The Boyfriend of the Week

April 7, 2004

The other day, I decided it was about time I went through the boxes of miscellaneous crappola from my college days that I've been carting around ever since graduation. I'd saved just about everything -- almost every notebook from almost every class, all my photocopied books of reading assignments, all my grade reports, and, I discovered with a fair amount of glee, all the cool stuff that used to cover the walls of my dorm room.

Most of the notebooks and reading assignments went into the recycling immediately, but the box of cool stuff I brought upstairs to go through more carefully. You see, while others were hanging posters and bulletin boards at the start of each year, I was meticulously creating complex wall collages of photographs from magazines, bits of text that took on whole new meanings when clipped out of context, paragraphs or even just single sentences copied out of books I liked, and a whole host of pictures of cute actors and musicians, most of which eventually went on to become Boyfriends of the Week.

It looked really spiffy when the walls got full, and was often a topic of conversation amongst friends and dorm-mates who would occasionally contribute things in much the same way you guys do -- they'd drop me a picture and jot a little note on why it would make a good addition to the collection. But by the third year, it was getting to be too much of a nightmare every summer to take everything down and clean off that blue putty stuff we all used to stick things onto our dorm walls. You know the stuff I mean? Man, that stuff is a real pain in the arse to get off sometimes! My senior year, I started doing funky watercolors in my spare time, too, and those seemed like a better thing to hang now that I was all grown up and serious 'n stuff. But though I never did a wall collage ever again, I saved every single picture and clipping. Just couldn't toss them. And I'd forgotten all about them until I stumbled across the box in my garage.

It was fun going through them. REALLY fun. And though it hasn't even been a decade since my dorm days, it was amazing how many of the things I found that didn't mean anything to me anymore. I'd look at one of them and be totally puzzled by it. What was so fascinating about this close-up picture of the snout of a dog? What did "Fresh from the oven!" mean to me at the time? Did I actually think that comic strip was FUNNY? Was I on drugs?!

I'm sure most of you know just what I'm talking about. I have this same reaction when I reread the journals I kept in those days. It's like reading the innermost thoughts of a complete stranger. I don't identify with her very much anymore. And it's a good thing, too, because, honestly? She was a total whackjob!

But one thing I found in the pile had the same effect on me now that it's always had. In fact, it was the first thing that went up on my wall every year -- and I'd had it since high school. That thing? It was a copy of this photo which had been roughly torn out of a magazine and had a more sepia-colored background. I was lucky I found this version on the web, actually, because my copy is so worn and rugged that it just wouldn't scan, try as I might (and I mightily tried, I assure you). Oh, and there's one other difference between this copy and my copy -- on my copy, on the right side, my best friend in high school had written the word "Huggabutt" with a Sharpie pen.

To this day, I'm not sure I actually know what the word "Huggabutt" is supposed to mean. But I'll tell you one thing -- if you looked it up in the dictionary, there'd be a picture of John Travolta next to it. Whatever it means, it sure seems to fit him. And, no, it has nothing to do with his arse. I've never even looked at his arse. And I seriously doubt it's all cuddly and hugable. Cuz, like, ew. "Huggabutt" has nothing to do with heinies. It's an attitude. At least, I'm pretty sure it is.

Anyway, when I found this picture in my box, it immediately had the same drool-inducing effect on me it always has. And then, a mere moment later, I had this sudden sinking feeling. Something was wrong. Something was very, very wrong. Oh my GOD. I don't think I ever made Johnny a Boyfriend of the Week! Can that be right? Can that be possible?! No, no, surely, I'd featured JT already. Surely he'd been one of the earliest Boyfriends. Because, holy heckfire, there is just no one cooler on the planet, and I've always ALWAYS thought so. Even during the days of "Battlefield Earth." Even during the days of "Broken Arrow." And definitely during the days of "Pulp Fiction" and "Get Shorty," two of my absolute most favorite Travolta movies of all time.

I dropped everything and ran upstairs to check the archives. And you cannot even imagine the horror I felt when I discovered I had somehow forgotten to put Johnny up here. All these years I've been doing this. And I just forgot? Again, I ask, was I on DRUGS?! Have I completely lost my mind? Completely lost touch with one of my longest, truest passions? More than anything else in that box or in those journals, this was the surest sign that I had gotten way too far out of touch with my youth. I mean, in some ways, that is always a good thing. For example, I do a lot less yelling at my husband than I used to when we were younger and just dating. And I'm a lot less apt to burst into tears at the drop of a hat. And I never EVER skip classes anymore. Although that's primarily because I don't TAKE classes anymore. But still, that's a sure sign of growth and I'm quite proud of it.

Anyway, before I could do anything else, I had to grab my shoes and race to the video store for the makings of a Travolta film festival. And now, a week of JT movie-watching has passed and I am finally ready to write. And if you're ready to read, then we're ready to roll.

It begins with a survey of the options. Which era of John Travolta is the era I want to focus on? The Kotter Era? The "Look Who's Talking" Era (also known as the "Comeback Take I" Era)? The "Battlefield Earth" Era (AKA the "Just Stop. JUST. STOP. RIGHT. NOW." Era)? The "Pulp Fiction" Era (or "Comeback Take II")?

I opted for primarily what I like to call the "Nebulous Era," which, and this may involve some quantum physics to truly explain so try to stay with me here, spans Johnny's whole career, but is curved, like space, and dips in between various hits and flops sort of like a quark bouncing along a parabolic trajectory. In and out of the space-time continuum. And also, when you beam it out of a box, it reaches the box across the table before it actually leaves the box it started out in.

I know -- hard to believe. But it's true.

So, yeah, I decided to focus on the mishmash of quarkian parabolic films, or, as they are more commonly called, "the other movies that never get all that much attention." The movies like:

1. Phenomenon. Yes, this film about a man who suddenly becomes Einsteinianly smart is corny, cheesy, and downright hokey at times. But I still cry like a girl at the end every time. I can't help it -- I love this stupid movie. And John's character is just SUCH a complete and utter sweetheart. I spend the first half yelling at Kyra Sedgwick for so daftly passing on such an obvious good thing, and the second half yelling at Kyra Sedgwick for scoring with the man of my dreams. It's just so unfair. Kyra Sedgwick ALWAYS gets the cool guys. And what does she have that I don't have? I just don't understand!

2. Michael. I hadn't actually ever seen this movie, and I can't say's I'm all that glad I finally got around to it. It was pretty lame, although it's always nice to see ex-Boyfriend William Hurt, even if it means I also have to see Andie MacDowell, a woman I usually try very hard to avoid. This one is about a bunch of tabloid reporters who go on a road trip to investigate a white trash guy (JT) claiming to be an angel. Miracles ensue, there's romance, there's attempt at comedy that fails, it's all kind of . . .eh. You have my permission to skip this one.

3. She's So Lovely. I'd seen this movie for the first time a year or so ago (Sean Penn research -- write-up still pending) and I thought it was pretty good then, and I think it's pretty good now. It's about a woman who gets raped and her boyfriend goes nuts and ends up accidentally killing a cop. He's sent to a mental institution and when he finally gets out, he discovers she's married someone else (JT) and is a mother. Much complication ensues. It's not a happy film. But it's a good film. At least, I think it is. But, I mean, I also really enjoyed "House of the Dead" (more on this one next week) so what the hell do I know?

4. A Civil Action. This is another one of those Erin Brockovich knockoffs, roughly about the same exact thing only this time featuring John Travolta instead of Julia Roberts. Yes, it's completely unoriginal. But I still really liked it. Mostly because JT looks SO darn good in suits!

5. Blow Out. This is one of Johnny's earlier movies and it's one of my favorite thrillers of all time, so I had to stick it in here. It's a Brian De Palma flick about a B-movie soundman (JT) who is out one night recording the sound of wind for his latest horror film when he accidentally records the sounds of a murder as well. He tries to convince the police he has the murder on tape, but they don't believe him -- they think it was accidental. He finally produces the tape, but, uh oh, it's blank! And then he goes home and finds that ALL his tapes are blank. Conspiracy! Cover-up! And John Travolta all young and dashing! As far as "tape-recording murders" go, it's definitely no "The Conversation" (one of the greatest movies of all time, in my opinion). But it's a close second for sure. Rent this one. Seriously. You'll like it.

Of course, these aren't the only John Travolta movies I've ever seen. I've seen a LOT of his movies -- both good and bad. And here's where I paused during the write-up to think about length issues. I could spend the next page recapping John's childhood for you, OR I could give you an annotated list of every JT movie I've ever seen. Clip and save. Something actually useful. You know John's history -- the hits, the misses, the Mrs., the Scientology. The etc. etc. etc. You don't need that. You can find that yourself on the web. But this? The Annotated List of John Travolta Movies Seen By Meg? This is a Boyfriend of the Week original. Copyright protected, even. You can't get this anywhere but here. This is worth something.

So, here, for your next trip to the video store, is the complete Meg-rated list:

THE GOOD:

1. Basic. Sure, I was confused as heck by the end. But I can't help it -- I love movies like this one. And John Travolta in a military uniform? Be still my heart!

2. Swordfish. Yes, it's crap. But it's entertaining crap AND it co-stars ex-Boyfriend Hugh Jackman. Again, my heart, be still!

3. The General's Daughter. It's a fine little murder mystery. And again with the military uniforms. Heart, you bully, you punk!

4. Face/Off. Only one of the greatest John Woo movies of all time. A rollicking good adventure. Not only action-packed but it also features John Travolta playing evil. You just don't get to see Evil Johnny that often and when the opportunity arises, you should never say no. Unless the opportunity is "Broken Arrow," in which case, you should say, "Noooooooooooo!!"

5. Get Shorty. Hilarious. Wonderful. Danny DeVito.

6. Pulp Fiction. Hilarious. Wonderful. Royale with cheese.

7. Grease. You know you love it. You know you have all the songs memorized. You know you and your friends used to pretend to be Pink Ladies when you were kids.

8. Carrie. He played the nice guy, right? This movie is such a perfect little horror picture. Why'd they have to go and remake it? Whose brilliant idea was that? Oh yeah, Stephen King's. Hasn't anybody figured out yet that if Stephen King is directly involved with a film or television project, it's going to suck monkeys? Am I the only one noticing this trend? Will the networks never learn? (Note: I don't actually know if the remake was King's doing or not. I'm just making this up for the sake of the rant. The rant is sacred. Do not disturb the rant.)

THE BAD:

1. Domestic Disturbance. Yes, Vince Vaughn and whatnot. But it's so unoriginal and boring! It's a thriller about a murderous stepfather (VV) and the ex-husband (JT) who tries to stop him before his ex-wife and son get caught in the middle. Only nobody believes him and blah blah yawn.

2. Battlefield Earth. Why? Whyyyyyyyyyyy?

3. Mad City. To quote Vyvyan from "The Young Ones" -- "bored, bored, bored."

4. Look Who's Talking Too AND Look Who's Talking Now. Okay, actually, I enjoyed the original one. Forgot to list it above. But romantic comedies should never have sequels. It's just such a bad idea no matter how you look at it. And two sequels -- well, that's just twice the wrong, wrong, wrong. Almost unforgivable. But I'm nice, so I forgive.

5. Broken Arrow. See above, re: Nooooooooooo!!

6. Boy in the Plastic Bubble. No, I know. It's good-natured and educational of sorts. But so 1976 I just can't stand it.

So, there you have it. Every movie I've ever seen (oops, except for "The Thin Red Line," but since I don't remember him being in that one, I guess it doesn't really count). Isn't this handy? Wasn't that way more fun than learning about where John Travolta was born (Englewood, New Jersey), what his parents did for a living (father owned a tire repair shop), whether he actually studied acting or just fell into it (studied, New York), or what his first professional acting gig was (age 16, a summer stock production of "Bye Bye Birdie"). More interesting than, say, finding out that he dropped out of high school right after that gig and moved to New York, where he landed several theater roles and made some TV ads? And certainly, it was way more inspiring than the fact John was on Broadway by the time he was 18 and that he single-handedly made "Welcome Back, Kotter" a watchable television series?

He's also married to Kelly Preston and has been for over 10 years. Two kids. Cleft chin. Six feet, two inches.

I'm in love.

Next up for John Travolta and me -- a role (for John, anyway) in the Joaquin Phoenix movie "Ladder 49," which is about a young firefighter who, trapped in a burning building, kills time while awaiting rescue by letting his life flash before his eyes. John plays the fire chief. I love a man in uniform -- I believe I've mentioned this. After that comes "A Love Song for Bobby Long" which looks boring so let's skip it. And finally, the long-awaited sequel to "Get Shorty," "Be Cool," which I'm absolutely positive I'm going to love.

After that? Who knows. All I can really be sure of is that no matter what happens in the future, no matter how many more Scientology-inspired sci-fi bombs he gets sucked into, John Travolta's ripped-up, Huggabutted magazine photo will forever hang on my wall, never to be boxed up in the basement ever again as long as we two shall live. Amen.

MacGyver Factor Score: 92.433%. Check this out! You can buy a mug with John Travolta's picture on it! Dude, I need one of these soooooooo bad.


Boyfriend-Related Links
Johnny's IMDB Page
Buy a John Travolta Mug!

The John Travolta Web Experience


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