Out of print for more than 30 years, now available for the first time as an eBook, this is the controversial story of John Wooden's first 25 years and first 8 NCAA Championships as UCLA Head Basketball Coach. Notre Dame Coach Digger Phelps said, "I used this book as an inspiration for the biggest win of my career when we ended UCLA's all-time 88-game winning streak in 1974."

Compiled with more than 40 hours of interviews with Coach Wooden, learn about the man behind the coach. Click the Book to read the players telling their stories in their own words. This is the book that UCLA Athletic Director J.D. Morgan tried to ban.

Ocean’s 13 (4/10)

by Tony Medley

When Peter Lawford proposed the first Ocean’s 11 to Frank Sinatra, circa 1960, Frank used it as a vacation in Las Vegas for him and his Rat Pack friends. The result was a mediocre movie that didn’t get a lot of audience or critical approval. But, then, most of Frank’s movies were mediocre, so that wasn’t too surprising. The best thing about that movie was that after each day’s filming, Frank, Dean, and Sammy and the rest would show up at The Sands Hotel for impromptu shows that became classics. They must have been better than the film clips that survive, however, because there’s nothing in those clips except a bunch of guys who are neither very funny nor very entertaining. The other shows that aren’t preserved on film must have been better or they couldn’t have created the mystique that surrounds them.

George Clooney is the power behind the remake and the two sequels, and he has emulated Frank by making three mediocre movies, the sine qua non of which seems to be that everybody looks and acts cool. Thirteen is the most mediocre of the bunch. This film has nothing that entertained me.

Danny Ocean (Clooney) and his gang are after casino owner Willy Bank (Al Pacino) because he double-crossed Danny’s friend and mentor, Reuben Tishkoff (Elliott Gould). Danny’s gang comes together to set up an elaborate sting to take down Willy.

It takes a special kind of talent to make a caper film without one iota of suspense or tension, but director Steven Soderbergh has done that here. Indeed, the only thing that could possibly interest anyone in this film is the sex appeal of the men for an audience of women. Some women apparently feel Clooney and Company are sexy. I can see Brad Pitt, but Clooney and Matt Damon? Well, I’m not a woman.

To their credit, they all recognize the lack of substance of what they are filming, and concentrate on what the film is about. They all walk around with looks on their faces that seem to be yelling, “Look at me; I’m cool!”  The only reason these movies are made is for the Clooney Pack to display its coolness, and that is hardly enough upon which to base a movie. Playing their game, the only actors I thought looked naturally cool were Pitt and Andy Garcia (who plays Bank’s rival casino owner, Terry Benedict), who is as comfortable in his skin as Clooney seems unconvincing in his. But, then, for my money, the only person who was really cool from Frank’s Rat Pack was Dean Martin (Elvis told Dean’s daughter, “If I’m the king of rock, your Dad is the king of cool.”). Frank always seemed to me to be trying to be as cool as Dean, but never making it. When you have to try, you don’t have it. Dean never had to try.

That’s the problem with Clooney. He’s still aping Frank, trying to be as cool as Dean. And, like Frank, he comes up short. It’s not cool to act cool when you’re not cool.

Clooney’s Pack is given a script (Brian Koppelman & David Levien) that appears to have been filled with “JTC’s” (jokes to come), hoping for funny ad libs. Either I’m wrong and everything is scripted, poorly, or the people supplying the ad libs didn’t come through. There are several lines that are meant to titillate, referring as they do to current events. Instead, they just come across as people trying too hard to be clever and fall flat.

At 113 minutes, this movie makes almost two hours seem like almost an eternity…unless you’re a woman who likes Clooney & Co., as was my friend who accompanied me to this film and who rated it a 7/10. Ringadingding…or not.

June 5, 2007