A week or so ago as I was venturing homeward on Hwy. 182 near the corner where Dave’s Fletching & Archery was once located, in the westbound lane I encountered a huge semi with a Cooper mini hot on its six. Now there’s a comparison — sort of like placing a Matchbox car next to my F-150 or a newly hatched chick next to an elephant. In short, there is no comparison. When it comes to size at least. But cars and trucks, chicks and elephants are much more than that, aren’t they?
How did “my dogs bigger than your dog” or “keeping up with the Jones’s” become so ingrained in the human psyche? Isn’t it all sort of like comparing a Cooper mini to a semi truck? We’re supposed to be different. We’re supposed to be unique. How interesting would the world be if we all looked the same? If we all acted the same? If we all thought the same? If we all lived in the exact type of house and drove the exact type of car? If we smiled and dressed and talked the same? Can you spell “Stepford Wives”?
Of joy, a perfect segue. I’ll admit it. I play a comparison game myself. It's rather a harmless little game made up by and totally ruled by me. There are no human competitors. There are no awards. There is no time limit. There is no board, no dice to shake, no cards to shuffle. All that exists is subjectivity. Mine. I love comparing books with their movie counterparts. That is my own personal game. Usually book wins, including the aforementioned “Stepford Wives,” since books can be so much richer in detail. But there have been exceptions, such as “Ordinary People” by Judith Guest. Donald Sutherland, Mary Tyler Moore and a very young Timothy Hutton are spot on in the film. Brilliant.
Oddly my favorite book and favorite movie are one and the same so no need to compare. “To Kill a Mockingbird” written by Harper Lee and the movie version starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch. The movie leaves out a lot — we never see or hear of Atticus’ brother and sister; Miss Stephanie and Miss Rachel are combined into one, Dill’s aunt Stephanie; Miss Maudie does not take in boarders, it doesn’t snow and her house doesn’t catch fire leaving her chubby boarder to exit by an upstairs window. We don’t see Burris or any of the other Ewell children (he squeezes a louse crawling in his hair in the book so perhaps it was good they left him and the others out of the movie). Jem does not teach Dill to swim or destroy Miss Dubose’s flower bed with Scout’s twirling baton purchased at the Jitney Jungle in downtown Maycomb, forcing him to be a reluctant reader to the old woman. Jean Louise (Scout) does not help serve refreshments at her aunt’s missionary circle meeting. There’s more, but it doesn’t matter, the movie is so rich in other details that if we watched it alone and never read the book it would still be the Academy Award winner it is. And if we read the book and never watched the movie it takes nothing away from its having won a Pulitzer for literature. Again, why compare?
Another close one, or three, is the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. The movies are well done, but they do lack some of Tolkien’s finer points — that would go for “The Hobbit” stories too. Winners: books, hands down for all of those.
Others are just too easy — “The Help”, book; “The Great Gatsby”, book; “The Secret Life of Bees”, book; “The Fault in Our Stars”, book; “Unbroken”, book. Can’t help it, I enjoy conjuring physical characteristics when I read. Sometimes movies, even well-done movies, don’t capture that.
For a non-competitive sort like me, this kind of game is the best there is. Comparatively speaking of course. And if I had to choose, I'd probably take the semi over the mini. How ‘bout you?