I cannot think of anything especially nice to say about John Hughes, who died Thursday of a heart attack in Manhattan. Except that I enjoyed, over the years, some of the company I kept when I watched his films. He had nothing to do with the good memories that Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987), Uncle Buck (1989), or Home Alone (1990) engendered and which they still conjure up for me when I happen to see them again. But that is the trouble with popular culture (pace Michael Jackson): it's always there in the background of our lives whether we like it or not - providing an always innocuous but not entirely welcome accompaniment. One song, one movie will fit just as aptly as any other. We often have no say in what happens to be playing at our most memorable moments. Chance is the only guide (or what my father would've called luck). There is never any choice, unless one lives far enough away, or is insulated in a cork-lined room, from popular culture that one can program one's accompaniments. But who can honestly say they want to live like that? Or only occasionally? So thank you, John Hughes, for the memories. Maybe I should've been watching Antonioni or Ozu. But then there would've been fewer friends with whom to share the films again. And again.