Post #98: He’s Back!

Things you should be watching

Michael-J-Fox-michael-j-fox-11265218-1280-960When I was a kid I had the biggest crush on Michael J. Fox. If you’re interested, I’m straight. Not that it matters. But I do mention it if only to enforce and convey the depths of Fox’s pull over my psyche and general affection when I was younger. I loved him completely. His mannerisms. His timing. His mildly raspy voice. There was always something incredibly reassuring and comforting to me when he was on screen. And for my money, Fox is the most gifted television actor of his generation, and one of the most imminently likable screen presences of the last thirty years, if not of all time.

Family Ties was on when I was the perfect age for Family Ties to be on. Smack in the sweet spot of its target audience, I gobbled it up, along with Growing Pains and Different Strokes and The Cosby Show and other mid 80s sitcoms that dominated my early adolescent viewing. And among all the great characters at that time, including Cliff Huxtable himself, Alex P. Keaton, played by Michael J. Fox, was hands down the best character on television. And the best television acting performance of the entire decade. You could disagree with me, but you’d be wrong. Once in a while I still catch a random re-run of Family Ties and though it can get by on nostalgia alone, it’s Fox’s work on the show that nudges it past the soppy kitsch it would otherwise be relegated to, and moves it nearly to the point of art. Nearly. He’s that good.

In the late 90’s, Fox returned to television  as New York City deputy mayor Mike Flaherty on Spin City, a criminally underrated turn that, while mired in a show that was, in truth, only pretty good, saw Fox’s comedic genius on display week after glorious week.

To Wit:

Of course, we all know what happened next. Fox, who had been for years hiding the fact that he had Parkinson’s disease, had to leave Spin City, and his career in acting, both to deal with his illness and because it’s tough to get work as a guy with shaky hands and features that are aging prematurely. I won’t elucidate the details of Fox’s very public and refreshingly honest approach to dealing with his disease and trying to find a cure. Suffice to say it’s been otherworldly. If you’re curious, check out his foundation.
But I digress. What I’m actually here to tell you is that my world was positively rocked the other day when I learned that Michael J. Fox is returning to television full time!!! Yeah, I just threw down three exclamation points. And you wanna know why? I wanted to make damn sure you could feel my excitement coming off the screen at you. NBC has created a new starring vehicle for Fox. Check it.

Time will tell if the show is any good. It actually looks all right and seems to mesh Fox’s natural comedic chops with the aesthetic drive of how he’s tackled Parkinson’s. The truth is that I don’t even care if the show is good. I’m just glad Michael J. Fox is back where he belongs.

Because in truth, I’ve never really gotten over that crush.

Post #93: Molly

Shaking My Head

BreakfastClub16If you’re like me, the words “Molly Ringwald” come accompanied by a set of 1980’s based imagery and cultural association. Swatches, Levis stonewashed jeans, Reagan. You know, the big stuff. But there’s also much more specific imagery from the handful of iconic films Ringwald starred in during her brief stint as America’s girl next door. I’m speaking of The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink. And fine, even The Pick Up Artist. I see Molly learning sadly against a locker wondering why she gave her panties to a geek. I see her leaning across the table to kiss dreamboat Jake Ryan. I see her loudly admitting she’s a virgin while Judd Nelson goads her. I see her dancing horribly in a long leather skirt. I see her putting on lipstick with her cleavage. I see her breaking poor Jon Cryer’s tiny little heart so she can galavant with the “richie” Andrew McCarthy.

I like these images. I go to them often. They make me smile and laugh. And I like having Molly there in the frame, right where I need her.

Maybe when you think of Molly, if you think of her at all, you think of other things. But, regardless, you know what you don’t picture when you hear the words “Molly Ringwald?”


Yeah, that just happened.

I feel such a confluence of emotions when I see this that I honestly lack the words. Is she…singing jazz? She is, isn’t she? She’s not…terrible. Is she? I’m so distracted by all the other associations I have with her that I can’t even tell. I have vertigo. I need a place to lie down.

I bumped into Molly Ringwald the jazz singer the other day when looking over the new jazz selection on iTunes. Hence my whiplash. This is all new. I saw her name and image, thought “no fucking way,” and had to click. The samples aren’t half bad. If you didn’t know it was Molly Ringwald, you could almost sit down and listen to it. But…it is Molly Ringwald. I feel for Molly here. Clearly, she’s a more than capable singer and not just whistling dixie up there. And others must think so as well because she’s #4 on the iTunes jazz chart as of right now. Yep, #4. Just ahead of some guy named Miles Davis.

Of course, this isn’t exactly unchartered terrain. I mentioned Reagan above and we all know the journey from Hollywood hunk to the White House is far less likely than that from 80’s film sweetheart to jazz ingenue. Same for the journey from world champion body builder to the governor of California. We all survived that. Hell, maybe jazz is what Molly had her sights set on all along. Maybe she and John Hughes used to sit around and dig on Monk and Prez between takes. Honestly, I stopped paying attention to her around 1988. But I kind of figured she stopped too.

I guess what I’m saying is that Molly’s different somehow. I can’t explain it. She’s ours, isn’t she? All right fine, she’s mine. And these images of her are such a part of my past that they’re burned into my subconscious. I can’t help it. Even more so…I need them there. Need her there.

By the way, I’m well aware of how weird and unfair I’m being. I don’t care. I have needs people. Just please tell me Anthony Michael Hall isn’t running for Congress or I’m going to need medical attention.

As a final thought, if you’re reading this and you find yourself intrigued or wanting to pick up some Molly Ringwald to canoodle you and your lover on some upcoming candlelit journey, go for it. If you can forget who’s singing,  you might even be able to enjoy it. Just pick up some Sarah Vaughan or Billie Holiday first.

I’ll sleep better.