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. This is the only book that gives a true picture of the character of John Wooden and the influence of his assistant, Jerry Norman, whose contributions Wooden  ignored and tried to bury.

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

Click the book to read the first chapter and for ordering information. Also available on Kindle.

The Big Year (2/10)

by Tony Medley

Run time 99 minutes.

OK for children.

One of the major prerequisites for a successful movie is that the protagonist be someone with whom the audience can identify. One must be on Jason Bourne's side as he eludes everyone out to get him. One must agree with Scarlett O'Hara that "tomorrow is another day." One must commiserate with Rick when he says, "We'll always have Paris."

So to make a movie about people who sublimate everything in their lives to looking at birds is a stretch. Poor Owen Wilson. After Paris at Midnight I thought he had broken out of his almost unbroken stretch of rotten movies. But, alas, here he is again in a movie that could break the record for most times looking at a watch to see how much longer the thing can last.

He's joined by Steve Martin and Jack Black, both of whom are very familiar with rotten movies, since they've both spent the better part of their filmmaking lives making them. I'm sure that there are people who do what the three of them do in this movie, looking at birds, but most people will have a very difficult time admiring people who fly all over the world, just on the hope that a bird might be in some far flung locale, like the island Attu in the Aleutians, which is closer to Tokyo than Anchorage, Alaska. But that's what these people do in this movie.

"The Big Year" is apparently something that bird watchers do; who can see the most different species of birds within a single year. Wilson is the record holder. Martin and Black are out to top him, so it's a kind of nerdy competition.

Wilson's obsession has cost him one wife (at least) and the one he has now is understanding beyond belief as he chases his birds, ignoring her for the entire year. Martin is a big corporate CEO who has a bird obsession and Black is a down and out loser living with his parents who is also struck with the same obsession. All have families who are so supportive that it defies credibility.

The only redeeming grace of this movie is the cinematography of the different locales. None of them find their birds on the streets of Manhattan. They have to go to exotic locations from the Yukon to the Florida Keys with places like Whistler, Vancouver, Tofino, New York City, California's Joshua Tree in between. There are some beautiful shots that would make any travelogue proud. Unfortunately, there's a story in between.

October 12, 2011