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Review of Netflix’s The Beautiful Game

Image from imdb.com

Widower Mal (Bill Nighy) has a long career in football (soccer). For the last decade, he has been training a group of homeless men for the Homeless World Cup games. Only two of them are soccer players, Cal (Kit Young) and Kevin (Tom Vaughn Lawlor), until Mal sees Vinny (Micheal Ward) playing with a ball from a children’s soccer game.  Impressed by what he sees Vinny doing on the field, Mal invites Vinny to be part of his team.  Initially, Vinny turns him down.  He is not homeless.  Vinny has a job and he has a family. Only Vinny does not actually live with them, he lives in his car.  However, after a talk with his young daughter, he changes his mind and heads to Rome with Mal and the others.

The Beautiful Game is based on several real life stories of homeless men and women who took part in and still do in the Homeless World Cup.   The sports drama is good, and I rooted for many of the players. However, there is something lacking in this Netflix film and that is the background of the players themselves. We do not get much of it beyond a few tidbits.  Nathan (Collum Scott Howells) was a heavy drug user who got kicked out of his family.  Now clean and using methadone to control his addiction, he hopes the games will help him reunite with his family.   Then, there is Cal, who dreams of winning the games and that it will lead to him being able to be with his son without supervision. And a Syrian refugee who must call England home who misses the life he had as a barber.   

While nice to learn all of this, sadly, the film dives more into the games and the road blocks to these wins, then in character development and drama; because by the time of the “big” reveal about Vinny happens, it does not have the great impact it could have had.  Still, I liked this light sports drama just not as much as I hoped.

Review of Netflix’s The Beautiful Game
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Time to Learn a New Skill – How to Stay Calm

Image courtesy of Karen Arnold and publicdomainpictures.net

Lately, depression, pressure, anxiety and fear have piled on me.  Last Friday it manifested itself at work. I had to do an Acord.  It is a type of insurance form that lists specific coverage that a company policy has. Each form is specific to a different area of a company policy. Sometimes one or two types of Acord forms are enough, but other times there can be as many as four different forms.    If I am lucky, a company does an Acord for me automatically or emails it to me and I email the copy to the client.  Another twist to an Acord is that it can also be used as an application to request insurance coverage from a carrier.

 A company I am the agent for needed two Acords by the end of the day. I wanted to go home, but I had to stay in the office and solve this. I did research online on how to do the form. My Dad did his own research.  I also left a message for the underwriter of the policy to see if he knew how to do the form.  The research and a call back from the underwriter got the form completed. 

I have decided to stop what is going on with me. I will tap into an ability my Mom had which she gained from her parents. She could deflate her anger, regain her calm, and then solve whatever it is that needs solving. I wish I could go to her and ask for tips.  Unfortunately, over the last thirteen years, a cognitive impairment that developed into Alzheimer’s has changed who my Mom is and put to sleep other aspects of who she was.  

I began meditation and breathing exercises and added in walking in the fresh air.   I am doing self-talk as well and, eventually, the skill will form. As for the Acord part I signed up for a course to learn them and over the course of this week I am slowly coming to understand them.

Time to Learn a New Skill – How to Stay Calm
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Review of When Can We Go Back to America?

When Can We Go Back To America? By Susan H. Kamei (Image from Amazon.com)

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, over 120,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese citizens living legally in the United States were forced into interment camps.  Between prejudice and fears that the Japanese would infiltrate America, it was decided to intern residents for the long term.   

Susan H. Kamei’s book When Can We Go Back to America, digs deep into this terrible time and the lasting impact it had on Japanese Americans once released from the camps.

 For instance, some young adults who went to high school in the camps and graduated often found it difficult to get into a college or university because their diploma was not recognized as coming from an accredited school. In other instances, when families tried to regain their farms, homes, businesses and more, they could not because either the people they mistakenly trusted to care for them refused to let them go, or they had been sold to others.   

There were exceptions to this. Some young adults did get help from associations like the YMCA and the Quakers to complete college or university enrollment. And there were families who did get their farm, home or business back from the people they trusted in their care.

This is just some of what Japanese Americans faced. There is much more that Kamei writes about in her book.  She also quotes over a hundred Japanese Americans and later in the book writes half to two-page biographies on each of them. All together brings back to life an era many may not have heard about.   If you are interested in Civil Rights, like me, I would highly recommend you pick up this book and either listen to it or read it.  

Review of When Can We Go Back to America? by Susan H. Kamei
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Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur on Disney+

Image from Marvel.com

Recently I spotted Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur on Disney+.  Genuis 13-year-old Lunella Lafayette thinks the world of a missing female scientist. So much so, she gets her machine and other equipment and houses it below her family’s Lower East Side New York apartment building, where she slowly works on it and hopes to find out just what it does. 

When Lunella does activate the machine, a portal opens and a big red Tyrannosaurus Rex comes through and terrifies the teenager.  However, she soon finds the Rex is as gentle and he likes her.   The two bond and, before long, with the encouragement of a new friend. 

Casey Calderon, Lunella and Devil Dinosaur, become heroes and learn things about each other as they navigate the world around them.  Outside their superhero deeds, Lunella is an ernest student, a hard worker, and is tight with her family, who runs a roller-skating rink that is popular in her neighborhood.  

I love Lunella! Her intellect, skill, and savvy.  She makes a few foolish errors and, although it may hurt for a few seconds, she is willing to learn from her mistakes. I also love the animation, the music, the story telling, and that no character, including the bad guys, are not cookie cutter. They each get a foundation and backstory.  I sure hope this amazing series gets more than 2 seasons.

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur on Disney+
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Review of the Audio Book: Be Useful – Seven Tools for Life

Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life by Arnold Schwarzenegger & Penguin Audio – Book Cover Image from Amazon.com

My friend Andrew keeps telling me how inspiring Arnold Schwarzenegger can be in his talks about life, his career and in business.   One day while on social media, I spotted the image of Schwarzenegger’s newest book, Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life.  I took a photo of the book on my I-phone and texted it to Andrew with no words.  A while later, he sends me a text back about how cool it is and that he hopes I read the book.  It took a while, but I did get to the book.  I spent a credit on Audible.com,

First, it is not a dull book.   Second, I like how Schwarzenegger connects his lessons with a page out of his own life.  Third, he shares who helped him learn in his, and who influenced him to, as the book title states, to be useful.   Schwarzenegger gives a great road map in a clear, concise and easy to understand way.   

One particular thing I have heard again and again, not just from Schwarzenegger in the book, is to visualize yourself doing something or using visualization to take an idea and grow it.   It is, I believe, an essential thing, and it applies to whatever one does in a career or otherwise.  Most often we hear it about athletes, but it can really be used by everyone.  

I enjoyed Schwarzenegger’s book and if you like me have not heard him give talks or read his other book, Total Recall, and only know him from the film world, Being Useful: Seven Tools for Life is a good introduction to another side of the actor, family man, business person and weight lifter.  

Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life by Arnold Schwarzenegger & Penguin Audio
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Waging a Good War by Thomas E. Ricks

Waging A Good War by Thomas E Ricks – Book Cover Image from Amazon.com

Thomas E. Ricks writes in Waging a Good War, that the greatest victories by Black Americans were won by idealism, paying attention to recruiting, training, discipline, and organization, all of which are found in a military campaign. He also shares that Gandhian nonviolence was an active form of resistance against those the movement confronted.  Additionally, he gives a fresh take on the leaders of the movement, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, John Lewis, Fannie Lou Hamer as well as the activists including Diane Nash, James Bevel, Bob Moses and more.

I think Ricks is correct that the Civil Rights Movement had aspects of a military campaign.  During the movement and after Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination, those in SNCC and SCLC suffered as did those who fought in war, including physical and mental trauma.  Ricks closes the book with a call to action by outlining the current political climate and how it is important for us as citizens to protect the rights we have and that were hard won.   

Thomas E. Ricks is a masterful storyteller. He backs up what he writes through thorough research and from personal experience he has had as a journalist writing about military and national security issues. I highly recommend reading this book.

Waging a Good War: A Military History of The Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1968
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Julian Bond’s A Time to Teach

Julian Bond’s Time to Teach: A History of the Southern Civil Rights Movement Book Cover Image from Amazon.com

Recently I have read three or four books on the late John Lewis. I went back to the library to see if I could locate a book on another member of the Civil Rights movement. I read a book by the late Julian Bond titled Time to Teach.  It contains his lecture notes from several major universities he taught at, including Harvard, University of Virginia and then American University.  

Bond details the planning and strategizing that went into the marches and protests of the era as well as the struggle with the Kennedy and Johnson administrations that wanted to take the fight for Civil Rights slowly whereas the movement pressed them to make it a priority.  

The brutality, the beatings, the rape, and murder that took place during those years are difficult to take in, but it must be in order to understand the magnitude of the struggle. I wish that the testimony of the people in the Civil Rights movement along with the brutal images broadcast on television of police on horses charging after peaceful marchers were necessary to have driven the government to act on Civil Rights. 

The writing is compelling, straight forward, and paints a picture of the Civil Rights years vividly. Adding to the power of Bond’s words is an afterward by Vann R. Newkirk II who connects the difficulties past to the present difficulties we experience now.

I will mention this again what we learn about the past can help shape what we do in the future. We need to take them to heart and act before our present difficulties become impossible to stop.

Julian Bond’s A Time to Teach A History of the Southern Civil Rights Movement
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Trouble Maker for Justice: The Story of Bayard Rustin, The Man Behind the March on Washington

Trouble Maker for Justice (Book Cover Image from Amazon.com )
Trouble Maker for Justice (Book Cover Image from Amazon.com )

Over the years, many of us have learned about key people in the Civil Rights Movement. They include Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, John Lewis, Ralph Abernathy, and Julian Bond among many others.  Lesser known are the people behind the scenes who helped these individuals in their work in the movement.  

One such individual is Bayard Rustin.  His Quaker upbringing and the influence of his grandparents who raised him naturally led him to become, as the book title states, a troublemaker for justice.  He did many things before becoming part of the Civil Rights Movement. He learned the ways of Gandhi and his nonviolent ways, which he put to use trying to integrate the schools he attended, buses, theaters, and pressing for peace in times of war.     

Rustin helped teach others, including King, what he learned.  He would advise King and others as well as help them organize peaceful protests, collaborate on speeches, and the biggest event he helped in the March on Washington. Although he was not the front and center of the Civil Rights Movement, its impact is just as great as the leaders at the forefront of it.

Trouble Maker for Justice: The Story of Bayard Rustin, The Man Behind the March on Washington
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The Iron Horse by Edward Marston

The Iron Horse by Edward Marston Book Cover Image from Amazon.com

Robert Colbeck, dubbed the Railway Detective by the newspapers, is investigating another murder.   As a train was being unloaded, a hatbox falls from the hands of a porter and shocks all nearby when it pops open on impact to reveal a severed head.  Who would want to transport such a deadly message in a fancy hat box? And who was it meant to scare?  

Soon, Colbeck and Leeming find out the hat box was stolen and it just so happens the buyer has a horse that will run in the Debry.  They realize that the severed head has to be connected.  This is the fourth book I have read in the series I have read.  The story flows well and I became hooked. However, toward the end, I began to feel the story dragged a bit. Luckily, the story picked back up speed and ended with a thrilling conclusion.

The Iron Horse by Edward Marston
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Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement

Waking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement (Image from Amazon.com)

Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement by John Lewis with Michael D’Orso is a great read.  I have seen footage from the Civil Rights movement, documentary films, and heard a lot of the speeches from that time. But to read about this period from someone who lived it takes it on another level and really grabs you.  I felt it when I read two previous books on Lewis. I am sure I will feel it when I read another book about him or another member of the Civil Rights movement.

I especially felt that the last chapter, Onward, is just as relevant in 1998 when it first appeared in publication, as it does now.   Lewis was right then and his words are right now. The struggle does not stop for any of us.  We all need to know about the past to break the cycle of repetition. This includes fighting poverty, discrimination, hate crimes, re-segregating this country, and a lot more. As Lewis writes, it does get tiring, but it is a fight that cannot be stopped. There is too much on the line to do so.  

Walking in the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement
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