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Ryan Beltram

Ryan Beltram

Passionate about movies, sports and writing, Ryan hails from Bend but lives in Springfield now. He earned his college degree in journalism from the University of Oregon and hopes to one day write a novel. He also enjoys sunsets and long walks on the beach.
ryan.beltram@eugenedailynews.com @RyanBeltram

Where Did The Week Go…

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I don’t normally watch Jeopardy. Why, because I’m under 60. When I do decide to partake in the old game show, it’s often during teen-week because that’s when I am able to answer at least some of the questions. It’s both depressing and satisfying at the same time.

Jeopardy isn’t known for being a particularly flashy show. It stays true to the old-school game show formula of having a well-spoken old guy ask a serious of questions to test contestant’s level of intelligence or maybe just their ability to memorize a bunch of random facts. This formula has worked for more than 40 years.

But it’s okay to inject some youthful energy into the show every now and then and that’s exactly what happened earlier this week.

With his ’70s Afro and laid-back attire, teen contestant Leonard Cooper dominated two other suit-and-tie nerds and won the Teen Tournament. But it was the way Cooper ended the night that has everybody talking.

At $37,000 in winnings for the night, Cooper led comfortably heading into the final question. Faced with the clue, “On June 6, 1944, he said, “The eyes of the world are upon you,” Cooper seemed to write a little longer than the other two contestants. Wagering nothing, his screen read: “Who is some guy in Normandy, but I just won $75,000!”

To the delight of Alex Trebek who was giggling like a school girl, (Seriously, this guy does the same thing every day. He was probably ecstatic for something different) Cooper was awarded the $75,000 for winning the Teen Tournament.

Everyone is always so serious and focused on that show so it was refreshing to see a kid relaxed and enjoying himself.

Netflix Instant Pick: House of Cards

Last week Netflix debuted their second original series, House of Cards. But unlike their first, Lillyhammer, Cards feels like a debut Netflix has been wanting to move toward original programming. With David Fincher directing the first two episodes and producing the show as well as Kevin Spacey starring, House of Cards had the pedigree to be a drama that rivaled anything on HBO or AMC. But is the show any good? The answer to that is most definitely.

Set in the world of dirty politics, the series begins with Congressman Francis Underwood (Spacey) learning that he will not become the next Secretary of State despite being promised the position. Now he’s hell bent on manipulating the system, getting revenge and doing whatever is necessary to reach higher office.

Spacey is devilishly good as the southern politician. His character will occasionally break the fourth wall and look into the camera to talk to his audience. This is a brave decision for the show to make, but his occasional therapeutic break from character provides viewers with a unique insight into what he’s thinking. It also acts as a creative storytelling device.

House of Cards

Kevin Spacey was born to play a politician.

The supporting cast is equally strong. Robin Wright acts as the somewhat moral compass to Francis. But as things typically go in the world of politics, even the wives have their own agenda. Other standouts include Corey Stoll as a Congressman going through a number of personal issues and Kate Mara as a plucky young reporter who will do just about anything to get a story.

The show looks fantastic and similar to Breaking Bad, House of Cards does a wonderful job of creating story lines that are not only fully developed, but create consequences and conflict that affect every character. Every cast member no matter the importance seems to be there for a reason.

If there’s one complaint I have with the show it’s that Underwood seems to be able to manipulate nearly every person he comes into contact with. He’s one charming guy, but shouldn’t everyone else be equally intelligent? And if Underwood is so much smarter and experienced than everyone else, why didn’t he get the Secretary of State job?

Overall the show is intelligent, dramatic and often funny. Netflix made the decision to drop all 13 episodes at once so you have the ability to binge-watch (is there any other way to do it) and I highly recommend it. For a television season that’s been extremely disappointing in regards to new shows, House of Cards stands out.

There’s a reason a lot of Russians were able to capture the meteor on video

If there’s one thing I learned from watching A Good Day to Die Hard, it’s that there appears to be a serious lack of law-enforcement in Russia. With endless gun battles, car chases and helicopter raids, the thought crossed my mind more than once that Russia was nothing more than a playground for destruction in the latest Hollywood blockbuster. But after witnessing all of the videos taken in Russia following a 10-ton meteor falling from the sky, maybe Die Hard 5 did in fact get something right.

According to a report last year by Al Jazeera, an estimated one million Russian motorists have dashboard video cameras installed in their cars. This is not to capture meteors falling from the sky or to witness John McClane gunning down bad guys, but rather a very serious need to end police corruption.

In a piece written last year by New York Blogger and Russian native Marina Galperina, dash cam cameras have become commonplace.

“The Russian Highway Patrol is known throughout their land for brutality, corruption, extortion and making an income on bribes. Dash-cams won’t protect you from being extorted for cash, because your ass shouldn’t have been speeding. It will however keep you safer from drunks in uniform, false accusations and unreasonable bribe hikes.”

Thankfully, the meteor that fell didn’t cause any deaths, but it may have inadvertently highlighted a bigger issue going on in Russia.

 

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