Harvard Beats Yale 29-29

You know the underdog-comes-from-behind ending before you even take the disc out of the box, but Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 is somehow stuffed with surprises. Kevin Rafferty's 2008 documentary about an unbelievable matchup between the undefeated Ivy League archrivals in 1968, which was recently released on DVD, is told simply through mixing talking-head interviews of many of the players involved (including a cerebral Tommy Lee Jones, who played offensive tackle for Harvard) with clips of the televised game. It blends the memories and misrememberings of not just a game but the culture itself: from the buttoned-down bubble of Yale to the politically charged atmosphere of Harvard, where a recent Vietnam vet who had spent months stuck in Khe Sanh was lining up with fervent members of the antiwar SDS. Anecdotes oddly surface about Al Gore, Meryl Streep, and George W. Bush, and the Yale team remembers how much it loved and hated that its undefeated-since-seventh-grade quarterback, Brian Dowling, was the inspiration for the character of B.D. in Garry Trudeau's "Doonesbury." While tear gas and picket lines and sex and "whatever turns you on" all enter into the picture, Rafferty, who gained fame with the 1982 anti-nuclear documentary "Atomic Café" and for helping out Michael Moore early on, focuses mostly on the game itself, one of the best in college football history. With 42 seconds left, Harvard somehow finds a way to score 16 points to tie the huge Yale favorites. If it weren't true, the ending would feel ridiculous. Instead, it is what sports fans yearn for endlessly: the exhilaration of something seemingly impossible happening before their very eyes.

April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysely Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.

The Promise of Hope

Killed last year in the infamous terror attack at Nairobi's Westgate mall, Kofi Awoonor was a national treasure in his native Ghana.  His career began in 1964 with Rediscovery, and this magnum opus serves as a tribute to his entire long journey charting his beloved nation's course through his accomplished poetry.

Winter Mythologies and Abbots

A pair of linked stories finds that, as translator Ann Jefferson relates, "[Pierre] Michon's great theme is the precarious balance between belief and imposture, and the way the greatest aspirations can be complicated by physical desire or the equally urgent desire for what he calls glory."