Reviews | Plus or Les: Back, just like Tom Cruise | Local News

The movie ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ is making big money in theaters – a sequel to a movie released in 1986. You know, how long ago was that? This was before cell phones were everywhere, before seedless watermelons, and even before Netflix.

In fact, it took ten years before DVDs – Netflix’s first delivery vehicle – were invented. We were still rewinding VHS tapes back then.






Les covers higher education, including Southern Illinois University and area community colleges, as well as business news and religion. A graduate of three SIU degrees, he has written for The Southern since 2009, joining the newsroom team in 2021. Contact him at [email protected] or 618-351-5036.​


Byron Hetzler



It’s been so long since I was in college.

Still, the movie franchise (starring the now 60-year-old Tom Cruise) pulls it off, proving that even old ideas with vintage guys are worth a shot.

I sure hope so, because even though I’m not Tom Cruise (ask my wife), I’m also back.

Some readers will remember that from 2012 to 2016, I was the “he” in “He Said, She Said”, a weekly column in The Southern where I wrote from a point of view that I called “the gaze of ‘an average guy on life’.

Through nearly 200 columns, I’ve shared my admittedly distorted view of everything from raising young children as an old man, my disdain for televisions in waiting rooms, air-operated hand dryers in the bathrooms, the ugly Christmas cards and the magic of professional hockey.

People also read…

As I wrote a long time ago, some look at things and wonder “Why?” I look at things and I ask myself “what is this?

Just as some Navy jet movie fans have wondered for years when the next episode of “Top Gun” would arrive, some (OK, 17 or six of you if you don’t count the members of my family) wondered when I would be dreaming, pontificating and just raving again.

I hope these six people will be happy to start by sharing my sequel – the return of weekly observations and opinions, this time under the banner “More or Les”.

Much like how “Top Gun: Maverick” is more than Tom Cruise, it will be more than me. It will be about my family (they have all been warned), the adventures of having children from 5 to 31 at my age (think of my 8 years old and I will be senior at the same time), the distractions and complications of everyday life and more.

I might revisit some topics I covered years ago (diets and dogs come to mind) and maybe even explore new topics like seedless watermelon, food delivery, and bifocals. Who knows, everything will be fair.

Well, anything but politics. I promised my editors never to talk about politics; at least that’s what they think. In fact, I promised never to say anything nice about politicians. (Okay, except those of you who represent me. I don’t want you raising my taxes.)

Either way, we’re about to take off like an F-18 piloted by Mr. Cruise. Wait. This ride will be just as thrilling…More or Les.

Les O’Dell is a reporter and columnist for The Southern Illinoisan. He can be reached at [email protected] or (618) 351-5036

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