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.

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Rambo (7/10)

by Tony Medley

It’s been 20 years since we last saw John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone, who also directed and co-wrote the script with Art Monterastelli), and he hasn’t changed much. He still doesn’t say much, but he’s as deadly as ever.

Rambo is a taste that’s savored by a group of fans who are nothing if not loyal. At my screening, which was in a local theater because Lionsgate and The Weinstein Company weren’t too enthusiastic about critics seeing it before release, the first time Rambo appeared on the screen there was applause like when the star first appears in a Broadway play.

These people are there because they trust that Rambo will give them what they expect. And they weren’t disappointed. There are still lots of bad guys, and they are very, very bad and easy to hate, and he kills them efficiently and graphically. Because of the advance in special effects, now we see them being blown to bits, cut in half, and lots of other bloody ways to die.

As the movie opens, John is living alone as a guide in northern Thailand catching poisonous snakes to sell to make money on the side. But a team of roving missionaries shows up and asks him to guide them into Burma where the world’s longest civil war rages between the brutal government and the Karen rebels. One of the missionaries is the beautiful Sarah (Julie Benz) and her husband, the idealistic Michael Bennett (Paul Schulze). John likes Sarah.

So, naturally John is talked into it; naturally the missionaries get captured by the brutal military; naturally, Rambo has to save them. He is given immeasurable help by Bryan Tyler’s up tempo music that keeps the action going throughout what is basically a rescue-chase film (first the rescue; then the chase).

In addition to the music, director Stallone keeps the action moving, without worrying too much about dialogue. Grunts are generally enough. Until the last few minutes, there are no lingering shots of characters contemplating the meaning of life or the meaning of anything. Nobody has time because the music keeps reminding them that there are people to save and bad guys to run away from and then kill.

There are terrible things going on in the repressive Burma (now called Myanmar) where a despotic military dictatorship oppresses the gentle Burmese. For an exceptionally good movie about what’s going on there, see “Beyond Rangoon” (1995). “Rambo” is like a cartoon compared with that movie, which got little play in the Clintonian ‘90s. The oppression of the Burmese was and is at least as brutal than what was going on in Kosovo, but the Clintons were extremely selective in the people they felt they should defend. With no threat to America, instead of the genocide going on in Rwanda or the atrocities in Burma/Myanmar, Clinton decided to commit American troops to Caucasian Kosovo and ignore the Africans and the Asians. Even though “Rambo” has the depth of a single sheet of paper, at least Stallone brings some attention to the horror being faced today by the brave Burmese.

This isn’t Shakespeare, but I don’t think this audience would have applauded Sir Laurence Olivier had he been the first guy to appear on the screen in tights like they did John Rambo with his muscles still bulging (even though he’s 61 years old). Stallone knows his audience. He gave them a well-timed movie (1:33) with lots of action. I knew what I was in for and I liked it. And I wasn’t alone. My guest was a young lady who rated it higher than I did.

January 26, 2008