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.

Killing Them Softly (0/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 97 minutes.

Not for children.

This is a disgusting, profane, absurdly violent film about sleazy hitmen and stupid gangsters. It was so offensive that my female guest walked out. The film should have easily qualified for an NC-17 rating.

Although it's not surprising that the king of the F-bomb, Ray Liotta, is one of the stars, what is surprising is that Liotta doesn't drop any that I can remember. But everyone else does.

Written and directed by Andrew Dominik from the novel Cogan's Trade by George V. Higgins it starts out with a fringe wiseguy, Johnny Amato (Vincent Curatola), pitching an idea to hit a poker game run by Markie Trattman (Liotta) to a broke young crook just out of jail, Frankie (Scoot McNairy), and his buddy Russell (Ben Mendelsohn), a goofy Aussie petty criminal. I was initially taken by the outstanding acting, especially by McNairy and Mendelsohn, and the fine pace of the film as it started out, even though the language was one F-bomb after another.

But the language continues to be gross throughout the movie and the violence is graphic and repellent. Unfortunately the cold-blooded killing and graphic violence might not be as off putting because there is not one character in the movie who engenders any sympathy. But the way one of the cast is brutally beaten is over the top.

What interested me in the movie was the outstanding cast which also includes Brad Pitt, Richard Jenkins, Sam Shepard, and James Gandalfini. These are people who have, in the past, done good work in fine films. I don't understand why they would lend their names and talents to something degrading like this. Gandalfini is particularly repugnant, especially when he describes sexual activity with a prostitute leaving nothing to the imagination.

Throughout the film some sort of point is apparently tried to be made because many scenes have a background of a television set with either Obama or McCain giving a speech during the 2008 campaign. The idea seems to be that being a gangster is just another business and this is a film about business as usual and killing someone is like undercutting the price of a competitor, just something that needs to be done to make business work.

Pitt ends the film with a scathing condemnation of Thomas Jefferson that comes out of the blue, dealing with complex questions about Jefferson's character in a typically Hollywood superficial manner. What he says has absolutely nothing to do with the plot of the film. To end this disagreeable movie with such a surly commentary is probably appropriate.

I have a law school classmate who refuses to see any movie whose cast or crew includes any of these big mouth political numbskulls like Pitt who use their celebrity to spout their political opinions. I try to tell him that he misses a lot of good entertainment by doing this, but he is adamant. When I see something gratuitous like this, though, I tend to be more sympathetic to his point. Giving money to support nincompoops like Pitt is hard to justify. Fortunately, I don't have to pay to see them, so they don't make anything off of me. But I would now think twice before actually paying to see a film in which Pitt had a role.