There are lots of things that I enjoy doing: playing golf; spending time with friends and family; eating at Taco Bueno; these are just a few. But I’ve come to the realization that there are few things I enjoy doing more than watching and re-watching movies from my past, movies that seem to get better and better each time I watch them. I consider myself a seasoned veteran of watching the TBS, TNT, and USA version of movies like Shawshank Redemption and Lord of the Rings: Two Towers. In fact, I could probably tell you exactly when to expect commercials if you were to ever decide to watch Independence Day on TBS (right after President Whitmore [Bill Pullman] ask Major Mitchell [Adam Baldwin], “Is that glass bulletproof?” and the Major proceeds to kill the alien at Area 51). I love watching syndicated movies. Old School is on FX next Tuesday at 7:15? Count me in. Wait, ABC Family is showing all eight Harry Potter movies back-to-back this weekend? Consider my DVR full. I can’t get enough.
Earlier this week I had one of my favorite re-watching experiences when AMC had a “Story Notes” version of the 1984 classic, The Karate Kid. [By the way, if you’ve never watched a “Story Notes” version of a movie on AMC, I highly recommend it. Great stuff.] Man, I had definitely forgotten how great The Karate Kid is. And I don’t mean “great” in the same sense as I do when I say “Pauly Shore was great in Son-In-Law,” or “Fabrizio’s ridiculous Italian accent in Titanic is great!” In reference to The Karate Kid, by “great” I actually mean that the movie is fantastic. I loved it. I don’t think I’d given the movie enough credit in the past. The characters are great. The story is great. And the perfect mix of 80s cheesiness and dramatic sincerity is great. The perfection of the chemistry between Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita has been talked about before, and I can’t imagine a better goosebumps-inspiring ending to a movie. But I found other things that really made the movie for me:
1) The scene of Daniel (Macchio) and Ali’s (Elisabeth Shue) first date. Since he doesn’t have a car, Daniel has no choice but to get his mom to drive him to Ali’s house to pick her up. The awkwardness of Daniel’s encounter with Ali’s parents is good enough on its own to make the scene a classic, but when Daniel and his mom have to get out and push their car while Ali waits to pop the clutch to get it to start is one of the better movie moments I’ve seen in a long time.
2) This guy:
My brother and I have referenced this character many, many times, mostly for his ridiculously over-the-top depiction of the over-zealous cronie of the main antagonist. The character’s name is Tommy, and he’s a member of the Cobra Kai karate team, Daniel’s main enemies in the movie. Tommy doesn’t have much of a role, but his depiction stands out from the rest of the Cobra Kai jerks during the final fight scene. He’s the one standing next to the Cobra Kai sensei during the fight, and all he does is make ridiculous faces (like the one in the picture above) and say things like, “Finish him Johnny!” and “Get him a body bag!” I could rewind and rewatch this guy multiple times and never get tired of the ridiculousness.
3) The depiction of the experience of a high school kid in the 80s. I love the clothes; I love the social drama; and I love the scenes at the local hotspot: the putt-putt and arcade hall. Greatness.
Not all 80s movies hold up for me, and many of them aren’t nearly as good when I watch them the second time. But The Karate Kid is definitely an exception. I recommend it highly.
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Last weekend I joined my family for a trip to Ruidoso, NM. We made a long weekend of it, and I have to say that I really enjoyed the town. I’ve spent ample time in many ski towns in both Colorado and New Mexico, and I think that Ruidoso might be my new favorite. I can’t speak about going there to actually ski–in fact, I would probably say that it’s not even close to the best place to go for a ski trip–but for a summer trip involving good food and plenty of activities, it’s perfect. My recommendations:
1) Go to the horse races at Ruidoso Downs. I had a blast. Where else can you make $1 and $2 bets on horses you’ve never heard of while eating low-quality nachos and french fries in a cloud of low-grade cigarette smoke, all while actually having a great time? It’s like going to a trashy bowling alley that lets you gamble. Perfect.
2) If you are going to play golf but don’t want to spend tons of money, play The Links at Sierra Blanca. I loved this course. It was in perfect condition–the greens were some of the best I’ve ever putted on–and it only cost us $49 plus tax on a Friday. It helps that I played some of the best golf of my life, but I still would have loved it even if I hadn’t.
3) And, of course, eat a bunch of local food. My two favorites from the trip: Lincoln County Grille, a small, crowded, greasy breakfast spot that had large portions and was heavy on the good stuff (butter, cheese, and grease); and Farley’s, a seemingly normal-to-average American restaurant that turned out to have fantastic food. I simply got the turkey sandwich, and they somehow found a way to turn turkey, cheese, and bread into something unique and memorable.
If you want a hardcore skiing weekend, don’t go to Ruidoso. If you want a place that’s a shorter drive than Colorado (at least from central Texas) to play golf, eat good food, and have plenty of stuff to do for reasonable prices, go to Ruidoso.
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A quick rundown of books I’ve read recently:
A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers (2012): I’ve always been a big Eggers fan, and I’ll continue to read whatever he puts out. This one was a quick read, which I appreciated. And I found myself liking it. It’s a pretty simple story, and it’s quintessential Eggers in that below his simplicity he has some rather deep points about our culture and our world. Hologram for the King has something to say about what’s going on in our economic and industrial world right now, and I think that it’s something worth hearing. It doesn’t hurt that it’s being made into a movie with Tom Hanks, either.
Your Fathers, Where are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever? also by Dave Eggers (2014): I didn’t even know that Eggers had put out a new novel until I randomly saw this one on shelf at Barnes and Noble. How he managed to put out three novels in the past three years is beyond me; nevertheless, this most recent one is without a doubt the most unique book Eggers has ever written. The entire thing is dialogue; this alone makes it worth talking about. I’m still not quite sure what I think about it, but I do know that I’ve since planned a dissertation chapter on books consisting entirely of dialogue (Roth’s Deception is another example). Your Fathers, Where are They? is another very quick read, and I recommend it for anyone looking for something outside of the normal book.
The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta (2011): I picked up this book because I watched the first episode of HBO’s adaptation and decided that I would much rather read the story first before I watched the (seemingly) confusing adaptation. I really liked Little Children (the book and the movie), and I appreciate the clarity and humor of Perrotta’s style. He is an enjoyable author to read, and his prose doesn’t require the same density of other author’s in order to make very important commentary. The Leftovers is strange in many ways; I was reminded a lot of some of Jose Saramago’s books like Blindness and The Double in that Perrotta’s book, like Saramago’s, is a rather “normal” depiction of the world after an undoubtedly abnormal occurrence. I think that Perrotta could have done a lot more with many of the characters, as some of them seemed a bit flat to me. But there’s enough in there to make it worth it, not the least of which is Perrotta’s signature voice of candid depictions of the “normal” human being, complete with all sorts of perverted and crazy thoughts that go hand-in-hand with humanity.