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.

1 comment:

Erudite Redneck said...

I might have to try to find "Biff."

And if you ever find a copy of an '80s book by a Brit journalist called "God: The Ultimate Biography," get it. Yer eues won't get misty but they might water from yua laughin' so hard. :-)