“The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai across the 8th Dimension” is near the pinnacle on my list of my top favorite movies, ever, of all time. It’s got everything a girl could dream of: brain surgery, aliens, a cornet solo, an unexplained watermelon, Rasta aliens carrying bubble-wrap glasses to view their leaders’ video-letters, a kid named Scooter who outsmarts the Secretary of Defense, John Bigboote… I could go on.

Those of you who know, know.

But for those of you who don’t know: In the film, Buckaroo Banzai and his band, the Hong Kong Cavaliers, are also stars of a very popular comic book. Early in the movie, Buckaroo and one of his entourage, a hot 80s blonde guy named “Perfect Tommy,” are walking down a cellblock, looking for “Penny Priddy” (played by Ellen Barkin) to bail her out. Someone from another cell reaches toward Perfect Tommy, he dodges the hand, and you hear a female prisoner’s voice say, “Oh my Gawwwwd, Perfect Tommy!”

There’s no room for doubting this world; we just accept that everyone knows who Perfect Tommy is. Of course we hear a woman calling after his tall, handsome, bleach-blonde self as he walks down the hall, because she’s probably just read the latest comic. We trust that someday, “Reno” will tell us later about that mysterious watermelon in the lab.

Meanwhile, NEW JERSEY and RENO NEVADA are searching another lab. They pass
racks of equipment, including a large watermelon clamped into some sort of

Why is there a watermelon there?

I’ll tell you later.

My husband and I refer to this phenomenon as “The Buckaroo Banzai Principle.” When a work of fiction is so confident in itself that the reader just enters the world and goes with it. I aim for that in my work, and hope, someday, to achieve it.

(Recently, one of my students informed me of something, so I should probably stop waiting for the sequel, billed at the end of this film thusly:



because, among other things, Peter Weller, who played Buckaroo, is getting his PhD in Renaissance Art at UCLA. Oh my Gawwwwd, maybe he really IS Buckaroo!)

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