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.

Killer Joe (5/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 103 minutes.

Not for children, rated NC/17.

For director William Friedkin, a guy who prides himself on filming graphic violence, this contains one of the phoniest fights since Republic stopped making Roy Rogers movies (which was 1951 with Roy's second to last western feature film, Pals of the Golden West; he made one more, Son of Paleface in 1952, but that was with Bob Hope and Paramount). Emile Hirsch gets beat up by two bikers in the middle of the film and it is so poorly done you can actually see space between the attackers' fists and Emile's body. It's so bad it's laughable.

Unfortunately, Friedkin makes up for this with the final 20 minutes of graphic and emotional violence that ruined the movie for me. Before that, it's a clever story, based on the 1994 play by Tracy Letts' (who also wrote the screenplay). Hirsch and his father, Thomas Haden Church, hire Dallas detective, Killer Joe (Matthew McConaughey), who moonlights as a contract killer, to kill Hirsch's mother and Church's first wife to get insurance money.

The acting is very good, highlighted by Juno Temple, who plays Hirsch's sister and whom McConaughey demands as collateral for the job since neither Hirsch nor Church has the money to pay him up front. Juno is the pivotal key to the movie, allowing her family to prostitute her out. McConaughey views her as his potential salvation. The movie wouldn't work without her effective performance as a kind of Baby Doll, which required lots of nudity, some of it full frontal. Gina Gershon gives a terrific performance as Church's present wife. Church provides needed comic relief as the simple-minded husband who just goes along with his goofy son and wife.

McConaughey is continuing his effort to be recognized as more than a pretty smile, taking more challenging roles than the frivolous leading man in romantic comedies, and this one shows his breadth of talent because he's a charming psychotic killer until the last 20 minutes.

It's an intricate tale that would have gotten a much higher rating from me but for the disgusting, over-the-top graphic violence and really silly but graphic simulated sex scene in the finale.

June 21, 2012