▪ What a beautiful Friday, huh? This can’t be January.
▪ I used to think I was a movie guy. But of the eight flicks nominated for Best Picture by the Oscars this year, I’ve seen part of one – The Grand Budapest Hotel. And I’ve found that movie so methodical and slow that I haven’t made it through all the way yet. What does this say about me?
▪ I will see one of the Academy Award-nominated movies this weekend. That’s a promise.
▪ Not seeing these movies won’t stop me from making predictions. However, these predictions are subject to change once I actually see some of the movies. Here goes: Best Picture – The Theory of Everything; Best Actor – Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything; Best Actress – Julianne Moore, Still Alice; Best Supporting Actor – J.K. Simmons, Whiplash; Best Supporting Actress – Patricia Arquette, Boyhood; Best director – Richard Linklater, Boyhood.
▪ So Kansas is all alone in first place in the Big 12 basketball race. Iowa State’s loss at Baylor makes Saturday’s KU-ISU game in Ames a little less interesting. But not much. The Cyclones and their fans will be buzzing. KU looks like a vulnerable team, but I’m not sure there’s another club in the Big 12 that can pounce on that vulnerability.
▪ No KU player needs a big game more than junior Perry Ellis. I’m not sure what’s going on with Ellis, whose numbers across the board are down from last season. He’s especially struggling to make shots and was just one for eight against Oklahoma State in KU’s win over the Cowboys on Tuesday night. Ellis, who played with so much confidence last season and during the early part of this season, doesn’t look like the same guy. And it doesn’t look to me like the Jayhawks are as committed to involving him in the offense as they were earlier.
▪ Wichita State has a big road test Saturday at Evansville, starting at 1 p.m. The Shockers, 5-0 in the Missouri Valley Conference and 15-2 overall, have won 23 consecutive Valley games, a record. WSU will need senior Darius Carter to stay out of trouble because the Purple Aces have the conference’s best big man, 6-foot-10 junior Egidijus Mockevicius, from Lithuana. He averages 13.7 points and 10.9 rebounds per game and shoots nearly 65 percent from the field.
▪ Evansville also has, of course, 6-2 junior guard D.J. Balentine, who is averaging 20.5 points per game and who had scored at least 12 points in 16 consecutive games this season before being held to seven points on 2-of-12 shooting by Missouri State on Wednesday night. The Shockers’ best defender, Tekele Cotton, will draw the Balentine assignment, no doubt. But Evansville (13-4, 3-2) has other scorers. The Purple Aces and Shockers have tremendous starting fives but are both trying to establish more depth with younger players. It should be a great game and the Shockers’ Valley winning streak is in jeopardy. No doubt about it.
▪ Kansas State seems to have righted its ship with three straight wins. But the Wildcats begin a difficult Big 12 stretch Saturday with a home game against Baylor. That will be followed by a game at Iowa State, home games against Oklahoma State and West Virginia and a game against Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse on Jan. 31. KSU is 3-1 in the Big 12. What will the Cats’ record be after these challenges?
▪ Sometimes people make fun of me because I’m such a big American Idol fan. I scoff at those people because they just don’t understand. First, it’s a singing competition and who doesn’t like to listen to good singers? Second, AI tells great stories about many of its participants. These are common people attempting to do the uncommon. How could anyone not buy into that?
▪ So far, two Kansans have advanced to the Hollywood round on American Idol, including Wichitan Cameron Bedell, who went to Maize High. Parsons native Anton Bushner, a country singer, also got a pass to Hollywood from judges Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr. I’m not talent judge, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see both guys go far in the competition.
▪ I’ve had this hunch that the St. Louis Cardinals were going to do something big in acquiring a pitcher, but I thought it would happen this week. It hasn’t yet. I still feel like the Cardinals are a possibility for free-agent right-hander Max Scherzer, even at an exorbitant price. And I wouldn’t be shocked if St. Louis trades for Philadelphia Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels. I don’t think the Cardinals should be in the mix for 33-year-old right-hander James Shields, formerly of the Kansas City Royals. Especially if Shields, as reported, has a $110 offer on the table from a team, unnamed, that he doesn’t want to play for.
▪ Seattle and New England look like the clear-cut winners in the NFC and AFC championship games Sunday. But, of course, there’s rarely such a thing as a clear-cut winner in the NFL, so expect one or both of those games not to go as expected. But the most fascinating Super Bowl would be the Seahawks vs. the Patriots, right?
▪ The Atlanta Hawks are 31-8. I have nothing more to add. I’m just astounded that the Atlanta Hawks are 31-8 and four games up on the Washington Wizards in the Eastern Conference of the NBA.
▪ I think I was happier when I wasn’t carrying a phone around 24/7. But maybe not. I’ve stopped to check my phone four or five times just while writing these musings. And there was nothing happening. There rarely is. Yet I keep checking to see if there’s a text, a Facebook update, something interesting on Twitter, etc.
▪ I’m not sure any of it has enhanced my life. I guess that’s where my confusion about modern technology comes from. But when I write or say things like this it just makes me sound old. Well, I am old. Older, anyway. Almost 60, in fact. And I can handle these modern contraptions as well as anybody. So there.
▪ I’ve missed the first couple episodes of Empire on Fox. Have I missed anything? Do I need to catch up? I am happy that the final season of Justified starts Tuesday night. That’s one of my can’t-miss shows.
▪ Does anyone read books anymore? It’s been a long time since I came across anyone reading a book. I should read more, but I’m too busy seeing what people are saying on Facebook.
▪ It’s a great Friday, everyone. Get out and enjoy it. Put down your phone and frolic in the warmth. Musings will be back next week.