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I know I'm very late when it comes to watching movies in general (although I've seen *two* first-run movies this year, Star Trek Into Darkness and The World's End), but I just got around to watching Jack Reacher over the weekend. (Borrowed from the local library, woo hoo!)
I've read all of the Reacher novels by Lee Child, and like many fans, I was baffled by the idea of the 5'8"(?) Tom Cruise playing Jack Reacher, who's described as being 6'5" and 250 pounds in the books. Not only that, Reacher's immense size often plays a role in his ability to thrash his opponents in fights -- or to intimidate others into leaving him alone. I figured the Rock would've been a much better choice, or maybe Jim Cavaziel . . . .
Anyway, Jack Reacher is adapted from the book One Shot, which is not the first in the series. That's not a big deal, since the books are pretty much all standalones (with a few recurring characters). On the other hand, One Shot was not one of the more memorable ones, although I suppose that was a good thing since I only remembered the beginning and was therefore able to enjoy the mystery unfold in the movie.
As far as movies goes, it was reasonably entertaining. A little slow by Reacher standards, in that the first violent fight doesn't occur until a quarter of the way in the movie, which is a 5-on-1 melee preceded by the usual Reacher observations about street fighting. Here, he helpfully tells the gang how it's going to play out, which is a neat way of letting the viewers into his mind. Cruise may be short, but he definitely carries his own weight when it comes to action scenes. Other than the fact that Reacher likes to headbutt people, it was a faithful portrayal of the brutally efficient violence that he delivers to bad guys.
The mystery driving the plotline is so-so. Why did James Barr, a former military sniper charged with mass shooting five people in Pittsburgh, ask for Reacher? That aspect of the movie was formulaic, but graced with small moments of intentional humor. All in all, it was a much better adaption than I had feared. I continue to find myself able to enjoy Tom Cruise movies notwithstanding his odd personal life, which I would be happy to know nothing about but which keeps getting plastered all over the news. That's a credit to him as an actor, that he's able to help the viewer separate his performance from his own life. (Look at it this way: can you imagine watching a Mel Gibson movie again without thinking about his personal conduct???)
My 9 year old son and I were musing about which college conference has produced the best NFL quarterbacks; I figured it had to be the Pac-10, but he wondered whether it was the SEC based on its success in the BCS championship games.
"The SEC wins because of defense and running backs, not quarterbacks," I responded.
My dad, a big Michigan fan, chimed in with the thought the Big Ten would win this contest.
Hah! So I started thinking off the top of my head, who would be the best quarterback -- in terms of NFL careers -- from each Pac-10 school. Three were pretty easy:
Stanford: John Elway
UCLA: Troy Aikman
Cal-Berkeley: Aaron Rodgers
A little bit of thought added:
Washington State: Drew Bledsoe
Washington: Warren Moon
Oregon: Dan Fouts
Those six were/are all really good to great NFL quarterbacks. Then it starts getting harder:
Arizona State: um, Jake Plummer
Oregon State: uh, Matt Moore or Derek Anderson?
What's the remaining school? Oh, yes, USC. I was shocked when I went through the list of starting quarterbacks for USC at how . . . unimpressive the Trojans' quarterbacks have been in the NFL, especially considering how many have been drafted:
Matt Barkley: we'll see how his career goes
Mark Sanchez: going backwards/getting worse every year
Matt Leinart: bust
Carson Palmer: best of the bunch but average at best in the NFL
Rob Johnson: relatively long career in the NFL but mostly as a backup, and when given the starting job, he lost it to Doug Flutie, Alex van Pelt, and others
Todd Marinovich: ha ha ha ha ha ha
Rodney Peete: he beat Aikman in the UCLA-USC game but came nowhere close to Aikman's success; long career as a backup
Sean Salisbury: another relatively longish career as a backup
* * *
As for the Pac-10 versus the Big Ten, well, I'll go through the Big Ten schools another time (maybe), although off the top of my head, I'll have to admit that it starts off with two heavy hitters from Purdue (Drew Brees) and Michigan (Tom Brady).
Wow, I think I may need to turn in my "TV addict" card or something. Here's a list someone compiled of the "25 worst reality TV stars," and I don't recognize more than half of them. Hard to argue with the ones they have, although I kind of enjoyed seeing Russell Hantz's and Coach's antics on "Survivor."
Sentencing for Mohamed Mohamud, who was convicted of attempting to bomb Portland's Pioneer Square during the Christmas Tree lighting ceremony back in 2010, is set for September. The prosecution and defense have filed their sentencing papers, and the government is asking for 40 years. This, according to the government, represents leniency, since the Probation Office has calculated the sentencing range under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines as life imprisonment.
40 years seems . . . quite a lot. The most similar case to Mohamud's (with more or less simultaneous stings and arrests) was that of Antonio Martinez, who received 25 years for attempting to bomb a military recruiting center near Baltimore. It's hard to see why Mohamud would merit an additional 15 years (i.e., 60 percent MORE time).
My 9-year-old son thinks I should run less and spend that time training for "American Ninja Warrior." But apart from the fact that I'm built like a distance runner, not a gymnast, after seeing one dude press so hard against the apparatus that HE POPPED HIS FREAKING SHOULDER OUT OF ITS SOCKET, I have very little interest in trying that kind of stuff. (Fortunately for that competitor, one of the other competitors happened to be an emergency room doctor, who came over and popped the shoulder back into place.)
Well, there's also the fact that I'm a fortysomething now. But that excuse won't hold any water, considering that there's a guy nicknamed "Grandpa Ninja" who's 54!!! Of course, that guy is amazingly ripped for being 54. Or even if he were 35. He doesn't look like a distance runner.
I'll stick to running and chasing a sub-20 minute 5K. And then resetting that goal to sub-19 minutes, etc.
So, I got to see "Star Trek Into Darkness" over the weekend. Alas, not the IMAX 3D version, because my little boys didn't fall asleep in time for me to make that showing. Oh well, it was still visually spectacular in regular ol' 2D.
Spoilerish thoughts follow:
1. I know we early 21st century humans are pretty backwards compared to the Federation, but even we know that after a terrorist attack, you should not concentrate all of your most important people in one location. Remember Veep Dick Cheney and his undisclosed location after 9/11?
2. If you are going to concentrate your most important people in one location, surely it wouldn't be one with floor to ceiling glass windows that aren't bulletproof . . . .
3. On the other hand, why did "John Harrison" (he of the "superior intellect") bother using small arms fire to attack those same most important people? Even we backwards early 21st century humans have figured out how to weaponize drones with Hellfire missiles.
4. Peter "Robocop" Weller sure is becoming something like Sean "walking spoiler" Bean, in that whenever he comes on the screen, I now think instinctive "conspiracy-former mentor-now bad guy." His Admiral Marcus seemed pretty much just another incarnation of his Christopher Henderson from season 5 of "24."
5. Benedict Cumberbatch or Ricardo Montalban? Cumberbatch made me believe that he was smarter, stronger, etc. (notwithstanding his bad attack tactics). Montalban looked pretty amazing at 62.
6. It was neat how "Into Darkness" played with key scenes from "Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan," but flipping them (Kirk going into the chamber of radioactive death). Also it was good that the producers/writers resisted the urge to incorporate Lt. Marla McGivers.
7. So . . . now no one in the Federation will die from natural causes or injuries short of vaporization or maybe massive physical trauma? After all, McCoy synthesized "Harrison"'s blood so it's widely available. It would've been much better if it had been the actual blood that did the reviving, because then the Federation would be forced to choose between keeping Harrison frozen with no access to his blood, or keeping him awake (and thus dangerous), with only a limited amount of blood available every few weeks.
Here's the list. The top 10 (#1 to #10) are "The Sopranos," "Seinfeld," "The Twilight Zone," "All in the Family," "M*A*S*H," "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," "Mad Men," "Cheers," "The Wire," and "The West Wing."
Obviously, my list would look somewhat different, but to be fair, I don't get premium cable so I haven't watched "Sopranos" or "The Wire," and some of older shows were well before my TV watching days.
Anyway, there are some interesting selections and omissions. In case you're wondering, "24" does make the list in a tie for #71 (with "Roseanne"??). I'll admit that "24" often fell short with its repetitive "moles" in CTU, secretive bad guys behind the obvious ones, and too many "perimeters" that looked more like sieves. But one can poke holes at lots of these sorts of flaws, including in another of my favorite shows, "The X-Files," which shows up at #26. I mean, how long could Dana Scully deny the obvious existence of aliens and monsters?
It's very interesting that "Star Trek" (original series) is at #33 while "Star Trek: Next Gen" is down in a tie for #79. Now, I adore seasons 1 and 2 of the original series, and while there were some well-written episodes, the depth and complexity of "Next Gen" makes the original series look like something for Kindergarteners by comparison.
While we're on the subject of the Star Trek universe, if you're going to have the original series and "Next Gen" on, how can you omit "Deep Space Nine," which (in my view) was easily the best Star Trek series? "Next Gen" still suffered from Gene Roddenberry's ridiculous edict that humanity had eliminated all interpersonal conflict by the 23 century, so the characters are in some sense, blandly two-dimensional. Picard was ever so proper, Worf devotedly loyal, and so on. Compare that to "Deep Space Nine," where the characters are three-dimensional. The omission of "Deep Space Nine" is all the more inexplicable considering the relatively high placement of the reimagined "Battlestar Galactica" (#38), with both shows largely the brainchild of Ronald D. Moore.
Another weird omission, given law dramas "Law & Order" (at #43) and "L.A. Law" (at #55) is "The Practice," which seems less dated, less glitzy, and better acted than "L.A. Law."
Maybe I'll come up with my own list at some point. There won't be any sitcoms on it (well, maybe "Married . . . with Children").
Strangely enough, I got asked the "you speak English so well. . . where are you from?" line of questions far more often in California than in Iowa or here in Oregon. But anyway, this is pretty hilarious: