Concerning mental health, Jack White, and my mother’s death (sort of)…

I’ve filled my week with movies about madness.

The other night I revisited one of my all-time favorite films, The Lighthouse (DIR: Robert Eggers). It’s this character study on isolation, paranoia, and survival. There’s nightmare sequences featuring sea monsters and sirens and even some old-timely sailor folklore that drives one of the characters (well, I suppose it affected them both in this way, really) into a murderous rage. It’s beautifully shot in black and white. One of those films where every frame is a work of art. If you haven’t seen it, you should see it. Eggers has a new film coming out later this week, The Northman. I watched his first two films in their initial theatrical run, and I’ll definitely be doing the same with this new film.

Another film I spent time with this week is lesser-known, at least I had never heard of it before, Frank Perry’s David and Lisa. I was just scrolling through my seemingly never-ending to-watch list on the Criterion Channel and stumbled upon this gem. I don’t remember adding it, but I’m happy I found it. The movie is far from perfect, but I really enjoyed the two main characters and a handful of the scenes hit me pretty hard emotionally. There’s one scene in particular, when the patients of a psychiatric treatment facility visit a local museum, that really broke my heart. I won’t give away the details, but I will post a not-so-spoilery screenshot of the moment I’m referring to, just because it’s beautiful and needs to be seen.

Screenshot from David and Lisa (1962)

So many films about mental health are bogus and shallow. I really enjoy reading and watching stories that present this theme in a warm way, a very real, truly human way. It’s something I’m hoping to achieve with my Bedlam Bible books. I just don’t think there’s enough of these kinds of stories in the world.

Anyway, so besides those two films, I’ve also watched Spider-Man—No Way Home and Turning Red for the 2,365th and 3,232nd time, respectively. I’m a parent. We have three children in our household, so I have to sneak the madness films in between multiple viewings of whatever it is they’re into at the moment. That’s how it goes. You know how it is. I really enjoy watching those films with them as well. We have a good time on our family movie nights. It’s good for all our souls.

I’ve also been reading. I’m currently enjoying John Lurie’s memoir The History of Bones. It’s essentially just ranting over mildly entertaining events from his past, but I like the way he speaks (writes, whatever, I mean I can hear his voice as I’m reading, so it doesn’t really feel like writing to me), the way he phrases things. I’ve always liked his music and enjoyed him in the few things I’ve seen him in: Down By Law, Fishing With John, and Painting With John (and looking at his IMDB credits now I see he was also in Wild at Heart, Strangers in Paradise, Permanent Vacation, Oz, Paris Texas, and The Last Temptation of Christ, and even though I’ve seen and enjoyed these films/shows, for the life of me I can’t remember what characters he played). The book is thick and sometimes there’s as many as three different stories typed out on a single page, so the thing is chock full of stories. I’m looking forward to getting them all inside my head, even if they don’t all stay in there.

I like to read multiple books at a time, because I like to have something for every one of my many moods, that way I’m always in the right mindset to move forward with something whenever I find myself with a little time. So I’ve also been reading Agustina Bazterrica’s Tender is the Flesh, a simple, but powerful story about characters who live in a world where animal meat suddenly becomes unavailable, so the government makes cannibalism legal for survival purposes. It’s as disturbing and dark as you’d expect it to be, and… I can’t put it down. There’s a little more to it than that, but I won’t give away any more than I already have. If you enjoy brutally dark tales, maybe pick this one up.

My head is constantly digesting music. Some of it’s new, a lot of it is older stuff. I can never get enough music. This week I’ve really been digging Jack White’s latest, Fear of the Dawn. Every single track is fantastic. Somehow he managed to give us something we both were expecting and totally not expecting. It’s familiar, yet surprising. It’s heavy and fast and experimental. He takes us places we’ve never been to before, and it’s one hell of an auditory journey. It’s worth noting this is the first record Jack allowed himself to record digitally. He’s always been an analog guy. He recorded this one during the pandemic and recorded nearly all the instruments himself. It’s an impressive accomplishment. And I had the chance to hear him perform a chunk of it live on Wednesday. I’ve seen Jack live somewhere around 10 times now. I’ve seen him in every incarnation: The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather, and solo. I’m happy to report he’s still got it. Not only that, but I think he still has plenty more good years ahead of him. And his next album comes out in July!

I also had the opportunity to see a true legend in concert in the last week: Sir Elton John. He’s 75 and in tip top shape (well, as far as his performance—physically, he seems to have somewhat of a difficult time walking, which was sad to see—but man, he can still play and sing his ass off). I’m so thankful that I not only got a chance to see him live before he retires (this is is farewell tour), but also because I got to share this experience with many of the people I love the most in life. Such a great night. One to remember, for sure.

Despite the busy week (and all the Easter festivities with the kiddos today), I somehow still managed to write about 2,000 words, not including however many words this blog post ends up being. I’m feeling good about things. I’m almost afraid to say it for fear of jinxing it. I spent some quality time with my dad, my stepmom, my brother, sister-in-law, and both my nephew and niece this week as well. It was a great visit. I really needed this week, after the last couple months of mostly depressed days (my mother passed away in February, so things have been difficult.) Taking it day by day. Maybe I’ll talk about that at some point, but today is not that day.

Is this too long for a blog post? Are any of you still with me? Maybe no one will read this at all. That actually might be nice. Maybe then I can get even heavier on the next post. Work some shit out.

Be good to one another.

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