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Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Writer's Life 5/14 - Measures

In the late 50's and early 60's nuclear war seemed a real possibility. My heart would race at night in bed whenever I heard a siren. Now that that threat has long since passed and been replaced by terrorism, it is fashionable for elites to lampoon the former. It is easy to look back and ridicule policies that now seem to have been over-reach. Unfortunately, the leaders of the previous era did not have a crystal ball. They relied on espionage. This is the basis of Steven Spielberg's Bridge of Spies (2015), which I caught up to last night courtesy of Netflix. I was irked by the first half of the film, which condemns the American mindset of the cold war era and, indirectly, the mindset since 9/11. Every U.S. official except the protagonist comes off as an agent of the dark side. The second half, which concentrates on the intrigue involved in the swap of the Soviet spy for U2 pilot Francis Gary Powers and a student arrested by the East Germans, is more subtle and much more rewarding. Is the narrative historically accurate? There is a good piece about it at Although I had no problem believing the lawyer who defended the communist operative was subjected to abuse and threats, I was suspicious of his house having been shot up. It didn't happen. And he didn't have his coat stolen by a gang of East German youths. Other than than those two instances and sketchy details about the student, the story seems on the up and up. 158,000+ users at IMDb have rated the movie, forging to a consensus of 7.6 of ten. On a scale of five, I say 3.25. The commentary section at IMDb is interesting. Many view the film as American propaganda, which is absurd given the unflattering portrait of just about every Yank official. Worse, many believe there was a moral equivalence between the USA and the USSR. Of course, America has its sins, but far fewer than other major powers throughout the course of history. The communist murdered millions in a very short span. To place them on the same plain as America is drivel. Anyway, the film was nominated for six Oscars. Mark Rylance won for Best Supporting Actor. He has the ability to dominate without ever raising his voice, possessed of the x-factor that separates the best from the rest. Tom Hanks turns in another solid performance as the lawyer/negotiator. Alan Alda, Amy Ryan and the ubiquitous Michael Gaston have supporting roles. The running time is 2:22. The impatient would likely have a problem with the slow place. The style and tone is more like the serious films on the subject from the 60's. The authenticity of time and place is first rate. It wasn't a blockbuster at the box office, but it was successful. Made on a budget of $40 million, it took in $72 million in the USA alone. It's a solid addition to Spielberg's awesome canon. The Coen brothers assisted Matt Charman on the screenplay, which got me to thinking how interesting it would be if they collaborated with Quentin Tarantino, who I believe should be filming the work of others until he comes up with material that isn't just a variation of what he's done previously.  

I played high school football and coached during six years, three in Michigan, three in Brooklyn, during the 70's. I interspersed my most memorable experiences throughout my second novel, Adjustments. Injuries were and remain an unfortunate aspect of the game. Here are highlights from an interesting article at Yahoo Sports, edited by yours truly: "In 2010 Dartmouth made an unprecedented move to eliminate all tackling from its practices. Instead it practices maneuvers on pads and motorized tackling dummies. The result has been fewer concussions, fewer major injuries and more wins. Big Green has had no fewer than five wins in that span, and has gone 8-2 and 9-1 the previous two seasons. The Ivy League took Dartmouth’s lead in February. Its coaches voted to eliminate all full-contact hitting from practices during the regular season. It is the first conference to take such a strong stance on player safety. Other major conferences, including the Pac-12, have lessened live hitting in practice, but still have live hitting two days a week during the season. Dartmouth's coach, Buddy Teevans, recently addressed Congress, suggesting that youth and high school programs adopt Dartmouth’s model in order to preserve the game. 'Unless we change the way we coach, we won't have a game to coach,' he said." Kudos, sir.
My thanks to lovely young Lu, who bought Rising Star, and to Ralph, who purchased two more works of non-fiction today on Bay Parkway.
Vic's Short Works:
Vic's 5th Novel:'s 4th novel:
Vic's 3rd Novel:
Vic's Short Story on Kindle:
Vic's Short Story Collection:
Vic's 2nd Novel: Kindle:
Vic's 1st Novel:

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