Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Bat, a Mouse, and a Lamb, or How I relaxed this summer.

A movie, and album, and a couple of books have been part of my R & R this summer.

First, “The Dark Knight”. Since apparently everyone has seen and commented on this movie, I’ll save any summary and I’ll try to add just a few thoughts:

  1. Heath Ledger was very good. His master gesture got a bit redundant. I was waiting for him to start speaking in Parseltongue.
  2. Shrink think: The joker is a good example of a sociopath; he just wants chaos. Two-Face, on the other hand, is delusional to psychotic proportions; he shows extremely clouded judgment but still seems to operate in some moral code. One could also argue that he is responding with narcissistic rage to a breakdown of his ideals and image (and his girlfriend).
  3. The philosophical message got a wee muddled: Truth is important for the sake of Truth except when the city doesn’t need a Hero that stands for Truth, or if that Hero has a unneeded variation of Truth, then it redefines what a True Hero is, except when a Hero isn’t, etc., etc.

Second, Beck’s “Modern Guilt”, produced by Danger Mouse. Thoughts:

  1. There are a lot of mouse droppings on this album. Those of you familiar with Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy,” will pick up the heavy usage of snare and funk bass. This is not a bad thing, necessarily, but it comes across as a bit forced at times, where other arrangements might be more complimentary to Beck’s style
  2. Beck continues to expand his sound. He moves between 60’s bubblegum, to flower power, 70’s Funk, and Prog, all within the first few songs of the album. He comes back around to some alt-rock sounds that can only be described as “Beck-like” (or Beckish, or something).
  3. That prog sound is nicely done on “Chemsounds,” probably my favorite song on the album.
  4. Beck doesn’t rap. Hooray!

Third, I’ve had a few re-reads over the summer. A couple of them are worth mention.

Christopher Moore’s “Lamb: The Gospel According To Biff.” And “The Quiet Room, A Journey Out Of The Torment Of Madness,” by Lori Schiller and Amanda Bennett.

Moore’s novel is a hilarious recreation of the life of Jesus, as told by his best friend, Biff. It addresses some of the “lost years” of Jesus’ life, as well as a alternative perspective on the biblical gospels. Yes, it is quite sacrilegious in its style, but I was a bit misty-eyed at the end; even in this format, Moore still is telling the Greatest Story Ever.

Schiller’s book is about the life of a woman who begins having hallucinations, and her downward spiral into chronic psychosis. Clinically, she’d probably be called schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type in today’s language, but it’s serious mental illness, and that’s all we need to know. The fear, stigma, challenges and limitations of treatment, are all well represented in a timeline, with first and second hand perspective. The alternative perspectives of friends and families recorded are quite fascinating. It’s a great read, and I have recommended it at times for families affected with a loved one with serious mental illness.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Politically Incorrect Musings #2

A news article was sent my way via email regarding Sen. Obama. As the advertising had been cut out, the remaining type appeared in what looked like poetic quatrains. The material read a bit like Robert Frost, which got me thinking...
With apologies to Frost:

Two roads diverged on the political trail
Wished I to avoid the divide
And blaze between a combined trail
But I walked the middle to no avail
Thus resigned myself to decide

To the right before me a light path rose
Uphill, and narrowing
To a mountain top where white wind blows
If that had been the path I chose
Clearly more harrowing

To the left the footpath flowered
Colored, shaded, and well worn floor
Berries abounded and nymphs beckoned, showered
pleasantries and riches. The path towered
As if gliding to the White House door.

In my heart I cannot deny
That when upon a political fence
Two roads diverged, and I--
I took the one more traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I know, try "Old Man's Winter Night" for McCain next. But Frost's ghost (and probably the copyright owners of his works) will likely be visiting me if I do anymore damage.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

But he had great hair

RIP, I hope, to John Edwards' political career. Too bad that the majority of damage that this man has done will never be righted. A malpractice lawyer, and a bottom-feeder (by malpractice lawyer standards!) at that, Edwards made his money on birth-related injury trials, a low-risk, high-yield trial, for the lawyers--that is. The likelihood of a positive settlement for the patient is slim. Edwards would often use his personal family stories to get points with the jury, stories that don't seem so warm and fuzzy anymore. In Edwards's first big case he artfully channeled the words of an unborn baby girl to convince the jurors that an obstetrician's decision not to perform a Caesarean section resulted in the girl being born with cerebral palsy, in spite of the fact that every scientific study available suggests evidence to the contrary--that the vast majority of CP cases are prelabor, and that Caesarian sections do not reduce this risk. He opposed any birth-injury legislation in North Carolina, that would provide a fund to all born with such injuries (a fund that all doctors, including myself, pay annually here in Virginia), to ensure an open cap on these lotto-trials.

The man lied for a living, at the expense of doctors and patients. And apparently his family as well. I imagine he couldn't look too far at himself in the mirror; now I know why his hair was so great.