Five Tracks That Got Me Through Young Stupid Adulthood

alternative rock audiocassettes

Yep. Those are cassettes. This is how old I am.

If I learned anything after the fact from Buffy‘s depressing sixth season, it’s that our early 20s is when we humans are prone to committing our worst mistakes, making our stupidest decisions, missing our best opportunities, undergoing our darkest times, and discovering all the best reasons to fear and loathe ourselves. For many people those were also hallmarks of their teenage years, but I was a late starter on the journey to self-flagellation.

A childhood in which I was raised to “find my own path” (read: wander blindly through life’s shadowy forests without a tour guide or even a working flashlight) left me with very few tools for suffering the worst trials and shouldering the heaviest burdens, too many of which I brought on myself. By age thirty a series of improbable coincidences and extensive rethinking sessions had led me at long last to an illuminated trail that’s taken me toward much more reliable means and sources of support and encouragement than I ever had during my extended, two-time college-dropout phase.

Before I walked that way, all I had was music.

Of all the hundreds of songs that have caught my attention throughout my life, five in particular stand out as rare instances in which I was moved by music, moments of lyrical lucidity and emotional truth that resonated deep down in that mushy core whose existence the common guy denies, moments I returned to again and again for comfort, advice, consolation, deep thoughts, and/or a boost of spirit. These were five solid shots struck at the foundation of the oddly designed structure that passes for my life.

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The Experiment

This year for my birthday, my wife and I visited the Indianapolis Museum of Art because I wanted to see the traveling Ai Weiwei exhibit while it was in town. Fascinating collection of provocative, disturbing, convicting works and images.

My wife captured this thought, one of several typeset on the museum walls for the occasion.

Study questions:

If the artist works hard but doesn’t change any aspect of the world, not even a minute tweak, is the result still art? How many tries should they be allowed?

If the artist has no definitive aspiration, can they still effect change? What sort of deadline should we give them?

(Mood: contemplative. Music: Bob Mould, Black Sheets of Rain.)

Three-Hour Struggle to Craft Clever Way of Saying “Happy Thanksgiving!” Ends in Bitter Tears


I can haz turkee?

To anyone reading this, whether loyal reader or fleeting passerby:

In accordance with Bloggers Union Local 151 holiday bylaws, the following memorandum constitutes official notice that I, your humble entertainer for the next three to 120 seconds, hereby wish you and yours a blessed, happy Thanksgiving with utmost sincerity. For those residing outside the authorized Thanksgiving celebration zone, please enjoy your Thursday anyway, with or without turkey.

To comply with the aforementioned bylaws, this writer wishes to acknowledge the following with heartfelt thankfulness, probably in the wrong order:

* God, His son, and the Holy Spirit

* My amazing wife and my impressive son

* All other family members who communicate with me in any fashion outside holiday gatherings

* Whatever forces secretly keep America running without collapsing

* The creator of the four-day weekend

* Our dog (pictured), the most loving and amusing nonhuman in our household

* The manufacturers of this computer; the real inventors of the Internet; our current, ever-improving ISP; and the benevolent folks at

* My employers, more often than not

* My friends and compatriots in my various online communities, past and present

1000 Likes on WordPressParticularly near and dear to me this year are those who have read, followed, and actively supported me in my endeavors regarding my writing in general and this site in particular, now seven months old and not yet crashed or burnt. Any forms of feedback, from the simplicity of clicks to the extreme generosity of comments, have meant the world to me as I continue this process of exploration, experimentation, and indulgent navel-gazing. While the value of such input into my process is sometimes hard to quantify, the sensors insist that earlier this week marked MCC’s crossing of the 1000-Like threshold. I had no idea they tracked such statistics to that extent. I can’t believe they even have a dashboard icon for it (pictured). The longtime high-traffic bloggers among you probably enjoy this response level as a twice-weekly event, but a small fry like me is in no position to take any forms of encouragement for granted. Obviously I try not to rely on Likes as the foundation for my self-image, but I can’t deny that it’s nice to have some kind of measuring tool (no matter how unscientific) to confirm that I’m not necessarily applying this particular skill set on a daily basis entirely in vain.

Even if I am, at least my wife still thinks I’m cool. That’ll do.

Thanks for reading, supporting, and humoring me. Enjoy the day!

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