Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Top Ten Tuesdays: What misconceptions do we have about our own religions?

Special extended intellectual religious limbo edition!

12) 2% of American Muslims believe blowing themselves up is a great way to meet girls.

11) 28% of female white Protestants believe they can’t have orgasms because they’re not mentioned in the Bible.

10) 34% of Episcopalians can’t believe they’re not Catholic.

9) 38% of Mormons believe they can take an additional spouse as long as it contributes to the story arc of the series.

8) 53% of Lutheran comic book fans believe their religion was formed by Lex Luthor.

7) 57% of Southern Baptists believe that Jesus made the ball go through the uprights.

6) 65% of atheists believe that a lack of belief in God gives them the divine right to be really goddamned smug about belief in God.

5) 69% of male Jews believe that a woman lying with a woman as if she were a man is a sign that G-d loves us.

4) 71% of California Buddhists believe “Buddha” is slang for “weed.”

3) 80% of Catholic Pat Benatar fans believe hell is for children.

2) 87% of Jehovah’s Witnesses believe there is a Ninth Beatitude, “Blessed are the annoying, for they shall pester their way into the Kingdom of God.”

1) 99% of Evangelical politicians believe that saying America has a Judeo-Christian heritage is the same as Americans knowing what the fuck that actually means.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Top Ten Tuesdays: What marches are we organizing?

Special inflated participation edition!

11) The Rally to Restore America’s Masonic Heritage (requires secret handshake)

10) The Furry-Up for Keeping Craigslist Freaky

9) The March for Jerking Around Rally Attendance Statistics

8) The Million Man Limp Against Erectile Dysfunction (consult doctor if event lasts longer than four hours)

7) The Rally for Stuff White People Like to Scream About

6) The Coven to Show Dumb Fucks What Witchcraft Really Is

5) The Waterboarding of Glenn Beck (at the National Reflecting Pool)

4) The Nominal Excuse for Writing Off Your Trip to D.C.

3) The Quest Against Virginity (meet on WoW at 24:00 GST)

2) The 500-Ton Buffet Against Mobility

1) The Single-Man March to Kidnap Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart Until One of Them Gives Me a Job.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Friday Rushdom 11

It’s one more Geddy than 10!

First, the bad news. My house drama had gotten more melo than mellow. It’s quite possible that this second deal may fall through because of a combination of greed and gall on the part of the buyers. I can’t tell if that is an upgrade from phantom cat pee as a reason to walk away from the deal. Actually, it is an upgrade, because then it’s most definitely them and not us.

I was rather depressed about this last night, as the thought of having to start all over again with selling the house made me want to just cave and get it over with. But The Lovely Becky (aka the Strong One) responded with “fuck them” (I may be paraphrasing). And she convinced me to say fuck them, too. It may be a buyer’s market. I may be somewhat desperate to sell, especially before the big, bad U.P. winter arrives. But the difference between accommodating and butthurt is consent, and I’m not consenting to being butthurt. I feel like I’m fighting off The Sisters in Shawshank Penitentiary. Maybe I’ll win, maybe I’ll lose, but at least I’ll take a swing.

However, the good news: I am going to see Rush this weekend!

I’m off to catch them with my old dungeon master, to revel in nerdom, to frolic in geekery, and maybe, just maybe, dine on honeydew. So this early edition of the Friday Random 11 will focus on my favorite band and my 30-year relationship with their music. For the h8rs, I will at least try to make it entertaining. And, as always, I welcome your ridicule in the comments.

1) “Tom Sawyer” Even my iPod knows where to start on a Rushdom 11. It’s the song that got me and millions of other budding nerds into the band. When I heard they were touring, I initially didn’t plan on going. Then I read that they were going to play ALL OF MOVING PICTURES! EVERY LAST SONG, EVERY LAST NOTE! OMFG!

Ahem. So I called my friend Tom, because the guy I had to go see Rush with was the guy I used to roll twenty-sided dice with.

2) “The Trees” The last time I saw them play this live, I yelled out “Fuck yeah!” as loud as I could. It was completely involuntary, like breathing or falling asleep after sex. It’s about trees and socialism and Canadian nationalism and lumberjacking. It’s fruitier than a mulberry bush. And yet I don’t care, because I air-guitar that solo every single time.

3) “Cinderella Man” My musical obsessions started in the fifth grade, after my parents gave me a boom box for Christmas. After an initial dabbling with Kenny Rogers Greatest Hits, I moved on to The Beatles, because I’d heard so many songs and thought Yellow Submarine was an awesomely weird movie. That gave way to months-long obsession with REO Speedwagon’s Hi-Infidelity, which in turn got me to pay more attention to new music and start taping off the radio. I liked a lot of rock and pop music, and I was just as likely to record AC/DC as I was Juice Newton.

One day I heard “Tom Sawyer” and really dug it. Rush was hitting their most popular stride, and one night the classic rock station set aside two hours to play all Rush (back when radio stations could do cool stuff like this). I took two of my Memorex tapes, full of The Knack and The Police and even Kool and the Gang, put scotch tape over the recording holes, and erased them so I could record the Rush marathon.

That’s when this Rush fan was born. I had no money then, and my family wasn’t that well off, so there were not many opportunities to buy albums. Instead, I played those two Memorex tapes over and over again for the next several years, until I got a job in high school and eventually acquired every Rush album. “Cinderella Man” was one of the last songs in the marathon and is the only time I’ve ever heard it on the radio.

4) “Between the Wheels” I was in eighth grade when Grace Under Pressure came out, and it was the first Rush album I bought on the release date (I saved my birthday money for the cassette.) My interest had been peaked by this song getting played a lot on the radio before the album came out. My mom took me to the record store (remember those?), and when we got home, I popped it into my boom box. I spent hours, literally, sitting on my bed listening to the album, just doing nothing but listening to it and letting my mind wander.

They dug this song out on the R30 tour (which I also saw with Tom), and it took me back to that time, to sitting on my bed and letting my mind make its own music video. I miss both having the time and the right imagination for doing that.

5) “Vital Signs” Did I mention that we’re going to he concert IN A LIMO? With a GIRL RUSH FAN?

Here is one of the great things about persecuted for your musical beliefs: You instantly bond with your fellow Rush nerds. Tom was having a neighborhood barbecue with his neighbors, including one woman named L. Somehow the subject of Rush came up (ed.-it was probably destiny). Tom sheepishly revealed he was a Rush fan. L revealed that she, too was not only a Rush fan, not only born with girl parts, but was also Canadian! That’s like finding a black unicorn.

L, it turns out, has some connections, and through said connections had limo to take her and some fellow fans to the concert. She invited us to come along. So I will get to drink and not drive to the concert in style. I may even stand up in the sunroof and take my shirt off.

Anyway, the reason I mention this is because Rush fans finding each other are like two Masons meeting in the produce section. They may keep their secret hidden, but they sense a force in the other. Tentatively, they make gestures and before you know it, they’re behind the bananas engaging in the secret handshake. And then sharing a limo to the next temple meeting.

L said she is dying to hear this song live, and because she has added an enzyme to my Rush digestive process, I hope they rock the shit out of “Vital Signs” for her.

6) “The Spirit of Radio” I also watched the new Rush documentary, Beyond the Lighted Stage, this week. My review would be, “Come for the kimonos, stay for the insightful interviews.” It was a great documentary, not just for fans, but also in examining how three Toronto misfits formed a super popular band by playing rock music that almost guaranteed its listeners would not get laid.

There’s a point, after they discuss Hemispheres—the album where the 18-minute title track details a battle between Apollo and Dionysus for the soul of humanity (no, really!)—that they said they were through with those kinds of albums. “The Spirit of Radio” was the first song off the next kind of album they were going to make. This song is not about Greek Gods or battles or black holes (also part of the story). Instead it’s a jab at the music industry and a celebration of music, wrapping up a cool riff, a catchy chorus, and a reggae-ish finale in five minutes. They would make those kind of style shifts every few albums.

I know a lot of Rush fans who long for the Hemispheres days, and who hate the style shifts, who wish they had made Hemispheres over and over again (a sentiment shared by some of the people interviewed in the documentary). But even though I dig the old stuff and haven’t always liked their shifts, I like that Rush keeps trying new things. It keeps them interesting to me, it keeps me buying their albums, and it ensures that no matter what they play on Saturday, I’ll be into it. Bonus: a little "Paint It Black" before they start the song.

7) “2112” (so long it takes two videos!) Twenty minutes. Seven parts. Three kimonos. Two instrumentals. One pentagram. This song is more or less a blueprint for why I became a Rush fan:

--It rocks hard. The problem I had with a lot of prog was that it was too soft. I was in junior high and, despite liking sports and being one of the bigger kids in class, I was kind of sensitive. I was a class clown buy not assertive. I liked music that had balls, because it made me feel like I had balls. This was pretty heavy stuff back in the days before Metallica. And...

--It’s chock full of science-fictiony goodness. I was always very creative, and between the ages of 10 and 15, my creativity was channeled mostly into fantasy and sci-fi stories. Because those stories are full of heroes, confronting cosmic evil, yadda yadda yadda. Plus, the hero in this story, after confronting the cosmic evil, kills himself at the end because he couldn’t quite overcome his evilness. That fed into my growing love of anti-heroes. Plus...

--It annoyed the cosmic shit out of my mother. What good is rock music if your parents like it?

8) “New World Man” The fantasy epics may have been what hooked me, but songs like these are why I stayed a fan. One of their songs I always prefer live because they crank up the rock quotient more.

9) “One Little Victory” It’s tough to rock out as you get older. First, I think there’s a natural impulse to mellow with age. Second, there’s perhaps a self-consciousness about trying to look young and instead looking like an old fool. Third, you are more likely to pull something.

In 2002, after a seven-year layoff, after their fiftieth birthdays, and after Neil Peart lost both his only daughter and wife, Rush came back with this song, a raging slab of heavy rock that kicked down the door. I may borrow that approach when I turn 50.

10) “Cygnus X-1” Even I have my limits. I didn’t even like this screeching sci-fi epic when I was in the target demographic for it. I’m taking a mulligan.

10) “Finding My Way/In the Mood (Live)” Much better. Dare I say catchy. This is the old, pre-Neil Peart Rush, singing about workin’, drinkin’, and amazingly enough, screwin’. They were practically slaves to their influences, and it reminds me of the early stuff I tried to write, where I was aping epic fantasy novels and gory horror stories. They do have riffs and chops galore, which I did not have way back then, and while riffs and chops alone may not make great music, they will get me on my feet and waving my hands in the air.

11) “Resist” And we go out with the lighters in the air. I would be lying if I said this doesn’t get me in the gut a little, especially with the unplugged treatment. Because, as I’ve said before, this band is the soundtrack to my life. I’ve moved a dozen times in the 30 years I’ve been a Rush fan, and for each of those moves, there’s a Rush album to go with them. Do I really think they’re the greatest band of all time? No. But are they my all-time favorite band? Hell yes. Every time I get some variation of the desert island album question, Moving Pictures is always at the top of the list. And now I get to go see them perform that all-time desert island disc in its entirety with a friend who has shared my Rush fandom for three decades.

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Top Ten Tuesdays: What's hurting us in the polls?

10) Screaming white people in intimidating breeches and tricorne hats.

9) Rumor that we will recycle all old people into Korans.

8) Failure to transform unemployed Americans to transform into employable Hispanics, Chinese, or Indians .

7) Audacity of government to rob us of our freedom to become ruined by crushing medical expenses.

6) Repeated attempts to win the blessing of voters least likely to give a shit.

5) Questions about our birth status when we couldn’t produce film of our mother giving birth to us onto a mat made of apple pie, next to an American flag, while a smiling Don Ho sings “Born in the U.S.A.”

4) Inability to articulate a plan to save America in less than 140 characters.

3) Ill-advised strategy of doing our own thinking instead of letting Jesus do it.

2) Constant discrimination against America’s marginalized, silenced, and downtrodden rich people.

1) Proliferation of polls saying that say we’re hurting in the polls.

Turning my sports pain into your reading pleasure

I am once again blogging about the Chicago Bears at NFL Blog Blitz. Since most comedy comes from pain, 2010 should be another rich year for this disgruntled Superfan.

I'm two posts into the season and have already compared this week's Bears victory to the Rod Blagojevich trial and made an allusion to Walt Whitman. My ultimate goal is to squeeze in a dick joke and an Emily Dickinson reference into the same post.

Next week: The Bears vs. Tony Romo's smile. I'm taking the smile and the points.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday Non-Random 1

I went to a funeral today. Pancake Z, one of Tickle's friends, lost his mom this week. Z demonstrated a large amount of fortitude in delivering a beautiful eulogy to his mother. I didn't know Z's mom but he made me wish I had, and I especially felt sad for her two young grandchildren. It's very tough to lose a loved one at an early age.

I came home and threw on some Drive-By Truckers, and this seemed rather appropriate.

I hope you have a good weekend and get to spend time with those you love.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Top Ten Wednesdays: Why are we outliving non-drinkers?

Special extra case of research edition!

11) Cancer cells way too hung over to report to work

10) Free market approach allows liver to decide what it wants to process

9) Inebriated state increases chances we’ll forget to get sick and die

8) Much more likely to get full eight hours of sleep after passing out at the beginning of the work day

7) Increased cardiovascular exercise due to frequent walks of shame

6) Negative nutritional benefits of late-night eating nullified by positive nutritional benefits of late-night vomiting.

5) Drinkers less likely to suffer from rectal bleeding due to lack of pole up ass about drinking

4) Strengthened immune system due to increased contact with disease-ridden dumpsters, bathroom floors, street gutters, and sexual partners

3) In the event of attack, a shattered beer bottle makes a much more effective weapon than plastic water bottle

2) Existence of irony increases likelihood of the drunkest person surviving a car accident

1) God’s will demands that water be turned into wine and not Propel

Friday, September 03, 2010

Friday Random 11

It’s one more random than 10!

When my dad turned 40, we bought him a T-shirt that said “40 and Sporty.” It was one of those cheap T’s with bubble-font lettering. He loved it and wore it pretty regularly. It was the kind of shirt you’d expect your dad to wear.

It suited him because it was the kind of funny shirt a man could wear. And my dad was indeed a man by the time he was 40. He had four kids, worked two jobs, served in a war, saw combat, saw his friends die, saw his father rot away from alcoholism...he saw all that shit and dealt with it, rose above it, and didn’t let it hold him back. After a lifetime of serious challenges, he was entitled to wear a goofy T-shirt.

I turn 40 tomorrow, and if I got a T-shirt that said “40 and Sporty,” I wouldn’t feel like I could wear it. I could wear it ironically, sure, but honestly I feel too old for ironic T-shirts. At the same time, I don’t see myself as a man the way I saw my dad as a man. I have a kid, but it’s only been for a couple years. The worst thing I’ve dealt with is infertility—a big problem but not the same as having your buddy die in your arms in a foreign jungle far from home. My dad worked hard, damn hard, to make sure we didn’t grow up the way he grew up, in a home with a broken-down father laid to waste by the bottle. Because of that, I didn’t have to struggle a lot, and frankly, it’s made me a little soft.

At the same time, I’m way more comfortable about turning 40 than I was about turning 30. My 29th year was fraught with angst about turning 30. I wouldn’t be “young” any more. I’d have to start wearing Dockers. I couldn’t listen to new bands without looking like an old poseur. Just thought after ridiculous thought popping into my head. The Lovely Becky even made fun of me in cake form, getting a cake in the shape of a tombstone that said “Here lies Brando’s youth.” (That cake was a masterpiece, with little chocolate crumbles for dirt.)

Then I went to bed, woke up, and realized I was the same dick-joke-loving doofus I was before, only a day older. It was one of the best lessons I’ve ever learned.

So even though I wish I was a little rougher around the edges, a little more battle-hardened, a bit more Don Draper (minus the serial adultery), I’m happy with where I’m at after four decades. Sure, as of tomorrow, any window I had to still be considered “a young man” will be forever closed. My foray back into exercise after a summer layoff has been my most painful yet. I’ve got gray chest hair.

I’ve also got a happy marriage, a great daughter, financial stability, and the first draft of a novel that has a shot at being a good and maybe even a great book. Thanks to the Internet and modern technology, I’ve got more than 10,000 songs on a device that’s a quarter of the size of a Walkman, and it’s filled with plenty of new groups as well as old guy standards. So fuck it, I’m ready for 40.

1) “Surrender,” Cheap Trick. We’re all alright, we’re all alright, we’re all alright, we’re all alright! My favorite song from the 70s. It’s so catchy, clever, rocking, and funny. It’s also aged incredibly well while still capturing a particular moment in time. Cheap Trick were also rather prescient, as the idea of mom and dad getting high while getting down on the couch while cranking Kiss sounds downright normal these days.

2) “Starship Trooper,” Yes. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve had a reduced tolerance for fantasy and science fiction writing.* A lot of it has to do with the writing itself—residual emotional scars from re-reading the Elric series as an adult and wondering how in the Stormbringer I had ever waded through Moorcock’s ridiculous prose in the first place. But movies, TV, and music still get a free pass, including a great Yes tune about sci-fi warriors floating through the sky. Worth it for Steve Howe’s epic flanged guitar alone. Bonus video coverage: Wall-to-wall sequined capes!

*Thankfully, writers like Cormac McCarthy, David Mitchell, and Max Barry have restored some of my faith in the genre.

3) “Blew,” Nirvana. Cobain is a cautionary tale on the price of not taking proper stock of one’s life. The death of the young and talented is sad when it happens by misadventure, but it’s downright tragic and infuriating when it’s done deliberately.

4) “Budge,” Dinosaur Jr. The music of J Mascis, on the other hand, has aged well, in part because I think Mascis is a bit of an old soul. Get beneath the youthful, noisy surface and there’s a lot of depth and maturity here. Video commentary: Everything looks better in front of a stack of Marshalls.

5) “Do It Again,” Nada Surf. I could listen to catchy, hooky, guitar-driven pop like this all day long. In fact, since I work at home, I often do. I also dig the nice unplugged version they do here. Video comentary: White-guy dreads are always a bad idea. Last weekend at Starbucks I got served by a very friendly, very competent clerk who had albino dreads, and I all I could think about was that it looked like he needed to wash his hair.

6) “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You,” Led Zeppelin. It vies with “Good Times, Bad Times” and “Communication Breakdown” as my favorite Zep tracks off the first album. They were soft-loud-soft-LOUD before being soft-loud-soft-LOUD was cool.

7) “Faster Gun,” The Wrens. I have no idea what this song is about, and yet that has no impact on my enjoyment of it. There’s a great Pixies vibe to it.

8) “Pot Kettle Black,” Wilco. I got tagged in a Facebook memo the other day—pick 15 albums that will always stick with you. The object was to reply quickly from the gut which I did. I didn’t put Yankee Hotel Foxtrot on it, and when I saw that another person had, I instantly regretted it, along with the other 75 albums that I regretted leaving off. Sometimes I think the thing I love the best about these lists is the second guessing.

9) “Watch Me Jumpstart,” Guided by Voices. The house band for not giving a fuck about getting old.

10) “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks,” The National. I say with absolute certainty that “Bloodbuzz Ohio” from the new National album will be on my best-of-the-year list, but the entire High Violet album is fantastic. A couple of weeks ago, after a terrible no-good day, I decided to chill out by laying on the bed, putting on headphones, and listening to this whole album (something I rarely do but should do more often). What’s incredible about The National is that they manage to have these intricate arrangements without losing the intimacy of their songs.

11) “Here’s Where the Strings Come In,” Superchunk. (no vid, but a cool piece on Merge Records, including a Grayson Currin appearance for Pinko and UC) They put out this album of the same name at the mid-point of their career, and it’s one of the best, most appropriate album titles ever. Because what do you do after a few albums of loud, wild, youthful punk exuberance? Keep doing the same act and wind up looking like The Ramones? No. At the same time, you don’t want to mellow so much that the Raleigh-Durham Orchestra presents a Symphonic Evening of Superchunk. Instead, you adapt, you grow, and you realize that adding a few strings can not only show maturity, but a little adventurousness, without throwing water on the youthful fire that powered you in the first place. So here’s where my strings come in.

Have a great, long weekend.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Ten-Year-Old Boy Looks Back on His First Decade With Regret

NAPERVILLE, IL - As Chandler Davis looked down at the ten burning candles rising out of his Transformers-decorated birthday cake, he made a wish: that he could go back in time and undo some of the life choices he had made during years zero to nine.

“When I was younger, I was a real poopie-head,” Davis said. “If I knew then what I know now...,” he added, letting the thought linger as he took a long pull on his Capri Sun.

Davis’s first decade of life is a story of regrets, lost loves, and lost economic opportunities, and it began literally with trauma. “The first thing I remember was my big brother Ross dropping me on my head,” Davis said. “We were playing Power Rangers and he picked me up and dropped me on the floor. Mom said I was hurt pretty bad. I guess that’s why I can’t remember anything before then.”

There were other distressing events—an accidental bathtub defecation during potty training, the death of a pet gerbil, Mr. Snuggles, and a traumatic 26-minute ordeal of being separated from his mother at the mall. “Being away from my mom for that long made me question if Jesus really loved me like grandma said.”

Those events paled in comparison to what lay ahead for Davis between the ages of eight and nine. It started with a girl named Montana.

“She was real pretty,” Davis recalled of classmate Montana Kowalski. “Blonde hair and blue eyes. She started in third grade ‘cause she moved from somewhere. I wanted to tell her I liked her but I was too shy.” The admission causes Davis to shake his head slowly.

“The popular girls like Dakota and Carly were really mean to her. My mom says it’s ‘cause of something called jealousy, where you want to be the other person but can’t ‘cause you’re ugly or something. They called her Montana Cooties, and the boys started saying that too.

“I didn’t say anything—gosh, how I wish I had—but I tried to be nice to her. One day I picked up a book she dropped and handed it to her. ‘Thanks, Chandler, you’re so nice,’ she said to me. Harrison and Liam and some of the other boys started laughing. I panicked and said, ‘You have cooties.’” Davis stopped to wipe his eyes.

“She transferred the next year. I never saw her again, but Phoebe and Monica said she’s like the most popular girl in school. And she could have been mine.”

The following summer, Davis was caught in the economic crunch rampaging through the newspaper industry. “My paper route got cancelled.” He attempted to help his brother Ross with his lawnmowing business, but an unfortunate sprinkler accident caused him to lose the job after one week.

A loveless, jobless, school-less Davis drowned his summer sorrows in breakfast cereal. “I started eating Trix and watching Nick all the time: Nick, Nick West, even Nick Jr.” But soon Trix weren’t enough—“they’re for kids, and I wanted something more hardcore”—and Davis turned to Coco Puffs. He developed a box-a-day habit. When his mother tried to get him to switch to Cheerios, Davis went off the deep end. “I’d do anything for sugar, even eat it out of the jar in the kitchen. It got so bad I couldn’t get out of bed without a couple of juice boxes and a Pixie Stick first.”

By the time fourth grade started, Davis was in a full downward spiral. His schoolwork suffered as he could only focus on getting sugar and what he would say to Ms. Kowalski if she had still been at his school. “I don’t even remember fractions, and we spent, like, three weeks on them,” Davis lamented. His friends began to shun him, causing Davis to seek companionship from anyone who would provide it.

“I was at my house playing Wii with Bobby Butterman,” Davis said. “I got mad ‘cause I rolled a gutterball in bowling, and I broke the nunchuck. My mom yelled and Butterman had to go home. When I invited him over again, he said he didn’t want to play with me.

“That’s when it hit me: Even ‘Stinky’ Butterman didn’t want to come over. I needed help.”

Davis turned to big brother Ross. “Chandler said, ‘Help me,’ and I said, ‘Help you do what, homo?’” Ross Davis said. “He said he had to get off sweets. So I came up with a plan: every time I saw him eating something sweet I punched him.”

The plan worked. Although the rehabilitation left his arms bruised and he suffered several debilitating Charlie Horses, Davis kicked sugar, even forgoing Christmas cookies for fresh fruits and vegetables. Aside from a brief relapse at Easter, which Ross fixed with a round of therapeutic noogies, Davis was finally sugar-free. “I allow myself a Capri Sun once a day,” Davis said, “but that’s it.” He also manages his sugar cravings with Trident gum.

He also found a new attraction, a girl named Hannah. “She’s awesome, even cuter than Montana. Plus, the other day when she said, ‘hi’ to me, I said ‘hi’ back. I think she likes me.”

While acknowledging recovery is a struggle, Davis remains optimistic. “My family has been awesome. My dad said I have to take it one day at a time. I asked him how else I could take it, and he told me not to be smart.” Still, Davis plans to learn from his mistakes. “When I become a teenager, I’m totally going to make all the right choices and not be a butt face like Ross.”

Then, with no one looking, he allowed himself a scoop of frosting from the birthday cake, letting his finger linger in his mouth until biting it after his brother punched him.