Tuesday, March 25, 2008

John Hughes; Letters

From time to time I wonder whatever DID happen to John Hughes...

Whatever Happened To John Hughes?
LA Times | Patrick Goldstein | March 25, 2008 08:30 AM

JOHN HUGHES hasn't set foot in Hollywood for years, but his influence has never been more potent. The king of 1980s comedy, Hughes now qualifies as something of a Howard Hughes-style recluse -- he doesn't have an agent, doesn't give interviews and lives far away, somewhere in Chicago's sprawling North Shore suburbs where most of his films were set.

But he has an entire generation of fans in the industry who grew up infatuated with his films, especially a string of soulful mid-1980s teen comedies that helped capture the eternal drama of modern teenage existence. They include "Sixteen Candles," "Pretty in Pink," "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and "The Breakfast Club," which no less an authority than Courtney Love once called "the defining moment of the alternative generation." Any number of successful actors and filmmakers, from Judd Apatow and Kevin Smith to Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller and Wes Anderson, are fans, having soaked up Hughes' keen observational humor, love of mischief and shrewd dissection of social hierarchies.

"John Hughes wrote some of the great outsider characters of all time," says Apatow, the writer-director-producer whose new film, "Drillbit Taylor," is loosely based on an old Hughes story idea. "It's pretty ridiculous to hear people talk about the movies we've been doing, with outrageous humor and sweetness all combined, as if they were an original idea. I mean, it was all there first in John Hughes' films. Whether it's 'Freaks and Geeks' or 'Superbad,' the whole idea of having outsiders as the lead characters, that all started with Hughes."

Hollywood is full of older masters who've been mentors to younger acolytes. But Hughes, 58, is the only one who's disappeared without a trace; he quit directing in 1991, moved back to Chicago in 1995 and has basically stayed out of sight ever since.

for the rest


Dear Mr. Gorman,

Thank you for sharing your enthousiasm for mystery writer Margaret Millar on your blog. I discovered this highly original author some years ago and since then I have been searching for her novels. I admire Millar not only for her dazzling plots but also for her very economic style of writing, her lively and real dialogue and the way she creates atmosphere: from the first to the last page you have the feeling something very uncomfortable is lurking somewhere in the background and there is an unseen plot working between the lines of her stories. Her work stands firmly on its own feet and it always irritates me that she is mostly only mentioned as Ross Macdonald's spouse. She deserves better than to be a foot note to Macdonald.

I also do not understand why the books of Millar don't have a greater reading public, when I discuss crime literature with fellow readers I always recomend Millar but since so few people have heard of her, my efforts are mostly in vain. Still, I keep trying, perhaps the fact that you have to look for her books between the paperbacks dating from the 1950s and 60 in second hand bookstores (at least here in The Netherlands), doesn't help to increase her popularity.

Well, for me she is the real thing, her work gets better with a second or even third reading. There are still some of Millar's books I haven't read (difficult to find) but I know I will eventually get them and I also know I will not be disapointed.

Kind regards,

Mr. Peter Eykelenkamp
The Hague / The Netherlands

Hi Ed,
I know i begged you years ago for more Sam McCain books. Will you be
doing another soon? I have read them darn things at least 6 times each
and of course I am now begging for more.
Thank you for the ones you have written,

Doug Trombley

Ed here: There'll be one published in 09. It's yet to be written. Thanks for your loyalty to the series. I really appreciate it.


Your recent comments about Moorcock and Clarke were interesting because
I rarely read new SF, and so the old hands from the '60s and before --
Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, Moorcock (liked his WARLORD OF THE AIR
pastiches, not so fond of his New Worlds stuff), Brackett, Dick, Laumer,
Farmer, Harrison, Anderson -- are the ones I mostly remember, along with
a lingering fondness for the even older names -- Burroughs, Verne,
Wells, Stapledon, O.A. Kline. Other than Ben Bova, Jerry Pournelle,
and Joe Haldeman, I can't think of any SF writers who hit their stride
after 1970 whom I've sampled to any extent.

I don't feel qualified to knock modern SF because I've read so little of
it, aside from sporadically keeping up with the familiar names (I read
and liked Haldeman's latest novels), but the plain fact of the matter
is, it doesn't generally grab me. I don't have enough interest in the
Luke Skywalker mythos (or in further lining George Lucas' pockets) to
pick up the endless STAR WARS novelizations and spin-offs. Gung-ho
military space operas don't appeal to me as a rule any more than
military thrillers do. The stuff that seems to have higher-brow appeal,
China Mieville and the like, leaves me shaking my head when I flip
through the pages; whatever wavelength it's on, it doesn't compel me to
invest any time or money.

Same in regard to fantasy. How many female vampire hunters can the
market carry? How many books can Mercedes Lackey write?

Makes me wonder -- am I simply getting old, and I'm not the generation
these guys are writing for? Has the market itself changed so much? Are
there books that I would like as much as the ones I liked at age 16 or
18 if I just looked harder? Would I like the books about vampire hunter
chicks if I gave them a chance?

I'm encouraged that some of the older stuff gets reprinted occasionally,
but I suspect that it will be the last go-round for the
second-tier-sales guys like Laumer, who, however good, lack the brand
name of a Heinlein or Bradbury.


Ed here: There's a lot of good stuff being published today, including some of the takes on vampirism. I read in just about every sub-genre of sf and fantasy but my "sense of wonder" days are long behind me I'm afraid. Nothing will ever match the thrill of first reading Bradbury or Matheson or Heinlien or Asimov or Clark. What's the cliche--the golden age of science fiction is thirteen? I think that's probably true.


Martin Edwards said...

Ed, I share your enthusiasm for Margaret Millar. She was outstanding. I was fascinated by the way the message in A Stranger in My Grave was delivered, and I was therefore prompted to put my own spin on it in Yesterday's Papers, which was probably the most successful of all my Harry Devlin books.

Anonymous said...


Didn't Stark House reissue a couple of her novels? I remember reading them last year, but it could've been a different pub. I was very impressed with her writing.

Ed Lynskey

Todd Mason said...

John Hughes was already a big deal among my 9th-Grade peers, before he ever got to do anything in film, for his NATIONAL LAMPOON writing, most notably "My Vagina" (wherein a teen boy awakens one morning with the Wrong genitalia, and what befalls him).

What I noted about his films, versus those of his less commercially-successful peers (see HEATHERS, RIVER'S EDGE, or PUMP UP THE VOLUME), is that his were all about how the outsiders always wanted to be just like the Popular Kids, but just couldn't, till the PK help them to do so, while admitting their own, the PK's, insecurities and unmet desires. So, everyone is reassured that mediocrity is what we should strive for. And, certainly, few films are more enervatingly mediocre than PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES.