The most profound of these adult themes for me was that of mental illness. I struggled to think of any comics that have dealt with the subject at all, much less in such an unflinching and mature manner. In an industry that so often uses metaphor to tackle heavy subjects- a literal transformation into a monster to represent anger issues being a prime example- I was both shocked and relieved to see mental illness presented so directly. There’s no metaphor here, something that’s true of the rest of the book as well. Masturbation represents masturbation, sexuality is just sexuality, and mental illness is right there on the page, unfiltered. This isn’t a subtle commentary hidden behind more bombastic fare, nor is it an over-the-top caricature of “madness.” It’s a simple, messy, human thing that affects these characters in a very real way. At times slightly uncomfortable to read, the struggle of dealing with mental illness is presented to us as the complex thing that it is, and it is a very necessary story to tell.
Sometimes email newsletters are more than just junk. Tucked at the bottom of the latest update from Toad The Wet Sprocket was a list of Glen Phillips dates for his current solo tour. And what was top of the list? Two gigs here in the Netherlands, one tomorrow evening in Harderwijk, and one afternoon show this Sunday at the Sugar Factory in Amsterdam.
That’s my Sunday afternoon sorted out, then!
It has been a month and a half since my last mixed media post, and I’ve watched a lot of films and TV shows since then, and I haven’t been keeping track of them. So I’m declaring mixed media bankruptcy, or mixedmediaruptcy or something like that. Basically this is just a short summary of the stuff that left enough of an impression to warrant a mention. (To clear out the old to-do-list guilt in my head, so I can let some new in.)
Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky continues to be the best thing. Filled with thoughts about relationships, depression, growing up, and positively packed with sex jokes. And sex-activated superhero powers. They’ve really stepped up their game when it comes to the visual gags. For mature readers, duh.
Saga volume 4 remains likewisely brilliant.
Rat Queens, on the other hand, wasn’t nearly as good as I’d been hoping. It’s basically a D&D role-playing scenario, with lots of sass and swearing.
Fiona and I went to the cinema to see Seventh Son last weekend. It was not good. But we both enjoy going to the cinema for its own sake, and we’ve decided to do it more often. This afternoon we saw Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, which was entertaining. Because this month’s Loot Crate included a voucher for the Firefly online game, we’ve also been chain-watching Firefly this weekend. Alex and Fiona both adore it, and I’m loving seeing the old episodes again as well. So much good writing.
Alan Tudyk, Nathan Fillion, and PJ Haarsma are running an IndieGogo campaign that is probably of interest to Firefly fans:
A couple of weeks ago I chain-watched the first four seasons of The Walking Dead on Netflix. Whoa. Beyond compelling. Will be grabbing season 5 as soon as I can get the whole thing for download. (I don’t like waiting a week for each episode. We’re watching season 3 of Elementary once a week, but most of its stories are self-contained, and don’t end on massive cliffhangers.)
- John Wick was thrilling, I suppose, but also joyless and gratuitous. Just as I don’t enjoy video games where the sole (or main) purpose is to do lots of killing without thought of the consequences, I don’t enjoy “mindless action flicks” as much as I used to. It’s not the violence I mind, it’s the carelessness. The Walking Dead, for example is extraordinarily violent and gory, but you can see how it affects the characters. It grinds them down. It changes, and sometimes destroys them.
- Taken: see above. Joyless, thoughtless.
- Turks & Caicos and Salting the Battlefield are episodes 2 and 3 in the Worricker trilogy that started with Page 8. Both are good spy stories that round out the character and trilogy, but they’re not as tense and neatly wrapped as the first one.
- A Most Wanted Man is another solid, smart, modern spy story that doesn’t rely on car chases and punching faces.
- The Drop is a gritty story of small-time crime gone bad, but again without histrionics and no need for high-octane action. I liked this quite a bit.
- Rush is an intense biographical dramatisation with lots of amazing racing scenes, but it tries a bit too hard to be “worthy”.
- Big Hero 6 is great fun from start to finish.
- Nightcrawler is a beautifully dark portrait of a sociopath finding his calling. Fascinating and distasteful at the same time. Great performance from Jake Gyllenhaal.
- Godzilla had too many people just standing around looking awestruck. That might actually happen in a real giant-creature emergency, but given the choice on a re-watch I’ll take Pacific Rim.
- Silver Linings Playbook is very sweet and delightful, with lovely performances all round. Given my comments about action movies above, I really think I should spend more time watching romantic comedies.
I’ve also started in on season 6 of Criminal Minds, have been trudging through a few more episodes of Person of Interest (he still isn’t), and caught the first few episodes of The Blacklist while I was in NY, because Netflix US happened to have it. Oh and a couple of eps of Parks and Recreation as well. (Nick Offerman/Ron Swanson reminds me of Patrick Nielsen Hayden, but don’t tell him I said that.)
I suppose I’ve been watching rather a lot of TV & films lately. It’s what I’m doing to force my mind to relax. Sometimes it works.
I tend to book my travel to Edinburgh about 2-3 months ahead, in blocks of 1-2 months. The last time I was making bookings was back in January. I’m planning ahead for May & June now, and I was somewhat shocked when I looked at the exchange rate. “1.38? That can’t be right…” But it was.
(The GBP:Euro rate was at about 1.45 when we moved to the Netherlands back in 2007, but it has been way below that since then.)
Eventually I realized that when I receive a GPG encrypted email, it simply means that the email was written by someone who would voluntarily use GPG. I don’t mean someone who cares about privacy, because I think we all care about privacy. There just seems to be something particular about people who try GPG and conclude that it’s a realistic path to introducing private communication in their lives for casual correspondence with strangers.
Increasingly, it’s a club that I don’t want to belong to anymore.