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.