Category Archives: Screen time

A resurrection story

So here’s a fun and wacky story:

Quite a while back my laptop computer died, and the computer fix-it shop said something like “Sorry, it’s dead forever” or “Sorry, it’ll cost $4,826 to fix.” I don’t remember exactly what the diagnosis was, but it was costly enough that I shelved the laptop and called it a day and eventually bought a new, pretty terrible laptop that was then stolen out of my car by brigands in Kentucky.

So anyway, last week we were doing some decluttering and there was the old, dead laptop. A new computer fix-it shop had opened near our house since the original laptop death, and I thought “Hey, maybe they’ll give me a different fix-it price.” So I took it over there and dropped it off, and a few days ago they called and said, “Uh, yeah, it just needs a new battery and some memory. It’ll be way less than $4,826. Should we fix it?

“Uh, yeah,” I said. “Please do.”

And so now I’m typing this to you from the blogger’s natural habitat: The couch. (From which I’m also watching the best episode of “Gravity Falls,” the Dungeons & Dragons episode titled “Dungeons, Dungeons and More Dungeons” with Poppy. #GiggleTimeBouncyBoots)

Welcome back, slow old laptop. You’re still old, but you’re functional and a little less slow.

What’s going to happen in season three of “Stranger Things”?

We just finished watching “Stranger Things 2” with Poppy last night. She was thoroughly invested and love the show, and when it was over she had one question: “What are they going to do next season?” And Rockford, of course, had an answer, because he’s a pop culture junkie. Here’s what he thinks is going to happen in “Stranger Things 3.”

So, I think they’ll use ‘Back to the Future’ and ‘The Goonies’ and potentially ‘Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome’ as influences, because those were all top movies in 1985. ‘Back to the Future’ from a characterization standpoint seems to fit the Steve model. Marty McFly is well-intentioned but kind of clueless. So maybe Steve has a story arc that involves some time travel or just where he meets a crazy old guy. Since he’ll be going off to college, that would seem like a natural way to introduce a wacky professor — his own Mr. Clark, maybe. If there are two movies from the ’80s that best describe this crew, it’s ‘Explorers’ and ‘The Goonies.’ Both of those movies came out in 1985, so we should see more clear connections and references to those. And then with Mad Max, we’ve already had the scene where Max was driving the muscle car. If they continue with that thematically, it may be that she has to go through some tests and rigors of her own to lead them through some challenge.”

Did Steve get his college essay turned in on time? Will third-season Steve be even more lovable than second-season Steve? Stay tuned!
The video games that will probably be the most influential will be Super Mario Bros, Ghosts and Goblins and Gauntlet, which is more of a D&D style. Those were all popular in 1985, and they all seem to fit the dynamic. We could see more subterranean stuff with the pipes and the sewers. ‘Gauntlet’ is a fantasy-themed quest-style game that involves mages and warriors and warrior princesses, so it seems like something they would enjoy. And ‘Ghosts and Goblins’ just seems to fit the overall theme of questing through different areas infested by monsters. It would seem to fit the Upside-Down.

I think we can also expect to hear a soundtrack featuring some Tears For Fears, some Jesus and Mary Chain, Talking Heads, probably some New Order. Given Jonathan’s propensity for ‘edgier’ music, that was also when Sonic Youth was just releasing their first albums. Maybe some Simple Minds.

And then there’s the overarching ‘Breakfast Club,’ which was also 1985. We’ve already had a John Hughes movie referenced (“Mr. Mom,” who ended up being Steve). And now we’ve got ‘The Breakfast Club.’ You’ve got Steve as The Jock, Jonathan as The Nerd, Nancy as The Princess, and Billy as The Criminal, which suggests that they might introduce a new teen character to fill the role of the Basket Case. Maybe they’ll bring in Kali for that, but my guess is we’ll get a new female character to play off of Billy or a new love interest for Steve. If you remember, The Jock and The Basketcase did end up together in ‘The Breakfast Club.’

We also saw Paul Reiser (who was in the ‘Alien’ movies) and Sean Astin (‘Goonies,’ obviously) this season. Maybe we can look forward to Ally Sheedy, Emilio Estevez or Michael J. Fox next season?

While I’d love to see just a straight-up remake of “Back to the Future” with Joe Keery, I think it’s more likely that we’ll just see Steve in a puffy orange vest than actually heading back to the ’60s. I think Rockford’s “Breakfast Club” casting connection has some potential, though. What do you expect from season three?

Six movies to watch while digesting your Thanksgiving feast

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. There isn’t the pressure to give presents or receive presents or even really to do any decorating. The weather is usually pretty great, and there isn’t really much to it beyond eating delicious foods, which gives families the opportunity to fill the day with their own traditions. Screenwriters don’t seem to see Thanksgiving in such a rosy light, though. It’s often used as a backdrop to extreme familial angst or epically awful road trips or both. You don’t often have your entire extended family hanging out in the dining room, and I guess the temptation to make the occasion wrought with attention is just too great to resist. On the bright side, that means there are a number of movies set around Thanksgiving.

I sprung the following Thanksgiving titles on Rockford yesterday as we drove. Here’s what he thought:

Rocky (1976)

“You want the bird? Go in the alley and eat the bird.”

rockyRockford says: “The little movie that could! This was a low-budget film that really took us all by storm. I first saw ‘Rocky’ when I was 6 years old. ‘Rocky’ I and II were some of the movies that stand out the most from when I was that young. What I remember about ‘Rocky’ was, it was the first movie I saw where you had a protaganist that came from such a difficult and/or meager existance. It was also one of the first movies that I remember seeing where the protagonist mirrors where he’s from so much. Rocky is Philadelphia and Philadelphia is Rocky. Where else is there a statue of a movie character? ‘Rocky’ is gettig up before the dawn, slogging to work, and doing everything you can to suport the ones you love. You just keep putting one foot in front of the other while also trying to better yourself.”

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)

“Those aren’t pillows.”

planesRockford says: “This is a movie that I did not fully appreciate until I entered the world of business travel. This was one of the first movies to — in a fun but real way — point at the new business-travel culture that was emerging in the 1980s and the problems that came with it. The fact that we’re always in some kind of vehicle and what happens when all of those modes of trasnportation for whatever reason completely crap out. That aside, it’s a very well-done buddy comedy that features two of the best comedians of their era opposite one another. Without giving anything away, it also has a very poignant twist. It’s a movie about getting home to be with the people that you love.”

Grumpy Old Men (1993)



grumpyoldmenRockford says: “Oh, is that Thanksgiving? I guess it is Thanksgiving.

It’s a story about frenemies. It’s built on the idea that the people we know the best are oftentimes our friends and our mortal enemies. What makes ‘Grumpy Old Men’ successful for almost all viewers is the universals of parent-child and friend-to-friend relationships. It’s fun watching Burgess Meredith tell Jack Lemmon to stop acting like a putz. These guys are still acting like children, because to each other that’s how they still are.”

Addams Family Values (1993)

“You sent us to camp. They made us sing.”

addamsfamilyvaluesRockford says: “This is a Thanksgiving movie? Really??

I know you like the pinball game, but I don’t remember the movie. I remember going to see it on a date with you. It has the honor of being our second-date movie. That’s all I really have to say about that.”

Nobody’s Fool (1994)

“Mr. Sullivan, you’re wearing a necktie. Are you in trouble with the law again?”

nobodysfoodRockford says: “Boy I haven’t seen that in a long time. Up until ‘Nobody’s Fool’ I wasn’t really a fan of realism in film. I could appreciate it, but didn’t really enjoy it. Here’s a tale of a broken and bitter man who lives by his own set of rules that have developed through years of disappointment, discouragement and failure, and this is a brief glimpse into his life complete with the bad stuff and the good stuff.”

Pieces of April (2003)

“I’m the first pancake.”

piecesRockford says: “Yeah, family is hard. This is another example of kind of, family warts and all. It’s the anti-John Hughes experience. The holidays brought to you by every painful holiday you’ve experienced. You have the peace-keeping father, who placates his daughter; a caustic mother-daughter relationsship; and it all kind of comes to a head around the Thanksgiving dinner table. The beauty of this film is that is shows what family is — taking these gritty, not-so-great pieces of each other and accepting them and wrapping your arms around it. It’s seeing love and kindness in places where you might not expect it.”

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope your tryptophan haze is brief but delightful.