Henry Cavill is Jack Reacher.

Well! Author Lee Child is retiring and handing Jack Reacher over to his brother, who will continue to write Reacher novels. I read about this with a great deal of relief. I’d suspected that Child was going to retire soon, and I was not looking forward to Reacher’s death day. With this new arrangement, Reacher will survive Child’s retirement! Thank you for saving Reacher for us, Lee Child!

Even more exciting, Lee Child himself is working with Amazon Prime to bring us a Jack Reacher series (!!!) with a Reacher that we loyal fans will love, and this brings me to the crux of today’s post. They’re looking for an actor to play Reacher, and I have a suggestion.

I’d previously written that I thought Bradley Cooper could be a contender for the role of Jack Reacher. Let’s just forget I ever wrote that, because that was before I (obsessively) watched The Witcher on Netflix.

In The Witcher, Henry Cavill plays the lead role of Geralt of Rivia, who is Jack Reacher in another dimension.

In my mind, Cavill isn’t a mere contender for Reacher. He IS Reacher.

 

Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia in “The Witcher”

 

Geralt of Rivia travels around, gets himself embroiled in situations, and brings down monsters, just like Reacher.

 

Henry Cavill

 

Geralt of Rivia’s “hmm” is the equivalent of “Reacher said nothing.” Watch the two-minute video below to hear his “hmm” in various contexts. It’s a versatile “said nothing,” for sure. You get more than just “hmm” in the video, though. The video captures 23 specific seconds of pure Reacher.

If you only have 23 seconds to spare for this video, go to:

0:18 – 0:28 for a sample of Reacher dialogue delivery and a classic Reacher moment.
0:43 – 0:56 for another listen to his voice and another classic Reacher moment.

 

 

Cavill has a deep, full voice that’s effortlessly menacing, and thunderous when needed. Like Reacher’s.

As for specs? Henry Cavill is 6′,1″. No problem. Put 4″ custom lifts in his shoes to make him 6′,5″ if it’s necessary for this otherwise perfect Reacher to stand exactly that tall. He certainly wouldn’t be the first actor to do it. I found an article that points to Vin Diesel, Sylvester Stallone, Russell Crowe, Mark Wahlberg, John Wayne, etc. as actors who’ve worn lifts to appear taller than they are… allegedly, anyway.

Cavill’s weight probably changes from role to role, but his walking-around weight is irrelevant. He has a Reacher-perfect frame, build, and overall physique.

 

Henry Cavill

 

Cavill is almost too pretty, but he escapes that deal-breaker with his strong and coarse facial bone structure. He has a face that would lend itself well to any practical-effect make-up needed to uglify him to Reacher standards. He dirties up pretty well, too.

 

Henry Cavill

 

There are details. Reacher’s nose has been described in comparison to a smashed-in pancake, or something to that effect. Cavill can achieve such a look. He has prominent brow ridges that add to his Reacher-appropriate, unrefined appearance.

 

Henry Cavill

 

Outfit Cavill with blue contact lenses. Cut his hair short and bleach it as blond as it is in The Witcher. 

We should also consider that Henry Cavill tends to play heroic and stoic ultra-macho guys, so he has plenty of Reacher-demeanor experience, too.

 

Henry Cavill as Superman. Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia in “The Witcher.”

 

Henry Cavill has everything it takes to play Reacher. He’s an actor with a workable Reacher face, of a workable Reacher height. He has an ideal physique and a deep, powerful voice. He can be scary just standing there. He captures Reacher’s demeanor and character traits and “says nothing” better than anyone I’ve seen. In the above-posted video, you’ll note that Cavill can match his facial expression to the context of each “hmm” he utters.

As Geralt of Rivia in The Witcher, Cavill exudes Reacher’s essence to where both Callaghan and I were prompted to remark on it.

Not to mention that Henry Cavill can act, too. No need to go looking for someone who’s exactly 6′,5″ and less of an actor!

Have I missed anything?

 

 

 

Ah Bartleby! Ah humanity! (Minimalism, post 16.)

It was continued home-improvement adventuring that left Sunday’s laundry undone, but I got right into that laundry yesterday. It felt like a good way to start Monday. I didn’t want to drag last week’s laundry into the new week.

Another thing not getting dragged forward in time: three boxes of books!

This is the minimalism post I thought would never happen, guys. This is the one wherein I report that I’m getting rid of a chunk of my book collection, not just a box or two as I’d done previously. From Day 1 of my minimalism journey, I’ve both wanted this and not wanted this. Behold the plot twist chez moi:

 

destination: donation

 

Only after separating out these books did I realize that yeah, they weighed a lot, physically and metaphorically.

It was just a matter of releasing my insistence on keeping all of the books, more than the books, themselves. I had this pre-determined course of action (e.g. inaction) regarding the books, and I finally decided to ask myself why. I could find no good reason for my obstinance.

What I’ve got left are two full shelves of books from end to end in my office closet, along with these stacks of books remaining from my large, stand-alone bookcases:

 

keeping

 

The exercise grew easier as I went. An exhilaration built up in proportion to the growing pile of books to be donated. The question I asked myself with each hard decision: Do I really need this? I know about the significance of Mary Lamb’s accomplishment, so do I need this copy of Tales from Shakespeare? I have a body of this writer’s/poet’s work in a larger volume, so do I need this extant publication? Do I need these classics for any reason other than they’re classics?

Many of these books entered my life during college and grad school, including anthologies and textbooks of literature, poetic theory, and philosophy. I’ve also kept related required readings. The wonderful thing about being an English major and creative writing scholar was that our required reading was largely comprised of novels and books of poetry. I loved most of them. I learned a lot as I read and studied them. Of course I had to keep them! But all of them?

Some books, my reluctance to let go came from what they were. I had this nerdy and pompous idea that everyone should have them. I went back and forth for a day and a half over The Odyssey, The Aeneid, and The Iliad, then decided that I didn’t need to hang onto them because where the ancient Greeks are concerned, I’m more interested in thought than mythology. I’m keeping Edith Hamilton’s Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes, though, for reference. I’m keeping Aristophanes: Four Comedies for “Lysistrata.”

My decision to keep all of my collections of short stories (from classics to contemporary) sometimes came down to one work within. For instance, I’m keeping Melville’s Billy Budd and Other Stories for “Bartleby” (referenced in the title of this post).

In contemporary fiction, both literary and pop, I have a few collections: Nancy Drew (a pile that I’d purchased at a garage sale in Los Angeles in the 70’s hard-covers published in the 50’s and 60’s) and picture books from Hawaii. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, Stephen King’s The Dark Tower. I’m keeping all of Harry Potter, as there are only seven books in that collection. I’m keeping Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series along with my favorite horror novels of his.

As for Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels? I have them all, and I wanted to keep them all… but there are 23, and while I like every one of them, I like some more than others. Actually, I discovered that I had 28 Reacher books, because I had duplicates of five of the novels. Something I wouldn’t have known! Five duplicates taking up space!

When I went to prune my Reacher collection, I ended up keeping:

  • The Affair
  • Gone Tomorrow
  • Bad Luck and Trouble
  • Worth Dying For
  • Persuader
  • Tripwire
  • Nothing to Lose
  • Without Fail
  • Make Me
  • Past Tense
  • Never Go Back
  • A Wanted Man
  • Night School

 

The Reacher that stays.

 

Plus No Middle Name, a recent collection of Jack Reacher short stories. The first three novels listed are my top three favorites, which might have something to do with the fact that they were my first Reacher novels in the order I bought them from La Fnac in Nice. I discovered Reacher in France, as I’ve mentioned before.

By the time I was finished going through the books, I felt as though I’d escaped a tyranny of sorts. This might seem a dramatic and bizarre way to regard the collection of books I’d so fiercely defended in my minimalism efforts, but I think the tyranny was that of my own stubborn self.

My bookshelves and I feel much lighter now. It’s delightful.

 

 

The ideal Reacher. (Who could be the new Jack Reacher?)

If you’re a Jack Reacher fan, you’ve probably already heard the news. If you’re not, let me tell you what recently made me jump up and down with proverbial glee: there will be no additional Jack Reacher movies. Instead, we’ll get something better. At some point in the future, we’re going to get a JACK REACHER STREAMING SERIES and TOM CRUISE WILL NOT BE CAST AS REACHER! Because Jack Reacher author Lee Child loves us, and he loves Reacher, and he wants to see screen-Reacher appear as his actual Reacher self as much as we do, I’m thinking. Child has so carefully crafted Reacher and fleshed him out over the years that the Tom-Cruise-as-Reacher news felt like a plunge into an alternate universe the majority of us would never want to visit. And I never did visit. I’m sure I’m not the only Reacher fan who avoided that universe.

I refrained from watching Reacher on the big screen, but now I can look forward to watching him on the little screen, which is the better screen, in my opinion. The little screen is today’s big screen. We’re not in a Golden Age of television… we’re in a Platinum Age of television. Jack Reacher would fit right into our existing catalog of excellent streaming series heroes, and not in Tom Cruise’s shoes.

I first read this announcement on Twitter, and then my friend directed my attention to an article about it (linked above, but here it is again in case you missed it). That was about a month ago, and I’m still ecstatic about it.

Of course, the biggest buzz-worthy aspect of this news is the speculation: who could take on the role of Reacher in the upcoming series? Lee Child would like to hear our thoughts. Child is open to suggestions, he says. (Reportedly.)

Lee Child will probably never see this post, so my chiming in here is for my own amusement more than anything.

My thoughts and opinions:

–The ideal Reacher wouldn’t appear to be congenial in his countenance. Reacher doesn’t go around looking like Mr. Nice Guy. He goes around looking menacing, even though he is a nice guy. He’s nice until you annoy him or otherwise get on his bad side, that is.

–The ideal Reacher wouldn’t have a pretty face with fine bone structure and/or features arranged in a way that makes him conventionally attractive. Lee Child has actually described him as “ugly.” If the new Reacher actor has stock good looks, he should at least have the sort of looks that could be readily roughened/uglied-up in the hair/makeup department.

–Rather than walking into a room and drawing attention with his good looks, the ideal Reacher would exude a low-frequency charisma particularly (maybe only) detectable by women.

–The ideal Reacher would also bring into a room an air of unadulterated badassery. Any glibness on his part would come across as less than amusing, even if his words are amusing (and they often are).

–The ideal Reacher actor would be over six feet tall at the least, and he would weigh somewhere close to (at least) 200 lbs.

I wouldn’t insist that the actor stand at 6′, 5″ or weigh 220 lbs, because I don’t think that would be necessary. He should meet a minimal height requirement of, say, six feet, and he should either be built or have a physique that’s capable of being built. From there, shoe lifts and physical training could make up any deficit, or at least get the actor close to Reacher’s physical description.

–The ideal Reacher actor would have on his resume action-flick experience and a skill set that goes with it, or he should be trainable in this respect. The actor needs to be convincing as a guy who could crush a person’s throat with one hand. He should also know his way around firearms, as Reacher is an ex-MP (military cop) superior with firearms… and he uses them often.

–The ideal Reacher actor would be faceted enough to play a ruthless vigilante who’s theoretically a sociopath, but unquestionably a good guy. Reacher would seem like an easy character to play with his many one-liners and moments of “saying nothing,” but he’s far from one-dimensional. Lee Child created a complex character in Reacher. An ideal Reacher actor would have the ability to transmit Reacher’s character nuances.

With all of the above in mind, I’m going to throw in the names of two well-known actors who may seem unlikely. I’ve seen these guys in action, and their actions suggest Reacher-potential.

  • Hugh Jackman
  • Bradley Cooper

———

1). The case for Bradley Cooper:

I’ll start with Cooper, because I can already hear exclamations of disbelief.

Bradley Cooper may seem too good-looking at first glance, but in my opinion, his prettiness is borderline and nothing the hair/makeup department couldn’t fix. Cooper could be easily unsmoothed over into a guy who looks rugged, weathered, and age-appropriate for Reacher, who I imagine to be anywhere from mid-forties to early-fifties. (Cooper is 43.) The hair people would only have to bleach his hair blond. Cooper already has Reacher’s notable blue eyes.

Any doubts that such a transformation is possible, consider what hair/makeup people did to Charlize Theron for her role in Monster:

 

Left: Charlize Theron. Right: Also Charlize Theron. (“Monster,” 2003)

 

(Charlize also gained weight for the role, of course.)

Bradley Cooper is 6′, 1″. All he would need is three-inch lifts in his shoes.

There’s evidence out there that Cooper’s physique takes well to bulking-up gym regimens.

 

Bradley Cooper in “American Sniper” (2014)

 

(And how about that stone-cold stare?)

His biceps aren’t as big as basketballs, but in my opinion, he looks like he could f*ck someone up fairly efficiently.

Cooper is a talented actor who could bring out Reacher’s character nuances.

Cooper is fluent in French. Reacher’s mother was French. Presumably, Reacher speaks enough French to get by, if he isn’t fluent. Cooper would need no language or accent training for this. Script-writers would be able to deepen the character and add intrigue with snippets of back-story featuring Reacher’s mother. There’s at least one instance in the Reacher canon that has Reacher visiting his mother in Paris.

(The video below is long; just click anywhere in it and listen for a minute.)

 

 

Cooper has a solid action hero credential in his starring role in American Sniper. His performance in the lead role of Chris Kyle earned him a Best Actor Oscar nomination, and it’s actually what brought him to mind when I thought of who might play Reacher.

 

 

Brief synopsis of American Sniper from IMDB: “Navy S.E.A.L. sniper Chris Kyle’s pinpoint accuracy saves countless lives on the battlefield and turns him into a legend. Back home to his wife and kids after four tours of duty, however, Chris finds that it is the war he can’t leave behind.”

Reacher is ex-Army and possesses legendary shooting skills untouchable by mere mortals.

————————-

2). The case for Hugh Jackman:

I have less to say about Hugh Jackman; he’s pretty convincing all on his own, I think. Let’s gloss over him, starting with the fact that Jackman possesses naturally rugged, off-beat looks.

Moving on, although Jackman is Australian, his American accent is perfect. He also has a deeper voice that we know (if we’ve seen any of the Wolverine movies) can be growly.

And Jackman is 6′, 2″. A set of mere two-inch lifts in his shoes would do it.

And Jackman is built and can easily become more built. His biceps aren’t as large as basketballs, either, but keep the bulk and lose just a little bit of the Wolverine-lean? I’d see Reacher in there, for sure.

 

“Wolverine” Hugh Jackman.

 

Hugh Jackman “Wolverine” fight scene (Wolverine vs. Shingen)

 

Hugh Jackman’s fight scenes are vicious, even though we haven’t seen him throw punches as much as we’ve seen him slash at people with bladed fingertips.

There’s no doubt that Jackman can look scary. He can be scary. He’s terribly talented. I think he’d make a great Reacher.

Thank you, Mr. Child, for offering us a Reacher streaming series and an opportunity to make suggestions for the role of Reacher!

 

Cold virus! New Reacher novel! But mainly… (Garage gym workout!)

It’s a good thing I got this garage gym workout done on Monday, because I woke up sick on Tuesday, and that was the end of my workout week. This particular virus bypassed my nasal passages and went straight for my throat. Whether I go to Body Pump this Saturday remains to be seen… if I’m coughing to the slightest degree, I’ll consider myself contagious and stay home. Gym friends: you’re welcome.

This is the first cold virus I’ve caught in over five years, as the last one was when we were living in France. It’s been even longer since I’ve had a sore throat! Rumor has it that my susceptibility’s increased courtesy of methotrexate. Luckily, the misfortune timed itself perfectly with the release of Lee Child’s new Reacher book, Past Tense, which I’m enjoying immensely. It’s already one of my favorite Reacher novels, and that’s out of Child’s entire (substantial) body of Reacher literature! Incidentally, I love that there’s reference to sumo in one of the fight scenes. I love a lot of things about this novel, but this is a garage gym post, so I’ll leave it at that.

For my first garage gym workout of fall/winter 2018, I kept it simple and followed a Body Combat workout from Les Mills On Demand. It was simple because it was a no-brainer; my favorite thing about a group fitness class is that someone tells you what to do, and you simply do it.

I recorded the workout track by track and crunched most of the sample pics together into frames in the interest of saving space.

Also, apologies for the terrible lighting! I tried to brighten the pics, but there was little payout in the effort. I’m in the shadows and the inadequate golden glow of a light bulb. I had to position myself where I did because I needed the mirror, though I switched directions a few times. I did my post-workout stretching near the open back door, though, so the lighting is better in those pics. I didn’t feel the need to brighten them.

All that said, here’s an idea of what you do in Les Mills Body Combat (cardio kickboxing). I tried to capture screenshots showing a range of the sorts of techniques applied in this high-intensity cardio workout:

 

[punches: jab, cross, hook, uppercut]

[defense: slipping, weaving]

[from Muay Thai: downward elbows]

[cardio/constant movement: dynamic stance, plyo, cross jacks, scissors]

[dynamic balance: repeating round kicks]

(My balance while doing these is terrible, by the way. Working on it.)

 

[from MMA: shoots (wrestling take-downs)]

[propulsion knee to push kick in two separate moves with the same leg]

[roundhouse chamber and kick – sorry about the incomplete kick pic!]

[from Tae Kwan Do/karate: blocks]

[from capoeira: escapes, ginga, front kick from ginga]

[from Tae Kwan Do/karate: back and side kicks]

[post-workout stretching and staring at the camera]

Body Combat is a great cardio workout, and I love the wide representation of martial arts styles integrated into it. I’m still getting acquainted with Les Mills’ On Demand offerings… I’m thinking I might try other LMOD workouts and record them, too.

 

 

Jack Reacher! Finally getting my annual Lee Child fix. (Also, a limerick by a guest poet.)

File this under “Writing Updates Postscript.”

I mentioned on Tuesday that I’m digging into the submission work phase now that I’m happy with my manuscript. I forgot to mention what else I’m doing: I’m catching up on terribly overdue reading, starting, of course, with the new Jack Reacher (The Midnight Line, 2017). My Lee Child fix, at last!!!

I’ve only just begun, but a page has been dog-eared, so my copy’s been authenticated.

 

Lee Child’s 2017 Reacher (more than six months later)

 

My tower of books To Read is ten tomes high, so I’m not going to be wanting for reading material anytime soon. Lee Child comes first. OH Stephen King has a new novel out… make that pile eleven tomes high. And I just remembered that I’d ordered two others from Amazon the other day. Thirteen. Thirteen unread books, guys, all over the literary spectrum.

I’ve said that books and t-shirts are the bane of my minimalism efforts, and I wasn’t kidding.

Speaking of minimalism, I’m still planning a huge second sweep through the house. I have to wait until after I send 50+ queries, though, so that’ll be sometime in September.

So much to do. It’s fabulous. My list is jam-packed with household stuff, but I’m also looking forward to writing a new poem or two, and planning my next big writing project.

Speaking of poems, for those of you who joke that my poems are “15 levels above” yours, keep reading. One such joker has submitted to me a limerick with which he took creative license to bend the rules of limerick just to lampoon Yours Truly. I’m honored. His limerick is one part complimentary, one part inside joke, and one part smart-ass, which sums him up perfectly. He is an expert at playful lampooning (basically defining ‘limerick’).

I had to share it. If you “only understand poems that have the word ‘Nantucket’ in them,” then Ron’s got you.

Background: I texted him on Thursday last week to say that I wasn’t going to Body Pump because I was “indisposed” (e.g. tunnel-visioning my way through my final manuscript read-through). Here’s his text reply:

There once was a poet from Nantucket,

her talent was no drop in the bucket,

she’s indisposed but the shine on the rose,

“Though there is body pump today I’ll just duck it.”

Hahaha!! I love this. I should donate $5.00 to charity each time someone texts me an original limerick; that might get me a collection of guest poets (yes, Ron, you’re a poet now) to feature here. Limericks are cool. They’re underrated. They’re the class clowns of poetry, and we need them.

That’s all I’ve got for now… June Favorites coming your way next week Tuesday!

Thoughts while reading “Night School” by Lee Child. (REACHER!)

Good morning. Due to medical-type shenanigans that extended late into last night, I wasn’t able to prepare for today’s post. But I’m sitting here drinking coffee with Lee Child’s 2016 Jack Reacher novel next to my laptop, and it’s been on my mind to talk about it, so I thought, why not today!

(Side note: when I’m asked the classic question, “If you could have coffee with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?” My answer is Lee Child. It would’ve been a tough call between Lee Child, Stephen King, and J.K. Rowling if the latter two weren’t already demystified by countless interviews, public appearances of various sorts, and Twitter. Child remains somewhat of a mystery.)

So here’s my copy of Night School, exactly where it is at the moment:

 

2016's Reacher: "Night School" (Lee Child)

2016’s Reacher: “Night School” (Lee Child)

 

Night School takes us back in time: Reacher is younger and still in the army. I knew this before picking up the book, so I was already intrigued when I started reading. Of Child’s 20-odd Reacher stories, Night School is the third (I believe) to take place during Reacher’s active-duty years.

Some things I learned, things that stood out, and thoughts I had as I read Night School:

1). It was fun going back in time again to read about Reacher operating within an organized military unit.

2). How does active-duty army Reacher differ from present-day Reacher? It turns out not at all. Veteran Reacher does the same thing that active-duty Reacher did. When Reacher ETS’d out (left the army), he continued doing the same work… as a freelancer.

3). “Freelancer” being a euphemism for “vigilante” in his line of work.

4). Reacher is a thug, but being one part math genius and somewhat progressive intellectual (who speaks French) and one part pure thug with superpower fighting capabilities, Reacher is a thinking person’s thug. This has been the case from the beginning of Reacher time. This may explain how Reacher always attracts the women he desires, even though he’s notably not good-looking. Apparently, a rough-around-the-edges contradictory enigma of a vigilante is difficult for these women to resist. (Almost all of Reacher’s women are intelligent, powerful, and in positions of authority; Reacher has great admiration and respect for them.)

5). Also from the beginning of Reacher time, Reacher has had his characteristic threshold beyond which he has to go rogue to some degree or another, striking out on his own. In the army, he had no qualms about disobeying orders to follow his instincts.

6). Reacher’s part in group dynamics: in Night School, we can observe lone-wolf Reacher and his behavior when working with the people brought together by the case at hand, and how Reacher balances working together and going rogue.

7). Reacher chooses Sergeant Frances Neagley (always his number-one pick of enlisted soldiers) to help him in Night School, so we can see that his respect for Neagley and her considerable sharp work and badassery goes way back. Of the three experts tasked to take on the case, Reacher is the only one to choose a woman.

8). We also understand more about Neagley and her quirks, now, and about Reacher’s friendship and liaison with her.

9). Jalalabad, Afghanistan is “a hot desert climate, like Arizona.” (Not news to me; I just enjoyed that simile.)

10). Lots of Muay Thai techniques feature in Night School’s fight scenes. Reacher throws elbow strikes as efficiently as a professional Muay Thai fighter (i.e. what goes up must come down… as in a downward elbow chop taking out one guy after his up elbow took out another guy. Two bad guys with the same elbow on its arc saves time). And side elbows. And Neagley’s use of knee strikes, among other techniques. This comes as a surprise to no one who knows Reacher and Neagley, but still fun to read.

As always, I started looking forward to the next Reacher novel the second I turned the last page!

That’s all I’ve got for today. Happy Tuesday!

What I’m Digging Right Now – September Favorites

I can tell it’s October. The shorter days, cooler mornings, proliferating Spirit Halloween stores (not to mention the Halloween decor and things in all of the stores), and the pumpkin spice explosion everywhere we look gives it away. I love October. I’m not sure if September seemed so long this year because I’ve been impatient for October, or if September just really kind of blew. I’m thinking it was the latter. However, September wasn’t without its list-worthy Little Things, and I’m happy to share them with you!

 

1). Empire (T.V. series)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-Empire

 

We discovered Empire (created by the brilliant Lee Daniels) just a couple of weeks ago. Once we started, we couldn’t stop, and we didn’t stop until we were current, right up to Season 2, episode 2. Magnetizing.

First of all, Empire is Shakespeare from the very start. There was a funny moment when I turned to Callaghan to say, “This is King Lear!!” And right then, one of the sons actually said, “What is this, King Lear?” (Unsurprisingly, that son is one of my favorite characters.)

There’s no aspect of this series that isn’t rendered with spectacular quality and flair. Every detail is exquisite… every song could be a hit, and every rehearsal could be an award-winning video in its own right. The acting performances! The writing! The direction! The costumes! THE MUSIC. We’re Hooked with a capital “H.” (And that last episode! Lucious’ new song! That ending! Okay, I’ll stop.)

 

2). Modern Family S7 (T.V. series)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-ModernFamily_S7

 

All month we were eager for the return of our favorite comedy, and since September went on forever, the wait seemed terribly long. But Modern Family is finally back, and its unique humor is more on point than ever!

 

3). Make Me (novel by Lee Child)

 

Lee Child's 20th Reacher novel

Lee Child’s 20th Reacher novel

 

Obviously, this book was a favorite. Reacher re-appears in a small town, and he’s more bad-ass than ever. Make Me is actually one of my top-five favorite Reacher books.

Speaking of Reacher, can we talk about pancakes?

 

4). Arrowhead Mills Organic Buckwheat Pancake & Waffle Mix.

 

Arrowhead Mills Organic Buckwheat Pancake & Waffle Mix

Arrowhead Mills Organic Buckwheat Pancake & Waffle Mix

 

THIS.

This is your perfect, wholesome, five easy-to-read-ingredient pancake and waffle mix. The pancakes it makes are delicious, and that’s using egg replacer and almond milk to make them vegan. I took this pic last Sunday, when we ate them with Field Roast smoked apple sage vegan sausage, everything dripping in melty Earth Balance and pure maple syrup. The combination is sublime.

 

5). Raspberry Emergen-C.

 

Raspberry Emergen-C

Raspberry Emergen-C

 

Somewhere in early September, I mixed a packet of raspberry Emergen-C into a glass of cold water, and the resulting fizzy pink beverage was so refreshing, it became a daily afternoon treat. It wasn’t like I was an Emergen-C virgin or anything, but it just really hit the spot in that moment, and it continued to hit the spot every day throughout that long month. It’s wonderfully energizing, and even though I take my normal supplement combo every morning, who doesn’t like an extra 1,000 mg punch of vitamin C?

 

6). Pink Lady apples.

 

Pink Lady apples (this is a Cripps Pink)

Pink Lady apples (this is a Cripps Pink)

 

So sweet. So tasty. So crisp. It needs nothing! We’re still eating fresh pineapple like it’s nobody’s business, but with these apples, the first flavors of Fall have arrived.

 

7). New reading glasses.

 

New reading glasses

New reading glasses

 

I think I figured out why my old pair of reading glasses became ineffective: I cleaned the lenses exclusively with pre-moistened lens wipes. I’d been thinking that I just needed to take the strength up a notch, but these are the same strength as my old ones, and when I tried them on, I couldn’t believe how much better they worked! I guess reading glasses aren’t meant to last forever, anyway. Also, it may be a case of “all reading glasses aren’t made alike.” I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. I have these now, and they’ve made a huge difference in my life!

Also, I only clean these glasses with soap and water. No more pre-moistened lens wipes.

 

8). e.l.f. Essential Volumizing & Defining Mascara.

 

e.l.f. Essential Volumizing & Defining Mascara

e.l.f. Essential Volumizing & Defining Mascara

 

I ran out of mascara, went back to the e.l.f. section at Target, decided to try this new (revised?) Essential formula, and a new favorite mascara was discovered. Two bucks, guys. Two. $2.00. That’s it. Stuff like this helps to balance out my more expensive cruelty-free products a lot.

 

9). The Body Shop Honey & Oat 3-in-1 Scrub Mask.

 

The Body Shop Honey & Oat 3-in-1 Scrub Mask

The Body Shop Honey & Oat 3-in-1 Scrub Mask

 

Okay, so speaking of more expensive, this isn’t the cheapest facial mask around. I processed a twinge of doubt while standing at the cash register, because honey & oat? Wasn’t this a ridiculous thing to purchase for such a price ($18.00) when I could probably mix up something similar in my own kitchen?

But I bought it, feeling appropriately reckless and guilty. And then I used it. And now I’m borderline obsessed, and to be honest, I’m kind of kicking myself for having gotten sucked in, because I’m going to want to re-purchase it when it’s gone, and I really don’t have room in my budget for luxuries like this right now. I can’t even explain this mask! It defies explanation. The entire experience and after-effect of it is fantabulous.

(See? That $2.00 mascara helps. Thank you for making awesome, dirt-cheap make-up, e.l.f.!)

 

10). It’s a 10 Miracle Styling Serum.

 

It’s a 10 Miracle Styling Serum

It’s a 10 Miracle Styling Serum

 

Due to the uncharacteristic and relentless streak of humidity we experienced all month, my hair was more impossible than usual (if there can be such a thing as “more impossible”) in September. It would have looked even more unruly if it wasn’t for this product by It’s a 10. I had a coupon for it, so I thought I’d try it; it’s cruelty-free, and it doesn’t have the overwhelming-fragrance feature that turns me off of most hair products. This is just a nice, mild serum that works okay for me. I’m glad for it.

That’s it! Happy Friday, All. =)

I finished “Make Me” by Lee Child. (This is not a review.)

Lee Child’s latest Reacher novel, Make Me, delivered. The story is tight and the tension is high, and Reacher is his usual, taciturn self. Reacher “said nothing” about 20 times. I kept track of all the “nothing” that he said. It was deafening.

If last year’s Reacher novel left me disappointed at all, Make Me more than made up for it. Reacher gets off a train and the story takes off, engaging instantly with intrigue (heightened by the knowledge that very little is extraneous – a perk of being a seasoned Reacher reader, though you absolutely don’t need to have read previous Reacher novels in order to enjoy this one), but I particularly loved this story with its details that correlate to details in my reality. It’s always fun when personally relatable aspects leap out at you from a novel.

There’s the female agent being Asian-American (which I am), and the tertiary character, a journalist, being a science editor with a background in molecular biology (I’d worked as a science editor in bioinformatics and molecular biology in the past), and the moniker ‘Callaghan’, “which at least was Irish.” (Hello, Callaghan! I’d written a blog post about how my French husband’s nickname is an Irish name.)

So here’s Reacher hanging out with this Asian-looking chick, and they find themselves, at one point, right here in Phoenix, where familiar places and things are mentioned. (Sky Harbor International Airport. Maricopa County sheriffs. Scottsdale. The “baking desert heat.”)

All of this coated the bad-assery with an icing of familiarity that added amusement to a reading experience that was already supremely enjoyable. But even without those details, there’s nothing like an excellent, well-developed, well-paced thriller/mystery to facilitate a much-needed escape.

If I ever find myself having coffee with Lee Child, I’m going to thank him for this one, especially.

 

Lee Child's 20th Reacher novel

Lee Child’s 20th Reacher novel

 

Make Me gives us classic Reacher, yet it deviates from the Reacher formula in a surprising way, at the very end. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

The problem with Reacher is a classic one, too… you can only hang out with him for the time it takes to finish the book. Then you have to wait a year for him to come back. I remind myself to be grateful that he comes back at all… surely Reacher will retire one day, and that will be the end. Meanwhile, the countdown is on for Reacher’s return.

The New Reacher is Nigh.

Today is September 4. This means that we’re T minus four days from the tentatively scheduled release of Lee Child’s new Jack Reacher novel, Make Me.

You regulars here know how I feel about Reacher.

Last summer, I so eagerly counted down the days until 2014’s new Reacher novel appeared in stores that its release seemed almost anti-climactic, though admittedly this may have been related to the fact that we were frantically preparing to move. We moved almost immediately after I picked up Personal. It was the end of August, and I had very little time for reading in the month of September, as unpacking consumed the entire month. (We’ve been in our house for a year now? What?!)

Non-stop domestic activity kept me from such tantalizing pursuits as pulpy reading, but even when I did find time to open the book, moving-fatigue dulled the experience. I remember reading two pages at a time before passing out late at night, and that was only once or twice a week, if that. I was tired, busy, distracted. I finished Personal with little enthusiasm, and I may have mentioned to Callaghan that the story seemed somewhat… reduced to its formula. I liked Personal, sure, but it just didn’t thrill me. Again, I’m not sure it wouldn’t have been different had life been routine and uneventful at the time.

This year, though? The cells in the part of my brain responsible for escapism have been salivating since I read the synopsis for the 20th Jack Reacher novel. Methinks that Make Me will be a super intense ride, and life circumstances right now are ripe for it!

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-LeeChildMakeMe

 

In honor of Reacher’s return, I present the reappearance of Callaghan’s drawing of Reacher (this is becoming an annual tradition):

 

Callaghan's drawing of Jack Reacher, as described in the novels.

Callaghan’s drawing of Jack Reacher, as described in the novels.

 

So let’s raise our glasses, fellow Reacher fans, because may we all remember that blond, blue-eyed, NOT-handsome, NOT-glib, super tough, tall and inhumanly strong BADASS Reacher would toast us with a whole pot of coffee. We’d say, Tchin! with respect to his French mother… but Reacher would say nothing.

200th Post! Le Deux Centième!

Well. Today marks a milestone for this blog, because today, exactly one month short of two years since my first post, I’m writing here for the 200th time!

 

Capture200

 

*throws confetti*

Of course, I got to feeling reflective as this milestone approached.

This blog began, in part, because I missed LiveJournal, which I’d more or less abandoned several years earlier. Facebook eventually replaced the social aspect of it, in a sense, but I wanted to journal again. Moreover, I was living in France, in limbo, not working, and I could feel my brain cells disintegrating while my writing muscles atrophied. I did write some poems. I also intermittently worked on a big writing project, but fiction really isn’t my forte… I missed writing creative non-fiction. And when I tentatively returned to writing in LiveJournal, it just didn’t feel the same. For me, the old LJ magic had left the room (but that had happened before I’d quit, which was why I’d quit). Something had to be done!

I went to create a WordPress account, and I was promptly reminded that I already had one. I’d just never used it. How convenient! I named it “That Asian-Looking Chick,” bought the domain and jumped in with the goal of posting two or three times per week. It’s been hella fun, and rewarding, and instructive. I never missed a week, but it wasn’t until March of this year that I fell into a twice-weekly schedule that stuck. By April, it’d evolved into a Tuesday/Friday thing, and eight months later, I’m still comfortable with that.

Surprisingly, getting settled in a regular posting schedule coincided with going back to work. In the same month, Callaghan and I established a consistent routine at the gym. It was interesting how once I was anchored at a job, other things like blogging and working out sort of fell into place. It was like a “structure begets more structure” kind of thing.

I typically just glance at my blog stats and search engine terms, since the superficial layer is right there before my eyes, but in honor of my 200th post, I took a more in-depth look. Some fun facts include:

–Since Netflix released the second season of Orange is the New Black in June, hundreds of views have resulted from searches for the Asian girl who plays a character in those episodes, as I’ve already mentioned. Yes, the OITNB Asian girl madness continues to rage on today! It’s been five months now. (I still wonder whether Kimiko Glenn has any idea of the scope of her popularity.)

–WordPress stats include visitors’ countries. I did a country count and found that, as of yesterday, people have read this blog from exactly 100 different countries. I’m ashamed to admit that a couple of the places on the list are countries that I hadn’t even realized were actual countries. This blog has opened my eyes to the world, and that is fabulous. (Also, if I needed any proof that English is a language spoken, or at least read, world-wide? I’ve got it.)

–You’re mostly a silent crowd on my posts, except for when I wrote about the casting in the film Jack Reacher.

–A few of you have commented with helpful tips in response to my posts, and your sharing has been wonderfully beneficial. For instance, thanks to your awesomeness, we’re hooked on The Following (T.V. series), and I found my favorite Korean facial sheet masks – the Epielle ones I’ve raved about several times – at Big Lots! For an amazing price!

 

Epielle sheet masks at Big Lots!

Epielle sheet masks at Big Lots!

 

–Because of the search terms, I also know that I’m far from the only one looking for that old (1970’s) Charleston Chew candy commercial, the one featuring King Louis. I trust that if anyone finds it, they’ll come back here and share it.

So, as I reflect back to the beginning, I wanted to thank you for reading and hanging out here with me over the last 200 posts/23 months, or however long you’ve been here. I don’t know about you, but I have no idea where all that time went!

Those of you who’ve been here the longest remember when I was an American ex-pat in France who had no clue that she’d move back to the States. You were here when I was an Arizona girl in Texas who had no clue that she’d move back to Arizona. You spent two birthdays with me, you share my “Little Things” (monthly favorites) joy with me, and you’re privy to my enthusiasm for pop culture and martial/fighting arts. You tolerate my kitty blather and pics (mostly Ronnie James, aka the Wrah-Wrah) and “NOT UNLIKE” comparisons. You read about Callaghan’s shenanigans, and you read my embarrassing stories. You follow my occasional cultural comparison observations. You hear me out when I feel the need to rant. You’ve been there during more personal moments, too, such as when my Mom set off on her journey to fight cancer (she’s doing really well, by the way)! And you laugh with me, which I love.

Some things I want to do here in the future? Well, I’d love to get more active as a blogger, reading more of other people’s blogs. I’d also like to mix it up more, spend more time writing about topics that matter to me profoundly. While my routine is fixed, time is actually a constraint (as it is, I’m usually up at around 5:00am to write here). I’d still like to find time to carve out for non-blog writing projects, as well – I currently have a prose piece in the works, and I’d love to pick up on the poeting – so we shall see what transpires over the next two years!

 

Monday lunch hour selfie (October 27, 2014)

Monday lunch hour selfie (October 27, 2014)

 

And who knows… I may yet divulge the story of My Most Embarrassing Moment.

What I’m Digging Right Now – September Favorites

It’s time to pay homage to the Little Things that made last month wonderful! The real magic of September, though, is that it brought us to October, my favorite month… so, in honor of fall and the splendor that comes with it, let’s start with home things…

1). Mainstay candle in Mulled Cider.

Mainstay Mulled Cider candle - autumn in a glass jar.

Mainstay Mulled Cider candle – autumn in a glass jar.

This candle turned out to be a big surprise. It’s basically a $5.00 candle with the quality and fragrance pay-off of a $20.00 candle, and it can be found at Walmart, where we go after the gym sometimes, since it’s next door. I was doubtful when I bought it… I’ve had such meh experiences with other cheap candles that I’d stopped trying with them. I’m so glad I decided to take a chance on this one! This candle’s lovely aroma fills the room just as well as a pricier one would. I’m just so impressed. With its intense yet rounded fragrance of spiced cider, the Mulled Cider candle is fall-scented perfection for a fraction of the cost of a Yankee candle, or one from Bath & Body Works, or one from Crabtree and Evelyn, or elsewhere.

2). Eiffel Tower backdrop.

Ronnie James gazing at the Eiffel Tower in our Paris-inspired guest bedroom... don't tell my parents he was on "their" bed, haha!

Ronnie James gazing at the Eiffel Tower in our Paris-inspired guest bedroom… don’t tell my parents he was on “their” bed, haha!

SURPRISE! It’s the Eiffel Tower in our guest bedroom, haha!

What can I say? I love the Eiffel Tower, and I thought it would be fun to do this room with our French houseguests in mind.

When I recently wrote about the abundance of Eiffel Tower-themed things all over the place here in the States and listed a few of the Eiffel Towers we have in our house, I didn’t mention this particular one that’s printed on a fabric panel and serving as a headboard behind the bed in our spare room. This “tapestry” comes from Urban Outfitters. We have three others from them throughout the house… one in our bedroom (forest theme), one in my office (mystical sunset theme), and another in the guest bathroom (wrought iron country gate theme).

Ronnie James knows he’s not allowed in the guest bedroom, so naturally, when we were distracted showing his Auntie Margaret around the other day, he seized the opportunity to dart in the second we opened the door. This photo busts Ronnie James in his big carpe diem moment of the month. He ran in, jumped on the bed and went straight to the Eiffel Tower. It’s not so strange, though… he is French, after all!

Moving along to entertainment…

3). Personal by Lee Child.

Reacher is back!

Reacher is back!

Because yes, Reacher is back, and this time, the shenanigans begin in Paris!

I loved it, and I had an intimately thrilling moment when Reacher took his CIA companion through the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris and mentioned Jim Morrison’s grave, the subject of my “greatest first-world problem” post! As the two are naming several famous people buried at Père Lachaise, Reacher pointedly adds, “…and Jim Morrison… from the Doors.” I couldn’t believe it… Reacher brought me to the place I regretted missing five times. This is escapism at its finest. Thank you, Lee Child!

4). Modern Family, season 6 (T.V. series)

thatasianlookingchick.com-modernfamilys6

The start of our beloved Modern Family’s sixth season launched our fall television agenda, and the premiere left us cracking up, as usual! The particular humor in this comedy just does it for us, and that makes it pure gold. Comedic timing is a tricky thing to learn… one has to have an innate sense of it. There’s just so much talent on this set, and we just think the show is excellent in all respects. We’re so glad these crazy guys are back.

Now for beauty products! I had a couple of cosmetic item favorites in September that I’m continuing to love…

5). L’Oréal True Match Lumi Healthy Luminous Makeup.

L’Oréal True Match Lumi Healthy Luminous Makeup (in N3)

L’Oréal True Match Lumi Healthy Luminous Makeup (in N3)

If you know me well, you know that I’m constantly on-and-off boycotting L’Oréal, and I don’t think I’ve ever used a foundation of theirs before… but it’s hard to find a foundation that I love (for a long time, I just used BB creams), so I decided to take a suggestion and try their True Match Lumi Healthy Luminous makeup. Frankly, in my opinion, it’s perfect. I love its lightweight feel and flawless finish, and its extensive range of shades makes it user-friendly for everyone. This medium-coverage makeup is a fabulous drugstore alternative to expensive department store brands. I once tried a sample of Chanel’s Vitalumiere Aqua foundation, and the L’Oréal True Match Lumi Healthy Luminous Makeup seems to be a good dupe for that lovely product. Win!

6). Revlon Colorstay Moisture Stain in Stockholm Chic (055).

Revlon Colorstay Moisture Stain in Stockholm Chic (055)

Revlon Colorstay Moisture Stain in Stockholm Chic (055)

This is simply the best lip stain I’ve ever tried, and I do mean ever. It’s light and long-wearing, and it feels like I’m wearing nothing while doing exactly what a good lip stain should do – it leaves color on the lips even after it’s worn off, and, being less drying than most, it doesn’t gunk up in a patchy way when you reapply it. Not only that, but it actually comes in the perfect “my lips but better” shade… Stockholm Chic is a darker neutral that strikes that elusive balance between rust and wine. Sometimes I just apply lip balm over the stain after it wears off, and then it looks like a well-pigmented gloss. This is good stuff.

7). Aussie Miracle Moist shampoo and 3-Minute Miracle Moist conditioner.

Aussie Moist shampoo and 3 Minute Miracle Moist conditioner

Aussie Moist shampoo and 3 Minute Miracle Moist conditioner

I’ve been using Aussie products here and there for years, including their 3-Minute Miracle conditioner that’s been around for a while, but their “Moist” line is newer, isn’t it? Or did they just re-name it? Whatever the case, I’m finding it to be quite wonderful these days. I have another brand of shampoo and conditioner in the shower that used to be my favorite, but I keep reaching for these Aussie products. I just re-purchased the conditioner. That’s saying a lot!

Now, because you know I’m all about carb and protein-packed treats…

8). Lenny & Larry’s The Complete Cookie.

Lenny and Larry's The Complete Cookie in All The Flavors.

Lenny and Larry’s The Complete Cookie in All The Flavors.

Can we just start with dessert? Our gym got us hooked on these cookies by displaying them boldly on their exit counter one week. Thanks, gym. We’ve tried the lemon poppy seed (which tastes like cake), chocolate chip (really good chocolate chip!), pumpkin spice (OMG amazing) and double chocolate, and Oh. My. Goodness. There are no words, my friends. No words. Our gym sells these vegan, organic, high protein and kosher cookies for a ridiculous price at $3.00 a pop, but we actually found them on sale at Whole Foods one day – three for $5.00! – so I couldn’t say I went to “Whole Paycheck” that day. I highly recommend these delicious cookies, but take caution… they’re huge, and the nutritional info label reveals that one cookie equals two servings. To save money and calories, I break them in half and store them in the freezer in individual ziplock bags.

9). Dave’s Killer Bread (Blues Bread).

Dave's Killer Bread Blues Bread... it's to die for!

Dave’s Killer Bread Blues Bread… it’s to die for!

About one-third of the employees at Dave’s Killer Bread are ex-cons. If that right there isn’t cool enough – who doesn’t love a company that gives second chances? – throw in the fact that the bread they make is completely out-of-this-world fantabulous. Our favorite is the Blues Bread. Inspired by Dave’s love of Blues music, Blues Bread® is rolled in organic blue cornmeal, giving it a crunchy crust and sweet flavor. It’s vegan and high in fiber, protein and omega-3 fatty acids. All of DKB’s breads are organic.

10). Clif bar in Sierra Trail Mix.

Sierra Trail Mix Clif Bars.

Sierra Trail Mix Clif Bars.

The classic Clif bars are a bit more calorie-dense than bars I’d typically consume, but they’re designed to supply energy while hiking (I think that’s how they got started, anyway), and sustainable energy means calories. The reason this gives pause for thought is that the Sierra Trail Mix flavor is so good, I don’t want to stop after eating after half the bar… I want the whole thing! We’re hooked on these bars. Clif bar flavors are hit or miss with me, and this flavor is most definitely a hit. Well done, Clif bar people. Well done.

That wraps it up for September… now I can start keeping track of the awesome things October’s bound to bring! First of all, my parents arrive today for their weekend stay with us. They’ll be the first visitors to stay in the Eiffel Tower room. =)

Happy Friday, All!

What I’m Digging Right Now – June Favorites

June outdid all previous months with its disappearing act. Where did it go? On Friday morning, I said to Callaghan, “Oh, wait… TUESDAY is July 1st? Didn’t I just do my May Favorites post, like, very recently?”

Several exciting things came to pass in June, but the point of my Monthly Favorites posts is to highlight the little, tangible things that helped to elevate the month. I’m starting with entertainment this time because I have a bit of raving to do with this first thing…

 

1). Edge of Tomorrow (film)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-EdgeofTomorrow

 

Let the appearance of this film in my June Favorites post stand as evidence that I don’t hate Tom Cruise just because he hijacked Reacher. (Hijacked Reacher, get it? Haha!) I’m always up for an insane, high-octane sci-fi thriller, and if Cruise is in it, that’s fine with me. We went to see Edge of Tomorrow Saturday evening. The last time I enjoyed a sci-fi action flick that much was Pacific Rim, and I enjoyed this one even more. Edge of Tomorrow is marvelous storytelling and explosive escapism to the nth degree. The Christopher McQuarrie/Tom Cruise team nailed it with this one!

May I just say that movies like this make me wonder why Reacher? Cruise doesn’t need to be Reacher! Let someone who is Reacher be Reacher, and Cruise can keep doing roles like this one in Edge of Tomorrow, because honestly, I can’t think of anyone who could have done it better. He brought his charisma and unique brand of flair to the role, yet we never once found ourselves thinking this is just Tom Cruise being Tom Cruise. In Edge of Tomorrow, Cruise doesn’t simply own his character. He locks it up and throws away the key. That’s a rare thing in an action flick, in my opinion.

I loved Emily Blunt in her role, too, make no mistake… and the story, writing, direction, editing, cinematography and CGI, all amazing. Yes, I would see it again, and maybe even again after that. I enjoyed it that much. The poster slogan reads, “Live… Die… Repeat.” It should be “Watch… Rave… Repeat.”

 

2). Modern Family (T.V. series)

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-ModernFamily

 

We fired up season one of this comedy series because of Sofia Vergara, who captured our attention in May in the film Chef. Hilarious! It brings the LOLs in an off-beat Arrested Development kind of way, and it hooked us instantly. We’re in the middle of season four now. Once we’re caught up, we can get our lives back catch up on some movies.

Moving on to skin care and cosmetics….

 

3). Physician’s Formula Mineral Wear Talc-Free Mineral Oh So Radiant! Powder in Translucent.

 

Physician's Formula does it again! Radiant powder is radiant.

Physician’s Formula does it again! Radiant powder is radiant.

 

What a name for a simple face powder, but radiant, indeed! I wanted to add more of a glow to my skin, and this brightening powder by Physician’s Formula delivers. This is my new setting powder and highlighter in one, and I think it’s going to be a long-time favorite.

 

Kind of a weird picture, but see the slight glow on my cheekbone? That's this powder by Physician's Formula.

Kind of a weird picture, but see the slight glow on my cheekbone? That’s this powder by Physician’s Formula.

 

I’ll say it again: I love that Physician’s Formula products are cruelty-free (not tested on animals). Not all the products I use are, but at least I’m conscious of the matter, right?

 

4). Maybelline Eye Studio Color Tattoo 24HR Cream Gel Shadow Eye Makeup in Tough as Taupe 35.

 

Tough as Taupe Color Tattoo by Maybelline over Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion.

Tough as Taupe Color Tattoo by Maybelline over Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion.

 

Another unwieldy name, and this product apparently suffers an identity crisis, as well. Is it a cream? Is it a gel? Could they not make up their minds, so they dubbed it both a cream and a gel? Whatever. This richly pigmented, creamy eye shadow formula wears beautifully, and the “Tough as Taupe” shade is gorgeous.

I mean, in the pot, the color sort of reminds me of wet cement, but it applies as a perfect, soft taupe with just the faintest tinge of a lilac undertone… it’s a lovely, muted, silky gray-beige-lilac, like a smooth old stone. Depending on how much you build up the color, it’s an all-purpose neutral on the medium-dark end of the neutral shade spectrum, a shade that would be flattering on anyone. I apply it with my fingertip over a base of Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion (cruelty-free!), and it lasts all day… and by “all day,” I mean from 7:00am-11pm.

 

5). Alba Botanica Hawaiian 3-in-1 Clean Towelettes (Deep Pore Purifying Pineapple Enzyme).

 

Another time-saver! Refreshing towelettes that clean well and smell great.

Another time-saver! Refreshing towelettes that clean well and smell great.

 

(Alba Botanica = cruelty-free!)

This has become my go-to Saturday morning cleanser, because on Saturday mornings, we basically sleep in as late as possible, roll out of bed, fuel up with coffee, inhale some breakfast and run out the door just in time for our 10:00am Body Combat class at the gym. I shower afterward. So, instead of doing my usual morning cleansing and skincare routine, I sweep one of these cleansing towelettes over my face, put on sunscreen and apply a little concealer, Revlon Nearly Naked powder (I don’t bother with the glowy face powder when I’m planning to be drenched in sweat an hour later) and my usual lip-color… just enough to make me feel dressed.

Callaghan loves using these cleansing towelettes, too. They’re refreshing, they leave you feeling super clean, and they smell great. Pineapples. Who doesn’t want to smell like pineapples at the gym on a Saturday morning?

This brings us to the food things on this list!

 

6). Nature’s Path Organic Optimum Power Blueberry Cinnamon Flax cereal.

 

My favorite power cereals have always been by Nature's Path.

My favorite power cereals have always been by Nature’s Path.

 

I guess the theme for this Favorites post is “Little Things with Long Convoluted Names.”

Anyway, this is my new favorite cereal. I like to sprinkle on a little cinnamon to boost the healthy cinnamon factor, and I add fresh blueberries and almond milk. It’s crunchy and satisfying, and it keeps me full all morning!

 

7). Pears.

 

Organic pears from Argentina are everywhere right now, and they're so incredibly good.

Organic pears from Argentina are everywhere right now, and they’re so incredibly good.

 

PEARS! Simple. Just pears. But… organic pears. Organic pears from Argentina. Okay, now I’m making pears complicated when they don’t have to be, but they are organic, and they are from Argentina, and these organic pears from Argentina are abundant in all the stores now, and they’re amazingly juicy, sweet and flavorful. They’ve been a staple in our refrigerator for a month. So let’s complicate things even more and make that chilled organic pears from Argentina. Anyway, delicious, is what they are… in a word!

 

8). Justin’s Organic Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups.

 

Yes, there are three packs here. I ate one right after I took this picture. Then the next day, I ate another, and the next day...

Yes, there are three packs here. I ate one right after I took this picture. Then the next day, I ate another, and the next day…

 

THESE THINGS. These things are fantabulous, and I ate way too many of them in June. I ate so many, in fact, that I had to stage my own intervention, asking Callaghan to not let me go near them in the store for at least a few weeks. I’m currently in rehab for addiction to Justin’s Organic Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups. “But they’re healthy!” is only relevant to a point. Overindulgence is overindulgence.

Rounding out the list, here are two random things that made me smile extra in June…

 

9). Cork phone case.

 

 

Cork phone case by GAIAM. The design is called "Marrakesh."

Cork phone case by GAIAM. The design is called “Marrakesh.”

 

This unusual phone case caught my eye as I wandered the aisles of Office Max one day. I’d been looking for a more protective phone case (the one I’d been using was hard plastic, and I have a tendency to drop my phone), so when this one lured me in with its lovely mandala-like design, I was ready with my justification.

And I did, in fact, drop my phone after I got this case, and the cork did, in fact, insulate the phone on landing! Cork phone cases… recommend.

 

10). Hummingbird feeder.

I got a hummingbird feeder for Callaghan when he told me that hummingbirds don’t exist in France. You could have knocked me over with a feather when he told me that. (Har, har… couldn’t resist. Sorry.) We brought the feeder home and he mixed the sugar water, filled the bottle and hung it up on an existing nail near the edge of our balcony awning, and presto! We now have a small contingent of hummingbirds who perch and circulate near the feeder, and the pleasurable occasion to sit by the living room window to watch them, especially in the early mornings. We often see the littlest hummingbird hanging out on “his” branch outside our balcony. We call him “Nectar,” and he is beyond adorable, I’m telling you.

 

Nectar, our favorite little hummingbird! Callaghan took this photo from our living-room.

Nectar, our favorite little hummingbird! Callaghan took this photo from our living-room.

 

That’s it for June, Friends! July lies before us, and I’m excited because it’s going to be a month of solid back-in-the-day metal madness… we’re going to see Def Leppard, Kiss, Faster Pussycat (shout-out to Tara!), Alice Cooper and Motley Crue. Some friends from France are coming through town for a few days, too; all of that’s going to happen within a two-week period. Fun times ahead!

Oh, side note (literally): I added these “Monthly Favorites” posts to my sidebar as a category, so if you’d like to go back and see them all in one place, there you go. =)

Jack Reacher Day Approaches!

It’s nearly May. Summer’s coming fast, and I’m so excited because August 28 is coming fast, too, and August 28 is JACK REACHER DAY 2014.

By that, I mean, it’s the day on which Lee Child’s new Jack Reacher novel will be released!

Needless to say, I’m grateful to belong to a fandom that’s spoiled rotten by a prolific author who works hard to ensure that we “Reacher-Creatures” get our Reacher fix on an annual basis. (I’m not sure how I feel about that nickname for us, but I don’t mind it.) I’m truly grateful to Lee Child for his solid work ethic.

I wait almost a year for a book I’ll read in a few days, after which I spend the next 360 days or so anticipating the next one. I don’t take Lee Child for granted, though. He’s not a book-producing machine. He’s human, and life happens. He could decide to go on hiatus for a year or two, and one day he’ll retire and kill off Reacher or otherwise vanish him somehow. The end of Reacher is inevitable.

I already know how I’m going to handle Reacher’s demise or ultimate disappearance into the ether: I’m going to celebrate him by reading the whole entire series of novels all over again, and in chronological order this time.

To paraphrase Doc Holliday in Tombstone, “My obsession knows no bounds.”

 

Callaghan's drawing of Jack Reacher, as described by author Lee Child.

Callaghan’s drawing of Jack Reacher, as described by author Lee Child.

 

Jack Reacher intrigues with his complexity; over the arc of his 17 Reacher novels, Lee Child created a fictional portrait tight with detail resulting in a dimensional and well-developed action character who embroils himself in situations ranging from tricky to cataclysmic everywhere he goes. Reacher’s physical characteristics are explicitly defined and described consistently throughout the series – which is important to the stories, as Reacher needs that specific physique in order to do the things he does – and Reacher has a complete background with life details and personality traits from childhood on up.

 

Jack Reacher's "CV" appears at the front of many of the Reacher books I own, and it came in handy. While reading, I often had to refer back to Reacher's physical stats as cited on this page in order to gauge whether some of his more outrageous "activities" could be humanly possible.

Jack Reacher’s “CV” appears at the front of many of the Reacher books I own, and it came in handy. While reading, I often had to refer back to Reacher’s physical stats as cited on this page in order to gauge whether some of his more outrageous “activities” could be humanly possible.

 

Did you know, for instance, that Reacher speaks fluent French, because his mother was French? And that she lived in Paris, where he went to visit her on a few documented occasions? True story, as far as fictional stories go. Reacher is half-French, and he enjoyed dining with his maman and brother at the Restaurant Polidor, a Parisian eatery that was established in 1845 and still, to this day, won’t accept credit cards.

Actually, I discovered Reacher while living in France. I spent much of the summer of 2012 wandering alone through le Vieux Nice (Old Nice) and the surrounding streets, and one day, it occurred to me that La Fnac, a French counterpart of the States’ Barnes and Noble, might carry some books in English. I wanted to read. Moreover, I wanted the instant gratification of plunging headfirst into fiction and losing myself in its depths. Struggling through French text with a dictionary in one hand and a fistful of my own hair (clenched tightly by the roots) in the other would be educational, but it wouldn’t suit my purposes. Or my hair. I wanted escapism.

I was happy to find an abundance of Alice Munro, T.C. Boyle and Joyce Carol Oates, all of whom I adore – Munro’s short stories, especially – and then I wanted some fun pulp fiction to round out my selection. Action, thriller and horror (as well as any hybrids of the three… and if we’re talking fiction genre hybrids, you can throw some science fiction in there, too) are my favorite pulpy genres, and I had no idea where to begin looking. I’d already read all of the available Stephen King, who works masterfully at the intersection of literature and pulp fiction (like no one else does, in my opinion), and I wasn’t familiar with any of the other authors on the shelves. So I started picking up novels at random and reading the blurbs on the back, choosing, in the end, The Affair by Lee Child.

That’s where I met Reacher.

It turned out that The Affair was a good place to start, because it’s one of just a few Reacher novels written in the first person. The majority of the novels are written in the third person. I felt like I got to know Reacher through the lens of his own perspective.

It took a few pages to get acclimated to Child’s writing style, but he had me hooked in no time. I finished the book in three days and headed back downtown. I knew La Fnac had another Lee Child novel on the shelf, because I’d deliberated between the two before selecting The Affair. I went back for Gone Tomorrow, and then I embarked on a Reacher search expedition wherever I could find books in English throughout the French Riviera, including Virgin Records (also in the Le Vieux Nice area, on la Rue Jean Medecin), and Les Galleries Lafayette (a French equivalent of Macy’s) located in Cap 3000, a mall at the end of the Promenade des Anglais between Nice and Antibes. I also scoured the Nice Etoile, a much smaller mall located down the street from Virgin Records on la Rue Jean Medecin.

Somewhere in there, Callaghan picked up one of my books (Gone Tomorrow) and got hooked on Reacher, too. We needed to find more!

Back in our little wilderness corner of the world in le Vercors – we divided our time between Rhône-Alpes and la Côte d’Azur – we searched for Reacher in La Fnac in Valence, as well as in Cultura (similar to the States’ erstwhile Borders).

Out of all of those places, we were only able to find one more Reacher novel, at Virgin Records in Nice, I believe. Bad Luck and Trouble.   

But – surprise! – we found many more at the Frankfurt airport in September, when we stopped over in Germany on our way to Los Angeles. Of course! Reacher novels aren’t just great pulp fiction – they’re great airport pulp fiction. With plenty of time to enjoy some good German beer and browse every newsstand we could find, we ended up boarding the plane with something like seven or eight Reacher novels. When we got to Los Angeles, we went to Barnes and Noble with The List and picked up the remaining six or seven. We headed back to France with 14 Reacher novels in our suitcase, then in possession of all 17.

The following summer – last year – we were in Austin, Texas when Child’s 18th Reacher book hit the shelves. I was thrilled to be right there!

That brings us to Child’s 2014 release. August 28. I’m waiting patiently, only glancing at the calendar every other day or so.

I’ve been asked which Reacher novel is my favorite, and that’s difficult to answer. I’d say it’s a tie between Gone Tomorrow and Bad Luck and Trouble. Persuasion would probably come in third.I also really enjoyed the three most recent titles, those that chronicle Reacher’s adventures post South Dakota debacle: Worth Dying For, A Wanted Man and Never Go Back (last year’s). It’s difficult to say, though. They’re all fantastically entertaining!

I can’t wait to see what Reacher gets himself into in this year’s installment of the ongoing adventure….

JUSTICE IS COMING: An Overdue Anti-Rant about My FAVORITE Film!

As of today, I’ve been actively blogging for sixteen months and 4 days. That’s not a long time (not even a year and a half), but I’ve spent a fair amount of it blathering about movies and television series. Because of this, and because I injected into this blog – from the deepest regions of my heart – my profound disbelief over the deplorable miscasting of the titular character in Jack Reacher, I feel I would be remiss to let another week go by without taking the time to exalt my favorite movie.

I’m talking about my favorite movie of ALL TIME.

Most movie buffs have one – a film we’ve seen so many times, we don’t even know anymore how many times we’ve seen it. Today, I’m going to rhapsodize about mine. Keep in mind that I’m not here to write a film review; I am not a film critic. I’m here to make a (fruitless) attempt to convey how much I love this movie. I mean, I’m passionate about a lot of movies, so when I say that one is my ALL-TIME FAVORITE, that’s saying a lot.

It’s the only movie I can see again and again with perpetual excitement, my ardor sustained at the same stratospheric level over the last 21 years. It’s also the only movie that compels my inner film-geek to come out and actually recite the characters’ lines out loud, right along with them, which Callaghan had the misfortune of discovering when we watched it together a couple of weeks ago.

[Aside: the first time I saw it with Callaghan, we were still new together, and I was too shy to recite all the lines. I bit my tongue the whole time. Now that we’re married and he’s stuck with me, I let it all hang out. Typical! I did warn him in advance, though.]

So what movie am I talking about? It’s not The Big Lebowski, as some of you are probably thinking, though that’s up there in my Top Three.

I’m talking about Tombstone.

 

From left: Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday, Sam Elliott as Virgil Earp, Bill Paxton as Morgan Earp and Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp in Tombstone (1993)

From left: Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday, Sam Elliott as Virgil Earp, Bill Paxton as Morgan Earp and Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp in Tombstone (1993)

 

Historical fiction set where the main events took place here in Arizona, Tombstone is a western. This film is perfection. I’m not even going to bother adding “in my opinion,” because I truly believe that Tombstone is objectively perfect.

When Tombstone was released in 1993, I went to see it with John, my boyfriend, in central Phoenix. I remember that he lost his wallet there, and we spent about half an hour searching for it. I don’t remember whether he found it, but I do remember leaving the theatre feeling like a ten-year-old at Disneyland jumping breathlessly off the Star Tours ride, eager to run back to the line to wait for another go. Let’s do it again!

We returned to the theatre a few days later… John wanted to see Tombstone again, too. Not long after that, we went back for a third viewing. The fourth time I saw it, I went with some friends. I’m pretty sure I went a fifth time, but I don’t remember with whom. I want to say I went to see Tombstone five times… that seems about right. I remember feeling sad when it left the theatres.

But then Tombstone came out on video (VHS)! I bought it and watched it repeatedly over the years, and when the tape wore out, I picked up another one. Obsession alert: the years were rolling by, and my Tombstone-watching zeal was not dissipating! When DVDs came into existence at the end of the ‘90’s, Tombstone was the first DVD I bought. Shocking! Since then, I’ve seen it maybe, I don’t know, several hundred times more. Well, that’s an exaggeration, but you get the idea.

 

JUSTICE IS COMING!

JUSTICE IS COMING!

 

I figure between all the theatre tickets, video and DVD purchases, I’ve never paid a cast of actors so well as I’ve paid the Tombstone cast. Kurt Russell; Val Kilmer; Sam Elliot; Michael Biehn; Powers Booth; Bill Paxton; Dana Delaney, et al AND the entire film crew and production team behind them deserve every cent.

Also, may I just say that the music… that score! Just… never mind. Here, listen:

 

 

Many a film score stirs me, but Tombstone’s score fills me with happiness and revs me up like no other film score ever has… and it sure sounds a lot like mid-19th century Old West justice to me. It captures the essence of:

You tell ‘em I’M coming … and hell’s coming with me, you hear? HELL’S COMING WITH ME!

Ah, Wyatt.

I’m just fascinated with this segment of Arizona’s history – the historic gunfight at the O.K. Corral and the ensuing vendetta ride of Wyatt Earp’s posse – and this movie puts me there.

As I’d suspected, I’m finding it difficult to articulate why this movie impacts me to such an extent; the most flawless films in existence won’t make my “favorites” list if they don’t resonate with me somehow. Tombstone resonates with the core of my being. Critics may find flaws with Tombstone, but it’s a masterpiece as far as I’m concerned. My affection for Tombstone borders on adulation.

And yes, I admit it… the greatness that is Val Kilmer’s channeling of Doc Holliday kills me to this day, blah, blah, blah. I’m not going to bore you with that. I will say, though, that I haven’t seen cinematic charisma that potent before or since Tombstone. Val Kilmer’s performance is superb. If there’s ever been a more magnetic portrayal of Doc Holliday than Kilmer’s, I want to know about it, because I would have to see it to believe it. Kilmer manages to ooze Southern gentleman sex appeal and charm brilliantly from every tubercular pore in Holliday’s wasted, alcohol-saturated body in every one of his scenes. It’s not as unsavory as it sounds, believe me. He pulled it off.

 

Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday

Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday

 

You know what’s kind of unbelievable? I’ve spent 21 years of my life here in Arizona, and I still haven’t visited the town of Tombstone! Kind of like how I’ve been to Paris five times and never visited Jim Morrison’s grave. Unlike that, however, my failure to visit Tombstone isn’t an extreme first-world problem, because I can easily jump in the truck and drive myself to Tombstone any time I want. I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

Interestingly, Val Kilmer also played Jim Morrison in The Doors, and that’s my second-favorite role of his.

At any rate, if you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and watch Tombstone. I highly, highly recommend this film. Just trust me on this. It doesn’t matter if you’re not into westerns. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like action movies. (I know people who don’t care for either genre, but they love Tombstone.) I would be so bold as to predict that you’ll love this movie, or at least enjoy it. It draws you in, and what’s not to love about a sweeping tale involving family bonds and loyalty, lawmen and outlaws, revenge, romance and the sexiest Latin-quoting, quick-drawing, card-playing badass Southern gentleman you’ll ever see?

Oh, Johnny… I forgot you were there. You may go now.

Happy Friday the 13th!

It’s already 1:00 in the afternoon here. I woke up at 8:00, but my brain’s still struggling in the residual quicksand of a pair of disconcerting dreams. You know how it is when you wake up in the middle of a deep dream-state… it takes forever to feel “awake,” especially if the dreams were complicated, multi-dimensional and disturbing.

That aside, things of note this week!

–Pulp fiction gratification par excellence… I got my hands on Lee Child’s new Jack Reacher novel, Never Go Back, and it was a kick-ass good time. I loved it. Reacher hasn’t changed a bit on the written page; he’s the same blond, blue-eyed, ugly (self-described) Reacher, bigger and more powerful than most of his huge foes, an “animal” with “extreme genetics.”

Puberty had brought him many things unbidden, including height and weight and an extreme mesomorph physique, with a six-pack like a cobbled city street, and a chest like a suit of NFL armor, and biceps like basketballs, and subcutaneous fat like a Kleenex tissue.  

Same old Reacher!

–We met up with one of Callaghan’s long-time labusas.org friends at Fast Eddie’s in Round Rock. Labusas.org is a Los Angeles-based online forum about crotch rockets, with a focus on Hayabusas (Suzuki) and Zx12s (Kawasaki).

 

Chris, Eddie and Callaghan at Fast Eddie's in Round Rock

Chris, Eddie and Callaghan at Fast Eddie’s in Round Rock

 

It was "crazy glasses" night at Fast Eddie's, so Callaghan whipped these up on our way out (literally).

It was “crazy glasses” night at Fast Eddie’s, so Callaghan whipped these up on our way out (literally).

 

He made these beer stein glasses, too, which Eddie's modeling here.

He made these beer stein glasses, too, which Eddie’s modeling here.

 

Callaghan, Eddie and me

Callaghan, Eddie and me

 

 

–As the weather’s cooling down, we’re realizing the extent of the humidity (it’s not hot, but we’re sweating). This prompts consideration of where we might land in the future, in accordance with our plan to come here and evaluate how we like it from all angles before deciding that it’s a “permanent” place. Arid and semi-arid climates do the trick for us, a fact we’re coming to fully appreciate.  We’ll see what happens!

–Our place is slowly coming together in the aftermath of The Shipping. Here’s my “office” so far (it’s a section of wall in our bedroom):

 

Sitting in my "office," and damn, I need to clean my laptop - funny how you don't see the grunge until someone takes a picture of it!

Sitting in my “office,” and damn, I need to clean my laptop – funny how you don’t see the grunge until someone takes a picture of it!

 

 

This is a limited view of my office area, basically just me sitting here as Callaghan stood in the doorway with the camera. I’ll show you a full, detailed view after it’s completed. I’m shooting for Monday.

“Go then, there are other worlds than these.”

…said Jake Chambers in The Dark Tower epic series by Stephen King. Better words to capture the essence of escapism have never been spoken.

Whoa! This last week’s been about packing, cleaning, taking stuff to the dump, hanging out with a friend who came to stay for a couple of days, and working around technical difficulties – up until this minute, in fact – with both our internet connection and my computer AC adaptor malfunction.

I’m flipping through my agenda, the book in which I keep track of exciting things coming up. I like looking forward to stuff. I have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with secondary clinical depression, so looking forward to stuff is like the key to my well-being.

Mainly, right now, I’m looking forward to moving, and that’s a big thing. It’s exciting, but it’s big. It’s so big that it’s not on my list of things that I’m looking forward to, even though I am. It’s the small things that make a difference, because they don’t carry the caveat of stress that the big things do. The small things are just there to be anticipated. They are fluff, and fluff cannot be underrated.

Here, I’ll share this with you… Fluffy Things I’m looking forward to, in no particular order:

1. The return of Arrested Development (T.V. series) in May. The Bluth family. Because the chicken dance matters.

2. The next episode of The Following (T.V. series). Thank you again for this recommendation, Arne F.!

3. Stephen King’s The Wind through the Keyhole. Because Roland “The Gunslinger” Deschain, aka Roland of Gilead in the aforementioned Dark Tower epic series, is my fictional boyfriend.

I’m not an aficionado of the fantasy genre, but I’m obsessed with The Dark Tower, which is a brilliantly crafted literary collage of fantasy-horror-western-drama. When I finished all seven books in the series, I sought out the short stories that featured Roland. After that, I had to accept the fact that I’d read everything with Roland in existence. Life went on. Then, last week, we were browsing through the books in the English section at Cultura, and guess what! I discovered The Wind through the Keyhole. How did I not know about this publication? It came out last year. It’s a new installment in the Dark Tower series, but it can be read as a stand-alone novel, too. I’m forcing myself to wait until I’m on the airplane to crack it open.

Yep. Settling down on the plane over the Atlantic with this new Dark Tower book on my tray is going to be my reward to myself for surviving the stress of moving.

4. Lee Child’s new Jack Reacher novel Never Go Back (August). Because… Reacher!!

5. American Horror Story, Season 3 (October). This new season is called “Coven,” and a lot of it will be filmed in New Orleans. I’m sure it’s going to be as richly atmospheric as the first two seasons. Can’t. Wait.

(If we’ve been friends forever and you’re confused because you never knew me to watch T.V., let me explain what happened: Netflix streaming. And we started to watch Bob’s Burgers. That was the beginning of it. Or the end of it, depending on how you look at it.)

I also used to think that I’d never be interested in reality T.V., but then? Cake Boss.

For those of you who don’t know, the Cake Boss is this guy called Buddy who owns Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, New Jersey. The show follows Buddy and his family and crew as they create these freaktastically detailed specialty cakes custom-ordered by people for various occasions and events. The Cake Boss takes on some spectacular challenges; he seems to be the type of person who works well under pressure, thriving in merging funnels of drama and disaster, always managing to deliver his splendiferous works of sugary art in style. “NOW WHO WANTS TO EAT SOME CAKE?!”

Callaghan and I have an ongoing banter about what cakes we’d order from the Cake Boss. Callaghan knows that I’d love to have one for Valentine’s Day. Every once in a while, I’ll suddenly ask him… wait, okay, let me do it right now…

“What cake are you going to order for me?” I’m calling it out, since he’s in the other room.

“It’s a surprise… you’re not going to know. Heheheh! Coquine! You thought I was going to tell you, hein?”

See? He answered immediately, like he was waiting for me to ask! He has no idea that I’m writing this, and that I just keyed in what he said, word for word.

Shoot. I mean, okay, I’m not desperate to know. I’m not going to secretly administer a truth serum so he’ll tell me. I’ll enjoy being surprised.

It’s just fun to think about what he might order. It’s fun to think about getting, say, a Jack Reacher cake from the Cake Boss. Or a beautiful Dark Tower cake, featuring red roses and lobstrosities.

 

A Fan’s Perspective: Will the Real Jack Reacher Please Stand Up?

Bad Guy: *touches his gun*

Reacher: Hang on a second while I get a chair so that I may stand up on it and head-butt you.

If this scene exists in any of Lee Child’s 17 Jack Reacher novels, then congratulations, Jack Reacher film team… you’ve done well to cast Tom Cruise as Reacher.

The movie Jack Reacher opens today. I’m in France, where it won’t open for another week or so, but that’s irrelevant because I’m not going to go see it.

Before you dismiss me as a whiner harping on the height issue, let me just say that I know it’s hard for you movie-goers uninitiated to the Jack Reacher novels to comprehend the far-ranging negative reaction to this casting. I mean, with all of this brou-ha-ha over the casting, there must be something more to it, wouldn’t you think? So, I’m going to ask you this question to make it easier to understand (or at least to appreciate) the disbelief:

If you were looking forward to the making of a movie about the Vikings, the legendary drifting explorers and warriors of the north seas, would you want to see Tom Cruise cast in the lead Viking role?

Think about it. I mean, try to envision it. If you don’t know enough about the Vikings to form a mental image of Cruise as a Viking, then do some reading. Familiarize yourself. Get to know the subject matter. Get to know the Vikings.

Now tell me what you think.

Is Tom Cruise Viking material?

No? Okay, what if he was 6’ 5” tall and weighed 250 lbs – would he be Viking material then?

Still no? Why not? I thought the concern was his size, since that’s the obvious issue, but okay, let’s go further and imagine growing out and bleaching Tom Cruise’s perfectly styled, clean-cut, dark brown hair into a haphazard, dirty-blond un-style. Also, we’ll fit him with colored contacts to give him the icy blue eyes of the typical Viking.

Does that do it? Alright, then how about this: We’ll drag Tom Cruise face-down on a gravel path so his skin roughens up appropriately (I know what you were thinking… he’s “too pretty” to be convincing as a weather-worn, battle-scarred Viking who was never good-looking to begin with), and we’ll also give him a voice box transplant to replace his higher-pitched, bookish and slightly nasally voice with the deeper, quiet menace of the Viking’s voice – or at least what you’d imagine a Viking’s voice would sound like. Potentially thunderous, when needed, but not often needed. No need to talk much when you walk into a room and people instantly react to you because you’re, well, a Viking.

There!

What? After all that modification, you’re still saying “Tom Cruise is not a Viking?” That makes no sense at all, people. This is TOM CRUISE. He’s a great actor with years of experience making mega-millions at the box-office, guaranteed to deliver a cinematic hit! Oh, ye of no faith. Tom Cruise may be small, but he has massive star power. He may not be Mr. Universe, but he can carry this movie and the whole franchise, to boot. Give Cruise and the movie a chance. You might be surprised. Do I need to remind you that he’s not just any movie star, but an action movie star? TOM CRUISE IS A VIKING.

Right?

Now, replace “Viking” with “Reacher” in all of the above, and this is exactly where you arrive. At best, you’re still going to be scratching your head, thinking about it. No amount of “Give him a chance… size isn’t everything” is going to change the fact that Tom Cruise is not Jack Reacher, because even if we do forget about his size, there’s still a lot wrong with Cruise in this role.

Here’s an example of a well-known Reacherism: Mobility. Reacher walks a lot. Walking is his favorite mode of transportation. He walks almost as much as he drinks coffee, and that’s a lot. Second on his list, he takes the bus. Third, he hitch-hikes. And fourth, he takes the train.

Although Reacher can and does appropriate and drive whatever vehicle suits his needs at any given moment, it’s been firmly established that Reacher is not a driver. He dislikes driving, and he’s never had a civilian driver’s license. This is why Reacher fans know immediately that something is off when the first sound in the movie trailer is the gunning of a V-8 engine with the supposition that Reacher is behind the wheel. From that second on, the Reacher fan is thinking, “Wait! I thought this was a movie about Jack Reacher….?” Jack Reacher is not a driver.

So why do we have a movie called “Jack Reacher” with Tom Cruise agilely maneuvering a sports car around using every flashy show-off trick in his action-flick auto repertoire? Looks like Tom Cruise being Tom Cruise the Action Hero under the name of Jack Reacher. OH SHIT – Jack Reacher has been hijacked!!

That was the first part of my multi-tiered reaction to the movie trailer.

I found the trailer by accident. It was a thrilling little moment of discovery: YES! There’s a Jack Reacher movie!! I eagerly clicked to open the trailer, and I was instantly confused. I couldn’t find Reacher. All I saw was Tom Cruise. Once I understood that Cruise was supposed to be Reacher, I couldn’t believe it and kept looking around for the real Jack Reacher. (“Will the real Jack Reacher please stand up?” HA.) I remember thinking, “Okay, uhh… I see Tom Cruise acting tough and trying to sound threatening with his little round voice and looking sharp with his perfect hair and preppy outfit, but where is Reacher? OH… SHIT TOM CRUISE IS SUPPOSED TO BE JACK REACHER??” The trailer wound down to an end, and the final assault materialized before my eyes: the movie title “JACK REACHER” glowing in blue letters on the screen. Not only does Tom Cruise play Jack Reacher, but the film itself is called Jack Reacher. I went on Facebook and dashed out something that ended with *headdesk.* It felt like my fingers were throwing up.

Jack Reacher has a certain combat style, the central criteria being a massive physical form. In his case, size is not mere window-dressing, decorative and changeable according to whim. If it was, then sure, festoon Tom Cruise with a bunch of ribbons and bows and call it a day. In book after book, Jack Reacher the Pain Inflictor (if I may call him that – I like the way it rhymes, it’s corny and it sums him up) incapacitates and destroys his opponents using moves that would be physically impossible for a shorter-than-average man to perform.

In the first Jack Reacher book I ever read, Reacher “snaps forward from the waist” and head-butts two guys, one after the other, laying them out flat. The guys are described as “each about six-two and around two hundred or two hundred and ten pounds. They had long knotted arms and big hands. Work boots on their feet.” (The Affair) Hours later, after they regained consciousness, “Both of them had noses like spoiled eggplants. Both of them had two black eyes. Both of them had crusted blood on their lips.”

Sorry, Tom Cruise. You are not going to convince anyone that you can damage two big goons in this manner. Even with elevator risers in your shoes, you are not going to stand there and head-butt two guys who are 7-8 inches taller than you. That arrogant smirk on your face isn’t going to add to your credibility, either. The Tom Cruise smirk doesn’t call to mind the expression of quizzical bemusement that’s another Reacherism. It’s not ominous. There’s no gravity behind it. It’s just… the Tom Cruise smirk.

In the end, this casting is simply unfair. It’s asking too much of a Reacher fan to try to reconcile the profile of Jack Reacher with Tom Cruise. We’re not a tough crowd to please. We’re not looking for the “perfect” Jack Reacher actor, because we know that there’s no such thing. It’s just that as loyal fans, we would feel respected if an honest attempt had been made to cast an actor who could be more believable as Reacher, an actor who could better embody the essence of and maybe even slightly resemble the Reacher that has been constructed for us on the written page. I think there’s something to be said for a good effort to preserve the integrity of an artistic creation.

Unfortunately, no honest attempt at an appropriate casting took place here. After years of expressed interest in Jack Reacher, Tom Cruise bought the rights to the book (One Shot) and went ahead and produced it and starred in it. Author Lee Child, who at one point said that Tom Cruise was “way too short to play Reacher,” has since tap-danced all over the table justifying (yes, he does have to justify it – he owes it to his baffled million+ fan base, without whom he would have nothing) his approval with flimsy assertions like “No one else could do it” (really?) and “Reacher is a metaphor” (simultaneously evading the issue and elevating his work to a higher level of prose than the pulp fiction that it actually is, excellent though it may be).

Of course we Reacher fans are feeling ripped off getting Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher. (Or, shall I say, Tom Cruise instead of Jack Reacher.) How great would it have been to be able to anticipate this film, as so many fiction fans do when their favorite books are being adapted to film? Harry Potter fans got an amazing cast for their literary obsession. Hunger Games fans’ heroine Katniss was done justice by the brilliant Jennifer Lawrence. Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean works, I think; in his elaborate stage make-up, he is Jack Sparrow when you look at him, not Johnny Depp. But Jack Reacher? All anyone will see when they look there is Tom Cruise. No attempt was made to adapt his appearance to fit that of Reacher. It’s Mr. Clean-Cut Risky Business-As-Usual Cruise showing up to play the part of a hulking, Viking-like character. It’s a colossal disappointment for Reacher fans. An actor who would actually make sense in the role could’ve taken it and run with it all the way through the franchise. Jack Reacher would have his own face – not Tom Cruise’s.

So that’s why I’m not going to buy a ticket when Jack Reacher gets to France. I have no desire to watch Tom Cruise play himself in another Tom Cruise action movie, when what I want is to watch an actor playing Reacher in a Jack Reacher movie.

If I want to see Tom Cruise, I’ll rent Tropic Thunder again, or Jerry Maguire. See? I’m not a Tom Cruise hater. I’m just a person who loves Jack Reacher.