Almost 80 Best Movies of the 80’s

Rolling Stone just put out a post of the 100 best movies of the 1980’s- and there are a lot of obscure movies that as a teenager/college student during the 80’s I never heard of. As a child of divorced parents, I spent a ridiculous amount of time at the movies on weekends. Then as a teenager and young adult, I spent plenty of time at the movies with friends, dates, and eventually the fantastic guy who ended up being my husband.

So I am here with my nostalgia hat on to put together my list of Gen X’s version of the Greatest Movies of the 80’s – the movies we shared, movies that helped us decide what growing up was all about, and more. In retrospect, some of the movies have what were commonplace attitudes about the relationship between men and women at the time, but are clearly rather disturbing now- kind of not a surprise so many men in their 50’s and 60’s cross lines- these movies and cultural norms are what they grew up to expect. Doesn’t make it right by any stretch- evolve people- but it does put in a bit in context.

The John Hughes Collection (9)

  • Ferris Bueller’s Day Off- Why we all wanted to go to Chicago at some point, and fantacized about what skipping a day of school should be like.
  • Weird Science– This, for me, is what I suspected my younger brother and his friends were all about.
  • Mr. Mom- What it was like to be home alone with Dads in the early 80’s- they tried, but it was pretty confusing for everyone
  • Sixteen Candles– For everyone who felt a little lost in the jumble of family life, this one’s for you
  • Pretty in Pink– for every kid who wasn’t in the popular group and wanted to know it was ok to be yourself, Molly Ringwald made you feel a little more self-assured.
  • Some Kind of Wonderful– Basically, Pretty in Pink from the Guy’s perspective
  • The Breakfast Club– an inside look into highschool and something you never hear about any more- Saturday Detention
  • Say Anything- some of the best dialogue out there- we still quote this movie frequently- “So if you guys know so much about women, why are you outside the Gas & Sip on a Saturday night? ” “By Choice man!”
  • St. Elmo’s Fire– basically, this is the Breakfast Club kids once they got to college, more or less. And what happened as they tried to learn to be adults. It’s why so many girls crushed hard on Rob Lowe and loved him just as much when he was on the West Wing.

The Ivan Reitman Collection (5)

  • Stripes– the younger sibling of Animal House- laugh out loud funny and something I will watch whenever I see it on TV. Tropes like the magazines in the end credits later used in other movies like Sister Act.
  • Ghostbusters-Another true original and a perfect summer movie. A little scary and lots of comedy- with all our favorites from Saturday Night Live,
  • Legal Eagles– a perfectly silly Robert Redford- Debra Winger movie that was perfect date night fodder
  • Kindergarten Cop– It didn’t really come out until 1990, but I have to add it since there is a great scene where a kindergartener says “My dad is a cynagologist and looks at women’s vaginas all day” and I turned to my boyfriend, now husband who was applying for medical residencies in OB-GYN at the time and said- “There’s our boy!” Fortunately, both of our sons are far cooler than that kid, and less weirded out by dad’s profession.
  • Caddyshack- it may not be a John Landis movie, but with Bill Murray – it had the same general feel.- it’s technically a Harold Ramis movie.

John Landis Movies (4)

John Landis made movies and music videos, and somehow made us love both.

  • Trading Places– this came out just as I started school in Philadelphia, so I was excited to see all the places I knew around town.
  • Coming to America– great fish out of water movie, showcasing both Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall’s talents
  • Blues Brothers– simply a fantastic cult classic-and we see Carrie Fisher before she became solidified as just Princess Leah to everyone.
  • Thriller– a music video, but should have been a movie

The Spielberg/Lucas movies (10)

It started with Close Encounters of the Third kind in 1977. Then it went from there- full of adventure, these movies were perfect in every way that mattered. And even Speilberg’s non-adventure movies were fantastic.

  • ET the Extraterrestrial
  • Gremlins– we still don’t want to feed our pets after midnight
  • Back to the Future- We all liked Michael Fox from Family ties, but now he was more of a regular guy we all could see dating
  • The Color Purple- a classic movie that taught us film didn’t have to be so suburban all the time.
  • Star Wars series– the first movie came out in 1977, and from then on, we were hooked. Now even as an adult- I still wonder what it would be like to live in those worlds, and eagerly took my kids to every movie when they came out- it became something we shared together. The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi were 1980’s movies, and became part of our psyche.
  • Indiana Jones and the Lost Ark– classic- no doubt
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom– not as good as the first
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crucade- made me better understand why my dad was a Sean Connery fan

Rom Coms/Chick Flicks (17)

  • Splash– the Tom Hanks/Daryll Hannah movie- silly but loveable
  • The Money Pit- made every young adult a little more nervous about buying that first house- and I think showed us we should think small vs. big
  • Big- What would happen if you really did have to grow up quicker than you were ready?
  • Overboard- a silly Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russle movie, but a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon
  • Pretty Woman– ok this was 1990- but let’s face it- most women wanted to be Julia Roberts
  • Mystic Pizza- where we first got to know Julia Roberts and learned that guys can be jerks, and it doesn’t always work out in the end, and that’s ok
  • When Harry Met Sally– the first of many Nora Ephron movies that made me think fondly of what it would like to be a New Yorker, and hoping I could be that cool and grownup.
  • Working Girl– another great rom com with Harrison Ford and Melanie Griffith- I think this is what all the girls I knew who went to Wharton were hoping working on Wall Street would be like.
  • Short Circuit– Robot as romantic protagonist for people from the breakfast club set.
  • Flash Dance– Jennifer Beals was at Yale the same time some of my friends were- so this felt like a movie worth seeing with friends
  • Footloose- what we all thought midwestern, uptight towns were like
  • Field of Dreams– the baseball movie even women liked
  • Dirty Dancing- a nostalgia movie that was getting us ready for Ghost
  • The Princess Bride– a movie that had it all, including humor at every turn
  • Desperately Seeking Susan– the movie where we all wanted to be Madonna, when it was still possible
  • Labryinth- A movie that was somewhere between an adult and a kid’s movie, with David Bowie and lots of Jim Henson characters
  • Tootsie– a classic with Dustin Hoffman and Bill Murray that made anyone who every watched general Hospital while home sick think how crazy Soap Operas must be behind the scenes.
  • Moonstruck- Cher and Nicholas Cage- again, how I wish New York was in reality

Complex Movies (10)

Body Heat– a movie that was startling provocative – and full of things I would not understand for years.

Do the Right Thing– Spike Lee’s movie brought a whole new world to life, and made us think about what life was like from a totally different point of view

Broadcast News– a romance and a piece about journalism, it shone a light on an adult world I knew little about. And had a rather jaded view of politics overall, which seems appropriate

The Big Chill– sort of like St. Elmo’s fire with grownups, made us all wonder what it would be like when we all had grown-up jobs and then met up with college friends.

Amadeus- a movie my mom loved, but one that left me with the thought of what it’s like to face your own mediocrity, and it didn’t offer many constructive answers on how to face it, to be honest.

Steel Magnolias– I feel like this should be on a list as an oscar winner and all, but as a play turned into a movie, it shows.

An Officer & a Gentleman– a mixture of a chick flick and a guy’s movie, this one seemed well balanced for any date night

Terms of Endearment– a total chick flick and sob story- strong mother and daughter interactions- in a way that seemed more honest than Steel magnolias.

Black Widow- a great film noir type movie starring strong women- unusual in that era.

Fame-The High School of the Arts movie where my main takeaway is that the kids were ambitious but also ambivalent about what they thought they wanted most- fame.

The Other “Guy” movies: (22)

Robocop

Beverly Hills Cop

Lethal Weapon– funny action movies that eventually played themselves out, but were great date movies

Risky Business– Kind of a John Hughes type movie but with a harder edge

Beetlejuice– a weird movie that made us all ready to accept the weirdness of Tim Burton movies like Edward Scissorhands a few years later

Major League– the baseball movie that was funny enough to keep us all entertained

Dead Poet’s Society

Revenge of the Nerds – another version of Porky’s and other movies that look a lot more problematic now after #metoo in their attitudes towards women and sex than they did at the time.

Top Gun– a testosterone movie if there ever was one, with a side of romance mixed in making it a decent date movie

Tron– the movie as video game

Fast Times at Ridgemont High– part of that teen movie genre, but launched Sean Penn who has turned into a provocative film maker in later years

Wall Street– How many of us saw capitalism, and cut throat business people- especially after being in school with some of them at Penn.

The Karate Kid- never my thing, but my brother loved it, jut like the Rocky movies

Time Bandits– a really interesting sci-fi kind of movie by Terry Gilliam of Monty Python fame- just a bit weird like Python as well

War Games– The Matthew Broderick movie that made us all remember why they made us hide in the basement in elementary school, and how maybe this computer thing should be approached with a little caution

Who framed Roger Rabbit? A movie, a cartoon, slapstick and film noir all in one.

This is Spinal Tap– a cult classic.

Airplane- one cliche and pun after another- one was good, the others, redundant

Blade Runner– another trippy movie, worth seeing

The Terminator- what made Arnold really famous, but I never loved these movies as much as things that were a little lighter overall.

Die Hard- This had the right mix of adventure and humor for me- and you gotta love Bruce Willis. Although he seems to basically play himself in every movie, he’s the smart ass we all long to be

The Untouchables

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure– classic buddy movie with the addition of George Carlin

What were your favorite movies when you were coming of age? What made an impact? How do they hold up now?

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Losing but not Lost

I lost my bid for re-election as a Township Supervisor.

Elections are like the world’s longest job interview. I knocked 946 doors, speaking with friends and neighbors; sending mail out to people about what I stood for, and what I believed. I chose not to attack my opponent, even though that seems like a given in most political races these days. Instead, I hoped that my years of service and hard work would be enough to earn the right to continue. It was not. And I totally understand. People weigh the good and the bad, and coming to a decision that a vote for me would encourage people to keep things as is, is a lot to ask from a community under these circumstances, regardless of degree of fault that could be implied.

In the end, the fact I was there when we discovered fraud that had been going on for over a decade was laid on my doorstep. We all deserved to be tossed out, many felt, and I certainly understand their disappointment- I was disappointed that I had not pressed harder on issues that may have helped discover the fraud earlier- when I suggested a forensic audit when I was newly elected, I was told we were having regular audits and it was expensive and unnecessary. Yet, that would have brought much of what was already going on to the surface sooner. But when someone is stealing from you, they don’t exactly make it easy to discover, and they actively discourage any and everyone from looking too closely.

Losing an election requires a bit of grieving, and Monday-morning quarterbacking- what would you have done differently? What didn’t you do? Is it personal? Is the other person really better? What went wrong?

This is an election where the factors at play pre-dated my tenure and I had little choice but to confront them head on when they came to light. By election day, the perpetrator was in jail; a majority of the money was already recovered and more was on the way, and we have a completely new professional team in place, who have been hard at work cleaning up the mess left behind by the former manager. The Township now has clear sight into its finances, and can make clear-eyed decisions about its future as well- rather than taking a view on accounting from before that can best be summed up by “I cannot be broke- I still have checks left” kind of thinking.

I started this post a week or so after election day. Now, in early February, I finally have a little more perspective on the before and after of having held public office.

Even on the local level, politics has become more contentious. There are people who are more interested in gumming up the running of government than in improving it, for purposes that aren’t always clear. This only causes local government to become even less efficient, and people get tangled in the weeds of spending more time justifying every step they make than actually doing the work that needs to be done.

I could not be any happier to be out of the daily scrum at this point.

I am remembering what happiness feels like. I have time to go to the gym, spend time with friends and family, and generally remember what joy is. This last weekend, we popped up to Boston and visited my son, met his friends, had dinner with another close friend, and the whole time, I kept saying to myself- this is what real life used to be like all the time! I missed so much in the misery of the last three years, and while I was in the middle of it, it was impossible to see the other side. Now, I can’t imagine how I got through it all in one piece.

So, thank you for everyone who supported me through this time. I learned how to ask for help, and got much of it when I needed it, even if it was just letting me talk to you and try to keep perspective when things were really bad.

And thank you to those who voted me out of office. You kept me from obsessing about things, many of which were beyond my control. You helped me see that sometimes, walking away from something is the best thing you can do – for yourself. And that it is ok to lose, and you can still end up being a bigger winner than you ever thought.

Those are hard won lessons, but ones I am very glad to have learned.

Onward.

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Running for Office

I am a local Township Supervisor in Pennsylvania, running for re-election this year. Supervisor is a part-time position, and comes with a statutory stipend of $2,500.00 a year. that equates to about $5.20 or less an hour of meeting time, and other work we put in to help guide the Township. The real day to day job is done by professional staff who have (mostly) normal work hours except for after hours meetings and being on call during an emergency, salaries, benefits- and these folks do the day to day jobs necessary to keep the Government running.

I love this job, as I am often in a position to help people figure out problems, point them in the right direction if we can’t help, and otherwise work to help make good decisions for the long-term benefit of our community.

I’ve taken on responsibilities that are not my “roll” per se- helping to develop a map of people having a phorid fly pest problem, and coordinating with researchers at Penn State to get help to the residents; Working on our digital infrastructure needs and getting a study- with grant funding to boot- to make sure we know where to prioritize improvements and fix connectivity gaps throughout Southern Chester County. I’ve looked up stats every week and helped people stay on top of COVID data throughout our community for over 18 months now. I’ve helped some people looking to get a little Foof Pantry program started. There’s more, of course, like starting the Holiday Village to help support economic development, improving our website, streaming meetings, adding email communication, and the like.

I hope if I leave any lasting impression on the Township, it’s one of how kindness and caring matter. And how the more you know, the more you can participate and make a difference in your community.

Does it matter?

I don’t know if I will win or lose tomorrow, but our local politics have taken a nasty turn recently, with several people making political arguments personal, and hanging me with years of problems I have worked hard to solve. But in their book, none of the good offsets these long term problems that I did not yet solve- or create- to be honest.

I can’t change any of that, of course.

In Government, in particular, things never move fast enough, and there is never enough money – and no one wants to pay more taxes. As a result, people put off making hard decisions and building up necessary funds to pay for long-term expenses- no one wants a tax increase, especially if it’s for a long-term, not near-term issue.

We see this problem statewide, nationally- at every level. Making sure we have adequate funding to keep our roads and bridges in good repair; making sure we have the Emergency services, parks, transportation, schools, and other resources that everyone wants- not as many people seem eager to pay for them. And when expenses are going up in every area of our lives, taxes seem to be the area people resent the most.

Goals

When I ran for office, one of my goals was for people to better understand how their money was being spent, and learned, at least a little, that their tax money was an investment in the future of their community.

I’ve certainly brought the “Mom” factor to the equation, for better or worse. People often reach out to me on all sorts of channels- email, personal email, text, phone, Facebook messenger and more- to ask questions, complain, offer help- you name it. Accessibility to your public officials and feeling like they are friends and neighbors is important to me- and I am not sure the same thing can be said for my opponent.

Changes

The face may change on our Township, and while I hope many of the things I started will continue, I worry many of them won’t have a champion in the same way if I am gone. That’s not to over-inflate my importance nor play down the importance of others- Government is a team sport to be sure. But caring matters. And when people in positions of power care more about themselves and less about everyone else- or more about power in general- we are all the worse for it.

I hope what I’ve worked hard to accomplish matters. It matters to me, that’s for sure.

When it gets nasty…

I can also say that I have seen a particularly nasty side of politics, and feel the weight of it this year. I worry people who do care about their communities will look at this kind of thing and simply say- I don’t want to be part of that crap- count me out. But if that’s true, then all we are doing is chasing the people who do care and are kind out of a system that desperately needs more kindness, not less.

I’ve come to feel that the race tomorrow is as much about whether facing the worst- [someone stole money from our Township and we have had to work hard to see justice done and recover the funds- not an easy task to be sure]- and doing the job to get it fixed is enough. Sure, I wish I knew there was fraud going on before I even ran for office, and I wish we found it sooner. But I am being saddled with the full weight of something going on years before I got there, and like many things in life, it’s not entirely fair.

I understand everyone’s disappointment- I am disappointed too. I also feel I was sold a bill of goods- everything here is perfect! – that turned out not to be true. I stepped up and dealt with it, rather than resign and walk away, which would have been the easy thing to do.

Even as I write this, I wonder whether walking away was really the right thing to do. Should I have bothered to run for re-election? There are important things I want to do and help with- but is it time for someone else to do them?

I feel like the other side is trying to make me feel humiliated or embarrassed about something that was ongoing long before I ever came along- and tried to make better. And then trying to tell me I somehow am taking too much credit or didn’t work hard enough to fix it, which I know is bullshit.

I’m mad and sad and frustrated, all at the same time.

Voters will decide

The decision about what kind of community they want is in the hands of the voters. I hope they choose well, whether it’s me or someone else.

I know I have worked hard and done a great job, and I don’t know if it will be enough.

Life will go on. Win or lose.

But I know there are some things I will never forget. Some people will do or say anything- and tell you later when you tell them they aren’t being truthful- they responded “well, it COULD be true”- as a way to justify their actions. These folks will do or say anything and not let facts or the truth get in their way. Whatever spin or half-truth is good enough- screw nuance. And these are the types of people who are just not good fiduciaries- they will always put themselves first- and that’s not who I want running my government at any level.

Yeah, but you knew what you were getting into….

My husband looks at me when I express these feelings and asks me what did I expect getting involved in politics? We all know it’s a dirty business with awful people. But I have hoped for so much more, and to be an example of what it could be to others. And now I have a list of names of who some of these “will do anything” people are, facts be damned. When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.

I’m severely disappointed to learn this about some people I’ve known, and not as surprised as I should be about others.

In the end, we all know that our actions have consequences, and karma is a bitch. That goes for me and everyone on this planet. I just hope that trying to do the right thing even when it’s hard counts for something.

I’ll find out this week, to be sure. Numerically, across my community- something that can only happen when you run for office.

Let’s see what we learn.

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Dementia

My mother-in-law has dementia. She had been pretty good at hiding her slow cognitive decline for a long time, but gradually, not even those of us who would have preferred to be in denial could avoid the truth. We needed to move Nancy out of her home and into a community where she could receive care and help with things like remembering her medications.

I went down three years ago, at about this time of the year, to help my sister-in-law make the move and set up Nancy’s new apartment. We could bring some things- but not everything to her home. And there were a lot of things we needed to go through, deciding what needed to be saved, given to siblings, relatives, friends or simply donated or thrown out. Having been through that, cleaning out my dad’s home after he passed away, I had a little experience with it- and it’s never easy.

Nancy is now in a great community, but she will need to move into memory care soon. We can’t avoid the fact that she’s having more problems, and needs more supervision. It’s no longer that she can’t figure out how to watch TV or tell the difference between a show and commercials. It’s getting confused, getting lost, or forgetting what she’s doing. I think it can be scary for her, a lot of the time, and that’s the one thing I wish I could fix for her- make it so she isn’t scared or worried so much of the time.

I work with a senior living community for my “day job” in digital marketing, and I talk to residents who have had spouses, friends and parents who have had various forms of dementia. The stories are all similar. There is a sadness about gradually losing someone you love, while their body is still there. You get to see glimpses of them from time to time, the sense of humor, the smile, the recognition of voices, or stories- and that feels amazing. But there are times you watch them wander in the deep, dark woods of their mind, a vacant expression and a look of being lost in the middle of something like a meal, no longer sure of what they like and what they don’t, and not sure what happens next.

When we get the periodic calls that Nancy has had an incident and ends up going to the hospital or has a crisis that needs to be addressed, I feel badly that I can’t be there- she lives in Florida, close to my sister in law, and all we can do is be supportive on the phone, keep in touch, and wait for the next visit. I want to be close and help- to help Nancy as she helped me when the boys were born, coming to stay, or coming for visits and always being someone I could talk to, confide in, and ask questions. She loved all of her family unconditionally and with an acceptance of all your good points and warts- and loved them all.

I miss Nancy. She’s still here, and we can talk to her on the phone, but it’s not the same. It now feels like talking at her than with her, more and more. We look for her and rejoice when we see the real her, but those glimpses are getting farther between, and no one knows when her mind will finally just give up, I guess.

Dementia is a horrible, hard disease that is difficult for the whole family.

All I can say is never take your loved ones for granted if you can help it. They may be gone before you know it- even if they are still here. Dementia robs many people of years of joy with their family. But remember people with dementia still have feelings- they love you, and feel things deeply, even if what they say doesn’t make much sense. And if you can just go with them to the place they are every once on a while, you will get to see them again, and that is worth the trip.

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Running for Office again!

Dear Neighbors:

While elections may be popularity contests, governing is about doing the hard work required, every day, that our community demands and deserves. To me, part of my job is to be available- that’s why I answer your questions on Facebook, NextDoor Now, email, phone, at the grocery, and even running into you while we’re at the park. I’ll do what I can to help and get you the answers you need- because that’s what everyone should do for their friends and neighbors.

In our current contentious political environment, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s most important- living in a community that cares about each other, in good times and in bad, and rallies to make sure that people affected by tragedy know their neighbors care and want to help.  That’s not a democratic, republican or independent thing- it’s a human thing. I look at the role of Supervisor as one where I can help make sure our roads, bridges and even digital infrastructure is in good repair; where we can foster events like the Holiday Village Market to bring people together and celebrate our community while supporting local artisans and business people; and where we can deal with thorny issues like regionalism and cooperation in fire and safety, and come to a conclusion where everyone wins.

Servant Leadership. Doing what’s best, even if it’s not in your own self- interest. Helping whenever and wherever you can. It’s simple, straightforward, and it’s what I do every day.

Thanks for being a neighbor here in our wonderful, diverse community.You can read more about me, my accomplishments, and the race for Township Supervisor by clicking the button below.

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