Posts Tagged ‘American Football’

I like rom-coms and I like fantasy movies.  Today’s reviews are for two movies which combine the rom-com and the guardian angel (fantasy) genres:  “Here Comes Mr. Jordan” and “Heaven Can Wait“.
Here Comes Mr. Jordan  —  movie review
This movie came out in 1941 and (as far as I know) was one of the first movies where the idea of an angel or guardian angel featured as a prominent plot point in the film.  The movie stars Robert Montgomery as Joe Pendleton / Bruce Farnsworth (a boxer and the “hero”), Rita Johnson as Julia Farnsworth (Bruce’s wife and “bad-guy 1”), John Emery as Tony Abbott (Farnsworth’s personal secretary and “bad-guy 2”), James Gleason as Max Corkle (Joe’s friend / trainer / manager), Evelyn Keyes as Bette Logan (the love interest for Joe / Bruce), Edward Everett Horton as Messenger 7013 (the angel in training) and Claude Rains as Mr. Jordan (the main angel in charge).
The premise is a convoluted “love will find a way”, “angels make mistakes too”, and “our fates are predetermined but the details are flexible”.  Basically, a boxer dies before his championship fight because the angel takes his spirit out of his body to avoid the person suffering the pain of death.  But, somehow, the person (Joe) wasn’t supposed to die and so he needs to go back to earth to complete his destiny (becoming champ).  The problem is his friend (Max) has had his body cremated so there is no body to return Joe to.  The head angel (Mr. Jordan) assumes control of the case and places Joe in another body of someone physically suitable.  The “someone” is Bruce who has been recently killed by his wife and secretary.  Blah, blah, blah, laughs ensue; the guilty are found out and love blossoms.  And, of course, Joe wins his title and lives happily ever after with Bette.
This is a black-and-white film which is overacted and simple to follow, but also genuinely funny and enduring.  I am quite certain I’d seen this movie in my youth, but I have no idea when it would have been.  I watched this with my wife, (who likes old movies but doesn’t normally like comedies,) and she both enjoyed it and actually laughed a couple of times.  You could knock me over with a feather…  Her reaction:  “This is the kind of movie I would have watched with my nana when I was young.”  Final recommendation: strong.  While not intended to be a “period piece”, this certainly is one – and it’s a pretty good one on that alone.  Throw in the rom-com and you’ve got a movie worth watching with your family.
Heaven Can Wait  —  movie review
This movie came out in 1978 and is a pretty straight forward remake of the original with minor character changes.  The movie stars Warren Beatty as Joe Pendleton / Bruce Farnsworth (a American football quarterback and the “hero”), Dyan Cannon as Julia Farnsworth (Bruce’s wife and “bad-guy 1”), Charles Grodin as Tony Abbott (Farnsworth’s personal secretary and “bad-guy 2”), Jack Warden as Max Corkle (Joe’s friend / trainer), Julie Christie as Bette Logan (the love interest for Joe / Bruce), Buck Henry as “the Escort” (instead of “Messenger 7013” – the angel in training) and James Mason as Mr. Jordan (the main angel in charge).  I have no idea why two Brits were chosen to play the main angels in both films.  I think it was for the accent – to make them sound more heavenly.  (LOL)
The premise(s) remain a convoluted “love will find a way”, “angels make mistakes too”, and “our fates are predetermined but the details are flexible”.  Basically, a quarterback dies before his championship game (the Super Bowl) because the angel takes his spirit out of his body to avoid the person suffering the pain of death.  But, somehow, the person (Joe) wasn’t supposed to die and so he needs to go back to earth to complete his destiny (winning the Super Bowl).  The problem (again) is his friend (Max) has had his body cremated so there is no body to return Joe to.  The head angel (Mr. Jordan) assumes control of the case and places Joe in another body of someone physically suitable.  The “someone” is Bruce who has been recently killed by his wife and secretary.  Blah, blah, blah, laughs ensue; the guilty are found out and love blossoms.  And, of course, Joe wins his Super Bowl and lives happily ever after with Bette.
This is a color film which is somewhat overacted (particularly by Cannon and Grodin – for laughs) and not as funny as the original (Warden isn’t as funny as Gleason), but it was nominated for seven Oscars (including Best Actor and Best Picture) and won one (not one of the main Oscars).  I saw this movie in my youth during its original release.  I did not watch this version with my wife who felt she didn’t want to “spoil” the memory of the original by watching the updated version.  Final recommendation: strong.  While not quite up to the original, it’s a pretty good remake.  And, again, a family film.
On This Day In:
2017 All Greek To Me
2016 Judgment
2015 I Love Bacon, Too
2014 The Wee Bit
2013 Reading Rules
2012 Cadet Prayer
2011 Easy To Tell
2010 A NEW Lion In The Senate (Channeling Mr. Smith)
Inception Redux
A Quick Hit Of Stats

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Chasing Perfection: The Principles Behind Winning Football the De La Salle Way”  (2015©)  —  book review
Today’s book review is for “Chasing Perfection” written by Bob Ladouceur with Neil Hayes.  The book is about coaching American Football at the high school level.  Ladouceur was the head coach of the varsity football team at De La Salle High School here in Concord, California.  His teams are the owners of the all-time longest winning streak in high school history (151 wins between 1992 and 2004).  To put that into some perspective, the next longest streak is 109 games!
There are lots of different types of sports books.  There are coach and player biographies.  There are league and team histories.  There are greatest games, greatest championships and greatest dynasties.  My favorites are those which discuss – in depth – schemes and techniques (in any sport).  I enjoy them because you get a chance to learn the why’s and how’s of the game which then allows you to see and understand why something is working as it is happening on the field (or court).  As such a book, this is perhaps the best book I have ever read about football – specifically, football techniques.
This is not really an “X’s” and “O’s” play diagram type of book.  It IS a “we want the tackle to have his inside foot here, his outside foot there, four to six inches back and heel no more than one inch off the ground, with this much weight on one hand” book.  That, literally, is the detail provided in the explanations in this book.  And, I love it!!
I haven’t been this excited about reading a football book — WHILE reading the football book — since I was in high school and just learning how to play.  Back then, I read a book on defensive football written by Dick Butkus and another book with chapters on various players and I was completely enthralled by Raymond Berry at wide receiver.  Berry is NFL Films #36 greatest players of all time and Butkus is, well, Butkus.  I learned more from that book and that chapter than I have from a host of other books I’ve read about the sport of football – at every level.  And this book is as good as if not better than both of those.
Every part of organizing and building a team is covered: offense, defense, special teams, nutrition, weight training, scouting opponents, game planning.  You name it.  It’s here.  Now, realistically, is it encyclopedic?  No.  But, then it’s less than 300 pages.  If you want a book with “X’s” and “O’s”, this isn’t the book.  But you can find dozens of those which still won’t add up to what you’ll learn from the reading (and re-reading) of this book.
Final recommendation: VERY highly recommended.  Not only did this book explain things I didn’t know about, it also explained the reasons why some things I used to do instinctively actually worked.  This book is so good, I would recommend it to anyone who wants to coach any sport at any level.  It is that good…
On This Day In:
2017 We Can Figure This Out
2016 Just Enough
2015 Bourne Bond
Springs Eternal
2014 Brains First
2013 Not Listening Anymore
2012 At Your Marks!
2011 We Are Not Alone
Underlying Rationality
2010 Is the Obama Administration Failing?
In Other Words…
Quite Please!
In A Hostage Situation…
Are We Done Yet?
In Order…
Proof of Choice…
On “Leading” A Democracy To War…
Actually, It’s All About Me…

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Today’s review is for a DVD I picked up for old time’s sake.  The movie is titled: “Diner” from 1982 and was directed by Barry Levinson.  This was his directorial debut and was one of four movies he made about life in his hometown: Baltimore, Maryland.  It’s is supposed to be a “comedy / drama”, but I didn’t find much to laugh about in the movie, so I guess it’s supposed to be a “black comedy”, which, in turn, means it’s “disturbing” and not funny.  Levinson is supposed to be a big deal producer / director, but I don’t follow that stuff (directors) much, so I’m not really bothered about it.  With the exception of Hitchcock and Spielberg, I don’t really “go” to a movie “because” of its director.  I guess I’m unusual that way, as it seems to matter to people I know (friends and family) a lot more than it’s ever mattered to me.  And, although I did see this movie during its original release, I have no recollection of the other three movies in the “Baltimore series”.
Anyway, this movie is kind of an adult / older version of a coming of age story.  I usually think of “coming of age” stories as teen-to-adult, not “Oh, shit!  I’m an adult.  Now what do I do with the rest of my life.”  Well, this is the latter.  It’s the story of six male friends (and the wife of one of the friends) who come together for the wedding of one of the other five (the friend played by Guttenberg).  The movie was a launching pad for some folks who later went on to have pretty well known careers for the rest of the ’80’s, including: Steve Guttenberg (the guy getting married), Daniel Stern (the guy already married), Ellen Barkin (his wife), Mickey Rourke (playing a macho hairdresser, unlike Warren Beatty in “Shampoo“), Kevin Bacon (as a young alcoholic with surprising intelligence jerk), Tim Daly (as the handsome guy in the group), Paul Reiser (as the “I have no idea why this guy is in this group of friends or this movie” character).
Now, you may be asking, why did this movie make Kevin’s list “for old time’s sake”?  Well, growing up, I used to follow the American football team based in Baltimore – the Colts – because I really liked their quarterback (Johnny Unitas) and one of their wide receivers (Raymond Berry).  The hooks (for me) in this movie are: before the Guttenberg character will marry his fiancé, she has to pass a test of knowledge about the history of the Colts and the NFL; the music played during the bride’s procession to the altar is the Colt’s theme / fight song; and, the wedding colors are Colt’s Blue and White.  The best line in the movie is when a female / spouse complains to one of the wedding guest characters about the wedding colors and he responds: “Hey, she should be grateful he doesn’t support the Steelers.”  For those of you who know little to nothing about American Football, the Pittsburgh Steelers colors are black and gold.  The “gold” has always looked more “yellow” to my eye, but it is supposed to be gold.  The fiancé narrowly fails the test, but he marries her anyway.  In my head, I can see a Steeler fan telling his fiancé their wedding colors will be Black and Gold…  Heck, I can see that now, let alone back in 1959!!
I don’t know if Americans “come of age” while sitting in diners anymore.  Perhaps they – diners – (like my own youth) are a thing of the past in these days of malls and franchise restaurants, but if you want to see a little slice of “Americana” as it was in earlier days (at least it is similar to how I remember late nights and early morning hours from my late teens and early twenties), then this is a pretty accurate snapshot and you should check out this movie.
Final recommendation: moderate recommendation.  A darker and more East Coast version of “American Graffiti“, without the cars / crusin’.  Good music, good writing and good character actors.
On This Day In:
2013 Judgement
2012 Stuck In My Mind
Life’s Hope
2011 Just Getting Up
Directions Please

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Today the San Francisco Forty Niners won their wildcard playoff game against the Green Bay Packers by 23 to 20!  Go Niners!!
While I am obviously happy with the result, I am increasingly frustrated by watching the “game”.  Not just this game – all NFL (National Football League) games.  It really seems to me as if the refs (League?) have decided not to play the games by the rules.  The most egregious of these “no-calls” is pass interference.  Basically, a defender is allowed to butt/jam an offensive receiver once during the first five yards from the line of scrimmage (where the play starts).  After that, anything but “incidental” contact is considered “pass interference” until the ball touches the offensive player.  There are also a couple of ancillary rules, for example, a defensive player must “play the ball”.  This means the defender cannot watch the offensive player and then knock the ball away while making no attempt to see where the ball is.  Another rule is that both players have the right to catch the ball once it is in the air.  This also means an offensive player cannot strike the defensive player while the ball is in the air.
What is actually happening is that both teams’ players are now fighting each other in and after the 5-yard zone and before and after the ball is in the air.  And the Ref’s are letting them (the players) “play on”.  “Letting the players, play” is TV commentator speak for players breaking the rules and the refs doing nothing about it.  It has gotten so bad that at least one team (the Seattle Seahawks) coaches their team to “play aggressively” (i.e. ignore the rules) because they “know” the refs won’t throw a flag on every play.
The problem, of course, is the coaches are correct because the League allows it, not because the refs won’t do it.  In reality, if the League instructed the refs (and advised the teams) that these tactics are in violation of the rules and penalties should (will) be enforced from the start of each game, then the refs would comply, the coaches and players would recognize the rules are being enforced and they would then stop breaking the rules.
Now before any Seattle fans get all bent out of shape by my comments, let me just say: I’ve noticed over the last few weeks that the Niners have begun to play the same “aggressive” game.  I am not excusing my team, just as I am not accusing the Seahawks, in specific.  My accusation is against the NFL.  You either have rules and throw flags when the rules are violated or you get rid of the rules which you don’t want to consistently (and fairly) enforce.  It seems like a simple choice to me…
On This Day In:
2013 Spoiling For Fame?
2012 How Many?
2011 Too Tired To Chat Much
2010 I Must Be Crazy!!


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The Receiver

The senses keen;
The muscles loose;
The wait, the acceleration;
The break, the freedom,
Jumping, extending;
Touching, holding!
Running! Racing!
Free!  Free!  Free!

[This was part two of my reminiscing about playing pick-up football games at the park, back in my teens.  

On offense, the players know the intent of the play.  The wide-receiver stands away from the fray.  His job is to elude one man (sometimes two), catch the ball, and then run to the end zone for the score.  Sometimes, it happens that way.  More often than not, it doesn’t.  But running free – ball in hand, away from the defense, remains the “dream” of every receiver.

For the defenses “view” of the play, see yesterday’s “Glory Days (Part 1)“.  —  KMAB]


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The Linebacker

Slow, precise, close;
Waiting, anticipating, reacting.
Accelerating, moving, hitting;
Crashing, recoiling, falling.
Rising, smiling, knowing.

The waiting, the thrill, the movement;
The hit, especially the hit;
The rising, especially the rising;
The knowing, especially the knowing:
Especially the knowing.

[Back in my teens, I used to play a lot of pick-up football down at the park.  Because you played with the number of guys who were there, you typically had to play both offense and defense.  On defense, I liked to play linebacker.  Defense is very reactive.  You never really know what the offense will do, but sometimes it doesn’t matter.  If you can get “in the zone” where you are reacting practically as fast as the offense is moving, you can (in essence) seize the initiative and become the aggressor.  When this happens, time slows down and the tackle becomes effortless – an extension of your life force.  And when you stand up, you feel as if you were born to this act – the tackle – and could do it all day.

By the way, the title to this post comes from the song “Glory Days” as performed by Bruce Springsteen.  The song is about adults living in the past or perhaps just longing for their youth – depending on your mood.  I’ve always found the song amusing as I’ve been both the listener and the teller of these same “tall tales” about way back when.  Tomorrow, the offensive side…  —  KMAB]


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Players must execute.  They can’t depend on emotion to win.  It doesn’t matter how much you want to win the game.  Everyone in the NFL is intense.  It’s foolish to think we can out intensity them.  The bottom line is: Can we execute a series of plays almost flawlessly?  Only through repetition and experience with those plays can each player complete the necessary assignments.  If you want something too badly, you can throw yourself out of sync trying to make a play that isn’t really achievable.  It’s not the attitude or the personnel that does it.  It’s how well you do things.  Don’t count on heroics.  Count on execution, on the things we have practiced and are good at.
   —  Bill Walsh
Former 49er Head Coach
As quoted in “The Genius“, written by David Harris

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