Today is apparently the start of the new school year for those who attend school. For me, it meant going through a school zone on the way to physical therapy. While stopped at a light near the middle school, I saw a girl heading to school who looked freakishly like I did at that age. Even her school uniform (they do the khakis and solid color polo shirt thing around here) looked a lot like the kind of clothes I chose to wear to school. I had a brief pang of nostalgia.
Meanwhile, I think I've figured out one problem with the economy: People may not be buying stuff because there's nothing out there worth buying. I got money for my birthday, as well as a nice royalty check. I need new shoes, and a few new articles of clothing wouldn't hurt (considering I have a meeting at the med school this week, and I'm having trouble finding business attire to wear that I didn't already own when I worked there more than 15 years ago). I want to buy stuff. But when I went shopping after therapy, I couldn't find a single article of clothing I even wanted to try on. The shoes were all awful. I ended up just getting a new set of sheets and a microfiber hair towel, since my hair takes forever to dry and a blow dryer turns it into a fright wig, so I thought I'd give it a shot. I may hit the mall later this week and see if I can find anything. It's hard to get the economy moving again by spending money when there's nothing I want to buy. I have a similar problem with supporting the publishing industry, since my taste is apparently what's not in fashion at the moment.
I caught a couple of movies on TV this weekend that are worth discussing. First, I saw The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen on one of the local stations Saturday afternoon, and it wasn't as bad as I'd feared. It certainly wasn't great, and it was nowhere near as good as a movie with that premise should have been, but it was watchable. I suspect that's a matter of perspective. If you'd heard the premise and thought that sounded like a great movie and paid to see it in the theater, then it would have been truly awful. I'd heard how awful it was and what a mess they made of it, so when I had it on as background noise while I was reading, I didn't think it was all that horrible. It wasn't great, but it didn't exactly make my eyeballs bleed. The premise is that a bunch of famous literary characters from 19th century fiction team up in a kind of literary justice league to fight evil. I think the biggest problem with the movie is that it didn't seem as though anyone involved with the movie had ever read even so much as the Cliff's Notes of the books their characters came from, which meant they weren't so much the actual characters put into this new situation as they were random people who had the same names and maybe a few characteristics of the actual characters. For instance, they seemed to totally forget that Tom Sawyer was a trickster character. He was the kind of fast-talking con man who could charm you into not only doing something you didn't want to do, but paying him for the privilege of doing it. That would seem to lend all sorts of fun potential when making an adult Tom Sawyer be a secret agent. And yet, his sole characteristic here seemed to be that he was American and therefore the gun guy. Even if you haven't read the book, you should know about the famous fence-painting scene and be able to apply that to the character. Tom Sawyer should have a sense of mischief about him. Meanwhile, Mr. Hyde seemed to be the Hulk with a British accent. I have not read the comic books the movie was based on, so I don't know if they do a better job, but if the literary mash-up trend continues, I think I'd far rather read a book that took literary characters from multiple books and put them in a new setting like this than one that just adds zombies or vampires to an existing novel. But it can only work if the author has actually read the source material.
Hmmm, I wonder how close one could come to this premise without getting into infringement trouble? Maybe different characters fighting different kinds of villains?
Then on one of the HBO channels, my Sunday-afternoon viewing was Mrs. Henderson Presents, based on the true story of a wealthy widow in the late 1930s who got bored with charity committee meetings and embroidery and decided to buy a theater. When their Vaudeville-style reviews were copied by every other theater and they started losing money, she came up with the idea of having nude girls in the shows and found a loophole in the regulations that allowed them to get away with it. And then when the war started, this was the only theater that stayed open during the Blitz. Judi Dench plays Mrs. Henderson, and she's absolutely brilliant as this slightly batty but still incredibly shrewd woman who is a real force of nature. The movie is hilarious, but still has a strong emotional core and at times brought tears to my eyes. As a content advisory, there is a fair amount of female and even male full nudity, so possibly not something to watch with your parents. Still, there's something fairly innocent about the way the nudity is portrayed, and most of it falls into the category I'd call "in good taste," which generally means dimly lit, at a distance and not really focused on. And they're "real" bodies, not super-enhanced Hollywood bodies.
There were lots of funny lines, but I think my favorite came when they were auditioning for the nude girls, and the male manager had rejected all the candidates so far, saying he was looking not for talent, but for a quality -- a smile, a look in the eye, a personality. Mrs. Henderson deadpans, "Then perhaps you should try looking at their faces."
Now, off to the library because although I have hundreds of books lying around the house, many of which I haven't read, I get twitchy when I've finished all the novels I got from the library.