TV / Film


I am unabashedly a child of the 80s. Scour my high school yearbooks and you will find asymmetrical hair cuts, O-ring bracelets and other tell tale signs. It’s not just the clothes that might give me away or the year on my driver’s license. It might be my love for a handful of John Hughes movies that I clearly remember seeing at the theatres. I don’t mean 101 Dalmatians or Uncle Buck. While I did see those at the cinema, I mean the handful of movies that seemed to resonate with kids of my age when they were released.

Last night when I heard of his death, I realised something. It wasn’t only his films that resonated with me, it was the music… the glorious music that was tied perfectly to scenes in the films. Stop and think about a scene from your favourite Hughes film. Ferris commandeering a parade float twisting and shouting to the Beatles or Duckie tossing playing cards into a hat despondently as the Smiths play… maybe the strains of “Holiday Road” when you embark on a road trip or imagining badly dancing teens in prom gear when you hear a specific cheesy OMD song?

Whatever the scene, the music just fit perfectly. Musicians like Jesus And Mary Chain, Love And Rockets, Psychedelic Furs, Kirsty Maccoll, Kate Bush, Gene Loves Jezebel, XTC, the Smiths, EBTG, Belouis Some, Oingo Boingo, Altered Images, Flesh For Lulu, Stephen Duffy, David Bowie, the Vapors, New Order, Echo & The Bunnymen, and The Rave-Ups… are just some of the artists that appeared on a Hughes soundtrack. And I loved them all. Jolts of happy recognition when I would know a particular song. That made me feel cool and in the know, like a mix tape made to introduce someone to music they have never heard. The difference was that I had heard it and I did know it, so the films have more of a special place for me.

When I think back on some of his movies, I can’t honestly say if they had staying power throughout the decades. I know I still giggle at them but would jaded teenagers today would get the humour as much as I did in those darkened movie theatres in Houston? Or would they find the characters hackneyed and the situations trite? I don’t care either way. What I do know and care about is that the music he chose to punctuate and sometimes underscore his movies are what did reach out and grab me.

So for his infinitely quotable movies (Does Barry Manilow know you raid his wardrobe?) and music, I thank him. Thank you John for helping me formulate my musical tastes and giving me refuge from the wastelands that was 80s music.

RIP John Hughes.

And now, on with the obit written by Roger Ebert:

Few directors have left a more distinctive or influential body of work than John Hughes. The creator of the modern American teenager film, who died Thursday in New York, made a group of films that are still watched and quoted today.

Hughes, who was 59, died of a heart attack during an early-morning walk while visiting family in New York City, his publicist said. He lived all his life in the northern suburbs of Chicago, southern Wisconsin, and on a farm which he operated in Northern Illinois.

Refusing to move to Los Angeles, he once told me why he preferred to bring his young acting discoveries to Chicago to film: “I like to check them into a motel far away from their friends, keep them out of trouble, and have them focus on the work.”

The list of films Hughes directed, produced or wrote includes such enduring hits as Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Uncle Buck, Some Kind of Wonderful, Curly Sue, Mr. Mom, Home Alone, Pretty in Pink,
Weird Science, She’s Having a Baby, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Beethoven, 101 Dalmatians, and Baby’s Day Out.

His films helped establish an international notion of ordinary American teenagers, and he was as popular abroad as at home. Once when I was visiting the largest movie theater in Calcutta, I asked if “Star Wars” had been their most successful American film. No, I was told, it was “Baby’s Day Out,” a Hughes comedy about a baby wandering through a big city, which played for more than a year.

Hughes, who graduated in 1968 from Glenbrook High School in Northbrook, used the northern suburbs as the setting for many of his films, notably “Ferris Bueller” and “The Breakfast Club.” He converted the gymnasium of the former Maine North High School in Des Plaines for use as a sound stage, assigning his actors schoolrooms as dressing rooms, and corridor lockers with their own combinations.

Hughes was a star-maker for a generation. Among the actors he introduced or popularized were Matthew Broderick, Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Ally Sheedy, Judd Nelson, Macaulay Culkin and John Candy, who worked in eight Hughes films. Some of those actors, freed from their confinement under Hughes, later became famous as the Brat Pack.

He took teenagers seriously, and his films are distinctive for showing them as individuals with real hopes, ambitions, problems and behavior.

“Kids are smart enough to know that most teenage movies are just exploiting them,” he told me on the set of “The Breakfast Club.” “They’ll respond to a film about teenagers as people. [My] movies are about the beauty of just growing up. I think teenage girls are especially ready for this kind of movie, after being grossed out by all the sex and violence in most teenage movies. People forget that when you’re 16, you’re probably more serious than you’ll ever be again. You think seriously about the big questions.”

“I’m going to do all my movies here in Chicago,” he told me. “The Tribune referred to me as a ‘former Chicagoan.’ As if, to do anything, I had to leave Chicago. I never left. I worked until I was 29 at the Leo Burnett advertising agency, and then I quit to do this. This is a working city, where people go to their jobs and raise their kids and live their lives. In Hollywood, I’d be hanging around with a lot of people who don’t have to pay when they go to the movies.”

After Hughes died today, some reports referred to him as “a recluse who disappeared somewhere in Illinois.” A few years ago, a friend of mine ran into him and kidded him about having disappeared from the Hollywood radar. “I haven’t disappeared,” he said. “I’m standing right here. I’m just not in Los Angeles.”

Hughes was incredibly productive as a screenwriter. He personally directed eight films, produced 23 and wrote 37, most recently “Drillbit Taylor” (2008). Such filmmakers as Judd Apatow and Kevin Smith cite him as an influence, Smith once saying, “Basically everything I do is just a raunchy John Hughes movie.”

Hughes is survived by his wife of 39 years, Nancy, two sons and four grandchildren.

My day has been wonderfully productive thus far. After a scramble-for-the-phone-what-in-the-hell-time-is-it call from Lowe’s, I went downtown to take care of some moving business. I registered the car in my new county of residence, switched plates, and obtained new tags. I figured since I was awakened in an untimely manner, I may as well get some shit done. Officially my car is nicely legal now in the state of WA and quite glad to be through with those other plates from that foreign state. I drove around AZ with TX plates for over 2 years, I just could never be arsed to get them changed. I’m on the fence about the vanity plates. It’s not much more but I could plan that bank heist with easily remembered plates, now could I?

Returning home from my downtown adventure in licensing, I took one of those random shots from behind the wheel. To be honest, I should probably stop doing that sort of thing while I’m driving because I’d hate to end up in Lake Union or something just because I needed to get that elusively cool picture. Anyway, it’s an older Pepsi neon sign that looks groovy at night all lit up and retro. I should research to see how old it is …

I just noticed that as I was posting this blog, I didn’t photo-fix the glass reflection. Oh well, I’ll leave it as the wabi of the shot. At a stoplight beside the Evergreen-Washelli cemetery that I visited last week, I looked over and snapped this photo of a local bus stop. Each one that I’ve seen has had different artwork and I love the etched glass with metalwork of the waves above. I wish the one by our home was nicer thematically but I won’t complain, it makes a good marker for people coming to the house for the first time. On my way home, I decided to stop at one of our local greengrocers to see what they had for sale. Their produce was invitingly fresh and not overly waxed. I have to stop by now and again to see what they have more often because their hothouse tomatoes and cucumbers were absolutely gorgeous! I need to pick up some feta and then I can make a really good salad with the red onions, Romaine, and kalamatas at home. Oh yeah, there’s also a small container of fresh blueberries that I’m looking forward to enjoying as well in the morning, if they last that long!

My last stop was for something cool to drink and I decided to check out this place, not far from home. I learned it was really simple. You drive up and turn on your headlights for service. A waitress will come out to take your order, you can eat it there or take it away and you pay her when she brings your food. It’s like an old school drive-in burger joint (like Sonic) but with much better food, I’ve read. Maybe we’ll check out the burgers or their onion rings, they’re known for both. The waitress who brought me my soda was from Texas and we chatted for about five minutes about Seattle versus the Gulf Coast. It was nice to talk to someone who understood why WA = 🙂 and TX = 😦 … oh yeah, here’s a shot of their menu. The burgers smelled good as I sat there talking to her so maybe we might check that out the next time we crave cow. Invigorated by my blackberry lemonade, I decided to make one more pit stop before heading home. My car, nicely dusty from the weather, sorely needed a bath. I decided on this place because their mascot is too cute.

In Houston, we washed our car once at a place called “Weasel Wash” … don’t ask me why anyone would want to name their car wash that but I guess if one had a dirty weasel. The alliteration works and the jokes are plenty but still, an odd moniker.

I’m back home now enjoying some freshly made guacamole (thanks Top Banana for the produce)! I forgot to swing by Central to get some feta so chips + guacamole seemed more like the order of the afternoon when I saw all the Hispanic-themed displays on the drive home. It’s the first time I’ve not lived in a border state to Mexico on Cinco de Mayo … it’s not such a big deal here. Maybe it is, but not so far as I can see …

Anyway, I’m waiting for the arborist to come by to assess our trees. I’m watching one of my favourite old movies from the 40s while I wait: Gilda. It’s such a fantastic slice of film-noir that I highly recommend it if you’ve never seen it. The sexual heat between Ford and Hayworth crackles and she was never lovelier than in this movie. I read a trivia bit that she slapped him so hard in one of their scenes together that she broke one of his teeth. Because they were far more hardcore back then, he kept the scene going and did not cut. Crazy, eh? I really liked Hayworth in The Lady from Shanghai but I’m a sucker for Welles in anything. I can sit and watch movies like these for hours and hours, taking breaks only to stretch and refuel! It’s such a comforting feeling that I can’t explain … I just like it.

My library is right down the street. I learned when getting my new card that one can check out up to 100 titles at a time! I can gorge on classic cinema and use our Netflix slots for more modern offerings! Now how sweet is that?!? Side note here, my grandfather on my father’s side was a dead ringer for Glenn Ford even as he aged. My father’s uncle (would that make him my great-uncle? anyway), looked like Spencer Tracy right down to the way he wore his hair. They just don’t make people like that anymore, you know? I’m being distracted by Ford and Macready’s conversation! So I think I’ll leave you with some pictures and get back to my film …

I googled and found an absolutely amazing site on Rita Hayworth from which I shamefully borrowed the photos below …

“Disaster to the wench who did wrong by our Johnny.”

Classic.

Seeya on the flip side 😉
– GermanCityGirl who is hoping for a friendly yet knowledgeable arborist who is honest to boot …

Currently watching: Gilda.

Meal: Guacamole made with garlic silvers, red onion, hothouse tomatoes, + plenty of lime for kick … enjoyed with baked organic chips.

We have hit a wall in the unpacking.

As in not doing any at all today or yesterday.

I have instead enjoyed taking the brief sojourn down to the Library and availing myself of their DVD library. Today I chose eight titles:

2 Poirot titles – Death on the Nile and Dumb Witness, The Forsyte Saga, Series I, Gilda, The Lost Weekend, Small Time Crooks, Mr. Skeffington, and Of Human Bondage.

I’ve finished the two Poirots and am about to start on Small Time Crooks. I think part of my supreme laziness has been because the world situation with oil and avian flu and Ahmadinejad and the whole immigration issue has just made me want to turn into a fucking ostrich for a few days instead of the current events diva that I usually am. I just wanted to order delivery food and watch DVDs til I could not do so any more.

For the first time in my life, I don’t live in a state that borders Mexico so I can’t tell you if the boycott made a difference here in Seattle. But images like this:

make you realise that it’s not just something that is easy to solve or can be changed overnight. I’m dealing with conflict on the whole immigration issue and had a really long talk with my mum earlier on the subject.

My mother’s family left post-Marcos Philippines to have a better life in America. The degreed relatives re-qualified in their fields and began to assimilate into the American culture. The ones with less education did jobs that no one else wanted to do because they knew they could get work as a chicken fryer at Church’s or as a janitor at Wal-Mart because they’d be willing to work for less just to get a foot in the door. They did what they had to do and learned English quickly because there was no bilingual education for Tagalog-speakers …

It was hard for my cousins who came here in the 90s. The eldest was a girl with her five brothers and like most immigrants, arrived with the promise of a better life. Anything other than what they left behind. The boys were given no choice but to hit the pavement running, learn English as fast as they could … because schoolwork were not included in their native tongue. The last time I saw them all over the holidays, I marveled at their assimilation, speaking several languages in addition to English and Tagalog.

Do I feel that English should be mandatory? Do I feel that there should be registering? Do I think that our borders should be locked down or that there should be more stringent entry requirements? I have no idea because I’m still mulling it all over …

On one of the boards I frequent, one of the members went off on a rant about Mexicans but “stopping before he says something he’ll regret” … but not before he launched into a non-thinly veiled diatribe about immigrants. It really rubbed me the wrong way … you know like when someone says “I like him, he’s pretty cool for a gay guy.” or “she’s not bad for a black girl.” What the fuck kind of mixed signal bullshit is that statement? If you are going to be a racist, just come right out and say it … don’t try to wrap it all up like you have a black friend and a gay friend AND and an insert nationality here friend. People like that also like to wrap their arguments up in the American flag (or Bible) and whinge about this and that. This country was built on the backs of immigrants who did the jobs that no one else wanted to do. The Chinese and the railroads in the West or the Irish manual labourers in the East, not to mention the countless illegals who pick our food, mow lawns or …

you know what? Fuck it. I did not mean to rant disjointedly all over the page here and quite frankly sitting in this position makes my back hurt and it’s utter crap for typing. I don’t know how I feel but I know that my perceptions and views are coloured by the fact that I myself am a first generation American, with a mother who was educated and literate. She was the one who taught me how to read before I went to school and the one who quizzed me on spelling words so I could win bees and become the Spelling Nazi I am today. Because of the emphasis my parents and grandparents placed on education and learning, they’ve turned me into the literate bitch I am today.

However that may be, this literate bitch that has opted to pause her ravings and return to her Woody Allen film now.

Seeya on the flip side 😉
– GermanCityGirl who will blog again when she’s in a better frame of mind which in this place, will undoubtedly be soon.

Ciao for now kiddies and sorry for the surly.

Currently watching some Woody Allen and deciding if some hot tea + flan might make me less grumpy :P.

So I was reading one of my friends’ blogs on their site and they did a survey that had some question about celebrity crushes and it got me to thinkin’ who I have a celebrity crush on …

Oh yes, my dearies. There’s a list, to be sure. It’s not a long one, but it exists …

Anyway, to confess one of my crushes. I am the smitten with Stephen Colbert.

He’s intelligent + humourous + quick of wit! He’s sarcastic and a major geek!

It wasn’t so hard … I said it and have thusly blogged it for all to see and know!

Now I can fall asleep feeling loads better that is out in the universe. Enjoy an 80s song that deserves to be a classic.

Sleep well, my pretties …
(and always remember my mind is kissing you)

Seeya on the flip side 😉
– GermanCityGirlNotCharlene

p.s. In attempting to link this blog to someone, I saw that the videos of our emperor with no clothes had been pulled for copyright infringement …

I wanted to remedy that. And yes, thank you Stephen Colbert.

Currently listening: The Tigers Have Spoken by Neko Case

Meal: Still full from grilled chicken + green onion + chow mein noodle salad with miso sesame dressing.

Today was a hugely productive day. GC managed to get everything media-related packed away in nicely labeled and taped boxes. I don’t envy our movers one iota to have to schlep this stuff down our flights of stairs … I can’t bloody WAIT to not have to deal with them at the new place. Boxes, I mean. I don’t have a bias against movers.

I’ve booked nearly everything for the day of travel now, even the cat has his own confirmation number for our one-way flight. You know, it has just dawned on that I don’t think I’ve ever taken a one-way flight anywhere … it’s really hitting home that we’re moving soon! Dare I say whee? It’s slowly sinking in that a new chapter in our lives is about to begin and it’s not a temporary one or one we’ve settled on. We chose the city, chose the house, and have chosen to be where we love. It’s damned exciting, let me tell you.

So after my hours of frazzling telephoning, the monkey made dinner and we feasted on pasta with spicy marinara and a nicely antipasto-esque salad, accompanied by some Boylan’s Ginger Ale because life’s too short for Coke and Pepsi. Blech.

We watched an amazing film called “Everything is Illuminated” directed by Liev Schrieber, starring Elijah Wood and Eugene Hutz (lead singer of a punk fusion Russian gypsy band called Gogol Bordello) – and was touched by its imagery, hilarity and poignancy. The film is about a Jewish-American young man who travels to Odessa to try to find the woman who helped save his grandfather from the Nazi invasion during WWII. He has spent most of his life collecting mementos from his family members and when his grandmother cryptically gives him a photograph of his grandfather and the Ukrainian woman, his journey begins. He meets Alex (Hutz), his translator, Alex’s blind grandfather who is to be their guide and driver and Sammy Davis Jr. Jr. – a joke that I don’t want to ruin if you’ve not seen it. The movie has some genuine laugh aloud moments with Alex’s English translations and is achingly affecting in others. It starts off in with silliness but then manages to end in reflection and beauty … the path taken by three men is well worth the ride along.

Time for sleep, methinks … another day of packing tape and boxes await in about 10 hours. I think I can manage nicely til then …

Be illuminated and I’ll see you on the flip side …
– GermanCityGirl

Currently watching: Everything Is Illuminated.

Meal: Pasta + salad, made with love by one tired monkey.

Well, we are taking a short break from bingeing on DVD telly! We are in the felicitous process of digesting discs 3 and 4 of Veronica Mars Season One and whoo! I am hooked on these characters. I wanted to take a moment to check e-mail and I thought since I not updated in a few days, I would do so by singing the praises of this little show and its band of quirky characters.

Like, Lost: Season One, we have avoided spoilers like the clichéd plague so we have been batting around the theories about who did what to whom and so on …

Thus far in media res, our theories are that:

1. Duncan and Veronica are not related, it was just something that mum told him to break it off with her … now as far as why? Maybe it was jealousy over the former relationship between Jake and Lianne or maybe it is just wanting someone of similar status for her son.

2. Weevil did not have anything to do with Lily’s death – he simply was a fling who may or may not have been loved by her. Confrontation to finally ensue between Logan and Weevil though … maybe leading to something else bigger?

3. The Kane parents might not have had anything to do directly with Lily’s death but they sure like hell covered it up. I personally think they have told the son that he did it and they are protecting him to keep him on a short leash but hey, that’s just me thinking those people are a pair of twisted sisters.

4. Veronica was sexually assaulted by … okay, this one not so concrete yet and still working through the usual suspects.

5. Logan and Veronica – short-lived at best, I think. The fates seem to be pushing Veronica and Duncan back towards each other, again why I think they are not related.

6. Alicia and Keith – interesting pairing though we could see it coming. I don’t know how it will play out if Lianne returns to Neptune. Will Keith leave Alicia in favour of making it work with the wife? I’d be surprised if he did because he does not seem to be holding a torch for her but then again, I have been wrong before.

7. I will have to write more later, I am being summoned back to the sofa for more Neptune soap opera goodness.

See you on the flip side 😉
– GermanCityGirl

Addendum: Despite myself, I am indeed crushing on Logan. I know the character is phenomenally pricktastic at times but I can’t help myself … I’m smitten with that smug mug!

Currently watching: Veronica Mars Season One.

Meal: Popcorn with nutritional yeast flakes + a light dusting of sea salt + a Blue Sky Cola with crushed ice.

Wow. Tonight has been a binge session of DVD goodness. We began with Disc Two of BSG Season One, followed with Disc Two of Veronica Mars Season One, and whilst I type away, I have The Odd Couple playing in the background on the Mac. I have watched much tonight and it has been great!

My sleep is so completely screwy because of maintenance calls, our water delivery, and random inability to get back to bed. The weather is slowly becoming pleasant and I need to shift into a normal schedule so I don’t miss the niceness. The weather here is mostly unbearable save a few months in the winter/spring … so best not to miss it, eh?

On that note, I think I will sit on the balcony with the cat so we can enjoy the coolness of the morning breeze … the house is silent so I will read a book and hope to get sleepy once again. You’d think after watching so much media, my eyes would be really knackered but it seems my mind is racing with the whole “what-will-happen-next” for the shows we are viewing.

See you on the flip side 😉
– GermanCityGirl

Currently watching: The Odd Couple.

Beverage: Chamomile tea with some honey + ginger-man cookies with rock sugared fronts.

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