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 stories in their own words.

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

Thumbnails Dec 15

by Tony Medley

Getting to the Nutcracker (10/10): This moving documentary about the Marat Daukayev Ballet Theater located at Wilshire and LaBrea preparing its young (ages 6-18) dancers for The Nutcracker is as sweet and charming as Tchaikovsky’s music. Watching these eager little children, who basically are devoting every possible hour to the dance they obviously love, can’t help but bring tears to your eyes. Many of the dancers in the show live in our area. Don’t miss this when it appears on PBS.

The Letters (9/10): This is the fascinating tale of how Mother Theresa (a brilliant Juliet Stevenson) started out and what she accomplished. The story is told by 85year old Max von Sydow as a flashback. Apparently she wrote letters to her spiritual superiors throughout her lifetime (that she wanted destroyed) that reveal that she was a tortured soul. According to Rutger Hauer, investigating her for sainthood, “She suffered greatly, stemming from her belief that she had been abandoned by God.”

Spectre (9/10): There’s only one person alive who can kill James Bond; Daniel Craig. All the prior iterations had James as a womanizing, double-entendre dropping secret agent who never let a beautiful woman pass by unattended to. Craig, however, is unconvincing as a man who finds women sexually appealing; so gone are most of the womanizing, gags, and double-entendres. Craig turns this into a straight action film. The CGI and special effects are terrific, especially the opening. This is definitely not what we have come to expect as a Bond film, but it’s still a good actioner.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (7/10): Jennifer Lawrence is beautiful, easy to watch, and gives a good performance. With attractive special effects and CGI, it might be more interesting if you’ve seen the first three films, but this can stand on its own, too.

The Peanuts Movie (5/10): I was one of the original fans of Peanuts, starting in the ‘50s. I still start each day reading that day’s strip. I liked all the TV shows, too. Unfortunately, this new try doesn’t have Charles Schulz to write the script and it doesn’t have Bill Melendez to direct and, maybe the biggest loss of all, it doesn’t have Vince Guaraldi to write the iconic, mood-capturing music. As a result, it pretty much fails on all levels. I started looking at my watch after ten minutes.

The Night Before (5/10): Seth Rogen admitted on The Today Show that when growing up as a Jewish kid in Canada, Christmas “alienated” him. So he’s getting his revenge with this F-bomb and expletive filled thing that defies categorization. It’s not a comedy because it’s not funny. It’s not a romance because it’s not romantic. It’s not a Christmas movie because it’s can’t possibly be seen by children and Christmas is really about children. Worse, the only Santa Clauses shown are drunk.

Youth (3/10): I can see no reason or justification for a movie that makes aging seem so depressing, dispiriting, angry, and lonely, although viewing it does make two hours seem like ten.

Trumbo (1/10): True to Hollywood’s political slant, this ignores the main problem with the Hollywood Ten, of which Trumbo was a charter member: all pledged allegiance to Joseph Stalin and actively pursued and disseminated their Communist ideology. This movie ignores most of what Trumbo and his Hollywood Ten comrades did other than being pro-union activists. For a decade they filled their films with subtle Communist propaganda, and Trumbo was a leader in this regard. The film conceals the fact that Trumbo wrote, “Every screen writer worth his salt wages the battle in his own way—a kind of literary guerilla warfare.” They were just as disloyal to America as Alger Hiss and Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.