Friday, October 24, 2014

Book Review: "The Target" by David Baldacci

I grabbed this book at an airport newsstand while my flight was boarding. I didn't realize it was part of a series; the book presupposes knowledge of the characters, which was a little annoying.

Anyway, the plot can basically be broken down into 3 parts:

1. US plot to assassinate leader of North Korea.
2. Southern white supremacists do bad things.
3. North Korean plot to assassinate the First Lady.

This book is a pretty generic thriller. It's not bad, exactly. It's just not especially good. I think I'll stick with Dan Brown and Brad Meltzer for my thriller needs.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Sooners RepOUrt: Come in off the ledge, Sooner fans

Without question, the loss to K-State was incredibly frustrating, and I certainly think the coaches could have done a better job with game-planning and play-calling. But a lot of OU fans are going totally overboard and concluding that the football program is permanently in decline and that Stoops should be fired.

Let's step back for a moment: OU was playing a top-15 team in K-State, who outplayed and should have beaten top-5 Auburn earlier in the season. OU threw a pick-6 and threw another INT in the red zone, whereas K-State had no turnovers. OU missed an extra point and 2 short field goals, whereas K-State had no missed kicks. And OU lost the game by 1 point. That's not a game that indicates a coaching change is needed.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Movie Review: Prisoners

Good night, this movie was depressing. It also had snakes. Don't watch it right before bed.

Sooners RepOUrt: The K-State debacle

Today, the Sooners accomplished the seemingly impossible: they gave their fans a kick in the gut even more painful than the TCU loss 2 weeks ago. Here are some thoughts on the game:
  1. It's easy to blame the loss on the kicking game, especially the missed 19-yarder with 4 minutes left that would have given the Sooners a 33-31 lead. But really, that kick should never have been attempted. Facing a 3rd and goal from the 1, the Sooners tried to pound it in by running up the middle, and Perine got stuffed. OU did the same thing against TCU on 4th down late in the game. It reminded me of the national title game against Florida when OU couldn't punch it in. Why not take advantage of your mobile QB and give Trevor Knight a roll-out run-pass option? The OU coaching staff is very competent, but they're an "old school" coaching staff that believes (or wants to believe) that the superior team can impose its will on an opponent, even if that opponent knows what's coming. Were the coaches really confident that Perine would score? I'm not sure. I suspect there is something of an attitude that "If we can't pound it up the middle for a yard, we don't deserve to win." That's a cop-out. It's the coaching staff's job to take the available personnel and use it in a way that maximizes the chances for victory. And a run up the gut (especially out of the shotgun) doesn't do that.
  2. Even after Perine got stuffed, the Sooners should have gone for it on 4th and goal. A touchdown would have meant that K-State had to score a TD to win, rather than just a field goal. With the OU defense struggling, that extra cushion would have been crucial. And even if the 4th-down play failed, K-State would have been backed up at the 1-yard line and probably would have punted the ball back to the Sooners 4 plays later, giving OU good field position and enough time to win. The truth is, even if Hunnicutt had made the chip-shot field goal, I still think the Sooners would have lost. They simply needed to score a touchdown there. In trying the field goal, Stoops did what the vast majority of "old-school" coaches would have done, but in my opinion he again failed to maximize the Sooners' chances of winning.
  3. I don't know what to think of Trevor Knight at this point. Aside from the pick-6, he played today like he did against Alabama. He'll never be a precision passer like Joe Montana, but if he can consistently play as well as he did today--and if the Sooners can utilize his running abilities to their fullest potential--then Knight is a potential superstar (imagine how good Jason White could have been if he were never injured). The problem is, against TCU Knight didn't even look like a Division 1 quarterback. Will he ever develop the consistency necessary to be an elite player? Right now, it's impossible to tell. The Sooners need to use the rest of this season to figure it out.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

TV show review: Camelot

Camelot was a show on Starz a few years ago. It only lasted for one season. It goes without saying that Hollase and I don't subscribe to Starz, but we did find Camelot in the DVD bargain bin at Barnes & Noble. Some observations:
  1. In the King Arthur story we all know and love, King Arthur is married to Guinevere. Then Guinevere cheats on Arthur with Lancelot, leading to various negative consequences. But in this show, Guinevere is actually married to Lancelot, and cheats on him with Arthur. Also, Lancelot is named Leontes. This is all highly confusing.
  2. The character of Arthur is basically a wimpy punk, whereas Leontes is awesome in every way. It's unclear why Guinevere would prefer Arthur, unless she just has a lust for power.
  3. Joseph Fiennes and Eva Green compete for the title of "Most Absurd Overacting" in the roles of Merlin and Arthur's sister Morgan, respectively. 
  4. Basically, Camelot is Game of Thrones, but with lower production values and not quite as much gratuitous sex/nudity. (But don't get me wrong--there's still plenty of gratuitous sex/nudity.)
  5. All shows about King Arthur are lame compared to the 1981 movie Excalibur.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Movie Review: Gone Girl

This was a pretty entertaining movie. Early on, it was a typical movie about an innocent man who looked guilty. Just when that was becoming boring, the focus shifted to what a psychopath the wife was.

I also learned that I'm a bad husband because I don't know my wife's blood type (AB positive, maybe?). In my defense, I don't know my own blood type, either.

Atlanta Braves season in review

My gosh, it was an incredibly boring season of Braves baseball. For most of the season, the Bravos flirted with playoff contention despite being overwhelmingly mediocre. Then came the inevitable September collapse.

Here are some thoughts on the key players:
  1. Freddie Freeman (1B): Pretty good.
  2. Justin Upton (LF): Incredibly streaky. Overall, pretty good.
  3. BJ Upton (CF): An absolute black hole in the lineup who will be crippling the Braves' payroll for years to come. The good news is, this year he improved from being one of the worst hitters of all time to merely being horrible.
  4. Andrelton Simmons (SS): Great defense. I still think he can be a good hitter; his low strikeout rate and decent power indicates some latent hitting skill.
  5. Jason Heyward (RF): Advanced statistics will tell you that Heyward is one of the best overall players in the league, thanks to incredible defense. I'm not buying it.
  6. Nobody (2B): The Braves didn't really have a second baseman this year. Hopefully they'll get someone for next season.
  7. Chris Johnson (3B): Hits lefties well. Should never bat against righties. Would be a solid platoon player.
  8. Evan Gattis (C): Great power. I'm not sure he'll be able to stay healthy.
  9. Pitchers: Julio Teheran and Alex Wood are very good young pitchers. Everyone else is decent.