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.

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

G.I. Joe Retaliation (5/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 110 minutes.

Not for children.

This is another of those action movies that seem to be aimed solely at people who like to sit around and waste their time playing video games hour after hour. In fact, G.I. Joe was created by the toy company Hasbro as a line of action figures. The figures were adapted to video games beginning in 1983. A new game was created to coincide with the release of the first movie, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra in 2009. As might be expected, this sequel is full of totally mindless, idiotic, incredible scenes where bullets are sprayed like water, yet rarely does a hero get scratched. The two big-name stars are Duane Johnson and Bruce Willis. Johnson is back to his ďThe RockĒ persona, and moreís the pity. Because the film was on the shelf for an extended period (see below), Johnson looks a lot buffer than he does today.

As to Bruce, he has been done in by the success of the Die Hard series where one man takes on impossible odds and prevails. I know that there is a lot of money in junk like this, but it should be limited to people who canít act. Both Willis and Johnson are good performers with range beyond that required of action heroes. They put in their time with this stuff, now itís time to move on, although Willis is getting a little long in the tooth. Johnson, however could have a rewarding career in front of him, and by rewarding I donít mean just financially but professionally. He has to decide whether he would rather be Paul Newman or Arnold.

If youíre not into cartoon figures and video games (Iím not) itís a little difficult to determine the good guys from the bad guys at the outset, although I suspected that one guy who looked like he might be a good guy was, in reality, a well-established bad guy.

The scenes are nothing if not ludicrous. The fights are ridiculous. The story is something about a bad guy who takes over the US government and has a fiendish plan for the rest of the world. Itís up to the three G.I. Joes left in the world to save the world. The way they do it is incomprehensible and absurd, but thatís what you get when you pay your money for a movie like this.

Whatís really awful about this and others of its ilk is that the solutions, scenes, and resolutions defy any explanation. The filmmakers just make something happen that couldnít possibly happen. Just as a for instance, in this thing, three men are imprisoned in a capsule containing a liquid solution that puts them, paralyzed, in suspended animation. Suddenly one of them breaks out and frees the other two. It is absolutely impossible for this to happen and it is not explained how he does it. But he had to get out of the capsule or the movie wouldnít move forward, so, viola! out he comes! This type of thing happens time and again in this movie.

This film was scheduled to be released in June, 2012, but when Paramount received dismal feedback from screenings it was yanked for some reshoots, apparently to build up the role of Tatum Channing who dies at the outset. But he still dies at the outset and itís still mind-numbingly moronic.

All of that said, the 3-D (which was added after the release was delayed) is spectacular. The film might be worth seeing for the CGI-created stunts and the 3-D. But I wish theyíd stop making frivolous nonsense like this.

March 26, 2013