If Shakespeare Played Halo, Hamlet and Ophelia Would Have Lived Happily Ever After

And other answers to unsolicited questions.

“Dude, have you been to an ATM lately? How come we have to keep our card stuck in the little machine reader now? I mean, what the hell good is technology if we have to keep our cards stuck in machines all the time?” — Angry Angie

Technology is supposed to make things better, not worse. So why are people going back to playing vinyl records? Some things were fine the way they were. Like my old powder blue Chevrolet station wagon with the Violent Femmes’ first album stuck in the cassette player. That car was terrific and that’s a great record and everything should have frozen in time back then. Sadly we have not created a time-freezing device. And if we did create a time-freezer it would probably rise up and steal all our Violent Femmes records. Of which the first one is the best and the one you’d miss the most.

Why would you put your card into this maw? (Photo: Aaron Poffenberger/Flickr)

Machines are supposed to make our lives better, but they can be such jerks. As we’ve seen in the documentary Battlestar Galactica, machines aren’t grateful to humans for building them. They are angry as hell, like whacked-out teenagers. And their plan to one day disguise themselves as beautiful women is foolproof. Humans will be completely wiped out! And the machines are getting smarter. They’re better at chess, Halo, Go, Jeopardy! and sex than humans already. If one day a machine can aimlessly lay around in its underwear all day then I, too, will be replaced!

I have a feeling the new bank ATM card readers are some kind of response to the whole “We Hate Bankers” thing going on in America now. “Oh, you hate bankers? Well we hate customers.” You ever actually ever waited in line at the bank? They don’t even have lollipops anymore! And if they do they have hidden them so they can eat them all themselves, when the customers are gone. The line at the bank is endless and insane, like some kind of Beckett play. It makes you yearn to use their insane machines. Which is just what the machines want.

As a bookstore cashier, I can tell you that this new chip technology is flat-out for the birds. It never works, you have to stick it in there for like 5 minutes. Swiping was fun! Tapping was fun! Sticking and waiting is brutal. Whenever I borrow Ben’s card to go buy myself booze at the store, they stick it in and read the chip. And then later Ben will ask me “Why is there a $30 tequila charge on my card?” Nothing is secure. Not chips, not swiping. Retina scans, possibly. Until I figure out a way to borrow Ben’s retinas while he is asleep.

Take all of your money out of the bank, roll it up like a drug dealer and put it in a refried beans can in your cupboard. This way the banks will all go broke. And your money will smell like delicious refried beans, which is a massive improvement.

When I was growing up, ATM cards were sucked straight into ATMs, for safe keeping in its ATM belly. This chomping-down on cards is definitely a step in the wrong direction. Just another reason for us to overthrow the banks, get rid of money, stop wearing clothes around and listening to Violent Femmes records all day instead of working. Now that would be a revolution.

“I fell pretty hard for this older guy this election cycle. Now they are telling me he’s not going to be president, and it makes me feel bad. I did nothing but post to facebook about this guy for a year. I blame my friends! I’m so angry! What should I do?” — Rigged System Ricky

No one ever said that voting was going to be fun. And for some reason we only really care about the election that means the least to us. Does who is president of the United States make as big a difference in your daily life as who is your mayor or city councilperson? It’s a pain to wake up every day and see someone on TV and be like “I can’t believe that person is president.” But we’ve mostly had crazy wackos become president. Like, almost exclusively.

Really, the best way to get through anything is to stop giving a fuck. If you don’t care, you won’t feel bad when things go completely sideways in the world. Believing in things, falling in love, thinking you’ve earned or deserve something: these things will always end up making you feel lousy. The things you love will betray you. The things you believe in will end up getting watered down by compromise and you’ll feel like a jerk. And no one deserves anything.

Just don’t worry about these levers. (Photo: Sam Felder/Flickr)

Should you blame your friends for not electing your favorite candidates? I mean, maybe. Maybe your friends are horrible voters. But, unfortunately, that’s what democracy is all about: people voting for terrible leaders. Is the system rigged? All systems are rigged. Nothing is fair and we will all die alone.

I feel worst for the people who majored in Political Science in college with the hopes of someday becoming one of those wise pundits on TV shows. That degree is even more worthless than the one I got studying sex poetry. Shrugging on TV is now the correct answer to most questions. But being angry is useful for a while. Use that energy well. Possibly you will create some great art, or some really sick burns on Twitter and Facebook. Don’t think of all that hard work you did on Facebook as a failure. If anything survives of us and our age it will be all the dumb crap on Facebook we hardly meant.

“I feel like I watch too much TV and I want to get back to reading. But all of the TV out there is so good! What can I do to feel better about the life choices I am making?” — Bookish Brett

If Jane Austen had Netflix, she never would have written anything ever. I mean, can you imagine? She’d be completely blown away to have all those episodes of “Alf” at the touch of a button. Herman Melville would have written episode recaps instead of Moby Dick. Books, like the theater and monkeys playing accordions, are on their way out. Someone will soon make a TV show about them all, which will be great. I would watch any show that had a monkey in it.

Remember these things? (Photo: waffleboy/Flickr)

Turn the closed captions on your TV while you’re watching and read, read, read your way through the Golden Age of American Binge Streaming. Your life choices are fine. If Shakespeare had played Halo, Hamlet and Ophelia would have lived happily ever after.

Jim Behrle lives in Jersey City and works at a bookstore.