Hot Reviews: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

I did it, guys. I stayed up all night and read the new Harry Potter book. It’s a different format than I’m used to when it comes to Potter fare, so it took a bit of adjustment, but I was immediately intrigued by adult Harry Potter as he muddled his way through life. After that, the script treatment didn’t faze me much.

I don’t want to spoil it for you so I’ll keep this pretty vague. First off, Harry seemed overly concerned with what everyone wore. According to the stage directions, they accomplished this by having a narrator present his internal monologue, which must have been difficult to present live. I can only imagine all the actors standing, frozen, while Harry mentally lists each article of his guests’ clothing and the specific Diagon Alley shops from which they were purchased.

When the characters actually spoke they seemed to spend most of their time arguing about where they were going out to eat. These arguments would often take place until all the restaurants they wanted to go to were closed.

There were also a few strange interludes where the stage would darken and Harry would step to the front and deliver a ten minute monologue on the merits of Genesis. Yes, the band with Phil Collins. I wondered if this was some sort of inside joke, like when the writers of Avenue Q created a character called Gary Coleman and had him played by Gary Coleman until it went off Broadway, but Phil Collins never actually showed up.

There’s so much more I could tell you but I am physically exhausted from working the midnight release and plowing through the book in the wee hours of the morning. Harry certainly has grown up. From his morning facial care routine to his tedious work out schedule, it’s apparent that he’s no longer bothered by trivial pursuits like snogging Cho Chang. This guy is an animal.

When you get to the scene at Gringotts with the cat, you’ll see what I mean.

Welcome back, Harry.

1066

After my parents divorced in 1989, my siblings and I were with my father every other weekend. He had to keep us entertained on Friday and Saturday night, and if there was anything good on (and sometimes even if there wasn’t) we’d go to the Malco to catch a flick. Regardless of the movie situation, though, we almost always went to Hastings.

For those of you who don’t know, Hastings Entertainment is (soon to be was) a retail enterprise based out of Texas. Right now they have over 100 stores, all undergoing a liquidation sale. Since the Great Recession (I refuse not to capitalize that) we’ve seen the fall of music stores followed by the fall of bookstores. This has caused me no shortness of trepidation as a bookseller, for all my crying over retail life. Chalk it up to the duality of man, Private Joker.

Hastings was a variety store with a bit of everything, which included all the crap you’d find in a GameStop (previously Babbage’s) or a Spencer’s or a Hot Topic. I’m pretty sure that most of them had a coffee shop eventually, although it wasn’t the case when I was a child. They even did buybacks in their later years, which is a process familiar to customers of GameStop. The local Game X Change might be the only remaining place in town to sell a used DVD. I’m not sure how the employees handled the never-ending pawn shop process of fencing what must have been, at least occasionally, stolen merchandise, but they seemed to weather it well. Hastings was a pretty rad amalgam of things, if you ask me, but apparently it was also a beast too strange to survive in these times.

There was another Hastings, years ago, before it took on the atmosphere of Fred Sandford’s yard. It was like Blockbuster and Borders had a baby, on steroids. They rented computer games, if you can imagine that. The games were mostly CD-ROM, but I’m pretty sure DRM wasn’t even a thing then. Most people probably didn’t have the equipment to copy them. We often shopped the shareware endcap and bought cheap versions of things like Hugo’s House of Horrors or Wolfenstein 3D on floppy disk.

The book department was huge and diverse. I still have a copy of Expedition, by Wayne Douglas Barlowe, which Dad bought for me there. I used to stare at it for hours on end. I still own other books from that era, but most of them were purchased by him or myself at Waldenbooks in the Indian Mall. Oh, the Indian Mall. That’s a story for another day.

The walls at Hastings were stacked high with VHS tapes. The music department was a small square in the center of the store with its own information desk. There was still a fairly large section of cassette tapes, although they were being phased out in favor of CDs. The newsstand was full of newspapers! Those dinosaurs were packed in like a university library. In early days they’d have a recent issue from just about every major city in the United States. Dad loved to flip through those. We’d leave him there and scatter to the winds. Oh, the days when parents just set kids loose in stores. Not that people don’t still do it, but then it wasn’t the exception.

I have Dad and Hastings to thank for my early film education. We spent many nights lounging about in his condominium, and later his house, watching whatever he’d picked out. I don’t recall having much of a choice. One time he forced us to watch Raging Bull and he turned it off halfway through while apologizing. I was actually enjoying it but guilt had taken hold of him for some reason.

There were other times when we soldiered on. He rented Glory one night and, well, I don’t want to spoil it for you, but everyone dies. It’s been out for over twenty-five years, okay? Anyway, it might have been the greatest movie I had ever seen at that point in my life, and the 54th had just gotten slaughtered while charging Fort Wagner. I was beside myself with grief. While I sobbed, my old man said, “Don’t you cry for those Yankees.” My father was not a hateful person but he was definitely a product of his upbringing. I do suspect, however, that he was attempting to interject levity into an emotional situation. He was not so comfortable with open displays until his later years, and this was the sort of tension breaker he employed at times.

We always returned our tapes (later, DVDs) in the big green metal return box that still sits outside the store. There used to be one of those swing out mailbox-style handles on the front but it has long since been cut off and replaced with a welded-on chute. Dad used to call it the “idiot test” in reference to the common compulsion to pull the handle again in case the rental hadn’t fallen in properly. I’m not sure, though, if one was an idiot for double checking or for not checking. I have a feeling it was the former. I still do the same thing at the post office. Every single time I smile and think idiot test.

I don’t reckon the metal box will remain, but the building will. Just like the Goodwill, which used to be a Books-A-Million, which used to be a Kroger, right next to the Burlington Coat Factory, which used to be a Kroger, which used to be a Wal-Mart, across from the street from the current Kroger, which sits on the lot of the demolished Indian Mall. My, Jonesboro, how you have changed. I work in a bookstore that sits where cow pasture once was not much over a decade ago. I used to ask Dad when they were going to put something out there. It seemed strange to have such a large empty lot in what was becoming the middle of town. He’d wonder too, at the cost, which he reckoned would be in the millions. As far as I know, it was.

When I was a lad, I always wanted to work at Empire Records. I was a Nineties post-grunge neo-hippie longhair who spent most of my afterschool days hanging out at Spun Doctors. My friends and I were shit silly fuckers, still scared of Marilyn Manson, and we’d stock up on all the psychedelic, hard, and hair rock we’d missed. I guess I couldn’t have known my elementary years spent at the Trumann Public Library, which was not 100 yards out my backdoor from ages five to 18, would have been an experience that would mate and conglomerate with my later interests and give birth to this bald, bespectacled suspender-sporting bookseller. Where I ended up seems obvious in hindsight, but it just as easily could have been Hastings.

We take too many photos now, but I wish we had taken more then. It was cumbersome and expensive, but it is not lost on me that I have 50,000 photos of things I’d rather not remember, and few to none of the things nowhere real, only knocking around dusty and dented in this old brain. Instead I’ll catalogue every place I walked with my father, each blade of grass, each pavement stone. Shitty Internet Sisyphus. This is how I occupy myself until it’s my turn to be remembered.

Hastings, you old heap of knicknacks. Into the great unknown mystery, you go first. Perhaps we’ll meet again, in a parking lot where the pavement doesn’t heat past sweltering, but I do not hold out much hope for that.

This is not a political post

On this site, I keep my political opinions to shittily crafted allegorical tales starring children with obvious pseudonyms. My friends know that I have no shortage of crappy ideas about how the world should work, and those are best shat out elsewhere. Thing is, I’m not a political scientist. I’m often wrong, or just as correct as the average guy, which is not correct at all.

This particular political season is doing me in, along with the rest of America, and it is an understatement to say that I am preoccupied. In all actuality I am fucking disturbed and I think that many of you are as well.
I know you are, because I see the pain and fear which often blossoms into rage.

Today while I was ranting, as I do, someone pointed out that perhaps we could focus some of this energy on something we control more than .0000004% of.

This notion is so beautiful in its simplicity. I will expound on it a bit further. How about doing something for someone, anyone, large or small, including ourselves? How about focusing on what we can do now, today, not excepting all those other worries (which are obviously important), but in addition to them?

So here is what I did.

Years ago, during a crisis I have forgotten because there are so fucking many, someone posted a list of reputable charities. I have given to this one before and I thought that today might be a great time to do it again. Here’s the description from their site:

Did you know homeless families now represent the majority of the homeless population of DC? Protect healthy child development and happy childhood memories while children are living in shelter – learn more about the Homeless Children’s Playtime Project at www.playtimeproject.org

So that’s what I did today. Oh, and I spent time with my wife, my children, my in-laws, and my mother. Gina’s folks brought over a huge basket of vegetables fresh from the garden. I prepared lunch. I shared this. After I hit publish, I’m going to play Lego with Cora, or Play-Doh if she insists.

I’m not telling you what to do. I’ve tried that and have thus far been unsuccessful.

There are people, though, who have great interest in getting you to talk about them every waking minute to the point of breakdown, and that’s what I would kindly request you consider not doing. Then, with that sliver of free time, engage in another thing. That’s all.

It’s so small, but it’s also everything.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

FADE IN:

EX. MINISTRY OF MAGIC – DAY

In the heart of London, a busy street bustles around an otherwise nondescript building.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. MINISTRY OF MAGIC – OFFICE OF MUGGLE STUDIES – DAY

HARRY POTTER, 36, struggles with a large grey plastic piece of hardware.

HARRY
Fuck.

RON WEASLEY, 37, is, with great concentration, typing something at his desktop computer hunt-and-peck style.

RON
What’s that, Harry?

HARRY
Why do they insist on sending a fax?

RON
I hear it’s all the rage these days with the muckles.

HARRY
You mean muggles.

RON
No, it’s short for fucking muggle. Quite brilliant, actually. I found it on this MySpace.

HARRY
Ron, it’s 2016. I’m certain everyone has moved on to Google Plus by now.

A phone begins to ring. Harry looks around the device he’s fiddling with and picks up the handset. The ringing continues. He slams down the receiver on the fax machine and marches over to his desk. There is a large, block style portable phone ringing there. He snatches it up and stares at the keypad for a beat before furrowing his brow, slowly extending a finger, and carefully mashing a button.

HARRY
Uh, hello?

The voice on the phone is frantic and indecipherable.

HARRY
Yes. Yes. Mhm. Yes, dear. Well, I can take care of that. Yes, dear. Yes. Just relax, I’ll take care of it. Yes. Of course dear. Certainly. I-. Yes. Okay.

Harry pulls the phone away from his face and presses the button as cautiously as he did the first time, then he places it, gingerly, on his desk.

RON
Trouble?

HARRY
Yes.

RON
Ginny, I presume.

HARRY
Yes. It’s our child. He’s cursed.

RON
Bugger. You want to have a look at this? It’s a page full of hamsters, and they seem to be dancing.

HARRY
Yes, Ron. I’d like that more than anything in the world.

It’s Just Great

On Sunday, July 10th, my ex-wife flipped her car with the kids in it. The car was destroyed. They were not.

I have to lead off with this because I’m not going to build suspense with my kids’ lives. Next time, on Talbots in Trouble!

Everyone is fine now, physically at least. The kids still talk about it constantly. The first thing Cora said this morning when I went to pick them up was, “Hey Dad, do you remember when Mom and me and Bea were covered in blood when the car crashed?” I keep telling her that everything is going to be okay.

Everything is going to be okay.

It’s been over a week since I’ve written anything other than shitty Facebook comments. Something has happened to me. I’m fine. Everything is great. I had a nightmare about a cemetery full of bouncy houses, but everything is great.

Oh, I did write a terrible poem about current events, but then more current events happened, as they do, and it seemed like trash after that. I can’t juxtapose pop culture references and violence and act all, “Ha ha! I am the poetry guy coming in from the side to fucking wreck the narrative!” anymore. I’m in this mess like everyone else. I’m filthy with it, but everything is going to be okay. It’s great. I’m great.

The only thing I can do right now is forge ahead. I have to squat and pass this constipated mess and then, maybe, something will come after. Maybe I’ll need to whine more. I can do that too. Everything is going to be great.

This is fine.

Everything is fine.

Everything is going to be okay.

You don’t have to argue anymore

Do you want to know what the problem is? I’m here to tell you.
See, I just clicked on an article and read two lines before I applied all my previously held biases, then I got bored by the end of the first paragraph and assumed everything I previously knew to be true, which is that I am correct.

My hundreds of hours of Internet research and thousands of hours lived, raised, and programmed by people who think exactly like I do have led me to this well thought out point: I have solved all the world’s problems with this post on the Facebook wall of a local news station.

Hear me out. I may not have things like experience outside my small town. I may not have “traveled”. I may not have spoken to people who don’t look or act like me except for this one guy! Oh man that guy isn’t like me at all and he loves me! He’s great and he has a girlfriend. Oh man she is from somewhere else and we get along great. I’ve passed muster now. We can talk about this. I am the authority.

Not to mention that I don’t require instruction on these matters. I’m a self-starter, just like my father and his father before him. They toiled the fields and made what they had from nothing! Absolutely nothing. They came to this wide free empty promised land and just took what they needed and made it into something. Why can’t these people do it?

I know these things to be true because I can look around and see that it is so. I have two eyes that work. I graduated high school. Sure, maybe I haven’t read a book about it, or taken a course on it, but how are you doing with that fancy college education? Go ahead and make mine a Venti. No, a Trenta! There you go, smarty pants. Why are you behind that counter and I’m over here, self-made business owner, just like my dad and his dad and his dad? Maybe I know a thing or two.

Bottom line is, guys, I’ve figured this shit out. I’m here to tell you about it and if you don’t like it go home and cry in your millennial lives matter coffee brewing panties. Just because I see something that doesn’t mesh with the other 99% of my lived experiences doesn’t mean I’m going to just change my mind. I bet you wishy washy infants go changing your mind constantly. Is that what you call learning? I call that not knowing how to be the Captain of your ship. I steer this shit straight.

Pardon my French, but it’s just how I feel. You can take it to the bank. My friends like these ideas. So do the fine readers of the KKKK News Facebook Page. Over 150 likes and growing.

Maybe I should take this wisdom to a larger audience. Maybe I should run for city council. Hell, I could be a State Representative.

Now I like the sound of that.

There’s Something to Be Said for Escapism

Did you ever go to the movies back before someone invented stadium seating? Sometimes there was even a dip in the middle of the theater and then the row elevation would start going back up again towards the front. Oh, the despair of sitting in the dip, especially as a child. If it wasn’t wintertime and you didn’t have a puffy jacket to sit on, good luck staring at the back of some old dude’s head for an hour and a half.

Did you ever see one with a curtain? A real curtain that drew back before the movie began? When I say “before the movie began” I mean right before, because there were three trailers, max. Back then we called them previews. You might have five minutes to make it if you were running late. These days you have about twenty.

The first film I really remember seeing in a theater was E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial. There was a muppet movie in there somewhere too. I know for a fact that I saw The Muppets Take Manhattan, but I’m pretty sure I recall one before that. It had to have been The Great Muppet Caper. I could be wrong.

I used to lie to my friends and say that I saw Return of the Jedi at the movies. That’s bullshit. I’m pretty sure Mom and Dad went, though. It used to be such a badge of honor, before the Internet, before DVDs, during the dawn of VHS and Laserdisc. It was such an accomplishment if you saw it on the big screen. You’d witnessed something historic, right? Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, opening night, I was there. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, I was there. Ghostbusters 2? Hell yeah.

I lost a baby tooth to a milk dud during The Neverending Story 2, which was the most notable thing that occurred that day. Even as a kid I thought, “Wow, this is a trainwreck.”

Dear Old Dad usually took us on Friday night. It wasn’t always kids’ fare, either. Yeah, we saw Hook but we also saw Terminator 2 and Robocop 2. As long as it was rated R for violence it was fair game. I’m pretty sure the first pair of onscreen titties I saw was when Mom took us to see Under Siege for my 12th birthday. Thanks, Mom.

I remember seeing a lot of weird 1970s movies in the theater but I’m pretty sure that happened when the day care center loaded us up and took us to town for the morning reruns at Malco. During the summer they’d show Benji or some odd thing. I’m pretty sure they still do that over at Hollywood Cinema.

Dude. Santa Claus: The Movie, that big ol’ Coca Cola advertisement. Saw it. Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, back before Tim Burton became a caricature of himself. Saw it. Just Google “1985 movies” and you probably need to watch every one of those. Back to the Future and Teen Wolf came out the same damned year. Real Genius? I’ve seen all those films, most of them on HBO the year or so after they came out. HBO, God bless ya’. If we weren’t watching MTV it was HBO, and here I stand, an 1980s kid who has seen Revenge of the Nerds back when you either had to whip out that little paper guide to find it or rewind it when you were done.

Speaking of rewinding, if we weren’t catching it on cable, we had to hoof it on down to Jan’s Video in Trumann, Arkansas, and rent it for a dollar. I’m pretty certain it was fifty cents at one point. We usually rented NES games, or a Turbographix 16 on special occasions, but when we did rent movies it was usually something with Jim Varney in it. My brother, Blake, had a particularly eclectic taste for films. I’m pretty sure he rented Garbage Pail Kids: The Movie at least a dozen times. Unless the rental records of Jan’s Video still exist in some dusty filing cabinet somewhere, I guess I’ll never know the exact number of times I was subjected to that horror.

There’s a point to this.

I haven’t been able to write lately. I’ve been staring at the Internet with my jaw dropped open, stunned into silence. I don’t think I have anything particularly insightful or interesting to add. My personal problems pale in comparison, really, so I can’t talk about those either. Having to deal with the stress of chronic understaffing at my thankless job seems small when people are dying in the streets. Stupid political arguments about this farce of a Presidential race seem insignificant. It’s best to lock my jaw in position, shove these flying fingers into my pockets, and soldier on.

It’s the height of narcissism to think that my rad tweets, dank memeposts, shitty poems, or salty screeds would change anything. I can’t do it anymore. Not today.

If anyone needs me I’ll be at the movies.

Don’t try this at home.

I don’t know what the 4th of July meant to you as a child, but to us it always meant war. It was an arms race of burned fingers and fireworks. The city park was ablaze. Our house was situated on one of the surrounding streets and our backyard bled right into acres of grass, rusty playground equipment, and vandalized pavilions. The park was our backyard on Magnolia street, one we were constantly having to protect from invaders.

It felt like the wild west. The fields were littered with broken glass. Our garden was often robbed of its fruit, or sometimes just ransacked for the hell of it. We did our own damage, of course, beating the bark off trees with sports equipment and lighting grass fires.

Independence Day was no exception. Any time fireworks were being sold, there was violence to be had. There’s nothing like repeatedly flicking a depleted lighter with numb, burned fingers in the frigid black of New Year’s Eve while being charged by someone with a battery of Saturn Missiles. We’d carry lit punks in our teeth like machine gunners chomping a Parliament. Some of the rougher kids probably skipped the metaphor altogether and used a cig.

I do not know how we weren’t permanently maimed. We were burned plenty, first and second degree, and it wasn’t uncommon for a Roman Candle bazooka to backfire and end up cooking someone’s hand.

My aptly named friend, John Adams, had always invented some new contraption for firing bottle rockets without getting sparked. The other neighbor kids did, as well, and our innovation approached Butter Battle Book levels of ridiculousness. By our later teens we made grenades with medicine bottles and gunpowder. This was before, back when you could draw a map of the school on fire and maybe elicit a chuckle from your teacher. We just liked blowing shit up. Who doesn’t?

I salute all you old pyromaniacs, you engineers of grade school combustion. Here’s to unsupervised childhoods survived. Here’s to nitrate nostalgia. Here’s to fingers, intact.

Bird

Today the kids and I ventured into the backyard and the first thing I saw was a robin hanging from one of my patio chairs by a string. Its leg was snared by some of the random playtime trash we have floating around back there. I immediately thought of the anti-pollution ads of my childhood, the turtles and seagulls tangled in beer can rings. I wasn’t in the past for long because the thing flapped when I approached. Even now I’m trying to make it an object by calling it a thing, as if it would stave the guilt of leaving kite line unattended. The bird had beaten the hell out of itself and it bled from the ass and the mouth. Fuck.

The babies regarded it with interest and not much alarm. They’re pretty brave when it comes to animals. Just a month ago, a baby bird on its first flight landed on Cora’s chest. She yelped for a moment when it took off, but she was otherwise fine. We had to chase the little guy around the garage for a bit and captured it and placed it on the neighbor’s shed. It hopped and glided from surface to surface until it made it back into our pecan tree. I wondered if this one was related to that one. Surely it wasn’t the same.

I ducked into the house and retrieved a rubber glove. “Ain’t no way I’m touching a random bird,” I said. The girls observed as I cut it loose with my small keychain Swiss Army knife. The robin panted and its eyes were half open. I’m not sure how many bones it had broken, but it was a non-zero amount. It didn’t attempt to fly away and I picked it up without any fuss. They followed as I carried it to the front yard.

I didn’t want to mercy kill this thing, especially in front of my children, but I knew it could not be saved. I sat it on a low branch in the oak tree in the front yard. Its good foot gripped hard and its eyes opened wide, then it fell straight down. I don’t know if it died in my hand or when it hit the ground, but when I bent down, it was dead. Huge eyed, floppy necked, wings folded, dead.

“Well kids,” I said, “time to get the shovel. We’ll bury it in the spooky forest.”

That’s what Cora calls the shady area between the place I park my truck and the back fence. There’s a large pecan tree there, and it makes a dark hollow even in broad daylight.

I dug a hole, which took a couple of minutes because the ground is dry, and told Cora that we had to bury it so it could go back to the earth. “That’s where we all come from,” I said. We’ve done this before. Her first was a roadkilled box turtle a year ago, so she knows the drill. Bea farted around in the background doing something or other. Cora observed. When I was done digging, I paused and said, “Isn’t it pretty?”

“Yes,” she said.

“Now we have to put it underground,” I said, and I did.

When we do this, we are solemn but we’re not particularly sad. Cora can still throw a tantrum over a cookie but at these times she’s far older. I want to impart on her that we can be kind to small things and treat them with respect, even in death. There was a moment, before I started digging, when I had to rest the bird atop our garbage can.

“Don’t throw it away,” Cora said.

I assured her I would not. Like I said, she knows the drill.

I love the sound of banjos in the morning

You may or may not have heard of a band called Belle and Sebastian. They wrote an album, during which they must have been listening to a lot of Velvet Underground. I like that one. There’s another later album that they recorded while they must have been listening to the Beach Boys. That one is pretty good, too.

I am not a music reviewer.

I am also by no means an expert, but I do know what I like to listen to while I sit in my backyard and stare at the sky. It varies, really. Today I started on Carter Burwell’s theme from Raising Arizona, then I tried out “10,000 people sing Ode to Joy” but I wasn’t into it, which is weird because I’m almost always into Ode to Joy. After a certain number of singers, the quality of a choir declines towards the cacophony of crowd noise and that takes something out of it, for me at least.

From there I decided to completely reboot and I jumped around from Lorde to Miley Cyrus to Avril Lavigne. I didn’t finish any of those. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not shitting on them in particular. I will sing “Party in the U.S.A.” in the shower and to my kids at bedtime, but today it wasn’t Staring into the Sky Music.

I have come to love my backyard. My shitty, weed-filled backyard. My mother covered about 1/3 of it with plastic and rubber mulch, I covered the other 1/3 with paving stones, and the other 1/3 is nasty, scrubby bare ground spotted with unwanted growth. I need to get some Roundup, again. Bless you, Monsanto. Bless the food, bless the cancer, bless the dead patch in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, but most of all bless my fucking backyard, may I never weed-eat it again.

I’m going to get around to salting the earth and bricking the rest over, I swear, just like I swear I’m going to fix the garage ceiling and the hot water in the downstairs bathroom.

It is good that I have found this refuge. I used to spend hours attempting to work out how to achieve some level of comfort and, sometimes, frisson, because it’s not just relaxation I need. It’s a stirring. Years ago, before I was a father, I spent hours drinking and blasting whatever music I could in an attempt to get that chill. Now, I am sure, I was trying to recreate the feeling of performing for a crowd. I missed it that much, marching on a football field at halftime, sitting on a stage in Toronto or Orlando with a trumpet in hand, standing in a shitty club in Memphis holding a microphone. I thought I could replicate it with substances and sound. Often, I did.

It really doesn’t take that much mental maneuvering, though. I’ve found, after decades of struggle, that all it really takes is a relaxing place and a song. The best time I’ve had recently was blasting the Superman theme by John Williams on my phone, which I have taken to holding to my head like an old transistor radio when I don’t have headphones handy, and flying Beatrix around the driveway with my left arm.

If I live 1,000 years (doubtful) I won’t be able to beat that with a stick.

Life may not be about feeling good all the time, but in my experience, it damn well is about trying to. There are multi-billion dollar industries based on it. I’ve finally realized that when everything starts to crush in on me, work, politics, expectations, it’s time for a song. It’s time to dance. It’s time to press reset and listen to Katy Perry because I’m not too cool to do that, guys.

This isn’t supposed to be advice. Maybe your happy place is listening to Manson, or Whitney Houston, or K-Pop, or 311. This isn’t a defense of music, either. I mean, that happens on its own. I’m not going to tell you how to wipe your ass, either (front to back).

I used to think it was hard to live, but I’ve seen people who actually had a hard time living. Either their hardware breaks before the software does, or vice versa, and that’s all she wrote. It’s usually not hard to wake up every day, and this is coming from a guy whose first words when his left foot hits the ground every single day are, more often than not, sigh “fuck.”

What is hard, to me, is dealing with that shit. Dealing with monotony. Dealing with the world of garbage beyond my control. Dealing with the night, which is dark and full of terrors (thanks, George). In the Church of My Backyard, however, I get to enjoy the combined musical works of humanity and, thanks to modern technology, all I have to do is move my finger.

Sometimes it isn’t easy. Sometimes everything is ash in my mouth, and that’s the other side. Sometimes all I can do is hold someone and hunker down under the barrage. It passes.

These aren’t instructions. You can’t repeat it. Sorry guys, coupon may only be redeemed once. I’m the guy who doesn’t know anything, remember? I hate to keep including this disclaimer (I know that I know nothing), but it would be reckless not to. I take no responsibility for your happiness or lack thereof. There, my imaginary spiritual attorney is at ease.

From here, though, clinging to this cliff face, I can yodel that it ain’t all that bad. Not nearly. Not today.