Monday, October 22, 2007

Gay, You Say...

So, J.K. Rowling came out this weekend at a fan convention and stated that Albus Dumbledore was gay.

Dave, over at BadArt has a good post on the subject.

I have a couple of thoughts on the subject:

1. I think it's debatable. Sure, she's the writer, and she created him, so it's largely her call. But she didn't include it in the text, so as the reader, I can make up whatever I want. I made this point over at Badart, if J.D. Salinger came out today and said Holden Caulfield's problems came from him being a closeted homosexual, I think that would be debated.

I've disagreed with artists on their own work before. George Lucas altered a moment in Star Wars 'A New Hope,' when, in the re-release, he had Han Solo firing second, in response to Greedo firing first, in the cantina scene. The original has Solo firing first, under the table, killing Greedo before he has a chance to fire. He stated that he never thought Solo would fire first, that was to cold-blooded for a character like Han Solo. First, Lucas contradicts himself within the movie. Han Solo plans to shoot down a Tie-Fight later, when the pilot has not fired on him. Second, he diminishes Solo's journey from scoundrel pirate to self sacrificing hero, betraying himself as an artist who may not understand his own work.

2. The actor playing Dumbledore has only now been given this information.
"In fact, recently I was in a script read through for the sixth film, and they had Dumbledore saying a line to Harry early in the script saying I knew a girl once, whose hair... [laughter]. I had to write a little note in the margin and slide it along to the scriptwriter, "Dumbledore's gay!"
An actor can waste alot of time trying to figure out what history a writer was thinking about for the character they are playing. I say waste because you can often never know. The actor must choose for themselves, and the best actors create a strong back story for themselves. What the writer intended may not always elicite the strongest performance from an actor. They change it to suit their performance. Sometimes this is called, personalizing your character. If Dumbledore being gay helps? Great, use it. If not, throw it out. At this point, other than specific script stuff, I'm not sure it matters at all to the actor who will play him.

3. If Dumbledore being gay is important, than why leave it out? Obviously, it would hurt books sales. Or, probably it wouldn't. But it would have created controversy, and maybe she just didn't want to deal with it. Anyway, she left it out, despite it's seeming importance. She has avoided a controversy, but she has also avoided the potential for making a rather significant, positive cultural impact. I fear that this indicates a weakness in her writing.

I believe that Sci-Fi and Fantasy can inform, influence, describe and positively affect us, just as any art form can. I'm pretty sure, the first interracial television kiss was on Star Trek. This had an impact, forcing viewers to think about the subject. The recent Marvel Comics story line, Civil War, which some of you may have heard of, led to the death of Captain America and the permanent unmasking of Spiderman. What I found most exciting , and enjoyed best, about the series is it examination of our post 9/11 world.

(Quickly, a fight between super people leads to an explosion and the death of over 600, normal men, women and children. This begins a movement to get superpeople to register with the government or be classified as illegal vigilantes, thrown in a prison outside the U.S., without trial.)

Civil War wasn't a unique idea, but given my description above and moments like Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four) placing an elongated hand on Iron Man shoulder and imploring him to, 'Stay the course,' it's comparisons and similarities to our current situation here and abroad is undeniable. And you know who is reading these comics, besides 33 year-old guys like me? Kids. Kids of all ages. Civil War takes a real, horrifying thing like 9/11 and the war in Iraq and places it into a form a child can access. Think about. Judge. Explore.

A book series as wildly popular as Harry Potter, creating and examining an openly gay character, could have introduced millions of children to the possibility that homosexuality isn't the plague it is sometimes made out to be. Those millions of kids would pass the book onto their children, as I will, and they would be given the opportunity to explore this subject.

It's to bad really. She's takes on classism, racism, death, murder, adolescence, adolescent sexuality, betrayal, the afterlife, school, the power of love and a few other worthy topics. Giving her young readers alot to mull over in their heads and chew on. It's unfortunate that she avoids this subject till it's to late to benefit them.

She may have sold less books, or gotten more crap from the extremists, but she also might have made an even bigger, more positive, difference by being brave enough to bring it up.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Parental Philosophy

Most parents I know walk around most of the time with an extreme inner conflict. A question they keep repeating, silently, to themselves, 'Am I doing the right thing?' In almost all criticism, deep down inside of the critic, this question persists. In most parents criticism of other parents this question is loudest.

I recently received two compliments that indicate we might be doing some things right.

As I was walking home after dropping Philip off at kindergarten, one of the mother's who has a son in his class noticed that I didn't have Patrick with me. The Wife is still on maternity leave, I had left him and Mary Kate home with her, I told her. She said we seemed like a good team. That was nice to hear. You can only put so much stock in the perception of others when it comes to your marriage and the raising of your children, but it still made me mildly proud. We are a good team. We work at it and I'm glad it shows.

The second compliment came from another mother, later that week, with a girl in Philip's class. She had worked the class as a volunteer assistant. At the end of the day, she told me, Philip had come up to her and thanked her for coming and helping in class. I guess he was the only student to thank her. She wanted to let me know that I had a very polite son. This made me very proud. It's important to us that our children respect others and behave in a proper way around them. In my opinion, there is far to much inconsiderate behavior in all walks of life.

Like I said, ultimately, you keep you own counsel when it comes to raising your kids. Still though, I'm glad my son is picking up what we are laying down.

And now some pics of the baby.

Mary Katherine smiling in her sleep.

So, Mary Kate is doing well. She had had a horrifying diaper rash for a few weeks. It looks like someone had dragged her behind a car. Everything is better now. She's sleeping well, waking once, maybe twice, a night.

Kisses from big brother, Patrick.

The Boys continue to be attentive and gentle with Mary Kate. They can't wait to play with her. We caught Philip the other day holding her properly, just like we showed him. The problem was, he had picked her up out of her basket, carried her to the couch himself. Without supervision. Without asking us. She was fine, but she's still alittle fragile to be picked up by Philip. Still, no harm. No foul.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Boom Goes The Baby.

Mary Katherine, Born Sept. 7th.
8 LBS. 14 OZ.

The Boys and their Little Sister. They seemed rather proud.

Mmmm..Delicious baby.

Patrick was the more interested and curious, not having gone through this before. Philip wants to help and hold her, but he understands that babies aren't much fun till they can do something.

The only unusual thing that occurred was when we arrived at the hospital the maternity ward was running on emergency power. We had a minor storm last night which might have caused the problem, but know one knew for sure. Anything plugged into a red outlet worked, this did not include the computers so the majority of the forms to be filled out was done on notebook paper. It also put the delivery in question. They could only perform 'necessary surgery,' and since our C-Section was considered 'elective,' we might have to wait.

I did make a mental note that the hospital would be a good place to hideout in case of a zombie outbreak, but that didn't really help the situation at hand. Luckily, it turned out to be no big deal.

It never gets any less amazing when they pull a person out of another person.

Well, I'm back to the hospital. I do recommend the cafeteria if you ever happen to be hungry in Elmhurst.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

False Alarm.

Dirty Laundry had requested a baby update but before I could get one up, she gave us an update of her own in the form of Braxton Hicks contractions and a trip to the hospital for some monitoring. The Wife has never progressed through labor so when she felt the tightening she wasn't completely sure what it was she was feeling. After going back and forth on the phone with our doctor it was decided we should stop by for them to check things out. She, the baby, did not like the monitor resting on her and violently kicked at it the whole time we were there.

Everything is fine and this is perfectly normal. If she had been dilated at all we would have had the baby last night. Currently our C-section is scheduled for Sept. 7th.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Things Fall Apart.

The Storm.

As I'm sure most of you have heard, there was a brutal storm that swept through the Midwest last Thursday. The reason you haven't heard anything from me about it is we have been without power since then.

Lots of trees and power lines down in our yard and neighborhood, luckily none hit our house or garage. Sadly, it looks like the end of this tree. Poor old tree. I used to climb this one as a kid and had some vague hopes of building my own kids a tree house in it.

Another tree an ex next-door neighbor had planted years ago. Time to plant again.

The kids were fascinated by the whole thing. We had accidentally slept through it all and didn't realize what had happened till afterwards. I wonder what impression seeing the destruction and dealing with the lack of electricity for two days will have on them. We all learn eventually that there are powers beyond our parents control. Will this be a point in that development that they look on and realize just how small we are?

Things Fall Apart.

It's been a weird month. The list of things that have broken down around the Hendricks compound reads:
  1. My car.
  2. Our second car, an old used Lincoln we bought from my folks, shocks went out earlier in the week. It's undrivable and we got it towed to my brother's shop. We are down to borrowing my folks car full time. This week we plan to purchase a new van.
  3. Our laundry machine broke early two weeks ago. It took acouple days to get a new one at which time the storm came and we lost power. For a house with six people living in it this becomes a problem very quickly.
  4. We lost everything in our fridge. My precious ice cream.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I'm Not Feeling It.

Some people get uptight when a book is adapted for the big screen and moments they feel are important are eliminated in the translation.

Some people will argue that records "sound better" than a CD.

Me? I get in a twist when a comic book, or Graphic Novel as the real uptight fanboy might insist, is adapted for film and the filmmakers alter important elements of characters.

In both of these pics from the new Batman film it appears as if the Joker is wearing make-up to create the white skin and green hair. I might be wrong, but...


Do they not understand that the Joker is insane largely because of the permanent change in his appearance? The Joker isn't an alter ego he has created. It isn't his Mr. Hyde. It isn't the Hulk to his Bruce Banner, but a part of him that was always there and that he gladly embraces. The disfigurement is a physical manifestation of who he truly is. Uncureable and unrepentant, he is totally changed. There is no prince hidden beneath the clown, he is wholly the Beast. Chaos. Batmans opposite.

I'm already skeptical.

Thanks to Tankboy for these images.

My Actor Friends

My friend Chauntal got to play Lindsay Lohan in a spoof on Entertainment Tonight. Pretty Silly, but good to see Chauntal getting some work.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Portrait of the Grandpa as a Young Man.

To all our good fortune, born on this day in the backseat of a car in Kentucky.

Weekly To-Do List

  1. Get Philip's doctor/shots records.
  2. Take records to elementary school and register Philip for kindergarten.
  3. Test drive used car. (Possible purchase of two cars this week.)
  4. Continue to prepare the boys room for wallpapering.
  5. Lead cold reading workshop for GreenMan Theatre Troupe. (Miss Bears game. :()
  6. Deposit weekend tips.
  7. TBA
  1. Pay student loan payment.
  2. Get wallpapering started.
  3. TBA
  1. Take Philip to Dentisits appointment, 8 AM.
  2. Schedule Dentist appointment for Patrick.
  3. TBA
  1. TBA
  1. TBA
  2. Arrange sitter for boys.
  3. Work, 5:30 PM.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Not Sure What I Think About This.

The Ballistic Bookbag

Pictured above is a product currently available for children and parents preparing for returning to school soon. It's the Ballistic Backpack and it cost $175. Why the high price tag? It's bulletproof. Made from a lightweight product similar to the vests worn by police and military, it's marketed as practical protection from guns and knifes for everyone, but especially your children. At school.

Since 1999 over 328 incidents have occurred, leaving 229 dead and 422 injured in school violence alone. That is an average of about 1 per week since the Columbine Tragedy. In almost 97% of these documented incidents, MJ Safety Solutions backpack could have provided the ballistic protection that could have saved lives.

I'm not sure I buy their claim of a potential 97% success rate, but I do admit, my first thought is, why not? Why not give your kid a bulletproof back pack? Why, effing-not? I mean, it can be crazy out there. How can I not do my best to protect them?

That isn't my only thought though. Other are: What long-term damage am I doing to myself and my children by succumbing to what is clearly a choice made from paranoia? Most schools, I assume, require you to leave your bag in your locker to help prevent this kind of violence. Likely, it wouldn't be available to protect you.

And when are we going to see people commit crimes with ten of these things hanging off of them. If logic leads criminals to duct tape their faces, their bound to use this soon. Given their high cost, when will they become a target of theft, leading to violence?

Also, when are kids going to start testing the bag themselves with their parents gun, Jackass style?

When are we going to get rid of the guns that make this type of product necessary?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

My Writer Friends.

One of the better friends I made while living out in L.A. was Marissa Giamo. Marissa had bounced around working on various crews in different capacities in New York and L.A. We met in Joe Palese's acting class, worked on some scenes, and grew close. She became a reliable emergency babysitter when Philip was born, and was a source of encouragement in what is a decidedly discouraging city.

As is often the case, we lost touch as she set out on a path back to NYC, and I back to Chicago. She dropped me a line recently to let me know she would be in the city for a wedding and wanted to get together. Cool. But what was even cooler was the success she has had since we last spoke. Marissa has written, illustrated, and managed to get published a children's book called, Spin The Globe Adventures: Australia. See her interview on The Morning Show with Mike & Juliet here.

I haven't read it yet, but I'm looking forward to showing it to the boys.

Congrats, Marissa!

This Is Pretty Funny.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Philip's Fifth Birthday: Lord Of The Flies Edition.

Philip turned five this past Monday. The Sunday before, we had his birthday party. I like throwing parties at home. We had an old school sprinkler party. Well, we didn't have a sprinkler going, but we had a kiddie pool and a slip-n-slide.

The Big Birthday Man.

We had, roughly, thirty people. Aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors, friends, grandparents. Pizza and hot dogs were served and washed down with plenty of pop.

Water balloon fight.

You'd be amazed at how fast you can pop one hundred water balloons. It turns into a feeding frenzy pretty quick.

Those who choose not to water balloon.

Here you got Grandma, Great Grandma (Nana), Uncles Mort and Mike, plus Megan on the right. She is the creator/baker/fabricator of the SpongeBob cake.

Reverse. Those who choose not to water balloon.

All the redheads are on my wife's side. She's got five sisters. The cousins all love to get together.

Pinata time.

This was an interesting exercise, aside from me catching one tailor made for America's Funniest home Videos, this pinata wasn't meant to be beaten open. There are some fifteen ribbons hanging from the back of the pinata. You are supposed to have each kid pull one, and eventually you yank open a door and the candy comes spilling out. I figured, what the hell, we can beat it open anyway. Not so much. Remember that scene in Parenthood when Steve Martin has to saw a pinata open? Yeah, it was kinda like that. After each kid got about four attempts at it, we switched to pulling the ribbons. That did it. The sugar hit their bloodstream and the party really started rockin'.

More sugar.

Tarzan boy.

Time to open gifts.

Being that Philip is five, he is on the outer edge of the first memories he will have. Those vague images that float around your head from before you can even say. I'm never sure if I actually had the memory, or if some old picture has burned into my brain, fooling me into thinking I was there and remember it. Either way, I think we showed him a good time. I hope he remembers being surrounded by family and friends who love him. People who came to share an important moment with him and a time when all you needed was an inflatable pool, a back yard and some water balloons for a good time.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Stuff That Keeps Me From Blogging.

My Kids.

Assembly Park beach.

Last week I took The Boys up to Delavan, Wisconsin. Delavan, once known for the Clown Hall of Fame within it, is about 15 miles from Geneva. My parents own a cottage in a place called, Assembly Park. We've owned since about 1990, but previously we had always rented a cottage for about two weeks in August dating back to '76. This was my summer place. Every year I would arrive, a year older, but the park remaining, largely, unchanged. My banner photo was taken at this beach ten years ago. Now, I bring my kids here. I find great comfort in these places.

My Car.

1999 Dodge Intrepid dead on the Kennedy.

Last week my car broke down. It was a Friday and I was on my way to work. It died in the center lane of the southbound Kennedy expressway, a major artery in and out of the city. A stopped car, in the center lane, in Friday rush hour traffic is not a good thing. I'm not sure how I did it, but channeling Homer Simpson in the episode when his car gets the boot, I restarted it and willed it to this exit ramp where it stopped for good. Triple A towed it to my brothers garage where it was pronounced dead. It's to bad, it was a good car. It got me around LA for a good 8 months and drove me back to my home today. Now we gotta go Minivan.

So long car.

Badarts' New Baby

Zelda Ivory Rain Brennan.

Beautiful, ain't she? She was born on July 27 in an unassisted, home birth. No doctor. No Midwife. Just Mom, Dad, Finn and eventually baby. Crazy, I know. So crazy it worked.

So we have been heading into the city, in a car I borrow from my Mom, and hanging out with Team Brennan. Meeting the baby, playing and visiting a water park. Good times.

Patrick and Finn hiding.

Shelto, Ava (pictured upside down) and Dave.

Finn, Patrick and Philip at waterpark.

Patrick sits.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Phil' Phuneral Mix.

So the good folk over at Culture of Beer requested Funeral mixes from everyone. Personally, I don't really find this morbid. In fact, I find it binding and expect everyone close to me, who reads this, to follow instructions explicitly.

I made it eighteen because that is what I can usually fit on a disk I burn for someone. The order is unimportant.
  • Streets of Laredo, Johnny Cash
  • Amazing Grace. Preferably bagpipes.
  • Danny-Boy. Also bagpipes.
  • My Name Is Phil. Aaron this will be a special request for you. You'll have to perform it. Unless you die before me, in which case, I request you teach it to three other people. Those three other people will teach three other people, and so on. This way we'll have our bases covered. I got acouple ideas for lyrics, the first being, My Name Was Phil. We'll talk.
  • Long as I Can See The Light. Creedence.
  • Long Black Limousine, Elvis Presley.
  • Further On Down The Road, Taj Mahal.
  • Into the Mystic, Van Morrison.
  • The Sick Bed Of Cuchulainn, The Pogues.
  • Sally MacLennane, The Pogues.
  • Here Comes The Sun, the Beatles.
  • What Deener Was Talking About, Ween.
  • Sing It again, Beck.
  • Strangers, The Kinks.
  • Theologians, Wilco.
  • Over And Done With, The Proclaimers
  • No Expectations, The Rolling Stones.
  • As, Stevie Wonder.
This may turn into Phil's Phuneral Box Set. Kind of fun. The more details and instructions I give, the more power I have from the grave.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Phil's Server Tip Of The Day.

Be honest about your mistakes.

I had a bad night last night.

I've talked about this before, but I'll do it again for the sake of this line of posts.

I was, as it's known in the restaurant community, 'weeded.' A server gets 'weeded' for all kinds of different reasons. The kitchen is 'weeded', causing you to become 'weeded.' Or, your tables just happen to be particular about their orders requiring extra steps to complete. Most of the time you have been given more tables at once than you can competently handle. When this happens, you have been 'slammed' with tables, and 'weeding' occurs. 'Slammed' and 'weeded' are often interchangeable terms.

Last night I got 'slammed' and 'weeded.' Not as fun as it might sound.

I made a number of mistakes I don't normally make. I delivered a beer that a woman had not ordered. I tried to drop off a crab stuffed shrimp appetizer to that same table when they had not ordered it, plus it took me another wrong table before I found the right table. The one I feel worst about was a group of nice regulars came in with a six-year-old and I forgot the straw they had asked for for him. He had a mohawk and was very well behaved. I also took an order for apple pie from them, discovered we were out, and had to go back and disappoint them.

Everyone has a bad day and mine was last night.

When this happens, I find the best way to deal with it is being upfront. Apologize, admit your mistake, correct it, thank them for their patience and work to make it up to them.

You don't want to be presumptuous and give the impression that mistakes are acceptable, but most people have been where you are.

If you have otherwise been polite and thorough, most customers will give you the benefit of the doubt. They understand and want to feel that you are aware, contrite and working on the problem.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Product Endorsement: The iPhone.

The iPhone smells great, and tastes even better.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Label Me.

How to Win a Fight With a Conservative is the ultimate survival guide for political arguments

My Liberal Identity:

You are a Reality-Based Intellectualist, also known as the liberal elite. You are a proud member of what’s known as the reality-based community, where science, reason, and non-Jesus-based thought reign supreme.

Friday, July 13, 2007

When I was 17, it was a very good year.

1991 was a very good year, I had graduated from high school, the Bulls won their first Championship and I went off to college. Not only that, but a lot of very good albums were released that year.

Maybe the best and most influential album that came out in '91 was Nirvana's Nevermind.

Not only did it rock, it also had one of the greatest covers of any album ever.

Oh, yes. We all remember that little baby, swimming so happily, never knowing if he caught that dollar bill or not.

Well, last Monday, that baby turned 16.

Here he is now, entertain him.

Now let's rock likes 1991 again.

Thanks to IDYFT for the link.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Phil's Server Tip Of The Day.

Be generous.

As a server, you are depending on your customers tips for your income. This is hard logic for some to understand. (See Steve Buschemi in Reservoir Dogs.) Often, customers see servers through a haze of suspicion. At best, viewing their every move as some attempt to increase their tip. At worst, they fear we have poisoned them. (See Fight Club.) Sure, I've known some mercenary, customer-hating servers in my day, but most, at the very least, just want you to enjoy your meal.

An excellent way to calm a customer, endear them to you, and help insure they return to give you their business is generosity. Buy them a drink. Whatever they are drinking, or a cup of coffee at the end of the meal. Buy their appetizer and start your relationship off with a sign of goodwill. Buy them a dessert and drop it at the table with a, "Thanks for dining with us, I hope you enjoy this pie. On me." Leaving them with a positive impression at the end of the meal.

Of course, there are restrictions depending on what kind of boss you have. Even if your restaurant has a strict policy against this kind of behavior you can usually find a way to do it. There's a couple things to remember: 1. As a server, you earn the bulk of your income from the tips your customers leave, making them your true "boss." Help them feel that way. 2. Your boss should always be reminded that return business is the best business. Spoiled customers come back, and they tell their friends about your generosity.

There are other ways to exercise generosity. Take your time at the table, indulging them in their questions. Refill drinks without being asked. Welcome them when they arrive. Thank them often for dining with you. Get creative and come up with some on your own.

There are many options, but I think the best way is through free stuff.

That's a "thank you" everyone understands.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Phil's Server Tip Of The Day

Always repeat your customers order back to them.

Quite often as a waiter takes an order, the person ordering has just bit into a bread stick, or perhaps they are just a low talker. Sometimes they are neither, but insist on looking everywhere but the waiter that they are talking to while they are giving their order. This can lead to a misunderstanding and confusion about what they have ordered.

Repeating their order back to them gives you a chance to confirm what you have written down. A chance for them to correct you if you heard them wrong, heading off any mistakes that might happen. Taking this one extra step during the ordering processes can help prevent the appearance of sloppy service, and hopefully, improve your tip.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Why Was It That?

That Boys and I were watching Toy Story last night. If you haven't seen it, or haven't seen it in awhile, it's great. Holds up very well after some ten years. We got to a point where Woody asks the magic 8 ball a question.

Philip says, "That's a bowling ball, right, Daddy."

You rarely want your kid to operate on incorrect information. You want them to have the proper knowledge when they observe the world.

That's not to say their imagination should be stifled. Two sticks can be an airplane. One stick can be a rocket. Our living room carpet can be water with our couch cushion acting as rafts. As of this moment, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy are still real. That's all pretend, and very important and fine.

But there's a difference when it comes to them accurately trying to categorize the world around them. They do want, and need, to know that a fork is a fork sometimes.

"Well, not exactly. It's a funny toy called a magic 8 Ball."

"What is it?"

"Well... That's what it is... Uh, you ask it questions, and... It gives you some kind of answer..."

Philip saved me from having to explain what exactly is the use of this toy by repeating my own description, "It's a funny toy, Daddy."

"Yeah, it's a funny toy." I say, assuring him and smiling to myself.

But it got me thinking, why is it an 8-ball? Why not a 6-ball? Or a magic cue ball?

Some questions are unanswerable. It's a funny world.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Phil's Server Tip Of The Day.

If a customer asks you what you like on the menu, mention the items you don't like first.

This gives you credibility in their eyes. They understand that you aren't just a shill for the restaurant. That you are actually interested in them enjoying their meal.

For example, the sangria at our place isn't very good. It comes from a box, and I don't like to serve it. If someone orders it, I tell them it comes from a box, and offer them a taste. If they like it fine, they can have it. But it does my tip no good serving items I don't like.

Friday, July 06, 2007

An Open Letter To My Mother.

Dear Mom,

I went grocery shopping today. You don't need to pick up any milk, or ice cream, on your way home.



Thursday, July 05, 2007

Movie Meme.

I've been meaning to get to this meme that Valerie tagged me with awhile ago. I am to list my favorite movies, which is very hard to do, so I thought I'd spin it a bit. A common cliche often heard is, "The movie is never better than the book." I say, that isn't always true. These are movies I love that I think are better than the books they are based on, in no particular order.

The Godfather. Arguably the greatest movie ever made. The book? Not so much. Sure, it's not a bad read, but at no point do you feel that it is the grand, sweeping indictment of our capitalistic system. Never does the book aspire to the Shakespearean heights, the examination of American royalty that the film does. None of the characters within the book rise to the level that Pacino, Brando, Cann, Duvall and Keaton elevate them to.'

Favorite quote. Michael: Fredo, you're my older brother, and I love you. But don't ever take sides with anyone against the Family again. Ever.

Jaws. The book is a quality page turner, scary and compelling. The movie? A terrifying, modern retelling of Moby Dick. Utilizing the "less is more" Hitchcockian style of film making, Jaws dwells on the subject of revenge, and the struggle of man vs. nature. Still, when I look out on a large body of water, I think of this movie.

Favorite quote. Brody: You're gonna need a bigger boat.

Lonesome Dove. Probably the best book on my list, it won the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. In 1989 it was shown on CBS as a miniseries. Like I said, this book rocks. Historical fiction at it's best, it tells the story of the first cattle drive from south Texas to Montana.

What separates the film from the book for me? Two words, Robert Duvall. Duvall creates a character so rich and charismatic, even as an adult, I developed a strong emotional attachment to him. I didn't just wish I could meet him. I wish I could be him. There are many great characters like this in film history. R.P. McMurphy. 'Cool Hand' Luke. But I'd take Augustus MacRae over all of them.

Favorite quote. Gus: Here's to the sunny slopes of long ago.

The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring. This is my favorite of the three film installments for the reason that it is my least favorite of the books. Most of the time I consider both a single thing. One book, one movie. But for the sake of this list I'll split them up. The film introduces us to a world so fully realized and beautiful, it's as if we have finally been given the gift of living and seeing the world Tolkien created. What is exposition in the book, and make no mistake I love it, is a visceral experience when watching the film.

Favorite quote. Gandalf: In the common tongue it reads "One Ring to Rule Them All. One Ring to Find Them. One Ring to Bring Them All and In The Darkness Bind Them."

Adaptation. I'll be honest with you, I haven't read the whole book. I've read parts, here and there, but not much. I couldn't get into it. I probably shouldn't compare them, the two being so different, but I think the film explores the pain of creation, the pain of being human at times, in a way the book doesn't. I also think this is another case of actors, at the top of their game, bringing us characters, people, living their lives in such a wonderful way with all the pain that that involves, that I'm not sure a book is capable of.

Favorite quote. Robert McKee: Nothing happens in the world? Are you out of your fucking mind? People are murdered every day. There's genocide, war, corruption. Every fucking day, somewhere in the world, somebody sacrifices his life to save someone else. Every fucking day, someone, somewhere makes a conscious decision to destroy someone else. People find love, people lose it. For Christ's sake, a child watches her mother beaten to death on the steps of a church. Someone goes hungry. Somebody else betrays his best friend for a woman. If you can't find that stuff in life, then you, my friend, don't know crap about life. And why the FUCK are you wasting my two precious hours with your movie? I don't have any use for it. I don't have any bloody use for it.

Charlie Kaufman: Ok, thank you.