1.21 jiggawatts of writing.

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Advice… advice…

First of all, I’m putting on the Beatles. I feel like this is going to be a total vibe session, and nobody better to back it than my favorite music makers.


Advice is a funny thing. Sometimes you crave it, sometimes you loathe it. When you’ve requested it, it soothes like the drinking fountain between innings in your Little League game. When foisted upon you, it stings with the loneliness of the last out.

That’s why I try never to foist advice. People are much more receptive when they’ve reached a point to request it.

So I’ll steer away from anything too terribly serious, and steer your attention to a few items about the Back to the Future trilogy, a piece of collected art & storytelling that I consider among the best I’ve ever seen.

Reasons I love the Back to the Future trilogy…

…and you should too.

  1. In Marty and Doc, it's got one of the great, all-time cinematic friendships. Their friendship spans time, age, generation, and vocation, and actually makes Marty forget that even if Mad Dog Tannen never killed Doc, he would have to have invented some kind of anti-aging device to live to 135 years old and make it to 1955. That’s friendship.
  1. Thomas F. Wilson. Two things to say about Tom Wilson. First of all, this guy should have been nominated for an Oscar for BTTF II, as he played four incarnations of the same man, along with his twisted, future grandson. Second, have you seen the Question Song? Just amazing.

  1. Doc’s letter to Marty. Stephen King wrote once that “writing is time travel,” or something to that effect. The idea is simple: A writer sits in one room in one moment in time and writes something, and a reader reads it in a different room at a later time. Writing is sending messages into the future. That’s what makes Doc’s 70-year-old letter to Marty so cool. He doesn’t send the letter through space (like sending a letter from Hill Valley, CA to Shermer, IL) – he sends a letter through TIME. Come on.
  1. Back to the Future Part II is the great unsung sports movie of my life. What other information could a Grey’s ______ Almanac possibly contain that could so successfully yet unsuspectingly sway future events? You show up with “Grey’s Life Almanac” and try to lay a bet on “9/11,” people will laugh at you first, and run from you later.
  2. 10:04 pm. Lightning strikes the clock tower at the end of Part I, the end of Part II, and the start of Part III. It’s the key event in many generations of Hill Valley lives. (Also, Part II is the key to the whole series. I’m not even going to expand on that.)
  3. Leah Thompson’s sweetness. Even in her mischief, she radiates innocence.

This has been fun. And while I have plenty more to say about Back to the Future, I will save those thoughts for another day. My only advice to you is to watch it all, and soon, just to remind yourself how much you like it.

It’s what I do with the Beatles. They’re still jamming, singing “I Saw Her Standing There” on one track and “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey” on the next. I would give anything to have seen them play.


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  • Our son is going as Marty McFly for Halloween. He recently watched all three movies. We're so proud.

  • You're obviously dynamite parents.

  • Brilliant movie making. Still love the original the best.

  • In reply to Teppi Jacobsen:

    I think the original is one of those all-time perfect movies, in the tier with the Wizard of Oz, Casablanca, the Godfather, Pulp Fiction, 2001, Duck Soup, etc. But Part II is just on its own, weird level. It deepens the themes to sub-strata not previously considered. There are a ton more reasons I could have included on reasons why people should immediately watch the tril, and I bet 70% are, for me, in Part II.

  • I wish I had seen the Beatles also and I was around, it just didn't occur to me to do it!
    Great piece!

  • In reply to Kathy Mathews:

    Thanks Kathy! I'd risk destroying the space-time continuum to see them.

  • I'm ashamed to admit that I neglected to show Back to the Future to my children this summer during our 80's movie extravaganza. Drat! Don't take my kids - I'll remedy this ASAP!

  • This is a serious oversight. I expect full rectification & and a report on my desk 8 am Monday morning.

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