Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cruise Control

Tom Cruise has certainly tried many milieus as an actor.

He's done romance, suspense, comedy-drama, avant garde, you name it.

Now Cruise, 49, is in yet another "Mission: Impossible" movie, this one called "Ghost Protocol."

I got to thinking about Cruise's career as I've been seeing trailers for his latest "M:I" movie pass through my TV.

The action/adventure genre---and that's certainly what the "Mission" movies are categorized---would seem to infer that the star doesn't have to do much acting. Indeed, in so many of them, that's been the case.

It's tempting, to me, to suggest that the acting talents of Tom Cruise are wasted when it comes to the "Mission" films.

Cruise was never better than he was in "A Few Good Men" and the iconic "Jerry Maguire"---that I think will elicit very little argument.

But in the "Mission" movies, there's an increasing amount of jumping and free-falling and diving and running, and you begin to wonder: is there any acting?

There certainly doesn't really need to be any, much less from anyone of Cruise's abilities.

There have been several action/adventure franchises. "Die Hard" comes to mind immediately. In none of them has the acting by the lead been anything remotely close to Academy Award level.

Cruise's talents are wasted on the "Mission" films but at least he hasn't buttonholed himself into the genre, like Bruce Willis did some 20 years ago. And Willis isn't the actor that Cruise is.

Cruise running (what else) in the latest "Mission: Impossible" film

Name me a so-called action/adventure "star" who has the diversity and filmography that Tom Cruise possesses.

In fact, it would be terribly unfair to even call Cruise an action/adventure star, because he's so much more.

Yet with this latest installment of "Mission: Impossible" eye candy for the holidays, and with any subsequent movie in the franchise---which is now about 15 years from its original---Cruise is getting closer aligned with the action/adventure genre.

Not that the "Mission" movies are all he's doing.

Next year, Cruise will appear in "Rock of Ages," which is set in 1987 Los Angeles and centers around a young couple chasing their dreams. Then it's Cruise as Jack Reacher, a homicide detective, in "One Shot," slated for late 2012 or early 2013.

But for now it's another installment of "Mission," and by all accounts this is the best of the bunch.

How much acting Tom Cruise really does in it, is up for conjecture. Not that it matters. It's eye candy for the masses---a break from real thespian duties.

Sometimes you gotta give the people what they want, right?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Butt He Should Know Better

Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner has battled Democrats and those within his own party. He's seen the worst of legislative gridlock, just like all his colleagues. He is no stranger to tumult.

But Rep. Sensenbrenner (R-WI) hasn't likely ever come up against a group like the one he's mixing it up with now.


Sensenbrenner has succeeded in offending women of all shapes and sizes---especially those who aren't runway model, thin as a rail types---in his comments about the, um, "posterior" of Michelle Obama.

Yes, First Lady Michelle Obama.

Sensenbrenner, it seems, is offended that Mrs. Obama has a healthy food agenda for America's children. He looks at the First Lady as government personified---big government, specifically.

So Sensenbrenner did the very short-sighted, small-thinking thing and tried to use Mrs. Obama's own posterior against her.

"She lectures us on eating right while she has a large posterior herself," Sensenbrenner was overhead saying into a telephone, according to MediaBistro.

This from a man who, as one of my Facebook friends said, "needs an abacus to count his chins."

The disturbing part of Sensenbrenner's clumsy remark isn't even so much about attacking a First Lady, an untoward as that is.

It's the thinly-veiled meaning, which is that women have to look perfect in order to be considered healthy, or on track to make themselves healthy.

Heaven forbid a posterior be a little "large."

It constantly amazes me, these men who are often rotund themselves, casting aspersions on a woman's appearance.

Sensenbrenner, who ironically has the word "sense" start his last name, apparently believes that unless you have a perfect body with the requisite tiny amount of body fat, then you are not qualified or allowed to speak of healthy diet choices for others.

From the Huffington Post account of Sensenbrenner's comments: Michelle has traveled the country for her "Let's Move!" campaign for over a year, talking about healthy eating, promoting a more user-friendly pyramid graphic, getting stores like Walmart to stock their shelves with nutritious items and playing sports with kids.

But none of this advocating is OK, according to Sensenbrenner's line of thinking, because the First Lady's butt is too big.


The decidedly unfit Rep. Sensenbrenner

Aside from the flawed thinking that Sensenbrenner is displaying, is the brazen verbal attack on not only another man's wife---but the president's wife.

But all that is sure to be trumped by the deluge of e-mails and phone calls that Rep. Sensenbrenner's office is sure to be contending with, probably as you're reading this.

Those folks will be, in the vast majority, female.

And they won't be happy, nor quiet.

If Sensenbrenner, at his age, doesn't know enough to not trifle with a woman's age or weight, then it's amazing he got anywhere in life.

Well, he's about to find out the error of his ways.

A spokesman for his office says the Congressman planned on apologizing to the First Lady.

Something tells me that she'll be a LOT more forgiving than the rest of her gender.

That poor, poor man.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Join the (Towne) Club!

Towne Club pop isn't dead. Those rumors are greatly exaggerated.

Well, maybe not greatly exaggerated; it's not exactly on every shelf around town.

Or should I have spelled it, towne?

But Towne Club, that distinctly Detroit soft drink, can still be accessed.

Our daughter spotted some at Produce Palace, on Dequindre in Warren.

The bottles aren't the same, bullet thin sized as before. They're 16 oz. now. But it's still Towne Club.

If you're under 30 years of age, you might want to click away. For Towne Club was a staple in the late-1960s, early-to-mid-1970s.

It worked like this.

You bought the pop, in its multitude of varieties, by the case. You could mix and match. The main bottling and distribution center was located on Ryan Road near 1o Mile, if memory serves.

The cases would be purchased and there was a deposit on the case itself---which at the time was a HEAVY wooden thing.

Then you'd bring the empty bottles and the case back, and repeat the process all over again.

Sometime in the 1980s, Towne Club seemed to vanish. Certainly the center on Ryan Road closed. I've not done the research, so there may have been a reason. Regardless, Towne Club pop kind of fell off the radar for quite some time.

Over the past decade, I've seen Towne Club pop up (no pun intended) at select specialty stores; certainly not in any "mainstream" markets like Kroger, Meijer's, etc.

The "new" Towne Club bottle: not as thin as the original

The pop itself wasn't, to me, award-winning, but the varieties were plenty and that was more than you could say about so many of the other soft drinks on the market.

I think what made Towne Club an allure was the process. The whole notion of getting into the car, empty bottles in their cases in tow, and driving to the center to pick out new varieties and bring them back home.

I was a little disappointed when I saw the "new" Towne Club bottle, I must confess. It seems so....fat!

The old bottles could have been fit inside a paper towel roll.

Towne Club pop, I guess, wasn't just a beverage, to so many of us.

It was an experience.

And one that you can still partake in, I'm happy to report.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Driven to Distraction?

The National Transportation Safety Board has spoken, and there are two ways that you can look at it.

First, here's what they said, according to a story in today's Free Press: "The National Transportation Safety Board says distracted driving has claimed too many lives and made a sweeping recommendation today calling on states to ban the use of portable electronic devices for everyone behind the wheel – even if they have a hands-free device."

In other words, no talking on a cell phone, period. Even if both hands are on the steering wheel.

As promised, here are the two ways to look at this recommendation---which is all it really is, because the states pretty much write their own traffic laws.

First, seems that we all got along just fine for decades without talking to people on phones inside our cars. It's not so much that we have to talk---but that we can. So, we do.

Second, I think the NTSB should extend their recommendation to other distractions that I have seen, like the application of makeup, shaving and eating, among others.

Ask yourself: could YOU give up chatting on a phone in the car? And I mean, cold turkey?

“It may seem like it’s a very quick call, a very quick text, a tweet or an update but accidents happen in the blink of an eye,” Deborah A.P. Hersman, the chairwoman of the NTSB, was quoted in the Free Press story. “We’ve investigated a lot of accidents and we know a lot of times the distraction that’s there is not just about manipulating something.”

There's no question that the number of accidents involving drivers distracted by electronic communication gadgets is increasing. And the incidents aren't limited to the average Joe or Joanne on the road; people in whom we place our trust, like those who are in charge of commuter trains, tugboats and the like, are being distracted by laptops, texting, etc.

In fact, Blogger's spell check just flagged "texting," which is an accepted 21st century word but apparently isn't in their dictionary yet.

So it's an ever-changing world.

The NTSB might be overreacting, but it's hard to make that case when people are dying.

I am just like everyone else. I talk on the phone in the car, while driving. And mine isn't a hands-free model, either.

And I've looked down to change a CD or reach for a beverage.

So far, I've been lucky that none of those actions have resulted in me getting into a wreck.

If the states began implementing bans on devices, period, whether they were hands-free or not, I know there'd be an adjustment I'd have to make. It seems so natural, anymore, to pick up the phone and dial my wife or home. But, frankly, most of those conversations are mundane and can occur after I get home.

Safe and sound.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Goin' to the Coffee Shop, and....

I'm certainly not what you would call the most religious person in the world, though I do proclaim myself to be a Catholic---just not a card-carrying one.

I also don't consider myself a prude, though I like to think that I know right from wrong.

But one thing that gets stuck in my craw is the uneasiness I feel when couples get married in less-than-regal venues.

You've read and seen the stories.

Scuba enthusiasts getting married underwater, etc.

Now comes the very-21st century story of Oklahoma couple Eva McCarthy Capparello and Carmine Capparello.

The two met online in 2008 (very 21st century, as I said), and grew to know each other over cups of coffee at Starbucks (EXTREMELY 21st century).

That's fine, and cute and endearing.

Why does this kind of scene make me frown?

But they decided to tie the knot at, you guessed it, the local Starbucks.

Why does this bother me so?

I suppose it's my maybe-stuffy belief that marriage is sacrosanct and should be entered into accordingly.

Doesn't seem, to me, that marrying in a coffee shop is appropriate.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not judging this Oklahoma couple. They're in love, and frankly, that love should trump all, anyway.

And I know that not everyone believes in God or cares much about a wedding's venue.

I guess what troubles me is the notion that a couple who marries in such a wacky environment may not understand the seriousness of the act in which they are about to undergo.

How much respect can they have for a marriage that was presided over in front of bags of coffee beans and frothing machines?

But that's just me.

I wish nothing but the best for our Oklahoman, caffeine-enriched love birds. Truly.

With the divorce rate what it has been, I admit that church-based weddings haven't always panned out, either.

But the younger set already seems to have lost so much of the respect for tradition and what had been so sacred, that when I read of "stunt" weddings like the one in Oklahoma, I squirm.

Maybe I shouldn't. Maybe these two newlyweds will be married for decades, happily.

I can only hope.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Oh, Woman of Troy!

I can save myself a bunch of typing today and just send you over to the Detroit News' Laura Berman's wonderful column about the bull-in-a-china shop mayor of Troy, but sometimes you just want to take your crack at something, even if, in this case, Berman knocked it out of the park.

Berman's piece should be a must-read. She perfectly captures the clumsiness of the "honorable" Janice Daniels, Troy's new mayor, whose off-the-cuff Facebook post in June about gay marriage in New York came back to bite her in the tush.

By now you're likely up to speed on this, but here goes anyway.

Daniels, in June, voiced her displeasure over the new gay marriage law in New York state with this pithy comment on her Facebook page: "I think I'm going to throw away my I Love New York carrying bag now that queers can get married there."

The incendiary remark occurred before Daniels was elected mayor, which happened just weeks ago. And she initially tried to use that non-mayor status as defense of her unalienable free speech rights, once the posting was uncovered and then went viral, as things tend to do these days, for better or for worse.

In this case, it was for the better and for the worse.

Daniels has been exposed, and that's the better part. The worse part, of course, is that she's still Troy's mayor.

The troubling part of Daniels' gaffe---and that's probably an understatement---is not the slur itself, but her reaction to it once it saw the light of day.

She hasn't really owned up to the posting, balancing out every word of semi-apology with annoying words in defense of her indefensible wording.

She released a statement that reminded us that "queer" is a "dictionary word."

Yeah, and so are a number of other words that shouldn't be used in public, which Facebook is, folks.

She also trotted out the wince-inducing "defense" that it's OK to use "queer" because, hey, the gay community uses it themselves!

Aye, yi yi!!

So that means anyone can fling around nigger, slut, spic, chink, or any other slur, as long as "those people" use it among themselves?

And this woman is a mayor?

Daniels is a Tea Party member, and while I'm tempted to say, "That explains it," I won't, because it would be just as unfair of me to broad stroke brush the Tea Partiers as a bunch of bigots as it is for Mayor Daniels to brand all gays as "queers."

Daniels, by the way, apparently won the mayoral race in Troy, Berman writes, on a platform of being anti-library millage.

Mayor Daniels meets with some concerned Troy citizens on Monday

Again I'm tempted to say, "That explains it."

Of course, the library thing doesn't reflect well on the Troy citizenry, but that's another blog post. The folks there still don't deserve a mayor of Daniels' stature.

This thing has gone national, from the Huffington Post to ABC News. City council members and local businesses are being flooded with phone calls of protest, of which there was a formal one on Monday outside City Hall.

Again, Daniels is not totally relenting, even in the face of all the threats of boycott, etc. of her city.

"I also heard from people who said they want to move to Troy,"Daniels said.

She just doesn't get it, and likely never will.

She's in politics now, and that means that even things said and done "before I was mayor" are still relevant and are an indicator of character.

The Tea Partiers, I have long suspected, are really, really good at protesting and whining and slighting, but have very little idea of what to do once they actually ascend to positions of political power. Daniels seems to be another of these types.

It's much easier to scream, "Throw the bums out!" than it is to govern once you replace the bums.

Mayor Daniels has put a black eye on her city and most of it could have been avoided with some non-filtered contrition and sincere words of regret.

Instead, she buttresses every apology with an underlying theme of "I still don't think I did anything really wrong."

You did, Mayor. Big time.

The notion that she doesn't quite understand that is disturbing.