Last night we dined at Emilia's, the charming Italian restaurant in the town square in McKinney. It was crowded with folks who all seemed to be having family for the holidays. We then headed over to the movie house for "The Two Towers". The film was magnificent, but I found myself in the odd way of being a Tolkien purist. The first film omitted a lot and altered a bit, but this film entirely rewrote large swaths of the plot. It's a shame that these changes were made, as many of the alterations distract from the themes of the novel. Still, an incredible achievement, and I feel so impressed I almost won't complain. But it's sad to me to come so close to filming the trilogy, and yet to just miss doing so. To me, the Lord of the Rings is that rare instance of rather specialized hobbyist fantasy turned into global populist success, which in turn has altered popular culture in a thousand ways. On top of that, it's a darned interesting take on one of my favorite themes, good v. evil. I rather admire the way that Ms. Rowling insisted on a more literal transliteration of her Harry Potter series. If a brilliant film-maker like Jackson had literally filmed the Tolkien books, these films would have been my favorite films of all time. In his day, of course, Tolkien wrote a great deal of his fear that Disney would acquire the rights and put out "cute" elves and dwarves. I think that Tolkien would be less than pleased with the Two Towers, but would recognize it as a noble effort. On a less noble note, I know that all the world is supposed to be entranced with Liv Tyler, but even a brief cameo appearance suggests to me that Cate Blanchett could be my personal Galadriel anytime.
This Christmas, one of my resolutions was to ask for gifts that were more about an experience and less about merchandise. My "big" gift request was for my wife and I to attend a play in Fort Worth. We went today to Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit, over at Stage West. I am a huge PG Wodehouse fan. Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit is a dramatization by Mark Richards of one of the better Jeeves comedies. I love the Wooster/Jeeves books--the sheer wordplay always keeps me amused. I had always thought them impossible to dramatize (though Wodehouse himself gave it a good try or two), because they are not really funny based on their absurd plots but based on the breezy way in which they are worded. This play really worked, though, by literally transmuting many of the stories into dramatic form. Stage West is a small theater group which uses an old movie theater with seating "surrounding" a small open stage. It's not quite "in the round", as nothing is round, but might be called "in the square". The play was quite fun. We all had a great time. This was a grand Christmas present, and Christmas is just beginning.
Tomorrow I work, and on Christmas Eve we head north to see my wife's family. I love Kansas City, my in-laws, and Christmas generally. I am really looking forward to the holidays.