Saturday, September 29, 2018

Review of "Church: A Fascinating Journey," edited by Andy Cubit

Review of
Church: A Fascinating Journey, edited by Andy Cubit 

Four out of five stars
 This book is an edited compilation of contributions by a staff of three others and it reads like that. It is the life story of Churchill (Church) Williams, a man that lived most of his life in Oelwein, Iowa. He grew up under tough circumstances, losing his mother at the age of six and his father at the age of nine. His older sister took over leadership of the family until she was killed in an industrial accident when Church was fourteen. Taken in by a kindly farm family, he worked hard on the farm and was barely able to scrape up enough to attend and graduate from what was then known as Iowa State Teachers College in 1938.
 Church served with distinction as an airman in the Second World War in the Pacific theater and was transferred back to the mainland to serve as an instructor well before the war ended. Once he was discharged, he was employed at a bank and was very successful. His development of personal resources and relationships with others provided the tools he needed for a life of leading programs that led to success in the development of important community improvement projects. He was so successful in these endeavors that the name of “Church” was known throughout the Oelwein community.
 This book is a factual recapitulation of the life of Churchill Williams and his accomplishments. There is very little in the way of embellishment or laudatory opinion, it is simply the story of the life of a man that made a difference.

Review of "Christmas Eve," DVD version

Review of
Christmas Eve, DVD version

Three out of five stars
 The premise of this movie is one that has appeared in several iterations, due to circumstances beyond their control, people are placed in close proximity for an extended period of time. In this case, several groups of people are trapped in several elevators due to a power outage. The largest group is a set of musicians in a freight elevator and the smallest is one person caught in a cage-like construction elevator on the side of a building. The outage is due to a van hitting a structure in the power grid and the event takes place on Christmas Eve.
 The person alone in the elevator is a real nasty man that makes unreasonable demands on everyone and wants to fire anyone that doesn’t conform to his views of proper behavior. (Satisfying his whims before he expresses them.) He is played by Patrick Stewart, a role quite different from others that viewers are more familiar with. The character is so nasty that the viewer has a little hope that he will simply fall out of the cage.
 In the other stalled elevators, the people find themselves interacting in ways that they ordinarily would not. Forced to pass the time in a small space with little else to do, they engage in some intense interaction. Some of it opens with hostility and uncertainty, while in other situations they start friendly and then grow antagonistic. Much of the changes in their behavior is predictable, there is some mellowing out of the more extreme behavioral outliers as they have time to reevaluate their actions.
 This is not an intense movie, several different “trapped in an elevator” situations are explored, with some changed behaviors and a lot of relief followed by simply getting on with their lives. There is change, but the viewer is generally left uncertain as to the extent.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Review of "Kickoff!" By Tiki & Ronde Barber

Review of
Kickoff! By Tiki & Ronde Barber, ISBN 9780545096683

5 out of 5 stars
 The Barber twins were both quality players in the NFL, Tiki was a running back that amassed over 10,000 yards and Ronde was a defensive back. Both had long careers, Tiki played ten seasons while Ronde played sixteen.  
  This book is an attempt on the part of the brothers to write adolescent sports fiction and in general they succeed in creating a quality story. The two main characters are Tiki and Ronde Barber and they are just starting their first year of middle school. One suspects that this story is largely autobiographical.
 Even though they are athletically skilled, when they join the football team they are relegated to the lowest level on the depth charts. This leads them to question their worth and consider quitting, but following the role model of their mother, they persevere and succeed.
 As they begin to shine in practice and the players ahead of them in the depth chart get injured, bot Tiki and Ronde start getting some playing time. They experience some setbacks, but they contribute heavily to the success of their team as they move towards the championship. They also learn not to look down on an elderly widow woman that appears to be a bit demented. She turns out to be a valuable member of their community.
 This is a good story in the tradition of Scholastic Books sports fiction. There are lessons for football, school and life, all wrapped up in a story about a youth football team.