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Mood

A couple of weeks ago, I watched a library DVD I'd borrowed: 1985's After Hours, a sort-of comedy Martin Scorcese directed. Good film, great cast — Griffin Dunne, Rosana Arquette, John Heard, Will Patton, Cheech & Chong, character actors like Dick Miller, up-and-comers like Linda Fiorentino — and energetic, as Dunne's character has misadventures in late-night Manhattan. Things escalate. It becomes more a thriller-comedy, but with a sad undercurrent because Dunne's character isn't relating well to the other people in the story.

It gets sadder: Arquette's character kills herself. Dunne's character deals (badly) with some of the aftermath of that, but his issues don't match whatever she'd gone through that led her to kill herself.

It got harder for me to watch the film after that. My main reaction afterward was Well, OK, I've seen that; maybe another viewing at a different time would have gone better. But at that time, I wasn't in the mood.

I've been more sensitive lately to how mood affects what I've been listening to or watching. I try to take care, in general: I've waited years since I watched Seasons 1 and 2 of The Walking Dead to watch more of that show, because I watched those two seasons too quickly and started to feel really sad. Overly so. I know that when I do tackle Season 3, as I hope to, I should be watching or reading something lighter and happier at the same time. Self-care is important.

The current novel I'm reading is fascinating, but also one I'm not sure I was really in the mood for: 1975's The Illuminatus! Trilogy, by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson. It's science fiction, in a way that seems could only have happened in the Seventies; it feels like Hunter S. Thompson wrote it. The book's energetic and often funny, but as it focuses on conspiracy theories on Who And What Really Run The World, it mainly reminds me that I find conspiracy theory to be exhausting. I've said it before, it's applying the rules of storytelling to the real world, in order to Explain! Things! It also reminds me that many of the people I've met who were into conspiracy theories thought themselves much cleverer than they really were ("I'm in on something you aren't, Clueless Person!"). It also also reminds me that the only conspiracy theory I'm amused by is this joke one on The Simpsons. The Illuminatus! Trilogy will probably be a "there, it's read" book for me, and not a "revisit it later" book for me.

Plus, I'd rather not be angry. To speak vaguely, because I'd rather not remember the specifics, a week or so ago I realized I was getting angry in a situation, so I left. While I dwelled on what had angered me, some of the music I'd been listening to came to mind: Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP, which I was borrowing via the Hoopla app on my tablet. It's a strong album and Eminem is a strong, clever, often funny rapper, but it's famously angry. It fit my mood, as I stewed, but I didn't want to stew. I didn't want to be angry. That influenced what music I borrowed next: Jay-Z's The Black Album. It's virtuoso rapping in other ways; it also has a wider variety of moods than the Eminem album, including more joy. (Plus anger, yes, and sardonic humor as Jay-Z deals with what angers him.) I felt better listening to this. It helped.

What prompted me to put down all these thoughts: two nights ago, I finished watching the latest season of Empire, a show I'm fond of and a show that's very dramatic to an overwrought point. And the fourth-season finale was even more overwrought, ending the season not so much on a high note as a "Whaaaaaaa?!" note. I was wide-eyed afterward. I wanted a happier chaser. Since I'd watched Empire on the FoxNow app, I looked up Brooklyn 99 on it. I was a little disappointed that since I'd last watched, all this season's episodes had been locked: I'd need to enter info I don't have in order to watch it. So I didn't. But the next day, still wanting something light and silly, I borrowed a film via Hoopla: one of the recent episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000, making fun of the 1978 Star Wars ripoff Starcrash. Bad effects! A robot with a drawl! Out-of-place T & A! And that's before the hosts add their witticisms. I've been watching that, and chuckling.

Chuckling helps.