All kidding aside, the slogan — “the harder the life, the sweeter the song” — isn’t half bad. There’s a vein of truth in that. Unless, of course, your definition of a hard life is one poisoned by constant slurps of bourbon and 40 to 50 cigarettes daily, which isn’t so much a “hard” life as much as a slow, drawn-out attempt to extinguish life altogether while making difficult if not miserable the lives of family and friends.

As the son of an emotionally curt, often grumpy alcoholic for my first 28 or 29 years of life, I have a certain understanding.