Melissa Roxburgh, Josh Dallas, and Season One of ‘Manifest’

The television show Manifest (2018- ) recently aired its final episode of a 16-episode first season on the National Broadcasting Company this past Monday, February 18th. The future looks promising for this supernatural drama series, which began its run last September, aims to capture an audience similar to the show Lost (2004-2010), a predecessor show featuring passengers of a plan wreck on the American Broadcasting Company to high ratings.

Manifest 3 - Melissa Roxburgh(Melissa Roxburgh as Michaela Stone on Manifest).

Melissa Roxburgh stars the female lead of the Manifest in the role of Michaela Stone. Stone is a police detective in a complex relationship with a fellow police detective Jared Vasquez while feeling considerable guilt after a car crash that took the life of friend Evie. Michaela is passenger with her brother and nephew when their flight home from Jamaica disappears for five years. Roxburgh played Ensign Syl in the movie Star Trek Beyond (2016).

Manifest 2 - Josh Dallas(Josh Dallas as Ben Stone on Manifest).

Many will recognize Josh Dallas, who plays Michaela Stone’s brother Ben Stone, from his role as Prince Charming in the ABC series Once Upon A Time (2011-2018). Ben traveled with Michaela on Flight 828, which disappeared in turbulence on a return flight from Jamaica for five years. The passengers of the flight didn’t age or consciously recognize the passage of time, whereas everyone else continued to age. Ben is married to Grace Stone, and both were parents to twin children Olive Stone and Cal Stone.

Manifest 4 - Athena Karkanis(Athena Karkanis as Grace Stone on Manifest).

Athena Karkanis portrays Grace Stone, the mother of twins separated in age by five years due to the supernatural case of a flight that halted aging her husband and son. Grace’s time before the disappearance of Flight 828 is as well defined as sister-in-law Michaela, though we come to learn through the course of season one that Grace and Ben did not always see eye-to-eye on the best course of treatment for their cancer stricken son, Cal. While the flight was gone, Danny helps fill a void specifically left by the disappearances of Ben and Cal. Much drama ensued for Grace in season one around reconciling the conflicting feelings of love and loyalty to Ben, Danny, Olive, and Cal regarding how to navigate ambivalent and conflicted feelings.

Manifest 6 - Luna Blaise, left, and Jack Messina(Luna Blaise as Olive Stone, left, and Jack Messina as Cal Stone in Manifest).

Twins Olive and Cal Stone are played by Luna Blaise and Jack Messina, respectively. The two are portrayed as having the empathic connection of feelings commonly reported in twins while clearly being separated by five years in age after the lost time of the disappeared flight.

Olive’s story in first season first involved overcoming the confusing feelings of adolescence and loss of family members while feeling loyalty to her mother and Danny during the lost time. Interest in solving puzzles are incorporated into her narrative later in the season.

Cal is granted an insight and connection to people impacted by an ill-defined enigma of a calling that gives him visions into events that are about to happen. Cal has the ability to draw and mold images of scenes that he sees while simultaneously bearing an immense initiative for helping people based on how he interprets his visions. The larger story has placed a magnifying glass on Cal’s abilities, and his suffering through connection to other passengers who are also sensitive to the calling and have been experimented on by a mysterious government cover-up led by a mysterious government figure known as The Major. Cal, Olive, and Michaela all seem to be in a position to support the unknowable intentions that support the underlying agenda of the Major and the supernatural expressions of the calling.

Manifest 5 - Parveen Kaur(Parveen Kaur as Dr. Saanvi Bahl in Manifest).

Parveen Kaur plays Dr. Saanvi Bahl in Manifest, a doctor also on-board Flight 828 and subject to complicated personal relationships from before the lost time on her return flight from Jamaica. Bahl is first critical to getting Cal Stone into an important cancer treatment protocol that was close to being developed before the lost time, but which had been enacted by fellow doctors during the lost time. Much of the depth of Bahl’s story did not come alive until later in the season, yet seems certain to be significant as far as the calling into the second season. Bahl has been important to identifying blood markers that confirm if members have experienced lost time like those on Flight 828.

Manifest 7 - J.R. Ramirez(J.R. Ramirez as Jared Vazquez in Manifest).

J.R. Ramirez plays detective Jared Vazquez in Manifest. Vazquez had proposed marriage to Michaela Stone just before the trip Michaela took with family to Jamaica, and had been waiting for an answer when the flight disappeared for five years. During the lost time, Vazquez had married Michaela’s best friend Lourdes, as portrayed by Victoria Cartagena. The conflicting feelings for Lourdes, Michaela, and Jared were expressed at multiple points through the first season of Manifest. Like any good drama, the revelation was slowly played with depth within their narratives. The effect was appreciated and mature. Jared Vazquez also was subjected to pressure to report on the comings and goings of Michaela as part of the scheme that leads back to the Major.

Manifest 8 - Jake Rake, left top, Robert Zemeckis, left bottom, and Jack Rapke(Jake Rake, left top, Robert Zemeckis, left bottom, and Jack Rapke are executive producers to Manifest).

Jake Rake is the creator of Manifest, which includes executive producing credits for Rake along with Robert Zemeckis and Jake Rapke. Zemeckis and Rapke are the better known producers by reputation, though the mixture of the three is promising for the further development of the stories that hopefully will result in a second and subsequent seasons.

The first season of Manifest has offered some depth of emotional relationships. Mysteries aplenty are standard fair from one episode to another, with the introduction of new callings and the mixture of separate events with lost time opening new questions for the larger enigma. That the final episode of season one offered some intriguing changes for the stories, that has me wanting resolutions heading into a second season of the show.

Skip to the next paragraph if you would like to avoid the spoilers of the cliffhanger questions: the biggest cliffhanger questions for me include how much the enigma can defend itself; what is the notion for when shared callings across characters occurs; what will the exposure of the blood markers beyond the inner circle of characters mean for the larger safety of those with the calling; why is Dr. Bahl interacting with the Major; can the Stone family, Zeke, and others survive what was revealed as a predictable timeline for when members are predicted to die; will Grace, Ben, and Danny survive the questions surrounding Grace’s morning sickness and the lack of clarity around Ben or Danny being the parent; where are the relationships among Jared, Michaela, Lourdes, and Zeke headed; did Jared shoot Zeke or Zeke shoot Jared to end the first season?

Before the last episode, my questions were more focused around learning more about the line of stories including the Major, the nature of Zeke’s relationship to the enigma, and the notion of interacting with the enigma for positive or negative reasons. There seems to be an implied explanation for some of this with the nature of where the final episode left us with the first season. With that all said. my initial take on the first season of Manifest offers a rating of 4.0-stars on a scale of one-to-five stars.

Matt – Wednesday, February 20, 2019

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Richard Brookhiser and the book ‘John Marshall: The Man Who Made the Supreme Court’

John Marshall was the fourth Chief Justice of the United States of America. Marshall held the post for 34 years, beginning in 1801. Up until such time as Marshall assumed the post, the Supreme Court lacked clout, dignity, or any semblance of equality among the three federal branches of government ruling the United States of America. Richard Brookhiser wrote John Marshall: The Man Who Made the Supreme Court as a chronicle of Marshall, his effect on the court, and the legacy his time upon the court had in establishing the legitimacy of the court in America.

John Marshall 2 - John Marshall(A portrait of John Marshall).

As far as political temperament and philosophy, John Marshall was a member of the Federalist Party. Notable early Federalists included presidents George Washington and John Adams as well as founding father Alexander Hamilton. President John Quincy Adams held beliefs of the Federalists, though it is not knowable to say that the son of the second president of the United States would have been elected president if the Federalist Party still existed in 1824.

John Marshall 3 - Richard Brookhiser(Richard Brookhiser, the writer of John Marshall: The Man Who Made the Supreme Court).

In calling out party, it is important to emphasize that the story Richard Brookhiser tells within this biography is one of John Marshall‘s politics and his role in normalizing the functioning of the Supreme Court. While George Washington may have sought a one party system, party was a political force by the time of Marshall first assumed a lead role on the court. In fact, Marshall’s cousin and third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, was on the opposite side of the aisle in what today is the Democratic Party. Jefferson and Marshall were in frequent opposition regarding interpretations of law and the course disputes of law should take. Brookhiser, the author, has never been a lawyer, either in training or practice.

John Marshall 4 - Bronze statue of John Marshall, fourth chief justice of the Supreme Court, located in John Marshall Place Park(A bronze statue of John Marshall, located in John Marshall Place Park in Washington D.C.).

According to review of the book by legal scholar Garrett Epps as published in The Washington Post, we learn this about Marshall and the biography: “Marshall’s great talent was his legal creativity, which takes hard work for a layperson or lawyer to appreciate. Brookhiser also underestimates the chaos and danger of the politics that he does highlight. Perhaps for that reason, he doesn’t give Marshall his full due.”

John Marshall 5 - Statue of Chess players at the John Marshall Memorial Park NW Washington D.C.(Statue of Chess players at the John Marshall Place Park in Washington D.C.).

Epps rightly goes on to indicate that John Marshall: The Man Who Made the Supreme Court is entertaining and instructive. We get to see Marshall‘s career in the United States Revolutionary War, his time as Secretary of State to president John Adams, and then his thirty-four years as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The tenure as Chief Justice commenced when Thomas Jefferson took office.

John Marshall 6 - A statue of Chief Justice John Marshall inside the United States Supreme Court building in Washington DC(A statue of John Marshall inside the United States Supreme Court building in Washington D.C.).

Some distinguishing cases in Marshall’s career included the following, as quoted from Epps:

“In McCulloch v. Maryland, he laid out the contours of Congress’s commerce power; in Burr v. United States , he blunted the law of treason as a tool to punish political enemies; in Dartmouth College v. Woodward, he anchored the constitutional underpinnings of contract law; in Johnson v. M’IntoshCherokee Nation v. Georgia and Worcester v. Georgia, he gave birth to the entire field of federal Indian law.”

Epps is perhaps hardest on Brookhiser and strongest in support of Marshall in this:

“But his most important creation is the doctrine of Marbury v. Madison — the idea that the Supreme Court has the power and the duty to invalidate acts of Congress that it finds in conflict with the Constitution. That result was by no means inevitable; to reach it, Marshall had to navigate a treacherous political landscape. If Brookhiser aims to reveal the politics surrounding Marshall’s career, he disappoints somewhat at this point. A fuller political profile of the Marshall years would give the reader more of the scope of his unlikely triumph.”

The book does give some glimpse into perhaps the most disagreeable portion of Marshall‘s total life picture, which surround the subject of slavery in the United States. Both Marshall‘s rulings and lack of freeing of slaves at his death were noted shortcomings. Brookhiser gets into a single decision that Marshall had that never sided with slaves. Epps quotes from a 2018 book by Paul Finkelman titled Supreme Injustice: Slavery in the Nation’s Highest Court that there were at least seven instances where Marshall never once sided with slaves.

John Marshall 7 - A bust of Chief Justice John Marshall inside the United States Supreme Court building in Washington DC(A bust of John Marshall inside the United States Supreme Court building in Washington D.C.).

Overall, I found the book John Marshall: The Man Who Made the Supreme Court by Richard Brookhiser to be instructional in many ways. While taking into account the opportunities for more from Garrett Epps of The Washington Post, I appreciated the history lesson and exploration offered by the biography. My rating of the book is 3.50-stars on a scale of one-to-five stars.

Matt – Saturday, February 16, 2019

Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson and ‘Terms of Endearment’

The Academy Award for Best Picture went to the film Terms of Endearment (1983).  In telling of the family problems of an independently spirited daughter and her hard to please mother, the film Terms of Endearment was nominated for eleven (11) Academy Award while winning five.

Terms of Endearment 2 - Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson(Shirley MacLaine, left, Debra Winger, center, and Jack Nicholson in Terms of Endearment).

Terms of Endearment tells a three-decades long story focused around the lives of Aurora Greenway, as portrayed by Shirley MacLaine, and her daughter Emma Horton, as portrayed by Debra Winger. Emma’s father and Aurora’s husband dies during her childhood, and a fiercely protective, demanding relationship follows wherein mother seeks to protect daughter while also placing unrealistically high demands for her daughter upon many facets of their relationship. Both actresses received Academy Award nominations for their portrayals, with Shirley MacLaine being rewarded with the Oscar.

Terms of Endearment 3 - Jeff Daniels, Debra Winger(Jeff Daniels, left, and Debra Winger in Terms of Endearment).

Despite some difficult demands placed upon her by Aurora from a place of caring, Emma developed an independent personality that allowed the relationship with her mother work. They kept a firm line of communication open, which included Aurora deciding not to attend the wedding of Emma to her husband, Flap Horton. Jeff Daniels portrayed Flap. Jack Nicholson, the former astronaut and neighbor to Aurora, meanwhile spends many of the early years of Emma’s marriage aiming to seduce Aurora through lightly comedic means. Nicholson won an Academy Award for actor in a supporting role for his portrayal of Garrett Breedlove.

Terms of Endearment 5 - Danny DeVito(Danny DeVito as Vernon Dahlart in Terms of Endearment).

The subject of pursuing love and the nature of communication was explored in multiple ways throughout the film. Vernon Dahlart, as portrayed by Danny DeVito, was an unsuccessful pursuer of a relationship with Aurora Greenway throughout the film. John Lithgow, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his role as banker Sam Burns, successfully has an affair with Emma Horton after helping her pay for groceries in the checkout line at a store in Iowa. Emma’s husband Flap had also been cheating in their marriage, though Emma had only a suspicion of infidelity at the time of her cheating.

Terms of Endearment 4 - John Lithgow(John Lithgow as Sam Burns in Terms of Endearment).

Emma and Flap Horton confront the infidelity of Flap in their marriage, which in part leads them to move from Iowa to Nebraska with their three kids. During this time, Aurora and Garrett have been enjoying their romantic relationship, which is put on hold by Garrett’s inability to commit to the emotional obligations of a relationship with Aurora. Shortly thereafter, Emma is diagnosed with cancer.

Terms of Endearment 6 - Lisa Hart Carroll, Debra Winger, Shirley MacLaine(Lisa Hart Carroll, left, Debra Winger, center, and Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment).

Patsy Clark, as portrayed by Lisa Hart Carroll, had been a friend to Emma in the film at least from the point where Emma was considering getting married to Flap. Patsy brought Emma to New York for a brief period after Emma was diagnosed with the cancer that we later would learn would take Emma’s life. The time in New York exemplifies some uncomfortable truths in the way life unfolded for Patsy and Emma, yet the core friendship remains between these two. The bond between Emma and her mother, Aurora, is also of redeeming significance during this time.

Terms of Endearment 7 - James L. Brooks(James L. Brooks won two Academy Awards for Terms of Endearment).

Shortly after New York, the film explores the unconventional truths underlying Flap ‘s nature in their relationship as well as the shortcomings included within his nature. Many of the earlier objections by Aurora are confirmed as truths in deciding where the three children of Flap and Emma would live when the end for Emma became reality. Garrett Breedlove has a change of heart in terms of being emotionally present for Aurora Greenway, and the three kids will live with Aurora and, ostensibly, with Garrett offering some form of fathering to the three kids.

Terms of Endearment 8 - Larry McMurtry(Larry McMurtry wrote the book Terms of Endearment, which became the movie of the same name).

James L. Brooks won two Academy Awards for Terms of Endearment. Brooks won for director as well as for writing the best screenplay based on material from another medium. The other medium for that second Oscar was the book Terms of Endearment as written by Larry McMurtry. Brooks is credited with winning the Best Picture Academy Award on behalf of the full movie.

My rating for Terms of Endearment is 3.75-stars on a scale of one-to-five stars. The movie aims to be a tearjerker. There are a mixture of strong-willed and indecisive characters throughout.

Matt – Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Steven Spielberg and the movie ‘Ready Player One’

The science fiction, fantasy, and action movie Ready Player One (2018) played to warm audience reviews and clever mixes of graphic and reality mixes set in the hypothetical year 2045. The early premise of the film is of a borderline dystopian world where the real world is less appealing than the virtual oasis world built by a man who has recently dies. With his death, control of the virtual world, OASIS, is up for grabs.

Ready Player One 2 - Tye Sheridan(Tye Sheridan as Perzival / Wade Watts in Ready Player One).

Tye Sheridan is introduced from the beginning of Ready Player One as Wade Watts. Wade Watts lives in a shanty district of the booming metropolis of Columbus, Ohio. The year is 2045, and Wade lives alone with his aunt following the death of his parents. Wade is shy, yet immerses himself in the fantasy gaming world called the OASIS.

Ready Player One 5 - Lena Waithe(Lena Waithe as Aech / Helen in Ready Player One).

Wade’s alter ego in the OASIS is Perzival, which is the means through which we are introduced to his best friend. Lena Waithe plays Aech / Helen, who we learn much further into the movie drives a United States Postal Service truck. The friendship first serves as a means of introducing the larger plot of the story. The friendship aids in helping move the action of the movie along later in the story while also bringing the story to its resolution. The relationship is warm and occasionally amusing.

Ready Player One 6 - Mark Rylance(Mark Rylance as James Donovan Halliday / Anorak in Ready Player One).

The fantasy world of OASIS was created by the character James Donovan Halliday. Mark Rylance plays Halliday, whose alter ego in the OASIS world is Anorak. Halliday sets the adventure underpinning the movie in motion by setting ownership for his company, the company that owns and operates OASIS, up for grabs to the gamer that can unlock the three keys embedded within the OASIS. These keys allow access to the hidden Easter Egg in the game, which is the object of the hunt.

Ready Player One 7 - Steven Spielberg(Steven Spielberg, the director of Ready Player One).

Like any good adventure film including the work of Steven Spielberg, Ready Player One found a way with the film’s writers to bring nostalgia of the gaming world and popular culture into the film. Spielberg directed the Ready Player One, and brought nostalgia of the Atari 2600 gaming system, the Atari game Adventure, the movie The Shining (1980), and numerous songs from the 1980’s (including Jump by Van Halen and Everybody Wants To Rule The World by Tears For Fears).

Ready Player One 4 - Ben Mendelsohn(Ben Mendelsohn as Nolan Sorrento, head of Innovation Online Industries, in Ready Player One).

Nolan Sorrento, as played by Ben Mendelsohn, is the chief antagonist to Wade Watts in the hunt for the OASIS Easter Egg. Sorrento joins in the hunt through manipulation, riches, and a team of corporate helpers seeking to take advantage of the collective ingenuity of Wade Watts and the forces that align with Watts and his alter ego, Perzival. From the perspective of this PG-13 movie, the conflict is properly intense and appropriate for the movie rating.

Ready Player One 3 - Olivia Cooke(Olivia Cooke as Art3mis / Samantha Cook, a gunter, in Ready Player One).

Art3mis, who also goes by Samantha Cook when outside the OASIS world, is played by Olivia Cooke. The female lead character for Ready Player One plays every bit the strong character to Wade Watts in the film. Her role determines the movies resolution along with providing the mutual love interest that forms between herself and Wade / Perzival. The resolution to the love story is proves important to the larger narrative of the movie while mirroring the takeaway message the movie offers to the audience.

Ernest Cline, one of the writers earning screenplay credit for the movie, also wrote the book Ready Player One. The book was written in 2011, though the favorable movie review is not offered with an awareness of having read the book. Zak Penn was the other screenplay writer for the film. My overall rating of the movie is 3.75-stars on a scale of one-to-five.

Matt – Saturday, February 9, 2019

Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson starred in ‘The Remains of the Day’

How do you waste your life emotionally? How do you waste your life politically? These two questions were clearly at the heart of the quiet despair raised by the movies The Remains of the Day (1993), an adaptation of the Kazuo Ishiguro 1990 book by the same title. The film garnered eight Academy Award nominations.

Remains of the Day 2 - Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson(Anthony Hopkins, left, and Emma Thompson in The Remains of the Day).

The central theme of the movie The Remains of the Day, as was true with the book as reviewed by Matt Lynn Digital, was exploring how to waste your life emotionally and politically. Anthony Hopkins, starring as head butler Mr. James Stevens, was central to the service functioning of the home of one Lord Darlington of England. Starring opposite Hopkins in the same household was Emma Thompson as Ms. Sally Kenton/Mrs. Sally Benn. These two served professionally in the home of Lord Darlington for many years, including through the period leading up to World War Two.

Remains of the Day 5 - James Fox(James Fox as Lord Darlington in The Remains of the Day).

James Fox portrayed Lord Darlington, a wealthy British gentleman and amateur statesman seeking to help avoid the war that was looming through much of the film. Through the course of the movie, we see Mr. Stevens and Ms. Kenton serving the household of Darlington, who in aiming to steer England away from involvement in the second Great War of the twentieth century pursued a course of appeasement that smeared his reputation and left him broken later in the film. Lord Darlington was perhaps the clearest example of a wasted political life in pursuing his ends in the manner he did.

Remains of the Day 4 - Christopher Reeve(Christopher Reeve as United States Congressman Jack Lewis).

Christopher Reeve played the moral and political voice arguing most strongly and consistently against the political stance of Nazi appeasement in the question of war and the Nuremberg Race Laws. Lewis was movie into Darlington Hall both in the beginning and closing frame of the movie, and was part of the reminiscing trip that Mr. James Stevens was taking to Mrs. Sally Benn (aka Ms. Sally Kenton) near the movies conclusion. The example of Lewis was the affirming notion of a life well lived that contrasts with the notions of a life wasted.

Remains of the Day 6 - Peter Vaughan, Anthony Hopkins(Peter Vaughan, left, and Anthony Hopkins).

Part of the emotional waste in the movie was the exploration the movie took into the relationship Mr. James Stevens had with his father, also a butler. Peter Vaughan portrayed Mr. William Stevens (aka Mr. Stevens Sr.), who had slowed down yet insisted on the dignity of work and duty that came to exemplify the cold exterior of reserve for his son, Mr. James Stevens. The younger Mr. Stevens expressed little emotion to learning of his father’s passing during a function hosted by Lord Darlington, and showed an inappropriate human response to the significant loss of a loved one.

Remains of the Day 3 - Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson(Anthony Hopkins, left, and Emma Thompson in The Remains of the Day).

This inability to express emotion came about repeatedly through the film (and the book), including 20-years later when congressman Lewis granted Mr. Stevens a trip to see Ms. Kenton/Mrs. Benn to reminisce in person about where their lives had gone in the time since they had separated. Mrs. Benn would not be coming back to Darlington Hall to rekindle an unrequited relationship with Mr. Stevens, though both agreed through the metaphor of place and time that their evening chats were a worthwhile and strong bond the two would continue to have.

Remains of the Day 7 - Kazuo Ishiguro(Kazuo Ishiguro, author of the book and co-writer of the screenplay for The Remains of the Day).

The film and book can properly be called a period piece of time and place for the particular questions of appeasement, a part of the formal British response to the rising tide of war in Europe, and the questions of strategies against a dictatorial scourge of hate rising on the European continent between the two major twentieth century European wars. I’ve called out some of the examples for how emotional and political life was wasted in the film. Others were not explicitly called out in this review, though their examples were specifically called out to the characters in scenes and stories that have not been referenced within this review.

Remains of the Day 8 - Anthony Hopkins(Anthony Hopkins as Mr. James Stevens in The Remains of the Day).

The film closes with Mr. James Stevens getting the home ready for the family of the now former United States Congressman Jack Lewis’ family coming to England to take residence at Darlington Hall. Staffing the home is on the mind of Stevens to the approval of Lewis, who is present and fully present in his moral life, both emotionally and politically. What comes next isn’t clear, though the cautionary tale for how, as a viewer of the movie to avoid wasting ones life, has been successfully told. My rating of the movie is 4.0 stars on a scale of 1-to-5 stars.

Matt – Wednesday, February 6, 2019

The book ‘Bernie Kosar: Learning To Scramble’

Bernie Kosar was a quarterback for the Cleveland Browns football team from 1985 until getting cut in the 1993 season by then coach of the Browns, Bill Belicheck. Kosar would win the Super Bowl with the Dallas Cowboys following the 1993 season before playing three more seasons as a backup for the Miami Dolphins.

Learning To Scramble 2 - Bernie Kosar(Bernie Kosar among fans seeking autographs).

Craig Stout and Bernie Kosar co-wrote the book Bernie Kosar: Learning To Scramble, which was released in September of 2017 through regional publisher Cleveland Landmarks Press. Learning To Scramble follows an autobiographical bent that covers parts of the college and professional career of Kosar, some of the adventures or misadventures in business, family, and football that Bernie Kosar the man had in navigating interpersonal relationships while trying to produce results in his life that reflected his values.

Learning To Scramble 8 - Bernie Kosar and Bill Belicheck(Bernie Kosar, left, with repeated Super Bowl champion coach Bill Belicheck).

Through February of 2018, Bill Belicheck had won five Super Bowls with the New England Patriots. Back in 1993 when Bernie Kosar was released mid-season by Belicheck and the Cleveland Browns, none of this success was anticipated or really mattered to the fans of the Browns‘ franchise. In Learning To Scramble, Kosar treads carefully on this relationship in acknowledging that his (Kosar‘s) health had been hampered by broken bones, ankles, ribs, and other injuries to the point that the famous explanation of diminished skills for Kosar‘s release were justified.

Learning To Scramble 3 - Jimmy Johnson and Bernie Kosar after beting Florida Gators Sept-1984(Jimmie Johnson, left, with Bernie Kosar after the Miami Hurricanes beat the Florida Gators in Tampa circa September of 1984).

Kosar would join the Dallas Cowboys as coached by his former University of Miami coach Jimmie Johnson, where both would win a Super Bowl. After having played for Johnson at the University of Miami and then the Dolphins, Kosar was a backup for the Miami Dolphins when Johnson coached there. In the intervening time, Kosar had success quarterbacking the Cleveland Browns, who he had taken to the playoffs in his first five seasons in the National Football League (NFL).

Learning To Scramble 4 - Gary Danielson and Bernie Kosar(Gary Danielson, left, and Bernie Kosar, right).

Gary Danielson served as a player and mentor to Bernie Kosar during the rookie season of Kosar‘s career in Cleveland. Kosar credits Danielson for being an aid to him during his early years, which included Danielson serving as a backup for at least two seasons beyond that rookie campaign. Kosar would recount this and the football values of tenacious commitment to focus that he and his teammates shared when the Browns‘ teams were winning.

Learning To Scramble 5 - Earnest Byner, Kevin Mack, and Bernie Kosar(Left to right: Earnest Byner, Kevin Mack, and Bernie Kosar).

Kosar spoke of the trust players have on the field, which included how he communicated authoritatively with players. This included with runningbacks Earnest Byner and Kevin Mack, wide receiver Reggie Langhorne, and tight end Ozzie Newsome. The trust and authoritative tone were borne of an obsessive commitment based on that shared value along with obtaining what Kosar called the discretionary effort of competition that presses through individual walls of pain or unreasonable exhaustion.

Learning To Scramble 6 - Reggie Langhorne, Bernie Kosar, and Ozzie Newsome(Left to right: Reggie Langhorne, Bernie Kosar, and Ozzie Newsome).

The notion of commanding trust in football meant thinking the same way on how to run routs, when to move from one defensive read or offensive play call to another, or not freelancing a route change that hasn’t been practiced hundreds of times before. These values applied in football, though did not translate to matters of the heart.

Learning To Scramble 7 - Bernie Kosar against Houston during the playoffs following the 1994 season(Bernie Kosar against Houston during the playoffs following the 1988 season).

By not applying football principles of interaction to family matters, Kosar explained many several inherently reckless familial matters involving his father, his brother, and the relationship he had with his wife and his mother-in-law. The relationship goals were different and driven largely in a world of dysfunction, though this is me placing my interpretation upon the anecdotes, personal outcomes, and motivations described through the book. In part, the familial tales and business relationships serve not so much as a story about football as it was a tale about even big tough football players are subject to human mistakes.

Overall, I found the narrative style of Learning To Scramble refreshing, candid, and concisely stated. The nineteen chapters were divided into themes that rolled up into value statements that included anecdotes that contributed to the larger purpose of the stories shared. I recommend the book to fans of football from the mid-1980s through the early-1990s, fans of the Cleveland Browns, and ultimately fans of the game as played largely at its highest level. Further, I recommend the book to high school and college kids looking trying to figure out how to navigate the world using the life experiences of someone who didn’t have all the answers or best influences yet did the best he could.

I rate Bernie Kosar: Learning to Scramble at 3.75-stars on a scale of 1-star to 5-stars.

Matt – Saturday, February 2, 2019

Four Academy Awards and the film ‘Ordinary People’

Some movies really deliver an emotional punch in the stomach. The 1981 Academy Award winning movie for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Director, and Best Writing came through on this measure exceedingly well. Ordinary People (1980) is a sad, moving, and emotionally satisfying film that you should see. Today. (Spoilers are contained in the following review).

ordinary people 2 - mary tyler moore and robert redford(Mary Tyler Moore, left, starred as Beth Jarrett in Ordinary People. Robert Redford, right, directed the film).

The movie Ordinary People tells the story of the Jarrett family of an unnamed town in Illinois. Mary Tyler Moore stars as Beth Jarrett, wife to Calvin and mother to Conrad. All three have survived the passing by accidental drowning of eldest familial son Buck Jarrett. Moore portrays a mother in denial of the loss of one son while having grown emotionless and cold to son and father alike. Donald Sutherland portrays Calvin Jarrett, the father and husband who seeks to understand while lacking many of the tools to process or understand while aiming to respond. Timothy Hutton stars as Conrad Jarrett, the son who feels responsible for the loss of his brother, seeks to reconnect with his mother and father through much of the film. Hutton won an Academy Award for his portrayal.

ordinary people 3 - mary tyler moore, donald sutherland, and timothy hutton(Mary Tyler Moore, left, starred as Beth Jarrett in Ordinary People. Donald Sutherland, center, starred as Calvin Jarrett. Timothy Hutton, right, portrayed Conrad Jarrett).

Judith Guest wrote the book Ordinary People, which Alvin Sargent translated into the Academy Award winning screenplay for the movie. (Robert Redford won a directorial Academy Award while the film also won for Best Picture). Judd Hirsch portrayed psychiatrist Dr. Tyrone C. Berger, who offered services to Conrad Jarrett, Calvin Jarrett, and Karen Aldrich. Aldrich and Calvin meet in a psychiatric hospital following the drowning of Buck Jarrett, and continue contact through the time period examined throughout the movie. Dr. Berger acts as the fully, truly emotionally available and equipped character to multiple characters throughout the film.

ordinary people 4 - judd hirsch and timothy hutton(Judd Hirsch, left, starred as Dr. Tyrone C. Berger in Ordinary PeopleTimothy Hutton, right, portrayed Conrad Jarret).

Ordinary People is an emotionally difficult, emotionally heavy film. The timing was right for me to watch this film, and the processing available through the film offered a style of comfort necessary for reasons that I will not cover here. A thanks to Airport Friend for having included this film in his listing of must see movies. The character Karen Aldrich, as portrayed by Dinah Manoff, was a source of consolation and understanding for Conrad Jarrett, who had attempted to end his life before the opening of the movie. This relationship is important through the course of the film.

ordinary people 6 - dinah manoff(Dinah Manoff portrayed Karen Aldrich, a patient with Conrad Jarrett at the hospital before the film begins, in Ordinary People).

Conrad Jarrett is perhaps the central figure throughout much of the film. This acknowledges that much of the story is about the functioning of the relationships amongst and between Conrad and his parents. Other secondary relationships emerge or decline for Conrad through the film. Another relationship to track through the film is the one between Conrad and Jeannine Pratt. Elizabeth McGovern portrays Pratt in Ordinary People.

ordinary people 5 - elizabeth mcgovern(Elizabeth McGovern portrayed Jeannine Pratt, a dating interest for Conrad Jarrett, in Ordinary People).

The film brings resolution to multiple complex lines of story through the course of the film. Everything does not end with a happy, uplifting ending. That the film portrays some raw, gritty and emotional real subject matter is satisfying. That affluent yet ordinary people are shown to respond to real and emotionally challenging problems explored something real and responsible.

This movie belongs in a top twenty listing of movies, in my opinion. The Academy Award for Best Film in 1981 feels legitimate. See this movie. My ranking is 4.50 stars on a scale of 1-star to 5-stars.

Matt – Wednesday, January 30, 2019