You can figure out the cousre of my romantic history by my high-school secret movie crushes: I preferred Gene Hackman over Christopher Reeve in the Superman movies, Harold Ramis over Bill Murray in Ghostbusters, and disdained the all-American, fresh-faced Tom Cruise in Risky Business in favor of the actor playing his sidekick, Curtis Armstrong. Armstrong, who turns 53 today, has had a long and varied career as a character actor in film and TV -- and yet many people still remember him for his early role as "Booger" in the Revenge of the Nerds movies. I can barely remember Revenge of the Nerds myself, although I know I saw it (I didn't realize there was more than one film, either) and apparently the movie is memorable enough to warrant work on a remake that was never realized. I recall watching Armstrong in Moonlighting episodes and in Better Off Dead, but I most associate him with that 1983 breakout movie for Tom Cruise, as the guy who tells his uptight friend that sometimes, you've just got to say, "What the f---?"
The photo above isn't the best shot of Armstrong, but it illustrates my point perfectly. Tom Cruise, in the middle of the photo, looked and acted like a typical clean-cut high school guy. Borrrring. But Armstrong, smoking a cigar there on the left, was a daring and charming bad boy, the kind who led his friends (and perhaps innocent young women) into trouble. That's the kind of dope I was in high school: I liked the long-haired, shady-looking guy who said "What the f---?" (I just realized that Armstrong must have been nearly 30 when he played a high-schooler in that film.) When I first saw the movie, I was young enough to get a slight shock out of the casual and repeated use of that four-letter word. Looking at pictures of the young Armstrong now, I realize I've outgrown that particular preference ... although I'm not any fonder of his Risky Business co-star, either. All I feel is nostalgia. (And by the way, the other guy in that photo is in fact Bronson Pinchot, in case you were wondering.)