The Five Best Classic Summer Movies

As summer approaches, moviegoers’ thoughts wander to up-and-coming blockbusters, action movies with big-name stars and even bigger explosions, and high-budget animated family fare. In all the splashy excitement and heavy advertising, however, it can sometimes be easy to overlook classic films in a related yet different genre: movies that celebrate the summer season itself.

During the summer, the sun is still out even after an hour when many kids would have to go to bed during the school year. Sleepovers, late-night dates, and travel become more the norm than the exception. Summer has a kind of anarchy to it; rules that apply throughout the rest of the year are suspended, and anything can happen. Great summer movies reflect that freedom from the rules-along with the excitement, the romance, the horror, or the absurdity it can cause.

“American Graffiti” (1973)

Summer takes on different meanings as people age. For kids, it’s a break from school; for teenagers, it might include dates and part-time jobs; and for adults, it’s often just the same old same old. Few things bring that as starkly to light as teenagers’ last summer before graduating from high school-often the last chance they’ll have to enjoy everything life has to offer without being burdened by responsibility. The George Lucas classic “American Graffiti” takes that concept a step farther, focusing on the final night of one group of teens’ last childhood summer.

Steve (Ron Howard) and Laurie (Cindy Williams) break up and get back together. Curt (Richard Dreyfuss) meets a mysterious blonde who may or may not have a seedy past and goes to great lengths to pursue her. Toad (Charles Martin Smith) and John (Paul Le Mat) go cruising, and John later races Bob (Harrison Ford) and Laurie (Cindy Williams), who barely walk away after Bob flips his car.

Romance, fast cars, minor mysteries, rock-and roll music, and brushes with death-anything can happen on the last day of summer, and in “American Graffiti,” it does.

“Dirty Dancing” (1987)

Sheltered, wealthy Baby (Jennifer Grey) spends her summer vacation in the Catskills with her physician father (Jerry Orbach). Hard-bodied dance instructor Johnny (Patrick Swayze) quickly captures Baby’s attention, and she develops a crush that only grows after she’s invited to a clandestine after-hours staff dance party, where Johnny teaches her some of the finer points of the mambo.

After a serious of unpleasant events, Baby’s father forbids her from seeing Johnny. Discovering her own independence for the first time, Baby sneaks around with Johnny anyway and only reveals their relationship when Johnny is falsely accused of theft.

“Dirty Dancing” combines one part coming of age, one part summer camp, one part dance, and one part romance. These elements are underscored with a sweeping soundtrack and garnished with a dollop of high drama to make “Dirty Dancing” a classic summer story.

“Stand by Me” (1986)

Gordie (Wil Wheaton), Chris (River Phoenix), Teddy (Corey Feldman), and Vern (Jerry O’Connell) are four misfit young friends. After Vern overhears his brother discussing a body he found while he was disposing of a stolen car, he convinces his buddies they should go searching for it. The body is that of a high-profile missing child, and the boys are sure that if they locate it, they’ll be rewarded with fame.

“Stand by Me” has a simple and straightforward plot, but it’s an adventure kids could only take over the summer, when they’re free to explore, camp out, and disappear for a weekend. The friends bond over the journey, and this moment in time becomes pivotal in their understanding of each other-and of themselves. It’s a coming-of-age story largely centered on character development, but it calls to mind those young teenage moments of self discovery that only seem to occur on summer adventures with friends.

“Caddyshack” (1980)

When Rodney Dangerfield, Bill Murray, and Chevy Chase team up, plot becomes almost irrelevant. “Caddyshack” has been widely hailed as one of the funniest movies of all time, and it’s also a great example of lighthearted, uproarious summer fun.

Danny (Michael O’Keefe) is working at the country club, often caddying for golfing sensation Ty Webb (Chase). Danny ends up involved in a feud between the club’s cofounder, Judge Smails (Ted Knight), and wealthy jerk Al Czervik (Dangerfield). Meanwhile, bumbling assistant groundskeeper Carl (Murray) has been tasked with the surprisingly difficult job of eliminating a pesky gopher.

Carl eventually resorts to the nuclear option to deal with the gopher. Danny puts his job and a scholarship on the line to golf for Czervik in his duel with Smails. Naturally, these events coincide, leading to hilarious hijinks. “Caddyshack” requires suspension of disbelief and a strong sense of humor, and it’s perfect summertime popcorn fare.

“Vacation” (1983)

The first entry in National Lampoon’s “Vacation” series sees the Griswold family embarking on a cross-country road trip to visit Walley World. Clark ( Chevy Chase ) attempts to trade in the family car for a sporty new wagon, but at the dealership, he winds up with an unappealing vehicle: “The Family Truckster.”

His wife Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo) and kids, Rusty (Anthony Michael Hall) and Audrey (Dana Barron), are less than enthused about hitting the road in the Truckster, but Clark talks them around. What follows is a road trip of epic comedy and abject failure-from getting stranded in the desert to the unexpected on-the-road death of Aunt Edna (Imogene Coca), everything that can go wrong does. Unflinchingly hilarious, the movie includes something for everyone who’s ever taken a summer family vacation, and it serves as a cautionary tale for those who haven’t.

A Lifetime of Music

As Friedrich Nietzsche so eloquently summed it up: “Without music, life would be a mistake.” It is the soundtrack to human existence, the enriching force that can take a person’s mind back to a specific place or time, and the creatively inspiring force that fits any emotion. I couldn’t live without music in my life.

Over my 27 years of life thus far, I’ve listened to enough music to fill a large museum and I own hundreds of albums, but I never took the time to look at my musical history according to each year of life and appreciate each song in its proper time context.

Today, I’ve decided to go through every year of my life until my 18th birthday and pick out a particular popular top 100 song that holds personal meaning, calls forth a specific memory, or has inspired me as a person over the years. Some years, it was hard to choose just one, but the best choices always eventually surfaced.


Eddie Murphy – “Party All The Time”

There’s nothing quite like actors turned singers, and Eddie Murphy does not disappoint with his Rick James collaboration. The video is nothing short of amazing and makes me so glad to have been born the year it was released. There’s so much cheesy charm to love about the 80s.


Whitney Houston – “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”

Rest in peace you beautiful, tortured woman. I remember having to sing “The Greatest Love of All” in elementary school as well as learn the sign language accompaniment. I’ll still request this song at any bar jukebox I find myself standing next to.


Bobby McFerrin – “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”

This song ranks up there with “Hakuna Matata” for life advice songs. I hope to someday give my children a “Life Advice” music mix and this song will certainly be featured as one of the top tracks.


Milli Vanilli – “Girl You Know It’s True”

The song that ruined Milli Vanilli via a lip synching fiasco remains my favorite of their short-lived worldwide success.


New Kids on the Block – “Step By Step”

No one can deny the annoying-but-somehow-insanely-addictive nature of this song. Donnie Wahlberg just looks so out of place in this group. Also, bonus points for the Mark Wahlberg cameo toward the end of the video.


DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – “Summertime”

This song still reigns as my summertime anthem and is present on every summer-themed mix I’ve ever made. Will Smith can do no wrong, in my eyes.


The Cure – “Friday I’m In Love”

Although I’ve been a lifelong fan of the Cure, this song is the first I’ve heard from them and still remains a nice, bubbly gum pop love song. While not indicative whatsoever of their overall goth-y music style, it’s nice for Robert Smith and the gang to find a place on the US pop charts.


The Proclaimers – “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”

Such a simple, sweet song about being a beta male and begging a woman for sex. The thick Scottish accents of the vocalists only accent this 90s classic.


Ace of Base – “The Sign”

Chalk this up in the “specific memory” category because not only do I remember singing along with this song on the radio, but I also associate it directly with the cringe-inducing performance of this song by Stephanie Tanner, Gia, and Kimmy Gibbler as “Girl Talk” in Uncle Jesse’s famed Smash Club. There’s nothing like hearing teenage girls butcher a classic. This song also marked the height of the Europop invasion and I thank my lucky stars I was alive to embrace it.


Coolio – “Gangsta’s Paradise”

The “Dangerous Minds” soundtrack was the first rap album I ever purchased and I can still recite all the lyrics to Coolio’s masterpiece. Although the Weird Al Yankovic version is just as memorable, this one introduced me to the world of hip hop and I am forever grateful.


Mariah Carey – “Always Be My Baby”

I’m not ashamed to admit that I am still in love with Mariah Carey. This particular song is the perfect blend of her heavenly vocals and that carefree, tire swinging romantic fantasy she is so good at creating.


Jewel – “You Were Meant For Me”

Another embarrassing fact is that this was one of the first CDs I ever purchased. I always had a thing for female artists and Jewel was no exception.


Leann Rimes – “How Do I Live”

This is another song with a very specific memory tacked to it. I had my first kiss (you know, the kind with tongue) at the Warrington Skating Rink while this song was being played, so I’ll always have a magical connection to this somewhat generic love song.


Lauryn Hill – “Doo-Wop (That Thing)”

Although most of her songs are about empowering young black girls, I always found myself drawn to Lauryn Hill. Her soulful lyrics and hip hop sensibilities made for some great music that nerdy white teens could blast in their bedrooms.


Sisqo – “Thong Song”

How could you not love a song devoted entirely to thongs? They make women’s butts look great and they make excellent sling shots. What’s not to love? Sisqo flew too high, much like Icarus, and faded almost immediately into obscurity after the success of this song, but for a moment he was a golden thong god.


Trick Daddy – “I’m A Thug”

An underrated rap gem that was playing in the car the first time I smoked a blunt.


Kylie Minogue – “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head”

An addictive dance song by a woman whose claim to fame is being the hot red head in Biodome.


Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz – “Get Low”

For some reason, this Lil Jon album became the anthemic piece of music that defined my entire senior year of high school. It was so laughably bad, but the songs really grew on you. This is another song I love to request at bars because it never fails at getting everyone to chant “To the window! To the wall!”


Kanye West – “Through The Wire”

This song reminds me of my first year of college when Kanye’s debut album was released. It takes me so quickly back to those days of underage drinking and questionable decisions and living carefree on government subsidized loan money. Those were the days.

Looking back, I don’t know if this article was so much about exploring my musical life as it was about finding a way to heterosexually admit to loving Mariah Carey.

Low Cost Summer Time Activities to Educate and Entertain Your Sons Or Daughters

As the long summer months stretch out ahead of you, are you worried that your kids will forget everything they learned in school over the past year? Properly, never fear. Having a little planning and not much cash, you can keep your sons or daughters finding out and entertained at the similar time.

1. Get them involved inside a free of charge reading system.

Most nearby libraries deliver a reading system during the summer months. It encourages the young children to read mainly because they wish to win free books along with other prizes By reading about topics that interest them, your children will be learning without having realizing it. Additionally, numerous libraries enable small youngsters to take part by having their mother and father study books to them.

2. Participate in community education summer season programs.

Numerous community education software programs offer you unique classes for children throughout the summer time. Usually, the pursuits are fun and educational ones and may possibly include music, sports routines, and various artistic courses. The class fees are commonly quite reasonable.

3. Go to local historical web sites, galleries, and exhibits.

Get your kids out of the house. Take them to museums, art galleries, and distinct exhibitions. Should you live inside a town with a lot of historical landmarks, take benefit of those as effectively. Your sons or daughters will have a excellent time enjoying these cultural routines.

4. Use computer software programs to enhance learning abilities.

Purchase or rent some computer system programs that enhance finding out ability for example math and spelling. It’s a fantastic idea to limit the time your children invest on the computer system, but when they do use the PC attempt to make it a worthwhile educational knowledge as perfectly.

5. Begin a vegetable garden.

If you have the space, let your sons or daughters aid you having a vegetable garden. They can learn about quite a few different science topics this way. Getting a garden will also encourage them to really feel great about completing a project once they get to try some from the create they’ve grown themselves. Taking care of plants also teaches them responsibility as well as the fact that lack of responsibility has results – just like dead plants.

6. Work on a family tree.

Kids are usually really interested in finding out about the lives of their parents, grandparents, and other ancestors. You can match the difficulty of the project towards the age of the kids. Working on a family member’s tree will boost their research knowledge and give them the opportunity to find out history at the very same time.

Even with high gas costs, it is possible to do numerous of these activities without having traveling far from home. Give your children the encounter of a learning-filled summer months and they is going to be properly prepared to resume their school classes in the fall.