Tag Archives: John Hughes

10 years of Wide World of Stuff: Today, a remembrance of John Hughes, whose movies shaped my childhood

As I continue a look back at the history of my blog on the 10th anniversary of its founding, I wanted today to re-post something (originally published on August  7, 2009) I wrote about the late, great movie director John Hughes, who for Generation X’ers like me was so incredibly instrumental in shaping the pop culture of our childhood.

He died far, far too young, but left us with so many wonderful memories, and films…

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.

 

Happy Bloggiversary to me. And R.I.P., Bob Sheppard.

One year ago yesterday, at the prodding of my wife and friends, I started this here blog called Wide World of Stuff.

At first, I wondered if I’d have anything to say every day. Then I wondered who in their right minds would want to read my ramblings, musings, and oddball stories found on the Internet.

I’m thrilled to say that a year later, both of those questions were answered. As any of my friends and relatives will tell you, I’m very rarely at a loss for words. (True story: I was a late talker as a kid and my Grandpa Larry was afraid I’d never speak. I guess I’ve been catching up ever since.)

And, even more amazingly to me, you’ve found me and have kept coming back. My readership seems to grow every month, and I thank you very much for that. Your comments inspire and amuse, and even get my blood boiling (I’m looking at you, Brian M.!)

It’s funny when I looked back on it what some of my most popular posts have been; they have little to do with each other. You liked the one on the annoying little girl in the Bob Dance car commercials, and the one about my kidney issue (I only have one).

But you also liked the serious ones; I got the most feedback on an essay I wrote about my favorite high school teacher, Mr. Gehrhardt, and my attempt at an obituary for a man so vital to my generation, Mr. John Hughes.

When I started this blog, I hoped it would be a conversation on sports, politics, and pop culture. I also thought it would be fun. It has been, and I thank you so much for stopping by, whether this is your first time or 100th time.

And oh yeah, the reason Mark Harmon’s picture is on top of this post? Searches for him have been the No.1 search term people have used to find Wide World of Stuff.

Yeah, I don’t get it either.

***If there is a voice of God, I hope he sounds like Bob Sheppard.

The public address announcer for the Yankees for more than 50 years died Sunday, at the astonishing age of 99. There is no greater feeling for a ballplayer, I’ve heard, then walking into the Stadium for the first time and hearing Sheppard announce your name.

He was as much a part of the Yankees as Mantle and DiMaggio, Mattingly and Rivera. I always loved how he enunciated every syllable of every name, though my all-time favorite Sheppard name is “Alvaro Espinoza.”

He was a symbol of class and dignity for more than half a century, and his voice still rings out today at the Stadium when Derek Jeter walks to the plate.

Rest in peace, Bob, you were the finest voice of your profession.

**

The Brat Pack gets their Boswell. And a way cool Chick Hearn statue

A short blog after another outstanding night of Stanley Cup playoffs action, and trying to figure out how my new dog is able to bounce off the bureau and propel himself over the fence we have set up to keep him in one room… the guys at Petco are going to know my name really quickly…

I think it’s fair to say that I loved the Brat Pack, as did most people of my generation.

Of course Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson and Molly Ringwald, et. al, weren’t the greatest actors ever. I don’t think they won any Oscars or Golden Glboers, but they were absolutely, positively the perfect embodiment of kids of my Generation, Generation X.

After the great John Hughes, who made many of them stars, died last year, we all mourned and talked about his legacy, and theirs.

Well, Susannah Gora has done more than that, and I can’t wait to read it. She’s written a book with the beautiful title “You Couldn’t Ignore me If  You Tried,” and if I have to tell you what movie that quote is from, I will be sad (“The Breakfast Club.”)

It’s about the rise and fall of the Brat Pack, and how they survived having an insane amount of publicity and attention at such a young age (here’s a thought: can you imagine how overexposed they would’ve been if the Internet existed in the 1980s?)

Anyway, it’s definitely on my reading list.

**So every once in a while, a sports organization gets something exactly right.

Chick Hearn was the legendary play-by-play announcer for the L.A. Lakers, a guy who invented the term “slam dunk” and was maybe the greatest hoops announcer ever (sorry Marv.)

He died eight years ago, and the Lakers finally got around to erecting a statue of him outside the Staples Center this week.

It’s a beautiful statue, truly, but the best thing is that they also created an empty chair next to Hearn, so anyone can sit down and pretend they’re calling the game with him.

Brilliant. Totally want to go to L.A. now to do that.

The Oscars break a glass ceiling, a tribute to a great music teacher, and love for Mr. Mom

Scale of 1 to 10 on last night’s Oscars? I’m going with a 7.7.

Pretty good Academy Awards show, I thought. No major surprises, no unbelievably memorable moments, but pretty good stuff all around, which I’ve come to expect. Maybe it’s me, but it seems like after being bad for a few years, the Oscars have been good for a while now.

Only wish we didn’t have SUCH predictability. Seems like we used to get more upsets. Marisa Tomei winning, or Roberto Benigni (best speech ever, just a totally insanely happy man on the best day of his life), those were genuine stunners.

Still, Sunday night had some moments, good and bad. My quick thoughts:

— OK, Kathy Ireland, you’re beautiful, and you’ve aged beautifully. But oh my God, you were the worst excuse for an interviewer in the history of the world. I mean, if awfulness were people, you’d be India. Dear God, I yearned for Ryan Seacrest, she was so bad!

— Thought Sandra Bullock had the speech of the night; you could tell she knew that unlike Meryl Streep (who shoulda won), this was one her shot ever at Oscar. She seemed really heartfelt, and I’m glad she thanked the Tuohy family (the real-life family in “The Blind Side” ) in her acceptance.

— Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin were better than I thought. Some of the opening jokes were great (The Meryl Streep-Hitler one was particularly funny, and the Steve Martin joke to Christoph Waltz about hunting for Jews was brilliant), and they kept the show moving pretty well.

— Why are we subjected to the god-awful musical numbers that go on for 412 minutes every year? Does anyone enjoy these?

— Tell you what I always DO enjoy: The Dead People Montage. I love honoring those who are no longer with us one last time, for all the good work they did while they were breathing. I do feel sorry, though, for the behind-the-scenes people they honor who never really get much applause from the audience. Patrick Swayze? Big hand from the crowd. Cinematographer guy no one’s ever heard of? Only crickets are heard.

— I knew they were going to do something for my man John Hughes, but it was better than I’d hoped. Loved seeing “The Breakfast Club” group up there. Would it have been too much to ask for them all to break out into the “dancing in the library” scene from the movie? And Anthony Michael Hall, wow, he looked totally different.

— Mo’Nique won for best supporting actress and gave a real nice speech. And no one’s making a big deal that an African-American woman got an Oscar.

I’d say that’s progress, wouldn’t you?

— Hard to believe no woman had ever won best director before; about damn time someone did. Way to go, Kathryn Bigelow. And I love that her enormously egotistical ex-husband James Cameron had to sit there and watch her win.

Just discovered that “The Hurt Locker” is already on my cable box pay per view on Demand channel. Definitely going to watch it soon.

— And finally, from my wife, who pays way more attention to Oscar fashion than I do: “Miley Cyrus, stand up straight! And that dress is totally inappropriate for a 16-year-old!”

Amen.

**So sometimes I think I’ve posted something on here that I’ve actually only emailed to a bunch of people I know (What can I tell you? I’m a fool.)

I thought I had posted this last week, but apparently, not so much. This beautiful story from the the New York Times last week, by Joanne Lipman, is about her old music teacher. When he died, his old students came together for a final tribute concert. It’s a really beautiful story.

**And finally, because that John Hughes Oscar tribute was so good, and because I feel this movie is criminally underappreciated, a funny scene from “Mr. Mom.” (I tried to find the Schooner Tuna commercial, but dammit, it’s not on Youtube.)

An Olympic curling heartbreaker, the wonderful Vonn, and a kick-ass John Hughes tribute

Oy, so many things to blog about tonight, and so little time … I know you’re all as busy as I am so a bunch of quick-hitting thoughts today:

— Why I love the Olympics, Reason 467: Lindsey Vonn’s emotions after winning her

first gold medal, in the women’s downhill. If LeBron James or Derek Jeter lose a playoff series, they know they have next season. These Olympians have to wait four years to try to reach the pinnacle of their sport again, and the thousands and thousands of hours of training and suffering aren’t worth it unless you medal.

Vonn, who has had so much pressure on her in the run-up to the Games, since she was NBC’s poster-child for Team USA, came through with the race of her life. And then, after it was over, she wept and sobbed and embraced her husband in such a beautiful moment. (Though hey, NBC, could we have given them their private moment without filming it? I mean, it was great television, but a few minutes of privacy first would’ve been nice for them.)

— Julie and I were absolutely riveted between 6-8 p.m. Wednesday night, as the U.S. and Switzerland’s men’s curling teams battled in a great match. I’m telling you, this curling stuff is phenomenal. The strategy, the announcer guy Don (who has a fabulous Canadian accent and such a folksy charm; he’s like the Tom Bodette of these Olympics), the fact that there are timeouts (that kills me), the cool but enormous measurement tool they use to see which rock is closer to “the house” … it’s all fascinating.

Brutally tough loss for the U.S., as our skip, John Shuster, couldn’t quite do enough to lead America to victory.  It was our second-straight one point defeat; couple that with the U.S. women’s loss Wednesday morning, and it’s safe to say our rocks haven’t been, well, rockin’ so far.

— A brief non-Olympics interlude: I am truly blown away by how bizarre “Big Love” is getting. I mean, it’s bordering on the ridiculous. Still, I’m riveted. OK, end of digression.

— I have no idea how Shaun White does what he does. But damn, it’s awesome.  I don’t want to say he was up high on the half-pipe course, but three people boarded him thinking it was the plane for their flight to Seattle.

— The short-track speed skating continues to thrill. Good for Shani Davis to win again, and watching the women’s 500 late last night was awesome; there were four crashes in the prelim races; this sport truly is NASCAR with skates.

— And finally, I wrote about my love of the late, great director John Hughes here when he died.  For some reason I hadn’t seen this yet, but my old college buddy Rob Kalesse put this on his Facebook page tonight, and I was blown away.

If you’re a child of the 80’s, or just love John Hughes, this is five wonderful minutes that you’ll enjoy.

Why Wal-Mart and the YES Network are on my (you-know-what) list

anti walmart

girl-scout-cookies

No, it’s not for the same reason, but I’m pretty pissed at both of them right now.

Actually, I’ve been mad at Wal-Mart for just about the last 10 years. Ask any of my good friends and family and they’ll tell you straight out that I refuse to go there, or let anyone I know shop there.

Why? Well, you could start with their absolutely shady business practices. Or their unconscionable treatment of employees who want to unionize or, you know, improve working conditions. Or you could read about their terrible overseas factories and how the lives of their workers there are.

If you think I’m just making this stuff up, check out this website, or read as much as you can of this incredible Pulitzer-Prize winning series by the L.A. Times from 2003.

Anyway, I’d thought I’d run out of  reasons to hate the discount chain. But nope, they keep scraping the bottom of the barrel and filling me with rage all over again.

The latest target of Wal-Mart? Yep, those dastardly, underhanded, good-for-nothing troublemakers: The Girl Scouts of America.

If you haven’t heard, good ole’ Wal-Mart has decided to copy two of the Girl Scouts’ signature cookie brands, the Tagalongs and the Thin Mints, and sell them at lower prices.

And it’s a good thing, too!

Boy, those adorable little girls have been getting away with selling great cookies and raising money for FAR TOO LONG, the Arkansas boys in the back room must have figured. You’re telling me that the Samoas, Trefoils, and Do-Si-Dos really should only be used to fund activities for the Girl Scouts, an organization that does SO much good for little girls’ morale and for the community?

I tell ya, it’s a good thing Wal-Mart is here to teach those girls a lesson: Life is hard, kids, and we’re going to make your cookies and sell them cheaper and there’s nothing you can do about it! We’re Wal-Mart, dammit, and we run the world.

Just disgusting. Despicable. Awful. I could go on, but I think the facts pretty much speak for themselves. How can anyone in good conscience shop there? I often wonder. Oh yeah, their prices are way lower than everybody elses.

I call on everyone who’s ever bought or eaten a Girl Scout cookie (I think I’ve had about 5,000 Tagalongs in my life, thank you) to boycott the store until they change their new plan.

Girl Scouts of America, I’m with you! And please keep selling your great cookies, I look forward to them every year.

** Now, as to why I’m mad at the YES Network. A few months ago, my cable provider here in Central Florida told me that YES, the Yankees/Nets behemoth cable channel, was being added to my sports package. Great, I figured. I only watch a handful of Yankees games per year anymore, but there are definitely times I want to watch them.

I called the cable company at the time and asked if it would be an extra charge. Nope, they said, I already get the sports pack, so it’ll be included.

Then, she tells me, I’m not getting what I think I’m getting. Due to some bizarre contractual agreement, I’m getting the YES National network, which isn’t allowed to show live Yankees and Nets games.

“So what the hell am I getting?” I replied, knowing that Yankees and Nets games account for 98 percent of what anyone wants to watch on YES.

“You’re getting their alternate programming during the games, and you’ll get the pre and post-game shows,” the cable lady replied. “Only the people in the Tri-State area can get the regular YES Network.”

I was stunned and angry. What the hell is the point of having the network if the viewers outside the NY area can’t see the real programming?

So of course, Friday night, the  New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox played a classic game, 0-0 into the 15th inning, before Alex Rodriguez hit a two-run homer to win the game.

And I couldn’t see it. My YES Network showed all kinds of crap until the postgame show came on.

AARRRGGGGGGGGGHHHH was, I believe, my utterance over and over as the game went on.

YES Network, please explain to me why you would have a network, which you want to expose to as many people as possible, and then not show the top programming on the network to as many people as possible.

Just stupid, stupid, stupid. YES and Wal-Mart, you have incurred my wrath.

**On a slightly better note, I know many people are probably overdosed on John Hughes tributes like the one I wrote the other day, but I found one more beautiful essay that I thought you might like: This woman had a pen-pal relationship with the director for many years.

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

johnhughes

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: