Monday, October 12, 2015

One Side of a Football Story

The Blind Side: Evolution of a GameThe Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

FOO-BAH! FOO-BAH! 24-7, 365 Days a Year!

Seriously, doesn't it seem like football is happening year 'round these days? The NFL with the help of ESPN has done a hell of a job making themselves ubiquitous. Lucky for me, I love the game. Sucks for those who don't, though...

The Blind Side is a nice, concise slice of today's true American Pastime, and it's the sort of feel-good story that will appeal to a broad audience (and by broad I don't necessarily mean dames!) *twiddles cigar and jiggles eyebrows ala Groucho Marx*.

This is essentially the story of Michael Oher, current NFL offensive lineman, former skid row forgotten child of delinquent parents. This is also the story of privileged white Christians plucking a boy from the ghetto and raising him as their own, giving him an opportunity he would've otherwise never had.

Much of author Michael Lewis' book tells Oher's heart-warming tale. When not evoking tearjerking scenes, he occasionally questions the morality of the sport in question as well as the people that thrust this naturally athletic kid into it. Analysis of the game's (after all, Evolution of the Game is its subtitle) progression and how it's changed the very shape of the players who play it runs through out and provides a nice base from which to play off the Oher example.

Football enthusiasts, historians and strategists may glean some interesting insights from this well-written, flowing story with its palatably presented data tucked in as thought-nuggets through out. Very nice read. I can see why they made a movie out of it, which I ought to get around to watching someday.

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The Sword in the StoneThe Sword in the Stone by T.H. White
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A time-traveling Merlin? Stop it, White ol' boy, you're killing me!

TH White's version of the King Arthur myth is...unusual. It's not a straight up retelling of the tale that tries to pinpoint any kind of actual date upon when the "real" King Arthur lived and base the story in that period. It floats about, taking little bits of history from here, a legend or two from there, and cobbles them together. It makes for an interesting fantasy.

It's also distracting. I'm the sort that likes to get immersed in my fantasy. I want to feel like I'm in that world. So, when a ghost knight is questing after a mythical beast and out of nowhere the author is talking about police officers it breaks up my willing suspension of disbelief. Funny, I know, that something that's real should ruin my belief of something fake. It worked so well in Python's "The Holy Grail"...


Ah, but I'm making too much of this and right from the start of my review. The fact is I really enjoyed The Stone in the Stone. The above gripe is a relatively minor one. For the most part I was able to sit back and enjoy the fantastical scenes, colorful imagery and oddball characters cooked up by White. It's an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink kind of book at times, but you just have to go with it, because of course it would be a kooky life, the adolescence of the man who later drew a sword from a stone in order to become king, referenced water spirits for his life choices and overcame the Knights Who Say Ni with a two letter word and a herring. Damn it. Now I'm the one mixing things up!

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