How I Cheer Up After Spending My Hours Writing About the Nazis

My books, and my writing in general, tends to go to dark places. Dismantle the Sun was all about cancer and loss. Summer of Long Knives is a tour through Hitler’s morally insane Reich. The best most of my characters can hope for is disappointment.

All of which may lead to a false impression, which I sometimes encourage to keep unwelcome strangers out of my orbit and to burnish my all-important tormented artist reputation, that I’m a grim person, a living black cloud, a bummer in old tennis shoes. At the risk of blowing my darkness cred, I’m going reveal (some of) the ways I cheer myself up after a day wandering the bleaker precincts of my mind.

Harry Belafonte’s “Turn the World Around” (Muppets version):

I first saw this when I was a young kid. The tune, and the puppets designed for the segment, have stuck in my mind ever since. On some days, it saves my life.

Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip

Stand up comedy matters to me in the same way rock bands do for music fans or Star Trek matters to…well…me again. Live On the Sunset Strip demonstrates Pryor’s incredible gift for finding the funny in both the inspirational and the frightful aspects of his own life. It doesn’t feel like he’s doing a bit up there. He’s just talking, and it’s your privilege to listen.

Super Bowl XI: Raiders defeat Vikings

It’s been a long decade for my beloved Raiders, and given the current state of the team, I expect it’ll be at least another ten before simple competence again wears silver and black. But once upon a time, the Raiders were the  most consistent winners in pro football, and 1977 finally saw them capture a title.

Se Voul Ballare from The Marriage of Figaro:

It’s often necessary to believe, when faced with the powerful and unjust, that it’s possible to conquer them through subtlety and wit. That’s why I love this aria.

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Sometimes the best cure for a day spent with the Nazis is a night with a movie whose MacGuffin melts their faces off.

What, you were expecting sunshine on my shoulders?

Have a nice weekend.

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