Monday, January 10, 2011

Read Stuff, You Should

Recommended reading in the aftermath of the terrible event in Tucson.

1.  On the question of rhetoric and the atmosphere it creates, I highly recommend Conor Friedersdorf's post, "Tone Versus Substance."

2.  For an introduction to social science findings on related questions, John Sides has a good post over at the Monkey Cage.  While you're over there, see Henry Farrell show how to disentangle causal relationships; see also Brendon Nyhan's similar points.

3.  Don't miss Jonathan Cohn on public policy and mental illness.

I think that's enough.  Regular readers will know that I was born and raised in Phoenix, and I'm certainly as embarrassed as I've ever been to be an Arizonan.  So I'll end with something more positive: as far as I'm aware, the most fun movie ever set in Tuscon is one of the great 1980s teen pictures, the excellently enjoyable "Can't Buy Me Love," featuring Patrick "Lawn Boy" Dempsey long before his second round of fame.   Really, if I have to debate anything right now, I'd much rather it be the relative merits of John Hughes vs. non-John Hughes 1980s teen movies (my position?  My top ten of 1980s teen movies would have exactly zero John Hughes efforts.  Feel free to rip me to shreds in comments; this is the kind of fighting words that feel appropriate right now, at least to me).


  1. Teen movies of the 80s?? In the 80s I was having a kid and buying my 1st house in the 'burbs. (A few blocks off the street where American Graffiti did the cruisin' scenes.) So if you were a teen in the 80s, then I owe you a long overdue "Hey Brat - get off my lawn!".

  2. I wasn't a teen in the 80s (except at the very beginning), but I certainly do think of 1980s teen movies as a genre of its own, and therefore worthy of its own top ten lists. Even if none of them were even close to as good as Graffiti. Not even Savage Steve Holland's movies.

  3. While I find the omission of Ferris Bueller's Day Off appalling, I guess a Hughes-less top ten is conceivable.

    *Can't Buy Me Love (1987)

    Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
    Revenge of the Nerds (1984)
    The Karate Kid (1984)
    Real Genius (1985)
    Weird Science (1985)
    Teen Wolf (1985)
    My Science Project (1985)
    Back to the Future (1985)
    One Crazy Summer (1986)
    Lost Boys (1987)

  4. !! "Say Anything..." is by far the best teen movie of the '80s. (Not sure whether it came out in 1989 or 1990 and don't care.) Cameron Crowe's never done anything as good and I'm pretty sure no one else involved has either -- though Ione Skye is pretty copacetic as Ann/Bland/Plain/Egg's mother on "Arrested Development" -- but John Cusack, Lili Taylor, the dad from "Frasier," et al. have never been so lucky before or since. Bebe Neuwirth's there for thirty seconds or so too. It's touching and funny and the characters are well-developed without being over-explained and the love story -- rocky, contingent, conflicted, intense, plausible -- harkens back to what Stanley Cavell called the "comedies of remarriage" of the '30s/early '40s and, by a miracle, even the cute little kid is not insufferable. Great, great film, of the kind people used to say "transcended its genre" in the days before they were so respectful of genre productions.

    If "Can't Buy Me Love" is the one with Seth Green as the bully baby brother, well, that's okay, too.

  5. @Jarrod Myrick, in re: "Revenge of the Nerds" specifically ... Have you rewatched that lately? I don't know, I remembered it fondly from young child, but this time around it was harder for me to appreciate a movie that revolves around its heroes' attempts to stalk, spy on, clandestinely photograph, and have non-consensual sex with women about whom they know nothing beyond appearance and sorority membership ... I mean, she does fall in love with him after the non-consensual sex, so it's not that bad, right? -- Sorry, I know you can't not like things just because they contain awful things, and we don't all draw the line in the same place and that's as it should be -- just that that's past my line.

  6. It seems to me that Say Anything, The Sure Thing, Fast Times, and all three Savage Steve Holland movies are musts for the list. (And, sorry Classicist, but The Sure Thing is better than Say Anything, at least IMO. As for Cusack...I don't know, he's been in a lot of great stuff. In addition to the four movies in this paragraph, Bullets Over Broadway is outstanding, as is Shadows & Fog, and Grosse Point was pretty good).

    The first Bill & Ted is's not really in that genre, but it's of course terrific. (For that matter, Fast Times isn't quite in the genre, either).

    Yes, Seth Green is the little brother in "Can't Buy Me Love." My own list probably has that one, and the seven above, and I'm awful fond of "Real Genius", and then I'll take Teen Wolf to close it out, but I'm sure I can be persuaded on some of the spots.

  7. Its not exactly the same genre as a 'John Hughes' teen movie, but here's a vote for "Streets of Fire", which is close to an alltime favorite (when not trying to impress the listener with how cultured I am).

    Among the conventional 80's teen comedies, I second the nod for the Savage Steve Holland films, especially One Crazy Summer, which is surprisingly good. I'll bet most of us don't think of Bobcat Goldthwait often, but when we do, its probably in reference to that movie, which was such a perfect vehicle for his shtick.

  8. @the classicist, What, you don't find Louis' (Steve Jobs') moon-room scene romantic? Weren't all Hitchcocks' male protagonists stalkers? But seriously I haven't seen it in a very long time, no idea when that might've been. And not sure it quite fits the genre anyway, even though Louis and Gilbert (Bill Gates) must've been 17 or 18.

    Also wasn't sure if Say Anything is 80s either, but if it is it is definitely at the top as my favorite Cusack and favorite Crowe. Not sure I could get Bill & Ted into the Hughes-less top ten or into the genre even, but definitely if eligible at least an Honorable Mention, along with Better Off Dead, Porky's, Secret Admirer, My Bodyguard, and License to Drive.

    Sadly I've not seen How I Got Into College, nor The Sure Thing; Streets of Fire is a blind spot as well.

    I've never seen Footloose either.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Who links to my website?