Tag Archives: John Candy

My newest addiction are throwback NBA socks, I may have a problem. Remembering the great John Candy, 25 years after his death. And the producers of Broadway’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” stupidly enforce legal rights against small theaters

Hi, my name is Michael, and I have a developing addiction.

Oh don’t worry, it’s not smoking, drugs, alcohol, gambling, or online porn. Nothing to get TOO worried about, I hope.

But there’s a company out there called Stance, and they make these incredible, beautiful, poetic throwback NBA athletic socks, and, well, I’m in deep, man.

For the past few weeks I’ve been scouring eBay and other sites looking for great deals on a Dr. J ABA Nets pair, or maybe Clyde Drexler Portland Trail Blazers circa 1992 pair. They catch my eye, and I swoon, like a sailor returning from leave and seeing his bride.

I now own about 8 pairs of these functional pairs of socks, that keep my feet oh-so-cozy in winter and spark conversation at my 16-month-old’s activities when, quite often, we grown-ups have to take off our shoes.

And yeah, more than once I’ve said to my wife “OK, I’ve bought enough, I’m good now.” I’m lying to myself and her.

It all started innocently enough, like all addictions do. Last year we were shopping at Foot Locker for new kicks for my 3-year-old, and I saw a “Clearance sale” type bin, and there they were, just beautiful: Red, white and blue, New Jersey Nets crew socks, for like $8. I had to have them. Then came another Foot Locker and some old-school Golden State Warriors socks.

Then some Jackie Robinson Brooklyn Dodgers ones, and some Seattle Supersonics-themed socks.

My latest purchases, which have me super-excited, are those Warriors throwback Run-TMC designed socks from the early 1990s, and these Dominique Wilkins Atlanta Hawks kick-ass socks (below, come on, those are pretty sweet, right?)

As addictions go, this one is pretty cheap (most I’ve paid for a pair is $12). And they do bring small joy to my life. I dream of one day wearing nothing BUT Stance socks, every day, for the rest of my days on Earth.

I don’t think I’ll ever go THAT crazy. But, you know, if I do, let this post serve as a warning sign.

**Next up today, while my generation is rightly mourning the loss of Luke Perry, the “Beverly Hills, 90210” star who shockingly suffered a stroke and died this week at age 52, there was another death on my mind this week, thanks to the electric Twitter machine, as Charlie Pierce calls it.

John Candy, the wildly talented, big-hearted actor from so many great 1980s movies, died 25 years ago this week. And heartthrob actor Ryan Reynolds, who I would not have expected this from, has put together a beautiful 2-minute tribute to Candy and his work, with of course clips from my favorite comedy of all time, “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.” (And also from “Brewster’s Millions,” an underrated flick with Richard Pryor and Candy).

A wonderful comedic actor, taken far too soon. In his honor, I’m gonna go out today and buy some shower-curtain rings.

**Finally today, I have really not wanted to see the new Broadway adaptation of “To Kill A Mockingbird” even though Aaron Sorkin, my all-time favorite TV and movie writer, is in charge of it, because I’m afraid of it ruining the book for me. Oh, I hear it’s fabulous, and my wife and mother are both excited to see it soon, but I refuse.
Well, now I have another reason to dislike it: The greed and lack of common decency of the producers, including mega-successful Hollywood dude Scott Rudin.

Check out this story from the New York Times about regional theaters all over the country having to shut down their “TKAM” productions because of threatened litigation by the Broadway people.

It seems there’s an obscure agreement from 1969 between the Lee estate and that says that if there’s a new adaptation of Harper Lee’s classic book on Broadway,

The estate’s lawyers sent several letters to Dramatic over the last few weeks protesting its granting of rights to a number of theaters. The letters invoked a 1969 contract between Lee and Dramatic Publishing Company, which sells theaters the rights to put on a play, that “blocks “Mockingbird” productions within 25 miles of cities that had a population of 150,000 or more in 1960 (the last census year before the agreement was signed) while a “first-class dramatic play” based on the novel is playing in New York or on tour.”

So basically, theaters in Buffalo, Oklahoma City and other cities around the country are barred from having their own little productions because the big, bad Broadway version exists.

This is absolute horsecrap. As is Rudin’s rueful quote about it:

“We hate to ask anybody to cancel any production of a play anywhere, but the productions in question as licensed by DPC infringe on rights licensed to us by Harper Lee directly. The Sergel play can contractually continue to be performed under set guidelines as described in detail in its own agreement with Harper Lee — and as long as those guidelines are adhered to, we have no issue with the play having a long life.”

Ridiculous. The Broadway production is making millions upon millions of dollars, and there is no freaking way anyone in another American city is going to confuse, or not want to see the Sorkin version, because they’re seeing their local community put it on.

I don’t care what was said or agreed upon on 1969, forcing these companies around the country to shut down their little productions is just wrong, and mean.

(Update: After a barrage of criticism about this short-sighted move, Rudin has sorta, kinda relented, allowing the regional theaters to put the play on, but only using the Broadway version of the script. Which of course is way too little, too late for most of these companies, since their casts and crew would have to learn a whole new play, basically. Grrr.)

My 10 favorite movies of all-time. And a way-cool helmet-cam look at hockey.


I’ve had two conversations with different people in the last week talking about our favorite movies of all time.

It’s a conversation I’ve had with a lot of people, actually, over the years, because just about everyone I’ve ever met can rattle off their top 3 or 4 movies off the top of their head (my wife is not one of those people; when we talked about movies in one of our first-ever conversations, she was pretty stumped when I asked her favorite. I only counted that against her a little bit).

So, because I’ve never done this before on the blog, and because I’m always looking to spark a little debate, here are my 10 favorite movies ever. Not saying these are the greatest ever, just the ones that mean the most to me.

Argue away…

1. Field of Dreams: It has occupied this list since the first time I saw it in about 1990 or so. Perfect combination of acting, writing, and a little bit of magic. I used to have the James Earl Jones speech at the end memorized and would recite it to my family on command. Seen this film probably 50 times, and love it each time even more.

2. The Princess Bride: To quote the great Joe Posnanski, “there are two kinds of people in the world: People who love this movie, and people who don’t have a heart.” Funniest movie I’ve ever seen, and eminently re-watchable.

3. Say Anything: The best of all the Cameron Crowe movies, which is saying something. Early John Cusack, a brilliant script, and it captures the late 1980s high school vibe better than anything else. Plus, the scene at the Gas ‘N’ Sip with Jeremy Piven (below) is classic.

4. Hoosiers: Best sports movie ever in my book. Love Gene Hackman in this, and the great visuals of Indiana basketball in the 1950s. I own a Jimmy Chitwood No. 15 jersey, that’s how much I love this movie.

5. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: Wildly underrated flick; I’m amazed when I meet someone who hasn’t seen it. Steve Martin and John Candy, road-tripping from Chicago to New York. Too many funny scenes to recount, but “Those Aren’t Pillows?” is among the finest.

6. Goodfellas: I will, and have previously, argue with anyone who says “The Godfather” is better. The story of Henry Hill’s rise as a gangster is so damn good. De Niro and Pesci are great, the script is fantastic, and Marty Scorsese (especially in the famous kitchen of the Copa scene, above) directs beautifully.

7. When Harry Met Sally: Best romantic comedy ever; to call it a rom-com is almost an insult. Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan have perfect chemistry, Bruno Kirby and Carrie Fisher are great too (“you made a woman meow?”), and the late great Nora Ephron’s script is perfect.

8. Fargo: The Coen Brothers have made a lot of great films, but this is their masterpiece. William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi and the great Frances McDormand in a kidnapping tale gone way wrong. So dark, and so brilliant.

9. Almost Famous: Yes, I’ve got two Cameron Crowe movies in my Top 10. “Almost Famous” is just another perfect movie. Patrick Fugit in the role of his life, Kate Hudson never better, and Billy Crudup as the perfect “guitar player with mystique” in a 1970s rock band. So many amazing lines and scenes; my favorite is William dancing with Penny and saying “I’m about to boldly go where many men have gone before.”

Course, this scene’s not bad, either:

10. 12 Angry Men: Very close call here at No. 10; I easily could’ve gone with “Coming To America,” “Midnight Run,” or “American Beauty. ”

But the story of Juror No. 8 (Henry Fonda) convincing 11 other men of a young son’s innocence in the death of his father has stuck with me ever since I first saw it as a kid. Such spare, terrific acting, the whole movie takes place in one room, and it’s riveting as hell.

**Finally today, I always love videos that show us a different view of sports we’re all so familiar with.  So I thought this was really cool: A minor league hockey referee wore a GoPro helmet cam during a Dec. 20 game, along with his regular microphone, and the sights and sounds we get to hear are really great.

I especially love how harshly he talks to players who are trying to get an extra punch in after the whistle (around the 2:30 mark), and just how much stuff a ref has to deal with.

Really cool idea, and I hope it catches on in the NHL.

R.I.P. John Hughes, the director of my childhood


Every generation has voices who spoke to them. Older voices who were the soundtracks and the video reels of our childhood.

Sure. we romanticize them sometimes. But they’re as much a part of our growing up as Little League and Girl Scouts, camping trips and hallway lockers.

This summer, my generation lost its soundtrack in Michael Jackson. And now we’ve lost our filmmaker in the legendary John Hughes.

Generation X has suffered two body blows in the matter of months. I swear to God, if Madonna gets hit by a bus next week, I think I may lose it.

To say I loved John Hughes movies is like saying I kind of like chocolate chip cookies.

I’m certain I can quote three of his eight directed films, line for line, by heart. Just get me started on any scene from “The Breakfast Club” (“This is what you get in my house, when you spill paint in the garage!”), “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” (Didn’t you notice on the plane, when you started talking, eventually I started reading the vomit bag!”) or “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (“You’re Abe Froman? The sausage king of Chicago?”), and I’m gone for 20 minutes.

It’s incredible to me that in eight films, he left such a mark. He also wrote “Mr. Mom,” “Weird Science,” and “She’s Having a Baby,” three more that will always live in the 1980s canon.

Hughes’ brilliance was shown in so many ways. For one thing, he didn’t condescend to the viewers. He actually created real characters who talked like real high schoolers, and he painted a portrait of kids who we all could identify with.

Who didn’t know a Stef from “Pretty in Pink,” or “The Geek” in “Sixteen Candles”? This was the first time I felt like a movie was really about people who could’ve existed in my life.

Then there was the writing. Hughes’ scripts were always filled with laughter and fantastic one-liners, but they also contained so much heart.

That scene in “The Breakfast Club” where they’re all sitting around the library and Emilio Estevez is talking about taping Larry Lester’s buns together is so surprisingly moving. The ending of “Pretty in Pink” is so sweet, too, with Ducky finally blowing out his torch for Andie and encouraging her to go find Blane.

Hughes had the ability to infuse a scene with warmth and make you melt inside, but not go too far into mushy territory.

Thinking about him tonight, as I’m sure millions of people my age are, I’m blown away at how often I’ve quoted a Hughes movie, or watched one of them on cable (OK, so they’re on every 10 minutes somewhere, I still can’t skip past them), or referenced it in everyday life.

Say the name “Jake Ryan” and my wife’s eyes light up and a huge smile comes to her face. Was any 80s movie character more beloved by girls than he was? Mention Steve Martin and John Candy in the same sentence, and so many people think of “Those aren’t pillows!”

Literally every time my best childhood friends Andrew, Marc, Tracie and I are together, one of us will quote a line from “The Breakfast Club.” Every. Single. Time.

The Brat Pack shot to fame thanks to Hughes (if you have to ask who the Brat Pack are, I will feel really old), and he used the same actors over and over because they perfectly embodied what he wanted.

John Hughes didn’t win Oscars like Francis Ford Coppola, and he won’t go down as a cinematic genius like Oliver Stone or Steven Spielberg.

But if the true mark of a person is what kind of legacy you’ve left, and how many lives you affected, John Hughes was a giant.

So many of us laughed and cried because of what he created.

Cameron Frye will live in our hearts forever, as will John Bender and Del Griffith and all the rest.

R.I.P. John Hughes, and thanks for directing my childhood.

And now, two classic scenes from John Hughes movies: