Thursday, January 13, 2011

Living For 32: Colin Goddard's Virginia Tech Shooting In Wake Of Gabrielle Giffords

Living For 32, the Oscar-considered documentary of how Colin Goddard has worked as an advocate for gun control in the wake of the Virginia Tech shooting, gains higher attention after Saturday's shooting of 18 people by Jared Lee Loughner, killing six, and critically injuring U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

I interviewed Living For 32 director Kevin Breslin over Skype last month. The result is a 32 minute long, wide ranging talk about the film, Goddard, and life, including the New York snow problem.

Here are the videos below, parts 1, 2, and 3. This is a quick presentation: a more detailed sketch will come soon.

David Shaw Stanford Football's New Head Coach

It's rare that I get a text from my buddy and Stanford Football and Baseball Legend Michael Dotterer, but I got one for the third time in as many weeks.

The first one was regarding the Stanford Orange Bowl game; the second about Jim Harbaugh to the San Francisco 49ers as their head guy, now this one was about Stanford's new head coach, David Shaw. But it had some spice to it.

Press Conference at 1:30pm PST to announce Coach Shaw as our next Head Football coach!!!! Soooo excited!!!!!!!

Those of you reading this who know the former Stanford Fullback, are aware that Dotterer can get excited over a full moon, but in all the years I've known him, this is the first time he's expressed that much joy over a new Stanford coach. But this is for good reason.

David Shaw, the now former Offensive Coordinator for the Stanford Cardinal, is a brilliant coach.

ESPN tried, for some weird reason, to toss water on his selection - and I will state that out of 66 NCAA Division 1 Football Programs, Shaw is just the sixth black head coach - but the truth is that anyone who's followed Stanford Football, and you can't be a Cal fan and not do so to some degree, knows it has been coach Shaw who developed the Stanford passing game.  Plus, Shaw's title has been offensive coordinator for four years.

(Some reporters don't understand the difference between coordinator and coach.  A coach - like offensive line coach - directs what the players do on a person-to-person basis.   The coordinator is the overseer, who puts the players in positions to run the offense.  That's what Shaw did.)

Shaw has been praised in this space at many times. In Harbaugh's first two years, Shaw was recognized as the Offensive Coordinator, and while the run blocking was different, the passing game was, and has always been, lethal. The only difference between 2007 - 2008 and 2009 to 2010 was the installation of zone blocking by Assistant Head Coach Greg Roman, who joined the staff in 2009.

That's what sprang loose Stanford Running Back Toby Gerhart, now with the NFL's Minnesota Vikings.

It's no trick for form a passing game around such a scheme, and that's what Shaw did. It's also not rocket science to teach zone blocking, and Shaw was able to learn from Roman, who came to Stanford from the Baltimore Ravens. So, yes, it can be said that Shaw's the heart-and-soul of what remains at Stanford after Harbaugh. Will he do well?

Cal aside, and for obvious reasons, if Shaw sets his objective as the National Championship, the answer's yes. Considering where Stanford has been in 2010 (the Orange Bowl and losing just one game), that's the next logical step.

Stay tuned.

Ines Sainz - Jets To Win Super Bowl; Jets Cromartie Calls Brady Asshole

Remember sexy, hot Ines Sainz? The female anchor who was the target of footballs thrown at her by Jets players and coaches? The same one who sparked an NFL investigation of the same New York Jets?

Well, she's picking the Jets to win the Super Bowl.

What's that all about? Well, Ines Sainz didn't complain about the Jets, another female reporter did. So that wasn't "about her;" she liked the Jets.

Meanwhile, Jets Cornerback Antonio Cromartie called Tom Brady an asshole. Why? It seemed a contrived reason from a player who's coach has been getting way too personal with opponents, as I say here:

The Jets winning the Super Bowl?  

Why do I have the feeling that would be the Devil's work?

Obama Tucson Speech: President Barack Obama Is Back

After a brief absence, he's back: President Barack Obama's Tucson Speech signified the President's return to that full-power greatness we'd not seen in a long while.

Obama's return started just before the end of Congress' last term, then in 2011 was growing. But it took the tragedy that was the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others to bring it to full strength.

The "it" is Barack Obama's unique ability to tap into the collective conscience of America at the very time it matters most.

Obama did it with the "Race Speech: A More Perfect Union" in 2008, where then-Senator Obama, faced with a racist element in his own campaign that he had to bring under control, talked to America about race from his place as a bi-racial American.

Obama did it again in his first State Of The Union Speech, and yet again, in the first major speech delivered to the Muslim nations by a sitting President of The United States. Faced with overwhelming odds, and more often than not, a spot you couldn't send to the cleaners, President Obama delivered. And in doing so, again and again, reminded us of our own humanity.

When I first heard the Obama Tucson Speech, I'd just walked in and turned on the TV set.  The President was in the middle of his speech, and the crowd at the University of Arizona was just plain into it.  So much so, that I was drawn in, in just seconds.  The American Family was at the TV set, listening to our leader of the free World.

Obama spoke with such coiled emotional power it seemed as if he was trying to avoid crying.  That feeling came through the TV set and into my living room.   If you weren't moved by that speech, you were either not human or jealous that Obama didn't pick you to be in his administration.

I get that feeling from CNN's David Gergen, an advisor to past presidents, including President Clinton, and who more often than not struggles to praise President Obama.  Gergen tried to throw cold water on the impact of Obama's speech, but ended up sounding like someone still smarting from not being in this President's inner circle.

Gergen aside, everyone liberal and conservative and in between praised Obama's speech.  "Obama Tucson Speech" is one of the stop searches on Google.  And as we saw Obama walk with First Lady Michelle Obama to Air Force One, he bounded up the steps to the plane with a new energy and purpose.

He heeled America, and he knew it.

President Obama is back.

Gabrielle Giffords Oakland Candlelight Vigil Draws Rep. Barbara Lee

On the night of the Tucson, Arizona memorial for U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the 18 others who were shot and six killed by Jared Lee Loughner, the East Bay Young Democrats organized a well-done candlelight vigil in front of Oakland City Hall.

About 200 people came out by my estimate, and including U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, and Oakland Councilmembers Jane Brunner, and Rebecca Kaplan, and new Oakland councilmember Libby Schaaf.

Congresswoman Lee said she would support New York Congressman Peter King's proposal to ban guns from within 1,000 feet of any congressional event. A no-brainer there. Rep. Lee is against the use of guns, period and see "no reason why" anyone would want to bring one to such an event.


It was great to see our Congresswoman at the vigil, but I felt the event should have been more about our support for her as much as for what happened in Arizona.  Regardless of what she says, Congresswoman Lee certainly has to now wonder what this all means for her safety.  Letting her know she's valued and protected should be an objective of her supporters, and that's us.

Mayor Quan Calls For Gun Violence Reduction

Mayor Quan said that she's committed to the reduction of gun use in Oakland, and an increase in police presence. Indeed, she said that there would be a return to "beat cops" in various areas of Oakland.  Mayor Quan noted that violent crime had been at lower levels over the last four years, and hoped the six homicides in the last 11 days were just a blip.

Councilmember Kaplan (At-Large) said we have to work to reduce violence both locally and nationally.  "I want to make clear that 30,000 people a year are victims of gun violence," she said, "We have a lot of work to do to make sure we're not promoting violence."

Councilmember Schaaf (District Four - Montlclair, Oakland Hills), an Alum of Emerge California in 2009, said that Gabrielle Giffords was one of the first legislators to join the Advisory Board of the Arizona chapter of the organization formed to bring more women into elected office, and has always been a strong supporter of it.

A Need To Connect

I think it's via tragedy like this that people need to connect with each other, or just escape the whole deal.  I've wavered between both feelings for this entire week.  For the most part, I've chosen the former.   As to where we go from here, we just have to be nicer to each other.   We also must crack down on hate speech, flaming, and Internet trolling.

Enough is enough.

Some argue for "free speech," but look, that's for a public place; the vast majority of Internet sites are privately owned.   So, "free speech?"  Think again.  We're in a position to curb hate speech, and we must do so before it destroys our society.

(As a note, for those not familiar with such things, the elected officials are presented in order of standard protocol: President, Senator, Congresswoman, State Reps, Mayor, Councilmembers, New Councilmembers.)