home one of the runs, and Rios ended the inning with a foul pop.  Had Dunn made a productive out, he might have driven home the runner on third and allowed the runner on second to advance to third and later score.  The White Sox won the game 4-0, so no harm done.

May 16th, season strikeout #57.   Dunn came up with a runner on first and nobody out.  After his at bat, the runner advance to third on a single and a fly ball before being stranded.  Had Dunn advanced the runner to second, he may have scored.  White Sox lost this game 7-2, so this wouldn’t have changed the outcome. 

June 9, season strikeout #94.  Dunn came up with one out and runners on first and second.  After his strikeout, the runners advanced to second and third on an infield single before a ground ball to shortstop ended the inning.  Had Dunn advanced the runners, the lead runner probably would have scored on the infield single.  White Sox won the game 10-1, so this didn’t cost them.

June 17, season strikeout #102.  Dunn came up with one out and a runner on first.  After his strikeout, the runner advanced to third before the hitter was thrown out trying to reach second.  Had Dunn advanced the runner, he likely would have scored on the subsequent hit.  This occurred in a 2-1 extra inning loss, so this could have made the difference in the game.

Findings

Over the course of 69 games and 109 strikeouts, I have found exactly one situation in which a productive out could have actually made the difference in a game.  In my opinion, that’s not a very good reason to criticize Dunn for his high strikeout totals.  His .225 batting average really isn’t any worse than any other .225 batting average.  Trying to force him to alter his swing to cut down on his strikeouts probably has more downside risk (fewer homers) than upside opportunity.

Some of you may argue that an inning may have played out significantly differently if a productive out had been made.  Having a runner at second would have caused the pitcher to alter his strategy, etc.  While that’s true, it’s hard to speculate what may have occurred, so I’ve assumed that the subsequent batters would have achieved the same result.  I could also argue that having more ground balls would also mean more double plays, which could have killed some innings.

And finally … this is a relatively small sample size, and is specific to Adam Dunn.  A larger sample size or a different player may get you somewhat different results.  However, my opinion is that a .225 batting average is a .225 batting average – there’s no reason to separate the guys who achieve the .225 by striking out a lot from the guys who achieve it by hitting weak ground balls to shortstop.
 

 

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Obama and Fast and Furious

June 21, 2012

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Cheaters Never Win

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 12:  U.S. Attorney Gener...

Attorney General Eric Holder

Fast and Furious is going to be Obama’s Watergate AND Lewinsky scandals. He’s already got the executive privilege covered (and I’ll get to that in a minute)– but here’s the difference. No one died in Watergate and Lewinsky. Unless you count sperm as people. And that’s just ew.

The reason the executive privilege was such a surprise yesterday is because a President cannot invoke executive privilege unless he’s personally involved. But just a few weeks ago he was claiming he was not. I would think he was surrounded by enough smart people to know the rules, if, he was in fact NOT involved, it would not apply. Invoking executive privilege only raised more questions than it answered.

So what’s the deal? Is he or isn’t he? Then again, this just goes to show how UNtransparent he really is. Believe it or not, he DID say, “My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration.”

So much for openness and transparency.

And then there’s the issue of the most recent executive order of stopping deportation and issuing work visas to over 800,000 illegal immigrants. Again, herein lies the problem. WHAT jobs, Mr. President? People who are legal citizens can’t find work and we’re going to flood the pool with 800,000 MORE people eligible for work? Will they now be eligible for unemployment too?

While they did come here as children, and it was the sins of their parents that caused them to be illegal, they still are NOT legal. And don’t call them “undocumented”. Changing the name doesn’t make them any less illegal. It’d be like calling a drug dealer an “unlicensed pharmacist”. It still doesn’t make it right.

I’ve posed this question to a few of my friends who came here legally (from Mexico) and they consider it a slap in the face to all of the hard work they did (and money they paid) to become legal citizens to work. One friend said, “I know life isn’t fair but this isn’t fair. I’m trying to teach my son to do the right thing and this shows him bad behavior can be rewarded.”

Yes, we’re a nation of immigrants (unless you’re full blood Native American). But our ancestors came here legally. My Paternal Grandfather came here from Canada and my Maternal Great Grandfather immigrated from Ireland. Legally.

There’s a lot to be un-done come January 2013. It seems Obama’s house of cards is just tumbling down. As I’m teaching my kids, lying and cheating doesn’t pay. I’m hoping the election in November will be the best lesson for them. Cheaters never win.

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Why Is The Book Always Better Than The Movie?

June 20, 2012

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It’s a common scene – you’ll come out of a movie and someone will say “It was OK, but I liked the book better.”  It’s far less common to hear someone say that they liked a movie better.  Why is this the case?  There are several reasons.

Budget

White House Front

Cost to use this house as the setting for your novel? FREE!

Writers can just make up shit with no regard to any sort of budget.  Want a fighter jet flying over a, erupting volcano and having the pilot eject before it crashes into the ocean?  Give a talented writer a thousand words or so, and she can set this scene and you’ll be able to visualize the scene in your mind.  Total cost to the writer?  $0.  It doesn’t matter if the main character lives in a weather-beaten shack or a huge mansion – the cost to use the home is the exact same to the writer.  

Additionally, the writer is actually offloading a big chunk of the work onto your brain.  She’s making use of your own imagination and prior knowledge.  You already know what a jet, volcano, and ocean look like.  There’s not need to spend time on the most basic descriptions. 

On the other hand, the movie is a visual (rather than abstract) presentation.  The director can’t simply describe the jet, the volcano, and the ocean.  He needs to actually procure the use of a jet, get footage of an erupting volcano, and find a way to fake a crash landing into an ocean.  This costs money.  In modern film making, an even bigger cost is special effects.  Effects that a novelist can describe with a few pages of well-crafted text can cost millions of dollars to bring to life on the screen.

In the end, the film maker is forced to make some concessions.  To bring every single detail to life could cost hundreds or millions – or even billions – of dollars.  At some point, a line has to be drawn in the sand.

Casting

When Tom Cruise was selected as the actor who would portray Lee Child’s Jack Reacher character in the upcoming film One Shot, many Reacher fans were aghast.  Reacher is a big guy – 6’5″ and 200+ pounds of pure muscle.  Tom Cruise is officially listed at 5’7″.  It seems to not be a great fit for the role.  Lee Child’s comment on the selection was that Reacher’s size was more of a metaphor than to be taken literally.  One can’t help but wonder if financial considerations came into play.

We’ve all seen movies where actors were a bad fit for a role – or simply had poor acting skills.  Again, a novelist offloads work to your brain when it comes to casting.  While every novelist will describe physical features of a character – some more than others – no author is going to describe every single aspect.  Much will be left to your imagination, and your can mold the characters to fit your preferences.  With a movie, you’re stuck with the bums who were cast for the roles.

Surprise!

Finally, the book has the element of surprise on its side.  While I thoroughly enjoyed watching The Hunger Games and even enjoyed the casting, I definitely wasn’t surprised at various twists and turns during the movie.  How could I be?  I had read the book, so I always knew when they were coming.  In fact, I used my knowledge of the plot to time my mid-movie pit stop (long movie + previews + large soda) so that I didn’t miss any good parts.  When I read the book, these plot twists were just that – surprises.

I’ve come to accept the fact that most movies are not going to be as good as the book – through no fault of the director.  If a movie is “almost as good” as a book, I consider it to be a pretty good movie.
 

 

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Webb Simpson Wins US Open

June 19, 2012

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Caught in the Webb

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 17:  Webb Simpson of ...

Does this look like a crack?

My Pick for the US Open last week was …well…not a good one.

Phil Mickelson simply was not on his game, basically not able to hole any putts and missing more fairways than he was hitting.

It did appear that Tiger was on his way to Major #15, but after a bad start on both Saturday and Sunday he faltered and finished tied for 21st.

Jim Furyk looked like he would keep it together and was on his way to winning a 2nd US Open, and pretty much therefore assuring his place eventually in the World Golf Hall of Fame. The pressure seemed too much, he hit some uncharacteristic shots down the stretch and then had to pull off birdieing the last with fellow playing partner Graeme McDowell to force a Monday playoff. Neither of the two were able to birdie the difficult but short 18th – mainly due to an extremely tough pin placement that did not allow for much of a chance to hit it close – and Webb Simpson, walked away with the Nicklaus Medal and the United States Open Trophy.

Who the Heck is Webb Simpson? That is what quite a few of the non-die hard golf fans are asking Sunday night into Monday morning. The guy dresses nice..anytime Ralph Lauren is a sponsor you are going to have some nice digs.

He played golf in college at Wake Forest, he was on the Nationwide tour for a short while, and really came into his own last year winning twice – including the Deutsche Bank Open during the final Fed Ex Cup race. In hindsight, it appears Simpson was poised for a breakthrough this year, much like Keegan Bradley was last year. It just happened sooner than anyone, including Simpson, could imagine. After all, he is only 26 years old.

NBA Playoffs

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - JUNE 12:  LeBron James #6 ...

I guess I shouldn’t tell them that I like Durant Durant.

Game 3 is in the books and the Heat hold a 2-1 advantage. 85% of the time the team that wins game 3 wins the series. While that is an impressive statistic, these teams are very evenly matched – and each create problems for the other. Oklahoma City has proven all year that it is the toughest place in the league to play.

I do get tired of all of the analysts and sports talk figured “over-analyzing” every single thing that takes place in each game. Of course it makes for listeners to your program to have the latest scoop, or to be controversial in your comments. Maybe because I have no real allegiance to any NBA team I seem to read between the lines more so than a rabid NBA fan.

It is comical how some of these “experts” seem to flip back and forth on their opinions on each team or on particular players from game to game.

Regardless, this should be a great week of basketball and then we set off to the dead period of time known as waiting for football season to start. (Kosmo calls this Baseball season)

At least this summer we have the Olympics coming up in England! I will be covering a number of stories on the Olympics once they get started.

Until Next Time, stay classy Springdale, Arkansas

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Review: Snow White and the Huntsman

June 18, 2012

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It is summer time, which means that I am actually going out to see movies. I cannot say why I do not go to the movies very often during the winter months. It may be because I live in the Midwest, and all of the things that slow down in the winter just slow down the out of home entertainment. This is the first of several film reviews that I am going to undertake. I am not a true film critic. I do not read film critic reviews. In fact, I do not watch many films in theaters. I mostly go when my wife wants to go.

Snow White and the Huntsman

There have been may Snow White movies, the most famous being the Disney animated classic from 1937. For those of you who have read the “original” tale from the Grimms brothers, you will know that the cartoon is rather mild in comparison. The live action remake in 1997 with Julia Roberts is truer to the fairy tale. On those lines, the cartoon was for young Americans, the later movie was for teenagers. The original story was actually for small children, as were all of the Grimms tales, to provide a moral or warning.

The latest installment of Snow White movies is in theaters now; Snow White and the Huntsman. This movie has many attributes that appeal to the current generation of movie goers. The special effects are outstanding. They flow with the action and add rather than detract from the visual impact of the movie. There are several actors and actresses who are excellent including Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth.

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 29:  Actress Kristen Ste...

The fairest of them all?

The story itself is well integrated, providing more detail as to why the queen would want Snow White dead. But this is where the positives end. The character of Snow White herself is far to militant and sure of herself. No offense to the actress Kristen Stewart, but she is not fairer than fair or more beautiful that the rest. Although moving the huntsman to being a huntsman rather than the executioner in the story is a good move, adding a brother of the queen to provide the chase mechanism adds little to the plat. The Dwarves are less comical than in previous version, but also only have a bit part. Rather than truly being the guys who stick their necks out to protect the fair lady, they are just the junior partners in a rather large contingent of support.

There is very little actual violence, due to the fantasy ingredient of the tale, which makes it acceptable for most kids (although some might have nightmares from the special effects). The target audience seems to be teenagers. I would not recommend paying full price at a theater, but a discount theater or video rental may be a good option.

Next week: Men in Black 3
 

 

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