Cooperstown Crier - Your Source for Hometown News - Cooperstown, Baseball Hall of Fame

Book Notes

August 1, 2013

'42' a must-see biopic; hits on bigger issues in life

Of all the civil rights pioneers in this country probably the least appreciated is Jackie Robinson. Most people know that he broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier in 1947, but few realize the racial taunts, abuse and humiliation he endured to ensure a pathway for other African-Americans to follow. His ability to outlast the assault on his dignity and produce a Hall of Fame career speaks volumes about his courage as well as his talent.

Robinson’s legacy is in the news this year because of the release of “42,” the biopic that focuses on his rookie season with the Brooklyn Dodgers. For those who do not know the story, Dodgers’ general manager Branch Rickey decided in 1945 that it was time to break the color barrier and looked for the ideal player who encompassed the ability and the temperament to be a successful trailblazer. Robinson proved to be that man.

In the movie, Chadwick Boseman plays Robinson. He is not a well-known actor, but is the spitting image of the man he portrays. Harrison Ford also looks the part of the crotchety Rickey and together they provide the chemistry of two pioneers who are changing history. The most pivotal role may belong to Alan Tudyk who plays Philadelphia Phillies’ manager and chief villain Ben Chapman and is merciless in trash talking Robinson with the “N” word. The film is worth seeing simply because it gets its point across.

As a cinematic marvel, “42” is lacking. It’s one of those Hollywood films that takes artistic license beyond the pale. In a word, it’s too schmaltzy. There are scenes that are overdramatized and in at least one case blatantly false. For those that don’t know Robinson’s story it may not matter, but for those that do, it’s enough to make you cringe.

Text Only
Book Notes
  • Biography of Neil Armstrong shines light on space program We just celebrated the 45th anniversary of the first lunar landing. We all remember Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, uttering those famous words, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.â€� It was an exciting time for our country and the world. There was talk of a mission to Mars by 1980. Instead, we haven’t been to the moon since 1972 and manned space exploration has become an afterthought. What happened?

    July 31, 2014

  • Early 'blahs' sometimes hide a gem There are often films that sound rather "blah" when you first notice them and have no interest in seeing. It's usually due to the preview either being really stupid or the producers wanting to avoid giving away too much of the plot. If it's the latter category you must be careful. Sometimes there's a gem of a movie hidden behind the facade.

    July 24, 2014

  • 'Moneyball' author tackles Wall Street with 'Flash Boys' Have you ever read a book that feels like it's in a foreign language? It covers a subject you know is important and figure at some point it will all make sense. What do you do when that doesn't happen? Obviously, the easiest solution is to toss the book aside. But what if the underlying message is something you "get" and don't want to give up on? I faced that dilemma recently.

    July 17, 2014

  • MacNeil reading highlights novels Several weeks ago I had the good fortune to attend a talk by Robert MacNeil at the Guilderland Public Library. MacNeil is best known as the former co-host of the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour on PBS. He retired in 1995 but has continued to write both fiction and non-fiction. His talk at Guilderland focused on two of his novels, "Burden of Desire" written in 1992, and its sequel, "Portrait of Julia," which was published last year.

    July 10, 2014

  • 'The Monuments Men' shows important history World War II continues to hold a special place in the hearts of readers and movie goers. The reasons are many but much of it can be traced to the endless number of storylines from that conflict. There is literally a treasure trove of material that keeps emerging. The latest example is the movie, “The Monuments Men.â€�

    July 3, 2014

  • Authors not afraid to think like freaks Conventional wisdom is something we automatically take for granted. It can be something as simple as assuming there is no cure for the common cold or political polls being a good indicator of who will win an election. Common assumptions of course can be wrong but we usually just accept them as fact. However, in many cases it would be much better to think "outside the box" and consider an alternative way of looking at the world.

    June 26, 2014

  • Book goes further into Armstrong's lies There hasn't been a shortage of elite athletes that have fallen from grace in recent years. Most of them have been baseball players who have been caught using performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) and then lying about it. Golfer Tiger Woods fell from his pedestal because of extra-marital affairs. He has yet to regain his previous aura and perhaps never will. But the loudest crash of all came from cyclist Lance Armstrong who was not only a liar and a cheat but ruined other people's lives in the process.

    June 19, 2014

  • Documentary proves Butch, Sundance still enchant "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" is one of the most popular films of all-time. The 1969 Western is based on the real life exploits of two infamous outlaws whose specialty was robbing trains. They became folk heroes because they supposedly never shot anyone.

    June 12, 2014

  • Pohl's call-up reminds me of Feinstein book We recently learned that Cooperstown native and professional baseball player Phillip Pohl was promoted to the AAA farm team of the Oakland Athletics where he played for nearly a month. For those that don't know, AAA is the highest minor league before reaching the major leagues.

    June 5, 2014

  • Movie gives clues into real Disney Everyone has heard of Walt Disney. How can you not when Disneyland and Disney World are the most popular family vacation spots around. Add in his historic cartoons and animated features and you have a Hollywood legend. But how many people know what the man himself was like?

    May 29, 2014